Tuesday, October 07, 2014
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak to a group of men at Coral Ridge Presbtyerian Church for their annual Men’s weekend. I recounted to them an experience that Brock Warner and I shared when we atteneded the Liberate (www.liberate.org) conference for the first time a few years ago.
Tullian Tchividjian was preaching on Friday night of the conference and his message centered around the need of grace and the preaching of the Gospel as vital in the lives of Christians. The message was moving, helpful and delivered with great passion. When he was done we sat in the pew follwing worship soaking in the reality of the Gospel. Brock turned to me and said, “We’re not crazy are we?” I said, “Well, we might be crazy, but we are not wrong…”
I had two emotions when Brock said that to me. The first was offense. I was offended. What did he mean, ‘we’re not wrong, are we?’ How dare he insinuate that what I had been preaching was wrong. “WHAT A JERK!” said my heart. But then I thought about his statement, our history at Southwood, the incessant chatter that said over and over again that we had taken grace ‘too far.’ Brock wasn’t making a statement of criticism. He was making a sigh of relief. It was easy to begin to believe the blogs and sidebar comments, but hearing the same exact message from a different voice in a different venue was not only affirming, but very reassuring.
My second emotion was relief. As offended as I may have been initially I actually was experiencing the same emotion. I knew theologically that the Gospel and God’s grace were the necessary food for us to feed on, but I had even begun to second-guess myself. To hear the Gospel re-confirmed from men like Tullian, Steve Brown, Paul Tripp and dear sisters like Elyse Fitzpatrick and Sally Lloyd-Jones was like water to my own soul. I had been dispensing grace, but I was now devouring it. What a blessing!
That background made my time at Coral Ridge in September very meaningful and this is why: I got to give those men the same gift their church had given to me. I could tell by the looks on their faces and the comments they made to me that hearing the Gospel from another voice and vantage point gave them the same feeling— we’re not crazy. Ironically my friend Tullian and I are very different people. He is cool and hip with tattoos and bedazzled jeans. I am a 44 year old frat boy who preached in horn-rimmed glasses, lime green khakis and a blue blazer. We are very different, but the message is exactly the same: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom we are the worst.
The Gospel is fresh and new anytime we are willing to take the risk of being clients of grace instead of simply conduits. It is as liberating as we are willing to admit we are captivated by our own sin. If you are free in February book a flight down to Fort Lauderdale and go to liberate. You will remember that you aren’t crazy and that grace isn’t the wrong way it is the only way.
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Monday, June 09, 2014
The sermon from June 8, 2014 included an illustration to help us understand How To Love A Jerk. The following video includes the slides from the sermon along with the audio recording.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Common sense is uncommon. Common sense informed by timeless truth is even more rare. The ten thoughts below intended to help us keep “Uncommon Sense” from becoming extinct.
Your parents were right.
If you are asking, “about what?” then the answer is EVERYTHING. In the next 4 years the people to whom you had to explain Instagram will transform into very wise beings. They didn’t change. You did. When in doubt, trust your parent’s instincts. At some point in the future, use that cell phone they are paying for and call them to thank them. It won’t seem like much to you, but it will be huge to them. P.S. Parents aren’t infallible, you’ll learn that too. Parents need to be forgiven as much as they need to be respected.
You tend to marry the people you date.
This seems obvious, but follow the logic. You tend to marry the people you date. You tend to date the people you hang out with. You tend to hang out with people who live with, room with, study with, laugh with, eat with, etc. The people you choose to associate with are an important decision. You might think you are just “hanging out” with classmates, sorority sisters or lab partners but you might actually be making decisions about bridesmaids, groomsmen or whom you will raise your children with. It’s not “just lunch”— big life decisions are the culmination of hundreds of little ones.
Sex is not an extra-curricular activity.
You have been raised in a world where personal gratification is a birthright and any attempt to find that gratification is deemed “right.” That is an especially egregious lie as it pertains to sexuality. The only real “friends with benefits” are those who are willing to love you when you fall, call you out when you are wrong, laugh with you when you are happy and cry with you when you are sad. Sex was designed to be a picture of union and intimacy. Men and women were designed by God to be husbands and wives, naked and unashamed—not simply two people who are slaves to their biology choosing to use each other for self-gratification.
