Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pray Amidst the Challenges of Life

"Several years ago we took our children on a canoe trip. My wife, Kathy, sat in the front of the canoe holding our three-year-old daughter. I steered in back while my two sons paddled from the middle. After a stretch of calm water, the currents began to quicken. We were not scared until the canoe in front of us suddenly disappeared. It simply dropped from sight on an open stretch of water. At first, we did not understand. Then as the water began to race past us and we heard the sound of crashing water, we realized ahead-a waterfall!

The currents rushed us toward the drop, and our three-year-old began to cry. But as we approached the drop, we could see that safety lay in a narrow channel that skirted the edge of the waterfall and led through rapids to the lower stream. I shouted, "Paddle, boys, paddle." My wife screamed, "And pray."

We barely made the channel, plunged down the rapids, and made it into the lower stream drenched but upright. Howling with laughter and excitement, the boys yelled, "We made it!" Kathy shouted to the sky, "Thank you, Lord!" We had paddled hard, but we knew, as we watched canoe after canoe behind us tumble down the falls (which were really only about five feet high), that the Lord had carried us through. 

Somehow that episode has become a metaphor of life for our family. Kathy has written of it in her stories and both of us refer to it often when we address church groups. We encourage others to paddle hard through the challenges the Lord places before them, but at the same time we remind everyone and oursleves to pray to the One who carries us forward according to his perfect plan. The currents of life will sweep everyone forward, but there is peace in the knowledge that as we entrust ourselves to God and seek the glory of his Son, he grants us the power to paddle where the streams are most blessed."

-Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus' Name (Bryan Chapell, pgs 189-190).

Sunday, May 5, 2013


One sin can destroy you. One sin that you may not think is "that bad" has the potential to damage your soul.  Jesus says in Matthew 5:29: "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell."

Why does Jesus seem so radical about you getting rid of the sin in your life? Why do pastors and Christian leaders of all ages seem to be so serious about sin? Simply because sin is the cause of all misery in this world. Sin is bad. Anything that is wrong in your life is because of sin.  Sin has destroyed everything. And we would be foolish to take sin lightly. Proverbs 14:9 says, "Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright." 

To go further, it is not wise to play with sin. Even sin that may seem small to you. Sin's very nature is deceitful. Sin will say to you, "It's okay. A little here will not hurt you. And don't worry, God will forgive you." That is why Jesus tells us to make radical sacrifices to do away with our sin. He loves us and he cares about our eternal destiny. 

Some people today, however, would claim that sin is fun. Why be so serious, they say? Why not enjoy life?

Hear this: Sin may be fun for a time, but in the end sin will destroy you. In the end sin will be unsatisfying, empty, and pointless. Why? Because we were not on this earth to indulge in our sinful desires. We were put on this earth to glorify God with our lives. It's what we were made for.

Jesus is the answer to the promises that sin claims for your life. Jesus promises life and  he gives life. Sin promises life but doesn't give life. 

Jesus is better than sin. Jesus can free you from living a sin filled life, to a life glorifying to Jesus. 

You see, 2000 years ago Jesus came down to this earth on a rescue mission. He came to deliver people swimming in a sea of sin. He came full of love! He lived a perfect life for sinners and died a horrible death for rebels like us! We must turn from our sins and trust Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. 

Sin destroys. Jesus saves. Turn to Jesus. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Satan's Devices

This might be one of the most powerful paragraphs I've ever read by a man:

"Satan's first device to draw the soul into sin is, to present the bait—and hide the hook; 
to present the golden cup—and hide the poison; to present the sweet, the pleasure, and 
the profit that may flow in upon the soul by yielding to sin—and to hide from the soul 
the wrath and misery that will certainly follow the committing of sin. By this device he 
deceived our first parents, "And the serpent said unto the woman, You shall not surely 
die—for God does know, that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be
opened; and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:4-5). Your eyes shall 
he opened, and you shall be as gods! Here is the bait, the sweet, the pleasure, the
profit. Oh—but he hides the hook—the shame, the wrath, and the loss that would
certainly follow!" (Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies for Satan's Devices)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tweets of the Week Part 14

Grace, Grace, Grace! Keep shouting this message to everyone you know. Grace changes everything. @JustinBuzzard

Repentance is, the Spirit opening our eyes to see how costly and evil our sin truly is. @JoshCousineau

While the law defines righteousness, only grace delivers it. @PastorTullian

What are all of the world's offerings compared to knowing God and making Him known? Let us press on in both endeavors with all our heart (Hosea 6:3)! @PaulWasher

Every other religion is offering swimming lessons to drowning men. @MattSmethurst

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Explicit Gospel Quotes

I read Matt Chandler's book, "the Explicit Gospel" over Christmas break and I have typed out my favorite quotes from the book. This is one of the best books I've read in awhile (as you can tell by how many quotes I've written)! Enjoy and give me your feedback.

