EIKON Part 3: Matt’s Mistake

The third in a four-part miniseries chronicling the events that
surrounded Matt, Wes, and Austin as they prepare for Eikon summer camp.

In
an effort to rid himself of a shadowy tag along, Matt makes a serious
mistake.

EIKON Part 2: Wes’ Dream

The second in a four-part miniseries chronicling the events that surrounded Matt, Wes, and Austin as they prepared for Eikon summer camp. 

Wes gets caught up in playing his guitar, but is snapped out of it by an old enemy.

EIKON Part 1: Austin’s Chips

Over the next couple of days I will post the series videos that chronicle the events that surrounded Matt, Wes, and Austin as they prepared for Eikon summer camp. 

In this episode, Wes takes a bag of Austin’s beloved Baked Ruffles without asking, “How will Austin respond?”

Am I Radical Enough?

I am studying through 1 John right now. This morning I was reading through chapter 3 and I got hung up on a few verses. In fact, I got so hung up that it took me some time before I could even read past them. 

Lately, God has been doing something in my heart, and I don't know exactly what it is. What I do know is that continually find myself asking these questions: "Am I radical enough?" "Have I missed the point of all of this?" "Is God pleased with the life that I am living in his name?"

Here are the verses that God used to grip my heart this morning: 1 John 3:17-19

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him. (ESV)

Just read those verses as they stand. Set aside your presuppositions and your preconceived ideas about what what God requires of us and JUST READ. 

Being honest, I know that I predominately love in word and talk and rarely (if ever) in deed and truth when it comes to those in need. But John says that the way I can know that I am of the truth and reassure my heart before God is if I love in deed and truth.

I want to be done with trying to explain away the hard teachings of Scripture. When we find ourselves saying things like "what it REALLY means is…" maybe it's not Scripture that needs explaining. Maybe it's our lives that need explaining before a Holy God.

EIKON

This week at camp, our theme is EIKON, which is the New Testament Greek for image or likeness.

Romans 8:29 says: For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

When reading this verse, most people get caught up on the words "foreknew" and "predestined" and become sidetracked with the issues of God's sovereignty and man's free will. But to do so is to do a injustice to this verse. The point of this verse is not to explain how God's absolute sovereignty works with man's apparent free will. Rather, Paul is trying to convey the sense of honor and privilege that comes with being a child of God. In essence he is saying, "you were hand-picked for a purpose."

Wow. God has hand-picked me, and he has hand-picked me for a specific purpose. What is that purpose? To be conformed to the image of his Son. This begins to make more sense when you consider Genesis 1:26-27 which says: Then God said,"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

In the beginning God created man and woman in his image. But we rebelled and the image of God was shattered. If being made in the image of God means that we reflect him in some way as a mirror reflects an image, then The Fall has shattered that mirror. 

It's in this context that Romans 8:29 begins to make sense. God created us in his image, but we rebelled and shattered that image. Now in Christ, God has begun rebuilding that image. He has hand-picked us to be conformed to the image of his Son. If you are a follower of Jesus, God is working in you to restore what was lost in The Fall. He is rebuilding his image in you. That's what the Christian life is all about.

Your Mouth Sucks

I was reading the other day through the book of James when a verse that I've read many times before suddenly shot straight to my heart like an arrow. I was reading and studying early one morning in my living room and when I read this verse, I literally said out loud: "Ah crap!"

James 1:26 says "If anyone thinks himself to be religious and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless."

Wow. Worthless. That word hung with me for the rest of the day. Anyone who knows me knows that I sometimes have trouble bridling my tongue. The question, "Is my religion worthless" plagued me throughout that day. 

I became a little more intrigued the next day as I read through chapter 3 of James. In that chapter, James once again deals with the tongue, this time in a little more detail and depth. 

James 3:8 says, "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison."

"Well," I asked myself, "if it can't be tamed then what hope is there? Is my religion doomed to remain worthless." In chapter 1, James tells me that if I don't bridle my tongue my religion is worthless. In chapter 3, he tells me that it is actually impossible to tame the tongue. WHAT THE HECK??? It was meditating upon these passages and this predicament that I remembered what Jesus said about what comes out of our mouths. In Matthew 12:34, he said that it is out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks. 

This is why you can't tame your tongue! It's not possible! In verse 4 of chapter 3, James compares the tongue to a ship:

"Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires."

