Archive for January, 2008

31
Jan
08

Man-Centered Gospel

I enjoyed a refreshing conversation with a CrossPointer a few days ago.

He remarked how he was developing greater disregard toward the man-centered proclamation of God’s salvation.  He suggested not a few of the sermons television preachers proclaimed were works-oriented in nature.  He also noted how numerous books in a local Christian bookstore conveyed a man-centered, works-driven methodology. 

When I probed as to how he could tell the difference, the CrossPointer said, “The more I hear the gospel preached at CrossPoint, the better equipped I am to distinguish when a false gospel message is proclaimed.”

Amen!  And again I say Amen!

There was a time in my ministry I limited the gospel of God through Jesus Christ to evangelistic settings only.  Today, thank the Lord I realize the gospel must be proclaimed every time the people of God gather to worship God.  Thus, it is my desire to preach the gospel every time CrossPoint gathers for worship. 

The gospel is not only for those who are perishing; the gospel is also for those who are being saved.  For those who are perishing the gospel leads to salvation.  For those who are being saved the gospel leads to their sanctification.

1 Corinthians 1:18 says,

 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

We preach and teach Jesus at CrossPoint every time we gather because the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God.

So how does one distinguish between a man-centered Gospel and the God-centered gospel?  I will provide details starting in tomorrow’s blog.

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30
Jan
08

Satisfied in My Condition

I quoted Thomas Watson in my message last weekend.  I continue to return to his thoughts about accepting God’s will for your life.  I thought it might be helpful for some of you to have this quote readily available this week:

A good Christian argues thus: It is God that has put me in this condition; he could have raised me higher, if he pleased, but that might have been a snare for me: he has done it in wisdom and love; therefore I will sit down satisfied in my condition.  Surely this glorifies God much; God counts himself much honoured by such a Christian.  Here, says God, is one after mine heart; let me do what I will with him, I hear no murmuring, he is content.  This shows abundance of grace.  When grace is crowning, it is not so much to be content; but when grace is conflicting with inconveniences, then to be content is a glorious thing indeed.  For one to be content when he is in heaven is no wonder; but to be content under the cross is like a Christian.

29
Jan
08

I Just Don’t Get It

God bless Heath Ledger’s family for the sorrow they are experiencing over his death.  It is obvious they are grief-stricken.  And I certainly do not intend to disrespect them in any way, but why was his untimely death treated as national news?

Like so many of you, I am mystified by the continual media coverage devoted to things that really do not matter. 

Last week Ledger’s death received national attention.  The first few days after his body was discovered we were given up-to-date reports.  Photographers filled the streets of New York to take a photo of his body being whisked away by the coroner.  Two days later a greater number of paparazzi clamored to get a photo of his body being delivered to the funeral home.  Of course, the national news delivered video of this event.  By the week’s end most major news outlets offered daily updates with regard to the circumstances associated with Ledger’s death.  One week later, we are provided the details as to how his body was being flown back home to Australia.

I just don’t get it.

Now don’t get me wrong; what happened was tragic.  For his family and his friends, this loss is horrible.  Yet the media continues to treat this story as if it were a national tragedy.  

Somebody help me; I just don’t understand how any of this is “news”.

While I am ranting, let me add that I do not care that Brittney missed her court date.  Neither am I the least bit intrigued that Lindsey Lohan was ordered to rehab.  Nor do I consider it news that former President Clinton fell asleep during a Martin Luther Day sermon.  I am not concerned either that Drew Peterson took out his garbage the other day while the authorities searched for his missing wife.

Okay, since I have started this tirade, let me add a few other objections about our media.

I am distracted by the news tidbits they run across the bottom of the television screen.   Which do they want me to do, listen to what they are saying or read what they are typing?

Additionally, I am not interested in the latest poll numbers regarding next week’s primary.  Did they not learn their lesson in New Hampshire?  Besides do those who publish the numbers not realize those numbers change with the weather?

And, on a local level, I do not need watch live coverage of people in Clanton waiting outside on the big “snow event” heading their way.  Also, quit telling me what kind of weather I can expect next weekend when it is only Monday.  I may not live that long.  Just tell me what to expect today.  Neither am I interested in my television viewing being interrupted with a politician passing through town giving a primary election speech.

