Key Life https://www.keylife.org God's Not Mad at You Mon, 10 Aug 2020 18:57:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Key Life Key Life podcasts@keylife.org podcasts@keylife.org (Key Life) God's Not Mad at You Key Life https://www.keylife.org/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg https://www.keylife.org Maitland, FL Weekdays Getting It Right By Doing It Wrong | Key Takeaways https://www.keylife.org/articles/getting-it-right-by-doing-it-wrong-key-takeaways/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=getting-it-right-by-doing-it-wrong-key-takeaways Fri, 14 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26186 Did you think 'the rules' would make you perfect, only to get beat down instead? Discover why in this eye-opening short video.

The post Getting It Right By Doing It Wrong | Key Takeaways appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Did you think ‘the rules’ would make you perfect, only to get beat down instead? Discover why in this eye-opening sermon based on Ephesians 3 and Mark 14. Watch the full sermon here.

The post Getting It Right By Doing It Wrong | Key Takeaways appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Finding Our Way Home https://www.keylife.org/articles/finding-our-way-home/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=finding-our-way-home Thu, 13 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26162 This simple call of God to return, then, is a prophecy. It’s a glimpse of hope that one day God will say, “Arise from your graves, my people!"

The post Finding Our Way Home appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
It either takes me off the beaten path, away from any type of civilization for miles because it’s supposed to be faster (?), or it flat out delivers the wrong directions. In those moments I feel a flood of emotions — a mix between excitement, weariness, and frustration . . . wondering why something so simple can be so complicated. When we read the Bible, it invites us into this same kind of tension: a distant call to come home, a “GPS”-type problem presenting itself, but then a glimmer of hope on the horizon, a type of hope that travels towards us rather than guides us.

We see this portrayed well in the book of Zechariah, one of the prophets who prophesied during Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity hundreds of years before Christ. The first six verses read like this:

In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo: “The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty. Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the Lord. Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors? (Zechariah 1:1-6)

What exactly are we returning to?

The prophets help us see how physical types or events in the Old Testament are shadows, not realities. The “return motif,” then, isn’t simply about returning to the land, but to God himself. See how God says through Zechariah as they’re returning, “Return to me!” It’s not enough that they returned to the land, they needed to return to the one the land symbolized, namely God himself. God, essentially, is the land. The land is — symbolically — God, which would then make Babylon a picture (or shadow) of sin and exile.

It’s as if God is saying here, “Enough with the land! I’m not concerned about it anymore! I never really was. What I truly desire is for sinners to return to me.” — maybe in the spirit of how Jesus says, “God desires mercy, not sacrifice.” The shadows are fading in the prophets, and it’s becoming more clear that Israel’s physical experiences were typical of the world’s spiritual state and a foretaste of future deliverance.

We shouldn’t be surprised then when we see Jesus not only talk about the kingdom of God being like a son returning to his father (Luke 15:11-32), but also about himself in land-terms like “share” or “portion” (words used for land allotment in the Old Testament). Even more, the gospel is called an “inheritance,” like the land was to Israel. This simple call of God to return, then, is a prophecy. It’s a glimpse of hope that one day God will say, “Arise from your graves, my people! Come out of the Babylon of sin and death and come share in the true land of blessing, which is my very own presence. I can’t wait to see you.”

The treacherous, impassable road of the law

Before we get home, though, there’s another important message that God wants us to understand, and that is: we can’t truly get home on our own. God says through Zechariah, “Do not be like your ancestors who would not listen to me. My words and decrees overtook them. Turn from your evil practices.” A cursory reading of Zechariah’s context and a broad survey of Old Testament history tells us that this generation of Israelites was no better than the others. We see in Ezra that they break the law immediately after their return and in Zechariah they require washing. The simple invitation to return to God is fraught with difficulty, as if we were running home but then needed to complete the world’s most difficult American Ninja obstacle course, while getting chased down by actual ninjas in the process. In this case, the obstacle course and the ninjas chasing us represent the law. The law “overtakes” us. It condemns us in our inability to keep it. And it further threatens exile from God, even on our best days.

