December 10, 2010

This is the day.

A sense of urgency.  It's something I desire greatly.  I have been listening to a lot of Christian hip-hop lately, which is odd for me cause honestly I'm kind of a country music guy, and most Christian music just annoys me with it's lack of depth spiritually.  But I ran across some stuff by Lecrae and Tedashii one time while looking for John Piper clips on youtube.  And I was greatly intrigued.  Here was an artist(s) who pounded the gospel song after song.  And not in some soft, warm and fuzzy, type of way.  You can't listen to much of their music (or others, such as Trip Lee) without hearing about the Gospel and the affect it ought to have on my life today.  And it has given me pause to think.  How am I living?  Do I live each day as if it were my last?  Not only my last, but the last of a friend?  Do I really believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven?  If so, why do I deny Him with my actions, why do my words not constantly reflect Him, who He is, and what He has done.  I have fallen, along with most Christians into the pit of being lazy.  Even if I am reading my Bible through in a year, taking classes to gain knowledge, if it's not changing my life then it is a waste of my time.  James says faith without works is dead. Works aren't something you do in heaven.  That means my faith needs to be changing how I live right here, right now.  The Gospel must be the center of my life.  My only boast is Christ and Him crucified.  I may not have tomorrow, and people are facing an eternity in hell, because I am too self conscious and selfish to heed the Word and proclaim the words of Christ both through my words and deeds.  This is a dead faith on display.  It is time to swallow pride, put to death the fleshly nature, understand the importance of the day, and make war on sin.

November 24, 2010

What is Sin?

So this will probably be another short one.  But I have been wrestling for a while now with the whole concept of sin.  What is sin?  I can go to the Bible and from there determine what actions and inactions are sinful, but is that really what sin is?  How does fit with the Gospel?  Jesus came to die, not from my wrong actions and/or inactions, but from my sin that condemns me to Hell.  But how can we call actions a heart condition?  We seem to teach something that is contradictory, like there is a disconnect between our doctrine of sin in reference to actions and our doctrine of sin in reference to salvation.  And this has bugged me.  If sin is merely to "miss the mark", to do what I ought not, or to not do what I ought, how can I be saved from it?  I still do things I ought not and fail to do that which I ought.  Even the Apostle Paul wrestled with this problem!  
But.  What is the mark that we are missing?  It is the mark the the Holy and Sovereign God of all the universe has established.  To sin is to, in essence, to rebel against the Almighty.  RC Sproul calls it Cosmic Treason.  I do believe this to be an apt term.  But it is not a reference to mere actions.  Men judge by actions, but God judges the heart.  And the root of sin lies in an idolatrous heart.  Idolatrous in the sense that when I choose to sin I have placed some person or thing in a place where my worship is directed to them, instead of the God.  And all of these in turn end up being self worship.  To quote Jonathan Edwards' Law of Free Will, “Free moral agents always act according to the strongest inclination they have at the moment of choice.”  So anytime I choose to sin, my hearts inclination, my hearts desire, the cry from within me is that I worship my desire as opposed to that of Almighty God.  To boil it down, the essence of sin is not what I do or don't do.  It is a condition of my heart.  A condition that worships me instead of worshiping Jesus.  And this deserves the wrath of God.  I posted a link to a DA Carson video, he goes over some similar comments, and he is far smarter and more articulate than I am.  I suggest watching it.

November 20, 2010

A quick thought on Christian thought.

Okay, so it's late, so I'm gonna keep this short.  But I'm gonna ask you a few questions and ask you to think through them critically, because I believe your answers to them will radically affect your beliefs...let me rephrase, they do radically affect your beliefs, this will simply aid us in identifying this circumstance.  When we read the Bible we often come up with questions.  This is good, and healthy.  Questions encourage thought and when we question and subsequently find answers our thoughts are more firmly established, faith is built, etc.  But there are times when we come to Scripture and are troubled by what we find.  Times when God exercises speedy justice and we question His fairness.  Times when we see something go unpunished and question His justice.  Times when we come up against a doctrine (eg, predestination) that seems to contradict our view of who God is and/or how He operates.  In times like these it is of extreme importance to keep in mind that things such as love, grace, justice, mercy, holy, and other words we use to describe God are just that descriptive.  Our words do not constrain Him.  Even when He uses a word to describe Himself (eg, holy) we ought to remember that He defines it, it does not define Him.
I suppose my pint here is this.  By all means question.  People who are afraid to question are afraid of the truth.  Many great men in the Bible from the prophets, to kings, even Jesus Himself questions God the Father. There are things of God that we will not understand this side of glory, and others that we will only understand when we honestly and deeply question and take those questions to God Himself.  But be prepared for the answer you will receive.  God will not change for us.  But we are obligated to change in light of who we are and who He is calling us to be.  That is where nearly all honest questioning leads.  A heart change that leads to life change.

September 09, 2010

Radical?

