Morning Thoughts

The Way of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(1 Corinthians 13:1-7 ESV)

There is something about living the Christian life that should be appealing to anyone and everyone that encounters the Gospel.  Something that is so genuine, so open and so free that it is just pouring out of every member of the body.  The something is love.  As I sat last night and pondered over the words in this passage, begging for wisdom and guidance I recognized something within the words.  Paul is talking to the church in Corinth, a church that was so eager to use their spiritual gifts that they started to misuse them.  Paul’s words, His guidance was not to throw the gifts out, but to pursue them.  His exhortation down that line starts in 14, but the premise starts here.  The Way of Love.
As I read the words, I have to recognize two things.  First, Paul is again reiterating that regardless of the gifts and the talents that we have, without love they are nothing.  This is nothing new, as Christians we should know and operate out of love.  There is something much deeper going on in the words though, something that pulls at the strings of our character.  If we read the well quoted passage about the qualities of love, and we put into context of our character we find that the passage digs into our souls.  The deepest parts of who we are, and why we do what we do.
Our character should be patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it’s not arrogant or rude.
In a series of passages that talks about our spiritual gifts, we find that the apostle Paul is writing for an inward reflection, of an outward response.  If our character is love, that is who we are on the deepest level, it’s qualities will be reflected outwardly towards everyone.
So, my prayer for this morning reads something like this:
Father,
I know that my heart needs to be focused and refocused on the finished work of the Cross.  Your Son took my place, took my punishment and my guilt on that day.  He defeated sin and death, an accomplishment that only He could do.  I know that my heart doesn’t always reflect the nature of love, the perfect nature of Jesus.  I beg Father, that you continue work in my heart, that you continue to press me deeper into the Gospel and that you teach me how to love Your bride.  Let my character reflect Your nature, let my actions and my gifts flow from a heart that is deeply in love with You.  Wrap me in your arms, hold me, so that I might know the love that can only come from you.  Amen.

Wild and Wrecked

I have to admit that last week was rough and this week seemly is rougher, but something is different. Something is different, because I’m different. Last week I was bent on taking on the world. I was going to do something about everything. It was me against the world, and I was going to walk out all the world problems in a fit of rage.

This week someone said something to me, a comment that changed my prospective across the board. It’s not like it’s the first time that this particular person has said something like this to me, in fact I’m pretty sure that it’s the rock that smacked my soul around during sermon prep.

God is God and He loves His people, regardless of what side they are on currently. 

In the midst of war zones in Iraq, St. Louis and Israel, (just to name the headlines)  God loves His people and my job is simply to pray and witness the Good News of the Gospel.  The change that is so invigorating in my life, so undeniably real, that I cannot help but tell someone about it.   And that leaves me humbled in complete submission to the Creator.  

Who am I and where did I go?  That seems to be the question lingering in the air, the question that ultimately falls back into what is my identity in.  Does Christ define me or have I attempted to hijack my identity again?  It all boils down to who I rest under, is it Adam or is it Christ.  If it is Christ, I walk out my prayer in humble submission to the one that paid it all.  I begin to see people differently, and my thoughts and actions are transformed through my interactions with the living God.  If I rest in Adam, my thoughts and my actions reflect the broken nature of my flesh.

Let us not forget our identities as we walk out our faith, minute by minute, day by day.  

The God Delusion – Riding the Curtails.

As I continue this wonderful journey of diving deeply into the writings of a man, who on the surface hates all that is religion I am met with a deeper understanding of why on an intellectual level, people hate religion as a whole. You don’t have to read but several pages into The God Delusion and you can find the premise behind the entirety of the work.   Mr. Dawkings, in the preface presents his ultimate point, and something that we as Christians should consider.

Indoctrination of our children with religiosity, rather than grace is a grave mistake.

Richard would probably refute this as the premise to his work, and in some sense that is fine.  His goal is to scientifically disprove the probability of a God and mine is to simply learn from his work.   I’m sure that there are some that are reading this article and stopping at this point, with scripture flying through their well-trained brains to refute my point.

[6] Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)

[6] And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. [7] You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)

[14] But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] 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. (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV)

[19] For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19 ESV)

As you can see, the bible is very clear about the role of parents in the education of their children in the ways of the Lord.

I would humbly offer that the way of the Lord is grace.  It’s not the tribal language, nor the traditions of your particular church.  It’s assuredly not the ways of Christendom that have long failed in the desperate attempt to moralize and control society.  Grace, given through faith, as a gift, undeserved, is the root in which the life of the Christian steams.

This is not to say that traditions are worthless, or inherently wrong.  I personally believe that understanding the history of the Church is important, but it should not be the central teaching of parents to their children.  Instead, the traditions that are taught should point to the giver of grace, the one that walked out grace through every minute of His life, Jesus.  Central to all teaching, must be Jesus or we simply indoctrinate our children with religious idols, which will ultimately lead to destruction.

Dawkings’ point is very clear, and regrettably true.  As a Church, we have failed in many cases to articulate the doctrine of grace in words that children understand.  Admittedly, this is difficult to do especially after I offer that we should allow our children intellectually explore the world around them.  I present this idea, with the caveat that the community of believers that is influential on the child can open discuss the ideas and wonders of not only science, but of other religions as well.  We teach our children to engage the world, offering and understanding the prospective of grace.

