Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

Did You Know You Were Made For This Time and Place?

The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.

Do you know your role in the story of which you inhabit?

We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Do you know your role in this world?

What are your responsibilities and opportunities in this cultural moment?

Where do I start in the square inch God has placed me?

If you are redeemed in Christ, then you inhabit the greatest story ever told. The Gospel is not limited to the way of salvation. It is bigger than that. Yes, your faith in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life is important. But, the Gospel I believe is not the Gospel of Lance. It’s not about me. Neither is the Gospel about you. Our salvation is not the end game nor is it the over-arching theme of the Bible. Jesus Christ proclaimed the ‘Gospel of the Kingdom.’

Michael Craven said, “The Gospel is so much larger than the personal plan for salvation. The Gospel of the Kingdom is the in-breaking rule and reign of Jesus Christ as King over all creation – redeeming and restoring all things. Through Him, the Kingdom of God has come into this world. Jesus has completed the atonement (payment) for our sin on the cross. By his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God the Father, He is presently ruling and reigning over creation. Christ is reinstating his righteousness on the earth.”

J.I. Packer said, “The Gospel starts by teaching us that we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us… Only when we have learned this can we see what sin is and understand the salvation from sin.”

The bad news is that our modern American gospel is man-centered not a God-centered Gospel. A God-centered Gospel is indeed Good News. There are two competing gospels, the gospel of the world vs the Gospel of the Kingdom. The former leads to death and destruction the latter leads to eternal life and human flourishing.

“Calling is at the heart of scripture.” – Os Guiness

God calls us, moreover, God invites us to inhabit His story. “When Christians see everything as calling from the Lord, we realize the dynamism of our faith” (Os Guiness). As we respond and enter into the overarching story of all of history, we go about setting things right in the world. In other words, we bring order to the disorder we find in our time and place.

“The Gospel isn’t a formula you apply to your life; it’s the Story you’re meant to inhabit.” – The Colson Center

A Unifying Vision:
As Christians, we must cultivate a unifying vision of the Lordship of Christ over the domain of our individual and collective lives as the local church. We shall live lives that are holy and pleasing to the Lord as we exercise dominion over that which God has placed in our care. The hallmarks of Christian maturity are; holy living, the ability to articulate a Christian vision of total reality, and a zeal to bring ALL things under the Lordship of Christ as co-reagents of His Kingdom – redeeming and restoring that which is lost and dying in the place and time in which we live.

We are witnesses to the ‘in-breaking’ rule and reign of Jesus Christ into history as we redeem and restore that which God has placed in our care. We beseech the lost world to be “reconciled to God” in Christ Jesus as we take our place in His great story.

As Christians, we are transformed through Christ. We are commanded to share the Gospel of the Kingdom with a lost world. We are also given another command called the Cultural Mandate or Dominion Mandate. “The cultural mandate is the command to exercise dominion over the earth, subdue it, and develop its latent potential (Gen. 1:26-28; cf. Gen. 2:15).” (9Marks) We create good, true and beautiful culture that transforms the world and the story we inhabit.

The late Chuck Colson said,Transformed lives transform lives – transformed lives transform culture.

We live in an extraordinary moment in history. We have an extraordinary God. We inhabit an extraordinary story. You Were Made For This Time and Place.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10

Author’s note: The piece I’ve written above are deeper reflections of my experience and what I’ve learned through the Colson Fellows program over the last two years. “Gain wisdom, live faithfully and act courageously.”

 

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Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service

Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service

Over the last twelve months, I have undergone the rigors of the Colson Fellows Program Residency. The mission of this master’s level course equips Christians with a robust Christian worldview so they can thoughtfully engage with post-Christian culture, inspire reflection in others, and work effectively toward re-shaping the world in the light of God’s kingdom.

I have been developing a bigger vision for my life’s work and calling.

I’m bringing this vision to bear in my role as a Local Missions pastor at Christ Chapel Bible Church. My role is to help our church engage in service in our communities.  My broader mission is to help my brothers and sisters develop a “distinctly Christian vision for life, culture, relationships and service.” In today’s post, I’m going to focus on service and what that means.

As I have reimagined and prayed about a ‘bigger vision’, I have realized my goal is not just to get people to serve but to understand the “Gospel of the Kingdom” – a truly Kingdom vision.  Serving is just one expression of this comprehensive view of reality. Jesus spoke of the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” We need to ask, ‘What does He mean by ‘Kingdom?’ (Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Luke 10:9, John 18:36).  I’ve found that the Kingdom sometimes gets lost in the noise of everyday life and even ministry.

When Jesus redeems and saves, He invites us to join him in Kingdom work of redeeming and restoring the world and culture (all things). My good friend and pastor Dr. Doug Cecil likes to say, “The Gospel is enshrined in our hearts and proclaimed with our lips.” I would also add that “the Gospel is also seen in our lives and felt through our hands and feet.”

Our witness is often seen before our words are heard. The Christian witness is often the window through which the unbelieving world sees the light of Christ. As Pastor Alistair Begg likes to say, “People often learn the melody of the Gospel before they learn the words.”

The church evangelizes the lost and calls redeemed people to play their role on the grand stage of God’s redemptive story (Acts 17:26, Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:12). In doing so, we demonstrate that the Gospel not only saves but infuses and empowers every aspect of the follower’s life. Through the power of the Holy Spirt, we bring forth  elements of Christ’s Kingdom into this broken world. Therefore, we should call our brothers and sisters from their inner-self focus to live the same way they were saved – by grace through faith. In reality, we are calling to that which God has already placed in the heart of the Christ-follower.

