• Is God Disappointed in You?

    One of the feelings so many Christians live with is the feeling like we are letting God down. We feel we are disappointing God in our actions and our thoughts. If only we could be a bit better and a bit more like the super christian we know in our youth group, bible study church, etc. then God would be pleased with us.

    The only problem with this way of thinking is that it confuses my sanctification with my justification. When I think this way I am thinking that God accepts me (justification) because of how I am progressing as a Christian (sanctification). The point of the gospel is that you and I are right with God by grace alone not by anything we have done and we are not only right with God but also we are adopted as his children  and he delights in us.

    There is one day when we will know that God is pleased with us and delights in us. C.S. Lewis gives us a window to look into this day:

    It is written that we shall “stand before” Him, shall appear, shall be inspected. The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses, shall actually survive that examination, shall find approval, shall please God. To please God…to be a real ingredient in the Divine happiness…to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.

    C.S Lewis The Weight of Glory


    You are loved by God, He delights in you like an artist his painting or a father his child. That is your standing before God and it is only by grace alone. One day, when you see God face to face, he will say to you “Well done good and faithful servant.” It is on that day that God delighting in you will be fully realised!

    So walk away with your heart full knowing that, if you trust in Jesus, God loves and delights in you!

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  • Grace is Being Loved When You Are Unlovable

    Christians are saved by grace, we live by grace and we end up in heaven by grace and grace alone. So much of the time we understand grace intellectually but our hearts don’t grasp the beauty of grace. Sometime we need to be reminded of the beauty of God’s grace. Here is a beautiful definition of God’s grace from theologian Paul Zahl that I hope reminds you of the beauty of God’s grace:

    Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable…. The cliché definition of grace is “unconditional love.” It is a true cliché, for it is a good description of the thing. Let’s go a little further, though. Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…. Grace is one-way love. – Paul Zahl – Grace in Practice: A Theology of Everyday Life


    Grace is one way love that is not dependent on anything about us. If you are a Christian you know this grace. You know you are loved by God even when you are unloveable. You know you are loved by God even when you can’t give anything back. This is the grace you have been shown!

    When was the last time you thought deeply about this grace?

    When was the last time you were emotionally engaged with the beauty of this grace?

    If you don’t call yourself a Christian or you are figuring out where you are at with Jesus this grace can be yours too. When Jesus died one the cross he died so he could take away your sins. He died so you could have the gift of eternal life. He loved you when you you were unloveable. This love is amazing and it is free, that is why it is grace.

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  • You Are a Part of The Greatest Love Story The World Has Ever Known

    A lot of people say that the Bible is a rule book and you read it and get all of God’s rules. Now there are rules in the Bible sure but I don’t think that encapsulates what the Bible is.

    Other people see the bible as a road map for life and there are maps in certain Bibles but I don’t think the that is accurate.

    In Revelation 19:1-10 we are in the front row of a wedding. The bride is the people of God and God is the groom. If we take this metaphor of marriage and apply it to the story of the Bible then the Bible turns out to be a love story. In fact the greatest love story the world has ever known! Here is the story of the God’s love. In his wanting to show how loving he is God created the world to be a beautiful and amazing place. He created humans to be in his image and we were meant to be swept up in the joy of being loved by the most loving and beautiful person in all of existence. But instead of basking in his love we have decided to love other things more than him. We have decided to love the things that he has given us and not him who gives us all good things. We have committed spiritual adultery against God.  And God does not walk away from those he loves but, in love, he sends Jesus to die in our place taking all our sin and shame and guilt away. In spiritual terms God sees us on the side of the road beaten and tired and abused and filthy and at the cross, he forgives us, he cleans us up, he gives us a new standing with him, he shows us once again how much we are loved. And one day he will come back for his bride finally. Whether you acknowledge it or not God loves you passionately and relentlessly. I read a Bible called The Jesus Storybook Bible to my daughter Emma and here is how it describes God’s love: God’s love is a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. What an awesome description of God’s love.

    That is the love that he has for you!!!

    But some of you who are reading this have hearts that are breaking because you feel that you don’t have anyone that truly loves you. Maybe you are single and you are wanting someone to love you. I know I am married but I once was single and it was very hard. I remember one Saturday night many years ago watching a movie by myself called Loser. It features Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari. The Biggs character, who is the loser, falls in love with the Suvari character and wins her heart. Here I was, alone and watching a movie on a Saturday night and I was thinking at the end of the movie “Even this loser can find love what’s wrong with me?” Being single is hard in a world that is so obsessed with finding the one. Some your hearts are breaking because you think the love that you so desperately want  is absent from your life. But you don’t realise that you are in the greatest love story the world has ever known. It is a love story that stretches back before the creation of the world. It is a love story that stretches forward billions of years into the future. It is a love story that find’s it ultimate display not in blood coloured roses but in blood shed on calvary. You are loved more than you can ever imagine no matter if you remain single for the rest of your days or if you get married tomorrow. And no matter if you get married or not your ultimate, perfect wedding day will not be on earth but in heaven.

