Monthly Archives: June 2009

 

Jun

30

2009

Jared C. Wilson|3:29 pm CT

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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Jun

30

2009

Jared C. Wilson|1:30 pm CT

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 gospel
2. Living the kingdom
3. 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 them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

(vv.13-21)

Where are the three marks?

1. Treasuring the gospel

Jesus begins by praying for his followers’ joy — actually, the joy of himself transferred into his followers, fulfilling their longing for lasting joy. Jesus connects this to the word of God given to them — which is joyous in one important sense because Jesus the Messiah arrived after 500 years of prophetic silence and joyous in another because, as David says in the very first Psalm, the authoritative word of God is a delight to worshipers. And Jesus himself IS the authoritative Word of God.

Jesus also prays that the Church would be sanctified by this word, the word of truth. Cleansed by the proclamation of God based on Christ’s self-consecration and atoning work — Christ being the Word himself (John 1:1) and the Truth himself (John 14:6) — we are to be joyful worshipers of he who is the Truth who rejoice in the word and living reality of the gospel.

2. Living the kingdom.

Jesus refers to kingdom living when he prays about his followers being hated by the world because they are not of the world (just as he is not) and when he prays that we will be protected from the devil. He also prays specifically that we won’t be taken out of the world (at least, not yet), but that we would be sanctified while within the world.

This tells us two things, albeit implicitly: The Church is to live right in the midst of the world while not looking exactly like the world, and the Church’s mission and consecration to God are (necessarily?) characterized by the evil one’s attacks and the world’s hatred. In other words, living as if Jesus is King and his kingdom is real and present will provoke the evil one’s schemes and the world’s persecutions. But this is direct Sermon on the Mount-type stuff.

3. Embodying reconciliation.

Jesus prays a beautiful, stunning prayer: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Jesus isn’t just praying for himself and the Church, he is praying for the “future church,” for the world of prodigals waiting for the Church on mission to bring the good news to them, to be “ministers of reconciliation” (as Paul says) in both word and deed. Jesus speaks to the heart of the gospel here: reconciliation. Because broken relationship is the worst of the fallout of the Fall, because being restored eikons means being restored into reflection of the perfect unity of community in the Trinity (“Just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you…”), Jesus prays for the Great Commissioning of the Church to rep the gospel near and far in the hopes of reconciling people to God and thereby creating the reconciling people of the Church.

All for what reason? “So that the world may believe that [God] has sent [Jesus].”
John 17:1-5 sets that up more explicitly.
The good of the world is the glory of God and Jesus’ prayer for the Church, present and future, is that we would undertake all aspects of our mission for that purpose.

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Jun

29

2009

Jared C. Wilson|5:17 pm CT

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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Jun

29

2009

Jared C. Wilson|3:49 pm CT

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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Jun

29

2009

Jared C. Wilson|1:23 pm CT

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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Jun

27

2009

Jared C. Wilson|2:15 am CT

"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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Jun

26

2009

Jared C. Wilson|6:15 pm CT

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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Jun

26

2009

Jared C. Wilson|2:37 am CT

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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Jun

25

2009

Jared C. Wilson|8:25 pm CT

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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Jun

25

2009

Jared C. Wilson|7:49 pm CT

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 all well and good, but you could substitute “Mother Theresa” or even “Oprah” for “Jesus” and essentially have the same message.

3. We avoid the real problem — sin — and therefore either ignore the real solution — the cross — or confuse its meaning. In many churches, not only is sin never mentioned — Joel Osteen, for instance, flat out says he doesn’t like to talk about it basically because it hurts people’s feelings — the cross is rarely mentioned. And when the cross is mentioned, because we don’t want to talk about sin, it becomes instead the great affirmation of our special-ness, rather than the great punishment for our unholiness. The cross becomes not the intersection of God’s justice and mercy but the symbol of God’s positive feelings about our undeniable lovability.

In all of these instances, and others, people are inspired and enthused, but they are moved about God’s recognition of their own awesomeness, not about the glories of Christ. The capacity is enlarged with our growing self-esteem.

Even angels long to gaze into the life-giving riches of the gospel of grace. We prefer to drink deeply from the well into which we’re gazing — our navels.

Pastors, inspiration sells. But only Jesus transforms.

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