Monday, October 29, 2007

Celebrate Reformation Day on Oct 31st

Ligonier Ministries Celebrate Reformation Day by offering ESV Reformation Study Bibles for $15.17 -- one day only!! This is a real good deal, so if you've been waiting to get one, or know someone who has been wanting one... Go for it - on Wednesday, Oct 31st! (not to be resold.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Stranger In The House

A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger
who was new to our small hometown.
From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting
newcomer and soon invited him to live with our
family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was
around from then on.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my
family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.
My parents were complementary instructors: Mom
taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to
obey. But the stranger...he was our storyteller. He
would keep us spellbound for hours on end with
adventures, mysteries and comedies.

If I wanted to know anything about politics,
history or science, he always knew the answers about
the past, understood the present and even seemed
able to predict the future! He took my family to
the first major league ball game. He made me laugh,
and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped
talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind.

Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest
of us were shushing each other to listen to what he
had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for
peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed
for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral
convictions, but the stranger never felt obligated
to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not
allowed in our home... Not from us, our friends or
any visitors. Our longtime visitor, however, got
away with four-letter words that burned my ears and
made my dad squirm and my mother blush.

My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol.
But the stranger encouraged us to try it on a
regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars
manly and pipes distinguished. He talked freely
(much too freely!) about sex. His comments were
sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and
generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about
relationships were influenced strongly by the
stranger. Time after time, he opposed the values of
my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked... And NEVER
asked to leave. He monopolized our dinner time
conversations, walks or tossing the ball around
after dinner was a thing of the past, the stranger
held more interest for us than the outdoors. Books
were no longer purchased or read, we found the
stranger more fascinating than reading.

More than fifty years have passed since the
stranger moved in with our family. He has blended
right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was
at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents'
den today, you would still find him sitting over in
his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him
talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name...
We just call him, "TV."

A few years ago his wife moved in too!....We call her "Computer."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

D'Souza - Hitchens debate

Dinesh D'Souza debates Christopher Hitchens at Kings College Hat Tip to "JG" with whom I agree - "I'm almost starting to feel sorry the atheists" (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, et al). Definitely feel sorry for them, but also be grateful for guys like D'Souza (and Dr. John Lennox who rececently debated Dawkins at Fixed Point Foundation).

Monday, October 22, 2007

And Wow!

Getting Old For the Glory of God>>> by John Piper

Much, much better than I could have ever expected. Wow.

Finishing Well With Jerry Bridges

Jerry Bridges' message outline on Four Essentials to Finishing Well.

Paul endured to the end but Demas, as far as we know, did not (2 Timothy 4:7,10), even though he was once a fellow worker (Philemon 1:24). This is a sobering thought because so many of us are still very young. How can we, like Paul, endure by God's grace?

1) Daily time of focused personal communion with God. It must be daily, otherwise we will find ourselves drifting in the wrong direction. Demas was in love with this present world. Our time with God must build in us affections for God that trump the temptations to love this world. It's helpful to have a plan, but the plan must direct us to God himself.

2) Daily appropriation of the gospel. The gospel is for sinners. Before we spend time in communion with God, we must come to him with the attitude of the tax collector who prayed, "Have mercy on me, a sinner," and trust God alone to make us righteous. This alone will give us the confidence to approach God and have communion with him.

If we don't daily appropriate the gospel then we will begin to base our spirituality on our performance, which will eventually lead us either towards pride or despair. But reminding ourselves daily that we are sinners and that, by God's grace, we've been clothed with the righteousness of Christ, will equip us with true and pure motivation to continue following Jesus and renouncing the desire to love this world. We ought to work hard, not in order to earn God's approval but because we already have it.

3) Daily commit yourself to God as a living sacrifice. Romans 12:1. The Old Testament sacrifice that Paul alludes to was daily performed by the priests. He carries that same significance over to new covenant saints. Our bodies are on loan from God, and we must daily re-consecrate ourselves to him. Just as Paul appealed to Philemon (Philemon 1:8-10), even though he had the right to command him, so also he appeals to us to give ourselves to God.

The sheer wonder of the mercy of God should cause us to spontaneously give it, and this we will do if we daily bask in his love.

4) A firm belief in the sovereignty and love of God. Lamentations 3:37-38. Life is full of pains, through natural circumstances and the ill will of others. But God is sovereign over all such evils, and—by faith—we can give thanks for them. God is using them to conform us to the image of Christ and will never leave us or forsake us. The gospel and the promises of God will never fail, nor will he take them from us.

I believe this is good practical theology that keeps us in synch with the gospel and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to one of my favorite authors!

Real Christians?

In studying and teaching from Galatians 2 during a conference this past weekend, our small group came to the conclusion that the tendency for we Christians who've been saved for a while, even in some reformed church settings, is to believe that we are somehow now required to do good works in order to be "real Christians." Even though we are convinced that we started by Grace through Faith, now we really have to grit our teeth and roll up our sleeves and get down to DOING all the right things to prove our Christianity is real.

Well there have been three items in particular which I think are worth sharing here.

1. Most recently, the article by the missionary Matt Kleberg, Does my failure mean that my Christianity is failure: Real Love is Transparent? In the article Matt writes: "To say that my failures somehow discredit Christianity completely disregards the cross! What pride and hypocrisy! Out of death we are made alive in Christ and our new identities are not bound up in our own righteousness, but rather the righteousness of Christ. It is by His perfection that we are presented as spotless before the Father. And while the Spirit does begin its healing work on our hearts, it is forever the work of Jesus that makes us children of God. I no longer have to disguise my sin for fear of nullifying the gospel. The gospel, rather, nullifies my sin, and frees me up to live as though transparent. The world can see through me- can see that I am needy and that there is a savior who triumphs over my brokenness."

2. The book The Lamb and the Fuhrer: Jesus Talks with Hitler. Reading this - especially the second half - was so convicting to me, because it helped to show just how very much closer my sin is to Hitler than to Jesus, how incredibly self-justifying my sin can be, and how corrupt my heart is capable of being. It was also like one of the conferences held at our church a couple of years ago. Speaking of a continuum of human sin, the presenter explained that we almost always like to see Hitler all the way on one end, and Mother Tereasa on the complete opposite side. But this view of "good deeds" is devoid of Jesus. It is Jesus who is on the complete opposite side, with Mother Tereasa right there next to Hitler, only a few baby steps away. Such is the darkness of human motives. Even the great preacher George Whitefield once wrote: "I cannot pray but I sin -- I cannot preach to you or any others but I sin -- I can do nothing without sin; and, as one expresseth it, my repentance wants to be repented of, and my tears to be washed in the precious blood of my dear Redeemer. Our best duties are as so many splendid sins." Surely he was a "real Christian."

And 3. John Piper's illustration (from

"A picture may help. God gave the law originally as a railroad track to guide Israel's obedience. The engine that was supposed to pull a person along the track was God's grace, the power of the Spirit. And the coupling between our car and the engine was faith, so that in the Old Testament, like the New Testament, salvation was by grace, through faith, along the track of obedience (or sanctification).

But this way of salvation is so uncomplimentary to the human ego (since God is having to do everything for us) it has never been very popular. The Pharisees, and many other Jews with them (as well as many people today), did an amazing thing. They took the railroad track—rails, ties, nails, and all—lifted it up on end, leaned it against the door of heaven, and turned it into a ladder to climb. This is the essence of legalism: Making the law into a long list of steps which we use to demonstrate our moral fitness to attain heaven. While the track is on the ground, some of the ceremonials ties could be pulled out from under the rails without ruining the track.

But as a ladder, every rung is crucial, or you may not be able to climb the next.

This ladder is what Paul tore down. He tore down the legalistic misuse of the law."

Even within the reformed faith, we see some who erect this ladder as part of the "Perseverence of the Saints." I have heard some say, "If you do not exhibit fruit of the Spirit or if you find yourself in pattern of sin, you may not be a believer." Self-examination is good, and sometimes we really do just have to whiteknuckle it rather than fall into the devasting consequences of giving into temptation. But Perseverence of the Saints was never meant to be cause fear and to nullify grace. Just the opposite. PofS is an affirmation that "He who began a good work in us will carry it through to completion, until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil 1:6). The Bible is clear that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1) and that we have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer we who live life in the body, but it is Christ in us (Gal. 2:11-21). More importantly, God's Word says "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8-9). If we are telling others that the presence of sin is an indication that they are not, or might not, be saved, who will be honest? Who will confess their sins - one to another, as God's Word says we are to do?

Anyone have thoughts they'd like to share?

(UPDATE) I just found out that Desiring God did a conference with a segment titled "A Call For The Perseverence of the Saints." I'm going to have to watch and read and get back on here to comment - especially if I've missed something. But please do still feel to post your comments!! I know there are people who read my blog who are much more mature in the faith than I am - so go for it...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Incredible Ministry of RZIM

Before I started my undergrad at Delaware, Ravi Zacharias was invited by one of the campus ministries to debate the philosophy department on the book of Job and the problem of evil. Five years later, I found myself enrolled as a full-time student at the college, engaged in philosophical sparring in my World Religions class with my professor, contending for the Christian faith. Not only that, but as I soon found out, practically every humanities course (and -of course- my biology class) required a careful ability to defend the Truth of the scriptures and Jesus Christ in a gentle, yet uncompromising way almost daily. Ravi's ministry continued to be important throughout my bachelors studies - and then later as I worked on my master's degree. Today it is still just as prominent, through his staff writers' devotionals in the Slice of Infinity emails that I receive daily.

Last night I had the incredible blessing of listening to him up close - seriously - like four feet away - thanks to a very good friend's invite. He shared some absolutely amazing things that he and the rest of his very small staff have had the opportunity to accomplish for the sake of the Gospel recently. I'm pretty sure that I cannot share any details, but they are ministering to large groups of previously unreached people all of over the world - particularly in high risk and adversarial cultures. The ministry is also reaching folks in high levels of influence religiously, acedemically, socially and politically in this country and abroad. Suffice it to say - I was awe struck and felt so very grateful for this ministry on the personal level as well in a global sense.

That being said, I realized that in all of the years that I have been blessed by this ministry, I have NEVER once been solicited to offer financial support. And that is a testament to the fact of their primary focus and to not present a stumbling block to anyone. So, if anyone reads this had has ever been blessed by RZIM or has been at all encouraged by anything I have written, please count this ministry among those that you might consider supporting at some time. God Bless!

How NOT to Be Reconciled

This video is no longer available on but you can view entire episodes or individual chapters on the NBC Website>>> This sequence is Episode 1 (Fun Run) Chapters 3 and 4. The whole episode is pretty good - probably the best so far this season. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sinfulness of Sin, Joel Osteen & Ambassadorship

In my studies, I've been very blessed to have spent a considerable amount of time basking in and meditating on the lavishness of God's Grace and Redemption in my life and the lives of those around me. This has been tremendously freeing, yet I have felt some of the imbalance, and now God has reminded me, through His Word and the examples from my own life of how absolutely important it is to remember the sinfulness of sin along with God's super-abounding Grace.

Hosea 11:12 Ephraim surrounds Me with lies
And the house of Israel with deceit;
Judah is also unruly against God,
Even against the Holy One who is faithful.

Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth!
For the LORD has spoken:
"I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.

Isaiah 30:1 "Woe to the obstinate children,"
declares the LORD,
"to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin;

2 who go down to Egypt
without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh's protection,
to Egypt's shade for refuge.
3 But Pharaoh's protection will be to your shame,
Egypt's shade will bring you disgrace.

Romans 8:6-7 "The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

This week has been a very strange lesson for me on the sinfulness of sin in my life shown to me both through scripture and through a serious conflict at work. Overt sin in the form of rebellion and hostility have probably been the biggest themes. For one thing, it is way, way too easy to forget our sin nature and the rebelliousness/hostility that we show God every day as a result of not believing rightly about who God is and His holy and loving nature. This week, I found myself particularly weak in the spiritual disciplines and it had a damaging effect on at least one relationship with a guy who works for me.

I have been his biggest advocate for more than two years now. I convinced the powers that be to promote him, to re-sign him to a huge chunkin' bonus, and I have gone to bat for him on charges that could have been very serious for him. And I have reasoned with him about the performance issues that were lingering that I had to intercede for him on. AND yet, his level of disrepect and open hostility toward me has become unimaginable. He has given me no choice but to enact strict disciplinary measures. Through all of this, I have said several times, I could never, ever be God. He is way, way, way more longsuffering and patient that I could ever even attempt to be. And I say this mostly because of the sadness, disappointment and betrayal that I feel. Not only because of just how poorly he has been performing or simply because he was being so rebellious, hostile, and insubordinate (which really is quite a bit in the org where I work). But my sadness/disappointment/feelings of betrayal stem primarily from knowing that I've poured myself out for him and encouraged him and given him professional, respectful guidance over the past two years. Yet to have him act as if I was some stranger. No. Not a stranger, because I don't know anyone who would be so utterly beligerent and hostile to a stranger. He treated me like a mortal enemy. And I just can't get that.

