4 G’s

from Jonathan Dodson, Tim Chester’s 4 G’s:

In You Can Change, Tim Chester helpfully points us to four basic promises. The 4 Gs:

1. God is great – so we don’t have to be in control

2. God is glorious – so we don’t have to fear others

3. God is good – so we don’t have to look elsewhere

4. God is gracious – so we don’t have to prove ourselves

These 4Gs are helpful summaries of God’s various promises, so better yet, find the promises in your Bible that back them up. Find truths to fight lies and start talking back to your idols. Start mortifying your sin! As you do, you’ll find that train of graces that attends God’s promises. You’ll find that God is glorious, good, gracious and great! You’ll find middle-of-the-road repentance.

Go read Jonathan’s full post to find out what he means by “middle-of-the-road repentance.”

coming attractions

courtesy of Jonathan Dodson, I ran across this post by Mark Driscoll and his recent encounter with ABC’s Terry Moran and the Nightline crew.

Sounds interesting. I wonder what the finished product will look like.

I sat down for about 30 minutes with Terry Moran and we talked about how idolatry underlies all sin, how it is rooted on the false promise of happiness, how it ultimately destroys, how it is often the result of turning a good thing into an ultimate thing, and how it shows itself in our culture in how we idolize celebrities, athletes, food, family, sex, money, relationships, and achievement – or rather, what we call American culture.

marriage links

Jonathan Dodson has a great roundup of links to marriage resources. Go check them out.

why obey?

Jonathan Dodson is asking a very good question over at his blog. Actually he is asking two of them.

Why do you obey God?

Why should we obey God?

seven comments over there already. Go give him an answer.

dodson on everyday missionality

Eight everyday ways to be missional by Jonathan Dodson. I really like 3, 4, and 5, but they are all good.

3. Be a Regular. Instead of hopping all over the city for gas, groceries, haircuts, eating out, and coffee, go to the same places. Get to know the staff. Go around the same times. Smile. Ask questions. Be a regular. I have friends at coffeeshops all over the city. I pray for them. They give me free drinks and food. I give them the free gospel of grace. I know a professor that used to wait by his trash can each week for the garbage collector and gave him a drink. Be a Regular.

4. Hobby with Non-Christians. Pick a hobby that you can share with your city, community, town. Get out and rub shoulders doing something you enjoy with others. City League basketball, football, soccer. Local rowing and cycling teams. Teach sewing lessons, piano lessons, violin, guitar, knitting lessons. Be prayerful. Be intentional. Be winsome. Be gracious. Have fun. Be yourself.

5. Talk to Your Co-workers. How hard is that? take your breaks with intentionality. Get a drink with your team after work. Show interest in your co-workers. Pick four and pray for them. Form mom’s groups in your neighborhood, just don’t make them exclusively non-Christian. Schedule play dates with the neighbors’ kids. Be sociable.

yesterday

we went to church at Austin City Life yesterday. About 80-100 of us crowded into the Hideout Theater. Turns out it was the last Sunday in that venue and next week the church will meet at the Parish on 6th Street.

Jonathan Dodson is the founder/pastor of the church. He blogs here and here and he contributes sometimes to the Resurgence blog as well.

The experience was sort of surreal. I live in Austin and I have worked downtown in the city for 13 years. I know and love downtown Austin, but it was weird to be circling virtually empty streets on a Sunday morning with my family to find a parking place. It was weird walking the streets that I am very used to walking, but this time with my Bible in hand and my family in tow.

When we arrived at 10:00 (the scheduled start time) the coffee shop in front of the theater was hopping with folks. We made our way through the crowd and into a very small, very dark theater with very old and closely spaced theater seats. No bulletins, no “hello nice to see you today”, no visitor card, no nothing. Very much unlike any church we have visited this past year. Keep in mind that there are five of us and we are all grown people. We are not inconspicuous.

