Category Archives: Jesus

Philippians 4 – Standing Firm in Christ

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Mess or Masterpiece

We have an ongoing joke in my family about my desire to stay clean.  There have been countless instances where me and my father-in-law have decided to tackle another project around the house and when we are finished, he looks like he’s been playing in the mud and I look like I watched him from a distance.  Now, I’m all about working hard and don’t mind getting dirty… I just don’t like to stay dirty.  In all honesty, if there’s a way for me to not get dirty, I’ll more than likely opt for the clean option.

The reality of life is that you can only do that so long.  You can only try to avoid getting your hands dirty for so long before you have no choice but to jump in.  As I reflect on my life, I find that more times than not, I fight for order.  “I must stick to the plan.”  I am a very analytical person by nature.  Not much of a risk taker.  I make calculated decisions, or at least try to.  So when “plans” change, it’s not always easy.

The truth is that the Gospel calls us into the mess.  The Gospel informs us to continue to move from our state of brokeness and run to Jesus.  So we are constantly moving closer to Jesus.  Before you know it, life gets messy… and quick.  Relationships change.  Plans change.  Your life changes because we are constantly reorienting our life to center on Jesus and the Gospel and we press others into that as well.  If you are like me, this isn’t always easy, because things can get dirty and sometimes ugly before they get cleaned up and beautiful.

But that’s ok.  In talking to a friend the other day, he reminded me of that.  Life will get messy but that’s ok because God is really good at cleaning things up as only He can.  It’s ok because God is worth the mess.  Ultimately, when God looks at our lives, he doesn’t see a mess at all.  He sees us as His workmanship.  He sees us as His masterpiece.  And He gets all the glory as the artist who really knows better than anyone else just how beautiful the art really is.  Jump in.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

Marinated in Grace

I was installed as an elder of Sojourn Church this past Sunday.  It was a special day for sure.  I began my elder apprenticeship in the Fall of 2009.  So it’s been a long road to get to this point.  A long road that I’m grateful to have traveled.  A road that consisted of a lot of time, reading, writing, studying, meetings, prayers, questions, conversations, transparency, and clarity.  It’s been such a healthy process for both me and the others involved.  I’ve had tremendous support from family and friends that’s been so helpful and encouraging.  The costs have been counted by not only myself but by my family as well and without hesitation we have pushed all in for the road ahead.

I traveled to Nashville, TN on March 3rd with David and Eric to meet with pastors Ray Ortlund Jr. and Jeremy Rose for my eldership council.  This was a very honest and open assessment of my candidacy as an elder.  There were times of laughter, rock bottom godly humility, encouragement, and the utmost seriousness.   The decision was unanimous from that council of men to proceed with my standing as an elder.  I was overjoyed.  I’ll never forget that day with those men.  One of the best days of my life.

I stood there Sunday before the church as pastors David and Eric charged me with the scriptures to shepherd the flock; to know, feed, lead, and protect the flock.  It was a powerful charge of encouragement that I greatly appreciate.  I love those guys and I know I am loved by them.  It’s an honor to shepherd alongside them.  They then invited the body to come up and lay hands on me as they prayed for me, installing me as one of their pastors.  As people began to come towards the front, tears began to well up.  That moment was marinated in grace.  A completely humbling experience.  A true honor.  I am part of a great church and loved by a great God.

I love Sojourn Church and most of all the God we worship, Jesus the Chief Shepherd.

A whole new world

Sooo… I don’t know if there is a better picture to currently depict my new state of fatherhood than this one.  I’ve officially received my license to carry a concealed baby as you try to keep cool sipping on a Capri Sun, hanging out by random brick walls.  Does life get any better than this?!  Ok, but real talk.  How did I get to this place over the last 9 weeks?  No idea.  But here I am, baby carrier and all.

In many cases, it’s been a whirlwind.  What a trip.  It’s been such a joy and yes, a sanctifying experience to say the least, up to this point.  I only anticipate that it gets better and more sanctifying in the days ahead.  One of the things I was looking forward to was seeing  how God revealed different facets of the Gospel for me through parenthood.  I received a good dose of this last Friday.

