Category Archives: The Gospel

I Love Minneapolis

Lately I’ve found a new love, Minneapolis. :) When visiting, especially for the Desiring God conferences, I just love it. Walking the streets, seeing all the variety of people, and the vibe of downtown is awesome. You get the good things about big cities, without it being a HUGE city. Maybe it’s because I live in a small uncultured town with no street musicians… or maybe it’s just because they are about ten degrees warmer than us…

Unexpected Art

Strange almost abstract tree

I have a love for old buildings and architectural features.

Downtown Minneapolis

This is the strange Presbyterian church with nude statues… it’s sort of weird, but a beautiful building non the less.

Church

This is the book store of my dreams!!!! They had books stacked from floor to ceiling… I want this store as my own personal library someday… yes, I want a library just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. :)

Bookstore

And it’s very photogenic and a photographer’s dream.

Birds wall art

But beyond just the good points, Minneapolis is a city in need of the gospel. They have a lot of gangs, prostitutes, homeless, troubled, human trafficking, and crime. They also have the rich and well to do who give no thought to the other group of people. It’s a diverse city in many ways and truly needs to see the power of Christ’s blood transform it. But I suppose that’s another reason I love it.

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Hope For the Prostitute – Introduction

The American church is often plagued by a horrible disease. It’s a disease that effects how we look at others and how we minister to them. It’s a disease that causes our ministry and personal spiritual lives to suffer. It’s a disease that is deadly and it’s effects have already been seen. What’s this disease? It’s as simple as pride, which leads to self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.
These have all plagued humanity since the fall, but I want to address how it’s present and effecting our current time and culture. In so many Christians, including myself, there is often a focus on how naughty “those people” are. “Those people” that are outside the church and doing “really bad things” that are not usually found inside the church. Those “huge” sins like drug addictions, homosexuality, murder, theft, sexual abuse, and prostitutes.
Now prostitution is never even mentioned in our churches. In almost fourteen years of growing up in a church I’ve never heard it mentioned once. It’s one of those “outside” things that is dirty and we don’t like to touch us. It’s something we may fight against in the form of not wanting strip clubs and such in our neighborhoods, but that’s just about it. We often see prostitution as something “out there” when it’s actually in our neighborhoods and communities, it’s even in the Bible belt! (I have an interesting story about that…)
So how does this go back to the things like pride and self-righteousness?  A prostitute’s sin is blatant and easy to see and recognize, for a self-righteous person, they don’t even think that anything is wrong. It’s so easy to forget that if it wasn’t for the grace of God we would be worse then they.
My main goal for this series is to focus on reaching those we term the lowest of the low with the gospel. But before we do that we need to lay down our pride, self-righteousness, and judgmental attitudes. Now the reason I’m focusing on prostitutes is because it’s something that has been laid so heavily on my heart. God has caused my heart to ache for the women enslaved to sexual sin and selling their bodies. It’s also an ignored subject in the church and as I’ve been studying it, I’ve found that it is often misunderstood, especially by the young people in the church.
The biggest goal for this series is ultimately that God is glorified and the gospel is preached. These men and women need the gospel so badly, just like we do! I was to encourage you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone but especially in our sex driven culture with it’s perversion and sin. From the pregnant teen sitting in our pews to the prostitute on the streets of Las Vegas, it’s our job to proclaim the gospel to them and to love them. That’s why I believe that this is a topic worthy of my time and energy.

{Finally I’m posting the first part to my series entitled Hope For the Prostitute. Big thanks to my friend Josh for being my super duper editor man. Note: I hope to aproach this topic in a way that is clean, pure, and holy while not denying the ugliness, evilness, and sinfulness that surrounds it. In no way will I disguise the truth or try to paint it as a prettier picture but I will not be blunt for the sake of being blunt. Thank you all for your time and (maybe) attention.}

The American church is often plagued by a horrible disease. It’s a disease that effects how we look at others and how we minister to them. It’s a disease that causes our ministry and personal spiritual lives to suffer. It’s a disease that is deadly and it’s effects have already been seen. What’s this disease? It’s as simple as pride, which leads to self-righteousness and judgmental attitude toward others.

