psalm 16… refreshing

Psalm 16 ends with this

“you make known to me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Everyone wants that type of satisfaction and happiness, but not everyone knows where you find it.  Notice where David finds it. The first two verses of the Psalm state “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” “

David finds guidance for life, fullness of joy, and pleasures forever in the loss and denial and abandon of himself and the all out surrender and trust in God.

All alone and left to ourselves, there is nothing good. Finding ourselves in God, everything begins to make sense!

try to get this christmas book

A few years ago, I got this book and absolutely loved it. I now get back into it every year at Christmas time. It is an advent devotional book. Nancy Guthrie has taken sermon excerpts from many of the greats and compiled it into one wonderful small volume. Some of the people she has taken from are Charles Spurgeon, Saint Augustine, John MacArthur, John Piper, Joni Erickson-Tada, Martin Luther, and so on. It is phenomonal!

You can buy it here on Amazon for $8. I really recommend this book.

Agnew on problem with ‘Radical’

I went to college with Travis Agnew. I loved him then, and I love him now. (even though we do not talk much)

Click here to read his short but very very good article on his problem with David Platt’s new book Radical. (It is a good problem.) Many of us need to hear what he is saying.

Please take time to check it out.

humility quote

Jonathan Edwards:

“A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble brokenhearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires; their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behavior.”

Wow! That is our prayer. God, please give hearts like this!

what sports taught me about life

As I grow up I am seeing more and more that the many things I learned from playing sports while growing up, actually have helped me a great deal in life. Here are 4 phrases that mean a lot. These phrases came from my years in basketball, but they certainly apply to life as well.

  1. Pressure can bust a pipe. Pressure can be very hard. Life is full of pressure. Life is hard. It all depends on how we handle the pressure that will determine whether or not it busts us. Life is hard, not horrible. When we make bad decisions, the pressure can bust us,  and then a hard life becomes horrible.
  2. Never too high, never too low. In our good days, we know worse days are coming. In our worst times, we know better times are coming. The key is to remain steady and constant. Don’t be influenced by your surroundings or circumstances.  Decide who you want to be… and then be that person. Don’t allow people, or stuff, or circumstances cause you to be too high or too low. Instead, stay steady.
  3. When you lose, say little. When you win, say less. It is always wise to let your words be few. Let your life and actions do the talking. If you lose, don’t make excuses. In fact, say very little. If you win, Don’t talk about it. It has always been true… Actions speak louder than words.
  4. Next one in. When I would do hours and hours of shooting drills, my coach would make us yell out “next one in” after every single miss. (I have already taught JJ this when we are practicing shooting on his mini hoop.) Saying this caused us to quickly forget the miss and quickly look on to making the next shot. It taught me optimism. It taught me confidence. It taught me to not let something bad, like a missed shot,  discourage me too much. There is always another shot coming, and if I am effected by the last miss then I will be no good for the future shots. Therefore, in our struggles, we press on, looking to whats next… better things.

I believe sports are powerful. They were powerful in my life. These four phrases helped me then in sports, and more importantly they help me now in life.

Christmas Candlelight Service

On Sunday evening, December 19th at 6:00pm, our church will be having a Candlelight Christmas Service.

This will be a delightfully warm service centered on the love and forgiveness of Jesus. We will sing Christmas songs, Read Christmas passages from the Bible, light candles, and soak in all that God has in store for us this Christmas season.

I am asking all of our people to make plans to have your entire family at this meaningful service.

3 steps to godliness

Obviously, there are not 3 steps to make you godly.

But the pursuit of holiness and godliness is something to be desired by every redeemed child of God. I am often asked by the younger disciples…’how to become more godly?’

While it is a long process… and we will never really get there this side of heaven… and it is a work of the Holy Spirit, there is some Biblical instruction.

In James chapter 1, we have 3 steps in the right direction. James says in 1:26-27 that if you want your religion to be pure and undefiled before God the Father and not worthless, then do these 3 things.

  1. Bridle your tongue (our words reveal our hearts. when you cuss and curse and gossip and slander, you are showing how dirty your heart is. even if what you are saying is somewhat true.)
  2. visit widows and orphans in their affliction (our attention and concern to those who are truly needy is crucial to being the real church)
  3. keep yourself unstained from the world (the world is opposed to God in its sinful rebellion. is it impacting you or are you impacting it? even if its not killing you, is it staining you?)

Again, this isn’t the only way to be godly. Its not as easy as 1,2,3, but this is a great step in the right direction.

How are you doing in these three areas?

what are you excited about it?

D.A. Carson:

“If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel.

If the gospel—even when you are orthodox—becomes something which you primarily assume, but what you are excited about is what you are doing in some sort of social reconstruction, you will be teaching the people that you influence that the gospel really isn’t all that important. You won’t be saying that—you won’t even mean that—but that’s what you will be teaching. And then you are only half a generation away from losing the gospel.

Make sure that in your own practice and excitement, what you talk about, what you think about, what you pray over, what you exude confidence over, joy over, what you are enthusiastic about is Jesus, the gospel, the cross. And out of that framework, by all means, let the transformed life flow.”

position in Christ, or not

The Bible only tells of us two positions that people can be in spiritually:

  1. For God in Christ
  2. Not for God

In our life experiences, this often is muddy or hard to distinguish. For we all know good people who are not committed to God, but they really seem to be good people. And we also know Godly people who have done some bad things. And of course, there are numerous situations in between those two too.

But when we look into the Bible, God’s Word never tells of any other positions possible than the two named above. All people are either 1) For God in Christ or 2) Not for God. Biblically speaking, it is as simple as that.

As we try to figure out which of the two we are, we should know that the Bible teaches that #2 (Not for God) is the default position. All people began that way. If you are #1, it is because God has done a gracious work in you. If you are not sure, then you are probably still in the default position, Not for God.

In John 3:16-36, we have this default position explained well. There are 4 points:

  1. ‘Not for God’ because you’re perishing (v. 16)
  2. ‘Not for God’ because you’re condemned…already (v.18)
  3. ‘Not for God’ because you don’t have new life (v.36)
  4. ‘Not for God’ because the wrath of God remains on you (v.36)

In 3:16, the Bible says whoever believes in Jesus can have eternal life instead of perishing because perishing is the default position. That means you are ‘not for God’.

In 3:17-18, the Bible says Jesus did not come into the world to condemn world but instead to save the world. He did not come to condemn it because it is condemned already. The world is ‘not for God.’

In 3:36, the Bible says whoever believes has eternal life but whoever does not obey shall not see life. The reason being that belief will bring new life, and the absence of belief and obedience leaves you in the default position without life and ‘not for God.’

And in 3:36, the Bible says if you do not believe then the wrath of God remains on you. Not that it may come to you late, but that it remains on you now. That is because the default position for all people is being ‘not for God.’

Now lets look at the first position, #1 ‘For God in Christ.’ In Philippians 3:12-16, we will see this #1 position explained well. There are 4 points:

  1. pressing on to be ‘For God in Christ’ (v.12)
  2. straining forward to be “For God in Christ’ (v.13)
  3. pressing on toward the goal of being ‘For God in Christ’ (v.14)
  4. holding true to being ‘For God in Christ’ (v. 16)

To summarize all 4 points, the default position is strong, but God in His grace calls people out of death and into life. Out of darkness and into light. When God does this, saves someone, they go from being ‘Not for God’ to being ‘For God in Christ.’ And being ‘For God in Christ’ has a very distinct look. It is a pressing on, straining forward, and holding on tight. If ever one decides to let go, the fall right back to the default position. Sadly, it happens far too often. Why? Because people don’t understand the Bible’s claim that there are only 2 positions. One is the default position and it is not a good one. The other one is Awesome, but it is a holding on tight for sake of saving your life.

If someone was drowning in a fast moving river and a helicopter came to rescue them, the helicopter would drop the rope with the float at the end and yell__________! What would they yell? We all know. They would yell “GRAB ON!” And once the person grabbed on, they would yell___________! What would they then yell? We all know. They would yell “HOLD ON TIGHT!” At the very moment that they let go, they would fall back into the water and die.

So is the Good News of Jesus, do not stay in the default position of being ‘Not for God.’ Instead, Grab hold of Him and the forgiveness of sins he gives, and do not let go. Hold on Tight to Him and so prove to be ‘For God in Christ.’