Made Right with God

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All of us want to be happy. We all want to know that we meet the standard that is set. What happens though, when you feel like you don’t measure up?

If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that the grace of God saves you. There is nothing you can do to earn it. Yet, once you begin following Jesus, so much of your time is spent earning more of God’s love and favor.

The truth is, you can’t do anything to get any more of God’s love and approval and grace than He has already given you. 

But what if, you want to be made right with God? What happens when you discover you are broken and you can’t fix yourself? How are you made right with God? How do you stay right with God? Do you do something? Work harder? Be better? Clean yourself up?

Sunday, as we continue our series Changewe’re going to look at Galatians 2:15 – 21 and what is a paradox of Christianity: you are forgiven by grace, you are sustained in your relationship with God through His grace and you do not nothing to attain this grace. It is freely given to you.

About this passage, Martin Luther said this:

This is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consisteth. Most necessary it is, therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it unto others, and beat it into their heads continually.’ In other places he refers to it as the ‘chief’, the ‘chiefest’ and ‘the most principal and special article of Christian doctrine’, for it is this doctrine ‘which maketh true Christians indeed’. He adds: ‘if the article of justification be once lost, then is all true Christian doctrine lost.’

This is by far, one of the most crucial passages in the entire book of Galatians, and a truth, if we miss, we will miss out on the life God calls us to live. 

If you or someone you know has a hard time believing that God can forgive them, that they don’t have to earn God’s love or that will continue to forgive them and work in their life, this is a great week to bring them to Revolution.

Remember, we meet at 10am on Sunday mornings at 8300 E Speedway Blvd.

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Martin Luther on Predestination

I came across this on J.D. Greear’s blog on predestination:

I was reading through Martin Luther’s Commentary on Romans the other day when I re-encountered a jewel of a passage in his introduction about predestination. Regardless of your view on Calvinism, I think this a very important insight.

“Follow the order of this Epistle. Worry first about Christ and the Gospel, that you may recognize your sin and His grace; then fight your sin, as the first eight chapters here have taught; then, when you have reached the eighth chapter, and are under the cross and suffering, that will teach you the right doctrine of predestination, in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh chapters, and how comforting it is. For the absence of suffering and the cross and the danger of death, one cannot deal with predestination without harm and without secret wrath against God. The old Adam must die before he can endure this subject and drink the strong wine of it. Therefore beware not to drink wine while you are still a suckling. There is a limit, a time, an age for every doctrine.”

Links of the Week

  1. Never make fun of your spouse. My wife Katie has been doing a series of blog posts on our relationship rules and this one is broken by so many spouses. This one change would make a world of difference in your marriage.
  2. All you need to know about church planting in 3 minutes.
  3. Ron Edmondson on Addressing a porn generation.
  4. 4 lessons from Martin Luther on Marriage. This is a great article.
  5. Dave Bruskas on What I’ve learned from raising daughters. Dave is a pastor in New Mexico and has raised 4 daughters so I’d take that as being an expert on the topic.
  6. Gabe Lyons on A third way for the ‘Christian nation’ debate.
  7. How to leave a church well. Sometimes people leave for good reasons and leave well, but often they leave for poor reasons and leave the church by throwing rocks. Love the example from the book of Acts, maybe that is why churches today don’t see the effectives they did in the book of Acts.
  8. Pastors who suffering from relational anorexia. Pastoring is one of the loneliest jobs on the planet, but there are some things you can do to fight it.
  9. Tony Morgan on Signs you have a vision that inspires. These are right on, the clarity at Revolution has inspired people and repelled people. Vision divides and that is okay.
  10. Who needs porn when you have MTV? This is crucial for parents to keep in mind as they raise kids and what they allow on TV. (Note: there is a semi-explicit photo accompanying the article).
  11. 10 easy bible verses for kids to memorize. We have a verse of the week at our house and it has been awesome to see the kids start memorizing scripture.
  12. Loving our Muslim neighbors. This is a great video panel discussion with J.D. Greear and Thabiti Anyabwile.
  13. Christopher Wright on The biggest obstacle for world missions is idolatry. This is a convicting article.
  14. J. Oswald Sanders on Are you ready to be a leader? These are great questions to work through if you want to enter into leadership or have a desire to take on more leadership in your church or business.

The Legacy of Sovereign Joy

This past week, I felt like I needed to read something soul stirring. So I grabbed John Piper’s The Legacy of Sovereign Joy.

So glad I did.

This is the first in a series of books that Piper has written on people in church history. Each book is centered around a specific topic. This one is around joy and grace and what they really mean. He looks at the lives of Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin.

What makes this different from a mere biography is that throughout the book, Piper interjects some commentary on each person. Which is fascinating.

