thumb licks [3.14.12]

Fight sin is tiring.

The gospel of art.

8 ways to protect your children from sexual abuse.

5 reasons God said “NO.”

Why daylight savings time is pointless.

Harold Camping admits sin and doomsday predictions.

Be careful what you say to your pastor.

Why imposters love church.

3 Little Pigs. If it were told today in today’s world.

Kony 2012. I hope this movement does not make this man famous, but that justice would be taken. I appreciate this letter from a fellow brother in Africa to a lady who has questions about Kony.

thumb licks [1.27.11]

5 Ways Wives Can Encourage Their Husbands.

An Open Letter to Christian Wives with Unbelieving Husbands.

20 Things a Husband Could Say to Defuse an Argument with His Wife.

Don’t Know How To Act When Someone Corrects You? Your Worries Are Over!

How to Honor your wife. Treating your woman like a queen.

Parenting Wisdom 101. Straight from Proverbs.

What Does God Want From Me? Some Important Thoughts For Children.

Why pray? Learning from the lips of Jesus.

Tom Hanks and Toddlers & Tiara’s:

what is man?

I am sure the untimely and inconvenient news was a shock to the two unwed teenagers the summer of 1979. The news, “You’re pregnant!” Abortion might have been an option, but both their Catholic parents discouraged it and encouraged the baby to be born. I am grateful my two parents decided on the side of life.

Before my sister Samantha was born, my mother and step-dad were already aware she would be born with Spina Bifida. The doctors recommended an abortion thinking it would be laborious to bring a physically disabled child into the world. It is true, my family would have to adjust and Sam would not have the use of her legs, but no one would know the blessing of my beautiful, intelligent, and warm sister, now an incredible young woman.

Today is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. I hate this day. I don’t hate it because I think it is unbiblical. I hate it because I have to say things in church that shouldn’t have to be said. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, or economic status. The very fact that these things must be said is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.

I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that as preach there are babies warmly nestled in wombs that won’t be there tomorrow. I’m reminded that there are children—maybe even blocks from this church—who will be slapped, punched, and burned with cigarettes butts before this message is over. I’m reminded that there are elderly men and women whose lives are pronounced a waste and euthanasia is considered a viable option.

But I also love Sanctity of Human Life Sunday when I think about the fact that I am in a church with ex-orphans, adopted into loving families. I am in a church that supports local pregnancy centers for women in crisis. Like Proverbs 31:8-9 you, “Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and the needy.” May the church continue to be a haven for men and women—who have aborted babies—find their sins forgiven and consciences cleansed by Christ.

Believe it or not the Bible is silent on the topic of abortion [as it is on the humanity of whites, blacks, Hispanics, etc]. Jesus never said, “thou shalt not abort,” even though it was practiced during His day too. Although the Bible does not condemn abortion does not mean it condones it. Likewise, just because culture or government condones it as legal doesn’t it mean it’s God-honoring. The Bible is clear: you are not to take innocent human life without justification.

Therefore, if a positive case can be made for the humanity of the unborn apart from the Bible you can logically conclude that Biblical commands against the unjust taking of human life apply to the unborn as they do other human beings whether they are red, yellow, black or white, young, old, skinny or fat, healthy or not. And to this point, science confirms theology. In other words, science gives the facts you need to arrive at a theologically sound conclusion. What the science of embryology makes clear is that from the earliest stages of development, human embryos and fetuses are human beings but just less developed than the adults they will soon become.

The question I pose this morning: at what point does the embryo begin to be made in the image of God? The answer to this question comes down to your view of God and human life in connection with God. The answer to this important theological question is packed into a little song that David wrote in Psalm 8.


The psalm begins and ends with its main point: “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” [8:1, 9]

The two words for lord (O LORD, our Lord) are not the same in Hebrew. The first LORD, with all caps, is a translation of the name YHWH. It’s His personal name. The name He gives Himself. It is built on the statement in Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am.” It’s a name to remind us that He absolute exists. He simply is. He did not come into being, and does not go out of being. He never changes in His being, because He is absolutely exists in His being.

His name is majestic in all the earth. There is no place in all the earth where God is not YHWH—where He is not the absolute One. Everything everywhere depends absolutely on Him. He depends on nothing, but everything depends on Him. He has no viable competitors anywhere. He has no challengers to His throne. He is above all things everywhere. He sustains all things everywhere. He is the aim and goal of all things everywhere. He is greater and wiser and more beautiful and wonderful than everything everywhere. “O YHWH, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth.” That’s the main point of the psalm.

In response you and I are to stand in awe of His majesty and worship. The majesty of God is awe-inspiring. Those who have seen His majesty have never been the same. John fell on His face in the presence of God. Isaiah cried, “I’m unworthy,” when in the thundering presence of God. Do you have a majestic view of God? If you have a majestic view of God you will have a majestic view of life. If you have a low view of God you will have low view of life.


We are going to skip over verse 2 for a moment. I promise we will come back to it. In verses 3-4 David responds to His majestic Creator, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” The point of these two verses is to see God’s bigness and my smallness. God is infinitely great, and man, by comparison, is nothing. God creates stars with His fingers and I am so small compared to Earth, the sun, and the billions of suns that form up our galaxy, and the millions of galaxies that are laid out in our universe.

Have you ever stood underneath the night sky and thought, “Wow, I am small and insignificant?” That’s the point. God created all that bigness so you’d have a sense of smallness. Some consider it a lot of wasted space, but space God’s natural billboard proclaiming His praise. Worship is not found in feeling big, but rather in feeling small.

An honest question arises in verse 4, “Why do You consider man when You are so majestic?” The answer comes in verses 5-8: “You [O God] have crowned him with glory and honor…You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet…” Now that is absolutely astonishing! John Calvin summarized it by saying, “Whoever, therefore is not astonished and deeply affected at this miracle—God being mindful of man—is more than ungrateful and stupid.” Although man is nothing compared to God, He makes man His supreme creation.

God’s majesty is seen as He creates man in His image [Genesis 1:26-27]. One might ask when does the image of God begin in man? According to God, it begins even before one cell splits and multiplies in the womb. In the human embryo are found the marks of your Maker. No other creature in God’s creation is crowned with glory and honor like mankind.

God’s majesty is seen as He makes man dominioneers over all His creation [Genesis 1:28-31]. God gives you a job—care and protect life. However, when we read the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, their children, and observe history thereafter man does not do a good job caring for and protecting life. We don’t like our job. We want a new job. We’d rather redefine the job. Therefore we join a union and march with picket signs that say, “God, I have a rights!”

Do I have rights? Sure. In our society a woman has her rights. She can murder a child and get away with it. I am an advocate for civil and judicial rights, but not rights-gone-wild. The freedom and liberty to use our rights is not always right. Especially when it comes to shedding innocent blood. A human that demands, “I have rights!” Is saying what a sinner says when it rejects God’s moral rules. God determines what is right and wrong. He says we are to care for and protect life. Every man has the right to life.

