Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How Majestic Is Thy Name

by: Ron Hamilton

When I consider the work of Thy hands,
The sun, moon and stars above,
What is man that Thou thinkest of him
Who is so unworthy of Thy love?

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.
Mountains, valleys, all creation tells Thy fame.
Heavens declare it; all Thy wondrous works proclaim:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.

Heavens are telling the glory of God;
Each tree points to Christ on high.
Why would God, the creator of all
Take the form of lowly flesh to die?


O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.
Mountains, valleys, all creation tells Thy fame.
Heavens declare it; all Thy wondrous works proclaim:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.

Jesus, Creator and Ruler of all
Left heaven to die for me.
Came to earth, laid aside heaven's throne
In exchange for death on Calvary.


O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.
Mountains, valleys, all creation tells Thy fame.
Heavens declare it; all Thy wondrous works proclaim:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homosexuality

Well, I like to avoid controversial topics on my blog, but as this topic has been coming up in the news and online so much lately, I feel the need to address it.

I'm taking a class at Northland right now called "Biblical Manhood" and the last two lectures we discussed this topic, and I'd like to share with you what we discussed.

Our professor had us read two articles on the issue.  One of the articles was called "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality."  The other was called "How do we Speak about Homosexuality." Both of these articles are excellent, and I highly recommend any and every Christian read them!

I could rehash what these articles say, but I'd rather not do that when you could just read them for yourself.  So...in class we basically addressed the credibility for the argument against Homosexuality from Romans 1.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Romans 1:18-32

Many have questioned the credibility of the argument against homosexuality from this passage...it takes some serious twisting of the Word to do this, but people will do some crazy things to justify their actions.  When one follows the pattern of the arguments made in this passage, it becomes absurd to say that it doesn't condemn homosexuality...

The pattern is as follows:
Step 1: Human beings exchange God for what He has made.
Step 2: God hands us over to what we prefer.
Step 3: We act out externally in our sexual relations this internal exchange.

Romans 1:23-24
Step 1: vs. 23 ...and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Step 2: vs. 24a Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity
Step 3: vs. 24b ...to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves

Romans 1:25-27
Step 1: vs. 25 ...because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Step 2: vs. 26a For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.
Step 3: vs. 26b-27 For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:28
Step 1: vs. 28a And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God
Step 2: vs. 28b God gave them up to a debased mind
Step 3: vs. 28c ...to do what ought not to be done.

Conclusion:
Paul makes the same argument three times...

The deepest problem at the root of this issue is an exchange...we exchange God (who can fulfill our every need) and seek after what pleases us.  We reject worship of God for worshipping other things, and ultimately in worshipping ourselves...

Anything we exchange God for is going after something infinitely less valuable...

So, why does Paul mention homosexuality in this?  I think this quote sums it up:
“Sexual union in the covenant of marriage represents pure, undefiled, intense heart-worship. That is, God means for the beauty of worship to be dramatized in the right ordering of our sexual lives. And since the right order of our relationship with God in heart-worship was dramatized by heterosexual union in the covenant of marriage, the disorder of our relationship to God dramatized by the breakdown of that heterosexual union. Homosexuality is the most vivid form of that breakdown.”
–John Piper

So...how should we, as Christians, respond to this?
Speak the truth.  I've often heard people speak about homosexuality and they'll say things like this, "Didn't Jesus love and accept everyone?  Why would He condemn homosexuals?"  They're right about one thing...Jesus does love everyone...and He was always speaking to the worst of sinners...but he never sugar coated their sin.  He called them out for their sin, and told them to "go and sin no more."  We, as Christians, should never sugar coat the clear truth of the Word of God, even if it's contrary to popular belief.

Second of all, we are to give them hope that's found in the gospel.  Jesus died for their sins, and through Him comes freedom and a new life where they don't have to bound by their sin anymore.

