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…who can stand before jealousy?

June 12, 2011

Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy? Proverbs 27:4

A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  Proverbs 15:1

A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again.  Proverbs 19:19

Speaking of False Teachers (which aren’t lacking in our day)

June 12, 2011

By Derek Hess http://www.derekhess.com (taken with permission) Good fitting scripture to accompany this piece: 2 Peter 2:19b "...For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved."

A couple of days ago I asked Derek Hess on his FB page if he would mind if I used his art and commented on it, in short, he said go for it, so I will.   I think allot of his art speaks to me and causes me to think on many biblical subjects and or topics.  I like most of his art, it’s gritty, it’s raw and speaks volumes.  Sometimes I can’t even explain what I feel when I look at it, but it hits and connects somewhere.  Now, what I get from it may not be what he is trying to put out, but that’s besides the point.  The cool thing about art is that every one looks at it from a different angle and thus gets something different from it.

This piece has so many angles, you can come at it in so many different ways.  It’s dark, it speaks of someone in captivity, someone in misery.  Someone who has given up the struggle.  I see the person being enveloped by a force bigger than himself, completely overpowered.  Ensnared, trapped, without hope, exhausted. a prisoner. a slave.

The scripture that came to mind doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a person being exhausted and wanting out, but it does speak to slavery.  The scripture passage addresses false teachers, which Peter  (the apostle) is warning the Christians against.  So, speaking of false teachers Peter writes:  These (false teachers) “are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm.  For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.  They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.  For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.”  2 Peter 2:17-19

Opposite of this, the gospel is a proclamation of freedom.  The truth is that Jesus came to set the captives free and to bring them out of slavery.  Just as we see in the account of Moses when God uses him to bring the Israelites out of the captivity of Egypt, into the promised land so Jesus came to set us free and will eventually bring us into the promised land.  Along the way there will be those who will try to ensnare you and bring you into captivity, but turn away from them and follow Jesus who is the Savior of all of mankind.  “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved (set free) through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because  he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” – John 3:18

Since the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, rules and regulations aren’t the solution – Jesus is.

June 9, 2011

By Derek Hess http://www.derekhess.com (used with permission)

Last night I was listening to a sermon by Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  These are notes I took, some of them may be verbatim quotes and some of them may not be verbatim and slightly remixed.  I wrote them down in a hurry and yes, at times I did use the pause button.  These notes, quotes, comments and remixes I wrote came from my listening to  part 12 of a series called Jesus + Nothing = Everything, a series on Colossians, a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians.  I’m just going to bullet point my notes and thoughts.  This is mainly for my own documentation and hopefully by re-documenting these notes will stick and have a more profound impact on my understanding of the gospel in my life, that and I figured maybe others can benefit from the notes/quotes as well.

A comment on the art piece:  Not sure what the original artist interpretation is of his picture other than what I gather from the caption Burned Out.  To me it resembles a man who was crucified, not by accident, but because of His great love for us He went to the cross to pay the debt we could not pay.  John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”.    John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Here’s a compilation of some of the notes I took from the sermon with my own additions:  “Dear world, dear fellow human beings and dear Christian please hear me!  Christianity isn’t all about observing certain codes of behavior and abstaining from others, Christianity isn’t all about rules and standards, good behavior and cleaning up your act.  I know that this is what the church has been communicating to you…external conformity and behavioral modification…  Christianity is about the gospel and the gospel is about Jesus’ performance for us, on our behalf, NOT our performance for Him.  The gospel is about receiving a new life!  It’s not you must do it’s Jesus already did!  We can’t contribute to our salvation, the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.  Let no one insist that you must qualify yourself by doing certain things and observing certain religious rituals.  If the focus is on what you must do instead of what Jesus has already done it’s ANTI-gospel.  My friends listen-up!  While our sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches infinitely farther.  It doesn’t matter how bad you are or the bad things you’ve done.  God’s capacity to clean things up is infinitely larger than our capacity to mess things up!  Since the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, rules and regulations aren’t the solution, Jesus is.  Behavior modification can not change the human heart, outside clean-up never leads to inside clean-up, inside clean-up leads to outside clean-up, but there’s only One who can do that and that is Jesus.  You may say:  “But God has demands”, and I’ll say:  “He sure does”.  But God’s grace isn’t seen in the lessening of His demands toward us.  God has always and will always demand perfect obedience!  His grace is experienced when we come to realize that His perfect demands for each of us have already been met by Jesus.  He lived the perfect life, keeping all of God’s laws, thus living the life we could not live, and He died the death, the death we all deserve for being breakers of God’s demands, the death we should have died.  Listen up!  Christianity is the ONLY faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them!  This is the gospel and truly one would be a fool to turn this down.  Now, this is a hard thing to grasp, because we would rather work it out in our own way, but by doing that we really are spitting in His face, saying that His ways aren’t good and that our ways are better…herein lies the issue, it’s pride, the very essence of sin.”

