Thursday, December 8, 2011

The only one who could have thrown the stone, didn’t.

The book of John paints a beautiful portrait of Jesus, the God-man. We learn that Jesus is very embodiment of who God is and is an exact imprint of God the father(John 1:188:58) If we want to know God, see God, understand God, and be in relationship with God, we look to Jesus. Jesus says that he does only what the father tells him to (John 5:19) If that is true, which I believe it is, then John 8 shows us an amazing picture of who God is. For those who read the old testament and see an angry evil God, you might want to read John 8 and repent of those false ideas.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” John 8:3-11

Up to this point, Jesus had been doing miracles and and making some big claims. The religious leaders of the day had taken offense at almost everything that he taught and stood for. They first began persecuting him after he had healed on the sabbath(John 5:15) They did not like the way he did his ministry, or the fact that he refused to follow their religious, hypocritical, strict, and despairing, man made laws outside of the law. He continues to butt heads with them over his teachings and his work. He is shocking, radical and ruthless to them but gentle, kind, and compassionate to the lowly.

We enter the scene to the religious leaders of the day, trying once again to trap Jesus. The Jewish law demanded the execution of this women(Deut 21:22), but Rome has removed capital jurisdiction from Jewish courts, except for temple violations therefore the Jewish leaders test weather Jesus will reject the law, compromising his patriotic Jewish following, or reject Roman rule, which will allow them to accuse him to Rome. The law also demanded that the man be executed as well, but where is the man? He is no where to be found (do you see the hypocrisy and corruptness in this?) So what is he going to do? Will he support the stoning of the woman and reject Roman rule, or will he reject the stoning and therefore reject the law? It is interesting how he responds “Let him who has no sin throw the first stone”. Who steps up to the plate? No one. Jesus writes something in the sand(something probably really offensive), and they leave.

Once the accusers of the adulterous women left, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Depart. From now on, sin no more.” Jesus was sinless, and Jesus was God. In every way this woman’s sin deserved wrath and stoning. It was an offense to God himself. The only person who could throw the  stone didn’t. Notice what he didn’t say.“if you go and sin no more, then neither will I condemn you.” But Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” The command is not a condition. “Neither do I condemn you” is unconditional, it comes with no strings attached. Jesus motivates her to be harsh with sin, not with the law as her fuel, but with the Gospel. The reason she should not sin, is because God has not condemned her and thrown the rock, but forgiven her and given her grace. Her obedience doesn’t come from the condition that if she obeys he wont throw the rock, but because he didn’t throw the rock, she should obey.

This is an amazing picture of the Gospel and if we believe it, it will radically change and mess us up to the core. Christian, the only one who could have thrown the rock, didn’t. Don’t obey God so that he wont throw the rock, we obey him because he has not thrown the rock. Want to know what God is like? Look to Jesus.

The only one who could have thrown the stone, didn't.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Love.

When asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40)

This is what God wants for and from us but I think that if we are honest with ourselves, our natural tendency is to love our self more then anything or anyone else. When left on our own, we cannot keep this command. It doesn’t offer life because when we try to love God with our own strength and devoid of the gospel we do so in a legalistic religious way. It doesn’t give life as it was meant to, but condemnation. The book of 1 John paints a beautiful picture of what it actually this looks like. We learn that not only is loving God and neighbor a command but also so much more.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us 1 John 3:16
Love is the root of the gospel. It was love that moved the Son to offer himself as our sacrifice. Because of the wicked, corrupt, and depraved effects of sin in our lives,  we would never choose God or move towards him. While we were still sinners, still in rebellion, still willingly rejecting and denying him, he died for us. This goes against the pity definition of love that we as a society has created. Its radical, ruthless, shocking, scandalous and completely counter intuitive to the human heart. This is what love is. God defines it but he doesn’t stop there, he actually fulfills it and shows us what it looks like. Love is not passive, but it is also active.

We love because he first loved us 1 John 4:19
Love is the fruit of the gospel. Out of an understanding of this great love that he has for us, only then can we be fueled to love others in the same way. In understanding that in our worst, God have us his best can we be motivated to serve and love others in a way that is unconditional and selfless. Only in understanding that he died in our place for our sin, can we truly live this out, That means servings, investing, building up each other in a way that is completely selfless. Its about giving without expecting anything back.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Not Faith + Works but Faith that Works.

The book of James practically and faithfully reminds Christians how to live authentically and wisely for Christ. In its five small chapters, It has over fifty commands.

Luther wants called the book of James an “epistle of straw”. He did not like the book of James when he first read it because in his opinion there was too much emphasize on works and not enough emphasis on what Jesus has already done. He thought it was devoid of the gospel but he eventually saw that he indeed was mistaken.

Like Luther, we often have this response also. At first read it may appear that James’ view on faith is contradictory to Paul’s, but with careful study, it is clear that they the spiritual fruit that James talks about simply demonstrates the true faith of which Paul wrote. Their writings are not  contradictory but rather complementary.

God wants us to be free. That is why Jesus came. When reading through James we must be careful how we read it so that we do not mis read it and miss what James has to say and offer us.
The gospel is the foundation on which we are to understand the book of James and the bible. If we do not understand the gospel, everything we learn will turn us into self-righteous pharisees which will eventually lead us to pride, or despair. We will either become a legalistic pharisee or we will become gospel soaked lovers of Jesus.

There are two ways to approach James. (And notice the verb tenses.)We can either approach James with the mindset that:

I’m obligated to live this way so that God will love me.
or
I’m free to live this way because God has already loved me.

You are either motivated by legalism to obedience or you are fueled by the gospel to obedience. Thats it, there is no in between.

I’m obligated to live this way so that God will love me.
Unfortunately in many churches today, the Gospel of Christ is assumed and we are taught morality and ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do that’. We are taught a moralistic therapeutic deism, where we try harder to be better, and told to pick ourselves up from our bootstraps, Jesus is our life coach and moral example, and guide to a healthy, good works, moral and happy life. We leave the sunday morning motivated to try harder, and to perform better. Therefore when we approach God our mindset becomes ‘I do good things IN ORDER to gain Gods love and favor.’ So we work really really hard, to be moral and good people, so that God will bless us. The result is we either do well in our performance, and then are puffed up with pride, or we are defeated, and we fall into despair. This is how it works. When things crash and the world hits us, we question Gods goodness and character entirely based on our misunderstandings and poor interpretations. We let our circumstances dictate our passion. This leads to guilt-driven obedience. It is a life of shame, and condemnation. We see the gospel as “Do” and use our good works as a means to salvation. The common interpretation of James is Faith + Works = Salvation. This is wrong.

I’m free to live this way because God has already loved me.
But if we interpret the book of James through the lens of the Gospel we learn the Its not Faith + Works but rather Faith that Works.The gospel says that I do good things because God has already loved me. God came in Jesus through the Gospel not to just set non-Christians free from the penalty of sin, but to set Christians free from the power of sin. The Gospel is our motivation in our obedience to God. We don’t do good works in order to gain his love and acceptance, but we do good works because Christ has already gained infinite love and acceptance on our behalf. We are free to be harsh with sin because we know the cost that Jesus, our savior (not our life coach) paid. We understand our wretched, wicked and corrupt state and that God has done something in Christ to save us. We understand that Christ has done something totally radical, and counter intuitive to every performance driven impulse of our heart. He has actually done the work. It is finished. Therefore good works are not a means to salvation, good works are the fruit of salvation. In a thankful and appreciation to what he has done, we respond. Those who have saving faith, have been given a new heart, and are being regenerated into the likeness of Christ. It is impossible to have saving faith and not do good works. That what James means when he says “faith without works is dead” he isn’t saying that Faith + Works. He is saying Faith that Works. Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone.

