Northside Christian's Blog

content that is linked from Facebook and Twitter

Mission Trips aren’t as important as Missional Living (2 of 2)

July 28, 2010

What barriers stop us from living every second like we’re on a mission trip? What gets in the way of us loving others constantly to God? Well, I thought of a handful (read last week’s blog), and here are the rest:

WE DON’T HAVE TIME.

We’re hyper-scheduled and overbooked, working sixty to seventy hours a week to bring home the proverbial bacon. All this work leaves little time for band practice, book clubs, sporting events, church meetings, and some of you are crazy enough to go back to school! Oh, and then there’s of course “me” time. To quote from the Veggie Tales’ “Good Samaritan” cartoon, “We’re busy, busy, dreadfully busy. You’ve no idea what we have to do. Busy, busy, shockingly busy. Much, much too busy for you.”

WE’VE GOT BAGGAGE.

Our hearts and minds are burdened by internal conflict. I feel the4 guilt many times of living in varying degrees of comfort while my peers half a world away dress in rags and eat dust. On this side of the world, I am so tired and beat down at times that I choose not to share the freeing gospel I have inside with those around me in my community who need to be freed. My baggage keeps me from loving those around me. We constantly wonder whether we are driven to serve out of guilt (a longing for warm fuzzies; a hero-complex to validate our otherwise spoiled lives) OR – as it should be, we serve through a genuine, selfless, long-suffering love.

WE’RE CONFLICTED BY OUR CYNICAL ALTER EGOS.

We are still too selfish. We’re still full of pride at times. We hoard and waste and miss countless opportunities – all b/c we’re at the center of our own hearts, not Jesus. We need a revolutionary love to take over our hearts first, before we can allow God’s love to take over the world. Before we can use God-ordained weapons of love, charity, peace, and willful self-sacrifice, these things must reign in our hearts first.

God can eradicate the world’s pain that surrounds us all in His time. But while we’re here on this earth, we can each fulfill His ultimate command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Go live a missional life. Don’t just go to church be the church in all you do.

Zach

Advertisements

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Zach | Leave a comment

Mission Trips aren’t as important as Missional Living (1 of 2)

July 21, 2010

As you read this, I’m currently leading a mission trip in the 3rd world country of Ecuador. We are building basic homes in the jungle, painting school classrooms that have been rundown, loving on orphans, hugging the elderly, and doing all of this b/c of one reason: We believe love conquers over all broken and ugly things. We’ve sacrificed money, time, comforts – all to express Jesus to those who need to see His love. But if we don’t do the same back home, this is all in vain. Mission trips are great, but missional living is what we’re destined for.

If God is love, and we are made in His image and likeness, surely there is enough love in this world to wipe away every tear that falls from the eyes of those afflicted by pain, hunger, ware, or some other misery.

I was thinking the other day, What barriers stop us from living every second like we’re on a mission trip? What gets in the way of us loving others constantly to God? Well, I thought of a handful, and some are below and the other half of our selfish reasoning will be displayed next week:

WE’RE QUICK TO RESPOND, BUT ALSO QUICK TO FORGET.

We, especially my generation, are moved by intense, dramatic displays of horror and injustice. And we may be willing to open up a vein and start giving until our blood is drained, but only for a few days. Then the memory fades as quickly as our favorite cable news network jumps to another rest of news alerts, and for us, life moves on to more present and exciting things. I mean, when is the last time you prayed for Haiti? The earthquake is only 5 months old.

WE’RE MEDIA-MOVED PEOPLE.

I don’t know about you, but if I see a movie depicting the horrors of genocide, I’m only as soon as the credits rool wanting to make a donation to www.genocideintervention.net. We witness reporters in a foreign land filled with hunger and we vie to come with suitcases full of food. But we do not have this love and inspiration to love those around us. We aren’t compelled to take our emotional hurting co-worker out to lunch just to love on them. We’re moved by the media, not by the heart of Christ.

WE WILL GIVE FREELY, AS LONG AS IT DOESN’T HURT.

