Feelings…and Dr. Jones.

Sometimes I wonder what I’m thinking.  Martin Lloyd Jone’s (1899-1981) book Spiritual Depression has been testified about repeatedly by some of my greatest heroes in the faith (John Piper, CJ Mahaney, Bob Kauflin, Mark Driscoll…to name just a few).  So the big question is – why haven’t I read this sooner?  Duh.

Each chapter has been blowing my mind, but I felt lead to share this mornings chapter on “Feelings” as it is particularly practical. He is one of my new favorite dear old departed saints.

The starting premise is that feelings exist, they are altogether strange in their coming and going, and we are not to allow ourselves to be controlled by them.  We need to control them, with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit that lives within us as followers of Jesus.  “Oh the havoc that is wrought and the tragedy, the misery and the wretchedness that are to be found in the world simply because people do not know how to handle their own feelings!”  Thank you, Dr. Jones, for starting us off with a bang.

Basics:

  1. Feelings are meant to be engaged
    • Do not be afraid of feelings (RuelNote: Does that count as feeling something about a feeling?)
  2. We cannot create feelings, nor command them at will.
    • We cannot generate feelings within ourselves.
  3. Nothing is as changing within us as our feelings
    • Ever just wake up in a bad mood for no reason at all?
    • Don’t underestimate the physical factors – are you exercising, eating right, and sleeping enough?
  4. Bad feelings do not mean we are not a Christian
    • Neither is happy lightheartedness Christian joy – but that doesn’t mean we give in to stoicism and thinking all happy feelings are bad.  (Turns out you can be a Christian and show some emotion.  Perhaps try that when singing! OK, I digress, back to our regularly scheduled program…)

So what do to/not to:

  1. Feeling depressed?  First check for sin.
    • If you are actively sinning and not repenting…guess what? You should be miserable.  There is something between you and God…
    • Confess, repent and run to the cross and soak in the grace God gave you in Jesus
  2. Do not over-concentrate on your feelings – they are not to be central.  We cannot let them control us.
    • Concentrate on the Truth – God’s Word.  Yes, the Bible.
  3. There is a difference between rejoicing and feeling happy
    • You cannot make yourself happy, but you can make yourself rejoice (Phil 4:4 anyone?)
    • Stir yourself up – remind yourself of your identity in Christ
    • When you are walking in the darkness, keep walking.  Don’t sit down in it.
    • Thirst after righteousness (Matt 5:6)
  4. Want the most supreme joy? Press hard into God
    • Psalm 16:11 – “You have make know to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence.”
Advertisements

Culture and Worship (and Idolatry)

I’ll be honest, I’m not really sure where this post is going to go.  There have been a bunch of things on my mind lately about worship after speaking with a couple last night and focusing on idolatry, I re-read Driscoll’s excellent chapter on Worship in his book “Doctrine – What Christians Should Believe.”  Then…well…yeah…it kind of opened a door…

Growing up as a quintessential “Christian kid” (though not really being a true Christian) there were many things that shaped my view of what Christian worship was.  It seemed to be church.  Just church itself, how we did it.    It was about us, not about God.  Lately, I’ve been realizing that still rings true in many churches today.

That is the nature of idolatry – making it all about something other than God and it is the root sin of all sins.

Driscoll writes –

Similarly in our own day religious people continue in various idolatries when they elevate their denomination, church building, liturgical order, Bible translation, worship music style, pastor, theological system, favorite author or ministry program to where it is a replacement mediator for Jesus, on in which their faith rests to keep them close to God. This also explains why any change to the tradition of a religious person is met with such hostility – people tend to cling to their idols, including their church buildings, which are now worshiped and sacred, just as the temple was.

I once had an older man confront me in anger and said “You know…worship is important to me too.”  Screaming in my head was my response, “Yes, but worship on your terms – your song preferences, your dress, your style of music.  Your interpretation and personal preference of worship is obviously extremely important to you.” I would say that his way of worshiping had become his idol.  Worship is not about us, it’s about God.

When we stand and refuse to sing because we think we can’t sing, or that’s just not us, or we don’t like the music, or the style, or don’t know the song by heart – who are we making it about?

