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On Being Winsomely Offensive

April 10, 2016

On Being Winsomely Offensive

Psalm 119:41-48 (Vav)

  • Introduction: How ARE Christians “different” than unbelievers? How OUGHT they be?
  • The Angry Physician example: Lesson; demands-or-doom; 5-minute fix; or the single prescription.
  • The Gospel as Offense (Compare: Gospel as Folly, 1 Corinthians 1:18):
    • Rock (1 Peter 2:7-8); Persecution (2 Timothy 3:12); No More Circumcision (Galatians 5:11).
    • [How] Can we tell why we are found by another to be offensive?
  • Worldly winning with winsomeness: cheerful, pleasant, and appealing.
    • Wordly wisdom includes winsomeness:
    • Old Testament examples: Ecclesiastes 7:1-6; Deuteronomy 4:6
    • New Testament examples:
      • The 2 Corinthians Metaphors:
        • Triumph: 2 Corinthians 2:14
        • Fragrance: 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
        • Email: 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
        • Pottery: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
      • Mind of Christ (John MacDuff, 1870 (1)): Romans 12:1-2
      • Wisdom from Above: James 3:13-18
      • Reflective: Colossians 4:2-6
  • Psalm 119:41-48 (Vav)
    • Prayer that my life and words reflect God’s love and salvation (vv. 41-42)
    • Prayer that I understand the width of God’s gift of liberty (vv. 43-45)
    • May the joy of my salvation overflow, even the presence of kings (vv. 46-47)
    • May the joy of my salvation overflow in praise and meditation (v. 48)
  • Conclusion: Perfume, Imperfections and Prayer


Being winsomely offensive: some observations from Jerram Barr, The Heart of Evangelism (Crossway, 2005):

    • Show respect. “So often as Christians we behave as if we everything to give to the non-Christian and nothing to receive.” (199)
    • Listen. “Every human being is religious in the sense that he or she puts his or her trust in something…The challenge for us is to find out where the person’s trust lies.” (208)
    • Care to Learn and Learn to Care. “…caricaturing or misrepresenting the ideas of unbelievers will be no help to us. It will simply alienate people, for they will rightly be offended by our failure to treat their beliefs seriously.” (212)
    • Avoid Churchspeak. “The New Testament challenges us to express God’s unchanging truth in language of our time rather than in the language of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries or even of the early part of the twentieth century.” (242)
    • Reason Reasonably. “If we reflect on this thoughtful use of language by the apostles, it is evident that they were building a carefully reasoned presentation of the truth to their hearers.” (245)
    • Proclaim, Parse and Apply … Personally. “…accommodating ourselves to our hearers is precisely what all faithful communication of the Gospel must be, for the Gospel itself – God becoming flesh for us – is the greatest imaginable accommodation to those who need to be saved!” (261) “…the task is always the same, to give a wise word that will assist the understanding of non-Christians.” (265)
    • Prompt. “…the Gospel will always be experienced as a challenge…It will challenge our heart, for our hearts are devoted to many masters in place of the one true Lord. Any faithful communication of the Gospel must come with this challenge. In fact, it is appropriate to assert that if there is no challenge, there is no genuine presentation of the Gospel.” (267-268)

        Conversational tools for digging deeper (Judson Poling, Leadership Journal, Fall 2002, pp. 85-86):

– “That’s an interesting question. What do you think?”

– “What situation in your life makes you wonder about that?”

– “Even though you don’t know, if you had to guess, how would you answer?”

– “Is there any answer that you won’t accept? Why?”

– “What has led you to conclude that?”

– “What information do you think would cause you to change your mind?”

– “What’s the strongest argument for those who disagree with you?”

– “If everyone held that view, what would society look like?”

– “If you found out you were wrong, what would be at risk? How would your life change?”

