Archives For Gospel

Feeling Like a Drain Plug

February 1, 2013 — 3 Comments

The Christian’s life is a fickle thing fraught with interesting turns and challenging twists. One day we feel like God is our BFF and nothing can separate us from His abundant love and the next day we feel like there is a cosmic chasm between God’s grace and the fate of our everlasting souls. While taking a bath today after a somewhat intense workout I put my hand over the drain and felt the pressure of the water weighing heavy on my hand. I thought about what a perfect metaphor a drain plug is for the Christian life because of one major fact: WE ARE OFTEN STUCK IN BETWEEN.

You read that correctly. If you are a Christian then you understand there comes a time where the tension of the drain plug becomes the very definition of our souls. Because we are so close to going down the drain but we, for some reason, are alive but the weight of the water (the world) is pressing down on us. So there we are, stuck between being flushed and holding the world and the pressure is too much to bear but alas, we are stuck.

Yet…

To relieve the pressure the plug must be drained. The plug cannot pull itself, it must be pulled. Jesus died so that all the pressures of this world can go down the drain (Matthew 11:28-30). Did you know that a drain is not designed to go down the drain? We are not designed to be flushed, drained, evacuated, disintegrated, bombarded or discarded.

WE ARE DESTINED FOR GREATER THINGS.

We are invited to participate in the kingdom of God and to reign-in what God is doing in heaven so that it can be established on earth and the chains of spiritual warfare cannot have dominion over your souls. We are promised an eternal kingdom where the apostle John tells us that the second death will not reign over our souls (Rev. 20:6). Did you catch that? Jesus is pulling the plug and all of the worldly sorrows are flushed.

So what do you need to let go?

What do you need to focus on? In what ways are you experiencing (not?) the abundant life (John 10:10)?

In what ways are you feeling sorry for yourself and not allowing Jesus to change your life?

Feel like a drain plug?

Allow Jesus to pull the plug.

Advertisements

I am writing this from the Denver airport as my time to fly is upon me. I will give a few highlights from Day 3.

Wednesday Morning Mike Cope “Community in Lars and the Real GirlHebrews

  • It’s a movie about church, it begins in church and ends in church.
  • Hebrews
    • Imagining a world where we are not our own.
    • Somebody who watches for you.
    • The real test for community is the worst things you have done who is up there watching you.

Wednesday Morning Keynote Scot McKnight @ScotMcKnight “Did Jesus Found the Church?”

Major Idea: The church is naughty and the kingdom is nice

–       People today love the kingdom but are embarrassed by the church

–       The kingdom has come to mean “good things Christians do in the public sector usually involved in the political process.”

  • It has nothing to do with the church…people say
  • Social Justice? Where did we get this idea of social justice? There is one idea of justice in Scripture. Justice is connected to righteousness and justification.
  • Peace…compassion…walking from Cape Town to Alexandria raising money for water.

–       Kingdom has been flattened into an ethic: peace, justice.

–       “When we flatten kingdom to an ethic we deny the gospel.”

–       We have a young group of Christians whose kingdom theory has to do with changed political processes and are neglecting the church.

  • But…doing good in a society is a good thing.
  • Being compassionate is a good thing.
  • Working for peace in our world is a good thing.
  • But we do this because we are disciples of Jesus.

–       Good work versus Kingdom work

  • Did Ghandi do kingdom work?

–       The most profound act of kingdom work is when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday morning.

–       “You cannot be committed to kingdom unless you are committed to the church and your commitment to the church is the sum total of your commitment to the kingdom.”

–       It is far too easy giving money to Rwanda and not to local people in the church.

–       Matthew 16:13-20

  • Their options to the question were not good enough.
  • Jesus was more than a prophet.  Prophetic Christianity is not enough.
  • The answer is that Jesus is messiah.
  • 1 Samuel 8—“They want a king because they want to be like other nations.”
    • Saul collapse
    • David…
    • Eventually they realize that Jesus is the king.
  • Peter labels Jesus with the right title. When the Messiah was said all the ideas came to completion: Temple, Torah, Land, Citizens, Command, Covenant.

–       When Jesus is the Messiah kingdom will always mean more than social justice.

–       Peter had no idea what Messiah really meant.

  • Messiah –> Kingdom –> Cross –> Resurrection –> Kingdom
  • Kingdom and social justice does not mix well.

–       Jesus came to establish a whole new social order. The ekklesia….the church.

–       There is an inextricable connection between kingdom and church.

–       Church is the only place kingdom work can occur because in the church is the only place where Jesus is king.

–       Kingdom never refers to social action in Scripture.

  • We have become intoxicated with social power and justice.

–       The kingdom is more than an ethic because Jesus is more than a prophet.

–       Kingdom work is about telling people about King Jesus.  Summoning people in the church as the place where God’s redemptive work is now alive.

Wednesday Afternoon Jon Acuff @JonAcuff “Our Relationship With the Gap”

Our job is hard because…

1)   We never feel it is over…

2)   There’s no manual for most of the things you do

3)   The success rate is really low for youth ministers

4)   You run into a period of life most people run from

  1. 1 out of every 4 girl will be raped by the time they graduate

5)   We don’t get to see the end of the song.

Three things of the challenges

1)   SUCCESS

–       It’s so easy to compare.

–       Never compare your beginning to somebody else’s middle.

–       Always play to the size of your heart not to the size of your audience.

–       If you tie what you do to the success/failure of it you will disappoint.

–       Measure your obedience not your results

–       God will not be handcuffed by my failures or unleashed by my successes.

2)   FEAR

–       It only bothers you when you do things that matter.

–       Voices?

  • You are not a youth minister…
  • You are woman.

–       The best way to fight those is to share those. Fears fears community.

–       The higher you climb in leadership the harder it is for you to be honest.

–       “Enough” is a slippery slope

–       If you ask “fear” when you will have enough experience it will be later.

–       Fear always says, “This is forever.”

–       What to do with voices

  • Write down the voice…
  • Answer it with truth
  • Share them

3)   HATERS

–       We are not good with criticism and compliments

  • Critic’s Math – 1 Insult + 1000 Compliments = 1 Insult
  • We have the ability to lose heart with insults.
  • Are you giving power to the very people you don’t need to give it to.

Those were the extent of my notes. I did not attend an afternoon class because I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Scot McKnight and Rusty Pettus for an hour and talk theology. Scot was gracious enough to extend some time just to talk and share some coffee. He even bought my coffee which he did not have to do. Before I close this blog I want to share something I did on my way back from Denver. I visited the Century 16 Theater in Aurora where 12 people were killed by James Holmes. Tragedy. Just like praying at Columbine I wanted to reflect and pray at the theater. To the left is a picture I took while driving to the theater.

Tomorrow I hope to reflect on the week with some implications.


Great day I experienced with classes, super-sessions and keynote messages from some of the finest people in Christianity. I typed 10 pages of notes yesterday so I cannot include everything here but I want to give you some highlights that stood out to me.

Tuesday Morning, Mike Cope “Spiritual Intubation: How Community Keeps Us Alive” The Wizard of Oz: Revelation’s View of Community

  • “No church ever existed in a pure state. The church is made up of sinners. The fleas come with the dogs.” (Eugene Peterson)
  • Four characters who are known by their deficiencies. Much like Christians today.
  • Showing of who Oz really is. “The great Oz has spoken, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”
  • Pergamum
    • It’s a great distance from Colorado Springs to Pergamum.
    • In Pergamum it was very, very different.
    • Everywhere people went they told two stories: the power of Rome and Greek gods and goddesses. Everywhere they went they are told that they are caught up in and how could they not believe it. It “has to be true.”  Every market, athletic event, silver item told them about temple worship.
    • Where is the Pergamum church of Christ?
      • A tiny…insignificant few.
      • Imagine holding on to the story of Jesus while walking among the temples and other places where the minority is huge.
      • Have you been the minority?
      • Power, honor, identity was wrapped up into gods and Rome not Christ.
    • Persecuted Christians get it
    • “Though St. John the Evangelist saw many strange monsters in his vision, he saw he saw no creatures so wild as one of his own commentators.” G. K. Chesteron
  • Deep Community is anchored in Jesus
  • Deep community has to be eschatological in nature.
  • Deep community is at its best when it is part of a mission…a larger story.

