Archive for the ‘performance-based christianity’ Category
Today I read a prayer by Scotty Ward Smith for those who suffer from depression. I was struck by this phrase:
For friends who are depressed for no other reason than they are living with a graceless, gospel-less heart, keep them miserable until they rest in the finished work of your Son, Jesus. May they despair of their own unrighteousness and their wannabe righteousness, until they are driven to the righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus. It’s good to be miserable unto mercy.
I don’t know the cause of my depression but I do know the result – I came back to the gospel and my first love. I had become so wrapped up in doing more and doing it better to gain the acceptance of God and those around me that I forgot the message of the cross. The message that He is never disappointed with me. He never turns His face from me. I can never do anything to add to my salvation because it was paid for in full. I can never surprise Him with my sin. I can honestly say it was good to stay miserable unto mercy.
Here is the prayer. I hope you will read it and be encouraged if you are suffering right now. And if you aren’t suffering, perhaps you are like I was and had pat answers for those who do suffer, please read it and maybe gain a new perspective.
With the passing of Brennan Manning last week, there has been a lot of buzz on different social medias. I was most grabbed by these quotes from his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel:
Put bluntly, the American church today accepts grace in theory but denies it in practice. We say we believe that the fundamental structure of reality is grace, not works–but our lives refute our faith. By and large, the gospel of grace is neither proclaimed, understood, nor lived. Too many Christians are living in a house of fear and not in the house of love.
This certainly described me a few years ago. I talked about grace and the gospel, but they were buzz words void of power. They were things to say mostly because prominent Christian authors and speakers were saying them and shame on me if I fall behind or appear uninformed. On one hand, the gospel was faddish because I was eager to parrot what I was hearing to those around me but at the same time, I was being critical of those who spoke about it too much, or spoke of it as a present tense, relevant, and life-changing reality. I and others around me would never have put it the way Brennan did, but he’s right. That’s what happens when Read the rest of this entry »
I love this quote by Martin Luther:
When it comes to experience, you will find the Gospel a rare guest but the Law a constant guest in your conscience.
That’s how we’re wired, isn’t it? We want to do something. We think we can fix ourselves and those around us. We want a rule, a list, guidelines, or some type of law to tell us what to do so that our conscience is relieved by the doing of the thing. We don’t naturally run to the gospel because the gospel doesn’t have a to-do list for us to keep. The gospel makes us uncomfortable because it presents us with a “done” list and tells us there’s nothing we can do to add to or take away from what’s already been done. Our minds are naturally hostile toward the gospel because each of us feels an innate need to earn what we get. This is true both prior to our conversion and after it. We’re thankful for the good news message of the gospel and it’s ability to get us into God’s kingdom, but then we marginalize it by thinking we now need to move beyond it. In our sanctification, our more natural tendency is to pursue law-keeping of some sort that will keep the gospel at bay in our conscience. We may never say it that way, but that’s what we do. We have a natural bent toward some kind of law and away from grace. That’s how we’re wired.
