If You Only Make One Resolution…

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Resolved: To eat less salami and cheese this year…

Confession: I have a preserved meat tooth. I love salami and cheese, and I really should eat less of it, because it’s positively awful for me. After every snack I can hear my blood calling out in a loud voice, “Unclean! Unclean!”

And science has proven that men’s jeans are getting 27% tighter each year. Old Navy has reinvented the words “Loose Fit” to mean “I think my sister wore these in junior high school” fit. Some of you have embraced the spandex-denim revolution, but others, like myself, are hoping that Old Navy hires M.C. Hammer as a consultant.

Actually though, I’m not planning on eating less salami and cheese. I love it too much.

However, I do have serious goals for this year. I want to grow in sharing the gospel. I want to finish writing my book. I want to memorize more scripture. I want to finish house renovations. I want to waste less time. I want to love my wife more.

About this time of year, lots of people will write articles about setting spiritual goals for the upcoming year. And I’m all for that. We’re called to strive for holiness and kill our sin. But I want one resolution to be at the top of my list, written in bold letters, underlined, and highlighted:

Resolved: To rest in and savor and understand the gospel more in the coming year.

If I don’t get this resolution right, all my other resolutions will go to pot. If I’m not rooted in God’s love for me, as displayed in the gospel, my spiritual growth will be stunted. If I’m not convinced that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, I’ll be goaded by guilt. If I’m not first amazed at what Christ has done for me, I won’t be motivated to live for Him.

In the New Testament, the prescription for spiritual growth always starts with being bowled over by the gospel. Then comes works of service. If you don’t believe me, read the book of Ephesians.

So let’s resolve with all our might to rest in all that Christ has done. To begin our Bible reading and prayer by giving thanks for the gospel. To never be motivated by condemnation. To trash any hope we have in our works, and put all our hope in Jesus’ finished work.

Here’s to gospel resolutions. And now I’ll be eating some salami and cheese.

P.S. – The book A Gospel Primer for Christians is a wonderful resource to help you rest in the gospel.

Some Changes For the New Year

It’s almost the New Year, and to celebrate, I’ve made a few changes to the site.

First, I’ve given the site a new look. I hope you like it.

Second, you’ll see a “Sideblog” over on the sidebar. We’ll be posting things there that we want to share but don’t make a full blog post. If you subscribe to the blog you’ll see these updates in your feed.

Third, I’ve added a “Facebook Share” and a “Twitter Share” button to the bottom of each post. If you enjoy a post, we would appreciate it if you would spread the love by sharing the post on Facebook or Twitter.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

A Grace Every Bit As Amazing

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And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  (LK 1.30-31)

What amazing grace God lavished on Mary. This poor, young, illiterate peasant girl would carry in her body the son of God. She would feel him moving inside her. She would later nurse him. No other woman on earth has been given such grace.

Not only that but when Mary looked at Jesus’ face, she would see something of her own features. Jesus would bear a physical resemblance to his mother that he would bear to no other human being. What incredible grace! What amazing favor of God!

Yet every one of us who are born again has experienced a grace every bit as amazing if not more so. For Jesus lives inside every believer. Not for a mere nine months, but for this life and eternity. As he lives in us, Jesus leads, guides and fellowships with us. Not only does Jesus live in us, but he transforms us from the inside out, and we increasingly bear a resemblance to him. We become more and more like Christ in godliness, joy, and love with each passing day.

Mary must have been amazed to think that God himself was growing in her.  We should be amazed that this same God is living in us, expanding his kingdom in and through our lives, touching others, using us as his hands and feet and mouthpieces.

And he has many more that he has chosen to save and transform.  Let’s pray that his kingdom will come and multitudes be born again and experience Christ from the inside out.

photo by brynmeillion – JAN

These People Aren’t Drunk

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It was a bizarre scene – the kind that quickly draws a crowd.

First, there was the overwhelming sound of wind. But that’s the bizarre part: it was only a sound. There was no movement of the air, no curtains being ruffled. Weird.

Then there was 120 Galilean freak shows who were all speaking different languages. What is this? Some sort of multi-cultural appreciation day? Maybe they’re drunk. Maybe they’ve been celebrating Passover a little too hard.

But wait. Listen. They’re not drunk. They’re speaking the praises of God in different languages. A drunk can’t even praise God in his own language.

Okay, somebody needs to do some explaining, and fast. What’s going on here?

One of the Galileans stands up and starts talking. He talks about Jesus, who died and then beat death. He says:

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:32-33)

So that’s it. Jesus who was dead, is now alive. And He’s in the place of power, sitting at the right hand of God. He is the Lord over every nation and every person. And He is pouring out the Holy Spirit on people.

These people aren’t drunk, they’re filled with the Holy Spirit.

That’s why they are declaring the praise of God in every language. That’s why this guy Peter, who was once a terrified, Jesus-denying disciple, is now standing in front of thousands proclaiming the gospel.

And that’s why you and I can boldly share the gospel with our friends and neighbors. Jesus really is risen from the dead and He really is Lord. He is Lord of every nation, Lord of every city, and Lord of every block. Every square foot of your neighborhood belongs to Him. He is the mighty, risen King, and His kingdom is advancing.

Because Jesus is risen, He sends the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us boldness to speak about the risen Jesus. The Holy Spirit helps overcome the fear of man that closes our mouths, and the Holy Spirit causes the spiritually dead to come alive.

So let’s ask our risen King for the Holy Spirit, and then open our mouths to talk about Jesus. To our neighbors. To our friends. To our coworkers.

Jesus is alive and His kingdom is advancing through those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. I want to be a part of that.