The ways of the Lord - transgressors stumble in them (Hosea 14:9b)

"For the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." - Hosea 14:9b

I've been fascinated lately about how our Lord's ideas often go against ours. As believers we desire to understand them and believe there is life giving truth behind them. But when I read, "The first will be last and the last will be first," it is easy to understand why this would be cause a non-believer to stumble.

There is a truth out there which is difficult to follow and even contrary to our nature like giving food and drink to our thirsty and hungry enemy. How could we possibly think this will heap burning coals on our enemies head? How could we possibly think that revenge is not ours, but our creators?

These are truths. But if you don't believe in anything outside of you this sort of backward thinking - even if it's kingdom thinking - would seem crazy.

It is only by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit revealing it to us that we can possibly make sense out of the mysteries He has reveled to us.

Calf Kissers! (Hosea 13:2)

There are many reasons for the slow down. Many many reasons. I'd bore you with the details, but lets just say, "I'll be back."

"It is said of them, 'Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!'" - Hosea 13:2

Calf kissers!

When brothers dwell in unity - and poop jokes (Psalms 133:1)

"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" - Psalms 133:1

I just got back from a good night with the guys. Now the girls may not be able to relate to this, but there is something very nice when dudes can get together and talk about beer and feces and all kinds of things only dudes talk about. It's even better when its a bunch of guys who are seriously in love with the Lord.

Sometimes it's not real clear how this is iron sharpening iron, and there are definitely limits on what is appropriate to talk about. But when we're honoring the Lord and being dude's its a pretty good deal. I feel blessed to have men around me who build me up. Challenge me to be a better man. Challenge me to better love my wife and honor my family.

But take note, this is an abnormal thing. Men can certainly cause other men to be worse and worse - and if I were not a believer I imagine very little of my interaction would be to my benefit or that of my friends. But the Lord is there dudes are being dudes and having fun.

"For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore." - vs. 3

Humble pie - and life updates (1 Peter 5:5)

"Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'" - 1 Peter 5:5

Yesterday I got some bummer news. If you remember a little over a month ago I was asking for people to be praying for a big language test I was about to take. I just got the score back last night and I did far worse than I was hoping. In theory it could have some big implications for where I'll be going to grad school this next year.

I'll be trying to work some connections to go where I'd like to go despite my score, but a better grade would have made it a near done deal. Anyhow, so I've been thinking about just how good it was for me to bomb this test. I find a little too much worth in how well I speak the language here.

Now just to be clear, I spent a good amount of time in the Middle East when I was a child because my father worked for the American Embassy. Two years in Jordan and I could understand quite a bit of Arabic but despite my best studying efforts I couldn't speak worth beans. I also studied three years of Spanish much to my embarrassment.

So any gift I have with the language here is merely that - a gift (something I know because of my failure with other languages). I know the Lord has blessed me substantially to understand and communicate far better than I should. It has enabled me to be able to do a lot of ministry I would otherwise not be able to do. So then thinking myself great for a gift the Lord has given me is pretty much stupid. But that was what I had definitely begun to do.

Anyhow. Being smacked with a MUCH lower grade than I wanted (not expected mind you, but wanted) means that if I manage to get into the school I want it will only be by the grace of God. If I get into any school it will only be by the grace of God. I cannot by any means argue myself qualified enough. So this is a good thing. My chest was all puffed up and the Lord has popped it.

I've been praying lately for humility and this is a painful answer to prayer (as all prayers for humility result in). It felt very much like God saying, "Well, if you don't want to clothe yourself in humility, I'd be happy to do it for you."

So here I am humbled. By the grace of God I've come as far as I have. If you think of it, be praying over the next few weeks that school would work out despite this score. I'm trying to get into a grad program to study Christianity. This would be an unbelievable asset to my language as there are MANY MANY words related to religion/theology that I simply will not learn unless I have years of focused study. It is also a step towards becoming a teacher at a seminary locally (something which I feel called to but which is probably years in the future).

And remember, if you don't help yourself to a slice of humble pie once in a while, there is a wonderful God who is willing to help you remember where you stand. This is a good thing. We are nothing apart from him, and foolish to ever think otherwise.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas (Luke 2:11-14)

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. I did. Praise the Lord he came and lived and bled and died that we might have life.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” - (Luke 2:11-14)

"Hey Hosea - see that prostitute? I'm thinking.... wife." (Hosea 1:2-3)

"When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, 'Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.'" - Hosea 1:2-3

I always figured becoming a prophet had to have been a pretty cool deal. One day the Lord starts to speak to you (or perhaps in this case through you) and whether there is anything to it or not, you probably feel like you must be pretty special the Lord chose you.

Now imagine being Hosea and you hear the Lords voice so naturally you think, "Sweet! God is speaking to ME of all people." And then you hear this and you think, "Stink! Why is God telling this to ME of all people?"

One time I heard a comedian (I think it was Seinfeld but I cant find the reference) talking about how a baby comes out and the first thing the doctor does is slap them to get them breathing (this wasn't my experience with my child, but I hear it happens). Anyhow, he comments that this must be a pretty weird first experience, its like, "Welcome to the world!" SLAP SLAP! And I agree, that would be a pretty weird first experience.

And I'm thinking the same thing here. Having the Lord tell you to go take a prostitute as a wife would be a pretty weird first experience with hearing the word of the Lord. You'd think He'd start with something nice and then bring the bad news. Like, "Hey Hosea, I think you're a pretty cool guy. I've been enjoying your jokes lately, and you're pretty good at football... hey by the way, would you mind taking a prostitute as a wife so I could make a point to Israel?"

Anyhow, I don't pretend to understand how God works. I do take the side which argues this probably did actually go down this way rather than just being a story to make a point. It is awful. Unbearably awful to even hear, and I think that's the reason it actually happened - the Lord wanted to really make a point.

I'm about to work through Hosea with a friend of mine who has never read it. I look forward to talking about just how horrible of a job the Israelites did staying in love with the Lord. I like talking about it because it is my life story. From the outside I look like a complete idiot as I keep turning to other things to satisfy when this amazing God has been so unbelievably, undeservedly faithful.

My prayer today is for faithfulness to my faithful God.

Why church, and why friends - sin in our lives (Matthew 18:17)

"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector." - Matthew 18:17

I have a friend who lately has been having issues with his church. I wonder when people have issues with their leaders although I probably shouldn't. The truth is people are fallen wherever they are. If they're church leaders, if they church goers or whatever. There are pastors who shouldn't be respected and there are people who are just weird, crazy, or driven by sin enough to not listen to a pastor no matter how down to earth they are.

But in the end the Bible is clear we need accountability in our lives. Usually this is our friends. And we also need authority in our lives. Often this is someone in the church. If it's a smaller church perhaps it will be someone on staff, but in bigger churches (as is often the case in America) it will often be just a lay person. The point is, even if what this person advises us to do isn't in the Bible (directly or even indirectly) we need to learn to submit to them.

Now not everyone should be in a position of authority and we need to be wise about those whose authority we choose to submit to, but in the end we need to listen to them.

When I was a senior in High School my parents sat me down and told me they were concerned about me because I had stopped attending the youth group as wasn't getting to church on Sundays. They told me I needed accountability and authority in my life. "It's not that we don't trust you," they said, "It's that without these two things we wouldn't even be able to trust ourselves." And they had good reason.

Now I'm trying to convince my friend that without these things he's going to be unaware of or unwilling to deal with the sin in his life. And I'm afraid he is slowly being taken out by the enemy. There is sin in his life and he's choosing to remove himself from the one place which is trying to hold him accountable to it. I've pointed out this sin, and the church has addressed it. He is unwilling to listen even to the church - now I'm called on to treat him as a tax collector. It will be a difficult friendship to bench.

Without these two things he can no longer be a leader in ministry with me. And without these things I seriously worry about his future.

I pray he figures this out, but I'd also like to encourage you - are you in a place where you're submitting to authority and where you have good accountability? If not, you should be concerned. And it's just not that difficult to solve.

Sunday scripture day (Philippians 3:13-16)

"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." - Philippians 3:13-16

But deliver us from evil. Or evil one or what? (Matthew 6:13)

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." - Matthew 6:13 (ESV)

My greek book quotes Daniel Wallace discussing how the greek seems to really say, "The evil one," and how these are quite different things. He says, "There is no little theological difference between the two. The Father does not always keep his children out of danger, disasters, or the ugliness of the world. In short, he does not always deliver us from evil. But he does deliver us from the evil one." (This is quoted from Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek Chapter 9).

I thought this an interesting point especially because it pertains to the Lord's Prayer. We grow up learning this prayer and rehearsing it again and again only to later find out certain parts of it might not be what we think. It's an interesting place to be stuck believing the Bible to be God's word and then having a translation done by fallible man. Even if we could translate it perfectly it would still be read by us - fallible man.

