Jesus Don’t Look Like You Imagine!

There?s a picture of Jesus painted on a church sign near my town. His head rises above the rectangular outline as though he stands on tip-toe peering over the top of the sign. He has long, flowing brown hair and a sickly white complexion, like a flower child of the 60?s who hasn?t been in the sun for a decade or two. You can imagine him playing with children or maybe feeding pigeons with crumbs from the five loaves. But this ?Sign-Jesus? is not awe-inspiring, not majestic, not glorious.

Contrast ?Sign-Jesus? with the vision of Jesus presented in the book of Revelation. King Jesus? voice is like Niagara Falls at a full roar (1:15). His face shines brighter than the sun (1:13). He speaks, and hearts are pierced and enemies routed (1:14, 19:15). He is both the Lamb who was slain and the Lion of the tribe of Judah (ch. 5), the ruler of the kings on earth (1:5). In his hand are the destinies of every human being, for he holds the keys to death and Hades. And He is the living one who, though once pierced for our transgressions, is now alive and lives forevermore (1:18). This is a Jesus to be reckoned with, a Jesus to be worshipped, a Jesus to be served!

Now let me ask you a question: when you think of Jesus, which image comes to mind? A soft-spoken, timid ?Sign-Jesus,? or an all-powerful, glorious, radiant King Jesus?

I?m afraid we often think of Jesus only in his humiliation, the man of sorrows, our humble Savior, without giving attention to his status now as our exalted Lord who sits enthroned at God?s right hand. In Scripture Jesus? humiliation leads unfailingly to his exaltation. ?He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death?therefore God has highly exalted him? (Phil. 2:8-9). Let me suggest two reasons why the exalted King Jesus? rule is good news for us.

Temptation. Have you ever faced a temptation to sin with sense of defeat or hopelessness? ?I can?t fight this one ? the temptation is too strong, I?m too weak,? etc. ?Sometimes we live as though all we have in our faith is a system of redemption to apply that helps us battle our inner demons. But we have not a system but? a living, powerful Redeemer who is present with us to help us overcome sin. Will there be a battle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit? Absolutely. But we denigrate the power of the risen Jesus to change his people if we face temptation with defeatism. Our King breaks the power of canceled sin and sets prisoners free.

Evangelism. The world is full of lost people, people convinced God doesn?t exist, or is irrelevant, or is there to accept them as long as they are sincere. How can we change their minds and convince them the gospel is true? Well, we can?t. But thankfully we are not trying to convince people to elect Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We are simply heralds of the King. When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord himself by the power of the Spirit is speaking through us. We cannot know who he will speak to, or how, or when. But we can be certain of this: King Jesus is mighty to save! When he speaks, he will be heard. And amazingly he uses our stumbling efforts to share the gospel as his royal, life-giving proclamation to dead sinners!

This is the risen King?s word to us his waiting people: ?Fear not, I am the first and the last? (Rev. 1:17). Christian, behold your King!

Photo by Mrs. D. Krebs

Now That’s Interesting! Sort of Not Really Gay, The Incredible Truck Collision, Worst Death Scene Ever, More…

I?m (Kinda Sorta Yeah Not Really) Gay??- Very good article here. “The reality is that I acknowledge my same-sex desires. I talk openly with family and friends about homosexuality, especially as it relates to my commitment to Christ. More importantly, I?m honest with God about my struggles with same-sex attraction. I don?t pretend the feelings aren?t there; on the contrary, I consider them very real temptations. The only denial happening here is self-denial, the daily charge to take up my cross and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). That?s the calling of every Christian, not just those who fight against homosexual desires.”

The Disguised Blessing of Being Unpopular??- This is a good article on creativity and popularity.

Your Body’s Best Time for Everything?- “A growing body of research suggests that paying attention to the body clock, and its effects on energy and alertness, can help pinpoint the different times of day when most of us perform our best at specific tasks, from resolving conflicts to thinking creatively.”

Providence Watching Over A Truck Driver – Wow.

The Worst Death Scene Ever – Watch carefully as he squeezes the blood packet after the first shot.

Who Are You? Our Astonishing New Identities

Who are you
Who who who who
Who are you
Who who who who ? “Who Are You” by The Who

Who are you? Are you fundamentally a sinner? Are you a good person? Someone in need of more self-esteem?

