Demand #3 Come to Me

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Okay, just being real here a moment… I stink at resting.  It’s a lack of faith on my part, I know.  My head knows God is sovereign, in charge of all, but I fall short on my resting/trusting at times.  For years I found my rest/comfort in food, rather than Christ.  At my biggest I weighed in about 330-340lbs.   I got stressed, I ate.   I had reason to celebrate, I ate.  Joy = food, pain = food, stress = food – get the picture?   Please hear me, that was sin, not only because of the gluttony, but the satisfaction I should have had in Christ I found in eating.

Pastor John Piper has built his ministry around a simple, but profound truth he came to from studying the life and ministry of Johnathan Edwards.  God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.   An awesome truth we’d all do well to live by.  So very many things compete for the glory only God deserves – even good things – family, work, school and even church.  The late Rich Mullins wrote “the stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things.”

That is why Jesus’ demand for us is so imperative.  “The world is a hard place to enjoy Jesus above all.” (wJd pg. 45)  but, we must.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69

 

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Demand #2 – Repent

In our I’m okay and you’re okay society, repentance is not something many of us give much thought to, but we must.  Repentance (according to Wayne Grudem)  is “a heartfelt sorrow for sin (sin is – any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude or nature) a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”

In What Jesus Demands from the World (for the rest of this series of blogs wJd) John Piper says,

“we may infer that the basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the
mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes.” (pg. 40)

Our faith is not about behavior modification.  It is knowing God is Holy and we are not and apart from Christ we are hopeless.    If our hope is only in Christ then we must do whatever He demands.

I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Luke 13:3

But wait… I’m not that bad.  Oh trust me, you are!

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8

“This is the demand of Jesus to
every soul: Repent. Be changed deep within. Replace all God-dishonoring,
Christ-belittling perceptions and dispositions and
purposes with God-treasuring, Christ-exalting ones.” (wJd pg. 43)

I’m giving up, not blogging, for lent

A few years ago the church my family and I were attending, before coming to New Orleans, decided to set aside the 40 days leading up to Resurrection Sunday  as a time of focus on Christ.  To get us all on the same page, literally, we read through John Piper’s book, What Jesus Demands from the World.   I was thinking this Lenten season to revisit that idea with some blog post.  It’s been almost a year since I last blogged, so I’m not promising everyday, but I hope the discipline will be beneficial to us both.

The word demand carries some substantial weight with it defined as – to request urgently and forcefully.  Not exactly the soft spoken, peace loving caricature of Christ many have wrongly portrayed.

Demand # 1 – You must be born again.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.” John 3:3, 5, 7

As one pastor noted dead means, dead… not living, and that is exactly what we are without being washed in the blood and grace of Christ.  Pastor John noted –

“We are not born spiritually alive

with a heart that loves God.

We are born spiritually dead.”  Pg 38

We need new life, not just a do-over.  We are hopeless and helpless outside of Jesus.

 

“Look away from yourself.

Seek from God what he alone can do for you.

Moral improvement of the old you is not what you need.

New life is what the whole world needs.

It is radical and supernatural.

It is outside our control.

The dead do not give themselves new life.

We must be born again—“not . . . of the will of the flesh nor

of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13).

That is what Jesus demands from the world.” Pg 39

Come Be a Fool

So… this being April the 1st, I was reminded of these lyrics from one of my  all-time favorite singers – Michael Card.

God’s Own Fool
————–

It seems I’ve imagined him all of my life
as the wisest of all of mankind;
but if God’s only wisdom is foolish to men,
He must of seemed out of his mind.

For even his family said He was mad
and the priests said, “A demon’s to blame”;
but God in the form of this angry young man
could not have been perfectly sane.

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes.
When we in our weakness believed we were strong,
He became helpless to show we were wrong

And so we follow God’s own fool;
for only the foolish can tell.
Believe the unbelievable;
come be a fool as well.

So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son,
for a madman Who died for a dream.
Then you’ll have the faith His first followers had,
and you’ll feel the weight of the beam.

So surrender the hunger to say you must know,
have the courage to say: “I believe”.
For the power of paradox opens your eyes,
and blinds those who say they can see.

And so we follow God’s own fool;
for only the foolish can tell.
Believe the unbelievable;
come be a fool as well

21!

On January the 21st 1989 at 7:00pm my life changed, forever!  Me became we and God blessed me with the second biggest gift of grace He has afford me, Christ Jesus being first, my beautiful bride, Jamie.   21 years later she still quickens my pulse and is hands down my best and greatest friend.

So today I rejoice in my fine jewel (Jamie) and praise God for His favor!

Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth Proverbs 5:18

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. Proverbs 18:22

An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels. Proverbs 31:10


Jamie I love you with all my heart and give thanks to Our Father for the gift of one another!!!

Scars of Grace

A few years back I was privileged to lead a choir retreat at a beautiful campground in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  We were well into the afternoon when a middle school student, who was watching the younger kids, ran in calling for my wife and I to come quickly.  My heart stopped.   When we got to the playground a group of people were surrounding, back then what was, our youngest child.  She had flipped over backwards on a piece of playground equipment and caught her calf on a bolt and ripped a two and a half-inch, v-shaped, gash in her leg, but we did not know that at the time.   She was surrounded by a Boy Scout troop that just “happened” to come out of the woods at the very moment our daughter had her accident. In the troop there  just “happened” to be a doctor and a nurse who cleaned, packed and bandaged our daughter’s leg, that was why we did not know the extent of the gash.   30 some-odd stitches, a very patient ER doctor and several years later there is an almost perfect V on the back of her leg serving as a memorial, a scar of grace.

God does that you know, He allows things into our lives to mold us, shape us, to break us.   Though I really wish my girl had never had to experience the pain she did. God provided though His wonderful sovereign providence lessons we would have not learned otherwise.  In a recent message Pastor John Piper said “when God undertakes a great thing… He breaks people.” I have found that to be true.  Many times in my life God has had to sit me down to school me in an area of my life I would have otherwise ever addressed.

So how about you?  What scars of grace has God used to refine you?

In 1 Samuel 7 – Samuel builds a memorial to remind everyone of  God’s provision and protection of Israel.  Samuel places a stone, which the text calls an ebenezer to be the remembrance.  I know this brings to mind Charles Dickens, but before Dickens drew a breath, Samuel said ebenezer means memorial.  That is why we sing “here I raise my ebenezer” in the great hymn Come Thou Fount.   So… praise God for the scars, worship Him and raise up your  own ebenezer!

Remember what the Lord told the Apostle Paul “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

His Law is Love…

This line from the well known Christmas carol O Holy Night has stuck in my head since the first time I heard it this season.   It got me thinking… why do we see the law as a bad thing?

The Psalmist did not…

but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 1:2

I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”  40:8

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. 119:92

Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 119:97

I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth! 119:102-103

I hate the double-minded, but I love your law.  119:113

I hate and abhor falsehood, but I love your law.  119:163

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.  119:165

I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. 119:174

The Apostle Paul did not…
For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, Romans 7:22


For those of us in Christ the law should being us joy too!   It points to the fact that we cannot save ourselves not by deeds, or legalism, or even making a list and checking it twice, but I digress.  The law teaches us our righteousness is in Christ and Him alone. Or as the hymn writer so elegantly put it.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands – Augustus Toplady

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets;

I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  Matthew 5:17

Only in the Law Giver can we find Good News and Shalom (peace – wholeness)