Religion

Thank you

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It was very exciting seeing several of you guys buying my book, Gazing At Grace, and helping me climb Amazons best sellers list. Thanks for your support. Not only were you guys buying Gazing At Grace, but a couple of my other titles started moving as well. Truly humbled.

Today is a new day though. Gazing At Grace is still only $1 in the kindle store, and my goal is to get this book in as many hands as possible. Help me spread the word, and if you haven’t picked it up yet go get it today! I really think you will be blessed by it.

-Chris

To buy Gazing At Grace, click here!

In light of the cross

I was at work the other day (and not having a particularly good day) when I found myself being rude to a customer. Not overtly rude, mind you. But still rude enough to get the point across that I was not happy with this particular customer. I’m not sure why though, just as the transaction with this customer was completed, I looked at her and wondered what was going on with her day.

I asked myself why this customer might be annoying me so. Why did the customer seem so distracted? Why did I care so much? Was it really going to kill me if this transaction took two minutes – as opposed to a minute and a half?

I actually found myself feeling rather guilty. I found myself thinking this is a person created in the image of God. This is a person Jesus cares about. How would Jesus have treated her?

Yes…all of this happened in span of no more than two minutes.

As I caught myself thinking these thoughts – and realized how rude I was being – and how contrary it was to the way of Christ, I tried to correct myself and be overly-nice to this person. I’m sure she thought I was the Jekyll and Hyde cashier. She eventually went on her merry way, completely unaware of the mental and spiritual dialogue that had taken place in my mind.

I thought about this moment for the next several hours- feeling guilty and beating myself up. I asked myself, “Did Jesus go to the cross so that you could act this way? Jesus didn’t die so you could treat people, created in his image in this way. Is this the way I am supposed to live in light of the cross?” I then began to ponder all of the ways in which I am supposed to live in light of the cross. And then it hit me.

Stop beating yourself up. Jesus did in fact go to the cross, and your sins are covered. You are forgiven. The weight of my sin on this particular day was lifted from my shoulders. I started contemplating the beauty of the cross and the riches we have in Christ. I was humbled and amazed by the many facets of what it means to live my life in light of the cross. I was stunned by the grace of God poured out through Christ.

So what does it mean, “…to live your life in light of the cross?” Why is it so stunning?

First of all, the cross of Jesus is a picture of amazing love. As we ponder the love of God displayed by Jesus, we should be moved to love like Jesus. If in our sinfulness God still loved and loves us, how can we not choose to show love to our fellow sinners? Not out of obligation, but so that we can also show them how Jesus loves. Our lives as Christians should be lives defined by love. Our desire should be to make everyone aware of this amazing love that we’ve been shown. This happens as we put this love on display. Jesus loves us in spite of all of our faults and failures. This being true, we must love others in the same way.

This leads to the next point. Even when we mess up, Jesus still loves us. Even when I was treating this customer poorly, Jesus loved me. Jesus died for my rudeness. My sins are ALL covered by the cross. I’m forgiven. Because of this fact, I don’t need to dwell on this sin. I’m free to move on. Does this mean I don’t think about my sin? I don’t think so. I think we should mourn over sin…because I believe God does. God desires holiness from His people…yet, we have this holiness in Christ. Therefore, even though we acknowledge our sin, we don’t stay there mired and wallowing in guilt. We can go boldly, proclaiming that we are forgiven.

We could continue to analyze this from all angles (the many facets of the cross are far more than what can be put forth in any blog post) but I can sum up this point like this:

Because of the cross, we have the responsibility AND the freedom to love others, in spite of all of their sins and failures. Also, because of the cross, we can know that even when we aren’t doing this perfectly, God still loves us in spite of all of our sins and failures.

For those of us who have experienced and known the unbelievable love and mercy of God, we don’t have to live defeated lives of guilt defined by our failure and sin. We can live lives of perpetual joy knowing that we are always loved and always accepted by God. What can be better than that?

This truth is what defines us as believers. Because we are loved much, we love much. Because we are forgiven much, we forgive much. And even when we don’t, we are no less loved or forgiven.

How freeing is that?

How wonderful is that?

Now, let’s go and enjoy the rest of our day, the rest of our lives even, resting in these marvelous truths and resting in this unbelievable love and mercy of God.

An excerpt from “Gazing At Grace”

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Another excerpt from my new book, “Gazing At Grace”:

“I think so many times we come to Philippians 2:5-11, we say, “Okay, here is a list of things Jesus did, now you have to go and do the same.” It’s almost like a formula. If we want unity in the church, we’ve got to do these things, and then unity happens. So we come to these verses, and we see Jesus as a formula.

