• QUOTE FOR TODAY

    "God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose."
    -- John Piper

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  • James 2:14-17

    What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

    In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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The Cross – Where I Was Restored

Five days ago, palm branches and tunics lined the road passes the Mount of Olives.  Shouts of “Hosanna in the Highest” filled the air as my Savior enteredJerusalemto begin the process that would make my restoration possible.

Tonight the Passover Supper will end in a bitter (yet expected) betrayal, and the moss covered floor in Garden of Gethsemane will soak up the first drops of The Redeemer’s blood as he prayed for me.

And tomorrow….tomorrow brings the mocking and the crown of thorns, tomorrow brings the flogging and the suffering, tomorrow brings the cross….The blood stained timbers that will ultimately take His life but give me life…eternal LIFE.  Jesus paid it all and washed me white as snow.

Thank you Jesus.

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Are We Irrelevant?

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted.   Too long.   It goes this way, I suppose.  Life events tend to dictate when we can write (or sleep for that matter) 

Anyway JP Troglio wrote a post over at I Hate Church that would be worth a few minutes of your time.  It got me to thinking about a question that many have asked before…..is the church in America becoming irrelevant?

I don’t mean irrelevant from the stand point of the culture and being ‘cool’ enough to reach this generation (the emerging churches clearly have this portion covered…to a fault).  I’m talking about significantly impacting the world around us.  I think we’re failing.  I think we’re content with being insignificant.  I think we like the safety of our friends and family around us on Sunday and we don’t want to get our hands dirty.  We don’t want to be uncomfortable.  I think (as JP points out) that we want big numbers because it makes our “club’ look good and it makes us look like we have our act together and that we are having an impact, but sadly, we’re missing the point.  It’s not about the performance….it’s not about the show or the rush to the doughnut table after service.  It’s not about the songs we’re singing or the sermon series or where we worship, for that matter. It’s about introducing people to God and letting him work.

Folks, it’s time we start getting real about the Gospel and taking it to the people and stop being so worried about what people may think about us.  Yes…I’m writing this as much for me as I am anyone who cares to stop by and read this.   If we cared about people the way that God cared about us, I think we would daily have to fall on our face in worship at the work God was doing.  It would be our natural response. 

I’m going back to work now….but I don’t think I’m done writing on this subject.   More to follow.

 

Jumping In

Kristen at We Are That Family wrote this post titled Someone is Waiting for you to Jump In yesterday.  Would you take a minute, head over to her blog and read the post?  After that would you begin praying about where God might want you to jump?  Here’s a little excerpt to challenge you:

And the truth? Standing at cliff’s edge, we wanted to say no. We asked if there was another way. We researched and begged. We cried it is too big, we can’t, we are afraid, we don’t know how.  We don’t want to love mercy.

We didn’t throw caution to the wind. We didn’t just jump into the chasm of the unknown.

We jumped into the very hands of God.

Why? Why do the uncomfortable? Why go beyond the comfort zone and risk so much? Every one of us has a unique purpose for our lives and our blogs. It’s a risk finding that purpose. It leaves you exposed and open to criticism and fear and failure.

  Would you also pray about helping them with Mercy House?

Focus on Worship – Salvation

I read a quote from John Piper yesterday:

God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation…Therefore let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose

Piper’s words got me thinking about our worship and whether we have the passion of God’s heart when we worship.  God’s passion is for people.  He desires that all people would know Him and worship Him.  I think we need to be careful that we don’t develop a disconnect between our worship, and God’s desire that we bring people to him.   Pastor Steve frequently points out that “worship is not the warm-up,” but that’s not what I’m talking about.  I think the Piper quote points out the fact that worship of God and Salvation by God are effectively inseparable.
To illustrate this further, Read through the lyrics from “Break the Silence”

Christ, our Lord
All praise is yours

We will face this world
And break the silence
We will sing your song
Where injustice lies

Crying oh-o-oh
Heaven pour out your glory
Crying oh-o-oh
Heaven pour out your glory

We will carry your dreams
To heal the earth
Take the kingdom of God
To the broken and hurt

To the far ends of earth we go
Your love story must be told
We will not live in comfort anymore

I was really amazed at the way Piper’s words echo the sentiment of the lyrics from Break the Silence.   In our worship Sunday (and every day) what we sing and play isn’t just about that one song or that worship set.   It’s about celebrating Salvation…it’s about coming into God’s presence because he desires our worship…but it’s also about showing those who are apart from God what walking with our Creator is all about. 

Focus on Worship — Are we amazed?

I came across a song titled Amazed by Jared Anderson.  The lyrics really got me to thinking again on how we enter the presence of our HOLY God.  Take a look:
 
You dance over me,
While I am unaware.
You sing all around,
But I never hear the sound.
 
Lord I’m amazed by You.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
Lord I’m amazed by You.
How You love me.
 
