Showing posts from January, 2007

Praise Him While You Can

In Isaiah 38 Hezekiah's prayer life shines through again. God spares his life. Two things caught my attention in this chapter. First, God is gracious to put our sins behind his back...
Isaiah 38:17 Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.The second thing that stands out, is that we only have so much time on this earth, and that means we only have so much time to praise our maker. I must make sure that I praise the Lord each and every day and that those around me know what I think about him.
18 For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness. 19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
fathers tell their children
about your faithfulness.

The King of Prayer...The Praying King

I don't know exactly what made Hezekiah so special, but his prayer life was tremendous. The Lord added years to his life because of his prayer, and in Isaiah 37 the Lord spares His people in part because Hezekiah prayed.
Isaiah 37:21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word the LORD has spoken against him:

"The Virgin Daughter of Zion
despises and mocks you.
The Daughter of Jerusalem
tosses her head as you flee. 23 Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
33 "Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:
"He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it. 34 By …


You'll have to excuse my ramblings here - Chapter 3 of Desiring God has my mind spinning with all kinds of thoughts. All of the quotes below are from Piper unless otherwise stated. I guess the main point that I take with me from chapter 3 is that worship is an end in itself. That getting pleasure from loving God, does not make worship wrong, it testifies to its "rightness". I really like the idea that Piper gives stating that worship is not just a nice rest from the wicked world on Sundays...

The first thing we learn is that worship has to do with real life. It is not a mythical interlude in a week of reality. Worship has to do with adultery and hunger and racial conflict. But although worship is all about feeling deeply, it is about knowing deeply as well. Worship is about spirit AND truth.

It matters whether you know the One you worship!

My next sermon series is going to be on Passion - Igniting the fire of love for God. But in order to have a fire, we must be first indwe…

Mighty To Save

I had the great privilege of sitting under Dr. T.V. Farris. He wrote a commentary on Isaiah called "Mighty to Save". Verses like these remind me of his love for this book.
Isaiah 35:4 say to those with fearful hearts,
"Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you."
What a great comfort to know that God is in control. That even when we think he is never coming, he is not far away. In this very passage it was prophesied that the mute would speak, and the lame would dance. And these things did happen through Christ.

This passage also reminds us that great days are yet to come...
10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Praise the Lord that a Remant Will Return!

Velvet Elvis - Bricks and Trampolines

This past summer I saw a video from a series called Nooma. I really enjoyed it and I began to search for more stuff from Rob Bell. I then heard that he had some strange theological views and I was very worried about showing the Nooma videos to others. So I started listening to Mr. Bell. He is the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids Michigan. He presents things with a fresh perspective. I always learn something when I hear him, (and I always seem to disagree with something too) So I have finally broken down and have started reading his book "Velvet Elvis".

I'll try to save most of my criticisms until I finish the book. I have to say that after just reading the first chapter, I am already hooked. His writing is fresh and even the way that the sentences are laid out are appealing to me.

The main contrast in the first chapter was between bricks and trampolines. We build with bricks. We start with the foundation and work our way upwards. If one brick…

God is Angry

I hate to stay on the same theme here, but again I am amazed that anyone would read the scriptures and not be able to see that sometimes God is not only love, but vengeance, wrath, and anger.
Isaiah 33:2 The LORD is angry with all nations;
his wrath is upon all their armies.
He will totally destroy them,
he will give them over to slaughter.

3 Their slain will be thrown out,
their dead bodies will send up a stench;
the mountains will be soaked with their blood.
Here is a question for anyone reading this blog. I've been taught that basically there are 5 fundamentals to the Christian faith.

1. The Virgin Birth
2. The Inerrancy of the Scriptures
3. The Substitutionary Atonement
4. The Physical and Literal Resurrection of Jesus
5. The Physical and Literal Return of Jesus.

I'm wondering if a Literal Eternal Heaven and a Literal Eternal Gehenna (Hell), should be number 6?

