Monday, June 30, 2008

1 John, Chapter 1

I have long stated that this blog is merely thoughts from the ultimate source of Truth. That source is the Bible, the Word of Life. In 1 John, the apostle John tries to instruct us on the love of God and the Word of Life. This word is centered in God’s love, which is the crux of John’s message throughout this book. I wanted to write about this book this week because I think the world does not focus on God’s love as much as it needs to. God’s love is at the center of His word. His love is the reason why Christ came to earth to die for us. I feel that, as a society, we sometimes lose sight of that love as we try to bash people over the head with truth and what we view is right. The love then gets lost in our desire to present a slightly distorted view of the truth.

2The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. – 1 John 1:2-3

This is the basis of our faith. Here John testifies in a couple of short sentences his experience with Jesus. Remember, John was one of the original 12 apostles. He had firsthand knowledge of Christ’s ministry. This is someone that was constantly with Christ and therefore was prepared to spread the gospel out into the world. This book was also likely written very late in John’s life, and he was the last apostle to die because he was the only one that reached old age. In these words he simply states that he is proclaiming what he saw so that others may know. It is a simple plea from a man that knew the time was drawing short to complete his mission.

5This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. – 1 John 1:5-7

This passage brings about an interesting debate on freedom from sin. There are some that believe a sinless life can be lived once we accept Christ. Others believe that accepting Christ’s gift frees us from the penalty of sin, but a sinless life cannot be achieved as long as we live in this fallen and broken world. I used to believe in the former, but as I have matured I have come to believe in the latter.

I have no doubt that the blood of Christ paid the price for all sin, past, present, and future. This is the promise we are given and John reiterates it here. I have accepted this gift, but I am still far from perfect. To me, living a sinless life is perfection, and I don’t think it can be attained in this world. As human creatures it is our nature that we will always fall short of the glory of God based on our own merits. This is why we need the blood of Christ. Saying we can achieve a sinless life in this world is almost like saying we can reach a point where the blood is no longer necessary. John goes on to state in verse 8 that claiming to be without sin means we deceive ourselves. To me, this shows that it will always be a part of us because we are human. The only way we can be totally be dependent on God and His grace is to recognize this fact.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Galatians 2:20-21

20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" – Galatians 2:20-21

My life appears to be going through a season of major change right now, though I feel like I am being forced to stay the same. This is a struggle, as I long to grow beyond where I am at, but cannot. Still, this period of change isn’t nearly as drastic as the change that Christ brings about in one’s life. I feel that change is seen right here in this pair of verses from Galatians. It is a good way to end this brief week of intense study on just a few verses.

When Christ came to earth in human form He brought about monumental change. Therefore, when we accept Him into our hearts there is monumental change inside of us. At that point, we are no longer defined by ourselves. We are instead defined by Christ living within us. We see here that He changed the law so that we may have righteousness through Him, but in reality it is so much more than that.

Part of my pessimistic nature is that I see nothing but failure in myself. I will be very open here. I am 28 years old, but I have virtually nothing in the way of a career. After a very promising upbringing with great grades and everything, I have struggled for the past three and a half years just to find work. Not only that, I have done many other things in my life that I regret. I have greatly hurt those who have cared about me because of my own selfishness. I have battled addictions that have done nothing but served as crutches to deal with internal pain. I have turned my back on Christ a number of times as I have sought my own way.

Yet because of Christ in my heart, I have righteousness. My spirit can rest in the fact that one day, the pain will end. One day my imperfections will be washed away because of the cleansing blood of Christ. I n my humanity I cannot get around that. I cannot see how this is possible, but Christ sees beyond that. His power is infinite. It is able to breakthrough that which I cannot. In going back to Monday’s writing on Roman’s 12:1, I have no choice then but to offer myself as a living sacrifice.

Here is where things get very interesting. Under Old Testament law, sacrifices had to be perfect. I am far from perfect. Not only did Christ change the law as seen here in these verses, He allows us to be the sacrifice mentioned in Romans 12 because we are perfect with Him. He alone has the power to make our spirits perfect. This cyclical nature and how parts of the Word relate to each other is simply a small part of His beauty and majesty.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

2 Corinthians 7:10

10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10

When I opened the Word this morning I was unsure of where I was going to go with my writing. Rarely have I had a verse slap me in the face after a few minutes of leafing through the Bible, but this morning that was exactly the case. I am one of those people that likes to write in my Bible. To me, that is a sign of it being the true living word of God. I underline things. I write small notes in the margins. I cannot remember why I had underlined the verse above or when I did so, but it caught my eye this morning because I had taken this extra effort. Sorrow seems to be a recurring theme lately in my life.

Most days I am filled with sorrow for a number of reasons. It even feels like a case of if it’s not one thing, it is another. In my estimation, this is the worldly sorrow that Paul is referring to in this verse. What gets me down are things in this world that are far beyond my control. When it comes to my job search I can only do so much. I can send out a thousand resumes and contact a thousand different businesses, but I cannot make them call me back or respond to my e-mails.

