a sacrifice according to what was said

My father spent his life giving himself up for his family. Toiling away at a moderate-paying job, living a modest life, juggling bills -- all for the sake of setting up the lives of his children. And the result of four decades of toil? A bad ticker and two bad kidneys. As he lay in the hospital the other day, we explained to him that he'd have to be in the hospital for at least a week. In a moment of lucidity he sat up in worry and said that he wasn't sure if his insurance covered a long stay like that and he didn't want us to be dealing with the bills.

I've always thought of Christlikeness as a series of choices; one always has the option of giving up oneself for others. It turns out that Christlikeness is actually a permanent condition, a state of being where self-sacrifice is not so much a decision checkpoint, but rather the baseline attitude you bring to the table. One does not measure one's Christlikeness via some formula that considers how many choices one made that day that was others-centric; one merely measures the size of the heart that routinely lays down self as a matter of course.

My father's ticker isn't so bad after all.


you are clothed with power from on high

"Are Signs & Wonders for Today?"
* Acts4:29-31 -- Do we pray this prayer today or not?
* Three Waves of HS Movement (Documented HERE)
- Pentecostal (1900s): Azusa St Revival
- Charismatic (1960s): Prots & Caths
- Signs & Wonders (1980s): Power evangelism
* Charismatic Movement
- Appreciation for: emphasis on worship, witness, awareness of HS
- Concerns: prioritization of certain spiritual gifts over others; non-emphasis on spiritual disciplines
* Non-Charismatic Viewpoint
- Appreciation for: Bible scholarship
- Concerns: too academic; seems afraid of HS, potentially divisive (anti-Charismatic)
* Cessationist View
- Definition: miraculous signs & wonders ended w/ death of apostles
- Purpose of miraculous gifts was to authenticate apostles as trustworthy authors of Scripture {1Cor13:8-12, Acts2:22, Acts5:12a}
- No personal evidence of miraculous gifts
- Unique ministry of apostles in Acts
- 2Cor12:12, Heb2:3b-4
- History of church after apostolic age
- Spiritual abuses by those who practice such gifts -- which doesn't prove right or wrong
* Signs & wonders are for Today
- Continuity between Jesus' ministry and today {John14:12}
- Signs & wonders done by non-apostles {Acts6:5, Acts6:8, Acts8:6} -- Paul, Barnabas, Stephen, Philip
- Gal3:5
- 1Cor13:8-12 says these gifts will end at Christ's return
- Miraculous gifts are listed and regulated in 1Cor12-14
- Joel2:28: pouring out of HS in last days (prophecy, dreams, visions)
* Conclusions
- Honor uniqueness of Jesus, apostles, & early church -- but be open to idea that door is opening again for today


his life in this world

I read somewhere that people (in general) wish they could live to be very, very old; that we seek immortality. Not talking about the spiritual kind, but the physical. The whole health nut phenomenon and natural diet fads are all ways to maximize the number of years we have on earth. Myself, I've never understood that desire. I want to live long enough to see my kids get older, have families, and establish their lives, but beyond that? I've never been one that sought to see the other side of 100.

My father is dying. He has been in congestive heart failure for years. He is in the middle of a steady march toward complete renal failure. And knowing all of that, his eyes tell me that he'd prefer all this to go away sooner rather than later. In fact, his DNR is clear evidence that prolonging anything is the opposite of his heart's desire. And unlike my mother, I don't have it in me to try to persuade, urge, or yell at him to seek every option possible to squeeze every extra second out of his body.

The most famous song in the musical "Rent" is the song "Seasons of Love". That song preaches the message that you don't measure a life, or even a year in a person's life, through something as prosaic as the passage of time. You measure everything through the lens of love. My father sacrificed literally everything he had over the past thirty-five years for his family. Before I knew Christ, I knew about Christlike sacrificial love through my father. And in that measurement, my father has earned the right to see his end sooner without interference than later through wires and machines and external insistence. And when that end comes, his 70+ years of love will exceed the longer years of many others devoid of such a heart.


when once you have turned again

Saw an article about the video below on Beliefnet. I'd link it for you, but I try to refrain from sending you on to sites as ecumenical as they are. It gives me the shivers. In any case, love the ministry that PC4M is doing -- Christ-centered, open about their sinfulness, and testifying about their 180 through the Holy Spirit. If there's a better model of the Gospel, I haven't heard it. [Note: here's your warning: not a great video to share with youngest ones unless you have a predilection for explaining very adult concepts to them.]


and loses or forfeits himself

Been away for awhile. Thoughts have been jumbling around, and just haven't found the route from head to arm to fingers to keyboard to cyberspace.

