Tag Archives: goodness of God

Manhood and Theology | The Cross (A Guest Article)

cbmw-logo
The Official Logo of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Back in September, I was offered an opportunity to be a part of a series titled “Manhood & Theology” which the MANual section of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) was going to be running over the next few weeks. The offer came from a fellow blogger named Mathew Sims. Mathew runs a blog called “Grace for Sinners”, and back in Feb 14, he published one of my articles on it.

Mathew contacted me via twitter and asked if I wanted to be a part of the series. I said yes, and a little over two months later, I submitted my article for his review and approval. Thankfully, he accepted it as a part of the series.

The CBMW is a site that I have visited a numerous amount of times over the past months. Their content is excellent! The articles are God-glorifying, and so encouraging in matters of faith, adulthood, marriage, and fatherhood – among other things. I never thought I would have an opportunity to write anything for this site, let alone an article for a series they would one day run.

Here is a short piece from the article:

As men, we all wear a variety of hats and titles in life. Many of us are husbands and fathers, church members and church leaders, and various other titles that we hold within our respective lives. Regardless of your title or position, what must be understood, is that the way we perform in our title and position is defined by the cross.

The cross, by means of the Holy Spirit, presses in, convicts our heart, and empowers us in every regard for living as Christian men. It is in the cross that we find our purpose and our reason, our motivation and our encouragement, for living our lives to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). It is in the cross that we see the supreme example of humility in the Lord Jesus Christ, who “did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

I invite you to read the rest of the article here: Manhood & Theology | The Cross. I pray you enjoy it and that you find something edifying within it. Thank you.

Grace and Peace,
John

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With Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. A Word About Men and Marriage– Jason Garwood.

Bottom line up front – brutal honesty is good. Men – take heed.

2. Walking with the Dead: The Illusion of Control – Dave Dunham

Another article from one of my favorite article series. No explanation needed.

3. How I Learned to Love the Church– Katie Van Dyke

A great article from Katie. Although this is published on the women’s side of CBMW, I think us men can learn a thing or two as well.

4. 8 Things You’re Doing for Women Other than Your Wife – Bryan

Again, men – take heed. There should only be one woman in our lives for whom we do these kind of things.

5. Paul Tripp’s Thanksgiving Devotional – Crossway

Great opportunity to get devotionals from Paul Tripp straight to your inbox for 14 days. Also, signing up enters you in a contest to win a Paul Tripp coffee mug. I’ll be honest — I want a mug.

6. The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent – John Piper

John Piper has written a 25 day daily devotional book for Advent season. As usual, it’s offered for free from Desiring God.

7. Pornography: Why Internet Accountability Software Doesn’t Work – Leon Brown

Brown has an interesting perspective on accountability software. In one respect, I think he’s correct in his assessment of what must change in men. On the other hand, I think his assessment of the software itself can be debated.

What good articles have you read over the past few days?

Grace and Peace,
John

The Same Wisdom

creation

In Proverbs 8, the chapter scheduled for my reading today, wisdom is personified as a woman. The same thing happened in previous chapters as well, i.e. 3:13-18 and 4:6-9. However, in this chapter, she says the following of herself,

22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
26 before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
28 when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
29 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
    when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
30 then I was beside him, like a master workman,
     and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

Such beautiful imagery! I don’t want to restate all that’s been said already, but go back and look line by line at how she describes herself and her relationship with the LORD.

Now, a few verses prior to that, verse 17, she says that she

…loves those who loves me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Understand what she is saying here. Those that seek her “diligently” will find her…and she loves them. Various places in the previous chapters of Proverbs encourages people to seek after wisdom. One specific example is in Proverbs 3:13, which says, “blessed is the one who finds wisdom.”

What does this mean for us today?

Last Wednesday night, we covered James 1:1-8 during bible study. James 1:5 is a verse with which many of us are familiar –

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James is encouraging us to ask for wisdom if we’re lacking it. The very wisdom that causes the one who finds it to be blessed. The very wisdom also personified above in v22-31! (Go read it again)

The very wisdom we are encouraged to seek after and ask God for if we’re lacking, was the wisdom that was with God – even used by God – in creation. How comforting is it to know that our Great God and King gives us the same wisdom He used before the foundations of the earth? There aren’t two different kinds of wisdom – He gives us His! How blessed are we?

Seek God today. In doing so, realize that as we are striving to know more about Him and how He can be glorified in our lives, He shares His wisdom with us.

Praise His kindness!

The Springs of Life

springoflifeIn today’s reading of Proverbs, 4:23 caught my eye –

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

This is a great verse in dealing with the day to day ups and downs of life. As we navigate the various challenges we all face, whether it be in our families, on the job, with our friends, or even in the local coffee shop – we have to be mindful, even intense, about protect our hearts.

Why? Because as the second half of the verse says, “…from it flows the springs of life.” Jesus said in Luke 6:45,

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good,and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

This is crucial in understanding the need to protect our hearts.

In this context, Jesus is talking about the fruit that a tree bears. He says that, “each tree is known by it’s fruit” (4:44) – meaning, a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit. But, here’s the rub.

