Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Logos Software

Logos Software

Let me start this post by saying, I am not addicted to Facebook, I am just adamantly committed to friendships!  There, makes it kind of hard to refute that argument, doesn’t it.  Today I was reading through status updates and Logos Bible Software posted their Great Bible Giveaway premium Bible winners for the month of August.  I’m thinking, how awesome that Logos would give away such expensive resources.  Logos by the way is completely committed to providing, for those willing to study God’s word, electronic resources which are invaluable.  Using tools such as Logos we can study God’s word to depth’s never even dreamed of decades or centuries ago, and do so with accuracy and speed our forefathers would love to have had.

Anyway, as I was reading their updates I noticed a post by a gentleman condemning Logos and others for their apparent gluttony over the production and distribution of these “extravagant” Bibles.  His words were, and I quote, “whenever I see a Bible priced over $50 and advertised as “premium”, the Scriptures prohibiting gluttony immediately come to mind. N.Korean Christians use hand-written scripture on balloons floated in from VOM workers, yet publishers crank out these ridiculously extravagant Bibles? How is God honored by this excess I wonder?”

Now, I applaud this individual for his perspective.  His apparent purpose is to seek to answer this question; Are we in our extravagance here in America neglecting those in countries where God’s written word is not allowed? My hope is that he will not simply ask the question, like most people do, and never struggle through to an answer, but in his own heart and mind will evaluate his life and seek to answer for himself how he can best fulfill this need to spread the truth of God’s word to these very people!  Well this is the purpose for my post, I too want to seek to answer the question, and what remains here in this post is a beginning…

First off, I applaud Logos for seeking to put into people’s hands the resources needed to help us study God’s word. So that we can seek to fulfill the words found in them. Passages like Romans 10:14-17 comes quickly to mind.  

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him uof whom they have never heard?3 And how are they to hear vwithout someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

u Eph. 4:21; [John 9:36; 17:20]
3 Or him whom they have never heard
v [Acts 8:31; Titus 1:3]
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ro 10:14-15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

(The scripture and its footnotes are possible thanks to Logos Bible Software)

Regardless of the cost of a Bible, the thing each and everyone of us will have to answer for one day is what we did with what God blessed us with! Reminds me of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:48 when he says concerning these servants who were given care of the Master’s house, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.”

Be careful condemning God’s provision of his written word to us, and be more concerned about how to use this provision to bless the billions who are lost and dying, who even if they had the word, might be like the Ethiopian Eunuch who though reading the Scriptures himself needed someone to guide him. Acts 8:31 (The Eunuch needed someone to lead him, instruct him, someone who was knowledgeable).  In other words God sent Philip because Philip most definitely knew the way!  God’s word is best understood by those who have been blessed to sit under and study under those who know the way.  Hence God’s OT command to the Father’s, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:7

One closing thought, which I struggle with in my own life at times.  People complain about the “extravagant” packaging of God’s precious words to us in leather and ink, yet they claim to have the very precious living word of Christ in them, and they could care less what its packaging–how they live, talk and act–looks like to the world around them.  Now that is a waste!

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:11-12

Study to know Him,


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sanctity-of-lifeMy prayer for all of those who might read this is that as we walk through our day tomorrow we might have a better perspective on the life we have been given and the life we are able to live because our parents chose life for us. More importantly, I also believe that we are absolutely unable to fully understand the blessing of the life we live today, unless we understand the TRUE Life that we are offered through Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

1 John 5:12-13 tells us, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Make no mistake Scripture teaches plainly that without the Son (Jesus Christ) we are like Dead men walking.  We look alive and well as we live out our days here in this world, but death is coming…last I checked the mortality rate of humanity was still at 100%.  Once we breath our last in this life, the grave is not the end.  If so scripture would be lying to us and eternal life is just a dream.  Each and every one of us have one opportunity to get it right in this life and from the point of conception we begin dying.  In other words our days are numbered and there is so much work to get done, in such a short amount of time.

Time is short, I know it seems like we have eternity when we are young–er, but James reminds us that this life, well it is just a vapor, a mist that is here and gone in an instant.  Even Solomon, the wisest man this world has ever known tells us this life is but a shadow.  My point is that many of us believe we have all the time in the world to get eternity, and that kind of gamble…well its like grabbing for fog…it sure looks good, but it is impossible to grasp.

