Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pure joy in Christ

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.
[Isaiah 25:8]

What a joy it is to be in Christ! The Lord's power is limitless, greater even than the grave. It is IMPOSSIBLE for death to keep its hold of Him (Acts 2:24). Through Christ, and only through Christ, is the the sting of death conquered. It is only through Christ that we, the perishable can be clothed with the imperishable, mortals clothed with immortality. It is in Christ alone that we can boast over death, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:55). It is in this hope that we gain endurance as we suffer with Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3), that we can consider it pure joy whenever we face trials (James 1:2) and that we are free to count everything as loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8).

There will be a day when THE SOVEREIGN LORD HIMSELF will wipe away the tears from all faces and remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The God of the universe, the One who is true, is faithful to us. If we are in Christ, our Father in heaven, our dad, will make all things right in a way we have never experienced. Consider it pure joy to be in Christ, my friends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When I look at the stars...

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
[Psalm 19:1-4]

Isn't that something...

The heavens- the stars, the planets, the moons, every galaxy, the entire universe, all DECLARES the glory of God. There are no hints nor subtleties. The heavens themselves proclaim the glory of God.

No speech nor language, no culture, no people is hidden from the heavens. In all the earth the glory of God is seen! People who have never heard the name of Jesus have heard, seen, experienced the glory of God. He will be known in all the world.

Creation shouts of God. Take the time to stop and listen, and join in with the heavens.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zealous for Jealous

I don't normally like to publish posts that are solely other peoples' words. Usually I will pull quotes and reflect on what I've read. But, I was reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer the other day and was really struck by a passage that he quoted from Bishop J.C. Ryle's Practical Religion. This is what Ryle said, as quoted by Packer:

"Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature- which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted- but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called 'zealous' men...
"A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies- whether he has health, or whether he has sickness- whether he is rich, or whether he is poor- whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence- whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish- whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise- whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame- for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it- he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh and pray.... If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill. If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of 'zeal' in religion."

It is my prayer that each day I am more zealous for God and that you too are "swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ministry Update

I will be sending this letter via U.S. Mail, but thought I'd share it here as well.
July 2009 Update Letter

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Freedom takes interdependence sometimes

This morning I was at my cousin's church for the baptism of her 2-month-old son and 7 or 8-year-old step-son. I wish I had taken better notes on the sermon because I enjoyed it very much. While I'm not sure the pastor meant for it to be about global missions, it kinda was.

The two points I remember most clearly were these:

1) Freedom does not always mean independence. Negative freedom is that freedom in which we are more isolationists and are, in essence, free from others. Positive freedom actually requires a great deal of interdependence. In this way, we are free do do what we need to do, what we've been called to do because of the help of other people.

One of the most daunting things about any form of full-time ministry for me is support raising, in which you rely on God's provision through other people to support you and your dependents financially in your ministry. Needing supporters is not a limit on freedom, though. In fact, those supporters increase the freedom to do what God has called you or me to do. "No man is an island," right?

2) The pastor talked about the change Jesus brought in shifting from temple piety to an outward focused ministry. Temple piety was the idea that the people had to go to the temple if they wanted to learn about God. Priests had it in their heads that they had the knowledge, but rather than taking that to people, the people should go to them. Jesus did things a little differently. He recruited a "street team," if you will, to take the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the people, out from the comfortable confines of the temple.

Jesus, after he was resurrected instructed us in this:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
[Matthew 28:18-20]

This is a two-part command. First, "go." Unlike the priests who waited for people to come to them, Jesus says to "go." Second, make disciples of all nations. All nations. ALL nations. The fact is, by our staying put there are some entire nations of people who will never hear the message of Christ and be instructed on how to cultivate a relationship with Him.

It takes the freedom that comes from interdependence to go and make disciples of all nations and keep fighting against temple piety the way Jesus did. Still, as necessary as support from other people is, Jesus Himself promised that He would be with us "to the very end of the age." You can't beat that support.