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Archive for the ‘Knowing God’ Category
Posted in Change, Christian Living, Christian Witness, Church Membership, Commitment, Dale Tedder, Discipleship, Evangelism, Every Sphere, Good Works, Gospel, Holiness, Jesus Christ, John Wesley, Kingdom Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Knowing God, Purpose, Salt and Light, Scriptural Holiness, Small Groups, Social Holiness, Social Justice, The Church, United Methodist Church, tagged Christian Witness, Dale Tedder, Discipleship, Every Sphere of Life, Gospel, Holiness, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Discipleship, Kingdom of God, The Church, United Methodist Book of Discipline, United Methodist Church on February 28, 2011 | 3 Comments »
On the very first page of our United Methodist Book of Discipline, we are reminded of the mission of the United Methodist Church. Our mission is…
To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
That’s why we’re here. That’s why Southside United Methodist Church exists. Our ultimate purpose is to glorify God and we do that by making disciples of his Son who will change the world with his Gospel.
Once again, I love the way our Discipline puts it. It says…
The local church provides the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs. It is a community of true believers under the Lordship of Christ. It is the redemptive fellowship in which the Word of God is preached by persons divinely called and the sacraments are duly administered according to Christ’s own appointment. Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, the church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and the redemption of the world.
Amen! I love that mission and the language used to express it.
And who could argue that our world is presently in serious need of redemption? In Egypt, Iran, New Zealand, Libya, China, and in our country – just to name a few – we find overwhelming sin, devastation, unrest, brokenness, war, death, and more. The fallen, sinful, broken human condition is on display for all to see.
If ever the world-at-large needed faithful disciples of Jesus Christ to bring redemption, it’s now.
But it’s not just “over there,” is it? It’s here in our own backyard. It’s our own lives, our families, our workplaces, our local community. Every sphere of our lives needs the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why we’re called to make faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
I want to briefly share with you two stories. The first is about an incredibly tiny and seemingly insignificant group of people who began turning the greatest empire in the world (at that time) upside down with nothing more than the Gospel. The second story takes place about 1,700 years later. It involves another small group of people who, armed only with that same gospel, helped turn England upside down.
We’ll take a look at Story #1, next time.
Grace and Truth,
Posted in Devotional Time, Knowing God, Personal Development, Redeeming the Time, Sanctification, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation, tagged Means of Grace, Ruth Haley Barton, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Life Checkup, Transforming Center on February 9, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Click here to read Part 1: Introduction
1. Do you have a passion to know, love, and follow God?________ In what ways? (Not sure what you mean______)
2. Do you have a God-centered life? ________ Explain: (Not sure what you mean________)
3. How often do you attend Sunday morning worship?
4. How meaningful is Sunday morning worship to you?
5. Do you have a regular time set apart for prayer? Describe your prayer life? Is it satisfying?
6. How meaningful is private worship to you? (i.e., personal devotions)
7. Do you feel you are becoming better acquainted with God (i.e., growing closer in your relationship with him) In what ways do you want know him better?________ Explain:
8. What other spiritual disciplines do you practice? How have they helped you grow closer to God?________ Explain:
9. Do you have a teachable spirit or do you resist instruction and direction from others? Explain:
As I mentioned in the previous post in this series, I would be honored to meet with you (or even correspond with you via email) to pray with you and help you discover ways in which you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and Truth,
Posted in Confession-Repentance, Dale Tedder, Faith, Good News, Gospel, Grace, Gratitude, Holy Communion, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Joy, Justifying Grace, Knowing God, Sacraments, Salvation, tagged Good News, Gospel, Holy Communion, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, Salvation, The Old Old Story, United Methodist, United Methodist Church on September 24, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Now, in just a minute, we’re going to celebrate Holy Communion. And as I said at the very beginning, this sacrament reminds us of the old, old story. It tells the story. But it’s more than that. This blessed sacrament invites us to enter into the story – to become a part of it.
In fact, through his Holy Spirit, we actually meet the main character of the old, old story – the Lord Jesus Christ. As we gather with our brothers and sisters in Christ and bow before him, Christ gathers with us in our midst. He’s with us in and through his Spirit as we receive his body and blood that he so lovingly and freely gave on our behalf.