So.  A few quick thoughts on something that has been ripping at my mind and wrenching at my heart lately.  I have lost many hours of sleep to it without necessarily finding so many answers as I do more questions.  But here is my primary question?  What does it look like to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?  What should life as a Christian look like?  I look around and see all these different ideas clashing in culture, in our church sub-culture, in society in general, but in the midst of all these ideas I notice a lack of sufficient answers.  Rare is the person that you can look at and say "Wow. They have something different. They must be a Christian."  And yet the very term Christian finds its origin back in the 1st century, it's literal meaning is "little Christ".  People used it as a derogatory term to make fun of believers in Jesus, or as Luke calls them in Acts, followers of the Way.  That last term I think is an interesting one to ponder when on this subject.  Christians didn't call themselves Christians.  They referred to themselves as followers of the Way.  What is this Way?  It is the life of radical discipleship that Jesus called them to when He walked the earth.  They preached in the streets, at times being beaten and jailed.  They met in homes to encourage one another.  They served the community by helping the poor, and taking care of widows and orphans.  Did they gain anything from this?  No.  They professed faith in this Jewish Rabbi who claimed to be God, followed in His commands by serving each other and the needy, and what they received in return was everything from simple ridicule, to beating and jailing,  all the way to brutal and violent execution.  What motivated this?  Was it some crazy religion that enjoyed suffering?  Was it some gushy sentimental gushy "Jesus is my boyfriend" feeling?  I don't think so.  Something you notice about humans under pressure.  Any superficial knowledge is of far less importance to them than their physical health.  I don't think any simple religion would have held up to the intense persecution that Christianity saw early on (well, and today in much of the world, as well as throughout its history).  And sentimentalism?  What if these people who had known Jesus just really wanted to believe He was God, and made up  this big story?  Well thats a nice thought, but I'm pretty sure they would have given that up the moment the realized it was gonna cost them their reputations, let alone their lives.  No.  What these people believed was something deeper than straight emotion, and stronger than simple religion.  These people really believed in this Jesus Christ.  They believed what He said about being God.  They believed He was the Way the Truth and the Life like He told them.  They believed He had power over life and death, the physical and spiritual world.  Why?  Because they had seen Him raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, feed 20,000 people with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish, walk on water, and other miraculous things.  He didn't just talk the talk...He lived up to it.  Then He went to a cross and was brutally murdered for their sins...and yours...and mine.  There on that cross He paid the debt we all owed.  And three days later He rose again, something over 500 people witnessed before He ascended back into Heaven.  That is some solid footing for belief.  But from this solid footing of faith something deeper was born.  You see, what these people believed was that God Almighty who owed them nothing, had humbled Himself to come and give them everything.  He demonstrated His love by laying down His life.  What did this do to them?  It gave them overwhelming joy, and stirred up an intense love in them for this Jesus who had so loved them.  You see, their love wasn't superficial, and their religion wasn't dry knowledge.  They had faith in this Jesus, and what they knew about Him caused them to love Him so much that they were willing to go through unspeakable torture, pain, and persecution for Him.  They really loved God, not in a blind way, but a love born of a knowledge.  That is what I want.  That is what I desire.  I suppose its not any certain lifestyle, I could end up rich, poor, happy, sad, hungry, fed, broke and homeless, or making six figures.  What I want is Jesus.  And He offers Himself freely.  This is in radical contrast to any religion, and so much deeper than any of the superficial fakes that are prevalent in our culture. Deeper.  Better.  Radical.  What an amazing, loving, beautiful Savior!

August 19, 2010

A quick thought...

how foolish is the church today?  We are so focused this new method and that new method, and how to reach people, and how to make everyone like us, and how to avoid offending people...and don't look now, but in an effort to "win souls", we've lost our own.  We're busy out here, not giving people the Gospel message, but chasing after our own glory.  We're too busy scratching people's itchy ears.  It is high time we refocused our attention...or in many cases, simply focus, it was never there to start with.  Our focus need to be Jesus.  We need to tell people about the problem of sin.  It gets skipped because when we talk about it it offends people.  Well let me pose this question.  Do you think they'd prefer that you tell them now and run the risk of offending them, or would they like you to brush it off and let them find out on their own that God is Holy and hates sin?  In the immediate sense, of course people want to hear nice things, but we have to quit thinking in our 21st century mindset that only sees as far as the next txt message.  We need to think bigger picture.  We need to preach Christ sacrifice on the cross, and the amazing gift that that is.  That in spite of our utterly sinful and depraved state, God chooses to love us anyway.  That God the Father planned before the foundation of the world to send Jesus to pay for the sins of a wicked people who hated Him.  We need to quit preaching the liberation gospel, the prosperity gospel, and every other false gospel.  We do these foolish things to draw people into our church.  We are so caught up on us that we miss the point, the point being God and His glory.  And in His glory He has given us a Gospel to share that is far grander and more beautiful, more appealing, more amazing than anything we could dream up in our finite minds.  It's time to quit settling for the cheap versions of Jesus that we are sold by our world and even our churches.  It is time to dig into God's word, see what He has to say, and share that with our lost and dying world.

February 20, 2010

Missing the point.

