bookmark_borderMarch 31st, 2023

John 3:17 CSB – For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Romans 8:1 CSB – Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus…

Mark 16:16 CSB – Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

In the software development world, there is a logical construct that goes like this:

IF something EQUALS somethingElse

     THEN do aThing

ELSE do aDifferentThing

This little bit of logic is one of the core logical statements that drive every bit of electronics you use today. Essentially, the logic is comparing two values in the first line and tells the program what to do if the values match. If the values match, the second line tells the program which steps to perform. If the values do not match, the logic tells the program to perform the actions in the third line. 

If we apply it to the three verses of scripture above, we get this:

IF yourSalvation EQUALS Saved

     THEN You will not be condemned for your sin.

ELSE You will be condemned for your sin.

In computer logic, something can only be considered True or False. There is no in-between. A bit is either on, or off. When we apply a little programming logic to God’s word, it serves to simplify scripture. If you are saved, then you will not be condemned for your sin. If you are not saved, you will be condemned for your sin.

Let’s apply that to the times that we sin. When we sin, there’s typically guilt, because the Holy Spirit convicts us of that sin. We are to ask forgiveness for and to repent of that sin. Does that mean we will be condemned for that sin if we don’t ask for forgiveness? I don’t think so. Why? Because of the blood of Jesus Christ. 

1 John 1:7 CSB – But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Let’s put that into the logic from above.

IF weWalkInTheLight EQUALS True

     THEN We have fellowship with one another, and Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin.

ELSE 1 John 1:6 …we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.

Putting all of this together, you get to the core of salvation, and an understanding of how simple it is. Believe in Jesus and be saved. If you sin, you will not be condemned for it. Should you ask for forgiveness? Yes, in order to honor God. Will your salvation ever be revoked because of it? Absolutely not.

bookmark_borderMarch 24th, 2023

Matthew 11:28-30 CSB – “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Psalm 23 CSB –The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need. He lets me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

This is one of those moments in scripture where an Old Testament passage seems to expand on a New Testament verse. Both speak to the idea that Jesus is there, not only to support you in your burden but to direct you down a path that you may not be able to see otherwise. In the first verse, Jesus asks that you be yoked to him because when you are, you can’t go anywhere other than where Jesus wants you to go. In the second verse, Jesus leads you with calm authority, ensuring that you step on solid ground, and have plenty of good things to eat, and peaceful places to rest. Notice that in both verses, Jesus is not only there, but he’s doing most of the work for you. How cool is that? The creator of the universe, the one that gave up his divinity for you, died for you, rose again for you, and ascended to Heaven for you, STILL wants to lead you as a common shepherd would lead his sheep. I find great comfort in that. Jesus will never be so mighty that he won’t still come after a lost sheep.

bookmark_borderMarcy 17th, 2023

1 Peter 4:10 CSB – Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are some things that I’m just never going to be good at. I’ll never be good at meal planning, dancing, or acting spontaneously. I’ll never be good at being chill while flying on an airplane, staying calm in the mess that is Saturday afternoon shopping at Costco, or remembering to pull the shower curtain closed after a shower. However, just as I am aware of all of the things that I’ll never be good at, I am also aware of the things that I am good at, specifically the things that I think God has given to me as one of his “varied graces”.

For a long time, I used those gifts for selfish reasons, thinking that if God indeed granted me those gifts, then it was my right to use them as I see fit. It is a gift after all, and gifts don’t require any sort of response except maybe a thank you. However, that’s worldly thinking and is out of line with the economy of God. God has gifted us with various abilities and skills so that we can be of service to others, for God’s glory. For each gifting that we have, we should intentionally seek ways to exploit that gift for the betterment of people outside of ourselves. Just as Jesus poured himself out for us on the cross, I believe it to be our responsibility to pour ourselves out for others, using the giftings that God has given us. In that way, we can become more and more like Christ.

