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.