"The idea behind moral, therapeutic deism is that we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior. This mode of thinking can be Christian, but it's more about self-actualization and self-fulfillment, and it posits a God who does not so much intervene and redeem but basically hangs out behind the scenes, cheering on your you-ness and hoping you pick up the clues he's left to become the best you can be." (pg.13)

"The assumed gospel" happens when well-meaning teachers set out to see lives first and foremost conformed to a pattern of behavior (religion) and not transformed by the Holy Spirit's power (gospel)." (pg.14)

"In Romans 8:22-23 we see that the gospel is the fulfillment of the longing of all of fallen creation but also (and chiefly) the fulfillment of the longing of mankind, the only creature made in God's image." (pg. 17)

"God's creavity is so rich, so expansive, and so far above us that he simply says, "I want this," and there it is." (pg.25)

"Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss." (pg. 27)

"When we question God, we are the four-year-old in the backseat telling Dad he doesn't know where he's going." (pg.29)

"While we lament the apparent injustice of pain and suffering, how often do we forget that every good thing in a fallen world is wholly a gift of God's mercy and grace." (pg. 30)

"The reality is that all God has to do is reveal himself to you, and you'll gladly join the mission in service to his kingdom. He doesn't force the issue; he just has to reveal himself as he is: mighty, wondrous, gracious, loving, and radically saving. No man goes back to saltine crackers when he's had filet mignon. (pg. 31)

"We can read the Bible as a reference book about us. Or we can see that the Bible is a book about God." (pg.33)

"Worship is the attributing of ultimate worth to something. When this ultimate worth is attributed to anyone or anything other than the one, true triune God of the universe, it is idolatry." (pg.36)

"Worship is the way of life for those entranced by and passionate for the glory of God." (pg. 36)

"Apart from worshiping God, everything becomes superficial. But when you understand the driving force behind everything, all of a sudden there's an eternal amount of joy at our disposal, because everything we do is enlightened and enlivened by the endless glory of the eternal God." (pg. 36)

"Surely anyone can see that our worship switch is always set to On, and we've tuned to some ridiculously finite broadcasts." (pg. 37)

"Hell, when it's all said and done, is the absence of God's goodness and blessedness. Therefore, hell is the absence of anything we can think of that's good, right, comforting, joyous, happy, and peaceful." (pg.44)

"The horror of hell is an echo of the infinite worth of God's glory." (pg.45)

"The cross of Christ exists because mankind-loved by God, created by God, set in motion by God-betrayed God and prefers his stuff to him." (pg.55)

"God's response to the belittlement of his name, from the beginning of time, has been the sacrifice of Jesus on a Roman cross." (pg. 57)

"The sacrificial system was instituted under the established truth that to dwell in God's holy presence requires perfection." (pg.60)

"What if the sacrificial system was given so that we would learn, no matter how much we gave and how much we worked and how many pricey things we sacrificed, that we still can't fix what is broken?" (pg.66)

"So, relational evangelism? Go for it, as long as it turns into actual evangelism. You hanging out having a beer with your buddy so he can see that Christians are cool is not what we're called to do. You're eventually going to have to open up your mouth and share the gospel. When the pure gospel is shared, people respond." (pg.81)

"The context of the gospel message is not our benefit or our salvation; the context of the gospel is the supremacy of Christ and the glory of God." (pg. 90)

"We are never not worshiping. We evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection." (pg. 103)

"The miracles of Jesus are signs of the right order of things. The miracles of healing, deliverance, provision, and resurrection all reveal that God, through Jesus, is making all things new now, that he is restoring what was once was unbroken." (pg. 107)

"Everybody knows something's broken in the world. But illogically, foolishly, we are looking for fixes from broken people with broken ideas in broken places." (pg.120

"If Solomon liked a certain song, he didn't download the MP3; he bought the band." (pg.124)

"Solomon indulged in all of this stuff very heavily, all the while maintaining his wisdom. He never lost sight that he was intentionally seeking meaning in his indulgences." (pg.124)

"Ecclesiastes is in the Bible so that nothing would be in our heart but Jesus." (pg.126)

"According to Lewis, God doesn't look at us and say, "I can't believe they're seeking their own pleasure," but he looks at us and says, "They're not seeking hard enough." (pg. 128)

"Almost all of us, whether we'll admit it or not, have bought into the philosophy that what we need to finally make us happy is more of what we already possess." (pg.129)

"God gives gifts to all men. Whether you believe in God or not, you are living, walking, and wearing his stuff. He gives gifts to all, but only the children of God, only those who believe in Jesus, receive the gift of lasting enjoyment. Why? Because if we're oriented around Jesus, our satisfaction is not tied to anything but him. We can actually enjoy God's good gifts the way they're designed to be enjoyed, because they are in orbit around the right sun-not our self, but our Savior." (pg. 133)

"in heaven, all things are oriented to the worship of God. The triune Godhead is at the center of the heavenly universe. On earth, the fall has knocked everything out of orbit. We revolve around an assortment of idols, which is just a projection of our orientation around ourselves as gods." (pg. 136)

