Posted tagged ‘Jesus’

Not by my experience, nor by my resolutions, but by the grace of Jesus

June 4, 2012

I have been especially helped this Monday morning with this prayer and petition. I encourage you to consider it and meditate on it. May our strength not be in our experiences or our resolve, but in the grace of Jesus.

Grant that I may never trust my heart,
depend upon any past experiences,
magnify any present resolutions,
but be strong in the grace of Jesus:
that I may know how to obtain relief
from a guilty conscience
without feeling reconciled to my imperfections.

Sustain me under my trials
and improve them to me;
give me grace to rest in thee,
and assure me of deliverance.

May I always combine thy majesty
with thy mercy,
and connect thy goodness
with thy greatness.
Then shall my heart always rejoice
in praises to thee.

– Taken from “Self-Noughting” in The Valley of Vision

Revisiting Discipleship (No Plan B)

May 31, 2012

I encourage you to watch this video as though you were hearing about Jesus’ life and ministry for the first time. Kevin Peck nails it, and the method of Jesus is truly staggering and encouraging. It is also counter-intuitive and cuts across the incredible pressure of novelty, trendiness, and superficial measureables of temporary “successes.”

Indeed, there is no plan B to the Great Commission. Let’s make disciples.

HT: Verge Network

Page CXVI :: Come Thou Fount

May 29, 2012

One of my favorite worship bands playing my 2 year old’s favorite song . . .

I am bound for the kingdom…won’t you come with me?

Annotations of Gospel Centrality: Colossians 2:17

May 2, 2012

“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”
Colossians 2:17

The interpretive grid through which we properly understand the world is the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Everything was created by Jesus and for Jesus, and in Jesus is everything sustained (Col. 1:16-17). The world has always sought for a way to understand reality apart from the person and work of Jesus Christ. These lens or worldviews are mere shadows, and Paul mentions several of them in Colossians 2.

Rationalism – plausible arguments (2:4)
Traditionalism – philosophy according to human tradition (2:8)
Ceremonialism – festivals, new moon, and Sabbath (2:16)
Sensationalism – worship of angels, detailed accounts of visions (2:18)
Empiricism – do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (2:21)

All of these are “human precepts” (2:22) and “not according to Christ” (2:8). They give the appearance of plausibility on the surface but in reality they are only shadows. Nevertheless, we are tempted to make much of shadows. If it is not logic (rationalism), it is experience (empiricism). If it is not traditional, it is sensational.  There are ditches on either side we are prone to fall into, unless there is something more substantive, more true, more corresponding to reality.

Paul says the substance is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:3). And when we look at the heart of Colossians 2, we discover the way we reject the shadowlands of “isms” is to dwell deep in the substance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only through the gospel can we be “rooted and built up and established in the faith” (Col. 2:7).  Paul says the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus, and we have been filled with Jesus (which means the fullness of God fills our lives!). The substance belongs to Christ, and Christ belongs to us.

In the gospel, you have been buried with Christ in baptism (2:12)
In the gospel, you have been raised with Christ through the powerful working of God (2:12)
In the gospel, you have been made alive together with Christ (2:13)
In the gospel, your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:3)

That’s the substance.

Everything else is shadows. The gospel is an invitation out of the shadowlands and into the eternal realities purposed by God who works all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). We are called to live gospel-centered lives because any other kind of living would be explorations into the various dimensions of shadows. When the gospel is our hermeneutic for life, we are embodying the divine critique of all elemental principles of the world, calling people out of the dominion of darkness and into the kingdom of His beloved Son (1:13). And the more we center our lives in our union with Christ in his life, death, and resurrection, the more substantive and satisfying our lives will become.

May God give us grace to make much of the substance that is found in Jesus Christ!

The Pastor Shuffle

March 19, 2012

Yesterday morning, I was getting ready to preach at our daughter church (Providence Church), when this crazy idea came to my mind.  You see, also yesterday morning at Grace, Jamin Stinziano who is a pastor of Summit Church (in Estero, FL) brought the word.  So a Grace pastor was at Providence, and a Summit pastor was at Grace.  I suppose you could say the pastors were doing a little shufflin’. 🙂

But thinking about it a little more seriously, I wonder what it would be like if there was an intentional effort to do “the pastor shuffle” every 3 months in a certain area.  Local, like-minded sister churches can benefit from the encouragement of other pastors and preachers in the area, and the shuffling pastor would have the opportunity to bring greetings as well as share what God is doing as a matter of prayer request and kingdom encouragement.

I thought about this seriously because something like the pastor shuffle would communicate a lot about local churches and the kingdom of God.  What God is doing here is so much bigger than any local church, and if we truly care about His kingdom come, we should celebrate it in places and ways other than our local church.  Furthermore, the pastor shuffle will be a counter-cultural move to kill the spirit of competition and “turf wars” among local churches.  We are, after all, on the same team.  So why don’t we intentionally try to promote and celebrate that reality?

