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Culture Holy

Alliteration absent always
What is this passage saying?
I don’t know but God is love
And that is all you need to know

Motifs of thorns and roses
What is the doctrine of hope?
There’s no need to comprehend
Our nature is fallen and broken

Metaphors are the Higgins particles
Rare, unseen, empty; matters not
As long as Gospel is preached
All is well and safe and calm

Thus this culture Holy slowly passes
Limp, lifeless, listless & light
No imagery no Eucharisteo
Devoid of passion, soul, might

The devil has all the truth
Bound in words and riddles
Art beckons and words suggest
Hidden things that only jest
And prod and tease while yet
The culture Holy wholly understands not

Love

Love
By William L Peace Jr

Love
Her flowered breath in my chapped ear
Love
His protective hands leading her forward
Love
The Eucharist of a morality tale for man
Love
A living sacred symbol of a Savior’s ransomed people
Love
A feeling
Love
A selfless action
Love
Denying his fleshly appeal for him
Love
Her valiant “no” to feelings for her
Love
Laying down one’s life for a friend
Love
That God is mindful of us
Love

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Push Forward

I read a book recently called “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.  Something that he wrote stuck with me.  In order to do art, we must make war (his was more eloquently put).  We cannot merely sit at a computer and start typing out gold.  We cannot stand at a canvas and flesh out masterpieces willy-nilly. 

We need to make war.  We fight for every syntax, every color meld, every musical combination.  There is a huge resistance.

I will not steal Pressfield’s thunder but this resonated with me and struck my inner core.  So imagine my surprise when I heard the same maxim being applied to the Christian walk.

Hear me.  Not only salvation is under siege but also the walk, the journey, the quest for our Imago Christi, our Christ Image.

We read a book by Jerry Bridges in a study called “The Pursuit of Holiness” and this is where it was laid out most vividly for me.  I grew up hearing the Devil prowled and devoured.  I knew that there was an enemy.  I knew that he strives to accuse the brethren. 

But I did not live it.

I did not act it.

I acted as if I was on the side lines.  I was at home on the couch stuffing my face with cheese doodles and watching “Friends” or “Lost.”  I did not hold a sword in my hand, I held a remote.

I hear this is an epidemic in America.  I’m not sold on that but then I have only been to another country once for two weeks and stayed secluded in a compound.  What do I know?

While reading Bridges talk about justification and sanctification and what we need to be doing, I began to realize I needed to put to practice what Bridges and Pressfield were teaching. 

We cannot be unintentional with an intentional enemy.

This is important and the crux of our walk.  Our enemy is out for blood.  Our flesh tastes good and he will not give us so easily.  But we are not locked in an endless battle or fighting for a conquered kingdom.

We fight for King Jesus.  We strive to build into His kingdom.  We are fighting tooth and nail to grow in the likeness of His image.  We create, we preach, we share, we encourage, we push forward so that we might, as one Body, as one Bride, as one Church, go out into the world and preach the Gospel.  Make disciples.  Seek first the kingdom.

Life is hard.  There is blood, skin, bones involved.  Feelings are hurt, hearts are torn.  Friends leave and betray, leaders break your legs, followers push you from a cliff.  But keep pushing forward.  Fight the good fight.  Contend for the faith.  Do all of those actions the writers of scripture command.

Push forward.

Peace,

Bill

Let Us Begin…Again

It happened.  I fell into the trap.  I have not updated in a while.  At first, it was because I was waiting for inspiration for a post.  Then it was because I had not updated in a bit so I could go for a little longer.  Then, I was busy.

Then nothing.  Every now and then I would feel a twinge of guilt.  A “Hey, maybe I should… watch TV.”

Here I am, a little less than two years later.  I have envisioned a blogging project with a much cooler name than my initials.  But, ever the loudest critic of my work, I stop and ask, “If I cannot maintain a practice blog, how can I keep a larger than life, ultra-cool, widely read blog?”

Thus, you are stuck with me for a little while longer until I can prove to myself that I am worthy of running a blog.

Well then, let us begin…again!

Change

I have been through some switch ups recently.

I am working for a Bachelors Degree through Liberty University Online.  I am almost finished!  Then onto my Masters!