When we read the bible it must be interpreted through the lens of the Gospel because believe it or not, the bible is not about you. Its about Jesus.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Passing the Torch. From one Gman to another.

2 Timothy is the most personal, intimate, emotional, and pastoral book I have yet to study here at ESBS. Before dying, Paul writes 2 Timothy to express his deep affection for his faithful friend and to ensure that his ministry would continue after his death by younger Christians, who would pass the torch from one Gospel man to another.

Timothy is likely the last letter that Paul penned and may have been written only days before he was murdered by beheading at the hands of the Emperor Nero in 68 AD. As he sits alone in his dark, filthy, roman cell, scarred by beatings and persecution, not complaining nor questioning Gods goodness or faithfulness but rather with his head up high determined and confident that he will soon be in Glory, face to face with his Savior and great King Jesus.

Paul has served faithfully as an apostle, he has been ship wrecked, stoned, flogged, harassed, and beaten. He has run the race, he has fought the good fight, he has been faithful and he will soon be in glory.
Paul is about to pass the torch to the next generation of Christian leadership and It is interesting what Paul wants Timothy to understand and accept at this defining moment.
What does biblical leadership look like?
His Instructions:

“Preach the Word in season and out of season” 2 Tim 4:2
Be faithful to the word of God and preach the bible for what it says, not for what you want it to say. Make it sound as good as it really is. The Bible says some radical, offensive, ruthless, shocking things that offend every self righteous, performance driven, post-modern, rebellious impulse of our hearts. People do not want to hear truth but would rather have their itching ears satisfied and wander off into myths. Hold firm to the word, be faithful in times of fruit, and in times of drought. Do not relent. Preach without apology. Do not be silent. They chopped off Paul’s head, stone stephen and crucified Christ because it was the only way to silence them.

“Remember Jesus” 2 Tim 2:8
The bible is about Jesus. Tell people about Jesus. Tell them of his goodness, of his character and his radical grace. Tell them that they are sinners in need of a savior. Tell them that he is a good and forgiving God. Tell tell about the good news that God has done something in Christ to Save wicked, wretched sinners like them. Warn them about Hell, and paint a beautiful image of what Heaven will be like. Inspire them to Love Jesus. Herald. Proclaim. Announce.

“Fulfill your ministry” 2 Tim 4:5
You have YOUR own calling from God. This is not someone elses ministry this is your ministry. If God wanted someone else, he would have picked someone else. It is important and good to learn from others, but not to duplicate their ministry. You are who you are, by the eternal love of God. Offer yourself to God, and reach for YOUR destiny. You are approved and qualified by God.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Do we see Him?


Do we see him?

Ricky: "Dear Lord Baby Jesus, or as our brothers in the South call you: 'Jee-suz'. We thank you so much for this bountiful harvest of Dominos, KFC, and the always delicious...Dear Lord Baby Jesus, we also thank you for my wife's father Chip. We hope that you can use your Baby Jesus powers to heal him and his horrible leg. It smells terrible and the dogs are always botherin' with it. Dear Tiny Infant Jesus..."

Ricky: "Dear Tiny Jesus, in your golden fleece diapers with your tiny, little fat balled up fists...Look, I like the baby version the best, do you hear me? I win the races and I get the money.... "Dear Eight Pound, Six Ounce, Newborn Baby Jesus, don't even know a word yet, just a little infant, so cuddly, but still omnipotent.....”

the script below was taken from a famous dinner scene from the movie Talledega Knights; the ballad of Ricky Bobby.

When I first saw this specific scene I was filled with all different kinds of emotions.
First, It was a funny, so I was filled with laughter.

But the more I chewed on it the more I was filled with a sadness, anger and drive. I was filled with these emotions because, this mindset isn’t a far cry from the one that our era has today.

I think if you are honest with yourself, you would agree with me also. You would agree that this is indeed a familiar mindset that many people have whether they admit it or not. The reason for this mindset, is that in reality we like this Jesus best. We tend to only see the baby Jesus and never move past it. Why? this baby Jesus is safe. He is not a threat. He isn’t offensive, radical, or ruthless but cuddly, cute, soft, fun, harmless, safe, you can pick him up and rock him to sleep, you can pick him up and take him where ever you want. Who doesn’t like babies?

No one would every say this or admit this but in our minds, in the way we live life out, in the way we approach God, we can in fact have a Ricky bobby, baby Jesus mentality. A cute baby, who gets us good things, makes us feel nice feelings, or get us out of hell.

Do we see him?

In The book of Colossians we are forced to see a glorious and accurate portrait of who Jesus really is. We see a portrait that is radically different then the “Christmas baby Jesus”. We see a Jesus who has authority. A Jesus who is King.

He is the very picture of God, The invisible God becomes visible. (1:15) At one point we could not know, see, or be in relationship with God. People could know of him, but they couldn’t actually know him in a real relational way. Through Jesus we now can. Jesus is God revealed to us. If we want to know his character, look to Jesus. If we want to know his will, look to Jesus. If we want to know his emotions, we look to Jesus.

He is he both the cause and the source of creation. There is nothing that exists without him. He is the ground for reason.He is the very point of everything. It is all about Jesus(1:16, John 1:3)
He is the Head of the church. The Senior Pastor. He calls the shots. Our authority must reside in Him, we must be submissive to Him, organize our leadership around align our mission to him. He is not functional figure head, rather then the Pastor in which all other pastors yield to in leadership. It is all about Jesus, if it isn't, we have a problem.(1:17).
He is the fullness of God (1:19) Jesus is the fullness of The Old Testament God. He isn’t a new God, he isn’t a more ‘chill’ God, or ‘more loving’ God. He is the One true God.

The same God who:
made all of the world in 6 days,
afflicted the Egyptians with plagues,
parted the Red Sea and provided the Israelites travel on dry land while being pursued by the Egyptians,
was a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night,
sent manna down from heaven,
water from a rock,
made the sun stand still,
rose up judges,
commands the ground to open and swallow rebells,
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

Do we see the baby Jesus, or the Jesus:
- that tells the wind and waves to shut up and they do because the authority that he has in his voice.
The Jesus who is the sustainer of everything and when he speaks things happen.
The Jesus who flips tables in the temple,
picks fights with the pious religious teachers who would not accept his message.
who is Glorious,
who is Perfect,
who is Holy,
who is Just and Supreme,
who is King of Kings,
who is Lord of Lords,
who Deserves nothing less than eternal glory and everlasting worship.
The Jesus who wrapped himself in the flesh, ate with us, did life with us then we striped him naked and crucified him, nailed him to a tree because we refused him as God.
The Jesus who on the cross he Paid our debt in full, took our sin and shame and gave us his righteousness,then sealed us with the Holy Spirit and made us his own.
 Do we see him?

Yes, the baby Jesus scene is important, and it paints a glorious picture of his humanity, and humility. It speaks incredibly about his love and his nature and character. But He did not stay there. He grew up, discipled, then he went to the cross, rose three days later and is now sitting at the right hand of God in glory. Sin, Satan, Death and Hell Defeated.


Do we see him?

Baby Jesus isn’t going to get you through this year.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Way Of The Gospel.




We live live in a culture that values self reliance, and performance. If  One is going to succeed in life, and accomplish things they need to be the smartest, the biggest, and the best. They need to be strong and able to out-perform the rest. In the bible, but more specifically 2nd Corinthians we see that the way of the Gospel takes our lust for power and significance and turns it upside down.