I remember leading a small group Bible study a number of years ago when I was in the throes of gospel-lite performance-ism and our text was James 2:8-13. Allow me to post it here:
8) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9) But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10) For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11) For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12) So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13) For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Looking back, I remember that our entire time was spent discussing what laws we’re obligated to obey and which Read the rest of this entry »
We are doers. We like to do and we like to be in control, or at least feel like we’re in control. When we talk about justification, we’re usually pretty quick to to concede that we’re justified by grace alone, apart from anything we do. But when we come to the subject of sanctification, we tend to throw grace out the window to one degree or another, roll up our sleeves, and get down to the business of moral improvement. We may not say it that way, but when put under the microscope, that’s our tendency. It’s how the old self is wired and it’s one reason I need to hear the gospel over and over. I recently read an essay by Gerhard Forde on the subject of sanctification that I found extremely helpful. Here’s an excerpt from that essay:
Talk about sanctification is dangerous. It is too seductive for the old being. What seems to have happened in the tradition is that sanctification has been sharply distinguished from justification, and thus separated out as the part of the “salvationing” we are to do. God alone does the justifying simply by declaring the ungodly to be so, for Jesus’ sake. Most everyone is willing to concede that, at least in some fashion. But, of course, then comes the question: what happens next? Must not the justified live properly? Must not justification be safeguarded so it will not be abused? So sanctification enters the picture supposedly to rescue the good ship Salvation from shipwreck on the rocks of Grace Alone. Sanctification, it seems, is our part of the bargain. But, of course, once it is looked on that way, we must be careful not to undo Read the rest of this entry »
A few days ago I received an email promoting Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, One Way Love: The Power of Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. That email included the intro to the book which was so good I wanted to pass an excerpt along to you. He said,
The Christian church has sadly not proven to be immune to performancism. Far from it, in fact. It often seems that the good news of God’s grace for those who don’t measure up has been tragically hijacked by an oppressive religious moralism that is all about rules, rules, and more rules; doing more, trying harder, getting better, and fixing, fixing, fixing–ourselves, our kids, our spouse, our coworkers, our boss, our friends, our enemies. Christianity is perceived as being a vehicle for good behavior and clean living—and the judgments that result from them—rather than the only recourse for those who have failed over and over and over again. Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. Ask any of the “religious nones” who answered differently in past years, and I guarantee you will hear a story about either spiritual burn-out or heavy-handed condemnation from fellow believers, or both. Author Jerry Bridges puts it perfectly when he writes:
My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever ‘well’ is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works, rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the ‘sweat’ of our own performance. Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to ‘try harder’. We seem to believe success in the Christian life is basically up to us; our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is very freeing and joyous experience. But it is not meant to be a one-time experience; the truth needs to be reaffirmed daily.
What Bridges describes is nothing less than the human compulsion for taking the reigns of our lives and our salvation back from God, the only One remotely qualified for the job. “Works righteousness” is the word that the Protestant Reformation used, and it has plagued the church–and the world—since the Garden of Eden. It might not be too much of an overstatement to say that if Jesus came to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, freedom for the oppressed, sight to the blind, then Christianity has come to stand for, and in practice perpetuate, the exact opposite of what its founder intended (Luke 4:18-19).
I’ve been in the church long enough to listen for certain things when Christians talk about grace. I listen for “buts and brakes.” Christians often speak about grace with a thousand qualifications. Our greatest concern, it seems, is that people will take advantage of grace and use it as a justification to live licentiously. Sadly, while attacks on morality typically come from outside the church, attacks on grace typically come from inside the church. The reason is because somewhere along the way we’ve come to believe that Read the rest of this entry »
Here’s a link to a blog by Lauren Larkin that reflects the beauty of the gospel by reminding us that He loved us first and He continues to love us even in our brokeness. I hope you are as encouraged by it as I was. Here’s the link:
Here are some recent quotes from my Twitter feed I thought you might like. The first group is on the need to be right and the second bunch is on failure. I can relate to both!
On the need to be right:
If you feel compelled to respond every time you’re criticized it reveals how much you’ve built your identity on being right. -Tullian Tchividian
Jesus, show me the difference between believing I’m right about a matter and needing to be right. -Scotty Smith
Too many Christians live to not make mistakes instead of resting in the love of the One whose blood covers all our mistakes. -Tullian Tchividjian
Theological arrogance devalues grace. It confuses knowledge with maturity, so it doesn’t treasure the grace alone that causes you to grow. -Paul Tripp
Jesus, show me the difference between faithfully guarding the gospel and arrogantly Read the rest of this entry »
I think Ray Ortlund’s words on how to read the Bible are insightful,
If we read the Bible as law, we will find on every page what God is telling us that we should do. Even the promises will be conditioned by law. But if we read the Bible as promise, we will find on every page what God is telling us he will do. Even the commands are conditioned by promise…. The laws and commands and examples are all there, fulfilled in Christ and revered by us. But they do not provide the hermeneutic with which we make sense of the whole. We can and should understand them as qualified by God’s gracious promise, for all who will bank their hopes on him.
There are two types of people in the church. The two types aren’t those that are broken and need rescued and those that are not broken and doing okay. The two types of people in the church are those that are broken and their eyes have been opened to their brokenness and those that are broken, but who’s eyes haven’t been opened to their brokenness.