Anyhow, at least the Lord will deliver us from the evil one right? Even if he doesn't deliver us from the evil we may bring out of reading something wrong into the text.

Lord - "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Whatever it takes. And help us to sort through what we think of you and how we depend on you, even when we make mistakes in our understanding of who you are.

On crushing heads and laying bare. Our God is a good kind of scary (Habakuk 3:13)

"You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah" - Habakuk 3:13

I've been spending some time dwelling on the awesomeness of our God. I've got a lot going on in my head this Christmas even though life slows down nicely in time for the holiday. In the midst of the craziness in my head I'm trying to remember why I hope for the things I do. Why I live the life I do. I try not to forget who I live for and why.

I live for God.

I live for God because He is an awesome, powerful, and loving God.

For our salvation He went out and crushed the house of the wicked. Our God laid him bare from thigh to neck because nothing could stand in the way of His love for us and His desire to bring us salvation.

You know when you're a kid and playing a game of pickup tackle football (because you're young and invincible) and you get the kid who is 6'4" in fifth grade and weighs 250 pounds? Yea, our God is like having that guy on our team. He's scary, but in a good way when He's on your team.

Thank God we're on the right team. Are you on the right team?

Sunday scripture day (Proverbs 24:7)

"Wisdom is too high for a fool; in the gate he does not open his mouth." - Proverbs 24:7

Do not be envious of evil men (Proverbs 24:1-2)

"Be not envious of evil men,
nor desire to be with them,  
for their hearts devise violence,
and their lips talk of trouble." - Proverbs 24:1-2

And frankly they're just unpleasant people, so why the stink we do aspire to be like them? Why do we desire the emptiness that fame and money provide without the satisfaction of knowing the savior?

When we have the biggest and best gift possible (salvation), why do we even think of desiring what evil men have? Does sin actually satisfy but more than a second? And loving the Lord for ever?

And do we want their company that we can be like them?

When Jesus needs a colt... (Mark 11:2-3)

"Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’" - Mark 11:2-3

I've always wondered about this. Imagine some strangers coming into your town (it's a small town and you know who should be there and who shouldn't) and beginning to pick a door lock on a truck. You say, "Hey, why are trying to break into that truck?" And when they say "The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately" you think, "Well... thats a good enough reason for me. Let me see if I can help you hot-wire this sucker."

Granted Jesus is Lord. He is God. And so these sorts of things are well within the power of an all powerful God. I just always thought these people in the village must have been idiots. But then it occurred to me that they probably knew exactly what was going on. When Jesus rode into the city people were ready. They weren't surprised. They were throwing down leaves they had brought from their fields and their jackets and praising the Lord.

I'm just wondering what kind of preparations we'll have when He comes back. I'm wondering if maybe He'd like to send some people ahead of time to borrow my car...

Update

It's been a while since I've had an old fashioned post (that is one without a Bible verse). Anyhow. I had a nice day today taking a little bit of down time and writing out my priorities to see what I'm really thinking about life.

I just came back to realizing I haven't really be seeking the Lord first and foremost in my life and thus I shouldn't be surprised that I've started to feel a lack of satisfaction and then started to look funny places for it (e.g. twitter fame!).

When I'm seeking the Lord I get the desire of my heart. Satisfaction. My sin fades to the background and my joy comes to the foreground. Anyhow. Life is good. God is good. And did I mention patient and quite forgiving when I try to worship other things?

Hope all is well out there in biblioblogging world. It feels good to wake up once and while and smell the coffee... Or tea as my taste may go...

Vanity, striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

"Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man's envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind." - Ecclesiastes 4:4

My wife asked me the other night "If you had to give up one hobby what would it be?" And this was a very difficult thing for me to decide because I:

Blog - Theologer.com, sieveandsand.com,
Twitter,
Program a website to learn programming,
Bike,
Study for seminary,
Study for another grad school,
Run,
Read,

AND somehow make time for my work and family (although often sparsely).

Anyhow I was thinking about the 4 twitter accounts I have attempted off and on and how much I enjoy twitter because its like blogging but much quicker. I was also thinking about how often my interest in these things is motivated by sin.

For example, I started this blog with the intention of forcing myself to really glean something from scripture and to offer something valuable to the internet. But often I'm just curious if I'm getting as many hits as I did last week and whether or not I'm on my way to becoming a famous blogger/writer.

Anyhow in my vanity and striving after the wind I'm wondering what sorts of beneficial things you are doing on the internet. What hobbies you love but have to fight to give up. Where do you draw lines in your life so you're accomplishing the important things - like loving your family etc...

All this is to say I'm doing some serious thinking lately about where I spend my time and I wish I could say I was proud of it. Even if this blog leads me to vanity (as it often does) I do believe it is offering something valuable to at least some people, and certainly to me. So I will continue my 15 minute/day commitment here. But what to cut... what to cut...

The Kingdom of God is in the midst of you (Luke 17:21b)

"For behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” - Luke 17:21b

When I was a kid (and mind you I grew up in Colorado) I imagined the Kingdom of God was a huge kingdom of snow. I pictured castles everywhere and kids lined up throwing snow balls at everyone. No one was hurt of course, and the snow wasn't cold to the touch either. It was a perfect place.

Or maybe that was my view of heaven. I suppose I was probably pretty confused as a kid - and maybe even rightfully so. How strange it is that the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God extends up to the life we'll live eternally and down here to the temporal. How weird is it that God is establishing His Kingdom here and now and we're a part of it?

I don't mean weird as in just weird, I mean weird as in awesome. We are a part of a kingdom. A kingdom which as a child I rightfully understood to be magnificent and worthy of awe. Verses 20-21a say:

"Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, 'The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, nor will they say, "Look, here it is!" or "There!"'"

But rather it is already among us. In our midst.

Sunday scripture day (Luke 2:14)

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" - Luke 2:14

What do you dwell on? (Philippians 4:8)

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." - Philippians 4:8

I've written on this before... but today I'm more going to ask a question. Last night I was thinking about what it is I dwell on. My mind is an annoying place to be most of the time.

It seems for the most part from about 12 years old until around the time I met my wife my head was mostly filled with what you'd imagine a teenage boy's head would would be filled with. It was a bummer but that was the deal.

Since I've been married lust has been way less of an issue but it occurred to me the thing which probably occupies my mind most of the time now is the thought of fame or money (both of which, given my line of work, are pretty unlikely I'll ever have). And when I'm not thinking about these two things I pretty much just worry. I find my head wandering and wondering what would happen if such and such happened and I died or my wife died or my daughter died etc...

All of which are horrible things to dwell on. Lust, mammon, fear.

So I'm curious. Help me out. When you're following Philippians 4:8 in your spare time - I'm not wondering what you dwell on as you write your masters thesis about 1 Corinthians but actually when you're just relaxed and checking out.

Where does your head go?

A life worthy of the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27)

"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel" - Philippians 1:27

I'm trying to think about what in my life lately has been worthy of the gospel of Christ and it's difficult to come up with much.

What I get from this is the necessity to be striving alongside brothers and sisters, struggling for the truth, fighting for our faith. Our faith, the truth, everything we live for and the reason we have hope to live is worthy of our energy and attention.

I keep thinking I could elaborate on this, but that's all I have to say. The best I can tell, living a life worthy of the gospel of Christ is living a life which honors the gospel. Desires to understand it, seeks truth and doesn't take this unfathomable gift for granted.

Fear and trembling - your salvation (Philippians 2:12)

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" - Philippians 2:12

Why do people always overlook this verse? Apparently the difference between eternity in heaven and eternity in hell is something worth considering. The rest of the Bible seems to make it clear we shouldn't live in fear about being saved or not, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do what it takes to be sure.

Are you sure of your salvation? How can you be? Do you know if you can be?

Gosh, now that I say that, I'd hate to cause doubts if there need not be any. But that said - fear and trembling - this is a difference between heaven and hell for all of eternity.

Are you serving the right God?

In every way . . . Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice (Philippians 1:18

"What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice." Philippians 1:18

Today I was thinking about the role I play in God's kingdom. For better or for worse its a quite limited role. It can be a struggle to think my part as valuable as those friends of mine who are really gifted in other areas.

I have a friend who is incredibly gifted as an evangelist. People come to the Lord all the time because of who he is and his God-given gift for sharing. I also like to share the gospel but it certainly doesn't seem to produce the same fruit as him. But I also have other friends are gifted in other areas.

So when I'm spending a good portion of the day studying for classes for degrees which I hope will someday qualify me to teach (in what I think is following my calling) I sometimes feel useless or wasteful of my time.

While I know this isn't the same circumstance this verse is addressing it gets me to thinking about how thankful I am for the advancement of the gospel. Christ is proclaimed. Be it today, or tomorrow, or by good people or bad. Be it by evangelists, or teachers, or prophets, or beggars, or just plain weirdos. I can rejoice because Christ is being preached.

