Monday, July 21, 2008


I've been thinking a lot lately on the topic of giving, and it seems to me that how I often give is not very godly.

There are many reasons to give, but usually how it goes for me is something like this:

  1. I go through my belongings to thin out what I have, and I find something that I think somebody I know could really use.
  2. I set it aside for them and think about how much they'll use it and how much they'll just love me for giving it to them.
  3. I actually give it to them, and say something like, "Hey, I was looking through my stuff the other day, and I found this. I don't really like it, but I thought it would be perfect for you!" There's a couple variations of that, but I'm sure you get the point.
First off, I think it's good to thin out your stuff, considering we're not even supposed to store up our belongings on earth (Luke 12:33-34). It's also good to share our belongings with those who need them, like in the early Church described in Acts.

But my next step is not nearly as commendable. An immediate pride sets in, with grand thoughts of how much somebody will like me because of what I give them. Evil Ben! You're seeking man's approval! (Colossians 3:22-24).

The third step is really the meat of what I want to talk about. When I say that I don't like what I am giving them (which is why it would be perfect for them), I am essentially saying, "you are deserving of the least I can offer." But God clearly calls us to give of ourselves completely. Give the best you have! For goodness sakes, Christ laid His life down for us, and yet I can only give to others the things that I don't want?

Would I ever give somebody my favorite toy? How about my bed? How about my house? How about my life?

The grace of Jesus Christ that enables us to glorify God should extend to every tip of our lives, just as the blood from my heart goes even to the end of my pinkie toe.

When I give, let me give in a God-glorifying way, so that others know that this life is not important to me, and neither are the things I own. Let Christ receive the love from them, not I.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Is shoveling rocks hard?

Last Saturday I was able to attend the Denver Rebelution conference with some friends, and it was a great experience. Alex and Brett have a good message, and I appreciated how their father provided a strong foundation of godliness for the whole conference. In short, he said that nothing matters but what we do for Christ.

The next day after church we were fixing up the landscaping in front of our church signboard when a woman came out to see what we were doing. She had come along with us to the Rebelution, and she was very impressed with what she had heard. When she saw what we were doing she exclaimed, "Wow, a day after the Rebelution and we're already doing hard things!"

I've been thinking about that statement for the last two and a half days now, and I've realized why it has plagued me: such a statement takes an exclusivity away from such a creed, and decreases its value. I have no problem with shoveling rocks, and neither did any other person who was helping. Shoveling rocks is not really hard. I suppose that's a subjective statement, but I hope you understand what I mean.

When I think of "Doing Hard Things," I automatically append "for Christ" in my mind. Paul writes in 2 Timothy, "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs" (2:2a), "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." (2:23), and "...pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (2:22).

When I read those verses, what I hear Paul saying is, "guys, just live for Christ. There is no secular." Paul has also told us to do everything for Christ, and through Christ. Shoveling rocks should be done for Christ, but it's not hard. We are all different people, but I think we can all define "hard" as something like street evangelism, shameless ownership of the Gospel in every situation, and confession of sin. It is our desire and joy to do these things, but they're still hard.

To conclude, I simply want to warn about degrading the poignancy of "Do Hard Things." Sure, there are small hard things such as shoveling rocks, but those are the thankless jobs. I sincerely do not want to see it become another meaningless expression used to guilt-trip children into doing something. I want to keep it as a term describing the joy we have in living abundantly for Christ, and doing every task He sets before us whether Hard or Easy.

I suppose that I should also take some of Paul's words unto myself: "Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen" (2 Timothy 2:14). I hope this is not what I'm doing, but I believe that I am not. Take it for what it is.


Just a quick heads-up:

There's a new theological social network on the block:

Go ahead and check it out. It looks like there's some good things on there.

Dear Timothy

According to the promise of life
In Christ Jesus,
I thank God whom I serve
With a blameless conscience.

For God did not give us
A spirit of timidity;
But of power and love,
Self discipline dear Timothy.

So do not be ashamed
To testify in the Lord,
But suffer in the Gospel
By the Power of our God.

Grace was given us
'Fore the start of time,
But has now appeared
In Jesus who brings life.

THIS is why I suffer
As I am, and not ashamed,
Because I know whom I believe,
Who guards my soul until that day.

And even though deserted,
As I preached the word in Asia,
We live strong in our Christ Jesus,
By the power of His grace.

Endure the hardships that beset us
As a soldier serving Christ,
For the man who serves his army
Lives no civilian life.