The fruit that is born from a tree is produced based on what the tree receives. If the tree consistently receives water and the nutrients in the soil around it are good – good fruit. If the tree never, or rarely, receives water and the soil around it is bad – bad fruit, if any fruit at all. The same is with your heart.

Everyday, we are all going to be treated kindly or harshly – it depends on the person receiving the treatment to judge the varying degree of kindness or harshness. You can’t control what people say, but you can control how you receive what they say.

If someone is kind to you – praise God for their kindness and worship. If someone is unkind to you – praise God for His kindness and worship. This is because, regardless of how you are treated, Matt 7:12 still applies –

“So do whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Those “springs of life” flowing from your heart consists of kindness, graciousness, mercy, understanding, and unrelenting forgiveness – all of which you have been shown in Christ – that you are, in turn, responsible for showing to others.

God, in His grace, showed those very things to us despite the MANY times that we turned our backs on Him – literally and figuratively.  We didn’t earn those things from Him; how and why do we expect others to earn them from us? Guard your heart in Christ, so that His life may flow from it.

Grace and Peace,
John

With Your Morning Cup of Coffee

As you sit down with your coffee this morning, enjoy some of these articles that I’ve enjoyed over the past few days.

1. Why I’m Glad David Platt Is the New IMB President – Russell Moore.

Ok, really – this just makes sense! Perfect choice for such a position.

2. Kindle + Evernote = ♥ – Tim Challies

I love reading. I love Evernote. Both of them together? Yes, please. As usual, Tim does a good job on this article explaining how to integrate them together. Honestly, I was going to write an article along the same lines, but after reading this one – I’m glad I didn’t. I know he did much better than I would have.

3. Walk With God For Joy – Jared C. Wilson

This pastor has such a heart of grace. I can’t think of a time that he has spoken on a social media hot topic and not shown the side of the issue nor getting the attention it deserved. Thank you, sir.

4. Five Tips For Leading Your Small Group – Kevin DeYoung

I am currently preparing the lesson for a small group discussion with the teens in my church. This article has given me some great tips.

5. 10 Things That Happen When You Can’t Put A Good Book Down

I just though this was funny…I know a few people whom this would be quite appropriate for…myself included.

What good articles have you read over the past few days?

Grace and Peace,
John

Happy Social Media Day!!!

Yeah, I didn’t know there was a such thing either. Not many people do.

Apparently, Social Media Day is day that is celebrated worldwide. It is a day that Mashable created “in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening right before our eyes.” And I’m sure you will agree – it is a revolution.

The below video was created by Mashable as a sort of “promotion” for the day, but even more, as a way to show the influence and popularity of certain outlets used within the social media platform.

I’m sure everyone reading this can stand in agreement that social media is huge and highly attractive (read: addictive). Case in point – you’re reading this blog possibly from a link on your Facebook or Twitter page. Admittedly, I even wrote some of this post from the WordPress app on my smartphone. Social media has woven itself into the fabric of, not only our lives, but our very being. It has, in many ways, become an extension of who people know us to be. On the flip side, it has also become an extension of who we are, or who we project ourselves to be – whether it’s the real us or not. For better or worse – we’ve allowed social media to define us.

Social media in and of itself is not bad. Personally, I think it is a good platform for engaging people. Family and friends have been connected or reconnected. Experiences have been shared across thousands of miles. Grandparents living on one side of the country can see their grandchild living on the opposite side of the country grow up. In my case, I was blessed to find the church in which my family and I currently worship and serve.

Social media, as a whole, can be used for good – when it is used in a context in which selfish gain or humiliation and degradation of others is not the goal. Unfortunately, those two situations happen more than not in the social media world. As fallen creatures, we have a habit of using positive resources in negative ways. People post provocative pictures, videos of pornographic content and unnecessary violence, and people also engage in cyber-bullying – those are the obvious things. There’s no telling what else is being done that is not as blatant.

Although social media can and has been used to connect people (in either a positive or negative way), that very same platform has the tendency to drive us apart. The platform has done done a remarkable job in bringing so many people together virtually, that we are even further apart physically. And what does that do for the gospel?

Yes, through social media, brothers and sisters are spreading the life changing truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A 140-character tweet can be sent from North Carolina and reach someone in Germany. Someone in California can write a note on Facebook about being baptized and that could be the open door for an unbelieving friend in Michigan to engage with questions about the faith. The challenges come in when we use the platform of social media exclusively to spread the gospel.

When we don’t make the effort to physically reach out to the lost, the personal elements of relationship face even further degradation. When we depend on technology to be our hands and feet to a lost and fallen world, what happens when that technology fails?

By no means am I saying to get rid of technology, nor am I saying deactivate your social media profiles. What I am saying is social media should be employed as a resource to assist you in spreading the gospel. It should not be the means, but a means of telling the world about Jesus. He’s too good to be displayed behind computer screens, forwarded in text messages, shared on Facebook feeds, explained in 140-character Tweets, and liked in an Instagram photo. He is so much more than that. Share Him with your lips, touch others with His hands, walk with others with His feet, live with others by doing life. That is the best way that we can share Jesus – through the life that He purchased on the cross. Go live that life for Jesus.

