According to Plan

I’m currently reading through Graeme Goldsworthy’s According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. My favorite quote so far? Glad you asked…

In doing biblical theology as Christians, we do not start at Genesis 1 and work our way forward until we discover where it is all leading. Rather we first come to Christ, and he directs us to study the Old Testament in the light of the gospel. The gospel will interpret the Old Testament by showing us its goal and meaning. The Old Testament will increase our understanding of the gospel by showing us what Christ fulfills. – p 55

Reading the Old Testament through the lens of Christ’s work on the cross and his resurrection from the grave (i.e. the Gospel), is certainly not how I’ve always read the Bible. Instead, I read a string of historical stories (and mostly skipped over a list of laws) that were loosely connected by a Jewish ancestry. Eventually the stories ended, and a new set of stories began in the New Testament, which were quasi-related…but in my mind, more like a sequel to the first edition. The New Testament was the 2nd volume. A better version and much closer to the “real world” that we’re living in today. Deep down, I sensed a huge divide between these two stories, but the gap was not significant enough to bother me in any real way.

Looking back, I think this was because I had no real, formulated expression of what the Bible truly was. I’m sure at some point along the way (probably from numerous people!) I was told that the Bible is God’s personal, progressive, redemptive, revelation to us…but for some reason I never caught it. For me, it was a history book–almost a variety show–starring a handful of colorful characters and a pretty good supporting role filled by God himself.

It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve been learning how to read the Old Testament as a message about Jesus. But in doing so, I’ve gained  a greater appreciation for the masterpiece of God’s Word and his love for us, demonstrated so clearly in our salvation through Christ on the cross.

Denver2011 Weekend Update

Well Denver2011 has officially made it to Denver this weekend and we are already amazed at how God has been working through our group. Before landing in the city, we already had 134 people commit to praying for our trip, as well as the opportunity to share the Gospel and develop future financial partners during the flight. Who would have thought?!

Today has been an incredibly busy day of meetings with other church planters from the Acts29 Network, pastors within the SBC, and urban missionaries to the city. We also spent much time scouting out all the many unique  neighborhoods and local businesses of Denver.

Tomorrow we will be meeting with more pastors and are hoping to further develop relationships with Christian leaders throughout the city. We are so grateful for your prayers and continue to covet them. Please remember us before the Lord if you can, it would mean more than you will know.

Praise God for his love for the cities, specifically the work He is doing in Denver right now.

Denver2011

For sake of ease (laziness), I’m going to copy Bryan Barley here:

Check out our church plant’s new website at www.Denver2011.org.

In particular, I’d ask you to take note of Project 100, our attempt to have 100 people to commit to pray for our January trip to the city of Denver. Please consider praying for our trip and ask God to help us find a location, develop effective “links,” and grow in love for the city and its people.

Denver2011

Even Exams?

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

Whatever you do? What a great challenge, especially in the midst of final exams. I’ll admit, it’s not always easy to praise God and live for his glory at this point in a semester. In fact, it’s much easier to say, “After this week, God, I’ll get back to the normal routine of things and…” Well, you know the rest.

The reality, however, is that life never really seems to slow down. Of course there are some ups and downs, but until you (and I) realize how to worship—how to live for his glory in ‘whatever we do’—throughout all of life’s circumstances and trials (regardless of how insignificant they may be…like a final exam), then we won’t be able to fully grasp the Christian walk. For the race we run is not only during the days of sunshine. It’s through the fog—when we can’t see what’s coming around the next corner. It’s through the rain—when we’re getting pelted. It’s through the snow—when we’re absolutely stuck. And it is through the sunshine—when we joyfully rejoice in the warmth provided.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Colossians 3:15-17.

Labor of Love

Two of my very best friends, Daniel and Renee Miles, once again nearly brought me to tears as they led Oak Grove in worship this morning. Singing “Labor of Love”, we reflected on the birth of Jesus our Savior, the night the young Mary delivered the Son of God.

Luke 2:5-19 says:

Joseph went to Bethlehem to be registered with Mary, who had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to have her baby, and she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was not any room for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, watching their flock during the night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. Then the angel said to them, “Stop being afraid! Listen! I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people. Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in the city of David. And this will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a multitude of the Heavenly Army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,“Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to people who enjoy his favor!” When the angels had left them and gone back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see what has taken place that the Lord has told us about.” So they went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they saw this, they repeated what they had been told about this child. All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them, but Mary continued to treasure in her heart all these things and to ponder them.

Here are my favorite lyrics from “Labor of Love”:

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move.

It was a labor of love. It was not a silent night.

Application

The difference today between a believer in God & a follower of Christ is the APPLICATION of the 2 Timothy 2:8-13 reminder. Need a reminder?

Sermon Delivery

I have thoroughly enjoyed my sermon delivery class this semester. Actually, it has probably been the most helpful and practical class I’ve had this year–teaching me to think more about my walk with the Lord and how I proclaim the truth of the Scriptures than any other course. Hats off to the men I’ve learned with and grown beside this semester.

At the same time, however, I continue to leave every Friday morning with the same thought: “We’ve missed the application.” From my perspective (based merely upon 1. the churches I’ve attended over the last several years, and 2. my own relationship with the Lord and reading of His word), we rarely read the Scriptures in such a way that we’re actively seeking out how to conform our lives to the mission of God and his desires for his people.

So while I have enjoyed listening to each student improve as a preacher (myself included–by no means have I arrived!), here’s my conclusion in reference to sermon application:

You can have the textual structure down. You can have the sermon structure down. You can have your three points alliterated. You can have a central truth and a handful of attention-grabbing illustrations. You can have a catchy intro and a touching conclusion. You can have smooth transitions, purposeful movement, intentional eye communication, vocal variation, and helpful hand gestures. You can even have the word studies, the proper exegesis, and a gospel-centeredness. But if you aren’t teaching your fellow brothers and sisters how to apply the Word to their lives in real, life-altering ways, then you’ve stopped short of proclaiming the Word–because the Word demands a response. If the Sunday sermon does not demand, scream, and plead for you and your people to think and live differently on Monday morning, we’ve missed the point.