Scary Reading in the Dark

Just the other day as I was reading Psalm 119, I was struck by fear. It wasn’t the global fear of God caused by his greatness, holiness, and power but the sort of fear that is followed by the words: “oh, my…did I just read that?” Have you ever had moments like this? It was a moment of revelation.

It was late and I was reading in bed with a small flashlight. My book light is broken and I was trying not to bother Maria as she slept, so I fumbled around awkwardly while trying to read the small words on the page. That night, by accident, I found that reading the Bible at night in the dark with a flashlight is a fantastic way to read the word of God. Something about the darkness and spot light adds a unique quiet focus. I had been reading Psalm 119 during the week before, but this particular time I was hit straight in the head when I reached verse 67:

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.”

The word afflicted jumped off the page at me. So, I read it again. Before I was afflicted I went astray. Yikes, before I was afflicted? But now I keep your word. I know that as a Christian we should expect affliction, but this was like a neon sign saying, “You will be afflicted.” God wants me to keep his word and commandments, but the author made it clear that he could not keep them until after he was afflicted. He learned something during his affliction that changed him. This is not comforting in a worldly sense. Who would want to learn this lesson? My mind immediately shot to Hebrews chapter 12 and the description of how a father will chastise and discipline his son if he loves him. Better yet, the father disciplines his son because it is the best thing for him and seems painful but later yields good fruit. (Hebrews 12:3-11) I think of my own pitiful weak parenting and see this truth materialize everyday.

The thought of affliction is a very scary thought for me. When I read affliction I see visions of death, pain, loss, misery, and physical and emotional struggles. My wife and I recently went through a bout of affliction at the beginning of 2009 and my heart is still recovering from the wounds. Several tragic things happened in a span of a few weeks. First, my father-in-law passed away and although it was not a surprise, due to his health, it has been terribly sad. Then a major part of our business started to crumble beneath us, which led to me parting ways with a business partner and dear friend of mine of many years. Finally, to top off the challenging period, our brand new puppy, who was merely twelve weeks old and we brought him home the week following my father-in-laws memorial, suddenly developed a health condition that caused several strokes, blindness, and toxins in his brain. Within forty-eight hours he went from being an adorable puppy that brought great joy into our life to a horribly sick and miserable creature. We had to put him down and face death again eye-to-eye and our frailty face-to-face.

During these days when sadness dominated, I kept remembering a single verse that others I know spoke to themselves during struggles and pain: “You are good and you do good.” I knew this verse was from a Psalm, but I couldn’t remember which one. The truth behind the verse gave me great strength. In a simple sentence, I knew God was good and no matter what happened to me it was good because God was in complete control and it would ultimately work out for my good, as stated in Romans 8:28-30. Regardless of how bad or painful it was at that moment, it was working for the greater good in God’s plan for my life and those around me. I knew this and my entire understanding of who God is, what his character is, and what plans he has for me were all incorporated within this simple disambiguated verse: “you are good and you do good.”

I sat on Psalm 119:67 for several minutes as the last few months flashed before my eyes. I saw the days pass by and even relived many of those feelings in that moment. I read on to gain more understanding of this affliction and the results that came from it. The next verse can be classified under supernatural happenings or as a providential God appointed meeting. I read verse 68:

“You are good and you do good; teach me your statues.”

What! Are you kidding me? This is no exaggeration. I wish I was clever enough to create something like this. The disconnected verse that helped me get through my time of struggle, loss, and sadness mysteriously appears immediately following a verse describing affliction and spiritual growth. This is phenomenal. God is very mysterious, but oh so glorious! I continued to read and found the conclusion to these verses in verse 71:

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statues.”