You cannot starve an elderly human to death and worship the majesty of God. You cannot dismember an unborn human and worship the majesty of God. You cannot gas a Jewish human and worship the majesty of God. You cannot lynch a black human and worship the majesty of God. You cannot gossip, harbor bitterness, or curse a man to his face and worship the majesty of God. Jesus says to hate another human is commit abortion in your heart. You cannot worship the majesty of God while treating His supreme creation with dishonor.


You might be wondering what does this have to do with the sanctity of life or abortion? Let’s go back to verse 2. There is an incredible contrast between verse 1 and 2. Verse 1 says, “You have set your glory above the heavens.” And Verse 2: “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” The contrast is strange. God is highest of all beings. None could be stronger, wiser, or greater. But babies are weak; they seem to have no wisdom or knowledge. They are utterly dependent on others. They are insignificant in the world’s eyes.

So why does the psalm mention babies? Why are they here? What are they doing? The verse says what they are doing: They are defeating the enemies of God. They are opening their mouths and saying or crying something. And whatever they are saying or crying is powerful enough “to still the enemy and the avenger.”

God has enemies. His foes are those who rebel against His majesty [8:1,9]. They do not see Him as majestic, nor do they want to worship Him. They get far more pleasure out of getting praise for themselves than giving praise to God. Our world has been ruined because of these enemies. And in order for the world to return to its proper purpose, these enemies will have to be dealt with. And what verse 2 tells us is that God, in His majesty and greatness makes babies the means of His triumph over His enemies. Let the strangeness of this sink in. God conquers his foes through the weaknesses of the weak—the worshipful coo’s of baby’s lips.

To understand verse 2 in it’s fullness you have to realize God comes to earth in the form of a cooing and crying baby. Jesus, the God-man, came into the world in childlike lowliness and human weakness. God takes on skin. He’s born of a virgin in a barn. He grows into a man, lives a sinless life, but certain men convict Him of a crime He did not commit. He dies on a cross and 3-day later He rises crushing His enemies under His feet [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:27].

During His earth ministry He welcomed children when others wanted to shoo them away [Mark 10:13-16]. Jesus loves all the little children.  Moreover, He said the measure of our love for Him would be measured by our love for children [Mark 9:36-37]. He took the children in His arms as if to say, “Honor these little ones, and you honor Me. Send them away because they are weak, socially insignificant, and bothersome, and you’ve demonstrated you don’t understand the values of the kingdom.”

In Matthew 21, Jesus draws near to Jerusalem. It is Palm Sunday. He enters the city riding on a donkey. The crowds see what this means and they cry out in verse 9, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Hosanna means “salvation.” They are shouting that God’s salvation is coming. They see Him as a prophet or perhaps the Messiah himself—The king of Israel who would defeat the enemies of God.

Now there are children in the crowd. They see what’s happening. They hear their parents shouting. So they take up the chant in verse 15, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” These children are calling Him the king of Israel. The chief priests and the scribes cannot endure the ruckus any longer. They think it’s outrageous for Jesus to hear this kind of praise and not stop or correct them. So they say to Jesus in verse 16, “Do you hear what these are saying?” What they meant was, “We know you can hear what these are saying, but we cannot imagine why you don’t stop them, since you are most certainly not the Messiah.”

Jesus’ answer is as clear as crystal, and its connection to Psalm 8 is frightening. He simply says, “Yes, I hear.” With those few words He says, “Yes. I didn’t miss a word. They are not mistaken. They are not blaspheming. They are not foolish. They just seem foolish. I approve what they are saying” Jesus receives worship from children. And Jesus goes on to say to the chief priests and scribes: “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” It’s a direct quote of Psalm 8:2.

Two things happen when Jesus quotes this Psalm. First, it comes true. His enemy is silenced. The chief priests and scribes are speechless. The praise of the children’s lips won the day. God is defeating His enemies through the weakness of children and man. Second, the meaning of psalm 8 is amplified. When these children cry out, “Hosanna to the Son of David !” Their praise was directed to Jesus. Jesus knew it. The chief priests and scribes knew it. And Jesus accepts their worship being God—the absolute One–Himself. On that day, the majesty of God had a face of flesh and a name. His name is Jesus.

In closing I want to share with you a story about my best friend, Ben. In high school our friendship grew through helping each other live for Christ. When I went to college I had less contact with Ben. While I went to Bible College, Ben was going to parties and sleeping with girls. His life became a mess. He got a girl pregnant. To cover it up she aborted. Although Ben had abandoned God, God did not abandon Him. He was relentlessly pursuing Ben.

I remember coming home on college break and visited Ben’s apartment. It looked like a disaster, smelled like beer, and felt dark. I asked Ben, “So what’s God been doing in your life?” I am sure he wanted to kill me for asking a question with an obvious answer. What Ben needed I could not give. He needed his enemies of pride and guilt and thinking “I have rights” to be defeated. In Christ they already were. I kept in contact with Ben. He left for Florida where he thought he’d be anonymous. The majesty of God prevailed, He would not leave him alone, pursuing his heart, and Ben repented of his sin.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” [Psalm 103:11-13]

Jesus forgives sinners who come to Him with child-like faith. God redeemed Ben’s life. God has given him a godly wife and blessed him with two (so to be three) beautiful children. Today Ben is serving God in the ministry. Ben is an advocate for life.

Jesus can forgive you too. No matter how bad your sin or how dirty your past. He will not only forgive you but welcome you as His child in His compassionate arms. Come. He awaits you with an embrace.

Why do I need psalm 8? It inflames my heart with wonder, awe, and love for God. Seeing the majesty of God is the first step towards looking at myself and other humans rightly. In His majesty we see the sanctity of life.


the sanctity of life

January 22nd is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. As a result, today in the US, 1 unborn child is killed every 23 seconds.

When you stop to realize that the US only accounts for 3% of abortions worldwide, you realize that there is a relentless global slaughter underway. May God exercise both his mercy and judgment, and may Christ return quickly.

Here are some articles I would encourage you to read or watch to equip you and your church for the sanctity of life:

How sacred is human life?

One gospel, unabortable. Who are children?

Is there a connection between birth control and abortion?

What is the task of a pro-life pastor in the 21st Century?

Woman meets child born out of rape given up for adoption 77 year ago.

Does rape justify abortion?

What should I do after abortion?

Does the Bible’s silence justify abortion?

How can I defend life in a new generation?

5 bad ways to argue about abortion.

Jesus loves the little children.

10 reasons I am optimistically pro-life.

Exposing the Dark Work of Abortion. Free book.


Abort 73
Case for Life
Prolife Training

life hurts. God heals.

