Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Gospel and Neighbors Kids

I got a chance to share the gospel with the neighborhood kids this week during our move.

I stepped out to load a few boxes into the trailer and I heard the other kids talking with my daughter about how you get to heaven. They didn’t seem to know.

I asked my daughter Taylor, “What are you guys talking about?” She brought all the kids over to me and we began to talk. I was able to tell them that there is no other way to heaven except through trusting in Jesus. He died to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins and he promise us eternal life if we believe in Him and follow Him.

I followed up by asking if they thought they were Christians. One said she thought she was (let’s pray she is!), the other didn’t know. They went back to riding bikes and I went back to loading boxes. Let’s pray for God to bring conversions to the people around us. Even 8 yr olds need to hear the gospel.

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Friday, February 20, 2009

Moving (#1)

We are making the first of a double move this weekend....we have a renter who is moving in here by the end of the month. We are renting from our friends Jason and Tiffany month to month until we find a location up in Peoria that works for us....God has been very kind to provide this arrangement for us!

I will continue blogging after we get settled in....

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Prodigal God

Looking for a fantastic exposition of Luke 15? I knew it. I've got just the book for you - The Prodigal God by Tim Keller.

It was recommended to me by a friend a couple of weeks ago and I got my hands on it. It tells the story of the parable of the prodigal son, the one who squanders his inheritance and life and comes back home to beg for forgiveness. It tells the story of an older son who never left, never squandered his money, never dishonored his dad, but was equally guilty of wrongdoing.

Dr. Keller does a masterful job of exposing sin for what it really is - it's not just lawbreaking, but lawmaking. It's putting yourself in the place of God and demanding to be rewarded for your morality. It's an unwillingness to submit to the Lordship and authority of Christ. Both the prodigal younger son and the moral older son were guilty of sin.

Only Christ was the true elder brother - the one who was both moral and submitted. He was chaste and compassionate to sinners. He is our example and our substitute for sin, so that we can repent of selfish younger brother sins and self-righteous elder brother sins. Only then will we experience the true hope that the gospel provides for us.

Go get your copy and let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Foundation: God's Word Part II

Hebrews 4:12 says, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

The Bible is a living book written under the inspiration of the living God. We should expect Him to use it to sift our motives, to challenge our thinking, to inspire our love. We come to His word not reluctantly, but because we believe that it is the only source of saving truth in the world. They are truly the words of eternal life.

When we come to God’s Word, we don’t come as judges or critics. We don’t come as those evaluating God – the way we might a popular TV show. No, God’s Word evaluates us. It critiques our lives and motives. It does it thoroughly and penetratingly. And it leaves us devastated in ourselves and longing for the grace of God.

But as we peer into the Word - as worshippers gazing up at the waterfall of God - we see the torrents of his love for us in Jesus Christ. We feel the power of the mighty cross and its washing away of our sin. We taste the refreshment of forgiveness and it satisfies our souls. We bask in the promise of eternal life with the Life Giver. And we go to the Word again and again and again.

May Grace Church be a body of believers who drink deeply from the Word of Life. May it be the foundation of all that we say and do.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Foundation: God's Word

I was 19 years old when I opened up the Word of God for the first time.

It was no big deal - nothing jumped out to bite me like I might have supposed. No trumpet sounds or angels appearing in the sky. It was a rather normal experience...or so I thought. But this book was far from being the normal, tame collection of writings that I took it to be. It is the very revelation of God.

Words have always been important to God. In the beginning, he created the world through words. He spoke into nothing and creation came to be. He spoke to Adam and Eve and they came to know their creator. He spoke to Noah, and Abraham. He spoke the law to Moses so the nation of Israel would know the character and will of God. He spoke through the prophets, to warn the people of God. Over and over again, God revealed himself through words.

And then comes Jesus. John's Gospel declares Jesus to be the very Word of God - the perfect revelation of all God's perfections. He is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises; in fact, all of the Old Testament was actually about Jesus (Luke 24).

Yet Jesus lived in time and space. He was only able to directly affect a relatively small number of people during his short ministry. As he ascends to heaven, he leaves behind the truth of his gospel in the form of the written word. It is the continued revelation of God for all to know and obey.

That's what 2 Timothy 3:15 makes clear: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."

Therefore, the Bible is like no other book that has ever been written. It's God speaking to us the truth of his good news. Apart from God speaking and revealing this to us, we would never come to know salvation in Christ. His Word is truth itself and we receive "everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us." (2 Peter 1:3)

The foundation of Grace Church is the immovable, divinely inspired Word of God. It's through this infallible book that we understand the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us, who suffered under the wrath of God as he hung on the cross, and who rose again in victory on the third day. May the Word of God be known, memorized, cherished and spoken as we build this new church!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dennys, Discipleship, and Death

You never know the hurt of the people who walk right by you unless you ask. Brokenness abounds.

