Thursday, December 3, 2015

Suffering for Christ

      There are so many places around the world that people suffer daily for their faith and belief that Jesus is the Christ and Ruler of all. People are killed, fired from their jobs, disowned by their families, and thrown into prison. These are just a few of the many ways that Christians around the world are forced to live and are used to display the glory of God in a way that most Americans have never experienced. This however, is going to and has already begun to change. The church in the USA needs to wake up and realize that the ways that God is planning to use them is about to change dramatically from the ways in which they are accustomed.

     No longer is it the "cool" thing to do to claim that you are a Christian. If you proclaim the truth of Christianity you will be frowned upon and asked to be quiet. You will be asked to step down from your positions at work, to change your beliefs, and to keep your thoughts to yourself. This is something that Christians must realize and draw a line in the sand.

    Truth does not change just because a culture has changed. Just because someone tells you to think a different way or to live a different way does not mean that that is what God has called you to do. For those Christians who have never experienced persecution, run to the scriptures. This is the only place where you can find solace and comfort in a time such as this. For those Christians who have experienced persecution before, stand strong in the faith. Lead by example and show those who follow what it truly means to give all for the cause of Christ. Just as the apostle Paul suffered and persevered, so also are we to suffer and look to Christ for our strength and courage.

    Sin cannot win, it cannot conquer and it has already been defeated. Jesus bought our righteousness before the foundation of the earth and thereby defeated death, sin and the grave. This was manifest through His work on the cross for the salvation of those whom He chose for His glory before the world began.

    Stand strong brothers and sisters. We do not fight alone and we do not serve a feeble God. We serve a mighty and wonderful God who has already won the battle. Though our flesh may be destroyed we will not. Suffering is coming and everyone who bears the name of Christ will experience it. It is not something to be feared, but rather something to expect to be used to shine forth more beauty and grace so that others may see and come to know the saving faith of our Lord.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Holiday Musings

   There have been so many thoughts going through my head recently. Ranging from people's holiday decorations, people's perspectives on the world, the salvation of God's elect, and all the way to what it means to love and be loved. I could go on all day about these points, but I would like to just touch on each briefly in order to give a place for others to explore them as well.

   First holiday decorations. I love decorating for Christmas, it gives me a chance to think about the many ways that my Lord has been gracious to me and has blessed me. However, there are so many people that don't understand anything about what it means to be saved by the grace of God. They put up lights of every color and design, some of them even putting up Christian themed lights without any clue or desire to understand what they mean and stand for. Let us use decorations to encourage, bless, and strengthen those we come in contact with.

   Second, people are supposed to be "nicer" around the holidays. I have found this to be ludicrous. A person doesn't actually change for a certain time of the year. They are who they are all the time. They may attempt to act a certain way to be perceived by those around them as being a certain way, but if they aren't that way all year round, then that is not who they really are. There are so many people that don't even enjoy the holidays. Instead of enjoying their family and making memories together, they stress about gifts, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and decorating. Instead of worshiping the King of kings, they worry about how they look, are perceived, and whether or not they will offend someone. They think that if they can just do something right, it will bless someone else. This just isn't true, God blesses people, no matter what you do.

   Third, this is the time of year that we most hear about the birth of our Savior and His plan for salvation. So many people take His plan and distort it into something that is hideously ugly and man centered. They tell those around them that they have the power over salvation and that they can control their own destiny. Someone recently asked how I could believe that God had already either condemned or elected for salvation every single human being ever. How I could believe that since I have children. The answer is simple. Do I believe that God is on His throne and is in control of my life and the life's of everyone else? Yes, I do. Do I believe that He does everything for His glory? Yes. Do I believe that He loves me in such a way that He does all things for my good? Yes. Then I must trust Him to redeem those whom He has providentially chosen before the foundation of the world. If God isn't the one who controls the salvation of people, then man does and that scares me. For man has never been able to do anything good, so what makes some people think that man would make good executioners of their own salvation? It is extreme folly to believe that God sits in heaven wringing His hands hoping that people choose Him over themselves. God knocks down the door to our heart and completely sacks every part of it, leaving nothing left. If God does not save fully, He does not save. I believe that God has chosen everyone before the foundation of the world which gives me comfort to know that neither age, smarts, or physical handicaps can keep any of my children from the grace of God, because there is nothing that they can do to receive it.

   Fourth, I have been completely and utterly amazed by the beauty in Shane & Shane's song "So I Can Love". It seems to me to be one of the best presentations of the gospel and how we are to live it out that I have ever heard in song. In the song they proclaim that if we have breath in our lungs and blood in our veins, there must be a reason that we are alive. So many people think that there are so many reasons that they are alive. To care for family, to work, to teach, to give. However, in their song Shane & Shane make a profound statement. That the only reason we are alive is to love. At first listen this may sound odd and even overly simple to many people, leaving something to be desired. However, I want people to dig deeper. If we are alive to love what does it mean to love? The first thing that we should think of is that scripture tells us that God is love. Ok, so we have two things then. We are to love, but loving someone means that we bring God to them or show them God. If we are to God (love) others, shouldn't this mean that no matter the consequences or the cost, we show them what it means to be loved? For those who are apart from God have never experienced love.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Who Are You??

