Choosing one thing over another doesn't necessarily mean we love the thing we choose. If given the choice to eat spinach or broccoli, you may choose broccoli. It may only mean you don't want to eat spinach. Heaven is not for people who just want to skip Hell. Heaven is reserved for those who love Jesus, who have been rescued by Him and who long to praise Him. If someone doesn't have much use for praising Him now, it's foolish to think they're ready for Heaven.
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Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it's a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can't do it.
The universe shudders in horror that we have this infinitely valuable, infinitely deep, infinitely rich, infinitely wise, infinitely loving God, and instead of pursuing him with steadfast passion and enthralled fury "" instead of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; instead of attributing to him glory and honor and praise and power and wisdom and strength "" we just try to take his toys and run. It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.
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Worship gatherings are not always spectacular, but they are always supernatural. And if a church looks for or works for the spectacular, she may miss the supernatural. If a person enters a gathering to be wowed with something impressive, with a style that fits him just right, with an order of service and song selection designed just the right way, that person may miss the supernatural presence of God. Worship is supernatural whenever people come hungry to respond, react, and receive from God for who He is and what He has done. A church worshipping as a Creature of the Word doesn't show up to perform or be entertained; she comes desperate and needy, thirsty for grace, receiving from the Lord and the body of Christ, and then gratefully receiving what she needs as she offers her praise-the only proper response to the God who saves us.
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The reality is that all God has to do is reveal himself to you, and you'll gladly join the mission in service to his kingdom. He doesn't force the issue; he just has to reveal himself as is: mighty, wondrous, gracious, loving, and radically saving. No man goes back to saltine crackers when he's had fillet mignon.
More often than not, we want him to have fairy wings and spread fairy dust and shine like a precious little star, dispensing nothing but good times on everyone, like some kind of hybrid of Tinker Bell and Aladdin's Genie. But the God of the Bible, this God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke.
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God ultimately raises up leaders for one primary reason: His glory. He shows His power in our weakness. He demonstrates His wisdom in our folly. We are all like a turtle on a fence post. If you walk by a fence post and see a turtle on top of it, then you know someone came by and put it there. In the same way, God gives leadership according to His good pleasure.
Ladies, if you're single there is nothing wrong, sinful or wicked about desiring a husband, nothing. Anyone who would say otherwise is absolutely lying to you. God wired you for it, He built you for it. Men, there is nothing wrong, wicked, or evil about wanting a wife. I don't know when that happened, I don't, now listen I do think that you need to be content where you are today, alright, but listen I'm content with what Christ is doing in me today but I don't want to be who I am today, I'm hoping Christ will complete what He began. It's okay, it's alright, who made it so complicated? it's okay, it's okay to want a wife, it's okay to want a husband, those are good things, they're really good things. It's okay, it's okay to want.
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This passage, by the way, doesn't just give us the comparative negative of hell, but it translates well into a theology of suffering. With these words of Jesus in mind, I can now know that it is better never to hold my children, it is better never to run my fingers through my wife's hair, it is better not to be able to brush my own teeth, it is better never to be able to drive a car, it is better to be paralyzed and never feel anything from the neck down, and it is better to have stage III anaplastic oligondendroglioma than to find myself outside the kingdom of God. It is better never to see the sunset or the sunrise, never see the stars in the sky, never to see my daughter in her little dress-up clothes, never to see my son throw a ball - it is better never to have seen those things than to have seen those things and yet end up outside the kingdom of God. How horrible hell must be.
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A Church worshipping as a Creature of the Word doesn't show up to perform or be entertained; she comes desperate and needy, thirsty for grace, receiving from The Lord and the body of Christ, and then gratefully receiving what she needs as she offers her praise- the only proper response to the God who saves us.
So what does it look like to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ? It looks like walking with, loving with, and doing life with those who are different from you. What binds you together is Christ. It looks like striving together to make Christ known. What motivates you is Christ. And it looks like standing with courage against all oppressors, natural or supernatural. What secures you is Christ.
The miracles of Jesus are signs of the right order of things. Jesus was not so much turning things upside down as turning them rightside up or, at least, giving his followers glimpses of the rightside up. The miracles of healing, deliverance, provision, and resurrection all reveal that God, through Jesus, is making all things new, that he is restoring what once was unbroken.
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No matter what our job is, we view it not as our purpose in life but rather as where God has sovereignly placed us for the purpose of making Christ known and his name great. If you are a teacher, if you are a politician, if you are a businessman, if you are in agriculture, if you are in construction, if you are in technology, if you are in the arts, then you should not be saying, 'I need to find my life's purpose in this work,' but rather, 'I need to bring God's purpose to this work.'
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Truth is never our enemy, ever. So we should never freak out about people who claim to have discovered truth. If it's true truth, God owns it and has already accounted for it, and while nothing that is true ever contradicts God's revealed word in the Bible, discovered truth sometimes contradicts the words of Christians. We shouldn't be afraid of this, because God knew it before anybody else and its discovery is dependent on his sovereignty anyway. The truth is that the truth is ours - all truth is our truth because we are of Christ and Christ is of the sovereign God.
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As you consider selecting songs for your worship services, consider them in light of the truth of the gospel. Imagine the songs as teachers--because they are! If your people could understand your doctrine only through the music you sing, what would they know about God and His pursuit of us? If your people could understand your church's beliefs only through the music, what would they know?
When I think about sanctification, a couple things immediately pop into my head. One is how slow it actually is. I think everybody wants the silver-bullet, the thing that makes sanctification move like a superhighway rather than the dirt path that it is. The other is that, by in large, the greatest single asset in ongoing sanctification is a serious pursuit of joy in the face of Jesus Christ.
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We've got to get past this idea that God is most glorified when we're rich, healthy and wealthy and we go, "Isn't God grand? Look at all He gave me." Because if anybody joins us in that and says, "Oh, if you love Jesus, you get a house and health and cars? Then I love Jesus too." Because then all of a sudden you've got a different religion. You have the religion of cars and houses, not God.
Prayer does two things. It shows the complete sufficiency of God and the complete helplessness of man. It shows that God is not lacking, that He is in need of no thing, that He is infinitely and gloriously wealthy, that He can give to, He can bless and He can answer without the need of help from anyone or anything else. And it also shows that we are in desperate need of that kind of sufficiency.
So relational evangelism? Go for it, as long as it turns into real evangelism. You hanging out having a beer with your buddy so he can see that Christians are cool is not what we're called to do. You're eventually going to have to open up your mouth and share the gospel. When the pure gospel is shared, people respond.
Some people are so moral they feel like they have no need for Jesus. True worshippers know they are in deep need of Jesus Christ and are transformed morally by "beholding Jesus" and seeing their lives transformed by the Spirit's power from the inside out rather than conformed to a pattern of religion from the outside in.
Church is missing transcendence. My generation was raised on a religion of moral control. Do this. Don't do that. And a lot of self-help religion. Feel better. Get out of debt. Six ways to overcome your fears. Seven ways not to lust. Ultimately that message didn't work. It was empty. There was no transcendence. The omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful God of the universe wasn't the focus.
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He created the flavors! He created the colors. He created it all, and he did it all out of the overflow of his perfections. It's not like he was thinking, 'Oh, I've got some fajita flavoring over here. I know: let's put it on the cow and the chicken.' He created the avocado to have a certain flavor; he created the skirt steak, the fillet, and the tenderloin to have certain flavors. That was God's doing. So every aspect of creation, from the largest galaxy to the tiniest burst of flavor in food or drink or seasoning, radiates the goodness of God.
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Lots of neat Christian boys, not a lot of Godly men. And we are working our tails off for you to try to develop some into that. But do not settle, because it's better that you be lonely now than you be married and lonely later. Are you tracking me? It is better that you be lonely now than for you to get married to a man that will teach your kids everything but the way of Jesus.