Sunday Worship Service 5 pm

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Are Far Too Easily Displeased


Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14–15)

I am a grumbler by (fallen) nature.

Just this morning a malfunctioning software program required my attention. 
Experience told me the likely course: at least two times on the phone with customer support and at least two glitches in the fixing process. 
Forty-five minutes minimum. 
Probably more. 
(All proved true, by the way.) 
Immediately I resented this time-stealing inconvenience. 
And when my wife called in the middle of dealing with it, out of my mouth came my displeasure.

Life problems don’t get much smaller. 
What is the matter with me?

The matter is that I too easily listen to the lies of my pathologically selfish sin nature, which assumes all of reality should serve its preferences and grumbles against anything that doesn’t. 
The truth is, when I grumble, I have lost touch with reality.

What Grumbling Gauges

Grumbling is a gauge of the human soul. 
It gauges our gaze on grace. 
It tells us that we’re not seeing grace.

Grumbling pours out of our soul whenever we feel like we’re not getting what we deserve. 
Sometimes we’re even crass enough to think, to hell with what we deserve, we’re not getting what we want.

Grumbling is a symptom of a myopic soul. 
Selfishness has caused tunnel vision and has fixated on a craving(s). 
The soul has lost sight of the glory and wonder and splendor and hope that is the reborn, redeemed life and thus it is far too easily displeased. 
Grumbling is evidence of soul-vision impairment.

What Gratitude Gauges

The opposite of grumbling in the soul is gratitude. 
And gratitude also gauges our gaze on grace. 
It tells us that we are seeing grace.

Gratitude pours out of our souls whenever we we’re receiving a gift we know we don’t deserve and we experience a humble happiness. 
And as sinners who have received the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24), we are receiving these gifts all the time.

Gratitude is a symptom of a healthy, expansive soul. 
The gospel of grace has given it panoramic vision, allowing it to see that this grace will be sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) to meet every need (Philippians 4:19) when inconvenience, crisis, weakness, affliction, unexpected demand, suffering, and persecution hit. 

In fact, in all these things this grace will make us “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Accents of Heaven and Hell

Gratitude is the accent of the language of heaven because there everything is undeserved grace. 
No creature that basks in the eternal, deep, powerful, satisfying, overflowing joys of heaven will have merited being there. 
Each will be there solely by the grace of God, which is why we will all sing,

To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever! (Revelation 5:13)

But grumbling is the accent of hell’s language because it’s how a creature’s pride responds to the Creator’s decision to do or allow something that the creature does not desire. 
Grumbling scorns God because it elevates our desires and judgments above his.

That’s why the world is so filled with grumbling. 
It’s ruled by the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and its citizens speak the official language.

Do All Things Without Grumbling

And that’s why Paul tells us to “do all things without grumbling” (Philippians 2:14). 
The children of God should not speak with the accent of hell.

Rather, our speech should always be gracious (Colossians 4:6); it should have the accent of heaven. 
Those who have been forgiven so much (Luke 7:47) and promised so much (2 Peter 1:4) should speak words that are always salted with gratitude (Ephesians 5:20). 
That’s one way we “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). 
Gospel gratitude is a foreign language here. 
We are citizens of a better country (Hebrews 11:16).

Doing all things without grumbling is humanly impossible. 
But thankfully not with God (Mark 10:27). 
What it requires is getting our eyes off ourselves and onto Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and all God promises to be for us in him. 
It requires seeing grace. Being different comes from seeing differently.

Here’s the Bible logic that provides the escape from the temptation to grumble (1 Corinthians 10:13): 
“All things work together for [my] good” (Romans 8:28)
and “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13)
so therefore I can “do all things without grumbling” (Philippians 2:14).

Yes it is hard. 
It’s a fight. 
God told us it would be that way (1 Timothy 6:12). 

But we will grow in the gracious habit of cultivating gratitude through the rigorous exercise of constant practice (Hebrews 5:14) of seeing grace.

Lord, help us speak more in the accent of heaven!

Prone to grumbling, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to scorn the God I love;
Here’s my eye, O take and peel it
Till I see the grace above.

Then “the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart [will] be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Song: Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (David Crowder Band)

Raising Grateful Kids in An Entitled World

By Kristen

When my family moved a few miles away to a smaller town last year, we swapped a huge school district for a smaller, more rural one, a push mower for a broken down riding one that my hubby fixed and city sewage for our very own septic system (just don’t play in the sprinklers). 

And while we are still close to The City (and by city, I mean Target and Chick Fil A), it was time we two-stepped over to the other side–and became a boot-wearing family.