The body of Christ is diverse, we live in a culture, we cannot esacpe that.   Driscoll writes and I agree ‘If we are alive, we are cultural.’  We use whatever the means of the culture to reach those in the culture with the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ.  Psalm 33 is not a list of acceptable musical instruments, it is a declaration to use whatever the culture has in that time to praise God – “Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.” (Ps. 33:2).  We use the communication and styles of the culture to communicate the unchangeable message of Jesus.  The method can and must adapt – the message cannot.  We wouldn’t go into a tribe in Africa and play Chris Tomlin songs…

Every church has contextualized their approach to church, it’s not a matter of if they have or not – it’s a matter of what year they stopped the contextualization.  What year did you stop?  1600?  1950?  1984?  What about those who live in the culture of 2011?

God has been beating into my head – among many things – it’s not about us, it’s about Him.  We have perverted Christianity into a religion, into “doing church” – and it’s not about that, it’s about God.  It’s about his unbelievable love towards a sinner like me, who saw all my future sin on the cross and paid it in advance and drew me to himself and called me his own and reconciled our relationship through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  He gave me a new heart, a new life, made me a completely new person – the BBW is “regeneration.”  The Holy Spirit makes us new in Jesus by the grace of God.  We spend (or should spend the rest of our lives) making much of Jesus, not much of ourselves.

Does your personal worship reflect that?  Does your church reflect that?

Our world needs us to be authentic worshipers of God who make much of Him, not us.  They will see us pouring out our whole mind, soul, body, and strength in grateful worshipful service to our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer.  They will see us worshiping, singing, with a full heart of joy. (So will our kids)  They will see that this is a great God, one of steadfast faithful love and tremendous mercy and patience in Jesus.  And we need to pray that the Holy Spirit comes and opens their eyes to the new life and hope in Jesus.

It is about Him, not us.

 

 

 

 

 

Repentance and Restoration – Job Part 3

Well, today…almost unexpectedly it seems we finish Job.

In the last few chapters of the book God continues to answer Job by reminding him of who God is – that nothing can compare to him and his knowledge and his strength…and that basically everything is because of him.   “Who has first given it to me, that I should repay him?  Whatever is under the whole earth is mine?”

In Chapter 42 Job practices a vital…critical…paramount…really really really important Christian discipline — confession and repentance.

This is not something we do once when we “accept Jesus into our hearts”  (gag) – we need to do this each and every day, as we sin each and every day and therefore we need to live in the power of the gospel each and every day.  I read from the Valley of Vision this morning and this one phrase caught me in it’s simplicity and accuracy: “My sin is not so much this or that particular evil, but my continual separation, disunion, distance from them, and having a loose spirit towards thee.”  Most of us aren’t going to go out today and lie or steal, but as much as those things are sins – God is also as much if not more interested in the states of our hearts.  Are they fully devoted to Christ?

Job began to have pride in his heart, began to question God. Yes he suffered tremendous tragedy, and in those moments it is very tempting to question God and think that we know better – but the bottom line is we don’t and he is God.  He loves us and is still sovereign.  Even in those moments, there is repentance that needs to happen which Job models for us here.

Job in 42 says “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me which I did not know….therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Now, don’t walk away from that thinking the Bible is telling us to despise ourselves. That word in the Hebrew can also be translated as “reject” so think of it as rejecting your own selfishness and pride.  You know…take up your cross, die to yourself?

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)

Confession and repentance is simply agreeing that you are headed down the wrong path and turning away from the direction you are going and turning towards God in Christ Jesus.

Mark Driscoll this week also spoke of repentance in his message “Jesus and Repentance.” If you can – throw this on your iPod and give this a listen.  It’s an hour – but it’s a great word.  I strongly encourage you to listen.  In there he noted that repentance requires 3 elements:

  1. Confession – owning up to the wrong and speaking it out loud. Use Biblical words, not man words.
  2. Contrition – there should be a sense of sadness or seriousness, never glib
  3. Change – there has to be a change brought about by the Holy Spirit as you stand before Christ and others with a pure heart and a sincere faith

Then we see God restore Job. Which makes me immediately think of  1 Peter 5:10 where God promises to restore us.  Now remember that may not mean physical material blessings, but it will always mean right standing before God and a return of the light and the weightless joy that only God can bring only in Christ.   Then turn to him in passionate WORSHIP!

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
(1 Peter 5:10 ESV)

Perspective in Trials | Dress like a man.

So…finally…38 Chapters into the story of Job – the LORD answers him.

