Sunday, February 20, 2005

One Greater Than...

In Matthew 12, Jesus is greater than the temple (v6), greater than Jonah (v41), and greater than Solomon (v42). The temple was the center of worship for the Jewish people, and the place where the manifest presence of God dwelt. It where the Jews and even the Gentiles were to look in order to meet with God. For a first century Jew, the temple was the center of worship, and as closely tied to Yahweh as anything could be without it being idolatrous. Then the Teacher, Jesus comes along and says to a bunch of harassing Pharisees, “Something greater than the temple is here.” While they were still reeling from this blasphemous blow He hits them with another, “For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” This is no way to make friends or calm tension. I guess Jesus is showing His disciples what He meant earlier when He said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34). He goes on to point forward to His resurrection by saying what happened to Jonah is nothing compared to the miracle that will take place in Him. And He finishes by saying the wisdom of Solomon was just a shadow, just a whisper of Him, our true Wisdom and Righteousness.

The Pharisees came at Him and tried to get Him on the defensive. But the Lord Jesus Christ is never on defense. He turned the table on them quickly and started talking about THEIR judgment and that it relates to how they respond to Him. These questioners of God seemed to be great supporters of the Law (Sabbath keeping), and of the Prophets (Jonah), and of the Writings (Solomon). But when the ONE to whom all those things pointed stood right before them they plotted how to kill Him (12:14). All of their religious trappings and posturing were a lie! They would not humble themselves before the Lord, they would not submit to the King. The Pharisees, His disciples, I, have to come face to face with this. Jesus is not something I can probe, put on trial, and mold into my preconceived religious notions. He is Lord. He is King. He is God. May I recognize Him and worship Him for who He is. May I not just be a supporter of religious trappings, but a worshiper of the Lord.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Oddly Encouraging

Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” - Jesus has just assured His disciples that persecution will come. In the rest of chapter 10 He tells them they will be flogged, thrown in jail, and family will kill family, they will have to flee from town to town. It is astonishing to realize that this is the charge He gave them before He sent the 12 out for the first time. I don’t hear many motivational speeches like this. Can you imgagine... "Alright team, this project ahead of you is going to be awful. You will be beaten, hated by family, won't be able to settle down, and there is a good chance of a violent death. Okay, go out there and get em." And then here in verse 28 He “encourages” them by saying not to be afraid of those who can kill the body. Jesus doesn’t say, I will be with you and make sure the persecution doesn't get out of hand. He acknowledges that they may be killed. But they shouldn’t be afraid of that he says. Their primary concern should not be preserving their own life, instead it should be staying faithful to Christ and proclaiming His truth boldly. In verses 32-33 Jesus tells them that whoever acknowledge Him before men, Jesus will stand with them before the Father. But if we deny Him, He will deny us before the Father. That should be what we are truly afraid of. So when the gun is pointed at my head, or the prison sentence stares me in the face, or when people I respect may find me weird or uncomfortable, I should not be afraid of that. Instead, I should fear denying my Lord, and having to stand before the judgment seat of Almighty God without Christ as my advocate. This section is summed up by Matthew 10:22, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” May we become a people who desire to be with Christ, more than the approval of man. Lord, please help us to endure.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Enemies #2-5 of Christ-exalting marriage

Well, I still haven't gotten to enemy #2 yet. Bummer. My time has mostly been occupied with school, spending time with Stephanie, trying to complete tax forms for the federal government as well as 3 states, with a combination of 10 W-2 forms. I am all for a simplified tax code at this point. Oh, and I also got a new second job. So I am on leave from being a server at Cracker Barrel and hopefully won't have to go back:) Serving is a hard job folks. Tip well!!

I'm not sure when I'll get a full explanation of the next 4 enemies of marriage... I have a ton of reading and schoolwork on my plate and a baby on the way... but I have the basic outlines for the 4 other enemies of Christ-exalting marriage in my head. Until I get to them in fullness, I have put a brief summary of them below. Please read them and post any comments, insights, ideas, or objections you may have. I am just a young sinner who has completed one year of marriage and is imperfectly but passionately trying figure out how to have a God-glorifying marriage.

enemy #
2. The anti-children atmosphere found in the west, and even in many churches. (Its there, trust me. While Mormons and Muslims are strategically having big families in order to evangelize the world... evangelicals look at big families as weird and can't seem to find enough people to work in the nursery. Listen to what God says in Psalm 127:3-5 "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Do you believe that? My heart is full on this subject, but for now i will just say this: I believe the greatest impact I will have on the world for the Kingdom is through my children and my children's children, and so on. I truly believe that Satan has dupped many believer's into a less than Christian view of children and family. I'd better stop on this one, or i won't get to the last 3, and more importantly won't get to bed.

3. Religiousness (by this I mean going through the formal motions, without a vibrant passionate puruit of Christ in the home. This will rob much glory from God as well as do great damage to the faith of any children you my be blessed to have.)

4. TV (The goal of a Christian home should be this: that the word of God would dominate and saturate everything in it. But sadly, the family altar (if you don't know what that is, you prove my point) has been replaced by the TV in most Christian homes. Secondly, Christ exalting marriage mirrors the fellowship found in the Trinity, and between Christ and the church. But when TV dominates, communication and true fellowship are replaced by hours of staring in the same direction. Thirdly, one of the primary tasks of Christian marriages is to disciple children and to teach them to follow God. When TV dominates the home, this task is made difficult and often neglected all together.

5. Lack of Forgivness (In a marriage, there are two fallen, sinful people living under the same roof. Therefore, there are going to be countless little and sometimes big sins committed against each other; a short word, a sarcastic sigh, a lack of communication, losing of tempers, and the list could go on endlessly. But here is the point: every time a person sins against their mate, or just falls short of expectations, that is an opportunity for the husband or wife to demonstrate the grace of God. What a wonderful thing it is to be able to extend mercy, grace, and unconditional love toward the person you love most in the world. God uses this to make us more like Christ and to demonstrate what He is like to the world. So how horrible it is when a marriage is characterized by a cold war of bitter silence, or angry screaming and unforgiving spirits. It is so easy to hold a grudge, especially against the person we know will never leave us. But let us remember what is at stake; your reaction to your mate's next offense could show all those around (inclding your mate, and the principalities and powers in the heavenly places) what God's grace is like, or it could demonstrate that you haven't fully grasped the forgivness of God.

So to put it all positively, a Christ exalting marriage is one that is on mission in the world, primarily through raising and discipling children. This is to be done by parents who are passionately seeking Jesus Christ together, in an atmosphere saturated by the word of God and gracious forgiveness. Of course that is just some of the things a marriage should be. But if Stephanie and I could have that, I would die a happy man:)