Monday, April 28, 2014

Repentance: A Condemning Command from an Angry God or a Joyful Invitation from a Rejoicing Savior?

I have been listening to messages from a recent conference called Together for the Gospel.  This years conference was centered entirely around evangelism.  One speaker spoke on heaven's rejoicing at the repentance of the lost.  It is this message that is the inspiration for this post.  Sometimes as believers, all of which are called to evangelize, we get burdened with results.  We do not feel we have been successful unless we have led everyone to the Lord whom we have shared the gospel with.  The trouble is two fold.  One, we forget that it is God who brings results.  It is our job to sow seed and water that seed.  God gives the growth(1 Corinthians 3:5-7).  Two, is we forget that Jesus said, heaven rejoices over one sinner whom repents(Luke 15:7).  Just one.  While we share the gospel often and always call sinners to repentance, we need not manufacture numbers or force decisions when evangelizing.  God honors the faithful spread of His gospel, not manipulated conversions.  I want to speak to a misunderstanding of repentance by the unrepentant.  I will write a second post regarding the response of sinners when they realize the worth of the gospel and the response of believers to the sinners repentance.

A Misunderstanding
It is to the second point above that I wold like to speak here.  Both to believers and unbelievers. Repentance is generally defined, not only as turning away from sin, but turning to God.  Unfortunately, in our day, most see a call to repentance as hateful judgement.  Whether it is one fellow believer calling another believer to account for obvious unrepentant sin, or a believer calling an unbeliever to turn from their sin and put their trust in Christ for the first time, the call to repentance is not generally well received.  I believe that this is because we have a misunderstanding of the intent of the call.

Why are we called to repentance?  Is it the condemning command of an angry God that is threatening us or is it the joyful plea of a rejoicing Shepherd who died for us?  I believe this perception makes all the difference in our response.

The Answer is Both
Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, is angry.  The word of God tells us that He is Holy God that cannot tolerate sin.  In fact, Psalm 5:4-6 tells us that God hates ALL evildoers and abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.  Perhaps you may be thinking that you are a good person, that this could not possibly describe you.  Genesis 6:5  and Genesis 8:21 tells us that the intentions of man's heart is only evil continually and that it is so from our youth.  Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags.  Paul reiterates this and many other parts of the bible regarding the worthlessness of man's righteousness in Romans 3:9-20.  So you see God is justified in His anger because we have rebelled against Him and deserve His just, wrathful, judgement(Romans 1:18-24).

Many like to say, "don't judge me" or "only God can judge me".  I see that second statement on t-shirts and  tattoos all the time.  It scares me.  While the final verdict and judgement will not come until you stand before God, the truth is that God has already judged sin and condemned all sinners.  That is why we need a Savior(John 3:16-17).  We must understand our sinfulness in relationship to a holy God if we are to appreciate the grace by which He saves us.

He is a loving God, righteous in all his ways.  Thus, in order to save us from our sins and still satisfy the righteous judgement that is due our sins, He sent a Savior.  He sent a Good Shepherd.  His Son.  This Son who would not only die for our sins, but would pursue those whom belong to God.  Those who were bought by the precious blood of Jesus, God's Son, on the cross.  This Good Shepherd pursues each lost sheep individually and heaven rejoices every time one is reclaimed for God's glory.

Jesus's Answer To This Misunderstanding of Repentance
Jesus explains it in three parables.
1.) In Luke 15:1-7 we are told of the value of one lost sheep.  Jesus explains that such value is placed on that one lost sheep, that the shepherd will leave the other sheep to go reclaim the one.  Not only that but afterward, he gathers all his friends and calls them to rejoice with him over that lost sheep.  In the same way, Jesus pursues every lost sheep that is supposed to be a part of His flock and upon it's return, all of heaven rejoices.  We are called to rejoice as well.

2.) In Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells the parable of a woman who has lost one of ten coins in her possession.  She values this one coin so much that she searches the whole house for it.  When she finds it, she is so elated that she entreats her friends to rejoice with her in it's return.  Again, heaven rejoices with the Savior.

