these things from the wise

"Pursuing Wisdom" {Prov1:1-7}
* Intro: Lots of wordly cliches that purportedly teach you about life; only Word can truly do that -- esp. Prov
* What are proverbs?
- All cultures have own set
- Short memorable sayings w/ meaning relevant to many diff situations
- Prov, Eccl, and Job are wisdom books
- Prov originally began as parental strategies handbook of sorts
- There is diff twixt promise and generalizations (which many proverbs are)
* Author of Prov
- Solomon (v1)
- 1King4 tells us he wrote 3000 or so
- Not all contained in Prov, and not all are his
* What is wisdom?
- Skill to live life according to God's plans
- Diff twixt wisdom & knowledge
* Purpose of Prov
- To acquire & apply God's wisdom in our lives
- Result of acquiring wisdom? Will change our character.
- To develop fear of Lord {v7, Deut5:29}
- To determine to get God's wisdom {Prov2:1-5}
* Fear of the Lord
- Taking God seriously
- Devotion to God
- Dread of sin {Heb12:5-7}
* How can I pursue wisdom?
- Devote self to God's Word
- Decide wisdom worth the sacrifice {Prov4:7}
- Dedicate self to Jesus Christ
- If you don't know God, impossible to understand or practice wisdom in Prov
- Knowing God results in every other understanding


by longing for it have wandered

Several of the flock are dealing with issues of restless spirits. Interesting that the word "restless" appears only thrice in the Word, and the related word "discontent" only appears once. Even if you add in the word "content" where the word is a command, and we add only another half dozen. You mean to tell me that there are only a combined dozen references or so to something that afflicts so many?

Restlessness is one of liar's great tools. He plays on our sense of action; we are called to walk, and there is some indication of movement in that word. So liar deceives many to wander, to want to wander, to want constantly to be anywhere but where they currently are.

Yes, we are called to follow Him. But sometimes that path is a simple straight line, and that restlessness only pulls you to the sides where He is not treading. Other times, that path is simply to sit down with Him where He is. If the leader stops His walking, to follow means to sit beside Him, not pulling at His robe pointing to that shiny thing over there, maybe we can see it together. No. Be still and know I am God.


the things I speak

Watching an older favorite movie. In a moment of character development, Storm is speaking to Nightcrawler and the following exchange is uttered:

Storm: What are they? (referring to marks all over Nightcrawler's body)
Nightcrawler: Angelic symbols passed down to man by the archangel Gabriel.
S: How many are there?
NC: One for every sin, so quite a few. . . . Someone so beautiful should not be so angry.
S: Sometimes anger can help you survive.
NC: So can faith.


on him the cross to carry

Need to get this off my chest right now. Our church is missing a cross on its roof, despite my constant protestations. If there's a single reason to participate in our church's building campaign, the lack of an external cross is it -- once we pay off our current debt, we hasten the day we can rebuild the sanctuary and erect a cross.

In related discussions of the need for more crosses in our church, we discussed tonight the placement of a cross permanently within our sanctuary. Currently, the only cross is hidden behind a giant screen (don't even get me started on that, too), so we need another way to make the cross visible within the sanctuary. A glorious and nigh overwhelming one was up for Good Friday services, and the discussion revolved around whether or not it should stand its ground here on out. Disappointingly, there were discussions as to whether or not it was too large; whether or not it should be placed more off to the side; and whether or not it would get in the way of people's weddings and funerals. Aesthetics over symbolism? Lord, give me strength.

At the end of the day, when I have to answer for all sorts of things before my Savior, I'm pretty sure I won't have to answer for whether or not the cross in my sanctuary had enough feng shui; I'm pretty sure I will have to answer (not me, but others will) for whether or not I was too ashamed, uncomfortable, or whatever to proudly display that sign of salvation.


you have paid the very last

Since before Good Friday, meditating and worshiping and weeping with the thoughts expressed by a great hymn "How Deep the Father's Love". Love the version sung by these guys. Don't want to belabor a point I've been expressing, but the lyrics "His dying breath has brought me life; I know that it is finished" and "His wounds have paid my ransom" make it very difficult not to say "I told you so." In any case, complete lyrics here:

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


that we should be attracted to

Noticed a little detail in today's reading of Matt4 and the temptation in the wilderness. v2 states that Christ doesn't become hungry until the end of the 40-day period of fasting. Where I can't go a few hours without feeling like I'm starving, Christ doesn't feel serious hunger pangs until after 40 days. And it is at that point that liar jumps in to offer temptation.