I upgraded my position at my job!  God has blessed me with a promotion over the past year, which answered a lot of prayers.

There has also been another development which I have been praising God for in the past year.

Did you know those kids in high school who knew exactly what college they wanted to go to, for which degree, for which job, and who they were going to marry along the way?  For instance, I knew a girl.  All she wanted was to be married and be a florist.  Well, let me tell you, she is now married to a really cool guy and she is…can you guess?  Yes.  She is a florist.

I lacked that conviction, that surety in life during high school.  I assumed that I knew basically where I was heading and what I liked doing and that the rest would fill itself into my life along the way.  Fast forward nine years.  Nine whole years form graduation and I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.  I was George Bailey, wanting to travel the world and getting nowhere fast.  I needed a job.  I needed to pay bills.  I needed a car.  And, before long, I was stuck.

Life happened (I love that euphemism) and God put some really godly men in my life.  I still did not have concrete answers.  But one of the guys, Mike, kept drilling in my head: Seek Ye First.  It’s almost a mantra now.  One foot in front of the other.  Follow God in the little things.  Show myself to be a good steward of Gondor…I Mean my talents.  The rest shall follow.

August of 2012 rolled around a couple months after my last blog post on, ironically, looking to God for guidance.  I had tried a lot in the course of the previous years.  Food services.  Computers.  Business.  Accounting (that lasted about two classes).  Teaching English as a second language (thanks to a group from my college year at Lancaster Bible College).

Nothing.  I had a long list of what I knew I did not like.  In the course of this time, I was serving in the church.  I always gravitated towards teaching.  I loved it.  I loved digging into the word.  I loved figuring out what God was saying through His people.  The elders at my church helped me with working out lessons.  They kept telling me to get at the application and to facilitate more than lecture.  I am still working on that.

I also knew I wanted to be in the mission field.  Ever since I read of Hudson Taylor as a kid, I wanted to smuggle Bibles into China.  Well, China has Bibles and there is a lot of good work over there right now (I even hear there is a rise in Calvinism!!!!).  In this vein I spent a summer with a buddy and a pastor at the boardwalk handing out tracts, witnessing, spreading the gospel, and street preaching.  From this I have determined that while I am to go out into all the world and preach the gospel, I do not have the gift of evangelism.  It does not come naturally.

Well, I was lost.  I was stuck at my job, praying for change or something to point me in the right direction.  God had started something and He had definitely forgotten about me, right?

Me and a group of guys from the church had read Radical by David Platt earlier that year and Mike told us how his son and a friend were going to Kenya for two years right out of college to preach the gospel.  Some men had stepped up from the church the two guys attended in the Carolinas and offered to pay for their tuition.

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.

Radical.

So I stepped out and, after prayer and talking with the elders at my church, I applied for Liberty University’s Online program.  I was working full time and could not afford to leave for college.  So, in the fall of 2012, I started taking classes.  God opened up doors so that I could finally move out and get a place with some roommates.  Full time job, full time classes, my own place.  God really blessed me and there was nothing that I could take credit for other than being faithful and trusting God.

Then it happened.  I’m not exactly sure what the date was or where I was exactly.  But I finally figured out what I wanted to do when I grew up!

There is a ministry that takes those with Masters or Doctorate Degrees and sends them to pastors who have little to no access to bible colleges.

My heart leapt for joy.  Even now as I write these words I rejoice that God would reveal this to me.  I had no idea this even existed.

Now I am close to the end of my degree.  I have 7 more classes.

In the past couple years I have not been even close to a role model.  I have raged and whined and worried at where God was leading me.  I still do.  I do not count it all joy.  I do not place my hope and anxiety in Him who feeds the sparrows and clothes the flowers.  But I am still young and God has a lot of work to do anyway so hopefully that will be taken care of down the road.

My prayers were not answered right away; my pleas were not met immediately.  Is there a time this has happened to you and later down the road you were thankful your prayers were not answered?

Peace,

Bill

Guiding Light

I have always wondered at the mystery of the phrase “God led me to…”.  I always wondered how God leads us.  Was it an audible voice?  If so then why could I never hear Him?  Was I not saved?

