Investing in the New Year

It’s time for a mental year end inventory of our assets…bank accounts, investments, 401(k), house, cars, boats, furniture, phones, electronics, clothes, collections, books, coins, stamps, sports memorabilia, video games, guns, you name it.

Are you satisfied with what you have and the most recent gifts you received? Are you concerned it’s not enough? Perhaps you’re concerned that you’ll lose it.

First of all, it’s not wrong or a sin to have any of the above, but it could be if it defines who we are. Investing wisely and saving for the future are sound Biblical principles. However, let’s consider Matthew 6:20: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. And let’s check our hearts…is it possible that we’re more concerned about earthly treasure than we are heavenly treasure? Are we more concerned about our mini-kingdom’s than we are about the people around us?

The truth is every one of our things will be taken away. We can’t buy our way into heaven and we can’t take anything with us. In fact, the only things we can take with us to the next life aren’t things at all. It’s people.

Therefore, let’s focus on laying up treasures in heaven and setting our minds on things that are above, not on things on this earth. For we have died and our lives are hidden through Christ in God (See Colossians 3:1-4).

So, what can we do differently to invest more wisely in God’s Kingdom and the lives of other people? The greatest investment we can make is not one that we buy shares in, it’s a Treasure that we give away. It’s the good news of Jesus Christ and the hope and forgiveness of sin He provides.  

In the new year, may we steward our lives and resources to become better disciplemakers to be used toward His Kingdom gain, while we learn to count all else as loss. 

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ. ~Philippians 3:8

Innocent

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Don’t send me away in anger
To the hell you’ve reserved
Don’t send me to fiery torment
Though that’s what I deserve
Don’t forget about your mercy
Please remember your love
I’m innocent in You, O Lord

For you declare me innocent
Hidden from the wrathful flood
You declare me innocent
By the Righteousness of God
You declare me innocent
Cleansed by priceless blood
I’m innocent in You, O Lord

Don’t count me among the wicked
Though I’m a hypocrite
Don’t see my pride, lust, or failures
Which I have to admit
Don’t forget undeserved kindness
Cause I’m clinging to it
I’m innocent in You, O Lord

Pardoned, my guilt is clear
Adopted, I’ve been brought near
Forgiven, no sin remains
Restored, with a heart that’s changed

Behind the lines

Psalm 26

Christ Exalted

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Righteous Redeemer, a cross raised high,
Humbled He came, forsaken to die,
He took our sin, God in our place,
Now we sing Christ, amazing grace.

Righteous Redeemer, sent to save,
His great power conquered the grave,
Risen Savior, the Hope for man,
Forgiveness of sin, His sovereign plan.

Christ exalted, Spirit move,
Draw us near, dead hearts made new,
Great is the gospel, it’s Your fame,
Christ exalted, we proclaim.

Righteous Redeemer, seated on high,
Holy, Holy, Holy the cry,
He reigns eternal, Savior and King,
Christ Exalted, the praise we sing.

(Bridge)
This myst’ry, Christ in me, the Hope of glory,
This myst’ry, Christ in me, the Hope of glory.

Behind the lines

Co-written with David Ennis, Drew Pearce, and Kevin Schultz.

Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted (Isaiah 52:13 ESV).

The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him  (Acts 5:30-32 ESV).

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:8-11 ESV).

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27 ESV).

Praise the Lord All Nations

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There’s a new child of God somewhere in the world,
Rejoicing and singing to the Lord,
People from all nations tell of salvation,
Rejoicing and singing to the Lord.

Praise the Lord all nations,
Praise the Lord all nations,
Go, and praise the Lord!

Alabado sea el Señor (Spanish)
Louez le Seigneur (French)
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Preist den Herrn (German)
Lodate il Signore (Italian)
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let’s praise the Lord.

Let ev’ry tribe and tongue have a universal song,
Rejoicing and singing to the Lord,
Proclaiming the gospel, making disciples,
Rejoicing and singing to the Lord.

For Your love is greater,
You’re faithful forever,
Praise the Lord!

Behind the lines

Psalm 117

“Rhythms of Grace” Review

I recently completed Mike Cosper’s book Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel and was able to sing along because he skillfully frames church worship, liturgy, and the gospel story.


Cosper inspires by retelling the story of worship starting before the beginning, through creation and the Garden, and on to the coming of the Son of Man. He ends his summary of gospel song this way:

“That’s the story of worship: God creates, sin corrupts, but Christ redeems. And all of us get to sing along.”

He goes on to break down worship into three parts:

  • One object and author
  • Two contexts
  • Three audiences

He writes, “God is at the center of our worship. He is the single most glorious thing in the whole universe, the One to whom we ascribe the greatest and highest worth…Worship is about God, from beginning to end.”

Cosper distinguishes the two contexts as scattered and gathered. When scattered we worship and spread the gospel individually. We represent Christ as He works and sings through us while we’re going. But when we come together, we sing the same gospel to one another.

“The gathered body teaches the Word and proclaims it together; we speak the truth in love as we sing, read the Scriptures, and remember the gospel together.”

He defines the three audiences:  God, the church, and the watching world.

“There is God, who is both the object of our praise and a witness to us as we praise him; there is  the church, which both participates in and witnesses the lives and gatherings of the people, and there is the world watching from the darkness.”

