Palm Sunday Thought


God the Father condemned Jesus for my sins.  

Jesus died to have me.  

Despite the fact that I was a sexual deviant, disobedient to my loving parents, nasty to friends and acquaintances, and a drunken revolver, the God who is Father and Son and Spirit authored a plan to adopt me.  The Gospel, like slow spun gold, was worked out to rescue people like me.   
I am undeserving.  But I am redeemed.  I will not be condemned on the last day.  I am worse than you can know, but every cent of my debt has been paid.  And now joy and hope should be like breathing for me, just as natural and just as constant.  

I have been taken in.  I have been ransomed.  I was an orphan and I now have a Father.   

The Cross was wrath for Jesus and rescue for me.  

I am unimaginably loved. 

And grateful for the church reminding me of it.

But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Romans 10:8-13

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Remembering Where We’re Going


I’m living in the 18th house I’ve lived in.  I’m 32 years old and I’ve never lived at any one place for more than 3 years.  I was thinking about that as I enjoyed this feeling I’ve been having all day.  It’s a feeling of longing for home.  For the place I belong.  The place I fit.  

I’m in the book of Deuteronomy right now, and I’m reading Moses recounting to the Israelites their long journey to this land God had set aside for them.  He knew their sin would sever them from it, but that’s not what I’m thinking about right now.  The picture I have in my head is of Moses trekking this long, providentially hard road to the Promised Home.  Despite missteps and faithlessness and sin and fears and scoffers and enemies and hunger, Moses clung to the Promise and to the One who made it.  And day after day, month after month, year after year after year he wound his way to the spot where he’d been called, right there on the mountain where God would bury him.  

And of course someday raise him.   

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.  Raising kids isn’t easy, and neither is being a spouse or an employee, and most of all being a Christian is hard.  I forget, a couple of days a week, probably, to remember what I’m actually walking for.  I forget to hope for the day when I can meet Him face to face.  I forget what it was like to long for the return of Christ so deeply you can’t put words to it.  To know that your truest home isn’t in some nostalgic past but in the future.  To have a sweet sorrow in your heart that He hasn’t come yet but will.  I drive to work and drive home and discipline kids and pay bills and do good things as though they’re only things, and I drift from that hope.  The hope that feels magic when you let it out.  

Home.  There is a place, Christian, where we fit.  There is a family we were made to join.  There is a seat at a great banquet table with my name on it, and there will be brothers and sisters and friends all around.  And a God I was made to enjoy.  

Home, Christian. 

This road leads somewhere.  Eyes up.  We’re not just wandering through the desert this time.  

60 Seconds On the Best Answer for Racial Hate


A political solution cannot thoroughly revolve a moral problem.  Moral problems involve what a man loves, what he hates, why his heart wants one thing over another and why it leads him to one action instead of another.  Racial hatred involves selfishness, contempt, anger, fear.  These things can’t be changed in a man by legislation, though they can certainly be restrained or punished by it.  We should have political solutions, and we should have laws.  But we shouldn’t expect them to be the answer.  They can’t rewrite a man’s heart.  One of the great lessons of Holy Scripture is that law, though good, cannot change a man.  

Racial hatred is a sin against God and a sin against neighbor.  It is enough to send a man to eternal Hell.  Just as important, it is something that can be forgiven and addressed in a man by the Father, Son, and Spirit.  Racial hatred is sin, and in order to be successfully reckoned with it must be reckoned with as sin.  God must be involved if a hateful man is to be fully and finally reclaimed.  There is no one else who can offer him final forgiveness, and there is no one else who can fundamentally change him.  The current climate sees legislation as the most complete answer, which implies that government is God.  But government is not God.  It is good (or at least is called to be), but it is not God.  Government cannot change what a man loves or hates, through laws or through any other means.  If God’s Law could not change a man’s dead heart, how can man’s?  

A political solution to racial animosity will not be the last one.  We who know Jesus have something much more fundamentally transformative to offer the racially hateful:  A God who can pardon their evil and then make them something new. 

We have a better and truer Gospel.  

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:11-12

60 Seconds for Sunday

The church.  

We have the most important message in the world.  It is that God can take bad, broken people and remake them.  And that He likes doing this.  It is His (in two senses of the word) passion.  It is what He died to do, and what He rose to enjoy.  

The message we have to proclaim, to sing, to eat and drink and live out is that God has come to do an amazing thing, and that that thing is very nearly done.  There is only one note left to sing, and it is one that will never be quieted.  God came to reclaim sinners for Himself, and in so doing to nail every last one of their sins to His own bloody Cross.  Now we await His second great act, His returning to put the finishing touches on death’s obituary.  He has come, He is coming again, and He is taking on new friends.  

The church.  

We have the most important message in the world:  God is good.  And because He is good, He has chosen to forgive many who have wronged Him.  Any who trust in Jesus Christ, who lay themselves bare to Him as Lord of all, will be remade and resurrected.  In every sense of the phrase, they will enter eternity new creations.  

