Category Archives: christian

The Talent of living with Inadequacy.

I don’t have children presently, but am excited for the day we will have some.  I know it will take all of who I am to raise them and then some.  I praise God for a Dad who modeled for me a godly fatherhood.  Seeing him to go to his heavenly Father for help has helped me understand where ability in the face of inadequacy comes from.  I was his first child and I’m sure I made that first huddle more difficult than he expected.

This quote is dedicated to all the fathers out there.  If you are a father, you are a leader.  In this book of leadership I’m going through, I want to share a quote with you concerning inadequacy and leadership.

“What do you do with your weaknesses, failures, and wounds?  Do you hand them over to God in exchange for His grace and strength, or do you wallow in self-pity, allowing the enemy of your soul to immobilize you?…..I have come to firmly believe that inadequacy is always associated with anything that God calls us to do.” – Crawford Loritts, Leadership as an Identity. p. 63-64

The Necessity and Fullness of Assurance

To be assured, and re-assured is one of our most basic human emotional needs.  A child needs to be assured of their parents love for them, so they don’t grow up in a despairing desert of loneliness.  A teenager needs to be assured of their friend’s companionship, that they “got their back”, so the channels of adolescence are lived out in meaningful friendships.  A wife needs to be assured of her husband’s unfailing love, so she feels safe and cherished in the arms that still want to sweep her away into the horizon called “happily ever after.”

Many things confuse people, but just as many bring stability.  A teacher who doesn’t know an answer, or a friend who just doesn’t know how to console can be very frustrating and unassuring.  But a teacher who has wise answers and a friend who can pour wisdom into your life can breathe the fresh air of assurance into your life.

And because we are spiritual beings, we also need spiritual assurance.  We like to know that our spirits are at rest for good reason and not just for the feeling, or if our spirits are in turmoil we need to know how and where to remedy the tumultuous boilings that spring up in our soul.

There is immense assurance in spirit that we can have through knowledge of the mystery of God.  “Ok, that’s weird.  That’s a little spacey and ‘out there’.  So if I know the mystery of God, I’ll find assurance?”  Indeed!  The mystery of God is knowable.  Consider this word from Colossians;

“For I want to you know how great a struggle I have for you…to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery…” Col. 2:1-4

The “full assurance” is attainable.  Not partial, not a down-payment, FULL assurance.  Bombproof assurance.

Now a quick word about this “full assurance”.  It is attainable, yes, but how.  Through understanding.  The full description of this assurance is “the riches of full assurance of understanding”.  To get a larger contextual picture of what’s being talked about it, lets enlarge our view of the surrounding verses;

“…to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:2-3

So the mystery of God, is Christ (read the surrounding chapters to get a feel for why he chose that word ‘mystery’).  The answer to humanity’s crys and pleas, is Christ.  All wisdom and truth finds its culmination in Christ, from whom every wisdom and truth comes from.  Christ is the source; he is the lake of wealth from which all rivers finds its source.

Perhaps you need assurance for your spirit.  You may not be entirely sure in terms of really knowing where you will go after you die.  You can’t be sure.  Or maybe you are sure, but you’re not sure where you stand with Christ.  Who is He to you?  What if you knew one thing, that if you knew it, could save you from everything, and rejecting that one thing will cost you everything?

That one thing is Christ.  Know Christ, you gain…everything!  Reject Him….you lose everything.  It is said in Christ, “all treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden.  Know Christ, you have access to that treasure.  Know Christ, gain assurance in your spirit.  You may not have “full” assurance at first, but by learning the word of God, learning what Christ said, learning about your place in Christ, your assurance will grow to its fullness.

Terry Jones and Politics, Pulpit and the Quran

Everyone reading this, please watch this video first, and then proceed.

I just want to contrast the core of what two pastors said and draw light to one of them (and hopefully show one is really not so much a pastor at all)

Reverend Ed Rowe

“I’m here to say, the Quran was not just burned.  The “quran burning” burned everything Jesus said on the Mount of Olives, it burned every statement Jesus made.  I’m here to say there is nothing in the gospels that support the burning of the Quran.”

Reverend Terry Jones

“We did not come [to Dearborn] to demonstrate against the Quran.  The only thing we ask is that they honor and obey the constitution of the United States.  If they are willing to do that, then our message is one of ‘welcome.'”

I want to highlight two words that makes Reverend Terry Jones more like “Republican” Terry Jones.

“Gospel” and “constitution.”

What does Reverend Ed Rowe quote for his authority?(Gospel)  What does Terry Jones quote for his reason of demonstrating?(Constitution)  For Terry we clearly see that he is using and abusing his pulpit for “patriotic” propaganda!

