Liberation!

This week at seminary has been great. Its been worshipful, spiritually challenging, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding. Information comes so fast during the week but the Lord is good in that he ministers even in the hustle and bustle of school.

Pneumatology was this weeks area of focus, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit. We covered the Holy Spirit’s role in creation, the Old Testament, Christ’s birth, Jesus’ baptism, Jesus’ time in the wilderness, his three years of ministry, his death, resurrection, regeneration, faith, inspiration of scripture etc etc. It really has been such a fun week and so wonderful to see the Spirit’s activity all throughout scripture.

For my paper I focused on Regeneration and specifically Effectual Calling. This issue has been of great interest to me throughout my life. Specifically the role of the ‘will’. There is enough space and time to study the will in a blog post right?!! Briefly, here are a few observations, questions and conclusions.

So here are a few questions I considered this week. What does enslavement mean (Rom 6)? What was I enslaved to by nature prior to conversion? What is the condition of my will prior to conversion? And who frees me from enslavement. The Apostle Paul says I am enslaved. In Romans Paul says I am a slave to sin (Rom 6:16) and even dead in sin (Eph 2:1). If I am enslaved and even dead spiritually what then can my will ‘will’? Biblically I don’t see the idea of personal autonomy being affirmed. What I do see presented are these two options, being slaves to sin or slaves of God.

This is where the wonderful and beautiful doctrine of Effectual Calling takes shape. The Holy Spirit draws us (John 6:44) and renews us and washes us clean(Titus 3:5). The work of the Holy Spirit in his drawing and renewing is fundamentally a work of liberation. The Holy Spirit liberates me. He liberates my will. The Holy Spirit liberates my will from enslavement to sin to ‘will’ anew. He does not force me, coerce me or drag me to repentance. He re-creates and causes re-birth (John 3) and I ‘will’ freely and willingly to come to faith and repentance.

Ok, there it is. We made it in just two paragraphs! I know that’s fast but if you want to study a bit more I’ll point to: John chapters 1-3, 6 & 12, Romans 1-3 and 6, Titus 3, I Peter 1, Ezekiel 37, The Westminster Confession of Faith chapter 10, The Westminster Larger Catechism question 67, ‘The Holy Spirit’ by Gordon H. Clark, and ‘The Holy Spirit’ by Sinclair Ferguson especially chapter six. Many thanks to Sinclair Ferguson!

If you have any questions feel free to ask, however, I reserve the right to say, I don’t now! Thank you for all your prayers for me and our family here in Colorado. We are grateful for them. Grace and Peace

Jesus And His Elders

We had an odd little hat in our home growing up that had two bills on it. It didn’t make any sense to wear it, or was it comfortable to wear. But, on the front of it it said, I’m their leader, which way did they go?! It made a good point in a fun way.

Leaders are all around us. I think it’s impossible to go somewhere and not encounter a leader or an entity that is being lead. It’s more likely noticed if it has poor leadership is it not? We recognize good leadership, have you ever been to Chick-fil-a at lunch time?

It’s no different in your church. To a large degree churches are successful or not on account of their leadership. This has been our area of focus this week in class, Church leadership.

There are three basic forms of church leadership.
First is Congregational / Independent. This would be a majority of Baptist, Bible or Non- denominational churches. It may have a board or group of deacons or elders that help make decisions but it’s main characteristic would be that it’s guided by a form of CEO pastor leadership.
Secondly, is Episcopalian. This would be the Roman Catholic, Methodist and Anglican type churches. These churches likely have a hierarchal structure.
Finally, Presbyterian. This is a form of government that is run by elders. It is representative in nature. The Elders are equal in power and make decisions for the church as a group. Presbyterianism has had great influence in our country. It is not coincidental that our American government is a representative form of government!
The word ‘presbyterian’ comes from the greek word ‘Presbuteroi’ found in 1Timothy 3:1. This refers to the ‘office’ or ‘position’. ‘Episcopi’ is the greek word translated ‘Overseer or Pastor’.

