Friday, March 26, 2010

You "Dishonor" Jesus if you Serve Him

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45)
Jesus emphatically says he did not come to be served. The implication from this is that, if we serve Jesus we are dishonoring him and rather sinning. Jesus came to serve and not to be served. So we should NOT serve Jesus because he delights to work for those who wait for him (Isa 64:4). Jesus takes delight in working for those who belong to him. He is not served (Acts 17:26). He made us, he will carry us and save us so that the glory will be to him and not to us (Isaiah 46:3–5; Rom 11:36). Jesus does not want to be served, he desires to serve. 
If Jesus does not want to be served and it is dishonoring to serve him, how can we then obey the commands to serve (Ps 2:11; 100:2; Jer 30:9; Rom 12:11)? If we are commanded to serve, and yet we are told that Jesus came not to be served, then there must be a way of serving that is NOT serving. How can we serve him and not dishonor him or serve such that he is the one serving? Peter instructs us how we can serve such that Jesus is the one serving. “Whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet 4:11). According to Peter, the way to serve such that Jesus remains our Servant is to serve by receiving. We serve Jesus by allowing him to serve us or receiving all the grace to serve from him and allowing this grace to work through us (1 Cor 15:10). Only this kind of service brings glory to Jesus. Serving this way means a holy dependence on him in prayer and acknowledging that without him we can do nothing. Let us serve by being served.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Persecution in India: These Are Your Brothers and Sisters

“Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb 11:36–38)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Resolutions for the use of the Tongue By Sinclair Ferguson

The book of James has at least 20 resolutions that need to be part of the Christian’s covenant with God about how the believer is going to employ the tongue and lips, and master the heart in such a way that the beauty of Jesus is expressed:
  1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him (1:5).
  2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ (1:9-10).
  3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth (1:13).
  4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak (1:19).
  5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor (2:1-4).
  6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment (2:12).
  7. I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ (2:16).
  8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience (3:14).
  9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified (4:1).
  10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism (4:11).
  11. I resolve never to boast in any thing but what I will accomplish (4:13).
  12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God (4:15).
  13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door (5:9).
  14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say (5:12).
  15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer (5:13).
  16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful (5:14).
  17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need (5:14).
  18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed (5:15).
  19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them (5:15).
  20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander (5:19).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why Are We So Offended All the Time? By Kevin Deyoung

Let me start with the caveats. Many people suffer at the hands of others. The world can be unfair, at times mercilessly so. Millions of people in the world are genuine victims, right now. All of us will be at some point, whether it’s for small matters or large, for a long duration or short.

But we aren’t all victims, not all the time anyway, not for everything.

Offendedness is just about the last shared moral currency in our country. And, I’m sorry, but it’s really annoying. We don’t discuss ideas or debate arguments, we try to figure out who is most offended. Buddhists are offended by Brit Hume. Christians are offended that critics disparage Brit Hume. Republicans are offended by Harry Reid’s comments about President Obama. If the shoe were on the other partisan foot, you can bet Democrats would be offended for President Obama (who can legitimately be offended by Reid’s remarks). Whenever someone makes a public gaffe, whether real or perceived, critics storm the microphones to let the world know how offended they are. Why is everyone in such a hurry to be hurt?

For starters, being hurt is easier than being right. To prove you’re offended you just have to rustle up moral indignation and tell the world about it. To prove you’re right you actually have to make arguments and use logic and marshal evidence. Why debate theology or politics or economics if you can win your audience by making the other guys look like meanies?

There’s nothing like being offended to nail your opponent. No one wants to look like a jerk (ok, maybe Donald Trump does). No one wants to come off as a free-wheeling dealer of pain. As a result, we end up held hostage by the possible taking of offense. It’s rarely asked whether such offense is warranted or whether it even matters. No, if there is offense, there must be an offender. And offenders are always wrong.

So we demand apologies. Sometimes, no doubt, because a genuine sin has been committed. But often we demand apologies just because we can. It’s a way to shame those with whom we disagree. It forces them to admit failure or keep looking like a weasel. The weakest offense-taker can now bully multitudes of intelligent men and women through the emotional manipulation that goes with chronic offendedness.

We live in an emotionally fragile culture. We are in touch with every hurt past, present, and perceived. We are the walking wounded and we want everyone to know. Which is too bad, because when people are genuine victims–profoundly, egregiously wronged–they deserve not to be lumped in the same category with those who got picked last for kickball or turned down for their church’s “special music.”

