Plant Fungus and God’s Mercy

I could never be a farmer. The only thing I can plant is my butt on the couch.

But I know farmers. They work all around me. My house is next door to the farm headquarters of a farmer named Leech. He and his employees work from dawn till well after sunset on big green pieces of metal.

They make designs in dirt. They put little things in the dirt. Then it looks like they spray stuff on the dirt. Then green things grow. Rice. Cotton. Corn. Soybeans. All of these are a rock’s throw from my front deck depending on the time of year.

It looks like hard work. It’s supposed to be. It is the only job that God expressly said He would make hard.  A very small thing can render months of money, sweat and acres of dirt useless. Too much chemical. Too little chemical. Too much water. Too little water. And don’t dare forget plant diseases. Did you know plants can get strange fungus spots just like humans?

How would it feel to gaze as far as you can see and observe months of effort to be in vain?  I have never felt that. At least not about crops.

But haven’t we all felt like our efforts weren’t giving us the results we wanted?
I do. Even right now, I do. I feel like some relationships are pointless. I feel like my job is stretching my faith. I feel like I have wasted days.
I feel like it is harvest time and
there are no crops in the stinking field.
And then I am reminded of the two words at the beginning of the previous four sentences. I feel. I feel. I feel. I feel.

I. Feel.

My mind and emotions are hard at work raising my frustration and increasing my annoyance.

I need grace to respond to life from a place of hope.  Look at what the prophet Habakkuk says:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
GOD, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer’s;
he makes me tread on my high places.
I do not know where your herd is or how your olives are doing, but I know where your joy and strength should be. I know where mine needs to be.
This week, I was talking with a friend whose crops are worse than mine. She was discouraged yet hopeful. She recalled to me that she has a friend whose marriage is in shambles and another friend whose young child was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her observation was that in her “merely financial” trial, she felt God’s mercy. She gratefully recognized that her marriage is source of stability and her children are at this moment very healthy. She saw hope where she could have seen despair. Instead of resentment, she saw mercy. She said,
 “God’s trials are often full of mercy.”
I don’t always see so clearly.
I struggle to see past dying fields of withered feelings. My once vibrant expectations now lay rotting on twice-plowed ground.
But Salvation is not found in the fulfillment of my self-centered dreams.
Salvation is Jesus. Hope is in a Higher Place.

The Schrute Method

“Whenever I am about to do something,
I think, ‘would an idiot do this?’ 
and if they would, I do not do that thing.”
— Dwight Schrute

G.O.S.P.E.L. by Propaganda

Hip Hop G.O.S.P.E.L. is awesome. I had a little problem with this video running smoothly till it had completely loaded.

Reasons Why It Is Good to Play a Co-Op Video Game Is Good

This is a silly little presentation that Jake Shivley and I collaborated on. More him than me. I understand that most parts are taking the Bible grossly out of context, but such is the nature of the humor. After all, Love Wins.


Reverse Thinking

Please watch this. All of it.

(HT: The Resurgence)

When should a girl let a boy kiss her?

The San Jose News answers this question in the below 1930 advice column.

I am going to be the worst dad ever.
Source: (QuestionableAdvice)

A Book I Read: Personal Evangelism and The Gospel

Mark Dever thinks clearly. He prizes concise and precise thought. This book reflects his thinking. If you are looking for a book to help you witness and challenge the obstacles that stand in your way, this book is spot on.

Dever outlines the Gospel then discusses why we often do not witness.  The book consistently uses scripture to encourage and illustrate evangelism.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the scripture he uses to prove all Christians are responsible for evangelism, not just pastors or those with a “gift”of evangelism. He also establishes that personal evangelism is a fruit of a culture of evangelism within the local church.

He also deals with ideas that are often confused with evangelism. These were worth mentioning specifically:


1. Not an Imposition: Sharing the Gospel is not an imposition “anymore than a pilot can impose his belief on all the passengers that the runway is here and not there.”

2. Not Personal Testimony: Although testimonies are powerful and can contribute to evangelism, a testimony alone is not the gospel.

3. Not Social Action and Public Involvement: Being involved in mercy ministries help commend the gospel (Matt. 5:16), but such actions are not evangelism. Proverbs 11:30 says “…He who wins souls is wise.”

“When our eyes fall from God to humanity, social ills replace sin, horizontal problems replace the fundamental vertical problem between us and God, winning elections eclipses winning souls.”

4. Not Apologetics: “Apologetics is answering questions and objections people may have about God or Christ or about Bible or the message of the gospel.” While Dever agrees apologetics are a good thing, he clearly and correctly observes apologetics are not the gospel. Rightly answering questions about original sin or the problem of pain is not evangelism.

Dever also includes a stern rebuke against the “closing the sale” mentality of evangelism that crept into the church since the early 1960’s. He explains the awful disservice done to the church and the kingdom of God through such evangelistic methods.

This book was useful to me because it challenged me about the fundamental urgency of evangelism. I recommend it to any christian.

I am including below a short video about the book produced by its publisher.

“The Gospel & Personal Evangelism,” Mark Dever from 9Marks on Vimeo.

5 Reasons You Need to Join a Church

One of my favorite blogs is by a guy named Tim. I can’t remember his last name. He wrote a book a while back called The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I have not read the book. 

In the book, Tim discussed why a christian should join a local church. Tim gave these five reasons:

1. For Assurance.

While a person should not feel he needs to join a church in order to be saved, he ought to join a church to be certain that he has been saved. Christians, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, will naturally gravitate towards other Christians and will desire to be with them, to learn from them, and to serve them. A person who professes Christ but feels no desire to be among his believing brothers and sisters is not a healthy Christian. Thus, eager participation in a local church and heartfelt attempts to measure our enthusiasm for that group of believers is a God-given way for us to assure ourselves that we are truly saved.

2. To Evangelize the World.

The gospel can best be spread through combined and collaborative efforts. Throughout the history of the church great men and women have attempted great things on their own and have often been successful. But more often, great things have been accomplished through the collaborate efforts of Christians working together. If we are to reach this world with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, we must share our efforts with other believers.

3. To Expose False Gospels.

As we interact with other believers, we will see what true Christianity is, which ought to expose the common belief that Christians are self-righteous, selfish individuals. As we labor, fellowship, and serve alongside other Christians, and as we observe the lives of other Christ-followers, we will see what biblical Christianity looks like. The more we see of genuine Christianity, the more the counterfeits will be exposed.

4. To Edify the Church.

Joining a church will help Christians counter their sinful individualism and teach them the importance of seeking to serve and edify others. The benefit of being a member of a local church is not primarily inward, but outward. Christians attend a local church so they might have opportunities to serve others and thus to serve God. Every Christian should be eager to serve within the church and to edify others through teaching, serving, and exercising the spiritual gifts.

5. To Glorify God

We can bring God glory through the way we live our lives. God is honored when we are obedient to him. He is glorified when his people come together in unity and harmony to find assurance, to evangelize the world, to expose false gospels, and to edify one another. God is glorified in and through the local church.

It is good to be reminded that something as simple participating in your local church has profound eternal meaning.

I hope you have a local church. If not, you can come to mine.

(Source: Challies)

What if?

What if Jesus actually lived? What if Jesus was the greatest person ever? What if he was more than a person? What if Jesus was exactly who he said he was?  What if his death made it possible for me not to spend eternity in hell? What if the best thing for me is to be in relationship with Jesus?

What if the Bible told me that faith in Jesus and repentance of my sin would secure my place with God forever? What if I believed that was good news for you too?  What if, apart from faith and repentance, eternity separated from God in hell was your future too?

What if I didn’t tell you because I did not want to impose on you? What if I felt like it was too personal a matter for pizza conversation? What if I felt like …

…a conversation like that might make future conversations awkward?

What if I said nothing because I was too busy? Or because I like our relationship the way it is now? What if I felt like I was too close to you to bring up the gospel now after all this time? What if I felt like I didn’t know you well enough?

What if I decided to tell you but first I needed to tweak the gospel — to modernize it for the 21st century?

What if repentance, faith, sin and hell  sounded too judgmental so I used other words? What if I just told you  you are okay? That you simply need to feel good about yourself?

What if I told you God is love and nothing else? What if I then asked why you couldn’t love a God who loved you? What if I said that was the only truth you needed?

Or what if I told you the Gospel is that Jesus wants to be your friend? What if it sounded good to you and was easy for me?

What if I told you Jesus promises money, health and happiness to all who believe he is Lord? What if you wanted money, health and smiles and heard me say that?

What if I asked you to change the words you say, the clothes you wear, and the beverages you consume but said nothing of the cross or of sin? What if I told you heaven will be yours if you live rightly?  What if I felt like repentance and faith were old words and this is a new day?

What if I told you salvation was found in social change and public involvement? What if I told you abolishing hunger, poverty, abortion, slavery and negative thinking is the way to make things right in your soul?

What if I spoke with you about Christian doctrine because we both love logical thinking and critical analysis? What if we could speak cogently about ideas of original sin and the sovereignty of  God but never spoke of the repentance and faith?

What if I was happy to keep talking about the gospel the way I always have?

What if, at my death, God asks me what I did with the good news of the Gospel while on earth?

What if He asks you?

Are Video Games Stupid? Or Waging War in my Heart: True Combat Evolved

Mark Driscoll said video games are not “sinning, they are just stupid.” Specifically, he made these comments about video games:

Driscoll made some people mad apparently. Ok, not mad, necessarily. Some people just “took issue” with it. Pastor Drew Dixon, who plays video games and has “written about their value” has this rather lengthy response to Driscoll’s youtube clip.

As for where I stand, I’ll tell you. I play video games. I like to play video games. I have two consoles in my den and if I get a chance to play Madden, Assassin’s Creed or Wii Bowling, I enjoy it. I even enjoy getting slaughtered in a slayer match of Halo if I am at a place that has Xbox live. So I am not anti-video games. I have other issues to attend to. There are great injustices, false gospels and broken people that require urgent care and attention. So the anti-video game coalition will not get my membership dues this year.

But that having been said, I’m with Driscoll on this one…exactly because there are urgent issues at hand with  eternal consequences. Video games are stupid by comparison.  So is playing tic-tac-toe. And reading the comics.  And eating doughnuts.  And watching the Superbowl (ouch.) And playing fantasy football. (bigger ouch.)

It’s a matter of faulty comparisons.

Because there should be no comparison.

Ignatius said “Apart from Christ, let nothing dazzle you.”  A.W. Tozer, in concluding the second chapter of his Pursuit of God wrote an appropriately convicting prayer:

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all Those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Isn’t that what Driscoll is saying? Give up the toys.  Not because they are sin, but because they are rivals to an unimaginably greater cause.

Don’t break your new controller just yet. Don’t go burn your Halo collectors edition box set.

But instead do deep inventory of your heart. Ask God to show you if you have rivals in your heart. Be scared at what He might reveal, but be honest and ready to deal with what He does show you.

Maybe you need to put down the controller for awhile. Or the doughnuts.

I need to put down both.