"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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    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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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. 


Terms and Conditions

Did you consider what you signed on for?  When you came to Christ, did you take time to consider what you signed on for?  I must admit that I never really paid much attention to the story Jesus tells in Luke 14:25-35.  I’m not sure I would have changed my mind about accepting Jesus, but I think I would have studied a little longer…..Actually counted the Cost.

Here’s the thing:  in the brand of Christianity many practice today, I don’t think too many folks considered the true cost of following Jesus.  I think there’s a whole bunch of people (myself included) who came to Jesus on their own terms, and not on Jesus’ terms.    It turns out that simply adding Jesus to the end of a list of stuff, accomplishments, and ideals that make up your life isn’t exactly what God had in mind.  In fact, it’s the exact opposite of what God calls for.

Luke 14:25-27

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Have you ever really read this passage?  Do you understand it?  Maybe I’m wrong, but here’s my take:

My love for Jesus needs to be so great that what ever emotion/love/respect/compassion  I have for everyone else (including myself) appears as hatred by comparison to that Love for Jesus.

Where is Jesus at on your list?  Did you come to Jesus on his terms or yours?

Tolerance or Truth?

I came across a blog recently that asked ‘non-Christians’ what would happen if Christianity taught tolerance.  You can read the post here   

This seemed like a good time to ask Christians the same thing.  Before we get too far into this I think we have to define ‘Christian’ I know there are bunches of competing definitions lately, but as I understand Christian defined in the Bible, You must:

Acknowledge your sin and sinful nature.

Repent of your sin.

Understand that “if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9) 

Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died on the cross as payment for sins and rose again on the third day to obtain victory over death and to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. 

Know that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

Earnestly pursue holiness and obedience to God’s Word.

Earnestly pursue a relationship with God through prayer, scripture, and waiting before Him. 

So, what would happen?  What would happen if we taught tolerance?

What happens if we never talk about sin or atonement?  What happens if we never say God’s word is clear?  What happens if we never remind anyone that there is only one Risen Savior?  What happens if all we preach is a watered down “Gospel Light” version of God’s word.  What happens if we welcome everybody in love with open arms, but never tell them the truth?  Would we be “tolerant Christians?”  Do you want to be a ‘tolerant Christian”?

I want to see people experience God’s Love through believers across the globe.  I want to see people re-united with God here on Earth and Heaven above.  I want to see people in Heaven.  I want to know that they can stand before God with Jesus at their side, a huge smile on their face, and hear Jesus tell the Father that He knows them intimately by name.  I want to hear God tell them “well done, good and faithful servant” 

Folks, if you are going to ‘water Christianity down’ to make it more palatable….do me a favor and just don’t talk.   If you are going to tell your friends and neighbors that their sin is OK….just be quiet.  If you are going to invite your co-worker to church and then be embarrassed that they heard a message on sin and it’s consequences….keep your invitation.  If you are going to proclaim to everyone you know that you are a FOLLOWER OF CHRIST, and then you live in direct opposition to His Word…please, lose the label.

So, let’s talk.  What would happen if Christ-followers were more tolerant?  For me, I will take truth over tolerance any day.

Please, please don’t take this as “all judgment and no love.”  You must follow God’s words on loving Him and loving your neighbor as you love yourself.   Part of that love has to include the whole truth about following Christ.  Otherwise there is no point.

Can I Get a Witness?

What are you afraid of?  I keep asking myself that question. 

Why do I find it so difficult to tell others about Jesus?  Why does it have to be so awkward?  I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.  I feel like God is giving me a desire to reach the lost.  In fact, I pray for that very thing, but following through on it is sometimes tough.   Here are some of my fears; I wonder if you share in them too. 

q   I don’t have all the answers.  What if I am asked a question and don’t have the right answer?  I might be embarrassed or appear to lack conviction. 

q   I won’t have the right words to express God’s love. 

q   I don’t understand other religions and would be unprepared to answer a comparison/contract questions when explaining my faith.

q   I might offend someone.

q   People who have no interest in the things of God tend to hold very tightly to their views (Agnostics, Atheists).  I could be starting an argument that could do more harm than good.

q   People have very little understanding of other religions and generally don’t differentiate between them.  For example, they look at Scientology, Islam, and Christianity and see the same thing.  I am afraid that I have been lumped into a category of religious weirdo’s and will have no credibility.

q   Televangelists and judgmental extremists have ruined it for the rest of us…goes back to credibility

q   I am worried about what people will think of me. 

I’m sure there are more “excuses.”  As I look back over the list, I realize that they are mostly about me.  “How will I look?”  “What will people think about me?”   I guess it is a faith thing.  Not trusting God to follow through on what he started in me.  I am struggling to move it from my head to my heart.    When I look at the early church as outlined in the book of Acts, I don’t see the Apostles making any excuses.  They just get out there and “make disciples of all nations.”  Why do I have to make excuses?  I suppose I need to dig into this a little deeper.  What is it going to take?  I welcome any thoughts you may have.