The church.  

We are the people of His message.  We have been formed from it and for it.  We are to speak it to all who will listen, and many who will not.  Our God is good, and He is patient, and He is seeking worshipers.  He has called us to help.    

The church.  

We are the Church of God, the Bride of Jesus Christ.  And we have an astonishing message:  Come with us, for our God can bring you home.  

More Than Good Works


The world does not need more mere good works.  

Being a nice man can’t get me eternal life.  Having solid character won’t make me right with my Creator.  It won’t unstain what I’ve stained.  Being a good guy won’t fix me.  

We are in a much deeper hole than common wisdom suggests.  And a much different kind of hole.  Specifically, this hole is a grave.  

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Ephesians 2:1-3

We are born spiritually dead, all of us.  Lovely and human and valuable, but also wicked and spiritually dead.  And so the world needs much more than deeds of kindness.  The Middle Ages had deeds of kindness.  But what they thirsted for was a power that their churches had long obscured, and the Reformation was the rain that fell on that parched ground.  

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’

Romans 1:16-17

The world needs salvation.  It needs regeneration.  It needs people who have been taken as one thing and remade into another.  And since mere good works won’t do, a mere teacher won’t do.  It needs someone who can undo what we have done and who can remake us from the feet up.  

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:9-14

Only God can remake a man.  Only God can kill the worst in him and bring him back something better, and not only better but something altogether different.  Only God can pay a man’s eternal debt, a debt incurred from breaking the best of laws, willfully and daily.  

The world doesn’t need more mere good works.  The world needs the power of God.  It needs a Messiah, a Χριστός.  It needs someone who will do what we cannot, and who can make us what we should be.

The world needs something it cannot offer itself:  A death and a resurrection.  A divine rescue.  It’s a great need.  Impossible, apart from a miracle.  

But thankfully the only thing that can outpace that need is His grace.  

As deep as our grave is, His grace is deeper still.  

We have the Gospel we need.  

But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Romans 10:8-13

A Tick On the Clock

If none of the things you want most out of life could be resolved by Jesus coming back, your heart is not calibrated correctly.  

Your heart was designed to commune with God.  It’s in God that you can have the peace and hope and joy that you thirst for.  And when the Son of God returns to make all things right, to judge the still-living and the dead, and to remake all things for His people, those who love Him will get to know Him and be with Him fully, in bodies that will not perish or wear out.  Nothing can be more satisfying than knowing Jesus Christ face to face and forever.  Nothing.  Not retirement.  Not romance.  Not a career.  The greatest prize a human being can have is still to come.  

Much of 21st century American life seems designed to make you forget that there is an eternity, a neverending series of tomorrows that you will either enjoy or endure.  Netflix and soccer practices and Chipotle and heated car seats and Friday nights and Facebook and ESPN all seem to insulate us against the reality that this American life of creature comforts is not the last chapter of anyone’s life.  It is not the way things will always be.  Every human being will either meet Jesus to enjoy Him forever or meet Jesus as judge to face what they deserve for their sins.  The great finish line you should be keeping in your mind is not the date you can withdraw from your 401k but the day you are raised to find Jesus looking back at you.

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’

Revelation 20:11-21:4

What do you want most out of life?  Creature comforts?  Entertainment?  Peace and quiet?  Financial security?  Sex?  Respect?

Or do you want people to know God?  To see Him glorified?  To enjoy Him?  To see pain and death banished?

We weren’t born into a day and place that make it easy to remember we’ll each die, much less that the world will be destroyed and remade some day.  Ours is a country and culture filled with distractions and amusements.  But despite how satisfying we may find Netflix comedy specials and shopping on Amazon, there is something greater to live for.  The King is coming to fix what is broken and to fill every soul who is His to the brim with joy and peace.  Every moment is a tick on the clock towards the Day when Jesus splits the skies and puts an end to evil and a start to a peace on which the lights will never go out.

Which is why the Bible ends this way.

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Revelation 22:20-21

Amen indeed.

30 Seconds On Christmas


Christmas is hope for the worst of us.  

It is God’s electing to be born in a forgotten place in the shadow of His own death rather than to let us all perish in our sins.  It is proof He is not as apathetic or vindictive or arbitrary as we are.  It is evidence that His ways are very much not our ways.  

Christmas is the message that we are not alone.  That despite what we have done, God is available.  He is seeking.  He is merciful.  

Christmas is a part of the only hope for thieves and adulterers and murderers and gossipers and traitors and liars, of which we were each born an example.  It is a part of the Gospel that God came to be what we could not be, do what we could not do, and give us what we could not earn.  

Christmas is a time to remember that God is with us.  

He is with us.  

And that is a hopeless man’s hope.  

Merry Christmas.  

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ which means, God with us. 

Matthew 1:18-23