This is where our emotions run wild, right? We hear: “God is speaking to us, inviting us to return!” And yet we’re asked to watch reruns of how every single human being before us has failed the test. Excitement, yet depression . . . feelings like the temple itself would have elicited: God is drawing near, yet he’s saying “stay back” at the same time, because no sinner can draw close. Mixed messages? Sort of. But we’re supposed to feel the tension. God is doing something, there is hope on the horizon, but it clearly won’t be the works of our hands that will accomplish it.

Jesus speaks a better word

The rabbit hole of the return motif goes deeper still. And that’s good news for us, because it’s not just “Return to me”, it’s “I’ll return to you.” Isn’t that such a relief? Like the word “came to” Zechariah in verse 1, so one day would the true Word come to us and take on flesh and dwell among us. It doesn’t say Zechariah “found” the word, or traveled to it in some way, but instead the word found him. It’s reminiscent of the equally comforting truth that love is not that we have loved God, but that he loved us by sending his son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

So, it’s not just Jesus’s active movement towards us that’s good news. It’s what he came to do for us that’s good news. Not only is he returning to us, he is returning in order to take on all of the curses of passages like Zechariah 1 in order to fully ensure that we are able to fully, once and for all, return to the land of his presence. As a toddler he was forced into exile in Egypt. As an adult, he was pushed into the wilderness for 40 days and nights in order to face hunger and expulsion for us. On the cross he faced separation from God for the sake of us separated ones. And he was “overtaken” by law, born under the curses of the law, for us, so he could bear the full weight of our disobedience. Per Zechariah 1:6, Jesus is our true ancestor who was overtaken, overwhelmed, cursed, and crushed for our sins, and that’s what makes the way back home possible. That’s what gets us back on the freeway of grace. And, even better, that’s the image we’re left with: not so much a road map home, but a God who leaves his home to run to us in love, willing to die for us, and to replace the old system of “Return to me” with the new system of “I am returning to you.” So, turn off the GPS weary sinner, pull over, and rest easy. Jesus is running down the mountain to you, and nothing can stand in his way. Home is coming to you.

Read more from Chris here.


Chris Wachter (@pastorwachter) is the Lead Pastor at Hiawatha Church in Minneapolis, MN (www.hiawathachurch.com).

The post Finding Our Way Home appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
It Always Starts with Jesus https://www.keylife.org/articles/it-always-starts-with-jesus/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=it-always-starts-with-jesus Wed, 12 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://staging2.keylife.org/articles/it-always-starts-with-jesus/ "If you have run to Jesus, mercy has come running to you! I don’t care where you’ve been or where you are, what you’ve done or what you’re doing, what you’re smoking or drinking, who you’re sleeping with or demeaning, who you’ve offended or who you’ve hurt, or where the bodies are buried . . . You’re forgiven!" Steve Brown on the scandalous message of the Gospel that because of what Jesus has done, God's not mad at you.

The post It Always Starts with Jesus appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
There is an amazing prophecy in Isaiah 53 referring (Christians believe) to Jesus. The specifics are so detailed that when Isaiah 53 is read without a reference, almost everyone assumes it’s from the New Testament and is quite surprised to find that it was written over seven hundred years before anybody had ever heard of Jesus.

One of the major themes in the book of Isaiah is the coming Messiah who will finally set things right. Everybody expected it would happen but didn’t know when. And everybody expected the Messiah to be big and mean—bigger than the enemies of God’s people who had oppressed them and mean enough to be their worst nightmare.

Then Isaiah referred to a “servant.” That was unexpected and, even worse, confusing. Instead of explaining, Isaiah made it even more unexpected and confusing by describing the Messiah/Servant as one who suffers horribly and is killed. Isaiah 53 will take your breath away. Aside from being quite beautiful, Isaiah 53 points to something that is so profound and overwhelming that it is hard to absorb.

Messiah would not be very attractive (“no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him”), he would not be popular (“he was despised and rejected by men”), and he would not be the “happy face” of religion (“a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”) (vv. 2-3). That’s bad enough, but then we read the statements (vv. 5–7, 10) that shake the very foundations of everything we believe, everything we thought and everything we expected: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; . . . He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. . . . Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him.”

