Why did God have to become a baby?
Daddy, your eyelashes look girly.
A little dinner conversation with my daughter
- I finished my first week on a Paleo diet and here's how the conversation went at dinner with my 5 y/o daughter
- Daughter: [Sniffing crescent roll] Mmmmm. Smells sooo good. Do YOU want some, daddy?
- Me: No thank you, sweetie.
- Daughter: Smells like butter, and cream. Like butter cream. [Waves the crescent roll toward me]
Jesus’ Call to Come to Him - Part 1
This past weekend, I had the privilege of preaching in church for the very first time. I had the distinct pleasure of dividing God’s word to three services and was well received by all. In this and the next two posts, I want to share what I preached and what I learned as I studied Scripture in preparation for my inaugural sermon. I’ve changed the first point in the sermon slightly, though the content is the same. The sermon was drawn from Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus calls sinners to new life
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus calls the heavy laden and worn out to come to Him. I can remember going about a task in an inefficient manner and hearing someone ask, “Why are you doing it that way?” The prophet Isaiah says it this way: “Why do you spend your money on that which is not food, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2) The truth is, we do things our own way because we believe we can do it better. In verse 29, Jesus uses the image of a yoke to describe the means of righteousness we seek to make us right with God. You see, we are all yoked by something. Jews in that day were yoked under the Law and were constantly reminded of that fact by the Pharisees. Jesus, in essence, is saying that the current yoke we’re tied to is inefficient and only serves to wear us down and make us weary, and in Him is something different, something better.
So, what do we yoke ourselves with today? In what ways to we say to God, “We can do it ourselves; our way is better”? Career, financial success, relationships, doing good—all these things serve as functional saviors in leiu of Christ. And, they don’t satisfy. Climbing the corporate ladder never seems like enough. There’s no such thing as enough money. People will inevitably let us down. And, we cannot do enough good for God to count us righteous.
At the end of the day, when we look back and realize our efforts are in vain, we’re left weary and heavy laden. Jesus not only calls us to follow Him, he also promises rest in doing so. Every one of us is looking for satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Such joy is found only in Jesus. His grace is enough (2 Cor. 12:9); in Him is true riches (Eph. 3:16); He is a true friend (John 15:3); His righteousness is sufficient when all ours are as filthy rags (Rom 3:21-26; Isa. 64:6). He commands only that we trust Him and follow Him. Our lives given to Him in exchange for eternal life with Him.
If you labor and are heavy laden, answer the call from Jesus and find true rest for your soul. Repent of your sin and trust in the perfect sacrifice made on your behalf by the one who will never fail you. He’s calling you. Will you answer?
When I Grow Up
I was cleaning out my Google Drive and I came across this document I wrote on October 9, 2011. I thought I’d share it here:
I feel a burden. I’ve felt it for a long time. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment the feeling appeared, but, I know when it became more persistent.
When I lived on Fort Belvoir I remember coming home and talking with Krista about how I’m dissatisfied with my job and how I want to do something more in line with my faith. I want to be directly involved with ministering to the lost—and to the found. Making the gospel known among the lost and solidifying it among the found has been on my heart for so long.
I cannot get enough of my Bible. Sure, I could read it more than I do, but even when I’m not reading it, I’m yearning for its truth. Any opportunity to discuss the things of God is a welcome opportunity to me. Two weeks out of every month I teach an adult Sunday School class and I love it. I could do it more often and that would suit me just fine. Happiness to me is time spent with my family, time spent studying God’s word, and time spent delivering God’s word to God’s people.
This weekend my eyes were opened to a startling fact. Day after day American people mill about entertaining themselves without so much as a care concerning eternity. I say this broadly as though I know the thoughts of every American, but I don’t. What I see points to that conclusion, however. The attitudes, speech, manner of dress, values, etc. all speak to priorities which do not include God and His word. This is the world in which we live and it’s getting worse each day.
The world I can understand, but God’s house is another issue entirely. While on vacation, Krista and I spent our Sunday morning in a Baptist church where the name of Jesus was spoken only by way of Hymns and the Lord’s Supper was served to anyone willing to partake. Scripture was read, songs were sung, but the feeling that the service was hollow and lacking the Holy Spirit was pervasive. I heard a startling statistic about how thousands of churches will close their doors each year and that made me incredibly sad. Now I’m worried that those whose doors remain open are as dead as those whose doors are closed.
I love the Lord. I’m grateful for His salvation. I have nothing to offer except my life in return for the grace shown me. Knowing my passion for God’s word and for it to be made known to all nations, all peoples, near or abroad, leads me to a crossroads in my life. Will I continue on the path set before me or will I engage this battle head on? Am I willing to be made available to God as he commands or will I seek a life of comfort and relative predictability? In my heart, I hear my voice saying, “I am no longer content to stand idly by while God’s word is not proclaimed boldly and wholly. I must act.”
