Monthly Archives: June 2009

Matt Chandler on Gospel Ministry in the Bible Belt

I have a manifesto-type piece brewing on what it’s like to be gospel-driven in the Bible Belt and, God willing, I hope to compose and post it soon. But in the meantime, check out this video of Matt Chandler (with a little help from John Piper) surveying the problem(s) briefly and brilliantly.

He talks about the girl who wanted to be baptized because her mom was sick. This reminds me of the local guy who blogged about his (I think it was) seventh baptism; this latest one was “for hope.” (I counseled a guy out of a baptism last year because his reasoning sort of revolved around having been listening to a lot of worship music lately.)

Chandler, who pastors in Dallas, also talks about Bible Belt religion being inoculated against Jesus. This reminds me of something Ed Stetzer, who hails from the Northeast, once told me, which is that preaching the gospel in the church down here is like trying to give somebody something they’ve already been inoculated against with a synthetic version.

But the gospel is for the older brother, as well. It is the cure for all, the power of salvation for all who believe.

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Jesus’ Missional Prayer for the Church

A long time ago on a website far, far away, I wrote a piece on What a Missional Church Does in which I boiled down good missional distinctives to:

1. Treasuring the gospel2. Living the kingdom3. Embodying reconciliation

These are, I think, the main directives of the Church. We are to consider the announcement of the good news of Christ’s finished work for the salvation of the world as “of first importance,” letting it stir us to awe and gratitude and worshipful discipleship. It is the A-Z of our lives. Secondly, in our worshipful discipleship we live out in community the reality of God’s kingdom being “at hand,” with all that entails (the Sermon on the Mount is a great blueprint of kingdom life). And thirdly, we are missionaries — ambassadors, “sent ones” — carrying this gospel and living this kingdom for the benefit of a lost world and the lost people in it.

The way these things are carried out may vary in cultures and contexts, but these are, I think, non-negotiables for missional Christianity. I see these three marks of the missional church in Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17. Jesus prays:

“But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take …

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Giving Away Godology

I’ve got 3 copies of Christian George’s new book Godology to give away. Just contribute a comment to the “fun theology” storytelling contest at The Thinklings.

Top story will also get a copy of my book Your Jesus is Too Safe.

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Pray for Honduras

Pray over what all is going on in Honduras right now.

They are particularly pressing on my heart right now because my dad is scheduled to lead a mission trip there in a few weeks (as he does every year).

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Lucky 13

Thirteen years ago today I married the love of my life. What a blessing and a medium of God’s grace Becky has been to me.

I can’t imagine doing life with anyone else. Becky is so great, so incredible, so beautiful, she’s in a class of her own. She always has been, still is, and always will be all that I could ever want or need. Every day I am only awed by her more.

Happy thirteenth wedding (and 16th dating) anniversary, baby!

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"Your Jesus is Too Safe" Giveaways are Here!

Books are here and man, I’m itching to give some away.

I will be doing random drawings from the Facebook fan page list and my Twitter followers beginning tomorrow, but I will also try to think of some creative giveaway ideas for blog readers who neither Facebook nor Twitter.

Here’s some fine print:

1. I’ll use this site to select random Twitter followers.2. I’ll use a random number generator online to select Facebook fans.3. If you’re a blood relative of mine, you can’t win.4. If you’re someone I’ve already given a book to or am going to give a book to, you can’t win.5. If you’re not a real person — this is applicable for Twitter followers — you can’t win. Persons who use their business name as their Twitter user ID are fine; I just have to be able to tell there’s a person attached to the account. So “Ford Ranger” cannot win. But John Smith who Twitters as “Coffee Shop Dude” or what-not can.6. If any of the drawings results in a winner who is not eligible as stated above, I’ll just re-run the drawing until I get a valid winner.7. If you’re picked, I’ll DM, Facebook message, or email you. Respond in a timely fashion with your preferred shipping address, and the book is yours.

Hope you get a free book!

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Supported from Utter Despair

Working on a project for a client today which involved spending some time in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The 18th Chapter really ministered to me. This part especially stirs my heart and shakes me up like nothing but the gospel can:

True believers may have the assurance of their salvation shaken, diminished, or temporarily lost in various ways: as by negligence in preserving it, by falling into some special sin which wounds the conscience and grieves the Spirit, by some sudden or violent temptation, or by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and allowing even those who reverence him to walk in darkness and have no light. Yet, true believers are never completely deprived of that seed of God and life of faith, that love for Christ and fellow believers, that sincerity of heart and conscience concerning duty, out of which—by the operation of the Spirit—this assurance may in due time be revived; and by which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. — Hebrews 7:24-25

Soli Deo Gloria!

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A Good Reminder

The video’s a little amateurish (it’s by a fan) but I love this song.

Of course it took some Calvinists (Lecrae and Shai Linne) to finally make some good Christian rap.

Kidding, kidding

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God Delights in Your Cruddy Prayers

As a writer and a prideful person, I am always trying to impress people with words. It is a relief, though, that I cannot impress God and that he approves of me in Christ anyway.

“The gospel, God’s free gift of grace in Jesus, only works when we realize we don’t have it all together. The same is true for prayer. The very thing we are allergic to—our helplessness—is what makes prayer work. It works because we are helpless. We can’t do life on our own.

Prayer mirrors the gospel. In the gospel, the Father takes us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of salvation. In prayer, the Father receives us as we are because of Jesus and gives us his gift of help. We look at the inadequacy of our praying and give up, thinking something is wrong with us. God looks as the adequacy of his Son and delights in our sloppy, meandering prayers.”

—Paul Miller, A Praying Life

HT: Of First Importance

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On Jesuslessness

There is a pastor whose Twitter feed I occasionally read, but I shouldn’t, because it absolutely drives me nuts. A large portion of my reaction is tied to my own issues, I’m sure, but I see in his broadcasts an almost pathological intention not to mention Jesus. And as I thirst for Jesus, I notice this withholding lots and lots of places in the Bible Belt. I have been and always will be doggedly suspicious of pastors who rarely (or never) mention Jesus.

John Piper says, “What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ.”

We ministers of the gospel — and Christians at large — can fumble this commission in three main ways:

1. We speak in vague spiritual generalities. Love. Hope. Peace. Joy. Harmony. Blessings. All disembodied from the specific atoning work of the incarnate Jesus and exalted Lord. It all sounds nice. It’s all very inspirational. And it’s rubbish. He himself is our peace. He himself is love. He himself is life. He does not make life better. He is life. Any pastor who talks about the virtues of faith, hope, and love, with Jesus as some implied tangential source, is not feeding his flock well.

2. We speak Christ as moral exemplar. We tell people to be nice because Jesus was nice. We tell them to be sweet because Jesus was sweet, good because Jesus was good, hard-working because Jesus was hard-working, loving because Jesus was loving. This is …

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