Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mid-Year Bible Reading Update

Well, we are now half way through the year 2011. Hard to believe it - where did the time go? Did you make a resolution last January to be more faithful in Bible reading this year? Anybody commit to reading the whole Good Book in 2011?  How are you doing in keeping that promise?

The church I attend put out their own plan to read the whole Bible in 2011.  There is something extra special in having a whole church famili;y reading the same passages every week.  At the half way point I am current on our plan and half way through the Bible.  Feels good.

If you made a resolution but have slipped in your commitment, why not start again with a mid year resolution?  July 1 is also a good time to start!

Link to Bible Reading Plans for 2011

How Hot is It?

Don't know about where you live, but where I live it's been pretty hot!

Getting Out

Getting Out - Tim Keller - TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

This video shows Tim Keller demonstrating how to preach Christ from an Old Testament text, by preaching Exodus 14, i.e. the Crossing of the Red Sea.  He teaches that the Christian life is about "Getting Out":  (1) What we are getting out of, (2) How to get out of it, and (3) why we can get out of it.

An Isrealite living in the days of the exodus would say that he was a slave under sentence of death who sheltered his life under the blood of the passover lamb, was led through the water by his mediator and redeemer, on his way to a promised land guided through a desert by the Spirit of his God, fed by the bread of life and guaranteed that God would be with him until he reached his promised land at the end.  Don't Christians say the same thing?

Well worth the time to listen!

Hat Tip:  The Resurgence:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Curing a Complaining Spirit

I was feeling a complaining spirit coming on this morning.... and then I read this:
The fact is, most of our complaining stems from a faulty sense of entitlement. We all have long lists of things we think we deserve. When everything that we “deserve” doesn’t fall in our laps, we complain. We view ourselves as the injured party who has every right to grumble. Work is stressful, we don’t feel like we deserve that. We have relational problems, we don’t feel like we deserve that either....

...The gospel makes it clear that all we deserve is hell. God created us. Therefore he owns us, and we owe him our complete allegiance and gratitude. But we rebelled. We wave him off as unimportant even as we revel in his blessings every day, living in warm houses, eating delicious food, and enjoying the company of loved ones.
The beauty of the gospel is getting what we don’t deserve. We have mercy instead of justice, salvation instead of damnation. Even on our worst days we are doing infinitely better than we deserve. When we complain, we are telling God that this incredible grace isn’t enough.

In order to cut complaining out of our lives, we should actively savor and apply the gospel. We must adopt an attitude of deep thankfulness. Let’s remember the incredible grace and blessing we have received in light of our utter depravity. We really could not ask for more.

          ----By Stephen Altrogge from The Greener Grass Conspiracy
Not much room for complaining left, is there!

Hat Tip:  Cutting the Nerve of Complaining | Crossway

Utterly Useless

"But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah." (Jeremiah 2:28)

 “The worst thing about idols, as the Hebrew scriptures so tirelessly point out, is that they are utterly useless when you need them most (Jer. 2:28).”
                                             — Christopher J. H. Wright

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dos and Don'ts for Web-Savy Ministries

At the website of America Magazine, "the National Catholic Weekly," there is a good list of 10 Dos and Don'ts for Web-Savy Organizations. Good advice here for any church, ministry or any Christian organization.

Hat Tip: The Anchoress

BTW: Did you know that the Pope now has a twitter account? See

Works For Me, Works On Me

Jesus Didn't Die to Make Your Life Easy:
"Alabama Methodist bishop Will Willimon, formerly the chaplain at Duke University, recounted a conversation he once overheard between two Duke students where the first told the second how he was a Christian, to which the second replied, 'Well, whatever works for you.' 'You don't know much about Christianity do you?' the first student said. 'It doesn't work for me. If anything Christianity works on me, changing me into somebody I don't always want to be.'"

Run From Self-Help Preaching!

