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Passionate Grace

Is it Any Wonder They Call it… Amazing Grace – a Ragamuffin Blog

Temporary Tax Cuts? Horrible for the Middle Class?

Have you heard that the tax bill is “permanent” for corporations and “goes way up after 10 years” for the middle class and there is “no tax relief for the middle class” in the bill? I just read articles this morning from the New York Times, Washington Post and US Today stating these exact things. I want to show you why this is dishonest journalism.

1) There is a rule in the legislature that limits the amount a bill can increase the deficit both by time and dollars. The congressional budget office forecasts what a bill is projected to add to the deficit – in the case of the tax bill it is projected that it will add 1.5 trillion to the deficit. (by the way I don’t think economists can project the resultant economy from a significantly reduced corporate and personal rate accurately over the next 10 years as it has never been done before – so I give little credence to the 1.5 trillion added in deficit spending estimate) This deficit amount is more than would be allowed under current rules IF if extended more than 10 years. The Republicans are not trying to screw the little guy in order to help corporations – they literally cannot make the middle-class tax cuts permanent under current rules. So they are implementing them for as long as they can which will establish a new baseline and allow them to be made permanent in the future – just as the Bush tax cuts were made permanent under Obama. When news agencies report this 10-year expiration window without showing the reason and the more than likely ultimate extension of these cuts and are telling half-truths and failing to serve the public honestly. And believe me they know what I have written above – so it is intentional duplicity. That’s frustrating to me.

2) You have heard almost certainly from almost every news source that you rate goes way up in the middle class after 10 years. From the above paragraph, you can see the half-truth they are telling to say that – but then they say there is no relief for the middle class in the bill – it all goes to the rich and corporations. Do you see the lie here? In 10 years (if there are no extensions to the tax relief) your taxes will revert to as they are now – which they are saying will be a huge increase to your taxes. It can only be a huge increase to your taxes if the bill is in fact significantly reducing your taxes over the next 10 years because at the end of ten years it would just go back to as it is. Again this is a very frustrating deliberate manipulation by the press.

My rule – read source documents or as close to source documents as possible rather than opinion pieces that mascarade as unbiased news reporting

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Speaker for the Dead

Many of you know Bob Smith – somehow it has been 7 years since he passed away – If you didn’t know him he was a great and dear friend and I miss him….

