The Herod Meme

I had the honor of preaching on at POMH last night. Part of the message focused on the controversy surrounding John the Baptist’s arrest. At the time, the goings-on of Herod’s family would have made front page news.

In short, Herod’s son Herod Antipas divorced his princess wife to marry his own niece Herodias who was previously married to her uncle Philip. Confusing? You bet it is. If this happened today, you’d be sure to see this meme floating around the internetz…

Herod Meme


Quit Denying Joy

John Piper is famous for saying, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Christian hedonism, it’s called. The more we delight and enjoy in God, the more God is glorified and we are joyful.
This seems easier said than done.
Most Christians hold to the unfortunate idea that we should not be purposefully seeking joy in our life. That, in some way, the Christian life is a hard one, and to deny that is to deny faith. That our treasures and joy are stored up in Heaven, but until then, have fun living a dull, meaningless, joyless, hard life.
This is total garbage.
Just because we seek after and desire joy, and an abundance of it, does not mean it’s wrong. It just depends where the source of that joy comes from. If
our joy comes from God, and lining up with the rhythm of life God is trying to get us into, then let the joy come.
There’s nothing more joyful than knowing your right standing with God through Christ, and that you are living a life intentionally laid out for you.
Joy from God transcends life – crappy jobs, small bank accounts, broken relationships. But most of us don’t get that.
Instead, we secretly think that the purpose of a Christian’s life is to please a sadistically, tyrannical God through persevering in life’s obstacles, hardships, and whatever else the big bully in the sky will throw at you. To see who can outlast who in a hard life by pleasing an attention-starved God.
Church becomes a chore. Christian fellowship becomes awkward. Prayer because insincere. All because we feel our purpose is to give God what he wants – attention.
But here’s the problem with that: God is not attention-starved and hasn’t been for all eternity, neither will he ever be.
He has all the community and relationship he needs within himself as a triune being – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Relationship with God is not something that can break just because you screw up here and there. He doesn’t need a relationship with you – but he desires nothing less.
Why? Because when we have a relationship with God, we incline our life towards him. And when we incline our life towards him, we glorify him.
So, why do we assume that God is a being who needs to be pleased? He doesn’t. He needs to be glorified.
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” If we want to please God, and we want to glorify God, then we need to start by satisfying ourselves in him. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Ps 37.4).”
There isn’t a single verse in all of scripture, not a single one, which condemns us from wanting to have joy in our lives. Morose is not the way we were designed to live.
Start delighting in him. In prayer, wrestle and argue with him over issues. Dive into his word to hear back. Earnestly pray to discover his will in your life even in the little things. Lean on him for everything.
The more we delight in him, the more he is glorified. The more we understand his will for our lives, the more joy we have.
Stop denying joy in life by trying to serve a caricature of God. Stop looking for it in the wrong places.
Delight in God.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Rom 15.13).

Justifier God

I drive past a church on my way to work every day whose church sign reads, “It is God who justifies.” Now, I normally don’t pay attention to church signs because seriously, I get embarrassed for churches when their sign says, “Read Your Bible, It’ll Scare the Hell Out of You!” or “Free Coffee; Eternal Life. Membership Has Its Perks”

But this one was short, simple, and to the point; and a really good one at that.

“It is God who justifies” is half of a verse from Romans 8:33 where Paul previously asks the rhetorical question, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” This verse should seriously comfort Christians since it absolutely demolishes any sense of works or self-attained righteousness in order to be justified before God. People who say that Christianity is just like any other religion seriously neglect the fact that Christianity is the only worldview which understands God doing all the justifying work for man and not the other way around.

Romans 8.33 tells us that God, through Jesus Christ, has already done everything necessary for justification in God’s eyes; we can neither add nor subtract from that work. There is absolutely nothing you can do to make God love you any more or any less than He already does and will for all eternity.

God is often referred to as our Father and ‘Abba’ which literally translates as ‘daddy’. How sick would to be for a Father to tell their children that his love for them depends on how well they behave or how well they do in school? Likewise, how much sicker would it be for the God of the universe to refer to Himself as the daddy yet tell us we must achieve a certain level of morality before He’ll love us?

When it comes to being justified in God’s sight, “Christ reconciled us to himself”1 and “he who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ”2. We don’t have to add anything to that at all in order to make God love us! This should lead us to a posture of humility, a spirit of thankfulness, and the love-driven work of living out the Gospel in our lives through what is called sanctification. But all those things come separate from the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, given to you as a free gift.

In fact, that’s why Jesus yelled it; “It is finished!” If we try add something to our justification, like abstaining from hanging out with non-Christian friends or labeling the pub as sinful and thinking that will make God love us more, then we are actually telling Christ that His sacrifice on the Cross was not sufficient or good enough for us. And that is way arrogant.

Rest easy in your justification, because it is God who justifies. And now that you’re justified, try to live like Christ and spread the word.


1 2Co 5.18

2 Phi 1.6