Saturday, September 29, 2012

Jesus' Call to Discipleship

From Hans Bayer's, "A Theology of Mark".

"Jesus' call to discipleship reverses the fall of man and involves a renewed dependence upon God. Jesus' arrival triggers a culminating process of God's pursuing his people and calling them to himself. Discipleship is thus a reality both in the context of creation and fall as well as in the context of redemptive-historical renewal. Jesus arises as the climatic fulfillment of God's redemptive plan that was inaugurated in Genesis 3:15. He calls his disciples into a dependent relationship which reverses the primeval fall of man away from walking with God. The ultimate antidote to such autonomy and resistance is dependent upon God's grace, based on Jesus' atonement (Mark 10:45). The call to discipleship is thus a call to reliance on Jesus for restoration of life with God rather than on autonomous human effort."

Bayer, Hans F. A Theology of Mark: The Dynamic Between Christology and Authentic Discipleship. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 2012), 61-62. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

You Are That Very Person

Good post from Erik Most, not to mention, a great quote from Charles Spurgeon's blog inspiring book, 'All Of Grace'. 


I have no gospel to preach to the self-righteous, no, not a word, Jesus Christ Himself came not to call the righteous, and i am not going to do what he did not do, No, I ask you rather to look at that righteousness of yours till you see what a delusion it is. It is not half so substantial as a cobweb. Be finished with it! Flee it!

"They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick" (Mark 2:17). Is it not equally clear that the great remedies of grace and redemption are for the sick in soul? They cannot be for the whole, for they cannot be of use to such. If you feel that you are spiritually sick, the Physician has come into the world for you. If you are altogether undone by reason of your sin, you are the very person aimed at in the plan of salvation. I say that the Lord of love had precisely such as you in his eye when he arranged the system of grace.

He that is a dirty sinner is the kind of man that Jesus Christ came to make clean, Come in your disorder. Come to your heavenly Father in all your sin and sinfulness. come to Jesus just as you are: leprous, filthy, naked. Come, though despair is brooding over you, pressing upon your chest like a horrible nightmare.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Being Clean

"It's not what goes into your body that defiles you; 
you are defiled by what comes from your heart."
Mark 7:15

One of the many reasons I love Mark's account of Jesus' life is the way Mark depicts Jesus as confrontational. From the very beginning of Mark, Jesus comes proclaiming the Kingdom of God. In doing so, he confronts our tendency to make ourselves the king of our own little kingdom. He challenges our reality by confronting our misconceptions of who we are, and who we think God is. 

One passage in which Jesus does this is in Mark 7:1-23. You see, going all the way back in the Old Testament, there is a big problem. Because humankind fell into sin, we cannot come into the presence of God unless we are clean (spotless, without blemish, blameless, without sin). In fact, this is a very big deal to God. That is why in Leviticus there are extensive rules about cleanliness and purity. That is why  there was a day of atonement once a year, and the high priest who was to go before God and atone for the sins of the people had to spend a week preparing himself, washing himself, making sure he was clean. 

This may seem odd, but think of it this way. When we go to meet an important person or have an important event, we also prepare for it. We will take a shower, get a haircut, put on make up, wear our nicest clothes, etc... The same goes for how we are supposed to approach God.

Imagine you own a house. It is perfectly white. It is painted white on the outside, the carpet is white, all the couches are white, the walls are white, the tables are white; everything is bright shining white. Now imagine a person covered in mud comes to your door and wants to come in. It's not going to happen. This is also a reality between us and God. This is why there were the Old Testament purity laws. 

And this is where Mark 7 comes in. Jesus, interacting with the pharisees, confronts their misconceptions. In this passage, the Pharisees had a problem because Jesus' disciples weren't following the traditional purity laws. For example, they weren't washing their hands before they ate, they don't wash their cups and plates the proper way. For the pharisees, this was how we maintained our purity before God. 