Like the law-abiding rich young man in Matthew 19 who wanted to do “good,” we struggle to give up our own comfort to heed the call of Christ; we’re constantly looking for easy and/or indulgent ways to give. But as Mother Theresa said once, “I hope you are not giving only your surplus. You must give what costs you, make a sacrifice, go without something you like, that your gift may have some value before God. Then you will be truly brothers and sisters to the poor who are deprived of even the things they need.”[1]

Stay tuned next week for the other three reasons why we purposefully choose to not live a life full of mission everyday.

Zach


[1] Jose Lui Gonzales-Balado and Janet N. Playfoot, eds., My Life for the Poort (San Francisco: Harper and Row Publishers, 1985), 32.

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 10 of 10

July 14, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 10 of 10

Religion strives after power through one’s own self-righteousness.

Gospel strives after power through the cross of Jesus, and through an empty tomb.

The Bible repeatedly says that God is righteous in everything He does, and that there is no one righteous but Him alone (Psalm 11:7; Isa. 45:21; Daniel 9:14). To clarify, the Bible uses the word “righteous” to show that God is straight, right, sinless, just, holy, perfect, and good.

As His image bearers, human beings were also made righteous, or what Genesis 1:31 calls “very good” and what Ecclesiastes 7:29 calls “upright”. But since the sins of our original parents, Adam and Eve, unrighteous living has been done by everyone who has walked this earth, except for Jesus Christ, the Author of the Gospel.

The good news of the Gospel is Jesus Christ, not self. Jesus is our glorious eternal God who humbly became a human being as the second Adam; He came to create a new humanity by taking back through obedience all that was lost through the sin of the first Adam, according to 1st Corinthians 15:45.

On the cross, the righteous Jesus died in our place as a substitute for us unrighteous sinners as 1 Peter 3:18 says: For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

All in all, religion takes one further away from God. The Gospel always brings people closer to God. The Gospel knocks out religion as God still continues to pursue the world through the message of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. May our lives do the same in all we do.     

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 93

July 14, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 9 of 10

July 7, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

Round 9 of 10

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 9 of 10

Religion leads to a life full of pride, or a life full of despair.

Religion cannot work in one’s life because it either leads to pride (behaving well) or despair (behaving poorly). If you base your life on trying to earn salvation, or God’s approval, through moral conduct and religious devotion, you will live in pride or in despair.

Religious people have a long list in their mind of what kind of person God loves (a good person) and they make it their life ambition to do their moral duties and prove to God that they love Him by what they do. If they do their mental list well, they become arrogant and have little compassion for people who struggle with sin. The hard truth for all of us, even me, is that pride is the worst sin of all. Our culture loves “self-esteem” and labels pride a virtue, but please don’t forget that pride is what got Satan’s tail kicked out of heaven. Satan’s example shows that pride can keep my tail out of heaven if I fail to repent and fail to revolve my life around Gospel principles.

On the other hand, religion leads to despair for those with the humble honesty to admit they don’t fully obey God’s law, and they also don’t live up continually to the little rules they’ve made up that aren’t in the Bible. No matter how hard they try, they never quite measure up to Jesus’ standard of perfection given in Matthew 5:48. Not only this, but a religious person’s spouse and kids will live in despair under this pressured example.

Gospel leads to a humbly, confident, joyous life full of obedience.

The Gospel teaches us that righteousness is not our own, but rather a gift from Jesus because of His work on the cross, which will lead into our final topic next week. Updated score: Gospel: 9, Religion: goose egg.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 98-99

July 7, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 8 of 10

June 30, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 8 of 10

Religion says, Life is more about works, so work hard, because you want to be confident in what you do when you stand before God.

When religious people are asked, Are you sure your sins are forgiven at the cross of Christ?, they reply, I hope so. The reason for uncertainty is because they base their worth to God on good works, trying to please Him enough so they are allowed into heaven when they stand before God. Religious people think that if they sin tomorrow (and they will), then all those hours helping out on a certain ministry team have gone to waste and they have to do more work in order for God to consider them His.

Gospel says, My standing before God is contingent on Jesus alone. I am secure and redeemed because of Jesus.

Please read First John 5:11-14.

John supports the Gospel here by saying that if you believe in the person of Jesus and in HIS work on the cross, you can know with assurance that your standing before God is secure and therefore live in the joy of that gift. Religion has no chance against the work of Jesus. Gospel wins Round 8.  

