The gospel is…the word about Jesus Christ and what he did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God. – Graeme Goldsworthy

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Last Battleground

During a great and encouraging conversation recently with my wife, Rachel, she said something about marriage that jumped out at me. In the flow of our dialogue, she said – almost anecdotally – three words that my ears heard with bold italics: the last battleground. When I asked her what she meant by that, she said, “It’s easier to humble yourself before God and others outside your home than it is before your spouse. That’s why marriage is the last battleground of humility.” So true.

Whether you get along naturally in your marriage, or it's a lot of work – or you’re somewhere in between those two extremes – you’ve come to see that marriage is the most vulnerable of all human relationships. As a godly older man recently told me, in his younger days he used to think that being “one flesh” referred exclusively to the sexual relationship in marriage. Over time he’s come to see it means more than just that. We both agreed by laughing together about this insight. No further theoretical pontification about the topic was necessary.

To be married is to be vulnerable. To be in a marriage – a healthy one – is to continually make yourself vulnerable. We stand “naked” before our spouse emotionally, mentally, habitually, attitudinally, vocationally, socially, and spiritually. And if humility – the humility of Christ – is not the chief ingredient of the recipe of your life as man and wife, the aroma of your home won’t smell pleasant. If consistent and true confession and repentance are not the practical harmony of your marriage, the daily melody will always feel “off.” If the gospel of grace you shout “Amen!” to at church and read about and receive in your “quiet time” is not being extended to your spouse, walls will inevitably form and sinful hiddenness (= pride and guilt) will become the default and defining nature of your matrimony. This is why we need the Holy Spirit daily challenging us in and through His Word. And this is why we need – and must have – people in our local church who are agents of the Spirit, challenging us to live what we know in that Word. Lives and marriages survive – even thrive! – only when they are regularly connecting with other believers in our community of faith who are pursuing Jesus daily. Such are the practical implications of marriages and lives that are passionately gripped by the gospel.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Jesus Proving Himself More Satisfying Than Porn

My heart breaks and is troubled by the rampant sin of pornography that is wreaking havoc on lives, marriages, children, local churches, and communities around the world. There’s something incredibly insidious about this sin. It’s not to be trifled with and curiously investigated by anyone, for it sinks its tentacles so deep in the soul that freeing oneself is impossible.

The only way to be free from pornography is to be captivated, enraptured, stimulated, and fascinated with something – rather, Someone – greater. His name is Jesus. Watch this testimony of songwriter Jimmy Needham and be encouraged if you, a friend, or loved one is entangled in this sin. Pass it along.

May the stain and shame of this sin be cleansed and eclipsed by the simple – yet true and profound – reality of the gospel. Jesus is better.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Be Unashamed This Week - Invite Someone to Church

My wife and I had the privilege of attending Together for the Gospel last week in Louisville, KY. It’s always a mountaintop experience for me to be able to re-connect with old Bible college and seminary friends, hear phenomenal preaching, and sing with thousands of other ministers and leaders from local churches all over the nation and globe. One of the encouraging things about the conference this year was the gospel testimonies played before some of the sessions.

I’d like to share them with you, so that you will be inspired to invite someone to church this Sunday – Easter Sunday – to (hopefully) hear the gospel preached in your local church. Before you invite individuals and/or families, pray that God would cause them to accept your invitation. (Then pray for your pastor's sermon preparation this week and the Spirit's power to attend his preaching this Sunday!) You never know how God could use you as a vessel of grace to eternally change the life of someone by such an invitation. Be unashamed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lord of the Dance

Jesus Christ’s Lordship extends to all things. As the theologian Abraham Kuyper is famously quoted as saying, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” That Lordship includes dance. (Put the Bill Gothard manual down – for good – and take a deep breath, my legalistic-recovering brethren.) Contrary to what the fundamentalism of 20th century Christianity told us, dancing doesn’t always lead to sex. (Or, as the joke goes, "What do Baptists think sex leads to?" A. Dancing!) It can also be a form or expression of worship to God.

Dancing is an art form. And it’s a very powerful tool – for good or for ill. Yes, I would agree it’s (more-often-than-not) been used for many, many decades in Western culture to glorify the dancer and provocatively use the human body to stir the sexual passions. Actually, this  goes back a couple millennia. Remember Herod’s stepdaughter (Matt. 14.6-12)? That dance led to the gruesome beheading of the greatest Old Testament prophet. But these carnal shadows of dance are distortions of the true form that God created and Scripture celebrates. We all know about King David’s zealous dance before the ark of the Lord (2 Samuel 6.16-23). David’s son, Solomon, later followed his father’s lead – or footwork – when he said there is a “time to dance” (Eccles. 3.4). The book on Christian musical worship in Scripture commands us to “Praise [the LORD] with…dance” (Ps. 150.4).

Jesus Christ is Lord of all. So, that means – as Steve Curtis Chapman lyricized one-and-a-half decades ago – He’s also Lord of the Dance. Therefore, King Jesus’ rule must be shown by Christians to extend to this art form, too. And I praise God it is.

Recently I discovered a dynamic and Christ-loving couple who is seeking to reveal our Lord’s reign and creativity in the realm of choreography and dance. I read an interview they gave for Reach Records, the recording label for some of my favorite Christian hip-hop artists – like Lecrae and Trip Lee. (The congregants of new3c will remember their pastor throwin’ down some of the latter’s lyrics to illustrate a sermon point this past Sunday). I was really encouraged by the interview. When I watched them dance, I became a big fan.

So, ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, I present to you the dynamic, talented, and God-loving dancers, Keone and Mari Madrid. Enjoy.

