We Are the Reason….. Really?

Now if that doesn’t get you feeling all warm and fuzzy this morning, meh, I don’t know what will. I almost sprouted a goose-bump. Apparently, this Christmas morning we can rejoice, for “we are the reason”! I don’t know about you, but to me, I find that just a bit self-centered. It really does beg a question…

Why did Jesus die for you, Christian? Is it because you were worth dying for? Is it a fact that Jesus dying on a cross for your sins declares your value to God? As we think about these questions, let’s ponder what prompts them. Sometimes, and probably with good intentions, it is asserted to congregations across America that they should not fret because when Jesus died on the cross it was saying that they were worth that much to God, in fact, that we were the reason. They are told that their value to God is so much that he would send his only son to die for there sins, so that they could have a personal relationship with him, should they decide to do so. It sounds good, and it’s a real self-esteem booster. I mean think about it, the Creator of the world thinks I’m to-die-for! But do we attend church to have our self-worth increased? Didn’t a certain character of the scriptures utter the words “he must increase, but I must decrease”? This is what I want to explore in this post.

As a side note before we dig into the word: I am not posting this to destroy your self esteem. My goal is for you to see Christ as your supreme treasure and worth, laying down his life for his sheep, not necessarily because of the worth of the sheep, but for spread of his Glory. Besides, I don’t think you should be esteeming yourself in the first place. Esteem that which is esteem-able, God, then be in awe of His great love for us.

  • To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to make God an idolater. This may hit as strong, offensive words, and they should, for it is an utterly heinous offense to suggest that a sinner could be of equal or more value than the son of God. If Jesus is God (John 1:1, Col 2:9), and God is supremely glorious, then to assign His worth beneath, or less than anyone else’s is idolatry, even for God himself. God seeks his own glory above everything else, for this is the most loving thing he can do for his beloved creatures. John Piper, in his book Desiring God, puts it like this, “He would deny the infinite worth of His own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside Himself. He would commit idolatry.” God cannot assign his worth and his glory to something less than himself. It would make his word untrue. “I am the Lord; that is my name, my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8) “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) Ephesians 1:5-6 clearly states that we are saved according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which brings me to my next point.
  • To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to rob the Gospel of any and all grace. The bible makes it clear from cover to cover that we are wretched sinners and that it is by grace we have been saved. Isn’t saying that we were worth dying for the same as saying that we deserved salvation. Romans 5 tells us that we were still sinners when Christ died for us, while we were enemies of God. We know that sinners deserve wrath, for we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. There was nothing lovely in us, yet he looked upon our pitiful state, had mercy on us, and overcame our sinful rebellion and resistance, granting us repentance from our sinful inclinations! Praise be to the Holy One of Israel! To say that we were worth it is to say that it was owed to us, and God Almighty is in debt to no one.
  • There is no scriptural basis for making such a statement. None. There are plenty of scriptures that show us that God loves us (Eph. 2:4, Eph. 5:2, Psalm 36:7, Titus 3:4), has mercy on us (Eph. 2:4, Psalm 23:6, Mat. 9:13, 1 Pet. 1:3), and cares for us (Zech. 10:3, Psalm 8:4, 1 Pet. 5:7). I haven’t seen a single scripture that suggests that we deserve any of it.

Don’t take me wrong in all of this, what I’m telling you is not bad news. It is amazingly GOOD NEWS! God saves wretched, undeserving enemies of God: because he wants too! In fact, He has designed it such that this is the way He will receive praise for all eternity. This is jaw-dropping good news! The cross was the ransom paid for your life, not because your life was worth it, but for his glory, according to his purpose, to praise of his glorious grace, and for your joy! We have a reason to rejoice, and that reason is Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

God’s Will and My Decisions

I’ve got some decisions I’m facing so I ‘ve recently been praying for direction from the Lord. I’m blogging about it to let you know just how the Lord has come through to answer that prayer.

Call it divine providence, or mere coincidence, but either way, I call it answered prayer. This week, as I’ve set apart time each day to seek the Lord through the Word and prayer, and he has shown up in quite a peculiar way. First off, I believe I am definitely gaining some insight and wisdom on how to make this decision from that time I’ve been setting apart. But I suppose that God just wanted to make sure I get the point on how to make a decision, biblically.