It also goes beyond this. Other examples of worldly sorrow include bills, health concerns, worry about family and friends, and tons more. These are the things that can overwhelm us if we let them. I am just as guilty as anyone else of letting them overwhelm me as well. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the guilt of our own sin, and that is the death that Paul is referring to here.

There are many things that I have done in this life that I regret. For the longest time I let them control me. It pushed me into depression and bitterness, driving away many people that honestly cared about me. One example in particular is a girl I dated while still in college. I recognize now it would have never worked out between us, but at the time I seemed hell bent on making sure of that fact because of mistakes I had made in my past. She was someone who genuinely cared about my well-being, but I pushed her away because I thought I was only going to hurt her in the end. I didn’t realize I was hurting her in the present by doing so.

The difference between this worldly sorrow over sin and Godly sorrow is what we do about it. Godly sorrow draws us closer to Christ seeking repentance for such mistakes. As Paul states, if we seek repentance through Godly sorrow, there are no regrets. We are promised that once we seek forgiveness our sins are separated from us as far as the east is from the west.

Regret is a difficult emotion to avoid because of our human nature. There are some things that I know I have received forgiveness for, but there is still some regret lingering within me. It is how I treat this regret that makes the difference between worldly sorrow and Godly sorrow. If I let it control me, it is worldly sorrow. If I give it back to God when I struggle it becomes Godly sorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hebrews 12:2-3

2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:2-3

This is such an encouraging verse. I come to it today because I am in need of some encouragement due simply to the circumstances of life. One of the things I struggle with is finding my place in this world. I know that my own struggles pale in comparison to problems that others face. I feel guilty at times getting down about such things as not having a job when, in reality, my life situation is fine for the moment. There are people much worse off than I, yet I still struggle daily with depression from my circumstances. Sometimes I view this as a sign of simply being weak. Other times I berate myself for what I call whining.

That is why this verse is so encouraging. If there was ever a person that had a right to be upset at His circumstances despite what he had been given, it was Jesus. Here was someone who was absolutely perfect. He was given the throne of heaven, but had to suffer the indignity of the Cross. This was more than a mere bad day that I might go through now and then. In suffering, Jesus was still humble. He could have ended His suffering at anytime, but He didn’t.

The joy set before him that the author of Hebrews refers to is the joy of reaching the world with His message. Jesus takes no greater joy than when one of us finds his or her way back to Him. That would not be possible if it was not for the sacrifice made on the Cross. We must not lose heart, because what we face is far less than what Christ faced on the Cross.


1. How can we take heart in suffering?
2. What do you view as Christ’s joy set before Him?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

James 1:4

I have decided to continue yesterday’s theme for at least a little while by visiting some chapters I have written about previously and focusing on a verse or two. I feel in this way I can provide a real in depth discussion of some ideas on a very base level of Scripture. Each verse, sometimes each word in the Bible can be a good topic of discussion, so today I wanted to look at one of my favorite verses, one that is written on my heart and one of the few that is committed to memory.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:4

To me this speaks volumes about both what can do, and how I can fall short of what God has planned for me. First, let’s look at what God can do because of this promise.

Obviously, God wants us to be mature and complete Christians. When we are, we can then accomplish wonderful things for His kingdom. This is not something we attain instantaneously. It comes after years of walking in faith with God. This is where the factor of perseverance comes in. We can only hope to maintain maturity by working each day toward it.

I am reminded of when I was eight years old and began playing organized baseball for the first time. I had watched games since before I could remember with my grandfather, so I thought I could simply emulate players I had seen like Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg and achieve success. I quickly grew frustrated that year when I couldn’t instantly hit the ball every time I stepped into the box. Even making contact on a ball thrown by a pitching machine was difficult at first. It wasn’t until the fourth game of the season that I made enough contact to reach base for the first time, finally doing so on a bunt.

Once I did make contact, however, I saw how I did and remembered. My second year I was able to get on base by actually swinging and hitting the ball instead of turning around to bunt and waiting for the ball to hit my bat. I only had five hits that second year, but I was doing it by swinging, a sign of maturity, instead of bunting. By my third year I was hitting singles with regularity. By my fourth year I had matured into an even better hitter. Not only did I have more confidence and power in my swing, routinely getting extra base hits, but I had the maturity to know when not to swing for power. As the leader of my team, I was given the rare pass to bunt when I felt like it, and I did so in several situations where the infield was back and I could get an easy base hit.

This is what our Christian walk is like. We gain maturity by perseverance and learning, even though at times it can be highly frustrating. We, therefore, can fall short if we don’t have the patience to gain that maturity. This is something I am still guilty of. Lately, every day seems like a struggle to find that place in my heart where there is peace in my walk with Christ. Part of this comes from the imperfection of being human, but another part of me comes from a lack of perseverance. I believe in life long learning. If you quit learning things, you might as well lay down and die. I think we must strive each day to learn, whether it is skills for this life or the next. When we learn, we grow, and the only way we can grow to the point where we lack nothing, as this verse suggests, is to grow in Christ daily. Lately I have been guilty of not doing this.


