Monday, January 31, 2011

Desiring God

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
--John Piper

From the "About me" box to the right:

I used to think that my joy and God's glory were completely unrelated. I lived for God's glory and not my own pleasure. I praise my Father of grace and mercy for showing me that the two are not at odds, but are one and the same, standing and falling together: that me seeking God's glory is what it means to seek my highest joy. When one is missing, so is the other. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. Oh, if only we could fully absorb the implications of this truth! I guess that is what I will spend the rest of my life trying to do. Thanks John Piper. Thank You Father.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting Isn't About What We Get

... it's about who we become.
When God asks you to wait, what happens to your spiritual muscles? While you wait, do your spiritual muscles grow bigger and stronger or do they grow flaccid and atrophied? Waiting for the Lord isn’t about God forgetting you, forsaking you, or being unfaithful to his promises. It’s actually God giving you time to consider his glory and to grow stronger in faith. Remember, waiting isn’t just about what you are hoping for at the end of the wait, but also about what you will become as you wait.
Yes! Read the entire post by Paul Tripp over at DG.
And we know that for those who love God all things [including all our waiting] work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. [Why?] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28-29
In other words, all of our at times agonizing waiting will work together for good not mainly because of what we end up getting, but because of who we end up becoming in the often painful process of sanctification: a pristine reflection of Jesus.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Do it, Lord, do it. For Your name's sake, do it. Amen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prosperity, Worship, Grace

And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples' toil, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws [i.e. that they might worship him!]. Praise the LORD!
Psalm 105:44-45
God gives His people prosperity in order that they might worship Him (Psalm 105:44-45). That's grace. We do not worship God in order to receive prosperity. That's works.

Prosperity is a means to the end of worship. And the way God keeps prosperity from becoming our end (which we're all inclined to make it into!) is that He sometimes takes it away (Psalm 105:16-19,25).

If we live our lives with worship as a means to the end of prosperity, then when God takes our prosperity away (affliction of any kind), we'll be tempted to think that there's something wrong with God and the quality of His wisdom and love. And we'll forget about grace. If this is how you typically respond to God in times of affliction (big or small), then there's a good chance that for you worship is a means to the end of prosperity even though almost no self-professing believer would ever admit it.

But if we live our lives with prosperity as a means to the end of worship, then when God takes our prosperity away (affliction of any kind), we'll come to see in those moments of loss that there's nothing wrong with God. There's something wrong with us and the quality of our worship and faith. And we'll be reminded of why we're so desperate for grace.
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Psalm 105:4
Why? Because that's where grace comes from: the LORD and His presence (2 Timothy 4:22). And that's what grace is: the unmerited favor God gives me so that I can have the privilege of seeking and worshiping Him (Psalm 105:45)!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 105:45

Monday, January 24, 2011

Faith and Risk

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. . . Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief."

--C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (New York, 1961), page 21, as quoted by Ray Ortlund.
HT: Christ Is Deeper Still

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Purposeful Pain

Are you discouraged and weighed down?
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
Psalm 102:4a
Feeling a decrease or loss of appetite?
I forget to eat my bread.
Psalm 102:4b
Struggling to sleep at night?
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake;
Psalm 102:6-7a
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
Psalm 102:7b
Emotionally overwhelmed?
For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink
Psalm 102:9
If so, you're not alone. These things are not rare to the human experience. In fact, quite the opposite. These things are quite common for human beings living in a fallen world. I've experienced it. Thousands of saints throughout the ages have experienced it. The psalmist in Psalm 102--among many other places--experienced it. The inscription at the beginning of this psalm says "A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD."

Why do we have these experiences of pain and affliction as followers of Jesus? I don't claim to know all of God's good and wise reasons for leading His people into the valley of the shadow of death, but I see at least two in this psalm:

1) To drive us to prayer (or deeper in prayer). "[God] regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer" (Psalm 102:17). We simply will not pray unless we are desperate for God. The more desperate we are, the more we will seek God's presence in prayer.

2) To awaken the praise of a people yet to be created. "Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD." (Psalm 102:18-22). This is astonishing. And deeply sobering. In God's infinite wisdom, He uses the pains of His children to awaken the praise of their children. How often have you read of saints in previous generations who persevered through affliction and found your own heart soaring in praise to God? That's one of the reasons that Hebrews 11 is in your Bible! Mark this: God ordains that you experience pain and affliction so that through the testimony of your crying out to Jesus (desperate prayer!) and treasuring Him your children that have not yet been born and their children will come to treasure Jesus as well. He gives you a pain that is temporary in order to rescue your children and theirs from one that is eternal.
The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.
Psalm 102:28
Your pain couldn't be more purposeful. I plead with you: don't waste it.