We have a purpose in this life.

We are saved “for” something.
We must answer the question, “How then shall we live?”

We’re not calling our people to “do” something, we are calling them to “be” something. Their “doing” (actions) will flow from a distinct vision of who they are and their identity in Christ.

Are you a ‘Check the box’ Christian?

In other words, do you fall into the habit of ‘checking boxes’ for going to church, attending a bible study and serving occasionally?  Would you say your Christian life is vibrant and joy-filled?  If not, why?

This call to develop a distinct Christian vision for service completely removes “check box” from the available options. It challenges the believer to step through the beautiful threshold of Salvation into the Kingdom – where Jesus beckons, “follow me.” In following, we are abiding. And in abiding, we are bearing much fruit – proving that we are His disciples. In this, there is fulness of joy.

The life of the follower of Christ teaches and sanctifies the world around them by how they reflect the One whom they follow (Matthew 5:16). Developing a distinct Christian vision for service enables the us to use our gifts, talents, passions and abilities to bring God’s redemptive and restorative power into a dark and broken world.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)

How then shall we serve?

 


Devotional Resource: From Ken Boa’s “Handbook of Wisdom” 

Whatever I do, I should do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Whatever I do, whether in word or in deed,
I will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

Prayer:
Father, I want to dedicate all that I do this very day to Your glory and honor. There is no component of life that cannot be lived for You, no task so small and mundane that it is unworthy of being offered to Your service. Whether in my speech or in my actions, I will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to You. Amen.


Read previous post: “The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline
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I love my job because I get to help people see

I love my job because I get to help people see

The other day, I went to the optometrist to get my eyes checked.

After my appointment, I strolled into the eye glasses shop to get my glasses adjusted.

The optician was a kind lady and I could tell at once she REALLY loved her job. She was so excited to adjust my bent glasses. She knew I wasn’t going to buy anything, she didn’t care about that.

After introducing myself, I remarked, “You must really love your work.” Her eyes began to shine and twinkle.

She responded, “I love my job because I get to help people see.” She continued, “Your eye doctor is the best and he wants the best for his patients. When they come to me, I give them the best glasses. So, I get to help people see!”

Wow!  What a lovely and contagious attitude.

As Christ-followers, we get to help people see too. We help people see Jesus. Whether we’re meeting a need, preaching, praying for someone or answering tough questions; we are clearing a sight-line to Jesus. He is the good doctor who is responsible for opening their eyes to the truth. But in God’s providence, we get to be a part of his work by sharing the gospel. That is staggering. What a privilege.

What if my attitude was more like that lady in the eye-glass store?

What a winsome way to open up a spiritual conversation with someone; “I love my work because I get to help people see!”

We don’t have to optician to help people see our Savior. We’ve got everything we need in Him. The question is, “Who am I helping to see Jesus right now?”

May this encourage you to ‘see’ your ministry from a different angle today.

Ps. 17:15


Read previous post: The Little Boy and the Little Lady
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The Sun Darkening at Noon – Perspective on Good Friday

In the darkness His hand awaits and His voice is heard, “Ye sinner, ye heavy ladened… come to me and I will give ye rest.

“The sun darkening at noon is a fit accompaniment of the death of Jesus. Is it not?”

– C.H. Spurgeon 1896 (Three Hours of Darkness)

As Easter approaches and the Christian community celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I believe it is equally important to reflect on his crucifixion – His atoning sacrifice for our sin.  Every Good Friday, I attempt to explore the agony of the Cross of Christ. It is a wonder beyond comprehension. Read of it in the Gospels and you’ll find your heart pierced. Below are thoughts stirred by Charles Spurgeon as he brings three hours of darkness into focus. There is a link at the end of this post to the entire sermon.  I encourage you to read it and reflect this week.

Veiled in darkness a cosmic transaction occurred. Mockers and murderers groped in the absence of light. Work and celebration were halted by a heavenly shadow. Concealed in a veil sin and death paid for in three holy hours no eye could see.  A price was paid.

“Nothing provokes the devil like the Cross.” We can expect clouds of darkness to gather anywhere the Cross of Christ is made known to hide it from the eye’s of the sinner.

Christ is the light of the world. You will live and die in darkness unless you reach for Him.
In the darkness His hand awaits and His voice is heard, “Ye sinner, ye heavy ladened… come to me and I will give ye rest. I will make my home in you and bring light into the dark windows of your soul. Once home, I will never leave you. MY spirit will never depart. I live, so shall you live.”

Finally, I’ll finish with a poem by William Cowper.

“Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.”

Will­iam Cow­per

Read Charles Spurgeon’s ‘The Hours of Darkness’ sermon here…


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Grace that is amazing

I confess that my desire to be right, liked, recognized and accepted by people overshadows my attention to their need for the Gospel of Grace. I’m like a thirsty man in a desert who finds a cool refreshing spring and does not tell others who are dying of thirst about the spring. Shall I drink and be refreshed as I watch friends and foes alike die of thirst? May it never be!

MLKjr-Faith
People are curious about my choice to enter into full time ministry. Folks I am close with tell me that it all makes perfect sense. I chuckle. Perhaps to them it makes sense, but I find it unbelievable! But, you know something? I’ve been walking with Jesus Christ for several years now. He has never let me down. He has always been faithful to the promises in his Word (the Bible). (more…)