Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lesson's Learned in Public Enemis: Radical Depravity

I mentioned in Yesterday's post that I would be drawing some spiritual applications from a secular, non-fiction book I recently read called Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough. I do not think that any of the conclusions I draw will be particularly new to anyone. The Bible is clear about most of these insights. You could read about anyone of them from the millions upon millions of Christian books available. Yet, I treasure my findings. The book made me think. Through real life examples, theological truths I know to be true came alive within the pages of a book. I learned something.

Let's get started.

Public Enemiesis is about 600 pages of the true-life account of America's first, and greatest, "war on crime." The Author strips away layers of myths and tells the full story of the birth J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. He describes the two year battle between Hoover's band of Special Agents and famous criminals such as John Dillinger, Machine gun Kelly, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and the Barker Gang. Burrough tells this story in a way that is both intriguing and enlightening. It reads much like a fiction book, but is filled with the factual account of what actually happened. This book was given rave review, became a bestseller, and it was even made into a major motion picture.

I was surprised at how this book drew me in right from the start and kept my attention throughout. Along the way I learned about a subject that was originally completely foreign to me. In addition, I was able to draw many spiritual conclusions and applications from this book. It would be difficult for me to describe all of them, so I chose the three insights that were proven over and over again. I will be spreading these out over three blog posts.

The first conclusion that can be clearly seen throughout the book relates to the depravity of man. The Bible is absolutely clear on the condition of man. All people are born dead in their sins and under the wrath of God (Ephesians 2). In addition, there is not a single one who is righteous in the eyes of God (Romans 3). Even our best works are like filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 64:6). We do not even seek after God. We don't want anything to do with the True Creator God. This does not mean that we are all as bad as we can be, but it does mean that as far as God is concerned, we are not able to do anything that pleases God (Romans 7:18, Romans 8:8, Hebrews 11:6).

Public Enemies gave me a real, historical example of that. You do not have to read the book long, before you see examples of man's utter sinfulness. After all, the book is full of the accounts of some of the greatest criminal masterminds of the early 30's.

The Depravity of man is seen almost immediately with the criminals. Within the first chapter, the readers learn of the largest robbery of the 1920's: a mail train robbery. The train was passing through Roundout, Illinois when criminals made out with $2 million. In addition, one of Burrough's first points is that behind bars criminals are supposed to going through "rehabilitation," but they are actually learning how to become more skillful criminals. Soon, it was no longer robbing banks, but it was kidnapping and murder. Stolen and ransomed money would be used for prostitution, gambling, and partying.

Perhaps one of the most striking instances in the book is after John Dillinger kills someone for the first time. In the public's eye's, Dillinger was more of a Robin Hood figure than a criminal mastermind. The public loved Dillinger's charm and personality. In early 1934, Dillinger Robbed the First National Bank near Eastern Chicago. The robbery itself went well for Dillinger. Burrough comments that he, "performed like a hungry actor on a brightly lit stage." When Dillinger walked in and yelled, "This is a stick-up," the customers raised their hands and lined up against the wall. One forgot his cash on a counter and Dillinger said, "You go ahead and take your money. We don't want your money. Just the bank's." One can see why the public might view him favorably with lines like that! By the time Dillinger was ready to leave the bank, a group of police officers had formed outside. A forty-three year old detective named Patrick O'Malley shot Dillinger in his bulletproof vest. In a rare loss of temper, Dillinger fired back. The bullets from his submachine gun tore through the detective. The policemen fell dead on the side walk with eight bullet holes across his chest. He was a father of three.

The killing would weight on Dillinger's mind for the rest of his life. However, this had less to do with his guilt over murdering and more to do with his own sense of self and his public image. Dillinger would continue to deny the killing to lawyers, lawmen, and even friends. Several times, he volunteered his denial to complete strangers. Burrough comments, "At the heart of his appeal, Dillinger knew, was his joshing Robin Hood Spirit, the sense people had that he was a regular guy making the best of hard times. Dillinger didn't want to be the bad guy." This was an astounding statement for me to read. Dillinger didn't necessarily feel guilty over the murder. Rather, he wanted to protect his unique public image as a "friendly neighborhood bank robber."

One thing I know from evangelism is that everyone wants to answer, "Would you consider yourself a good person?" with a resounding, "YES!" Even for a murderous, bank robbing, kidnapper this was true. Dillinger cared more about glory, praise, and adoration than human life and perhaps even money. He was a depraved, radically sinful human being.

