60 Seconds On Humans


The Bible forces you to acknowledge the potential, complexity, sinfulness, and beauty of humans.  It is the only window that lets you glimpse the whole man.  

It won’t let you cast him as a sappy, thin do-gooder.  Because right there in your face is the ugliness of Abraham handing off his beloved Sarah to save his own skin and David murdering Uriah to have his wife.  

But neither will it let you be a mere cynical critic of man.  There’s too much courage and hunger for truth and friendship and motherly affection there in it.  

And it will never let you see man as insignificant.  Talk about how small he is in the stars or about how late he showed up on the scene.  The Bible places him at the center of creation, as the jewel in the setting.  It states plainly that he is the image of the Author, and he is a startlingly beautiful portrait.

The Bible gives a vast, honest, vivid picture of man.  

And of where he can be restored.  

Man has fallen, but he will not be lost.  And when creation is remade, as wonderful as the new trees and sky and soil will be, man will be what he once was, in a garden on the other side of a rebellion from here.  

He will be what he once was.  

And enjoy what he once enjoyed.  

Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them,  ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so.  God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:26-31

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26 Theses


This month, much of the Gospel-believing world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s putting up 95 theses, or statements, against the Roman Catholic application of “indulgences.”  The 95 theses of October 31, 1517 were one in a fairly long line of objections to unbiblical teachings and emphases by Roman popes, cardinals, bishops, theologians, and priests. They were short sentences Luther believed to be true and was willing to stand for and debate.  

I am no Martin Luther.  I never will be.  I’m an ordinary Christian dude who serves in the church and is trying to love his wife and raise his kids and see some people saved and kill his own sins, day by day.  No one will remember me a hundred years after I’m dead (if Jesus doesn’t return first), and no one will commemorate this little blog post 500 years from now (if Jesus doesn’t come back first).  But in memory of my Christian brother, here are some statements (I only had 26) on contemporary Christianity and the Christian life that I stand for, and would be willing to debate.  

  1. Only God can make you love God. 
  2. Jesus Christ loves to save sinners.
  3. It is good that Jesus Christ loves to save sinners, because every human being walking the earth right now was born a spiritually dead sinner.  
  4. Men who are still in their sins chafe under and rebel against the kingship of God.  
  5. God’s Kingdom is one that fights to save those who want to kill it.  
  6. Men and women are not the same.
  7. It is a part of God’s good design that men and women are not the same.  
  8. A culture that denies that men and women are different will not do well at teaching men how to be good men or women how to be good women. 
  9. Marriage is God’s creation, and He designed it as the union of a man to his wife for life.  
  10. Young, married Christians should be delighted at the prospect of having large families at the expense of their creature comforts, knowing how much their God values children.  
  11. There is no way to simultaneously affirm sin and be obedient to God.  
  12. Homosexual activity is sin.  
  13. There will be many men and women in resurrected bodies enjoying Jesus for eternity who once lived in homosexual sin, but who were then washed through the grace of God.  
  14. There will be many men and women enjoying Jesus for eternity who were washed from all sorts of sins.  
  15. The primary thing standing between a man and the Kingdom of God is not bad information but a bad heart.  
  16. God gives new hearts to those He saves. 
  17. If a man wants to be around a bunch of nice people who are just like him, he does not want the Christian life.  
  18. If a man is impatient, he will not be a good evangelist, and all Christians are called to be evangelists.  
  19. Those who do not care about the lost throughout the world do not know Jesus very well, if at all. 
  20. If your gospel never prompts you to take risks, it isn’t Jesus’ Gospel.  
  21. If you are more passionate about a present political kingdom than the global growth of faith in Jesus Christ, your primary allegiance is to the wrong kingdom.  
  22. God saves by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.  
  23. If I say one thing and the Bible says another, I am wrong.  
  24. The Bible is good and is wholly true.  
  25. It is sin that brought death into the world, and one day Jesus will cast death into a lake of fire.  
  26. Jesus is coming back, and when He does He will make all things right and raise those who love Him and have believed in Him to eternal life.  

