Thursday, August 20, 2009

True Obedience?

Dane Ortlund has a great section in his book "A New Inner Relish" on the topic of obedience. He writes:

"It is simplistic to see only two possibilities regarding faithfulness to God: disobedience and obedience. Rather, three options are before us: disobedience, authentic obedience, and inauthentic obedience. Disobedience refers, of course, to rejection of the imperatives of God. Inauthentic obedience is a bit more slippery. It is obedience driven by something other than the heartfelt love for God and His glory that characterizes authentic obedience.

Legalism, for example, sees obedience as a cause of fellowship with God rather than its result. Such 'obedience' is in fact disobedience, since God not only demands that we obey but that we do it for the right reasons (Deut. 28:47; Prov. 16:2, 1 Cor 4:5). So there is not only an external (the act of obedience) but an internal (the motivation) element of godly living.

We find ourselves, then, not with two kinds of obedience and one kind of disobedience. Rather, there are actually two brands of disobedience - one involving open defiance and one involving apparent obedience accompanied by impure motives - and only one true obedience."

How is your obedience to the Lord? Is it motivated by a heart of gratitude for what Christ has done? We must never separate the gospel's work from the call to obey or we will produce horizontal obedience that fails to bring glory to Christ. It looks like the real thing on the outside, but its an imitation of the real thing.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Preaching to the Kids

At Grace Church, we are going to try a hybrid approach to our Children's Ministry. We want to teach our kids the truths of God in an age-appropriate setting, but we also want the older children to benefit from all that happens in the gathered assembly. So, we are going to teach 3 weeks in CM, 1 week off.

In preparation for that (as well as making the workload a little lighter), we have had the kids in the main meeting for the last two Sundays. It's been great having them in with us! They get to experience the sermon (I know - wow!), they get to see communion take place and participate in the offering. I'm excited to see how God uses this time in the life of our church!

I got a taste of it this morning - my daughter came into my office and asked if I wanted to review the message with her (I know, crazy. She's 7). Of course, I said YES. So we sat and talked and she told me that the point she liked the most was about God's glory. I was referencing 2 Cor 4:16 - our light and momentary afflictions are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. I emphasized that because we are promised the glory of Christ forever, there is no sacrifice or initiative that is not worth making.

Taylor told me that she really loved that and that it helped her with leaving her best friend back in Gilbert. LET ME TELL YOU - that was a cool moment as a dad. To see my daughter not only learn Scripture, but to love Scripture and lean on it is an inexpressible joy.

So kids of Grace Church - I want God to instruct you as much as any adult in the church! I pray we have many great moments from the kids being in for the whole meeting.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Rio Vista - Here We Come

In just a few hours, we are going to be making our way over to the facility we've rented for our first meeting. It's hard to believe that the summer is almost over and our church plant is being placed into the soil for good. It was April of 2008 when the decision was made to start Grace Church - and in many ways, it feels like that was yesterday.

But its here. We have made it through the summer of house church and have experienced God's grace and favor on our little church. Everyone is excited to take the next step and see what God will do in us, for us, and through us.

We don't go lightly. We know there are stormy waters that lie ahead. We know that we have enemies who want to destroy the name of Christ. Please pray for us that we remain steadfast in the truth and joyful in our salvation.

Rio Vista, here we come. Official kickoff is August 30th, 4pm.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Your Best Life Now?

It's all going to end. And it wasn't supposed to be this way.

I was driving down the road a couple of days ago, doing the same routine I do everyday. I thought about how much I appreciated the benefits of life's rhythms - I don't need to start from scratch everyday to think and understand about how God wants me to live or what my days should look like. I read the Bible, I pray, work on sermons, prepare and lead meetings, counsel, spend time with friends and family, etc. Different details, same categories day in and day out. There's something comforting about knowing the course of your life, even if its not always fireworks and games.

And I began to think about how great this life on earth would be if we knew that it would last forever. There's a longing in our hearts for permanence and stability. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has put eternity into man's heart - I think this is what I experienced. I want to live forever and enjoy God forever.

So how do I reconcile this desire, which plays itself out every day in the ordinary of life, with the reality that this world is fading away and is temporary at best?

When I look at the original creation in Genesis, I find God creating His people for communion with Him and to rule over the rest of creation. Had sin not entered the world, it would have been an awesome scene. As people worked and played and rested, they would have done so in perfect communion with God. There would be no need for heaven because it WAS heaven - in the sense that heaven is the place where God is most fully present to bless. God was constantly, lovingly blessing his people as they lived "ordinary" lives.

This means that we would have indeed been living our best life now!

But sin has entered into the world through Adam and has corrupted EVERYTHING. Relationship with God was broken. Communion was lost. The earth has become cursed. Bodies have begun decaying. Death is the end result of everything apart from the vital connection and relationship to God.

And so now - apart from Christ - we live one of two ways. We either fail to recognize or accept the fallen condition of man/world and we continue to live as if it will all last forever...or we recognize the meaningless of trying to accomplish/build anything that will not last and we become fatalists.

Apart from Christ, these views are understandable. But Christ's redemption has changed everything! We look to heaven. We look to a time and place where the original creation is restored and perfected through Christ. And we let the solid promise of heaven transform the way we think and live today.

We are to live as if life will go forever because Christ has purchased for us eternal life with God. Instead of working for a shakeable kingdom made of money, possessions, power, and fame, we can build and accomplish eternal things now - investing and laboring for the kingdom of God as we store up treasures in heaven. Instead of moving toward suicidal fatalism, we can weep for the destruction of sin in this world and let it motivate us toward evangelism, forgiveness, and good works.

As long as we are alive on this earth, we must remember that sin has changed everything, but that the gospel is reversing the curse ever more as we march toward the day of glory!

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