Beyond the Coffee Cup…

My barista knows my name.

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This isn’t the cup you were looking for, is it?

Confession: I don’t go to Starbucks unless I have to.

OK, no one has to go to Starbucks. I get it.

But when I want good coffee and the cafe environment, I rarely go there. This is partly because I’ve found better coffee (not a hard thing to do in the Pacific Northwest) and partly because when I walked into the coffee shop I now frequent, they asked my name.

From then on, I’ve been greeted by name every time I’ve walked through the door. And it’s not just me – many customers receive the same treatment, creating an atmosphere of communal conversation where your thoughts are only as private as you want to keep them. You can sit in the corner with a book and earbuds, or you can type away on your laptop until you want to join the conversation at the next table. And all the time, the baristas provide commentary, introductions, and most importantly, refills.

Did I mention the coffee is amazing?

In the wake of the most contrived story of 2015, I’ve been thinking about all the Christians who “don’t care about a cup.” Who don’t care about the container or company that supplies their caffeine.

But, I wonder, do they – do we care about the person who hands it to us?

We’re about to celebrate Christmas among millions of people. Millions of people who don’t share our values, who don’t respect our schedules, and who don’t agree with us about much of anything. Some of them will even be sitting across the table from us on Christmas Eve.

We can start or join arguments. We can grumble to our tribe. We can make ourselves a spectacle for the media to mock.

Or we can remember that Jesus celebrated the first Christmas by leaving heaven to love and live among people who rejected him.

They still do.

Do we love them? Will we live among them?

Or will we grab our red cups and dash out the door on our way to our next Bible study?

Without even learning their names. Or the names of their kids.

They have kids, you know? Some of them, at least.

They have kids and parents and spouses and ex-spouses. They have dreams. And bills. Some of them have diseases.

Do we know any of this? Or do we just know the sale price and coupon code?

I’m trying to say that there are more important things than coffee. And there are even more important things than Christmas. More important even than Christendom itself.

I’m trying to say that if our changing culture is indeed silencing the Christian witness we have so often proclaimed from the platform of public acceptance, it only means that we should invest even more in that one place where the Gospel has always borne the most fruit – our relationships with others.

I’m sure that the future will challenge the place of Christians in society, but I’m also sure that baristas will continue to learn their names.

Will we learn theirs?

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Posted in Culture, Evangelism | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Dear Worship Leader: Some Thoughts from the Congregation

I've visited quite a few churches lately. Here are a few observations...

I’ve visited quite a few churches lately. Here are a few observations…

Hey, Worship Leader, I’m on your side.

When God’s people worship him together, the enemy trembles, and you get to be on point. I really want you to do well.

But I’ve been visiting a lot of different churches lately, and I’m afraid it’s just not happening. Maybe it’s me. If someone loves God, they ought to be able to worship him anywhere, anytime, and I want to.

I really do.

But you’re not helping. Not often anyway. Instead of directing my heart to God, I’m afraid you’ve done more to distract. And I’ve talked to enough people to know that I’m not alone.

Now, I’ve pastored long enough to mistrust anonymous complaints, so let’s pray for each other. If I’m missing something you let me know. In the meantime here are a few things I hope you’ll consider before attempting to lead the saints into the presence of the Almighty:*

Just because your favorite Christian artists sound constipated doesn’t mean you have to. 

There are a lot of them.

It’s popular, I guess, though I don’t know why. Popularity rarely equals ability, but won’t you agree that unpleasant sounds detract from good music?

Grunting isn’t the same thing as passion. Groaning is no substitute for sincerity. And singing as if you’re in pain (to say nothing of your facial contractions) isn’t any more spiritual than singing pleasantly while smiling.

And since we’re talking about singing…

Just because you have a guitar doesn’t mean you should be singing.

It’s hard enough to play one instrument well, let alone two at the same time, and your voice is an instrument. I know you spend time tuning your guitar strings, but you kill the effect if you’re singing flat.

Can you tell?

We live in a world of singing guitarists, but we also live in a world of American Idol and The Voice. Surely we know by now that not everyone sings as well as they think. Use the gifts God has given you, and if you want to sing, consider taking some voice lessons.

And once you can sing well enough to lead the congregation…

Remember that if you look around and no one is singing with you, it’s called a “solo.”

John Maxwell is famous for saying that if you think you’re leading and no one is following, you’re only taking a walk. Well, the same goes for leading worship

That song you love but no one else outside your circle of friends has heard? Either teach it to us patiently, or sing it by yourself. But please don’t make us stand there awkwardly while you croon with your eyes shut.

