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Making Disciples In The Everyday Stuff Of Life – I define missional living as being continually-sent disciple-makers who live everyday life with gospel intentionality so we might both show and tell others what worship of Jesus looks like in the everyday stuff of life.

Those Who Think, Read – If we are too busy to think, then we are too busy. And if we are too busy to read, then we are too busy. 

A Guy On The Subway – We’re all coming and going so quickly, eyes ahead, joined only by shared space and the sound of our footsteps.

Ugliness Repels, Beauty Persuades – Three or four years after moving to Switzerland, Francis Schaeffer went through a profound spiritual crisis. What brought on this crisis? Going back many years to his time in college and later in seminary, Francis and Edith were bothered by the lack of love shown between Christians, especially where there was any disagreement.

What Is Our Greatest Need? –  The message of Christianity is not about improving the world, but about changing people in spite of the world, preparing them for the glory that is yet to come. 

12 Ways Millennials Can Serve The Local Church – Young people: church is not about you and your feelings. Church isn’t about personal fulfillment as much as it is about selfless service.

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How Great Is Our Salvation?

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What is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you? Completing a college degree? Acquiring your dream job? Getting married? Having children? No doubt, these are some great things. And when it comes to getting married and having children, they are major life changing events. Having a family is a gift from God.

But when it comes to the greatest thing that has ever happened to us, for those of us who are “in Christ,” I would have to say that our response needs to be our salvation.

In Romans 1-11, Paul writes of the excellencies of the riches of God’s grace in saving us, reconciling us, and restoring us as his rebellious children through the death of His son. Most likely you have read through Romans and know the depth of his writing in explaining our salvation.

When Paul begins to conclude this section of the letter explaining our salvation, just before he begins writing what I like to call the “practical” or “living it out” section, he reflects back upon the ways of God in saving us and writes a most glorious response. He writes:

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Paul is most overwhelmed by the ways of God in saving us. His depth we cannot fathom. His knowledge is beyond are grasp. And His richness in mercy and grace leave us awestruck. His plan to rescue us is by Him, for Him, and through Him. God is the source, instrument, and goal of all things. All glory, therefore, belongs to Him.

Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856-1932) wrote these words…

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean.

How marvelous! How wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
How marvelous! How wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me!

We do well to think about the great salvation we have in Christ. Martin Lloyd-Jones, in one of his sermons, asks us to make such thinking a habit and to let our understanding of our salvation spill over into those around us. He says:

Do you habitually think of your own salvation as the greatest and most wonderful thing that has ever happened to you? I will ask a yet more serious question: do you give your neighbors the impression that you have found the most magnificent thing in the world? I have a terrible fear that many people are outside the Christian church because so many of us give them the impression that what we have is something very small, very narrow, very cramped and confined. We have not given them the impression that they are missing the most glorious thing in the entire universe.

So, what’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to you?

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So Much Stuff, So Little Time: How Do We Keep Our Possessions from Possessing Us? Maybe it’s not a matter of denying the appeal of things, but understanding the role of the material in relation to the immaterial. Understanding when things matter and when they don’t.

Why You Should (Literally) Look At The World Upside Down – It’s a figure of speech to look at things “upside down” in order to get some perspective. But what if there’s more here than just a clever turn of phrase? What if we can’t actually see our world in proper perspective unless we’ve seen it upside down?

Aspiring to the Great Commission Is Not Enough: Knowing the Gospel Doesn’t Mean We’re Sharing It – Research shows that Protestant churchgoers in the United States and Canada as a whole are not telling this good news message. According to Paul, part of our new life is that we have been commissioned by God to reconcile the world to Himself through Christ. So we’ve been reconciled to become agents of reconciliation. Unfortunately, most Christians have become cul-de-sacs on the Great Commission highway.

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Allowed to Be Theologically Dumb – When you love God with your heart but not your mind, you end up loving the god of your imagination, not the God of the universe.