Tuesday Morning Keynote Kurt Johnston @kurtjohnston “Deep, Redefined”

  • Have you ever stopped and thought about all the things in youth ministry that you don’t do very well? We are great at trying to control the perceptions of other people. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great at creating perception of us.
  • Four truths I have learned that have 1) pointed out my shallowness and 2) led him into a deeper experience in faith.
    • Life is a squiggle
    • I need a travel partner
    • Busyness will keep you in the shallow end.
    • When you begin to have a long view of youth ministry

Tuesday Super Session Frank Viola @FrankViola “The Missing Ingredient”

Observations about ministry to young people:

  • Catch30 Crisis – Human beings go through developmental stages as they get old. When they are 30 they reassess every decision they made in their 20s and they either abandon what hey believed or abandon them. You don’t know where someone is spiritually until they are thirty. You could not serve in the house of God until you were 30. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was 30. Young people need to be prepared for this.
  • There is a difference between youthful enthusiasm and spirituality. Most of the big Christian movements are built on youthful enthusiasm. The problem is that many operates on youthful enthusiasm and the well runs dry
  • You can’t pass on to those whom you minister to what you have not experienced yourself.
  • I have to prepare them for the forgotten beatitude. Blessed is he who is not offended by me.

Other Notes from class…

  • If you cut the bible in any place it will bleed Jesus Christ.
  • Moses and Christ
  • Creation and Christ
  • Isaac and Christ
  • Jacob and Christ
  • Conclusion  – #1 – Find Christ in the bible. #2 – Do business with the Lord

Tuesday Afternoon Class 1 Josh Graves @JoshGraves “The Bible Jesus Read: Genesis 1-2”

2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 5

  • We need a more mystical understanding of Scripture. But also how it calls us to new spaces.
  • “All Scripture” does not exist yet and he has in mind Torah.
  • Inspired…he does not infallible, inerrant. They never show up in the bible. Sometimes the most important work we do is not learning new things but relearning old things.
  • 2 Timothy is not about proving Scripture over science but it is about inviting people into God’s world in order to see the world differently and “to do something about it.”
  • These stories carry the freight in any given culture.

Genesis 1

  • God can’t help but to create. He is in control. The things God creates would not be believable if we have not seen them.
  • Everything else that has creativity or imagination that somehow it is all linked back to the God who started.
  • One of the ways Genesis invites us to go deeper and that we live in a good creation. Does not deny the dark side of life but he made everything and called it good.
  • Most people who tell the story of God begin with Genesis 3 and not Genesis 1.
  • We have to introduce paradox to our students. Life is full of joy and pain. Paradox is one of the greatest contribution to the Western world.

Tuesday Afternoon Class 2 Sally Gary @centerpeaceinc “Reaching out to Teens Who Identify as Gay and Lesbians”

Many who struggle with same sex attraction but still love the Lord.  Struggles do not divide us.

Starved for Intimacy. Facebook and its struggles for intimacy. Question is: How can we meet this need? This desire for community. There is a great need for this connection.

What teens learn from the world: Glee, Modern Family.

What teens learn from the church: Nasty messages about homosexuals from the church

What they need is looking for a safe place.

How to be a safe place?

Deal with our own fears.

  • Change our thinking
  • Change our language
  • Listen
  • Be consistent
  • Model the Love and Acceptance of Christ

Tuesday Night Keynote Frank Viola @FrankViola “God so loved the world vs. Love not the world.”

The world in the New Testament is used in two ways…

  1. Speaks of the material universe. Jesus of Nazareth is this world’s true Lord.
  2. A system or network or order of things designed to draw us away from God.

Historically Christians have taken two postures: 1) Retreated from the world’s system (Isolationism) 2) Enmeshed by the world and married to it.

The most miserable person is a Christian who is living in a way where deep inside them they are told to give something up and they can’t. When we are in community with other Christians the Holy Spirit is clearest.

The Holy Spirit will reveal to you what is of the world.

2 Kind of legalists: 1) Salvation by works 2) I am going to take what the Holy Spirit has shown me personally and make it a law to you.

“The gospel spreads best not through force but through fascination” (Shane Claiborne)

Dinner in Colorado Springs: Uchenna Ethiopian Restaurant

This was ranked #2 in Colorado Springs by TripAdvisor and it was awesome. I had Yebeg Alecha which was tender pieces of lamb marinated with butter then sautèed with ginger, garlic, and 12 spices. There were no forks but you had this roll that you put the meat and the sauce in. It was excellent. The owner’s name is Maya and they cooked everything to order so it took a while but the food was worth it. They have mostly organic food and a substantial vegetarian menu. I have never tried authentic Ethiopian cuisine but this was a must! Went a left the owner looked at me and said, “Go in peace.” I love her already.