But as I said, you have to enter into this by faith. United Methodists believe that this sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. In other words, we don’t receive this grace simply by going through the motions. Instead, it’s with joyful, thankful, love-filled hearts, that we receive the bread and cup in faith and trust and by which we commune with our Lord.
This is why you’ll always hear Pastor Bruce say, right before he invites you to come forward for Communion, that we’re no longer United Methodists, but Christians. That’s why everyone is invited to come.
But he also says, and our liturgy also reminds us, that we must come in faith and repentance. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 11 that we must participate in a worthy manner. The liturgy that we’ll use this morning says…
Christ our Lord invites to his table all who love him,
who earnestly repent of their sin
and seek to live in peace with one another.
A few pages further in the hymnal, another order of Communion says this…
Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins,
and are in love and charity with your neighbors,
and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God,
and walking henceforth in his holy ways:
Draw near with faith, and take this Holy Sacrament to your comfort,
and make your humble confession to almighty God.
Now, does that sound casual to you? Do those words indicate a lax attitude?
Beloved, if you’ve never genuinely and consciously repented of your sin and placed your trust in Christ as your Savior and Lord, I can’t imagine a better time and place for that to happen than today. And I want to encourage all of us, as you read the liturgy this morning, I want you to let it really come from your heart.
And then, when you come forward this morning to receive the bread and cup, do so with humble, joyful, and thankful hearts for what our Lord has done for us.
Thanks be to God.
Grace and Truth,
Posted in Atonement, Christian Living, Christian Witness, Church Membership, Confession-Repentance, Dale Tedder, Discipleship, Doctrine & Theology, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith, Good News, Gospel, Grace, Holy Communion, Jesus Christ, Justification, Justifying Grace, Kingdom Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Knowing God, Regeneration, Repentance, Resurrection, Sacraments, Salvation, Sin, Trusting God, tagged Atonement, Dale Tedder, Faith, Good News, Gospel, Jesus Christ, Justification, Justifying Grace, Repentance, Resurrection, Salvation, Sin, The Old Old Story on September 23, 2010 | 1 Comment »
Thus far we’ve seen that the old, old story is a lot older than we usually think. But what is that old story about? What is the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ?
Well, the shortest and easiest answer is given to us by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16…
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Beloved, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation. It’s God’s answer – his response – to our sin and sinfulness, our fallenness, our brokenness, our rebellion, our foolishness, our hurts, our pain, our suffering, our lostness.
You see, God doesn’t sit in heaven detached from his creation. Even though he created us in his image and declared that his creation was good – very good in fact – we along with (and because of) our first parents Adam and Eve – have gone our own way. We’ve rebelled against God. We’ve declared ourselves in charge and have resisted him.
And even though God in his perfect holiness and righteousness would’ve been justified in pouring out his wrath upon us, in his grace he poured out his love upon us instead.
As the Scriptures that we’ve already read tell us, God sent his deeply beloved, one and only Son… to live, to die, and to be raised for us. Here’s how Paul describes the Gospel…
Romans 3:21-26 – But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–  he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
So, you see, our sinfulness, and our rebellion, and our foolishness, and our willfulness, were paid for (atoned for) on the Cross by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture says that Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us.
And so, because of that great expression of love, we can know God. We can enter into a personal, deep, and abiding relationship with God. We can actually start becoming more and more like Christ in our daily lives. We can be made whole. We can receive both abundant and everlasting life. But it’s not automatic.
This is where we have to choose to enter into the story. You see… we must respond. We can’t just hear the old, old story of God’s good news and simply smile and say, “Well, that’s a nice story.” There’s no place for indifference to this story. We must BELIEVE the story.
We must place our faith – our trust – in Christ: in who he is (the very Son of God – Son, Savior, Lord).
We must trust in his Work on our behalf – his death upon the Cross for our sin and in his resurrection from the dead for our salvation.
We must repent – which means to turn away from our sinfulness, our own way, our selfishness, our rebellion, and we must turn toward God in love and faithfulness. Now, turning away from sin and turning toward God doesn’t earn us our salvation. Our salvation is a gift from God, just as Jesus is a gift to us. But it’s a gift we must open, so to speak. We must respond to it. We must receive it.