I pray someday the education I am working towards today will help to equip the evangelists of tomorrow. I pray the gospel will be advanced through my sharing and through those around me. I genuinely hope I play exactly the role the Lord has for me in His kingdom however big or small.

But I also rejoice that whatever my role, Christ will be proclaimed. I pray it continues as such.

Swearing to God by another god (Zephaniah 1:4-6)

"I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem;
and I will cut off from this place the remnant of Baal
and the name of the idolatrous priests along with the priests,
those who bow down on the roofs
to the host of the heavens,
those who bow down and swear to the LORD
and yet swear by Milcom,
those who have turned back from following the LORD,
who do not seek the LORD or inquire of him." - Zephaniah 1:4-6

Normally I try not to post on a passage of scripture this long, but the parts I wanted to pick out didn't make a whole lot of sense without the rest of the context.

This section in my ESV is titled "The Coming Judgement of Judah" and in speaking, the Lord doesn't hold a whole lot back. I'm particularly fascinated by the lines:

"Those who bow down and swear to the Lord
and yet swear by Milcom"

For some reason we talk about idolatry we think about forsaking God altogether and worship something else. Granted worshipping something else is forsaking God, but I think especially today we're less likely to make a conscious choice to give up on God and go serve money. Rather we worship the Lord on Sunday mornings, and money for the rest of the week (or whatever our idols are... money seems one of the most obvious).

Here the people are bowing down and swearing to the Lord. But then they're swearing by another God. Milcom (also known as Molech) is the national god of the Ammonites. By swearing on Milcom they're basically saying Milcom is more holy than the God of Israel. It even sounds like they make promises to God but on the basis of the name of Milcom!

We don't do a whole lot of swearing anymore - probably because we're told our yes should just mean yes and our no no. But back then it was common place to swear on something more sacred than yourself so that people would know you were really serious. This led to the whole discussion about swearing on the temple, and then the altar, and then the horns of the altar etc...

Basically they're saying to the Lord, "As surely as Milcom is a great god, I promise to you O God that I will do all I have promised you." How horribly blasphemous does it get? I hope in my life and the desires that lead my heart astray I can at least keep the Lord the center of my life and remember He is the most holy no matter how much my sin tempts me other ways.

The Lord rewards and punishes - right? (Zephaniah 1:12)

"At that time I will search through Jerusalem with lamps. I will punish the people who are entrenched in their sin, those who think to themselves, 'The LORD neither rewards nor punishes.'" - Zephaniah 1:12 (NET)

Normally I don't quote from the NET but I thought their translation of this particularly interesting.

To be honest I'm not real sure what to make of this verse, the Lord will punish those who think, "The Lord neither rewards nor punishes." That's interesting. I definitely thing the Lord both rewards and punishes, but I'm nearly convinced its not system based on punishment per sin. As in, if do wrong the Lord will give me 3 horrible days. Or something like that.

My experience has never been so clear cut. There seem to be some wonderful people who have some horrible things happen to them and some horrible people who have everything work out right. That is, the Lords reward and punishment seems absent from many people's lives at least in this world (I imagine such differences will be more noticeable in the next).

But then what I wonder about this is the Lord's strange hand of favor in my life. The Lord has blessed me above and beyond my whole life. I'm married to a woman who had no business marrying me (she was WAY out of my league). I have a daughter who is far too well behaved to be paying me back for who I was as a child. I live in a wonderful place which was nearly handed to me as a gift and get to do my dream job. Did I mention life is pretty grand?

So when I think about all my blessings and I'm done giving thanks, I often quiver at the thought of why I'm so blessed. Have I done something to deserve this? Is that big tithe a few years back responsible? Is it because I followed the Lord's call that He's rewarding me? OR have I done nothing special and he's just having grace for me. And if thats the case, He could take it away with as little reason as He's given it. And that's scary.

Anyhow. I just don't know what I think about this. Sometimes when I look at how blessed I am I wonder if my friends and family who have suffered so much have done so because of something dark in their hearts or some horrible hidden sin and the Lord is punishing them. This idea doesn't line up with my theology about this at all - but I can't help but wonder.

Thoughts?

Falling headlong - and all his bowels gushed out (Acts 1:18)

"Now this man bought a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out." - Acts 1:18

Today a friend of mine asked me to explain the seeming contradiction between this verse and Matthew 27:5 in relation to how Judas died and also who the "Field of Blood" was purchased by. It's an interesting question and we did some research together to come to some sort of conclusion.

I'm not particularly interested in discussing the possible contradiction (suffice it to say that I don't think there is one), but rather the word choice. It says Judas fell headlong. This reminds me of one of my favorite verses in the Psalms:

"The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;  
though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand." - Psalms 37:23-24

I'm just thinking about how Judas must have not be delighting in the way of the Lord. I know, it seems obvious he wasn't if he was betraying the savior. But how interesting it is that the same word here - at least in English (and if you know the Hebrew and Greek in these two situations maybe you can shed some more light) - is the same as in the Psalms.

I want so badly to desire the Lord and to walk in His path. I want to delight in His ways and be upheld by His hand. I'm sure we all hope for a better ending than Judas. Apparently the answer is here - delighting in the way of the Lord.

Sunday scripture day (1 Corinthians 15:29)

"Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?" - 1 Corinthians 15:29

Thanksgiving - (Matthew 11:12)

It's thanksgiving. We have guests. I've been busier than dirt (not that I anticipate dirt being particularly dirty or anything). Hence the hiatus.

So I'm just writing to let you know:

A) In the words of one governor "I'll be back"

B) I'm so stinkin' thankful for what I get to do for a living.

"From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." - (Matthew 11:12 - NIV)

I get to work with such men and it is an unbelievable privilege. I pray you have a wonderful thanksgiving and somehow find joy like I've found. I thank the Lord for his unbelievable grace in my life.

Happy thanksgiving - We American's have some pretty cool holidays (okay this is the only one I can think of that's really cool besides the 4th of July).

Rejoice, pray, give thanks (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. " - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

After months of preparation I am done with a very big test. I'm happy as can be, although I feel pretty terrible about how I did. The nice thing is I wont find out my grade until around Christmas, so I have nearly a month to just enjoy being done and not have to worry about how I did.

Right now rejoicing and giving thanks are pretty easy to do. Life is good knowing I can relax about the test. But, to be honest, praying is quite a bit easier when life is harder.

I just think its interesting that we're called to rejoice, give thanks, AND pray in the same breath. Our lives typically exemplify praying a whole bunch when we're in need and then forgetting about how blessed we are when we are blessed. I've worked hard over they years to get better about giving thanks in all situations, but I don't find myself praying much other than a generic "Thank you God."

Lately I've been working on praying for my friends. I've been better about it but still have a long ways to go. Just because life is hunky dory for me doesn't mean life is great for everyone. Keeping our fellow believers in our prayers is far more important than we remember.

Our friends are lost and unsaved, imprisoned for sharing the gospel (yes - even today), sick, dying, lonely, broken, disheartened, and separated from friends and family. And this is just a start. Our lives may be great, but there are always those out there in need of prayer.

Rejoice - whether your lot is good or bad. Give thanks - for you have much to give thanks for even if life seems miserable. And pray without ceasing - no matter how much you think there is nothing to pray about.

Rejoicing is prayer. Thankfulness is prayer. And prayer is about rejoicing, thanking, adoring, confessing, and asking for things. None of these things alone.

This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Sunday Scripture Day (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

"Rejoice always." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Do not forbid speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39)

"So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues." - 1 Corinthians 14:39

As a person who accepts a modern view on tongues (albeit limited to being done in private or when there is interpretation - what I see as the Biblical model) I have no trouble making sense of this verse.

If however, you have a problem with tongues or prophesy, what do you do with this verse?

Big Test

If ya'll think of it. I'm taking a fluency test in about 24 hours which will determine a lot (mostly where I go for a graduate program) over the course of the next 3 years and then beyond.

I've been studying my tail off but on the practice exams continually get right along the line. That is, sometimes I do as well as I need and frequently I don't. I'll take all the prayer you can offer.

Orderly worship (1 Corinthians 14:40)

"But all things should be done decently and in order." - 1 Corinthians 14:40

Here is a nice clear instruction for the church. So many of the problems I've seen happen in the church have come from pastors being unwilling to set and then keep order.

I can think of one specific time when I was younger. There was a lady in the church who would stand up after worship and ask the children to come forward and then share something she was learning. It was always something harmless but the leaders of the church just let her do it even though it wasn't in the schedule and she wasn't running any of this by anyone before she did it.

My father was telling the leadership they needed to shut this down or this lady would eventually say something stupid or just plain wrong. Eventually thats exactly what happened. She stood up, out of order, and began to share about the how the Bible cant be trusted.

Next all the leaders were having to corral her out of the building.

This verse is written in context of spiritual gifts, but it gives a great principal for all aspects of running the church. Let us keep things decent and in order that we may honor the Lord with our gatherings.