A couple years ago, when I was searching for direction in my life, this became a huge question.  How would I know where God was leading me if there was no “Voice from Heaven?”  Then, for my birthday, my Mom gave me a book by J. I. Packer titled Guard us, Guide us.  I was so excited.  Finally, a book that could teach me how to listen for God’s guiding call.

If you have ever read a J. I. Packer text, you will know that he is not a light read.  This is not something you can just pick up and set down with ease.  You have to invest some time with it.

So, I didn’t really get through the first chapter for about a couple years (sorry mom).

But, strangely enough, I began to see that, despite not reading this book (which I still plan to do), God has been leading me and I have been seeing it very clearly in my life.  Not that I’m perfect but I feel as if this book is now more of a supplement than a primary text.  Which is exciting in and of itself.  As I have been growing in my walk with God, I have been learning to follow Him and see His guiding hand.

So, now you may ask, how does one see God’s guidance in their life?

So far, through God’s word and Prayer.

What?  It’s that simple?

Yes.  Even more so.

We read what God has commanded of us in scripture.  This is the basic way of following God in a general sense.  You come to a decision point.  I am hungry for a snickers bar.  Do I steal one or do I pay for it?  What does God’s word say?  Stealing is a sin.  Answer: Pay for it. (Or be healthy and buy a carrot instead).

In a more situational sense, prayer would come into play in more than a mere “Lead us from temptation” sense.  You have to confront a friend, a brother or sister in Christ.  How do we go about it?  In love, yes.  One on one, yes.  These are the basic guidelines laid out by scripture.  But specifically how?  How will it play out?  Do you even confront them?  Is it your place?  These are all specific issues that are not necessarily covered in scripture.  “Do I date this Christian girl or that Christian girl?”  “Do I even date?”  “Can I watch rated R movies?”

If your reading this and this is something that you learned a long time ago, congrats and I wish I had.  But I hope this somewhat helps those who are still learning of God’s Guidance.  And seriously, you will want to pick up J. I. Packer’s book.  It’s a good read so far (I’m up to chapter 4).

Peace,

Bill

The Power of the Gospel

In my 22 years of being a Born Again Christ Follower, I have struggled with the fact that there have not been a whole lot of people that I have led to Christ.  This was something I worked out years ago thankfully but then I lost sight of what I had learned.  In reading David Platt’s book “Radical” with a couple guys from my church, the book has helped me to see that again in clarity and I wanted to share with you some of the insights I have gleaned in this area of life.  I will use Romans 1:16,17 as a template of sorts.

I am not Ashamed

There is a war going on within our reality between spiritual forces.  Satan knows his time is coming to a close so he is doing everything in his power to a) keep those who are dead in sin from seeing the light of the gospel, and b) turn those who are children of God away from the light of the gospel.  As such, to those who are in the former category, the gospel is offensive and debilitating.  It is painful and it is blinding.  It is one of the big three that one is not to discuss in polite conversation (the three being politics, religion, and money).  But this can not be the case.  The gospel is meant to be spoken aloud, to those dead in sin, and those walking away from God.  Christ is said to be offensive and a stumbling block.  Therefore, we who live in such a world that demands comfort and instant gratification must understand that we cannot be ashamed of the gospel.  Yes, it will cause trouble.  But this is the norm, not the exception.  Do not be ashamed.

The Gospel

What is the gospel?  This is a tricky issue in today’s American culture.  There are different variations that different people say you must present differently. This is grounds for another blog post to look at in more depth the gospel.  But in short, the gospel is that I, as a human being, am born in sin, dead to sin, and destined for hell apart from God.  I am so dead in my sin that I am not even able to come to God on my own and I reject God to the detriment of my life, physical and spiritual.  But behold! Christ has come to earth to live, die, and be resurrected so that there is a hope that we may be made alive in Him.  We who once were dead in sin now have a way to come to God and be made new, to be born again and to escape the wrath of God.  This is, in short, the Gospel.

The Power of God

This gospel is not an initiative of man.  This is done through the power of God.  This is who we rely on in the gospel.  The salvation God offers us is a free gift, not just something earned.  This is something me must keep at the forefront of our lives, in witnessing and living.  The gospel needs the power of God.

