True thanks…

I just read an article about atheistic alternatives to prayers for Thanksgiving.  Now, I’m all for being thankful, and I am not at all saying that Thanksgiving should only be observed by Christians, but it’s roots are completely, totally, 100% theistic.  George Washington, in instituting the holiday, christened it thus:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washingtion

But even though Thanksgiving is rooted in theism, that doesn’t mean atheists can’t be thankful.  In fact, most people are thankful, and far be it for me to disparage anyone from being thankful.

Continue reading “True thanks…”

Freedom in Christ…

I heard a sermon today that was really good – the passage was Galatians 5 and the topic was about freedom in Christ.  The pastor spent a good amount of time defining freedom and how we as a society have completely gotten the definition wrong.

Society wants to define freedom as “being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want.”

But that’s not freedom, that’s slavery.  He used the analogy of the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and said that when we think that freedom is being able to do whatever, whenever, we are basically saying “true freedom is freedom to sin and have no repercussion”.  But that kind of “freedom” results in further bondage to sin so it’s not really freedom, it’s slavery!

He then paraphrased John Piper who said

“You are fully free when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will leave you no regrets forever.” (http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/you-will-know-the-truth-and-the-truth-will-set-you-free)

and defined freedom as :  “the desire to do what you should do.”

That leads to two pretty interesting results:

1)  The desire to do the wrong thing – this is bondage to sin, and if unforgiven, will lead to eternal damnation.

2)  Doing the right thing but not desiring it – this is bondage to legalism or religion in that thinking that just by doing it, you will be OK, regardless of your motivation.  If this is your heart, you are either being led astray like the Christians in Galatia, you are not a mature Christian and need to grow, or you are not really a Christian.

But when we truly desire to do the right thing, and actually do it, with the fervor and attitude of one who understands that “for freedom Christ has set s free” (Galatians 5:1), then, and only then, are we truly free.

Are you truly free?  What are you doing with your freedom?

What must I believe to be saved? (Part 3 of 3)

You’re still with me?  Great!  ‘Cuz this final post is a tad longish…and by “a tad”, I mean, “very”…  🙂

We’ve talked a bit about how Christianity is indeed a religion.  Jesus didn’t give up heaven, live as a human, suffer, die, and rise from the dead simply so you could live however you want and ignore His commands.

He died so His people would live, and now lives so they will never die!

That should mean something.

If you desire to follow Jesus but don’t want to obey His commands, there is something very wrong.  In fact, if you come across a Christian who’s message is simply “all you need to do is believe”, that person is telling you the truth for sure, but he’s only giving you the beginning of the story…

Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) (18) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (19) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

What did Jesus say?  His disciples are expected to make disciples by baptizing and teaching.  But teach what?  Is it simply things about Jesus? Jesus tells us that we are to teach His disciples obedience, and specifically, obedience to His commands.

If you call yourself a Christian, but do not want to obey Jesus’ commands, something is very wrong.

It’s not that obedience saves you, it’s that obedience is a natural outflow of a heart that beats for God.  If you love God, you should obey Him.  True belief produces change because true belief is the result of the Holy Spirit making you a new creation.

But the obedience part of religion, and the fuller understanding that comes with growth is a topic of another post.  This is about the belief part of religion.  When we teach people about Jesus, what do we teach them?  When they believe, what do we expect them to believe? Continue reading “What must I believe to be saved? (Part 3 of 3)”

What must I believe to be saved? (Part 2 of 3)

Last time, we saw that there are actually many questions we must answer about belief.  Which Jesus?  Do I believe?  Are there things I must believe? and so forth.  So, let me start off with a word of encouragement – when you listen to the voice of the shepherd, when He calls you from death to life, when He renews your mind and makes you a new creation, one who’s heart beats for God, one who’s thoughts are focused on things of the Spirit and life, you will be saved.  Period.

And here’s the but…BUT…that new life actually, literally, changes you.  God meets you where you are, that’s true, but He doesn’t leave you there.  He moves you.  He guides you.  He teaches you.  He changes you.  He resets your worldview as He moves you from death to life.

If you say you love Jesus, but remain unchanged, something and someone is horrifyingly wrong.

And it’s not God. Continue reading “What must I believe to be saved? (Part 2 of 3)”

What must I believe to be saved? (Part 1 of 3)

There is a popular idea going around…the idea that religion is bad and Jesus is good.  This idea spawns other ideas like “religion gets in the way of Jesus” or “Jesus hates religion”.  There is a sense in which I agree with these statements, but only if we define “religion” as “man made doctrines that substitute for Jesus.”  The bible certainly speaks out against that kind of religion in passages like Colossians 2:20–23 and James 1:26.

However, the bible is pretty clear that in order to call yourself a Christian, you must believe certain things. The fuller context of James 1:26 is:

James 1:19–27 (ESV) (19) Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; (20) for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (21) Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (22) But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (23) For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. (24) For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. (25) But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (26) If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. (27) Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

If we are to call ourselves Christian, we must not only be hearers of the word, but doers of the word as well.  And the “doing” of the word is pure and undefiled religion.

So, Christianity is both a relationship and a religion.  A relationship in that you must know Jesus, and a religion in that once you know Jesus, there are things He expects of you. Continue reading “What must I believe to be saved? (Part 1 of 3)”

Remaking Jesus?

People love to remake Jesus.  We say “the evidence isn’t sufficient” or “the scriptures are wrong” or “who are we to say what Jesus was like” or “I just don’t think Jesus would ever <do, say, think, teach, etc.> that!”

In the book “Who is Jesus“, (a free epub download by the way) R.C. Sproul makes this statement when addressing our desire to remake Jesus into what we want Him to be (liberalism) instead of who He truly is (orthodoxy):

The problem is simple.  It lies not with the “shoddy” reporting of the New Testament authors or the “sloppy” documents of history we call the Gospels.  It was Emil Brunner, the Swiss theologian, who blew the whistle on nineteenth-century liberalism.  Brunner’s verdict was as simple as it was inflammatory.  The problem, he said, is unbelief.

Is your portrait of Jesus the one we find in the Scriptures or are you rekindling this nineteenth-century liberalism with unbelief?  Are you cutting and pasting a Jesus together who is more to your liking?  How do you decide what to believe about Jesus?  What do you keep?  Throw away?

If you don’t believe the biblical portrait of Jesus, it’s pretty simple – you don’t believe in Jesus in any meaningful sense of the name. Continue reading “Remaking Jesus?”

Who are we?

We are a family dedicated to following Christ – a father, a mother, two sons, and two daughters.  And a dog.  A big dog.  A big, friendly dog.

To find out more about us, please click on the appropriate sub-menu of the “About Us” menu, or click on one of the links below.

To find out more about Jeff, click here.

To find out more about Sarah, click here.  <– this won’t work yet.  🙂

Welcome!

Welcome!  This is a site under construction.  I’m not sure what to make of the rest of it yet, but the blog is up and running.  Most of this is an experiment at this point, so don’t be surprised if strangeness abounds!

 

Who is Jeff?

That’s a tough one – I’m a lot of things.  First things first, I am a slave of Jesus the Christ.  He mercifully and miraculously opened my eyes, made me see, gave me faith, and removed the chains of sin and bondage that kept me enslaved to the things of this world.

Secondly, I am a husband.  My beautiful wife Sarah is my best friend, my sounding board, my support, my love, and my world.  God has blessed me more than I could ask or hope in her.

Thirdly, I am a father to four wonderful children.  They are growing up too fast.  The bible says “blessed is the man whose quiver is full”, and He has filled my quiver.  Two boys, two girls, four blessings from God without whom, our lives would be pretty dull.

Those are my primary loves, and those are the filters through which I view the rest of my life, the “frosting” on the cake that God has given me.

So, what is the frosting?  Theology, computers, music, martial arts, gaming (video, pen and paper, board, whatever), movies – those things are fill in the space between the business.

Those are things I like, but they are not me.  I am a slave of Christ.  That’s what matters most in the world.