Invasion

Acute myeloid leukemia. This is what has recently invaded the body of 7 year old Natalie Chavarria.

It is basically a cancer that results in an unusual and rapid growth of white blood cells that form in the bone marrow and interfere and actually prevent the growth and spread of normal blood cells, to keep her little body healthy and safe. What causes AML can be anything from exposure to radiation, a rare blood disorder, or poor genetics. Regardless of how Natalie contracted AML, she has been attacked by a foreign enemy, and is fighting for her life. Literally.

I am reminded of the prophet Habakkuk in the Bible, who also was facing an attack from a foreign enemy. God had recently “used” the nation of Assyria to punish Israel for their sin and rebellion towards God, and He was about to “use” the wicked and evil nation of Babylon to destroy both Assyria and Judah. Habakkuk was the voice of one in the midst of these eras who had just one question for God… how can He use something wicked for His divine purposes?

Hear the description of the enemy that was to invade Judah:

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians), that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome… their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves… they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather like captives like sand. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it.”
Habakkuk 1:6-10

Sounds like cancer.

Words the Chavarria family aren’t only reading, but experiencing. Words many others are experiencing as well. Maybe even you. Facing what seems to be an unstoppable army in in the form of _________, seeking to rob you of your hope in Heaven, to blind you from the presence of Christ, and to kill the faith you have in the Faithful One.

Habakkuk, is not unlike us. Listen:

“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” Habakkuk 1:2-4

“You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” Habakkuk 1:13

Like many of us ask regarding Natalie, why, O LORD?

And the God of the universe, the God who continually proves Himself to be Sovereign and in control, responds to Habakkuk. He says to wonder, to wait, and to watch.

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” Habakkuk 1:5

Wonder- Be amazed at what I am about to do through this invasion.

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end-it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakkuk 2:3

“I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait…” Habakkuk 3:16a

Wait- Be patient knowing that faith increases in quality, assurance, and intensity the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too. (Spurgeon)

“…for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.” Habakkuk 3:16b

“You marched through the earth in fury; You threshed the nations in anger. You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck.” Habakkuk 3:12-13

“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.” Colossians 2:15

“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever an ever.” Revelation 20:7-10

Watch- Be reminded that the invaders became the invaded through the cross of Christ. Babylon does not win. Assyria does not win. Satan does not win. And ultimately, neither does AML.

Only through the finished work of Jesus on the cross do we have hope in the midst of invasion. God does many things that we do not and honestly can not understand. Babylon to punish Israel? Natalie to endure chemotheraphy?

But one thing we do know is that not only is God Sovereign, God is good. He loves His people so much that He came to suffer not only with us, but for us. The road of suffering that Natalie is traveling, and the one you may be traveling as well, is not a new road. Jesus has gone before you, making a path, calling you to wonder, to wait, and to watch, as you pursue His presence, where you will find fullness of joy.

I’ll leave you with words not of my own, but those from the mouth of Natalie’s dad…

“Pray for a miracle healing and if that’s not in His will, for strength to get through it. Either way, pray that he will be glorified.” -Eddie Chavarria


dead horse

the last thing anybody needs to read is another blog attacking rob bell. it’d be kind of like beating a dead horse and somehow raising it back to life, just to shoot him.

we all live in a world of reactions. cause and effect. i don’t sleep, i am tired. somebody cuts me off on the freeway, i get angry. rob bell advertises a short video, and the Christian world goes berserk.

when we react, more often than not, we are not thinking clearly. our emotions get in the way of our rationale, and many a “mistake” are made and we often end up finding ourselves apologizing for things we “really didn’t mean.”

a different approach to reacting to things that bother us, challenge us, upset us, or anger us, could be responding to them. though quite similar in their definitions, a response is something that requires some prior thought before speaking. shutting up before speaking up; the Bible (especially in the Proverbs) calls this, wisdom.

there are plenty of ministries within Christianity whose sole purpose is to react and attack everything they see that is “wrong.” Bible police. in Jesus’ day, they were called Pharisees. in our day, they are called, religious people. a few examples from the book of Luke:

“the Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, i thank you that i am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. i fast twice a week; i give tithes of all that i get.’” Luke 18:11-12

“but some of the Pharisees said, ‘why are you doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath?’” Luke 6:2

“and the scribes and the Pharisees watched Him (Jesus), to see whether he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they might find a reason to accuse Him.” Luke 6:7

are non-followers of Jesus more familiar with what He was against, as opposed to what He was for? are Christians more prone to react to things of this world (or in the church!) in attack mode, or do we instead respond to them in a way that shows great love, great patience, and great faith in a God who can overcome any and everything for His glory and our good?

theologically, God at times has quickly indeed reacted to sin in the world, such as in the sudden death of Uzzah when he touches the ark of the covenant (2 Samuel 6:5-8). many people would see this and say (and do say) how is it fair that God does this, it is amazing that He would kill people spontaneously like this! if this is something you struggle with, i would challenge you by saying there are one of two things you may not understand: the glory of God revealed in the Bible and ultimately in His Son Jesus Christ, or the depravity of man revealed in our hearts through sin. the question isn’t how could God take anyone’s life, the correct question is how could God let anyone live, and still maintain His role as God?

Romans 3:25-26 are some of the most precious passages in all of the Bible, and actually teach that God is not a God of pure reaction to sin (though He has every right to be), but instead that God delayed His reaction because of the ultimate response He had thoughtfully, perfectly, and graciously planned out to our great problem of sin, death, and hell. His response came not when Adam and Eve sinned (though there were immediate consequences), but came when He poured out His wrath against sin on Jesus at the cross of Calvary, satisfying His holy justice, and gave His own righteousness to His children. This was His great plan of response to the greatest wrong, planned “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4), and we can learn much from God’s words, but just as much from God’s delayed response, or His temporary silence.

according to Spurgeon, “calm endurance answers some questions infinitely more conclusively than the loftiest eloquence. the ambiguous and the false, the unworthy and mean will soon enough confound themselves, and therefore the true can afford to be quiet and find silence to be its wisdom.” Jesus said much in His silence, and “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). He chose not to react, but be not fooled, He did respond.

yet, to be fair to the Christian communities and believers and ministries who have rightly called Bell out for some of his outlandish, unorthodox views, this can be absolutely necessary when the purity of the Word, the gospel, and the protection of the sheep of God’s flock are at stake, and only when done in love. Paul named names:

“you are aware that all who are in asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.” 2 Timothy 1:15

“for Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me…” 2 Timothy 4:10

so i leave you not with a review of Bell’s book, “Love Wins,” but instead several quotes directly pulled from it. i want you to hear Bell speak for himself, this is the least of what he deserves. instead of a prescriptive post (telling you my thoughts), it is instead a descriptive one (so you can formulate your own). i’d then encourage all to be discerning in your understanding, diligent in your Bible searching, and loving in your response

Excerpts from Love Wins

“there are a growing number of us who have become acutely aware that Jesus’ story has been hijacked by a number of other stories, stories Jesus isn’t interested in telling, because they have nothing to do with what he came to do. the plot has been lost, and it’s time to reclaim it.” P. vii-viii

“a staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better. It’s been clearly communicated to many that this belief is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.” P. vii

“of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number ‘make it to a better place’ and every single other person suffer in torment and punishment forever? Is this acceptable to God? Has God created millions of people over tens of thousands of years who are going to spend eternity in anguish? Can God do this, or even allow this, and still claim to be a loving God?” p.2

“what if the missionary gets a flat tire? This raises another, far more disturbing question: is your future in someone else’s hands?” p.9

“… or the woman who wrote the letter to the Hebrews.” P.10

“how could it be heaven without sports?” p.24

“the day when God says ‘ENOUGH!’ to anything that threatens the peace (shallow), harmony, and health that God intends for the world… (his definition of the day of the Lord)” p.37

“everybody is a brother, sister. Equals, children of the God who shows no favoritism.” P.76

“what we see in Jesus’ story about the rich man and lazarus is an affirmation that there are all kinds of hells, because there are all kinds of ways to resist and reject all that is good and true and beautiful and human now, in this life, and so we can only assume we can do the same in the next.” P.79

“will all people be saved, or will God not get what God wants? Does this magnificent, mighty, marvelous God fail in the end?” p.98

he seems to sum up throughout our great dilemma or problem as “our choice of rejecting our ‘God-given humanity’” p.104

“at the heart of this (my) perspective is the belief that, given enough time, everybody will turn to God and find themselves in the joy and peace of God’s presence. The love of God will melt every hard heart, and even the most ‘depraved sinners’ will eventually give up their resistance and turn to God.” P.107 (using matthew 19, acts 3, Colossians 1, 1 corinthians 15, titus 2, romans 5, 1 john 2, john 12, john 6, with no specific verses however)

