The Legacy of a Father...

I have to share this, and am sure that the one from whom I get this story would not mind.

Over the last few months of being pastor at Cross Timbers Bible Church I have had the joy of hearing from one of the men about his father who went to be with the Lord years ago. The impact this father had on his son - the gentleman from our congregation - cannot be overstated. At the age of 51 the father had a sudden heart attack. His son tells of going to visit him at the hospital, his father hooked up to all sorts of machines and tubes, unsure of his prognosis, and of being by his bed with tears falling down his face. His father put his hand on his head, and told him, "Son, it's all ok. If those are tears of sorrow, don't cry. If those are tears of joy, cry all you want." His father lived for 20+ years after this but there came the time when he was going home to be with the Lord. The son tells of how his father wanted the family around him at that time. How he wanted to be holding someone's hands at all times. To spend his last time here with those he loved most. The son tells what his father told him, saying, "Things are good with others. Things are in good in regards to my family. Things are good in regards to my Lord. Everything is as it should be, and everything will be ok." The thing that comes up most as the son talks about his father is what is expressed in these vignettes, that his father was a man of extraordinary faith and a man that loved others above all. 

You know what? His son is the same kind of man. He is a man who trusts the Lord our God in the midst of all things. He is a man who loves others to a fault - if that is possible. He is a man who loves and serves our church wholeheartedly. He is a man of faith, living out his faith to all those around him. He is a man who is teaching the same lessons he learned from his father to his four sons. 

A great article on the legacy of another great man, Jonathan Edwards, reads, "One hundred and seventy-three years after (Jonathan and Sara Edwards') marriage, a study was made of some 1,400 of Edwards' descendants, detailing what astonishing riches this family had contributed to the American scene. By 1900 this single marriage had produced: 13 college presidents; 65 professors; 100 lawyers and a dean of an outstanding law school; 30 judges; 56 physicians and a dean of a medical school; 80 holders of public office; 3 United States Senators; 3 mayors of large American cities; 3 governors; 1 Vice President of the United States; 1 comptroller of the United States Treasury. Members of the family had written 135 books, edited 18 journals and periodicals. They had entered the ministry in platoons, with nearly 100 of them becoming missionaries overseas.'

What a lesson to us about the legacy of our faith and love to and through our children. I can only imagine the legacy that will develop through this family in our church. Are we all aware of the spiritual legacy we leave through our children? Food for thought.

Love for God...

I am finding through fatherhood that moments continually occur that illuminate in a very real way what I thought I had already grasped. If you have seen the Disney movie, "Madagascar", you remember that it begins with a young lion trying to learn to roar from his father. His father roars with the awe & fear-inspiring, ear-crushing roar of the adult male lion...and the son lets out a squeak - when he's doing well. Well, on a whim a couple of weeks ago I "roared" at Caleb, and he thought it was the greatest game ever! Since then we have been 'roaring' and 'squeaking' back and forth constantly. The last couple of days it has degenerated into daddy smiling and laughing insanely at Caleb while he laughs insanely back and furiously kicks his legs trying to get away from daddy who is stalking him. We probably spent 30 minutes last night making mom laugh out of control even while she was trying to get us to settle down because it was well past Caleb's bedtime - love you mommy!

All that leads up to the text that I received this morning from Niki - "Caleb fell asleep and is belly laughing in his sleep! Dreaming about you, I think!" Wow! What an amazing feeling! My son asleep, but dreaming about his father - me! I had never even considered the thought, and when I did it brought me to tears. I love 'little man' so much - the thought of me inhabiting his dreams and bringing him joy means the world to me. I hope and pray that I am a source of peace and joy in his life. 

More and more, things in life are continuously sparking spiritual revelations for me. What a picture of how we ought to love our Mighty, Holy, and Loving God! Think about your dreams and how they correlate to life. Dreams are often born out of those things that are most pressing and important in our minds. Stress and anxiety produce dreams 'after their kind.' Putting certain ideas and pictures in your mind continually produce dreams 'after their kind.' Our mind is ever busy even while our body is at rest. How many of us remember having dreams about sharing the gospel, or about joyous family moments, of what eternity may be like, or even of persecution because of a life lived in faith? Many of us have had those dreams. How much more do we dream the other kinds of dreams, though? What does that say about where our minds are most efforting through the day, or how well we are dealing with the temporal by understanding the temporal in light of the eternal? Would that I, would that we, go to sleep and dream dreams of joy rested in the Father, the Son and the Spirit because that is who all of our hearts and minds are set upon all of every day!


