Showing posts from May, 2017

Afternoon Doldrums Prayer

I often ask during Bible studies, 'how does this help in the midweek afternoons, when we are tired and falling asleep at our desks, or exhausted from yet another day managing kids?" I stole the question from someone, but I don't remember who! Then this morning, the same question came up and it so happens that we uncovered the perfect prayer in our reading for such moments like the afternoon doldrums, and even situations much worse! Hear this prayer from the Prophet Jonah. “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the

The Location of Joy

Every now and again I receive questions about my preaching, or my perspective on a particular text of Scripture, it just comes with the territory. Truth is though I am thankful for it because I am not the author of the Bible, nor am I error-free in my interpretation of it. However, when I do think I have presented the sense of Scripture rightly and someone disagrees my goal is not to prove them wrong but to bring them along to the joy that is found in the grace of Christ as Scripture reveals it. And I say this because every question I have ever received in seven years of vocational ministry relates to the reality, the extent and the sufficiency of grace. "Don't I have to do this to be saved?" "Does grace really go this low?" "There is no way Jesus keeps me saved once I am in, I have to make sure I don't slip up..." "Is sanctification really a promise from God?" "I have always heard that God is disappointed with me, how can he actuall

Necessity of Love in Fellowship

Studying this week the close of 1 Corinthians in chapter 16:12-24. Paul encourages the church to stand firm and to do everything they do in love. This is to be the community of believers, the church, local and global in love. Martin Luther profoundly wrote how amazing this community of love can be, as our reward, in his Sacrament of the Body of Christ . "True fellowship is divine and heavenly; it is the noblest, surpassing all the others as gold surpasses copper or lead; it is the communion of the saints, in which we all are brothers and sisters, so near to one another that greater nearness could never be conceived. For there is one baptism, one Christ, one sacrament, one meal, one gospel, one faith, one Spirit, one spiritual body, and each one is a member of the other; no other brotherhood is so deep and close. But if you say, "Unless I get something through the fellowship, of what use is it?" The answer is, "You serve the community and other peoples as lov

Salvation is of the Lord

"When I first read, “In love he predestined us for adoption,” I was angry. But then I realized I had to respond—either to surrender or to turn away. You can’t have it both ways. Either you let God be God all the way or you choose your own way and try to save yourself. That doesn’t mean I didn’t choose Christ. I did. But who was at work showing me my sin? Showing me my need for Jesus? The question is: who is the first mover? The answer has to be God. The God of the Bible is Yahweh, literally “the God who saves.” Salvation is of the Lord. And when salvation is of the Lord, what are you worried about? You can trust that your heavenly Father has your life all in hand. He knows the beginning from the end." - Jack Miller reflecting on Ephesians 1:4-5. 

The Bible as Straight Iron

In the bathroom I share with a certain person that will remain nameless, there is a straightening iron. Obviously I don't use any such device (since I am bald) but evidentially it comes in handy when you get a shorter haircut and your hair wants to lay the opposite way than what is desired. It retrains the hair with heat to straighten.  What amazing technology...  As I noticed the iron it made me think of my daily need to be shaped myself - spiritually. Like the misbehaving hair, my natural inclination is to lean the wrong way, to see myself as king and plot my course on my whims and skewed perspectives rather than truth. When I wake up each morning, I am the first thing I think about, self-indulgence, self-satisfation and even the failure of self. I am consistently in need of something better. To be formed by a different word, a truer and better word.  To the word I go. The Bible declares the gospel on every page, the need for salvation, the provision of grace and the glory of Chr

Gospel Perspective to be Shared

"Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV) As I prepared to preach these words last week I was struck by the necessity of ministry, what is essentially the minister's role; to live and share a life informed by a gospel perspective. There were a couple opportunities for counseling and helping people through difficulties, there was the expositing of Scripture and also encouraging leaders and making vision decisions for the church. All of this along with being a husband and father of a growing and active family. At each moment I noticed my internal lurch toward a self-centered, anxious perspective. Thinking the worst of events (which is bad because I am generally an optimist), and figuring my striving was the only solution. But the gospel brings a different word, a better perspective. In Christ I am secure, I am made immovable, unshakeable

Plumb Perfect

On Wednesday mornings I meet up with a couple guys to study Scripture and talk about how the gospel shapes our days. (If you are a dude near Rancho Bernardo and want to hang at 6:30 am... meet us at Starbucks!) And this morning, yet again, we were reminded of the goodness of Jesus toward us. Of course, it took a while to get there. We are studying Amos, one of the Minor Prophets, that spoke the word of God to Israel long ago. His particular message in the chapter we read today was that he was setting a plumb line and letting wrath for sinfulness and idol worship flow. The people, the whole nation, would be taken out of the land, destroyed. It was hard words of judgment, words that one false priest said the people couldn't bear. Oh, how we are like Israel... We talked of wrath, of national identity versus individual hope, of our own inability to avoid the "high places" of our culture (little spots to worship things and other gods.) But we kept coming back to the plumb line

Surrendering Vision

Vision, vision, vision! Hang out with church leaders long enough and you will encounter the vision monster often.  We throw around out-of-context Scripture to prove how we are perishing without new vision and too often succumbed to comments warning of a lack of vision when people actually mean a lack of action that tickles their fancy.  Sure we can communicate better, with more repetition and refine vision so it is understandable. But let's not for a second think our strategy is what will build the church, unless it is not a church we are building but just a crowd... This morning I came across this truth from Alan Scott a pastor in Northern Ireland. "As a leader you don't SET the vision for your Church; you SURRENDER to His vision for His Church."  This is the real way of vision in the Christian church. Surrendering our weak and manufactured "vision" for that of Jesus. For the discipling of his people for his glory.  Let's be careful where we source and