Monday, December 11, 2006

Deceitfulness of Sin

Before his conversion, Raymond Lull (considered to be the first missionary to Moslems) led a very adventurous and passions-driven life. Consider the following account of his conversion:

"Hence men who have led a very adventurous life under the pressure of passions, men such as kings, heroes, or adventurers, have often been seen suddenly to change, resort to resignation and penance, and become hermits and monks. To this class belong all genuine accounts of conversion, for instance, that of Raymond Lull, who had long wooed a beautiful woman, was at last admitted to her chamber, and was looking forward to the fulfillment of all his desires, when, opening her dress, she showed him her bosom terribly eaten away with cancer. From that moment, as if he had looked into hell, he was converted; leaving the court of the King of Majorca, he went into the wilderness to do penance." (The World as Will and Representation, Vol. I, § 68)."

Is it not sin's aim to entice, woo and then to trap? When we have finally entered into the sin, we - like Lull - find it to be empty and unsatisfying.

Lord, keep us from the enticement of sin. It promises great reward, but only leads to death.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Search for Insignificance

While John the Baptist was baptizing he was approached by his followers with a comment about Jesus:

"Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, He is baptizing and all are coming to Him."

Up to this point, John was getting all the attention. But, now, with Jesus on the scene, his popularity was waning.

John's response to this?

"A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but 'I have been sent ahead of Him.'...So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease."

What a beautiful picture of humility. Realizing his mission and that it was to be accomplished, John's joy is increased. Even more remarkable about this is that John was becoming a side-show. He was no longer the main event. Jesus - the one prophesized about - had come.

O that I might have the heart of John. His one true aim in life was to make Christ known and then, to get out of the way.

Lord, grant me the head and heart realization that you did not come to make us well-known, but to make Jesus Christ famous - that all the world would look on Him and lift Him up. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Life of No Reserve, No Retreat, and No Regret

William Borden had a heart for Jesus and for making Him known.

A graduate of Yale and Princeton Seminary, Borden set sail to minister to Muslims in Cairo, Egypt. But, a month after his arrival, he contracted spinal meningitis and died. He was only 25. While at Yale, Borden had been instrumental in one of the largest college christian movements to date. What started out as an early morning prayer meeting with himself and another classmate his freshman year, soon spread into small groups and prayer meetings of over 1000 participants his senior year (at a college of 1300 students).

Borden was not only a catalyst on campus, but outside it as well. One of his friends wrote that he "might often be found in the lower parts of the city at night, on the street, in a cheap lodging house or some restaurant to which he had taken a poor hungry fellow to feed him, seeking to lead men to Christ."

A heir to the Borden Dairy estate, Borden was a millionaire. But he didn't act like one. When asked by a friend why he didn't own a car, Borden replied simply, "I cannot afford it."

Many expressed regret that he was "throwing himself away" as a missionary, when they thought he could do so much more with his life. Apparently, Borden had come to terms with the perishables of wealth, and wanted to invest in something imperishable. By his late teens, his eyes were already wide open to the person of Jesus Christ.

In her biography on Borden, Mary Taylor writes, "Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice."

Six, poignant words were found in the back of Bordens bible. They were:

No reserve.

No retreat.

No regret.

Lord help us to live as a man who has everything, and lives in such a way that he can not keep it all to himself. Thank you.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

On Preaching

The whole and the aim of preaching today, should exist to display all that God is and all that He is in Christ Jesus. It is an act of worship and exulting in God - alone. Any preaching that fails to meet these ends is not preaching to the glory of God.

When you go to church, is your pastor's proclamations inflaming your love for God? Or, for yourself? Does your pastor use the Word of God as a basis for his proclamations? Or, does your pastor use the Word of God as a contriving tool whereby he manipulates it to his agenda? When you walk away from church, do you love God more? Are you moved to go and spread His fame? Or, are you sent away into more introspection and how you might modify a behavior or "self-improve".

