Knowing Liberty

5 10 2006

The perfect law the law of liberty…::James 1.25a

I am struck by this phrase in the midst of the divine assault through James upon the pretentious religion of hypocrites. The law spoken of here is not the Mosaic Law for this law enslaved and was imperfect. Instead we have the life giving and transforming word of God as applied through the Holy Spirit and embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures were all pointing forward to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the imperfect Mosaic law was no different.

While personal bondage to sin prevented all from the perfect fulfillment of the Mosaic Law we have here the law of liberty that is given through Christ to those who have been redeemed from such bondage.

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How LOST encourages me to be more impressed with Jesus

7 09 2006

lost.jpgMy wife and I have recently been enjoying the television show LOST. We finished up season one last week and are now working our way through season two. One of the more compelling themes that the writers are continually emphasizing is the selfless personal sacrifice that is not motivated by greed but rather love and friendship.

The castaways are not related and are in reality strangers until the plane goes down. This common experience has bonded the group together into what is now resembling a fairly functional family (at least as far as I am in the viewing).

There is a bit of an unwritten expectation on the show that the castaways are going to have one another’s back, even being willing to suffer and die for them.

This theme has caused me to better appreciate and esteem my Savior.

With Jesus there is no expectation or obligation to intervene, protect or rescue sinners from their peril. In fact, the picture that the gospel portrays for us is not one of family but of enemies. Being unregenerate I am not on Jesus’ team but against him, I am his opponent. To use the LOST terminology as an unbeliever I am one of the “others”.

Jesus did not come to save friends and family but rebels and enemies. As Ephesians 2 tells us we were “children of wrath”. My family tree goes back to the garden and I am an offspring of sin sitting under the stern and justified anger of holy omnipotence. We were actively seeking to steal God’s glory, defame his character and userp his will. Sinners are not lovely but ugly. But note this Christian, your ugliness magnifies your Savior’s beauty. Listen to Romans 5.6:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus is a better Savior than we believe him to be. He does not sacrifice for and save friends but enemies. Our Father’s love is demonstrated and amplified by our own sinfulness.

When I watch LOST I am caught up in the drama that surrounds castaways and their subsequent sacrifice for one another in the name of brotherly fidelity and survival. But when I listen to the words of the gospel I am confronted with my sin and rebellion along with the justice, holiness, grace, mercy and love of my Savior. It is this truth that is to captivate the heart of those born of heaven more than any story on television.

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rejoice & be glad

1 09 2006

Psalm 40:16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!”

It is truly one of the great benefits of the Christian life to partake of joy and happiness in Christ. But track down the joy. Believers have not created nor are they sustaining this joy, rather it is God’s joy in himself, his pleasure in being God and his joy in rescuing sinners from themselves, even making worshippers who would rejoice and be glad in him.

God is so faithful. I wake up in the morning, draw a breath, open my eyes and remember that God has sent his Son to make me a worshipper. I remember that I am not an enemy of God under his condemnation but a friend of God wrapped in the infinitely valuable righteousness of Jesus. This is not a dream. This is not a theory. This is reality!! Jesus Christ is my Savior! The one who is the supreme object of the Father’s affections has now, by divine grace, become my delight!!

The Father is amplifying his love for his Son through the regeneration of sinners and the subsequent delight and joy in Christ. God has bought a world-sized rubbish dump and turned it into a botanical garden of praise to Jesus.

And as Jesus prayed in John 17 (v.13) we are able (graced) to partake of this joy. How blessed are we as believers? We get to ‘rejoice and be glad’ in God. This joy is the true pearl of sanctification; though we struggle with sin and long for glory, we also stand, with eyes closed taking deep breaths enjoying the fragrance of Jesus Christ, our salvation.

This is fuel to join the Psalmist and all others who love salvation saying, “Great is the LORD!”

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How to live a miserable Christian life (part iii)

11 08 2006

Here is part 3 of the the look at how to live a miserable Christian life. The goal here is obviously not to be miserable but to be filled with heavenly joy by being good stewards of all that Christ has given us. The first 2 post may be found here (part 1) and here (part 2).

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6. Resist Biblical Correction

It is interesting the way God has done things. He has saved sinners and then commanded them to work out their salvation (Phil. 2.12). We are to be progressively growing into the likeness of our Master. This obviously implies a current state of practical imperfection.

