Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Pumped Up Kicks" and the Gospel

So, before you watch the video below and listen to the song I want to tell you it is very catchy and peppy, but the song is about brokenness and sin and evil. There isn't any profanity, but through some conversations with others I believe I need to put this disclaimer up. To read the lyrics click here.

This blog was inspired by a conversation I had with couple friends about a month ago. One was sharing how she was really upset that the radio stations were playing this song - a song about a boy who found his father's gun and killed his father and goes on to kill his peers (or at least muse about it). I hadn't heard the song yet, so I went home and checked it out. Yes, it is really catchy and upbeat and fun to sing, and it is about those dark topics and stories we rarely come in contact with until they are thrown in our face by circumstance or media.

What I heard in the song God used to stir me to compassion. There are young men and women all over this country in all of our schools and lives that are bitter and betrayed, disconnected, broken, forgotten, and outcast[1]. This song tells of a boy who is abused and unloved by his father, and finds solace at least in the thought of killing him and killing others.

Therefore, what are we to make of this song, the young men who wrote it, and the many who listen to it not because it is fun and catchy but because they resonate with the story of a young person in pain and anger? I believe it ought to stir us to compassion and evangelism. How many people around you and me need the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of redemption, that Christ took the wrath we deserved and cleanses and heals us from the sin committed against us? How many people around us who are bitter, betrayed, disconnected, broken, forgotten, and outcast are seen through the eyes of our flesh - strange, weird, amusing, not worth it - without grace - instead of through the eyes of Jesus Christ - "For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (1 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 12:2).

When we hear this song or other songs like it, may we be stirred to pray for more laborers to go into the harvest; may we pray for God to give healing and salvation to the writers and performers of these songs and to those represented by the song. May we remember that "God so loved the world [the world of people that did not know him and and who loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil], that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16; 1:10; 3:19) and do likewise: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34 cf. John 15:9, 12).

Finally, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned...Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's [Jesus] obedience the many will be made righteous...In him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...[He has] come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in [Him] may not remain in darkness." (Romans 5:12, 18-19; John 1:4-5; 12:46).

[1] Gross, Craig, and Jason Harper. Jesus Loves You This I Know. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2009. Print.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Seeing the Trajectory

I was recently (within the last month or so) inspired to read Exodus.  I had listened to a couple sermons, and I wanted to begin diving into what these pastors were pointing at.[1]  That is the trajectory of the Old Testament to Jesus, looking at how the words of God in the Old Testament are "pregnant or round with the gospel"[2].

So, I've been reading the Exodus, and it has been incredible.  I am seeing Moses as a mediator in a whole new light.  It is even more clear and amazing how Christ is the new and perfect Moses.  Just as the physical tabernacle of the Jews were shadows of the heavenly tabernacle, so Moses is a shadow of God's ultimate mediator - His Son - Jesus.

I have been thinking about all the sacrifices and offering that were required of God's people - sin offering, burnt offering, grain offering, wave offering, drink offering, and etcetera.  Jesus did not just fulfill completely the sacrifice of atonement, but he accomplished and fulfilled the requirement of all of these offerings and sacrifices.  Whatever these offerings were supposed to accomplish but could not (Hebrews 10:4) Jesus accomplished in fullness in His life, death, and resurrection.

Today I was reading Exodus 33:12 - 34:16.  In these passages Moses pleads with God to be with him and the Israelites or not to lead them to the Promised Land at all.  God responds and declares He will be with them; He will give them rest; His people have found favor in His sight; He will make them distinct from the other nations; He knows His people by name.  Pregnant with the gospel.  Do you see Jesus and His work?

Jesus has made the plea and He Himself has responded; He is preparing us for and leading us into the Promised Land - eternity with him.  Jesus declares, "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20); He promises and gives us rest (Matthew 11:28-29; Ephesians 2:6); Jesus found favor (grace) in the eyes of His Father (Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Ephesians 1:3); He has made us distinct from the rest of the world: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1 Peter 2:9-10).  He knows us individually and personally (John 10:14, 27; 2 Timothy 2:19).  "Round with the gospel."

