Saturday, January 31, 2009


The day began with me lacing up my Puma Clydes...Vintage Puma Clydes I might add. Clyde. The name that brought forth some of the first passion of my young soul. Clyde. "Watch Clyde glide" That's how I started the poem..."Watch Clyde glide." A young basketball fanatic couldn't fathom a better opening line. Clyde...Walt Frazier (sorry yungin's who think I'm talking about Clyde the glide Drexler...much later!). Walt Frazier the 6'4" all-star guard of the World Champion New York Knicks of the NBA. Clyde...dressed in a mink trench coat, driving around in a Rolls Royce. All-defensive team, all-around champion, all around hero. Puma was so enamored with Frazier that they asked him to design a shoe of class and color...Clydes. I must have owned 10 pair! Imagine my excitement, when, on a recent trip to NYC with my daughter, we passed a Puma store and there in the window, for the first time in 30 years, was a pair of Clydes. I got me a pair...then I mail ordered another! After all, he was my hero. So I started my day lacing up my Clydes. Now that the day is almost done, I realize I'm winding down with another hero. I just started a biography of Francis Schaeffer, An Authentic Life, by Colin Duriez. Schaeffer...not known for fashion (he wore silly looking knickers all the time...huh, knickers, Knicks, Knickerbockers...hmmm, that's wierd!), no mink coats, certainly no Rolls Royces, but my hero...because his writings (his heart and mind) saved my faith. At a time when no one in evangelicalism seemed interested in taking my doubts seriously, Schaeffer, through his writings, did seem to hear me...and he saved my faith. I can't wait to meet him one day to tell him. heroic as both Clyde and Schaeffer are in their own way in my life...I am reminded, there is only One Hero...only One that draws forth passion from my soul; only One who Authors and Saves my faith...Jesus...and He is enough.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Did Psalm 21 Save My Life in Moscow?

I was in Moscow a few years ago. I was all alone. I was sick. I needed to take some medicine, but not on an empty stomach. I needed to walk across Red Square to the food court. For some reason I was gripped with forboding fear, anxiety, so I read the Psalms. It was May 21, so I read Psalm 21. It's all about the protection and favor of God over the king. My soul was comforted so I put on my coat and walked across Red Square, saying hello to Lenin on the way. On the way back to the hotel a large wad of money, rubles and dollars, landed at my feet. Before I knew what was happening, a Russian man in broken English told me to keep quiet and he'd split the money with me. Suddenly, another man was in my face, screaming at me to return his lost money. I was I tell the man that the other guy has his money? What would that guy do to me? Or, if I don't say anything and the guy who lost his money thinks I have it, what will HE do to me? I prayed. I looked into his eyes and said, "Pazhaloosta. Pazhaloosta! (which means please). He looked back at me and said, "It's OK, you can go." I got back to the hotel, met my Russian friends and they were shocked. I had been part of a Russian scam to rip off Westerners. The two men were working together and the scam usually gets ugly. They hadn't heard of a time when the "mark" had been let go. Then I went back to Psalm 21...I remembered verses 11-12--"Though they plan evil against you, though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
For you will put them to flight; you will aim at their faces with your bows." Those men devised mischief against me; But when I looked into the face and eyes of the one man, his whole countenance and attitude changed...God aimed at their faces with His bows...and their mischief did not succeed. I'll never forget that day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