So...first post on the new blog, let's kick it off right.  And by kick it off right, I mean post something that most likely will have a lot people disagreeing with me.  But it's something that's been bugging me for quite some time.  I will apologize in advance for it's disjointed nature, my brain is running sub par at the moment, so bear with me.


There is no question...or at least there shouldn't be...that our country is having serious problems.  From our multi-trillion dollar financial deficit, to the attacks on marriage and the unborn, to growing threats from foreign powers.  And while I could write a book on the roots of all these problems and the people responsible, I will refrain, because right now it is a different group of people annoying me.  And that is people on the far right, especially Christians, who are missing the point.
These are the people getting riled up and throwing fits over the recent court ruling in California overturning the ban on same sex marriage, crying about the downfall of tradition, screaming about the millions of murdered babies, threatening revolt due to high taxes and government intrusion, fighting each of these individual battles...and missing the bigger picture.  Now are they necessarily wrong in any of these things?  No.  Marriage is established in Genesis as the union of one man and one woman.  Murder is obviously wrong, a violation of the sixth commandment, and we see in the Psalms(and increasingly in science) that life begins at conception, hence abortion is also wrong.  One can make very strong arguments for individual liberty and it's importance, especially under the framework of our constitution.  So if these are all good things, why would we be missing the point to focus on them?
The reason, without going into a ton of detail, is this-those are merely battles in a much bigger war.  And what has happened in the Conservative political movement, and even more so in Christianity, is that there has been so much focus on these truly tiny battles, that people have lost focus on the bigger picture.  What is the war?  How do these battles affect the outcome of the war?  Who is the enemy?  Wait, is there actually any war to start with?  That seems like some pretty inflammatory language.  These are questions that people need to stop and ask themselves.  More importantly, they are questions that they need to ponder and go to God with.  I would like to submit to you what I think are some of the (condensed) answers to a few of these questions.
First, it is I believe, imperative that we understand that this truly is a war.  But, it is not a war of issues, nor is it even a war of morals, per se.  It is a war of opposing world views.  This is probably the most difficult part for people, and yet it is really the fundamental truth upon which everything else is built.  You can either accept the God (Jesus) taught in Scripture, and live your life in light of who He is and what He has told us about life (the Bible...all of it), or you can reject that.  Those are your two options. 
Now some of you are going to agree with that on the surface, but I want you to pause and think about it.  Because to accept that statement and take the first position (I don't expect anyone in category two to agree with me, haha) means that you actually have to know what the Bible says, and what it's major themes are.  You have to understand that we don't run down every sinner and beat them with a baseball bat and tell them to conform.  They have reason to.  A non Xian has no inherent reason to agree with us on same-sex marriage, abortion, freedom, education, or any other issue.  At times we will find common ground in these areas, but the trap that far too many fall into is taking their view and trying to force it upon others.  We try to "legislate morality."  I'll let you in on a secret-that doesn't work.  You cannot force your opinions, beliefs, or morality on other people, no matter who you elect, what laws you pass, it doesn't matter.  Yet that is exactly what is going on in our country.  People on both sides of the isle are screaming "I'm right!", and on the basis of this conviction, if you can call it that, are trying to shove their ideas down other people's throat.  Why?  Pride.  We are convinced we are right, and therefore others ought to agree with us.  But I'm about to rabbit trail, back to the task at hand.
I'm writing this specifically to Xians who desire to affect the world for Jesus.  And basically what I'm trying to say is this-you need to quit quibbling over the battles, quit trying to treat the symptoms.  The problem with this country, and with this world is not abortion.  It's not homosexuality.  It's not even voting Democrat.  The problem is that we live in a world full of sin and sinners.  As such people are looking for answers, they are looking for happiness, looking for joy, looking for satisfaction, and are trying desperately to find those things.  And instead of hating them for it, or protesting it, perhaps what we ought to do is share with them the only One who brings those things, that being Jesus Christ.  This world doesn't need laws banning everything that is wrong or sinful, this world needs Jesus.  Does that mean we shouldn't stand up for the unborn, or stand up for Biblical marriage?  No, absolutely not.  But we need to realize that the only basis we have for defending those things is because of what God has revealed.  Why do we believe in the sanctity of human life?  Because we as humans are made in the image of Almighty God.  Why is marriage sacred?  Because God established it as the institution by which the human race would continue, children would be raised, and people could enjoy the most intimate of emotional bonds, and in some sense to help us understand our relationship as the Church to God.  These things (and others, those two are just easy to write about without going into extensive detail) are important.  But we cannot expect others to share in that view until their world view has been changed, and that will only change by means of a relationship with Jesus Christ.  These battles and this war, they aren't against people.  They are against views which run contrary to Scripture, and until we get that straight we are going to keep losing the war.  We may win an occasional battle, but our culture will be lost.  I think it's time to re-evaluate our priorities and see if we're really missing the point.

About Me

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I love Jesus, my wife, and my kids. Writing and teaching are two things I have a passion for. Gardening and fishing are cool, too. I blog @ willdole.com, you can reach me @ contact@willdole.com