Archive for June 28, 2010

The Gospel at the Grocery Store

The Gospel at the Grocery Store

This article is re-posted from Justin Taylor’s Blog. It was an encouragement to me. I think it will encourage you too:

Elyse Fitzpatrick helps us think through a situation of applying the person and work of Christ to sinful frustration at the checkout line of a grocery store. What I especially appreciate about this is how it helps us to think about all of Christ, and not just one aspect of his work.

Read the whole thing for context, but here’s how she applies the psychology of the gospel to her sin:

  • Because of the incarnation, Jesus Christ knows exactly what it is to live in a sin-cursed world with people who break the rules . . . like me. I am a rule-breaker but He’s loved me and he’s experienced every trial I face. He’s with me. He sympathizes with my weakness (Hebrews 4:15).This understanding of His love in the face of my sin drains my anger at my rule-breaking neighbor. I can love her because I’ve been loved and I am just like her.
  • Because of His sinless life, I now have a perfect record of loving my neighbor. He perfectly loved rule-breakers. This record of perfect love for my rule-breaking neighbor is mine now; knowing this relieves my guilt. Even though I continue to fail to love, His record is mine.
  • Because of His substitutionary death, I am completely forgiven for my sin . . . even the sins that I seem to fall into at the slightest provocation. God has no wrath left for me because He poured it all out on His Son. He’s not disappointed or irritated. He welcomes me as a beloved daughter.
  • Because of His resurrection (and the justification it brings), I know that the power of sin in my life has been broken. Yes, I’ve failed again, but I can have the courage to continue to fight sin because I’m no longer a slave to it. This replaces despair with faith to wage war against my selfishness and pride.
  • Because of His ascension and reign, I know that this situation isn’t a mere chance happening. He’s orchestrated it so that I will remember Him and be blessed by the gospel again. He’s ruling over my life and interceding for me right now. I’m not a slave to chaos or chance. He’s my Sovereign King and I can rest in His loving plan today and rejoice in Him.
  • And, because of His promised return, I know that all the doubt, injustice and struggle will one day come to an end. This line in this grocery store and my plans for dinner isn’t all there is. There’s the great good news of the gospel. I can go home now and share with my family and guests how Jesus met me at the grocery store and we can rejoice together in His work on our behalf.

Amen!

For more along this line of thinking, see the book she co-authored with Dennis Johnson, Comforts from the Cross: Celebrating the Gospel One Day at a Time.

The Idolatry of Entertainment

Idolatry is rampant among Christians. I know this sounds counter-intuitive but it is true. I am as guilty of idolatry as any jungle Hottentot and I know I am not alone. Think about how almost every waking hour we are in front of some kind of screen (TV, computer, smart-phone, ipod, etc.). Granted, some of these hours are distinctly work related but many are not. I spend more time with the Huxtables, Taylor’s (Tim and Andy), and Barone’s than I do with people who need to hear about Jesus. This idol of entertainment can subtly rob you of time that could be spent practicing community and building up God’s kingdom.

So how do you rid yourself of this idolatry? Here are a few steps that have helped me:

1. Prepare Yourself to do battle – Subverting idols means doing spiritual warfare. No I don’t mean anything sensational here, I mean daily preparing yourself to practice spiritual disciplines. Start the day by praying on the armor from Ephesians 6 and keep it on through constant prayer throughout the day.

2. Change your habits – Instead of planning on coming home and vegging in front of the TV, plan time for reading the Bible or books that help remind you of the importance of the gospel. Also when you do watch TV, make it deliberate. Don’t go to a TV without a plan or watch shows or movies without having your discernment at the ready.

3. Invest time in people – I have never heard of anyone lying on their death bed saying they wished they had watched more TV. It is the time you invest in the lives of others that will reap eternal dividends. Understand that as a believer, you are called to be a part of a covenant community that is centered on the gospel. Make the most of this by spending time with and loving, serving, encouraging, and enjoying others.

There is also a wonderful resource along with the Bible that I heartily recommend. Here is a video that tells you about it:

Holy Subversion from Crossway on Vimeo.