There's Wisdom in Gardening...

It's not something that I had ever considered, but a frequent trait referenced of pastors is a love of gardening - growing the summer vegetables, growing herbs, growing flowers & roses. I am beginning to understand why - there is wisdom in gardening.


Weeding is a great leadership/shepherding lesson. Weeds are pesky little, or sometimes not so little, things. Weeds suck the life-giving water from the ground so that the plants that ought to be producing fruit do not. They may look beautiful, but bear no fruit, or it may be killing them. This is sin in the life the church. There is an inverse relationship between sin and the church bearing fruit - the fruit of the Spirit, or deeds of righteousness. The more sin, the less fruit. How do you remedy the situation? Some weeds in a garden are out in the open. They can be easily removed by a hoe, a tiller, a backhoe, or if you are of the inclination, targeted and destroyed by a tomahawk missile. Others, however, are nestled right up next to the plants you are caring for. Those weeds must be removed by hand. You have to bend down, move the plant you are caring for aside, and gently remove the weed so as to not to damage the plant. As ministers shepherd the church there are obvious issues of sin stemming from depravity in our humanity and culture that should be immediately 'nuked.' There are other issues that should be approached with care in that they intimately involve people's lives and we do not wish to damage them in dealing with sin but to remove sin for their edification, growth, and ability to bear fruit. This can only be accomplished through a reliance on the Spirit, prayer, and wisdom in leadership.


I was picking squash tonight and moved one of the leaves on a plant the wrong direction. It snapped. I had never observed the stem of a squash plant. It is essentially a hollow tube. There is nothing in the middle. It is a tube topped by a broad leaf which is the vehicle by which energy is collected in order to produce the fruit on the plant below. The sole purpose of the stem of the leaf is to support the leaf and transport nutrients. Too often we ignore this principle in living and in organizations. We are a people that overwork, that overextend credit, that overcommit ourselves in more than one arena of life, and are therefore over-stressed and have lost sight of the one reason we are here - to live lives to the glory of God. Would that we streamlined our lives so that this was our one purpose, that we would give up things that do not match this goal, and that all that is left - whether by necessity or choice - were imbued and transformed by the one intention to glorify God in all things. In this we will rediscover not only our limitations, but our purpose.


Remedies against Satan's Devices

One of the failings of the modern context is a lack of learning and reading history. In some of my reading this week I picked up "Precious Remedies Against Satan's devices" by one of the Puritans, Thomas Brooks. See if the "devices of Satan" as Thomas Brooks sees them in 1652 are not still extremely applicable to today!

("Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices", Thomas Brooks. Puritan Paperbacks, The Banner of Truth Trust, PA - (c)2000.)

Satan's Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin

1. By presenting the bait and hiding the hook
2. By painting sin with virtue's colors
3. By the extenuating and lessening of sin
4. By showing to the soul the best men's sins and by hiding from the soul their virtues, their sorrows, and their repentance.
5. By presenting God to the soul as One made up all of mercy.
6. By persuading the soul that repentance is easy and that therefore the soul need not scruple about sinning.
7. By making the soul bold to venture upon the occasions of sin.
8. By representing to the soul the outward mercies enjoyed by men walking in sin, and their freedom from outward miseries.
9. By presenting to the soul the crosses, losses, sorrows and sufferings that daily attend those who walk in the ways of holiness.
10. By causing saints to compare themselves and their ways with those reputed to be worse than themselves.
11. By polluting the souls and judgments of men with dangerous errors that lead to looseness and wickedness.
12. By leading men to choose wicked company.

Satan's Devices to Keep Souls From Holy Duties, To Hinder Souls in Holy Services, to Keep Them off From Religious Performances

1. By presenting the world in such a garb as to ensnare the soul
2. By presenting to the soul the dangers, losses and sufferings that accompany the performance of certain religious duties.
3. By presenting to the soul the difficulty of performing religious duties.
4. By causing saints to draw false inferences from the blessed and glorious things that Christ has done.
5. By presenting to view the fewness and poverty of those who hold to religious practices.
6. By showing saints that the majority of men make light of God's ways and walk in the ways of their own hearts.
7. By casting in vain thoughts while the soul is seeking God or waiting on God
8. By tempting Christians to rest in their performances.

