C.J. Mahaney on Sports

Today at Covenant Life Church C.J. Mahaney gave an outstanding message entitled “Don’t Waste Your Sports”. If you enjoy playing, watching, or talking sports, you need to listen to this message.

Get it HERE.

My First Day at the Pastor’s College

This past Tuesday was my first day at the Sovereign Grace Ministries Pastor’s College. My good friend Bo Lotinsky, along with some other members of the staff, welcomed me to class by dragging my scooter (not moped!) from the parking lot and doing a little decorating. Needless to say, I got a good laugh, as did the rest of the class. Here’s some photos…

Do You Love The Wrath of God?

Nature’s Wrath

The title of this post certainly wouldn’t get me on Oprah. Why? Because it’s not tolerant and sensitive to talk about the wrath of God these days. We don’t want a wrathful God, we want a purely loving God who will come and tuck us in at night and give us a glass of warm milk. We don’t like wrath. The very concept makes us feel like primitive cavemen (or cavewomen) who eat their meat raw and carry large wooden clubs.

But recently I’ve come to see that there’s something very good and right about the wrath of God. Listen to this quote by J.I. Packer from the book In My Place Condemned He Stood:

And this [the wrath of God] is righteous anger – the right reaction of moral perfection in the Creator toward moral perversity in the creature. So far from the manifestation of God’s wrath in punishing sin being morally doubtful, the thing that would be morally doubtful would be for him not to show his wrath in this way. God is not just – that is he does not act in the way that is right, he does not do what is proper to a judge – unless he inflicts upon all sin and wrongdoing the penalty it deserves.

That, ladies and gentleman, is a deep quote. Let me encourage you to read it again. And maybe a third time. Now for a few thoughts.

Think for a moment about all the perverse, evil deeds committed by men and women. These wicked acts are against each other. Rape, murder, slander, selfishness, racism. They are committed in the privacy of our own hearts. Lust, arrogance, self-sufficiency, grumbling. But ultimately, all these wicked deeds are committed against the Creator himself. Every wicked act I’ve ever done, every perverse thought that has crossed my mind is ultimately rebellion against the very God who made me.

Isn’t it good and right that God punishes sin? How could we love a God who simply overlooked murder? How could we worship a God who didn’t care when we grumbled against him? The wrath of God is the only right response to our wickedness. I couldn’t follow a God who didn’t bring justice upon wickedness.

And all this makes the cross so sweet. I’m wicked and perverted. My thoughts are evil. Without a doubt I deserve wrath. But God’s mercy has made a way for God’s justice to be satisfied and for me to be forgiven. That’s the gospel. The cross makes it possible for me to love the wrath of God.

Originally published April, 2008

Degraded

“If there is a dispute between men and they come into court and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense. Forty stripes may be given him, but not more, lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.” — Deuteronomy 25:1-3

How merciful God is in dealing with his people. A convicted man was to be whipped in the presence of the judge. But he was only to be given a number of strokes in proportion to his crime. The maximum he could receive was 40 stripes, so that he would not be degraded in the sight of his brother.

Some crimes might have deserved more than 40 strokes, but God in his kindness didn’t want to see anyone humiliated in front of his brothers.

But he did not show the same mercy toward his Son.

“Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.” – MT 27:26

The ESV footnote for the word “scourged” says: “A Roman judicial penalty, consisting of a severe beating with a multi-lashed whip containing imbedded pieces of bone and metal.” These cruel whips would literally shred the skin of one’s back and sides.

God, who would spare a guilty man from excessive whipping so he wouldn’t be humiliated in front of his brother, did not spare Jesus from degradation. How dehumanizing it was when the Roman soldiers mercilessly whipped him, crowned him with thorns, draped a purple robe over his shoulders, placed a reed in his hands for a scepter, then bowed before him paying him mock homage. How degrading as they struck him and spit in his face. How degrading it was when they stripped him in front of everyone than crucified him like a criminal. How humiliating it was for Jesus to hang there gasping for air, while the crowd mocked and laughed at him in his suffering.

And Jesus endured the ultimate degradation of becoming so identified with our sin that his own Father turned away in disgust and loathing and poured out his wrath upon him.

He did all that for guilty sinners — those who truly deserved to be degraded. But when we call upon Jesus, instead of receiving the degradation we deserve, he clothes us with his righteousness and crowns us with glory. What kind of God do we serve?

May I be willing to be humiliated for Jesus. May I be willing to suffer, to be thought poorly of, or to be mocked for the one who was degraded for me.

Illustration: The Flagellation of Christ

If There Was No Jesus

If there was no Jesus:

_We’d be forced to relate to God everyday on the basis of our works, and could have no certainty that God accepts us, let alone loves us. Any attempts to work our way to God would only result in guilty, fearful uncertainty.

_There would be zero hope of heaven, zero hope of seeing those who have died before us, zero hope of being in the presence of God for eternity. Only the prospect of hell. Unending punishment. Relentless flames and unbearable wrath.

_We could never pray to God intimately, as a son or daughter. God wouldn’t be our wonderful Father, he would be our judge.

_A clean conscience would be impossible. The weight of our guilt would be a never ending, suffocating burden. Any attempts to clean our defiled souls would be useless.

_There would be no one to satisfy our souls. All joy would be the superficial, short-lived, junk-food joy that comes from the pleasures of this world.

Because of Jesus:

_Our relationship with God isn’t about merit, it’s all about grace. Jesus lived in my place, died in my place, God accepts me. Period. He sings over me, rejoices over me, delights over me. I come to him freely, without fear, without guilt.

_I have the certain, assured hope of an eternity in the presence of God. This world isn’t my final resting place. Jesus has secured my place in heaven. When loved ones die, I can grieve with hope. Every day takes on meaning in light of eternity. What I do here matters then.

_We come to God as Father! He’s our Father who cares deeply, intensely, passionately about us. He cares about every moment of my day, and I’m greeted every morning by new mercies. My relationship with God is as son to Father.

_Clean consciences! Every night I can go to bed knowing that my soul has been washed in the blood of Christ himself. I’m not guilty before God. I’m not kept awake at night by an unhappy soul.

_The glorious satisfaction of my soul in Jesus. The world is on an endless, fruitless quest for happiness. In Jesus there is true joy for my soul. There is joy every day, joy in the pain, joy in old age, joy in death.

Isn’t the gospel glorious? What else would you add to the list?

+photo by kevindooley