Contend Earnestly: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

David Bazan, formerly of Pedro the Lion, on ABC News Amplified

Pretty sad story of the former lead singer of Pedro the Lion, David Bazan, as he denounces God and turns to writing lyrics that question everything that Christianity stands for. I wonder how much truth has been spoken to him about the fact of faith, and what that means. I don't know the man, but I pray that his wife would live out 1 Peter 3:1

Likewise, wives,be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives

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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Prodigal Son: Part III: Religion vs Gospel

If you haven't read the first two posts within this series, you can find them here and here. If this reads a little odd, it is because they came from a sermon series I did at chapels at a local private school. I hope that these will aid you in your understanding of the Gospel more fully. I also want you to know, as I stated in the first post, that I leaned highly on the sermons given by Tim Keller that can be found here.

Here is the last post in regards to the Prodigal Son.

The Vengeful Brother

So, it looks like everything is going great, the celebration has started, the whole town is there celebrating a feast that they probably have never seen before. It’s actually so loud that the elder brother can hear it as he starts to approach the house. Here is what follows in the story.

“Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing.
“And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be.
“And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’
“But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.
“But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;
but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’
“And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.
‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ ”

At this point in the story, the Pharisees that are standing around listening to the story that Jesus is telling, are very angry. They are thinking to themselves: this boy wished his father dead, completely devastated his family, squandered his dad’s money with prostitutes, and lived alongside an unclean animal, now the father has the gall to merely forgive him? Not only forgive him, but throw a huge celebration for the son?

Then Jesus starts in with the elder brother and they have to be thinking, “finally, someone who is thinking correctly”

To give you some context in what should have happened in a true God loving country…it was the elder brother’s job to bring back the prodigal son to restore the family's image and respect among the community. But, for the elder son to do this for the younger, it would cost him a lot of money. Remember, at this point, everything is going to be the elder brothers now when his father dies…and because the elder brother is an idolator also of his father’s possessions, he won’t go out to get seek the younger brother. But instead of seeing himself as no better than his younger brother he actually sees himself as superior to the younger brother, because of all the work he has done for the father.

Look at the response of the elder brother.

“But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him.
“But he answered and said to his father, ‘Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends;
but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

Why is he so mad? The reason is that he feels like he has earned the right to be his father’s son with all his works, but doesn’t believe that the Prodigal Son has earned any right to be called the son or part of the family.

At this point, he has done the same thing that the Prodigal did when he repented, he wants to be his father’s hired servant. He says:

For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours;

Here you will see that the elder brother believes he deserves something from the father because of him following his commands. It isn’t enough to be called a son and be with the father, he wants more…he wants his father’s things

You see Pharisees do two things: they believe their works save them, but they also believe that their works make them earn God’s love and God’s grace and ultimately, his gifts.

We have to realize that God doesn’t owe us anything. No matter if you read your bible, pray, help others, go to church, go to a private school, wear WWJD bracelets, wear Christian t-shirts, listen to Christian music, smile all the time like you're on something,etc. God doesn’t owe you an easier life.

I have heard before that if you read your Bible your days will be better. Therefore, you read your bible so you have a better day. But what happens when you read your bible and your dad dies?

What are you going to do? You’ll blame God because you followed everything God said to do, yet your life isn’t better, it’s worse.

You are telling God, “you owe me!...look at all I did!” God says, “I owe you nothing, but I gave you everything!”

I want to really drive this home: This is anti gospel, this is religion. Which states, I get to earn my salvation by my works.

The elder brother is so messed up. But, I want to be able to give you some ways to see if you are the elder brother. Because the interesting thing is that it is easy to see the Prodigal Son and who they are. They are usually the ones hooked on drugs, getting drunk, living for money, caught up in very visible evil things.

The hard thing with the elder brothers is where they congregate. They don’t congregate in the pig slop, they congregate in churches, in Christian schools and Christian businesses.

Because outwardly, they look like they are doing all the right things…they give to the poor, they read their bibles, they come to church every week, they serve in the church and memorize their Bibles, they have Christian bumper stickers, they have the latest Top 50 Worship Songs CD, etc. Now are any of these things wrong? We could debate on some of them, but, is it wrong to go to church, christian schools, work at a Crhistian business, read your bible, pray, etc.? No…of course not..unless the heart is jacked up…

Religion does all these things to gain God’s favor, they do it to look good, not because they love God.

Think about this…what is the difference between a Mormon that gives to the poor, reads their Bibles, does many moral things that are good and you? What is the difference?

If you can’t answer, “My works are merely because I love my God and am thankful for what he has done for me” you might be an elder brother candidate…

King David puts it this way:

Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
Psalm 40:6-8

But, when you think of this: didn’t God say that burnt offerings and sin offering were required? But notice that David says he does these things not to earn God’s favor but does it because he delights to do God’s will.

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from Me.
‘But in vain do they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ ”
Matthew 15:8-9

Jesus wants your heart, not merely your works. But know this: out of a heart that loves God and desires him most, good works will come.

Here is some things to watch for to see if you are an elder brother candidate who loves religion instead of gospel: I totally stole this from Tim Keller.

1. Anger

Notice the brother was angry with his father. An elder brother, or Pharisee, is someone who is angry because he is not getting what he thinks he deserves…”why aren’t I prospering God? I do all these things, my life should be good, my grades should be good, I should have lots of friends, I should have the nicest clothes, I shouldn’t have to struggle like this”

You will always think that you are better than “that guy” and you will often say when you hear a message at church, “so and so needs to hear this message,” but you will never see that the message was speaking to you.

2. Duty without Beauty

You slave for God. You don’t enjoy church, you don’t enjoy praying, you don’t enjoy reading your bible, you don’t enjoy loving others…because elder brothers find God useful, not beautiful.

