Browsing Tag


Christian Life, Commentary, Spiritual Warfare

He will surely do it

June 23, 2016



Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

What beautiful words in the chaos of a world that is anything but sure! My friends, let us ground ourselves in this truth today; our God is faithful, and what he has said he will do he will surely do. When tomorrow is uncertain, when waking up and entering the day is simply a burden, comfort your spirit with the truth that “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

What He Will Do

The Scriptures abound with declarations about what God has promised to do. From eternal salvation to indescribable joy, He who has called you has given his word, and faith calls you to take him at that word. I want to briefly touch on a few key things from this passage in 1 Thessalonians that we can build our lives upon today. What exactly is it that the faithful one has said He will do?

He will give you peace.

He’s the God of Peace, so he gives peace. Your anxiety and worry evaporate when you come near Him. Sin is the seed that grows anxiety, fear, worry, and ultimately death (James 1:15). When sin enters into our lives it separates us from the God of Peace, growing walls that trap us in the darkness of our own minds, which inevitably leads to the downward spiral of depression, fear, anxiety, and the like.

This God, however, has uprooted sin and nullified its power by the blood of Christ. He has shed abroad the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus. Look to him, and you will find peace as he frees you from sin.

He will sanctify you completely.

This progressive freedom from sin is known as sanctification. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines sanctification this way:

  • 1 : to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use
  • 2 : to free from sin
  • 3a : to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to

The work of Christ has set you free. The work of Christ has set you apart completely. You’re in a whole new category. You’re no longer defined by your sin; you’re now defined by the imputed righteousness of Christ.

Note the surety of this sanctification. He who has called you will do it. It’s not a weight on your shoulders. What joy and freedom is found in knowing and experiencing this!

He will keep you blameless

Being in the process of sanctification doesn’t mean that you never sin. We have a sin nature until the day when Jesus comes again. However, according to these verses (and plenty of others) God keeps us blameless. Can you grasp that? You’re blameless! In Romans 8 Paul states it another way, declaring that there isn’t any condemnation that can stick to those who are in Jesus.

When someone tries to blame you for something or condemn you for a past deed, it can’t stick to you. You’re blameless. When your mind fills with accusations of your incompetence and failure and lack of worth, toss those lies aside. The God who is faithful has called you and promised to keep you blameless. He will surely do it.

He will come again

This life is a struggle. Our broken world isn’t any easy place to live. The good news is that the struggle doesn’t last forever. This groaning creation will soon be re-created in glory, because Jesus is coming again and will restore all things. The day of the coming of the Lord will be both beautiful and terrible, and though it may seem slow in coming it will surely come.

He will love you

He will give you peace. He has sanctified you. He will keep you blameless. You don’t do this kind of stuff for someone you don’t love. Jesus came and purchased our peace, sanctification, and blamelessness because he loves us. From the delight in his Spirit the Father and the Son acted according to love and purchased for us salvation.

Unlike the loves of this world, this one isn’t going away. It’s here till the end. It’s not the love of the boyfriend who is there to get what he wants from you and then ditch. It’s not the love of the girl looking for comfort and validation. No. This is the settled, immortal love of the creator of all the earth.

He is faithful. He’s given his word and He will surely do it. Rest in that. Learn to let peace be your path this week!




Christian Life, Life, Quotations, Spiritual Growth

The Honorable Vessel

December 7, 2013



Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

– 2 Timothy 2:20-25, ESV



Christian Life, Spiritual Growth

Sanctification and Disciplemaking

November 30, 2013

Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

– John 17:17-19, ESV

Growing up I always thought of “spiritual” things as inherently individual activities. Prayer and study of the Scripture were laid out as the main means of growing closer to the Lord and were best done alone. The holier a person got the more detached from the world they became. After all, the Greek word for holy means “set apart.” Of course people would become more apart from the earth and the people on it as they were sanctified and grew in holiness. Then, in our solo holiness we would somehow glorify the God who made us.

We were made, creatures fashioned to glorify our creator. Ephesians 1 makes it abundantly clear – as does the rest of Scripture – everything is for the glory of God. He’s the one at the center of the story. And that’s the problem with a sanctification that separates us from the world. Jesus’ ultimate holiness as the Son of God did nothing to prevent him from coming close to the world in all its sinfulness. Quite the contrary. In John 17 as Jesus prepares to leave his disciples and move toward his crucifixion he makes a statement that is often overlooked. “For their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.” (v.19)

For Jesus his sanctification through total submission to his Father’s will, the essence of holiness, was done not simply for his own sake. He didn’t go to the cross, consecrating himself as a sacrifice simply so that he could regain access into heaven. It was “for their sake” that he was set apart. For the sake of the disciples then and disciples now. Jesus, through his consecration, bought men and women from every tribe, tongue, and nation on the earth to be priests to God.