At the core of Terry’s worldview, is an extremely messed up idea of government.  For some the order, the system, the infra-structure that a government brings constitutes the blood in their veins, they’re all about government.  They believe in the solutions, they believe in the people who founded it.  They might even be dreaming that it is a perfect system.

It’s interesting to consider the story of the prophet Samuel and Israel’s first king, Saul.  With all the chaos happening in Israel, God was pleased to place someone in charge, to put order to this chaos.  Right?  I mean, they needed help, so it would have made sense to appoint a king, someone to put int place a “system”, or a government.  Wrong!  What did God say exactly when Israel asked for a king to be over them?

“Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations’ but the thing displeased Samuel….And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but rejected me…”  I Samuel 8:5-7

What?  Israel rejected God by asking for a king?  How is that?  Listen further, this drives to the core of the sufficiency of God.

“…for they have not rejected you, but rejected me from being king over them.  According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.” vv. 7-9

God is sufficient?  For everything?  Indeed yes!  And so it is a slight form of idolatry that government is.  It’s when a people like Israel say, “We cannot see God, we cannot touch God, and we cannot tell if he is even there.  Let us appoint for ourselves a person, or an assembly of people to act like God, to determine the laws, to perceive what is right and wrong for us.”

And so, Republican Terry Jones (not Reverend), a loyal patriot to his great nation, commits idolatry of the slightest kind, and with stars and stripes across his heart he burns a book.  Radicals burn things!  Cars are burned in riots, flags are torched in protests, and people light themselves on fire in utter desperation.

Are we radicals?  Are Christians to be different?  You bet!  Are we to burn books?  No!  Those who seek the warfare of the physical, take on physical means!  Bullets, propaganda, bombs, and mobs.  Those who wage war on spiritual forces, arm themselves with spiritual armor.  Equipped and empowered with the zeal of God for the lost, we ought to live like Christ.  Set the captives free!  Champion the light into darkness!  Breathe life into dead bones!  Love the unlovable!  Correct the uncorrectable!  Give a firm hand to those who would slight you, but do not strike.  Pour water into leaky and dry cisterns, but do not exhaust your own.  Give, give and give as if you have to draw on supernatural resources to continue!

Terry Jones misunderstands government as a pastor.  Government has its place, it is a terrific thing, don’t get me wrong.  But I am embarrassed of my brother when stupid gospel-less things come out of his mouth.  A pastor seeks the Glory of God.  A statesman seeks the Glory of a Nation.  Two different offices; two different people.  One seeks the coming of a perfect ruler to a perfect kingdom; the other seeks to make his rule perfect.

Pray for Terry!  He not only burns Qurans, but bridges!

Rescue! The Main Mission.

When I graduated High School, I did the thing every 18 year old does.  Ponder his years that are now stretching like the sky before him.  In those early years I considered a carreer in the Coast Guard.  I wanted to serve my country, I could swim, and I thought it would be pretty neat to lay down some law on thugs!  Like pork is the neglected white meat, so the Coast Guard is one of the government forces not talked about much.  Their bigger brother the Marines or his twin, the Army usually get all the attention, but I respect the Coast Guard so much!  Daily they bring in and prevent an average of 110 pounds of drugs every day (I think the stat is) from crossing our borders.

The ipitome of the coast guard is their Search and Rescue teams that go by plane or helicopter and rescue people in dire and often quite dangerous situations.  Did you tip your sailboat while stuck in a deep sea storm?  Who you gonna call?  The coast guard!!  Your ship starting to take on water hundreds of miles off the coast of the Keys, who you gonna call?  Held at gun point by modern-day pirates, who you gonna call?  JIMMY JOHNS!!!  (it’s a Chicago commercial where people who are….never mind….if you don’t get it, you don’t get it, I’m sorry).

My favorite act of the Coast Guard is when people are picked up by helicopter.  You know the drill, the rescuer gets let down by cable with a rescue vest, and as the helicopter hovers over the water, the poor guy who hasn’t eaten in days gets picked up and hoisted into saving safety!!

My question to you is this.  How do those rescuers get so confident in what they do, that they do it day in and day out?  I would argue it is because:

1)      They know their gear inside and out.

2)      They know what their limits are, and know when to back out.

3)      They know they put themselves in harm’s way, but rely on their training.

Let me make an analogy, and pose a question.  When it comes to evangelism, why are so many of us timid, scared, and flat out reluctant to share the gospel of Christ?  It’s a legitimate question right?  Why are we timid about sharing the VERY bit of information about the cross of Christ, that could save them.