The way we see Paul live is irrational, and inverted to societies thinking. His ministry is not flashy, eloquent,  or comfortable, but simple, straight forward and irrational to everything we know and expect. Paul embodies the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and the religious, pious false teachers do not like and will not accept the crux of his message; a defeated savior.

What does it mean to live a cross centered life? Paul has some radical things to say.
Acknowledge your frailty to God. Look to the Savior. He embraced the weakness of the cross so that you and I, weak moral sinners, can experience the blood-bought power of God.

What is your strength (that thing you rest on ) charm, intelligence, charisma, humor? Cross centered living means we do not ignore our weakness, but lean into them.
why? because we know, “When I am weak I am strong” because God will reveal his power

So, let’s boast in our weakness instead of our self-righteousness and strength. This is obviously folly and nonsense to the world, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How Big is your God?

Unconditional Election. Predestination. 
When you read or hear these words how do they make you feel? do they make you feel:
- uneasy?
- awkward?
- angry? 

- confused?
- uncomfortable?


Why do you feel those feelings?
Is it because these ideas don’t fit into the tiny theological box that you’ve put God in? Is it because you think that God wouldn’t do something that you wouldn’t do? Or maybe God would not think or act in a way in which you do not think or act?

Do we ever think that maybe the creators plans are more developed then our own and that maybe his nature and character is perfect and it is us who is flawed? So often we put Gods actions into our reasoning. We tend to put God into a box and are tempted to only believe the things the we can understand or comprehend. The things that we don’t understand or do not like; we get rid of. 


For many of us, our God is too small. Our tendency is to make him reflection of who we are and what we understand rather than us being a reflection of him. We can come to places that tell us things about God that go way beyond what we can understand or comprehend, and instead of accepting things by faith and believing them despite whether these things are true about God, we tend to dismiss them, sweep them or under the rug, or get rid of them in our minds altogether.

There are things about God that we will never understand because God is God and we are not, God is big, we are small. God is infinite we are finite. God is knowable and we don’t have to guess who he is, because he has showed us. What we do know about God is true and real as long as it corresponds with the scriptures. What we know is true, but it is only partial. How can it be that God has ordained everything and yet we are not robots?- this is a good question and we may never know. Scripture tells us things about God that are gloriously true but way beyond our ability to understand. If we don’t dismiss them but wrestle and take God at his word, we will grow and mature. 

The book of Romans, paint a depressing, and sad portrait of the condition and depravity of humanity. One does not have to read far into the first chapter before learning that  humans are so spiritually corrupt, prideful, rebellious and wretched that we would never choose God (Rom.1:21,3:9-10, Psalm 14:1,3) In fact, not only would we never chose him, we actually actively reject him. (1:21,32)

Further more, we also have the audacity to take God and put him on trial (1:28) We decide that this is not the kind of God we want, we reject him as God, do not see him fit to be worshipped, in so turn and worship the creature, rather than the creator thus God gives humanity over to its rebellion and he lets humanity to worship, pursue and obtain the very things that lead to destruction (1:18-32) Because we are in rebellion, everything we do is sin, good works and bad works alike (Rom.14:23) Our inability to submit to God or make changes to ourselves is total, and we are therefore totally deserving of eternal punishment. If God waited for us to seek after him, the point is that he would be still waiting. Naturally we run from him. And if God waited for us to move towards him, we would have no hope at all. We are Dead.(Ephesians 2:4–5) Blind. (2 Cor 4:4) Hopeless people. Every single person.(1:20) Period.

But along with being perfect, holy and just God is also compassionate and loving. So before the world ever existed, before there were stars, a moon, the sky, before their were grass and goats. There was God. In that moment, God had you in mind and, in His unfathomable, electing, shocking, ruthless, scandalous and unconditional love, He decided to redeem you in Jesus Christ. He really did. He chose to save you (Ephesians 1:3) His love for you is eternal and not based any merit. God chose you to be his child before the foundation of the world, despite you.(Romans 8:29-30, 9:11, 11:5-7, Ephesians 1:4-6) While you were still dead in your trespasses(Romans 5:8. Ephesians 2:4-5) spitting in his face, jamming nails into his wrists, thorns into his head, he did something shocking. God took you, his will overrode your will, he gave you faith, HE saved you, HE embraced you, and HE accepted you. Then he substituted your cold dead heart with a new and regenerated heart and then sealed you with the Holy Spirit. Because God is faithful to complete the work he began; he promised to sustain you, and to hold you back from sin that leads to death. You are you eternally secure (Ephesians 1:13, 2Corinthians 1:22, 5:5)



‘Wait Chance you mean to tell me that God unconditionally elects?’

How dare he:
- trade me his righteousness for my sin
- come uninvited into my life.

- force his will to over ride my will.

- make a choice.

- give me something I don't deserve(grace)
- not give me what I do deserve (wrath)

How dare he:

- he save me.

- give me faith.
- secure me.
- give me a new heart.
- a new mind.
- a new path.

(sound ridiculous?)

praise God.



How does this fit into the post modern thinking in which you are saturated in?
is this offensive? 

Well, you or I do not get to comment on how God saves. He is God, we are not. We are just pieces of clay, trying to tell other pieces of clay, about who the potter is. His thoughts are not like our thoughts and his ways are not like our ways(Isa 55:8) 


The Doctrine of Unconditional Election is a comforting doctrine. In understanding that God saves sinners, and sinners don save themselves, it frees us to approach evangelism with confidence and boldness. It assures us of our eternal security. God Loved you before you did anything good or bad, and you can be confident that he loves you after.

The Doctrine of Election isn’t a topic to be debated, but embraced and bring overflowing passion and worship to our Sovereign, omnipotent God. It should challenge us to be Christians;
"Radical, full-blooded, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, God-centered, mission-advancing, soul-winning, church-loving, holiness-pursing, sovereignty-savoring, grace-besotted, broken-hearted, happy followers of the omnipotent, crucified Christ. At least that’s our imperfect commitment.’’- John Piper



Well how do I know if I am elect?

Do you hate sin and love Jesus and been giving a regenerated heart by the Holy Spirit?
Then you are elect.



Unconditional Election. Predestination. 

When you read or hear these words how do they make you feel? How about:

- thankful?
- humbled?
- excited?
- passionate?
- worshipful?
- assured?
- comforted?

How big is your God?






Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Future Chance;

You have committed to dedicating the rest of your life to loving and serving one woman. That is a high calling. What an honor.

I’ve decided to write this letter to remind you of something important. Something that by the grace of God you have not forgotten, something I hope you have not dismissed  or moved beyond, something I pray you have held fast to. It is something that radically has changed your life, something that you are addicted too, something that excited and fuels you, something that runs through your veins; that something is the Gospel.

I want to remind you that despite what you think, you are still a sinner saved by Gods grace. That has not changed, and it never will. I want to remind you that there is nothing impressive about you. To the core you are a wicked sinner, and rebel who’s hands have murdered the author of time.  I want to remember everything that your Savior has done for you. While you were still spitting in his face, and ripping skin of his back and legs, jamming a crown of thorns in his skull, nailing his wrists and feet to a tree, he pursued you, he loved you, he gave himself up for you. Jesus lived the life you could not live, he died the death should have died, and he gives the gift that you can not earn; grace. He did not do it because anything you do, not your good deeds, or your bad deeds, but because of his compassionate, holy, and unconditional sacrificial love. In your worst, he gave you his best.

