Scripture Sunday

       Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.
       If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
       Command and teach these things.
(1 Timothy 4:1-11 ESV)

This was the text from the sermon this morning at Missio Church, where I attend.
Question for the comments: What does this text teach us?


Straight from the journal Wednesday

Here's some excerpts from my journal notes as I have been going through Psalm 119. The below passage is perhaps one of my favorite in all of Scripture. If I ever find myself in a situation where I want to motivate someone to actually read their Bible - because we will usually fail at all of our efforts at anything if we do not know why we work towards something - I go to this passage first. I think God's word (!) speaks for itself here...

Psalm 119:9-11
Ps. 119:9
Q: How does a young man / woman live a pure life? How do they go about purifying their path? How does one maintain moral purity?
A: The person must guard their life, thoughts, decisions, and all they do in accordance with God's revelation. The person must have a vibrant and growing knowledge of the Bible if they hope to protect their lives from sin and wickedness. Yet, it is not enough to merely have an encyclopedic knowledge of God's word, the young person must know and learn how to apply God's directions to their life.
     As the young man or woman applies God's teachings to their life, they must do so in a manner that wields the words of God like a sword against the assaults of the enemy spiritual and the enemy of one's flesh (cf. Eph. 6:17, Mt. 4:1-11).
     With the aid of the Spirit and through mortification of fleshly lusts, the Christian will learn to and indeed guard their life from sin.
Ps. 119:10 We should not expect a life of ease and ultimate clarity in our war against sin when our hearts are not seeking God with passion.
     O Lord, increase my passion for You!
     God himself must be the agent who makes firm our steps. God will establish our way as we seek, pursue, and desire him. He will keep us back from straying from his right commands for our lives. Let God be your motivation and power in the quest for holiness.
Ps. 119:11 One help God has appointed for his children not to sin is the storing up of his words in man's heart.


Quote of the week

I hereunto decree that every Monday a uplifting and challenging quote that forces the reader to ponder the goodness of the gospel will be hereunto posted on this blog. 

Yes I know this is coming out Tuesday, but I was at a great concert last night a good jog away from home so I wasn't able to get this out.

The quote this week is from the blog Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology written by Dane Ortlund. I love the quote Dane mentions (a quote within a quote blogpost?!?) and his thoughts after it. What incomprehensible love the Savior has for his own.  
Everything after this sentence is from Dane's blog:

The reformer, preaching on John the Baptist's declaration in John 1, 'Behold the Lamb of God'--
May you ever cherish and treasure this thought. . . . It would be spectacular and amazing, prompting all the world to open its ears and eyes, mouth and nose in uncomprehending wonderment, if some king's son were to appear in a beggar's home to nurse him in his illness, wash off his filth, and do everything else the beggar would have to do. Would this not be profound humility? Any spectator . . . of this honor would feel impelled to admit that he had seen or experienced something unusual and extraordinary, something magnificent.

But what is a king or an emperor compared with the Son of God? Furthermore, what is a beggar's filth or stench compared with the filth of sin which is ours by nature, stinking a hundred times worse and looking infinitely more repulsive to God than any foul matter found in a hospital?

And yet the love of the Son of God for us is of such magnitude that the greater the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us.
--Martin Luther, LW 22:166

Did you get that? Everything in us screams: The less the filth and stench of our sins, the more He befriends us. After all, that's how we all function on a horizontal level, with other people. But Luther is right. The more sin, the more cleansing friendship. The only thing that can stop grace is our own self-________: self-reliance, self-justification, self-improvement.

Open it up. Let grace flood in. That's all it takes. We have but to ask. Grace is spring-loaded, ready to overwhelm us as soon as we stop playing the game.


Urgent Prayer Request

From my friend Stephanie's blog:
I just wanted to ask you guys to pray, pray, pray for David Camp, a young man who was in a bad car accident last Wednesday. Please pray that God will heal him, restore him, strengthen him, and be with him as he is fighting for his life. Thank you and I know David’s family thanks you too. Please go to this Facebook Group for more information.
Please pray for this young man who was in a very bad car accident and is suffering extreme physical trauma. Ask God that he would be glorified and make his face shine bright upon all who are suffering from this terrible accident.


Scripture Sunday

          [3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, [4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [5] he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. [7] In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, [8] which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight [9] making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ [10] as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
          [11] In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, [12] so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. [13] In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, [14] who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
(Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)

I never really noticed it before, but the first chapter of Ehpesians has really three distinct parts in Paul's prayer that center on the Father (Eph.1:1-6), the Son (Eph.1:7-12), and the Holy Spirit (Eph.1:13-14). As you read through this passage, take a moment to note all the blessings we receive from the differing members of the Trinity.  