 On the way to the Rodeo a few weeks ago, one of my kids had a nasty, ungrateful outburst and I was half tempted to leave them in tennis shoes (the horror), but grace won out. 

Outfitting our children in cowboy boots was quite a splurge (hubby and I already had some).

After a fun day, we drove home, and this same kid’s ugly attitude showed up again with a bit of entitlement thrown in and it went downhill from there. 

There was dysfunctional family activity (so glad my life isn’t a reality show) and my husband asked for the boots back. 

This sort of broke my country heart, but I knew it was the right thing to do.

We didn’t buy the boots, so we could return them. 

As a matter of fact, my hubby couldn’t find the receipt at first and I bit my nails because THIS PARENTING THING IS SO HARD. 

We wanted our child to share the joy down to their feet, but it was the heart that needed the immediate attention.

The said child cried and begged and promised and fretted. 

And then pulled the grace card: “Why can’t you show me grace?”

I piped up and said, “Buying you the boots in the first place was grace” and then I recounted the earlier behavior.

My husband put the boots back in the box and stuck them on a high shelf in the laundry room and said,”If you want the boots, you’ll have to work for them.” 

He pointed to the huge mulched areas in the front yard and then the back. 

“You have 3 days to pull every weed. I won’t remind you, it’s up to you. It’s your job if you want it. It pays in boots.”

And that was that.

I wanted to high five my man and sob with my child, all at the same time. 

Because, lo, the weeds were many.

Our big yard is muddy and wet and full of weeds and I grimaced at the job, wondering what my child would choose. 

I was a silent cheerleader on their behalf. 

And my heart soared when I heard the front door click and I saw my offspring in old clothes sit down for the long hours ahead.

For the next two days, I watched my child work hard and get hands dirty and heart tender.

When my husband handed back the boots and I heard a true apology on my kid’s lips, I knew we had all won. 

“You earned these. I won’t take them away again.” 

A certain little cowhand is walking high around here and those boots means twice as much this time around. 

Hard work pays off and changes us in the process.

We live in an entitled world and whether we like it or not, children in our culture are consumers. 

It has become a global issue because they are a captive audience and the average kid views up to 40,000 commercials a year and business pour up to 17 billion into that advertising. 

If you still doubt, just walk down the Easter aisles in your local store. 

Because only a consumer-driven society could take a Savior on a cross and turn it into a four aisles at the grocery store.

“Marketers want to accomplish two things with our children:

1. Awaken and amplify their desire to consume.
2. Blur the line between wants and needs.” Source

And this combination is creating a generation of children who aren’t grateful, who expect everything to be handed to them.

They don’t really know how to work and this breeds the greatest enemy of all: 


Just look at what our culture has done with holidays. 

They’ve turned it all into hoopla and not only is it confusing to our kids to live in a world of made-up celebrations, it muddies the waters of the Holy ones and their true intent is lost.

If “true godliness with contentment is great wealth” (1 Timothy 6:6), then discontentment leaves of spiritually bankrupt and completely empty.

Honestly, I don’t blame the kids. 

As parents, we often foster this mentality with our own actions. 

We compare ourselves (and our homes, cars, etc) to what others have, we let media (and ultimately, advertising) influence our home by not limiting screen time and we have a hard time deciphering between needs and wants.

Fighting the entitlement battle  in our home is hard, but here are some things we are doing to try and live counter-culturally in this area:

We are Asking for Hard Work

I think many kids in our culture (my own included) don’t know much about hard work. 

I grew up in a house that worked. 

We cleaned and did yard work every weekend and everyone helped clean up the kitchen every night. 

A few weeks ago, we spent most of the day in the yard. 

And the more my kids complained, the more I realized how much we had neglected giving them hard, dirty work. 

My kids get their own laundry basket and take over washing, folding and putting away their clothes when they turn 8, they take turns helping clean up in the kitchen and their rooms, but it was clear to me that a little hard work was needed. 

I’m excited to say a truckload of dirt and rock are sitting in our driveway right now, waiting a few hard workers. 

Oh parenting, you do come in handy. (Phil 2:14-15)

We aren’t Making Unrealistic Promises

We regularly tell our kids not to expect us to pay for college. 

While we hope to help in some way, we don’t have plans to pay it for their college education in its entirety. 

We expect them to work hard now, focus on their gifted areas, get scholarships, part time jobs, etc, to contribute. 

We try not to make them promises that only enhance the entitlement attitude in our culture or promises we don’t know if we can keep.

