Born and Raised in Omaha!!

My boss at the bank wrote, sang, and played this song as the drummer. This is a great way to launch our new ad campaign, Born in Omaha. Pretty cool that my boss not only gets retail banking in a big way but also sees it through the matrix of the pattern of music!

Check out this video on YouTube:


God Only Wise. Job 28 – some of my notes from a Tim Keller sermon combined with some journal entry thoughts. Sermon from iTunes

Photo. Santa Cruz, CA. Picture by Richard Blick. 2011

The big idea: we need wisdom, but how do we get it?

Point one. Wisdom is absolutely important.

Knowledge of God’s moral law and applying it well to life is wisdom. The ten commandments are non-negotiable, but how do we discern what job to take, who to marry, where to live, etc.? These are not spelled out in the ten commandments, yet if we chose poorly, dire consequences result.

Wisdom is knowing yourself and also knowing your limitations. Wisdom is knowing how to make decisions which allow for the timing and seasons of life. Wisdom is understanding the complexities of life.

The genre of the book of Proverbs is not a book of promises nor commands as much as it is truth about how life usually works. Life is more complex than we normally allow for. If you obey your parents you still may die early and not live long on the earth. A man works hard and gets rewarded and the sluggardly does not. It is good to work hard but Proverbs also show that sometimes the poor are hardworking but are poor because of oppression. Normally hard work pays dividends but not always because life is more complex than that.

Point two. Wisdom is only found in God.

Many othe religions believe the world was made in conflict. The Bible teaches that God created the world not out of a conflict between good and evil forces. It teaches that God, the master craftsman, made it as an overflow of joy in himself.

Only God can see the order and the pattern in everything in the world. Look at his plan: creation and redemption after the fall.

Point three. How to get some wisdom for yourself?

We know what it is like to hope in something and then it is cut off: broken dreams, broken things, lost jewelry, broken relationships, good works, etc. But when we hope in wisdom, proverbs says, our hope is never cut off. When we are leaning as if to fall, which is the essence of worship, we will never fall when leaning on the Rock of wisdom.

Prov. 24:13 My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

If all wisdom is in God, where do we see the climax of God’s wisdom? On the cross. Eph 3:10 When we hope in the cross, that is the only thing we can hope in that will not be cut off.

Eph 3:10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.
13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Proverbs defines what wisdom is, namely the fear of the Lord.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Job 28:28 says the same thing: And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.'”

What is this type of fear that leads to this wisdom? The type of fear that it is talking about is like standing quietly in an art gallery, not being loud, looking at a beautiful piece of art. It is awe, wonder, reverence and stillness.

In Job’s life, we see the principle that the fear of the Lord is especially poignant, important, and life changing when in the middle of suffering. Fear of the Lord is gained certainly through knowing his Word, but it is also gained in our experience of suffering.

The fear of the Lord is stillness before the Lord in suffering. Though we cannot see the pattern or purpose sometimes in our life’s events, God DOES see the pattern. It is like the 18 month old child getting shots at the doctors office. How do you fully explain to her look of betrayal on her face in her pain that this is for the protection and joy of her life? It is done out of pure love. The parents see the pattern behind the suffering, though the child does not. But there IS a pattern in our lives, and it is designed by God out of infinite love for us!

There is nothing like suffering that teaches us to know ourselves deeper, to know more of the timing and seasons of life, and to know more of the complexities of life.

We have something that Job and Solomon did not have: we see the wisdom of God unfolded on the cross in Christ. On the cross, the people told Jesus to come down if he was truly God, and what did he do? He stayed in stillness. He showed the ultimate fear of the Lord in suffering by being still.

We will never stay in stillness before God in our suffering until we see that Christ stood still on the cross in suffering FOR US and for our sins. May we use this matchless expression of love on our hearts for change! Holy Spirit, do this, please!

Remember 1 Cor 1:And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom…

So not only is all wisdom IN Christ, not only did he perfectly DISPLAY wisdom in the fear of God in complete stillness on the cross, but Christ has also been made MY wisdom! I can never be still enough in suffering like Christ was – but he was that perfect stillness before God for me! Now, because I have been made to be still before God perfectly IN CHRIST, I can make headway in daily stillness today!

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is preparing the people to enter the promised land. He is giving them many reminders and much instruction as they enter. He says,

5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?
8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

The truth of the scripture is that we do NOT obey perfectly and act wisely as vs 6 says. Not only does God give us wisdom how to live this life the way he built it, not only does that make him seem glorious for being seen as the God who is close to his people, but Christ obeys these rules perfectly, making this right living or wisdom ours through him! I think this is yet another sense in which Christ becomes our wisdom!

1 Cor 1:28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are,
29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,
31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

As is wisdom, so the same is for righteousness. In deuteronomy 6 Moses says that if they obey the word of thenLord then it will be their righteousness in the land. Again, we know the punch line: they, like us, are unable to obey for righteousness. We need another’s. The powerful verse again in 1 Cor says that God makes Christ become that for us! This is great news!