And here I was, thinking that my sanctification was all about me getting closer to God. That’s not what it’s about. Friends, it was Jesus’ sanctification as the sacrifice for sin that brought us close to God. We can’t get any closer to him that “seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Our sanctification isn’t about us, ultimately. Like Jesus, our sanctification is “for their sake…that they also may be sanctified in truth.” Our growth in holiness, our prayer and private worship, our study of scripture isn’t an end goal in and of itself. It’s for the sake of disciple-making, because making disciples who submit themselves to the Father’s will like Jesus did is what brings the greatest glory to the Father. The way that we most glorify God is through making disciples of Christ. Sanctification is for the sake of disciple-making.

Our sanctification is for other believers.

In John 17 Jesus makes it clear that his consecration is for the sake of his disciples. Similarly, in Ephesians 4 Paul points out the array of gifts that God has given his body, all given “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (v.12). In 1 Thessalonians the Apostle points out that it was the Thessalonian’s sanctification and obedience that made them “an example to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”

God gives us the gift of spiritual growth so that the other believers around us will be drawn closer to him. Jesus called the twelve out from the crowds no just so that they could get to know him well, but so that they could take their knowledge of him and the gospel and use it to train up the others who had believed but hadn’t been as close to the master. Their sanctification was given to them for the sake of building up other believers.

Our sanctification is for non-believers.

Like Israel the body of Christ is to be holy, a distinctive culture in the midst of a world consumed by sin. 1 Thessalonians 4 begins by describing what it looks like to be sanctified, exhorting believers to “control his own body in holiness and honor,” which leads to, “so that you may walk properly before outsiders” (v.4, 12). The sanctification of Christ’s followers is so that they will be a witness to the world by their very lives that the resurrected Christ still has power to change men and women. Through the spiritual fruit of love, joy, patience, kindness, etc, we become glorious proofs of the gospel we proclaim.


When I thought of sanctification as a solo activity that would slowly move me closer to the Lord it was a weight on my shoulders that I was never quite able to bear. But that’s never what it was meant to be. Christ is our salvation and our sanctification. No manner of spiritual activity will gain us deeper access into the Father’s presence. We already have “every spiritual blessing” and can come “boldly before the throne of grace.” Sanctification is for the sake of the people around us, that they might see and desire greater things. God is answering Jesus’ prayer. We are sanctified in truth. As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus has sent us, consecrating us to himself for the sake of discipling those around us because only the disciple is the one who gives the Father the glory he is worthy of.

Christian Life, Evangelism, Threshingfloor

Eating With Sinners

September 26, 2013




Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

(Luke 15:1-2, ESV)


Who we hang out with says everything about our priorities, and the type of people who want to hang out with us says everything about our character. Our natural motion is toward relationships with people who are like us. Similarities become the common ground on which our relationships are built.

That’s our natural motion, at least on a human level. But disciples of Christ are called to far more than the natural, human ways of life. Born again through water and Spirit, we have moved from the kingdom of the natural into the Kingdom of the supernatural. Jesus is the one who purchases our entrance into that kingdom and the example of how to live a Kingdom life. As his people we become students of his ways, striving with all the Spirit’s power that moves within us to walk like our master walked. As the Apostle John wrote, “By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:5-6, ESV)

If we are in Christ’s Kingdom then we “walk in the same way in which he walked,” right? If so, then when we read in Luke  15 that “the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him,” we should search our own lives and ask whether or not this is true of us. Are sinners drawing near to us? Is there room in our lives for them? Would we welcome them, befriend them, eat with them, and love them, or would we avoid their uncleanliness?

As I examine my life I see a wide gap between the types of people Jesus spent time with and the people I spend time with. First and foremost, Jesus had a small core of followers who he was intensely close with. His disciples were constantly in his presence, observing, learning, and practicing what he taught them day-by-day as they lived out the mission together. Jesus also ministered to the masses. He fed the 5000 who came to hear his teaching, healed all who he came in contact with, and generally ministered to everyone who he came in contact with. Lastly, as is noted in Luke 15, Jesus welcomed and ate with the sinful and outcasts of society.

Contrast this with our general, natural network of relationships. For most people in modern day America we swim in a large but shallow pool of acquaintances with none who are truly “in” our lives as disciples. Unlike Jesus, who made his whole of life ministry, our ministry is generally kept to scheduled hours of service and volunteering. The vast majority of us give little thought to the needy masses within our society. And of course, most people in the church today (particularly those raised in church contexts) are neither welcoming nor eating with those who society sees as sinners.