Remember our Lord Jesus,
Who by God's will rose from the dead,
Which is the Gospel that I work for,
For the sake of the elect.

If we die with Him we'll live with Him,
If we endure we'll also reign.
If we disown Him, He'll disown us,
But He's faithful to the end.

Don't quarrel about the small things,
Just teach the word of truth.
Avoid your godless chatter,
Flee desires of your youth.

Pursue righteousness and faith,
Living lovingly in peace.
Do all this with your brothers
Who for the will of God they seek.

Now mark my words in these last days,
That men will love themselves.
They state belief in God,
But deny His power over Hell.

And Timothy, you know
Of the life I choose to live.
Everyone who lives for Christ
Will be hurt or maimed or kicked.

But you see that in the Scriptures
(That will surely make you wise),
God has breathed for our instruction,
And made us righteous in His eyes.

So in the presence of our God and Christ,
Who'll judge the living and the dead,
And in the view of His appearing,
And the words which I have said,

I charge you, my dear Timothy,
Preach the word and be prepared.
Correct, rebuke, encourage,
With great patience and great care.

Keep your head at every moment,
Do the work for which we're called,
Live as an evangelist,
Like I, your brother, Paul.

Dear Timothy, I'm weary.
Do your best to come at once.
The Lord be with your spirit,
Greet the faithful whom I love.

Reflect on what I'm saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all of this.

I wrote this yesterday, after finishing 2 Timothy. Basically it is an effort on my part to understand the text better.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

No Power of Hell

I had a conversation with a fellow rebelutionary the other day in the comments of a previous post about Hell, and its significance in evangelization. Her comment was,

"I think we also ought to be careful when talking about Satan and Hell.
We don't want people coming to Christ just because they don't want to go to hell. That isn't true conversion...that's an excape route."

That's a very good point, and she is absolutely right: we don't want people coming to Christ just because they don't want to go to Hell.

On the other hand, I've had a while to think about it and I came upon this striking thought- as we go further and further back in time and explore Christian thoughts on Hell, there's an interesting trend. The farther back you go, Christians have a healthier and healthier respect for (fear of?) Hell.

That's not to say that they were saved by their fear of Hell, they just knew that it was very real and that knowledge influenced their daily lives. Today, there is a blatant apathy or warm colloquial attitude about Hell. Phrases such as "Go to Hell," "Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company" (Twain), and "What the Hell?" describe a generation that has absolutely no grasp on the true nature of Hell.

Satan isn't Big Daddy down under

Many people have the notion that Satan rules Hell or that he inflicts torment upon those who go there. But this is a dangerous concept, because it is wrong. Consider: Satan committed an evil act and was cast out of heaven. If we sin, we go to Hell. Does not both receive the same treatment for sin against God? Satan will be tormented as much as every other sinner who ends there.

Hell isn't a Block Party

Those who think they will have company in Hell are in a dangerous position. Yes, there is the devastating truth that many will be there. But that doesn't mean that they will all be able to hold hands and suffer together. The suffering there will be unimaginable, and incomparable to anything on this earth.

There will be no body to suffer in, the suffering will happen directly to the soul. Those who reject the "Grace of God... [that] has Appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11) will not just unfortunately get to spend the weekend away from God; they will forever suffer in agony for ETERNITY. There will be no solace or comfort from others who suffer with them.

Hell IS...

Hell is real. Hell is worse than any human tongue can begin to describe. Hell is not just a four letter word, it is serious business. We should use it with gravity even when we are using its correct meaning.

Where does Hell belong in evangelization? Fear of Hell doesn't save, but it does get a human thinking about subjects that are very serious. Life is short, and in this snippet of time we decide to join God in his predestined will for us or we decide to forever depart from it.

So my rebelutionary friend is absolutely right. We do not want people coming to Christ because of their fear of Hell. But I think it is imperative that we have as firm a connection with the truth of eternal damnation as the apostles did. We should live with that truth on our minds, as it will give true purpose to our words and intensity to our evangelization.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light my strength my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled when strivings cease!
My Comforter my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone! - who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This Gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid:
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till he returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand!
Read More:
Romans 6:23 | Matthew 8:12 | Matthew 25:41 | Luke 16:23-24 | Justice, Forgiveness, and Transformation (The Berean Call) | I Hate Christ (A Puritan's Mind)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jesus Reloaded

When I was in New York City last weekend, One of my roommates at the hotel received a tiny little tract from someone on the street that had a big smiley face and the words, "Smile, Jesus loves you" on the front.