And he wasn't the only one. The "good guys" weren't as good as we would suspect. The FBI would be the heroes in the war on crime. But their own depravity was brought to light throughout the book. Whether it be the special agents use of torture to extract information from victims (some women, some who weren't even connected to the respective cases), Marvin Purvis' pride and glory-obsessed media exposures, or Herbert Hoover's lie-filled efforts to paint the Bureau in a favorable light, the FBI weren't the heroes they were cracked up to be. Let me give one example.

Herbert Hoover was the man behind the Bureau. He was the fearless leader. The FBI, in fact, was his baby. In many ways, he created it. One of the unfortunate myths that came from the War on Crime was started by none other than Hoover himself. The myth centered around a lonely lady named Ma Barker. She was the mother of several members of the Barker game. She was killed when a group of FBI agents fired guns at a house she was in for over an hour. Fred Barker and Ma Barker were killed sometime during the gun spraying. Fred Barker was a stone-cold killer and thief. His death would bring little criticism. Ma Barker, on the other hand, was an estranged and lonely lady who spent her last few years putting puzzles together. She had no criminal record. There is zero evidence she had anything to do with the Barker Gang's antics. How would the Bureau justify her killing? Soon after the killing, Hoover announced to the world that Ma Barker was the "brains" of the gang. She was the criminal mastermind behind all of the secret plans. Reporters were told that she was found dead with a machine gun in her hands. Hoover said that she was the smartest outlaw they had ever encountered. Reporters went with it, a legend was born, a lie was believed.

These claims are completely unfounded and deceitful. History is written by the victors remember? Burrough asks, "There was no one alive who would come forward to dispute Hoover's fabricated story." This is just one example of the lies, cover-ups, and great lengths Hoover went to in order to advance his precious Bureau. The fact of the matter is that even the good guys, the people we hold dear to our hearts as heroes, were radically depraved as well.

And they aren't the only one. One final example: Me. My sinfulness showed throughout this book. I realized about halfway through the book that I could not decide who to root for. When the good guys lost battles that led to Dillinger escapes because of mistakes the bureau had made, I cheered for Dillinger. I was rooting for the bad guy. I was rooting for a murderer and thief to escape justice. I had to really reevaluate my heart. This is a perfect example of how I can be unjust even while serving a perfectly just Lord.

But thanks be to God! I have Jesus Christ who covers my sinful past, present, and future. He bore my sins in His body. The wrath God has towards my sin was poured out on to Christ. Jesus died in my place. While justice was not always done to the criminals in Public Enemies, God's justice is always perfect. Justice was done for me because Jesus Christ paid my fine. Grace was given to me and I repented and trusted in the Savior. I was once dead in my sin, but God made me alive. You know, at the end of the day not a single one of us is any better off than Dillinger, Hoover, or even Ma Barker. We are radically depraved. Only when we trust in Jesus Christ will justice be met and we will be made alive. God will give us a new heart and we can begin growing to be more like Him. I pray that this is you. Glory to God alone!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Love God with Your Minds

I absolutely love to read. I cannot even begin to describe the importance of reading excellent books from great men of God. God has given us incredible wise teachers and we should take advantage of that. Millions of people have walked this earth before us. While here, they have learned powerful lessons. Here's the cool part: some wrote about those lessons.

Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Men can sharpen one another. Books are from men. Books can sharpen us.

I have read countless Christian books over the past several years. God has used those books to edify and grow me in ways that I cannot even begin to describe. However, a couple of months ago I needed a break. No, I did not need a break from edification and spiritual growth. God help me if I ever need a break from that. Rather, I needed a break from Christian books.

Let me explain so as not to be misunderstood. Since coming to college, I realized that I love to learn. I love it. In fact, it pleases God for us to learn. I believe we are disobedient when we are not learning. God gave us a brain for a specific reason. He gave us a brain so that we could glorify Him with that brain. Mark 12:29-30 tells us that one of the ways we love the Lord our God is with our minds. I think it is unfortunate that Christians do not realize that one of the ways in which we love God is by learning. Donald Whitney says, "God is glorified when we use the mind he made to learn of Him, His ways, His Word, and His world."

In our culture, we have unfortunately overemphasized experience, heart, and emotions and deemphasized learning. Think about it. The smart students in school have been thought of as "nerds." They are unpopular because they are intelligent. It's the underachievers and class clowns that get the attention.