    Does this love story that you are in fill your heart and capture your imagination?

    Unless the amazing love of God becomes your ultimate reality you will always seek love out in others and when you are so desperate for love in this way you may end up with the wrong people who may take you down the wrong path and lead you to worship the wrong things. Your heavenly wedding is going to be better than anything you can experience. If you don’t believe me read Revelation 19:1-10 and see how much joy is there!

    Everyone who is reading this is a recipient of a love from God that is is a never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love. The question is are we letting it shape our reality?

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  • If I am a Christian Why do I Feel Like God is Still Angry with Me?

    I was talking to a friend of the phone this week and he is going through a very painful season in which he has convinced himself that God is punishing him because of the way he acted towards people as a teenager.I reminded him of what he knew in his head. Namely, that God is no longer angry with him. The wrath that Jesus bore on the cross he bore once and for all and so he stands now as a condemned sinner but as a forgiven and loved Child.

    But I dare say there are some of you who are reading this blog know in your head that, in love, Jesus bore the wrath that was yours but in your heart you feel like he is still angry with you. Maybe you feel like he is angry with you because you had a sexual encounter that you shouldn’t have had, maybe it was because you feel like you don’t read the Bible and pray enough. Maybe you feel that way because of your circumstances, you look around and you see where your life is at and you feel like God must be angry at you.

    But the great news is, if you trust in Jesus, God isn’t angry at you!

    No matter what you have done or when you had done it. No matter where your life is at now, if you have put your faith in Jesus, God is no longer looking down on you in anger. He is only looking down on you in love.


    The reason that we feel like God is angry with us is because the theology of our heads hasn’t taken up residence in our hearts.

    How do you get that theology in your head down in your heart? You need to preach to yourself. Martin LLoyd Jones said that:

    “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them, but they start talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc.

    Somebody is talking.


    The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You have to take yourself in hand, you have to address yourself, preach to yourself, question yourself. You must say to your soul: ‘Why art thou cast down’– what business have you to be disquieted?

    You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’– instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.


    Then having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man: ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.’”

    –D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure

    Do you remind yourself of that God’s great love?  Every day remind yourself of how much God loves you and how much he has done for you. Right now, stop what you are doing and take time to remind yourself of the gospel and how you are now right with God and how he sees you as his precious child and because of that you are more loved than you can ever imagine.

    Do that daily and the theology of your head will infiltrate your heart!

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  • How Does the Doctrine of Adoption Shape My Leadership?

    It is my conviction that all of a Christian’s life is meant to be shaped by the gospel and by the theology of the Bible. But how does our doctrine shape the way we lead? For leadership don’t we have to read the latest leadership books and leave the Bible on the shelf? Well this week I am looking at how our doctrine shapes the way we lead. Yesterday we saw how the God’s sovereignty shapes our leadership and now we look at the doctrine of adoption.

    In his amazing book, Knowing God, J.I Packer describes adoption like this:

    In adoption, God takes us into his family and fellowship—he establishes us as his children and heirs. Closeness, affection and generosity are at the heart of the relationship. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is a greater. – J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 206

    What a comforting truth to be loved by God the father and considered to be his child!

    But let’s get practical, how does knowing this doctrine help us lead? I think in two ways:

    1. Identity

    As a leader it is very easy to find our identity shaped by being a leader or feeling great about the thing we lead. The opposite is also true, it is very easy to feel terrible and have our identity in tatters when the thing we are leading isn’t going well. But the doctrine of adoption says that our identity is found in the fact that we are children of God and nothing can take that away. If the thing we are leading is going great we are children of God, Likewise, if the thing we are leading is going terribly our identity doesn’t change. This helps us make weighty decisions in our leadership because if we make a bad decision and therefore we lose credibility or friends or our job it doesn’t affect our identity. It also helps us put leadership in it’s proper place. Leadership isn’t something that defines us but it is something our loving heavenly father uses to shape us into the person he wants us to be.

    2. The need to be loved and liked

    I was once told that only pathological killers don’t care if anyone likes or loves them. I assume that you are not a pathological killer and therefore you want people to love and like you just like me. But as leaders it is so easy to need people’s love and admiration that we turn into people pleasers and we forget about being the kind of strong leaders we need to be. But if we realise that God the father, the most beautiful person in the universe, loves us as his precious children, the love of the people will not be so captivating and we will not be as swayed by it. If I know I am loved more than I can ever imagine that means I will do the thing that I think is right no matter what people think. This is a hard thing to come to grips with but it is true. The more I know in my heart of hearts that I am loved by my heavenly father the stronger I lead.