I have quite a few blogs from the WWW subscribed in my Google Reader. Well it happens this week, that no less than three of the blogs I’m subscribed to decided to post something about making decisions, plans, and knowing God’s will. How delightful, that Almighty God would provide for a wretched sinner such as me in such a personal way. So I’ve decided to repost the basic summaries of each, to save you the trouble of having to read all of them, just in case any of you are wrestling with some decision you need to make.

First, in no particular order, we have a post from Desiring God, entitled “How to Glorify God in Your Decision-Making”. In it, Pastor and Author John Piper outlines four questions he poses, and then four practical steps, as he tries to make God-honoring decisions in his life:

Practical Steps in Making Moral Choices

  1. I pray that God will hallow his name in and through me; that he will increase my love for his glory; that he will not let me grow callous to his mercy but will cause me to cherish it as more dear than anything in the world; and that through all this he will not lead me into temptation but will lead me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
  2. I try to meditate upon the Scriptures day and night, desiring to saturate my thinking with the structure of God’s thinking. I try to keep alert to tests that call me out of some slumber of sin I might have fallen into. I try to pay special attention to those places where God’s reality explicitly impinges upon my behavior (e.g. The Unmerciful Servant Parable, Matthew 18:23-35). The Word of God is the tool God uses to answer the prayer I make: in them I see I am being transformed (all too slowly) into a person who sees and delights in behavior which befits a beneficiary of mercy.
  3. I consciously pin my hope on the promise of God to work in everything for my good (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 32:40-41), so that my mind and heart are at rest in his mercy.  To the degree that I enjoy this God given contentment of soul I can be free from pride and fear which might cause me to manipulate or abuse people for my own ends, since my ends are already met in the mercy of God.
  4. As I confront moral choices during the day, if time and circumstances allow, I try tounderstand the effects of each choice on people’s lives. Then on the basis of that understanding and all that has gone before, I choose what seems to me in that situation to befit a beneficiary of mercy and thus to give glory to God.
Next up we have blogger and Author Tim Challies. His posts were a series of four posts throughout the week. Very helpful stuff here on discerning God’s will for your life without having to looking for lights in the sky or trying to decipher what open and closed doors might mean. Read on:

Challies

  1. God is sovereign – We need to begin with the sovereignty of God. If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that God is sovereign, by which we mean that God is King, that he is Lord, that nothing happens outside of his knowledge or outside of his will. God is able to do whatever his will is; God will and must do whatever his will is.
  2. God speaks to us today, through his Word -So Christian, if you want to know God’s will for you, you need to look to the Bible. Here is where God has given us his perfect will; he has given it to us in his perfect Word. Do you want to know how to serve God? Do you want to know how to please him? Do you want to know what he wants from you? Do you want to make good and wise and God-honoring decisions? Then look to your Bible. Here is the one and only way that God has promised to guide you.
  3. But, what about me? -He won’t speak from the sky. Instead, he’ll do something far better. He will let you make a choice and promise to be with you regardless of what you choose. Not only that, but he will love and support you and bless you, because what you do is in accordance with his revealed will as he has given it in the Bible. And really, do you want to have to base your decisions on trying to read into circumstances and feelings and open and closed doors? There is no security in that. It is far better to look to the Bible which is fixed and firm and unchanging and authoritative and let the Bible instruct you. God never demands that you interpret circumstances and make decisions according to them. Instead, we are to look to the Bible as our rule for all matters pertaining to life and godliness and make our decisions on that basis.
  4. Once you’ve searched God’s revealed will, you’re choosing between better and best, not good or bad – Do you see where this has taken us? God gives us his moral will, his revealed will, in the Bible. Here is where he tells us what we must do and what we must not do. But the rest of God’s will can only be found by doing it. Does God want you to go to university or get a job? Yes, he does. Either one. Be wise, do what you love, and you’re doing God’s will. Do it with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and you’ll be doing God’s will for your life. And God will be right there with you, blessing you, loving you, pleased with you. That’s who he is. That’s how you do his will.
Finally we come to Matt Perman, a blogger who also happens to work at Desiring God. In his post he begins with the questions of whether or not we should make plans and then ask God to bless them, or ask God what his plans are then seek to align ours with his. His conclusions are similar to Tim’s. He starts off clarifying what we can know about God’s plans for our life:

Sometimes it is said that we shouldn’t make our own plans and then ask for God to bless them; we should ask God what his plans are, and align ours with his.