U2's New Song--Get On Your Boots

U2's new single is out. Musically it has a lot of that grows on you, as does the song. But I want to focus on the lyrics. Let me begin by saying I am no U2 expert...I've just followed their music and have been able to learn a lot about their lives over time. I've read much of what's out there on U2 and have tried to study Bono's own words about himself and the band. Obviously I don't personally know any of the boys from Dublin, I just know some things about them. I know that for much of their career, 3 of the guys have been believers, and that the band almost broke up just as it was getting going because of discussions as to whether followers of Christ could play music that wasn't blatently Christian. I also know that now, bassist Adam Clayton is also a believer. I know that they know the Scriptures very well...well enough to either quote them in their songs and also well enough to layer their lyrics with Biblical allusions. Their whole career has been about bringing the redemptive hope of the Gospel to listening ears, almost cryptically, in a way not unlike Christ preaching in parables (those who have ears to hear, can; parables are spoken as much to conceal truth from the disinterested as to reveal truth to the seeker). As my friend Steve Stockman of Northern Ireland says in his book on U2, Walk On, Bono has developed the art of "skillful disguise." However, it must also be said, at many times U2 are not so subtle (Grace; Yahweh, etc). I think that their early career as well as their most recent albums are most bold in the clarity of the Gospel message, others might disagree. Bono is a poet...he writes lyrics that have many layers of meaning...he uses symbol to make several statements at the same time. For instance, he can sing about a woman that is about a female, but is also about God's grace (the song "Grace" really is about a woman named Grace, but its also obviously about God's grace). Many times, Bono is singing about a real person or nation or event, but the song is layered with a deeper spiritual meaning. "Get on Your Boots" apparently is grounded in the thought that men have messed up the world, so let's give women the chance (sexy boots). It could also be about a world leader (female?) or a leader nation (even the U.S. which doesn't know the potential we have to bring beauty in the world; or it could be about an already beautiful Ireland that could be more beautiful as she became unified and endured no more violence). But, again, there is almost always also a deeper spiritual meaning in U2's songs. I know its hard to believe, but these guys take their faith and their "pulpit" seriously! So, from a spiritual perspective "Get On Your Boots" might also involve a prayer to Christ to put on His "boots", even "sexy boots", meaning His love and grace, and visit the planet with "a big kiss"...If you're a U2 fan, you'll recall words from the song "Yahweh," where Bono sings, "take this mouth, give it a kiss." Seems like the same thought is present, a kiss that will remove the violence and hate in the world...the hate between those who have military might and those who have economic power ("submarine and gasoline"). The line, "winds blow with a twist," could be the surprising fresh winds from an unexpected place (women/grace, or, perhaps most surprisingly, the Bride of Christ which is the Church?) that will change the scene on earth The "Night is falling everywhere" highlights the darkness of evil enveloping the world. It could also be an allusion to the words of Christ that we must work while it is still day, darkness is coming when no one can work. Of course there are many passages in the New Testament that deal with darkness as the presence of evil. Evil is revealed through the song in "rockets hit the fun fair, Satan loves a bombscare." Clearly a commentary on contemporary events. What is hopeful, however, is the line, "but he won't scare you." Now, why a woman wouldn't be afraid of Satan, I don't understand. Therefore, the "You" could also be Christ, Who has defeated Satan and therefore Satan doesn't scare Him; or the "you" could be the Church, about which Jesus says, "the gates of hell will not prevail against her," so she should not be scared either. In typical Bono poetry, I would guess that he may mean both at the same time, especially since the Church is the Body of Christ on earth, the Bride of Christ, the there's the cry to "Get on Your Boots, sexy boots." What makes me think it could be the Church is that Bono during the last several years has turned to the Church as one of its prophets and preached the clear message that its past time for the Church to wake up and realize Who She is called to be. Bono spent much time in 2004 with American evangelical leaders and musicians sharing his passion for the poor, for the AIDS victims in Africa and DATA. Again, it perhaps begins as a call for women to rise up and help the men who've made such a mess of things, but then progresses as a cry to Jesus to rise and trample evil and violence in the world, and finally becomes a prophetic call to the Church to activism and to stand for peace and love...or again, perhaps poetry involving all ideas. At first the line stating "free me from a dark dream, candy first, ice cream; all the kids are screaming but the ghosts aren't real" confused me. But with the theme of women in view, how many of us don't remember waking up from a nightmare and being held, comforted, assured by our moms? Women are the ones who tend to comfort best in times of fear and confusion...even if they may resort to candy and ice cream to calm children's fears. They can whisper in children's ears like no one else after a bad dream, "Don't worry, the ghosts aren't real." But the truth is, in this broken world, OUR ghosts ARE REAL! The line then follows, "here's where you gotta