“central to their (clement, origen, Gregory of nyssa, eusebius, Jerome, basil, and Augustine) trust that all would be reconciled was the belief that untold masses of people suffering forever doesn’t bring God glory, restoration brings God glory; eternal torment doesn’t…” p. 108

“which is stronger and more powerful, the hardness of the human heart or God’s unrelenting, infinite, expansive love? Thousands through the years have answered that question with the resounding response, ‘God’s love, of course.’” P.109

“many people find Jesus compelling, but don’t follow Him because of the parts about “hell and torment and all that.” Somewhere along the way they were taught that the only option when it comes to Christian faith is to clearly declare that few, committed Christians will ‘go to heaven’ when they die and everyone else will not, the matter is settled at death, and that’s it. One place or the other, no looking back, no chance for a change of heart…not all Christians have believed this, and you don’t have to believe it to be a Christian. The Christian faith is big enough, wide enough, and generous enough to handle that vast a range of perspectives.” P.110

“will everybody be saved, or will some perish apart from God forever because of their choices?” p.115

“what Jesus does is declare that He, and He alone, is saving everybody… and then He leaves the door way, way open. Creating all sorts of possibilities. He is as narrow as himself and as wide as the universe.” P.155

“hell is our refusal to trust God’s retelling of our story.” P.170

“because if something is wrong with your God, if your God is loving one second and cruel the next, if your God will punish people for all of eternity for sins committed in a few short years, no amount of clever marketing or compelling language or good music or great coffee will be able to disguise that one, true, glaring, untenable, unacceptable, awful reality.” P.175

“hell is refusing to trust, and refusing to trust is often rooted in a distorted view of God.” P.175

“many have heard the gospel framed in terms of rescue. God has to punish sinners, because God is holy, but Jesus has paid the price for our sin, and so we can have eternal life. However true or untrue that is technically or theologically, what it can do is subtly teach people that Jesus rescues us from God. Let’s be very clear, then: we do NOT need to be rescued from God. God is the one who rescues us from death, sin, and destruction. God is the rescuer.” P.182

“we shape our God, and then our God shapes us.” P.184

 

 

 

 

 


rob bell 2: an update

for those who have graciously read my post from early this morning regarding rob bell, i wanted and needed to give credit to a friend of mine, brooke, for giving me the wording for the gospel definition i used towards the end of the blog:

“the glorious news of an all-powerful, all-holy God condescending to assume the wrath that justly belongs to suffering sinners…”

this was the beautiful structure of words she had recently written to me in an e-mail describing the gospel she has been sharing with people in her life, and i loved it. having put it into my blog and not citing her (mostly due to it being written after a jog at 3am), i wanted to make sure she was referenced and given the credit as the creator of the phrase.

so thank you brooke for your input and i pray your words continue to transform lives and advance the Kingdom of our Lord and King…

 


rob bell

for those of you living under rocks, rob bell has really turned the evangelical world upside down this past week. he has sent many evangelical leaders into an outrage, creating a social network tsunami of extensive blogs (don’t believe me: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justintaylor/2011/02/26/rob-bell-universalist/, http://www.dennyburk.com/rob-bell-outs-himself/http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/02/28/bell-brouhaha/, to name a few) and tweets (the one most noted: “farewell, rob bell,” via @johnpiper). the uproar is of course due to the recently released promo of his newest book, love wins, and to show the seriousness of his words in this short 2:58 video, the gospel coalition recently released this statement:

“Rob Bell’s forthcoming book Love Wins has already raised perennial questions about universalism, exclusivism, the love of God, and heaven and hell. So what does the Bible say about these weighty matters? What did Jesus himself say? And what’s the best way to relate this teaching to a skeptical culture? Don Carson and others will address these questions in a special session just added to The Gospel Coalition’s national conference in Chicago, April 12 to 14. A panel that follows Carson’s address will field questions from the audience.”

special session added to a national conference just a month away to deal with a book promo? this is huge.

i am not one more voice in the crowd wanting to share my opinions and jump on the “rob bell is a universalist” bandwagon (even if i believe it is what it sounds like he is promoting). i just have one thing that i would like to share regarding it, for those who fall on either side of the war zone.

there are those who claim he is a heretic, accusing him of being a wolf in sheep’s clothing, masquerading as an angel of light, deceiving many of the tens of thousands of people who listen to, follow, and adore pastor bell, who leads mars hill bible church in grandville, michigan (http://marshill.org/), by teaching them false truths regarding hell, salvation, and the character of God.

then of course there are those who act as pastor bell’s defense attorney, saying that his messages of hope and his theology are just what this world needs. read 10 comments from any of the above blogs, and you will get a fairly accurate portrayal of each group, complete with scriptures, emotions, harsh words, pride, and hostility. you will be sick to your stomach, and satan will have butterflies in his. when we focus on ourselves or one another instead of Jesus Christ in any situation, satan wins.

finally, my actual point. in the gospel of john, chapter 13, Jesus does something astonishing, that has a practical implication we can apply to the rob bell “brouhaha,” as justin taylor fittingly calls it.