    Over the past several days I have heard some of the most two sided discussions about the Syrian crisis and it's refugees. On the one hand you have people proclaiming that we need to protect ourselves and that it isn't safe to bring over these refugees. The other side says that we shouldn't just let them in, because there is a vetting process so that takes care of how they come to the USA. I would like to point out several things within this discussion and several key issues when trying to understand it's proponents.

   First is the question of who we are. Not who we are as Americans, for that is merely the place where we reside. But who we are as people. God created us in such a way as to be able to have unique differences in our personalities, skin color, height, and so on. However, there is one thing that rings true for every single person that God has created. That is the simple fact that He has created them.

    So our first response should be that we are God's creations and that those of us who proclaim a saving knowledge of God should know this more than anyone. Secondly, we must then ask; what is the difference between these Syrians and myself? Some may answer and say that they are evil, terrorists, and hate Americans. While this may be true of some of them, could this not have been said about you before Christ's light broke into your heart? You may not have hated Americans or been a terrorist in the sense that you attempted to kill other human beings, but the truth of the matter is that you were a terrorist and you were evil. The only difference was that your evil and terror were aimed at a Holy God rather than mere man.

   Who are we as Christians to even begin to say that we know the reason for what goes on in the world. However, I think that this article by David Crabb lends a beautiful picture to one reason why it could be happening. In his article Crabb mentions the idea that maybe God is bringing all of these Syrians to our country is so that God's will for their salvation might be brought to fruition. What an amazing thought that this is! It fits directly with what scripture tells us, that others can mean things for evil and yet God uses them for the good of His people. What if in order to reach those whom He has elected and chosen He is bringing them directly to us?!
   So many Americans want to live in fear and concern about their own safety and they forget Who actually keeps them safe. It isn't the government, law enforcement, or weapons. It is God Almighty who keeps us safe in our beds at night, as we work, as we travel, as we pretend to make our own security decisions. Without God's blessing, none of those things would work. They would all fall apart and fail to do what we have designed them to.

   My question then is this. Are you a Christian that believes in a sovereign God who controls all things and cares for those who He has called unto Himself? Are you frightened of mere man and the damage that he may cause or do you rest that your God is in control of your safety? Are you worried that your selfish desires and wants may be taken away? Are you concerned first and foremost about the spreading of the gospel to the lost and dying? Are you too proud and arrogant to stand for those who cannot defend themselves? Are you willing, as Christians throughout the ages have done, to lay down your life for the gospel? Are you willing to place your trust in the only One who can truly protect you and your family? Who are you truly?

   Being a Christian isn't easy, and yet God calls us to be holy for He is Holy. Please join me in praying for the salvation of those seeking refuge and searching for some comfort in their time of need.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Fog Lifting

    Recently I have seen a lot of fog coming off of the river that I drive alongside as I travel to work. Each time, I struggle to see the road, the other cars on it, and to make sure that I am driving safely. I am amazed at how easily the sun breaks through and causes the fog to dissipate in an instant. It reminded me today about the way that God breaks through to us when He reaches into our hearts and minds and creates something beautiful.

    Before God makes us new, we live as though we see the world through a fog. We see glimpses of beauty, sunshine, joy, and wonder. Yet, we just can't see enough to cause us to be truly amazed and awed. When God removes the veil from before our eyes, it is just like watching the sun destroy the morning fog. It runs away and cannot hide. It pulls back to reveal such beauties that we could never have imagined to exist in the world.

    God does the same thing to our minds and hearts. We were unable to understand, see, or believe. Then God does something that we have nothing to do with in order to give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and minds to understand. The fog is lifted and we cannot contain the joy and the grace that we have been shown abounds more than we could ever imagine.

     As we approach the holidays, may we all be grateful most of all for the work that Jesus did, both through His life and His death, for those whom He has chosen even before the creation of the world. We can be thankful for the many worldly blessings that we have, but if we do not realize the most important thing to be thankful for, then we have missed the entire point. The early things do not matter, but the things of God remain forever! May you be the tool used to remove the fog from someone's eyes, or to lift it from their minds. May you shine forth the rays of God's truth to the ends of the earth in order to proclaim His goodness and mercy towards those whom He has chosen. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

True Beauty

    What does it mean to truly appreciate and learn from creation? This is something that constantly causes me to ponder about the beauties that God has placed within our lives. We see so many things in life that are truly of the glorious in splendor and majesty, and yet we completely neglect to thank God for them and the pleasure that they bring to us.

    For instance, yesterday was quite a gloomy rainy day. There wasn't much going on that would draw the eye to the splendor of God's beauty. His sustaining mercy and power, sure, but not much towards His beauty. However, this morning began with a gloriously bright sun shining through the crimson, orange, and yellow foliage draping the surrounding hillsides and forests. There was a peace ringing through the air, as if to proclaim that everything had been washed clean and that all was new again. The clouds in the sky were sparse and the ones that were there looked like an inviting cool pillow on a hot summer's day.

