Saturday, December 15, 2007

Acceptance Is Not By Condition

First of all, we must consider the area in which we are not accepted by God, nor ever can be. It is only natural for us to feel that our spiritual walk and service make us acceptable to our Father. We imagine that it is our responsibility (with His help) to live and serve so faithfully and fruitfully that He will approve of us, and therefore continually and abundantly bless us. We are making the natural mistake of depending on condition, instead of position, for our acceptance.

Important as it is, service is often a condition-centered detriment in the lives of many zealous believers. When service is given predominance over fellowship with and growth in the Lord Jesus, doing, instead of being, takes over in the life. Fellowship and growth must ever take precedence over service and activity, otherwise spiritual declension sets in.

In this reversal of God's order for us, the heart seeks satisfaction and a sens of acceptance through production (law), instead of reception (grace). Bible study and prayer, as well as one's outlook, become almost exclusively service-centered. Instead of life bringing forth service, service becomes the life. Thus, as long as the service goes well, the servant is happy and feels accepted. But once the service wanes, or fails to produce results, all else falls with it. We are to be sons, not servants. "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son..." (Gal. 4:7).

In time, we begin to realize that there is something very wrong with this entire concept. We become aware that our walk and service are less and less acceptable, even to ourselves. In seeking to do rather than to be, attempting to give out more than we take in, our condition becomes barren and carnal. We have been depending on self to do what only Christ our life can do; the farther we move on this tangent, the more active and malignant the self-life appears to be.

What the condition-centered believer does not realize is that God Himself is causing this shattering revelation of self. He takes us into situations and relationships that finally cause us to face up tot the fact of our failure as Christians—our nothingness, our total unacceptability in ourselves. Not until we understand that in our flesh there "dwelleth no good thing" (Rom. 7:18), can we rest in our position of complete acceptance in the Lord Jesus, just as we are. To abide in Christ, and to consent to be loved while unworthy, is the believer's positional privilege and responsibility. Love functions according to its nature, not according to the quality of its object.

The believer who is not abiding by faith in the acceptable One, but who is relying on his personal condition for acceptance, is hopelessly handicapped in the matter of fellowship, growth, and service. He is entangled in the self-effort of working to improve his condition, and is inevitably cast down in utter defeat. How can a defeated, depressed, self-centered Christian enjoy fellowship with the Father, or be at peace with Him? Yet, devastating as this Romans 7 trek is, it is our Father's preparation of us in order that we may shift our reliance and faith from our condition in ourselves, to our position in Christ. "...not I, but Christ..." (Gal. 2:20).

From The Complete Green Letters by Miles J. Stanford; Zondervan Publishing House, 1983; pages 91-92.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Abba, Thou Art There

While meditating on Psalm 139 and Psalm 63:6-8, I was moved to write a song. I believe it is from the Lord, for I have never found it easy to put together words that rhyme and convey the desired message.

Abba, Thou Art There

All my thoughts Thou knowest, all my ways canst see
Whether walking justly or full selfishly.
Thou, my Father guardest with Thy hand so strong
With wonder I will praise Thee as I walk along.

Whither from Thy Spirit can I ever go?
Furthest, deepest reaches—Thou my place dost know.
Though the billows hide me, cause me to despair,
Still Thy hand doth hold me, reaching even there.

Abba, Thou art there so close beside me!
Though the night surrounds me it's not dark to Thee!
I will Thee remember in my darkest hour,
Think on all Thy goodness and Thy loving pow'r.

Search me in my heart, my anxious thoughts please know;
Often they're not proper, faithlessness they show.
Lead me in Thy truth and guide me in Thy way
Till I'm come to glory in Thine eternal day.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Follow-up on "Doing Hard Things Starves the Flesh"

In the comments on the last post, Gracie said some things which got me thinking. Since my post was also featured on The Rebelution there was some good discussion which followed and I recommend to the readers of this blog. This post, however is to share the thoughts Gracie's comment provoked, and what the Lord has taught me on the subject.

