I am going to put the title “Interstate 15 for God’s Glory” as the new blog title for “Heart Issues in the I-15 Corridor.

Pastor Jason Ehmann and his family have moved out of Idaho. 

This site will remain.  But blog posts will be inactive here.

Please adjust your links to this site.

We have been encouraging you to read the Bible with us through this year, and for those of you that are joining us on this journey, I am sure that you have had your ups and downs, as have I. Reading the Word of God is an essential and profitable exercise for all believers, but it is really more than reading that we are encouraging; it is responding to the Word that those who are blogging here are eager for. We want it in our own lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters who are reading with us. So this brings up the question, how have you responded to the Word?

I found myself in Nehemiah 8 this morning challenged with my responses to the Word. All of the people were gathered in Jerusalem for the reading of God’s Word by Ezra, and it is interesting to see their responses to the Word.

First we see that the reading of the Word led them to worship.

…And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. (Neh 8:6)

Their first response was worship! How often has your reading led you to worship? I am afraid that our consumeristic society has influenced even our purposes for reading the Word. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Well I didn’t get anything out of my reading this morning.” Or, “This is what I got out of my reading this morning…” God does speak to us through His Word and He does give us applications to our lives from His Word, but our motivation for going to the Word is not to get something, it is to give something. As we see the glorious revelation of our great God in the pages of Scripture we should be falling down on our faces to worship God and give Him the glory that He deserves. We should be falling down on our faces and realizing that the Word is not all about me or my needs, it is about God and His glory. When we get this straight we think correctly about our needs. Does the Word lead you to worship?

There seems to be a progression to the responses in this text. After they worshipped, and as the Word was explained to them passage by passage, they then dedicated the day as holy to God. Dedication was their next response, and should be ours as well.

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept as they heard the words of the Law. (Neh 8:9)

As you have seen God and worshipped Him through the Word, in what areas have you seen your own selfish desire to be the king? How has gazing at God shown you your rebellion to the King of kings and the establishment of your own kingdom instead of His? Have you really dedicated yourself and all of the events of your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

When the previous two responses are happening we are tempted to weep as the people did because we have seen the truth about ourselves in the light of God. The instruction came very specifically not to weep, but to rejoice and celebrate. At every phase of our responses to the Word, we are tempted to worship self. We want to worship self instead of God. We want to dedicate self to the advancement of self rather than God. Finally we want to mourn over self rather than rejoice in the King who conquers self for His own glory. This is not to make light of repentance, but to rejoice in forgiveness.

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” 11 So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be quiet, for this day is holy; do not be grieved.” 12 And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Neh 8:10-12)

When we are our own strength, there should be nothing but mourning, but when we read and understand the Word of God we find the joy of the Lord to be our strength. Have you responded with joy to the Word today? Even if it was convicting and hard, are you rejoicing in a God who wins over your sin and uses your circumstances to mold you to look like Christ? Brothers and sisters who are reading the Word with us, worship God, dedicate yourself to Him, and rejoice in Him today!

My first statement is on bibliology.  Here is the second in my series on personal statements in the themes of systematic theology

Theology Proper

Where does one begin in formulating a short statement of belief about God?  Could I just hand you the Bible and say this?  “Here you go this is what I believe about God.  The Bible’s core subject is God.  God is the Hero of this Book.  This is His Word gloriously unveiling Himself to us.”

Undoubtedly, the ultimate treasure of bibliology is not anthropology; the radiant glory of the Book is theology. When one opens up a Hebrew Bible, one comes face to face with the sovereign (Dan. 4:35, Job. 23:14, Rom. 8:28-29), omnipresent (Ps. 139), omnipotent (Is. 40), omniscient (Ps. 147:4-5) [1], eternal (Gen. 21:33, Ps. 90:2), immutable (Mal. 3:6, James 1:17), infinite (I Ki. 8:27), holy (Is. 6:3), just ( [2], righteous (Ps. 11:7), love (I John 4:8), compassionate, merciful, gracious, longsuffering, and good (Ps. 86:15) [3] Yahweh.  And just how an all-loving and all-powerful God can be reconciled with the present evil on our earth? I don’t have all the answers.  I recognize my miniscule, finite mind.  I submit myself to the Lord (Rom. 11:34).  For me, it comes down to biblically reasoned trust and faith.  I do know the end of the story told by God.  I have confident expectation that the eternal purposes of God cannot be thwarted (Is. 46:10).  He creates [4].  He redeems.  He will take care of evil.  He will make all things brand new.  And He does it all for His glory.

