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Life In Death

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. – Jesus

Learning and growing I think a lot the past few weeks and months in general. Men’s training day came at exactly the right time and I’m so thankful for the trajectory that it is setting for the life God has planned for me, my family, the church, and the city. It’s going to be tough from here on out, but the hope of progress and life is secure in Jesus. A lot of repentance, work, and change will be needed, but all of it will be empowered by the Holy Spirit. I’m stoked that we’re going to be going through Acts after Ephesians. I’m so glad that I’m going to learn how to yield to the Spirit’s leading in life after realizing and working out of my identity in Christ. It’s been absolutely life changing and Jesus has been amazingly loving, powerful, and able to save me from sin and death and grow me in this new life. It’s great!

Notes:

  • Worshiping Jesus as men means that our deepest loyalty is to Him above all others – even death to your own self so that you may find true life in Him and no one else
  • Super encouraged that I’m seeing the Spirit work in me to change me, help me to repent, and a community to point me back to Jesus all the time
  • Excited because I’m seeing hope in redemption for many practical things in life too – relationships, work & career, ministry, etc. Abiding in Jesus is the most important thing – the fruit will come – He promises that!
  • I love the men and women that God has placed and raised up in our church. Their investment is eternity shaping and I’m amazed at what God is doing in people’s lives here.
  • Wartime is real, it’s time to resume the fight.
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Growing

Recently, things have been stirring and I think fruit is beginning to sprout. Sprout? Come out – whatever.

It’s been good. Things have gotten harder in life and at work, but Jesus has been amazingly faithful to show me, grow me, rebuke me, and love me through it all. He’s showing me more what it means to follow him daily at work, at home, and when no one else is watching except Him. 

He’s surrounded me with great community that points me back to him. He’s giving me and my family relational grace to be able to grow together and love each other more. He’s giving me practical wisdom on not only how to think about my career, but in such a way that it does not compartmentalize my life. Instead, he’s showing me that a few things are key – Him, the gospel, and people. Whatever serves that purpose and whatever I can utilize effectively to serve Him – let’s go with that. 

He’s also sanctifying me! For the first time in a long time, I’m putting sin to death consistently by the His power and I’m so happy that I am not a slave to my sin any longer! There is freedom from sin and a life of righteousness from him that I can not inherently produce. It’s been such a joy to receive that and experience that! Even as I am thinking through all of this, my affection and love for Jesus is growing as I see how much he loves me in spite of who I am. 

In short, Jesus is awesome and I’m joyful, thankful, overwhelmed, and happy that he loves me and is redeeming my life.

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Awakened. Air in Lungs. Let’s Get It.

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But all fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God. 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbgp3wG40YE

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Is it possible? With God, all things are possible.

To hate sin and love the sinner? 

Yes. Absolutely.

Does that mean the consequences of that may vary from slight to extremely severe?

Yes. Probably.

I’m going to be honest about a few things. 

  1. I’m not entirely sure about where I stand with the gay marriage legislation debate going on.
  2. I know it is my privilege and desire to want to get to know people in the homosexual/gay community and understand where they are coming from, understand the struggles they are going through, and the inhumane ways in which they have been treated by people. 
  3. I do believe that God is the greatest authority above all men – straight, gay, transgender, bisexual, etc. So whatever Jesus says is true – I’d trust him and not myself or other people. I know that for a fact because Jesus is God! Jesus was killed for telling the truth and so I expect hostility when I side with Jesus and say that all men are sinful – gay or straight and that we all need salvation from our sins. I personally, as a single man in Christ, am putting to death my enslavement to pornography and sexual sin. Though it is natural for me, though it is pleasurable to me, though it is legal, and though many men do it in our world, God has shown me that He is real and is showing me how my sin, not just sexual, but as a whole, separates me from Him and others and deserves wrath because He is holy and just. However, in his love, Jesus came to pay that penalty for my sin and accomplishing salvation on my behalf. That grace is extended to single men that are stuck in sexual sin, as well as gay men and women. So let’s not make distinctions about who is a greater sinner. Scripture calls us to examine ourselves and our sin before we even venture to point out others’ sins and rightly so. It allows you to deal with your sin first with Jesus and then working through that, you are able to minister, love, sympathize, and walk with those who are also in sin (though different sins may have different implications practically for life). 
  4. I do see that there are many factors that play into why homosexual marriage is getting a lot of a attention and in some sense rightfully so. I would agree with the gay community that abuse, neglect, and assault on anyone, including gays, is not right nor God honoring. However, I would also agree with those that do believe that marriage is intended for men and women and that gay marriage is also not God honoring in a similar way that married men are not loving their wives well, not leading their homes well, and single men being tragically enslaved to pornography. Though gay marriage is gaining greater acceptance and there are many convincing reasons for it (i.e. normal kids growing up, marriage benefits, social equality etc.), my concern is not simply about what will happen in the lifetime of our culture, but what is to come before God in judgement and the most important relationship that anyone could ever have and that is with Jesus. In some sense, I have less concern about what will happen with legislation than I do about the lives of my fellow men – whether gay or straight. We all need Jesus whether or not we realize it. 