We are Sticking to Consequences

If we suggest a consequence, we commit to seeing it thru as often as we can. 

I’ve come up with some stupid consequences in my day and have regretted my rash tongue. 

But something clicks in our kid when they understand we are serious about some things.

We are Limiting Media

Hushing the voices of our culture that is telling our kids all the stuff they need comes in part by tuning it out. 

Media specifically targets our children to want a lot of stuff they don’t need. 

We have a TV and computers and devices, but besides filtering them, we turn them off. 

My kids still complain about it, which reinforces exactly why it’s important.

We are Exposing Them to the World

I’m a firm believer that an entitlement attitude is in direct correlation to perspective. 

When you’re only looking and thinking about yourself, you can only see what you want. 

But when you remove the blinders and see needs around you and in the world, it alters your perspective. 

Exposing our kids to other cultures and how most of the world really lives, stirs up gratitude like nothing else.

We are Extending Grace

Living by a bunch of strict rules and do’s and don’ts isn’t the answer. 

Being flexible with your own rules is not only necessary, it’s healthy for your family. 

And let’s face it, who doesn’t need extra grace? 

We are on the same team.

We are Examples in our Mistakes

Ouch. This is the hardest. 

When I compare and complain, I’m leading by example. 

When I am thankful and gracious, they are watching. 

As I make mistakes, I’m offering them the greatest lesson. 

It’s important to admit when we are wrong and ask for forgiveness when we hurt our kids.

We are Raising them to Be Different 

I Peter 2:11 Our society has low expectations of kids. 

We expect toddlers to get what they want and teens to be rebellious.

Instead of helping our kids fit in every area of their lives (an impossibility, really), we are encouraging them to go against the flow, reminding them we’re supposed to be different than the world.  

They are normal kids and have longings to fit in-we all do. 

We just aren’t going to compromise our beliefs or lives to do so in every circumstance.

We are Relying on God

By far, parenting is the hardest job. 

And honestly, there are so many days, we don’t know what to do. 

Our kids belong to God. 

He loves them more than we do. 

He wants to guide us down the hard roads.

Our family certainly didn’t need new boots, even though we plan to wear them for years to come. 

But walking a mile in them taught us a great lesson in gratitude. 

Some days we feel like we’ve lost the battle against entitlement in our home; we are still in the trenches, trying to figure this all out. 

But as we reflect on Jesus’ sacrifice and turn our attention to The Cross, it’s thankfulness for His sacrifice and our chance at New Life that I want them to grasp the most.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Beware: The Bible Is About to Threaten Your Smartphone Focus

by John Piper


Are apps a threat to God-focus? 

But it works both ways. 
Fight fire with fire.

If you are reading your Bible on your computer or your smartphone or your iPad, the presence of the email app and the news apps and the Facebook app threaten every moment to drag your attention away from the word of God.

Fight that. 
If your finger offends you, cut it off. 
Or use any other virtuous violence (Matthew 11:12) that sets you free to rivet your soul on God.

But don’t take mainly a defensive posture. 
Fight fire with fire.

Why should we think of the Facebook app threatening the Bible app? 
Why not the Bible app threatening the Facebook app, and the email app, and the RSS feeder, and the news?

Resolve that today you will press the Bible app three times during the day. 
No, five times. 
Ten times! 
Maybe you will lose control and become addicted to Bible! 
Again and again get a two-minute dose of life-giving Food. 
Man shall not live by Facebook alone.

I’m serious. 
Never has God’s voice been so easily accessible. 
The ESV app is free. 
And so are lots of others. 
Let the Bible threaten your focus. 

Or better: Let the Bible bring you back to reality over and over during the day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Why We Click Stupid Links

by Tony Reinke


By “stupid links,” I mean hyperlinks on the Web that do nothing but tap our kneejerk curiosity.

They do little for us because they have little to offer. 
We click, we read, we watch, and often we feel dumber for it.

Such clamorous links litter the Internet, offering up celebrity gossip, bizarre crime stories, violent videos, and sexual images — each link asking for little more than a click (such a petty request).

So just how pervasive are these links? 
As I write, the CNN home page features these seven hyperlinked titles as “Top Stories”:

  • Crack-smoking mayor won’t quit
  • Was pushed husband blindfolded?
  • Woman killed in cougar attacks
  • Misquotes fuel Tom Cruise attacks
  • Deer pierced in the face by arrow
  • Guess who’s back in skinny jeans?
  • Do astronauts clean their undies?