When I was in the fourth grade I came down with a strange case of osteomyelitis—a bone marrow disease that can kill if not treated quickly. I ended up in the hospital with a 106-degree fever. I missed about 3-weeks of summer vacation, which for a 9-year old is pure-torture. Not to mention, I missed a B-52’s concert. Yeah, I know. But Love Shack was the hit song in 1989! I still remember the pain from surgeries I had on my knee and chest. I have the scars to prove it.

Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least 1 in 3 women have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused within her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. 55-95% of those abused do not speak up or get help. Do you know people that are hurting from an abusive relationship, a violent marriage, or rebellious child? They are in your church, office, and family. Life hurts, but God heals.

I have seen firsthand how pains inflicted by those you love leave deep scars.  Maybe you have experienced a hurtful conversation with a friend, an abusive relationship, or a violent episode. The healing of these deep wounds can take you down a rocky road of bitterness, hatred, sorrow, depression, or brokenness. Such wounds do not go away easily with time. Sometimes signs of a painful past linger for a lifetime.

Hurts can make you better rather than bitter (a summary of Joseph’s past; Genesis 37-41)

Joseph’s the guy who got thrown under the bus by his brothers. They are ticked because he is the favored son and rubs it in wearing his colorful coat and gloats about dreams of his entire family bowing down to him. Their anger leads them devise a plan to sell him as slave in Egypt. Joseph is bought by Potiphar, the captain of the Pharaoh’s guard, and soon is put in charge of his entire household. The only thing he could not control is Potiphar’s wife. She continuous lures him sexually, but he remained pure. She gets tick, so she sets him up with false assault charges and he’s thrown into prison. In the can, God uses him to interpret two of his cellmate’s dreams, which eventually gets him into King Pharaoh’s palace to interpret his dream.

Joseph faced an intense season of suffering [totaling 20-years], which all snowballed from his brother’s sinful plan. God was with him. Even though all the pain and hurt. And Joseph responds with meekness not bitterness.

Give yourself reminders of God’s character (Genesis 41:50-52)

I like to think I have a good memory, but I still forget. I have memory aids like a small UPS truck to remind me to pray for my dad or 2-dollar bill in my wallet that frequently reminds me of my great grandfather Roman. I also keep important dates like my wife’s birthday and our wedding anniversary on my computer. If it ever crashed I would be doomed!

Joseph was blessed with a wife and two sons. It’s the only family he’s got, since his brothers ditch him for some dough. In honor of his God, Joseph gives beautiful and worshipful names to his two new sons. Every time he sees them he is reminded of God’s character despite a horrendous past,

“Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” [41:50-52]

When my daughter was born, Sarah and I named her, Justus. It was inspired from a character from Acts 18:7, but her name is also tribute to God’s justice. Since we are moving our family to serve people who have not seen or heard our God of generous justice, it is our prayer that her name would reminds us of God’s character. Reminders are important, especially when you’re hurting. Do not forget the character of your God. How will you remember Him?

Forgetting the past is difficult when it unexpected comes back  (Genesis 42:1-9a)

In a dramatic plot twist, Joseph is now 2nd in command of Egypt and in charge of the food reserves in a severe famine. Joseph’s brothers come bow and ask for food. Is it déjà-vu? Or is this just like Joseph’s dream years before? Joseph’s brothers do not recognize him because of his new Egyptian hairdo, but Joseph did not forget. When he saw his brothers he knew exactly who they were. Their faces were imprinted in his head as they sold him into slavery.

Cleverly, Joseph spoke to his brothers through an interpreter though he could speak both Egyptian and Hebrew. Not thinking that the Egyptians could understand them the brothers publicly spoke in Hebrew about the past. Joseph was overwhelmed with emotion. He’s in a position where he could lynch them or enslave them. Instead, he desired to see them again. So he devises a plan to keep one brother, Simeon, in custody until they returned with their youngest brother, Benjamin, who was Joseph’s only full-blooded brother born by both Jacob and Rachel.

Upon returning home, the brothers informed their father of the situation, “We got some food. Oh, by the way, your son is held captive in Egypt. He won’t be let go until we bring Ben. Another thing, not sure how it happened, but we still have the food money in our sacks.” This troubled Jacob. He remembered what happened to Joseph, thus he held Benjamin back. Judah stepped forward and took responsibility for his brother Benjamin. Here Judah begins to own his faith and show why he is a key character in the line that paves the way to the Messiah.

Jacob did a hard thing as a dad. He prayed for God’s protection, and sent all his sons to Egypt not knowing their fate. They needed food to live and the risk was worth it. Through it all, God is at work. When the brothers returned to Egypt Joseph invited them into his home, and they came to the conclusion they were going to become slaves. It’s interesting how the brothers jump to the worst-case scenario. Instead, Joseph wanted to feed them dinner.

During table talk, Joseph learns his father is still alive. He immediately steps into another room and weeps with joy. At this point, Joseph’s has not revealed himself to his brothers, has not sought to see his father, and has not indicated whether he intends to punish or forgive his brothers. The tensions are high.[1] And we now wait to see if Joseph will show his brothers his true identity and if he intends to forgive them or seek revenge for what happened in the past.

The past is not everything, nor is the past is nothing. Your past can affect your present and future [Galatians 6:7]. How should I handle the past, especially as a follower of Christ? I have heard many respond to the past by saying, “I know ____ will do it again. I’ve been down this road many times before. As soon as I see _____ [BAM!] the old ugly emotions are back.” Dealing with the past is usually not a one-time event, but a process. Here are some truths about your past that you’re good to remember:

Your past doesn’t change, but you might need to change. The change could be changing the way you look at the past. Some say, “I would be much better off without my past. How could God allow this to happen?” God gets blamed for the bad and ugly, but God uses hardships for good. Think of characters in the Bible who went through hardship at the hands of others [i.e. Job, Jeremiah, Joseph, Jesus]. How did they handle painful situation? How did God’s glory shine through their situation? Joseph is the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament.

Your past reminds you of present grace and future hope. Hardship often precedes glory. Just look at the cross. Pain and hurts of this world remind you that you are not yet home. God promises you a place where hardships will be no more. Dealing with the past is a process.

Forgiveness is the process of healing to get past your past (Genesis 45:1-11)

After Joseph learns that his father is still alive. He sends his brothers back home to get him. He demands Benjamin to stay and his brothers to go back and get their father, but Judah knows his father would be crushed if Benjamin did not return with them, so he offers himself as a substitute. He willingly sacrifices himself for his brother. It is a scene that moves Joseph to tears.

The time has come. Joseph cannot keep his identity hidden any longer.  In a matter of a moment he is transformed from some powerful Egyptian to their long forgotten Hebrew brother. It is a beautiful moment of reconciliation and restoration. I am sure it is a moment filled with amazement, surprise, sorrow, and many other emotions.