God gave me the opportunity to talk to my roommates about it, but I let fear have too much of a foothold and the discussion never went past what they thought of the tract itself. One of the things they said, though, has remained with me: "...I dunno. I've definitely heard better arguments for [Christianity] before." That brings up to issues: one, that the choice for Christ over the world and other religions is comparative to picking the right flavor of chips for youth in this day and age. Two, that we as evangelicals have lost perspective of what we're dealing with: the Good News of the cross and the gravity of souls plunging into Hell forever.

For my friends, religion is something as if from a video game: something you pick out from a list to give you benefits such as control of the undead and self-healing auras. The Devil is indeed crafty, and has been quite successful in hiding the enormous importance and value of the human soul. This is not a game; we are given a tiny little life in history, and then we die and enter into eternal suffering or praise of God. We don't get three lives or checkpoints we can go back to after we get Game Over.

Jesus isn't a religion. You don't get a +3 armor aura when you ask Him into your life. Instead, you come to Him weak, destitute, destroyed by sin, and aware of your own nothingness. He gave His life for us on the cross; we give our lives up to Him. He doesn't make your life make your life easier, but instead by following Him you are agreeing to take up a cross and carry it for the rest of your life. Before the Devil just whispered reassuring lies into your ear, but now that you follow Jesus he throws his army of darkness at you. Jesus is commitment, Jesus is a relationship with God; Jesus takes work. But Jesus is not just another brand of religious chips.

Sour Cream and Jesus! Cheesy Jeesies! Theo Jalapeno!

The second issue is actually the same one in different clothes. Satan has hidden the enormity of what we do, and instead it just becomes another ministry. Making disciples of the nations is not just "another ministry," it's the GREAT COMMISSION. This is the thing that was of such utmost importance that it was the last thing Jesus told us while on earth. This is the command of Jesus, who holds the fabric of the universe together. This is no trifling matter.

So getting back to the tract, I must say "Sure. Jesus makes me smile." He should make you smile too. Because of His grace I will not be burning in utter torment for hundreds and thousands and millions and billions and trillions and... forever. But come on; let's get real. You're not handing this tract to a four year old child, you're handing it to an adult. Let us not be afraid of the truth or presenting in its full splendor unadulterated by our own additions and modifications. Let's not dumb down the gospel to corny and cliche sayings with cute illustrations. "God will not be mocked" (Galatians 6:7).

This is God we're dealing with. Your creator and sustainer, Lord and Savior. Savior from what? From the everlasting pain of Hell. Those are unsaved souls who will be tormented forever that we're dealing with. Let's get serious about what we do and see a massive revival for the Kingdom of God.

Read More:
Galatians 6:7 | Matthew 28:18-20 |

Book Review - DO HARD THINGS (Alex and Brett Harris)

I received my copy of DO HARD THINGS about two weeks ago and was able to finish it earlier this week. It reads quickly and is engaging and interesting. More important than anything, though, is the content. It's a message that many teenagers (and even adults) need to hear. For anyone not familiar with the Rebelution or Do Hard Things, the goal of the movement is a rebellion against low expectations. I'll try to explain that a little more in a second.

The book is divided up into three sections with approximately four chapters each. The first section introduces the movement, its purpose, and its historical context. Personally, that was my favorite part because it showed that the age of adolescence and young adulthood (along with its expectations of rebellion and relative mediocrity) is really quite new, and therefore most likely not God's plan for His children.

In this first section, Alex and Brett tell stories of the early lives of George Washington, Clara Barton, and David Farragut which seem superhuman by today's standards. They discuss the history of the teenager, the origins of the word (and the period of life) and the consequences of the teen age.

With this background, they expound on the significance of the Rebelution (A "Revolutionary Rebellion" against low expectations- a "Rebelution") and how people strive for the standards and challenges they are given. When those standards are high, people strive to do well and work hard. In today's culture, standards are low, which is why most adults don't expect much from teenagers. They set mediocre challenges and get mediocrity as a result.

The Rebelutionary solution is to strive for the greatest challenge we can attain- living a godly life that speaks of His wonderful grace and power in our lives. The second section of the book describes the so-called "five types of hard things," or different areas in our lives that are challenging and take hard work. Those are: "things that take you outside your comfort zone, things that go beyond what's expected or required, things that are too big for you to do alone, things that don't pay off immediately," and "things that go against the crowd."