In the months since I wrote the last post, I have learned first-hand that it is utterly impossible to rely on doing Hard Things to starve the flesh and "become godly." For the mature child of God especially, this is very much to be minimized.

My point was possibly more applicable to a less mature Christian. For example, parents may train their children to obey without asking questions. Unconditional obedience builds habits and behavior patterns that are extremely influential in a lifetime of things to come. There's no question that's good training. However, as a child grows older and more mature, it is increasingly important for the parents to back off on the legalistic do-it-because-I'm-your-father approach and in lenience test the young person's training and love for his parents.

This is what God does with us, too. When we were dead in sins, His commands were burdensome because they only showed us our incapacity to obey and brought condemnation upon us. When we place our faith in Christ's death on our behalf, our relationship with God is based on grace, not law (as Romans 7 says, we are now dead to the law).

Being based on grace, our relationship to God is not conditional upon our performance. I shall repeat: our relationship to God is not conditional upon our performance. He bought us while sinners; He will not "dump" us because we sin after we're saved.

My emphasis on doing in order to keep the flesh in subjection was undue. It is helpful only a little bit, especially, as I said above, in areas of more spiritual immaturity.

Moreover, this Doing to keep the flesh subject is of "no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh" (Col. 2:23).

Let's look at Colossians 2:20-23 (NASB)

"If [since] you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of this world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 'Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!' (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom [a good thing] in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." (Italics and brackets mine)
These verses speak of the things we need not and should not bother with if we have died with Christ. Notice that they are all things in the physical world (like Doing Hard Things). Admittedly, such things are easier to remember to do, and they appear to be wise things to do, but actually have no power in themselves against indulging in the fleshly lusts. I find they are ineffective for two reasons.

First, being things (Hard Things) we do with our physical bodies, in which is still the residual sin nature, they are in essence done with our bodies against our flesh. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when, with a subtle shift of focus, the become things done with our flesh against our flesh. You can immediately see the result: "if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mark 3:24).

Second, everything we do flows out of our spirit. Whether you do good or evil, "The good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things; the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things" (Matt. 12:35). Thus the decision to sin, to indulge in fleshly desires, comes from the spirit. And no matter what your body is doing, if you are inclined to sin, no self-abasement in the physical realm will prevent the sin. Therefore the safeguard against sin lies instead in the spirit, and not in the flesh!

While my original post was rather on the subject of Doing Hard Things, the subject was more about how to starve the flesh. But seeing from God's Word that Doing Things is ultimately of no use against fleshly indulgence, how can we overcome the flesh?

Gracie put it well in the comments when she wrote,

"[W]hen we are tempted to sin we can say, 'I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.' (Gal 2:20)"
That is the essence, I believe, of Paul's command to "reckon yourselves dead to sin" in Romans 6:11. Let's also look at this in the context of Colossians where we were.

Chapter 3 goes on to indicate growth in Christ and suppression of the flesh is effected in the unseen, spiritual realm to which we have been made alive: "seek the things that are above, where Christ is....Set your minds on things that are above." It’s not a physical activity required to prevent you from sinning; it’s a change of focus, a shift of reference point from the earthly to the realm to which you really belong: the heavenlies.

Romans 13:14 is also indicative: "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." Putting on the Lord Jesus is prerequisite to beating out the flesh.

Setting your mind on Christ, and knowing your life is hidden with Him in God—resting in the fact that nothing of your condition will affect your eternal position—is a primary cause of reckoning yourself dead to sin.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

BUCKIT Week—Tuesday, July 24

Wednesday, July 25, 2007 [writing about Tuesday, July 24]

