Showing posts from July, 2013

Never Satisfied with My Progress

"May I live by thee, live for thee, never be satisfied with my Christian progress but I resemble Christ." Valley of Vision I often talk of how my heart breaks when Christians "miss" the gospel. Sure they understand how Jesus worked to save them but as if a switch turned on, it is now their job to persevere or work to stay righteous. But at the same time that my heart is torn for those who miss the permanent and ongoing work of Christ, my heart needs to break for my inability to grasp the gospel. I am far too arrogant and pleased with my own ability to "get it" and in that I don't get it. My best is but rags. Even when I make seemingly great strides toward obedience I fall so far short of holiness. When I am satisfied in my progress, I don't need a savior. I do take joy in pursuing Jesus and attempting to live for him, but the moments when I think of myself more than I ought, I miss his work and his progress in my heart. Even the realization that I

The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way

"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:14-19, ESV) This is a model of prayer for the church. Petitioning to be strengthened so that Christ may dwell in our hearts; that we would comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ; and that we, and those reached with the gospel, would be filled with the fullness of God. It is a prayer for boldness that fully recognizes that Jesus is the one that acts and we need strength to have faith! T

Truly Human

Jeff Bethke has a new encouraging video out today. He talks of being truly human and how humanity is meant for community, open, vulnerable community. I also like the video because I wore the same Humble Beast t-shirt yesterday... [youtube=]

My favorite moments

I am blessed to have a wonderful family and my highest priority as a pastor is the care of my family. I don't always do it right but the time I spend with my family are the times I live my favorite moments.

A prayer of delight

"God of my greatest delight, Your throne of grace is the pleasure ground of my soul - it is my truest 'happy place.' Here I receive forgiveness in the time of my need, here I see the smile of your face as proud Father, here joy sings the name of Jesus, here I sharpen the sword of the Spirit, bless the shield of faith, put on the helmet of salvation, gather miraculous food from your Word, am strengthened for each conflict, motivated for the long race, empowered to conquer all enemies; Help me to come to Christ as the source of all gifts and blessing, as a wide open flood-gate of mercy and forgiveness. I am astounded by my clueless folly, that with such wonderful, enriching gifts within my reach, I am slow to reach out my hand and take them. Have mercy on my stupid deadness for your Name's sake. Wake me up, stir me, fill me with holy passion. Strengthen me so I may hold onto you and never let you go. May you Holy Spirit, that dwells in me, grab all blessings from your ha

Motivated by Love

At Theological Life this morning we briefly discussed motivation for obedience in the Christian. How I read scripture, I think it is clear that for those in Christ the motivation for obedience is the love of Christ and the truth of the gospel. For some this is difficult. They can grab a hold of concepts like 'duty' or reward for motivation to live differently, but motivated by the gospel? That seems too hard to 'do.' While these other motivations may play some part, if we are not supremely motivated by what Christ has done for us out of love and how he is continually changing us through the Spirit, we are missing something. My buddy Seth pointed out a section from Elyse Fitzpatrick that gets at the issue. The distinction is subtle but vitally important. "Let me explain how the truth that love motivates obedience usually plays out in my heart. I think, Okay, I've got the "love God" part down, so now I need to concentrate on being more and more obedient

Diversity in the Church

This week I had the opportunity to interact with some church leaders on the question of diversity in the church among other things. I attempted to share my heart and desire to see the local church reflect well the reality of Christ's bride - a church greatly diverse in language and ethnicity. It is the reality of the church described in the New Testament and it is sad that we have historically allowed affinities other than Christ form the core of our churches. Today John Piper tweeted a link to a 2007 article explaining why his church sought diversity, especially among staff and elders. Given the current public climate concerning race, it is a timely reminder for Christians of our citizenship in the kingdom of God. You can read the whole article here but below are some choice sections. "It is right to admire this diversity for many reasons: It illustrates more clearly the truth that God created people of all races and ethnicities in his on image ( Genesis 1:27 ). It displa

ABIDE Apprentice

A key part of the young adult ministry I lead is equipping the saints for ministry and training them toward maturity (this should probably be central to any ministry!) In order to expand the opportunities for young adults to go deeper in their study of the gospel and the Christian life we are kicking off our 'ABIDE Apprentice' course. Over nine months (September through May) selected young adults will have individual study, one-on-one discipleship and group discussion times. The monthly modules will focus on these areas: Gospel Centered Life, Mission, Discipleship, Prayer, Gospel Fluency, Suffering/Humility, Authority/Obedience, Vision/Leadership, and Worship. Requirements for the apprentice includes commitment to read assigned texts each month (book or articles), weekly online interaction using RightNow media, a monthly two-hour meeting with all apprentices and discipleship time with the ABIDE director every fortnight (every two weeks). If you are part of ABIDE or attend Bethe

Forbearance does not equal tolerance

"Hear this, O house of Jacob,who are called by the name of Israel,and who came from the waters of Judah, who swear by the name of the Lord and confess the God of Israel, but not in truth or right. For they call themselves after the holy city, and stay themselves on the God of Israel; the Lord of hosts is his name. “The former things I declared of old; they went out from my mouth, and I announced them; then suddenly I did them, and they came to pass. Because I know that you are obstinate, and your neck is an iron sinew and your forehead brass, I declared them to you from of old, before they came to pass I announced them to you, lest you should say, ‘My idol did them, my carved image and my metal image commanded them.’ “You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forth I announce to you new things, hidden things that you have not known. They are created now, not long ago; before today you have never heard of them, lest you should say, ‘Behold, I kne

Ravish me Lord

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ; That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp'd town, to another due, Labour to admit you, but O, to no end. Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captived, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain, But am betroth'd unto your enemy ; Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." - John Donne. Holy Sonnets XIV.

Always a Student

This week I have the joy of being in class at Western Seminary with Dr. Bruce Ware of Southern Seminary. The class is on Christology, so primarily on the person of Jesus. Here is a clip of Dr. Ware so you can have a taste of my week. (He is introducing a book we have read for class). [vimeo]

What do we know of Holy?

We are prone to attempt to live the Christian walk under our own power or motivation but we miss out on the source of our hope when we do that. In fact, when we grow in grace our knowledge of our sinfulness increases and our understanding of God's holiness increases. We recognize the separation between the two with more weight and sincerity. The thing that bridges the two? The cross of Christ. It is our center and only solution, motivation and hope. A mature Christian in our church recounted to me his own awakening from the routine of Christian works to the depth of God's holiness and his desire for the Holy Spirit to move in his life and the lives of those around him. One tool the Spirit used to challenge his assumptions was the song "What do I know of holy?" May it challenge and bless you as well. [youtube=]

Adding Burden to Believers

We are currently working through a series on the book of Titus at our church and it has been an enriching time hearing how Paul instructed the leaders of the church on Crete to remain faithful to the gospel in the midst of a tough culture. And while the point hasn't been focused on in the series, I am caught by the truth of  a passage on the qualifications of an elder, specifically when it comes to teaching. Paul says this of an elder in Titus 1:9, "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it." Those leading and teaching in the church must cling to the "word that was taught" which we can understand as the gospel, so they can teach others and correct those that teach wrongly. So what is it that is being taught that is contradicting the gospel? Paul describes it in verses 10 and 11. "For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and decei