Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
I noticed today in a fresh way a unique parallel of the life of Moses with the life of Christ. I guess I’ve seen it before, but today I saw it in a fresh way. I’m reading through the book of Hebrews right now in my Bible study time – such an awesome book that connects the Old Testament with the newer one. These verses jumped out at me.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin” (Hebrews 11:24-25).
What struck me in a new way was imagining the vast glamour and royalty of the great Egyptian empire that Moses could have been endowed with his entire life. The son of Pharaoh’s daughter. The prince. That’s a pretty important position. One of prestige and honor. A position that anyone in his right mind would take full advantage of. Instead Moses laid it aside in order to suffer the same fate as his Hebrew brothers and sisters – to be one of them.
Sound familiar? Philippians 2:6-7 says speaking of Jesus Christ, “who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave . . .” Christ laid aside the royalty that He was due and counted it as no advantage in order that He might suffer and die for humanity. He laid aside the royal robes of heaven to take up the dusty robes of a carpenter.
And what does this say about me and you? How often do we want our agenda? How many times do we use everything at our disposal to our advantage, no matter how innocent it may seem? How many times do we try to flaunt the robes of what credentials we might have, rather than laying them aside in humility as our Lord did? For me, it's far too often.
Jesus, thank you for the self-humiliation you endured – for your selflessness in laying aside your royalty to suffer as a common criminal, without which, I would still be lost in my sin.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Most of you know by now that my dad suffered a mini-stroke on Tuesday night after preaching a meeting in Charleston, SC. Amazingly, the doctors don't expect any permanent brain damage. It was really scary there for about 4 or 5 hours in the emergency room, but he has fully recovered and all of the tests are coming back normal. Praise the Lord! Thank you all for praying for him and our family.
For those of you who don't know my dad, here's a post that my youngest brother, Jacob, wrote earlier today on our family blog. This should give you some idea of the kind of person Rick Via is and his legacy.
"If I were to attempt to describe all that our dad is, it would be something like this:
My dad is my hero.
He is a man of integrity, who hasn’t used a computer in years and covers the TV with a blanket in a hotel room. He continuously goes out of his way to make sure his heart is guarded. He is completely and utterly committed to practicing spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.
He is patient, kind, and slow to anger. He is a committed husband and dedicated father. He is faithful, trustworthy, and reliable.
He constantly worships his Creator and consistently intercedes for his family.
He is completely selfless and full of humility. He is not prideful in his ministry. He serves the Lord whole-heartedly without remorse. He cares not for the approval of man but for the adoration of God. He is not a celebrity in this culture but a hero in our home.
He is a disciple of Christ and the leader of his family. He is humble in character yet bold in sharing the Gospel.
He is authentic, true to his word, and faithful throughout. He would be the first to admit his mistakes, confess his sins, and make known his imperfections.
He fears the Lord. Serves God. Love his family. Cherishes his wife. Protects his kids. Defends his faith.
He relates to his kids. He communicates his concerns, his passions, and his love clearly and eagerly.
He is disciplined in all he does. He prays continuously. He studies the Word consistently. He takes care of his body enthusiastically.
He provides for his family devotedly. He leads his family spiritually. He protects his family resiliently. And he loves his family fervently.
He serves God faithfully. He worships God authentically. He trusts God expectantly. And he follows God intently.
He is my mentor, my pastor, my accountability partner, and my friend.
He is my hero and my dad.
“The godly man walks with integrity; blessed are his children who follow him.”
Dad, we love you so much and are so thankful for you. You gave us a good scare Tuesday night. But we know that God is in control. Thank you for teaching us that.
Mom, the crazy part is, in light of the above description of Dad, you are his better half. What an amazing wife and mother you are! Seeing you there in the hospital room with dad, the Lord confirmed again just how wonderful you are. I love you mom.
We have some amazing parents. Thank you Lord." - Jacob Via
Monday, October 22, 2007
We've just returned from a rapid-fire weekend of ministry mayhem. We loaded up the fam on Thursday afternoon and headed to Ingleside Baptist Church in Macon, GA for "Break-out Weekend." It was a cool time of hanging out with old friends, making new friends and leading worship for 100 middle school students each jacked up on early adolescent adrenaline, a natural and much more potent form of Red Bull.
My good friend, Fred Broome whom I met while in seminary, is the new middle school pastor at Ingleside, and doing a phenomenal job already. He and his wife Lindsay have 2 kids, Joshua and Anna, both around the ages of Areyna and Ezekiel. Needless to say, the kids had a blast together. And it was great to reconnect with the Broome family. I have a new level of respect for middle school pastors of large churches and I don't envy them in the least bit!!
It was a great trip and the Lord worked in a powerful way as a handful of students accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior.
