Hope for the Anxious Heart

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Each new day brings with it some intense emotions. If you’re like me your days seem to eb and flow. At times I ask myself, “am I okay?” But I am reminded that many in scripture had these same ebs and flows. Think about David; the trials and betrayal yet God kept him safe and secure. In light of David’s experiences mine seem insignificant, yet I am reminded all throughout scripture that God cares for even the smallest of his creatures. This truth encourages me in the deepest depths of my anxiety. Anxiety is something you don’t feel until it happens-descriptive, I know. It is somewhat like the frog in the frying pan that doesn’t realize the temperature rising until it’s too late. Anxiety however isn’t something to brush under the rug of life, it is to be resolved with the comforting truths of scripture culminating in the finished work of Christ.

The incarnation of Jesus brought hope to anxious hearts in that God became a man in Christ Jesus. He dwelt among them and was tempted in every way. He did not seek any special treatment, rather he was fully God and fully man—as the Christmas hymn goes, “pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel”. The incarnation however was not only understood through the New Testament, it was prophesied from of old, and to those who did not see this day anxiously awaited the coming Immanuel. Most notably, the coming of the Messiah was prophesied by Isaiah saying, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14b). Though the incarnation was promised, the promised one would not dwell among them for some 700 years from this writing.    

Jesus addresses the disciples experience of anxiety. That is one of the biggest blessings for the believer. Jesus—being God— cares about the experiences of his people. This fact alone should provide your heart with tender comfort this holiday season, and throughout your life. Yet how did he express care to his disciples and how does he express care to us today? For this we will look to the Gospel of Matthew.

Jesus points them to the miniscule to emphasize his mercy in providing for his image bearers. (Matthew 6:25-26)   

When approaching the disciples’ anxiety over food and clothing, Jesus points them to the birds of the air. They live among the branches, find food in the insects of the fields, yet Jesus reminds them that even their provision comes from the sweet hand of the sovereign God (6:26). Believer, this season of anxiety is one that God promises to meet your every need, and in his sweet provision, he will sustain you. Remind yourself of the gospel; that Christ, in his sacrificial death and powerful resurrection and ascension has provided you with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). For more than the promises of the birds.

Anxiety robs you of your time and God’s glory. (Matthew 6:27)

Jesus continues to discuss their anxiety by again bringing up their clothing. But before he does he reminds them of the practical uselessness of anxiety. It cannot add moments to your life, rather, it takes away joy from the experiences that God intends to use for your joy and his glory. Paul in his letter to the Philippian church encourages them to not be anxious but that in all circumstances they, and in turn, we might turn to God in prayer and supplication make your petitions known to God (Philip. 4:6).

When I am most anxious it is because I try and take control. I come from a long line of control “freaks” yet this mindset is a stark contrast to God’s intention. Our provision does not, nor will it ever come from, the sweat of our own brow, or by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, rather it comes from the sweet hand of a sovereign God; by his Son’s bloody brow and nail pierced hands. That is the gospel.  

God is good and he knows our needs. (Matthew 6:28-32)

It seems like the disciples were awfully concerned with clothing. Yet, in light of Jesus’ command in Luke 2:3-5 of take only what is on your back, no extra tunic, no bread, no bag it makes sense that they might become anxious. Still, Jesus reminds them of the provision of the adornment of the lilies in comparison to the adornment of King Solomon (the most adorned and wealthy king of all history), saying the lilies are more arrayed in splendor.

Jesus is pointing to the goodness of God in his provision for his people. The lilies are of lesser value than of his image bearers, they just need to be reminded of this fact, much like we need reminding of God’s goodness to us throughout the years. Think through a time this year where God has been good to you. If it causes you to exclaim anything may it be “God is good!” James tells us of God’s goodness saying, that God gives good gifts, it’s in his character (Ja. 1:17).

Jesus caps of this section with a remarkable statement. “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all” (Matt. 6:32). The truth of the matter is that God is a BIG God. He is all present and all knowing. He is sovereignly in control over all things. It is this God that Jesus reminds the disciples of. This should comfort your soul believer; God knows your needs and provides them currently and will provide them in the future.

