Is the Gospel Alive and Well in your Home?

Is the Gospel Alive and Well in your Home?

family gospelIs love demonstrated?

The presence of love is not the same as an absence of conflict. Genuine love will lead to less conflict. But there will always be conflict. How we handle conflicts is a better measure of love. How easily do we get over hurts? Do we hold grudges? Do we quickly confess our sin and ask forgiveness? Is there a growing desire to be a source of joy in the lives of others?

Is the gospel message spoken each day?

Hebrews 3:13 tells us to “encourage one another daily.” Do we remind each other of gospel truths and promises, especially as we delve into the issues that often beset us? Do we share our true condition with one another? If things are always “good”, then we don’t need to hear about Jesus. (Note: We cannot over-emphasize how much email and texting, while not without extraordinary benefits, have eviscerated deeper, more redemptive communication such as I am suggesting).

Is the gospel message read each day?

Regular (if not daily) Bible time as a family is so important. It is not only a blessed experience, it is a stop gap for not speaking the gospel to one another daily in our relationships. We may not be powerful exegetes or eloquent expounders but it doesn’t matter. We have the promise that God’s word is powerful (Isa. 55:11; Heb. 4:12). The power of God’s Word more than makes up for any inadequacies, perceived for real, on our part. But here’s the key. As exciting and as important as the Bible’s facts and stories are, they are in themselves not the main point. The Bible is about Jesus Christ and his redemptive work for us. We are new creations in Christ. This truth and all that it entails is essential to our ongoing transformation. Tragically, we can read and love the Bible, yet, miss its core message as our daily message!

Is the gospel alive in your house? Are your family members growing in their love for Jesus? Love for Jesus is the result of the gospel message taking center stage in your home on a daily basis.

If you think your family could improve in this area, we are here to help! Check out Who Are You?, a great resource to help you apply gospel truths to everyday life as you examine your identity in Christ.

Called to Someone… Everyday

Funny businesswoman with stress isolated. High angle view fish eye like image of stressed young woman in suit, Isolated on white background.

“The Primary purpose of the church, before mission, before healing, before transforming the culture; the first purpose of the church is to give a ravishing vision of who Jesus Christ is and let him draw people to himself. But we are not presenting Jesus Christ, we are presenting mission, or we are presenting transformation, we’re presenting healthy marriage or healthy family. And so, people come for reasons other than Jesus himself…Until we get the Gospel right, we shouldn’t be surprised that young people are walking away…Before we are called to something, before we are called to somewhere, we are called to someone.”

-Skye Jethani, Senior Editor, Leadership Journal

Yes, we need to be called to Jesus; not once, but every day! Whether or not Jethani meant that exactly, I don’t know.  But what does it really mean? let me offer an example.

I had a conversation with one of my children the other day. This child was dealing with an idol of control which evidenced itself in angry, frustrated, fearful behavior. It took 45 minutes of relationship-required conversation to get to the nub of the issue: she needed to see that her happiness in life was not tied to her ability to control a certain situation she was facing. She did not need therapy. She did not need to be at the church building on Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm.

She needed the person of Jesus.

She needed to see that her happiness in life was not tied to her ability to manipulate events to the end of her own liking. She needed to discard the wrong, idolatrous belief that she could achieve happiness by controlling the situation. Rather, she needed to see that even if the situation did not go the way she wanted it to, she could still be happy (i.e. satisfied)–and obey the Lord– simply because Jesus is.

Because she is “in Him” (Col. 3:13); because he himself is her life (John 14:6), because in his presence she can experience pleasures forever (Ps. 16:11) she could in fact be happy and did not need to control the situation. This was my message to her…and she took it to heart.

Our need every day is to see Jesus in all of his glory. We need to become intimately familiar with who we already are in him; and we need to intentionally dwell (2 Cor. 3:18) on Him. By dwelling on Him, we are better-equipped to expose and defeat the idolatrous lies of the Devil. We are also motivated to greater obedience; obedience which glorifies God because it is obedience that is done out of joy in God first and foremost, not duty, or an attempt to gain brownie points with God.

I suggest that this is how we must understand being called to “Someone”. It is a calling that we are to intentionally remind ourselves of every day, and not just once.

