Social Media

price is right

Can social media really have an impact on the lives of those around you?  I think yes is the answer but I have been contemplating by which method this takes place.  I’m writing from a Christian Worldview so I believe that is different than what most write from but I also know Christians that use social media “effectively” and those that just “use social media”…

I’ve personally run just about every gamut of social media that is out there and I must say I’m ashamed of the way I’ve used it at times.  I’m not ashamed of every instance and of all circumstances but I’m certainly ashamed of when I’ve not glorified the Lord Jesus Christ in my usage.  That might be my “over-use” where it has had a negative effect in my home such as spending too much time there, of course that was always in the name of “furthering the gospel” but it has messed some things up in my home.

Or it certainly could be that I’ve desired to win an argument…  Yes, I know we never really set out to win an argument it just happens right?  Especially us Calvinists…  if we just quote a few more verses I’m confident that I can win this guy over to see it my way.

Lately I’ve noticed more than normal what I’d call rants.  Someone wants to make a point so they sort of just yell it out there…  It sort of reminds me of Bob Barker and his famous or infamous, “get fixed” actually I think he meant for your dog or cat to get fixed but whatever  he meant he was sincere about his message and I appreciate that although as sincere as he was; sadly he was sincerely wrong about what really mattered.  He served the creature instead of the Creator as far as I can tell.

But what if our message is even correct, what if it’s a good message?  We can get a reputation or we can be well known for being truthful or being a good Christian but we can also get a reputation as being aggressive or intentionally inflammatory to make our point.  I’ve decided this is not the route I want to take.  Don’t misunderstand we need to discuss error and point it out.  Yes, of course but how often might be a good question.

I’ve traveled several roads in my Christianity and there is a delicate balance between always being harsh and being too soft.  I want to be balanced and I’ve only one place to look for this balance and that is the life of the Lord Jesus.  He walked it perfectly.  He always glorified the Father and He always spoke rightly a word in due season.  I’m not Jesus, but I sure want to be like Him.  At the end of the day I want people to know that they can come to Him if they will but humble themselves.  That forgiveness and salvation is available at the foot of the cross and Christ came to save sinners.  And I recognize that I am foremost.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.  – 1 Timothy 1:15-16

So let’s consider how we do that best and maybe some need to tone it down and maybe someone needs to ramp it up.  I guess that is for you to decide.

 

Kevin

If Only…

if-only

There is a statement that goes something like this…  “I’ll be happy when…” and then you fill in the blank.  Of course we all conjure up things in our minds when we think about a statement like this.

I’ll be happy when I have X amount saved in my 401K…

I’ll be happy when my kids get out of diapers… or I’ll be happy when I retire…

You can go on and on with this and we often do.  Sometimes we do it in a more noble way and we just “look forward” to certain things.  I’m not saying it’s sinful to look forward to things but why can’t we just live in the moment and live for the here and now and be content in the circumstances that we currently reside?

It really is an area that we should consider some discipline in our lives.  An area that can stand some refinements and improvements if you will.  And since this is not a self help blog I won’t try and provide “advice” for you to do that.  I think we must, if we are Christians, consult our truth source.  Perhaps you’ve already thought about a text or two that I might cite.  Maybe you are already jumping ahead and anticipating where I’ll go with this.   But I want to begin at the beginning because sometimes to identify issues in our lives we need to not just jump to the application but it’s better to study the root of the issue.

But the serpent said to the women, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:4-5

From the very beginning the enemy sowed seeds of discontent.  Can you imagine the garden that Adam and Eve were placed was far beyond our imagination in beauty and perfection.  No insects are mentioned in the creation account.  So when Adam and Eve were in the cool of the evening with God they probably weren’t swatting at mosquitoes.  No gnats buzzing in their ears and no poison ivy or wild parsnips that was burning their skin.  They had all the food they could eat and were told to enjoy the surroundings, cultivate the land and procreate…

It was as good as it could possibly be.