The end of preaching is - at it's root - to paint beautiful pictures of Christ. It is to paint Jesus for all that He is and was. It should exist as a means to conjure up the heart and the mind of Christ followers to go deeper in love with Him.

  • Preaching is not about helping the Body to love itself more. It already does (love itself).
  • Preaching is not about prescriptions and of dictating to people what they ought to be doing (most already know).
  • Preaching is not about moralisms or of self-improvement episodes (the Body can consume that elsewhere).
These are good things. It is good to love yourself. It is good to get direction now and again. It is good to want to improve oneself.

Good preaching takes care of these things while it rightly places the emphasis on Jesus and of His work on the cross. When we are in love with Christ and His ministry - as a by-product - we will love neighbor as we already love ourself. We will reach out to the unreached. We will want to be our best and do everything to the glory of God. It will be a natural causation of our being overfilled and overflowing with love for Christ and namely, by His love for us.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

On Obedience and Being Left Out

Jesus expects obedience:

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1-2)

Several verses later, Jesus goes on to explain who are the branches (speaking to his followers):

"I am the vine; you are the branches."

This is a weighty statement. And, it makes me tremble. For every christian who does not heed Christ's admonishment to pursue Him and obey, He suggests they will be cut off from Him.

Obedience is not always easy. But, it is good. In the end, the rewards that await the obeying christian far outweight the disobedient. Christ knows the difficulty we face in obeying Him and the fight our flesh puts up.

To His disciples, He says this:

"I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."

Jesus again and again, lays out the future that awaits the christian who obeys and follows. It is one full of blessedness and of joy in the "age to come".

As christians, we ought to think hard on this. For those who do not listen to Him and follow - we can be replaced by others who have heeded the call to obey. This is a disconcerning. Do I want someone else to "take my place"? To bear the fruit that I was going to bear?

It's much like the unreluctant worker. When told of his paycheck in the coming weeks, he complains, "it's so hard and takes so much time and..." On and on go the complaints.

Those who obey reap the rewards of obedience and a life lived in the Vine. They see things the disobedient do not see. They are blessed beyond paychecks and nice things. Their hearts are filled to overflowing.

In the end, the fruitful will say, "I gave up nothing - to gain everything."

Lord, help us to obey.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Working Out Our Salvation

Paul wrote to the Philippian church, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling".

For many who see the christian faith as a works-based philosophy and self-improvement program to get right with God, this may sound good.

But in reality, Paul doesn't have a works mentality in mind here. What he was trying to get at is the heart of the believer - and how when God enters that heart, He begins a new work. Growth happens. Love blossoms. Bitterness and envy waste away. Things that you once saw as valuable, you now see as rubbish. Chains are broken.

And most importantly, Christ becomes beautiful.

In Jeremiah, we see a man whom God is at work in:

"But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it”.

Does your heart become weary when you do not proclaim Christ? Does your heart become like a "burning fire, shut up in your bones", when you try to mute the excellencies of God in Christ within your soul?

Freedom in Christ involves a working out our salvation, with fear and trembling. But again, this is not a burdensome thing. "-for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

You will do well to work out your salvation now, by thinking on these things (His dying on the cross for you; that you were once lost, and are now found; that He has saved you from the reality of hell; that He has now, sealed you and saved you to Himself; that He is to be prized and is worthy of all affections and value in the universe; and so on). And then - out of that thinking and feeling - go, be and do out of the overflow of His riches and mercies poured out in your own life.

For hearts, burning for Him.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Obstacles to Seeing Christ - Jealousy

A player on a baseball team just hits a two-run homer. Upon rounding the bases, the player runs to the dugout, and is greeted by enthuasiastic teammates.

"Great hit!

"Sweet slam bro."

The compliments flow easy and there is a glad mood in the dugout. The team is now up by 2 and it's the end of the 8th. It looks like another win.

Over in the corner - away from the excitement - sits a teammate with his arms folded, head shaking. He looks disgusted.

