Gospel Fumbles….

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Miami Dolphins fumbles and then recovers the ball after being hit by Tamba Hali #91 of the Kansas City Chiefs on September 21, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Chiefs defeat the Dolphins 34-15. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tamba Hali;Ryan Tannehill
Fumble!!   (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

“FUUUMMMMMBBBBLLLLE!!”

I yelled at the TV screen that hung on the wall. I yelled again as if it would help my team to somehow realize that the pig skin was on the ground and now having heard my yelp, certainly they would be more inclined to jump on the ball.

Continue reading Gospel Fumbles….

Learning Generosity…. From Those Who Have Almost Nothing

Unknown
Tim was so kind to “invite” me into his blog.  This trip is possibly convincing me that I should get on Facebook :)
Tim has provided some wonderful glimpses of what this trip to India India povertyis like.  It is my 5th time here, but the poverty never gets easier to take in.  It’s everywhere; it’s

Continue reading Learning Generosity…. From Those Who Have Almost Nothing

5 Aspects Of Grace That Stand Out For Me Here In India

Again, quick post as I am writing at 2:30 a.m. India time / it is 5:00 p.m. EST.

While, I do desire to post about the mission trip itself, I also think it is important for me to share a few personal items in an effort to give praise to God.  So, here goes…..

There are 5 aspects of grace that I am thanking God for regarding this trip.

Continue reading 5 Aspects Of Grace That Stand Out For Me Here In India

Double Shot of Gospel (Part 2)

notepad and coffee

Would you like a gospel refill?

Yes, Please!

 

By Grace Through Faith And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved

Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV

 

 

“We have an unchanging gospel, which is not today green grass and tomorrow dry hay; but always the abiding truth of the immutable Jehovah.”

C.H. Spurgeon

 

“As the early church fathers delighted in saying, Christ took what was ours so that we might receive what was His.” 

Sinclair Ferguson, In Christ Alone

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

 

“The heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ.”

C.H. Spurgeon

 

“The gospel is not ‘God loves us,’ but ‘God loves us at the cost of his Son.’”

Derek Thomas

 

“Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place. Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins, and the crucifixion of God’s own Son in my place. Also, the gracious love of God, lavished on me because of Christ’s death, is always humbling to remember, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the Hell I deserve.” 
Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians

 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:6-8 ESV

 

“Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that love results from obedience.”

Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

 

“Never lose heart in the power of the gospel. Do not believe that there exists any man, much less any race of men, for whom the gospel is not fitted.”

C.H. Spurgeon

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 ESV

 

“Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching – where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus.”

C.H. Spurgeon

 

“When I begin my train of thought with the gospel, I realize that if God loved me enough to sacrifice His Son’s life for me, then He must be guided by that same love when He speaks His commandments to me. Viewing God’s commands and prohibitions in this light, I can see them for what they really are: friendly signposts from a heavenly Father who is seeking to love me through each directive, so that I might experience His very fullness forever.”
Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians 

“If God does not save men by truth, he certainly will not save them by lies. And if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival.”

C.H. Spurgeon

A Double Shot Of Gospel, Please

coffee beans

It’s what I need. I wake up in the morning and my dry soul must have it. “A double shot of Gospel, please”! Because, I am dull and I forget the glories of what Christ has done for me. Today is a new day in which I am inclined to drift towards my works and efforts. I want to trust in myself. And so…. I need to be reminded of Christ’s work on that cross! The gospel is a double shot for my soul. I need it daily, regular, and often. “Why”, you ask? Because it seems that while I slept last night gospel truths began to lose its grip on me. Like the sand I hold in my hand at the beach, it slips through my fingers.

So, join with me and refresh your soul with the truths of the gospel.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty Copyright © 2001 Thankyou Music

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

1 Timothy 1:15

“If the Lord’s bearing our sin for us is not the gospel, I have no gospel to preach.”

C.H. Spurgeon

“The man who does not glory in the gospel can surely know little of the plague of sin that is within him.

J.C. Ryle

Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.  

