Browsing Tag

worship

Christian Life, Life

God in Autumn

September 22, 2016

 

 

 

I’ve started wearing a jacket and gloves when I bike to work each morning, sure evidence that fall is here. As days get shorter we’re entering my favorite time of year. There’s something beautifully crisp and lively about fall, and I was reveling in the beginning hints of my favorite season during my ride this morning.

There’s something holy about reveling in God’s creation. The Psalmist spends nearly 30 verses doing so in Psalm 104, line after line detailing the miraculousness of this earth. From the fact that the waters don’t cover the dry land to the fact that God provides food from the ground for animals and “wine that gladdens human hearts” (v.14) to the mysterious terrors of the oceans and death “when you take away their breath,” (v.29) the Psalmist uses creation as a lens to focus and sharpen his joy so that at the close of the Psalm he can declare “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

Let’s take a cue from the Psalmist as we enter fall. As leaves go from green to a dozen shades of orange, red, and brown and as we don sweaters and scarves, let’s make space for reveling in what God has given us in this earth. That reveling will inevitably lead us to take joy in the Lord.

Rather than constantly rushing from one thing to the next in the next week, set aside some moments to go for a leisurely stroll. Head to a state park. Bundle up and go star gazing. Don’t rush it. Look at the details of this creation and be amazed by it. Think about the fact that the trees you’re seeing live off dirt, air, and sunlight; that you’re on a ball twirling through space at thousands of miles an hour; that your body somehow miraculously takes what you ate for lunch and turns it into energy that enables you to walk, breath, talk, think, and read this. As you revel, watch as your soul declares “Lord my God, you are very great”!
Take the time to get in nature this week, particularly if you are feeling depressed and burdened. There’s a reason why the Psalmist is able to end his Psalm with joy. As Charles Spurgeon declared,

He who forgets the humming of the bees among the heather, the cooing of the wood-pigeons in the forest, the song of birds in the woods, the rippling of rills among the rushes, and the sighing of the wind among the pines, needs not wonder if his heart forgets to sing and his soul grows heavy.

Get out of the house, apartment, cubicle, and car. Go enjoy a tree. A field. The open sky. Let them teach your heart to sing. The Psalmist prays, “May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works” (v.31). Let’s join the Lord in that rejoicing this fall.

 

 

 

Fallout Revisited, Spiritual Growth

Fallout Revisited: Let no Christian soul tremble in fear, God himself is here

September 17, 2013

“Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? …Who can bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

– Romans 8:29-34

What undeserved grace we peoples of God have received! That God himself should choose men and women in whom there was no pleasing thing, no righteousness, and no strength to free themselves from the sin in which they dwelt! And not only this, but He has chosen them and has promised by all His infinite grace through His Son to make them into images in the likeness of Christ. Just as Christ took on the likeness of sinful man, so in the end shall those who have been chosen by God be made into the likeness of Christ. So sure a thing it is that the Apostle Paul was able to write of our final glorification as a thing that has already happened.

It is with that same confidence – the confidence that is so sure of the truth in God’s word that it believes them as if they had already come to pass – that we are to live lives completely given over to God. We are to sacrifice ourselves and our fleshly desires, putting to death by the Spirit every sin, deed, thought, and passion that would lead us away from Christ. Our lives are to be led by His Spirit, not by our own. (Rom. 8:13)

Rise up, oh men and women! Dwell upon the glorious truths held within the eighth chapter of Romans and let them carry you out upon wings of infinite strength. If God is for us, who can be against us? Not government, not death, not starvation, not another human, and not even the wickedness left in our own bodies that so often causes us to falter in our walk; none of it can come against us and condemn us, for God has justified. And know this, oh saint; when God does something He does it completely, above and beyond any chance of retracting the deed. Christ Jesus, who died and now resides at the right hand of God eternally interceding on our behalf, has purchased us for God (Rev. 5:9) and it is a purchase that shall never be revoked.