Joseph tenderly helps his brothers understand he is not mad at them (nor should they be mad at each other) for selling him into slavery, “God has sent me hear to preserve life.” [5,7-8]. God planned for the brothers to sell Joseph as a slave in Egypt to ultimately send him ahead of his family to preserve a remnant of his people from the famine.[2]

Healing begins with radical biblical forgiveness. What is radical biblical forgiveness? It’s choosing to treat someone as if the hurt that happened never happened.” It is like taking a chalkboard of offenses and wiping the slate clean, or throwing out the trash bag full of transgressions never to retrieve them again. Forgiveness is a willful decision to release a person from the hurt, injury or abuse.

It’s radical because it’s not customarily practiced. You can willful choose not to forgive. It is your choice, but it’s a choice that will certainly cause more hurt over a long period of time and eventual invade other areas of your life. Unforgiveness is contagious. It is like a virus that moves through your system infecting your entire body. Unforgiveness is torturous. It is also foolish. Have you heard of some of the irrational reasons for not forgiving?

“The hurt is just too big. You should have seen what they did/said to me. I can’t possibly forgive something that big.” That is foolish. You’d think that the bigger the hurt is the more you’d want to get rid of it.

“I cannot forgive until I forget.” Can you forget? Sometimes no. But you will not forget until you forgive. Forgiveness is the process of forgetting. Forgiveness says, “I’m forgiving that, I’m going to release that person. And when I remember, I will forgive it again!” Joe Coffey in his book Red Like Blood says, “Forgiveness is like garbage day in that no matter what I bring to God it is completely taken away. No matter how much or how nasty, forgiveness is absolutely complete. The cans turned upside down. Garbage day makes me feel clean.”[3]

“I’m going to let time heal the hurt.” This is a lie. Time does not heal it only prolongs the hurt. Over time the hurt just gets bigger and worse. If you had a cancerous tumor that is curable but if not removed it the tumor will grow and grow until it consumes you to death. You can bury hurt or ignore it, but when you dig it up it’s still as ugly as it ever was before. The larger you see you past, the smaller you see your future. The smaller you see you past, the larger you see your future. Let go of yesterday – hold loosely today – embrace tomorrow.

Do you see the fruits of forgiveness in Joseph’s story? His anger disappears, he accepts his brothers, he blesses them, and he welcomes them back into his life. He could have responded by saying, “You owe me! I’m going to make you pay by hating you, by slandering you, by returning the hurt, by recruiting other people to my bitterness. I’m holding this over you!” Instead it’s as if he chose the process of healing through the way of forgiveness.

God’s forgiveness demands your forgiveness. When I forgive I am most like God. Joseph’s life is a picture of Christ.  If you want to get a glimpse of God’s forgiveness look at the life of His Son Jesus. Was He despised, rejected, beaten, mocked, slandered, spit upon, abused, hated? How did He treat His enemies? He has a radical response: forgiveness.

How are you like Joe’s bro’s?  Like his 10 brothers, you have severed off your relationship with your Brother-Savior choosing sin instead of Him. If the 10 brothers were in the crowd—and you—we would have yelled, “Crucify Him!” But Jesus, like Joseph, will save you from spiritual famine. In John 8, Jesus forgives a woman who is condemned by everyone. The law required stoning for her sin, but Jesus forgives her and in essence decides to take upon Himself her stoning. Jesus’ desire is to give and forgive. He will save you not just from famine, but also from hell [Matthew 12:41-42]. He offers you a land where you will hunger no more [Revelation 7:14-17].

Second, Judah’s life is a picture of Jesus too. Judah is the first person in the Bible to willingly offer his life for another. Although he never gave his life or freedom, his self-sacrificing love for his brother for the sake of his father is picture of the atonement of Christ.[4] Jesus is the reason a remnant would remain. Through his lineage the Messiah would come as the Good Shepherd and lay down His life for the sheep [John 10:11].

Finally, like Joseph, Jesus is servant king. Sooner or later all will know He is greater. Just like Joseph’s dream and its fulfillment, so it will be with Jesus, at His name every knee will bow [Philippians 2:10]. Better to do it sooner than later.

I have seen how pain of the past has handicapped and numbed people, ravaged relationships, crumbled friendships, wrecked families, split marriages, even divided churches. Life hurts. But God heals. I have also seen how the Great Physician has healed marriages scarred by sexual abuse, and relationships reconciled from verbal and physical abuse. Its radical, biblical, and beautiful. The key to get past the past is forgiveness by the way of the cross. The past does not have to define you. Be free. Chose forgiveness rather than the path of bitterness.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

[1] The story of Joseph and his brothers and father culminates in a way similar to the account of Joseph’s father Jacob. Jacob was likewise separated from his father Isaac for many years and upon moving toward the moment of reconciliation there was a great tension as it was uncertain whether Esau would forgive his brother Jacob or seek revenge against him.

[2]  Here the theme of a remnant resurges. It’s a theme that is promised to Israel forever [cf. 12:2,10; Jeremiah 23:3-4].

[3] Red Like Blood. Joe Coffey and Bob Bevington. Shepherds Press, Wapwallopen, PA. 2011. 132.

[4] Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from Genesis. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI. 2007. 418-419.

busyness is laziness

How does busyness affect our spiritual lives?

Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions. It is taking charge.

Busyness has to do with activity, and spirituality is not the absence of activity. You either enter into what God is doing or you don’t. A busy person is a lazy person because they are not doing what they are supposed to do.

Eugene Peterson, Subversive Spirituality. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Co. Grand Rapids, MI. 1997. p.237

how to use the Bible in personal ministry

Connecting the Stories: How to Use Scripture in Personal Ministry

1. Some passages speak more clearly to certain issues that others, but all passages provide a lens through which to view any issue.

2. In ministry to others, we move from life to text or text to life.

3. Some passages are more easily used in ministry situations than others.

4. Major on connections that arise from the passage as a whole, not so much on isolated phrases.

5. Remember that all passages are linked some way to Jesus Christ and His redemptive work.

Adapted from the book, CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet, Michael R. Emlet. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2009. 83-88.

Read the Introduction and Chapter 1 (PDF)

the gospel is for grandma’s, too!

From a missionary to central Asia:

For the past few months, God has been burdening my heart heavily with the fact that so many of the old people around us are dying without knowing Christ. Usually it is more difficult to bring old people into the Kingdom as they are so set in their ways of Islam to even want to listen. Nevertheless, I started to pray for my aged neighbors. One of them is Diana’s mother-in-law, I will call “Grandma Margaret.” (Diana is our neighbor who had come to faith a few months ago. I am discipling her.) Margaret has heard my testimonies and sharing of His Word with open heart before but since she started going to the old ladies’ Koran reading group, she seemed to have become more distant.