I love how Jesus challenges the Pharisees. He doesn't come at them attacking their zeal to be pure. Rather, he gets at the heart of the problem (literally and figuratively). Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah and says to them, 
"These people honor me with their lips, 
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is farce, 
for they teach man-made ideas as the commands from God" Mark 7:6-7

The problem was that the pharisees thought they could make themselves clean by their own actions. They thought they could be pure before God through religious acts. Jesus confronts this by stating the real problem. The real problem isn't that on the outside they are unclean or impure, it's that their hearts are jacked up. The real problem is a heart problem. The pharisees may have performed religious acts of cleanliness, but their hearts were filthy. 

At this point, it's easy to point at the pharisees and jeer at their ignorance. However, we are not any different. We may not look to Old Testament laws to save face before God, but in some way, shape, form, or fashion, we are all trying to become clean before God. We all look to 'DO" something in order to make us right, to give us worth, or to give our existence significance. 

And this is is where Jesus speaks to us. By confronting the Pharisees, Jesus is telling us that the thing that really makes us unclean is our heart. The problem isn't the externals as much as it is the internal. Further, this is a problem we ALL have. It isn't just the Pharisees. It is us! And as long as we are looking to "DO" something to fix it, it will never work. We could never possibly clean ourselves up enough to be perfectly pure before the eyes of God. 

Back to the white house example (not the presidents home, but a house that is purely white). What Jesus is saying is that while we are standing outside the house that is sparkling white, we could never scrub hard enough to make ourselves worthy for entrance. It doesn't matter what we try to use (religion included), it won't work. What we need is a heart transplant from the inside out. 

This is where the good news of the gospel comes in. When Jesus came to earth and died, he essentially came and lived the pure, clean life that we should have lived, and he died the death of someone who was impure. He did this is substitution for our uncleanliness. Further, because he was the only one who lived a truly pure life, he offers to us his very life. He sees us sitting outside the white house, scrubbing hard, and says to us, "That will never work. But receive me. I will make you clean from the inside out. I can get you on the VIP guest list into the white house." And with one touch, we are made clean. Further, he stays by our side, continuing to transform our hearts from those of stone, to those who desire to walk with and worship the living God. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Solid Insight

"What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

- A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

The Freedom to Stop Pretending

"Because of the gospel we have nothing to prove or protect. Only the gospel gives us the freedom to stop pretending"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Ocean of Glorious Truth

A quote from John Piper found in the video I posted yesterday.

"Give yourself to this. It's my plea! Give yourself to this. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. Pray that God would show you these things in his word. Swim in the Bible everyday. Don't just give it a little touch before you leave to do what you really like to do. Swim in the Bible everyday. It is an ocean of bright, glorious, weighty, all-satisfying truth from the one from whom you were made!"

Something I need to be reminded of, and something I long to return to.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Supremacy of Christ

All I can say is wow! Please, please, please watch this. There is no other proper response to the magnificence, glory, and supremacy of Christ other than falling on our faces in humble adoration and worship.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Are We Preaching Christ or Talking About Christ?

Sobering words and a great reminder from Ray Ortlund. I always appreciate Ray's zeal for Christ and His gospel to be exalted. Read the original post here. 

“My wife always says the most important thing about the man as a preacher was, you didn’t notice him.  He came quietly into the pulpit, started quietly, and then something seemed to happen, and then you became absorbed in what he was saying. . . .
‘We beseech you, in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God’ (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Spirit-filled preaching — the preacher is in the background.  And something happens.  The worshiper, by the grace of God, is being spoken to by God and by the Word of God.  So Lloyd-Jones would often say, the difference between talking about Christ and preaching Christ, or talking about the gospel and actually preaching the gospel.  It’s a comparatively easy thing to talk about the gospel, but to really preach it is another thing. . . .
So many preachers have to start their sermon with a nice little anecdote or something interesting, to catch people’s attention.  That is a condemnation of the whole service.  If the service has really been in the presence of God, you don’t need to catch anyone’s attention. . . .
I love that quotation of John Knox.  It’s really a definition of the Reformation: ‘God gave his Holy Spirit to simple men in great abundance.’”
Recent 9Marks audio, Iain Murray interviewed by Mark Dever on “The Pastoral Practices of Martyn Lloyd-Jones.”
Are we pastors even thinking in these categories?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Checking Yourself In