Notes by bullets:

  • The greatest threat to the gospel as it works out in our lives is legalism –> which ironically develops inside the church.  –> Our relationship with God does not depend on our performance.  My thought:  It’s so easy to be legalistic and so hard to accept and understand grace!  Look at the contrast in the scriptures.  The prostitute understands grace, the pharisee does not.  The younger brother in the story of the prodigal son understands grace, the older brother does not.  The broken, needy and hurting understand grace, the proud, and self-righteous do not.
  • Arch Bishop William Temple:  “The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.”  My thought: Isn’t that the truth?  We were sinning when we first responded to the gospel and since then, we still sin, always contributing and thus God is always saving and therefore the gospel is always necessary and never gets old.  This is why I can only properly live in light of the gospel, because apart from the gospel I resort to my own ways of dealing with my daily sin.  I quickly resort to works, forgetting that God in Christ has already forgiven me, that He already paid the price on the cross and that He already declared me righteous.  Not because of me, but because of what Jesus has done for me.
  • Legalism is the idea that you become acceptable through your own doing.
  • Legalism = I obey, therefore I am accepted.  Gospel = I am accepted therefore I obey.
  • Legalism = obedience precedes acceptance.  Gospel = Acceptance precedes obedience.
  • Ed Stetzer:  “Christianity isn’t turning over a new leaf.  It’s receiving a new life.  It’s not you must DO, it’s Jesus already DID.”  My thought:  So often at work and just in life I meet people who turn over new leafs and yet, none I have met are ever satisfied, they keep on searching, and in vain it is when you don’t encounter Christ.
  • The Gospel Focuses on Jesus’ performance for us, not our performance for Him. I’m so thankful, how could I not be, lest I forget who I am without Him.
  • “The determining factor in my relationship to God is not my past or my present, but Christ’s past and His present.” – Pastor from Philly via Tullian Tchividjian
  • While our sin reaches far, God’s grace reaches infinitely farther.  It does not matter how bad you are or the bad things you have done, God’s capacity to clean things up is infinitely larger than our capacity to mess things up.  –> This is the good news of the gospel…Jesus has done on behalf of sinners, what sinners could not do for themselves.
  • C.S Lewis says:  “Legalism – God will love us because we are good”, “Gospel – God will make us good because He loves us” —> in other words, He loves us in order to make us lovely, not because we are lovely.
  • God accepts us on Christ’s performance, we are so often guilty of accepting others on their performance.
  • When rules are divorced from relationship we fall into legalism.
  • Let no one insist that you must qualify yourself by doing certain things and by observing certain religious rituals.
  • If the focus is on what you must do instead of what Jesus has already done it’s anti-gospel.
  • Since the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart, rules and regulations aren’t the solution – Jesus is.
  • External conformity can not bring about  internal transformation.
  • Behavior modification can not change the human heart –> outside clean-up never leads to inside clean-up –> inside clean-up leads to outside clean-up…but there’s only One who can do that.  Jesus.
  • God’s grace isn’t seen in the lessening of His demands toward us.  God has always and will always demand perfect obedience.  His grace is experienced when we come to realize that His perfect demands for each of us have already been met by Jesus.  He lived the life and He died the death we should have died.  Christianity is the only faith system where God both makes the demands and meets them.  Again, this is the gospel (good news).
Hope this is as encouraging to you as it is to me!  God bless!

So then…what exactly is the gospel? And why does it even matter? (pt 1)

June 5, 2011

I feel that starting with this question is almost like putting the cart before the horse, since most people will directly start with Jesus, in this case I won’t.  I guess since I’ve taken up blogging I’ve got time to unpack it all.  I want to mainly write this for others, others who may not know what the gospel is all about or what God is all about and who think Christians are “out to lunch” for believing what they (we)do, and yes….there are some out there who call themselves Christian yet stray far from biblical truth, but don’t let that side track you.

To get right down to it  the gospel is the good news of the fulfillment of God’s promises.  In the gospel account written by Mark (the 2nd book in the new testament) Jesus says:  “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” Mark 1:15 ESV (ESV simply stands for English Standard Version).  Now I know that there may be some words in there that are meaningless or foreign, like “the kingdom or God”, and “repent” and “gospel”.  I’ll get around to defining all of that as I blog.

