Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Give Me Jesus

Its been a while since I've written and its not that I haven't been on my blog its just that I haven't really had much to write or say. I'm not one to post something just for the sake of making a post.

Lately I've been going for walks during lunch on a greenway nearby work. I usually take my mp3 player and listen to a MacArthur sermon or some thought provoking music. The other day this song comforted me as I listened to the lyrics:

"Give Me Jesus"

In the morning, when I rise, In the morning, when I rise, In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus, You can have all this world, But give me Jesus. When I am alone, When I am alone, When I am alone, give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus, You can have all this world, But give me Jesus. When I come to die, When I come to die, When I come to die, give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, Give me Jesus, You can have all this world, You can have all this world, You can have all this world, But give me Jesus...

The only version I have heard of this traditional song is the version the Fernando Ortega did and from what I understand its been recorded by a lot of people. This song really captured the way I've been feeling and the way I've come to view life. I see the things that this world promises will bring happiness and fulfillment but in reality it only leaves us wanting more. This world is such an empty place and nothing that it has to offer will be of any lasting value. I am a very blessed man with a lot to be thankful for. God has given me a great wife and son with another child on the way. And above all God chose to save a sinner like me, what can bring a sense of joy greater than that? Surely nothing this world has to offer.

Just give me Jesus, you can have all this world and all its empty pursuits but give me Jesus and by God's grace I'll be content in Him.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Santa Christ?

Santa Christ?
by Sinclair B. Ferguson

I took the hand of my toddler son (it was several decades ago now) as we made our way into the local shop on the small and remote Scottish island where earlier that year I had been installed as minister. It was Christmas week. The store was brightly decorated and a general air of excitement was abroad.

Without warning, the conversations of the customers were brought to a halt by a questioning voice from beside me. My son's upraised index finger pointed at a large cardboard Santa Claus. "Daddy, who is that funny-looking man?" he asked.

Amazement spread across the faces of the jostling shoppers; accusing glances were directed at me. Such shame--the minister's son did not even recognize Santa Claus! What likelihood, then, of hearing good news in his preaching at the festive season?

Such experiences can make us bewail how the Western world gives itself over annually to its Claus-mass or commerce-mass. We celebrate a reworked pagan Saturnalia of epic proportions, one in which the only connection with the incarnation is semantic. Santa is worshiped, not the Savior; pilgrims go to the stores with credit cards, not to the manger with gifts. It is the feast of indulgence, not of the incarnation.

It is always easier to lament and critique the new paganism of secularism's blatant idolatry than to see how easily the church -- and we ourselves -- twist or dilute the message of the incarnation in order to suit our own tastes. But, sadly, we have various ways of turning the Savior into a kind of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus Christianity
For one thing, in our worship at Christmas we may varnish the staggering truth of the incarnation with what is visually, audibly, and aesthetically pleasing. We confuse emotional pleasure -- or worse, sentiment -- with true adoration.

For another thing, we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.

Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been "good enough." So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners.

Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus -- a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus' hand, like Santa's sack, opens only when we can give an upper-percentile answer to the none-too-weighty probe, "Have you done your best this year?" The only difference from medieval theology here is that we do not use its Latin phraseology: facere quod in se est (to do what one is capable of doing on one's own, or, in common parlance, "Heaven helps those who help themselves").

Then again, Santa Christ may be a mystical Jesus, who, like Santa Claus, is important because of the good experiences we have when we think about him, irrespective of his historical reality. It doesn't really matter whether the story is true or not; the important thing is the spirit of Santa Christ. For that matter, while it would spoil things to tell the children this, everyone can make up his or her own Santa Christ. As long as we have the right spirit of Santa Christ, all is well.

But Jesus is not to be identified with Santa Claus; worldly thinking -- however much it employs Jesus-language--is not to be confused with biblical truth.

The Christ of Christmas
The Scriptures systematically strip away the veneer that covers the real truth of the Christmas story. Jesus did not come to add to our comforts. He did not come to help those who were already helping themselves or to fill life with more pleasant experiences. He came on a deliverance mission, to save sinners, and to do so He had to destroy the works of the Devil (Matt. 1:21; 1 John 3:8b).

Those whose lives were bound up with the events of the first Christmas did not find His coming an easy and pleasurable experience.

Mary and Joseph's lives were turned upside down.

The shepherds' night was frighteningly interrupted, and their futures potentially radically changed.

The magi faced all kinds of inconvenience and family separation.

Our Lord Himself, conceived before wedlock, born probably in a cave, would spend His early days as a refugee from the bloodthirsty and vindictive Herod (Matt. 2:13-21).

There is, therefore, an element in the Gospel narratives that stresses that the coming of Jesus is a disturbing event of the deepest proportions. It had to be thus, for He did not come merely to add something extra to life, but to deal with our spiritual insolvency and the debt of our sin. He was not conceived in the womb of Mary for those who have done their best, but for those who know that their best is "like filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6)--far from good enough--and that in their flesh there dwells no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He was not sent to be the source of good experiences, but to suffer the pangs of hell in order to be our Savior.

