Using Your Eyes Correctly

 Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

The one who sees the circumstances and character of his neighbor as fodder for criticism, instead of prayer, lacks sense. To be wise is to see as Christ sees. To minimize the worth of your neighbor; to belittle them, is to say something profound about yourself, not something meaningful about your neighbor. Self-righteousness, arrogance and unwarranted spiritual pride are all tied up in the belittling of neighbors. 

A proper judgment of your neighbor – understanding that your neighbor is created in God’s image, is a being in the process of sanctification, is a blessing to be received, served, built up, thought well of – is true wisdom. Continue reading

Say the Same Thing

1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The word ‘confess’ literally means to “speak the same thing.” To confess your sin is to call your sin what God calls it. We so often like to add adjectives and qualifiers to our sins. We rationalize our sins. We cover our disobedience with leaves and hide from God behind trees of self-justification like Adam in the Garden.

But physically hiding from God in a well-manicured garden is as ineffective as hiding our sins behind well-manicured excuses. We convince ourselves that we only told a white lie or a half-truth. We convince ourselves that we’re OK so long as we look but don’t touch.

We have “respectable” or “character-flaw” sins. The “everybody does it,” sins. The “I just am the way I am,” sins. We tell ourselves that we don’t gossip, we just “share” our concerns with anyone who will listen. We don’t covet; we saddle ourselves with thousands of dollars of debt to acquire the stuff we want. We excuse our anger and belittle others, we brow beat our wives and lord over people calling it ‘tough’ love. We despise others and feel justified in despising them because of how terribly they have sinned or how foolishly they’ve acted. We convince ourselves that our jobs, hobbies and entertainments aren’t idols. And yet we’re too ‘busy’ to play with our kids, to pursue our wives or clean the house. We’re so busy we don’t have time to read our bibles, to pray, to sing, to fellowship or serve the community. Continue reading

Vessels Cleansed, Filled and Shattered

We were all captive to the power of Satan; in sin we walked and in death, we lived. We were captives in Adam and God appeared in the flesh, fighting our captors that enslaved us. As it says in Eph 4:8, Jesus led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

God so loved the world he gave. And when God gives, the vessel in which he pours his blessing is always overwhelmed. That is how we became the friends of God, believers. That is how we came to be here today, we were overwhelmed by God’s grace. It was stronger than our sin. God’s mercy was more potent and powerful than our selfishness. God’s compassion was stronger than our feeble shield of self-righteousness. Our resistance of empty darkness was no match for God’s infinite light. And with joy and loving-kindness we were overpowered, disarmed, ruined – remade.   Continue reading

Say the Same Thing

1 John 1:9 reads “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The word ‘confess’ literally means to “speak the same thing.” To confess your sin is to call your sin what God calls it. We so often like to add adjectives and qualifiers to our sins. We rationalize our sins. We cover our disobedience with leaves and hide from God behind trees of self-justification like Adam in the Garden.But physically hiding from God in a well-manicured garden is as ineffective as hiding our sins behind well-manicured excuses. Continue reading

Born To Trouble

Do you ever feel persecuted by your circumstances? Like trouble finds you, when all you are trying to do is be good and do good?  Marriage trouble, money trouble, tax trouble, mortgage trouble, family trouble. Trouble with your car or the fridge or a neighbor? Have you have wondered why?

It’s what I imagine David asked himself at the beginning of  2nd Samuel 10. I’m sure it’s what Joab, the commander of Israel’s forces, asked himself once he was trapped by two armies far greater in number then his own. And I’m sure its what Eve asked herself the day she was walking in the garden and heard a strange serpentine voice. Continue reading

The Christian Life

The Christian life is a life lived by the grace of God, under Christ’s law, in God’s world, in the presence of God himself. We love because God first loved us (1st John 4:19). The Triune God instigated a relationship with us. He created us, redeemed us, sustains us and gives us hope for a future life with him without sin, pain or death (Romans 8:30). This is the work of the Father, Son and Spirit who are a community of love creating a community of love, on earth, to share in their eternal glory.

This self-revealing, instigating love of God shapes our lives. It shapes ethics, behavior, schedules, faith, science, study, vocation, the arts; our very understanding of the world and our place in it.

Our first Trimester will be focus on this amazing reality. You Are God’s children (John 1:12-13) and heirs of the promises of God (Eph. 2:12) who are called to devote yourselves to the glory of God in all you do (Matthew 22:36-40).

The Westminster shorter Catechism begins with this question;

Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Living by the grace of God

Conversion (Titus 3:5)

Living under Christ’s law.

The Law of Christ (John 13:34) 

Repentance (Luke 13:3, 5:32)

Forgiveness (Luke 17:3, Col. 3:13)

The fruits of the spirit (Gal 5:25)

Living in God’s world.

Walking by the spirit (Gal 15:16-17)

Bible reading (1st Tim. 3:15, Rom. 15:4)

Living in the presence of God Himself.

Worship (Heb. 13:15)

Christian Fellowship (Rom. 12:5, Acts 2:42)

Prayer (Luke 11:1)

The Lord has Spied out the Land

Father

We are gathered in. The Lord himself has spied out the land, tasted of its plenty and declared the promises fulfilled. He has declared the year of the Lord. We huddle in the upper room of heaven gripped in fear. Fear that leads to wisdom that frees us from ourselves, fear that leads us here, to worship for it is the fear of awe.

We are gathered in and the scarlet cord hangs form our window. The house that belongs to the Lord shall stand, even as the wall of humanity falls in destruction. We shall be passed over as you march from the river to the sea and subdue it all. It is finished. Even now we feast at the banquet set amidst our enemies. Let our joy be an example, may your spirit be theirs; those at home now lost in their worldly pursuits, may they know this elation secured by Christ, that they too might stand with us and look upon you in Spirit and truth. We are gathered in. Hear us. Not because we are righteous, but because of your son, the Christ, the Emperor of the cosmos, who gave this right to us, to ask in his name…

Amen

5-1-2011

God Vowed to Walk There With Them

Zampieri - Adam et Ève (détail)

Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had  enjoyed with man.

In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading

The Dregs of Society Made Warrior-Servants

Father

For six days we have labored in the fields. Our flesh is heavy and our toil weighs upon us. The sullenness of our failed intentions, our sour words, our blind eyes and our grumblings threaten to choke our melodies and strangle our battle hymns. Our instruments are out of harmony. Our weapons have grown dull. Our armor is battered.

But lo, there is a fell voice, soft on the wind; calling us to a drink of water without end; a victory banquet set amidst our struggles, surrounded on every side by the enemy. Here, at the set time we ascend to your inner sanctum by the mighty power of your spirit. We are not trembling at the foot of your mountain, afraid of your voice, begging for an intermediary. Yet, we cannot boast of this. We are the dregs of society made warrior-servants. We are the pathetic fools given the wisdom of God spoken. We are lame beggars overseeing the household of the Lord of hosts. We are the priesthood of the plebs. Gird our loins, sharpen our swords, tune our instruments for we shall not tarry long, but only rest awhile to gather from you new strength to resume with fervor and obedience the work of your kingdom. Glorious father we beg of you, hear our prayers…

Amen

Sunday 6-14-09