Our eyes are open – we’re looking around to see if we’re the only ones who don’t know this song.

We’re not.

Even if we actually listen to the Christian Top 40 during the week, we can’t sing songs we don’t know.

And even if we do know them…

David Crowder doesn’t record congregational songs.

Yes, you went to that conference with five thousand other church leaders in their 20s and 30s and sang Crowder songs until the arena exploded.

But here’s the thing: you like Crowder and know his songs. His beautiful, highly poetic, musically complex, sometimes ambiguous songs. Which is like a list of reasons to think twice before using one in a congregation of diverse ages, backgrounds, and musical ability.

I don’t know what my beer-swilling, football-loving neighbor thinks about hurricanes, trees, and unforeseen kisses, but you want him to sing “Oh, la, la, la, la, la, la” a half dozen times?

And speaking of content…

Please make sure we’re singing to Jesus, not Captain Planet.**

Metaphors, similes, and symbolic language are great, and great lyrics are often nothing more than poetry set to music.

But there’s more to God than earth, water, wind, and fire. There’s the Gospel, and it involves death, life, blood, a wooden cross, faith, grace, sin, righteousness, love, substitution, rescue, victory, resurrection,  and glory.

And Jesus Christ.

Trust me, that’s more relevant and understandable than waves, waters, and words that only rhyme when sung with an Australian accent.

Of course, once we’re singing to Jesus, I’m sure you’ll want to lead us in prayer, so…

Can we pray to someone other than “Father Weejus?”

I’m not criticizing your prayers, but something’s a little off when you sound like you’re trying to think of things to say instead of talking to the King. You know, like, “Father Weejus ask you to fill us, and Weejus need you right now, and Weejus want your love.”

King, Father, Brother, or Friend, let’s talk to someone we know instead of trying to appear spiritual in front of a crowd.

It’s OK to stop playing your guitar while praying or simply to ask someone else to pray. Or everyone!

Just remember, “God” is not a synonym for “um.”

This post isn’t about bashing worship leaders.

Worship leader, like I said, I’m on your side. When you do a good job, I really appreciate it.

If I sound like I don’t take you seriously, it’s because I’ve sat in front of too many worship leaders who don’t seem to take themselves seriously.

They take hipster culture seriously. They take the recording industry seriously. They take their equipment and hair product seriously.

But when it comes to Christ, his Church, his Gospel, and the role of worship in our corporate sanctification and global mission, I’m just not convinced they understand how truly important they are.

How important you are.

I have been extraordinarily blessed by godly worship leaders who simply did their best for the glory of God and the good of his church. They loved God, considered God’s truth, thought hard about how to lead God’s people, and coordinated the abilities God had given them and others.

Neither the size of the worship team, nor the style of the music had anything to do with it. It simply came down to understanding the role, working hard to do it well, and trusting God to bless.

I pray the same for you.

*Disclaimer: This post was written after visiting a variety of churches over a 9 month period of time and should not be considered a reflection of any church or worship leader in particular.

The opinions given in this post, however, are unanimously shared by several other people visiting many of the same services, though – as a group – we possess above average musical training and ability, which undoubtedly makes us more sensitive to the musical portion of any worship service.

**”Captain Planet and the Planeteers” was an environmentalist sermon series thinly-veiled as an after-school cartoon in the early 90s. The hero was summoned by the combination of the protagonists’ elemental power rings: earth, fire, wind, water, and heart. Sadly many modern worship songs contain as much biblical truth as this show did.

Posted in Worship | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Do You Preach Your Last Sermon? (A Post for Non-Preachers)

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This coming Sunday I will preach for the last time as Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Dixon’s Mills, Alabama. And I’m not exactly sure what I will say.

For the last nine years and three months I have preached many different sermons to the same people, usually four times each week counting Sunday School lessons, which makes for something close to 2000 messages. I’ve preached the Old and New Testaments. I’ve preached the Law, History, Poetry, Prophets, Gospels, and Epistles. I’ve preached from every book of the Bible, every Psalm, every narrative, and every verse of Romans. I’ve preached through Ruth, Philippians, the Pastorals, James, most of Isaiah and 1 Corinthians, and through Revelation twice.

This isn’t a resume or CV. Most pastors of nine years could make a similar list. It’s simply my way of asking, “What’s left to say?”