That rescuer, who lowers himself down to the flailing sailor, is absolutely confident because he knows that cable that has been tested for 1,000 lbs. can beyond a doubt hold him, 180 lbs, plus 820 more lbs.  He has trust in the cable letting him down, therefore he does not doubt.  At times the circumstances doesn’t allow him to.  With winds sometimes making the maneuver unsafe itself, and elements in such a condition that the rescuer himself is in sure danger of dying himself, but he is driven by one thing.  His purpose!!  TO RESCUE!!

You know where I’m going.  For you believers in Jesus Christ, there are many all around you who need salvation, who are sinking, who need someone to reach out with the hand of salvation.  But we get timid.  Perhaps were not sure were totally saved ourselves, perhaps were not sure that the rescuee doesn’t feel like they need to be saved, perhaps we think they couldn’t be saved, or perhaps we feel like we don’t have what it takes to save.

Perhaps a good question to ask yourself at this point is, how do I know I’m saved, and how can I spend this next year memorizing and digesting verses that assure me of my place with God.  The evil one has a way of throwing mud on your windshield, and you may cry out, “Oh no, am I even on the right track!?”  Just clean the mud off, and push down the gas pedal.

Brothers and sisters;

1)      Get to know your gear inside and out.  Know your Bible, know what God has to say about you.  He’s crazy about you!  He wants to surround your life with such bullet proof assurance!

2)      You know your limits.  Guess what, as God as your Father, YOU HAVE NO LIMITS!!  The God who created this universe, who crafted your soul, who has prepared a place for you when you die, has…your…back!!

3)      We know we put ourselves in harms way when we share the gospel, but we know the truth.  Jesus said “I’m sending you out as sheep among wolves.”  The world does not want to hear the message at times, but they don’t know what they’re saying when they reject Christ, and the rescue must continue.

Eternity in hell is too great a risk,  to spend our years on earth mumbling, hoping, theorizing, hovering above those who are sinking and NOT ACT!!  Do whatever it takes to save some!

A call to Man Up! and “expose” the darkness!

When two countries are at war with each other, unnoticed and dark conspiracies are made.  Special ops, secret services, undercover agents, and spys are dispatched to different parts of the land in enmity.  Sometimes these forces are noticed by the commoners of the land who dwell there, and when they find a spy an alarm is made.  A telegraph sent, a letter mailed, a general notified, and a decision is made to effectively make a blow to the spy, to hunt him out and find him.  In order for that to happen, the commoner, farmer, doctor, house-wife, or paper-boy, has to spot him first.  When the spy is realized for his threat, he sounds an alarm.  In effect he is yelling, “Here he is, one who is not supposed to be among us.  A threat!  A mole!  Kill him! Get him!”

So it must be with spiritual warfare also.  Colossians calls upon us to kill our sins daily!  Every day we lead spiritual lives, and there are evil forces at work among us to undo us, to upset us, to confuse and frustrate us to the point of uselessness.  The worst weapon the evil one has amongst us subtlety.  He is so subtle in his ways!  So we ought to be vigilant always.

My call to attention today is for men.  Men who have fallen asleep perhaps, or those of us who may need a reminder of whats really happening (as I do also).  Ephesians calls us to be “sober” and to be “awake.”

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” v. 13

But the verse I have for men everywhere is this!!

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

Men, you want to see your homes transformed, you want to be that bright and shining light in the workplace, you want to be a man of God, you want to be the leader God wants you to be?  Call out sin in your own life, and others lives for what it is.  Poison!  You don’t flirt with spies, you don’t get to know spies over the course of a year or two, you don’t cover him up so that no one finds out who he is or where you’re hiding him, lest you become a traitor of your own country.  You don’t deal lightly with sin; you deal harshly!  Because you are treating it for what it really is.  A threat to you and your family around you!

Scripture says not to take part in any darkness.  What is darkness?  In broad strokes, anything that takes the place of the affection God deserves.  If God has to compete for something in your heart, its probably darkness; an idol.  How does Ephesians name darkness?  Sexual immorality, impurity, jealousy, foolishness, drunkeness and theres more.  In fact, the scripture says something very sobering about one who is consumed by these things:

“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” Ephesians 5:5

Now if you are one who is struggling against these tendencies, I would say this does not pertain to you.  But if you still surrender yourselves, so as to give your whole affection, to these things, this verse is for you.

