Friday, February 21, 2014
What is it that, if it was taken from you, would take with it your joy?
That thing is your treasure.
And last week, I realized, with a pang of humbling conviction, that I was treasuring food way too much.
If anyone can get away with gluttony, it would be me. I'm 19, I work out, I run Spartan races, I'm careful to only eat the healthiest foods (usually, at least)- lots of people struggle with gluttony, but I can't be one of them!
And then my little brother has to go to the bathroom right as my chimichanga comes out of the kitchen at the Mexican restaurant, piping hot, and as I stand up to escort my sibling my joy stands up too... but only to walk in the opposite direction.
Gluttony really isn't about having a big belly. That's a side-effect that we may or may not experience, but the lack of that particular side-effect doesn't mean that there aren't other fruits growing, buffet-style, off the tree of our plate-shaped sin.
It's about satisfaction; mastering the flesh; seeing food as a wonderful gift from God that is to be enjoyed, rather than seeing food as my source of joy, and becoming one of those whose god is their stomach (Phil. 3:19).
It's not a conscious thing- sin rarely is! I certainly don't bow down, thrice a day, before a golden Vita-Mix in worship.
But that only makes it more dangerous, because it's hard to justify bowing down to blenders, but that third plate of Thanksgiving dinner- well, it is Thanksgiving, after all! And I'll burn it off in my workout tomorrow, anyway.
And so, I pray- God, deliver me from the snare of gluttony; from the demands of my flesh; from the very snare which David prayed upon his enemies (Ps. 69:22)!
I want to be an 80% eater- not a 105% eater. In other countries and other times, people are/were used to eating to refuel, not to gorge and satisfy themselves. I, on the other hand, am used to eating, not until I am no longer hungry, but until I am full.
That's not really healthy; it doesn't benefit the body; it certainly doesn't benefit the soul.
Eating too much damages productivity; it results in lethargy, in discomfort, and in physical unpreparedness.
If I am mastering my flesh properly, the result should be energy and readiness for whatever tasks lie ahead.
So I've come up with an accountability question for my sisters to ask me at the end of every meal-
"Could you do burpees right now?"
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
It's truly amazing how God has made our body reflect our spirit. Before the fall, no sickness, no injury in either; after the fall, sickness and injury in both.
Sin is like a zit. The longer it goes without being addressed, the bigger and uglier and more painful it gets. When it is finally addressed, there's likely to be a good deal of pain, bodily fluids everywhere, and maybe some blood.
But sin is far more than cosmetic. It's an infection of the soul, and if left untreated it will kill every time.
Harboring and hiding sin, rolling it under the tongue, keeping our pet sins in the closet like so many Asherim- this is a spiritual cancer of our own making, a sure-fire way to break fellowship with God and with our family in Christ, to kill joy and fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of regret.
Yet God has given us a simple antidote.
It's one of the hardest things to do, and one of the happiest things to have done.
It starts with the confession, not just of sin, but of being a sinner, and of needing Christ to save and deliver us. That, our first confession of faith, is of primary importance.
But God calls us not simply to make a general confession once and stop there. We are called to holiness (Matthew 5:48, Deuteronomy 18:13), to a long and arduous battle with the flesh that ends when it dies (Romans 7).
1 John 1:9 talks about the forgiveness and the cleansing that awaits the one who will confess his sins- not as someone who has confessed, but as someone who confesses and is confessing- a repenter.
We need accountability, too; brethren who will not allow us to walk into sin without a fight. This can happen in a Galatians 6 style, where they, uninvited, come into our lives and say "have you noticed the cancerous boil on your soul?"
How much better to invite them in?
We only have so much time on this earth; let us live in view of eternity and, like Paul, strive not to waste any time on living with a guilty conscience (Acts 24:15+16).
Get it out. Get it out. Sin is like a cockroach- it hates the light. If we don't shine the light of confession and repentance into our soul, our hearts will become harbors for creatures of the night.
I am not saying that confessing sin to another person is necessary for salvation; certainly not! Christ is our great High Priest, and is the only Confessor we will ever need. The Catholic idea of a human priest receiving our confessions and absolving us of our sins is heretical and blasphemous.
But having a fellow warrior to whom I confess my struggles and failures- especially the habitual ones- and by whom I am held accountable on the issues on which I am the very weakest- a father or mother, a brother or sister in Christ, my wife (one day, God willing)- someone who will pray for me, and someone for whom I can pray (James 5:16)- that is surely one of the greatest tools God has given us in the war on sin, and it is surely one of the best ways to forge true, deep, intimate, Christ-centered, holy friendship.
So how are you doing? What are you hiding? Is your conscience clear before God? Do you need to confess something? Who are you confessing to and praying for?
