Posts tagged Christ
Wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death? – Romans 7:24, ESV
Since the beginning of the year the Lord has really put Romans 7 on my heart in such a way that in everyday life I find myself thinking on this passage and it’s implications. I wanted to share a few observations the Spirit has revealed regarding this text that they may help you.
The Direction of the Sins of Christians is Christ
Set aside those who would call themselves Christians and let us focus on those who are truly saved. Those who are truly saved still sin. This sin is because of our flesh. The flesh is that part of us which is still human. This is reflected in Romans 7 as Paul contends that the law is holy, but finds us sinful. God is holy, his law is just, and it finds us in guilt. What can a Christian hope to do with the guilt that God has heaped upon us by our own sin? We have to conclude that we are wretched and unsalvageable. Then comes Christ and the full glory of God was crucified on the cross and then rose on the third day so that we might believe. Therefore the sin of the Christian calls not to their guilt, for the guilt of the Christian was put on the lamb as he was slaughtered, and instead points to Christ. The holiness of the law is reflected in God’s wrath on the son because of the sin of the believer. (more…)
“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:8, ESV
“But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’” Galatians 2:14, ESV
As a younger man I find that when I talk to people who are younger most of the unbiblical traditionalism they see is in the rear view. It’s behind them with their parents or grandparents and their churches. Organ music, older translations, and wearing a suit to church are all considered to be forms of judgementalism which when used for evil is something to be run from. I have attended many churches which have told me that they were not like my last church because they weren’t harmful to my faith and were rather there for me. Traditionalism and hypocrisy is a sin, and the bible does recognize that those who appear to be most devoted can actually be traditionalistic hypocrites, but the scripture also seems to indicate that if we run from tradition to more tradition and not the cross of Christ that we can just as easily fall into sin as those we view as traditionalistic. This is a warning to my generation which is up and coming in church. If we go from tradition to tradition we have neglected the faith and should suffer as hypocrites.
When Christ walked the earth his most vocal critiques were Pharisees who were misled by their passion for godless tradition and sinful hearts into killing Christ. Traditionalism has at it’s heart man. When man is justified by man’s works then man is worshipping himself. A traditionalistic person will replace their love of God with love of self. Traditionalism does not bow to scripture but rather sets it’s own course. Traditionalism leads away from Christ to pride or despair. Pride if one feels as though one can truly find salvation in self, or despair if one feels as though there is no hope to find salvation because it can’t possibly come from self.
Characteristically traditionalism is considered to be cultural. Old churches which use hymnals, don’t have electric guitars or Facebook pages, where preachers are stern about sin could be considered traditionalist by the larger community or even other believers. The solution presented by some is to create an alternative community that looks like the world around them, does not call out Christians on their sinful behavior in humility, and spend large money on advertising and reaching people. The problem is that this is not enough.
Years after Christ died Cephas (Peter) was the head of the church in Jerusalem when he was approached by an upstart evangelist named Paul (formerly Saul). Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Cephas out on his traditionalism. Cephas had just started the church of Jerusalem, he had grown large, and he had led the church into traditionalism. Cephas’ traditionalists were called the “circumcision party” because of their requirement that Gentiles who came to believe in Christ should be circumcised to be Christians. Paul calls out Cephas for his hypocrisy and tells him to repent. So where had Cephas, with his new systems, new church, and new ideas gone away from the gospel? Traditionalism. (more…)
“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3, ESV
There will come a time in your life when there will be no one there to contend for you. Whether it is personal failure, loss of status, or loss of employment you will come to a spot where you realize that there is nothing there to define for you who you are other than God. It is at those points that you will have one thing left to remember: God contends for you. He defends you. He is your refuge.
At this point in his life David has heard and done great things but experienced horror after horror. Samuel had anointed him king and he had killed Goliath. He had married the daughter of the king and his career path was set. He was ready to ascend to the thrown. This is not what the Lord had planned for him. Just as David got to the top of his professional career he had to flee. He left his wife, his home, and his path.
He had nothing left except God. Depression probably plagued him. His mood swings are evident through the Psalms. He had gotten it all taken away from him. Now David was not perfect, but he did not necessarily deserve what he got. King Saul grew jealous and tried to have him killed. He simply had to run away from everything.
