a tragic dream.

I had a dream. A dream that people would stop wasting their lives chasing a dream. Sadly, it was just a dream.

[don’t waste your life. – John Piper, life changing.]

There seems to be this slander of people who radically devote themselves to God. As if someone who gives everything to Christ is doing the most.

It disheartens me because this view advances the notion of a wasted life. A wasted life is the life that would be willing to appear before Jesus at his great white throne saying look at my knowledge of the latest fashions, hairstyles, terminologies, world news, movies ect … ect …

Now, there is a such thing as being missional. Missional is entering the culture & seeking to use the culture as a means of exposing the beauty of Christ in a dark world. Learning about the latest movies & such for the sake of reconciling the conversation back to Christ. But, this view can also be deadly if we fool ourselves to think we are watching a movie for Christ when we are actually watching it for self-gratification (I Cor 10:31).

We, & I truly mean we, are so infiltrated by the American Dream that we have no idea of how deep our idolatry goes. We place things before God & offer more time, money, emotion, & our very lives to attain these things. Even using God as a means to work for Him & expect Him to owe us due to our service of Him.

There are unevangelized, filthy water drinking, starving, persecuted, crying out for the gospel of the grace of Christ people in the world … while we waste our lives talking about them. Not doing anything. Talking about them.

Our job as disciples of Christ is to make Christ beautiful.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—(Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
Give radically & reap radically.  Give up your life for Christ & you will find your life. Where your treasure is, your heart will follow. Sow radically into the kingdom of Christ with service, monetarily, prayer & fasting. Reap spiritually blessings that would far surpass anything you’ll ever attain from the rubbish this world has to offer. Be found in Christ death on a cross, by faith, & find your life in his resurrection.
Know that your standing with God is based on Christ & His righteousness. So regardless of your giving your position with God is unchanged. But please, do not waste your life. Do not approach Christ as an additive to your life. Respect Jesus as Lord & abide in him as he abides in you.

have an open mind, but a closed hand

As a human being we all have a thirst for knowledge.

We want to be known for knowing things.

Being honest, I have an issue with the thirst for knowledge. Now before you go running to the Proverbs & showing me verses about wise council, knowledge, & wisdom … hear me out.

[you can listen to this series on the life of the mind here, for free. I especially recommend Francis Chan’s message]

I’m not saying that knowledge is a sin, but the thirst for knowledge being placed above Jesus is.

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? – I Cor 4:7

Everything we have is given to us. How can you expect someone to have something, especially the gospel, unless it is given to them?

This thought should drive you towards humility. That by the sheer grace of God you have anything. We should have an open mind to what others know & what we can learn from them. Eat the chicken, throw away the bone.

But, as G.K. Chesterson would say, “The point of an open mind is to close on something.” Along with having an open mind we need also close on truth. Some truths in a Christians life are closed handed issues. Jesus is one head of the Triune God (John 1:1, Isa 9:6, Titus:2:13), Jesus being born of a virgin (Isa 7:14), Jesus living a sinless life while experiencing every temptation (Heb 4:15), Jesus exchanging his sinlessness with your filth on the cross by grace alone & faith alone (II Cor 5:21, Rom 8:4, Eph 2:8-10), Jesus resurrecting from the dead promising to also resurrect you (I Cor 15:20-28), & Jesus being the only name that anyone can be saved by (Acts 4:12) are just a few.

It is not arrogant to close your mind on Christ because He is absolute Truth. Jesus being the only way is just as arrogant as a Jewish man saying YAHWEH is the only way to heaven or a Muslim saying Allah is the only way to heaven. An agnostic/atheist would say that there are millions of ways, but if we believe in 2 or 3 we are non-inclusive (when in actuality they are excluding us). Since Jesus is the one true God then we have every right to be closed to it.

Issues pertaining to salvation by faith alone, the person-hood of Christ, & the personified love of God are to be closed on. Close your mind around how God loves you. Look at the mercy being abundantly poured out on your life & know that God loves you.

But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? – Gal 4:9

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. – I Cor 8:3

It should be without question in your mind that God loves you. Christ-less-Christianity would say God loves you and has a plan for your life, but the gospel says that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

If you want a true reason to worship Jesus forever think about His love. His love that suffered the shame of a cross. His love that placed you above himself. His love that died in your place. His love that couldn’t be stopped by death. His love that saved you & is saving you. His love that does not quit because of your disobedience but pursues. His love that will one day put an end to hunger, disease, pain, tears, & sorrow. His love that empowers us to love others.

Think about Christ’s passion. Close your mind to Jesus’ love.