HT: Katie @ Reach Records

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gripped by the Gospel Radio

For several months now we’ve endeavored to “spread the word” about New Covenant Community Church (new3c) via radio. We’ve called the segments “Gripped by the Gospel,” and they’ve consisted of a one minute spot in which I communicate a brief gospel-centered message, followed by introducing myself and directing interested listeners to our website ( for more information about the church. I personally met our first “radio” visitor to new3c this past Sunday – which was extremely encouraging!

We thought it would be a good idea to attach to this blog the radio spot that’s playing on KRKS 94.7 FM this week and encourage you to post it (and future blogs that contain radio spots) to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, so that word about our fantastic church (made of fantastic individuals like you!) spreads. It's one way that we can fulfill the mission of new3c – namely, “to proclaim God’s glory in the gospel of Jesus Christ through a Spirit-empowered community.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hairdos and Clothing Change, But Heresies and Challenges to the Church Don't

I watched the following clip last Saturday night. It fired me up to preach the next day. It encouraged me to boldly expound the plain meaning of the Word of God. It fortified my resolve as a pastor not to worry about the size of my congregation but to continue being faithful as a shepherd.

But what struck me more than anything as I watched it was this: while hairdos and clothing styles change from decade to decade in evangelicalism, the challenges and threats to the gospel and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ never change. They’re just recycled, re-dressed, and renewed with every generation. This video was filmed in the mid-1980s. According to the YouTube post, it was the last time Dr. Walter Martin was on TBN – a television station that (in the great majority of its forty year history) promotes false teaching and the prosperity gospel. As you watch, you’ll understand why a godly man and orthodox theologian like him was never asked back. Some things never change – namely, the truth of God’s Word always threatens and exposes false converts, nominal Christians, and heretical ministries, even when it’s spoken with passionate love for Christ and His bride (as I believe Dr. Martin exemplifies).

You'll initially have to endure two minutes of cheesy-Christian-TV-introductory-small-talk, but there's much to enjoy here, from the 1980s glasses to Dr. Martin's insights.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Michael Sam Story: Brothers and Sisters, We Must Be Consistent

Michael Sam, the All-American defensive end from the University of Missouri, recently declared he is an “openly, proud gay man.” Michael Sam will enter the NFL draft in April. This is a big story. The acceptance of homosexuality has gained unprecedented social momentum in just a short period. Joining this to the cultural force of the NFL – America’s most popular sport – will only amplify its acceptance.

The argument you’ll hear repeatedly moving forward about Michael Sam – or any gay athlete – will inevitably be, “If he helps us win, why does his sexuality matter?” This “whatever it takes to win” mindset is the fundamental doctrine of the worldview of sports. And the Michael Sam story shines a new light on this sacred canon (i.e., “winning is all that matters”) of the central sacrament of American’s new civic religion – NFL football.

But is this how a Christian is called to think? Simply put: no. Winning – while ignoring (any sort of) immorality to do so – is never the goal of the Kingdom of Christ. But this is precisely where our hypocrisy as American evangelical sports fans is plainly exposed through this story. Yes, we should take a courageous and compassionate stand against homosexuality being accepted in society or on the gridiron. And, yes, we must not cheer a man (on the field or off) who proudly states his sinful sexual orientation – because that orientation is clearly condemned in Scripture (Rom. 1.27; I Cor. 6.9). Yet – and search your hearts on this, brethren – how many times during an NFL season do we cheer men who are proudly enslaved to other sins the Bible also strongly and clearly condemns – like drunkenness (Gal. 5.21; Eph. 5.18), sexual immorality (Rom. 13.13; I Pet. 4.3), and murderous anger (both on and off the field; Matt. 5.21-23; Col. 3.8; James 1.19-20)? I would suggest that the reason we turn a blind eye to these “other” sins (when the reality is our favorite team[s] is [are] full of such men) is that we – not unlike the culture – have swallowed the chief tenet of “winning is all that matters” in our own souls as well.

Brother and sisters, we must be consistent. Before we cry out against the homosexual boast of a would-be NFL draft pick, let us consider the log in our eye that cheers for players who are boasting of/committing sins that aren’t made public (because those sins are either [a] not head-line worthy – but "just the way it is in the life of a famous athlete" – or [b] not made known to protect the athlete committing those sins as well as the organization he represents). Even worse, sometimes we cheer men whose sins are made public (I'll refrain from listing examples for brevity's sake). Would we wear his jersey if we knew he was a serial adulterer? a man who regularly gets drunk? a man who who sometimes verbally or physically abuses his wife/girfriend? who is addicted to illegal drugs? Would we, as Christians, cheer him during the fall any different knowing such things? This requires pensive thinking in our hearts and regular conversations in our local churches – and maybe even repenting for many of us whose enjoyment of pigskin competition has blinded us to such hypocrisy (I being one).   

While the Michael Sam story presents some challenges to the church of the Lord Jesus in Western culture, this much is clear: whatever the unrepentant sin and wherever the context in which it manifests, two clear consequences of believing the gospel are (1) obeying God’s Word and (2) loving our neighbor – neither of which means accepting a man’s sin, whether he is the man in the mirror, a ferocious pass-rusher, or faithful member of our local church. Love – true, biblical love – compels us to preach the One who died and rose again, in order that we and others might (continually) trust in Jesus, be forgiven by God, and turn away from any and every sin – not boast about it. For those gripped by the gospel, our only boast is in our Savior’s cross, not in our sexuality, for it is our crooked sexuality (homosexual and heterosexual) – among a multitude of others sins – that sent our Savior to the cross to purchase our salvation.