But Jesus isn’t a formula. Jesus is the object of our affections. Jesus is the one to whom we come and worship. Jesus is the one whom we gaze at and fall to our knees in awe of his majesty. Jesus isn’t just a good example.

But so many times when we read this passage, or preach this passage we read it simply as Jesus is our example, now let’s go and do likewise. But I think if we read Scripture like this, we miss the big point. We miss the forest, for the trees so to say.

Like I said, Paul is encouraging and comforting the Philippians. How is Paul doing that? He’s telling them to look to Christ! You want comfort, you want encouragement? Look to Christ! Look at who He is! Look at what he’s done!”

Gazing At Grace: Six Sermons To Show The Savior, click here to order.

Words Fail Me

Since “In the beginning…” and “Let there be…”
Man has been grasping for, and trying to wrap his mind around eternity.
Since His life filled our lungs we’ve been searching our minds
Reaching for words, to try and define
The beauty we see, the love that we need.

Words are so insufficient for a God beyond our comprehension
Praise and glory to a God that condescended.
He was revealed to us as the Word, in shadows and pictures
Still we were blinded by sin and misguided wishes.
But the beauty of the story is that He knew our condition.

Word became flesh and dwelt among men.
He lived to die and he lived to live.
He lived in righteousness, he died for sin.
To the right hand of the Father, it was for him to ascend.
So that we might join him, a beautiful bride he’s been given.
Who has the words for a God with such wisdom?

Dear Pastor: What is Ministry to You?

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Dear Pastor,

What is ministry to you? Is it a a job, a hobby, or a calling?

Is ministry something that you do for a paycheck? Is it something that helps you provide for your family and pay your bills? Is that all it is? Do you enjoy the perks of the job, the access to books, and freebies that might come along with being a minister? Do you find yourself wanting to climb the ladder of success? Are you unhappy with your congregation of 12, 30, 75, 1,000 people? Would you like to find another church where more people could hear you preach, where more people would give more money? Maybe you would like to earn the respect that a large church would give you? Maybe you could write a book, maybe even a best-seller. Is ministry a job? Is that all it is?

Is ministry a hobby for you? Is it something you really enjoy doing? That’s okay. You should enjoy serving the Lord and His people. The great thing about a hobby is that you really enjoy it, and you spend a lot of time doing it, probably even more than you spend at your job, and with your family. But the big problem with a hobby is that you only do it when it is convenient, and until it stops being fun. When ministry stops being fun, do you or will you stop doing it? Do you let silly unimportant things get in the way? Would you rather watch your favorite t.v. show than read God’s word, or pray for His blessings on yourself and others, or making that phone call of encouragement, or even making a visit to someone in need? Is ministry a cool thing to do? What happens when it isn’t cool? What happens when it isn’t fun?

Is ministry your calling? Has God called you to minister to His people, to love them, and show them His love for them? Do you understand you are accountable to God for everything you do, especially those things you do in His name? Are you burdened by the fact that precious souls weigh in the balance as you go about serving the Lord in your ministry. Do you understand it is really God’s ministry? Do you feel totally unworthy, yet amazed that God has called you to such an amazing privilege to serve Him as a Minister of His Gospel. Do you spend hours studying His word so that you can rightly divide it, and show yourself approved? Do you spend time on your knees praying for those precious souls that God might use you to reach? Would you still minister to God’s people if there would never be a paycheck? Would you still minister to God’s people if it was no fun? Is ministry your calling? Why don’t we start acting like it?

*This is a slightly edited version of a blog I posted a few years ago. I’ve recently been reflecting on these questions myself as I examine my own calling. The tone can come off a bit harsh, that is intentional. I believe for anyone in the ministry, or anyone even considering the ministry in any capacity, would be wise to do a bit of self reflection and ask themselves these questions. Ministry is not something that is to be taken lightly, as all of us who choose to enter into this sacred calling on any level have much to give an account for.

Kindle Deals 5/30

Great book at a great price. I’m planning to grab it, you should too.

Just $1.99

I’ve heard this book by R.C. Sproul is going to go down to $2.99. Last I checked the price hadn’t dropped yet, but keep checking back. It’s worth the $9.99 asking price, but at $2.99 it’s a must have.

**In the interest of full transparency, this blog is signed up as an Amazon.Com affiliate. This simply means that if you click one of my links and purchase a book through Amazon, I receive a few pennies. It’s sort of like giving me a tip for scouring the internet to find you these great deals!