Saturday, June 25, 2011

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl: The Movie

I read the book a couple of months ago. It was outstanding. One of my two favorite reads of 2010 (this was the other in case you're wondering). The lens through which N.D. Wilson views the world is for me the best embodiment of what Jesus means when He says that the kingdom of God belongs to such as are children (Luke 18:15-17).

The movie looks to be just as good if not better. Highly recommended. Especially since it's on sale at a steep discount until June 28th. Here are some previews.


Preview of chapter 3 entitled "Breathing Characters":

Interview with the author:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Who We Are and What We Do

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Romans 8:14-15 (emphasis added)
No verses have impacted me more than these two in the past couple of months as I have been studying and teaching through the book of Romans. As I was studying these verses a couple of weeks ago, the Holy Spirit used them to begin to press one simple gospel truth into my heart. It wasn't the first time I've heard this gospel truth but for some reason it's never impacted me so powerfully until now. That truth has to do with the relationship between who we are and what we do. What's the connection between who we are and what we do?

The world tells us that what we do is what determines who we are. To put it another way, the world tells us that our behavior is what creates our identity. If you work hard in school, you'll be an A student. If you thrive in your career, you'll have a prominent title and you'll be rich. If you treat your spouse well, you're a good husband or wife. If you love your children, you're a good parent. If you're obedient to your parents, you're a good son or daughter. It's all around us. Whether we realize it or not.

But this, in fact, is the opposite of the gospel.

In Romans 8:14, Paul describes what Christians do. He says that "all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." In other words, Christians are led by the Spirit of God to put to death the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13). In this context, being led by the Spirit to put sin to death is what every true Christian does.

Then in Romans 8:15 (the very next verse) Paul gives the reason why Christians do this: "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" Put simply, Paul is saying: "Christian, you're not a slave! You're an adopted son! The reason you put to death sin is because you're an adopted son." In other words, an adopted son or daughter of God is what every true Christian is.

The world tells us that what we do is what determines who we are. But here's the simple gospel truth (based on the connection between those two verses): The gospel tells us that who we are is what determines what we do. The gospel says: "Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, you are an adopted son or daughter of God who is infinitely loved by the Father apart from anything you do! Now go live out of that understanding of who you are!"

During His lifetime, before Jesus ever overcame a single temptation in the wilderness, cast out a single demon, healed a single sick person, or forgave a single sin; before any of His ministry, before He ever was crucified and risen Savior, He was first and foremost a beloved Son.
And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Matthew 3:16-17
Before you're an employee, before you're a student, before you're a son or daughter to your parents, before you're a husband or wife, before you're a mom or dad, before any other identity you embrace, if you're a follower of Jesus, then first and foremost through your faith in Christ you are an adopted son or daughter of God with whom the Father is well-pleased apart from anything you do (or don't do).

If you don't live firmly rooted in that truth, you're going to live standing on shaky ground. The truth is that you almost always can (and probably should!) be a better employee, student, spouse, or parent. There will be times when you fail in each of these roles. So none of these identities is a firm place to stand. But our identity as children of God is based on what Jesus did and not on what we do. And He never failed! He was perfect! He couldn't have been better! So it's the only firm foundation we have to stand on.

The gospel tells us that who we are in Christ--because of His life, death, and resurrection--is what determines what we do. With the gospel, our identity is what creates our behavior. Nothing else in the world works that way.

If I tell you you're an A student, it's not necessarily going to make you start getting A's. If I give you a job position with a prominent title that makes you rich, it's not necessarily going to make you thrive in your career. If I call you a good spouse or a good parent, that's not necessarily going to make you a good spouse or a good parent.

But the mystery of the gospel is that when God Himself bears witness with your spirit that you are a child of God (Romans 8:16) whom He loves infinitely and with whom He is well-pleased, believing and living firmly rooted in this truth will necessarily lead you to put to death the deeds of the body by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:13-14).

And you know what? In the process, believing and living firmly rooted in this truth is going to make you a better student, employee, spouse, or parent too.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Satan Is Willing To Surrender

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."
Matthew 4:8-9
The Devil doesn't mind "family values" as long as what you ultimately value is the family. Satan doesn't mind "social justice" as long as you see justice as most importantly social. Satan does not tremble at a "Christian worldview" as long as your ultimate goal is to view the world. Satan doesn't even mind born-again Christianity as long as the new birth is preached apart from the blood of the cross and the life of the resurrection. Pastor, Satan doesn't mind if you preach on the decrees of God with fervor and passion, reconciling all the tensions between sovereignty and freedom, as long as you don't preach the gospel.

Homeschooling mom, Satan doesn't mind if your children can recite the catechism and translate the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" from English to Latin, as long as they don't hear the gospel. Churches, Satan doesn't care if your people vote for pro-life candidates, stay married, have sex with whom they're supposed to, and tear up at all the praise choruses, as long as they don't see the only power that cancels condemnation--the gospel of Christ crucified. Satan so fears that gospel, he was willing to surrender his entire empire just to stave it off. He still is.

--Russell D. Moore, Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ, p.158

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Would You Do It?

Jeremiah labored for forty years and never saw any fruit from his work. He was a voice crying in the wilderness. No one heard him, no one believed him, and no one turned from their sin. But Jeremiah did what he did because the Lord called him to do it.

So here's the question we must all answer in our hearts and with our lives: If the Lord came to you and said, "You're going to preach for forty years, you're never going to see any fruit, you're never going to make any money for your family," would you do it? Would you still be faithful to the call of Jesus? Is Jesus enough for you? If you can't answer with a "yes", you need to quit the ministry and go sell insurance.

--Matt Carter (and Darrin Patrick), For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel, p. 142

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Loneliness and Church Planting

I originally posted this short video clip almost two years ago. Yes, Eric, I only now know what you mean. And I don't think there's anything I could have done to truly prepare myself for it. There's a part of that burden that nobody in the world but Jesus can share.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Keeping His Men in the Game

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
One night after our core group meeting, my worship leader (with the chick drummer wife) called me on the phone.

"Bro, I can't do this anymore. I think I'm done," he said.

"Dude, it is OK; my wife can lead worship for a while and give you guys a break," I told him.

"No," he said. "I'm not talking about the church. I mean I don't think I can be married anymore; I'm done with my marriage."

He wasn't kidding. Within a few weeks he left his wife...

The worship leader and I had spent hours upon hours together. We probably spent twenty hours a week together for nine months, dreaming and planning and praying for this church, and I worked for him part-time installing ceramic tile. When he told me he was leaving his wife, I resigned from planting the church, unofficially.

I went home to Annie, who was pregnant with our second child, and announced that I was quitting. "We can't quit," she said. "God has called us to do this!" I love my wife. She always seems to speak the truth at the right time. In this instance, her response shocked me, largely because she had spent the first six months crying about how she disliked the city, our house, and the fact that we had some more than slightly messed-up people living beneath our bedroom floor. Evidently, God had worked in her heart, and it was her courage and God's encouragement through her that kept me in the game.

--Darrin Patrick (and Matt Carter), For the City: Proclaiming and Living Out the Gospel
Please keep me in the game, Father. If this truly is Your idea, whatever it takes, no matter how many deaths, please keep me in the game. For Jesus' sake, Amen.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself

Looking forward to being coached in this much-needed discipline.

Joe Thorn Interview V. 1 from Crossway on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

A Part of the World I Love...

... and some brothers I love dearly:

Why Plant Churches? from NorCal Network on Vimeo.

Thank You Jesus for this movement in answer to years of prayer ... now please do it in Nairobi!