In our lives we run into ruts, problems, devastation and carnage. Some of us bear the wounds of going to war, some of us bear the wounds of abuse, some of us bear the scars of continued sin. Let the scripture offer you a cool drink and a place to rest. Let scripture minister to you with Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” Again with Psalm 3:8 “Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people.” Sit under the ministry of Psalm 3:4 “I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill.”
God acknowledged David’s foes. The Lord led David in the wilderness. The Lord did not abandon David and David grew threw his experience in the wilderness. If you are a Christian and you are reading this know this: the Lord is contending for you. He is defending you. He is providing for you. He is with you. If you are not a Christian know that your despair is no longer warranted. Repent of your sin and humbly come to Christ and you will be saved. The blood of Christ leads us to God who does not abandon, give up, or give in. The Lord is steadfast in defending his children.
May you find peace in Christ,
This was originally published in March 2010 and was meant to be part of a ten part series. However only four were published, so now we are returning to finish was we started.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (1 Timothy 4:7, NIV)
Paul had an amazing life. He went all over most of the Roman empire, preaching and ministering to people. He wrote a large part of the new testament and is credited with bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul actually started his religious career a Pharisee, who went from town to town in ancient Israel stirring up hate against the Christians in that town. As a matter of fact the bible tells the story of Stephen, a young man who was killed for his faith. The bible says that a man named Saul held the coats of the men so they would not get in the way as they stoned Stephen. Then that man Saul went on his way to Damascus, where Jesus met him on the road and struck him blind. He continued along his way to Damascus and prayed and fasted for three days until Jesus sent a man named Ananias to pray for him and remove the scales from his eyes. From that point on Paul traveled around the world preaching Jesus.
It was never easy for Paul though. Starting his ministry was difficult, considering that his reputation for killing Christians was well known. It is never recorded that he was slow or cautious in speech, and it got him in a lot of trouble. Paul had to be lowered down the wall of the first city that he is recorded to have ministered to. They wanted to kill him. Paul had several ships sink out from under him. Paul was deserted by most of his friends. He was bitten by a poisonous snake. He was flogged, beaten, spit upon, and insulted by members of his own country. Paul never had it easy. He was always working, always traveling, always giving of himself to the people that needed the gospel in their lives.
What was it about Paul that made him so impactful and so successful? He persevered, kept the faith, and loved Jesus his whole life. Paul remained humble, he never took things to seriously. It is never recorded that he railed against anyone who beat or whipped him. Paul just kept going, he never slowed down. He always kept his eyes focused on Jesus, and he understood that true contentment and joy were only found in Him.
Fatherhood is an institution that has taken a beating over the past few decades. From ancient times there have been negative dynamics between men and their sons. Ancient Spartans would torture their sons to make them strong. Ancient Egyptian fathers rarely showed affection to their children. Many ancient Japanese boys did not see the face of their father until their fourth or fifth birthday. Today there remain some of those dynamics, but it seems that the new negative relationship of choice for dad’s is the absentee father. This is when a dad simply leaves the woman that he has had a kid with and goes back out into the world to live a life separated from his children. This is a catastrophe. The problem is that father’s that abandon their children are likely to end with little income. Their children are likely to fall into rebellious sins. Many sons of absentee fathers are themselves absentee fathers. A lot is made of these dads that have left their home, but if we were honest with ourselves we would say that our cultural image of a father is not a good one. Watching popular television one can see that dad’s are generally absorbed by work. They get into some nasty situations and are saved by their wives. They usually don’t care about their children, unless they need them to do something for them. This is not a good example for young dads.
A good biblical example of a dad is Joseph. Joseph was a simple man. The bible says that Joseph was a carpenter, so he was a hard and capable worker. He was engaged to Mary, which meant that he was old enough to pay the wedding fees. While Mary was probably younger than sixteen, Joseph was probably older than 25. He was from Nazareth, and had probably had his eye on Mary for a long time. While this may seem odd to people from our day, in Jesus’ time a man had to be established to get married. Joseph had been working a long time to get engaged, and now he was.