This sort of thinking has played well with the postmodern church. Often the most popular Churches are the ones where the preacher has humor, stories, and "personality" (whatever that means). Rob Bell is the favorite among my generation. Because of his theology? No, it's because he dresses cool and his sermons tickle the ears. Miller's Blue Like Jazz is adored by many young emergent's, Young's The Shack tells a great story. The theology it teaches is adored because it is shallow and doesn't hurt anyone's feeligns. Grudem's Systematic Theology, though, is too rigid. I don't think I would compare Rob Bell to Joel Osteen, but he fits into this category as well. Joel Osteen certainly does not have good theology. He can tell a good joke at the beginning of his sermons and make you feel happy though.

Theology and doctrine are just not relevant to American "Christians." Do you really go to Church to learn? Even among those who would not follow Rob Bell's Postmodernism or Joel Osteen's Prosperity Gospel, many Church goers simply do not go to actually learn. They go to make sure the Pastor doesn't say anything that will upset them. They go to mark it off their check lists. They go because they have always gone. Richard Foster says: "[Christians] may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties and still they are not changed…. Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study."

What is the point I am making? Recall the quote I used from Whitney earlier. He also says, "A biblically balanced Christian has both a full head and a full heart, radiating both spiritual light and heat." In other words, heart is absolutely important within Christianity. But without the head, it is often dangerous and ignorant. If we want to be faithful followers of Christ, we must use the head that God has given us and learn. We need to learn about theology. We need to study the Bible. We need to know the proper way of interpreting it. We must understand the context in which it was written. We need to know how to fight off heresies and false teachers. Proverbs 18:15 says, "The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out." If we want to be discerning, we must have knowledge and we must be wise.

I believe with all my heart that Christians should be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). As a Christian, I want to read much about God, the Gospel, and the Bible. I want to read the Bible and know it with all my heart. It is, after all, God's Word. But I also want to know more about the World and history and science. I want to be able to have intelligent conversations with a wide range of people on a wide range of subjects. As a Christian, I view the world through a very specific lens. Everything- politics, history, science, math, ect.- I view through my Christian, Biblical worldview. I want to learn and apply my worldview to my newfound knowledge and see what God can teach me through that.

It is with that attitude that I took a few months off of reading Christian books in order to read secular books. I wanted to see what spiritual applications I could draw from a wide range of topics. A few days ago, I began reading Christian books again. I thoroughly missed them and have been devouring pages from Christian books since I took them up again. But I have a new desire to implement scheduled times within my calendar to read through various secular books. I just want to learn.


With all of that said, I want to show how spiritual applications can be drawn from secular books. I would like to demonstrate how to read various books from a specific worldview. One of the books I read was a true story called, Public Enemies by Bryan Burrough. The book is about America's Greatest crime wave and the birth of the FBI in the early 1930's. Stay tuned for my next blog post to see how it will work.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Testimony

Well, it has been an extremely busy summer thus far, but I think I am finally getting to a point where I have a bit of time. A couple of months ago, I was humbled and honored by my Church, First Baptist Buffalo, MO ordaining me into the ministry. As part of the service, they asked me to give my testimony. I thought I would post it in order to get it out on the internet in hope that God may use it to further His glory.



I would like to express my great appreciation for all that are here today. A vast majority of you have played a significant role in my life and God has used you to shape and mold who I am today. Over the past four months I have worked hard preparing for tonight. It is honoring and humbling that you are here to play a part in this. I only have about 10 minutes to share with you a lifetime of God's providential hand intervening in my life and so graciously bringing me to a point where He saved me and has since been sanctifying me.

Recently, I read a biography of a man named Mosab Hasan Yosef. You may have heard of this guy. Mosab was born in Palestine to a Muslim family. His father was one of the primary leaders in Hamas, one of the most notorious terrorist cells today. In 1997, at the age of 18, Mosab became a double agent, working for Israel and feeding them massive amounts of information about his father and the terrorist cell he led. In 1999, Mosab had a chance encounter with a British man who invited him to a Bible study. Mosab went to this Bible study, which began a chain of events that over the course of many years that of much inner- turmoil and deep soul searching, he eventually became a Christian. This story, perhaps more than any other story that I have ever read, left me marveling at the great lengths God will go to in order to draw sinners to Himself and reconcile them through the blood of Christ.

