Why you Should be Baptized


Baptism is one of two ordnances given by Christ to the Disciples that they should follow. The other being communion. Baptism just like communion has taken on many forms and exactly how baptism is performed and when it is performed varies by culture, tradition, and denomination.

The word baptism is not exactly a transliteration of the Greek but it is close. βαπτίζω (baptizo) or βάπτισμα (baptisma) are the basic forms and one can see the similarity between those and the contemporary baptized and baptism. Most likely the Greek words were carried over into an English form long before formal English translations of scripture meaning Christians were baptizing cross culturally from the very early church days and that included evangelism to the English speakers of ancient days. Transliteration typically means the translators when translating the scriptures from Greek to the English did not translate the original Greek word into a matching English word or phrase. They kept the original Greek word but converted it to the phonetic equivalent in the target alphabet. It seem likely that the now common “Baptism” or “Baptized” were already in use when the formal King James Version was created thus cementing that word in our contemporary language.

So what does Baptism mean? If they had simply translated the word what would that translation look like using the original meaning? Strong’s Dictionary provides the basic definition for baptisma as the “process of immersion, submersion and emergence” usually in regard to dipping something into water and then removing it out of the water. Strong’s Dictionary for baptizo provides the definition “to make overwhelmed (i.e. fully wet)”. Baptism as originally envisioned by the early church was a full emersion or washing of a person.

21 Baptism (baptisma), which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21 ESV

38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized (baptizo) him. Acts 8:38 ESV

So why not translate the above as both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and Philp made the eunuch fully wet or Philip dunked the eunuch under the water? Whatever their reasons I am grateful for the God directed outcome and significance to everyone that the original word was preserved. Baptism is a significant event in the life of a believer both spiritually and physically and so it is fitting that the near original word be used to describe the event.

Baptism then as practiced by the typical evangelical protestant church is a public service either inside a church made baptistery or outdoors in a pool, lake, or river where the participant acknowledges Christ as savior and then they are bodily immersed in water. This service is intended as a public profession of faith by the participant to say that he or she has accepted Christ as their savior and that they want to follow Christ all the days of their life. Ideally this public profession is representative to what has already occurred spiritually between the individual’s spirit and the Holy Spirit.

Why Baptism and who should participate? Let me start with who should be baptized. Baptism being described in this post should only occur with children or adults who are fully aware and able to say yes this is what has happened spiritually and this is what they want to proclaim publically. Infant baptism as performed by some Christian traditions would be something different. If as a reader of this you were baptized as a child but not of a choice that you made personally then I would like for you to consider this baptism of obedience that represents what happened between you and God. In the example of Philip and the eunuch baptism was something the eunuch wanted to do. It was a response to his hearing the good news of Jesus.

32 Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter and like a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opens not his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36 And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” Acts 8:32-36 ESV

Hearing the good news of Jesus from Philip the eunuch wanted to cement in the physical what had just occurred in his heart. Submission and obedience.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Ephesians 1:13 ESV

Who should be baptized then? Those who have submitted to Jesus Christ. Do you know Him? Have you been saved? Born again into a life that follows the Spirit? If so then you are someone who should be baptized.

Finally we need to address the why question. Why should you be baptized? Baptism does not save. Only faith in Jesus Christ saves. Christianity is not a works based religion.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

Baptism does not save so why do it? Baptism is a tangible and public event that clearly proclaims to other people where the participant stands in regard to God. One could be saved in a real relational moment with God. But God does not want that private relational moment to be hidden unknown by friends and family. Paul in his letter to the Romans illustrates the point.

10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Romans 9:10 ESV

Paul is not saying that a confession saves because we are not saved by works. Paul is saying that the outflow of what happened in the heart is a public and spoken profession. “I have been saved. Christ is my Lord and Savior” it is a message that burns internally so that it has no room except for escape.

Baptism is a formal event to mark in time a date and a place where an individual publically proclaimed before friends and family that Jesus is Lord.