Ravi Zacharias 

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…

Romans 1:16 ESV

The best news of the Christian gospel is that the supremely glorious Creator of the universe has acted in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to remove every obstacle between us and himself so that we may find everlasting joy in seeing and savoring his infinite beauty.

John Piper

“If we think the main mission of the church is to improve life in Adam and add a little moral strength to this fading evil age, we have not yet understood the radical condition for which Christ is such a radical solution.” 

Michael Horton, Christless Christianity

The Righteousness of God Through Faith But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Romans 3:21-25 ESV

“If you believe what you like in the gospel, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”

Augustine

 

“The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” 

Timothy Keller

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

Ephesians 5:25-28 ESV

“My work with teenagers has convinced me that one of the main reasons teenagers are not excited by the gospel is that they do not think they need it. Many parents have successfully raised self-righteous little Pharisees. When they look at themselves, they do not see a sinner in desperate need, so they are not grateful for a Savior. Sadly, the same is true of many of their parents.” 

Timothy D. Lane, How People Change

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…

I Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV

“The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.”

Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel

Comfortable In Our Own Skin

zebra-migration

 

Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

You gotta love the apostle Paul! He was comfortable in his own skin, meaning, he knew who he was and what he believed. He knew what he was saved from, he knew his Savior, and he made no excuses for it. Paul did not set out to offend. But, neither did he water down truth… A watered down truth is no longer….truth. Sometimes, truth offends.

So I ask you again: Christian, are you comfortable in your own skin?

What was the result for Paul being true to who he was and what he believed?

It was lashings, periods of time in prison, his friends abandoned him, and so much more.

But, like a beaten boxer, he kept getting back up to be “hit” again.

What drove Paul?

Was he ever tempted to give up the fight and call it a day?

We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,

(1 Corinthians 1:23 ESV)

Paul understood that to some, his preaching of Christ crucified would be a stumbling block or foolishness, and he seemed to be ok with that.

We want a salvation that does not offend my desires, and a Savior who not only accepts me “just as I am” but accepts my ongoing blatant rebellion against Him as well.

Why was Paul ok with preaching the Word that caused stumbling blocks and was viewed to be folly? The next verse tells us why.

but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24 ESV)

Christ crucified was what drove this man. He was a man aware of the death to life reality for himself. Once Saul (persecutor of the church) now Paul (church planter, preacher, evangelist, and inmate).

  • Christ crucified is what he knew.
  • Christ crucified is what landed him in prison
  • Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews
  • Christ crucified was foolishness to the Greeks
  • But that was ok to Paul, because Christ crucified was also the power of God to salvation.

We live in a day where pastors and church leaders are seeking to make God’s Word more palatable. Palatable is good…. isn’t it?  Yes and No.  Yes, because we need to help people understand God’s Word. And no, because we are not at liberty to change or to water down God’s Word to conform to this world.

And this is where we get it wrong. God’s Word calls us to conform to the Word, rather than the Word conforming to the world. Sadly, ours is a day when believers water down the Word to help the Word conform to the world.

When the Word and the World collide, we are to go with the Word!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:1-2 ESV)

3 Reasons why we are conforming more to the world than to the Word.

1.) The desire for growth. So strong is the desire today to be a pastor, or a member, of a large church that compromise soon follows. In the name of adding people, many are willing to compromise God’s Word.

Sure, I want the church to grow just as much as the next guy! However, we have to ask ourselves: Is the addition of people that comes from watering down the truth of God’s Word actual growth?

While it may be growing “our” kingdom, we must consider, is the kind of growth we are experiencing in our churches, growing God’s Kingdom?

I submit to you that if it is built on the world rather than the Word, it is not growing God’s Kingdom.

This is, perhaps, worse than no growth at all?  If we are adding people to a false gospel and to man’s kingdom, are we not serving ourselves rather than God?

People might be added, but not converted.

I often hear: “you can’t argue with success.” Which means, because there are a lot of people attending, God must be blessing the church. How foolish that we define success with a number of people in a room as opposed to what the Bible clearly states.