Each life was interesting and challenging in its own way. Easily though, the chapter on Luther should be mandatory reading for any pastor. I was reminded in that chapter and in the chapter on Calvin about the weight of preaching, the amount of work it takes and what is at stake. I think too many pastors stand up in church every weekend, give their opinion on a verse and sit down. Many pastors give more weight and time to college football than they do to their preaching. For Luther, preaching and studying a text was likened to Jacob wrestling an angel. That is the struggle he saw in coming to terms with a text to be able to preach it. I wonder if preaching would improve if we saw it that way as pastors. As Piper points out, “Too many pastors preach as if nothing is at stake.”

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

What was interesting is the struggle, the hardships, death threats, illnesses and tragedies each man went through and yet, seemed to live a life centered on joy. What Piper points out, what many of us miss and what these men discovered is that joy, true joy is rooted in God’s grace. To experience joy, we must understand the depths of grace. Until we understand the depths of grace, we will miss joy because we will be to focused on deeds and performing for God.

Definitely worth a read if you are looking for something soul stirring on the subject of joy and happiness.

Saturday Night Mind Dump…

  • What a night
  • Started off my sermon with a video from last week’s spontaneous baptisms
  • Our next baptism is on May 8th
  • If you are interested in being baptized, email Christe LePeau
  • Tonight was all about faith and what is next for Revolution
  • I am always amazed at how God works when it comes to our sermons
  • We plan our sermons 6 – 12 months in advance (here’s how we do it)
  • Tonight was one of the most ideal passages I could have preached on as we looked ahead for Revolution
  • Many times, we want our faith and journey with God to be safe and predictable
  • By doing this, we actually miss all that God wants for us
  • Because, the first step of faith is always for us to step out
  • Over the last few months, God has blessed Revolution and grown us in incredible ways
  • You can read more about that here
  • If you missed tonight, you can listen to it here
  • So excited about what God has in store for our church
  • Last night, Katie and I went to see The Avett Brothers with Zac and Sarah LaBelle
  • It was awesome
  • If you have the chance to see them, definitely do it
  • Tonight was the first night of sign ups for small groups, for the next week we are having sign ups on the city (our online community) only and then you can sign up everywhere next Saturday
  • If you have not signed up for the city, you can do so here
  • Here is a video we used to advertise small groups
  • I’m teaching our new believers class tomorrow night
  • If you didn’t get to sign up, just show up
  • I’m really excited about this class and helping people in the first steps of their journey as a follower of Jesus
  • I have an elder team meeting this week
  • Love meeting with those guys
  • So many good things happening right now that we get to talk about this week
  • On Mother’s Day, we are doing a Rev Out project to New Beginnings (check here for details)
  • Did you ever have a week where you just listened to the same album over and over?
  • For me this week, it is the new Broken Bells album
  • Katie turns 29 in a week, be sure to say happy birthday to her
  • Been getting a lot out of this book this week
  • The chapter on Luther should be required reading for any pastor
  • Have you checked out our adoption blog yet?
  • Loved having the NFL draft in primetime
  • Felt like my Steelers did pretty well
  • I am so ready for football season to get here
  • The one problem with being a big football fan is that the season is the shortest of all the major sports
  • Hockey lasts all year, why can’t football?
  • I’m starting to work on the next few series after our series on Nehemiah
  • The next two are The Perfect Kid and The Couch
  • This summer is going to be amazing at Revolution
  • Right now, I am so excited about what God is doing at Revolution and how He is moving
  • I love that we are having conversations about how to handle the growth and what we do with all the people God is sending to Revolution

Counterfeit Gods

book coverJust finished Tim Keller’s new book Counterfeit Gods:  The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. I read this in prep for my talk on the Lord’s prayer. I know that it doesn’t have anything to do with the Lord’s prayer, but I believe the Lord’s prayer shows the idols that we have and what we hope things in our life will do and the Lord’s prayer shows the response to those things and that God is the only hope to answer those longings.

According to Keller, “idolatry is the most common sin committed today.” The funny thing is that most everyone would say they don’t have a problem with idolatry. I’ve never met with someone who confessed to having an idol problem. It is so common that we don’t see it.

An idol is “anything that we look to for things that only God can give.” The reality is that idols are often not bad things. Some of them are, but by and large they are good things that we make into ultimate things. Keller said, “Idolatry is always the the reason we ever do anything wrong.”

Idols can be kids, our jobs, dreams, our money, retirement, friendships, sports teams, political parties. The list goes on.

What Keller does is show what the idols of our culture are, what personal idols we have, what physical, spiritual idols we have. He then shows how they become idols, the hope and faith that we put into those things. How good, everyday things become ultimate things that we stake our whole future on and the hopelessness of that.

He ends with what to do with them. For me, this was the only area that I felt was lacking. After spending 150 pages on what idols are and identifying them, he spent less than 30 pages on what to do. I personally would have liked to have seen more in this area, the application side.

Regardless, this is a fantastic book and one worth reading, thinking and praying through and working through what your idols are and how that affects your relationship with God.

The reality of idolatry is that it is the first sin. We do not sin without the sin of idolatry, this is why, according to Martin Luther, the 10 commandments start with, “You should no other gods before me.” We have to break the first commandment to break the other 9.

Not sure what your idols are, here is a list of questions to work through to discover your idols.