"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Improved or New?

As my girlfriend, Megan, and I sat together on the couch last night, an interesting report came on the news. It was Fox News interviewing Joel Osteen in lieu of his new book titled Break Out, which is already a bestseller. Any time Joel Osteen's name is mentioned, my reaction is to sit up straight, put my thinking cap on, and listen. And I do so because I believe he does as good a job as any at opening wide the gates of hell to all who will listen.

It's not that Osteen's message is lies through and through. It is sprinkled, battered, and coated with strong biblical truth. But the core of the message is poison. His gospel is not a gospel of complete transforming power - it is a gospel of self improvement. It is the realization of potential already inherent within every human being.

And since I've been meditating on Romans 1:16-17 this week, I began to think about what the gospel does to us. Is it the power of God to make good people better? Or is it the power of God to make dead mean alive, to make sinners saints, to make old people new? Does God stop at improvement? Or does He make the children He chooses into new creations?

The New Testament is packed with illustrations that answer this question. And the Bible states in clear terms that we once indeed were "dead in [our] trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). Part of the glory of God in the gospel is the truth of resurrection. And it is also transformation:
Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:26).
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Cor. 5:17).
Before we say anything about "better," let's talk the gospel. Let's talk about a God who took us when we had nothing to bring to the table and made us new creatures in Jesus Christ.

Friday, December 13, 2013

He Gave

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish
but have eternal life.

Even before the foundation of the world, He saw the catastrophe. When there was nothing, perhaps that Father looked into His Son and presented the eternal plan to hear His dear child say, "Father, Your will be done." The grandest scheme was about to take place. The stage - planet Earth - was set.

And thousands of years later, the fullness of time came. The Father looked into a broken world and sent a Remedy. He looked into sinful mankind and sent them a Savior. He beheld a sick, lost people; He sent a Healer and a Shepherd. Out of the darkness, Light shined.

And on that hideously wonderful night in Bethlehem, God committed a crime for the ages: He sent His dear Boy - God of God - to become man. "He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted." And one day this baby Boy, who was - and is - the hope of the world, would be pierced through and crushed, bent and broken for our sins. This is the gift.

Yes, that night God flooded the world with His grace. He did the unthinkable, the unimaginable. He loved. And in His love He gave.

So let us, with hearts full of joy and praise, also give. Let us give of our hearts and souls. Let us give of our very lives - our own selves. All we are and all we have, let it be His. For in His mercy He gave His all for us; in our worship we give all we are for Him. Not because He needs us, not because we deserve Him, but because He first loved us. 

Because He gave.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

RE: A Round-Up of the Holy Hip Hop Squabble

The following is a link to Thabiti Anyabwile's response to a recent panel on reformed rappers. Having watched the video I was greatly disturbed and upset as a close listener to Christian hip-hop. Let it be said, however, that I am thankful for the public apologies that have taken place since this panel happened.

A Round-Up of the Holy Hip Hop Squabble

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