Deut 6:20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’
21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
22 And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes.
23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers.
24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day.
25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

Praise God for His infinite wisdom!

A spirit has not flesh and bones. Easter sermon. Luke 24:37-43 – My notes from a Tim Keller sermon. iTunes

(admittedly a corny, un-manly picture to post, but maybe it conveys “being still at home”??!?)

Intro. This passage is where Jesus eats fish with the desciples after he is raised from being dead. If he we just spirit after he was raised, why did he eat and have flesh and bones? Answer. He was more than spirit. He was in the resurrected body.

The big idea: the message of easter is that Christ does indeed have flesh and bones now. So what diffence does the resurrection make?

Point one. The resurrection says something to your mind. It changes the way you think.

If Christ has flesh and bones then he IS Lord. He conquered death.

Point two. The resurrection says something to your will. It changes the way you live.

We have a new way to relate to the world. The material world matters. We won’t miss out on anything here on earth nor sacrifice anything really because we will experience it more fully and more deeply in the new heaven and new earth. That heaven will be a meterial world. It also makes thepoint that this world is worth fighting for.

Point three. The resurrection says something to your heart. It changes the way you feel.

The message of Christ’s bodily return and eating with them is that we can HAVE him. He says, “touch me.”

Why have we lost where Jesus’ tomb is? The early believers did not think it important where the tomb was because they now had him alive with them. It is kinda like when you have your child at home, their room is not special the way that it is when they go off to college. That is because you have him. In a real way, these new believers had Jesus and his spirit (when he left for heaven) in such a tangible way that his tomb was not special. He was like the son who was still at home in his room!

IX. The Sermon: Urgency and Unbelief. John 12:27-43 – Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church

Intro. Why is there urgency in Jesus’ voice. It is not because he lacks patience or doesn’t trust his father. It is because of our unbelief that he is urgent.

The big idea: In an environment of unbelief, misunderstanding, and in the face of the cross, Jesus trusts wholly in the will of God.

Point one. Trust in the One in whom Jesus trusts.

V 27 is a cry followed by two questions. Jesus says his soul is now troubled. Why? Because Jesus being God AND man knows what awaits him at the cross: the pain, the misjustice, and ultimately the separation from his father. When God the father lays the sin of us on him when Jesus is on the cross, Jesus knows that he will be separated from God for the first and only time in all eternity. This is broken-hearted separation from God, the separation people have when they are in hell.

His two questions balance this picture of Jesus. “What shall I say, father, save me from this hour? No, I came for this VERY purpose to die.”

Point two. Judgment and victory are certain through God’s paradox.

V31-32. It has been said that a paradox is truth standing on its head so we can’t miss it. Jesus is going to conquer Satan and get victory BUT the paradox is that it comes through his own death. Victory will come through Jesus’ suffering.

V32. When Jesus is lifted up, he says he will draw all men to himself. It does not mean all people without exception but all people without distinction. He does not just love the Jews. He loves all people groups.

Point three. Know and trust that God’s plan will come together.

V37 is John’s commentary on the events. The people still do not believe though they saw the miracles. In vs 39 then John quotes Isaiah 53 and Isaoah 6. They don’t believe the miracles, because they can’t believe. V47 John tells us that when Isaiah sees the vision of God as he recounts in the book of Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah was really beholding Christ in his glory. All of this is according to God’s plan. He is not saying that he hopes peole will believe the miracles of his son. Tragically, they could not believe.

Point four. Don’t become a tragic aside.

V42-43. There is an interesting word, “nevertheless.” God still has his remnant believing. Nicodemus did believe as did Joseph of Aramathea. These men were top, ruling Jews, who believed and then buried the body of Jesus.

It says, however, these people went on continually not confessing the truth about Christ. Men want to be respected, particularly in their place of work. Women want to be loved. May we not live at the office as these who continually are not confessing Christ, because we love the glory that comes from man rather than the glory that comes from God.

The passage. John 12
27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.
36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” The Unbelief of the People When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.

37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him,

38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.

42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;
43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God

Work is blessed by God, even BEFORE the fall in the garden of Eden.

Photo: my good friend Stephen from Uganda, 2011 (red hat)

As we all work hard, this verse is a beautiful reminder of WHY we work!

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Longing for our true, real inheritance!

Sin as predator. Cain and Abel. Genesis 4 – My notes from a Tim Keller sermon. iTunes

Intro. The question for this sermon series is what is wrong with us? One of the things wrong with us is that we underestimate our enemy sin. It is like in Terminator 1 where people continually underestimate the power of the terminator.

The big idea: We learn three things about sin in Genesis 4:7.

Passage: “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Point one. Sin hides itself – it coils like a snake.
It is like a crouching lion – it always looks smaller than it really is.