Yet what does the serpent do?  He attacks the word of God, and he sows discontent.

“You know…  if you were only allowed to eat that one fruit you were told not to then life would be even “better” than it is now…”

“God is so unfair to you…”  “How could He keep this knowledge from you?”  “What a rotten God He really is…”

The woman had to think quick and Adam stood by and watched it all  happen.  As she thought about it I can imagine what was going on in her mind.

Maybe she thought things like “well, maybe he’s right?”  “Maybe God is holding out on us…”

“It’s so unfair that God would withhold this fruit from us…”  “Don’t we deserve it?”  “I mean Adam works hard every day and all, let’s just put this on credit and pay for it later…”

Given the knowledge of what it might have been like after the fall I wonder if Eve ever regretted the decision?  And sometimes when we “get what we want” the empty and hollow feeling of regret comes on so strong that we wonder what was the big deal about it anyway.  I know that for me there are things that are “nice”.  And I actually do appreciate them in my life but that has only come through a satisfaction that Christ provides.

I don’t receive my joy through the “If only’s” in my life.  I receive the joy and the satisfaction through being obedient to Christ and abiding in Him.  There is NEVER disappointment or regret in my joy and fulfillment in being in Christ.  There is never a stale aftertaste when I’ve spent time with Him.  There are never regrets that leave me hollow…

There is an instant satisfaction that comes through saving faith in Christ but there is also a learned satisfaction that comes through growth in holiness and a new desire through a changed heart.  That is where we have the privilege to suffer and give for the sake of the gospel.  Because if the gospel that saved you is only about you then you’ve got the wrong gospel.

Paraphrasing Leonard Ravenhill:  “Many want to come to the cross but they just don’t want to get on it…”

The Christian life should be one of sacrifice, learning to grow in contentment and striving for the glory of Christ.  Our “If only” in life should be that “If only I had lived more intentionally for the glory of Christ”…  That is an “if only” I can get behind.

If you find yourself wishing your life away or desiring happiness in things that rust and corrode then take a few moments and consider where is your hope?  Have you found true joy and hope in Christ or in that next thing you got going on?

 

Kevin

Empty House

empty_house

I live in an empty house in many ways…  I desire my house to be emptied.  What is it about my house that I really don’t care for?  I guess it’s the body of death that I wander around in that I’m referring to.  This temple, or as Paul said this tent.  We all live in them and the Christian hopefully has a better understanding of it than the average person.

2 Corinthians 5:1-3

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.

I want my earthly home to be destroyed because it’s not a very good one.  In fact it’s a mess and the closer I draw to Christ and see His amazing goodness the more I’m overwhelmed by my wretchedness.  I desire a better place.  A cleaner place, a place that glorifies and honors Him instead of bringing Him the shame I so often consider in my fleshly life.  I see that my desires continue to shift in that I really hate my sin.  I really hate that I try to overcome certain things and the going is very slow.

Lest I sound too gloomy there is hope…  But shouldn’t we sometimes just stay in this place?  Shouldn’t we just bathe in our own filth for a while?  Not that Christ hasn’t overcome because He has but I mean for me?  And for you?  Shouldn’t this help us understand what it took to accomplish our redemption?  Really give us a glimpse of the misery we are in?

2 Corinthians 5:4-5

For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

Here is the good news!

For believer’s we have a guarantee.  We have a guarantee of salvation because the Spirit has been given to us.  The word means a guarantee, earnest money, a down payment and the full amount to be paid subsequently.  It’s a sure thing.

We see two truths existing side by side in the way that God so often shows us things that are sometimes hard to understand.  The fact that we need to detest ourselves yet in that have the utmost of all hope.  We hate our sin, but we love our Savior.  We detest our flesh but seek the Spirit.   There is this bizarre thing going on that is almost too much for the human mind to make sense of.  It’s like a puzzle that makes no sense on the surface but as we stand back and gaze upon it later on it all comes clear.