I wanted to remind you of this, because in order to have a healthy marriage, you must be saturated in this. You can not possibly love her the way she ought to be loved if you have moved past the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. This needs to fuel you. Only then can you come home after a long day of work and give her your undivided attention, only then can you turn off the t.v and do the dishes, take the garbage out, spend time with her, listen to her, invest in her, love her and pursue her even when she is being selfish, stubborn, unfair, or even sinning against you . In his worst, he gave you his best.

I remind you of the Gospel  and in light of it I command you to sacrifice your life, for hers. Christ commands husbands to love their life like Christ loves the church.
How is that going Chance?
Are you loving her like Christ loves the church? Are you serving her selflessly? unconditionally? whole heartedly? Have you given your life for her? Have you given yourself up for her that she you might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word? are you patient with her are you kind? or are you envious, rude or arrogant towards her? are you irritable or resentful? do you rejoice at her wrong doing? have you become a coward like your father Adam? If so, shame on you from cowering from your responsibility to lead the family well. Shame on you for not giving your best.

Does this anger you? Whom am I to call you out on this? Im a single 20 year old past you, who does not know the first thing about women. Im like a dog chasing a fire truck aren’t I? I would not even know what to do if I caught it.



Ask me if I care.
If for some reason you’ve fell away from your responsibly of leading well, its time to put your pants on and repent of your stupidity and childlike behavior, become a man and give up your childish ways.

I pray and hope that you have stayed faithful and expect by the grace of God, you will. Keep loving well, stay rooted in his grace, and love that women well. Love endures all things...  SO endure for the sake of the promise and remember that in your worst, He gave you his best.
Lead well.

With much love from ESBS 2011
 20 year old Chance.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Christian; put some pants on and get a job.

What would you do if you ‘knew’ how long you had to live? How would you live your life? Think about it, because what you believe about the future, dictates how you live today.

Harold camping. 9/11. y2k. 2012. I am Legend, and the list goes on.
Our society is obsessed with end times. We can not get enough of it. There is something about it that is mysterious and exciting. From the beginning of church history to now, there are men and women who are sure that the end is here and the world will end in their lifetime. Each one of these people have something in common; they are wrong.

The secular world is obsessed with it, so they make movies and write books.
The church people are obsessed with it, so they make charts, and billboards because they read a unclear verse out of context, they make predictions.

In the world of the 1st century Christians in Thessalonica, the same obsession is common. The Thessalonians are so obsessed to when the 2nd coming of Jesus they forget about the present they are in.

They are so are sure that the return is in their lifetimes, they quit their jobs, and start having a lot of sex out side of covenant relationship. They get trapped in the idea that the spiritual and the physical share no commonality. What they believe about the future dictates how they live in the present. The problem is they have a poor understanding of what is to come and a false understanding of what it means to be spiritual.

In the Letter to the Thessalonians, Paul addresses this mindset. He explains to them that the spiritual and physical do have a commonality, in fact they are one in the same. The Thessalonians do not work because they  assume that the physical does not matter because Jesus is coming back ASAP. They start having a ton of sex with one another, because their mindset is that it is just physical and it does not effect them spiritually. Paul radically turns this mindset upside down.

One of the most spiritual things one can do, is work.
One of the most spiritual things one can do, is love their neighbor
One of the most spiritual thing one can do, is be pure with their body.

Thessalonians is not written TO us, the people in the 21st century. It is however written FOR us. It is amazing how a book written 2000 years ago, still speaks into our culture and society today.  Jesus is coming back, that is for sure. When? Well no body knows, but that should not motivate us to drop responsibilities.

It should challenged and fuel us to live in the now, in light of who Jesus is and what he as done.

It should motivate us to love on people, like Jesus loves on us, it should encourage us to fight for purity, and embrace sanctification.

It should break down the walls of living for the future and over spiritualizing everything and encourage us to put some pants on, get a job, and be faithful to what God has given us.




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Monster.

Galatians.
I hate going to the dentist. I hate going to the dentist, because I know when I get there my dentist is going to ask me that one question. “ how is your flossing going” and I know I am going to have to look at him and reluctantly say something like “well….uhm… its going ok….i’m trying” and then admit that I haven’t been doing as well I should be, and then he will give me the look of judgement. He will give me the evil eye.

I hate going to the dentist because I feel like my relationship with him is entirely determined by my performance to him. I will either leave the dentist full of pride because I did well in my flossing, or leave in despair because I realize I don’t do as well as I could.

It is amazing how in the  similar way in which I view my dentist, many people view God.

Everything inside of the human heart strives to measure up, to perform, to succeed, and to be accepted. Everything inside of the human heart drives us to try to earn our way. The harder one tries, the better one will become, the harder on performs and measures up, the more acceptance one will achieve. This idea often carries into our relationship with God. We try to earn his acceptance. We try hard to obey the rules, serve, and be good people, in order to be accepted. It is called self righteousness and it is a monster. Its the biggest and yet most subtle heresy in the church today.

The Monster says I obey therefore I am accepted. The idea being if one tries hard enough to follow the Law and Prophets and, by worldly standards, does a good job, God will love them. If one does all the right things, works hard and performs well when its necessary, God is happy with them and they may go to heaven. To get closer to God one must obey as many rules as possible.

The Monster is about becoming better on the outside; at the heart of it, all The Monster is concerned with is making himself the savior of his own life. Following the rules set out by God, he becomes proud of his own actions and not joyful in God’s. And as pride rules the heart so does contempt for those who are deemed less worthy by prideful people.
But
The Gospel Man says that I am accepted therefore I obey. Through Christ, God is infinitely happy and accepting towards me. Through Christ I have gained His acceptance, His love, and His approval. I no longer work in order to gain his approval, but out of loving response to grace I will work hard. God is a father who looks at his kids; a father who loves me, in spite of who I was. God does not love me so that I will obey, but loves me so that I can obey. His relationship with the father doesn’t depend on his obedience to him, but Christ’s obedience to him on his behalf because he never could. Out of that thankfulness and relationship with Christ comes the fruit and obedience, motivated and fueled by grace and love rather than duty and obligation.

The Gospel Man says that there are only bad people, who are either repentant or unrepentant. Since are all born into sin, all are sinners, all are bad, all are rebels, and enemies of God. So when Gods see him, he doesn’t see bad or good, he sees unrepentant or repentant; Dead or alive; he sees bad and he sees Jesus. Period.

The Gospel man recognizes his unworthiness.

The Gospel man is repentant and understands the message of the Gospel. He understands that he indeed is bad, sinful, unclean and in need of the mercy and grace of God and when confronted by God’s law, can’t help but cry out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death”

The law shows us that our best is never good enough. It is as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 54:6) It reveals how quick we are to run from God but the gospel reveals how quick God is to run after us. The bad news is that we are more wicked then we could ever know or fear but the Good news is that in Christ we are far more loved and valuable then we could ever hope or have imagined.

If you are a Gospel Man, you are right now under the completely sufficient righteousness of Christ. In the courtroom of heaven God the judge has examined your case & declared you totally innocent in his eyes. Your pardon is full and final. In Christ, you’re forgiven. You’re clean. It is finished.The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. You’re in.forever.  Nothing you do will make your position better and nothing you do will make your position worse. you’ve been set free.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Acts.