Forgiveness isn’t cheap

You and I both know that forgiveness isn’t cheap. Forgiveness always costs someone something. We have this spurious idea that forgiveness is simply a matter of saying, “I forgive you,” and then going on about our lives. It doesn’t work that way.

For instance, if I steal from you and you forgive me, it’s going to cost you whatever I stole. If you strike me and I forgive you, it’s going to cost me the pain of your blow. If I gossip about you and hurt your reputation, and you forgive me, it may cost you your reputation. If you have been abused and you forgive your abuser, it will cost you the emotional damage abuse brings.

Who is going to pay for the sins of the world? Bingo! How much is it going to cost? You and I have no idea! We can’t come even close to putting our arms around it. We simply can’t count that far, go that deep, or think that big. It’s beyond us even as it moves us deeply. At least we do get that there is a profound sadness at the very heart of the cosmos. The sound of God’s weeping as he “crushed” his own Son was heard throughout heaven.

But even in his agony, in all of his greatness and power, a holy God bends down low and witnesses our tears as they strike the ground. His tears mingle with ours in an astounding act of sacrifice on a cross planted on a garbage heap, between two thieves.

Have you ever been puzzled by the tears of Jesus in Luke 19:41-44 as he looked out over the city of Jerusalem? We understand the incident that happened just after the tears. Jesus went into the temple and kicked out the scoundrels. That’s the God we know! “You go, Jesus!”

But what’s with the tears?

Now you know.

I once spoke for a chapel service at a state prison. The chaplain printed up a bulletin for that service with a cover showing a prisoner in prison garb and a number on the back of his shirt. He is kneeling before the cross where Jesus hangs. The caption read: “My God! I did that???”

Yes, he did. And not only that—I did it too. And just so you know, you are also culpable. You may look quite spiritual, but you don’t fool me. I’ve been a preacher too long and have listened to too many confessions, so I know your secrets—the ones you won’t tell to anyone because you know they would kick you out. I know me and I know you. So relax. Nobody is going to embarrass you, so let confession do its work.

Now some good news. If you have run to Jesus, mercy has come running to you! You have, in light of what I’ve just taught you, unlimited free sins. I don’t care where you’ve been or where you are, what you’ve done or what you’re doing, what you’re smoking or drinking, who you’re sleeping with or demeaning, who you’ve offended or who you’ve hurt, or where the bodies are buried . . .

Three Free Sins

You’re forgiven!

Three free sins is an amazing and glorious gift. It’s not just because we all need forgiveness. It’s because we all need to forgive and, in the very act of forgiving, there is laughter—a laughter that is as profound and as important as the tears that caused it.


Adapted from Steve’s book, Three Free Sins, published by Howard Books, copyright 2012 by Steve Brown. Used by permission.

The post It Always Starts with Jesus appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Don’t Want to Homeschool Your Kids? Here’s the Remedy. https://www.keylife.org/articles/dont-want-to-homeschool-your-kids-heres-the-remedy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=dont-want-to-homeschool-your-kids-heres-the-remedy Tue, 11 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://staging2.keylife.org/articles/dont-want-to-homeschool-your-kids-heres-the-remedy/ But as with everything God puts in our path, there is a remedy, given by him to carry the load and burden.

The post Don’t Want to Homeschool Your Kids? Here’s the Remedy. appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Honestly, though, the me of 23 years ago would be shaking my head at myself in riotous disbelief because there was no way on God’s green earth that I would ever homeschool my children. Famous last words and all that.

Several years ago, I wrote a post on my little homeschool site about how I just wasn’t excited about homeschooling that year. And it reminded me that that is exactly where some of you might be right now, too. COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way we’ve all had to go about educating our kids, at least for now. My heart sincerely goes out to you.

The year I originally wrote this, I was not very excited because the task of educating seven students plus a brain-injured preschooler seemed totally overwhelming. But as with everything God puts in our path, there is a remedy, given by him to carry the load and burden. 

