Moving Forward and Pressing On

I have often had people ask me, what is your favorite book in the Bible, in which I try to say, well the Bible. After all it is a book! haha!  But if I play by the rules I typically will answer with Philippians.  I don’t know if it is because it agrees so much with my personality or what, but Philippians has always stuck out in my mind.  It has been a book that has spoken clearly to me on several occasions and one that I found extremely encouraging during my 5 week stay in Istanbul.

One passage that came to mind to me this morning was Philippians 3:12-16.  When Paul mentions that he has not already obtained this, he is talking about the resurrection from the dead, the new bodies that we receive.  Notice in verse 12 what Paul is saying, he presses on because Christ has made Him his own.  We press on in the faith because Christ has redeemed us, Christ loves us, he has adopted us as sons and heirs to the kingdom!  So naturally Paul moves to the next verse in 13 to forget what is behind, why?  Because Christ has forgiven it, Christ has covered it!  We move on, we press on toward Christ because we do not have to worry about the past mistakes we have.  Last week when I talked about Legalism I mentioned that the one and only thing we bring to the table in concerns to our salvation is our sin, Christ is the redeemer and the only way.

So what is the upward call?  What is it that you are striving to be?  To be imitators of Christ, lovers of Christ, witnesses to the resurrection power of Christ.  We press on to live in unity, to love as Christ loved, to live in obedience as Christ has commanded.  Friends, I pray that God will give you a Spirit of tenacity to forget what is behind, moving on, pressing forward to live in a manner that Christ has called you.  Remember that through Christ we are redeemed and forgiven therefore we can forget what is behind and by the power of the resurrected Christ and press on.

Take a moment to ask God to give you that attitude.  Thank Him for His forgiveness.  Spend some time in the rest of the chapter.

Steadfast Love of the Lord

Today in my quiet time I was reading through the Psalms.  I love what the Psalmist has to say in chapter 86.  Take some time today to read the whole passage.  I want to point out a couple of things that God spoke to me in that time.  In verse 5 David says, “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”  I was thinking about how this past week we talked out of Acts 15 and how many of the Jewish Christians were struggling with thinking that our salvation came through Jesus + circumcision, or Jesus + the law.  I love how David appeals to the character of God and shows how God is forgiving and loving.  In Acts we see how salvation is found in Christ alone, we are forgiven by Him, and God’s wrath is withheld because of our faith, calling upon Christ as Lord of our lives.

It makes me so excited when I think about how God shows this genuine steadfast love toward us.  I think in my own life, praise the Lord that our salvation is all about God’s performance in my own life and not about my performance to Him, beside bringing my sin to the table, repenting of it.  If God was not patient toward me, I can tell you without a doubt someone else would be here.  Now, think of that word steadfast. I picture this image of the guys who are in the tour de france. You see those guys riding 100+ miles a day, riding over mountain tops, battling brutal conditions, etc.  These guys are steadfast, fixed on making it to the finish line and making there way to the front of the pack.  I think of how God is steadfast, how He is “…slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (86:13b).  I have to remind myself daily of the goodness of God’s love toward me and us.  How He has shown us steadfast love that does not go away, one that faithful even when we are faithless.  How His love is unwavering toward us!  Praise God this morning for that!  Praise Him for your salvation and how it has everything to do with Him and His steadfast love.  Great is His Steadfast Love toward us!

Memorizing Scripture

If you are like me this is something you can say you don’t always do well.  This past month my good friend and I have begun to challenge one another in this area of our faith.  Some of you may find yourselves asking yourself this question, well what is the whole purpose of memorizing scripture anyway?  I have a Bible, I have a Bible on my iPod, iPhone or Android, which is always on me, so why do I need to memorize?  One of my favorite pastors answers this question very well.  So I will let him take care of that.  Check out the video below and ask yourself this, what scripture do I remember?  What can I begin memorizing now?  One thing that always hits me hard is when I think about how there are millions of Muslims in this world that cannot speak or understand Arabic yet they have memorized every word in the Koran!  They do not have the truth and yet it is something more important to them than to us?  What is wrong with this picture?

Summer Calendar!

The summer calendar is here!  Make sure to pick one up in the Rafters, or if you want, print your own off.  Click on the picture below to see the dates.

Monday’s In Motion are going to be typically happening from 9:30-11:00am.  We will be playing all sorts of games like ultimate frisbee, milk jug lacrosse, over the line, and many more!  It will be a good chance for students to run around and burn off some energy with their friends.  We will also open up the game room afterward to hang out and play some video games if students want to chill longer.

Bible and Biscotti is our Thursday Bible Study.  We will meet from 2-3:30pm on most occasions and typically at our very own Concord espresso machine!

Lastly we will also be having 3 House Church Meetings.  These will be meeting in various homes, where will hang out, have dinner, and dive into God’s word.  These will go from 6-9pm.

