Monthly Archives: February 2017

Did He say that?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
(Genesis 3:1 ESV)

Did God actually say? Did He really say that?

Often times I think I may be like Satan when someone says to me “God said to me.” Really? You heard God’s audible voice? God audibly told you this? I cringe at the words “God spoke to me.” Or her sister phrase, “God’s calling me to.” Or her cousin, “I’m doing it for God.” And even the phrase “wherever the Holy Spirit leads.”

Is doing something for God automatically means that God likes it? The Holy Spirit literally took your hand and brought you somewhere?

The reason why I cringe at these phrases is because often they’re used in a flippant manner by people who are trying to justify what they mean, say, or do. But we need to think through the way we use language. In my experience, when someone says, “God told me this,” they usually mean they thought about something that they never thought of before, or that something came into their mind or heart and they believe it to be a good or right idea. So, most of the time, I take that phrase to mean “I was thinking” or “I felt.”

But this is where we need true Biblical knowledge. We need a full understanding of God’s word.

Just because someone thinks or feels a certain way doesn’t mean that’s God’s will. And just because I may ask, “did God actually say that to you?” doesn’t mean I’m doubting the words of God. In fact, my thought is to doubt that God actually told that person. However, I will not doubt the sincerity of what that person is thinking to do.

This is where having a truly Biblical knowledge keeps Christians in the protection of God. God’s word tells us to test the spirits. If someone comes to you believing they have a word for you, or telling you that God told them something, you are not obligated to believe that what they say is from God. God’s word gives us the authority to test.

Here is where God’s word tells us to test:

1 John 3:23 – 1 John 4:6

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (ESV)

I want to explain this a little and then end this post.

We see that John is telling Christians that they know God abides in them by the Spirit God has given them. And we know the Spirit abides in them by their loving one another and by their belief in Jesus Christ.

So in knowing the Spirit they have, they are told to test the spirits. They ought not to believe every spirit. They are to test them. And John is saying they will know the Spirit of God by their confession that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.

John is attacking a very specific problem that arose in the church called Gnosticism. It basically believed Jesus didn’t really come in the flesh because material things are evil, and Jesus wasn’t evil, so he actually didn’t have a body. I would love to talk about how some Christians do the same today but still try to say they believe Jesus saved them, and yet here John very clearly says they are anti-christ’s, but that’s not my purpose now. My purpose is demonstrating that John is telling those whom he is writing to that they must carefully listen and test the spirits. They must see if they are truly from God. And in this passage, the way John is talking about testing the spirit is a testing by seeing if they are actually from God.

What I want to pull away from this is this: Though John is saying that we need to test and see if other people and teachers are truly from God, I want to apply it and say, are those words someone is speaking to you truly from God.

The person may be a Christian who is talking to you. They believe Jesus came in the flesh, they are loving one another, and you see evidence that they have the Spirit of God in them. However, just because someone has the Spirit of God does not mean they obey God in every area. Nor does it mean their thoughts about everything conform to God’s will. So we must test and ask if it’s truly from God, if it aligns with scripture, and if it’s something that is necessary to heed.

Thankfully, the Bible is a protection in many ways. It protects us from abusive pastors who will tell you that you must do x, y and z. But it also commends us to honor our pastors in a doubly kinda way. We are told to seek wise counsel, and hopefully that comes from pastors and Christians around us. But, if anything in contrary to scripture then you have authority to disregard it but also the responsibility to point out the error.

We must question if God actually told that person, because we want to truly obey God and not man. But if the God speaks to us in His word, and it is clear, then we must never ask “Did God really say?”

Yes. Of course He said it. It’s right there.


Ephesians 1:4-6

Ephesians 1:4-6

[4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love [5] he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, [6] to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (ESV)

As we were looking at in our previous Ephesians post we saw that God chose a people before He created anything. And those people he chose were going to be holy and blameless before him.

Then, at the end of verse 4, we have the beginning sentence in verse five, which is “In love.” This indicates to us with what attitude God acted. And the action in this verse is “predestine us for adoption.” This relates back to our previous post on Ephesians.

