Monday, August 30, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Prayer

As I have been plodding my way through the book of Colossians, I was so looking forward to studying and teaching on Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-12. I have been so blessed in the past when I have studied the different prayers of Paul. I remember several years ago reading a book by D. A. Carson called A Call To Spiritual Reformation. In this book, he goes through every prayer that Paul prays and dissects them to show what our prayer life could be like.

I know my prayer life is shallow at times. I know that I tend to pray for surface and trivial things. I know it is important to pray for the health of individuals, but my prayer life should not stop there. Too often it does. What I learned in this prayer by Paul was that a deep growing knowledge of Jesus and His desire for my life is so important that it should consume  my prayers. In reality, as Paul lived with Jesus at the center, it created a depth to His prayers that I seldom see in mine.

Epaphras had traveled to Rome to tell Paul what had happened in the evangelization and church planting efforts in Colossae (his message would have included their positive response to the gospel as well as the impending false teaching). Paul rejoiced and gave thanks to God for the people of Colossae and began to pray for them. His prayer for them was singular: that they would be "filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col 1:9).

Paul was not praying that they would understand the Lord's will as if some big decision needed to be made, but he was praying that they would come to know the Lord is such a personal way that they would know His desires for them in their life. This desire then would lead them to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects" (Col 1:10). Knowledge of the Lord leads to walking with the Lord!

From there, Paul gives the evidences of walking with the Lord: bearing fruit (1:10), increasing knowledge (1:10), growing stronger (1:11), and giving thanks (1:12).

What I learned this week has changed the way I pray for my kids. I am praying that they will come to really know the Lord. I want them to know the Lord so well that it changes the way they walk in this life. I want them to not focus on the fruit, knowledge, strength, thanksgiving (as the evidences show us), but I want them to so know His desire for their life so they will naturally walk with Him.

But before I pray that for my kids, I am praying that for myself. I am praying that my knowledge of the Lord would not be intellectual, but practical in my life. I want my life so focused on Jesus that it impacts the way I pray. No longer do I only want my prayers focused on the physical, but I want them focused on the spiritual.

So, how do you pray?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Preparing for Church, part 2

Last week I told the fictional story of Johnny & Sue as they tried to get ready for church on Sunday morning, hardly ready for what the Lord had for them at church. We spend our lives preparing, but we often do not think of preparing for church. Over the next several weeks, I am going to give you some practical steps that you can take to prepare yourself for church, which will help you become better listeners to the preaching of God's Word. These are very short snippets from my book, Helping Johnny Listen.

Today's advice? COME TO CHURCH RESTED! We all know what it is like coming to church and struggling to stay awake. We all know what it is like to be like the cartoon character whose eyelids weigh a couple hundred pounds. We have all probably struggled to not fall asleep at some point at church in our life. The cure for this? Come to church rested.

We can do this when we get a good night's sleep. Sleep is a valuable part of life and extremely necessary for the body. Avoid working so hard or staying up so late that you do not get the sleep necessary before Sunday. But also don't be lazy on Saturday. Proverbs 19:15 says, "Laziness casts into a deep sleep." The lazier you are the more lazy you will become. Get a good night's sleep, but don't lay around all day on Saturday so that you become more sluggish when Sunday rolls around.

We can also come to church rested when we get some physical exercise. Being physically active will give you more energy and allow you to sit still for the time needed to hear from God from His preached Word.

My youth pastor used to tell me in high school that Sunday morning begins Saturday night. That is so true. So as you are about your business today, don't forget that what you are doing will impact how you will be prepared tomorrow for church.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday's Random Thoughts (Aug 27, 2010)

Here we are on Friday morning with another week of my random thoughts of what is going on in the world and in my life...

1. Michael Hyatt, the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, gives a look into the new Kindle 3 from Amazon. He shows himself unwrapping it as well as gives some initial thoughts about this new version of the kindle. Check it out HERE!

