Monthly Archives: May 2009

It is Finished, He Has Done It

Some Keith Green brilliance for your Sunday.

Never will be another like him.

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Happy Birthday, Macy!

Our oldest turns 8 today. Time has flown. Seems like just yesterday she was toddling around the house, chattering to “Memo” (Elmo) on her playphone. Now she’s writing “novels” and original musical compositions.

Our little beauty’s growing up.

Macy 5 years or so ago, about the time I started blogging:

Macy this year:

Happy Birthday, baby girl.

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Jesus is the Older Brother Who Does His Job

Colossians 1:15:He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Paul articulately asserts the truth of the Incarnation in Colossians 1, but his use of “firstborn” does not mean that there was a time when the Son of God wasn’t (any more than John 3:16’s use of “begotten” does — as the Nicene Creed insists, Jesus is “eternally begotten”). But Paul’s use of “firstborn” here holds such a wealth of meaning: namely, as it applies to Christ’s sovereign authority and to his redemptive activity.

Biblically and culturally speaking, the firstborn son carried the weight of the family inheritance on his shoulders. The family name rested first with him. In the absence of the father, he is the head of the family. The firstborn son receives more honor, more expectation, and more authority.

This is Jesus, of course. The author of Hebrews tells us he is the radiance of God’s glory. Romans 8 tells us that he is the heir of God. Inheritance talk is big in Galatians and Ephesians and Titus and Hebrews.As our older brother, Jesus is due the authority and the wealth he is owed.But unlike all other older brothers — and I am one, so I know — he walks in a way worthy of his honor. For our sake!

All through the Scriptures, from the murderous Cain to the sniveling idiot brother of Jesus’ parable of the Lost Son, the older brother is consistently an utter and absolute failure. (So are most of the younger …

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Element Audio: Spiritual Worship in Suburbia

Audio from my message “Spiritual Worship in Suburbia,” Part 3 in our series God vs. Suburbia is now available for download.

The message covers Colossians 1:15-20 and might be the most Jesus-saturated message I’ve ever done.

(I call my friend Rob Harrison a nerd in there somewhere (not by name), but I also call myself a jerk, so it’s a wash, eh Rob?

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Happy Birthday, Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed was born this day in 325. One of the oldest and most widely used confessions of the universal Christian faith, the Nicene Creed was formulated at a time when the heresy of Arianism threatened orthodox Christianity with the denial of Jesus’ deity. Thus the strong Christology in the creed.

I believe in one God,the Father Almighty,maker of heaven and earth,and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,the only begotten Son of God,begotten of his Father before all worlds,God of God, Light of Light,very God of very God,begotten, not made,being of one substance with the Father;by whom all things were made;who for us men and for our salvationcame down from heaven,and was incarnate by the Holy Ghostof the Virgin Mary,and was made man;and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;he suffered and was buried;and the third day he rose againaccording to the Scriptures,and ascended into heaven,and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;and he shall come again, with glory,to judge both the quick and the dead;whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];who with the Father and the Son togetheris worshipped and glorified;who spake by the Prophets.And I believe one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church;I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;and I look for the resurrection of the dead,and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Element’s statement of faith credits the …

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Preach the Gospel at All Times; It is Necessary to Use Words

Mark Galli debunks a treasured evangelical urban legend:

I’ve heard the quote once too often. It’s time to set the record straight—about the quote, and about the gospel.

Francis of Assisi is said to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

This saying is carted out whenever someone wants to suggest that Christians talk about the gospel too much, and live the gospel too little. Fair enough—that can be a problem. Much of the rhetorical power of the quotation comes from the assumption that Francis not only said it but lived it.

The problem is that he did not say it. Nor did he live it. And those two contra-facts tell us something about the spirit of our age . . .

Go read the whole thing.

It is true that too many churchfolk are all talk, no action.It is also true that the Bible never ceases to command us to speak boldly, to preach the gospel, by which it means with our mouths.

It’s a two-fisted gospel, folks.

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Woe to You When All Men Speak Well of You

A healthy dose of being criticized, even hated, is honorable if they’re criticizing or hating you because of your Jesus-fixation and gospel-stubbornness.

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Podcast Double-edgedness

I think it’s awesome that we now have the technology to be able to listen to hundreds of preachers from churches all across America and all over the world from the comfort of our own homes, cars, offices, and pockets, courtesy of sermon podcasts. I think this is part of the reason for the burgeoning gospel renaissance in some sections of the evangelical church: people who were starving for the gospel in their own churches are now able to hear gospel preaching regularly.

I think it’s awful that we now have this technology that allows us to listen to the absolute best preachers in the world and thereby compare their speaking to that of our own preacher’s. Our own guy may be sound and solid, competent and compelling, but podcasts from the “best of the best” have ruined us for profiting from wisdom in our very own sanctuaries. The celeb factor of a stranger kicks in, and it is hard for the “unknown” guy who is personally bleeding, sweating, and crying for us to compete. (I also think a large swath of the multi-site movement banks on this reality.)

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This Weekend @ Element: Spiritual Worship in Suburbia

This weekend I am excited to preach on Colossians 1:15-20 in a message called “Spiritual Worship in Suburbia,” Part 3 in our series God vs. Suburbia.

If you’re looking for a place to worship in the Nashville area, we meet at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on the campus of Immanuel Church (5253 Granny White Pike).

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Shepherding Toward the Truth

Good counsel for pastors from one of my faves, Matt Chandler:

* Give people texts to read and then give them plenty of space to wrestle. I love strong, convincing theologically driven books. The Bible’s better.

* Listen. Don’t listen to respond. Listen. You’ll find that people usually have an aversion to truth because it is affecting something or someone very close to them. If you’ll listen and see past a specific theological agenda, you can minister to their hearts. Let me give you an example. The Village is reformed in theology. A few weeks ago after an especially clear presentation of God’s sovereignty over salvation a young man came up to me after service frustrated with what I taught. It didn’t take long to figure out someone very close to him wasn’t a believer. We prayed for his family member for 10-15 minutes and asked the merciful God of the universe to save. After we prayed together, he told me he needed to “learn more of what the Bible says about all this.” After feeling loved, cared for and then prayed with, he was much more open to hear the scriptures unpacked. I have found this to be the case more often than not.

* Be patient. Progressive sanctification is just that…progressive. Deep spiritual growth is far from a super highway; it’s more like a dirt path through a thick jungle. Encourage, pray, and be patient.

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