I had the honor of speaking at his funeral and I thought I would share my comments from that today in memory of him and in hopes that even now God can use his death for your good.
“I want to thank DiAnna for the opportunity to speak today, though I’d rather be doing almost anything else rather than speaking at the funeral for my dear friend Bob Smith.  Two weeks ago I was in the Tri-Cities with Bob doing our regular bargain shopping trip and if you had told me then that I would not see him again – that he’d be gone 4 days later – I could not have imagined it.  When DiAnna called me Thanksgiving morning with the news, I accused her of joking with me for 5 minutes before she finally convinced me that she wasn’t.   The realization brought me to my knees.  I was telling my wife, Christie, that I had imagined losing her or losing my parents and what that would feel like – but I just never thought of losing Bob.  He was so full of life – wasn’t he?  How can Bob be gone?
In speaking today I have a couple of purposes.  Those of you here today are here because in some way Bob’s life touched yours – and this is an unexpected and shocking loss.  You’re grieving.  We’re grieving… And I want to be with people who knew and loved Bob – I want to mourn his loss with you and celebrate his life.  I want to honor and pay my respects to this man whom we all valued for all that he was.  Many of you have posted your comments and memories about Bob on Facebook.  My wife and I wept together as we watched so many of you change your profile picture to a picture of Bob.  Thank you for sharing – there is great comfort in grieving and remembering together.   So for the next few moments I hope you are comforted as I share some of my memories about Bob.
Taking stock of a life and trying to summarize its significance and meaning – I’ve discovered the last few days – is not an easy thing to do.  How do you measure a man?  How do you express how all the little mundane routine things of life measured up to something huge – to something precious and valuable?  Life just happens – relentlessly the days pass and rarely do we try to take stock of what it all means – we are just living.
I remember when I moved to Moses Lake about 6 years ago, remarking or really complaining to my wife that I had no friends.  Not close ones.  I knew and enjoyed lots of people but not anyone who really knew me well – and still liked me anyway.  I met Bob my first week working at Genie – in the materials department.  David Dyer was our supervisor and needed volunteers for an overtime Saturday project – I volunteered because I needed the money and Bob volunteered … well because Bob was crazy about overtime.  I remember a few weeks into Genie David asked Bob and me again if we would work overtime – Bob of course immediately said yes and Dave turned to me and I hesitated.  I was like “I’ve just worked a 55 hour week I really don’t want to come in tomorrow” and was about to voice that sentiment when Bob, sensing what I was about to say, interjected with – “Oh yeah Ken will be there too –  Come on Ken it will be fun.”  As if cleaning up outside the high bays at Genie was the best thing he could think of doing on a Saturday.  As soon as Dave left, Bob scolded me.  “You looked like you were going to say ‘No’ you can’t do that.  It is a good thing I was here to save you.”   Ummm….. Thanks Bob….
But on that first Saturday project it was fun, and while I didn’t know it at the time I was finding the friend I was longing for.   Bob struck me at the time as smart and likable as we discussed money management and investing, which was to have a major impact on my life.  But he also struck me as more than a little eccentric.  I mean who has 200 jars of peanut butter?  And I’d never seen anyone get so excited about 99 cent cheese.  Who pours cayenne pepper in their eyes – on purpose anyway?
Very early on Bob invited me and my family over for dinner.  My wife asked me about him and I said…. “Well, he’s this outrageous, crazy guy who says some things that are a little shocking, but you know they invited us so…  It’ll be okay.   And it was okay.  And then he invited us over again the next week.  Which we thought was strange, but we went again.   Then he invited us over again and we saw a pattern developing and decided we better have them over.  I had said I wanted a friend – a close friend – but I hadn’t ever considered how that happened.  Bob taught me that friendship – deep friendship rather than casual – involves investing time in each other.  It is not our cultural norm to be in each other’s homes on a very regular basis.  Home is our retreat – the world stays out and when someone breaks that barrier we often think of it as an intrusion.  Bob taught me that deep friendships are formed when we let people into our personal spaces and by investing time in each other’s lives.
And he invested in many of your lives as well.  Tom Cox, Bob and I made 150 pounds of Thai food over the course of 2 days – Making vanilla will Dan Delano – going to the movies with John Gamble – he spent a lot of time with several of you in weight training.  And Bob appreciated each of you.   Even though I have been gone from Genie for over 2 years, it is almost as if I never left because Bob kept me up to date on everything going on.  If I could replay all the things Bob has said to me about you over the years I know you would feel how much he appreciated you.  I can’t mention all of you, but I do want to say specifically to Tom Cox how much he appreciated your friendship and partnership at work.  He really cared for you and respected you.  I know he would have trusted you to fill his shoes as difficult as that must be for you.  And Bob Rogers I don’t know you like I know Tom, but I feel like I’ve got to know you through Bob.  He very much appreciated, enjoyed and respected you and your leadership as his boss.  Each of you made an impact with Bob as he made one with you.
Bob had a great sense of humor and lighting quick wit, and if you didn’t get offended you never laughed so much as when you were with Bob.   I’m sure everyone in here has a Bob story.  Some of my favorites include the ball-kicking story, the Ben-Gay story–yes I know about that–the raisin story (which is really my story but Bob made it funny and made me tell it to every person at Genie) , the theater story – and over time we can share each of our stories with each other in memory of Bob.  I want to share one story about Bob that seems to capture his way with people.  Bob could say things to people that if I said them they would take me outside and beat the heck out of me.  I think Bob could get away with it because he always said things without malice.  So around Christmas time Bob made me go to Walmart with him to look for deals.  I really didn’t want to go to Walmart and who does around Christmas time, but I went.  And it was packed with people and I found myself getting increasingly irritated.  As we were walking down the candy aisle the lady in front of me stopped and there was no way to get around her since the aisle was so crowded.  