1. or


Worthless and Wasteful, or Worthy and Worshipful

April 3, 2016

Worthless and Wasteful, or Worthy and Worshipful

Psalm 119:33-40 (He) ה

1.      Introduction: Personal epistemology example: The ethics of big data.

         a.      Attention ➔ Alertness ➔ Awareness ➔ Accessing ➔ Acting ➔ Accountability

2.      Today’s Storer-Uppers!

3.      Becoming aware (curiosity compulsion), as self-destruction.

         a.      The pornography example.                                                      

         b.      The Edenic example: Genesis 3:1-2 ➔ Genesis 3:4-5 ➔ Genesis 3:6-7

4.      Not being fully aware (mindful), as self-destruction: Absorption v. Distractions

         a.      Mark 4:19 

         b.      Luke 8:7 

         c.      Hebrews 12:2 

5.      Living in liberty; freedom within limits

         a.      The fishing example.

         b.      Biblically informed mindfulness: connecting with the task, the Project, the Person.

                  i.      Galatians 2:20

                  ii.     Romans 12:2 

                  iii.    1 Corinthians 2:16 

                  iv.    Colossians 3:2-3 

                  v.      Philippians 2:5

                  vi.    Philippians 4:8

                  vii.   Matthew 6:22-23 ➔ Matthew 6:24 ➔ Matthew 6:25+        

6.      Psalm 119: 33-40

         a.      Is knowing enough? (v. 32) 

         b.      Knowing versus heart-felt understanding (v.34) 

         c.      Living versus knowing/understanding (v.35) 

         d.      Wanting to want to obey, as compared to other distractions (vv. 36-37) 

         e.      Prayer for grace and strength and a renewed heart (vv. 38-40). 

         f.      Assessment of progress: cycling back through the second set of four verses.

                  i.      What am I choosing to pay attention to, that is a distraction from my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

                  ii.     When am I substituting attention to “worthless things” rather than worshipful things?

7.      The Luke 14 Challenge1

         a.      The demands of discipleship (vv.26-27)

         b.      The decision of discipleship (vv.28-32)

         c.      The distinct nature of disciples (vv.33-35) 

         d.      Worthless and wasteful, or, worthy and worshipful                  

8.      Conclusion: Awareness and mindfulness are choices (Insert the words “Biblically Informed” ahead of each step).

         a.      Absorption ➔ Attention ➔ Alertness ➔ Awareness ➔ Accessing ➔ Acting ➔ Accountability

         b.      Memorization ➔ Meditation ➔ Mindfulness

         c.      1 Peter 1:13 

         d.      John 10:10

 The more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path. The more you know Him and commune with Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. The more you are like Him, the better you will understand His utter sufficiency for all of life’s difficulties. And that is the only way to know real satisfaction.2

See “How to Hate your Wife,”
John MacArthur, Our Sufficiency in Christ (Crossway, 1991), p. 157


Meaning in Life: It’s All Worship

March 27, 2016

Here’s a thought …. or thought-provoker:
It seem that for a follower of Christ, the purpose in life is to glorify God. In other words, to lead a life of worship. That includes our obedience, and our obedience includes our love of God and love of others.
This all starts by trusting Christ both as Savior and as the sovereign Lord (King) of one’s life, through the hearing, accepting and believing of the Gospel.
This is just a way of thinking about all of this. Not a perfect way, or even the best way, but for me at least a helpful basic “model.”

Trust Obey WORSHIP We begin our worship when we trust Christ as King and Savior (John 1:12-13). Our worship grows as we grow in faith and love of Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
But at the end of the day (or more accurately, for eternity), it’s all worship.

Reality is Depressing, and Depression is Reality

March 27, 2016

Reality is Depressing, and Depression is Reality.

Psalm 119:25-32 (Daleth)