How wide
How deep
How great
Is your love for me
 
My perspective these days is this:  One single sin separates us from God.  The simple fact of the matter is that when God sees the sin in our lives, he sees that his law has been broken.  The payment for breaking God’s law is death….eternal death.  Yet, when we trust in the blood of Christ poured out over our hearts and God sees our sin, instead of pouring out death on us, he is SATISFIED with the SACRIFICE of his perfect, sinless Son.  The payment for sin is poured out on him instead of us.  Read that again:  The payment for sin is poured out on JESUS INSTEAD OF US!!!!!  Somehow, this doesn’t overwhelm us like it should.  It doesn’t amaze us anymore.  Why it is that knowing that ALL OF GOD’S WRATH was poured out on JESUS CHRIST AND NOT YOU AND ME doesn’t knock our legs out from under us to where we have no choice but to fall on our face before him in worship?  Why doesn’t God’s love AMAZE us anymore?  Why Doesn’t Jesus’ sacrifice AMAZE us anymore?
 
Seriously, folks, do you think that Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane in anticipation of the cross, or the flogging, or the nails?   Not a chance.  That torment was the direct result of anticipating ALL OF GOD’S WRATH being poured out on HIM!    This was the final sacrifice.  No ‘do overs’ with another lamb next month…no priests interceding again and again.  This was the final sacrifice.  Remember Jesus’  last words?  IT IS FINISHED.  (For some background go read Leviticus 16 and then read Hebrews 9)
 
GRACE, LOVE, and MERCY cannot just be something we pay lip-service to.  Very simply, we have been called (in part) to worship him.   For us, it is imperative that God’s grace, love, and mercy are hidden in our hearts and evident on our faces as we stand amazed before him. 

Focus on Worship…Creation

I caught an interview with Mike Massimino on Letterman last night.  Massimino is a NASA astronaut who  is featured in the  IMAX 3D movie on the Hubble Telescope.  He was one of several astronauts to complete the spacewalks that upgraded the Hubble Telescope.  In the interview, Dave asks him to describe what it was like to be in space and look back at Planet Earth for the first time.  Take a look at this clip

I was amazed when he said that when he first looked at the Earth he had to look away.  He said that the thought that went through his head was this “this was something I’m not supposed to look at…it’s a secret….people aren’t supposed to see this…..There are no words to describe this beauty”  He goes on to say, “The second time I looked I started to get a little emotional.”  And Finally he says of his third look at the Earth from space, “the thought went through my head that if you’re in Heaven, this is what you’d see…”

I don’t want to get into a discussion of what we are going to see from Heaven, but as I consider the song, Son of God from Starfield, and the opening lyric that says:

Son of God, Shaper of the stars, You alone the dweller of my heart.  Mighty King, how beautiful you are”

I know that when I enter His presence, I want to say, as Massimino did, “there are no words to describe this beauty.”

Radical–Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream-a review

I need to ask a question.  But, before you read any further, go get your Bible. 

Go ahead….I’ll wait.   

Seriously, go get it and come right back here. 

 OK, now that you have it, hold it in your hand and read this question out loud:

 Do I really believe this book? 

Just for good measure, look at the Bible in your hand and ask the question….out loud, so you hear it….Do I really believe this book? 

 Early in the first Radical sermon, we are asked if we ‘really believe what is contained in the Bible.’  As I read through the Radical book, I am constantly bothered by this question because if I claim to be a follower of Jesus, and the Bible is the word of God, then the reality is that there are certain implications for my life.  Dr. Platt refers to them as radical implications.  The thing is (and this is what hurts a little)….they are only radical by the world’s standards.  As far as God is concerned, they are simply the natural response to his love, grace and mercy. 

 While it is occasionally difficult to read the tough words he writes, Dr. Platt isn’t afraid to say it like it is, and back it up with scripture.  Before I go any further, I want to make sure you know that Platt whole-heartedly acknowledges that our salvation is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ.  But, where he starts to strike a nerve is with the assertion that God’s “gift of grace results in the gift of a new heart.”  If we have that new heart which is, in effect, God’s heart, shouldn’t there be an outward visible transformation in our actions as a result of that inward renewal?   And if there is no real outward transformation, Dr Platt suggests that…

            You and I desperately need to consider whether we have ever truly, authentically trusted in Christ for our salvation…

 Ouch….Like I said, there are some tough questions in this book.   Here’s another one (actually two):  “Is materialism a blind spot in American Christianity today?  More specifically, is materialism a blind spot in your Christianity today?”    Before you answer, go read the account of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16.  Really read through it and then come back and ask the question again.

 Radical—Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream is full of challenges like this.  Now, I want to be careful in placing too much importance on this or any other book because it might lead you to conclude that we don’t need the Bible.  Folks we need the Bible.  Ultimately, I believe that the only thing that can redeem the world is God, and the spread of his gospel.  No book can or should replace the gospel.  That said, I do believe this book has the power to move us to a point where we can recognize that the version of Christianity many of us are practicing may not be what God intended for us. 

I want to recommend this book to you; especially if something about your walk has been gnawing at you.  This might be just the thing to shine a light on a few ‘blind spots” in your Christian life.  Be careful though….once they are exposed, you are going to have to do something about them.  At that point God takes you and does something radical with your life. 

 In the coming weeks, I intend to spend some time writing about specific sections of the book and take a look at what I’m doing about applying it.  I hope you can get a copy and join me on this journey as it unfolds.