Then the guy behind me rudely said “why don’t you guys get out of the way – your blocking my path.”  As if we could just magically move out of his way.  I was about to tell this guy exactly what he could go do with himself when Bob grabbed the front of my shirt and ducked down in front of me hiding his face and said, “Ken hide me from the mean man.  Where’s your Christmas spirit Sir?  Ma’am is that your husband?  Is he a jerk?”  I hung my head in embarrassment and tried to hide myself.  But you can probably guess what the “mean man” did… he laughed.  No way in a million I could have pulled that off, even if I wanted to.  But Bob could lighten the mood and confront the issue without being angry.  He understood and accepted that people are not perfect and was somehow able to sympathize with their frustration.  On my last trip with Bob last Friday, my van was filled and overflowing with over $1000 of groceries and guy just pulled out right in front of me and made a U-turn.  I had to slam on the brakes and I was instantly angry.   As the guy passed us he knocked on his head saying “sorry my bad.”  My attitude was like “Yeah – your bad”  but Bob leans OVER MY SEAT and waves at the guy and says “no problem, it’s okay” with a huge smile.  It was not fake – it came out of him spontaneously.  I wish I had more time with him just to have that trait rub off on me.
Bob was unusually genuine.  Most people have a least some level of façade they are maintaining.  But with Bob, he was pretty much what you saw.  Bob told me he only got drunk one time, but he wasn’t any less inhibited – he stayed exactly the same.
There are a lot of traits you could list about Bob – hard-working, funny, smart, family man, loyal, easily delighted, enthusiastic, extroverted, faithful, but I think the one that will stick with me the most was his ability to encourage me and make me feel valuable.  When I was feeling down after being laid off at Genie, Bob was constantly calling me to check on how I was doing.  And even in my new position at Bank of America I have at times felt overwhelmed, but Bob just consistently encouraged me to hang in there and gave great advice on dealing with obstacles there.
There is one other part of Bob I cannot help but share – I know he would want me to.  As you know Bob had a blunt way of speaking at times.  Not necessarily polished.  And I think if he were able to tell me he would say “don’t pull any punches here, Ken – I want my friends to hear this.”  So as much as I can I want to honor how I think Bob would like this said…   Death is not just a realty for Bob.  Every single one of us in this room will die.  The Bible says “It is appointed to all men once to die and afterwards to face the judgment.”   That is a stark reality.  There is no escaping it as much as we might like to.  And to add insult to injury the manner and timing of our inevitable deaths is an unknown.   It could be in an instant and while we are young like Bob.  We could be old and senile.  It could be cancer or an accident.  We don’t know.   The manner of Bob’s death and his youth should make us think about our own mortality and what we will say to God at that judgment.
Bob was not a particularly religious man.  In fact he bore some severe scars from religion.  Bob also knew he wasn’t perfect and despite the honor we are rightfully giving him for the life he lived, I think we call all agree that he had his flaws.  And so do each of us.  “Flaws” is not blunt enough – failures – sin – evil.  When Bob stood before God on Thanksgiving Day I guarantee he did not walk up to God and say, “Hey, let me in – I never did a thing wrong – I am perfect.”  Nor did he say “Well I did my best God and I think if you weigh the good things I have done against the bad things I have done – it should come out ok.”  Now that is what is commonly believed.  And that may be true in comparison to other people, however that answer – “I was a good person” – the Bible says will get you sent straight to Hell.  Bob made me say it.  And I long for you to hear it and receive it.
Jesus said “I did not come for the righteous (the people who think they are good), I came to bring sinners to repentance.”  He said, “I did not come for those who don’t need a doctor, I came for the sick.”  So please stop thinking you are going to make it to heaven because you are good – you aren’t good enough and if you think you are Jesus says “I didn’t come for you.”  When Bob stood before God on Thanksgiving, his answer to why he should be in heaven was –  GRACE.   Grace…. Grace is when you are given something you don’t deserve.  And grace was poured out for you on the cross two thousand years ago when Jesus who was God came down from heaven as a man and poured out his life’s blood that you might be forgiven.  It is HIS perfection – not yours that qualifies you for heaven.  If you will humble yourself enough to confess your sin and your need of grace.  The Father is waiting with open arms to receive you, just as he received Bob here on this earth and in heaven 9 days ago.  It doesn’t matter how bad you have been – Where your sin is great, his grace overflows cleansing you of all impurity.  Only by receiving that grace can a man as imperfect as Bob or as sinful as me stand in the presence of God – accepted and forgiven.  I hope that you will not let his opportunity of Bob’s death and the truth of this message be lost or forgotten.  I would be happy to talk to you anytime if you have more questions or want to pray.
In conclusion I would like to talk to Bob’s family.  To DiAnna’s parents – God put your daughter with you for perhaps the most difficult thing she has faced.  God certainly knew Bob would die and he prepared your home and your hearts to comfort DiAnna though this time.  To Bob’s Mom and Steve – I am very grateful to have come to know you through the trips over to Seattle that we made.  I know think were rough for a while especially after Bob’s dad died, but I know that Bob loved you and he knew you loved him.  Thank you for your words to me yesterday on what I meant to Bob.  I will miss him for the rest of my life.
Mercedes, Alexis and Jag – Thanks for sharing your Dad with me – he was a great man and a treasured friend and I hope I can help as much as possible with his loss.  It is okay to cry and to grieve and you miss him always.  He loved each of you very much and he always wanted to show you that.  Remember him coming to your soccer games and the gifts he gave you and the one on one time you got to spend with him this year.  It meant a lot to him.
DiAnna – Bob was so excited about the marriage group he was in with you this year.  He talked about it all the time.  He even skipped movie night with me to be at it.  Bob met his match in you.  And you met your match in him.  I know you will grieve this loss for a long time to come and no matter how long we live there will be a scar.  But I know we both would say that as painful as this time is – the loss would have been greater if we had never known Bob.  Please lean on us.  Bob’s friends are your friends.   And we are here for you in whatever way we can help.
And to Bob – Can’t wait to see you again Buddy.”

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But God Sent His Own Son…

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“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

“He did not even spare his own Son but offered him up for us all”

I had one of those awful dreams one has from time to time where someone you love dies. This time it was my son, Benjamin – I woke up literally in the throes of grief. It was visceral, raw, heart-rending. I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about – every once in a while a dream is so real it engulfs you.

I woke up in tears and God says –

This is how you are loved. I gave up my son so that you might be with me. What more must I do to prove my love for you?

How casually we look at the cross! How easily we turn it into a sentimental “precious moment” suitable for the living room or our necks.

But God’s son was “pierced for our transgressions” he was “crushed for our iniquities” it was through his death that we can have peace with God and be healed.  God sent his Son knowing the agony – knowing the pain.

God intentionally endured the “searing loss” of his only son so that through Him, I and all who would just turn and look to him for life – can have the joy of basking in the Father’s presence without fear and without shame.

“I need no other argument – It is enough that Jesus died and that he died for me.”

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Fleeting

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The head is struck
A flash, a flicker, a flame
Illumination, heat, beauty
A beat
Nothing

The heart awakens
A beat, a beginning, a being
Meaning, passion, pursuit
A beat
Nothing

Let me not squander nor misuse
This briefest breath – this second’s song
And grant that I might firmly choose
To trust, though weak, that He is Strong

And when on Jordan’s banks I spy
This moment wains and death steals nigh
Let this flicker flame and shine with might
Reflecting Him the Brilliant Light.

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Is Justification about Ethnics or Ethics? A Response to Tom Wright What a Difference an “N” makes.

NT Wright

NT Wright is a brilliant NT Scholar and a leading teacher on the New Perspective on Paul. A very simplistic summary of one of the tenets of NPP is that there was no issue in scripture around whether law keeping was the means of attaining salvation. Judaism according to Wright already had grace built in so it could not be a religion of works. Thus the issue in Galatians and Romans on justification is not over whether someone can be saved by doing good works but whether someone must be Jewish rather than Gentile.

NT Wright writes: “In Romans 10.3 Paul, writing about his fellow Jews, declares that they are ignorant of the righteousness of God, and are seeking to establish ‘their own righteousness’. The wider context, not least 9.30–33, deals with the respective positions of Jews and Gentiles within God’s purposes – and with a lot more besides, of course, but not least that. Supposing, I thought, Paul meant ‘seeking to establish their own righteousness’, not in the sense of amoral status based on the performance of Torah and the consequent accumulation of a treasury of merit, but an ethnic status based on the possession of Torah as the sign of automatic covenant membership? I saw at once that this would make excellent sense of Romans 9 and 10, and would enable the positive statements about the Law throughout Romans to be given full weight while making it clear that this kind of use of Torah, as an ethnic talisman, was an abuse. I sat up in bed that night reading through Galatians and saw that at point after point this way of looking at Paul would make much better sense of Galatians, too, than either the standard post-Luther readings or the attempted Reformed ones.” http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/07/12/new-perspectives-on-paul/

Wright: “virtually whenever Paul talks about justification he does so in the context of a critique of Judaism and of the coming together of Jew and Gentile in Christ.”

I do not disagree with Wright that the Gospel brings together Jew and Gentile. It does.

Eph 2:11-14 “Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility”

It is a significant change from the focus on the chosen people – Jews – to the chosen of all races, nations and people groups. But it should not replace the more significant focus that all Jews and Gentiles fall short of the glory of God and stand in need of salvation apart from works and through the imputed righteousness of God obtained by grace alone through faith alone. Wright seeks to move to the background this main point and foreground the ethnic issue to paraphrase J.I. Packer. I do not believe scripture does this.

I was reading Acts 15 this week and found a passage that relates to this discussion. A debate erupts in the early church as to whether a man must be circumcised to be saved.