Please don't take this the wrong way. I'm so thankful for the forgiveness …

Bad News...Good News

I've had some interesting conversations recently about the doctrine of Hell. It seems that there are quite a few people who want the good news without the bad news. Yet the scripture seems to clearly speak not only of God's love, but also of His wrath. I don't know if this passage in Isaiah is an allusion to Hell, but it is a reminder for us to truly fear the Lord.
First the Bad News...
Isaiah 33:11 You conceive chaff,
you give birth to straw;
your breath is a fire that consumes you. 12 The peoples will be burned as if to lime;
like cut thornbushes they will be set ablaze." 13 You who are far away, hear what I have done;
you who are near, acknowledge my power! 14 The sinners in Zion are terrified;
trembling grips the godless:
"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"
Then the Good News...
Isaiah 33:15 He who walks righteously
and speaks what is right,
who rejects gain from extort…

I Want To Be A Liberal

Isaiah 32:8 But the noble man makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands.This is from the NIV. The King James Version reads like this...

8But the liberal deviseth liberal things;
and by liberal things shall he stand.

I thought that was very interesting. Most of the time liberal has a negative connotation in our culture, but here it has a very positive one. I think it is good to do things nobly, and probably the point here is that the noble or "liberal" person is known for their generosity and dealing with integrity. In that sense, I think we all should desire to be liberal.

He Does Not Take Back His Words

Isaiah 31:2a Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster;
he does not take back his words.
These words bring confidence and fear at the same time. I've often said things that I wish I could take back. Sometimes I have had to "eat" my words and take them back. God never takes back his words. What he speaks will come to pass. His promises are true. The promises of destruction and the promises of blessing will happen. You can always count on God's words.
Joshua 21:45 Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Can a Believer Hate Church?

We had another good day of services this past Sunday. I preached on Ephesians 5:22-33 and I went with a different approach than normal. I was impressed by the Lord's love for His Church. I know that recently there has been a push by some Christians to say they love Jesus, but hate Church. After reading this passage, it's pretty obvious that Jesus loves the Church. He gave himself for her; He will present her radiant, holy and blameless. He feeds her and cares for her.

I find it very difficult to say that I hate something that Jesus loves, cares for and gave his life to save. I understand that people are referring to "Church" as traditions, or rituals, or clubs of highly respected moral people. And they really aren't talking about the body of believers transformed by their encounter with the risen Christ. But I don't think you would ever hear Jesus say that he hates Church.

Let us love the Church with the same passion that our Savior and Lord does. Let's us …

Repentance and Rest

Isaiah 30:15 This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.
The Israelites went to Pharaoh for protection instead of letting the Lord be their shield. The looked for help from man instead of seeking help from God. They didn't need to seek the help of mighty men, but the Almighty God.

In an age of manufacturing all kinds of feeling and religious emotion through whatever means possible, it is refreshing to me to think about finding Salvation through rest. Sometimes I wonder if our American Ambition gets in the way of truly trusting in God.

A Passion for the Pleasure of God's Presence.

In chapter 2 of Desiring God, Piper reveals his theological stripes. Yet even though I may not agree with all of his system, I still found some wonderful truths in this chapter.
"It does no good to tell these people to believe in the Lord Jesus. The phrase is empty. My responsibility as a preacher of the gospel and a teacher in the church is not to preserve and repeat cherished biblical sentences, but to pierce the heart with biblical truth." --PiperThere truly is a "lost and dying world" that needs our compassion. But part of my calling is not just to repeat this phrase, but to prayerfully preach so that the people in our pews would have their hearts pierced by the call of the lost and the dying.

Here is a great description of sin. It reminds me of how Joseph felt when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife. He was much more worried about sinning against God, than any other damages he might incur.
"The wickedness of sin is owing to the implicit disdain for God. …

Worship Rules...