Many of those who will fill the pews in churches across America this Sunday are living this kind of life.  They want True Life, they want the assurance of eternity, but they don’t want to pay the price that God requires.  Oh Oh…”pay the price…”  that can’t be…My Bible tells me eternal life is a free gift!  All I have to do is pray this little prayer, walk down to the front of the church and sign a card, and “poof” I’m good to go!  I like that kind of salvation!  Doesn’t cost me anything, and just like the Good Book says, its free.

Well, your right, it is free.  As a matter of fact Paul used those words “free gift” 12 times in Romans.  Romans 6:23 which most of us know and can quote freely tells us, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of  God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Maybe scripture can explain what I mean by “those who are not willing to pay the price God requires…”

John 5:39-40 says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

Jesus’ words should wake us up out of our complacency and sleep!  Oh we will go to church on Sunday, we will sing the songs and we will drop some money in the offering plate and somehow feel satisfied as we struggle to concentrate as the pastor drones on, silently anticipating lunch, and who we will go eat with, or who might ask us to go eat with them.  Then we will leave the church, and silently return to the life we choose to live, not the life God desires for us to live.  The entire book of Amos has a sad commentary on this very kind of lifestyle.

The Northern Kingdom truly believed that just because they went to “Bethel” (House of God) and sang songs, and offered sacrifices to God that he was pleased with them, and furthermore that he had to be pleased with them because they were Hebrews, and therefore God would never destroy them.  Oh how horribly wrong they were.  God so despised what they called “Service” because what they were doing on “Sunday” looked nothing like what they were doing every other day of the week!  As a matter of fact, by the time we get to Hosea, less than 30 years later, their place of worship is no longer called Bethel, but instead the prophet calls it “Beth-aven” or (House of vanity, house of nothing).

True “Service,” true “Worship” is living a life of holiness and godliness Monday through Saturday, not just Sunday morning from 11:00-12:00.  That is what “Sanctity” really means.  Sanctity of Life therefore is choosing to live a life of “holy character” every day. But just like Amos, John 5:39-40 paints a vivid picture of the failure of so many today who profess to be Christians.  You search the Scriptures because you think in doing it, that it makes you a Christian…“yet You refuse to come to me…”

You see the price that is required?  Yes grace exists for us when we fail, and all of us will fall from time to time.  No one is perfect in this life.  But think about this, if you fall, make sure that you fall looking at the face of Him who died so that you might live.  Falling forward into the arms of Christ, well it happens from time to time.  Falling backwards away from Christ, because we were looking at the world behind us, well that is not good.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us we can live a Sanctified Life if we “fix our eyes on Jesus…”

I urge you this week as you seek to live out your Christian faith, Fix your eyes on Jesus and him alone, because he paid the price required to purchase you out of death,  and then do pick up your Bible and read.  John tells us one last time why we need to read God’s words…

John 20:31  “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Study to know Him,

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Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Well it is October and for a group of men from South Side Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas this always means it is time for the annual Fly-Fishing trip to the incredible San Juan river in New Mexico.  Since 2004 this trip for me has become so much more anticipated because I no longer live in Abilene, nor am I able to fellowship every week with the men of this church.  So, this annual event gives me the blessed opportunity to hang out with godly men for seven days as we camp out, eat incredible meals every evening (thanks guys) fellowship through deep discipleship around the campfire, and of course…FISH!

The San Juan river in NM is well known as one of the premier trout tail waters in the western half of America for its consistently cold water and enormous numbers of large trout.  What a great place for guys who are desiring to learn the art fly-fishing to go and catch their first trout.

This year I am trying something new. I bought Simms carbide studs to go in the sole of my wading boots.  The slippery rocks of the San Juan can be difficult to navigate, and so I am looking forward to the new advantage I will gain with the added grip of the studs.  But as I was thinking about the hard carbide tipped studs added to the soft felt sole of the boot, a concern came to mind.  There is a great ethic in fly-fishing in that we wade into pristine rivers, use single barbless hooks, fish and enjoy the environment and then wade out leaving the river just the way we found it except for the tired fish we released and the quickly fading foot prints.  However, I have seen the scaring on rocks from the carbide studs of other fly-fisherman’s boots and it begs the question, in seeking to be comfortable and safe on the river are we failing in our ethic of “Leave No Trace?” Are the scrapes and marks left by our footsteps leaving long term imprints on the appearance of the riverbed, or worse is there some ecological implications?  Well, that question is still up for debate, and probably will be for many years to come.

