Category Archives: General Thoughts

The day God got it wrong…

The most difficult truth of the christian faith is that of the Sovereignty of God. At its core the sovereignty of God is the sum total of the Christian faith as well. God is the creator of the universe, and He Himself exists uncreated. As Creator, God has unreserved rights to all things.

This means that when things happen that shatter our world, tragedies, natural disasters, death, mayhem, pain and dark nights of the soul — that God is still in control. And. that. is. hard. Because when you feel like you have been punched in the gut, the wind knocked out of your lungs, your knees are weak and your vision blurred from the pain, it means that God is still in charge. It means that while life may  seem out of control, it is still going according to plan.

Does this mean that God does these horrible things?  Does this mean that He doesn’t care? Is He sadistic? Because we know His character, His goodness, His love for His children we know that it is not that God does not care.  He is NOT a sadist. Nor does HE bring woe on those He loves. He did that once, on the Cross. Because of that we know that He will never do that again.

So, that begs the question, “Why do bad things happen?” Why do babies die? Why do car crashes take our loved ones away? Why do earthquakes kill thousands? Why do marriages fail? Why? WHY? WHY?

There are two possible answers to that question. First, God got it wrong. But He is sovereign, omniscient and good. So, if He got it wrong then He is no longer God and we are on our own.

OR…

(Man am I glad there is another option!)

God is God, holy, just, perfect, good, kind and graciously merciful. And, being who He is, He takes the curse and effect of the fall and of sin and turns it into good. He gives us the opportunity to show His sufficiency when all else fails. He takes tragedy and turns it into a testimony of His grace. God uses death to remind us of the life to come. God gives mercy to those who suffer, grace to those who are weak.

And, while we may be tempted to think that God got it wrong, we can KNOW God never fails. His mercies are new EVERY morning! Why? Because HE ordains the sun to rise!

God IS sovereign.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” You may struggle to believe this at times, and so do I. So we remind each other. We remind each other of the day that God Got it wrong – NEVER!

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Stop looking at the cross…

For years I knelt there, you know, at the foot of the cross. I gazed so long and hard at my Savior’s mangled body that I knew every line, rivulet of blood, and bruise on His body. The patches of His beard that had been ripped out, yeah, I knew the size and shape of each.  I know that He hung there for me. I drove the nails and spit on the face of the Son of God.

So long I gazed that I was constantly reminded of why He had to die. He had to die because of my lust, my lying lips, my selfishness, my lazines, and the list goes on for a long while. The songs I sang to worship Him riddled me with guilt, after all “it was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished”.

I saw in the face of Jesus, mercy, grace, love, hope, forgiveness and joy.  But I also saw pain, suffering, abandonement, forsakenness. I saw everything I gained and I also saw the cost.

I saw the heavens darkened. I felt the ground shake. I heard the curtain tear. This was good news? But it was my cross, my shame, my suffering that He took.

At last, when I could bear it no more, I looked away. I wandered for what seemed like a lifetime. I ended up in a garden filled with graves. In those graves where men, women and children. One day, I suppose, I would take my place in one of them.

But then I walked up to and empty tomb. There was a Roman seal on the stone, but it had been broken.

I mustered up the courage and stepped inside. The tomb was empty save for one artifact. On the cold stone slab, there stood a cup. The cup had an inscription that read, “God’s Wrath”. I looked at the cup for a long time. Then, knowing the day would come eventually in which I would have to drink, I took the cup in hand and raised it to my lips.

What happened next has changed my life. As I lifted this cup of God’s Wrath to my lips I found it empty! There was not one drop left.

Suddenly it all made sense. The Cross of Jesus is a sweetly brutal reminder of the cost of my redemption. But it is the empty tomb that gives me hope. He is not on the cross, He is ALIVE! All God’s wrath toward me, Jesus took it. My hope is not in a crushed body but in a risen one. My destination is not a grave, it is eternal life. I spent so long at the cross that I missed the hope of the resurrection.

I take many frequent walks through that garden now. As I stop and contemplate the empty tomb, I hear these words in my mind, “He is not here, He is risen.”