As Christians, we worship a victimized Lord. We should expect to suffer and should have particular compassion on those who hurt emotionally and physically. But we do not resemble the Suffering Servant when we take pains to show off our suffering. I’m not thinking of the Brit Hume ordeal now. I’m just thinking in general how we are tempted to gain the culture’s approval by playing the culture’s offense-taking game. If a law is broken or a legitimate right taken away, let us protest with passion. But if we are misunderstood or even reviled let’s not go after short-lived and half-hearted affirmation by announcing our offendedness for the world to hear. Every time we try to make hay out of misplaced calumnies, we hasten the demise of Christianity in the public square. As offendedness becomes the barometer of acceptable discourse, we can expect further marginalization of Christian beliefs.

So buck up brothers and sisters. Most often in this country, we are not victims because of our faith. There are just as many people, it seems to me, standing to Brit Hume’s defense as they are pillorying him. Let every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the world be crushed to (phony) emotional pieces when their ideas are scrutinized. We can chart a different course and trust that our beliefs can handle Keith Olberman’s disapproval. We have no reason to be anxious, every reason to be joyful, and fewer reasons than we think to be offended.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Difference that Jesus the Temple Makes (Ezra 6:13-15)

This is a sermon I recently preached at BBC chapel. Listen and enjoy Jesus with me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Carson’s Counsel to a Young Church Planter on Marriage Situations

The following post was first an email to a young church planter seeking counsel. He is planting a church in a rough area. Not a few of those who are getting converted have been living together, sometimes with children, sometimes for years, without getting married. His question, then, is what should be said to these couples where one of the pair gets converted, and the other, so far, does not. Should the advice be to get married? Or is that encouraging people to be unequally yoked?

Read the entire article

Friday, December 4, 2009

The "Goodness" of Demonic Accusations

“Neither let your own accusing conscience, nor Satan the accuser of the brethren, hinder you any longer from Christ. For what though they should accuse you of pride, infidelity, covetousness, lust, anger, envy, and hypocrisy? Yea, what though they should accuse you of whoredom, theft, drunkenness, and such like?

Yea, do what they can, they can make no worse a man of you than a sinner, or chief of sinners, or an ungodly person; and so, consequently, such a one Christ came to justify and save; so that in every deed, if you do rightly consider it, they do you more good than hurt by their accusations.”

—Edward Fisher, The Marrow of Modern Divinity (Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2009), 150-51

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fill Your Affections With the Cross of Christ

“When someone sets his affections upon the cross and the love of Christ, he crucifies the world as a dead and undesirable thing. The baits of sin lose their attraction and disappear. Fill your affections with the cross of Christ and you will find no room for sin”–– John Owen


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is it Biblical to direct thanks to men?