I know there are some things I could say, things others in my place might say.

I could appropriate,…

I could borrow someone’s farewell speech. Maybe a great general like Washington or Napoleon or MacArthur, or an epic hero like Frodo or Gandalf. Or maybe the Apostle Paul in Acts 20 or 2 Timothy 4.

Or have my kids come out singing “So Long, Farewell,” followed by a broken rendition of Captain Von Trapp’s “Edelweiss.”

…bloviate,…

Maybe we’ll take a stroll down memory lane, avoiding the potholes, admiring the highlights. Of course, this risks becoming a rendition of “Aaron’s Greatest Hits,” which may or may not receive rave reviews. We could avoid this by giving glory to God, but that’s hard to do when you’re talking about yourself. I don’t think I want my last sermon to be a humblebrag.

…retaliate,…

A spleen vent would be even worse. Does part of me wish I could say some things to certain people in front of everyone? Oh, yes. Am I tempted, knowing there’s not much they could do about it? Sort of. Would it feel good to get it off my chest? For a second, maybe. Are there teeth marks on my tongue? A few. Would this irreparably damage nine years of sweet Christian fellowship with an awesome church? Probably. Would it be worth it? Not for any amount of money.

…inundate,…

But I’d pay good money to go back and say some things differently. Or not at all. Or say some things I should’ve said and didn’t.

I’m imagining myself seven years in the future when our oldest son leaves for college. No doubt I’ll want to pour an encyclopedia of accumulated life wisdom over his head as he walks out the door. Even with years to prepare for it, I know there will be too much I will want to tell him. Only there won’t be time.

And there won’t be time this coming Sunday. There’ll only be time for one more sermon.

…or extrapolate.

Wikipedia says Lao-tzu taught us that a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step. He didn’t say how you finish it, but I’m willing to guess. I’m willing to believe that by the time you’ve walked a thousand miles, you finish it the same way you started it. You end it with a single step, just like all the steps before it.

If you live every day as if it might be your last, when it actually gets here, you don’t need to wonder what to do. You’ve been doing it all along. Whether you’re pitching your last inning, conducting your last symphony, praying one last time with your daughter before walking her down the aisle, or saying a last “I love you” at a hospital bedside, you’ve done it a thousand times before. And you’ll do it once more.

So, I think that’s probably what I’ll do.

I have tried for nine years and three months to preach expositional, doctrinally-rich messages from the Bible and offer myself as a conduit for God’s Spirit to connect God’s Word to God’s Church. I have tried to hold the Scriptures as my authority while celebrating God, the Gospel, and the Great Commission. I have tried to remember Richard Baxter’s famous words: “I preached as never sure to preach again, as a dying man to dying men.” I have tried to preach nothing but Christ and him crucified. All failures are mine, all victories God’s, but I hope I have succeeded.

Come Sunday, I hope to do it again.

Posted in Exposition, Personal | Tagged , | 4 Comments

So You’re Done with Church…

What is church? Who knows anymore?

We all know it’s not a building, it’s people (even if we refer to some buildings as “churches” in our colloquial shorthand).

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Sketch by Milan Rubio

But whatever else church is, one thing’s clear: plenty of people are done with it.

This isn’t news, though folks keep sharing posts like this, this, and this.

Most recently, I read a discussion between some guys on social media, at least one of whom has pastored and has a seminary degree, and is now done. He gave his reasons, which seem to be fairly typical of the dones, but I’ve found myself wanting to ask some questions.

So this is for him and all the rest of the dones out there.

You say you’ve left the church but not Jesus, and you’ve intrigued me.

I don’t want to argue; these are legitimate questions.

Full Disclosure…

Of course, before I ask them, I want to be totally honest. I might be reacting because your journey threatens mine.

I’m a vocational pastor; for the last 11 years I have fed, clothed, and sheltered my family with a paycheck given to me by an organized, institutional church. I presume they gave it to me so that I could devote my working hours to various forms of ministry, and I’ve always believed this was in the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:17.

But your form of Christianity basically says that I am unnecessary, and, let’s face it, if every Christian followed your path to health and freedom, there wouldn’t be anyone to pay me anyway.

(I should add that in my situation this would likely mean an increase in pay, as well as an easier schedule, not to mention freeing up my weekends.)

And you should also be aware that I am actually preparing to start a church. Naturally, I might find people on your trajectory to be frustrating even though I share some of your concerns and aim to avoid many of the same things as you.

