Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday Devotional: Our Condition

“To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold the Word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.”—Jeremiah 6:10

Left to ourselves this is our predicament. At one point in our lives, if not now, we were (or still are) unable to listen to the Word of the Lord. It sounded like nonsense, or even the same as the heresy we heard last week at a different church service. We were perishing. We were lost. And the hope of Christ sounded like complete and utter foolishness to us. Now that we are found, we all probably know someone who is still floating in a sea of darkness, separated from God.

This verse should first make us grateful, grateful that we understand it, and the implications of it. But also it should make us grieved. There are many who are still uncircumcised, some of them live under the same roof as us.

It is a reminder that God is the one who circumcises and opens ears. Jeremiah is where God tells us that he will give his people a new heart and make a new covenant with them. We cannot make ourselves hear what we do not even have an ear for. Apart from sovereign grace, the hardness of our own hearts keeps us from taking pleasure in, and even hearing God’s voice.

We must not give up on praying for the lost friends and family who are in our lives. Without the Holy Spirit, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn. The very thing that gives us life and spiritual food is foul to them. God is the only one who can turn the scorn into delight, and give them new eyes.

It’s very easy for me to get angry with people who scorn Christ. I get frustrated with their inability to recognize that which seems so clear to me. But then I am quickly reminded that God put people in my life, (mainly my parents) who did not get frustrated with me when I scorned their Savior. I, too, must do the same.

Is there a person in your life, dear Christian, who needs new eyes to see the beauty of the Savior? Pray for him. Do you have a family member who continuously mocks you for your faith in Christ? Pray for her, that she may seem him as infinitely valuable.

We all were once lost, despising the One who died for us. Praise him that our dreadful condition is no more. And pray for the ones who have yet to come. May the power of the Cross break the chains of death that makes them scorn the very thing that leads to life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Meet the Waldemar's!

Meet with Waldemar’s. They are urban missionaries with Bethlehem Baptist Church. For a little over a year (I think, I’m not sure exactly), they have been living in the inner city of Minneapolis, just a stone’s throw from the church, building relationships and sharing the Gospel with the urban neighbors around them.

They are a tremendous example of Christ to me, and many others in the Bethlehem community. Not only because of the work that God has done in their family, but also due to their labors for the Gospel in the city. Living for Christ takes on a whole new meaning when you witness a drug deal happen on your door step while your three children are sitting inside, or when you hear the shouts of drunk neighbors at 3 AM and you wonder if this will be the night where you hear the gun shots. City living is never easy, but they do it not to be adventurous, but so the nations will bow the knee and worship Jesus Christ, the Lord of all. They don’t try and dress up the Gospel and make it cool, and they most certainly don’t try and be something that they are not. It is simply pure, fervent, humble Gospel living, and it shows.

For the Waldemar’s, being an urban missionary means eating Afghani pizza and taking food and the Gospel to a homeless person in an abandoned house. I praise God for this family and for the work that they do in Minneapolis. May God be pleased to grant much fruit for his glory and for the joy of the nations!

They also have a blog where they give ministry and family updates. You can visit it here:

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What is True Greatness?

While flipping through channels the other evening I came across special about celebrity lives on the Entertainment Channel. Though this is not a normal occurrence, I found myself engrossed in the tales of the lives of these celebrities. The commentator took the viewer through the various purchases and extravagances of the rich and famous in a way that seemed to almost normalize them. One woman who owned a famous boutique in Beverly Hills in the middle of her explanation of the star treatment flippantly said, “I drop everything when Paris comes in because she deserves it.”

I was reminded of C.J. Mahaney’s sermon on true greatness. Amidst all of the idol worship around us, he painted a very different picture of what we should ascribe supposed deserved adoration. He pointed to Christ and that what he said and did on our behalf was worthy of the term greatness. He preached from Mark 10: 32:45 and in that message the Lord used him to reveal areas that we as Christians have a distorted understanding of greatness. Consider the words of Jesus, “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 to all. For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Our first mistake in recognizing true greatness is believing the people we praise to be the source of their greatness. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, including talent, riches, and beauty. There is nothing that we have that was not given to us by the Creator. We are simply the created. Therefore we must first recover our theology of God, and His Lordship over all, in order to see greatness for what it truly is.

We must also pray for a discerning mind to think like our Christ. He did not count the things of this world as something to be grasped and held to. He came as a servant, therefore when we hear of people talking about “deserving” something, our minds should immediately look to Christ and what he said we are deserving of.

To live as Christians in this post modern world will mean that we must learn to discern true greatness. Instead of being drawn in awe and wonder into the “Lifestyles of the Rich of Famous”, we should be able to recognize it for what it is—darkness. What good does it profit a man to have fifty Roll’s Royce’s in a customized garage if he loses his soul? And what good does it profit a woman to have $500 designer jeans and racks of Jimmy Choo shoes if she, too, loses her soul in the end? Floating around in the sea of ever flowing champagne and cash is the sad reality that this is false greatness that leads to death.

True greatness is not the movie star or the athlete. It is the small town pastor who works three jobs to support his family and preach the Gospel to his people, even when there is no fruit. It is the faithfulness of a mother to raise her children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, even when it is hard. And it is the courage of a missionary to go the poorest of the poor, the despised and lowly, to bring them the Gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Maybe their faces will never grace the cover of Christianity Today and they probably will never have their lives chronicled on a 20/20 special. But the Father knows their name, and he knows their ministries. Their names are written in heaven and their labors will one day be recognized when the last are finally first and they hear “well done, my good and faithful servant.” And that is true greatness.