Anyway, this story deserves to be read today. The better read might be the actual letter from the coach to the newspaper describing the actions. Either read is better than reading anything about ARod.

Your spiritual state is very similar to the events in the story. You see, even if we disagree with or don't understand why a particular rule exists, or disagree with the consequences of breaking said rule, once it is broken, the penalty must be paid. So many of us think we live good, moral lives -- disagreeing with the rules that govern eternity. We believe that we just might be good enough to gain the riches of Heaven. Unfortunately for us, our sense of justice, and our sense of right and wrong don't change the fact that once the rule has been broken, the penalty must be paid. And in the case of our sin against a holy God, the Bible says the wages of sin is death.

But like a pair of missed free throws, there are ways of satisfying debts that allow broken rules to reflect justice and honor and glory. And in your case, that came in the form of a Savior willing to bear your sin on His shoulders on a cross on a hill. And if you understand and accept that His actions paid for your debt, the Bible says if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you shall be saved.

A better ending for your story awaits you. Will you take it this very day?


the tomb, while it was still

In my local radio station's continued fight to get me to like the new Tomlin single, they've been playing it relentlessly. I swear I hear it every hour. Still not taken by it yet -- lyrics still a little cliche, and the melody still a little nondescript. In any case, the first video below has Tomlin speaking about the song, and he mentions the one lyric I do like: "the grave is overwhelmed". Wonderful imagery as we approach the Easter season. The second clip has the actual song for those who lost that battle with the radiowaves.


if you forgive the sins of any

Had the opportunity for grace today, and I took it. Usually I'm the unforgiving sort, which makes no sense, I know, and could've spent the day cold-shouldered, but chose against it. My heart remains steely, so the grace was only external, but sometimes that's okay, I believe. Grace is an act, and the reception of grace is the goal. The heart behind the grace not always so important. And all I can do is pray the grace makes a difference, like it usually does.


and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people

"Tamajaq Weekend"
* Unreached people group in Niger
* "God moving all of history toward day when every nation, tongue, & tribe will give praise & honor to Jesus Christ"
* 1Cor3:6-8: Not the planter or the waterer, but God who gives growth
* Isa35:1: "We trust that when we invest in lives of people, it will count toward eternity"
* "World is filled with the unreached, not the unreachable"
* Prayer requests
- For open ears
- That the Word of God would be sweet to hear
- That the ministers & believers would walk worthily
- That the Gospel would go forth fearlessly & boldly
- For the faithful transportation of the Gospel message to all of N Africa


you may have life in His name

I don't have anything else to say except the video below needs to be watched, and then forwarded to EVERYONE.


who chooses you is

In the middle of the Gospel of Mark, and something in ch10 caught my eye. v17 begins the story of the rich, young ruler, and many when reading this story cue up their best haughty Pharisee voice when reading his lines before he leaves in sadness. But a little detail in v17 that I don't ever recall seeing gives me pause in my quick judgment. v17 says that the young man runs up to Christ and kneels before Him. That position on his knees doesn't quite jibe with haughty voice, now does it?

It's easy for us to look down on this man as going away and choosing riches over Christ, and that is not the picture being painted here. I've written about this story before, and pointed out that we all struggle with choosing things above Christ. This is a lesson about our personal idols.

The v17 detail points out what a tough choice it is to make. This is a rich, young ruler not accustomed to kneeling in front of anyone methinks. And to do so before Christ shows his heart for God. And the fact that he goes away sorrowful only means he is distressed that it's an either/or situation here, and he needs to rethink his commitments and priorities. And from the outside looking in we think this is an easy choice, that God always wins without hesitation, but really, have you examined your life lately?


the lesser is blessed by

Monday evening, spoke to some brothers about humility. Of all the virtues, this is the one I'm worst at. (Pride would be the name of that grotesque creature flitting about me trying to dodge that sword of light being swung at its head.) I made the statement that 90% of believers have no idea what Christ-like humility is all about.

Most would define humility as making yourself seem lesser. They would consider someone humble who doesn't take the spotlight. Or someone who makes self-deprecating comments about himself. Or someone who is constantly praising the work of other people. Or someone who serves without mentioning his service.

You know who doesn't fit that false definition of humility? Jesus.

Christ was always in the spotlight, always the center of attention. That's why He taught huge crowds and didn't send them away. He was literally in the spotlight when He was transfigured. Christ never made self-deprecating comments. In fact, He called Himself the light of the world and the Way and the Son of Man and I AM. And while He did point out the faith of others, He also pointed out His own good works to the Pharisees as proof that He was from the Father.