Satan's Devices to Keep Saints in A Sad, Doubting, Questioning and Uncomfortable Condition

1. By causing saints to remember their sins more than their Saviour, yea, even to forget and neglect their Saviour.
2. By causing saints to make false definitions of their graces.
3. By causing saint to make false inferences from the cross actings of Providence.
4. By suggesting to saints that their graces are not true, but counterfeit.
5. By suggesting to saints that the conflict that is in them is found also in hypocrites and profane souls.
6. By suggesting to the saint who has lost joy and comfort that his state is not good.
7. By reminding the saint of his frequent relapses into sin formerly repented of and prayed against.
8. By persuading saints that their state is not good nor their graces sound.

There's more in the book, but do not several of these ring true! The gospel is at the heart of grace, our faith, our conversion, and every aspect of our living. A correct understanding and application of the gospel is the only thing that ultimately will shield believers from such devices.


How Did I Get Here? God's blessings on a boy.

Sitting at the office this morning I looked over to the corner of my desk to take a glance at the bifold picture frame sitting there. In it is one of my favorite photos from my wedding 2-1/2 years ago, and a recent photo of our almost eight-month-old son in his easter vest and tie outfit. I was captured by the question that came to mind - maybe because my wife and son are headed to Midland today and will be gone for two days; maybe because I'm a proud father and a smitten husband, "How did I get here?"

Do we sit back often enough simply to look back at where we have come from? Do you remember the child that you were? Do you remember the things you loved, the things you dreamed about - those things that were catalyzing in you which would become the aspirations of adolescence? Some people we call lucky because they are now living out the dreams that sprang forth in their youth. The rest of humanity, and often ourselves, we look upon with some pity because they are not living out those dreams, and we nostalgically spend evenings sharing with one another what we had hoped for and what might have been, ending the night with a long sigh of resignation, reluctantly turning back to consider the present and the future which, when compared to the dreams of the past, do not hold the same hope, same vitality, same excitement for us. I, we, you do not stop there, do we? What follows privately is the analyzation of what we could have done to make those dreams come true. Where were our mistakes? When did we compromise and let those things slip away from us? What can we do to get some measure of those dreams to be realized in the reality we find ourselves in? How might our future be endued with the dreams we once held?

Sound familiar? Be careful here! While some of us may be able to point out distinct decisions and mistakes made that have affected our life-paths, it is rarely so clear. We had certain hopes and dreams, and they looked great, beautiful and wonderful - because they were dreams! Hopes and dreams are not hopes and dreams unless they look great! There is nothing wrong with having hopes and dreams but there is a subtle issue underlying these nights of self-analysis and consternation, namely, were we in our youth pursuing the Lord, seeking from Him what our hopes and dreams ought to be? Somewhere between then and now we, as believers, learn to pursue God's dreams as our dreams, which correctly causes the dreams of our adolescence to be left behind, or modified/morphed to be those God desires for us.

Why do we invest so much importance and nostalgia into dreams that we our own and not the Father's? Why would we allow those things to cause angst, anxieties, frustrations, anger, and depression in our lives? Why hold on to things 'not of God' if we are now striving with all of ourselves to be both in word and deed, 'of God'? Shouldn't we more often look at photos of our life and be in awe of what God has done, be thankful for the blessings we have that have surpassed adolescent dreaming, be called to worship the One who has brought us through so much to where we are?

I did dream of a family, and I have the best. I have been blessed with a wife who loves me unconditionally, and a son that is already one of the coolest kids I know. I am sitting in the office of a church that has embraced my family as family, working on Sunday's sermon and dreaming about its future. What a place to be! - realizing that the dreams of youth have been surpassed by the Grace of God, and dreaming with a church in its adolescence the dreams of its youth. May the church come to a place years from now where it too is able to say that the Lord has blessed above and beyond all the dreams of youth.

"For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them." - Psalm 139:13, 15-16.