(For example: Matthew 28:19-20)

2.) Because of fear

Difficult days lie ahead for the church in America. I am afraid that Christians are afraid. We fear people, government, and political correctness more than we fear God. We lust to be accepted and approved by people.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:10 ESV)

Now, that is a man comfortable in his own skin. When preachers toe the line of political correctness, they do so out of fear of man rather than fear of God.

3.) Because we have forgotten

We have forgotten that Christ calls us to “deny ourself, and take up our cross and follow Him.”  We want an easy salvation, one that requires no repentance, no change, and no Savior. Christianity 101 calls us to repent from our sin. The church then is not called to make life more comfortable for us in our sinfulness. The church is a place of repentance and transformation.

And, nothing less than Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection makes this possible!

Unspectacularly Spectacular

autumn-contrast

 

Is your Christianity….Spectacular? NO? Well, why not? Where is your faith? What is wrong with you?

That was the email thread that I was engaged in years ago, and I seem to be re-engaged in of late. And, it is a theme that God seems to be keeping in front of me for much of this past year.

So, here are more questions to help you get the gears moving:

  • Do miracles follow you?
  • Has anyone come up to you in the last week, month, year – heck, has ANYONE EVER come up to you and asked you: “What must I do to be saved?”
  • How is your time in prayer?  Is it daily dynamite?
  • Do you regularly operate in the spectacular gifts of the Spirit?
  • For pastors who are reading this blog…..  Are you just an “average” pastor who is leading an “average” church?
  • Are you slaying the dragon of the flesh in such a way as to be the perfect model of Godliness?
  • Is your salvation story one that grabs everyone’s attention?

See past blog post: To All Those With A Boring Testimony

And the list goes on….  Christianity in our day lusts for the spectacular under every rock. But, what if yours and/or my Christian walk with God is just…. average? What if the spectacular, as we define it, avoids you like the plague? Are we to think we are something of a “lesser” kind of follower of Christ?

2 Quick Examples of UN-spectacular followers of Christ:

1.)  Simeon of Luke 2.

So, tell me…. who is this Simeon guy? What great things can you tell me about him? What has he done for the Christian faith? Did he write scripture, or heal a blind man, or perhaps he preached and 1,000’s came to saving faith? Surely, he did something spectacular to make his way into the Word of God.

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God…..”

(Luke 2:25-28 ESV)

That’s it?!?

This is all we have on this guy Simeon. No record of the miraculous or radical faith. Simeon is anything but spectacular. I am sure you and I have read this story many times without even pausing to consider this man.

And I am wondering……. Why?

Well, Simeon is not amazing enough to capture our attention.

So, now nearing the end of his life Simeon holds Jesus in his arms and…. (ready for this?) HE BLESSES GOD!  Are you kidding me?!? I try, in vain, to imagine the joy of this moment for the faithful plodder, Simeon.

Listen to a sermon on Simeon here: iPlod.

Simeon has been faithful. He has consistently waited on God to move like His Word said He would in Malachi 3.

Exciting? Spectacular?

At first blush, I think not! But upon closer and further review, nothing could be further from the truth. You see, in our lust for the “spectacular” today we seem to be missing something of what it means to follow Christ.

Let’s reconsider the Simeon. Simeon is a man who waited on God his entire life! He is surrounded by apostasy. The religious leaders of the day are leading people away from God, in the name of God.

This is where we find Simeon. He is trusting in the Word of God that was given to the prophet 400 years prior! He is faithfully….. waiting!  Perhaps waiting is more spectacular than we first thought! When no move of God is taking place, Simeon waits and waits and waits some more. When no hope of a Messiah is before him, he waits. Why? Because God’s Word promised a Savior would come! Now, when life has nearly passed him by and he now is nearing his own death, Simeon is found faithfully doing what? Waiting for the Savior! Wow!

If that is not spectacular, what is?

O, that it would be said of you and me that we faithfully waited for the Lord to our dying day!

Nicolaus_ludwig_graf_zu_zinzendorf
Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten. Nicholaus von Zinzendorf

2.) Timothy

How unspectacular is Timothy’s conversion!?!