Cosper then challenges us with what goes wrong when we confuse these categories and overemphasize contexts and audiences. He tells the story of the church, provides excellent examples of gospel shaped liturgy, and beautifully reminds us:

“The gospel is what connects people – not music. Our differences are never so slight as they are at the foot of the cross.”

“If we’re gathering humbly, united by the gospel, we should be marked by a sense of thankfulness that brings us together, regardless of our stylistic and cultural decisions.”

“If music in the church is just about consumeristic preference, then my singing is motivated by personal tastes. If singing is about letting God’s Word dwell among us, then my singing is motivated by love for God.”

“We need to be willing to boldly challenge tradition for the sake of gospel clarity.”

What about you? Are you singing the gospel and worshiping with clarity, passion, and a love for God and other people? Are you willing to give grace to others who have different worship styles and preferences?

Cold?

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Are my sins forgiven?
Is the gospel not good?
Do I serve like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Do I love the world more?
Do I think that I’m good?
Do I live like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Do I share Your love well?
Do I long for Your Word?
Do I pray like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Do I love my neighbors?
Do I cling to idols?
Do I give like I should?
If I’m cold, shine Your Light.

Are my sins forgiven?
Is the gospel not good?
Is grace misunderstood?

Behind the lines

Our desire to read God’s word, pray, and serve others stems from hearts changed by grace. We then grow in these disciplines through joyful obedience as we live out the commands found in the Bible.

However, we will not do this perfectly. Sometimes we’ll slack and grow cold to these disciplines (often due to busyness or laziness), but then God shines His light and draws us back to His word and commands (for He disciplines whom He loves).

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline (Hebrews 12:3-7 ESV)?

Yet, there is another aspect to spiritual disciplines that can be sinful. We need to be careful that legalism doesn’t creep in because of our own super spiritual checklist. If this occurs, soon guilt and our own laws can take us (and others) down a path of works that rob us of His joy.

Tim Chester’s book You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions addresses this idea:

“Our rituals and disciplines can’t change us.”

“We all have a strong tendency to want to live by a list of rules – it’s called legalism.”

“Legalism is appealing for two reasons. First, it makes holiness manageable. A heart wholly devoted to God is a tough demand, but a list of ten rules I can cope with.”

“…we’re no longer under law, but grace. This is counter-intuitive,  People think that law and legalism will best motivate us to strive to do what’s right. But its grace that enables us to live for God.”

I sometimes fall into selfishness and “woe is me” moments and have to remind myself of the gospel and God’s grace. Who am I serving (myself, man, or God)? Am I dependent on my works to feel good about myself? Has legalism crept in? Am I trying to live up to someone else’s expectations? Or, am I motivated to obedience by a heart changed by grace and a love for God’s word?

If you are in Christ, your sins are forgiven and the gospel is good! May He pour out His grace, change our hearts, open our eyes to legalism, and shine upon us so we walk in His light. The below passage is not specific to legalism, but I think the ideas expressed here can be applied to legalism (and all kinds of sin).

…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:8-17 ESV).

Do you have areas of legalism that you need to confess and deal with?

May He shine His light…

Your Story

milky-way-1023340_1920The Sovereign from the beginning,
You had no start, have no ending,
Your story goes on and on.

Once upon a time You made man,
Man would fall deep, deep into sin,
But there was a redemptive plan.

This is the gift of God, we cry holy,
This is the gift of God, what a story!

A story of death and living,
Story of grace, new beginnings,
The Savior of the world,
The Savior of the world,
This is Your story.

You came to die upon the cross,
Endured the wrath, paid for the lost,
You came to redeem sinful man.

“It is finished” was Your plea,
Then You would rise, You broke free,
Your story goes on and on.

Story of grace, story of love,
You came to shed Your precious blood,
Story of grace, story of love,
You came to shed Your precious blood.

Behind the lines

I mentioned in my last post (Blank Canvas) that I was grateful for what God has revealed about Himself in His Word. It’s His eternal story for His infinite glory!

What an amazing God!

Gospel Joy

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My God, my God, my hope is found,
Through Your pierced hands and feet,
Christ beyond worth, from virgin birth,
Fulfilled the mercy seat.

My God, my God, forsaken Son,
You cried in agony,
And died before, the veil was tore,
Then rose in victory.

O sing, rejoice, for gospel joy,
Salvation is His name,
The Promised Seed, from death was freed,
Forever He will reign.

Your cross, Your blood, Your streams of grace,
Have rendered my heart clean,
Child of the fall, the worst of all,
Yet I have been redeemed.

Your joy, Your love, Your righteousness,
Your gift of grace was free,
The old destroyed, new life enjoyed,
For all eternity.

O sing, rejoice, for gospel joy,
Salvation is His name,
In this rebirth, tell all the earth,
Go forth and spread His fame.

Behind the Lines

To undeserving sinners the gospel of grace brings overwhelming joy. That a Holy God would send His only Son to live the perfect life we could not live, to die the horrible death and take the wrath we duly deserve, to redeem vile sinners such as us, is wonderful news indeed.

Those justified through the blood of Christ, those called with repentant hearts, will cry out to our glorious King Jesus and praise Him in joy because of the righteousness imputed to us.

Spread the news…

Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 12, Matthew 1:21, 27:46-54, Mark 15:33-39, Romans 16:20

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