Anyhow, if you see the first part of what Jesus was saying, “The time is fulfilled”, it points to something before this event and that it is now fulfilled.  (Question) So, what is this statement pointing back to?  (Answer) To the promises God made as seen in the Old Testament.  So the natural question then is?  Why did God make promises and what kind of promises were they?  Well, this takes me to the beginning where I would like to start.  This is probably going to turn into  at least a 10 to 12 part blog series.  But, it’s going to help me paint the big picture of the entire story of God and it will make it a lot more clear as to why Christians believe what they do. I’m not going to go detailed, rather I’m going to put it in overview form, in story form.  Another thing must be said before starting, the bible is my grounds of information, so basically everything I believe about God, the human race and the world is based on what the Bible says about God, the human race and the world.  I believe the bible to be the inspired word of God.  Click here if you want to learn more about that.

So lets dive in…  The story I’m about to tell is taken from, Genesis 1-3, Job 38, Isaiah 14 and Revelation 12

In The Beginning!

Basically the bible says that God was before all things, basically that He has no beginning and no end, He just always WAS, IS and will BE.  And God created  this earth and everything that is in it.  The bible refers to God as Holy and God alone always does what is good, what is right and what is perfect

So we see from the texts (referenced above) that God created everything, the earth and it’s foundations and the angels.  God created the angles to worship Him and as He created the earth and it’s foundations the angels worshipped Him.  Now some of the angles rebelled against God and His ways, apparently led by Lucifer who is referred to in Isaiah 14:12 as Day Star, son of Dawn.  Click here for more info on Lucifer.

In response God  cast them (the rebellious angels) out of His presence  and sent them into the darkness that was on the earth. Later these rebellious angels will face final punishment.  Rebellion against God is called sin, and since God is Holy, He will not allow sin to remain in His presence.  You may ask, what does Holy mean?  Let me give you this definition taken from www.gotquestions.org.  “God’s holiness is what separates Him from all other beings, what makes Him separate and distinct from everything else. God’s holiness is more than just His perfection or sinless purity; it is the essence of His “other-ness,” His transcendence. God’s holiness embodies the mystery of His awesomeness and causes us to gaze in wonder at Him as we begin to comprehend just a little of His majesty.”

In short this is how it all starts.  Next we’ll cover more of creation which includes the creation of man and then the fall of man.

So far, what we can know about God is:  He is eternal ~ Able to Create – powerful ~ Holy – will not allow sin in His presence ~ will not tolerate rebellion/sin against Him

And what we know about angles is that they were created beings and that a part of them rebelled against God and His ways.

Some Thoughts On Worship Music

June 2, 2011

Over the years I realize that I have become pretty selective and opinionated on matters of worship music.  When I think about all that Jesus has done on my behalf, and how God has given me the free gift of grace, the gift of repentance, the gift of the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of new life, the gift of eternal life, and the gift of Himself, (just to name a few)  through Jesus Christ.  When I think of how I am in right standing with Him regardless of how my day or week went, even when I’ve sinned, because my standing is in Christ and on His merit not mine, it causes me to want to worship my God and my Savior, what else can I do?  (Even now as I’m writing this, I am in awe of His goodness toward me).  In other words when I reflect on the Gospel through song, I can’t help but worship.

All that I have and all that I am has been given to me, knowing this and understanding this makes me want to worship, so it’s helpful that worship songs be about Him and not me.  As I hear the music and listen to the words, I am reminded of how great my God is and this then results in worship, and this is how a worship leader leads, by proclaiming how great God is, and how much He has done for His people.  When this happens, I don’t even have to know the song in advance, because the words are edifying, I can listen and or read along and simply agree and amen my way through each song praising God and ascribing all worth to Him, because He is worthy of all praise, glory and honor!

I realize that music in general is able to stir up emotions and affections and once words are added even more so.  But I also realize that many of us can get caught up in the music, the sound and end up getting “trapped” in singing along to some seriously lame and self centered and sometimes meaningless lyrics or repetitious sayings that really don’t have anything to do with worshipping God at all.

Many of us don’t really sit back and think about what is being sung, though we should, to that end let me recommend an album I’ve been enjoying, called Hymns – Take The World But Give Me Jesus, by Ascend The Hill.  They bring a new (modern) sound to lyrics that are tried and true, deep, meaningful and just plain solid.  Here’s the link

Let me also recommend a site by Bob Kauflin  who I believe has a great grip on the subject of worship.  Also, there you will find additional resources to great Godward worship music, I say Godward because not all worship is Godward  http://www.worshipmatters.com/

An Attempt At Blogging

May 28, 2011

I’m not much of a writer but I do think a lot and enjoy reading. So in an effort to develop my thoughts on matters of life and death but especially on the gospel of Jesus Christ and how it affects all of life I’m going to try blogging. Maybe this will prove fruitful, we’ll see.

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