"That guy gets all the breaks. He's so lucky," he mutters to himself.


In Luke, chapter 15, Jesus tells the story of a prodigal son returning home. The prodigal son's brother learns of the grand homecoming and soon becomes angry.

"Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends," he laments to his father.

Jealousy is a black cover to our seeing Christ and having freedom. Those who follow Christ need to rid themselves of any envy towards one another. In the body, we all have roles. Some will teach and be well-known, some will teach and be lesser-known; some will encourage and lift up, some will suffer severely for Christ; some will have great success, some will fail over and over.

In the end, we will all stand in glory, beholding our Triumphant Savior. At that moment, we will not be absorbed in covetousness. We - in turn - will await a crown of righteousness bestowed on all who have longed to see Him.

For those who believe on the name of Jesus, jealousy is an irony.

Lord, take this bitter heart and fill it with your sweet mercy. That I might have the heart to love and with fresh eyes, look beyond my covetousness, to the bigger story at hand. Our reward is not to be found here. Our rewards rest with you. Thank you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Obstacles to Seeing Christ - Bitterness

Driving down the freeway, the woman looks in her rear-view mirror to see a fast-approaching car. The driver, going several miles over the speed limit, zooms past her and darts into her lane. The woman - perturbed - lets fly several choice words and utters, "Moron. How dare you..." The anger, wells up like a volcano inside her.


An elderly man sits in his comfy chair, watching a re-run of a popular game show. It's been 10 years since he's seen his brother. And if he has his way, it will be a cold day in hell before he sees him again. The man stews with resentment. He's been wronged. His brother should have known better. The bitterness, is eating him alive.


One day, Jesus was approached by Peter.

"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"

"I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven," Jesus replied.

Over and over, the demand to forgive one another was proclaimed from the mouth of Christ. Why? Can't we stew over the wrongs; the ill treatment we've received?

On another occassion, Jesus was reclining at the table of a Pharisee. A woman (known for her many sins) got word of Jesus' whereabouts - and overjoyed, takes a gift to Him. She enters the Pharisee's house and proceeds to pour a costly perfume over Jesus' feet. She is weeping.

Jesus is touched by the gesture and tells a disciple who was next to him that this woman is so full of thankfulness that she cannot contain herself. The love for her Savior is overflowing.

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Luke 7:40-50).

Like always, Jesus tries to get at the heart of the matter. The sinner, who played out her depravity to the full has now been redeemed by the blood of Christ. This saint sees her life in the rearview mirror and says, with tears, "I was lost, but have now been found!" Seeing the life she has been saved from and the Savior she has been saved to, gives her joy and a newness of heart.

In this heart, bitterness has no home.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Are You Over Christ?

It is a sad condition of the heart. That which - at one time - caused great excitement and motivation, now, hardly causes a whimper in the soul. The new, becomes old.

The brand new job, becomes the "daily grind". The car so desired and saved for, becomes rusty and uncared for. The year-long anticipation of a 7-day family trip overseas, becomes a week-long anticipation for home.

We ask and we wonder, "is there anything that can keep our heart's desire's?"

Apparently, the Apostle Paul found something that so transfixed his heart's gaze that he scarcely waned in excitement and anticipation of it. His object of affection was not waning in its newness or joy. What was it?

It was the personhood and reality of Jesus Christ. Why couldn't he get over him?

To Paul, Christ was everything. Out of the blue, Christ rescued Paul from a life of certain destruction. When he finally knew Christ, he also knew the life he had once lived - and it was a wake-up call. With new eyes, he saw the beauty and the glory of Christ. How Christ redeems and renews. How He calls the wayward and sets them on a sure path. He finally saw that life was not a never-ending series of new things we try on and grow out of, but of redemption and newness that could only be found in this Savior.

