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.

A Hermeneutic for All of Life

An article from Sam Storms on seeing Jesus in all of Scripture has me thinking about how we view all of life. How we interpret the events around us and on the global stage. What is our hermeneutic?


her·me·neu·tic
/hərmən(y)oodik/ adjective

1.concerning interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.

http://www.dictionary.com

A hermeneutic is our method and theory of interpretation. And while Storms was reviewing Scripture to encourage interpreting the Bible as pointing to Christ, there is actually more we can see as pointing to Jesus – all of life.

Here is the text in question (one of them anyway): Colossians 1:15–17

Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (ESV)

Storms them writes that by saying “for him” Paul is indicating that “Jesus Christ is the purpose of everything exists.”

Now I am familiar with this text and I have always thought of all things being for Jesus concerning his glory, that he would reign over them. But it goes further.

Think about that. Sure there are some sticky implications to that statement, but none prevents it from being true. Just like every Scripture in the Bible, everything of creation is meant to point to Jesus.

It may be to reveal the need for a savior. To show the beauty of his creative power. To proclaim his arrival, life, death, and resurrection. To highlight the miracle of belief and what a life transformed by grace looks like. To call us back to him when we run off to lesser gods.

Jesus as a banner over all things to make himself known. That people would believe.

Every encounter, every run-in, every mellow moment, every anxious interview, and everything in between. It is all for Jesus – about him, pointing to him, for his glory.

What a radical way to view all of life. And I think it is right. I want to spend more time interpreting life in light of Jesus. Will you join me?

Gospel Perspective to be Shared

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (ESV)

As I prepared to preach these words last week I was struck by the necessity of ministry, what is essentially the minister’s role; to live and share a life informed by a gospel perspective.

There were a couple opportunities for counseling and helping people through difficulties, there was the expositing of Scripture and also encouraging leaders and making vision decisions for the church. All of this along with being a husband and father of a growing and active family. At each moment I noticed my internal lurch toward a self-centered, anxious perspective. Thinking the worst of events (which is bad because I am generally an optimist), and figuring my striving was the only solution.

But the gospel brings a different word, a better perspective. In Christ I am secure, I am made immovable, unshakeable and empowered to do the work the Lord has called me to. None of it is in vain, but one purpose and worthwhile. This perspective, a redeemed one, changes how I approach my family, ministering and setting a vision for the future. And this perspective is exactly what I have to offer and am called to give to other believers and those in need of a savior.

Over and over again at every opportunity, this perspective is our security.  When someone is facing the unknown in the hospital. When the car is wrecked. When the relationship breaks. When the job falls through or comes through. When the lottery is won.  And when every other mundane moment of life comes along… it is the gospel and the perspective of life it forms that I bring by way of reminder, in love to others. Because I need it too.

It is with a gospel perspective, one that knows Jesus is Lord and cares for us, gives us grace for life, that we can stand, steadfast, immovable and abounding in good work. Let’s live with this perspective.

Finishing the Course

Over two years ago I ascended the small platform in a coffee shop that no longer exists to preach my last sermon to a group of young adults crammed into a trendy building to hear the gospel. It was the sermon that said, I have left it all on the field, I have given you what I know, now carry on and preach the gospel to each other and the waiting world.

The text of the night was Acts 20 and Paul’s final words to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Paul shows his resolve and I had tried my best to model my ministry after his, to preach nothing but Christ and him crucified. Oh to live this way!

Then this week a good friend who is sensing an increasing call to global missions shared how he was stirred by a sermon on Acts 20:24 and the Lord used it as a sweet reminder of the call to faithfulness.

Here are Paul’s words to the leaders of the church: “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 ESV).

Paul knows he is departing Asia headed for his final acts of ministry. Shortly after he will be taken as a prisoner to Rome where he will eventually be martyred. No fleeing, no scheming to avoid imprisonment. Just leaving it all on the field, preaching the gospel of grace. The thing of value for Paul is not his life, but the gospel.

He lived it. And countless others have as well. And oh that the Lord would empower me to live like this.

As we head into 2017 I don’t have a resolution but this is my prayer. That the trappings of life would be of little value and even my own life would not be what is precious but that I would spend this year, and the decades to come, so transformed by the gospel that I can preach nothing else. That I would so experience the grace and love of God in Christ that it flows to all around me for his glory.

Maybe you might want to pray this way too. That Jesus would be bigger in 2017 to you, that nothing else would take your attention and passion like your Savior. I think it is a prayer that he is pleased to answer.

We won’t be perfect, but by his grace we can keep at it, keep pushing in and living to finish the course he has given us. We have as our source and our hope his grace, now and forevermore.

“And now I commend you to God and the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)