Be known for being known & loved by God.

the gods of heaven and death part II

[originally “the gods of heaven & death” (please read) was not meant to have a part II but through further thinking I’ve decided to go into further detail.]

Heaven is not fire insurance (because it too will be destroyed by fire), a place where you will receive 40 virgins, or a place where spirits float with wings.

let me unpack that.

Heaven is not fire insurance

Heaven is a place where God resides. Heaven is a place where sinners are not permitted to enter. Heaven is a place where repentant sinners forgiven by Jesus are welcome (2 Cor. 5:8, Phil 1:21). Heaven is a place that is going to pass away.

Earth is a place where creatures reside. Earth is a place where sin caused a great fall for all creation. Earth is a place where Jesus came to die on a cross to forgive sinners. Earth is a place that is going to pass away.

[21:1] Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. [4] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4 ESV)

God made a promise to Noah that He would not destroy the earth by water ever again, but He didn’t say anything about fire.

2 Peter 3:10 (ESV)Then I saw ya new heaven and a new earth, for zthe first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw athe holy city, bnew Jerusalem, ccoming down out of heaven from God, dprepared eas a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, fthe dwelling place1 of God is with man. He will gdwell with them, and they will be his people,2 and God himself will be with them as their God.3 4 hHe will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and ideath shall be no more, jneither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” (2 Peter 3:10)

This does not mean that God will obliterate the heavens & earth then start anew, but that God will do away with the present condition.

Remember those “RE” words?

Redeem, Reform, Resurrect, Reborn, Restore, Reconcile, & Regenerate. God does not merely Reject creation but seeks to make it whole again.

Resurrection means that when Christ died, he also rose to live forever as the first of many to rise. Jesus Christ rose in a perfect body as a cognitively thinking being who was able to eat. Please get this, we who die with Jesus’ sacrificial sin for righteousness exchange on the cross are given the right to also be raised with him by faith.

We do not merely go to heaven when we die but God & the heavens will one day come to us! Remember: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”

With that perspective I can agree with Paul and say, “To live is Christ, & to die is gain”. Death no longer creates fear because it is but a second compared to the reality of eternity. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

[here are some great resources that helped me derive at these thoughts:

What Happens When You Die? Glorified and Free on the New Earth – John Piper

Culture by Tim Keller

Difficult Truths & Deep Love: Pondering Sovereignty, Suffering, and the Promise of Heaven – Randy Alcorn]

quit lying to yourself. part II

I left off from part I stating drankin’, gettin’ tatted up, & “secular” music aren’t always sins; & how we cannot live up to the law, so …

Christ is Love, literally

So not only was Christ a man, but He was God and God is Love. This might get to deep for some of ya’ll but pay close attention. God is Love and the fulfillment of the commandments is Love. Then to fully Love God and Love your neighbor would be a divine act that is only capable by God. Also to Love man [neighbor] would mean that God would have to prove His words with action. Not any action but the greatest of actions. The Bible states that the greatest act of Love that a man could commit would be to lay down His life, for people who hate him.

Remember the cross. While yet in our sins Christ died for us [Romans 5:8].

Now if Christ has fulfilled the law within us and set us free from the bondage of sin then we are free to love our neighbor and love God without the base standard (law) but simply out of God working through us.

With the Holy Spirit living in us we now have the ability to “love without a limit”. The shackles are off, and realizing how much Christ has sacrificed for me leads my heart to sacrifice everything for people who hate me. To be Christ-like is to grow in humility and sacrifice so others can live.

drankin’, tats, & music

Jesus voluntarily gave up His rights for others. So in regards to drinking alcohol we have to individually assess how it affects us & others. It is not a sin to drink but, it is a sin to get drunk; because at that moment alcohol becomes your god & it masters you. Also, there may be other Christians who do not know of the liberty to be held in Christ and would stumble because of your liberty.

Tattoos would have to be another post, but peep what the rowdy Johnny Pipes has to say about it (tat-tat-tatted up).

Music is a gift from God. God is the only Creator and satan cannot create anything. I don’t believe in Sacred or Secular because that is not in the Bible; man “created” that rule. Individually assess if that music stirs your affections for Christ or if it causes sinful thoughts. Listen to music to glorify God. Like Christ, enter the culture and use it as a means to spit the Gospel in a relevant manner.

sacrifice, in Love

God cannot be deceived and He does know your heart. If anything is not done in faith it is sin. I do not believe tattoos, drinking, or “secular” music to be sin but I give up my rights for others & my own convictions. I personally don’t believe if I got a tattoo it would be to glorify God, but out of vanity. I don’t drink because it’s an expensive habit that I’m scared I’d get addicted to, dishonoring God. Some music I don’t listen to because it causes lustful or hateful thoughts (or it just sergeant gutter sucks). Also I don’t want my freedom to hinder someone coming to know the love of Christ.