  • Introduction:
    • Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain:
      • “Pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience but shouts to us in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (1)
      • Emotional pain can be worse than physical pain.
      • Spiritual pain: existential loneliness, dread or shame; loss of identity.
    • Meaning in life, depression and Ecclesiastes 3:18
      • Sorting out the good and avoiding the truth (defense theory).
      • Problem solving and accepting responsibility (control theory).
    • Compare: a more accurate perception of reality (depressive realism).
  • Last Week: Hints and Helps with Memorizing Scripture
    • Read the passage over several times before starting to memorize it.
    • Repeat the passage every day.
    • Study the passage and ask questions the passage think about:
      • Its application to life.
      • How it helps to get to know God and understand my purpose.
    • Write it out longhand, and print it onto index cards that you can carry with you.
    • Learn one verse at a time.
    • Teach the passage to someone else.
    • Develop pictures to visualize the passage and its story.
    • Say it out loud, or develop it into a song, and use hand motions.
    • Record it and play it back.
    • Practice it with someone who will encourage you and hold you accountable.
  • Today’s Storer-Uppers!
  • Thinking about the reality of depression.
    • Proverbs 18:14
    • Isaiah 57:15
    • Isaiah 66:1-2
    • Psalm 34:17-18
  • The Passion of Christ: Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain.
    • Man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3-12)
    • Soul grieved to the point of death in the “olive press” (Matthew 26:37-38)
    • Forsakenness, spiritual agony (Psalm 22; Matthew 27:45-50)
    • The full weight sin (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
  • Psalm 119:25-32
    • Why am I so depressed? (vv. 25-29)
    • Turning it over. (v. 30-31)
    • Back in the game (v. 32)
  • Thinking about converting from a philosophy of “self-esteem” based on trusting ourselves, to self acceptance based on trust in God and His power, plans, love and forgiveness (Jeremiah 29:11 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 2 Corinthians 5:20-21 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 1 Peter 1:6-7 Hebrews 13:5).
  • He is Risen!

 1. C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, (1940; repr., San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), p. 91.

The Bible as Sin-Guard

March 20, 2016

The Bible as Sin-Guard

… according to the Bible [ESV]

    • Biblical call to guard our hearts
      • Proverbs 4:20-26: 20 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.
    • God’s Word works to … Define sin
      • Matthew 5:28 : But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
      • James 1:12-14: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
      • Hebrews 4:12: For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
    • God’s Word works to … Explain the idolatry of sin
      • Galatians 5:19-21: Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
      • 1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
    • God’s Word works to … Remind us of our accountability for sin
      • Romans 14:12: So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
      • 2 Corinthians 5:10: For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
    • God’s Word works to … Celebrate Christ’s victory over sin
      • Romans 8:9: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
      • 2 Corinthians 6:14-18: Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
      • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
      • 2 Corinthians 7:1: Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
      • Hebrews 2:18: For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
    • God’s Word works to … Call us into battle against sin
      • 1 Corinthians 10:14: Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
      • 1 Corinthians 11:31: But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:22: Abstain from every form of evil.
      • 1 Peter 2:11: Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
    • God’s Word works to … Arm us against sin
      • Psalm 1:1-2: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
      • Ephesians 6:17: and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
      • 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.
    • God’s Word works to … Take away our excuses
      • 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
      • Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
    • God’s Word works to … Remind us of our true loyalty
      • Ecclesiastes 8:4: For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?”
      • John 14:15: If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
      • Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
    • God’s Word works to … Help us deal with our sin
      • Proverbs 24:16: for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
      • James 5:16: Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
      • Hebrews 4:15-16: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.


Memorizing Scripture about Memorizing Scripture

March 20, 2016

Memorizing Scripture about Memorizing Scripture

Psalm 119:9-16 (Beth)

