Jan 10 2012

“Top 10″ for Passion week 2012

Hey everybody!  Last week was the profound privilege of attending Passion 2012 in Atlanta with four C!C students, my lovely wife Carrie, our newest baby Hannah, some friends from Eagles Landing First Baptist Church, . . . oh, and over 40,000 other people who love Jesus.

It was a wonderfully busy week full of fun, surprises, challenges, and encouragement in our Journey with Christ.  Among the melee of experiences, here’s my “top ten” from the entire week (in no particular order).

10.  Repeatedly getting separated from Carrie/Hannah and thus having to go through security with a diaper bag and no baby . . . oh, the strange looks.

9.  JW Marriot.  Oh, thank you Lord for fancy hotel beds and stellar pillows to help my body recuperate!

8.  New songs.  Singing songs of surrender, freedom and victory alongside tens of thousands of fellow worshippers, led by the likes of Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, David Crowder, Charlie Hall, and more!

7.  Giving in support of ending modern day slavery . . . total money raised was over $3 million!!!  In honour of C!C’s heart on this issue, we wrote the names of everyone we could remember from C!C on a pair of shorts to be a part of the monument for freedom!

6.  Seeing Emily, Andrew, David and Ryan blessed by the great Christian community at the conference and with the ELFBC folks.

5.  Meeting none other than Hank Aaron during our tour of Turner Field.  If you don’t know who Hank Aaron is . . . shame on you — go Google it.

4.  Best of the best:  only at Passion could you listen to Lecrae followed by John Piper.  That’s like awesomeness topped with fantabulastic!

3.  Feeling conviction, courage, and hope for being more purposeful in sharing Jesus with my physical neighbours.

2.  Riding public transit with dozens of pals, including our new friends from Casting Crowns . . . way to go MARTA.

1.  Connecting with the story in 1Samuel 14, and praying that C!C would have the spirit of Jonathan and his armor bearer to go fight even if we’re the only ones . . . then, Lord willing, that our victory would awaken other believers to follow in the battle and that Ottawa would be won for Christ.


Jun 15 2011

Appetites

Here is the “weekly wisdom” article that I wrote for our church e-newsletter this week:

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Lately I’ve been reflecting on the reality of “appetites,” and how natural it is for us to desire the satisfying of our various appetites — food, genuine relationships, sexuality, accomplishment, etc.  I’ve been saddened by the lengths to which we will go to appease our appetites, sometimes spending great time, money, and emotion to satisfy the hunger.  And in the process, too often satisfaction comes at the cost of losing self-control,resulting in (to borrow a term from this past week’s sermon) us sowing to the flesh.  We sometimes end up making choices that could hurt our bodies, our testimony, our relationships with God and with each other.

The sermon this upcoming week is entitled “Healthy Dad/Righteous Dad” and will in part look at the benefits of managing our various appetites . . . a message applicable to everybody.  To “prime the pump” a little, though, I’m including an excerpt from the introduction on John Piper’s book “A Hunger For God.”  Though it is a book on fasting, the bigger picture of “appetites” receives some great treatment.  I pray that the Holy Spirit would cultivate in us all a deep hunger for God . . . the one appetite worthy of giving our all to satisfy.  Be blessed:

Beware of books on fasting. The Bible is very careful to warn us about people who “advocate abstaining from foods, which God created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The apostle Paul asks with dismay, “Why . . . do you submit yourself to decrees, such as ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch’?” (Colossians 2:20-21). He is jealous for the full enjoyment of Christian liberty. Like a great declaration of freedom over every book on fasting flies the banner, “Food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat” (1 Corinthians 8:8).
There once were two men. One said, “I fast twice a week”; the other said, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” Only one went down to his house justified (Luke 18:12-14).

The discipline of self-denial is fraught with dangers — perhaps only surpassed by the dangers of indulgence. These also we are warned about: “All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). What masters us has become our god; and Paul warns us about those “whose god is their appetite” (Philippians 3:19). Appetite dictates the direction of their lives. The stomach is sovereign. This has a religious expression and an irreligious one. Religiously “persons . . . turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jude 4) and tout the slogan, “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food” (1 Corinthians 6:13). Irreligiously, with no pretext of pardoning grace, persons simply yield to “the desires for other things [that] enter in and choke the word” (Mark 4:19).

“Desires for other things” — there’s the enemy. And the only weapon that will triumph is a deeper hunger for God. The weakness of our hunger for God is not because he is unsavory, but because we keep ourselves stuffed with “other things.” Perhaps, then, the denial of our stomach’s appetite for food might express, or even increase, our soul’s appetite for God.

What is at stake here is not just the good of our souls, but also the glory of God. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The fight of faith is a fight to feast on all that God is for us in Christ. What we hunger for most, we worship.

His goodness shines with brightest rays When we delight in all his ways.

His glory overflows its rim

When we are satisfied in him.

His radiance will fill the earth

When people revel in his worth.

The beauty of God’s holy fire

Burns brightest in the heart’s desire.

Between the dangers of self-denial and self-indulgence there
is a path of pleasant pain. It is not the pathological pleasure of a
masochist, but the passion of a lover’s quest: “I have suffered the
loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may
gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).

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Long live the appetite for more of God.  And may we drink long and deep of His Spirit as we “taste and see that the Lord is good.”