Union with Christ

418yhfsumyl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Having just finished Rankin Wilbourne’s Union with Christ, I wanted to share some highlights with you. It is a splendid and accessible book on what is vitally important for the Christian to understand; that in faith you are united with Christ, joined to him for all of eternity, secure, empowered, loved and approved. Among Wilbourne’s goals in writing is to see the church reclaim this important doctrine and believer living in its power.

Be encouraged Saints, you are in union with Christ. May you know and enjoy God.

“One way to think about the Christian life—not the only way, but a powerful and too-little-used way—is that believing the gospel means having your imagination taken captive and reshaped by a new story.”

“Could anything about the Christian life be more precious than this? This is what God has saved you for—communion, relationship, and intimacy with himself. This is what Christ suffered for, “that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).”

“You can rest. In Christ. You don’t have to be intimidated by anyone, ever. Who are you? You are in Christ! And you no longer need to fear the judgment of God (1 John 4:18). When God looks at you, he sees you hidden in Christ. This is freedom. This is confidence. This is good, good news.”

“Being a Christian is not about absorbing certain doctrines about God. Nor is it about being a better or different kind of person. The goal is having a personal, vital, profoundly real relationship with God through Christ by the Holy Spirit. The goal is enjoying communion with God himself. Union with Christ is not an idea to be understood, but a new reality to be lived, through faith.”

‘“Only those who believe obey” … and “only those who obey believe” … If the first half of the proposition stands alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of cheap grace, which is another word for damnation. If the second half stands alone, the believer is exposed to the danger of salvation through works, which is also another word for damnation.… It is all-important that the pastor should be ready with both sides of the proposition: “Only those who obey can believe, and only those who believe can obey.”’

“The work of Christ sets you free from sin’s penalty. So rather than turning away from God, you can turn toward Christ precisely when you might be tempted to hide from him. You can boldly approach his throne with confidence because you remember you are completely covered by Christ’s righteousness. Only those who believe can obey.”

“To be sure, we should strive to proclaim the gospel clearly (Col. 4:4). But sometimes our desire for clarity ends up narrowing our view of the gospel, even to the point of placing us at the center of it. But we are not the center of the gospel because we are not the center of the universe. When we make the gospel primarily about us, we make it small.”

“Union with Christ gives us permission to rest. We don’t have to be burdened by the weight of the possible. We do have so many choices. But union with Christ says there is one choice more important than any other choice you will make: Thy will be done or my will be done? As long as your will is set on following Christ, you can rest in the choices you make. You don’t have to be frozen in fear because your life is no longer in your own hands. You can surrender your plans to Christ, who has joined his life to yours.”

“Where is your life headed? Now you have an answer. Jesus is your horizon. And because he deigns to make us one with himself, this horizon is not only beautiful but also accessible. Jesus already went the distance, and now he takes hold of you to bring you there. One day, you will see him face to face, and that face will have a form you recognize. But you will not only see him. On that day, “when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). This glorious destiny is where you are headed.”

 

Kingdom Opportunities

This week a friend was sharing how she has been fighting off sickness for several weeks and how every time she sets out to engage church community or participate in worship she faced all the more hardship. “I have realized every time I attempt to be about kingdom business I come under spiritual attack,” she said. Without a doubt, the enemy of our souls has zero desire to see us flourish in the community and doing “kingdom work.”

But the thing is, our God’s plans and purpose can not be thwarted. And that is a glorious truth.

In the same conversation, my friend relayed that over the same time she has had the opportunity with a couple of people out of the blue, one at a pharmacy as she picked up meds because she was sick! So there you have. We might be able to connect in the ways we thought we should, but the Lord will use us none the less, everything is a kingdom opportunity.

Turns out that of all the good things we could plan, it is the sovereign God things that place us where we are supposed to be. Seize those opportunities today and make much of Jesus wherever and whenever you are!

Not Weird But Not Weirded Out

This last Sunday at church we walked through 1 Corinthians 12. It is the start to a section of Paul’s letter to the church where he highlights and gives the rules of order for pursuing and using the varied gifts the Holy Spirit gives the church.

We have gone through a significant replanting process in the last two years so there are not a lot of members of the church today that know our history all that well. Many of us are also new to environments where we believe the gifts of the Spirit continue today.

Truth is, our little church is made up of a wide collection of experiences and backgrounds. From high church to low and no church and everything in between. Some of us grew up in Presbyterian churches, others in Pentecostal ones. So we all come to the table with a wide range of perspectives but together we have determined to follow the model laid out in the Bible.

What then does that mean for us as we gather each week to worship Jesus? That means, as I explained to one young man yesterday, we are not weird, but also not weirded out. We will biblically avoid the abuses of so-called spiritual gifts we have seen in some places and we will follow the commands for order and removal of distraction from the gathered worship. At the same time though it means we are not weirded out, miraculous gifts functioning today won’t freak us out. They might surprise us but in a good way. We will rejoice when the Spirit determines to give us these gifts for the common good and we will cherish what we see as one of the most significant gifts, being able to call Jesus Christ Lord (1 Cor. 12:3).

We don’t know for sure what the Lord will do in the coming days or years, but we do know that he promises to empower our proclamation of Jesus. That we might know him and make him known.

I went to Disneyland

img_5995“Sorry for the one day delay, I took the family to Disneyland.” It is now Wednesday and while Monday was a holiday, I added an extra day so I could take the family on the fulfillment of the kids’ Christmas present and this was the line I just sent in a work email.

One of my routine tasks was pushed back by a day. Nothing earth shattering just a normal errand I have to run each week. And instead of submitting it right on time, I made the adventure the priority and there are no regrets.

I wonder how much dies to the responsibility of our routine tasks. Now certainly there are things that might be life and death, or solid commitments that can’t be missed, but I mean the things that can wait a minute. Those that can be trumped by something of greater priority when we have our priorities right.

My suggestion is that you survey the day, find what is important and do it, a one day delay usually won’t ruin you.