Immanuel

The Lord has really blessed me with a new church body. This past Sunday in community group we discussed briefly how Israel as a geographical place is not Holy by itself, and that there is no mountain that we should be worshipping on (John 4). It is very clear though that God puts certain people into your life to worship with.

This week I am in Kansas City and presently I am on the IHOP missions base campus. I drove here for a Family Medicine conference, but my joy was to get to be in this place again. Now, God does allow us to have experiences in certain places where we feel closer to Him; in fact I find that to be a very common thing. I realized though,as I pulled up to the parking lot of the campus, that this place is not special because of the building. God is not more present in this building than He is in any other place, but in a nostalgic emotional way He felt closer. In the prayer room I was able to really pray for my church body and the CMDA Bible study. Maybe it takes an eight hour drive and some awesome worship music to feel separated enough to express myself in prayer.

We started singing “Jesus I love You,” and it transformed into “We are lovers of Your Presence, lovers of Your Presence, lovers of Your Presence.. and that’s all we wanna be.”

I just got to meet with my friend Sarah that lives here in KC who I hadn’t seen since 2009. I’m staring at a portion of the coffee shop where I studied 1 Peter with my friend Jackie three years ago. This place has great significance in me in encouragement to share the Gospel and to be continually in prayer and to be sober minded as Peter says. Let’s add one more.. it’s something God keeps trying to teach me. Sarah asked me, “What do you love about your new church?” My first response was because the preaching is amazing and the prayer is consistent, but I dug deeper and said “because they are so humble that they let the Spirit in to change our lives despite the knowledge and style, and God has really changed me there over the past year.”

Finally, when I sat down again to write I remembered. My new church is called Immanuel.. so was my first church.. and the church I went to for my theology group.. so what? Immanuel means “God with us” or “the God that is with us.” He wrote a song for me called “Home to us” when I moved to Louisville.. I was homesick and needed to be close to Him and the place was unfamiliar and didn’t feel like I could be. He changed that, but I still need to realize that He is my home. God is the Gospel. I can’t get away from Him and I need to be a “lover of His Presence”.. and that’s all I wanna be.

Why Service?

Read Mark 10:31-45

“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:42-45 ESV)

Jesus is the ultimate, perfect example of a man who walked by the Power of the indwelling Spirit of God, and He did not Lord His leadership over us. He came to serve and die by serving.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)

“God doesn’t need your good works, but other people do.” Martin Luther

Where do we get caught in the snare of the devil?

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-4 ESV)

Check your hearts, is there pride in you for serving the needy? Ask God to change your hearts to serve others for His sake, not to look good.

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17 ESV)

How do we keep ourselves focused on Christ’s finished work of the Gospel?

Who is really giving/serving here?
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18 ESV)

“The Giver gets the Glory,” John Piper. Read Colossians 1:15-20.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” (Colossians 1:18 ESV)

Effort should from gratitude, contentment, and acceptance in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Favorite CS Lewis Quotes so far

CSL: Anxiety is not only a pain to be assuaged but also a weakness to be pardoned by God.

God’s love is relentless in its determination that we be cured of our sins, at whatever the cost to us or to Him.

Either Jesus is the Son of God; or a madman or worse. But His being just a great teacher? He’s not left that open to us.

How monotonously alike all tyrants and conquerors have been: how gloriously different are the saints.

“Be Ye Perfect” isn’t a command to do the impossible. Christ is going to make us creatures that can obey that command.

Our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We’re half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition. When infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum, because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. -The Weight of Glory

If the universe is so bad… how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good Creator?

Home to Us



You gave birth to the mountains
Yet You bend low to hear our prayers
Satisfy us in the morning
With sweet tastes of Your unfailing love

Cuz You are home to us
You are home to us
Satisfy us in the morning
With sweet tastes of Your unfailing love

How high are Your ways!
I cannot trace Your paths
How high are Your thoughts!
I cannot do the math
For my small brain to realize the infinite
Of this Holy Perfect Penitent

Cuz You are home to us
You are home to us
Satisfy us in the morning
With sweet tastes of Your unfailing love

Cuz You are home to us
You are home to us
Satisfy us in the morning
With sweet tastes of Your unfailing love

Gandhi’s Advice to Missionaries (revised)

Over winter break I found an amazing quote made by Gandhi in a really old missions book. I think the book is heavier than every book in my library combined. Its just a bunch of old missions journals from one year and it is at least 1000 pages. The book was owned by my pastor (Rev. Butch Vernon) at Thoroughbred Community Church in Nicholasville/Wilmore, KY. I took an interest in it because of it’s shear weight, significantly aged pages, and of course it’s title, “The Missionary Review of the World.” Epic.

“At a gathering of Indian Christians and British missionaries which was held before his imprisonment, Gandhi was asked how Christians could make Christianity a real force in the national life of India. He replied, ‘I would suggest four things. First, that all your missionaries and Indian Christians should begin to live as Jesus Christ did. Second, you should all practice your religion without adulterating it or toning it down. In the third place, I would suggest that you should emphasize the love side of Christianity more, for love is central in your religion. Another suggestion I would make is that you should study non-Christian religions more sympathetically in order to find the truth that is in them, and then a more sympathetic approach to the people will be possible.” (p 753 The Missionary Review of the World, September 1922)

I had always heard that Gandhi had some good things to say, but he said something that magnifies the Christian religion, that’s amazing! There is a quote I’ve always heard that hurts me deeply; it is an answer to the question why Gandhi was not a Christian paraphrased: I love your Jesus, but I hate your Christians (sic). Actual quote: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Harsh. So Gandhi lifted up Jesus and Christianity as a religion, but would not become a Christian himself because of how he perceived that Christians lived. His first three suggestions to missionaries were really indicting. They say exactly how I feel that Christians should live: in imitation of Christ, with zeal for the Gospel of God, and with love as a major point of Christian life.

I mentioned this to a friend the morning after I found the quote. I told him, “I totally agree with everything Gandhi is saying in the first three suggestions… but I have trouble with the fourth one.”

His question was, “Should we?” As if to say: Does the fourth suggestion fit? Is it something Christians should do? Should we study other world religions to find the “truth” that is in them? Or should we struggle with the fourth suggestion?

My answer was basically this:
If Gandhi meant that we should see that other religions have truth claims that are similar to or identical to ours, then he’s right. People are more sympathetic with common ground, and it is okay to acknowledge that God has given general revelation about his character to everyone. Paul says in Romans 1 that this is why the nations are “without excuse,” because knowing God they did not honor Him or give thanks to Him for who He is. They see parts of Him, but they choose to serve created things rather than the Creator.

If Gandhi meant that we haven’t found all Truth and must search in other religions to find things that we missed, then I disagree. In Christ we have all things needed for Godliness. “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” 2 Peter 1:2-4

Christians need to look no further for spiritual fulfillment past what the Word of God offers us. Any teaching within the scope of Scripture is acceptable, but if we are trying to supplement our faith with other religions then we have missed the point. Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle puts it simply,”Jesus plus anything ruins everything.” Pastor Driscoll addresses spiritualism in a recent sermon called “Receive Power” to the Mars Hill congregation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The sermon speaks of the activity of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life, and how Christ in the flesh depended on God to empower Him by that Spirit. Committed followers of Jesus have this same Spirit indwelling us, and He will guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) Praise God!

See another post about the shorter Gandhi quote: http://www.challies.com/articles/gandhi-doesnt-like-us

Ghuna’s Fire


Wow! This weekend I was so glad to come home and hear from Ghuna Kumar, who spoke at our church and Bible study. Humbled may be more of the word I’m looking for. This pastor from Chennai, India has such a fire for the Gospel, and fire is what he spoke of last night. It consumes our old desires and cleanses us, it leaves us broken at the feet of God saying “Here am I.” It takes 120 disciples and brings in thousands more, and more were added to their number daily (Acts 2). Please pray that I bring that fire with me to the med school, pray that I would bring that fire to my house in Louisville, and eventually to take that fire into the world around me. Ghuna said tonight, “When we return to the Lord, we come into the harvest, and there is great blessing.” Let’s return to the Lord and find great blessing as Ghuna said, “under the wing of Christ.”

Prodigal Daughter

Two jobs just ain’t enough to get through
To get through to you
You say your life isn’t tough
But I don’t believe you

You hide behind your smile
Protesting all the while
Saying, “There’s no way in Hell I’m ever going home”

You say, “They don’t love me anymore.
They don’t love me and I’m sure of it;
This time I quit.
They don’t love me anymore.
They don’t love me and I think its time
That I just run away from this.”

You hide yourself like a treasure in a field
One day the King will come and find you
You’ve buried yourself,
like a pearl at the bottom of the sea
Saying, “Oh, you’ll never find me here.”

But He loves you enough to call you the Kingdom
He loves you enough to call you His Bride
He loves you enough to call you the Kingdom
Oh, won’t you come step inside?

Cuz He loves you more
He loves you and I’m sure of it
I’m sure of it
He loves you more
He loves you, and I think its time
You stopped running away
I think its time I stopped running away
I think its time
We stopped running away from Him.