"Because we understand that this life is perishable and these bodies are seeds, we live and see the world differently. We're much more willing to serve, much more willing to sacrifice, and much more willing to endure discomfort because we know that this broken life is momentary." (pg.169)

"The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it." (pg. 217)

"A moralist is not on the hunt; he's not aggressively seeking to destroy that which is evil in him but is content to simply wash his hands." (pg.218)

"People who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ seek to put sin to death because they understand that sin is a lion and will eventually destroy and devour them." (pg.219)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Best Books of 2012

This year has probably been the first year that I've mostly read digital books. From getting good deals on Amazon for the Kindle, or just choosing to read digitally I've been soaking it in. These books below have been the most enjoyable to me and may or may not have been published this year. I give all these books full recommendation to you!

Chai Linne, A Heart For Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissent, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China's Daughters
This was probably my favorite book I read, just in terms of awesome reading. This is an amazing story and I could not put it down. At the end I was so encouraged at what God had done in this woman's life. Amazing!

Creston Mapes, Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol

Creston Mapes is a skilled writer. I loved the story of this book. It was a quick read. And I want to read it again.

Jared Wilson, Gospel Wakefulness
Gospel Wakefulness is simply a treasure for me. I plan on going back to this book often to stir me to Christ. 

Raymond C. Ortlund, Proverbs: Wisdom that Works 
This is the only commentary that I put on this list, but it's not a dry commentary by any means. A lot of people think of commentaries as books that only pastors should read, but this one is different in that sense. Of course it is helpful for pastors or church leaders, but many people will be able to read this and enjoy it. It is Christ-centered, faithful to the text, practical, and devotional. It is one of the best commentaries I have ever read. 

Sam Crabtree, Practicing Affirmation: God-Centered Praise of Those Who Are Not God 
When I first picked this book up, I knew it would be good, but I did not know it would be that good! Wow! We all struggle with giving compliments in a God-centered way that encourages the person but doesn't flatter them. This book will help you a ton. I loved it!

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts
Highly recommend this book. Every Christian should read this. Everyone of us will go through hard times, and we need to know the truth's that will help us during that time. Bridges will help you to do that. 

J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Gospel is a call for the church to give up legalistic or moralistic tendencies and dive into the truth that the gospel of Christ is the power to live godly lives to the glory of God. I loved this book. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where is our Hope?

"She was a creative, beautiful girl who loved playing with her little brothers..." "We cannot imagine our life without her. We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother understand why he can't play with his best friend."

On December 14th, 2012 tragedy hit the town of Newport, Connecticut. A 20 year old gunman stormed into an elementary school and killed 20 children and 6 adults including his mother.

Precious lives were taken. Precious children, who had their whole life in front of them, were killed. 

And now a couple days after the massacre the stories about each person are coming out. As I read about each individual, I just couldn't help but cry. Why did this happen? Why God? Those are some of the questions that many people are asking. Who would kill innocent children? I don't have the answers and I can't speak about why God allowed this to happen. But I do know that God has something to say to us.

A couple things I want to talk about to offer hope in this awful situation.

1) God does not promise us an easy life.
We have a tendency to put our hope in the people and the things of this world. We often look to this world to fulfill us.  But Scripture tells us in 1 John 2:15-17, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. the world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever" (NIV).

If there is anything that the shootings in Connecticut can do for us is to wake us up. The shooting tells us that our lives are fragile. Anything can happen. We could die or our loved ones could die. We are foolish if we put our ultimate hope in this world. 

2) Everyone has a story. 
In other words, people matter. The twenty year old shooter did not value human life and he took 26 human lives in a couple minutes. But God graciously gave those people life. He created them in His own image. And God has made all of us in his own image. We all have stories of joy, success, and failures. We all have fears, hopes, and dreams. Every person in this world matters, and should be pointed to the only One who can satisfy.

3) Jesus is the treasure. 
This shooting happened right in the middle of advent, the time when Christians all over the world prepare to celebrate the coming of the Savior into this world. Where do we turn for hope? Do we just hope things will get better? God tells us to put our hope in Him. He tells us to come to Him for life and everlasting joy.

God, the Father, sent his only Son to this sinful world to die. To die for his enemies. "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8 (NIV). That tells us something about the heart of God. He cares about us. He's not going to leave us alone. He chose to respond to our sinfulness and brokenness. Jesus came to this earth humbly, living a perfect life for us, dying in our place on the cross to pay for our sins, and he rose again triumphantly defeating sin, Satan, and death for all who place their faith in Him!  Wow!

The events of this past weekend have left me heartbroken that so many lives were taken and so many families will have to spend this Christmas without their precious child or friend right next to them. It is so sad. But there is hope for us. Jesus Christ is an ever present Savior, responding to our brokenness with his grace.

These events have reminded me that this world is a bad savior, our lives are precious, and Jesus Christ deserves my full devotion and trust.