Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Value of Silence

Be still and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah  
                Psalm 46:10-11 (ESV)

Lately God has been hitting me with the importance of silence. So often I have noise making things going on almost constantly. I get in the car and the first thing I do is turn on my music. When I sit down at my desk to write a sermon or study, I turn on some instrumental music...while I'm cleaning my house, I blast Sovereign Grace music from my Bose speakers and sing along. So God has been reminding me of how He can grow me through silence.

So, lately, particularly in the car, I've not been playing music...at least not all the time...instead I pray, or I sing songs...this has been such an awesome thing to do! It has really helped my walk with God, and I'm so thankful that He revealed to me the value of this.

You see...so often I think we want music playing or some kind of noise in the background because we can just sort of coast...without really thinking deeply about things...without really reflecting on our walk with God. When it's quiet, I'm much more likely to ask myself, "How am I viewing God right now?" And then based on my answer to that question, I then spend time thinking on God, and what He's really like...and recalibrating my view of Him.

So, I would like to encourage my readers...turn of the music once in a while...turn off the fan...and just sit in silence thinking about God, and praying...maybe spend some time singing. I think you'll find it to be a great spiritual discipline.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Stability in an unstable world...

This Sunday I'm speaking out of Isaiah 40...and this morning I was studying and I came across a verse I had read before...but the implications of it struck me again in a renewed way...this is the verse I came across:

The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8 (ESV)
In our crazy world today it can be hard to discern the truth. Everywhere we look there are people reporting the news, and talking about what's happening in the world...but it's hard to discern what is the truth...because EVERYONE is biased...no matter how hard someone may try to remain unbiased in their news report, they can't...it is impossible. Someone will take the facts and interpret them through their worldview and then they make a conclusion about it, and they report on it...but it's all so biased! You watch Fox News and your going to get a very conservative spin on the news...you watch MSNBC and you're going to get a very liberal spin on the news...I usually end up getting my news from the BBC because I figure since they're not a US new company, they're more likely to be unbiased about what's happening in the US.  But I often find myself becoming very discouraged by all this...how can I really know the truth in the midst of all this noise? I have friends on Facebook who are liberal and friends on Facebook who are conservative...and both sides post articles that are about the same events, but the reports and opinions on what happens do not agree! So how do we deal with this? In a confused and unstable world where it's so hard to find the truth...what do we do?

We run to verses like Isaiah 40:8. God's Word is truth...and it will stand forever. Earthly thrones and kingdoms fall...people live and die...persecution comes and goes...politicians lie and occasionally tell the truth...but God's Word endures! God's Word shall stand! We can trust His Word in an untrustworthy world.

We can look at God's Word and see that everything that was ever predicted in it has come true...Jesus' coming was predicted as early as Genesis 3...and even though it takes a long time from a human perspective for this to be fulfilled, it was fulfilled! Jesus did come! He brought the promised salvation! Every promise that God has made has been fulfilled...and we can trust that every promise that has not yet been fulfilled will ultimately be fulfilled! Christ will return...all wrongs will be made right! Jesus will be the perfect ruler who will rule with truth and justice! Of this we can be absolutely sure!

So in a world that is ever changing...and truth can be so hard to find...let's cling to the truths we can be sure of...and that is the truths of God's Word!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

God's Sovereignty - The Cure for Worry

In the drama of salvation, the principalities and powers conspired to derail God’s plan of redemption by putting to death the Son of God. They drastically underestimated the infinite wisdom of God because it was precisely through the blood of the cross that God was able to redeem a new people for himself....whenever the kingdom of evil seems to have won a great victory, one only needs to wait and see the wisdom of God at work. God has an amazing way of turning evil intent on its head and using it for far greater purposes.-Clinton E. Arnold, Ephesians Commentary.

Our society has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. We look at the news and we see the moral revolution that is so quickly changing our culture. Many Christians are finding themselves so discouraged by all this...they worry about what is happening. They may be especially discouraged by professing Christians who are now embracing this moral revolution as well. They see and hear so much Biblical truth being opposed that they struggle to find a light in the midst of it.

Maybe they would say, "God, where are you in all this? Why haven't you intervened? Why haven't you done something about this?" Maybe this is you...the one who's reading this. Maybe you are struggling with understanding why all of this is happening. Maybe you worry about the future of our world and where we're going. But here's where having a correct view of God's sovereignty can give us such great encouragement...