In January, I saw this kind of vision in action while in Haiti.  All the pastors in our network plugged into the life of other churches as though it was their own local church.  One pastor led in singing. Another helped with the children. Others still led in congregational prayer.  When they could serve and bless other churches, it was their joy.  And when I could see and experience it, I was deeply moved.

So here’s to the pastor shuffle. I hope something like this could happen around the country. Do you think it would work where you live, among the churches in your area?

The cross is still the throne from which he rules the world.

March 12, 2012

John Stott:

“Any contemporary observer, who saw Christ die, would have listened with astonished incredulity to the claim that the Crucified was a Conqueror. Had he not been rejected by his own nation, betrayed, denied and deserted by his own disciples, and executed by authority from the Roman procurator?

Look at him there, spread-eagled and skewered on his cross, robbed of all freedom of movement, strung up with nails, pinned there and powerless. It appears to be total defeat. If there is victory, it is the victory of pride, prejudice, jealousy, hatred, cowardice, and brutality.

Yet the Christian claim is that the reality is the opposite of the appearance. What looks like (and indeed was) the defeat of goodness by evil is also, and more certainly, the defeat of evil by goodness. Overcome there, He was Himself overcoming. Crushed by the ruthless power of Rome, he was Himself crushing the serpent’s head. The victim was the victor, and the cross is still the throne from which he rules the world.”

The Cross of Christ, 227-28.

Witnesses Not Stargazers

February 27, 2012

Tim Keller got me reading John Stott’s Commentary on Acts, and man I’m glad he did. This past week, I preached on the kingdom of God from Acts 1, and I was created encouraged and helped by the insight and commentary of Stott, especially on Christ’s ascension and the mandate to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit. Commenting on Acts 1:9-11, John Stott wrote:

“There was something fundamentally anomalous about their gazing up into the sky when they had been commissioned to go to the ends of the earth. It was the earth not the sky which was to be their preoccupation. Their calling was to be witnesses not stargazers. The vision they were to cultivate was not upwards in nostalgia to the heaven which had received Jesus, but outwards in compassion to the lost world which needed him. It is the same for us. Curiosity about heaven and its occupants, speculation about prophecy and its fulfillment, and obsession with ‘time and seasons’ – these are aberrations which distract us from our God-given mission. Christ will come personally, visibly, and gloriously. Of that we have been assured. Other details can wait. Meanwhile, we have work to do in the power of the Spirit” (The Message of Acts, 51).

It is not for us to know the times and seasons the Father has fixed by His authority. But it is for us to know the power of the Spirit in testifying to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in word and deed. Those longing for the return of Christ are not those with prophecy charts in their hands but the gospel on their lips.

The Promises of Jesus: I Will Never Cast Out

February 3, 2012

As part of my blog change, I am posting more as a travelogue, including thins the Lord is teaching me and encouraging me in the journey.  This year, one of the things I am focusing more on are the promises of Jesus.  I hope to share more of these as the days go by.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
John 6:37

We all know that promises are only as good as the ability of the person making them is in keeping them.   In Jesus, we have come to know that all the promises of God find their “yes” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20).  I don’t know about you, but I want my days to be infiltrated with divine confirmation of all that Jesus is for me in every aspect of my life.  I want my identity, purpose, and treasure to be shaped by promises kept and fulfilled in Jesus.

Jesus says, “I will never cast out.”  Never. To whom? Whoever comes. That’s not a coming once, but a coming again and again and again. And with each coming, we are promised never to be rejected.  Jesus is more ready to welcome than we are willing to come.  Should not the promise of never being turned away motivate us to come all the more?! The promise should melt our hearts and move our faith to flee to Jesus! Pity the Christian who believes not this promise and never avails himself to the beckoning call and welcoming embrace of Jesus. Not the righteous, not the righteous, but sinners Jesus came to call.  And lest we forget, the only thing that He requires is that we feel our need of Him.

Believe the promise of Jesus today.  Make haste with swift feet to the strong embrace of our Savior whose promises never fail.

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow’r.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.

View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies;
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.

Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.

I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
Oh, there are ten thousand charms.

The Incarnation [Odd Thomas]

December 22, 2011

HumbleBeast puts it out there very nicely. Check out Odd Thomas on the Incarnation . . .

 

Wrecked Afresh by Treasuring Christ

September 27, 2011

For more info, see here and here

Communities of Light, Part 1 (Biblical Theology)

September 27, 2011

God is light.

I’m not sure we have probed into the depths of that profound reality. I’m not trying to sound abstract or philosophical. The Bible is clear to explain that God is light (1 John 1:5).  He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 5:16) and is considered as “the Father of lights” (James 1:17).  All of this speaks of God’s character and domain of existence.  He is brilliant in all His holiness, perfect in all His righteousness, and absolute in all His attributes.  Darkness cannot exist in the presence of light, and in the same manner sin cannot stand in the presence of God.

