Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Though You Slay Me" by Shane and Shane

Over the years, I have posted quite a few videos of songs by Shane and Shane. They are probably one of my favorite bands, as their words speak pointed truth. That is certainly true of this song, "Though You Slay Me." It is a song that resonates with words of trust that during the dark storm of life that God allows our way, He is still there wanting us to cling hold of Him.

Though you slay me, yet I will praise You;
Though you take from me, I will bless Your name;
Though you ruin me, still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who's all I need.

In this video of the song, you will hear pastor John Piper gives some words of encouragement for your trial. He says that whatever you are going through is not meaningless suffering. God is working. I really appreciate his words, "don't look to what is seen..." Certainly it is so easy to look to that which is seen for the answers, but what we need to do during that rough season is to look beyond the seen. Look to the unseen for our answers and hold onto Him during that time.

Listen to this song, it is powerful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Prophetic Words from Paul Harvey

I am too young to really appreciate the genius of Paul Harvey. I do remember riding in my dad's truck as a kid listing to this guy on the radio telling really neat stories. I remember thinking that his voice was really low. But that's it. If you are my age, you might have the same recollection of him as I do. If you are older than me, you might have fond memories of him. If you are younger, you probably have no idea who he is. 

But the other day, someone sent me a link to a broadcast that Glenn Beck did about the prophetic words of Paul Harvey. In 1965, Harvey articulated what he would do if he were the devil, trying to ruin America. Astonishingly, his words are very accurate to what had happened. 
"If I were the devil, I wouldn't be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree--Thee. So I'd set about however necessary to take over the United States. I'd subvert the churches first--I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: 'Do as you please.' To the young, I would whisper, 'The Bible is a myth.' I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is 'square'. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to pray after me, 'Our Father, which are in Washington...' 
And then I'd get organized. I'd educate authors on how to lurid literature exciting, so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting. I'd threaten TV with dirtier movies and vice versa. I'd pedal narcotics to whom I could. I'd sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. I'd tranquilize the rest with pills. 
If I were the devil I'd soon have families that war with themselves, churches that war with themselves, and nations that war with themselves; until each in its turn was consumed. And with promises of higher ratings I'd have mesmerizing media fanning the flame. If I were the devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, and neglect to discipline emotions--just let those run wild, until before you knew it, you'd have to have drug sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door. 
Within a decade, I'd have prisons overflowing, I'd have judges promoting pornography--soon I could evict God from the courthouse, and then the schoolhouse, and then from the houses of Congress. And in His own churches, I would substitute psychology for religion, and deify science. I would lure priests and pastors into misusing boys and girls, and church money. If I were the devil, I'd make the symbols of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle. 
If I were the devil, I'd take from those, and who have, and give to those wanted until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. What do you bet I could get whole states to promote gambling as the way to get rich? I would question against extremes and hard work, and Patriotism, and moral conduct. I would convince the young that marriage is old-fashioned, that swinging more fun, that what you see on the TV is the way to be. And thus I could undress you in public, and I could lure you into bed with diseases for which there is no cure. In other words, if I were the devil, I'd keep on doing what he's doing. Paul Harvey, good day."
Check out Glenn Beck's page as he has the audio of Harvey saying these things. Shocking.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

If the Gospel is True . . .

When it comes to sharing the gospel, I have often said and heard preachers say something like this: "What kind of person would I be if I believe this to be true and never tell you about it?" Think about it. If you believe that everyone who does not believe in Jesus' death and resurrection for their sins dies and spends eternity in hell, what kind of person would you be to not share it? Talk about unloving. 

As I was thinking about the gospel today, I came across this short video by Francis Chan and David Platt where they talk about this concept. "If I believe this gospel" then what should that mean in my relationships with others? Their thoughts are honest and raw. And I can resonate with all of them. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Wife's Spirit

Over the past several months, I have been reading No Ordinary Marriage by Tim Savage with my wife. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite books on marriage I have ever read. I hope to post a fuller review within the next week, but until then, I wanted to share a couple thoughts on the Husband's Love and the Wife's Spirit. On Tuesday, I shared a few thoughts about the husband. Today, I want to share a short quote about the wife. I am hopeful that these thoughts will whet your appetite to read this book.