“during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of judas iscariot, simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside His outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around His waist. then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around Him… for He knew who was to betray Him…” John 13:2-5, 11

scripture is clear that judas at this point in time had already betrayed His Lord, His Savior, His friend. judas was a false follower of Christ. he followed Him faithfully for three years. he was trusted by the other disciples enough that they put him in charge of the money. from the outside, he seemed like just another disciple of Jesus. on the inside however, which is what God sees, it was revealed that he wasn’t out to help Jesus, but to hurt Him. and in doing so, he hurt the disciples, and eventually, himself (Matthew 27:3-5, Acts 1:18).

the one who Jesus knew had already betrayed him in his heart internally and who was about to betray him externally with a kiss, deserved a blog attacking him. he deserved to be a twitter trend with the hashtag #thisguyissuchajerk. he deserved to be called out, judged, and condemned for his sin. but instead we see that Jesus did the unthinkable. Jesus washed the feet of judas iscariot.

the Creator of the universe stooped in humility to serve the one whom played a major role in his crucifixion. and this should be our attitude to guys like rob bell. i am not equating judas with rob bell. i am not saying satan has entered into rob bell like judas, or that he in some way was responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. but in some sense, he was. his sin nailed the hands of Jesus to the cross. and actually in some very real sense, so did mine. i nailed his feet. we both are wrong, in different ways at different times regarding different things. only Jesus Christ is good and right… always.

is this to say that no calling out of professing Christians or pastors is required? by no means. every non-Christian’s favorite words to quote (quoting a book they do not submit to?) from scripture is of course “judge not, lest you be judged.” (of course, i’m pretty sure that is the only time the word lest is used in a sentence here in america as well). as pastors and undershepherds of the flock of God, His bride, we need to protect the sheep from wolves. paul called out heretics, false teachers, and those who caused problems by name in his epistles, and if we love our people and God’s church we will humbly and graciously do the same.

at the same time though, in the midst of this rob bell controversy, maybe we need more Christians doing what Jesus did for judas…serving our brother. praying for rob. praying for his church. praying for his people. praying that the Holy Spirit would come and convict where conviction is necessary and that the true gospel of Jesus Christ, the glorious news of an all-powerful, all-holy God condescending to assume the wrath that justly belongs to suffering sinners, would transform not only mars hill into a community of hell-believers and heaven-seekers, but into a group of people on fire for the glory of God realizing that heaven and hell are not merely destinations for humans at the end of time, but realities that begin here on earth: either delighting in the presence of God, or hating the presence of God.

“for this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

anything else, will be hell.

may we be faithful in washing the proverbial feet of our brother rob bell.

 

 

 


mistake

imagine if the story of jonah from the bible started not at chapter 1 verse 1, but rather at chapter 3, verse 2:

arise, go to ninevah, that great city, and call out against it the message that i tell you. so jonah arose and went to ninevah, according to the word of the LORD…

if this indeed were the case, not only would half the book be lost, but one of the most practical and helpful applications we learn from it would be left behind as well. but instead of starting here of course, jonah’s whale of a tale begins like this:

now the word of the LORD came to jonah the son of amittai, saying, ‘arise, go to ninevah, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me. but jonah rose to flee to tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (1:1-3a)

i often talk with many believers who are struggling with making a choice, and more often than not, a difficult choice. they sometimes have to choose between the lesser of two evils: a lose-lose situation. they other times have to choose between two seemingly “good” choices, such as choosing a college or finding a church to make their home: a win-lose situation. and what i have found is that many people struggle with making a decision, because they fear making a mistake.

many christians want to know what God’s will is. they spend endless nights searching for it, countless hours praying for it, and more often than not, most of their time miss it, because they fail to realize that the will of God is constantly unfolding before their very eyes. even in their “mistakes.”

