christian

A Boy & His Shepherd (1 Samuel 17/Psalm 23)

The Philistine’s challenge rang across the valley like the drums of war often played before the siege of a city:

“Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us. I defy the ranks of Israel this day.”

The entire valley grew silent at the challenge, which had been offered now for forty days in a row, each day with a similar response from the Israelite camp: nervous mutters from trembling lips, but no champion who would dare fight the giant. They were stationed just opposite the Philistine army, the Valley of Elah lying bare between them as a natural amphitheater that amplified the giant’s voice. He stood nearly ten feet tall – nearly twice the height of most grown men amongst the Israelite rank – and his armor was forged from iron, a durable metal that the Israelites had not yet perfected their use of. He was an intimidating foe, and even Saul, the Israelite king who stood a head taller than any other man in the camp, would not dare fight him. To do so would be certain death. And with the death of the Israelite warrior, the enslavement of the people. And with the enslavement of the people, the end of the nation. They had spent years enslaved in Egypt…they would not be enslaved again.

A Boy & His Shepherd (1 Samuel 17/Psalm 23)

The Object of God's Anger

The following is a reflection on 1 Kings 16:7: “…because of all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”

My soul, do not be mistaken: as surely as “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Ps 103:8), so does He likewise hate sin, and it angers Him when one does what is evil in His sight.

When Jesus walked into that temple-turned-marketplace, He went and made a whip.

When God laid eyes upon the golden calf, He desired to destroy the people of Israel.

And so here we have 5 kings, and 5 times we hear that their actions provoke the Lord to anger (1 Ki 16:2, 7, 13, 26, 33), and 5 times we hear that they did what was evil (v.7, 19, 25 twice, 30). Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab alike all feed the Lord’s anger, living in unrighteousness and dwelling in evil, the tents of darkness.

Oh my soul, how easy it is to look upon these kings and think, “I am better than they. I did not, as Zimri, strike down my master, nor did I, as Ahab, erect an altar to Baal or make an Asherah or take in vile Jezebel as my wife.” But my soul, the issue goes deeper than that: the Lord hates sin! It matters not how much sin there is: whether you have killed a hundred innocent men or unfairly looked upon one man in anger, whether you have 700 wives and 300 concubines or have gazed upon one woman with lustful eyes… the Lord hates your sin. Do not be mistaken, the Lord loves you – and without a doubt the Lord is just and will judge sins according to the measure of their atrocity – but let not His love for you nor His heftier punishments on others more vile than you cause you to be comfortable in your sin, lethargic to its manifesting presence within you, fostering up a hard heart against the ways of the Lord.

The Object of God's Anger

One Does Not Simply Walk into En-Dor

The following is a reflection on 1 Samuel 28.

“But Saul swore to her by the LORD” (1 Sa 28:10).

Here we read of the case wherein Saul, fearing the upcoming battle with the Philistines, disguises himself and crosses into enemy territory in the midst of night to consult with the medium of En-dor, through whom he seeks to access the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel.

A man such as Saul is dangerous. In fact, double-mindedness might be one of the greatest dangers plaguing the modern church today…

One Does Not Simply Walk into En-Dor

The Paradox of Our Faith

The following is a reflection on 1 Samuel 26.

“Who can put out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Sa 26:9)

Think about this question, posed by David in response to his second opportunity at taking Saul’s life. His point is obvious: Regardless of who is in the right and who is in the wrong, to act against the Lord’s anointed is to seemingly disregard the will of the Lord. To act against the Lord’s anointed is to act against the Lord Himself.

And yet this is precisely what we did when we impaled the Son of Man!

The Paradox of Our Faith

The Exceeding Worth of God

Oh, the worth of God.

When I woke up early this morning to do my daily Bible reading, I felt the conviction to approach it differently than I usually do. I pulled out my journal and penned a short little prayer:

O God, You are my God. Early will I seek Thee. Earnestly will I seek Thee. As I meditate upon Your Word this morning, O Love of my soul, let me not approach it through the lens of mental stimulation, principle formation, dignity elevation, nor secure foundation. Neither let me approach it as a means of achieving knowledge of promise, calling to office, counters to the doubting Thomas, nor seeking power dishonest. No! I read not this book, O Lord, to stimulate my mind or discover principles or make my life successful or discover blessed promises or provide myself with a sense of safety or to defend it against the heathen or to receive sermons to preach or because it is my job or because I seek some mystical power. No; I read Your Word that I might know You more. I meditate upon it all the day because I search for the Man who wrote it. Meet me here this day, O God, and let my searching not be in vain. If You provide those other things, all the better, but this alone do I seek: Do not let me lose focus on You! Help me read it as You would read it; reveal to me that which lifts Your name highest. May each word be a conviction to my very soul. Meet me here, O God. I pine for Thee.

