Disciple-Making in the Living Room

Disciple making

When Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” it starts in the living room. For most of us, the primary callings that we have take place in our home. We are called to be husband or wife, father or mother, brother or sister.  As parents, the calling to be a father or mother is not only a call for physical provision and protection, but it is a call to make disciples. The most important goal that I have as a dad is to raise my kids to believe the Gospel. As a dad, before I can ever worry about preaching the Gospel in my church or neighborhood, I need to preach the Gospel under my own roof.

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Minding Your Own Business

Minding

It’s easy to dream about the living the life of somebody else. We can look at the allure of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has endless amounts of money that most of us couldn’t even imagine. Or we look at the excitement of the entrepreneur, who might not be wealthy but clearly loves what she does. Or we look to the popular speakers and writers who share their stories in front of thousands and have best-selling books with people hanging onto every single word. Or even amongst our own friends and family, we can do the same thing with the house we own, the family we are a part of, and the types of vacations that we go on.

As a culture, we make it our business to envy the lives of the people around us.

We are experts at knowing what type of life would make us happier than the life we are in right now. We are prodigies at dreaming about the life we don’t have. We sit at our desks and daydream about what our work will be like someday. We contemplate the future dreams of our family and imagine what our family life would be like when we finally get that promotion.

But what about right now?

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How God Cures My Daily Amnesia

amnesia

In The Journal of Neuroscience, there was a man referred to as E.P. He was an 84-year-old retired lab technician. E.P. suffered from one of the most severe cases of amnesia ever documented. In his case, his amnesia was so bad he could only recall his most recent thought. So questions like, “Who is the President?” or “What did you have for dinner?” would be completely unknown to him. In the book Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer describes his encounter with E.P. and the amnesia he suffered.

When Joshua met with E.P. they decided to go on a walk. As they went on the walk the author observed several different things that were interesting about him. E.P. would go on the same route every time he went on a walk, yet if you were to ask E.P. to draw the map of where he would walk, he had no idea the route he went on. Often when he would walk, he found something. By the time he got home, as he was holding the object, he had no idea how he got what he had in his hand. As he passed by his neighbors, he would reintroduce himself to his them every single time as though they were complete strangers. As E.P. and Joshua concluded their walk, E.P. returns home to a place he doesn’t even recall is his own, walks down a street he doesn’t know the name of, and past neighbors he just met but doesn’t remember.

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Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther

Cover 1

Today, I’m excited to announce the launch of a new eBook that I’ve been designing and editing in order to share for free with the world – Galatians: Selections from Martin Luther.

Martin Luther is a theologian whose writing has changed my life. Luther, in a day when the Church hijacked the message of the Gospel, stood boldly for the proclamation of Christ alone. In a world that literally sold people forgiveness for a few bucks, Martin Luther came onto the scene recovering the message of the scriptures that said, “The price has already been paid.”

But here’s the thing about Luther. He’s intimidating. He wrote a ton and now that we are about 500 years removed from the date of his writing (not to mention it was written in a different language), it can be a bit tough to dive into the works of Luther.

I want to change that.

I want more and more Christians to dive into the depths of the theology of Martin Luther. I have no doubt that many of the distinctions that are found in his writings are needed in today’s churches and in our conversations about the scriptures. And one of the best places to be introduced to Luther is in his commentary on Galatians.

This commentary on Galatians is truly the work of Martin Luther… but for the everyday person.

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“I Commit My Spirit”

Spirit

When Jesus died, his life was not taken… it was given.

Even in the last statement Jesus makes on the cross, we can see this. Jesus calls out in a loud voice… which doesn’t sound like the way one responds after being beaten, being exhausted, and on the verge of death.  And in his own words he says, “I commit my spirit.”

Jesus isn’t saying, I’ve lost.  He isn’t saying I can’t make it anymore.  He’s giving up his life.  The irony is that in the events of the day, in the suffering, in the rejection, in the hurt and the pain – it was never ultimately up to any of the people who hurt Jesus – it was up to him.

