Life according to…

Do you compare, compete or both? Do you look upwards or downwards? Do you look upwards from yourself toward people better than yourself, wishing that you had more, could achieve more, were more? Or maybe you look downwards toward those less fortunate than yourself thinking that your better than others. Your thought might be ‘at least I’m not like them’.

At the end of the day we all do it. We all compare and compete. Without over emphasising gender roles, men typically compete, and women typically compare. Men might compete in who is stronger, faster, wealthier. And women might compare physical looks, clothes, families. Of course, gender roles are never absolute… men will compare and likewise women  will compete.

And while gauging where we’re at in life isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, when we base our identity on these competitions and comparisons that we can become unstuck. We can fall into the trap of trying to progress through life by comparing and competing. You need a promotion at work in order to maintain your social status. Or upgrading your boyfriend for a more advanced model will help you improve your own popularity. What about getting a bigger house, or another investment property in order that your social status will increase with your friends. It’s almost like a role playing game where you have to grind and farm enough points to get to the next level. And if you don’t have the best level and stats then you might as well not even play. #shoutout to all the WoW and GW2 gamers. At the end of the day if your doing better than those around you, than life is good. However, if you’re falling behind and everyone else is kicking the goals, then life is bad. We can become slaves to this way of thinking. In fact, chances are you already are, or at least have been in the past.

The real danger for those of us who are Christians, is to start measuring our faith against those around us. When we start to compare our blessings with those around us it becomes a pretty shaky roller coaster ride that isn’t going to end well. ‘God answers his prayers, he must be a better Christian that I am.’ Or. ‘His children are always perfectly behaved, he must be a more godly parent’. Or ‘His church has more newcomers than mine does’. etc.

The Apostle Paul talks about two ways the people generally identify with the world. He uses two weird words. Flesh & Spirit. People are either living according to the flesh, or according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

The first, flesh, is all about people who chase things of this world. They go to all lengths to keep up with the Jones’s. Wear the best clothes, drive the best cars, have the best houses with the best swimming pools. They go to church to keep up appearances, they work hard to have more and more money, and they do all of these things to earn a better status. They indulge in food and drink. They chase whatever makes them feel good, incessantly pursuing self-glorification. At the end of the day, these people, choose to please themselves despite the cost.

The second way to live is according to the Spirit. These people chose to forgo fleshy indulgences and live a life that is selfless and aims to be altruistic (impossible be that it may). To live according to the Spirit means that the Spirit of God dwells within the person and directs them in a right way of living. These people are giving and caring and set their minds on the things that God considers important.

When all is stripped away, those who live according to the flesh are comparing and competing for the next ladder rung on the climb to glory. But those who live according to the Spirit find themselves ‘in Christ’ (Romans 8:1). And when one is in Christ they partake in His glory. Comparing and competing for glory becomes a nonsensical activity because when compared to the glory that comes with being in God the Son, all our own achievements pale in comparison.

Romans 8 is an outstanding scripture to reflect on in the light of comparing and competing as the world does opposed to living in step with the Spirit. Stop, and think about what the Apostle Paul might mean by the phrase ‘The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.’ (Romans 8:7)

You’ve probably heard the popular song, In Christ Alone, but maybe take a moment to listen to is again, and think about what it means to be In Christ Alone. What will it look like in your life to forsake the temptation to compare and compete in the flesh, so that you can truly be In Christ Alone.

Sex & Money | Paul Tripp

Reflecting on his book Sex & Money Paul Tripp shares this quick overview.

If accountability and budget were all we needed in [the areas of abusing sex and money] there’d be a whole lot more pure people, and a whole lot less people in debt.

If Jesus has made it clear that abusing sex and money are problems of the heart, why are we still trying to address them as behavioural problems? People need more than accountability groups and budgeting tools. They need grace.

Know the culture… Know the times

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 – Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

Paul seeks to understand the culture around him at any point in time so that he might use it as a means to share the gospel to everyone. Below is a short video about Australian demographics. Where do you fit in? Where do the people you want to tell about Jesus fit in?

