Archive for June, 2010

This will not be a long post, but suffering, comfort, and ease have been things I have been thinking and meditating on a good amount in the last few weeks.

Pray for me as I continue to meditate and pray over these things.

But some questions that have been on my mind are such:

  • Do most Christians think suffering in their lives is abnormal or expected?
  • Do most Christians think that following Christ is comfortable and easy?
  • When suffering comes into our lives, are most Christians attitudes and strongest desires to figure out how to get out of suffering or to figure out how to glorify God and know God better in the midst of suffering?
  • Jesus was the Suffering Servant – if we are actively pursuing a life of comfort and ease, what does this reveal about who we are following as disciples?

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Acts 9:1-21

The all-powerful, sovereign, loving, and good God is able to save ANY sinner.

Do we REALLY believe this?  Or do we so often walk through our live and judge other people based on appearance and their current lives and we make the judgment how “close” or how “far” they are to becoming Christian?  Do we shy away from sharing the Gospel to certain people because we just “know” they aren’t really to hear it yet.

Acts 9:1-21 detail the conversion of Saul.  For so many people, we have read this story so many times that it is old news to us, and we have forgotten who Saul was when he was converted.   We most often just remember the new Paul and the great works he did for the kingdom, and we subtlety think that his conversion was relatively “expected.”

May Christians we refreshed by the divine sovereignty and power of God by meditating more on who Saul was before conversion and who Saul is after conversion.   There is no current atheist who hates God adamantly who cannot be instantaneously changed by the Gospel to being one who loves God.  The flaming atheist is no “further” from God’s grace then the one who may be “seeking” God in a Bible study.  Yes, it is God’s Word that creates life and saves people, but one person sharing the Gospel with the atheist could save him.

God is able to save ANY sinner!  Do we truly believe this?  If so, how should our lives be different?

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As a pastor, these chapters are incredibly sobering.  David is tempted by Satan to take a census of all the people in Israel.  While taking a census by itself is not the problem, the problem was the heart motivating the census.  David wanted to take a census after all his military conquests to see how big and great and powerful his army was.  In the early years when his army was tiny, David’s hope for military victory was in God.  Now, his hope turned more to the size of his army then the size of the all-powerful God who alone gives victory.

The most sobering part is God’s just discipline of David for his sin.  Because David is the king and leader over all of Israel, his sin affects everyone.  The plague the Lord sent killed 70,000 men of Israel.  And the destroying angel killed many more.

And David knew how his sin as a leader and king has so many more consequences then simply for himself.  David prays to God, “Was it not I who commanded the people to be numbered?  I am the one who has sinned and done evil indeed; but these sheep, what have they done?  Let your hand, I pray, O Lord my God, be against me and my father’s house, but no against Your people that they should be plagued.”

Yet, the reality stands.  Those who serve as a leader under God are held to higher account, and their lives and actions affect all those they lead.  This is a sobering reality as a pastor.  Sin is serious and dangerous period because it personally offends the all-glorious God.  And sin has harmful widespread effects.  May I and all pastors be vigilant to watch our lives and doctrines carefully.  And may all church members be devoted to pray for their pastors and their spiritual walk.

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Acts 6:1-15

As I read through the Scriptures, I am regularly humbled by the reality that things in God’s world is so different than the world of man, particularly dealing with roles, functions, and job.

In the world of man, a person’s role, function, and job often determines a person’s status and relative “worth” to other people doing other roles, functions, and jobs.  Specifically, if one person is in a position of authority over another, like a boss versus an employee, we tend to value and attribute more worth to the one in authority.

BUT, in God’s world, they are not correlated.  A person’s role, function, and job does NOT determine a person’s innate status and worth and even qualifications.  And this truth is reflected perfectly for all eternity in the Trinity.  In the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all fully God and equal as persons in the Godhead.  Yet, there is a beautiful authority and submission relationship among all three persons of the Godhead that doesn’t affect any of their complete God-ness.  God the Father is the ultimate authority.  God the Son joyfully submits to the Father and is the penultimate authority over the Spirit.  And God the Holy Spirit joyfully submits both to the Father and the Son.