So, I can’t be totally objective.

And I’ve still got my questions…

I’d love to hear your answers. Here they are (in no particular order):

How do you practice Ephesians 4:11-16 in your Christian life? (This is the passage about Jesus giving special people to the church to help equip each person in it to contribute to the health of the whole, by teaching truth and discerning error.)

How do you practice other passages like Hebrews 3-4 or 10 or 1 Corinthians 14, which refer to corporate assembly and mutual member ministry?

Who shepherds you? (I realize that may sound horribly patronizing, and I don’t mean it that way. But the apostles seemed to think it necessary in their absence – Acts 20:28-29 / 1 Peter 5:1-4. Sorry, not arguing. Maybe a better question would be, Who watches out for your soul? Besides Jesus, of course. Think, Hebrews 13:7 or 17)

When you evangelize those around you without any embarrassing church ties, and God supernaturally converts a soul through your witness, how do you help them experience the family of God?

How do you handle baptism? Or communion for that matter? (Of course, communion isn’t technically commanded like baptism is, but how do you “discern” the body of Christ while avoiding it?)

If spiritual gifts are given for the benefit of building up the body of Christ, what should people with the gifts of leading or teaching or prophesying do?

If you interpret all of the New Testament references to the organized church in terms of “that was then, this is now,” how do you still maintain that things like homosexuality or adultery are sin? (I’m assuming a lot here. Do you still have a category for calling certain things “sin?” I confess my ignorance here; that’s why I’m asking.)

In your life, what are weddings and funerals going to look like?

Without church you can’t really practice Matthew 18 or 1 Corinthians 5, so how can you tell if you’re really enjoying “Christian” fellowship or just hanging out with the neighbors?

Speaking of fellowship (of the Philippians 1:5 sort), is there any place for missions to unreached people groups in your faith? How does that work?

I’m Serious…

I really want to know. Ordinarily, I would have started with whybut I think you’ve already told me.

And look, I get a lot of what you’re saying. I’ve been in a lot of churches that would have driven me to desertion too. I think I’m with you in a lot of ways…

I hate church marketing.

I hate millions of dollars spent on religious “eye candy.”

I hate psychological, self-help, power-of-positive-thinking junk served up with a Christianesque veneer.

I hate it that people can “attend church” for decades and know as little of the Bible as a new convert.

I hate the professionalization of the ministry.

I hate the church-equals-concert / conference confusion.

I hate the dichotomy between “going to” and “being the” church, as well as the one between “creeds” and “deeds.”

I hate the pride, greed, hypocrisy, manipulation, nepotism, selfishness, and gluttony.

Maybe it’s because I don’t view these things as part of the church, but I’m just not done yet.

In fact, I’ve got just one more legitimate question to which I’d love to hear your answer:

Given your private Exodus, you’ve obviously trying to help yourself, but given the church’s public flaws, what are you prepared to do to help the rest of us?

Posted in Apologetics, Missions | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Give Thomas a Break!

3315093050_a59a382800_zI mean it.

Let’s cut the poor guy some slack. At least until we take a look in the mirror.

After all, this man, who has been known as “Doubting Thomas” for hundreds of years, was the very person who bowed before Jesus publicly and confessed, “My Lord and my God!” Eventually he gave his life for Christ as a missionary in India.

What have you done lately?

I know, this was only after he had refused to believe that Jesus was really alive three days after his brutal murder. This was only after he had demanded to see the physical proof of Jesus’ resurrection. This was only after Jesus’ had given proof to the other ten disciples while Thomas was out running an errand.

Wait. What?

Yep. John 20 tells this particular story. Jesus had appeared to Mary soon after he came out of the tomb, and she spent the rest of the day trying to convince Peter and the others, who didn’t believe her until Jesus came and showed them his wounds.

Then he told them that they now had the power and authority to offer eternal salvation to anyone who would believe the Gospel of his death and resurrection.

Unfortunately, in God’s timing, Thomas missed it.

Which meant that when he demanded to see the same proof that Jesus had given the other disciples, he wasn’t just trying to be “one of the guys,” he was questioning Christ’s commissioned witnesses of the Gospel.

Which led to Jesus rebuking him for acting like an “unbeliever.”

See, Jesus never intended to appear personally to every single person he would save. He only appeared after his resurrection to a select few whom he commissioned as witnesses and gave them a powerful message called the Gospel. The Gospel, not Jesus’ personal appearance, would now be sufficient to reveal Christ, carry grace, and deliver people into faith.