Yet not only are the ways of God often mysterious to my limited understanding, so is His being.  God is one.  Biblical data declares only one Yahweh.  “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one” (Deut. 6:4). This one God is wholly set apart from all the gods conceived and declared in early Jewish/Pagan/polytheistic syncretism – God is God among the divine council of gods [5].  God is unique, for God knows no other like God (Is. 41:22; 43:9, 45:21).  Yahweh is in a species all of His own.  Therefore, all worship goes to Yahweh alone.

But in considering monotheism, the Bible does not let us swing into the serious error of modalism.  Stunningly, God is gloriously three: Father, Son, and Spirit (Matt. 28:19) [6].  The Son is distinct from the Father.  The Spirit is distinct from the Son.  Don’t ask me to explain this, except to say God’s people see God as one Being in three Persons.  As I peer into the divine revelation, the Spirit shows me, today, what the Church Fathers saw in ancient times.  Most definitely, God is in loving, dancing Trinitarian intercommunion.  I am in awe.  The Triune God is no sole tyrant.  As the finite creature, I bow down and worship before the eternal, loving fellowship of the Trinity.  This God is heaven.

[1] I am not in the camp of open theists.  Bruce A. Ware edited a book, entitled Perspectives on the Doctrine of God: 4 Views (B&H Academic, 2008).  Among the four contributors, Paul Helm (Classical Calvinistic Persective), Bruce A. Ware (Modified Calvinist Perspective), Roger E. Olson (Classical Arminian Perspective), and John Sanders (Open Theist Perspective), I agree the most with Bruce Ware.

[2] God is just.  In God’s love, He does show wrath.  I separate myself from the unclear American evangelical Rob Bell and his interpretation of God and what he presents in his latest book, Love Wins (2011).

[3] God is good –all the time.  All the time, God is good.  I recommend to you the book, If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil (Multnomah Books, 2009) by Randy Alcorn.

[4] I am a young earth creationist.  And despite the critique of scientists, secularists, and theologians, I personally enjoy the ministries of such groups like Answers in Genesis.

[5] There is compelling conservative, biblical exegesis for other elohim and the divine council.  See Michael Heiser. 

[6] Once again, Bruce Ware has written an elegant book, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit:  Relationships, Roles, & Relevance (2005) for your consideration.  But to all lay Christians, please pick up a copy of The Deep Things of God:  How the Trinity Changes Everything (Crossway, 2010) by Fred Sanders.

Yesterday, we finished the Gospel of Mark.  Today we begin the Gospel of Luke.  If you are not already on a Bible reading schedule, would you like to join me on this journey through Luke during the remainder of March and on through the month of April in the One Year Bible?  Jump on the gospel train.  Join in the journey.  The Passion Week in Luke will end approximately one week after the Passion Week on the national calendar in April.

We need to be daily reading our Bibles.  George H. Guthrie, in his book, Read the Bible For Life (2011), writes, “Ask one hundred church members if they have read the Bible today, and eighty-four of them will say no.  Ask them if they have read the Bible at least once in the past week, and sixty-eight of them will say no.  Even more disconcerting, ask those one hundred church members if reading or studying the Bible has made any significant difference in the way they live their lives.  Only thirty-seven out of one hundred will say yes” (8).

So how are you doing in your Bible reading?  Guthrie writes, “Thus, reading the Bible ought to be as encouraging as a mother’s gentle touch and, at moments, as unsettling and disturbing as a violent storm.  In his work entitled Eat This Book, Eugene Peterson rightly notes that page after page it takes us off guard, surprises us, and draws us into its reality, pulls us into participation with God on his terms.”  This should be our experience of reading the Bible as we move from dry duty, beyond a checklist Christianity, slogging through the “reading of the day,” to an experience of the Bible that might be a “disrupting delight.”  If we are not being moved in heart and moved to new places in life—new levels of obedience to God—we are not really reading the Bible the way God wants us to” (4-5).

