Showing posts from July, 2014

In Need of Refreshment

"With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation." Isaiah 12:3 It is hot around these parts. Tuesday it was 106, 105 yesterday. Don't worry about us too much, a cool down is coming tomorrow; 99. But in all this heat I am finding myself more thirsty. This is not profound. It is just the reality of living in an arid climate on a hot day. I need refreshment that hydration brings. Same thing in my walk with Jesus. Things get hot. I get distracted and end up looking for refreshment in places other than Jesus. But in drinking from these other wells I only thirst more and end up weak. Thankfully, it is not my strength that I rely on. And as Isaiah declares in chapter 12 of his prophetic book, it is the Lord that is my strength and song. Because of Jesus and my union with him, I am empowered to live, to pursue him and to give his refreshing hope to others. I don't need to approval of others, I don't need people to recognize my gifting or ability. Jesus has sung o

Fail to Pray

"It is rare today to see a passion for prayer as the essence of gospel ministry. But I also believe it is futile to try to work people up into prayer. It just doesn't get results beyond a surge of enthusiasm that soon wears off. I know of only one infallible way to get a church praying, and keep it praying, for the power of God to come down: we need to fail. We need to fail so badly and obviously that we find out how much we really do trust ourselves rather than God. We need to be shocked by the collapse of our best methods. But what a blessing catastrophic disaster is, with all its misery and shame, if it turns us back to God! " - Ray Ortlund, The Gospel . We have just finished a study of this little book at theology breakfast and it was a worthwhile experience. I commend it to you.

Invited In

  Yesterday, Iona, my four-year-old daughter, asked me to help her with the dvd player in her playroom. The dvds she plays are far too scratched and the tv-player combo too old for anything to work just right. But she wanted to watch a show so we set out to find a disc that would work. As we put in the Fraggle Rock dvd I mentioned to her how I bought this dvd less for her and more for me as I enjoyed the show as a kid. In that moment Iona turned to me and said in the sweetest voice, "do you want to stay here and watch it with me?" I said yes and we enjoyed at least 30 minutes of the show before more exciting things called us out of the playroom. It was a sweet time with my daughter and probably that much sweeter because she invited me to join her. To be with her in her space. As I thought about it, I found myself thanking God for this example of his fatherly love for us. This is what he desires; to spend time with us, invited in. Jesus made it all possible. That we could even

Beloved of God

"When you come to Christ, no matter the shape of your desires, you are given a new identity. You are hidden with Christ, and you are the beloved of God. Period. That’s the label that supersedes all others. " - David Lomas, Truest Thing About You

Human Credibility and Divine Authority

The letter to the churches in Galatia begins this way: "Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father..." A harmless enough of a greeting clearly indicating to us that Paul wrote the letter. An Apostle, a messenger in the ranks of the other apostles that were minister too and with Jesus himself. It is what comes next that caught my attention this morning. Paul's credibility, his authority to write to and pastor these churches, is "not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father." This is Paul's resume. This is the plaque that hangs in his office. Men have not granted him authority, God has. This is totally okay for Paul to say. Because we believe it. The proof is in his ministry. In his Spirit-inspired writing. In his martyr's death. But we would never be comfortable making this claim let alone believing it. Now, we could spend another post on the people who make such bold claims (oft

Appropriate Christ

"The summons of the Gospel is not that we behold what is possible for us in Christ, and reach forth to it; but rather that we behold what is accomplished for us in Christ, and appropriate it and live in it." A.J. Gordon

We Even Forget the Voice of God

In Acts 10 the Apostle Peter has a fantastic vision. A sheet comes out of the sky and God declare things once thought "unclean" to be clean. Peter as first resists. He reminds God that he is a good Jew that has never partaken of anything unclean. And God speaks clearly. It happens three times. From that vision and experience with God, Peter correctly takes the message of the gospel, the good news of peace through Jesus, to Gentiles. God-fearing people who most of Peter's associates would call "unclean." At the preaching of Jesus the Spirit moves. Just like at Pentecost, the people start speaking in tongues and proclaiming the good news. It is proof that this message was not just for the Jews but that the redemptive plan was unfolding now to bless all nations. Peter had an sky-ripping, memorable experience with God. God declared in his own voice that the categories which once ruled the day no longer meant anything. All could come. All could believe and be forgive

Christianity's Scheme

'"In Christ" is not a slogan to catch your attention. It's not on the level of "Things go better with Coke." It's not an additive to make your Christian life a little better, like putting extra vitamins in your milk. "In Christ" is the very shape of Christianity's scheme of things. It's the truth you celebrate. It's the ground you stand on. It's the heritage you claim. You can't rephrase it; you can only live it and enjoy it. It's the reason you thrill at the thought, " O Christ, You are my hiding place!" - Ray & Anne Ortlund, Confident in Christ, 1989.

The Worst King Never Leaves the Castle

I spend a lot of time in my office. There is just a number of things that I need to be in the building to accomplish and given that we have a large staff it is important to have a fair amount of personal interaction... and I am just a ministry director not the lead pastor! But on a regular schedule I have to spend time other places with other people. It keeps me grounded and even a little bit more "in touch" with the lives of those I minister to. This morning I started the day at one of our coffee shop locations and was thankful I did as I had an unplanned conversation with a member of our church that was helpful and important. Those types of things don't happen when I am locked away in my square, oak-laden office. It is far too easy to run with my desire to study and be in a book all day and miss the real life of experience with the people around me and outside of the ministry context. I never want to be the king that never leaves the castle. How do you ensure that you a

Shallows for the Deep

"We can't fully appreciate God's grace and love until we consider his holiness, his otherness... That's why we need to be jarred by God's glory. Astonished afresh by his majesty. Staggered by his power. If we ever hope to trade the shallows for the deep, we must rediscover the holiness of God." -   Drew Dyck, Yawning at Tigers .

Powerful church

"The power of the gospel creates something altogether different in the world today. It creates churches that, to borrow from John Piper, are God-exalting, Christ-admiring, Spirit-filled, Bible-enjoying, grace-preaching, convenience-defying, cross-embracing, risk-taking, selfishness-crucifying, gossip-silencing, prayer-saturated, future-thinking, outward-reaching, and beautifully human congregations where the undeserving can thrive. Only God can build this new kind of community. But when he does, it cannot be ignored." - Ray Ortlund, The Gospel

Familiarity with Jesus

Yesterday I had the joy of preaching at Bethel. Here is the sermon. [vimeo]