Please talk to me about things that really matter.  Please report news that affects my life.  Please tell me something I need to know.  Report about something happening in another part of the world, which will sooner or later will affect the United States.

Instead of giving me a death count from Iraq, please tell me what kind of progress the Iraq government is making.  And try to disclose that information without a bias.

I would like to know more about what Congress is doing to control our borders.

Are we making any progress or our elected leaders just blowing political smoke?

Keep me informed of the crimes against humanity in China. 

What is happening in Korea? 

Please give an update from Sudan.

What are people doing to fight off the current recession?

Is there someone else other than a Clinton or a Bush running for president? 

Okay, I am through with my rant.  Thanks for entertaining me by reading this blog.

 

28
Jan
08

Oops, Glory of God Correction

While reading my January 24 blog about the glory of God I noticed an innocent inaccuracy in my communication.  Toward the end of the writing I offered a solution as to how sinners are able to give glory to God.  My solution sounds correct.  It even has a biblical tone to it.  Yet after reading through my concluding thoughts a few times I realized my mistake.

I wrote,

So what is the solution?

I believe part of the solution begins with contrition.  In Psalm 51 David declares, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Broken people have an access to God like no other.  Only broken and contrite people of God can truly experience the glory of God.

In one sense I was partially correct.  I tried to cover my theological bases by writing “I believe PART of the solution begins with contrition.” 

Yes, contrition is PART of the solution.  But contrition is not where our solution BEGINS.  The solution to a sinner giving glory to God BEGINS with God.  It is only through Jesus Christ we are able as sinner to glorify God.

 Sure, contrition, brokenness and confession of sin are necessary elements of approaching a holy God.  Yet that process must begin somewhere and it does not begin with us.  The ability as a sinner to give glory to God begins with what God did for us, not with what we do for God.  Access to God’s glory is always initiated by God. 

Under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul writes this about what God did for us through Jesus Christ:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Note the meat of the text in verses 18 and 19:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 

Again, note verse 21:

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

Our salvation has everything to do with God, and nothing to do with us.  God starts our salvation, continues our salvation and completes our salvation.  The New Testament teaches,

 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 

Philippians 1:6 

I know some of you may think I am jumping through some unnecessary theological semantics.  Yet the more I hear the “works oriented gospel” propagated today I realize how necessary it is for me to remain consistent in my gospel understanding of salvation through Jesus Christ.  My clarification of this point may seem infinitesimal to some; yet over time if we consistently start with man our salvation message becomes man-centered.  The more I read the Bible the more I am aware that our salvation is always begins with God which means it is God-centered.

 So as to lead no one astray, let me repeat my correction: The ability as a sinner to give glory to God begins with what God did for us, not with what we do for God.  Access to God’s glory is always initiated by God.

24
Jan
08

Why We Miss the Glory of God

CrossPoint’s plan for 2008 is to measure our success in terms of God’s glory. Our passion for the year is to seek, experience, learn, live for and share God’s glory. The only way this will be accomplished is for each of us to be consumed by the glory of God. God’s glory must be our singular desire; it must be our first and only priority of the year.

Have you ever wondered why God’s glory or knowledge of God’s glory is such a mystery?  As one author asks, “Why have the best minds of men not been able to discover the nature of God and His wisdom?”

The answer, I believe, is simple. 

Sin is the answer.  Our pride gets in the way of God’s glory.  Humans reject God.  We think we know what is best, and we say to God, “I don’t need you” or “God, I will let you know when I need you.”  I am convinced that is why Paul, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, recorded these words:

            …for all have sinned and fall short of the GLORY of God (emphasis mine).

The Greek word for “sin” is hamartia.  The word is taken from the world of athletic competition, having to do with archery.  It envisions an archer in place, who deflects his aim and misses the mark.  He sins by missing the mark.  His purpose was to hit the bull’s eye, but he missed it completely.  That is what happens when we sin-we miss the mark.  Thus, the world is made up of bad archers.  None of us is able to hit the target (Exposition of Bible Doctrines, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company).

So what is the solution?

I believe part of the solution begins with contrition.  In Psalm 51 David declares, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”  Broken people have an access to God like no other.  Only broken and contrite people of God can truly experience the glory of God.

