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How To Celebrate Your Timely Death

Faith sees us joined in his death and alive with him in his resurrection.

Romans 6:8, Mirror

Dearly beloved,

We are gathered here today to celebrate the timely death of you. You lived a hard life, full of sin and unrest. Your life was riddled with tormenting thoughts, ceaseless self-salvation projects, and hopelessness. Luckily, you died just at the right time.

Celebrate

Really, celebrate? Absolutely.

We typically will celebrate the life of someone when they die. I’ve never been to a funeral when the minister and family celebrated the death of someone. How awkward would that be?

The Witch GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

That being said, we should ABSOLUTELY celebrate our death. Not in a morbid sense.

So, this prompts the question: Which death are we celebrating? Our inclusion in the death of Jesus!

How To Celebrate

The first way to celebrate is sincere thankfulness. This is not just the glib, “thanks” tossed up for a meaningless gift. We should have sincere thankfulness that comes from our joy of being united with Christ!

The second way we can celebrate is to tell others. I know for me, when something awesome happens, I tell people! This should be the same for all of us.

The last way we can celebrate is to live a life of celebration. Nothing says that you’re thankful than throwing a party! Remember Jesus telling the story of the woman who looked all day and found a lost coin and then threw a party?! Our entire lives should be a celebratory party to say thanks!

I’m Afraid of The Do-More Cult

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”

Matthew 11:28-29a MSG

Hi, my name is Bobby and I’m a former “do-more-ic” and “try-harder-ist.” At the time of this writing, I’ve been clean for almost 4 years. Ok, sure, I’ve fallen back into the old habits of trying to make it on my own. And yes, of course, I’ve taken back the success of my salvation out of the wholly capable hands of Jesus. The allure of the “do more, try harder” cult is strong. Luckily, the sweet song of rest that Jesus sings is stronger.

Do More

The idea of having to do more stems from a weak god ideology. The god that needs or requires this type of behavior is simply small. 

John Dink writes it perfectly, “The truth – so scandalous, so surprising, our hearts have to be sitting down to hear it… God saves sinners single-handedly, He will not be needing our help. In fact, diluting the Gospel with our own help is precisely why grace ceases to amaze us. So busy trying to help Jesus help us, we hardly ever taste His gift and we remain unchanged and unmoved by it.

Try Harder

Give up. Stop trying. God doesn’t want your efforts. He wants your submission. Not submission in the sense of letting Him put his foot on your neck, but in the sense of completely relying on Him.

I tried real hard for a long time and it didn’t get me very far. I got frustrated, a lot. I got condemned, by me. I got hopeless. But I didn’t get much closer to actually feeling loved by God.

Brother Lawrence,  in the Practice of the Presence, when talking about sin says, “I can do no better without you. Please keep me from falling and correct the mistakes I make.” Notice that he doesn’t tell God that he’s going to do better next time. He doesn’t say that he’s going to pull himself up by his bootstraps and by God fix it. He simply tells God that He needs His help.

Cult?

So, what is this cult I’m talking about? Just the mindset of having to do things in order to “be right” or “stay right” with God.

For me, this cult is so addictive. It’s so alluring. I love this cult. This cult raised me. But it’s also toxic.

I finally broke free from this cult and now I live free. Would you like to join me?

A Christmas Gift Centuries in the Making

This is the fifth in the series, Gospel in the Carols. Today we look at Come, Thou Long  Expected Jesus. 

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
1

Joy to those who long to see thee,
Dayspring from on high, appear;
come, thou promised Rod of Jesse,
of thy birth we long to hear!
O’er the hills the angels singing news,
glad tidings of a birth;
“Go to him, your praises bringing;
Christ the Lord has come to earth.”

Come to earth to taste our sadness,
he whose glories knew no end;
by his life he brings us gladness,
our Redeemer, Shepherd, Friend.
Leaving riches without number,
born within a cattle stall;
this the everlasting wonder,
Christ was born the Lord of all.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
2

Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

  1. See Simeon waiting in the Temple. – Luke 2:25
  2. We have been raised with Christ and are now seated with Him in Heaven. – Ephesians 2:6

Join In The Song of The Angels

This is the fourth in our series “Gospel in the Carols“. Today we take a look at Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. I’ve highlighted the distilled gospel.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled” 1
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell 2
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!” 3

  1. With the birth of Jesus (who was believed to be not only the King of the Jews sent by the deity, but also the savior of all human beings from eternal damnation), peace was restored to Earth. According to Christian teachings, the Earth had not been at peace since the days of the Garden of Eden. The story of original sin holds that with Adam and Eve’s willingness to give in to temptation came the separation of God from his children: Jesus was born to restore that relationship back to original goodness!
  2. Pleased
 – If I’ve learned one thing from John Piper’s books, articles, and sermons, it is that God pursues His own joy. The incarnation was not a bit of drudgery that the Son was obligated to perform. He did it willingly, joyfully, for our sake and ultimately for His glory. The self-humiliation of God in the incarnation was merely a precursor to the self-humiliation of God on the cross. At the onset, the outset was understood, yet Christ still went through with it all.
    The author of Hebrews tells us in 12:2 that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him.” And Isaiah tells us in 53:10, according to the NASB, that “the Lord was pleased to crush Him.”
    As Man
 – “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word became flesh.” The eternal Son condescended to become man. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Christ was born as a man at just the right time in history to complete the righteous requirements of the Law for us and thus make our adoption possible. Paul gives an even greater emphasis on the lowliness of Christ’s condescension in Romans 8:3-4, which says, “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…” Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh.
    With Men to Dwell
 – The incarnation is made even more wonderful by the fact that the Son was pleased to dwell with men. The holiness of God requires that sin be punished. It was precisely for that reason that Christ came. But in order to bear our punishment, He chose to live among us—sinners wallowing in our own wretched filth. His indignation at sin was apparent from His interactions with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but He summarized His mission early on: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:7).
  3. This verse is just chocked full of the gospel!
    1. Light and life to all He brings! – John 10:10
    2. Born that men no more may die! – John 11:26
    3. Born to raise the sons of earth! – Ephesians 2:6
    4. Born to give them second birth! – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Mercy Is The Greatest Locksmith

Mercy calls you; break your chains.

