An Update from Kenya

Here is the latest update that I have received from my friend Travis who is a missionary in Kenya:

Hello to all,
  I just wanted to give you an update on the current situation. This morning as i woke up and went out my door i saw my 5th and final worker standing there, he had made it. I wanted to cry and hug him but we did the normal Kenyan hand shake and went on to hear his stories. It is great to have him back and that he made it safely. Over the last month he has slept many nights in the bushes and not at normal times. Most of the times it was naps from 2-4 am. He was taken out of his house one time and forced to go and fight. He was given a bow and arrows but he said i just shot at peoples feet i did not kill anyone. He also said that he was always looking for a way to run and hide in the bushes while going to fight. Luckily he said ” I was not forced to burn any houses” . His name is ****  and he was in Nakuru, where his family is still staying. It was so expensive for him to get here he did not have enough for everyone. The good news is they are not hurting women and children. Things in the past couple of days have settled down in Nakuru , his children went back to school monday. He looked a little skinny and famished but very relieved to be here. On his trip here he said there were places he wondered if he would be drug out of the bus and killed but the Lord protected him.

All of my guys have there stories. Another one named ******* had to walk 4 hours through the forest to get to a safe place to get a ride back to here. He made it and is happy to be back as well. He to was taken and forced to fight. He said they would come and say why are you sitting here while your tribe is fighting , you come and fight or you will die.

As for us we made a trip into Nairobi Tuesday morning and planned to be there a week. We had some dear friends who were coming to see us Friday the 1st and my dad was leaving monday the 4th. Our dear friends have had to cancel with security being how it is currently and my dad had to leave us a week early. We came back the next day with enough food to last us 3 months. While shopping for the food Laura and Almi ( Wife of our partner missionaries) along with my dad were locked inside the food store as rival gangs met right in front of the store with shovels and long boards. Jon and I were trying to get money about 8 miles away . While sitting there we were hearing gun shots right across the road in the slums.

We are very thankful to have made it back to the Mara it is very peaceful here and i am planning on having a goat roast tomorrow to celebrate the return of all my guys.This will be fun. Pray for my guys who i love dearly as some of my best friends and pray for there families and that the Lord will watch over them and protect them.
  Pray for Kenya there is a lot of dis-placed people and a lot who have lost what little they might have had. Pray for us as we minister to those around us in this healing process. We thank you all who pray for us and who give to us so generously.
  In Christ,
  Travis

This is definitely a matter that we can continue to be praying for.

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Romans 9:6-13: Question #1

Understanding of the phrase “God’s purpose according to His choice” is critical to a proper understanding of Romans 9:6-13.  Regarding this phrase, there are two questions that must be addressed. 

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

First, what is meant by “God’s purpose?”  A close reading of verses 11-13 will reveal that in the example of Jacob and Esau God purposed to freely elect apart from man’s actions.  Paul reminds his readers that although they “were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad… it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.'”  The intention of this election of Jacob over Esau was “that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls….”[1]  God used this election of Jacob over Esau to uphold His purpose, a purpose which Piper views as being defined by the phrase according to election.[2]  Thus, “God’s purpose [is] an electing purpose, a purpose to be one who selects on the basis described in 9:11 and 9:12ab, namely freely, with no constraints from or ground in human distinctive.  In short God’s purpose is to be free from all human influences in the election he performs.”[3]


[1]The ἵνα clause + subjunctive should probably be seen as a purpose clause, however it could also be seen as a result clause; the difference between the two is not substantial. [2]Piper, The Justification of God: an Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23, 53. 

[3]Ibid., 53.

Romans 9:6-13: Preliminary Thoughts

 Romans 9-11[1] has been the subject of great scrutiny throughout Church history.  This segment of Scripture comes at a rather unexpected time in Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  In chapters 1-8 Paul articulates the glorious nature of the Gospel of Christ beginning with man’s sin and culminating with the assurance of the love of God.  Then, beginning in chapter 9 and moving all the way through chapter 11, Paul turns his attention to God’s dealings with Israel.  This abrupt change in Paul’s subject matter seems to indicate a discontinuity between this section and the rest of the epistle.  As Morris has pointed out, “There is no connective to link this passage with the preceding passage and chapter 12 would follow on quite acceptably.”[2]  However, a closer look at chapters 1-8 reveals that Paul has created several unresolved issues that he must deal with in chapters 9-11.  Thus, Murray points out that “this part of the epistle is seen to bring to climactic vindication the thesis stated in 1:16, 17 and correlative doctrines unfolded later in chapters 1 to 8.  If this section of the epistle were absent, there would be a hiatus leaving us with unanswered questions and the corresponding perplexity.”[3]  Specifically, Paul must explain Israel’s rejection of Christ (9:1-5) in light of the doctrines he previously presented.  His conclusion is that despite the rejection of Christ by Israel, the word of God has not failed (9:6).  Consequently, the purpose of 9:6b – 13 is to prove that the word of God has not failed.           

