Personal Approval

John Piper

Why don’t you like me?  John Piper offers a tweet to this question:

Wow.  I never really thought about it.  That’s a powerful word to a pastor, to anyone.  God controls how people feel about you.

That means every word spoken, every sentiment thought, every feeling felt…God is up to something.  Even that hurtful email someone wrote you…God is up to something.

Salvation and Popsicles

Popsicles
auntikhaki

We (my wife and I) recently shared a salvation moment with one our students. I was struck by the beauty and commonplace of the moment.

At that moment, heaven was opening up; angels were rejoicing. God was watching. An eternal soul was transferred from death to life, from the domain of darkness into marvelous light. Amazing.

At that same moment, as we prayed, my daughter asked in a whisper if I would take the wrapper off her popsicle…a very urgent request indeed. My son cooed upstairs. My dog kept licking my hand and nosing my leg for attention.

And the angels sang Hallelujah…

I Will Make You

fishing boat
Photo Credit: bjhornemann

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  (Matthew 4:19)

Thank God.
Left to myself, it wouldn’t look good. There is not much in me that is naturally disposed to the work of God. I’m selfish.  I’m not real magnetic. I’m a bit moody. I have bad days. As for evangelism, I can be pretty introverted. But this verse gives me great hope. It gives me great joy. If I follow Jesus, he can make me into what I need to be. Fewww!

Thank you, God.

For so long, I’ve thought of successful ministry as some magical douse certain people receive, some special x-factor certain people possess. Or perhaps, ministry hinges on strategy and technique. But this verse starts me somewhere else.
This verse starts with bumbling fishermen in some hick town.  The fact that Jesus says he will make them fishers of men tells me everything I need to know. It tells me they are decidedly not fishers of men. They’re just fishermen. It tells me the key to ministry isn’t in where you start but where you go, and where you go is determined by who you follow. And now we’re back…

If I follow Jesus, he can make me into his worker, and that’s good news for a guy like me.  Amen.

Write Them on the Doorposts

podcast logoI am loving the Bible on iPod. I think years ago I would have considered that cheating. Real Bible readers have dog-eared Bibles and leather journals and hand-turned coffee mugs from Nor Cal…or so I thought. But life is far too kinetic for that always.

For instance, a few weeks ago I was standing at the crossroads of sickness and going to church. Because I was sick, I slept in. Because I was headed to church, I was scrambling around trying to get ready. But while I was getting ready, I listened to the Bible reading for the day. I really listened to it, and I really enjoyed it. But I never slowed down. There was no time. And that’s life. Call it what you will, but that is what faithfulness looked like that day. That’s what real spirituality was.

I am not, however, advocating some kind of “God-to-go” spirituality. I would be sorely remiss if all I ever did was pursue God on the go. I must have times of quiet, times of coffee and solitude. I must journal and chew on words. I must spend time on my knees praying to God and praying over his word. In fact, I would argue silence and meditative solitude are some of the greatest spiritual disciplines our culture needs. But let’s not be spiritual snobs.

As a husband, a father of two little ones, and a pastor, I can say I am thankful for the words of Deuteronomy 6:9 “You shall write [God’s commandments] on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Now there’s a down-to-earth spirituality! Scriptures on my garage door? I like it. I might actually see those.

Why did the picture of deep piety and sincere spirituality become a quiet monk in robes?

Jesus and Possessions

An old pastor once said he loved to preach about tithing because a person’s wallet is tantamount to the heart. How we spend our money says a lot about our priorities and principles, worries and wants. God must be Lord of your wallet.

Jesus is our satisfaction. Jesus brings lasting peace and contentment, reconciliation and restoration. When we exchange temporary, earthly treasures for the treasure stores Jesus offers, we testify to his all-sufficiency in our lives and in the process, we make him look really good (a.k.a. glorification). But in the process, we get satisfied too!

All of us have felt the frustration of a newly wrecked car, dropped laptop, or scuffed shoe the first time you wore them (urgh!!). We can testify to the broken cisterns of material possessions that can hold no water. Let’s save people some heartache and headache. Let’s tell them their identity and joy is found in Christ and not in what they possess.