Today in our series of the Gospel in the Carols we look at “Angels From the Realms of Glory.” I love this carol even though it’s one of the lesser sung carols. Enjoy the distilled gospel inside!

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth

Come and worship, come and worship,
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you; break your chains.
1

He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:
2

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To th’eternal Three in One.

  1. Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
    Galatians 5:1 – “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
  2. Matthew 19:28-30 – “Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields—whatever—because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.

How Do You Kill Sin and Sorrow?

How Do You Kill Sin and Sorrow?

He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found

This is the second in our series “The Gospel in the Carols.” This week we take a look at the favorite Joy To The World. I’ve highlighted the distilled gospel.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.
1

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.
2

  1. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”—Galatians 3:13. For more information check out this post from Charles Spurgeon.
  2. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” — John 1:17.

Gospel in the Carols – O Holy Night

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.

We are doing a new blog series on The Gospel in the Carols. This week we take look at O Holy Night. I’ve highlighted the portions that are the distilled gospel. I hope this Christmas brings the gospel fuller and brighter as you remember Christ’s finished work!

O Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.1
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O’er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.2
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we,
His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!3

  1. A thrill of hope makes a weary world rejoice because the birth of Jesus brought God’s kingdom to our world and things changed radically. The Bible tells us that the way things are in our world is not the way they are supposed to be. God created a good creation, a joyful world that declared the glory of God and skies that proclaimed the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1). But this joy was decimated as God’s good creation was infected with sin and the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirthuntil now (Rom. 8:22). Now—a weary world rejoices because the birth of Jesus is much more than the beginning of hope, it is the end of a long period of waiting for comfort to come to a hurting world.

  2. “He was numbered with the transgressors; he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”— Isaiah 53:12

3. Jesus demonstrated His love for us by laying His life down for us, and we are called to do likewise for others. “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:1-2) The law He has given us for the new covenant is love- love that reflects the peace the gospel brings between God and man.

This commandment was given another way in the Gospel According to John: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus issued a standard by which all people can judge whether or not we follow Jesus; whether or not we are truly Christians. If we do not show love for one another, the world has a right to judge that we are not believers.

The Best Thing I Learned From Hook

The Best Thing I Learned From Hook

Isn’t that a wonder?
When you’re alone
You’re not alone
Not really alone

Maggie Banning, Hook

Hook has to be one of my favorite movies of all time. It came out when I was 10 years old (25 years ago!) and I could probably still watch it once a week. I mean c’mon! Peter Pan, Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, Captain Hook!

I absolutely love the song that Peter (Banning) Pan’s daughter sings while being held captive by Capt. Hook. She’s scared. She feels alone. She wants her family.

She singing a song about the stars and how they watch over her. She sings that she can pick any one of them to watch over her. This is the sentiment of a young, scared girl who wants her family.

I’ve felt like that before, minus the Capt. Hook enslavement. Alone. Scared. Lonely. Unwanted.

I feel like the emotion is more common than most of us realize.

I wish I would’ve known in my times of loneliness that I wasn’t alone, not really alone.

“…I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:20b, Message

So, no matter how alone I felt, I wasn’t really alone. But this simple statement from Jesus also carries huge implications.

When I’m happy, He’s rejoicing with me.

When I’m sad, He’s weeping with me.

When I’m by myself, He’s with me.

I believe this truth is paramount to the believer.

I know that when I was younger, I wouldn’t have done half of the silly things, brave things, or scary things I did if I was by myself. I think the same is true now.

I can step out in faith in little and big things because I’m not stepping out alone.

Peter wasn’t stepping out of a boat in a storm onto water alone. He was stepping out of a boat in a storm onto water with Jesus.

You don’t have to feel alone. You can feel accompanied.

Isn’t that a wonder?
When you’re alone
You’re not alone
Not really alone

You Can't Plan It Out But You Can Get In The River

You Can’t Plan It Out But You Can Get In The River

The journey of holiness is not one of arriving, it’s simply staying in the river.

Stop worrying about making it to “holiness” as if it’s a destination on the map. Your arrival isn’t dependent on you doing or not doing something. It’s simply yielding to the river that surrounds you.

What’s the river? God.

Why must we trust Him for our holiness? He knows the way and He’s the one who makes us holy.

You can’t push (don’t do) something to move the river nor can you pull (do) something to make the river move. You can only stay in the water and let the current move you downstream. You MUST trust the river.

The flow of the river doesn’t care if you’re perfect. The flow of the river doesn’t care if you’re right. The flow of the river doesn’t care about your denominational affiliation. The river only cares about you getting in and enjoying the ride.

So, what’s your to-do list for holiness?

  1. Get in the river.
  2. Trust the river.
  3. Stay in the river.

I hope I didn’t lose you in the river metaphor. I thought it was just a decent one to get my thought across.

Check out these scripture for more information.

  • Hebrews 10:10
  • 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28

The Journey of a Lifetime Begins with a Yes

Where you stop is where you stop. There’s always more of God.
Karen Wheaton

I’ve heard Mrs. Karen say this hundreds of times, and it rings true to me as much today as the first time I heard it. Our journey into Christ is one of exploration. We will eternally explore the extents of what we have access to in Christ.

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