Sunday, November 23, 2008

Prophets of our Time

The prophets of our time have stolen the words of God,
distorting them to form
the doctrines for a world that desires
to have its ears tickled with
deceit and lies.

By His Grace.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

God's Gracious Healing

"I have seen his ways, but I will heal him." -Isaiah 57:18

Much like in the days of Isaiah as he preached judgment against Israel and Judah who continually turned against the Lord, we live in a nation whose heart is far from Him. To say we are a Christian nation is tomfoolery if you ask me. We are dependent on the latest trends and fashions, find our comfort in countless hours of television and movies, spend money we do not have, seek happiness in the wrong places, try to find satisfaction in "casual" sexual relationships, think joy comes in drunkenness and drugs, and are somehow convinced that possessions provide meaning. Bottom line is we are a horrifically idolatrous people. God has seen our ways.

But He will heal us.

How powerful and beautiful this grace that God gives! He knows my disgusting, perverted ways, yet He has healed me through Christ. This is the matchless love of God! Could it be that all the healings Christ performed while walking on this fallen earth embody just this? The healings point not just to a restoration of blindness, deafness, or sickness--mere physical and superficial things--but to a complete restoration in relationship to God through what Jesus Christ accomplished in His life, death, burial, and resurrection. This eternal healing in Christ points to a time when God "will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore" (Revelation 21:4).

God knows my ways. He knows your ways. He knows our nation's ways. But He will heal us by His grace freely given through His Son. May we all repent and draw near to God, Our Healer.

By His Grace.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Family, Study, Prayer--Thoughts From "America's Pastor"

I recently read a Q & A with America's Pastor, Billy Graham, as he recently turned 90 years old. Now many of us know who Billy Graham is so I won't go into a description, but one question in particular did catch my attention. Dr. Graham was asked, "Do you have any regrets?" and I could almost answer the question for him: "Why no, of course not!" Why should he have any regrets? He is considered one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, advised presidents, rubbed shoulders with other icons of the world and celebrity types alike. He saw millions around the world come to Jesus! What regrets could he have? Well, after being asked the question, here is what Dr. Graham, a man much wiser than I, had to say:
I regret that I didn't spend more time with my family; I'm sure Ruth and the children paid a heavy price for all the times I was absent. I always tell younger evangelists not to feel like they have to accept every invitation they get, or be absent from home so much. We can do so much today through modern communications.

And then I also wish I had studied more, and spent more time in prayer.
  1. Time with family
  2. Study
  3. Prayer

This is very sobering for a young, single guy like me in seminary, where I have both the opportunity to look into history to see the impact of Billy Graham and also the opportunity to strive forward in not having the same regrets as he does. Furthermore, I think these are potent words for Christian men all over the world in all fields of work, recognizing that these three things--family, study, and prayer--deserve and demand our fullest attention and top prioritization as we walk with Christ. Understandable that work is necessary and should be done well, but work does not require our heart or devotion like these three do and we must never lose sight of that. I have heard too many stories of husbands who are married to their church or their job and not to their wives. I have heard too many stories of absent fathers who do not lead by example for their children. I have heard too many stories of men whose work destroys their devotional lives to where they haven't prayed or spent time in Scripture for days or weeks.

Please, let us see clearly, without fogged, arrogant lenses, these words of the wise, humble man of 90 years, Billy Graham, and take them to heart, praying and fighting with all that God's Spirit gives us strength to fight for intimacy with our families, devoted study in God's Word, and passionate prayer to Him in all things.

By His Grace.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Senior Adult Choir Performing Pop Hits!

This is one of the best videos I've seen in a long time. Enjoy crying...from laughing so hard!

By His Grace.

Friday, November 07, 2008

"Lisi, Where You Going to Church?"

This has been an enormous topic of conversation since my arrival at Trinity, and rightly so. I strongly believe the Bible teaches about being involved in a local church, not forsaking meeting together as it is part of leading us to be filled with love and desirous of good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). I wrote a series of notes on going to church, but sadly they are scattered throughout my notes on Facebook. So the link provided is from my latest note, which refers to the verse referenced here. If you are really interested, you can track back through all my notes to read the rest. I trust Facebook will soon provide the ability to tag these notes.

Anyway, finding a church here did not prove as easy as my experience when I arrived back from Italy. The first thing I made sure I did when I got to Gainesville was to plug myself into Creekside Community Church because of the teaching, the community, and the discipleship that goes on there. The luxury of that was not found here, particularly because I was hoping to find something in the city I could get involved with as I believe God is calling me to plant churches in urban settings.

Well about a month ago, through a series of providential events and interactions, I have found my home church! In fact, it is a church that really isn't even a church yet; it will be a church plant ("plant" is a word for a starting church) established in January. The plant's name is The Line and will be started by a gent named Aaron who is moving down with his wife and three kids. We will begin in the Lincoln Park (just north of Downtown Chicago) area and see how God moves things from there.

I spent a good bit of time talking with Aaron, reading over his plan, talking with professors, mentors, and friends, finally coming to a prayerful decision, trusting that God is behind this. What it means is that I will be moving down to the City in January! I am trying to work out the details for that because it alters what my seminary experience quite a bit.

I hope to provide more details in the future (via video???), but for now, check out the website to see more details. Also, if you are a prayerful individual, please be praying for them and their transition along with the logistical stuff for my move (a place, the finances, school schedule, job, etc.)

Here's a link to The Line if you're interested in checking it out.

By His Grace.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Voted Today (With Thoughts of Our True Ruler)

After all the campaigning and talks on the issues and blogging and endless media coverage and all other things, today it all comes to a head.

I voted today, but have been encouragingly reminded of my true ruler, who isn't a president, but King! So yes, today I exercised my right as an American to vote, but very much with certain thoughts in mind and heart as I have been reading through Isaiah. If you read this, keep these in mind regardless of who becomes our next president tonight:
Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

-Isaiah 40:21-23

I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.

-Isaiah 42:8

And finally these striking images from Revelation of Jesus coming to execute final judgment on peoples and nations who refused to repent of sin which he so willingly sought to forgive through the Cross. Here we see our Just King:
he is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.-Revelation 19:13-16

I did vote today. And I will continue submit to the authority of the rulers of this nation (Romans 13:1-7). I will to pray for my country and its leadership.

But I also know who my True Ruler is. To Him alone be all the praise, honor, and glory.

By His Grace.

Little Girl No Longer Crying...

As a follow-up to the crying child episode I figured I would share that I saw her several times after that fateful day. Each time she stared at me as I walked by her; I feared that she her spontaneous combustion would occur any moment. In fact, when I walked by her, a friend and I actually thought that her head spun 180 degrees so she could see us at all times, even when her back was turned!!!

Well after Octobeard and the free haircut from Dina at Sport Clips, the little girl no longer recognizes me. Her father was carrying her down the stairs of the chapel tonight and she was as happy as a peach in Georgia primed for pluckin'!

She now fears me not.