Augustine and Idle Curiosities

The magnetic pull we sometimes feel to headlines like these predates the Internet and the evening news. 
It was a concern taken up by church father Augustine, born on November 13, 354 A.D. (more than 1,650 years ago).

Augustine invested a lot of thought in the temptations that clouded and distracted his own heart, and much of his thinking finds its way into his classic of church history, The Confessions.
There he builds off the biblical precedent in 1 John 2:16: “All that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world.”
This phrase, “the desires of the eyes,” Augustine interprets as idle curiosities. And those idle curiosities are not limited to the visual but encompass impulses of all five senses.

Vanity in Many Forms

The allure of the world’s idle curiosities is rooted deep in our ancestry, traced back to the rebellious curiosity of Adam and Eve over one tree in the garden. 

As their fallen children, we’re all hardwired with the same “frivolous, avid curiosity” which often “masquerades as a zeal for knowledge and learning” and “a thirst for firsthand information about everything.”

In Augustine’s day (like ours), such idle curiosity took many forms. 

It included gossip (1 Timothy 5:13). 

It included all forms of magic, astrology, and witchcraft. 

It was behind the vain fascination with signs and wonders (Luke 23:8). 

It was behind the lewd dancing in the theater. 

It was behind the cultural fixation with death, blood, and mangled corpses. 

And it was behind the bloodbath spectacles of animal killings and gladiator combat in the amphitheater.

The ancient Coliseum was a buffet of vain curiosities, all by design.

The public loved to be entertained by the massacres, which the emperors happily funded to boost approval ratings, all heightening into a popular showcase of violence very few pagan philosophers questioned. 

Augustine was a dissenting voice. 

Recognizing that even believers could be caught up in the wild passion of the event, he offered warnings. 

Curious spectators were participants in the evil, he said.

All together, vain curiosities of the fourth century offered themselves non-stop. 

Of his pre-Internet world, wrote Augustine, “the contemptible things that solicit our curiosity every day are past counting.”

The Problem with Idle Rubbish

Returning to our own day, here’s the problem: idle curiosities are miscarried thoughts

Vain curiosities are, by definition, dislocated from God and powerless to point us to Christ. 

They fill our brains and hearts with disruptive temporal trash. 

“When our heart becomes a bin for things like this, stuffed with a load of idle rubbish, our prayers are often interrupted and disturbed by it.”

Worse, these vain hyperlinks gather into a browsing history that can reveal something tragic about the soul’s condition. 

Wallowing in such “poisonous curiosity,” writes Augustine, reflects “the impulses of a soul that is dead, though not dead in such a way as to be motionless. 

It dies by forsaking the fountain of life (Jeremiah 2:13).”

The Takeaway

Nothing trivial escapes God’s attention (Matthew 12:36). 

But is it a sin to enjoy three minutes of YouTube humor or music or the feats of daredevils you clicked on through Twitter? 


Maybe not. 

It depends where those videos lead your thoughts, and what thoughts led you there in the first place.

There’s a vain curiosity attracted to vanity and emptiness, and there’s a sanctified curiosity drawn in all things toward God’s beauty. 

This possibility is presented to us in every hyperlink.

And so Augustine emerges from history to ask us three reflective questions about our browsing history:

  • Am I seeking out hyperlinks that offer me a promising pathway to see more of God’s beauty?
  • Or, are my hyperlink habits unregulated, prompted by some inner whim, and terminating on nothing more than my vain curiosity?
  • Or, most tragic of all, are the hyperlinks I click on really just a series of pintsize, pothole cisterns out of which I hope to slurp up a little gratification for my empty soul?

Much is at stake with mouse or mobile device in hand. 

On this day — Augustine’s birthday — may God give us his spiritual wherewithal to not brush aside such important questions in the seemingly mundane of our daily lives.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God Desires You Far More Than You Desire Him

by Jon Bloom / Desiring God


Christianity is not so much about you desiring God as it is about God desiring you. 

I wonder if you believe that.

We are all about desiring God at Desiring God. 

We believe with all our hearts that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

But the truth is that we will not desire God if we don’t believe that really God desires us. 

If God is a powerful person who in reality cares little or nothing about us, we may have a fear-based respect for him, but we will not love him. 

We will certainly not be satisfied in him. 

We will keep our distance from him and find our true satisfaction elsewhere.

This is, in fact, why many of us feel distant from God. 

We think he’s distant from us, but really we are keeping our distance from him. 

We don’t desire God because we believe things about him that are wrong. 

And because of that we have grown cynical, disillusioned, and have serial spiritual adulterous affairs with idols in our lives.

And if this describes you, you’re listening to what your perception says about God and not what God says about God. 