The Hero of Spirit and Life

Human Effort

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What are superheroes? Well does it not say it all in the name… Superman! They are super human. Better than humans. They have that “X-factor”. Something that makes them better. In the past these superheroes were part God, part man. Hercules son of Zeus the strongest man to ever live. Now there are people in general culture who believe we will one day evolve these super human abilities. Yes your descendants might one day be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. For me in the here and now I have only evolved the super human skill of digesting cheese (that is no joke click the link). When I watch TV or Movies then I know that every “hero” makes the superhuman look easy. Falling, shooting, hacking computers there is no limit to their pain tolerance, hand eye coordination, or knowledge. Those are heroes that are…

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Lesson #3: Submission to God in all Things

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God is in control, God is all powerful, God is creator of all things, God is all knowing, and God does not make mistakes. We are so independent and so self-involved that it is hard to see where we stand with God. We as Americans love our freedom and independence to the extent that it sometimes clouds our view of who we are in relation to God.

  1. Are you parenting skills and marriage relationship in control?
  2. Is your family life closed off to the outside world so that there is no space for God to work?

To help answer these questions on submission we will deep dive into Satan and if he submits to God. How could Satan be who he is if God did not allow it? We must all understand that we are here to serve and submit to God. Even Satan. While God does not tell Satan to be evil, God does permit and give Satan room to operate. Independent of Satan’s personal preference he serves God and submits to the rules God has put in place for him.  

5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Luke 4:5-7 ESV

 Satan when he tempted Jesus shows Jesus all the glory that the world has to offer. The power of army’s and kingdoms all for Jesus to direct. What is interesting to note is that Satan tells Jesus that authority in these kingdoms has been delivered to him. When Satan says the kingdoms of the world have been delivered up to him he uses a word that one might describe as when a judge has delivered a prisoner over to an evil prison warden. Jesus used the same word to describe how he would be “delivered” to the Gentiles for them to put him to death. 

32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. Luke 18:32 ESV 

The Gentiles were given charge over Jesus and were allowed by God to crucify Jesus. God permitted this crime on His son. In the same way the worldly kingdoms have been given over to Satan. Satan is not free to destroy at will. God has placed boundaries on his authority.  

9 Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1:9-12 ESV 

At the beginning of the book of Job Satan comes before the throne of God and challenges God in regard to Job. He claims that Job serves God only because God has blessed him. What is most interesting in this exchange is that Satan tells God to stretch out his hand to crush Job and that Job will curse God because of it. In response God gives Satan permission to do just as Satan suggested, but God places rules on what Satan can do. God does not bring evil to Job, but he does permit Satan to commit evil acts.

 So now let us turn this back to ourselves, our marriage, and our place with God. Are we dependent or independent? Do we see how powerful and in control God is of everything that is happening in this world and in our lives? Paul in Romans describes humankind as slaves. Slaves of Sin or Slaves of God. Have you ever thought of yourself this way as a slave? Slaves still have free will to choose how they will react to the situation however they are not free to opt out of slavery. I have freedom to jump from a cliff but I do not have the freedom to choose to fly to safety because I am bound by the rules of gravity. 

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23 ESV 

Slavery was more common in the past so if Paul were writing to our context today he might choose to say we are either servants to our sins and earthly desires or we are servants of God and his eternal desires for us. Are we here to seek our own ambition or do we see ourselves as servants to God? If you seek your own ambition and cast no concern for God and his role in your life then you are a slave and serve sin. 

  1. What are your ambitions and goals? Are these in line with what God wants for you?
  2. What are you ambitions for your children? Will those ambitions bring glory to you alone or also God?
  3. Does your spouse have a part of your ambitions and goals? Is your spouse on board with that vision?


Lesson #2: Conflict in the Home

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Have you ever been angry or upset because of the action of others? Is anger a SIN? We sometimes have the idea that anger is not called for and so we do not talk about it or we hide it away from our family. Of course we can also live with our anger so out in the open that it causes conflict in the home. Anger is not a bad thing in and of itself. God is described as “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6, Psalm 86:15). The key here is being slow and justified when allowing anger to be realized. God’s righteous anger is not selfish or a quick tempered lashing out. His anger bears up patiently waiting for us His creation to repent and call on His great mercy.