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

(2 Timothy 1:5 ESV)

Timothy, it seems, was taught the gospel at a young age. He has a gospel heritage that he grew up in that came from momma and grandma. What a gift! But, Timothy’s conversion is not exactly a “go to” conversion story. We would rather look to Saul, who is persecuting the church, knocked off his donkey, meets Jesus, blinded, etc…!  Now that is a conversion story, right?

Well, yes. But, is Paul’s conversion any more spectacular than the next guy? Does Paul’s conversion require more grace or more substitution or more of Jesus than Timothy’s? When we create these categories of what is and is not spectacular, are we not dismissing the spectacular hand of God, the very glory of God?

It matters how we think about these things. If waiting for Jesus to come the first time (Simeon) is unspectacular then waiting for Him to come the second time (me and you) will be plain vanilla as well.  If your salvation story is unspectacular (in your mind), your view of Christ’s sacrifice for you will lack luster as well.

Join with me and pause today:

  • Thanking God for your average Christian life, seeking to follow Christ to your dying day.
  • Thanking God for your conversion. He saved you, me, Paul, and Timothy from the: “wages of sin is death…”

 

Bruce Jenner And Our Need For Change

jenner

Ok, so I am really late responding to the Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner. I have been busy…. we all have! Today, I’m finally getting around to addressing the man who has, once again, captured our attention.
Before I dive in, I want to say that my heart grieves for Bruce Jenner. I am not sitting down to write out of anger or mockery. I do not want to belittle or disdain him and others like him. I do not write setting out intending to offend. Though, I realize the below will be found offensive to some. I am saddened and concerned for Jenner specifically and for society in general. 
This does not make me better than him or anyone else! As you will see below, I believe that I am a sinner in great need of a Savior!
 
Bruce Jenner’s Problem And All Of Our Problem
 
I found the Sawyer interview interesting. It was fascinating how Jenner has diagnosed the problem and provided his solution to the problem. Jenner himself explained a number of times the confusion he has experienced over the years. He described his confusion to be lifelong, beginning early in life. Jenner’s interview was to say, I have had this problem, it is not a new problem, I am a person stuck in a man’s body with a female psychology.
Here’s the deal: I have more in common with Bruce Jenner than you think! Jenner and I have the same problem – yes, you heard me correctly. My problem and Jenner’s problem is that we are both sinners. No, I have never had the thought… maybe I should play God and change who he has made me to be, or maybe I should become a woman. This has never crossed my mind.  BUT, many sinful thoughts have crossed my mind and only God knows how many of those thoughts turned into actions. Jenner is a sinner. And so am I. That is the greater problem and he is not alone. Jenner and I share this one thing in common.  WE are sinners. Jenner’s problem is not confusion about his manhood or womanhood. Jenner’s greater problem is that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.  And that is my greatest problem and….. yours as well.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 6:23 ESV)
That is our problem – what is the answer?
Jenner’s answer to his problem sounds radical doesn’t it!?! Actually, it is not radical enough. Jenner does not need body transformation; he needs a more radical and thorough transformation. Jenner and I both, need soul transformation. You see, we cannot simply take some pills, do some surgery, and whatever else. Jenner will wake up from surgery still being…. Jenner. He may look different on the outside but the soul is unchanged. Jenner is changing on the surface; however, he needs to take an even more radical approach to his problem.
 
Let me explain. Jenner believes he was born this way. I am fine with his perspective. You and I are no different. We too were born sinners. That is the whole point of the gospel. You and I were born sinners but we can be born again! 
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
The Good News
The good news is that Christ came and went to the cross to make that radical change possible.
God….. died for our sins so that we might be born again, transformed, made new in Christ Jesus. Now that is radical transformation! Nothing less than the life, death, and resurrection provides this transformation for sinners like me, you, and Jenner.
Jenner’s answer is to change how he was born physically as a male. He believes that changing his identity, by dressing as a woman, will solve his problemThis is what saddens me; Jenner will wake up tomorrow with a different set of clothes, but an unchanged heart. As long as he continues to answer his problem on a surface level, he will never be satisfied. 
He needs… and I need, a bigger transformation, a better SaviorWe need a thorough transformation from the inside out, a soul transformation.  Jenner and I are men wrestling with sin in need of the Savior of our souls. He, you and I need the grace and mercy of God.
Good news…..Christ came to make that possible!  

