The Unbelieving World

As most of you probably know I've been involved with the ministry of Evangelize Today for the past couple of years. This ministry aims to encourage Christians, especially pastors, to intentionally get involved with unbelievers, listen to them, hear and understand what they are saying, value them as actual people, identify with their hurts and questions, and look for opportunities to share with them the hope and good news of Jesus.  One of the reasons we target pastors is because it is incredibly easy for the average pastor to get so overwhelmed with the responsibilities of leading his flock and doing administrative tasks that he has little time, energy, or even desire to get into the messiness of the world of unbelievers. We know from Scripture and I affirm from my experience that the unbelieving world is very ugly, vulgar, and dishonoring to God. My evangelism trainer is incredibly bold in the mess he willingly ventures into - he speaks at Atheist Society meetings, gets invited to Tattoo conventions, is investigating the cross-dressing community, soon to head to Sturgis, SD for the yearly motorcycle rally, and other such stuff.  (Of course, the scariest group he works with is a bunch of PCA pastors like me!)

So if that world is so ugly and profane, why then would any God-fearing, Bible-believing, holiness-seeking, faithful Christian even want to get involved in it? Well, here's my answer to that ... it is precisely because we DO want to fear God, believe the Bible, seek after holiness, and be faithful to what God has called us to do. We're instructed by Jesus to "make disciples" of all peoples; our desire is to be more like Jesus who said He didn't come for the righteous but rather for the sinner; we even know that sanctification and growth in holiness will absolutely happen as we have greater trust in and reliance upon Jesus while engaging in the front line battle for the souls of men and women. 

There are some amazing theological truths that we have on our side as we engage with unbelievers. We know that every one of them bears the image of God and that image will show itself in various ways if we're patient and observant enough. We know that God's Spirit is continuing to draw sinners to Christ, giving them life, and granting them repentance and faith; thus, we are confident the Lord will continue to grow His church and give her ultimate success in mission and evangelism. We share many of the same hurts, disappointments, questions, fears, and problems with unbelievers; we have the same "back-narrative" - the unbeliever asks, "If your God is so good, why is my life so hard?" while our back-narrative is, "If God is so good, why is my life so hard?" Yes, unbelievers are messy,  but so are we!  Many of the unbelievers I'm encountering are stunned when they discover that my life is also hard, that I have unanswered questions, that I share many of their same fears and hurts, that I'm a real person just like them. I contend most unbelievers are hungry for Christians who are simply real people and honest about life. 

I recently asked an alternative-lifestyle, non church attending bartender what advice she would give for church-going folks like me. Her answer was simple - "Just get out and get to know people." So let me leave you with that same advice. And while my bartender friend's counsel may be given for a different reason, my reason in passing it along is for the sake of growing the Kingdom of God. Let's be intentional in building relationships with unbelievers for the sake of the Gospel ... let's seek ways to present the Gospel in word and deed ... let's not be afraid to get involved in the messiness of the unbelieving world ... let's pray that God would use us in our weakness, fear, inadequacy, and brokenness to build His church. He has used folks such as us for generations past ... He is using folks like us now ... He will use us in the days, weeks, months, and years to come! Believe it. 

Survey Says ...

If you've ever watched Family Feud you're familiar with the phrase, "survey says." The producers of that show survey audiences and rank the answers to some often rather ridiculous questions. So let's play a little "Church Family Feud" for just a minute. Here's the question - "Why are church members attending worship less frequently?"  Unfortunately, I don't have the answers ranked in any particular order, but here are the top 6 answers according to research done by Thom Rainer.  

  1. they are more mobile
  2. they are more affluent
  3. they have more options
  4. they consider church optional
  5. they have not been challenged
  6. they are likely not active in a small group

Obviously some of these answers run together ... the more affluent are much more mobile and have more options of things to do other than attend worship on Sunday mornings. But other answers reflect the condition of the heart ... often the heart of the leadership of the church itself! If a church member hasn't been challenged, considers church involvement to be optional, and isn't active in building relationships and studying God's Word in a small group then it says something fairly negative about the leadership of the church. (Yes, I realize I'm speaking of my own inadequate leadership here.) I suspect few believers would actually say that involvement in the body is optional, but it sure plays out that way in practice doesn't it? And yes, this lack of participation often is a fruit of the lack of personal commitment to the Gospel, but in many ways it also likely reflects the commitment and passion of the church leadership. 