You see, for an elder brother God is not the end, he is not the gift of our salvation, but God is a means to get what they want. Gospel Christians obey because they want God. Elder brothers obey God to get his stuff. Gospel saturated Christians obey because they want to draw close to God and find God and love his presence.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to ..what? money? power? health? a good life? a safe life? no…he died to bring us to God

For the elder brother this isn’t good enough, God isn’t good enough. They need recognition, they need God’s things, not God himself. Why do you obey God? So you can look good on the outside to others? To get a good day out of God? Or do you obey God because you deeply love him, knowing that if everything was taken from you, your joy would not be stolen.

As an example: elder brothers pray to get things not to get closer to God

3. Religious and Cultural Class Superiority

If you ground your self image in your performance then you have to look down upon those who are failures, if you ground your self image in your work, then you have to look down upon those who are lazy. If you ground yourself on being and American, you look down on anyone who comes in this country illegally. So, if you ground your self image in your good grades, playing sports, playing an instrument, being an amazing artist, wearing a t-shirt with some weird saying of Christ..if this is where your self image lies…all those who can’t do these things…you’ll look down upon them.

The elder brother says that God owes him grace and love because of his works, the gospel centered person states, “I am not worthy to be your son”

Notice the elder brother says,

but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.’

We mustn’t say: I can’t believe that person is a murderer, thief, drunk, druggy, homosexual, or pedophile…instead, we must say, without God’s grace I would be in their same sinful state and then we take and show the gospel to them.

We must be careful not to be the elder brother who is really viewing himself as a hired servant only interested in getting what he feels owed to him. We must be gospel centered, knowing we are not worthy to be called God’s sons and daughters.

Notice how this parable ends:

“And he said to him, ‘Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours.
‘But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.’ ”

At this point, I can see Christ looking right into the eyes of the Pharisees. The interesting thing is that although the father should be angry with his eldest son, he shows much compassion for him. Like the younger brother, the father comes out to the eldest son, and like he did with the younger brother, he shows forgiveness and love for the eldest son instead of anger.

Notice, Jesus uses the term “son” when the father says, “son, you have always been with me…” which means something close to “my child”…it is very intimate. The father pleads with the son to come in and enjoy the feast. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that there is still time for them to turn and know that they can be saved, not by their works, but the work that is about to happen on the cross.

Then, the parable ends. We are left to see that the Prodigal Son is saved and in his father’s house, even though his works were filled with sin. But because of his father’s mercy and grace…he is redeemed. Showing those who have a life filled with sin, that they too can be forgiven and be in heaven some day, because of the greater father, Jesus Christ, who paid the price for their sins and stands ready to forgive them.

But, the elder brother is left outside. He is going to hell despite his good works. He, like his younger brother, has now torn the family up once again. But he, unlike his brother, believes his salvation and grace should come by what he has done, instead of what his father has done.

Jesus actually doesn’t tell us the end of the story because his hour to die hadn’t yet come. But, if we were to work out this parable to the end, as the father is pleading with his son to come in and celebrate, the elder son out of all his anger picks up a piece of wood and beats his father to death with it.

In the end, Jesus dies on the cross at the hands of the self righteous Pharisees, who believed their works were what earned them the right to be loved by God. They couldn’t believe that this Messiah came to save the prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers, homosexuals, liars, thieves and pedophiles. They couldn’t believe that he came to save you and I.


There is much to glean from this parable that we have yet to uncover. But which are you? There are only three to choose from. Are you the prodigal? Do you live out your own desires and have many idols that are ahead of God?

Are you the elder brother? Do you believe that God owes you something because you read our Bible every morning, pray every morning or help those in need?

Or, are you a blood bought Christian that understands that God is the gift. God is our redeemer and salvation. He is the one that has paid it all, not only for our salvation, but also for our sanctification?

Are you one that is repentant because you break God’s heart and you desire to live for him because you love him?

I hope that this study has opened your eyes to the understanding of the true Gospel of our Christ. He paid it all. He desires you to be saved and he has removed all obstacles for you to be saved. You just need to repent and turn to him and tell him that you have sinned against heaven and you are not worthy to be his son. But, be careful, because if you ever feel as though you are worthy to be called his son…you are becoming that elder brother

I will end with a quote from Augustine from his confessions:

What does ambition seek except honor and glory, but only you lord have a glory forever that can never be lost

What does power of the mighty desire except to be feared, but none has power that can ever be ceased and stolen but you

What do the lonely and the anxious long for, except a love that they cannot lose, but who can give a love that does not fade and die but you

What does wariness seek except rest, but what sure rest is there apart from you

Thus the soul commits adultery whenever it turns from you and seeks these things that it cannot find except in you

Oh Lord you made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you

May we seek to find our rest in God himself, instead of God’s things.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Prodigal Son: Part II

Because my notes were so extensive for this second part of the chapel service...I am going to break it up into two posts. Again, this is pretty close to what I actually said during the sermon, but some things I have left out in these posts because it would have little affect on the readers, compared to when I was speaking to the students at Rainier Christian. The first post is here for you to read.

The Son’s Misplaced Trust

We left off on the last post when the son started to form his repentance speech he was going to give his father. Here is what he came up with:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”

What’s wrong with this statement?

The first part is correct…he has sinned against heaven, he has sinned against the father and he is no longer worthy to be called his father’s son. But then look at the last part. He wants to pay back his father by being a hired man.

The son is missing the point of being forgiven and accepted by his father and is actually downplaying his sin at this point. He thinks he could actually pay him back.

Remember. He has wished his father dead. He not only took his father’s property, but remember what word was used for his father’s property that he took? Bios, or life.