At this point the verses on discipline come together with Psalm 119. You are good, you do good, and it is good for me. Do I know that these sad events in my life were caused by God as a personal affliction to move me to a new spiritual place? No, I have no idea. I may never know. Do these verses make it any easier to deal with? Yes, it is comforting to hang on to. However, these sad times did move me to a new place and in the end, it was good for me. The view I have of God is a tiny bit clearer now than it was before…before I was afflicted. I’m not sure that am keeping His word or statues any better, but I do have a continually growing affection and desire for God. According to Mark 12:29-30, the scribes ask Jesus what was the most important commandment of all? His answer: “The most important is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”

I find great strength and joy in interpreting Psalm 119:71 like this: It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I might love you will all my, heart, soul, mind, and strength. I don’t want to be afflicted again, obviously, but somehow I just know in my heart that my spiritual maturity is depending on it.

by Keller Hackbusch


Book Recommendations

One Thing
by Sam Storms

This is a fantastic book from beginning to end. Dr. Sam Storms is a passionate guy and i appreciate his writing and preaching very much. This book will stretch the limits of your faith and truly show you that the closer you get to God...the bigger He is. It is worth reading just to get to the last chapters when Storms describes Heaven by describing what it will NOT be. This book is very encouraging.

Dr. Sam Storms:

Enjoying God Ministries: http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/

Book Description by the publisher:

The goal of our creation was not simply that we might be happy but happy in appreciating God's own glory. Not in reviewing our own accomplishments or in the enjoyment of our own sensual appetites. Not in the development of a healthy self esteem or in the acquisition of a four bedroom home with a three car garage. We were made to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Nothing is more important than understanding this truth. This inspiring work helps us see that beauty has the power to convince the inquiring mind of truth. The soul's contact with God's beauty elicits love and forges in us a new affection that no earthly power can overcome. Enjoying God in the revelation of his beauty is the solution to our struggle with sin, the catalyst for substantive and lasting change and is the soul's satisfaction, with which no rival pleasure can hope to compete. So what is it about God that when known and seen and experienced empowers the human soul to feel sickened in the presence of sin and satisfied in the divine embrace? That word again Beauty. Apatheism affects not just those outside the church but those inside the church who can't be bothered with their own religion let alone someone else's.

Faithfulness and Holiness
by J.I. Packer and J.C. Ryle

One great thing about long flights for work is that I can usually read for several hours...unlike my typical week day. Today, i finished a great book. it took me a while to get through it, but it isn't exactly the lightest subject. I do recommend it for anyone interested in spirituality or Christian Theology.

J.I. Packer wrote the first half of the book about the author of the second half of the book J.C. Ryle. Ryle is a late 1800's early 1900's British Anglican bishop from Liverpool. Packer does a great job giving a brief synopsis of Ryle's life leading up to the book Holiness by J.C. Ryle.

Ryle's life is very interesting...he went from total wealth and privilage to complete poverty overnight when his dad's business (banking) went bankrupt. Ryle was a pretty hard dude, but a wonderful writer and communicator of tough subjects.

The book Holiness is all about the element of holiness in the Christians life. His chapters deal with: Sin, Justification vs. Sanctification, What is Holiness and why is it important, The Fight of Faith and the spiritual warfare, The Cost of the Christian Life, Spiritual Growth, and the Assurances of Your Faith. Its cool stuff.


Christ Died for God

Christ Died for God

By Akash Sant Singh

Associate Pastor of Community Bible Church (Reno, NV)


What were we saved from?

Our sins?




The sting of death?


But those pale in comparison with this profound reality: on the cross, God through Christ saved us from Himself. That’s right – God through Christ saved us from Himself. From His wrath, His holiness, His justice. And Because Jesus Christ fully satisfied God (propitiation) on the cross as our Divine Substitute, we need to never fear of eternal judgment, condemnation, wrath or punishment for our sins. The penalty of our sins have been fully quenched in the once for all vicarious penal substitutionary sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the Good News of the gospel beloved.

God treated Christ on the cross as if He lived our life, so that we by grace through faith in Him, can be treated as if we lived His life (2 Cor. 5:21). He was clothed with our sin (thought sinless and holy); so that we might be clothed with His righteousness (though are sinners and sinful). That is the great doctrine of imputation.

When the fullness of that wrath was embraced by Jesus on the cross He cried out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me?" Some commentators think that at this point on the cross that God simply turned His back on His Son in shame for He could not look on sin. That that was the forsaking. That represents a very shallow, sentimental view of what our Lord endured on the cross - but I submit to you, is thoroughly unbiblical.