My call?  Man up!  Realize with me, with an ever growing depth and heartiness, what it means to be a man of God in killing sin among us, and not indulging in it, in ANY measure.  Stop playing those mental games while you dance on the edge of the fence.  Stop putting yourselves in situations where you know God is not honored.  Stop…and seek Him, seek His strength, seek His will for you in the Word.  Press in to Him!  Realize who you are.  We are protectors!  Lets protect our family!

Also, as fellow soldiers lets encourage each other and “all the more as we see the day of Christ approaching.”  A lone soldier is sometimes a dead soldier.

Press on brothers and sisters!

The most mis-used and mis-understood passage in Christendom today!

We were at a meeting at our church and someone was sick.  Very sick, and so we took 10 minutes to pray for her.  In the midst of our prayers for her someone prayed, “And we thank you God that you hear us, because when two or three gathered in your midst, you are here.”  In my head I was cringing.  But in a breath I was able to push it out of my head and get back to praying for her.

I believe Matthew 18:19 is the most mis-used and mis-understood in our churches today.  “When two or three are gathered in my name, I am among you” is a phrase most mis-used to the fault of poor hermeneutics.

When people use scripture in a way that is out of context for which the scripture was written, my theological teeth start grinding.  At that moment I’m in a conflict; do I stand up as “that man” and clarify “ladies and gentlemen, we are mis-using this scripture here and now, behold, the proper way to actuate what this passage was intended for”, or do I just sit back, and let the community do what they’re doing.  So far I haven’t felt the dire need to stand up and perform the previous (mostly because it would be a wee bit awkward), because not too much is in jeopardy in the moment.

It is my heart-cry for the people of God to learn to read scripture and interpret it rightly, and we do a great job at it, mostly.  The age of post-modernism and relativity has already made a dangerous mark on the science of hermeneutics (the study of interpreation of the Bible) in the church today.  Relativism has influenced some among us to adopt the attitude of “well thats what the scripture says for you, but not for me” and thus opening themselves to the vulnerability of heresy.  And so it is my goal to take this widely misunderstood passage and put some boundaries of interpretation on it (I’m not saying the way we mis-use this passage is heresy though).

I don’t even need to give the passage an introduction, as to what it says, Matthew 18:19, so here it is,

“Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

When Jesus said, “anything thing they ask” he wasn’t talking about something that usually comes up in church prayer meetings, illnesses, financial problems, marital issuess, etc. But I do need to clarify what the context is surrounding this text.  The context is instruction by Christ in how to confront a brother who has offended you,

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone.” v. 15

I want to point out two things in this passage, and it is 1) confrontation and 2) the need for accountability or witnesses.

“But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” vv. 16-17

As you read it, you can tell there are two things being explained.  The necessity to attempt to reconcile bad air with a brother who has offended you.  If he is hard-headed and won’t listen to you, bring more people so they can witness things, and perhaps be of help.  Ones own rebelliousness is better self-illuminated by the more varied wisdom and advice coming from multiple people, rather than just one.   If he has indeed have such a hard-heart that he doesn’t listen to the church’s admonishing for him to repent, he is in a sense to be considered the lowest of the low to the church (which is a reflection on how God sees people who’s hearts are hardened).  Here we begin to realize how the passage we misuse is used in this context.  Note the emphasis is having witnesses around you, and accountability for the offender.  Consider the passage we misuse in this new context,

“…if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” v. 19

The fact that God says “I am among them” gives two things to this passage. 1) God is there and listening to the whole thing and if two or three ask things of God, God will honor it, and 2) He is the ultimate witness.  He witnesses all things, nothing goes by Him unseen.

The spirit in which this passage is usually used in church now-a-days, is one in which we are encouraging others that God is in our presence because two or three are gathered, or in the sentiment that God is there in power, not just in presence.  But God is among us all the time is what the scripture teaches.  God is among us, because He will not leave us nor will he forsake us, we are His sons and daughters in whom he delights.  So it is true when we say He is in our midst, but we mis-use that passage when we say He is here BECAUSE two or three gathered.  If we want to be totally scriptural about this, God is with us as a witness for help when confrontation is on the agenda, and is the ultimate accountability when seeking resolution with a brother.

I write this out of love for my kingdom brothers and sisters, not out of frustration.  It is my desire that together we become EXCELLENT at taking apart scripture and digesting it properly!  Right theology dictates right living!  Happy scripture reading my family!

Muslim Christian dialogue in Dubai last year

Thabiti Anyabwile is part of the Gospel Coalition and last was at a Christian Muslim dialogue conference. This is one where each respectfully presented their cases, and is a good example of how it can be done. I encourage you to watch the trailer here.

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