The word predestined means to decide beforehand. As we have seen, God doesn’t wind up a clock and let it loose. God acts within time and space and history. He stoops down to our level. So God’s predestining isn’t merely things playing out how they will play out. He doesn’t plan by setting some hypothetical world in order and watching it hypothetically play out. God doesn’t see you believing and trusting in Christ and obeying Christ, and then he says “oh, I’ll choose that one.” No. That goes against this whole passage. God isn’t choosing people who chose him. That would mean that God doesn’t save by grace but save because of works. That’s the opposite of adoption. That’s the opposite of being chosen to be holy and blameless. It’s a holy and blameless act to choose to follow Christ. How can we choose to follow Christ, and thus God chooses us because we choose to follow Christ? That’s contrary to this passage. This passage is saying, God chose you, and thus bestows His love and His blessings upon you, which makes you holy and blameless, which includes the holy act of choosing to be in Christ.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, then forgive me for not being able to make it clear. Let me try and be more simple: God chooses us (Christians, saints) before we ever choose him. God chooses us (Christians, saints) before he creates us. He knows that Christians will choose Him because He has ordained and set up what they are going to do. And apart of that choosing work is deciding beforehand that he would adopt us through Christ.

So now we see God determining beforehand that he would adopt people to himself, who we know to be His people. This was done through Jesus Christ. Remember, this is all a part of the blessings of “us;” who are Paul and the saints who are either at Ephesus or reading this circular letter.

So God determines beforehand that we, his people, would be adopted to himself as sons through Jesus Christ. We become his people because he determined it before hand and then does the actions of adopting. This was all done “according to the purpose of his will.” I don’t know if you’re picking something up, but Paul is using some strong words to put forward a point. There can be no doubt that God’s predestining was his will, not ours. It was according to His purpose, not ours.

Let’s not pretend that our choosing God was something we did because we are something. This passage is clear. God chose us according to his purpose. And not just His purpose, but the purpose of His will. There is nothing here that can let us believe that we have any power or ability to do something we cannot. We cannot determine God’s purposes or plans, He does that. God didn’t ask us if we wanted to be created. God didn’t ask us if we wanted to live in this world, in this family, on this continent. God didn’t ask us our opinions. God determined it all and is in control of it all.

I want to talk about the adoption and the other parts of this verse and understand the blessing that is here, but I want to make sure something is understood by this and the previous verse: that God has done it. He chose you. He picked you. He determined and decided before you existed. He bestowed His love and His blessings upon you apart from who you are.

Does that give you any room for boasting? None. What does knowing this do? Free us from trying to become something we’re not, and frees us from defining ourselves or letting others define us. This all defines us. God defines us. He tells us what we are.

If you don’t know this God, then bow, repent and believe in this God. He is a God who is living, active and abiding among his people. He has done all the work. He has given and is giving all the blessings. May we simply bask in the beauty of God’s love, His work, and in His Son. May we simply love and enjoy Him, being transformed, becoming holy and blameless before Him.


On Heroes

Most of my favorite stories involve a man who fights against all odds, sacrificing everything to save something he loves.

We like to hear about men who sacrifice everything and fight the worst of all enemies with little support behind him. We like hearing about people who do things not for their own good but for the good of others.

As I reflect upon this, I want to emphasize something that I believe Christians miss. When we talk about salvation, we make it all about us. Sermons are preached about how God wants you, and it is said in such a way that makes us believe he needs us. Invitations are given to men to come to Christ, not because He is a perfect savior and He will make you holy, but because you need the help and God wants to help you. I’ve heard pastors says God cares about you and wants the best for you. This phrase doesn’t irk me because it’s somehow false. No, it’s completely true that God cares and wants the best for His children. But notice I said, for His children. I cannot take the truth’s of scripture about his love for His children, and then try to apply it to the men who hate God. I can’t. Why? Because the Bible isn’t about us. The universe isn’t about us. And we aren’t suppose to be about us.

This is why I want to reflect upon the fact of those heroes we love in stories, because there is a truth that is overlooked. The reason these are good stories is because we love the hero, not because we love those being saved.

Think about it for a moment. Name a good book or story or movie you love where you didn’t care for the hero but absolutely loved the one needing saving?

Are you catching on? The fact God is saving a people for himself from humanity isn’t because humanity isn’t some great object that God absolutely must save because they’re so awesome that he just needs them. No. In fact, we all recognize that the people who need saving in most stories need saving precisely because they’re people who get themselves tangled into a mess or are helpless or weak.

Christians need to stop speaking as though God is a helpless victim who created a world and didn’t realize it would fall. We need to stop speaking as though God didn’t plan to save a people before the fall. We have to stop pretending as though God is saving us because we are worth saving. We’re not.