The Lord has commanded it (Lamentations 3:37)

"Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?" - Lamentations 3:37

This is a verse about the sovereignty of God.

Think about just how cool it is that the Lord knows everything that will come to pass and has a plan for it. Whatever pain may come today, God has a plan for tomorrow.

I just finished watching the newest Batman (The Dark Knight) and I was shocked at just how depressing of a movie it is. I feel like it's supposed to be a movie about the hope a hero provides but instead is a movie about a city so evil it's depressing (not to mention the sun never shines).

This may be closer to the truth than we realize, we're surrounded by a shocking amount of evil with a pretty face. However our God is the king of this earth now. He is in control and powerful enough to keep things in check.

The evil which exists today will not be around forever. The Lord wins in the end. And what comes to pass between now and then will fulfill His plan.

He has commanded it.

Declare, exhort, and rebuke with all authority (Titus 2:15)

"Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you." - Titus 2:15

This starts out nice and easy. A command to exhort and rebuke on the Lord's authority. To declare truth and the gospel.

But I don't know what to do with "Let no one disregard you." I know a lot people who have disregarded what I've taught about the Lord time and time again. I can think of one friend right now who has been hassling me about my faith. He knows what I believe and he even knows why I believe it. He just thinks its ridiculous.

How does, "Let no one disregard you," fit with the gospel being "folly to Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 1:23)? That is, if the gospel is foolishness to the non-believer how can we expect them to not disregard us?

If you have ideas please do let me know.

I guess I just want to dwell on what it means to declare, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. To not be ashamed of what we're preaching because it is eternal life or eternal damnation. I want to speak as someone not ashamed, given authority by the Lord to build His church and His kingdom.

Now if I could just figure out how to keep others from disregarding me.

(The only thing I can think is this referring to people disregarding Titus because of who he was rather than the message he was preaching)

When we do it for our good it's lame. Do it for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7)

"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." - 1 Corinthians 12:7

Whatever your view is on gifts, (be it a belief in a modern manifestation of tongues and prophecy etc... or not) remember it is for the common good. That is, those of us who teach, or preach do so for the good of the Kingdom. Not to have famous names and big churches.

The ministry I do is very small. It is large is scope but ends up being small in practice. The larger circle of influence I have is over about 25 people and the smaller is between 5 and 7. The funny thing is how easy it is for me to get caught up in numbers - less for my ministry's sake and more for the sake of my ego.

Quickly I begin to get wrapped up in whether or not my superiors are impressed. Will people want me to continue doing what I'm doing next year? Will they let me stay in a role of leadership? Will they offer me higher roles of leadership? Ones I can turn down and act like I'm too good for?

Why the stink are these thoughts in my head? Why is it so easy for me to forget any gift I have, any strength at all is a GIFT. By it's nature something given. Given to me by God and for the good of His Kingdom. Not my own.

When we build each other up we forcefully take ahold of the Kingdom and advance it. When we are seeking our own good instead of the common good we become - for lack of a better word - lame.

Oh Lord help us to lay down our pride and give back to you the gifts you've given us.

Sunday scripture day (1 Corinthians 8:8-9)

Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." - 1 Corinthians 8:8-9

Do what it takes to learn to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15)

"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." - 2 Timothy 2:15

I'm working with a friend whom I have several times nearly given up on. I keep thinking this guy just really don't care a whole lot about the Lord. Then as soon as I get to that point he goes and tells me something like he did this last week when he said, "I don't think I've learned to dedicate myself to the Lord." Cool.

Not cool that he hasn't learned (though few of us have), but cool that he knows he needs to. I've been challenging him to do what it takes over the next few years to be a leader in his church. This is an idea he is excited about but also freaked out about. He is embarrassed that if you ask him to look up a piece of scripture he will turn to the table of contents at the front of his Bible and then ask if its a New Testament or Old Testament book.

He's been a believer for 8 years but has never really pursued his faith until recently. In fact he only began attending church a few months ago.

When looking at the Bible he is intimidated. "How can I possibly ever grasp this?" he seems to think.

Now I've been a believer for years. I grew up in a christian home and probably have even read my Bible nearly every day for 12 years. But I still have a difficult time. I may know if a book is New Testament or Old Testament. But I simply don't have the brain type which can tell you where a verse is. Part of why I blog is to help me remember the things I learn. Even then, I can tell you what I blogged about in the last few days, but certainly not the scripture reference, or possibly even the book.

But I take this verse as a challenge. For me to step up and do what it takes to really grasp this book of truth we have. I don't want to open to a random scripture, take it out of context and begin to live a heresy. I want to know the heart of God, His passion for me, and use scripture to build up and encourage others. I just wish I didn't have to work so stinkin' hard at it.

I want to challenge you to what I've challenged my friend to. Do what it takes to learn, and REALLY learn the word of God so that you can rightly handle it. Do what it takes in your learning so that you can lead in some capacity in your church if called upon in the next year or two.

That's a tall order. But this is the very word of God. Let's not forget to treat it as such.

p.s. I believe Nick uses the KJV to get the words "rightly dividing the word of truth."

On sexual immorality and 23,000 deaths (1 Corinthians 10:8)

"We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day." - 1 Corinthians 10:8

I imagine there would be something nice about being a woman. Not that no women struggle with sexual immorality, just that it's much more of a problem amongst men (at least this is my understanding - we seem to have a hormone problem).

Imagine the Lord being so angry with His people He sets in place a plague to punish them. This is a reference to Numbers 25, where the people of Israel, "began to whore with the daughters of Moab"(v 1). Reading that verse sort of rubs me wrong. What awful language. But I suppose the point is more about the awfulness of the sin. The Bible, and the Lord don't seem to go lightly on the significance of sin.

Here is a verse in 1 Corinthians calling us to a higher standard. I'm shocked at just how acceptable it is in our churches to go watch rated R movies (nudity etc...) - pastors and all. We've allowed ourselves to become numb to our sin and the things it leads us to. But this is a reminder. The Lord despises sexual sin. So much 23,000 died in one day. That's as many people as I went to college with.

Don't take your sin lightly. Flea from sexual immorality. It's truly not worth it.


As a side note, here is how the story in Numbers ends... interesting stuff:
"When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped." - Numbers 25:7-8

Sin against your brother (1 Corinthians 8:12)

"Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ." - 1 Corinthians 8:12

I just think its interesting how much we're responsible for the success and failure of our brothers. It's so counter culture.

But we are a community, God intended for us to support and love one another. To keep each other from falling. We have an immense amount of freedom in the Lord but the one time we are called to bridle our freedom is in a situation where it may cause another to stumble.

We have an awesome God. And an amazing call from Him to live different than the world around us. Life isn't about number one (ourselves). Life is about God and His kingdom. His kingdom is everything He effectually rules. All of His followers are a part of His kingdom and it is our job to love, encourage, and build up those followers so as to strengthen and grow His kingdom.

Don't sin against Christ - don't sin against your brother. Enjoy your freedom, but first build the kingdom.

Freedom, rights in Christ. And beer (1 Corinthians 8:9)

"But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak." - 1 Corinthians 8:9

Today I'm thinking again about vices. I have frequently thought that if a person has no vices then he probably has one big vice you would rather not know about. This is definitely not true across the board (at least not that I know of), because I certainly THINK I know some people who lack basically any visible vices and who aren't indulging in some ridiculous sin.

I've said before (perhaps months ago) by vice I don't mean sin. Rather, I mean something like smoking a cigar occasionally, or drinking with the guys once and a while (I'm certainly not saying getting drunk). It seems people with the ability to live their freedom in Christ last longer in ministry. This is my opinion and not at all biblically based.

Here Paul is reminding us however, just because we are free to -insert vice here (food sacrificed to idols, beer, cigar) - doesn't mean we are free to cause others around us to stumble. I am a big fan of beer. But if you struggle with alcoholism please don't take this as encouragement to go out and buy beer. And I certainly should not allow myself to drink in your presence as it would cause you to stumble.

I don't want to drive home the point about stumbling. This is important. But in my opinion it should be obvious.

The point I want to make is about our right to food sacrificed to idols. Or whatever it is in our lives. We all need to build up blocks around the things which cause us to sin and be careful in those areas.

But if a beer doesn't lead you to sin then by all means enjoy one with thanksgiving to the father once in a while.

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. - Benjamin Franklin

Tubas, gongs, cymbals and love (1 Corinthians 13:1)

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." - 1 Corinthians 13:1

As a High School tuba player, I tend to think, "What's wrong with that?" But I suppose the point is, a gong or a cymbal don't do much by the way of making music.

They add a beat and sound great when blended into the background but a man walking around banging a gong belongs in a, "Beef, it's what's for dinner" commercial. We can communicate amazingly well. We can know many different languages and even pray in tongues. But without love it's worthless. Mere noise.

I think as believers we're called to do more than communicate. We're called to communicate love. And communicating love cannot be done without the 'love.'

I spent a year overseas about 4 years ago and one of my roommates and good friends at the time shared with me about a friend of his. We frequented this restaurant where we became friends with the guy who made the food. He worked all day long from 6:30AM till 9:00PM seven days a week. We would talk to him while he was making the food (I'd say cooking, but that's really not what was happening).

My friend would stand behind him and rub his shoulders as he worked. I know it sounds a little weird in our culture, but it definitely wasn't there. This guy would cheer up every time he saw us because he knew someone was there to ask him how he was doing and to love on him. He became one of our best friends over the course of the year.

I remember this roommate telling me, "I can't speak his language yet, but I've learned to communicate love. I can tell that speaks to him."

There is reason to be more than a cymbal or gong. The reason is, we're are called to love.

Sunday Scripture Day (Isaiah 30:29)

"You shall have a song as in the night when a holy feast is kept, and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the LORD, to the Rock of Israel." - Isaiah 30:29

Not to shame, but to admonish (1 Corinthians 4:14)

"I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children." - 1 Corinthians 4:14

And how often are we ashamed when we're admonished? When those who are close to us speak into our lives to build us up and instead we're torn down. Sometimes its their fault, but often it is our own. We see shame where we should see positive constructive criticism.

Life for me as a believer has been hard because I have frequently had to step it up and be the bigger man in situations where I don't want to be. The worst is when someone you have no respect for (even just dislike) speaks truth into your life. By accepting what they say as truth and changing for the better you're openly agreeing with them. And that's hard to do when you dislike them.

I hate how often I've had to do this. But I love that my authority, and my friends frequently speak into my life, not to shame me, but to admonish me. So I may walk closer with the Lord and better build His kingdom.

Logos Bible Software coming to the Mac SOON.

A few months ago I had to purchase Logos Bible Software for my Hebrew 1 class. At that time I also heard Logos was coming to the Mac, so I downloaded and began testing the Alpha versions of the Mac software with hopes to complete my class on the mac side.

At the time many features were not yet implemented and so most of my work had to be done via virtualization on my mac. It was a bummer to have to install Windows XP for only one program as I really don't need windows for anything else.

Well according to my email Logos is just about to be out of Beta and be running at full speed. This is great news to any Windows Logos users (as now you can switch) and even better news to Mac users.

The best Bible software available has arrived for Mac. Don't miss out.

Also, if I understand the website right, you won't have to pay a whole lot to change from the Windows version to the Mac version if you have already purchased the Windows version.

Don't think, just do. It's Bible software, on your Mac.

MacBibleSoftware.com

The secret and hidden wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:7)

"But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory." - 1 Corinthians 1:7

I'm told one of the draws to other religions, particularly in the first century was the claim to secret knowledge. Paul plays this card in a couple of places (see Ephesians 1:9 for another example) and I find it interesting given the age we live in.

For one thing it is now the age of the internet. If you want to know the secrets of the masons - which while weird may still be fascinating - you're only a well worded google search away. That is, there is very little I want to know which I don't immediately go and look up. If I'm curious about the ratio of oatmeal to water for breakfast it takes me less than a few seconds to find out. I can do the same to find a list of every move an actor has been in etc...

There is little mystery left in this world but secrets are still fascinating. Mystery is fascinating. We know it's true because of the success of movies like "The Skulls" and "National Treasure." I get a kick out of Paul explaining the faith as a secret and hidden wisdom of God. But the truth is - it IS only be His grace we have any hope of knowing the truth.

When I was in college I found out my library had thousands of books published in the 1800's and before which could be ordered from the archives and delivered. I checked out every book written on the holy spirit from that time and the one I found most fascinating was titled "The Secret Power." Dwight L Moody wrote a book by the same name but this one wasn't by him and I cant remember who it was by. I just know it was published in 1804. The writing was weird and awkward but I was fascinated to read what someone had written on the topic literally 200 years before me.

There is a secret and hidden wisdom which comes from God as a gift to us. It is more fascinating than Chinese medicine, the history or the practices of the masons, and anything else you can imagine because it is truth. Our God has gifted us with something which precludes time. And the coolest part?

We get to personally have a relationship with Him who has seen it all and understands it all.

The Bible, the election, you, and abortion (Genesis 49:13)

"“Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea; he shall become a haven for ships, and his border shall be at Sidon." - Genesis 49:13

According to this site http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/pihtml/pibible.html George Washington was sworn in as president with this Bible verse. Apparently it was opened at random due to haste.

Whether you live in America or not, the events that will take place today will have an affect on you. While the president really is limited in his power in this day in age, the figurehead of America has a dramatic affect on a number of things.

Who will we blame for our future mistakes and gas prices?

On a more serious note, while I don't know exactly what I think about the two candidates I'm afraid that no matter what I could never support a man who is in favor of abortion. There are other matters, but murder is still murder and in my opinion this is a disqualifying factor.

A friend of mine sent me a link here http://randyalcorn.blogspot.com/2008/10/im-not-voting-for-man-im-voting-for.html which asks the question, "As a Christian, should we vote for who we think should lead our country solely based on their stance on abortion?"

If you have the time consider it.

Either way be praying for our leaders. The Lord puts them there for a reason, albeit we frequently do not understand.

We can comprehend (a little bit) the thoughts of God because His Spirit dwells within us - cool (1 Corinthians 2:11)

"For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." - 1 Corinthians 2:11

Thankfully God gave us His spirit so that we could have hope of understanding Him (v. 12) even if only a little bit.

I read this passage this morning and I was just spending some time dwelling on the idea of man's wisdom still being more foolish than God's foolishness. I first wonder how God has foolishness, although I'm sure Paul says this more to make a point than for us to dwell on the Lord's wisdom or foolishness.

Next I wonder if in God's foolishness He he ever dreamed up an iPhone or not. Finally, I wonder about the wisdom I feel from like I hear from above, and I wonder how this can still be more foolish than God's foolishness.

The Lord lets His spirit dwell within us. And He seems to use this spirit to teach us things through His word through others (among other things). So that we might comprehend the thoughts of God. By the spirit of God.

I feel like I'm all over the place with this one. We may barely know ourselves. But God knows Himself pretty good (I think it's probably safe to say). And then He dwells within us and helps us to understand Himself.

All this to say. We may be pretty foolish even in our wisdom. But as believers we have a unique ability to be taught by THE master. The only one who truly understands God Himself dwells within us. And that person is God Himself.

Pretty cool. "Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God." (v. 12).

Preach the word, exhort, etc... (2 Timothy 4:2)

"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." - 2 Timothy 4:2

I attended a wedding today of one of my best buddies. It was a little long for my taste as it was about 2 hours long. In contrast my own lasted only about 20 minutes.

A few weeks ago when talking to him he we talked about how long the wedding would be. I mentioned I have a preference for short weddings. His answer was, "Maybe where you are from most people who attend the wedding will have already heard the name of Jesus. Not so here. We have to take this opportunity to preach the gospel as it will be the only time many people who attend will ever hear the truth." It's hard to argue with that response.

Today I watched a man and a woman walk down the isle and use their special day to preach the word. This man has challenged me in my own walk with the Lord so many times it's embarrassing. From the beginning I was expected to be discipling him, but all along he was asking me how he could pray for me and how he could love me. He challenged me, rebuked me, exhorted me, and loved me like a friend and a man of God is called to do here in 2 Timothy.

I want to preach the word. I need to learn what it is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with patience. I want to be able to do so when its obvious and when it's not.

Lord this is my prayer.

My love of the world, will it ever stop? (James 4:4)

"You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." - James 4:4

Again I've been dwelling on just how much of my time I spend daydreaming about things that might someday be. Those things are exorbitant amounts of money, and then when I start to feel guilty, it is of course followed by how I would generously give it away and be famous for being so generous.

Am I the only one who really genuinely is satisfied with what he has but still finds it difficult to not be drawn into how much BETTER it would be if (insert situation here). I just long so much to find satisfaction and meaning in the Lord but so frequently live like I'm failing miserably.

I love my life though. I love what I do. I'm incredibly thankful for my wife and daughter and cant believe I get paid to have the fun I have doing ministry. So why do I still absurdly dream of comfortable cars and expensive gin?

My prayer has to be begging God to desire the things he desires and no longer be so enticed by the things of this world. I do think myself someone who finds an awful lot of satisfaction in the Lord, so why does my flesh keep popping up?

Finally, I'm curious, do we ever desire the things of the Lord so much that we no longer value money? Fame? Making history? Or do we just dream of money in a different way. Hoping to do good with it (surely we'd fail right)?

I certainly don't want to be an enemy of the Lord. Lord change my heart.

Fighting and Pauls words about it (2 Timothy 2:24-25a)

"And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness." - 2 Timothy 2:24-25a

I have a friend who recently started a job at a local cafe where he is one of only a few employees as it's a pretty small operation. He really enjoys the job for the most part and I don't blame him, he pretty much sits around and plays on his computer except for the few minutes here and there when someone wants to buy coffee or something.