I'm not advocating "hanging out your dirty laundry." Don't go write a blog post to the world detailing all of your lustful thoughts and naming everyone you've been angry with in the past month.
But don't quench The Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19, Ephesians 4:30, 1 Timothy 4:2). If you know you are hiding sin; if you know you are walking in rebellion; if you know you have some Asherim in your closet, and you sacrifice to them often- and if this doesn't bother you- you should truly be terrified. Whom The LORD loves, He reproves. If you are truly enjoying your sin, then you need to read 1 John and work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
If you're hiding something, and it does bother you, and it is eating at your soul, and you want to be free, then first pray for God's grace to give you the strength for true repentance, and then-
You know what you need to say, and who you need to say it to.
Do it now.
Waiting never makes it easier.
Do it now.
Kill the cancer. Break the chains.
Do it now.
Friday, January 24, 2014
How many young men out there have big dreams for the Kingdom of God?
How many of those young men are actually doing big things for the Kingdom of God?
I myself have wrestled with this; I've talked to brothers in Christ about it; the recent Southwest Family Vision Conference put an exclamation point on it.
"In all labor, there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty." That's how Solomon put it. Mike Wazowski took a more in-your-face approach- "Less talk, more pain, marshmallow boy!"
Guys, we're getting old quick. If you're like me, you probably have big goals and dreams. I want to marry young, have a boatload (read: army) of kids, be an elder in my church, a successful entrepreneur and businessman, maybe write a few books...
Those dreams are great. Taking those dreams out of the metaphysical realm and applying them to our daily decisions, however, is not an easy task.
I don’t think Scripture agrees with our culture, though.
As young men, we all have a huge calling as members of the Body of Christ. We can’t be spinning our wheels; we can’t be wasting God's time (Eph. 5:16). We’re in the middle of a war, and we’re at a cataclysmic point in that war. This is not a time for apathetic, lackadaisical manhood.
We can't be playing video games and watching movies. Rome is burning, and we, the young men, who should be using our youthful vigor to build the Church of Christ and tear down the gates of hell, are fiddling around on our Xbox.
Now is the time to be seeking God, building foundations for our families-to-be, working, working, and working. Now is the time to be getting married. Now is the time to draw swords and leap into the colosseum of Reality. Now is the time to be doing manly things. Not tomorrow. Not next week or next year. We don't have time to waste. We must assume the responsibilities of manhood. We are the next wave, and we are sorely needed on the forefront.
We need to be focused leaders-in-training, loving our local churches, praying, studying, honoring our parents, investing in our families, making the most of our single years (and trying to bring them to a rapid conclusion!), paying our own bills, starting the next generation of Christian households, cutting out the good to invest in the best.
Or, as Kipling put it, filling every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds of distance run.
So guys- men- what are you doing? Are your works and your words matching each other? Are you a man, or an adolescent? Has God called you to marriage? Then what are you waiting for? Does something prevent you? Then what are you doing to eliminate that barrier? Are you paying your own bills? Driving your own car? Are you contributing to your local church? Are you making disciples and being discipled?
Are you working, or wishing?
Please pray for me on this. I need it. I want to be a faithful warrior- not one who spent so much time sharpening his sword that he never actually joined the fight.
All it takes is a little sleep, a little slumber, a little free time, a little dreaming, and enough busy work to make us feel like we're actually accomplishing something, and ten years of marriage and five kids have been lost in the great black hole of "could have been."
Many a man claims to manhood,
Many a runner to run,
Many a runner to finish the race,
Which yet he has hardly begun.
Many a man is convinced
That what he's done is good enough,
Many a man has calmly called quits
Just because the going got rough.
Many a man has spent many a year
Dreaming his life's thrilling plot,
And come to the end and realized
He'd already done it- or not.
Yet there are a few who have chosen,
By the Grace which God chose to outpour,
To turn the few talents they're given,
To run 'til they can run no more,
To forsake the good for the better,
And the better for that which is best;
Spend six full days upon labor,
And the seventh on diligent rest;
Rather to work for slight profit,
Than talk of great things and have none;
Spend their time waking than dreaming;
Embracing the sweat and the sun;
To live out their life to its fullest,
And breathless, arrive at the end,
Knowing they've done, and not talked about doing,
Chose to climb, even slow, ne'er descend.
Few men can say this, for most, in their prime,
Succumbed to the comforting whisper of time,
Which says that tomorrow will gladly fulfill
Whatever today is too difficult still.
But that far-seeing man who prays for the grace,
To redeem the time he may run,
That is the man at whom history quakes,
That is the man who has won.
Monday, January 20, 2014
Why does the second generation so often fail to pass the Covenant on to the third?