Liar could have come at any time during the 40 days of fasting, but he waits until the very end, waits until Christ's physical body responds in need before offering temptation. And it is a clear reminder to all that liar is smart; that liar is strategic; that of course temptations are tough to turn down, they are offered when we are literally at our weakest; and that only by the strength of God could we possibly win those encounters.


I AM the resurrection and the life

"He is not here, for He has risen just as He said." {Matt28:6}

He is risen, indeed.


the greatest of these is love

Because of a fear of challenging orthodoxy, random excerpts from something you'll never hear:

I’d like to suggest to you that the most important holiday of the year – not just for Christians, but for all people – the most important holiday of the year is Good Friday. Christmas represents to us the hope of God: the hope of salvation, the promised hope of the Messiah, the hope of reconciliation between man and God. Easter represents the victorious power of God: victory over sin and darkness, victory over the world, victory over death itself. Christmas and Easter have these happy family memories, and here’s Good Friday dressed in black. How festive.

But what ultimately sets Good Friday apart, what makes Good Friday so important are two concepts that undergirds all of Christianity: love and holiness. Good Friday is ultimately about the love of God and the holiness that His love brings to us. The entirety of our faith is tied to these two concepts.

John 3:16 says that because God “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This message is repeated late on in 1 John 4:10, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The gospel, the good news of God is not just that God so loved the world, but that that love drove God to turn over His own Son to die for us. God loves you every single day, yes, but only one day commemorates the single greatest display of love in the history of the universe: the death of God’s son for the sin of all mankind. On Good Friday, God loved us most.

In Leviticus 11, the Lord says, “be holy for I am holy.” It is certainly impossible to reduce a great big God into a few simple of nouns, but certainly holiness is one of those nouns that is fundamental to our understanding of who God is. 1 John 2:2 says that “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” Romans 5:9 says that we are “justified by [Christ’s] blood” and then in Romans 5:10 that “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son”. Our penalty for sin, the debt we owed God for being unholy, all of it was paid in full by the death of Jesus Christ. On the cross, Jesus proclaims “It is finished.” The price of our unholiness was taken care of once and for all, forever and ever.

The word holiday comes from the words “holy day”. And on Good Friday, because of the death of Christ on the Cross, we are made holy and blameless before the throne of God. Christ in a manger doesn’t make us holy. Christ alive in a tomb doesn’t make us holy. Christ on a cross makes us holy.

Without Good Friday, Easter has nothing to be victorious over. There is no victory over death without first that death. Without Good Friday, Christmas has no hope confirmed. What began in the manger, ended on the Cross.

Sunday is coming. And on that day we will celebrate the joy of the resurrection of our beloved Christ. But for one day, for one evening, let us not avoid thoughts of death and sorrow. Let us spend Good Friday, the most important holy day, reflecting on the great love of God poured out on a cross for us.


and all its costly things

As a wedding gift eleven and a half years ago, my grandmother tried to give me an obscene amount of money -- a fistful of $100 bills. My mother and I gave as much of it back to her as she would allow, knowing it was a sum too steep to accept. She wasn't well-off to begin with, and to part with that sum of money was beyond acceptance. Even could she spare it, gifts that large, that extravagant trigger some force in us to reject it on first encounter.

