Showing posts from December, 2013

Getting "Gospel-Centered" in 2014

Do you want to start the year off right by actually understanding what people are talking about when they say "gospel-centered?" Well there are a few options for you. 1. Take a Biblical Theology class from Western Seminary . 2. Make The Jesus Storybook Bible your daily reading... or 3. Read Trevin Wax's Gospel-Centered Teaching . Trevin gave some insight on the purpose of his new little book back in November but the subject is as fresh as 2014 and I plan on reading it. "Let’s face it. As teachers, it’s easy to get wrapped up in some of the details of the Bible stories, the history, or the background. Or to get focused on immediate application for our lives, so that we’re skimming the Bible looking for practical tidbits rather than putting ourselves within this great Story that unfolds in the pages of Scripture. But information alone doesn’t change us. Application alone doesn’t change us. Only Jesus changes us. That’s why the information we present needs to be conne

Jesus in 2013, Jesus in 2014

Let us determine to declare the gospel to all. The light has come. He is Jesus. [vimeo] This is the song that opened our Church's Christmas Eve service and it is appropriate on every eve including New Years Eve. [Song By Delirious, Poem & Arrangement by Church on the Move, Tulsa OK]

Sunday after Sunday after Sunday

Recently I was having a conversation with a seasoned pastor about the need for Christ-centered churches. This pastor is well-educated (holding a doctorate level degree in ministry) and successful (he was used to save a dying church close to a decade ago that is vibrant and growing). It was great to hear his story and the churches and experiences God has taken him through. But what stuck with me was his account of a gospel awakening some five years ago. The pastor was at a conference and was challenged when the speaker declare that the gospel was not being preaching in the Northwest. Sure, there was the occasional call to salvation where the gospel of Christ's cross was used as a tool to make converts but the depth of the truth of Christ and his grace was only rolled out evangelistically rather than foundationally and functionally for the church. My pastor friend searched the scriptures. At first to evaluate if this "gospel-centered" movement was a fad or true to God's

Thanks for the year @Scottywardsmith

In the sea of "year in review" items on the web I don't have much to rehash. It was a good year of growing with my family and understanding grace more deeply. I am very thankful for the help of the morning devotional I read and prayed through in 2013. " Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith " by Scotty Smith was there, morning after morning to preach the gospel to me through scripture and grace-drenched prayer. I am so prone to miss the truth of the gospel as the busyness of each day weighs in, but this book called me back to center day in and day out. Thank you Scotty for compiling these prayers and sharing them with the world. You have honored Christ and proclaimed the gospel well.


"The reason Christians do not glorify and enjoy God more is that they do not look beyond themselves. They look into themselves, finding either demoralizing failure or (far worse) an illusion of success. They live in either self-hatred or self-admiration. But either way, they are bound up within themselves, with far too little certainty and joy. But the gospel emphasizes what God does - God in all the fullness of his being for all the need that you have. That is encouraging" - Ray Ortlund Jr. That is refreshing.

All I Want

Today I turn 36. Not a major milestone but another year under my belt (the belt is getting tighter by the way). This next year, more than ever, all I want is Jesus. This might be a good year for you to have the same desire... "Humble King, Holy One, Friend of sinners, God's own Son, God in flesh, Among men, You walked my road, You understand. "Servant King, Friend to me, You saved my soul, Washed my feet, Here I'll bow, Give all to You, Lord I want, To be like You. "All I want, All I need, More of You, Less of me, Take this life, Lord it's Yours, Have my heart, Have it all. "I will walk, In Your ways, Love Your word, Seek Your face, My reward, My sole pursuit, To know You more, To be like You. "Jesus Jesus, All I want is to be like You."

It Can Get Dark

I love Christmas. The time with family. The ability to relax and think back over the last year. The music (I play the Scrooge just to irritate my wife but I do love Christmas music). The truth that is commemorated, the arrival of Christ and the world transforming work that he would accomplish. I like bundling up to stay warm and egg nog. I like presents. And I love the food! Not everyone, however, looks fondly on this time of year. It can easily remind us of relational brokenness. The season can leave us feeling out-of-place and lonely. And the food, it is too often a reminder that we need to live up to our new years resolution this time... In those darker moments of holidays and life though we need not lose hope. It is the truth we celebrate that removes our fears and gives us something to live for. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." - John 1:5 The light of Christ shines into our world, into the dark, and he prevails. How many situation

How to Pray for Churches

I appreciate this list of nine ways to pray for churches from 9Marks. The ones I really zoom in on are: "  Biblical Theology : pray that more pastors will preach about the big God from the big Story of the Bible, protecting the church from false teaching." "The Gospel : pray that pastors will faithfully proclaim the gospel every chance they have. Pray their churches will ask for nothing more than the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ." " Evangelism : pray that churches will be bold and faithful in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus." " Biblical Leadership : pray that God will raise up many faithful shepherds to guard, teach, and encourage his flock."

The Moment Before

The Shepherd of Luke 2...  The wind was brisk and all I could think of was Martha at home with our son, snuggled and attempting to stay warm. It has been a hard year of work as well as bringing a new child into the world under the oppression of Herod and his schemes. Despite the struggle we are getting by, hoping for Spring and the newness that comes with a warm breeze. Tonight’s wind, though, it was cold. It chilled and gave way to a tension in the air that felt thick enough to cut but as hard as ice. It is not that this night was different from the last in task or weather, but there was something unique. The sheep were restless and the stars in the sky seemed to stand still. Then the moment came. the sky split open and there before us stood a being beyond description… even if I had the words to give his likeness, I would be verbalizing a mere picture of the fear inducing glory of this creature. I could not move in his presence but he was not an angel of wrath, he came to bring good n

The Weight of Our Preaching

I am a few chapters into One Way Love from Tullian Tchividjian and I came across this gem: "Make no mistake: over time, preachers who major on law and behavior rather than grace and faith will empty their pews and create refugees. Human DNA simply cannot bear the weight of the law indefinitely." It may take time but it plays out as true all the time. Preach grace and get out of the way.

The Busyness of Life and Rest of Christ

Ben Brophy has just come out of a busy season of work and he has winsomely uncovered truths for the Christian when life is on overdrive (something I think is pretty regular this time of year.) I commend his post to you. The defining truth for the believer is that Christ is everything. Christ is Everything "There was a point where I turned to a co-worker and simply exclaimed ‘What does one do when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work and challenges that are hitting you?’ Before I finished the question, I knew the answer. I rest in Jesus. I found it important to remind myself that my work wouldn’t fulfill me, it doesn’t give my life meaning and even success is momentary before the next project has to be tackled. Basing your life on something more permanent, something divine and eternal provides a foundation that isn’t shaken easily. My value comes from my identity in Christ, from a loving God would reconcile me to himself by sending his son to die on the

Drink Deeply of Jesus

Yesterday I had the honor of preaching at Bethel. Here is my sermon out of 1 Peter. Feel free to share and watch it a lot! [vimeo]