Tuesday, August 13, 2013
In Stephen Miller's new book, "Worship Leaders, We are Not Rock Stars" He shares an excerpt from Alan Hirsch and Michael Frost, " Worship as the Bible characterizes it cannot be limited to singing praise and worship songs to God. Although it includes this, it is far more all encompassing than that.Worship is nothing less than offering our whole lives back to God through Jesus. It is taking all the elements that make up human life, family, friendships, money, work, nation, etc. and presenting them back to the One who gives them their ultimate meaning in the first place."
That hits the nail right on the head. We aren't called to just sit in our comfortable seats, week in and week out, sometimes participating in corporate worship with our hands in our pockets, and our minds half engaged, the other half maybe on what's for lunch... I know this because, I've done that very thing.
Miller's book addresses some of these things in the sense that we have a heart problem, not an attention deficit problem. Stephen addresses this issue in a very unique way, giving nine titles as to what we are as worshipers. The chapter that stood out to me was "We Are Theologians" How can one adore and love someone if they have no idea who the One is that we're to worship? Miller gives a great example of his childhood memory of learning the A B C's song and how the simplicity of that and the simplicity of childhood songs that we sang in Church stuck with him. Songs like "Jesus loves me this I know " Jesus loves the little children." and actually believing the truth that was encapsulated in these simple verses.
Miller writes that, "even as a child songs were constantly shaping my theology. They were shaping my love for Jesus, teaching me who He is and what He has done. They made me a worshiper."
It's sad that as we grow into adulthood, we lose so much of the simplicity that we grew up with. Especially, as it relates to our faith in Jesus, for who He is and what He has done for us.
Overall, Stephen Miller's book is a great read. At 128 pages, one could sit down in an afternoon and read it. Don't let the short length fool you, this is a book that, as lead worshipers in our churches, it will benefit you greatly. And it's one that you can pick up and re-read, or
And remember it's not about us, it's about Him. What a freeing thought, we aren't playing for the praise of men but for the very One who matters most, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Pick up a copy of Stephen Miller's work and prepare to be edified.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
"Prayer is more than a duty to be fulfilled; it is a gift to be enjoyed. There is a world of difference between 'having your quiet time' as a spiritual discipline and drawing near to God to possess what He promises you in Christ.
Monday, May 28, 2012
"The Son was bruised because God-dishonoring sin could not be ignored. And why couldn't it be ignored? Why couldn't God just let bygones be bygones? Because God loves the honor of His name. He will not act as though sin, which belittles His glory, didn't matter. It cannot simply be swept under the rug of the universe, as though nothing awesome were at stake. The judge of all the earth will do right (Genesis 18:25). He will judge the world in righteousness (Psalm 9:8).
So God the Father makes an agreement with His Son that He will demonstrate to all the world the infinite worth of the Father's glory. How? By taking the punishment and suffering that our sin deserved." - Pg. 145
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Also, the big thing at T4G is the books! lots and lots of books! I toted 33 titles home with me for free! They all are great resources all focusing on one thing, the gospel! One of the books that I was hopeful would be in the stack was The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler, and I was so excited to see that it was! It's a great and important book. One that I think every Christian would benefit greatly from having in their library.
Here are just a few of the nuggets from this gem.
"When we look at the gospel from the air, through the grand narrative of the Scriptures, we see that the gospel is not just about God's forgiving us of sins and giving us eternal life, but also about what we are being forgiven for and what eternal life is like. We cannot, as some say, deny that God's plan to restore all things is the gospel (Matt goes on in chapter 10 to explain this a little further), because the Scriptures show us that Christ's atoning work is the good news for fallen creation. Through the good news of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection, we are reconciled to God in view of our inheritance of the "all things" God is also reconciling (Romans 8:32). In other words, viewing the gospel from the air shows us it's overarching narrative and reveals that it isn't just of first importance (see 1 Corinthians 15:3) but of all importance. It is imperative that our gospel take the shape of the Scripture's epic vision of God's redemptive plan. It is imperative that we embrace a gospel that is scaled to the glory of God." - pg. 172
"Now watch the three weapons of grace collide. In the middle of all that guilt and shame, I began to be reminded by the Scriptures that the old Matt Chandler is dead. the Matt Chandler who did those things (earlier Matt tells of things that he is not proud of in his past, not descriptive at all. Just in thinking about his past sins.) the Matt Chandler who sinned in those ways, was nailed to that cross with Jesus Christ, and all of his sins-past, present and future were paid in full on the cross of Jesus Christ. I have been sanctified "once and for all" (Hebrews 10:10).