Picking up where I left off, the first two sessions yesterday were taught by Craig and were about “Unfolding the Book of Romans.” Several helpful things we learned:
  1. Know what the book is about
  2. Master the doctrine of Romans and the language of John (both books are about the gospel; John gives it all in illustration and example. Craig did this: he would teach some deep things and then give an example that appeals to common sense and justice.)
  3. A kleptomaniac is not judged, when caught, because he is a kleptomaniac, but because of what he stole. We learn that God doesn’t punish us for being sinners, but for sinning. But the fact is that He did deliver us from both problems: the wrath of God (because of sinS) and the wreckage of Adam (we sin).
  4. We went over the witnesses of Creation, Conscience, and the Law in God’s courtroom. All of them are lower than God’s perfect standard, but we can’t even meet those!
  5. Belief is not a work meritorious of eternal life anymore than a bum on the street’s extending his arm to take a hamburger, that you graciously offer him, earns him the hamburger.
At the first break I was talking with Megan and Rachel H. and David about Japanese. Megan spent a school year in Japan and has been taking Japanese in college.

A few smiling faces during a break. :) Craig is the one standing in the middle.

During the lunch break (boxes and boxes of pizza brought in), I decided to hang out with Jeremiah. His prayers were very Bible-based and powerful, and I saw a heart for God in him. We had great conversation—Jeremiah, Daniel K., and me—discussing what we had learned and encouraging one another.

After the first two sessions we had several hours of free time. Daniel and Rachel were indicating going over to the mall here to pass out tracts and talk to people about the gospel. Frankly, I was terrified. But our group, minus Nathanael, drove over and prayed, then entered the mall.

The mall, viewed from the direction of the hotel.

Rachel and Jessica paired up, as did Arielle and Bethany. Daniel wanted to go off by himself, and that left me by myself. I saw Daniel got into a conversation with a man right away, but at every turn, when I saw someone sitting on a bench, I was reasoned my way out of doing anything. My time there was visibly unprofitable, except to show me how cowardly I am in beginning conversations about the gospel! Then I saw Jeremiah and Anna and was encouraged that others were there for evangelism too. Jeremiah soon was talking to a young man at a cellular phone kiosk. He is very outgoing...what an example! I also ran into Josiah and Megan, and David and Rachel H. They were all there and passed out a couple tracts, but Josiah felt like it was horrible, because of how little they did. I felt even worse about how I did, and I told them what happened with me.

My group returned to the hotel about 5:45—we were expecting to go somewhere for supper at 6:00. Daniel and I took a brief walk around the hotel, and we discussed the difficulty I had doing God’s work earlier. No revelatory solutions came of it, but it was good to talk. :)

When we had left the mall, Jeremiah was still talking to that fellow at the kiosk! We all left for supper without him. Transportation was the same as the previous evening: all those with cars drive past the entrance and all the people pile in, and we drive off. Supper was at El Ranchero, obviously a Mexican Restaurant. I sat in a booth in the corner with Nathanael, Josiah, and Daniel.

As we waited for the food and then ate, we talked about all the things that we had learned that day and the previous day, and just how different our lives could and probably should be. Like what are we doing here in America, living like Americans? Shouldn’t we be Christians? Let’s live more simply, giving up all the world craves, so that we can have more time or money or resources to devote to the Lord’s work. We discussed the treasures we lay up in heaven versus the treasures of earth; the importance of doing everything for God from the heart or else it’s useless; and we marveled that Jeremiah was still talking at the Mall! Josiah sent him a text message, but we never heard back from them, so we were continually amazed. After the meal was finished and we were still sitting there (while the whole group finished), Josiah encouraged us to pray for Jeremiah’s work for God over there. So at 8:00 all four of us prayed for him and for the week and for our lives and God’s glory. We prayed with power that God would save the young man today. What a great time of fellowship and marveling in the calling to which we have been called!

Nathanael and Josiah

Me and Daniel

When we got back, we found Jeremiah and Anna in the conference room with sandwich materials on the table. Jeremiah began telling us about his experiences.

The young man I saw him with, Collin, had not been sure whether we evolved or were created, and didn’t know if heaven and hell were real, physical places. Jeremiah asked if he had some time; he looked around and said, “I have all the time in the world!” (the mall was not at all crowded).