In the beginning, God’s first work in creation was a reflection of His character.  God who is light made light out of darkness.  He took what was “without form and void” and stamped His nature upon it with four little words, “Let there be light” (Gen. 1:2-3).  Where there was chaos, there was clarity; where there was emptiness, there was the presence of His character.

God created Adam and Eve to walk in the light of His presence.  In the Garden, Adam and Eve were to bear God’s likeness, exercise dominion over all He created, and enjoy the presence of God in the protection and provision of His creating and sustaining Word.  But as you know, the serpent threw darkness upon the light of God’s Word, sowing doubt in the minds of Adam and Eve regarding God’s good purposes for them (“Did God really say . . .?”).  The darkness of doubt bore fruit in the sinful rebellion of Adam and Eve, and darkness moved from doubt to guilt and shame as they hid themselves from the presence of God (Gen. 3:8).  Since then, mankind is born in a state of sin and separation from God in what the Bible describes as the “domain of darkness.”

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Reaching the Lives of Those Who Have Wasted It

July 1, 2011

Eleven years ago, John Piper boldly proclaimed these words:

I was a college student then, about to embark on my life as someone called to proclaim the gospel Jesus Christ. Never had I imagined then that I would be living in the communities comprised of tragedy after tragedy after tragedy.

I live and minister 15 minutes from the place John Piper speaks (Punta Gorda, FL).  I have never been in an area that is more challenging to advance the gospel.  In a city of 165,000 people, I am told that we have less than 6,000 people who attend church on any given Sunday, meaning that roughly 5% of our city consider themselves a part of any church.

A large percentage of our city is comprised of retired people who have moved down from New England or states like Michigan or Pennsylvania.  They also bring with them their New England religion, or lack thereof.  They are a people whose hearts have been hardened through the years, jaded and disillusioned by nominal Christianity, and fortify their tragic lifestyle with gates, fences, and security systems.  They have everything this life could offer them, as Piper explains, and they will soon stand before God for a life they have wasted.

It is tempting to believe there is no hope for such people.  After all, how many old people are converted to Christ?  If they are “happy” with all that life offers them, why would they need sea shells, boats, golf courses, AND Jesus?  And all the obstacles that must be overcome to simply have access to these people . . . it seems virtually impossible.  YET, we do not have the luxury to think this way when it comes to the gospel.  We cannot live and act as though the power of the gospel is somehow incapable of overcoming the obstinate and rebellious ways of man.  We cannot surrender the Great Commission because we might have to go the extra mile or make a greater sacrifice in order to bring the gospel to those who think they don’t need it.

What a testimony it would be if God did a sovereign work among those who have realized they have wasted their lives?! What a testimony it would be if they came to treasure Jesus more than their retirement, more than their toys, more than their life of comfort and ease?  What if several became missionaries to their own people who lay aside their shell collection and instead spend their time sowing the good seed of the gospel?

Because Christ is risen, I am filled with hope for my city and Southwest Florida. Though I have very little in common with most of these people, I want to reach them with the gospel that they might treasure Jesus. I want their to be a video for Jesus’ fame that shows the lives of those who have wasted it who are now giving it away for the glory of God.  Yes, I want the tragedy of their lives to become a triumph of the gospel.

Lord Jesus Christ – A Triperspectival Meditation

June 30, 2011

The phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” is used throughout the epistles of the Apostle Paul (some 60+ times). For instance, you find it in the beginning of most of his letters to the churches (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2-3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil. 1:2; Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Thess. 1:1-2; Philemon 1:3), and you will also find it in the ending of most of his letters (Rom. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 6:18; Eph. 6:24; Phil. 4:23; 1 Thess. 5:28; 2 Thess. 3:18; Philemon 1:25).  In a rather significant way, the phrase serves as bookends to the letters to the churches.  Everyone knows that the things people remember the most are at the beginning and at the end of a message or letter, so it stands to reason why Paul would employ this phrase when speaking about Jesus, and in particular what he may intentionally be drawing to their remembrance.

Furthermore, Paul employs this phrase in reference to the past, presence, and future work of Christ.  In a gospel sense, Paul uses this phrase regarding the work of Christ in his first coming (Acts 20:21; 1 Cor. 6:11; 15:57; 2 Cor. 8:9; 1 Thess. 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:14) as well as the work of Christ in his second coming (1 Cor. 1:7-8 Phil. 3:20; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Pet. 1:16).  And in the practical outworking of the gospel , Paul makes the phrase the grounds for his appeal to fellow believers (Rom. 15:30; 1 Cor. 1:10; 2 Thess. 3:6; 3:12).  Whether looking back (at the cross), looking forward (at his coming), or looking around at everyday situations in life, Paul invokes the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ.”

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True and Better

May 30, 2011

I’ve already plugged this awesome excerpt of Tim Keller in the past, but it’s worth posting again.

[vimeo 23642755]

I wonder if you know HIM

April 24, 2011

He’s my king. Is he yours?