be, love and community." This line could refer to the mass community of female humanity, but it would not easily refer to Christ. However, it would be an appropriate line for the Church...or it also could refer to all humanity to pull together through the nurturing effect of women involved in world affairs. But there certainly seems to be an allusion to the New Heavens and New Earth with the line "laughter is eternity if joy is real." Then the haunting line, "You don't know how beautiful, you don't know how beautiful you are. You don't know, you don't get it do you?" It could be a reminder to women that they are image bearers and beautiful and able to make a dramatic impact in homes, churches, nations and the world. But again, it also seems to me that it could be a line about the Church...she doesn't realize how beautiful she is and what beauty she can weave into the world if she would just live redemptively for grace and peace and hope and joy among the nations. It could be, again, a reference to broader humanity (or a world leader or leader nation) which doesn't realize the beauty of being created in God's image or what such image bearers are capable of by common grace. People of hate fail to see that the ones they are hating are also image-bearers worthy of dignity and respect. "Someone's left to blow it up" seems to refer to terror, such as suicide bombers, perhaps. The next line supposedly says, "the wear weeds are growing up" which makes little sense to me...when I listen to the song it sounds like Bono is actually saying, "someone's left to blow it up, but we're into GROWING up." Listen for yourself. Could refer to U2 who are growing up; growing up in Christ and growing up in understanding their mission in the world. If it does refer to U2, it would be growing up for Bono, because he's been rather harsh of the Bride of Christ through the years (on the other hand, the evangelical church has often been less than kind to him!!) Certainly the broader Church ought to be more into growing up than blowing up! The Church is often guilty of lobbing idealogical grenades when we could be building bridges with those outside the Church. We, as followers of Christ, must grow up and live more like Christ lived. Then the line, "women are the future." U2 may truly think at one level women can do a better job of leading the world than men. Hopefully Bono realizes, however, that women, as much as men, have been broken by sin. We need to remind ourselves that often Bono writes of the "female" or nurturing aspect of God, the loving/caring nature of God, and also often speaks of grace and love as women. I wonder if he's also saying grace and love are the future. It sounds to me that the next line is "All the big revelations" but supposedly the line reads "Whole of big revelations." If my ears are right, I wonder if Bono continues the thought that all the big revelations for our future involve grace and love winning the day. Of course, there is the thought that women may just come up with solutions. But Christians are called to be people of grace and love...and if WE would get it together, the world could and would change...and all humanity could be impacted. Then the line that highlights what has been for much of history, the problem between men and countries... military might and economic power---"I've gotta submarine, you've got gasoline." The world thinks those are the power elements, when grace and love in Christ is the only way to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb! Bono then says he "doesn't want to talk about war between nations (not right now)"... instead of the focus always being what is wrong and all the fighting and all the killing and all the hate, let's stop focusing on all that and do something to change it all! No question that women, typically, would not want to talk about war between the nations, as typically, they don't want to talk about football!! Come, women! Come men! Come Christ, Come Church...get on your boots. Then at the end, Bono cries, "let me in the song." Bono could be speaking for women who have felt left out, been left out...saying "Hey, let us in! Let us have a chance." From a spiritual perspective, it could also be the song of the Trinity, the song that is the hope of the last line of the Gospel, that peace will come. It could be that Bono wants in THE Song that he has longed for his whole Christian life...the Song where the promises of the Gospel are entirely and finally fulfilled. Though we may wonder, "how long to sing this song," and though we "still haven't found what we're looking for" or what the Gospel calls us to expect and what was promised by Christ, peace will come and the finality of His redemption is closer today than it was yesterday! Christ WILL set up His kingdom "Where the Streets Have No Name." Bono doesn't "wanna drown" in the sorrow of a kingdom that "can be believed in but not yet seen" or the midst of the "sound" whether the sound of this song, or the sound of rockets hitting the fun fair, it could very well be that Bono cries that Christ would meet him and make some sense of it the cry continues, "Get on your boots, Get on Your Boots, Get on Your boots. So, Church, cry out to Christ to meet this broken world with His grace; Cry out that He will put on His boots and trample His enemies that foster hatred and violence. And Church, come join the song and fight against evil...fight against the violence and hatred...Church, be the redemptive force in the world you are called to be! Now, do I know that Bono means all this...not really. After all, he hasn't called me and talked about the song. But I will say this...what I've written would be completely in line with the symbolism and poetic layering he has used in the past. Anyway, that's a first stab at a song I've been listening to again and again...and I like it!