2. Please pray for our pastor, Rick Goertzen, as he is going to Brazil on Monday. He will be there for almost two weeks preaching and teaching in a seminary. We will try to have on our church website a list of times and subject matter he will be teaching. Check back later for that information

3. Since we are talking about praying, I would ask you to start to pray for the Kansas State Fair. As a church, we will be there for 12 hours a day over the 10 days sharing Jesus with as many people as we can. Pray that the gospel will go forth in boldness and people's lives will be changed. And if you have not signed up yet, there is still room!

4. Spurgeon Quote of the day: "I had rather be blind and deaf and dumb, and lose my taste and smell, than not love Christ. To be unable to appreciate him is the worst of disabilities, the most serious of calamities."

5. Last, but not least, the winner of this week's free give-a-way is Cindy Roth. Congratulations and please let me know where to send the book by sending me your details HERE! Please come back next Wednesday for another giveaway. Remember, you can't win if you don't try.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Praying For My Kids

As many of you know and are experiencing, schools have started once again. We have a 5th grader, 2nd grader, and on Monday, my little princess started kindergarten. We are so proud of her (and the boys as well) and are really looking forward to how she is going to learn and what is going to happen in her life. Here is her on her first day of school.

Every year when school begins, there seems to be an added jolt to my prayer life. I pray constantly for my kids, but when they start school, I seem to shift it to another level. I think I am driven to pray so much more for them because now I am not with them all day long (or at least mom with them all day long). They are now being influenced by others, mostly their teachers and other students. I am not there to listen to what they talk about. I am not there to protect them from seeing things I would not want them to see.

When I pray for my kids, I am reminded of one passage in which Jesus is praying for His disciples. It is found in John 17:13-17. Jesus prays:

"But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth."
This passage helps shape my prayers for my kids on several levels, but the one I want to highlight right now is a prayer for protection. Jesus prays that God would not take them out of the world. He knows that in order for them to make an impact upon the world, they are going to have to be in it. But his prayer is that they would be protected from the evil one.

Here is how I work this out in the life of my kids. Every morning when I take the kids to school, we pray in the car. I pray for them that they would be protected. I pray for their purity. I pray that God would keep their eyes from seeing things they should not see. I pray that God would protect their ears from hearing things they should not hear. I pray that the enemy would not target my kids.

And I pray this out loud so they can hear it. I think it is important for your children to hear you as a parent begging God to keep them holy and pure. So, pray for your kids today. Pray with your kids today. We do it because we know that apart from God, we have no hope of their protection. Amen?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World

It is Wednesday which means it is time for another book review. Today, I wanted to highlight a book I read last week called The Reformation by Stephen J. Nichols. As you will see if you read the review, I thought it was a very good book and will be giving away a copy of the book (details at the end).

As you can probably tell from the title, this book is about church history, particularly the history of the reformation. Nichols says, "This book offers a look at this cast of characters and what they accomplished for the life of the church. It tells the various stories that make up the one, grand narrative of the Reformation" (11).

Now, I know that this topic might turn some of you away, but that is unfortunate. I have always loved church history. When I began seminary at Trinity in Deerfield, IL, I had to pick an emphasis for my MDiv and I picked church history. I loved to read and study how God had used men and women to accomplish His mission in the world. If you have been disinterested in church history, this is exactly the type of book that you should read.

This is not a detail book, but only gives the important people, places, and events. Nichols is a very good writer. He says at the beginning that he thinks history is fun and I think he helps with that by the way he writes. But more importantly than the way he writes is the subject he writes about. He says, "In studying hte Reformation, we remember what the church is all about, and we remember how easy it is for the church to lose its grip on the gospel. If he said it once, Martin Luther said it a hundred times: 'The church's true treasure is the gospel'" (17). Again he says, "We need to realize that the Reformers saw nothing less than the gospel at stake. We sometimes forget what Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others risked in taking a stand for the gospel. They risked their very lives" (21).

I think we tend to forget about that. Later in the book, he talks about theology in a classroom versus theology in the real world. A world that was willing to kill those who stood up against their false views of the gospel. If anything, you should read this book because many of these people talked about died for the faith you claim to have today! We don't think of our theology as "worth dying for" because we don't have to. They did and that meant counting the cost.

Who does he talk about in this book? As the subtitle suggests, Martin Luther was the Monk who used the mallet to post his 95 thesis in hopes of provoking a debate with the leades of the Catholic Church. It didn't happen and what resulted was what this book is all about. He tells many stories about Luther, one being that he told his future wife he would marry her not out of love but because his parents needed grandchildren and he wanted to spite the pope (gentlemen, I don't recommend that next Valentine's Day). Did he love her though? You'll have to read the book!

He tells the story of how a sausage dinner started a reform in Switzerland through Ulrich Zwingli. He tells about the Anabaptists and their reformation. He tells how John Calvin staying one night in Geneva turned out to be the turning point of his ministry. He recounts the stories of the English reformation with Thomas Cranmer and why John Foxe wrote about all those martyred for the gospel. I loved the last couple chapters where he talks about the puritans and even some puritan women who greatly impacted the world.

If you read this book, I promise you will long to read more. It will leave you desirous to learn more of church history. While we might not agree with everything all of these historical figures did or believed, they helped shape much of what we say we believe. Because of that, I want to give this book away.

Here are the rules. You have two ways to be entered. (1) You can comment on the blog. All those who comment will be entered into the drawing. You have until 10am (CST) Friday to comment on the blog. When you comment, you MUST at least leave your first name, or I will not know who you are. (2) You can tweet about the book review (twitter). In your tweet, you must make mention of the blog as well as @thadbergmeier (not because I am stuck on myself, but I won't be able to track it otherwise). The winner will be announced on Friday's blog post. 

This is a really good book, you will enjoy it. So comment or tweet away!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Morning After: Jesus-Centered Gospel

Our ABF has started a series through the book of Colossians that we are calling It's All About Jesus! Our purpose in this series is to realize what life would be like with Jesus in the center of all we do and say. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to turn to Colossians 1:3-8 and see Paul's response to a group of people who embraced the real message of the real Jesus. We looked at a Jesus-Centered Gospel (you can read or listen HERE).

I said yesterday that "A Jesus-Centered Gospel Message is CENTRAL To Living A Jesus-Centered Life!" I mean that. I know for myself, I am constantly going back to hte gospel message and the cross. I know that my natural tendency is to drift away from the gospel and to think at some points that I bring something to the table to offer Jesus. It is these times specifically that I need to be reminded of the cross and the gospel message. I tried to emphasize six points about the gospel yesterday.

1. IT IS RECEIVED BY FAITH (vs. 4a). It is the clear teaching of the Scriptures that the gospel is not something that is worked towards, but that it is received by faith alone in Jesus alone. This faith is not only necessary for the entrance, but also for the entirety of the Christian life. I will only obey Jesus and put Him at the center of my life when I live by faith, trusting Him in all things.

2. IT PRODUCES LOVE (vs. 4b). I have given my life to the service of people through the church. But God knows the truth of how selfish I can be. The gospel message constantly confronts my heart attitudes and tells me to love others like Jesus loved others.

3. IT IS ROOTED IN HOPE (vs. 5). My faith and love are rooted in the fact that I believe my salvation has already bee accomplished and is waiting for me in the future. The gospel says I don't want my "Best Life NOW" but it is reserved in heaven for me in the future.

4. IT ADVANCES EVERYWERE (vs. 6). The gospel will never be bound by geography or political systems. It goes all places and all places it goes, it produces fruit in the changing of people. The gospel is like a good medicine that continues to spread and produces life.

5. IT SPREADS BY PEOPLE (vs. 7-8). Here is the culmination of a Jesus-Centered Gospel Message. I have known this, but it was a helpful reminder. God wants to use ME! As the gospel spreads everywhere, God's plan is that it does so through the lips of individuals like me and you. I love the story of Epaphras. He was so radically changed by the gospel message (most likely when he was saved under the ministry of Paul in Ephesus) that he took the gospel back to his hometown and planted a church. I wonder what I would have done. But the very fact that I am hesitant about whether I would have planted a church in my hometown like Epaphras shows me that the gospel is not as real in my life as it should be.