Friday, January 21, 2011

In Christ: Dead and Alive, Before and After

Before following Jesus, we are both dead and alive.
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh...
Colossians 2:13a (emphasis added)

For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
Romans 6:5 (emphasis added)
As followers of Jesus, we are both dead and alive.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Romans 6:1-2 (emphasis added)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses...
Colossians 2:13 (emphasis added)
Before following Jesus, we were both dead and alive: we were dead to God and alive to sin and the law. In becoming followers of Jesus, we both die and come to life. We die to sin and the law and ourselves (the flesh). And we come alive to God.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4
This kind of language isn't merely an illustration or analogy to help us understand how the gospel transforms us, as if to say, "Think of it as though you died when you became a follower of Jesus or like you were dead and came to life." This is describing what the gospel actually does in our lives when we experience its power. "You have died", Paul says. It's an indescribably deep, powerful, mystical, and supernatural reality that is experienced through our union with Christ. Are you a follower of Jesus? You died. Whoever you used to be is dead (Romans 6:6). Or at least he should be (Romans 6:11-12).

So which dead man do you resemble most? Which living man are you most similar to?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Own Little World

Convicting. Beautiful.

My Own Little World
by Matthew West

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population me

I try to stay awake through Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate but I never give ’til it hurts
and I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
it’s easy to do when it’s
population me

What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world, ooo

Stopped at the red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign said “Help this homeless widow”
Just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”
So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by
I gave her some money then I drove on through
in my own little world there’s
Population two, woah

What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
outside my own little world, ooo
my own little world, ooo

Wo-a-oh x3

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
give me open hands and open doors
put Your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me

What if there’s a bigger picture
what if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now

I don't wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reachin' out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start livin' right now
outside my own little world, (yeah)ooo
my own little world, (yeah),yeah, yeah
my own little world, ooo

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lecrae and Trip Lee with Justin Taylor

Superb. Fascinating. Funny. Challenging. Inspiring. Trip is just 22?!?!

00:00—3:35 // Trip’s testimony
3:35—9:00 // Lecrae’s testimony
9:00—12:35 // Trip’s path from conversion to today
12:35—16:20 // Lecrae’s path from conversion to today
16:20—17:45 // Lecrae on Reach Records and Reach Life as soundtrack and resources for the movement
17:45—21:35 // Trip on hip-hop as an in-your-face content-heavy art form
21:35—25:11 // Lecrae gives an example of content-packing from “Don’t Waste Your Life”
25:11—27:15 // Lecrae on the origins of Christian rap
27:15—28:57 // Lecrae on the poetical elements of the genre
28:57—30:00 // Trip gives an example from his songs
30:00—32:50 // Lecrae on Reformed theology and race relations
32:50—33:55 // Trip on the diversity of their audience
33:55—36:40 // Lecrae and Trip on being an indigenous missionaries to the urban culture and Reformed theology
36:40—38:00 // Trip on what’s next for him in the next five years
38:00—41:55 // Lecrae on what’s next for him and the opportunities ahead in the cities
41:55—46:20 // Trip and Lecrae on the need to deflect adulation from fans
46:20—47:15 // Trip on Christian hip-hop as one stream of the Reformed resurgence
47:15—49:05 // Lecrae on how folks can be praying for them
On that note, Lecrae's new album "The Overdose" just released yesterday:

Around every corner is the lure to consume. A desire to be satisfied. Unfortunately no human being has found anything under the sun that brings satisfaction. So we consume more, and more, and more. Eventually we overdose. However, there is hope if Christianity is our Rehab. In Jesus satisfaction can be found. Grace, love, peace and hope can be found...and there is always more. Consume more of Jesus.
HT: Between Two Worlds

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done... our lives, and in this world.

Please watch this 10 minute video clip (requires Windows Media Player) from Urbana 2003 . You won't regret it.

I got chills as I sat there having my world rocked listening to it live in that event center in Illinois for the first time 7 years ago. It feels like it was just last week.

I still get chills listening to it 7 years later.

This is 10 minutes that only gets better and better as it goes along.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Romance: Why The Universe Is Here

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me 'My Husband,' and no longer will you call me 'My Baal.' For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more...And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
Hosea 2:14-17,19-20

In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you [as my betrothed bride], I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also [as my consummated wife forever].
John 14:2-3
Over at Christ Is Deeper Still, Ray Ortlund quotes these lyrics from a love song:
And of all the things that I want
In this whole wide world
Is just for you to say
That you’ll be my girl
And then goes on to explain briefly why that heart cry, from the depths of God's being, is the reason why the universe exists...and why it's an indescribably glorious, beautiful, and good thing for a man's heart to be unflinchingly drawn towards one woman in this way and for a woman's heart to deeply desire to be loved by one man in this way.