When we look at the Gospels...we see that God sent Jesus...a member of the Trinity, who was God Himself...God sent Jesus to earth. He came as a "light to those who sit in darkness"...He came and He healed people physically...He spoke out against the legalism that had pervaded Judaism...He spoke of salvation. Those who followed Him thought for sure that He would be the conquering king they hoped for...who would overthrow the Roman government and give the Jews the physical kingdom they desired...but God had other plans...He did intend to conquer...but His conquering would be spiritual rather than physical.

As the forces of evil opposed Him, His disciples despaired...they worried...they wondered why He didn't destroy them and be the conquering king they hoped for. But again...God had other plans. The forces of evil continued to oppose Him...they wanted to stop Him...they wanted to crush Him...they wanted to thwart His plan to bring salvation...so they trumped up charges against Him...they brought Him to trial and had Him crucified.

You can just imagine His followers thinking all hope was lost...their King was being killed...this was not how it was supposed to happen in their minds...their king died on a rugged cross...suffering unspeakably...and the forces of evil, both physical and spiritual rejoiced...they had won! This "King of the Jews" had died! Victory was theirs!

But this is not how the story ends...the very acts the forces of evil had used to try to thwart God's plan to save, had been the means by which this salvation was accomplished! This King Jesus did not stay dead...but He rose again! He conquered the grave, winning salvation for all who believe.

This is how our God delights to work. He turns evil actions of those who would oppose Him to accomplish His ultimate purposes. Our God is sovereign over everything!

This truth is a cure for our worry...in the face of such drastic changes that are happening...when we don't know which way is up...we can confidently hold onto the truth that God's purposes WILL be accomplished! No matter how the evil forces try to stamp out His truth...His truth will continue to go forward. We need not fear or worry about whatever happens in our world...because our God is sovereign.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sin and selfishness

Lately I have noticed a pattern in my life...and that pattern is that when patterns of sinfulness begin to take a foothold in my life, I start acting more selfish it my thought processes. I guess this makes sense because sin in itself is selfishness. So, naturally selfishness breeds even more selfishness.

How does this play out practically in my life? Well, when I begin to allow myself to slip into patterns of sinfulness I often become very self-centered...this is seen in a lack of care for others...I don't really care about what's going on with other people...but I only care about myself. My all consuming thought is what can I get out of every interaction I have. This sounds like a harsh assessment of myself...but it is in fact a reality.

This truth reminds me of the fact that my sin doesn't just affect me...it affects my loved ones as well.

On the other side of this...when I am finding my joy in God...and not in my sinful pursuits...when there's a pattern of obedience in my life rather than a pattern of repeated sins...I find myself having a much more selfless way of thinking. I care a lot more about others...and I desire to help them and encourage them. Now of course I am never sinless...there are always sinful thoughts and actions that slip up in my life...that's the nature of being a fallen man...but when there's a pattern of pursuing God more than my sin...that's when a selfless attitude begins to be revealed in my life.

I'm sure I'm not the only Christian who notices this pattern in their life. But for me it reveals to me another reason why I want to pursue joy in my God rather than in my sin...because I know when I'm doing that...I can better serve and minister to my church...and love my loved ones...namely, my fiancee. :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

An Open Letter to My Fellow Millennial Christians - "Don't Throw Out the Baby With the Bath Water"

Dear Fellow Millennials,

I am a Christian Millennial. I graduated in 2007 from High School, and I have seen a lot of changes take place in the U. S. since I graduated. And I've seen even some big changes take place since I graduated from college in May. Since I graduated from High School God has done so much in my life to change my view of the world. To change my view of what Christianity is.

Growing up I often saw a lack of love and community taking place in the churches I grew up in. I saw a lot of "Cultural Christianity" that I thought was genuine Christianity...but when I went to college God opened my eyes to what I think is a more Biblical view of Christianity. Much of the things I thought were wrong growing up I began to see that they weren't necessarily wrong. I could have alcohol once in a while (always in moderation and never getting drunk), I could listen to CCM (because the Bible never says it's wrong), I could be a Calvinist and still be Gospel loving and evangelizing Christian, and the list could go on. I began to see that there was more freedom in Christ than I had previously thought there was.

But I also became increasingly concerned with some attitudes and beliefs that I was beginning to see in my fellow Millennial Christians. I saw it in college among my fellow students...and I continue to see it in some friends since graduating. This attitude appears to be a rebellious and angry reaction to the wrongs done by the Christians we grew up interacting with. We saw the bad that could come out of a particular belief they had, and so we reject it because of their wrong handling of it. Some are even going so far as to reject clear teachings of Scripture on particular matters because the previous generations believed these and held them often times with anger and judgment.

