accuser

It always makes me sad when people hear a sermon and judgementally say something like, “That was good, I sure hope so and so was paying attention to this…” or “So and So could really learn something from this sermon…”  And while it is not as appalling, it even happens on my blog, “So and so should read this so they stop whatever sin it is they are committing…” or “YOU should read your own stuff, (and some accusation of sin on my part).”

Yes, I often get people who want to accuse me of something.  Unfortunately, most of the accusers on social media or the blog commit three big mistakes when they accuse:

First, they are either vague about the sin or completely off base.

Second they post the accusation publicly.

Third, they remain anonymous.

Which, according to Jesus in Matthew 18, is not how loving church discipline works.

The times that I have most benefited from being called out are when the person does not hide behind a fake avatar, is very specific about the sin I am committing or have committed, and comes to me privately in love. That is, when they follow the order in which JESUS set out. It is then that I can really take the accusation seriously, because I know that this person is acting out of love, even if my initial reaction is defensive. This way, discipline is done with concern for the sinner’s soul, with an attitude of building up, and out of a desire to glorify God. The other way an accusation is done is out of bitterness, hatred, and a desire to tear down or cause suffering. But, having said that, with any accusation of sin, comes the call to examine oneself in light of scripture.  And we should not lightly brush it off, but instead turn to God in prayer.

This is one aspect of blogging I never saw coming. Aside from the negative accusations of the sneering spiritual dwarf, I have had a number of pastors call me out on doctrinal error, or incorrect interpretation of scripture.  I have had a number of seminary students call me out for my choice of beer, and my position on other things.  I have had older Christians ask me to reel it in in a notch or two. On more than a couple occasions I have been brought down a peg for coming across as an arrogant jerk. My wife often accuses me of having poor grammar and punctuation.

For some strange reason God has used this blog as a catalyst to get people to accuse me of sin, which in turn has led to a lot of introspection, prayer and meditation on the Word.  If you want to grow in holiness, if you want holes poked in your arrogance and pride, if you want to be held accountable according to Scripture…I can think of no better way than being a public Christian.  There is no hiding. You will be scrutinized. So start a Christian blog, or a vlog, or a facebook page or a podcast.

I mean really. Who knew blogging could lead to sanctification?

To those more mature than I (which is most of you I think), who have come to me privately via email, over the phone, or over a coffee … Thank you.  God is using you.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.  But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.  For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. ~ Matthew 18:15-20

One Christian Son

Posted: September 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

10599117_10152293211482595_6134067075251192471_nIt is with thankfulness to the Lord that Teresa and I announce the birth of our first son, Noah Michael, born this morning and weighing in at an even 8lbs.  Mom and Baby are doing great

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
    “therefore I will hope in him.”. ~Lamentations 3:22-24

Veggietales: Beauty and the Beet

Posted: September 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

I am excited that One Christian Dad was chosen to review the new movie, VeggieTales: Beauty and the Beet, before it gets released October 14, 2014!

Actually, my girls will be more excited once they find out!

Stay tuned for the review.  In the meantime…enjoy the pictures below :)

VT_BB1_Mirabelle and the Beet

VT_BB0_Beauty and the Beet

Sometimes having a reputation is a good thing – the good kid, the smart girl, the honest guy, the cheerful giver, the guy who will help anyone.  But sometimes, and more often than not, reputations are not so great. They become labels that we can’t shake. The guy who can’t hold a job.  The lazy one, the drunkard, the gossip, the angry guy, the wierdo, the loser,

the cheater…

the addict…

the abuser…

the slut…

large_a25bcbe406308a80df56

Once we are labelled, once that sin is attached to you, it is seemingly impossible to break free from it.  Even when the label no longer fits.  Even when you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and have spiritually matured in Christ and repented of these things, and moved on in the power of the Holy Spirit toward Christ-likeness…they can still haunt you.  Reputations are nasty, icky, sticky things.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

For most of us, as we grow in grace, we outgrow those labels.  They no longer describe us, but there will always be those people who associate us with the sins of our past.  Those people who will always see you as the adulterer.  The liar.  The thief. The angry kid. Defending ourselves is often pointless, even though it hurts to hear it.

I know it happens.  It happens to me fairly often.  There are those people who say to me, “I can’t believe YOU want to be a pastor!  What about the alcohol, nightclubs, debauchery…you used to curse like a sailor, you used to hate God!?” 

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Luke 5:32

And I do it too.

And so do you.

sb_blog2We all like to think of the high school bully as still being a bully 20 years later, because he was a jerk and he deserves to be thought of as one…right?  And the guy who was a jerk to his wife and kids, will always be one…right? And the thief on the cross will always…oh wait.

Some people don’t want to believe that people can change.

But people do change, because God changes people.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Maybe you never stole anything, or hit your kids, or had an affair, but if you are His child,  He has changed you.  You are a new creation. Have you not grown in grace? Have you not matured? We have this crazy compartmentalization thing that happens when we think about the grace of God, as if it is only for those people that we like.  We say things like, “There is grace enough for all,” “God loves everyone,” “We are all sinners,” but… do we really believe it?  Do we apply that to the difficult situation we are facing with that ridiculously obtuse person?  What about that unwed girl who had a baby?  Does she get God’s grace?  What about the guy who was caught in an affair?  Or the angry guy? Or the kid who used to trick girls into sleeping with him? What about that guy who hurt you so badly that you can’t even talk to him any more because of the pain?

Do we believe that he is beyond redemption?  If we do…then we are playing God.  Have you done that?  Have you traded in the grace of God for an idol based on a reputation?

 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God !~ Romans 3:23

Everyone one of us should have a label. Yet God is gracious.  Jesus knows the truth about you.  Jesus knows the truth about me.

And He doesn’t care.

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. ~ 1 Peter 2:24

Jesus gave us grace beyond measure. And if in our lives we are not offering this same grace to others, then we have not really grasped what grace is. But there is grace for that as well.

To all the hurting souls out there.  Those people shackled by the labels they earned prior to being met by Jesus: Hang in there. Just keep at it.  Don’t give up.  Keep pressing into the arms of God. Pray continually.  Walk in the truth. Ignore the haters.  And don’t waste your time and energy trying to tell your side of the story.  It just frustrates.  Words will not change minds, but actions might.  And then sometimes, nothing will change peoples minds. There are people who believe that I have not changed.  There are people who think that I am just putting on a show with this blog, and the talk about going to seminary. Those people will probably never believe me, because some people  don’t want to believe that people can change.  So maybe you are sincere.  Maybe Jesus really has become your delight.  Maybe you really have grown in love, in patience, in gentleness.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer ~ Romans 12:12

Keep at it.  The haters will always see the wrong you did.  They will always point out when you screw up again, but they won’t see your growth. They won’t see Christ shining in you. And that doesn’t mean that they are not real Christians, it just means they are sinful as well. This is a messy, broken, busted up world, tainted with sin after all. So trust in Jesus.  He knows how much it hurts.  Don’t waste your time on those who have no grace for you.  But do have grace for them, because Jesus had grace for all of you.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast ~ Ephesians 2:8

In the end, your reputation doesn’t matter.  That label is put there by men.  God has given you a new label.  You are a child of God.  Let your new life in Christ show by your actions whose label you wear, not by your words or by your social media status updates. Be a walking testimony to Jesus and the immeasurable grace you have received from his hands.

You may suffer.  Scratch that.  You WILL suffer, but don’t lose heart, his glory will be enough.  Don’t put your hope in this world or the people in it, put your hope in the promises of God.

 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

A Thought on Baptism

Posted: September 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

download (9)Soon, my wife and I will have a new baby boy, Lord willing.

Baptism has been on my mind a lot of late.  What does it mean? What about the mode?  What about the subject? etc. etc. etc.  I have studied baptism in depth, more so than any other doctrine. Probably because I came from a Credobaptist (believer) view and now hold a Paedobaptist (infants of believers) view.

My church adheres to the the heidelberg Catechism which says:

74. Q.

Should infants, too, be baptized?

A.

Yes.
Infants as well as adults
belong to God’s covenant and congregation. 1
Through Christ’s blood
the redemption from sin
and the Holy Spirit, who works faith,
are promised to them
no less than to adults. 2
Therefore, by baptism, as sign of the covenant,
they must be incorporated into the Christian church
and distinguished from the children of unbelievers. 3
This was done in the old covenant by circumcision, 4
in place of which baptism was instituted
in the new covenant. 5

Beautiful, and I do agree, but I could not stop there.

I had to dig further.