Are you victim? ?Are you a hopeless slave to your passions? ?A product of your environment? ?Do you need to remind yourself daily, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Most of us have no problem identifying ourselves as sinners. But that’s not the sum total of our identity. In fact the most important part of our identity is who we are in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Is this how you see yourself? Do you see yourself as a new creation in Christ? Or do you continue to see yourself primarily as a sinner? Maybe you would say I’m a sinner saved by grace, but the emphasis would still be on sinner.

In How People Change, Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp tell us that as important as it is that we recognize ourselves as sinners,

“Many believers also fail to see the other side of their gospel identity: their identity in Christ. Christ not only gives me forgiveness and a new future, but a whole new identity as well! I am now a child of God, with all of the rights and privileges that this title bestows.”

Who are we in Christ? It’s jaw-dropping amazing when we look at all the New Testament says about believers in Jesus. ?In addition to being new creations, we are:

  • Heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)
  • Called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28)
  • Predestined to be conformed to Christ (Romans 8:29)
  • Justified ones (Romans 8:30)
  • Those whom God is for (Romans 8:31)
  • God’s elect (Romans 8:33)
  • Unable to be separated from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35)
  • More than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37)
  • Part of Christ’s bride (Ephesians 5:25)
  • In the Spirit (Romans 8:9)
  • Loved by God (Romans 1:7)
  • Saints (Romans 1:7)
  • Under grace (Romans 6:17)
  • Set free from sin (Romans 6:18)
  • Slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18)
  • Slaves of God (Romans 6:22)
  • Sons of the living God (Romans 9:26)
  • Temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19)
  • Future judges of the world and angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3)
  • The body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  • Children of promise (Galatians 4:28)
  • Members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:19)
  • Light in the Lord (Ephesians 5:8)
  • Lights in the world (Philippians 2:15)
  • Part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that we may proclaim his excellencies (1 Peter 2:9)
  • One of God’s people who has received mercy (1 Peter 2:10)
  • Free (1 Peter 2:16)
  • Forgiven (1 John 2:12)

This is who we are in Christ! ?Here’s my suggestion – print these out and stick them on your fridge or in your Bible and regularly thank Jesus for these glorious truths.


Headless Snakes Shall Have No Dominion Over You!

[This post was written by my fellow pastor, Bob Mundorff (pictured above). And yes, he is a redneck. But I’m a nerd, so we make a good team.]

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…

Even born-again, Spirit-led, regenerate, new creation Christians have some earthiness left in them. Paul refers to it as ?what is earthly in you?. James calls this ?desire? that entices and lures us away. Peter calls it ?passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul?.

One warm summer evening a few years ago, some friends joined us for a picnic which included an unusual entree… grilled rattlesnake. I remember my grandfather saying that ?a snake won?t die ?till the sun goes down.? In my harvest and preparation of this particular rattler, I found some truth in that old saying. More importantly, I found a great illustration for remaining sin in the life of a Christian.

After lopping his head off with my tree pruners, and bringing him home in an old pillowcase, he just wouldn?t stop squirming enough for me to skin him. So utilizing a little redneck ingenuity, I stretched him out and wood-clamped him to the porchrail. Once I got his skin off and entrails
out, all I had left was a muscle-covered ribcage. Somehow, the instant I freed him from the clamps, it was like he still had a brain even though his head was long gone. He tried to strike me over and over with his bloody little neck-stub.

We fought until I got him into the pot of boiling water I had waiting for him, which by the way, was on my grill (for some reason Jane insisted I do this outside). After forcing him against his will into the pot, I thought the nightmare would be over. But I was wrong. As soon as I turned, ?bang? – off goes the lid, and out flies Mr. Snake carcass, squirming across the ground. …It took several minutes after getting him back into the boiling water for this thing to actually stop moving!

That dead snake who acted like he was still alive gives us a good picture of remaining sin in our lives. At the cross, Jesus lopped off the head of sin. Its penalty has been paid (Gal. 3:13). Its power is has been brought to nothing (Rom. 6:6). But that scary, hard to kill carcass of sin?s presence will plague us until heaven. Thanks to Jesus, sinful desires and earthly passions have lost their power over you. Like the rattlesnake, all they can do is neck-stub you. Put to death what is earthly in you! Don?t believe Satan?s lies anymore. Sin will have no dominion over you! God wants you to know the truth that will set you free (John 8:32; Rom. 6:7).