    My mind was drawn to this beauty as I was driving to work. It caused me to wonder at the extreme majesty of a creator that holds everything in His power and sustains the very creation that we often ignore. I was reminded of a song by Warren Barfield. In it he proclaims the message that if we do not experience certain things in life, that we will not understand or know the true value and worth of others. This was ringing loud and true in my ears as I gazed upon the majestic. If we did not experience rain and darkness, would we really appreciate the light and beauty of the sun and it's warmth? If we did not experience the depression of the clouds and their darkness, would we ever understand what the gospel ever does to a person's darkened heart when the Light of Truth breaks into and shines with such brilliance that all you can do is stand in awe?

    Not everything that we see will cause us to be amazed and astounded. Some things will cause us to be sorrowful and depressed. However, we serve a God who is all powerful and cares deeply for those whom He has called unto Himself. So take heart on the days when the rain falls, the clouds rolls in, and darkness descends, for there is one thing that will always remain true and will always stand. That is  the simple fact that God is in control, and nothing can contain His beauty. It will always shine through and will always follow times of darkness in the lives of those who love Him.

    So be encouraged and take heart. Take some time to reflect on the beauty of God and to embrace the majesty shown forth through His creations.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Where Does Your Hope Lie?

    This morning I am reminded of my Lord's sovereignty and mercy. I am reminded of this in a way that most people would think is callous or cruel. This morning I saw the news about the shooting that took place out in Oregon yesterday. Once again, the persecution that was guaranteed to us as Christians was poured out upon the individuals involved in this shooting. The gunman was specifically looking to shoot Christians. This isn't the first time that this has happened, and it won't be the last. It is something that we have been promised to receive by Jesus.

     While I am saying that this is something that was promised, I am also saying that we need to mourn with the families of those who have been taken from this world. We need to grieve for our brothers and sisters that have lost loved ones and now must deal with the results of what happened. However there should be much pride and comfort found by those same families, if the individuals families are also Christians.

     Pride in knowing that when push came to shove, their loved one stood for the only thing that really matters and paid the ultimate price for it. Their Savior died for their sins, and they in turn gave their life to proclaim that He is in fact God and Lord of all. They should take comfort in knowing that God is sovereign and therefore has each and every one of our days numbered. We cannot live longer than He has planned and we will not die by any means that He has not ordained. Therefore those who proclaimed Jesus as Lord and were killed went to be home with Him. To ease all their pain and to rejoice in His beauty for all eternity.

     There have been people who throughout history have lived this to the fullest and proven to lead in such a way as to give strength to the weary and wisdom to those in need. One man who stands out to me is Stonewall Jackson. He received his nickname through the example he led with on the battlefield. He proclaimed to his soldiers that God knew his time and that he could not die before then, so he felt just as safe standing in the midst of bullets as he did lying in his own bed. Oh to have a faith and strength to believe like Jackson's.

     While this event is a horrific event and one filled by the sinful actions of one person. It is also filled with the glorious testimony of all those who stood to proclaim Christ's love towards a man who wished them dead because of their faith. They did not stand for their own benefit, for it led to their death or injury, but rather they stood in order to proclaim that Jesus lives, rose from the dead, and is coming again for His bride.

      While this event is extremely difficult to deal with for those involved and for their loved ones. We must proclaim to the world that our God is in control, that He does all things for the good of those who love Him, and that His glory is His goal. If we cannot attest to these things, then we cannot affirm the Christian faith. While it may sound callous to those who are not of God, it is in fact the truth. If God is not in control then He is not God. If He does not do all things for the good of those who love Him, then He is a liar and not God. If everything is not for His glory, then He is not God because He would desire something more than Himself.

      Join with me then in praying for the families of those in need of our love and support through this time. At the same time, rejoice with those brothers and sisters that have now gone to be with our King, and sing His praises for all to hear. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Beauty and Angst of God's Creation

   Over this past weekend I traveled with my family to see the Niagara Falls. We drove all morning, walked around all afternoon taking pictures, and then drove home in the evening. It was a fun day out together as a family. We were able to enjoy a sunny, albeit very hot, day while admiring the beauty and power of the falls. I was continuously struck by a single thought. What power and might there is contained in the flow of water through the river coming to a culmination as it froths over the edge and pounds the rocks beneath to its will. I was struck with the thought of where the water came from, and Who controls it. It amazed me that so many people, millions actually, would come to see this majestic sight every year, and yet so many of those people would never even think about or recognize that the power behind and control of these falls is God alone.

    As we strolled down the man made concrete sidewalks, I pondered the difference between them and the enormous cliffs that the river had carved through solid stone in order to reach its proper destination. In many ways, this reminded me of the majesty and awe inspired by the Grand Canyon. I thought about the many ways that man attempts to protect and upkeep its creations (the sidewalks) and the struggle that they have in doing so. Yet, God has complete control over one of the most powerful and forceful river/falls that exists in the world, and He never struggles to control its reach, its force, or its depth. This is amazing and glorious to me. What if God decided that He would no longer hold this river to its current course? What if He wished to move it over a couple hundred feet to one side or the other? What would people think?

