The ABCs of REC


So no doubt you get the idea behind the ABCs. The basics. The starting place. The fundamentals. To quote Coach Lombardi of Green Bay Packer’s fame on opening day of summer camp: “Gentleman, this is a football.”

What in the world is REC? Resolving Everyday Conflict.

RECLast Sunday we began a journey at OGC of working through this study by Peacemaker Ministries. It aims to help us navigate the troubled waters of inevitable conflict in relationships in a redemptive way. If you missed session one, you are more than welcome to join us this Sunday at 9:30 AM for part two.

In session one I did my peacemaking version of “this is a football.” I covered the ABCs of REC. Ready?

A – awareness of one’s heart. Two key texts anchored our study. James 4:1-3 gives us this building block of the ABCs.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

To deal with the symptom you have to know the cause. James makes it plain. Passions, cravings, idols of the hearts, often good things that become god things and end up bad things more than not turn disagreements into relational war. So stand guard over your heart from the get go. Be suspicious of your own desires-turned-demands that throw gasoline on the disagreement fire.

B – burdened for others’ interests. Philippians 2:3-4 shape this fundamental.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Paul assumes we will do the self-interest part of the equation. What he pleads is that we will give the same level of concern to what drives others in our conflicts. It’s not an either/or proposition; it’s a both/and one.

C – consumed with Jesus’ mindset. Paul tells the rest of the story in Philippians 2:5-11.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Imagine that. He points us to the gospel – Jesus sacrificially humbled on the cross, then gloriously exalted in the heavens. Jesus sets the pace for us. He puts the bar high by His own example. But that alone will never get us to a place of concerned deferral to others even sacrificially. Please note. A mind like this, one that looks out for interests of others to such a sacrificial degree, is yours in Christ Jesus. That’s what he wrote. It’s our very own possession. Because we are in Christ we have the supernatural strength to elude the grip of selfishness and travel the way of others-interests. That’s terribly good news.

These are the ABCs of REC. How’s your grade lately in the school of conflict resolution? Maybe you could use some remedial tutoring? Hope to see you Sunday.

He Brooks No Rival

I admit it.

Working through this quarter’s edition of Free Grace Broadcaster on the topic of self-denial has left its share of bruises and wounds on my experience.

For example, consider this paragraph from one of the articles by Charles Spurgeon entitled Family or Christ?:

What, then, is the expense [of following Christ]?…The answer is given by our Savior, not by me. I should not have dared to invent such tests as He has ordained. It is for me to be the echo of His voice and no more. What does He say? Why, first, that if you would be His and have His salvation, you must love Him beyond every other person in this world. Is not that the meaning of this expression, “If any man come to me and hate not his father and mother”? Dear names! Dear names! “Father and mother!” Lives there a man with soul so dead that he can pronounce either of these words without emotion, and especially the last— “mother”? Men and brethren, this is a dear and tender name to us, it touches a chord that thrills our being. Yet far more powerful is the name of Savior, the name of Jesus. Less loved must father and mother be than Jesus Christ. The Lord demands precedence also of the best beloved “wife.” Here He touches another set of heartstrings. Dear is that word wife—partner of our being, comfort of our sorrow, delight of our eyes—“wife!” Yet, Wife, thou must not take the chief place, thou must sit at Jesus’ feet, or else thou art an idol; and Jesus will not brook thy rivalry. And “children,” the dear babes that nestle in the bosom, clamber to the knee, and pronounce the parent’s name in accents of music—they must not be our chief love. They must not come in between the Savior and us. Nor for their sakes—to give them pleasure or to promote their worldly advantage—must we grieve our Lord…If they tempt us to evil, they must be treated as if we hated them! Yea, the evil in them must be hated for Christ’s sake. If ye be Christ’s disciples, your Lord must be first, then father, mother, wife, children, brethren, and sisters will follow in due rank and order.

To read the entire article click here.

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I had to laugh out loud when I got copied on an email today from one of our elders to certain brothers in the body that he wanted to challenge to attend Recharge, our retreat coming up on Nov. 18 and 19.

I assume each of you men have signed up for the retreat and are looking forward to a spectacular day and a half together. Please let me know if you have any barriers to joining us that we can help to overcome such as: finances, transportation, work schedule, too long of a honey-do list, can’t find a babysitter, afraid you will be home sick, don’t want to sleep in a strange bed, afraid you will miss your football game, allergic to sand or surf, Saturday is your day to sleep in, think you already know how to make disciples, or quite possibly your wife won’t let you out of the house. We will try to help in any way we can.

