Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Christ-Centered Word for the Wilderness

God often brings his people through the wilderness. He did it to Israel. He did it to his own Son (Lk 4:1). The wilderness is often characterized as a place of testing. God often brings his people through the wilderness to see what is in their hearts. And often what comes out is not good. One Psalm shows how Israel responded in the wilderness: 

“They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying ‘Can God spread a table in the wilderness?’” (Ps 78:18-19). 

That is not the right response in the wilderness. From my own experience and reading the Bible, it never honors God when we test and question him in our wilderness.  

Now being in the wilderness can can expose what is truly in our hearts. What do we crave in the wilderness? What comes out of our mouths in the wilderness? Those words reveal what is in our heart, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt 12:34). 

Yet there is a different perspective we can take into the wilderness. It is found in a few words in Deuteronomy: “These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing” (Dt 2:7). Those promises are always true when God brings his people through the wilderness. And in Christ there is a much richer meaning.

We can trust in his provision. We can trust that we lack nothing. In Christ we can have peace through our wilderness (Col 3:15). In Christ we can have the wisdom of God in the wilderness (Col 2:3). In Christ we can have contentment in God’s provision during our wilderness sojourning (Phil 4:11-13). 

In Christ we have everything we need for the wilderness. 

I hope that brings encouragement and hope to those who are either in the wilderness, or will begin to sojourn soon in the wilderness. Christ is with you and you lack nothing in the wilderness. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Difference Between YOLO and DV

Dear Faithful Blog Readers, 

The culture we live in is becoming further removed from two noticeable things: Latin phrases and a God-centered worldview. The one makes sense, since Latin is a dead language. The other is sad, since God is not dead. 

A recent acronym YOLO (you only live once) has replaced the older Latin concept of carpe diem (seize the day). It means enjoying life and taking risks. A dead Latin phrase has been replaced with a hip acronym that is easy to text to a friend or use as a Twitter hashtag. 

There is one Latin phrase the needs resurrected, or at least the concept needs to be understood. It is found in the phrase Deo volente or “God willing” in English. From what I understand, people used to write D.V. at the end of written correspondence, which stood for Deo volente--similar to P.S. which is the Latin post scriptum. This makes sense since people would write their plans in letters to their friends and family. But it also showed that they lived with a God-centered worldview. The difference between YOLO and DV is that one apporaches life with us in control, the other trusts God who is truly in control of all things. 

The concept of Deo volente is found in James:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make profit”-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 
(James 4:13-15 ESV)

There is a great difference between YOLO and DV. It is not because one uses a hip acronym and the other a dead language. The real difference is that God is absent from one and first in the other. Which leads us to ask the question: is God absent from our lives or is he first in our thinking, planning and living? I hope that we all live to the fullest. I hope that we have a “seize the day” approach. But I hope we do so with God’s name as the first letter of our acronym of life. That is the big difference between YOLO and DV. 

Living as a mist, 



Thursday, February 6, 2014

One Great Book for Growth

Over the years I have read many books that have helped me grow in Christ. Some have been helpful at different seasons in my life. But if I were to recommend one that stands out it would be The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. I initially picked it up and read it over a decade ago. And I continue to go back and refer to it especially in pastoral ministry. 

I’ll just share one quote to whet the appetite:

“When we understand the character of God, when we grasp something of His holiness, then we begin to understand the radical character of our sin and helplessness. Helpless sinners can survive only by grace” (pg. 183).

At the end of that chapter Sproul asks some application questions: 
--How does understanding God’s wrath help you honor Him as a holy God?
--In what ways do you need God to help you love Him? 

These are questions that people who are serious about growing in their knowledge of a holy God are asking. If you sincerely want to grow in worshiping and loving the holy God of Scripture, I suggest getting your hands on The Holiness of God at some point.  

“You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy” (Lev 19:2 ESV).