Tuesday, July 24, 2012

V. Part 3 - Serve

As we continue our XLM Summer focus on "V" we looked this week serving.  Mike Kiley spoke on the importance serving.  He focused on why we serve as believers in Christ and how to serve - what  serving looks like practically.  He also issued a challenge for this week to serve in a practical, tangible way at least five times.  You can check his message out here:

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rejecting Idols

This Sunday I had the privilege of preaching in our three main CBC services on the topic of idolatry.  We are teaching through the book of 1 Corinthians and this week's passage centered around the idea of idols and how they are inconsistent with our identity as believers.

Idolatry is such a major theme throughout the Old and New Testaments and yet we so often fail to see it in our own lives.  We are filled with idols and we don't even know it.  In this sermon I seek to demonstrate how easily anything in our lives can become idols to us.

Sunday, July 22, 2012 This week at CBC we looked at how to identify the idols in our lives and reject them.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grow Up!

This week at xlm we are focusing on getting into God's Word every day.  A daily time of Bible reading and prayer is one of the basic elements of the Christian life that facilitates growth.

My experience in student ministry has taught me that a lot of students have not made this a part of their daily lives.  I can speak from personal experience that it is really hard to make this a daily habit.

But I am convinced that spiritual growth and maturity cannot happen apart from the Word of God coming alive in someone's life.  This cannot be force-fed or spoon-fed.  People have to want it and it has to come from a love for God and a desire to be more like him.

So my challenge as we begin this week's theme is to take responsibility for your relationship with God and "grow up" by getting into the Word and letting it change you!

What have you experienced with getting into the Word of God daily? 

Monday, July 16, 2012

How To Have A Daily Devotion

Most Christians would agree that spending time daily in Bible reading and prayer is essential to having a vibrant walk with God.  But few make this a consistent practice.  One of the things I hear often is, "The Bible is a big book, I just don't know where to get started or how to do it!" 

I struggled for a long time with making this a consistent practice.  I would hear people talk about having a "quiet time" or a "devotion" and I knew it was something I
should do, but it wasn't something I actually did.  I could list out all the reasons why to do it, but I didn't know a good way to go about it. 

Until I stumbled onto a sermon by Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer in New York, who taught on how to do a devotion.  It was simple, doable and very rewarding.  I have made his method my own and I want to pass it along to you.  There is more than one way to do a devotion, but if you are looking for a way that will work for you here it is:

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Believing You're Forgiven

One of the most difficult aspects of truly understanding the gospel is believing you are forgiven.  Believing that God has completely wiped your slate clean because of Christ's death on the cross to pay for your sin.

This is difficult because we often want to punish ourselves for sins that God has already paid for.  We want to offer "penance" instead of "repentance."  

Penance says, "I must punish myself to make up for my sins."  Or "If I ratchet up my Christian performance it will be enough to cancel out my debt of sin."

Repentance says, "I'm broken over my sin, I'm walking away from it and toward God."

The gospel leads us to repentance, never penance.  Why do we find it hard to forgive ourselves when God has forgiven us?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Jesus Makes Us New

Two of the best theological words we can learn about our faith and what the gospel does in our lives:

1) Propitiation - Jesus has satisfied the wrath of God for us.  "He made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in him."  2 Corinthians 5:21.  Because of this our sins can be forgiven and we can have right-standing before God.  The guilt and shame of our sin was destroyed at the cross.

2) Regeneration - We are made new in Christ.  "If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new."  2 Corinthians 5:17.  God doesn't leave us as we are, he completely remakes us with new passions, new desires, new priorities, new everything.

The beauty of the gospel is that not only did God provide a way for our sins to be forgiven, but he gave us the ability to experience new life in Him.  Do you know him?  Have you placed your faith in Christ so that you can experience new life in him?  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Gospel Vs. Religion

As we're looking this week at knowing the gospel and its implications in our lives it's important to note the difference between the gospel and religion.  I've confused these from time to time in my life.

Religion says, "You'll need to work your way to God."

Gospel says, "You are justified and blameless in Christ."

Religion says, "God finds you tolerable if you perform well today."

Gospel says, "You are loved deeply by God regardless of your performance."

Religion says, "Be a good person and God will be happy with you."

Gospel says, "You can't be good enough.  The only hope you have is Christ in you."

We can so easily believe the lies of religion and neglect the beauty of the gospel.  What other lies does religion tell?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

God Would Love Me More If...

This week our V theme is "know" and we're talking about the importance of knowing the gospel - truly understanding the implications of God's work in our lives.

One of the primary implications of the gospel is that God loves us.  He sacrificially, unconditionally and wholeheartedly loves us.  This love is not merited by our good works or ability to pull ourselves together, it's completely undeserved.

God doesn't look at us through the lens of how well we perform, but through the cross.  If God were to judge us on performance, we'd all be doomed because none of us measure up to his perfect standard.

Do you find yourself trying to earn God's love?

V. Part One - Know

Sunday at xlm we kicked off our series, V (as in the Roman numeral).  In other words, five.  This summer we are looking at five areas of focus that we want to emphasize with our students.  Each week we'll look at one area and they will build on each other each week for five weeks.

This week's topic is "Know."  We want our students to know the gospel.  We want them to know for sure that they are in Christ.  And we want them to contemplate fully the implications of the gospel.

Our summer interns, Grace & Mike, get us started by sharing their stories of how they "know" God has worked in their lives and the gospel is real to their experience: