but is completely clean

Sometimes I understand why some believers don't listen to Christian music stations: because they make questionable choices about what they air. Whether it is the nonstop Christmas carols from Thanksgiving to New Year's to the random secular choices they play to the terrible song choices written by believers. My case in point today: a new song by some new artist who was called into Christian music according to her bio.

Has she listened to her own lyrics for her song? I have issues with at least two lines. First, the chorus states that because we're on "Your shoulders" we're free to be ourselves. Um, no we're not. Being ourselves is what got us separated from God in the first place, with a need for a cross to bridge the gap. The Bible actually calls us to be like Him, not ourselves.

Secondly, "perfection is my enemy"? No, it is in fact decidedly NOT the enemy. Satan and the world is our enemy. Perfection is actually our goal. That's the whole point of sanctification. In fact, because our base nature doesn't naturally seek perfection, we needed Perfection to save us by dying on the cross for us.

Advice to all Christian musicians: songs that have a world's perspective aren't Christian songs even if they're written and played by a Christian. Go make some more secular albums and once you've gotten it out of your system and can free yourself of the world, then go write some songs from a Christian perspective. Then maybe I can listen to the radio in peace.


and they blasphemed the name of God

For my daily Bible reading this year, I've been using the ESV study Bible instead of my standard NASB. The ESV has been getting raves from believers, including from a few I know who are as extreme fundamentalist (no dancing, no skin showing, no drums in church, etc.) as they come. I don't mind the ESV so much except for two things. First, just like why I hate the NIV and think it's from the devil, it screws up the translation of John3:16 and leaves out the word "begotten".

Second, and what bugs me more, is that just like the weak NIV, they refuse to capitalize the letter "H" when it begins a pronoun that refers to Jesus or God. Now I understand the intent of the translators. It's not grammatically correct since only proper nouns are capitalized and not pronouns. And I understand that the original translations don't include deferential capitalizations, and that it was a western convention to do so. Here's the thing: those are the same arguments that atheists make on why we shouldn't capitalize the word "God".

Do you know that Jews don't say or write out the word Yahweh? Some Muslims won't write the name Allah either. And some people write G-d instead of God as a symbol of respect. That's how much faith means to those people. Who cares about linguistics when you're dealing with the Creator of All Things? The Bible tells us that "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." We have lost our holy fear, we have lost our ability to be reverent when we decide to drop letters for the sake of being grammatically correct. Prots can have their Jesus-as-best-friend concept if that means I also have to sacrifice the reverence instilled by Latin mass and enormous cathedrals.


and will not fade away, reserved in heaven

"The Security of the Believer"
* Just like diff twixt standby flight and reserved seat, diff twixt faith with assurance of salvation & that without
- "Takes some of the joy out of the journey"
- 2Pet2:10a
* Definitions & distinctions
- LCCC Statement of Faith
- Grudem: "The perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God’s power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again."
- Ryrie: "Eternal security is the work of God which guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is forever and can not be lost."
- A secure salvation is a true fact whether one realizes it or not. Thus a believer has security whether or not he has assurance.
* Why do people lack assurance?
- Some doubt their commitment to Christ, or can't pinpoint moment of salvation
- Some question they used correct procedure to express faith in Christ
- Some don't believe security of believer
- Some lack assurance when they sin; although a "normal Christian experience never includes sinlessness"
- Trials cause some to doubt; although they are "crucible in which assurance of faith is formed" {Rom5:1,3-4}
* Arminian View of Security
- Presumptuous to assume knowledge of eternal destiny
- Leads to license to sin
- Counter: salvation NOT a joint effort
* Evidence of Eternal Security
- Purpose of God {Rom8:30, Eph1:5-12}
- Power of God {Jude24, John10:28-29, Phil1:6}
- Death of Christ {Rom8:33-34, John6:39-40}
- Intercession of Christ {John17, Heb7:25, 1John2:1}
- Baptism of Holy Spirit {1Cor12:13}
- Seal of Holy Spirit {Eph4:30}
- His Word guarantees nothing will undo salvation {Rom8:28-39, 1John5:13}
* Problem passages
- Gal5:4 or Heb10:26-31: Appeal to live in liberty of grace rather than legalism
- 1Cor9:24-27, 3:14-15: Loss of rewards rather than salvation
- Heb6:1-8: Fearful consequences of willful sin that doesn't include loss of salvation


and let my declaration fill

During Rick Warren's prayer for President Obama yesterday, Warren quoted (in English) the most sacred of Jewish prayers -- Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad, "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God! The LORD is One!" Wondrous one and I always believed it would be awesome to be Jewish Christians -- how much cooler it would be to see all of the connections twixt the Jewish heritage and Jeshua/Jesus.

I once did a whole communion meditation on the connections between the Lord's Supper and a Passover seder. A quick google search reveals multiple connections to the words of Christ and to the Shema. In Mark12, when asked what the most important commandment was, Christ begins His answer with the Shema in v29 and links that to the first commandment. In John10, when Christ is almost stoned at the Feast of the Dedication, it is because He declares that "I and the Father are one" in v30. Many commentators believe that to be a clear allusion to the Shema, in addition to a declaration of His deity.

I've made fun of seminary before, but if there is a single reason to attend, it would be to learn Hebrew. Maybe that would be a great 2009 resolution...


my soul would choose suffocation, death rather than

Everyone and their mothers will comment on the Inauguration today, and every Christian who voted for Obama will claim victory and rejoice along with the rest of the world. You think siding with the world is somehow a good thing? Those same Christians will rebuke those believers who refuse to watch the celebrity celebration that is the inauguration of Obama, and will rebuke them for turning their backs on someone God allowed into office.

Be clear on this: just because God appoints those in authority does NOT mean He approves of them.

Take your lesson from 1Sam8. The people of Israel almost as one voice cry out for a king, and the Lord is absolutely against it, knowing the evil that will be caused by the man the people adore. God finally allows the people to make their bad decision, leaves them to their own devices. And He then warns them of the wickedness that will be wrought by their chosen leader and tells them "Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

Israel, meet Saul. America, meet Obama. Believers, meet the fruits of wickedness borne by the seeds of your bad choices.


was still speaking, behold, a crowd

I previously posted some overheard airport conversations. Compared to what I overheard today, those snippets seem completely normal. One of the things that I love about The Office is main character Michael Scott. What makes him hysterical is how completely unaware he is of what he says and how it affects others. One might believe it is impossible to be that self-unaware and this morning's stint at the airport proves that to be wrong.

Sitting literally next to me, a man was on his cellphone speaking to his apparently estranged wife -- not softly, but loudly enough for anyone within 20-30 feet to hear him -- and having the following conversation:

"I can't believe we're having this conversation. I don't want to spend all day flying to get home to you and have the same arguments. (she speaks) Why do you believe that? I'm coming home to you aren't I? (she speaks) You're not going to be happy until I say out loud that I am choosing you over my kids, are you? I would never try to come between you and your kids. (she speaks) I'm coming home, aren't I? I'm your husband aren't I? I haven't hurt you, have I? Or at least much. (she speaks) I'm telling you I don't know. I'm going to hang up if you keep this up, Annette."

I could go on, but it went on like this for no less than 20 min. Loudly. With people around him snickering. It was all I could do not to snicker with them. Of course, I was too busy transcribing his conversation...


has had regard for the humble state of

"The Humility of the Incarnation"
* People say they want to be humble; most want others to think they are humble
* Humility of Mary {Luke1:38}
- Key word: Servant
- Accepted will of Master
* Humility of Joseph {Matt1:24}
- Key word: Obedience
- Obeyed will of Master
* Humility of Christ {Mark10:45}
- Key word: Sacrifice
- Lay down life for others
- Phil2:8
* God values humility {Jam4:4}
- Isa66:2
- Not help those who help self -- help those who humble self
* Consider own response of humility {John3:14-16}
- "I become less; He becomes more"
- Can't fake humility -- well, can but it doesn't take you far eternally
- Become child of God and allow working of Holy Spirit


to reconcile them in peace

I just came through a few week stretch where I wasn't sleeping well. A brother is struggling right now with rest, both physical and emotional. I won't rehash all of my thoughts on the subject of rest. Instead I'll leave it to -- well, who else would I leave it to. I'll go ahead and skip over my usual intro (America's best pastor and so on):


ranks first among the

Here's a comparison for you:

Disciple A: In Mark 5, Christ casts a legion of demons from out of a troubled spirit. The now untroubled spirit instantly recognizes the Master who saved him, and desires to attach himself and follow Him. Christ actually has to command ex-legion to stay in his area and testify of the works of God to friends and family. v18 says that ex-legion is begging Christ to let him accompany Him. He wants so much to be with Christ, he resorts to begging.

Disciple B: Has a commitment to a group of brothers and sisters to gather and fellowship. Even more than the commitment to the brothers and sisters is the commitment to God Almighty to study the Word. Oh, but the playoffs are on Sunday, so....

Hmmm, which one is lukewarm. Difficult, difficult...


shall not follow the masses in

Now THIS is an interesting article. Quick thoughts:
* For the evil NYT, this is a fairly balanced article on religion. I guess a broken watch is right two times a day, and the devil's minions can speak truth every now and then.
* How is it humanly possible to mention the New Calvinists and not mention John Piper even once?! That's like discussing The Lord of the Rings without mentioning the One Ring. Yes, my inner nerd inadvertently likened my favorite pastor to the symbol of evil.
* Love this quote: "There are plenty of comfortable people who can say, ‘God’s on my side,’ ” Harris says. “But they couldn’t turn around and say, ‘God gave me cancer.’"
* I'm reading an interesting book right now that discusses the history of SNL. One interviewee discusses the difference between SNL and the Letterman Show and mentions how SNL cared more about being hip than smart whereas Letterman was the reverse. I'll give you one guess which side Driscoll would come down on in this analogy. That's not a compliment, by the way.
* On the last page of the article, it discusses Driscoll's intolerance of dissent, and how not only did he kick the dissenters out of his church, he called them out on their sin for dissenting against his mandate from God. I promise you -- I promise you -- that I would be the same way if ever I were to start a church. I don't care one whit about becoming a megachurch or pleasing everyone or preventing a split. I care about doing what I think is right by what I believe God is telling me. And if you disagree, the back door is always open, Luke.


will open up to us

Because I travel frequently, I have a regular driver that takes me to and from the airport. She's reliable and courteous and a safe driver. Her one character flaw (at least the one I see) is that she is a compulsive liar. The first several times I used her, she kept telling me conflicting stories of the things that happened in her life. Now as someone who frequents cabs and car services, I understand why deceit might be the first option in conversation. I used to lie to cab drivers all the time whenever they picked me up and asked me what I did for a living (circus clown and speechwriter for Al Gore were my two favorite random responses). I saw this as a matter of personal security -- these people knew where I lived; why would I also tell them what I did for a living? Anyway, even with a regular driver, I am averse to getting too personal with what is going on in my life. So usually our conversations are fairly generic.

This morning, as a favor to the driver, I shared a ride to the airport. And the co-passenger -- apparently another regular for my driver -- spent half the ride chatting it up with the driver as if they were good friends. And sharing intimate details about where she was going and why and who she was seeing and her family and how she was feeling about seeing her mother, etc. It would be one thing to share all this with your ride to the airport, but to do it with a random stranger sharing the ride with you?