A Wife's Spirit
"A submissive wife looks out for her husband's interests. She focuses a discerning eye on him. She examines his moods, analyzes his fears, observes his joys, and diagnoses his anxieties. This is a radical departure from the norm. Usually, we are preoccupied with our own interests. The preponderance of waking hours are typically spent in self-reflection--analyzing our own moods, nurturing our own desires, and pursuing our own agendas. But a wife who subordinates herself to her husband will take her eyes off herself and focus them sharply on her husband. She becomes more interested in him than she is in herself. 
In practice this means two things. First of all, wives who embrace the call to subordination will resist the inclination to dominate their husbands. In Genesis 3, we saw that a woman's besetting temptation is to compensate for their ineptitude of her husband by seeking mastery over him. Even good husbands can, by inaction or laziness or insecurity or just poor judgment, drive their wives to frustration, prompting them to take over from their husbands, rather than lining up under them. The feminine arsenal is filled with a battery of weapons capable of mounting a formidable challenge for the 'top position': biting critiques, aggressive action, manipulative moods, sexual blackmail, stubborn silence, nagging criticism. But a godly wife will forsake them all. Rather than push her own agenda, she will seek to honor her husband. 
This suggest a second application. A submissive wife will take pains to insure that the eye she focuses on her husband is a sympathetic eye. When perplexed by his behavior, she will, instead of engage in condemnation or self-pity, stop and ask herself searching questions. Why is he slow to respond to my requests? Why does he come home and turn on the television or surf the Internet instead of talking to me? Why does he keep his feeling to himself? Why does he get angry and snap so quickly? Why does he seldom express gratitude for my labors on his behalf? . . . Too often we permit questions like these to pass without sympathetic examination. It is always easier to allow frustrations to fester and to explode in verbal criticism than to do the difficult work of drawing a bead on the mind of the husband. Focusing a sympathetic eye on the husband is the way of subordination. It is also the way of healing, both for a weary wife and for her husband" (63-64).
Could it be that we have simply, unhelpfully, reduced submission to "who makes the decisions" instead of what it means to pursue as one who is pursued? Wife, are you examining his moods, analyzing his fears, observing his joys, and diagnosing his anxieties? Is your husband the aim of your studies as much as your children? More than your children? I think at the root of most men, they desire to be fully known by their wife, but they are scared at that same thought. With sympathy, how can you open yourself up to him to know him for healing of your marriage?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Worship Focus: At Your Name by Phil Wickham & Tim Hughes

I love music. There is hardly a time in my office where I do not have music playing. I even fall asleep at night with music playing. For some reason, God often uses music to stir my affections for Him. Over the years on this blog, I have posted some of my favorite worship songs. A few weeks ago, I decided to take a next step and explain why these particular songs stir me to worship. So far, I have shared my thoughts about two songs:
Today, I want to share a song that I have posted before, but this time I want to explain why I love this song so much. Here are the words to At Your Name by Phil Wickham and Tim Hughes.

At Your name, the mountains shake and crumble;
At Your name, the oceans roar and tumble;
At Your name, Angles will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out

Lord of all the earth, we shout Your name, shout Your name;
Filling up the skies with endless praise, endless praise;
Yahweh, Yahweh, we love to shout Your name, Oh Lord.

At Your name, the morning breaks in glory;
At Your name, creation sings Your story;
At Your name, angels will bow
The earth will rejoice, Your people cry out.

This is one of those songs that is directional in nature. What I mean is that it is a song that is sung to God, not just about Him. It is second person, directed at God. When I sing it, I am reminded of the relationship I am in with Him. There is such a special privilege to sing and shout the name of my God, the name that shakes mountains and moves oceans. And ultimately, I know that it is at the name of Jesus that all people will bow their knee (Phil 2). 

The tune is easy to sing, but the words impact me deeply. I love to shout the name of my Lord!

Since I have posted Phil Wickham's video before, I wanted to post a video of Tim Hughes talking about this song and then singing it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Husband's Love

Over the past several months, I have been reading a new book on marriage with my wife. No Ordinary Marriage by Tim Savage is quickly becoming a favorite book on this subject. Hopefully, by the beginning of next week, I will post a full review of this helpful book on this subject. But until then, I couldn't help but to share a couple thoughts on the Husbands Love and a Wife's Spirit. These are two points of the book that have practically impacted my wife and I. Today, I am going to share the thought for the husband and then on Thursday, the thought for the wife. I only hope this will whet your appetite to potentially read this book. 

