Friday, October 30, 2009

Is God asleep in the cockpit?

Is God asleep in the cockpit? Sometimes it seems that way when we suffer, or see sin go unpunished and natural disasters claim lives. But is God aloof and uncaring? Is He asleep?

Jesus’ disciples said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? (Mark 4:38) while he slept in their boat. A boat which was filling with water from the crashing waves. But he calmly got up and rebuked the wind and the raging sea and all was still, like glass. The response? “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him? (Mark 4:41)”

So, in a sense, yes. He is asleep when we go through rough waters. Yet He is so sovereign over the events of history (to the minutest detail) that nothing happens apart from His intimate knowledge and providence. So to us He appears to be asleep ... clueless. But unlike the two pilots who played on their laptops while flying 150 miles past their desination, the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed holding all things together (Col 1:17). But it is no effort for Him to do so and this lack of effort can easily be misunderstood by weak-faithed creatures like us.

So Christ provides for the safety of His elect. What about food? In America it is hard to comprehend what it is like to go hungry, to wonder where the next meal will come from. Every American is richer than most everyone else in the world. But still we worry about our finances. Should we? Is Christ asleep or indifferent?

Mark paints a picture of Christ that is larger than life. He is actively going about healing lepers (Mark 1:40-45) and the blind (Mark 8:22-25) and the deaf (Mark 7:31-37) and even the dead (Mark 5:35-42). He walks on water (Mark 6:45-52) and casts out powerful demons (Mark 5:1-13) and multiplies food to feed the five thousand (Mark 6:39-44) and later, the four thousand (Mark 8:6-9). The word ‘immediately’ is all over the place in this real life action drama!

But Mark takes time to record the teaching that complements all these miracles. Jesus is alive and to be trusted. He has conquered sin and death and therefore Christians can trust Him to provide. Jesus Himself gives the answer to those who worry about their finances, and gets to the heart of that worry. It is a lack of faith and a wrong focus.
"Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" They said to him, "Twelve." 20"And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?" And they said to him, "Seven." 21And he said to them, "Do you not yet understand? (Mark 8:17-21)”
Matthew 6:25-34 is perhaps the most famous passage about not worrying and is a great one to read when we find ourselves worrying about finances. But the point I want to make is that before we can stop worrying, we need to study the Person and the works of Christ so that we can fully understand why it is we’re not to worry.

Only when we read about Jesus in the Gospels, and His constant provision for His disciples and powerful display over Creation. Only when we have this fresh in our minds, can we fully trust the One who has done all these things, and therefore be encouraged by Matthew 6 and not worry about our life and our finances.

In fact, we will not only find relief from our anxiety about money and safety, but we’ll find ourselves taking up our cross in ways we never thought possible! Peter didn’t understand when Jesus told the disciples that He would be killed on the cross. He tried to rebuke the Master for talking like that. His problem was a wrong focus.

“Get behind me, Satain!” Jesus said to the one who had just confessed Him as the Christ in a most profound way (Mark 8:29-30). The answer to our lack of faith? “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man. (Mark 8:34)”

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parable of the Sower and Take up your cross

I read a couple of passages in the Gospel of Mark this morning that have sunk beneath the surface of my mind, and hopefully heart. I’m praying this morning that these will be in the forefront of my mind as I lead my family and make important decisions.

First, the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4.
And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3"Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold." 9And he said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
10And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11And he said to them, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, 12 so that
"they may indeed see but not perceive,
and may indeed hear but not understand,
lest they should turn and be forgiven."
13 And he said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold."
Mark 4:2-20 (ESV)
Lord, please let me be the one sown on the good soil. Let me “hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. (Mark 4:20)”

Later, I read this.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."
34And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:31-39 (ESV)
Lord, let me not be ashamed of you. Let me deny myself and take up my cross and follow you. Let me lose my life for you and for the Gospel. May Christ be my treasure.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Desiring God in Sign Language (ASL)

For my deaf friends, you can now see some of John Piper's sermons in American Sign Language (ASL). Click here to view the list. One of the neat things about Countryside, where my family and I attend church, is the willingness to embrace our deaf brothers and sisters in Christian fellowship. We have translators and have tried to learn ASL (some better than others, ... me-I'm one of the others)
I was happy to see that now DesiringGod is making sermons available in ASL. If you do not know sign language, maybe this is a good way to learn, by watching John Piper preach! Can't beat that!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mickey's Mantle of Faith