And he heard the complete gospel. Jeremiah said that he was able to incorporate things that we learned only hours before, as he talked with Collin. When he was done he asked him if all of what he said made sense.

“Man, that’s made the most sense of any religion I’ve ever heard,” was the reply.

Jeremiah and Anna made sure to get him a Bible, and Jeremiah is pretty sure the young man is now saved!

God gave him an open door with a man from another kiosk as they were leaving, and he stayed for another hour talking with a man who used to be in the churches, but who now suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, denying Jesus as the Son of God. The Lord was so faithful to bring to Jeremiah’s mind answers regarding evolution that he had heard many years before from Ken Ham, and there was nothing to which he had to say, “I don’t know.” Finally, despite this man’s talkative nature, the Lord impressed on Jeremiah to share his personal testimony with the man, whose name was Cory. God shut Cory up the whole time that Jeremiah told his testimony. As he said is usual while he shares how he was saved, Jeremiah was weeping, and at the end, the man had gone away quiet and with a changed countenance, having been upset from his mindset of denial.

Just think: God brought Jeremiah from Kentucky to Maryland to tell the gospel to these two people! I pray Cory also got saved.

Jeremiah shared more of the details before the whole group in a few minutes, just before the last session of the evening. When he had finished his account Craig asked someone to pray for Collin and Cory and the night’s session (it was now 9:00). The Lord moved me to pray, and during the prayer, I was overcome by God’s grace and goodness in bringing together things we had learned, and the power and love of God through Jeremiah. I couldn't help but break down in tears, and I didn’t care. I was praying to God, not to men. In my spirit I claimed in those two men’s salvation. I ended the prayer, just falling into the Father’s arms, praising Him. O Lord, to you be all glory and honor! May I decrease and you increase forever!

After the prayer, Jeremiah got up, came over, and gave me a hard hug. Craig suggested we sing “Thank You, Lord (for saving my soul).”

The last session was about some tips for presenting biblical truths, very helpful for newbies like me!

Afterward I noticed Rachel, Jessica, and Arielle retired immediately. It was kind of amusing, because it is so easy to get involved in conversations and go to bed late, that if you want any good amount of sleep, you have to not talk to anyone!

I went over to Josiah and Jeremiah again, and Nathanael was there again too. We talked some more, marveling over God’s work. Jeremiah suggested—since he was going to bed—that we commit our night to the Lord in prayer. Josiah began, then Nathanael, then Jeremiah, then I ended. It was another tearful and awe-struck prayer session! I feel such a bond with these brothers! God, your power is amazing, and we owe you everything. You loved us despite our deserving wrath, but we can’t love you even according to what you deserve! Thank you for the privilege to spread your love to the unlovable world.

Jeremiah went upstairs to spend time with his Lord and talk about the day with Him, while Josiah, Nathanael, and I decided to go for a walk. A young lady named Katie joined us after our prayer, feeling like she just missed something really important and deep. I felt sorry for her, because I have known what that’s like—walking in on the tail end of something so awesome and wishing I’d been there. So we invited her on our walk, and we walked probably a mile around the whole mall. She went in when we got back, but we men made lap after lap around the hotel while we talked some more. We must have walked four miles last night! What great fellowship!

I managed to get to bed at 11:30 and sleep seven hours. Nathanael stayed up talking about biblical things with Justin until 1:00 or so! What a sweet sleep, and a sweet remembrance of what God did yesterday. I am so thankful that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Monday, July 23, 2007

BUCKIT Week—Monday, July 23

Tuesday, July 24, 2007 [writing about Monday, July 23]

The pillows were very downy and squished down to thinner than I’m used to. I finally got to sleep about 12:00. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep past 6:00 am., so I managed to survive on six hours of sleep for the day. I took my Bible and notebooks outside for a while to spend time with the Lord. It was a little chilly, but refreshingly so. After a while of looking at the 1 Chronicles 17 passage I’m studying, I determined I needed to write some more down, so I set up the laptop computer back in our room, while Daniel and Nathanael went down to breakfast.