Through out the New Testament we see the apostle Paul giving instruction to appoint elders in the new churches that are being planted. Timothy himself was appointed to his ministry by a council of elders in 1 Tim 4:14. In 1 Timothy 3 Paul gives to Timothy a rather lengthy list of qualifications for a man ‘who aspires to the office of overseer’. In Titus 1 there is another list of qualifications for elders. Paul tells Titus to ‘put what remained into order and appoint elders in every town’. Paul directs him to appoint Godly mature men to help these new churches grow.

Advice for these elders can be found in Acts 20:28. Paul exhorts the overseers or pastors, ‘Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained by his Blood.

The Church belongs to Christ. It is his body (Col 1:18). He appointed twelve to go and preach, make disciples and plant churches. They in turn appointed men to care for and to protect Christ’s Church. Let’s pray more and more that churches will look to Scripture for an effective way to lead and care for God’s flock.

Lastly, notice that it is the Holy Spirit that has made these men overseers. God is establishing his church by His Spirit. Let us not despise the leaders of our Churches but pray for them, after all, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to put them there for our good.

What about the Dragon?

Week one is over and the sprint through eschatology is complete. What a great first week of class! Eschatology is the study of last things. Issues that are considered include the millennial reign of Christ, The Kingdom of God vs. the Kingdom of Heaven, the Second Coming, Hermeneutics, Figurative language, and a host of other topics.

The bulk of time this week has been spent continuing to understand the main four views of Eschatology. These views are commonly referred to as Historic Premillennialism, Dispensational Premillennialism, Post Millennialism and Amillennialism. I’ll forgo all the in and outs of these views but what is in common between them all is that at some time in the future Christ will return, there will be a resurrection, he will judge the living and the dead, he will defeat death, and he will reign over the new heavens and the new earth for eternity.

It is such a pleasure to sit under and learn from my Uncle, Dr. Dwight Zeller. There is no one like him! A student that comes to Sangre de Cristo will be taught the scriptures and have opportunities to flesh the difficult aspects of doctrine that are hard to understand but what I find to be the real gems are the comments in-between our lectures, either about his career as a Navel Chaplin or pastoral comments that come from a lifetime of ministry. They are rich and wise, kind but firm, gentle but forceful, belly achingly funny but sensitively serious and unshakably rooted in the truth of the Word.

So what about the dragon? Revelation 1:1 begins with, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place’. When you think about the book of Revelation, what comes to mind? Perhaps trumpets, seals, bowls of wrath, strange creatures? Are these the point of Revelation? Is the 1000 years the point? Is the intermediate state the point? Is the tribulation the point? Is the dragon the point? NO! It is the revelation of someone, it is the revelation about someone, it is the revelation OF Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the point. It is about a victory that he wins over sin and death. It gives us a hope that we can be sure of, something that we as believers can be certain of, it is something that gives us solid, concrete, joyous hope!

That little word, of. Don’t look over the small words. They help direct us. Let us pray that we not lose sight of who is important.

Coram Deo

It’s Always Good

From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. Psalm 104:13

I love weather. The view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains from where I sit writing is glorious. The clouds have quickly rolled in and a beautiful spring snow is currently dusting the Seminary. It’s a chilly 50 degrees here, but snowing! The Sangres have been blessed with a lot of snow this year and the landscape is alive and bursting with colors as spring creeps in and overtakes winter. The kids have especially loved the deer and hummingbirds that have welcomed us to our new home and in all this, I’m reminded of God’s great kindness in his creation.

Psalm 104 is a psalm of Gods great power and majesty in creation. All people are recipients of the world he has made and he has given it to us to enjoy. The earth is blessed by the fruit of his work.