Remedy: God has called us to this life, and he will provide a way to do it without killing us in the process. The key is to remind ourselves of the gospel all day, every day. We are loved, accepted, and safe in his care even if we fail.

Suddenly being stuck at home and homeschooling kids when that was never the plan will undoubtedly be a struggle, because the reality for many of us is that our jobs are way more exciting than homeschooling. It’s a lot more fun for me to go to Starbucks and write than to fold laundry or listen to a struggling reader for the 10,000th time.

Remedy: God has called us to this life this year, and he will provide a way to do it without killing us in the process. The key is to remind ourselves of the gospel all day, every day. There is beauty in the mundane, and there is not more value in [insert your job here] than in caring for the people we love.

When everyone is home in close quarters, the hardest part of the day can be dealing with sinful hearts. Like mine.

Remedy: Jesus is the only hope any of us has. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can change our sinful hearts, no matter how hard we try. The key is to remind us all of the gospel all day, every day.

And can we talk about the food situation? I don’t mean the empty grocery shelves that stunned the nation this week. I mean having to feed everyone three meals a day, every day. There is joy in creating something lovely and yummy, but I don’t feel I’m doing that. I feel like I’m just trying to fill tummies so that they won’t be begging for the next meal within an hour.

Remedy: Let it go. Food is often meant just for our nutrition, and it doesn’t have to be a magazine spread creation. The gospel tells us that God will supply all our needs, and our needs are met by food that is unexciting just as it is with the glorious gourmet meals I might pull off once a month. I told my kids this week that we really could live on eggs and salad if we had to. 

Know what else is making this tricky? Most of my kids aren’t very excited about the sudden turn of events. I have college students whose semester was derailed and jobs put on hold, a singing, performing high schooler who was scheduled to be in two productions this spring, a middle schooler whose choir was set to perform next week in Disneyland, and a special needs child who can’t figure out why I don’t run my homeschool schedule like his school classroom. I know you know; we’ve all had the rug pulled out from underneath us and our kids are reeling. 

Remedy: Bask in the delight of the gospel. Point your whole family back to Jesus. Let the Scriptures pour out over us and press in to Jesus.

And even in the midst of all of our activities being canceled, you might be feeling like you still have so many plates spinning. This isn’t at all like summertime when we can just focus on our jobs and simpler pursuits, minus the school stuff. School at home can feel frenetic. Crazy. Too, too much.

Remedy: Listen to the Holy Spirit. He isn’t calling us to run around like a wild dog. He has said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The culture tells me my house must be beautifully decorated, my kids and myself stylish, our meals well-planned, our yard in excellent shape. Religion tells me I must be in the Word every morning, I must be at church serving, and I must have it all together on Sunday morning. Those are yokes and burdens, and they aren’t the gospel.

If I’m going to air all my dirty laundry on this topic, I have to admit that I am not very excited because my flesh just wants to do something else. 22 years is a long time, and it’s at about this point that a lot of people grow weary of a job. Or maybe that’s the seven-year itch? I’ve lasted 15 years longer than the seven-year itch, so kudos to God for carrying me all this way. When you get to day 15 or month 15 or however long this thing lasts, he will still be carrying you, too.

Remedy: Again, our hope and security isn’t in this job. It’s in Jesus. If he were to provide a viable educational opportunity, I’m sure we’d be all over it. But he hasn’t. Clearly, homeschooling is what God wants us to do right now and thinking that a different path would be better is just shifting our hope on to some other opportunity that doesn’t even exist.

You know what else just stings in the midst of a season of upheaval? Every day I forget how much he loves me.

Remedy: Every day we have to remind ourselves of the gospel. When we remember that we are loved by the God of the universe, we can rest knowing that He will renew our strength and give us a desire to do what he is asking of us. If you need a reminder, Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Because He Loves Me is a giant gulp of oxygen. 

For more ideas as you forge ahead in your brand new homeschool, access ten years of homeschooling help at my site, Preschoolers and Peace. I also teach live online classes for elementary, middle school, and high school students alike: Kendra Fletcher-Outschool

For more from Kendra, click here.