God saved us precisely because it demonstrates how amazing He is. It was His plan to enter into creation. It was His plan to associate with the lowly. It was His plan to save the weak and worthless things to shame the wise and strong. It was His plan to bestow His love on a particular people.

The whole course of human history is about God. It’s about His works and His character. Good stories aren’t about those being saved, but about the one saving. Do we think God made a world, knowing that it would fall, just to let man “be free?” Just so we could choose what the course of human history will be?

I believe every human heart knows that in order for the hero to be seen as the hero, he also needs to be seen going through great effort to save someone who doesn’t deserve it. And humans don’t deserve salvation. We don’t deserve to be saved. And I do not believe God saved us without realizing he would obtain glory and honor. No. He did it precisely because he would obtain glory and honor. He did it precisely because that’s who He is, and who He is is far more amazing than just what He has done. We can only know who He is by what He has done, but His value is not found in His love for His people, but truly in His love for His glory, His name, His honor, His character, His consistency, His goodness, His holiness, and His righteousness.

God didn’t create a world to be judged by his creation. He created a world, regardless of what his creation will think of Him, because it pleased Himself to create, and enter into creation, and so please Himself by acting according to His nature to save that which He decided to save, which was weak, worthless, dead, and in enmity against him. So to demonstrate how much of a hero, how great of a savior, how awesome of a God He is.

The God I serve cares more about Himself than anything else. And that is precisely the God I want to serve.

As it was said one, the measure of the worth of a soul is the object of that souls love.

The warrior’s worth is not found in how many victories he wins, but who and what he wins victories for. And God’s victories are for Himself. Jesus Christ is the true hero of all time.


Work is a blessing

I was reading an interesting blog post about capitalism, free markets and being a Christian. It got me thinking about a misunderstanding I had long ago, which is work is a curse. I believe it is a misunderstanding that many Christian in America may have. And if the author of that blog were to read this post I must preface this all by saying I am not saying that she believed this misunderstanding. It’s a good chance that I misunderstood what she was saying. So, because charity is a Christian virtue, I will admit if I am wrong, but I also hope charity is extended and this post isn’t read as some attack on that blogger at all. It’s not.

Genesis 2:15

[15] The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (ESV)

Let me point out the obvious. Genesis 2:15 is before Genesis 3. And Genesis 3 contains the fall of man. So this verse exists before man fell away and was cast out of the garden. Which means that God gave man work while in paradise.

I say paradise because many Christians would agree that the garden was a miniature picture, a pre-fall picture, of what heaven is like. There’s no death. No suffering. Yet, there is work. Yet, God commands man, not just to avoid eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God commands man to be fruitful, multiply, subdue the earth, and rule and have dominion over all the creatures. There wasn’t just one command. God gave a whole list of commands before the fall.

Man was given much. God gave man the whole entire world. It was given to man to work it and keep it. The Garden was a place that God himself provided so that man had a starting point. But the command was clear, subdue the whole earth.

Now, remember, this is before the fall. And if you’re like me, then you should see how this has huge implications for all of us as Christians. We believe work to be a good thing. We believe work to be a command of God. We believe work to be a part of what it means to be human. And that means, though work takes effort and time and energy, it’s not a curse. Work is a blessing from God.

The curse is found in Genesis 3:

Genesis 3:17-19

[17] And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
[18] thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
[19] By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.” (ESV)

Notice that this is the curse. The curse isn’t, “you will now have to work to eat;” the curse is, “in pain you shall eat of it.” The curse isn’t, “work will be given to you;” the curse is, “thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.” Instead of eating the plants in the garden, Adam will be cast into the field, and will eat the plants there. Adam was eating bread he worked for before the fall, but now the curse means Adam will sweat to make the bread: it will be difficult to make bread.

The fall didn’t give us work, the fall gave us difficult work that sometimes would end up in futility. And I know Christians who hate hard work because they feel like it’s pointless. And this may be true, but these Christians are forgetting two key things: 1) God gave them work and commands them to work, 2) Christ turns everything futile on it’s head.

When Jesus died all his work could have been seen as pointless. His disciples are discouraged and seen going back to doing what they did before Christ. Nothing has changed in the world. Jesus died and everything of his teachings or works died with him. It was futile.