A Husband's Love
"A husband who models the love of Christ will notice his wife. Love pays attention . . . The love of husbands ought to be characterized by a razor-sharp focus on their wives. This may be easier in the early days of marriage when romantic embers burn brightly and love-struck husbands hardly notice anything other than their wives. But as time wears on and the initial sparks begin to wane, other things--the demands of work, the passion for sports--can steal away a husband's attention. The result is marital stagnation in which superficial and brief conversations and perfunctory kisses take the place of deeper interaction. 
Many husbands fail to detect the deterioration, or they look primarily to their wives to stoke the marital flame. Sticking closely to their appointed routines, husbands busy themselves with their own projects. Wives, wishing to please their husbands, keep growing frustrations under wraps and then, unwittingly, begin to slide into a state of emotional indifference or despair. When the sterility of the relationship finally becomes unendurable, wives will erupt into--what seems to their husbands--a volcano of irrational negativity. At that point, the marriage is seriously imperiled. 
But the point need never arrive. A vigilant husband consciously nurtures his first love. He views his wife as his most cherished earthly possession. He pays attention to her. And when he does, he makes a startling discovery. She becomes the great delight of his heart. Her personality, her gifts, and her interests--now carefully noted by the eyes of her partner--become to him a source of endless fascination.  The words of Solomon stand like a capstone over his heart: he enjoys life with his wife whom he loves (Eccles. 9:9). Because she knows herself to be his greatest treasure, she is filled with joy and the sparks of the marriage rarely diminish" (81-82).
I wonder how many women feel like she is the greatest treasure of her husband. I wonder how many are filled with joy and enthusiasm because she feels the object of his affection. I wonder how many husbands hardly ever take notice of their wife . . . study their wife . . . learn their wife.

This was a helpful reminder for me that I have not finished pursuing my wife. Men, how about you? Do you think it would change your marriage if you set out to know her as well as your hobby? How do you think she would respond if she knew you were more interested in her than Monday Night Football? Think about that and seek to apply that to your marriage today. 

On Thursday, I'm going to share one thought of Savage's towards the wife.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Morning After: Jesus and the Unrepentant (Matthew 11:20-24)

When you read the gospels, it is obvious that crowds of people followed Jesus. For most of His ministry, He was extremely popular. But Jesus wasn't interested in being the most popular man in the world. He wanted people to follow Him, which meant, they had to repent of their sins and righteousness. As He performed miracle after miracle before them, the plan was that these miracles would show them how much He cared for them, but also that God was present before them. The miracles were meant to authenticate the message He was preaching. He wanted them to repent of their sins and follow Him.

After about a year of performing hundreds, probably even thousands, of miracles (we do not have them all recorded in the NT), Jesus responds to the indifference of the crowds. Because of their lack of repentance, Jesus pronounces woes of condemnation upon three particular cities in Northern Israel. Even with the incredible amounts of revelation they experienced, they did not change their mind about who Jesus was and they were not willing to give up their sin and righteousness to follow Him. 

Jesus takes these three cities and compares them to three pagan cities. Jesus tells Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum that if the miracles they had witnessed had been performed in Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom, those cities would have repented. Sodom would still be in existence at that day (see Gen. 19). Why? Because they would not have viewed Jesus as a side show to gawk over, but they would have repented of their sins and followed Him. And then Jesus drops the bomb on them when He says that it would be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the Day of Judgment than for Chorazin and Bethsaida. He says that it would be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom than for Capernaum. This teaches us several important lessons concerning those who are unrepentant towards Jesus.

First, there will be a judgment. We never witness Jesus saying "if there is a judgment", but He is definitively saying that there will be one. It is appointed for men to die and then comes a judgment (Heb. 9:27).

Second, Jesus is a capable judge. He is capable because He has the knowledge to execute judgment. He knows all things actually that happen. But He also knows all things possible to happen. He knows that if those miracles would have been performed, those pagan cities would have repented (this is not Jesus using hyperbole to make a point). This is called "Contingent Knowledge."

