Isaiah 53

Have you ever read Isaiah 53 from The Message? It’s powerful…

Several days ago,  I saw Los’ suggestion to check out this song, “Healer”. So I went to the link and heard the song, and watched the video about the story behind it.

And then I watched the performance of it.

…over and over and over again.

At the beginning of the song, the artist reads the first half of Isaiah 53 from The Message, and made more sense to me than it ever has.

Check it out:

1 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.

Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
Continue reading


Reconciling the beatitudes with being American

I was reading in Luke 6 this morning. After Jesus pronounces His ‘blesseds’, He pronounces His ‘woes’:

24(AS) “But woe to you who are rich,(AT) for you(AU) have received your consolation.

25“Woe to you who are full now, for(AV) you shall be hungry.

“Woe to(AW) you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.”

And I asked myself, “What’s fundamentally wrong with being rich?”

And I responded (to myself), “Because all rich people know some poor people, and that means that they are withholding their riches at the cost of their friends’ comfort and provision.”

And then I thought, “Well, most people seem to agree that all Americans are pretty much rich by the rest of the world’s standards. So, who are the poor people that we know?”

And then I thought, “Well, pretty much the rest of the world.”

And that’s kind of funny

…for about 5 seconds.

And then it’s disturbing and overwhelming.

I’m typing this on a computer that cost more than many people will make in the next 5 years.

What kind of steward am I being?

What kind of steward are you being?

What do you think?

Brace yourself.

For the first time in a while, I’m making some time to write something somewhat meaningful here.

It’s strange. Although these past couple of weeks have had me busier than ever (lots of driving back and forth between Greensboro and Creedmoor and working really hard to get up to speed at work, plus focussing a little bit more on church stuff), I seem to be experiencing more clarity than I have in a while.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just ’cause of the John Mayer song. Actually, I hope not. (Isn’t the point of that song that as soon as you realize that you’re having a moment of clarity it’s too late, because that realization will take away the clarity?)

But I digress…

To be honest, it’s not nearly that complicated. I think the bottom line is that I’ve had at least 2 1/2 hours a day to sit in a car and think and listen to some fantastic teaching from guys like Mark Driscoll and Francis Chan. And at least equally importantly, God has been doing some amazing things in Stephanie’s life too. She might not even realize it, but she’s more beautiful than ever — in every way. I feel more encouraged and supported than ever, and that makes more difference than any woman will ever understand.

So, all that rambling because I want to ask for some feedback. I had a rare moment this week when a Bible story became completely new to me — the meaning and value for my life right now came through in a way it never has before.

In our ‘Spiritual Gifts’ Bible study that our men’s group is studying through at work, the author makes a point using the life of Moses, and he focusses specifically on the story from early in Moses’ life where he kills the Egyptian. The author challenged me to consider the question: “Why did Moses kill the Egyptian?”

It seems like a simple enough question, but the answer is powerful for me: I think Moses killed him because he was beginning to get a grip on God’s calling for his life. God put in Moses’ heart a burden for His people. Moses felt God’s compassion and righteous anger towards the conditions of the Israelites.

And before he probably realized that God had put this in his heart, and certainly before he consulted God about it, he did something rash and chalked it up to passion.

The result: a man died, and Moses spent 40 years hiding out in the wilderness.

And I got to thinking: Did it really have to be that way? If Moses had realized that his passion came from God, and asked God for direction on how to act, and then waited, could it have played out better? What if God was ready and willing to lead the people out in 1 year? What if those 40 extra years of toil and death that God’s people experienced weren’t necessary?

But then again, God is sovereign. Someone in our discussion put it this way: What if God planned for everything to happen just the way it did? What if He wanted Moses to go out to the wilderness so that He could mold him into the redeemer of His people that He wanted him to be?

This definitely seems reasonable. Think about all the people who spent time in the wilderness before God really fulfilled His calling in their lives. There’s Moses, David, Paul, John the Baptist… even Jesus it seems to some extent.

So all that leaves me in a funny place because I have such an overwhelming passion for God’s church. I seriously feel the Gospel like fire in my bones and everything in me screams to give my whole life to see the world changed by the Gospel. I want to spend my life being poured out for the Bride of Christ in America until She is a true reflection of Him, and truly cares about His bride around the world. And I try to wrap my head around the story about Moses, and how God seems to send His servants into long seasons of waiting where He prepares them, and I try to think about how that applies to me, and I just don’t know what to take away.

In the sermon I listened to this morning from Francis Chan, he said that in Uganda alone (I think — that part wasn’t clear), 43,000 children are orphaned every day, and 29,000 orphans die every day.

Every day.

Part of me fights God about that.

“What can You teach me in 5 or 10 years that is worth so many wasted lives?”

I know. It’s an audacious question to ask the Creator. I ask it respectfully. I know that I have so much to learn that I don’t even know how much I have to learn.

But what’s the balance in the meantime? How do I stir up the passions God has put in me and take full advantage of what’s available for me to do in THIS season, while simultaneously resting in God’s sovereignty and just waiting for His leadership?

I guess I already know what I would tell someone if they asked me those questions… but all the same, what do you think?

Romans 5:15-21

15But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for(A) many. 16And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For(B) the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought(C) justification. 17For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness(D) reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18Therefore, as one trespass[a] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[b] leads to justification and life for(E) all men. 19For as by the one man’s(F) disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s(G) obedience the many will be made righteous. 20Now(H) the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased,(I) grace abounded all the more, 21so that,(J) as sin reigned in death,(K) grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Something I heard yesterday

Yesterday, while working, I listened to a message by Rob Bell on Philippians 2:1-2 called “One Mind” (click here to download the mp3 :: click here to view the past 12 sermons from Mars Hill Church).

The talk was very interesting and certainly kept my attention. Rob even played highlight films of Larry Bird (a great basketball player from when I was a kid).

At one point during the talk — and I think you could reasonably say that this is the thesis of the message — Rob makes this statement:

“What if the cross was God’s way of asking, ‘What do I have to do for you to get along?’ ?”

At first I thought, “Wow, that’s powerful.”

But then, the more I thought about it, the more my eye brows went up…

what do you think?

A REALLY, REALLY strong book endorsement

JDGreear from the Summit Church in Durham, NC, has a post titled “The Book Besides the Bible to Take If You Get Stranded On An Island”.

He begins like this:

G. K. Chesterton was once asked what one book he’d take if he were stranded on an island. He said a book about shipbuilding.

Other than that, and the Bible… this is what I’d suggest you take: Tim Keller’s new The Reason for God.
If you read one book in your LIFETIME, THIS SHOULD BE IT. I know this sounds like I’m exaggerating, but this really is the absolute best book I’ve ever read at interpreting the Gospel for our culture.

He later goes on to write:

One depressing thing about reading this book is I realize how little many “evangelical” churches preach the actual Gospel (seems to me). I’m thinking even of those places that have high “conversion” numbers. People are moved to pray salvation, come-to-Jesus prayers and get baptized, but you don’t see a people falling in love with Jesus…

Ummm… yeah. I just said almost the exact same thing at Bible study Wednesday.

I believe I have identified that next book I’ll be looking to get.

Another great start to the day…


I noticed this scripture in Acts 13 for this first time this morning:

(38) Let it be known to you therefore, brothers,(CL) that through this man(CM) forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, (39) and by him(CN) everyone who believes is freed[c] from everything(CO) from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.