Reach the City… Reach the World…

Tonight was a chance for everyone who serves at our church to get together and get the big idea of the upcoming terms series.

It was a collection of all different people from kids ministry workers, to youth leaders, music/worship teams, senior staff, bible study leaders, media teams and plenty more. About a hundred people came together and learned how we plan on sharing one big message over the next ten weeks to our entire church. I’m so encouraged that sharing about Jesus was at the centre of the night.

10cities-1140x380

The sermon series is ‘10 Cities God Loves‘. It’s shaping up to be a journey through Acts. Looking at how desperately in need of Jesus the cities of the first century are. It will show how desperately in need of Jesus that people are. How in need of Jesus I am. It will undoubtedly reveal the transforming power of the Gospel.

I am so excited to know that not only is this being taught on Sunday in church, but the kids, youth and young adults ministries are diving into the same message with similar material. Our mid-week bible studies, Sunday worship, seniors ministry are going to all experience a taste of this crucial message as well. Every member of our church, including some families with three generations, are going to hear the same message. That we are all in need of Jesus and by God’s grace He has chosen to use to share that message with our city… with our world.

Being a Good Wife 101: Paul’s Love-triangle of GRACE

Ephesians 5:21-28

It is Christ’s empowering GRACE that holds a MARRIAGE together… the result… is a MARRIAGE that REFLECTS the GLORY of GOD.

Someone suggested to me the other day that the Lord of the Rings had a love triangle… I didn’t pick it at first but there is definitely some love triangulating between Frodo, Golem and The Ring. Love-triangles end in disaster. Someone always gets hurt. Especially in The Lord of the Rings… Frodo loses a finger, the Ring is finally destroyed and Golem ends up medium to well-done.

But would you believe me if I told you that Paul tells us that there is a love triangle that should be in every marriage? Paul teaches that each marriage should have a healthy, biblical love triangle with GRACE as its foundation. It’s Jesus Christ’s GRACE that enables husbands and wives to love each other.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. (Eph 5:22)

Paul is teaching that in order that wives submit to their husbands they must first submit to Christ. That wives should submit their husbands as to CHRIST. So what does submitting to a husband as to Christ look like for a woman?

The problem is this … two of the three people tangled in this love triangle are self seeking, greedy sinners. And the third, well He is nothing less than PERFECT!

It’s pretty unfair that wives are asked to submit everything to someone who is going to continually let them down. Let me use myself to paint a picture: I am often late. I am easily angered. I am tempted and often fall into sin. I am forgetful. (That’s my wife’s pet hate: My forgetfulness)… [Pause] Rarely I fail to love my wife but Often I fail to love her just as Christ loved the church. The list of my shortcomings is endless. What’s incredible is my wife is asked to submit everything to me as she would to Christ… now that is massive. The husband is not Christ. I am not Christ. Christ is perfect. The husband is a sinner. So why does Paul ask wives to submit to sinful husbands?

The answer is Grace. Undeserved forgiveness. A wife has to show her husband GRACE when he fails. GRACE empowers the wife to submit to her husband even when he is unworthy of submission. Christians we are supposed to reflect the image of God. And in our marriage it’s no different. By showing GRACE to her husband a wife reflects the GRACIOUS glory of God.

What does this mean? What does it mean to show your husband GRACE? Well just because a husband is a dirty-rotten sinner, it doesn’t mean that his wife no longer has to submit to him. What Paul doesn’t say is ‘wives submit to your husbands while they are doing a great job at reflecting Christ’s glory’ but rather ‘just as you submit to Christ, also submit everything to your husband’.

You see it’s like this. Wives need to experience Christ’s grace toward themselves, and REFLECT that GRACE to their husbands. Did you get that? Wives need to submit to Christ, experience His grace towards themselves, and reflect that GRACE to their husbands while also submitting to them.