Maybe confession really is good for the soul. I don't know what is inside us that makes us want to divulge our lives to others so freely. Although come to think of it, why else be on Facebook?


in the womb I knew you

"The Sanctity of Human Life"
* Jer1:5
* Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton results:
- Infanticide allowed at any time
- Infanticide allowed for any reason
- 40 million+ killed since 1975
* "There is no room for a pro-choice position in classical evangelical Christianity"
- Cannot promote life while also supporting cycle of death
- Pro-choice for others (while personally pro-life) is not a compromise twixt pro-abortion and pro-life -- there is no middle ground
- "Being pro-life is the only position that is consistent with God's character & the testimony of Scripture"
* Testimony of early church
- Didache 2.2, 5.1-2
- Athenagoras, A Plea for Christians
- Augustine, Calvin, and others all pro-life
* Testimony of Scripture
- Life begins in womb {Job31:15, Ps139:13-16, Ps51:5}
- God Creator of all people, and all people belong to Him {Gen1:27, Ps100:3, Isa64:8, 1Cor6:19-20}
- God has exclusive right over life & death {Deut 32:39, Ex20:13, Ex21:22-25} -- God can delegate that right to man (capital punishment, just war, self-defense, etc.)
- God HATES the shedding of innocent blood {Gen4:10, Gen9:6, Prov6:16-17, 2Kings24:2-4, Ezek35:6}
* Applications
- Commit to upholding the truth of the sanctity of human life
- Teach children that God values life; teach them about God's design about sex, marriage, and kids
- Consider ministries to women in need/pregnant women
- Get involved politically
- Boycott pro-infanticide companies
- Carenet
* Additional resources:
- One excellent resource can be found HERE
- Be a voice


were also insulting Him with

Praying about going through a particular curriculum. Weighing the pros and cons, and leaning toward the various cons at this point. Don't get me wrong -- by any measure, it's a good curriculum. Just doesn't seem right for the needs of my group at this particular time. While gathering feedback from a brother currently going through the program, I heard about a particular perspective this series of lessons brings to various teaching positions: the offensiveness of sin to God.

Example: divorce. One can teach that divorce breaks a union that God formed. You can teach about how complicated it makes one's life shuffling kids between parents, having two Christmases, etc. You can teach about how the kids are emotionally affected. You can teach about the cost of lawyers and settlements and practical complications. And all of these are standard reasons -- and good reasons -- why one should not get divorced.

But you are missing one massive reason: God HATES divorce. The Word is clear on this point, but we miss how critical this point really is. In fact, if you only taught this one point, it should be enough to matter to a Christian. The fact that this sin is OFFENSIVE to God. It literally angers Him and makes Him morally outraged. And not picking on divorce -- TTP goes through various other worldly perspectives (evolution, infanticide, et al), and shows how these issues are not simply just logical or philosophical issues; they are issues that God has a clear position on where counter positions offend His being.

Every day I am in a constant state of managing the outrage and anger I have in my being at various people offending me to some degree over some issue. I never stopped to think that God had a similar temperament, where things outrage Him all day every day. And perhaps the best part of TTP is that idea: aligning our perspective to His perspective, and making us think more about what outrages Him than what outrages us.


imagine that you in the

Sometimes I attend or teach Sunday school at my church, and I love the discussions we get into. One of the people who attends my church has a very particular mindset from which she approaches our discussions, and that is the exactness of Scripture -- if it doesn't say it in Scripture, it is either not true or not worth considering. And on one hand, I see where she is coming from. I believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, and that whatever God wants us to learn can be found in the actual words of the Word.

On the other hand, I don't believe there is any harm in speculating about what is not in the Word. There is much that is left out in Scripture, and just because it is not in the Word doesn't mean it isn't worth wondering about. One of my favorite songs is "Boy Like Me/Man Like You" by Rich Mullins, where Mullins speculates what Christ was like as a child. No, the Bible doesn't say He ever skipped rocks, but since He was completely human as much as He was completely divine, why wouldn't He have skipped rocks? And no, the Bible doesn't ever say he kissed a baby on the forehead when He was holding one, but is it blasphemous to consider it? And I would argue that a rock-skipping, baby-kissing Christ adds to my understanding and love for Him in ways that a singular focus on a picture of Christ derived solely from Scripture lacks.

The Word is clear that we can't add a single serif to it, and that the Word is complete and whole and all-sufficient for instruction. All agreed. But I don't think that is the same thing as being mutually exclusive to a position where our wonder, our curiosity, our contextualizing based on our knowledge of humanity and history can't also be allowed to ponder about God and His nature and the nature of the great heroes of faith. So long as we don't stray from or contradict the Word, I think the Lord loves having the kind of conversation where He bends down as we say, Lord, what about this?


and with all your strength

The band Switchfoot gets their music played on mainstream radio. Their sound and look resemble mainstream alternative music, so that's easy to understand. But they also get played on Christian radio because they are -- as individuals -- Christian. So even if their lyrics aren't directly evangelical (in the sense they reference the cross or resurrection or say the name Jesus), their music approaches themes from a Christian perspective.

That doesn't mean they can't release songs or albums that are far more direct and clear about their faith. And lead singer Jon Foreman has done that. Love the recent single released off this album. Lyrics can be found HERE. Love the simple chorus, and love the version of the Lord's prayer that ends it.

Video of an acoustic version of the single below:


has chosen the good part

I'm going to lose all my evangelical street cred by saying this, but I simply don't get Israel, or the Protestant love for Israel and Jerusalem and Jews. I haven't studied Scripture sufficiently, I admit, and I know mainline Prots will say something about God having a plan for His chosen people and how much He loves Jerusalem and blah blah blah. I have to be the least pro-Israel evangelical in the world, because I just don't buy it. And unlike some people, I'm not going to try to defend Israel for their recent behavior.

Listen: God doesn't "choose" all of the Israelites. Did He not choose between Cain and Abel? Did He not choose between Isaac and Ishmael? God doesn't "choose" based on race, but on faith. His chosen people are the spiritual seed of Abraham and Isaac and Moses and David et al. -- the ones that follow Him and believe in Him and seek to live for Him. And in my book, constant denial of the Messiah isn't overcome by their historical lineage. All you evangelicals can keep making the excuses you want to make for Israel; but that's why I no longer number myself among your ilk.


up on the mountain, and there

Well this was a surprise. Did NOT expect to be snow-shoeing to start the new year...


from that day on they planned

"How to Have a Happy New Year"
* Top 10 New Year's Resolutions -- none of them spiritual in nature
* Important to have commitments, especially in your walk {Isa32:8}
* Three basics of goal-setting
- Write goals down
- Read goals often & ask God for power to accomplish them
- Make first few goals most important ones
* Important Goals
- Bible-reading {1Pet2:2, Ps1:1-3, Josh1:8}
- Prayer {Luke18:1, Eph6:18, Col4:2}
- Marriage {Eph5:25, 1Pet3:7}
- Small group {Prov27:17, Heb10:24-25}
- Financial stewardship {Mal3:10}
* Three benefits of goal-setting
- Self-control {1Cor9:24-27, 1Tim4:7b-8}
- Motivation {Heb12:1, Phil3:13b-14}
- Joy {Prov13:19a, Prov13:12b}
* Other things to consider
- Do something never done before
- Learn something never learned before
- Go somewhere never gone before
- Ask someone to hold you accountable


of a law of physical requirement

Now that's a good way to end and start a year -- complete silence...

Not going to rehash all of the potential topics I've mused over the last few days. Actually been very nice being away from a keyboard for hours and hours a day. It has been said by many people that the more technology allows us to be connected, the more isolated we can actually become. Why meet someone for coffee when you've been facebooking them all week? Why make an actual phone call when you've been reading their blog? Why speak to them in person when texts have been exchanged?

Yesterday morning, met with some brothers in real life to discuss our walks and to pray together. Then last night, spent some time at an actual physical location to enjoy board and card games (and not facebook app games or video games). I suppose it's the same reason people still buy books rather than e-readers -- some things really are better in person rather than in some virtual space.

And here's the spiritual lesson for those looking for one. That walk with God of yours? Can be all virtual -- church on Sundays, a book or two on faith, grace at meals. Or it can be intensely personal and real -- One-on-one quiet time, serving in ministry, deep prayer times, a clear God-focus in all you do. Maybe everything is better in person than in some once-removed state. Goal for 2009? Making sure that walk is more latter than former...