Here are a few quotes I wanted to pass along on the perils of gospel-lite or gospel-less introspection:
If our goal is to discover, analyze, and root out every aspect of sinfulness in our hearts, then we will never come to the end of the task.
Satan loves to take the tender conscience and stir up doubt of salvation, doubt of sanctification, and doubt of progression in holiness. Then, he turns the gaze of the introspective person inward, where the dark recesses of our hearts continue to lead to darker recesses still. Instead of living in the shining light of gospel truth, the gospel that dispels all this darkness and grants us a new heart, we travel deeper and deeper into the cavernous rooms of our remaining sin.
We will never be effective missiologically if the main source of our energy is spent rooting out every sinful tendency we have in our hearts. There is no end to discovering our depravity. The paradoxical truth is that the more we rest in the goodness of our Savior, the more progress we make in our fight against sin.
Trevin Wax tweeted this today:
The beauty of assurance is undercut when we stress “the fruit of sanctification more than the fact of justification.”
Somewhere along the way we’ve managed to convince ourselves that the focus of the New Testament is the personal holiness of the Christian. We’re encouraged to look at ourselves and how we’re doing in our sanctification for our assurance instead of looking outside of ourselves to what Jesus has accomplished for us and placed into our account. We’re encouraged to focus on our sin and point out the sin of those around us because we’re supposed to be getting better at this whole Christian life thing. Were told that if we’re not improving, maybe we’re not Christians at all.
If you want to struggle with assurance, or lose your assurance altogether, keep your Read the rest of this entry »
An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of their doctrine for their standing with God rather than on God himself and his grace. It is a subtle but deadly mistake. The sign that you have slipped into this form of self-justification is that you become what the book of Proverbs calls a scoffer. Scoffers always show contempt and disdain (ether inwardly or outwardly) for opponents rather than graciousness. This is a sign that they do not see themselves as sinners saved by grace. Instead, they trust in the rightness of their view (which) makes them feel superior. -Tim Keller
I love to read Tim Keller on idols. He goes straight to my heart in a good and much needed way.
These quotes really spoke to me. Nothing robs us of our joy faster than fixing our gaze on our performance. They’re from Tullian Tchividjian’s latest book, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free.
Think about it: Do you walk out of church feeling burdened or comforted? Does your pastor direct you inward or outward? Does the worship service revolve around the Christian or Christ?
When the goal becomes conquering our sin instead of soaking in the conquest of our Savior, we actually begin to shrink spiritually.
I thought this was insightful and well worth sharing. How true it is…
A lot of Christian fellowship, Bible studies, and focus groups in the church are little more than efforts to fix one another. We become obsessive over fixing one another, almost to the point of mass hysteria. No wonder pagans don’t want to be around us. -Steve Brown, A Scandalous Freedom, p.90
Paul Tripp has said that most of the strategies for Christian growth amount merely to “rose-stapling techniques.” Give away more money. Be more serious about your sin. Be more disciplined in your life. Read your Bible and have accountability partners. Go to a small group. Spiritual disciplines have their place (we’ll get to that later). But nothing can take the place of organic change in the heart. – JD Greear, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Rick Thomas posted this great piece on his web site on January 16, 2012. Enjoy!
Sandra has struggled all her life with people pleasing. She said she could not remember a time when she was free from thinking about what others thought about her. The way she dresses, the car she drives, the technology she carries, and the house she owns are all controlled to some degree by what others think of her.
A Peek into her Life
- She is fanatical about working out because of her keen awareness of what a “nice looking body” should look like.
- On a few occasions she has caught herself stretching the truth. She says she spins her stories because the real story doesn’t seem as interesting.
- She is fearful of bringing a bag lunch to the office because everyone else goes out to a local restaurant to eat. She’d rather go into debt than feeling like the odd man out.
- She has a low-grade anger toward her boyfriend because he pressured her to have sex with him. She believed he would leave her if she didn’t have sex. She needs to be loved by someone. Having a boyfriend is one of her ways of feeling significant.
Her biblical counselor quickly discerned that her problem was fear of man (Proverbs 29:25). The counselor told her she needed to be more concerned with pleasing God rather than others.