These have all plagued humanity since the fall, but I want to address how it’s present and effecting our current time and culture. In so many Christians, including myself, there is often a focus on how naughty “those people” are. “Those people” that are outside the church and doing “really bad things” that are not usually found inside the church. Those “huge” sins like drug addictions, homosexuality, murder, theft, sexual abuse, and prostitution.

Now prostitution is never even mentioned in our churches. In almost fourteen years of growing up in a church I’ve never heard it mentioned once. It’s one of those “outside” things that is dirty and we don’t like to touch us. It’s something we may fight against in the form of not wanting strip clubs and such in our neighborhoods, but that’s just about it. We often see prostitution as something “out there” when it’s actually in our neighborhoods and communities, it’s even in the Bible belt! (I have an interesting story about that…)

So how does this go back to the things like pride and self-righteousness?  A prostitute’s sin is blatant and easy to see and recognize, for a self-righteous person, they don’t even think that anything is wrong. It’s so easy to forget that if it wasn’t for the grace of God we would be worse then they.

My main goal for this series is to focus on reaching those we term the lowest of the low with the gospel. But before we do that we need to lay down our pride, self-righteousness, and judgmental attitudes. Now the reason I’m focusing on prostitutes is because it’s something that has been laid so heavily on my heart. God has caused my heart to ache for the women enslaved to sexual sin and selling their bodies. It’s also an ignored subject in the church and as I’ve been studying it, I’ve found that it is often misunderstood, especially by the young people in the church.

The biggest goal for this series is ultimately that God is glorified and the gospel is preached. These men and women need the gospel so badly, just like we do! I want to encourage you to be the hands and feet of Jesus to everyone but especially in our sex driven culture with it’s perversion and sin. From the pregnant teen sitting in our pews to the prostitute on the streets of Las Vegas, it’s our job to proclaim the gospel to them and to love them. That’s why I believe that this is a topic worthy of my time and energy.

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Filed under Christianity, Faith, Hope for the Prostitute, The Gospel

The Paradox of Freedom

monthlymondaypoetrysmaller-1

The Paradox of Freedom

Surrounded by a sea of people celebrating liberty

Little could they see that they are bound in slavery.

In the light of the day

The darkness was still their way.

Decked in red, white, and blue

Holding their favorite brew,

They are enslaved

Not knowing that they need to be saved.

Their bodies are unshackled

Their souls are chained.

Yet they don’t understand.

In the land of the brave and the free

So many are living in captivity.

Those of us who have been released,

Will we stay silent while our brothers decease?

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Filed under Christianity, Everyday Life, Holidays, Monthly Monday Poetry, Slavery, The Gospel

Death is Not Dying

Our life is fragile and easily blown away. But death is not dying.

Today I finally sat down to watch the video of Rachel Barkey speaking to a group of women about the terminal cancer that fills her body and the faith in God that fills her soul. It’s a beautiful address that everyone should hear. It’s just under an hour long but it’s well worth the time out of your day. She is a beautiful inspiration and I believe that through her upcoming death God will work wonders and be glorified. I can not wait to meet her in heaven some day and while it is so sad that she is only 37 and leaving behind a husband, two young children, and other family and friends, she will be in heaven and God will use her life and death for His good and glorious purposes. Now go and watch the video and let her words speak for themselves!

(Picture courtesy Keara Jaelyn.)

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“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

 Today, Good Friday, I have had a lot of different songs running through my head. Songs reflecting that wonderful cross where blood was shed and my soul was saved. Songs like “In Christ Alone”, “How Beautiful the Blood”, “Above All”, “Glories of Calvary”, “The Wonderful Cross”, and especially “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us”. The songs fits perfectly as we meditate on the amazing grace of Jesus and all He has done for us.

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son

And make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain
of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulder
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts
, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

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Our Sins on His Shoulders

Surely he has borne our griefs

   and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
   we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
   the iniquity of us all.”