We see similar things in Acts 6 when the apostles say that they should not give up their role and function to pray and teach God’s Word in order to serve tables.  Yet, the men they chose to serve tables had equal qualifications and worth.  They were men filled with the Holy Spirit and godly.  And if you see Stephen’s speech and preaching later in Acts, we definitely see that He is capable of preaching God’s Word too.  So role and function in God’s world does not translate to worth and value in God’s eyes.

Understanding the truth and interpreting the world with God’s revelation is vital to enjoying the authority and submissions structures God has set up in this world to display His character and His glory.  Role is NOT tied to value and worth.

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1 Chronicles 9-10

1 Chronicles 10 gives a brief recap of the Philistines defeating the Israelite army and killing King Saul.  The end of the chapter is powerful as God reveals why Israel lost and why Saul was killed by the Lord.  God killed Saul because he sinned against him.  Saul lost his entire kingdom and transferred it over to another lineage because of his sin.

Sin is always serious in God’s eyes, and even more so for those in leadership.  Another example is God’s humble servant Moses.  He had an extremely faithful life to God, yet, simply because Moses “struck” the rock when he was supposed to “speak” to it, God killed him, and Moses could not enter the Promised Land he had spent much of his life leading the people towards.

Sin is always serious in God’s eyes, and even more so for those in leadership.  Yet, one thing that strikes me is how LITTLE those in leadership have accountability and dedicated times to share their struggles, confess their sins, and to ask for prayer for personal holiness.  Every Christian needs God’s gift of the local church to grow in sanctification and to help fight against sin.  How much more the pastor of the church whose sin has much more serious consequences personally and corporately for the life of the church?

My prayer for myself and all other pastors is that we would be open, transparent, and honest with God’s gift to us, the very local church He has called us to shepherd and lead.

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One of our members had a link to her work’s website.  She works for a travel insurance company, and one question the website asked was our worst travel fears, which made me think about this question since I very recently just traveled on a plane.

I was traveling by myself on this trip, and particularly when I travel by myself, one of my worst travel fears is something happening to the plane and everybody dying, including me.  So whether it is an engine malfunction and the plane crashes.  Or whether it is the plane running into something and exploding in midair.  Or something else, but one of my worst travel fears is dying in the plane with everybody else and leaving my wife, child, and church behind.

Yet, as I reflected on this fear, I am comforted with my previous post about God’s self-sufficiency. God doesn’t need me and He will lovingly take care of my family (HIS FAMILY), the church (HIS CHURCH) with or without me.

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God is completely and fully self-sufficient.  God is the ONLY self-sufficient being in all the universe.  God needs NOBODY and NOTHING.

All creation needs God for life and sustenance.

I was freshly reminded of this last week while lying in a bed almost all week sick with my first bacterial infection in like 5+ years.  I’ve been sick before, but this one was tougher and longer than normal, and the medication I needed to take was a lot stronger than usual.  And during times of illness, it just so happens that one has lots of time to just think.  Here are just a few of them.

  • I am simply a vapor: here one brief moment and gone the next
  • I am weak and vulnerable.  Having “caught” something while sleeping on an airplane flying home, with some small bacteria, I went from having loads of energy to confined in a bed, sick.  How weak humans are.
  • I am worthless in the grand scheme of things.  God doesn’t “need” me for anything.  God’s work, His glory, His Gospel, and His kingdom will grow with or without me.  Very humbling.
  • God is the king of the church I pastor.  He doesn’t need me to be the pastor.
  • God is the king of the family He has entrusted to me.  He doesn’t need me to be the husband and father.
  • God is the king of the nations.  He doesn’t need me to magnify His name in all the nations.
  • God doesn’t need any person.
  • God doesn’t need any church.
  • God doesn’t need any denomination.
  • God is God and is fully self-sufficient.
  • The world and everything in it is HIS!
  • YET, God allows us and gives us the great JOY to partake in His work.
  • Since my life is but a vapor, I don’t want to waste it for God’s glory.
  • God’s self-sufficiency gives me the confidence that I can serve Him hard and rest well since He is in fully control!

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