what many christians often fail to discern as well is that when the Bible speaks of the “will of God,” it uses it in different contexts with different meanings. the first is what is known as His decretive, sovereign, or hidden will, which basically means that nothing happens outside of God’s perfect plans, i.e., all that comes to pass is “willed” by Him. He “willed” the earth into existence. He “willed” there to be light. He even “willed” for His own Son to be beaten, flogged, torn, and crucified, on our behalf, for our sins. in fact, “it was the will of the LORD to crush him.” (isaiah 53:10)

though this is often hidden from us until it comes to pass, there is one aspect of His will that is revealed: His preceptive will, i.e. His law. the laws and commandments from God are much more than ancient rules, they are a reflection of the moral character of God, accurately manifesting His perfection and goodness, and the consequences of failing to meet His holy standards. God in this sense “wills” that we not murder. He “wills” that we do not steal. He has also given all human beings a conscience, an internal gauge of “morality,” because He has indeed written the law upon our hearts, that no man or woman may be ignorant of His preceptive will.

for when gentiles, who do not have the law (of moses), by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them (Romans 2:14-15)

an interesting thing to note about the two “wills” of God so far is that the first one discussed, His decretive will, cannot be broken. if one atom of one molecule of one cell of anything in the entire universe were outside of His sovereign will or control, then He would cease to be God. He is a God who is immutable in nature, He cannot change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8), and will not change. the second will however, His preceptive will, is subject to our obedience! He wills people do not lie, yet they do. He wills they honor their mother and father, but they often don’t. though part of the will of God, it may or may not always come to pass.

the third and final “will” of God spoken of in the Bible is His will of disposition. this is in reference to what God desires, His attitudes, and His dispositions as a personal God who is constantly seeking relationship with His creation for the sake of His glory. He does not wish (will) that “any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “have i any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the LORD GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23). though God wills these things because He is good in His very nature, they do not always come to pass, because many will not heed His word, believe His gospel, take up His cross, and follow Him. many, are perishing, “against” this will of God.

r.c sproul sums this up well for us: we would be wise to follow the counsel of john calvin when he said, “when God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry.” the true mark of spirituality is seen in those seeking to know the will of God that is revealed in His preceptive will. it is the godly person who meditates on God’s law day and night. while we seek to be “led” by the Holy Spirit, it is vital to remember that the Holy Spirit is primarily leading us into righteousness. we are called to live our lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. it is His revealed will that is our business, indeed, the chief business of our lives.

many people face a mess with fear of a mistake seeking the “will of God.” let me conclude with an exhortation from jonah’s story. almost the exact same words from the original command of God in jonah 1:1-3a are found in His second command to jonah in 3:1-2. jonah was presented with a decision at first, he had two options. in his situation, it was a good thing, and a seemingly bad thing. and jonah made a mistake (our practical encouragement i mentioned earlier by the way). he picked the wrong door. the wrong suitcase. he cut the wrong wire to the bomb about to explode. and he suffered the consequences, obviously (which is where we get jonah 1:3-2:10 from). but even in his “mistake,” despite his wrong choice and his complete disregard for doing what God had even made perfectly clear for him… he still ended up exactly where God originally wanted him, at ninevah.

God is sovereign over my mistakes and yours! if you are being forced to choose and make a decision between two (or more) difficult things today or soon or ever, be encouraged to seek wise counsel from godly friends(Proverbs 15:22), spend time on your knees asking God for wisdom that He does and will provide (James 1:5), and walk by and in the Spirit trusting He will lead you by still waters (Psalm 23:2). and be encouraged knowing that no matter what you do, even if you make a mistake, just like jonah, you will end up exactly where He wanted you anyways… ninevah.

 


the bachelor

after 15 seasons, 14 bachelors, and at least 350 angry women, the bachelor continues to dominate prime-time television (although fox just broke the world record with 111 million viewers during super bowl XLV, and top spots dominated by american idol and jersey shore right behind, which sums up current american television into the categories of pride, idolatry, and lust).

the plot of the “reality” television show (as if vampire girl from this season wasn’t put there for a reason) is to give 25 or so lucky ladies a shot to convince the star, the eligible good-looking bachelor, to fall madly in love with them. it is basically a romantic version of the book series the hunger games, where 24 children are thrown into an isolated landscape with tools, weapons, and hunting skills where the last child standing, is declared the winner. survival of the fittest.

obviously, this is how we fall in love in america.

as i minister to people, i am often asked the same question, because for most it always comes down to the same question. it isn’t a theology question, or even a bible question. it is usually a very simple, yet very profound one.

