The Gospel and Lamenting

Copy of Misrepresenting the GospelYesterday morning I wrote a post. Then I turned on the news and saw what happened to Alton Sterling. This morning I woke with the thought that maybe I should hold off on my post. Then I turned on the news, saw what happened Philando Castile, and knew that I needed to write something different.

My friend and fellow Westbrook pastor Caleb Trimble preached this last weekend about the Gospel and lamenting. It was almost prophetic that he should choose to focus on lamenting as he preached through Acts 16. If you have the time, you should go and listen to it. Continue reading

Is it really Good News?

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So much of what we talk about in church revolves around this idea of Gospel or good news.

Mark opens by saying that his writing is the Good News about Jesus Christ. Matthew 4 says that Jesus traveled around preaching the good news about the kingdom. In Romans, Paul said that he is not ashamed of the Good news of Jesus Christ and just a few verses earlier he defined it this way,

God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. [1]

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Overcoming the Obstacle of Self

Healing of the Lame Man, Raphael, public domain
Healing of the Lame Man, Raphael, public domain

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 1

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 2

One of the biggest obstacles that gets in the way of myself living missionally is myself. By that I mean, I try to do it myself. I may enlist the help of friends, family, and followers of Jesus, but I am trying to act under my own power. Continue reading

A Disciple’s Task

MakeMatureMultiply
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Recently I’ve written about a Disciple’s schedule, work, and home. It seems appropriate to add this book review to the discussion of what a disciple looks like. Make, Mature, Multiply is a new book from Gospel Centered Discipleship. If you’re not familiar with GCD you should definitely spend some time on their sight and check out some of the books they have published, this is a great resource for anyone who wants to stay focused on the Gospel and focus on making disciples.

When Jesus left he gave his disciples a task. He told them to go and make disciples. At the heart of this book is that call and what it means to live it out. From the title of the book, you know the three focuses of the book. We are to make, mature, and multiply disciples. Continue reading

The Sin of Older Brother

Now the man’s older son was still out in the fields working. He came home at the end of the day and heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what was going on. The servant said, “Your brother has returned, and your father has butchered the fattest calf to celebrate his safe return.”

The older brother got really angry and refused to come inside, so his father came out and pleaded with him to join the celebration. But he argued back, “Listen, all these years I’ve worked hard for you. I’ve never disobeyed one of your orders. But how many times have you even given me a little goat to roast for a party with my friends? Not once! This is not fair! So this son of yours comes, this wasteful delinquent who has spent your hard-earned wealth on loose women, and what do you do? You butcher the fattest calf from our herd!”

The father replied, “My son, you are always with me, and all I have is yours. Isn’t it right to join in the celebration and be happy? This is your brother we’re talking about. He was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found again!”(1)

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The Importance of Incarnation

One of the most important parts of the story of Christ is the incarnation. God takes on flesh and moves into the neighborhood. Jesus invests himself in the story of the world in order to restore the world to the way it was. Hugh Halter writes in his new book Flesh, “The incarnation is a story of passion. God longed for everything to be back the way it was, and therefore He sent His Son Jesus to remedy the cycle of sin so that everything could be made new!” For most Christians, however, the importance of the incarnation ends with the ascension of Jesus. He was here in flesh, died, rose again, and then left. End of incarnation. Halter, however, writes Flesh to help us understand the lasting importance of Jesus’ incarnation into the world. The fact that Jesus came into the world and lived a human life has lasting significance not only terms of salvation, but also means a great deal for us still living a human life in this world. Not only does Jesus come to remedy the cycle of sin, but he comes to show us what it means to be human. Halter writes that Jesus did not only come to die, but he came to live. Many of us view, “Jesus through His death on the cross instead of His life in the neighborhood.” Continue reading

Stop telling people about Christianity

speaking-cover-lgWhat do we share with people when we share our faith with them? In his book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism, Carl Medearis argues that more often than not we are telling people about Christianity and not Jesus. At first it sounds a bit crazy that you could do this.  How can someone tell about Christianity and not tell people about Jesus? Donald Miller proved that this is possible in his book Searching For God Knows What when he shared the Gospel with a group of Christian college students and left one thing out. He asked them what he left out, and they didn’t know. He left out Jesus. It’s possible to talk about our faith and forget the most important person. So often, we tell people about sin, the origin of the world, we present logical arguments for the existence of God and the supernatural, we may even tell them that Christianity offers freedom from sin and eternal life, but we can fail to introduce them to the person of Jesus Christ.
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Learning to Share the Gospel from an Atheist

41iXSIbKj8LWhen I was in college, I read Jim & Casper Go to Church. If you’re not familiar with the book, Jim Henderson hires an atheist, Matt Casper, to travel the country with him to evaluate various churches. Jim did this because he was interested in the unfiltered opinion of someone who is not a Christian. What would the atheist think about Church? One Casper’s frequent questions was, “Is this really what Jesus told you to do?”

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After reading this book, most people wanted to know if  Casper ever got saved. From that question, Jim and Casper wrote a sequel called Saving Casper: A Christian and an Atheist Talk about Why We Need to Change the Conversion Conversation. While the two did their book tour, Matt, as you can imagine, received his fair share of people telling him that he was going to go to hell. On top of that, many treated him as if he were an enemy to the faith. Meanwhile, he’s not anti-religion or antagonistic toward Christians, even though some atheists are. He is an open-minded guy who likes to engage with people of different faith systems and doesn’t rule out the possibility of some day becoming a person of faith. continue reading…