1. How do you define persevereance?
2. How do you define maturity?
3. How does one relate to the other?

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Return of Veritas: Romans 12:1-2

It has been a very long two weeks for me. It has been a time period where I have questioned my very faith, and in doing so I have felt like nothing more than a petulant child. In an effort to be transparent, I have been struggling mightily lately with issues of depression, professional stagnation, personal loss, and feelings of uncertainty as several people close to me fight some serious medical issues. In this, I have drifted away from my source of strength in Christ. In this, I have been very angry with God. For a few days I even stepped away entirely, feeling like this entire situation that we call life we completely hopeless because we are powerless to change anything. I even questioned if God even existed.

Then there was yesterday. The pastor in my church recently, to my great surprise, announced that he was resigning from his position as lead pastor to follow another calling in ministry. While his situation in life is quite hectic at the moment as he figures out what that entails, I find myself somewhat envious of him because he has obviously been called to something greater. Yesterday he delivered one of his final sermons, and it was based almost solely on Romans 12:1-2.

This is the first time I have revisited a chapter since I started writing here, and it is also the first time I have focused on something so short. Still, these two verses were very powerful.

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by this renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will. – Romans 12:1-2

This is where I am forced to continue editorializing. I must testify as to the power of God, because I wasn't in the most receptive mood for this message. Even now, I am still filled with doubt because I feel so defeated by the world, but God has used this small passage to breakthrough to my heart. The crux of this message was, as mentioned in verse one, God's mercy. Without God's mercy, we are completely powerless. Everything that we have done, from our least, pales in the sight of God. Also, my pastor pointed out that our time on this small ball of rock, water, and air that we call earth, is a fleeting vapor in the vastness of creation. What we think is important means nothing. Therefore, the only thing we have, the only thing that gives our lives importance, is God's mercy.

From a skeptics perspective consider the following. If there is no God at all, no matter what God you believe in (Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, etc.), then what is the point of existence? Of the billions of people who have ever lived, and the billions currently living now, what is the point of their existence if they become dust in the end? Now say there is a God. Physically, this does not change anything for us because we still live our lives, die, and become dust. But with that God, the supreme Creator and ruler over everything, we are given meaning, purpose, and everlasting life with Him through His mercy. He does not need us, yet he sent His Son to live with us. His Son suffered and died on the cross so that we might find purpose in His mercy.

What then, do we owe God? How can we possibly offer Him anything less than our very lives? He is the reason we even have what little we are given in terms of time, physical stuff, and our place on this earth. If God doesn't exist, then it doesn't matter what we do anyway because there is no hope in the end. If God does exist, however, we cannot help but offer ourselves to him in this way. Then, and only then, can we be transformed into what He needs us to be. As I try and wrap my mind around that this morning I realize that even in my doubt, His message has served a purpose. These words have gotten me to think and write about His message in this regard.


  1. What does God's mercy mean to you?
  2. What role does grace play in this message?
  3. Where does our purpose come in this?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I would like to announce this morning that I will be taking a two week hiatus from writing here. Mentally, I am way too distracted with things going on in my life at the moment and I am unable to give this the focus that it needs and deserves. I feel like things will be coming to a head in the next two weeks, plus I may be traveling out of state briefly for a personal matter, so I must step away for a moment. I plan to continue the gospels series with the book of Mark once I return.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 28

If the death of Jesus on the Cross is the lowest point in human history, His resurrection here in chapter 28 of Matthew is the highest. In fact, I would say it goes beyond the scope of this. It's clearly the pinnacle of the entire universe. Before Jesus rose from the dead sin had power over all of humanity. We were lost in our sin, and our own feeble attempts at reconciliation through the law had fallen short. Though the Resurrection Jesus snatched the keys of death away and allowed us to have a mediator through which we can be granted power over death. We live and are promised victory through this resurrection.

 8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." – Matthew 28:8-10

I cannot imagine the joy that Mary Magdalene and the other felt at seeing Christ risen from the dead. It is in this very moment that we draw hope for our own lives. We must take this in faith, as those that had an eyewitness account are long dead. What we see here is the final fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made as mediator for our sins. With this promise being fulfilled we are lost. There would be hope for us. One could say that Jesus, just as a man, could have possibly fulfilled the other prophesies. This final one, rising from the grave after the third day, could have only been accomplished by the true Son of God. Matthew even goes on to list the possibility of skepticism in the next verses by mentioning the lie that persists to this day of the body being stolen. This is where our choice lies. Do we believe he rose from the dead, or that the body was stolen?

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." – Matthew 28:16-20

I find it interesting that Matthew chooses to end hi telling of the gospel with a pair of stories from diverging perspectives. The first is the story that the body was stolen and, therefore, the Resurrection is a hoax. The second, which we see here, is known as the Great Commission. I have dog tag hanging from the rearview mirror of my car that has Matthew 28:19 on it as a reminder of the mission I am on. This passage is as true today as it was back then. It is basically Jesus' parting words to us to make sure we are always on mission to spread His word. In it, He promises to be with us in our mission spiritually. This commission means different things for every person. It all depends on how we are called to live this commission. The important thing is to live it, no matter how you are called to. Personally, I feel as if I am constantly on this mission, and it is one of great importance.