Not willing to be caught up in an emotional response to a reality so many believers are already aware of, I offer this prayer and move forward in faith that God will sustain and bless my obedience, regardless of where his will takes me:
Lord, I offer to you my whole self. I have nothing more than that to give. You gave all for my salvation; to reconcile me to yourself, and I cannot repay you. Jeremiah 20:9 speaks of a man who when contemplating no longer speaking in your name or sharing your word is afflicted with a passion he likens to a fire being shut up in his bones. I have felt like this for years and have attempted to quench this fire with the pursuits of other endeavors. No longer. I pray now asking for the courage to step out in faith, trusting you to guide my steps and continue working for my good because I love You. Please give me discernment, wisdom, and peace as I seek you and the advancement of your kingdom. I pray this prayer in the name of Jesus, your Son and my Savior, Amen.
Last November, I stood before my church and publicly surrendered to God’s call on my life to preach the gospel. I’m so excited and humbled by this calling. I’m praying for God to enable me, sustain me, and use me for His glory and for His fame. I guess it’s time to sit down, buckle up, and get ready for the ride of my life.
To God be the glory!
- Me: Son, what are you doing?
- Son (2 y/o): Climbing up the counter.
- Me: That's not safe. Climb down.
- Son: No.
- Me: What does Ephesians 6:1 say?
- Son: Climb down.
- Me: Good job!
Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
I heard about the death of Steve Jobs sometime around 7:30 p.m. on October 5, 2001. The news came to me by way of the MSNBC app on my iPhone. At first I was shocked to hear of such news, but, that was immediately followed by deep sorrow. When I got home, I read more of the news (article linked at the bottom) and found the quote above. Steve’s words ring so true. In life, we have many opportunities to focus on that which we value. As a Christian, I believe that of most importance is to focus on the things of God. Luke’s gospel contains the parable of the Rich Fool and I found the following passage of scripture very insightful:
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21 ESV)
Now, let’s get this out of the way: I’m by no means trying to compare my worldly success with that of Steve Jobs. What I’m talking about is focus. What will I focus on in my life? What will I seek after in this world until I stand before the Lord? Will my life be categorized by a pursuit of things that will be left behind for others to enjoy? Or, will I seek after that which God values? I believe the latter to be the more important endeavor. And Steve’s right, when considering death and the finite nature of this life, all pursuits are vain except those which are truly important.
My prayers are with the Jobs family as they mourn the loss of one of our generation’s most iconic figures and, more importantly, a father, brother, and son.
Learning the Gospel
I’ve been reading through a new stack of books I purchased and the first book on in that stack is What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. As a Christian, I have found myself asking that very question on more than one occasion. And, as I read through the text and explore scripture which lays out the gospel, I find that one of the most important points to make when explaining or proclaiming the gospel is not just the good news, but the bad also. The good news is that Christ died and rose again to atone for our sins and we can have the hope of salvation if we repent of our sins and turn to faith in Christ.
If we examine that truth logically we find Christ died to save us from something. That “something” is not our sin, rather it is the coming judgment of those sins. Our sin separates us from God the Father and puts square in his sights of judgment because of it. God is righteous and holy and demands atonement for our sins. Christ provides that. But, apart from Christ, what is the unbeliever left with? He (or she) is left with the due penalty of sin. This is the bad news. Paul says in Romans 3:23 that we are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory. All is a very inclusive word which means, “all.” Yep, that simple. You, me, the couple down the street, and the entire population of the world—past, present, and future. We’re all equally sinful. Salvation through Christ, which is the good news, places us on the other side of that judgment. You see, when God looks at the believer, he or she is justified by the blood of Christ. Christ paid the penalty already.
The following story is meant by no means to cheapen the truth of the gospel, but, I believe it illustrates the main idea. When I was younger, I was on a business trip with a colleague to Oklahoma. He and I stopped for breakfast one morning as we were driving to our meeting and were in for a surprise. When we attempted to pay for our meal, we were informed that no payment was required. Someone else had paid our tab. Someone we didn’t know paid for our breakfast. We were free to go, and we got to keep our money. If that had not happened, we would be held liable to pay for the meal. You see, we got food for breakfast, prepared by the restaurant staff in exchange for a fee. We had to pay for it. In our case; however, we didn’t need to pay for it because it had already been paid for. The restaurant staff looked at us and deemed us “paid up” though we didn’t have to pay.
For the believer, this principle applies. Our sins are paid for and righteousness is imputed to us by way of Christ’s atonement. God looks at us and sees a sinner. However, because of our faith and trust in Christ, and our repentance from our life of sin, He sees not our sin, but, the blood of Christ as payment. We’re in essence paid in full. Apart from that payment though, we’re left to pay for it on our own. If we think through that logic, we begin to see the bad news. And, in my mind at least, it makes the good news of the gospel that much sweeter. How thankful I am for the cross of Christ, that I’m not left to pay the penalty of my sin and that I’m seen as justified by the sacrifice and atonement of Christ on that cross.
Believers the world over would do well to cement that truth in their lives, in their minds, and on their hearts. Let us not give up preaching the gospel to ourselves as well as the world.
Some seem homophobic, and many who claim to be “pro-life” seem little concerned with human life post-uterus.