So, here's the thing. No matter how much this hurts/ bewilders me, it is no where near as aweful as my sin and how I have treated God. And I have been no where near as good as God is to me in trying to love, serve, advocate, reconcile with this young man. How does this show the sinfulness of sin? This personalizes it. Sin is against God. period. The Holy One. Who loves us with an everlasting love and whose love endures forever. Against Christ, our advocate, our propitiation, who sits at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for us, WHILE we rebel against him, discrespt His authority, show open hostility toward His loving advances. It just made me cry and cry because I know that my sin and rebellion this past week must shred God's heart too - but more.

All of this being said, tonight I found an interesting article by Michael Horton at the Whitehorse Inn about Joel Osteen's message. Apparently, the two were featured on 60 Minutes tonight, but I missed the debate.

Here is an excerpt from on of the articles Dr. Horton wrote called Joel Osteen: Whatever Happened to Sin?
If Osteen were a herald, ambassador, and messenger of the gospel, he would humbly yet confidently proclaim the message that we have been given, rather than deciding for himself what kind of ministry for which he wants to be remembered. An ambassador is sent with the word of his superior. However, Osteen sees himself "more as a coach, as a motivator to help [people] experience the life God has for us." Not only does Osteen's commitment to his own message and ministry fail to serve the interests of God's kingdom; they fall far short of truly serving his hearers. If he loves the people to whom he speaks, he will give them the truth about their situation before God and the good news of God's grace in Christ.

Of course, it is a lot easier to say, "...I don't have it in my heart to condemn people," when you are asked if Jesus is the only way of salvation. It makes us look good. We can be the "nice guy" in a culture that prizes being nice. But being nice isn't always loving. A doctor who can't bring himself or herself to inform you of your cancer in time to receive a possible cure is actually selfish. We trust such informed people to tell us the truth regardless of the personal anxiety or unpleasantness of the news.

Hmmmm. a lot to digest... Maybe I'm just being a little too much like Osteen and need to bring the "bad news" into my scenario mentioned above. Conviction is definitely warranted. I will pray for the Holy Spirit to be working on him too!! Anyway, food for thought.

Trinity 101

My friend "C" has had a lot of questions about the Trinity lately, in light of some of the teaching she received in her Mormon classes. I've tried to answer straightforwardly from our doctrine, and I think have been a little helpful. Today I found this article on Desiring God, which I thought was a good primer that might provide further clarification. Trinity 101. (BTW-Trinidad means "Trinity") Enjoy!

Jesus Christ the Tree of Life

We sang a wonderful hymn today for the first time this morning (along with And Can It Be), just after we had been studying Genesis Ch. 2 and 3 in Sunday School. Thought it was definitely worth sharing... Enjoy.

From Divine Hymns or Spiritual Songs, compiled by Joshua Smith, New Hampshire, 1784

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree

The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree

His beauty doth all things excel
By faith I know but ne'er can tell
His beauty doth all things excel
By faith I know but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought
And pleasure dearly I have bought
For happiness I long have sought
And pleasure dearly I have bought
I missed of all but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil
Here I will sit and rest a while
I'm weary with my former toil
Here I will sit and rest a while
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit does make my soul to thrive
It keeps my dying faith alive
This fruit does make my soul to thrive
It keeps my dying faith alive
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.

Friday, October 12, 2007

"The Look" / "In Evil Long I Took Delight"

“The Look” (known in hymn books as “In Evil Long I Took Delight”) by John Newton

This is another hymn sung by Debra Gordon at our church during worship concert back in February. It's really an awesome updated version of the hymn. Of course it doesn't hurt that the incredibly talented Chuck is on piano to accompany her voice... Oh, and here are the lyrics too...

I saw one hanging on a tree
In agony and blood
Who fixed His loving eyes on me
As near His cross I stood
And never till my dying breath
Will I forget that look
It seemed to charge me with His death
Though not a word He spoke

My conscience felt and owned the guilt
And plunged me in despair
I saw my sins His blood had spilt
And helped to nail Him there
But with a second look He said
“I freely all forgive
This blood is for your ransom paid
I died that you might live”

Forever etched upon my mind
Is the look of Him who died
The Lamb I crucified
And now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace
That looked on me and gladly took my place

Thus while His death my sin displays
For all the world to view
Such is the mystery of grace
It seals my pardon too
With pleasing grief and mournful joy
My spirit now is filled
That I should such a life destroy
Yet live by Him I killed

Forever etched upon my mind
Is the look of Him who died
The Lamb I crucified
And now my life will sing the praise
Of pure atoning grace
That looked on me and gladly took my place

HT: SaintRav

Down by the Riverside

A few of our choir members sing an impromptu gospel trio song at Debra Gordon's going away party. She is the one in the middle and has recently gotten plugged into the music community in Nashville.