It is a good thing for men to work hard and find a good girl to marry. Many absentee fathers were never married to the women that they had kids with. If you are a guy out there today who is trying to lead a holy and fruitful life, be objective when it comes to women. Don’t go running after the first dime piece (pretty) who has billions of dimes (is rich). Does she love God like Mary did? From what I have been told and from what I have seen a relationship with God covers a lot of holes in a marriage that develop as part of our natural sin nature. If she does not love Jesus it can be a disaster that may lead you to leave your home.
From watching engaged man I have observed that engagement is a time of excitement and anxiety. I can image that Joseph was looking forward to starting his life with Mary. I can imagine that as the days grew closer to the day they would wed it would be harder for Joseph to concentrate on his carpentry. I bet the older carpenters made a few jokes about the smile on his face and the spring in his step. Of course then God came onto the picture and everything changed. Mary comes back from an extended stay at far away relatives and she is pregnant. All of the sudden Joseph feels incredibly ashamed. How could he have fallen for a girl who would cheat on him after they were engaged? He was probably incredibly hurt. The bible says in Mathew 1:19 that Joseph was a just man, and that he just wanted a quiet divorce. The other option was stoning, so he could have had her stoned. He could have ended it then and there. But Joseph was a just man. (more…)
In 3 John 9-10 we say that Diotrephes had taught a false gospel. The church that John was writing too was a strong church that loved sound doctrine. Demetrius had hear that what the church was saying was good. The church that John was writing to was imitating good. They were not acting like Diotrephes, but they were acting like Christ. They were imitating good and not doing evil.
The wording of “imitating good” can kind rather phony in our very individualistic culture. It has long been noted by psychologists and sociologists that our society is becoming less and less community centered. We are turning in on ourselves. Think about our movies. Most movies focus on one character and his or her individual struggle and triumph. What does imitation say about integrity? What does imitation say about personal faith? Imitation sounds rather phony. So why is John telling this church to imitate good.
Imitation is not necessarily evil or phony. For instance, I am typing on computer about Jesus. I am not the first to do this. I know several people who are doing this, maybe at the exact time that I am. They have done this for a lot longer than I am. In a way I am imitating them. However, I am doing it in a personal way. I am doing what they are doing but for myself. I take their mantle. Christ says that we are called to carry the cross, just as he did. We are called to take his yolk. We are called to serve his truth. This doesn’t make us zombies, this makes us friends and family of Christ. We are not called to cut our hair like Christ, we are called to love as he did. We are called are not called to wear what Christ wore, we are called to serve those who needed the gospel like he did.
The key to why we should imitate is found in verse 12. John writes that the testimony of the apostles is good. The gospel, the testimony of the apostles, is found as good not just to the community but the larger church. In a way we all imitate. The songs that run through your mind are usually not yours. The movies you love you did not create. When you play football you are probably trying to throw like Aaron Rodgers or tackle like Ray Lewis. When I write I think of people like C.S. Lewis, Mark Driscoll, and Matt Chandler. I am seeking to be an imitation of them while living my life. In the same way this church that John was writing to was being called to imitate the good leaders in their church.
In an age of hyperindiviualism it is important to imitate Christ. Don’t go rogue, serve Christ. Don’t try to be something special, try to be like Christ. It’s not about us, our society, or our rights. It is all about Jesus. Serve Christ, die to yourself, and live.
I live in Denver, Colorado. It is a bussling metropolis that is expanding rapidly. People are moving to Denver in droves from all over the country and all over the world. However Denver is not really a place where people settle. It is more of a hotel than a house. People come into Denver, stay a few years, and then leave the city for the suburbs or other parts of the country. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does create a unique opportunity for service among church leaders in Denver. Denver churches have to focus on developing people for ministry, showing them the gospel in it’s glory, because eventually most of the people in Denver will leave for other parts of the world. They will leave for service in other areas. This is what was happening in the church in 3 John. In verses five to eight the church was sending out people. We aren’t sure where they were going or what they were doing but they were going out and they were commanded to keep truth with them. Sometimes people leave churches for commercial opportunities like a new job. Sometimes they leave because they are starting new churches. Sometimes they want to go to a church that is closer to their neighborhood. These are all good reasons to leave a church, and John tells the church to bless these people as they go.