Is it because we don't try? Is it because we succumb to apathy, or were never really into the whole religion thing? Is it because we are unprepared? Incompetent? Don't have the resources? Do we fail to pass on the love of God to our children because we can't?
Or do we fail to pass on the Covenant because we think we can?
As a second-generation homeschooled family-integrated Bible-indoctrinated Christian, I am an über-blessed man, and I share that über-blessed status with many, many of my dearest siblings in Christ.
I wouldn't trade it for the world.
But sin has a nasty little habit of viewing evidences of God's goodness as evidences of ours.
Suddenly, the green pastures of God's mercy have been devoured by Jeshurun, and he's kicking all over the place.
There is no place in the Christian life for "I think I can, I think I can" theology. We do indeed need to have faith, but none of that faith should be wasted on ourselves.
If second-generation branches are confident in their ability to raise their little grapes the right way, they may find themselves drying up and being cast into the fire.
We must remember to eagerly and faithfully and desperately and joyfully plead with God for His mercy upon us, our families, our descendants, our local churches. We must never think for a moment that we have everything under control; if we think that we will be able to, in our own strength, do what David didn't-
Tremble. Tremble before The LORD, for He will not be mocked, and His glory will not be given to another.
We need Him. We need His grace. All of our über-blessedness came from Him, and if He is removed from the equation the über-blessedness will soon follow. If we stand atop our parapet and proclaim what a great and wise second-generation we are, we may soon find ourselves eating grass for seven years.
Because apart from Christ we can do nothing. We are the little engines that can't. No amount of positive thinking can change the fact that if I rely on all of the wonderful knowledge and wisdom and Godly examples that God has given to me, I am still, ultimately, relying on me.
And that can only result in a train wreck.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
The sky is falling- and you better repent, or it's gonna fall on yo head!
Deuteronomy 13:1-4: Any and all "prophecies"- either in the sense of foretelling or that of forth-telling- must square with the Word of God or they do not even warrant examination (though they may warrant the death of the prophet).
Deuteronomy 18:15-22- the test for prophecy is retrospective. This has implications for how we speak about God's leading in our lives- "I know this will happen" vs. "I think the LORD will do this; we'll see; at any rate, He wants us to do this *right now*".
A good example of this, from Doug Wilson's "Her Hand in Marriage", is the young man who comes a'courtin' and tells the young lady in question "I *know* you're the one God has for me. God told me we were supposed to get married." This is, for a number of reasons, not the right approach, but in light of this principle, the young man should be focused on walking in the Will of God now, and letting The LORD make evident His Will for the future.
My Dad has been a good example of this, as well, on multiple occasions- from telling us that The LORD was going to do something big on his 40th birthday- Legacy Baptist Church met for the first time the day after Dad turned 40- to telling us that we were going to have another boy and name him Malachi. In each case, he stated these things in this manner: "I think The LORD is telling me this... but it could just be my head-noise," at once believing and heeding the Voice of the Spirit and acknowledging humbly the human aptitude for error.
Scripture doesn't call us to predict the future or to discover it at any rate faster than 24 hours per day. We need to concern ourselves with walking in obedience to God *now,* not with figuring out the results. We can leave those to Him.
Making wise observations, "knowing the times," having eschatological convictions, and listening to the Voice of the Holy Spirit- these are different, and necessary, and good.
However, an eschatological position that predicts the specific time or temporal window of The End toes this line dangerously; to use those humanistic projections as reason to disregard and disobey written Revelation is to leap over the line glibly.
To use our prophetic conclusions as evangelistic billy-clubs rather than standing on the Truth of the Word of God trades the Gospel for a mess of scare-tactic stew. Further, it does for the authority of the Church what counting to twenty does for the authority of the parent.
God will indeed judge everyone, eventually. If we are faithful to proclaim His Lordship, it will not be necessary to stamp a scary-sounding expiration date on the globe. Every knee will bow at the Name of Christ one day- and the bowing part is a lot more important than the one day part.
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
I guess I blinked.
I'm almost 20 now.
I have 6 little siblings... becoming progressively less little.
When the clock strikes 12 tonight, another year will have melted from the life ahead of me into the life behind me, trickling at the rate of 24 hours a day through an hourglass that will never be turned upside-down.
It wasn't long ago that I wrote about the runner's two greatest fears, as we began the race of 2013.
Tonight, we will all cross the finish line of that race, and the starting line of a new one.
We have the opportunity to, at once, remember, through the bittersweet lens of hindsight, the great and remarkable providences of God in our lives, and to set forth with the wide-eyed excitement of a faithful child on a new adventure.
Scripture repeatedly exhorts us to pass on landmarks to our children; to remember the great providences of God to the next generation (Deuteronomy 6). Here, I'm going to chronicle a few of the signal providences God worked in my life throughout 2013.
This year I began participating in obstacle races, building great memories with friends and my Dad along the way. God also used one of my obstacle racing experiences to teach me about marriage.
This year I had two life-threatening experiences. God's mercies were made abundantly evident in each case; the lessons to be learned were equally evident. You can read about the first one here. The second happened just last week; returning from helping a family remove sheet metal from an old building, I was driving a friend's car at a speed that was unwise on the dirt road we were traveling. Three overcorrections, two seconds, one turn-too-late, and in little more than the time it took me to wonder "is this really happening?", the car was on its side spanning the ditch on the side of the road.
I never considered myself the immature, foolish teenage guy that is the paragon of youthful short-sightedness.
I guess that was the problem.
There are a few lessons to be taken from this experience for me which I hope to communicate to all my readers- especially other young men like myself. The first, and most obvious, is- always wear your seat-belt. This may sound trite; let me tell a bit about my experience and you might see just how important that decision was in my case.
I wear glasses, as a general rule, when I'm driving; so I was during the crash. The windows of the car were open. About fifteen minutes after the accident, the young man who was riding with me set my glasses case in the trunk as he was cleaning up the mess inside the car, and I realized- my glasses were no longer on my face. We found them sitting on a rock near the crash site; I can only conclude that they flew off of my face and out of the window in the incident. That gives a good gauge by which to judge just the kind of condition I would have been in if I had not been wearing my seat-belt.
A wreck like that could easily have had severe consequences; it is by the mercy of God that I'm typing this while sitting in an office chair and not a wheelchair. In God's providential kindness, my friend and I both walked away from the scene.
The bigger lesson from this ordeal, however, is the need for young men like myself to heed instruction; to gain "grandpa wisdom at daddy age," as my father says.
We had already fishtailed; I had already lost control on a different turn and bumped off of the dirt bank on the side. A wiser man would have said "if there were a ditch rather than a bank, the consequences would have been much more severe; we should slow down." I was not that wiser man.
I have been warned repeatedly about the dangers that come with young men who fail to ask themselves "what could happen if..?" Yet when push came to shove I was one of those young men, and I only recognized it in myself after the fact. Oh, God, I pray- let me learn my lesson now! Let me remember this and not put You to the test again!
Perhaps the greatest irony of the event was that my friend and I had been meditating on Proverbs during the drive to the location in the morning, and again on the trip home that resulted in this crash. We were mulling over the very Scriptures that we were violating in our unwise roadway behavior.
God is merciful. I am grateful.
Please. Please. Learn from me. Don't learn like me.
Oh, and the glasses?
Not a scratch.
We got to host the Jost family on their tour this year; made a movie together with them; had some good ol' manly fun together with the guys.
Attended the inaugural Arizona Patriot Academy.
I made an adjustment to my brand, going from clean-shaven to a light beard.
Attended the final San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival (final for now, at least) with my dad and my sister; that was an incredible experience. So many friends; so many Providences; so many stories.
While there, got to meet with a lot of great musical friends from the Rhapsodize Music Network.
Speaking of the Rhapsodize Music Network... get yours on iTunes, AmazonMp3, Spotify, and elsewhere! Let me know if you want a physical CD.
Went on my first mission trip to a hospital in Mexico, helping to get it fully-functional.
Last week, Dad preached a great sermon on time stewardship. Got me fired up to set goals for 2014.
"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." - Eph. 5:15-17
Thusly, I have set goals for 2014; praying for the grace of God to grant me a warrior's mentality to accomplish them. I'm not going to list them all, but I'll list a few, and you're welcome to check in on my progress, as well as share your goals in the comments.
- Read "The Institutes of Biblical Law" by R.J. Rushdoony
- Learn Spanish to the level where I can converse, read, and write fluently
- Learn First-Aid
- 25 pull-ups
- 50 push-ups
- 5 muscle-ups
- Cold showers 3x/week
- Go to bed at 9:30 and wake up at 5:30, and start preparing for bed at 9, M-F
- Don't go to social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) unless I have content to post
May 2014 feature the sounds of cheering and laughter and the gates of hell groaning and cracking and crumbling to dust. May the giggling voices of a thousand babies be born into Kingdom households; may the tearful joy of a thousand souls reborn join the chorus. May the Word of Christ pervade our land as the waters cover the sea. May we be faithful to turn every breath we are given into a song or a step for the glory of our King.
Monday, November 25, 2013
I had the immense pleasure of working with seven other composers on an album of music celebrating the birth of The Lord Jesus Christ in a cinematic style. This album presents a musical take on Christmas not quite like anything you've ever heard before- and I think that's a good thing. You can hear a bit of one of my contributions to this project below, and check out the album on iTunes, find it on Spotify, and look for it in the near future on many other online music stores like AmazonMp3.