To All Those With A Boring Testimony

boy bored

What did God save you from?

How did He rescue you from death to life, darkness to light, slave of sin to freedom in Christ?

I have heard it said by some that they do not have much of a testimony. It’s, well…..boring! Nothing radical or earth shattering. Not much worth talking about.

She said: “My testimony is simple and dull. I grew up in a Godly home that taught the truths of God’s Word. I believed at a young age. No great rebellion, addictions, or prison stories. Just a Godly family, growing up in a church, and hearing about Jesus. It just can not get any more boring as far as testimonies go!”

The above describes me pretty well too, except the boring part!

Here is part of my testimony and the radical nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was born to a Godly mom and dad who themselves grew up in Godly homes. I think I probably heard the gospel before I left the birthing room.  (Just Kidding…maybe….)

My parents loved God and sought to raise their two boys with an understanding of who God is and what He had done for them on the cross. I can not even tell you the exact point in time that I first repented of my sins and made Christ the Savior of my soul.

(Some would say – “that is not good, you should know….”  Which is…..Ridiculous!)

I can not tell you of a great moment of guilt and shame. I just knew, at a young age, I was a sinner who needed a Savior. Our family attended the same church for 17 years. It was there that I continued to learn about Christ. I had an amazing brother and Godly friends: (Jeff Merwin, Doug Shackelford, Joel Schwalbe, Kyle Brinkman, Jason and Matt Hoag, and all those who were a part of the Rock House – back in the day!) We were a far from perfect crowd! Each with our own level of boring to amazing testimonies. Along the way, I have also sat under some wonderful, Godly pastors. (Alex Clattenburg, Rod Carlson, Fred Franks, Wayne Brooks – I am very grateful for you men!)

Here is my point: We dismiss the radical, amazing grace of God when we view ANY testimony as boring. Is any salvation anything less than amazing grace? Are some who go from death to life more glorious than another? Does not every salvation reveal the life shattering glory of God!?!

When we think in terms of a boring salvation, we belittle saving grace and we dismiss the cross on which He died to accomplish our salvation.

How is it that we can think of ANY testimony as not Amazing Grace? Is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross a radical sacrifice to only a few?

Yes, I grew up in a Godly home. But, I did not choose that home. Nor could my parents or myself conjure up a salvation. Parents, friends, and pastors could not produce in me a heart for God.

God, took this sinner that was bent to sin and He saved me. He did that! Not my parents or my friends or my pastors. God used them all, and I am grateful for them all! But, at the end of the day, God moved on my heart and took a soul that was once an enemy of God and made me His son. Had God not impressed on me my need to repent and believe in Jesus as the Savior of my sins, I would not be saved.

This IS radical. It is not natural, it is supernatural. It is not human, it is nothing less than the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit bringing about my salvation.

God saved me with His ordinary grace, and God’s ordinary grace is always radical grace!

Boring? I do not think so!

Radical?  Yes!

Every life that is brought from darkness to light is nothing less than: Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

(Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)

Have you ever thought your testimony wasn’t good enough?

Or, have you ever embellished your story a little to make it, well, radical?

If so, be free from the nonsense and celebrate the amazing, radical, grace of God in your salvation story!

 

 

Rat Race Theology

StateLibQld_1_115548_Large_crowds_of_people_in_Albert_Square,_Brisbane,_watch_the_men_of_the_Seventh_Division,_1944k

Have you noticed our culture idolizes the Rat Race?

When was the last time you asked someone how they are doing and they did not answer with: “I’ve been busy”

Isn’t that the standard American answer? We are all… busy. The Rat Race is defined by busyness and achievement. We must multitask. Buy more technology to get more things done, faster. Do more with less time. Go to bed later and get up earlier.