No, romance is not stupid.

Thanks brother.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:25-27

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Jesus, All for Jesus


Eight years ago, while I was a sophomore at Stanford University, my life began to be turned upside down when I met Jesus Christ. One of the reasons Jesus rocked my world was because I knew that if I was truly going to follow Him, it would require me to leave behind everything. Though perhaps not literally everything, absolutely everything. And I knew that as much I wanted to, I couldn't do it. There was too much that I still wanted to hold on to.

From those earliest days following Jesus, I've always loved to sing to Him. And it's something I've never taken lightly because it's an exercise of both my heart and my mind. We should always think about what we're singing and the truth is that sometimes we'd be wise not to sing if we really understood what we're singing. One such song that I always hesitated to sing during my time as a student with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Stanford was called "Jesus, All for Jesus" (below). Every time we sang that song as a fellowship I almost always chose not to sing because of what I knew it could mean for my life if I sang it and really meant it. So I would just sit or stand there and listen.


In December 2003, as a junior at Stanford and new follower of Jesus, I attended InterVarsity's Urbana conference for world missions where I learned for the first time about God's global purposes. Gathered for 5 days with 20,000 other students from all over the world, the magnitude and scale of what was at stake was overwhelming for me. I can't explain to you why, but for some reason I chose to participate in the international track for that week (even though it was specifically for international students, which I wasn't) and as a result found myself worshiping and praying with a smaller group of native Africans each night. I can still remember how all my fellow Stanford students at Urbana that year were kind of taken aback when I explained to them that the reason they didn't see me much that week was because I was in the international track, which was housed completely separately. I was kind of taken aback myself when thinking after the fact about how I arrived at that decision! And only now does the reason for my being there make a little bit more sense to me in light of God's providence.

On one of the last nights of that conference, in the presence of 20,000 other students, there was an invitation for anyone to stand up and make a commitment to spend an extended period of time overseas participating in world missions. As I watched handfuls of students standing up all around me in that event center, everything in me wanted to stand up. But I didn't. I couldn't.


At the beginning of 2005, only a couple of months away from my college graduation, I distinctly remember my interview at Adobe. After multiple career fairs, interviews, and resume distributions that year, it was March and I still didn't have one job offer. But after a series of conversations with multiple people during that interview (which felt more like an information session than an interview!), I sat in an empty office by myself as all the people I had talked to huddled in another office to determine whether they wanted to hire me or not.

I can't fully put into words my experience as I sat in that office by myself, but it was as though God Himself came down and assured me that I was going to get that job. There wasn't the slightest doubt in my mind that they were going to hire me. But as certain as that assurance was, there was another impression that was etched upon my mind and heart in those moments that I still remember to this day as though God Himself had spoken to me: "I'm going to give you this job. But don't hold on to it tightly. I'm your security. So, in the day that I call, be as ready and willing to leave this job as you are today to take it." It's been almost 6 years since that day. Despite other possible job/career opportunities and multiple layoffs the company has gone through, I've been at Adobe this whole time.


About two and a half years ago, God irresistibly and irrevocably called me to labor for the spread of the gospel in Kenya. But two and a half years later, why am I still in the United States? God has kept me here in the United States because at no point along the way have I been ready for the transition to Kenya.


Yesterday I officially informed my manager that I will be leaving my position at Adobe in just over a month. It was a little emotional and my manager would have talked me out of it if she could, but the peace and clarity and confidence and joy that I had from the Holy Spirit in those moments was abundant. The day that God had spoken of as I sat in that office by myself almost 6 years ago in March 2005 had finally arrived.

In those fellowship meetings as a college student, at Urbana in 2003, waiting in that Adobe office by myself in 2005, that decisive night in Kenya in 2008, over these past couple of years, and yesterday--through those experiences and every step of the way--God has been loosening my heart so that I can sing "Jesus, All for Jesus" not primarily with my tongue, but with the fullness of my life, with everything in me.

And, even now, I still feel a hesitation to sing this song.

But, oh Lord, I pray that where my tongue may lag, my heart and my life never would. Only by your grace do I make this my constant, unceasing prayer, from this time forth and forevermore:

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Different Cultures, Different Generations, Same Passion

...bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Isaiah 43:7
I love these two brothers and the fact that--as different as they are--they both exist for one reason: to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ.

To share in this same passion now is a sweet foretaste of and preparation for the day when we'll share in the same song.
And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 5:9-10
Even so. Come Lord Jesus.