Gaze upon the wonder of those things, and be not slow to respond. Be reckless in your devotion; cast off all else. Set your mind daily, minute by minute, upon Christ and what He has done. Know that He will not fail you who God has called, justified, is sanctifying, and will soon enough glorify. Let that knowledge free you from all constraints to live a comfortable life, to avoid pain, and to provide for yourself. For is it not true that if He “did not spare his own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)

Spiritual Growth, TF Basics, Threshingfloor

Threshingfloor Basics – Part 3 – Discipleship

August 22, 2013

This is the third post in the Threshingfloor Basics series. Read the rest here:

  1. The Mission
  2. The Disciple
  3. Discipleship
  4. The Four Spaces
  5. Our Passion

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Discipleship is an ongoing process, and we believe it is something that begins long before a person is “saved.” Our goal as individuals and communities is to create environments where young adults, both Christian and non, are drawn increasingly closer to Jesus, to each other, and to serving others. The three sections below make up our frame of reference for our progress in discipleship.

We are greatly indebted to Bob Thune from Coram Deo Church and Mike Breen from 3DM for helping shape the language and theology of these concepts, and we highly recommend you listen to and read their stuff.

Up: connecting with Christ

The greatest command the Christian has is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” (Matt. 22:36-40) Our love for God is grown as we read and hear his Word taught (Rom. 10:17), come before him in prayer, worship him in truth, do life with other disciples, and serve the lost through gospel action and proclamation. Everything begins by connecting “Upward” to God through faith in Christ. Discipleship is the process of moving ever-upward.

Questions to ask:

Personal level: Are people growing in their passion and love for the Lord? Is their biblical knowledge deepening? Are they learning to apply the Gospel to all of life?

Communal level: Are word and prayer regular parts of the community? Do conversations naturally turn to the Gospel (what we talk about is proof of what we love!)? Is the Lord’s presence real when we gather? Do people pray for each other spontanteously?

 

In: connecting with each other

Jesus follows the Great Commandment with the words, “a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:39) As we move upward by growing in love for God love for others overflows naturally. This love for other people begins, first and foremost, with a love for other believers. Shortly before his crucifixion Jesus told his disciples that is was their love for each other that would tell the world they were his followers. (John 13:35) This is why we emphasize forming communities of believers and doing life together rather than simply attending events. The “Inward” movement of the disciple connects them intimately to other believers so that there is a powerful love for each other, just as is described among the first Christians in Acts 2:42-47. Discipleship is the process of moving ever-inward into closer community with other believers.

Questions to ask:

Personal level: are people initiating get-togethers outside of official events? Are people learning that their time is not their own – that Jesus gets to direct it? Do people know the “one-another” commands of scripture?

Community level: are DNA groups forming to dig deeper into life together? Do conversations at the gathering go beyond surface level? Is there a communal love? Does everyone share the burden of life together (making meals, hosting, giving as needed)?

 

Out: connecting with the world

Love for others doesn’t stop with Jesus-followers. We follow the example that Jesus set as he gave his life to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and work as individuals and communities to serve and evangelize the people we are connected to, the cities we are in, and the cultures we are surrounded by. The “Outward” movement of discipleship pushes people to befriend non-believers, pursue justice, serve the needy, and give and go generously toward world missions. Discipleship is the process of moving ever-outward to reach the lost world that Jesus has placed you in.

Questions to ask:

Personal level: are people engaging in intentional relationships with non-believers, or are they in a “Christian bubble”?  Are they giving to world missions? Are they praying for  and discipling specific non-believers?

Communal level: Are there stories of how God is using your community to reach the lost? Are you serving together? Do you give to a cause as a community? Would a non-believer be welcomed and comfortable at your gathering? Do you have people you’re regularly praying for?

Christian Life, Commentary, Culture

Walking in the Name

August 20, 2013

 

 

 

For all the peoples walk

each in the name of its god,

but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God

forever and ever.