I was so burdened for her soul that I asked God for one more opportunity to share the Truth with her. Several weeks ago, God gave me that opportunity to share but as soon as I mentioned Jesus, she started quoting the usual defensive lines about Islam. It seemed like what I was sharing was falling on deaf ears. With my heart aching for her soul, I shared with her that it is because God loves her so much that He has put her on my heart to pray for and to share with her like this. I shared with her that we don’t know how much longer we will live on this earth but that I would like to and that God would like to see her by His side in Heaven. Somehow, the reality of God loving her seemed to melt that closed heart some to enable her to finally listen. Though she said that she cannot accept Him right now, I am praying that God will be merciful to Grandma Margaret and open wide her heart to receive God’s precious gift of Jesus. Pray that she and her whole household with get to know Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

A few days later, God gave another opportunity for my husband and I to share God’s love with a 75-year-old woman we will call “Grandma Sherry.” A few months before, she didn’t agree with the Good News and even was teaching us about Mohammed. We left her the movie about Jesus called Magdalena. Even though she didn’t seem interested, she decided to watch the movie. Then when we visited a few weeks ago, with childlike faith and tears rolling down her cheeks, she said that she believed in Jesus being the Savior and the way to God! During the visit, she also mentioned that her back really hurt. So we laid hands on her and claimed Jesus’ healing over Grandma Sherry’s back, and moments later she said it was feeling better that she stood up with no pain to see us off. Praise God!

Please join us in asking God for Grandma Sherry to understand and experience the abundant life that she has received in Christ. And may her whole household and the generations come to put their trust in Jesus and surrender their lives to Him.

Thank you for your continued prayers for this city!

The 65/95 Window? Because the Gospel is for seniors too. Much is said about the 4/14 Window (religious decisions are mostly made by youth). But in a world that is aging, how do we reach out to seniors?” Read missions commentator Justin Long’s thoughts on the 65/95 Window.

Other recommended resources: Joe Thorn writes about how “the gospel is for Senior’s.”  John Piper’s talk “Getting Old for the Glory of God” and Dr. John Dunlop’s Finishing Well to the Glory of God: Strategies from a Christian Physician (Crossway, 2011). Read an excerpt of Finishing Well. Read Tabletalk’s interviewwith Joni Eareckson Tada, on the secret of her joy and contentment in the midst of relentless pain. The entire Tabletalk issue [October 2011] is devoted to death and disease from a biblical perspective.

thumb licks [9.18.11]

10 Questions Leaders Should Be Asking. Great for leaders and anybody for that matter.

Without the Gospel, It’s Not Missions.

Why Doesn’t Anybody Talk About Sin? A good question with good insight.

Who is Responsible for a Child’s Education? Is it the parent or the school?

Lonely Me: A Pastoral Perspective

Is Patience Dangerous?

boiling point: anger

Just like water comes to a boiling point and steams, so does a mans emotions. Anger is a God-given emotion intended to help one solve problems. There are many examples where people use anger to solve their problems in a godly way (Galatians 2:11; 2 Samuel 12; John 2:13-18). The Bible describes anger as a passion (orge, Ephesians 4:26; James 1:20; Mark 3:5) and an agitation boiling within with an outward result (thumos, Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Ephesians 4:31).

According to the Bible, anger is not a sin: God becomes angry (Psalm 7:11; Mark 3:5; John 3:36), and believers are commanded to be angry and not to sin (Ephesians 4:26). Anger is good, since it is manifested righteously by God. However, anger is an emotion that mankind can selfishly abuse, therefore, anger becomes a sinful response to problems in our lives.

There are many ways in which people deal with anger sinfully. Some do not admit that there is a problem and they clam up (Ephesians 4:26-27). Some lash out in rage and they blow up (Proverbs 6:34; 14:17). Some stir up anger and strife in others (Proverbs 15:1, 18). Some become destructive and destroy anything that gets in their way (Proverbs 22:24-25; Proverbs 27:4). Some retaliate by getting even (Romans 12:17-21). Anger becomes sinful when it is motivated by selfish desires, when God’s goal becomes distorted (1 Cor.10:31; Rom.8:28-29), when the emotion lingers (Eph.4:26-27), and when it attacks a person rather than the problem (Eph.4:15, 29). These are all ways that one can deal with anger in a way that is not God’s way.

What is God way of dealing with anger?

  1. Admit that you are not handling anger biblically and confess it to God and others involved (Proverbs 28:13).
  2. See God in the problem (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28-29; James 1:2-4).
  3. Make room for God’s wrath, and do not play God (Genesis 50:19; Romans 12:19).
  4. Communicate to solve your problems (Romans 12:18; Ephesians 4:15, 25-32; Proverbs 15:1).
  5. Act to solve your part of the problem (Romans 12:18).

By dealing with your anger in God’s way you become God’s kind of person.

thumb licks [8.16.11]

Can We Be Good without God?

Yes, of course.  But can you explain what morality is and where it comes from without God? That’s the key problem for an atheist worldview.  Craig Hazen explains in this Biola Magazine article.  Here’s the conclusion…

How the Gospel Makes Us Generous and Content with Our Money

I’m afraid the framing of this discussion leads us to ask the wrong questions. Like the junior high boy who wonders how “far is too far” with his girlfriend, we are quickly caught up in questions about how rich is too rich, how poor is too poor, and the like. Where is the line?

Letter to an Incomplete, Insecure Teenager

Four years ago a teenager church wrote pastor Piper for advice about life in general, and identity in particular. Here is what he wrote, with a big dose of autobiography for illustration…

Marriage: The Happy, Holy, Beautiful Mess

Ever hear the old adage: “Marriage isn’t primarily intended for your happiness, but for your holiness?” Well, it’s true and it’s a glorious thing.The growing in holiness part doesn’t always seem blissful. But it means that God isn’t finished with you yet, either. The purpose and hope in marriage isn’t defined by you or your spouse, but by God.

Paul’s Downward Trajectory

Paul refers to himself numerous times as worth “imitating” when it comes to spiritual growth and maturity (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17, 4:19; 1 Thess. 1:6; and 2 Thess. 3:7, 9). What do we see when we look to Paul as an example? He makes three significant statements about himself throughout his years in ministry that are helpful insights into his view of spiritual growth.

Spiritual Depression [D. Martyn Lloyd Jones]

guilt [and false guilt]

The gavel slams and the judge declares, “Guilty as charge!” Someone you did not expect over hears your gossip and confronts you. You are caught with your hand in the cookie jar just moments after mom told you no more cookies. Guilt. What is it? What if you got it?

God is offended by sin. Sin is personal opposition to God and makes us legally guilty before God. Guilt is culpable for sin. It is not the greatness of the law that makes sin worthy of punishment, but the greatness of the Lawgiver.  “No sins are small when committed against a great and generous God.”[1] Paul affirms, “the judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation (Roman 5:16, cf. James 2:10-11).”

