Worthwhile: May 10, 2019

What’s up. We have arrived at another Friday. There has been another school shooting in Colorado. Too many. Too often.

Before you escape to the weekend why not check out some worthwhile bits. A Second Mountain, Assessing and obsessing, and cleaning up some sermons by broadening them.

Just ahead of launching into these, did you guess the correct name of prince Archie? Me neither. I thought it would be Darius. Onto what is worthwhile.

David Brooks is a great writer and wrestler with our current culture on the edge of faith. he has a new book that is on my Kindle and receiving accolades from all quarters. The Second Mountain is a struggle against self-actualization and seeking spiritual health.

The author spoke with Collin Hansen at the Gospel Coalition and you might gain something from the 29 minute conversation on finding something deeper. Reconnecting. For those in the valley, finding the mountain. Check it out.

Maybe we can be broken open…

Toward the opening goal, have you heard about enneagram? A way of self understanding that gives you warning signs for unhealthy perspectives. Why not know more about yourself and give it all over to Jesus?!

You can take an assessment here.

Finally comes an article that I saved and which was forwarded by a friend. Maybe I need to pay attention! 4 Ways Bad Biblical Theology Warps Sermons by Sam Emadi.

He warns against a removal of moral lessons in Scripture in pursuit of a gospel-centric biblical theology.

You don’t have to be hesitant, it is a careful and worthwhile article especially for those that preach.

Preaching that only employs biblical characters as moral exemplars is unbiblical. But preaching that fails to draw any moral implications from the lives of biblical characters is equally unbiblical.

Give it a read.

Have a great weekend. Hug the people you love and learn to love those you don’t.


Is the Gospel Enough?

During a recent leadership team meeting someone asked what to say in response to questions about families that have left our church during this replanting season. “What do we say when someone asks why?” I quickly responded, “Say that the gospel wasn’t enough for them.”

Now my answer was a little tongue in cheek, there are surely myriad reasons for those that had once committed to the church to leave in search for something more ideal. Often it is out of care for family or social networks they can’t find anywhere else. But really, the gospel is all our little church has to offer so there does come a point where we hope it is enough! We don’t have great preaching, or musical production. We don’t have bulging student ministries (we have 2 high school students in the whole church) and while we have great curriculum, our Children’s ministry is small just like the rest of our ministries!

After some good conversation we decided against my answer, thinking it better for those interested to simply reach out to their friends and ask them personally. But I have been thinking about it ever since and it has struck me upside the head as we had record attendance at our worship gathering yesterday.

Record low attendance.

The question has been turned back onto me. Is the gospel enough for me, as a pastor? Am I attempting to find my justification in numeric goals, robust budgets, ministries to engage my children, gifting, a sense of energy… really in anything other than Jesus’ work on the cross and his declaration of “it is finished!”

Truth is I do find comfort in many of those things, and I hate it. It is proof that the gospel is not enough for me… I try to negotiate with God for more than the manna he has given. “Just let me have this or that and I will finally be happy…” The response always comes “Be happy in me.” And that is what I want.

So in his providence, God prunes, trims, seemingly devastates, all so I, and maybe you, will see him as enough. To own the gospel, the finished work of Christ for you, as enough.

Toward that end then, we keep on. Because the gospel really is enough. Frankly, there is nothing more. I am praying that this will be more true in my life and I am praying it will be more true in yours. The fullness of Christ is meant for all of life. Lord help us see it, own it and live from it for your glory.


The Rock and Nothing Else

This post first appeared on the Reservoir Church website as my pastoral reflection.

As a new associate pastor, I was prayerfully preparing my first sermon for a Sunday morning, the weekend of Thanksgiving, a perfect time to let rookies preach I guess. As I finalized my outline and main points of the sermon I was granted the high honor of meeting with the revered Senior Pastor so he could review my material and guide me to the better way.

I don’t remember everything from the conversation, I know I spent a few minutes trying to convince my audience of one that yes you could, in fact, preach about Jesus from the Psalms (I was preaching that Jesus was our ultimate comfort from Psalm 119). But the key memory I have of that meeting was that pastor’s bottom line advice: “You have to give them something concrete, something they can hold onto.”

I totally agreed, even though we defined what was concrete differently. For the pastor, he meant (and I know because I asked him) that I needed to give my hearers something they could work on, something of their own effort they could strive for, hold onto. Now if you have been around Reservoir long or heard more than one sermon you might easily guess that I am not keen on convincing you to hold onto your own ability, what YOU can achieve.

Quite differently, I see Scripture calling us to hold onto the work of another, for salvation and all of life. Clinging to Jesus and his finished work, his empowerment by the Spirit.

So from that conversation, I have determined to in fact give everyone who ever hears me preach something concrete to hold onto, the Rock that is Christ.

I promise this Rock is stronger than any concrete of self any good communicator can conjure up. And in Exodus 17 we see the Rock of salvation. God taking on the accusation of the people, that he hasn’t provided, protected or been present with them. Standing on the stone table of judgment he takes the blow of the rod of his power and water flows like a river for the people. Relief for sinful, doubting people. This is always how God works and it was meant to point to the final Rock, to Jesus and the living water he gives and is for those that believe.

We truly have all we need when Jesus is our Rock. Our foundation, our building, our all. In every corner of our lives, in all that we are, he is our Rock. Is that true of you? I want this too and my prayer is that all of us will continue to realize this all-of-life faith in Christ as a reality.

There is nothing else that can quench our thirst. There is nothing else that can invigorate us for the mission Jesus has called us to. There is nothing else to preach, Jesus is the whole counsel of God. There is no concrete stronger.

At Reservoir we have committed to giving you something concrete in every sermon, that something is the Rock that is Jesus.  Drink of him today and every day. Share the water with others and rejoice in his finished work.