I tell you that story for a couple of reasons. First, because Mosab's story, at the surface, is a lot more interesting than my own. The events that God used to draw Mosab to himself are not like mine. My father is an American. He certainly isn't a terrorist; He is a small business owner. And I have never been some double agent secretly feeding the inner workings of my dad's business to the other companies competing against him. So, to some my story might not be all that intriguing. In addition, and I say this hopefully without sounding prideful, I have not only never been drunk, but I haven't even tasted alcohol. By God's grace, I have a pure relationship with my girlfriend. So in the world's eyes, I would be considered, and have been considered for a while now, "a good kid."

But I know differently than the World. While Mosab's story perhaps demonstrates God's relentless pursuit of His elect much better than my own story does, I know that God, because of His satisfying, merciful love for us, went to great lengths to draw me to Himself as well. Just as I marveled at God when I read Mosab's story, I also marvel at the incredible things God has done in my life as well, especially when I think about how God has been providentially working in my life.

The Beginning Conversion

At 10 years old, I was attending an Awana service at First Baptist Church. On that night, I heard and believed I was a sinner. It was the first time I realized that Christianity was more than just going to church, I realized not everyone was automatically a Christian. I had always believed in Heaven, but that night I realized that Hell was real and sinners deserved to go there. So this was the first pivotal moment in God's pursuit of me. In fact, the date of this event was written in the Bible I used at the time, right next to a note about Pizza at Locomotion. I don't remember the pizza and locomotion, but I remember that night.

As I got older, I got involved in an incredible youth group. I did the Church camp thing and the mission trip thing. I loved church and my Youth Group. My Youth Pastor proclaimed Truth. By God's grace I stayed away from the quote-unquote "big sins" though my parents will be the first to tell you that I was disobedient, told lies, disrespected them, among other things. While I led Bible Studies, taught a Sunday school class and did many "churchy things," God was still pursuing me.


Perhaps the most significant thing happened in 9th Grade when I began to realize that God didn't just want my trust, but he wanted my life. It was during this time that I surrendered to vocational ministry.

Over the next few years as I planned my steps, God directed my path as the Proverb says and God soveriegnly brought me to SBU. It was within my first year at SBU that my life began to dramatically change. During the past few years God's relentless pursuit has been most evident. Within my first year of college, God used an organization called the Way of the Master to show me that I wasn't just a generic "sinner." I realized that I was a wretched law breaker. I began to understand the magnitude of the countless lies I had spoken, the disobedience to my parents, even the few instances where I used God's name as a cuss word. It was during this time that I realized that Jesus saw lust as adultery in the heart and hatred as murder in the heart. I began to see myself as God saw me: A wretched lying, thieving, adulterous murderer….who disobeyed his parents.

While all of this was going on, I was sitting in Bible classes everyday where I was beginning to better understand God's Word on a personal and scholarly level. The Holy Spirit brought God's Words to life.

This was also the time I became a nerd and started playing sermons in my truck instead of music. I discovered men of God such as John MacArthur, John Piper, Paul Washer, Al Mohler and others, all of whom I thank God for. As a result of these things, I began to understand the true significance of the word "repentance." I realized that out of all the "Christian" things I did in High school, I forgot a big component of the Christians life- I had forgotten to repent! I cannot remember one time that I actually turned away from a habitual sin. Through these men, I learned that God commands us to repent, to turn from our sins and to turn to Christ because God hates sin.

Also, God brought an amazing lady into my life who is now my Girlfriend. God has given her a gift I hope to develop more fully in my life and that is a sensitivity to sin. The Holy Spirit used her as a means to show me that certain movies and television shows that I watched do not please God. So this began a long, sometimes difficult process, in which the Holy Spirit began purging my life of idols and filth, something that he continues to do.

To top it all off, my father and I began to grow closer together and I began to see an example of a hard working man whom God was graciously sanctifying. I saw a man who truly desires to glorify God with His life.

So through all of these things, and many more I have not described, I began to see that God was providentially causing all of this to happen for a purpose. And that purpose was to sanctify me to further His glory. He began to grow me. God's Word showed me the disgusting nature of sin and how much God detests it. Since then, the Holy Spirit has been continually growing me. For the first time in my life I am able to look back and see a bumpy yet progressively upward line in the sanctification process. I went from believing mere facts to actually being constrained by a sense of the love of God. For that reason I began to consecrate my life to Him.


