He hath not dealt with us after our sins

Psalm 103:

8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. 15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

I think that we forget verse 10 so often. I forget this often. I am saved and striving to live for God. I want to love Him more, and I want to fear Him. I understand I was created for His pleasure and that is what I want from my life. But I forget that despite all of these things, I am still a wicked person. God’s mercy must still be as high as the Heaven is above the Earth towards me as a God fearing individual. That is the mercy I need each day. That is pity that I need each day.

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Oh that is convicting! I don’t know that I do this with Arielle, but with others I have been hasty to judge. I see and condemn, and have forgotten that we are dust. I have forgotten that our frame is a frame of sin and weakness. I forget that I sin as much or more. I forget that it is grace that makes us different, and not my righteousness or life choices. God remembers. God remembers that we are dust; He remembers our frame. Don’t forget that. Don’t forget who we are, and that we are all this way. We are all humans. We are all weak. We are all sinners. We are all dust. God is the Judge, and God remembers who we are.

And praise the Lord for His mercy! It is as high as the Heaven is above the Earth. This is the mercy we need. His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting. His mercy is evident daily towards us. Those that fear the Lord and obey Him find mercy. He is plenteous in mercy, and we need it daily.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”

the followup to the criticism

It seems appropriate to include the response to the criticism of this video. Bethke (author of the poem/video) has been under criticism/approval far and wide since the video became so popular. The site I linked last time with a critique is probably the most popular and widely read blog/site that would post such a critique. Bethke responded well, and his post is up. While the response does not negate the criticism, it does speak well of him. The link is below. If you are willing to take the time to read the criticism, it is probably worth taking the time to read the response.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/14/following-up-on-the-jesusreligion-video/

“Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus”

There is a YouTube video going around that has become quite popular. I have seen it linked and shared on Facebook and so I watched it. I had my issues with it but didn’t know that it was really worth my time, or that it was that big of a deal. I recognized that I have heard this theme over and over and that at the core it may have a good heart but the teaching is misleading at best. And I chose to ignore it. I regretted it as soon as I saw someone else pick up the mantle that I had neglected. (To be sure, whether or not I had, he still would have commented.) That reproof was enough to prod me to comment for those that may not have the same opportunity to read the great review I did.

Here is the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1IAhDGYlpqY

Here is the well written review: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/13/does-jesus-hate-religion-kinda-sorta-not-really/

I will summarize shortly, as his review is quite lengthy, though it is worth reading in its entirety, and I strongly recommend it.

Jesus is not anti-religion. The OT is full of religious function with God ordained purpose. Jesus came practicing perfectly the OT law. He obeyed rules and regulations. He did not come to abolish them, but fulfill it. He then instituted the church; gave the church orders, ordinances, and instructions to proselytize.

The renaming of words is what the post-modernist does. Religion is not the same as false religion. What this video, and many modern zealots who like the phrase “relationship not religion”  are speaking of misunderstand is false religion. False religion is bad. Religion itself is all throughout the Bible, God ordained and commanded. Religion is practiced by Israel and the saints of the NT. James speaks in short succession of vain religion and pure religion.

Relationship with Christ means following his ordinances, obeying his commands, not forsaking the assembly of the saints, giving, praying, praising, and these are all things that are commonly associated with religion, and indeed comprise religion. Religion in the worship of Jesus as Lord and Savior is true religion, pure religion, and Jesus is not against that.

Am I making a big deal about the misuse of a word? There is more to his poem that is inaccurate, and much in it that is good. (For a full verse by verse analysis, refer to the above link.) But Americans think that religion is wrong. Americans want the Jesus that doesn’t require anything of them. They want the Savior without the Lord. They want the Baby in the manger without the obedience He requires. To say “relationship not religion” or to say “Jesus hates religion” implies that everything that makes up religion is wrong, when in fact the misuse of it is wrong. Christ approves and commands true religion. To continue the misuse of this word, phrasing, and terminology does water down the truth of the Gospel.

Modern Minute Message

When I was young, my grandpa was my pastor. I remember there was a ministry/outreach technique (if you want to call it that) that he implemented in our church. It was the Minute Message. The minute message was a short (90 seconds max) tape recorded message each week and you could call the number and listen to a devotional. (I would be interested to know if they had or thought about any of the tracking that we do today to test how many different calls came in from how many different numbers etc. However, that doesn’t matter.) The point was to give out the number and the congregation could call and get encouragement and be fed in another way throughout the week.

Today, we are far past the age of dialing a number, and standing next to the wall to listen to a message. The internet has changed our lives, and though we could reasonably expect the modern day minute message to be a video devotional, the actual practice has in many cases turned to blogging.

The blog has become the place to go for extra information outside of your church. Now your pastor can write down some thoughts from his studies and they can be on your screen in an instant. You aren’t tied to a wall (phones were back then) but can check these from any computer and most phones. The process of checking for a new message is a simple sign up using a subscription or a tool such as Google Reader (my recommendation if you follow many people). It becomes easy and hassle free.

Maybe your pastor doesn’t blog, you can find another pastor who does. Your pastor mentions a name from the pulpit and you find his blog that afternoon. In short, the amount of information we have coming in has grown exponentially. Blogs differ from radio and TV in that they are not scheduled programming. You can read a blog in the middle of the night or the middle of the work day. Blogs are all around.

If the minute message was a useful tool 20+ years ago, then the blog can be useful today. The ability to reach beyond your normal sphere of influence is something that can have a great impact if used carefully. While many blog about their hobbies or for themselves, the blog can be a tool used for the expanse of the Kingdom of God.

This plethora of information requires a caution to readers however. When you had to stand next to the wall and dial to hear the minute message, you didn’t just dial random numbers and hope to listen to anyone’s message. The people knew who they were dialing, what the church stood for, and were expecting something from the Scripture. With the influx of information and the proliferation of the internet, finding new or out of the way articles, blogs, videos, or news has become almost a trait to be prized.This leads to many less than wholesome ideas being presented before you.

The encompassing nature of the internet demands caution in what you read. As you wouldn’t just dial any number to listen to a message where you had no clue regarding the source, you need to take into consideration where you are spending your time online. Blogs can be useful, but they can also be harmful and dangerous. There is a tendency to read things that you might not listen to people say. People full of complaints or bitterness are not fun to be around, but to read their complaints is easier. It still has its effect. Just because it is on the other side of the screen does not mean it will not influence your views and your life.

A blog is a useful tool. A tool that in some cases should not be neglected, and in others that is optional. Whether you are writing devotional style, deep theology, or just posting a favorite verse, you can minister to people around you through this means.

For readers, take encouragement and learning from the many ways God has provided for more information and deeper study. Be careful though what you read. Just as we must filter what books, magazines, television, movies, preaching, and everything else in our lives, blogs must be filtered as well. Read with discernment. Even good blogs that are usually on can miss the mark. As the Bereans searched the Scriptures when Paul preached, we must exercise wisdom in what we accept and reject from all our information sources.