What Should I Write Today?

joel osteen

Here I am…  It’s Thursday and it’s relatively normal.  Whatever “normal” means.  I’m going about my day, thinking about things, working, mostly thinking about things.

What do I think about you might ask?  Nothing really important, probably the same things you think about.  Life, family, work, the upcoming weekend, the upcoming trips I’m forced to take.

My life is terribly mundane and boring for the most part.  And I’m thankful for that.

I have an amazing wife.  (Jen, did you catch that).  I have four children that love me and I love them.  It’s still a thrill for me when I come home and the two little ones yell out, “Daaaaad!”  And then run toward and almost knock me over with their 35-pound frames.

Life is good, as they say…

Oh, sure I suppose Jen and I wrangle a little bit over a thing or two, but nothing serious.  Eventually, she recognizes that I was right.  😉  After 27 years and 258 days of marriage, we have things mostly figured out.

As I’m thinking about what to say today, I thought, “you know, I’ve got it good”.  Since my blogging reboot, I’ve tried to be “positive”, “devotional” and mostly up-beat.  Christianity should be “up-beat”, and full of joy, so when I’m thinking about how to apply biblical truths to everyday life I think about stuff, or I think about the Bible and say, “how does this apply?”

I could go a dozen directions here but let’s borrow a phrase and live a victorious life, but not in the way you might think.  I don’t mean, the promises of health, wealth and material possessions until all your personal desires have been fully satisfied.  Let’s be a little more theologically correct than that and besides if that’s your benchmark you’ll never make it.

Victorious living comes in the person of Christ through redemption bought and paid at the foot of a bloody cross.  It is here our salvation has been purchased.  It is here we can rejoice at the mundane-ness of life, at the beauty in the simplicity of living with those you love and you are thankful for every breath you’ve been given.  I don’t need more “stuff” to experience that.

I and you can rejoice even when it’s not always going so well.  Because the victory is already won.

Be gracious to me, O LORD!  See my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death, that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion I may rejoice in your salvation.  – Psalm 9:13-14

The psalmist was victorious even in his affliction.  I’m not here to paint the perfect picture of my family and say it’s the “be all end all” of the substance of my life.  Yes, that is a wonderful blessing, but he points to something even better.  Salvation.

If something happens to my picture perfect family unit, I above all have Christ.  I love my family, don’t misunderstand me here, but Christ is my greatest treasure.  And what’s so awesome and cool, is that my wife says the same thing.

Kevin

Sticks

olive tree b w

I posted a quote on Facebook yesterday and it goes like this

“The best way to prove a stick is crooked is to lay a straight one beside it” Vance Havner

I suppose Vance Havner said this, I can’t verify that it’s true but there are a bunch of similar statements made by well-known people throughout history.  Charles Spurgeon, Dwight Moody, Corrie ten Boom said: “God can give a straight blow with a crooked stick.”

Spurgeon is always so Spurgeon-Esq in how he phrases it.

If a crooked stick is before you, you need not explain how crooked it is.  Lay a straight one down by the side of it, and the work is well done.  Preach the truth, and error will stand abashed in its presence.

Here is the crux of the issue.  I don’t care about sticks…  I do care about the truth.

When we lay a straight stick next to a crooked stick we can see the difference.  That’s the point of the quote.  If we gather enough information and evidence to compare the sticks it makes it really easy to see.

It’s when we “won’t” compare them is when the trouble occurs.  If we refuse or if we believe our sticks are already straight this creates a cognitive dissonance of sorts.  We reject reality and critical thinking.

This often times always requires getting outside of our bubble.   Inside our bubble things are safe.  The status quo is rarely never challenged.    If we have indicators around us that things are not right then we need to be Berean.  We should always be Berean.  We should always compare what we are hearing to what the Scripture says and to what others teach.

Let’s say we hear “new” teaching, do we just trust that it’s okay?  Or do we challenge it?  Do we compare?  We have thousands of years of teaching, we have solid teaching all around us, so don’t just trust for the sake of trusting.

Crooked sticks abound.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32

Kevin

 

Transformation

transformation

What does it mean to believe in something?

I believe my wife loves me but how do I know this to be true?

John 3:16 says that whoever “believes” will inherit eternal life.  That sounds easy enough.  Okay, I believe.  Done.  On to the next topic…

Is it really this simple?  Well, yes, in some respects it is that simple, but then it gets more complicated.  Now what?

Going back to the question about my wife loving me.  The way I know, and the way I trust my wife loves me is how she interacts with me, and the way she behaves toward me.  Or maybe I should turn this around.  How do I behave toward her?

If I won’t speak to her, or I don’t care what she thinks about things, or I don’t interact with her in a way that shows love toward her, if my attention is toward another, then do I really love her?

Suppose I was away on a trip for many months and she sent me letters and I never read them.  I never picked up the phone to call her and ask how things are at home.  Does this give the impression I really care?

Belief transforms our behaviors.  Belief says we “do” by the way we act.  I don’t act to believe, I act because I believe.

This is why Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”  You can talk about how much you love Christ but outside of your actions, these are just words.

Do you read His letters?  Do you call on Him through prayer?

Are your affections turned toward Him?  This is at the bottom of true belief a transformation from one at enmity toward God to one that loves and desires a close intimate relationship with God through His Son.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:1

Kevin

Idols?

idol-7

And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. He struck down the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city. 2 Kings 18:3-8

If you’ve ever read through the Old Testament and been perplexed by the things written you are probably not alone.  It’s an oddity in many respects.  One king does evil, the next king does evil, the follow king does more evil in the sight of the Lord and then finally one comes along that did what was right.  Here comes Hezekiah.  At last a relief to all the wicked kings and their wicked rule.

Really, what is the point to all this?  Do you suppose God has a purpose in telling us these things?  Well, certainly He does and we should really pay attention because the lessons are significant.

While we don’t live in a day where we generally erect poles and have metal or wooden statutes on our mantel’s we often have more idols than we may realize.  Yes, idol worship is alive and well but probably not the way you think it is.  Now at this point, I should be cautious.  I’ve known of places that make everything an idol.  The love of your family can be an idol, even healthy and honorable things are called idols.  I don’t believe God sees it all as idol worship but we should be aware and cautious of our own hearts.

Look at what Spurgeon said about this topic

We are not to worship any other god, and we are not to worship the true God by the use of representative symbols.  He is a Spirit and is to be worshiped in spirit and in truth and not by the use of visible imagery.  The human mind since the fall finds it hard to keep to this.  There is much idol breaking to be done in the church of God.

We can pretty easily point to Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy and say, “yep… see those icons they have…  tear ’em down”, and we are correct that this does not worship God in the way He has required and He has indeed prohibited this form of worship but since we are “Reformed” or we are “Protestants” we get this right.  Well, perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to make this assumption.

Spurgeon continues

For example, we are all too apt as Christians to place some degree of reliance on those God in his infinite mercy raises up to be leaders in the Christian church.  We ought to be thankful for the Paul who plants so well and the Apollos who waters so ably, but the danger is that we look to the person not only with the respect that is due to him as God’s ambassador but with some degree of superstitious reliance on his authority and ability.

Ouch!

If your pastor is a godly leader you can be very thankful.  You owe him the honor for his labor and work, but he is a man that has faults and sins just as you do and just as I do.  By all means, he should be held accountable.  A dictatorial leader is all too common and should be run out of the ministry, so just like in all things there needs to be a balance.  But never exalt this man too highly.

Spurgeon concludes with this illustration from an old Puritan

Suppose a loving husband were to give to his wife many rings and jewels out of love to her, and she should come to think so highly of the love tokens that she sat and looked at them, and admired them, and forgot her husband?

These idols must be smashed…  let us never forget our first love.  It is Christ that saved us,  it is Christ that bought and paid for us.  How dare we focus our attention on another.

Kevin

 

Air Travel, Election & D.B. Cooper

d.b.cooper

Boarding a plane is a lot of fun… ok, not really fun per se, but always interesting.

I’ve gone from being an “elite” flyer to “welcome to the cattle call”. Oh well, life goes on and really it means I travel less and I’m home more. Pretty grateful for the change.

Yesterday I boarded a plane and it’s fun to try and figure out what runs through peoples minds, who are these people?

The businessman, the athlete, the cowboy (I was on my way to Dallas after all), the next D.B. Cooper perhaps… Most folks are normal I suppose, but I think I’m normal and I’m not.

I’m not but not in the way you might think or even I think.  I’m different because of the work of another. It really had nothing to do with me. It’s a weird thing for the human mind to comprehend.

The doctrine of election says God chose you before time began (Ephesians 1:4) and that makes me unique.  Again, can I reiterate it was not my doing?  I take no credit for it, I played no part in it, but yet the gain is mine.  It is quite humiliating and that really is the point of election.  You were dead one day and then one day you were alive.

We are talking about the spiritual reality of life and death (Ephesians 2:1).  God uses this precious doctrine to teach us something.  Mainly, God is in control and we are not.  He teaches the vessels of mercy, a rich understanding of their reliance upon Him.

Election may very well be the most hated doctrine in all of Christianity and it is because it takes away human autonomy.  It says to our sinful selves…  “you can’t.”  “But I can.  Therefore, stop trying.  Believe in Me and be saved.”

At the bottom of all of the supposed controversy about the doctrine of election, there is this simple reality.  Lay down your arms.  Turn back to God and receive His forgiveness and grace.

The parallel reality to God’s sovereign choice is that nothing keeps you from Him but your hard and impenitent heart.  Like an unsolvable mystery; sometimes there are truths we must accept and they are reserved only for the mind of God.  The Bible teaches God is sovereign in salvation and man is accountable.  Don’t miss this.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Kevin