Yesterday I met with him and he explained to me about how stressed out he is because for the last 10 days a group of beggars have repeatedly come to the restaurant and hassled the customers to give. His boss has specifically told him to not allow them into the cafe (which is understandable in my opinion) and so everyday he has asked them to leave but they've become more and more violent everyday. Apparently yesterday he had to physically push them out of the store as they tried to push past him. He is alone and there are 3 of them, most of them young and strong - its complicated as to why they're begging.

He asked me for some advice as he was seriously distressed and fearful he would end up in a fist fight in no time at all. I tried to offer some things practical, but I think he might have been looking for some wisdom on a heart level. I offered him this verse. As well as the rest of 25 and 26 which says, "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."

So this is what I've been processing today. Not being quarrelsome but being kind. And how that could possibly relate to people who are regularly coming and seeking a confrontation.

Also how it applies to my road rage.

When even angels aren't spared (Jude 6)

"And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day . . . " - Jude 6

This morning as I was praying and trying to dwell on who the Lord is I fell on two things. The first, God is completely in control, and this brings me great comfort. The second thing is God is an awesome, powerful, all mighty, worthy of reverent fear, personal God.

This verse in Jude reminds us the Lord didn't even spare the angels when they strayed from His will. Then verse 7, " - just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."

Jude is about to launch into some reasons why it is necessary to follow whole and sound teaching about the gospel. But first he gives us some reasons we should have nothing to do with lies and heresy. Sodom and Gomorrah are experiencing an eternal fire. Utterly destroyed from the face of the planet, wiped away. This is no little reminder. God doesn't mess around with truth, He means business.

The angels are kept in chains for all of eternity and then cast into darkness. I live in a city which for about 6 months of winter sees the sun about twice. It is a gloomy nightmare, but I cannot fathom the darkness which comes from God casting you out.

Our God is an awesome, powerful, all mighty, worthy of reverent fear, personal God. Because He is as powerful as He is, and as passionate as He is and because He cares for us, He will not fail to deal favorably or horribly with us. It's not a little thing when He's for you and not against you.

Continue in what you've believed (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." - 2 Timothy 3:14-15

There is something particularly comforting to me about calls to perseverance for believers as well as assurance for what that perseverance will produce. I like being reminded that people do run the race successfully. People do finish strong.

That said there is some good advice here. Continue in what I've learned, firmly believed. Remember who my teacher was (both mentors I respected and the Holy Spirit), and remember my founding in the very Word of God. Something not to be taken lightly.

I was raised a believer. I know many who shared a similar upbringing but were afraid to continue walking with the Lord or left the Lord for something seemingly more satisfying. But I like to press on knowing where it leads. Knowing its good. Knowing the scripture leads to wisdom. Remembering I am saved eternally because of Christ Jesus.

Sunday Scripture Day (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." - 2 Timothy 3:14-15

The point is to believe (Jude 5)

"Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe." - Jude 5

This is an interesting verse if for no reason other than it being Jesus who saved the people out of the land of Egypt. My NET Bible tells me many translations don't know what to do with Jesus being the reading even if it is the strongest argument and so they render it as something else. Either way I'm more interested in the second half of this verse.

Those who did not believe were destroyed. This verse comes amidst Jude getting to details related to heresy in the church and in warning people of the lies which may creep in, he also warns them about what destruction comes on those who are sinful. Here they are simply destroyed - although the story in Exodus is much more compelling with the waters closing in on the Egyptians. Later the people who don't trust the Lord die in the wilderness instead of seeing the promised land.

We should fear our Lord because He is an awesome and powerful God. But fear the Lord is reverent awe, not wetting our pants over whether or not we believe and will be destroyed by the All-Powerful God. But the point is not fear.

The point is to believe.

We are to believe and to pursue truth. Our God is an awesome God of power and might and glory and honor. We are minor scratches on the surface of a massive history. Our lives only matter because of Him. Thus we are to believe. Those who don't will be destroyed, and not only that - their lives will have been wasted. Meaningless. But again, don't live in fear. Fear is not the point.

The point is to believe.

Heresy, and those who deny Christ. Consider yourself warned (Jude 4)

"For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." - Jude 4

This verse is pretty much the basis of one of the papers I'm currently writing. There are people out there twisting the truth. Twisting it just enough that if you fall for it it means damnation - which is a big deal. You know about this because you know about the Jehovah's Witness movement. You've heard of of Mormons.

But you may not have recognized the guy who has been coming to your small group and is pressing for such and such a sin to not really be a big deal, and even if it were, Jesus has forgiven him. I think these people sneak in much more frequently than we're aware. Many if not most of them probably have no intention of leading you astray, or even are away they're missing the point. But in the end they may be denying our "Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

The problem is usually this sort of thing doesn't come to our attention until the person has come and gone and several years later we look back on it and say, "what were we thinking?"

We just need to remember Jude was writing the church. We're the church. We are just as susceptible to heresy now as the church was then. Jude is offering a warning.

Consider yourself warned.

Greetings of mercy, peace and love (Jude 2)

"May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you." - Jude 2

And to think, when I meet a friend I have seen in a while I say "Hey man," or when I write a letter, I greet with a "I hope everything is going well." A little while back I decided to try to intentionally start making some changes to my vocabulary and also in my prayer life.

I find when I pray, for example, I frequently end up just praying for 'blessing' for friends or non-believers, or cities. It occurred to me a blessing is a great thing to ask for, but salvation would be a much more pointed prayer and the greatest blessing.

I want to learn to learn to bless believers with my vocabulary intentionally. What if instead of, "Hey what's up," or, "How are you doing" without expecting or even wanting answers, we asked people how they're walking with the Lord? Or even just said something like "God bless."

What about if in emails we said "May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you"?

Contending for the faith (Jude 3)

"Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints." - Jude 3

I'm writing a paper on Jude and the necessity of it in the canon as it applies to me. One of the frustrating things about writing a paper about a book like this is how much time I have to spend in the book to really get an understanding of it. But on the flip-side I always feel like I have a grasp of it after extensive homework.

Today I'm processing what it means to contend for the faith delivered to the saints. The epistle of Jude focuses primarily on the subject of heresy and how once it creeps in it corrupts. The book uses some powerful imagery including how Sodom and Gomorrah were utterly destroyed because of their wickedness and how even angels who went astray were not spared God's wrath.

So now I'm wondering what sorts of things, even those which seem innocent at first, have crept in to my life, theology, or ministry which will lead me or my friends down a path to destruction. I don't mean this to cause us to live in fear (it shouldn't), but a healthy evaluation of the significance of the faith I've embraced might be in order. And am I really contending for the gospel? Or am I so focused on other things I miss the gospel and slowly it becomes distorted until its straight up heresy?

What about those around me and how do I appeal for them to contend for the faith the way it was delivered to them?

Holy Sabbath (Exodus 20:8)

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." - Exodus 20:8

First of all I'm tired.
Very tired.

But secondly, I'm just thinking about how poorly I keep the Sabbath holy. Now even if you don't tightly practice a Sabbath, I think you can relate to someone trying to set aside a day for the Lord. Even if its not all day, hard core rest, just to dwell on him etc...

I'd like to get better at this. Regard a day as holy to Him.

But first I'm gonna get some sleep.

He's coming again. Yea. He really is (2 Peter 3:4)

"They will say, 'Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.'" - 2 Peter 3:4

It's hard to read this and not wonder about it. Part of our lives are used the idea that if the Lord hasn't come back yet then He likely wont in our lifetime. Whether we process it this clearly or not it's built into the way most of us think.

So how do we live like the Lord is coming back like He promised? Should we live like the Lord is coming back? He IS coming back after all.

I suppose the obvious holds true for keeping our jobs and not heading up on our roofs to wait for His coming like some apparently did back in the first century. But how else does this affect us? How do we believe the Lord is coming back without being the crazy guy we've all heard who stands up and tells everyone the Lord IS, with certainty, coming back in their lifetime.

It's simple however. We love the Lord. We live like we always should seeking His will. Ready to answer for the hope within us. Sharing our faith as though the things we believe have an impact on this life as well as the one to come. We plead before the Lord for our lost friends. We love. We pray. We study. We grow. And we try to fulfill our calling to walk with the Lord.

If you're communing regularly and He comes again you can feel good about where you've been and what you've been doing. If when He shows up you barely recognize your old friend then you've missed something. I'm thinking "Hey Jesus, did you get a hair cut? Long time no see."

He's coming. Yea. He really is.

Sunday Scripture Day (Micah 3:12)

"Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height." - Micah 3:12

The gospel of the kingdom proclaimed throughout the whole world (Matthew 24:14)

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." - Matthew 24:14

A lot of people make a weird theology about reaching unreached people groups from this verse. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think we should reach the unreached people groups, but I also think we should reach unreached people. The lost.