From there, the counselor laid out a plan of prayer, Bible study, and service oriented activities in order for her to Read the rest of this entry »
I’m reading a book by Tullian Tchividjian called Glorious Ruin. I’ve only read the introduction and chapter one and its already rocking my world. Tullian knows what it means to suffer and he doesn’t offer pat answers for those who are suffering. I can’t wait to finish it but until then, here is a taste of what its like:
We are not responsible for finding the right formula to combat or unlock our suffering. The good news of the gospel does not consist of theological assertions or some elaborate religious how-to manual. The good news is Jesus Himself, the Man of Sorrows, the crucified God who meets us in our grief. Indeed, information, even information about Jesus, is relatively useless when it comes to the aching soul. Only the Holy Spirit can comfort a person in the depths of grief. Neil Young claims that “only love can break your heart.” But only God can heal it.
How many times have I offered up pat answers to someone else’s pain? How many times have I quoted Romans 8:28 to someone in the midst of a dark trial? How many times have I had a list of things for someone to do so that they could “get right with God”? Only God knows this and I cling to the truth that I am forgiven for my brutality toward other brothers and sisters. He took me into my own deep waters of pain and suffering to teach me that He meets me in my sorrow. It’s the precious work of the Holy Spirit to bring soothing balm to a wounded spirit. How great is that? There is still much pain, much sorrow in my heart but He is with me, showing me his love and acceptance. I can’t wait to read more of this book.
We can’t make much of Jesus as long as we view the gospel as a doctrine to be intellectually mastered. It’s so much more. It’s the power of God and it masters us. If I relegate the gospel to just another doctrine, I make much of myself and I feed my ego because at some point, I convince myself I’ve mastered it. But that’s impossible.
John the Baptist nailed it when he said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is a gospel-centered sanctification and it begins when the gospel becomes more than another doctrine. And that only happens when the Holy Spirit breathes anew on our prideful, self-centered hearts.
I’m listing to Tullian Tchivijian’s excellent podcasts on the book of Galatians. The series is entitled Free at Last and this morning I listened to part 4. It knocked my spiritual socks off because it described how I used to be perfectly. Here are a few quotes,
We think it’s honoring to God when we spiritually navel gaze – when we dive into the depths of our internal life and we wade around in there. We think that it’s actually a good thing. That it’s honoring to God.
We’re not just discovering the first layer of sin, but the second layer of sin, and we spend our lives trying to plumb the depths of the layer under the layer, under the layer, under the layer. And just in case you’re not interested in doing that, real Christian accountability and friendship is that you’ll be surrounded with people who for the rest of your life, will do it for you.
So often, this is our default position. It was mine for years. Policing my own sin and the sin of others became my identity and preoccupation. It was in the midst of that, that God in his mercy brought some severe trials our way in order to bring us to gospel centeredness where we took our eyes off of our performance and the performance of those around us, and by his grace, fixed them on Jesus and his performance for us (Hebrews 12:2).
Here’s a concluding quote from this podcast that described me and the wrong thinking that is behind so much of our spiritual navel-gazing:
We’ll never be free until our lifelong fear that God is keeping score, collapses.
This quote is from Scotty Smith’s prayer that he posted this morning on the Gospel Coalition web site. He said,
You’re the great warrior of the heart, who has come to overthrow the reign of sin by the reign of grace.
We make a big mistake when we think we can conquer sin apart from the grace given us in the gospel. The reign of sin is only conquered by the reign of grace and never by redoubling our efforts or trying harder to do things better. The Apostle John said this,
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)
John’s inspired solution to sin is grace. He doesn’t pile rules and law on us to bolster our performance so that we stop sinning. He loads us up with more grace. He doesn’t say, “Well, what are you reading?”, “Who are you meeting with?”, “Are you practicing hospitality?”, “How’s your prayer life?”, or “Are you in an accountability group?”. He pushes us back toward our Advocate and Substitute.
Lest we think Scripture is inconsistent on this, Paul said the same thing,
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)
The reign of grace is the only remedy for the reign of sin. Grace alone teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldy passions, and to say “yes” to living self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age.
I ran across this great quote on the Gospel Coalition website. It’s part of an excerpt from the upcoming book, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free, by Tullian Tchividjian. Check it out:
Make no mistake, in this context, Romans 8:28 can be a bona fide conversation stopper. A spiritual “shut up,” if you will. And lest we think only Christians are prone to such insensitivity, the secular translation, “Don’t worry; it’ll all work out,” is no less ubiquitous. This is classic minimization of suffering.
There’s something in us that minimizes suffering. There’s something in us that has a sense of urgency to move past the suffering and get back to our definition of normal, as though that is the goal. We have good intentions but when you’re suffering, the last thing that brings comfort is pat answers and quick fixes.
I remember a conversation I had with someone several years ago right after my mother died. I was explaining to this person how I anticipated that taking care of my dad was going to be so much harder now and he responded, Read the rest of this entry »
I came across this quote by Tullian Tchividjian recently:
Does your ministry remove pressure or reinforce it? The gospel relieves pressure from sinners, it does not reinforce pressure on sinners.
This grabbed me because in my former days of performancism, putting external pressure on others to change in ways I thought they should change was the norm. If someone was going through a trial, the goal was to get them past it and back to a “normal” life. Performancism offers pat answers and quick fixes that are no fix at all, while leaving little or no room for struggling. If anything outside of our definition of “normal” should occur, the goal is to get back to “normal” as quickly as possible. But God speaks most intimately in our suffering and pain. The Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts the sweetest when we are at our lowest and have come to an end of ourselves. Performancism rushes through that because it’s more concerned with appearance than true growth in the Christian life. Performance-based Christianity is a theology of human glory. Tullian mentions,
“Theologies of glory” are approaches to Christianity (and to life) that try in various ways to minimize difficult and painful things, or to move past them rather than looking them square in the face and accepting them. Theologies of glory acknowledge the cross, but view it primarily as a means to an end—an unpleasant but necessary step on the way to personal improvement, the transformation of human potential. As Luther puts it, the theologian of glory “does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glory to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil.” The theology of glory is the natural default setting for human beings addicted to control and measurement. This perspective puts us squarely in the driver’s seat, after all.”
A few days ago, my bride and I were talking about how just a few years ago, we never gave the gospel a second thought. It was something we no longer needed because we were already saved. Living our lives with a daily sensitivity to the gospel was something we didn’t do and didn’t even understand. We didn’t know we weren’t doing it and we didn’t even recognize a need to keep the gospel front and center. We were blind to that. But then the Holy Spirit began a work in us that opened our eyes and hearts to the ongoing need to be gospel centered.
I couldn’t imagine going back to that old way of thinking because looking back, I see how it zapped me of my joy and made me critical of myself and others. My theology was at the center of my life and because of that, there was always pressure to look the way people thought I should look and to say things the way people thought I should say them. Pride and false humility ruled the day. When I was doing things right, I became proud; when I wasn’t performing up to the standard set for me, I was driven by guilt. But the gospel has stripped those masks away and made me free to be me, free to fail, and free to be real, because I am loved by God unconditionally in Jesus. The gospel alone gives me the power I need to live.
Life’s hard enough to live remembering the gospel. I couldn’t imagine living life that way again, with no gospel clarity or thought of it’s impact and power in the present. That seems so foreign to me now. Thank you Jesus!
These are some great gospel-centered quotes by Steve Brown that encouraged me again today.
How is it that being forgiven has made us feel so guilty, being loved has made us so uptight, and being free has made us so bound? How did sinners who have been forgiven repeatedly become judges?
When I am obsessed with being better instead of being consumed with God’s love and grace, I become prideful if I can pull it off and self-centered if I can’t.
God chose to be my friend not to make me better but because he wanted to be my friend. Rather than obsessing about my goodness, God asks me to hang out with him and see where he leads me. He promises that he will never leave me or forsake me. So I can quit worrying about getting behind in my holiness and sanctification. The more I worry about that, the worse I’m going to get, but the more I abide with him, the better I’ll get—even if I don’t know it.