Then I began to read…

The Exceeding Worth of God

Zeal For Your House

(On the subject of righteous anger.)

How is a Christian supposed to respond to injustice in the world? In the presence of sinful society and oppressed peoples, how is the Christian supposed to handle himself? Shall we unleash the tongue as did Elijah and John the Baptizer, suffer the scourge as did Christ and Paul, wield the sword as did Joshua and David? Of prophets and priests and kings, by what manner shall we act? When is the appropriate time to overturn tables and fashion a whip of cords?

In this write-up on the matter, I do not [expressly] seek to push a single point of view, but rather to provide more of a systematic study on the subject of anger as it is found in the biblical text.

Zeal For Your House

On a Trip Fully Paid

In one of my classes this morning – amidst talk of morality and revenge and Nietzsche’s [frankly odd] views of justice and punishment – we arrived at the happy tangent of the Gospel promise and what it meant for the Christian life, especially as it pertains to the factor of human choice coupled by divine sovereignty.

“imagine you have been offered the chance at a luxurious trip by which you can skip school without punishment, and that trip is fully paid,” said one student, or something along those lines. “That is the Gospel.”

“If it’s been fully paid, why would you not accept the offer?” asked another.

Precisely, thought many people throughout the room. A few said it out loud.

“But if you get on the plane and go on the trip, what prevents you from doing bad things?” asked another, this in response to the matter we had been discussing, that idea of a true Christian not continuing on in an abundantly sinful life. “What motive do they have to do the will of the one who paid the price? The metaphorical salvation has already been grasped, so why do good things at all?” From this broke out discourse over definitions of mercy and grace and sin, and in no time we had wandered so deeply into the weeds that every Calvinist and Arminian in the room was getting sweaty at their palms.

Then Nietzsche came calling once again, and our tangent came to an abrupt end. Back to what we were actually supposed to be studying.

But this thought stuck with me throughout the day…

On a Trip Fully Paid

The Fruit of Grace (Reflections on Genesis 41)

Hey everyone. Here's another reflection for today:
GENESIS 41. Leku el Yosep, aser yonan lakem ta’asu. “Go to Joseph. What he says to you, do” (v.55). This calls to mind the first miracle of Christ, when His mother Mary said to the servants at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).
Both stories provide an evident shift in power—Joseph, the prisoner, has now become a czar, and Jesus, the perfect son, now addresses His own mother as “Woman” (v.4), signifying that His ministry has begun and they now share a different relationship.

The Fruit of Grace (Reflections on Genesis 41)

How Many?

Billions of people, all going in different directions to their own destinations.

I look at them.

Some smile at the sight of someone looking their way; others look away as quickly as they can.

Some wear baggy clothes to cover insecure bodies; others wear tight clothes to accentuate the same.

I can see it in their eyes.

How Many?

Why Are We Surprised?

"Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools."

That phrase was written in Greek to a church in Italy by a Jewish tentmaker nearly 2,000 years ago, but perhaps it applies even more so to modern-day America.

A few days ago, YouTuber Logan Paul gave rise to massive controversy when he posted a video containing footage of a hanging dead man, which they found while filming a vlog in the Japanese suicide forest. The internet erupted in hatred and started slamming the 22-year old left and right, with politicians and celebrities alike condemning him for displaying “sociopathic qualities” and failing to “honor those who have committed suicide.” Within two days, Paul issued a public apology in which he admitted that his actions were wrong and went on to set aside “time to reflect” on his actions, yet people continue to blast him, continue to defame him, continue to tear him to shreds. Angsty internet users tell him to kill himself. A recent petition asking YouTube to terminate his account has reached over 200,000 signatures.

My question is this: Why?

Why Are We Surprised?

Here & Now

In my own humble opinion, one of the most enticing and yet aggravating concepts of all Scripture is that of Eden.

What must it have been like to walk with God in the garden? For Adam specifically, what must it have been like to be alone with your Creator for days, weeks, months, perhaps even years on end, walking and talking and laughing and working? We do not know how long Adam was in the garden before Eve was introduced, but if he successfully named each animal before recognizing there was no suitable companion for himself, it surely must have been some time. What was it like to spend such an extended period of uninterrupted intimacy with the Lord, to wake up every morning with knowledge of His presence and go to sleep each night knowing that He would be there to meet with you next day?

