GospelThread

Recently I had a new friend ask me if any of my recent sermons we “gospel-centered.” I internally chuckled and verbally responded that I think at least one of them is. Of course I hope all of my sermons highlight and show how the gospel is revealed in all of Scripture because frankly it “ain’t preachin’ if it ain’t Jesus.” I probably come up short regularly but to proclaim the biblical gospel is the goal each and every time I am in the pulpit. It also happens to be my goal in writing as well.

To that end I am excited to be part of a new online commentary that will help all of us discover the thread of the gospel in the whole of the Bible. GospelThread is an endeavor that desires to put helpful, concise, Jesus exalting commentary right where you spend most of your days anyway, the internet. Today they introduced me as a contributor and I hope you might follow along and see the thread for yourself in Scripture. You can read about it here.

Subscribe to the blog, follow the social links (facebook, twitter, insta, youtube) and drink deeply of Christ and his grace in all of the Bible. You can also support the ministry to help get it fully off the ground, or maybe into the cloud, this coming spring.

For your viewing pleasure, check out the guys behind GospelThread.

 

 

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Taking Time

With a collection of busy schedules and kids to corral, coming together each week for our Grace Group (church small group) can be quite the feat. But last night we did it again. One family was sick, in my family one spouse was sick, otherwise four other couples assembled around kids playing on the floor to talk about the promise of a child born to save the world and what it meant for us to be living in the promise.

We started off by singing some Christmas hymns reminding each other of the grace of Christ in song then we talked traditions of surprise and eventually we opened the Word and saw Jesus.

As I sat there, asking a few questions to keep the conversation flowing around the distractions of our kids parading through the house, I reflected on how good and right this felt. A group of people once strangers now bound by the truth we cling to. There were some tears and long pauses as we recounted the difficulties of life and sighs of relief as we declared the gospel to each other and felt what it is like to be Christ’s beloved. This is what we were meant for and it feels like home.

Over the course of the conversation, at least twice, when answering a question on what we could do as a community of believers to help each other live in the light of the promise of Christ, someone mentioned taking the time to care for and speak truth to each other. This is not something you can do overnight, it is an investment and takes sacrifice from all of us to experience it. And it hit me, we were not implementing some fast-track church growth strategy by coming together, we are building patient community. We are experiencing the value of living slow with each other.

Living slow can take on a number of forms but it generally means being present, a lot. Studying Scripture together, drinking good wine together, watching the big games (and the little ones). Living slow is taking time away from other things to be with one another; often the things we selfishly want. It is not the way of our context but it is the way of our biblical reality and it is good.

We have a long way to go. There are many moons to add to our lives together, but Jesus will be in the center of it all. There will be others added to our crew, but it will be Jesus they come for. All along the way we will continue to take the time, because we know it is right, we know it is good.

I encourage you to take some time where you are. To find gospel friends that can remind you, laugh with you, cry with you and see Jesus with you. Live it all slow. Savor it. You might find that it feels like home.

 

 

Anticipating… no longing for Christmas

Something rather strange has come over me this fall. If you have known me for long enough, you would know that the preparation and celebration of Christmas, at least in my opinion, is meant for a very specific block of the calendar that falls just after Thanksgiving and ends immediately after Christmas dinner. My wife has called me a Scrooge, and I have been fine with the title.

Enter 2016. This has been an interesting year. On the home front it has been wonderful. Our big focus was adoption and now Adia is home with us and advancing by leaps and bounds. The big kids are great with their sister and all three are such a joy to parent. Stacy has taken on so much and handled it all with grace and poise. Even the dogs are doing awesome!

For all of its goodness 2016 has also been a hard year. Sickness and hospital visits/stay for the littles. Some difficult transitions of families from our church. And friends that have faced devastating prognoses, relocations, heartbreak, death, you name it. Add a layer of political and racial unrest in our country and wham… we are ready for something better.

So I sit here typxmass-treeing in a room fully decorated for Christmas. I have been listening to Christmas music for a few weeks and all around I can’t wait for Christmas. The food, the laughter, the joy, the glorious reminder of Immanuel the God with us; all of the wonderful things Christmas promises. In fact I am thankful that I have the longing for them because it tells me I am built to long for better, for truer things.

This is what Christmas should be for us. The thankful anticipation we have on this side of the cross. Thankful for the accomplished work of our redemption by the Savior that entered the scene as a child born unto us. Anticipating his return, the final restoration of all things, the end of sin, heartbreak, cancer, war and hurt. Reminded of it in every sip of egg nog and song sung round the fire…pit.

I invite you to join me in the longing. The celebration of what we have been given and the future we will see. Anticipate it with me. Revel in the goodness of a God who dwells in our mess, in the pain, in order to rescue us from it. Go ahead… sing Silent Night and rejoice!

Bread Machines and Relying on God

This week I was having a conversation with one of the leaders at our church and I realized that the model and instruments I assumed would always be in place at our church were shifting. New things were happening and they wouldn’t look like I expected. It surprisingly discouraged me in the moment and had me contemplating every possible end point and result, all of which seemed harsh or too difficult. Then I took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese and had some healthy distraction.

Now, this is where I might get a little weird for some readers. I am going to talk about a dream and how I think the Lord was using it to teach me something about relying on him. So there I am catching winks and my mind goes to dreamland. As a bit of background, as a family we bake our own bread using a thrift store acquired bread machine. So there I am in the dream and what I remember of it is a couple had come to buy my machine; the lady had brown hair and the man wore a blue blazer (not that those details mean anything!). But as they took it I remember a feeling of dread. “How will I make bread?” was my refrain and I felt helpless as the bargain hunters took a vitally important tool.

Fast forward to my morning coffee. As I read Psalm 69 and was greatly comforted by God’s Word, I realized, ‘there is more than one way to bake bread.’ You can bake bread without a bread machine. Profound, I know. But it hit me, God will build his church as he desires and with the instruments he wants to. So the bread machine dream, for me, it is about relying on Christ and his provision, his plan and his perfection.

I don’t have to labor under the burden of my own strategy and strength alone. I don’t have to have it all figured out.  But I do get to rely on the faithfulness of God, on the gift of grace we have been given in the cross and the power of the Spirit in the life of a Christian.

What great hope this reliance engenders in me. Current circumstances and future realities are all the more purposeful and solved because Christ reigns. Now to walk in that truth and lean into the care of Christ!