What a hope we have in Jesus!  No longer must we say, "Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people...If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”" (Exodus 33:13, 15-16).  We can and do proclaim, "Yes!  Because of Jesus we have found favor in your sight.  You have made us a people for yourself.  You do show us your ways (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 John 2:27)!

May we - His people - ever marvel more at the glorious sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ - taking the wrath of God and purchasing a people for Himself forever.  May more and more people all over the world - from every tribe, tongue, and nation - come to marvel at the glorious work of God their Savior. 

[1] Messages from the Gospel Coalition's 2011 National Conference:
[2] From Mike Bullmore's message at The Gospel Coalition's 2011 National Conference:

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Promise Fulfilled

I gave my word to a friend I would have a new blog written by the end of the day.  This is me fulfilling that promise.

Josiah Venture: I am almost done with the application to be taken on as a full-time Josiah Venture missionary. One big personality/ministry profile test to go.

Josiah Venture 2: I will be going back to the Czech Republic this summer to co-lead an intern team with Tyler Patty.  I am really excited for who God is bringing together and what He has planned for this coming summer.  I am thankful to once again be a laborer sent to fields white for harvest.

Books: I just started Love Wins by Rob Bell at the encouragement of two friends - Matt and Tim.  So, we'll see how that goes.  I'll be sharing my thoughts on this book with all of you from time to time right here.

Prayer Requests: Continued growth and maturity in life and faith.  Preparing for leadership and ministry this summer.  Boldness and courage in speaking the truth in love whether that is confronting sin or foolish decisions or sharing the gospel with friends and strangers.

Sermons: I recently listened to sermons from John Piper on spiritual gifts.  They are fantastic.  Head over to to listen to, watch, read, or download them.  They are "Spirtual Gifts", "Faith: The root and trait of all spiritual gifts", "Using Our Gifts in Proportion to Our Faith Parts 1, 2, and 3".  Enjoy :)  I'll be listening to Matt Chandler's sermons from his series through Habakkuk.  You can listen to or read them here.

Good times: I cut my hair and beard (Thank you, Rachel, for the extra nudging.  Many people are very grateful).  I turned 23: morning and afternoon with my dad, dinners with family and friends, one of them being my first steakhouse dinner with my first steak and red wine pairing.  It was fantastic.  Also, I got to enjoy some red wine and dark chocolate for my birthday with friends as well.

Grace Groups: I'm in a Grace Group going through Book 2.  If you don't know what a Grace Group is, just click here.  Good, tough stuff.

Movies: Recently, I have had the opportunity to enjoy some really good movies.  I humbly recommend "Get Low" with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray, "Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World" with Michael Cera, "It's Kind of a Funny Story" with Zach Galifinakis, and "RED" with Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman.  Check them out at your leisure.  They are all worth seeing.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

San Antonio

It is nearly two months since my feet touched down on American soil.  After seven months abroad, I've learned that the soil itself feels the same nearly everywhere; it is the newness of what you have known and experienced before that can be a bit dizzying.

I have enjoyed the "culture shock moments" of being back - a toilet swirl, the American social, conversational murmur, pricier food, driving again, having conversations exclusively in English, and returning to my home church - Wayside Chapel.  I think it looks a bit like being at college, and you have only eaten cafeteria food for a whole semester.  Then you return home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Suddenly it's family and friends and incredible amounts of food all at once, and you love it, but it can be overwhelming at times, especially if you eat too much.

So, good times (Tak, dobrý časy).  It was an incredible time in the Czech, and I miss living there - the friends, the food, the places; and it has been a blessing to be back.

More to come here in the days and weeks ahead.  I am looking forward to blogging once again.

Monday, January 31, 2011

New post next week.

Yes, after a long break, I will be back blogging next week.  Thank you for your patience.