Perhaps that is why so many turn from the cross of Christ. Perhaps it triggers that instinct in us to refuse so extravagant a gift. For on Calvary's Hill today, Good Friday, the spotless Lamb of God bore the sin of the world and offered up to us eternity at no cost. Christ chose utter despair and darkness apart from God that we might instead have the riches of Heaven. Today Jesus spread those flayed arms and offered to us adoption into the family of His Father. I don't blame you for not accepting the free gift of God. I've accepted that gift, and yet today, yet today I sometimes wonder how anyone could accept a gift so precious and utterly, utterly costly.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." {Eph2:8}


in all aspects into Him

Sunday's sermon reminds us of the different roles played by Christ, all for us. The video below displays that idea via pictures and words.


and all the trees

On re-runs this week, I suppose.


ahead a tree, behind the mass
a thousand angels pinheads away
behind the shatter, ahead the glass
the life, the truth, the way

beneath the curse
of one purpose
at the bottom of the earth

above the wounding, below the grave
a thousand voices confounding the hate
below the sentence, above the save
the Shepherd, the vine, the gate

the right a robber, the left a thief
a thousand desires becoming the one
the left the mourning, the right the grief
the earth(quake), the star, the Sun

beneath the peace
of three trees
at the top of the world


shall be exalted

Thinking about Christ's entry into Jerusalem today, but nothing original came to mind. So cribbing from something I wrote five years ago.


tambourines, drums, tambourines
fronded leaves spread
drums, tambourines, drums
a festival misled

The head borne proudly,
The stuttered gait nonstop
And the donkey’s hooves go clop, clop, clop

in raucous celebration
victorious crowds escalate
in quiet glory
death awaits

The head borne proudly,
The stuttered gait nonstop
And the donkey’s hooves go clop, clop, clop

specially chosen for this moment’s ride
carrying the groom, bearing the bride
plans set in motion by an unseen guide
the sting of victory espied

My head borne proudly,
My stuttered gait nonstop
And my hooves, they go clop, clop, clop

The poem is about Palm Sunday, Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and it seems to focus on the donkey who bore Him. To the donkey, maybe the raucous crowds and celebrations were for it. All its life this donkey has lived a life of toil, and for this one moment, the people are cheering it. The crowds were as misled as the donkey, as they celebrated what they thought would be a military or political victory of some sort, when the victory that awaited Jesus was the sting of death. In the end, our misunderstandings about Him make us the donkey.


my soul longed and even yearned for

Despite the distractions, Holy Week always hits me sharply. Rather than the clouds that threaten my focus the rest of the year, the opposite is true during Holy Week -- it's actually thoughts of Christ that threaten focus on everything else. I need to finish work, and yet I'd rather be pulled to meditation on John19. I need to spend time with the family engaged in conversation, and yet I'd rather watch the Passion and wrench my heart to shards. I need to run errands and do taxes and pay bills, and yet I'd rather listen to worship music and have my soul become undone.

The striking thing is that during Holy Week, my heart's desire is what it should be year round. My desire should always be the Lord above all things, with only the strength of the will He has given me allowing me to daily live a life He has called me to live. During Holy Week I understand what the Apostle Paul felt every second of every day -- that "to live is Christ, and to die is gain." {Phil1:21} No better time than preceding Easter to sharpen one's focus on the things of God. No better time to remember that that sharpened focus should never depart you, never depart you.


this man to reign over us

(My adaptation of what was taught)

"The Exaltation of the King" {John12}
* John showcases different aspects of Christ
- John11 has Christ as authority over life/death
- John13 has Christ as loving teacher
- John19 has Christ as suffering servant
- John20 has Christ as risen Savior
- John12 has Christ as exalted King
* Different reaction of folks to King
- Laz is friend of the King
- Mary is overwhelmed by gratitude
- Judas employee of King who misses the reality of who the King is
- Some of the multitude curious bystanders
- Chief priests plotted against King
- Great multitude exalts King
- Greeks (gentiles) wish to belong in the kingdom
- God the Father glorifies the King
- Some of the multitude hardened against belief in the King
* Application: what is your take on the King?


My Father's house, a place of

Internet Monk asks himself a great question, and then proceeds to answer it with his own preferences: "What kind of church would he want to create or be a part of?" It's certainly a question all should ask themselves before committing to one. And as one of the lead shepherds of a church, certainly one that deserves my own self-reflection. My top ten?