You might be the one who doesn’t know them.
If you think “nobody else really knows” the person you are dating or that everyone is too critical about the “great guy” who you met last week then it is probably you who is confused. The community knows an individual better than any one person can know that same individual. Remember when your best friend in High School started dating that guy and everyone said he was a jerk, but she told all of you that “you just don’t know him”? Remember when he cheated on her and broke her heart? Remember when no one was surprised except her? She wasn’t the “only one who knew him” she was the only one who didn’t!
Character can be made in many acts and lost in only one.
Decisions matter. They really matter. Find someone who got a DUI and ask them how it feels to check “felony” on every job application. Find someone who chose abortion and ask them if they were ever the same. Find someone who totally gave themselves to someone who didn’t give a damn about them. Find an addict who promised themselves that their first time was gonna be their last time. Find someone who is trying to get sober who never planned on being a drunk. Find someone who thought their Facebook rant would never go viral. Loving goodness, holiness and truth isn’t legalism it is the result of finding the love of Christ more intoxicating than anything else.
You are not your online profile.
Half of the reason we are so fearful that no one really knows us or likes us is that no one really knows us. If all you know about someone is the filtered, cropped and edited version of them, then you only know the image being portrayed, not the real person. Be very careful about hiding behind well-edited versions of yourself AND be just as careful about divulging your heart behind the apparent safety of a keyboard and a screen. Anyone who says they love you, like you or friend you, but who only knows the images, quotes and quips you’ve put online doesn’t really know you at all.
Go silent and get talking.
I heard about a group of college friends who went out to dinner and all placed their phones in the middle of the table. They discouraged disconnection from each other by deciding that first one to pick up their phone also had to pick up the check. The real people sitting across from us should take priority over the cyber-friends texting, snap-chatting or tagging us. A few years ago, as I was checking an incoming call at the same time I was speaking to a friend, he told me how de-valuing my actions felt. He said that I wasn’t just “checking a call” I was deciding which conversation and which person was most important. Be the first to put your phone in the middle of the table. Go low-tech and high-touch with your friends and family. You will be amazed at how #great it is to spend time with the live streaming version of the person sitting right across from you.
“Thinking Christian” is not an oxymoron.
Do not silo yourself off from people you disagree with. Running from classes and conversations where your views aren’t shared isn’t a taking a stand for Jesus it is running from your own fears. God isn’t afraid that your professor is going to disprove His existence and you don’t have to be afraid either. God’s Word and His creation both speak about Him. Be willing to look for God’s design everywhere, even in the faces of people who might be debating with you. They were His creation long before you started arguing with them about things like creation. All truth is His truth. Environmentalism, social justice and standing up for lost causes are not the inventions of your Alma Mater they are the inventions of your Creator, but no one will ever believe they are His ideas unless they see another of His ideas in you first—love.
People are more than adjectives.
The words gay, straight, liberal, conservative, greek or ghetto are among the many adjectives that you will be tempted to assign to others. These adjectives begin to define others, but the worth and value of a person comes from their design not from how we define them. In the Weight of Glory C.S. Lewis wrote, “the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…” You do not have to love what someone believes or the choices they have made in order to love them. Jesus loved us when we agreed with Him about nothing. He loved us when we represented the antithesis of everything he was. He was willing to love lepers, whores, tax collectors and sinners—people just like you. Your motivation to love others comes from remembering His re-defining love for a sinner like you, not from remembering to show condescending, self-righteous toleration for all the adjectival people around you.
Your faith matters.
God’s grace is what makes you who you are, not your GPA or your career. It sets you free from your failures and your successes. It may come as a shock to you but you will experience failure. The Gospel promises that when you fail and when you fall, you do not fall out of His Grace you fall into it. That doesn’t mean you can dabble with sin. It means precisely the opposite: in Christ you are set free from sin, not set free to sin. Above all else remember this: you can always come home. No matter what you’ve done, no matter where you’ve been and no matter what went wrong— you can come home. Everything in you will tell you that the common sense thing to do is to stay away from God, clean up your act and then come home once you are “better.” That is a lie. The Gospel produces a divine uncommon sense that reminds us about lost things getting found by a Father who always receives prodigals.
