There are so many moments in public speaking that you just have no idea what happened. One of those happened Sunday, when my voice began to leave me, during a section where I was straining my voice, and voila…sounded like I was going through puberty again. All I can do in those moments is: 1) laugh at myself…believe me, I’ve done far more weird things on stage and 2) get it together because the Word of God is too important for me to be stuck in a weird moment. When this happens at CLF, I am freshly reminded of the patience that you have shown me these past 16 years. We have literally “grown up” together. It’s one of the reasons why I believe that pastors should stay longer at their churches…it allows churches and pastors to mature together. You know me, I know you, and by God’s grace, He’s met us through the years. It’s truly something I’m marvel at and am very grateful for.
Now, onto the sermon from Sunday:
- Last week, a few people asked me a great question…since we can’t do anything to save ourselves, when we’re saved, is there anything we’re supposed to do? When I opened this week’s sermon, I mentioned that when we’re preaching the gospel correctly, people will ask this very question. I say this for a couple of reasons: 1) Romans 6 indicates this. After Paul wrote that where “sin abounds, grace does about all the more” in Romans 5:20, he anticipated a question beginning in chapter 6. He wrote, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” When Paul preached the gospel of free grace, this was the question that people asked. Therefore, if we preach the gospel Paul preached, this should be the question we get. 2) The other reason why I say this is because in church history, some of the greatest preachers have said the same thing. I was thinking of a quote on Sunday by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones when I said this, but my friend, Mason Goodknight, sent it to me. Read this: “The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel of salvation than this, that some people might misunderstand it and misinterpret it to mean that it really amounts to this, that because you are saved by grace alone it does not matter at all what you do; you can go on sinning as much as you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. This is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching and presentation of the gospel of salvation does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel.” Mason finished his text to me with “you’re in good company, brother.” So, if we’re preaching the gospel correctly, people will ask, can I keep on sinning so grace may abound?? That’s the gospel of Jesus, Paul, and all the great ones throughout history.
- In vs. 12, Paul wrote that “Christ Jesus has made me His own.” I couldn’t help but think of Song of Solomon 6:3, when it states, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” Paul loves Jesus because Jesus first loved him.
- I couldn’t elaborate much, due to time, on the issue of imitating folks who love Jesus and are walking with Him. But I will in this post. Years ago a guy told me that he didn’t want to imitate me or let me know he was imitating me because he was afraid that it would go to my head. While I appreciated his desire to keep me humble, it’s actually not a biblical position. Paul makes it so clear to us that imitation is really important. But it’s important that we imitate those who are sincerely walking with Jesus. Those that do this well, will not get the “big head” or “think more highly of themselves than they ought to think”. That’s why we should imitate them. As I think through biblical examples of this, I think of Paul’s relationship with Timothy. Timothy was a dear son in the faith to Paul. Paul yearned for him, prayed for him, and modeled Christ in front of him. And in turn, he told Timothy to go do the same thing (2 Timothy 2:2). I am grateful that Paul told Timothy this because there have been models of godliness in my life that have pointed the way of Jesus and the way to Jesus, faithfully to me. One of those friends flew in for Hannah’s wedding this summer. One of those friends was recently on a trip to Washington with his wife. One of those friends recently told me that a sermon he heard from me on Galatians was the best sermon he’d ever heard (I told him he needed to listen to more sermons…but the reality is he listens to hundreds of sermons a month). A few of those friends sit in the chairs at CLF each Sunday, humbly taking notes and encouraging me after the sermon. I am a recipient of godly imitation. I stand on the shoulders of men who may not be giants to others, but they’re giants to me. And I’m incredibly grateful for them. And I’m convinced that we, as Christians, cannot live this life, without people in our lives like this. If we really want to be pointed to Jesus and shown how Jesus wants us to live in this life, we need to surround ourselves with those we can imitate in the faith. And let me brag for a moment about this: CLF, we are rich with people just like this. It is a huge hallmark and highlight of our church. Go and imitate them.
- Next Sunday we will be in Philippians 4:1-9 and talking about anxiety. I can’t wait for that one. I can be a worry wart.
Quotes I left out:
- “Once upon a time Paul thought that he had ‘arrived’, for he judged himself ‘as to righteousness under the law blameless’ (verse 6). But hear his estimate now: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect. Sinless perfection is not the experience even of an apostle this side of glory. He sees himself with new eyes; he has received a spiritual understanding.” Motyer, J. A.
- “We treasure the memory of our conversion, when we reached out the empty hand of faith to Jesus. But, behind this, making it possible, giving it reality, was the act of God who chose and took hold of us. Did Paul choose Christ? Indeed he did, but only because Christ first chose Paul. Christ’s was the real choice; anything we did was derived from what God in Christ had already decided.” Motyer, J. A.
- “No obsessive hatred ever dogged the heels of its adversary with more tenacity than the apostle held to the target of Christian perfection. This is a far cry from the teaching on sanctification which calls believers to ‘let go and let God’. There was not much ‘letting go’ about Paul, but rather an example of the truth that the regenerate believer must appropriate the sanctifying grace of God by actively obeying him.” Motyer, J. A.
- “The apostolic band has the unique, unrepeatable position of church-founders. They were organs of revelation, infallible teachers. But they were also—as here in the case of Paul—divinely-given examples of the way to live the life of Christ in the world.” Motyer, J. A.
- “He has previously shown himself as a zealous individualist, all out for his own spiritual growth. The prize-winner dare not pause to help others over the hurdles. But see here another side of the apostle, when he weeps with care for people, and when he takes pains to lead the Philippians in the way of Christ. Individual care for one’s own spiritual progress must keep in touch with pastoral responsibility for the souls and welfare of others.” Motyer, J. A.
Planning for Sundays:
Some of you have asked how we go about planning for a Sunday service, so here’s a little explanation of that:
- First, we have a yearly planning sheet that has all the texts of Scripture and who’s preaching each Sunday in front of us. That really is the beginning part.
- Then, most Tuesdays, Dave Quilla, Perry Sorensen and I, meet to review the past Sunday and look ahead. Perry will already have a list of songs he’s been thinking about and we’ll review those as well as go over any announcements we need to add or subtract.
- Usually, by Thursday, I have an outline of my sermon and I have a decent idea of where we might land and Perry and I meet one more time to discuss the ending of the service. Our goal is to be more intentional about giving room for you to do business with God during the service.
- Then on Fridays, Dave Quilla puts together an order of service with all the parts listed and sends that out to those who are serving CLF that week.
- One other part to this is that monthly, we have an all-staff meeting, where we hear from our staff about how are services are going. Recently, we’ve been working on being more efficient with our time, without compromising the gospel and the message we are tasked by God to deliver to you on Sundays.
- We have 3 main goals: glorify God, encourage Christians, and evangelize the non-Christian. Sundays are primarily for God and His people and we believe the planning of our services is accomplishing these things.
- I read the news a lot and thanks to Apple News, it’s really easy to check out. I like reading things that our “outside my box” a little bit and I found this article about Millennials and how they’re buying property, very interesting: https://apple.news/AOQyb0lpjTq2aW-ixPnFyQQ.
- 3-0 can go to 3-2 very quickly. Those who know me, will know what I’m talking about.
- I think the Beavers are getting better…I hope the Beavers are getting better…I know Stanford is getting worse.
- Would you pray for me this week? This week is my annual planning retreat. During this week, my goals are to plan every Sunday for 2020; plan the elder/wives planning retreat; study on social issues; and do lots of reading. It’s definitely not time off as much as it’s time away.