Here is an article about how Yankee great trusted Christ for salvation late in life:
It's October – World Series time.
During much of his Hall of Fame baseball career, Mickey Mantle was a fixture in the Fall Classic.
He was known as a great baseball slugger.
He was known as the fastest man in the major leagues.
And he was known as a hell-raiser off the field.
But two of Mickey Mantle's closest friends – Bobby Richardson and Pat Summerall – say that's not how he died 11 years ago. And, had he lived to see his 75th birthday tomorrow, the world would have a much different picture of the New York Yankee great.
Read the rest of this article-written in Oct 2006-here.
HT: Ryan

Friday, October 2, 2009

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 5

The conclusion contains some fantastic hymns with great lyrics that point to this truth that God is the Gospel. I will put a bow on this week of posts by quoting three of those hymns:

Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Fairest Lord Jesus
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature,
O Thou of God and man the Son,
Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor,
Thou, my soul’s glory, joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight,
And all the twinkling starry host;
Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer
Than all the angels heaven can boast.

All fairest beauty, heavenly and earthly,
Wondrously, Jesus, is found in Thee;
None can be nearer, fairer or dearer,
Than Thou, my Savior, art to me.

Beautiful Savior! Lord of all the nations!
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor, praise, adoration,
Now and forever more be Thine.

I Will Glory in My Redeemer
I will glory in my Redeemer
Whose priceless blood has ransomed me
Mine was the sin that drove the bitter nails
And hung Him on that judgment tree

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who crushed the power of sin and death
My only Savior before the holy Judge
The Lamb Who is my righteousness
The Lamb Who is my righteousness

I will glory in my Redeemer
My life He bought, my love He owns
I have no longings for another
I’m satisfied in Him alone

I will glory in my Redeemer
His faithfulness my standing place
Though foes are mighty and rush upon me
My feet are firm, held by His grace
My feet are firm, held by His grace

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who carries me on eagles’ wings
He crowns my life with loving-kindness
His triumph song I’ll ever sing

I will glory in my Redeemer
Who waits for me at gates of gold
And when He calls me it will be paradise
His face forever to behold
His face forever to behold

Thursday, October 1, 2009

God is the Gospel Review - Pt 4

Piper begins Chapter 11 with these words:

The best news of the Christian gospel is that the supremely glorious Creator of the universe has acted in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to remove every obstacle between us and himself so that we may find everlasting joy in seeing and savoring his infinite beauty. The saving love of God is his doing whatever must be done, at great cost to himself, and for the least deserving, so that he might enthrall them with what will make them supremely happy forever, namely himself. Therefore, the gospel of God and the love of God are expressed finally and fully in God’s gift of himself for our everlasting pleasure. “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11)

In typical Piper fashion, he shocks us awake one last time with this cutting paragraph, which will be my final quote. If this doesn’t completely turn you off to the book, perhaps it will cause you to read it to see where he goes with this:
The God-centered love of God is foreign to fallen human beings, especially those hwo, like most of us, have been saturated for decades with doctrines of self-esteem. We have absorbed a definition of love that makes us the center. That is, we feel loved when someone makes much of us. Thus, the natural, human definition of love is making much of someone. The main reason this feels like love is that it feels so good to be made much of. The problem is that this feels good on wholly natural grounds. There is nothing spiritual about it. No change in us is needed at all to experience this kind of “love.” This love is wholly natural. It operates on the principles that are already present in our fallen, sinful, and spiritually dead souls. We love the praise of man. It feels good. Praise is to the ego what sex is to the body. It just doesn’t get any better—as long as we are spiritually dead.

The ground of natural love is finally me, not God. If you make much of me, I feel loved, because I am the final ground of my happiness. God is not in that place. He should be, but he is not. That is what it means to be unconverted and natural. The deepest foundation of my happiness is me (p 149)
Piper then goes on to talk about how unconverted people can ‘get religion’. There are plenty of churches that nurture this type of self-love, and even those that preach the truth twist the message in their heads to hear what they want to hear.
So it is possible even to see God as “in a sort, lovely” when we are not even genuine Christians. If he can be seen as a servant of our self-love, then we can see him as lovely. If he will make much of us, then we will be willing, up to a point, to make much of him. … The issue is: Where does the foundation of our joy lie? I s it ourselves or is it God? (p 150-151)

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike