Monday, March 29, 2010

God Is God. And God Is Good.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away."
Revelation 21:3-4

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ministry Isn't Everything. Jesus Is.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you [that you have this successful(!) ministry], but rejoice that your names are written in heaven [that you have me forever]."
Luke 10:17-20
A couple of weeks ago at The Blazing Center, I saw a link to Christ Is Deeper Still and a short caption that said that if you could only read one blog, that should be the one. I couldn't more wholeheartedly agree. For several months now, it is one of maybe two or three blogs I visit daily. And if I could only have one of them, it wouldn't be a difficult choice. What Ray writes is almost always thought-provoking, challenging, and graciously prophetic. Graciously prophetic. That's a rare combination. But above all, it always points us to Christ as all in all, still more awesome than we know. Hearing him talk about his dad in this clip, it's not difficult to understand why he's grown up to become the man he is and why his blog has the flavor that it does.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why I Love Living By Faith In Future Grace

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
--William Cowper, from a hymn entitled "God Moves in a Mysterious Way"
This example is only one reason. Simply amazing. And there are millions more. God moves in a mysterious way. His wonders to perform.
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
But beware. Not all of us will see the smiling face like Molly and Abraham in this lifetime. The sobering reality of the fallen world that we live in is that some of us will spend our entire lives looking at a seemingly frowning providence.

But make no mistake about it. Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, the smile is always there. Always. Even on our best days in this life, we can only see it through a mirror dimly. But when the veil is pulled back on that day when we no longer see in a mirror dimly, we will see Jesus' radiantly smiling face (1 Corinthians 13:12). And every heartache will be forgotten. Nothing else will matter. The joy that will arise in us as we gaze at His countenance on that day will be 10,000 times better than the indescribable ecstasy that I can easily imagine Abraham and Molly must have felt in that moment of seeing God's smiling face.

When you live by faith in future grace, the best is ALWAYS still to come.

So keep waiting, brothers and sisters. Keep waiting. God loves it when we wait for Him.
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
Isaiah 64:4

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
Isaiah 30:18

"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:24-26

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the LORD more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
Psalm 130:5-6

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What Most Matters When We Pray

And I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments..."
Nehemiah 1:5
Books about prayer differ about how prayer should begin. Many of them describe different varieties of prayer: prayers of worship, of confession, of supplication and so on. Some of them recommend we start with confession and others that we open with worship. Nehemiah opens with neither. However, he does begin by fixing his eyes on the God he is approaching. And it is by calling God to mind that his faith is kindled and his heart made bold.

Neither confession nor worship, nor any other form of prayer is of itself an ideal way to begin prayer. Rather we prepare our hearts for prayer by fixing our eyes on the person we address. A vision of God will make us ready for whatever form of prayer the Holy Spirit wishes to guide us in, whether it should be confession, intercession, adoration or supplication. Nehemiah's opening sentence tells us who or what filled his horizon, which is what most matters when we pray.

--John White, Excellence In Leadership: Reaching Goals with Prayer, Courage & Determination, p.21.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Missio Dei (Mission Of God)

Missio Dei by God's Servant

[Missio Dei:]
Are we on?
So, We on, right?
Yeah what's good? Its Missio Dei, and it goes like this. It goes that. It goes like this. It goes like that.
Yeah, now lets get it and jump in, and lets hold a discussion
About Gods mission, His scope of instruction
What real of His Will? Scripture reveals that were called to a missional field
I know it sounds simple, but its complex, that a witness is sent to a context.
But its right here we deliver up concepts, getting equipped with a missional mindset.
A missional mind? Yes! Though its Christian-ese,
does fit what a Christian on mission means. We gotta show Him off, both lips and deeds.
And not merely talk it, we got to walk it!
Show Christ exalted in every facet, etched in the talk of our daily fabric.
So, past sermons and after-hooks, our whole life shows how the Gospel looks!

On Mission
Its Missio Dei!
Dig in the text! Yeah, and then we obey.
Spread the Gospel of Jesus.
Could this be the way
that we exist in missional ways?
On Mission with Him. (x2)

Yeah, now lets look at his Incarnation.
We see a great God getting with Creation,
conveys grace and His will to save men.
Now lets hone in on this demonstration.
He aint just come with the information,
but His whole life show the implications.
And like his sending, the Scriptures state this,
We get sent to present his fragrance
His mission is in the trips to nations,
or tracks passed out on the strips of pavement.
Know this, and though good forms that persist to praise Him.
The Church by herself is His missions agent.
So, if bravado or loco,
The Mission of God is us showin Jesus is oh so Holy and Perfect,
Worthy of Worship, deserving a life submerged in His service, Lets Go!


Yeah, let me further unpack this one fact:
We're on mission until the great day that our Savior comes back.
So we strive to run fast, stride and press, for the prize, like guys that run track.
See, our lives a come back, signs and ones that, point to the throne the Sons at
And His death and the cross he hung at, and by Gods Son, he is shown He loves cats.
And freeze em, were sent in to reach him, and teach him, tell the whole world they need Him
So weave in, gotta cop a feel more, our lives as His props and billboards.
So at work, or the spots we eat, kid.
OR, or our blocks, or the streets our feet hit.
OR, or our schools or the Church we link with
We show off the glory and worth of Jesus!

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Joy That Spans Heaven And Earth

And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:5-7 (emphasis added)

If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
--C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, p.26
The joy that the man in the parable experienced upon finding the one sheep that was lost was a joy that stretched horizontally (shared with his friends and neighbors) and vertically (shared with the hosts of heaven). In other words, it was a joy that spanned heaven and earth. Do we live our lives in pursuit of this joy, the joy that spans heaven and earth? Or do we settle for lesser joys, even though they may be good joys? Are we far too easily pleased?

Lord, please help me live my life always pursuing the greatest joy, the joy that spans heaven and earth. May everything else be subordinate to this. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Gospel: Jesus Wants The Rose!

So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?"
Luke 15:3-4

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Something Else Entirely

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."
Luke 15:1-2
It is hard for us to realize this today, but when Christianity first arose in the world it was not called a religion. It was the non-religion. Imagine the neighbors of early Christians asking them about their faith. "Where's your temple?" they'd ask. The Christians would reply that they didn't have a temple. "But how could that be? Where do your priests labor?" The Christians would have replied that they didn't have priests. "But...but," the neighbors would have sputtered, "where are the sacrifices made to please your gods?" The Christians would have responded that they did not make sacrifices anymore. Jesus himself was the temple to end all temples, the priest to end all priests, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

No one had ever heard anything like this. So the Romans called them "atheists," because what the Christians were saying about spiritual reality was unique and could not be classified with the other religions of the world...

The irony of this should not be lost on us, standing as we do in the midst of the modern culture wars. To most people in our society, Christianity is religion and moralism. The only alternative to it (besides other world religion) is pluralistic secularism. But from the beginning it was not so. Christianity was recognized as a tertium quid, something else entirely...

Jesus's teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde [experimental, innovative] ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did.

--Tim Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, p.13-16.