martin Lloyd-jones, “truth unchanged, unchanging”
an excellent read that proves that not only is the Gospel always relevant, but that there is o attack the enemy has constructed that the saints are not equipped, through His Word, to destroy
overheard a staff member talking about the situation with his daughter. he was speaking of her, and her life, and her money, essentially. his story unfolded, sharing how ironic it was that his daughter had been saving the many for years to buy a house, only now she is marrying a man who already owns one, so no need. now what to do with all this money? but we were supposed to be buying a house. we were supposed to be those people, with those kind of lives. our kids would be surrounded by all of these wonderful, stimulating activities and toys, attending great private schools and sitting in safe, comfortable cars. you know why i didn’t want to talk about the apartment yesterday? because we were supposed to be buying complexes our kids could live in if need be, not renting one ourselves. we were supposed to be on top, not glenn, not people with no college and no foresight. you get angry with God, and wonder what He’s doing or what’s going on; you say you’re growing bitter and hate the situation. you ever wonder how i feel? sure, i made some mistakes. name one person who hasn’t? i look at doctors who are far worse people, neglecting the emotions of their patients, cutting corners in their practices, no heart or compassion, and who took 6 years for undergrad, 5 years for med school, also couldn’t pass their steps, yet i am the one that can’t be let in. there is a poem ravi likes to recite that i wrote in the back of my red book. it talks about how God treats people He calls; how He molds and breaks and reshapes them into what He wills them to be; i messed up, to be sure, but maybe my only real mistake was ever asking God to be used by Him. yeah, i know that when this life is done i won’t regret that choice. i know that what we are going through now is indeed conforming us to His image, making us into better disciples, and preparing us for a great work in paradise. but in the meantime, in the meantime… how to describe this feeling? it’s not anger; how could i be angry with God when i know Him, and know that He loves me. the kids don’t get angry with me for spanking them, because they know me, and my love for them. like last night, how nariah didn’t say no, or stop, or why; she said “please not too hard.” she knows this is her father she’s dealing with, not some monster. it’s not regret i feel either, because while i wish i had not made those mistakes, as i said, i know it is not them that keeps me from moving forward, but my all powerful, all loving Father. and besides, i can’t regret a path of so much fun, and memories, and adventures, especially when i can see Him with me all the time, keeping and guiding me, even through my rebellious moments. it isn’t fear, because again, this is God we are talking about. my son isn’t afraid to ride in the car with me, despite his complete lack of control or power, or even view of what lies ahead; he knows his father is in charge and will get him to his destination safely. last night i watched another episode of fullmetal alchemist. i love anime for its honesty and purity; even though most of it is made form a “pagan” perspective, it is amazing just how much doctrine seeps in. in it, there are 7 artificially made people, each named after one of the 7 deadly sins. the character greed is lecturing the protagonist on what greed truly means. he says that everyone mistakenly thinks of greed as a desire for money or power, but “everyone wants something they don’t have.” that’s my problem. i look at my life, and then look around me, and greed begins to well up in my heart. i want the house; i want the scooter, i want the residency position, the suits and ties, the vacations, the comfort. so, my name is kamarr, and i have a greed problem. when i look at the lives of those around me, i seethe with desire; but God is working on me, and for that, i am eternally grateful.
we have a new pastor at our church; after more than a year with a truly amazing and loving interim pastor to tide us over from the unexpected death of our shepherd, our church sat waiting to see if God had sent us a messenger, or if we just got hit by one of the far too numerous number seeking to use His Word for personal gain. to assuage our fears, but more importantly even, to start off the year united in Christ, our new pastor decided we would forego our usual two Sunday services for one, united gathering. it was awesome, and my wife and i hope it becomes a normal occurrence. in the grand tradition of church-going Americans, my wife and i tend to spend the car ride home discussing the day of worship, and today, my wife had one particular thing she had been dying to talk about. see, the sermon was centered on Romans 12:9-10
“9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (ESV)
now, the body of the sermon was about our need as a congregation to be and exhibit love if we plan on being of any value, being “irresistible” in the world; but at one point, he said one thing, and let’s just say my wife didn’t like it so much. his statement? if someone says they love you, but they are causing you harm, then they don’t really love you. so there we were, a few hours or so later, and my wife had some words.