Question for discussion in the comments:
What does God do for us - how does he bless us - through his three different persons (Father, Son, Spirit)?


Quote of the week: Pick up your sword and fight!

You ready folks? Are you ready for three posts in two days?!? Yeah, me neither.
Here below is a lovely quote by the great old biblical Anglican bishop, J.C. Ryle. I tend to latch onto his words mainly due to the truth in them and the content: The Bible! Biblical illiteracy in this (and previous) generations is truly astounding, frightening, and worrying. We must take up the Word!

(If you are ever interested in acquiring a book or source from which I quote on the blog, I will usually have a link below the material to a site where you can purchase the material. See below.) 
We must to be diligent readers of our Bibles. The Word is the sword of the Spirit. We shall never fight a good fight, if we do not use it as our principal weapon. The Word is the lamp for our feet. We shall never keep the king's highway to heaven, if we do not journey by its light. There is not enough Bible-reading among us. It is not sufficient to have the Book. We must actually read it, and pray over it ourselves. It will do us no good, if it only lies still in our houses. We must be actually familiar with its contents, and have its texts stored in our memories and minds. Knowledge of the Bible never comes by intuition. It can only be obtained by diligent, regular, daily, attentive, wakeful reading.
~ J.C. Ryle


How to use your vuvuzela

User Manual of the Day: Your Vuvuzela And You: A Step-By-Step Instruction Guide.

Via my friend Kevin.

Straight from the journal Wednesday

So if I can keep up with it, I think I will be posting verbatim what I have written down in my journal, which happens to be a moleskine - hence the title - on Wednesdays of each week. This first entry will be from my notes on Psalm 119 (my favorite Psalm, maybe my favorite chapter in the Bible) from 6/16/2010.

Psalm 119:1-8
Ps. 119:1 I can be blameless (free from guilt of sin) by God's electing purposes. Freedom from guilt comes from walking in God's law. Live his commands. Live love. The blameless are given happiness!
Ps. 119:2 Happiness is the fruit of observing God's rules and following his ways. We obey for our joy + communion with God.
Ps. 119:5 The psalmist says this because he is not predisposed to keeping God's statutes! God must empower us to keep his statutes. He gives us a new heart + writes his law on our hearts with the Spirit. Jer. 31:33-34
Ps. 119:7 Teach me your rules O Lord!
Ps. 118:8 The other end of the spectrum of living in accord with God's way and path for our lives is to be utterly forsaken.


Writing when it hurts.

I first learned of my grandfather's death when I arrived home after a brief bike ride and checked my Facebook news feed.

"RIP Grandpa. I <3 you."

My sister posted that and I saw it on my news feed. The news broke to me of my grandfather's death by Facebook. I imagine I will not forget that moment and method of the delivery of such terrible news. It was expected that my grandfather may possibly die very soon. He entered hospice care a week before his death, but I was flippantly hopeful that he would pull through this time of great weakness and poor health.

He was the first close family member who died that I knew close and loved. Yes, my mother's father died almost a decade ago, but I never really knew him. I was close to my dad's father. Not as close as I want to be, he did move to Las Vegas many years ago for health reasons. He had emphysema after decades of smoking and other health problems and the humidity of the northeast and the cold did not help his weakened frame. Contact was infrequent at best. I had no excuse for not calling them more or writing them more letters.

The moment I saw my sister's Facebook status update I immediately called my father, who was in Las Vegas due to my grandfather's rapidly declining state of health. My grandfather died the morning of June 11th, 2010. My dad was not planning to tell me of his death until he arrived home. I imagine I would have found out before he came home regardless of my sister's Facebook update.

My grandfather was an man of no religion. He suspected churches of being after your money. Those are the only two (mildly) firm statements I can make regarding my grandfather's beliefs regarding religion and spirituality. Some may think "Oh, but we are all worshippers! Your grandfather must have worshipped something other than God." I do not doubt this, but I do not know what his sins were. I know that he was a sinner, born that way. All in all, I could say that my grandfather was a very kind, quiet, and polite man. Is this grounds for salvation? Can being nice rid one of the guilt of his sin? No, for even our righteous acts are as filthy rags.