    God is sovereign; meaning that he is in control of everything and has a plan. When he does one thing, he is doing a million things. Whether he is doing miracles or whether he there is suffering God ultimately has a plan and is in control of the situation.
     In Acts we see both miracles and suffering which are used by God for God. After the healing of Aeneas (Acts 9:32-35) it says “all the residents ...turned to the lord”,  and after the healing of Dorca “ it became know throughout Joppa and many believed in the Lord” God is using these miracles not only to heal individually but also corporately.
    After the stoning of Stephen(Acts 7:54-60) there was a persecution against the church in Jerusalem and the church scatters (Acts 8:1) God uses this persecution to spread the Gospel outside of Jerusalem.Likewise After Ananias and Sapphira’s death, great fear comes upon all who hear (Acts 5:5,11) which leads to the church being held in high esteem (Acts 5:13). Furthermore, Peter and Johns arrest leads to the strengthening of the church in Acts 4:24, 31
    The reality is that we live in a fallen, broken world  that is corrupted by sin and we should expect suffering. Fortunately we have a loving, sovereign God who works out all things for good (Rom 8:28) Though he has freed us from the penalty of sin, and is from the power of sin, we are not yet freed  from the presence of sin but one day we will be.
    When I read the book of Acts I see that there are in fact good times and bad times but I also have a loving God who is in fact with me(Acts 18:10) and in control. Those who call themselves Christians should expect suffering and can be content in every situation, because as Paul says in Philippians 4:13 “ I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength”

Grace changes everything.

    A true taste of Jesus, changes everything. A picture of his scandalous, radical, undeserving, irresistible grace will take persecutors and make them preachers, will take cowards and make them courageous, will take dead people, and make them alive. Jesus’ changes everything and in the Acts of the Apostles we see that those who know Jesus and his Gospel, can not help but to tell everyone about it. Those who love Jesus, share him with the world; at any cost.

 As people who have been radically effected and touched by Jesus, should the church not want to tell everyone about him?

 We motivate people to be missional by teaching, preaching, and reminding Christians of who Jesus is and all that he has done. That he was missional first. He pursued us, loved us, died for us, and gave us something we could never get on our own; Grace. Not only should the life of Jesus challenge us to be missional, it should fuel us.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Jesus; a glutton and drunkard.

In the book of Luke we  discover a Jesus who is shocking, radical, counter cultural, and offensive. We see a Jesus who loves to party with prostitutes(Luke 13:1-17) and the outcasts of the society. The tax collectors and ‘sinners’ love him, the lepers love him, the widows love him, While the pious, religious, well behaved moral people take offense to him(Luke 11:45) and can not relate to what he was about; the outrageous, scandalous grace of God.

In reading the book of Luke, one can not help but to notice how he interacts with the social outcasts of the day. Instead of looking down upon them, rejecting them, despising them, he shares a meal with them. He offers them grace.

What is the Son of Man doing when he comes to earth? The Jews expected him to come  defeating God’s enemies and vindicating his people but instead he shares a meal with the lowly.  God comes to earth and he shares a meal with his enemies. The leaders respond by calling him a glutton and a drunkard(Luke 7:34), while the ‘sinners’ respond by sitting at his feet(Luke 7:38)

The ones who considered themselves good with God, seem to be furthest away from him, while those who were considered the furthest from him, are joining in intimacy with him. This is a game changer.

Jesus meets broken people where they are at, interacts with them, and then he turns them into worshipers. He speaks into their situation and their life is forever changed and he doesn’t care about the cultural norm. He accepts them, forgives them, and joins into relationship with them, as it was always meant to be.

God has sat down and eaten with sinners. When he sat down with Levi, he was sitting down with me. Despite my uncleanliness, my sin, my past, the baggage that I have. Despite all my good works, and all of my bad works,  Jesus has offered me relationship. He offers to meet me where I am at. I  come as I am, join relationship with him and have forever been changed. I do not obey, in order gain acceptance from him but because I am accepted I will obey.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Philippians; following our humble King Jesus.


The book of Philippians is about serving in humility. A virtue that is counter intuitive to every performance driven impulse of our heart. Paul makes some big game changing statements that go against everything the Philippians knew.

" In humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you not look to your own interests but the interests of others." (Philippians 2:3-4)

the word humility is defined (Word Study Dictionary) as

"the sinners confession of his sin and deep realization of his unworthiness to receive Gods marvelous grace"

The only way for me to truly serve unconditionally, and selflessly is to understand that I have been loved and served unconditionally, by the only true one worthy of being served; that is Jesus.  In a overflow of thankfulness, I will serve and love on other people, because I realize that I am just as jacked up as my neighbor.

sin is deep. his grace is deeper.







Monday, August 22, 2011

Camp Lurecrest

 Dorms and laundry room.
 Dorms

 Kitchen.


 Office.
 Snack hut


Friday, August 19, 2011

Philemon; one down 65 to go.


Philemon is an amazing epistle. Taking only a page of the new testament; this book is gospel soaked. At first read, it is easy to read past the richness and fullness of what is actually happening.
The letter is Paul appealing to Philemon, in love, on behalf of Onesimus (a run away slave  that has wronged Philemon), who Paul converted while in prison. He asked to free him from debt and accept as a brother. The implications of this is huge. Unfortunately everything I can and want to say, would take up way too much time and space. Excited to get into Philippians on Monday.





Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hello North Carolina.

After  13 hours of commuting, Rylan and I have made it to Lake Lure North Carolina where we will be residing for the next ten months.  I am looking forward to this next season of life. Tomorrow classes begin and we dig into the word.








 Augers Workspace.
My Workspace.
Lecture Hall.




Fall Break - October 12-16, 2011
Thanksgiving - November, 23-27, 2011
Christmas - December 16, 2011 – January 2, 2012
Spring Recess - March 4-12, 2012
Easter Break - April 6-8, 2012
Graduation - June 2, 2012 (move out day is June 4)
207 Charlotte Dr, Lake Lure, NC 28746, US

Monday, July 25, 2011

God of Peace.

Third sermon preached at the Gathering.
Judges 6:1-24


click here to listen

Thursday, July 21, 2011

90 day bible reading plan (Chronological order)

Dear Adam, Jason, Jennifer and Orlando:
I've created a chart for you that will help keep track exactly where you should be at in your commitment to reading the bible in three months. Because you are reading it in Chronological order, it does jump back and forth at different parts and can be confusing at times. I hope this helps you in your reading. Each section is broken into days.  Today is your 21st day of reading so go to #21 to find out what exactly needs to be read by the end of the day. This should also help if and when you fall behind.
Keep pressing through. Only 69 more days left.