“sometimes people who love you do hurt you; in fact, often times it’s the ones who love you the most and are closet to you that cause you the most pain; that’s true with us.” gotta love wives; they definitely help you find out if you know the Word as well as you pretend to. so we talked about the exercising of love, and how it isn’t always present in the interactions between two people who love each other; in the end, i was able to help her understand the point our new pastor didn’t really have time to fully belabor from the pulpit. one thing came out in our exchange that deserves a little meditation. as parents, we have seen that sometimes, in exercising your love, though you are not harming them, you may indeed cause pain; this pain, rather than harm, does one good, leading them in the direction they may most want to go. like a bit in the mouth of a horse, or the rudder on a ship. i am reminded of an awesome song by Beautiful Eulogy that speaks on the function of love in the lives of Christians as the kite string that enables us to soar to the heights of our purpose in being. i am also mindful of how this explains why the world just doesn’t understand how i can read Scripture whereby God demands the lives of entire civilizations, women, children, and even animals, and still call Him love. but, see, my feeble mind can already begin to understand how a loving, caring person is willing to be called the villain, spit on and cursed at for causing some pain, all to avoid the real harm to the loved one. my little pea brain can begin to fathom that sometimes the view from one place blocks the sight of the aggressor who is already charging towards me, so when i am shoved into a thorny bush, that is actually saving me, preserving me, keeping me from harm. my poor excuse for intelligence has begun to realize that love, real love, sometimes hurts, so that it can keep the object of love from injury. the world would have us believe that we are crazy for saying God is love, pointing to the Word as evidence of Him as a genocidal, bigoted monster; but when i look at the Scripture, i see my loving Father, who stops at nothing, not even withholding His only Son, to keep those He loves from the most worrisome of all harms: the flames of hell.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13 (ESV)
love is putting the recipient above all else; being willing to even “be the bad guy” if that’s what it takes to exercise love for them. thank You, Father, for loving me enough to see through Your plan for my life. thank You, my Savior, for loving me enough to take on human form, suffer, and die in my place for my sins. thank You, Holy Spirit, for loving me enough to dwell in me, work through, by and for me, and continually purify me in preparation for a reward that i not only don’t deserve, but never could’ve earned. thank You, LORD, for being love.
Os Guinness, The Call
please, if you can afford to buy it, and are longing for a sense of purpose or direction, buy and read this. it has been an instrument of God as I try and make sense of things this past year.
i was recently shadowing an infectious disease doctor on his rounds in Hoag hospital in Newport. he was consulting on an HIV positive patient in the ER with pulmonary abscesses and possible candida, despite high CD4 counts. the case was relatively straight forward, and nowhere near as complicated as originally presumed, but in the interview process it was revealed that though the man had been HIV positive since 2004, he did not start antiretroviral therapy until year and a half ago. the doctor i was with explained how though it usually happens within the first 6 months of therapy, this could actually be a result of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. the premise is that while the immune system is deactivated when the HIV positive person is not being treated, various bugs move in and make a home. when the immune system rears back up, it stumbles upon infection after infection. he likened it to being in a room with the lights off for a long time and suddenly having them turn on. i had heard of this before, but never explained so well. i kept this in my heart and mind, and went on to see other patients.
we have set it in our hearts to seek God with all we have. as the men in our houses, it is important to us that we be accountable to God, loving of our wives, honorable before our children. but it seems like the more effort I put in, the more resistance the world, our wives, even our own minds present to us. we are left confused, crying out to God like Job, begging for some answer to make sense of this situation. after all, doesn’t He want us to seek Him? didn’t He promise to wage war with us and bring us victory? it is undoubtedly true that the devil and his demons will leave you alone if you are no threat; so it is logical for them to also begin to attack when we make efforts to change. but we have been given the blessing of the Holy Spirit which keeps us from all snares and slings, protecting us for all of eternity. the Bible is clear that these tricks of theirs don’t work on the saints (Isaiah 54:17). so why all this struggle!?
i present to you today my theory of the existence of spiritual reconstitution overwhelming syndrome. it goes like this: upon receiving salvation, we were washed with the Blood of the Lamb, cleansed of all unrighteousness, pure through and through. if we walked in this purity, all would be well. but if you are anything like me, soon after receiving your salvation, you began to breathe some more, and went right on sinning. you repent, you recommit your life, go up at revivals or start Bible studies, only to time after time return back to darkness, back to sin, back to those comfortable things that make life so fun, so easy, so enjoyable. then something happens. yes, you were saved; yes, you were “converted”; but now you find yourself deciding to actually be a disciple of Christ, walking in His Word and putting it as the sole priority in your life. like the HIV patient who’s immune system is slowly waking, so is your spirit, slowly stirring within you. but as it stirs it finds little pockets of sin everywhere. here you lie, there you steal paper from work, over here your neglecting your wife, this place is full of being disrespectful to your parents, cussing on the job site, speaking ill of your spouse, ignoring your children, neglecting the study of His Word… it’s too much! but like the patient i mentioned before, we have hope. though our spirit is too weak to actually deal with all of these problems, we have a Healer who will give us the medicine we need, a hospital in our gathering of the saints to seek nourishment and healing balms, friends we can lean on to help us as we recover, and the Spirit of God working in us, renewing us moment by moment.
i encourage you brothers, do not lose heart. I too am in the midst of spiritual reconstitution overwhelming syndrome. most days I have no idea how i will be able to do all i have set out to do in the name of Christ; but i know He is with me, and that with Him, i can do anything, even this.