BREAKING: Debate Over Replacement Refs Heats Up When Bill Belichick Is Flagged For Being Unnecessarily Disheveled

BALTIMORE – The debate over the replacement NFL referees got even hotter on Sunday when Patriots coach Bill Belichick was flagged for being “unnecessarily disheveled”. When Belichick stepped onto the field before Sunday’s game against ?the Ravens, referee John Eaton immediately flagged Belichick for “unnecessary dishevelment”.

Eaton said: “He was wearing a mustard stained hoodie that looked like it hadn’t been washed for weeks! And he was wearing a snow cap. At first I thought I was looking at a hobo. We can’t have that kind of behavior on the field. So I flagged him.”

Belichick protested, saying, “This is the problem with these replacement refs! This is actually one of my nicer hoodies.”

Belichick wasn’t the only NFL coach or player upset after this weekend. Cleveland Browns coach, Pat Shurmur, complained that the refs were treating his team as if they were a “second rate high school football team that had no chance of winning”. Shurmur said, “They kept saying, ‘Nice try’, and ‘Good effort’ to my guys after every play. What’s up with that?”

In response, referee Nick Lane said, “Wait, what? I thought I was a refereeing an arena football game. Shoot.”

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate said, “You know, honestly, I thought they called a pretty decent game last night. I mean, sure they missed a few calls, but every ref does.”

Please Like Me! Let Me Worship You!

I hate disappointing or inconveniencing people. I?m not good at saying no. I rarely contradict a person?s statement or openly argue with them, even if I disagree with what?s being said. I?d rather let it slide than make a scene. I want people to like me. I?m a people-pleaser.

But that?s not a bad thing, right? I mean, what?s the opposite of being a people-pleaser ? a people offender? Who wants to be known as the guy who gets his kicks disappointing as many people as possible? Should I want people to dislike me?

I had to wrestle with these questions again in a little episode that came up in the course of pastoring. While doing some church calendar planning, I overlooked a detail and double-booked a meeting. My mistake meant someone else had to alter their plans. They graciously did so, I apologized, and we moved on. But afterwards I struggled internally. I felt bad that they had to change their schedule. I wanted to rewind life so I could undo my mistake. I started to feel less joyful, less happy. I wondered what they were thinking of me now. Do they still like me? Will they still speak to me? They?re probably planning to leave the church at this moment!

Okay, I didn?t get quite that far down the road of despair. But in the moments after the mistake, my internal landscape became much bleaker ? until the Lord invaded my thoughts. Here?s what I realized. While I shouldn?t want to inconvenience people, God is the only one who can accomplish all his plans without mistakes or unintended consequences. I cannot. As a weak, finite person in a fallen, disordered world I am going to disappoint and inconvenience people. God knows this. And even my weak and poor decisions fit into God?s perfect plan for me and the people I might inconvenience. Therefore I shouldn?t worry that the Kingdom has derailed because I made a mistake.

Even more importantly, only God is should hold determinative power over my internal joy and peace. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word used for ?glory? (as in ?the glory of the Lord?) literally means ?weighty.? A conceptual parallel might be our idea that a significant person can ?throw their weight around? and make things happen. But when my peace and happiness is controlled by another person, they have become weightier in my life than God.? I have dethroned the Sovereign of the universe. I have worshipped the creature rather than the Creator. People-pleasing is idolatry.

To return to our opening questions: Is it wrong to not like disappointing people? Yes and no. No, it?s not wrong to want to serve other people, to not inconvenience them, and to care about their opinions. At one level those desires can be expressions of love. But what?s behind those desires? When they flow from an idolatrous desire to be God-like and mistake-free, or from disordered affections that make people weightier than God, then they are deeply sinful.

Here?s the good news: Christ died for idolatrous people worshippers like you and me. He breaks the power of cancelled sin, including the sin of fear of man. In that moment as I sat at my desk and realized my sin, there was grace available to repent and direct my worship to my Creator and Redeemer. The same grace is available whenever we turn from putting people first to putting God first.

?You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve? (Luke 4:8).

Photo by A. Fagen

Now That’s Interesting! Tiny Homes, Freestyle Unicycling, Brand New Phone From Radioshack

Goldfish Phone Booth Aquariums Installed in Japan by ?Goldfish?Club??- This is a clever, cool, artistic way to spruce up a city.