God is that way in so many of the things He does.  We don’t understand how sorrow and mourning produce repentance and faith.  We don’t get that persecution brings joy.  We don’t get it because we can’t see it the way God sees it.  We only see the short term, the temporary state of our being.

We don’t always recognize that God is producing in us something that is far more valuable than what we want for ourselves.  Perhaps we want something that seems good but maybe God says you are not ready yet.  And so we wish for things but God says, “No, not yet, or maybe ‘No, never’ because I have something different for you.”

It’s hard to understand sometimes and I must admit in my flesh I don’t like it and I want this earthly tent to be gone.  I want to be in glory with Christ where the struggles of the world are done.  But then again, He says “No, I’m not done with you yet…”

And sometimes it’s just great to say it all out loud and cry out to Him for help.  “Lord, cleanse me….  Lord forgive me for I am  in a sad state of affairs… “

In all of it I find if we don’t know what to do  then we can only trust and we can only do our best to obey.  It seems obedience is a recipe for success if you will.  There is a time when just laying down our arms and giving in to that which we know is true is the best way to go.  But yet so often we fight against it.  And I don’t want to do that but yet when I do, when I receive the chastening, it produces a peaceable fruit of righteousness and I know I’m a son that has been trained for it.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

The day is coming friends when we will appear before the judgment seat.  All I have to offer the Lord is my obedience and that is not enough so my hope must be in the Lord Jesus Christ and that is enough.  My focus and my desire needs to be Him and all the rest falls into place.  That is my desire.  I hope it is also yours.

 

Kevin

Critical Conversations

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I consider myself a ponderer…  because I like to ponder things long and hard before I make decisions.  Maybe I’m really just a procrastinator.  I think it’s possible that is more like it, but the bottom line is I should have written this article a long time ago.

I had an amazing conversation this past week with a long time friend.  In the time I’ve known this friend I’ve gone from being a guy that talked about Jesus to being a guy that actually and truly lived for Jesus.

Even before I was truly regenerate I would discuss Jesus with my friend.  And he noticed that.  His wife also noticed it but when the Lord really saved me I went from talking about Jesus to living a life that gave me purpose in really being more diligent in how those discussions went. As my friend and I had this discussion this past week he said a couple things that really resonated with me.

Things like this…  “well I’m not sure I’m all the way there yet, but I’m trying.”  In digging a little deeper I realized that this is not a theologically correct statement, but I understood what my friend meant.  What really encouraged me about this conversation, that was evident to me, was that his life looked very different than what it used to look.  I think he was struggling to say, “hey Kevin, maybe God saved me, but I’m not really certain…”  He didn’t have the words to articulate this but it’s possible he meant it.

As I consider his life before and as he described things that were happening in his life I have to ask the question.  Did God save him?  Is God “saving” him?  It’s a question that takes on a pretty significant issue which is just how does that really happen?  And there are other questions that need to be answered in this whole process.

How does God save?  What does it mean to be saved?  For what purpose does God save?  I’m sure there are more but let’s start with these.

I bring up the topic today because when I look back at my life from pre-salvation, to initial salvation and then the sanctification and growth process I’ve almost forgotten how much God has accomplished in my life.  In my discussion with my friend he said that he desired to learn so much more and in his own way was sharing what little information he knew with others in his life.  And it dawned on me…  wow, that was me…  How could I so easily forget not everyone understand this stuff.  And this “stuff” is pretty important.

How does God save?

This very question has a presupposition that most people will miss.  What do we need to be saved from?

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

To get to our question we have to start somewhere and that starting place is the “lostness” of mankind.  In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in it, He created man.  God created man happy and holy (Question 21 in the children’s catechism).  God not only created mankind but he gave us a soul that will never die and told Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil lest he die.  When Adam disobeyed God he plunged mankind into spiritual death.  Mankind was cursed.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sin in which you once walked…  Ephesians 2:1-2

To have a starting point in salvation one must come to an understanding we are not only lost but we are dead.  Dead spiritually with no ability on their own to come to God.   Without hope and without opportunity because we are not only unable, but are also unwilling.

The part of “how God saves” is through an understanding of this predicament.  God moves in the heart of a dead sinner by presenting the law of God that one might come to understanding of their helpless and hopeless condition.   The law is a tutor that brings us to Christ through the message of the gospel (Galatians 3:23, Romans 1:16).  The gospel is the good news which sets a sinner free from his captivity and slavery to sin (Romans 6:7).

This message of the gospel must come from an outside source because the sinner will not come to this revelation on his own.  It generally comes through either reading the word, or mostly through the proclamation of the message through a messenger.  A “preacher” if you will…

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  Romans 10:14

God uses the preaching of the word to save souls.  For most all this is a foolish message (1 Corinthians 1:18) but yet this is how God does it.  And if you weren’t saved via the gospel message you must examine if you’ve been saved to this gospel?

What does it mean to be saved?

When God created man the Genesis account says that God created man in His own image.  That God breathed life into man.

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

The word breath means spirit, inspiration, soul.  God gave man a soul.  Created in His image Adam would live forever.  Upon Adam’s disobedience he plunged all of mankind into death and the curse of God.

To be saved means that God can redeem us from the curse.  He not only saves us from the curse, He saves us from the power and the penalty of the sin that we are born into.  God did this for a simple reason but a reason that is not popular with most people.  If you’ve been saved you must recognize that you were saved by God, saved for God and saved from God.

The God of the universe acquiesced to take on human flesh that He might accomplish what Adam could not.  Christ came to be the better Adam.  To fulfill the law that we would not be cursed under the law.

For what purpose does God save?

I’m unpopular in present day evangelicalism.  I’m unpopular because God’s word is unpopular and I place my trust completely in what it says.  I’m not trying to be arrogant in that statement because many will claim the same thing.  But yet when it comes to the Sovereignty of God and the claims that He makes in His word we can get to a point pretty quickly that will separate the best of friends.

God saves for His glory

God is a God of love and God loves His people but the Bible says God does not love all people equally and the exclusivity of this statement is offensive.  For many this makes God some sort of a monster that is toying around with people.  I don’t see it that way but yet I’ve struggled with the concept just like I think most “normal” people would.

The Scriptures are clear but yet often times hard to accept.

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. – Ezekiel 36:22

This verse is God focused.  This verse shows us some hard truth.  God has tolerated a sinful creation that rebelled against the Creator.  And to reveal the glory of the Creator, He in His Sovereign plan, for no reason other than His purposes chose out a group of people to glorify His name on this earth.

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. – John 17:24

Man is not a victim.  Man is a willing participant in his sin.  The sin that he loves and is unwilling to give up.  There is so much more to say but yet the gospel message is simple and the offer is free to those that will come.  And today I must ask you a very real question.

Will you come to Him today?  On His terms, not yours?

For as an evangelist brother of mine says…  “God will not negotiate with sinners…”

Do you recognize that, not only do you sin, but you are a sinner?  If you are weary of the battle, then give it over to Him today and you will also find rest for your weary soul.

Do that today; for that is the purpose for which Christ came.  I’m hoping He came to save you.

 

Kevin

Girls and Sports… A Biblical Design?

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One of the questions I consistently receive as a parent is what sports do your kids participate in?  That is an interesting question to me.  I’m not against sports and in fact I was a kid that was carted all across the state of Iowa when I was in school.  My parents sat countless  hours in school gymnasiums waiting for me to spend 4 or 5 minutes every hour or so to battle for position on a wrestling mat.  I wasn’t a half bad wrestler through high school but as I think back on it now I consider the tremendous amount of effort I put toward this pursuit.  I don’t know if it was wasted effort because it shaped me in some ways that I wouldn’t be the man I am now and God had His Sovereign Hand over the whole thing, but I consider the things I could have worked for that would be far more beneficial to me now.