What I learned was to be faithful in the presentation of this precious truth, that Jesus died on the cross for sins and rose again, and trust God with the fruit. But for sure, I want to be used in this process. So I preach Jesus to friends, to family, to strangers hoping and praying for God to do a work.

6. IT INSPIRES THANKFULNESS (vs. 3). Paul was thankful to God for what God had done in them through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want my life to inspire others to thankfulness because Jesus is at the center of everything I do.

What do you think? Is the gospel important to you? It is what we all need, whether old or young, immature or mature, we need the gospel! I would love to hear what you thought. Feel free to post your comments below. I pray you have a Jesus-Centered, Gospel-Centered Day!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Preparing for Church, part 1

Do you think we should prepare ourselves to go to church? Do you think it will make a difference in how you listen to the preaching of God's Word, how you will minister your spiritual gifts, how you will worship? As many of you know, I have written a book, Helping Johnny Listen, in which I share some biblical thoughts on how you can be the best listener to sermons you can be. Some of you may have read it. And some of you haven't, but that's okay (but I would love for you to read it). 

I wanted to do a series of blog posts reminding us how important it is for us to prepare for church. For this first week, let me reiterate a fictional story of a normal Sunday morning...

Sue woke up to the monotonous sound of her alarm and quickly realized, as she glanced at the clock, that she had snoozed a few too many times. She realized that they were late and were going to struggle to get to church on time. Sue woke Johnny up and told him to get breakfast going for their two children, Sammy (eight-year-old boy) and Allison (six-year-old girl). Johnny incoher¬ently agreed. Sue quickly jumped out of bed and attempted to set a world record in what she knew was impossible: a fast shower. She was rushed, felt overwhelmed, and got out of the shower only to find Johnny still under the covers. “Johnny,” she yelled, “we are late; you said you would get breakfast going.”

He rolled out of bed and said, “I just wanted five more minutes,” which was actually more like fifteen. As he strolled to the kitchen to set the cereal and bowls out, he disgustingly yelled back, “What? Are you telling me that we have no milk?” And then he quickly remembered that he was supposed to pick it up the previous day when he was at the store and had forgotten. “What?” Sue replied. Johnny responded, “How about toasted waffles for breakfast?”

After getting breakfast ready, Johnny set world records getting his shower. Sue stirred the children. It was amazing, she thought, that on days when nothing was going on they were up before the crack of dawn; but when there was school or something to do, it was like trying to wake up the dead. She yelled at them to wake up for the fifth time as Johnny walked out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck all over his face. “I cut myself shaving again because I was rushed,” he muttered.

They finally got the kids up, inhaled some food, and headed out the door to the garage only to realize that Sue had left the family van outside instead of putting it in the garage. “Why didn’t you park it in the garage?” asked Johnny. “I can’t believe you did this. Who is going to start the van now in this torrential rain storm?” Sue said, “I’ll do it.” But then Johnny felt a bit guilty and played the part of the victim, “No, I’m the man. I am supposed to do this.”

The entire ten minutes to church nobody talked; but Sue was thinking of how she let her husband down and her children down and wondered if she would ever be a good wife or mother. She was feeling depressed and sad and hated what she had be¬come. She was feeling a little bitter towards Johnny and the kids because they were making her late to her favorite part of church, the music.

Johnny was quiet as well, drifting between wondering if he could play this victim card (for having to go out in the rain to start the car) long enough to have nothing to do with the fam¬ily after church because his favorite football team was playing their rivals. He was scheming and thinking and couldn’t wait till church was over.

Finally, they arrived, not talking about anything that happened that morning. They rushed their kids to their classes and walked into the worship center (now almost ten minutes late), grabbed seats in the back, sang the remaining couple of songs, and took deep breaths as the pastor got up to preach.

