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Archive for March, 2010

Psalm 39:4-6 – “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.  Indeed, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.  Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain.”

This Psalm was a small part of my devotion this morning, and the Psalmist’s prayer was mine this morning.  I love C.T. Studd’s poem, in which the last line reads: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

This is what led me to meditate on the transitory culture we live in, and how to really think about everything done in life, and praying that I, and Christians all over the world, would seek to do only things that will last for Christ’s glory.

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As a culture, we are often on the move.  Things are always changing, we want everything to be “instant and fast,” and we are a culture constantly looking for “what’s next.”  Whether it is moving up the corporate ladder, jumping from job to job to make more money or to do something you may enjoy a little more, moving regularly to experience the world, or something else, we live in a pretty transitory culture.  And for the most part, I think most people simply assume and accept this culture as normal without examining it from the lens of seeking to do all things for the glory of God.

But as I think about the transitory culture we live in, I can think of several ways a transitory culture hinders the spread of the Gospel, slows our sanctification, and negatively affects God’s church; thus often having negative impacts on the glory and Kingdom of God.  Here are just some of them:

  • Gospel Friendships – we all know that friendships and the trust, transparency, honesty, and ability to speak truth in these friendships take time to develop.  A transitory culture often builds a larger number of acquaintances and facebook cyber friends, but how about real friends?  How about deep, Gospel-rooted friends who know us inside out, who are near us, and who will be there for us when we need help?  Effects?
  • Personal Evangelism – My family and I have lived in our neighborhood close to 3 years now, and it has only been recently that people in our community are trusting us, knowing that we care about them, and beginning to open up their lives to us.  Could it be that God’s enemy, Satan, is trying to constantly move us around so that true relationships and friendships cannot  be developed where the Gospel can be regularly shared and witnessed through life together?
  • Sanctification – Given that sanctification is a life-long process, and given that learning and helping others regularly apply the Gospel to idols in their life takes time, being in somebody’s life only a few years just gets you started in helping with sanctification.  And when you move again, you begin from ground zero.
  • Church – since God’s design is for evangelism and sanctification to be done in and through the context of the local church, as a transitory culture hinders personal evangelism and personal sanctification, it obviously has a negative effect on God’s design of the church.  Every company in our culture seeks to retain their employees because the costs of looking for new employees, training them, and getting them involved are high. The costs for the church are not necessarily financial, but spiritual. If God’s enemy can shift more and more time and resources a church spends to dealing with transition, looking for new servants, training them, and getting them involved, and re-doing this process every few years due to transition, then God’s enemy knows that less and less time is spent continuing to build God’s kingdom.

Am I saying that everything in a transitory culture is wrong?  Absolutely not. What I am saying is that we seem to have assumed and just accepted this culture without thinking about the implications and impacts on God’s kingdom. We think about the pros and cons of a new job.  We think about the pros and cons of moving to a new area. We think about the pros and cons of going back to school. We think a lot, but often about the wrong things with wrong priorities. How often do we consider the pros and cons in relation to the Glory and Kingdom of God? My prayer is that if we do transition in anything, that we can, in good conscience, before the throne of God, say, “God, this transition is for your Kingdom, your Glory, and for the spiritual good of your people.”

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I am so thankful that God is at work in my life, seeking to sanctify me and make me more like His Son Jesus Christ as His New Creation.  But why does God so often choose to His work in the most humbling of situations?

Last Friday, I was trying to begin this blog for “ministry,” praying that writing out reflections would benefit my own soul and those who God brings to read this blog.  As I was putting the finishing touches on my first blog post, my wife walks in with our daughter asking for a little bit of help.

In my sinfulness and selfishness, I responded in frustration, shocked and irritated that my wife didn’t know that I was in the middle of doing something for “ministry.”  Ugh! How humbling when God reveals my sin in the midst of writing publicly about killing sin and pursuing holiness. And to top it off, I had previously told my wife that I would “not be working” at that time to spend time with the family.

I thank God for reminding me that He has given me my wife as His gift to be 2nd priority under Him.  So in being convicted of sin, I went to review this article I printed out from 9Marks about “30 practical ways for pastors to love their wives and families.”

Here are some from the list that I failed in last Friday, and in general, that you can pray for me to grow in as I long to love my wife more than “ministry.”

  • Decide together with your wife what days and times I will be gone and working, and HONOR and STICK to what has been agreed upon
  • Diligently guard days and times OFF
  • Come home at the exact time you say you will be home, and prepare your heart to SERVE your family, not be served
  • Get up early to have my quiet time, so I can take care of our daughter Chloe in the morning while my wife has her quiet time
  • Schedule a regular time to take Chloe so my wife can have time to do whatever she wants – not errands
  • And as the weather is getting nicer, go for long walks with her

Last Friday, I was trying to begin this blog for “ministry,” praying that writing out reflections would benefit my own soul and those who God brings to read this blog.  As I was putting the finishing touches on my first blog post, my wife walks in with our daughter asking for a little bit of help.

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Greetings!

2 Corinthians 5:17 – If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has gone; the new has come.

Revelation 21:1-5 – Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And he who was seated on the throne said, “BEHOLD, I AM MAKING ALL THINGS NEWS.”

Greetings everyone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  My name is Kevin, and I am the pastor of the church Urban Grace.

However, first and foremost, I am a sinner whom the Lord Jesus Christ has made a New Creation in Him.  I was a wretched and depraved sinner from conception, and even though I grew up going to church, it was not until winter break of my freshman year in college at UC Berkeley that God, in His undeserved grace and mercy, chose to set His redeeming love upon me.  During that winter break, God opened my eyes to see the depth and heinousness of my sin and sinfulness.  But God also opened my eyes to see the height and breadth of His love for me in sending His Son Jesus Christ to live the perfect life I didn’t, to die on the cross the death I deserved as a sinner, to resurrect from the dead in victory over sin, Satan, and death, and to cover my sinful life with His righteous life.  In His grace, God gave me the gift of faith to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, and in Jesus Christ, I was made a new creation.

The church I pastor, Urban Grace, is not a group of “good” people.  They are not a group of self-righteous people.  They are a group of sinners, like me, who Jesus Christ has made into new creations, like me.  Together, we are a group of sinners who are new creations in Jesus who are committed to love and serve one another and the world around us.

In Revelation, we have God’s glorious picture and promise that He is making all things new.  But, until that day comes when everything is made perfectly new, we live in a time period called the “now, but not yet.”  So right “now,” in Jesus Christ, I am a new creation, but I still live in my sinful body in a sinful world.  I am “not yet” fully and perfectly a new creation living in my new, imperishable, resurrected body in the new heaven and new earth.  As a church, in Jesus Christ, we are right “now” a group of new creations, but we all still live in our sinful bodies in a sinful world.  We are “not yet” fully and perfectly new creations living in our new, imperishable, resurrected bodies in the new heaven and new earth.

Therefore, my prayer and desire in this blog is to reflect on this time period of the “now, but not yet,” seeking to grow in sanctification as new creatures through the Word of God.  They will be reflections of a new creation both personally in my own life, and corporately, as I pastor a body of new creations.   They will be reflections of confidence as Philippians 1:6 ensures us that “God who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  But they will also be reflections of challenge as Philippians 2:12-13 calls us to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

I have listed two websites on the right that I pray will be helpful.  CCEF is a ministry called Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, and they are one of the best ministries helping people grow in sanctification, from the inside-out, in the context of community in the local church.  And since the local church is the context for sanctification and the focal point of God’s plan for displaying His glory to the nations, I have listed 9Marks, one of the best ministries helping churches reflect the character of God.

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