    I think that most people would proclaim that a disaster had happened, that they would curse God for the destruction created by such a change. However, I think that this is the wrong way to view God's creation and His control over it. He not only controls every aspect of His creation, but He also sustains it and causes it to do His bidding. Instead of merely watching it flow with such gusto through the banks that attempt to contain it, He decrees what ways it may expand or contract and how forceful it may propel itself over the precipice.

    The amazing part about Niagara Falls is not the falls themselves. No, the amazing part about the falls, is that they actually have a creator that continues to mold and shape their course. God created something that draws millions of people to their edge every year, and yet those same people would claim that they do not know God, that they do not believe in Him, and that He does not exist. This should not only haunt us, but should also cause us to rejoice. It should haunt us in that most of the people that see this sight every year, they reject God outright by rejecting His creation as being His. It should cause us to rejoice in that God has given us grace to see His beauty and mercy.

    I have seen and heard claims about the ways in which the falls, and the extending river walls were created. Yet, the easiest and best explanation for how/why it was formed and for the way it was formed is found simply and clearly within the pages of scripture. People try to come up with all of these outlandish ways by which things may have been created, and yet the most simple is this. In the book of Genesis we see the description of a massive flood, covering all of the earth. Upon its retreat it would have created massive gorges throughout the world. This is the most likely cause for such an amazing sight such as Niagara Falls. Sure, the river cuts away some of the ground over time and creates different angles and edges. However, the most likely cause was the reduction of the flood of the Bible.

    I challenge anyone who believes in the God of the Bible to journey, at one time or another, to Niagara Falls. Not for the touristy things surrounding them, but to see the majesty and beauty of your Creator shining through in such a way as to show you a glimpse of the might and power of His word.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Peaceful Acceptance

    Recently I went on vacation with three of my family and three of my siblings. We went to Prince Edward Island where I have so many memories. A place that holds a dear dear place in my heart. I was all ready to do exactly what I wanted on the trip. Enjoy the beach and being outdoors all day long. God however, had other plans. A storm got stuck over the Canadian Atlantic Provinces and the weather was not very good for being at the beach the whole time that we were there.

    At first I was sorely disappointed and frustrated that I went all that way only to be met with "bad weather" the whole time. However, after the first couple of days, I didn't care. I began to realize that I was being extremely selfish and needed to see what God was showing me through the "bad weather". The first thing that I realized was that I needed to relax and enjoy the people I was with just as much as the place. The second thing that I noticed was that what I was considering bad weather, wasn't really bad weather at all. The many many farmers on the island had been praying and longing for rain all summer long. It had been a poor summer up until that point for them as their crops were struggling. So instead of the weather being bad, it really was a gift from the Lord to those in desperate need of some precipitation.

    I also realized that even though the weather wasn't exactly how I wanted it to be, it allowed us to see some really cool scenery that wouldn't have looked the way it did if it wasn't overcast and stormy. My wife and sisters were able to take some really amazing photos of the clouds, the water, and the power that they seemed to proclaim. It was if God was telling us that even though we had desired to be at the beach and enjoy the sunshine, instead we needed to see His power and majesty displayed through the storms and weather. It seemed as if we were getting a glimpse into pieces of the conversation that God held with Job. The sheer force of the wind and the way it could bend trees, grass, and flowers with ease made me realize just how little I am and how unimaginably great our God is.

    The first night that we arrived on the island, the water was calm, peaceful and very relaxing. It was wonderful to stand on the beach with a gentle breeze blowing and to feel the warmth of the setting sun. However, to see the amazing power that the ocean began to show over the next few days between the current and the waves caused me to become excited. I love seeing the waves crash with such amazingly incredible strength against the cliffs in Cavendish. To know and actually understand that God, the ruler of the universe controls those waves and tells them when to exceed their bounds and when to stay exactly where they are is something that makes me quite giddy. How can we not marvel at who God is when we are struck with such beauty and power combined all together to form one majestic piece of creation?

    So, we didn't get to go swimming and be at the beach every day that we were there on P.E.I. Many people would then conclude that all the driving that it took to get there wasn't worth it. That the money spent was thrown away and that the vacation was just not what it was supposed/should have been. However, here is what I contend. If by not having the most perfect weather and everything being exactly as expected it caused me to see God to be more beautiful and more lovely than I had before, does this then not mean that every penny that was spent was well worth it? Does not the nourishment of our soul mean so much more to us than the nourishment of the flesh?

