Lately the Lord has seen fit to slap me around a bit about my lack of attention to the gospel as the main thing in my ministry. Believe me, not even someone as thick-headed as me could miss the many messages from on high.
As a consequence I’ve made it my mission the last couple of months to get my hands on as many reading materials as possible to help recalibrate my pastoral trajectory.
Someone lent me C. J. Mahaney’s little jewel The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing to take on our recent trip to Idaho. Nancy and I read through it for our family worship devotions.
The founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries explains his purpose this way: to restate the obvious, yet oft-neglected, truth of the gospel, to bring it before you one more time (p. 16). Actually he means to bring the reader to the gospel one more time with a view to keeping it everlastingly at the forefront for all time! Mahaney doesn’t say a lot in terms of volume (it’s only 89 pages, small pages at that) but he says an awful lot in those pages just the same.
Candidates for reading included those who often lack joy, aren’t consistently growing in spiritual maturity, their love lacks passion for God, and are always looking for some new technique, some “new truth” or new experience that will pull all the pieces of their faith together.
He tempts the reader right out of the chute with these enticements about learning to live the cross centered life:
- breaking free from joy-robbing, legalistic thinking and living
- leaving behind the crippling effects of guilt and condemnation
- stopping basing your faith on your emotions and circumstances
- growing in gratefulness, joy, and holiness
Particularly helpful was his chapter entitled The Cross Centered Day – Practical Ways to Center Every Day around the Cross. He calls these ways to preach the gospel to yourself on a daily basis. They include
- memorizing the gospel
- praying the gospel
- singing the gospel
- reviewing how the gospel has changed your life
- studying the gospel
Pick up a copy for your own library, read it, and you may end of feeling like Martin Luther who said, I feel as if Jesus had died only yesterday.