As You Have Believed

Matthew 8:13--"Let it be done for you as you have believed."--Jesus.
Why are many of us so afraid of verses like this? I think I know. On the one hand, we fear turning into "name-it-claim-it" nut jobs. On the other hand, if we're really honest, the bigger reason is that we fear disappointment. Rather than risk being disappointed with God, we just don't ask for much that is specific and try to be content with our mundane spirituality. We're like the teenager, gifted in hoops, but who doesn't play the game because she just might fail. I find it interesting that Matthew 8:1-13 doesn't even revolve around what we might consider Kingdom urgencies. Both accounts of healing deal with relief from suffering. These words are then followed up with the account of Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law from fever...A Kingdom urgency?? Why not ask the Father to move in your own or someone else's life today in a big way through specific, believing prayer?!...Oh, one more thing, we must recognize that to come to THIS prayer-answering Jesus in believing prayer is to come to the One, who in Matthew 8:22 says, "Follow Me and leave the dead to bury their own dead."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Peter's Second Denial

I was reading in the Book of Acts today. In Acts 10:28 Peter tells a non-Jew named Cornelius that God has taught him (Peter) that he (Peter) should not ever call a person common or unclean because the Gospel is open to all nations. He sounds convinced! He's not...not really. We learn in Galatians 2:11ff that when Peter (Cephas) came to Antioch, Paul publicly got in his face. Peter initially WAS eating with non-Jews in keeping with the grace and freshness of the Gospel. But when other Jews who did NOT understand the freedom of the Gospel came to town, Peter withdrew from eating with Gentiles. Enter Denial #2! Denial #1 occurred when Peter denied he knew Jesus. Denial #2 occurred when Peter denied the grace of the Gospel. How often do we hear of people being rebuked for not living in grace?! We have plenty of rebukes, and rightly so, when people commit any of the "dirty dozen, the nasty nine, the awful eight, the sinful seven, the sinister six, the filthy five" etc. But when is the last time you heard of someone being rebuked for living in legalism; or when does today's church rebuke people for not living in the freedom of grace? Peter's Second Denial makes Acts 10:34 tragically comical: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality!" How do we deny grace by how we relate to others? Maybe we're living in denial as well!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Art and the Gospel

The LORD is the Supremely Creative God...He merely spoke and who knows how many billions of galaxies appeared out of nothing, except by the Word of His power! Any creativity that we see in His image-bearers, believing and non-believing, only flows from the spring of His own Creative Genius. I fear that many followers of Christ have lost the connection between the soul and the arts and the power of the Gospel. As a result, many in our day fear any use of art as a window for the Gospel into the soul. For many, to talk about the subject invites charges of icon worship. Personally, I have experienced great benefits in my soul by spending some time studying Rembrandt's "The Return of the Prodigal Son" that is housed at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia and Bruni's "The Brazen Serpent" housed in the Russian Museum. I also believe that music is a unique tool of the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and ears to the wonder of the Gospel. I find it interesting that when Elisha was asked to prophecy at one point in his ministry, his response was to ask that a musician might be brought to him...and it was as the musician began to play that the Spirit fell upon him and he prophesied (2 Kings 3:15). There is no substitute for the Word of God, but certainly as image-bearers we ought to give more attention to the place of The Arts and their relationship to the development of the soul-life. Don't believe me? Go to iTunes and download Aaron Keyes' song, "Not Guilty Anymore." Listen through it a few times and tell me your soul is not transformed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Workout for the Body and the Soul

Just finished a great work out on my stationary recumbent bike. I pulled up a new Playlist on my iPhone that helped get both my body and soul in better shape. I named the Playlist, "Theology with a Kick." It was so much fun both physically and spiritually, I thought you might like to give a listen yourself sometime...and maybe even do your own workout while you "Listen to the Music." Here's the Playlist: Say (All I Need) by One Republic; Everything by Tim Hughes; Stars by Switchfoot; Elevation by U2; Not Guilty Anymore by Aaron Keyes; Who I Am Hates Who I've Been by Reliant K; "40" by U2; My Sacrifice by Creed; Vertigo by U2; Our God Saves by Paul Baloche; Fix You by Coldplay. If you notice more U2 than other groups...shows what percentages do when you hit "Shuffle!"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

President Obama

A fellow PCA pastor, Ligon Duncan, has suggested ways to pray for our new President. I've found his words both Biblical and gospel-driven. Please check out his blog, which I found very helpful. Also notice the link in Lig's blog to Al Mohler's of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Gospel Pipeline--Waltzing in the Word--Fight

When followers of Christ read Scripture, we normally gravitate to a "practical application." What this means is that we often read Scripture only to look for what we must DO or NOT DO. We have already seen that reading Scripture should remind us, at least initially, of how we are failing to live as Jesus lived...the Repent Step. Then Scripture should lead us to fresh faith in Christ by giving us in ever fresh ways, the promises of the Gospel. As we Repent and Believe, Christ is applied to our hearts in a supernatural way and we are promised change...NOW, as a result of the promise of power and change, we are to FIGHT! It's not NIKE Christianity...Just Do It! Instead it is Gospel light of Repentance and Faith...NOW Do It! There are things we are to fight for and fight against, and we are to note these when we read Scripture...
After appropriating the power of the blood, is there a command that I need to obey?