Acts 15:1 “But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them”

So it appears that Wright is correct – the question is not “must I adhere to the law to be saved but must I become ethnically a Jew to be saved.” And indeed that is what is first brought up. But the debate does not stay there. As the Pharisees continue to make their case they begin to insist that not only must they be circumcised to be saved (Ethnic) but that it is necessary that believers keep the law of Moses (Ethical, Moral, Performance) to be saved.

Acts 15:5: “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”

Peter then address the group and moves the debate beyond the ethnic issue (though that remains) to the larger issue of how anyone obtains salvation.

“And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

When Peter says they are putting the Gentiles under “a yoke…that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” he is not talking about an ethnic issue. Peter is not saying being Jewish is the problem for him – he is saying adhering to the moral requirements of the law of Moses is the problem for him and all Jews and now Gentiles. This is the larger issue the ethnic one reveals.

His solution to the failure of all people Jew and Gentile to be able to keep the law of Moses?

God “cleansed their hearts by faith.” And “We believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

So the debate begins with the discussion of whether Gentiles must become ethnically Jews but ends on the more significant point how can both Jews and Gentiles who fail to keep the law of Moses be saved. Answer: Grace alone through Faith alone. This is the paramount issue.

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Romans 9 on the Free Will of God to Save

Romans 9

The Statement

“Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

WHOOOAAAA God …hates???? That would be unjust!!

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!

This must be about something else not about God saving people…

15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

But I thought salvation was based upon my free will….

16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

But surely God has mercy on everyone right?

17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

Well if God is hardening people and saving people without regard to the person and based only on his own will, then it would be immoral of God to hold people accountable for their actions

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”

SEE!! I told you!!
*Note Paul does not retract his statement or say “No, No you have misunderstood me.”

Response 1

20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

Response 2

22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—

This passage is amazingly clear that God is the initiator of salvation and HIS will is the decisive will in the salvation of individuals.

The Glory of this truth is that no matter how far you wandered from the Lord, no matter how deeply you have indulged sin God is able to rescue and redeem. And the corollary is no matter how good you imagine yourself to be or how much work you have done to reach God – your strivings are insufficient to move God towards you at all. NO!! If we are to be saved it is by free grace alone. God is the complete Savior or none at all.

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Romans 9 on the Free Will of Man to Believe

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Brief Thoughts on Acts 9

field

The bent of Paul’s heart to rage against God is the same bent of every heart apart from awakening grace.

The need of Paul to be knocked off his horse by the blinding light of the Lord is not a “Paul” need. God must reveal himself or we perish.

The response of faith in Paul once the Lord revealed himself personally to Paul, is the same response everyone has when the Lord reveals himself to you. Faith

Believers are all “chosen instruments.”

“And when he (Paul) had come to Jerusalem” Paul went to the church where it all started. The place he had approved of the murder of one of its deacons. Paul attended church in a place where he had murdered one of the beloved congregants. What amazing power the Gospel has to reconcile the vilest offender.

The church was multiplied as it Walked in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

When illness and death struck a church member, Peter an apostle was called by disciples of the Lord, and Peter raised her from the dead. By this means the gospel was spread throughout Joppa and many believed.

Application:

1) Thank you Father, for calling me – saving me, how I sense my desperate and wicked heart apart from Your saving grace. I am unworthy but grace to be a chosen instrument

2) Lord Let me embrace the vile, love sinners, trust the greatness of your call and your gospel as I encounter the broken.

3) Lead my heart to the fear and comfort of the Lord that your name may be magnified in my life.

4) Lord do the necessary miracles to spread your Good News in Moses Lake so that many will believe.

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Grace – a Poem

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Mount Morality's slopes are too steep
They've been the death of many
To Mount Calvary will I fly
And there be rescued by my Savior's strength.
The Law's demands I strive to keep
But only find despair I reap
I try again my case to plead
Brought to my face in desperate need

Then the Gospel clear and sweet
Comes with power and blood-stained relief
By Sovereign Grace and Power untold
I'm brought with Joy into my Shepherd's fold

He now is all, my song, my life
Because of His great Sacrifice
Though in this Life I often Fail
His grace upholding will prevail.
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My Introduction (to a probably very distant book)

The latter half of Albert Einstein’s celebrated life was spent on a grand quest – a quest to unify multiple disciplines into one simplified formula that would explain how everything works in the universe. Einstein called it Unified Field Theory. Modern physicists refer to the “theory of everything.” Einstein failed to achieve his goal. Though one of the brightest minds the world has ever seen devoted 20 years of work to this goal it was ultimately unsuccessful, and most modern physicists would say that Einstein was seeking something that has now been proven not to exist. Einstein wrote concerning Unified Field Theory, “Our situation is the following. We are standing in front of a closed box which we cannot open, and we try hard to discover about what is and is not in it.”