The rudder, of course, is the tongue. The point of the verse is that although the tongue is small it boasts great things. But here's something I haven't noticed before. If you want to steer a huge ship (like an ocean liner) you don't go down to the rudder and try to move it directly. That wouldn't work! You can control it from there you have to go the the source of it's direction: the helm. The helm easily controls the rudder. 

It's the same with the tongue and the heart. The heart is the helm of the tongue. You can't tame the tongue. It's like trying to manually turn the rudder of a huge ocean liner. You have to go to the helm: the heart. If you have a filthy mouth, you don't have a tongue problem, you have a heart problem. If you gossip a lot, you have a heart problem. If you insult and put people down all the time, you have a heart problem. If you brag a lot, you have a heart problem. You have to fix the heart issue. If you try to tame the tongue, it will never work. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

I’m Back

In case you haven't noticed, I've been taking a hiatus from blogging. I was waiting until I could come up with a plan to stay on top of it. Now with a plan fully in place you can expect to see blog updates from me about 3 times a week. 

Check back Friday for my first real blog in over 2 months entitled: "Your Tongue Sucks."

Don't miss it.

The First The Last

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Josh Via's new album "The First The Last" hit iTunes today. I know that I'm maybe a little biased, but simply put: it's amazing. 

Right now as I post this blog, the album is listed at #27 in iTunes' Top Christian/Gospel albums! That's right, this independently released album is currently beating out albums such as Hillsong's "This Is Our God.

I'm on a mission to make this album reach the Top 10 before the day is out. If you plan on buying this album any time soon, you need to stop what you are doing, go to iTunes and buy it now. The more interest we generate, and the more downloads that happen today, the faster it will climb to the top of the charts. If you usually just copy other people's music or download illegally, don't. Please go purchase it on iTunes. It's only $9.99 for the whole album. You're not that broke.

I've been listening to it all day as I study and prepare to teach at a beach retreat this weekend. Josh's remake of the song "When God Ran" is hands down the best version of that song I have ever heard. As I was listening to it today, I was suddenly and completely reduced to tears in a public place. Such is the power of that song and the entire album. It is an anointed project and will bless you in your walk with Jesus.

Go buy it now. Seriously. I promise you won't regret it.

A Word From Smooth – April 2010

  1. When it comes to personality conflicts, remember to elevate the mission. It's not about you. It's about Jesus and helping others connecting with him.
  2. Your role is not just to fill a position. God has gifted you to be a part of this team and your role has eternal significance. 
  3. Don't forget our team meeting on Sunday, April 25th at 1:15! We need you all to be there.

Forgiving vs. Excusing

I think there is a grave problem rampant among Christians today, and I don't think that most of us even realize it. I know for a fact that I have been guilty of this problem, and it has only recently come to my attention.

To what am I referring? I am referring to the fact we are often looking for God to excuse our sin rather than forgive it. Think back to your recent times of confession. You might have said the "right words" but what was the motive of your heart? When you confessed your sins to God, did you also mention several reasons as to why it happened? 

"God, I'm sorry I lusted after that woman jogging, but I just couldn't help it. She ran right in front of me!"
or
 
 "God, I'm sorry that I blew up at my co-worker. He just made me so mad. I can't take his crap anymore!" 

Are you beginning to see what I mean? Listen to what C.S. Lewis has to say about this.

I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself quite carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says 'Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology, I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.' But excusing says 'I see that you couldn't help it or didn't mean it, you weren't really to blame.' If one was not really to blame then there is nothing to forgive…

If you had a perfect excuse you would not need forgiveness: if the whole of your action needs forgiveness then there was no excuse for it. But the trouble is that what we call 'asking God's forgiveness' very often really consists in asking God to accept our excuses. What leads us into this mistake is the fact that there usually is some amount of excuse, some 'extenuating circumstances'. We are so very anxious to point these out to God (and to ourselves) that we are apt to forget the really important thing; that is, the bit left over, the bit which the excuses don't cover, the bit which is inexcusable but not, thank God, unforgivable. And if we forget this we shall go away imagining that we have repented and been forgiven when all that has really happened is that we have satisfied ourselves with our own excuses. 

The next time you go to God in confession, I pray that you will be mindful of what you are doing. Are you seeking forgiveness or are you merely seeking to satisfy yourself with your own excuses?