I ask that you take just a few more minutes to view this video. I don’t know anything about the person speaking in it…whether he is a believer or not. But I appreciate the message. I appreciate the intent. I think it’s a message that we can all understand and relate to, and in our pursuit of sharing Jesus outside of a technological platform – I think it’s something that we can all get behind.

I pray that as you watch this video, you can be reminded of the need to tell people about the limitless and bountiful joy to be found in Jesus Christ – not in the limited toys and gadgets of everyday life. Grace & Peace.

How will you share Jesus today? Who will you speak to, touch, and walk with?

 

Moral Absolutes

thIn The Christian Imagination, edited by Leland Ryken (Professor at Wheaton College), Francis A. Schaeffer’s essay, “Perspective on Art” is used to emphasize the premise of the book – that being to learn how to read and understand art from a Christian worldview.

In the essay, Schaeffer proposes that the Christian worldview can be divided into two themes; major and minor. Regarding the major theme and the morals therein, he says this,

Christianity gives a moral solution on the basis of the fact that God exists and has a character which is the law of the universe. There is therefore an absolute in regard to morals. It is not that there is a moral law beyond God that binds both God and man, but that God himself has a character and this character is reflected in the moral law of the universe. Thus when a person realizes his inadequacy before God and feels guilty, he has a basis not simply for the feeling but for the reality of guilt. Man’s dilemma is not just that he is finite and God is infinite, but that he is a sinner guilty before a holy God. But then he recognizes that God had given him a solution to this in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Man is fallen and flawed, but he is redeemable on the basis of Christ’s work. This is beautiful. This is optimism. And this optimism has a sufficient base.

Romans 1:20-21 tells us that,

…his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him…

Everyone knows that God exists. This fact is easily notable and inherently undeniable based on God’s general revelation of himself. Even further, if God’s very character is truly reflected in the moral law of the universe, then the question of from where morals come is no longer a matter of debate – they come from God.

A standard is a standard is a standard.

When creation acts outside of the bounds of which the Creator has purposed them, rebellion ensues; destruction commences; and sin reigns. When everyone does  what they believe is right for themselves, what absolute standard – i.e. moral – are their actions being measured against? If my standard for “good conduct” is significantly lower than someone elses, I cannot be faulted for doing that I believe is right for me – even if I sin against that person! However, God has already set the “measuring stick” by which our actions are compared – His Word.

A non-believer may disagree with that statement. Even a believer who is fairly liberal in their views may not fully stand in agreement. However, their standing has no merit because the Bible has already told us about those who do not honor God, even though they know him. Bear in mind, honoring God involves more than a profession of faith with your mouth. Are you also honoring God with your hands and feet?

We’ve failed to live up to God’s moral standard (Gen 3). The cross was our way back to be reconciled into relationship with Him, thereby, once again, providing us the example of a moral standard in Christ. Christ’s work on the cross is forever.

There is not now, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be, grounds for someone to rightfully claim that there are no moral absolutes. God, by nature, is moral. God, himself, is absolute. And above all else, God alone is perfect and requires no example of morality. We do.

With A Cup of Coffee…

Below is some content I’ve enjoyed over the past week or so. Maybe you’ll enjoy them as well.

1.“The Slender Man Made Me Do It”: Compelled to Violence by an Internet Myth by S.D. Kelly

This is extremely disturbing. The idea that a make believe figure on the internet has captivated the minds of young people in such a way that they commit such hideous crimes to “please” him. This is just another reason that parents MUST be involved in monitoring their childrens entertainment habits.

2. 12 Questions to Ask Before You Watch ‘Game of Thrones’ by John Piper

This article is a transcript from the Ask Pastor John podcast. Great content here. All 12 questions are applicable in all forms of entertainment. All 12 questions convicted me.

3. on daughters and dating: how to intimidate suitors by Jen Wilkins

Great article from Jen. I, too, found the “Application to Date My Daughter” funny…I still do, if I’m honest. However, I truly appreciate Jen’s exhortation to protect our daughters in a more secure and Godly way.

4. LOL Interwebz: Six Things You Can Stop Telling People to Stop Posting on Social Media by Luke T. Harrington

This is just funny…and so relevant. Admittedly, I thought some of the same thoughts mentioned here.

5. The Briefing – 06/20/2014 by Al Mohler

I’ve recently started listening to Al Mohler’s podcast. This particular broadcast is on the recent decision by the PCUSA to recognize same-sex marriage and a forthcoming movie called “Obvious Child”, Hollywood’s bold attempt to normalize and downplay the seriousness of abortion. Regardless of where you stand on either issue, take about 15 – 20 minutes to listen to this podcast.

6. What If The Earth Stopped Spinning?

I thought this was just cool.

7. “The Friendly Church”

On 7 Jun 14, my church took part in “Crossover Baltimore”. It was an outreach event that Southern Baptist Convention churches across Baltimore, MD participated in the weekend before the start of the SBC Annual Meeting 2014, which also took place here in Baltimore. My church held a cookout for the neighborhood. This is a short video done by the Baptist Press on our event.