Humility is NOT making yourself seem lesser. It's knowing who you are, and then thinking less about you and more about others. The reason Christ is the ultimate example of humility is that He knew who He was -- the Son of the Living God, Creator of All Things -- and still took a lesser role despite who He was, simply for the sake of other people. And the reason false humility is so damning is that you are pretending to think of others when you are still so full of yourself.


the darkness has blinded his eyes

Follow-up post on yesterday's sermon on spiritual beings. Pastor quoted some statistics around the high percentage of folks who don't believe in Satan -- something like 50% of the American populace, with a similarly high percentage of Christians denying his existence. This doesn't surprise me, of course. I once heard the line that "Satan's greatest trick was to convince people he didn't exist."

The thing is, I don't think Satan even needs to get involved. I think people -- without his influence -- want to believe he is a fairy tale. Which is counter-intuitive to me since I would think people would want a convenient excuse not to take responsibility for their own actions; they want to find a being to blame it on. But I think they also want to blame that on God, not Satan.

But people also find it easier to disbelieve all of the other things in the Word if they can rationalize away Satan. There is such extensive mention of angels, demons, and Satan throughout Scripture, the only way to deny their existence is with a very liberal interpretation of the Bible. And if you can reach that point, well out the window goes sanctity of life, prohibition of homosexuality, Biblical marriage, et al.

Which leads me to believe that maybe demons don't have to work so very hard. Why work hard to bring about bad decisions and bad beliefs that people are already hell-bent on making?


beings that I saw beneath the

"Angels Among Us"
* Holy Angels
* Their existence & reality {Matt18:10, Matt26:53}
- OT: 100+ refs; NT: 165+ refs
- Throughout Scripture; throughout diff times
* Creation of angels {Ps148:5, Col1:16, Job38:6-7}
- People don't become angels upon death
- Created before earth
* Nature of angels {Heb1:14, Matt22:30, Luke20:36}
- No physical body
- Can't be seen sans permission
- Hyperintelligent, hyperstrong, hyperfast, etc
* Organization of angels {Eph3:10, Jude9, Dan10:13, Isa6:1}
- Cherubim
- Seraphim
- Angel of YHWH (pre-incarnate Christ)
* Work of angels {Heb1:14, Acts12:7, Acts27:23-24, Luke16:22}
* Fallen Angels/Demons
* Their existence & reality {Matt12:22-28, Luke10:17}
- 100+ refs to demons in NT -- in every book except Heb
* Origin of demons {Matt12:24, Matt25:41, Rev12:4}
- Not spirits of dead evil people
- Fallen angels {2Pet2:4}
* Nature of demons {Eph6:12, Mark1:23-24, Matt8:29, Acts19:11-16}
- Spirit beings committed to evil
- Organized
* Activity of demons {Luke8:30, Eph6:11-12, Rev16:13-16}
- To thwart plans of God
- Tempts us to sin
- To gather world against Israel at Armageddon
- Possess people
* Can a Christian be possessed? {1John4:4, 1John5:18-19, 1Cor5:5}
- NO
- Can "afflict, affect, influence" but not possess
* Destiny of demons {Jude6, 2Pet2:4, Matt25:41}
- All will be cast into lake of fire on JDay
- Already defeated; doomed to fail
* Satan, head of demons
* Existence & reality {Matt4:1-11, Matt12:24-26, Matt13:39}
- All NT books mention Satan; 7 OT books do
- Christ spoke frequently of Satan
* Nature & names of Satan {Ezek28:12-14, John8:44, 1Pet5:8, John10:10}
- Devil, adversary, evil one, ruler of this world, dragon, Baalzebub, Lucifer
* Original state & fall {Ezek28:11-19, Isa14:12-20}
- Coveted glory of God
- Sinned in pride & disobedience
* Work of Satan {Acts5:3, 1Cor7:5, 1Thess2:18, Rev2:10}
- Tempted Christ; tempts us
- Commands demons
- Deceives nations
- Will command forces at Armageddon
* Defense of believer against Satan {John17:15, Jude8-9, 1Pet5:8, Jam4:7, Eph6:11-19}
- Pray for protection of self & those in our care
* Spiritual Warfare
- Know you are on winning team {1John4:4, Acts16:18, 2Cor10:3-4, Jam4:7}
- Strongest defense is staying close to God through Word & prayer, living in obedience {Eph6:11-18, 1Pet5:8}
- Be aware of spiritual battle {2Kings6:15-17, Eph6:11-19, Ex17:9-13}
- Be devoted to prayer {Numb20:16, Ex17:9-13, Isa37:15, Dan10:10-13, Dan20:21, Acts10:3-4, Acts12:5-12, Rev12:7-8}
- Stay away from evil