I like (and agree with) these comments from Chuck Collins (guest posting on Tullian Tchividjian's blog)
I have come to see that there are really just two ways to preach: one is the gospel, the other is get-better messages. The first is based on God’s goodness; the second on self-improvement. Gospel preaching presupposes that, even though we deserve punishment for our sins, Jesus Christ suffered the punishment in our place on the cross. Get-better sermons, on the other hand, is moralistic advice in which a preacher mounts a pulpit to scold the people for not doing more or getting better (F Allison).....

....My conversion to gospel preaching was gradual. I don’t remember what the initial catalyst was, except that people weren’t getting better with sermons on discipline and how to improve your marriage. Those moralistic sermons doled out plenty of advice about what to do, but it totally missed what God has done for us in his Son. Christ came, not to help religious people get better, but to help sinners realize that forgiveness and salvation is outside themselves: in Jesus Christ.....
....When you get to church to find out that the preacher is in the third of a 10-sermon series on “10 steps to cure depression” get up and run out of there as fast as your depressed legs can take you. It’s self-help, not the gospel. Chalk it up to a well meaning preacher who hasn’t yet realized that our real hope is in God, in the sufficiency of his work on the cross and in the salvation that is not found in get-better sermons.

From: My Biggest Regret

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Most Neglected Component of Discipleship

From the blog Forward Progress comes this intriguing question -What is The Most Neglected Component of Discipleship
Scripture memory?
Nope. I think it’s love.
What does the greatest command hinge upon? Love. What will be the defining characteristic of followers of Jesus? Love. What will never pass away, even after faith and hope are gone? Love.
Love is the mark of the disciple. But here’s the problem: You can’t teach love.
Much more at the link above.

We Have It Better Than We can Imagine

Christian, you and I have it better than we realize, and even better than we can imagine.  Consider these words from Kyle Idleman (italics in the original).
Sometimes I hear people talk about the different men and women in the Old Testament, and there is a hint of jealousy.  They may say it, or just insinuate it, but here's what they communicate.

What would it have been like to hear God's voice and see him move in such powerful ways? I wish it was the same for us as it was for those whose stories we read about in Scripture. When I get to heaven I can't wait to ask David, Elijah, or Moses what it was like.

But I think it will be just the opposite in heaven. Before we can ask David what it was like to slay the giant, to win the battles, he'll say, Tell me what it was like on earth to have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, giving you strength when you are weak.  We might say to Elijah, What was it like to call down fire from heaven before the prophets of Baal and to raise that boy from the dead? And I think Elijah might say, Yeah, he actually ended up dying again.  You tell me what it's like to have God living inside of you. What was it like to live life on earth with the Holy Spirit giving you joy when you are depressed or giving you the power to overcome sin in your life? We might say to Moses, What was it like to follow the cloud by day and fire by night? What was it like to meet with God on that mountain? And  Moses might say, I had to climb that mountain to meet with God. You tell me what it was like to have him dwell within you every day.  What was it like to have the Holy Spirit giving you directions whne you didn't know what to do or where to go?
               ( From Not A Fan, Kyle Idleman, page 91)
If we really realized that we have it better than the Old Testament heros, if we really believed that Jesus meant what he said about it being better for the disciples if he went away so he could send the Holy Spirit, wouldn't our lives be radically different?

Think about it.  I know I am.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Not Invented Yesterday

Winfield Bevins, lead pastor of Church of the Outer Banks and author of Grow: Reproducing through Organic Discipleship, has written a soon to be released book called Creed: Connect to the Basic Essentials of the Christian Faith. Creed ties the needs of the changing, current culture to the historic faith of the church by providing the essentials of the faith in an easy-to-understand format.  From a post at The Resurgence:
Christianity wasn’t invented yesterday and the church is much larger than one denomination or nationality. These three standards— the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments— have been used as a sturdy foundation for discipleship and doctrine for nearly two thousand years. If they were essential for the early generation of believers, shouldn’t they be important for us as well? Why should we reinvent the wheel?

I suspect we do because of our obsession of the new. We live in a culture of change where we value everything new. We tend to focus on the “now” or the “moment” at the expense of the “eternal.” But just because something is new doesn’t mean it is better. Likewise, just because something is old doesn’t mean it is useless and outdated.
There is also a web page promoting the book.  Another one for my wish list.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Revival: Lord Do It Again!

Lord, Do It Again! from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Why isn't there as much interest in revival among Christians today compared to former years? In the video above from the Gospel Coalition, Collin Hansen poses that question to Tim Keller and Nancy Leigh DeMoss, each of whom has been inspired by reading about past revivals to aspire for such an awakening today.

Hat Tip: Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Abortion as Child Sacrifice

I commend to your attention an article by Tyson Supasatit at wayfaring stranger (but not lost) entitled Child sacrifice as analogous to abortion.  This is an unpleasant subject, but we need to face the reality of what went on then, and is going on now.
"A study of child sacrifice in the Old Testament yields some basic lessons that Christians can apply to the modern debate surrounding abortion. The Old Testament repeatedly conveys God’s abhorrence of child sacrifice. God commanded the Israelites through Moses, “Do not give up any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech [a Canaanite god], for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the Lord.”[1] God says that child sacrifice is antithetical to true worship, and that the Israelites profane His name if they practice it while claiming to be His specially chosen people. Despite this clear command, the Israelites did eventually sacrifice their children to Molech. The author of Chronicles condemns various Israelite kings for sacrificing their own children and for allowing their subjects to do so. Later, prophets warn the Israelites against child sacrifice, reminding them of God’s command given in Leviticus. The command is clear, yet the Israelites repeatedly fall into this sin."
The article is an excerpt from his upcoming book Learning to to Do Right: Social Justice in the Old Testament. Much more at the link.

Radical, But Not Pessimistic

The Christian view of sin is radical but not pessimistic because to see sin in Christian terms is to see that sin can be forgiven. That really is freedom. That really is amazing grace.
— Rebecca Pippert, Hope Has Its Reasons, (San Francisco, Ca.: Harper & Row, 1989), 106

Hat Tip: Of First Importance

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Jesus Movement Turns 40

The Jesus Movement Turns 40 @ Thinking Out Loud
Christian Festivals and the Jesus Movement: @ Tall Skinny Kiwi
We Need Another Jesus Movement - J. Lee Grady
A New Jesus People Movement - The Journeyman's Files

40 years ago this week.  I remember that magazine cover! 

Jesus became real to me in 1970, during the youth revival known as the "Jesus Movement." Those were exciting and heady days. Sometimes it seemed like you could just walk down the hall at many high schools and just breathe on people and they would get saved.

Ocean baptisms, giant rallies, concerts from the early days of contemporary Christian music (before the "suits" from the record companies took it over) - I saw it all. Most of the Christian leaders in American churches who are now in their 50's and even 60's got their spiritual start in the Jesus Movement of the 1970's.

As a veteran of the "Jesus Movement,"  I now officially feel old - but grateful for all God did in my life back in those days. May he do it again with a new generation!

Am I Really a Christian?

Have you ever asked yourself the question Am I Really a Christian? Are you sure? A new website by the folks at 9 Marks and Crossway Books may help you answer that question.
You may be wondering if you are a Christian or know someone who's questioning their faith. Or maybe you know you're not a Christian and you wonder what it really means to be one. Or maybe still you are sure of your salvation, but you're looking for trusted tools to help you along your spiritual journey....Ultimately, we hope this website will provide you with the answers you're looking for and guidance along the way, as you examine your life and ask the question, "Am I really a Christian?"
The web page was inspired by the new book by Mike McKinley by the same title:

Am I Really a Christian? is an explicit challenge to take inventory of your life and assess what you believe. With his witty, engaging style, Mike McKinley offers a framework for evaluating your standing before God and will help you understand what it means to be a Christian
Here's a sample video from the site:

What is the Gospel? from Crossway on Vimeo.