For, achievement is our god.

The Rat Race is what we love. Because in the Rat Race we find importance, identity, and even value. Think about it.  Don’t we think more highly of those who are leading the pack in the Rat Race?

Average is weakness in the Rat Race.

Ordinary is not good enough.

Rat Race theology says: You must take this ordinary, average life and make it better. Average? Nope! That won’t do.

“In a culture that rhapsodizes over every achievement and idolizes many of those who stand out, it is easy for the church to drink from the same intoxicating elixir and swoon over gifted expectations.”  D.A. Carson

This drives people to find a new city, get a new job, or land a new spouse. Because, the old one…. well, it’s not that it’s bad it’s just… average.

Reinvent yourself

Make a splash

Work more hours

Gotta get ahead

Are you buying into the Rat Race Theology?

our-greatest-fear

Last year I was on vacation with my family. (By the way, have you noticed we can bring the Rat Race on vacation with us? What is wrong with us!?) We had some in between down time. The idiot box, I mean the TV, was in front of us and my youngest popped it on. The Lego Movie had just begun. I had not heard of the Lego Movie and when it came on I assumed it was going to be dumb.

Have you seen it?

It is incredible! Instantly we were all laughing.

Favorite part?

The driving song of the movie. “Everything is Awesome!” If you have seen the movie than you know what I amLego Movie talking about. When you read the title, you probably smiled a little. In the world of Lego, Everything is Awesome, which means… nothing is.

It is also the theme song of the Rat Race. Everything is awesome. God forbid, we or something we are engaged in, is not….awesome. What if our careers and dreams are just… average. How incredibly terrible would that be!

What if at the end of our lives, all we have done is served the Lord with the mundane tasks He has put before us? How awful?

“Everyone wants a revolution, no one wants to do the dishes.”  Michael Horton

At the end of the movie Emmet says to Lord Business:

lego-movie“You don’t have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, most interesting, most extraordinary person in the universe….”  (Pause – and then Emmet adds) “And so is EVERYBODY.”

Because everybody is awesome – that is the only rule in the Rat Race.

The Rat Race gets better.

How crazy are we?  We mock the Rat Race. We talk down about it. We know the Rat Race is not good. We counsel others to get out of the Rat Race and yet…. we lust for it, pursue it, and we are incredibly jealous of those who are out in front of the race!

Is that not insane? We mock the Rat Race and then strive with all that is in us, to get in the lead of that very race!

Friends, the Rat Race can be the death of relationship, family, pursuit of God, sitting on the couch with your spouse and children, having a meal without the cell phone close enough so you can reply to the text that just came in…. because it’s soooo important.  The Rat Race is the death of real relationships and communication.

God save us from the Rat Race

Further Study:  Read Ordinary By Michael Horton

Or

Listen to this sermon about average, Simeon:  iPlod

It’s A Family Kind Of Thing

Trees

 

If you are a follower of “Gospel Connections” then you are probably aware of posts regarding prayer and specifically corporate prayer.  This has not been intentional and frankly, I am not sure why I have written so many posts on prayer. Maybe it is because I recognize my weakness and need of growth regarding prayer? I don’t know.

One thing I do know is that over the past few years I have come to love corporate prayer.  That is:  praying with my church family. So, imagine my excitement when in 2014 I came to Chapter 9 of Steve Brown’s book titled:  Approaching God.  Chapter 9 is called:  “It’s a family kind of thing”

Here are some take homes that I hope might stir you in considering corporate times of prayer with your church family.

“Prayer really is a family kind of thing.”

“When God calls one, he always calls a bunch.”

 

So, here is a gospel connection for today.

  • Prayer is a result of the gospel.
  • AND Praying together is the result of the gospel as well.

1.) Prayer is a result of the gospel.

We pray because Christ came and brought us into a right relationship with God.  Hebrews tells us to draw near to the throne of grace.  My soul yawns at this glory….

Wake up, Soul!!!  This is amazing!