About 8:00 I myself breakfasted in the lounge with James A. from Georgia, Austin T. from North Carolina, and Leah R. from Georgia. It’s inexpressibly joyous to fellowship with these people! We come from all over but are as close as family.

A little past 9:30 the first session began. Jabe Nicholson is only here Monday and Wednesday this week, so we had three sessions in a row from Jabe. The first session was an introduction to Local Church Truths, concentrating on what God’s big idea for the church is:
  • man and God in intimate fellowship!
  • The church should be marked by supernatural love and supernatural power. We are to live lives so different that there is no way people can refute the existence of God. What an awesome responsibility!
We had a half-hour break after the first session. Daniel, Rachel, Nathanael, Bethany, Megan (from Maryland University), Rachel H., and Austin and I all were talking with Jeremiah M. about his upcoming tour with the Good News on the Move bus, and evangelism methods. It is so encouraging to see this eighteen-year-old’s zeal for the Lord and the gospel.

David and Jeremiah

The second session concentrated on culling church principles from the Acts, looking to what the early believers did before we look into the epistles. This was also insightful into the fundamentals that make up a church.
  • Patient waiting on the Spirit of God—so often we just run ahead with our ideas instead of really relying on the Holy Spirit.
  • Occupation with Christ—the early church was willing to die for the name of Christ. Everything they did was in His name, and everything they did therefore reflected well or evil of Christ.
  • Loyalty to the Word of God—they were faithful to show from the scriptures why Jesus had to die, and to point out Israel’s and everyone’s sin which separates them from God. The Word of God was their only authority; nothing was from their own opinions.
During the second break—in which we ate Chick-Fil-A brought in—I got to talk to Daniel G., an MK from Zambia. It was very interesting to hear about the mission field there: the struggles of the believers to overcome their cultural preference for going to the witch doctor or to buck their traditions and not conform to their close-knit communities. I know better how to pray for believers in Zambia now, and believers in more tribal kinds of cultures.

The third session involved some small-group discussions about hypothetical situations in which churches could begin. For instance, a remote tribe gets a hold of a Bible in their own language and is converted through reading God’s word. What do they do now? How will they form the church? They won’t be preprogramed with Western ideas of Church. This session, though long, was very informative. Very eye-opening about how little we need to “do church.”

For supper, we went up I-81 a couple exits to Ryan’s, a buffet restaurant. There was great food and fellowship. I got photos of all the tables of the BUCKIT Week attendees (below are most of them). We finished supper about 8:00.

Our teachers: Craig Shakarji, Jabe Nicholson, and Mike Flester

Me and Daniel K.

Rachel K. and Rachel H.

David, Jeremiah, Mike A., Jonathan, Austin

Jason, Andrew H., Shane

Sharon, Katie, John, Nathanael, Josiah

Mike and Jess R., me, Tami and Ozzie

Tiffany, Elspeth, Leah

Jeremy, James, Joe-Paul

Charlotte, Megan, Anna H., Elizabeth

Bethany, Arielle, Joyce, June

Back at the hotel I tried to figure out the wireless network on Mom’s laptop (on which I’m typing this) but to no avail. Nathanael and I traded photos we’d taken so far.

As you can see, the network problem was frustrating! :)

Craig had given us an assignment of a passage of Matthew to read and make observations about, so I tried to do that in the lounge. It proved too noisy to be fruitful, however, and I went back to the room to work on it. That worked! It was about 10:30 by the time I was done observing, and I was tired enough to go to bed, but lonely enough to return back to the lounge to see who was around and what was going on.

I found Nathanael, Daniel
G., Rachel and Anna H., Bethany, and Austin talking. It wasn’t long before Justin found and joined us and immediately wrested control of the conversation! I smile to think of it, because Justin is an extreme extrovert, and loves finding connections between other people to facilitate conversation. He’s so funny and inspiring. He makes me want to step out of my reserved shell.