     I love that island more than any place on earth. It contains more beauties of God's creation than anyone can even imagine unless you have been there and have seen a sunset set over Covehead Harbor. Or climbed upon the deep dark red cliffs of Cavendish to listen to the pounding of the waves upon the earth and to see the way that the mist dances in the air, spraying all those nearby with droplets of grace and mercy. To watch the small red foxes as they lay on a bench, content with the world, knowing that their creator takes care of them. To see the wild lupine growing with such amazing colors that only an artist could begin to conceive their very existence. To see the bright red dirt that covers everything that it touches with its hue and cannot be gotten rid of, until God provides a downpour to wash away all of the dirt and dust that has accumulated. To smell the thyme growing wild and free, just like the island upon which its roots dig for nutrients. To see the rolling hills and fields, covered with miles and miles of the most amazing potatoes that one could ever eat. Strawberries that grow to be the brightest red you have ever seen, and melt into the sweetest, tastiest, and delicious treat you have ever tasted. To walk the streets of Charlottetown and seeing the amazingly extreme variety of individuals that God has brought to one small city for one reason or another. To see the wind surfers being pulled with an incredible force and speed  that causes one to wonder how it does not tear their crafts to pieces. To feel water that warms your soul as you wade out to one of the many sandbars that exist in Anne's Land. To see a Great Blue Heron catching its prey with meticulous design in Stanhope Bay.

    To enjoy the extreme beauty of a place like this is to gain a glimpse into the very mind of God. To think about what type of God we serve that has the ability and desire to create something so amazing and wonderful for us to enjoy. Something that displays His glory in a way that no person can fully understand or know without experiencing these beauties for themselves. You can tell someone constantly that a certain food you have discovered is the most amazing thing you have ever tasted. However, until the person you are telling actually tries it themselves, they will never understand and never know what exactly they are missing. This is what the Island of Prince Edward is to me. It rings forth the beauty of a Savior who alone created and sustains. It brings people together and causes them to relax beneath a sky that appears like you could reach out and grab the clouds to ride upon them. It causes you to see new and more beautiful pieces of a God who has unveiled Himself through His creation in such a way that we cannot even begin to fully understand. On this island, even the crows seem to sing a more beautiful song for their Creator. Joyfully flying through the air and cawing out their praise and delight for being alive in order to glorify God.

     I know that many, if not most, people will never be able to visit my beloved Prince Edward Island. So I encourage you to seek out and to try to find pieces of creation that speak to you in the same way that this island speaks to me. But for those of you who read this and are able to visit P.E.I., please remember that when you are there that it has not been created for you and your desires, but rather to grow, stretch, mold, and shape you into someone who can see a new and different majesty and part of our Holy God, Creator of all.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Broken Heart

   It would seem, that in our culture today, words have no meaning whatsoever. One person can claim that a means something and then refuse to hold it to be true the next. Another person can say that they believe a word refers to certain actions or statements, and then they refute those same beliefs with their very next sentence. I think that it is here where we see so much strife and conflict. Christians claim that they believe the Bible, but then turn around and tell the world that they only think certain parts of it still hold true today. People claim that everyone should be "loved" and that everyone should be "tolerant".

   There are so many people that claim one thing, and then refuse to live it out. Over the past week I have seen so many comments of; "you are hateful", "you are not tolerant, you just need to be more tolerant", "love wins, why won't you be more loving", and "the Bible is full of lies and isn't worth being used as toilet paper." This is where we are as a culture. Not only are Christians claiming to follow Jesus and then turning around and telling the world that they don't have to follow everything He says. They are making the statement that their God isn't in control and didn't know how to make His word stand true for all time.

   So on the one hand we have people claiming to be Christians, and yet refusing to follow what they claim to believe. On the other hand we have people declaring that the issues at hand have to do with equality and freedom, while in fact they refuse to listen to what any one else with a different opinion has to say. They refuse to allow others to proclaim what they believe to be true and right, even though they are demanding that that is the response that they receive.

   So, really I think that we have three different groups in our society right now. The first are those who stand upon scripture as the basis for all arguments and discussion. These are the ones that declare sin to be sin and proclaim the gospel in love, even if it doesn't want to be heard. The second group is much different than the first.The second group hates God. They hate everything about Him and what His church does and teaches. They fight for things, not because they are just, but because they are selfish and arrogant. They desire more and more self pleasure so that they might feel better about themselves. All the while not realizing that the only thing that can make them feel better is the very thing that they despise and hate so much. These first two groups are very easy to see and understand. They have always existed. Those who love God and follow His commands and those who hate Him and refuse to follow His commands. It is the third group where people begin to blur the lines and confuse things. In this third group, you not only have people who claim to follow God, but they also proclaim their own selfish desires above the will of God. They are not merely saying that they struggle with something and therefore do not deserve the mercy of God. Rather, they proclaim that the word of God is broken, old fashioned, has been interpreted wrongly for two thousand years, or just not useful in today's world in certain areas. This group scares me. Not only are they claiming to know God while not really following His commands. They are the ones speaking the loudest and getting the most face time. So not only are those who are lost receiving approval for what they are doing, they think that they are receiving it from God. Why? Because those claiming to be the church are agreeing and approving what they are doing. There are many passages in scripture about this third group. They are called wolves in sheep's clothing. They claim to follow God but really have their own agendas. They are there to solely devour those who humbly and faithfully follow after God's Word.