For updated and additional resources, click here!

The post Don’t Want to Homeschool Your Kids? Here’s the Remedy. appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Excerpt from ‘A Greater Story’, by Sam Collier https://www.keylife.org/articles/excerpt-from-a-greater-story-by-sam-collier/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=excerpt-from-a-greater-story-by-sam-collier Sat, 08 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26133 What the Bible is saying is that when God makes a promise to us, he can’t not keep it. His promises will be so.

The post Excerpt from ‘A Greater Story’, by Sam Collier appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
If I could offer you a word of encouragement regarding surrendering your story to God’s greater story, it’s that the feeling you have when someone keeps a promise made to you is the feeling you will experience every day. When you abandon your self-spun plans for your life and gratefully accept the plans that God has for you instead, you activate the promises that God has made for those who earnestly seek his will. He has promised that you will share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption (2 Pet. 1:4). He has promised you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11). He has promised you power and strength (Isa. 40:29–31). He has promised that your suffering will not be in vain . . . that it will produce in you endurance, and character, and hope (Rom. 5:3–5). He has promised to give rest to your weary soul (Matt. 11:28–29). He has promised you peace of mind and heart (John 14:27). He has promised to supply all your needs from his glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). He has promised “overwhelming victory . . . through Christ, who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

He has promised that nothing can ever separate us from his love. “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39).

And as we lean into God’s presence and power . . . I mean, lean so hard that if he were to shift his weight, we’d topple to the ground . . . we put those promises to work in our lives.

(By the way, worry not. You’re good. God never shifts his stance.)

The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians:

As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver

between “Yes” and “No.” For Jesus Christ, the Son of God,

does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom

Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate

“Yes,” he always does what he says. For all of God’s promises

have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And

through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends

to God for his glory.

It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm

for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified

us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the

first installment that guarantees everything he has promised

us. (1:18–22)

God’s promises for us are yes.

God’s promises for us are amen, which means “let it be so!”

Funny story: I was interviewing Lysa TerKeurst for my podcast recently, and in response to one of my questions, she got so revved up that we had church right there on the show. I let her roll as long as she wanted to roll, and when she came up for air, I was hollering and amen-ing her left and right. This is a black church tradition, giving you an “Amen!” when you bring it strong. Why? Because we’re wanting that thing you’re preaching to be so, to be so, to be so!

What the Bible is saying is that when God makes a promise to us, he can’t not keep it. His promises will be so,

will be so,

will be so.

His promises are yes . . . and amen.

About the Author:

Sam Collier is a pastor, speaker, writer, and host of the A Greater Story with Sam Collier TV show and radio podcast. He is a speaker and host at North Point Ministries, founded by Andy Stanley, and he also communicates nationally and internationally as a speaker and contributor to the ReThink Group, Orange Network, Orange Tour, Alpha International Leadership Conference, Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, Culture Conference, and more. He has also been interviewed on numerous TV shows, podcasts, and radio programs. Collier lives with his wife, Toni, and their daughter in Atlanta, Georgia.

Excerpted from A Greater Story by Sam Collier. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, ©2020. Used by permission.

The post Excerpt from ‘A Greater Story’, by Sam Collier appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Speaking Truth to Power | Key Takeaways https://www.keylife.org/articles/speaking-truth-to-power-key-takeaways-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=speaking-truth-to-power-key-takeaways-2 Fri, 07 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26104 How do you speak truth to power when you yourself don't have any power or prestige or leverage? Check out this short video to find out.

The post Speaking Truth to Power | Key Takeaways appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
How do you speak truth when the truth makes people mad? Check out this important sermon from Steve from Acts 5:12-42 about how to communicate God’s message in a post modern world. Check out the full sermon here.

The post Speaking Truth to Power | Key Takeaways appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Jesus is for Sinners https://www.keylife.org/articles/jesus-is-for-sinners1/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jesus-is-for-sinners1 Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://staging2.keylife.org/articles/jesus-is-for-sinners1/ I struggled for years with the loud and persistent message of God against sinners.