What was it like to be free from the burden of sin? What was it like to walk openly amongst the plants and animals, naked and unashamed? What was it like to see things in their true beauty, untainted by man’s fallen blindness? What was is it like to taste the fruit from un-cursed ground, to drink from streams purified beyond any form of natural purification? What was it like to see animals in harmony with one another – no death, no disruption, but just peace? What was it like to dream? Were dreams mere reflections of the reality around you, or was every dream a nightmare when compared to the magnificent world in which you lived?

Here & Now

2 Percenter...& Proud?

I love Texas A&M.

I really do. I’ll admit that when I made my first college visit to the sprawling campus my junior year of high school I wasn’t the biggest fan (I didn’t grow up in an Aggie family, so I didn’t have the prior bias), but each and every day I’ve been here, the place has grown on me. I flash my thumb, I sing my “Howdy,” I shout my “Whoop!” I now love the campus, I love the atmosphere, and I love the people.

I even like the football too.

The thing is, I’m not one of those Aggies. You know what I’m talking about, one of those towel-wavin’, yell-shoutin’, ring-dunkin’, maroon-wearin’, horse-laughin’, hardcore Aggie elites clad in nothing but maroon and white day and night, caring so much for all things Aggieland that if there was a course offered called Aggie Traditions, they would come out with a 12.0 GPA. Here at A&M we call those people “Red A**” (I censor this because sadly we are not talking in terms of donkeys), and I’m simply not one of those. I am what people at A&M would call a “2 Perecenter,” which the Wikipedia page for Aggie Terms (yes, that’s a thing) defines as “Aggies who choose not to participate in Texas A&M traditions.” This isn’t to say that I despise all the Aggie traditions or that I hate the school (which I’ve already clarified), but simply that I came to the school purely because it was a good school to go to, and for some reason have never been able to truly grasp the whole Aggie tradition thing.

2 Percenter...& Proud?

With Great Power...

“The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Isn’t it interesting how the first sin is shortly followed by the first excuse? God sees Adam, Adam sees God, God asks Adam what’s going on, Adam says he’s ashamed because he’s naked, God points out that Adam isn’t supposed to know that he’s naked and the only way for him to know that was if he had eaten from the tree he wasn’t supposed to eat from, and then Adam blames Eve, and if that wasn’t good enough, he blames God too. “Well, you see, God, ultimately this is your fault. Things were fine until the woman came along, and didn’t you make her?” Adam is trying to deflect responsibility off of himself at all costs.

But God plays along. He turns to Eve, who proceeds to blame the serpent, which you can imagine ticks Adam off a bit, since it makes a lot more sense to blame the devil for your sin than it does to blame a holy and perfect God. Nevertheless, God continues to play along, and He turns to the serpent, who knows better than to provide an excuse. God reveals that it was in fact all three of them that were to blame, and their shared sin will affect not only them, but the entire world.

How often do we do the same thing as Adam and Eve?

With Great Power...

Stop. Surrendering. All.

Imagine a husband who stands before his wife, grabs her by the hand, looks into her eyes, and says, “I love you.”

The next day, he cheats on her with another woman.

Now imagine another scenario: A second husband stands before his wife, grabs her by the hand, looks into her eyes, and says, “I love you.”

Just a few hours later, he cheats on her with another woman.

Imagine one more scenario with me: A third husband stands before his wife, grabs her by the hand, looks into her eyes, and says, “I love you.”

Only a few minutes later, he slides into his car to drive over to spend time with his mistress.

My question to you is this: What do these three men in common?

Stop. Surrendering. All.

Why You Should Stop Inviting Jesus Into Your Heart

Church, we’ve got a huge problem, and it has to do with our Gospel.

Maybe I should show you where I would like to place the emphasis here. You see, the problem doesn’t have do with our Gospel, but it has to do with our Gospel. We are the problem, not the Gospel itself, and this is what I mean: the way in which we present the Good News of Christ to every single lost soul we encounter on a day-to-day basis is flawed, rooted in something extremely unbiblical. The Gospel itself is something so beautiful and unique that only a church run by imperfect sinners could screw it up, but the sad thing is that, I hate to break it to you, but we are a group of imperfect sinners, and it’s negatively affected this group of people we call our Church.

We’ve screwed up the Gospel.

Why You Should Stop Inviting Jesus Into Your Heart