Do people in your religious contexts say of you “he/she welcomes sinners and eats with them”? If not, there’s a problem. Our savior welcomed us while we were still in sin. How much more ought we to be people who drunkards, drug addicts, the sexually immoral, the homeless, the liberal politician, and all who religion declares as wicked be welcomed by us?

If we want to see God work mightily in and through us then we need to be following his Spirit’s leading, and his Spirit will always lead us to follow the Son. When Jesus leaves the religious establishment and enters the bars, slums, and back alleys we should follow him. It’s there in those dark, sin-coated places that the brilliant light of the King will draw men and women to repentance and faith. It is, after all, the kindness of God that leads to repentance.

We who are far from the sinners of the world need to repent of our pride and fear and move outward in faith, trusting that our God will go with us like he went with Jesus. Remember, Jesus holds you secure in his hand. Get out of your safe, Christian, churched bubble. Quit your Bible study. Go out into the world where those who are sick and dying live. Go with the massive power of the Gospel, both in word and deed, to befriend, love, serve, and minister to sinners. If people in your church look at you and gossip under their breath about how you’re spending too much time downtown near the bars, that you’re hanging with people that “decent” people don’t spend time with, that you’re not at the church building as much as you should be, just smile. Know that they said the same thing about Jesus. You’re in good company when religious people look down on you.






Best Of, Christian Life, Leadership, Spiritual Growth

Stay In The Tent

June 13, 2013

“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.”

– Exodus 33:11


For the month of June I’ve been focusing on the study and practice of prayer, investing significantly more time than I have in the past in the Lord’s presence. I can honestly say that it’s been the most spiritually refreshing and empowering couple weeks I’ve had in quite some time. It’s inspired and encouraged me for the work that I have before me each day. I am convinced that the thing the young man or woman who aspires to follow Christ and make disciples needs more than anything else is to spend significant, intentional time before the Lord in the Word and in prayer.

Learn from your elders

Joshua understood this. Exodus 33:11 records that this young man, Moses’ assistant, made sure to be present when Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord. He joined the person who God has placed over him and observed, learning the ways that Moses interacted with the Lord and growing in knowledge, faith, and love. Rather than presuming to go on his own, Joshua entered the tent with Moses and thereby honored the authority placed over him.

Young leaders (I include myself in that category) need to be keenly aware of the authority that is over them. Jesus tells a parable warning against taking the best seat at the table lest the host tell you that it was reserved for someone else. Instead, we should take the low seats, joyfully do the menial tasks, quietly observe the discussions, and realize that we have much to learn.

Linger after your elders

Joshua doesn’t stop there, however. Even after Moses left to return to the Israelite camp and the day-to-day work he “would not depart from the tent.” Joshua lingers after his elder has left in the presence of God, developing in himself a steadfastness and faithfulness that lasts him even to old age. This extra time in the presence of God, I believe, is part of why Joshua is faithful to the end of his life where Moses eventually sins and is called out of leadership because of disobeying God’s command. (Numbers 20) He understood his desperate need for the Lord because of his youth and his inexperience and acted accordingly.

I want to be, and I want the men and women of Threshingfloor to be, a generation that lingers long in the tent of meeting. If we build significant space for prayer, worship, and study of the scriptures into our lives while we are in college, single, and free from many of the commitments that come later in life those habits will carry us for years to come. We need to remember that it is there in the presence of our Lord and King that the battle is decided. All of our preparation and strategy is worthless if we are not following His call in our lives.

Observe Joshua well. Learn from the men and women of God that have gone before you. Be humble enough to acknowledge your inexperience and need for leadership. Then invest more in your own growth by reading, praying, studying, observing, and practicing. By doing so you will prepare yourself to conquer nations for Christ.




Christian Life, Spiritual Growth

Three Truths About Spiritual Growth

April 23, 2013

Holiness is a community project

Three or four years ago my conception of holiness was something that demanded separation from the world and was achieved through more study, reading, and meditation. The more knowledge I had about God the more holy I would become. That, however, is a severe distortion of the image of the holiness Christ calls his people to throughout scripture.

Jesus, the holiest of all men, lived his entire ministry life in a community of believers. He also spent a significant amount of time surrounded by people who were considered by the “religious” of his day to be unclean. The Apostles grew in the context of shared experiences, surrounded by others. There wasn’t much go off alone and study time in Jesus’ ministry. Quite the contrary. Communal living was the center of Christ’s sanctification process. God has structured his world so that we need other people in order to progress spiritually. Piety is no a private activity; holiness is something that grows in the soil of relationships.