bookmark_borderBanned Books

Last year, I started hearing about books being banned from libraries across the US. I looked at several banned book lists and realized that most of the books listed were books that I’d never read, or hadn’t read in a very long time. I decided to compile a list of banned books and start working through them. So far, I’ve read 1984, A Farewell to Arms, A Separate Peace, and am nearly finished with All the King’s Men. All of the books have been fantastic in their own ways, with A Separate Peace being probably the best book I’ve ever read. After each chapter, I read the summary and the analysis of the book on to ensure I fully understand it. But all in all, this is an incredibly rewarding experience. Earlier in my life, I tried to read Hemingway and got distracted by the run-on sentences. I noticed that with A Farewell to Arms, but after a few pages, it melted away and I was able to focus on the story. I get it now… I get why so many people adore Hemingway… His writing is just so powerful.

On some level, I guess I can understand why these books are banned. But on a stronger, more profound level, that’s all the reason more to keep them on shelves. Many of these books were written with certain historical periods in mind (or the author was writing about an era that he/she lived through and/or experienced), and the writing reflects the attitudes, language, and culture of that time. Some books are written with thought to the future based on the attitudes, language, and culture of the author’s present time (at the time that the book was written), which hopefully gives us a glimpse of what the future may become. These are not necessarily bad things. People need to not only understand our histories but our potential futures. History does not change because don’t like it. But our futures can be molded by what we learn from the past.

If you’ve made it this far in my little essay, please only take away this; read more books. Read the books that others say aren’t good “for the children”. Don’t take a banned book at face value, get in there and read it for yourself to determine if you think it should or shouldn’t be on the shelves. I think you’ll find that more often than not, more people need to know about that book and read it themselves, which means the book needs to be more available rather than less.

bookmark_borderMarch 10th, 2023

2 Corinthians 12:9 CSBBut He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.

I’m going to be completely honest. I’m tired. Most of my energy is gone by the time I get home from work, but that’s the time that my family needs me the most. Coming up with the energy to be a good husband and dad is really tough, especially with our youngest not giving us enough sleep at night. Add to that the fact that I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks and we have a busy weekend ahead of us. I’m just… tired. Each morning, if I don’t pray for anything else, I ask “Father, please give me the strength to keep my eyes on you and get through this day.” The result is like when we tithe, and the numbers just work themselves out, even if we can’t make sense of them. Somehow, I get through the day. Somehow, I keep putting one foot in front of the other and continue to march forward. God’s provision is like that. Somehow, he gives you just enough to meet your need for that day. The economy of God doesn’t care about pesky little things like numbers and measurements; it cares about your heart and your soul and your relationship with the Father. So on this day, I hope you pray that God gives you what you need for the day, no more, no less, because my experience has shown that he’ll never not answer that prayer.

bookmark_borderMarch 3rd, 2023

1 Peter 4:8-11 CSB8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. 10 Just as each one has received a gift, use it to serve others, as good stewards of the varied grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let it be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, let it be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.

I love this passage of scripture because it nicely sums up how our relationship with God should be. Out of Christ’s love for us, and by his sacrificial example, we are to love others like Christ loves his church. We are to use the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of others, so that we may give God glory and praise. Service to others, in love, is an act of worship that I believe is a sweet smell to God. Through our works for others, via our God-enabled gifts, we point people to Christ instead of toward ourselves, while also producing a multitude of fruit. I specifically like verse 11, because it talks about the idea of having such a closeness with God, that when we speak, our attitudes and feelings should be so aligned with God’s that our words and his are indistinguishable. This is how Jesus lived every single day while he was on Earth. Peter was a witness to it, and so he knew it to be true. It seems like this should be a motivational force for us, to walk so closely with God that when we speak, we should speak as one who speaks God’s words, and when we serve, we should serve with all the strength God provides. To know that this level of intimacy with God is available to us, through Christ, but is also where the sanctification process is driving us, is an incredible gift that should at some level humble and delight us.