Saturday, July 30, 2011


Today we're taking Rebekah to the zoo, for possibly our last trip with only one child. I'm really looking forward to it, seeing as how she's generally incredibly happy, especially when she's watching animals do cute animal things. Should be a great time.

And how can she not be entertained? She'll get to see butterflies swinging from the trees and climbing on vines. Turtles will be on the prowl, waiting for an unsuspecting antelope to walk by - and then they'll pounce! The tigers will gently float along in their little pond, waiting for little kids to drop in a handful of food pellets. And don't forget the sheep putting on their amazing aquatic show, with the jumping through hoops and synchronized swimming and doing tricks and being rewarded with fish!

What's that? Ridiculous, you say? Well, yeah, that's kind of the point. Obviously these animals don't do those things - you could say it's against their nature. Butterflies do butterfly things, turtles act like turtles, etc. If something looks like a monkey and acts like a monkey, it doesn't matter if it calls itself a zebra, or if someone labeled it a horse, it's a monkey. Animals act according to their natures.

With that in mind, let's take a look at what Peter had to say:

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire." (2 Peter 1:3-4)

This text was the basis for our sermon last Sunday, and it's worth repeating. If you are in Christ, you are a partaker of the divine nature. You've been born again, you are a new creation, you have been raised from death to life. Is it possible that the new, living nature can be the same as the dead, old one? A person with a new nature will have the appropriate new appetites. A person with the divine nature will have new, fitting behaviors.

The challenge is to examine yourself. Do you actually show the signs being a partaker of the divine nature? Do your thoughts, desires, attitudes, actions, environments, and affections appropriately represent new birth in Christ and transferal from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of Jesus Christ? If not, are you really in the faith? Then today is the day to repent and believe the gospel.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Oh yeah, that's me

Read this. Personalize it, because it definitely applies to you. Me, too.

It's real easy to read the Bible and see myself as the good guys (in the places where there are any, of course). I can somehow relate to David, but can't imagine being one of the faithless multitudes cowering because of Goliath. I can see what all those people in scripture did wrong, and wonder how they cold be so foolish. Pointing out people making the same mistakes today? Oh, that's easy - far too easy.

But actually using scripture as a mirror and seeing reflections of my own sinfulness? Now that's a lot more of a challenge - not because it's difficult, but because it's painful. It also happens to be blessed and beneficial.

Sure, it's more fun to read scripture (or an open letter) and think of how awful those other guys are. But it's significantly better to diagnose my own sin, repent of it, and kill it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Praise the Lord? I would certainly hope so!

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens;
   praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
   praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
   praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
   and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
(Psalm 148:1-5)

Yep. That's pretty straightforward.

Now, God deserves praise (to say the least!) from everything and everyone because He made them all - not only did He make it all, He continually sustains the entire universe by the word of His power, holding all things together and supplying all needs. Given that, what does it say about those who refuse to praise Him, obey Him, submit to Him, or even acknowledge that He exists?

What would be a fitting response from God to such insolence?

Who, would you say, has a better understanding of reality and how things work - us or God? What is the proper response when my view of reality clashes with what God says about it?

When the one who caused and sustains your very existence issues a command, what are the acceptable reasons for not obeying?

Just axing some questions, maybe a little something in there to think about.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Going Solo

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Dave Ramsey on a Friday afternoon drive. The show is about financial responsibility, with a particular focus on eliminating debt, and Friday's shows are largely dedicated to celebrating with people who have recently escaped debt. One debt-free story that day caught my attention. This couple had begun the process in earnest, after however many months of budgeting and sacrificing, they had grown a little weary. Intellectually it made sense to get out of debt, they believed it was a good idea to go about it so intensely, but the process was really, really hard. So when they saw that a live show was coming to their area, they went and gathered with thousands of others who were fighting the same debt battle they were. Refreshed and encouraged, they were able to continue the fight with renewed energy and persevere to victory.

When I heard them tell their story, all I could think was, I know where I really need to be Sunday morning!

This couple clearly understood that when you're in a difficult struggle, it helps tremendously to be mutually encouraged with others in the same situation. Share your victories and failures, help each other put the past behind them and move on, encourage one another to persevere. Without that, it's easy for a good idea to fall apart when things get too rough.

Many others in all sorts of circumstances get this concept as well. Substance abuse support groups, divorce recovery groups, playgroups for little kids (really, so their moms can get together), people training for marathons together, whatever. If it's a hard but worthwhile goal, people everywhere know they need to support each other.

So why is it that so many supposed self-professed Christians don't seem to get this? Or they understand and just don't care?

We've seen stats about how many claim to be Christians yet never go to church. I'm sure we've all heard cries of LEGALISM!!!1! whenever someone suggests that Christians should commit to a church and actually attend. Heaven help you if you suggest something like joining a small group or doing anything beyond attending on Sunday morning. The voices clamoring against church membership (or the organized church itself!) are legion, many of which belong to people who profess to be in Christ!

And this is where we could recount the many Biblical arguments for church membership - the myriad 'one another' commands, the fact that the church is where Jesus hangs out, the incongruity between claiming to love Jesus while despising his bride, the illustration of being part of the body, the occasional outright command, etc.

But even if none of this was true, not even a single bit, claiming to be a Christian and not being committed to a church would still be colossally stupid. Look, the Christian life is hard. There are bound to be numerous times where you're tempted to give up entirely. All the other things listed above that people know they need help to persevere through - living as a faithful Christian is harder than any of them, maybe all of them combined. So who would ever think it's a good idea to make a go of it alone?

I would suspect that if your life as a Christian is easy enough without being mutually committed to a congregation of fellow believers, your life isn't remotely Christian.

If you're for some reason claiming to follow Jesus, yet remain defiantly disobedient and utterly foolish regarding his church, I urge you to stop pretending and finally choose one. Either obey Jesus and be part of the chosen vessel for displaying God's glory, or stop claiming his name.