A Christian Christmas
The Christians who first began to celebrate the birth of the Savior saw this. Christmas for them was not (contrary to what is sometimes mistakenly said) simply adding a Christian veneer to a pagan festival--the Roman Saturnalia. They may have been doing what many Christians have done in marking Reformation Day (which happens to fall on Halloween), namely, committing themselves to a radical alternative to the world's Saturnalia, refusing to be squeezed into its mold. They were determined to fix mind, heart, will, and strength exclusively on the Lord Jesus Christ. There was no confusion in their thinking between the world and the gospel, Saturnalia and Christmas, Santa Jesus and Christ Jesus. They were citizens of another empire altogether.

In fact, such was the malice evoked by their other-worldly devotion to Christ that during the persecutions under the Emperor Diocletian, some believers were murdered as they gathered to celebrate Christmas. What was their gross offense? Worship of the true Christ -- incarnate, crucified, risen, glorified, and returning. They celebrated Him that day for giving His all for them, and as they did so, they gave their all for Him.

One Christmas Eve in my teenage years, I opened a book a friend had given to me as a present. I found myself so overwhelmed by its teaching on my recently found Savior that I began to shake with emotion at what had dawned on me: the world had not celebrated His coming, but rather had crucified Him.

Doubtless I was an impressionable teenager. But should it not cause us to tremble that "they crucified my Lord"? Or is that true only in song, not in reality? Are we not there when the world still crucifies Him in its own, often-subtle ways?

The truth is that unless the significance of what Christ did at the first Christmas shakes us, we can scarcely be said to have understood much of what it means, or of who He really is.

Who is He in yonder stall
At Whose feet the shepherds fall?
'Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!
And we might add:

Who is He on yonder cross
Suffers for this dark world's loss?
'Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! Crown Him, Lord of all!
Let us not confuse Jesus Christ with Santa Claus.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A biblical perspective on the election and the future of our country

John Piper gave a great biblical perspective here on the election and the future of our country.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Even though Barack Obama will be our new President....

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes ~ Proverbs 21:1 NASB

1. The Bible is still reliable

2. Prayer will still be answered.

3. The Holy Spirit will still exalt the Lord Jesus.

4. God will still inhabit the praises of His people.

5. God will still use the preaching of the gospel.

6. The purposes of God will still not be thwarted.

7. God will still care for His people.

8. There's still be room at the Cross!

9. Jesus is still coming again.

10. Jesus will continue to save sinners and continue to build His church.


Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Reformation Day!!!

Happy Reformation Day!!! Today October 31st we celebrate Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenburg church in Wittenburg Germany. This sparked the Protestant Reformation and changed the course of western civilization. Luther's theology challenged the papacy of the Roman Catholic Church by holding the Bible as the only infallible source of Christian authority. Luther taught that according to the scriptures salvation is the free gift of God, received only by true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, a faith given by God and unmediated by the church. Martin's translation of the Bible into the vernacular of the German people made the Scriptures more accessible to them. And his hymns inspired the development of congregational singing within Christianity.

If you don't know much about Martin Luther and you want something to wet your appetite I highly recomend the movie "Luther" which came out in 2003. It's a favorite of ours that we have watched many times.

Happy Reformation Day!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are you an American or a Globalist?

On Tuesday November 4th I'll be voting with my conscience and casting my vote for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

A "New" World?

As I've watched the news over the past couple of weeks I can't help but wonder where this global economic crisis is heading. I've heard everything from discussions about a new currency, a union of The United States, Canada & Mexico (North American Union), the NAFTA Superhighway and a national ID card called the "Real ID Act". We are even hearing the phrase "New World Order" being used again. In light of all this one has to wonder what exactly was discussed at the G7 meetings with top world leaders this weekend. Could we be on the verge of a new America or even a New World Order? One thing is for sure, something big is about to take place on a global scale.

The only comfort we have as believers in Christ is that our God is still on His throne!

The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes Proverbs 21:1 (NASB)

The LORD nullifies the counsel of the nations; He frustrates the plans of the peoples Psalm 33:10 (NASB)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ronnie's new drum

Ronnie's got a new conga drum that's his size! It was a prototype that one of the guys at work gave me. It's a real conga with a tunable calfskin head. Ronnie loves hitting on things, he has really taken to the drums.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A place to call home

My wife Marcy and I are so excited that we have finally found a church that we can call home!!!! We have both been discouraged in trying to find a church that was Reformed and that taught expositionally from the bible. By God's grace he led us to Grace Christian Assembly about a month ago. Sitting under verse by verse biblical expository teaching is like a breath of fresh air.

We look forward to growing and serving with this community of beleivers.

GCA's website http://www.salvationbygrace.org/

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The difference between religion and The Biblical Gospel

What is the Gospel? The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way. Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.

Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person. The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.

The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control. The goal of the gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.

Religion is about what I have to do. The gospel is about what I get to do. Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God. The gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus. Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus.

Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.

Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.

*copied from off of Mars Hill Church website.