Thursday, December 30, 2010

The end of the year Quadfecta!

Do you have days where it seems like you read something and then it connects to something else... and if that were not coincidental enough a 3rd thing comes into your sphere and you ask yourself... "I wonder if there is a theme here?" Or perhaps, "Is there something that I should be learning in all of this...?" According to the little assessment tool "Strengths Finders" one of my Top 5 strengths is "connectedness" where I see how things are connected and work together. So... perhaps this has something to do with how my brain works. In any case, perhaps this may be helpful to someone else as you consider where God is leading into 2011...

Well... there are 4 things that seem to be connected here... A virtual Quadfecta!
Urban Dictionary (to which I will not link because of questionable material on the site) refers to a quadfecta as a Beer-pong shot that lands on the tops of 4 cups...

That is NOT what I mean here.

As I have been reflecting on the year 2010 and thinking about 2011 I recalled a message from Pastor Matt Chandler that I heard in September of 2009 that really challenged me. I think I even blogged about it in two parts
PART 1 and PART 2 or if you want to listen to the message fresh from Chandler you can hear it HERE.

Much of it dealt with a Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, humility-pursuing, non-self-glorifying approach to life and ministry and our need to be content that the Gospel is about Jesus and we are invited to play our part in His story.

Matt Chandler Sermon re-visited... Part 1.

This got me thinking about how there are principles to which we (church folks/pastors/leaders) subscribe for effective leadership, or casting vision, or building the kingdom often end up becoming twisted somehow.

Leadership principles without a Gospel core are just business... vision that loses sight of God's greater purposes of Gospel expansion in our neighborhoods and in the world and become small visions of our own glory pursuits... or striving for a kingdom with a small "k" in which we sit on our own little thrones...

Then... a couple of weeks ago one of the guys on our leadership team mentioned he was reading a book called
Radical: Taking back your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. At first hearing of the title I was dismissive. I assumed it was another book in the long list of folks who want to throw stones at the Church instead of helping her and serving her by being part of her and loving God and others from within her... but i was wrong. I started a little research and found that David Platt loves the Church and pleads with Christians to be careful not to see "the American Dream" of "the pursuit of happiness" as an end in and of itself... but rather the pursuit of Christ and a love for God and Love for others as paramount. So... the Holy Spirit continued his work of conviction in my heart and I just ordered the book. It should be here tomorrow.

Radical by David Platt... Part 2.

Some were passing through Fargo on their way back to Seminary after a Christmas break with family. A young man and his wife. It was great to be able to see them and get/give updates on life in the last year or two... but more importantly, as they got back in their car and I packed up my bag to head home for dinner my heart was encouraged and challenged. This couple was pursuing practical Gospel-ministry while in the midst of a rigorous academic schedule... in an environment (like many seminaries) where the pursuit of knowledge and the academic process are held in high regard... sometime too high.

They, like so many others are almost given permission to dis-engage from "mission" while they "fill up" on all they need to know for mission later... only many of them find their "muscles" for Gospel-mission have often atrophied... Now, I'm not taking a cheap shot at Seminaries or students. In fact, this very couple praised many mentors and professors for practicing the Truths they were teaching... which is highly commendable! The POINT is that the more I fill my mind/heart with the Truth of the Word and knowledge of the Gospel the more I SHOULD be moved to mission for the sake of that Gospel and in pursuit of its expansion! My heart was refreshed and challenged by our time with these friends. Thank you.

Gospel Word moves us toward Gospel Mission.
Conversation with friends... Part 3

And finally... the quad of the quadfecta.

I read this article by Kevin DeYoung called "The Glory of Plodding". He says that we are often not content faithfully plodding along carrying the vision of Gospel expansion because that is boring and we want to be revolutionaries. But what the world and the church need is faithful men and women... committed to the scriptures... committed to the Gospel of Jesus... committed to the Church... and committed to the world around them.

The Glory of Plodding... Part 4

So... what do:

1 - a 2009 Matt Chandler conference message
2 - a book I haven't read yet (did I mention it is coming tomorrow... so then I'll start)
3 - a visit with some friends
4 - an article from a PCA pastor (who has written some good books by the way)
all have in common?

My prayer as I think, read, listen, pray, & plan toward 2011...

God, thank you for your kindness. Would it lead me to greater repentance? Would you fix my gaze on you so that I would not turn aside to lesser things? Would you give me a bold and courageous vision for Gospel expansion in this city and in my own heart? Would you give me faith to pray and ask for you to do impossible things to bring yourself glory here in this city? God, would you help me to play my part well... love Jesus faithfully, pastor my family well, care for your people here at River City... for your name to be great...

Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

There is a Peace

Seeing as how I am the most inconsistent blogger I know, I might un-tag myself as a blogger and re-tag myself as someone who occasionally has a thought that he feels other people need to read...

In any case... I'm working on getting back at it with this whole blog thing. Specifically with putting up music for worship and working through the ins and outs of it for personal and corporate worship.

Today's track is from Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY. We sing a number of their songs at River City here in Fargo. We haven't done this one yet but I've been listening to and reflecting on this one over the past two days. Below you'll find the text to the song and a link to myspace so you can listen to it. (Sorry I had to link to myspace... yuk.) Then below that will be a link to iTunes where you can purchase & download the song or the whole album (highly recommended) and then some of my own thoughts on the song.

There Is A Peace - Charlie Richardson

Come, weary and tired, worn out from life
Step out of the shadows and walk into light
Come, sinner or saint, slave-man or free
Bring blessings and offerings, then you shall you see
Won’t you bring blessings and offerings, then you shall see

There is a peace to settle your soul
There is a peace that is calling you home

You’ve been tempted and shaken, tested and failed
You’ve been so far from Jesus and too close to hell
Your vision’s been clouded by the world’s delight
But I tell you, you’re not of this world, so stand up and fight
He said you’re not of this world, so stand up and fight

There is a peace to settle your soul’
There is a peace that is calling you home
There is a peace, perfect and true
The Prince of Peace is calling for you


Listen HERE (click on "There is a Peace")


This a great call to response song. It sounds like Isaiah 55 or Jesus in Matthew 11... "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Jesus' call to the broken is clear and strong... you are broken and needy and I am a good shepherd who will welcome you into my fold! "Come sinner or saint, slave man or free..." Even in this call to "come to Jesus, the salvation is initiated by the one who saves... not the one being called. That is so important!

Even at the end of the first verse where the song says, "Bring blessings and offerings..." You might be thinking, "now wait a minute... I have to bring something? If I bring something to the table of salvation it isn't grace is it?"

If you brought something to your own salvation... yes... it wouldn't be free and it wouldn't be grace. However, it sounds a LOT like this from Malachi 3, "He [God's Christ] will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord."

HE purifies and thus makes the offerings pure. They are not righteous because of their offerings... their offerings are not righteous before they are offered... they are made pure by the righteous one receiving them!

So good. This one is a great song of reflection on the Gospel and could be good for communion or after the challenge of a well-preached sermon calling people to Jesus...

I really appreciate so much of the music that is coming out of Sojourn. I'd love your thoughts?