Monthly Archives: March 2008

The Gospel of Christ’s Church For the World

Ray Ortlund posts an important reminder/corrective:

Hence, though a man of sorrow, [Christ] was even on earth anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows [Psalm 45:7]. . . . Shall we wonder that there was divine gladness in the heart of him who came into the world not by constraint but willingly, not with a burning sense of wrong but with a grateful sense of high privilege . . . ?– A.B. Bruce

The ministry today can be motivated either by a burning sense of wrong or by a grateful sense of high privilege. It is possible to build a big church with the energy of a burning sense of what’s wrong. There are angry Christians who are ready to rally around someone who will validate their anger. But is that the gospel at work?

The apostles did not fuss and wring their hands and moan, “What’s the world coming to?” They gladly announced, “Look what’s come to the world!” And people were set free.

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In Fashion

Stuff Christians Like, #24: Church Names that Sound Like Clothing Stores

Just read this and I think it’s hilarious, because just a few hours ago my cell rang and the caller ID indicated it was an Element-related call. This is what happened:

Me: Element, this is Jared.

Female Caller: Can I speak to your buyer, please?

Me: Buyer?

Caller: Uh huh.

Me: We don’t have a buyer.

Caller: Is this not a clothing store? (Yes, that’s exactly what she said, I promise!)

Me: Nope, we’re a young adult ministry.

Caller: Oh, sorry!

Maybe she was looking for this.

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What the Kingdom Does

Randy* is a tall, intimidating mechanic from up north with a shaved head, grease under his fingernails, and a blunt Michigan accent. He and I are so different it’s funny. Although I bet I’m more athletic, he mocks me for sitting at home all day in a chair and typing on a computer (which, admittedly isn’t far off from the truth), and as his job is working on big machines like bulldozers and cranes and such, I imagine he could kill me with one of the special torches he’s always talking about if he wanted to.One time Randy wore a shiny short-sleeved shirt that looked liked it was made of snake skin. I ridiculed him mercilessly (“Solid Gold Dancers called, they want their shirt back” — that kind of thing), and I didn’t fear for my life. Why?

Jesus.

Randy and I have virtually nothing in common. He’s the kind of guy I’d see in the grocery store and immediately steer clear of.But I’ve seen Randy raise his hands in worship, and Randy has seen me cry (and he didn’t call me a gaywad or anything!).

And these sorts of differences coming together in unity is the great compelling brilliance of the Church of Jesus Christ.

This is what Jesus’ kingdom does. It reconciles. In Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. There is no grease monkey or Mister Mom.

When I hear people balk at Bible study or group meetings because “I have nothing in common with …

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The Kingdom in Public

From N.T. Wright’s great Maundy Thursday sermon:

And the events of Good Friday tells us something we urgently need to know about doing God in public. If it is the true God we are talking about – the God we see and know in Jesus Christ and him crucified – then we should expect that following him, speaking for him, and living out the life of his spirit, will sometimes make the crowds shout ‘Hosanna!’ and sometimes make them shout ‘Crucify!’

We are not in this business to court either popularity or martyrdom. When they come, like Kipling’s triumph and disaster, we should treat them, imposters as they are, just the same. Speaking and living for God in the public world will sometimes dovetail exactly with what the world inarticulately knows it wants and needs; sometimes it will cut straight across what everyone else is saying.

But those who have sat at table with their Lord, and have known him in the strange privacy of the breaking of the bread, will not waver the next day when they need to stand as a sign of contradiction in the market place, in the council chamber, or in the courtroom. This is a lesson, my friends, we are going to have to learn more and more in the days to come. Work hard, you who stand up to be counted as the Lord’s publicly recognised servants, work hard at the private disciplines, so that you will know where to stand and how …

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The World Ruled by a Death-Proof King

The fine edges of N.T. Wright’s stuff on the atonement may be less sharp than others’, but his stuff on the resurrection is better than anybody else’s. Case in point: his doorstop-slash-book The Resurrection of the Son of God.Wright’s continuing call for a more biblical cosmology is not just reforming the way we view heaven, but revolutionizing the way we live our lives in the light of the kingdom that is “at hand.”

Here’s a quote from Wright’s new book Surprised by Hope (HT: Darryl Dash):

The resurrection of Jesus offers itself, to the student of history or science no less than the Christian or theologian, not as an odd event within the world as it is but as the utterly characteristic, prototypical, and foundational event within the world as it has begun to be. It is not an absurd event within the old world but the symbol and starting point of the new world. The claim advanced by Christianity is of that magnitude: Jesus of Nazareth ushers in not simply a new religious possibility, not simply a new ethic or a new way of salvation, but a new creation….

We could cope – the world could cope – with a Jesus who ultimately remains a wonderful idea inside his disciples; minds and heart. The world cannot cope with a Jesus who comes out of the tomb, who inaugurates God’s new creation right in the middle of the old one.

The resurrection, like the cross, is a scandal. But it’s a beautiful one. …

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"He is Not Here"

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you . . .– 1 Peter 1:3-4

Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!

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The Joy Set Before Us

Today is Good Friday. Good Friday. The day of Christ on the cross — we mark this day as good.In a day when alleged proclaimers of the Word define “life abundantly” as material goods and finite pleasures, a battered king nailed to a cross is still a stumbling block. And it is still a mandate.

But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.– 1 Peter 4:13

Rejoice in sufferings?

This is not possible except for those who see being like Christ, who see being in Christ as the greatest good, the highest value, the best pleasure of all pleasures.

Many things can and will make us happy.There is no joy but in Jesus Christ.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.– Hebrews 12:2

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"The Best Leaders Have Learned How to Die"

I think this Friday’s Five for Friday will be podcasted sermons, but here’s one I have to recommend (again) to you now:

Matt Chandler, “Vision of a Church Planter”

It’s from the most recent Resurgence Conference, Text and Context. It is awesome. If you’re not a church planter, don’t worry about the title. I’m not a church planter (not really, anyway), and I found it enormously edifying and convicting and profitable and valuable and inspiring and encouraging. If you’re in ministry or a leader in your church or merely interested in church and church leadership, you really should listen to it.

Seriously. It’s dang good.

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Who is the Kingdom For?

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”– Luke 14:12-14

Last night during the music at Element, I began to picture Christ on the cross while singing “My God is mighty to save,” and I was overcome with conviction of my own arrogance. How dare I believe — and allegedly treasure — that eternal life for me meant Jesus’ death and then go on living as if daily life requires anything less than crucifixion.

I was teaching out of the banquet parables last night, and this week as I pondered the excuses the invitees give the servants in those stories as to why they “can’t” attend the banquet — “I just got married,” “My business is taking off,” etc. — I began to think of the myriad excuses I make for not investing in the kingdom life, especially knowing that my brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are actually risking their lives to gather to worship. For us, the bare minimum of church attendance is a take-or-leave, when-I-have-time, when-I-feel-like-it, if-it-fits-in-my-schedule selection at the buffet of weekly activities. If …

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Perish My Honor

“I fear some like the messenger, not the message; and I fear I am so vain as to love that love. Lord, let it not be so. Perish my honor, but let thine be exalted forever.”

– Robert Murray McCheyne

(HT: The Gate)

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