Tag Archives: Gospel

Okay, at the beginning of yesterday's sermon, the pastor showed a PowerPoint slide of a yogurt foil label.

I took that visual in a different direction than I think the pastor intended.

Stirrers, skimmers, diggers...We have all of these types in the Christian body.


Those who stir, those who skim, and those who dig.  The beauty is that each of us shows all of these tendencies at some point or another.

When you hear "stir" - what do you think of?  Is it the negative "stir up bottom muck?"

Or do you think positive?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)

As believers, do we stir up one another to look more like Christ?  How does this work?  For me, getting into the fringes of something, then finding another person, taking that "something" and running with it...with that other person, pulling more and more people into this "something."

Or simply encouraging another into a deeper walk.



I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, (1 Peter 1:13)

what was Peter "stirring?"  The list begins... faith, virtue, knowledge.

I see (rightly or wrongly) a lot of anti-intellectualism in a lot of people.  "Knowledge" is third on Peter's list and knowledge is what leads to self-control,  steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love.

They're in this order for a reason, and each acts a foundation for the next.

How do we stir our spiritual siblings to greater faith, virtue, knowledge?



Merriam-Websters has one definition:

to look over or read (something) quickly especially to find the main ideas

Yeah, okay.  That works.   Why would a Christian "skim?"

We may skim a chapter of Scripture, then settle on the "main idea" and go for a deeper study of that idea that the Holy Spirit is laying on our heart and mind.

We may skim the church bulletin and rest our eyes on something that intrigues us.

We may skim community groups until we find one that we really click with.

Somebody may ask a question and we skim material looking for information.

These can show good fruit.  I know a little bit about a lot of different things.  Enough so that if somebody asks me a question, I can point them to good resources.  A lot of these things I have not dug into deeply.

I pass over a lot of ministry opportunities that are not in my range of interest...

Waiting to find the right place is good.

but...you if you stay in that "skim" place, or if ALL of your places are skim place, that shows a shallowness that does not show good fruit.

You have to


I can skim Philippians, then land on "I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,"

What does the Bible say about persecution?  Start digging...

I can skim the church bulletin, then land on one opportunity that screams at me...start digging.

But we don't exist in a vacuum.  Help others dig!

So, in some things, I'm a skimmer, others places a digger.  In still other places, I can stir up others to do their own skimming and digging.

And...that's where I took that PowerPoint slide...

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Romans 12:1 ESV

This verse connects the body and spirit.  Presenting the physical is the spiritual act.  In mistreating my body, I am abusing worship.

Thinking this way changes the way I think about eating.  Is what I'm putting in my mouth right now, "right worship?"

That's a big responsibility - it puts eating wrongly in the category of "sin," by worshiping wrongly with my body.

The daily reading for yesterday in "Everyday Prayers" was about serving God, not man.  The author applied it to service, I applied it to my eating.  And it hit me in a good (effective) place.

Oh, the hope this gives me— the invigorating, liberating, consecrating hope this generates as I begin my day. It’s why this admonition from Paul feels more like a kiss than a kick today. I want to work more heartily at all things because of your finished work on the cross, your present work in the world, and your future work in the new heaven and new earth. Even in eternity you will shepherd us and lead us to springs of living water (Rev. 7: 17). No one will ever outserve you, Jesus.

Therefore, here’s my cry: continue to free me from doing anything for the approval of people, out of the fear of people, or to gain power over people. I work for you, Lord Jesus, not for mere men.

A frustration at work can equal "stress eating" - am I eating for the Lord, or am I eating for that co-worker?

I'm working toward a goal for my wedding.  Am I eating for God?  or for that wedding dress?  Oh...the wedding dress is a good goal!  And it's not as if we're not to have goals for this world.  But eating for the dress, to the exclusion of eating for God...is putting worship in the wrong place.I can "tag" eating as both worship, and dress.  Both apply, both work, both are good.  but in the "word cloud" in my brain, with word is largest?
And I will fail at this!  Over and over, I will fail.  But along with this failure is hope, because even the failure reminds me of the gospel. If I work/eat for God, it's because of Christ's work on the cross.

How I praise you, Jesus, that the gospel is the end of any sense of a wage-earning relationship with God. I work for you because you first worked for me. (What a humbling, staggering, and astonishing truth!) I serve you because you ever live to serve me, as my advocate and intercessor. Indeed, I love you because you first loved me and gave yourself as a propitiation for my sins. You are always first and last— the Alpha and the Omega. I’ll receive an inheritance only because of your work, not mine. And should I receive any rewards or crowns, they will be thrown at your feet, giving credit where credit is due. I pray in your quintessentially glorious name. Amen. ~~Everyday Prayers, March 20

From a "Christ the Center" podcast - a rough quote:

Our expectations of a pastor stems from our ecclesiology - our thoughts about what a church is.

If our understanding about church is that our priority is social justice, our pastor will be our chief social worker.

If we believe our goal is to affect political change, our pastor will be our community organizer.

If "church" is about our friends and family - a neighborhood clique, there will be little outreach.

If we know that our church exists to proclaim the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross - and to equip the saints to do that - we will expect that the Gospel be preached from the pulpit each and every week.

One of my professors is deaf; she became deaf at such a young age that she doesn't remember every being able to hear.  For her, being deaf is not a handicap, since she doesn't know what "hearing" is.  For her, not having a sense of hearing is "normal".

I have the feeling that it's that way in many churches today.  If the gospel (first importance) is not preached from the pulpit often enough so that it's missed when it isn't there...the flock doesn't miss it...can't have the realization that they are hungry for it, since they don't know what they're hungry for!

1 Comment

Listening the Tim Keller on "The Reason for God"

Each Christmas I remember very clearly at a former church, sitting in the balcony during a quiet moment alone.  There was a stained glass cross in the front and a giant wreath for Christmas.

Behind the birth of Christ...beyond that, the cross.

It was the reason He came to earth...God, in Christ sacrificed Himself to pay for our sin.

Michael Card - Love crucified arose Lyrics

Long ago He blessed the earth
Born older than the years
And in the stall a cross He saw
Through the first of many tears
A life of homeless wandering
Cast out in sorrow's way
The Shepherd seeking for the lost
His life, the price He paid

Love crucified, arose
The Risen One in splendor
Jehovah soul Defender
Has won the victory
Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Throughout Your life You felt the weight
Of what You'd come to give
To drink for us that crimson cup
So we might really live
At last the time to love and die
The dark appointed day
That one forsaken moment
When Your Father turned His face away

Love crucified, arose
The One who lived the died for me
Was Satan's nail-pierced casualty
Now He's breathing once again

Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again

Love crucified, arose
The Risen One in splendor
Jehovah soul defender
Has won the victory

Love crucified, arose
And the grave became a place of hope
for the heart that sin and sorrow broke
is beating once again

Love crucified, arose
The One who lived and died for me
Was Satan's nail-pierced casualty
Now He's breathing once again

"It's the supreme art of the devil that he can make the law out of the gospel. If I can hold on to the distinction between law and gospel, I can say to him any and every time that he should kiss my backside. . . . Once I debate about what I have done and left undone, I am finished. But if I reply on the basis of the gospel, 'The forgiveness of sins covers it all,' I have won."

-- Martin Luther

The sermon...(color me frustrated) on the Sabbath.  I heard on "Issues Etc." that one way to critique a sermon is to count the number of times that "Jesus" is mentioned.  This sermon:  ZERO.

The point the pastor made was that God used the Sabbath to show us that we (humans) need a rhythm and rest and we should follow God's example because of our health and well-being.

Yes...I agree...BUT...

It should have the OPENING...not the conclusion.

We follow the Sabbath commandment, not  only because of our health and well-being (and because it's a commandment)  -

we should also keep it at the forefront of our minds, our souls, our hearts...that God have us the Sabbath Law as a foreshadowing of things to come.

(That matter of first importance)

Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

Because of Christ's finished work on the cross, we no longer depend on the works of the Law for our salvation.

Christ IS our Sabbath rest.

Not only that, but those who are found in Christ should reflect on the Sabbath and use that time to reflect on our future...the eternal Sabbath.


"A God without wrath brought man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." (H. Richard Niebuhr)

I had the opportunity to visit the "Cathedral of Faith" Sunday.  They are a Pentecostal, Word-of-Faith church.  This week they started a new series, "Treasure Hunters".

Key words:  "self esteem",  "abundant living", "finding your dream".

this week's lesson - what is stopping you from reclaiming your dreams is fear.  The speaker said several times that the "greatest - ahem...the commandment given most often in the Bible is 'not to fear'.

If only we would stop being afraid, there is nothing that we could not accomplish.  Let go of our fear, grab onto the power within us and remember our dreams!

"Star Wars" theology.

No mention of the cross, of Christ's finished work, of redemption, repentance.

Only "get out of the boat", "expect to get wet", "Jesus won't let you drown".

"We are saved, after all that we can do."

It's all about what is within us, helped by the "genie in the bottle", Jesus.  The "stuff" that we have forgotten how to access can be ours once again.

"A God without wrath brought man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." (H. Richard Niebuhr)

For those for whom the terms of that sentence are well nigh incomprehensible, English biblical scholar T. W. Manson's spoof may strike closer to home: "Jesus goes up to Jerusalem to give a course of lecture-sermons on the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and then becomes the victim of an unfortunate miscarriage of justice." Substitute one or another therapeutic banality ("I'm O.K., you're O.K."? "Follow your bliss"?) for the subject of the talks, and Manson's jibe still tells.