A LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL (4)

How the Gospel Stuns Us into Lowliness In this latest series of posts, I've argued from Philippians 2:1-11 that a life worthy of the gospel treasures and fosters unity in Christ's church as a non-negotiable priority. So far we've considered the why and the how of such a life. Lastly, let's examine what unity takes (vv. 5-11). Likely an early hymn of the church, this section of Philippians 2 spans the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus. Zero in on v. 5. Have this mind (there’s that word again—the way we think matters so much in a church desiring ...

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A LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL (3)

Two Ways a Well-Lived Gospel Life Contributes to Church Unity The apostle Paul gets painfully practical in Philippians 2:3-4 in describing how we go hard after the having the same love being in full accord unity of Philippians 2:2. He comes at it from two directions. First, with respect to self, humility (v. 3). This was a tough sell in the day. No Greek viewed positively the word Paul uses in v. 3. It was only ever associated with slaves and lower-class citizens. It was never a compliment to say you were humble. But Christianity turns culture on its ...

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A LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL (2)

Two Reasons Why Church Unity Matters to a Well-Lived Gospel Life In my last post, I argued from the book of Philippians that a life worthy of the gospel treasures and fosters unity in Christ's church as a non-negotiable priority. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul explains three components of this truth: why unity matters, how it works, and what it takes. In this post, I want to suggest two reasons why guarding church unity matters to a well-lived gospel life. Reason number one: Trinitarian realities (v. 1). Paul poses a sequence of conditional “if” statements. He ...

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A LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL

How Treasuring Unity Matters to a Well-Lived Gospel Life I remember the day this headline in the Orlando Sentinel (8.26.15, p. B4) caught my eye: In faith and politics, angry division often eclipses joy and service. Scott Maxwell wrote: When Fred Hawkins Jr. looked out over the Osceola County Commission chambers last week — and saw a room full of religious leaders and activists — he was slightly depressed. That might sound strange for a man such as Hawkins: a devout, conservative Christian who begins each morning with a daily devotion. So please understand ...

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SCREWTAPE’S SCHEME FOR DISUNITY

How Satan Plots Against Church Oneness The apostle Paul advises donning the full armor of God as the only adequate defense against the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:10-12). Satan hates unity in Christ's church. We must not be ignorant of this scheme (2 Cor. 2:5-11)! C. S. Lewis focused on this plot in one of his masterfully imagined correspondences between Uncle Screwtape and demon nephew Wormwood in The Screwtape Letters: I think I warned you before that if your patient can’t be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party ...

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JUST SAY NO TO “E-MAULING”

Three Steps to Avoid Making Conflict Worse by E-mail Jan laughed out loud while texting on her phone. She went to input the word "e-mail" only for her finger to slip from the "i" to the "u." It came out "e-maul." I had to laugh too. Then it hit me. It happens. We get "emauled" by someone upset with us or vice versa. Know what I mean? Not so funny, is it? Criticism, judgment, blame--just to name a few of my favorite things--can come packaged in blistering digital correspondence. The temptation is all too familiar as well. Fire back a well-deserved ...

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A PEACEMAKER’S PRAYER

Ken Sande's Help for Praying Like a Peacemaker Last week I was privileged to reconnect with my good friend and peacemaking mentor, Ken Sande. He spoke for the opening plenary session at a conference hosted by Ambassadors of Reconciliation. RW360, Ken's ministry championing a biblical approach to emotional intelligence, distributed copies of the following: A Peacemaker's Prayer (used by permission).   Oh Lord God, today I am called to be a peacemaker, but I am unfit for the task. By nature I am a peace-faker and a peace-breaker, so I myself need ...

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PEACE IN MARRIAGE

How Two Made One Stay One Jan and I recently observed our first anniversary. We celebrated the many ways God has been good to us—not the least of which is the unity we enjoy as husband and wife. How does a couple made one in marriage stay one over time? Consider these keys for maintaining marital harmony. One, make oneness a priority (Eph. 4:3). Gospel-shaped people do their best to preserve unity in relationships. Before Jan and I make any significant decision, we ask one another how it will impact our relationship’s oneness. We decide together. Two, ...

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THE PEACEMAKING CHURCH

An Update on a Book Long in Coming I submitted to Baker Publishing Group a proposal for writing a book way back at the end of 2014. Much to my delight they accepted and fixed a date for submission. Then the wheels came off with Nancy's cancer fight and my jaw surgeries. My editor graciously granted one delay after another. In September of last year, I finally turned in a draft manuscript. After Baker ran me through the editorial meat grinder (thankfully), I labored over a revision. It passed muster with the publisher in December 2017. Today I learned from ...

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LEADING FROM LOSS

When God Scripts a Different Plan As I suffered through the post-op discomfort of a fifth and final jaw reconstruction surgery in February, it dawned on me. God's designs for my last years as my church's lead pastor differed greatly from my deepest desires. Who longs for a stewardship of loss, suffering, and pain? Nobody in his right mind. Ernie Johnson didn't. A friend of mine sent me his video story suggesting we share a lot in common. He was right. See for yourself. https://youtu.be/osgKi9TLmuI For a more detailed version, watch here. My hope for ...

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