All Together Hungry

This morning during a Bible study with other guys from our church I reflected on a time I had taken on a new job at a global health advocacy group. When I first started I was struck by this idea: if I could form a team of 50 people who were wholeheartedly committed to the same thing, we could change the world.

While we had a great team, for some of us it was just a job. The work was not our undying passion. Change was still made, with great results, but my world-changing hopes were left for another day.

Now I find myself in the realm of my undying passion. To that end I pondered out loud what it would be like if 80 people (our small church) were all wholeheartedly committed to the same thing. Namely, renewal and revival. More of God’s presence, repentance and the experience of his grace. People deeply hungry for more of Jesus.

That type of mission has and will change the world. I long for it. I hope you do too.

Worth Reading: The Gospel According to Satan

While it has been prominently placed at the number 1 spot in the “Satanist” category of Amazon, Satan is not happy about this book. Jared C. Wilson’s latest, The Gospel According to Satan: Eight Lies About God That Sound Like The Truth, is worth reading and I think will be a tremendous help to the church.

Wilson has provided another volume that brings us to Christ and opens life to real freedom. I think this book acts like a booster shot for word-centered, gospel life. Satan loves to twist truth into bondage and the finished work of Christ is what breaks us free and gives us feet to stand. Because it is written!

Each chapter is devoted to a different lie we are prone to believing. They are: God just wants you to be happy; You only live once; You need to live your truth; Your feelings are reality; Your life is what you make it; You need to let go and let God; The cross is not about wrath; and God helps those who help themselves.

Of course some of these things sound okay, maybe we even have a coffee mug with the lie printed on it! But when it comes to our flourishing and faith in Jesus, it is important that we don’t miss THE TRUTH and what we are actually called to in Christ.

Wilson is a winsome writer and this work is easily understandable and will resonate with you. The book is a great tool to help sharpen us and keep us on the path to maturity in Christ. I recommend you check it out, pick it up, download it and start reading.

Here are some choice quotes:

“Sin isn’t purely about the malfunction; it’s essentially about the faulty wiring… In that regard, grace is not simply about pardoning sinful behavior; it’s also about rewiring the sinners themselves. The grace the Bible talks about is power not just for justification but also for transformation.” (p. 7)

“Joy is the music that plays when our hearts are tuned to the frequency of God’s glory and our connection to it. Joy is the heart’s settled and worshipful contentment in our justification with God. Joy is the conviction that, no matter the sadness of our circumstances or the weakness of our bodies, we are secure in the sovereign God who loves us.” (p. 21)

“We must not think only of seizing the day but, in the day to day, taking hold of eternity.” (p. 40)

“When power becomes your god, you’ll do as much biblical gymnastics as it takes to get it or keep it.” (p. 59)

“Ignoring your feelings isn’t the answer. Facts may not care about your feelings, but Jesus does. Which is why his Word says so much about them.” (p. 73)

“Meekness is weakness weaponized against the spirit of the age and the spirit of the Antichrist…” (p. 107)

“If Satan cannot keep you from salvation, he will do his best to undermine and obscure the gospel that saved you by making you either overconfident in yourself or underconfident in God. Both dispositions make the gospel look small and consequently may prevent more people from believing.” (p. 125)

“In pursuit of a view of the atonement that is less bloody, less dark, less offensive, we may be stumbling upon one that is less effectual, less powerful, less… well, atoning.” (p. 139)

“So come needy. Come empty-handed. Turn out your pockets. Beat your chest, if you have to, and tear your clothes. Scrape the boils off your skin, if that’s what you need to do. But whatever you do, do not come to the fruit of Christ’s righteousness seeking a bargain. Do not barter, do not buy, but beg… The blessing is for those who are poor in spirit, not rich. If you will bring the empty hand of faith, however trembling, to the infinitely holy Lord of the universe, he will fill it with the immeasurable riches of himself. There is no other way. God is actively looking to save those who cannot save themselves.” (p. 170)

Grapes on the Vine

As I have been studying 2 Corinthians for Sundays at Reservoir Church I am struck over and over again by the importance of the church gathered. The assembly of saints that goes through all of life together, thick and thin. It is the place of sanctification, the bullhorn of the glory of Christ as our lives are transformed in community.

While in the North American church we might give lip service to agreeing to this, how we live is terribly different. We choose churches and stay there only while our preferences are prioritized and as for lasting community, the moment we feel uncomfortable we bail. This is why “church discipline” is nonexistent and why sadly many of us hover in immaturity before Christ.

I had occasion in recent weeks to talk with someone about choosing a path other than avoiding the church (or their specific church). When speaking truth brought tension it was easier to “worship somewhere else.”

I get it. We find ourselves living in the cancel culture of boycotting people that don’t share our opinions let alone people who might call out our sin or encourage us to choose things that are better for us.

The thing is, in Christ this is what you were meant for. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians says that church is a collection of redeemed people “called to be saints together.” As in not alone, but for the long-haul together with people we can build love with so outsiders will know us by our love for one another. And the thing about love, real, good love, is that it some times refines us and stretches us. And when we miss it, when we refuse it, we wither.

This was illustrated to me this week as I was packing lunch for my kiddos. Grabbing some grapes from the fridge I noticed that all the grapes that remained on the vine where firm and healthy, the choice ones. But the grapes that at the bottom of the bag, separated from the bunch, were those fading and spoiling.

This is a picture of us apart from the church. Now there are many reasons to choose a church well in our day, but when you find one, stick with it. Through thick and thin. It is for your good. And it is for the glory of Christ.

Sunday Prayer

This morning my prayer is that of “A Minister’s Evils” from The Valley of Vision.

“Thou hast shown me that the glory of everything that is sanctified to do good is not seen in itself, but in the source of it’s sanctification.

Thus my end in preaching is Christ himself, whom I trust, for in him is fullness of spirit and strength; my comfort in preaching is to do all for him.

Help me in my work to grow more humble, to pick something out of all providences to that end, to joy in thee and loathe myself, to keep my life, being, soul, and body only for thee, to carry my heart to thee in love and delight, to see all my grace in thee, coming from thee, to walk with thee in endearment.

Then, whether I succeed or fail, nought matters but thee alone.”

Lord, for me and my brothers taking the pulpit this morning preaching your word; lead us in repentance and prayer to the experience of your grace. For your glory.

Amen.