 


I talked with a friend at the YMCA this morning and he told me about this new project his church is doing. He said that discipleship has been on their minds for some time and they discovered this new effort where David Platt (wrote Radical) and Francis Chan (wrote Crazy Love and Erasing Hell) are collaborating to help churches be better disciples. It’s called Multiply Movement (http://multiplymovement.com/).

Multiply Movement

The tag line is simple:

“A simple, practical, biblical, helpful, and personal tool for disciples of Jesus who want to make disciples of Jesus.”

I think this is something that can be a game-changer for your church and just might be the help you need to get things… moving. Watch one of the videos below.

Francis Chan and David Platt talk discipleship

 

 


Preached this sermon yesterday at Main Street and it was well received.

God’s Kaleidoscope

(Romans 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:9-10)

            “I think every church should be a church irreligious people love to attend. Why? Because the church is the local expression of the presence of Jesus. We are his body. And since people who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus, people who are nothing like Jesus should like us as well.”[1] I just read that quote on Friday and it is amazing how well this fit into the sermon idea that I wanted to talk about with you this morning. A few weeks ago I shared a blog post chronicling my usage of marijuana in middle and high school and I received many warm comments but most of them had to do with me having courage to share that information. In that blog post I wrote:

I am not sure why I am telling all of you this now as many of you are finding this out for the first time. I guess because I have seen a few of my own youth struggle and have heard of so many others that I feel it is probably time to share my story.[2]

Some of you in this audience knew of my past and some of you did not. Perhaps some of you are thinking to yourself, “What is this guy talking about?” The blog post simply told part of my story where I struggled with drugs and alcohol in my middle and high-school days. The struggle could have been worse but it did not have to happen. I tell you all of this to ask this question:

Why did people say that I had courage to admit that I used drugs?

Why does that take courage?

I read the New Testament and people who were responsible for the death of Jesus, the Savior came to Peter asking for repentance and desiring baptism. Smoking weed is nothing compared to killing the savior.

It takes courage to admit things like my broken past not because there is a loss of people in the church who have similar pasts but there are people in this church and every other church who are either afraid of what people might think (i.e, “they will judge me”) or, even worse, they do not want to address those demons of the past. It also takes courage to admit that those types of things because most of time many people in this auditorium spend 45 minutes to an hour pretending to be someone who they are not. This is why so many people who are unchurched do not want to attend a church because they feel like they have to have everything in order before they can be a part of the church. That’s not the way the New Testament church operated.

What I am going to do this morning is going to take some courage on your part. I am going to ask a bunch of questions and all I ask of you to do is to be honest and raise your hands.[3] If you are visiting with us feel free not to participate but if you are a member of this church I ask all of you to participate. I ask you to trust me in what I am about to do and understand that I am making a point with all of this. Finally, this goes without saying, those who raise their hands are free from judgment on your part. There is only one judge and you are not he. This should make good lunch discussions…

So here we go…

We’ll start easy…

  • How many of you come from a Christian home where you church was talked about all the time and you absolutely loved going to services, participating in VBS, youth the whole nine yards? How many of that was you raise your hand?
  • How many of you did not grow up in a Christian home as Christ was never talked about or if he was it was only around Christmas time? How many of that was you raise your hand?
  • How many of you grew up attending church but then hated going to church because mom and dad forced it on you so you left when you got old enough and then played a little, visited other churches but eventually came back? How many of that was you raise your hand?
  • How many of you came from some other denomination before you landed here at Main Street?
  • How many of you became a believer after your 20th birthday? 30th? 40th? 50th? Any higher?
  • How many of you, your parents are still happily married?
  • How many of you are from homes where your parents were divorced either early on or at some point since you left the house?
  • How many of you, your parents are married, but not necessarily happily?
  • How many of you have experienced divorce?
  • How many of you have a master’s level education or above?
  • How many of you did not graduate high school but have a GED or some sort of equivalent?
  • Any democrats in here?
  • How many of you were born in the north above the Mason-Dixon line?
  • How many of you were born in another country?

Again this is a safe environment where you will not be judged….