He also made his father, who was very wealthy and well known in the area, lose respect and honor, which was huge in the time of Christ.

So, by saying, “I’ll just be a hired servant and pay my dad back” he was really downplaying what he did to his father.

Let me give you an example.

What if Bill Gates showed up to your house and said to you:

I am going to buy you and your family a mansion, any car each of you want, and when you get out of high school I will pay for whatever school you want to go to and make sure you get the best available job in your field of study.

Pretty cool, yes?

You think about it and you say, “yes, that would be cool…” and then you handed him a dollar. He asks, “what is this for?”

You respond by saying, “I just wanted to pay you back for doing all this for me”

Have you now cheapened the gift given? Very much so. And you sound ridiculous.

This is exactly what the son will be doing if he asks his father to become his hired servant. He is going to not only sound ridiculous, but he will cheapen the grace and mercy that is supplied to him by his father.

We will come back to this understanding as we seek to find how the father and the elder brother responded.

The Forgiving Father

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Honestly, this part of Scripture is more shocking than we realize. The Son gets up and makes his journey towards his father. The whole way, rehearsing what he’ll say, how his father might respond and what will happen if he is rejected..knowing he will probably be rejected.

Think of this…how nervous would you be making this journey back to your father?

What reaction do you think he was expecting?

So, as he is making his journey he comes over the horizon where the Father sees him and what happens?

The father had been wished dead, socially embarrassed, physically stolen from and spiritually his life was torn apart.

Also, in this period the inferior always ran or came to the superior…this wealthy nobleman would never go to anyone in this village, much less a person who wanted him dead to take his money.

Yet, it says that while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, ran and embraced and kissed him.

Notice…has the son said anything yet?

Just seeing His son, it says the father felt compassion for him. This term means to literally be moved from the deepest part of the soul.

This is where we start to see the gospel very clearly. Remember…who is telling us this parable?

It is Jesus…Jesus uses this term compassion when speaking of the Prodigal. Who is the Prodigal in this story so far? Us…and the crowd listening, more specifically the sinners.

It is said that the term compassion is used more for Christ than any other emotion. Jesus is trying to show the connection between himself and the Father at this point. He is trying to say that he loves these people and he desires their salvation. He desires the salvation of the most crude people of the day, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the cheats, the sick, the lame, the pedophiles, the wife beaters, the whores, the drug dealers and the zealots.

The father not only feels compassion but he runs to the boy. Now, in the days of Christ, noblemen didn’t run. The reason is because all they wore was this kind of robe, with an undergarment that was long and went all the way down close to the ankles…so to run, they had to pick up the garment pretty high and would be in danger of showing off parts of themselves that shouldn’t be shown.

But this father, so overcome with joy, doesn’t care that he is a nobleman, doesn’t care about the disgrace of running, doesn't care about what the village would think of him…his only care is to seek out his boy whom he sees.

Notice that as he approaches his son, he embraces him and kisses him.

Think of this. Does the father know whether or not the son will accept him or reject him? I mean…couldn’t the son be there to merely ask for more money?

The father shows that he has fully forgiven the son before the son ever even asks for it.

Think of Christ at this moment as he is speaking this. You see like the father, Christ came from his home to us. He ran to us, he joyfully came to live among us…but unlike the father he wasn’t welcomed, he was rejected, he was crucified on the cross.

You see we know the story, so we forget that the father does all this without knowing whether or not the son will accept him. But, Jesus, does all these things for us, knowing he will be rejected and despised and it still states this:

and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

The son, not knowing how he would be welcomed, must be overcome at this point. But notice he still follows through with most of what he is ready to state:

‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

He gets most of it out, but what happens? Does he even get to the point about paying back his father? Because of the repentance of the Son, what now happens?

From before we see that the Father has forgiven him, but now we see the son receives three things:

“But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;

The robe is given to those who are a welcomed and honored guest. This robe will cover the filth of the son who was living with pigs.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
Isaiah 61:10

Like the Father, Christ has clothed us with righteousness, so that our filth is seen no more.

He is also given a ring, which for the family, gave the son authority and allowed the son to make business transactions on behalf of the family. He has been given back an inheritance that he squandered.

By doing this, it will cost his father much. But if he doesn’t, there will be no redemption for the son and he will never truly be called a son to the family. It costs his dad to do this because part of his bios, his life, was taken when the son left with his inheritance. So, the father’s life is being taken for the son to be redeemed.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Christ, like the father, gave up his literal life, to save and redeem us.

Not only did he receive a robe and the family ring, but he received sandals. Servants didn’t wear sandals, only those a part of family did. This shows the full acceptance that the son is fully restored. He is truly a son. Not a servant.

So, think of this. We have the fullness of the gospel. A sinner completely separated from his father, sins willfully, squanders everything, lives how he wants to, but desires to be restored. He goes to the father and the father, instead of holding anything against him, runs to him, hears his repentance and fully restores the son as part of the family. Notice that the son has done nothing besides repent.

Because of the sacrifice that the father has made, the son can be restored.

Remember the speech that the son had prepared for his father? Was he able to even finish it?

No, and notice that the part that was left out because of the father’s joy to fully restore his son, was the part where the son wanted to repay his debt. By not allowing this to happen, the father is saying, there is nothing to repay, because I have paid it for you.

Such a clear example of our Christ. The gospel speaks to us and doesn’t ask, “what have you done for Christ,” the gospel cries out and says, “Look at what Christ has done for you!”

Martin Lloyd Jones, a famous pastor who has now gone off to be with God used to ask, “Right now, are you a son of God?” He said many people would respond by saying, “I’m trying”

He then told them, “You don’t know what it means to be a son, because you want to be a hired servant”

As if this wasn’t enough, the father continues and says:

and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;
for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.