Though this book will touch on all of salvation from justification to glorification, it will primarily focus on progressive sanctification. And as I read through Einstein’s biography a number of years ago I felt there was something common between Einstein’s pursuit and the pursuit everyone has – one solution that answers every problem. I remember after reading through Einstein I began praying to understand what I dubbed the “Unified Theory of Sanctification.” Seriously! I prayed, “Lord help me understand the relationship of law and gospel, justification and sanctification, faith and works, effort and dependence. Help me understand and be able to speak to how all these concepts relate to each other.” And my second and more desperate prayer was, “Lord, I don’t want to just understand the concepts, but I want to experience your work of sanctification to the depths of my being.”

If you are reading this I suspect you too are on a quest – A quest to know Jesus better and serve Him well. You are seeking to “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily besets” us all. You are seeking “to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Perhaps you have grown weary or despairing in the journey, or perhaps the compelling beauty of Christ has grown dim in your eyes – Maybe you are weary of life and struggling to understand its meaning. The central aim of this book is that we (author and reader) would have our gaze refocused on Jesus Christ who is for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

This is not a self-improvement book, I’m not looking for you to get it all figured out, rather my goal is that you would be encouraged to find soul-satisfying hope in Christ who is our life. I have spent most of my Christian life trying to determine what is and is not in the “box” of sanctification. And I have spent much of my Christian life in pursuit of the “holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” And while I have neither Einstein’s genius nor his mastery of subject area, I do have one thing in common with him – failure. This is not in any way a cause for me to celebrate – quite the opposite. Not only is my knowledge of sanctification frustratingly incomplete, but even more discouraging is the fact that my life doesn’t measure up to what I do understand. So you need to know right up front – I don’t have pat answers – if you are looking for that this isn’t the book for you. This is far more of an impressionistic painting than a hyper realistic one. There are fuzzy edges. There are things I cannot fully explain or connect. More than that there are certainly things I misunderstand – that I have wrong. And while God’s Word is certainly without error my comprehension of it is not. If you are anything like me when I crack open a new book I tend to think, “Finally this guy is going to give me the answers I’ve been looking for,” only to discover he is battling the same problems I am. I am a fallen human being. I don’t know all the answers and I don’t have it all figured (as this book should thoroughly demonstrate). All I can do is point as a fallible creature to the creator. At the end of the day our hope rests not on any man but one – The Man – Christ Jesus.

That is not to say that I have not profited greatly from many different authors. If the requirement for any of us is that we must understand it all and have it all working perfectly in order to minister to people we are of all men most miserable. Thomas Edison famously replied when asked about whether he was discouraged at his failure to produce an electric light bulb after many attempts, “I now know definitively 9000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work.” I am perhaps not quite as ebullient as Edison – there have been many difficult and discouraging days – but certainly the Lord has been a patient teacher. And my hope is that what Christ has taught and is teaching me through His word will be helpful and encouraging to you in your own pursuit of the one great treasure – the One who truly is the answer to all that is wrong with us – our glorious savior – Jesus Christ the Righteous. If this book enables you to see a little more of Jesus as precious and frees you by that look a little more from the snare of sin then it will have accomplished what I have earnestly prayed for myself and for you.

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Sermon: The Sovereignty of God and the Sufficiency of Christ

KJV was requested by the host church – It had been a while 🙂

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Would a Loving God Kill?

 

Powerful sequence in Amos 4

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
And lack of bread in all your places,

Yet you did not return to me, declares the Lord.

 

I also withheld the rain from you
When there were yet three months to the harvest…
…So two or three cities would wander to another city
To drink water, and would not be satisfied;

Yet you did not return to me, declares the Lord.

I struck you with blight and mildew…

Yet you did not return to me, declares the Lord

I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt;
I killed your young men with the sword…

Yet you did not return to me, declares the Lord

I overthrew some of you,
As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah…

Yet you did not return to me declares the Lord.

Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!

For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
And declares to man what is his thought,
Who makes the morning darkness,
And treads on the heights of the earth –
The Lord, The God of Hosts, is his Name!”

Questions and Implications.

1) What degree of sovereignty and involvement does God have over nature?

2) What degree of sovereignty and involvement does God have over the “bad” stuff that happens in our lives?

3) What is God’s ‘commitment level’ to maintaining our personal comforts?

4) What does God desire most for us to have according to this text?