Look to God and his Kingdom (Matthew 6:33-34)

In the face of anxiety Christ points his disciples to the Kingdom of God. This no doubt emphasizes the inaugurated kingdom wrought by the incarnation but leaves them anticipating the future consummation of the kingdom where sin and shame, tears and terrors, cancer and concern will meet their end and Christ will rule and reign and all knees will bow to him. This, believer, should encourage you with great joy. As the angel of the Lord proclaimed to Mary, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Lk. 2:10). The news of Immanuel is great news for all people! So do not be anxious, Christ reminds them (Matt. 6:34) for the day will be anxious for itself.

Final Application:

 

  • Look to Christ the perfecter of our faith. (Heb. 12:2)
  • Cast your cares on him (Jesus) because he cares for you (1 Pt. 5:7)
  • Christ was tempted as we are, yet he was without sin. (Heb. 4:15)  

 

 

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Up and coming — For Cards Sake

Relieved to finally get this thing up and running, or should I say barely standing. Lets just get to it shall we? Whats going on in the next month: Classes start at UofL the 24th Welcoming week with tons of on campus events, The BCM will be hosting Nerd Prom Weekly Tuesday Night worship fires up […]

via Up and coming — For Cards Sake

Sufficient

The Baptist Campus Ministry (BCM) has never held as special of place in my life as it does now. As a  college student on the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma I rarely attended. The times many of their events were was when I was serving the youth ministry at my church. Needless to say it never worked out.

Some of my best friends in college were, however, involved in the BCM. They were guys that were hilarious, fun to be around, mature men who could have deep conversations (most of the time), and most importantly they lived out their Christian convictions in a clear way. It was captivating. And they were who I surrounded myself with. That was my involvement with the BCM.

Since coming to Louisville God has opened a door for my wife (Annie) and I to serve at the University of Louisville BCM. It has been a crazy ride. In fact, today I am MC’ing the karaoke night. (College ministry is awesome BTW)

Before moving here I felt a strong conviction by the Lord that more than just coming for Southern we would come for the city, and that He would “give” it to us. I didn’t know much about Louisville, or the University for that matter.  To give you a glimpse into the status of student ministry in Kentucky here are some statistics put out by the Kentucky Baptist Convention (KBC):

  • 5% Of students 12-24 years old in Kentucky profess to be an active Christian.

  • 60% Of church-going high school students will walk away from their faith in college.

Those two statistics alone should make you fall with your face before the Lord. 95% of students 12-24 yrs. are not professing Christians. Add on top of that the truth of scripture that reminds us that many who call on Christ are not saved.

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So what are we doing?

BCM

At the BCM I get to join and champion the vision cast by the director, John Adams. John has a passion so clear for the Lord and a vision that is compelling. He cares for the students and for his leadership. These things make it easy to get behind. We are doing unconventional things. By “unconventional” I do not mean progressive. We teach the Word of God as that. We teach on sin and eternity. We teach on living the life God has designed humans to yearn for, that is, life with Him. We teach the foolishness of the cross as the only way.

This semester we are teaching on the “I am” statements found in the Gospel of John. After that we will conclude with a short series called, “because He is we are.” The BCM is about getting students connected to local churches. It’s about getting students connected in discipling relationships. It’s about seeing students transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No tricks. No gimmicks. We preach Christ. We know that the hearing of God’s word will cause students to believe. It is sufficient. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Farmdale

In our local church Annie and I are seeking to disciple our students. To see them commit to loving the church, the Lord, and their neighbor. These things, we hope, will happen in our college small group session where we will seek to hold one another accountable, pray for one another, and read and apply God’s word as heard in our pastor’s preaching.  We are also striving to equip those in student and children’s ministry roles to be able to develop a strategy to reaching all of the 12-24 window.

What can you do?

  1. Visit http://www.uoflbcm.org/ and http://www.kybcm.org/
  2. Pray for us and the work at the BCM and at Farmdale.
  3. Reach out by email: sean@acts16.com. Let us know you’re praying for us, or thinking about the work we are doing.
  4. Get involved. Whether you’re in Kentucky and can serve at the BCM, or somewhere else, God has called us all as Christians to the work of ministry.