Third, there are degrees of judgment. We are never told that those pagan cities would not be judged, just that their judgment would be more tolerable than those that had such an extensive display of revelation before them. Every indication is that Jesus means those that have more revelation will be held to a higher standard of response to Jesus. The implications for a "Christian" nation like America is devastating. We are in trouble, not because Jesus was not present in our country, but because He has been and we didn't repent.

Fourth, we only avoid judgment through repentance. There is a way to avoid the judgment that Jesus is talking about and that is to change our mind concerning Jesus and follow Him. We believe in Him (faith) and turn from our sin (repentance) and the work of Jesus is applied to our account. 

Fifth, more revelation does not guarantee your repentance. I hear people say this all the time: "If only I could see some sort of miracle to prove to me that it is real, then I would repent and follow Jesus." This account of Jesus' words should scare that thought out of us. The more visual demonstrations of power didn't convince them to repent of their view of Jesus and it probably wouldn't you either.

If you want to listen to the sermon or read my notes, you can find it HERE (audio usually posted by Tuesday night). 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Word for Preachers (I hear Amen's from the Pew)

This week I am preaching on Jesus' statements of judgment towards the cities that had not repented of their ways, even though they had seen many miracles in their midst. In the process of studying this text from Matthew 11:20-24, I came across a very helpful word from Frederick Dale Bruner in his commentary, The Christbook. Preachers need to hear and learn from this. I need to hear and learn from this. 
"This needs to be stressed because the message of Judge Jesus is not ordinarily for the contrite, the brokenhearted, or the repentant. What they need--and what they fully get in the next story--is the grace of Jesus. The last thing the brokenhearted need from Jesus is scolding--their own consciences do that. The occupational hazard of pulpits is scolding. Pastors, little Amoses, can be driven into berating their congregations Sunday after Sunday, thinking thereby to be faithful preachers of the gospel or, at least, of the gospel's message of judgment. But the unrelieved message of judgment--scolding--only depresses sensitive Christians; by itself, judgment is no help at all. Therefore it needs to be stressed that Jesus is Judge Jesus only for those who in his presence are not making any decision to repent, to be changing their whole way of living. 
The familiar saying that preaching is 'to afflict the comfortable, and to comfort the afflicted' is exactly the meaning--and in that order--of the Judge Jesus and Savior Jesus stories that conclude Matt 11. In these two stories Jesus is preached as judge only to the unrepentant, as savior only to the heavy-laden. The art of the Christian pastor and teacher is to distinguish who's who, or (better) to preach Scripture's whole counsel so fully that the Spirit will make the distinctions and applications. To scold the repentant and to comfort the unrepentant is perverse. The good pastor will so faithfully minister the whole counsel of God, law and gospel, that the unrepentant will be convicted and the repentant comforted." (522)
Law to the proud. Grace to the humble. I wonder if the problem is that we are not involved in the lives of our people enough to know which is which.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Reading the Book of James (week 1)

Last week, I shared that my Bible Reading Goal for the month of September was to read the book of James everyday and then to journal online what I'm learning. I am now six days into my journey to be transformed by this book of the Bible. And so today, I want to share how this book is starting to affect my heart and mind.

Before I get there, let me back up and explain what I am doing as I read this book. I am trying to take about 15 minutes every morning and slowly read through all five chapters of the book of James. Sometimes, I use the YouVersion Bible App on my iPhone. One time I even listened to it through that App. And other times, I opened the Bible I use everyday. Along with this, I am also trying to take several days a week and Journible my way through this book. If you have never heard of this, it is a book series where they encourage you to write your own copy of the text of Scripture [check out the video posted at the end of this blog]. That's what I have been doing this week.

But what am I learning? More than anything else, the repetition is opening up things I have never seen before in the book of James. For instance, one day this week, I was particularly struck by how much James speaks of money. This was obviously a very big issue for the people to deal with (and for us as well). I sense that this is something that I need to learn more about as I make my way through this book the next several weeks.

But then I was impressed that the main problems are found in my heart. James writes, "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?" (4:1). This is very helpful to realize that my conflicts result from inside of me. There is a battle going on inside of my heart. It helps as a parent to realize that it is not just that I have two kids that might be fighting, but something in going on inside of their heart. I know that, it is not new to me, but I think I have become more sensitive this week to these things. I hope my vision for identifying the root causes of my sin will only get sharper.