   The church must rise up. We must stand upon scripture just as Martin Luther once did. We must proclaim the beauties of Christ to all we see, beauties that they attempt to hide from. If the church does not rise up for truth and truth alone, then we are condemning those that we truly love to live in their sin. We are telling them that their soul does not matter to us. That if they want to go on in sin, then that is their problem. No!! It is not just their problem, it is ours as well! God has called us to preach the gospel. If we refuse to do that, are we not like Jonah? God has called us to call for repentance, and we must learn from Jonah. If we attempt to call for repentance as Jonah did, wishing for their destruction of how sinful are we? We must come before our loved ones, begging them to turn, to listen, to seek after God. If we do not, then we are not doing what God has created us to do. If we are not bringing glory to His name, then are we not to be described as fools like the apostle Paul listed in I Corinthians? If we truly believe what the Bible says, we must speak, encourage, proclaim, and plead.

    It is only through God's grace and mercy that anyone will come to Him. However, He has called us to be the instruments to do so! Let us join with Esther! For have we not been created and instructed by God for such a time as this. We cannot remain silent. We cannot be ashamed. We cannot be timid. We must rise and stand for truth. Just as John Huss, Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, and so many others have stood for the truth before us. Please, please rise up to proclaim, not for our own benefit, but for the glory of God the truth and righteousness that can only be found in Christ. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Letter to Bruce Jenner

Dear Bruce,
    I have heard through media outlets about the "transformation" that you have gone through over the past year and would like to say just a few things to you about it. I do want to clarify that these things are not said with hate or malice, but rather through a heart that breaks and yearns to see peace and forgiveness found within your and your family's life. I do not "hate" you or despise you for what you have done, but rather hurt and yearn to see healing in your heart. Healing that would mend any wound that you may have.
   I do not assume to know how you think or feel, since I have never met you. However, I do understand a yearning that cannot be satisfied. A yearning that causes a man to have the drive and energy to obtain a gold medal in a decathlon can only be described as tremendous and committed. However, I do not believe that such a drive came only from a desire to accomplish a great feat, but rather through a desire to fill an empty space in your life. An attempt to give your life meaning and purpose that it so desperately lacked.
   When this failed to fill the void in your life, just as athletic success has failed to do so for so many others, you again began to search for something to fill the void and emptiness that you felt. I believe that this is where you turned towards having a family. You claim now that you have been living a lie and hiding this desire to transform yourself for many years, and yet you married, had a couple of kids and seemed to be enjoying living in the lime light. However, there was nothing in all of it, not the money, the fame, the success that could even come close to filling the hole that you felt existed in your life. So, now you turn to what you feel is the next step in attempting to achieve the happiness that has for so long eluded you.
   I have some good and some bad news for you. First, the bad news. You are under the wrath of God for your sins. Not only have you turned and disgraced the body that God created you in, but you have also claimed to know more than the almighty creator as to what is the best way to live your life. "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 ESV) I would like to clarify with this verse that unless you repent of your sins, and turn from your wickedness, you will not stand amongst those who, as this verse says, have been bought with a price. That term is reserved for those who have fallen on their knees seeking forgiveness with a broken and contrite spirit. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27 ESV) God clearly has created you to be a male and nothing you do to your body can change that fact.
   The bad news does not stop there. Not only is what you have done to your body sin, but also every other thing that you have ever done against the command and decree of a Holy and Just God is also sin. Unless you turn from that sin, you will perish in hell for eternity. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 ESV) So many people think that when they die, that they will finally be free from God and those who talk about him. However, this is not true. When we die there are two places that we can go. The first is to hell, where we can suffer the full wrath of a just God being poured out upon us for the rest of eternity. The second is to heaven. Heaven however, is reserved for those whom God has called unto Himself and chosen for redemption through Christ Jesus. This redemption can only be gained through repentance and the work of the Holy Spirit upon your life.
   Here is the good news. No matter what you have done, if you seek God's face through repentance, you will find forgiveness. "I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me." (Proverbs 8:17 ESV) "Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile." (Jeremiah 29:12-14 ESV) "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:1-6 ESV)
   I know that there must be deep pain between you and your family right now. Your children have lost the person who is their father. Instead of being the leader of your home and guiding them you have chosen to abandon them and forsake all of your duties that you have as a father. I plead with you to look the Father for guidance and forgiveness in this matter. He never leaves His children and cares for all of His creation. "Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”' (John 6:35-40 ESV)
   The last thing that I would like to say to you is this. There is forgiveness at the cross where Jesus died. Many people before and many people after you will experience the grace and peace that only forgiveness through Jesus Christ can bring. I encourage you to delve into the Holy Scriptures and to seek out those who will provide you with sound counsel and advice in these matters. However, first and foremost seek the Scripture for answers. All things in this life must first comply with God's decree for how things out to be done and if something is contrary to that decree, then it is sin. No matter how many people "accept" you as you are in this moment, I cannot do the same. Rather I plead with you in love and a broken heart in concern for your soul and not your feelings. For if I do not stand and proclaim what God tells us is true, am I not myself sending you to hell? This I cannot do, therefore I proclaim that you are a sinner and that you need to repent of your sinful lifestyle and actions.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What Matters Most?