Lastly...and probably the one Christians struggle with the most when it comes to this topic...speak with humility!  Too many Christians scream and yell, and throw "hissy-fits" about this topic.  We must always remember that we are sinners, who've been saved by grace.  We have no reason to act like we're so much better.  Paul had this same focus...he called himself the "chief of sinners."  We should have this same attitude...


I would like to, in closing, address one last thing.  Society is increasingly looking at Christians as horribly intolerant by not accepting homosexuality as a good lifestyle.  There's a dualistic idea created...either your for them, or your against them (and therefore hateful, and placed on the same level as the KKK).  We must do our best to communicate the fact that we have no intention of being hateful, and unloving.  But we must still stand up for truth...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Northland Missions Conference 2013

So, as you can see from the title, missions conference at Northland was this week.  We had two main speakers: Phil Hunt (missionary to Zambia) and Dr. David Brown (missionary to South Africa who's coming to Northland next semester to teach).  It was an awesome week of sessions that God used to challenge my thinking and convict me.

I'm going to hit some of the highlights...

Chasing the work of God
Dr. Brown
(Isaiah 55:8-9, Romans 11:33)

You could say that in this session He spoke of the problems in missions.  Probably the coolest analogy he gave was the fact that we put our God in a box.  We have this idea about how things should be done, but God looks at that box, laughs, and breaks it open.

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)

He emphasized the fact that we need to work to correct the mistakes of the past by adjusting the way we do missions to fit the current culture.  This of course does not mean compromising the truth of God's Word.

The reason the session had the title "Chasing the work of God" is because he talked about the fact that we often underestimate God.  We think the mission can't be accomplished unless we do it.  God, however, is working in places and in ways that we cannot even fathom.  He spoke of the fact that missionaries these days are going into places where they think there are no believers, and they're finding churches.  So, we are in essence, chasing God's work...He's so far ahead of us...

He gave us some startling facts too...there has been a 27% decrease in US missions since 1990.  Also...evangelical Christianity is currently the fastes growing faith in the world right now.  We truly are chasing the work of God, and we (Americans) need to get with the program.

The World's Greatest Need: And what you must do to meet it
Phil Hunt
(Romans 10:1-17)

The main focus of this session was on the Gospel, and the fact that it is the greatest need for everyone on earth.

He spoke with passion about the fact that men are dying and going to hell, and if we truly understood what hell was like, it would fuel us to action...but too often we don't care.

"If we are to see lives transformed by the gospel, we need to do more than just talk about it."

What is my all consuming desire?  Is it to see the lost come to Christ?  If it isn't, it should be.

"Follow Me"
Dr. Olson
(Matthew 16)

In our modern Christian culture, we have romanticized what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  But Jesus called us to take up our cross and follow Him.

The world looks at death while seeking to accomplish our goals, but when we're seeking God's will and we die, this is not failure...

If we are a follower of Christ our crosses will look different, but we all have one that Jesus wants us to bear.

Following Him is simple, but it's impossible to do without Him.

God loves losers...those who die to self, and give all to Him...

Why should we reach beyond ourselves?
Dan Seeley
(Psalm 96)

Premise: Worship of Christ must precede service for Christ.

Before Jesus gave the Great Commission, the disciples were worshipping Him!

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.  And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:16-20 (ESV)

When we are filled with awe at all that God is...we are filled with Him...we will be like a cup that is full of water...when someone bumps a cup of water that is full to the brim, water spills out...in the same way, when we are full to the brim with Him, He will spill out when we "bump" into people...

"Our engagement in mission is the gauge for how much I'm engaged with God."

It isn't a one time decision...it's a day by day, moment by moment thing...
I make the decision every moment what/who I will worship...am I worshiping God, or "lesser lights and fleeting shadows?"

What/who am I functionally worshipping?  He must be my everything!

Discerning God's Will
Dr. Brown

One of the leading questions asked by Christian young adults (and older ones) is “How can I know the Lord’s will for my life?” Probably not the best question because God reveals His will in installments. The better question is, “How can I know the Lord’s will for my next step?” The question implies a desire to know what God wants them to do, or where He wants them to go. But God’s will lies first and foremost with what the believer is than with what the believer does in life. Be what God wants you to be, and He will cause you to do what He wants you to do. So let’s look at discerning God’s will in that order.