Why am I writing this and pointing out a potential flaw in both the membership and leadership of the church? Refer to #4 above ... "they have not been challenged." Though a blog post such as this can't be considered sufficient to challenge believers in their walk with Christ, it's certainly a part of the process. I certainly need to do a better job of personally challenging the leadership of CPC to be more active and aggressive in ministry. The leaders (elders, deacons, ministry heads, etc.) need to be more active and aggressive in their roles. And all of us must take more seriously the implications of what it means to be identified as a follower of Jesus Christ.

But what's our motivation to do this? What will move us toward greater and more passionate involvement in the body of Christ? It's the Gospel ... the fact that Jesus lived the life we should have lived, that He died the death we should have died, that He rose again from the grave to secure for His people a home in heaven with Him for eternity. It's the amazing truth that though we are far greater sinners than we think we are, we are simultaneously far more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we could ever dare imagine. So perhaps Rainer gathered the answers that people gave, but I think he missed the bottom line answer = we no longer believe the Gospel. Morality, commitment, zeal, programming, dedication, re-dedication, being serious, proper scheduling, being challenged, etc. isn't enough ... Jesus is!

Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 - "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised." This is the Gospel ... this is our motivation ... this is what should propel and motivate and move us to be an active part of His family and regularly worship Him. Have you bathed yourself in the Gospel today?

 

An Unsightly Group

This past Saturday, Anita and I were invited to attend a party here in Moody. It was an outdoor party and it was hot! Everyone there was sweating and trying to find whatever shade was available. But that wasn't the roughest part of the event; you should have seen many of those in attendance. Social skills were largely missing ... few seemed to grasp the concept of good manners ... their clothing was ill-fiting and somewhat out of date ... inappropriate language was commonplace ... there was plenty of food, but much of it in crumbs on people's shirts or smeared on faces because of lack of napkin use ... awkward behavior abounded.

In many ways it was an incredibly uncomfortable event. But in other ways it was a truly beautiful time. We expected all the messy, inappropriate, awkward behavior since the party was the 15th anniversary celebration of the Moody Miracle League. If you're not familiar with the Miracle League you should check it out - www.moodymiracleleague.org.  The Miracle League provides boys and girls of all ages with all sorts of physical and mental handicaps to play baseball in an organized league. Seth plays for the Braves - undefeated for the past 15 years ... but so is every other team! Seth's batting average is 1000 ... but so is every other player's. Every player hits, every player scores, every team wins - it is by far the best sporting event in the area!

This party featured folks in wheelchairs who can't use their legs and arms; those with various forms of mental retardation, Down Syndrome, extreme autism, etc.; boys and girls with Cerebral Palsy, who are blind, had life-changing injuries, have Muscular Dystrophy, born with deformities, etc. The handicaps are serious and many, but all these folks come together to play ball and experience the joy of the sport!

My favorite moment of the Miracle League party was when the DandyLion team arrived all together. Johnny, one of their players, probably around 30 years old, severely mentally retarded, broke away from his group and came to me wanting only a hug. I'd not met Johnny before but we stood there for 5 minutes just hugging each other. His smell, the drool from his mouth, his frequent coughing didn't bother me at all. I could only smile and reflect on the beauty of the moment as I felt his strong embrace and unconditional acceptance of me. I began to hug him a bit harder as I thought about it all.

I wonder what the average Christian expects when he/she attends worship on Sunday. I suspect that most of us don't want to get messy, don't want to get slobbered on, don't want to deal with brokenness, don't want to be troubled by someone else's problems, don't want to see any inappropriate behavior, don't want to feel awkward, etc. But the reality is that everyone in church will have a handicap far more serious than anything seen at a Miracle League game. Our handicap is the sin that resides in our heart ... and it's ugly, messy, offensive, inappropriate, and gross. Sometimes that sin even spills out, becomes visible, and makes us all very uncomfortable.  But where else should sinners be other than meeting with other sinners in the family of God, each pleading our need of forgiveness and grace, and clinging to the cross of Jesus as our only hope? We have something far more significant than baseball to bring us together ... we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ! 

So this Sunday come expecting to meet a "Johnny" and to get a little messy ... and don't be afraid to be "Johnny" either! Let's come with our mess, our lack of spiritual tidiness, our brokenness, and embrace one another in Christ!

Thank You Students!

I’m writing this during the midst of CPC’s annual youth beach retreat at Laguna Beach Christian Retreat in Panama City, FL.  And though the trip isn’t over, I must say these guys and girls have, and are, teaching me a valuable lesson … one I hope the Lord works into my own thoughts, words, and actions … and also our entire church family.