The theology that my Christian life has been constructed on will not permit me to think that all is well regarding my grandfather's death.
Let me be honest and vulnerable:
  • I believe that God is in control of everything.
  • The God who bestows mercy on many guilty sinners freely also metes just punishment and wrath to those who die in their sins.
  • God's plan of salvation is good and above my mind's capability to grasp fully.
  • I don't know how to think through this fully: in all likelihood my grandfather will stand before God on judgment day and receive the verdict of guilty in sin.
  • I am deeply saddened that my grandfather is dead. There is a deep sense in my mind and heart that death is not good. It is tragic when humans die.
Where am I to go from here? I imagine I will go to perhaps the most difficult text to wrestle with right now as I deal with my grandfather's death.

    What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
    You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:14-24 ESV)
Please take in mind these things as you read this post:
 - I have been praying about this for a while & will continue to do that first and foremost in addition to seeking God's counsel in his word.
 - It is strange to write a blog post after your grandfather's death...but this is how I process things. I write. If for some reason this appalls you, well, suspend judgment for a moment and pray.
 - Pleas pray for my grandmother, father, mother, sister, and any whom I will talk to about this death. Ask God to be glorified and ask that he would fling wide the doors of the hearts of man so the good news of Christ may enter.
 - If anyone comments anything mean-spirited or ignorant in regards to the theology of salvation, then your comment will likely be deleted.


Reasons Why Jesus Lived, Died, & Rose

I am mildly stealing the title of this post from Piper's 50 Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die if you were wondering. As a side note, I just started this book (on audiobook) and it is worthy of long hard stares at the Savior and why he came and the numerous blessings we receive through his death. When I say death I mean to keep the cross as the central, climactic point of Jesus life, and indeed all of history, but I also imply his life and resurrection for they are essential to fully understanding and grasping his death on that Roman cross and its purpose.

With all that said, I want to point out a reason why Jesus came to Earth that I discovered today.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. - Galatians 4:4-5
God, at the exact time he had planned, sent his Son into the world as the Christ humbly clothed himself with flesh. This was at the proper time, indeed, all the prophecies pointing to the Messiah were ready to be fulfilled and 2,000 years ago, the "fullness of time" indeed came to the timeline of humanity and the Savior was born.

He was sent by the Father, he was born as any other human was - through physical growth and the special virgin birth, though he is eternal - he was born as a Jew with a heritage of Jews and Gentiles. The Son of God came and lived perfectly under God's law so that people under the same law might receive adoption as sons.

Jesus was born, lived his life, died on the cross, and rose again so that I might be adopted as a son of God and made a co-heir with Christ.

That truth should simply be mind blowing. That truth should lay such an amazing bedrock for Christians as we doubt who we are before God, as we doubt what God will say to us as we stand before his throne. As the hymn goes, I know that "before the throne of God above I have a strong and perfect plea, a great high priest whose name is Love, who ever lives and pleads for me." And yet, if you were to ask most Christians, I would be willing to bet that they have never or rarely heard this glorious truth and doctrine preached. What a shame that this doctrine has been lost and neglected for reasons of which I know not.

In short, the Son of God humbled himself to death on a cross so that I could be adopted by his heavenly Father. This is one reason why Jesus came to us.

I do have one question for you readers:
Has the doctrine of adoption been preached to you? If so, describe it. If not, tell us why you think this is.


Christian Maturity

Don't forget that you're justified not by how well you follow, but you're justified by Christ alone. Don't forget it. Don't forget you can't earn this. A mark of Christian maturity is when you stumble and fall you run to God and it results in more worship. A sign of immaturity is that when you stumble and fall is you run from God, try to fix yourself up, and run back to him.
 I came across that chunk of preaching while listening to Matt Chandler via The Village Church's podcast. (It is around the 32:00 mark in the 11th part of the Colossians series.) According to this, which I think is accurate and a good indicator of Christian maturity, I am pretty immature. I (and might I add, we) tend to be very prone to this weird legalistic kinda thing that confronts me when I sin and drives me away from God in guilt and shame in a manner that is simply not biblical. I don't intend to discuss godly and ungodly guilt here, but let me just say that I see so many Christians (myself being the prime example) who are so prone to a forgetful, powerful, ignorant shame that deems ourselves to be beyond God's love and fellowship, even if we somehow reckon in our minds that we have his forgiveness (once again, I skirt another huge issue, but it will have to wait).

My point, and I think one of the main things I am learning right now is how to biblically deal with my sin. I am learning to wrestle with the thought that I am a sinner. I have a nature that is fundamentally corrupted and does not want to love God. Yes, sanctification is indeed taking place in my life and Christ is transforming my life and mind, but I still am essentially broken right now. I am a sinner, justified before the Father by the Son's sacrifice, and am being sanctified by his Spirit. I must not live and think in a way that neglects this first truth. I am a sinner.