(Clockwise) Bethany, Daniel G., Rachel H., me, Justin, Austin

After a good long time, it was down to Austin, Nathanael, me, Justin and Daniel Geesey. Justin, having no sisters good-naturedly grilled Nathanael on what it’s like to have eight sisters, and what
they are like. That kept us up until 12:30. I slept for six hours again, getting up this morning at 6:30.

[writing about Tuesday, July 24]

It’s almost time for the first session now, so I’m going to pause for now and pick this up later.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

BUCKIT Week—Sunday, July 22

Monday, July 23, 2007 [writing about Sunday, July 22]

Yesterday Rachel and Daniel K., Arielle H., Jessica S., Nathanael P.
, his friend Bethany W., and I drove down here to Hagerstown, Maryland for BUCKIT Week. BUCKIT stands for Bible University Christian Knowledge Intensive Training. We left directly from church on a 330 mile trip that took five and a half hours.

Arielle, Bethany, Rachel, Me, Nathanael, Jessica, Daniel

Everyone ate packed lunches while I drove the first section—from Newtown, Connecticut to I-78 in New Jersey. Then Rachel took over so I could eat. We swapped again when we were just past Harrisburg.

We arrived at the hotel about 6:45. The weather was absolutely beautiful—warm, not too humid, pink and blue clouds, and a light, warm breeze. Inside the lobby we met Craig Shakarji. I was glad Nathanael had met him before, or I wouldn’t have been sure who he was! He checked us in with his system and gave us the key cards to our rooms. Daniel, Nathanael, and I are all together; Rachel, Arielle, and Jessica are together; I’m not sure with whom Bethany is—she was assigned to a different room. We decided we’d check out our rooms, dump our luggage and meet back in a half hour to decide what to do for supper. Bethany and I bought some Quiznos salads, while everyone else ate some more food they brought.

We had an orientation session about 8:30 in the conference room. There were 40 to 50 people there. Craig went over some details of the week, and Mike Flester gave a quick, insightful encouragement about presenting the gospel to people.

About 9:30, that was over, and I got to talking with one of the young men here, Josiah M., who’s nineteen. I had left my toiletries at home, so I had to avail myself of the 24-hour Walmart Supercenter just north of us by an exit. I mentioned to Josiah that I was going there, and He expressed that he and some others also were headed over there. I offered the use of “my” van (really my family’s van) to go over there. He was grateful, and I ended up taking Josiah, his brother Jeremiah, a fellow named Shane, from California, and Rachel and Anna H. We were there until 11:00 and I didn’t get to bed until 11:30, but we had a great time talking in the car to and from Walmart. Christian fellowship is so amazing!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Doing Hard Things Starves the Flesh

Alex and Brett Harris have chosen ¨Do Hard Things¨as the motto, or ¨battle cry,¨of The Rebelution. You can read more about what Do Hard Things means here.

As I was musing on the subject of Hard Things recently, I thought of a practical reason to Do them.

What's the opposite of Doing Hard Things? That's right: Doing Easy Things.

Doing easy things feeds the flesh. Playing computer games in free time when I could write to missionaries, tinkering on the guitar instead of cleaning my room, even building a web site instead of following up on that business lead I got—all these feed the base desires of the flesh for pleasure and self-satisfaction.

Regular election to do easy things builds a habit of feeding the fleshly pleasures. Therefore it hinders my fellowship with God throughout the day.

It's analogous to desiring good health and nutrition. Eat a fruit at breakfast or be sure to include a few carrot sticks in lunch, but otherwise eat sugary, frosted, refined-grain, and deep-fried foods. You still wish to be healthy, but by choosing all the foods that "taste good," you are actually choosing not to have good health.

Doing Hard Things, on the other hand, is choosing to eat healthful foods. It builds habits of starving the flesh, suppressing that hindrance to a closer walk with God.