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Monday, June 13, 2011
I spent last week at the YMCA of the Rockies preaching on the Authority of the Word of God for RYM. It was a wonderful week to see how God is moving in the next generation of our church to taste and see that the Lord is good. There is something profound about being surrounded by snowcapped mountain peaks when it is a beautiful 85 degrees outside. The only word which captures this is: breathtaking. It really is profound.
Ken and Jeanette Leggett brought 8 of our students to the conference and spent one on one time with them enjoying the conference and creation.
My week began with a ‘BOOM’—- I sat in my room and listened to Will Spink’s sermon, “A Savior For Near-sighted Disciples (like me)”. It was EXCELLENT! The Holy Spirit really used it to minister grace to me as I prepared to teach these students. Will’s reminder that when Jesus gets ‘blurry’ in our lives that HE moves back into focus and doesn’t demand that we ‘see better’ was profound. What a blessing it is to have a pastoral staff who are so gifted and blessed!
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Jesus+Nothing = Everything
“Jesus + Nothing = Everything will remind you of the ancient yet ever-fresh truth that everything we need is found in the perfections of Christ—not in ourselves, not in our reputation, our relationships or wealth or accomplishments—in Christ alone. If you’ve never rested in the finished work of Christ this book is for you. If you’ve rested in it for decades like I have, this book is for you, too. Why? Because we forget; And, although we love Jesus, we’re blind to the ways in which his work connects to our daily lives and we wonder why joy and zeal are foreign concepts to us.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick
A Scandalous Freedom
Get ready to be bothered by the Gospel. Steve Brown teaches grace in a way that gets under your skin—- Reading Brown is like having a gospel hair in your mouth of your conscience. The more it bothers you the more beautiful the pearl produced will be
The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
From the publisher: “It is a deep and rich biblical study of sanctification - how Christians grow in holiness and become more like Jesus. In a day when Christians are very prone to pursue self-help methods to grow in obedience to Christ, Walter Marshall lays out the biblical way of growth: obedience comes as Christians live by grace, in union with Christ, by faith.” This book influenced me PROFOUNDLY on the topic of sanctification. The Modern-English re-write makes this a TOP PICK for 2011!
12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee (like me)
I ‘accidentally’ picked up this book simply for the title alone. I grew to hate it quickly. It hit a little ‘too close to home.’ Fischer’s book plunges the scalpel of self-awareness and need for deep repentance deep into the hard hearts of Pharisees like ME!
- Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Ricky Jones is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is a trophy of grace. If you want to listen to bold preaching by a man who knows his sin, knows his weaknesses and trusts only Jesus to take what he says and use it to God’s glory then you are heading in the right direction. The preaching is bold, the preacher is humble and you will be blessed.
- Key Life Ministries
Steve Brown is not the most subtle guy you will ever meet. If I were to write an S.A.T. question about Steve this is how it would go: Steve Brown is to legalism what a child hopped-up on cake and ice cream is to an pinata! I love this guy. Check out his website and fair warning: you are not heading to a ‘SAFE’ little Christian site!
- Coral Ridge Presbyterian
As one comment on iTunes said: “Tullian preaches the Gospel in an unadulterated and undomesitcated way…The way it should be preached!”
- Mockingbird Blog
Mockingbird is a ministry that seeks to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in as fresh and down-to-earth a way possible.
- White Horse Inn
White Horse Inn is a multimedia catalyst for reformation. We believe that each generation must rediscover and apply the gospel to their own time. We long to see a second reformation take hold of our churches and return them to the God-honoring, Christ-centered, Spirit-wrought places of worship they should be.
- On Earth as it is in Heaven
William Graham Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced cha-vi-jin) is a Florida native, the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, and a grandson of Billy and Ruth Graham.
Smith is the founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN, avid writer, prolific blogger and tweeter. His nuggets of Gospel wisdom are seasoned by years of service to the Bride. He is gentle and very purposed in his every comment.