  • How many of you have a past in addiction whether it is alcohol, drugs or pornography?
  • Last one, how many of you have experienced some sort of abuse (physical, sexual or mental) in your background.

Let’s take a deep breath. There is this lie from the handiwork of Satan himself that says God only saves certain people. As if God loves republicans more than he does democrats. As if God loves people who have been to church their whole lives versus those who just made it. Here is the gist of this sermon, the big point…

“God, by his grace and mercy, wants all to be saved and the gospel is for everybody.”

Let that marinate on your heart rate now. Let that sit in your stubborn chambers where the “ideal Christian” image sits. God saves the person who cusses like a sailor and get’s drunk all night long and God saves the person whose worst words are “silly goose” and who feels guilty drinking a Pepsi. You know what I mean? God saves all of us and we should be courageously unashamed of that fact.

Some of you are walking around saying, “I never tried drugs and I never have touched alcohol and I have gone to church services my whole life and feel like my testimony to God is insignificant.” Hogwash! Praise God that he saw it fit to save you from that situation and now uses your story to teach all families that God-fearing people can raise another generation of God-fearing people. Some of you are walking around saying, “If church people only knew of all the things I have done they would not want me into their church.” First off, it’s not their church it’s Jesus Christ’s church. Secondly, if they really knew about all the things you have done and if they had an ounce of authenticity in them after hearing about the things you have done they would not say, “How horrible you are,” they would say, “How great is our God!”

Don’t you think it’s time church that we become a little more authentic and a little more genuine? I am not saying we have to unload every personal detail every time we come to services but I can honestly say that many of you I know but few of you I know on a deep, personal level. The apostle Paul was very upfront about who he was and how God saved him from the wretched person that he was. There are a ton of verses I could share (especially in Acts where he recounts his conversion story a couple of times) but I felt like this one sums it all up…

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Cor. 15:9-10)

In context Paul is talking about the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how Jesus appeared to him who was the least of the apostles. He calls himself one who was “untimely born.” Paul is forever having to defend his apostleship to people who think he is a nobody. Imagine the criticism he got:

“This guy is not one of us, he was a persecutor of the church. How dare he think he can tell us how to run this church?”

“He was not an apostle as he barely even saw the Lord Jesus.”

Yet, Paul understood that and in the wake of his past he came to the conclusion that the suffering, the persecution and the pain he causes to the church he could do nothing about right now. He said, “by the grace of God I am what I am.”

I think churches are starving for people like Paul who just puts all of his cards on the table and lets whatever falls to fall. He does not say what he did gives people license to do bad things but he allows other people to see how God can save people from horrible circumstances.

CONCLUSION

So there is this myth that there is this certain type of person God saves. It does not exist. He saved a rich tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus and he saved the woman caught in adultery, in the very act. How rough would that one be if a woman caught in adultery interrupted our services begging to be saved at the very instant? We would probably escort her out so we would not disrupt the order of worship. God saves all kinds of people. If we want this church to grow we need to be more authentic. We need to be the church that does not seek other church-going people but we need to be the church that seeks the people nobody wants… the unchurched. There are plenty of churches in this county who brag about their numbers when all they are doing is swelling from other churches. We need to be that church where unchurched people look at and say, “I want to be a part of that.”

How do we do that? We started today… honesty, integrity and openness. I titled this sermon God’s Kaleidoscope. One definition for kaleidoscope on Dictionary.com was, “any complex pattern of frequently changing shapes and colors.” Sounds a little bit about what church is supposed to be. As the leaves change in the fall I am reminded about how different people from church are. We come from every background imaginable and the one common theme is that we are all trying to give God his glory and reach others to do the same. We all are spared by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ so that we do not live lives in the “used to be” or “what could be” but we live in the already.

So we have all been a bit honest. This should help us reach others. This should help us start. We do not have to have this mask put on. “Fake it until you make it” is a cliché for people who don’t know what they are talking about. Let’s stop faking. Let’s stop living in our empty cisterns of despair. Let’s live in the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I am not scared any more are you? Let’s do this church! My name is Robbie Mackenzie. I used to do drugs, I used to drink heavily, I was not a virgin when I got married, I treated God like a genie in a bottle and God saved me from all of that. HIS GRACE REACHES EVEN ME….