 

As I said, this is a beach retreat … the idea is to come away to the beach – sun, sand, water, fun! But as we loaded up the vehicles on Monday morning to leave, we knew good and well we were heading straight into a tropical storm. Yet I heard no moaning, groaning, complaining, or wavering of commitment to go … so off we went. And sure enough, we’ve encountered a good bit of rain thus far (though God has graciously spared us from anything too heavy or constant). But it has most definitely hindered everyone’s freedom and ability to go to the beach. Yet here again, I’ve not heard voices of complaint or discontent though it’s certainly not the “fun in the sun” type weather one would hope for on such a retreat. Consider the fact we have over 70 folks on this trip … lots of opportunity for trouble, mischief, or problems. So far, nothing even close to any of that. And in this large group we have 4 churches participating, plus a good handful of guests who attend even other churches. In addition to all this, we have a very diverse group in age, ethnicity, geography, and interests. Lots of potential in all this to find cliques, division, selfishness, and disunity. We have some very athletic kids and some who have severe physical limitations … some are extroverts and some are introverts … some are Biblically/theologically articulate and some are definitely not. But I have been amazed so far at how well all these students are getting along, welcoming one another, encouraging one another, helping one another, and becoming as one large group. I know the cause of all this is the grace of God, working in the hearts of these students. But I also know He uses certain means to accomplish His purposes and in this situation I’m seeing Him use Stokes to help bring this crazy group together.

This is a picture of what the church ought to be … of how I ought to be as a member of the Lord’s church. Diversity is a good thing. Diversity of ages, ethnicities, gifts, interests, preferences, styles, and knowledge is to be expected, welcomed, and enjoyed. And though we would all love for the “weather” of the church to be “sunny and warm,” it’s often not … in fact, it’s sometimes pretty stormy. There are times when the winds and rains of adversity come and we’re called to endure it together. When circumstances don’t match what we expect or what we “signed up for,” still we’re to press on without complaining or grumbling. Again, this group is teaching me something about the beauty of the body of Christ, what it is supposed to look like, and how it is supposed to function.

Yes, I know the week isn’t over and there is still plenty of time for trouble. But what else is new? This wouldn’t be the first time I would witness Christians acting out of accord with who they are in Christ. But right now I’m rejoicing in what I’m witnessing and I’m asking God to allow this to carry over into my own life and into the life of the entire CPC family. Would you join me in asking God to work His amazing grace in us and allow us to live with one another in a manner that is in keeping with the Gospel? And pray for Stokes and the rest of this group for the remainder of our retreat.

 

My Cat ... My Mentor

Every morning there's a ritual at the Boykin home ... the feeding of the cats! Most every time I walk out the door, Tobias and Sagwa are there to greet me and demand that I meet their needs before pursuing my own agenda for the day. Though they are brother and sister and are both really sweet, they are very different. Though they both remind me of their presence and neediness, their need and desire isn't exactly the same. Tobias, the brother, gives me this passionate meow and eagerly anticipates me dumping some food in his bowl. Sagwa, the sister and runt of the litter, also expresses passion and right behind her brother leaps up onto the table where I put their food. But while Tobias eagerly digs in to his food as if he hasn't eaten in a week (even though his chubby physique betrays this display of hunger), Sagwa watches me dump her food in her bowl but longingly looks at me and gently expresses her desire to be petted, stroked, scratched, and talked to. Then, finally, after I show her attention and affection, she begins to eat. 

Though in functional terms I'm more like Tobias, I long to be like Sagwa. When I wake up each day I'm typically not looking for attention or affection, but rather I'm more concerned with mere physical needs such as food, shower, and clothing. I wish I would wake up each day and long for, cry out for, even demand attention and affection from my Heavenly Father who has redeemed me, who is present with me, who has promised to care for me, who gives me my daily bread, who meets all my needs, who is in covenant with me.

I said when I started our current sermon series on prayer that it is primarily for my own benefit. Yet I trust all of us will grow in intimacy with our Father and rise up each and every day longing and crying out for His mercy and grace and affection. May God grant us the grace to be people who daily feast in His Word, finding assurance of His grace and love, and engage in intimate conversation with Him in prayer. 