With new eyes, we too will see some of what Paul saw. We will not grow tired of yet another burden to carry, another day to live, another clock to punch - but we will see that each next moment offers us a chance to live in the newness of life that Christ has set before us, in Him, by His strength. Each "old" and tired thing is redeemed, by Him and through Him. Each new day is a chance to make Christ known in a world that is seeking redemption through tired means.

In Christ, the old, becomes new again.

O Lord, help us to never get over you and your ability to make all things new.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Divine Forgiveness

The grandfather of two girls brutally assassinated while at school, was asked by a reporter if he had forgiven the gunman who took their lives.

"In my heart, yes," he said.

Apparently, Enos Miller (the grandfather) is crazy. How does a man honestly say that after a gunman ruthlessly walks into a schoolhouse, takes his two grandkids and then snuffs their life out in an instant say that he forgives that man?

There has to be something more to this story. So, we read on.

"Through God's help."

Miller knows something many of us do not. He knows the love of God in Christ Jesus. He also knows that God is all-powerful and omnipotent. He worships a God who is not powerless to save - but powerful to save. He worships a God who reigns in death and life.

He worships a God whom I want to worship.

The love that God has bestowed on those whom He has chosen is a love like none other. It is a love that can shine in the midst of great joy and - often - shines most brightly in times of great darkness.

It is the kind of bold and radical love that calls it's followers to not return hate with more hate, but with love. And, that, is ironic.

Lord, help us in our inability to forgive and to love. Even those whom we find most unloveable and hardest to love - for your namesake O Lord!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Everyone Aches for Jesus

In one of their more popular songs, Irish rock band U2 proclaims, "and I still haven't found what I'm looking for.."

Peoples hearts and minds are often unknowingly transfixed on Jesus. We hear this in song, we read it in books and we see it in how people live. Until the touch of Jesus awakens our hearts and grabs our hand as we fumble in the dark, we remain blind to what we really need.

It is precisely for this reason that Christians can not look "down on" those who have yet to see Jesus as precious. To do so, would discredit Jesus' saving act on our life and would put us as the boasting initiator. We love, because He first loved us.

Lord, help us to see that all around us your creation aches for you. And, help us - who have been mercifully rescued - to reach out and lend a hand to those yet fumbling about. For your great name, Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Life Aimed at Eternity III

Knowing your future can make the difference in how you live in the here and now. If you know where your final destination will be, your life will reflect that.

For those who follow Jesus - our destination is in view. It is very hard for the christian to lose all hope when a final destination is set. A fully hopeless christian is like a bird afraid it will die in a fall from a tree - all the while forgetting its wings! And, like that bird, we so often forget that we have Jesus! And, a home with Him.

Oh Lord, help us to remember daily, our final destination!

Monday, September 11, 2006

When Evil Strikes

In His sermon on the mount, Jesus made a bold declaration about how we ought to respond when evil hits us.

"You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. "

For most of us, these are words which are hard to swallow. Retaliation seems to be in our "blood" (or, I should say - our flesh).

Jesus went on to say something even more profound after this. He said we ought to love our enemies and even pray for them. Wow. Can you do that? Certainly, not on our own.

We hear the words of Christ, but then ask - "is self-defense ever justified? Is it morally right to wage a war? It is ever justified?" Does God then mean for us to avenge evil? Not so fast. Over and over, Christ provides an example of resisting retaliation and gives us the admonition to "wait".

When Peter pulls his sword and cuts the ear of the high priest's servant, he incurs a strong rebuke from our Lord, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword (Mt. 26:52)"

And, then he calls those who have been wronged, to wait: "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord" (Rom 12:19).

Lord, kill pride in us. That when we are wronged, we see the throrn pierced brow and the lashes on your back. Nailing you to the cross, was the greatest offense ever committed. And, yet you endured it willingly that you might vindicate your Father's righteousness and as a by-product, offer life, freedom and forgiveness to the same people who killed you. Help our first reaction to be that of love - and not retribution.

(HT to DG)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Jesus Wept

It's the shortest verse in the bible. But it's profound and gives us a glimpse into the heart of our Savior.