  • En garde, prêts, allez. Garda Síochána. A cemetery in Kentucky. A border.
    • Sentinels: A watchman stationed on a wall (2Sam 18:24) or in a watchtower (2Chr 20:24; Isaiah 21:6-9) whose task it was to warn of approaching danger (Ezek 33:2-6; Ps 127:1). Sentinels also guarded the fields and vineyards, especially during harvest season (Isa 5:2; Job 27:18). The term is often used in a figurative or symbolic sense (Isa 62:6; Ezek 3:17; Ezek 33:7-9; Mic 7:4).  (Society of Biblical Literature)
    • New Testament: Death penalty for dereliction of duty (Matthew 28:4; Acts 12:19).
    • U.S. Code of Military Justice (10 U.S.C. § 892. Art. 92): Death penalty for dereliction of duty during wartime.
  • Last Week: Intentionally Enhancing our Faith, our Love and our Focus:
    • Sing Christian songs (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16)
    • Fellowship with other Christians (1 Corinthians 14:26; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:24-25; James 5:16; 1 John 1:7)
    • Pray (Luke 22:40; Romans 7:18-24)
    • Bring every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)
    • Study the Bible
    • Without distraction: “Old School” Bibles;
  • Memorize Scripture: Psalm 119:9-16
    • vv. 9-11
    • v. 12
    • vv. 13-16
  • “Guard your Heart.”
    • The Basics
    • Proverbs 4:20-26
    • Proverbs 23:7 and 27:19
    • 1 Samuel 16:7   
    • Being Intentional
  • Examples of Warnings about Not Guarding your Heart
    • Pride: Proverbs 16: 5, 18
    • Grumbling: John 6:43; Philippians 2:14   
    • Quarreling: Romans 16:17; Ephesians 4:31-32
  • Hints and Helps:
  • God’s Word works, to:
    • Define sin (Matthew 5:28; James 1:12-14)
    • Explain the idolatry of sin (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 John 2:15-17)
    • Remind us of our accountability for sin (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
    • Celebrate Christ’s victory over sin (Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 and 12:9-10; 7:1; Hebrews 2:18)
    • Call us into battle against sin (1 Cor. 10:14 & 11:31; 1 Thess. 5:22; 1 Peter 2:11)
    • Arm us against sin (Psalm 1:1-2; Ephesians 6:10-17; 2 Timothy 3:16)
    • Take away our excuses (1 Corinthians 10:13)
    • Remind us of our true loyalty (Ecclesiastes 8:4; John 14:15; Romans 13:14)
    • Help deal with our sin (Proverbs 24:16; James 5:16; Hebrews 4:15-16)
  • An Observation about Psalm 119:11: “Here we are informed that we are well fortified against the stratagems of Satan when God’s law is deeply seated in our hearts. For unless it have a fast and firm hold there, we will readily fall into sin. Among scholars, those whose knowledge is confined to books, if they have not the book always before them, readily discover their ignorance; in like manner, if we do not imbibe the doctrine of God, and are well acquainted with it, Satan will easily surprise and entangle us in his meshes. Our true safeguard, then, lies not in a slender knowledge of his law, or in a careless perusal of it, but in hiding it deeply in our hearts. Here we are reminded, that however men may be convinced of their own wisdom, they are yet destitute of all right judgment, except as far as they have God as their teacher.” (1)
  • Conclusion: Hebrews 4:12 and 12:4

1. Calvin, John. “Commentary on Psalms 119:11”. “Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible”. .


My Faith, My Love, My Focus: Psalm 119:1-8

March 13, 2016

My Faith, My Love, My Focus: Psalm 119:1-8 (Aleph)

  • Focusing in the fog: aphoraō [G872] Hebrews 12:2
    • Runners, field goal kickers, and other examples from life.
    • Isaiah 45:22
    • Zachariah 12:10
  • Psalm 19 and Psalm 119: Proclamation, Prayer and Poetry
    (Forcefulness, Flow and Facticity)

    • Exploring the Divine/Human Relationship in
      Proclamation, Prayer and Poetry
    • Accepting and embracing paradox and enigma
    • Putting ourselves in David’s sandals
  • Reading Psalm 119:1-8: Each line matches the effect with the cause … including verse 8.
  • The phenemenon of properly experienced shame:
    • Adam and Eve: The change from Genesis 2:25 to Genesis
    • Shame from lack of knowledge of God’s Word: 1
      Corinthians 15:34
    • Shame from substituting human wisdom for God’s Word: 1
      Corinthians 6:5
  • Compare: Untrustworthy emotions connected with misplaced

    • Misplaced shame from things out of our control (e.g.,
      actions of others, accusations of others).
    • Misplaced shame about sin that has been confessed and
      forgiven (Luke 7:48-50).
  • Compare: Genesis 3:21.
  • Compare: No one who believes in the Lord will be put to shame (Romans 10:11; 9:33).
  • Psalm 119:8: How do we stay focused God’s Word?
  • John Owen: ” A constant view of the glory of Christ will
    fix the soul unto that object which is suited to give it
    delight, complacency, and satisfaction.”