ok, so there are a lot of Christians out there who think that drinking beer (or any alcohol, for that matter) is a sin; i emphatically disagree. but this little write-up is not about drinking, it merely uses it as a metaphor. recently there has been a resurgence of beer culture here in America, specifically in the arena of the growing trend of locally brewed craft beers. the idea behind this movement is a focus on flavor, that undoubtedly will sacrifice economy and quantity, but in a way the consumer will deem worthwhile. playing on variations in tastes, the handcrafted community seeks increasingly obscure brands, as though drinking a beer that was bottled on the rarest of brews equates to a more fulfilling, enjoyable drinking experience. now, i have a discerning palate; as such, i enjoy things such as dark chocolate, fine wines, textural interplays and, of course, the rare vintage microbrew. going so far as to brew my own strains of mead at home, each batch in the über-rare category of 1 liter per brew; but in a pinch, my favourite brew would probably be regular old Coors banquet beer (“it’s a feast in a can” i always say). i’m no snob. “the point, kamarr, the point!” ok, ok; having brewed a batch or two myself, i know how important the brew master is to the process. selecting ingredients, mixing, preparing, storing, activating yeast, measuring out the principles, choosing when to tap, when to pour, how many filtering stages, how long to let rest, aged alone or with aromatics… so praise be to God that i have the privilege of living a handcrafted life! in the hands of the Almighty Creator, i sit as raw recipe, such potential to be something great, but only if the brew master takes care, acts with wisdom, and executes His plan. a theologian might seek to draw out each of these points, pointing to how the yeast is the perseverance of the saints, the initial cooking process before fermenting is the trials which led you to Him, and fermentation itself those preparation stages getting you ready for glorious work in His name… all i know is this: next time i enjoy a beer, handcrafted or otherwise, i won’t be able to stop myself from forming a slight smirk as i contemplate how one day there will be a feast in Heaven, when finally i will be able to appreciate the handcrafted brew the Father is making from my fermenting life. selah!
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:31-39
we hear about this passage of scripture, especially the first verse, quite often; confirmation of security, safety in this world. but as i thought about it tonight, i found myself responding to this well worn passage. if God is for me, who could be against me? to persons come to mind. the first is an obvious one: Satan, duh. i won’t belabor the post with tons of scripture references, but the Bible is clear on a few points hen it come to Satan. for one thing, he is the enemy, he hates God, and he hates God’s people. he started out the most amazingly beautiful angel that ever was, but decided to wage war with heaven and usurp the Father’s throne. of course he was defeated, and in defeat was cast to earth with a third of the angels, those who foolishly followed him in his rebellion. Satan and demons are quite literally fallen angels, but that is not why they are against. see, they aren’t stupid; they know they lost, and that it’s just a matter of time before they go to Hell for all of eternity. so in the meantime they seek to take as many of us down with them, and any of us who manage to accept salvation, they try and trip up and hinder, decreasing our witness on earth and robbing us our joy in Christ. Hell was not made for us, but we go there by the hundreds of thousands because the Devil works ceaselessly to rob God of whatever he can, especially human souls. let’s not go too deep in this now, though, because he was the obvious one who comes against us.
my second thought, though, was also painfully close to home. if God be for me, who could possibly be against me? me. if you are to be my family, you should know i am a lifelong sufferer of depression. i inherited from my mom really. her uncle jumped off a bridge when he couldn’t take it anymore. my grandfather struggles constantly. i remember one summer when i was staying with them my mom made me call her every day to confirm i was ok. she said her dad was a little weird and i needed to keep an eye on him, but at the time i had no clue what she was really saying. i get it now. i look forward to having time in the future to talk with you all about what this has meant in my life, and man, my wife could really give you some stories of just how hard i make it for her and the kids, but as i washed the dishes, pondered me as my own enemy despite my standing before God, i was overcome with wave upon wave of revelation from the Spirit. how arrogant am i to think that though God sees me as innocent before His throne, covered by the blood of the Lamb, that i am still deserving of condemnation, of punishment, of ridicule and damnation? but see, that’s just what happens when we get down on ourselves; sure i do it more than many others, but that’s just because it happens to be my sin nature, but sin is what it is. if God is for me, how dare i think that i know better than Him in being against me. can i really say i know me better than He knows me? can i really say that i am a better judge of right and wrong than the very source of all that is right in existence?
and that’s precisely the joy we have in Christ, and precisely the peace i find in Him. the Christian struggling with alcoholism isn’t saved because he’s sober, and lost when he “falls off the wagon;” no, he is saved by Grace through faith, whether he is drunk lying in the gutter or sober as a judge preaching in the pulpit. our salvation is not based on us, but secure in Him. so even when the Devil seeks to destroy us, and my own ego desires to stand as judge, jury, and executioner in my own life, God stands above all of that, looking on me with love, as His son, blessing me, keeping me, guiding me, loving me. that is why i have found comfort in the closing verses since stumbling upon it in a praise song not too long ago. in the song they paraphrase it and sing “neither height, nor depth, nor life, nor death, nor angels, nor man can separate you from His plan.” nothing, no nothing will ever be able to overcome His love for you, not even you. and to that, i can only say one thing: selah!