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.

After Easter Now What Does the Church Do?

Okay pastor. You have survived Easter. You took out all the stops, you rang the bell and poured on the hospitality. You even preached your heart out. Perhaps attendance was the highest it has been in a long time and it seems some of the visitors might even stick around.

What now? Where do you go from Easter and how do you keep the momentum? May I suggest you preach the gospel and let that drive the church?

Wait you say, I preach the gospel, every year at our revival service! No I mean every week, from every text, for the glory of Jesus and the good of your church.

Enter Jared Wilson’s book “The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace.”

Wilson gives a practical guide to transitioning to gospel-centrality (which believe it or not is not a normal thing in the evangelical world).

Grab the book, hang with other gospel-driven pastors and get going into grace. It is what the church is meant for!

Here are some choice quotes to whet your appetite:

“Healthy, fruitful churches are made up of Christians who are searching out God’s ways and following the trails of doctrine in the Scriptures straight to the throne. “

“Real Christianity cannot be reduced to methods and ordinary human metrics. It must always for the supernatural.”

“May we never mistake our busyness and bigness for the breath of God.”

“The gospel refers to the good news that God sent his Son Jesus to live a sinless life, die a substitutionary death, and rise from the dead so that sinners who repent and trust in Jesus will be forgiven and have eternal life.”

“A gospel-centered church is one that explicitly and intentionally connects its teaching, programs, ministry philosophy, and mission to the content of the gospel.”

“The gospel will hold and sustain your church in a way all the relevant programming, applicational teaching, and worship experiences never will.”

“Gospel-driven preaching is preaching that proclaims and exults in the revealing of God’s glory in Christ.”

“The power of salvation and the sanctification that follows comes only from the gospel, not the law. In other words, the power for to-dos comes not from to-dos, but from the “was-done” of Jesus Christ.”

“The gospel is not fully preached until people have been called to respond. The call can sometimes look like practical application points, but more generally it looks like prophetic pleading that urges hearers to turn from their way and embrace the way of Jesus. “

“A church centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ will be turned inside out because the gospel rightly grasped compels a church to join God’s mission in the world. “

“Over time, the gospel preached, applied, and empowered by the Spirit will coalesce a church around Christ, and from this gospel focus, people can be galvanized to move outward in mission.”

“If you want a gospel-driven ministry, you must resign your will to the supremacy of the glory of Christ and trade your personal ambitions for the beauty of Christ’s bride.”

Worthwhile: March 15, 2019

Terrible news out of New Zealand last night and this morning. Gunmen killed 49 people and wounded dozens more as they had Friday prayers in Mosques there. It is sickening and white supremacy has no place in the hearts of those claiming Christ. Two tweets in response that sum it up well. From Daniel Balcombe and Russell Moore.


Elsewhere, as Jared C. Wilson’s newest book, The Gospel-Driven Church, released this week the usual self-sanctification tropes have been trotting out. In response to one typical misuse of Scripture Jared penned a piece asking if Hebrews 6 teaches us to move beyond the gospel.

It is worth a read and some significant thought over. I am convinced that is you read Hebrews 6 wrong you miss the whole point of the book of Hebrews. So give it some time, its worthwhile.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book by the way.


And to close the week why don’t we talk money! Dave Ramsey, the money and anti-debt guru who made it rich dolling out advice to mostly white evangelicals was taken to task, on social media anyway, for a tweet that said essentially, “if you want to be rich, do rich people stuff. If you want to be poor do poor people stuff.”

We get it, mostly.

It was a bad week to tell people to do rich people stuff. But beside that, what about the punchline or platitude approach to life? Is it helpful? As a Christian?

Matt Poppe on Christ and Pop Culture thinks it through for us and there are some helpful nuggets here.

All of us could say a version of what Ramsey said in a way most people would agree with. If your bad habits got you into financial ruin, those bad habits won’t get you out.

The problem is, even with the best of intentions, Ramsey’s sentiments about wealth disparity is an a oversimplification bordering on cruelty. When someone spends years responding to life’s complications with platitudes and proverbs, they tend to think of these teachings as absolutes over time. Particularly when someone has climbed from a state of poverty to one of financial wellness, it’s simple to tell the narrative of the struggles and personal achievement that got us to where we are. By extension, it’s easy to render judgment on those who didn’t do the same.

Money is serious stuff and we don’t like to talk about it. As I am learning as I preach through a series called Awkward. The most engaged people have been is over what I will say when I get to generosity. So this article helps us think more about it.

I have often told people I am not a fan of Ramsey because his philosophy is more Randian (objectivism – which essentially means selfish) than Christian. But this is not the time to rehash that!


That’s it for this week. Have a wonderful weekend. Tell people you love them and pray for New Zealand, pray for all of us.