   There are so many issues today in our culture that it can be dizzying to try to figure out where you stand on them all. However, there is a method that is tried and true, that has withstood the test of time. Sola scriptura. There are so many issues that we can easily see where to stand if we would just read and believe our Bibles.
   We try to change what the Bible says to fit our needs, to keep people from disliking us, and to keep current in the culture. These are all horribly wrong attempts of trying to use the Bible for ones own sinful reasons. The Bible speaks the truth on so many issues, and yet, most Christians today seem to think that the Bible does not matter. That truth does not matter. That doctrine does not matter.
   I would like to state the exact opposite. The Bible does matter, everything that it calls sin, is sin. There is no way that you can read the Bible and proclaim that certain issues in today's culture were only sins back then and aren't today. That is not how sin works. If something is sin, that means it is an offense against a Holy God. It is not something that offended Him two thousand years ago because of the culture of the time, and no longer does today because people have "changed". Truth does matter. If we can't tell someone the truth, no matter what it is, then we are treating them horribly. Truth is truth, it does not change from one person's way of thinking to the next. If something is true, it is true. Doctrine does matter. If we listen to those who claim that they just live like Christ wants them to and don't care about doctrine, we would soon loose the ability and understanding of how Christ calls us to actually live. If we do not discuss, examine, and build upon sound doctrinal statements from the early church, then we are doomed to never learn, never grow, and never be able to feed those around us.
   What matters most to you? Is it other people's opinions of what you think/believe? Is it whether what you say will get you in trouble? Is it the fear of losing money and esteem? Is it a fear of persecution? Is it an attempt to try to please those around you? I do not have my life all figured out, and I do not do everything the right way. However, I do know one thing if I know anything at all. God's Word is timeless, His truth is perfect, and what He said/says will always be sound and true. If we in any way try to change His Word, then we should be ashamed and seek His forgiveness.

Monday, April 20, 2015


   On Saturday as I was trimming some of the shrubs in my yard, I was reminded of the grace and mercy that God daily bestows on us. Not only does trimming bushes help me relax and enjoy the creation, it paints a picture into some of the wonders of our Savior. Shrub trimming can be the absolute perfect analogy for how God shelters, disciplines, and causes us to grow. Not only can we see the ways that He does this for us, we can see the results and the measures by which we bear fruit.
   Sometimes a shrub needs to be given a "haircut" and lightly trimmed in order to help it to keep it's shape and continue to flourish. This is not really noticed on the part of the shrub and it continues to grow and flourish without a struggle. However, sometimes a shrub needs to be cut way back. To be brought low, in order to give it a chance to regain some strength and fullness. Not only do you cut off the amount needed to reshape the plant, but instead you cut it back so far as you can without killing it.
   So it is with us sometimes. God sanctifies us and makes us holy by giving us a small pruning and keeping us growing strong and healthy. In other times we need to be either disciplined or corrected in our theology and cut back so far that in that moment it hurts tremendously. Yet, as we begin to recover from this drastic trimming of all the excess in our life, we begin to grow anew. Not only do we put forth new shoots of growth, but the ones that have been left continue to grow more full and healthy. Sometimes, the only way that God can lovingly care for us, is to cut us and cut us deeply. He does not do this in order to hurt us, but in order to love us to the fullest.
   If I were to leave the shrubs in my yard alone, and only occasionally trim them lightly, they would grow into monstrous, ugly, and stringy bushes that are an eyesore. However, if I occasionally give them a hard trim, cut them way back, they will continue to grow and flourish and be something that is beautifully created. How then can we blame God for anything? Does He not use both the good and the bad to grow His children into the people that He has called us to be? We are called to be holy, therefore should we not then rejoice instead of curse when we receive a hard trim and are forced to rely more wholly upon Jesus for our daily needs? Often, we think that we are better off sending out shoots, showing off something that we think we have done well or that we boast in, and instead of it being beautiful, God looks at it and says that it needs to be cut off.
   Our beauty and majesty is only found in Christ. If we claim anything else, may we receive these hard, deep cuts of sanctification. And then in the good times when we are portraying the majesty of Jesus, let us grow into a person who oozes forth the holiness of our God and continues to grow in every aspect in the Lord.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


