a great story

book1-1

One of the connections that God has made possible in our life as His people is the connection to the greater story.  We connect to the epic story of God.  Because we belong to Him through Christ, His story is ours, and our story becomes His.

The Apostle Paul writes, “You are sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ….  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 4:26-29).

We can trace our spiritual lineage to the promise and action of God at work within humanity because in Christ we are a part of the greater story.

Hebrews 11 is a chapter that we love dearly.  Great heroes of faith are placed before us systematically one right after the other.  By faith Noah….  By faith Abraham….  By faith Isaac….  By faith Jacob….  By faith Moses….  Immediately when their names are mentioned we know their stories.  We know their history.  We know the magnificent ways in which God worked through the lives they lived.  And yet somehow the writer of Hebrews declares that “only together with us are they made complete” (Hebrews 11:40).  Because the story lives on in us in radically revealed ways, as those who live this side of the cross of Jesus.

We love a story.

Think about the books we read or movies we watch or stories we tell.

We love a great story.

The Gospel is the greatest story ever told.

It is a story that continues to be told.

It is a story that continues to be written.

Because we are a part of it’s legacy.

Glory to God!

Jason

our commitment to the Kingdom

prayer

To what degree are we committed to the Kingdom of God? For many the answer resonates quickly. Commitment is readily affirmed. But I’m talking specifically about what is revealed in our actions. Do our actions demonstrate a commitment to the Kingdom? Or, do they demonstrate something wholly different than perhaps we even feel within?

Christianity is, by design, relational. Our relationship with God. Our relationship with others. With His church. With the world. As in any relationship, what is within must be expressed in order for it to be truly valid. Too often in many personal relationships the goodness that is within is scarcely expressed. At least, it isn’t conveyed well enough. What I mean is this… sometimes a husband and father may in his heart love his family. He truly believes he loves them. And in his heart of hearts, he does. But somehow that love stays inside. He may within himself feel that he loves his family. And the family may witness glimpses of that love. But primarily what they experience is a dad who is tired all the time, complains a lot, never seems satisfied, and for the most part wants little to do with the interworking of the home and gives a sense that he just wants to be left alone.

As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”

The same can be said of faith. The evidence of our commitment to the Kingdom is revealed not by what is within, but rather by what is expressed through intentional action in our lives.

In Galatians 5:22 the Apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Paul says to us, “This is what it looks like when the Spirit of God resides within you. Love is revealed. Joy is made evident. Peace sooths from within. Patience is a constant. Kindness is our natural response. Goodness is pursued. Faithfulness is what we are about. Gentleness is the norm. Self-control is a given.” And if we think things through, as God orchestrates the design of Scripture, it is the Spirit Himself, guiding Paul’s pen, saying to us, “This is what it looks like when I live within you.”

Second Century Apologist, Irenaeus, writes: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” I cannot help but think our being “fully alive” is conditioned by our relationship with God through Christ, an acute awareness of God, and by our commitment to the Kingdom.

Glory to God!

Jason

satan’s native language

No Devils Allowed Sign

“When Satan lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar, the father of lies.” – John 8:44

As Christians I believe we easily acknowledge that Satan has one mission: To separate us from God.  That’s his mission.

“The thief comes to steal, kill, and to destroy.” – John 10:10

As believers we readily confess we have one mission: To connect others with God.  That’s our mission.

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Satan never ceases in his attempts to derail our lives, our faith, our eternity.  However, not only is the enemy seeking to alienate us from God, he also attempts in every way to interfere in our relationships with one another.  To distance us from one another.  To create animosity or stress or distrust or anxiety within the community of faith.  Why?  Because it impedes our effectiveness.

He’s the “father of lies” remember?  He is the deceiver.  If he can convince us that disharmony (not disagreement, but disharmony) is acceptable, it limits our effective witness in the world.  When he is successful in deceiving us and convincing us that the enemy is a fellow believer with whom we have disagreement, the father of lies is “speaking his native language.”  Satan wants nothing more than to stifle momentum in Christ’s church.  And very often he accomplishes this not through outright sinful behavior, but by diverting our attention, and cloaking divisiveness in the shroud of religiousness.  The tension is such that if you’re not a part of the solution, you’re a part of the problem.  When we allow the father of lies to whisper in our ears, we serve as conduits, as he shouts from the rooftops.  And very often, through well-meaning believers misguided in who the enemy truly is.