Isaiah 29: 13 The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me is made up
only of rules taught by men.
I wonder sometimes, how much of our worship is simply rules taught by men. We know the right answers, we ask the right questions, and we speak the truth. But where are our hearts? How much of our corporate worship is just rules taught by men. Maybe even our daily personal worship, how much of this is just following rules taught by men?

I thoroughly enjoy teaching my kids Sunday School Class. We often work very hard at coming up with the right answers, but sometimes I wonder if it is getting from their heads down to their hearts. How does the truth get from the mind to the heart? God said that he would show himself through the works of his hands, and that would turn their hearts back to a place of awe.

23 When they see among them their children,
the work of my hands,
they will keep my name hol…

A Precious Cornerstone

Isaiah 28:16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who trusts will never be dismayed.
Isn't it amazing how often Isaiah prophecies about Jesus. I don't know why God chose Isaiah, but it must have been amazing to have the privilege to see so much about the Messiah. Jesus has been tested. Jesus is worthy of our trust. Even more, if we will trust in Jesus, we will never, NEVER, be dismayed. Jesus is the Solid Rock, that is why we can wholly lean on Him. He will not disappoint.

The Desire of our Hearts

There are so many wonderful truths in just this one chapter of the scriptures...

The promise of peace for the steadfast...
Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.
It is not our glory, but it is God's glory proclaimed among the nations that we desire. His renown.
8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws,
we wait for you;
your name and renown
are the desire of our hearts.
Even in the midst of chastisement, we should seek the Lord...
16 LORD, they came to you in their distress;
when you disciplined them,
they could barely whisper a prayer.
Another one of these great Old Testament passages that point to the Resurrection of the Saints...
19 But your dead will live;
their bodies will rise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning;
the earth will give birth to her dead.

Contagious Faith

We had an excellent day during our worship services today. Tonight I was reminded what great faith does, it increases the boldness and faith of others. I have some friends whose faith has pushed me out of my zone and into wholly leaning on Jesus' name. I appreciate them so much.

Tonight we placed one of the taller members of our church on a chair on the stage until he was 9 feet 6 inches tall. And then we put someone who was about 6 feet tall next to him. Goliath was huge! Many feared him, and no one would face him until David went out to meet him with 5 smooth stones. Can you imagine the gasp of the Philistines and the roar of the Israelites when Goliath hit the ground. The incredible faith of the shepherd boy, emboldened the whole army of Israel. This one great act of faith was the turning point in a nation.
1 Samuel 17:52 Then the men of Israel and Judah surged forward with a shout and pursued the Philistines to the entrance of Gath and to the gates of Ekron. Their
dead were strew…

Did You See That?

Something has really stuck with me about the first chapter of Desiring God. Praise completes our enjoyment of God. And maybe more than this, we love to share how excited we are about the things we love. It is almost as if the sharing, completes our worship. This is why I enjoy church services so much. I love to share with other people in our common love of the Almighty. Some things are just better shared with a friend and maybe worship is one of those things.

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise what ever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: "Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?" The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't …

We Trusted in Him, and He Saved Us

Isaiah 25
8 he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

9 In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."

I've heard people complain that some are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. But more often I think we are so earthly minded that we are no heavenly good. There is coming a day when death shall die, a day when God shall wipe away all tears. That day will be a glorious day for the people of faith. The people who believed that God would save them.

Lord help me to trust you in all things that I can rejoice in that day.

God is a Happy God. OR Happy is a Yuppie Word

Today was interesting to say the least. I started reading the chapter on happiness from desiring God. Here is the quote that is probably the main point of this chapter:
The climax of God's happiness
is the delight he takes
in the echoes of his excellence
in the praises of his people.
--John PiperThen later this morning I was listening to Switchfoot in the car and this song really stuck with me...
Happy is a yuppie word
Nothing in the world could fail me now
It's empty as an argument
I'm running down a life that won't cash out (cash out)
--SwitchfootSo who has the hold on happiness? God or the Yuppies? No offence to Switchfoot, but I think I'm going with God on this one. Piper's thesis is very interesting. Basically God is in love with himself. I know that sounds wrong. Because we don't respect people who are in love with themselves and we are taught from the scriptures that love "seeketh not her own". But with God it is different because he is perfect.
God i…