That’s what Thomas heard and what Thomas doubted. And it’s what professing Christians often doubt still today. Oh, you’ll never hear a true Christian doubt Jesus’ resurrection, but you may hear or see them doubting the Gospel.

Strange, I know, but consider…

Evangelism that puts more emphasis upon getting the right atmosphere, speaker, lighting, music, mood, technique, vocal inflection, and sales technique than it does on getting the right message (Sin? Repentance? What are these?)

Counseling that defers to psychological models with precious little room for a Creator, revealed truth, the corruption of sin, the power of grace, or even the idea of a compassionate Redeemer

Ministry Methods that put a high-dollar value on chasing cultural relevance and producing dazzling displays of human creativity and ingenuity instead of trumpeting the spiritual value of transformed lives

Preaching that pleasures audiences with jokes, erudition, hipster references, moral platitudes, entrepreneurial slogans, or emotional storytelling instead of proclaiming “Christ and him crucified”

Ministry Qualifications that depend more upon Dale Carnegie, Stephen Covey, Seth Godin, Richard Branson, Jim Collins, and Jack Welch than on how well a person knows Christ and the difference he has made

Outreach that eclipses the Gospel by stressing compassionate deeds without the corresponding creeds

Worship that praises God more for material blessings that are limited to the first world than for supernatural blessings that fit us as citizens of another world

It’s easy to do, isn’t it?

So, like I said, before we berate Thomas for doubting the Gospel he would end up spending his life to give, let’s stop and ask if we’ve begun to doubt the Gospel that has given us life.

This post is a condensed version of two posts that appeared on April 8 and April 12, 2013, “Doubting Thomases All,” pts. 1 and 2, respectively. See these posts for further discussion of the above.

Posted in Exposition, Theology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Gospel-Centered: You Keep Using That Word…

Dear Church Family and Friends*,

...I do not think it means what you think it means

…I do not think it means what you think it means

If your ears are attuned to the Christian lingo of the day, you may have noticed a subtle shift over the past few years. Though previous generations of Christians often used the word “Gospel,” a new phrase has entered our conversation. I think it probably started within Reformed circles but has gradually become more common in Baptist and more broadly evangelical camps.

The phrase is “Gospel-centered,” and it is now used to describe everything from preaching to parenting, counseling to committees, and worship to window-washing.

But as I have watched the spread of this good idea, I have become increasingly concerned that people are using a phrase without knowing what it means.

I recently heard a pastor defend his ministry as “Gospel-centered,” because, as he said, “We spread the Gospel.” He went on to describe his church’s evangelistic actions as proof of his “Gospel-centeredness.”

And I’ve heard others use the phrase almost as a shorthanded way of saying, “We believe the Gospel.”

But despite these good intentions, believing and sharing the Gospel is not the same thing as being Gospel-centered. Indeed, it is quite possible to share the Gospel in a way that is inconsistent with the Gospel itself!

And that’s the key word: consistency.

If I tell you that I am “Gospel-centered,” it means that I am trying to live every part of my life in a way that agrees with the truth I claim to believe. I want you to imagine my life as a wheel, with the Gospel as the hub, connected by spokes to everything I say and do. Does my preaching, parenting, counseling, conversation, and community engagement agree with the truth that we are all sinners incapable of saving ourselves, dependent upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save us, forgive us, justify us, transform us, and empower us for service?

See, we can share the Gospel as a way of trying to make ourselves right with God. We can raise our children as if obedience to rules and authority were the highest goal. We can counsel people to just stop doing bad and start doing good. We can attend conferences on self-improvement. We can judge people’s spirituality by their outward appearance. We can perpetuate the myth of the self-made man or add to our church rolls through the flimsiest professions of faith or hope the next GOP candidate will turn the USA around.

But all of this contradicts Romans 12:1-2, which teaches that our only hope is inner transformation flowing from God’s mercy in Christ’s work on our behalf – in short, the Gospel. When we look to God to capture our hearts first and then to transform our lives, that’s when we begin to understand what it means to be “Gospel-centered.”

It’s an important phrase, and a good one. But I fear that without proper understanding we will end up missing what it was coined to provide and embracing what it was coined to avoid.

We will claim Christ while completely ignoring his work. And we won’t even know it.

How do you see “Gospel-centered” misused or misunderstood today? Tell me in the comments – let’s figure this one out.

*This post was originally a letter sent to the members / attenders of Central Baptist Church
Posted in Church Letters | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

What – Exactly – Is God Going to Do?

God's calling is more than we think

The God who calls you is faithful…

Imagine knowing what God was going to do next.

Now imagine knowing exactly what God wanted you to do next.

Then combine these two, and what would you have?

You’d have an unstoppable you!

Just think about that for a moment.

We often swing between two questions: “What should I do?” and “What is God going to do?”

Imagine how it would feel to have the answer to both of those questions at the same time.

Good Feelings

It would feel pretty good, wouldn’t it?

Yes! And that’s just the feeling we’re hoping to create in others (and in ourselves) by quoting 1 Thessalonians 5:24, which is frequently found vying for its rightful place among the “Top 10 Most Misused Verses in the Bible.”

Here it is in its lilting Elizabethan translation: “Faithful is he who calleth you, who also will do it.”

There are lots of ways to translate this verse, but it basically works out to three statements:

God called you. God is faithful. God will do it.

God’s Faithfulness

This is great encouragement for people trying to serve God, especially if they’ve sensed God leading them to do something specific. I mean, if you think you know what God wants you to do, how awesome is it to know that his faithfulness guarantees that he will get it done?

That’s why this verse frequently shows up as a motivational meme on Christian Facebook posts,

why I once knew an evangelist who claimed this as God’s promise for him as he entered career evangelism,

and why I’m tempted to claim this verse on days of doubt and discouragement as my family and I follow God’s leading to relocate and plant a church.

But I can’t.

I can’t because that’s not what it means.

And I can’t because it means something far, far better!

God’s faithfulness does not extend to my personal success but to my total, eternal salvation.

Glorious Future

See, when the Bible speaks of God’s “calling,” it’s talking about something very different from our modern ideas of “vocation” (another word for “calling,” actually).

Oh, there are extraordinary occasions in Scripture when God might “call” a prophet or apostle, but when Ephesians 4:1 instructs us to “walk worthy of the calling by which you were called,” it’s not talking about being a good plumber or doctor or preacher.

It’s talking about an earlier reference, like Ephesians 1:18, where the Apostle prays that Christians would realize the “hope of God’s calling,” namely the glory of Christ’s salvation. Or like Romans 8:30 where God’s “calling” is that link between predestination and justification, or like 2 Peter 1:10, where we are told to make sure of our “calling,” that is, our salvation.

When 1 Thess. 5:24 refers to the God who called us, it’s talking about how God – by his grace and Gospel – invited and drew us to Christ and his salvation.

But just how far does that salvation go?

Going Farther

All the way.

When we read this verse in its context, we find that the promise of verse 24 follows the prayer of verse 23. In that verse, the Apostle prays that God would completely sanctify his Christian friends and preserve them until the return of Christ. (In this respect, the verse is very much like the promise of Philippians 1:6, in which he expressed confidence that God, who had begun the work of salvation in Christians would continue it until Christ’s return.)

And that’s what 1 Thessalonians 5:24 is all about. Here God is promising us that if we have heard the Gospel and, by his grace, responded through repentance and faith, then he will sustain our faith and purify our hearts until the day that we see Christ. It is a promise of total victory over sin and the world.

That’s a little bit better than saying, “If God’s given you that dream for a hair salon or coffee shop or CrossFit gym, then just rest assured. He’s guaranteed your success.”

And it’s better than telling a church planter that if God’s called him, a multi-site megachurch is just a few years away.

Growing Faith

Let’s face it. God has more important things on his mind than making you wealthy. He wants to make you like Christ. And if he’s saved you, he will.

He might advance your career to do it. He might get you fired to do it. But he will do it.

He might use you to lead thousands to Christ or let you watch a fledgling ministry die in your arms.

He might give you a million dollars in the process, or he might force you to apply for Medicaid.

Because money’s not the issue. His glory and your joy are the issue.

So let’s stop coopting God’s word to Christian-ize our multi-level marketing schemes.

Let’s stop telling successive classes of graduating preachers that they’re destined for greatness.

Let’s stop soothing single parents and stressed-out school teachers with random Bible verses that don’t apply.

Instead, let’s point them to Christ and remind them Christ is proof that God is so loving and powerful that he will stop at nothing to redeem us and bring us into the eternal joys of his Kingdom. Whatever it takes.

And what about our quest for joy in the present? Well, because of this promise, that’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

For his people, that’s a guarantee.

Posted in Theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment