Home ownership & the mortification of sin


What an odd title to a blog post right?  I’ve been struggling this week on a topic to write about so I went outside for a few minutes to take a look at a drafty window we have on the northwest corner of our house.  I thought I might cover it with a piece of plastic to cut down on the air flow, and as I was contemplating this, I asked God for wisdom in declaring His truth.

This has been an odd week for me, usually I get up pretty early on Monday morning, head to Starbucks, read my Bible, and then write my article.  The article is sent to my Pastor so he can ensure I’ve not made any huge theological blunders.  I take seriously the charge to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Timothy 3:15) and that I’ll be held accountable for what is being taught (James 3:1).  Then I’ll sit on it for most of Monday, review on Tuesday and make any refinements and then post it Tuesday sometime.

This week I caught a bad cold and I couldn’t drag myself out of bed Monday so I kept procrastinating and then again Tuesday…  So now here I am Tuesday evening and finally sitting down to write and I can’t think of a thing to say.  For those of you that know me I’m sure you’re wondering how that happened.

I’ve been a homeowner for approximately 22 years; well actually I’ve been buying a house from the bank for 22 years, but that’s a whole other article, and the thought occurred to me that there is a lot of maintenance to being a homeowner.  Down through the years, we’ve replaced the roof, the hot water heater, had our basement flooded a few times, it’s a never ending job to keep things up.

As I gave up on my window project as quickly as I thought about it I realized how similar it is to what Scripture calls me to mortify my flesh, not to entertain sin in my life in anyway.  It’s a never ending process.  It’s like watching a gerbil on a treadmill; we run and run but seemingly never get anywhere.  However, as with home maintenance and mortification of sin we must see some obvious signs of accomplishment or we must really examine our claim to Christianity.

Romans 13:14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

If you gaze back on your Christian life do you see obvious signs of “accomplishment”?  I use this word accomplishment lightly because it’s God that works in us and the progress is not our own yet we must fully participate in the process.  Have you gained ground on your sin or do you continue to struggle with the same old stuff.

If my house is crumbling around me it would appear I’ve not been very diligent in keeping up with my investment.  So clearly we can see the parallel can’t we?  If I was to ask you how is your relationship with Christ I’d be every bit as interested in how is your relationship to your sin?  Are you closer to it or further from it?  Do you see your sin in a different light than what you once saw it?

Jesus Christ was the greatest preacher the world has ever known and one thing that made Him so good, beside the fact He is God, was His use of common everyday things in life that illustrated deep theological issues.  He called these parables and in my “parable” I hope you’ll consider today if you are working at killing the desires of your flesh, i.e. keeping up the maintenance, or are those nagging sin issues still dragging you down.

Without the grace of God there is no peace and when sin stands between you and God there is no grace. 

So today let’s put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh.  Whatever sin issues you are currently dealing with you need to repent of that sin and then put it off completely.  If you are a Believer you are entitled to enter the throne room and set it at the foot of the One that freely gives to those who humble themselves, but you must not count that grace as a common thing (Hebrews 10:26).

If you are a Believer that sin was nailed to the cross of Christ.  So why would you continue in it?  Let’s really think about that today.


Also wanted to announce our new radio show “Ask a Pastor”

Joy in tribulation


Today is December 31st, the last day of 2012.  I am writing this morning from a local Starbucks.  It’s something I do on occasion as I enjoy getting up early and heading to the coffee shop to read my bible and write.  I’m always hopeful for a chance to share the gospel if the opportunity avails itself.  It’s sometimes interesting to see people look at you as you’re reading a bible.  One man said to me “I didn’t think anyone read that anymore”.

I was in a Starbucks in Cincinnati a couple months ago and the place was loaded with people working on computers doing whatever it is they were doing, probably blogging, they all looked so cool.  I’ll admit I’m not one of the cool people sitting in Starbucks.  I work on a three plus year old ThinkPad, not a Mac Book Pro or an Ipad, I like the utilitarian look of my ThinkPad.  I think it fits my personality.  I also don’t have a cool paraph or don’t sign off my emails with “cheers”.  I like being different in a very normal sort of way.  My desire is to be very workmanlike.  I think if I played professional football I’d be an offensive lineman, of course that would be impossible at five foot eleven and a hundred and eighty five pounds, but that’s how I envision myself.

One area I desire to stand out and be different is in the area of evangelism.  I desire to share God’s Word and have people consider me different.  Not for my own recognition but for God’s Glory which brings me to the point of this post.  Ephesians 3:13 Therefore I ask that you do not lose heart at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 

This past Saturday we discussed this verse at our mens bible study.  The question was posed to each man if they were suffering tribulation.  Each man gave testimony about tribulation in his life and when this was done we looked at Paul’s tribulations.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Are they ministers of Christ? – I speak as a fool – I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.  From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.  Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness – besides the other things, what comes upon my daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

As I considered this throughout the rest of the weekend I came to realize how completely normal I am.  I say this to my shame.  On occasion I may suffer some reproach, I might even actually have someone upset with me.  Sometimes that might be a family member or someone I care about.  Sometimes it’s a stranger when they are challenged with the reality of God.  As we went through all of Paul’s tribulations one by one I realized that Paul never became discouraged in any of these tribulations, in fact he was joyful.

