Life Theology

Dwelling With God through the Gospel

I am not very old. But with each passing week (more accurately, with each passing failure) I am reminded more and more of how I need the gospel. The gospel is my only hope.  Without the gospel, I would be damned.

This morning I read Psalm 91, and I focused on verses 1-2. The Psalmist writes, “He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'”

When I read words like “dwells” and “abide” my mind ponders what it means to be in the presence of God.  Jesus said, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:6).  Jesus is my life-source. If I trust in him, I will grow. If not, I will die.  Jesus says, “To dwell or abide with God–to be in his presence–is to be connected to me in a saving way, a way that declares me as your refuge and fortress.”

But there is a problem. The problem does not exist outside of me–in my circumstances or trials or enemies or annoyances. That is what I want to believe.  But really, the problem exists inside of me–in my pride, rebellion, self-righteousness, and a thousand other things the Bible calls sin. My sin keeps me from dwelling with God. My sin keeps me from experiencing God’s presence in a harmonious, perfect, continuous way even as a Christian. And there is only one solution.

The gospel.

The gospel tells me that though I am wretched and vile and unworthy of a holy God’s actual and real presence in my life, it is provided for me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is also called Emmanuel, which means God with us. He is the presence of God in the flesh: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14a).  Jesus bore the wrath of God, taking our punishment and undergoing separation from God’s presence on the cross in order that we might have relationship with God. This only comes through faith in Jesus as the sacrifice for our sin, so that we would no longer be enemies with God, for enemies are not welcome in God’s presence (Rom. 3:23; 5:8, 10).

This is not just for unbelievers.  This is for Christians.  If you want to experience God’s presence (albeit not perfectly on this side of eternity) you must continually preach the gospel to yourself. You must realize that your sin is your greatest hindrance to being near God. You must take that sin to the cross, lay it on Jesus, and despair of any merit to dwelling with God. This happens by grace, and when it happens, it is a sweet thing.


Happy Anniversary to My Wife

On January 16, Carly and I celebrated our first anniversary as a married couple. We spent the weekend in Kansas City. We probably could have done the same things in Omaha that we did in KC, but it was much more fun to drive for three hours together, get away from our “world,” and relax in a hotel because we didn’t have to clean up, make breakfast, or fix the bed.

It was a year filled with laughter, tears, triumphs, arguments, romantic moments, and a huge learning curve. To date, it was the best year of my life because I went through it with my best friend, my wife.  Carly, I love you more than any blog post can express. Thank you for loving Jesus, for loving me, for sharpening my character, and challenging me to be a godly man.

I don’t deserve you. That’s why I’m thankful for grace.



Happy Birthday, Carly!

Today is my fiancee’s 23rd birthday.  Here are 23 reasons why I’m thankful for her.

  1. She loves Jesus.
  2. She wants to be a mother of a lot of kids, and wants to adopt international children.
  3. She quiet and gentle, which is pretty much the opposite of me.
  4. She trusts me (and wants me) to lead our family well and be a courageous husband and father.
  5. She likes to cuddle and watch movies.
  6. She works hard every day at a job that could be quite intimidating.
  7. She is absolutely, physically gorgeous.
  8. She laughs at my jokes even if they aren’t funny just to make me feel good about myself.
  9. She was confident enough to say yes to dating me even though I was leaving for Africa.
  10. She said yes to marrying me even though I was leaving for Africa.
  11. She is continually patient and gracious with me when I am hard to love and don’t deserve it.
  12. She has been amazing in planning our wedding while I’ve been gone.
  13. She wants me to follow the Lord’s call to the pastorate, trusting him despite the trials it may bring.
  14. She’s more concerned about helping me become a godly man than hurting my feelings.
  15. She isn’t concerned with a six-digit income, a large house, an expensive car, fame, or status.
  16. She puts up with my long monologues because I’m too verbose to say something in less than 5 minutes.
  17. She is not satisfied with mediocrity.
  18. She is very laid back and likes when I take charge and make decisions.
  19. She loves summer and hates winter…but loves Christmas, which is awesome.
  20. She doesn’t blog or Twitter like I do.  (I couldn’t imagine two social networking junkies in one house.)
  21. She has traveled internationally and knows about and loves other cultures.
  22. She loves missions and wants to give money for the sake of the gospel.
  23. She loves me and wants to be my wife.

I love you, Carly!


Powlison on Marital Intimacy

CCEF has provided video interviews with biblical counselor David Powlison on questions about marital intimacy: