Until His love we tasted …

Our time in sin we wasted,
And fed upon the wind;
Until His love we tasted,
No comfort could we find:

But now we stand to witness
His pow’r and grace to you;
May you perceive its fitness,
And call upon him too!

Our pleasure and our duty,
Though opposite before;
Since we have seen his beauty,
Are joined to part no more:

It is our highest pleasure,
No less than duty’s call;
To love him beyond measure,
And serve him with our all.

—hymn by John Newton, “We Were Once As You Are”

On Sunday July 3rd we (Renew Church) considered the themes of Duty and Dependence, whereby the beauty of God overwhelms our hearts and what used to be a mere duty receives a whole new energy to be joyfully performed, even with pleasure!

The following Sunday we sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (original lyrics by Sir Robert Robinson) with added closing verses borrowed from one John Newton’s hymns, “We Were Once As You Are,” with the chosen verses from above emphasized (added at 3:21 in song). Listen …

 

We cannot love the world until we stop loving the world.

“You cannot love the world until you stop loving the world.”
Kari Patterson, teaching OSU Real Life college students last weekend at Lake Shasta

An idol is anything you add to Jesus as a requirement for being happy. 

There are four common idols: Comfort, Approval, Control, and Success.

Life coming into focus as students enter the waters to be baptized in response to Jesus reconciling them to God

Life coming into focus as students enter the waters to be baptized in response to Jesus reconciling them to God

In teaching about Love, Kari and I explained each of these four as representing the false gods of our age — which then represent numerous others, for our hearts are idol factories. Our flesh is tempted by the world system most clearly in these four common ways.

Each pretend god promises good things but in the end lets us down. It’s easy to see why: we not meant to find comfort, approval, control or success apart from the loving protection and provision of our Creator. He is our Father, and He is good. We need not run to other seemingly “good” things to find satisfaction.

Real life comes into focus as we give up control to receive approval from God the Father, because of the successes of His Son Jesus, who gave up all His comforts for us and for our salvation.

What Do You Love?

Many students asked about this helpful tool, delving into the root desires, fears, and problem emotions, of each idol. Here’s a page from The Gospel Primer on the four common idols (click to enlarge image):

Four idols

As you can see, this discussion on heart idols moves far beyond sin-is-bad-behavior, for even very “good” things can become destructive in our hearts when they take the place of God. Worldliness is anything that steals your full enjoyment of Father’s Love. That’s why we must say we cannot love the world (people, creation) until we stop loving the world (system). Pride, greed and foolishness have not more place in our lives. Let us not tip-toe around worldly thinking and living; let us dive deep into God’s Love.

Love: What the World Needs Now

We taught the weekend’s main sessions tag-team, side-by-side, focusing on asking and answering three key questions:

  1. Who loved you? (on the Father’s Love, our identity in Christ, and receiving His love)
  2. What do you love? (on idolatry and removing obstacles to reciprocating Father’s love)
  3. Who will you love? (on whole-life intercession by relaying God’s love to others)

The first two deal with our relationship with God, yet if we stop there we will only get to thinking about life through this lens: “How will this affect me?” That’s not deep enough. Jesus told the story of the (Good) Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) to lead us far beyond asking how situations affect ourselves. He desires us to capture His heart and ask: “How will this affect her? How will this affect him? How will this affect them?”

Throughout the weekend we heard leaders comment how nothing was exactly what they expected, and a refrain “this is deep.” The unpredictable weather provided a metaphor and helped us get to the end of ourselves: we cannot control outcomes. Salvation visited those shores, and many crossed the line into the Kingdom. Because Jesus loves us He does more than give us a motivation talk about our missed potential. His words are better than vague, pithy, positive sayings. He heals us by first wounding us. Only through embracing and embodying God’s Love in Jesus can we love as loved ones. That’s the kind of love the world needs now.

Students & leaders at #rlshasta 2014

college students & leaders at #rlshasta 2014

 

Making prayer happen.

I am rediscovering a desire to pray for people, leading them in God’s strength not mine. I’ve hit the wall too many times trying to ’make things happen’ on my own. The quoted section below confronted me a few months back and before sharing I wanted to see if I was growing and changing. Well, a prayer life develops in the way Spring comes: slowly and suddenly.

Prayer is essentially acknowledged helplessness. We ask God for his glory, for his help, for his will, and for his favor because we know we are powerless to “make things happen” ourselves. (Consequently, when we are not praying much, it is typically because we think, even in our difficulty, that we can handle it.) To “clothe yourselves in humility” (1 Pet. 5:5) is to put on the righteousness of Christ (Eph. 6:4), because he humbled himself from heaven to earth, gave up the exploitation of his deity, and prayed his guts out.

If the sinless God-man often withdrew to lonely places to pray, what is our excuse? Prayer is the ultimate humility, because it presents the empty cup to God for his fullness in Christ. “Your will, not mine,” prayer says. “Your glory, not mine,” prayer says. “Your power, not mine,” prayer says.

