Instead of a Show

9 Jul

Jon Foreman, former leader singer of Switchfoot, is by far one of my favorite musicians.  I had heard his song Instead of a Show before, but today I listened to it and really paid attention to the lyrics, and I realized how incredible they are.

I hate all your show and pretense
The hypocrisy of your praise
The hypocrisy of your festivals
I hate all your show

Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when your
Singing ‘em
I hate all your show

Instead let there be a flood
Of justice
An endless procession of righteous
Living, living
Instead let there be a flood
Of justice
Instead of a show

Your eyes are closed when you’re praying
You sing right along with the band
You shine up your shoes for services
But there’s blood on your hands

You turned your back on the homeless
And the ones that don’t fit in your plans
Quit playing religion games
There’s blood on your hands

Ah!  Let’s argue this out
If your sins are blood red
Let’s argue this out
You’ll be white as the clouds
Let’s argue this out
Quit fooling around

Give love to the ones who can’t love at all
Give hope to the ones who got no hope at all
Stand up for the ones who can’t stand up at all
Instead of a show
I hate all your show

What’s on my mind.

6 Jul

Here is what is currently on my mind:

  • The fact that I only have 2 ½ weeks left in my summer statistics class.  While that makes me incredibly happy, it also kinda sucks because that means I don’t have long to pull my grade up.  I will never take a summer class again in my life.  Especially not one where you have to do almost everything online.
  •  

  • I leave for my NYC mission trip in 18 days!  I’m extremely excited.  Really looking forward to working with these kids and all the other people on the team.

 

  • And lastly… I move to App in 45 days!  I’m so ready to move… although not necessarily ready to start classes.  Thank God I will have like a three or four week break between my summer class and fall classes!

Love, Your Dad

4 Jul

My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1).  I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm139:2).  I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3).  Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31), for you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27).  In me you live and move and have your being, for you are my offspring (Acts 17:28).  I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5).  I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12).  You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139:15-16).  I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26).  You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).  I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6). 

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me (John 8:41-44).  I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16) and it is my desire to lavish my love on you, simply because you are my child and I am your Father (1 John 3:1).  I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11), for I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48).  Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17), for I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33).  My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11) because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).  My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18) and I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).  I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40), for you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5).  I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 31:41) and I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3).  If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29).  Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), for it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13).  I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20), for I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).  I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18).  As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11). 

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4).  I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (John 17:23), for in Jesus my love for you is revealed (John 17:26).  He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3).  He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31) and to tell you that I am not counting your sins.  Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).  His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10).  I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32).  If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23) and nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39).  Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7).  I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15).  My question is… Will you be my child (John 1:12-13)?  I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).

Love,
Your Dad, Almighty God

Purification

28 Jun

Lord Jesus, I sin. Grant that I may never cease grieving because of it, never be content with myself, never think I can reach a point of perfection. Kill my envy, command my tongue, trample down self. Give me grace to be holy, kind, gentle, pure, peaceable, to live for Thee and not for self, to copy Thy words, acts, spirit, to be transformed into Thy likeness, to be consecrated wholly to Thee, to live entirely to Thy glory.

Deliver me from attachment to things unclean, from wrong associations, from the predominance of evil passions, from the sugar of sin as well as its gap; that with self-loathing, deep contrition, earnest heart searching I may come to Thee, cast myself on Thee, trust in Thee, cry to Thee, be delivered by Thee.

O God, the Eternal All, help me to know that all things are shadows, but Thou art substance, all things are quicksands, but Thou art mountain, all things are shifting, but Thou art anchor, all things are ignorance, but Thou art wisdom.

If my life is to be a crucible amid burning heat, so be it, but do Thou sit at the furnace mouth to watch the ore that nothing be lost. If I sin wilfully, grievously, tormentedly, in grace take away my mourning and give me music; remove my sackcloth and clothe me with beauty; still my sighs and fill my mouth with song, then give me summer weather as a Christian.