After appropriating the power of the blood, is there a prohibition that I need to heed?

Is there a means of grace that I need to engage in?

Is there a ministry activity that I need to carry out?

Is there an act of love or mercy that I need to follow through on?

Is there a temptation that I need to struggle hard against to overcome?

Is there a battle wit h the world, the flesh or the devil I need to take more seriously?

Is there something revealed about my life for which I need to be held accountable?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Gospel Pipeline--Waltzing in the Word--Believe

Whenever we read the word, we should hear the Waltz Music. The Scriptures should lead us to repent, but if we only see our sin, we can become discouraged and defeated. The Scriptures should lead us to see our sin only long enough to despair of our own righteousness and ability so that we look afresh to Christ for hope and peace. Therefore, when we read the Word, we should be aware of all there is in the text that points to fresh faith in Christ. Here are some questions I've learned to ask of the passage I'm reading:

Is there some element of the work of Christ revealed in the text I must believe?

Is there a “present value” of the blood of Christ revealed that I must apply to my heart?

Is there a promise of God related to the gospel that I need to appropriate?

Is there a work of the Spirit revealed which I need to hope more fully in?

Is there a revelation of grace that I need to relish revealed by the text?

Is God’s love revealed to me in a fresh way that I need to rest in?

Is there a goodness, kindness or mercy of God that I need to thank Him for?

Is there a revelation of the law as my highest delight that I need to embrace?

Is there a prohibition that I need to acknowledge as a warning keeping me from my
worst nightmare?

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Gospel Pipeline--Waltzing in the Word

If Scripture is the clearest sound of Waltz music, how do we dance as we read? We ask questions of the text according to each of the Three Steps. When it comes to the Repent Step of the Waltz, these questions have been helpful to me:

Is the Spirit exposing a heart attitude through the text that I need to repent of?

Is the Spirit exposing a wrong behavior through the passage that I must confess?

Is there something wrong that I’ve thought, said, done that is revealed in the text?

Is there something that I’ve left unsaid or undone that is revealed by the passage?

Is there some area of unbelief that is being pointed out by the Spirit?

Is there a heart-change and/or life-change God is calling me to make I’m resisting?

Is there a “fruit” sin exposed that is leading me to acknowledge a “root” sin in life?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Gospel Pipeline--Waltz Music

So, if the Christian life is a waltz and the three step spiritual dance with Christ transforms us, how does it work? Easy, you need to listen to the music (Doobie Brothers, August Rush...I know some of you will get that; if you don't, no worries, has nothing to do with this blog entry really). Waltz music is playing all around us all the time! The most obvious source of waltz music is Scripture. Every passage exposes our need for Christ. Instead of reading Scripture and immediate thinking of ways you need to "get busy," think of ways the passage is exposing your fallenness and sin. That may sound depressing, but its not! Our joy comes from seeing Christ as our Savior and Deliverer and experiencing His love and power...that happens when Scripture reveals our sin and points us back to our Hope in Christ. You'll also begin to notice that every passage tends to emphasize one element of the waltz, but to properly interpret and apply the passage, all three steps of the waltz must be kept in mind. You'll be surprised, however, how often all three steps of the waltz are in the immediate context of every Bible passage. But waltz music is heard in every Bible Study, every Sunday morning...and through all of life...every relationship, every circumstance. Our need for Christ and the call to repentance and faith is revealed all day, every day. That's the waltz music that leads us to Repent, Believe and Fight. We wake up each morning and we waltz to the music until we hit the pillow at night...and we find ourselves progressively changed by grace!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Man of Faith