We’ve seen the unbelievable tragedy and suffering that Job is enduring, we’ve seen his 3 dopey friends try and sell him bad theology – that if you do what is right (and don’t go see R-Rated movies, and go to church a lot, and don’t drink/curse/chew or hang out with girls that do) that your life will be happy and prosperous and everything will be peachy.  If not if you are a “bad” person and do those “bad” things then you will have a hard life…so by simple math – Job must be a “bad” person otherwise all this suffering wouldn’t be upon him…God clearly is punishing him.

NOT.

Job’s friends have some skewed theology.  [Side note:  see how vital it is to have solid Biblical theology?!  We need to spot bad counsel by comparing it to the Word of God!]

Truth is – you can do all the things you are “supposed to do” and be a “good person,” and still get cancer.  You’ve girlfriend can dump you.  You can have massive problems with your kids or be unable to find a job.  One of the underlying themes of Job is that hard times are not necessarily a punishment from God.

But…how do we react during hard times?  Do we feel as though we should not be having them at all?  Wish for them to be over as quickly as possible so that life can return to “normal?”  Job spends nearly 3 chapters whining about all the reasons why this shouldn’t be happening to him. (Job 29-31).  He is not reacting very well.  His perspective is definitely starting to be skewed here.

What is your perspective?  The Bible warns us that suffering and hardship are in fact “normal”  for this life.  (see 2 Tim 3:12; John 16:33).  It is infinitely more difficult to deal with hardship when you start from the perspective that it should NOT be happening to you.  We need to gain the Biblical perspective here.  It SHOULD be happening.  Life is hard.  Sin is here.  Evil is around.  We have an enemy and we need to battle him daily with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ!

We also need to understand that God is completely sovereign. There is absolutely nothing that escapes his notice and he subjugates everything for the main purpose of everything:  for HIS glory.  So it is always about God, not us primarily. We would do well to remember this:  everything God does is for His glory.  When we are in trials, it is a chance for God to work in us more intensely and we need to handle the hard time correctly and wisely in order to grow and bring glory to God.  Hard times produce in us a Godliness that we just don’t get when life is just “peachy.”

One of the most abused verses in the Bible is Romans 8:28.  Christians tend to be in the midst of hard times, find that verse, read it and say “Oh. Cool.  This is going to work for MY good.” Then close the Bible, define the good themselves, and then experience crushing disappointment and loss of faith when their idea of good is not fulfilled.  You cannot understand Romans 8:28 without verse 29.  There the “good” is defined.   “For those he foreknew (again…God’s sovereignty here), he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”   That’s the good!  That we look more like Jesus.  Not that the trial is over and we return to ‘normal happy life.’

Our BBW is “Sanctification” – my friend Wayne Grudem defines it as “a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.”  (Systematic Theology, pg 746)

I have found that Christians spend an awful lot of time trying to figure out the exact lesson that God is trying to teach them in any given trial.  There is an element of truth to that, but we can go too far with that too.  We generally spend far too much time trying to determine the thoughts of God, and we cannot do that – the Bible tells us that his ways are above our ways, and his thoughts are above our thoughts. (Is. 55:8-9).

Driscoll nailed it this week.  He said “God doesn’t give us answers to all of our questions. He gives us Jesus.”

Love it.

Don’t focus on the why, focus on the WHO.  God.  God gives us Jesus so that we can be reconciled with  him – all of our selfish pride and 9 million other sins were paid for by the perfect one who never sinned, who took the punishment for sin that I deserved so that now by faith and the gift of grace I am right before God.   My job now is to look, act, smell, be more like Jesus in my life every day.  That’s hard work and bad stuff happens.  But in it we need to rest that God is sovereign and he is working all things for HIS glory and my sanctification – which is ultimately a good thing for me.

Stop trying to figure things out and start yielding yourself to Jesus.  Search your heart with an open Bible, a steaming hot cup of coffee, and eyes wet with tears that God would strengthen you in this trial to bear it for his glory.   Pray that he will reveal your heart to you and give him all of it.  He promises that he will be found if we seek him with ALL our heart.  (Jer 29:13).

It is impossible to have the perspective that God has.  He is GOD, that is his job, not ours.  God kinda tears into Job right from the start of Chapter 38 – “Who is this that darkens my counsel without knowledge? Dress for action like a man.”  He is saying in a sense “OK, Job.  I’ve heard enough.  You have really no idea what you are talking about because you are not me, never will be me, and don’t know everything I do.  Get ready, put your big boy pants on because I’m going to school you.”