However, there is another greater question which comes to my mind.  Is my concern for how I walk through the environment overshadowed by my concern for how I walk through this life as a Christian?  Unfortunately I have in the past spent too many years seeking to perfect the false ethic of “Leave No Trace” in the lives of those I came in contact with.  Whether I was too embarrassed, to shy, or just afraid of damaging the lives of friends and fellow workers I chose to remain comfortable and safe in my Christian walk; rather than willing to be bold and risk the chance of sharing Jesus Christ with them and seeing their lives changed forever or losing them as a friend.

As I screw the final carbide tipped stud into the sole of my wading boot, I can’t help but think of Paul’s words in Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” This great imperative given to the first Christians in Colossae is just as important for us today.  It forces me to go back and evaluate the life of Christ, to look at how he behaved (walked) in the world, how he impacted those lives around him.  Jesus didn’t choose comfort or safety, he was bold and purposeful.  He left the indelible mark of the invisible God in this world…Jesus left the Father’s very Imprint (Hebrews 1:3) on people’s lives.

Therefore, my desire is to leave the very imprint of Christ everywhere I go.  How do I do that?  By being rooted and built up in Christ…established in the faith. That only happens through extreme Bible study and prayer.  Then and only then can I leave the comfort of the four walls of the church, and start to leave the marks of Jesus on the hearts of people.  Only when I sit at the feet of Jesus and desire to be discipled, can I truly fulfill the Great Commission and begin to make disciples.

Study to know Him,

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version., Col 2:6-7 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).

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Relevant Discord

bible_starbucks.jpg 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. John 17:15-21

My time here in Nashville, TN is coming to a close. Both my wife and my son are looking joyfully for my return, and I am no less joyful to be going home. The past eight weeks have been fruitful, both for me, the company I have been working for, and for those God has placed in my path. It has been a short repreave from my studies in seminary, and it has been a wonderful time of “tent making.” More importantly God has given me an opportunity to step out of the somewhat sterile bubble of the Christian environment of both the church and seminary, and step back into the current culture of the corporate IT life. Although I have spent the past twenty years immersed in the culture of the corporate world, it is amazing to see how quickly one can find himself out of step, both intellectually and culturally once you move into full time vocational ministry in the church.

During my time here in Nashville, the couple I have been blessed to stay with have given me ample opportunity to worship together and be a part of their church family at Woodmont Hills, Church of Christ. For me it was interesting since I have not seen much of any other denomination outside of the Southern Baptist. (I have definitely lived in a denominational bubble.) Let me say, that I have been blessed to be a part of such an incredible body of Christ. Dean Barham and the rest of the teaching staff at Woodmont uncompromisingly preach the gospel message of Jesus Christ. In my eight weeks of attending I have found that within the Body of believers at Woodmont there is no lack of giftedness in both their musical and teaching abilities.

From the first moment on the job, I have been forced to dive back into the culture of IT and Information Security. In doing so I have found it is imperative that you identify and mesh with the current culture or you will not be of any impact whatsoever, and communication will be difficult. I have been out of this culture for only two years, and I realized very quickly that much has already changed. That which two years ago was relevant in IT is in many ways “old technology” today. In the same way, our culture isn’t static, it is dynamic and in constant change. However, the gospel message is unchanging, yet has the incredible ability to adapt itself throughout history so that it continues to impact and change lives without compromise.

Woodmont’s preaching minister Dean Barham presents a unique perspective into this same kind of need to identify with the current culture of today in order to better communicate the gospel message. In a series of five sermons Dean identifies and provides insight into different environments where our culture is trying to speak today, and how we can better understand them. In doing so we gain the ability to speak clearly and relevantly into culture the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dean’s web blog is active and can be found here, http://companionsonjourney.blogspot.com/.

Podcast’s are available as well, Woodmont Hills Podcasts, and I invite you to go and listen as Dean along with the help and insight of some of the staff at Woodmont dialog together and help us better understand how we must step out of the four walls of our church, evaluate the culture surrounding us, understand it, and then clearly speak … The Gospel in Culture.