I'm tempted to give examples of particular beliefs that some of my friends seem to have rejected for this reason, but I want to avoid controversy...and I want to avoid narrowing the message of this letter to one particular belief...I think all Millennials need to examine their hearts, and think about how and what emotions they are using to guide them toward their beliefs about different matters.

So, to offer an alternative to these issues I've seen...let me expound on the conclusions I've come to.

I would love to see my generation of Millennial Christians holding tightly to God's Word. To study God's Word closely, and allow it to guide us. To be passionately committed to it's truths. But always and ever holding to them with grace and love. Reaching out without judgment to our alcoholic neighbor to share the Gospel with Him...doing the same with our homosexual neighbor as well. Let's be counter-cultural, but in a compassionate and culturally engaging way. Let's not be afraid to sit down and talk with our unbelieving friends about the truths found in the Word. Let's hold tightly to the truths of God's Word, regardless of what the world tells us we should believe. But always and ever speaking these truths with love and grace.

We can hold to the fundamentals of our faith that were held to so tightly in the previous generations without repeating their mistakes. And who are we to arrogantly think that they got everything wrong and we have gotten it all right? The previous generations of Christians were flawed, and we are flawed too. Let us go forward relying on Christ and holding onto His Word, trusting Him to guide us.

And one more thing...let's always and ever hold onto our beliefs without a bitter and angry attitude about the previous generation's mistakes. When we get bitter and angry, we might be dangerously close to having a similar attitude that they often did...but our mistake is we're directing it at fellow Christians, rather than at the world. Let's lovingly and respectfully speak the truth to both believers and unbelievers alike. We should honor and respect the previous generations of Christians, and recognize that they were flawed...just like we are.

I hope these words were helpful and understandable. I'm not the greatest writer, but these thoughts have been on my mind and I felt the need to speak them.

By His Grace,
A Concerned Christian Millennial

Sin and Selfishness...and other thoughts on sin...

Have you ever noticed how sin tends to make you think and act selfishly? I've noticed that when I begin to allow certain sins to become a pattern in my life, it begins to affect the way I interact with people. I'm much less interested in the needs of others and much more focused on my own desires and needs.

And I guess this makes sense when I consider that even just the act of sinning is a selfish act. It is putting my own sinful desires before God's desires for me.

Truth be told...by pursuing my sin I'm choosing a lesser joy over a greater joy...in fellowship with God there is greater joy than any of my sins could give me...and yet I continue to pursue this lesser joy. This truth reminds me of a great C. S. Lewis quote...he writes, "It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

So we play with mud pies when a holiday at the sea is available to us. I toy with my sin continuously when real contentment and joy is found in fellowship with my God. And my sin always leaves me feeling empty...and in the end it actually robs me of joy...it may offer me a fleeting joy...but it is not a deep joy...a truly contented joy...it just leaves me with a hunger for more sin that will leave me more and more empty.

But when I'm seeking joy in God...and when I'm running to Him rather than to my sin...it gives me selfless ability to serve others...to love others...and to know real joy.

So why do I run after the mud pies when a holiday at the sea is available for me? Forgetfulness, distraction...the cares of this life come in and instead of continuing to cling to Christ, I run after what seems to be easier to access...and that is my sin. Often times I run after sin because I begin to feel self-pity...I feel sorry for myself in the struggles of life...and think I deserve to give into my sins...to play with the mud pies...I forget about the Holiday at the sea...I forget the joy that is found in God, and run after the fleeting "joy" that is found in my sin.

This is a constant battle in my life...it will be a battle till I die...but by God's grace, I can fight for true joy in God. I need to fight for true joy in God...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Update

Wow...it's been too long since I updated my readers on what's going on with things, and a lot has happened since I last posted. I graduated from college in May and officially moved my residence to Crystal Falls, MI. I'm renting a small one bedroom house for now until I can find a good house to buy. I also started working on the side at a grocery store in the town where I pastor. I was at first kind of frustrated by the fact that I couldn't dedicate all my time to my church, but I have loved the opportunity it has given me to meet people in the community! God has been so good to give it to me, and I pray that I glorify Him there and represent my church well!

All these things are really awesome, but I'm a little biased in saying that there's one more thing that has happened that I'm probably the most excited about, and that is that on May 23rd I asked Rachel to marry me, and she said yes!