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 98

June 30, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 1 Comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 7 of 10

June 23, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 7 of 10

Religion says, I’m focused on external things. I care about the visible things a person does.

Gospel says, Don’t overlook the internal, invisible life of the heart where true motives lie.

To people in love with religion, how one appears on the outside before people is far more important than how they appear on the inside to God. Generally speaking, depending how much unbiblical kool-aid a person has consumed, religious people never allow themselves to appear overweight, disorganized, lazy, or even sinful. They have a hard time confessing their sins to their spouse and children because to confess sin would be to admit that their external, visible life is out of order. This would destroy their precious image they invested years into, but they’re not fooling God. He sees who they really are.

The Gospel is concerned FIRST with our inner self. Colossians 3:5 is incredibly helpful saying, Put to death what is earthly in you. God alone knows my heart and He tells me that the key to spiritual life is to put to death what is sinful inside of me.

For application purposes, if the Gospel is my compass, and not religion, then I won’t labor so hard to appear as a godly and righteous man on the outside but will humbly confess my sin and live in repentance. Only then will I be changed on the inside, which will naturally lead to change on the outside.

Religion likes to look good, Gospel likes to be good. Gospel wins. 7 in a row.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 97-98

June 23, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | 2 Comments

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 6 of 10

June 16, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 6 of 10

Religion says, It’s all about me.

If you know a selfish person, they are very difficult to live with. They think that God, their spouse, their children, their friends, co-workers, and the rest of humanity should obey and serve them as a mini-god. This is why they become angry over little things – friends stopping by unannounced, children coming to dinner late, a wife’s friend coming over for emotional support. They only think of things that happen around them inwardly, with the thought, How can this benefit me?

Gospel says, It’s not about me at all.

If religion rules over you, then your life is very selfish, and a selfish life is in contrast to the gospel. Philippians 2:1-11 says that Jesus is the most unselfish Person who has or will ever live. He exemplified this by a constant willingness to live for God’s glory, and to give me my salvation by suffering on the cross.

Jesus spoke of Himself as our example of dying to self and living for others in Mark 10:45: For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

When Religion says, It’s all about me, my rules, my interests, my life, it believes and behaves very worldly. And because of that, Gospel wins Round 6. We are not to be worldly, we are to be holy.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 97

June 16, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 5 of 10

June 9, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 5 of 10

Religion says, Hardship is an unloving punishment.

Gospel says, Hardship is a sanctifying discipline.

To start this one off, God does deal with the sins of Christians. Scripture examples show us that even death is a consequence of a Christian who remains unrepentant. Ananias and Sapphira (don’t name your kids these names no matter how cool they sound) dies in Acts 5:1-11 as a result of stealing from and lying to God. Christians in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 die as a result of taking the Lord’s Supper without repenting of sin. And to continue the good news, in James 5:13-18 God speaks of Christians becoming sick because of unrepentant sin, and 1 John 5:16 speaks of sin that leads to death.

In Hebrews 12:5-13, God reminds us that He is the loving Father who disciplines, chastises, or punishes His children appropriately, sometimes painfully, because He loves them. He does it for our good so our faith in Him can grow. Some hardship does come from God’s holy hand as a consequence for rebellious sin. HOWEVER, when He disciplines me, He doesn’t condemn me and certainly never breaks His relationship with me. He is never cruel, harsh, vindictive, or uncaring with His children. And throughout all the discipline and hardship we face, God is with us all the way.

Remember what David said in Psalm 23:4? Eat that Religion. Gospel wins Round 5.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 93

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 4 of 10

June 2, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 4 of 10

Religion says, It’s all about getting what you can from God.

Too many times I’ve seen Jesus offered as the means to an end. The false gospel of religion says that if you come to Jesus, God will make you healthy, wealthy, good-looking, successful, and He’ll also throw in perfect kids as a bonus. In the religion based life, God exists to give us rules by which we can live in our own little self-ran kingdoms that we’ve established. But the real Gospel is not about getting what we can from God.

Gospel says, It’s all about getting God Himself.