5) How does a God who according to this passage causes hunger and thirst – destroys and kills fit with your definition of a loving God?

6) What is God’s purpose from the text for taking these actions?

7) What does the passage say about man’s stubborn pursuit of the creation over the creator?

8) Why do you think God would be so dramatically committed to this purpose?

Continue reading “Would a Loving God Kill?”

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5 Things We Could All Do to Support our Teachers, Students and Community

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All of us can see things we would like to be different in Moses Lake – reduced violence and drugs, better jobs and pay, more restaurants and shopping (Olive Garden and Winco anyone?). As a society, we have become so dependent on government to initiate and determine change that we have forgotten that we live in a country that (for now) recognizes our inalienable rights to be free. However, if we fail to avail ourselves of this freedom – if we fail to invest ourselves with our time and finances to create the community we would like to have, we will not only not have the community we want, but we will also lose the freedom that has long been cherished in this country. I’ll be the first to admit that I have felt powerless to change anything. I’ve had the attitude of “well – I guess that’s how it is.” I care – things seem off – but I don’t know what to do. Maybe you are in the same spot. Continue reading “5 Things We Could All Do to Support our Teachers, Students and Community”

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Why Did Jesus Weep?

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John 11:14 “Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.

John 11:35 “Jesus Wept”

What is Jesus glad about in verse 14? That “he was not there” Glad that he was not there to prevent Lazarus’ death! Not there to heal him of his sickness! Jesus says he is glad he was not there. Let this verse alone sink into your theology. God has something greater in mind for us than only healing or even preventing us from dying – Something so much greater in his mind that he says something as seemingly calloused as “I am glad I was not there” to heal and prevent death.

So what is this thing Jesus so passionately wants for us? Continue reading “Why Did Jesus Weep?”

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What is the Christian Gospel?

 

 

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What is the Gospel?

“God is Holy” – God is perfect in all of his attributes – glorious in all that he does. He is set apart – unique – His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He dwells in pure radiant unapproachable light. Nothing and no one can stand in His presence.

“We are not Holy” – We are messed up people. We lie. We cheat. We lust. We steal. We are angry. We hold grudges. We are selfish. We are arrogant. We gossip. We do not honor God. We do not love God.

“The Penalty for Sin is Death” – That’s bad news for everyone reading this, because we are all sinners – God doesn’t weigh our “good” and our “bad.” He declares that if we have ever violated his holy law in one place we stand guilty of violating all of His law and are subject to condemnation. We have violated in many places and our just penalty is eternal death in hell. Don’t let yourself deny this reality. Acknowledge your guilt before an infinitely holy God.

“Jesus Died the Death We Deserve” – Jesus is God in human form. He came to the earth, born of the virgin Mary and lived a sinless life. Even though he was God he laid aside the splendors of heaven and became a man and dwelt among us. He humbled himself and died a torturous death on the cross though he himself was innocent. In his death he paid the penalty required for sin – he became our substitute. Though we are the sinful ones, He took our sins on himself. Though we deserve the sentence of death, he died our death in our place.

“God Gives Us Jesus’ Life by Faith and Not by Works” – Not only did Christ’s death pay our penalty, but for all those who receive Him, God gives them the righteousness (perfection) of Jesus. So when we give up trying to prove ourselves good to God and instead acknowledge that we are broken sinners in need of a dramatic rescue – there is hope. God Himself has died for us paying our penalty and by his grace through faith imparts to us his perfection. For all who believe in Jesus stand not condemned not because we are good but because He is and He has given his righteousness by faith.

“Faith is Casting Yourself on the Lord” – As you consider these things – God’s holiness, your sinfulness, sin’s penalty and Jesus’ payment –
you will be tempted to think is that really true? Is it really enough that Christ died for me a sinner? I have to contribute something don’t I? I am still tempted by these thoughts even though I have been a Christian for many years. But the truth declared in Scripture stands that salvation comes not to the one who works or is good, but to sinners who cast themselves fully on the grace and mercy of our Savior Jesus Christ who died to take away the sin of the world!

Isaiah 53:4-6:
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows
yet we esteemed him stricken
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace.
and with his stripes we are healed
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on him
The iniquity of us all

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 4:4-5
Now to the one that works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

II Corinthians 5:21
For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God.

 

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The Solution for Shame in the Satisfaction of God

Intro:

Introduced to this church via Bob Smith –

Review Series – Beginning to End

Communion with God – is the great end for which we are made – Philippians 3:8-9

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—

Continue reading “The Solution for Shame in the Satisfaction of God”

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Moses Lake Bond Vote Recounted and Challenged

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1) I was and remain strongly in favor of the school bond passing. It is essential, in my opinion, to the success of our public schools and health of our community.

2) I was relieved that the bond had appeared to pass by the narrowest of margins

3) I was irritated by the challenge to the bond count but figured it would just delay the certification of a passing vote.

4) The attached article indicates the challengers have the following questions. a) Were all ballots with signature issues treated according to the law – that is was an attempt made to notify each uncounted voter that their ballot was not being counted due to signature issues? b) Were voters who had signature issues and voted in favor of the bond contacted by school officials while those who voted against the measure were not contacted? These are valid questions.

5) As much as I am in favor of the bond passing it must be passed legally and without partiality. If any manipulation or favoritism entered the process that should rightfully be exposed.

6) In short, I am in favor of the entire process and vote being exposed to intense scrutiny so that the vote results are unquestioned by the people in Moses Lake. This has the potential to divide us particularly if the process is not brought to light. My hope remains that the investigation will show everything was done with excellence and integrity and the vote stands, but I support the right of voters to inspect and challenge the integrity of the voting process particularly in a vote this close.

7) Finally, if the vote is shown to have been mishandled and the outcome reversed, I would encourage both sides to neither gloat nor demonize the other. It takes all of us to make this community successful. If the outcome ends up not being what we desired let us leave behind vitriolic statements and disparaging words, and with humility continue to invest in our community. Moses Lake is where we all live – let’s not tear it up over this issue. Can we not persuade and even argue passionately for what we believe is best in a way that inspires rather than destroys? I think we can and if we do we will build our town up regardless of vote outcomes because we will be truly demonstrating care for each other as a strong community should. So Moses Lake friends and neighbors lets stand together, even in our differences, for the good of this place we call home.

Thanks again for listening and considering.

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God of the Ordinary

If I could just have the passion and wisdom of John Piper, the fortitude and exegetical prowess of John MacArthur, the practical insights of Paul Tripp, the spiritual depth of Larry Crabb, the mind and theological grasp of Michael Horton, the thunder of Paul Washer, the grace of Brennan Manning, the knowledge of Tim Keller and the ministry reach of Billy Graham…Then…Oh then I would truly be satisfied….  And God would Really love me…
Or
Maybe
Probably not…
But maybe…
God uses ordinary people
Maybe God loves sinners
Maybe my chronic measuring of myself is a detriment to any ministry and hinders my sense of the extraordinary love of God for me.
And maybe the stamp of approval on my life will not be earned either by my actions or results but has been bought for me by His Son on the cross – Jesus who loved me and gave Himself for me..

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The Trump tax plan: adoption tax credit and conservative economics

Two ways to think about taxes. Everyone should pay a portion of their income (as small as possible) to ensure that defense and infrastructure needs are met or… 
the tax code should be used to press the agenda of whatever the current whim of the US Congress is – ie tax credits.
Tax credits also inflate the cost of the product they are incentivizing or artificially support what would otherwise be a nonviable product.
I am for the elimination of most tax credits (targeted) in exchange for the overall reduction and simplification of taxes for everyone (broad)
Reducing taxes on corporations is NOT a “give-away” for nasty corporations it is an expense reduction to YOUR employer that allows for better margins and increased profitability that benefits you as an employee and as a consumer. Corporations in the US are taxed higher than any other industrialized nation at 35%.
Eliminating a 500 dollar teacher’s credit, or housing interest deductions or electric car credit or student loan interest or state taxes while 1) doubling the standard deduction 2) increasing the child tax credit to 1600 (to offset the loss of the 4000 exemption) 3) lowering significantly the tax rate for nearly everyone 4) eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax 5) Making it much simpler to file (no milage records to keep, no need for most people to itemize) These changes more than offset any loss from tax credits – How does that not make sense?
The sacred “adoption credit” This is a more significant loss because it is such a large credit but here are some questions for all those waxing eloquent on the evils of removing this credit. 1) Why do you believe your neighbor should be required to pay anything via taxes for you to adopt a child? 2) What percent should your neighbor be forced to pay in order for your moral outrage to go down – 100% 75% 10%? 3) What was the cost of adoption before the government began subsidizing it? 4) Why do you believe that funneling your money through the government for adoption is MORE efficient than having your friends and family have more disposable income to aid with the cost of adoption?
A simplified code and reduction in actual taxes paid and removal of special credits for the elite in Washington’s agenda (even those I agree with) is a great proposal regardless of the fact that Donald Trump proposed it.

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