I’m a part of a 16 person team traveling from Springfield, Il to Huehuetenango, Guatemala in October 2013. We’re working with Habitat for Humanity to help build 2 home for people who are currently living in poverty housing.
Guatemala has a 80% poverty rate. The need is great, and we want to be part of the solution! You can be a part of the solution as well by sponsoring me or my team.
Each member has to raise approximately $2000 for the trip. This pays for our in country expenses (lodging, food, travel), getting there, and a donation to Habitat Guatemala, who has to date built over 50,000 homes!
You can donate to me or the team here: http://habitatsangamon.com/AboutUs/GlobalVillage.aspx
Questions? Please contact me here on email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is good? How do you define good?
A quick dictionary definition is that good refers to “moral excellence” (It was good of him to help that homeless guy) or having “high quality” (Man, these chicken wings are good!).
Does that seem like the best way to define good in light of God, though? Calling God “morally excellent” doesn’t seem to quite hit the mark.
AW Pink refers to God’s goodness as the “perfection of His nature.” This is better. When we talk about God’s goodness, we need to talk in terms of his very nature and character, which is perfect. 1 John 1:5 helps us understand this perfection, this ‘goodness’:
This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
God is light. God is perfect. God is good.
There is nothing defective about God. There is no chink in His armor. There is no blemish. There is no darkness.
There is nothing you can add to God to make him better. God is “unimprovable.”
One thing that our language does is restrict things and measure everything out on a progressive line. We see this clearly with the word “good.” We don’t just want ‘good’; we want ‘better.’ But we can’t just settle for ‘better’, we want the ‘best.’ We are told and instructed and encouraged to grow and develop from ‘good’ to ‘great.’ Not that any of that is necessarily wrong or bad, it’s not. But we have lost the purity and excellency of simple “goodness.”
Now apply that thought to our thinking about God and who He is. Saying God is ‘good’ may not sit well with us because we are striving for ‘better’ and ‘best’ and ‘great.’ Suddenly we have diminished the very nature of God without really even realizing it. We need to confront that, re-educate ourselves, and repent of not seeing or believing that God is as good as He really is. For the truth is:
God is good.
God is better.
God is the best.
God is the greatest.
We need to be careful of comparing God to the things as we define as good (food, experiences, relationships, etc.). We need to begin to weigh out the value of those things in light of who God is. For when we lessen our dishonoring of God as His goodness, we also will lessen the amount of idolatry in our lives. We don’t make good things ultimate things as often.
So what is ‘good’? What is the best way to define it? I think the best way to define good is:
God is good.
But don’t take my word for it. Check out what scripture has to say:
Psalm 34:8; 52:9; 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1,29; 119:68; 136:1
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
(Mark 10:17-18 ESV)
Jesus is God. He was pretty clear on that point and the rest of scripture supports that as well. Given that, I when the rich young ruler approached Jesus and asked his question by respectfully honoring Jesus with the title “Good Teacher,” I think that Jesus initial answer to him was said with a little wink and a smile. Jesus then proves this point (specifically His deity) by going ahead and answering the man’s question.
My goal here isn’t so much in exegeting this passage, but to introduce a topic. It’s been a couple of months since I’ve written anything, mainly because I’m not very disciplined in writing. But also because of things like being busy, doing a lot of reading instead, not feeling that I have anything of worth to write, and just making a lot of excuses.
The other week I was really struggling with some boredom with life, and my godly wife challenged me with the fact that somehow God and the gospel weren’t being enough for me. After I initially got mad and pouted about that for a little while, I realized she was right. We talked for a bit and I realized that I wasn’t being satisfied in Him. And if I wasn’t being satisfied, then I wasn’t believing that He is all the good I could ever need.
I then took a big chunk of time away one evening, drank a big cup of coffee at Starbucks, and basically began studying the goodness of God. Hopefully as I blog about this study (as I study) it will provide some good encouragement for me to study well. It’s also true for me that any time I have to communicate something I’m trying to learn, I end up learning it more dynamically. I don’t know how many posts this will end up being, but consider this the first in a series on the goodness of God.