Even in the statements about Jesus mocking him by saying, “Come down from the cross.”

He could.

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The Emphasis of Mission in Justification

mission & justification

The Gospel is what defines the Church. In a world that is constantly pushing us to do more, try harder, the Gospel runs counter to everything the world preaches. In our own sinfulness, we naturally trust in our own performance, but it is the performance of Jesus alone that sets us free.

Justification is the doctrine that defines what is means to be a Christian. Martin Luther said that justification is “the article upon which the church stands or falls.”  The fact that Jesus declares us righteousness, not by our own works, but by his is what defines the Christian Church.

And because justification is the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins and the scriptures teach that God “wants all people to be saved,” justification has a missiological emphasis that we must consider.

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Jesus is for Losers

Losers

Oscar Wilde said, “I can resist anything except temptation.” I can resonate with that. The devil knows exactly where I’m weak and vulnerable and I’m a sucker for his lies. It’s no wonder that the hymn writer Robert Robinson wrote hundreds of years ago, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”

I’m prone to walk away from the God I love everyday. I turn my back as I run to my idols that I’ve built for myself and wander around in the dessert trying to find joy and value and life in my own accomplishments and self-importance.

And it doesn’t matter how I hard I try.  Because despite my fight, and even my occasional success in resisting temptation, one of the devil’s attacks will leave me nothing more than a loser without anything left for the fight.

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Sin, Slavery, and Addiction

Sin and slavery

Throughout the scriptures there’s a looping pattern that we see in the nation of Israel. Over and over and over again, the Israelites rebel against God. And this isn’t a one-time occurrence, it happens all the time. It’s not even limited to one book of the Old Testament, it’s the whole thing

One of the earliest commands that God gives the Israelites is, “You shall have no other gods.” And one of the first sins that the nation of Israel commits against God is they begin to worship an idol. And then it just keeps on happening, time and time again.

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Finding God on Top of the Mountain

On top of the mountain

This post is a guest post by my friend Matt Popovits.  Matt is a pastor at Our Saviour New York and is without a doubt one of my favorite preachers around.  This post began as a part of one of Matt’s sermons at OSNY and with some of my editing work, Matt and I were able to come up with a great post to share here.

We all have a crazy collection of religious ideas that we’ve gathered throughout our life.  It’s a crazy collection with ideas from Grandma and Grandpa and Oprah and all kinds of other influential people in our life that we’ve crammed into a spiritual junk drawer that shapes what we believe.

Some of the ideas are just not helpful at all and others are part of biblical historic Christianity.  If we rummage through that drawer, one of the most common items you will find is a ruler, one  of those old 12 inch rulers that you probably took to middle school.  If you pull that out of your spiritual junk drawer it’ll be just like that little ruler that you took to middle school or elementary school; it’s got drawings all over it, you colored on it with marker and pencil.

What that ruler represents in your spiritual junk drawer is this urge that we all have in our spirituality to measure.  This urge that we all have to measure where we are in our faith, how far we’ve climbed in our faith and the desire to compare ourselves and measure ourselves against other people in our faith.

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The Preacher of Grace

Preacher of grace

My son is almost three years old, which means he is now at the age where I can give him a rule and with evil in his eyes and a grin on his face, he will happily ignore my rules. Since he’s just a toddler, he’s not very good at being naughty and it’s usually more entertaining than frustrating.  But nonetheless, he at times shows this childlike joy in testing the limits of what is right and wrong.

Robert Capon describes good preachers in a similar way to a naughty toddler:

“I think good preachers should be like bad kids. They ought to be naughty enough to tiptoe up on dozing congregations, steal their bottles of religion pills…and flush them all down the drain. The church, by and large, has drugged itself into thinking that proper human behavior is the key to its relationship with God. What preachers need to do is force it to go cold turkey with nothing but the word of the cross-and then be brave enough to stick around while [the congregation] goes through the inevitable withdrawal symptoms.”

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