From The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Getting Hitched

21 Jun

Lately I have been reading Kevin DeYoung’s book Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will.  The ninth chapter in the book is titled “Work, Wedlock, and God’s Will,” and is one of my favorite chapters.  Really good stuff.  I might post more from the chapter later, but for now, here is what he says to say about “getting hitched”:

It seems that getting married is getting harder to do, or at least harder to commit to.  In 1965, the median age at first marriage was 22.8 for men and 20.6 for women.  By 2002, a little more than a generation later, the median age for marriage rose to 26.9 for men and 25.3 for women.  Delayed marriage occurs for numerous reasons: longer life spans, the drive for more education, transient lifestyles among the young, greater discretionary income, a desire for more experiences before marriage, and greater (and habitual) independence.  Add to these the opportunities to meet hundreds of potential mates, leading to more second-guessing and indecisions.

For Christians there is another delaying factor: searching for the will of God in marriage.  What decision, we think to ourselves, is more important than picking a husband or wife?  Surely, God wants to, in fact must tell me who is the right guy for me.  Such an approach sounds spiritual, but wisdom points us in a different direction…. (That’s the thing about wisdom; it’s less of a detailed road map and more of a way to make decisions in many different situations.)

Step One: Search the Scriptures.  The Bible won’t tell you whom to marry, but it does tell you something about marriage.  Marriage should be between one man and one woman.  Christians should marry Christians (Malachi 2:11; 1 Corinthians 7:39).  We should not be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14).  I wouldn’t advise a very mature believer to marry someone who converted yesterday, nor would I recommend a Protestant marry a Catholic, nor an evangelical wed a more liberal Christian.  Those marriages still work out sometimes, but that’s not the model.  You want to yoke yourself to someone who is going to be plowing in the same direction you are.

Christians should also be circumspect before marrying someone who has been divorced.  If the divorce did not take place on biblical grounds (e.g., sexual immorality [Matthew 19:9] or desertion by an unbelieving spouse [1 Corinthians 7:15]), then Jesus says you are committing adultery because you are marrying someone who should still be married to his or her spouse (Matthew 5:31-32).

Step Two: Get wise counsel.  Do your friends think this marriage makes sense?  Do they see you growing and flourishing when you’re around him, or do they sense that you get moody and frustrated whenever you are together?  Even more importantly, what do your parents think?  It’s true that sometimes parents object to marriages for all the wrong reasons.  But in this country we probably honor our parents less than we should and are too impatient with them and try too little to bring them along and hear them out when they aren’t excited about a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Step Three: Pray.  Ask God for pure motives.  You don’t want to get married for lust or money or for fear of being single.  You certainly don’t want to get married to spite an ex-girlfriend or show an ex-boyfriend that you are desirable after all.  Ask God that He would help you be honest about who you are and that you might know the other person for who she really is.  Ask God for help not to make a decision based on your hormones, and that you won’t refuse to make a decision out of cowardice.

Finally, pray less that God would show you who is the right husband or wife and pray more to be the right kind of husband or wife.  If everyone was praying to be the right spouse, it wouldn’t matter nearly so much who is the “right” spouse.  Dump your list of the seventeen things you need in a wife and make yourself a list of seventeen things you need to be as a husband.

Step Four: Make a decision.  I know this may sound crass, and your parents might not appreciate the advice, but guys, if you like a girl and you’re both Christians and your friends and family aren’t alarmed and she actually likes you back, you should probably get married.  Let me be quick to add that singleness is not a disease in need of a cure.  God can lead you into a time (or lifetime) of fruitful ministry as a single person.  And if you at times feel frustration over an earnest longing to be married, remember this time of being single is part of God’s good plan too.  The church, for her part, needs to do a better job reaching out to singles, not treating them like misfits or as simply married people waiting to happen.

So I want to be clear: There’s nothing wrong with being single.  But gentlemen, there is something wrong with waiting around for God to pluck a woman from your side.  He did it for Adam, but He’s not going to do it for you.  No matter who you marry, it will be hard work.  So find someone to marry and work at it.  You may get cold feet before walking down the aisle—that’s normal.  But don’t overthink yourself into lifelong celibacy.

Too many young guys are waiting for writing in the sky before they make a relational commitment.  It doesn’t have to be that complicated.  My grandpa DeYoung met my grandma on his paper route.  Then they worked at the bowling alley together and started hanging out at the soda fountain.  Eventually my grandpa proposed and they got married in 1948.  When I asked him if he agonized over the decision to get married, he paused for a moment and said, “Uh . . . no.  Was I supposed to?” 