Click the link above for more content.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Growth By Shrinking

Good stuff from Matt Johnson at The Resurgance:
The Christian life isn’t primarily about growth for the sake of personal improvement, but receiving the basics of Jesus’ death and resurrection. It’s time we shrink from our elaborate, self-involved spiritual aspirations of do more, try harder. See, we tend toward doing because, well...doing is about our self-progress and we like to take credit for our achievements. But the gospel is about the foundation of what has already been done for us.

Much more at: 3 Steps To Shrink Spiritually | The Resurgence

A Diagnostic Kit: Four Gospel Truths

Here's a Monday morning diagnostic kit for yours and my gospel health:
The key to gospel change is the recognition that change takes place through faith. We become Christians by faith and we grow as Christians by faith. Faith recognizes that God is bigger and better than anything sin might offer. So what’s the connection between faith in God and your Monday-morning struggles? Identifying and remembering these four liberating truths about God will help:
  1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control
  2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
  3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
  4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves
A failure to embrace one of these four truths lies behind most of our sinful behavior and negative emotions. So ‘the four Gs’ are like a diagnostic kit to help us identify the gospel truth that we need focus on.
From: 4 Gospel Truths to Remember on Monday Morning | Crossway

Sunday, June 19, 2011

To A New Level

“This is the beauty of making disciples. When we take responsibility for helping others grow in Christ, it automatically takes our own relationship with Christ to a new level.”

      — David Platt, Radical (Colorado Springs, Co.: Multnomah Books, 2010), 100-101

Hat Tip: The beauty of making disciples | Of First Importance

Unless You First...

O Lord
teach me to seek you,
and reveal yourself to me
when I seek you.
For I cannot seek you unless
you first teach me,
nor find you unless
you first reveal yourself to me.
Let me seek you in longing,
and long for you in seeking.
Let me find you in love,
and love you in finding.
- Ambrose of Milan, c. 340 – 397

Hat Tip:  Teach Me to Seek You : Kingdom People:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Goal for My Humble Blog

"If thou findest me short in things, impute that to my love of brevity.
If thou findest me besides the truth in aught [any respect], impute that to my infirmity.
But if thou findest anything here that serves to your furtherance and joy of the faith, impute that to the mercy of God bestowed on thee and me.
Yours to serve you with what little I have."
—John Bunyan, Note to Reader, “Saved by Grace,” in The Works of John Bunyan, 1:336.

Works for me too!

Hat Tip: A Nice Little Introduction to This Blog – Justin Taylor:

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Difference Between What You Have and What You've Received

From a great post at the blog Students of Jesus:
There’s only a small difference between the words, “Give what you have,” and “Give what you’ve received,” but it’s the difference between two kingdoms.
They go one to say:
“Give what you have” focuses on our talents, our abilities, and our wealth. The starting point is what we have. We bring our not only our resources to the party but also our understanding, our methods and our values. One of the telltales of lifeless religion is people working hard to serve God, bringing the sacrifice of their time, energy and money. A sign of the Kingdom is people who joyfully share what they’ve received.....

....“Give what you’ve received” focuses on what God does in us and through us instead of our own abilities. Jesus’ instructions to the disciples were simple, and simply impossible: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” Easy, right? In reality, Jesus gave them a commission that required them to figure out a way to take the Master’s presence and power along with them, even when Jesus stayed behind.
More at the link - Good stuff!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Overcoming The Sin Underneath All Sins

In the midst of an on-going friendly disagreement and discussion with Keven DeYoung over grace and Christian growth (click here, here, and here for the details), Tullian Tchividjian dropped this wonderful little bon mot worth much attention:
"What is indisputable is the fact that unbelief is the force that gives birth to all of our bad behavior and every moral failure. It is the root. “The sin underneath all sins”, said Martin Luther, “is the lie that we cannot trust the love and grace of Jesus and that we must take matters into our own hands.” Therefore, since justification is where the guillotine for unbelief and self-salvation is located, we dare not assume it, brush over it, or move past it. It must never become the backdrop. It must remain front and center–getting the most attention."
From: First Things First – Tullian Tchividjian