Point two. Sin is powerful – its desire is for you.
Sin is not only wrong it is stupid and against the grain of the universe. The lier is lied to. The deceived is deceived.

Abel’s offering is not a sin offering, but it is an offering like a wedding ring: a token of giving all of your self to someone else. 1 John 3:12 says in contrast that Cain’s offering was half-hearted.

In a biography of FDR, it is noted that WWII changed his mind about the belief of goodness in everyone. We want to believe that terror is only in the monsters and not in ordinary people. The holocost revealed what ordinary people were capable of in carrying out orders of crimes against humanity.

Point three. What is the hope for the defeat of sin?
In this passage we see that God is the one pursuing Cain. He tells him he is not the victim. He says Cain’ problem is not Abel but what is inside of Cain. Cain is a lesson to us that we are misserable not because of what has happened to us but how we choose to respond to what has happened to us. If sin is your problem, you can master it. But if Cain believes in error that Abel was really his problem, then he thought he had to kill him to fix his problem. Sin is our problem, not our spouse, our kids, our work, etc.

Again, God pursues Cain in mercy to repentance by asking where is Abel. God led Cain to the pool of Abel’s blood because he did not repent.

The New Testament says that Jesus is the ultimate Abel. How so? Hebrews 12:24 says “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” Abel’s blood cried out to God for vengeance and justice. Cain should not have killed him. Jesus’ blood cries out grace and mercy. In the pool of the blood of Jesus, God gets justice AND the pool cries out MERCY, GRACE. This is a better pool of blood that cries out a better message.

The good news for us is that as followers of Christ, God is not looking for a second payment crying out from the pool of blood. Our sin has received the payment it should have received in justice. There is no payment left!

Everyone has the mark of Cain on them: God’s patience driving us to repentance.

Christ was devoured by our sin that crouched for him so that we do not have to live in sin!

The justice of God Psalm 146:1-10 – My notes from a Tim Keller sermon. iTunes

Photo. Stu Kerns, hiking, somewhere cool. 2011 fb.

Intro. One of the attributes of God is justice. Christians may cause oppression in their sinful choices but God is not oppressive and is perfectly just. Micah 6:8. To live humbly before God is to walk in justice. This is what it means to be a follower of God.

The big idea: God is a God of justice, and because of his mercy to us sinners in Christ, causes us to live justly.

Point one. The life of justice
Justice is the Hebrew word “mishpot”. Justice means to give people their due. One part is negative (stop and punish wrong) and one side is positive (give the oppressed, the weak, the vulnerable their due). Who are the poor? The poor includes the quartet of the volnerable: the widow, the orphan, the immigrant, and the poor.

Job 31. Ignoring the poor is unjust just like oppressing the poor.

Vs7-9. Doing justice is feeding the hungry, working with the sick and blind, counseling the mentally burdened, helping the immigrant. This sounds like a liberal agenda. However, the Bible does not fit into our categories of liberal (ie. feed the poor) and conservative (ie. forgive others and sex is only for marriage). It is in its own category all by itself.

We have to live a life of justice.

Point two. The God of justice
Deuteronomy 10. God loves to use his power to defend the weak and powerless. This is how God introduces himself like on his business card. Notice that other gods are there to help the kings and wealthy but not the poor. For example, look at Naaman’s understanding of God. He comes to buy his healing of leprosy.

Point three. How to live a life of justice before God?
This psalm is not just telling us about the God of justice, but it is a worship song deep in the psalmist’s heart. What captures your imagination is what you praise and worship. As a result, you are shaped from the inside out. He is using his mind and memory to kindle his emotions about God.

The problem: it is one thing to get excited about a God of love and grace – but a God of justice? Jesus’ sermon on the mount is about living justly, and it scares us. We are not good at living justly. We are not loving of our neighbor as ourself. How can we love a God of justice when we know that his justice should whack us for not living justly?

How can the Lord stand by me as this Psalm says?

Luke 4 quotes Isaiah 61 in Jesus’ first sermon. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me to do justice, Jesus says. However, he stops at quoting thus passage through the part of the year of the Lord’s favor and does not read through the part of the vengeance of our God. Why did Jesus stop mid verse? He stopped because He did not come to bring the vengeance of God – he came to BEAR the vengeance of God. Jesus did not just stand by us. He stood FOR us when he went to the cross.

James 2 says if you have faith but ignore the needs of others, you have dead faith. If you have real faith, you will not be able to ignore the poor because you see that that is how you used to be spiritiually – utterly broke.

We are the perpetrators of injustice before God for all that he has done and given us. How do we humbly do justice? Bold humility. We are so unjust that Jesus had to die for us in our place to take care of God’s perfect justice. Also, we are so loved that we have been died for that we can now take this beautiful message of justice out in a whinsome and powerful way.