"Jesus wept" (John 11:35).

Having already foretold that Lazarus would rise again, it's likely that Jesus' tears were not just for a man fallen asleep, but for a world stricken with death and sin.

Oh Lord, thank you for the freedom we have in you - and the ability to now say, "o death, where is your sting!?"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Quiet Life

My father made a living by driving bus. He received no great commendations, was never on tv, and his income was quite modest. Often, he would wake at 4 or 5 in the morning, read his devotions, and head off to work. He went about his work humbly, and without complaint.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business, and work with your hands" (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

It is a freeing thing to know that a janitor sweeping the floors at an insane asylum, for the glory of God, may be a very pleasing sight to the Creator.

Having our chains cut from this world, frees us from the pull of seeking to be made much of by way of great wealth or notoriety.

Our new desires seek to make known the One who cut those chains and bought our freedom.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A Life Aimed at Eternity II

A rich young man approached Jesus. He had a big question.

"Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

Jesus knew this man's heart.

"Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."

"All these I have kept. What do I still lack," the rich man replied.

He wasn't getting it. But, Jesus knew how to get at the heart of the issue.

"If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

The man - dejected - went on his way.

John MacArthur says it well: "This young man's most serious spiritual defect was his reluctance to confess his own utter spiritual bankruptcy". Jesus tried to show the man his self-righteousness and that his merits would not commend him to God. But, he wasn't seeing it. His treasure was in his money and hope, in himself.

Shortly after this episode, Jesus turned to His disciples and declared how hard it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In fact, he compared the difficulty to a camel trying to get through an eye of a needle. The disciples couldn't believe it.

This rich man (and many others like him) find their greatest treasure in possessions and in their own self-righteousness. People like this are not bankrupt. They are self-reliant. Ironically, these are not the people Jesus came to save.

Lives aimed at eternity, see their bankrupt life, realize they have nothing to give God, and throw themselves at the Cross of Christ. They find their greatest treasure not in having great wealth and being propped up by it, but in Christ alone - who holds them up before the Father and says, "this one is sick - he is mine, on account of My purifying blood."

Like the apostles and others who have taken up their cross, they see the selling of possessions as a joyful giving up of something they cannot keep for something they cannot lose*.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Life Aimed at Eternity

If we take a closer look at the lives of Jesus' apostles, we will learn how to live for eternity.

Why do 13 men (including Paul) live in such a way that all they care about is Christ (1 Cor. 2:2) and are willing to go to great lengths to promote His name (Acts 14:19, Acts 16:22, 2 Cor 11:25, Acts 12:2)?

For one, all men had all been in the presence of Christ. While the 12 hand-picked apostles were given the privilege of being in Christ's company for three years and saw Christ at work, Paul experienced Christ in a radical, life-changing event on the road to Damascus (Acts 22). These men knew the Lord, what He came to do, and realized they needed to tell others about Him.

When you see something beautiful, you usually don't keep it to yourself. You tell others about it. These men could not shut-up. They had to tell others, no matter the cost. Their lives were aimed heavenward.

What freedom it is to live in such a way that ones life aligns itself with one focus: on that which is most valuable. No longer will the fleeting pursuit of riches mean much. Nor, will man's praise. This life will have enormous Christ-enthralled vision and purpose and will be able to do radical, self-forgetting, God-glorifying feats.

These 13 men got it and ignited into flames. Lord, help us to do the same!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Truth Leads to Freedom

Jesus said, "If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples; And you will know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).

It is no surprise, that what the world thought was loving - a philosophy of relativism - has actually led to a worldwide slaughter on freedom. This way of thinking requires shunning of absolutes. When this happens, no one is really free. Only truth can expose the dark and shine a pathway to freedom.