– Micah 4:5, ESV

 

Though the prophet Micah spoke the Spirit-inspired words, “all the peoples walk, each in the name of its god” thousands of years ago they still hold true today. Modern men and women may not align themselves with Baal or Molech or Asherah, but the people of the world walk in the name of what they worship. We label ourselves, proclaim our allegiance, invest our finances and time, and align our interests with what we worship. We adopt the language of our gods, wear the apparel with their images, and frequent websites to learn about them.

Some walk in the name of money, worshiping at the altar of the workplace and the market, confident that their financial solidity will satisfy and protect them.

Some walk in the name of sports, wearing the apparel of the team they have aligned themselves with and spending dollars and hours to take part in the festivals and games.

Some walk in the name of romance, flying from one relationship to the next and spending the hours between dreaming of how they will one day find the person who will fulfill their deepest desires.

Some walk in the name of entertainment, becoming movie connoisseurs, reading reviews, and debating the finer points of film-making, filling their evenings with television and theater-going.

The list could go on for pages. “All the peoples walk, each in the name of its god” is as true in our day as it was in Micah’s. The question is, Christian, are you walking in the name of the gods of the nations or are you walking in the name Yahweh, the Lord our God? Whose name do people see on you when they interact with you? Whose name is on your lips when you speak? Is it clear that you walk in a different name than the people who love this world?

Christ caused his people to be born again by water and Spirit. We are new creations. We are a new nation and a new people. Walking in the name of the gods of the world is no longer an option for us. We use money, yes, but we don’t look to it for answers. We watch and play sports, yes, but we don’t give teams our allegiance. We desire romance and companionship from the opposite sex, yes, but our dreams are about the glories of Christ and the proclamation of his kingdom. We see movies, yes, but entertainment does not dominate our time because we have been created to work and redeem the time.

My prayer for you this day, my friends, is that you would “walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever,” forsaking the things of this world and counting them all as loss for the sake of Christ. His name alone is worthy of our worship.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Timothy, Commentary, Leadership, Life, Threshingfloor

1 Timothy PT3 – The King of Ages

May 28, 2013

 

1 Timothy pt 3 – The King of Ages

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17, ESV)

As I lead the Threshingfloor Communities family I certainly feel the way Paul must have felt as he wrote these sentences. God let’s me lead his people?! That’s just ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense. There are people more qualified, more clean, more creative, and more “Christian.” Most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing other than praying like crazy and asking Jesus to make something happen that will glorify him.

When it comes to shepherding communities of believers or discipling individuals too many of God’s people count themselves out because they don’t think that they’re prepared enough to do the job that Jesus has called them to. We feel inadequate and simply step aside. If that’s you (and I hope it is!) then let these truths from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 be a reminder to you that it is in your inadequacy that Jesus will use you the most powerfully.

 

Jesus saves haters

Paul knew the feeling of inadequacy and awe well. He knew he was the least likely person to be preaching the gospel to the nations. He had been “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” who had fought viciously against the very God he now proclaimed. He also knew equally well that God had chosen him for salvation in the midst of his sin. “The grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Out from the wellspring of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice grace had flowed, drowning Saul and baptizing him – christening him – as a new man, the Apostle to the Gentiles. God took a man who had been willfully pursuing sin and saved him.

Know this, my friends; there is nothing that can keep you out of the grasp of Jesus’ amazing grace. The worst of sinners will be perfectly cleansed in the overwhelming flood of his love that was poured out on the Cross and pours out still through his Spirit. Don’t let your sin keep you from living the life he has called you to. “Already you are clean” because of what he has done for you. You are a new creation, recreated in Christ Jesus to glorify his name bymaking disciples.

Jesus makes new

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The second truth from Paul’s words to Timothy is simply another facet of the first. Paul begins the list of his past sins with the phrase “formerly I was”. We must understand this “formerly I was” paradigm if we are to walk as we have been re-created to walk in Christ. Many Christians fail to make the distinction between who they were before Jesus and who they are now in Jesus. Christ came to save sinners, but he does not leave them as sinners. Saul, who had been the foremost of sinners, becomes Paul, judged faithful in ministry and made powerful for glory. Formerly he was a sinner. Now he is a saint in Christ.

We need to make this distinction in our own lives if we are to function properly as followers of our savior. Know who you were formerly and do not hide it. Even more importantly, know who you are now in Christ and stand firm upon it. You are not who you were. You are made knew so that you might be a display of God’s power and grace.

Jesus shows off

Paul knows full well the reason that God has made him that new creation and given him salvation. In verse 17 he says, “I received mercy for this reason, that in me, the foremost of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” That’s a sentence that doesn’t need explaining. We don’t need to study the Greek text to get at the meaning. The reason God gave Paul mercy is so that he could display his glory in and through him.

As it was for the Apostle, so it is for us. We have been given grace not primarily for our own comfort and encouragement, but so that grace would be put on display before a watching world. Your life, Christian, is a picture for your brothers and sisters of Jesus’ “perfect patience.” Your life is the image and witness of Christ’s infinite power. Your poisonous past is used by God to display his power and patience. Your cleansed sins are the mirrors with which you reflect His glory. As Louie Giglio said at Passion this past year, “our witnesses to the world are our wounds that are being healed by Jesus.”

Jesus gets praise

Realizing these three amazing truths; that Jesus saves the worst of sinners, that Jesus makes us new creations, and that Jesus uses us to display himself, leads to worship. By the time he is finished writing these sentences and remembering the grace that had been given to him he can’t contain himself. Praise and exultation flows from his pen, “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Meditate on the truths of what you have been given in Christ and joy will fill you and inevitably overflow in worship. Have you been lost in frustration and felt as if life is draining you? Turn once again to this glorious gospel. Read 1 Timothy 1:12-17 and let Paul’s story remind you of your own. The King of the ages has worked in you and brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light. The immortal, the invisible, the only God has given you strength and judged you faithful for the work before you. He is with you always. Though you stumble you shall not fall. Though the world give way around you he will hold you firm.

Oh, what precious words those are for a boy like me who is small and weak and overwhelmed! Praise the King of ages, for he has done it, and it is marvelous in our sight! To him be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

Culture, Leadership, Theology, Top 10

Top 10 ed.2

September 8, 2012

Passive income is key if you want to have some freetime as a freelancer. Here’s a few good ideas.

Passive income strategies for designers

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I worked at a bike shop for a couple years. It wasn’t nearly as cool as this one.

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Something you’ve always wondered in the back of your mind but didn’t want to ask – How much money do mega-church pastors make?

(Look here for the original study results)

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Not particularly new, but one of those songs that I just can’t get away from. (You definitely want HD and fullscreen for this one.)

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A family from Salem recently opened their house for one of the Threshingfloor Communities to meet at. They’re an awesome family, and one of their projects is working to provide employement and hope for women and children in Kenya. Learn more about The Jua Project

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A lifestyle of worship is like an engine. Engines are made up of multiple pieces, each working according to its own task. Some components are large and provide great bursts of power, whilst others are tiny connectors, allowing the larger pieces to work. Despite the size of the part or its role, there is one purpose: to create power.

– Relevant Magazine, When is worship real

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Twilight bad lip reading – who doesn’t get a good laugh from something ridiculous?

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I’ve listened to all of these except Why Jesus Creates Stories, and they are all excellent, inspiring, and challenging messages. Well worth a few hours of time. – 8 Resurgence talks we enjoy

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Michael Hyatt offers 4 things to keep in mind as a leader – Your power as a leader

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A great article with some ideas on how to push disciples forward in their spiritual walk – Questioning Discipleship – Creating tension that seeks resolution