TRUE OF ME BEFORE GOD DIRECTS (10 things)

  1. I am a born-again believer in Jesus Christ? (Jn. 3:3) God lead His own children; you are not Christian by association; not just your parents’ faith 
  2. Though aware of my self-will and sinfulness, I have a righteous (obedient) walk and talk, so as not to quench or grieve the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19, Eph. 4:24-32) 
  3. I have no known unconfessed, unforsaken sins (clean conscience – 1 Jn. 1:9, Acts 24:16) 
  4. I have a supreme love for God/Jesus (no seriously competing idols – Deut. 6:5, 1 Jn. 5:2, 21) 
  5. I am staying renewed in the Scriptures (the filling and sword of the Spirit – Ps. 119:105, Rom. 12:1-2, Col. 3:16, Heb. 4:12) 
  6. I worship Him personally and pray to know and do His will in the seemingly small things (Col. 1:9-12) 
  7. I am staying and serving in a community of believers and am accountable to others (Acts 2:42, Heb. 10:24-25) 
  8. I love and value all people, made in God’s image, and try to move them toward Christ through my relationship with them (2 Cor. 5:18-20, Rom. 12:9-21) – people and God’s principles are a priority 
  9. I have an abandonment to the will of God; a willingness to do whatever, wherever, whenever (2 Cor. 4:11) 
  10. I am doing now what He wants me to do, and am watching for His leading (Ps. 5:8, 37:23, Jer. 10:23). When people who whine and complain then feel a sudden leading from the Lord, that leading is highly questionable. God often won’t release you from a hard thing until you are resigned to that being His will. Job, not getting married, not getting pregnant, not losing weight 
WHEN GOD DIRECTS
  • Sometimes God pushes you, orders your circumstances to make you move. We are talking about when God gives you options. 
  • I understand that this might seem mystical, but our God is spirit and does communicate with us – our bodies are both skeleton (God’s Word) and soft tissue (the work of the Spirit) 
  • Leading: Children of God are led by His Spirit (Matt. 4:1, Rom 8:14-16, Gal. 5:16, 1 Jn. 2:27)
    • Inner prompting like the conscience 
    • Inaudible (your own mind’s voice) 
    • Often using the Scripture 
    • Never contrary to the Scripture
  •  Calling: A summoning by God creating a deep compulsion to do something 
    • To salvation (Rom. 1:6-7) 
    • To a career/mission (Rom. 1:1, Acts 13:2) 
  • Desiring: A passion to capably serve God in a certain place, context, or ministry 
    • Augustine: “Love God supremely … and do whatever you please” ” because a person who loves God is taught by that same love never to do anything that will displease Him and to leave nothing undone that may please Him. When the heart and life of a person is right, then his or her desires will line up with what God wants. 
    • God fixes the “wanter” of those who delight in Him (Ps. 37:4) 
    • God “wires” His children with giftedness and experiences to help us choose His direction 
    • If you walk with God, don’t be afraid of doing something you enjoy 
RESPONDING CAREFULLY TO GOD’S LEADING (10 things)
  1. Pause, pray, and fast (to see if the burden goes away – Acts 13:1-3) 
  2. Deliberate your gifts, abilities, station in life, financial situation, relational responsibilities, the implications of the decision; wrestle with the burden and your unworthiness – Is this a good fit at this time? In what ways might God use us to make an impact? Does this draw on the strengths God has given me? What are my real motives? Did I really sense direction from the Lord? Am I leaving a place because it’s difficult? Greener pastures? Will the place I am leaving be injured by my leaving? Am I breaking promises or firm understandings? In ethics, we say that there is a right way and a right time in which to do every right action. But we also wrestle with our unworthiness because God often leads us to a place beyond our abilities to glorify Himself (2 Cor. 12) 
  3. Consult with godly people, mentors, your church’s leaders (Peter and Paul in Acts 15) 
  4. Submit to the “go, wait, or stop” admonition of leadership (parents, church leaders – Heb. 13:17, Acts 13:1-3) 
  5. More prayer and fasting about the matter (Prov. 3:5-6, Ps. 139:23) 
  6. Decide one way or the other 
  7. Delay (to see if it sits right with your spirit, and you have peace – Col. 3:15) 
  8. Look for signs of confirmation in Scripture or in circumstances despite speed bumps and road blocks 
  9. Realign my life (hold off certain decisions, purchases, moves, be willing to wait on the Lord) 
  10. Equip myself (learning, experience) to fulfill the leading

