To Have No Interest in Truth Effectively Ends the Conversation

Matthew 21:23-27 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

Thoughts and Affections Cause Each Other

“Indeed, thoughts and affections are sibi mutuo causae—the mutual causes of each other: ‘Whilst I mused, the fire burned‘ (Psalm 39:3); so that thoughts are the bellows that kindle and inflame affections; and then if they are inflamed, they cause thoughts to boil; therefore men newly converted to God, having new and strong affections, can with more pleasure think of God than any.””

Thomas Goodwin, as quoted in, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God by John Piper. Crossway, 2010. 24.

Thinking versus Postmodern Jell-O Juggling

“Yes, I have concerns. For example, I hope this book will help rescue the victims of evangelical pragmatism, Pentecostal shortcuts, pietistic anti-intellectualism, pluralistic conviction aversion, academic gamesmanship, therapeutic Bible evasion, journalistic bite-sizing, musical mesmerizing, YouTube craving, and postmodern Jell-O juggling. In other words, I believe thinking is good for the church in every way.”

John Piper. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Crossway, 2010. 17.

Fuel of Knowledge on the Fires of Worship

“This book is a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people. It is a plea to reject either-or thinking when it comes to head and heart, thinking and feeling, reason and faith, theology and doxology, mental labor and the ministry of love. It is a plea to see thinking as a necessary, God-ordained means of knowing God. Thinking is one of the most important ways that we put the fuel of knowledge on the fires of worship and service to the world.”

John Piper. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Crossway, 2010. 15.

Influences: Indeed He Says! Romans 9:22-26

Romans 9:22-26
What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed he says in Hosea,

“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
  and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
“And in the very place where it was said to them,
  ‘You are not my people,’

  there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”

This is the reason why we boldly and audaciously preached the gospel of God!

Paul starts this statement with a huge ‘What if?’. What if God wanted to flex his muscle? What if God endured the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? What if all of that was to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy? What if He has prepared beforehand for glory? What if He has called from the Jews and the Gentiles? What if?

Ah, if that isn’t the biggest ‘what if’ ever?

But that ‘what if’ is not some post-modern aahhhhhhhh rhetorical question designed not to be answered. Because if that is the question—if we are asking ‘what if?’ then how generously, kindly, wonderful, gladly, lovely does God answer the question.

You were not my people.
You were not my Beloved.
Your disobedience, lostness, pride,
transgressions, and sins
have kept you far, far from me.

But I will have you in my family.
I will have you close to me.
I will have you in my heart.
I will enjoy you forever.
I will bridge that gap.
I will close that infinite chasm.
I will do so with my Son’s life.
I will do so with the power of my Holy Spirit.

You are now called ‘my people’!
You are now called ‘my Beloved’!
Even when you have been told, ‘You are not my people’,
I will trump that and sovereignly declared,
‘You are my sons forevermore!’

Influences: What Shall I Pray? 1 Timothy 1:12-17

So in all of this, what shall I pray?

What can I say?

I pray to worship You.

I pray to praise Your holy name forever.

I pray to sing to You.

I pray because I want You.

I pray because I need You near.

I pray because I have no life without You.

I pray because You are my Lord and God.

I pray because You are my Father.

I pray because You are my Savior.

I pray because You are the Spirit inside of me.

And this I know, You have declared Your sweets words to be true (Psalm 119). Your words come from Your very breath (2 Timothy 3:16) and they are sufficient—no, more than sufficient—necessary for life. (Genesis 2:7 cf. John 11:43)

How can I begin to describe the feeling when your sweet words falls upon my ears, eyes, mind and heart?

Psalm 19:7–10
“The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.”

If Your promises hold true—if You say You will make all things right despite our folly and sin (Genesis 3:15); if You say You will bear our iniquities and our trespasses (Isaiah 53) and You will draw near to us just when we think You are so far away (Psalm 22), then my life and my love is all in Your Word. I have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to.