Passing The Torch

Three well-known pastors in their 60's recently sat together to discuss the issue of pastoral transition. Video and text below is from Piper Talks with Carson, Keller About Succession Plans at Bethlehem – The Gospel Coalition Blog:
"Last Sunday, John Piper updated the congregation of Bethlehem Baptist Church on his plans to transition in three years—June 30, 2014—from pastor for preaching and vision to focus on writing, speaking, mentoring, and teaching at Bethlehem College and Seminary. Back in April, Piper, 65, called for six weeks of prayer and fasting at Bethlehem to seek the leading of the Holy Spirit about what to do after he relinquishes day-to-day leadership and preaching at the church.
Two days after making this original call, Piper sat down with two other 60-somethings, Don Carson and Tim Keller, to talk about growing old and passing on responsibility for the churches and ministries they lead. The Bible prizes age, Piper says, but “getting old is a series of losses.” Wise, aging leaders don’t multitask as they did in their youth, because if they try to do everything, they’ll do it all badly, even if they maintain a “ridiculous amount of energy,” as Carson does. But Keller cautions that driven leaders often take on too much responsibility out of bad motivations and should have made these changes sooner.
While Piper admits Bethlehem is still seeking for the best way to transition, Keller explains Redeemer Presbyterian’s plans to divide into four congregations over the next decade with the hope that the church’s appeal will broaden with a new crop of lead pastors.
“It’s something that makes me not feel like I’m in my 60s playing out the string,” Keller says of the transition. “I feel like I’m doing something with my leaders which is every bit as big, in a way, and creative as starting a church.”"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Prayer in Light of the NBA Finals

 Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z: A Prayer in Light of LeBron James:

Help for Christian Bloggers

Any other Christian bloggers out there who stumble across my humble little blog should probably check out The Upright Project, a web page designed to help Christian bloggers to "Blog better." Some recent articles included:

A Serious Bloggers First Year Goals
100 Goals to Consider With Your Blog
The Christian Approach to Writer's Block
Before You Start Your Christian BlogHow I Found My Perfect Niche

Thanks to blogger Christopher Morris for creating this resource for the rest of us.

Getting Religion

I recently discovered a interesting and provocative web site called Get Religion. The subject matter is the press, news and entertainment media and their understanding of religious stories and issues (and their frequent misunderstanding of the same)

The writers review various stories from the main stream press, as well as local media outlets, and discuss the religious angles to stories that are misunderstood, not noticed, not fully explained, or misinterpreted. They also occasionally note a reporter who got something right!

IMHO, the site is worth a regular reading. I expect to be frequently linking to their stuff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hearts and Heads

"Is it not a pity that our hearts are not as orthodox as our heads?

But I see we have but half learned our lesson, when we know it, and can say it. When the understanding hath learned it, there is more ado to teach our wills and affections, our eyes, our tongues, and hands."
                         --Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (Banner of Truth,1979), 134

Hat Tip: Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology

Monday, June 13, 2011

Meeting Potential Kings & Queens of the Cosmos

"If the kingdom is what Jesus says it is, then that means what matters isn't just what we neatly classify as spiritual. The natural world around us isn't just a temporary environment. It's part of our future inheritance in Christ. The underemployed hotel maids we walk past silently in the hallway aren't just potential objects of our charity; they are potential queens of the cosmos (James 2:5). Our jobs--whatever they might be--aren't accidental. The things we do to serve in our local churches aren't random. God is designing our lives--individually and congregationally--as internships for the eschaton. We're learning in little things how to be put in charge of great things (Matt. 25:14-23)."
--Russell Moore, 'Kingdom: Heaven after Earth, on Earth, or Something Else? in Don't Call it a Comeback (ed. Kevin DeYoung; Crossway, 2011), 125

Hat tip:  Strawberry-Rhubarb Theology: Internships for the Eschaton:

Believing Bigger, Deeper, Brighter

"Christian growth, in other words, does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners. I need my family and friends to remind me of this all the time.

The bottom line is this, Christian: because of Christ’s work on your behalf, God does not dwell on your sin the way you do. So, relax and rejoice…and you’ll actually start to get better. The irony, of course, is that it’s only when we stop obsessing over our own need to be holy and focus instead on the beauty of Christ’s holiness, that we actually become more holy! Not to mention, we start to become a lot easier to live with!"

                                 -Tullian Tchividjian at The Resurgence

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thanks for the Prayers

Thank you to all who prayed for my mother after my prayer request last week. She went home from the hospital on Friday, and is doing better. Still a long way to full recovery, and we appreciate your continued prayers.

God is good! Thanks, again, for your prayers.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

You Can Have Your Way

I have always loved the song DWELL, and echo its words as my great desire in corporate worship.
Dwell in the midst of us
Come and dwell in this place
Dwell in the midst of us
Come and have Your way

Dwell in the midst of us
Wipe all the tears from our faces
Dwell in the midst of us
You can have Your way

Not our will, but Yours be done
Come and change us
Not our will, but Yours be done
Come sustain us
More lyrics:

I hope you all can experience this in your worship services this Sunday!

Church Shopping

Looking for a new church? Check out What to Look for in a Church? Refining Your Checklist at The Chief End of Man

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Economics of Love

From Brian Zahnd's blog:
Jesus didn’t teach capitalist economics or socialist economics, Jesus taught love economics. In this present fallen age the competition of a free market is probably the best way to arrange an economy, for the simple reason that the market is far more capable of fixing prices than any central committee. That being said, followers of Jesus must do what they can to make sure that competition is mitigated with copious amounts of compassion; because without compassion we turn the free market into a kind of vicious blood sport where those least equipped to compete are trampled underfoot and left behind. In other words, we must make sure that the losers in the game (and it is a game!) don’t lose everything. The Jesus way requires that love have a place in the economy and that competition be humane and not dog-eat-dog.
Source:  Love Economics |
Brian is the author of Unconditional, my favorite book from all I have read in the past year.

Unforgiveness is Like Cancer

A touching story about the power of forgiveness at Love thy neighbor @ GetReligion. It tells of a woman named Mary who learned to forgive the man who shot her son.  The best and most significant quote to me is the following statement:
“Unforgiveness is like cancer,” Mary says. “It will eat you from the inside out. It’s not about that other person, me forgiving him does not diminish what he’s done. Yes, he murdered my son - but the forgiveness is for me. It’s for me.”
 Read the whole story at the link above.

Blue Like Jazz: The Movie:

Years ago I wrote about the possibility of a movie version of Donald Miller's book Blue Like Jazz. Well, guess what? The rumors were true and the movie is being made.

Considering the subject matter, and that it is produced by Steven Taylor, I expect this will be one weird, wild and wonderful flick!

Hat Tip: Thinking Out Loud and Euangelion

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Through My Fingers

“Imagine that you have placed your hand, with fingers narrowly separated, in front of your face. When you attempt to look through your fingers, your vision is obstructed. As long as your hand is in front of your face, no matter where you turn to look, your vision will be altered by your fingers. So it is with an idol in my heart. It will exercise inescapable influence over my life. Wherever I go, whatever I am doing, the idol will influence what I do and how I do it. This is the reason God says, “It makes no sense for me to talk about anything else, because whatever I say somehow, some way, will be used to serve the idol that rules your heart. Therefore, I want to deal with your idolatry. That is my priority.”

                      -    Paul Tripp, Age of Opportunity, p30-31

Quoted at Seeing Life Through My Fingers | SBC Voices

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stupid Is As Stupid Does...