Sanctification isn’t for sanctification’s sake

Tied in with the above point is the realization that sanctification isn’t for sanctification’s sake. God isn’t making us accurate reflections of Jesus so he can put us all in a room to admire each other and compare how accurate our imitation of Christ is. Jesus told his disciples, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)

Trees don’t bear fruit for their own sakes. They bear fruit so that others can eat it and so that they can reproduce. Our sanctification is for the sake of mission. Jesus has sent us to be his messengers, and when we go out to proclaim his message he will transform us to be accurate representations of him. Our sanctification is for the sake of showing the world the glory of our God.

I need the Spirit more than I need the fruit

For many years there was this conception in my mind that I needed to, one by one, gather the fruits of the Spirit and develop them in my life. In my struggle with pornography and my leadership of the Threshingfloor crew I’ve realized that what I needed wasn’t just more fruit – I needed more of the Spirit. In John 15 Jesus says that those who abide in him bear much fruit. You don’t get the fruit without the vine. Watchman Nee, in his classic book The Normal Christian Life, writes;

And this is the truth. God will not give me humility or patience or holiness or love as separate gifts of his grace. He is not a retailer dispensing grace to us and packets, measuring out some patients to the impatient, some love to the unloving, some meekness to the proud, and quantities that we take and work on as a kind of capital. He is only given one gift to meet all our need: His son Christ Jesus. As I look to him to live out his life and me, you’ll be humble and patient and loving and everything else I need – in my stead. Remember the word in the first epistle of John: “God gave unto us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath the life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not the life. (1 John 5:11-12)

Often we try to gather the fruit of the Spirit and yet ignore his presence. We need to realize that God has given us more than just sections of moral excellency. He has given us the vine from which they grow. Rather working so hard to improve in love, joy, peace, patience, and all the other things we know we’re supposed to have we need to focus more on Jesus. The secret to spiritual growth is simple. Be connected with the the vine, then the growth just happens.





Poetry, Spiritual

Moving Into the Wild

June 26, 2011

Is it any wonder, then
that it needs new eyes to take it in
when an open door is offered
and the rat is given wings?

Oh, small beast, now born to mighty strength!
Have faith in the promises
To become who you are not
by heaven’s gracious gift!
Stifle not your soul with smallness
in movies
and sensuality
and food
and all earthen, half-way things.
Instead, grow up to heaven
to become a redwood among the sapling trees.

Christian Life, Spiritual Growth

Grace and Romance – Part 2

June 23, 2011

Read part 1 of this series here.

As I mentioned in the first portion of this post, God’s been pressing on my mind just how critical it is that our hearts be transformed by gazing upon Christ. No amount of rules are going to bind our sinful nature. Only Christ’s death upon the cross, where he defeated sin once, for all, and where our fleshly nature is bound in Christ, has the power to crush the sin within us. However, knowing this and actually experiencing it are two different things, and not without it’s share of struggle and battle for faith.

Though I’ve known the truth that we have indeed “been crucified with Christ” and that, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:20) for a few years now, but the old nature still seems to have much power over this new man. There have certainly been errors in Kelly and I’s relationship in the 3 months since it began, some great and some small. We are not without sin. The difference that an understanding of the fullness of the Gospel brings is that rather than feeling condemned and desperate to atone for our errors in order to restore the “Christian” part of ourselves by putting more rules in place and trying harder, we have been consistently humbled by the Gospel of grace and left all the more in awe of Christ. Rather than pushing us away from the Lord, our sin has drawn us into a greater love of his precious work upon the cross and intercession for us as our risen savior. Far from such radical grace causing us to think, “let us sin, that grace may abound!” it has caused us to hate sin all the more, not for simply its consequences, but for the fact that it displeases the one whom we love.

This, I am convinced, is far more pleasing to the Lord than the cleanest, most righteous relationship developed by human strength. And, in the long run, it will do far more to grow the fruit of righteousness, for we think most upon what we love most, and according to Colossians it is setting our minds upon Christ that will kill sin.

I urge you, my fellow believers, to ensure that you are applying the gospel to all aspects of your life and not attempting to use “man made religion” in order to sanctify or save yourself. Casting yourself unreservedly upon the grace of God will bring you far more joy and freedom than any manner of rules and regulations will, and it will bear witness to the world of the type of Lord we serve.

In closing, I’ll list a couple of practical ways Kelly and I have (and are) going about doing this in our own lives and relationship, as well as some resources that have stimulated much of my thought on this and the larger subject of sanctification that is at hand.

