Influences: How Did I Get Here?

Answer: God.

Well, that was easy.

In all seriousness, I got a tweet from a friend of mine:

Which, in turn, made me think: How did I get here? Why do I think the way that I do? Who has God used to shape my faith in Him, my knowledge of Him and my love of Him?

So, being a mere Kindergarten pupil in God’s kingdom, I thought I would take some time and write up what and whom influences me and shapes my worldview, philosophy, theology, doctrine, and love. In no real order, I am going to go through and list out the Biblical verses, books of the Bible, other books, people (dead and alive), blogs, ministries, and relationships that have been used by God to make me what I am now. I do this to help me step back from myself, see if I can see where I am going and more importantly, ask God if that is where He wants me to go.

This is me just externally processing but I am eager to see what all of this will look like.

How Can A Denomination Come Back From Liberalism?

. . . it is always wise to have a governing structure where the highest governing offices in the church and the highest positions of influence are open to lay people as well as ordained people. The denominations where only clergy have the highest of authority seem to be the ones that are never able to be brought back once they drift into liberalism because the ordinary lay people who have common sense and are reading their Bibles every day don’t have any way to regain control of a denomination that has gone astray if it has that kind of structure.

– Wayne Grudem, Interviews Highlights and Reflections

The Weight of Our Sin Pales in Comparison

There is no weight of sin that the weight of His glory is not heavier still. The is no shame so bright that His blood cannot blot out. There is no destructive guilt that God’s love that does not shield. There is no disease that God’s will does not heal. There is no death that Christ has not conquered. There is no pit that is so deeper that Christ is not deeper still. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus because in his presence is the fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore.

inspired by Corrie Ten Boom

The Desires of the New Heart Given to Me By God

2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Mark 3:28-30 Listen to the Holy Spirit

Mark 3:28-30 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” 

What is blasphemy?

Saying that God is something not when He is (i.e. goodness, faithfulness, just, loving, etc.) or saying that God is something when he is not (i.e. evil, wicked, capricious/whimsical, etc.).

What if you said Father is something or Jesus is something bad, will you be forgiven if you trust in God?
Luke 22:54-62; John 21:15-19

Why do we always respect and be nice to your Mom? What does your Mom do for you?

Who is the Holy Spirit? What does He do for you? What would it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit? Why can that not be forgiven?

Series: I have made mentioned of our family devotions on the Internets and gotten a few requests for my notes. So that is what I am doing just that here. Every Wednesday as a regular weekly series, I will share my notes that I write in preparing for family devotions.

A Pastor’s Promise

Having been made an overseer by the Lord Jesus Christ,
affirmed as such by His Church,
and enabled solely by His grace,

I commit to live in a manner worthy of His calling,
loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind,
always on guard for myself that I maintain a testimony that is above reproach;

I commit to preach His Word,
standing ready in season and out of season,
never shrinking to declare to you the whole counsel of God,
reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with great patience and instruction;

I commit to shepherd His flock,
whom Christ purchased with His own blood,
exercising oversight with humility, leading by example,
and equipping His saints for the work of the ministry;

I commit to be found faithful as His steward,
looking to Christ alone for both judgment and praise,
that in all things He might have the preeminence;

And by His grace,
I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls
because He, the Chief Shepherd, spent Himself for me.
To Christ alone be the glory.

AMEN

 – Tim White, A Pastor’s Promise

ht: 9 Marks

Here is Love: For All Time—Psalm 103:15-18

And here is love: Psalm 103:15-18 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

This is an amazing declaration. Not that life is short, but that God’s love is declared from infinity past and does not stop all the way to infinity future.

What that means to me is that no matter how I chop and slice up the space-time continuum, His love was always there.

This is what I mean about space and time. There is a common notion among Christians that God loved us because he looked upon my life, saw that I would trust in him and thus, He started loving me. However, this passage dismisses such a notion.

Look at the line: the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting. The fact we are talking about everlasting to everlasting suggest that God’s love for us did not have a starting point. And if the Psalmist called this love everlasting to everlasting then the love of God for us does not have a starting point does not have an ending point. That is the whole definition of infinity. (Didn’t think this would be a nerd-erfic post, did you?)

Look at the line once more: But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. It does not say, “because of those who fear him.” It clearly says, “… The steadfast love of the LORD is on those who fear him.” Not because but on. God’s love is there. It was on us because He put that on us. Why? He saved us.

We know that is truly amazing. And yet, the amazing doesn’t stop there. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him  and his righteousness to children’s children. What does that mean? The children and the grandchildren of those who are saved will also be saved? We have the entire history of mankind that states otherwise. Have you read the Samuels, Kings and Chronicles? Then you know it isn’t true.