How do you deal with the anger and conflict that comes to any marriage and family? Do you practice the cold shoulder? Do you yell, scream, and throw stuff? Or do you plot unpleasant difficulties for the target of the anger? Whatever our anger and whatever the source God wants for us to face it head on and reconcile that trouble.

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 ESV

What God does not want is for anger to dwell in our hearts because it will eat us up and become bitterness. This bitterness is where the sin dwells and our enemy is more than happy to destroy a marriage with bitterness. He wants for us to get it out in the open and work through it.

15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; Hebrews 12:15 ESV

There is another anger that many of us would not want to recognize or admit and that is anger toward God himself. Are you or have you been angry with God? If you said yes then you have much company. God sometimes asks from us and burdens us with requests and situations that make us upset. Jeremiah a prophet of God was given the task to tell the people that they would be conquered by Babylon and exiled away from their homeland. Jeremiah was beaten and put in stocks because of the bad news he kept delivering. This was a shoot the messenger kind of situation and he was very upset with God.

7 O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. 8 For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long. 9 If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. Jeremiah 20:7-9 ESV

Job an Old Testament patriarch held more reason to be angry at God than anyone. God had allowed his wealth, workers, and children to be removed in violent occurrences. Job himself was plagued physically with boils all over his body. Job had an expectation to be angry but he has an amazing perspective on the situation.

9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her… “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:9-10 ESV

“It is well with my soul” is one of the greatest hymns ever written. The author, Horatio Spafford, was a business man who had lost much of his wealth and so he sent his family back to London from America. His family of four daughters and a wife were in a boat that sank on the trip. Only his wife survived the tragedy. He knew the ship sank but did not know if his family survived. His wife sent him a telegraph “survived alone”. I personally can’t imagine the grief and possible anger I might have against God in such a situation. Horatio’s response to the tragedy was to write “Whatever my lot thou has taught me to say it is well it is well with my soul”. This man is an example not unlike Job who holds out a perspective that is eternal and gives Glory to God in all things.

As with our spouse and so it is with God we must keep an eternal perspective. We must love one another and bear up with each other in love just as God has loved us. Do not be upset with God when you see others who seem to have a better life or circumstances. We have what we need from God.

The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand, Isaiah 14:24 ESV

Review with the small group the take home worksheet and discuss the questions together. Here are the small group discussion questions and a link to the take home worksheet…

  1. Are there any “open loops” that need to be resolved with your spouse or with God?
  2. Have you kept a safe distance from God because of a “no” or circumstance you do not like?
  3. Do you need to check-in with your spouse to lovingly confront any open issues?
  4. Do you need to apologize for a recent or long standing conflict?

Click here for a PDF copy of the take home worksheet

Lesson #1: Spiritual Transparency in the Home


Lesson #1 is the first step in a discipleship program. This program about the need to minister to the entire family and is part of a longer term conversation that all families should maintain on marriage, family, and child discipleship. What this lesson is not is a self-help series that simply contains basic cause and effect solutions to the routine conflict that all of us face each day as we work at our marriages and families. This is a discipleship program and should be executed inside of a small group to have a conversation with Christians who want to go deeper into their relationship with Christ and their families.

The goal of this program would be to draw closer to a spouse through Christ. The goal of this program would be to know that as parents we are discipling our children into a love for Christ that will set them on a path to serve Him for His glory. I pray and hope we all will hear from the Holy Spirit and take away meaningful upgrades to our knowledge of Him and how that impacts our relationship with family.

The first lesson will start with “Transparency” and focusing on our relationship with Christ in a corporate way with our spouse and children.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. Proverbs 18:1 ESV

Satan seeks to isolate. By cutting us off from each other inside the family and in turn from the church he has a better chance of speaking lies into our heart. In this isolation he also has a better chance of encouraging us to continue in our sins that will lead to death. One of the major lies that many families accept and many churches accept is that we should remain quiet in the public square, that our faith is personal, and that we pray only in the closest. The only acceptable conversations for public would be sports, politics, our children’s activities, and where we are headed on our next vacation, but almost never does our conversation go to Christ and his work in our family.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Compare Satan who is shown as a Lion prowling for someone to consume looking for an opportunity to cut some unfortunate soul off from the group to Christ who is shown as a Shepherd seeking the one to bring back to the 99. God intended us to be in community within a group, not isolated and alone.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Hebrews 3:13 ESV

Our testimony of what God is doing is encouragement to others and it is a lie from Satan that we keep our religion and relationship with Christ to ourselves. We need to be intentional about our dialog with others and intentional about bringing Christ into the conversation with our family. I love this introduction from Paul to the Romans.