It was pretty awesome how it happened too...she came up to the area where I pastor to visit for the weekend, and before she came, I started thinking that maybe I should ask her while she was here. I already had the ring, and I was planning on asking when I visited her in August when I went on my two week vacation...but ever since I had taken Rachel on our first date to Dave's Falls in Amberg, WI, I had wanted to propose to her there. So I decided I would ask her while she was here.

So I had it all planned out...we'd go to Dave's Falls...I knew where I wanted to ask her when we got there, and I knew what I wanted to say...but God has a sense of humor...when we got there there were sooooooo many mosquitoes! It was so crazy! Every time we stopped moving we were being swarmed! So I kept trying to kill time, but the mosquitoes were only getting worse...so I went through with it and asked. And like I said, she said yes. We kept saying that we will never forget how it all happened because of the mosquitoes.

God is so good...I can't wait to marry her...

Here's some pics from the day I asked (we won't be getting official engagement pics till December):


Before I asked...


Before I asked...


After I asked...


The ring...we took this when we got back to the car...that way we weren't being eaten alive by mosquitoes anymore...

We'll be getting married on October 22, 2016.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Morning Meditation #1

The idols that I replace my God with can NEVER give me the lasting joy I seek...in fact, indulging in their "pleasures" only ever leaves me feeling empty and wanting more...only in Yahweh, God of the universe, can true lasting joy be found. So why do I stray from Him? Why do I run after idols that will NEVER satisfy? Because I am forgetful...I forget how much joy is found in Him. I get distracted by the cares of this world and forget about Him. There are reminders of His presence everywhere...even the fact that I am breathing and that I am being held together is evidence of His presence...and yet I forget. I forget about the joy that is found in Him and run headlong into idolatry...sin.

But God...but God pursues me! This fact proves to me that I am His child. Like the prodigal son's father who waits for His son to return, so my Lord lovingly pursues me in my sin. Even though I stray, His love never ceases! He pursues me and draws me back to Himself...and I am restored with the joy I had before in fellowship with Him. I am reminded that in Him there is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Father, help me not to stray. Help me not to run after idols which will NEVER satisfy. Help me to not forget that only in you is true lasting joy. Father, keep me from sin...guard my heart from idolatry. I desperately need your grace! Thank you for loving me enough to die for me. It is in Jesus precious name I pray, Amen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reflections of a graduating Northland Student - What have I learned?

When I came to Northland I had a small view of God, a big view of myself, and a view of Scripture that saw it as a big book of expectations that I had no hope of ever meeting. I felt very self-important because I had been in the Navy for 4 years before college, and I was also older than most of the students. I had anger festering in my heart toward God for things that had happened in my past and this resulted in a deep bitterness in my heart. Because of this bitterness I was unable to love people. I didn't want to let anyone get close to me because they might see me for who I really was.

I interacted with students on campus and with people at my church, but these interactions were very superficial. I couldn't love people because my anger and bitterness was so dominating the way I interacted with everyone.

After my first year at Northland my view of God and of myself began to change. My view of God began to expand as I sat under professor's like Bryan Blazosky, Brent Belford, and Phil Trach. These men opened the Word and taught it with passion. I began to see my God as totally sovereign and beyond my comprehension. My God was a "box breaker"...as Dr. Brown spoke about at Missions conference my Sophomore year. He could not be tamed...however, though He could not be understood fully from Scripture, He could be understood TRULY. I could learn truth about who my God was from Scripture, and I began to become very excited about this truth.

As time went on I became more and more aware of the fact that through my joy that I had in God, I could be empowered by the Holy Spirit to obey Him. Now, this does not mean that I could be sinless...but God could work in me through the Word to change me. As I delighted in Him from what I read about Him in the Word...I could change. And another liberating thing for me was the fact that sanctification doesn't happen over night...sanctification is a process by which I am made more and more into the image of Christ. It is a gradual process. You see, I had grown up being taught Keswick theology...which teaches that when you dedicate your life to God, you are elevated to a higher level of spirituality...this teaching always left me disappointed feeling as though I could never measure up. But when I understood sanctification rightly, I understood that it was a process...it is "taking the next step spiritually"...as Northland Camp taught me.

When it came to dealing with the bitterness in my heart...this came through an internship I did with a previous Northland Professor (Dr. Fellars) when I interned at his church in Maroa, IL. It was there that God showed me my own bitterness, and I began to deal with it...and in time I found myself able to love as I'd never been able to love people before.

Northland was also where I met my beautiful girlfriend...and I cannot thank God enough for bringing her into my life. I am so blessed...

So...all this rambling is to say that God has used Northland so much in my life. Could God have done the same things in my life at a different college? Certainly...God can do what He wants...but He especially used Godly faculty, staff, students...and just the general community of Northland to change my life in a way that I will be forever grateful for.

These words were motivated by the fact that after this year Northland will likely be closing. If you want more details about why, click here to read Northland's statement about it, and click here to read Dr. Albert Mohler's statement about it. Please pray for Northland!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why Homosexuality Is Not Like Other Sins

Click here to read a great article on why homosexuality is not like other sins.

Best quote from the article:
Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure. We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, “That’s wrong” and “I love you.” We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved. We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross — the same words that God spoke us — “You’re wrong, and you’re loved.”

Thoughts of a graduating Northland student...

If Northland were what it is today when I was coming almost four years ago, I probably would have gone to a different school. That sounds like a really negative statement at first glance, but allow me to explain.

I've talked a little bit about where I was before I came to Northland almost 4 years ago on this blog, but let's just say I had a lot of legalistic ideas about what genuine Christianity was supposed to look like and what genuine Christians were supposed to act like. Anyone who didn't match this view was wrong and might not even be a Christian.

In my view of things at the time there were many "hills to die on."

Therefore, with this view I had of things, Northland would have been out of the question if it were what it is today when I was considering going.

Soon after I came on campus my view of things began to change. I remember during orientation Dr. Olson was talking about what music we were allowed to listen to (this was the first year they allowed students to listen to whatever they wanted to in their own time...they just had to use their own discretion based on what they saw in Scripture) and he said something like, "As much as we may try to say that Scripture says explicitly what music we should and shouldn't listen to, it does not." I couldn't argue with this...and boy did my views of things change throughout my years here...

I learned that there are a lot fewer "hills to die on" than I had thought there were. There are charismatics who genuinely love Jesus, are committed to following God's Word, and holding to the true fundamentals of the faith. There were genuine Christians who had tattoos, long hair, and dressed in jeans to church.

I am so thankful that Northland opened my eyes to the beautiful diversity of the Church. There are people in the genuine universal church of God who had different views on side issues, and that's okay! These churches who agree on the fundamentals of the faith can and should work together for the cause of the Gospel!

Another thing that I have so appreciated is the freedom Northland gives to their students to work through what they believe about things. Our student handbook has gradually shrunk during my time here...my freshman year it was about 100 pages I think, and now it's only about 15 pages. They give general guidelines and help students think through their own standards on things. So they allow their students to be adults. Do you take risks by allowing your students this kind of freedom? Absolutely...but it helps them so much in the future! Preparing them for real life.

Now does this mean that Northland students just run amok doing whatever they want? No, definitely not! They have a discipleship model of discipline, which I think is actually Biblical. When someone does something wrong they will sit them down and try to figure out what made them do what they did, and try to help them work through their struggles biblically, rather than just throwing punishment at them right away. This is the kind of gracious and loving pursuit I think we see Jesus living out in His earthly ministry with His disciples.

So, I say all this to communicate that I'm so thankful for all that I've learned during my time at Northland! I'm so excited about what is going on here and I look forward to seeing what God continues to do here after I graduate!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Overwhelmed yet encouraged...

Currently I am reading three excellent books! These three books are "Desiring God" by John Piper, and "Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands" and "War of Words" both by Paul Tripp. Since I've been reading all three I've found myself often times feeling SUPER overwhelmed. Why? Because I'm reading so many things that I want to put into practice...so many truths and actions that I so often fail to live out. I feel overwhelmed because I want to be a better pastor, boyfriend, friend, son, brother, future husband and future father, and I feel totally inadequate...totally unable to measure up to God's expectations. The truth is...I CAN'T live up to these expectations...I CAN'T be the godly man that God wants me to be. But this is where the encouragement comes in...

I am encouraged because the repeated refrain of Scripture reminds me that God delights to use us in our weakness. All throughout Scripture God shows Himself to be the God who uses weak and frail people to do awesome things! His grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in my weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So, though I may be so weak, and so frail...and so unable to live up to God's expectations...God's grace is sufficient. He can enable me to do the work He has called me to do! Will I fail? Yes...repeatedly...but He NEVER leaves me, and I can trust that He is always by my side, and He will help me!

Monday, March 9, 2015

What is the source of my joy?