In both cases, you will notice that the owners of the sheep and the coin decide that it is not enough to let the one go and continue to enjoy the others.  No, they place such value on each, that they do not stop searching until the lost one is found.  So it is with Jesus as He pursues each of us that are lost, yet were determined to belong to Him before time began(Ephesians 1:4).

The Prodigal Returns
3.) The final parable to conclude Jesus' teaching on the value placed on sinners who repent is found in Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal son.  This parable is generally taught with great depth in a lengthy sermon because it is so rich.  At the risk of oversimplifying this parable I will sum it up just so.  It is about the Father, the sinner, and the pharisee.  The part I would like to emphasize at the moment is the Father/sinner relationship.  Rather than the emphasis being placed on the seeking out of the son, it is placed on the celebration that comes as he returns.

As you will have read, upon recognition of his dire state, the son/sinner realizes that the Father's servants are doing better than he is.  Because he knows that he no longer has the right to claim sonship, he determines that he will return as a servant and throw himself on the mercy of his master.

  • Isn't this just how we view the call to repentance?  We rejected the Father to begin with because we did not understand the depth of relationship that He wanted to have with us.  Consequently, we misunderstand the call to repentance because we see God only through the master/servant relationship.

 However, when the son returns home, the Father runs out to meet him.  In fact, the son does not have the chance to unveil his plan of servitude because the Father wraps him in His arms and reclaims him as son before he gets the chance.  The Father plans the party of all parties to celebrate His son's return.

  • What would happen if we viewed repentance with this understanding?  Whether you are a believer who has strayed or an unbeliever (i.e. prodigal son/lost sheep) who has been found, you need to understand that the Father will rejoice in your repentance.  He will celebrate your new life.  He will treat you not as servant but as sons and daughters.  As it says in verses 24 and 32, as an unbeliever, you were dead and now you are alive, you were lost and now you are found, if you place your trust in Jesus.
Leave the old life behind.  You will notice that when the son left his destitute life, he did not try to take any of the ways of that life with him.  He did not grab a prostitute and say maybe Dad will let me keep one of these while I serve him.  The son abandoned his old life.  He turned away from it and headed home.  This is an important part of repentance.  Scripture says that when we are in Christ, we are a new creation.  The old has past away and all things are made new(2 Corinthians 5:17).

Life in Christ
I beg you to consider this today.  Contemplate what is revealed in this teaching.  Gain a new understanding and attitude toward repentance.  It is the call from a loving Heavenly Father and a faithful Good Shepherd whom seek you out and want to celebrate your return.  A Savior that sacrificed His own life for yours. Come to an understanding that without repentance and faith in Christ, we are dead in our trespasses and sins(Ephesians 2:5).  We are living this mortal life for ourselves, to die spiritually for eternity.  

However, through faith and repentance, by the power of the Holy spirit, we are not only dying in this body of flesh, but we are dying to ourselves daily and living for Christ, obeying His commands.  In this way, we are dying now, to live for eternity.

A Pleading Ambassador
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2 represents my purpose.  I cannot say it any better than the Apostle Paul.  It states, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.  working together with him, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, 'In favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you'.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation"

I will end with this.  Faith and repentance go hand in hand.  You cannot have one without the other.  If you have faith in Jesus, you will strive for repentance and obey the teachings of God's word.  If you do not care to repent, if you have no interest in applying the word of God to your life, then your faith is dead and you will not inherit the Kingdom of God.  You will spend and eternity apart from God, suffering and eternity of conscious, fiery, torment.  Longing for relief that will never come.

As an ambassador, on behalf of God the Father and Christ the Son, I plead with you this day.  Cry out to God to save you.  Have faith!


In Jesus name,


Saturday, April 19, 2014

What DID Easter Mean To You?

DID?  What does that mean?
So, why phrase it like that.  Shouldn't Easter always mean something to us?  Why put it in the past tense. There are already so many articles and posts relating to the pre-Easter hype, I figured I would post something that I know most people will not read until at least Easter evening or later because it will not post to emails nor will I put it on FB until then.

The Question
The thought I want to present is this.  Does the meaning of Easter, and the sentimentality that even the most well-meaning of Christians attaches to it, carry over to the rest of our lives?  Does the passion with which we infuse Easter, inform the way we represent the gospel the rest of the year?