God gave me a new heart with new desires. My desire became to know His word and further His fame. My love for doctrine has grown and God has opened my eyes to amazing Truths in the bible that, at one point in my life, I would have been appalled at. The past year at Buffalo has been one of the most immensely beneficial years of my life as God has used the preaching of His Word from Tim to grow me in godliness. In addition, it is nearly impossible for me to teach those youth on Wednesday nights and Sunday morning and not learn and grow.

Now up to this point, I have mentioned a lot of names of people who have played significant roles in my life. But as a filthy wretched sinner who was previously dead in his sins, none of the people I have mentioned could have any eternal or spiritual impact on me at all, by themselves. Rather it is only be the grace of God that anybody could have any effect on my stony heart.

The only reason I stand up here tonight, the only reason I have seen any growth and sanctification at all is because 2000 years ago Jesus Christ, fully God fully man, loved mankind enough to come and live a perfect, sinless life. Yet he was hung on a cross where he bore our sins in His body. He took our sins upon Himself and took our punishment. God poured out His wrath upon Jesus even though it was us who deserved it. Jesus, to be obedient to the Father and because his love for us was great, absorbed the wrath for us. He died and paid the penalty of our sins. Three days later He rose from the dead, proving that all He said was true, defeating sin and death forever and guaranteeing the resurrection, sanctification, and glorification of all believers. Christ paid the debt that we owed to God because of our sin. And thus God demands our lives. He demands that we repent and trust in Jesus Christ alone. By God's grace, He regenerated me and I trusted in Him. He gave me a new heart, with new desires. Because of God's mercy in relentlessly pursuing me until I listened, I stand before you tonight realizing that this message should affect the entire World. And I want to play a role, however insignificant, in God's story to further His glory and share His love.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From Kevin DeYoung: Dealing with Disappointment In The Church

Due to an unexpected family emergency last week and, thus, an extremely busy schedule and workload this week, I am finding it hard to post anything. Therefore, I am posting these posts from Kevin DeYoungs blog called, "Dealing with Disappointment in the Church." It is well worth the read for Pastors, elders, leaders, and all church members. If I am caught up by next week, perhaps I will have a new post for you.

Dealing with Disappointment in the Church (1)

Dealing with Disappointment in the Church (2)

Dealing with Disappointment in the Church (3)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Is Good Friday Good?

By Matt Tyler

Earlier this week I got a call from a couple of my family members. These family members are on the side of my family who are not Christians. They had somehow gotten into a discussion about Easter, which ultimately led to Jesus' resurrection. Surprisingly one of them did not know the True meaning of Easter. This caused them to call me so that I could explain it to them. One of the questions that stuck out to me during this conversation had to do with Good Friday. The question was this: If Good Friday was the day that Jesus died, why do people call it "Good" Friday?

That was an excellent question and was a perfect opportunity for me to be able to share the Gospel. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, experienced the most horrific death in the history of the World. He faced excruciating beatings and torture. A crown of long, thick, sharp thorns was thrust onto His skull. His legs and arms were nailed to a cross in which he faced painful hours of slow suffocation. We've all read the stories that attempt to give us a picture of the kind of death Jesus faced. And for those of us who have been Christians for any length of time we have heard Pastors, teachers, and fellow believers explain that the most difficult part wasn't necessarily the physical nature of Jesus' painful death. Rather, Jesus, the perfect lamb, bore our sins in His body and thus experienced broken fellowship from His Father. God the Father poured out the full fury of His wrath upon Jesus Christ as punishment for our sins.

So what is 'good' about that? Many in the world would not see this as good at all. In fact, many take the stance that this is a form of "cosmic child abuse," to quote Steve Chalke's famous line. Indeed, even among professed Christians, some would argue that this message of the Cross is "harsh" and, therefore, they choose to take the focus off of the cross altogether.

On one hand the message of the cross is very harsh. The Cross shows us how serious our sin is. Our sin results in death and hell. In order to be redeemed and have our sins forgiven, we need God to step in and take our place and punishment. We needed Jesus to be our ransom! Apparently, it was so harsh that it caused Jesus to be in such agony that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Moreover, Jesus tells the disciples that this will be a time of great suffering for Him (Luke 22:15).

On the other hand the message of the cross is very good. In fact, it is the harshness of the cross, that makes Good Friday so good. It was Jesus Christ alone and the work that He alone did that bought us forgiveness of sins and Eternal life. No one else could have done this! Wayne Grudem explains the necessity of Jesus' suffering on the cross, "If Jesus was going to accomplish the work that the Father sent him to do, and if people were going to be redeemed for God, it was necessary for him to die on the cross." Luke says something similar in his Gospel: "was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory (Luke 24:26)?"

We take this for granted, so please understand this: There was no other way for God to save us than for Christ to die in our place. It is only the blood of Christ that would be able to really take away our sins (Hebrews 9:25-26). The harsh truth of the matter is that sin must be punished. One of the penalties for our sins is suffering. Christ took that suffering upon Himself. Think of the pain he must have felt from the pure agony of the cross. Now multiply that with the realization that Jesus was perfect and therefore hated sin with his entire being- and yet he bore our sins. Add to this the fact that He was abandoned by friends( Mathew 26:56) and even God (Matthew 27:46). Once again multiply this by the fact that He bore the wrath of God upon Himself. Grudem, again, helps explain this, "Jesus became the object of the intense hatred of sin and vengeance against sin that God had patiently stored up since the beginning of the World."

I could go on. The point is this: Good Friday is good because it is in the death of Christ that we find the only way to be reconciled to God, forgiven of our sins, and Eternal Life. We deserve eternal torment in Hell as penalty for our sins. But God has made the only way for us to be forgiven, when we repent and trust in Christ, and it is all because of that Friday 2,000 years ago. You've heard this before, but don't miss it. That is not good news. That is spectacular, wonderful, amazing (I don't have the words) news. Let's rename Good Friday. It is now called Spectacular, Wonderful, Amazing Friday.

I have posted this song on here before, but I am going to do it again. It is powerful.

The Power of the Cross
By Keith and Kristyn Getty

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.


On a slightly different note: Preach the WORD this weekend. Tell people what Good Friday and Easter are truly about!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hosanna in His Lowest

By: Mitch Lynn

The phrase “Triumphal Entry” says it all. Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, just as the prophet Zechariah had predicted—“say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” I used to picture Jesus coming into Jerusalem like Prince Ali in Aladdin, with elephants dancing and monkeys breakdancing to ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus. I mean, what isn’t great about the crowd laying down palm branches and even their garments as they shout “Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest”? So why on a day when I should be joyous and celebrating am I feeling sad, and a tad depressed? It is because this was NOT a high point for Jesus. In fact, Luke explains that this is one of the lowest points in Jesus’ life: ‘as He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it’. Take away the music, the elephants, and the pop-locking monkeys, and what do you have? Picture a Jewish carpenter sitting on a donkey, His worn feet dragging on dirt and rocks, weeping over an unrepentant city. As this man enters the city people are celebrating something, but not Him. ‘When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, Who is this? The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee’. 3 years of ministry and not even his disciples understood (John 12:16). Jesus entered the city distressed and upset. Those who screamed “Hosanna, hosanna!” cried out , “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”five days later. The disciples that followed Him 3 long years will soon betray Him. The ones that claim to have loved Him will deny they ever knew Him. As the crowd shouted “Hosanna in the highest,” I can imagine Jesus sitting on that smelly donkey, weeping over the sin of humanity.

So as we wave our palm branches and sing ‘Hosanna Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest’, remember that our sin is the reason He was put on that cross on that Good Friday, and it was our sin that struck the nails, and we are the reason he needed to die.

Father, thank you for your Son. Forgive us, for we know not what we do.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

My Difficult Mission Trip

"Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life." Mark 10:29-30

Jesus says that anyone who leaves his family behind for His sake and for the Gospel will receive a hundredfold now in this time and in eternity. But what of someone who goes to his family for Christ's sake and for the Gospel? I think the same principle holds true.

Without going into too much detail into my personal family life, I will soon be going to visit my mother, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and others for five days. This side of my family are unbelievers. This has been a huge burden for me growing up and, while I have had opportunities to share and have done so, this is the first time that I am going with an intent to share the Gospel.

The past two years have been a huge growing time for me. I have always had a realization that Christians MUST verbally share their faith, but only in the past couple of years have I truly come to understand that significance and applied it to my life.

Today I will be going on the single most difficult mission trip of my life. My intent is to verbally share the Gospel with my family as well as be a light with my actions. I ask for your prayers over the course of the next five days- that God would regenerate and awaken and break stony, hard hearts; that my family will repent of their sins and believe the Gospel of Christ; and that God would be glorified.

Please pray that I have courage to witness. I love sharing the Gospel. But sharing the Gospel with your family can be difficult, challenging, and complicated. However, souls are on the line and I can do nothing else but preach the Word in season and out of season.

Oh God, help me. Oh God, save them. Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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