It’s not uncommon however to hear a comment on a rainy day that the weather is bad or that it’s nasty outside. Quite a few years back I heard a guy respond to my comment about the inclement weather and he said, ‘It’s always perfect’. It did get me to thinking, God brings the rain to water the earth for us and for his glory. I’ve had to reform my view of rainy days, and happily so. God in his wisdom waters the earth for our benefit and to display his handiwork.

The psalmist says here in 104 that he displays his majesty and splendor in creation. Verse 13 says that the earth is satisfied by the rain that the Lord sends. He makes the springs pour forth and he waters the mountains.

It is a beautiful sight to see the snow, and the rain that water the mountains. And when it rains, remember it is because of the Lord’s graciousness that the rain falls and waters the earth.

As I gear up for class on monday I am thankful to be able to study in such a special place and to behold the beauty of Gods creation. Thank you all for your prayers as we made our trip west and as I start my studies. Elena and I are truly grateful.

Peace

And we’re off!

Well here we are. The house is almost empty, last minute projects are getting wrapped up and a pile of books have been purchased and are ready to be read this summer. So far, in all of this, we haven’t lost our mind. But it’s gotten pretty close. 🙂

Thank you all for keeping us in your prayers. We are truly thankful. For this blog post I thought it would be a good idea just to give you an overview of what will be next for us. Today, we will pack our trailer and begin our trek west and hope to arrive in Westciffe CO Sunday the 26th. We will have a week to settle into our new home before classes start on June 3rd. We plan to take a day trip to the Great Sand Dunes and enjoy wading in the Medano creek caused from the the snow melt from the rockies. I haven’t haven’t been able to do this since I was a kiddo with my parents and I look forward to being able to experience it with my kids.

Getting acclimated will be part time job for us low landers. The seminary is located at a lofty 9000 ft. It’ll take a couple weeks to get use to that altitude. But I’m sure Waylon and I will get in some hiking before class starts and huff N puff our way around some trails in the area and help that process right along. Waylon and I also plan on tagging some mountain peaks this year. We hope to summit two: Horn Peak which measures in at about 13,500 and Humboldt which comes in at 14,065.

As to my class schedule, the summer will kick off with the study of last things…first, Eschatology. Then over the next three months we’ll cover Church Leadership, Pneumatology, Church Evangelism, Church History II, Biblical geography and Archaeology, New Testament Theology, Old Testament Poetry, and Christology. It’s a sprint. Please pray for the students as we make our way through all of this course work. During the fall the majority of time is spent learning Greek.

I was commenting to Elena the other day that we get to do this! It is a privilege to study the bible for seven months at Sangre de Cristo. Elena will stay busy taking walks in the cool mountain air, homeschooling and correcting my grammar! I trust it will be a special time for our family and am thankful to the Lord for making a way.

Thank you again for supporting us in prayer, we are grateful for them and you.

Finished and Ongoing

Touring the country with a band has been an incredible journey. There is something special about climbing on a tour bus and sharing 200 sq ft of floor space with 11 other guys. It’s a club, a fraternity, that I’ve grown to love dearly. I can’t fully describe the laughs a bus full of crew guys can stir up. The front lounge transforms into the most hilarious commentary of the days events that even on the worst of days can end on a high note.

The touring crew guy is a special breed. I’m not in their league. The techs I’ve met along the way are talented beyond anything I could ever hope to be. Things don’t go really wrong very often, but the few times I’ve seen it hit the fan I’ve watched the audio, lighting or system techs work the problem like cool calm collected surgeons. It’s impressive. These guys are pros. I’m fortunate to get to work along side of them….and watch. 🙂

My role for the band has been as a back line tech for the past four years with bigdaddyweave. It has been a pleasure taking care of the band and their needs before the show or during. As my time on the road has finished, at least for now, I can look back and see how the Lord has brought me through some significant seasons. He has used each person on tour to help shape me. It hasn’t been easy sometimes. I’ve been very thankful that BDW encourages an environment where we can grow in the Lord. For a touring act it’s rare. For me, it has been a process of understanding and growing in sanctification. Rooting out sin is not a cake walk. In fact, it’s usually a messy process. But God uses these situations for our good (Rom 8:28). This brings me to Hebrews 10:14,

‘For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.’