One of the most common phrases I hear today is “thank you” directed toward people who have done some thing for another person. The question I am attempting to address is this, “Is there any Biblical basis for giving thanks to people for what they have done?” The Bible is replete with thanksgiving to God, but almost never is thanksgiving directed to man. It seems that the early church and the Old Testament saints recognized that every little act of goodness done towards another was ultimately God at work, so these saints learned to direct their gratitude to God and not to man. A few examples: 
In The Old Testament, it seems that thanksgiving is always directed to God
“And it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever”” (2  Chr 5:13).
“For long ago in the days of David and Asaph there were directors of the singers, and there were songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Neh 12:46). (see also Lev 7:12–13, 15; 22:29; 1  Chr 16:7; 25:3; 2  Chr 5:13; 33:16; Neh 12:8, 46; Ps 26:7; 50:14, 23; 69:30; 95:2; 100:4; 107:22; 116:17; 147:7; Isa 51:3; Jer 30:19; Amos 4:5; Jonah 2:9; 1  Chr 16:8, 34–35, 41; 2  Chr 7:3, 6; 20:21; 30:22; 31:2; Ezra 3:11; Neh 11:17; 12:24, 31, 38, 40; Ps 7:17; 9:1; 28:7; 30:4, 12; 33:2; 44:8; 54:6; 57:9; 75:1; 79:13; 86:12; 92:1; 97:12; 100:0, 4; 105:1; 106:1, 47; 107:1; 108:3; 109:30; 111:1; 118:1, 19, 28–29; 122:4; 136:1–3, 26; 138:1–2, 4; 140:13; 142:7; 145:10; Isa 12:1, 4; 38:19; Jer 33:11; Dan 2:23; 6:10)
In the New Testament, it seems that thanksgiving is always directed to God
“But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruitsto be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth” (2  Thess 2:13).
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (2  Thess 1:3).
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1  Cor 1:4).
“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed” (Rom 6:17). (See also Matt 15:36; 26:27; Mark 8:6; 14:23; Luke 2:38; 17:16; 22:17, 19; John 6:11, 23; Acts 27:35; Rom 1:21; 6:17; 7:25; 14:6; 1  Cor 1:4; 10:30; 11:24; 14:16–17; 15:57; 2  Cor 1:11; 2:14; 8:16; 9:15; Eph 1:16; 5:20; Col 1:12; 3:17; 1  Thess 1:2; 5:18; 2  Thess 1:3; 2:13; Rev 4:9; 11:17; 1  Cor 14:16; 2  Cor 4:15; 9:11; Eph 5:4; Phil 4:6; Col 2:7; 4:2; 1  Thess 3:9; 1  Tim 4:3–4; Rev 7:12; Heb 12:28; Luke 18:11; John 11:41; Rom 1:8; 1  Cor 1:14; 14:18; Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; 1  Thess 2:13; 1  Tim 1:12; 2  Tim 1:3; Phlm 1:4)
Thanks to Men?
There are three texts in the New Testament where thanksgiving is seemingly directed towards men. The first is in Luke 17:1–10, and according to 17:10, the point Jesus is making is that masters do not thank their servants. Servants are unworthy of thanksgiving because they only do what is required of them, thus they don’t deserve thanksgiving for something that’s already expected of them. So it is with all Christians since every good work we do was prepared beforehand by God for us (Eph 2:10). 
The second instance is Acts 24:3 where Tertullus deceitful expresses gratitude (by flattery) to Felix in order to have Paul killed. However, Tertullus is a God–despiser who is seeking to kill God’s servant and should not be a model for us to follow. 
The most significant text to consider in this section is Romans 16:4. The ESV renders it as “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.” (Rom 16:3–4). Based on the ESV, it seems Paul and the churches are expressing thanks to Prisca and Aquila. But given the overwhelming evidence of Paul’s rendering of thanks only to God for people and never to people, it is possible that the thanks in Romans 16:4 is directed to God as well. I propose that the use of the dative relative pronoun oi[v is what Wallace calls “dative of reference” (Wallace 144). If it is a dative of reference then the verse should be rendered “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, about whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles as well.” With this reading, it means that Paul and the Gentile churches are giving thanks to God in reference to the work of Prisca and Aquila. James Dunn renders it as “for whom  not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles” (James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9–16, 892-893.) If Dunn and I are correct, then we can conclude that Paul always direct thanks to God for what He is doing in and through the churches and her members.  
If, as shown above, the Bible is replete with thanksgiving only to God and if my data is correct, how then should we express gratitude today? Here’s what I propose: since we know that whatever good we do is done with the power that God supplies (1 Pet 4:21), and all that we are and have is a gift of God (John 3:27; 1 Cor 7:4), we should rather thank God for each other instead of thanking ourselves. Maybe we should say like Paul, “I thank God for you.” If all things are from God, then thanksgiving should be directed to God. 
Therefore, we should not be peeved if people do not express thanksgiving to us because we are not worthy to be thanked. God intends for all praise and gratitude to culminate in him and not in us “for from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever Amen” (Rom 11:36).
Thanking God for you all


Friday, October 9, 2009

Chuck Swindoll: 10 Leadership Lessons Learned in 50 Years of Leadership

Chuck Swindoll, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award at Catalyst 09, offered the following lessons he has learned:

  1. It’s lonely to lead. Leadership involves tough decisions. The tougher the decision, the lonelier it is.
  2. It’s dangerous to succeed. I’m most concerned for those who aren’t even 30 and are very gifted and successful. Sometimes God uses someone right out of youth, but usually he uses leaders who have been crushed.
  3. It’s hardest at home. No one ever told me this in Seminary.
  4. It’s essential to be real. If there’s one realm where phoniness is common, it’s among leaders. Stay real.
  5. It’s painful to obey. The Lord will direct you to do some things that won’t be your choice. Invariably you will give up what you want to do for the cross.
  6. Brokenness and failure are necessary.
  7. Attitude is more important than actions. Your family may not have told you: some of you are hard to be around. A bad attitude overshadows good actions.
  8. Integrity eclipses image. Today we highlight image. But it’s what you’re doing behind the scenes.
  9. God’s way is better than my way.
  10. Christlikeness begins and ends with humility.