Out Of Darkness

“What does God say in the gospel? He announces the most staggering free gift of all time. He offers total rescue (that is, Salvation) from the rebellious nonconformity to himself which is the root of all our guilt, misery and frustration, and whose bible name is sin. He promises a new, endless life of pardon, peace, moral power, and joyful purpose to all who are humble enough not to try and earn it, but simply receive it.

How can God make this offer? Through Christ’s death as a sacrifice for sins. How do we receive this life? By renouncing rebellion, and embracing the risen savior as our Master; the life is found within that relationship. What happens then? Increasingly we prove the truth of Jesus’ words, “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). ”

Growing in Christ. Packer, J.I. 104.

 

 

 

Sifting the Sons of God

Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”  

Now a few things to note. Jesus uses Peter’s pre-Christian name foreshadowing Peter’s fall back to old ways of thinking. He also says Simon twice which is a Jewish rhetorical device signifying emphasis and sorrow like when Jesus laments “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” in Matthew 23:37.

The circumstances of our life that result from sin and the necessity of its cure, grieves Jesus. He is not a doctor working on lab rats. He is a wholehearted and invested physician.

Also, the “you,” is plural. Satan desires to sift all the disciples, not just Peter.

Furthermore, Satan asks permission. Satan is God’s instrument. Satan only has the authority granted to Him by God. That should put our spiritual warfare against Satan into some much needed perspective. Dualism is a modern sin common in Modern Christianity. Satan is not God’s equal. Satan is God’s errand boy. Also, Jesus grants permission. Why would He do that? Why would a good God allow bad things to happen?

To sift wheat means to shake it violently, so that the chaff flows away on the wind and the wheat remains. Now, to be shaken violently does not feel good, but it does purify the wheat.

So here is the set up. Jesus tells Peter what is going to happen to Him and what the result will be. But does Peter take it to heart? Does it prevent Peter from going through it?

Satan asks to sift Jesus’ disciples and Jesus allows it because He wants us to be shaken, so that we will learn to cling to Him, the immovable rock, the solid cornerstone. That we might experience and know what we are incapable of and what He is capable of.

Cancer asks to sift us. Infertility asks to sift us. Doubt asks to sift us. The election asks to sift us. And God grants to them the opportunity to show us our weakness and show us His strength.

Most astoundingly, Jesus foretells Peter’s fall but also His return. Jesus knows that Peter will be sifted, will fall for a time but ultimately will prevail, he will “turn again” which means repent. Peter will be shaken to His very core but will stand strong.   Continue reading “Sifting the Sons of God”

Don’t Kill Your Wife With Curriculum

I want to tell you homeschool husbands a secret. Something you don’t know that, if you did know, would bring more joy and contentment to your home. I worked for two years at a Classical Christian School. I was in the staff meetings and homework planning sessions. The secret is: NO TEACHER, TEACHES THE ENTIRE CURRICULUM IN EVERY SUBJECT, IN ANY GIVEN YEAR.

You know why? Because the curriculum is a guide, its an estimation –  its an ideal. You teach to the student’s ability and understanding, not a strict, objective standard. For teachers there are things that arise like difficulties in some concept that requires a great deal more time and effort. There are illnesses and snow days. There are distractions. Every teacher gets in the final weeks of a school year and has to decide what is the most important concept or concepts to cover. Because there is always next year.

The ditches for homeschool families are either – viewing the curriculum as a mere suggestion and not covering most of it, or,  for most homeschoolers, the ditch hubby drives mom into where she MUST do all the curriculum in a given year. ALL OF IT.  This is the fear of being left behind, or undereducated. The ditch that looks at the money spent and and the professional looking syllabuses and wants to keep up with the standard.

But curriculum isn’t that kind of standard. Any given curriculum is going to outline more work than can be done in a year.

The thing with homeschooling is that depending on the number of kids, the amount of resources and the gifting of mom, you are making an exchange.

We have six kids. Five boys. We did the day school thing. But we exchanged all that rigor and professionalism and TIME because I would rather my kids get slightly less “professional” instruction, if it means they can get it done in 1/3 of the time and then go outside and build a tree fort. We exchanged seven  subjects for four because, its not the quantity but quality that matters. If my kids spend years and years reading their bibles but don’t do a science lab till they are sixteen, then amen.

Reading covers a multitude of sins.