We who are in Christ are perfected and we are being sanctified. We are righteous and being made righteous. It is both done and being done. Finished and ongoing. Already but not yet. Wow.

This ‘already but not yet’ reality is actually an incredible promise of the Lord’s faithfulness and should provide for us immense assurance and confidence in our progress of sanctification. He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). He will bring it to fruition! He will complete the work that he starts. Our sanctification though, is accomplished by faith. It is a gift from the Holy spirit, the same as our belief in Christ. It is a gift (Eph 2:8-9).

Colossians 2:6-7 says, ‘Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving’. Walk in him. Walking in him includes reading his word, praying his word, studying his word, meeting together with fellow believers and being taught his word, and living out his word in the world around us.

The Westminster Confession of Faith in chapter 13 on sanctification says, ‘…through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 confirms this, ‘And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. The Word and Spirit working in us grows us in grace (2 Peter 3:18) and perfects our holiness(2 Cor 7:1). The Lord is our continual supply, he is at work in us.

The Westminster Larger Catechism question 77 is absolutely outstanding. The question is a comparison of justification and sanctification but its explanation of what Christ accomplishes in our sanctification is terrific.

Q. 77. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?

A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

He infuses Grace and enables us to exercise that grace, He subdues sin and He Grows us in Christ as we work out our salvation (Phil 2:12-13). This is good news.

Coram Deo

The Waiting

Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act. Psalm 37:5

Psalm 37 is quickly becoming one of my favorite Psalms. It has so many great verses of God’s promises we’ve heard and memorized. As Elena and I and the kids have been preparing for our time at Sange de Cristo Seminary verse five has been our go to anchor verse. We read it, think on it, talk about it, mediate on it, and pray it over and over at virtually all times of the day. Scripture is powerful. It is God speaking to us. At night when we wake up anxious or fearful we’ve made a habit of praying this verse until sleep comes near again. The promise is profound, Trust in him and he will act.

This verse and psalm can certainly be applied to our personal circumstances and daily activity but it goes far beyond that. David teaches us many times in his Psalms about God’s sovereignty over all things and all people and specifically of our righteousness. In psalm 37 God is actively involved in the lives of his people. David tells us in many different ways that the Lord is working for us. David writes: He (God) will bring forth righteousness, The Lord upholds the righteous, He upholds their hand, The steps of a man are established by the Lord, He will give you the desires of your heart, He will not forsake his saints, The Lord will not abandon or condemn the righteous, He will exalt you, He is our Salvation, He is our stronghold, He helps and delivers, He is our refuge and He saves us.

These are promises we can rest in as we live our busy lives. We can rest in this since we are in Christ and because we have union with Christ. This is his work and he promises that he will do. He is the cause of our righteousness, he is the cause of our salvation and he upholds us securely. We can be confident that he will do these these things.

The hard part is the waiting. Waiting is mentioned three times in this psalm. We are to be still and wait patiently, we are to wait for the Lord and keep his way, and, those who wait shall inherit the land. I believe waiting is an integral part of the christian walk. It certainly runs against our instant society. We want our desires right about now. But, our growth in sanctification is a slow and life long process. Is God going to answer our prayers and wishes on our timetable? I kind of doubt it. But there is an active anticipation involved. There is an eagerness that we can have. Galatians 5:5 says we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness and in Hebrews 9:28 it says we eagerly wait for the return of Christ. We wait, eagerly. It’s a part of our sanctification. We wait for the Lord’s return. We wait to be able to see through the glass clearly and unobstructed. We wait until we are finally glorified.

Notice the progression of verses three to seven. Trust in the Lord… Delight yourself in the Lord… Commit your way… Be still… Wait.

We should lean on him, love him, give it to him, submit to him, wait and he will act.

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