Now, this is good advice if this is meant at the high level — that is, if the definition of “God’s plans” here is “God’s moral will revealed in Scripture.” God’s plan for us, in this sense, is that we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8; Matthew 23:23). That’s our mission in life.

God also gets more specific: in marriage, we are to marry only another believer. In our jobs, we are to have full integrity and work with enthusiasm and skill as unto the Lord. In our giving, we are to be generous.

In this sense, we are to seek God’s plans, not our own. That is, God has defined our ultimate priorities in life. We are to seek what he has revealed for us, rather than just coming up with whatever we want to do.

He then concludes that in light of God’s revealed will for us, we shouldn’t “look for some specific sub-plans that God has for us. Rather, he wants us, indeed, to make our own plans (with Scriptural wisdom and prayer) and seek to accomplish them.” I agree.

I have found a few scriptural gems to help me along in this whole process. In John 6:28-29 Jesus’ disciples ask him what they must be doing to be doing the work of God. He replies by telling them to believe in himself, and that that is the work of God. So there you go, you want to do God’s will, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. A couple other verses that helped me are Psalm 37:23-24 and Proverb 16:9. Also Psalm 37:4-5.

And lastly a word from John MacArthur:

The Times – They are a Changin’

Matthew 13:31-33 ESV

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Some of you already know what many of you are about to find out. I’m moving. I’m leaving my beloved home state of Louisiana, where we boil critters for food, use household items as musical instruments, and speak a dialect of French barely recognizable by the French . I have made many fond childhood memories here, I will miss this place and the people in it tremendously. But God… But God has done profound things in my life, and so my journey continues. My journey picks up in a strange new land of snow, Germans, and lakes. It will be a strange land indeed for this Cajun, but I am convinced that God has blessed this endeavor, so I forge headlong into this new chapter in my life with fear and trembling, but also with boldness and confidence. Your prayers are coveted right now.

I am moving to Minnesota to further my education. I will be attending Bethlehem College and Seminary to pursue a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. Yep, you read that right, I am going to bible college. By now, some of you are shaking your head saying “Are you serious?” I am. Very serious. The events of my life during the previous six years are nothing if not miraculous, and most of you know it. Drugs, alcohol, fights, lust, debauchery: these things were a normal part of my life prior to a few years ago. But God has done a great thing in me, He has made me new. He has so worked in my life that I don’t even know me anymore. I don’t, but I do. I know exactly who I am. Therefore, I have decided to devote the next four years of my life to the rigorous study of the Word of this God that has done this to me. I figured that if he’s big enough, powerful enough to do what he has to me, then his Word deserves my full attention. I am going to Minnesota to get to know my Creator, my King. I want to know Him in a way that only intimate study can provide.

Teri, my loving and ever-understanding wife, actually agreed to this. Now that is a grace from above! She is really going along with this whole thing, it’s hard to believe for me. But God is good. Teri has been such a blessing in my life. Her and I have been on quite the journey since we’ve met and I am extremely excited about the chapters yet to unfold. I praise God for giving me such a beautiful woman, beautiful in character and physique, to share my life with. There is no other woman on the planet that I’d like to have walking side by side with me. She’s so strong, even when I’m so weak. She’s got eyes to see, even when I lose sight of things. She’s soft-hearted, even when I’m hard-headed. I love her and I know God has many great things planned for us. I can’t wait.

So we’re off!

The Crappel's

We say so long to the place where the mud is black and the bayou water is brown. 🙂 We say farewell to our many irreplaceable friends and family. We love you, and we’ll be back…maybe. We say hello to frigid winters and downtown traffic. My encouragement to all of you is that if you don’t know Him, get to know Him. God is real. God is good. God Is.

