Friday, December 11, 2009


I wish I could do impressions of people. I think impressions are hilarious. When one human being can imitate another human being, that's reason to laugh. They can be so funny.

- Frank Caliendo can do a perfect John Madden impression.

- My old college roommate, Mike Archer, can do about a hundred dead-on impressions, including a you-think-its-really-him Ravi Zacharias.

- Even my brother Pete can do impressions (including an often-copied Ace impression and a rarely heard Spencer DeBurgh impression).

Me? I can't do one. I try, but they just don't sound good.

When I try to do impressions, I find that I can't. But, sometimes, I find myself inadvertently imitating people. When I hang out with certain people, I've noticed that I pick up on their mannerisms and make them my own. Little phrases people use, ways people talk, or even facial expressions all have been incorporated into my personality just from hanging out and spending time with others.

- I picked up using the word "buster" from hanging around Todd Kellner.

- I've noticed I've used the comeback "Believe it!" from being around Wayne Beilgard.

- I use the phrase "where the rubber meets the road" from spending time with Andrew Johnson.

I didn't try to impersonate these people. I wasn't trying to be like them. It just happened from being around them.

Francis Chan notes: "I have found that through spending time with those I respect, I become more like them than I would simply by trying to do what they do. "

This is true with me trying to do impressions and this is how it is in my relationship with God. Sometimes, I try to do what God does. I try to live like Christ lived. I try to love people like He did, walk in step with the Spirit like He did, and glorify God like He did. But (just like my failed attempts at impressions) I can't.

I can't, that is, unless I'm spending time with God. When I spend time with Him, when I have fellowship with Him, and when I commune with Him, I begin to look like Him. It's not about God saving me and sending me on my merry little way to try my hardest to be good. It's about God saving me and God continually working on me to make me look more like Jesus by producing the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

Look at Moses when he communed with God: "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him."--Exodus 34.29-30

Moses didn't try really hard to have his face shine; it was the result of him having been with God. Maybe one reason my spiritual life can be so shallow is that I am trying to obey God without God. Trying to live like Jesus without Jesus. Trying to live in accordance with the Spirit without the Spirit. Copy Him without communion with Him.

Thankfully, I don't have to try hard to be like God. He has provided a Way for me to always commune with Him to receive the grace I need. What is this Way?

"Therefore brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is His body, and since we have a great Priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful." -- Hebrews 10.19-23

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Log: November 2009

1. Ted Kluck. The Reason for Sports. 256 pages. Moody Press. I like sports. I like Kevin DeYoung (whom Kluck has co-authored two books with). So, I read this book. And I'm still not sure if I liked it. The book really isn't a theology of sports as much as it is a collection of sports/Christian articles. Some of Kluck's thoughts were refreshing, and at times, Kluck had good insights, but the book overall lacked final conclusions.

2. Robert Gundry.
Jesus the Word According to John the Sectarian. 156 pages. Eerdmans Press. Some of the book was a little over my head, but Gundry had some very practical (and profound) thoughts on what it means to "be in the world but not of the world."

3. Mark Allen Powell. Introduction to the Gospels. 160 pages. Fortress Press. This book was a little bit more left-of-center than I am, but Powell sees some really good themes that run through each gospel book. Good to skim through before studying one of the gospels.

4. Aubrey Malphurs and Keith Willhite. A Contemporary Handbook for Weddings and Funerals. 368 pages. Kregel Press. The book contains dozens of weddings messages and funeral messages. Its a helpful resource for getting some ideas for message preparation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

God's Truth vs Our Experience

Have you ever felt that God's truth, revealed in the Bible, isn't true? Do you ever think that what you are experiencing contradicts God's Word? It can be relatively easy to find ourselves questioning God when things aren't rosy in our lives.

This was the situation Asaph found himself in. He found himself feeling like God's Word wasn't true, because of what he was experiencing. In Psalm 73, Asaph is struggling with what he perceives to be a lack of God's presence in his life. He sees people around him who don't give a rip about God, yet they are loving and enjoying life. They seem to be doing just fine. Asaph is trying to do what's right and its hard. Its a struggle. He doesn't experientially feel God's presence. He feels alone.

He starts off the Psalm, in v. 1, acknowledging the truth about God--that He is good. He knows God and knows what the Bible says about God.

But his feelings quickly come out. In v. 2-11, he expresses his perception that the wicked are getting hooked up by God, while he is living a holy life while being ignored. It seems to Asaph like the unbelievers are having a blast in their sin; they mock God and don't care. It seems like life is going great for them, while his life isn't.

Verse 12 sums up his feelings: that the wicked have peace and joy and happiness, yet he does not.

In v. 13-16, he gets really emotional. We see the inner struggle of what all Christians go through: Is holy living really worth it? Even when its hard? Even when its not fun? Even when it seems impossible?

In these verses, Asaph begins to wonder if the whole "following God/obeying God" thing he's been doing his whole life is really worth it. Has he been walking with God for nothing? The words drip of pain, bitterness, and hurt. Its not a momentary feeling, but its Asaph's constant experience.

He wants to be careful not to cause others to stumble or fall because of his fears and perceptions (v. 15), but he can't keep these emotions below the surface (v. 16).

So, what can He do? Is God unfair? Does God care? Where is God?

Asaph finds his answer by going to God. Even though it doesn't seem like God is there or that God doesn't care, Asaph goes to God. Asaph finds refuge in the only place that provides help: God.

Asaph finishes the Psalm (v. 17-28) retelling what God has taught him. He realizes how sinful he has acted toward God (v. 22). He is convicted (by the Holy Spirit) and repents of his sin to God (v. 21). Despite his unfaithfulness to Him, Asaph acknowledges God's presence (v. 23) and that God has always been there (v. 24). Asaph knows that this life will be marred with trial after trial, but he looks forward to the day when he will be with God in glory (v. 24).

Then come some of the most precious verses in the Bible:

"Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the Strength of my heart and my Portion forever."
--Psalm 73: 25-26

The psalmist acknowledges that nothing in this life will satisfy like God. He wants nothing but God. He is satisfied with God and God alone. Good or bad. Even if everything fails, God will not. God is his Strength and Portion. Forever.
Every Christian goes through times of spiritual dryness: times where we sing and don't feel the presence of God; times where we pray and don't feel the presence of God; times where we serve and don't feel the presence of God.

This does not show spiritual immaturity or a distrust in God. Its the result of His redeemed people living on a cursed earth--people who long to feel his presence but are marred with sin.

So, in these times, though God may seem distant, cling to God.