After leading worship Sunday morning, we immediately hit the road and made it back to Charlotte just in time for rehearsal and run-through at Ridge Church Sunday afternoon. Good times. When we finally got home last night, we crashed. Today we got up late. We went to the park. We fed the ducks. We all took a nap. We all went to the grocery store. And we're about to crash again. I love our ministry!! I love our family. And I love that we get to do this together!!
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I really needed this today. God never fails to bring an appropriate word right when we need it - sometimes we just don't listen for it. Maybe you need this today as well.
"The thought of David's heart at this time was a false thought, because he certainly had no ground for thinking that God's anointing him by Samuel was intended to be left as an empty unmeaning act. On no one occasion had the Lord deserted His servant; he had been placed in perilous positions very often, but not one instance had occurred in which divine interposition had not delivered him. The trials to which he had been exposed had been varied; they had not assumed one form only, but many--yet in every case He who sent the trial had also graciously ordained a way of escape. David could not put his finger upon any entry in his diary, and say of it, "Here is evidence that the Lord will forsake me," for the entire tenor of his past life proved the very reverse. He should have argued from what God had done for him, that God would be his defender still. But is it not just in the same way that we doubt God's help? Is it not mistrust without a cause? Have we ever had the shadow of a reason to doubt our Father's goodness? Have not His lovingkindnesses been marvellous? Has He once failed to justify our trust? Ah, no! our God has not left us at any time. We have had dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; we have been in stern conflicts, but over our head He has held aloft the shield of our defence. We have gone through many trials, but never to our detriment, always to our advantage; and the conclusion from our past experience is, that He who has been with us in six troubles, will not forsake us in the seventh. What we have known of our faithful God, proves that He will keep us to the end. Let us not, then, reason contrary to evidence. How can we ever be so ungenerous as to doubt our God? Lord, throw down the Jezebel of our unbelief, and let the dogs devour it."
—Morning and Evening, October 17, Charles Spurgeon
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
I read Isaiah 59 this morning and the whole chapter just jumped right off the page, especially verse 14. It says, “…truth has stumbled in the public square…” I thought to myself, “Man, this verse has never been more true than it is today.” It speaks profoundly to our culture. All you have to do is walk out the door and you see it everywhere – a culture where truth is relative. A culture of no absolutes. A culture that invites us all to do whatever we want and feel no remorse.
It’s true in the political square. Lying and cheating are inconsequential because after all, “It’s just politics.”
It’s true in the pop-cultural square. Fourth marriage not working out for ya? No big deal. Try another. Or just steal someone else’s spouse.
It’s true among Christians as well. My pastor posted a blog yesterday with a very similar tone. In a recent survey, 85% of Americans claim to be Christians. If that’s true, then we have a serious problem of truth stumbling in the Christian square as well. Because it’s obvious when you turn on the news or venture out onto the typical college campus in America, those 85% are nowhere to be found.
Last night Tasha and I heard the perfect commentary on this. Flipping through the television channels we came across a behind the scenes look at Fox’s top-rated “Prison Break.” We used to be big fans until this season. Now, the creators have stretched the plot so thin that it’s just dumb. But anyway, Wentworth Miller who plays Michael Scofield, one of the main actors, was being interviewed and was asked the question, “What do you like most about acting?” In a nutshell his response was something to the effect that since he grew up in a home that was pretty “straight-laced” he enjoyed the opportunity that acting brings along to “act inappropriately.” In other words, he thought it was cool that he could do whatever he wanted in front of a camera, in a manner of speaking, and not be held accountable for it. Bingo. There’s no question in my mind that that’s the cultural condition that we find ourselves in today. It’s the “in front of a camera” mentality that I can do whatever I want and feel no remorse or sense of accountability for my actions. And that goes for the Christian community as well, all 85% (yea right)!
No wonder most of us, as Geoffrey talked about last night at Southbrook, hate to pray. Because we don’t feel God’s presence. Verse 2 of Isaiah 59 says something about this too. “But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.” I actually think God cringes when we teach our children that God always hears our prayers. Because that's really not what the Bible teaches. Not when we’ve built up barriers of sin. Not when we’ve constructed our giant wall ‘o crap between us and the Living God of the universe. And I’m as guilty as anybody.
The cultural milieu in which we find ourselves (as truth stumbles all over the place) has yet to see a generation of God-fearing individuals rise up and take their place – rise up to steady wobbling truth in the marketplace – rise up with true grit and purposeful solidarity declaring that Jesus is the only Way, the only Truth and the only Life.
God, give us a generation like that.
“Heavenly glory has found it’s place on earth and in our hearts
To conceive this holy passion
That we could start to love the world as You do.
Spirit move and let us journey with You
To return this generation to God it’s Maker and King
River flow to replenish dusty ground
To return this generation to God it’s Maker and King . . .” - lyrics from “Return” by Andy Cherry
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
The Southbrook Church Return Worship CD release was over the top! It was amazing! The CD turned out better than any of us could have imagined. You can order it online here. The community of all involved in the project is second to none. Tasha and I feel so blessed to be just a small part of it. Our pastor, Rob Singleton, has some great pics from the weekend on his blog.