Nothing short of Jesus life, death, and resurrection provides for us to be able to draw near to God. We get to pray! We get to draw near! Because of the sacrifice of Christ.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

(Hebrews 10:19-22 ESV)

2.) Praying together is a result of the gospel

It is quite a gift that we can draw near to God AND it is quite a gift that we get to do this….. together.

He saved us and brought us into a relationship with the Father and so, we pray.

And saved us into a family. Brother and sisters in Christ.

We have an “Our Father” relationship with Him and we walk that out with each other.

Also see: Prayer That Is Plural

Two Words

 

Most churches have corporate prayer meetings. I encourage you to attend that meeting and when you do, realize you are living in the good of the gospel. Nothing less than Jesus has made that prayer meeting, with your brother’s and sister’s possible.

 

Love… Vast As The Ocean

public-domain-images-free-stock-photos-high-quality-resolution-downloads-public-domain-archive-16-1000x750

Love is amazing!

What moves a man and a woman to make a “til death do us part” vow to each other?

Or a mother to risk her life, without hesitation, to save her child from harm?

And, what moves the Creator of the universe to leave the comforts of heaven and take on the frailties of human flesh, live a perfect life, and die on that cross – for me… for you?

I am a sinner!

I need a Savior!

When I say, “I am a sinner”, I do not mean I have some flaws or I make some mistakes.  I mean… I am a sinner. And as a sinner, whose sins are against a Holy God, who has given me life, I deserve not love. Rather…. judgement.

I say it again, I need Savior! Love is Amazing. His love is beyond amazing!

Sometimes, I am too familiar with the truth of God’s love.  I lean toward being over familiar with the love of Christ on that cross.  Familiarity can be the death of worship or the stifling of service. It turns joy into duty and passion into formalism.

I say to myself today:

Tim, listen up – because you are dull, Tim – you need to hear this TODAY:

Christ came to die for my sins, taking the punishment my sins deserved, on the cross!  And this is LOVE, Tim! You did not earn this love. Be freshly reminded – this is the amazing grace of the Almighty God!

“The love of God is the spring from which the atonement flows”

John Murray

“Legalism says God will love us if we change. The gospel says God will change us because He loves us.”
Tullian Tchividjian

“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands”

Martin Luther

“We obey God’s Law, not to be loved but because we are loved in Christ.”
Jerry Bridges

God did not HAVE to redeem sinners.  He freely chose, out of His love, to shed his blood for my / our sins.

His Death / My Life

The cross is the love of God on display. This cross, this death is my life.  Amazing! Worship Him with your life, Tim.

Where would I be without this love? The cross of Christ shows us just how great is our need and how deep is the Father’s love to meet that need.  If Jesus could redeem us any other way, it would most certainly be a lesser display of His love.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

(Romans 5:6-11 ESV)

Thirsty and Broke!

thirsty and broke

 

Isaiah 55

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

It is beautiful isn’t it? God’s Word is exhorting us to come thirsty and come broke. Isn’t that the gospel? It is exactly how we come to God. We do not come to Him with full bellies and fat pockets. We are destitute.

  • No food
  • No money and
  • No way to purchase or eat in our own strength.

 

Reminds me of this:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save from wrath and make me pure.

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

Don’t you love how the Word instructs us in our broken state to come and buy and eat.

We might ask:  How do we do that?

That, my friend, is the whole point of God’s Word.

You can’t do that in and of yourself! But, you can do that when you look away from our own self’s ability to save. We need a Savior! And we are not it!  Remember: we are hungry and broke.

It is in Jesus that we come to God and when we do, the hungry are filled and the broke are made rich in Christ.

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and you labor for that which does not satisfy?

Isn’t that what we do in our sinfulness?

We foolishly buy that which does not feed us and that which does not satisfy.

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

God’s Word / The Gospel / The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.

Amazing!

“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Will you join with me and pray this today?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

I am so glad this is true.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

YES!

God sends His Word to accomplish His eternal purpose.

What is that purpose?

To redeem fallen man!

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

(Isaiah 55 ESV)