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Undying Love

Verse 1
My ears had heard of You, now I have seen
This bitter sweetness in Your agony
My heart was far from You, but You drew me near
With loving kindness dried every tear


Chorus
And I can see You
Bearing all my shame on the cross
I can hear You cry out, “It is done”
O Jesus, Your sacrifice was more than enough
In Your death I see undying love


Verse 2
My heart is broken and I’m down on my knees
To see my Savior suffering for me
But You descended, lifting me up
Washing my feet, filling my cup


from Sons & Daughters, released 01 August 2009
By Rich Gunderlock, Jonathan Baird, and Ryan Baird
© 2009 Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Northland Camp: Reach


Well, seeing as how my trip to North Africa has been completely paid off (praise the LORD!!), I have now added another fund raising effort to my blog.  If it's not one thing, it's another right?

This one is certainly worth your consideration, though!

This fund raising effort is an attempt to raise money to pay for 600 unchurched kids to come to camp at Northland Camp.  I worked at Northland last summer, and I can assure you that their ministry is one that changes lives with the gospel.  They are intentional about investing in the lives of campers!

If you can't donate, I completely understand...but if you can, it'd be awesome!  I myself am going to be buying, one if not two of the t-shirts that are talked about on the website (half of the price of the shirt goes to the cause).

Click on the pic below to donate, or click on the "reach" pic on the sidebar.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How to deal with controversy...

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:1-6

Recently I was faced with a situation that made me want to react with an angry post here on my blog.  I was pretty close to doing it too...I had opened up the window I'm writing in right now, and I was going to write a defense for my school.  It was going to be filled with all kinds of scripture and plausible arguments from reason as to why my opinion was right.  I didn't get that far in writing before "something" made me realize it was not a good move...I know now it was definitely God.

Do you ever find that God gives causes someone to preach a sermon that was exactly what you needed?  Well, that's what happened...the next morning after I was going to write that post, but thought better of it, a guy (Stephen Davey) in chapel spoke a sermon on passage above.  I'd like to share with you his simple outline with some of my thoughts between the points.

  1. Accept the one who is weak in faith
  2. Refuse to argue
    • This  one is probably the hardest one to put into practice
    • I know...you want to argue...but this is our flesh talking...
  3. Readjust your personal attitude of pride
    • This goes both ways
    • Both sides of a controversy think they're right...both have people on their sides who can be  quite unloving and unforgiving...both sides have people who genuinely love the Lord and want to live for His glory...
  4. Remember your final authority (vs. 4)
    • God, and the verse doesn't say this, but the Word of God...
Is my perspective of the situation where joyful communion with God is my priority? (vs. 6)

I hope this was a blessing to you...I know it was to me...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thankfulness...

Why am I thankful?  I'm thankful to God for the faithful work He's been doing in my life...

...if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.
2 Timothy 2:13

I've sat here and tried many ways to write it all out, but none of what I've tried to write has sounded right...

So...I'll just say that God has been doing great and mighty things in my life...He's revealed my lack of faith in His faithfulness to me...

He's opened doors to new opportunities for loving discipleship to my brothers-in-Christ...

I'm so overwhelmed by His power and  faithfulness...

I'm so thankful that He works in lives, and I'm thankful that He chose me before the foundation of the world...

Why did he chose me?  It's a mystery...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:3-6