A Cure for Pastor Burnout Part 3 of 3

So far in our mini-series we have seen that the cure for pastor burnout is to equip others in the church to do what God says they are already called to do: minister to one another (Eph. 4:15-16; Col 3:16-17). Everyone, not just the pastor, is a minister who is responsible for doing the work of applying the gospel to people’s hearts. We also saw that relationships are a vital context for people to minister this way. Discipleship of this nature necessitates relationship because the truth that we speak to one another is to be integrated into life so that we are transformed and God is glorified (Eph. 4:1, 16-17; Col. 2:6-7).

As equippers, an elder’s commitment to relationships for his own equipping work is essential. I add that a focus of the elder on the head of household (who will take what he learns and apply it in his home) best leverages precious time spent.

Other elders committing to shepherding work is a HUGE cure for pastor burnout.

Today in the third and final installment, I want to address two challenges felt by some elders who seek to follow this shepherd-like approach to equipping. Note that while I am addressing elders, the issues really do apply to all of us in the church!

The first challenge is: “I don’t know how to do it!”
There are two aspects to this that are very closely linked. The first has to do with a feeling of inadequacy in relationships. Deep relationships are not usually high on a man’s priority list! Let’s face it, it’s easier to talk about the NFL than our heart struggles. The second aspect is a lack of confidence in helping people examine their hearts and how to apply the gospel where correction and growth are needed. Consider that this aspect of the challenge is more a reflection of the professional, academic model that prizes forensic skill than it is a reflection of an elder’s ability (1 Tim. 3:2, 5) to apply the precious gospel truths in relationships.

As Collin Marshall reminds us in his book, The Trellis and The Vine“…the effect of tradition and long practice is not always that some terrible error becomes entrenched; more often it is that our focus shifts away from our main task and agenda which is disciple-making.

The elder’s work is hard, but not rocket science. It involves knowing the gospel and being able to apply it to the heart by faith. But it is very difficult to do this at least to any meaningful degree outside the context of relationships.

Jesus’ model as a shepherd helps us understand how elders can do this relational work.
For instance, in John 13 Jesus said that he knew his sheep. So, how hard is it to get to know someone? Isn’t it a matter of simply spending time with them? Isn’t it a matter of taking an interest in them and getting to know who they are? What they like or dislike? What troubles them and what gives them joy? These interests and many others are not too difficult to figure out in a relationship.

This personal knowledge is important because it reflects the heart of the person. To understand the heart is to know the reasons why they do what they do. It’s about helping them discern whether their actions flow from a desire to glorify God through obedience or to glorify self through the worship of an idol. If the motivation is idolatrous, then we need to be able to show how the gospel defeats the idol and re-directs the person back to God’s glory. Helping people become skilled at going through this cycle is the daily, ongoing work of sanctification.

A good place to start doing relationships is by simply selecting four men and committing to have coffee, breakfast or lunch with one person, one day per week for the purpose of getting to know them so as to bless them with the gospel. It may be challenging at first but it works if one chooses to make it work. This leads to the second challenge that I want to address.

A second challenge is: “I don’t have time to do it.”
Time is a real issue especially for those who have unusual job demands. But time duly taken into consideration, this is still an issue of priorities. Is there no time anywhere in the week to reach out to someone in a way like I’ve described? Practical issues aside, this is where our own hearts as elders need to be overcome with the gospel!

The gospel working in us will create a desire to serve others. We serve best not out of duty, but out of an overflow of the love that we have received from Christ. If it’s a priority that God wants, and we ask him to show us how to make it happen, it’s amazing what He can do. Even if an elder is only able to make one or two connections per month, that’s one or two more connections than would have been made otherwise!

It is worth the effort to work at making practical, relational eldership work. Through it people’s lives do change. It allows us elders to give a good answer when God asks us to give an account for the sheep under our care (Heb. 13:17). And it provides a cure for pastor burnout because more people are involved in doing the main work which is the heart work in their relationships.

Family-Integrated Church, an Interview

Examiner’s Shawn Mathis interviews Eric Wallace.

“Shawn, I read your three-part article on FIC [family integrated church, ed.] and I would like to set a time to speak with you. Please understand that I have no pugnacious intentions. I agree wholeheartedly with your concern about FIC. Thank you, Eric Wallace.”

After reading the email on my smartphone between appointments, I wondered if this was the Eric Wallace—the one who “started it all”—that movement in homeschooling circles which denounces the typical youth ministries and Sunday schools.

So, like a moth drawn to the light, I set up my phone interview with him, oblivious to the surprises to come.

Read the full interview here.