When the Bible Calls You Stupid

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
 but he who hates reproof is stupid. - Proverbs 12:1
"...I am not aware of many places in the Bible where God calls someone stupid. God obviously does not think very highly of those who hate reproof. And neither should we. The question we should be asking ourselves is to what degree does our life welcome and receive reproof? Are we prone to getting defensive, prideful, or offer justifications? Or do we receive them, like David, as a kindness and “oil for my head”? Are we creating a culture in our gospel communities and church gatherings where Scripture is truly profitable in both constructive and corrective ways? Or, are we be negligence, failing to appreciate the sufficiency of God’s Word and creating a people whom God calls stupid?"

Kingdom Context

I haven't posted much about Kingdom Theology recently, so here's a good summary from Students of Jesus on The Gospel of the Kingdom of God:
Jesus didn’t proclaim the gospel of forgiveness and heaven, he proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom of God. His gospel of the Kingdom of God differs radically from the gospel of go-to-heaven-when-you-die.

Why not take a few minutes and check out these passages:
  • John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus by preaching the Kingdom (Matthew 3: 1-2).
  • The very first message Jesus shared was the Kingdom of God (Mark 1: 14-15).
  • Jesus said the reason he came to Earth was to preach the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:43).
  • He said the new birth was the way to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3: 5).
That’s all four gospels, and we’re just getting started:
  • The book of Acts opens and closes with the Kingdom of God (Acts 1: 3 & 28: 31).
  • The Kingdom of God was Paul’s message from Corinth to Ephesus to Rome.
  • The book of Hebrews describes a kingdom that can never be shaken (12:28).
  • Peter and James depict the Kingdom of God as the calling of all believers.
  • The Holy Spirit inspired more than 150 references to God’s Kingdom in the pages of the New Testament. And don’t even get me started on pictures of the Kingdom in the Old Testament.
If the words “Kingdom of God” seem awkward when they appear after the word “gospel” perhaps it’s because we have shortened the gospel to mean exclusively redemption from sin and going to heaven. The rediscovery of the gospel of the Kingdom, along with Jesus’ commission to “make disciples and teach them to obey” stand as the greatest need in the North American church today. Discipleship under the Masters’ hand and maturity in Christ depend on the gospel of the Kingdom of God....

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Church-less Gospel?

Is it possible to be "Gospel Centered" and leave out the church, the Body of Christ? Nope, not really. The excerpt below is from A Church-less Gospel? at| SBC Voices:
When we minimize, indeed, even eliminate the local church from Christian living and following Jesus we have missed the Gospel.
Part of this stems, in my opinion, from our over-focus on a “personal relationship with Jesus.” And while undoubtedly the Christian life is very much about a relationship with Jesus (John 17:3), we must remember what the church is in regards to Jesus: his body, the temple of his Holy Spirit, his bride, his flock, and his household.
Several times over, the Bible calls Jesus the head of the church which is his body—and we are the members. A church-less gospel is like the thumb trying to be in a relationship with the head while maintaining no connection to the hand, the wrist, the arm, the shoulder, the torso, etc. A severed thumb really has no relationship to the body at all, let alone the head.

The Gospel is more about Jesus saving a people (Titus 2:14) than a particular individual. Yes, God saves his people by saving individuals but then he takes them and makes them part of something bigger than themselves—part of a flock, a body…a church.
The Gospel produces the church. And no individual Christian can live a Gospel-centered life apart from belonging to and involvement as a member in a local church....
Much more at the link.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"NoteTo Self" and the Power of Gospel Self Talk

Joe Thorn Interview V. 1 from Crossway on Vimeo.

Joe Thorn is the author of Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself  (on my book wish list!)

Hat Tip: Justin Taylor

Personal Prayer Request

My mother had a stroke Sunday morning. We'd appreciate any and all prayers for her, my Dad, and our family.