This section is definitely not as good as the first, but it's nevertheless good information. I didn't like the approach- "how to do Hard Things..." simply because it came across strongly as a how-to book rather than a generation-changing calling. This is the hard part of the review for me to write, because while I disagree with the method, the how questions still need to be addressed. Keep in mind that this is their first book, so as first-time authors they deserve a little slack.

I didn't really enjoy the third section either, which just seemed like a bunch of 'relevant examples' of other teenagers just like you who followed five steps and now are experiencing health, wealth, and prosperity. I know that's obviously not the intention of the authors, but I suppose I just got a little tired of the thousands of examples strewn throughout the book.

The one other thing that I didn't really like was how easy it was to read and comprehend. To an extent that's good- but it's not exactly demonstrating their message to seek challenges and strive to do hard things. In my opinion there could have been many more Scriptural references and less examples, but the trade-off is going to bring in less non-Rebelutionaries and therefore not be as effective in spreading the message.

Despite my nit picking, it's still a great book with a great message. You can tell that their hearts are set on God and are seeking to help other teenagers follow His plan for them. If you haven't read it yet, I definitely encourage you to. If you haven't discovered the Rebelution, I humbly suggest that it could be one of the best things you could do today.

Read More:
The Rebelution | 1 Timothy 4:12 | DO HARD THINGS on Amazon ($11.89 new, $9.58 used) | Tim Challies' Review

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Having Done all, Stand

The world races by.
Look my soul! Listen!
Do you not hear
The cry of eternity rising
On the failing breaths of

Unsaved souls?

Go forth and speak.
Worry not in the trials and
Travails you will face.

Take heart; our Savior is our Lord,
Our God:
The Rescuer of Lost Souls.

Do not fall under the assault of the Evil One,
for you will indeed grow weary.
"Having done all... stand" (Eph. 6:13).

Come Close to Me

It's hard to live
A life for Christ,

When all around,
and like a knife
that wounds your soul,
emburdens strife,

The world,
Its pleasures of the night.

And yet the iron's
Never steel,
Until the wrath
Of fire feels.

So wary in a trial be,
Look out for each temptation seed.

But Oh! My Lord, I will sing,
"Every hour, come close to me."

Monday, April 21, 2008


Resolute, precision:
Sunrise betwixt the mountains.

Sinusoidal entrance of the sun,
Mathematic perfection.

Life is overexposed.
"-Just enough!"
The lands proclaim.

Most artists use paint;
This One used hydrogen,
A symphony of unfathomable infinity.

And yet, and yet
Forsaken for another!

If only we would recover our conceptional devotion. Turn away from ourselves, towards the things that matter.
Another will one day fail and depart as dust, but this concerto will forever play on.
Hearken, all ye who have departed, and hear!

Lo, these are the wings of the dawn!
This is the work of unseen hands.
I beseech thee look, whom have eyes to see!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Samaritan Example

As Rebelutionaries, it seems wise to look to the Samaritans (and the way that Jesus taught about them) for an example of how to live. Samaritans were the racial minority in the time of Jesus, shunned and downtrodden by the Jews. Yet Jesus continually told parables centered around Samaritans (Luke 17:11-19; Luke 10:25-37; John 4:1-26) as examples of how to live.

The good Samaritan helped a battered traveler that both a priest and a Levite had left for dead. He had to overcome many large difficulties to accomplish this task: there was a prominent tension in the fact that he was a Samaritan and the traveler was a Jew, and as Luke writes, "He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him" (Lk. 10:34 NKJV). In the next verse he spent his own money to pay the innkeeper to take care of him. We must remember that these were complete strangers, but the good Samaritan overcame all presuppositions and prejudices about how he was supposed to act and did one of those small hard things.

Likewise, when the Samaritan leper in Luke 17 "Saw that he was healed, [he] returned, and with a loud voice glorified God" (Lk. 17:15 NKJV). He knew that it was because of Jesus that he had been cured, so he ran back excitedly to praise Him. Surely Jesus must have continued on His way and the former leper had to search extensively, ask around, and certainly go out of His way to come back to Jesus and praise Him.

Teens are not downtrodden and shunned in the same sense that the Samaritans were, but still little is expected of them. It's easy to only do easy things, but when we put out all of our efforts to seek God, praise Him, and live according to His law, we experience true blessings. Whether we receive accolades for our efforts or not, it is ultimately our obedience that matters. We do not come to the Fount for the blessing, but instead that our hearts may sing His praise.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above.
Read More

Wikipedia:Samaritan The Rebelution

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