He has shown you what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
The goal of this blog is for us to take a journey together and see how we can do those three things: act justly; love mercy; and walk humbly with our God!
You Want to Grow
Jesus tells us he will MAKE us fishers of people...
It seems like people, when faced with what Jesus is calling them to do, treat it like a chore. The basic requirements of following Christ are to Love (God and neighbor), Grow (become like Jesus), and Go (go out and make disciples). You may look at that list and think, "I am so busy, I will have to give up so much to follow Jesus." Have you ever thought, however, that the most important thing of all that you do is to imitate Jesus and to be a disciple? Truly that is the life best lived (shout out to Donnie Cook who shared this idea with me). In Dallas Williard's wonderful treatise on the sermon on the mount, The Divine Conspiracy, Willard addresses this very issue. In it, he discusses two parables (among others): "The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that somebody hid in a field, which someone else found and covered up. Full of joy, the finder sold everything and bought that field." And "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went and sold all that he owned and bought it (Matthew 13:44-45 CEB)." Think about what Jesus is saying. The kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God (think of that as the life of Christ that we are individually and communally living into) is like a treasure or a fine pearl. In both cases, when found, the people sold everything and with great joy bought the pearl or the field. Of course, we would do that! If we found something of worth we would do everything possible to get that thing. What Jesus is saying is that following him is more valuable than one of those items. The other side of it is that following Jesus does take sacrifice, selling out to get the pearl/treasure. It means getting up early in the morning and devoting time with God in prayer and scripture. It means committing to worshiping God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit each week in worship. It means finding a life group to be a part of and do life together. It means committing to be financially generous and share the blessings that we have been given to those in need and with the church so it can fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It means finding your gift and serving in some way, making a difference. And it means that we must go into the world and be a witness to this incredible God. That means following Jesus and becoming like him will require sacrifice from us. There are things we are going to have to give up. This idea pervades all aspects of our life! Today I want to focus on growing in our faith because just like the pearl and the treasure we must crave it with the greatest desire in our hearts. The big sacrifice will be time. You will have to give up time and other aspects of your life to commit to spending time with God and others in the community so that you can grow. You will miss out on some stuff that others who follow Jesus get to do. But you know what? That is ok. Remember that Jesus says, "I came that they might have life and live it to the fullest (John 10:10)." The goal is to progress until Jesus is the center of our lives, we do that through daily scripture and prayer and by being in a life group that we can do life with and hold us accountable to the life we are called to live. This is what Williard says, "What this passage in Luke is about is clarity. It is not about misery or about some incredibly dreadful price that one must pay to be Jesus' apprentice. There is no such thing as a dreadful price for the 'pearl' in question. Suffering for him is actually something we rejoice to be counted worthy of (Acts 5:41; Phil 1:29). The point is simply that unless we clearly see the superiority of what we receive as his students over every other thing that might be valued, we cannot succeed in our discipleship to him. We will not be able to do the things required to learn his lessons and move ever deeper into a life that is his kingdom."
If you want the best life you can possibly live then it is time to seek Christ as a precious pearl or treasure. Then the life that comes from that relationship will so change all of your other relationships and existence that you will receive life to the fullest.
At Rockbridge, this is a great week to recommit yourself to a life of growing in your faith, of becoming a disciple of Jesus. On Sunday each of our life groups will have a table for you to sign up. Check them out! If you don't know where you need to be, then join the Disciple's Path class which will be a great place to get your discipleship jump-started!
May you find the treasure of following Jesus Christ and, full of joy, seek it out with all that you have.
This morning I lost my wallet. Well lost is probably not the correct word, I temporarily misplaced it. Whenever I lose something, especially something important, I get anxious, even frantic. Most people have outgrown the problem of losing their keys or their wallet by having specific places to put it. I struggle with this (I often give the excuse that it's because it is how my brain works, while true it's an excuse) because I have not taken the time and effort to develop a pattern of where to put my important stuff. I am a very forgetful person, my dad used to say I would forget my head if it was not attached, but with the proper effort and training, I could learn to change my ways.
Friends, the same is true with our faith. We must choose to put effort and energy into growing in mature followers of Jesus. Check out Hebrews 6:1-9:
So let’s press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word. Let’s not lay a foundation of turning away from dead works, of faith …
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him.
It is a season of new beginning for me, as of July 2, I am the Pastor of Rockbridge Church. When change happens we are full of a lot of emotions and many of them are painful: fear, anxiety, loss, insecurity and even depression. I believe, however, we serve a God of change, a God who designed a dynamic world that is given the ability to create and reproduce: "God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’ (Genesis 1:22)."
For me this change is of God and yet I have definitely felt many of these emotions. What has reassured me is the sure and certain knowledge that this change is part of God's plan. I shared a story in worship this week about a moment I had when I was still the pastor of the Tarleton Wesley. I was sitting, listening to my intern, Hanna New…
You might be wondering what this blog is about today, or you might have already connected with the title with two popular Christian songs on the radio: Home by Chris Tomlin and Greater by Mercy Me. Both songs represent a theology that is an epidemic among popular Christianity today.
Many Christians believe that this world is not really our home, that it is just a temporary place that we are passing through and (hopefully if we found Christ!) we go TO heaven and not experience eternal conscious torment in hell. That allows us to say (as it says in the song Greater by Mercy Me) that if we lose the battle with doubt or sin, it doesn't matter because we have the grace of God and so we still get to go to heaven (side note: this isn't exactly what the song means, but it is what it says. The song seems to be saying that because we are redeemed we don't have to earn grace. That is true but it overstates the point).
The Christian world has focused on eternal salvation, however foll…