Then David confessed to Nathan, 
"I have sinned against the LORD."
2 Samuel 12:13

These are David's words following his horrendous actions in committing adultery with Bathsheba and then essentially killing her husband. To top it off, David lied and tried to cover the whole thing up before coming clean. 

This verse is also a bite-size preview of Psalm 51, wherein David confesses and repents to the LORD. The reason I love this story is because I think it gives a good snapshot of what Christianity is really about. This story shows one of the Bible's most Godly characters (David) fall into complete and utter sin and despair. It shows a hero of the faith fall.

But herein lies the beauty of the gospel. Where the seeming "hero" falls (David), the true Hero of the story is brought to center stage. The gospel is not about cleaning yourself up, hiding your sin, covering up your brokenness, or your own personal spiritual strength. Quite the opposite actually. It is about how we are all like David; ruined, broken, weak sinners who are in need of a divine act of grace on our behalf. The gospel is about us being honest with our sickness, sin, evil, and brokenness, and then turning and clinging to the only one who can actually save us. It is about looking to the true Hero for forgiveness and new life.

Think about it terms of a drug addict. It would simply be stupid for a drug addict,who is obviously addicted to keep living their lives as if they don't have a problem. It would be futile for them to attempt to clean themselves up on the outside, so they appear to be 'clean', but on the inside, they are still sick and addicted. The only solution is for them to ditch their delusion, be honest with themselves and realize they are jacked up and desperately need help. The solution is to check themselves in to rehab. Likewise, we are addicted to sin. We might not have killed anyone of committed adultery as David had, but I have absolutely no doubt, that if you look at your life honestly, and compare it to God's standard of love, truthfulness, compassion, and justice, you will cringe at your sickness. Like a delusional drug addict, our tendency is to live our lives as one big cover up. We try so hard to hide the inner sickness of sin that is ruining our lives. We try to cover up our inner brokenness with big houses, fashionable clothes, successful careers, relationships, alcohol, sports, the latest gadgets, and the list goes on and on. Our tendency is to cover ourselves up and save face, rather than be real with the situation.

The beauty of the gospel is that we no longer have to save face. You no longer have to cover up all the crap in your life. There is healing. There is redemption from this addiction and enslavement of sin. There is a solution. The solution is Jesus. Christ's death and resurrection on our behalf is the only solution.  All it takes is being honest with yourself, and checking yourself into rehab (yes that's a Lecrae reference :). All it takes is knowing your absolute need for him. Like David, when he was finally honest with himself, and turned and confessed to God, it was there he experienced what Christianity is really about.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Trusting and Treasuring Jesus

This one from Scotty Smith was too good not to share with you all.....