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  • How Does God’s Sovereignty Shape Your Leadership?

    I have heard it said that all of us are leaders in some capacity. If you are have someone answering to you, you are leading that person. If you have a child, you are leading that child. If you are a teacher, you are leading the kids in your classroom.

    In his great book, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters, Albert Mohler says that leadership starts with strong convictions. But the question is how does the convictions that Christians hold shape our leadership? In the next few blogs we will be looking at four christian convictions or doctrines that can shape our leadership.

    But firstly we look at the christian conviction that God is in control of everything. Theologians call this God’s sovereignty. We could look at different aspects of God’s sovereignty but I want to focus on one verse that speaks of God’s sovereignty in a particular way:

    “The Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Daniel 4:32

    This is a phrase that pops up in Daniel in few other places (4:17, 5:21). God is dealing with two arrogant leaders (Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar) and the lesson that he is teaching them is that “The Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.” God alone is sovereign and in control, he rules we don’t and they as kings are only there because God has placed them there and therefore they should bow down and worship the only true and living God!

    How does this idea impact our leadership? I think in three ways

    1. Humility

    If God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes then  I am in my position of leadership not due to my own knowledge, skill, wisdom or looks. It means that I am in my position of leadership because God put me there. It also means that God could take me out of that leadership position whenever he wants too without my prior consent just as he did with Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar. Therefore, God doesn’t need me to accomplish what he wants to do but he allows me to be part of his plans. If this idea grips my heart this gives me a huge dose of humility. 

    2. Courage

    If God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes that means that I have been put in my leadership position for a reason. That means I can lead with courage. If God has got me here for a reason that must mean he wants me to lead from the position I have. If God is backing me in my position I can have great courage maybe even in despite of hard circumstances.

    3. Determination

    If, as part of his sovereign plan, God has placed me in a position of leadership than that means I have a job to do and therefore I can be determined to lead well and with all my might. Far from “letting go and letting God” the doctrine of God’s sovereignty allows me to work harder and be more determined than I have ever have been because God has placed me where he has placed me for a purpose!

    God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes. Therefore I will lead with humility, courage and determination. 

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  • What Being a Christian Is Really Like

    “This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness,

    not health, but healing,

    not being but becoming,

    not rest but exercise.

    We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it,

    the process is not yet finished, but it is going on,

    this is not the end, but it is the road.

    All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”

    – Martin Luther quoted in Paul Tripp Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change 

    This quote from Luther on the Christian life should encourage us all as it says that we are all works in progress and that God is still working in us in the power of his Spirit. No matter where you are or how you feel, if you trust in Jesus he is powerfully working in you.

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  • An Interview With Wesley Hill on Paul and the Trinity

    In this blog I interview Wesley Hill about his soon to be released book Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters. Wesley is best known for his great book Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. If you haven’t read Washed and Waiting sell your shirt and go and buy it. He also blogs and has just written a great piece for Christianity Today entitled “Why Can’t Men Be Friends? Wesley is the Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Trinity School for Ministry. Wesley is coming to Sydney next year to speak at two conferences (more details to come soon) and visit the Bible colleges in Sydney. Enough with the introduction and let’s get to the interview…

    1. Most books have a back story behind the author writing the book, what is the story behind you writing this book?

    I was initially wanting to work on Romans 9-11, which is where Paul is discussing the destiny of the Jewish people. Is there a future in God’s salvation plan for Paul’s fellow Jews? But as I was doing research on those chapters, I realized that I needed to grapple with a larger, deeper question: Is the Christian God the same as the God of Israel? This is the question the early Christian heretic Marcion was asking, and he answered with a “No!” What I wanted to explore was what a “Yes” answer means. What does it mean that the God Paul meets in Jesus Christ and the Spirit of Christ is the same as the God who spoke with Abraham and Moses in the Old Testament?

    2. What is the main idea you are trying to capture in this book?

    The main idea of the book is that in order to talk about who God really is, you have to at once talk about Jesus and the Spirit. And vice versa. To put it in more academic jargon, God’s identity is relational. There is no way to talk about “God,” according to Paul, without immediately mentioning the cross and the resurrection and the Spirit who cries “Abba, Father!”

    3. Can you succinctly state the argument of the book?

    Here’s the basic gist: God the Father hands over his unique divine Name—“Lord” (which stands for his proper name “YHWH,” or “Yahweh”)—to Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:5-11). And that same Name is shared by the Spirit too (2 Corinthians 3:17). And yet, God the Father is not simply reducible to Jesus, and Jesus is not the Spirit. There is both unity and distinction. There is unity at the level of the shared Name: There is only one Lord. But there is distinction at the level of “persons”: God the Father is distinct from Jesus Christ, who is in turn distinct from the Spirit. So, we have to say two things: The Father, Christ, and the Spirit are not three gods but one and the same “Lord”; and, second, the Father, Christ, and the Spirit are three persons. Saying both of these things is essential.

