Thinking Out Loud

January 29, 2013

God Requires Ultimate Headship Over Us

I originally wrote what follows a couple of days ago at Christianity 201. While it serves as an introduction to the concluding video, I believe it’s something we all need to consider more.

I am continually fascinated by the concept of scripture as a multi faceted jewel which reveals, refracts and reflects with each slight turn. The geometric properties of a large diamond mean that each face is interconnected directly to several others, which in turn are attached to others. So we find as we read God’s word that many passages are connected to other passages, and that many others, even on their own, offer depths and riches of meaning and application.

But there is also the aspect that many verses are links in a chain, offering part of a whole larger imparting of God’s ways and God’s instructions on a variety of subjects. To fully grasp the mind of God — to see what is called the whole counsel of God — we need to dig deeper.

For example, what is the mark of our work and witness in the world? The first answer we would expect is love.

“By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” ~John 13:35 NKJV

But we all know people who, because they are created in God’s image, are very loving people, do good works, are benevolent and charitable; but they have never acknowledged Christ’s deity or given him lordship over their lives.

So we go deeper. The mark of the true Christian is the fruit of the spirit.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!~Gal 5: 22,23 (NLT)

But in addition to growing in love (and joy and peace, etc.) we are to grow in the knowledge of God.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. ~II Peter 3:18 (ESV)

But clearly there is more, as we see in Paul’s prayer — and expectations — for the Colossian church:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. ~Col 1: 9-12 (NIV)

(We looked at this passage here.)

But clearly there is another dimension to there being evidence of Christ’s lordship over our lives — our possessions, our thought-lives, our decision making, our priorities and yes, our anxieties) and this is the idea of Christ’s rule and reign in our lives as we work toward becoming more conformed to his image.

I have no specific verse for this because there are so many. Someone once told me that the word Saviour appears 37 times in the KJV, and the word Lord appears over 7,000 times. That Jesus Christ is Lord is among the great themes of the Bible. The sovereignty of God, his ‘King-ship’ and Lordship over all creation is mirrored in the expectation that he will have rule and reign in our individual lives.

But if you want a specific reference, you do no better than the book of Romans which talks about whereas once sin ruled over us, the believer is now ruled by Christ.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— ~Rom. 6:6 (NIV)

I’ve led this progression of thoughts in this direction for two reasons. One, as you can see below is to introduce the song, Reign in Us by the band Starfield. This song has really been on my mind all week since encountering it again in a weekend service. More importantly, the other reason is that I believe that Christ leading us and captivating all that we think and do is going to impact the world in ways we can’t imagine.

Yes, the world will know we are Christians by our love, but they will also know it because we have submitted all to Christ. I’m not there yet — I have a long way to go — but as I write this, I make this my desire.

For those of you without high speed internet, the video is a static image; this is primarily an audio file that will load in seconds.


You thought of us before the world began to breathe
You knew our names before we came to be
You saw the very day we fall away from you
And how desperately we need to be redeemed

Lord Jesus
Come lead us
We’re desperate for your touch

Oh great and mighty one
With one desire we come
That you would reign that you would reign in us
We’re offering up our lives
A living sacrifice
That you would reign that you would reign in us

Spirit of the living God fall fresh again
Come search our hearts and purify our lives
We need your perfect love we need your discipline
We’re lost unless you guide us with your light

Lord Jesus
Come lead us
We’re desperate for your touch

Oh great and mighty one …

We cry out for your life to revive us cry out
For your love to define us cry out
For your mercy to keep us
Blameless until you return

Oh great and mighty one

So reign please reign in us
Come purify our hearts
We need your touch
Come cleanse us like a flood
And set us out
So the world may know you reign you reign in us

writers: Tim Neufeld, Jon Neufeld, Ben Glover

April 2, 2012

Refreshment When the Well Runs Dry

This weekend I had the pleasure of reading Filled Up, Poured Out: How God’s Spirit Can Revive Your Passion and Purpose by Mark O. Wilson (Wesleyan Publishing House, March 2012), pastor of Hayward Wesleyan Church in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.   Although the endorsement on the book’s cover by Mark Batterson indicates this as a book for pastors and church leaders, it is so much more than that.