So, where does that leave us?

It leaves us in a state of brokenness and repentance.  Until then, we are only talking of God’s glory and not experiencing it.

23
Jan
08

Another Big Day at CrossPoint

Oh, what a day!I know I have written about this before, yet the Sundays at CrossPoint are increasingly better and better each weekend.

I emailed Bryan Haskins this morning to tell him that worship was over the top. He did a great job selecting the music, preparing the choir and leading the congregation. I loved “All About Your Glory”. I hear us singing that glorious song a few more times this year, don’t you?

It was fun introducing the many new members, and asking them to stand across the front of the room. For those of you who were there, what did you think about the new tradition we started in the third worship celebration? At the coffee bar I had potential new member ask me when the next membership class would be available so they could join. Now that is good stuff.

Speaking of the coffee bar—watch out Starbucks! I really like all the space we have to mix and mingle. I also like the changes we made to the front entrance. We have more space for traffic flow now. Plus, I think the new coffee bar area will be a better place for me to meet and greet guests.

Our open house was a great add on to the day. I was surprised with the number of people who attended. It was good to see so many Center Pointers come to take a tour. We were equally surprised to meet a number of guests who came in response to the advertisements we placed in the area newspapers. CBS 42 surprised us as well by recording a segment for the Sunday evening news. Did any of you see the segment during the 5:30 PM broadcast?

Next weekend we turn our attention to the final message of our introductory series on God’s Glory. The message title is “Do All to the Glory of God” from 1 Corinthians 10:31. We will also participate in the Lord’s Supper at the conclusion of each worship celebration. I want God’s glory to consume us. If the remaining 49 Sundays are like the first three Sundays of the year, I think God’s glory will fill us.

That’s enough about Sunday. It is my desire to return to a daily routine of writing blogs this week. I plan to do that as soon as I turn the corner on my jet lag. Now there’s a blog—overcoming jet lag. Whew! I’m tired. Is it time for bed? It sure feels like it.

16
Jan
08

This Can’t be What It’s all Cracked up to Be

Tom Brady is the quarterback of the New England Patriots. His team is currently on a 16-0 winning streak, with the possibility of going 19-0 if they win the Super Bowl. Brady was recently interviewed by Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes.

The interview took a serious twist when Brady made this vulnearable comment:

“Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, ‘God, it’s got to be more than this.’ I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.”

When the Kroft asked him, “What’s the answer?”

Brady responded, “I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I love playing football and I love being quarterback for this team. But at the same time, I think there are a lot of other parts about me that I’m trying to find.”

Wow! This guy has it all—according to the world’s standards. He dates actresses. He makes big money. He owns three super bowl rings. Again, by what the world says, this guy is the epitome of success, and he still says, “This can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” Even though Brady is surrounded by all the accouterments of success, it is apparent his life is empty.

If you had 60 minutes with Brady, what would you say to him?

First I would commend Brady for his honesty. I appreciate his transparency. Brady is more forthright than most people in his shoes. I would encourage Brady to remain open. His openness will lead to his answers.

Next, I would let Brady know that God has the answers to his questions in the Bible. For starters, the Bible has something to say about this thirst in Brady’s heart. This emptiness in his heart is there for a reason—it’s a desire God placed there. The Bible says,

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

The Bible is clear; every human has a God-given desire for eternity in his heart. Yet man’s biggest problem is that he cannot quench that desire on his own. God must fill that void.

Obviously, I would communicate with the All-Pro Quarterback everything Jesus says about life, death and eternal life. I would begin with these truths:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:10

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:45

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:1-7


Then, I would inform Brady that a heart filled with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the answer. The thirst in everyone’s heart is a thirst for meaning and significance. Super Bowl rings, dates with super models, endless wealth and everything else the world says we need is not the answer. The answer to life’s quest is a life filled with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul said,

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

Finally, I would inform Tom that he is not much different from anyone else. Sure, Brady is mega-wealthy and extremeley famous, yet his struggles are the same as everyone else’s. Brady’s answer is found in God’s Word. And God’s Word will tell Brady that someone who has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ finds meaning and purpose in life. That is when I will give Tom the opportunity to repent of his life of sin and place his full confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. Until then, Tom will continue to say, “This can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.”