We are so blessed. Our choir is awesome.
HT: Saint Rav at:

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Conflict and Repentance (Keller at EMA)

The below quotation was transcribed by Darryl at highlighting part of a sermon given by Tim Keller in London, England at EMA (Evangelical Ministry Assembly). I thought someone might like it.

"How are we going to face this hostility from culture and fragmentation within the church today? The general resource is the biblical doctrine and practice of repentance.

Luther began the95 Theses that began the Reformation by writing this: "When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent,' he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."

Why did Luther say this? Nobody was bigger than Luther on the difference between faith and works. Religious people generally believe that God accepts them because of their good works. In other words, they base their sanctification on their justification. In which case, religious people are either sinners or they are loved at any given time.

Luther understood that the gospel - salvation by grace through faith through the substitutionary work of Christ alone - brings a paradoxical personal identity that nobody else has. We are simultaneously sinners (in ourselves) and completely accepted (in Christ) - simul iustus et peccator. We have Christ's righteousness. We understand that we're sinners but infinitely loved. We're as loved now as we will be a million years from now.

This means that we are weaker and more sinful than we ever before believed, but also more loved and accepted than we ever dared hope.

If that is the case, the way that you can tell that you are a Christian who understands the gospel, rather than a religious person, is how you handle repentance. If you are religious, repentance is occasional and traumatic. It's what you do to get out of the sin bucket into the love bucket. Repentance then becomes another weapon in your arsenal of self-salvation. It becomes a work. But you never know if you've been repentant enough.

But if you believe the gospel, then we understand that the gospel has nothing to do with our performance. This gives us the freedom to see sin everywhere in our lives. We don't have to be in denial about sin in our lives. George Whitefield wrote:

I cannot pray but I sin -- I cannot preach to you or any others but I sin -- I can do nothing without sin; and, as one expresseth it, my repentance wants to be repented of, and my tears to be washed in the precious blood of my dear Redeemer. Our best duties are as so many splendid sins.

To the degree that we understand the gospel, we are free to admit the worst about ourselves finally. Repentance isn't how we get right with God; it's just the right response. It gives immediate assurance.

Lloyd-Jones tells the story of someone who says, "I was at your house the other day, and you weren't home. A bill came due to you, and I paid it, so you're off the hook." Lloyd-Jones said that we would have no idea how to respond to this man, because we're not sure if it was a package with postage due costing a few pence, or it could be back taxes due worth thousands of pounds. Until we know the size of our debt, we don't know whether to say "thank you" or fall down and kiss his feet. The more we understand the size of our sin, we understand how loved we are.

My dear friends, most churches make the mistake of selecting as leaders the confident, the competent, and the successful. But what you most need in a leader is someone who has been broken by the knowledge of his or her sin, and even greater knowledge of Jesus' costly grace. The number one leaders in every church ought to be the people who repent the most fully without excuses, because you don't need any now; the most easily without bitterness; the most publicly and the most joyfully. They know their standing isn't based on their performance.

All of life is repentance, and repentance increases joy."

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Fam: Blast from the past

You've gotta love old pictures!! Take a look at our family "back in the day." Yep, I'm the oldest (a.k.a. ring leader :-)

The first pic is Dad, Mom, bro's Mark and J.R. and then moi, circa 1972. (Yeh, i know my dad was a hunk). Next just the three kids, 1968. Then it's the kids again with two of our cuz's. Since I was the oldest, I had to be very serious and responsible, can't you tell from the 3rd pic :) ? We were all quite adorable, don't you think?

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Back in the garden, in the beginning, Adam worked and Eve helped (meaning, that she worked too I suppose). And that was before the fall, when everything was perfect, beautiful, and completely free of sin. Work was an act of joy - an act of praise and communion wih God. They didn't work for 1/3 of the day, play and enjoy creation for 1/3 of the day, and then worship God and pray for the last 1/3 of the day. They were doing all of that, all of the time! God's plan was perfect, beautiful, and functional - but not heavy laden... until... the curse.

After the fall, work did become a curse. And sin entered the world and caused stuff to get really muddled. But God still blesses his people with talents, gifts, and abilities that allow our work to sometimes also be fulfilling. Meaningful work that reflects God's image in us can be a joy, even though it is still saddled with pain and the thorns of pride, greed, envy, strife, and fear. Imagine what it must have been like for Adam and Eve in paradise, free from accusation and contempt. Although we are not as free as Adam and Eve, we are still image bearers who have the Holy Spirit as our Helper, who enables us to develop and use our gifts.

Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits...
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103 2.5

Despite the sin and falleness and brokeness that we see and experience in this world and in our own lives, God is still Good and Great and Gentle with us, desiring to give us good things (from an eternal perspective). He has not changed. And He has blessed us with many great benefits that we tend to forget. It's like my students. When they first join, they are given all the briefings and brochures that tell them everything that is available to them, all that they are entitled to as members of the organization. But they've got a thousand things on their minds and some of it just doesn't seem all that relevant at the time, so they forget. And often when they need to use the benefits the most, they can't even remember how to apply.

And so we need to actively REMEMBER His benefits and apply them. Realizing His wonderous benefits, we are motivated to praise Him with our words and deeds!

So, what about these benefits of his? Well, Jesus was the "Second Adam" and He lived perfectly. He loved perfectly. All of His work was done joyfully unto the Lord and it blessed others. He emptied Himself of His glory to suffer worse than a common criminal FOR US, on the cross. His work was the perfect performance. His act was the final work. As He said from the cross, "It is finished." All that the law required was accomplished by Him and through Him with His vicarious death for us. The price that had to be paid to redeem us from our helpless estate was paid in full.

How does that change work? Because all effort to work for the purpose of achievement, accomplishment, atonement has been fulfilled. And all work that is done strictly for wages has ended. The wages of our work, sin-ladened as it is, would only be death for us. But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ. Our "work" is an act of worship and submission motivated by the love of God in us. It is not so much work, as it is an act of gratitude and praise to our Heavenly Father. As an act of worship and praise, just imagine how much more excellent and wonderful our work is, in regards to both quantity and quality, than the person who is merely working for a wage - to pay back their employer that $10 per hour that they think they owe. Because the price we were bought with is so much more valuable than any currency, or silver or gold or any earthly treasure, we could never, never, ever pay it back to Him anyway.

So, to see all of work (as with all of life) an act of praise and worship that glorifies God is first and foremost freeing and it actually results in a much, much higher standard of excellence than our trying to earn or acheive something ever could. Consider Paul's words in Rom 12 just after he has unfolded all of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, His son:

Rom 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers (and sisters :-), in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Is it any wonder that this is the introduction to the section of Romans 12 on serving the Body of Christ and using our gifts to glorify God and bless other people? If only I could remember. If only I could live this. I do believe it! But Lord help my unbelief. Give me a renewed heart that lives this way at work and in the covenantal body of Christ.

I shared this with my neice Britney the other day too, because she is 18 and having a hard time deciding what to do about juggling college, a career, and a relationship. So, if her mom is reading this too, go ahead and tell me what you think of all my ramblings....

Love Song

This song from Third Day reminds me of last night's women's Bible study. We're in the book of Ruth, moving from chapter 3 to 4, and discussing Boaz and the rival kinsman-redeemer. From the other kinsman-redeemer's perspective Naomi's estate was much more of a liability than an asset, since he would risk his own estate and his own name just to redeem her and her Moabite daughter-in-law. So, he turned his sandal to Boaz in order to get out of what he thought was a really bad deal. At that point, Boaz's desire to be Ruth's go'el made absolutely no worldly sense.

The "transaction" would endanger his own estate and place his name at risk of being lost altogether. Yet, he loved Ruth and risked it all to be with her.

The picture of Boaz as redeemer to Ruth and Naomi is, of course, also a picture of Christ as our redeemer (on a much, much smaller scale).

Our redemption through Christ was much, much more costly. It was paid with His own blood. He gave up His own estate in glory to suffer here as a man for us, sacrificing His body on the cross. We were bought not with perishable things such as gold or silver or money, but by the precious blood of the spotless Lamb of God. He did what no other redeemer could ever do. He paid the full price for all of our sin. OH! to remember the costliness of the price of our sin.

Dr. Phil Ryken says about this picture of redemption is also a romance - a flesh and blood, covenantal love that worldly folk can never understand or comprehend. The covenantal love of Christ on the cross is just as intimate and loving as it is effectual. It is the mystery of marriage, he says. "As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will God rejoice over you." Now that we belong to Jesus, we no longer belong to ourselves. He has loved us with an everalasting love, taking on ALL of our liabilities and imputing - that is freely giving us - all of His assets, His righteousness, His glory -- because of His great love.

This song is sooo real today.

(Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. Haven't had time to sit and process everything the way I usually do.) Blessings in Christ!