Where does this view come from? This belief stems from inaccurate rendering of a verse in Habakkuk 1:13 where the prophet says,

“Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor. Why dost Thou look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why art Thou silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” (NASB).

Notice, it isn’t that God cannot look on sin; but He cannot look on sin with favor. Consider these verses:

Jeremiah 16:17 "For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity concealed from My eyes."

Proverbs 15:3 "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good."

The Lord “sees” all things continually – including our sin. Nothing is hidden from His sight (Heb. 4:12-16). So the forsaking of Jesus on the cross by the Father couldn’t have been a simple turning away of the eyes of God from His Son because He cannot look on sin.

His holiness demanded a sacrifice; His justice demanded satisfaction; His righteousness required perfection. God had to be satisfied before we as sinners could be justified!

Therefore, Jesus was, as Hebrews 2:17 says,

"that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people" (emphasis mine).

That phrase "in things pertaining to God" in the Greek is: pros ton theon. It means "face to face with God"; and this occured on the cross. Don't miss this amazing picture of redemption: the Son faced the Father from the cross; and the Father faced His Son on the cross; and He poured out upon Him the eternal wrath that we deserve in hell forever. "Amazing love how can it be..."

Christ was absolutely forsaken; He bore our sin, its guilt, penalty, and shame. And He bore the wrath of God that burns against us. He drank the cup of wrath; He became the curse for us; he endured the shame of the cross for the joy set before Him; He was bruised, crushed, chastined for our iniquities. Once again beloved... hear this today: the Father faced the Son on the cross; and the Son faced the Father from the cross; and He “bore God’s wrath—all of it” as our divine Substitute in His once for all propitiatory sacrifice on the cross for His own.

The death of Christ was both a propitiation AND an expiation of sin. Propitiation refers to the turning away of wrath by an offering. God's wrath was satisfied and His justice meted out by Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on the cross. Expiation refers to covering sins and in specific, the guilt of sin. By the vicarious penal substitutionary atonement of Christ Jesus on the cross, our sins and their penalty are removed from us. The atonement satisfies both the demands of the Father and the needs of Christ's people (1 Pet. 1:2).

As C.H. Spurgeon can only say:

"When Jesus gave himself for us, he gave us all the rights and privileges which went with himself; so that now, although as eternal God, he has essential rights to which no creature may venture to pretend, yet as Jesus, the Mediator, the federal head of the covenant of grace, he has no heritage apart from us. All the glorious consequences of his obedience unto death are the joint riches of all who are in him, and on whose behalf he accomplished the divine will. See, he enters into glory, but not for himself alone, for it is written, "Whither the Forerunner is for us entered." Heb. 6:20. Does he stand in the presence of God?-"He appears in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:24.

Can we now say with confidence this day with Paul himself: "If God be for us... who can be against us?"

Aren't we grateful to the Lord this day that He has not "rewarded us according to our sin, nor dealt with us according to our iniquity?" (Psalm 103:10). In Christ all our "sins are forgiven for His name's sake" (1 John 2:12); He has "forgiven us all our transgressions" (Col. 2:13). And if all our sins are forgiven by Him, can we not forgive the purposed wrongs that others do against us?

Christian, God for Christ's sake forgave us; we for Christ's sake must forgive each other. Remember, the measure of our love is the extent of our ability to forgive! (1 Jn. 2:12; Col. 2:12ff)


Divine Appointment - Part 3

…Continued from Divine Appointment – Part 2.

(Divine Appointment - Part 1)

Flash forward a couple months again. I recently had a trip to Mesa, AZ for a state airport networking conference and I thought there would be a chance that Dennis would be in attendance. So, I contacted him and told him that if he came I would love to talk adoption. Dennis did come and God worked in a major way again. We connected in the morning and decided that if neither of us had other clients to take out to dinner we’d get together and discuss adoption. Dennis also told me that he brought brochures information on an adoption agency for me, which was awesome.