 Isaiah 53 is one of my all time favorite chapter in the entire Bible. This vibrant phrophesy about the coming Massiah who will taken on the wrath of God and the sin of the world in order to reconsile men to Christ is beautiful. I could read this chapter a million times, over and over again. I especially love the verses I mentioned above, they show how Jesus took on our sins. To think that Jesus, who was perfect and holy, took on all our aweful wrong doings is so horendeous and it’s beyond our understanding. Yesterday I found a brilliant fiction article published by Next (formerly known as New Attitude) Webzine on Jesus’ death and His taking on of our sins. You can read the whole thing here but this is my favorite part: 

“The Father speaks: “Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn on my great glory? You are self-sufficient and self-righteous—consumed with yourself and puffed up and selfishly ambitious. You rob me of my glory and worship what’s inside of you instead of looking out to the One who created you. You are a greedy, lazy, gluttonous slanderer and gossip. You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer. You practice sexual immorality; you make pornography, and fill you mind with vulgarity. You exchange my truth for a lie and worship the creature instead of the Creator. And so you are given up to your homosexual passions, dressing immodestly, and lusting after what is forbidden. With all your heart you love perverse pleasure. You hate your brother and murder him with the bullets of anger fired from your own heart. You kill babies for your convenience. You oppress the poor and deal slaves and ignore the needy. You persecute my people. You love money and prestige and honor. You put on a cloak of outward piety, but inside you are filled with dead men’s bones—you hypocrite! You are lukewarm and easily enticed by the world. You covet and can’t have so you murder.  You are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness. You blame others for your sin and are too proud to even call it sin. You are never slow to speak. And you have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment. Your words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt and obscene talk. You are a false prophet leading people astray. You mock your parents. You have no self-control. You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions. You’re a drunkard and a thief. You’re an anxious coward. You do not trust me. You blaspheme against me. You are an unsubmissive wife. And you are a lazy, disengage husband. You file for divorce and crush the parable of my love for the church. You’re a pimp and a drug dealer. You practice divination and worship demons. The list of your sins goes on and on and on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with  disgust, and indignation for your sin consumes me. Now, drink my cup! “

 Isn’t it sobering that Jesus, who knew no sin, became our sin in order to make a sacrifice for our sins?! This is the Jesus that deserves our praise, honor, glory, love, devotion, servitude, and adoration forever!  So amazing this is! We all are guilty of many of those things listed, yet God no longer looks at us and sees these sins because Jesus came and took these sins from our shoulders and onto His. What wondrous news is that! We have such a great and wonderful God that would come down in flesh and bare our sins!

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Alas! How My Savior Did Bleed!

 I was sitting down to have a snack and my mom was watching TV and we found a show on the History Channel about Crucifixion. The horrors of crucifixion are gut wrenching and horrid and to think that this was how my precious Jesus died, and He died for me! It was my sins that held Him there and my sins that brought Him to His death. I deserved that cross. I deserved that death. But Jesus took it for me. He bled on that cross so that I could have life, so that I could live, so that I could be forgiven. What wondrous love that is!!! Amazing! When thinking of this, a hymn popped into my head, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”. Here are the beautiful lyrics to it:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I?
[originally, For such a worm as I?]

Refrain:

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While His dear cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt my eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

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Justice and Love

“If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and Die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.” John Piper – Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die (p. 20)

 We can not wrap our minds around God’s complete and awesome holiness. It is beyond all human knowledge and is infinitely great. To think that someone could of never done anything wrong, never had even thought a wrong thought is too much for our frail minds. Because of God’s amazing holiness, God is also a God of justice. When we do things that are contrary to God’s holiness (sin) it’s treason and because of how big and great God is we deserve to die. The issue isn’t that a sin is “small”, it’s that the one whom we commit the sin against is so huge. The slightest bad thought earns us a place on death row.

 Yet God is more than only just. He is also a God of mercy and love. He desires that we have life instead of the death we deserve and to be in an intimate relationship with Him. He desires that we glorify Him like He created us to do. He is filled with steadfast love for us. The extent of God’s love is also far beyond human logic and knowledge.

 Though God loves us and desires us greatly, because of His justice He can’t just ignore our sins. To do that would be against His holy and perfect nature. So God sent His son, whom He loved and was a perfect spotless lamb, to take all the wrath of God that we deserve. Jesus was God-man, the only human to not sin a single time. He was the only man to walk the earth that was good enough to be a worthy sacrifice for our sins.

 So God poured out all His wrath, that which should of been ours, onto Jesus. Jesus willingly drank the cup of God wrath and died so that we could have life. What marvelous love that God has for us! What wonderful sacrifice Jesus did by taking on God’s wrath!