This speaks to who the church is and what the church was at the time that John was writing. The church that John was involved with was a family. I am sure they had stylistic differences, doctrinal differences, and personality conflicts, but as far as we know from this letter that wasn’t the reason these people were leaving. They weren’t leaving to find better music, better doctrine, or better community. They had come into the church and learned and were now being sent to other parts of the universal body to serve those parts. This is the beauty of church. We are not a set of competing corporations, we are a universal body. When a great server from one church to another the other church is blessed.
I pray that this generation of Christians would serve their churches well wherever life takes them. We live in a world that is increasingly global. We will move more than our parent’s generation and our kids will move around more than us. Churches need to be dedicated to the idea that they are building and sending. Churches should call the local community to faith through love and engagement, then build those converts into believers. Then strengthen the converts through good teaching and preaching, community, and calls to repentance and service. Then as these converts leave the church rejoices because these converts, who are strengthened in their faith and in the grace of Christ, are gifts to other congregations.
If you are in a church seek to grow in your faith and serve those around you. If you are older and established serve those who are young and might be dispersed to where God has them go with truth, love, and community. Reflect Christ so that as they go out you might rejoice because you know they go to reflect Christ to their new community.
By Kelsey Kroon
A part of our faith is emotions. It is necessary. Without emotions we wouldn’t have the remorse of sin, joy with blessings, the excitement from a true worship experience. Without the emotional side to the faith it’s a dull, meaningless waste of time.
However, we’re addicted to emotions, are we not? In everything we do we expect to have a huge emotional outcome. We’re addicted to the drama that is affiliated with many things. When we fall in love we expect there to be an angelic choir singing in the background. When we find Jesus we expect to have the incredible, tear filled, “had God’s hand not found me I would have been dead” experience. Without the emotional come-to-Jesus we sometimes think that it doesn’t count, that we have to go through hell in order for it to really work. This addiction to the emotions becomes an idol, in a sense. Sometimes we come to Christ so that we can have that emotional high, not because of the Grace that is Jesus. We worship the emotion instead of the Creator.
God’s big enough to move through the small, personal, one-on-one encounters. He doesn’t HAVE to have the big booming stories.
I’ve heard a lot of people say, “But I grew up going to church. I never had a time where I hated God and experimented with darkness.” GOOD FOR YOU! I’m so happy you didn’t have to go through hell to get to God! In my eyes, a person who hasn’t had to go through learning the hard way is one of the strongest people ever. God made them strong from the get go. Some of us God has to form and train to be that strong.
Don’t think for one second that because your story didn’t have a sad beginning it doesn’t count as a testimony!
Our minds have been trained to see the drama in everything. Girl, boy, doesn’t matter. We all expect a boom when we walk in a room.
To some, coming to Christ is as simple and natural as breathing. To others it takes a path through the darkest part to find Him.
Synopsis: By the title of this book you might think that it is a self help book, and in a way it is. However John Piper is not digging deep into your psyche to help you from wasting your life, he is actually showing you Christ to lead you to a better life. Don’t Waste Your Life is all about making yourself low and making Christ big. John Piper does not hold back punches, nor does he hold a curtain over any of the glory of God. Be sure to check out a lot of the resources that came out of the Don’t Waste Your Life conferences and media. Just google Don’t Waste Your Life and you will find a lot of different resources.
Buy, rent, read: All of the resources produced by Pastor Piper are very cheap through his website. You should get this book if you have the means. It is an excellent resource.
I recently came across an article in a Relevant magazine that I am reading as part of an internship that I am doing. The article discussed the de-churched movement. Being “de-churched” is having gone to church as a youngster but leaving for the lack of something. De-churched people would say that they are Christians and that they are passionately spiritual, but that a particular church has not been good for them. Some de-churched people can state abuse, false teaching, or horrible church splits as the reason why they do not go to church anymore. More and more the de-churched movement is taking hold of American Christians. With podcasts and live sermons that one can access online, more and more people have been leaving the church and just feeding themselves alone. Here are some things to think about if you are de-churched, or if you go to a church and find yourself more and more dissatisfied with what you are hearing and seeing, and are planning to leave that church. (more…)