Living Large in a Tiny?House?- “Hari and Karl Berzins decided to build a tiny home for their family in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to free themselves of the financial burden of owning a large home.?They knew that moving two children, a dog and a cat into a 168-square foot space would be a challenge, though it would also eliminate the need for a mortgage and cut their utility costs.”

Woman Invents Dimple Machine,?1936?- Ladies, your dimple problems are all solved.

Freestyle Unicycling – Unbelievable…

When cellphones were cellphones – You all can get a new iPhone, but I’m getting one of these.

How To Overcome Grasshopper Syndrome

Have you ever experienced “Grasshopper Syndrome”? ?I have. ?The Israelites did too:

“And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” ?Numbers 13:33

God told Moses to send 12 spies to spy out the promised land before the Israelites entered. ?Except for Caleb and Joshua the spies came back shaking in their boots. Caleb believed Israel could take the land. But the 10 spies gave a negative report. They looked at the Nephilim and then they looked at themselves. The Nephilim were bad boys. Warriors. And when the Israelites compared themselves to them they felt like grasshoppers about to get squashed.

Their problem wasn’t the Nephilim. ?Their problem was they forgot to look at God. God had promised to give them the land. But instead of focusing on God, they looked at the size of their problem and their own smallness and weakness.

We can do the same thing. We can look at our gargantuan sins and feel like grasshoppers facing King Kong. ?Our circumstances can look like Nephilim to us. ?Marriage problems, challenges with our children, an unsaved teen, a difficult coworker, financial needs ? when we fix our gaze on these things and compare them to our own pitiful resources, we can feel like grasshoppers.

The way to overcome our “grasshopper syndrome” is to lift our gaze above our challenges to our great God on his throne.

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. ?On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. ?They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. ?Psalm 145:3-6

God is so much greater than our sins and problems ? his greatness is infinite ? “unsearchable.” ?He does “mighty acts”, “wondrous works”and “awesome deeds.” ?These are what we should declare and meditate on.

Imagine a child who suddenly bumps into the neighborhood bully on the street. The child trembles as he looks up at the bully’s massive hulk and snarling face. But suddenly the child sees his father walking up behind the bully. Now he’s no longer intimidated by the bully, because he’s shifted his gaze from the bully to his dad.

What are you focused on today? Your sin? Your circumstances? Or your God?

If you are feeling like a grasshopper today, say with David:

For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. ?Psalm 18:29

By our God we can run against troops, jump over walls, drive out Nephilim and conquer our grasshopper syndrome. ?Lift up your eyes to see the greatness, majesty, power and glory of Jesus today. ?He’s reigning over all.

Book Review: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Immersion journalism, in which a person completely immerses himself or herself in a particular activity or lifestyle, is becoming increasingly popular. A.J. Jacobs did it when he tried to literally obey every command in the Bible for an entire year. This past year, Christian author Rachel Held Evans attempted something similar when she “vowed to spend one year of my life in pursuit of true biblical womanhood.” Her soon to be released book A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How A Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master chronicles her adventures.

What exactly would this adventure look like?

From the Old Testament to the New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation, from the Levitical code to the letters of Paul, there would be no picking and choosing.

In other words, she would try to obey all the Bible’s commands concerning women as literally as possible. On the surface this sounds like a good idea. She wants to know what the Bible really has to say about Biblical womanhood, and she wants to take the Bible literally. It’s all good, right? Well…not really.

Before I criticize any parts of the book, I do want to point out a few strengths. First, Rachel is a good writer and very readable. Second, she presses some good buttons when it comes to the complementarian position (i.e. God has given men and women different roles). Unfortunately, many complementarians aren’t careful or nuanced in their?application of certain passages, particularly when it comes to leadership/submission passages.

So Rachel, if you happen to read this, thanks for forcing me to think more clearly about my position. And you’re a good writer – better than me in many ways. And if I misrepresent you or quote you out of context, please correct me, because I hate it when people do that to me.

So, despite it’s strengths, I do have significant concerns/issues with the book.

First, Rachel states that her quest is to find true, biblical womanhood. The problem comes with her use of the word “biblical”. A true, Christian understanding of biblical womanhood should come through examining various passages of Scripture in light of their immediate context AND in light of their place in salvation history. The Levitical purity rituals given to the women of Israel do not apply at all to Christian women because they are a part of the Old Covenant. Yet Rachel doesn’t seem to make that distinction anywhere in her book.

During her menstrual cycle, she makes no physical contact with men, and camps out in the backyard in observance of Leviticus 15:19-31. She eats only Kosher food and tries to eliminate every trace of leavened bread from her house (Exodus 13:6-10). This is not Christian biblical womanhood in any sense. It could be considered Jewish biblical womanhood, but certainly not Christian. I wish Rachel had been more careful in distinguishing between Old Covenant commands and New Covenant commands.

Second, in many instances, Rachel interacts with and criticizes a caricature of complementarianism, rather than true, biblical complementarianism. For example, in describing submission to her husband, Dan, she says:

This meant relinquishing control over the Netflix queue, giving him the final say in restaurant choices, asking for permission before I made plans to go out with friends or start a new project, and trying to to remember to do all those annoying little things he always pestered me about.

In another section of her book she takes to calling Dan “master”, in accordance with 1 Peter 3:5-6, which says: ” For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”

This description is not biblical submission. As a husband, I have a general sense (emphasis on sense!!!) of a responsibility to lead Jen and our family. This does not mean that my preferences and decisions are final. I do not have dictatorial power in our house. Jen and I consult with each other on just about everything, from what we’re going to watch to how we’re going to spend our money. Yet I still have a sense that I am called to step up and take the lead on certain things, like doing family devotions, providing for our family, and initiating fun family activities. My call to lead is not a trump card to be used when I’m not getting my way. It’s a call to serve my wife and daughters.

Now, does that mean it’s wrong for Jen to do devotions with our daughters or plan a fun outing for us? No, of course not, and she often does those things. But I want the burden of those to things to fall on me, and I don’t want Jen to feel like she has to pester me to make sure these things happen.

Now, to her credit, Rachel quotes an apparently popular complementarian teacher named Debi Pearl, who writes to women:

You are not on the board of directors with an equal vote…You have no authority to set the agenda…start thinking and acting as though your husband is the head of a company and you are his secretary.

That is absolutely awful, and does not accurately describe the biblical roles of men and women. Jen is my helper, and believe me, I desperately need her help. She is not my secretary. She fills in so many of my shortcomings. She keeps our house from becoming a disaster zone. She keeps a close watch on our budget. She helps me fullfil my call as a pastor in a way that I never could without her. I desperately need Jen as my helper.

Finally, Rachel didn’t do a good job of working through the passages in scripture which explicitly spell out roles for men and women. Ephesians 5:22-27 is a crucial passage in the discussion of gender roles. It says:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.?Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Speaking of this passage, as well as 1 Peter 3:1-2 and Colossians 3:18-19, she says:

A little more research revealed that all three of the passages that instruct wives to submit to their husbands are either preceded by or followed by instructions for slaves to submit to their masters…The implications of this pattern are astounding. For if Christians are to use these passages to argue that a hierarchical relationship between a man and a woman is divinely instituted and inherently holy, then, for consistency’s sake, they must also argue the same for the relationship between the master and slave.

I’ve heard this argument before. The argument goes that Paul was speaking to the male dominated household codes of the day, and that he didn’t intend these instructions to be normative for all Christian all times. Rather, Paul intended a progressive ethic, in which, eventually there would be no roles at all, only mutual love and respect between all parties.

What this argument fails to consider is that, unlike his instructions to slaves, Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives are directly tied to the permanent, unchanging relationship between Christ and the church. Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and laid down his life for her. They are to sacrifice for their wives as Christ did for the church. Wives are to submit to their husbands just as the church submits to Christ.

Unfortunately, Rachel didn’t take this into account in her explanation of these passages. A more careful treatment of these passages, particularly Ephesians 5 would have been much more helpful. Her explanation of these crucial passages falls short.

I applaud Rachel for her dedication and commitment to this project. A year committed to anything is pretty intense. I’m not sure if I could handle that kind of project. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for a helpful resource on biblical womanhood, I can’t recommend this book.?

Win Redemption Hill’s Latest Album!

The folks at Redemption Hill Church have recently released an album called?See What the Lord Has Done.?It has a fantastic blues/bluegrass/Mumford and Sons sound. I’m really digging it, and I’m excited because they have agreed to give away ten digital copies of the album.

To hear the album simply click on the player below (RSS readers click through). To enter the contest simply enter your name and email adress into the form. Only one entry per person please. Enjoy!