Saturday, July 12, 2014

"If the World Hates you"

John 15:18-25 says:
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates me hates my Father also.
If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'

The world hated Jesus and still does hate Jesus.  They are okay with their idea of Jesus but not the Jesus who makes demands on their lives.  As soon as we speak about Jesus and his demands the world will hate us as well.  Why would we think otherwise?  We should not go out into the world to try and be hated.  Many Christians think jerk is a spiritual gift.  But the only way we can avoid the hatred of the world is if we avoid Jesus.  The world will hate us because we claim to have the truth.  They will hate us because we claim to have the only way to salvation.  The world will hate us because we claim to know the only way to eternal life.  But this is why we need to rest in the reality that "all authority has been given to Christ" because those are not our claims but rather the claims of Jesus himself.  Jesus said, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.  No one comes to the Father but through me" (John 14:6).  The world hated when Jesus made those claims and they will hate us for telling them the words of Christ.  We live in a tolerant society that seems to tolerate everything except exclusive claims or better yet exclusive truth. But if we avoid the truth of Jesus then we truly are not one of his disciples.  

The world also hates the teaching of Jesus because it reveals their sinfulness.  I believe this is why kids who grow up in church hate Christianity more than those who don't grow up in church.  They have heard the teaching of Jesus but have continued to reject Christ.  The more of the Bible they hear the more aware they are of their guilt so they suppress the truth through hatred.  Jesus says, "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse."  The weight of sin either brings us to repentance or produces more hatred.  But as you can see we have a responsibility in this passage to speak the truth about sin.  We must tell people about their slavery to sin and the freedom they can find in Christ.  

John continues recording the words of Jesus in chapter 16:1-4:
"I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away.
They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.
And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.
But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. The Work of the Holy Spirit "I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

16:1-4 - Jesus tells these things to his disciples to warn them but also because he loves them and knows how they will be treated.  We see his love down in chapter 16:1 when he says, "I have said these things to you to keep you from falling away."  I love you and I want you to be aware of the cost of following me but it will be worth it.  Then just imagine sitting in the upper room with Jesus and hearing him say to you, "They will put you out of the synagogues.  Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God."  When?  What about if?  "When" indicates it is going to happen.  The disciples in the upper room that night knew what road they were to travel.  All but 3 (John, James the Less, Judas) of the disciples in the room that night were martyred.  

Are willing to die for Christ?  I imagine in the safety of a church building we would all answer yes.  But I would encourage you all to examine your heart and think about what Jesus is telling us in this passage.  Being his disciple will cost you your life maybe even your physical life.  I often wonder if  my convictions and love for Christ outweigh my love for this world.  It is a good question to ask.  Are you willing to die for Christ?  Jesus told the disciples these things so that when "their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you."  Does this reality scare you?  Does it make you question your love for Christ?  Does it make you anxious?  The good news is Christ will not abandon us.  He will not leave us on our own.  Christ says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9).  

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Letts" it go

I recently read an article by Albert Mohler about Emily Letts.  You may be asking "Emily who?"  Don't worry you will soon here the name. Emily is a 25 year old lady who filmed her abortion and it has gone viral on YouTube.  She recently did an article in Cosmopolitan magazine to talk about her abortion.  Currently she works at a Women's Center as a counselor in New Jersey.  As I read the article my emotions were running all over the place.  I was angry, sad, confused and flat out stunned.  The first words I read from her mouth were, "I feel super good about my abortion." Super good about an abortion?  But the saddest part and most telling part come in her words at the end of the video:

"It is about a month and a half after the procedure.  I feel like I talk to women all the time and of course everyone feels bad about this; everyone's going to feel guilty.  It's given how people should feel about this, that what they're doing is wrong.  I don't feel like a bad person.  I don't feel sad.  I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby.  I can make a life.  I knew that what I was going to do was right, cause it was right for me and no one else.  I just want to share my story."

What do you say to that statement?  I think most would agree something doesn't sound right about her words.  But her statement summarizes our culture's thinking.  She knew it was right because it was right for her.  I was reminded of the line in a very popular song right now feeding into the minds of our children that says:

"No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I'm free"


I get it, this is Frozen we are talking about here.  I've marched around our living room singing this song with my two daughters multiple times.  But I hope we aren't carelessly listening to those words without thinking about what's behind them.  A worldview is being taught loud and clear.  The movies great and the song is very pretty and fun but Elsa's train of thought is not so far away from Letts.  One video portrays an animation of a confused princess while the other a woman proud of taking the life of a baby; but both are clear in saying I am free to do what I want if it is right for me.

The problem with this thinking is there is right and wrong.  We are not free to do whatever we want to do.  Maybe we can get away with sin in this world but all things will be made right and all will be held accountable.  Our accountability will be to the One who created us all.  The One who sets the standard for right and wrong.  He graciously gave us his law and our conscience to reveal are sinfulness and point us to Christ.  I believe this is why Letts says, "Everyone is going to feel guilty." The book of Romans says,

"For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the work of the law is written on
their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even
excuse them" (2:14-15).

