Karis Church intern Dave Owens explains the concept of a “gospel wheel” and how to use it.Read More
Porterbrook Learning Fall 2017 Launch
Have you ever wanted to go deeper in your missional, theological, and doctrinal understanding and activity? Ever desired to attend seminary but couldn't find the time or money? Do you learn better through conversation more than the classroom? Porterbrook Learning may be right for you.Read More
Billy asked me to repost this for Sunday's sermon. I've been using the "Change Your Mind" plan, and it's been fantastic. Read it every year, actually. It’s common to make New Year’s resolutions regarding Bible reading at this time of year. That can be a good thing. But I have a better idea. Pick a plan that still works when you have bad days or weeks. Choose one that will allow you to jump right back in without feeling like you’re an abject failure.
Tim Challies has a great list of plans in this post. The “Change Your Mind” plan is one example of a plan that allows you to jump back in. Others, like Denny Burk’s plan, allow some catch-up days, which are great.
Friends, we need God’s word. The Bible is meant to be our daily sustenance. But we also GET to read God’s word. It’s meant to be our daily delight. The Lord has revealed Himself to us! What a privilege that is! Jesus taught us that His word is meant to be our food (Matthew 4:4). Thankfully the food we eat doesn’t just sustain us. The Lord created food that’s diverse and delicious. It’s the same with His word. Read the Bible in 2015. You won’t regret it.
Jake’s love for diversity and his love for people in the margins is no secret. If you haven’t read it, check out this article Rebecca wrote in Vox Magazine. This is who Jake his. He’s given his life to go to the hardest places. He’s not given up, even at times when he’s felt alone in it. Related to that, one thing he can’t stand is something called the “prosperity gospel” or “health/wealth theology.” That is no gospel at all. It’s bad news that, if we pray hard enough, if we act godly enough, somehow God will hear us and give us lots of cash and cars and always heal all our diseases. This kind of CRAP was sadly on the waiting room TV while Jake’s heart was in another room struggling to beat.
Hear this church, and those who love Jake: sometimes God is pleased to hear our prayers and give us the kind of “yes” answer we want, as it seems so clearly here with Jake. Other times, though, he chooses to answer, but just not in the way we might choose. He says, “no,” or “not yet.” He doesn’t give us what we ask, or maybe he doesn’t give it to us when we ask. Do you remember Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 7?
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
God only gives His children good gifts. We can bank on that. However, we often question that when times are tough. We can look at the loaf of bread in our hand and think it’s a hunk of Missouri limestone. We’ll feel what we think is a serpent’s bite, and we’ll snap at our Lord above. Yet He remains a good heavenly Father - like an earthly dad who intends our good, but unlike our father here who isn’t perfect. His plan is always good, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. Nancy Leigh Demoss has put it like this: “God’s will is what we would choose if we knew what God knows.” What wisdom there! We won’t see how it all fits together until later. When we do, we’ll thank our perfect Dad for giving us just what we needed.
Many folks have expressed gratitude for my wife Amy during this time. Her wisdom, composure, love, and boldness make her a terrific nurse, and an even better nurse-friend during a crisis. I bet, though, that many of you don’t know her story. Her mom died when she was 12 from a failed tonsillectomy. She was the stunned, little girl sitting in that conference room, hearing that her mother was gone. Yet those events led her to becoming a nurse. They eventually left her with a step-mom who shared Jesus with her. Yes, Amy is awesome in that conference room, but she wasn’t born that way (although she clearly has gifts that come from God). She has been tested by trials (sadly, more than just that event). She’s experienced the truth in the words that she repeats constantly to our children: “God is good, and God is in control.” She’s seen that the snake in the hand is often a fish in disguise. Even death, which isn’t the way things were meant to be, is somehow still a part of God’s plan until we who believe dance in that new world. That’s the plan for our loved ones. It’s the plan for each of us. Yet, in all of it, we can know and believe that God is the one driving things, not our enemy, and he’s leading us toward green pastures and still waters.
Until that day, let’s embrace whatever comes our way through tears of faith. Let’s help each other believe Romans 8:28, that He truly works all things for our good. And let’s keep praying like crazy, knowing God wants to hear from us, asking him persistently and fervently to raise our brother Jake out of that bed and put him back on those First Ward streets. Our kind God may will to give us what we ask.
Our buddy Jake’s seen the devastation this “prosperity gospel” leaves among the people he loves most. Trust me. The man doesn’t think highly of those who picture God as an easily-manipulated grandpa in the sky. I’m confident if he woke up now, he’d say, “Keep praying. I have more I want to do. I want those in the margins to know Jesus. I don’t want you to be sad. But if it’s God’s time to take me, I’ll be better off. Maybe that’s His will. He’ll take good care of you. He’s good. He’s in control. Don’t fear. Keep trusting Him, no matter what.” And that's why Jacob Luis Gonzales is such an awesome dude.