 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him [Jesus] will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. 1 Pet. 2:6-7 
     But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Phil 3:7-11
     Dear Lord Jesus, our world hangs the word precious, on things it deems of great and lasting worth. Thus we have precious metals, like silver, gold, and platinum; or precious gemstones, such as diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. But if anything or anyone deserves the appellation “precious,” it’s you, Lord Jesus—God’s chosen cornerstone and precious capstone of our redemption.
     For the combined worth of all precious metals and gemstones, that have ever existed, does not compare with the unsearchable riches that are found only in you. Compared to you, Lord Jesus, all other treasures are wanna-be imitations and fool’s gold, empty trifles and illusionary nothings; even as Paul says, they are to be counted as dung and rubbish, when compared to you and the inestimable privilege of knowing you.
     To trust and treasure you, Lord Jesus, is to be free from the burden of our guilt and the condemnation of our sin. To trust and treasure you, Jesus is to boast in the gift of your righteousness, to rest in the constancy of your love, to wake up each day to your endless mercies, to hear you sing to us in the gospel. To trust and treasure you is to feel the stranglehold of shame lose its grip over our hearts; it’s to have the idols of our hearts exposed and dethroned; it’s to be set free to love as we are loved, to forgive as we’ve been forgiven, to accept others as you accept us .
     Jesus, we praise you for taking the guilt of our sin and the shame of our brokenness on the cross. You became sin for us that in you we might become righteousness of God. Because of you, judgment day holds no terror. The cross was our judgment day, and that day has come and come. We no longer fear the gaze of God because of the grace of God we have in you.
     May you become more and more precious to us, Jesus. May the gospel continue to change the price tags on everything in our world. May yesterday’s values be considered today’s loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing you. So very Amen we pray in your glorious and grace-full name.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Consider Your Oneness with Jesus

I recently heard an interview with Billy Graham a few years ago. He was asked to give advice to the younger generations, and comment on what he would have done differently in his life if given the chance to go back and do it again. Simply, he said something like, "I would spend more time just meditating on Jesus, and in prayer."

These words by C.H. Spurgeon in All of Grace reminded me of that exhortation..

"Deeply contemplate this partnership with the Son of God unto which you have been called, for all your hope lies there. You can never be poor while Jesus is rich, because you are as in one firm with Him. Want can never assail you, since you are joint-proprietor with Him, who is Possessor of heaven and earth. You can never fail. Though one of the partners in the firm is as poor as a church mouse, an utter bankrupt who could not pay even a small amount of his heavy debts, yet the other Partner is inconceivably, inexhaustibly rich. In such partnership, you are raised above the depression of the times, the changes of the future, and the shock of the end of all things...Christ and the believing sinner are in the same boat. Unless Jesus sinks, the believer will never drown. Jesus has taken His redeemed into such connection with Himself that He must first be struck down, overcome, and dishonored before the least of His purchased ones can be injured. His name is at the head of the firm, and because He cannot be dishonored, we are secure against all dread of failure."


When tired, when scared...I urge you not to search inside yourself for answers or for comfort or for strength. It doesn't work. Consider your oneness with Jesus.

Life's Most Important Question

"And on the way, he (Jesus) asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that I am?'
And they told him, 'John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.'
And he asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?'
Peter answered, 'You are the Christ.'"
Mark 8:27-29

This is the most important question of life. Who do you say Jesus is? Who do you actually claim him to be? Many say he's a good teacher. Many say he's a wise man. Many think he's their 'homeboy'. Many think he is a nice religious figure.

But is He your Christ? Can you say that He is your Savior? Does the deepest conviction of your heart scream out that He is the one and only Savior who is the Son of God? What does your life show? How does the life you live answer this question? Does it proclaim that Jesus is your Christ? That He is your everything. Or does it reveal that Jesus is really just a percentage on a pie chart called your 'life'?

Questions worth considering. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Man in the Mirror

Here is a song by an artist by the name of Canon. In my opinion, he is one of the most talented, creative, and innovative rappers I've ever heard (and yes, I consider myself a well informed rap fan). In this song, called "Man in the Mirror", Canon does an exceptional job at uncovering the radical insecurities we all face. The song is a conversation Canon is having with 'the man in the mirror'. Through his own testimony, he captures the ways in which we all try to cover up our deep brokenness and insecurities with superficial masks. Further, this song exposes just how exhausting this constant battle for inner significance can be.

Whether we cover up our insecurities with make up, new shoes, fashionable clothes, a new car, success at our job, being 'cool', humor, or being trendy, when we honestly look at the man (or woman) in the mirror, we can't escape our constant  quest to be somebody. The question is, are you going to cover your insecurities with a superficial mask, or look to the One who can give true security and true life. Are you going to run on the treadmill of insecurity, or find rest and purpose in God.