Thought For Today - 5.14.2009

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." (2 Peter 1:2)

What is it that people pursue in life? Isn't the pursuit of humanity a pursuit of Grace and Peace? God's 'Common Grace' is shed abroad on the earth in the provision of all good things man needs to live and prosper. This can lead to peace for men, but so often it does not. Remember, Peter is writing to churches suffering various social & civil persecutions because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They have little peace, and yet Peter is writing to them that peace is found in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!

Upon what does Peace depend? The knowledge of God and our Savior Jesus Christ! Grace and Peace are "multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." It was Tozer who stated in Knowledge of the Holy, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason the gravest question before the church/man is always God Himself, and the most portentious fact about any man...what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like." Our understanding of God in who He reveals Himself to be drives our understanding of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Christ for our sins; and our understanding of both undergirds God's specific Grace in our lives and the peace that coincides with it. Without Grace there is not true peace. The travesty for many Christians today is that in the midst of Grace there is still no peace! We too often must hear the question of Paul to the Galatians, "Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?" The message of the gospel is one in which we needed all of our righteousness before God to be provided for us by Jesus Christ. The message of the gospel tells us that all that we would do that is good in God's eyes is accomplished in and through us by the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The message of the gospel tells us that our sovereign, loving God provides all good things for us, even trial and suffering. Understanding God, Christ, and the gospel leads to peace in the midst of all things!

Where are you struggling with anxiety, fear, anger, frustration in life? In what ways are you operating "in the flesh" to bring success or your own desired ends in those arenas? Where are you experiencing a lack of peace because of your Christian testimony? In what ways are you not resting in the peace of God that comes through the knowledge of Him, Christ, and the accomplishment of Grace for us in Christ? Be diligent, live at peace with all men as far as it is up to you, be ready to give an answer for your faith in gentleness and reverence, and rest in the knowledge of God and our savior, Jesus Christ - therein is peace!


My Beautiful Bride...


I love you so much! My life is as good as it is because of God's grace, and you are a gifting of His grace in my life second only to my election and justification in Jesus Christ. You are a beautiful mother, and a more excellent wife than I deserve.

I am so very thankful that you allowed us to structure our finances this year to allow me to come to the Shepherd's conference! The Lord has worked in you to work for my sanctification. I am blessed among men in you. You truly are the crown and crown jewel in my life. I am praying that you and Caleb enjoy your week and that you find rest and direction in the bosom of the Father. I love you, my beautiful bride...

Shepherd's Conference ~ The First Day (Check-in)

I awoke this morning with the mixed feelings of excited anticipation and lethargic exhaustion. The little sleep I had the night before I left with the extra two hours of staying up due to the time change was catching up to me. I drug myself out of bed, showered, and joined the teaming masses of LA traffic streaming into "the valley" on a raining Wednesday morning.

I am so excited to be here this week. I got to the check-in table and the lady said, "Welcome to Shepherd's Conference! Can I get your name?", and I almost broke down weeping. The Conference last year was such a wonderful time of encouragement, worship, exhortation and admonishment! I stood there filled with the knowledge that once again God would use a short three or four days to change my life and my thinking, and that through the depth of the worship and teaching, and the breadth of the testimonies of the Lord's greatness in the men attending.

I do not have the time to convey it all at the moment, but I have already been challenged severely in my fidelity to Scripture and the elements with which I am engaged in "building" the church of God. I have had the blessing of hearing men who are here from Russia and the Eastern Bloc, from the Middle East, from Asia, From Africa, and from Central and South America. What a wonderful picture of glory!

Before my thoughts get too random I am going to sign off for the evening. I need to go sit with some coffee and allow the Lord to knead into my mind, heart and soul the "salt" that has been "rubbed" on my life today. May the Lord search me, know my thoughts and ways, and refine me in the process...


New Updates Coming Soon

Sorry for the lack of posts. We are in the process of moving from Dallas to Weatherford, TX. The Lord has led us to Cross Timbers Bible Church near Peaster, TX just northwest of Weatherford where I am the new pastor. The church is absolutely wonderful! We have been loved on more than we deserve and look forward to all that we will learn as we continue to follow the Lord in obedience. Check out the church at www.crosstimbersbiblechurch.com, and you can catch up on our family at Niki's blog, www.carmancrew.blogspot.com.