 

Trump, Evangelicals, and the GOP

I often stay away from political conversation, but enough is enough. With Donald Trump pandering to Evangelicals like a child predator selling ice-cream to children, many evangelicals seem to be taking the bait and have fallen hook line and sinker. This unfortunately seems to be the way of the GOP since I have been a voter (2008, Obama v. McCain), yet Romney and McCain seem very much like the lesser of two evils in light of Trump.

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Just this week Donald Trump spoke at the largest evangelical university in the world, Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. This university, not shy in its political leanings or lack of tact when it comes to gun rights seems to me to be the perfect crowd for the predator Trump. He preys on evangelicals using completely unbiblical interpretations of two Corinthians. Now, I won’t harp on how he pronounced it I have in fact heard many evangelical Christians call it that, but to relegate the freedom of the believer to a mere political chess piece is quite…well, right up his alley.

And unfortunately, in light of the current polls this tactic seems to be working. Just a mere two days ago the Trump bandwagon gained another push as the GOP’s favorite lipstick wielding maverick Sarah Palin endorsed the presidential hopeful. With such buzz, and the polls on his side what is there to be done? I don’t know honestly.

What I do know is that I will not be voting for Trump (in the event that he garners the nomination) and that today when I went to get my Kentucky voter registration filled out, the lady asked me to identify which party I most associate with, to which I said “I’m not sure at this current juncture.” Let me tell you what I mean.

Donald Trump and the Anti-Gospel of Make America Great Again.

Donald Trump’s campaign platform is 18-donald-trump-liberty-university.w529.h352
“Make America Great Again” 1 and
as ERLC President Russell Moore most appropriately wrote, the bible isn’t advocating for a “rebuilt” or “better” America it just isn’t. Therefore, what Donald Trump promises is simply not a promise that we should long for to be fulfilled. Now I know what you might be thinking, maybe the words “unpatriotic” are coming to mind.. Maybe you’re saying to yourself, Why doesn’t he want America to be the way it was? The answer is simple; no one should.

America doesn’t need to go back to some nostalgic glory days, it needs to go forward striving to be a people marked selflessness and not greed, humility not pride, generosity not greed. All three of the latter features are some that Trump most aptly embodies, a self made billionaire marked by a personal drive and dedication to make himself the best person he can be. Why wouldn’t we want someone like that in the office?

Self help won’t help anybody.

In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul talks about salvation as,

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Yet, In a July 2015 interview Trump, distancing himself from what ,for many centuries, evangelicals have held as a means of salvation; repentance. In the interview Trump was asked if he had ever asked God for forgiveness for any of his actions to which he responded, and I quote,

I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think soI think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.

This is anti-Gospel, this is self-salvation. Trump may claim aspects of the Christian faith but the doctrine of sin and repentance are eerily missing.

Wolf in Sheep’s clothing

I mentioned in the introduction that Trump is a predator similar to that of a predator of Children. He is a wolf in, seemingly, sheeps clothing. He seeks to associate with evangelicals and rallies for their support, to which many have given it, yet he is not like us. His message is not the Gospel of Christ’s atoning work on the cross (Heb 2:17-18; Rom 3:25; 1 Jn 2:2; 1 Jn 4:10), or that man is born with a sin nature that needs to be forgiven by faith and repentance (Isa 53:6; Rom 3:23; Rom 6:23). The gospel that Mr. Trump clings to is the one with little to no power, no substance, and preys on the weak minded and those unsure in their faith. If you are considering voting for Trump in the months to come I would encourage you first to open your bible and to see which side of the fence this man’s evidence puts him on.

Jesus talks about people like this in John 10 saying,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2  But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Christ is the gate. Trump is a thief. Do not listen to his voice. Follow your master. As for me, I will not be voting Trump in the upcoming elections and I would encourage you to do the same.

1: donaldjtrump.com

2. http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/18/politics/trump-has-never-sought-forgiveness/