The implications of the “Greats” in the bible ring so crystal clear here, it’s almost easy to miss.  When Jesus says,

[37] And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. [38] This is the great and first commandment. [39] And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. [40] On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

He’s giving us the teaching for our children.  Mr. Dawkings has no need to make his continued point that “religion” indoctrinates children and is the cause of so much strife in the world (more to come on that) if the generations of children where discipled, rather than indoctrinated.  If well-taught grace is the cornerstone of all teaching it should drive the Great Commission, out of love, not fear or religious duty.

[16] Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. [17] And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. [18] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. [19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 ESV)

In essence, we are fulfilling the Great Commission by teaching our children grace.  We stop allowing our children to ride on our faith, but rather explore the deeper truths that will in time be revealed to them through the Holy Spirit.

We as Christians need to stop pretending as if we are God and we have the ability to change the hearts of anyone, especially our children.  We need to model grace and teach the truths of the faith with razor sharp accuracy and undeniable meekness.

 

 

1 Corinthians 10:31

clouds

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  (1 Cor 10:31)

As I sit on a plane headed to Denver to spend sometime with my family, I ran right across this verse. lt was not particularly what “I” planned to contemplate as I’m in the middle of some theological writings, but alas l keep coming back to with a yearning heart.

What are the implications in our daily lives if we take this verse literally? (I read this as a prescription)

The first implication that immediately jumps out at me is the fact that my life is not my own. We can see this weaved in and out of the NT, the idea of complete sacrifice to God, our lives. Paul points out that your life is not your own, but to be used to preach the Gospel.
(1 Cor 10:31)

Has the gospel gripped you to the point that you will do whatever it takes (short of sin) to spread the good news?

What situations do you find yourself in, where you don’t glorify God? What about when you do?  What in the circumstance changes?

Do you feel like you glorify God in your daily life? If not, are you trying to earn God’s favor or are you worshiping?

Just some thoughts at 10,000 ft. in a tuna can.

Holy Spirit Thoughts and Reflections Pt. 1

After teaching out Francis Chan’s BASIC series on the Holy Spirit last night I’ve been in some deep prayer and thought about who the Holy Spirit is and how God uses the Spirit in us.  Lately, I’ve been exploring Shai Linne‘s Lyrical Theology Pt. 1 and he has some deep insight into the theological aspects of the Holy Spirit.

Take a listen here:

Lyrics:

Chorus

You gave us breath, you gave us life
Opened our eyes to see the Christ
Holy Spirit we worship You
Spirit of God we worship You

Now you live inside of us
You help us serve the God we trust
Holy Spirit we worship You
Without You we can do nothing at all

Verse 1

(tim)
Spirit of God, in ourselves we’re lifeless
So we ask You now for Your powerful help to write this
God the Spirit, we worship Thee
You’ve been one with the God the Father and God the Son for All Eternity!
One in Your Substance, One in Your Honor
Spirit–You are the love between the Son and the Father!
Spirit –You’re the Creator whom we are praisin’
Plus You’re God’s personal agent of re-creation!

(shai)
We see You at creation hovering over the face of the waters
You were faithful to order the waves and their borders
We spread death- the type to contaminate earth’s inhabitants
But You’re the breath of life that animates the inanimate
You filled Your servants with skill, knowledge and intelligence
To build the tabernacle where God and man could fellowship
Where the undeserving elect could serve You with reverence
Behind the curtain- Your essence, a picture of worship in heaven

(tim)
You revealed in Your Word- it says in, Ezekiel 37
Breath of God–You’re the Worker of Resurrection!
To raise from the grave the depraved and enslaved
A new race You’ll create through Christ, the perfect Servant-Shepherd

(shai)
Speaking of Christ, we can see Him in shadows and types
The prophets, kings and judges You empowered to battle and fight
You even had them write it down- the ultimate story
The sufferings of the Christ and the subsequent glories

Chorus

Verse 2

(tim)
Holy Spirit, for Your deeds we are stunned, in awe
Like how in the virgin’s womb You conceived the Son of God
Then when He was baptized within the Sea
On Messiah You descended to empower His entire ministry
Empowered His miracles He displayed that amazed men
Empowered Him to overcome temptations of Satan
To be the Firstborn from the dead of God’s New Creation of saints
From the grave You have raised Him- so You’ll raise them
Jesus promised You’d send His thoughts
You’re the anointing oil flowing from the King’s head at Pentecost
Down to His body, His kingdom You spread across
Making effectual the message of the precious cross!