We did in fact end up going to dinner together to discuss adoption and Dennis also invited another guy who worked for the government and had adopted as well. Surprisingly, there were six total in our dinner party: me, 2 of my employees, Dennis, an employee of Dennis’s and the government guy. Out of the six of us, two had already adopted internationally and two of us were very interested in adopting soon. I was shocked to find out that one of my employees was also planning to adopt. We violated all the rules of business that night by diving head first into the topic of our faith. I had my suspicions and I hoped that Dennis was a Christian and I was excited to find out that Dennis has a deep genuine and powerful faith – as did Dennis’s employee and the government guy. We spent the evening talking about God’s glory through adoption and what God was doing in our lives.

For several hours we discussed their specific experiences and all the options. This meeting was encouraging beyond words. After our excellent dinner – food and conversation – we went our separate ways back to the hotel to turn in since it was getting late. While we were sitting in a restaurant a block away discussing God’s goodness, the majority of the conference folks were partying in the hospitality suite late into the night. As I passed by the hospitality suite on my way to the elevator I was incredibly thankful for God protecting me by keeping me from that part of the conference. It is always difficult to avoid the cocktail parties and late night events at these conferences.

Dennis drove back separately with his co-worker as did I and I took a long time talking with my employees before making our way to the elevator where we surprisingly ended up on the elevator with Dennis. This was a surprise because we’d taken so long getting there. Then, ironically, Dennis was on the same floor as I was. We stepped off the elevator and spent another half hour talking about our faith and our goals as business owners from a Biblical and Godly perspective. This was amazing. We even talked about our mutual desire to preach and attend seminary and our struggle with God’s calling. Dennis had words of wisdom in suggesting that we were both not only the preachers of our families, but also the preachers of our businesses. We both have great ministries right in front of us in our businesses. At the end of this conversation Dennis asked if he could pray for me and my family. He prayed a wonderful prayer of encouragement for our faith, adoption, business, and friendship. As we started walking to our separate rooms, Dennis offered, “tonight was a divine appointment by God.” All I could respond with was, “Amen.”

I was so encouraged by the way God works and how he puts people together. In a strange town at a business event God knitted two of His spiritually adopted children together through a passion and a heart for earthly adoption.

Praise God for His divine appointments. Look for them and be blessed.

Romans 8:28-31

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?


By Keller Hackbusch

Divine Appointment - Part 2

link to Part 1

Previously, in Divine Appointment – Part One, I tried to build some frame work around the idea that God ordains everything that happens in our lives. He ordained what you had for breakfast and that you are reading this right now. Since writing the first part of this topic, I’ve decided that I must add the new post: “Divine Appointment – Appendix”. This new “appendix” post (to be posted next) will be more scripture to enforce this belief.

My fascinating divine appointment went like this…it was actually a series of divine appointments.

My job requires me to attend tradeshow conferences several times a year where I travel to places around the western US to attend classes and network with clients. This networking process is something that I enjoy because I get to know new people who have interesting stories. One person with an interesting story is a civil engineering client I have known for about five years now. I’ll call him Dennis for the purposes of this post. Dennis and his wife have two biological children and two adopted children. I know this information because I did an interview with him for a project in Santa Fe, NM several years ago and we spent most of the day working together. Typically at events like this you get to know each other, but the personal information is limited. Limiting personal information exchange is usually recommended because often people have radically different lives and can completely disagree on important issues. This can and will strain professional relationships.

I have always been taught to not mix work with religion or politics. I’ve never been good at following this rule since I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus Christ and because I am a political junky. I am, however, always careful to not overstep the bounds of professionalism.

During this trip with Dennis years ago, I learned a bit about my associate’s adoption and the process they went through. This was very interesting to me because my wife, Maria, and I have been very open to the idea of adoption since we were dating. I told Dennis that someday I’d like to talk to him about his adoption in more detail.