God desires us to change from our sin, the guilt of our sin, and back in his glorious grace. There is a great sadness that comes from not being saddened by knowing our sin. As observed in the first narrative in the Bible (Gen.3:1-13), Adam and Eve desire the fruit of the forbidden tree and disobey God to have it. Their disobedience leads to guilt and a cover-up. Rather than disobedience and covering up sin the Bible is clear on how one should deal with the guilt of sin.

Guilt is a close companion for a Christian because it points us to our need for Christ. Guilt is a real reminder that I must not sin anymore, and that I need to follow Christ (Gal.3:24; Rom.5:8). Like stated above: guilt is good.

How does one deal with guilt biblically? First, acknowledge your specific sin (Prov.28:13; Ps.51:4; 1 John 1:7-9). Second, confess to God that you have sinned. Confession is simply agreeing with God. Calling your sin, sin.  Third, if the person is unsaved they must confess Christ as their Savior and forgiver of their sins (Rom.10:3-10). Finally, if the person is saved they must confess to God their sinfulness and continual need for God’s grace. Now there is so-called false guilt, which is disobeying what one thought was God’s Word and continuing on in their same sinful patterns. This is a misuse of what God’s Word says about guilt, and this one needs to confess their sin.

What about false guilt? Guilt is guilt. True guilt or false guilt it is culpable for sin. False guilt has nothing to do with what’s true and accurate, nor is it related to true repentance, but is still must be dealt with as a sinful response to what is false. For example, a girl could have been molested as a child and respond in guilt over a situation in which she committed no identifiable sin. Even though she committed no sin, her guilt is a sinful response to the situation. The Scriptures say that “Whatever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). This girl may have been blamed or punished for things that she didn’t do, or been told she was worthless. A person with extreme guilt over something that was not a sinful act needs to work on viewing their behavior with the truth as revealed in Scripture so that they can live in peace and experience freedom in Christ.

Guilt caused by sin requires an understanding of confession and forgiveness. The Holy Spirit working in the conscience triggers this kind of guilt. The individual should desire to do something about the sinful behavior. By resting in the grace of God and seeking His forgiveness and restoration I can experience freedom from guilt. Guilt must be dealt with, otherwise it begins to distort other problems in our lives (Gen.4:11; Prov.28:1; Eph.4:26-27). I do not deal with guilt by dealing with the feelings of guilt, though I do not discard the feelings guilt may bring (Ps.32:1-5; Prov.14:30; Ps.38:1-8). The feelings are rooted in the problem that made one guilty; therefore the problem is what needs to be dealt with. When we deal with guilt biblically God promises us restoration (Lk.15:11-32; Mt.5:23-38). We also are seeking to be God’s kind of people by changing our thinking and behavior (Rom.6:11; 1 Cor.6:9-11; Eph.4:22-24).

[1] J.I. Packer, Christianity Today (January 2005), p. 65.

thumb lick thursday [5.12.11]

You Might Be an Idolater if…

How do we know if we love something too much? Where is the line between a healthy enjoyment and an idol? Idolatry is often subtle. It can creep up on us in the form of good desires, like getting married or excelling in the work place. You may have created idols for yourself if… [The Greener Grass Conspiracy]

Parenting 001

Does it seem like parenting has gotten more complicated? I mean, as far as I can tell, back in the day parents basically tried to feed their kids, clothe them, and keep them away from explosives. Now our kids have to sleep on their backs (no wait, their tummies; no never mind, their backs), while listening to Baby Mozart surrounded by scenes of Starry, Starry Night. They have to be in piano lessons before they are five and can’t leave the car seat until they’re about five foot six.

Eating with a Mission

How we eat and who we eat with can communicate quite a bit about what we believe. Something as simple as eating not only creates natural opportunities to be intentional, loving, and missional—but meals can also be a reflection of our theology.

45 Stunning Examples Of Bird’s Eye View Photography That Captured The Beauty Of Earth

Here is an awe-inspiring collection of Bird’s Eye View photography that is a special technique of capturing photographs from an elevated location. This gives the bird’s eye view of the object being photographed. In Bird’s Eye View Photography, the camera is usually not supported by land based structure rather it is hand held or mounted and photographs are taken through triggering the camera either remotely or automatically.

What Love Wins Tells Us About Christians

Everyone knew in advance that Rob Bell’s next book, Love Wins, would surely raise eyebrows and create some debate. But no one, including the author and his agent, expected what did happen. Scot McKnight give “10 [interesting & insightful] things we can learn from one of Christianity’s biggest controversies.”


thumb lick thursday [3.31.11]

Lick it, flip it, clip it, quote it. A thumb lick is a term used to describe the action taken when turning the page of a book. While reading I often find great one-liners, statements and paragraphs that are golden nuggets of biblical wisdom. So Thumb Lick Thursday is a way to pass along great tidbits of truth.

Is Mandated Bible Reading Healthy for Kids?

This is probably one of the most common questions  I hear from parents wanting to establish Christian disciplines in their kids. Every Christian parent deals with this at some point. They struggle with what they should mandate vs just encourage their kids to do. And with this, how much? At what point will we defeat our purpose and discourage them?

Hope for hurting marriages

There are far too many marriages in our Churches and communities that are hanging together by very thin threads. When marriages are like this, patterns of neglect are almost always part of the reason. It takes commitment and work for a marriage to be the mutually satisfying relationship it was intended to be (Note: 5 key commitments for a good marriage).


Worship is “worth-ship”, an acknowledgement of the worth of Almighty God…It is therefore impossible for me to worship God and yet not care two cents whether anybody else worships Him too…Worship does not beget witness is hypocrisy. We cannot acclaim worth of God if we have no desire to proclaim it. – John Stott, Our Guilty Silence. 27-28

Suffering & Death

The Greatest single secret of evangelistic or missionary effectiveness is the willingness to suffer and die. It may be a death to popularity (by fatefully preaching the unpopular biblical gospel), or to pride (by the use of modest methods in reliance on the Holy Spirit), or to radical and national prejudice (by identification with another culture), or to material comfort (by adopting a simpler lifestyle). But the servant must suffer if he is to bring light to the nations, and the seed must die if it is to multiply. – John Stott, The Cross of Christ, Leicester: IVP, and Downers Grove, IL. 1986. 322.

What are you Sinking about?

It is easy for communication to be lost in translation. This commercial by the German Coast Guard and their new recruit emphasize this point.

the colossal compromise

A city family bought a ranch out West where they intended to raise cattle. Friends visited and asked if the ranch had a name.  “Well,” said the would-be cattleman, “I wanted to name it the Bar-J. My wife favored Suzy-Q, one son liked the Flying-W, and the other wanted the Lazy-Y. So we’re calling it the J-Q-W-Y Lazy Suzy Flying Bar Ranch.” Their friends asked, “But where are all your cattle?” In disbelief they responded, “None survived the branding.”