What do the next next fourty-five minutes have in store for Johnny and Sue?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday's Random Thoughts (Aug 20, 2010)

This almost concludes my first week of blogging. I like it more now than I did last week. I want to end most Fridays with what I am going to call "Friday's Random Thoughts." Here are a few thoughts or tidbits of information that are going through my mind today!

1. Let me encourage you to spend some time reading the Bible to your kids today. There can be nothing more important that they will read than that. Don't read books about the Bible to them unless you have read the Bible to them. Don't let them read books about witchcraft, vampires, or werewolves unless you are training them in the truth of God (you may think about leaving those things from them anyways). If you want them to read a romance novel, make it the one about a God that does far-reaching things to save a group of people. Do you believe that the Bible is what God is going to use to change the heart of your child? Then read them the Bible! Paul tells Timothy, "You, however, continue in the things you have learned and ecome convinced of, knowning from whom you hav elearned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salavation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim 3:14-17). Do you really believe that? Then read it with your kids today!

2. Pastor Mark Driscoll has accumulated a list of date night advices for men (and a few for women). Read them HERE, they are interesting. My favorite one is #15, Ladies, sometimes it’s a great gift to go into your husband’s world for a date night by doing something like putting on a jersey going to a game and eating a hot dog. His love language may just be hot dog. Of course, it might say alot that my favorite date night tip is directed at the woman, but my love language might just be hot dog. But not any hot dog, but a ballpark hot dog! As far as the rest goes, good advice, sorry babe, I promise to do better!

3. My little baby girl, Anni (5 years old) decided to make a picture of me on a computer program. Oh, it is a picture of me of what she thought I would have looked like when I was five. Thought you might like to see it! I am pretty sure my hair was like this and I know I sporting the legged pajamas back then!

4. Check out Ligonier Ministries. They have been having $5 Friday specials in their bookstore. There are alot of great deals that you can get each week. This week, I would highly recommend this book. I have heard alot about it and want to pick it up myself. Maybe someday I will do a review of it here!

5. Speaking of Book Reviews, I have said that everytime I do a review and it is a worthwhile book, I will give one away. I was shocked that not many people commented. but I will continue to do it, even if just one or two people comment each week. I am actually contemplating of giving away something every week on this site. You will have to check back next week to see what I will be giving away. As to the winner this week, the book goes to Heather Clabaugh. Congratulations! If you could EMAIL me your contact information, I will make sure you get the book. Thank you for everyone else who commented or tweeted, I appreciate what you had to say.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TAP: Defeating The Sins That Defeat You

This is my first book review on my blog. The reason a person does book reviews is to either warn someone not to read it or to encourage peoeple to read it. Because of that, I have made a decision about the book reviews I do on this blog. I want to really put my money where my mouth is, so for every book that I think is worthwhile, after I review it, I will give one copy away at random. To be entered, simply comment on the review or for my twitter friends, retweet about the review and blog to be entered. The winner will be notified in my next blog (so you will have to come back to see if you won) within two days. Okay? Sound fun? It will begin with this review as I think this book is a worthwhile read for you. So comment or tweet away.

Tap is a recently released book by Yancey Arrington, who is the teaching pastor of Clear Creek Community Church in League City, Texas. Just a couple weeks ago, I saw this book publicized somewhere (I think through a twitter post) and thought it would be interesting to read since I continue to struggle with sin in my life. I am not much into MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), in fact, I am not sure I have ever even watched one event. That doesn’t mean I didn’t appreciate or understand his point as his title and many illustrations are taken from MMA. This is a book about defeating the sins that defeat you. He wants the reader to understand that instead of tapping out to the sin in your life, being defeated, you need to live a life that makes sin tap out of your life—you can be victorious against sin.

I think one of the things that caught my eye about this book is how heavily he said he would rely upon the puritan John Owen, whom he says is your coach throughout the book. He even says at the end that his book is “Owen for those who won’t read Owen” (118). However, he does want you to read Owen’s book called On the Mortification of Sin in Believers which has been recently released by Crossway with some introductory comments by Kelly Kapic & Justin Taylor, retitled: Overcoming Sin and Temptation. Owen is famous for his statement “Be killing sin or it will be killing you,” and it is this thought that is taken throughout the book—we need to be killing sin in our life.

