Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (Ephesians 6.10-11 ESV)
Our church is witnessing a miracle.
The dictionary defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs.” Divine intervention. God steps in. God changes the natural course. A miracle.
Our church is familiar with the story of Justin Weldon, but you can read about it on his blog. Justin is fighting Leukemia. First diagnosed in 2004, it almost killed him before he started chemotherapy. After three and a half years of treatment, the cancer went into remission in 2008. Justin moved forward with his life, finishing college, graduating from the fire academy, getting married. But just before his daughter was about to be born, the cancer returned. In 2010, he was told that the cancer was in 90% of his bone marrow. His only hope was to take chemotherapy again, ridding the bone marrow of cancer, and then get a bone marrow transplant. Round one of chemo brought the levels down to 5%, and word just came back that round two has brought the cancer level down to 0%. His bone marrow transplant is scheduled for July. Read the rest of this entry »
The Scriptures make a very clear promise: all Scripture is profitable for teaching, correction, and training in righteousness so that the people of God may be equipped for every good work (see 2 Timothy 3.16-17). I wonder if the apostle Paul, who wrote those words, was reading the same Old Testament I am reading.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe the promise to be true, but there sure are some parts of the Bible where the profitability margins seem to be quite small. For the vast majority, the profitability of the Word of God is obvious, but there are those sections where I seem to leave doing more head scratching than soul feeding. As a general rule, the writings of the prophets seem to fall more into the confusion category than the enlightening category, but even among the prophets there are those parts that are just way beyond the pale. Zechariah 5 might be the poster child for the confused reader of Scripture. Read the rest of this entry »
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1.3-5 ESV)
7But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3.7-11 ESV)
If anyone had reason to be confident in their goodness or spirituality, it was the apostle Paul. He followed all of the rules, he studied under all the best teachers, he had the approval of all the important religious leaders, and he was one of the most prestigious religious thinkers of his time. And yet all of that was of no value when he stood face to face with the risen Christ. In fact, he called it all “rubbish” when he learned that the only thing that mattered was becoming righteous by grace through faith. As a new creation in Christ, Paul’s priorities were reborn, and the most important things to him were to know Christ, to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, to share the sufferings of Christ, and to become like Christ in His death.
All of four of those newborn goals are worth meditating on today. Knowing Christ is so much more than just knowing about Christ. Knowing the power of Christ at work in our inner beings goes beyond our wildest imagination (see Ephesians 3.20). Longing and hoping to complete the sufferings of Christ seems like such a strange desire (see Colossians 1.24). But what does it mean to become like Jesus “in His death”?
Certainly, there are parts of His death in which we can never share, like atoning for the sins of others. But there must be something about His death in which we can aspire to become like. Perhaps Paul was thinking about the love Christ had for sinners that led Him to the cross (see Romans 5.8). Perhaps Paul was thinking about the way Christ laid down his life for others (see John 15.13). Perhaps Paul was thinking about how Jesus treated his own earthly life as “rubbish” and sacrificed it for something of eternal value. Perhaps Paul was thinking of how Jesus had eternal eyes instead of eyes captured by the things of this world (see Luke 23.43). Or perhaps Paul was thinking of how Jesus refused to revile those who were beating and mocking Him (see 1 Peter 2.23).
As we seek to know Christ, and His power, and to share in His sufferings, may we also seek to become like Him in His death. May the Lord be gracious to you and speak into your soul about how you can become like Christ in His death as you run the race He has set before you today.
This just in from the Department of the Completely Obvious: men and women like different kinds of movies. I will give you a few moments for the shock to wear off. Movies are basically animated stories, and the stories that charge up the heart of a man are quite different than the stories that bring a woman’s soul to life. Men’s Journal once asked their readers to identify the Top 50 movies of all time, and the top ten movies were (in order): Dirty Harry, Godfather, Scarface, Die Hard, Terminator, Road Warrior, Dirty Dozen, Matrix, Caddyshack, and Rocky. MSN produced a list of Top Ten Oscar wining movies for guys, and their list included Braveheart, Gladiator, Platoon, and Patton.
Creating a list like this is totally subjective, so the scientific-ness of the poll could definitely be questioned, but I found it interesting that in every “Top Ten” list I could find of guy movies and girl movies, there was not one movie that made both lists. Men and women did not agree on a single movie as a “Top Ten” in any list I could find. The stories that grab our hearts as men are much different than the stories that grab their hearts as women.
Looking at the list of “movies for guys who like movies,” there does seem to be a unified story that most grabs the heart of men. Even among a fallen culture where movies with gratuitous violence and immorality are quite popular in the box office, the Top Ten list did not have much gratuitous violence but movies where violence served a purpose. Think about it, what do Dirty Harry, Die Hard, Dirty Dozen, Braveheart, and Patton all have in common? They are stories about the struggle to bring about justice through the use of force because all other means have failed. Read the rest of this entry »