Archive for the 'Salvation' Category

18
Oct
10

Come as You Are; But You Won’t Stay That Way (Re-post)

As I was reviewing the statistics for this blog, I noticed the post that has received the most views of all was on February 9, 2010.  It was refreshing and powerful for me as I went back to read it again.  So, I thought I would re-post it today in hopes that it will be a powerful word of truth to someone today.

Jesus was a controversial figure in His day…during His earthly ministry.  He spent time around those whom the religious community considered the scum of the earth (Luke 5:29-32).  He reached out to them in love without expecting them to “clean up” before He would have anything to do with them.  This is where we get the idea for the old hymn, “Just as I am.”

I’m glad that we don’t have to get our act together before we come to Jesus.  His love and grace calls to us to come and experience His healing touch.  Contrary to some post-modern thinking, however, we don’t come to Jesus and stay the same.  It isn’t an “addition” of Jesus to our lifestyle.  He doesn’t accommodate His truth to our situation.  It is a transformation that takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Actually, it would be a cruel thing for Christ to accept us and then leave us as we are…in our sins.

I am a new creation…and I’m becoming a new creation.  It is an event (salvation) and it is a process (sanctification).  Thank God it is real!

Check out the video below “Come as You Are” by Northland Church.  Celebrate your new life as you watch.  If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, go here to find out more.

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09
Oct
10

Next Gen Motivation Connects with Biblical Truth

Daniel Pink, noted business leader and speaker, points out that there are three basic motives for behavior.  Specifically, he speaks of motivating behavior in the business world.  Studies and observation of human behavior tell us that we are motivated by…
1.    Biological Motives – food, sleep, sex.
2.    Reward Motives – greater productivity brings greater reward.
3.    Purpose Motives – understanding that what one does has a greater purpose and contributes to a greater cause (involving ownership).

We know biblically, as well as scientifically, that biological motives are very powerful in controlling behavior.  However, when it comes to problem solving, they are not very effective beyond simply taking care of one’s biological needs.  Unmanaged, they can even become enslaving and lead to less productivity in life.

Reward, as research indicates, is effective for relatively low-level cognitive problem-solving situations.  And, actually, when creativity and innovation are needed for more complex problem solving, productivity actually decreases when reward is increased.  This is certainly counter-intuitive, but proven to be true.

However, when an individual gains an understanding of purpose behind their problem solving and are encouraged to take ownership of the overall purpose, their creativity and productivity increases.   This is even more pronounced when they are given “authority” or freedom in their activity rather than being delegated tasks.

So What?

So how does this apply to life and the church beyond the business world?  I think there is a very significant application in regard to the cultural relevance of the gospel.

Thirty-plus years ago, American culture was primarily a reward motivated culture.  If you do these tasks, you’ll receive this reward.  Do more tasks and you’ll receive more reward.

The “Next Gen” culture is not motivated merely by simple reward.  The bigger picture motivates them.  They want to know there is a cause bigger than them and want to become a part of something that will make a difference in their world.

Place that dynamic over our spiritual journey and it looks like this.

Past generations have been concerned primarily with the gospel redemption that gets a person saved so as to gain the reward of heaven.  After that, they wanted to enlist as many as they could to join them.  Great goal, but I would argue–incomplete.

This alone is not a motivator to the Next Gen’ers.  They want to know that they are changing the “here and now” of people AS WELL AS their eternity.

For the church to reach the Next Generation we must be focused on engaging and reforming the culture as a natural outcome of the redemption process of the gospel.  We can call it a means to an end, the ultimate step in the discipleship process, or just the other piece of the puzzle.  However, we label it, we know that the Bible speaks prolifically about the people of God caring about the poor, the oppressed, the disenfranchised, the broken and the forgotten.  For us to embrace the gospel of redemption, and not embrace the responsibility to bring healing and physical restoration to these, is to fail to fully embrace the gospel.  I speak not of a “social gospel” that tosses aside the message of salvation in favor of only addressing a physical or emotional need.  I do reject the notion that we only focus on bringing people face-to-face with the opportunity for salvation with no concern for their physical needs.

This is not just a Next Gen issue.  It is a biblical truth issue.  Can we possibly look at the life of Jesus and all that the Scripture teaches about caring for the needy and think that addressing social injustice is not an integral part of the gospel?  The only answer in my mind is reflected in the words of Jesus.

“ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

Luke 4:18-19

What are your thoughts about the connection between the gospel and social injustice?  How have you involved yourself in connecting the two?


02
Aug
10

Thankful for the Grace

I haven’t seen or heard Mark Lowry in a long time.  He is a funny man, but in this video he shares (in his own unique way) about the amazing grace of God.

I am amazed by the grace of God.  To think that He gave such a great sacrifice for me, and everyone else, is overwhelming.  That grace is available to all who will call upon His name…the name of Jesus.

How has the grace of God touched your life?

04
Apr
10

Empty Cross + Empty Tomb ≠ An Empty Life

Our pastor made a statement in the Easter sermon this morning that has stuck with me, so I thought I would write a few thoughts about it here as this Easter Sunday comes to a close.  He said, “There’s an empty cross, an empty tomb, what about your life?  Is it empty?”

My immediate mental/worship response to this question was to rejoice in the reality that my life is NOT empty.  It has been, it could be, it deserves to be, but it is NOT!  In this brief post (mostly because I’m tired) I will share a few things that are significant to me about this thought.

  1. My life was empty at one time.  Although I came to faith in Christ at an early age (9 years), I was very aware of the emptiness in my life at that time.  Perhaps I wouldn’t have described it that way as a 9-year-old.  But that is exactly where I was.  I was empty of the life that I knew I could have in trusting Christ.  I knew I was devoid of life that would be eternally with God.  That was the emptiest empty I could have imagined at that time.  So…I placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8).
  2. My life has felt pretty empty at times since then.  One might ask, if you trusted in Jesus to fill the emptiness, why would you experience an emptiness since then?  The reason…my own failure to trust.  Though I have never ceased to trust in Jesus as my Savior, there have been times when I failed to fully trust Him for a struggle, a need, a fear or a desire.  When I have chosen to do things my way with myself at the center, I have disengaged from that dependent/trusting relationship that He has intended.  In turn, I have forfeited the presence and power of Jesus in my life, resulting in a feeling of emptiness (James 4:8-10).
  3. I am most aware of the fullness of the life Jesus has given me when I am in community with others.  My life is far from empty.  There is no despair when I am aware that I am in Christ and He is in me.  That relationship is energized and experienced as I live out life with those God has placed in my life…my wife, my family, my Lifegroup, my faith community…even the non-believers with whom I have the opportunity to rub elbows (Proverbs 27:9).

My life is anything but empty.  I rejoice this Easter that an empty cross and an empty tomb do not make for an empty life.  Instead, it is the fullest life that I could ever imagine (John 10:10).

How has God filled your life?  What relationships help you to see the fullness of life that God has given you?




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