Gay’s Need Jesus Just Like Straight People Do

Everyone, regardless of their sexuality, needs Jesus. The gospel is a call to all people regardless of the state they are in. In a series of videos, Pastor Matt Chandler of the Village Church in Dallas, TX, deals with the controversial issue of homosexuality. With loving candor he confronts the sin of those who oppose homosexuality in a wrong fashion as well as those who support it as biblically acceptable. If you know someone who is gay, watch these videos and be encouraged that the gospel has a response to what homosexuals are truly looking for.

Culture and Theology: Homosexuality – Part 1 from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Culture and Theology: Homosexuality – Part 2 from The Village Church on Vimeo.

Culture and Theology: Homosexuality – Q&A from The Village Church on Vimeo.

HT: Justin Taylor

I Can Worship God Without Going To Church, Right?

It is impossible to follow Jesus and not love the church. This must be clearly understood if you desire to obey the Lord and have a right relationship with Him. There is no place for rubbish such as, “I love Jesus, I just don’t love the church.” If there is any doubt about this, consider what Jesus said about the church:

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

– Matthew 16:15-18

Jesus made a a declaration about faith and the church. He said that on the rock of faith in Himself, that His plan was to build His church and that no enemy of it would be successful in bringing it down. Understand Jesus is not talking about a church built on power, or money, or social concern. He is talking about the true church that is built on faith and on the gospel. This church will succeed and its enemies will fail. You can make excuses about other kinds of churches, but this church, wherever you find it, needs no excuse. It is not made up of perfect people but it faithfully proclaims a perfect savior. Its walk, no matter how flawed, never overshadows but rather complements its witness. This kind of church is the church that Jesus loves.

This also raises another point. How can you truly love Jesus, but not love what He loves? Jesus loves the church. The scriptures make this abundantly clear:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
– Ephesians 5:25-27

Jesus loved the church so much, that He gave his life for it setting forever an example for how husbands should love their wives. If Jesus loves the true church this much, we should give it the attendance, prayer, and financial support we would give Jesus were He here among us. In fact, the scripture teach us that when the true church gathers, that Jesus indeed dwells among us:

“For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
– Ephesians 2:18-22

Still think you can skip out on church and still worship God? If this doesn’t clear up the matter for you, nothing will:

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
– Hebrews 10:24-25

When we neglect to meet together as the true church that is built on Christ and that teaches the gospel word in the gospel community, we are defrauding our selves and God. We need one another. We are flawed and we need to come together to encourage one another and find healing for our sin. This means not just meeting to hear God’s word preached but meeting to live our lives among one another. You cant do this by waving at each other from across a sanctuary or chatting for a few minutes after the service in the vestibule. It means getting into each others lives. Sure it means being vulnerable and at times getting messy but there is no other way.

If you are not part of a gospel centered community of believers, you know what you need to do. Here are a list of suggestions from Pyromaniacs blogger Dan Phillips:

  1. Pray, committing yourself to attending a church; and attend somewhere while you look.
  2. Yellow pages. (But what to look for?)
  3. Ads in Saturday newspapers.
  4. Map out all the schools in the area, and drive around between 9:45-11:15am taking down names to follow up later.
  5. Bulletin-board in local Bible bookstore.
  6. Ask around, any Christians you can find.
  7. Denominational web sites (— like GARBC, PCA, Reformed Baptists)
  8. Nine Marks church search site.
  9. Founders-friendly churches.
  10. Gospel-centered churches (from The Gospel Coalition; thanks to Justin Taylor for the reminder).
  11. FIRE churches.
  12. TMS grads.
  13. BibleBB directory.
  14. Google maps, go to your area, enter church
  15. Ask pastor friends in other areas if they know anyone in your area.
  16. Call Seventh Day Adventist churches and Jewish synagogues, and ask if any church is renting their facility on Sunday.
  17. Check out community centers and YMCAs to see if any are rented by a church on Sunday

I suggest you give them a try, and soon. You don’t know what you’re missing.

HT: Justin Taylor