“Surely he has borne our griefs
   and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
   smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
   he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
   and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4,5

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Filed under Christianity, Easter Series, Faith, Holidays, Jesus, Justice, The Gospel, Uncategorized

Easter Series (Introduction)

Easter Lily   Easter is right around the corner. The day that has been hidden by candy and fluffy bunnies still manages to shine through all of that to show the Truth, the Way, and the Light. It’s so easy to forget the reason behind the best day in history by the show that the world puts on to try to distract us. We are all busy with Easter plans, services, activities and such going on that we forget to take a deep breath, slow down, and meditate on the glory of this day where we celebrate the gospel, our salvation, and all that Christ has done for us.

 Easter was when Jesus conquered death and sin. Easter was when the whole world was turned upside down. Easter is when the most miraculous event in history happened, Jesus rose from the dead. Easter was when God saved us. There has been no better day since the dawn of time than Easter.

 This year I’m going to do a series of blog posts for the purpose of preparing my own heart and also help you as well. I’m also going to try to read Fifty Reasons Jesus Came to Die (also known as The Passion of Jesus Christ) by John Piper in the next two weeks so I’m sure a lot of my posts will be influenced by this book (not to mention quotes galore!). I hope you all enjoy this series and the Lord will work through them to help your hearts be ready for Easter. God bless!

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The Greatest Power For Change

 I live in a tough area of the country. Drugs and alcohol abuse run strong and there are as many bars as churches, if not more. It’s the most unchurched county in the state. Teen alcoholism, STDs, and pregnancies run high. There are children as young as four roaming the streets in the town. A few years ago a girl like that was kidnapped and hasn’t been found. It’s a hard place here.

 Yet God has been changing my heart towards it… while I used to have a bitterness and an attitude of scoffing towards the depraved culture, now God has been showing me that this is a place in desperate need of the gospel. No amount of abstinence speakers, police enforcement, parental guidance, or anything else can change this group of small towns that makes up the area I live in. Only the power that can bring about change is the gospel. It’s Jesus’ blood and redemption through His grace.

 We are Christ’s ambassadors. We have the light of the world inside of us and it’s our job to let that light shine. In James is says that whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, he is sinning. We keep the good news of the gospel locked up inside of our hearts, letting it out a little at church or on a missions trip. But if that’s so, do we really value the gospel? The gospel is the power of God, our salvation, hope, water for the thirsty, strength. Do we truly value the gospel if we don’t share it?

 One of my favorite stories about a man who truly valued the gospel was pastor John Harper. He was so in love with the gospel that he jumped into that ice cold water from the ship Titanic so that he would share the gospel to the dying souls drowning in the water. He cherished and prized the gospel enough to tell everyone he could instead of only worrying about his own life and wellbeing. That is how we should be.

 We should be madly in love, infatuated, captivated, enraptured, obsessed, and head over heals for the gospel that we should have a passion to see others find that love too. I know full well how hard it is to break down our pride, to be willing to make things socially awkward, risk friendships, or our reputations to share the good news of forgiveness and life in Christ. I’m still learning how to do it and do not do a good job of sharing the gospel yet. But I pray that God will work in my heart to make His truth so treasured in my heart that I can’t not share it.

 It’s so easy to just hate the sinful culture instead of changing it. Though we are to hate sin, we are to love sinners with a pure heart, one that desires to see sinners lead to repentance and regeneration and ultimately to God. We can’t do the saving on our own, we aren’t even the one that does any of the saving. We are simply the preachers of the good news, the rest is God’s job, not ours.

“Wake Up” Leeland

The nation lost and dying
Searching for You
Creation waits
Children with the word of God
Written on their hearts
Show love to the world

We need to wake up, wake up
Live like God
Pour out love
We need to wake up, wake up
Live like God
Pour out love

I know it’s sad
That the gift we have
We keep it for ourselves
Most of the time
The world is looking
For a love that’s locked up
Inside these four walls
Break the door down and shine

Our face is set
Our goal is heaven
Jesus, You are the well of love
We’ll pour You out
We’ll pour You out

(Note: My dad has some excellent posts on evangelism and the gospel on his new blog Gospel2Live. Go check it out!)

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