So, not only has the son been fully restored as a son, the father doesn’t stop…he throws a full out bash for the whole town. Imagine the great joy that is happening in the father’s house. This is probably the best day in the Father’s life.

For all he knew, he would never see his son again. His son could have been merely coming back for money and leaving again. But no, his son has repented and come back home. He wasn’t physically dead, but was completely separated from his father and his home, he was spiritually dead, but he has returned.

When you were dead in your transgressions…He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
Colossians 2:13

To show how joyous he is, he kills the fatted calf. Now to understand how crazy this is, know that they hardly ever ate meat back then and probably had never had such a celebration. The whole town would be invited to share in this amazing celebration of joy. This would be like your parents renting out the most expensive restaurant in Seattle and inviting all your neighbors and friends to join you…it was a huge bash.

This is why Christ says that there is much joy in heaven over even one sinner that repents.
In the next post, we'll see what happens after it is seemingly a story that will end with a huge celebration and much joy over the restoration of not only a son, but the fabric of the whole family. Just as all seems joyous and back to "normal", enter the vengeful, elder brother.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Cussing for Christ: Finding Meaning in Words: Part II

My last post focused on the thoughts of our words and which ones we have on our lists of "good" and "bad" words and how Christ saw these. We found that Christ focused much more attention on the context, culture and intent, than merely the word itself. Again, when one looks at words how Christ saw words, it will cause you to be more conscience of what you say and how you say it, not less concerned. Every time I bring up that words matter far less than culture, context and intent I get the same list of verses for a defense of why certain words should never be used. This usually happens because the person has an answer for my thinking while not listening to what I spoke about concerning Christ and his stance on words. Instead of ignoring them, as they ignored my reasoning, I oblige and challenge them on their exegesis by using all of Scripture, instead of pulling out certain texts from their context to employ them for my personal yoke.

Most notably, the verses that are used most often are the following:

But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Ephesians 5:3-4

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Titus 2:6-8

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29

But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth.
Colossians 3:8

Now, when someone reads these verses, most of the time a list of words start popping up in your mind that should never be used. That is fine, but that isn't getting to the root of the issue that is being spoken of here. If you look at these verses some things pop out right away when speaking of words:

Filthiness, silly talk, coarse jesting, sound in speech, unwholesome word and abusive speech.

Most of the time, this is what is focused on when someone tries to combat my thoughts on language. While these are things that definitely should not be overlooked, I keep digging deeper with the person. There has to be more in these verses than merely us making up a list of good and bad words to use in our everyday lives. The reason I say this is that if we follow the shallow exegesis often employed with these verses we actually start putting God, his prophets and his apostles to the test.

Here are some examples that I think would make some of us cringe if we heard a pastor or friend use. These examples would all be considered coarse and filthy to even the world...I will warn you...some of these are very hard to read:

Your works are like a dirty, bloody tampon (Isaiah 64:6)

You were a whore when you were young, having your breasts fondled and your virgin breasts and nipples handled (Ezekiel 23:3)

You would rather be an adulterer because you love men that have a huge penises like donkeys and come like horses (Ezekiel 23:20)

To make God angry you were such a whore that when the Egyptians came by lusting after you, you spread your legs for them (Ezekiel 16:25,26)

God loved you so much that when you were born and thrown out in the open to squirm in your blood and die, He saved you and called out for you to live (Ezekiel 16: 4-6)

I count all things as crap, or animal excretion, or literal sh#t, so that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:8)

In 1 Kings 18 while Elijah is on Mount Carmel, Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal and asks if their god is on the toilet (1 Kings 18:27) and so busy that he can't answer them. Which is interesting because Baal has a derivation (Beelzebub) where it means "Lord of Dung".

We could actually continue for a while on this, but I think you get my point. To just open your eyes to the way that God uses language to get to the heart of the matter, read Ezekiel 16 and 23 fully. The imagery is shocking, which is its intent, so that the hearers would see their sin and turn back to God.

When I read these, and other parts of Scripture, I then go back to the above mentioned verses on language and ask myself, "What is God trying to convey in these verses so that His glory is displayed to all people?" Further, to try and think this through, Ephesians 5 starts with an interesting verse: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

So, when thinking through the verses on language, we should see language as God sees language, not merely our culture. So, when someone like Phil Johnson asks, "If newscasters don't use coarse language to get the news across, why should we?" He is missing the point of language and being imitators of God and not man.

If we are shallow in our understanding of the verses mentioned in Ephesians, Titus and Colossians we would, once again, find God in sin. There has to be more.

Just as food, sex, money and alcohol can be used for God's glory, they can also be used for indulgence in sin if not used correctly. This is a heart matter. Words must be used how God desires, and not how we desire. Words must used exactly how Paul puts it: only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment.

The moment is going to tell us what we should use and how we should use it. If we are speaking to a moralistic Pharisee who cannot see past their idolatry of good works, we might have to use some pretty crass words to pierce the heart as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jesus and Paul did. If we are speaking to someone caught up in sin, that has aborted a child and is struggling through the decision spiritually, we will use different words to show the forgiveness and grace of God. The moment is key! This is exactly how we see it through all of Scripture. Edification doesn't merely mean some sort of soft spoken Christian radio host telling you that everything will be okay and that God loves you. Sometimes people need to be awakened by a shout, where a whisper will just keep them in their slumber.

This elevates your language, it doesn't degrade it. It makes you really think which words will pierce the heart for the gospel and which ones will just fly by unnoticed.

You must know your audience, you must know the context, you must know the culture and you must speak Jesus straight to their hearts, where the Holy Spirit can thrust his knife of knowledge and split open their heart to see the King of Kings on His throne.

Do I believe that a Christian should carelessly use any word, in any context. No. That isn't the point of these posts. The point of these posts is that the words themselves are far less important than the intent and context which one finds themselves in.

The gospel, in the Scriptures, have been proclaimed in many different ways to many different contexts, cultures and peoples. Notice this and take the whole Bible as our guidance to God's glory, not just what makes you comfortable and not just what will make people like you. If you have a list of words you'll never use, you might want to check first with the Scriptures to make sure you aren't limiting the words that God wants you to use. I couldn't imagine if Ezekiel told God, "Sorry God, whore is not a word I am comfortable with, can we go with another one?"

I pray these posts will make us think more how to be biblical, edifying and God glorifying. I pray that we would desperately try and balance out the legalistic and antinomian in all of us and pray that God would continually make us more like him and less like our self made idols that we want ourselves to be like.

The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”
Exodus 4:11-12

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Cussing for Christ: Finding Meaning in Words: Part I

Now that I have your attention, I hope that I can hold it for an honest discussion all the way to the end. Words matter. But they don't matter in the way you might suspect. Some people, when they hear that words matter, know this, because they have a list of words that cannot be used or one is in sin. I find this odd. Now, I used to be one of these people who would so investigate words and their origins that I almost had to stop vocalizing because so many words come from some weird derivation of something else. There has been much discussed on this subject and the same verses keep coming up from those who oppose people using certain terms because they are "filthy" and "abusive."

But, isn't there more to words than merely their terms? Isn't the meaning or intent far more important? I say yes. I know some will disagree, so I want to show through the Scriptures that it isn't which words you are using, but to whom, which culture and for what reason. You can have your own convictions of which terms you will and will not use, that is completely okay (Romans 14). But, you must not use your list and your convictions to put it on others as a yoke that isn't required from Christ. That is when you cross the line of using your conscience to a Pharisee.

Also, know that this isn't a post to get you to start cussing, or to use words however you want. Actually living by theseconvictions will make you more conscience of your speech, not less. You will also note, I am going to completely use the Scriptures here to make my point and case on this subject. I have written some other posts on the matter, which you can check out here:

More Stuff/Crap About Vulgar Language

Further Discussion on Coarse Language

Isn't There a List of Words Good Christians Shouldn't Use?

This is an interesting question. Some Christians don't like people using the term "crap", some Christians don't like people using the term "sh#t", some Christians don't like people using the term "poop". Then we have which terms can one use for your gluteus maximus? Can you use the term "ass" or "butt" or is "bum" or "hiney" only allowable? Some don't like people using the term "frick" or "frack" or whatever, the point is the list could be so outrageous that one could never express themselves without being condemned to hell...errr...that fiery place...for using them. Isn't there some sort of list in the Bible that we can all follow so that we can just get along? Here is the real issue that most don't know. The use of particular terms is a grey area, not a black and white issue. And, the issue is NOT which terms, but in the intent behind the term.

I was having coffee with Mike Gunn, the founding pastor and one of the preaching pastors at my new church, and he brought this up to me.

Jesus, himself, had a list of words, okay, only one word, that you were never allowed to use. He even said that if you use it that you would be guilty of the fiery hell. And with this he proves that lists of specific terms are not good enough, but their intent is far more important to the one using words to express themselves.

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
Matthew 5:22

Jesus tells us that if you express yourself by calling your brother a fool, you are guilty enough of fiery hell. At first glance, this looks like Christ has just made a list for us to follow, to put in your fake leather bible cover right next to the bookmark with Psalm 42 written on it. Case closed, done. I can add that word with other words that are naughty. Then as you read your computerized Bible reading plan for a year, you come across this word again. You see that it is used, and you say, "well, that person is destined for hell because they used the term that Jesus said not to."

It comes in Matthew 23:17

“You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?"

But, wait, there must have been a printing error, because this verse is in red.

If it's in red, then Jesus said it. So, we have a predicament here. Either Jesus is a sinner and is not our Saviour, or there is something deeper in what Christ meant in Matthew 5:22.

What Christ is trying to get to in this passage is the intent of the heart and what it is set on. Christ continues to point us to the real gospel truth of the fact that he wants our heart, not merely our outside works. The real sin that is presented here is not merely calling someone a fool, but the intent behind the accusation. This term, when used for an actual accusation is pretty strong. In the Septuagint, it is also used in Isaiah 32:5,6

No longer will the fool be called noble,
Or the rogue be spoken of as generous.
For a fool speaks nonsense,
And his heart inclines toward wickedness:
To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord,
To keep the hungry person unsatisfied
And to withhold drink from the thirsty.
Isaiah 32:5-6

You can see the strength in this term. But you can also see why Christ, in the context he was in with the Pharisees, used the term for them. He wasn't unrighteously angry, he was trying to get to their hearts and this term would definitely suffice. Using this term for accusation purposes because one has unrighteous anger in their heart is where the sin is, not in the term itself.

How does this look today?

I use terms that would constitute the same exact leanings and consequences. I call some friends "dumb asses" when we are kidding around. I have also used the term in an honest evaluation of someone when they are being a dumb, stubborn ass and need correction. I have also used the term when it has been in the wrong context, with the wrong people and I considered to be a sin because I didn't take into consideration of those listening.

Some will have the term "ass" on their list of words not to use. That is completely fine and I have friends that would fit into this category. I will not use the term around them as I am concerned for them and not with my freedom to use such a term. So, is it the term that is bad, or is it the context and culture that I am in? What we find with Christ, it is the context, culture and intent...not the actual word. The only time it is the actual word is if you personally have your conscience set against it and then you use the term.

I will do another post on this subject to get to the heart of these verses:

and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
Ephesians 5:4

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
Titus 2:6-8

We will really hit some different passages to see what Paul is trying to put forth here. Again, if people were to put Jesus to the same test that they put others, their testing would find Jesus guilty of sin. That is dangerous footing and one I will hopefully open up for discussion so that we can get to the true heart of the matter.

Because I, as sure as hell, don't want you going to hell.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prodigal Son: Part I

I spoke yesterday at a local private high school about the Prodigal Son. I was heavily influenced by The Prodigal God sermons by Keller. I didn't read the book that followed but I can tell you that if it was anything like the sermon series, it will really open your eyes to idolatry, community and gospel vs religion. This is a loose transcript of what I preached for the first week. I will preach again next week at their chapel and will put that up when I have it available. I am not sure if they record their chapels, I don't think they do, but if they do I will make the audio available as well. I am leaving out my opening comments and intro for the sake of space. I am already going to have a long post with this and know that most of you won't read the whole thing. It was truly a priviledge to share this with the group of students and teachers and I am excited to finish up next week.

One of the things I did try to accomplish in my opening was this fact that I stated:

My goal is not to make you a better student, it’s not to make you a better son or daughter, it isn’t to make you a better brother or sister, it isn’t to make you a better Christian, it isn't to make you a better person and it is not to make you a Christian if you are not yet. My goal is to show you the glory of God through the grace and forgiveness found in the cross of Christ.

First, read the parable: Luke 15:11-35


What is interesting is the impact of this short story that is told to us by Jesus. Even those who rarely or have never read a Bible have heard of the story and many have adapted it to be used in culture.

For instance:

Shakespeare borrowed the story and adapted it into the making of the Merchant of Venice and Henry IV

Famous ballets and operas have used it and adapted it for their culture’s enjoyment

The world’s greatest art museum’s have many renditions of the story, the most noted being Rembrandt

And bands such as U2 have even written songs about it.

We hear words and imagery borrowed from the story such as calling a child that has been defiant, a prodigal son or daughter, sometimes people speak of “killing the fatted calf”, “feeding on husks” or “riotous living”.

So, although this story is quite old, it is another instance when we can see that our God transcends and his word is timeless.

Now, what you will notice as we look to this parable, this comes in a string of parables that actually started back in verse 1 of this chapter.

The crowd listening to Jesus is very interesting…it is composed of both the righteous people of their day, which were the Pharisees and scribes who loved to make up rules believing one must follow them as a means of God's grace and also the sinners of their day, which were made up of tax collectors and prostitutes. Today modern Pharisees would be anyone who has extra biblical lists and rules one has to follow in order to be mature and saved in Christ. They usually look down at others and love to make others follow their rules in order to be accepted. These rules could be anything from what one must wear to church to how long one must study their bible each day.

The sinners would be made up of such people as drug dealers, prostitutes, homosexuals, murderers and felons. This is the group gathered around Jesus. So just imagine the Pharisees staring at the ugly sinners in disbelief that Christ would ever engage them. Imagine what you would think or say if you saw your pastor hanging out with prostitutes, drug dealers, drunks, homosexuals and known murderers. Imagine what you would think if a friend brought to church a prostitute or a known drug dealer…what would your first response be? This might give you some insight into which category you would have been in if you were to gather near Jesus the day he told this parable. We’ll get into that later.

So, this parable is the last of the three parables concerning things which were lost and the great joy when they are found. The first is about a lost sheep, which is too dumb to know that it is lost or how to get back to it’s shepherd (which we are called in other parts of the gospels…pretty uplifting in it’s own sense), the second is about a lost coin being sought out by it’s owner, notice the coin has no faculties that would cause it to know it was lost or any capabilities to return to it’s owner. The last is where we will focus. The lost Son. Not only does the Son have the capabilities to know he is lost, he is the one that decided to leave and be seen as dead to his family. In each one of these parables, the theme is clear. God redeems or finds that which is lost for His glory and with great joy.

The Prodigal Son

And He said, “A man had two sons.
“The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them.
Luke 15:11-12

This, to us, might not seem that bad to us at first. The young man was simply asking for his estate, what is the big deal? Before we get into the details, let me read you a news story that happened a couple of months ago in South Carolina:

The son of a 68-year-old Eastway Park man beat his napping father to death with a hammer on Friday, then stole $4,000 from a safe at his father’s house to go on a cocaine-fueled party spree, according to officials and warrants. “He partied all weekend long with the blood money from his father,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday. “He murdered his father for a couple of rocks of crack.” The son, Robert Dickerson, has been charged with the murder and armed robbery of his father, Charles Dickerson, as his father slept in his bed Friday afternoon, Lott said. The body lay in bed in a pool of blood for two days until another son came by Sunday morning. Robert Dickerson has made a signed confession, Lott said. The charges against Dickerson — murder and armed robbery — potentially make him eligible for the death penalty. Lott said this is one of the worst cases he has seen because it involves a son brutally killing his father with premeditation. The sheriff said Robert Dickerson brought the hammer to his father’s house, then washed it off after the killing and took it and the cash with him when he left to go on his binge. From the first, investigators believed someone close to Dickerson killed him, in part because there were no signs of forced entry, Lott said. Charles Dickerson had lived in his neat, single-story house off Bluff Road for more than 40 years, neighbors said Lott sketched this scenario: On Friday, Robert Dickerson came by his father’s house, and his father gave him $20 to get them some beer. “Instead, Robert went and bought some crack cocaine,” Lott said. “He smoked it and decided he wanted some more crack.” Returning to his father’s house with a hammer, Robert beat his father “in the head numerous times,” then washed his hands and stole cash out of a safe at the bottom of his dad’s bedroom closet, Lott said. Crack dealers in the Bluff Road area near Eastway Park “just swarmed around” the son when he returned with his father’s cash, Lott said. The son at first lied to investigators about whether he had killed his father, but confessed after two days of questioning, Lott said. Officials have no other suspects. Robert Dickerson said he had some anger issues about his father dating back to childhood, but Lott declined to elaborate.

Now, you might ask, “What does this story have to do with the Prodigal Son?”

The problem with reading the biblical text is that there is a lot of cultural aspects to it that we don’t understand. Although, in the context that Jesus is speaking, they all understood and why, in the end, the Pharisees (and the elder brother) get so upset about it.

We see in the news headline from South Carolina that the son kills his father for money so that he can go squander it and live out his sinful lifestyle.

In the context in which Christ is speaking this is exactly what the younger son was doing. He was telling his father…I want you dead and all I want from you is my money that you owe me for my inheritance.

And you also have to realize that this isn’t like today when most of our money is easily accessible. The wealth of the family was tied up in land and in cattle. So much so that to describe the wealth of the Lord Psalm 50 tells us:

“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
The cattle on a thousand hills.
“I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
Psalm 50:10-11

The most disgusting thing about this is that since the younger son knows how rich his dad is, and that it isn’t easily accessible, he uses a term that is different than the normal inheritance. The term he uses is a term that is normally used for “life” it is actually the term “bios” where we get the term biology, which means the study of life. As we look at the father, we’ll see what this impact meant as he had to give his life for his son to have a chance to return to him and live.

By doing this, he is wishing his father dead and himself to be out of the family. He wants to be considered dead to the family. He desires it so much that he gives up all securities within, not only the family, but the village and the people of Israel so that he could simply leave and live how he desires.

So, even me telling you that it is like you telling your parents that you want your inheritance, it doesn’t match up completely…it is more like the murder of the parent in the news story.

Conversely, the prodigal Son would have been considered dead to the family. In Middle Eastern thought in the time of Christ, it was the duty of the Father to strike the boy across the face, and then mentally and physically abuse the child throughout the town until he departed the city gates. Afterwards, they would then have a funeral for the child who decided he was better off on his own, than with his family.

So, we see that the Prodigal Son, wishes his father dead, takes what is his and leaves to live out the life he believes is good to him. He is showing that he does not care for his father, but he cares for his father’s things. He is showing that he is truly an idolater. His idolatry runs so deep that he must get what he wants so that he can be free to do what he wants. This is what we call relativism. The son decides he wants to do what he finds desirous to him, instead of living under the rule and governance of his father. We do the same if we live for our desires, instead of God's desires.

(verse 13) “And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.
“Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
“So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
“And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.

At this point in the story, I am sure you are thinking, “this kid is an idiot.” I know this is a bit childish, but he sounds a bit like Pinocchio when he decides to leave Gepetto and go and party at Pleasure Island, where he starts to gamble, smoke, getting drunk and destroying Pleasure Island.

The Prodigal literally throws his money away on what he feels is his pleasure. What he enjoys instead of what his father has pointed to him as good.

We see this actually happening in an earlier story that is told to us. This happens with Adam and Eve. They have been given the joy of the Garden of Eden where all there cares are taken care of, where the joy of God is in their midst, but instead of enjoying God, they want to make themselves an idol and rise above God, so they eat of the fruit. Adam and Eve, like the Prodigal Son, believe that their pleasures, are going to bring them more joy, happiness and comfort than God can. What they find is death. What they find is separation from God. What they find is misery compared to the Garden.

What is interesting about the commands of God is that they aren’t set up to make you miserable, they are set up so that you can obtain the greatest joy in your life.

I was telling this to my 6 year old. I was making sure he understood why we have rules in the house. To make my point made known I simply asked him, “Do you know why daddy has rules?” He of course was clueless. I said, “I tell you not to play in the road, not because I hate you, but because I love you and I don’t want you to get hit by a car.” I said, “all the rules your mother and I place in this house are just as that one is….they are made so that you can live with the greatest joy in your life and you can give the greatest joy to others.

This is what God does for us. He tells you not to be drunk with alcohol for a reason, he tells you not to have sex before marriage for a reason, he tells you not to lie for a reason…it isn’t because he hates you, it is because he loves you.

Getting drunk is cool, until you wake up with a hangover. Then you realize how much of a moron you were.

So, when you look at the Prodigal living how he believes he desires, instead of how his father desires, ask yourself, “In which ways do I live my life where I am most glorified, instead of God being most glorified?”

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!
‘I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.” ’

Here is where we see the Prodigal Son’s repentance. The verse starts with the boy coming to his senses. Why? Why does the boy come to his senses? We don’t know what finally triggered it, but we do see that it came through pain. He states that he is dying of hunger.

I know that some of you have used this term with your parents, telling them, “Mom, I am starving…hook me up with some food.” But, here the Prodigal is literally dying of hunger. He finally sees that the happiness that came with living on his own terms came with great pain of being separated from his Father’s joy. Here that joy is shown through being hungry. The boy finally realizes how hungry he truly is and how much he wants to be with his father again.

Many times you will come to your senses through pain in this life. You will be living in your sin, whether it is lying, stealing, cheating, etc. For whatever reason, you will one day, come to your senses. Most of the time with us, it is because of the punishment we are starting to incur, which then will show us if are truly repentant or not.

Here is how you know if you are truly repentant, or if you are merely tired of being in pain. Because there is a difference. There is a difference in hating your sin, hating the fact that you lie, or hating that you keep getting caught in your sin and getting detention or grounding from your parents and school.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

You see there are two types of repentance. One will lead you to salvation, and the other will lead you to death.