However, something happens. A single things takes place and now all His work wasn’t pointless at all. Jesus resurrected from the dead, and all the wrongs are made right. God chose to take the futility and defeat the powers of sin and death. Sin enters the world, and through sin futility enters. Christ turns this around. He takes the futile and weak and worthless things, and He chooses to conquer sin, and death, and the world.

The Christian hope is the hope that not only that we will be with Christ one day, but that everything that was seemingly pointless will have been made right. All the futile and difficult things will have a purpose. And this is what Jesus Christ demonstrates.

So mundane work is no longer mundane, because Jesus conquer the world through the mundane. Jesus subdues the world through the toil. Jesus takes on the sins of the world and dies, and this becomes rich soil for a new heavens and a new earth. And as Christians, we will be partakers of the newness of it all when he comes back.

For now, work diligent and hard. For God commanded us to.


Admitting your failures

My wife pointed out that my blog on writing was poorly edited.

We all need to be ready to admit when we’ve failed. And that post failed. But I did admit that I battle laziness in that post, and it is pure laziness to skip editing. I wanted to have written. I wanted it to be out in the blogosphere. I wanted to disregard the quality of my work.

For this all I can ask is forgiveness and admit that I was a hypocrite.

They say admission is good for the soul. I don’t know who ‘they’ are or why they know so much about the soul but they certainly haven’t read the Bible.

We have to do more than admit. We also have to repent and turn from them.

So, I guess I’ll start editing moore. Oops. No, delete that. Backspace, backspace. Type more. I meant more. Blah. Forget it. It’ll just stay there until I decide not to be lazy and move my mouse and fingers to highlight and edit the word.


My writing problems

I didn’t always want to be an author. How that desire started was with art. I wanted to draw and make beautiful things. I drew horses, ships, cars, tracks, and people. I have three composition books of scratches and scribbles as a child.

I outgrew that desire when I realized that most of my friends who didn’t want to be artists were far better, and I don’t mean that in some humble way. My people looked more like walls. Where as my friends people looked like animated characters on Cartoon Network.

The slow decline in wanting to be an artist began in third grade and die in seventh or eighth grade. By that time, my walls were a little more like people, but my friends drawings were looking like actual people. It was around this time I met a friend who was really good at drawing. He was far superior to most of the people I knew, and he was making comic books. I was reading Captain Underpants at the time, itching to make my own comics.

So I did. I created a five or six comic books series on Super Saturn.  My family loves pulling them out every few years, reading them, and crying out of laughter

I gave up making comics. I knew I was bad. However, I realized that I really liked making stories. As I reflected on this when I was in ninth grade, I saw that really my desire as a kid to draw was to make the stories I saw on TV. I wanted to simply draw the stories. Which is why I naturally wanted to make comic books. I quit drawing because I knew I was horrible. It became evident. But I knew that I really didn’t want to quit because drawing represented to me story making.

This progression of thought happened as I helped most of my friends in high school with their comic books. I didn’t draw anything. But I helped come up with much of the characters, traits, story, plot and villains. I don’t know how I came to be in such a role of aiding others in creating their stories, but I was. I’d get calls after school. We’d sit in the libraries and brainstorm. It was fun. I enjoyed this the most.

At this point, I had written a few short stories because classes made me do this, but I wasn’t much of a reader. I didn’t like reading. It took too long. I was a really lazy kid. But in high school I was forced to read books outside of class. This is what helped me leap from a passion of creating stories to a knowledge that I could make a living doing that. I read books like the Red Wall series, which I have a difficult time reading now, but back then I was captivated. I read more and more. And soon, it became a mission in my life to be an author.

There was only one problem. I didn’t know where to start. So I began reading books on writing. I read all sorts of books by well known authors. I read blogs, articles, author interviews, and more fiction. The one thing I didn’t do was write.

With that as an introduction, here’s my point: My problem with writing isn’t that I get writers block (never had it), or that I run out of ideas (they explode out of my mind in every direction). My problem is that I often have to battle the sinful devil of laziness. When I say “sinful devil” I don’t mean that I am possessed by a demon or that some demonic force is making me lazy. I merely mean, as a metaphor, to represent my sinful behavior of laziness.

For twelve years I wanted to be an author. Out of those twelve years I wrote mostly journals of how I wanted to be a writer. I also read fan fiction and tried to write some to practice. Ultimately, however, I wrote very little. Especially when I compare this last year to the past twelve.