I will say that not much in this book was new to me, but it was a very helpful reminder that sin never takes time off. He says “You must recognize that when you wake up sin is right next to you and has already had its morning jog. Embrace the fact that when you go to bed, sin will be up late in the kitchen planning tomorrow’s attack” (27).

In my estimation, the highlights of the book were Chapter 5: Repenting of Repenting and Chapter 6: Contender Repentance. It was very helpful to think through whether the times that I repent of my sin and then go right back to it was really repentance or whether it was some sort of worldly sorrow over my actions. He says “The act of repenting can itself be sinful when done with a heart seeking only to alleviate personal discomfort at the expense of a real relationship with God” (77).

I did wish he would have been a bit more specific, giving some very practical suggestions for tapping out sin in your life. His conclusion for tapping out sin was first and foremost the gospel! It is “belief before behavior” (98). It was a helpful reminder that when I am tempted, I must reflect back upon the gospel and realize that I am no longer a slave to that sin. I have been set free from it.

Let me end with one great quote towards the end of the book. It involves spiritual disciplines in our life. He says, “If I’m feeling guilty because I missed a ‘Quiet Time’ one morning, then I’ve also missed something else: the very reason I was doing devotional times to begin with! Disciplines, used properly, should confirm in our hearts the wonderful grace we have received in the gift of Jesus Christ” (110).

Fight sin today! Don’t tap out today! Use the gospel as a transformational tool in your life!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Do We Long For Heaven?

I have been fighting a cold for over the last week. It has now settled into a regular cough, the Dr. said that it was some sort of bronchial infection and put me on some steroids & antibiotics to deal with it. The last couple of days have started off okay but by later in the day I start to cough alot and by the time for bed, I am a hacking away. Saturday & Sunday nights, I was able to sleep through it with the help of the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got with a cold medicine--or better known as NyQuil (on a side note, I really like the taste of that stuff...really, really, good!).

But when I take NyQuil, I usually have a hard time getting up the next morning. I mean, it really knocks me out. So last night, I decided not to take any since I had a 6:30 a.m. men's bible study. That decision was not good for me. I couldn't lay down or I just coughed up a storm. When I sat up, I couldn't sleep. I remember being awake at 2:30 a.m. and then remember being awake at 4:30 a.m. Needless to say, it has been a long day today on just two hours of sleep.

As I sat there struggling all night, I had the thought of heaven. I thought I can't wait until I have a glorified body and will not struggle like this. I could relate to Paul when he wrote, "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." He is talking about the creation longing to be redeemed. I sat there wanting heaven. I sat there wanting this sinful life to be over and my body to be made new, so that I would not have to suffer like I was.

Today it hit me: Why does it take a tough day for me to long for heaven? What about longing for heaven because I long for Jesus? I have to say, I have had to spend some time with my savior today because I want to be the person that just does not long for a perfected body, but a perfected body with my Jesus! I want to long for heaven because He is there!

And you? I am not saying that longing for heaven for a new body is a bad motivation, but maybe it is not the best. Anyways, some random thoughts today....

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Morning After: It's All About Jesus

Okay, so this is the first installment of a regular post I will be making on this blog called The Morning After. The purpose of this regular post is to reflect back upon what I was able to teach on Sunday and what I am learning through it. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to start a new series on the book of Colossians in our Foundations ABF which I have called It's All About Jesus.

I have been studying this book for a few months and so I am really excited about teaching what I am learning. I am always amazed when people say that Jesus is not that important or popular. Think about this: more people talk about Him than any other person in history. I never hear people when they are angry saying "Napolean" or "Constantine", but "Jesus" is a popular name to say in disgust. From the time that Jesus was on this earth until today, people have been confused on who He was or what He was doing (or done).