Compromise is a part of life. Everyday you are faced with decisions where you have to give up something good for another good. Do I study or do I play soccer? Do I visit this family member or do I visit this old friend? Do I go out to eat for pizza or a hamburger? Do we go on vacation to the beach or the mountains? Compromise is simply changing the question to fit the answer.[1] Sometimes you cannot have both and you must compromise. Sometimes compromising is not this simple. Sometimes compromises can have a great affect on you and others depending on which option you choose. Sometimes people compromise deep-rooted beliefs or sacrifice morals to get what they want.

Why do people compromise their faith? Why do people fall away from their faith? The answer: people give into the colossal compromise. What is the colossal compromise? It is choosing to worship creation or the created thing rather than the Creator [cf. Romans 1:19-23]. Or it’s choosing to worship a man-made god or made-over god in the place of the real God.

Giving God a Makeover [Isaiah 44:6-20]

How do you give God a makeover? As the French philosopher Voltaire said, “God made man in Hus image, and man returned the favor.” In other words, giving God a makeover is to create a god in your image—a god that looks a lot like you. Creating a user-friendly god is not something that is new, since the beginning of creation man has been trying to recreate God to look more like man. Since, God is infinite, man tries to make Him more finite. Man desires a designer deity custom-made to suit out individual needs.

Have you created a god that fits your liking? People tend to cut-and-paste Scripture piecing together a nice and comfy-cozy god that puts up with their messes [by passively overlooking offenses], minds his own business [unlike a pesky parent], approves of their choices [of premarital sex, rebellious friends, and additive tendencies], and gives into their desires [like a genie in a bottle]. Thomas Jefferson made up a god like this with his Bible. He could not believe that Jesus could do supernatural miracles, so he cut out those passages in the Bible and made a version of god to his own liking that fit his own belief. Now known as the Jefferson Bible.

The Bible warns about a time when good religious Christians will compromise their faith to teachers who will tickle their ears and tell them what they want to hear, rather than speaking the truth [1 Timothy 4:1-6]. These false teachers are master sculptures at creating false caricatures of God that morphs from crowd to crowd pleasing particular peoples fancies. Like a chameleon they adapt to your ever-changing desires, helping you give God a makeover. People will go to great length to get the god of their liking [i.e. Isaiah 44:12-17]. Instead of listening to compromisers or sinful-sympathizers, challenge teachers words with the truth of God’s Word in its context—look for yourself and see if it is true.

What is the problem with giving God a makeover? You are not God. Remember, God made you. You cannot make God. Making over God is making an idol of your own god. God does not need a makeover, you do. God is a jealous God and desires no rival god, in fact, He puts your gods up for an old Western-style dual, “I am the first and the last; besides Me there is no god. Who is like Me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before Me…Is there a God besides Me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” [Isaiah 4:6-8]

The problem with making over your own god to fit your own image is that your god is nothing [Isaiah 44:9-11]. You become deaf, dumb and blind just like the gods you worship [44:18-20].[2] You become what you worship for ruin or restoration.[3] You always lose out when you try to compromise with sin. It will consume you in the end. Let’s observe this consuming compromise from an illustration within the Bible.

What is your golden calf of compromise? [Exodus 32:1-24]

Remember when the children of Israel were wandering in the desert and they created for themselves an idol of gold in the shape of cow? This was a colossal compromise. God commanded His people though Moses in Deuteronomy 5:7, “You shall have no other gods before me.” [cf. Exodus 20:3-4] Once Moses was out of range the people caved into to their created idols. Their idol was big and noticeable. Not all idols are so easy to spot. Here are some golden calves that might go undetected to the human eye:

Idol of people. People can become idols. Moses was idolized by the Israelites. When Moses went up to the mountain their man was gone, and Israel freaked [vs.1-20]. They looked for a loophole, “Moses is a good guy and all, but he’s gone, who knows if he’s coming back? We just can’t live up to his godly standard. He’s so spiritual. Let’s lower the bar a bit. Aaron’s a softy, surely he will cave in.” Thus people look for others who will sympathize with their sinfulness and help them to compromise. Like playing Jenga, stacking more bricks on an already unstable structure doesn’t offer a solution. Sooner or later the tower will crumble, and Christians look no different than their worldly counterparts. If your relationship with God depends upon another person, friend, or pastors that is not a good sign. People are great for growing spiritually, but your key relationship must be Jesus.

Idol of possession. Do you see stuff as an idol? Instead of owning your possessions, your possessions own you. This began in the Garden of Eden, when your first parents wanted to possess God’s wisdom. Believing a lie they had to eat the fruit to be like God. According to your world, possessing money is power. The world’s motto and mantra is, “gotta have it.”  1 Timothy 6:10 says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” Like the rich young ruler, money and material possessions can lead to an improper love and a distorted image of God [Mark 10:21; Matthew 6:24].

Idol of provision. Whether it is food, sex or additive tendencies mans desire for peace, comfort, and ease are all provisions that man idolizes [Philippians 3:18; Ecclesiastes 2:10-11]. Advertisers make millions off of products you are led to believe will make you feel better, run faster, climb higher, accomplish quicker, or make your life easier. What you find out moments after getting the thing doesn’t quite meet the hype, and its off to the next thing. Men and women are pleasure junkies, but we seek pleasure in lesser pleasures [1 Timothy 5:6; Galatians 6:7-8].

Idol of pride. Pride prizes you as the idol. In fact, all idolatry comes down to you. Idolatry of pride is Insidious—little by little, over a long period of time you become pompous and self-serving. Pride takes many shapes and comes in many sizes, most of which our culture promotes, “Love yourself. Believe in yourself. Be proud of yourself.” All balloon our heads to the size and shape of planets that we sit enthroned upon as the most-high-galactic-ruler.

Idol of piety. Being religious can be a ginormous idol. Even those who go to church regularly, read the Bible and pray everyday, and know the religious lingo to make great idolaters. Their religious habits become idols colored by stain glass windows. They say to God and others, “Look at me. Look how committed I am.” They are great actors that play the part of the second coming of the messiah. All the while under their mask they are rotten to the core riddled with pride and self-centered piety [cf. Isaiah 29:13].

God does not let idolatry go on unnoticed. He hates idols. What did God call these cattle-loving idol worshipers? [v.9] He said they were a stiff-necked people. Why would God call them stiff-necked? They had become like cow they worshiped. Have you ever noticed how stiff a cow’s neck is? Cows look like people who have seriously thrown their backs out. Worse yet, they were like stupid cows [vs.21-24; cf. Psalm 106:19-21]. They stray away from the herd like ornery calves too cool for corral. Moses asked Aaron, “What did this people do?” And Aaron responded, “You know these people, they are set on evil…I took their gold, threw into the fire, and out came this calf!” Doesn’t sin make us moooo-cho grande morons?