And what you need right now is to come to terms with the truth that “Jesus Christ desires to be with you a thousand times more than you desire to be with him.” 

He wants you! 

You need to know that the Christian God is a desiring God.

Listen to the message that pastor R W Glenn delivered at our National Conference six weeks ago. 

In this message, he beautifully unpacks this truth from Hosea chapter 7. 

Please listen to it. 

It’s 45 minutes that really may change your life. 

It may help you understand why you struggle so much to desire God and it may open up a new world of worship for you. 

Here’s a taste:

If God says that he wants you (and wants all of you) warts and all, he wants you. 

Everything about you – all the stuff you are ashamed of, all the stuff you hate about yourself, all your failures, all the weaknesses, all your filthiness and all your idolatry, all your unbelief — God wants you still. 

Stop believing yourself and believe him instead. 

He’s got a fix on reality. 

And the reality is that the Lord loves you with all he is.

Jesus so loved you and desired you that while you were still a sinner he died for you (Romans 5:8). 

And if you love him at all it is because he first loved you (1 John 4:19). 

Delve into that glorious mystery! 

Don’t remain distant!

It may be that before you can focus on desiring God, you need to focus on the desiring God. 

When you really know the desiring God, you’ll find him irresistible.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I Married the Wrong Person, Now What?


We  know the divorce rate statistics.  

Marriage is a 50/50 proposition.  
As a caterer and a preacher I probably attend more weddings in a year than anyone attends in a lifetime.  
I can tell you this:  no one looks worried about the divorce rate at a wedding.  
No one.  
Worried about the cake falling over, yes.  
Worried about a wrinkle on a tablecloth, yes.  
Worried about whether or not the mash potatoes on the buffet are good enough, yes.  
But no one is worried about divorce.  
I’ve never seen a bride huddled with her girls stressing over whether or not the groom is the right one.  
I’ve never seen the groom with his boys wistfully looking over the women in the room and wishing one of them was in the white dress instead of his bride.  
But I sure have heard a lot of people saying they married the wrong person a year or two or ten down the road.  
This is supposed to make everything better.  
It is a magic formula pronounced over a struggling marriage.  
It absolves the speaker of guilt.  
It is the equivalent of saying “I’m not really broken.  
I’m marriageable.  
I can do marriage.  
I just needed the right partner and this one isn’t it.”   

This seems to overlook at least one crucial fact: even if you did get the wrong partner for marriage, it was you who chose them – it was your judgment call.
What makes you think your judgment is good enough to go out and find the right partner?  
And, more immediately, if you have such poor judgment about one of the most critical decisions of life, what makes you think you are qualified to judge the true state of your marriage?  
No matter how bad the marriage looks at the moment (and no marriage looks good all the time), it is wise to remember that your discernment got you here, and the worse the marriage looks, the less you should trust your own ability to see it clearly.  
You got fooled.  
Maybe you should take time to figure out how that happened.

Ask yourself if it is possible that the problem is not who you married, but that you don’t understand what marriage is.  
What if marriage doesn’t create your problems but reveals them.  
What if the purpose of marriage is to create a situation where the real fatal flaws in us are exposed so the opportunity exists to get them repaired?

If these things are deep enough there may be no way to get them to the surface other than a committed relationship with another human being who never goes away.  
We all wear a success suit for the world and we hop around in it all the time like rabbits.  
It covers up the things inside we don’t want to show others, the pain, the scars, the shortcomings, the fear.  
Hop, hop, hop.  
But marriage is there all the time, and sooner or later we can’t keep hopping.  
We unzip the suit and let it all out.  
It was always there underneath.  
We didn’t show it to anyone especially not someone we were hoping would marry us.  
Most of us don’t do this on purpose.  
We don’t set out to deceive anyone.  
We may not even realize where those flaws are, their roots and their fruits.

If the Christian story of the world is true, and if the Christian concept of marriage is real, this is precisely how the gospel works its way into us and helps us.  
Marriage is a means through which grace is pushed deeper into our lives than we would on our own.  
Marriage is a means to get at the deep deceptions that dwell in us because of our God-loss.  
And a key component of this view of marriage is that this grace comes to us in any kind of marriage.  
Bad or good.  
Fulfilling or unfulfilling.  
This grace is the realization that Jesus Christ is a spouse that marries the wrong person on purpose.  
He marries people who are not lovely, but he loves them into loveliness.  
Finding out you married the wrong person may be the only way you can figure out how much you need to accept Christ’s marriage proposal to you.

by Ron K. Roberts