The Glorious Feeling Of Not Mattering – When I feel small, there is the gospel that reminds me that my size and worth is determined by that which was sacrificed for me. When I feel big, there is the gospel that reminds me that I was dead in my sin and transgression, too lost to even know that I was lost.

Discovering The Futility Of My Existence At My High School Reunion – Human existence is a cycle. An endless cycle. The more things change the more they stay the same.

The Story of Ian & Larissa

Where Spiritual Disciplines Lead Us

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I’m a big fan of practicing the spiritual disciplines (though I myself consistently falter in each of them). It’s vital for believers to read, study, meditate, and memorize Scripture. Communion with God through prayer and worship is also essential. However, we do well to remember the purpose of spiritual disciplines.

Brian Hedges writes that “the disciplines are meant to turn us into missionaries, not monks. The disciplines start in the closet, but end in the street. True Christlikeness is measured not by the breadth of your knowledge or the length of your prayers, but the depth of your love for others.”

“Christians feed on Scripture,” writes Eugene Peterson. But “Christians don’t simply learn or study or use Scripture; we assimilate it, take it into our lives in such a way that it gets metabolized into acts of love, cups of cold water, missions into all the world, healing and evangelism and justice in Jesus’ name, hands raised in adoration of the Father, feet washed in company with the Son.”

Similarly, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis write, “Biblical spirituality does not take place in silence; it takes place bearing a cross. It is not a spirituality of withdrawal but a spirituality of engagement. You do not practice it on a retreat in a secluded house; you practice it on the streets in the midst of broken lives.”

Paul writes: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Spiritual disciplines are not an end in themselves. They are designed for God to transform us in living lives of love, humility, obedience, and sacrifice in a world of pain.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10). Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Eph. 5:1-2).

 

 

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Are You Weak Enough For God To Use You? – Boast when God lets you fail. Boast when God reduces the size of your army. God isn’t withholding good things from you. In fact, he’s offering you something priceless. As Hudson Taylor said, “God wants you to have something far better than riches and gold, and that is helpless dependence on him.”

10 Ways To Simplify Your Life –  A few practical suggestions for cutting out the things you don’t need.

Only God Is an “End in Itself” (But That’s Not the Whole Story) – Can anything be an “end in itself” in the sense of not serving a purpose higher than itself? Does anything exist in and for itself—from a Christian perspective? I will dare to argue not—except God who is not a “thing” but being and goodness themselves—the perfect telos of all beings, activities and products insofar as they have value at all.

Speculations On Pride – C. S. Lewis was right. Pride is the ultimate sin because it is structured differently from all other sin. Pride is the sin of Satan and makes those who suffer from it most like Satan because it alone rejects the tiny, dirty spark of goodness within all other sin.

Spurgeon Almost Quit – At the age of twenty-two, Charles Spurgeon almost quit the ministry.

Six Ways Millennials Are Educating Their Churches Theologically – Over the past few decades, the seeker-sensitive movement, and before that the church growth movement, taught us much about the importance of contextualization in the church. In recent years, however, I have noticed a remarkable—and welcomed—return by younger leaders to the fundamentals of the faith, basic theological education, and the deepening of doctrinal roots.

Bob Smiley – The Perils Of Parenting

Where The Depths Of Sin Are Seen

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Sin is corruptive. It destroys us at our very core. But no where does sin show us “its full range and possibility” than in religion.

In his book Not The Way It’s Supposed To Be, Cornelius Plantiga Jr. quotes Geoffrey W. Bromiley:

The inward corruption to which Jesus refers in the scathing denunciation in Matthew 23 is not the corruption of deliberate and calculated insincerity. It is the corruption of a sincere and sincerely practiced religion, which is ultimately a supreme manifestation of religious pride…. The frightening picture opened up here is that when one recognizes obvious sin one has hardly begun to reckon seriously with this adversary. The open and blatant sinner, the oppressor or the harlot, is indeed a sinner. But it is not here that the genuine depth of sin is revealed, not even if the oppressor be ever so grasping or the harlot ever so shameless. It is in religious persons that the depths are to be seen. 