Some are called to crazy places where no one has ever been. But you're no less holy if you're called to your neighbor. Those who do not know the Lord are just as lost no matter where they are.

But I don't mean this to be a downer as much as a go-getter... Get out there and share. Not because you have any power over when the end will come (you do not) but because it is the difference between eternal damnation and eternal salvation.

And rejoice when everyone is reached. And then the end will come.

Relax, it's provided (2 Peter 1:11)

"For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." - 2 Peter 1:11

Class has been keeping me busy this last week. It's pretty intense to listen to anything for 8 hours a day 5 days in a row. I suppose I should be thankful but I'm always ready for it to be done by the time it ends.

One of the things we talked about this week was just how saved we are. That is, there aren't levels of saved like I tend to think about it. In fact, whether we believe it or not, Jesus died for us and it's over. We cannot re-crucify Him just so we can feel better about our sin, we cannot feel guilty enough to cover our sins etc....

It is completely provided for.

The Lord has provided us freedom, joy, rest, hope, assurance, salvation, and an entrance into the eternal kingdom. So go home and rest and quit trying so hard and just really enjoy that its been done.

For some reason this sunk again yesterday and I felt a weight off my shoulders. Sad to think I thought I could carry my own salvation on my shoulders.

Thank you Lord for providing salvation. For providing hope. For providing an entrance into the kingdom that lasts forever. Into your kingdom.

Our tongues and blazing fires (James 3:5b-6)

"How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness." - James 3:5b-6

One of the biggest advantages of writing over speaking is you see your words come out and you can erase or delete as you see necessary. Because basically none of you know me in person none of you know just how easily (though you may guess) I can say stupid things and hurt people or just make myself look like a moron.

I think I read through this section of James every time and just think, "Yea everyone knows that, but there's really nothing we can do about it." But today when I read this I realized how far I have come in taming my tongue. Now don't get me wrong, I still have a long ways to go, but there have definitely been some strides in the last few years.

Specifically this last summer I was living with some college students while I was taking some seminary classes and while they were believers I was absolutely shocked at their mouths. Horrifying statement after horrifying statement had me realize just how far I've come, because no doubt just about 4 years ago (just a couple of months before I started dating the woman to become my wife) I was just as bad as any of these guys.

I'm writing this simply to say there is hope. If there is hope for me then there is definitely hope for you. As a person who absolutely lacks the ability to think before he speaks I have to imagine it is only by the grace of God my tongue is causing smaller and smaller fires as I spend more time with more disciplined and weathered believers.

May God give us grace to put a bit in our own mouths, and may we learn to surrender our tongue to Him.

Sunday Scripture Day (Malachi 1:5)

"Your own eyes shall see this, and you shall say, 'Great is the LORD beyond the border of Israel!'" - Malachi 1:5

He manifests Himself to those who love Him. But what about the lost? (John 14:21)

"Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." - John 14:21

Or rather, "He who loves me . . . I will manifest myself to him."

I recognize this is a truncated version of some sort. That said however, today I was contemplating the ways the Lord reveals Himself to us. I was visiting a group of people MUCH worse off than I am and in such situations I always feel so much worse for the lost.

Sad really I think. If you lead a comfortable life in this life why should I think eternal damnation is any more bearable? I just see brokenness and truly lost people much more clearly in poor settings. Again though, I'm reminded my numbness to the lost in richer settings is wrong. The lost are lost whether rich or poor.

Then as I read this verse I was simply thinking about how the Lord reveals Himself to us. When we love Him he manifests Himself. Awesome. But does it come in the form of pain for the lost?

And we know He's written His law on people's hearts even when they're lost and has revealed Himself in His creation and everything so they will be without excuse.

I confess if someone hadn't made it very clear to me I'm not sure I would believe the Lord. I might be fascinated by the trees but if everyone told me my whole life they were accidents of nature I imagine I'd believe them.

It is a gift the Lord has chosen you. It is a gift we can even hope to know His commandments, let alone try to follow them.

And it is a gift He has chosen to manifest Himself to us. Those who love Him.

God: "I will swallow up death" - (Isaiah 25:8)

"He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken." - Isaiah 25:8

I've been in the New Testament so much lately this is really nice to read. A simple change of pace from intense theological concerns to simple adoration of our father.

Our God will swallow up death forever. I wonder why the word 'swallow' is used here. It seems 'destroyed' would work just fine and 'swallow' is an odd word to chose in the context. It's like eating it is somehow conquering it on top of just wiping it away.

He will take away the reproach of His people, forgiving them.

He will wipe their tears.

He HAS spoken.

I love this change in tense because while the Lord WILL do these things, it IS written down. He HAS spoken it into being even though it has not yet occurred and so it is as good as done. We can be so sure it will come to pass it is as if we can look back on it already happening.

I thank the Lord He has taken away my sins. I look forward to the Lord wiping away my tears. And I long for the day the Lord conquers and then swallows up death.

Forever.

Our lives of sin. Vomit. (2 Peter 2:22)

"What the true proverb says has happened to them: 'The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.'" - 2 Peter 2:22

This verse conjures up a very specific memory from my childhood when my brother and I were dragged to a house of a family friend. We were bored to tears and thrilled when my parents finally decided to leave. We went ahead of them outside and they stayed at the door and talked another twenty minutes or so.

I vividly remember standing outside of the fence of their yard and watching their dog poop and run off, then wait a minute and in wandering around the yard stumble upon his own feces as if a doggie treat. He smelled it for a minute and then ate it. My brother and I were horrified but fascinated. It then threw up and wandered off again, coming back to smell it and then proceed to eat it. This time it didn't even wander off but tried to eat it again.

Over and over again it returned to it's own vomit. I didn't hear this verse or understand it until years later but it has always resonated with me because I've actually been mortified by seeing a dog do this.

And yet we're the same with our sin. Even worse seems to be the people who taste Christ and then leave and return to a life of sin. 2 Peter compares this to returning to vomit.

Our lives of sin. Vomit. Don't keep going back.

p.s. My commentary tells me that in the Old Testament pigs and dogs were the epitome of dirty.

Faith. To not shrink back and be destroyed (Hebrews 10:39)

"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." - Hebrews 10:39

The tricky part about this is that in order to say with confidence we are of those who have faith, we have to actually have faith. In order to believe we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, we have to actually not shrink back.

All things are possible through the Lord and I'm convinced the only way we would ever be people who qualify for this verse is through Him.

But imagine being someone who has faith. I mean REALLY has faith. Imagine trusting the Lord so much you pray for people for healing with full confidence the Lord will either heal them or has a greater plan. When I pray for people for healing I ask ahead of time in my head why the Lord might not want to answer this prayer. I doubt because so few of the people I lay hands on are actually healed. Yet I'm supposed to pray.

I want to persevere, not shrink back and be destroyed but preserve my soul. Lord make me this man.

In, not of. Being with, not carousing with (Matthew 11:19)

"The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds." - Matthew 11:19

I often take this to the extreme of 'well then maybe we'll all get to the end of our lives and wish we been eating and drinking more,' when what we're probably supposed to get from this is simply the joy of our God. He came and was willing to enter into the world of the people around Him. Be in but not of. That's the difference between being with them and carousing with them.

Unfortunately I'm not as strong, wise, or perfect as my savior and tend to get confused between two or walk a line I should not. This is to say I think we really are called to enjoy some things with our non-believing friends and show them that the things of this world were created by God. But at the same time to not worship and demonstrate God's power and strength over them.

When doing this don't get confused between right and wrong. Don't end up being an actual glutton and drunkard - and by all means follow the laws of the land, the restaurant, and your family. But a beer once and while with a friend can really open doors like nothing else.

Your wisdom will be justified by your deeds, so it should be pretty obvious if you've messed up.

Sunday Scripture Day (Isaiah 55:6)

"Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near."- Isaiah 55:6

*to their credit this is the BibleGateway.com scripture of the day. I just really liked it.

I want faith like that (Luke 2:36-37)

"There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying" - Luke 2:36-37

Today I met with a friend I've known for just about two years. I'm really excited for him because he will be getting married on November 1 this year (so just about a month from now). The girl he's marrying is way out of his league too. He's two years older but entered college two years later than her, she's working on her PhD and he's just recently finished his Masters with no plans of further study.

Today I was sharing with him some thoughts I had on marriage and somehow we got on to the topic of my parents. My grandmother died with my dad was only two years old. We talked a bit about how my grandfather handled the situation and where they are now. Then he mentioned to me that yesterday he was reading in Luke and read this passage. He said, "She was only married seven years. After that all she did was worship. That's amazing."

It's true. And I thought it worthy of simply pointing out. There are people throughout the Bible with incredible faith. It's at once encouraging and challenging to me. This woman was a widow for many many years and was old (especially by the standards of the time). But she was faithful. Every day and every night in the temple praying. Fasting and praying.

I want faith like that.

The Big Sin meme

Memes go out all the time. I've started a few myself. But really as Christian bloggers how are our memes any different than the rest of the world? Should they be? Shouldn't they be?

I think its time we do something that sort of torques the world's head a little bit and expose ourselves awkwardly in an attempt to build one another up. So I'm proposing a confession of sorts. A few years ago a mentor of mine asked me think about all the people who get blown out of ministry or public positions because of sin in their lives. He asked, "If you were to be taken out by one sin what would it be?"

Now when I read about Ted Haggard I was disappointed but I wasn't surprised. People sin all the time. There are some sins which we deem make you no longer capable of a position of leadership etc... But I don't want to become a Ted Haggard. So I ask you, do you know yourself? Are you open enough about your struggles so that others are keeping you from falling because they know your weaknesses? This is not to
necessarily ask answer what sins are you dealing with now, but...

If you were to be taken out by one sin (or a couple, whatever) what would it be?

My answers were the same then as they are now.

I said:
1. Sexual sin. - I'm a man, and not to say that makes it okay, just that I deal with it like many others.
2. Alcohol - I think alcohol is the most delicious thing on the planet. I hope keeping it in check is never a problem, not just for me and my 'image' but also for my family.

So there you have it. It might make you uncomfortable, but I'm still curious to hear. I'm also curious what kind of affect (if any) this kind of meme could have on our community. I look forward to getting to know some of you better through your answers.

(Now you know the drill, answer and tag 5 other bloggers.)

I tag:
Jeff at Scripture Zealot
Nathan at Discipuluscripturae
TC at New Leaven
Chuck at A Goula Blogger
Matthew at Crypto Theology
Tim at If I Were a Bell I'd Ring

And just for chuckles because he wont pass it on:
Nick at RDTWOT

I'll try to keep up and post links to the blogs that take it up so you have a centralized place to catch up if you're interested.

To serve. Not be served (Mark 10:45)

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." - Mark 10:45

Even the most powerful person who ever lived. Even the only man who was also God. Even the only one who ever lived who deserved to be served. Even He did not come to be served but to serve.

I still am trying to figure out what the stink in my own life makes it so stinking painful to serve others. What is it about serving others that for me is always so awkward, unnatural? I imagine its a learned trait. The more we serve the easier it becomes to serve. But am I that constantly out of practice?

I'm married, and my wife would be grumpy with me always if I wasn't at least sometimes serving her. Although I probably do intentionally walk a line just on the edge of keeping her happy. I should work on that.

The thing which strikes me about this verse is the Lord gave his life as a ransom. He was a servant from the beginning. Which makes me think He's been in practice. He began to serve and it became natural (although I can't know if it ever became easy). Serving became normal enough in His life that He could give up His life entirely.

Fascinating. I think about stories about those believers who gave up their own lives for others and I frequently wonder if I would have the strength or the will to do so. I imagine unless I get more in the habit of serving, serving up my life will not be so doable.

Thank you Lord for serving and serving and serving. And thank you for serving me even today when I am completely unworthy of being served.

Conquer (Revelation 3:12)

"The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name." - Revelation 3:12

As opposed to having 666 written on you you'll have the name of God. And you'll have the name of the city of God (I assume it will be something cool like JerusalemX or something).

Okay admittedly the "and my own new name" part baffles me a little bit, but this is Jesus talking.

I basically just wanted to comment on how I desire to be the one who conquers. I like 'conquers' a lot better than other places that say 'overcomes,' it seems more masculine. When I hear overcome I think, 'overcome diversity' and that just sounds lame. But when I hear conquer I think of swords and bows and arrows and horses and great battles.

I want to conquer in the spiritual realm. In order to conquer I'll have to make sure I'm fighting (as it's pretty easy to become complacent).

Do what it takes to be a pillar in the temple of God. Conquer.

Doxology (Jude 24-25)

"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." - Jude 24-25

You may have heard this as a doxology at some point if you come from a church which does that sort of thing.

I just wanted to comment on how this brief verse contains so many things. First of all its a prayer and ends with "Amen". Next it contains worship and adoration speaking of God's strength in ability to "keep you from stumbling and present you blameless." Then it reminds us Jesus is God, Savior, and Lord.

Finally it worships the Lord with a call for glory, majesty, dominion, and authority - things which are already His and always will be His - to be ascribed to Him forever.

Jude was brilliant. I hope I can learn prayers as beautiful and concise so as to praise and worship my heavenly father.

Our God holds the keys to Death and Hades - sweet (Revelation 1:17b-18)

"But he laid his right hand on me, saying, 'Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.'" - Revelation 1:17b-18

The more scripture I read and the more I write about it, the more I'm shocked at just how much of the scripture declares the awesomeness of our God. I've said before when I pray I have a difficult time 'adoring' the Lord as part of my daily routine. But it has gotten easier and part of it is reading all this adoration scripture.

Our God is the first and the last. He died, yet he is the living one, who will endure forever. In fact he holds the keys to Hell and Death. How crazy is that? He can lock up Death and make it go away, and he will someday. He can lock up Hades and make it a place no one can any longer go. As the one with the keys He decides when the door is shut, locked, dead-bolted (pun intended), barred up.

Satan no longer has the keys and when the Lord so chooses He'll close that door forever. He endures forever. He is alive forevermore and can not be bound by death despite the best efforts on behalf of His enemy.

Our God is worthy of praise because is the first. He is the last. He lives forever. He passed through death and conquered it. Took the keys to Death and to Hades.

Our God is an awesome God.

(p.s. How freaked out would you be if a God this powerful put His hand on you when he talked to you. I imagine I'd probably wet my pants among other things)

Sunday Scripture Day (Zechariah 1:3-4)

"Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD." - Zechariah 1:3-4

James a servant. Me, proud. (James 1:1)

"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ . . ." - James 1:1

Who in their right mind considers themselves a 'servant' of their older brother? I have an older brother, and I'll tell you its about the last thing I would ever do.

Why is it that the brother of Jesus (probably) is able to understand his place in the Kingdom of God and I - a nobody - can so often desire to be an equal with God rather than a servant?

What is it about my pride that's different than that of the apostles? I really wonder, had met Jesus face to face would He be so strikingly authoritative and in love with His Father I would immediately know my place? Or would I continue to think the way I do now?

How is it that I can have a relationship with the Lord and frequently see His magnificence and yet be so quick to try to be anything in God's Kingdom except His servant?

When am I going to get my act together and live the things I know in my head? When will it be natural, obvious, or easy? And why can I see freedom from so many sins in so many areas of my life but be unwilling to give up my pride, do I really think that highly of myself?

I think I do.

I long to be a servant of Christ but I think so highly of myself as to see who will be my servant. How long O Lord? Save me from my pride and help me to humbly accept the worthless state I am in apart from you.

Don't sin by NOT doing something. That's just sad. (James 4:17)

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." - James 4:17

James is sometimes a scary book. There's a lot in it that certainly makes me feel like I'm saved by works and if I'm not working enough then I might not be saved. I easily fall into trying to earn my salvation even though I very much think this isn't what the book is trying to say.

Then I get here and read about sins of omission. Things I know I'm supposed to do and then don't. Like when I know I'm supposed to give to a beggar or take him to lunch but I walk by instead, somehow justifying the hurry I'm in. Or when I know I'm supposed to stop and ask the guy on the street if I can pray for him, but I don't.

It's odd how you almost have to train yourself to do the things you know you're supposed to. I frequently feel like I'm supposed to stop and pray for people. Last week I saw a girl walking down the street shaking like she was suffering from MS or something (I don't know what it was) and I felt like I was supposed to go pray for her. It's awkward sometimes, but I have a standard opening line.

"Excuse me, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable but I believe in a powerful God and if it's okay with you I'd like to pray for you real quick." Then I ask if I can pray for healing or whatever the stink it is I feel like should pray for.

When I walk by these people it becomes harder and harder to ever stop and do what I'm supposed to. But when I stop and do it, it gets easier every next time and I like doing what I know I should be doing.

That said, in college once I walked by the boss of my boss (I worked for the University while I was attending) walked by me on the street and I had recently found out that he had HIV from a very promiscuous homosexual lifestyle years before. I walked right by him saying "No way Lord" when I knew I was supposed to pray. Turning around and running back to catch him was as awkward of a thing as I've ever done. But he was very thankful for someone to lay hands on him and pray for him. Touched I think would be the right word.

I know God wanted to use that situation. I'm glad I didn't fail to do it. I wonder about how he might have used the situations I walked right by. I hate the idea of a sin of omission. But when God wants to make use of you, if you pass it by you're probably passing by a pretty cool opportunity.

Don't miss what he has. Don't miss the opportunities for blessing, or giving, or healing, or whatever it is He calls you to. A regular sin is usually doing something sinful because we know it will satisfy us. Sins of omission are lame because it's NOT doing what will satisfy us (if not in this life then in the next) AND sinning.

Just a thought.