1. Not one sermon, not one service, not one ministry exists that doesn't as a matter of course celebrate the gospel: you're broken; but God loves you; Christ Jesus died for your brokenness; now unbroken, you are free to commune with Him.
2. Bibles: KJV or NASB. Not open for debate.
3. # of ministries: men's, women's, youth, church-related (worship & arts, drama, etc.), the needy, the unsaved/missions. Just six.
4. In order of importance, just because you asked: the unsaved/missions, the needy, men's, women's, youth, church-related.
5. The precious table of the Lord? You better believe it's every week.
6. The cross of Christ everywhere you look.
7. Evening confessionals every day of the week; we confront sin, not ignore it.
8. No set time for services; the Spirit leads. We don't feel like stopping that musical worship at the end of first service? We won't just because second service needs set up time. They'll understand they have to wait.
9. No building campaigns. If we can dream it, it's likely someone in the flock can draw it. And very likely some in the flock can build it.
10. Coffee, bagels, & prayer -- every morning.


down, in number about

Some chilling numbers for you:
* 93 -- percent of American Christians who believe reading the Bible is important
* 41 -- percent of American Christians who claim to read their Bible at least once a week
* 17 -- percent of American Christians who claim to read their Bible every day
* 89 -- percent of Christians who believe prayer is critical to their faith
* 55 -- percent of Christians who claim to pray at least once a week
* 31 -- percent of Christians who claim to pray every day
* 23 -- percent of evangelicals who attended at least one Christian music concert at some time over the past eighteen months
* 45 -- percent of evangelicals who admitted to having pirated mp3s on their computer
* 87 -- percent of Christians who recognize the importance of coming to church every week
* 57 -- percent of Christians who admitted to having fallen asleep at least once during a Sunday morning sermon

* 100 -- percent of the statistics above that I completely made up
* 85 -- percent of the above made-up statistics that are within actual results, probably (this statistic, too, is made up)
* 90 -- percent of the above made-up statistics that were they true probably wouldn't surprise us
* 29 -- percent of me that is sad that is true


there who had been ill

I don't get sick often -- once a year at the very most, often less. Under the weather now, and everything loses focus when you're head is clouded. Work is out of the question. Those exercise goals? Right.

But there's also been a spiritual effect. Barely recall my daily Bible reading. Prayer is half-hearted when you're body is lethargic. Missed church on Sunday. Lenten goals? Whatever.

That's what amazes me, is why the devil doesn't make everyone sick all the time. Massive flu outbreaks would cripple churches that depend on weekly tithing. Daily reading schedules would be thrown all out of whack. Pastor can't preach through that book if he's ailing. Concert of prayer? Sorry, we're at the store buying robitussin. I've been told the devil is smarter and more clever than anyone on earth. If so, why hasn't he thought of this?


of their error

Listen, I love Catholics, I really do. In fact, the perfect Christian ideology in my mind blends Cath ideology with Prot ideology. But other times I want to distance myself from Caths as much as possible. Exhibit #231.

There are so many things wrong with the view of sin expressed in this article. The fact that some sins are forgivable and some are not (leave out Mark3/Matt12 for the moment). The fact that sins these days have more "social resonance" because of globalization. The fact that pollution is a sin (don't get me started on CreationCare).

I've written about different perspectives on sin before. My issue with this article is the continued linking of sin to an action; that sin is a noun with very clear definitions (a list that apparently needs to be updated by official councils shudder). No wonder so many think they can go to arbitration before the throne. Vatican councils are keeping checklists of sins, and it would be so easy to point to Exhibit A before God and say "This list is 117 items long, and I've only really broken 2 of them."

I've got a sin to add to that list. How about confusing flocks? Where does that rank?


who also intercedes for us

Sudafed-addled right now. Didn't witness the below live, but whatever.

"Praying for the Lost"
* All should be in prayer for lost every day {Rom10:1}
* Salvation easy {John3:16}
- Jesus is God {John1:1-2, 8:19,24}
- Jesus is Man {1John4:2; John 1:14}
- Jesus never sinned {2Cor5:21}
- Jesus died for all sins {Rom5:6-8}
- Jesus rose from death {1Cor15:3-4}
* Problem? Gospel foolishness to world {1Cor1:18,23; 2:14}
* Liar blinded the lost {2Cor4:4}
* God must work in lost before belief possible {John6:44,65}
- Possible through daily prayer {Rom10:1; Col1:13-14; 1Tim2:1,4; Luke18:1}
* Application: Write down names of lost and commit to praying for them {Isa49:16}


and it is enough for us

This article presumably is about just golf.