So we ask ourselves, as did the Apostle Paul, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” And to which the answer is: Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

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The Formula For Endurance – Endurance is more spiritually important than we sometimes think. In the book of Hebrews, for example, the writer exhorts the suffering and persecuted church over and over again to endure. Remain. Persevere. Stay in the fight until the end. But how do you do that? What’s the formula for endurance? It’s surprisingly simple…

How Does God Define Success? – If success is defined from God’s perspective, where faith in Christ and faithfulness to Him is what matters most, then the men and women of Hebrews 11 not only understood what true success is, they applied that understanding to every aspect of their lives.

Is Driving School Buses Kingdom Business? – When we say that all work matters, do we really mean all work—even driving school buses? Is that really kingdom business?

Happy Fear For most of us, fear is an emotion we want to avoid, and that we will even pay to avoid. It’s a negative, painful, distressing feeling. And yet, the wisest man in the world, Solomon, said: “Happy is the man who fears always” (Proverbs 28:14). What kind of fear is this that makes a person happy?

Do You Think It Happened Or Not? – The resurrection is the hinge on which all of Christianity turns. It’s the foundation on which everything else rests, the capstone that holds everything else about Christianity together. Which means—crucially—that when Christians assert that Jesus rose from the dead, they are making a historical claim, not a religious one.  

4 Piercing Truths About The Way God Works In The World If you were to skim Deborah’s song in Judges 5—thinking that you already knew all the details of the story from the previous chapter—you’d miss four piercing truths about the way God does his work in the world. 

It’s Time For The Masters

I Can Face A Monday!

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This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at a nearby church. One of the songs we sang was Bill Gaither’s Because He Lives. While singing it, I began to think about the first line of the chorus. Gaither writes, because He lives, I can face tomorrow. So when is tomorrow? It could be construed as some unforeseen day in the future, but for me, while sitting in church, I began to think about tomorrow being a Monday.

Monday. What is exciting about a Monday? True, Monday could be a day full of thrills but reality tells me that it will just be another day filled with routine. Staff meetings, creating “to do lists,” driving kids to school, sending emails, returning phone calls, working out, eating meals, and relaxing with family before bed. Some fairly ordinary stuff accompanies my Mondays.

So where does the resurrection fit in to all of this? Shouldn’t the resurrection push us to something bigger than watering the grass? Shouldn’t we be saving the world? Because He lives, I can face the mundane? That doesn’t sound very grandiose and yet while singing this Gaither song on Sunday morning, that’s what I was thinking about. Monday was headed my way.

The reality is that most people (actually I think all people) live ordinary lives. And for some this is a problem. There is a reason that TV shows such as American Idol are popular. We want to escape the humdrum days into a life of adventure. We are on a search for significance and think that the treasure of importance can only be found by doing something “big.” But is this true?

“What if ‘bigness,’” writes Michael Kelley in his book Boring, “is not an accurate measure of significance? What if the whole idea of ‘ordinary’ is a myth? And what if a life of great importance isn’t found by escaping the details but embracing them? What if God actually doesn’t want you to escape from the ordinary, but to find significance and meaning inside of it?”

The resurrection speaks a different word to us. The daily mundane activities are no longer just things to check off on our “to do list.” God is alive and working. He is beyond the mundane. Therefore, writes Kelley, “there really is no such thing as ordinary when you are following an extraordinary God.”

Paul, at the end of 1 Corinthians 15, which is an incredible chapter on the truth, validity, and implications of the resurrection, writes: Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Because Christ has risen, continue plodding along knowing that what you do is not in vain. Your work and life while following Christ, though it may appear ordinary, will not be without purpose. “The reality of the future,” writes David Garland, “colors the reality of the present.”

So because He lives, I can face a Monday and every day knowing that because I serve a risen Lord, life is beyond ordinary!