I invite you to stop looking at the cross and take a walk with me, it just might change your life too!

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Curse you!

Lately I have heard from different sources that we christians have a problem. We are not good enough. We need to try harder, we need to DO more.  

To those people I say CURSE YOU! Curse you for preaching bondage. Curse you for discouraging your brothers and sisters. Curse you for possessing a from of godliness and denying the power thereof. Curse you for being so self righteous that you condemn others while you ignore your own sin. Curse you for your hard hearted legalism. Curse you for your ignorance of the reality of Grace.  

To those of you who have fallen prey to these charlatans, these false preachers, I say this. How did you lose your faith in the goodness of God so quickly? How have you forgotten mercy and grace so swiftly? How have you managed to move your faith so rapidly from Christ to self? How on earth did you let these people trouble your heart so soon? Why would you let anyone tell you that the good news is not enough anymore?   You know that there is only one Savior, one Gospel, one hope. You know this, and you know that anyone who tells you diffent is a liar. Jesus is the Annointed One, He is the Mesiah, He is your means Grace.  

So, why are you wavering? Why the doubt? Jesus has not changed! He is as good and as gracious as ever! And He still forgives, still empowers and still teaches. I don’t care who tells you otherwise. If they dare to tell you that you have to DO something to earn God’s favor, CURSE them! Because the only way to earn God’s favor is to accept Jesus’ righteousness. You can’t make your own. You need His.  

Some of you might think this is harsh but I am not worried about your opinion. If I was worried about what you think I wouldn’t be a follower of Christ let alone His servant.  

Sincerely,  

Paul
Apostle, Church planter, Missionary, Sinner saved by Grace
Galatians 1:6-10

For more on the topic read this

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You’ve got mail. . .

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In Galatians Paul is addressing some issues. The issues are not trivial becasue the subject matter of the issues revolves around the gospel. For Paul this is life and death. It is massive and it is signigicant enough that he is eager to take the time to write the letter and to send it. That may not seem like much to us, after all, we have the USPS, UPS, Fedex (am I missing anyone?), but in Paul’s day sending a letter involved greater expense and effort. The paper alone and the cost of a scribe if needed . . . Well, you get the picture by now. Paul was not about to waste time on the trivial, nor was he going to squander his resources over petty disputes. But Paul does send this letter so the subject matter at hand must be important.

What can prompt Paul, a very busy Apostle, to take the time, expense and effort? Nothing less than the Gospel itself! But notice how Paul begins his letter, “Paul,  an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father  who raised Him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.” Starting out with his name is not jsut a formality of the day in which he lieved. His name was known to them (as he himself was personally known to many of them). This is not a stranger, it is a friend, a teacher, a father, AND an apostle. Not just an apostle, but an APOSTLE! An apostle appointed “by Jesus Messiah and the Father who raised Him from the dead” Paul can’t get a single sentence into the letter without speaking of Jesus.  But more than that Paul is also establishing that he is not simply self appointed or an apostle by popular vote. He is an apostle because Jesus trained Him and God ordained him. This is not a boast! This is plain simple fact. And the fact is if you question Paul you are questioning the God who made him an apostle.  

But Paul does not stop there. Notice that last phrase, “and all the brothers who are with me.” Paul is not simply establishing his authority and tacking on “a bunch of other people want in on this too.” And Paul is not trying to establish a mob rule here either. Paul is conveying that the issues about to be discussed are not the rantings of a disgruntled teacher being ignored. The inclusion of the “Brothers who are with me” is about agreement. These Brothers are not merely co-greeters. They are co-correctors. They are part of the broader church who have a vested interest in the issues at hand. These brothers are not merely present with Paul, they are in agreement with what Paul is about to write and they not only add their own weight and authority to Paul’s, but also add a solemnity to the proceeding. It is one thing to dismiss a single voice, it is quite another to dismiss a whole group of voices in unison.  

And so, “Paul, an apostle — not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead– and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.”  