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12 ESV

Do you long to see your spouse talk about what Christ is speaking into his/her life? Do you long to know what God is talking to your family about? Speak about these things with your spouse so that you may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. What an awesome spiritual gift that we might be missing in our lives.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 6:25-28 ESV

Paul seems to be asking Husbands to be like Christ by washing the marriage in the word of God so that both who are one flesh would be holy. Now husband and wife should follow Paul’s example. We need to prioritize the eternal of God over the temporary of self. In order to prioritize the eternal things of God we need to create a dialog between husband, wife, and children that is a comfortable natural outflow of our family’s cadence.

Here are the small group discussion questions and a link to the take home worksheet…

  1. Do you talk with your spouse about the spiritual and eternal burdens that you wrestle with God over?
  2. Do you ask your spouse to pray for you for the core struggles and the things that defeat you each day?
  3. If we asked your spouse would they know what you are currently reading or thinking about in regard to God? Is your relationship with Christ before the family or is it nonexistent to them?
  4. Do you keep a front up not sharing the burdens together because someone in the family must be the strong one?

Click here for a PDF copy of the take home worksheet



Why are you so Super Spiritual?

What does super spiritual look like? Is it following the laws to the letter? Is it living life in a monastery or in a farming utopia community away from the rest of the world? Maybe it is living with an anguished life that is always outraged at far away injustices. One should be able to tell from my tone that these are not the answer to the question. So what is super spiritual and maybe an even better question would be is super spiritual something that one should seek to achieve?

Spiritual as defined by Elwell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology is a “state of deep relationship to God”. This makes the idea of super spiritual seem odd. A deep relationship with God is either there or not. To add Super to that seems redundant especially if one thinks of a relationship with God to be extraordinary to begin with. The claim to be super spiritual or to accuse someone of being super spiritual is really better understood as super religious. For our purpose here I am going to define religious as the act of keeping or maintain the laws, customs, reverence, and disciplines related to the Christian church that one might be part of. Maintaining all of those rules can be done casually or intensely and in that case when one thinks of a super spiritual person what they might really be thinking of is a super religious person. And super religious people can be just down right annoying, impressive, frustrating, or all of the above at the same time.

Jesus had very harsh words for the super religious of his day. They came in the form of a ruling class of priests who had very detailed ceremonies and rules that must be followed. These men were very proud of their rules and the fact that only they could maintain the order of those rules.

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:25-28 ESV

Paul ran into the super religious even inside the Christian Church. These super religious people actually claimed to be “Super Apostles” claiming to be greater than Paul who was simply a regular apostle. This group of super apostles challenged Paul’s authority and wondered why he seemed week or timid in their presence. Not unlike a coward that boasts of his skills and the weakness of an adversary when said presence is not available.

5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. 2 Corinthians 11:5-6 ESV

So why did Jesus call the super religious hypocrites? He demonstrates the example in a parable.

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 ESV

The super religious Pharisee lived according to the laws and he compared himself to the tax collector that was most likely an evil unjust man. The Pharisee exalted his good works on the back of the horrible tax collector. Paul when speaking about the super apostles drew the same parallel.

But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12b ESV

Jesus teaching the disciples tells them that the tax collector humbled himself, boasted on nothing in this world, and confessed his failures to God in a real relationship of love, mercy, and God’s forgiveness.

Paul to make a point about the super apostles recounts his resume to let the Corinthians compare between himself and these men who boast in their greatness. Paul’s resume is impressive. He is after all the man called by Jesus to be the minister to the Gentiles and write a large portion of the New Testament. But Paul recounting his resume calls it foolishness to do so.

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 2 Corinthians 12:11 ESV

Paul tells us that he is nothing. He is humbled in his relationship with God the creator of the universe.