The Problem
We all know that Christmas and Easter are the only days that some ever come to a church service.  If for no other reason than that, I am not against churches putting on big productions or just making a big deal out of the Easter service in general.  I certainly think we should recognize that opportunity and make the most of it.

What concerns me is that many, many "Christians" get excited about Easter, but the rest of the year you would barely know they knew Christ by their behavior or the words coming out of  their mouths.  Or, maybe there is nothing inherently wrong in their words or behaviors but, their is also nothing obviously right.  There is nothing overtly Christian about their daily faith walk.  This is true of all of us from time to time.  It is a truth we must WAR against.

What's The Big Deal?
Matthew 10:32-33 says that, "Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men,  I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."  Granted, this is in the context of a discussion regarding persecution, but let me ask you something.  How easy is it to be excited about Jesus around Easter?  Do you find yourself being more bold around Easter regarding letting others know you are a Christian?  It is easier then, is it not? Everyone expects Christians to be excited about Jesus around Easter.  It is a Christian holiday.   So far it has not received the same wrap as CHRISTmas as far as it concerns the name Christ being in the title of so many things.  No one is asking us to have "holiday egg hunts" for example.  All of the secular associations with Easter are still labeled as Easter products or events.  Let's face it, persecution in this country does not hold a candle to the persecution in other parts of the world.  And yet we often remain silent about our faith. Why?

What Will You Do?
The real test comes the rest of the year.  Does the meaning of Easter bring as much anticipation of what God may do, and celebration of what He has done, one week after the holiday is over?  How about one month? Don't get me wrong, I have been as guilty of this as anyone, and I am as tempted as anyone else to feed the hype more around the holiday than at other times.  But is this ok?  Should the phrase, "I wish it could be Christmas all year long", not apply to Easter also?   What will you do?  Will you go back to the status quo or will you carry the momentum of the holiday forward?

I want to challenge all of us.  I want to encourage us all to strive to remember the gospel truths that make Easter so special to begin with.  I want to encourage us to ask ourselves everyday how the gospel can inform every day of our lives and everything that we do and say in that day.

Jesus lived the perfect life that we could not live.  He died the death that we deserve to die.  He made statements that inform us as to what our Christian walk should look like.  For example, "if you love me, you will keep my commands"(John 14:15-30), and before He ascended to the right hand of the Father he gave us the Great Commission(Matthew 28:18-20).  Christ paid the price for our rebellion against the Father on the cross so that we could spend eternity with Him.  I don't think commanding us unto allegiance and obedience is to much to ask considering the alternative.

I have fleshed out the message of the cross many times and most people reading this have probably heard it in the last twenty four hours at a church service so I will not go there.  If you are intrigued by this discussion and have questions feel free to email me and we can dialogue about it.  My email is at the top of the blog page.

If you are well versed in the gospel message, then I pray that this will serve the purpose that I intend.  That is, essentially, to cause us all to contemplate our day to day representation of the gospel to others in our sphere of influence.   Let us apply the instructions of Jude 1:20-23, keeping ourselves built up in the faith with the tools that God has provided and looking for the opportunity to share the truth of the gospel with others, perhaps snatching some out of the fire.

Remember yesterday's fervor as you celebrated Christ death, burial, and resurrection and apply it to tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.  Defend always, the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints(Jude 1:3)

One of my favorite closings from the New Testament letters is also from Jude 1:24-25.  It states, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever, Amen."

Coram Deo (Living before the face of God),


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Conversation with Satan

Is Knowledge and Belief Enough?
What is Salvation?  What is Lordship?  Can one exist without the other?  There is a great misunderstanding among many today that all you have to do is believe in Jesus and you will be saved.  Unfortunately, too many people make confession without repentance and submission to Christs' Lordship.

Romans 10:9-10 states, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."

Is this true?  Of course it is.  However, too often we focus on the belief part and forget what the confession is?  That Jesus is Lord.

In speaking of faith apart from works in James 2:17-19 he states, "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.  But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works."  Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe and shudder!"