“how do i fall more in love with Jesus?”

now when you think about it, the concept of the bachelor is not for the women to necessarily fall in love or more in love with the bachelor, but rather to do everything in their power to convince him to choose them, and love them. if the bachelor was the standard by which i was to base my answer to the question “how do i get Jesus to fall more in love with me”, then i would say, show Him some more skin, cry a lot, and tell him all the other women are whores.

now for some people i talk with, possibly even you, this is important: there is absolutely nothing you can do to convince Jesus to love you and more than He already does. “for while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. for one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for a good person one would even dare to die-but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8. so stop trying to impress Him with your church attendance, your good works, and your religion. He loves you.

for the rest of the people i get the opportunity to minister to, the question is the opposite. they are greatly aware of His love, His grace, His beauty, His compassion, His kindness, and His mercy. for them, they want to know how to fall more in love with Him.

asking somebody for the steps of falling in love is impossible, because falling in love just happens over time. there is no formula. no “to-do” list. no “falling in love for dummies.” the very term we use constantly, “falling” in love, does not allow for it. what is the definition of falling?

falling-move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, to become detached accidentally and drop to the ground, to occur, arrive, or become apparent as if by dropping suddenly.

we rapidly, freely, quickly, drop into something we find beautiful and amazing to the point of becoming completely detached from what we once were and once held on to so tightly. and that is nothing that you can set up to occur on a television show each week for 2 hours.

falling into love, and more in love with the One we were created to love, happens only as we spend more and more time with the One who is love. in spending time with Him, we learn more about Him. in spending time with Him, He reveals more of Himself to us. in spending time with Him, we see more, hear more, enjoy more, desire more, want more, and love more of Him, and His glory…and we find ourselves suddenly more detached from ourselves, our idols, and our sin.

the psalmist simply says it this way: “delight yourselves in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4. we delight in that which we love. we love that in which we know. we know that which is revealed to us. “the LORD has made known His salvation. He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations,” Psalm 98:2. “for I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. for in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith…” Romans 1:16-17

we are not contestants on God’s show, trying to win His favor and love. we are part of His show, His story, and He has sought a relationship with not just one, but every-one who has ever existed, even to the point of sending His Son to reconcile us all back to Him.

14 of the 14 (not including this season, as it is not over) relationships from the bachelor have all failed, every single one. but one guarantee for those who believe in Jesus and put their faith in Him for Christ’s imputed righteousness regarding His covenant of love and grace with us: “for i am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

He offers you a rose, because He endured the thorns. Accept it.


if i only had a brain

“learn not the way of the nations…for the customs of the peoples are vanity. a tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. they decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” Jeremiah 10:1-5

sarcasm can be a powerful thing. these words from the LORD, spoken through the prophet Jeremiah to the exiled nation of Israel, address not only Israel’s biggest mistake and struggle, but ours as well. it is called, idolatry.

in the context of this passage, God is speaking directly to His chosen people regarding their rampant forgetfulness of Him, and their turning to something else to find hope (“behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail,” Jeremiah 7:8), satisfaction (“yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore,” Jeremiah 2:20), and protection (“and now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile?” Jeremiah 2:18). Israel gave their glory, praise, and adoration to many of the man-made idols of the surrounding cultures and people they were now a part of, instead of to the One who redeemed them from slavery, protected them in the wilderness, provided their meals, and who brought them “into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things” (Jeremiah 2:7).

so God said they gave their glory to scarecrows (10:5). they worshiped something decorated with gold, but full of hay (10:4). they worshiped something mighty in power, but who required nails and a hammer so that it will not fall down (10:4). they worshiped something crying for help, seeking hope, and asking for counsel, to one who could not speak (10:5). they worshiped something that promised to free their souls and improve their lives, yet were forced to carry it upon their shoulders as a great burden (10:5).

once men lose their awareness of God, they do not thereby lose their need of God, so naturally, they substitute the false worship for the true, resulting in idolatry.

as believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we worship no scarecrow. we worship the one who “made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens” (10:12)! all the scarecrow sought on his journey to Oz was a brain… and he is who God compares our idols to. because who or what we worship, is who we ultimately will become. “what wrong did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?” (2:5)

choose your treasure wisely. for where your heart is, there your treasure will be also. and remember, we worship not the one without a brain, but the One who created it.


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