Matt goes on to talk about the specifics of this good news, "And I no longer need to feel shame for those things, because those things have been completely atoned for.
When we fight sin, we don't do so with our own unction. We fight sin with the weapons that grace gives us: the blood of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, and the promise of the new covenant, that Christ has paid for our shortcomings in obedience to the law by his perfect life imputed to us."
What encouraging words! Did you catch that our fight with the sin that dogs us minute by minute, day by day is not done "with our own unction"? That is indeed good news! We are not alone in our battle with sin. Christ's strength is made perfect in our weakness.
I would highly recommend adding The Explicit Gospel to your library, it's a great and practical reminder of just what the gospel truly is and that is an explicit declaration of the good news of Christ life and love toward us in spite of our deliberate and willful turning away from him. As the back cover states, "You know you know it...But then again, maybe you don't." We never move on from the gospel, only further on and further in.
Thursday, January 5, 2012
I love Spurgeon, and one of my all time favorite devotionals is the wonderful Morning and Evening. Crossway has a great set with a forward from Alistair Begg, another favorite. Today's devotional actually coincided with what I was praying about today, that I would have a better awareness of Christ's presence and that His light would shine. So without further adieu, here is Mr. Spurgeon.....
Sunday, November 6, 2011
This is from Tullian Tchvidjian's blog...it was so good, had to re-post here! May this truth soak down deep into our souls and may we realize just how amazing the gospel truly is!
Last week my I was thrilled to see that my friend Justin Taylor highlighted on his blog Bo Giertz’s fictional work The Hammer of God. A relatively unknown book in Evangelical circles, Justin noted that Leland Ryken–longtime literature professor at Wheaton College–referred to Giertz’ book as “one of the best literary finds I have ever made.” I couldn’t agree more!
After sitting on my shelf uncracked for the better part of a year, I finally decided this past summer to read The Hammer of God(first published in 1941). I first heard about it from my friends Elyse Fitzpatrick and Mike Horton. I couldn’t put it down. It was simply breathtaking. Giertz was a master storyteller and theologian. Both of these gifts shine brightly on every page of this book. It tells three stories (novella’s) of three different pastors who learn in three different ways the nature and necessity of relying on God’s grace. It is law/gospel theology in captivating narrative form. You have to read it.
To whet your appetite, I want to share one part that I found especially illuminating for preachers. I need to first give some context, though.
Set in Sweden in the early 1800-s, Henrik is a young, remarkably gifted and fiery preacher who very much looks up to Justus Johan Linder, a preacher ten years his senior. Henrik is having a crisis of faith. Bothered by the behavioral worldliness all around him, he has become widely known for his passionate pleas and exhortations for people to stop sinning. He’s meticulous in his examination of sinful behavior both in and out of the pulpit. And it is bearing fruit. The church is packed every Sunday and licentious behavior is declining in the village. But, much to his surprise, “new sins” are popping up everywhere. He notices that while drinking and debauchery may be at an all time low, a self-righteous and legalistic hardness of heart has emerged in their place. While on the one hand Henrik is encouraged to see external worldliness dissipating, he’s remarkably discouraged to see a cold, loveless culture developing. Not only that, but now he’s beginning to realize the depth of his own sin. He feels like a hypocrite for preaching so strongly against the fruit of sin (behavior) while ignoring the deeper problem of sin’s root (unbelief). In despair over his own inability to be as good as he tells other people to be, he breaks down and confesses to Linder that he’s not even sure he’s saved. Linder’s response is pure gold:
Henrik, we must start again from the beginning. We have thundered like the storm [speaking of the way he and Henrik have preached God's Law], we have bombarded with the heaviest mortars of God’s Law in an attempt to break down the walls of sin. And that was surely right. I still load my gun with the best powder when I aim at unrepentance. But we had almost forgotten to let the sunshine of the gospel shine through the clouds. Our method has been to destroy all carnal security by our volley’s, but we have left it to the soul’s to build something new with their own resolutions and their own honest attempts at amending their lives. In that way, Henrik, it is never finished. We have not become finished ourselves. Now I have instead begun to preach about that which is finished, about that which is built on Calvary and which is a safe fortress to come to when the thunder rolls over our sinful heads. And now I always apportion the Word of God in three directions, not only to the self-satisfied [the bad people] as I did formerly, but also to the awakened [the "good" people] and to the anxious, the heavy laden and to the poor in spirit. And I find strength each day for my own poor heart at the fount of redemption.