7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

God knowing what the power given to Paul for the good of the Church would make him like the Pharisee kept him humbled and dependent on the only true source of strength. That strength is not in man but God himself and a relationship with the Creator.

Spiritual is a state of relationship with God. Humbled and overwhelmed by His love. Weak but strong by His power. Resting in the arms not of self or men but the work, of Jesus Christ. This is where I want to be. Please don’t call me super religious because I try to live a life honorable to God. I know already how much I standout and make others uncomfortable with the direction of my life. It is not my intent to make people uncomfortable and please do not think I compare myself to anyone else because that as Paul said is foolish for me to do so. Know however that God has found me and started a relationship with me that I am unworthy and unfit to be part of. In that way I am spiritual and I wish to be more spiritual because Christ allows me passage to the King as His child. You too can have this spiritual nature if like the tax collector you humble yourself and ask for his mercy on your life.

Living Sacrifice

Is God the creator or did I come to be by random chance? The world tells me that this is an accident and meaningless. I am born, live, and die. To what end or for what purpose is not a valid question. But the Bible tells me that God a personal, relational, being created everything. In him and through him he spoke ideas, natural laws, moral laws, physical matter, and spirit into existence.  

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 ESV

 If it is true that God created then I exist because of his will and I am undone at his will. If God created then a very valid question is for what purpose God made this world and more specifically me. Was I made to seek my own selfish gain? Was I made to be good and do good? Am I making him happy and does he even care? These questions are deep and many of us try to avoid where these types of questions lead. Avoiding these thoughts is easy there are so many distractions to occupy our minds and prevent such an introspective look into our souls. Yet even then in the quiet moments we all have these thoughts pulling at our being. So what is it that God wants? 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:1-3 ESV

 Think about what Paul has written to be a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God. Why because it is our spiritual act of worship. God made the universe and mankind to worship him. To give glory and adoration to him. We do that through how we live and how we serve God who created us.  

Paul who is an example of a living sacrifice giving up power and money to follow God tells us that we will be able to test and approve that God is there, that God is good, and that God’s plan in creation is perfect. Additionally Paul tells us that we who worship and give to our Creator what he deserves will find that his plan is pleasing to us who sacrifice. 

Will you take a step of faith and see what it is that God has for you? The first step of worship to the Creator is adoration and thanksgiving. Why not start with a simple conversation, prayer, to the one who made you. “Father in Heaven, creator of all things, you and you alone are worthy of my devotion. I thank you for making me and giving me life. Thank you for the place you caused me to be born, I thank you for the family that you made me to be part of, and I thank you for seeking me out to have a relationship with you. I am unworthy of your attention and I am blessed because of you.” In the name of Jesus we pray and build this relationship because in Jesus we have a way to be in relationship with God. Also know that it was Jesus, the word, who actually created us and gives us life.  

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 ESV

The Object of Desire

What do you desire? Do you want the attention of others? Do you want to be wealthy? Do you want to be powerful? How far are you willing to go to grab hold of these objects that you desire? For me personally I desire the comforts of this world in the form of pleasure and selfishness. Left in my natural state I would be manipulative of others to get them to serve my selfishness. I would not really care about others but would at the root only seek what they could do for me. In my natural state I am a self-absorbed, miserable, and evil. When I was 11 before this nature inside of me could have an opportunity to exert itself in full measure God spoke to me and asked me to embrace his son Jesus Christ. I was surprised at this encounter with God. I did not expect to meet him in such a way, but this encounter is as real as any interaction with any other person even if it was not in a physical way. I tested him and tried to negotiate with him however in the end submission to Jesus was the only way forward. Undone by a loving creator I died that day. The evil, selfish, fool that I was ready to become died that day. I am overwhelmingly grateful for God coming to me and seeking me out.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:3-4 ESV

The person I am today is not who I would have been if left to myself. Please know that I am still a sinner who does selfish things and I see glimpses of the old person in me, but my desire is changed. I do not embrace that selfishness. I see people in a different way that is compassionate for the hardship and difficulties that each of us have in this temporary world. Service to God and listening to his voice have become a priority. My desire is to grow closer to the God who made me. My desire is to point everyone around me to his glory.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 ESV

