Desiring God Ministries and John Piper have made available a free advent devotional book for this Advent season. I have placed the link on the web site as an encouragement to you. You can download the book in pdf file or any number of formats for your electronic books. Please take advantage of this wonderful resource for the holidays. I have grown to love Piper’s passion for God’s glory and these devotionals will lead us each day to savor Jesus as our Savior, Lord, Counselor, King, Confidant, Friend, our God. May this season be filled with the joy and anticipation of the coming Messiah. Treasure Him!
soli deo gloria
October was Pastor Appreciation Month. I’m not sure who originated the idea, Hallmark, Day Spring or a group of insecure preachers looking for an annual confidence vote but I have to say as your Pastor, I appreciate it. Not for the gifts so much, and my what gifts you have poured out, but for the words of encouragement and signs of spiritual growth that you exhibit as disciples of Christ.
The wall decorations, homemade relishes, jams and jellies, stamps, cookies, candles, gift cards, cash, and the amazing Nexus Tablet is so very much appreciated. And you have to love a church that supplies their Pastor with personal defense ammo for his Glock 27. Thanks so much.
But nothing means more to me than seeing the evidence of God’s word changing the lives of His people. The past several weeks I have heard from so many of you telling me how the current series of messages from the gospel of John has led you to a higher view of Jesus and a more intimate relationship with God as your deepest Treasure. Nothing means more to me! I have received cards and emails from some of you and have felt the sincerity of your appreciation for the Word of God through your tears and hugs. It is times such as these that I love being your Pastor.
As you are aware, this year as brought many changes for our church. Your unity and commitment to Christ and the preaching of His word during these changes is something for which I give thanks to God. I am amazed at your generosity toward those in and out of the family of God. Tammy and I have been through weddings, funerals, the lingering passing of loved ones, counseling, hospital emergencies, tears and rejoicing with most of you in the past 5 years. We have grown to love you all and count it an amazing privilege to be ministering at Center Hill.
Thank you for allowing us to be a part of “discipling you from unbelief to spiritual maturity in Jesus Christ” and being discipled to that same end through you.
For God’s glory only!
“I want to be successful”. “I hold very close my portfolio”. “I find myself fulfilled in being a mother and wife”. “I live to ride, I ride to live”. “I’d rather be……..”
You get the picture. We each have our own desires and appetites. They’re not wrong in and of themselves. Scripture even tells us that God gives us desires of our hearts. It speaks of God fulfilling the desires of those who fear Him. Certain wants, appetites, and passions are part of God’s creation in and for us. We all have them and we each cultivate them. They can leads us to eternal life or to death everlasting.
As a church, we have been feasting in the book of John for over a year now in our Sunday morning worship. We have reached chapter 6 and my what treasures we’ve found, what a Treasure we have! In my study of these 71 verses I have found not a compilation of several well known stories of Jesus, His feeding of 5000 men with a couple of dried fish and bread loaves, or His walking on water, or a difficult discourse to His followers who mostly run away from Him. In times past, I have wrongly taken these stories as simply stand alone examples of His great power over creation and His authority to judge and our only Way of eternal life. They are all that but so much more.
John has written his gospel so that we may see, taste, savor and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that we might have eternal life by believing in Him. (John 20:31) Chapter 6 must be read and studied in that context, as a continuing discourse by John to describe Jesus as the Bread of Life. It is this that the miracle of the feeding of 5000 points to, it’s what the walking on the water points to, and it’s what Jesus’ rebuttal of ‘Jesus seekers’ points to. He is not simply our miracle worker, not only our strong and powerful king, not just Moses’ foretold prophet of old, He is so much more. He is to be our Treasure, our heart’s desire.
I have been impressed with the fact that Jesus has turned away from those who have ‘wanted’ Him. Jesus withdrew Himself numerous times from ‘seeking’ people and even protected His apostles from seeker sensitive ministry. He did not entrust Himself to people who believed in His power, who wanted Him to be their King, who were drawn to Him because he performed signs. After having ate their full, I believe many ‘loved’ Jesus and would have followed Him to their death as they marched on Rome. They wanted Jesus. They were correct in the fact that He was all of these things but He still refused to grant life to the majority of the crowds because they did not receive Him for all that He was.
He was useful to the crowd. He was powerful enough to bring down the Roman government, He was able to keep their bellies full and He was healing sick and dying people. He was useful and they wanted Him for that reason alone. They did not see Him as their Bread of Life, a feast spread before them for their satisfaction at the deepest level, the Treasure that leads to eternal joy. ‘He’ wasn’t enough, they desired His miracles. He wanted them to see that it was He and He alone that satisfies and not the miracle provided. They missed the sign giver and only saw the sign. They followed Him because He filled their bellies not because He filled their souls.
It’s interesting that John does not record the fact that Jesus calmed the storm on the sea of Galilee, as do other gospels, but ends that story with the fact that the 12 disciples simply were ‘glad to take Him in the boat’ with them. It didn’t matter whether Jesus calmed the storm, He was enough. He was becoming their Treasure. Yes, He had provided 12 additional baskets of food for them but what was that to them at the point of death in this storm? Jesus, Himself, was enough and their utmost satisfaction at this moment. The disciples in the boat were beginning to get it.
As unregenerate people we fail to see Him as our Treasure and our Bread of life, a Feast spread out before us for our greatest appetites. We are blinded to this truth, we can’t see Him as such. If you don’t see Him as Satisfier of your deepest needs, pray that He opens your eyes. Fall before Him pleading that you have eyes capable of seeing. We have this assurance of scripture that those who truly seek Him will find Him. God will open blind eyes.
As believers, may we grow in the satisfaction of Him as our All in All, our Soul Satisfier. Let us ask Him to change our temporal, petty desires we still have to ones of eternal value which are only met by Him. Grow deeper in the richness of His glory and His presence. Let us feast upon the very Bread of Life and be ‘glad to take Him into our boat’ in the midst of life’s worst storms. Let His presence by our comfort. He might even calm the storm!
soli deo gloria!
This post is for the men of our men’s ministry, Metal to Metal at CHCC. In our most recent gathering, we discovered that God’s design for his creation was to create and then cultivate. The book of Genesis is filled with this pattern of how God intended for his creation, especially man as His image bearers, to not only create something but to further it by cultivating it. It seems easy for men to create a personal relationship or employment situation or even a family but is then that we men, even Christian men, fail by not working to cultivate the success of this new relationship. We become cowards, pleasure seekers or complainers instead of standing up in the face of this culture, drawing the line and saying ‘Here I stand, I will by God’s grace and strength make this work’. We fail as husbands, as fathers, as employees or employers, or as church leaders because the lure of this world is greater than our commitment to what God has called us to be. Men it is time for us to ‘stand and draw the line’.
Check out this video of Chris Norman who drew the line and followed God’s clear leading for his life when his future seemed so promising according to the world’s standards in another direction. Let’s be men of conviction and action as we determine how God has wired us for His purpose in this life.
soli deo gloria
I’ve been asked several times ‘Why do you spend so much time going verse by verse through passages when you preach’. They don’t always use these exact words but you get the idea of what people are asking. My answer is simple, ‘I don’t know any other way. I wouldn’t, nor couldn’t, come up with ideas each week for people which would transform their lives?’ You see there is great restorative and transformative power in the gospel and the only way to unlock that truth and power is by allowing the passage to express it’s own meaning, less we bring our own muddled and self centered agenda to the pulpit.
Self help talks and a continual diet of topical messages have made for an anemic church not able to stand against the attack of post modern thinking or a confused eclectic view of Christianity in which a simple belief in God and tacit acknowledgement of Jesus is enough to qualify one for the celestial city. The scriptures are clear, God has been, is, and will continue to write His redemptive story for all creation and that since the beginning of time. We are participants in that story and recipients of His grace which is bringing us full circle to a perfect restored creation. And unless we allow Him to tell His story through His Word, we will continue to have a man centered message in which God acts simply from our requests and our interests, saving us simply for our benefit and not His glory and purposes.
Read Albert Mohler’s piece for a better explanation.
At Center Hill, we are committed to worship that is God centered not a time of entertainment that has a smattering of Christian verse and abandons us to simple good feelings or excitement. We attempt each week to give our full attention in prayer, music, giving and preaching to the God of all praise. Watch this short video from Alistair Begg, he speaks our heart.
soli deo gloria!
Metal to Metal is the men’s ministry of Center Hill Community Church. It consists of four areas to assist our men to assume and grow in the God given responsibilities of discipleship, leadership, and a desire toward God. Those areas are Bible study, small groups, larger men’s gatherings and service projects to our community.
We will be meeting every first and third Tuesdays of the month at the church for Bible study, once a month in small groups and every other month for a planned service project. Our initial study will be the “33 The Series” from Authentic Manhood. This DVD driven study will encourage men to embrace what real men are by examining the life of Christ during his 33 years on this earth. To see more simply check out the link to the series trailer here.