Happy early Reformation Day, all.  

Stay faithful in the Lord, and keep reforming.  

A Catechism for Our Day


The Word of God is always relevant.  And our hearts will be healthier when they are brought under it.

A Christian who brings Scripture and the God of Scripture to bear on his thoughts, emotions, choices, philosophy, theology, self-talk, vocation, family dynamic, behaviors, hobbies, and habits will be a Christian whose spiritual muscles and bones and organs are working properly.  This is one of the reasons Christians have historically written catechisms.  We need to know the Word and we also need to know how to apply it.

So with that in mind, let’s bring the Word to answer some questions for our day.

Q:  How should I approach and think about racial strife and protests?

A:  “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

Q:  What if I think our President is a terrible one?

A:  “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Q:  How do I live out my Christian faith at my job?

A:  “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).

Q:  What does it mean to be a man or to be a woman?

A:  “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:8-12).

Q:  What is marriage?

A:  “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:18-25).

Q:  What is the point of life?”

A:  “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

Sentences 4


I’ve written a few installments of this (1, 2, and 3) and I enjoy it.  These are some one-sentence theological or philosophical propositions that I contend are true, delivered along with a head nod to Mr. Peter Abelard, and his Medieval book, Sentences.


Everyone who wants to be God will end up hating God (see:  Pharaoh in Exodus, Herod the Great, Satan). 
Self-esteem can never fix what what self-worship caused.  

A good skill to teach your kids that it seems to me is going to be increasingly at a premium is the willingness to look someone in the eye and tell them exactly what they feel and why.  

The art of speaking clearly is only important if you want to teach, persuade, be understood, raise children, be a good employee, or have healthy human relationships.  
Some unbelieving men most need to know Christianity is satisfying, others most need to know it is true, still others that it can change them, but there aren’t many moments when a man is thirsting for each reality equally; Evangelist, know your man.   

If you have never been admonished or rebuked, you don’t have a true friend. 

One of the most important distinctions in ethics that our generation seems unwilling to make is the distinction between what I like and what is right, or, if you prefer, what I want to be morally positive and what is indeed morally positive.

Character:  What a man is and what he loves.  

Lasting, world-changing Christianity, in an individual or a family or a church or a nation, requires obedience to the Scriptures.   

Grace and peace!

Some Little Kid Definitions Of Big Concepts


I think, generally, if you actually understand something you’ll be able to to explain it to a young child.  And the flip side of that coin is that trying to explain something to a little kid can help you understand it better.  

Some Christian parents, myself included, struggle at times to answer their 5-year-old’s question about what a theologically and philosophically big word means.  

“Daddy, what’s love?”

“But Mommy, what is faith?”

So, after watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my kids and explaining what “bravery” was to my 3-year-old son, I had the idea to write this post. 

These are some little kid definitions that, while not the most precise exposition you could give of each idea, I think certainly get across what each thing really is.  These have been (or will be) my definitions for my little guys.  

Bravery:  When you love something good and fight for it.  

Evil:  Not like God. 

Faith: Believing someone can do what he says he can do.  

Family:  People connected by a love promise.  

Good:  Like God.   

Heaven:  Where God lives. 

Hell:  A place where God punishes, forever, people who won’t say sorry.  

Home:  Where you’ve been made to belong.  

Hope:  When you really want something to happen.  

Love:  When something is so special to you you’ll do hard things for it.  

Marriage:  A love promise a man and a woman make to each other and to God.

Peace:  When things are working the way God designed them to work.  

Salvation:  How people get to go to Heaven when they believe in Jesus.  

Wisdom:   Knowing what’s good and knowing how to do it.  

Happy Wednesday!

Some Personal Proverbs


The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:  To know wisdom and instruction,to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth — Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. 