That just about covered the list of objections in my mind, except for one. I call it two-men-in-a-bed-phobia. In an attempt to keep costs down and to enable us to fly in our speaker Jonathan Dodson from Austin, Texas, we decided to book four men to a room. That means two guys per queen bed. Now I get it. I don’t relish this prospect myself. I like my space. Sleeping next to some snoring brother with hairy legs just doesn’t sound like my favorite way to spend the night.

I already decided that I would bring my own mat, pillow, and blankie and take a spot on the floor in my room just for my own comfort.

And then today I learned about a couple of brothers that have ruled out coming only because of this arrangement! So I thought, why not make it official and offer one of them my bed to help overcome the objection?

It makes me wonder how many other men out there suffer from the same phobia? Maybe more than we think.

So here’s my challenge. Who else will join me in such an offering? Who will voluntarily give up his space in a bed for the sake of some who struggle with this unfortunate affliction?

The gospel can help you do this! Paul tells us in Phil. 2:5-11 to imitate Jesus in His looking-out-for-the-interest-of-others example based upon His magnificent stoop from heaven to earth to become obedient to the point of death. Let’s defer to one another, serve one another, and stoop for one another from the bed to floor in the name of Christ Jesus, shall we?

If you think the Lord wants you to make such a gesture for the sake of our diseased brethren, please let me know in an email so I can apply this gospel medicine for their healing and relief. Many thanks!

Radical Review

At least twice now I have referenced in a message David Platt’s book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream.

Today I received an email from someone with a link to a Gospel Coalition review of Platt’s book by Kevin DeYoung.

DeYoung expresses some helpful push back to some of the potentially more extreme aspects of Radical or at least they way certain things might be taken along the way by the less mature, more emotionally stirred, less critically insightful reader.

Uniquely it includes a response in turn from Platt, something you don’t see/read every day. It’s worth the read. Here’s a sample from DeYoung’s critique:

We must do more to plant the plea for sacrificial living more solidly in the soil of gospel grace. Several times David talks about the love of Christ as our motivation for radical discipleship or the power of God and the means for radical discipleship. But I didn’t sense the strong call to obedience was slowly marinated in God’s lavish mercy. I wanted to see sanctification more clearly flowing out of justification.

I commend this interchange to the reader as an example of redemptive debate. Would that more of God’s people engaged in this kind of critique/response with such gospel grace. You can read the entire piece here.

In the end result, risks notwithstanding to some of Platt’s bold and passionate pleas, I personally want to embrace the five-fold practical challenge of application with which Platt leaves his readers and pray for a church full of folks who will do the same.

Faith's Ultimate Display (Part One)

Today’s message from John 12:1-11 is now on the web. You can listen to the audio here.

Here’s how I closed:

Because of Mary’s one-of-a-kind act of extravagant devotion, we should believe in Jesus as the Messiah and follow Him with similar commitment.

Make no mistake about it. The choice to believe or not is an intensely personal one and ultimately a sacrificial one, even financially, if money tends to be your idol. Believe in Jesus if you are yet to do so.

And take care in case you are tempted to take comfort in the illusion as a non-believer that at least you have never sold out Jesus like Judas. John MacArthur has an answer for such:

You say, “I never sell Christ. I never betrayed Christ.” Oh yeah, for anybody who doesn’t receive Jesus Christ as Savior, you’re selling Him. Whatever it is that keeps you from inviting Christ into your life is the price that you’re selling Christ for. Some people are selling Christ for money, they want to play around with money, they want to become a financial success and they don’t want Christ horning in on it. Some people are selling Christ for sex, they want to live the kind of immoral life they want to live and so that’s the price they’re selling Christ out for. Some people want to sell Christ out for ambition, others for all kinds of other things, self-glory. Whatever it is that keeps you from receiving Jesus Christ is the price for which you sold Him. It would have been bad enough if Jesus had only been kissed by one Judas, He’s been kissed a thousand-thousand times the same way.

With what kind of kisses are we kissing the cheek of the Lord Jesus?

I Never Made a Sacrifice

Tomorrow we send off one of our own to the challenging mission field of Laos. For Operation World’s description of the needs of this Southeast Asian country click here.

Many of us have been asked to give Julia a card upon which we have written some Scripture or quote or word of encouragement that she might revisit when the need arises in country.

I immediately thought of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-30.

29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

Then I thought of David Livingstone’s powerful reflections on his ministry to Africa based on those verses.

For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. . . . Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view, and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger, now and then, with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.

Julia leaves much behind in the way of family and possessions. She heads for a dangerous land, one of the world’s top ten for persecuting the church of Jesus Christ. Whatever the value of what she leaves behind and whatever awaits here there in the way of challenges and difficulties, Jesus’ promise remains the same – 10,000 % increase. Do the math.

Godspeed daughter of Eve and sister of Christ. We love you and will pray for you.