Monthly Archives: July 2012
Tim Chester, The author of the Gospel-Centred Life and creator of the 4 Gs, recently finished a series of blog posts on the book of Titus and Church Planting. I’ve been catching a few of his posts and decided to go through them over the next two weeks as a daily devotion. This would be a good things for any of us in our church plant to do at some point. To make it easier on me, and anyone else who’d like to study Titus with me, I’ve put links to Chester’s posts below.
- Titus for Church Planters 1
- Titus for Church Planters 2
- Titus for Church Planters 3
- Titus for Church Planters 4
- Titus for Church Planters 5
- Titus for Church Planters 6
- Titus for Church Planters 7
- Titus for Church Planters 8
- Titus for Church Planters 9
- Titus for Church Planters 10
- Titus for Church Planters 11
- Titus for Church Planters 12
- Titus for Church Planters 13
- Titus for Church Planters 14
- Titus for Church Planters 15
- Titus for Church Planters 16
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I recently watched a short video from Desiring God, with John Piper and Tim Keller, entitled, More on Sanctification from Piper and Keller. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think the video was all that great. There were too many incomplete thoughts and jumping around. Yet I did find it helpful when they were speaking about how to avoid sin. Keller refers to reading the great Puritan theologian, John Owen’s, book, The Mortification of Sin. Keller says he learned from Owen that there are two main motivations not to sin: Guilt and Danger.
Guilt: This is grief before God. As you are sinning or am about to sin, ask yourself: Is this how I respond to what Jesus has done? Is this a proper way to live after Jesus died to free me from such things? This is really what Joseph said to himself when he had an opportunity to sleep with Potiphar’s wife, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God” (Gen 39:9).
Danger: Danger is looking at the short-term and the long-term consequences of your sin. This is really focusing on what is going to happen to you. If Joseph were also thinking of the danger of sleeping with his master’s wife, he could have also said, “Potiphar could kill me or put me in prison” as an added motivation not to sin.
The guilt motivation is the prefered motivation for a Christian because it is based off of the love of God. Ideally, we should stay away from sin because God is so amazing and wonderful, and has loved us so much, that we don’t want to sin and disappoint Him. Yet, at times we don’t think like that so we need to remember the danger of our sin as well. Keller uses two examples here. He says if he’s lusting and wishing to look at porn, sometimes he has to remember to dangers of the shame he’ll feel if he gets caught and the damage he’ll cause to his marriage and to his congregation. Likewise, Keller says, if you lift a stone to knock someone over the head, If the Guilt doesn’t motivate you to not kill the person, go to the danger, the consequences, anything you can to change the course of your actions.
Thinking of Tim Chester, and his 4 G’s, a third motivation on avoiding sin would be similar to the Guilt motivation that Keller mentions. Yet the motivation is not simply that I don’t want to dissapoint God but that what God offers is better, greater, and more important than anything I can have here.
When you’re faced with sin, what motivates you to change course?
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One of the Greatest aids to my spiritual growth over the last couple years are the 4 G’s, outlined in Tim Chester’s book, You Can Change. Chester says that All Sin and Negative emotions are the result of not believing some truth about God. Sin and Negative Emotions happen when we believe lies, and the lie of Satan, instead. To combat sin and negative emotions we then need to hold up the freeing truth of God. The four truths that Chester suggests are:
1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control
2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others
3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere
4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves
You can see how Chester links each truth to the freedom to us they give to follow God. One area where I find the 4 Gs harder to apply is to Stewardship. Yes, they do apply in part, God is Good so I don’t have to look for my good in what my money and time can give me. God is Great so I don’t have to look to my money and time to give me the power to secure my life. Yet I’ve been looking for another truth that could be memorized that specifically connected to us giving of what we are and have to God’s mission and glory.
The 5th G I suggest is: God is Generous – so I don’t have to cling to what I have. God promises to provide for us as we live for Him. Look at Mark 10: 28-30 where Peter reminded Jesus of everything that he and the other disciples gave up to follow Him:
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields–and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
As we give God will keep giving to provide for our needs and ultimately our eternal need of life with him in a renewed creation.
Paul says, “We are God’s Workmanship, Created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph 2:10). When God asks us to do something, He enables us to it.
2 Corinthians 9:6,8-15 Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously….And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work…
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God; 12 for the rendering of this service not only supplies the wants of the saints but also overflows in many thanksgivings to God.
God generously gives to us so that we might give to others. He supplies all our needs and gives to us what we need to serve others. Sometimes we’re moved by God and asked by God to give what we think we’re unable to give. Yet even then, he provides for us. The Widow at Zarephath gave more than she thought she was able to when she gave the last of her food to feed Elijah, yet God provided for her in greater ways than she could imagine. In John 6:9 the disciples forgot the truth that God was Generous and they didn’t want to serve others because the cost seemed to much for them to bear. Yet they forgot that God was Generous and would bear the cost themselves and supply what they needed to accomplish Jesus’ request to feed the 5000 people who had come to see him. A little boy, with the faith of a child, remembered that God was Generous, so he didn’t have to cling to what he had. He gave up all the food that he had for that day trusting that God could use it to help feed the crowd. The amazing part is that the boy probably ate more than what he had given and they had far more left over than what they started with.