A pivotal piece of Paul’s argument is found in 9:11 where he argues that Jacob was chosen over Esau “so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand….”  By saying that God’s purpose “would stand” Paul is positively restating that “the word of God has not failed.” As Piper correctly observes, “the remaining of God’s electing purpose is the opposite of the falling of God’s word.”[4]  For this reason a proper understanding of the phrase “God’s purpose according to His choice” is critical to a proper understanding of Romans 9:6-13.  Regarding this phrase, there are two questions that must be addressed.  First, what is meant by “God’s purpose?” Second, what kind of election is Paul talking about in these verse.  These two questions will be the focus of our attention as we attempt to delve into this passage in the future. 


[1]Unless otherwise noted all Scripture references are taken from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update(LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).[2]Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans(Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), 346.

[3]John Murray, The Epistle to the Romans(Grand Rapids, MI.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), xiv.

[4]John Piper, The Justification of God: an Exegetical and Theological Study of Romans 9:1-23 (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Books, 1993), 49.

Romans 9:6-13 (intro)

Last semester I had the opportunity to write a paper on Romans 9:6-13 and the nature of God’s election. It was a project that I benefited from personally, and it is a subject that I would like to work through here on the blog. I have not decided exactly how I am going to present the material (I don’t think that posting a 20 pg. paper on the blog will go over that well), but I think that it is something that I would like to walk through slowly. Let me start with this; here is the passage:

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What are your impressions? What is Paul dealing with? What are the questions that you have?

Quote of the Week

Speaking on the issue of Pastoral giftedness Brian Borgman had this to say:

A natural and conferred ability to be received as a meseenger of God without torturing the discernment of the true people of God. On numerous occasions, in homiletics classes and church services, many have been tested by the well meaning, even zealous man (usually young), who ‘preaches’ his heart out. Everything from the organization, to the flow, to the grammar, to the actual speech patterns have tested the patience of the listeners. One of the indispensible elements of sanctified utterance is the ability to speak in such in such a way that the people of God are not tempted to lie when one asks them how he did.

Brian Borgman
My Heart for thy Cause
(pg. 49)

How Do You Keep Yourself?

In Jude 20-21 it says, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” In this passage there is one command (keep yourselves in the love of God), and then three supporting participial phrases that teach us how to keep ourselves in the love of God (building yourselves up in the holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; and waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life). Yesterday we talked about what it means to keep yourself, today we are going to look at how we do that. Jude has provided us with three practical ways to accomplish his command.
The first practical way that we can keep ourselves is to build upon the foundation of our faith. Jude writes, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith…” When Jude refers to our “most holy faith” he is referring to the “objective body of biblical truth.” It makes a lot of sense that Jude would encourage us to build upon our knowledge of the truth since our fight is for the truth. We need to know the difference between truth and error, and be able recognize idolatrous thoughts.
Let me give you an idea of what this would look like practically. When someone first becomes a Christian there are several things that they must understand. They must understand that they are a sinner, that Jesus has made a sacrifice for their sins, and that they need to submit to Him and seek forgiveness. By understanding these things this person has laid the foundation of the Gospel in their lives. However, if they do not continue to build upon this foundation by studying God’s word then there will be many other aspects of the Christian faith that they will never understand. Consequently, they will not be ready to fight for the faith. This is why, as we prepare to fight for the faith, we must secure our own positions by growing in our knowledge of God’s word.

The second practical way that we can keep ourselves is to pray in the Holy Spirit. Jude writes, “But you, beloved… praying in the Holy Spirit…” If we are going to keep ourselves in the love of God so that we can fight for the faith we must be people who are committed to prayer. Specifically, we must be people who pray in the Holy Spirit. This isn’t talking about speaking in tongues when we pray (as some might teach), but rather it means that our prayers should be consistent with the will of the Holy Spirit. This should be an achievable goal since God’s will has been revealed to us in Scripture, however many times we become so consumed with our own prerogatives that we are unable to practically apply God’s will to specific situation. Thankfully in times like this the Scriptures teach us the Spirit makes up for our own deficiencies by interceding on our behalf before the Father (Romans 8:26-27). So the Holy Spirit is very important in our prayer lives. As we pray we must submit to Him, seek His wisdom, seek His will, and trust in His power as we pray. Praying this way will force us to be more mindful of God’s will and less concerned with our own will. And prayers like these will be used by God to accomplish much in our fight for the faith. In fact, Jesus spoke of this kind of prayer in John 14:14:

“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”

The third practical way that we can keep ourselves is to anxiously expect the return of Jesus. This last step in keeping ourselves in the love of God looks to the future when we will see the ultimate consummation of God’s mercy. Jude writes, “But you beloved… keep yourselves in the Love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” As we seek to live our lives like new creatures created in Christ, Jude reminds us that it is important look forward to the return of Jesus. This is something that we often loose track of in the business of day-to-day life. We usually remember that Jesus has already come into this world once. He came and died on the cross in order to become a saving substitute for the sins of those who would accept him in faith. However, this is not the end of the story. Jesus is coming back a second time. In Matthew 16:27 Jesus said:

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.

This is our great hope as Christians. On that day when Jesus comes back our salvation will be made complete and we will understand His mercy far more than we could ever imagine. On that day – when Jesus comes back – true Christians will be vindicated, and the mockers (2 Peter 3:3-4) will be proved wrong.

When we are anxiously awaiting the return of Jesus it will change the way that we live now. This is why the Bible teaches us so much about Jesus’ return. In 1 John 3:3 John described how this outlook on life will change the way we live in when he said:

Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Our hope in the return of Jesus will have purifying affect on our lives and help us to keep ourselves in the love of God. Speaking to this subject John MacArthur said this:

This is the test of a healthy eschatology: Is your hope a sanctifying influence on your soul? Rather than getting caught up in hype and hysteria about current events and newspaper headlines, are you looking beyond the commotion of this world with the realization that you could soon meet Christ face-to-face, and are you preparing your heart and soul for that day? Instead of despairing, as some do, over how long Christ has delayed His coming, are you filled with hope and expectation? This is the attitude that Scripture calls us to.
  The Second Coming is not supposed to make us stop what we’re doing to wait for the Lord’s return. And neither should it motivate us to focus all our attention to the events of political developments of the world. Instead, it should direct our hearts toward Christ, whose coming we await—and it should prompt us to purify ourselves as He is pure.

This is why we must secure our own position by anxiously awaiting the return of Christ.

What Does It Mean to Keep Yourself?

Scripture makes it clear that our salvation and security rests in the Hands of God.  However there are several places in the Scriptures that seem to indicate responsibility on our part.  For instance, in Jude 20-21, Jude says,

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.”

The question is what does it mean to keep yourself?  In order to answer that let’s look at this verse just a little bit.   

First of all, it is important to understand that there is one command in this passage (keep yourselves in the love of God), and then three supporting participial phrases that teach us how to keep ourselves in the love of God (building yourselves up in the holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit; and waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life). So the key to this passage is Jude’s command to keep ourselves in the love of God. But what does it mean to keep yourself in the love of God? To answer that question we need to start all the way back in verse 1. There Jude referred to Christians as those who are loved and kept by God. So, in verse 21 Jude is commanding us to do the very thing that God is already doing within us. It seems confusing that Jude would give this command, however Jude is simply appealing to our responsibility to respond to God’s work in our life. George Zemek explains this mixture of God’s work and our responsibility to respond to that work in this way:

…What God has done or what He has promised to do becomes the basis and/or the incentive for us to exercise our responsibility… to make progress in holy living.

As God works in our life we have a responsibility to live our lives in a way that is consistent with that work. Let me put it another way using another passage of Scripture as an illustration. In Ephesians 2:8-9 we learn that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Here we see that God has provided a means of salvation through Jesus, and this salvation is a gift. But that is not all that this passage has to say on this issue. Ephesians 2:10 then goes on to tell us what we have been saved unto, or to put it another way, we are being kept for:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

On the one hand we have been saved by God’s grace and we are being kept by God. But at the same time God has saved us to do good works, and so we must work hard to do what God has created us to do. Jesus spoke to this responsibility in John 14:15:

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

Therefore, when Jude tells us to keep ourselves in the love of God he is essentially telling us to live like real Christians.This makes sense because if we are going to fight for the faith then we can’t be like these fake Christians who have snuck into the church (See Jude 3). Instead, we must demonstrate the work that God has done in our lives by glorifying God with our actions. The problem is that we do not always do this; we do not always live like people who have been transformed by the gracious power of God. The truth is that practically speaking there are many areas of our own lives in which we struggle to follow Jesus. It for this reason that Jude has commanded us to keep ourselves in the love of God, In essence Jude is telling us that we must secure our own position before we can go on the offensive in our fight for the faith.