I’ll end this (and probably the rest of these posts) with a quote I found from the theologian/commentator AW Pink:
“God is not only the Greatest of all beings, but the Best.”
Today, November 1, is the Catholic holy day “All Saint’s Day.” Biblically, all Christians are saints, not just some who have accomplished a few miracles (doing a simple search and reading through the passages gives you a clear picture that all Christians being addressed in the letter are referred to as saints). But taking some time to read and reflect on those who have gone before us in the Lord is a good thing.
I spent some time reading Hebrews 11 this morning to this end. There were a couple things that really stood out to me in reading through this great “Hall of Faith.”
- Those listed are listed because of their faith, not necessarily their works. Their actions and decisions flowed out of their faith in the sufficiency and power of God.
- The result of their faith was something radical – either God doing something amazing, or their lives ending in an ugly death (see verses 35-38).
- In light of that, faith does not guarantee any type of pain-free life. Even the great things that are listed in the passage came through much hardship and suffering.
Do you like where you’re living?
Do you like what you do?
Do you like what you’re seeing . . .
When you’re lookin’ at you?
Do you like what you’re saying . . .
When you open your face?
Do you got the right feeling?
Are you in the right place?
-Monsters of Folk
I wanna fit in to the perfect space,
feel natural and safe in a volatile place…
-The Avett Brothers
The last year and a half has knowingly been a transition year. There’s been a lot of personal growth that has taken place, specifically in identifying, confronting, and repenting of idols in my heart and how that expressed itself in my life and relationships. I stepped out of full-time pastoral ministry, began a new job, and even tried to remain at the church that I planted as it was going through a lot of transition. Both Dawn and I feel like we’re in the “in between place” – a place where life isn’t like it was (which we’re still figuring that out and growing into), but isn’t what it’s going to be. As we personally move forward (heart & relational things), we’re not sure what it’s going to practically look like: where we live, what we do vocationally, etc. Those are big questions to us.
The lyrics of the songs posted here have been a sort of prayer and longing for me each time I hear them. Now, I’m certainly not naive enough to believe that there is truly a “perfect space” or a “right place” where everything all clicks at once. But, I do pray that the passion, personality, and giftedness that myself and my family has will find it’s place. I fully believe that God has it all worked out for the right time & place. Now’s the time to grow in trust and enjoy waiting on the Lord.
From the Puritan prayer book, “The Valley of Vision”-
Resting on God
O God, most high, most glorious, the thought of Thine infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but Thou art for ever at perfect peace. Thy designs cause thee no fear or care of unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills. Thy power knows no bond, Thy goodness no stint. Thou bringest order out of confusion, and my defeats are Thy victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
I come to Thee as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to Thee, every sin calling for Christ’s precious blood; revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls. Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit. Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities, burning into me by experience the things I know; Let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.
Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee. Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling. Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God.
This old hymn has been the prayer & cry of my heart lately. I’ve come to realize that when I suffer from anger, disappointment, dissatisfaction, or even unforgiveness much of it is rooted in my lack of trust and rest in Jesus. Basically, I’m trying to control my world and get my way instead of abiding in Him and His sovereign and good rule.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
And Thy beauty fills my soul,
For by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.
Jesus, I am resting, resting,
In the joy of what Thou art;
I am finding out the greatness
Of Thy loving heart.
O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Beloved,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
Simply trusting Thee, Lord Jesus,
I behold Thee as Thou art,
And Thy love, so pure, so changeless,
Satisfies my heart;
Satisfies its deepest longings,
Meets, supplies its every need,
Compasseth me round with blessings:
Thine is love indeed!
Ever lift Thy face upon me
As I work and wait for Thee;
Resting ’neath Thy smile, Lord Jesus,
Earth’s dark shadows flee.
Brightness of my Father’s glory,
Sunshine of my Father’s face,
Keep me ever trusting, resting,
Fill me with Thy grace.
I was teaching the kids at church this past Sunday. The story was Noah, and the theme was how God makes a promise and keeps His promise regarding punishing sin…but also made a promise to save Noah & his family. (I also got one kid laughing pretty hard when I asked if they thought Ham & Mrs. Ham were in charge of taking care of the pigs!).