God is Generous – We don’t have to cling to what we have. We don’t have to run after other things either. We can serve others and give of our time, talents, and treasures because God will give us all we need for our well-being and all we need to accomplish his will.
- How often do you give of your time, talents, and treasures? How often do you find yourself serving and sacrificing for others? What positive and negative thoughts do you have when you give and serve others?
- How does remembering God’s generosity give you freedom to be generous?
- What truths do you have to remember about God to give you the freedom to follow him joyfully?
Are there perfect people in this world, in Church? Have you ever been in a church or a crowd where people acted or seemed better than you? If so, how did it make you feel? Did you feel rejected or accepted? Did you feel like there was hope or did you feel hopeless?
Below is a video that was very popular earlier this year entitled, Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.
After watching this video:
- Was the speaker saying, ditch the church and be spiritual on your own? Or was he drawing a different distinction between religion and Jesus?
- How does this speaker define religion? Is he right in doing so? What are your thoughts?
- If there really are no perfect people in church and this world, what should it look like when Christians gather as the church? How should we act in relation to other sinners?
- What hope do you have in a church that is a hospital for the sick that tells people “come as you are no matter what you’ve done or how messy your life is”? What fears do you have?
- How does the Gospel address the fears that we have about showing our sin and about allowing sinful people to be part of our lives and in our church?
As Christians we tend to cloister, separate, ourselves from people who are caught in sin. It’s like they are sick and we want to keep them out of our lives in fear of being infected as well. Yet the truth is, we are all infected. We’re all sick with sin. We all need a doctor, we all need healing to differing degrees and in different ways. Jesus said in Mark 2:17,
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
In our new church we will encounter many people who “don’t have life together” but it’s okay because we don’t have life together as well. We’re all messed up. We’re all sick. We all need a doctor who is well and who can heal us. We all need him. And when we recognize that, we don’t have to hide or pretend. We don’t have to fear other’s judgment, because Jesus was judged on our behalf. We can be open about what we’re struggling with and allow Jesus to serve and to help us through our fellow Christians. And we can help others as well and we can show them that Jesus accepts, loves, and can help change them too, because he’s healed and is still healing us.
No perfect people are allowed in our Church except Jesus because only Jesus is perfect. We can’t pretend we have it all together, and if we think we do we deceive ourselves. Rather, we can all admit we are all sick and we can rest in his healing perfection.
For more about religion and the Gospel check out The Difference between Religion, Irreligion, and the Gospel.
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Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. Pr 23:17-18
I’ve been reading through Proverbs over the last week and this verse seems to sum up the theme of proverbs: to be wise is to see that God is better and the only lasting good. How often I’ve envied sinners in my heart. How often I’ve wanted what was forbidden me because I doubted that God had something better in store. When I’m tempted to secure my own good and pleasure, when my heart starts to yearn for that which it wasn’t meant for, I need to remember that, “God is Good so I don’t have to look elsewhere.”
The brokenness and emptiness that we often feel in this world will never be cured by attaining some other broken and empty thing. This world is fading. This world will one day end and my life here will end as well. Yet while my life will end here, there is surely a hope for me. God sent His Son, Jesus, into this broken world. He repaired my broken relationship with God by paying the debt I owed Him because of my rebellion. One day he’ll also repair this broken world, my broken body, and my broken soul. I’ll experience the ultimate good when God restores all things and I’ll see him face-to-face and live with him forever.
God is Good. I don’t have to look elsewhere. I don’t have to chase fleeting pleasure I can never keep. Rather I can be zealous for God’s good, because his good will last. My hope in His good will not be cut off. There is surely a hope for me. There is surely a hope for us.
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Great thoughts on sharing your faith. I would add that foundational to all of this is to share life regularly with those around you.
I read these on Tim Chester’s blog today and thought it was too good to keep to myself:
- Let people around you know you are a Christian (in a natural, unforced way)
- Ask friends about their faith – and just listen!
- Listen to your friends’ problems – maybe offer to pray for them
- Share your problems with others – testify to how your faith helps you
- Give them a book to read
- Share your story
- Answer objections and questions
- Invite them to a church event
- Offer to read the Bible with them
- Take them to an explore course
The kicker comes in his explanation. These are arranged from 1-10 as a progression. We too often start with numbers 8-10, but we need to start with 1-4 with most people. In fact, he says, we may need to loop through 1-4 multiple times before getting to the later steps. Not only…
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It seems like everybody is jumping on the idea of teaching the Bible as God’s Story. In our Missional Communities, we do this through The Story-Formed Way and through rehursing God’s Story through Creation -> Fall -> Redemption -> Restoration (CFRR). Below is a video by Jerome Gay sharing God’s Story through CFRR:
- What do you think of Jerome’s Presentation?
- What would you add or omit?
- What do you think of the language he uses? What parts are helpful? What part are not?
- What’s the benifit of knowing the Story through Creation -> Fall -> Redemption -> Restoration?
- How is telling God’s work this way better than just telling people about the Cross?
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