Most Effective Preachers

A couple of weeks ago, Truett Seminary at Baylor University identified the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world. The criteria for ranking these preachers involved exegetical and oratory skills, whether or not they were "relevant" to contemporary culture, theological orthodoxy, and personal life. I was eager to look over this list, primarily to see if perhaps I made it, but also out of curiosity to see who else might be included.

To my shock and dismay, I was NOT recognized as one of a dozen most effective preachers. But here's who made it: Dr. Alistair Begg, Dr. Tony Evans, Dr. Joel C. Gregory, Dr. Timothy Keller, Dr. Thomas G. Long, Dr. Otis Moss III, Dr. John Piper, the late Dr. Haddon Robinson, Andy Stanley, Dr. Charles Swindoll, Dr. Barbara Brown Taylor, Dr. Ralph Douglas West. 

Not only was I not included on the list, I was not even consulted as to who I thought should be on the list ... I've been doubly insulted and wounded. There are some on this list who I might possibly consider, but in reality I suspect the truly most effective preachers in the English-speaking world would be names none of us have ever heard.  I'm pretty sure that man who labors in the tiny church in rural South Dakota yet faithfully each week encourages his congregation in the gospel would be on my list. As would the pastor in the Florida retirement community who weekly gives Gospel comfort to grieving family members who've lost a loved one or friend. I'd likely include the military chaplain who preaches Christ to those service men and women in the Middle East who don't know if they'll live to see another day. I'd definitely include the college campus pastor who weekly proclaims the Gospel to students wrestling with intellectual, sexual, moral, and relational problems. That retired pastor who is willing to donate his time and energy to that little church who simply can't afford a paid preacher would make my list. I'd include that preacher who is faithfully proclaiming the historic and orthodox Gospel in a denomination that has slid far into theological liberalism. Surely the pastor who week in and week out expounds the covenant faithfulness, grace, and love of God to His people, despite the fact that his wife died of cancer 5 years ago and he's left raising 4 young children by himself would make my list. And that Gospel preaching pastor who stayed with his congregation for many years even though the neighborhood has gone through substantial ethnic, social, and economic change is on it. And that preacher who was parachuted into a pagan community, who constantly proclaims grace, yet hasn't seen a conversion in the past 4 years since he started is making my list. I could not leave out the preacher who went over and washed a church member's car so she would have a clean car to ride home in after a month-long stay in the hospital. 

There are many others who I would add to my list of "most effective" but likely none of them would be names any of us would know. They've not written or published books, their sermons are not available online, they won't be featured speakers at the next conference we attend, we wouldn't even recognize them if we sat beside them on a bus. But these are the ones I consider to be the most effective preachers. Sure, there's a part of me that would like to be known as a fine orator, exegete, theologian, and relevant ... and all that is very important and not to be ignored. But at the end of the day I think I'd rather be known as one who washes feet. 

Background Noise

Often times when we’re trying really hard to give our attention to something we get distracted by some sort of background noise. It could be people talking, dogs barking, machinery operating, TV or music, traffic sounds, etc. Maybe we just try to tune it out or put in ear plugs ... but background noise makes it hard to concentrate.

There’s another kind of background noise we have to deal with when we want to spend time in prayer. It may be anxiety about finances, fear of the unknown, obsession with an idol, pride of an accomplishment, curiosity about what others are thinking, the day’s agenda and to-do list, what you’re planning for supper, coveting what someone else has, or a host of other such things. Far too often when I try to spend time in prayer my mind gets sidetracked; something rattling around in my mind grabs my attention and my prayer time is derailed. I suspect I’m not alone in this experience. Most all of us struggle with this. 

The question is, “how should we deal with it?” Though I hope you continue reading, I also hope you don’t expect a perfect answer to that question. The wrong way to deal with it is to feel guilty, wallow in self-condemnation, and stop praying. We must press on!  Finding a quiet place surely helps … but every mom and dad with kids realizes that’s not gonna happen. Devoting a specific and regular time each day also would help … but most of us are already too busy to cram something else into the daily routine. Having someone to meet with and hold you accountable would also be good … but finding that person is much easier said than done. So we’re back to the question of how to deal with this background noise. 