Who can I trust?
Where I can seek refuge in?
Whom have I in heaven but You?
Is there anyone on earth I desire besides You? (Psalm 73:25)

This much is true: for you are my God. You loved me and you are always mindful of me even before you created time and space.

You have shown the awesome worth of your love by sending and giving Your precious Son to me.

You have shown the infinite might of your power by giving your Spirit to me.

So what then can I say?

So what then can I do?

All I can do is simply thank you.

So from the bottom of my heart,
I thank you for giving me strength.
Thank you my Father God.
Thank you my Christ Jesus.
Thank you my Holy Spirit.

You judged me faithful.
You appointed to Your service.
Despite my dishonoring and blaspheming,
Your holy name,
despite my persecution and hatred,
of those who love you,
despite my perverted and violent opposition,
towards you,

Still
I only received mercy
because I was lost
I was lame
I was deaf
I was blind
I was stupid
I was ignorant
I was evil
I was dead
and I was not looking and could not look for you whatsoever.

But Your beautiful, sweet and tender
love, mercy and grace
overflowed for me
overwhelmingly
undeservingly
ill-deservingly
with your unbroken faithfulness
and your relentless love
that can only be by You,
for You,
through You,
my Christ Jesus my Lord my Savior.

These words
out of my heart
are true
and with all of my hope and dreams
and desires and wishes
that these words would be sweet to your ears.

I know
that you came in this world
to rescue your people
to pull them out of despair
to give your people life
to save them from their sins
to bring them to you
evil sinners
at war with you
All of us
And I lead this group.
I am the foremost
I am their chief
I am their victor
I am their champion of those who would face Your terrifying wrath!

Yet,
in this reason
that Your grace abounds all the more
that Your mercy renews every morning
that Your love never ceases
that You
my Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ
might display

Your perfection, beauty, tenderness, quickness,
Your love, mercy, grace, patience
for all of those who You call Yours
and those would believe upon Your holy name for life forever.

This is why I will sing
to the God of the everlasting to the everlasting
the Triune
the Father
the Son
the Holy Spirit
the immortal
the invisible
the Only One
the Creator
the Sustainer
the Merciful
the Peace
the Grace
the Faith
the Immanuel, God with Us
the Blessed
the Living Word
the Christ
the Son of God
the Fellow Heir
the Second Adam
the Kinsman Redeemer
the Beginning
the Means
the End
the Majesty
the Truth
the Way
the Life
the Wisdom
the Teacher
the Rescuer
the Promise
the Calling
the Fulfillment
the Abundance
the Host
the Governor
the High Priest
the Prophet
the Apostle
the Sufferer
the Messiah
the Servant
the Son of Man
the Glorified
the Power
the Gospel
the Guide
the Elector
the Wonderful Counselor
the All-Sufficient
the Lion of Judah
the Worthy Lamb who was slain
the King of all kings
the Lord of all lords
the Prince of Peace
the Commander of the Lord’s Army
the Ruler above all
the Name above all Names
my Holiness
my Righteousness
my Justice
my Faithfulness
my Mercy
my Grace
my Friend
my Confidence
my Shepherd
my Pastor
my Elder
my Brother
my Assurance
my Redeemer
my Vinedress
my Vine
my Bread
my Water
my Rock
my Salvation
my All in all
my Exalted
my Glorious
my Beloved
my Joy
my Song
my Love
my Mighty God

my Everlasting Father, my Dad, my Abba, my heart
my Jesus Christ, King, Lord, Savior and Messiah
my Holy Spirit, my comfort, my peace, my gift, my breath.

So I will be so very careful to
worship,
sing,
praise,
glorify,
exalt,
proclaim,
honor,
dedicate,
and love
You alone.

I pray this desperately and joyfully,
in the beautiful,
sweet,
precious,
most tender,
loveliest,
most worthy,
dearest name of
Your Son.

His name is
the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

Influences: But Who Am I? 1 Chronicles 29:10-18

This was the very first passage I memorized. I picked this passage because I heard this particular verse mentioned in a long list of other verses:

1 Chronicles 29:14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.

When I looked up the verse and read it in context, I was blown away from David’s commencement. Since then, I hear this passage being used to explain the economics of God (while precariously dancing close to the edge of the Prosperity unGospel). At first glance, I can see that. But dig deeper and it is far richer that what we give it credit for.

Here is the reason why I love it so:

This passage reminds me to bless the people when you speak to the people:
“Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said

It reminds me of  who God explicitly is:
“Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.

It reminds me of who am I, apart from God:
“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.

It reminds me of what God has done in us and for us:
O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.

It reminds me of what my response is now because of God:
In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.

It always reminds of what my desperately prayers for God to keep on doing:
O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you.

Here is Love: God to Man and Man to God—2 Corinthians 5:21

And here is love: 2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Ah ha!

Welcome to where things do not make sense in the real world.

This is the incredible. The awesome. The audacious.

Let us chop this verse up.

Who is he who made him to be sin?

He is God the Father. Sovereignly gracious. The Changer of destiny. The Chooser of the saved. The Adopter of the lost. The Savior of the man. Mindful of all. Source of all truth.

Who is him who knew no sin that was made to be sin by God?

He is Christ, the Son of God. Love overflowed. The gap between heaven and earth. The bridge between God and man. The bearer of our sorrows. The holder of our transgressions. The One who will make all things right.

What is sin?

Traitorous acts by creatures against the Almighty Creator. The breaking of God’s law that resulted in our disconnect to God by God from God for God and the decay, destruction, diseased, and death of the universe and everything within it.

Who are we?

Those who were foreknown by God, elected by God, called by God, atoned by God, whose wrath of God absorbed by God, whose sin is removed by God, adopted by God, set aside by God, nurtured by God, disciplined by God, raised by God to the glory of God forever.

What is the righteousness of God?

It is the perfection of God. This is not a standard that you can achieve through good moral behavior nor is this a grade that you can get to by maxing out every achievement. This is who God is, what he has done, what He thinks like, what He will do from eternity past to eternity present. Nothing you can ever do will give you enough points to make you righteous like him.

So how can I be in Him in order to become the righteousness of God?

Give him everything. Your trust. Your doubts. Your fears. Your worries. Your hurts. The pain you have caused. The troubles you have stirred up. The blasphemous thoughts you have thought. The good you failed to do. The bad you have done and will ever done. You give it all to him. You tell Christ, “This is the best I can do. This is now yours. Do with it what you must.”

Here is the exchange—the Great Exchange: Christ, in his perfection, sinless, holiness self, takes the best of what you have—your sin—and removes it all from you. In turn, Christ will always give you His perfection, hope, faith, righteousness, holiness, grace, mercy, tenderness, kindness and love.

In short, the question is “What is imputation?” or “How does God give everything that He has for everything that you have?

Answer: That is love.

Influences: Where Theology and Expectation Meet

Romans 15:17-21 In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

Lets play the ‘What if’ game.

What if his word sent out will not return void? (Isaiah 55:11)

What if the gospel is the power of God in salvation for those who believe? (Romans 1:16)

My theology and doctrine says that word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, God can bring the Gentiles to obedience to God.

My theology is real quick to proclaim that word, deed, signs, and wonders, all by the power of the Holy Spirit, brings about salvation. (Notice that the work of the Holy Spirit must happen before we can obey God.)

Now what are my expectations?

I challenge you just like my friend Alan Smith challenged me.

1. Either your expectations must be raised up to match your theology.

-or-

2. You will have to lower your theology in order to have it synced with your expectations.

Call it pride. Call it stubbornness. Call it what you will but I have no desire to ever lower my theology in order to match anything that I could offer.

I have chosen the former.