What are you learning? What have you been studying in the Word of God this week? I would love to hear from some of you that read this as to what God is impressing on your heart as you engage Him through His Word.

And if your interested in finding out more about the Journible, check out this video:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

St. Patrick's Bad Analogies

I couldn't help it, I just had to post this short video on the Trinity that I saw on Kevin DeYoung's blog this past week. It is really funny as they depict the heresies that come about when people try to make analogies for the Trinity. Enjoy, but I doubt you will laugh as much as I did.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Worship Focus: Lord, I Need You by Chris Tomlin

I love music. I always have it on, just about all times of the day. It is one of those things that God often uses to stir my affections for Him. Over the years I have been blogging, I have often posted some of my favorite songs. But last week, I decided to take it a step further and tell you why a particular song helps me.

Last week, I started with a song by the David Crowder Band. Today, I want to share a song by Chris Tomlin (Matt Maher also performs this song, but I prefer Tomlin's rendition) that is somewhat new to me, even thought it has been around for some time. Lord, I Need You is a song that resonates with my desperate condition. It reminds me that I cannot do this on my own. Here are the lyrics:

Lord I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the one that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Yes where You are Lord I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptations comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus You're my hope and stay
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus You're my hope and stay

I particularly appreciate the second verse where the song says, "where sin runs deep, Your grace is more." I sense my desperate need for Christ whenever I face sin, which is pretty much all the time. It is in that moment that I realize my only defense against sin is not my clever mind. It is not any ability to grin and bear it. My only defense is Christ. And He is my only righteousness. He is my holiness. And so when I face temptation, I know that my only hope of overcoming that moment is Christ. And when I fail, my only hope is His grace.

Oh how sweet it is to become dependent upon our Lord every hour. How much sweeter would it be for us to be dependent upon Him every minute. A constant dependency. This song helps me remember that need for Him in everything. That is why this song moves me to worship.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When Life Disappoints You

Have you experienced disappointment? My guess is you have. But maybe there is an even better, more personal question: is your life disappointing? Have you ever thought that your life has not turned out the way you thought it would? Have you ever felt despair and hopelessness based upon your situations in life? Have you ever been brought to the point of doubt in God and His goodness because of where you are in life?

I have little doubt that many people struggle with this concept. I mentioned yesterday that I preached on doubt through the life example of John the Baptist on Sunday. If we ever thought someone would never have any doubts, it would have been him. But he did. His expectations for what Jesus was going to do for him went unmet. His life did not end up the way he thought it was going to be.

In a more dramatic way, I believe there is a vast majority of people in the world that can resonate with the character Fantine from Les Miserables. Her life did not end up the way she thought it would. In the musical, at her very darkest place, we find her singing these words to the song, "I Dreamed a Dream."
"There was a time when men were kind; when their voices were soft and their words inviting. There was a time when love was blind; and the world was a song, and the song was exciting. There was a time; then it all went wrong." 
"I dreamed a dream in time gone by when hope was high and life worth living. I dreamed that love would never die; I dreamed that God would be forgiving. Then I was young and unafraid and dreams were made and used and wasted. There was no ransom to be paid; No song unsung, no wine untasted." 
"But the tigers come at night with their voices soft as thunder. As they tear your hope apart; as they turn your dream to shame."
She ends with this stirring thought:
"I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I'm living. So different now from what it seemed; now life has killed the dream I dreamed."
[I have included Anne Hathaway's stirring rendition of this song. Watch it and be moved by it. It might not be the best vocal performance, but she nails what the character Fantine was feeling at that point in the story.]

I have met so many people that have felt this. I have felt it at times. So  many people feel like their life is at the end and they become disappointed because it did not end up the way they thought it would end up. So how does the Christian handle this? I mentioned a few thoughts yesterday, but let me add one more today.

Could It Be That Most Of Our Disappointments Are A Result Of Worshipping Ourselves?

Yes, Jesus did come to bring us life and life more abundantly. But maybe we have just twisted that too far out of context. Maybe that has less to do with our little kingdom we are trying to build here on this earth and more about life in Christ more abundantly. Maybe, when we give ourselves fully to Him, He brings the joy in the storm. He gives the peace in the suffering. He gives the life in our death.

