Take & Eat

Man was created an eating creature. God made the world full of food, and before the fall all the blessings of eating—energy, renewal, delight, and fellowship among others—were there in the Garden of Eden.

When Adam ate from the only prohibited tree, death came into this world. God cursed the ground, which would no longer easily yield food for mankind, and instead he would deal with thorns and thistles. Adam fell at a tree, but Jesus obeyed by dying on a tree with a crown of thorns on His brow. He rejected the devil’s food, refusing to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Continue reading

The Right Fear this New Year

We serve a God who has overcome fear. The second person of the Trinity took on flesh in order to destroy the devil, his works and effects, and the fear of death.

Hebrews 2:14-15: Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

For everyone who dies in Christ, death is victory, and we trust God to provide for those we would leave behind. He is sovereign and good. Jesus tells us plainly, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Lk. 12:4-5). Continue reading

Knowledge or Stoopid

Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, 

But he who hates correction is stupid.  –Proverbs 12:1

One of the central callings of every disciple of Christ is to learn. We’re not only to keep learning things, but to love and welcome instruction from others. The second half of this proverb points out the negative consequence of not doing so. The person who hates correction is not necessarily lacking in intelligence, but having rejected the input and wisdom of others, he is morally dumb. When Jesus says that to those who have more will be given, and from those who lack even what they have will be taken away, one way this is accomplished is by a person’s own desires. The humble are willing to be corrected because they love knowledge (and gather it in heaps), but the proud are clueless and proud of that, too.

One in Ten

In Luke 17, on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus passed through Samaria and Galilee. In one village ten lepers called out to Him, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!” (Lk. 17:13). He told them to the go show themselves to priests, and as they went they were cured of their leprosy (v14).

We note that in this instance Jesus didn’t heal them immediately. He didn’t reach out and touch them, but in the process of doing what He said to do, they were made whole. George MacDonald said “Obedience is the opener of eyes.” For these ten, obedience was also restored worship. Jesus sent them to the priests because then they would be ritually cleansed and able to worship God with His people.

But only one of those lepers, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, glorified God, fell down at His feet, and thanked Him. Jesus commented on this to the disciples: “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” (v18). He was a Samaritan, not someone expected to seek the Lord.

Ten lepers sought Jesus, ten obeyed Him, and ten were healed as they went. But only one came back, glorified God, and thanked Him.

The Wonderful Normal

The Lord’s Day is a feast day, not a fast day, and this is because God gave Himself to us in the Lord’s Supper to be eaten on His day.

No matter what sort of trial we are facing, what sort of fast the Lord has us in, it’s broken up by this meal. This is because feasting, fellowship, joy, consolation, victory and rest are normative in the Christian life. Conflict, affliction, doubt, trial and sorrow are temporary. God blesses us in and through them, but they are overcome.

This is God’s immovable feast, kicking off every week, given to fill you up, God’s people, with love, assurance and strength. Receive that here from Him, and fill this day full of rest, food, and fellowship. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Moralism vs. Christianity

 

Moralism and Christianity are mortal enemies. Moralism and Christianity serve different masters.

It’s been said that the great between the salad and garbage is timing. Salad is salad for a time, but eventually it wilts. The difference between moralism and Christianity is much greater. Moralism, doing right for whatever reason, is never Christianity. Moralism is always garbage. Continue reading

Review: The Art of Forgiving

The Art of ForgivingThe Art of Forgiving by Lewis B. Smedes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There’s a lot of wisdom about forgiveness and how the gospel drives it. There are also a few flies in the ointment. For example, Smedes worries about “fast forgivers” who forgive quickly in order to avoid their pain (p137ff). This makes a lot of sense, not to fake forgiveness or say we forgive when we really don’t, but he never deals with what Jesus says in this regard: “forgive us our trespasses as those who trespass against us”, which is to say, right away because God doesn’t hold our sins against us. He talks about waiting for the right time and quotes Nelson Mandela, “Ah, yes, forgiving, it will have to come to that sometime, but not yet, not while the boot is still on our neck” (p139). It’s hard not to think of Jesus forgiving His mockers from the cross while worse than the boot is on his neck, praying to the Father to forgive them, extending His own forgiveness. In other parts of the book Smedes addresses the problem with thinking we can control others or protect ourselves by not forgiving, but misses it here. Continue reading

A Real Invitation

 

By minimizing God’s work in the Church, we often disregard His invitations.

If you agree to go to lunch at someone’s house, and they prepare the place and the meal, you don’t cancel unless something important comes up. If you value that person and stand by your own word, you don’t bag out, especially if you know they went to great effort to prepare. Continue reading

In Season, Out of Season

 

The new year always brings in new hopes, new ideas, and new inspiration, and this is well and good. No good thing should be despised.

But since the point of aiming is to hit something, we should pick something achievable. By one measure only around 8% of people achieve their resolutions, so we should sets goals and resolutions that are simple, specific and achievable.

I want to encourage you to consider shaping at least one resolution in a slightly different way. George MacDonald said, “That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to Him, “Thou art my refuge.”” Continue reading

Run the Race

On the first day in the new year of our Lord, 2017, we get to focus on what matters and prepare for the year. The epistle to the Hebrews was written (or preached) to a young church of Jewish Christians facing temptations to leave or compromise their faith. The author doesn’t tell them to hunker down and weather the storm, but to run the race set before them.

  Continue reading