We took Bailey in for her 2 month check-up.  We knew this was not going to be a fun visit because it was going to be the first round of her vaccinations.  But apparently they didn’t tell Bailey that because she was in the best mood.  Little did she know what awaited her in the following minutes.  The doctor walks in and we do a little chit chat before he asks, “I’m going to need one of you to hold her arms down so she doesn’t nudge me or anything.”  Without thinking, I step in as the DAD and say “I will.”  As soon as I grab hold of her arms to hold them down on the examination table, it occurs to me… “this is going to suck.”

We heard a new cry that day.  A cry we hadn’t heard before.  A cry that broke my heart.  As the doctor gave her the first shot, her arms went limp.  No need to hold them down because she wasn’t restraining.  This was the first time she had felt real pain in her first 2 months of life.  Almost immediately, my mind went to the Gospel and I began to tear up.  The window I was peering through to the Gospel got a little bigger in that moment.  I had also felt a pain that was unfamiliar to me as well; the pain a parent feels watching their child suffer.

I understand the Gospel more clearly today than I did last Thursday.  God loves us greatly.  That love costs the life of His Son, Jesus.  That is the greatest love man will ever know.  I am now more grateful for the God’s love than I ever have been.  Thank you Father for the love you have for Your Son, Jesus, and for me.

But God – Ephesians 2:1-10

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Attention to Detail

I always wondered why it was important to know why the framework of the tabernacle was made of acacia wood and how many cubits long each piece was.  Why was it important to know what colors of yarn were used to make Aaron’s turban.  Why was it important for us to know which direction the cherubim faced?  These are the details Moses believed were important for us to know, but why?

I’ve always wondered that as I came through the passages of these intricate details of the construction of the tabernacle, ark, lampstands, temple, etc.  You never hear anyone tell you they were memorizing Exodus 36:20-23

20 Then he made the upright frames for the tabernacle of acacia wood. 21 Ten cubits was the length of a frame, and a cubit and a half the breadth of each frame. 22 Each frame had two tenons for fitting together. He did this for all the frames of the tabernacle. 23 The frames for the tabernacle he made thus: twenty frames for the south side.

Why is it important for us to know this?  God inspired Moses to write these words for us.  To many… these passages are nothing but detailed historical references, but they are a part of the Holy Scriptures which means they are more than what they may appear from the surface.  These are the inspired words of God written by Moses.

As I meditated on these scriptures, asking God “Please speak to me,”  He did just that.  My mind immediately went to one of my favorite passages of Scripture, Psalm 139.

1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.

13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.

19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!

God was and is intimately involved in creating His dwelling place, whether that was the Tabernacle, Temple, or us.  He cares about the details.  He cares about us.  He has made each one of us in His image, in His likeness.  We are image bearers of Christ.  We were not thrown together.  We were fearfully and wonderfully made.  God knows us inside and out.  He created us.  God made each of us with a specific purpose… ultimately to bring Him glory, and that is no small thing to overlook.

Like a Lion

I was walking my dog, Boss, last night as I finished up listening to John Piper’s first sermon back after his sabbatical (which you need to go and listen to) – it’s awesome.  Anyways, I looked on my iphone for something else to listen to as I still had a little bit longer until we arrived back at the house.  I came to a song I recently downloaded, Like a Lion by David Crowder.  I’ve always been a big Crowder fan and this song is another log on the fire.

Few songs cause me to worship God the way this one did.  Now, I worship God when I sing to Him… but hearing a song that leaves you with no choice but to worship is a completely different ball game.  Here I was… walking Boss at 10pm, headphones in, hands raised, and singing aloud.  I was left with no choice but to recognize our God for who He is.  He is a roaring lion.  He is King.  He is coming back to complete what He already finished.  Our God reigns.

This song gets me pumped!  Hope it speaks to you.