Monday, October 25, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
In “No Confidence in the Flesh", Lon Solomon says that most Christians are saved by faith, but live by works. This describes much of my Christian life. And I’m sure others fall into this as well. So here’s an outline of Lon Solomon’s message ...
Phillipians 3:1-7 (NIV)
1Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.
2Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
Summary: “God’s plan for believers is that we lean on his grace and not human resources.”
Many Christians have lost what means to simply walk hand in hand w/ Jesus.
The grace of the God is his desire and ability to meet your every need.
• v. 1-2 is a warning - watch out for false teachers that put confidence in human resources.
• v. 4-6 is a testimony - Paul had every human resource that you could possibly have.
• v. 3 & 7 is a declaration - Paul threw it all away to simply rely on the grace of Jesus.
Phillipians 3:3 “For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.” (NIV)
In verse 3, Paul gives 3 marks of what it means to live for God …
• Fully depend on the Holy Spirit.
• Fully focus on Jesus.
• Put no confidence in human resources.
Phillipians 3:7 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.” (NIV)
Why did Paul consider all of his human works to be a loss? Because they distracted him from living by faith.
If we are fully depend on God, does that mean that we do nothing? Does that mean that Christian practices like bible study, prayer, fellowship, witnessing are useless? No, Christian practices are useful. God can use them and the work we do. But we can’t trust in those things – they are not an end in themselves.
If you’re like me, you’re easily distracted. You were saved by faith, but somewhere along the way you began to think that your Christian life is all about the things you do. Paul reminds us what we need to do have the abundant life the God offers us - depend on the Holy Spirit, focus on Jesus, and put no confidence in human resources.
Other related verses that I keep coming back to …
• Romans 1:16-17 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” (NIV)
• Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
• John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’” ( NIV)
• Luke 10:41-42 “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (NIV)
• John 10:10 “... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
It seems that American Christians are all about celebration. In fact, some churches have intentionally chosen the adjective “celebratory” to describe their worship style. Everything has to be upbeat, positive, encouraging (“Positive, Encouraging K-Love…”). After all, life itself is discouraging, depressing, and difficult enough; shouldn’t church be uplifting?
The Bible does indeed encourage us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). However, true celebration takes into account the gravity of mourning and suffering. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that lamentation is good for us: “The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure” (Ecc. 7:4). And the Apostle Peter reminds us that suffering is crucial to proper rejoicing: “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13). To put it another way: Redemption and Consummation ring hollow without a realistic assessment of the Fall.
We want to celebrate exuberantly on Easter Sunday. To that end, we gather first for a somber and melancholy observance of Good Friday, this Friday at 7 PM at Suckau Chapel. Our Good Friday worship gathering will indeed be worshipful… just not in a celebratory way. We’ll reflect on the gravity of sin, the seriousness of God’s wrath, and the dark reality of that beautiful, scandalous night.
The early Christians used to fast between Good Friday and Easter Sunday as a way of identifying with the hopelessness, grief, and pain of the early disciples. Perhaps you would find it worshipful to do the same. Whatever you do to mark the weekend, I hope you’ll not attempt to muster up a joyful spirit on Easter Sunday without embracing the fear, darkness, and lamentation of Good Friday. It’s the biblical path to true, joyful, gospel celebration.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people."
14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
I find it interesting because Moses is wanting to learn His ways and continue to find FAVOR with the LORD. That FAVOR, I'm pretty sure, is the same thing as GRACE. So for Moses to know God and experience His grace, God is going to go with him and give him REST.
Now I do think we should do things like eat right, exercise, and have a regular sleep pattern but whether we do or not we should focus on Gods grace. When we are tired we should rely on God's grace. When we are well rested we should thank God for His grace.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
What God did worked. People were hesitant to join the believers out of fear, but still received the gospel in droves. The Sanhedrin, naturally, became jealous and sought to prevent the apostles from preaching more. A respected leader wisely prevented them from carrying out any capital punishment on the apostles by arguing that if these men were not aided by God himself their movement would die. God in his wisdom used the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira to ensure that the movement would in fact be completely led by his Spirit.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I have seen many of these “near misses” in the lives of my children and in my life. These make me mindful of the “common grace” which God grants to all humankind. Though we live in a fallen world, God continually expresses His love for the world through His providence. Colossians 1:16-17 reminds us that Lord Jesus Christ made it all and keeps it all: “… all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Wow! In this life I’ll never know all that God does for me. To my shame, I go through most days taking this for granted. I grumble when things don’t go my way, but rarely praise Him when things go well.
And how much more should we as believers praise Him! For we have been given much more than “common grace”. We have been given “such a great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)!!! A friend of mine in college gave this word of testimony while his family was in turmoil: "If all that God ever gave me in my life was salvation, and He never did anything else for me, that would enough to praise Him for forever." Right on.
This brings to mind a song we sing at church, “Thank You” …
“For all that You’ve done I will thank You
For all that You’re going to do
For all that You’ve promised and all that You are
And all that You’ve carried me through
Jesus I thank You
And I thank You, thank You, Lord!
And I thank You, thank You, Lord!
Thank You for loving and setting me free
Thank You for giving Your life just for me
How I thank You, Jesus I thank You
I gratefully thank You, and I thank You”
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Two things need to happen: 1) we need to identify potential leaders and 2) be willing to support those leaders when they do things different than we would -- after all we aren't doing things the way our parents did.
Above all tho we need to allow methods to change while remaining true to Scripture -- that is the basis of all ministry: how does it stack up against the Bible. If it does then my advice to my generation is: let it go. If it doesn't we need to provide guidance - pointing to Scripture where the issue deviates and recommend other alternatives.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I was challenged by this and I want to point out two things about this:
- What they had to say they understood as fact
- We should have a similar sense of urgency in sharing God with others
- The Bible is a book comprised of many literary works
- These literary works describe a man named Jesus
- Jesus claimed to be God and brought a message of grace and reconciliation
- Jesus's closest friends saw him die and live again
- Reconciliation and grace can be ours
The Bible contains a portion of the works and teachings of Jesus (John says that if everything were written down the world's books couldn't contain it). The teachings recorded are so radical and unlike anything else that they seem crazy but the facts are:
- Since my dad didn't exasperate me I know he loves me (Ephesians)
- I obeyed the authorities and got good grades (Romans)
- My brother and sister understand grace and forgiveness so they still love me (Gospels)
Share the facts and let those who hear deal with it.
The UrgencyOften when something is important to you it's important enough to share. When your friends have babies you tell people about it, when you get engaged you let people know, if you liked a particular movie you tell people to see it, if you like a restaurant you tell people to try it. These things just flow out during conversation as if we couldn't help it. Our experiences with the church, the Bible and God should probably be similar. If our experiences with the community of Christ don't impact us then we're unlikely to think they are worth sharing.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Many of us are obsessed with determining God’s will for our lives. Myriads of books have been written, sermons preached, speeches given, Bible studies pored over, all in an effort to discover God’s plan for our future. This is understandable for two reasons. One, the Scriptures are obsessed with discovering God’s will. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:17: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Second, everyone desires a purpose for their life.
I believe that this commendable desire to discern God’s will or purpose for our lives becomes a dangerous combination with the busy schedules and oodles of leisure time that belong to wealthier societies. Many of us have so much on our plates that we don’t want to take the time to wait for God to show us his way. We have so many other activities to occupy our time with we get easily distracted from waiting on the Lord. We come to expect that God will slot his map for our lives into our hectic schedules, much like a repairman, “between 2 and 4 pm on Wednesday.” When he doesn’t show, we move on to the next bullet on our schedule and get on with our lives.
This brings us to the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch found in Acts 8:26-40. Philip finds himself in an odd situation: Knowing where God wants him to be but not knowing what God wants him to do. Philip had been evangelizing in Samaria and doing miraculous signs. One day an angel of the Lord tells him to go down to the desert road. That’s it, nothing more nothing less. Now, being a desert road, I am sure Philip did not expect to find much going on. God simply tells Philip to be in a place. Have you ever heard a fellow brother explain that God had commanded him to go somewhere? “Why?” you may ask. “What will you be doing?” “I don’t know,” he replies. “God just told me to go there.” You would think that he needed a few more lessons in determining God’s will in his life.
So Philip goes down to the road and on his way meets the chariot of the Ethiopian. Remember, Philip has no idea why he is there. He may have observed several groups of people traveling the road. He may have walked north than south than north again. When the Ethiopian comes in sight, however, God gives him a most unusual command. “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Weird, huh? I know. God tells Philip to run alongside a chariot. The great evangelist and miracle worker is told to run alongside a chariot. Again, no reason why. Put yourself in Philip’s sandals. Think about how you would react in this situation. I know I would probably peel off at a hundred yards or so to go get homework done. I would ask God to clarify his will for me.
Apparently Philip is more patient and obedient than I am. He runs alongside the chariot for who knows how long. The Scriptures do not say. It explains that Philip heard him reading a passage out of Isaiah and asked whether the Ethiopian whether he knew what it meant. Again the facts are sparse. I like to think that Philip was running along listening to the eunuch reading out of Isaiah. When Philip heard the Ethiopian get to the particular passage quoted in Acts, he recognized his opportunity and took advantage of it. It was an opportunity available only because Philip had taken the time to run alongside the chariot.
I like this story because God never told Philip what to do. He only told him where to be. As a Christian, Philip, like the rest of us, knew how to behave and how to treat others. Yet we still desire God’s will for us perfectly spelled out. Philip didn’t need that. He only needed God to tell him where to be. His Christian attitude towards others took over when the opportunity presented itself.