New posts will be coming mid-February!


The Fruit of the Spirit...

Much is written in academic circles on the continuity or discontinuity of the Law from the Old Testament to the New in relationship to the life of the believer. Does the Law still apply? If so, how much of it and which parts? Should we only take those parts of the Law that are repeated in the teaching of the New Testament?

Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, states, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished." One may argue that what needed accomplishing was the death of Christ on the cross, but the "passing away" of heaven and earth argues for a more eschatological view of when "all is accomplished." Does the believer need to memorize the 613 specific mandates of the Law? Maybe the 10 Commandments are enough? I would like to propose that one should instead focus on the 9 Fruits.

"The fruit of the spirit is: 1) Love, 2) Joy, 3) Peace, 4) Patience, 5) Kindness, 6) Goodness, 7) Faithfulness, 8)Gentleness, and 9) Self-Control - against such things THERE IS NO LAW! (Gal 5:22-23) Christ completely exemplified and demonstrated these characteristics in His life and ministry which was often contrasted with the life and approach of the Pharisees. A great eye-opener is to study the beliefs of the Pharisees in parallel with modern orthodox evangelicalism. The beliefs are essentially the same, and all too often the results are too - we get legalistic. Grace provides freedom, and freedom was provided through Christ. While we are not free to licentiousness or continual sin, we are free from the constraints of any legalistic set of rules; free to be obedient to scripture; free to pursue Christ-likeness by the helping ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives - we are free to live under a "new law" which is not Law but Grace! The manifestation of grace is the fruit of the Spirit, and where the fruit of the Spirit is being manifested there is no need for Law because Law will not be broken. In fact, it will be perfectly kept as it was meant to be kept.

So, rather than worrying about the Law, or legalistic constraints that men devise, believers should pursue Christ-likeness. The result will be the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, and I think that we would be surprised at the free giving up of our liberties and self-imposed constraints we each would develop as we seek to exemplify Christ, not cause our brothers to stumble, and live at peace with all men. Study the Fruit of the Spirit and ask the Lord to reveal to you where in your life they are not being manifested, and make this a continual practice as you "walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Eph 4:1).


Christ and Culture...

I am amazed sometimes at the liberties culture will take with things that are closely tied to Christianity. Watching the Monday Night Football game tonight I saw a commercial for the new "Saw V" horror flick. The tag line for the movie is "WWJD?" Sound familiar? Made popular by the recent popularity of the classic book, "In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?", the WWJD has been a pop-Christian icon in the last couple of decades.

It is not surprising that something like this should happen, but the intentional irony that is produced by the usage of this phrase for this movie should not be overlooked. Christ came so that the image of God (Imagio Dei) in man would be restored; the movie makes the mutilation and killing of men entertainment. Christ came so that those who place their faith in him would be perfected in the flesh; the movie is about the gratuitous destruction of the flesh. Christ willingly went to the cross and allowed his flesh to be mutilated for the expiation and propitiation of sin; the main character of the movie will take joy in mutilating the flesh of others.

WWJD was a phrase to cause people to consider the willing sacrifice of Christ at the cross as a standard for our daily living. Not enough in and of itself to bring about the salvation of souls, nor should it be left as the intended significance of Christ's death at the cross, WWJD is a valid question for those who have understood the gospel message and responded in faith to ask themselves as they live out lives for the glory of God. The blatant use of the same acronym (WWJD? - 'What Would Jigsaw Do?') for "Saw V" flies in the face of the message of the life and death of Jesus Christ.

Am I surprised at this in a world that is fallen, corrupt and sinful? No. But neither do I want to blink in surprise when I see it and then go on as if I never did see it. How many Christians will go to this movie for "entertainment" without thinking about the ramifications of how Hollywood has placed this movie in ironic apposition with the faith?



Have you ever watched a newborn suck on a pacifier? You should sometime. Suck, suck, suck, suck, suck - breathe, breathe, and do it again, and again, and again. :) I was holding Caleb last night after he had dinner and he was loving the pacifier. For the first time he was eyes wide open for a long period of time and interacting with the world around him. Suck, suck, suck, suck, suck - breath, breathe. Suck, suck, suck, suck, suck - breathe, breath. Sitting in the arms of his father, trusting without yet being able to articulate it that his life will be sustained. Suck, suck, suck, breathe, breathe.