I have been blessed to read about baptism written by theologians like Louis Berkhof, John Calvin, Wayne Grudem, John Macarthur, JI Packer, RC Sproul, AH Strong, John Murray, Millard Erickson, John Wesley, Zwingli, Luther, …oh this list could go on. Each have their cases built on scripture. In all my study of this sacrament, unless one tosses out the new covenant completely in their view of salvation, there is one overarching theme that continues to shine through, regardless of theological bent. Even those who promote believer baptism, tend to lean to this view.  And in the simplest terms I can think of it is this:

Baptism is not about me saying, “I am yours,” it is about God saying, “You are mine.”

Baptism is a sign of the covenant that He makes with us. When we look carefully at the teaching of Scripture, we see that the sign of the covenant was applied to infants prior to Christ, and presumably continued to be applied to them when Jesus changed it to baptism.

So, while it is premature, I look forward to the baptism of our new baby boy, and the promises that God makes through this sacrament.

SDG

Where is it that Video You Posted?

Posted: September 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Hi One Christian Dad,

 

I enjoy reading your blog.  My friend told me to head over here and watch an anti prosperity gospel video you had put up here.  I cannot find it…. Joe V.

 

Hi Joe,

Thanks for reading! I tend to post things I write myself on the blog website, and leave the other stuff for social media (Facebook/twitter).  Although I do sometimes post short “pseudo-articles” on Facebook as well.  The video you are looking for I posted on Facebook. Since Facebook is very user friendly, I tend to post a lot of content there that is not posted here.  Often if it is video or a photograph or a quote, it will be simply posted to facebook.

 

You can find the Facebook page here.

 

And just for you….here is the video.

 

 

Crazy-Busy-Infographic-2I have been stepping back from some volunteer positions.  Some people have noticed and asked why that is, especially with my occasional blog rant about getting up off our seats and doing more to serve in the Church. Well,  between working 2 jobs, going to college, being a husband to my wife, a father to my kids, preparing for a new baby, blogging, and the committees, meetings, and such,  my life had effectively become “crazy busy.”

mr-busy-webAs I looked at my full plate, I had to be honest with myself. Not only was I burning out, but in my zeal to serve the church, and God, I began to let my family suffer.  How can I effectively serve my family if I am away 4 or 5 or 6 evenings a week?  And If I am away 4 or 5 evenings a week and burning out with the workload, then I am not giving 100% to anything that I am doing. Only giving 60% to a committee is not fair to the others on the committee, and only giving 60% to my family, and even less to God in devotions, is not only unfair, it is sinful. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says that whatever my hand finds to do, that I should do it with all my might.

Whoops.

Colossians 3:23 says , Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Was I serving the Lord?  Or was I trying to look good?  Surely my intentions were good.  You see, I had been a lazy, indifferent person most of my life.  I did not really care about the church  or serving the church.  I had beer to drink, video games to play, and all that committee, bible studying, serving others stuff would interfere with my favourite evening hobbies!  So, when I came to faith, the strangest thing happened…I began to grow in love for God and the Church.  I wanted to serve.  I sought out ways to serve. So a few years ago I dove, with fervent zeal, head first into all things Church related…committees, and meetings, and groups, outreach…I loved it.

But as time wore on, I found out that I could not say, “No.”  As the commitments piled up, those that I once enjoyed became drudgery.  I began grumbling about meetings, about working, about the kids, about…my wife (sorry hon.)

little-miss-busySo needless to say, I took on more than I could handle.  My initial involvement was motivated mostly by love and thankfulness, but as time wore on, my busyness was partly motivated by my pride. Was it my desire to please everyone? Perhaps I did not want to look bad? Maybe narcissism?  Perhaps a bit of legalism?  Not sure exactly, but the ironic thing is that all the extracurricular church stuff began to take my focus off of Christ.  Now, let me be clear, I am not saying to not serve in the Church.  Absolutely we should serve in the Church! What I am saying is that I needed to find the line between my lazy-beer-drinking-entertainment-seeking-indifference, and the I-can-do everything-burnout-mode. As Kevin Deyoung wrote in his book Crazy Busy, “It’s about effectively serving others in the ways I’m best able to serve and in the ways I am most uniquely called to serve.” It’s not about doing everything. Now I am involved in a couple things, and I can serve my family in the the way I have been called by the Lord.

We need wisdom to know when God is calling us to serve sacrificially and when He is calling us to say no and rest. Ultimately we need God and prayer and His Word more than we need anything else, so we should consider making that a fundamental priority in our daily lives and trying to structure other things around that.

So that is my focus this September as the busyness starts up again.

I have to also say that taking a few weeks off from the internet was very refreshing!  It was good to refocus, recharge, and prepare for the busyness of September.

It is good to be back.