I know many of you might pass this over because its rap, but at least read the lyrics if you can. The last verse is where he goes off.

I guess We wasnt suppose to see 
The things from underneath 
we wasn't suppose to find 
What lies beneath the sheets 
I guess We wasnt suppose to see 
The things from underneath 
we wasn't suppose to find 
What lies beneath the sheets 

He hopped up out the bed 
Cuz he was so afraid 
He remember what that man behind the mirror had said 

He saw behind the smoke 
He saw behind the shades
The man in the mirror spoke to him and then he said then he said 

I guess We wasnt suppose to see 
The things from underneath 
we wasn't suppose to find 
What lies beneath the sheets 

Can I ask you something?
Can I have your thoughts?
Do you like my chain?
Do you like my watch?
What about my shoes?
Take a look at this hat I bought
Just tryna be a little up with culture 
So It's a couple things I had to cop 

Man I know they like them 
You Better not start frontin 
You think im fly 
I call it stuntin 
Imma call your bluff 
Im on my parachute status 
You Can't touch this, oops!
Look at em now ( look at em)
Hes so immature, always gotta a lot to say
Man he must be insecure, Plus I can prove it 
Look at how he dress, Tryna be that cool brotha 
But he just that hot mess

Easy target, don't get me started
Steady Driving craes car, When really he takes the Marta
What he trying to prove? 
Who ya trying to impress?
When an act gets old to the crowd you perform in front of what happens next 

I can see past the clothes and the jokes now 
Yous a fake yous a fraud oh we know now 
Every gimmick you put up, we will throw down 
Yea we gone shatter every tower in yo town 

Man I know that I'm insecure, Do really You think I wanna walking around like this 
I'm tired and I'm sick and tired man I'm sick and tired of tryna please everybody I'm tired this tired of this 
From the morning when I'm picking out my clothes 
To the moment when I walk up out that door
My pride is shooting up to the roof top
While the self esteem finds its way to floor 
Man I know I got problems, And I ain't Finna sit and try to hide em 
So I am take this beat and just ride it 
And tell the world what I've been finding 
You done seen my issues, Insecure but I'm not gonna sit through 
Another day where I cant break The habit where I try to please anybody 
Now I gotta break loose 

Growing is so hostile its seeming freaking impossible, you trying to TAKE the time to mature but satan a rob you,
Facebook it listen Im done spread it on twitter, im taking back my life im a growing indian giver cuz one day canon will get up
Say goodbye to dat picture, personally separate the simpleton split up, personality changing the old canon I trashed that, this a monster who's trashing his sin and wrapped it dads bag so the bomb over bagdad no it isn't as bad as, the bomb ima drop on the last nerve I just had,
Im tryna grow to be Godly before I pass out, I started out spazing but skip it im getting spazed out

Im sick of this beast, I need a leash no more sitting, as I get murdered under the sheets cuz this struggle is undercover and its giving me grief, bloody painful Cane I feel so un Able to cease it believe that

Every accessorie that I put on, is like holloween its just a tool to cover what's wrong. Insecurity sits up under like cob is under corn, I just want to break its teeth and be free to see where im goin

So ashamed of this naked revelation kinda like its porn, if the problem gets any deeper then inside itl get torn,
but im already torn I just try to hide the issue, I got so much crap in my heart Im a need more than tissue (tissue)

But im like a pistol getting ready kill the problem,
my adrenaline rush gotta little bit of buz from lookin into the closet of problems and I got options well really one option is to be honest and see how God has been glorified with myself as the target.
My struggle is pride its so deep down inside and im tired of_ the entire way im inclined, I just wanna see such perfection I know im just a bride im the opposite of my husband he's perfect, he's a lion

King lion and I aint lying really im sick of trying, I know I aint perfect at being perfect cuz im blind, I notice my instincts knowing that yes yall my end stinks my entire fesaud is my account, its empty.