Emerging Church Ramblings

I'm just starting to get acquainted with the "Movement" or "Conversation" identified as the Emerging Church. What I can't believe so far is how many buzz-words go with this movement. Here are a few I got from Purgatorio:

Missional, Liquid/Aqua, Ancient-Future,
Post ___________, Jesus, Community, Derrida, Liturgy, Global, Creed, Experience,
Social Justice, Conversation, Spiritual, Ritual, Beauty, Art, Blog, Ooze,
Journey, Discussion, Open, Random, Culture, Technology
(I would recommend reading about the Emerging Church Movement for a while and then come back and read Purgatorio's blog. It is actually a good and humorous way of picturing the face of the movement. I've also realized that maybe why I'm so interested in the ECM is because I recently purchased a Mac!)

So far the most helpful article I've read about identifying this "ooze" is by Scot McKnight. You can find it here. For those of you looking for labels, I believe Scot is somewhat…

What is to Come

Isaiah 24:6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth's inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.

Peter tells us the earth will be laid bare by fire. Isn't interesting that Isaiah said the same thing hundreds of years before him. I am confident in this, just as this earth was judged by water, so it will also be judged by fire. God's word is sure.

This destruction will give way to the glorious kingdom of Christ...

23 The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously.

Lord, please help me to long for the day of your glorious kingdom, and help me live that I will not be ashamed in that day.

The Chief End of Man...The Pursuit of Happiness

I am already loving "Desiring God" and I haven't even made it past the introduction yet. Piper quotes the Westminster Catechism and changes one little word in it to begin to introduce us to his term "Christian Hedonism". He changes

The chief end of man is to glorify God
enjoy him forever.


The chief end of man is to glorify God
enjoying him forever.

His basic premise so far is that he is building a philosophy of life based on 5 convictions derived from the scriptures.

l. The longing to be happy is a universal human experience, and it is good, not sinful.
2. We should never try to deny or resist our longing to be happy, as though it were a bad impulse. Instead we should seek to intensify this longing and nourish it with whatever will provide the deepest and most enduring satisfaction.
3. The deepest and most enduring happiness is found only in God.
4. The happiness we find in God reaches its consummation when it is shared with others in the manifold ways of love.

Desiring God

I am finally going to read the book "Desiring God" by John Piper. I have had good friends tell me to read Piper for many years, but I have never cultivated a love of reading. I am truly going to try and work on that.

Just from the preface I already can tell that this book is going to be good for me. I have already read two quotes that I really like...

"May the Living God, who is the portion and rest of the saints, make these our carnal minds so spiritual, and our earthly hearts so heavenly, that loving him, and delighting in him, may be the work of our lives." -- Richard Baxter

"The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks." -- Matthew Henry

I hope by blogging what I learn from this book that maybe I will retain it better. I have a feeling that this book may be a great help in my journey to wholly lean on Jesus' Name.

Eat and Drink for Tomorrow We Die...

Isaiah 23:12 The Lord, the LORD Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. 13 But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! "Let us eat and drink," you say, "for tomorrow we die!"

They just didn't get it. God was about to destroy many of them and send many away and they didn't believe. They had an opportunity to repent and possibly find grace, but instead they laughed.

There is a time to be serious. I like to play (especially sports) as much as the next guy, but sometimes I wonder if we spend too much time eating and drinking and not enough time weeping and wailing for the hurting and Christless all around us. God give us grace to be serious when we need to be and to celebrate and play when it is time.

Blessed be Egypt My People?

Isaiah 19:24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. 25 The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance."

Isaiah says that Egypt will seek the Lord and will be found. Then he goes on to say that they will be loved. Isn't God's love for the nations amazing?