O Triune God, I Thank Thee

O Father, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast given me to Jesus, to be his sheep,
jewel, portion;

O Jesus, I thank thee that in fullness of grace
thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me;

O Holy Spirit, I thank thee that in fullness of
grace thou hast
exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me,
subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with him for ever.

– from The Trinity
The Valley of Vision

Raising Preachers of the Gospel

When I met these two girls about four years ago, I knew two things:

  1. They are thieves. They love to take your heart and never give it back.
  2. They love the Bible.

If you know me, I have many kids. But none of my kids had that spark, that interest… that proclivity that these two girls had in the word of God.

From the moment, I met them I knew that I would give them every ounce of theological and doctrinal training, every note, every book, every podcast, every video that I had not just simply to raise preachers and pastors—although that is a small part of it.

I would train them up so that they would know that we can and do worship God through our intellect. Some people worship God in song or being in the midst of nature. I want them to know it is way more than okay to worship God with fully engaging your mind as well as your heart.

To see them thrive and grow in their thinking and engaging with God and others over the last few years has been a complete joy for me.

Praise God and amen.

Featured image courtesy of Mae Burke Photography.

Mark 8:14–21 Jesus Opens Our Hearts So That We Might Receive God

Mark 8:14–21      Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

  1. According to Jesus, what was the miracles of the Loaves and Fishes really about?
  2. With every Miracle, what is God doing?

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.”

(Romans 15:17-21 ESV)

Mark 8:11–13 Jesus Opens Our Minds So We Now Understand God

Mark 8:11–13 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.

Luke 24:44-49 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.

  1. How can we understand God?
  2. How can we understand the Bible?
  3. If we do not understand something, who can we turn to?

Mark 8:1-10 Jesus Opens Up Our Mouths So That We May Now Be Fed by God

Mark 8:1–10 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

1. How many of us want something? What does it mean to want something? To desire something?

2. What is desire?
If we are hungry, we get food. But sometimes, we want not just slop. We can eat anything as long as it has the right nutrients.

3. What are some of your desires?

4. Where does desires come from? How big is that desire? (Genesis 1-3; Ecclesiastes 3:11)

5. If you eat once, will you get hungry again? If you desire lots of money, and you get lots of money, do you think you will stop wanting money?

6. If God fills that infinite space in your heart, will you be satisfied? (Psalm 17:15)

Mark 7:31-37 Jesus Opens Our Ears So We Now Hear God

Mark 7:31-37 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

1. This should not surprise anybody that God can heal the deaf and the mute. But why did Jesus perform this miracle.

2. After speaking at length with the Pharisees, it appears that they would not hear Jesus. For us to hear God, does God have to do something first?

1 Corinthians 2:9
But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

Mark 7:24-30 The Word of God Saves

Mark 7:24-30 And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” And she went home and found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.

1. How did the Jews treated Jesus?

2. How did this non-Jewish woman treated Jesus?

3. Who are the children that Jesus speaks of? Who are the “little” dogs?

4. Can we be saved by the family we are born into or the church that we attend?

5. What or who can save us?

6. Does God just give us a little crumb?

7. Would you trade your little crumb for anything else in the world?

Mark 7:14-23 The Word of God is Righteousness

Mark 7:14-23
And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

1. Can we do anything to that would make us evil, bad, or clean?

2. According to Jesus, where does evil come from?

3. Is the evil that we do makes us evil?

4. Is it the good that we do makes us good?

5. Who makes us good? Who gives us good hearts?

Bittersweet Like Chocolates

There comes a time and place when your kids won’t need you anymore. I am not talking about when they hit 18 years old and out the door one last time. I am talking about little milestones along the way.

Take for instance, Elijah.

We call him Bubs because he is.
We call him Bubs because he is.

This is our Bubs aka Bubba aka Bubba Lub aka Too Bubs aka Bubbiest. He does everything full throttle with the nitro line wide open. Fast as freak. Articulate as hell. Lover of Dinosaurs, Mama, Siblings, and especially Baby Sister Ivy.

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As soon as he was weaned off Mama’s milk, I have had the sweet pleasure of putting him to bed every single night for the last two years.

