Then let me go further; the man who is meek is not even sensitive about himself. He is not always watching himself and his own interests. He is not always on the defensive. We all know about this, do we not? Is it not one of the greatest curses in life as a result of the fall-this sensitivity about self? We spend the whole of our lives watching ourselves. But when a man becomes meek he has finished with all that; he no longer worries about himself and what other people say. To be truly meek means we no longer protect ourselves, because we see there is nothing worth defending. So we are not on the defensive; all that is gone. The man who is truly meek never pities himself, he is never sorry for himself. He never talks to himself and says, `You are having a hard time, how unkind these people are not to understand you’. He never thinks: `How wonderful I really am, if only other people gave me a chance.’ Self-pity! What hours and years we waste in this! But the man who has become meek has finished with all that. To be meek, in other words, means that you have finished with yourself altogether, and you come to see you have no rights or deserts at all.
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones
We are concerned about the state and life of the Church at the present time. I have no hesitation again in asserting that the failure of the Church to have a greater impact upon the life of men and women in the world today is due entirely to the fact that her own life is not in order. To me there is nothing more tragic or short-sighted or lacking in insight than the assumption, made by so many, that the Church herself is all right and all she has to do is to evangelize the world outside. Every revival proves clearly that men who are outside the Church always become attracted when the Church herself begins to function truly as the Christian Church, and as individual Christians approximate to the description here given in these Beatitudes.
– Martyn Lloyd-Jones
The intimate connection of this second Beatitude with the first is beautiful and compelling. The first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” is primarily intellectual (those who understand that they are spiritual beggars are blessed); the second Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn,” is its emotional counterpart. It naturally follows that when we see ourselves for what we are, our emotions will be stirred to mourning.
– Kent Hughes
Honesty is such a precious commodity that it is seldom found in the world or the church. Honesty requires the truthfulness to admit the attachment and addictions that control our attention, dominate our consciousness, and function as false gods. I can be addicted to vodka or to being nice, to marijuana or being loved, to cocaine or being right, to gambling or relationships, to golf or gossiping. Perhaps my addiction is food, performance, money, popularity, power, revenge, reading, television, tobacco, weight, or winning. When we give anything more priority than we give to God, we commit idolatry. Thus we all commit idolatry countless times every day.
– Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Watch this advertisement and then let’s talk…
What did you hear? What was being communicated? The ad was tapping into our desire to not live a scripted life. We want to break free. We want to be individuals. We want to rebel against the constraints of life.
But do you notice the problem? They tried to solve the “scripted life” problem by offering you their script. Their script is just as shallow and empty. It goes something like this…Do you want to live life to the fullest? Then you need this car.
That is sad. Tragic. Depressing.
It is the consumer life masked in counter-cultural language, but at the end of the day it’s the same old, tired script… a script that says what you own is your identity.
Now here’s the thing about Christianity, the gospel, it comprehensively breaks the script of this world. It says things like Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. To be blessed mean to have the good life, to be approved by God. This only happens when we realize that there is nothing in us that can earn the approval of God. There is no amount of purchases we can make to acquire the good life. We get the good life when we realize we are dependant on the good life of Jesus to be imparted to us.
Now I completely get that some people will counter by saying “Don’t think you’re above the script. You are following a script too.” I don’t deny that. Everyone is following a script, a story, but are you following the right story? What if freedom was found not in “breaking the script” but in submitting to THE script?
I am convinced that our stories are meant to connect with this massive, epic story of God, and in doing so, our stories find their significance and meaning. It’s a tactic of the enemy to make us think we are being independent thinkers, and all the while we are buying into a script that leads to death and devastation.
If I buy the car, eventually it will break down. Eventually I’ll get bored with it. Eventually the novelty will wear off. Eventually it will end up in a junk yard.
In Jesus I get to have union with my Maker and Creator. In Jesus I get to know, really know, the author of my story. You may not believe that to be true, but I’m convinced you should want that to be true.
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. I made great works. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made myself gardens and parks, and planted in them all kinds of fruit trees. I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves, and had slaves who were born in my house. I had also great possessions of herds and flocks, more than any who had been before me in Jerusalem. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I got singers, both men and women, and many concubines, the delight of the sons of man.
So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 ESV)
I find that so much of church teaching (of which I can be part of the problem) easily drifts toward what we can “do” for Jesus. We make declarations about how we are going to live “for” Jesus. That’s all well and good if it flows from a position of being “in” Christ. It has to start there. It also has to be sustained there. And if we miss that, things go array. Before we think about ministering to other people we have to open ourselves up to being ministered to by Jesus.
We have to stop.
We have to sit at Jesus’ feet.
We have to listen.
And this is difficult.
But so needed.
Today I concluded both the sermon and the Unleashed series by reading the following scriptures over the congregation in hopes that they might know, really know, how loved they are in Christ.
May it encourage you. May you sit at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to minister to you.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
the LORD appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
(1 John 3:1)
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
As a pastor I’ve had people come to me to confess that they struggle with almost every kind of sin. Almost. I cannot recall anyone ever coming to me and saying, “I spend too much money on myself. I think my greedy lust for money is harming my family, my soul, and people around me.” Greed hides itself from the victim. The money god’s modus operandi includes blindness to your own heart.
– Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that— and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison— you do not know God at all. As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
– C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- I am really enjoying the conversations I’m having with people regarding the Unleashed Series/Campaign. Encouraging to see people taking their next steps.
- Got to teach on Talents Unleashed yesterday. The big idea was discovering, directing, and deploying your gifts in love, for the good of others. You can watch the sermon here.
- Two Dunkin Donuts employees, who I see most mornings getting my coffee, showed up at CrossPointe Winter Park yesterday!
- I was reminded that mission can be a slow process. It’s oftentimes months, if not years, before people respond to my invitation to check out CrossPointe.
- This upcoming Sunday is a baptism Sunday for us! We have several folks getting baptized. There’s still time to sign up. Just let me know. I love these Sundays!
- Starting a new book with the CrossPointe Winter Park staff – Encounters with Jesus. Looking forward to it.
- I’ve enjoyed watching these music videos as of late. Check out The Box Canyon Sessions.
- Heather and I got to do a pre-marital counseling session with some of our neighbors yesterday. It’s always a fun time getting to know the couple, but it’s also super helpful for Heather and me – so good to revisit these themes. A healthy marriage is a lifetime commitment. It’s good work.
- I’m grateful for all the people who have been praying for our family after the passing of my mother in law. The prayers are felt. We are especially encouraged that the kids seem to be processing/grieving well and that they have caught up in school from being out so many days.
- Hope you have a great week! Thanks for reading.
I like to live in the realm of possibility. I like having some future endeavor I am considering. I like communicating to people what that might be. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But sometimes it’s about POSSIBILITY CAPITAL. Here’s what I mean by possibility capital. Capital can be defined as wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization. For some of us, we make the theoretical, the might, the possibility a source of value for us. It is our wealth. It’s a card we can play, so to speak, so that people might think well of us. That people might be impressed. That we might hear accolades from people.
The fact is it’s easier to stay in the realm of theoretical. It’s less risky. It’s nice to have some exciting, glamorous plan that you might act upon. It makes for great conversation. But if it stays in the realm of might, then it’s just possibility capital, which is really no value at all.
I remember the years leading up to planting a church. It was fun to tell people about what I might do. What it might be like. How it might all come together. But eventually the might needs to move to reality.
Though there is much more going on in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), one of the reasons I think the 3rd servant might have buried his talent is because of the lure of possibility capital. I wonder if he gathered with his friends and told stories about what he might do with that talent. That some day he would dig that talent up. He knew right where it was. So he maybe told impressive stories. Grandiose stories. Visionary stories. Stories about how amazed the Master would be when he returned.
But then the Master returned and he had done nothing. He had stayed in the realm of might. He had been stuck in the realm of possibility. Possibility lies to us and tells us we always have more time.
Jesus wants to free us from this deadly realm of possibility. He wants us to see what a generous and good Master he is. How he has given us everything. He literally took our place on the cross. Died the death we deserve. Rose again, conquering Satan, sin, and death. When that truth really grips our hearts, then, and only then can we risk. It’s then we can step out in faith.
Why? Because we will no longer fear failure. Even if we fail, we know that we have a rock solid identity in Christ. It’s knowing the love Jesus has for us, that moves us out of the prison of possibility and into His glorious kingdom work.
Will you play your part? Will you be Unleashed?
We want to see every person at CrossPointe Winter Park unleashed for the cause of Christ by leveraging their time, talent, and treasure.
This Sunday, September 7, we embark upon a brand new series that has been several months in the making. I’m super excited about it because it’s more than just a 4 week series. It’s really a focus for the next 2-3 years at CrossPointe Winter Park. I can’t encourage you enough to come out this Sunday and invite a friend to join you. It will be a great introduction to the church and where we are headed by God’s grace. Immediately after the service will be our Vision Sunday Picnic at Phelps Park. Great food. Games. Face-painting for the kids. You can sign up on our Facebook event page here and share it with your friends.
We are praying that God would use this series to help all of us leverage well what we have been given. It’s going to be an exciting time in the life of CrossPointe Winter Park.
Hope to see you Sunday!
As I sit here, getting ready to fly home from Ohio, I am overlooking acre upon acre of farm land. Soy beans and corn have sprouted from seeds that were put into the ground some months ago. Now the land is filled and the harvest will happen soon. Amazing.
Yesterday we spent time, how all summers should be spent (at least to me), on a lake. Refreshing water. Laughter. Humans gliding across the surface of the lake being pulled by a rope. The sky running through a kaleidoscope of colors as the sun began to set. Amazing.
In the last week we have had two viewings, one memorial service, and one graveside service for my mother in law. Her body was laid to rest. Returned to the dust from which we all came. People showed up. People wept. People expressed their memories and the impact she had on their lives. Community happens. Love can be expressed. Amazing.
I can be jaded and cynical. I can easily see the problems – that is not a struggle for me. It’s God’s grace that He lets me see that this world is amazing. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch the video below. Maybe you won’t track with all of the references, but it’s a helpful bit of instruction and persepctive. I need more childlike wonder and awe. I’m guessing you might too.