Safe In The Presence of the Lord

July 31, 2007

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27

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Freedom From the Sinful Nature

July 29, 2007

We received a question today about how exactly the Christian puts to death the sinful nature. This is a huge part of our salvation and a big part of the hope we possess.

To possess salvation means to be saved from something. This something is the sinful nature. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believed in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). To perish is to be condemned to hell due to the sinful nature we are all born with (John 3:18). But Christ died once for all so that we can be forgiven and freed from the sinful nature (1 Peter 3:18).

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). And again, “It was for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). The key word here is freedom.

So how do we obtain this freedom? Salvation is received by being born again. “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3). This is a spiritual rebirth whereby we die to the sinful nature and receive the gift of Christ. Being born again is possible because Christ not only died for our sins but rose again on the third day. The resurrection is essential, because if Christ did not raise from the dead then sin and death were not conquered and we are still trapped in our sin (1 Corinthians 15:14). Finally, Christ ascended back to heaven, where all things have been put under his feet (Ephesians 1:22). This means that Christ has the ultimate victory over all things, including Satan himself. Sin is conquered and we may be free in him.

To be in Christ is to have these things true of us as well. Just as water can be poured into a cup, when we become saved we are placed in Christ. And just like when that cup is then placed on a table the table is beneath the cup and the water, when we are placed in Christ Satan is at our feet too.

Salvation occurs when we receive this victory of Christ in our own lives. The freedom is made possible because of the work of Christ.

So why do Christians still struggle with sin? Because they do not understand this victory. How do we die to sin? By living these truths in our lives by FAITH.

The Christian must live consciously of their thoughts and actions every day. When I recognize that I have victory over sin in Christ Jesus, I am not going to believe the lie that I’m always going to sin. When I don’t believe the lie then I don’t live under the lie. And if I don’t live under the lie, then my life is truly free of it and I live by the truth, which is that I am not bound by sin.

This plays out practically in everyday life when the Christian takes captive their thoughts and actions. I recognize when a sinful though is about to enter (or already has entered) my mind, and I cast it out immediately in the name of Jesus Christ. To dwell the thought is to give it a foothold and be conquered by it. To cast it out is to have victory over it and conquer it.
Victory over our actions works in the same way. This is done a lot easier when our thoughts are taken captive. If we have victory in our thought lives, then we will no longer be led astray by them and walk into the sinful act we are thinking about. When we are not thinking about sinning, we are not going to take it into our hands to act out that sin.

When it comes to impulsive actions, again we must take our thoughts captive. We must stop and think when we feel ourselves ready to blow up, or walk into a bad situation, or whatever that impulsive behavior may be. When we slow down, we can then take the thought and action captive, and then walk away from it and be victorious over it.

All this is done by faith. We know what Christ has done for us, have received his gift of salvation and been born again, and walk in the victory we have in Christ Jesus. Because Christ has overcome this world of sin, in Christ we have this same victory. Praise God for all he has done!


The Right to Abort?

July 26, 2007

The debate has been going on for decades: Does a woman have a right to abort.

I don’t think so.

Let’s say someone runs a stop sign and gets a ticket. That person does not have a right to say, “Sure, I ran that stop sign, but I have a right to refuse to pay that ticket.” Let’s say someone kills someone else and gets caught. That person does not have the right to say, “Sure, I killed that guy, but I have a right to refuse to serve prison time.” There are consequences to our actions, and we must pay them.

Sex creates children. No this is not a crime. But it is an action that has a consequential ramifications. The fact of the matter is that sex does often result in the creation of a human being (and I want to emphasize the human being part of that).

So no, I don’t think a woman has a right to abort her unborn child. You have no right to say that another human being shouldn’t live because you don’t want to have them around. If that was the case, countless bullied children would turn up dead, murdered because no one liked them or wanted them around. It doesn’t matter if you think a child is an inconvenience to you, they are still alive, and worthy of this. You have no right to take that away.

“But what about cases of rape and incest?” I think the same equation applies. Let me stress that it is not the woman, or young girl’s, fault for these terrible things to happen. Still, the consequence of the action that the man forced to happen is a pregnancy, the creation of another human life. And again, I do not think anyone has a right to take that away.

If you take the life of an unborn child, you are playing God, taking away the life of one you have no right to take.


Feeding On The Truth

July 25, 2007

“A man can’t be always defending the truth, there must be a time to feed on it” (C.S. Lewis).

Enough said.


The Shame of the Church

July 24, 2007

I was reading an article today about an LA Times religion beat reporter who lost his faith in the process of reporting all the bad news about things like the Catholic priest scandals. This makes me very sad, and even angry.

It makes me angry because of all the people who are walking away from God because of those who shame the name of the Lord by their actions while claiming to be one of his servants. It disgusts me.

It also frustrates me that people walk away from God because of all this. I understand why those who have been hurt by the church are so disillusioned by it. At the same time as I ask this question: If someone is a mean school teacher, does that mean the Board of Education does not exist? Or if someone is a crooked cop, does that mean the Ministry of Corrections doesn’t exist? Of course not. The institutions still exist, even though the people working under them made terrible choices out of their own free will.

The same thing is true of God and the church. Many claim to be of God who are not. But still there are those who are saved and then fall from grace and do foolish things. This is done out of their free will. God cannot be blamed.

For those who still have difficulty, I ask this question: Do you blame God for the things you do? Do you claim that it is God who makes you do everything in your day, even the bad? The answer is no, you are aware that you make your own decisions as you live your life. The same is true of the priest who molested children. He made a sinful choice, but it was his choice to make. If we did not have free will, we would only be robots, and not really human.


Who Are The Lost?

July 23, 2007

Who are the lost? Who are the ones who need Jesus?

They are not only those who have drug and alcohol addictions, or those who sell their bodies. They are not only those who come from the projects or broken homes. They are not only those who are gang-bangers, thieves, and crooks.

I was a stereotypical “lost person” at one time in my life. But these are not the only ones who are lost.

A person may have never touched drugs, may abstain from alcohol and may be a virgin, but still be lost.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), and all stand condemned already before God (John 3:18). This is because of the sinful nature we are all born with (Psalm 51:5, Genesis 8:21). We are sinners before we have even done anything wrong, because although our sins are the sum total of our bad actions, sin is our very nature when we are apart from Christ.

So we cannot say only the down and out need Jesus. We cannot only focus our evangelistic efforts on those living on the streets. These need Jesus, that is very true. But what about the person who works at the cash register next to you, or in the cubicle next to you? What about the couple who just moved in next door to you, safely away from the city, tucked away in suburbia? What about you?


David vs. Goliath and the Philistine Army

July 22, 2007

“David said to the Philistine, ‘You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands'” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).


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