My grandmother knew this verse. She never assumed that my dad’s, my own and my son’s salvation would be automatic. My grandmother prayed—prayed for 50 years before my dad was saved, prayed for 32 before I was saved, and prayed for 5 before my son was saved.

Therein lies the blessing. Children in a godly home are grown up blessed. The fact that you trusted in God and because you trusted God, you kept his covenant close, and obeyed His Word, your children will be blessed and their children will be blessed.

Now you might say, “I trust in God but my kids are balling out of control!” Let me tell you one story about one particular kid: my Dad. My Dad balled out of control for 30 plus years. God grabbed his attention by smashing his face through a windshield while driving drunk with no seatbelt. God pursued him by allowing brain cancer to threaten his life, but only to cure it through surgery. God rescued his family safely as my dad’s house burned to the ground. My dad still sinned even more. My dad’s life was spiraling out of control into the active wrath of God that is hell.

But my God loved my Dad before the heavens and the earth were formed. You would not know that for most of my Dad’s life. In his merciful, beautiful, gracious sovereign love, my God sent my Dad to prison. My Dad came to a place where he had nothing better to do than to engage with the Living God or rot in prison and die like he is suppose to do.

Now my Dad says this:

“Now my God did everything humanly possibly to grab my attention and He saved me. He finally put me in a place where I had no choice. Now, this is my home. This prison is my mission field. If my God would keep me here, to serve Him and to point others to Him until He calls me home, than I would be more than blessed.”

My Dad has done wicked things. So much so, that it landed Him in prison. But out of that wickedness and what my Dad intended for evil, God turned it around, used it for good to save my Dad’s soul.

The irony: He was saved before I was. Me who thought I was saved since I was 8 because said some magical words that I thought that could get me into heaven. God could have done it any other way but I know because the blessing started not with him or me but it started out with my grandmother.

Now the blessing is on my Dad with some of his kids balling out of control.

Now the blessing is on me and my kids are freakin’ awesome.

My hope and prayer is that, as God was beautifully merciful with my Dad and me, that he would be so beautifully merciful with my children and my grandchildren.

Mercy. Grace. Hope. Faith. Sovereignty. Power. Might. Holy. Righteousness. Blessing. You know what is called?

That is love.

 

Why Should I Live?

I have lived my life boiled down to one simple quote: Nicolaus Zinzendorf’s ‘Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten’ as to shine light on the meaning of 1 Corinthians 2:2 in my life. All of my studies and all of my toiling and to a much larger, unavoidable influence, the way that I love and live my life, are all wrapped in up that one little quote. It is a quote that I have mediated much on and it is a now philosophy I cannot let go. I am shaken to the core by it.

Often I ask myself, ‘What else am I suppose to do? Not preach the gospel? Not die? Not be forgotten?‘ To which I always answer myself, ‘Impossible!’.

Then I run into this quote:

My question—that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide—was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man… a question without an answer to which one cannot live. It was: “What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?” It can also be expressed thus: Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?

– Leo Tolstoy, A Confession, as quoted in The Reason for God by Tim Keller.

If I allow it, I could be haunted by Tolstoy. Let me think about when I am fifty—less than 13 years from now. Dying and be forgotten out of my control. But preaching the gospel? Let me mediate on the distinct possibility of never getting to preach, week in and week out. Let me dwell on the fact that I will never get to preach even just once. Let me think about never getting to teach and thus, never getting the opportunity to present the gospel of Christ.

It would be weird to go 13 more years and not be there. However, the sheer fact is that I have nothing else I can do. That is all I want to do. Day in and day out. Just do that.

So what if I don’t. Ah, but I have. A few times. God was so good to me and so loving to others that I got to do a little. And I will remember those times fondly. And I will look forward to the day when we won’t have to proclaim the gospel because I will be joyously satisfied seeing my Lord and God face-to-face.

The question might get asked, ‘How will you feel 13 years from now?’ To which I have to confidently answer: it won’t matter how I feel because I will have the Spirit of God dwelling in my heart and in my soul. He will always be with me from now until eternity no matter I how I feel, think, or do. My hope is not in my life, success of my marriage, the raising of my kids, or the success of my career but my hope is in perfect Christ alone. Because I hope in Him, I have hope for my life and loves.

Is it enough? Absolutely.

The Current Philosophies of Not Wanting To Think

“Every effort to account for the birth of the church apart from Jesus’s resurrection flies in the face of what we know about first-century history and culture. If you don’t short-circuit the process with philosophical bias against the possibility of miracle, the resurrection of Jesus has the most evidence for it.

The problem is, however, that people do short-circuit the investigation. Instead of doing the work of answering these very tough historical questions and then following the answers where they lead, they bail out with the objection that miracles are impossible.”

Timothy Keller. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. Dutton Adult, 2008. 211.