As I begin this series on the book of Colossians, where Paul tries to set forth the truth about Jesus to a confused church, it was good once again to reflect back upon how Paul was changed by Jesus. On that road that led to Damascus, Paul was changed from a person who hated Jesus, despised his followers, and wanted to persecute them. He was changed into the man who loved Jesus, loved his followers, and was persecuted for it. I was never the person that hated Jesus, but I hope I am changing like Paul. I hope I am not the same person I was a year ago.

Paul wrote to a group of people as he described them in Colossians 1:2 as being "saints and faithful brethren" who were "IN CHRIST." This is a term that we often use in our Christianese language. As I studied this, I was impacted on what this means (actually a good introductory to what it means to be centered on Jesus in all things).

First, to be in Christ means my position has changed. When I came to faith in Jesus, I was transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Son (Col 1:13). God looks on me differently now because of Jesus.

Second, to be in Christ means my loyalty has changed. Because my position changed from team darkness to team Jesus, my loyalty changed as well. If I am a member with Christ, then why would I want to try to help the other team win?

Third, to be in Christ means my confidence has changed. I am now convinced that once I have been put on team Jesus, I will never be kicked off. There is nothing that can separte me from Him (Rom 8:38-39)

Fourth, to be in Christ means my relationships have changed. When I became a member of team Jesus, I gained a new family, the church! I cannot say that I love Jesus and not love his followers (1 John 4:20). Now that does not mean that the followers of Jesus are always loveable (more to come on that next week).

Fifth, to be in Christ means my behavior is changing. I have had to think, what would it mean if I was to really live that I am part of team Jesus. It would mean my attitudes, my thoughts, my actions would start to change. That is what I am excited about learning through this book of Colossians. I am very excited about learning to live life as if Jesus is at the center of everything I do.

Are you? I would love to hear your thoughts. If you were not in our ABF, you can listen to it or read my notes HERE.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Changed By The Gospel

I have known for a while this moment would come. My first blog post! For several years, I have wanted to enter the blogosphere. I guess I have been waiting for the right time, which I am convinced now does not exist. I have often told people that you always have time to do what you want to do. So I am making the time to blog.

When I decided to start a blog, I looked long and hard for a name. Some people enjoy calling their blog by their name, which is great for them, but wasn’t for me. I wanted something that would help shape what I write about. I have settled on calling my blog Changed by the Gospel. I chose this name because I am different because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel changes people, among whom I am at the front of the line. If it were not for Jesus and what He did by coming to this earth, dying upon the cross, and resurrecting from the dead, I would not be the person I am today.

After Jesus fulfilled His mission upon this earth, the gospel message spread through cities and countries changing people. Paul, the apostle, who was changed radically by the message of Jesus, emphasized this change when he wrote to the people of Corinth. He told them:

“9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9–11)

I love the beginning of verse 11. Such WERE some of you. The implication is that they are not anymore. They have been changed. They once were horrible sinners, which is why I love the gospel so much. I love the gospel because it tells me that no person is outside the reach of God’s compassion. There is no one that is bad enough. Even the vilest of sinners can be changed and made fit for entrance into the kingdom of God. Jesus did not come to this earth to call the righteous, but He came to call sinners (Mark 2:17). Jesus saves sinful people.

And if it were not for the gospel, my life would probably represent verses 9–10 today. But because of verse 11, I can leave those things. I hope to write more about this change in my life and how the gospel changes people in the future. Christian, where would you be without the gospel? Where would you be without Jesus?

Let me finish by sharing some hopes of my blog. I hope to blog 3–4 times a week, so I hope you stop on by. I hope to have some consistent columns, which will appear weekly. The first one will come on Monday and hopefully every Monday after that. I am calling it The Morning After where I will discuss what I had the privilege of teaching on Sunday—what I learned and how I was changed. I love to read, so I hope to provide many book reviews that might inspire you to read as well. I also hope to have a regular blog post on what I am reading in the Bible and how that is impacting me (and I hope you will share your time in the Word as well).

That’s it. My first blog post. If nobody comes by and reads, that’s okay. At the end of it all, if all this becomes is a place to express my thoughts of how I am being changed by the gospel, then I will be the better person for it.

For Jesus & the Gospel,

Thad Bergmeier