That was two years of holding him in my arms. Two years of praying over him and blessing him. Two years of trying to memorize Bible verses while he snored away.

Two years of being my constant companion during my most intimate, personal, and quiet times with God.

Two years in this same old green rocker.

bubs-green_chair

Last weekend, that all changed. We rearranged rooms and roommates. Now he is paired up with his big sister who goes to bed around the same time he does.

He still has a friend to help him sleep (along with some not-so-sweet almond milk.)

But he doesn’t need me anymore to help get him there.

In the blink of an eye, I no longer have to hold him. No longer sitting with him while he slowly goes to sleep. No longer having to take 1-2 hours a night watching him sleep.

“Bubba, lay down and go to sleep. Gracie is here and I will be right outside if you need me. I love you. Good night.”

And just like that, he goes to sleep.

Gosh, I cannot believe it.

Perhaps he was already ready to go to sleep on his own. I am thinking that I wasn’t ready to let him go so quickly.

I am so stinkin’ proud of him but I am also so sad and I am going to miss holding him during nightfall.

So I pray over him:

May the Lord bless you and keep you, Bubba. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; May the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. 1

Always, Bubba. I love you.

Papa.

Notes:

  1. Numbers 6:25-26

Mark 7:7-13 The Word of God is First

Mark 7:7-13

     … in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

     And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)—then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

1. Do we do what the church says? Do we do what the pastor says?

2. What if the church told you, “Don’t raise your hands when you sing to God.” even though the Bible says, “We lift our hands to God” (Psalm 28:2; Psalm 63:4; Psalm 119:48; Psalm 134:2; Lamentations 3:41; 1 Timothy 2:8). Then what?

3. What if billions of people said that this one person (not Jesus) who is the head of our church and whatever he says is equal to God?

4. Is the church totally perfect?

5. What do you do when the church says one thing, but you find something else in the Bible? What do you do? Who can you talk to? Where do you go for help?

What we shouldn’t do is rebel for rebel’s sake. But we should examine our creeds, doctrine, traditions continuously. Remember that no one is born with theology. It always must be learned anew.

The people before us did the work already, but it wasn’t for a lifetime. That work barely makes it out of their generation. Some of us read dead guys but we are in the smallest minority. Even still, they wouldn’t answer some of the questions that we now face.

It is with that in mind that we must not assume traditions. It think it was the intention of Church Fathers that we mustn’t assume traditions. We must be diligent to ensure that what we do and say and believe lines up with the word of God first before giving way to man-made traditions.

However, the flipside of that thought is a stern warning: because we have done it a certain way for so long is not a good enough reason to stop doing or stop believing a certain way. With a tradition, creed, or doctrine, just because it is old, doesn’t make it wrong. Traditions might ebb and flow, give and take according the culture and the world around but creeds are proclamations of truth while doctrine is simply the teaching of the word of God. First, we must humbly admit that we do not know the Bible all that well. That is, the word of the Infinite God is much more than the thoughts that can be glean from one complete read of the Bible. That we must do well not judge the Bible accordingly to our own leanings, philosophical understandings,  feeligns, and prejudices and but rather let the Bible judge those assumptions. If I want something theologically or morally to be true, then humbly admit so and bring that want to the Bible.

That might seem like a far-fetched jump but to examine our assumptions is really a question of the heart. The question comes down, “Do I want what I want or do I want what God want?”

Here’s the choice: get nothing or get everything.

If I go after my own desires, I get an empty, broken heart. If I want something that God says is not good or is good but not complete, I might obtain that but that thing is finite: whether that be money, fame, marriage, relationships, kids, job, Whatever. Finite things do not fill an infinite heart. Only God, who is infinite, does that. 1

However, we know that God gives the desires of a new heart that was given to us by God. With a new heart by God, we desire God who gives Himself freely to us. Since He is infinite, we fills our hearts and then, we are satisfied not just now but forevermore. 2

Notes:

  1. Ecclesiastes 3:11
  2. Ezekiel 11:14-21 cf. Psalms 37:4, Psalms 16:11