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This past weekend my wife and I, put on a garage sale (well, it was more of a driveway sale, but that’s beside the point).  Lauren worked her tail off all week to sort, price, and organize everything that we would sell and I basically was her work horse moving what she wanted where she wanted it.  She asked me to go through my entire closet and pick out clothes that I no longer wear or have need of which is a form of torture for me so I politely passed the buck by saying, “I trust you.”  That was her green light to get after it.  I’ve been so pre-occupied with writing and recording for a new project (more on that coming soon!) and finishing up a couple of online college classes that I was glad to have her sort for me. 

Fast forward to day two of the sale.  It was pretty slow on Saturday morning so Lauren asked if I wouldn’t mind sitting out in the garage where I could work on my paper and keep an eye on the sale (AKA make sure people don’t steal stuff) while she, my mom, and our boys went out and did some shopping.  Side note, it is the weirdest thing selling your stuff as you leave the house to go buy more stuff.  Just saying.

While I was typing away on my computer, a family showed up and began to look through some of my clothes.  As they unfolded them to get a good look at them, I started feeling, well, weird.  It was disheveling seeing a stranger hold up MY clothes to see if they might fit his taste and his dashing figure (see what I did there).  Honestly it was weird because I still felt a since of ownership with those clothes.  I mean those pants and I have been through a lot together.  I slightly felt entitled to them.  Even if I hadn’t worn them in over a year, they were after all, you know, mine.  To give up a pair of my pants for $2, two t-shirts for $0.75, and two dress shirts for a buck a piece felt wrong.  And to top it all off, the lady handed me a $5 bill instead of paying the $5.50 I was due assuming I would just take the $5 and not worry about my two quarters.  Sheesh.  I’m not bitter though.

I jokingly say all of this because I think that we look at many pieces of clothing in our life as things we are entitled to and to give them up for next to nothing makes us feel jaded.  Pastor, perhaps you feel entitled to your church.  Lay minister, perhaps you feel entitled to your program.  Maybe you have worked hard at your career for years, and if you’re being honest, your business card that has your title and position written on it is a huge part of your identity’s makeup. 

In some ways, we need to look at our careers, titles, ministries, positions, and possessions as a t-shirt.  There is a “time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away” (Ecclesiastes 3:6).  Yes.  Please put on your “shirt” and wear it gladly and humbly, but remember, you are as entitled to your shirt as I am to the $.75 cents I got for mine. 

The truth is, there is a greater identity to be had -one that will not be stripped away.  An identity that has been purchased for you and is being eternally kept in heaven for you. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1 Peter 1:3-5

confession
Confession: I am reading through the Bible and have been in Leviticus for a week or two. This has been, as you might suspect, the hardest book of the Bible for me to walk through. It’s so easy for me to just say, “This doesn’t even matter anymore. Jesus paid it all. Can’t I just move on?”
So this morning it struck me as I was glazing over Leviticus 14, “The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed…” Anyone else feel my pain here? The struggle is real. As I was inwardly murmuring and faking my way through another time of Bible reading it hit me, “Am I even slightly impressed with the holiness of God?”

God’s chosen people, the Israelites, weren’t murmuring and faking their way through these rituals.  Those who were pursuing God must have been blown away by the opportunity to walk in relationship with a God so holy, so righteous, so mighty, so perfect. Now contrast the perfection, wisdom, and eternality of this holy God with the imperfection, lack of wisdom, and finite existence of man. It should wreck us that God would stoop down to speak with and listen to His people.

As I continued to reflect on the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament with this in view, the Holy Spirit stirred my heart to long for a right view of God. I want to tremble over the holiness of God. I want to weep over my sin. I want to cry over the lavish mercy and grace poured out for sinners like me through the terrible cross of Jesus Christ.
So whether it’s Leviticus or Romans, Numbers or Ephesians, may we tremble as we read God’s Word and stand in awe once again over the relationship God invites us into through Jesus Christ our Lord.

2-core-needs
Sheila Heen, Lecturer at Harvard Law School says that humanity has two core needs.

  1. The need to feel accepted or respected or loved the way we are.
  2. The need to learn and grow.

Christ obliterated need number one.  Get this: In Christ, we are fully known and yet fully loved.  There is no hiding “the real us” from Jesus so that he will like us.  He died a bloody death for us while we were still sinners (that is, enemies of God who were condemned to hell), in order to adopt us as God’s children into God’s forever family (see Rom. 5:8, and 8:15).  *Mind-blown.  

Christ shatters need number two by sealing us with his Holy Spirit.  In the same breath that Jesus loves and accepts us in, he wants to teach us and grow us into something better -namely into his own likeness (see Rom. 8:28-29).  “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).  We are given the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, comfort us in affliction, and compel us to live life on mission (see John 16:8, 2 Cor. 1:4, 5:14).

This is huge.  You are loved and accepted completely in Christ, but you are not left to your own devices.  You aren’t just given a new legal status “not guilty” but ultimately a new identity: son and daughter.  Jesus doesn’t just take away the penalty of sin (death and hell); he crushes the reign of sin (life of obedience).

So now what?

First you need to stop and revel in the love of Jesus.  Stop striving and working FOR the favor of God -or of anyone else for that matter- and start working FROM the favor of God.  When you embrace the love and acceptance that you have in Christ based on his perfection, not yours, you are free to live a life of joy-filled obedience.  There isn’t a time or place to simply sit and sour as a believer in the Lord Jesus, we must work out our “salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in us to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

I set out to write and convey the entire Biblical Metanarrative, tracing the storyline of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation showing Christ as the center. I feel like Christians often miss the “whole story” of the gospel, and we all, myself included, easily forget the good news of the gospel.  Out of a desire to preach the gospel to myself, my church, and anyone else who will listen, I attempted to convey the whole story artfully through a “spoken word.”  May God be praised and may our joy be ever increasing in Him alone!


Jason Waller
“The Whole Story”

When the earth was void and without form
There was no space or time
There was nothing created simply the Trinity
and when I say simply, I mean God, simply the glorious mystery
One God in three persons in blessed unity
Father, Son, and Spirit living in perfect harmony

Out of the overflow of love, not out of any need
God spoke and gave life to all our eyes can see
Sun, moon, stars, and every galaxy
Mountains, trees, and rivers, all beauty we perceive
Tigers, birds, humpback whales, and honey bees
He spoke, and then it was, God shined forth His glory

But the crown of his creation was not apes, gazelles, or jaguars
Not Everest or the Grand Canyon -as good as these things are
No, God made man in his own image he created
Male and female to talk and walk with God the definition of blessed

But we rebelled when man bit the forbidden fruit and fell further than we can comprehend
In case you missed the memo, the Bible says all have sinned

Death is now our penalty, We turned God into our enemy
condemned for all eternity, we chose this, this is what we asked for don’t you see
No app can hack our life to save us -nothing in our grip could provide the saving answer
This sickness can’t be cured by man, though we all try to escape our sin-cancer

Now what could be left but hopeless pleas and cries?
So, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die”
No. The Sovereign King did not leave us in our deserved plight
He stooped down to speak when in his perfect justice He could have chosen to smite

He made us a vow with his word on that terribly dark night
“I will send the Promised King, the Warrior who will fight”
He will crush the serpent’s head, take your punishment for sin
He will become a curse to remove your curse, trust me, this war is mine to win”

Now as time travelled on, God’s promises grew faint
In no time the human race would rather move on than trust and wait
So we kept on sinning just like we did in the beginning
If worship were like our arrows then self is the target at which we’re aiming

But after 400 years, a Sound broke the silence
The Word became flesh and Light pierced through the darkness
Could it be true, the Infinite wrapped himself in human frailty?
The Omnipotent Creator set aside his glory to be born as a helpless baby

This is too marvelous, too wonderful, this news is far too good
That the same God who hung the stars moved into our neighborhood
This Coming King theologians call it “the Hypostatic Union”
That is, Christ is fully God yet fully Man in one Person

“You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sin”
Not might, not maybe, not probably, He will, He will, He will win
Promise became reality as marry held the eight pound Savior
Nothing would be the same, this changes everything forever

Now this Jesus walked and talked and worked. He played and scraped his knees
He laughed, he cried, squinted at the sun, this same God who breathed out galaxies
He lived in full obedience to God, the life we should’ve lived
He was reviled but did not lash out.  We would selfishly take yet He would freely give

He came to wash our feet but we nailed his to a tree
Now his life, we didn’t take it, but he freely gave it, Jesus is the Loving King
For the Father made Him who knew no sin to become sin in our place
That we might be His Righteousness, through our murder he offered grace

The entirety of our sin debt was paid when the sinless Son of God was slain
So quit your striving and trying to earn salvation, simply call upon his Name
On that cross Christ breathed his last, “It is finished!” was His cry
And it was at that moment that The God-man, Jesus, gave up his spirit and died

And when I say “died” He really died
His follower’s scattered, Darkness filled the skies
The fire that once burned bright had dimmed as Jesus’ cold body was carried
They put him in a borrowed tomb, the Son of God was buried

Has the curse been lifted?  Who could really say?
Are you sure Jesus wasn’t just a man? I mean, he’s lying dead in a grave
Bricks of doubt upon doubt must have continually been laid
Hopelessness ensued all the more in those long long days

On the third morning, Mary Magdalene wept bitter tears
Her doubts confirmed as she gazed at the empty tomb, she was paralyzed with fear
“Who are you seeking?” Asked the voice behind her, a gardener, Mary had suspected
“If you moved His body just tell me where” but the man’s response was totally unexpected

“Mary” said the familiar voice. She couldn’t believe her ears
The same voice that calmed the storms melted Mary’s fear
“Teacher!” she exclaimed. Beaming, bouncing, bounding, she left the scene to proclaim
“He’s risen from the grave, I tell you, He’s risen!  My eyes have seen the King!”