Several years ago, I was confronted by a co-worker. In so many words, he told me that I needed to get my act together on some work-related issues, if I wanted to become the best I could be. It was hard to hear - but after the "pride wounds" had some time to heal, I remember feeling a sense of freedom. Ironically, this hard, cold truth - which at first came across as penetrating and cutting - was a means by which I obtained freedom and was no longer in "bondage".

Jesus was truth. Everywhere He went, He shined. Exposing the dark and making truth glow. As a result of His message of Truth, He was able to lead people to freedom and, as a result, fill them with life-igniting hope.

O Lord, help us to become beacons of truth. Help us to see that the value of truth outweighs our value of acceptance and pride. Help us to accept truth when it comes our way - even if it's hard to swallow. And may we see that covering up truth will only lead to slavery - not freedom.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Beauty of Christ - II

In what has been labeled, the "Triumphal Entry", Jesus - the Son of God, Savior of the World - enters Jerusalem riding on a mighty, never-been-riden...donkey.

What's a king doing on a donkey? This was his last hurrah. His final salute. Why not rent a chariot? A few stallions?

No, Jesus specifically chose a colt of a donkey.

"Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, 'Why are you doing this?' you say, 'The Lord has need of it'; and immediately he will send it back here" (Mark 11:2-3).

Of course, all of this comes to pass just as Jesus proclaims. But, that's nothing new to the disciples. What's ironic is the mode of transportation. Or is it?

Like the washing of His disciples feet, Jesus continues this lowly, humble and servant-minded attitude. He wasn't a wet-noodle. He stood for things. But, even through this act, He was trying to teach his followers something.

Jesus - who came for the sick, the prisoner, the widow, the poor and discarded - clothed Himself in humility. Even extending that lowliness to His transportation choices.

It's all a part of what makes Christ, so beautiful.

O God - do a work in my heart. Make me humble, like Christ. Help me to be amazed at how Christ came and cloaked Himself in lowliness - serving those whom he led - and taking the lashes that should have struck my body.

We also know that someday, He will return in glory. This time, not on a donkey, but on a mighty, white horse, coming to judge and make war on His enemies. Let our humility start at this knowing (Rev. 19:11-16).

For you are the just and the merciful KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Amen.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Beauty of Christ - I

One of the most remarkable events in the earthly life of Jesus took place behind closed doors, in a room with his disciples. It was the twilight of Jesus' ministry - and unbeknownst to them, he was continuing to teach them what it meant to carry your cross...

"Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" Jesus answered and said to him, "What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter." (Jn. 13:5-7)

Here was the Son of Man, the "foretold" One, the Savior, King Jesus, on His knees, doing the most lowly act - reserved for servants. This is not how a king acts. He needn't stoop so low as to serve those who should be serving Him? It was a disgrace..

Or was it? Jesus - the epitomy of what a man looks like; of what a true leader looks like - humbled Himself and did the most base of acts. It's utterly amazing.

In this world, we rarely see such selfless, pride-less, acts by our kings and leaders. That is what sets Jesus apart from them. He didn't need the accolades of man. Or, their respect.

His life was to be about the business of His Father: to restore God's righteousness, to redeem His children, and to make such a spark, that His short earthly life still reverberates - some 2000 years later.

The uniqueness and beauty of Christ is like no other.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Foolish of the World to Shame the Mighty

At first glance, the bible seems to have gotten it wrong.

"The foolish things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.." reads 1 Corinthians 1:27-29. But, shouldn't it be the mighty will shame the foolish?

For those who love the world - the answer is a resounding "yes!". The mighty will always win. The fittest shall survive. The wise, will show the unwise a thing or two. The glory, belongs to the victor!

Now, if you have been set free from the praise of man and acts of self-aggrandizement, your answer will be a humble "no".

It is by the means of "worldy foolishness" that Christ often achieves his ends. And He does so because it offers Him the most glory.

Christ chose 12 ordinary men, some with backgrounds in fishing and tax collecting. None had a high level of scholarship. Why not chose a governor - a president or a king to join the group? Or, a great athlete...or a fine musician?