Paul is not writing to a single group of people but rather to all the churches in a geographic region. And we will see what he says next time.  

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Galatians part 1

I have been lazy.

There, I said it. No excuses and no reasons to give. Just pure laziness. And it has to stop. My brain is atrophying. I need to think and study and reason. To sharpen my wits and to be useful. But, since I have nothing of use to offer in and of myself so I will seek to give you all what is truly useful — the gospel.  

No other book is as clear and as instrumental in defining and presenting the  gospel as the book of Galatians. Paul, from a distance, reminds the christians of Galatia that the gospel has specific characteristics and because of that some things are simply not compatible with it.   My intent is to go verse be verse and to simplify the text to the propositions it puts forth. I am not writing a commentary and my intent is not to give specific applications although some applications are naturally going to be evident.  

I will try not to be preachy but, I make no promises 🙂 . I welcome all feedback and comments but I warn you I am in this to think so be prepared to engage! No drive bys, please.   I have one favor to ask. I want to post weekly so can yoube my accountability partners? I will try topost on Fridays, but if I don’t can you nudge me? Thanks!

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Death? No such thing.

On that hour the sun darkened, the clouds loomed, the rocks split, and the whole of creation groaned.  

WHY?  

Becuase the Creator died.  

On that day, men knew regret, mothers knew grief, children saw cruelty, and no one saw hope.  

WHY?  

Because Jesus was being murdered.  

In that moment, true loneliness took on form, unrivalled pain was known, and eternal fellowship was broken.  

WHY?  

Because the sinless became sin, and the Holy One could not bear to look on Him.  

On that day all hope seemed lost, all joy placed beyond reach, all courage drained out of the hearts of men.  

WHY?  

Because, it seemed it had all been a lie.  

On that day, in that hour, it could not possibly have gotten worse. It was the darkest day in history. The cruelest hour of humanity. The most hopeless moment of all time.

Friday.  

Sin, when it has born its fruit brings forth death.

DEATH.  

But on Sunday . . .  

On Sunday Jesus, maker of all things, defated death.  

On Sunday, death died.

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Why I hate easter, and why I love it too.

I both hate and love easter.  

Let me explain why I hate it first. I hate easter because it is still a promise unfulfilled. Easter is the assurance that death has been defeated, but as I see more and more friends and loved ones pass into eternity I am reminded that death still has a sting — for now.  

I hate easter because it is trivialized by thoughtless and shallow “Christians”. Christians who ardently defend the resurrection and then spend all of Sunday afternoon searching for easter eggs. Yeah, that is not confusing to your kids or the rest of the world at all.  

I hate easter because I sometimes doubt it is true. Yep, you read that right. I somtimes doubt that it is true that Jesus rose from the grave. And I hate my unbelief. And that doubt has to be stared in the face more than ever and beaten down by the power of God and His grace.  

Now let me tell you why I LOVE EASTER!

I love easter because it is true. Jesus was beaten, tortured, whipped, pierced, spit on, had His beard ripped out, and was hung naked on a cross, for me.  

I love easter because Jesus drank the cup of God’s divine wrath and emptied it.  

I love easter because one day this long distance relationship I have with my heavenly father will be over. I will see His glory. I will worship Him fully, and I will worship Him only.  

I love easter because I am no longer afraid of death. Easter is the promise that even though my body may fail, I will never die.  

I love easter because it is the proof that my faith is not misplaced. The empty tomb proves that  Jesus is God and that He can and does keep His promises.  

I love easter because Jesus is alive.

I love easter because it is the hope of things to come.

I love easter because it is the promise of God to me that the grave is not my final abode.

I love easter because the only tears it brings are tears of joy, hope and expectation.

I love easter because it gives me hope that all this world will one day be made whole.  

And I love easter because it reminds me that better men than me have doubted and God never turned them away. God loves to turn doubters into believers. God loves to forgive our doubts and calm our fears. But most of all God loves sinners like me and with the death and resurrection of Jesus He made a way for us to be forgiven.  

I love easter because in the end death loses and Jesus wins.

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