A Conversation
Let's suppose that God had a conversation with Satan about his eternal destination. It might go something like this:

God:    Satan.  Do you believe that I am the only God, maker of heaven and earth?
Satan: Yes
God:    Do you believe that I sent Jesus to die on the cross, taking on the punishment for the sins of the                     world, satisfying my wrath toward their sins, and then raised him from the dead on the third day?
Satan: Yes
God:    Do you believe that in the last days I will raise the living and the dead to be judged either innocent or             guilty based on their belief in me, and their confession of and and submission to my Lordship?
Satan: Yes
God:    Satan, will you Submit to my Lordship and serve me faithfully, obeying all the commands I have                     given you?
Satan: NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And I am going to take every soul with me that you do not save.

This would, in fact, be the end result of that conversation.  Satan rebelled in heaven.  He tried to overthrow GOD!  He has no interest in submission to Christs' Lordship.  Thus, no matter how much he and the demons know or believe about God, they will be condemned to everlasting torment in the lake of fire(Revelation 20:10).  And his goal is to take as many with him as possible.  However, whether in this life or before the judgement seat of Christ, every knee, including Satan and his minions, shall bow and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father(Philippians 2:9-11, Romans 14:10-12, Revelation 20:11-15).

A Passionate Plea
Please don't be one of the casualties of Satan's war against God.  You see, knowledge about God, Jesus, and the bible is not enough.  Just saying you believe is not enough. Belief without change is nothing more than mere intellectual ascent. It does not matter if you simply go to church or are actively involved with your church.  If your whole life is not surrendered to the effort of repentance from sin and the pursuit of holiness, in every area of your life, then there is reason to question the relevance of your salvation.  If you prayed a prayer once, but there really is not much of your life that looks like the disciples of the bible, then there is reason to question the relevance of your salvation.  If you lack genuine interest in God's word, embrace the ways of the world, and perceive not problem with this then you are likely in open rebellion against God and, there is reason to question the relevance of your salvation

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and you truly believe with your heart, not just your mind, it will change you.  Your thoughts and behavior will not be the same.  You will not be perfect until heaven however, 2 Corinthians 5:15-17 states that "Christ died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but him, who for their sake died and was raised.  From now on, therefore regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passes away; behold, the new has come."

Examine yourselves!
God requires surrender of this life, that you may know life eternally with Him and in Him. Examine yourself and see if you are in the faith(2 Corinthians 13:5).  If you find yourself wanting of the characteristics of a true, biblical Christ-follower, and thus you find that it is likely you are not in the faith, that can change now.

If you are Lost
God can and will save you if you are willing to die to yourself and live for Christ.  Cry out to God to save you!  He will!  Then find a local, bible teaching church, get baptized as part of your public profession of your faith, and begin feeding on the word of God.  God has given, to those whom are believers, everything needed for life and godliness by His grace, empowered by the Holy Spirit, through the study of His word, prayer, and obedience(2 Peter 3-11).  All of this fosters relationship with God.

If you are Found
If you find that you are in the faith and desiring repentance and holiness, yet there are areas of your life in which this is lacking, know this.  God does not require anything of the believer that He does not enable them to do.  In Philippians 2:12-13 Paul instructs us, "work out your salvation with fear and trembling.   For it is God who works in you both to will and to work according to his good pleasure."

Even the Apostle Paul whom wrote much of the New Testament recognized that he could not do it on his own.  In 1 Corinthians 15:10 he states, "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward  me was not in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I but the grace of God that is with me."

Without Christ we all will be like Satan, rebelling against God and headed for an eternity of hellish, conscious torment.  Don't be like Satan.  Pray that the God of all grace will pour that grace out on you without measure, empowering you to believe and submit, thus saving you through the blood of His Son, and empowering you to obey through the Holy Spirit, thus sanctifying you and making your calling and election sure.  Don't just know about the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, KNOW HIM! and be known by Him!  For there is no greater joy.