For Salvation to the Jew and Greek

The gospel is not a respecter of nationality, blood, heritage, or culture.  It transcends all of this and is applicable for all.

Revelation

Without the revealed gospel, we would have no way to understand who God is beyond His eternal power and divine nature.  This understanding cannot save.  This can only point us in the right direction.  Unfortunately, we suppress this in our sin dead ways.  We take what God has created and in turn worshiped that.  One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah 44:18-20 where God describes a man who takes a piece of wood, used part of it to make fire, used more of it to make bread, and used the rest to make an idol.  We cannot know God apart from what God has revealed to us.

This is important in my struggle because I used to take the responsibility for persuasion completely on my shoulders in witnessing.  I used to study evolution, Catholicism, carbon 14 dating, biology, history, literary theory, textual criticism, hermeneutics, theology, apologetics, philosophy, and anything else that I thought would help persuade people that God is calling for us to cry out to Him.  And when a finely crafted argument (or so I thought) would fail to bring those to whom I witnessed to Christ, I would become so discouraged that I finally stopped telling people about Christ for a good amount of time.

It is not my job to bring people to Christ.  Christ brings people to Christ.  It is my job to tell the people about the gospel.  Paul did not persuade Agrippa.  But Paul preached to him.  That was his job, not to persuade, but to preach.  And honestly, this is such a blessing, to have Paul’s testimony, for if he couldn’t persuade someone, with all of his learning and skills and authority, then I am comforted.

Take heart.  Keep on preaching the gospel in love and humility, praising God when He allows you to see someone call on the name of His Son Jesus, but not growing discouraged if something visible does not occur.  I Corinthians 3:7 “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

The heart.  It is a symbol of Love, of Happiness, of a liking of something.  It is the picture of the word Love.

 

In our culture, Love has taken on several connotations other than strong, binding feelings between two or more people.  But this is nothing new.  “I love my wife” one might say.  “I love my Child.”  “I love my dog.”  “I love my couch.”  “I love that TV.”  “I love that movie.”  “I love the sunlight.”  “I love that joke.”  “I love to run.”  “I love…” and the list goes on and on and on.

 

We can love people.

 

We can love animals.

 

We can love inanimate objects.

 

We can love actions.

 

All of this loving we show with the picture of a heart.

 

But what about the actions we don’t love?

 

When a politician lies, saying one thing before election and doing another thing after, how do you view this?  When someone cheats on you, how do you view this?  When someone steals from you, how do you view this?

 

Do we “Heart” a lie?  Do we “Heart” a cheater?  Do we “Heart” a thief?

 

Why would you?

 

Would you even associate a “Heart” with one of those wrong doings?

 

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus does.

 

Jesus associates the picture of the “Heart” with wrong doings.

 

The religious leaders of the day were concerned with actions.  They had the original law given to them by God.  They also had additional laws given to them by men that far outnumbered God’s laws.

 

They were looking at “Behavior.”  They were interested in “Behavior Modification.”

 

Jesus ripped that point of view to shreds when the religious leaders asked him why his disciples broke “The tradition of the elders.” (Matt 15:2)

 

Jesus turns the accusation around on the religious leaders, breaking down their dependence on law and tradition of men.  He concludes with the truth that “Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.  These are the things which defile the man.” (Matt 15:19,20a)

 

I am not here to give a complete breakdown of this.  It is an interesting study but I’m not that humble or well versed to lead you through it.

 

What I want you to see is that Jesus takes our view from one’s behaviors and turns it to the source of the behavior, one’s heart.

 

When you lie, that is a sin.  But that is not the end of it.  There is something deeper than the lie.  The heart is the source of the problem.

 

This hit me when I read it.  “The fact that I get angry, tell a lie, gossip, is because of something in my heart?”  This is something I learned long ago but forget every day.  This is why we need Jesus.  We can’t modify our behaviors because we cannot get to the root of the problem.  Only Jesus can transform our hearts, making us more like Him every day.

 

So, the next time you lie, cheat, gossip, or sin any other way, look at your heart.

 

 

Psalm 51:10

“Create in me a clean heart, oh God”

 

Peace,

Bill