Here are two sobering things I noticed about Hell while prepping today for my Wednesday evening men’s study. I ended with Rev. 21:8.
“. . . but the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Continue reading
The law of Moses ties together two things that the flesh thinks are opposites, but the spirit sees as necessary close friends – confrontation and love.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:17-18). Continue reading
I once saw a guy having a heatstroke. We were on a military exercise in the desert in California, where the temperature was hitting 120 degrees every day. So it is not surprising that this Marine was overcome by the heat. But the strange thing was that when I grabbed him to start carrying him to the corpsman, he had two canteens on his belt that were both completely full of water. Here was a guy that was having a possibly fatal medical emergency that was being brought on by dehydration. But he had all the water that he needed on his waist. He just wouldn’t drink it. The reason is that when you start to get dehydrated, one of the first things that happens is you start to get nauseated. And when you are nauseated, you don’t want to drink. You are repelled by the very thing that you most need.
It struck me how much our sin is like that. Continue reading
Isn’t it weird how the men of this generation seem incapable of making a lifelong commitment to a woman in marriage, but don’t think twice about making a lifelong commitment to some of the most ludicrous doodles on their skin?
Over the past two days we did a little experiment with the Greyfriars (our ministerial training program). We booked a small local church and had them all give a short sermon on the text of Obadiah. One at a time, each guy stood up, gave his sermon, and then listened to the rest of us critique it afterwards. But the rule was everybody had to preach. So Toby Sumpter and myself both had preach the text as well. And the other rule was that we would go youngest to oldest. That meant that I got to be last.
It was a complete blast. I was truly amazed by how much we unpacked from Obadiah. I was also really pleased to see the quality in our younger ministers. (Notice that I say “younger.” I’m still struggling with having qualified as the oldest guy there.) Anyhow, I’m posting my sermon here.
Preached at the Greyfriars Preaching Retreat on 27 September, 2013.
If you remember the recent NSA disputatio on the canon of Scripture, you’ll remember that our speaker described the canon like a large mosaic that is pieced together to reveal Christ. But in addition to this, when you look closely at the individual pieces you see that each piece also has a complete picture of Christ in it. The book of Obadiah is like this. Though it seems like a small, obscure book, tucked into the minor prophets, it brings together all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, all centered on the Son of God, Jesus Christ. I’d like to try and sketch that out a bit. Continue reading
Here are three reasons why, all things being equal, it is stupid for young men to get into a romantic relationship in the first two years of college. Of course, I know that exceptions abound. They are all over the place. But people doing stupid things abound too and I’d like to speak to them. If you’re not being stupid, you can ignore the following. Continue reading
It’s funny how certain relatively brief moments in our life can exercise a far larger influence over our estimation of ourselves than other much longer moments. You meet men whose jock status in high school stays with them for life. It doesn’t matter how fat, out of shape, and unathletic they have become. They still think of themselves as wearing a jersey to school on game day and pitying the boys who didn’t make the cut. It can work the other way too. A woman who becomes stunning in college, but had her self-image shaped during the years of being overlooked in high school can have a hard time ever coming to see herself as beautiful. The cement dried and it dried while she thought of herself as unattractive.
We play this game with our souls as well. Many people have estimations of their own spiritual weaknesses and strengths that go back to high school. And these estimations are often as out of date as their high school wardrobe. Sometimes you think you struggle with something that you actually overcame a decade ago (maybe it’s your fear of that sin that has kept you so far from it for years). But it can go the other way as well. Sometimes you are convinced that you don’t struggle with a sin because you didn’t struggle with it in high school. Continue reading
One of the tough things about growing in grace is the way that we don’t get to pick the next battlefront nor the pace of that battle in our growth in sanctification. I want to grow at one speed, to take very sane and bite-sized portions of sanctification. But God sometimes intends to duct tape my lips to the fire hose of godliness and crank the faucet open. It’s particularly the moments when I feel like I have exhausted myself spiritually, that I think I deserve a little bit of a break. And it is invariably at those moments that I am given my next assignment.
I’m reminded of Lewis’s description of Shasta in The Horse and His Boy, where Shasta learned that “. . . if you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” You finish fighting your way through one intense moment of hardship, temptation, and challenge. You find that despite the pain of it all, you actually came out the other side having grown in maturity and sanctification. Maybe it involved a hard repentance where you had to really humble yourself, confess your sins, and seek forgiveness in an ego-destroying sort of way. Or maybe it required that you face your fears, commit yourself totally to God’s mercy, stepping forward in faith. Maybe it was a forgiveness that you had fought long against extending, and you finally had your white-knuckled fingers peeled off of a bitterness that you should have let go of years ago.
Whatever it was, it was hard, and when you got through it you said, “Wow, glad that’s over.” And then you flopped down for some much needed rest only to have the next spiritual challenge greet you. And God says to you, “Get up and run.” Continue reading
The discovery of sin in someone that you deeply respect can be really disconcerting. But, provided there is repentance and an owning of the failure, don’t let it disturb you. All that has happened is that you have suddenly discovered why this person, like you, needs Jesus.
Ahab is sullen and displeased. This shows up after he is rebuked for sparing Ben Hadad (1 Kings 20:43). And then again when Naboth refuses to sell him his vineyard, he is sullen and displeased once more (1 Kings 21:4). The Hebrew words behind sullen and displeased indicated stubbornness and ill-temper. These are two necessary ingredients in any good sulk – being displeased with your situation and refusing to get over it. Ahab nails it perfectly – “. . . and he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food” (1 Kings 21:4b).
A real estate deal gone bad is such a perfect picture of this. Have you ever gotten stuck on a house that you wanted to buy, but for one reason or another the deal couldn’t be closed? Maybe it was because it was such an unrealistic purchase that you couldn’t even get far enough to make a credible offer. And yet, you couldn’t just let it go because you had already daydreamed up how perfect that house would be for you. Continue reading