In Jesus name,


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wanna Save Your Marriage (Part 9) A repost of the Summary

(Hi there.  I am still very burdened by Satan's attack on marriage in today's world.  It is not new but in many ways it is gaining new ground as truth becomes increasingly relativistic and gay marriage adds a whole other dynamic.  I wanted to repost this as a reminder to us all, as we continue to be forced to contemplate biblical marriage in our day.  This is the final summary post of the series entitled, Wanna Save Your Marriage.  If it speaks to you or you think it may speak to someone else, please feel free to share.  Blessings.)

Alright.  There are so many other things that could be said but I think it is time to wrap this one up. This is officially the longest series that I have ever done.  It has been edifying to me.  I hope it has been edifying to you.  I would like to thank everyone who reads the blog, has followed this particular series of postings, and/or has provided feedback.  It means a lot and you are more than welcome to share and share alike if you feel it would be helpful.

I want to emphasize that while the material has been direct and revealing at times , I have made every effort to be biblical at every point.  Sometimes the bible can be offensive and difficult to swallow.  What we must always remember is that the bible is God's inspired, inerrant, holy word.  It must not be added to or be taken away from.  God does not require that His word conform to what people want it to say.  God requires that HIS people conform to HIS word(Romans 12:1-2).  With that said, let's review what the bible has taught us.

The biblical God is a fan of biblical marriage!
It was His idea!  He is a fan of man and woman joined together in an unbreakable, covenant union.  A covenant union that is designed to glorify God and help to populate the earth.  He created the idea, He blessed the idea and the subjects of the idea, and He said that it was good.
(Genesis 1:27-28, Matthew 19:3-9)

Biblical marriage is designed with a purpose!
What is that design?  First, it must be the union of a male and a female.  Second, the male and female should be believers.  Third, each member of the union must recognize their God-given role and the instructions for that role. Fourth, the Gospel is central. (Matthew 19:4-6, Ephesians 5:21-33)

The Gospel is central!
God's design for marriage is centered around the Gospel.  The sacrificial love of Christ for His church is the example of the kind of sacrificial love that we are expected to exhibit, one Christian to another and one spouse to the other. We must understand how we were designed as individuals and what the design of our roles in marriage are.  We must understand that just as we are dead in our sins and cannot come alive unless Christ makes us alive; none of what is expected of us in marriage can be done appropriately without the empowerment of God's grace through Christ's death and resurrection.(Ephesians 2:1-10, Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Corinthians 15:10)

Sacrificial, selfless, love is required by God.
Maybe you are struggling with a spouse who is not living up to the biblical definitions of their role. Perhaps you are struggling with an unbelieving spouse or a maybe your marriage is struggling sexually.  All of these struggles, along with all of the other above points, have been addressed in greater detail in the previous posts, scripture references and all.

What is certain is that when Jesus came to earth, He gave all while being despised and rejected by the majority.  Many say that God's love and often that Christ's love is unconditional.  This is simply not true.  The condition of God's offer of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, comes in the death and resurrection of Christ's perfect life alone, for the glory of God alone.  It is not free!  If you are a believer, you are not your own, you were bought with a price.  Christ's blood shed on the cross paid the price for the sins of the world so that eternal life would be made available.

That's right!  The love of God the Father and God the Son is not unconditional, but it is sacrificial.  God is not asking anything of you, no matter how bad it may seem, that Christ did not experience.  Jesus knew temptation.  Jesus knew betrayal, rejection, emotional hurt, and physical pain.  He understands it and He will see you through it.  As a believer, He does not expect you to do it by yourself.  As a believer, God's grace is always working in and through you to accomplish His good purposes. (Philippians 2:12-13)

I don't need Jesus, my marriage is doing fine by itself!
Perhaps, during this process, you have thought, "I have a perfectly happy marriage and I don't have to think about all this stuff.  My wife and I are good people who love each other and treat each other well and we don't even consider the application of any of this spiritual, Gospel-centered marriage hype."   Maybe.  But rest assured, whether you believe it or not, that the benevolent love of God's common grace to all people is the only thing that keeps mankind from totally annihilating themselves.  It is not because you carry all the power within yourself to do good.  God restrains any evil that does not run rampant, anywhere, including your marriage.

Happy wife, happy life is not enough!
Regardless of what you think, one other thing is true.  You can live a happy, good life with a happy, good marriage and still go to hell.  Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the live.  No man comes to the Father but by me!(John 14:6)

I don't want that for anyone.  This series has been a bit pragmatic in the "How to have a better marriage biblically" kind of way.  I admit that.  But, the Gospel has been present throughout.  All of it has been Christ-centered.  The reason for that is because no success in this world has any meaning eternally apart from Christ.  I have not helped you at all if you apply some of the principles found in this series and never have a relationship with a living Savior, the Eternal Bridegroom himself.  You will not be a part of the bride of Christ if you are not in a saving and surrendered relationship with the Groom that makes it all possible to begin with.

Please, go back and look at the post entitled, "Wanna Save Your Marriage?, What is the Gospel?"(Part 3).  Not for me, but for you.  Make sure you understand what the Gospel is.  2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves and make sure that we are in the faith.  It is ok to assess your life in relation to biblical truth and look for areas that either point to proof of saving faith or the lack there of.  Even if you come to the conclusion that you are in fact saved, there are always areas that are not yet perfected and we should always be looking to strive for repentance in new areas of our walk in order to ensure that we are living a life worthy of the gospel(Philippians 1:27).

Find joy in the Father!
Last but not least remember, in the words of John Piper, that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him".  As believers, the greatest way to be most at peace in trials and suffering is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal.  The greatest way to ensure you are walking in unselfish, sacrificial love is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal. The greatest way to ensure that you are walking obediently to God in your marriage is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal.  The greatest way to ensure you are living a life worthy of the gospel is to keep God's glory as your ultimate goal.

The greatest way to walk with the best possible satisfaction at any given moment and to experience joy unspeakable and full of glory(1 Peter 1:8) is to remember what Christ did for you on the cross and through His resurrection.  Not only that, but to remember that, while He died for all who would believe, Jesus' ultimate goal was always the glory of His Father.(John 17:5)

Jesus always found His greatest satisfaction in the glory of God through loving obedience.  That was, and is, His ultimate goal!

If this series has helped one marriage to grow or be restored, or more importantly; if this series has helped one individual to discover a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, then it has been worth it.

If you have not read the whole series yet and you would like a fleshing out of these points, parts 1-8 can be found under the October and November tabs on the this blog page.   I pray it has been and will be a blessing.  Thank you for your time.

In Jesus name,




Thursday, April 3, 2014


Hello again!

A few days ago I wrote an informational post of gratitude regarding the departure of my family from our church of many years.  The response has been amazing.  155 page views so far.  That may not sound like much but for a blog that averages 40-50 page views with the occasional peak, 155 is phenomenal.  I recognize that many may read the posts via email and never go to the page, so I try not to get to hung up on page views but they are in my face all the time so I do notice.  What this does suggest is there are many who may have never seen this blog before that read that post.

I did not write the post looking for exposure, but I am very grateful for the response, love and support that we have received from so many.  Everything I do is not so very personal in nature and that's ok, but this response has prompted me to consider who may have been exposed to this blog for the first time that might check it out again courtesy of the popularity of the last post.  So, since I am getting back into the swing of things I thought for current readers and any new readers that may come along, that I would continue the personal touch a little longer.

Even though I try to be honest about the fact that I am on the same journey of Chirstian growth as everyone else, I recognize that it would be very easy to read the challenges that I present as a "holier than thou" kind of process.  I want to, as a reminder, dissuade anyone from that concept.  I am just another guy.  Another person on a journey toward ever-increasing holiness and Christ-likeness.  I do not consider myself to be better than anyone else.  I have struggled and continue to struggle with sin that manifests itself in, struggling to love my family properly, being consistent in bible study and memorization, and evangelism, among others.

However, I, like every other sinner saved by grace, am commanded by Jesus and compelled by the Holy Spirit, in the spirit of Matthew 28:19-20 to spread the gospel and make disciples, teaching all of the commands of scripture.  So this I must do in spite of my many flaws and struggles with sin.  This is true of every Christian and minister of the gospel.  So, here we go.