I know this may be just a rant, but those are some things that have been on my mind after talking to a friend from law school. We were talking about the gay marriage legislation and honestly we didn’t come up with any particular solutions in regard to the law. However, what I did see was that regardless of what happens with the law, God calls me to love my neighbor as myself – which means to point them to the only source of true life and that is Jesus himself. Jesus loves gay people more than I do. I’m sure he can speak to them and love them in ways that I am incapable of doing so.

At the same time, I am not saying I support or not support homosexual marriage in legislation. I do believe that that homosexuality is a sin (along with a myriad of other ones such as greed, envy, lust, etc.) That isn’t a popular or well tolerated belief, but again, Jesus was killed for telling the truth because people didn’t want to hear what God wanted to say so I’m going to expect that, though I don’t welcome it nor like it, I do think that Jesus is right because he’s God!

Back to my point – though all of us have sin, I don’t want to single out homosexuality as the only one (though many people are singling it out as THE issue). 

Here’s a quick rant on those who are knuckleheads and religious, cause-oriented folk (gay and straight). Your lying, cheating, and hatred is just as damnable so don’t point fingers before you look at your own sin, repent, and receive salvation from Jesus. He wants good for you, but he will not condone your hatred of people made in his image and likeness (straight or gay). Your sin is just as bad as anyone else’s and it was so bad that Jesus had to die for it (me included). So shut your mouth if you don’t have truth in love that points people to Jesus. You aren’t helping. 

On the other hand, I want to appeal to those of you who do see that homosexuality as a sin. Again, I would say to you do not be quick to take the spec out of your brothers eye before you take the log out of your own. Deal with your life and your sin first. Be reconciled to Jesus because He’s extending that invitation to you – straight or gay. 

I’d also want to appeal to those of you who are in the gay community and are suffering a lot. Honestly, I don’t know you too well. I do know that you’ve gone through much and I would like to know, understand, and see what are ways in which you are being mistreated as people and would want to see justice on your behalf. Ultimately, I would love for you to meet Jesus. He would be able to sympathize with you in ways I cannot. He was a single man who lived and died a single man until his early thirties. I’m sure there were people who mocked him as gay or different because of that. He was a man, not unlike you, that went through extreme misunderstanding, abuse, and torment because of who he was. And the crazy thing is, he did it all for the sake of saving us from ourselves so that we can be reconciled to him to be accepted, saved, loved, and forgiven to have new life in Him. 

I don’t have an agenda about your life. I don’t know how to speak into your lives collectively. All I know is, if your connected to Jesus, true life happens. You can know God! You can be saved from judgement and hell and eternal separation from God! You can also rejoice in sufferings in the life no matter how hard it gets. I’ve heard of families being killed because they love Jesus in a regions that are hostile to Christians. I’ve heard of pastors being beheaded in front of their families because they love Jesus. However, if you know Jesus, you count it all as loss for the sake of knowing him. Whether we are accepted by men, society, or the world – it does not matter. What matters is we are accepted by our Lord and Maker. Our true lover. Our only God who is completely faithful and loves us with a perfect love and affection. Our only God who saves not only you, but others as well. 

God is real. Sin is real. Justice is real. Jesus is real. Hope is real. Salvation is real. Our pain and sufferings in the world is real. But take heart, Jesus is alive. He knows what we are going through and He calls us to himself. Friend, I hope you find rest in that. Whether you are gay or straight. I hope that you see Jesus as Savior because there is no one more worth it than Him. 

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VISION OF THE WEEK: RECOVERING BIBLICAL MANHOOD STILL!

I’m realizing that this probably will be a lifelong pursuit and learning experience! 

I’m also realizing that ultimately its about getting to know Jesus and follow him. As I follow him, abide in him, trust him, and grow in him, he will make me into the man that I should become. 

So, in a very simple sense, as Jesus is both the means and the end – growing in masculinity will come as I keep working out my salvation with fear and trembling. I’m glad he’s the one working in and through me! So thankful for that!

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Random 4/6/13

  • Jesus is alive – there is hope for me and others!
  • Dying to self and living in Christ is both difficult and easy
  • Jesus was the manliest man to ever live and he wasn’t married – being a man is much more than just being a husband, father, or son (though those are important)
  • God’s grace enables, empowers, and encourages you to bring sin out in the open to kill it instead of protect and manage it
  • Methods may change, but biblical principles remain in most if not all aspects of life
  • Nothing that is good, loving, and hopeful is possible apart from God’s grace
  • As I’m growing in Christ, I’m praying for growth in joy – I find I take things too seriously and it would be great to know Jesus more and enjoy him for who he is
  • I’m hoping for generations of my family to be changed and saved by God’s grace! I want that to begin with me. Please pray for me if you are reading!
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