Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Come, Lord Jesus, Come…

Posted: June 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Today may not be the right time for this; I don’t know.  However, I do know when I woke up this morning, I heard the same horrific news many of you also heard concerning the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.  Up until this point, I have stayed pretty quiet on the circumstances in Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore, and so many other places.  This is an extremely delicate subject to most people, however I am going to attempt to sort through some of these issues.  I honestly do not believe these circumstances are a direct result of racism.  Let me clarify.  Yes, racism does still exist in our society today.  There is no denying that fact.  Yes, racism is wrong.  Yes, this hatred and violence needs to stop, and yes, I believe we need to continue to work to promote racial reconciliation.  There have been countless individuals who have risked their lives for the sake of unity and I applaud those individuals for doing so.  There is no doubt in my mind that these men and women have made a profound impact on where we are today as a society.  So, thank you to the Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, the Rosa Parks’, the Thurgood Marshall’s, and the countless others who have fought for racial equality.  We would not be where we are today if not for your courage and strength and dignity to stand up for what you believed in.

However, as I wrote previously, I do not believe that although racism may seem to be the culprit of these issues, but I do firmly believe there is a deeper issue at stake than racism.  This issue goes deeper than the pigment of my skin or the pigment of your skin.  This issue goes to the very heart and soul of our being.  Yes, the end result is racism, or violence, or murder, or greed, or envy, or stealing, but these things are not the issue.  These things are a direct result of the real issue.  The real issue is our heart and I firmly believe this issue cannot be cured without the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.  Let me try to explain.  Let’s begin by looking at Galatians 2:11-15:

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.  And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.  But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” – Galatians 2:11-15 ESV

So, in this passage, we see Cephas [Peter], who is a Jew, eating with the Gentiles…until some other people show up.  This causes Peter to step back and think, “Whoa! What am I doing?!?!  I should not be eating with these Gentiles!”  But Paul tells us that their actions were not in step with the truth of the gospel, so he confronts Peter.  I do not believe Peter was guilty of an honest mistake here.  He knew better.  Paul knew that Peter knew better.  Paul knew that Peter was acting in a way that was contrary to his convictions.  Paul knew this and he confronted Peter’s hypocrisy.

Paul’s main struggle in Galatians was with certain Jewish-Christians who were telling Gentile-Christians that they must uphold the Jewish Law, mainly circumcision, in order to become Christians.  So, in other words, in order to become a Christian, Gentiles must first become Jews through the covenant of circumcision and the keeping of certain Jewish feasts.  This created hostility between the two camps because, now that Christ had been crucified and resurrected, the Gentiles no longer had to answer to the Jewish Law.  The Jews looked at the Gentiles as different.  The Gentiles did not do things the way the Jews did.  The Jews looked at themselves as being better than the Gentiles.  Sound familiar?  This society was not much different than our society today.  The hostility was there.  The hostility is still there.

So, what does the gospel message have to do with all of this?  What does the gospel message say about this hostility between Jews and Gentiles, different races, and different ethnicities?  Look at Ephesians 2:14-16:

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. – Ephesians 2:14-16 ESV

So, from this passage in Ephesians, we can know four things:

  1. Jesus Christ is our peace
  2. Jesus Christ has broken down racial and ethnic barriers
  3. Jesus Christ has created in Himself one new man
  4. Jesus Christ has reconciled people of different ethnic backgrounds (Jews/Gentiles, black/white, etc.), through the cross

This is important stuff.  Jesus Christ through His work on the cross has broken down these dividing barriers.  If we are in Christ, we are all now brothers and sisters.  No matter of our skin color.  No matter of our ethnic background.  No matter of our economical status.  Brothers and sisters…period.

But I believe there is hope.  I know there is hope.  There is hope that one day all of this hatred and violence will be put behind us.  There is hope that one day all things will be placed back into the order in which God intended them to be.  There will be a day when we are no longer judged by the color of our skin.  There will be a day when the only thing that matters is the glory of Christ and that we show Him that glory and worship Him eternally.  How do I know this?  Because the Bible tells me so.

And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

One day, Jesus is going to come back to get His children, and when He does, it is going to be a glorious, glorious day.  Jesus is going to come back and He is going to gather His children from every tribe, language, people group, and nation.  Guess what that means?  That means that the color of our skin will no longer matter.  We will all be gathered around the same throne worshipping the same (only) God, and nothing else is going to matter except the glory of the LORD.  Sunday mornings will no longer be the most segregated time on the face of the earth.  Again, we will no longer be judged by our outward appearances.  This should give us grounds to boast in the glory of Christ.

If you have not heard anything else I have said so far, please hear this: Racism is an issue in our culture today.  It has had devastating results for us as a nation since our beginning and it continues to do so.  However, the bigger issue is that as a nation, we need the Gospel more than we ever have before.  Paul writes in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…”  If you have a relationship with Christ, that is great!  I rejoice in that.  If you do not currently have a relationship with the one, true God who will one day make all things new again, please contact me.  I would love to talk to you.  If you do not contact me, please contact someone.

Again, I pray that I have addressed this subject matter in a delicate and respectful manner.  And again, this is not me trying to undermine the issue of racism.  It’s real and it hurts. However, this is me trying to address what I feel is the real issue at stake. My prayer is that God will comfort all of those affected by senseless acts of violence and that, if not already, people will come to know Him through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

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The Prayer of a Righteous Man

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The Importance of Prayer

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“What a man is alone on his knees before God, that he is—and no more.” – Murray McCheyne

Blessings

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

So, as I turn 30 today, I began to look back over the last 30 years and realized I have A LOT to be thankful for. More times than not, I get caught up in the mundane, every day tasks and seem to overlook these blessings.