   1.    Gen 1-13
   2.    Gen 14-22, Job 1-4
   3.    Job 5-17
   4.    Job 18-30
   5.    Job 31-42, Gen 23
   6.    Gen 24-36
   7.    Gen 37-49,
   8.    Gen 50, Exodus 1-12
   9.    Exodus 13-25
   10.  Exodus 26-38
   11.  Exodus 39,40,Psalm 91, Lev 1-10
   12.  Lev 11- 23
   13.  Lev 24-27, Num 1-9
   14.  Num 10-22
   15.  Num 23-35
   16.  Num 36,Deut 1-12
   17.  Deut  13-25
   18.  Deut 26-34, Psalm 91, Joshua 1-3
   19.  Joshua 4-16
   20.  Joshua 17-24, Judges 1-5
   21.  Judges 6-18
   22.  Judges 19-21, Ruth 1-4, 1Sam 1-6,
   23.  1Sam 7-16:13, Psalm 23, 1Sam 16:14-17
   24.  1Sam 17-19:11, Psalm 59, 1Sam 19:12- 21, Psalm 34,56,1Sam 22:1,2,Psalm        57,142,1Sam 22:3-, Psalm 52
   25.   1Sam 23, Psalm 54, 63, 1Sam 24-31, Psalm 30, 2Sam 8:1-14, Psalm 60,         2Sam 8:15-
   26.    2Sam 9-12:14, Psalm 51, 32, 2Sam 12:15 -15:37, Psalm 3, 69, 2Sam 16,17
   27.    2Sam 18-22, Psalm 18, 2Sam 23, 24, Psalm 4-8,
   28.    Psalm 9, 11-17, 19-22, 24
   29.    Psalm 25-29, 31, 35-41,
   30.    Psalm 53, 55, 58, 61, 62, 65, 68, 72, 86, 101, 103, 108-109
   31.    Psalm 110, 138-141, 143-145, 1Kings 1-4, Proverbs 1
   32.    Proverbs 2-14
   33.    Proverbs 15-27
   34.    Proverbs 28- 31, Song of Solomon 1- 8, 1Kings 5
   35.    1Kings 6-11, Ecclesiastes 1- 7
   36.    Ecclesiastes 8- 12, 1Kings 12-19
   37.    1Kings 20-22, 2Kings 1-10
   38.    2Kings 11-14:25, Jonah 1-4, 2Kings 14:26-, Amos 1-5
   39.    Amos 6-9,  2Kings 15-23
   40.    2Kings 24-25, Psalm 1,2,10,33,43,66,67,71,89, 92,93
   41.    Psalm 94-100, 102, 104-106, 111, 112
   42.    Psalm 112- 124
   43.    Psalm 125, 127-136, 146, 147
   44.    Psalm 148-150,  IChr 1-10
   45.    1Chr 11-16, Psalm 42, 44-49
   46.    Psalm 50, 73-84
   47.    Psalm 85, 87,88, 1Chr 17-26
   48.    1Chr 27-29, 2Chr 1-10
   49.    2Chr 11-21, Obadiah 1, 2Chr 23
   50.    2Chr 24-26:8, Isaiah 1-5, 2Chr 26:9- 26:23, Isaiah 6, 2Chr 27-30
   51.    2Chr 30-32, Isaiah 7-16,
   52.    Isaiah 17-29
   53.    Isaiah 30-42
   54.    Isaiah 43-55
   55.    Isaiah 56-66, Hosea 1-2
   56.    Hosea 3-14, Micah 1
   57.    Micah 2-7, Nahum 1-3, 2Chr 33,34, Zephaniah 1,2
   58.    Zephaniah 3, 2Chr 35, Habakkuk 1-3, Jeremiah 1-6, 11, 12
   59.    Jeremiah 26, 7-10, 14-20, 35
   60.    Jeremiah 36, 45, 25, 46-49, 13, 22-24,27,28
   61.    Jeremiah 29, 50, 51, 30-33, 21, 34, 37-39, 52
   62.    Jeremiah 40-44, Lamentations 1-5, 2Chr 36:1-8, Daniel 1-3
   63.    Daniel 3-12, 2Chr 36:9-36:21, Psalm 137, Ezekiel 1,2
   64.    Ezekiel 3-15
   65.    Ezekiel 16-28
   66.    Ezekiel 29-41
   67.    Ezekiel 42-48, 2Chr 36:22,23, Ezra 1-5:1
   68.    Haggai 1-2, Zechariah 1-11
   69.    Zechariah 12-14, Psalm 107,126, Esther 1-8
   70.    Esther 9,10, Ezra 7-10, Nehemiah 1-7
   71.    Nehemiah 8-13, Malachi 1-4, Matt 1-3
   72.    Matt 4-16
   73.    Matt 17-28, Mark 1
   74.    Mark 2-14
   75.    Mark 15, 16,  Luke 1-11
   76.    Luke 12-24
   77.    John 1-13
   78.    John 14-21, Acts 1-5
   79.    Acts 6-14, James 1-4
   80.    James 5, Acts 15, Galatians 1-6, Acts 16, Philippians 1-4
   81.    Acts 17- 18:11. 1Cor 1-12
   82.    1Cor 13-16, 2Cor 1-9
   83.    2Cor 10-13, Acts 18:12-20:1, Ephesians 1-6, Romans 1
   84.    Romans 2-14
   85.    Romans 15, 16, Acts 20:2-28:30, Colossians 1,2
   86.    Colossians 3, 4, Hebrews 1-11
   87.    Hebrews 12, 13, Titus 1-3, Philemon 1, 1Tim 1-6, 2Tim 1
   88.    2Tim 2-4, 1Pet 1-5, 2Pet 1-3,  1John 1,2
   89.    2John 1, 3John 1, Jude 1, Revelation 1-10
   90.    Revelation 11-22


Friday, July 15, 2011

Emmaus School of Biblical Studies.


In one month. Rylan Auger and I head to Lake Lure, North Carolina to Emmaus School of Biblical Studies; a nine month program,which will require digging deep and inductively studying Gods word in its entirety

I am excited for this next season in life, and even more excited to be journeying it with a good friend and brother. It's going to be challenging, require a ton of discipline and study. Nonetheless we are excited and ready for this opportunity.

We just ordered sick genuine Leather ESV's. Before next June, these new bibles will be well read and well marked up. These will probably be the bibles we use for the rest of our lives.


below is a exert from our acceptance letters.

"...Know that you are coming to a gospel focussed community, meaning that we really do try to live life understanding that what Jesus did for us is WAY more important then what WE do for him. Good deeds are done BECAUSE of Gods love for us in CHRIST, and not to earn his love. That's the tone of our community, its the focus of our discipleship and it permeates the culture you are coming into.

The last thing I will mention by way of introduction to the program is this: The 9 month program is challenging and WILL REQUIRE COMMITMENT AND DISCIPLINE to keep studying. In some ways it is like turning a fire-hose full blast trying to take a sip. We are going to race through the entire bible in 9 months, which is a high bar to jump. Typically we see students studying a minimum of 6-8 hrs/day 6 days a week. That's a marathon, and not always easy, but SO worth it. Nonetheless it takes resolve, and a heart to press in and keep studying. in many ways its a year unlike any other year you'll ever experience, but the rewards for the hard work put in here pay dividends for a lifetime"


Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Adam, Jason, Jenn and Orlando; Hold fast and Endure for the sake of the promise.


To my brothers and sister in Christ; 
Adam Blanchfield, Jason Hunt, Jennifer Knight and Orlando Barrera,

Over a year ago, I was challenged to read the bible in its entirety in the short time of 90 days. I accepted and began to eat up the scriptures, reading relentlessly for hours  feasting on the word of God. As I read, His word started to become alive to me, in and through my life. Seventy days later, I had read the entire bible in chronological order; Genesis through to Revelation.  

I came away from that time a changed man; something significant happened: God had melted my cold, dead heart, given me a new regenerated heart and opened my eyes to see truth about His nature and character, the world, sin, His Son and of His Gospel. I realized that though I am more wicked and terrible then I could ever fear or know, God loves me more then I could ever hope or dream. I began to see the beauty of Christ.

It brings me joy that you also have begun your own journey. I am ecstatic that you are going to dedicate 90 days and commit to racing through to get the "big picture" of the most epic and beautiful story ever told; the Story of God.

I am excited to see and hear how God grows you in this next season of life.  I pray that God opens your heart for what he has for you. That he gives you a hunger and thirst for His word. I pray that he meets with you in a very real and transforming way.


This is WILL NOT be an easy task. It will require discipline and endurance.
There will be times when you are reading and just want to quit.There will be times where you just want to skip ahead, or procrastinate. There will be times that you will want to make up excuses to get out of your reading.
God has a gift for you. An infinitely valuable gift—his word. Receive it. Hold it fast. Give yourself to it.

