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Jan 16 2014

Get Your Focus Back

focus

Hey Pastor:

What are you working on today? What are you striving after? Grieving over? Burdened about?

Let’s keep our focus: We are not important. We are unprofitable servants on our best days. We have a King—and it is His glory we seek.

John 2:11 says, “This, the first of His signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested His glory.”

It didn’t take long for Jesus to get the lid off His total identity, and glory started flowing out of Him like a river. He thought differently than humans think. He spoke in a way that made everyone hush to hear. He loved in a way that no one had a category for. And His miracles were to manifest His glory . . .

Where Jesus Christ is at work, things are happening that cannot be explained by rational categories. We understand them rationally, but cannot elucidate their means or replicate them ourselves. John’s two words to describe the purpose of the miracles Jesus did were manifest and glory. It’s what God gives to satisfy the longing He has placed in every human heart, and it’s the only “product” the church has to offer.

When every pastor in North America gets hold of the reality that we are providers of nothing, but are facilitators of glory—that we are just channels through whom Christ can reveal Himself—churches will have returned to their created purpose, and God will begin to move in power to display that glory.

In John 5:41, Jesus discloses the true purpose for His glory, saying “I do not receive glory from people.” The word order is emphatic: “Glory from men, I receive not.” I can hear the disciples asking Why, Jesus, why do you not receive glory from people? Answer: Mountains do not receive glory from dirt piles. Do you understand? Oceans do not receive glory from birdbaths. Redwoods do not receive glory from shrubbery, and Jesus Christ does not receive glory from people.

Then why are we exhorted to glorify God? The answer, to be sure, is that God is lovingly leading us onto the path of our greatest joy, the truest alignment with the divine nature that in Christ we are made partakers of (2 Peter 1:3-4). Let us be done once for all with the illusion that God needs or is validated in our glorifying. We alone are the beneficiaries whenever the glory of Christ is manifested.

Glory is a two-way street—vertically. It flows in two directions, not four. Glory goes up from the created world in a whisper and from the redeemed world in a shout. And when that happens, glory comes down as manifest presence in the church. In John 5:44, Jesus continued: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” I was so arrested by that verse in my quiet time recently that I wrote it out in my neatest script and posted it on the bulletin board behind my computer. Read it again. Wow, that verse lays me out.

I have always understood that taking glory belonging to God is sinful—and, in fact, taking glory is stealing because it is never rightly ours. I get it—“Deflect glory, it’s not yours. You’re just the messenger. Give it to God.” What I didn’t get is that failing to do so restricts my ability to believe and receive the glory God wants to pour down. God’s glory is such that it will not displace human praise; it will not wash away our preoccupation with exalting one another. If we allow the culture’s compulsion for celebrating celebrity to carry the day in our churches, we inhibit the glory our people desperately need.

Ephesians 3:21—“To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.”


Jan 10 2014

Shhhhh…It’s a Mercy Killing

Allow me to date myself by quoting a line from a song by the Imperials (a popular CCM group before the dawn of time):

Now in my house there’s been a mercy killing,
the man I used to be’s been crucified, Read More


Dec 31 2013

Elevating Worship Through Scripture

Dear Pastors and ministry leaders—a new year of God’s faithfulness is upon us. I am praying for a year of growth for me, my family and for our church. I hope this blog has been and continues to be a source of encouragement to you in your service to Christ and His kingdom. Read More


Dec 20 2013

The Earth Stood Still

Pastors: Don’t fear a lack of originality at Christmas. If How the Grinch Stole Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life can be watched every year, and if “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” can be sung every year, you don’t have to wrestle with “something they have never heard before” in your message preparation.

The power is in the story itself. God came down in a little baby who is the Savior of the world. Go tell it on the mountain! Here is one of my favorite Christmas songs from Jacob Sooter and Meredith Andrews. I hope it blesses you too.


Dec 11 2013

The Best Novel I’ve Read in a Long Time!

Hey, who’s not up for an early Christmas present? Consider today’s post just that—a pre-Christmas gift from my good friend Jerry Jenkins. Jerry is the much-loved author of the Left Behind series and more than 150 other books and novels. But of far greater significance, Jerry is a dear friend and truly humble follower of Jesus. We won’t know till we’re in heaven how many men, women, teens and kids have been awakened to the gospel or called back to Jesus through his compelling gift of writing.

I had the privilege of providing biblical research for his latest novel I, SaulIt’s a thriller in the truest sense of the word—a fantastic story about the life of the apostle Paul. It’s told in a way that grips your heart with the historical Paul and makes his enduring example alive in your current experience. Please consider getting I, Saul under the trees of some loved ones. My royalties for this and all writing projects are being directed to our church’s 5G campaign. Check out the trailer, then follow the link to the first chapter, my guess is you will want to read more :). Consider giving some great resources that bless and impact lives for Christ in our gift-giving decisions. Early merry Christmas! :)

> Download the first chapter of I,Saul.

isaulvid


 


Nov 25 2013

This Is My Bible

This weekend I preached from John 15:1-17 about the secret to a joyful life, which Jesus makes clear begins with abiding in Him. I challenged our church family to make a plan to spend time in His life-giving Word every dayRead More