Father , we pray for a kingdom breakthrough in Mom's life, and ask for a down-payment on heaven's benefits to heal her body and restore her health.  Strengthen and comfort Dad and be with us all during this trial. Amen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ascension Sunday Thoughts

Some thoughts on Ascension Sunday:
“The Ascension is not really a departure. It is entering into a new more dynamic manner of presence beyond the bounds of ordinary space and time. It is the assurance that Jesus is with us always during the ministry He gives unto the end of the age, and a hope for the age to come.”                           - John Michael Talbot
  Hat Tip:
What happens when you downplay or ignore the ascension? The answer is that the church expands to fill the vacuum. If Jesus is more or less identical with the church—if, that is, talk about Jesus can be reduced to talk about his presence within his people rather than his standing over against them and addressing them from elsewhere as their Lord, then we have created a high road to the worst kind of triumphalism. …and the other side of triumphalism is of course despair. If you put all your eggs into the church-equals-Jesus basket, what are you left with when, as Paul says…we ourselves are found to be cracked earthenware vessels?
N.T. Wright • Surprised by Hope, p. 112
Hat Tip:
“Ascension Day proclaims that there is no sphere, however secular, in which Christ has no rights – and no sphere in which his followers are absolved from obedience to him. Instead of it being a fairy tale from the pre-space age, Christ’s ascension is the guarantee that he has triumphed over the principalities and powers, so that at his name ‘every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Phil. 2:10-11).” - Bruce Metzger

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Ascension: WIJD

Thursday was the Feast of the Ascension (40 days after Easter) in the liturgical calendar. Some thoughts from Ted Schroder at Virtue Online
Andrew Purves in The Crucifixion of Ministry takes issue with the theology of WWJD: “What would Jesus do?” He argues that it turns Jesus into a teacher of fixed moral ideas which must be imitated, i.e. a moralist not a Savior. Even with a little help from the Holy Spirit, it sounds like a religion of obedience to moral laws. This is to define Christian activity as something we do in Jesus’ name. But the Gospel is the good news about what Jesus does, not what we do. Our ministry in Jesus’ name derives from and is dependent upon the continuing ministry of Jesus. “The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” Instead of WWJD we should speak of WIJD – “What is Jesus Doing?” God is acting today through the continuing ministry of Jesus who is present to us through the Holy Spirit. This is the significance of the Ascension.


Hat Tip: Euangelion

BTW, The Crucifixion of Ministry is a great book! I've read it and recommend it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Francis Chan on "Why Do I Not Experience the Holy Spirit?"

Francis Chan - The Presence of Jesus in Suffering from Verge Network on Vimeo.

Hat Tip: Take Your Vitamin Z

How to Read a Spiritual Book

Excerpt from How to Read a Spiritual Book  at "The Scriptorium Daily"
...So here are tips on devotional reading, inspired by a 15th-century classic, composed by an anonymous 17th-century commentator, and edited by John Wesley in the 18th century; posted on a 21st-century blog.

Why? Because this is classic advice on exactly how you do it: Schedule time for spiritual reading, read for a changed heart and ask God to make it happen, read “leisurely, seriously, and with great attention,” get into the attitude of the work you’re reading, finish books, look for action points, and pray for God to do what only God can do.
Much more at the link.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Free Audio Book Download for June

 Christian' s free audio book download for June is Joni Eareckson Tada's A Place of Healing
In this eloquent account of her current struggle with physical pain, Joni Eareckson Tada offers her perspective on divine healing, God’s purposes, and what it means to live with joy. Over four decades ago, a diving accident left Joni a quadriplegic. Today, she faces a new battle: unrelenting pain.

The ongoing urgency of this season in her life has caused Joni to return to foundational questions about suffering and God’s will. A Place of Healing is not an ivory tower treatise on suffering. Its an intimate look into the life of a mature woman of God.

Whether readers are enduring physical pain, financial loss, or relational grief, Joni invites them to process their suffering with her. Together, they will navigate the distance between God’s magnificent yes and heartbreaking no and find new hope for thriving in between.
Just go to Free Downloads on christianaudio - Audiobooks, and follow the instructions.

Did I mention that it is FREE! As in NO CHARGE.