We sat down and waited. around 10:15 or so the service got underway and every single seat was taken, plus the band on stage (six more folks) plus people standing up lining the entry hall area. The music was very good. The songs were a mixture of the familiar Chris Tomlin and Hillsong and the unfamiliar (I wondered if some of them were original compositions). All of them were extraordinarily doctrinally sound.

At the end of the music, the children and some adults left without any explanation. Their empty seats were filled by the folks standing and Jonathan began to speak.

His text was Colossians 4:2-6. He spoke about the church’s move to a sixth street venue and the need to apply Paul’s teaching to themselves as they move to such a famous address. The message was great. I will have more to say about these verses and others in connection with the recent dust up over Mark Driscoll as exemplified here in this post and the comments thereto.

Jonathan’s message was very good.

As we left, Julie spoke with the parents of one of the 2 year olds she used to care for in preschool. Those conversations with the mother and father were the only two we had with anybody there. No one said hi. No one gave us a card to fill out. No one said glad you came. No one said, hope to see you again next week. No one asked how we happened to show up. It was weird. Not at all churchy. Kind of refreshing in a way. Exactly what you would expect from a downtown church in a larger city filled with mostly very young adults who aren’t really comfortable in their own skin. Exactly what you would expect at a young church where nobody really knows who belongs there and who is visiting.

Anyway, as we were leaving, all three teenagers said they liked it. Julie really enjoyed the music. I really enjoyed the content of the message.

I must confess that I teared up during the message thinking about where I was and the fact that God was doing this work with this message in this location. God is indeed an awesome God. He does what He wants where He wants and how He wants.

Gospel Centered

Dodson posted a bit from Tim Keller’s piece about what it means to be gospel centered. I am reposting that one, plus another one farther down in the article.

I do not simply mean by ‘gospel-centered’ that ministry is to be doctrinally orthodox. Of course it must certainly be that. I am speaking more specifically. (1.) The gospel is “I am accepted through Christ, therefore I obey” while every other religion operates on the principle of “I obey, therefore I am accepted.” (2.) Martin Luther’s fundamental insight was that this latter principle, the principle of ‘religion’ is the deep default mode of the human heart. The heart continues to work in that way even after conversion to Christ. Though we recognize and embrace the principle of the gospel, our hearts will always be trying to return to the mode of self-salvation, which leads to much spiritual deadness, pride and strife, and ministry ineffectiveness. (3.) We must communicate the gospel clearly–not a click toward legalism and not a click toward license. Legalism/moralism is truth without grace (which is not real truth); relativism is grace without truth (which is not real grace). To the degree a ministry fails to do justice to both, it simply loses life-changing power.

…..

So “religion” just drains the spiritual life out of a church. But you can “fall off the horse” on the other side too. You can miss the gospel not only through legalism but through relativism. When God is whoever you want to make him, and right and wrong are whatever you want to make them–you have also drained the spiritual life out of a church. If God is preached as simply a demanding, angry God or if he is preached as simply an all-loving God who never demands anything–in either case the listeners will not be transformed. They may be frightened or inspired or soothed, but they will not have their lives changed at the root, because they are not hearing the gospel. The gospel shows us that God is far more holy and absolute than the moralists’ god, because he could not be satisfied by our moral efforts, even the best! On the other hand the gospel shows us that God is far more loving and gracious than the relativists’ god. They say that God (if he exists) just loves everyone no matter what they do. The true God of the gospel had to suffer and die to save us, while the god of the relativist pays no price to love us.

The gospel produces a unique blend of humility and boldness/joy in the convert. If you preach just a demanding God, the listener will have “low self-esteem”; if you preach just an all-loving God, the listener will have higher self-esteem. But the gospel produces something beyond both of those. The gospel says: I am so lost Jesus had to die to save me. But I am so loved that Jesus was glad to die to save me. That changes the very basis of my identity- -it transforms me from the root.

emphasis added

here is Tim Keller’s part 1. very interesting distinction he makes between unnatural and natural church planting.