Paul even did this in 1 Corinthians 9:27—
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Why do Hard Things? To keep the flesh in subjection (or at least to keep out of fleshly habits that keep you from God) so you can have a more effective relationship with God. Doing Hard Things in mundane aspects of life also builds discipline for doing hard "spiritual"* things like sharing the gospel with strangers.
Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

*I put spiritual in quotes because all of our lives ought to be spiritual! See Romans 8.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

"Facing the Giants" Review

Eight months ago, I wrote about the movie "Facing the Giants." No theaters northeast of Philadelphia were showing it, so I never got to see it. But my family recently bought the DVD.

Initial reaction
Best. Movie. Ever.

It was inspiring, it was heartbreaking, it was funny. A lot of movies can be those, but because of the overt reliance on God portrayed in the movie, it overwhelmingly surpasses any other secular or "undercover Christian" film. ("The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" excepted, since I haven't yet seen it. I'm sure it's great too.)

This movie was the most realistic to my experiences, because God was a part of the character's daily lives. "Family-friendly" secular movies, though good, do not have this aspect, and they are utterly devoid of importance compared to "Facing the Giants."

Faithful representation of truth
One thing I especially appreciated was that biblical truths were realistically portrayed. Usually you must die to your dearest desires before the Lord will bless you.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." (John 12:24)
Another truth was that you can't just ask God to bless the football team and expect amazing changes if your heart is not devoted completely to Him. God won't just give you what you want because you're saved. You must be completely, honestly, given to the Lord in all areas of your life.

Things I got out of it
Another thing that made this movie different from all others is that it is truly inspirational. It challenged me: am I going to give God my best? Will I be a leader even when I'm weak?

I was impressed also with the idea that we are to entrust all outcomes of situations to God, sacrificing what we want, but still give Him our best efforts.

Then praise Him no matter what, because He led us.

This is pictured in a quote from the character of Mr. Bridges: "I heard of a story of two farmers praying to God for rain to come. Both prayed but only one prepared the land. Who do you think trusted God more to send the rain?"

Favorite quotes
All these quotes reveal what truths impacted me. There are so many ways they can be applied to daily life!

Coach Taylor to his wife, Brooke:
"If the Lord never gives us children, will you still love Him?"

"So you think God does care about football?"
Coach Taylor: "I think He cares about your faith; He cares about where your heart is. If you live your faith out on the football field, then yes, God cares about football because He cares about you."

Coach Taylor: "But it's not just out on the football field: we've got to honor Him in our relationships, in our respect for authority, in the classroom—and when you're home alone surfing the Internet."

Coach Taylor: "[In order for God to do great things with this team,] we need to give Him our best in every area. And if we win, we praise Him; and if we lose we praise Him. Either way. We honor Him with our actions and our attitudes."

Coach Taylor: "Your attitude is the aroma of your heart. If your attitude stinks, it means your heart's not right."

Coach Taylor: "I've resolved to give God everything I've got and leave the results up to Him."

Brooke Taylor to God: "I will still love you, Lord!"

Coach Taylor to Brock: "This is when it matters most. I know you're tired. It's easy to lead when you're strong, but now is when you lead! Right now!"

Coach Taylor to David: "Your job is to do the best you can and leave the results up to God."

Oh what joy is possible when we seek to honor and glorify God with everything we have—from the secret places of our hearts to every attitude and action!

Recommended Reading

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

The Complete Green Letters by Miles Stanford
Are you tired of typical Christianity and want to push on into a deeper relationship with the Lord? An excellent encouragement to every Christian, The Green Letters explains deep truths of faith, position and condition, justification and assurance, reconciliation and acceptance, and how they apply to our daily lives.

Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot by Elisabeth Elliot
This biography of Jim Elliot, who was martyred while spreading the gospel to a savage tribe, is an inspiration to anyone who is sick of the average Christian life. Jim dedicated his life to the Lord, and the Lord led him where He wanted him to go, regardless of the opinions of men. Jim's life is a good example for all who want to walk godly.

Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot
This is the record of Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Pete Fleming, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian's work with the Indian tribes of Ecuador, and their joint effort to reach the savage Aucas with the gospel. Though they died young, the Lord was leading them, and rewarded their dedication to Him by bringing them home.