But when we are focused and give ourselves to the worship of ourselves and things do not turn out the way we think, we tend to get down on ourselves. I wonder if much of what we call "disappointment" actually is a result of the idol of ourself letting ourself down.

The question is not whether we will experience disappointment or not. The question is how are we going to respond to it. A mind that is set upon earthly things will always struggle when things do not go according to plan. The mind set on heavenly things will always trust when things do not go according to plan. Where's your mind set? Putting eternity into perspective helps us through life's disappointments.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Morning After: Jesus and the Doubter (Matthew 11:1-19)

Yesterday, I started a new teaching series at our church as we continue to make our way through the gospel of Matthew. In the previous chapters of this gospel, we see Jesus flexing His authoritative power. There is no sin, sickness, nature, demonic forces, man, or trial that Jesus is not the King over. But then as we make our way into chapter 11, we discover how different people begin to respond to this powerful King Jesus. It reminds us that everyone responds to Jesus. Whether it be worship or rejection, there is no way to avoid responding to Him. It is inevitable.

In this first account of chapter 11, we find someone, we wouldn't expect, having a moment of spiritual crisis. John the Baptist is struggling with doubt. His doubt was centered in the fact that Jesus had not met His expectations as the Messiah. He knew who Jesus was and had pointed Jesus out to everyone early in his ministry. But after spending about a year in prison and not being able to witness the deeds of Jesus (only hear about them), he began to struggle. 

He believed the Messiah was going to come in judgment. He believed Jesus was there to judge people of their sin. He preached a message of repentance and believed that Jesus was ready with an axe to cut them down if they did not repent of their sin. About a year into Jesus' ministry and all the reports John hears has to do with miracles and forgiveness of sins. He just didn't get it. So, from prison, he sends Jesus a message: "Are you the one who is to come or shall we look for another?" In other words, "Are you really the one we have been waiting for? Are you really the one we thought you were?"

His expectations of what Jesus was there to do went unmet. He thought and assumed Jesus was going to do one thing, and I'm sure that John's thoughts didn't include him ending up in prison. He thought Jesus was going to come in and whip up on the unrighteous. But Jesus had a much fuller plan. What John didn't fully grasp was something we like to call GRACE. Yes, Jesus as the Messiah is going to come in judgment, it just wasn't going to happen in His first coming. It was designed to be delayed until His 2nd coming.

But in his misunderstanding of the Messiah, we are taught a valuable lesson on doubt. How do we deal with doubt? I think the actions of John and the response by Jesus teaches us a few things about our moments of doubt. 

First, doubt left hidden inside can destroy you. Usually, when someone has doubts about the Christian faith (particularly a Christian), they tend to not share them. Let's be honest, the Christian community isn't very good at listening to them. But John doesn't keep his moment of doubt to himself. He doesn't allow it to fester. He takes his questions to the One who has all the answers. He runs for encouragement  to a trusted friend, but also to His God. Sharing your moments of doubt is a great first step of redeeming them instead of being used by them.

Second, doubt should be attacked with Scripture. The problem that brought about John's doubt was that his expectations he placed upon Jesus were not met. The problem was not with Jesus. They were with his expectations. When Jesus responds, He refines John's expectations through the lips of the prophet Isaiah. He shows John that the Messiah was indeed to do those great miracles. When we struggle with doubt, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to refine our expectations with the Word of God. We need to force ourselves to read God's Word for answers.

Third, doubt is not unbelief, but it can lead to it. Jesus is very quick to defend John the Baptist in front of the crowds. He didn't want them to think that this moment of doubt meant that he was like them. In fact, the rest of the section is Jesus showing the crowds the difference between doubt and unbelief. The person who doubts is open to receive instruction; the person who does not believe is closed off to any evidence. At that moment of doubt, we are placed at a crossroads of whether we are going to move closer into Christ and His truth or if we are going to move further away from Him in unbelief. Are we open to receive instruction or are we closed off?

As I studied this topic last week, I was shocked to think through how prevalent this idea is. Doubt is common in our culture, particularly when things do not turn out the way we think they should. I'll try to address that topic a bit tomorrow.

Until then, if you want to listen to this sermon or read my notes, you can find them HERE (audio usually posted by Tuesday night).