Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Gospel at Work

Does the gospel affect every area of your life or only your church life?

That’s the question I believe every Christian should ask. Often the latter, church life, is what most Christians focus on as a life lived for Jesus, where you serve on Sundays and your mid-week small group gathering. Only in the last 2 years, have I really evaluated every area of my life and assessed how the gospel of Jesus Christ should define my approach and how I live in those various environments (parenting, my job, what I consume and why, how I live as a neighbor, etc.).

One of the areas that I believe has changed the most for me is work.  What is my attitude for going to work? How do I share my faith in a work environment in a way that is normal and not attacking? The gospel had to change me first before it changed the answer to those questions. I believe it has not only made me a better employee, but also helped me immensely in sharing my faith as an outflow of my everyday life. As I spoke with a friend this morning, he’s seen a similar thing occur in his own life. When I asked him what had changed in the last year, he articulated it this way:

I just realized the other meaning in that title. I think that’s truly what changed this year. I could see and EXPLAIN how the Gospel was at work in my life…in life in general. It was being able to boldly and openly share how the Gospel shaped every aspect of my life. Why did I serve? Because Christ did. Why do I pursue a relationship with a girl the way I do? Because it’s supposed to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church. It was the Gospel at work that allowed the Gospel being shared at work to be real to people. I’m not really sure I can keep typing this right now cuz it conjures up a lot of intense feelings. But I’m pretty sure that was the difference…that and allowing the Gospel to be my identity. Not a church-going Christian, but a Gospel-believing-and-Gospel-sharing normal guy.

As I read it, I felt like it explained what has happened in me as well. As the gospel begins to be at work in you, it will change the way the gospel is displayed at work through you.

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Filed under Church Life, Lessons in Evangelism, Life, Parenting

Recovering from a Matt Carter kick in the teeth

This past Sunday at the Austin Stone was the conclusion of the Biblical Manhood series at our church. I’ve not met one man who left last Sunday feeling good about themselves and their current state of trying to be a godly man. Well, maybe the single dude who leaves thinking he just has to prepare better for marriage and fatherhood. He probably feels ok.

It felt like a spiritual kick in the teeth. And it was necessary, which is always the worst part. Obviously Matt wasn’t simply trying to guilt me or kick me literally and ultimately it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts of truth, not man’s words. But I needed to be reminded of my role as a husband and father and challenged to fulfill it well.

He was preaching about God’s design of loving and godly male leadership of your wife and kids. He listed the specific challenge laid out to men. The specific passage (Ephesians 5:25-30) reads out like this:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

The passage is crystal clear on the call of the husband to be the primary agent by which God sanctifies (a cool spiritual word for helping her become more like Jesus everyday) his wife. Matt just pointed this out and listed areas where the husband can lovingly lead and sanctify his wife (her prayer life, finances, scripture reading, time spent watching tv & what tv will be watched, etc.). Not as an effort to control or lord over her, but as a way of seeking the best of her.

And then Matt went on to discuss the “simple” task of teaching your children biblical truths. As someone who has struggled in teaching his 3-year old about the bible the God-man Jesus, I find it anything but simple. But Matt Carter wasn’t wrong, the task laid out before me is something I’ve complicated. I assumed that teaching my kids was getting them to sit quiet and listen to me as I expound the magnificent truths of scripture.

But that’s unrealistic. You see my son loves stories, loves to act them out and be a part of the story. Only when we tell and act out the story does he enjoy it and want to do it again…and again…and again…

Not only that, but teaching moments occur all throughout the day and not only when it’s quiet. I need to see those teachable moments to use those object lessons to teach my boys.

After Sunday’s message, I just sat in the bleachers licking my wounds of failure in leading my wife and teaching my kids. But my response to this message is different than it would have been in the past.

In the past I would have heard this message, given myself a long to-do list of things to do and charged after it only to accomplish it for 2 days and then immediately go back to failure because I would try to do it on my own strength. But I’m tired of that cycle, so my recovery this time must be lasting and look different.

So this Sunday I was left with this deep sense of need for Jesus and for God to work to change me from within so that it would naturally flow out of me. With the task listed above of sanctifying my wife and presenting her pure and spotless, I’m insufficient on my own to accomplish it in any measure, but I genuinely believe that if I depend on God, daily in prayer and through studying His word, He can work in me and accomplish it.

So my response is to own my shortcomings and failures, but embrace the gospel so that I am not define by what I lack, but I’m defined by Jesus Christ and His work to forgive my failures and His grace to equip me for future success. I know without a doubt that only by seeking the Lord on a daily and hourly (read: second by second) basis will I ever see my failures become success. And only then will I not boast in “my success” but attribute it to God’s work in me.

I’m anxious for that day.

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Filed under Church Life