Endure for the sake of the promise.

















Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dear Marie - Scripture (part one)

My first letter must be on Scripture. In part of our discussion you mentioned your hesitation to believe that scripture is truly Gods word, and that it is indeed inerrant. You said that there are many contradictions in the bible, and questioned the validity of it.  Before we go any further, this must be addressed. The reason it must be addressed is because if we don’t meet on the basis and agreement of God’s word, then we have no basis to agree for any of the other letters I will write.

First, you mentioned that it’s ok and if scripture isn’t completely god’s word because you just live to know, serve, and love Jesus and God. This statement alone is a very dangerous statement and actually is a contradictory statement or oxymoron. You can’t love God, know God, learn about God or be in relationship with God unless he has given us something in which teaches us how to love, serve know and be in relationship with him. You can’t know and love God unless having a foundation in which we know it to be true. If the bible is only partly God’s word and not entirely we cant be sure that we could ever even come close to knowing God.

Is it fair to say that if God is God who created everything he can do anything?

Is it fair to say, that if God is God who created all and can do all, that he can use his creation for his purposes? And if we are his creations can’t he use us to speak his truth?

Is it fair to say that if God is God then is he capable of giving us His word that is absolutely truthful and absolutely inerrant?

Is it fair to say that if God is God, who created all and wants to be in relationship with us, he would give us a means with which to know him?

Is it fair to say that if God is God, who created all and can do all and is the God who never changes, then would he not set a standard of knowing him that is equally unchanging?

…I hope so.

Before we dig into this together I want to set a few preliminary thoughts:

1. We have to agree on scriptures authority before we move any further. Though we cannot comprehend and understand every single thing in the bible that does not mean that it is not true. The bible tells us things about God that are gloriously true but way beyond our ability to understand.as we approach the bible, everything that we find has to be taken at face value, believe it because God has revealed it to be true and it’s in the bible, though we will never fully understand, we will be tempted to say I can’t embrace it or ill just dismiss it. If we don’t dismiss it but wrestle and take God at his word, we will grow and mature
2. We cannot put God in a box. God is God, and we are not. God is big, we are small. God is infinite,  we are finite, God is creator, we are creation. Though he is Knowable, we can never fully fathom and comprehend him.  Though God has broad shoulders and can more then handle our questions and concerns, I urge you not to Judge God.
3. I am going to do my best to try to prove to you evidence of scriptures authority, though the reality is that it is going to take some faith. Not blind faith, but faith none the less. One does not walk on the glass floor of the CN tower without first trusting that it is truthfully safe. However upon taking that step of faith one sees that what was claimed to be true is true. Though this analogy has its flaws and is not a perfect representation of scriptural truth. It serves the best that my huge head but tiny brain can come up with.

Here we go.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Marie.



I have decided to write a series of blog posts concerning the discussions we had the other night. These Blogs will be lengthy and very detailed and perhaps overwhelming at times. A few other brothers and friends of mine, who are equally committed to truth and the Gospel, have willingly agreed to aid me in writing these posts. 

As you read the posting please be reminded that I am not writing out of pride or arrogance, or because I want to voice my opinion. To be honest I don't care for opinions; mine or anyone else’s. I don't care about what people think or what people feel. I care only about truth. Jesus said "I am the truth"(jn14:6) Truth is important. Truth is foundational. If we don't have truth, we have nothing.
I am writing this out of love, truth and grace. I would not commit long hours to studying and writing if I did not love you. I do love you and I do care for you. You are my sister. I would die for you.  You are my friend. You are the very precious daughter of a very great king; who has died for you. Therefore I will commit very long hours to studying and to writing.

The discussions we had fill me with many different emotions. I am filled with sadness, anger and drive. I am sad because you do not have a clear picture of the nature and character of your maker. To be honest, your theology is distorted and this places you in danger of falling astray. In order to love, trust, hope and believe and be in proper relationship with Christ, we must have a correct understanding of his nature, character and of his gospel.

 I am filled with anger because it upsets me when truth is not taught. We live in a society where the Gospel and the Nature and Character of God, is assumed; therefore it is not taught because it is not known. Because of my love for Christ and for his people, it frustrates me that his nature and character, his gospel, and his word is not preached and taught accurately and truthfully.
 It also fills me with drive because I refuse to let it endure. I refuse to let my maker, my God, and my savior’s truth not be proclaimed. It fills me with drive because I refuse to just sit around and watch false and bad teaching continue. It drives me to truth. I refuse do anything less than helping my sister see and come to that truth. I could be a passive coward like my father Adam; were you not my sister and were it not that I love you. However, I have a true and better father, Christ, who is neither passive nor a coward, and he calls me to be in likeness of himself. Therefore if Christ is of truth and gave his life, that his truth might be proclaimed, I must tell you the truth, as is. Because I love Christ, I love truth, and I love you.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HUB.

Eight short months ago, I walked into the small, crowded residence of 251 Swanson ave. The flock in which for the next year I had the wonderful privilege to Sheppard.

My prayer and Vision for this Hub was that we could be:

-A place where, we could come as we are. Where ever we are at in life, that’s ok. It’s just not ok to stay where we are at.

-A place where relationships are formed, Community happens, and the crucified and risen Christ is glorified.
-A place where The Gospel is centered in all that we do. We never move beyond the Gospel; only get deeper into it.
-A place where we can live life together.  As brothers and as sisters in Christ.

-A place where we realize that we are more wicked and terrible than we could ever fear, Yet God loves us more then we could ever know.

... i'm confident to say I think we got it.

Lastnight, eight months later, we celebrated in community one last time before the Students went back home for the summer; some of them for a season and others for good. I am humbled, honored and blessed that I have been giving the opportunity to be a part of a community. A community which loves God deeply and passionately, a community of people whose lives I have seen radically transformed, a community that began small and has nearly tripled in size, a community which the Gospel of the Glory of Christ has taken root in so many lives. I thank God for this incredible year and all that he has done in this small community. I will miss serving and growing with these beautiful, Jesus saturated friends.

Roses.
Encouragement.
Laughter.
Tears.
Baptisms.
Growth.
Gospel.
Just a taste of what’s to come. Praise be to God.



Monday, April 11, 2011

The Gospel Coalition.

Five men who love the Gospel, One Civic, and ten hours later we are in Chicago Illinois. Jay Lehman, Jonny Ryttersgaard, Ben Pelts, Rylan Auger and myself. We are here for the the Gospel Coalition conference. Excited to see, hear and learn from faithful bible teachers who love God, and who love His Gospel.



http://thegospelcoalition.org/conferences/2011/

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Filthy rags are not helping.


Religion. The word itself brings about so many connotations of spirituality, theism, practices and freaky rituals. Not surprisingly today when people hear "religion" they say "No Thanks!" As Christians who proclaim the gospel of the Glory of Christ, we see and understand that Religion in fact both hinders our mission and places a distorted view on the Character and nature of God. The most devastating part is that religion is not just found in other spiritual practices outside the Christian faith but right in the midst of it. The truth is, that truth has not been revealed to all, and any view of the bible not centered on the grace-saving view of the gospel, is Religion.