As I’ve reflected on that lesson & the story, I’ve begun to think that whenever the Bible talks about God punishing sin, He also always is showing grace because of that sin as well. Here are some examples that came to mind:
- In the garden after the fall, God tells what the curse is, but also gives the first prophecy of the Messiah.
- God doesn’t kill Adam & Eve for their sin, but kills an animal and clothes them.
- God floods the earth, but saves Noah & his family.
- Sodom & Gomorrah are destroyed, but Lot is saved.
- Joseph is sold to slavery, but rises to power and saves his family.
- Jonah runs from God and endures a hurricane & getting swallowed by a fish, yet those are the things that God uses to make him come to his senses & then Jonah is released to preach again.
- Peter denies Jesus three times and gets reinstated three times.
- And the ultimate example is Jesus taking on the punishment & consequences of our sin, that we may be saved by grace.
Dawn and I have been talking a lot lately about community, mission, evangelism, etc. We’re also been doing a lot of reading in 1 Peter. As I was reading in 1 Peter 2 yesterday morning, a familiar passage reminded me of something that is pretty profound: being in God’s community means that you are an evangelist. Here’s what 1 Peter 2:9-12 says:
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.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Did you see that? We are his people that we may proclaim his excellencies. As his people, our conduct matches what we are proclaiming so that God is glorified and those who are lost get saved.
You, Christian, were chosen to be a part of God’s people – God’s family – to help expand God’s family.
You were saved for mission.
This has nothing to do with the “gift” of evangelism at all. Everyone is called – expected – to evangelize. Everyone is also equipped to evangelize because all Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. If you are not sharing your faith and your conduct does not match what you say you believe, it seems to me that the only options are such: 1) you are really not a Christian, and you need to repent of your unbelief; 2) you are a disobedient Christian, and you need to repent of your unfaithfulness; or 3) you are a fearful Christian, and you need to repent of your fear and probable laziness (or you’re so fearful of “the world” that you’ve cocooned yourself in a Christian ‘fortress’ and have no non-Christian friends).
But the main thing to remember here is not how much you suck at mission & evangelism, but rather to remember that God has saved you! Think of the grace he has shown you. Reflect on his love and mercy that was illustrated on the cross. Be mindful of what communion really means when you eat & drink. For only grace will truly change your heart & affections and motivate you to fully live as his people on mission.
Christian, you are part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession. That is your identity. That is your strength. That is your acceptance and affirmation. That is your security. That is your comfort.
May grace be with you as we together love on a lost, broken, and dying world.
I’ve been pondering this verse for a few days:
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” -Jeremiah 31:34
The goal of the Christian life is to grow and become like Jesus; we are called to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). One of the most gracious acts toward us is the forgiveness of our sin and the reconciliation that God has made with us; so as we imitate God we forgive and reconcile with others as evidence of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5).
So, in light of Jeremiah 31 (which is also quoted in Hebrews 8), for us to fully forgive as God does includes “remembering their sin no more.”
Wow. Shows me how much more I need to grow.
This is why, when Paul was defining love in 1 Corinthians 13, that he made a point in writing that love keeps no record of wrong. Practically this means that you can’t say to someone “I forgive you” and then reference or bring up their sin again. If you bring it up, you really haven’t forgiven that person. You’re remembering.
Remembering is an important thing to Christians, but remembering the right thing is key. We remember who God is. We remember what Jesus has accomplished for us already. We remember the power that the Holy Spirit gives us. We remember the promises that he’s made for us to fully and finally deliver us. We remember His plan of redemption for His people, and that through faith in Jesus, we become His people.
As we remember what God has done for us, we get life. As we remember what people have done to us, we get death.
I want to remember to get life. More and more and deeper and deeper and fuller and fuller LIFE.
I want to forgive so much that I don’t even remember what the sin was because it’s been wiped so clean. And this is completely possible! The power of the gospel – the power that raised Christ from the dead – resides in us by the Holy Spirit.
With God (in us) all things are possible.
May God fill me and you so much with his love, grace, and forgiveness that we all experience memory loss.