Proverbs 1:1-6

I’ve been thinking about Proverbs lately.  About God’s book of general statements of wisdom.  I’m grateful for the book of Proverbs, because it’s helped me to think through some very practical matters.  What’s the right way to parent?  What’s the right way to work?  What’s the right way to speak? 

I’m not old, and there are many ways in which I’m still foolish (I still often prize people’s opinion of me more than God’s, for instance).  But I think the following observations I’m making are faithful to the witness of God’s Word.  They’re in no way inspired, in that they are not breathed out by God, as the real book of Proverbs is.  

But I offer them for what they’re worth.  
A few personal proverbs, if I may:

  • Young, married men and women: Have children. I’ve never met a Godly older man or woman who wishes they’d had less children, but I’ve known more than a few who wish they’d had more.  
  • If I have a really long list of people that I can’t stand, it’s worth asking whether the issue might be me.  
  • There is nothing I’ve personally encountered that better illustrates the folly of the human heart than the movement to support the right to abortion.  “It’s not a life.  No, we don’t want to look at ultrasounds, I said it’s not a life!  And even if it is a life, a woman should have the right to end it.  No, she shouldn’t have the right to end other lives, just this one.  I’m not crazy, man, come on.  She should just have a right to end this life.  I mean if it’s a life.  And we celebrate that in this country.  Even though we want these things to be safe and legal and rare.  We celebrate it!  But no, seriously, I don’t want to look at an ultrasound!”
  • Forgiveness will be as hard as your heart is. 
  • The fundamental problem with ISIS is theological, not economic or social.  At root, they have a wrong understanding of the character and values of God.  Everything else flows from those headwaters.  
  • Where the world is a system of people moving further and further apart because of annoyances and unforgiven wrongs and technological isolation, the church should model people moving ever and ever closer in intimacy because of a shared love as big as the Gospel.  
  • Bitterness requires entitlement as it’s fuel.  You have to believe you were owed something that you didn’t get.  Remove the fuel and the spark won’t catch.  Replace the lie that you were owed something good you didn’t get with the truth that the only thing we were each owed is Hell, and bitterness won’t have any gas to keep blazing on.  
  • If you want to know how much a Christian man believes the Gospel, one way to find out is to watch how he treats his children.   
  • Remember, “father” is both a noun and a verb.  And appropriately so.   

Happy Wednesday, all!

    Sentences (Again)

      
    A month or so ago I wrote a post simply made up of theological sentences that I held to and believed.  The idea was based (ridiculously loosely) on Peter Abelard’s classic Medieval theological textbook Sentences.  It was I think, the most read post I’ve ever had, so I figured I’d re-gift it.  

    Here are a few more theological/Spiritual/ecclesiastical sentences from the heart (via the IPhone) of yours truly:  

    • There is an almost universal temptation to assume the best possible motive for what you yourself do and to assume the worst motive for what other people do; resist that temptation. 
    • It is generally best not to trust the man who claims to know God but does not know his Bible.  
    • One of the things the Bible’s existence undergirds for me is this:  My belief that it is appropriate for entities, whether they be churches, marriages, or governments, to be built on written documents; if it’s worth having, it’s worth writing out.
    • If you are a Christian, then I can virtually guarantee that you have underestimated God’s love for you; I can do that because the love of God for His sheep in the crucified Jesus surpasses all the knowledge you could ever collect and store in your brain.  
    • Generally speaking, I don’t find it to be good to invest Christian leadership in someone who hasn’t shown (over a pretty good period of time) that he is ready to do the slow, steady work of personal holiness.
    • I know it’s a word whose definition isn’t as clear as I’d like (depending on the circle you’re talking in), but I am still more than ready to wear the label “evangelical.”
    • Ecclesiastes is a difficult book to interpret and exposit well. 
    • Evangelism can be both a dutiful hard work and an overflow of the heart; after all, the best kind of tired is joyful tired, where you’re worn out from doing something hard that you really love doing.  

    Happy weekend, all!