The post Jesus is for Sinners appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
I struggled for years with the loud and persistent message of God against sinners. The idea was that if you were a smoker, a drinker, a skimming-off-the-top candlestick maker, God despised you and your evil ways and you might as well stay away. His salvation, they implied, was for the good; for those who had it all together. He only gave his gift to the worthy. You didn’t have to be perfect, of course, but you had to be trying.

That’s a lie.

It’s not only a lie, it’s the antithesis, the absolute opposite, and enemy of the Good News that Jesus lived, died and rose again for we sinners.

Born (Un)Free

We are born into our brokenness. We are a people whose sinful nature has been passed down to us from Adam. No matter how much we give of our time, money and efforts, how little we hate, how much we love, or how often we darken the doors of a church on Sunday morning, we are intrinsically infected with a nature that is a slave to sin.

The message of the gospel is Jesus for sinners. There are no prerequisites.

God did not call us to try harder or obey a list of rules, because all our good deeds are conceived in an un-virtuous womb. Our attempts to do what God wants us to do are imperfect, and God demands perfection. “If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:21b). So, no, he didn’t say, wash your hands and come to dinner. Put on your best clothes and I’ll let you in.

He just opened the door.

The Way

To do that, he lived the life we couldn’t live. He died the death we deserved. Then he rose again to defeat death and assure us a future.

So, all our self-righteous pleas to sinners to stop their unlawfulness are useless prologues to the Good News. Because God came for sinners, not those who think themselves righteous. All our so-called virtuous stances against homosexuality, and pro-abortion activists, and whoever else we see as somehow less than us are not the point. They may well be in line to get into heaven before you. Because all anyone has to do is come.

We want to put the Cross on a high mountain and tell the world to make themselves worthy by climbing to get to it. But God came near. He came near to take the hand of the murderer, still wet with blood. To hold close the still naked body of the adulterer. He came for all people–even me.

The message of the gospel is Jesus for sinners. There are no prerequisites. There are no ifs, ands or buts. There is nothing any of us sinners must do except see our need for God and come.

Follow Chad West on Twitter & Facebook

The post Jesus is for Sinners appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Not Wrong, Just Different https://www.keylife.org/articles/not-wrong-just-different/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=not-wrong-just-different Wed, 05 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26098 We have nothing to lose, nothing to defend, nothing to protect, and nothing to prove. We are simply servants of the King.

The post Not Wrong, Just Different appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
A dear woman who loved world missions told me that while my words about world missions were right, I had no passion. “The only way you can get that passion” she said, “is to go there, see it, and participate.” So she made it happen. There were three of us, including the late Sam Rowan–then one of the wisest cross-cultural mission scholars in the country.

That trip changed my life in a lot of ways. Up to that point, I had never been outside of the United States. On this trip we visited dozens of countries and met a pile of great people all over the world doing amazing work for the Kingdom. Not only that, this boy from the mountains of North Carolina saw things he had never seen before, ate food he didn’t think we should eat, listened to music dissonant to his ears, worshiped in ways that offended his “decently and in order” Presbyterian proclivities, and winced at a lot of things he didn’t understand.

During that trip I spoke at a Christian college chapel in the Philippines on Acts 5 where an angel sprung the disciples from prison. As they ran away, the angel called the disciples and told them to go back and do what they had just gotten arrested for in the first place. I demonstrated the “come here” gesture the angel made and the students at the college started laughing. Later, once a professor explained it to me, I found out why. The professor pointed out, with a fair degree of shock and condemnation, that the gesture I used was an obscene gesture in Philippine culture.

At any rate, Sam helped me deal with my culture shock by often saying to me, “Steve, not wrong, just different. Remember that and you’ll be okay.”

“Not wrong, just different” doesn’t always apply to Christians. Of course, Christians are supposed to be different. Sometimes, though, that “different” morphs into ”weird,” and most of the time there is a difference between different and weird.