He chose 12 ordinary, average, run-of-the-mill, "John Does", because it gave him the greatest chance to make Himself shine. Christ was not in need of great scholars or mathmeticians or wise men. No, Christ needed no counselor. What he needed most were men who were willing, obedient and "sick". None of these men had great levels of amptitude with which they could rely on or boast in. They could not glory in their achievements as a great orator. Nor, could they hold up their intellect as something to be praised.

These were men who would unwittingly radiate Christ. And, they did this by being fallen, and in-need-of-a-savior type men. They made Christ look good - not on account of anything great they did - but because of what Christ had done in and through them.

Just 12, ordinary men. With an extraordinary Savior.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Does Grace Taste Bitter Sometimes?

Before his brutal death at the hands of a fellow prisoner, mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer became a Christian. And, by all accounts and several witnesses, his conversion was sincere. God used one faithful woman with a deep conviction that the Blood of the Lamb could extend even to a merciless killer.

At the cross next to Jesus, were two criminals who had been sentenced to death. One of them was repentent: "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" To which Jesus replied, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (Luke 23:39-43).

It would seem that on account of the mere acknowledgement of who Christ was, this criminal was saved. He would enter the kingdom of heaven. He was covered by the Blood.

Now, I pose a question. How does this sit with you? Does the thought of Jeffrey Dahmer residing in heaven with you leave a bitter taste in your mouth? Is there something about it that just doesn't taste right? Or does this rescue of a wayward and lost child taste sweet to you? It's a tough one, isn't it?

If you are one who holds your righteousness on a platter before God, on the basis of your church attendence, your giving to the poor, and your obstaining from certain lusts, then you aren't likely to enjoy the saving of an 11th hour saint.

Buried underneath the heart of the journeyed Christian, can reside a deep bitterness at such news. Instead of rejoicing at such a saving act, we relent and complain like the prodigal son's brother.

Oh Lord - help us to rejoice at the news of another brother or sister who you have rescued and let not our hearts grow bitter at your perfect timing.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Spirit of the Lord = Freedom

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he writes "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." (3:17)

Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ means we (as Christians) enter into a new life. That life does not lead to more slavery of rules or regulations. It leads to freedom. We have already found out that trying to follow the "law" will ultimately lead us to condemnation. The law in and of itself does not save us - it shows us our great need for a savior.

But - oh! - through that Savior there is a great canopy! Cover yourself in Jesus - dive into His great mercies and you will find freedom; not condemnation.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Christ Jesus: The Real Superman

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, “Superman Returns” is an epic tale of more than just a super-hero sent to save mankind. It is cloaked in Christian imagery and verse. I would highly recommend it, largely due to the fact that it can fuel your love for Christ more because He can do all that Superman does and more. Christ is THE Superman. The amazing and jaw-dropping feats accomplished by the screen character aren’t just fiction. Christ Jesus is more than capable of sending a tsunami packing, stopping a falling jet, or more importantly (and larger) of delivering the world from it’s sin (which the movie character cannot do). (And, there is no kryptonite which can thwart Christ’s hand.)

So when you’re in the theater watching, I hope your love for Christ increases and is inflated. That you will not be directed to glory in another human achievement of movie-making, but that you stare heaven-ward and that your heart overflows with all that Christ is. He is more powerful and greater than our own hearts can conceive.

Hoping and marveling at the True Superman: King Jesus.

Here’s an article about the parallels that are being reported:

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Jesus: Just a good example?

