Archive for January, 2012
Ray Ortund has written a great piece called Gospel + Safety + Time. This should be the ministry philosophy of any church. Here’s what he had to say:
It’s what everyone needs. Everyone. Gospel + safety + time. A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.
Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the present power of the Holy Spirit. Multiple exposures. Constant immersion. Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.
Safety: a non-accusing environment. No finger-pointing. No embarrassing anyone. No manipulation. No oppression. No condescension. But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.
Time: no pressure. Not even self-imposed pressure. No deadlines on growth. No rush. No hurry. But a lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level. If we relax, trusting in God’s patience, we actually get going.
This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time. It’s the only way anyone can ever change.
Who doesn’t need that?
During this morning’s Bible reading, something really jumped out at me. I was reading about Isaac in Genesis 25,
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (Genesis 25:19-21)
Here’s what jumped out at me. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, but Rebekah couldn’t have children so Isaac prayed for her to be able to conceive. Then the very next sentence says that the Lord granted his prayer and she conceived. Pretty cool, right? Yes. But look closer at Read the rest of this entry »
The Christian life is a gospel-centered and grace driven life. Or at least it should be. Gospel-centered and grace driven is one way to describe the normal Christian life. Paul described it like this, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14) Paul’s gospel centeredness (one has died for all, therefore all have died) resulted in his being grace driven (the love of Christ controls us). If anyone understood grace and the many ways it spills over into all of life, it was Paul. Paul understood the radical nature of grace, the freedom it brings, and how it can turn everything in our lives upside down. Or as one author put it, grace messes up your hair.
An area where grace hits close to home is in our giving. We get uneasy when someone starts talking about giving. We start to squirm. You might be getting uneasy just reading this. But humor me for a minute and keep reading. I think one reason we get uneasy (and there are many reasons we do) is because we bring misconceptions to the discussion when we talk about giving. We’ve all heard our share of guilt-ridden and duty-ridden sermons on the subject Read the rest of this entry »
As someone who was formerly steeped in performance Christianity, this blog post by Tullian Tchividjian really encouraged me. I had started to write on this subject but when I came across his blog dealing with the same issues of looking at one’s own performance and progress for assurance, I decided not to reinvent the wheel. He says things much better than I can. Regrettably, I used to use terms like “a believer looks like…”, “a believer looks this way…”, “a true believer responds this way…”, and “if you profess to believe, our expectations for you go way up…”. Ironically, as I would throw out these canned phrases, I would, at the same time, insist that I had no expectations of others to perform.
I’ve since come to realize that my former way of thinking betrayed the extent to which I was looking at my own (and others!) performance and progress in our Christian lives instead of looking solely to Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2)! The saga worsens when and if you start to look to your own progress and performance as the source of your assurance and then tell others that their performance is the basis for their assurance as well. The results can be devastating because as my progress or performance goes, so goes my assurance of salvation and my joy.
Here are Tullian Tchividjian’s words on this subject. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did:
A month or so ago I made the point in this post that confidence in my transformation is not the source of my assurance. Rather, the source of my assurance comes from faith in Christ’s substitution. Assurance never comes from looking at ourselves. It only comes as a consequence of Read the rest of this entry »