Wilson has put everything in this book except the kitchen sink. It’s an encouragement collection of stories, quips, analogies, adages, and many scripture references. I hesitate to introduce comparisons, but I would think of this as a large glass of water for someone engaged in Christian service who finds themselves running dry; or an energy bar for the person whose strength feels depleted.

He arranges the 190 pages into three sections: Vacuus, Repleo and Fluo.  The first section sets the stage  indicating the nature of the problem: 45.5% of pastors surveyed said they have experienced depression and burnout (p. 19) a stat which resonates with Mark’s own experience;

“I realized I had been depending on yesterday’s grace; failing to keep my spiritual life fresh and up to date. My soul was empty and needed to be replenished.” (p. 16, italics added)

The second section talks about the process of filling up, but he contends we need to be emptied before we can be refilled; which begins with confession and repentance.  I quoted a section of this on the weekend at C201. I also loved this quotation:

Our job is to seek His way instead of demanding our own. Instead of me writing the check and asking God to sign it, I need to sign a blank check and ask God to write it.  (p. 50; US-check = cheque-UK)

And several other insights for which I didn’t note page numbers; like this one, the response of a young boy who is given a fully grown St. Bernard for his birthday:

“Wow. That’s great. But is he mine or am I his?”

And this prayer:

“God. Your will. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else.”

The last section deals with the resulting overflow that results from being filled, and how that reflects in the life of the individual and the life of the church as a whole, in compassion ministries, holiness, and influencing both the local community and the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this; and I want to share the entire first chapter with you. This link will take you to a .pdf file sample of the introduction and chapter one.

We all face desert times in ministry and in our personal Christian pilgrimage. But times of refreshing are available even when the road is rough and the well runs dry.

March 22, 2011

Crazy Love: The Last Review

I must be the last person in the Christian blogosphere to get around to reading Crazy Love.  I promised myself to write a review — probably the last review — of the book when I finished it this week, but I’m sure my words would be lost in the sea of reviews out there; and I really don’t have anything unique to add, other than Crazy Love is certainly worthy of the numbers of people who have read, and are continuing to read the book.

So instead, I’ll post here a profile of the author that appeared a few days ago at my other blog, Christianity 201.

If you keep an eye on bestseller lists, and if there’s an author who has resonated with a whole lot of people at once, for whatever reason, you ought to check out what that author has to say.

It definitely applies to Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love and the more recent Forgotten God. Though published in 2008, it’s at the top of many lists for 2010.  A lot of people still don’t know him however, and I think another dimension to an author’s popularity — without embracing celebrity culture, something Chan himself would despise — is to check out other resources that help you to get to know the heart of the author.

Especially if you can see and hear that author speak. What a difference to then be able to read the author’s printed works and hear the author’s voice inside your head as you read or imagine their smile or the spark of passion you see in their eyes. But — and this is important — to also know more background as to where the author is coming from.

If you want to play this out with reference to Francis Chan, there’s a little 4-minute video that really says it all.  Again, I’m probably the last person in the Christian blogosphere to refer to this, but in case you haven’t seen it…

Sometimes certain natural giftedness plays out and certain authors and music artists simply work their way up the “success” ladder of Christian influence. However, there are other times that I believe people are justified — even if it can be a little cliché — to say that God has “raised up” certain people with a unique message for our particular place in history.  The message of Crazy Love is a message that can never be repeated enough; and Chan brings a fresh treatment that 21st Century readers — along with people who have heard him speak at live events — can connect with.

If you’ve got 55 minutes to invest, here’s a recent message where Francis returned to Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California after seven months away. (If you’re on dial-up or have a slow connection, scroll down to the second link, which is audio only.)

If your time is very limited, after an intimate time of getting re-acquainted with his former congregation, the sermon begins at 16:47. Sort of.  But then you’d be missing what it looks like when a pastor is truly in love with his congregation.  Maybe you’d do better to only watch the first 17 minutes! Please remember, I’m not posting this because it’s the best Francis Chan sermon out there — though I do think it’s good — I’m posting this because it reveals his heart.

This link below is for people who get frustrated with slower connections and lagging video; it’s simply the audio of the same sermon. Enjoy.

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