So lord build me higher than what bob was building
Raise me, to the bar higher than all ceilings
Sky is never my limit since my fathers the real thing
So im burning this mask so can you witness the real me.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Justification by Faith and Justice

"Justification by faith alone and working for justice in this broken world have EVERYTHING to do with one another. Faith working itself out in love is what matters most."

Tim Keller

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Pattern of Worship

"Through the ages, the common pattern of the order of worship in the church reflects the pattern of the progress of the gospel in the heart. The gospel first affects the heart by enabling us to recognize who God is. When we truly understand the glory of his holiness, then we also recognize who we really are and confess our need of him. The gospel then assures us of the grace the he provides, and our hearts respond in both thanksgiving and humble petition for his aid so that we an give proper devotion to him. In response to our desire for his aid, God provides his Word. We heed his instruction, knowing that we live for him. The common liturgy of the church through the ages reflects this sequential flow of the gospel in our hearts."

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice. Grand 

Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2009.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Like One of the King's Own Son's

"And from that time on, Mephibosheth ate regularly at David's table,
like one of the king's own sons."
2 Samuel 9:11

Who is this Mephibosheth guy? A little background on this verse. Mephibosheth was the grandson of Saul. Yes, this is the same Saul who tried to kill King David. Because Mephibosheth was from the household of Saul, David, by law, legally had the right to kill him. So, first of all, Mephibosheth was a man who deserved death. Some more background; Mephibosheth was crippled in both feet. In other words, he was completely helpless and useless. He was an outcast. So here is Mephibosheth, who by law deserves a traitors death, and who by his own recognition in 2 Samuel 9:8, describes himself as a "dead dog". 

As the story goes, David, rather than killing Mephibosheth, rather than bypassing him as a social outcast, actively seeks to show him mercy and kindness. 2 Samuel 9 begins, "One day David asked, 'Is anyone in Saul's family still alive-anyone to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan's sake?'" (2 Samuel 9:1). Where nothing but judgement was deserved, David delighted in, and sought to show mercy and kindness. 

The reason I love this passage (and am doing a Bible study on it tomorrow night, Wednesday) is not that it shows how great of a guy David is. It is because what David did for Mephibosheth is strikingly similar to what God does for us. David takes a dead dog, and brings him to the King's table, and adopts him as a beloved son. God takes us, sinners, who rightfully deserve death,  who are crippled and unable to help ourselves, who are outcasts, and offers us mercy and kindness. He takes dead dogs and makes us into true sons and daughters of the King. That is too good to be true! But the good news is that, yes, it is true. We are Mephibosheth. We are poor, crippled, broken, sinful people. But God's love and mercy are greater. Only the power of the gospel can take us from dead dogs to those who are "like one of the King's own sons." (2 Samuel 9:11)

What is a Disciple?

What is a disciple? I think Dallas Willard offers a helpful definition. 

"A person who by the power of the Spirit has arranged their life under the life and teachings of Jesus"

A couple quick things that I like about this definition. 
  1. A person does not become a disciple by their own power. It is God's gracious initiative. It is by the Spirit's power that we grow. 
  2. Discipleship is arranges your LIFE. We have tendency to compartmentalize our spiritual life and our normal life, or our church life and our during the week life. Discipleship flows into all areas of life. It is all encompassing. It is an overarching identity. 
  3. At the heart of discipleship is being under the life of Jesus. We are disciples by virtue of our union with Christ. As a disciple, our new life is found in Christ.  We are united to his death, wherein our old self is dead, and united in his resurrection, where we now have new life. If you want to see this. Read Paul's letters (especially Ephesians). 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Two Things Jesus Knew

"Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, "Why do John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisee's fast, but your disciples do not fast?" And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day." Mark 2:18-20

Some people like to think that Jesus was just a good moral teacher; a really nice guy who was a great leader. This passage reveals a couple things that Jesus thought about himself. He knew who he was, and that he was going to die. 

