Connecting the Dots

Stacy (my beloved wife) and I were discussing discipleship in the church and our goals for leading and caring for others and she said something that stuck with me. “How can I get them to see how the gospel applies to all of life?”

It is a vital question. In our family we try to take it seriously, pressing the good news of Jesus’ finished work for us into every nook and cranny of life. We certainly miss it at times, trusting in our own strength, getting even, attempting to earn grace, and then we repent and begin again.

But what if we don’t connect the dots from the cross to our daily experience? What if we don’t preach the gospel to ourselves, to each other and to those around us? Honestly, to us existence would be pretty vapid and hopeless without the defining news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for us. We have had too many friends reject Jesus or loose sight of his grace to tempt missing the point.

We have life because Jesus has given it to us and that impacts everything. Pressing on we see and share the ways the gospel seeps through all of life and we daily try to put on gospel goggles so we will pay attention.

That’s really is it isn’t it. Connecting the dots is about paying attention to what Jesus says of himself and us in the word. Connecting the dots is about tearing down silos in our lives that once separated or compartmentalized our faith from our vocation or our social experience. Connecting the dots is about surrendering to the way of Jesus. Seeing and savoring him above all.

It is a life-long battle, to take every thought captive, to take every experience captive, to take all of life captive and apply the gospel of grace, the good news of Jesus to it. So we carry on. One day at a time. Will you join us?!

Looking for some Scripture to apply the gospel to all of life, Sam Storms compiled a wonderful list and you should check it out here.

Loving God for Himself Alone

This week I preached on the bigness of God from Isaiah 40:12-26. That because he is so big we can trust him with our lives. Now all of us that claim faith in Christ can on the surface agree to this and let it warm us on a Sunday morning, but how does it help us on a Monday afternoon?

Normal pressures of life punctuate the worship gathering and we swim back into the soup of the clamor of smaller things demanding to reign in our lives. We believe God is big enough to care for us, but how will the bills get paid? We believe God holds all of creation in his hand, but what if our adult children never speak to us again? We believe nations are emptiness before God, but what about the burden of our tax liability?

The list could go on, and sure it would be specific to you, external demands, responsibilities, emotions and the overall sense of exile without end weigh us down. Can we really turn to Jesus with all of this?

It is far too easy to turn faith into a transactional relationship. I believe in God so he gives me a job, or I pray hard and long enough and I will finally be delivered…etc. But is believing in and following Jesus worthwhile if none of the externals are dealt with? Do we love God for himself alone?

The thinking brings to mind one of the most popular of Bible stories. The fiery furnace. Disobedient to the cultural demands of worship at the golden image which would make their own faith in God private, the three Jewish young men are brought before the king.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16–18 (ESV)

They profess how big God is – big enough to deliver them out of the fire – but what’s more, they profess that even if he doesn’t they won’t bow to the fake gods. Even in the breakthrough doesn’t come, even if I remain in the valley, if I live and die in exile, I will still only worship God.

It is bold faith.

Yes, God delivers them. They are freed from the furnace and in many of our own “furnaces” God works to free us. But friends he is worth worshiping because of who he is. We don’t need the addition of circumstance or the change thereof.

Come what may, we will worship. Let’s say that. Let’s live that. Let’s rejoice when we come out the other side. Let’s look up and behold our God and gain an eager vision for eternity with him – the promise he is big enough to deliver. Let’s love God for himself alone.

Robbing Worship of its Reverence

Several months ago Air1 (a national Christian radio station) tweaked its format to include mostly what is defined as “worship” music. They even added tag lines of “worship now” and the like, making sure listeners understood that this was the new place to hear worshipful music you might sing in church as you seek to glorify Christ. I think it has been a good change and I enjoy the music and the intention behind it.

The fascinating thing about the change to me however is the lack of continuity with other content on the station. While the playlist has shifted nothing else has. So the station comes out of a meaningful song with trite banter. The hosts talk about funny text messages they have received, the tragedy of lost food, or anything else they think will entertain you.

This morning as I dropped a kid off at camp I was struck that the song was raising a hallelujah but the conversation was laughing about things spouses have to put in storage when they get married.

Is this the church? We sing a few songs because after all that is “worship” then we move into entertainment mode. Incongruent and missing the point. I get the challenge and have been guilty of allowing elements in the service that detract from our corporate worship. It has me wanting the reverence meant to accompany worship.

Perhaps this is one reason I prefer Spotify to the radio and why people are finding their entertainment in places other than a church on Sunday…

Worthwhile: June 21, 2019

I have clearly been in summer mode and am slacking a bit on the worthwhile posts. And that’s okay, you are spending more time outside on adventures anyway, right?!

Three bits for you as you head into the weekend. Questions for those suffering, dieting like a believer and an oldie but a goodie.


David Powlison died June 7 after a battle with cancer. He was a gem in his gracious writing and example. Justin Taylor has shared Powlison’s five questions to ask when you are suffering and they are worthwhile.

What hardship are you facing?

What life-giving word from him speaks to you?

What input do wise friends give you?

How can you honestly wrestle your way toward trusting him?

What should you do next?

Taylor unpacks these a bit and you can read it here.


Next, are you working toward that beach body? Well what do we make of our dieting no matter our goals? Christel Humfrey suggests a higher purpose for your dieting.

For the Christian, a healthy diet is about more than following rules, shedding weight, looking good or proving our worth.

Four clues follow as to why we diet and the might encourage you. Check it out.


Finally, from the archives is Sam Storms’ case for covenantal membership in the local church. Eight biblical guides for linking with other believers in commitment and covenant.

This is one of the frequent questions I get, “why membership?” Storms gives some worthwhile marks we need to take to heart.


That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend and if you are in San Diego Reservoir Church is hosting a prophecy workshop tomorrow on the pursuit of this gift of the Spirit. We would love to have you join us.