Flash forward to August of 2009, the scene of a powerful divine appointment. I was sitting in my Pastor’s office just after our weekly men’s prayer group talking about how Maria and I really feel that God is calling us to add to our family. We were talking about getting pregnant, but we have had complications in the past so I was expressing my concerns. He asked a very innocent question: “have you guys ever considered adoption?” Well, of course we had, but not like we are now. I spent the next couple hours in my pastor’s office talking about adoption as a beautiful picture of the gospel – how God adopts us into his family, how he pulls us out of the orphanage of the world and our sin. We watched videos on the together for adoption website (www.togetherforadoption.org) and some others as well as discussion Russell Moore’s new book, Adopted for Life, (www.russellmoore.com) which I took home with me that afternoon. I had never had God speak to me so powerfully in such a wonderful way. My heart was broken and reset on God’s new agenda for me.

I can’t tell the whole story of how God has given us a heart for adoption at this point because it will take up too many inches of blog space. Maybe I’ll post on that another day. I’ll sum it up here simply as Maria and I are now looking into which agency we are going to use to adopt.

Continued in Divine Appointment – Part 3.

by Keller Hackbusch

Painful Numbers

Since I was in engineering school for 7 years and have been working as an engineer in the industry for 14 years now my brain thrives on numbers. I think numbers. It drives people crazy, but you can pretty much break any issue down to pure numbers and quantify the results to make a point. Often, the output of one of these data calculations makes a strong impact. Let me show you what I mean.

Recently I had a conversation with a couple of my friends regarding how often we read our Bibles. The answer all of us commonly give is, “I don’t read enough.” Or, “I wish I could read more.” Or, the worst of all, “I’m just too busy to read the Bible. I can’t find time to fit it in.”

So, we’ve all been there and we all have friends that have been there. Maybe we haven’t just been there, but maybe we are stuck in that rut now! Maybe this blog post is a little painful and these numbers will make it worse. It hurts, but we are in it together.

Let’s take the schedule of a typical week: 7 days full of working, sleeping, eating, driving, etc.

A 7 day week consists of 168 hours, which expands out to 10,080 minutes. Yes, 10,080 minutes…I think you can see where we are going with this.

Let’s now remove the minutes for sleeping, working, and driving since it is pretty hard to read while doing these tasks. Eating doesn’t count since I read while I eat all the time. Typically the average person sleeps 8 hours a day, works 8 hours a day (5 days a week) and drives 1 hour a day. (8*7+8*5+1*7) = 103 hours, this now expands out to 6,180 minutes.

10,080 – 6,180 = 3,900 (65 hours) left over.

So, what are you going to do with your spare 3,900 minutes a week? I’m asking my self the same question.

Can we spend a measly 15 minutes a day (105 minutes a week) reading the Bible and still have over 3700 minutes leftover? Can we spare 15 minutes a day reading the “word” of the glorious, all powerful, omnipotent creator of the universe who is our savior and our refuge who sacrificed himself for our sins and paid the price forever and ever and he who blesses us continually and he who we will spend all eternity worshiping in Heaven? Will we spend a few minutes a day with Him and reading what He has said to us?

Romans 7:12-17

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

by Keller Hackbusch


Pastor Voddie Baucham on Brokenness

When i started this blog I had the goal in mind to encourage the believer and this video clip is just that...encouragement for the believer. When i think of people that encourage me, I think of gifted preachers and authors like John Piper, C.J. Mahaney, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, and Voddie Baucham.

If you have not started reading or listening to Pastor Voddie Baucham yet, you better get going on it.

This video clip is #4 of 6 parts on youtube from a message he gave last year at the True Church Conference at Grace Life Church of the Shoals in Muscle Shoals, AL. You can get the rest of the message there on www.youtube.com. Voddie's message centers around Psalm 51 and how God may have forgiven our sins, but He does not remove the memory of those sins and we are unable to forget the wretchedness that we were. We are then found broken and brokenness is a blessing from God. Voddie describes his own condition:

"I'm not who I aughta be, but hallelujah! I'm not who I was!"

To that, i say Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen! Watch and be encouraged.

Voddie's Ministry Website


Voddie's Church Website:


by Keller Hackbusch