Love for the World and The Love of the Father

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Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  (1 John 2:15-17, emphasis mine)

The greatest desire of the flesh for most of us, if we are honest, is love for self.  At least this is true for me.

I want to be comfortable.

I want to be gratified.

I want to be lazy.

I want to be happy.

This love for self falls into the category of love John describes in this passage.  It is a prime example of worldly love, worldly desire.  Today I have been confronted with the truth that I often lack love for others because of my own worldly love for self.  I do not often love with the God’s love because of my own misdirected desire.  Without the love of the Father in me, I cannot truly love anyone.

When I treasure myself above Jesus, I am completely incapable of loving others with the love of Jesus.

This is always true.

As long as this is the case, I will view others as obstacles to what I wrongly desire rather than objects of my love as I rightly desire God above all else.  As long as my treasure centers upon my own personal happiness and fulfillment, there my heart will be also.  The problem is, we live in a culture that views personal happiness as its chief virtue.  That virtue is to be sought and protected at all costs.  If anything stands in the way of our happiness, that thing must be removed, or so the mantra has become.  As long as this philosophy lives in my heart, others will be viewed as nothing more than obstructions to that chief virtue being realized.

Paul writes just prior to these verses, “Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.  But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:10-11)

The only way we will truly love others is through abiding in Christ as we treasure him above all else.  Desires of the flesh, desires of the eyes and pride in possessions all exist as access points to sin.  It stands to reason, then, that if those become the focus of our hearts, we will begin to walk in darkness, tripping over others as we grope for self-created and self-centered pursuits.

Father, help me to treasure Jesus above all else.  Help me to abide in him.  Help me to put to death any and all misdirected desires that threaten my heart.  Help me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you.  As that work is accomplished through your Spirit, I pray that I would see others as objects of your great and gracious love as it flows through me, not as those that stand in the way of what my deceitful flesh would naturally desire.

The Truth about the Dress

The internet sure proved to be a strange place yesterday, didn’t it!?  Llamas and a dress temporarily took all of our minds off of some of the heavy news headlines of our day, and it seemed as though everyone gladly embraced the light-hearted reprieve.

I first saw this dress last evening in a post on twitter along with a question of the dress’s color.  White and gold.  Simple enough.  And I moved on.  Then I began to see the dress in more tweets.  I turned to Facebook where I saw the picture posted by friends in posts that already contained dozens of responses.  I began to wonder what the big deal was until I actually clicked on one such post and began reading through the comments.  At first I thought this must be a trick.  What are these other people seeing who say that the dress is blue and black??  So I finally took my iPad to my wife.  “Tell me what color this dress is,” I said, sarcastically.  “Blue and dark brown, why?” she responded.

WHAT!?!?

We laughed for the rest of the night as we traced social media conversations and discussed the possible reasons for our radically different perspectives.

The truth is, I knew that the dress was white and gold.  The truth is, my wife knew the dress was blue and dark brown.  I opened a link from twitter this morning that contained the answer to the mystery that had been posted by the owner of the dress last night.  The truth is, the dress is blue and black.

Had I been called upon last night to answer that question with my life depending on it, I would have ultimately answered white and gold.  I was sure in my mind that the dress was white and gold.  I would have argued with someone that the dress was white and gold.  This morning I was confronted with the truth.  The truth is, I am wrong. It struck me this morning that this whole dress comedy actually serves as a wonderful reminder about truth, itself. Continue reading

Simple Litmus Test for the Validity of ‘Biblical’ Promises

Would you like a simple litmus test to use to help you determine the Scriptural truthfulness/validity of doctrinal or theological statements or promises?  Look at the picture to the left.

Here is the test: Would you be willing to make that same statement to those 21 men at the time that picture was taken?  Is that statement equally true for those brothers in Christ as it is for you?  If a ‘promise’ from Scripture is faithful to the Scriptures, it will be equally true for all believers everywhere, not just for believers ‘blessed’ enough to live in America. Continue reading

That New Coke SuperBowl Ad & the Gospel

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If you didn’t get a chance to see the Coca-Cola ad from last night’s SuperBowl, you can watch it below.  That ad resonates with so many, largely because we live in such a broken world.  People are grasping for answers to the tragic problems of hate and bullying, so Coke spends millions of dollars in advertising to promote its answer…happiness…and coke (of course).  Happiness has always been a central advertising strategy of the Coke brand, which is refreshing in our culture’s media.


Despite that, even Coke’s promotion of happiness offers a sadly erroneous answer to the pervasive problem it attempts to address.  In the end, a call to happiness offers nothing but false hope.  Nothing changes.  We cannot and will not solve the problem of hate through even the most well written and produced media campaign.  As for this coke ad, it ultimately misses the mark both in its diagnosis and its answer. Continue reading

Our Lives as Celebration

Rend-Collective

Our family had the awesome opportunity to see Rend Collective in concert this past Friday night.  I have wanted to see them live for some time, so this was a real treat for me!  If you are not familiar with Rend, they are a worship band from Ireland; although, on Friday night they actually referred to themselves as a Celebration Band.  You wouldn’t have to see them live for very long to agree with that assessment.  Their songs are generally upbeat and alive with a joy that’s rooted in gospel truth.  As I participated in this concert of celebration with my family,  I actually found myself feeling somewhat convicted.  Rend collective gave me more than just a good show; they reminded me that because of the gospel, the backdrop of my life should exude celebration. Continue reading

Jesus is Our Ark

Week 1, Day 4: Genesis 6-7

In light of the coming flood of judgment thousands of years ago, God provided a means of salvation.  He commanded his servant Noah to build an ark.  The Scriptures tell us that in the construction of that ship only 1 door was placed.  That door alone provided the only means of salvation from the coming flood.  As he built Noah preached and invited even the most sinful to seek refuge by trusting in God’s promise.  In the end only his family entered the door.  The passage goes on to tell us that just before God began to pour his wrath out upon the earth, God, himself, shut the door.

Judgment is once again eminent in our day.  Jesus will return and no one can say for sure when.  When he does he will return as King and as Judge.  He came on a rescue mission in his first coming, accomplishing all that was necessary to offer even the most sinful of people a way of salvation.  And just as there existed only one door into the ark, because he is the only one who actually dealt with sin and earned the righteousness that holy God demands, he exists now as the only way of salvation for sinful people (John 14:6).  That’s all of us (Romans 3:23).  When he returns God will once again close the door and there will be no more chance for those who have chosen to remain in unbelief and stay on the outside of that exclusive refuge.

The invitation is open once again.  The gospel proclaims a rescue that is available through Christ alone.  Anyone can enter by repenting of sin and trusting in Jesus.  Will you trust in him today?

Satan’s Tactics have Always Been the Same

Week 1, Day 3: Genesis 3-5

In Genesis 3 we find the story of The Fall.  We see a character enter the creation named Satan who takes the form of a serpent and tempts Eve.  In this brief encounter we can identify several tactics used by Satan in his wooing of Eve. The truth is, the tactics identified here are really the exact same tactics the Evil One uses today in luring us.  We can learn something of both the essence of sin and of temptation.  Notice them with me. Continue reading