This last year I have written well over a few hundred thousand words. The previous twelve, perhaps I wrote fifty thousand. Demonstrating that I was a sluggard. I wanted to have done the work but not do the work. And I thank God that He has been faithful in changing me and making me less of a lazy man.

“Hi, my name is Truth Needham, and I am a lazyholic.” I say as I stand up. Everyone joins in together, “Hi Truth.” The lights are shining on me, blinding me. I block some of the rays by throwing my left arm up over my head.

If you have a goal, as an American, then you need to stop being lazy. Stop lying to yourself pretending you have excuses. Your problem is that you don’t want to write.

I say this as someone who knows. I say this as someone who has also read and listened to too many authors who say they encounter more wannabe writers who don’t write. It’s true. Guilty as charged.

That my problem with writing. I just don’t want to.

Well, actually, I didn’t want to. But I thank God that all that has changed. Sin is sin. It can be defeated because the work of Christ on the cross. And when Jesus showed me where my first areas of lazy disobedience were, and I corrected those, it has become easier and easier to destroy the laziness in other areas of my life.

Hi, my name is Truth Needham, and Christ has set me free from sin. He also has enslaved me to Himself. And I have never been more free than now.


Being made for trouble

One of my favorite authors, ND Wilson, spoke a while ago on being created for trouble. So anything said here out is probably my restatement of what he said, but I agreed with much of what he said.

Before Adam and Eve sinned, what happened? There was a snake in the garden. Before Adam and Eve had done anything wrong, they were given adversity. What do we make of this? How do we understand this?

I believe we can understand this by understanding that God gave himself a big bag of trouble when he created everything. Before anything God created was existing, God was enjoying himself, being himself, loving himself, and in harmony with himself. The love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit was and is infinite. Before there was anything, God had no trouble, nothing to fight against, nothing to fight for, and nothing that needed his sovereign working. That is not to say in order for God to be God he needed to create something. No. I don’t agree with that philosophical approach. God needed nothing to be Himself.

It is still true that there wasn’t anything that called for his constant attention, besides himself and his love for himself. Yet, God created a world, knowing full well he was giving himself a whole lot of trouble. In fact, in Ephesians 1:3 (as we read about in a previous post), we see that God planned to have a chosen people in Christ, even before he created. What this means is that God had planned to give himself the biggest kind of trouble. Trouble that the world has never thought up on its own, and will never see again when Christ returns.

God gave himself trouble. He planned for trouble. He, dare I say it, looked for trouble?

This fact has implications for our lives. Massive implications. Encouraging implications. Great and good implications. For example: have you ever felt like the world is against you and working against you? The truth is, it is. There is all sorts of adversity, problems, and trouble coming at you everyday, much which may be a result of sin in the world but not a direct result of your sin. This means we must deal with trouble. We fight trouble and work out the trouble. We subdue. We rule. We multiply.

And if that isn’t convincing enough, think about what Paul says when he tell us Christians that God works all things together for our good. Let’s state the obvious: Paul isn’t saying “God works all the good things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” He says, all things, because it’s obvious the good things are for our good, but it’s not so obvious that the bad things, the trouble, the death, the pestilence, the nakedness, the peril, the sword and the like are all also for our good.

Why is it for our good? How can be bad things for our good? Well, the same way the trouble God planned for is being worked for His ultimate end of glorifying Himself. The trouble is being used to edify, sharpen, shape, mold, and demonstrate our character. Some trouble is more troublesome and difficult than other trouble. My trouble in America is nothing compared to the trouble Christians in other countries go for. My trouble is slow internet. My trouble is clicking the share button. My trouble is making sure I have enough to pay bills. As well as the host of other “first world problems.”

Christians in other countries trouble is being beheaded, losing their livelihood, and their family being destroyed for believing and trusting in Christ.

What should this reality mean for me? This reality means that I should be just as bold, if not even more than those Christians in those countries where they will die for their faith. It means that I ought to work more diligently, more hard, and subdue even more because I have been given much more ground to freely work with. I should make sure this side of the planet submits to the Lordship of Christ, and subdue and rule these spheres, praying that my diligence and work that I do for the Lord here will truly have eternal impact and maybe one day affect the lives of those who are persecuted.