Study to know Him,

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Adoption, God’s Plan

sheep04.gif“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of
woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so
that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God
has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir
through God.” Galatians 4:4-7

For those reading here, who are not familiar with the prayer requests which have gone out recently for a couple here in Nashville and their adoption efforts in Russia, I sent the following letter out after a recent trip by one of the family members to Siberia.

I wanted to write this blog and publish it on the web for those who have been praying for John, Sandy and Sveta because I know in my heart and know you as well believe that this kind of work is truly what the heart and mind of Christ is all about, on a global scale. Adoption is what we as Christians understand so well, yet we seem to take for granted so often.

Sveta is about to move from Siberia in Russia, from a small orphanage in a little town, where they have never even seen a foreign adoption occur. Almost overnight she will become an American citizen, but more than that, she will gain full rights under the laws of adoption and she will receive a new name, a new life full of promise and a new home. She has been chosen out, and because she will become a Kovacic child, she will receive by law the same rights as those Kovacic children that were born into the family by blood.

I praise the Lord that through a reminder of adoption in this earthly picture we can see fresh and new the more incredible picture of the reality of our adoption through Christ as children of God. We have been chosen out of a foreign land, a place that is not really our home, we are given a new name, a name that only God knows, written in stone. And we become heirs, even co-heirs with Christ Jesus in the fullness of all that God has prepared for us in heaven. The presence of the Holy Spirit is our promise that what God has secured on earth, will be claimed in full when the One He has given charge over comes again one day soon. Jesus’ blood shed on Calvary is the sign of promise, not a piece of paper signed in the presence of a notary and judge.

The Judge who sits in the court room, given authority by man, to decree a valid adoption in this world is just a slight image of the Ruler over all, who one day will look at us, and through the blood of Jesus Christ say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …” Matthew 25:34-35

Galatians 4:4-7 reminds us of who we are in Christ, and “whose” we are:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:4-7

Now seeing adoption new and fresh, don’t you think Sveta will look back on her life before adoption and the years after adoption and be forever grateful to her earthly father who chose her and adopted her? In the same way if you have trusted your life to the heavenly Father, your life should be different, and you should be grateful even more because of what he has done for you.

Study to know Him,

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First things First

And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men,” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:10b-11

You ever wake up in the morning knowing that before the day’s end your entire life will be changed drastically, and possibly painfully in some way and yet rejoice in it. I never have, and probably never will. God just never has worked that way in my life before.  Maybe it is because I am slow and need things spelled out real slow for me.  If this is you as well, then take joy, we are not alone.  In this passage in Luke these fishermen were no different. It is interesting how God’s plans for us unfold. This fact is evident when we consider Luke’s narrative of Jesus calling his first disciples. When the story begins to unfold in 5:1-2, the men have already been fishing all night and are out of their boats washing their nets.

As Jesus approached the fishermen he did not just walk up to them and in the booming voice of God command them saying, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” If that would have happened, those men would have probably laughed, and continued cleaning up and preparing their nets for the evening catch, or the next days work, or they would have trembled in fear. Jesus instead, approaches and first climbs into the boat asking Simon to “put out a little from the land.” Simon and the others then heard the teaching that followed, saw the crowd pressing in close to hear, and would have been honored to oblige a teacher of the scriptures.

However, Jesus was not done with Simon … That was … just the first step.

After teaching, Jesus asks Simon to take the next step saying, “Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch.” After a long night of failure alone out on the sea, Simon agrees to the Master’s wishes and the results are miraculous. Nets began filling, the water must have been churning from the large number of fish, and the nets strands began breaking from the weight. The other boat was signaled for and after filling both of them with fish, they both began to sink.

The imagery here cannot be missed. Jesus asks for obedience in the midst of their failure and with his help, it is more than can be humanly handled. As a result Simon falls to his knees overwhelmed in the presence of the Lord so much so that in the midst of his sin the only thing he can ask for is that Jesus might depart from him. However, Jesus has different plans.

Jesus knew Simon’s life, his sin, his failures. Jesus knows my life, my sin, and my failures just the same as yours. Nevertheless, in the midst of all of that, when I often feel unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence, Jesus knows there is no greater place for me to be. Instead of departing from these men, they work together to make it to the shore, but not before Jesus takes them, one step further. “From now on you will be catching men.”

The scriptures tell us, “When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.” For many of us Jesus will never take us from the dry land and comfort of the shore to the deep waters of his will in one blinding, sweeping moment. Yet for all of us, there are steps we must take if we are to follow him in a life of sanctification and holiness. Oh, there are those who have moved from justification to glory in one seemingly massive step. Just pick up Foxes Book of Martyrs, if you dare, and read of those called to give all in death for the sake of Christ.

Yet for me, and for you, Jesus just wants us to do first things first, and get in the boat with him. What are you afraid of? Remember, Jesus told his disciples, “Do not be afraid …”, and in Matt 28:20b he gives the reason not to fear saying, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Take the step, Jesus is waiting.

Study to know Him,

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greek-text.jpgRejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Philippians 4:4

My apologies go out to all of those who faithfully come to visit this blog, and who for the past week have been frustrated in finding nothing new here to read.

Well, there is hope around the corner, both for you and for me. Those of you who have been through seminary, and even those of us who can remember the last two weeks of the semester know the troubles and woes that await us. Yes, May is around the corner, and it is that time of the semester for papers to be due. And I have them in spades this semsester. However, one paper is done, and two left to go.

So, having said that, yes, as Paul proclaimed, REJOICE!

For those who would enjoy a great passage in the Greek (KU), I thought I would drop this in. It is an easy passage by all standards…But it has a couple of incredible exegetical points.

First, Rejoice (both of them) are in the present active imperative. This present tense could possibly be gnomic since gnomic verbs typically take a object, although the Lord is not “generic” by any means. Either way the command to Rejoice has gnomic implications which means–it is a “timeless fact.” We should be rejoicing in the Lord always! For me, unfortunately, Rejoicing in the Lord isn’t always a fact. Sin, invades, and often times rejoicing ceases.

Second, the imperative mood, especially in the present tense is taken as a command, meaning that Paul wants each of us to make it a priority to find ways to rejoice in the Lord. There are several choices this passage could fall under.

  • Ingressive – Progressive–meaning this should be a habit or something that characterizes our behavior. Paul intends for Rejoicing to begin, and then continue.
  • Customary – meaning your already rejoicing, however, continue to rejoice.
  • Iterative – rejoice over and over again.

What is the difference between these three, well, that is up to you:

  1. If Rejoicing in the Lord is an attitude, that is ingrained in your Christian character, then your rejoicing will be progressive, and customary. You began rejoicing at salvation…and you know well how to continue rejoicing, even in tribulation.
  2. If Rejoicing in the Lord is simply an action to you, then it cannot be progressive, and most assuradly will not be customary. It is nothing more than something you do, generally when things are going good.

This is the one hitch that makes the imperative mood what it is. It is the mood of potential. It means even though Paul tells us to Rejoice always in the Lord, the results are up to you. Example. 48 hours ago when I was up at 3:00a.m. in the morning while every other civilized American was sleeping, (except for at least a couple hundred other seminary students like me) enough books and papers surrounding me to fill most any small town library’s theology section, trying my hardest to figure out the syntactical mumbojumbo (that’s Greek for I don’t have a clue what this means) of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:22-38…I found it really hard to Rejoice. The potential was there, but I was not making it a priority. Life was getting in the way…better put, Dr. Williams Greek paper requirements were getting in the way. (No offense to Dr. Williams, he has been the greatest Second year Greek prof I could have hoped to take…he kept it fun.)

Well, Greek is behind me. A masterful work of 25 pages…quality only befitting an A+…(I pray!).

As I sit in the silence of my study, assessing what lay before me, I couldn’t help but think of one rotk05021.jpgphrase…it keeps resounding in my mind…the images are vivid. Maybe for those LOTR fans these words will help you visualize my plight. The Great Gandalf said it best in – The Return of the King ~ “It is the deep breath before the plunge.” Coming this evening is the beginning of Hermeneutics exegetical paper on Matthew 20:1-16.

Nevertheless, as I write to you, it gives me great joy, to read Philippians and remember that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is the King. The dark forces that are assembled against us, are already defeated. Therefore, I will choose to rejoice, and I exhort you as you read this to do the same. Maybe you are not struggling through exegetical papers of biblical porportions, but you have your own. We all do. My prayer for you is that you remember, although you read the words of Paul and you hear his command to “Rejoice,” it is only potential to rejoice unless you step into the moment, choose by your free will, and then from out of that which only the Holy Spirit can put in us…REJOICE in the LORD!

Study to know him

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