One is a repentance that is sorrowful of the sin and impact it has on God and the other is a repentance because you keep getting caught or simply want to stop the pain of your sin.

Stephen Charnock, the great puritan says this: a legalistic conviction of sin arises out of God’s justice but a gospel conviction of sin arises out of a sense of God’s goodness

Meaning this: one repentance comes about because one is scared of the wrath of God and what he will bring to them because they sinned. A gospel centered conviction says that they have sinned against a compassionate and good God who has the attitudes and relationship as a friend and loving parent.

One repents because they are merely scared of consequences, another repents because they broke the heart of their God who died for them.

Notice this comes about in the Prodigal Son. He is coming to his senses and notice what he is going to say to his father:

“Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;
I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men

Tim Keller says, "notice that it is first vertical and then horizontal." He first says that he sinned against heaven. This is quite odd, don’t you think? It’s like you hitting your brother in the face and first saying sorry to God while your brother is sitting there crying because you just hit him in the face. But it is correct repentance.

When you sin, you must first understand that you broke the heart of God and he is supreme and should be the most important one in your life. With the Prodigal Son, our first response usually has been, why is he not first saying sorry to the family he ripped apart? It was they who he wished were dead, whom he robbed and disgraced. But, if he only repented to them, he would be showing he truly didn’t understand repentance.

King David does the same thing after he has sex with another man’s wife and then sends him out to the front lines of war to be killed. Instead of saying sorry to the man’s family and to the wife that he stole, he says this to God:

Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
Psalm 51:4

Godly repentance that leads to life, happens when one realizes the depth of his sin and hates it because it breaks God’s heart, not merely because you are tired of being caught.

I have a 6 and 3 year old. My 6 year old a couple of years ago told his mom that he hated her.

He said this because he didn’t like the fact that he was getting disciplined for his sin. When we were speaking to him we were trying to convey the depth of the sin to his mom’s heart. As a child, he said sorry because he didn’t want a spanking, but was not understanding that he truly hurt his mother’s feelings.

Because of this, he has said many other things that hurt our feelings when he thought we weren’t listening. Why did he now do it while he thought we weren’t listening? Because he didn’t care that he hurt us deeply, he just didn’t want to get in trouble for what he was saying.

What does your repentance look like? Is it more like my 6 year olds? Or is it like the Prodigal Son’s?

Why should you care?

We’ll actually see next week that the Prodigal’s first response in his repentance is self atonement and we’ll compare that to religion vs gospel…but this week I want to end with simply, “why should you care?” You are between the ages of 13 and 18…why should you care how you repent? Why shouldn’t you merely avoid trouble and pain at this point in your life?

The simple reason is eternal and it will impact your joy. Your joy will be most full when your life is hid with Christ. When your identity isn’t found in your grades, in your family, in your sports, in your art, in your status, or in your friends, but in Christ you are free to lose all those things, and still be joyful because your identity is in Christ and not in those things.

This doesn’t mean if you hate Jesus, your life will be living in a pig pen like the Prodigal Son’s, but what it does mean is that your life and your identity is like pig slop compared to the joy and identity found in Christ.

Tim Keller once said, “Answer this question, “If I lose X, then I will be miserable. If X isn’t Christ, you have an idol” The Prodigal Son’s Idol was his father’s money.

What is it for you?

The great thing about this story is that Christ is the greater Prodigal. He is the perfect fulfillment of the Prodigal Son’s misery and failures.

The term Prodigal means a reckless extravagant consumer. This, in some light, is what Christ was for you. He recklessly gave up his extravagant life and bought you with a price.

The reason you should desire to repent is because of the hurt you cause your Father in Heaven and what the Son was for you.

You are just like the Prodigal, if you live for self and not for God…if you live for grades, sports, art, family or friends. But, Christ became the perfect Prodigal for us, so we could live for him instead.

Just like the Prodigal, Jesus left the comforts of heaven to become one of us. Unlike the Prodigal this was the will of His Father and not against his Father’s will.

Just like the Prodigal he was friends to sinners and prostitutes, unlike the Prodigal Jesus did not join in their sin.

Unlike the Prodigal, Jesus didn’t come to his senses, he always had them and he made the decision to come down to us and rescue us from the pig slop.

Here is the crux in the story though. Jesus, died and he took upon our sin, so that the Prodigal could come to his senses and live. Jesus gave his righteousness to the dirty prodigal who sinned abundantly and Jesus died as though the Prodigal’s sins were his own.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

1 Peter 3:18

When the Prodigal calls out to his father and returns to him, the Father clothes him and welcomes him. But, our Christ was stripped of his clothes and put up on the cross and when he called out to his Father, he was forsaken.

You see today isn’t about guilting you into repentance. It isn’t about you being a better person.

It is about you realizing that you are the idolatrous Prodigal Son who has traded the goodness and comforts of the father to follow your own ways. But, today, you can turn to Christ and start a life of repentance because you do not merely want to avoid pains and trouble, but because you don’t want to break the heart of the one who traded his righteousness for your sin, he died, so that you may live.

You start a life of repentance that understands that you have first sinned against heaven and your God that made you and loves you.

If you have already realized this, praise God, continue to dig deeper into the depths of the gospel and live a life of repentance. Next week, we will put those of us who are professed Christians into the spotlight, making sure that we do not become the elder brother.

For this week ask yourself:

If I lost X, I would be crushed…what is X for you?

Why do I repent and ask for forgiveness?

Is God good enough? Or do I want God’s things more than I want God?

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Plastic Jesus

Thanks to Erik over at Irish Calvinist for this video. I used to say a lot of the things in this video and still am trying to strip my thinking from Jesus being a genie and "out there" somewhere, to Jesus being my righteousness and his desire is to be with me right where I am.

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