What The Gospel is Not

Oh, I pray that we might see Him as the all-satisfying treasure that He is!

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Simi Valley Fire

I found this video on Yahoo! today.
This was in Simi Valley (where I live now) a few years ago.

The Depth of True Love

Oh, the depth of the love of Christ! :

First, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs him: if he sacrifices his life for us, it assures us of deeper love than if he only sacrifices a few bruises. So [we see] the depth of Christ’s love by the greatness of what it cost him.
Second, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by how little we deserve it. If we have treated him well all our life, and have done all that he expects of us, then when he loves us, it will not prove as much love as it would if he loved us when we had offended him, and shunned him, and disdained him. The more undeserving we are, the more amazing and deep is his love for us. So [we see] the depth of Christ’s love in relation to how undeserving are the objects of his love (Romans 5:5-8).
Third, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved. If we are helped to pass an exam, we will feel loved in one way. If we are helped to get a job, we will feel loved another way. If we are helped to escape from an oppressive captivity and given freedom for the rest of our life, we will feel loved another way. And if we are rescued from eternal torment and given a place in the presence of God with fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore, we will know a depth of love that surpasses all others (1 John 3:1-3). So [we see] the depth of Christ’s love by the greatness of the benefits we receive in being loved by him.
Fourth, we know the depth of someone’s love for us by the freedom with which they love us. If a person does good things for us because someone is making him, when he doesn’t really want to, then we don’t think the love is very deep. Love is deep in proportion to its liberty. So if an insurance company pays you $40,000 because you lose your spouse, you don’t usually marvel at how much this company loves you. There were legal constraints. But if your Sunday School class makes all your meals for a month after your spouse dies, and someone calls you every day, and visits you every week, then you call it love, because they don’t have to do this. It is free and willing. So [we see] the depth of Christ’s love for us in his freedom: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).
~John Piper

“How deep the fathers love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give his only son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out amoung the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts no power no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom”

My Love

My affections for the gospel run deep.  I am completely held captive and unequivocally captivated.  By the grace of my Father my heart yearns for my Jesus.  The effect of the gospel is like the potency of a narcotic … I can’t get enough … all I want is more.  

I have been asking myself how this gospel I cling to is “shallow”, as it has been said in recent days, and my conclusions end the same time and time again:  IT’S NOT!  

This gospel is beautiful! It’s engaging! It’s wondrous!
The central figure is not me, or you- It’s undeniably HIM!
The apex of HIS glory, grace, love and triumph over sin are seen in this gospel.  It is the good news of how this Holy and utterly righteous King saves those who are enemies of God.  To push this aside is to diminish the fulness and apex of Christ’s glory, and diminishes the verity of the immense cost that was paid on that cross.

More to come ….

My First TALIA Post

“Gospel-governed Freedom”

Lately, I have been spending much time (likely too much time) thinking about next year and all of the options that rest on the table that is my future. You see, I have been told “you are an American”: I have been encouraged to pursue the many things I would like to do, because I have the “freedom” to do so, but I know there is a Governor over this “freedom” who wants me to make decisions based on a different reality. As a result, I have begun to evaluate my motives that would lead me to pursue these different options, and have found some to be positive, and others to be completely self-centered and self-motivated. Yet, I cannot help but think that there is really only one driving motive that should hold any weight on my decisions. All “future” decisions, no matter what they be (i.e. school, job, church), should be made to serve others and advance the Gospel. There are some decisions that are huge, and others not so huge, but none of them should be made out of my own self-interested pursuits.
The words of Margaret Manning have encouraged me in this regard: “ In the West, freedom rules the day. In general, we are free to do and to be whatever we want. We move unhindered towards the achievement of our own personal freedoms and objectives, without worrying about impediment or coercive control from outside forces. In fact, we rarely worry about the consequences to others in the exercise of our freedom. Certainly, we enjoy the privilege of the freedom to move about our country across state borders effortlessly. We have the freedom to worship, unhindered by government intervention or surveillance. Many of us who have financial abundance are able to access freedoms that only money can buy. We are free to think as we want, speak what we want, and do what we want. In comparison with people in other countries, we have the freedom to….[ fill in the blank with endless possibilities].”
Our ideas of freedom to pursue whatever we could want or desire, even for Christians, recurrently lose their securing from the Biblical dock. We think of freedom in terms of personal rights, and fail to remember that the biblical ideal is freedom for the service of others and advancement of the Gospel.
Take for example, the apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian church while they were in the midst of conflict concerning their personal freedoms: “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his or her own good, but that of his or her neighbor….whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:23-24, 31).
Paul’s definition of freedom for the sake of the Gospel and for serving others seems to go against the grain of our culture. Through a Biblical lens, freedom is no longer defined as doing whatever one wants to do. And while we are properly disgusted when human respect and freedom are entirely taken away–as we have seen numerous times throughout history– we, as Christians, should also have a distaste for the often self-centered grasp of freedom present in Western culture. We are called to freedom, Paul reminds us, not so we can squander it on our own self-interested pursuits, but that through love we can make good use of our freedom for the sake of one another and for the gospel. We have been set free by the gospel to use that freedom for the gospel.

TALIA

Hello to anyone and everyone!

It’s been a while, but I’m just dropping in to let you know that I am now part of a rad blog coalition called TALIA.

TALIA stands for “truth and love in action”, and it’s an awesome group of people who are dedicated to the gospel, and to defending the gospel.  

I will be posting every once and a while …. but you can also read some great stuff from some of my dear friends from EBC as well as some other pretty rad people.

So, just click on this and you’ll be golden.

The End

It’s crazy how many things are coming to an end right now.  Obviously, it’s the end of the year.  The end of my first semester at EBC has come and gone.  Breaks come and go, relationships end, and pain wears off.

To sum up my first semester at EBC, I use the words unexpected and unplanned.  The things I went through, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally were things that, had I seen them before hand, would not have welcomed.  

I’ve been asked too many times to count what my plans are for next year, and I can honestly say I have no earthly idea. I want an idea.  I want to know what to do, and I want to have a plan, because then I wouldn’t be vulnerable… I wouldn’t be dependent  … I wouldn’t have to WALK-step by step-without seeing in front of me- by faith. 

To conclude this post, I’ll just say that a lot it going on, and I sincerely hope to blog more next semester … which leads me to tell you of another blogging opportunity that has been presented.  I was asked to continue blogging for EBC and will now also be blogging for a pretty rad network .  I’ll write another post about that in the coming days …

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