Changing the Score Card

God continues to bring a phrase to mind through different men, books, and blogs: “Change the score card”.  As a church planter, the
idea of a score card is something a pastor never admits he is always thinking about.  Though no one is really keeping score, pastors can’t help but feel as if there is.  Most days, we feel like we are either winning or losing the “numbers” game.Image
They say numbers are important, but I wonder if we say that to make ourselves feel better.  In truth, numbers don’t tell us everything, but they tell us something.  And that something is often the one thing that has become too important to us.  Pastors know this and, for the most part, they try and fight this.  As much as pastors try to ignore numbers, or pretend like they don’t really matter, they can’t resist the Post Easter blogs and Facebook posts about the number in attendance, the number of baptisms, and the number of volunteers that made it all happen.  Don’t get me wrong, there is much to celebrate and thank God for here.  If I’m honest (which is rare for a pastor when talking about numbers), these numbers make me either prideful or despairing depending on how our church measures up.  Or dare I say, how “I” measure up.
This is all sinful, wrong, and sad, which leads me back to the idea of changing the score card.  If you change the score card then you’ll change not only how you play the game, but how you feel about the game you played.  Without a change in the score card, another’s success (one who plays the same game as you) will always be difficult to celebrate and another’s failure will be too easy to empathize with.  Without a change in the score card, you will constantly turn inward to examine whether if you are doing everything “right”.  You will question your decisions, your systems, your programs, your preaching, everything.  Your pursuit of a higher score will drain you of all your energy as you spend it wondering what you can add, change, or stop.  Invariably, you will begin to believe that the “success” of God’s mission is in your control. Failure mean’s losing.  Losing means disappointing.  Somewhere you failed to see that God’s definition of success was the crucifixion of His Son.
In truth, God’s mission just isn’t as fragile as our faith in Him. There are certainly some things that pastors an influence, but there isn’t much they can control.  This is God’s church, God’s, mission, and God’s ministry.  We have received a ministry from God, meaning, who we have, who we don’t have, what we have, and what we don’t have is in God’s hands.  Numbers are in God’s hands, whether that is attendees, salvation, or baptisms. We water . We fertilize.  We till.  God grows. God builds. God bears fruit.
So what must we focus on?  We must not focus our attention or energy on how to attract more people.  That is not our job.  We cannot control who will come to our church.  But we can control who we send from it.  We must not focus on evangelism but on disciple-making.  We must shepherd the flock that is before us and train them to follow Jesus.  Let us not forget that, by all ministry “measurables” Jesus ministry was a utter failure. But for three years he focused most of his energies on 12 different men.  He knew they would do more.  More than that, he sacrificed all that He had in to ensure they would…in the future.
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The Tomb is still empty | Because He lives, I live.

Jesus’s resurrection ensures our substitution |THE SACRIFICE IS MADEImage
The resurrection of Jesus proves that Jesus was received an acceptable substitutionary sacrifice.  Jesus was the sinless priest who offered the Himself. His sacrifice perfectly represented man and satisfied God.  The resurrection proves that Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law on our behalf.

Jesus’ resurrection ensures our propitiation | THE DEBT IS PAID
The resurrection is God’s receipt that our accounts have been “paid in full”.  The ransom price was not paid to God’s enemy.  The debt was owed to God.  Jesus saves us from God’s wrath by absorbing all of the divine punishment man deserved.  The resurrection proves God’s wrath is forever appeased.

Jesus’ Resurrections ensures our regeneration| THE CURSE IS LIFTED
The resurrection reveals what it looks like to go from death to life.  As a result of man’s sin, God cursed creation.  As a result of God’s curse, everything died.  The resurrection demonstrates God’s intention to lift the curse and “make all things new”, beginning with our life and relationships now. 

Jesus’ resurrection ensures our justification | THE LAW IS FULFILLED
The resurrection declares me innocent.  Guilty of rebellion, the judge has declared has cleared me of all charges.  My slateclean and I am not longer condemned.  The law has no claim on us, we live under grace.

Jesus’ resurrection ensures our imputation | THE HOLINESS IS GIVEN
The resurrection proves I am more than just “not unrighteous.”  Jesus has taken my place and received the penalty I deserved. It is the great exchange—Christ takes my sin on the cross and I receive His sinless-ness through the resurrection.  God sees us as He sees His Son, perfect.

Jesus’ resurrection ensures our sanctification | THE POWER IS HERE
The resurrection means that my savior is alive.  As Paul says in Galatians, “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”  The Spirit of Christ dwells in me, not only giving me the power to resist sin, but helping to transform me into greater Christ-likeness.

Jesus resurrection ensures our restoration | THE HOPE IS REAL
The resurrection gives me hope after death.  More than that, Jesus resurrected body reveals what my own body will look like one day. We will not simply become some weird creatures with wings and a halos.  Those who believe, will be restored to perfect humanness God intended. 

Believing the resurrection changes who I am:  In Christ I am saved, I am forgiven, I am free, I am innocent, I am righteous, I am strong, and I am destined for eternal life and total restoration.  

Living a fearless (resurrected) life

ImageFaith in the resurrection means I serve a living God who wants me to believe, trust, and live without fear. The cross shows that our relationship with the Lord begins with FEAR, but the resurrection shows it ends in love with casts out all fear:

1John 4.15-18 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  

Living the resurrection frees me from fear:

  1. The resurrected life frees me from fear of a meaningless life—I am adopted by the King
  2. The resurrected life frees me from fear of disapproval from others—I am approved by the King.  
  3. The resurrected life frees me from fear of not being happy—I am provided for by the King.
  4. The resurrected life frees me from fear of failure—I am an heir of the King.
  5. The resurrected life frees me from fear of my place in the world—I am an ambassador for the King.
  6. The resurrected life frees me from fear of what I cannot control—I am protected by my King.
  7. The resurrected life frees me from the fear of suffering or dying—I am redeemed by the King.

There is no fear in love.  The question is not WHO is your Jesus, the question is WHERE is your Jesus?  Dying on the cross? Dead in the tomb? Or alive sitting on the throne? 

Taken from Sermon titled: Jesus on Fear | Matthew 6.25-34

Re:Sermon | Fear makes us selfish

Taken from Sermon titled: Jesus on Fear | Matthew 6.25-34Image

Fear is a nasty thing.  Fear doesn’t lead us to God; it leads us away from Him and others.  Fear does not build trust in God, it creates doubt.  Fear does not generate intimacy with God, it fosters mistrust.  Ultimately, fear leads us to sin.  Fear destroys relationships because fear makes unfaithful and unloving.  All of our faith, all of our love, all of our time, all of our money, all of our energy is given to that savior NOT named Jesus. Fear takes us inward until all we think about is ourselves, robbing us of joy, and our family (or friends) of us.

  1. Fear of the future enslaves us to self-preoccupation
  2. Fear of failure enslaves us to self-reliance
  3. Fear of unhappiness enslaves us to self-indulgence
  4. Fear of disapproval enslaves us to self-promotion
  5. Fear of rejection by men enslaves us to self-consciousness
  6. Fear of rejection by God enslaves us to self-righteousness
  7. Fear of suffering/death enslaves us to self-preservation

Fear enslaves us to self.  Driven by a commitment to self, we will do everything we can to avoid punishment (also known as pain). We do not need to live free from total fear as much as it needs to be redirected.  We suffer from misplaced fear.  In other words, we fear the wrong people, things, or circumstances.  The gospel is the only thing that truly frees us to live a life where we are fearlessly loved, and empowered to fearlessly live.

1John 4.15-18 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

Part 2 tomorrow…”What it means to live a fearless (resurrected) life”.

7 Ways the Resurrection Changes Me

  1. Jesus’s resurrection ensures our substitution | THE SACRIFICE IS MADE
    The resurrection of Jesus proves that Jesus was received an acceptable substitutionImageary sacrifice.  Jesus was the sinless priest who offered the Himself. His sacrifice perfectly represented man and satisfied God.  The resurrection proves that Jesus fulfilled all the requirements of God’s law on our behalf.
  1. Jesus’ resurrection ensures our propitiation | THE DEBT IS PAID
    The resurrection is God’s receipt that our accounts have been “paid in full”.  The ransom price was not paid to God’s enemy.  The debt was owed to God.  Jesus saves us from God’s wrath by absorbing all of the divine punishment man deserved.  The resurrection proves God’s wrath is forever appeased.
  1. Jesus’ Resurrections ensures our regeneration| THE CURSE IS LIFTED
    The resurrection reveals what it looks like to go from death to life.  As a result of man’s sin, God cursed creation.  As a result of God’s curse, everything died.  The resurrection demonstrates God’s intention to lift the curse and “make all things new”, beginning with our life and relationships now.
  2. Jesus’ resurrection ensures our justification | THE LAW IF FULFILLED
    The resurrection declares me innocent.  Guilty of rebellion, the judge has declared has cleared me of all charges.  My slate is clean and I am not longer condemned.  The law has no claim on us, we live under grace.
  1. Jesus’ resurrection ensures our imputation | THE HOLINESS IS GIVEN
    The resurrection proves I am more than just “not unrighteous.”  Jesus has taken my place and received the penalty I deserved. It is the great exchange—Christ takes my sin on the cross and I receive His sinless-ness through the resurrection.  God sees us as He sees His Son, perfect.
  1. Jesus’ resurrection ensures our sanctification | THE POWER IS HERE
    The resurrection means that my savior is alive.  As Paul says in Galatians, “it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”  The Spirit of Christ dwells in me, not only giving me the power to resist sin, but helping to transform me into greater Christ-likeness.
  1. Jesus resurrection ensures our restoration | THE HOPE IS REAL
    The resurrection gives me hope after death.  More than that, Jesus resurrected body reveals what my own body will look like one day. We will not simply become some weird creatures with wings and a halos.  Those who believe, will be restored to perfect humanness God intended and live with Him for eternity.

Believing the resurrection changes who I am:  In Christ I am saved, I am forgiven, I am free, I am innocent, I am righteous, I am strong, and I am destined for eternal life and total restoration.  

Re:Sermon | Changing how and what I pray

The following is taken from the sermon on Matthew 6.5-14:  Jesus on God-glorifying PrayerImage

Jesus teaches us that prayer is not a means to manipulate our good God into doing the good things we want.  Prayer is not our chance to vent to God, argue with God, or beg from God.  Prayer is not even about fixing problems, fulfilling needs, or even changing circumstances.  We don’t pray to impress God and be admired.  We don’t pray to control God and be blessed.  Both rob Him of glory. We pray to remember God, forget self, and be a changed in order to give Him more glory.  

Consider the following “revision” of the Lord’s prayer to reflect the heart oriented away from self and toward God:

Father, help me know your Glory

Help me adore your glory

Help me seek your glory

Help me desire your glory

Help me to depend on your glory

Help me to confess my self-glory

Help me to become more glorifying