I don’t write to offend anyone so please consider what I say before you come to a conclusion.  I also write as the father of  four daughters.  For me that is a different conversation than if I had four sons.  I would want to raise sons to be men.  Not juveniles, not adolescents, but men.  God fearing men.  Men that will stand in the gap and fight for the gospel.  Lord willing.  But I write as a father of girls.  So I need to insist on a different standard.

I’m not raising girls to act like boys.  I’m raising girls to become women.  God fearing women.  Not adolescent and or juvenile girls, but godly women that strive to serve the Lord and only One True King.  That is not an easy task because they are sinners.  And because they are sinners something needs to break the hard and stony hearts that control them.  Three of the four are unbelievers and I’m thankful we can trust God to do rightly, but as for me, I must strive to teach them the principles of the Scriptures and the truth of God’s word.

“But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay.  Salvation belongs to the LORD!” – Jonah 2:9

I suppose in most cases when asked the question in a drive-by fashion I respond, no they don’t do sports, their activities are music, art, and dance…  I’m not afraid to confront the topic, but I need to have some time to develop the conversation.  I want to develop the conversation so I’m not shooting from the hip and unnecessarily offending someone.  If they be offended by the gospel, that is another topic, but I strive to give good answers.  Solid and biblical answers.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at  home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  – Titus 2:3-5

The goal for a Christian man raising daughters should be this Scripture.  I can be certain this will offend far more than a Christian man keeping his daughter out of sports and I think it’s important to see how the relationship between organized sports, especially as they achieve higher levels of success, and this Scripture mix like oil and vinegar.

In sports the goal is to win.  Yeah, I realize some will protest and say it’s about things like “developing character”.  I don’t buy it.  I don’t believe sports develop character.  Teaching the Scriptures develops character.  Character that God desires.  It won’t teach my daughters how to “win” but it will teach them how to love their husbands.  It will teach them how to love their children.  It will teach them how to be made wise for salvation.  And at the end of the day does anything else matter?

But why?

“That the word of God may not be reviled.”

A Christian that is intent on God’s glory will seek the highest good for his family.  He will seek God’s goals for his family and not his own.  He will lay down his life for his family and that usually, and almost exclusively, means different priorities from the world.

I won’t develop the idea of what happens in young women that pursue sports to very high levels.  I think we can look around and see the development of the competitive spirit among women is not what God would seek.  Women were created different than men.  Yes, that is still true.  This is not a newsflash.

But Satan is always twisting things around.  Many of today’s movies are going to highlight women as the hero.  I’m not saying women are weak.  I’m not saying women are not valuable.  In fact I value the counsel of my wife above almost anyone else.  She has a brilliant mind and can actually think circles around me in most cases.  But she is not to be competing with me.  She is to be complementing me.  Completing me.  Helping me.  This is a big difference.

Sports do not help this.  They teach independence and self sufficiency.  They teach competitiveness and aggressiveness.  At least if you want to be “competitive”.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. – 1 Peter 3:7

I’m to treat my wife different than a friend or a man.  She’s not weak, but she’s weaker in many ways than I am.  And I will confess she is much stronger than I am in many ways.  But she is unique.  She was made woman and that is an amazing thing and I desire my daughter’s to be as God intended them to be.  Not to be trained up like men.

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ – Mark 10:6

Don’t miss this distinction and also don’t miss that the world is corrupted by sin and by the evil one and he desire to destroy whatever he can.  included the God given roles.  He does it through deceit and misdirection.  He is clever.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’?” – Genesis 3:1

Satan twisted what God said.  He distorted the truth and it plunged mankind into sin.  If our greatest desire is to honor God in all things then we need to consider that His plan is better than ours.  His ways are higher and we need to conform to the mind of God as revealed to us through Scripture.  If your daughter plays soccer does this destroy any hope?  Of course not, but consider the goal…  I believe God has clearly given us examples to follow and I don’t find any real value in sports for my daughters.

And that is my reasoning.  I hope you’ll think about yours.

 

Kevin