This morning I had the pleasure of dropping my daughter off for the first day of middle school. It's only sixth grade but on a new campus with older kids, and many more of them, it is a big deal for her. Paired with her frequent bouts of anxiety, it could have been a rough morning. But by God's grace, she did great. She asked me to take her as Mom took the younger kids and I gladly obliged. We had a chance to pray together and she said "peace out" as she jumped from the car into the new day. As I drove away, watching her walk to class, I was struck by the heart of God for his children. As I contemplated her day and the experience, I continued to pray and my heart was soft, almost to tears. Now, I am a huge softy anyway but the way I delight in my children and long for the best for them is nothing near the heart of God for us. He rejoices over us with gladness, he quiets our souls with his presence. He loves us and counts us worth so much that he would send his Son
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"[T]his Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." -Acts 2:23–24 This is part of the defining sermon at the foundation of the church. Peter is preaching to the gathered crowd who came around when the Holy Spirit fell on the believers waiting after Jesus' ascension. This is what the preacher says of Jesus, that he was delivered according to plan, to solve the wrath against sin, and he was raised up because death couldn't hold him. We know this pretty well if we have been around the church for any length of time. But let us not move over it quickly today because this is actually the center of our hope in life today and proof of the finished work of the cross for us. These words of Peter are true, and because what he describes happened, we are forever changed and empowered to live.
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“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Paul meant this when he wrote it to the Corinthians church (1 Cor. 11:1). They needed an example because some guys with big ideas, and not a lot of humility, had come into the church and were inciting division and the focus on some strange things. It was an era of confusion of what the church was supposed to be, who had a seat at the table, and where they were all headed. We think they listened. There was still more correction to come but the church seemed to follow the example, becoming imitators for the glory of Christ and their flourishing. We aren’t all that different, and there is hope. How often we are faced with the distractions and desires to have a future defined by things other than Christlikeness. As a church re-planter I have had to answer my share of questions of where we are headed as a church and what exactly my vision is. It isn’t my favorite question to answer and mostly because I think the modern church has been wrongly condi