Preparing Sons (to Provide for a Single-Income Family) by Steven Maxwell
Based on the content, I think this would be better titled Preparing Sons for Life. Mr. Maxwell makes some excellent observations about what things to train in your sons at various stages in their lives, so that they will grow up to honor the Lord. Challenging, with a godly, biblical perspective, this is a book every father should read, as well as any wise young man who is willing to work these things out in his own life. Read my complete review

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Trial of No Trials

When there are no trials it is easy to forget God in the daily routines. Our flesh says, "I can handle it," and indeed we don't acutely feel the need to entrust all to the Lord. Things are "under control."

But we think they are under our control. Oh how deceitful the flesh!

When things are good, they are not good on my account, not by my cleverness. Good times may be "leftovers" of God's most recent blessing that I actually acknowledged as from Him.

When things are bad, and we see easily they are out of our control, we turn to God for help—as if He is only there to help us when we can't help ourselves. The facts are, however, He is always there for us, and all things are out of our control.

"You do not know what a day may bring forth" (Prov. 27:1); commit it to the Sovereign Lord as early as possible. Release it from your grip and give it wholly to Him. Thank Him for the good times and prosperity, lest you take past days back from His Lordship and increase your own lordship in your mind. Let every day be lived like the one of great trials—entrusting all to God's wisdom and providence—and He shall increase and you shall decrease.

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."

I'm Back, etc.

As we as semi-bloggers say, I have not fallen off the face of the earth! And don't even consider that semi-blogger means semi-annually! :)

Anyway, I apologize for not posting sooner than the four months that have passed. For one thing, I have consistently had trouble logging in to Blogger. I finally thought to Google the problem and found this extremely helpful article…and behold, I have returned!

As I start this back up again, I pray the things expressed in this blog honor the Lord and inspire you in pursuit of God.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Scintillate, scintillate, globule vivific,
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific.
Loftily placed in the ether capacious,
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous.

(A.P. Gibbs uses this as an example of how unproductive it is to use big words and unnecessary phraseology in his book The Preacher and His Preaching.)

Oh, what does it mean? It's just another way of saying "Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lesson on Faith and God's Provision

"...they tested the LORD, saying, 'Is the LORD among us or not?'"
Exodus 17:7

Of course the Lord was with them. They but had to remember that they use to be slaved in Egypt; that they walked through the Red Sea; that God gave them water at Marah; that He provided manna every day so they would not die.

All they had to do was remember, and they would see the Lord was with them. Instead, they lived in the present, forgetting what God did for them. They wanted their needs met NOW, but God wanted them to learn to trust Him. He had not yet put them in circumstances that He did not deliver them from. But they were too focused on themselves to remember that.

May the Lord help us also, lest we forget all that He has done. God doesn’t overlap His provision: ——
He separates them: ——— ____
In this, at the end of the first provision, He is testing us, to see if we will question Him or trust Him. If we walk in His presence, this separation of provision will keep us trusting Him, dependent on Him for our lives, glorifying Him.

Written March 5, 2005

Saturday, January 13, 2007

How? By Faith

In all areas of life I find myself more frequently asking "how?" How do I set goals? How do I achieve a goal? How do I fit in time for Bible study, devotions, prayer, family, work, and e-mail and the Rebelution Forum?

I keep returning to two principles:
  • "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:9)
  • "And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20)
2 Corinthians 12:9 is the principle contained in the song Grace: "
Your will cannot lead me where your grace cannot keep me." No matter what the circumstances may be, God has allowed them and given His grace so that we can pass through. But such grace-filled passage is only attained when we put our faith in that promise. "Live by faith" is not an abstract concept, but utterly practical! Faith is founded on fact: "My grace is sufficient for thee."

So there is the answer to all the "how" questions I have: "How? By faith in the Son of God."

How much easier is that life entrusted to God in every daily detail!