I've been thinking a lot during this New Year season about the life of faith. We are called as the followers of Christ to be a people of faith. We are called to trust God, His character and His promises, and not allow fear and doubt to get in the way of believing God to do us good all our days. Abraham was a man of faith. I was reading in Genesis 24 this morning, where Abraham is telling his servant to find a wife for Isaac from among his own countrymen and not from among the unbelieving foreigners. In Genesis 24:7, Abraham believes that his God will give his servant success in finding a believing, faithful wife for Isaac. How often do I fail to believe God to do good things? We can so easily live in fear and doubt when it comes to our children's faith, our spouse's walk with God, our marriages, our own overcoming of sin and temptation...the list never ends. Yet God calls us to be people of faith...not the emptiness of mere "positive thinking," but living in true hope in the promises of God and His good, faithful character. Notice, as well, how a faith-perspective is contagious--in Genesis 24:12, the servant also shows faith in God's steadfast love. This is NOT the word-faith, name-it-claim-it perspective...but a Biblically-based life of faith. Are you believing God to do good to you and to your family today? Ask God to make you a man or woman or child of faith today!

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Gospel Pipeline--The Waltz

So, all Christians dance...some do the Bunny Hop, some the Texas Two-Step, but those dances are incomplete renditions of the Christ-centered life. The Dance with Christ that leads to spiritual transformation is a Waltz. What is a waltz? You've heard Tchaikovsky or seen a ballroom waltz scene on the big screen...a waltz is a three-step dance. One, two, three; one, two, three; one, two, three. Spiritual transformation occurs as we waltz with Christ. Step One--Repent. Christian growth begins with repentance: admitting our sin and acknowledging we are as helpless to change ourselves apart from Christ as we are to save ourselves from sin apart from Christ. But the waltz is never just a one step dance, so waltzing doesn't end with us admitting our sin and helplessness. That would be depressing! Repentance leads to fresh faith in Christ, so Step Two of the Waltz is Believe. There are two elements here: appreciate and appropriate. First, as you acknowledge sin, appreciate your justified standing with God. You are right with God because of your union with Christ and His righteousness, not because you are perfectly obedient in your life. Second, trust the power of the blood of Christ to be applied to your life at your point of repentance and to change you the same way you trusted the blood of Christ to save you at your conversion. But thus far we simply have a Texas Two-Step, so Step Three of the Waltz is to Fight! There are vices to put off and virtues to put on. We are not lifeless sticks flowing down the current just waiting passively to be carried away. Trusting in Christ afresh unites us with the life-giving energy of His Spirit and we are to step out in dependence and say yes to righteousness and no to sin. Then, as we move out and then blow it again, the waltz music starts all over...Repent, Believe, Fight...1,2,3; 1,2,3; 1,2,3; We waltz with Christ who teaches better and better this dance of growth. We also waltz in the Ballroom of the Church and we encourage one another to grow. One last thing...we are all heavy-footed in one of the steps because of temperament, background, baggage, parenting, experiences, etc. To really grow in a balanced way, we must know where we are heavy-footed in the Waltz and make sure we become more proficient in the other two elements of the waltz. Happy Waltzing!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Gospel Pipeline--The Waltz--Texas-Two Steppers

As we consider paradigms of Christian growth and life-change in the Church, Texas Two-Steppers are folk who seem to reduce the Christian life down to a couple emphases. The most typical Texas Two Step is Confess and Recommit, or Repent and Try Harder. When we are going through our day and we fail, fall into sin, blow it, then confess it and double your efforts to avoid such a failure in the future. Obviously there is some truth to this perspective, but think of this: what is distinctively Christian about such a Two-Step? Where is Christ and the power of the Spirit in such a paradigm? How is that Two-Step any different from other religion's approaches? Other Texas Two-Steppers reduce the Christian life to Repent and Believe or Confess your sin and trust God for change. Now, in some ways, of all the "dances" we've considered, this is closest to the Biblical paradigm...yet it is still incomplete. There is no question we are called to confess our sin and to repent of our sin. There is also no question that we are to look to Christ in full faith to transform us. But there are many commands in Scripture and many encouragements to work out our salvation and to strive for holiness and put off vices and put on virtue. So, the Texas Two-Step is also an inadequate view of Christian life change. We need to learn how to WALTZ!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Gospel Pipeline and the Waltz--Bunny Hoppers

All Christians Dance! When it comes to a paradigm of Christian growth, all Christians are engaged in a spiritual dance.  Some Christians do the Bunny Hop...a one-step dance.  They seem to reduce the Christian life to a singular element.  Some Bunny Hoppers emphasize striving with all their might..."Try harder!" might be their cry. Other Bunny Hoppers might focus on recommitment.  Others may think the key to spiritual growth in confession or repentance.  Still other Bunny Hoppers might focus on surrender...their cry might be "Let go, let God." Perhaps you are a Bunny Hopper.  There are some elements of Biblical truth to these variations of the Bunny Hop...but none of them present the complete Biblical paradigm of spiritual change. Next time we'll look at those of us who do the Texas Two-Step...

The Fire of God

In 1 Kings 18 we see a very hopeful picture of the Christian life.  Elijah is in a power encounter with the forces of darkness.  He is in a face-off with the prophets of Baal.  They decide to build altars out of wood and placed a bull on the altar.  Then they decided that the God who answered by fire and burnt up the altar and offering is the true God. The prophets of Baal cried out all day and "there was no voice; no one answered; no one paid attention." That is the hopelessness of those who look to other "gods" besides the Lord.  Then Elijah cried out to the Lord and said, "Let it be known that You are God!"  And even though Elijah's altar was doused with water, the fire of the Lord fell and  consumed the offering. When the people saw it, "they fell on their faces and said, 'The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!"  We need the fire of God to fall on our lives. We can build the "altars" of commitment; we can provide the "bulls" of effort and offer our gifts and abilities to the Lord. But, unless God provides the Fire of His Spirit, nothing of any true spiritual worth will occur in our lives, our families, our churches, etc. Cry out for the fire of God to be poured out from on high!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Interesting Article on Social Networking Sites

I came across this article. Check it out. Be thoughtful. Be wise. Redeem the opportunities that present themselves...its like eating fish...enjoy the meat but simply pick the bones from your mouth and put them on the side of the plate to throw away! Here's the site:

Marley and...My God

Marley and Me is the most popular film in America right now. A great movie about a couple (and then a family) and their dog. What do you think God thinks about the movie? On one level, I believe He approves. Hollywood actually wrote a script where a married couple works through relational struggles and stays committed to the marriage! But there is another level besides that where God is pleased with the movie...God loves dogs! Well, He loves more than dogs...He loves cats, guinea pigs, lizards, parakeets, hamsters, cows, zebras, horses and whatever other animal you can think of! In Genesis 8:1, in the midst of the Great Flood that covered the earth, we read that "God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark." What an interesting verse. We can understand God remembering Noah...why not just leave it at that? But no, the inspired text specifically adds, "and all the beasts and all the livestock." God's heart is so big and so tender that he remembers even the animals. This is revealed elsewhere as well. In Proverbs 12:10 we read that "whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast." In Jonah 4:11, God makes his case for showing compassion for wicked Ninevah by telling Jonah that there are many children there, as well as many "cattle." God spared the city, not only because of people, but because of animals! Then, of course, there are the words of Jesus, which leads me to the whole point of this Luke 12:5-6, Christ tells the disciples to consider sparrows. Birds of such little worth in the world's eyes that five are sold for two pennies. Yet the fact is not one of them is forgotten by the Father. "Fear not, you are of more value than many sparrows. God cares about animals and has regard for their welfare. How much more will He care for you today! Amazing, all this from Marley and Me...the Gospel is being preached everywhere! Listen to the music.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Coming Soon: What is the Waltz?

The Waltz and New Year's Resolutions

As I think about New Year's resolutions, I'm reminded that I've never met anyone in all my years of ministry, who had an intimate walk with God, who did not pursue God through a personal devotional life. Most followers of Christ know this, intuitively as well as Biblically. What is missing in many peoples' lives is not the awareness of the need, but a plan. As I've said before, when it comes to a devotional life, if you fail to plan then plan to fail. I could say with as much conviction as above, I've never met anyone who did not have a plan that was able to maintain a consistent devotional life. There are many plans out there. The ESV Study Bible site offers several. Here is the link-- Check it out, and by God's grace, resolve to maintain a consistent devotional life in 2009...waltz your way there. Dance your way there...REPENT over your coldness toward the Lord and your propensity to be distracted away from devotions. BELIEVE God loves you the same whether you have a devotion or not, BELIEVE that God's love for you is consistent and constant based on your union with Christ...Yet also BELIEVE God for the grace to transform your desires so that you delight in spending time with Him and truly miss Him when you don't spend a devotional period with Him each day. Then FIGHT the good fight by making every effort to maintain your devotions...make your plan, work your plan, stick to your plan...and when you fail, WALTZ ALL OVER AGAIN!!