 The Bible makes it clear that religion is an enemy and in opposition of the Gospel. The Pharisees were great examples of people who embodied this best. Throughout the life of Christ, it isn't hard to notice Jesus in constant opposition with the religious leaders. It seems that where ever Christ is, close behind him are the religious to oppose or counter his  message of grace and forgiveness (the Gospel) with self-righteousness and legalism (religion). Christ dealt with them more harshly than anyone one else calling them serpents (Matthew 12:34, 13:33) children of the devil, white wash tombs(Matthew 23:27), hypocrites (Matthew 23:13,14,15,23, Luke 13:15)fools (Matthew 23:17:19) dogs and pigs(Matthew 7:6 ), and did so rightfully as they brought the greatest hindrance to his ministry. The New Testament reminds us constantly of the harshness with which me must treat false teaching that opposes our message. Isaiah the prophet told Israel that Religion is like "filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6) and when we look at the truth of Christ's life and what the scriptures say about him we see that self-righteousness can only ever oppose the gospel of the Glory of Christ.

Looking at Religion and The Gospel and weighing them against each other we begin to clarify the rather shocking difference between them and even seeing where each path brings us in the end. Religion says that there are two kinds of people in the world; good people and bad people.Religious people think they have it all together.  They  believe themselves to follow all the rules and they look down on those who do not. Countless times in the Gospels, we see the Pharisees looking down upon those who are not like them, the irreligious so to speak, those who do not have the same beliefs and do not follow the "religious" standard. They refer to the irreligious as "sinners" (Luke 15:2, 5:30) implying that they themselves are not. Religious people are"...confident of their own righteousness and look down on everyone else"(Luke 15:2, Luke 6:7)Seeing the self-righteous view of religion it becomes clear  that because of their actions and what they accomplish, they believe they are righteous and in good standing with God.

The Gospel says that there are only bad people, who are either repentant or unrepentant. "No one is good except God alone."(Luke 18:18-19). Since we are all born into sin, we are all sinners, we are bad, we are rebels, and enemies of God. "All have sinned, and fallen short of the Glory of God"(Romans 3:23 ) Sin is an ancient Hebrew Archers term for missing the mark. It doesn’t matter how close to the mark you are, if you missed it you missed it. So when Gods see us, he doesn’t see bad or good, he sees unrepentant or repentant; Dead or alive;he sees bad and he sees Jesus. Period. The people who are repentant understand the message of the Gospel. They understand that they indeed are bad, sinful, unclean and are in need of the mercy and grace of God. In Luke 18 we see this contrast between the Pharisee and the Tax collector. The Pharisee, a self-righteous religious man, believes his following of the Law wins him favour in God's eyes and redeems his sin. The Tax Collector recognizes his unworthy state to even lift his eyes to heaven and merely cries out for mercy from God.  Religion falsely believes in self-righteousness. The Gospel recognizes our unworthiness.

Religion says I obey therefore I am accepted. The idea being if one tries hard enough to follow the Law and Prophets and, by worldly standards, does a good job, God will love them. If one does all the right things, works hard and performs well when its necessary, God is happy with them and they may go to heaven. To get closer to God one must obey as many rules as possible. Again coming back to that Idea that religion measures how close we get to God by our standards. In Luke 15 we see a great picture of this. The parable told here by Jesus is about two sons, both of whom are lost and distant from the father. The younger son distant in His blatant outright disobedience and disrespect, and the older brother in his pride and self-righteousness. We see that the older brother, is equally as far from God as the younger brother.  Religion is about becoming better on the outside; at the heart of it, all religion is concerned with is making ourselves the saviour of our own lives. Following the rules set out by God, pious people become proud of their own actions and not joyful in God's. And as pride rules the heart so does contempt for those who are deemed less worthy by prideful people. This again is evident in the Pharisees when looking at the way they deal with those less prudent in following rules.  Furthermore we see direct opposition to the gospel on many accounts as the Pharisees actually try to catch Jesus in his works doing something that they decided was not right. From not washing his hands (Luke 11:38) or healing on Sabbath (Luke 14:1)  to eating from the fields (Luke 6:2) Christ came to offer the love and grace of the Father and the Pharisees were more concerned with the following Rules then receiving it from Him.

The Gospel says that I am accepted therefore I obey. Through Christ, God is infinitely happy and accepting towards us. Through Christ we gain His acceptance, His love, and His approval. One no longer works and does good works in order to gain his approval, but out of loving response to grace is someone who works hard to please the Father. God is a father who looks at his kids; a father who loves us, in spite of who we are. God does not love us so that we will obey, but loves us so that we can obey. Our relationship with the father doesn't depend on our obedience to him, but Christ’s obedience to him on our behalf because we never could. Out of that thankfulness and relationship with Christ comes the fruit and obedience, motivated and fueled by grace and love rather than duty and obligation.

Religion leads to pride and despair; The Gospel leads to humility and joy. Religion says there are two kinds of people; good people and bad people. The gospel says there are only bad people, repentant or unrepentant. Religion is about getting things from God; The gospel is about what we've already been given through Christ. Religion is about me; The gospel is about Jesus. Religion is about what I do; the gospel is about what Christ has done. Religion is man searching for God; The gospel is God seeking man, manifesting Himself to him, and drawing Himself to him. We must be careful not to turn the message and story of Christ into something that it is not; Religion. Religion isn’t helping. It turns everything that we get to do, into things that we have to do. It turns obedience into obligation rather than pleasure and joy. It takes the focus from Jesus, to self. Everything is about Jesus, it’s all about Jesus, It's only about Jesus.

Filthy rags are not helping so let's repent of our religion, and turn to the gospel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The "G" (Gospel)


I have noticed a significant change in my life. I am happy, joyful,confident, passionate and excited. I am fired up and have a fire in my bones that cant be put out. When I think about it, I can't help but to proclaim it. When I hear about it, I want to shout it. When I understand it; it changes everything.

 The Gospel. Something in our era, that is either assumed or taken granted for.
It is the story of Gods relentless pursuit of rebels, like me and like you.

We are sinners. We deserve death.Punishment. Eternal separation. We are unclean and therefore can not be in the presence of a Just God. There is nothing that we can do for him to love us. Our best works are as filthy rags( Isaiah 64:6) You're a sinner, I am sinner. We are enemies of the creator. Period. -this is bad news.

There is one God, who made us in his image male and female. He knew us and loved us, cared and provided for us and then we sinned against him. We wanted to be our own god, so we turned our back on him to sin, Satan, death and hell. He could have let us go that route( If that’s what you’ve chosen that’s what you get.)but he didnt. God is loving, passionate gracious, and caring, he didn’t just stand by and watch it happen, but entered into it as Jesus Christ wrapping himself in flesh. Coming as a person he took responsibility for our faults. He suffered and was tempted as we are. We treated him horribly. We laughed at him. We mocked him. We spit at him and then he went to the cross and we killed him. He took our sins upon him; past present and future. Dying as a substitute on the cross, in our place and for our sins. Three days later Christ rose again conquering sin, Satan and death; Forgiving us, and embracing us.

We no longer have to worry about what we have to do, because Christ has already done it.  There is now no condemnation, guilt, and shame. Though our condition is bad, our position is in Christ."He who knew no sin became sin, so that we may become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).Though we are more terrible and wicked then we could ever imagine, God loves us more then we could ever hope or dream. This is very good news.

Though we are justified, we are continually being sanctified and one day glorified. The grace doesn't stop at the Cross, it only begins there.We are still sinners. We are still in need for grace; that never changes.  We are beggars telling other beggars where to find bread.When we understand the implications of the Gospel, it changes everything. The Gospel sets the non-Christians free from the penalty of sin, and the Gospel sets the christian free from the power of sin. The Gospel is the center of everything that we do.

are you with me?

 also, check out
(http://rylanauger.blogspot.com/2011/02/good-news.html)