Make sure to look at the calendar frequently so you don’t miss out on all the cool things that are going on this summer!  And don’t forget to check up here for locations and any time changes!

Good News in your Neighborhood

I was challenged with this thought yesterday, “How are you being the Good News in your neighborhood?”  That kind of shook me.  How is my life at home being an example of the Good News to my neighbors?  I know I spend a lot of time ministering to all of you at church.  But how am I being salt and light to the darkness that resides next door to me?!  I admit this is a big struggle for me.  I have not taken up the mantle in going out to those who live directly across from me.  To be honest I only know the names of one of my many neighbors, and had very little to no conversations with the rest.

One thing I have been busy plotting in my head is how to start that relationship with them and how to show them the Good News of Christ in my life.  How can I show them the joy, passion and excitement that comes with following after Christ.  We know as Christians we are called to live differently.  We do this because of what Christ has done in our lives.  Looking at Romans 1:5 we see that we are obedient, we live differently than the world, for the glory of God’s name among all nations! That includes our neighbors who see us day in and day out.  I know that as I build that relationship with my neighbors I will live my life as an example of the goodness and mercy of Christ that He has shown me.

So I want to hear your thoughts.  Do you struggle with showing the Good News to your neighbors?  What does that even look like in your life?!  Post your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Does the Gospel Speak for Itself?

I read this good article earlier.  Take a moment to read this quote by Russell Moore.

Sometimes believers will throw up their hands in frustration with non-Christian people they know. “I have said everything I know to say to her about the gospel,” one might say. “She already knows it all and doesn’t believe.”

Often what we seek is another argument, a hidden angle that our interlocutor hasn’t thought through before. But that’s rarely how the gospel is heard and received. Think about it in your own case. Did you believe the gospel the first time you ever heard it? Perhaps you did, but if so, you’re quite unusual. Most of us heard the gospel over and over and over again until one day it hit us in a very different way.

And what was different about it? Was it a new argument? Did you say to yourself, “Wait, you mean there’s archaeological evidence proving the historical existence of the Hittites?” or “Hold on, there were five hundred witnesses to the resurrection? Well, what must I do to be saved?”

No, in most cases what we heard was the same old gospel — Christ crucified for us, buried, raised from the dead — and suddenly there was light (2 Corinthians 4:6). Suddenly what had seemed boring or irrelevant to us now seemed quite personal. We heard a man’s voice in that gospel, and we wanted to follow that voice (John 10:316). We saw a light of glory that overwhelmed us (2 Corinthians 4:6). The same is true with the as-of-yet unbelieving world around us or the as-of-yet unbelieving relatives we have waiting for us at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

You need not be intimidated by unbelievers, as though what you need is a more nuanced “worldview” to protect the kingdom of God from their threats. Yes, we engage in apologetic arguments, but those aren’t at the hub of our mission. By talking with unbelievers about arguments against the existence of God or scientific evidence for blind natural selection or whatever, all we’re doing is listening to the defense mechanisms of those who are, as we were, scared of the sound of God’s presence in the garden. We should talk about those things lovingly, but not so we can defend the faith. We engage others only so we can get to the only announcement that assaults the blinding power of the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The gospel is big enough to fight for itself.

What are your thoughts on that?  Do you feel you are the one that has to convert people to Christ?  As Christians we are called to go and share the Good News.  The Gospel alone has the power to change hearts and lives, not us!  Let that fill you with boldness as you go.  I think of this in my own life, I can give the best sermon that has ever been spoken but it is the Holy Spirit that moves people.  I remember the first message I gave, it made zero sense and it was over in a matter of minutes (I’m sure many of you would have loved that!).  But through that God worked in the life of one individual to come to the knowledge of Christ!  You are called to go, speak and make disciples, not to change hearts.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Spiritual “Highs”

With Breakaway rapidly approaching I thought this video summed up a few of my “feelings” about the “Spiritual High” that we get while we are at camp.  Check out the video embedded below.

Ask yourself these questions in response.  Do I rely too heavy on my “feelings” when it comes to my relationship with Christ?  What does my commitment to God really look like?  How can I challenge myself to be more intentional with my time with God?  How can I make my commitment with God more like what I sing about in worship songs?  Now Go and Do It!

Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comments section below!

Boldness of Stephen

This week we talked about having a boldness for Christ.  I hope that you have been able to share among your friends the beauty of the one true Gospel.  Since we only have ten meetings to attempt at making it through the marvelous Acts of the Apostles I am not able to hit every story.  One that I am bummed that we will not be covering is the story of Stephen in 6:8-7:60.  Take some time today to read through this story and then ask yourself the questions below.

How was Stephen bold with his faith?  What made him bold in his faith?  Take a quick look at 6:10.  What did you learn about the nation of Israel through all of this?  Pray today that God will give you s Spirit of boldness to speak to your friends about the wonderful Gospel of Christ Jesus.  Pray that he will melt the hearts of stones that our friends have built up against God’s word.