What a picture for the Christian! To have the ability to rest so completely in the arms of the Father and enjoy the simple things in life. To trust in breathe and life. To be fed from a source outside yourself. To be sustained by another. To have your eyes wide open trying to perceive and understand what is around you. To interact without going out and creating your own issues from sin, the desire to control, or the 'need' to fulfill desires. Would that as adults we could learn to live life in the manner of babes,

Suck, suck, suck, suck, suck - breathe, breathe.


Biblical Anthropology - Control Freaks

Every so often a 'stray thought' hits me and I realize that the Lord is teaching me something in the midst of life. This week has been really tough for us. We went in last Friday to have our son 5 weeks early by C-section. We were hopeful that he would be perfect and fine but knew that there could be complications because he was so early. Well, he came out great, gave us a good yell, and then decided that he didn't feel like breathing on his own! They were able to get him to breath, and he has steadily been improving since, but this whole week has been spent trying to get Niki back on her feet after the C-section and watching our young son struggle to learn to breathe on his own in the NICU.

How does this relate to Biblical Anthropology? I was in the truck (I don't even remember where I was going!) and it hit me that we often say that one of man's great issues is the desire to control everything around him rather than allowing God to have and exercise control. How do we understand and approach the issue of control?

Man was created to exert control. Kings in the Ancient Near East would leave their image behind in conquered lands so that the people would know who ruled. The thought often was that the conquering king had brought order to disorder and thus blessed that land by imposing his rule. This idea seems to have arisen directly from the Biblical narrative. God brought order to the disorder of matter that existed immediately at the beginning of creation. To that which was "formless and void" God brought order progressively through the days of creation. On the sixth day God created the "capstone" of all of creation - man. Man was created in God's image in order to rule creation under His authority which began with Adam's caretaking of the Garden of Eden.

In the Fall of man in sin, man moved from a position of appropriate exercise of control in accordance with the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God to the position of attempting to exercise control in the same manner as God! Satan tempts with the phrase, "you will be like God (in knowing good and evil)." One of the benefits of being like God is to exercise absolute control. Here is the problem with men - that rather than exercising control in a way that is good and pleasing to God and in alignment with His will we try to control things around us to achieve the results that we desire.

This has been our struggle this week as we have watched Caleb struggle to make it through his first days of life - that we cannot control what is going on. I have seen two extreme reactions to the situation: 1) Anxiety/Fear, and 2) Control what you can and wait for things to develop to a point where you can exert control over things again. If you struggle with fear and anxiety consider that maybe you are trying to control things to ends that you desire, and in the absence of being able to, or knowing how to, achieve desired results you experience fear and anxiety. Or, if you walk around looking assured but are constantly stressed out consider that you have learned to exert control where you can and then wait until things develop to a point where you can control things again. Neither of these reactions are proper. Instead, we ought to ascertain what God's will is and then exert what control we have in situations to make things be in keeping with His will in order to produce results that bring glory to His name! This is what man was created to do. So, does God need to have control in all things? Yes! But we should realize that He has chosen in His mercies to use us in some things (not all!) to exercise control and to do so in a manner in keeping with His good, perfect, and pleasing will so that His wisdom "might be made manifest to the rulers and powers in the heavenly places."


Knowing and Following the Will of God

In March I was privileged to attend the Shepherd's Conference at John MacArthur's church, Grace Community, in California. Thank you, Denton Bible and Brent Bowen for making that possible! It was three days of men sharpening men in the Word, and it changed my life. One of the better sessions I attended was on knowing the will of God by Jonathan Rourke. Below I am putting my notes for the benefit of whoever this may encourage. We live in a generation that seeks for signs and logical argumentation, and this is nothing new - "For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom." (1 Cor. 1:22) So, how do we understand God's will?

We begin by living according to what the Word says rather than how culture has taught us to live. This is why it is vital to be in Scripture daily. After Moses gave Israel the Law for the second time he says in Deuteronomy, "See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity." Life comes through obedience to God's word and death through disobedience. The vitality of our walk with Christ will rise and fall with our obedience to the Word of God. Our daily intake of Scripture will provide the ammunition to withstand the insidious advice and standards of secular culture.

Walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18)
1. The Command ~ "Walk by the Spirit."
2. The Promise ~ "You will not carry out the desire of the flesh."
3. The Warning ~ The spirit and the flesh are in opposition
4. Clarification ~ "If you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law."

The "error that must be exploded is the idea that faith in Christ is one thing and holiness is another; that obedience is some how optional after faith." (Piper) There is no Biblical division between faith and obedience. A strong desire to obey arises out of understanding that leads to faith. How can you be adopted as sons and daughters into the household of the Most High and not expect, even desire passionately, to obey Him!

Walking "in a manner worthy" (Eph 4:1) is only possible when walking by, with, and according to the Spirit. Without our walk being based on an inner vitality provided by the Spirit we will be no better than the Pharisees - we become legalistic. Keep Galatians 3:3 in mind, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?"
Only by walking in the Spirit will we not carry out the desires of the flesh, and because of the indwelling of the Spirit we no longer need the 'tutoring' of the Law for righteousness but are taught and led into all righteousness by the Spirit.

Fight the Flesh (I Thessalonians 4:1-8)
1. Obey God
2. Please God
3. Fear God

You can actually please God and be assured of it. He has revealed it that it is possible. You obey God's commandments that He has given, which are for your sanctification. You will only live Holy because of a reverent fear of the Lord. We sin because we do not fear God enough. A.W. Tozer wrote in Knowledge of the Holy, "The most important thing about a person is their concept of God." A person who has sought to know God cannot help but come to fear Him. See Deuteronomy 4:10-12. God assembled the nation to receive the Law so that they would fear Him! God's revelation of Himself cause this in us as much as we come to understand His grace and mercy. Notice that Moses points out that God was on the mountain in fire and smoke and thunder; that Israel heard His voice but did not see His form. They were not able to see His form because we have a propensity as humans to attempt to define God in order to gain a comfortable understanding of who He is. If you feel you have come to understand God you should be uncomfortable; if you are beginning to truly understand Him you will find your self uncomfortable - and this is the beginning of true Fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom.

If you are practicing these two internal aspects of walking by the Spirit and Fearing the Lord you will be able to move to the outward aspects of following God's will.

Submit to Authority (1 Peter 2:13-17)
1. Submit to Human Authority
2. Silence Human Opposition

To submit is different than obeying. Submission to human authority carries with it a limited commitment whereas obedience to the Father carries a complete commitment. You will not disobey the Word of God in order to obey human authority.

Rejoice in Trials (1 Peter 4:12-19)
1. Resist the Temptation to fear
2. Rejoice in your share of suffering
3. Remember the Cost of Obedience
4. Rest in the Coming of the King!

This has an eschatological view to it. What we do in our few short years will impact eternity. In proportion to how this is modeled will it become an infectious, spreading, glorious disease among your people.

What about hard times and unexplainable losses and difficulties? How can one know if they are punishment from the Lord seeking one's repentance or circumstances allowed for the increasing of our faith? You cannot know either way for certain, but you can rest in that God works all things for the good, and thus you should experience them with joy and peace in faith. See Joseph's story. Sold into slavery by his own brothers in Egypt, thrown into prison there, and ultimately raised through God's hand to the highest position in the land under Pharaoh he tells his brothers, "Do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life." What a testimony of faith in the midst of impossible circumstances! If you are living wholly for the Lord you are assured that you will suffer.

Finally, delight yourself in the Lord and follow these principles. By so doing God's providential will will be over all things in your life - who you marry, your career and current employment, where you live, how you spend your time, etc. Your heart will seek to please the Lord in all things and, able to truly rely upon the Spirit and hear His still small voice, you will be living according to His will in a manner pleasing to Him. We worry too much about the "one thing" we should do in every situation and thus gravitate too much to hearing His specific will in all things and seeing a "sign" of His will for all things.
So much confusion can be removed through devoted study to the Word in order to come to truly know God and the revelation of His will for how we should live our life every day rather than living for ourselves until a big decision comes along that we feel we ought to take to Him for a decision.

Under Construction

I made an effort a few months ago to start a blog. I didn't do a good job keeping up with it. I will be updating this blog in the next week or two and keeping up with it, so check back soon!