Gentlemen, there are wonderful Christian girls waiting for you to act, well, like a man.  Stop waiting for romantic lightning to strike.  Stop waiting for the umpteenth green light.  Stop “hanging out” every night without ever making your intentions clear.  Go ask a girl on a date, or ask her “to court,” or whatever you think is the appropriate language.  But do something.  If you want to be single, that’s great.  Jesus was single.  I hear it can be a pretty good gig.  But if you want to get married, do something about it.  Take a chance.  Risk rejection.  Be the relational and spiritual leader God has called you to be.

There are always plenty of exceptions, but as a general rule, Christians are waiting too long to get married.  There are too many great Christians out there who should be married to one of the other great Christians out there.  I remember Elisabeth Elliott saying one time that while speaking at a large Christian singles ministry, she desperately wanted to line up all the men on one wall, all the women on the other, count off (1,1; 2,2; 3,3) and pair up those singles, and get them married.

Let me say it one more time: There is nothing wrong with being single.  It can be a gift from the Lord and a gift to the church.  But when there is an overabundance of Christian singles who want to be married, this is a problem.  And it’s a problem I put squarely at the feet of young men whose immaturity, passivity, and indecision are pushing their hormones to the limits of self-control, delaying the growing-up process, and forcing countless numbers of young women to spend lots of time and money pursuing a career (which is not necessarily wrong) when they would rather be getting married and having children.  Men, if you want to be married, find a godly gal, treat her right, talk to her parents, pop the question, tie the knot, and start making babies.

Just Do Something, pg. 104-108

The Devastating Effects of the Fall

20 Jun

A friend of mine commented on my status on Facebook earlier that I “seem to be forlorned a lot lately” … and I realized that it’s true.  (Forlorn: marked by or showing hopelessness; left behind; deserted; miserable, as when lonely or being abandoned.)

It seems like every day I am more and more aware of the devastating effects that the Fall has on all of mankind.  I am becoming more and more aware of how depraved and sinful I really am, of the brokenness of my relationships with others, and just how screwed up humanity is as a whole.  That sounds pretty depressing, I know.  Because it is.  But, I know the hope for the Christian is this: He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).  By wiping away every tear and eliminating death, mourning, and pain, God will reverse the curse that entered the world through human sin.

Also, we have to remember that salvation is the restoration of the entire cosmos, the entire planet, the entire universe—our entire culture and society.  As the ESV Study Bible puts it, “The destruction of the last enemy, death, and the last judgment will finally lead to the renewal of the entire created order, heaven and earth, to be the perfect home in which the Lamb will live forever with his bride, the people whom he has redeemed out of all the nations through his atoning death.”  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Revelation 21:5). 

So, this gives me hope and confidence that one day the effects of the Fall that we all experience in this lifetime will pass away.  To close, here is a video of Derek Webb performing his song, This Too Shall Be Made Right… for one day, everything that has been wrong will be made right.

Irresistibly Beautiful

15 Jun

For some reason, I’ve been in a very contemplative mood lately.  And I think.  A lot.  About a lot of things.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the past few years.  A week or so ago I was talking to a girl on Facebook — a girl who used to be my best friend.  We were best friends our freshman and sophomore year of high school.  We were inseparable.  Always together, and ALWAYS laughing.  As we were talking about all of our old inside jokes, I realized how much I missed those days. 

But, I also began to think… I am not at all the same person I was two and a half years ago — not even close.  Something pretty drastic happened to me at some point between the middle of my junior year and the middle of my senior year… Jesus became irresistibly beautiful to me.  And that changed everything.

Up until that point, I thought I was already a Christian.  I could tell you more about Christianity and its history and different denominations and their beliefs than any other teenager I knew.  I could write essays that shocked college instructors, and handle just about any criticisms that were thrown at me.  But, there was one major problem — I did not understand (or truly believe) the gospel.

It’s odd, looking back now, since Jesus has saved me, at the person I was just two or three years ago, and then looking at who I am today.  There are very few people, maybe one or two, who really knew me back then and who really know me now, but it’s pretty shocking to them how much I have changed.  I guess you’ll have that when God sovereignly claims you as his own.  To quote John Piper, “Nothing in me contributed to the fact that Jesus became irresistibly beautiful to me.”

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