    • The majority of our spiritual decay and barrenness
      arises from an inordinate admission of other things into our
      minds for these things weaken grace in all its operations.
    • Where we are engaged in this duty, it will stir up
      every grace unto its due exercise; which is that wherein the
      spiritual revival inquired after does consist.
    • This will assuredly put us on a vigilant watch and
      constant conflict against all the deceitful workings of sin
      (Hebrews 3:13), against every entrance of temptation
      (Matthew 26:41), against all the ways and means of the state
      of being surprised by foolish frames, by vain imaginations
      which are the cause of our decay.” (1)
  • Psalm 119:8 – David’s closing prayer.


Obedience: Already / Not Yet / Already+Not-Yet

March 8, 2016

The Expedience of Obedience: Some New Testament Insights

  • In response / repentance
    • Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Romans 6:17-18: But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
    • Romans 8:13: For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
    • Ephesians 5:8, 11: for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light … Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
    • 1 Corinthians 6:20: for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
    • 2 Corinthians 7:1: Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
    • Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
  • In faith
    • John 10:27-29: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
    • Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
    • 1 Corinthians 15:14-18: And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
    • 1 John 2:3-4: And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,
  • In hope
    • Matthew 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
    • Matthew 6:19-21: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
    • Mark 10:29-30: Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
    • Ephesians 6:8: knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
    • 1 Corinthians 3:14: If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
    • 1 Peter 3:9: Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
  • In love
    • John 14:15-17: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
    • John 14:23-24: Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
    • John 15:7-10: If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
    • 2 John 6: And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.
  • In victory
    • 2 Corinthians 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
    • Galatians 5: 1, 13: For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery… For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
    • Galatians 5:16-22: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • James 1:22-25: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
    • 1 John 5:2-6: By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
  • In worship
    • Romans 12:1: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
    • Philippians 1:27: Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
    • 1 Peter 2:5: you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
  • To the glory of the Father
    • Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
    • 1 Peter 2:12: Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

I Want to WANT to Obey Your Decrees

March 8, 2016

An Introduction to Psalm 119

  • Question: What is “obedience” for a follower of Christ?
  • How is obedience different than:
    • The plan of salvation
    • Repentance
    • Good works
    • Worship
  • What are the “Motivations” for obedience?
    • Why does God desire our obedience?
    • Why do we desire obedience?
    • What difference does obedience make for a follower of Christ?
    • What does the Bible have to say about obedience on the part of followers of Christ?
  • Why do followers of Christ struggle with obedience?
    • When we struggle with obedience, what should we do about it?
    • What should be our prayer, when we are praying about our disobedience?
    • How do we sometimes pray about disobedience in ways that are less than honest?
  • What should we expect of ourselves in regard to obedience?
    • How should those expectations inform our prayers?
  • A quick reading of Psalm 119:1-8 (Aleph)
    • If we are all sinners, how does it make sense to talk about those whose way is blameless?
    • If we are all sinners, how does it make sense to say, “I will keep your statutes”?

Will the Cray Computer Become a Believer?

January 25, 2016

“Titan,” the supercomputer at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oakville, Tennessee, and built by computer manufacturer Cray, is tasked with solving such mysteries as the meaning of life. I’m wondering if the programmers permitted Titan to consider whether God is a “necessary being,” as Anselm and Aquinas (and many philosophers and theologians since their time) have asserted. After all, if God exists, absolutely everything (!) is different than if He did not exist. If God, understood as the ultimate personality  and Creator with such attributes as omniscience and omnipresence, exists, then any ideas about meaning or purpose in life would necessarily be formed in His shadow and would need to take Him into account. So much so, any “meaning” or “purpose” this side of living for His glory would not really make sense.  Or as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, our primary purpose in life is to “love God and enjoy Him forever.” An interesting twist on this notion might even emerge from H. Vonzell Castilla’s recent book, Make God Look Good. It will be interesting to see how close the Titan gets to this reality. Frankly, I’m not expecting much from the machine.