This golfer is like all humanity before the throne of God at the end of all days. That we have all sinned -- from little white lie to malicious killing of a bird to things far worse -- is beyond a doubt. The first defense will be like this golfer, and that is claiming their better nature as reason for pardon. The bird-killer says he is an animal-lover. The little-white-lie-teller states that 98% of what he says is truth. The mass murderer says he has a mental disability.

The second line of defense will be like this golfer, and that is pointing to their good works. The bird-killer says he has adopted other strays. The little-white-lie-teller says he volunteers at the local homeless shelter. The rapist says he works with disabled children.

Friend, at the end of all days, neither who you are are nor what you have done is good enough for the perfection of eternity. There is nothing that you can do to earn your way into Heaven. The Bible says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death.

But the good news of God is that one defense is available to all: claiming Jesus Christ as your Savior. He by His nature is good enough, and He by His death on the cross has done enough, and He by His great love is enough for you. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

You don't need to wait until the judgment comes to determine your destination. You don't need to claim any other defense. All you need is to repent of who you are and what you have done, and instead ask that Savior who is enough to be your one and only. Will you make that choice today?


except God alone

Warning: Do not view the video below without tissue nearby.

Warning 2: (for health & wealth proponents only) Do not view the video below if you want to remain in blissful ignorance. Not sure how this fits into your grand scheme of wrongness. God isn't glorified in just happy circumstances. He's glorified in situations where God alone is enough for us, joy or sorrow.


the heart, I test the

Isa29:13 gives us a warning against empty rites, rituals that lack heart. Lord wants your worship to be with the entirety of your heart. But where is the line between a full heart and a heart that is struggling?

Every year I do the Easter run-up by honoring Lenten sentiments. If the Lord can sacrifice, I can surely sacrifice. And while always a struggle to maintain that discipline and commitment, my heart is at least in it. These past few weeks, however, I feel like I'm just going through the motions. No soda and no dessert and no sweets? Tortuous but doable. But also fairly empty-feeling.

On the other hand, isn't that what discipline is always about? Powering through it despite the lack of will? Perhaps the emptiness is not a lack of intention, but rather a struggle against liar's whispering. Certainly the original desire to remember the Lord's sacrifices and commitment has not waned. Perhaps this is liar's way of inducing surrender: apathy.


servants would be fighting so

"Warning God's People" {Titus3:8-15}
* Avoid what is unprofitable (v9)
- Foolish controversies (e.g. worship style)
- Genealogies (cough Mormons! cough)
- Arguments
- Quarrels about Law (e.g. circumcision)
* Deal decisively w/ factious people (v10-11)
- Factious = "causes division"
- Satan attacks church in weakest part -- unity
- Rom16:17-18
- Warn them once (v10)
- Give a second warning (v10, Matt18:15-17)
- Break off fellowship
* Concluding instructions & greeting (v12-15)
- Do everything to help Zenas & Apollos -- assist fellow workers in Christ
- Be devoted to good deeds (v14)
- "You all" -- Paul knew letter being read by more than just Titus
* Application
- To what extent do I get sidetracked by unprofitable things?
- To what extent do I follow Biblical process when dealing w/ divisive people?
- To what extent am I divisive?
- To what extent am I devoted to good deeds?


even now I know that

I better understand why the Lord sought to keep us from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Knowledge of evil is an uncomfortable thing to know. Sitting amidst a crowd at a marriage conference last night, and amidst 50+ couples, there were at least 3 breaking marriages in the room -- and those were just the ones I personally knew. And as the video speaker spoke of dysfunction, I cringed for what those breaking three must feel inside.

I sometimes forget that on every Sunday morning amidst the crowds, there are always people in attendance for whom that Sunday's pulpit message will be speaking directly about their failings. Whether it's a Sanctity of Human Life message to guilt-ridden women, or a message on anger to men with white knuckles, or a forgiveness message to one seeking absolution, we are always surrounded by the broken. I am broken, so I know this to be true. But it's one thing to deal with the recognition of one's own weaknesses. It's altogether a different level of discomfort to deal with the recognition of others' weaknesses. In this case, ignorance truly is bliss.