Archive for August, 2008
God has, once again, blessed my family above and beyond what we could imagine. One of the most significant commitments we’ve made to starting Second Mile is moving into the community. Within three days we had multiple offers on our house and within seven days it was sold. Amazing. I know people who have had their house for sale for almost a year, and ours sold in a week.
Then, while we’ve been homeless, we’ve had the joy of living with our friends Charlie and Bonnie in their basement. It’s a beautiful home with plenty of room and their hospitality has been out-of-this-world. In the meantime, we’ve looked at 25+ homes (almost all of which were short-sales and big-hassles). We offered on three homes that we liked and then it was time to wait. All three were good and one was exactly what we wanted (so we had our prayer team pray that God would provide it).
Well, 6-8 weeks later (while we were still waiting), a new house popped on the market that was a regular sale and, though another person offered $12k more than us, our offer was accepted the first day. Amazingly, this house was even better than the one we had asked everyone to pray for and, ironically, they back up to each other. Today we signed the papers, we get keys Friday, and we move in a week. We are thrilled.
It’s funny…but I don’t know totally how to react to all of this. While the Scripture does say that God sometimes gives us more than we ask or think (Eph 3:20) and that he is a generous Father who loves to give good gifts to his children when they ask (Mt 7:11), I am also aware that I don’t even deserve a house, nor am I owed anything by God. I have never given a gift to God that he should repay me (Ro 11:35). I think the reaction that God wants is for me to enjoy his gifts and to delight in the love of the Giver.
But what has troubled me more than once are the comments that some Christians have made when I have told them this story. They’ll say something like, “Well of course God did that for you” or “What else did you expect?” I think when they say this they are simply trying to celebrate God’s generosity. But I also wonder whether these comments carry the assumption that God must bless me in these temporal ways. God may not always provide the temporal blessings I hope for. I know that there are Christians tonight across the world who have zero temporal comfort and God loves them just as much as me.
In conclusion, this experience has taught me to celebrate the blessings of God and to enjoy them, but also to never demand or presume that I must have them. I have Jesus. He is more blessing than I will ever get my arms around and I want him to be enough.
In preparation for our first sermon series, I’m studying the Gospel of Mark. This past week I came across this quote by Rebecca Pippert that I think is quite important:
“What does it mean, then, to allow Jesus to be Lord of our lives?…Just this: whatever controls us is our lord. The person who seeks power is controlled by power. The person who seeks acceptance is controlled by the people he or she wants to please. We do not control ourselves. We are controlled by the lord of our life. If Jesus is our Lord, then he is the one who controls, he has the ultimate power. There are no bargains. We cannot manipulate him by playing ‘let’s make a deal.’ If he is Lord, the only option open to us is to do his will, to let him have control. [Of course] Jesus remains Lord whether we accept him or not. His lordship, his essence, is not affected by what we choose. But our lives are drastically changed by our choice.”
There is nothing sweeter and better than surrendering your heart to Jesus and acknowledging his moment-by-moment control of your life.
One sermon that I go back to repeatedly is Tim Keller’s “The Gospel and Yourself,” which is a terrific message on Isaiah 6. The big concept is that there’s a difference between experiencing God as a concept and as a reality. I think you’ll be encouraged.
For more Tim Keller resources, click here.
I read something in Hebrews yesterday that struck me as interesting. Hebrews 5:7 says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” The word reverence is also translated as “devotion,” “piety,” and “reverent submission.” In other words, Jesus was heard by his Father because of his obedience and absolutely holy life.
It struck me that I will never, ever relate to God this way. While Jesus related to God on the basis of his own piety, I must always rely on the piety of another. I am never good enough, devoted enough, or reverent enough to approach God on my own.
Nonetheless, God does hear me. I know he does. Why, you ask? Because of Jesus. Though I can’t approach God on my own, I do “have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Heb 10:19). God is continually answering my prayers in amazing ways. And it’s all because of Jesus. What a Savior!
Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”
Well, it might seem that death is an obvious joy-killer. After all, we have all experienced the pain that comes in losing a loved one or a close friend. Death, and especially eternal death in hell, are major obstacles to everlating joy.
But it’s not just death itself that robs our joy — it’s also the process. The process of getting old, creaky, wrinkly, saggy, and diseased is a huge joy-killer. All of this is the result of living in a world that is wasting away because of sin. As it is, all creation is subject to “bondage to corruption” (Rom 8:21). This process of dying is an unstoppable force and robs millions of their joy. So, where is the hope to overcome death?
Of course, this hope is in Jesus. The author of Hebrews says that since Jesus took on a human body and entered into death himself, he destroyed the power of death and frees us from the never-ending fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). Those who love Christ will never die (John 11:26). This is the great news of the gospel. Everlasting joy is given to those who love Jesus and approach him in faith.
Last night’s informational meeting was another success. Many people from the launch team came early to help out and there was a good turnout of people interested in what we’re doing. Another 9 people committed to be part of the team and many others are still praying through it. Plus, being on campus at ASU Poly added another great dimension and made us all look forward to days to come.
For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a copy of the handout from the meeting.
Praise God. He is good and he is building his church.
Tomorrow is the Second Mile Church info meeting from 7:00-8:30pm in the ASU Polytechnic Student Union (Ballroom C). Directions are here — just come to the main entrance and follow the signs. We’ll have all the latest updates and a chance to meet some additional leaders.
If you can’t make it, please pray that God would help us communicate clearly and bring along the people he wants there. We are intent on being a church that makes a difference in Queen Creek and the Williams Gateway community and this is an important step.
Galatians 3:26 says something amazing:
“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
It’s common for people today to say something like, “We’re all children of God.” They mean that we’re all created by God, which is true. But the title of “children” or “sons” is reserved for those who have placed their faith in Christ.
What an incredible title! Anyone who’s a parent knows the love and joy you have in your children. Just think — God has that same joy over his sons and daughters!
May your faith be in Jesus and may you know the delight of being God’s loved child.
As a follow up to my post on Idolatry as a Joy-Killer, I wanted to refer you to this post by my friend and fellow church planter, Chris Gonzalez. He is planting Tempe City Church, will also be part of the Acts29 Network, and is a dear brother who loves Jesus, mission, and the supremacy of God over all things.
His post, “Idols of the Heart,” has some helpful resources that you’ll want to take a look at as you seek to fight for joy in Christ.