He spends 4 chapters reminding Job of who he is.

Then…well…let’s just wait and see what happens in the last chapter, shall we?

Sorry, this turned out to be kind of a longish rant – but having gone through quite a season in 2010 – this is on my heart.

 

Reliablity of the Word of God – Driscoll

I was listening to Mark Driscoll yesterday…working thru his amazing Doctrine series.

Specifically, I was listening to Revelation: God Speaks about the Bible…some great nuggets in there that I want to take down for future use…

How reliable is the Bible?  Aren’t there copying mistakes? Well, not really when you compare the number of copies of the manuscripts…

  • Homer: 643 copies
  • Plato: 7 copies (+1300 years AFTER the original)
  • Aristotle: 5 copies (+1400 years AFTER the original)
  • The New Testament: 14,000 copies (+100 years after the original, some have been dated within 30 years of the original writings…we are talking eye-witnesses here!)

Great central quote:

Don’t come to the Bible for information but instead for transformation

Important verses:

  • 2 Peter 3:15-16 (Peter speaking about Paul…)

15And count(A) the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as(B) our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you(C) according to the wisdom given him, 16as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters.(D) There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction,(E) as they do the other Scriptures.

  • 2 Peter 1:20-21
  • 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For(A) no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God(B) as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

    • Romans 1:18

    18For(A) the wrath of God(B) is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

    Sola Scriptura Vs. Solo Scriptura

    Have you worshipped about it?

    I have developed a deep and manly love for Mark Driscoll. Maybe it’s the faux-hawk, but probably because I’ve realized that he has learned an amazing amount, is a great no-nonsense communicator, and will ferociously stand where God has placed him.  For years I have heard him speak here and there at various conferences and liked what he had to say, but lately with his whole Haiti trip and Churches Helping Churches thing it has caused me to You Tube up a few classic MD clips. I quickly got hooked, and now he is on regular rotation of my weekly podcasts right beside Piper, Chandler, Harris, Baitzel, and Gustavsen.

    I am working thru his series on Luke and just soaking every bit up. I had originally just jumped in the middle, but my friend Tim has developed a manly love for MD as well and urged me to go back and pick it up from the beginning. I’m glad he did.

    I listened yesterday to his sermon on Mary’s Song found in Luke 1:46-55. I urge you to watch or listen to the whole message, but if you are a worship leader – pay close attention to Mark’s well taken points on worshipping, even when you don’t “feel” like worshipping and even in the midst of great trial – like Mary – the Jr. High aged single mother, pregnant without a husband facing tremendous societal backlash for being an unwed pregnant woman. The weight of the situation could have crushed her – she goes to pray and unlike us (ok…ME) when we get to God in prayer we (I) usually start barfing out my problems to Him right away – forgetting completely that I need to worship God my savior for his goodness to me, his mercy, his justice, his faithfulness, his provision, his redemption of my soul thru Jesus and about a 100 other attributes that are eternal, infinite, and unchanging.

    Mary gets that it’s not about her and we are called to worship the Lord with our whole lives – even when we don’t feel like it.  The best way to get yourself to feel like worshipping?  Worship anyway.  I recall what Bob Kauflin said at a seminar at WorshipGod 09 – that people often think because he is so physically expressive during worship that he is always “in the Spirit” – he commented that sometimes he doesn’t feel like worshipping at all at that particular moment, but he is instead getting himself into a proper state by “worshipping” anyway – being obedient to God and over ruling his feelings and worshiping God because of who HE is and not what he feels like. 

    Mary faced HUGE pressures that most of us can never imagine – but she worshipped about it.  I loved when MD commented in the message below “What is worrying you most right now?  Have you worshipped about it?”  

    We need to take our minds off of ourselves and our problems and remember who it is we are called to worship with our whole lives, even on the days when we are overcome by life.  God is worthy of eternal praise for many reasons but as it’s been said because he has created us, redeemed us, and sustained us to say the least.

    As worship leaders, we need to direct people to worship God always, in all seasons of life, but we must also model that ourselves. 

    How is your private worship life?  We cannot lead where we haven’t gone. Are you worshipping him privately in all of your seasons?  Even when you are hard pressed on every side?  What is worrying you most right now? Have you worshipped about it?