(shai)
The book of Acts is not about the acts of the Apostles
But the acts of the Holy Spirit impacting with the gospel
Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria to Africa
Empowered your servants like Stephen when they were massacred
Ananias and Sapphira lied to You
So you put them both to death to show the church what a Holy God can do
You set apart Paul and Barnabas for the work of missions
You worked in the church’s division over circumcision
You take Christ’s objective cross work and vindication
And then apply it to the elect through regeneration
You saved us from the lake of fire, make us like our great Messiah
Graciously You take us higher- praise to You, our Sanctifier

(Chorus)

Verse 3

(tim)
You’re the Author of Scripture and its illuminator
Our God-given picture to see the Ruling Savior
Your thoughts are in-scripted on our hearts with conviction
And You’re the Father’s provision who renews our Nature

(shai)
With our nature renewed, now by grace we pursue
Conformity to the Savior through the faith that’s from You
The fruit You produce is proof that Your people are real
Directing our thoughts to Jesus when our evil’s revealed

(tim)
You reveal our evil and the mercy of the cross
And You seal Your people and ensure that none are lost
Spirit of Adoption, You disperse His love abroad
Within our hearts and spirits so we’re sure we’re sons of God!

(shai)
And with that blessed assurance, we’re set for the warring
We’re kept by Your warnings and we’re prepped for endurance
You provide gifts- even miracles assuredly
But fruit is a better gauge of spiritual maturity

(tim)
You unite us to Jesus so we can die to lust
Spirit of Christ- You’re the presence of Christ in us!
(You) already began His resurrection life inside of us,
so when He returns, by Your might we’ll rise from dust

(shai)
In Revelation, we see Your presence before the throne
Forever You will help us to reverence the Lord alone
You’re the source of all life and yet Your story’s precise
Amazingly, You do it all for the glory of Christ!

Chorus

 

Without going through and unpacking this bit of lyrical genius I think looking right back into scripture will provide some deeper insight into what the Bible presents as the Holy Spirit.

Warning: The rest of this writing is scripture based.  If you are looking for some level of what I think or what a certain denomination presents, you aren’t going to find it here.  We believe that the scripture is infallible and sufficient for our understanding.  What you are about to read may press your current beliefs or how you were raised.  Let the Holy Spirit guide your heart through the scriptures that are being presented and it is my prayer that my writing is driven by the Holy Spirit and that in turn you will find wisdom and understanding in my words.

Selective OT Old Testament Scriptures on the Holy Spirit:

The Holy Spirit as an agent in Creation:

Genesis 1:2 The earth was bwithout form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

As we see in Genesis 1:2 God presents the Holy Spirit right after he creates the Heavens and Earth.  We can derive several things from this passage.  First, God didn’t create the Holy Spirit.  He created the heavens and the earth and the Holy Spirit was with God and is God.  The idea of the Trinity is one of the few things in the Christian faith that we have to take on faith, because it can’t be explained by our limited knowledge.  I will eventually write on the Trinity but at this time we know that the Holy Spirit existed with God.  Second, the Spirit is an entity that comes down to the Earth.  It’s important to acknowledge this simply because the we see throughout the Bible the the Spirit falls on people and indwells in them.

 

Psalm 33:6 By pthe word of the Lord the heavens were made,  and by qthe breath of his mouth all rtheir host.

Ezekiel 37:1–10 The Valley of Dry Bones 37 dThe hand of the Lord was upon me, and ehe brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley;1 it was full of bones. And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. And he said to me, f“Son of man, gcan these bones live?” And hI answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, i“Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, jO dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause kbreath2 to enter you, and you shall live. lAnd I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and lcover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, mand you shall know that I am the Lord.”  So I prophesied nas I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, oa rattling,3 and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and …

1 Samuel 10:9–13 When he turned his back to leave Samuel, God gave him another heart. And all these signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came to vGibeah,4 behold, a group of prophets met him, oand the Spirit of God rushed upon him, and he prophesied among them. 11 And when all who knew him previously saw how he prophesied with the prophets, the people said to one another, “What has come over the son of Kish? wIs Saul also among the prophets?” 12 And a man of the place answered, x“And who is their father?” Therefore it became a proverb, w“Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 When he had finished prophesying, he came to the high place.

 

The Holy Spirit source of inspiration and power:

Ezekiel 11:14–21 Israel’s New Heart and Spirit 14 And the word of the Lord came to me: 15 q“Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen,2 the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, r‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet sI have been a sanctuary to them for a while3 in the countries where they have gone.’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: tI will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, tand I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, uthey will remove from it all its vdetestable things and all its abominations. 19 wAnd I will give them one heart, and xa new spirit I will put within them. yI will remove the heart of stone from their flesh zand give …

Ezekiel 36:22–32 I Will Put My Spirit Within You 22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: yIt is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, wwhich you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 zAnd I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. aAnd the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. 24 bI will take you cfrom the nations and gather you from all the countries and dbring you into your own land. 25 eI will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from fall your uncleannesses, and gfrom all your idols hI will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you ia new heart, and ia new spirit I will put within you. iAnd I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 jAnd I will put my Spirit …

Obviously, we are going to go very deep with this study.  My prayer is that you will continue to read and reflect on the passages above and contemplate not only the theological underpinnings of this study, but it’s practical application in your life.

 

Join me in some converstation about what we read here.  You can follow me on Facebook and on Twitter and we can continue to press into the gospel.

Also check out this Podcast called ‘The Helper’ which happen to spring up this morning.  God is good. Justin Buzzard does a wonderful job preaching out some practical aspects of the Holy Spirit.