“Don’t drink, smoke, or chew…or hang out with those who do!” That bit of doggerel reflects the places we sometimes go and how we define ourselves. A number of years ago I had a friend involved in World Reformed Fellowship (an ecumenical organization for Evangelical and Reformed churches). He would often laugh about how the Germans doubted the salvation of the Americans who smoked, and the Americans doubted the salvation of the Germans who drank beer. Things have changed since then, but that attitude is still extant when Christians are angry, shocked, and offended (we need a Sunday school class called “The Angry, Shocked, and Offended”) by the behavior and opinions of other Christians in a number of areas (e.g. tattoos, length of hair, taste in music and dress, political and social views, minor views of doctrine etc.)

It never hurts for Christians to check out what Jesus says about being different.

For instance, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

I don’t have the foggiest idea how we do that or even what it means. Love isn’t just something we decide to do and then do it. It’s not like turning a faucet on and off at will. Love can’t mean that we agree on everything, or that I like your crazy music and your bad taste in dress. Nor can love mean that you (cretin that you are) must agree with my thoughtful and intelligent views, listen to my favorite and wonderful music, or decide to dress in the obviously dapper way I do. I suspect the key to love may have to do with being present and listening. Matthew Porter gave me a profound quote from Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard by David W. Augsburger, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” 

I recently discovered someone who you ought to be familiar with, Dr. Voddie Baucham. (Google his name and you’ll thank me for having told you about him.) He is an African American scholar and the chancellor of a theological seminary in Africa. In the chaos of the racial divisions, hatred, anger, and charges and counter charges, Dr. Baucham is a refreshing, thoughtful, and anointed voice for the church.

Yesterday I was listening to a sermon/lecture he gave, “Ethnic Gnosticism.” Dr. Baucham said that, while he understood why Christians want to be “color blind,” it isn’t a good thing and shouldn’t happen among Christians. Dr. Baucham said that he was proud of his black heritage, and that Christians should share and rejoice in the heritage (both good and bad) of other Christians. That applies to a whole lot of areas. And then he talked about forgiveness not being an option for the Christian.  

That, I suspect, is a part of “loving one another” so that the world can recognize the difference. As I said, I’m not sure what love is, but I know it when I see it. It has to do with respecting, valuing, caring, and even partying with other Christians. And I’m sure that that kind of love is a gift from Jesus and you can only get it from hanging out with him. He values, cares, and respects us…and doesn’t think he can have a party unless we’re there.

There you go, Brown, compromising. I’ve never been sure you’re saved.

Get in line; but, before you do, let me tell you another way Christians are to be different. It has to do with truth that can’t be changed, compromised, or hidden. Jesus had something to say about that as well. Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).

Racism, rioting, killing, condemnation, destruction, self-righteousness, news geared to fit one’s particular narrative, righteous anger (always righteous when it comes from “my side”), dismissing or demeaning of others because of their skin color (white or black)–and it goes on and on–are wrong, evil, and anti-Christian. How do I know that? God revealed it to you and me. We had a discussion the other day on our talk show about the issue of “Black Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” and “Blue Lives Matter.” George Bingham, Key Life’s president, said something profound, “How about we open with ‘You matter!’?” Where did he get that? Yeah, you guessed it, the Bible. The Bible has a lot to say about what is right and wrong, what is true and not true, and the difference between the Christian worldview and that of those who aren’t Christians. That truth is a precious gift.

There is another way Christians are to be different and, I might add, dangerous. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). And “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). That would be us, and the difference by which we define ourselves–weak, needy, sick, and sinful. Believe it or not, there is great power in the acknowledgement of that difference. We have nothing to lose, nothing to defend, nothing to protect, and nothing to prove. We are simply servants of the King who commissioned us to live, speak, and proclaim truth.

As you know, I’m a very opinionated conservative–theologically, politically, and socially. As I’ve been convicted about some of what I’m writing to you here, I got kind of worried that I might have to change my often-stated views. I asked Jesus who said, “Of course not! Those views are right!” Okay, Jesus didn’t say that last part about my being right…but, of course, I am…maybe. But he really didn’t ask me to change. Jesus called me (and you) to go into the world and as we are going (the literal meaning of “Go into all the world”) about our daily live–working, playing, struggling, and connecting–we are to make disciples where we can. I can do that as long as I don’t duck.