This morning, one specific phrase in Luke 1:1-25 hit me like a bolt of lightning:  “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.’ “  The Messiah turns fathers to their children.  I know my heavenly Father has my back covered.  It doesn’t matter my actions – past, present, and future – he loves me.  Let that divine love of the Father flow through my heart to my children.  I have their backs covered.

Today’s One Year Bible Reading (Numbers 15:17-16:40, Mark 15:1-47, Psalm 54:1-7, Proverbs 11:5-6)

I have been reading the King’s Cross (2011) by Tim Keller alongside my Gospel reading of Mark.

Today, our One Year Bible Reading in Mark ushers us right into the Holy of Holies.

Here is a note on Mark 15:34:

By saying the centurion “hear his cry,” Mark is pressing the story right up to your ear.  If you listen closely to that cry–My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?–you can see the same beauty, the same tenderness.  If you see Jesus losing the infinite love of his Father out of his infinite love for you, it will melt your hardness.  No matter who you are, it will open your eyes and shatter your darkness.  You will at long last be able to turn away from all those other things that are dominating your life,  addicting you, drawing you away from God.  Jesus Christ’s darkness can dispel and destroy your own, so that in the place of hardness and darkness we have tenderness and light and life (pp. 209-10).

Reflecting Hope!

Ps 69:6 Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let no those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel.

The context of this Psalm is David talking to God about his suffering. He realized that how he suffered would influence others who are rejoicing in the hope of God. If he suffered in a way the reflected poorly on God it would cause others to fail in their hope. If he was able to rejoice in the steadfast love of God (Ps 69:13) then he would reflect accurately and powerfully the security of hope placed in God.

How have you reflected the joy-filled hope in God through the difficulties that you are facing now? Are others being put to shame by the lack of joy and hope that you have in your difficulties, or are they being encouraged and lifted to look to a great God through the hope that they see in you? David writes later in this same Psalm,

Ps 69:30-31 I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the LORD more than an ox or a bill with horns and hoofs.

No matter what your circumstances are today, you can praise the Lord with a song and thankfulness. This is what is going to be pleasing to Him and this is what will reflect a hope that is anchored in a powerful, wise and loving God. Reflect this kind of hope! It is a hope that draws hopeless people to a hope restoring God.

Rejoicing in Hope!

Rom. 5:1   Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  2 Through him we have also cobtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

In what are you rejoicing? Maybe I should ask the question this way, in whom are you rejoicing? As I am writing this I am within ear shot of the joyful sounds (mostly) of my two boys playing together and I find my heart rejoicing in them and the gift that they are to me. Is this a stable joy though? What happens when they do something that disappoints me, or frustrates me? My joy is gone. Romans 5:2 says that we are able to rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. This is a secure and confident hope that we have, but in what or whom is this joy found? The answer clearly is that our joy is found in the hope of the glory of God. So what does this mean?

The hope of the gospel. The first thing that rejoicing in the hope of the glory of God means is that there is hope in the gospel. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ I can have eternal peace with God. No more am I condemned, but rather I am infused with a hope that is never able to pass away. It is the secure knowledge that I am no longer under the just wrath of a holy God, but that wrath has been assuaged through the accepted sacrifice of Jesus Christ on my behalf. There is joy in the hope that I have in the gospel because it gives me direct access to the glory of God.

The hope of change. Not only do I have access to the glory of God because of the gospel, but I am being transformed into the image of Christ through observing the glory of God. Paul puts it this way in 2Corinthians.

2Cor. 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, vare being transformed into the same image wfrom one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Gospel hope gives hope for change in my own life. When I spend time in the Word of God seeing the glory of God, I am changed to look and act more like Him. The more that I act and think like Christ the more my joy is secure.

What often happens though is we become so focused on the means by which our joy and hope are secure rather than the object of our joy. We get so wrapped up with our change or lack of change that we forget that change is the product of rejoicing in the glory of God. Change is the product the glory of God is the object. When God is our hope, then our joy is secure and our transformation is assured. Brothers and sisters, rejoice in the hope that you have in the glory of God secured for you through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Find hope and joy as you gaze at the beauty and glory of our great God.