May the God of scripture bless and keep you all,
Jonathan Crappel

Philppians 3:7-11

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

P.S. – If you’re in the area we are having a huge moving sale this weekend, June 17-19. We have tons of stuff for great prices. Come see us at 4205 Hwy 24 Bourg, LA. A short list of some of the stuff we have for sale: 3 Laptops, Truck tool box, fiberglass truck bed cover, tons of baby stuff, decor, clothes, shoes, furniture, pots n pans, crib bedding, and much more!!!

A Gift

My lovely mother

Ma, mom, moooooom!
You’ve answered to all of them faithfully
My childhood days are full of sweet memories
Because of You
I’ve seen you struggle
I’ve seen your pain
But your faith always stood out the most
You always did what was necessary
Worked two, three jobs if You had too
To provide for those You loved the most
Your generosity
Especially for those that didn’t deserve it
As much as it bugged me then,
I think it rubbed off on me
Aha! But it’s a reflection of the God You serve
And His amazing grace!
The Book says that we were created in His image
But I think it’s especially true of You
Because my whole life
I’ve witnessed His loveliness and beauty
Through You.
A gift such as this, such as You
I don’t deserve
I know I’m loved by God
Because
I’m loved by You

My review of The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment On Your Side of The Fence

I was being very blessed by this book until I left it, half-read, on a plane. 😦 But no worries though, because I was given this book by the publisher for review, I wanted to do a good job, so on day one I gave the book a thorough inspectional reading. I read the beginning and end of each chapter to get a good feel for the book before I dove in. After just reading that much of the book I could tell I was in for a real treat, and a timely one.

This book arrived to me in just the right time in my life. Recently, my wife has been telling me to quit complaining about things. So when I saw the offer to get a free copy of the book, in exchange for a review of the book, I couldn’t pass it up. As I got into the book,the first thing I noticed was it’s readability. The author’s humor was laced throughout, enough, but not to much. I loved how he used the concept of a conspiracy to introduce the very real problem of discontentment that plagues society today. And he correctly identifies the root of this problem as sin. Then he offers the correct solution to the problem, namely, contentment in all that Christ is for us.

I could go on to a play by play of what I did read of the book, but I feel it will be more useful to you to tell you that this is a book that I would highly recommend to anyone that struggles with finding contentment in their circumstances. The content of this book was extremely helpful to me when I lost it. It is my prayer that whoever finds that book on the plane reads it, and is as blessed by it as I was.

This is my first book review, so please forgive me for its short length. Perhaps I’ll get better at this as I review more books.

I Hate Open Letters So…


Let’s Call This An Open Invitation

To what, you might ask. Discussion. Not debate. Dialogue. Open, honest discourse. As a Christian, I hear the christian opinion everyday. I read it in blog posts. I hear it in Youtube videos. Naturally, I gravitate to it. In the course of things, I come across other points of view as well, but one thing that I don’t get too much of is communication with everyday, regular, nonbelievers as to why the believe (or don’t believe) the way they do.

I have some very dear friends, and family, whose views are totally opposite of mine. You are my target audience. Or should I say the intended recipients of my invitation. I want to talk to you. I want to know what makes you tick. I am not looking for a debate per se, although debate may occur as a natural consequence. I just want friendly discussion about our differing views of religion, philosophy of life, etc. I am not looking to pick a fight.

Our proposed conversation could take place in a variety of forms, I’ll let you decide. Some options would be:

  • blog posts
  • Facebook notes
  • private email
  • talking on the phone
  • I would say that we could go 15th, 16th century style and take turns publishing books to state our viewpoint, but for the sake of time (and the fact that I’m not smart enough to do that), we’ll use one of the above methods, or another reasonable method of your choice.
  • I’d prefer to stick to a written format, but if talking we must do, then talk we shall.

    I promise not to try and convert you (unless you ask me to 😉 ). I deeply respect each of you that I have in mind, and would not undermine the intelligence I know you all possess. I’m just curious about your position is all. I am firmly established in what I believe, so you would have a hard time converting me as well :).

    In particular, I’m looking for the following positions to discuss: atheists, anti-theists, secular humanists, agnostics, or new agers/ middle eastern philosophy. I know that the members of these groups are usually pretty intelligent, willing to reason. Come, let us reason together.

