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Archive for May, 2008

I was on a walk around lovely Sandy Springs, GA admiring trees and birds and grass and enjoying the cool spring breeze, you know just doing hippie stuff, when I noticed something funny.  What looked like an older model Volkswagen Jetta rolled by and I was taken back initially by all the bumper stickers amassed on the back of this car.  One in particular caught my attention. The sticker located in the middle of the back bumper read, “Dog is my Co-Pilot.”  This bumper sticker is a swipe at some older stickers that aren’t as prevalent anymore that read, “God is My Co-Pilot.”  Which was originally intended to be a metaphor for life. Some genius thought it would be a real slap in the face to God, and Christians alike to spell God backwards.  And to think we so often credit the secular world with being so creative.  So I began to think which saying bothers me more, “Dog is My Co-Pilot,” or “God is My Co-Pilot.” Let me pick on the dog one first.  If your dog is your co-pilot for life or driving you are in trouble.  If your dog is anything like my giant wiener dog Dax, aka “Meat Head,” then you know that having him/her co-pilot your life is dangerous.  Dax enjoys riding in my jeep with me, but to be quite honest when stopped at a major intersection I have never asked Dax if it is clear for me to turn.  First off Dax doesn’t speak English, though he understands some.  I like to think this is probably what Dax hears on any given day, wha, wah, wah, wah, Dax, wah, wah, wah outside, wah, wah, wah, no, no, no, wah, wah, good dog.  He likely thinks I am Charlie Brown’s teacher who only knows a few legible words.  Likewise, I have yet to confer with Dax on any major life decisions, like should we have a baby, do you want to move to Atlanta, or who should I vote for in the next presidential election? To be quite honest he is not concerned with those types of things.  He just wants me to take him on lost of walks, make him a nice blanket to take a nap on,,feed him twice a day, and pet him constantly.  Dax is a simple dog, leading a simple life.  Truthfully though the God sticker bothers me more.  If God is your co-pilot then who is driving the car?  You are!  Yikes, you and me in control and God on stand by in case anything goes wrong.  Believe me when I say the last thing I want God to be in my life is my co-pilot.  I want him to be flying, driving, guiding, and leading the whole way everyday.  God does not work for me, I work for him.  I am enlisted in God’s army, I serve the King.  I  believe it is a far worse slap in the face to God for us to call him our co-pilot, than it is if some genius spells his name wrong and prints a bumper sticker.  Who are we to call the soverign, almighty, King of the cosmos our co-pilot?  God is the only captain of this ship, and we either get on board through Christ, or we run with the dogs.   

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Do the nonbelievers of the world, whom we Christians often term “lost”, are they searching to be rescued or  for a  rescuer.  This was a conversation I encountered with some friends recently about the reality of a lost person and their need, desire, and will to be rescued.  My friend began by saying that obviously lost people want to be rescuedwhen they act in a very carnal manner, like drug use, excessive drunkenness, adultery, crime, and many other sins.  My friend commented, “aren’t they crying out for help?”  So it would seem, they  drink and abuse drugs, use women, and commit criminal acts such as burglary because try are crying for help.  My problem with the idea that through these avenues of sin and temporal pleasure, is they are not crying for anything, but rather craving something far greater than what they can seem to obtain.  These people are dying to be satisfied.  In most cases they are not asking for intervention or help, unless they need money in order to feed their craving of satisfaction, though it lasts only for a moment.  Jonathon Edwards in his book The Freedom of the Will,argues that the will is ultimately not free, but controlled by what it finds most pleasurable.  He gives the illustration of a drunken man torn with the notion of whether to drink that evening or not.  On one hand he thinks how pleasurable it will feel to take down a few drinks and relax a bit.  But he also thinks about how pleasurable it would be to not have a hangover the next day, nor have any possible regrets concerning his conduct from the night before.  So it is with any lost soul, they will make decisions based on what they see as most pleasing. And what do lost people see as pleasurable, sin and lots of it.  Sin is instant personal gratification that brings about temporary and fleeting fulfillment. A problem with the lost is, they dont know/think they are lost.  I have often heard other pastors say “before someone can get saved, they must first realize they are lost.”  Most the lost of the world does not think they are that bad, and besides a loving God in their mind would never condemn someone like them who is “a good person”. The truth is all of us are/were that bad in our sin nature and none of us capable of any good work on our own(Romans3:23,Romans5:8,Psalm 16:2).  The lost person by nature is born a sinner and can do nothing but sin(Romans 8:8).  The lost person has a father in which he follows and answers to, and he is the devil(John 8:43-45).  The unregenerate, unbelieving person is serving the ways of their father, whom’s nature they share.  Since there is nothing inheriently good in the  unbeliever, and neither is he/she capable of any good act apart from God, the unbeliever can do nothing about their lost condition(Psalm 16:2, Matthew 19:16-18, Romans 3:12). It takes a supernatural act of God through the Holy Spirit to point someone away from themselves and to Christ.  It is contrary to our born nature to look beyond ourselves and bend the knee to Christ in submission for salvation.  Unbelievers live to please and honor themselves.  Christians are called to to live in such a way as to honor and please God(Colossians 3:23, I Corinthians 10:31).  A person lost in sin would never desire  to bend the knee and submit to Christ.  The unbeliever cant because, the are blinded and enslaved to sin(Romans 6:16), and until Christ calls them, they will not come(John 10:13, John 10:27).  The lost are not looking to get saved, they are searching for ultimate satisfaction in all the wrong places and ways.  It is only when Christ calls them by his spirit, that they see their sin as offensive and worthy of eternal separation from a of a Holy God, and desire repentance of their sin nature and follow Jesus.  The lost aren’t looking to be rescued because they believe they are on the right path.  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, who comes and finds foolish sinners like you and me , and sets our feet on a new road that has been paved by the cross.  A path we could never find on our own, nor did we know we were looking for.      

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Is God Humble?

Several weeks ago I was praying.  I was adoring God and proclaiming his goodness, his greatness, his wisdom, his beauty, and his power over all things. Then I said this, ” Not only are the the greatest, wisest, most powerful, you are the most humble of all.”  I stopped at that moment, and asked myself, is God humble?  I began to mediate on all I have learned about God from the scriptures, and I wondered whether God could be all these things previously mentioned and so many more and yet be the most humble of all beings.  The answer eluded me for a moment.  But then it was revealed to me. God is definitely the most humble.  He is because of Christ.  Listen to what the apostle Paul writes in Philippians Chapter 2 concerning Christ’s humility,  4(H)do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  5(I)Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in (J)Christ Jesus,  6who, although He (K)existed in the (L)form of God, (M)did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  7but [a](N)emptied Himself, taking the form of a (O)bond-servant, and (P)being made in the likeness of men.  8Being found in appearance as a man, (Q)He humbled Himself by becoming (R)obedient to the point of death, even (S)death on a cross.  9(T)For this reason also, God (U)highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him (V)the name which is above every name,  10so that at the name of Jesus (W)EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of (X)those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is (Y)Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  God became like a man, was born of a virgin, son to a carpenter, was not highly esteemed by kings and royalty, hung out with fisherman, tax collectors and sinners, was wrongly accused and convicted, beaten and betrayed, and died a criminals death to save the elect from their sins.  God was beaten and betrayed by those he created and loved.  Yet he did not curse them, he did not hate them, he did not smite them, instead he pleaded for their forgiveness, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”(Luke 22:34).  Never mind the fact that just by God making himself known to humanity through the conscience, and His word is a great act of humility on his part.  God was never required to speak to mankind or make himself known, that was his choice, his plan, his desire.  That same God who made himself known through our conscience, the cosmos, and his word, made himself known especially through his son, Jesus Christ.  So if you like me are wondering if God is humble, look no where else than the perfect manifestation of himself in Christ. Then we can all proclaim with certainty together, God is the most humble of all. 

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One of the most asked questions among Christian circles is, “What is God’s will for my life?” or perhaps you’ve heard a statement like this, “We are just trying to figure out what God’s will is.”  To be very honest when most people ask this question, they are not really asking this question.  What they are instead saying is, I’m trying to figure out if I should take this job, or we are trying to figure out if we should by this house, or even I want to know to know if he/she is the right person for me to marry?  These seem like fair and reasonable questions right?  I see something very wrong with questions like these. The focus of the question is centered on self not Christ. So am I saying it is wrong to seek the Lord through prayer, meditation, wise counsel and His Word regarding His will for your life?  Absolutely Not!  That is exactly what you should do as you seek the Lord’s will for your life.  The problem is, as I stated before most aren’t actually seeking God’s will, but rather the next life decision that confronts them.  God does not hide His will from us concerning our ultimate purpose in Christ.  Scripture is very clear concerning what His will is for children.  In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus is asked in an attempt to trick him by a pharisee, “what is the greatest commandment in the law.”  To which the wisdom of God through Christ replied,  ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  The greatest honor and privileges we have as Christians is to have a relationship with God through Christ(John 14:6).  We would be wise to make this our life’s great ambition, to love God with our whole being.  Pastor and author Dr. John Piper has said, “What does God want from you and me?  He wants all of us all of the time.”  Friends this is what we are here for, to love God, and our neighbors as ourselves at all times, and in all things.  But what does that really mean?  Listen to what John has to say in I John 5:2-4 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Jesus says this as recorded in the gospel of John, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love”(John 15:10). So how do we carry out these commands of God?  How do we express our love for God and others?  I believe we have our answer in the gospel of Matthew chapter 28:18-20.  Jesus tells his disciples just prior to ascensin into heaven and his rightful place seated at the right hand of the father, 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  So here we have it , Jesus commands us to “go” to the nations with the gospel, right?  Well not exactly.  You see in the greek the word for go is actually “as you are going.”  It is assumed that we are already going to the people with the gospel.  The commands are found in the form of “make disciples”, and “baptize them in the name of the father, son, and holy spirit.”  This is how we show most perfectly express our love for God and others.  We take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, evangelize them fully through proclamation and discipleship and baptize them for reasons much greater than mere symbolism (we will look at baptism some other time).  Nothing pleases God more than  us getting to know him personally through Christ, and sharing him with others through evangelism and discipleship.  I think the better question Christians should be asking God is this, How can I share the good news of Christ, advance His kingdom, and glorify God in my workplace, my marriage, my life? As I write this I realize their are devout Christians who struggle with making decisions.  This is OK, in fact its great to some degree.  When we do this we realize it is ultimately not about us, but about Christ and how we can make Him known.  God’s will is for us to know him and make him known, there rest as far as how we do it (job), who we partner with or without (marriage/singleness), and where God uses us to do it (Seattle, Kenya, Texas, or Britain), well those are the specific details of our assigment.  Don’t make the mistake some may other well intentioned Christians do, seeking God’s will more than you seek Him.  Seek Him and he will make His will known to you in His time(Psalm 84:11, Psalm 37:4).    

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