I want this to really sink in for a moment.  He was beaten and then he picked himself up and went to the next town where it was likely it happened again and then again and again.  It can be very intimidating when someone reviles you and is upset with you, but not to Paul.  He just kept going back for more.  How small we are today.  How weak that we can’t speak up when we know we should.  How self focused we are when we say things like, “well that was Paul”.  Don’t forget Paul says imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).  Or my favorite, “he’s too heavenly minded to be any earthly good”.  Maybe in reality your too earthly minded to be any heavenly good.  See this great article if you say that, then repent and stop saying it.  Heavenly  minded

In all of Paul’s tribulations he was joyful and he tells us to not to lose heart why?  It’s for our glory; our glory and the glory of the King that suffered and is worthy of our suffering.  As a new year is approaching many will make resolutions.  If you call yourself a Believer, I propose you make it a goal to suffer more for Christ this year.  If you’ve never experienced any sort of tribulation for Christ’s sake, you need to examine yourself to see if you are really in the faith.  You might not be saved, or at best you are in rebellion to God.  2 Timothy 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

I pray 2013 is the year that God make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory… (Romans 9:23)


Is your church growing?

A quick note:  Part 2 of Proud to be an American is coming later this week.  You didn’t miss it.

This seems to be a common question in the church world.  I always remember my parents speaking about pastors that would go to conferences and the big question for pastors seems to be “how big is your church?”  The joke was pastors would exaggerate.  The term was “evangelically speaking” we have X amount of people on Sunday morning.

Recently I walked into Starbuck’s and ran into a man that I used to go to church with.  He’s a guy I don’t mind seeing but I probably wouldn’t put much effort into attempting to see him.  The first question out of his mouth was “Where are you going to church?”  I knew this was a loaded question but I told him I’m still going to Grace Fellowship.  “Oh great how’s it going down there?”  Wonderful I told him.

Here it comes….

“Is it growing?”  “I’ve heard a lot of people have left their” Yes it is growing I told him.  “Oh great because I know that the “So and So” family left and a lot of others…. whose still there from the original launch?”  “Well it was nice to see you”

Yes it was God Bless.

So this really had me thinking about what’s the big deal about church growth?  Is it important for pastors to exaggerate how many members or “attendees” they have each week.  If this is the benchmark for success I’d say Joel Osteen is the clear winner.  He’s going to have more crowns than anyone could imagine.  How do we really measure growth?  Mankind cannot read hearts so the only way they can measure success is by numbers.  It kind of makes me think of how the Pharisees and early Jews measured success.  If you had health, wealth and prosperity God had certainly given you His favor.

This all sounded great until that Jesus guy came along.  Seems He turned everything upside down.  His measure of success was the exact opposite of everything they thought.

But many who are first will be last, and the last first.  Matthew 19:30

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 5:3

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it…  Luke 9:24

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you… Matthew 5:11

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you… Matthew 5:44

This guy is radical.  Maybe He was having an off day; perhaps He’s better at building a big church.  We know he had a lot of followers.  The crowds were enormous.  There were mobs, “multitudes” the scripture tells us.  More people than could possibly be counted.  He certainly had something great to offer.  After all He was healing them all.  Anyone that came to Him was healed.  Can you imagine how cool that must have been if you were sick.  Incredible!

Then He does something so unusual that the modern day church builders must really scratch their heads and say why?  In John chapter 6 the Lord is giving a sermon for the ages.  Can you even begin to comprehend what it must have been like to hear God Himself proclaim the gospel?  I can’t imagine how incredible that must have been.  But this sermon was different, it rocked their world and it upset the status quo….  “This Guy is out there, He’s just plain wacky.”  “Eat My flesh?”  What?  “Drink My blood?”  “This guy is nuts….”

John 6:66-68 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.  Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”  But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

There it is church growth 101….  Well okay not exactly.   So how do you measure the success in a church?

2 Peter 3:18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory both now and forever.  Amen.

1 Peter 2:2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Ephesians 4:14-15 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head Christ

Ephesians 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

I don’t believe a big church is sinful.  I’ve attended Grace Community Church in California where John MacArthur is the pastor and I know God has numerically blessed that ministry as His word is faithfully taught.  I also don’t believe that a small church that is not growing numerically is a bad thing.

What one must really consider is how are the saints being edified and trained for ministry?  Are you growing in holiness and sanctification?   Are people being saved and lives being changed?  Are you being challenged from the pulpit?  Are you accountable to the leadership and submissive to them?  Do they proclaim the gospel message and does a call to repentance go out consistently?

These are all signs that God is growing His church.