The description under this message by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt says it all,
For all of you who have been given morality lessons instead of the Gospel, hear how Dr. Rod Rosenbladt (of White Horse Inn radio program fame) succinctly presents Christianity as first and foremost a genuine truth claim about Christ as our righteous substitute, instead of a never ending list of popular religious recipes for personal success.
If you’ve struggled with your faith in your church because of what you’re seeing and hearing (and maybe don’t even go to church anymore), you don’t want to miss this powerful address — an unabashed analysis of the church today and what it is doing to many believers — from one who has experienced it himself.
If that describes you and your experience, I hope you find encouragement here:
Ray Ortlund has written an excellent piece touching on the topic of being wronged by a church’s sin and how to respond. I think this article is well-balanced and much needed. If you’ve had similar experiences to those Ortlund mentions, I hope you find this helpful. Ortlund said,
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” Colossians 3:15
The tsunami of sin flooding the world today touches us all. We add to it. We suffer from it. It is flooding our churches.
If somehow we could all get together and gently swap stories, my hunch is we would be shocked at the mistreatment that has been dished out to many of us by churches – both by abusive leaders and by abusive members. There is, of course, a difference between being hurt and being harmed. I am not thinking of people who get their feathers ruffled and then howl their complaints. I am thinking of people who have been harmed and wronged, people who have suffered slander, lies, loss of position, loss of reputation, loss of friends, and more. Many reading this post have suffered in these and other ways. It is shocking what Read the rest of this entry »
Pride is at the root of performance Christianity. Pride drives performancism. It puts me at the center of my life and my identity gets wrapped up in my performance. My sanctification takes center stage in performancism and I start to think that my sanctification is the focus of the Christian life. In performancism, I find my identity and worth in myself and how I’m doing at any given moment, instead of in God. In performance Christianity, my sanctification is at the center of my Christian experience.
Building my identity and sense of worth on my performance and sanctification instead of on Jesus and his grace, is idolatry. It’s putting something other than Jesus at the center of my life and finding my identity there. It’s allowing my performance to measure me instead of resting in the finished work of Jesus in my place. It’s turning John the Baptist’s words on their head and insisting instead that “I must increase” (John 3:30). Performancism is prideful self-idolatry.
Tullian Tchividjian continues to bless me with his writings and preaching. One of his latest posts appears on the Christianity Today web site and is entitled, Blessed Self-Forgetfulness. In this piece, he fleshes out our bent toward thinking that the Christian life is about the Christian and his/her sanctification. Here’s what he said,
The way many of us think about sanctification is, well, not very sanctified. In fact, it’s downright narcissistic. We think about how we’re doing, if we’re growing, whether we’re doing it right or not. We spend too much time brooding over our failures and reflecting on our successes. We seem to believe that the focus of the Christian faith is the life of the Christian.
Reflecting this common assumption, someone who was frustrated with something I had written said to me not long ago, “Don’t you know that the focus of the New Testament is the personal holiness of the Christian?”
What? Seriously? To keep calm, I replayed Read the rest of this entry »
This quote from Michael Horton surfaced on my Twitter feed yesterday. It rocked my thinking. He said,
If the focus of our testimony is our changed life, we as well as our hearers are bound to be disappointed.
Somehow we’ve come to think that the Christian life is all about the Christian. We’ve somehow concluded that this whole thing is about us, our performance, and how we’re doing. We’ve self-centralized the message of the gospel to be about us and our performance.
That used to be my way of thinking. My assurance was tied to how I was doing at any given moment. If my assurance lacked, the counsel I received from others amounted to a to-do list. Questions like, “What are you reading?” “Who are you meeting with?” and “Are you practicing hospitality?” were commonplace. In other words, you Read the rest of this entry »
This post appears as its own page on our site but I wanted to make it a blog post too. If you haven’t read it yet, enjoy!
Everything changed for me in January of 1973. I lived in a small town in northern Arizona where I was supposed to be in my senior year of high school, but I had dropped out a couple of months prior. I don’t recommend that experience. Jesus gripped my heart and I became a believer at a Saturday night concert at the original Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa California. The concert was in a big circus tent that had been set up on the property while a new building was being built. The original building was just down the street. For obvious reasons, I have a lot of fond memories of Read the rest of this entry »