Certainly there is a way pastors 1 turn prayer into performance, but it’s difficult to do this when we are all alone, so that is where we should do most of our praying. Not all of it, but most of it.

You may think your prayers are nothing to write home about. That’s fine. You are not writing home, but heaven. God is merciful. He accepts your lame prayers. What he wants is nor your eloquence but your heart.

When we cease praying for ourselves, it is because we think we are the captain of our destinies. When we cease praying for our church, it is because we think we can manage it quite well. When we cease praying in our sermon preparation, it is because we think our words are the power of salvation to all who believe. Let it be far away from us that we would sin against the Lord by failing to pray for [His] people (1 Sam. 12:23). 2

  1. And anyone else with a spiritual leadership role, whether in the home as father and mother, husband and wife, or a teacher of kids at church. Essentially, anyone who has others “watching” as they pray in public.
  2. Quoted from Jared Wilson, The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry. Part 1, The Pastor’s Heart, chapter three, “The Humble Pastor,” pp. 68-69. Emphasis mine.
 

Some kind of Revival?

Frequently, I get asked “what kind of church is Renew?” It’s usually in the form of asking what makes Renew unique among “all those churches out there.” There’s hardly a way to respond that does not also compare and contrast, so I try to wrap up the conversation at some point to focus on what we are for, rather than harp on what we’re against. Emphasize the purpose and vision we’re passionately seeking after … who we’re eager to become.

We’ve listed our four points before. Besides, it takes all kinds of churches, because God is all kinds of creative. Plus, it’s not my responsibility to lead “those” churches. We seek unity by focusing on the main things.

One main thing is renewal (thus the name RENEW), and revival.

This time let me focus on Revival, and the common ideas about what revival is, and how revival comes to a church and to a city.

On Sunday we focused on different views of revival and how we’ll know if we’re experiencing it when it comes. Over at the Renew blog you’ll find the audio and some notes on “Come, Set Your Rule: Build Your Kingdom Here.” All month we’ll be talking about revival.

When it comes to revival I’m not a fundamentalist, a liberal, or a charismatic. (Here me out on this.) We’re talking vision here. And in categories in which church and unchurched people can relate.

Revival

While going into more detail on Sunday, and in the coming weeks, when I say I’m not fundamentalist, liberal, or charismatic as far as the church, I mean that: Continue reading

 

I know my weakness, know my voice, but I believe in Grace & choice …

Mumford & Sons’ newly-filmed music video of “BABEL,” filmed in San Francisco:

Excellent filmography, better melodies, and even better-est words…

So you may sing along, here are the lyrics to Babel1, the title track on their newest album:

‘Cause I know that time has numbered my days
And I’ll go along with everything you say
But I’ll ride home laughing, look at me now
The walls of my town, they come crumbling down

And my ears hear the call of my unborn sons
And I know their choices color all I’ve done
But I’ll explain it all to the watchman’s son,
I ain’t ever lived a year better spent in love

‘Cause I’ll know my weakness, know my voice
And I believe in grace and choice
And I know perhaps my heart is fast,
But I’ll be born without a mask

Like the city that nurtured my greed and my pride,
I stretch my arms into the sky
I cry Babel! Babel! Look at me now
Then the walls of my town, they come crumbling down

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  1. “Babel” is the one missing song I wish they’d played live at their recent concert at the Rose Garden in Portland, which was quite simply the best concert I’ve ever attended. (And yes, I’m aware there’s a controversy on whether this band is “Christian.” Thus I tend to reserve their two songs featuring an F-bomb in the chorus to those times I need a little angst to get me up a steep hill while running.)
 

Sing along: One Glorious Day.

Today is D-Day, when sixty-nine years ago, on June 6th, 1944 at Normandy the tide turned and momentum swung in World War II. A significant day in recent world history. That day is known as “the beginning of the end” of the war. There’s another beginning of the end of the war, this war is between men and God. Jesus came to make the beginning of the end, and so it’s fitting to consider today the coming One Glorious Day when all wrongs will be righted, and everything will be set to the way God intended the world to be. Because King Jesus will wrap up the scrolls of history and mete out all justice in the way only His Grace is able to handle. Oh glorious Day!

Most days this week we’re highlighting songs in this space, particularly hymns we sang together at RENEW on Sunday. Having begun with Be Thou My Vision and In Tenderness, we continue with One Day, written in 1910 by John Wilbur Chapman, and recently reprised with a new verse melody for the new album “God of Victory” by Michael Bleecker of The Village Church in Texas. You may have sung it as we did, known as Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me), made more known by the band Casting Crowns. (Listen and watch John Mark Hall of Casting Crowns tell the story behind the song.)

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Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)
Chords in the key of D

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He’s ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Oh, glorious day

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