The Problem With “Going Pro”

Interesting article and many more like it on Todd Bolsinger’ blog. You may not be particularly interested, but if you are it is at

Coach_leadWhat do Wayne Gretzky, Bart Starr, Isaiah Thomas, Ted Williams and many, many pastors have in common?  They were once great players who became woeful coaches.  

I know, it’s an interesting tidbit about the superstar athletes, but what does this have to do with being a pastor?

http://bolsinger.blogs.com/weblog/2010/04/the-problem-with-going-pro.html

The Uniqueness and Universality of Jesus

Seen on Already not Yet

John-Stott-001

John Stott:

Only one way, only one name, only one God, only one Lord, only one Mediator. The claim is exclusive, and the implication inescapable. What is genuinely unique has universal significance and must be universally made known…

Thus uniqueness and universality belong together.

It is because God has super-exalted Jesus, and given him the unique name of ‘Lord’, towering above every other name, that every knee must bow to him. It is because Jesus Christ is the only Savior, that we are under obligation to proclaim him everywhere. The ‘inclusivism’ of the mission is precisely due to the ‘exclusivism’ of the Mediator.

In addition, universal authority over the nations has been given to him; that is why he commissions us to go and disciple the nations.

– John Stott, The Contemporary Christian

Stop Pursuing Spiritual Growth and Start Loving Christ!

from Who in the world are we? by Laura Springer

In 2009, our church’s motto was, “Passionately pursuing spiritual growth in Christ.” For most of the year, I thought this was a very good motto. On the Sunday that my mind changed, I sat in my normal spot doing my normal activity: interacting with the sermon. As I pondered and wrote, I began to wonder whether we should be pursuing spiritual growth. The more I pondered, the closer I came to a negative answer: spiritual growth is a result and, therefore, an inadequate object of pursuit.

Spiritual Growth is a Result

The image of spirituality as fruit bearing runs throughout the New Testament.  A small sampling of passages (emphasis mine) hints at the cause-effect sequence at work here.

I am the vine; you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.(John 15:5 ESV)

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (Rom 7:4ESV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal 5:22-24 ESV)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, askingthat you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:9-10 ESV)

In each case, fruit is the result of connection with Christ and the connection has nothing to do with our effort. No amount of pursuit on our part will connect us with Christ. It may be that “pursuit” is altogether the wrong term, for it does not bear the same connotation as “abiding,” “belonging,” and “filling.” This does not imply lack of effort on our part, for as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, we are to work out the salvation that God has put it. But, this cannot occur by our own effort: “for apart from me you can do nothing.” Just as fruit is the natural result of the wholeness of the plant, so also is spiritual fruit the natural result of the wholeness of each person and each community in Christ. The plant’s attention to life produces its fruit. The Christian’s attention to Christ, our life, produces spiritual growth.

Christ as First Love

Love reprioritizes our way of thinking. As our first love, Christ holds the highest place and is our ultimate end. The more we love him, the more we begin to consider all else as loss in order to gain him; Christ becomes the one for whom we act. Our love for him actualizes presence (Christ in me and I in Christ (John 15) by developing relational knowledge of Christ’s person, experiential knowledge of his resurrection power, and participatory knowledge of his sufferings (Phil 3).  Our identity as persons and as community is directly tied to the subject of our first love: Christ. We are Christians inasmuch as we are in relationship with our first love, Jesus Christ, and this relationship is safe in his hands and in the Father’s hands (John 10:29-30).

Original version was published in October 2009. This is a rewrite.

We never create a desire for God in anyone

…it’s important to realize that we never create a desire for God in anyone; we rather see that it’s already there in His children and stir it up. We honor the reality of desire. It’s the pathway to God. Spiritual community develops only among people who aren’t afraid to want, who honor desire, who feel it in themselves and learn to arouse it in others.

Dr. Larry Crabb, Becoming a True Spiritual Community, Page 168

The problem sincere Christians have

The problem sincere Christians have with God often comes down to a wrong understanding of what this life is meant to provide. We naturally and wrongly assume we’re here to experience something God has never promised. More than perhaps ever before in history, we assume we are here for one fundamental reason: to have a good time–if not good circumstances, then at least good feelings.

Dr. Larry Crabb, Shattered Dreams, Page 28

What Do You Know For Sure? Part 2 (1 John 5:6–21)

from Pastor Joe Quatrone’s blog

victory-in-jesusIn Part 1 of this article, we saw the life that is real is built on the divine certainties that are found in Jesus Christ. The world may accuse the Christian of being proud and dogmatic, but this does not keep him from saying, “I know!” In these closing verses of John’s letter, we find two more Christian certainties on which we can build our lives with confidence.

CHRISTIANS DO NOT PRACTICE SIN (1 John 5:16–19)

“Anyone born of God does not practice sin” (1 Jn. 5:18). Occasional sins are not here in view, but habitual sins, the practice of sin. Since a believer has a new nature (“God’s seed,” 1 Jn. 3:9), he has new desires and appetites, and is not interested in sin.

A Christian faces three enemies, all of which want to lead him into sin: the devil, the world, and the flesh.

Our first enemy is the devil. The world “is under the control of the evil one” (1 Jn. 5:19), Satan—“the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:3–4) and “the prince of this world” (Jn. 14:30). He is the spirit who works in “the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Satan has many devices for leading a believer into sin. He tells lies, as he did to Eve (Gen. 32 Cor. 11:1–3), and when men believe his lies they turn away from and disobey God’s truth. Or, Satan may inflict physical suffering, as he did with Job and Paul (2 Cor. 12:7–9). In David’s case, Satan used pride as his weapon; he urged David to number the people and in this way defy God (1 Chron. 21). Satan is like a serpent who deceives (Rev. 12:9) and a lion who devours (1 Pet. 5:8–9). He is a formidable enemy.

He continues at http://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/what-do-you-know-for-sure-part-2-1-john-56-21/

We can stand affliction better . . .

We can stand affliction better than we can prosperity, for in prosperity we forget God.

 ~ Dwight L. Moody