    4. Are there any theological issues regarding the trinity that you are trying to address in this book?

    One of the things I’m trying to argue is that Paul rethought everything he knew about the God of Israel after his conversion on the Damascus Road. Paul realized that the risen Jesus whom he saw in glory (cf. 2 Corinthians 4) had been present as far back as Abraham’s day. That’s a radical thing! Jesus and the Spirit aren’t simply “johnny-come-lately’s” who showed up at the eleventh hour in history. Rather, the God of Israel has always been Father, Son, and Spirit, even though that wasn’t always clear in the history of Israel and in the Scriptures.

    5.  Why does the doctrine of the Trinity matter for every day life?

    One of the reasons the doctrine of the Trinity matters so much is that it enables us to say with full confidence to people that the attractive, compelling, radiant person of Jesus Christ whom we meet in the pages of the Gospels simply is the God of the universe. Lots of people like Jesus, but they’re afraid that the “real” God lurking up in heaven somewhere behind Jesus’ back is really different from Jesus. But that’s not the case. Jesus is the human face of God. He is God for us. According to Paul, God shows God’s own love for us by sending Jesus Christ to die on our behalf (Romans 5:8-9; 8:32; Galatians 4:4-6).

    6. If you were going to preach a 4-6 week series on the Trinity in Paul what passages would select to preach on and what would you want to get out of each passage?

    I might start with Philippians 2:5-11, which shows the mutual relationship of Jesus the Son who humbles himself at God the Father’s bidding and that same Father who exalts Jesus and bestows on him God’s very own name. That passage richly illustrates how Jesus’ humiliation and exaltation is the definitive revelation of who God is. From there, you might go to Galatians 4:4-6, a kind of Pauline Trinitarian theology in miniature. Romans 8 is the place to see the Spirit’s role in salvation, with verses 9-11 at the heart of it: The Spirit is the one by whom the Father raised Jesus from the dead and by whom God will also raise us with Christ. The goal in preaching on “Paul and the Trinity” is to show believers that the “doctrine of the Trinity” is simply the same thing as the “doctrine of salvation”: our very Christian lives have a Trinitarian shape, insofar as we are adopted as the Father’s own sons and daughters through Jesus the Son, and we address our adopted Father in the power of the Spirit who cries out within us. It’s all there in Galatians and Romans!

    7. What do you hope that readers get out of reading this book?

    This book is written mainly for other scholars, trying to persuade them that studying classic Christian doctrine is a good way to go about reading the Bible. This is not always a very welcome perspective in academic departments, where “systematic theology” and “Biblical studies” are often held apart. What I hope readers will take away is the sense that doctrines like the doctrine of the Trinity aren’t roadblocks to understanding the Bible but are, instead, pathways into a deeper reading of Scripture. For other readers who want a more basic introduction to the issues I’m writing about, I would recommend reading Fred Sanders’ book The Deep Things of God or Gilles Emery’s The Trinity.

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  • Book Reviews For September 2014

    Here are the books I have read in the past month.

    Christ-Centered Preaching: Redeeming the Expository Sermon by Bryan Chapell

    At the Oxygen conference I had the amazing privilege of hearing Bryan Chapell both preach and lecture about preaching. I read half this book before the conference and half after it and it is brilliant. I would say it is the best preaching book I have ever read. Chapell’s emphasis on preaching grace is what sets this book apart for me although his advice on sermon structure, applications and illustrations are brilliant. If you are a beginning preacher, have never read a book about preaching or you haven’t read on in a while. Get this book. It has solid gold on ever page.

    The Holiness of God by R.C Sproul

    How would you describe God? Sproul argues that we cannot know God apart from his holiness and he shows this by not only taking us to scripture but by explaining theology so clearly and memorably. This is a very encouraging and mind blowing read. It”s a great book to give out at church to anyone who comes or a great book to read in a reading group. It will enlarge your picture of God and will make you see the depths of the gospel in a new a beautiful light.

    Jump Attack: The Formula for Explosive Athletic Performance, Jumping Higher, and Training Like the Pros by Tim Grover

    Grover trained men like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade and this book is the program that he uses to train them and other basketball superstars. It also has a lot of motivational material as well as advice on nutrition and recovery. The workout is broken up into three stages and  the first stage is a killer. A great workout for anyone who plays basketball or any sport where explosiveness is required.

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    Book Reviews July 2014

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