Husbands, your wife doesn’t have to cover the whole curriculum. Its summer time. Its time for your kids to learn other things. How to mow the yard or build a birdhouse. How to change the oil in your car and power wash a sidewalk. Its time to perfect their sidewalk chalk art and lemonade mixing skills. Its time to learn that trampoline backflip and how to make a campfire.

Be like the good teachers. Look at what’s left, decide what’s the most important, teach it, then put it away and open a bottle of wine and let the kids read comic books.

Relax. Its not about getting it all done. Its about growing up to be Godly, competent learners. And the yard is calling, full of lessons that only come in this beautifully unique time of year.

Sailing with Jesus in the Hold

We know that Jesus is our anchor, but that is a metaphor about assurance that only works when there is a storm, or port – the idea that we need to firmly stay put and Jesus holds us in place amidst the tossing seas. Anchors keep ships in one place. And that is a helpful image at times, but if it is the only nautical metaphor we employ for Jesus it gives us the impression that the Christian life is meant to be static and safe.

Ships are made to sail, though. The Spirit is like the wind, going where He will and our job is to learn how to sail. Not play it safe in a cozy cove somewhere. Another helpful metaphor for Jesus, in terms of ships, is ballast. Ballast is weight used to keep a ship steady and upright in the water. Anything can be used as ballast, whatever is in the hold of a ship must be evenly distributed to keep the ship sailing properly; ballast keeps a ship stable.

Imagine a modern freighter where all the containers of Camry’s are on the port side and all the containers of Duracell batteries are on the starboard side. That ship would list and roll. In wooden ships they carried over 3,000 gallons of water and after three months at sea, the weight shifts, so the barrels, the resources, the ballast needs shifting.

When you get the ballast wrong what happens is either the ship is tossed about like a cork in a hurricane or the ship can’t sail properly – it’s sluggish and unresponsive to the rudder or it lists to one side and no amount of wind can get the ship up to top speed. Continue reading “Sailing with Jesus in the Hold”

Seattle needs more Mark Driscolls

Locusts and Wild Honey

I know… hang with me. I don’t know where you were or what you were doing. Maybe it was a sermon on their website. Maybe it was at the Ballard campus or UW campus. Maybe you went simply to check out the girls or guys. Maybe you heard a CD of the music or attended a community group.

I don’t know how it started for you. For me it was 2003. A hot chick, I was totally into, sent me a link and said check it out. So I checked it out. At first, I didn’t like it, but if it impressed this girl, than whatever. I didn’t like it because the guy preaching kept describing me in unflattering terms. There were reasons I lived in my mom’s basement and didn’t have a car or a job. Yeah, so, I was 23 and had no idea what I wanted to…

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Love is Our Livery

1 Corinthians 16:14 “Let all that you do be done in love.” John 13:35 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” Col. 3:14 “…put on love…”

Are you known in your circle of friends and relations as a Christian? Do the people at the supermarket where you shop and the club where you work out and the people on your commute look at you and know that you are a Christian?

Should they? In the OT the people of God were known as the people of God because of their dress (tassels, beard curls, the cloth and cut of their robes, etc.) They were also known by their behavior and by their speech.

How are the NT believers known as the people of God if all of the clothing and purity laws have been fulfilled in Jesus?

The Apostles instruct us to be clothed in love; to put on love like you put on a robe. Jesus said love would be the identifying marker of Christians. That love would be our livery.

What is a livery?

It’s not simply a uniform. It’s more than that. It is clothing but it’s a sign of covenant; of fidelity and family. Continue reading “Love is Our Livery”

Go and Walk on Water

Matthew 14:28-29 “And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.”

Jesus doesn’t command Peter to walk on water. He commands Peter to “come.” To obey the command Peter must walk on water. But Peter doesn’t hesitate. Peter knows that Jesus provides the necessary ability to obey His commands no matter how impossible they seem.

All of God’s commands involve doing things that are impossible for us to do – in ourselves. What makes God’s commands look so easy sometimes are the circumstances. Tithing is easy when you have your budget under control. Loving your neighbor is easy when they are acting lovely. Respecting your husband is a cinch those few times he’s actually acting respectable.

But how hard is tithing when what’s going out is more than what’s coming in? How hard is respecting your husband when he won’t get off the couch? But often. We have the command from God, there He is. Right there, just a few yards off the port side and all we have to do is walk over to Him….right across the top of water. That’s all. Continue reading “Go and Walk on Water”