The goal of the Gospel is to get God into our lives, not to put us into His world. He is our greatest treasure, our highest joy, our ultimate source of life. And these things are true whether I’m rich or poor, healthy or sick, living or dying, happy or sad, good-looking or not so good-looking.

Doesn’t that sound like marriage vows? They are – Christ is your husband and you are the bride. This example is most clearly seen in Jesus on the cross where He gave nothing less than Himself as a gift to us. Religion loses Round 4.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 95

June 2, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 3 of 10

May 26th, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 3 of 10

Religion says, It’s all about what you DO.

Because of this infectious belief, religious people like to gauge right living on a measurable scale.

Gospel says, It’s all about what Jesus has DONE.

Such things as love, kindness, patience and other fruits of the Spirit listed here:

Galatians 5:22-23 are difficult to check off on a Christian ‘to-do’ list. The religious person likes to pursue things they can check off, things like regular church attendance, a clean house, acts of service, Bible-reading for 15 minutes a day and so on.

Conversely, the Gospel is not about what you can do, it’s about what Jesus has D-O-N-E, silly goose. It’s about what He’s done in you and for you and through you.

Gospel wins Round 3, I smell a winning streak.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pg. 95

May 26, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 2 of 10

May 19th, 2010

Gospel vs. Religion

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they become evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 2 of 10

Religion says, The world is full of good people and bad people.

Religious people make checklists, like Santa Claus, on a judgmental scale that determines whether people are good or bad. Generally, the religious crowd condemns as bad people unlike them, and they condone people as good who are like them. This has seeped into the church because of the political scene in our country. If I listen to a liberal talk radio show, the conservatives are the bad people, and the liberals are the heroes. If I listen to a conservative talk radio show, the liberals are the villains.

Gospel says, Everyone is bad except for Jesus. Everyone.

Check out Isaiah 53:6; Romans 2:23; and Hebrews 4:15.

If you read the verses above, the Bible teaches us that the world is not full of good and bad people. The world is full of sinners who are either repentant, or sinners who are unrepentant. I’m a repentant sinner, you? The world is full of either sinners who trust in Jesus’ death for their life, or sinners who remain separated from God under His wrath. I trust in Jesus’ death for my life, you?

Practically, this means that you too are a sinner who needs to continually repent of sin and trust in Jesus. Maybe it’s time you took some time to do that today, right now. Gospel wins Round 2.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pgs 94-5

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment

The Christian’s Continual Boxing Match – Round 1 of 10

Gospel vs. Religion

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I’m a good Christian. I hear that a lot. What they’re really saying is, I follow the rules. I worship the rules. Too many Christians have turned religion into an idol. The reason that idolatry is so alluring is that idols promise to make life worth living, bring us happiness, and provide for us and sense of being good. All of these desires are fine, but they turn into evil when they become our focus, rather than Jesus, who alone makes life worth living[1]. For many, it seems that control, comfort, and quiet are the idols many people are devoted to worshipping. We have elevated many things to a god-like status that aren’t really God-like at all. Over the next 10 weeks, I’d like to make aware the 10 differences between God’s truth (gospel) and the Christian’s idol (religion).

Round 1 of 10

Religion says, God will not love me until I obey his rules long enough to earn His love.

This view is like a father telling his children, If you obey all my rules for the next year, then I’ll be your daddy. I would’ve never had a dad if this were the case.

Gospel says, Because God has already loved me, and expressed His love through the work of Jesus on the cross, I am now free from sin to live a new obedient life by the power of His love give to me as a FREE gift.

Check out these verses here: 1 John 4:7-11

Jesus loved us through the cross before we ever loved Him. It is His love that transforms you and inspires you to love Him and the people in your life, and love them more each day. This obedient act (to love Him and love others) is not what we have to do because of duty, but it’s what we get to do in delight. Unlike with religion, Jesus loves us so that we might obey Him rather than demanding that we obey Him so that He, in turn, can love us. If God chose to love me based on what I’ve done for Him lately, one – He wouldn’t love me that much some days, and two – our relationship would be dysfunctional. Round 1 goes to Gospel.

Zach


[1] Driscoll, Mark, Death by Love, pgs 93-94

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Zach | | Leave a comment