What is the source of my joy? This has been a thought that has been on my mind a lot recently. I have been reading the book "Desiring God" by John Piper with my girlfriend, and it's really gotten me thinking about this question. From what things do I get the most amount of joy?

Wrongly, I so often derive joy from things that are unpredictable and unstable, and thus I live life with varying levels of contentment. Let me give an example...I think this is a very relevant example considering our culture...

I think about my social media usage. Why do I post what I do? Too often I post a beautiful picture, or a great quote because I really hope people will "like" it or comment to make me feel good about what I've done. I think even about this blog...sometimes I have to confess that I get very absorbed in how many people like or view my blog, because I get some satisfaction from the approval of man. When I do this, my joy is finding it's source in the approval of man...and as we know, men are fickle...and their approval of us comes and goes. To have our joy sourced in the approval of man is to have a very unstable foundation for our joy. The approval of man will not last forever, and ultimately we're left with disappointment and discouragement. This approval of man becomes an idol, and it promises great joy, but it does not deliver lasting joy.

There are really an unending number of things that can become the source of our joy that don't deliver lasting joy...alcohol and drugs (they promise great joy, but you have to keep going back to them to keep the joy coming)...food (I love food, and it's a good gift from God...but it can become an idol where we seek to find joy, but it does not deliver lasting joy)...video games (escape into this imaginary world and find my joy there)...the list could go on and on. Most of these aren't bad in and of themselves...but when they take over my life, and become the source of my joy...they cannot deliver lasting joy...and so they leave us feeling empty.

So, where does true lasting joy come from? Well, true lasting joy has to come from something that is changeless. Because all of these idols I spoke of that we seek to find joy in ultimately could not deliver because they are ever changing...they always leave us wanting more, but never totally filling us with lasting joy. There is almost this insatiable desire for joy that wells up in us...we seek after it desperately, and nothing in this world can deliver.

So true lasting joy must come from something that is changeless...but it also must come from something that is infinite. Because we have an infinite amount of desire for joy. So what is both infinite and changeless that can give us the true and lasting joy we seek? It's actually not a "what" but a "who." True and lasting joy can only be found in Yahweh, the God of the universe. Only He is both infinite and changeless...so only He can give us the joy we seek.

This is something I've been talking about with the people of my church...we can find our joy in so many things that will not deliver...but when our joy is in our infinite unchanging God, we will not be shaken. Because no matter our circumstances and what comes our way, we can find joy because our joy is sourced in God, who is always the same, no matter what is happening to us in our lives.

So, what is the source of your joy? It can be so easy to allow it to be sourced in passing things. It is a constant battle in the Christian life to work to rid ourselves of idols, and find our joy in God. God has given us so many good gifts to be enjoyed in this life...and I think we should enjoy them to the glory of God...but we can so easily let God's good gifts to us replace Him in our lives, and we have to fight against this tendency.

So how do we fight against this tendency to find joy in things outside of God? We need to meditate on truths about who God is, and build up our affections for God through this meditation. As we read His Word think about the truths we are reading, and what they tell us about who God is. Allow ourselves to be in awe of all that He is! Worship Him as a reaction to these truths we've read about Him! As we do this we will be filled with joy, and we will gradually want those idols less and less...we'll wonder why we ever ran after them in the first place when they never really delivered. Again, this is a constant battle in the life of the Christian...we will constantly be fighting against our tendency to run after other things...but by God's grace as we grow in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit...we can get better and better at this.

Now, just some practical thoughts. I think we should check ourselves. Before we post that thing to social media...we can ask ourselves, "why am I posting this?" Am I posting it so that we can get the praise of man? Am I posting it to be a blessing to others? These are important questions we need to ask so that we can make sure that our joy is not being sourced in things outside of God...because anything/anyone besides Him, will not deliver what we seek.

I hope all that made sense. My thoughts on this are by no means exhaustive...they're just the thoughts I've had on this manner. Many very smart theologians have written books on this subject. I highly recommend "Desiring God" by John Piper. I'm not finished with it yet, but so far it has really helped formulate my beliefs on what I have written in this post.

And in closing...here's a song that kind of expresses this battle in the Christian life to find joy in things outside of God. The song is called "Sirens" and it's by the Gray Havens.


Monday, January 12, 2015

God is good...that's all I can say...

I'm sorry this has taken to so long to report this, but a few Sundays ago, my church voted unanimously to make me "Senior Pastor" of my church. I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity. God is so good. Pray for me as for the next few months I'll be finishing up school and pastoring part time!