One of the tragic things about our time is that we have, as it were, lost the anchor. Evil is the way we get our way (politically, financially, sexually, and socially) and a whole lot of people simply don’t have any idea what evil really is. There is no standard by which we relate to others because that standard has been lost. Nobody seems to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate, and compassion and guilt. That’s not dissimilar to what the writer of Judges said about Israel, “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

Doesn’t that make you sad? It makes Jesus sad, too. 

“When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). And then Jesus looked out over the city and wept (Luke 19:41). Jesus said on that occasion, “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37).

Jesus still feels the same.

We’re called to be different and a part of that means telling everybody we know who will listen.

He asked me to remind you.

For more from Steve, click here.

The post Not Wrong, Just Different appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
McFreedom https://www.keylife.org/articles/mcfreedom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=mcfreedom Tue, 04 Aug 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26114 In a recent episode of ‘Steve Brown, Etc’,  we discussed freedom.  Specifically, we considered how we all extol the idea of freedom, but rarely do we ever talk about the reality of freedom. Here’s what I mean… Freedom Is Scary If we have freedom to make a choice, then part-and-parcel with that is the understanding […]

The post McFreedom appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
In a recent episode of ‘Steve Brown, Etc’,  we discussed freedom.  Specifically, we considered how we all extol the idea of freedom, but rarely do we ever talk about the reality of freedom.

Here’s what I mean…

Freedom Is Scary

If we have freedom to make a choice, then part-and-parcel with that is the understanding that we are responsible for those choices.  Uh-oh.

Freedom Is Overwhelming

Ever scroll through Netflix trying to find something to watch?  There are so many options, my brain just collapses and I go fetal.  Which is to say, I just rewatch an Avengers movie for the 99th time.  I need the kind of ‘freedom’ I have when I go to McDonald’s; “Pick anything you want – anything – from among these six choices.”

Freedom is Problematic

As Steve often points out, the freedom to make the right choice necessarily goes hand-in-hand with the freedom to set ourselves on fire.  Sometimes the wrong choice is a chocolate-peanut butter-banana-bacon milkshake (please engrave that recipe on my tombstone).  Sometimes the wrong choice is subjugation and genocide.  

And yet, God clearly likes the idea of us having freedom.  Real freedom.  Right from the get-go, He tasked Adam with naming everything he saw.  Why?  This little naked dude doesn’t even have a belly button, but he’s in charge of branding all of creation?  Okay

And of course freedom, our ability to choose, is what shortly thereafter led to the whole thing going sideways.  So why give us this option?  As C.S. Lewis framed it:

“…free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Case For Christianity

Yes, freedom does feel daunting.

Yes, it often feels like McFreedom would be the better, safer option.  

And yet, all of this scariness brings into sharp focus God’s character and plan.  Because despite how we’ve misused the freedom we’ve been given, He’s right there bringing it all together for His ultimate purpose and glory…

“…we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.  God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.”  Romans 8:28-29
So while we all hold gold medals in ‘This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things’, God has the ability and willingness to still weave it all together into something beautiful.  In fact, He’s about this task as we speak.  And that sets us free, knowing we can trust in God’s goodness since we can’t trust in our own.  What’s more, when we trust in His grace and sovereignty, we’re not just free, we are “free indeed.”

Read more from Matthew here

The post McFreedom appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Full Time Grace | Key Takeaway https://www.keylife.org/articles/full-time-grace-key-takeaway/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=full-time-grace-key-takeaway Fri, 31 Jul 2020 09:00:00 +0000 https://www.keylife.org/?p=26034 We know that God is involved with growing His children, but HOW does it happen? Learn about that process in this short video from Pete Alwinson

The post Full Time Grace | Key Takeaway appeared first on Key Life.

]]>
Learn about that process in this short video as Pete Alwinson speaks about the transformative role of grace in this message from Philippians. Watch the full sermon here.

The post Full Time Grace | Key Takeaway appeared first on Key Life.

]]>