Oh and this King has risen. He has ascended to his heavenly throne
Death is being reversed.  Drained is the power of the curse
The long promised King actually came
He lived, he loved, he died, he rose, he ascended, he rules and reigns.

But that’s not the end.  He will come again

The Lion of the tribe of Judah will roar, he will come riding through the skies
With “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords” written down his thighs

He will gather his scattered people from the far corners of every tribe and nation
And around his throne we will lift one voice singing “Worthy is the King of creation!
May the Lamb who was slain receive blessing, and honor, and glory, and power
For Yours is the Kingdom forever and ever and ever!”

Amen.

It Matters.jpg
Worship pastors, leaders, and team members.  If you play even the slightest part in selecting songs, praying prayers, or leading the people of God in worship, please understand the weightiness of your role.  You are not there to entertain.  You are not there to put on a show.  You are not there to look and sound good.

You are there to lead the people of God to sing the praises of God (Psalm 145:21).
You are there to remind the saints of the gospel through song (Col. 3:16).

Believe it or not, you are giving people a vocabulary to praise God with.  You are giving struggling saints weapons in their battle with sin.  You are giving those grieving and mourning words that will act as a healing balm on their soul.  You are teaching new believers how to relate to God in prayer.  You are shaping the way people view God.

So don’t take what you do lightly.  Your work matters.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” (John 16:22)

“So also you have sorrow now…”  Our sorrows in this world build up because the things that we see all around us are ultimately stealers of joy.  Think about it, we see murder, adultery, theft, and all sorts of sin that flow from the well of pride and selfishness.  In an attempt to shade our eyes from the glaring evil, we turn to that which is good in creation -trees, sunsets, moon, and stars, people, sex, food, money, and all other things that possess some degree of beauty.  But even as we turn to these beautiful things, we know deep down that they cannot hold the weight of the joy-gap that is in our hearts.  Indeed they were not designed to.  We were made for eternal joy and anything that will eventually be taken from us cannot eternally satisfy.  No spouse or child, no job or career, no wealth or possession can or ever will satisfy us forever.

“But I will see you again…”

But.  What a glorious word!  “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice.”  Theology propels doxology.  That is, the revealed glory (value, worth, beauty) of God yields the worship (adoration, rejoicing, thanksgiving) of God.  When we see all that God is for us in Christ, our hearts will eternally rejoice.  God is the inexhaustible fountain of joy that our eternally thirsty hearts will drink from forever.  In Christ our temporal sorrows cannot last because they will be pushed out by eternal joy. 

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.” – C.S. Lewis

Drink from Jesus today.  He alone will satisfy.

Tell a better story

We all love a good story.  Good story-tellers captivate their audience and keep them on the edge of their seats.  Why?  Because we all want redemption.  We long for authenticity and beauty.  A story is good because it is believable.  A story is good because it’s honest.  We get sucked in by the suspense, tension, and friction, which makes us ache for a beautiful resolution.  These are all elements of a good story.

As believers in the Lord Jesus, we must testify to how the gospel has worked and is still working in our lives.  This is not only in our salvation, but how the gospel meets us in our depression, miscarriages and loss of life, financial ruin and job loss, adultery and marital strife, adoption and fostering of orphans, selling all possessions and entering the mission field, engaging the lost in our neighborhoods, etc.  The gospel literally impacts every facet of our lives, and these stories need to be told in order to build up of the church, engage the lost, and above all to glorify our God and Savior Jesus Christ. “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

This is why I think it is so important for the redeemed, covenant members of our churches to tell their stories.  We want to show the world that the all surpassing power at work in us is from God.  At the Mount Church we have recently begun a story-telling ministry that aims to do just this through the medium of video.  Here are a few guidelines to help you tell a better story using video at your church:

1. Look for nutshell statements that encapsulate what needs to be communicated. We aren’t looking for every nitty gritty detail, but rather specific details that assist to tell the greater narrative -what are the darkest moments, the brightest moments, etc.  Look for the truth that needs to be communicated and what stories and examples are given to illustrate that truth well.  Usually the pieces and parts of our stories that we are tempted to hold back are the very bits of truth that need to be brought to light.

2. Excellence is our servant, Jesus is our King. While we want to harness the excellence and creativity the Lord has given us to seamlessly point people to the excellencies of our Savior, don’t “sacrifice Jesus at the altar of excellence.”  If the audio isn’t perfect or the shot isn’t the most appealing, keep it if it shows Jesus as beautiful.  “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor. 4:7).  It isn’t our pretty, polished production that is going to lead people to Jesus but the TREASURE inside the content of our production that will show that the surpassing power belongs to God, and not to us.

Jesus needs to be the hero of the story.  We are not trying to offer a hallmark story.  In the deepest of valleys and the highest of mountains, in the darkest of nights, and the brightest of lights, the glory of God should be at the forefront and the viewer should leave thinking, “Jesus is good.  Jesus is sweet.  Jesus is greater than our mess.  Jesus is worth the loss.  Jesus is better.”

It’s all about Jesus.  He has chosen to work in and through his people to show case his story and glory to the world around us.  So tell a better story by telling the best story.