God has been pleased to give his saints the word of God to be learned and applied, specifically within the context of the church of God. We are to practicing the “one-anothers” that are commanded (love, serve, encourage, admonish, etc..). This practice serves to chip away fleshy barnacles and mold Christ likeness in accordance with his word.

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How to live a miserable Christian life (part ii)

10 08 2006

Yesterday I began a look at how to live a miserable Christian life. Specifically to look at 10 sure fire areas or activities that are counter Christian and so therefore devoid of joy.

In the first post we highlighted the dangers of 1) trying to repay Jesus for the Cross, 2) neglecting the Bible, 3) neglecting Prayer.

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Let’s pick it up here in view of highlighting pitfalls for Christians that we might not find ourselves miserably caught in the mire.

4. Be Selfish

This is really the seed for everything. I have heard a good friend describe sin as the deification of man and the ‘mannification’ of God. It is to flip the roles. For the Christian to be selfish or self consumed is really counter intuitive. It just doesn’t make sense.

It reminds me of the time I saw Vlade Divac (former Lakers’ center) smoking cigerattes before a game. I’m thinking, this is totally contradictory and inhibitive to what the guy is about to go do…he is about to go and run up and down the court for two hours and he is choking down these cancer sticks like they are made out of protein or something.

In a similar vein, selfishness for the Christian is absurd. The whole point of Christianity is humility. We come to God in humility, confessing our prideful rebellion against him, begging humbly for grace (not earned!!) that we might be given mercy to trust him for forgiveness. Then the whole outflow of the Christian life is to stream from this humble spicket of a biblical self awareness.

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Learning Grace in an Unlikely Place

8 08 2006

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5.6)

During our time on vacation I spent a considerable time in a courtroom for my sister-in-law’s sentencing. As I sat with my family and looked across the room at those who were marched in for sentencing each day I was captivated. I stared at their shackles, their expressions, their body language and their plight.

I found myself evaluating things. I even caught myself in some erroneous momentary thinking. Those in the yellow suits were criminals and so therefore “bad”. Those on the other side in the business suits were attorneys and so therefore “good”. The families sat separated from their criminal members and they were “good”. The judge and the bailiffs wore their uniforms and they were likewise distinguished from the offenders.

My erroneous thinking came from a seed of self-exaltation (idolatry). I thought (albeit momentarily) that the difference between us and them is education. See the lawyers have gone to school and are smart and they can defend & prosocute these folks. We are not in shackles because we are educated, right?! Wrong.

It is not education that is the distinguisher but grace. It is nothing but the sovereign extension of divine grace to the lives of unworthy rebels that keeps you and I from shackles. Furthermore, for me as a Christian, it is the specific application of redemptive grace that purchased me from myself and my sin to cut off the bondage of sin. And it is the persevering power of that divine grace that keeps me in the love of God that I not perish while leaning on my own power.

How dare I muse upon my education or my accumulated wisdom while impugning others. How very Pharisaical!

This is a good providential reminder for me that grace that is not realized and rejoiced in is not valued. I surely had not preached the cross to my own heart this day for if I had it would have shuddered at such nonsense. Join me in valuing the grace of God in Christ while devaluing self.





A Preacher’s Worst Nightmare Comes True

26 07 2006

If you have ever prepared to preach you know exactly what I’m about to write.

This past Sunday evening I arrived at the church at an admittedly late time of 530 for our 600 evening service. I still had to print my notes on the color printer (I usually bring about 30 ½ sheets of fully manuscripted work to the pulpit so highlighting and variant fonts are pivotal).

So when I got to the church I noticed that the whole administrative area complete with printers is disconnected as our computer guy was doing some work and installing some new hardware/software.

This did not leave me much time. I quickly evaluated the risk of driving home and printing off my notes vs. the risk of preaching without notes. In evaluating the two, the prospect of getting in an accident or getting a flat tire seemed less likely and far less damaging then me trying preach without notes.

So after advising our drummer of my intentions with the comforting and vague instructions, “Dude, tell the guys to just improvise..” (I later found out that they were going to keep singing “Just as I am” until I walked the aisle…)

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