Thursday, February 24, 2011

Losing in Christ

"Rediscovering the gospel enabled me to see that, because Jesus was strong for me, I was free to be weak. Because Jesus won for me, I was free to lose. And it is only when you are free to lose that you are free to live with unbounded courage and risk and sacrifice.

Life cannot beat a man who doesn't care if he loses. When you are afraid to lose, circumstances will kill your joy and make you a slave. But if you are in Christ, your identity is secure and you are free to give everything you have. You have nothing to prove or protect." -Tullian Tchividjian "Giving Thought to Gospel 'Math': Why Jesus + Nothing = Everything"

Monday, February 21, 2011

Real Preaching

"Expository preaching begins with the preacher's determination to present and explain the text of the Bible to his congregation. This simple starting point is a major issue of division in contemporary homiletics, for many preachers - from Harry Emerson Fosdick onward - assume that they must begin with a human problem or question and then work backward to the biblical text. On the contrary, expository preaching begins with the text and works from the text to apply its truth to the lives of believers."

-Al Mohler, He Is Not Silent pg. 66

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sweeter Than Honey

"The law of the LORD is perfect,
     reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
     making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
     rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
     enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
     enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
     and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
     even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
     and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
     in keeping them there is great reward."
                                           Psalm 19:7-11

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Recently I've realized that I have a peculiar interest in death. Don't get me wrong - I believe with Paul that to live is Christ and die is gain. However, I have no real obsession with passing from this world soon. What I have discovered though is the inherent understanding about death that it can come at any moment.

Think about it. Only one beat of the heart or only one breath separates each of us from death. Only one second or one moment in time could be separating us from where we will spend eternity. This moment comes unexpectedly for many and expectedly for a few. Some people live with a conscious recognition of their own mortality, while others deny unto death that they will die.

I've come to believe that we will live life with more urgency and passion when we come to understand our own frailty. We will evangelize with more urgency. We will care and love more deeply. Death comes to all and so therefore we cannot live as if it will not come to us.

Psalm 39 has given me some of this understanding of our frailty. Verses 4 and 5 share with us these words: "O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!"

David here asks for the kind of understanding of his frailty and ultimately his smallness versus the immensity and power of God. When we understand how quickly life can be taken away, the life that we do have will be used more preciously. Sadly, even with an understanding of how fleeting my life is, I still live with little urgency. I shudder to think of how I would live otherwise. May we learn the measure of our days and use them for the glory of God.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Christianity Isn't for Celebrities

This morning on the radio I heard how Justin Bieber's latest project, a movie, was going to include a Bible study associated with it. For more information see here. I was fascinated by this, because, like Ozzy Osbourne I didn't really know what a Bieber was. (Well, I knew who he was but honestly had no clue he was a Christian.) No, this fascinated me because the movie from what I can understand has no indication of his faith at all. It's an interesting look into (Christian) pop culture to see what Christian celebrities do to promote their faith.

Now to the somewhat provocative title of this post. American Christianity for whatever reason likes to make role models out of popular Christians and put celebrities who are Christians up on a pedestal of sorts. However, the problem lies in that so many of these Christians we set up to fail with even the slightest of sins. For men like Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers outfielder, whom the Christian culture likes to claim as one of our own (and rightfully so, as he seems to be a genuine Christian man), we set them up to fail with the slightest sin and relapse into an addiction. We must remember, as Shai Linne says in the song Spurgeon, "the best man is a man at best."

This week at our small group we looked at most of Luke 18. In it there are two tales of men which applies to the Christian celebrity culture. The first is the tale of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. In it, the Pharisee flouts his goodness, while the tax collector proclaims his sinfulness. The literal translation of the tax collector's phrase would be "God, be merciful to me the sinner."

Later in Luke 18, verses 18-30 to be exact, there is the story of the rich man who comes to Jesus trying to find the way for eternal life. This man is unwilling to forsake his identity being in his riches. He is unwilling to let go of his riches and grab onto Jesus. He is unwilling to set his riches to the side in order to focus fully on Christ.

This just proves that our identity must rest on being in Christ and not on any of the things of the world, even any of the creations of God Himself. Our identity is to be found solely in who we are in Christ. Our identity isn't to be a celebrity, nor is it to be rich, nor is it to be athletic, nor is it to be a musician... Our identity is in Christ.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Just Shut Up!

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. -Proverbs 30:32

Many times we find ourselves at points where we pointlessly pontificate over various positions that we hold or want to ponder. Far too often at these times we talk and talk and talk without giving much thought to the words that are coming out of our mouth. We talk and almost enjoy being right about whatever it is that we are discussing. We talk and we enjoy having the last word on that which we are working through. We get to a certain point where we talk almost with the purpose of hearing our own voice.

Far too often I find myself talking and loving what I hear. That is, my own voice. I find myself clever. I find myself seeking out being right and getting the last word on things. Unfortunately, this only feeds into my own pride. My pride always rears its ugly head when it comes to discussions of seeming importance.

One of the most important things that I have learned and am learning is something which this verse in Proverbs brings forward in my mind. It is important to learn when it is appropriate to just shut up. I have gotten myself in far too many bad situations in my life with nothing more than my mouth. Learning to shut up, or merely just put my hand on my mouth, would save myself from much trouble. In addition, it would keep me from falling prey to the sin of pride in exalting myself. My words are not what matters. Keeping myself close to God's words, living them out, matters so much more.