“If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other.” – Galatians 5:15

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

Why do we so often play into Satan’s hand?

Glory to God!

Jason

evidence of our commitment

To what degree are we committed to the Kingdom of God?  For many the answer resonates quickly.  Commitment is readily affirmed.  But I’m talking specifically about what is revealed in our actions.  Do our actions demonstrate a commitment to the Kingdom?  Or, do they demonstrate something wholly different than perhaps we even feel within?

Christianity is, by design, relational.  Our relationship with God.  Our relationship with others.  With His church.  With the world.  As in any relationship, what is within must be expressed in order for it to be truly valid.  Too often in many personal relationships the goodness that is within is scarcely expressed.  At least it isn’t conveyed well enough.  What I mean is this… sometimes a husband and father may in his heart love his family.  He truly believes he loves them.  And in his heart of hearts, he does.  But somehow that love stays inside.  He may within himself feel that he loves his family.  And the family may witness glimpses of that love.  But primarily what they experience is a dad who is tired all the time, complains a lot, never seems satisfied, and for the most part wants little to do with the interworking of the home and gives a sense that he just wants to be left alone.

As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”

The same can be said of faith.  The evidence of our commitment to the Kingdom is revealed not by what is within, but rather by what is expressed through intentional action in our lives.

In Galatians 5:22 the Apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Paul says to us, “This is what it looks like when the Spirit of God resides within you.  Love is revealed.  Joy is made evident.  Peace sooths from within.  Patience is a constant.  Kindness is our natural response.  Goodness is pursued.  Faithfulness is what we are about.  Gentleness is the norm.  Self-control is a given.”  And if we think things through, as God orchestrates the design of Scripture, it is the Spirit Himself, guiding Paul’s pen, saying to us, “This is what it looks like when I live within you.”

Second Century Apologist, Irenaeus, writes: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”  I cannot help but think our being “fully alive” is conditioned by our relationship with God through Christ, an acute awareness of God, and by our commitment to the Kingdom.

Glory to God!

Jason

being church

Suppose an individual or family moves to a new town and begins to look for a new church home.  One of the questions they may ask themselves is: “What are we looking for in a church?”  It’s a valid question.  And one that is answered in the way in which we serve and minister and worship and experience life together as a family of God.

But what about those who are unchurched?  What questions are those who have little or no experience with Christ asking?  What are they looking for in His people?  What are they looking for in the lives of those who are profess faith?

They are searching for something that no other pursuit in this life offers: Jesus.  And they’re so desperately needing to see Him (whether they realize it or not) in you.  And in me.

Our friend the Apostle Paul writes in Galatians, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through adherence to the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:20-21).

Later on in the Galatian letter he declares, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).

What I understand him communicating to us is the one thing that sets Christians apart.  The crucified life.  Not merely a voice that acknowledges “Jesus is Lord,” but a life that declares “Jesus is Lord.”

Where else are they going to see it, unless they see it in us?  Unless they see it in a people who seek to deny ourselves with a bigger picture in mind.  Who intentionally, daily take up our cross and follow Jesus.  Unless they see it in a church that’s through with “doing church” and is committed to “being church.”

Glory to God!

Jason

the greater story

One of the connections that God has made possible in our life as His people is the connection to the greater story.  We connect to the epic story of God.  Because we belong to Him through Christ, His story is ours, and our story becomes His.  The Apostle Paul writes, “You are sons and daughters of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ….  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 4:26-29).  We can trace our spiritual lineage to the promise and action of God at work within humanity because in Christ we are a part of the greater story.

Hebrews 11 is a chapter that we love dearly.  Great heroes of faith are placed before us systematically one right after the other.  By faith Noah….  By faith Abraham….  By faith Isaac….  By faith Jacob….  By faith Moses….  Immediately when their names are mentioned we know their stories.  We know their history.  We know the magnificent ways in which God worked through the lives they lived.  And yet somehow the writer of Hebrews declares that “only together with us are they made complete” (Hebrews 11:40).  Because the story lives on in us in radically revealed ways, as those who live this side of the cross of Jesus.

We love a story.  Think about the books we read or movies we watch or stories we tell.  We love a great story.  The Gospel is the greatest story ever told.  And we are a part of it’s legacy.

Glory to God!

Jason