[1] Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (Kindle Locations 57-59). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

[3] The idea from this came from Matt Chandler’s masterful sermon entitled, “City on a Hill – Part 1: A New People” preached at The Village Church in Flower Mound, TX on September 2nd, 2012.  http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/a-new-people/. Some of the questions are directly from his sermon.


God, give us grace to accept with serenity

the things that cannot be changed,

Courage to change the things

which should be changed,

and the Wisdom to distinguish

the one from the other.

 

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,

Taking, as Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,

If I surrender to Your will,

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

 

Amen.

 


Slide Design by GracewayMedia.com

We are starting a new series in our Wednesday night class called “A Messy World.” I thought about this series a year ago but have put it on the back-burner until now. The basic premise is that because of The Fall we all live in a messy world (messed-up) world. Sin is pervasive no matter who you are and the only cure for this messy world is placing our full faith and devotion in Jesus Christ. Last night to begin our lesson I decided to trash the youth house to give it that messed-up appearance.

Below is an outline of our study. You can also download a copy of our introduction and first lesson below. Let me know what you think.

·         The Messy Beginning (1 Lesson)

·         Personal Messes (3 Lessons)

o   Addictions

o   Depression

o   Idolatry

·         Relational Messes (3 Lessons)

o   Family

o   Friends

o   Significant Others

·         Spiritual Messes (3 Lessons)

o   False Christianity

o   The Sinful Nature

o   Suffering

·         The Clean Ending (2 Lessons)

o   Return to Eden

o   Admitting our Mess

Download: INTRODUCTION

Download: Lesson 1 – Teacher Copy


I have been a fan of Yellowcard since they released their epic album “Ocean Avenue” in 2003. I have loved just about every song they have come out with. Their new album “Southern Air” looks to be a great album and I absolutely love the song “Here I am Alive.” In the video it portrays a couple of junior-high kids who have dreams but come across some bullies who say, “You are never getting out of this town.”

I thought about my own dreams and where I am now. The song seems to speak some truth to life about how there are ups and downs but we are still alive. He poses a question, “If I could write myself when I was young.” I have written on this before but if you could write a letter to your younger self what would you say?

What would you say to your dreams?

What would you say to your struggles?

What would you say to your family and friends?

What things would do differently?

This kind of thing allows us to think about what we use to hold important but no longer do but also things we gave up on and said that we could never do. Things people told us we would never accomplish.

Yet…

Here we are…

…alive.

Maybe we need to dream again.

What should you dream about?

What could you do?

Watch the video below. I hope you enjoy it.


© theresurgence.com

Matt Chandler is the Lead Pastor for the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas which has 10,000+ members in a multi-campus setting. If you have not listened to his sermons please check out the podcast on iTunes as it is some of the most intense sermons you will ever listen to. The ferocity in which he preaches comes out in his writing as he is intense. This book seeks to lay the foundation for what the gospel is and what it is not. He divides the book in two sections: The Gospel in the Air and the Gospel on the Ground. It seems Chandler is making an effort to state that the gospel has transcendent and immanent implications. To stress one over the other is perverting the gospel and making it something God never intended. I want to share some pros, some cons and then some of my favorite quotes.

PROS

  • Theological. Chandler unleashes thick (the meat!) principles of God’s word and allows them to shred your heart as God’s word takes a hold of you.
  • Practical. Even though this was a theological text I thought he did a pretty decent job of answering the question, “So what?” Concepts and facts mean nothing unless they have real world application. He talks about what the gospel means and the implications it has in the world we live in.
  • Simple. You won’t have to carry the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology to read this book as he uses terms that every church goer can understand.

CONS

These are miniscule and more personal with me than with him…

  • If you are not Reformed then his theology might drive you insane. I was ok with it but I could see some people taking huge issues with his view of mankind (depravity).
  • While I understand why he does it, Chandler seems to take too much time trying to explain the slippery slope of social justice folk. To be fair he did talk about fundamentalists as extremists both do not have the place in the gospel. Yet, I really thought it seemed he anticipated too much flack from the social gospel people so he felt the need to explain their folly.
  • While he spent a lot of time talk about the “gospel” I felt like he needed to discuss more about the gospel and the kingdom. I understand what the gospel means for me (and that is ultimately important) but what does that mean for “us” corporately? He did some of this but I felt he could have done more.