    20110408-230648.jpg

    Right now I’m not really focusing on other religions like mormonism or witnesses, although I’d probably be willing to talk, shoot me a line if you feel compelled.

    If any of these are you, and you’re willing to open up about it, and follow things out to logical conclusions, then I ask you to contact me. Feel free to comment below, or contact me privately via jcrappel at gmail dot com. Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to talking to you.

    So You’re A Christian?

    So lately I’ve been thinking really hard about the underground church. The underground church refers to the believers and followers of Christ all around the world that do not have the freedom to worship freely. This dedicated body of believers are willing to die for their faith, the very same faith that the majority of people here who claim to have it don’t even acknowledge on a daily basis. Tell me this; How can the average Christian in America and Asia Bibi be of the same faith.

    Example. Recently I was talking to someone close to me and mentioned the fact that there are people in other parts of the world that can get arrested  or even killed for their faith. His response was “Well I’m sure the Lord would understand”, as he proceeded to describe his way out of a situation. This person, mind you, would also most likely call himself a Christian, and he may very well be saved, who am I to judge a man’s soul. My point is that we take too much for granted.

    Daily, there are Christians persecuted simply for believing in Jesus. Richard Wurmbrand, in Tortured For Christ, tells of a pastor forced to watch his son be beat to death:

    He was forced to stand for two weeks, day and night. The communists wished to compel him to betray his brethren, but he resisted steadfastly. In the end, they brought his fourteen year-old son and began to whip the boy in front of his father, saying that they would continue to beat him until the pastor said what they wished him to say. The poor man was half mad. He bore it as long as he could. When he could not stand it any more, he cried to his son; “Alexander, I must say what they want! I can’t bear your beating any more!” The son answered, “Father, don’t do me the injustice to have a traitor as a parent. Withstand! If they kill me, I will die with the words, ‘Jesus and my fatherland’.” The communists, enraged, fell upon the child and beat him to death, with blood spattered over the walls of the cell. He died praising God. Our dear brother Florescu was never the same after seeing this. Continue reading “So You’re A Christian?”

    For the Thinkers…

    I pulled this little excerpt from this blog post over at rzim.org. It astonishes me that the people claiming to be thinkers don’t think things through. Ironic, don’t yo think?

    Take, for instance, Hawking’s statement quoted above: “Because there is a law of gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Clearly, he assumes that gravity (or perhaps only the law of gravity?) exists. That is not nothing. So the universe is not created from nothing. Worse still, the statement “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” is self-contradictory. If I say, “X creates Y,” this presupposes the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. If I say “X creates X,” I presuppose the existence of X in order to account for the existence of X. To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its existence is logically incoherent. One might add for good measure the fact that when physicists talk about “nothing” they often mean a quantum vacuum which is manifestly not nothing. Could this be “much ado about nothing”?

    Hawking here is using the same incoherent “argument” as Oxford chemist Peter Atkins, also a wellknown atheist, who believes that “Space-time generates its own dust in the process of its own self-assembly.” (3) Atkins dubs this the “Cosmic bootstrap” principle, referring to the selfcontradictory idea of a person lifting himself by pulling on his own bootlace. His Oxford colleague, philosopher of religion Keith Ward, is surely right to say that Atkins’s view of the universe is as blatantly self-contradictory as the name he gives to it, pointing out that it is “logically impossible for a cause to bring about some effect without already being in existence.” Ward concludes: “Between the hypothesis of God and the hypothesis of a cosmic bootstrap, there is no competition. We were always right to think that persons, or universes, who seek to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps are forever doomed to failure.” (4)What this shows is that nonsense remains nonsense even when talked by world-famous scientists.

    A Dedication to Lost Loved Ones

    It’s hard to say goodbye

    It’s hard to accept that you’re gone

    It’s hurts to reminisce on what could’ve been

    So much time has passed

    Babies were born, Life has gone on

    But not a day has gone by

    Without reflections of five brothers

    But alas, a phantom mirror

    Like a dream, as though it is

    But it’s not

    and will never be

     

    Picture of Jerry
    Missed by his family - 12/13/1974 - 6/2/1994