It is Christ’s empowering GRACE that holds a MARRIAGE together… the result… is a MARRIAGE that REFLECTS the GLORY of GOD.When a woman places herself at the foot of the cross, it makes her husband’s job ten times easier. When a woman first trusts the Lord, only then she can then fully trust her husband. If she doesn’t fully trust the Lord then she will be bitterly disappointed when her husband continually lets her down. But if she trusts and submits to the Lord, she is then empowered to reflect Christ’s mercy to her husband when he inevitably fails. Let me say that in another way. A wife’s job is to reflect Christ’s mercy and grace to her husband.

Being a Good Husband 101: Paul’s Love-triangle of GRACE

Ephesians 5:21-28

It is Christ’s empowering GRACE that holds a MARRIAGE together… the result… is a MARRIAGE that REFLECTS the GLORY of GOD.

Would it surprise you that unlike the popularised unhealthy love-triangles we see in the media, Paul teaches that each marriage should have a healthy, biblical love triangle with GRACE as its foundation.

In Ephesians 5:22 (and following) Paul is teaching how husbands and wives should relate to each other. Jesus Christ is supposed to be the head of every marriage. And it’s Jesus Christ’s GRACE that enables husbands and wives to love each other.

So what are men told to do? Well it almost sounds easy… Paul says LOVE YOUR WIVES. But how does our love as a 21st century men compare to the perfect example of love that’s found in Jesus? Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… (Eph 5:25)

Do you ever imagine your wife being attacked and you boldly standing up for her. Or a car veers off the road and you push her out of the way to be crushed yourself? I do. But how often do we get the chance to love our wives like that? If taking a bullet for our wife isn’t what Paul’s on about, then what does he mean by lay your life down for your wife?

One of the biggest misconceptions that men take into marriage is that it’s the man’s job to change his wife. And it’s simply not true. Blokes have an in-built desire to control everything.  Paul teaches that men must love their wives to the point of giving themselves up. AND THAT’S ALL. Love your wife as you love yourself Paul says. Paul doesn’t say, Love your wife while she is perfectly submitting everything to you… but he simply says Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”

So practically, how are we supposed to love our wives? Well it all comes back to Paul’s love triangle of GRACE. Men, you need to first learn to be loved by Christ. Experience His gracious love for you. Then and ONLY THEN can you show that love to your wives. As husbands we need to reflect on Christ’s love for us, and deflect that love toward our wives.

We need to take a vertical experience with God, and shoot that out as a horizontal experience with our wives. Men need to submit to Christ, and learn how to rely on his GRACE and MERCY. Then once you experience that gracious love of Christ, you can reflect it to your wives.

We can find the perfect model for love and submission in Jesus Christ. And that model is best displayed His relationship to the church. Christ is supposed to be the head of the marriage union. I urge you all, whether married, soon to be married, or hoping to one day be married. Keep the word of God at the center of your life, and continually submit yourselves to the Lord, and love the Lord because He is the head of the church, and your marriage. It is Christ’s empowering GRACE that holds a MARRIAGE together… and the result?… the result is a MARRIAGE that REFLECTS the GLORY of GOD.

A Life of Sacrifice – Paul Washer Video

So I don’t know a lot about Paul Washer, but I have heard his name thrown around a bit. Having done no more than 5 minutes of Googling to get an idea of what Washer believes, teaches and preaches. I found (as always) a mixed response from the reformed community. Some say he’s great claiming that he teaches “a person is saved through faith alone, but the evidence of a person’s repentance is by walking with Jesus”. Whereas others say that “he makes the deadly error of confusing the FRUIT of repentance with the ROOT of repentance”.

I’m second year at bible college so I’m not going to make any great assumptions largely based on other peoples opinions. But I did find this video quite compelling. Here Washer speaks very passionately about going out and DOING the GOSPEL! In my opinion the best quote from the video:

I’ve never heard an old man wish that he’d spent less time with his wife and children and I’ve never met an old preacher who regretted spending too much time in prayer… Paul Washer

ENJOY!

If you liked Washer’s message you view more like this at HeartCry Missionary