Starting with the premise that Jesus existed, one must then ask, "is he just another great man to have walked the earth or our saviour?" Let's take a look at his life:
  • Before Jesus had walked on the scene - he was already being talked about by a man named John (the Baptist) (Luke 3). He was telling of one who would come - and who's "thong" of his sandal, John was unworthy to untie.
  • Jesus began a ministry, calling men to leave everything - even family / home - to come by his side. These men came willingly and immediate.
  • He spoke with such authority and with such wisdom, that he drew great crowds wherever he went.
  • His own presence and popularity drew hatred from those in power (John 11:47-57).
  • He forgave sin, called people to repentance and healed the sick.
  • He hung around the remnant of society and those who were hated.
  • He commited no acts of terror or harm - yet was put upon a cross to die by a crowd of people yelling to crucify him (John 19:6) (All of which he had foretold to his disciples (John 12:27-50).
  • He lived beautifully: hating sin, loving his enemies, helping those in need - and valuing the most valuable (his Father in heaven).

Yet it doesn't end here. If we were to suddenly end here, Jesus might be seen as just a great example. But he was more than that.

  • Three days after his horrible death, he rises from the dead - appearing first to women (whose account and testimonies were considered second-rate at the time) and then to his disciples.

Ordinary dead men don't rise to live again. Ordinary men do not cast out demons and bring others back to life. Ordinary men do not forgive sins. Ordinary men do not proclaim they are "one" with God. Ordinary men are not like Jesus.

With only a public life of three short years, His one life created such a stir, such a revival and such fulfilment, that Jesus cannot be deemed, "just a good example". He was and is, the Christ - our Savior.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Self Preservation

Something that I am most keen of in myself is of commiting self-preservation. It's a sneaky thing because it can be so well justified. Self-preservation has most of its roots in pride and fear. All in all, it's an ugly one.

If you want to see the affects of a cultural shift to more and more self-preservation, it can be seen in different instances. I found one recently in a study that was done which speaks to how more and more people are isolating themselves. The causes of some of this can be linked to more folks using the internet to correspond.

Basically, people seem to be opting for the cleanliness of interacting through the electronic medium. It's easier in many aspects because one doesn't have to deal with the persons odor, or the other person's quirky personality. It's a kind of "disengaged" engagement - a half-hearted approach to relationships which only leaves us more empty and alone.

God has created us for relationships. And, He has properly equipped us to be engaged, be it good or bad. We need not fear interacting with someone who is strange or more powerful or just plain goofy. He has made us for this. And, I don't think He wants us hiding behind a curtain.

Ironically, isolation (which we ultimately think will give us more "safety") only leads to bad things, corporately. The less we know our neighbors - and as our sphere of influence diminishes - our society grows increasingly unsafe. There is no longer a "check" on the new guy moving in next door because no one has bothered to ask his first name - or where he's from. This leads to the (you've heard this before on the news, I'm sure) "He seemed like a good neighbor - but kinda quiet..I didn't think he was capable of__________." scenerio. So, the less we know of one another, the less we are safe.

Now, I hope to take this to heart (Lord help me).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Affirming self or?

One doesn't need to search very long in the blog world to see what many hold as their highest treasures. Granted, it doesnt mean that just because one person hosts a blog all about their dog, that they hold that creature up as their highest value. But, it does cause one to wonder.

Self-worship holds center stage for much of blogsphere. If we do not see anything or anyone around us as more important and we fail to see ourselves, humbly, as created beings - we will gravitate to holding self at the center of importance.

Praising and worshipping self will not lead to a greater understanding; but only to a dead-end road.

Friday, June 16, 2006

What is most valuable?

I hope to point to that which is most valuable. We give value to things every day in how we spend our time, our money - in essense - our lives. Whatever a person values most, that is what he or she will likely pursue most. If one puts money as their number one value in life, they will do everything they can to obtain more. And so forth.

My aim and prayer is that I will point to the most valuable entity that there is. And that is God. And with that aim, I hope to show and point the reader to see that everyone ought to (not in a "have to" kind of way, but in a "want to" way) live in such a way that their existence revolves around Him - that which is most valuable above all else.

Everyone wants to be free

Freedom is a hearts cry of every man and woman. We will go to great lengths to get it - even unto death.

But what does true freedom look like? - and how is it found. I hope to examine this and other central issues related to our human condition here. I appreciate your time.