I struggle with sins to numerous to mention.  I am a man so, of course, I battle with lust.  I do not give in but, it is an ever present nag striving to draw me away from those things that I am commanded to be committed to in marriage and in Christ.  I have a temper, so I struggle to keep that bound up so as to love my wife and children appropriately even in the most frustrating of moments.  I battle the temptation of pride.  I continually strive to remember the grace of God in my life, and that it is this grace that enables me to find any success at all.  This same grace reminds me also, that I must have more compassion than I do for the lost, the needy and other believers also struggling with sin.  We are not to judge hearts as regards eternal security.  However we are to judge word and actions as sinful and hold each other accountable.  That is biblical and loving as words and actions are the fruit of the attitude of our hearts.  However, to allow the recognition of the sin in other peoples lives to cause us to forget the sin in our own and thus loose compassion is unacceptable.  We cannot love each other appropriately in that way.  We must always remember that the same grace is working in all of us but the timetable is not always the same.  This is just a handful of the many ways in which I do spiritual battle with this body of flesh that I am clothed in.

Love For Family
One of the hardest things to do as a husband and father is to lead your family spiritually.  Often the Lord will take you to a place of growth spiritually that is ahead of your other family members so that you know where to lead them.  You have been down the path, seen the pitfalls and gotten a glimpse of the safest route.  However, as I said before, pride and impatience are always lurking on the side of the path waiting to ambush you.  We are so quick to forget the struggles that we had as the grace of God led us to where we are.  Thus we forget to show that same grace to those that we are leading.  As I said, I have a temper and while it is much more controlled than it used to be, it is an ever present reminder of my need for God's grace to help me lead patiently and lovingly.  Please pray for me in this as I strive to be a good shepherd to my little flock.

Bible Reading and Memorization
Yes, I am a blogger of biblical ideas and yes, along the way I have memorized some scripture.  The challenge I face is similar to that of pastors and that is to not only read the bible as a means to the end of delivering a message.  I can say for myself that the ways in which I use the bible to support this blog are devotional for me.  I am ministered to every time I blog because ideas form and pour out of me even as I am writing.  They often jump right off of the screen and back into my heart.  Often, it is as if I am speaking to myself.  But, I must confess that I have struggled to read through the entire bible.  I understand many things regarding the continuity of scripture from beginning to end via teaching from those who have read it all the way through many times, but I need to do it myself.  I have read much of it, but never the whole thing.  I recognize that this is not ok and I must fix it.  The same is true of bible memory.  There are many scriptures that I have in my heart courtesy of quoting them so many times here, but I know that scripture commands that I hide God's word in my heart that I might not sin against Him(Proverbs 119:11), so I strive to improve in this area.  Please pray for to that end.

You might ask, "Isn't that what you are doing with this blog?".  And the answer would be yes to some degree.  But this blog is akin to street evangelism in some ways in that I do not have a personal relationship with all my readers.  In some ways this blog requires less guts because it is not face to face so I don't have to experience the negative reactions.  I want to make it clear that I do not blog to avoid face to face persecution.  However, I do understand that blogging must only be one form of the ways in which I share the gospel.  I want to improve in evangelizing strangers, friends, and family alike.  I want evangelism to be a way of life.  Some have described effective evangelism as thinking of threads of the gospel that are woven into every aspect of our lives so that it informs everything we say and do thus inevitably impacting everyone we come in contact with.  That is my ultimate desire.  I want others to see Jesus in me.  For that to happen an increase in bible reading and memorization is a must because it is scripture that transforms and informs my heart and changes my actions for God's glory.

I hope you don't mind that I have shared my heart with you a bit.  The reason for this blog is to share the gospel with a two fold purpose.  One, to inform the lost of their need for Jesus and hopefully give good news that the Holy Spirit will use to draw their hearts to Him.  Two, to lovingly challenge a culture that is continually tempted to compromise the authority of scripture as the means, that informs the way in which we live, in every aspect of our lives.  The church must have a high view of God, and of His word, and live that out, if it is going to impact the world for the glory of God.  Please know that even when I appear to be ranting or rough around the edges at times, it always fueled by a zeal for God's glory to be made manifest in your lives.  That end is always going to be beneficial to your hearts.  As I have quoted several times from John Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him".  May it be so in your lives and mine, in Jesus name. Amen.

With much love and affection in Christ,