Figuratively, Jesus knew he was the bridegroom. He was the Son of God and the awaited Savior. He also knew the reason why he came. He came to die. The culmination of his mission was to defeat death by dying a substitutionary death for his people. When you read the gospel's this way, listening to what Jesus thought and knew about himself, the stories make much more sense. His whole life,  his eyes must have been fixed on his mission. He wasn't aimlessly living life trying to help people when he could. He was on a mission; he had a purpose. He was much more than a moral teacher. He was and is the Savior of the world. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Comfort in the Valley

Most recent Bible study from Rebirth: East St. Louis (ministry I work with).

Check it out: "Comfort in the Valley"

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Brian Regan On Grace

Not sure if there are any Brian Regan fans who read this, but I randomly came across this post from Barnabas Piper (yes, that is the son of John Piper) where he expounds on a Brian Regan comedy bit. First off, the clip from Brian Regan is absolutely hilarious and is a stunningly accurate picture of our self centeredness. Second, Piper does a fantastic job of using this video to expound on gospel truths. For your entertainment and edification, I encourage you to check it out.

Brian Regan On Grace

Hallelujah, What A Savior!

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Gospel Drama in Worship

"In worship, we are invited into God’s holy presence as adopted sons and daughters of whom he is not ashamed because of Christ’s work on our behalf. We come adoring and praising him for his goodness, greatness, and grace. We come confessing our sins and looking to him for forgiveness and strength. We come making requests on behalf of ourselves and others in prayer. We praise and admonish and pray through song. We rejoice in the work of God’s grace in one another as we hear the gospel story expressed through the lives of fellow believers. We profess enthusiastically together what we believe. We listen to God’s Word read, proclaimed, and applied. We offer our lives and our substance to him. We baptize new converts and children of believers as he adds to our number. We gather in table fellowship remembering what Christ has done in his atoning, sacrificial death in our place. We receive his good word in the benediction as he sends us forth to live as salt and light for his glory in every area of life. We are captured and transformed into greater Christ-likeness by the gospel drama represented in a carefully planned worship service that proclaims that gospel story afresh each week."

Mark Dalbey, "Gospel-Centered Worship." 171-172. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

What is the Bible?

"The Bible is an organic, progressive, unfolding, dramatic story of God creating and then redeeming a people who have intimate fellowship with him and with one another."

Mark Dalbey in "Gospel-Centered Worship and Regulative Principle"

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Bad News From God

A couple nights ago my professor made the statement that "it is better to hear bad news from God than good news that is untrue."

This got me thinking to the common trend of our culture verses God's revelation of himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The trend of the culture is to mask our sin with relativism. Its mantras are: There is no real right or wrong, true and untrue. No one has the right to tell you you're wrong. Do what what feels good to you. Experience and feeling is more important than reality. You are your own god. Your own personal freedom of choice is more valuable than truth.

Compare this to what God reveals in Jesus Christ. The gospel (good news) is that Jesus did come, and with that comes bad news first. In fact, there is no good news without the bad news. The bad news is that we are wrong. There is One True God, and our entire beings are prone to wander. The bad news is that we are not god, and that one day, we will bow down before the King, whether willingly out of joy, or begrudgingly out of mandate. The bad news, as Romans put it, is that:

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools." Romans 1:21-22

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." Romans 3:10-11

Just a reminder, this bad news is talking about us, not some other group of people. This is us.

But, this is a preface to the good news; the good news that Jesus Christ, who is the unique Son of God, has come to reverse this bad news. He has come to change it. Jesus bore our bad news, so that we could repent and receive the good news. Jesus took all of our unrighteousness, all of our evil, all of our foolishness and wickedness upon himself, so that we could receive his righteousness.

However, this is only possible when we accept the bad news. Receiving Christ means acknowledging the truth (often the ugly truth) about ourselves (as told in Romans 1 and 3). It is here that true freedom is found, true love experienced, and true life lived.