I was very serious this past Sunday when I said I struggle in my prayer life and this background noise is largely to blame. I’ve not yet learned sufficiently to quiet my heart and be still before the Lord. However, I have found a few simple things that help me a bit in this area. First, keep an open Bible in front of me. Listening to God from the Scripture helps focus my mind on Him rather than the myriad of distractions. Secondly, following the advice of Job (Job 40:4), “I lay my hand on my mouth” and don't even try to say or express anything to God for few moments. It’s beneficial to just pause and reflect on who God is for a bit. Thirdly, I find that literally closing my eyes helps. Maybe the old adage has an element of truth even here – “out of sight, out of mind.” Fourthly, I just start sharing what’s on my heart. If my intent was to pray for an upcoming event but instead start thinking about a friend, I trust the Spirit was somehow involved and go with it. Sometimes I’ll even remember to pray for what I originally intended to pray for … sometimes I don’t … but again, I believe the Spirit is working in and through all this to accomplish His purposes. Yet still I often continue to hear the distracting background noise of worry, fear, agendas, anger, pride, greed, etc. 

Maybe the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I need to expect the background noise and not feel guilty every time it distracts me. I pray (now, while the noise isn’t so loud) that you will find sufficient grace from our Father to allow you to build a healthy prayer life, despite the abundance of background noise with which we all struggle. Let's press forward together in this battle. Let me know how it goes for you!

Let's Do It Again

I hope you were able to participate in this past Sunday's joint worship service with First Missionary Baptist of Moody at the Moody Civic Center.  It was a beautiful time to see God's amazing grace on display as the Gospel brought together believers from different backgrounds and ethnicities into one body to offer praise and adoration to our Savior Jesus Christ. There were some glitches to be sure ... we started a little late and ran a little long, children's ministry space wasn't ideal, and the sound system was almost impossible to balance. But overall it was a wonderful time of worship and fellowship in the power of the Gospel. And I surely appreciated the message from Pastor Curtis, reminding us that the promise of "I can do all things through Christ" refers primarily to the weak and to those in suffering and despair. Indeed, it is the power of Christ that allows brothers and sisters of different ethnicities to worship together in unity.

The overwhelming majority of comments I've heard following this service would clearly fall under the category of "let's do it again." Not that anyone is looking to merge the two churches into one, but there seems to be a clear mandate that we continue the practice of worshiping and fellowshipping together on occasion. 

My oldest son, Dane, who knows more about and has been more involved in racial reconciliation than I'll ever be, gave me some great advice to share with others when they say "let's do it again." Dane suggested my response should go like this: "Yes, let's do it more often. Actually, let's do it every day." I know Dane's heart and what he was trying to tell me ... that unity in the Gospel between believers of different backgrounds and ethnicities isn't something we should just practice and enjoy occasionally, but rather it should be a lifestyle; that we shouldn't just wait for the church to officially schedule and program such Gospel unity, but rather pursue it ourselves on a daily basis. 

Dane's words to me were both encouraging and convicting. He called me because he was genuinely interested in knowing how the service went and was truly excited to hear that everyone seemed to enjoy it. He rejoiced with me in knowing that God's grace was poured out in abundance. But even without him necessarily intending it, his words penetrated my prideful heart and exposed my own sin and hypocrisy. Here's how ... so many people have thanked me for planning and carrying out this service and I've allowed it to go to my head. I started to feel pretty good about myself,  about this wonderful deed I had done, and what a model I must be to so many other pastors who only talk about doing such things. But my son's words made me realize that it's not fundamentally the "big events" that ultimately matter, but rather the daily grind of obedience, of loving my neighbor as Christ has loved me, of intentionally looking to the Gospel to overcome relational barriers ... not just across racial lines, but in any relationship. To be honest, I've not been a good model of daily obedience in this area. I need to repent of my failure and self-righteousness. 

So for all who have thought, "let's do it again," I assure you that we will again have a joint service with First Missionary Baptist of Moody. But we must also take Dane's advice and "let's do it every day" in our workplace, neighborhood, school, marketplace, ball field, etc. The glory of Christ, the unity of the church, and the power of the Gospel is too big and beautiful to ignore. 

It's the Little Sins

It happens literally every time I eat solid food. There’s this place between two teeth on the upper back left side of my mouth where food inevitably gets stuck. It’s a relatively small space but it’s just big enough to allow tiny pieces of food to lodge there. And, as I said, food WILL get in there every time I eat. Surely you can relate to this. Most all of us have some place like that in our mouth. And, if you’re like me, it’s really irritating. Though it never helps, I try and try to work my tongue around there to hopefully dislodge some of the food. On occasion I’ll push my finger up there, somehow under the impression that this time my finger will fit in this small space between those teeth. Unfortunately, these efforts are fruitless, and I just get used to the food stuck in there and go about my day. After a while, I become rather numb to the discomfort and don’t even think about it until the evening when I’m at home and brushing my teeth.

Unless, of course, I happen to have some dental floss which comes as a gift from God Himself. What a relief it is to pull off a strand of that magical cord, work it between the teeth involved in the situation, and once again enjoy life as it was meant to be. Sweet freedom!

As I was going through this very ritual this morning I had been reading and praying about my sin. It struck me that my real problem isn’t the “big sins” that we label as wicked and destructive, but rather the little sins, those that can and will inevitably get stuck in the hidden places of my heart. These are the ones, that if undetected and not dealt with, will slowly but surely bring decay and rot to my heart. And in a parallel fashion, I repeatedly and fruitlessly attempt to dislodge these little sins by my own doing. But nothing I do seems to help until I realize that it takes something external to resolve the problem. This external something is the Cross, the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. And just as surely as that sin gets stuck in my heart, the cleansing blood of Christ brings sweet relief and freedom and forgiveness and life!

My problem, and likely yours too, is that I often forget to apply the work of Christ to these little sins. I know He died for the big ones, but I seldom really struggle with those. In fact, I’ve become somewhat numb and accustomed to those little sins lodged in the crevices of my heart and I just go about my day in ignorance. You know the sins I’m talking about … anxiety, frustration, discontentment, thanklessness, pride, selfishness, lack of self-control, impatience, anger, judgmentalism, lust, gossip, jealousy, worldliness, etc. These sins almost have an air of respectability in the church, especially compared with such wicked behaviors as adultery, murder, stealing, etc.

Today will you join me in taking the “floss” of the person and work of Jesus Christ and working this grace deep down into even the hidden places in your heart? Let’s stop pretending we’re good because we seldom struggle with those big sins … let’s acknowledge it’s the little sins that are bringing decay and rot to our hearts, marriages, families, friendships, and lives.

Unappreciated Treasure

This weekend is a huge weekend for the Birmingham area … it’s  time for the Honda Indy Car Grand Prix of Alabama out at Barber Motorsports Park right next to Leeds & Moody. This is a world class event at a world class facility and it’s right in our back yard. Maybe you’re not an Indy Car fan, maybe not any sort of race fan at all, but simply visiting the Barber Motorsports Park and Vintage Motorcycle Museum is an incredible experience. The museum is identified as the world’s largest motorcycle museum and annually hosts thousands of visitors from around the world. The entire grounds of this park resemble a botanical garden and every area down to the grass parking lots is immaculately manicured. And then, of course, are the Indy Cars … each one costing around $3,000,000.  These open wheel race cars offer spectacular entertainment as they speed around the 2.3 mile, 16 turn course averaging 110-115 mph. Race fan or not, this event offers some intense competition as the drivers maneuver for position around the corners and speed down the straightaways.

In many ways this event and venue is grossly undervalued and under appreciated, especially by those of us who live so nearby. Every year I speak to folks visiting from other parts of the country who marvel at the beauty of the park, stating that it’s perhaps the most beautiful racetrack they’ve ever seen. When I tell them I live only a few miles away they say how fortunate I am.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is also grossly undervalued and under appreciated, especially by those of us who are so close to it. Many of us who have grown up in churches, who have multiple Bibles in our homes/car/workplaces, who have heard the Bible stories, who claim to be so familiar with it … we’re the ones who seem to be so nonchalant about the beauty and majesty of the Gospel. Have we gotten bored with it? Is the Gospel less than what we thought it would be? Does Jesus really not measure up to our standards? Is there something else we truly believe is more attractive? Are we just under the illusion that we’re already familiar enough with it?

Why does the Gospel not amaze us anymore? I tend to think it’s because deep down we’re very self-righteous people. We don’t want to be continually reminded of the hideous, filthy, rebellious, wicked nature of our sin and the Gospel exposes our sin in this way. We much prefer to think of ourselves as good people, deserving God’s love and favor. Grace implies we can’t even remotely make ourselves acceptable to God and that He alone must do the work of making us holy and righteous.  And He absolutely and completely does this for us in the person and work of Jesus Christ ... His life, death, and resurrection.

So this weekend go out to Barber Motorsports Park and enjoy a world class event at a world class facility. But even more importantly, there’s a world class event of eternal and infinite significance taking place at Community Presbyterian Church each and every Sunday. Be amazed and captivated by the grace of our God expressed to us in Jesus Christ. In fact, marvel at the Gospel even today!