   Today as I was reading a book by Andrew Murray, he began to talk about the creation and the way that God's holiness was so intertwined with it. As I read, I was reminded of the time of Jubilee from the Old Testament. This was designed to be a time that people of God were to follow His example and to rest, every seventh day, and every seventh year. The people of Israel never did this. Not once did they trust God enough to rest from their work for an entire year. Sure, they rested for the Sabbath, but really how hard is it to do something for one day? If we really look at what it meant to rest for an entire year, we can begin to see the overwhelming nature of what it would mean to truly rest.
   Well, as I was reading Murray's book, "Holy in Christ: Thoughts on the Calling of God's Children to be Holy as He is Holy", this one line hit me; "Where God rests in complacency and love, He makes holy." Wow, what an amazing thought. That maybe sometimes when we think that God isn't doing anything that we can see the results of right away at our fingertips, it's because He is using that time to work on us, to mold us, to shape us into the people He has created us to be. Not only then do we need to see the value in being patient and listening to God, but are we not also then called to the same? In an earlier chapter in his book, Murray mentions the verse over and over again, "be holy as I am holy". This has got me thinking. So much of the time people refuse to rest, to take time to search scripture and other theological writings for truth, and to merely absorb God. How much more rested, both physically and spiritually, do you think we would be if we truly took time and set it apart for just God?
   I think we would be blown away by the results. If we truly believe that God sanctifies us and makes us holy throughout our walk of faith, then why don't we ever just take the time to just be with Him and to soak in the glorious majesties that He so desires for us? Sure, some people would say that this is what they do by attending church services. To that, I say hogwash. It is the same excuse that the nation of Israel used in the Old Testament. "We don't want to take hold of all of you blessings Lord, we would rather work and toil for something else." This is the same thing that those people who claim merely going to church services is their way of setting apart time to be made holy as He is holy.
   I don't think that there a set time that God calls every one of us to set apart. But if the only time that we are setting apart is one or two services a week, what a horrible way to seek after the Lord. We need to daily seek His face and I also think that we periodically need to step away from the busyness of life and to drink deeply from the fountain that God will indeed meet us with. Maybe it's a long weekend once a month, a week every couple of months, or maybe even a whole month once a year. Whatever it is that you feel God calling you to, do it. Do not put it off.
   If someone were to say to you, "here, I am freely giving you one million dollars." Would you not drop everything that you are doing to accept that million dollars? It is the same with Christ, He is calling to His children. Beckoning to them, saying, "Come child, drink from My cup which runneth over with new mercies and grace." Why are we so afraid of letting God take hold of our hearts and minds, even for the smallest period of time? I think that it has to do with our enjoyment of sin and it's pleasures. We are afraid that by being alone with God, just like Adam and Eve were after they sinned, that He will somehow then condemn us. Children of our Lord and Savior, wake up!! He already knows everything that you have ever said, thought, or will do! Why do you think that you know better than your Savior? Run to Him for comfort and peace. Run to Him for sanctification and new mercies. Run to Him for refreshing, everlasting joy that will never cease!
   Those of you who believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior, take joy in knowing that you are God's chosen child. Beloved from before the foundation of the world. Run to Him for rest, peace, and the warmth comfort that only a Father's embrace could bestow.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Familial Ties

   What does it mean to be a family? This is a questions that our country seems to have created an unconnected and meaningless response to. Instead of actually examining the qualities and parts needed to declare something a family, our country has merely claimed that it is anything that that lives together under one roof, even if there are truly no components of a family included there. Our country has taken the meaning of what a family is and has turned it into a disgusting joke that should be the outcry of every Christian. Instead, most churches today merely look at our nations description of a family and shrug, or applaud it.

    "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
(Ephesians 5:22 - 6:4 ESV)

   This is about as clear of a description of what a family should look like as you will ever be able to find. Paul in his letter to the church in Ephesus paints a beautiful picture of what a family looks like and how it should reflect Christ and His love for the church. From this passage, I would argue that in order for there to be a family, there has to be at least two parts. First, a man. Second, a woman. Now, it is not just that there needs to be a man and a woman living together. Rather, as Paul states, there will be a man who has left his father and mother who will be bound fast (through marriage) to his wife. That is a huge distinction here. Not only is marriage something that is for a man and a woman, but it is the only way that there is family. It has to be between a man and a woman or else there can be no foundation by which to build upon.
   Husbands are called to love their wives and wives their husbands. These verses in no way call for the perversion of homosexuality. It is impossible for two people who declare themselves to be homosexuals to form a family. God made sure of this through creation. In the garden He created Adam and then when there was no companion for him, God created Eve. Through them all of the rest of creation has come. And with that, a created order that can be seen very clearly. Men (boys) are born with male genitalia and women (girls) are born with female genitalia. God created people this way on purpose. It is through this design that children are created. When a man and a women have sex, God either breathes life into a new creation or does not. However, this is not something that can be done between two men or two women.
   God calls children to obey their parents. And if Paul had just left it there, I am sure that some people would even try to use this passage to argue the approval of their perversions. However, Paul does not leave it there. Instead, he quotes one of the ten commandments. "Honor you father and mother." This is a big distinction. Children are designed and created to have both a mother and a father. There are circumstances in life where a child may lose one or both parents. Yet, that does not mean that they are not designed to have both a mother and a father. It does however mean that children are designed to not have two men or two women as their parents.
   A family is supposed to reflect the relationship that Christ has with the church, and by distorting families, we are distorting the gospel. It is not about people's feeling or whether or not we are judging them. Rather it is about sin, the gospel, and the glory of Christ. Anything that is done that takes away from that glory, is completely and utterly wrong and sinful.
   Two homosexuals cannot live in sin and yet claim to share what God has designed. To quote one of the most quoted verses in scripture, "God is love". Therefore, those who are apart from God cannot love and do not know what love looks like. I pray that the church would rise up, to proclaim the gospel and share the true picture of what a family is supposed to mean.