It’s easy for us to get discouraged because we are given tons of trouble, problems, sins to deal with, relationships that are difficult, and things that are discouraging. However, we live in America. There is plenty of trouble. And that means much to work and subdue. There are Christians suffering around the world today. That means acting in such a way to subdue our plots, and then holding ropes for others to subdue those areas.

We are given lots of trouble. That’s not a cause for despair. We shouldn’t think that because the world is getting worse, we need to do less and pray more for Christs return. No. Let’s pray for Christ’s return, but also that he tarry so more come to know Him. We should think that because the world is getting worse that there is more for us to do to be more like Christ, more trouble to work out, more adversity to win against.

We are Jack the giant killer. The problems in this world are huge. They’re enormous. And we are weak little peons that only have the weapon of the Gospel. The world laughs at our weapons and yet they also fall because of our weapon.

 


Ephesians 1:4

Ephesians 1:3-4

[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, [4] even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (ESV)

As we saw last post on Ephesians 1:3, the Father has blessed us in Christ with every single spiritual blessing that the heavenly places has to offer. Now, in verses 4-14, Paul expands upon what those blessings are.

The first blessing we come to is in verse 4. It reads, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” Some translations render it “just as,” and a other render it “according as.” What’s being communicated, it seems, is this is both the first of those blessings and the ground of those blessings. God choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world is one of those blessings as well as the beginning of those blessings.

Now this is a huge one. It is hotly debated in our day by different denominations and traditions. But the text of scripture is clear: God chose “us” (those saints who are in Christ) in Christ before the foundation of the world. Before God created the world. Before God laid the foundation of the world. Before history began. Before time came into existence. Before we did anything good or bad: God chose us in Christ.

There can be little room for doubt. If you think you chose God, well think again. God chose you first before you even existed. He had a plan to bestow his love upon you. He decided that you would be his child, in Christ, before you were even a child. Do you see the tightly packed theology in there? That means the Father picked a people he would save by the death of his son Jesus Christ, and they would be placed in Christ, and he would love them and keep them and make them his own. God is the great actor. God is the great doer. God is the amazing sovereign one who acts perfectly according to his will and does not fail at any of his purposes.

If you are a Christian, then know he has chosen you. You didn’t choose him. There is nothing in this text about God choosing you because he saw that you’d choose him. That goes exactly against this text because it says, “before the foundation of the world.” If the foundation has to be laid before the world exists, and if God had a plan, and he was going to act in time, and send Christ, and choose a people; If the world is contingent upon the power and work of God, and God is a personal God who acts in his creation, then we cannot pretend God winds up some clock and lets it loose. God isn’t winding up a clock when he acts in his creation. The clock maker might wind up a clock and let it go, but God isn’t winding up a clock that will move on its own. History and time both move forward because of God’s actions. He changes history in moments. He changes the world. The Bible is clear that God acts in time.

All that to say, God’s choosing us is a positive action. It’s not a passive action. He truly chooses, in His wisdom, who he is going to save. He doesn’t passively search out in some hypothetical universe who will choose him and then choose them. That goes so contrary to this text that it’s ridiculous. Why? Because God is blessing his people with every spiritual blessing. Because his people being chosen before the world exists is one of those blessings. Because the rest of scripture demonstrates that nothing happens outside the control of God.

So, we have been chosen. And we were chosen not because of ourselves but because of the work of Christ on the cross and us being placed in Christ before the foundation of the world. That is what “chose us in him” means. Meaning that God already had planned for Christ to die before the fall. History was going to happen in such a way as to bring about the death of Christ. This was God’s plan A. And he was doing it so he could place the people he chose in Christ. All of this being done so “that we should be holy and blameless before him.” This was part of the reason why we were chosen. So that we should become holy and blameless. This is God’s goal in saving us. His glory of receiving a perfect people. The bride of Christ being perfect.

It’s an amazing thing to be in Christ, for we are becoming perfect by his work, we were chosen by him before we existed, and we are his. What amazing love.

This causes no room for boasting. Who can boast when God acts? Who can boast in believing when God chose you to be in Christ before the foundation of the world?

You must ask yourselves: Does God choose before we believe? Or do we believe and then God chooses?

This text is pretty clear. God chose before we believed.


On how not to be a Pastor

1 Samuel 8:1-3

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. (ESV)

It seems that Samuel would follow Eli’s lead. Eli, back in chapter 2-3, is prophesied against because of his sons who did not know the Lord nor follow Eli’s example. And God blames Eli for this in chapter three. He blames Eli for not restraining their sin.