So the next time you are impatient with where you are in life and are seeking to discover God’s will for your life, try running alongside a chariot for awhile. As a Christian immersed in the Word, you’ll know what to do when the opportunity arises.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
I need to keep this short because I ran out of time on Day 1 to actually write this note and the challenge for Day 2 is no media (this is like work and no I did not waste time on here before I wrote this note).
Day 1 - Clothing
Challenge: wear the same clothes you wore yesterday
Bible verse: Luke 12:22-34
I am going to be honest this wasn't too big of a deal to me. I don't care about wearing the same thing two days in a row maybe that was because I could tell people I was doing it to help raise awareness for World Vision. I wonder what it would have been like if I had to do it for a week or what if I didn't have an option. I know that would bother me, I would be self-conscience and feel like people were judging me.
The verse for the day was really good. I especially liked the "Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes." I really liked this in light of what we are doing this weekend. It is just a great reminder that God loves us and will take care of us.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Let’s be reminded that Jesus was motivated by compassion …
Matthew 9.36 - “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 14.14 - “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”
Matthew 15.32 - “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.”
Matthew 20.34 - “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.”
Compassion drove Jesus to care for others’ physical, spiritual and emotional needs. Without compassion we can never see people as God sees them.
I believe compassion is cultivated by pain. The most compassionate people I know are those that have endured great personal loss. Experiencing pain enables them to take pause, consider others’ pain, and respond w/ mercy.
And a merciful response is what is required of us in Micah 6:8 - “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
As Bob Pierce (founder of World Vision) wrote after seeing great need in China and Korea, "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."
Lord, may you deal w/ us as you spoke to Israel in Ezekiel 36:26 - “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
Grant us compassion Lord.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Why and How I Am Tweeting
I see two kinds of response to social Internet media like blogging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and others.
One says: These media tend to shorten attention spans, weaken discursive reasoning, lure people away from Scripture and prayer, disembody relationships, feed the fires of narcissism, cater to the craving for attention, fill the world with drivel, shrink the soul’s capacity for greatness, and make us second-handers who comment on life when we ought to be living it. So boycott them and write books (not blogs) about the problem.
The other response says: Yes, there is truth in all of that, but instead of boycotting, try to fill these media with as much provocative, reasonable, Bible-saturated, prayerful, relational, Christ-exalting, truth-driven, serious, creative pointers to true greatness as you can.
Together with the team at Desiring God, I lean toward response #2. “Lean” is different from “leap.” We are aware that the medium tends to shape the message. This has been true, more or less, with every new medium that has come along—speech, drawing, handwriting, print, books, magazines, newspapers, tracts, 16mm home movies, flannel-graph, Cinerama, movies, Gospel Blimps, TV, radio, cassette tapes, 8-Tracks, blackboards, whiteboards, overhead projection, PowerPoint, skits, drama, banners, CDs, MP3s, sky-writing, video, texting, blogging, tweeting, Mina-Bird-training, etc.
Dangers, dangers everywhere. Yes. But it seems to us that aggressive efforts to saturate a media with the supremacy of God, the truth of Scripture, the glory of Christ, the joy of the gospel, the insanity of sin, and the radical nature of Christian living is a good choice for some Christians. Not all. Everyone should abstain from some of these media. For example, we don’t have a television.
That’s my general disposition toward media.
Now what about Twitter? I find Twitter to be a kind of taunt: “Okay, truth-lover, see what you can do with 140 characters! You say your mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things! Well, this is one of those ‘all things.’ Can you magnify Christ with this thimble-full of letters?”
To which I respond:
The sovereign Lord of the earth and sky
Puts camels through a needle’s eye.
And if his wisdom see it mete,
He will put worlds inside a tweet.
So I am not inclined to tweet that at 10AM the cat pulled the curtains down. But it might remind me that the Lion of Judah will roll up the heavens like a garment, and blow out the sun like a candle, because he just turned the light on. That tweet might distract someone from pornography and make them look up.
I’ve been tweeting anonymously for a month mainly to test its spiritual and family effects on me. In spite of all the dangers, it seems like a risk worth taking. “All things were created through Christ and for Christ” (Colossians 1:16). The world does not know it, but that is why Twitter exists and that’s why I Tweet.
By his grace and for his glory,
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Friday, January 29, 2010
- It involves more people (evening service averages 30-40 people and the morning service 250-300 (rough estimates, no idea really but you get the point)).
- It is a great, exciting, and joyous time not only for the individual being baptized but also for the church body.
- It is essentially like the announcing of a birth of a baby or the marriage of two people.
- It marks a healthy and growing church.
- It could and should encourage people to share their faith.
- It is an opportunity to boldly and clearly present the gospel during the worship service.