Henrik is captivated by the “new” way in which Linder is preaching and he asks about the results. “Do you note any difference?”
In the first place, I myself see light where formerly I saw only darkness. There is light in my heart and light over the congregation. Before, I was in despair over my people, at their impenitence. I see now that this was because I kept thinking that everything depended on what we should do, for when I saw so little of true repentance and victory over sin, helplessness crept into my heart. I counted and summed up all that they did [to clean up their act], and not the smallest percentage of debt was paid. But now I see that which is done, and I see that the whole debt is paid. Now therefore I go about my duties as might a prison warden who carries in his pocket a letter of pardon for all his criminals. Do you wonder why I am so happy? Now I see everything in the sun’s light. If God has done so much already, surely there is hope for what remains.
The way Linder describes the transformation that took place in his preaching is almost identical to the transformation that took place in mine (and Chuck’s-click here). I have a long way to go (bad habits die slowly), but a number of years ago a Copernican revolution of sorts took place in my own heart regarding the need to preach the law then the gospelwithout going back to the law as the way to keep God’s favor.
Preachers these days are expected to major in “Christian moral renovation.” They are expected to provide a practical “to-do” list, rather than announce, “It is finished.” They are expected to do something other than–more than–lift up before their congregations eyes Christ’s finished work, preaching a full absolution solely on the basis of the complete righteousness of Another. To be sure, preachers need to “load their guns with the best powder when aiming at unrepentance”, but far too often a preacher’s final word to Christians is law and not Gospel. To finish a sermon asking “What would Jesus do?” instead of announcing “This is what Jesus has done!” is to betray the final word God speaks over Christians.
“Life is a web of trials and temptations”, says Robert Capon, “but only one of them can ever be fatal–the temptation to think it is by further, better, and more aggressive living that we can have life.” Given this sobering statement, it would seem that many preachers unwittingly lead their congregations “into temptation” by implying (not explicitly stating, of course) that you can live your way to life. The fact is, however, that you can only “die [your] way there, lose [your] way there…For Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to reward the rewardable, improve the improvable, or correct the correctable; he came simply to be the resurrection and the life of those who will take their stand on a death he can use instead of on a life he cannot.” After our preaching of the law rightly pushes people under water, we all too often lead them to think that they must “save” themselves by giving them swimming lessons: “Paddle harder, kick faster.”
I want the last word I speak over Christians when I preach to be the last word God speaks over Christians–”Paid in full.” The Gospel always has the last word over a believer. Always. When it’s all said and done there are two types of sermons: Jesus + Nothing = Everything or Jesus + Something = Everything.
May God raise up a generation of bold preachers who storm the gates of works-righteousness in all its forms (both religious and secular) with nothing more and nothing less than:
In my place condemned he stood, and sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
This is taken from the Covenant Life website, great excerpt from Piper on Christ's righteousness that He gives us for our sin.
From “God Justified the Ungodly,” a sermon by John Piper:
2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of the most breathtaking passages about this great
giftof imputed righteousness. “For our sake he [God] made him [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Christ knew no sin. He was a perfect man. He never sinned. He lived perfectly for the glory of God all his life and in his death. He was righteous. We, on the other hand have all sinned. We have belittled the glory of God. We are unrighteous.
But God, who chose us in Christ Jesus before the
foundationof the world, ordainedthat there would be a magnificent exchange: He would make Christ to be sin—not a sinner, but sin—our sin, our guilt, our punishment, our alienation from God, our unrighteousness. And he would take the righteousness of God, that Christ had so awesomely vindicated, and make us bear it and wear it and own it the way Christ did our sin.
The point here is not that Christ becomes morally a sinner and we become morally righteous. The point is that Christ bears an alien sin and suffers for it, and we bear an alien righteousness and live by it.