Delightfully Intertwined

January 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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When I was in elementary school, we used to play a silly little game. One kid would cross his arms in front of him, turn his palms inward to face each other, lace the fingers of his hands together, then pull his hands up and in, turning the wrists over, so that his hands were sort of held together the way we sometimes do in prayer, but reversed.

The person facing him would then tap one of his fingers to see if he could – while watching the tap – move the finger that was tapped. For most people it’s a little harder than it sounds to move the correct finger right away. I’m sure there is some scientific (and somewhat dry) explanation for why it’s difficult, and it probably involves concepts like hand-to-eye coordination and muscle memory. I’m not saying those things aren’t interesting. I’m sure to plenty of people they are. However, there is also joy and wonder and plan old fun in playing the game and trying it out.

Since you became a Christian (IF in fact you HAVE become a Christian), I hope you have been reading your Bible with diligence, fascination, and delight. I also hope you have meditated deeply on what you have read and are reading. Bible study is one of the key ingredients to Christian growth, and you will never fully experience the fullness of Christ the way He wants you to unless you engage in it.

However, as you read more and more of the Bible, and as you think more and more deeply about God, you are bound to come upon certain concepts which are difficult for the finite mind to reconcile. One of the ones I am most often asked about is the perceived tension between man’s will and God’s sovereignty. In explaining what the Bible teaches about these concepts I find it helpful if I can keep myself from beginning with a frown, a sigh, or a crossing of the arms. Though the concepts of human responsibility and Divine predestination may pose difficulties when it comes to our attempts to “reconcile” them, they are never addressed with consternation or puzzlement in Scripture. In fact, they are spoken of as plainly co-existing in blessed harmony. Therefore, as we speak about them, perhaps we should re-imagine them as something in which to be delighted as fully enmeshed – not separate and distinct and contradictory.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16:11

Mysterious Worship

February 16, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Habakkuk | 3 Comments
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Habakkuk Chapter 3 is a great psalm that the Holy Spirit authored through Habakkuk. It shows so clearly – because it is a prayer and a psalm of worship – what is missing in so much of our contemporary worship.

We are not missing talent – we’ve got plenty of that. We are not missing enthusiasm – enthusiasm can be manufactured fairly consistently. We are not missing “freshness” – you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting a church congregation which “has broken free of the bonds of dead religion” and has gotten “free” in worship. Anything that was forbidden by the old folks, we’re all about it. No, what’s missing is the theology – the depth of knowledge about God’s works.

Habakkuk traces the history of the Old Testament – deliverance from Egypt, water turning to blood, anointed judges delivering God’s people, the battles in Canaan – as he brings out the mystery of God’s workings.

When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.

Habakkuk 3:16

When was the last time you actually shook and trembled for fear at God’s awesome power while you were worshiping? The mystery of trembling with knowledge will lead to rest in the day of trouble.

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Habakkuk 3:17

What will we do when we’ve run out of everything we’ve been led to believe is our sustenance – our income, our security, even our food?

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:18

My God is a Savior. People who aren’t in trouble don’t need a savior. When I am empty – when I can’t do one thing to help myself – then God shows up.

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Habakkuk 3:19

Habakkuk says, “Now, tell the worship leaders to sing about that!”

Don’t listen to the false prophets who say “peace, peace,” when destruction is at the doorstep. When we aren’t really motivated to obey God, it is often because we don’t see His greatness. We love to say, “God is good – all the time, and all the time – God is good,” and He is. But we must not forget, not only is God good, but God is also great. His ways are not our ways. His ways are superior to our ways. Realizing His greatness and our dependence is step one in moving from wrestling with God to worshiping God.

His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33). We won’t truly worship God until we stop trying to figure out what He’s doing or why He’s doing it, and start meditating on Who He is.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Justification (Part 3)

January 20, 2010 at 9:03 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 4 Comments
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Previously we have seen:
1. God’s Motive for justification; and
2. God’s Meaning of justification.

Then we saw:
3. God’s Method of justification

This time, I want to look at the Marks of justification – what happens to you when you have been justified.

First, you enjoy a right relationship with God.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

A key element of this right relationship with God is having peace with God. Justification itself is not peace – it is a declaration of peace. If you were at war with an earthly enemy, and you surrendered, you would most likely be:
(a) killed; or
(b) humiliated.
When you surrender to God you are given life, freedom, and peace. Being unjustified, you have (idiotically) no fear of God – or a fear that makes you run from God. That’s where you would be if there was somehow “peace” without justification. Say, for example, if God decided not to attack you or to justify you, but gave you the realization of what you are and Who He is: this would cause you to flee from Him in fear. But, being justified, you still have a fear of God – only now it’s a fear that makes you run to God, not away from God.

In other words, being justified, we have peace with God, and freedom of fellowship with God. Unjustified, we would have no access to God because we would stand condemned before Him. Being justified, God’s grace is our complete sufficiency.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

Blessings from God come by grace, so we are free to ask for blessings. After all, He has declared us to be righteous.

To review: Being justified, we have:
1. Peace with God
2. Freedom of fellowship with God
3. We have hope.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

Hope makes us rejoice. Our hope is in knowing that God will share His glory with us.

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