Our focus should be for the betterment of others. We should have the mind of Christ who gave up His rights so others could be free from condemnation.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

– I John 3:16-18

Love is an action. So let’s love through sacrifice ya’ll.

the gods of love and relationships, part II

Dating & relationships are the most discussed subjects, ever.

It seems as if people seek relationships & love more than they seek God at times. This is when love becomes an idol and the response to the idol is worship. (as stated in part I)

For instance, some of us get into relationships with unbelievers. A sin punishable by death, and death on a cross.

Jesus died for that sin just as He did for drunkenness, bad breath, homosexuality, lying, & murder. All were sins that Christ was brutally punished for, but that doesn’t mean you should still do them. You were washed by the blood of the Lamb and created as a new creature in Christ. The Holy Spirit now resides in you, sealing you until the day Jesus returns in all majesty as we marvel at His power.

“It keeps me up at night, I cry about it, I pray about it, I fast about it.”

This is not an issue to take lightly and it will keep you up at night, crying.

The issue plain and simple is that the unbeliever has now become a god. You have placed that person as a god disobeying the very first commandment.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.” – Exodus 20:2-3

Understanding what Christ has done for us on the cross will push us to constant repentance, the turning away from sin. For some people one sin is easier to conquer than others but for some it is as if there is no hope.

“Will I be thrown into the pits of hell & turned away from those pearly gates for marrying him?”

Psalm 65:3 says, “When iniquities prevail against me, You atone for our transgressions.” Though sin is conquering you, as long as Jesus Christ is seated on the throne there is still hope. Jesus has atoned, paid the penalty, for our sin and said, “if you love me you’ll keep my commandments.” Yes, you will sin. We are perfect in God’s eyes but, and that is a BIG BUT, we are being made into the image of His Son Jesus. I emphasize the BUT because though we are positionally perfect we are in the process of being made perfect, and won’t be perfect till we enter our glorified bodies. (don’t just take my word for it!)

Dating an unbeliever, and even marrying one, will not exclude you from The Pearly Gates. We are saved not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy. God had mercy on us by not killing us but killing His own Son.

“I don’t want to be without him but I don’t want to disobey God either.”

The theology behind marrying an unbeliever is plainly stated in the Bible as being unequally yoked (II Cor 6:4). An ox would be joined with another ox with a yoke. The yoke is easy if the partners are of equal strength, but if not the yoke is hard and burdensome.

Honestly what is truly on my heart to say to someone dating an unbeliever is dump them, please. They may tell you everything you want to hear but men lie, women lie, & Jesus is the Truth. I can tell you now that it will not work for several reasons, unless God divinely intervenes:

  • An unbeliever is a false idol who cannot save you. (Isa 46:3-13)
  • An unbeliever will not grow in Christ with you.
  • An unbeliever has no true standard of what constitutes being a true husband.
  • An unbeliever cannot be the Pastor of his house. (II Cor 11:3)
  • An unbeliever cannot love you like Christ did the Church. (Eph 5:25)
  • An unbeliever will make it confusing for children.
  • An unbeliever cannot take part in what should be the largest part of a believers life.

In the end it will hurt. From experience, personal and based on testimonies, unbelievers will complicate your life. I know of people who are scared to have children because of fear.  There is hope and Jesus does save, but He only saves those who repent & believe. I love you all and if it is in my power to convince you, through Christ, may it be so.

[here are some resources to check out:

http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/religionsaves/dating http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/1st-corinthians/under-authority-like-christ http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2007/2163_Married_or_Single_For_Better_or_Worse/]

Word, Homie!

Word, homie! Gotta study that Word!

Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this sermon is that I didn’t even realize he was quoting scripture until he started hitting on a few that I was familiar with. But even then, I didn’t realize that the whole first 15 minutes or so was solely scripture. The reason: it was just so personal! The joy, the conviction, the highs, the lows. He wasn’t reciting, he was expressing something so TRUE and so Real to him that he couldn’t help but share it with his congretation.

And it’s  that personal…ness! with the scripture that makes it so compelling.  This sermon really convicted and has recently inspired me to get more involved with the Word. It has so many applications!

1.) It teaches you the will of God (what He wants, and doesn’t, what His plan is for you and the world)

2.) It teaches you what our response ought to be to His beautiful love!

3.) It clearly articulates God’s magnificent love for His children, for you!

4.) It’ll help keep you from sinning during temptaion!

And truthfully, it does so much more. It teaches wisdom, provides encouragement, explains and examines human nature, the list goes on.

I’m currently trying to get into it to find out all that it has to offer – and to start using it. I’m working on memorizing one of my favorite passages explaining the Gospel: Ephesians 2:1-10. And already I can see a difference. When I’m tempted, it reminds me of the kind of God, the kind of love, that I’d be sinning against. When I’m sad, it reminds me of the kind of love that God has for me. When I’m feeling proud…it reminds me I have nothing that I’m able to boast about, because God was and is handling it all!

However, I’m definitely finding that, in order for the Word to be most effective – you can’t look at it as just something you’re memorizing because it’s a “good” thing to do. Keep in mind always, that what you read is the TRUE, REAL Word of God written to be a love letter to you. To guide you, to teach you, to encourage you to love God and serve Him and His mission. The Word is not impersonal. And, I think that you will find as you read that it’s a Word worth sharing with others. Because it’s just TOO GOOD to be sat on!

So get in it! Study that Word, homie!

Mr. President can the unbirthed please VIDA?

we don't need another hero to die for a cause, we have Jesus. Let them live.

No, Mr. President: John Piper’s response to Obama on abortion.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O68MByaMVdM]

This is not a pro-choice or pro-life debate…this is a sanctity of human life plea. This is not an anti-Obama agenda…this is a cry from a people who thanked God for the day Obama was inaugurated. Please do not think I am against the authority placed into power, but first and foremost Jesus is my King of Kings and I will obey Him. Jesus told me to stand for justice and Lord willin’ I will do so unapologetically (Jer 22:3, Isa 1:17, Psa 82:23).

As an American We are subject to the law of the land (Rom 13). With that being true then this declaration applies to all living Americans:

We hold these truths to be selfevident,
That all men are created equal,
That they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights,

That among these are #LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

To take part in this quintessential human right…you must first VIDA (live). Black women, who represent only 12% of the female population in America, suffer 36% of all abortions. Latina women represent 13% of the female population but suffer another 20% of all abortions. Together, they suffer 56% of all abortions yet they represent only 25% of our nation’s population. Abortion clinics are targeting these demographics because they are the most profitable. As Bono of U2 once said, Where you live should no longer determine whether you live. Historically in the African-american race the spiritually blind people who oppressed them considered them less than human, 3/5th of one to be exact. Today the debate says ‘are they human as a pre-present-post embryo-zygote-fetus?’ I would even go as far to say that this is not even new in this past millennium. Two examples are Pharaoh [Exodus 1] and Herod [Matt 2:16] of antiquity and their mass slaughter of innocent blood in fear of the coming greatness of God. These men feared the power of a single baby among the Jewish race in both instances and dehumanized them, even unto the point of mass murder.

They feared Moses and Jesus…Whom do the oppressors fear now…?

I have never cried so many tears over one injustice in my life.

Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

A stark resemblance to a past King.

Please be courageous and stand up for righteousness sake. One example in the Bible is the story of King Uzziah (please read for context) who was in God’s temple tampering with things he had no business handling. So the High Priest Azzariah along with 80 other courageous priest confronted him and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.” Uzziah proceeded to do this deed without the authority of God to do so and God caused leprosy to strike Uzziah and the priest hurled him out of the temple.

How does this all relate to the Gospel?

Jesus Christ is our High Priest and in Him we are a holy priesthood consecrated by His shed blood on the cross. Jesus tore down the veil that separated us from God so we could enter into the Holy of Holies. Through this act of love Jesus gave us authority to use His name for the call of Justice. So are there 80 priest today who will stand with our great High Priest and declare that we will no longer allow injustice in this world to go unchallenged?

[this is my personal prayer…God hear the voices of Your people. We cry out to You with authority granted us by Your Son. Holy Spirit allow the spiritually blind to see that human life is not ours to take. As Your servant Job said “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away”, God you took his children but You also gave them to Him as a gift…we have no right to question your power oh God…but please give revival to the world. If there was ever a time when we needed You it is now. God there is a great cloud of more than 50 million aborted children calling out “when will You show Your justice!” come Lord Jesus come! Please come to our rescue on a white horse and with flames in Your eyes! I won’t conclude by saying amen because this prayer is not over, just postponed. I will plead for Your salvation and justice without ceasing. In Jesus’ name.]

resources: http://bound4life.com/houston http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2009/3528_The_Baby_in_My_Womb_Leaped_for_Joy/