Can a god-compromiser be salvaged? [44:21-28]

A god-compromiser can be salvaged because God is a Redeemer,

“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like a mist; return to Me, for I have redeemed you…Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by Myself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish.” [Isaiah 44:21-28]

God uncovers our colossal flaws, but covers them up with His redemptive plan. Like a potter can fix a leaky or cracked pot, so can God reshape us into His image [cf. Isaiah 64:8]. He reverses us from reflecting our idols to reflecting His image. It begins with repentance and restoration. Flee idolatry. Idolatry is a matter of the heart. Compromise reveals the commitment of your heart. The antidote is Jesus. Jesus is an idol crusher or killer. If you love Jesus solely you will flee from idolatry [1 Corinthians 14:14-22].

Jesus does not settle for cheap imitations or substitutes of God, He wants you to imitate God whose image you created in [Genesis 1:26-28]. Why settle for a substitute, when you can have a relationship with the real God?

[1] Merrit Malloy, Things I Meant to Say to You When We Were Old

[2] cf. Isaiah 6:9-14, 29:9-16; 32:1-4.

[3] Note: G.K. Beale, We Become What We Worship. IVP, Downers Grove, IL. 2008.

modesty is a matter of the heart

When it comes to clothing I don’t care very much. I do like style, but I value comfort more. Now my wife on the other hand likes style. And I am glad she is. There are a lot of opinions on what is appropriate or inappropriate style of clothing. Should I wear a black burke [legalism] or Brazilian bikini [license]? This is not a message giving you a list of what you should or should not wear, but in grace we are going to pursue godliness through modesty. What is modesty, you ask? Modesty is humility expressed in dress.[1]

What does the Bible say about dress? [1 Timothy 2:8-10]

Modesty is a Matter of the Heart. Clothing is a concern for God. How can clothing be a matter of the heart? How do you discern the sometimes fine line between proper dress and dressing to be the center of attention? The answer starts in the intent of your heart. You should examine the motives and goals for the way you dress: Is it to reveal a humble heart devoted to worshipping God? Or is it to call attention to you or attempts to lure others sexually or provocatively? A godly heart that focuses on worshipping God will consider carefully how you dress, because your heart will dictate your wardrobe and appearance.[2]

Mind-set of a Modest Heart [v. 9, “with modesty and self-control].

Modesty is centered in the heart. Modesty should always address the heart before the hemline.[3] Your wardrobe is a public profession or your private motivation. In other words, the way you dress is motivated by your hearts desires.

To dress immodestly is to dress in a way that is flashy, catching, lures lustfully, and sexually revealing. Fashion designers motive is sexual and provocative senses. Sex sells. Immodesty comes from a heart rooted in pride—desiring to draw attention to you. Immodesty is pride on display by what you wear. Immodesty stretches the boundaries of being too tight, too short, and too much information on it [i.e. writing on the butt, ungodly bands, drug paraphernalia, etc.].

To dress with modesty and self-control is to dress with restraint for the purpose of purity and protecting your heart and others. Modesty makes the decision to worship God and make Him know rather than self. Modesty is humility expressed in dress.

Questions to consider about your wardrobe: What statement do your clothes say about your heart? Whose attention do you crave? When you shop for clothes are you informed and governed by modesty and self-control? Do you take God to American Eagle, Abercrombie, Aeropostle, The Buckle, Hot-Topic, or Zumez?

Façade of a Modest Heart [v.10, “women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel…not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly attire”]

To understand this verse properly we have to step into the first century church. Remember, Paul is writing to a local church. He is concerned how their behavior in the church doesn’t match their belief in God. The men were arguing causing disruptions in church [v.8] and the women were dressing sensually [i.e. like the wealthy or whores] causing distractions in church [vs.9-10]. The issue is not so much about the façade of cultural clothing as it is about heart of the worshiper.

Paul is not promoting frumpiness or looking like Plain Jane with no make-up, jewelry or modern haircuts. If the barn needs painting, paint it. God values beauty and personal care for your body [cf. Proverbs 31; i.e. Esther]. Modesty is most attractive. Church should be a safe haven from the barrage of lusts and sinful temptations.

Women, do not misunderstand modesty. As your pastor, I care that you follow God with your whole self. God wants the attention of your heart. I am grateful for our youth leaders who dress modestly modeling grace and beauty. Know if someone comes to our church with immodest clothing we will love her and give her a warm welcome in Christ. We will humbly confront her clothing after we access her relationship with Christ. Not with condemnation or self-righteousness, but genuine care for her growth in Christ. The church’s responsibility is to care and correct a person who is immodest by modeling and teaching modesty. What is most important is your attitude towards Christ.

Many girls who dress immodesty are ignorant that guys battle with lust. In the mind of a man he struggles with the woman’s body and beauty. The heart of men are sexual stimulated by what they see. To serve you ladies, following this series you are no longer ignorant.

Men, do not pass the blame on the way women dress. Combat your lusts. Here are three ways to proactively defeat lust: first, look, don’t see. To see is to dwell on an object to think about it. If you pick a beautiful flower to enjoy, you will kill it. Second, look women in the eyes. Looking in the eyes looks at the women as a women rather than an object for your enjoyment. Some guy once said to me, “What about looking at a woman for her God-given beauty?” To this I would respond, “How would you define beauty?” Usually outward physical features and culture determine beauty, rather than inward characteristics. Love the women you see as one made in the image of God—a sister in Christ—beloved of God. Third, run like hell [i.e. Joseph and Potiphar’s wife].

Questions to consider: Is your wardrobe more like the world or the God you worship? Is the appearance of your dress distracting or manipulating to others? Who inspires the way your dress? Who are you identifying with when you dress? [i.e. Lady Gaga, Kay Perry, Lindsay Lohan, or Debra, Sarah, Ruth and Esther?]

What makes a woman most attractive in appearance is not her clothing, but her good works. What attracted me my Sarah the most was her contagious love for God, sensitivity to sin, and care for others more than herself. As a bonus I think she is the most gorgeous gal on planet earth, for the sake of modest conversation I will stop right there!

Loyalty of a Modest Heart [the gospel, vs.1:12-17; 2:3-6].

Being rooted in the gospel gives you the purest motivation that defines who you are [vs.8-10]. If you love Christ, you will watch the way you look and the way you live before the world because you want them to see the gospel in and through you. The gospel message is the motivation for modesty.

These verses are not an appeal for virtuous living, charm courses, or religious rules, but to show the transforming effect of the gospel. Where your loyalties lie, will rule the way you think, speak, and live. Dress yourself in the garments of the gospel.

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness acts are like filthy rags.” [Isaiah 64:6]

“I rejoice greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” [Isaiah 61:10]

Modesty Resources:

Resources to Fight Lust:

[1] Worldliness, C.J. Mahaney, Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL. 2008. p.120

[2] Adapted from John MacArthur, 1 Timothy, The McArthur New Testament Commentaries, Chicago, IL. Moody, 1995. Pgs.80-81.

[3] Worldliness, 119.