In many ways we ought to learn from this example. All of us. But more so we must see how pastors should not be. 1 Timothy 3 makes it clear an elders household ought to be in order, the children being submissive. Both Eli and Samuel are examples of not managing your household well, and both are examples of men who, though greatly used by God, have failed their families and ultimately fail their people. Why is this? Because both Eli and Samuel’s children end up doing things that cause many others trouble, and instead of caring for their children and their people, they do nothing, and this breeds all sorts of problems.

In fact, in 1 Samuel 8, you’ll read that the people cite to Samuel that because his children do not follow his ways they desire to have a king. As though that’s going to solve the problem. But truly, though these men were godly men, their lack of being men in restraining their children, disciplining them, and rooting out the evil from among their people, allowed for sin to rise up not only in their families but also within their nation.

Pastors are held to a higher standard. They must be above reproach. However, that doesn’t mean only pastors ought to be that way. No, as children of God we all must carry out God’s will. Thus, 1 Timothy 3 demonstrates God’s will for all families. 1 Samuel is a good case scenario for how ministers and lay persons alike ought to restrain their children. God’s word is profitable for all, not just ministers. And we need more pastors and lay persons who will obey God.

Ministry shouldn’t be the main focus of a pastor, it should be godliness in himself, in his home, and in his congregation. I give pastors no excuse. If their children are disobedient, then truly that pastor has also been disobedient somewhere down the line.


Prayer Without Action is Disobedience

“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience.” A. W. Tozer

When Jesus taught the disciples how to pray he included a prayer of asking for forgiveness of our sins. We ask forgiveness for our sins because we need forgiveness of our sins. We also ask forgiveness for our sins because we are suppose to also repent from those sins and do them no more. It would be ridiculous to think that we can ask for forgiveness but not do anything else. In fact, Jesus even says that if we ask for forgiveness that we must also be ready to extend forgiveness to others who ask for it.

All this makes it pretty clear. When we pray, we also must obey. We cannot simply believe that prayer is enough. In many instances, our prayers will do nothing because we are not willing to do something for those things we pray for. Paul, in Ephesians 1, says how he prays for the saints that they would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Did you realize that as he describes what he prays for he is also working towards that? Paul is laboring in Ephesians 1-3 to teach the saints and give them more knowledge of Christ. His prayer is that as he does so that God will give them more wisdom and revelation within that knowledge. Paul is laboring for what he is praying for.

If we are going to pray for our financial situations, we must also be willing to obey God in our finances. If we are going to pray for our neighbor down the street, we must also be willing to love our neighbor down the street.

I don’t want to overstate it, but our prayers must be in accordance to God’s will, and so should our lives. Not everything we pray for may be something we can do something about, at least directly. But we must believe that we simply can excuse ourselves of actually being Christians by just praying for things. As Christians we pray, because God commands it. We pray, knowing God actually uses prayers. But we also work towards those things that we pray for if it is so possible.


On The Trucking Industry

Yea, my blog is becoming a little bit sporadic. Talking about a range of topics that I don’t usually talk about. However, for those interested, I figured I write some things up.

My parents have been in the trucking industry for about three years now. My stepdad is a truck driver and my mom is the owner. They make up the owner/operator crew. And currently they have ventured out into starting another business truck related: brokering.

A truck broker is one who hunts for trucks to move the loads of the shippers. Truck brokers establish connections between loads and those wanting to be loaded. Their compensations is a percentage of the loads cost. Much like a real estate agent except for loads and trucks.

I never knew how essential trucks are to the American economy until I started aiding my parents in their brokering endeavor. It’s not exaggerations to say that more than likely 90% of the things you see around you were at some point being carried by a truck.

Also, the trucking industry is expected to grow, while it is also expected to grow at a slower rate than demands will grow. As far as I can tell, now is a great time to get into this industry. However, like anything else, we need to count the cost of becoming involved in such an industry. We also need to figure out what type of job we best serve in this industry.

Truck driving has great potential to make a pretty decent living. It also has the potential to run your funds dry.

But there is no denying, as I read and study this more, that the truck industry is vital to American economics. It’s an industry that will never go away because things will always need to be moved from point A to point B.

God bless all those truckers who have made much of our way of life possible.