Rather then looking to Christ to find life we "suppress the truth" (Rom. 1:18) and choose to became futile in our thinking (Rom. 1:21).  This led to forsaking the worship of our Creator to the worship of self.  We have become god.  "No right, no wrong, no rules for me...'cause it was right for me and no one else."  Remember this is how all us think or once thought.  Sin entered the world back in the garden (Genesis 3) which brought a sinful nature to the entire human race (Romans 5).  The only difference between this sort of thinking now and once thinking this way is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel of Christ dying as a substitute for sinners is the message our culture needs to hear.  They need to know there is someone who loves them more then they love themselves.  They need to know there is someone who created them to live for his glory so that they can find true satisfaction.  They need to know there is a right and wrong and the One who created them sets that standard for his glory and their greatest good.  They need to know their is someone who is actually worthy of worship and
praise.  They need to know Christ!

Grace upon grace,
JRL



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Idols Live in the Heart

I was reading the wise words of Mr. William Wilberforce last night so I thought I would post some of his words:

All who have read the Scriptures must confess that idolatry is the crime against which God's highest resentment is expressed, and his severest punishment denounced.  But let us not deceive ourselves.  It is not in bowing the knee to idols that idolatry consists, so much as in the internal homage of the heart; as in feeling towards them, any of that supreme love, or reverence, or gratitude, which God reserves to himself as his own exclusive prorogative.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Monday, December 3, 2012

God Will Sort Things Out in the End

Have you ever read an article and been amazed at the boldness of some people to speak powerful words?  Many times I come across articles that make my jaw hit the floor because people are bold enough to speak.  I'm not saying it is always good things they have to say but they say them none the less.  Recently I read an article titled Brad Pitt on Same-Sex Marriage: 'Let Your God Sort It Out.'  Lets just say the title alone grabbed my attention. 

Brad Pitt is very much a proponent for same-sex marriage.  On the issue he recently said, "Equality, absolutely, that's what defines us.  It's what makes us great."  I'm assuming the "us" refers to America and not Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  The opposite of Pitt's argument is the reality that those who are opposed to same-sex marriage are not about equality.  This puts those, like myself, in a crux.

I say it puts myself in a crux because I must either conform to "equality" or what God says in his Word.  I know the scale is close to balancing between "equality" and God so this decision must be though through carefully (That's called sarcasm).  But I am also not sure Mr. Pitt has a definition for equality.  Sounds good in the same-sex argument because "we" has already redefined the definition of marriage so "we" can also change the definition of equality.  I'm afraid Mr. Pitt only wants equality up to a certain point.  That point is marriage.  He is all about same-sex marriage and changing the law, yes, the law, in order to have "equal rights." 

Interestingly enough in the same article Mr. Pitt also talks about the issue of "federal drug restrictions."  He says, "We should be responsible for our own choices in talking about the drug laws...the drug war is an ultimate failure and that the billions and billions of dollars that we've committed to it, there's got to be a better way."  Bingo.  Pitt is correct in saying we've got to do better on the drug war.  But does anyone else see a problem with Pitt's statement?  "Equality, absolutely, that's what defines us."  Really?  What about the drug lords?  No equality for them?  Is that because Mr. Pitt is against the drugs?  "Equality....no so much."  I'm not sure Mr. Pitt has thought all these issues through completely.  I hope he will consider them and figure out if he is for "equality" or not. 

But "equality" wasn't even the biggest issue in the article.  The statement that made my jaw drop was Pitt saying, "If [same-sex marriage] doesn't sit well with your religion, let your God sort it out in the end, but that's us. We're equal."  Speechless but not thoughtless, so here are some thoughts. 

1. God is sovereign and as followers of Christ we can rest secure in his sovereignty. 
"Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is God who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness" (Isaiah 40:21-23).

2. Equality for everybody in a sin cursed world isn't possible not matter how hard people try.  Our equality comes from being made in the image of God.
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27).

3. God will sort it out in the end.
"And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book...Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone one for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:7, 12-13).

4. The gospel of Christ gives us peace with God and one another.
"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). 

This article didn't shock me but reminded me that I should be bold to proclaim the message of Christ and him crucified.  We are ambassadors for Christ and he uses sinners like you and I to spread the gospel message so others can be reconciled to God.  May people hear our words and God use them to save sinners.  God will sort things out in the end but until then may we beg people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20).  May God's Word define us as his followers.  He is our authority not the ideas of man.  Man's ways are flawed but God's way is perfect.  We can stand on his truth.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things I'm Thankful For

Today I thought it would be good to think upon things I am thankful for in my life:

1. The reality that God has rescued from his wrath and my sin through the blood of Christ and his Word which reveals this truth.

2. A wife that fears the Lord and loves the Lord.

3. Two beautiful little girls.

4. My parents and in-laws.

5. My sister and brother-in-law and sister-in-laws and their husbands.

6. The Bible Church of Little Rock

7. Men who disciple me and encourage me.

8. The youth kids I have the honor of serving.

9. My job.

This list could continue down for pages upon pages so I'll stop here. What are some things you are grateful for in your life? I hope you praise the Lord for every single one of his blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Grace upon grace,
JRL