  • First and foremost, cultivate a love for Christ as an individual. If we aren’t grounded, rooted, and growing (abiding) in Christ on our own, there is no way that we will do it together.
  • A couple crucial ways to grow in Christ as an individual are;
    • Read, study, and meditate upon the scriptures. If we are to set our minds on things that are above and not on earthly things, we need to know what those things above are. Scripture is one of God’s central ways to teach us those things.
    • Spend time in prayer. Personally, I do this in a couple ways, from specific times where I get on my knees for 10-30 minutes and directly pray through things that are on my heart or on the list of things that I keep to the practice of regularly pausing for a few seconds throughout the daily routine to lift up a quick prayer to the Lord and acknowledge his presence.
    • Get connected in a local church and Christian community. There are few things that will do more to grow your faith and deepen your roots in Christ than to be with others who are seeking the same thing.
  • Do each of the things listed above together, especially the getting connected in a Christian community.
  • Be on mission and do Kingdom work together. Kelly and I have had some great experiences in this. Doing ministry together was the way we got to know each other, and that continues today. It’s an awesome thing to be able to talk to each other about the people we’re discipling, the struggles and joys of the work, to bounce ideas of each other, and to be able to life each other up in prayer.
  • Invite other people to hold you accountable, as individuals and a couple. Being a part of the Christian community aught to naturally bring this about in some ways, but it’s hugely beneficial to make it explicit and to know that there are people there who have your back and will call you on your sins and remind you of the Lord’s grace.
  • Communicate your struggles, and everything else. Knowing where the other person is strong and weak is crucial to “presenting each other complete in Christ”.
  • Don’t be afraid to set boundaries. This might seem to fly in the face of everything I’ve said in the last to posts, but it really doesn’t. Paul got at this seeming paradox when he declared that, “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” As you get to know your own and each other’s weaknesses, don’t be stupid and put yourself in compromising situations. Instead, be wise enough to follow the leading of the Spirit and lay out some ground rules that will keep you from setting your mind on earthly things and thereby sinning.

Lastly, here’s a post over on Tullian Tchvidjian’s blog at The Gospel Coalition that contains some great thoughts on sanctification and the growing process, as well as some dialogue between him and some other men who understand the Gospel in all it’s glory. Enjoy!


Updated 6/24/2011 – Just read another great post that contributes to Tchvidijian’s posts that I linked to above. Read it here.

Christian Life, Life, Spiritual Growth

A Long Road

May 26, 2011

God often seems to take his people on circuitous routes rather than the straight and simple way in order to reach their destination. Israel is led through the desert for an entire generation before reaching their promised land. David is anointed king and flees from

Saul for years before finally receiving his rightful place upon the throne. Even Jesus spent nearly 30 years on earth before even beginning his ministry. Why this slow, painstaking process rather than a miraculous moment?  From the grand picture of scripture, it appears that God cares more about who a person is than he does about their accomplishing a certain goal. Character comes before achievement in the kingdom of heaven, and the Lord desires to see Christ’s glory formed in his people more than he desires to see his people achieve things that are glorious by earthly standards.

The sovereign Lord uses even our sin and mistakes to conform our character to that of Christ. When Romans 8 declares,

all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

the apostle truly means all things. Israel’s desert years taught them the foolishness and danger of doubting an all-powerful God and allowed them to see their own sinfulness and God’s power to preserve. David’s years of waiting, hiding, and being pursued by his enemies taught him the patience needed to be king and grew his character into a man who would lead Israel well. Jesus’ life on earth prepared for us a righteous life not our own so that we might truly called “sons of God” (Galatians 3:26) and “the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Do not despair, my friends. Though you see ten thousand easier roads all about you, our gracious God is guiding every circumstance and step to cultivate you as one of his children. He is the perfect husbandman, guarding and feeding his flock, pruning and watering his plants, and in all things showing his good and perfect love. Your faith is more precious than gold or many jewels, and he will use any and all means in his infinite wisdom to refine that faith and character so that, though you may suffer and struggle for a moment here on this earth, you will rejoice with unspeakable joy as you receive the promised glorious salvation (1 Peter 1). Do not fear a long and treacherous road, for the Lord will be with you and will do good to you every step of the way.


Poetry, Spiritual Growth

Crane in Flight

April 6, 2011

The corner of my bed is where
they hid themselves, the way
paper hides the words I think
among the words I write
like a forest of feathers
always failing in their flight.

All attempts at rest will collapse
when the mind refuses to cover itself
in a silent blanket, moon like
trusting an evening grace
of pages bundled within your chest
where the aching of my empty head
longs to rest
only to rest.

They, the dreams I had in morning
floating like paper cranes
covered with words I’ve written in growing moments
carried upward, against reason and gravity’s strength

I watch you, flying crane, and say;
in hopes of changing
I will change.