Showing posts from May, 2015

Faith for the Unfaithful

"According to his critics, Jesus "did God" all wrong. He went to the wrong places, said the wrong things, and worst of all, let just anyone into the kingdom. Jesus scandalized an intimidating, elitist, country-club religion by opening membership in the spiritual life to those who had been denied it. What made people furious was Jesus' "irresponsible" habit of throwing open the doors of his love to the whosoevers, the just-anyones, and the not-a-chancers like you and me... Nothing makes people in the church more angry than grace." - Mike Yaconelli, "Messy Spirituality" God really does give faith to the unlikely, the ones we don't think should get it. And that is good news, because we re really they. Jesus has thrown the doors of his love wide open, open to all in need of rest. Come.

Clobbered Into Jesus

"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake..."  (Philippians 1:29 ESV) Paul tells the Philippian church to live in a manner worthy of the gospel so that they will be united in purpose, striving side by side in the gospel and standing against opposition. Then throws the grenade. Not only is belief in Jesus a gift, given to you for the sake of Christ's glory, but you are also given suffering for the same reason. Come to Jesus, he will give you faith and suffering. I was reading this text with a young man in our church and the suffering that comes to the mind of a 12-year-old is certainly different then what comes to mind of a 37-year-old, but to be prepared for the gift of suffering is one of the more faith defining disciplines. But notice it is not suffering for suffering's sake. You don't suffer because believing in Jesus is lame or because you aren't as free as others. Suffering

The Cross has done all that is needed

"If the cross has done all that is needed, if God has revealed in the Old Testament that human effort is futile, there is no place for man’s effort and accordingly for man’s extolling of his own effort. In any religion of law the worshipper may legitimately feel satisfaction in his personal achievement, but this is a satisfaction that can lead to pride. For those saved by grace, however, that is impossible. Grace leaves no place for satisfaction in one’s own achievement, for salvation is all of God." - Leon Morris, commentary on Romans 3:27. We wrestle with this reality in life. Each new discovery or improvement, moving up the sanctification ladder, provides fuel for the monster of self-sufficiency. But for those saved by grace, this is impossible. No pride. Just the astonishment that all that was needed to have a relationship with God, to be an heir, a child, was done on the cross by Christ. It changes our perspective and transforms our hearts. It is all of God. And this is

Marriage Dancing

"Hey, Ewen. Do you want to pretend to be married?" Iona asks this morning in the sweetest voice. Of course little brother was having none of it but I listened in, because you can learn a lot about your life by hearing your kids describe it. "If we are married we can dance..." So went the persuasive argument from a five-year-old to her two-year-old brother. And I know what she meant. The dancing she was thinking about was from our wedding. Thanks for thinking that Stacy and I dance all the time... Iona has been asking quite a bit lately to dance, "like at your wedding!" I think she likes being dipped and spinning around in the air. Which is a lot like our wedding dance! But what a great reminder today. I don't date my wife well enough. She is gracious and puts up with me. How many times should we stop everything, slow down and just dance? Just enjoy family, each other and being married. Life can get busy. Your day is probably packed full of things to ac

Embrace Christ's Record

" Jesus was punished so that we could be delivered. He was forsaken so that we could be befriended. He was cast out so that we could be brought in. All for free. All God asks is that we lay down our insistence on contributing to God’s estimation of our merits and embrace Christ’s record as our own. Nothing is to be added or subtracted from this message of salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Gospel Transformation Bible notes on Revelation 22.  Delivered, befriended and brought in. This really is good news. 

Test Our Preaching

"You see, what is not evangelical preaching is the kind of preaching which says to people, 'Now if you live a good life, if you do not commit certain sins and if you do good to others, if you become a church member and attend regularly and are busy and active, you will be a fine Christian and you will go to heaven'. That is the opposite of evangelical preaching, and it is not exposed, therefore, to the charge of antinomianism because it is encouraging good works, and it is not the gospel. So let all of us test our preaching, our conversation, our talk to others about the gospel, by that particular test - does it make a certain clever type of man say, 'I see now the whole position - it does not matter what I do, all is well!'? And if you do not make people say things like that sometimes, if you are not misunderstood and slanderously reported from the standpoint of antinomianism, it is because you do not believe the gospel truly and you do not preach it truly. "

Blind Spots

A sweet lady in our church recently had a stroke that left her with diminished vision. She has a blind spot to her right side that simply wasn't there before. And it has become quite the hassle. I wonder though, how many of us have blind spots in our life and Christianity that we don't even know about. Everything seems normal and I think I have full vision, but I don't. In fact, I am missing a bunch. The reality of this has become more clear to me as I have struggled with the divisive nature of my own "tribe" and I have been seeking Jesus for a better way. Enter a whole new season of writing. From Scott Sauls calling for gospel formed unity and cultural engagement to the new book from Collin Hansen calling for the church to become courageous, compassionate and commissioned. Blind Spots is a quick read and a timely one. Hansen sees three primary categories where Christians typically land overemphasizing. They are those that call for a courageous faith - against a

The Grounds That Have Been Stomped

This weekend Stacy and I have been in the Washington State to participate in a wedding of some friends and spend some time connecting with friends we haven't seen in person since moving six months ago. What a joyous celebration it was to see Damen and Hannah married. I don't think I have counseled two young people more mature in their faith. They get grace and desire to center their marriage on the goodness of Christ. Something they will need to be reminded of and something others around them will see in them. We also got to laugh and relax with a gaggle of friends that are so dear to us. It is fascinating that in the room three years ago, we all were members of the same church and closely knit together in shared life experience and proximity. Last night I counted five churches represented in the same circle and lives of less proximity but still closely tied to each other. The jokes don't change much. The big personalities are still big and the insecurities are still the sa