A great way to know what you desire is to take a look at how you identify yourself. In this world today self-identity categorizes and places each of us into tribes and social groups. If I said I am a Georgia football fan then one might rightly understand that I desire for the University of Georgia to win a national title in football. If I said I am a Christian Democrat then I have categorized myself in such a way that one might safely assume that I desire to see Christian values like serving the poor advanced through the arm of government. If I say I am a gay Christian then one can assume that same sex relationships is a priority of my desires. If I say I am an American one might safely assume I seek to see America be a world power and champion freedom everywhere. However I self-identify then leads me to act and champion those ideas.

The problem with all those tribes and group no matter how noble is that they put Christ and His kingdom in second place. Christ is transformational and a new life takes form solely in him. I need to take on no other modifiers to the name of Christian because I have died to all those other ambitions. I am neither gay, heterosexual, democrat, nor republican. Someone might call me American but I would never accept the title of American Christian. Any self-identification attached to the front of Christian betrays the object of desire from Christ and brings into question the status of the sinful desires. Is the old nature there because of bad teaching or is the old nature there because God was not encountered to begin with?

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. Romans 6:6 ESV

If you are modifying your Christian name with something of this world then self-examine and see if the old nature is still alive after all. While I live in this world with the passions and desires my view is eternal. Christians must understand that this life is temporary. Jesus put it this way…

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21 ESV

If politics, football, career, lust, or any other passion in this world is more important than being obedient to Christ then you are still a slave to sin. Repent! Cry out to God for his mercy and seek his kingdom no matter what it costs in this temporary world.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:16-18 ESV

The Gospel is the Only Way Forward

Friday the Supreme Court changed the landscape of America. I am not sure anyone should have been surprised by the outcome, but the reality of crossing that threshold where marriage has been redefined in every state will have far reaching changes to the culture of this country. While I understood the possibility and grasped the impact intellectually the reality of the ruling on Friday left my emotional side overwhelmed and shocked. If anyone felt that the homosexual or gay lifestyle was promoted in overdrive before this ruling then all will see it become ingrained in every institution from preschool to the workforce to Government regulations. What I would like to look at today is the response from those who fear God and those who put their hope in Him.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:22-25 ESV

 First Christians must understand that the society and world that we live in is at war spiritually speaking and that our neighbors are in the dark to the reality. God in His wisdom and in His timing has allowed our country to be turned over to its lusts and selfishness. Our materialism, disobedience to parents, and our capacity for selfishness is bringing the culture to ruin. Christians even have been caught up in the lie of this world that we must store up treasures here on earth. We are at a point where the larger culture serves itself rather than God. God has relented and given the culture over to the foolish desires.  

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 ESV

 Christians will enter into a period of defensiveness. Christians will be asked to participate in the celebrations of this newfound way of life. Christians will be pressured to support and champion the new order because the world wants approval. Christians must not be angry or depressed or even seek to withdraw from the culture. Christians must stand in the face of social pressure, attacks, and persecution. Christians must continue to love their neighbor and the Gospel of Jesus Christ must become our standard flag as we pray for those neighbors. 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 ESV

 For Christians in America standing against the now institutionalized reality of same sex unions will be overwhelming as the culture that once was aligned with Godly values has left the Christian foundation that was once enjoyed. Are Christians ready to be unashamed of the good news of Christ? Are Christians ready to live by faith? Are Christians ready to stop building treasure in this life and put their hope in the eternal? What if corporate America becomes a place where Christians are no longer welcome? Are we willing to lose our jobs and our material lifestyle just for posting a blog like this one I am writing today? (If you think I am being over dramatic click here.) For Christians it is time to read the red letters of the Bible and understand how Christ operated in a world that hated him. If you are shocked to learn that the world hated him remember that the world put him on a cross to die for being Jesus. Understand also that the world will hate those that follow him. For those Christians who love God, are unashamed, and are living by faith our response to the world must be in love and longsuffering.  

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV

 One last word of encouragement to anyone who might be tempted to support this new order or maybe even be silent before it. Be encouraged from the example of our spiritual forefathers who were also ordered to be silent in a culture that hated them.  

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:29-32 ESV

Do you have a Relationship with your Bible?

my Bible v2

Where is your Bible? Is it digital text on an iphone? Might it be a dusty book that is setting on a shelf somewhere? Or are you one of those with the sun baked bible in the back of your car that has not been moved in years? My bible the one I actually read and try to keep with me fits in my back pocket. It is compact where highlights, notes, and pages worn are a comfort to me as I know where each treasure already discovered can be found. This bible is also my favorite reading version the New International Version (NIV) 1984 translation. Do you have a relationship with your Bible like this? Do you know what translation your bible contains? When I was in high school the Holy Spirit started encouraging me to read the Bible. I had never read it outside of church before. So one night I found a black leather bound bible that had been given to me at some point in the past. I started trying to read it. It was a King James (KJV) translation with all the thees and thous from the King’s English of another world. I struggled to read it and it put me to sleep every time. I then remembered a children’s bible that my Grandmother had given me when I was younger. It was childish looking and had a picture of Jesus on the cover holding a lamb. I wanted to read the Bible so why not give this one a try. This Bible was a more modern translation called the Living Bible (TLB). This translation is paraphrased and intended to be readable. It was in this bible that I was able to read and comprehend amazing things about God and His words to His children and to everyone in Creation. The Bible is an amazing work. The contents are provocative and shocking. Many people assume they know what it contains however if you have never taken the time to read it then your assumptions are most likely wrong. I became excited about God and His word but there was not a chance that I as someone in High School was ever going to take that Children’s bible out of my room to be seen in public. Thankfully a friend gave me a student bible with the NIV translation. The version that I still love to read even today. King James is a literal translation of the original text and it is a translation the way people spoke in 1611. The Children’s Bible was great to casually read but TLB is a paraphrase that does not seek to keep the exact words of the original text. The NIV is a hybrid called “dynamic equivalent”. The goal of the translation is to keep it as accurate as possible to the original language while updating the grammar and word order to be more in line with the English of a modern reader. This version was immediately readable to me and I set upon a course to read it from start to finish like one would with any other book. Today I still love the NIV however I do not use it to study, or teach. For accuracy and seeking a literal translation I recommend the ESV or even the NKJV.

Listed here is a table that categorizes different popular translations or versions of the Bible so one can compare and contrast. Each version has a different purpose and should be used in the right context. I highly recommend the ESV for those looking to start reading the Bible.

Literal Translation Dynamic Equivalent Paraphrase
King James (KJV) New International (NIV) Living Bible (TLB)
New King James (NKJV) New American Bible (NAB) The Message (MSG)
New American Standard (NASB) New Revised Standard (NRSB)
English Standard Version (ESV) New Living (NLT)

Reading the Bible will change a Christian’s life. We as children of God cannot come into His presence and not be changed. God is Holy and he is powerful. Just reading what He has written leaves a mark. Moses when he was on Mount Sinai and interacting with God, like receiving the Ten Commandments, asked if he could see God more directly. God answered the request but He did so in a way that would not destroy Moses who is still a sinful man.

But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” Exodus 33:20-23 ESV

That is an amazing event for Moses to be close to God and yet not be consumed by the Holiness of God. We have similar access today through the words of God as he wanted them written in the Bible. Be made alive with God’s word. Come into His presence and hear what He has to say to you His child. If you are not His child hear what He has to say about being adopted and becoming a child of the King and Creator. While the encounter Moses had with God on the Mountain is amazing what is also amazing is the effect it left on Moses when he returns to the people of Israel after leaving the Mountain.

Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. Exodus 34:30-33 ESV

Moses was altered and his face reflected God with whom he had been speaking. The same is true when we his children spend time reading and thinking about the words God has left for us. God’s word is a reflection of his nature and his words point us to God’s story for Creation. People will know you have been in the Bible and you will not be able to contain speaking to others about it.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV

Everything we are doing in this life now is preparation for life with God in eternity. John Piper in the video asks the question where else will we go. How else will we know who He is? The Bible, the words of God himself, are life to us. Do we love God enough to read what he had to say and be transformed by it?