QUOTES

I could share a ton be here are my favorites…

  • For some reason—namely, our depravity—we have a tendency to think that the cross saves us from past sin, but after we are saved, we have to take over and clean ourselves up. This sort of thinking is devastating to the soul. We call this the “assumed gospel,” and it flourishes when well-meaning teachers, leaders, and preachers set out to see lives first and foremost conformed to a pattern of behavior (religion) and not transformed by the Holy Spirit’s power (gospel). (p. 14).
  • The work of God in the cross of Christ strikes us as awe-inspiring only after we have first been awed by the glory of God. (p. 21).
  • In the 1950s and ’60s, rationalism began to erode evangelical scholarship, from academia on down, resulting in a liberal theology that crept into seminaries and churches. As a defensive maneuver, conservatives grabbed hold of the pendulum and swung it all the way over to the right side, wanting to believe they’d got “God” down to a science, his thoughts and ways explainable like mathematics. Romans 11:33 tells us instead that God is incomprehensibly immense, exceedingly expansive, and eternally powerful, and so much so that time and time again our response to many of the things of God ought to be “I don’t know.” Rather than respond to his incalculable God-ness with our slide rules and flowcharts, we would do better to worship him with reverence and awe. How can God see, know, and do all that he does? I don’t know. (p. 27).
  • If we don’t understand the bad news, we will never grasp the good news. The bad news is not just that we don’t measure up to the law but that by the works of the law none of us will be justified before God (Gal. 2:16). What alternatives to the cross are there? Be a good man? Be a good woman? Be a good Boy Scout or Girl Scout for Jesus? This is what it boils down to for many in the church: replacing the centrality of the cross with something more appealing, something we think is more weighty.  (p. 59).
  • Receptivity and rejection are ultimately dependent upon God’s will, not ours. (p. 75).
  • In the end, there is nothing under the sun that brings lasting fulfillment. You have to look beyond the sun. The groove in our hearts cannot be filled with the temporal. It demands eternity. Therefore, our very searching for more and more, for bigger and bigger, and for better and better, is our sense that something is off, amiss, deformed, and broken. In the same sense that death, pain, and suffering tell us that something in the world is broken, our insatiable searching tells us that something bigger than the earth itself is missing from our soul.  (pp. 130-131).
  • The scope of Christ’s reconciling work on the cross spans the brokenness between man and God and the brokenness between earth and heaven. (p. 142).
  • When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. (p. 218).

 


© sportsillustrated.cnn.com

Last night I had the opportunity to speak at the Old Hickory Church of Christ on the subject, “Crafting Your Personal Vision.” I made the statement that in order to find your personal vision one needs to understand what bothers them in this world. In other words, in their heart of hearts, what do they look at and think to themselves, “This needs to change”? I made the statement that isn’t it ironic that many of the things we are most passionate about hold no eternal weight when it comes to the kingdom.

Enter Alabama Crimson Tide Fans.

I have witnessed a lot of SEC fanatics and the conference has some of the craziest fans in the world. The team that takes-the-cake are Alabama Crimson Tide fans. These people are dedicated and come in masses overtaking the Facebook, Twitter and every other social networking site. It is phenomenal and somewhat impressive. It’s also somewhat comical because these fans (every school has them…BAMA just has more) have real problems differentiating between Tide football just being a game versus the meaning of life. Remember this guy?

BAMA fans I realize you are getting mad right now and probably have websites, pictures and evidence to prove me wrong. I can hear the chorus now, “Robbie, there is a reason why BAMA has 14 national championships and your team doesn’t.” I guess so. I even think it is hilarious when I go to some of the major conferences among some of the youth ministry circles I run around in. Without failure I will see more Tide paraphernalia than any other team combined. It’s hilarious. I wish I saw more VOLS stuff there but we have had little to cheer about. I digress.

My point?

Why are we not that passionate about the gospel? What would it look like to have droves of people lining up to hear, proclaim and share the good news of Jesus Christ? I look at some other settings like The Village Church, The Church at Brook Hills, Mars Hill Church and North Point Community Church and the masses are coming to hear the gospel and I wonder, “Why can’t we do that?” I am not talking about copying models or giving up core doctrines but I think it comes down to something: passion. I wish we had 1/8 the passion for the gospel that BAMA fans have for football.

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

What do you think?