And when we do, not only are we declared righteous before a holy God, but our lives will begin to bear fruit. We’ll show that we really love and trust God and his Son Jesus Christ by seeking to live for him, desiring him, obeying him, and by loving our neighbors.
Faith and Repentance aren’t two separate things. They are two aspects of the same thing. They are, if you will, two sides of the same coin.
That’s why Jesus says in Mark 1:15, …”Repent and believe the good news!”
Beloved, this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and there is no other.
Next time we’ll conclude by showing how the old, old story of the Gospel and Holy Communion connect.
Grace and Truth,
Posted in Christian Living, Christian Witness, Church Membership, Discipleship, Evangelism, Gospel, Grace, Holiness, Jesus Christ, Justice, Justification, Justifying Grace, Kingdom Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Knowing God, Mercy, Mercy Ministries, Salt and Light, Salvation, Scriptural Holiness, Social Holiness, Social Justice, Stewardship, Worldview, tagged Discipleship, Evangelism, Gospel, Gospel in Life, Holiness, Justice, Kingdom Discipleship, Kingdom of God, Mercy, Timothy Keller on September 22, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Looks like a great new study on discipleship by Timothy Keller. Another great example of the gospel of the kingdom being for every sphere of life.
Posted in Christ, Christian Witness, Dale Tedder, Doctrine & Theology, Evangelism, Faith, Gospel, Grace, Holy Communion, Jesus Christ, Justification, Justifying Grace, Kingdom of God, Knowing God, Preaching Teaching, Repentance, Sacraments, Salvation, Theology, Truth, Worldview, tagged Candler School of Theology, Dale Tedder, Emory University, Fred Craddock, Pitts Theological Library, The Gospel, The Heart of Christianity, The Old Old Story, Victory in Jesus on September 21, 2010 | 3 Comments »
Both Pastor Bruce and I went to seminary in Atlanta at the Candler School of Theology. I really enjoyed those three years in Atlanta. In particular, there were two highlights about the seminary that I really loved.
The first one was the Pitts Theological Library. I don’t know if it still is, but when I was there it was the second largest theological library in the country – second only to Yale’s library. Very often, I would just disappear into the stacks of books and not be seen for days. It was glorious. The smell of all those old books made my heart flutter.
The second highlight for me was Fred Craddock. Dr. Craddock is a world-renowned preacher and preaching instructor. He’s now retired from Candler, but while he was there he was an institution. If you attended seminary at Candler, learning how to preach under Dr. Craddock was a “must.”
One of the things that Dr. Craddock taught us, something that’s always stayed with me, came from a story that he told. He shared with us a little of a conversation that he had with one of his former students who had graduated and who was serving a little rural church.
His former student was telling Dr. Craddock that he was going to wake that little country church up. He was going to bring them into the present. He was going to be new and fresh. As an example of this, he wasn’t going to preach the same old tired stuff during Christmas… stuff that they all knew. He was going to hit them with something new.
Dr. Craddock lovingly, and I’m sure, convincingly, shared with this new preacher that what those people needed (what we all need) and especially during seasons of Advent and Lent, is the old, old story of what God has done in Christ.
It’s not, of course, that you don’t preach to where people are. It’s not that you seek to be irrelevant. But, I believe, a clear and honest preaching of the old, old story is the most relevant subject there is. You see, what I mean, what Dr. Craddock meant, what the hymns communicate to us, and what the Bible says to us… is that the “old, old story” is the Gospel – or Good News – about Jesus Christ.
This morning we’re going to be celebrating Holy Communion. And the liturgy that’s part of the experience expresses in words, what the bread and cup express visually: the old, old story of God’s good news.
Here’s how the hymn, “Victory in Jesus,” communicates the old, old story…
I heard an old, old story,
how a Savior came from glory,
how he gave his life on Calvary
to save a wretch like me;
I heard about his groaning,
of his precious blood’s atoning,
then I repented of my sins
and won the victory.
O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!
he sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood;
he loved me ere I knew him, and all my love is due him;
he plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.
That’s the old, old story.
In the following posts I want to communicate two important truths. First, I want to communicate that the “old, old story,” is a lot older than most of us think. And second, I want to make sure by the time I’m done, that we all know what the “old, old story” is, and why I call it the Heart of Christianity.
Grace and Truth,
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