The weekend worship set consisted of all original worship songs from the Return CD - songs that are becoming anthems at Southbrook Church.
1. New in Him (Andy Cherry, performed by Gal Friday)
2. How Great Thou Art (Gal Friday)
3. King on His Way (Josh Via)
4. Sanctify (Josh Via, Dan Rutty, Andy Cherry)
5. Pour (Dan Rutty)
6. True Vine (Andy Cherry)
7. Your Love Does No Wrong (Andy Cherry)
8. Return (Andy Cherry)
Monday, October 01, 2007
[My younger brother, Smooth, recently found himself in some difficult and overwhelming circumstances where he was forced to work out his own “theology of discipline.” Below are some of his conclusions that I thought everyone out there in the blogosphere might benefit from, especially you parents. He gave me his permission.]
"Let me first preface all of this by saying that we (my wife Kelly and I) are not perfect. We do make mistakes, but I can honestly say that neither of us have ever practiced corporeal punishment while angry. If ever I am angry or overly frustrated with Cana (our 2-year old daughter) for something she has done, we use time out. In fact, time out is the primary form of punishment and discipline that we use. We do believe, however, that there are some situations that call for corporeal punishment. We are also not necessarily criticizing other views. But this is the one we have chosen as we have sought God on it.
"We have chosen this view not just because it works but also because we believe it is biblical. So our beliefs about child rearing are very much rooted in our theology – our beliefs about God, who He is, and what He requires. In the Old Testament, the concept of discipline is closely tied with correction and instruction. It is not just for mere punishment, but when you discipline someone the idea is to correct wrongdoing and instruct them in the way that is right. In the New Testament, the literal meaning of correction is to set upright. The idea is that correcting someone is actually the setting upright of something that has fallen. Furthermore, the word is used in the sense of making someone conform to a standard. You see, as human beings we bear the image of God (imago dei - Gen 1:26). Among other things, I believe this means that God has created human beings to reflect his image and his workings in everyday things. In other words, many of the things God requires us to do as his people act as analogies of a grander scheme. For instance, the New Testament tells us that the marriage relationship is a reflection of Christ’s relationship to the Church.
"Okay, so what does any of this have to do with corporeal punishment? God has held humankind to a standard. That standard is perfection. God is perfect and expects people to be perfect (Matt. 5:48). Obviously, no one can reach this standard, which is why Scripture says that 'all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard' (Rom. 3:23). That’s why Jesus came. He lived perfectly according to that standard and then died a death He didn’t deserve. Since He had no sin to pay for, He was paying the penalty for our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Now those who accept the gift that Christ gave us become children of God and heirs of his inheritance: eternal life (Rom. 8:17,Gal. 3:26). As God’s children we now strive to live according to God’s standards not to gain favor with Him, but because we love Him. Likewise, God seeks to help us live according to those standards because it is what is just and it is what is best. He does so by correcting us, instructing us, disciplining us. You see, it’s not about punishment, or inflicting pain. It is about setting upright someone who has fallen, and helping us conform to his standard.
"Therefore, our purpose as parents when we discipline our children is not simply about punishment. In discipline, our job as parents is to properly reflect the image of a loving God who lovingly corrects his children. This idea is supported by Scripture. Deuteronomy 8:5 states that 'as a man disciplines his son, so God disciplines you.' So we have set up standards that we believe are biblical standards, and whenever our children fall short of these standards our job is to lovingly discipline them, correct them, and instruct them in the way that is right. That is why whenever we discipline Cana with corporeal punishment or timeout or whatever, we always have a discussion with her about why she is being disciplined and what she should do to avoid being punished in the future. We are not just punishing her; we are correcting her and instructing her. We are not disciplining her because we are the boss and she is not, but because this is the standard set up by God, and we properly reflect the divine work of God when we do. God disciplines us because he loves us (Prov. 3:12, Rev. 3:19), and we discipline our children because we love them.
"That being said, our next step was to look to Scripture in order to see how that discipline ought to be carried out. In the much quoted passage Proverbs 13:24, Scripture tells us that 'he who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.' The word rod here is the rod of remedial punishment. It does not mean that one must punish his children with an actual rod, but does mean firm corporeal punishment. In fact, the parent who refrains from this type of discipline actually hates his child because verses 14-18 have already revealed that the end of this path is death, social ruin, public exposure, calamity, and shameful poverty. Therefore, if a parent turns his back on his child by not firmly disciplining him, he must really hate him because he is potentially sending his child down this path. Hebrews 12:7 tells us to 'endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you like sons.' So it would seem that hardship is God’s form of physical discipline. Prov. 22:15 reveals that 'folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.' You might think that we are being irresponsible by practicing corporeal punishment, but according to Scripture we are irresponsible if we do not."