Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Highs, Lows...and Glory!

For my devotional this morning, I was in Matthew 16:13-17:5. An up and down passage for Peter...highs and lows...and highs.

First, Jesus pointed out Peter's "glory and honor" as a man blessed by God and as an image-bearer. Jesus greatly honored Peter for his confession of faith in Christ as the Son of God. Calling out or pointing out others' glory and honor gives people great encouragement and strength in life. Such encouragement reminds us who God longs for us to be and also reminds us that by grace we are being restored to the image of Christ.

But, Jesus also let Peter know when he was living as less of a man than he was meant to be. When Peter had a wrong view of the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus, Jesus rebukes him, even saying "Get behind Me, Satan!" Ouch! BUT, what Jesus was really wanting Peter to see, was that he was a better man than he was living and acting out at that moment! Jesus was saying, in effect, "Peter, you're a better man than this! Keep being and becoming the man you were meant to be in grace! Don't fall into the "smaller story" of living a lie! Trust Me and honor Me and expect more from My grace in you!" Jesus was calling forth even more "glory" from Peter.

Now, this is tricky, because, on the one hand, we need to encourage one another. We need to offer each other strength, and the opportunity for life and growth. We need to point out where we see the image of Christ in one another and how we see each other living as we were meant to live. On the other hand, we also need to let people face the possibility of DIScouragement from time to time, when they must realize they are thinking LESS of themselves than God means them to. When we are not living out of the "glory" God has given us in Christ, we need to encourage each other that we are "better men" or better people than how we are acting.

However, when it was all said and done, Jesus again "lifts Peter up" and encourages him once more by honoring Peter through inviting him to join Him on the Mount of Transfiguration.

Of course, the process of repentance and faith continues as Peter acts as less than his glory in Christ again, by saying something stupid about building tents for Jesus and Moses and Elijah! So now, God the Father speaks and says to Peter, in effect, "Shooosh! Be silent! Listen!"

God is ALWAYS calling us to a higher place...to live more and more out of the glory He has shared with us in Christ.

Encouragement. Failure. Rebuke. Repentance. Faith.
Encouragement. Failure. Rebuke. Repentance. Faith....etc

That IS the process of growth in grace.

Live out of your glory...and call others to do the same!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Gospel Pipeline Graphic Takes Shape

I know that for many looking at this graphic, you're thinking, "What????" Please be patient...it will become clear over the next several Sundays of messages...or, over the next several MONTHS of Sundays!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What exactly IS the Gospel Pipeline?

In 2 Peter 3:18, Peter concludes his letter by encouraging us to keep growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, Aslan, the Great Lion, the King (the Christ figure of the stories) encourages His people to go "Further Up and Further In" to Narnia...the "Promised Land" of His love, grace and salvation. The Gospel Pipeline gives us a picture of how the "flow" Further Up and Further In often occurs in a Christian's life.

What follows is the Gospel Pipeline Overview:

Gospel Pipeline Overview

1. Gospel Conversion
Titus 2:11; Titus 3:5--Supernatural Grace regenerates the heart
Grace for the entire Christian life is defined by grace at the start!

2. Gospel Diversion
Titus 2:12, 14—The “Basics” often divert the emphasis from Christ to behaviors
There is a tendency to “leave” the Gospel of Christ and focus on the efforts of man

3. Gospel Perversion
Titus 3:1-2—focus on behaviors often lead to a performance paradigm
We live as if God's delight in us is merited or maintained by our performance rather than through Christ

4. Gospel Reversion
Titus 3:7—grace leads us to revert back to focus on Union with Christ
We revert to the TRUE Basics of the Christian life-Identity in Christ

5. Gospel Aversion
Titus 3:8—our flesh resists grace on many levels
We’ve a built-in aversion to looking to Christ alone for spiritual growth

6. Gospel Insertion
Titus 3:8—insistence upon grace leads to an internalization of grace
Grace overcomes our resistance and we eventually adopt a grace paradigm

7. Gospel Immersion
Titus 3:4—soaking in the truth of God’s love leads to the “Hot Tub”
“Getting used” to grace becomes comfortable…sometimes TOO comfortable

8. Gospel Incursion
Titus 2:11-12—grace leads to a hostile invasion against sin by “Waltzing”
We discover grace is not merely unconditional love but transforming power

9. Gospel Emersion
Titus 2:14—A Gospel lifestyle begins to truly emerge from right motives
Grace leads us to make full use of the Gospel Means of Grace

10. Gospel Dispersion
Titus 2:14--The Gospel begins to flow outside ourselves toward others
Grace leads us to mission: we share grace with the Least and the Lost

11. Gospel Assertion
Titus 2:13; 14—grace leads us to assert that the ultimate aim is God’s glory
Grace, ultimately, is not about me or even mission, but the honor of Christ

12. Gospel Recursion
Titus 2:12-13—grace teaches us we never “arrive” in this life
Grace is how broken people with broken lives live in a broken world

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I'm Not Trying to Hurt You, I'm trying to Help You!

In John 8:36, Christ says, "So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes, "For freedom Christ has set us free." The Gospel frees us FROM guilt, shame, self-condemnation and frees us FOR the abundant life! God has a Father's heart toward us that only desires our good...so why do so many followers of Christ see God as a stern Task-Master and the Christian life as oppressive?

God seems "bewildered," if it were possible, by our thoughts and feelings of oppression: In Jeremiah He says, "Why then do my people say, 'We are free, we will come no more to You?'" (Jer 2:31). God is "grieved" and "bewildered" that His people would rejoice in being "freed" from Him and His ways!

When we see God as oppressive or a Task-Master, it is as if, as Paul writes in Galatians 3:1, that someone has cast a hex on us, or put us under a spell. If we forget the good news of the Gospel of grace, we may misinterpret God's heart in His commands and prohibitions: we may feel as if God is some sort of Cosmic Killjoy. But if we keep the Beauty of Christ and God's Fatherly heart always before our eyes, we will remember that ALL God's commands are an invitation to our highest pleasure; and ALL His prohibitions a warning against our worst nightmares.

Any parent who has ever grieved the foolishness of their own children as they make poor decisions leading to painful consequences, can have great insight into the true heart of our Father in heaven.

I'm reminded of the scene in the Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf is warning Bilbo that he must give up the ring...but the ring exerts its evil influence over Bilbo and he goes a little "mad" and accuses Gandalf of only wanting the ring for himself. Gandalf reveals a little of his "glory" and grows "loud" and thunders, "I'm not trying to hurt you, I'm trying to help you!" Bilbo is brought back to reality and runs into Gandalf's arms...that is the picture we must have of our Father in heaven. His heart toward us is good...all the time.

If the Christian life has become oppressive, we've lost focus of the Fatherly heart of God. If the Son sets you FREE, you are FREE indeed!!