First of all, thanks to two of the best parents (and family) a guy could ever ask for. Everything you guys have done over the years has not gone unnoticed even if it seems to be overlooked at times. You both are a HUGE part of me being the person I am today. There is no way I would have made it this far without the example that both of you have set in my life from pushing me to be independent to the example both of you have set for what a marriage should be after 40 years! Thanks!

Secondly, thanks to a pretty amazing church family who always pushes me to grow in my relationship with Christ and has helped make the opportunity of going to seminary a reality. You guys are appreciated more than you know!

There are so many other people and things in my life that I could list that I have to be thankful for, but my prayer for the next 30 years is that I don’t overlook these blessings and take them for granted, and I hope that each of you who read this will take some time out of your day to slow down and give thanks to God for all He has blessed you with in this life.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion;
Greetings.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

There is so much good stuff in these four verses. Actually, a lot more than you would see at first glance. Here’s a little background: James was one of the half-brothers of Jesus (Joseph was not Jesus’ father). There are many different James in the Bible, however, Jesus’ half-brother is the one who penned this book. James was writing to Jewish Christians who were scattered outside of the land of Palestine. They were experiencing persecution and were struggling to live out their faith in Christ the way they were called to do.

In verse 1, James refers to himself as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. James must have been a pretty humble guy to have referred to himself this way. After all, he was Jesus’ half-brother! The gospels of Mark and John both state that James and his other brothers did not believe in Jesus while He was here on earth. Yet, in Acts 1, we find that his brothers are in the Upper Room with the disciples. The reason for this, I believe, is the fact that Jesus appeared to James after He was resurrected. Here’s my point: If my brother, or any of my kin for that matter, died and rose up again, I’m going to be bragging about the fact that I am related to them! Think about it. Jesus is crucified, stays in the tomb for three days, and is then resurrected. James could have very easily strutted around saying, “Hey! You know Jesus? The one who died and came back to life to satisfy the wrath of God for your sins…that’s my brother!” However, he didn’t. He humbly referred to himself as a servant. There’s a lot to be learned from this type of humbleness.

Verses 2-4 of this passage are referring to the twelve tribes of Israel. They were scattered because of persecution. Acts 8:1 states that a “great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout…”. James makes it plain here that it is not a matter of if but when we face trials. Jesus warned His disciples to expect trials in John chapter 16. However, it is how we look at those trials that determines the effect they have. We see later on in Acts 11 that the scattering of these Jews was leading to the spreading of the Gospel.

In verse 3 James states that the testing of our faith through trials produces steadfastness, or endurance. Romans 5:3-4 says, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” God uses these trials to produce endurance so that we may continue to bring Him glory when life gets tough. This type of endurance leads to spiritual maturity, which is made perfect only when Jesus returns. Spiritual maturity is God’s goal for our lives as believers (v 4). In life, we must mature in our ways. In the same way, we must mature as believers in Christ (Hebrews 5:12-6:1). Through these trials we learn how to endure, we learn what real faith is, and we learn patience. When the road gets hard, remember, through the testing of our faith, God will help us become mature believers and that should be every believer’s goal.

JesusOnCross
Imagine this: There is this married couple. They have been married for a few years now and they have an almost two year old little boy. One day, they find out that they are expecting again and soon thereafter, realize that they will be giving birth to another little boy. As far as they and the doctors are concerned, the pregnancy is going as planned. Then, on the day the child was to be born, as the delivery is taking place, the doctors realize that the child is born with a severe birth defect. They presume to tell the couple that the child was born with a severe birth defect and that there is not anything they can do. IF this child lives, the probability of him never being able to do anything on his own and never amounting to much is very great…and all of that is IF, by chance, he lives.

Now imagine this: The couple, who are followers of Christ, tell the doctors that their child is in the wrong hospital and that if the doctors there were not going to do everything they could to save their child, then he needed to be transferred to another hospital in order to give him the greatest chance of survival…this child was me.

I was born with a birth defect called Spina Bifida. At the time, doctors did not exactly know the cause of this birth defect and the chance of survival was slim to none. However, my parents did not stop at chance. Being believers in Christ, and knowing that God was in control, they knew that I needed to be transferred to another hospital. In doing that, I underwent numerous surgeries during the first six weeks of my life and eventually got to come home from the hospital. If not for my parents decision that day to have me transferred to another hospital so that I could receive the care I needed, I probably would not be here today.

Here is the thing though; although there was a strong possibility of physical death at my birth, I was already dead spiritually. Scripture says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 ESV). We all inherited Adam’s sinful nature. Because of Adam and Eve’s actions in the garden (Genesis 3), we all are born with a sinful nature, and therefore, do not seek after God and are dead in our sin (Romans 3:10-18, Romans 6:23). But, there is good news. God shows His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He did not wait for us to start acting the way we should. He sent His son, the Messiah, to be the propitiation (wrath-bearer) for our sins so that we could spend eternity with Him. He did all of that while we were still immersed in our sin with no way that we could get out on our own.

In the same way that my parents made the decision to have me transferred to another hospital on the day I was born so that I would have the best chance of survival, God made the decision to send His son to satisfy His wrath against our sins (which, by the way, was His plan all along. This was no sort of “Plan B”) so that we could be brought to life. Without the cross, I was dead, worthless and hopeless. With the cross, I am alive and rich…I am a child of God.