We were at Denny's on Saturday morning for a time of discipleship/accountability. We found our booth, started settling in, and our waitress made her way over to our table. She is noticeably the most cheerful person in the joint. She grabs our coffee and waters and comes back to take our orders - and soon the food arrives.

As she is about to leave, I tell her, "We are going to pray here in a moment - can we pray for you as well?" She seems uncomfortable, but nods her head yes and keeps smiling. I press in - "Is there anything we can pray for in particular?"

She fumbles for a moment and then says, "Yeah, I just lost my husband. You can pray for me in that." Wow. No one expected that response. I expressed my sadness for her and committed to praying for her. I told her I was a pastor at the church next door and would be willing to meet with her if she wanted to talk.

She went on about her morning. She's dealing with one of the life's greatest losses, smiling and keeping busy at Denny's. Oh how people need the comfort and love of Jesus Christ! How many smiling people do we pass by each day who are gripped with the sorrow of this temporary abode? How much good can the gospel do for this lost and dying world if we would stop and engage?

Please pray that as we go back, God would open a door unto eternal life for this woman.

UPDATE: I received an Anonymous comment that read, "How do you know she isn't a Christian? It's ridiculous that you are speculating about something so private." My practice going forward on this blog will not be to respond to anonymous comments, but here is my response:

She might be. I hope she is! I hope that she has truly been regenerated and is walking in the comfort of knowing the Lord because that is her only hope in this life and in death. It didn't seem like she was eager to engage me in the topic, but we don't know for sure.

Ridiculous to speculate? Not at all. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5), bringing the ministry of reconciliation to the world. We are to look for opportunities everywhere we go to bring the gospel of life to those who don't know Christ, which means we need to ask questions. And listen to responses. And sometimes we'll find we are talking to those who have already been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. Many times we will not. But it doesn't mean we don't talk, or engage, or speculate, or ask, or pray.

Thank you anonymous for helping me to clarify this point.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Foundation: Jesus Christ

Simple church. That’s what I want. I want to lead and build and participate in a church that embraces the truth of the Bible and lives out the implications in everyday life. I think this is probably the goal for most churches and church plants.

But simple church is not easy church. It takes work to make things simple. It takes more effort to define and dismiss the unnecessary than it does to create and execute. Simple church means saying ‘no’ to good things so that the right things can be accomplished. Simple church means understanding what is important and what should define your values.

The Corinthian church was not a simple church – it was the definition of complex. It was confused on many issues, ranging from spiritual gifts to holiness to marriage to the Lord’s Supper. It needed clarity. It needed guidance. It needed repentance. Ultimately, it needed a clear understanding of the foundation of the church.

And so the apostle Paul arrives and sizes up the situation. And he speaks a word of simplicity to cast away the fog – church is about Jesus Christ. Relationships are about Jesus Christ. Life is about Jesus Christ. And so he writes in 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

At the center of the believer’s life, and the corporate identity of a church, is the God-man Jesus Christ. He is the Savior, he is the only mediator between God and man, he is the ruling Lord of the world. And he achieved this status not through force, but through humility.

“...who (Jesus), though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name that is above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil 2:5-11

He was crucified to defeat sin and death. He was crucified to redeem us. He was crucified so that all things would be made new under his Lordship. He was crucified so that we could be brought to God. And that’s why Paul begins by laying the foundation for the Corinthians – Jesus Christ is the center of redemptive history and is the center of every genuine believer and church. He is the foundation upon which the church will stand.

Is there more to the foundation of Grace Church than this? Sure there’s more, but there’s never less than Jesus Christ and Him crucified for us.

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Laying a Foundation

I remember when Tara and I bought our first house in 2000. It was a new build out in East Mesa and we watched with excitement as every little step brought it to completion. It started off as a dirt patch and it just sat. Nothing happened. We would drive out there at night and look at our little dirt patch and dream of what it would become.

When you dream about building a house, you think about paint colors, decorations, and which kid gets which room. You think about sitting out on your patio reading a book or inviting your neighbors over for a meal. You think about doing life inside this house.

Before too long, the digging began. Lots of digging. The construction of the house was finally underway! We came out there one day after church and our dirt patch was gone and in its place was a solid foundation of concrete. It undergirded everything we dreamed about, even though we would never see it again after the walls were constructed. It continued to give support to the frame long after that day.

Grace Church is in a similar spot. We have a dream ahead of us – to become a church that exalts Christ and impact the city as a community of believers. We are dreaming of the paint colors and the decorations and the back patio. It’s hard not to! But we don’t want to overlook the foundation.

Over the next few posts, we are going to walk through the foundation of our new church – the theology and values that will hold our church together and determine our boundaries. Above all, we pray that God would give us wisdom and courage to build with precious stones that will last for generations to come.

Posted via email from Chris's posterous

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