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Earl Marshall

Month: May 2009 (page 1 of 2)

God’s Chisel

This morning I spoke on the quality of "moral excellence" from 2 Peter 1:5.  I so enjoyed working through the concept of how God coforms us into the image of Jesus through testing our faith this week.  Not that I enjoy the trial part but I do have a sense of "quiet confidence" in God knowing that he has a plan for making me "his masterpiece". 

We concluded our service with the following video clip of the Skit Guys, God's Chisel.  Many requested to see it again.  Clearly the Spirit of God was engaging in hearts and minds this morning.  

Tweet on but seriously not right now

At the possibility of sounding lame and so not with it (I suppose I just did that) I am throwing my support behind  Josh Harris and John Piper about not tweeting during worship.  There is a time and place for "tweet commentary" but please not during our times of expressing corporately worship to God and listening to God through the scriptures.  Call me uptight if you must.

How do I know if I am growing up?

We have been examining the biblical process of spiritual growth in 2 Peter 1 the last few weeks.  It has been a very rich experience for me as I think about what God is doing in and through me.  One of the questions that I hear from time to time (in my own mind and in conversations with others) is, "how do I really know if I am growing up spiritually?". 

Said a different way, "I am not sure I see evidence of this fruit of the Spirit in my life or at least not enough evidence, so what 's my problem?"  In other words, "I am putting in the effort, trying to stay connected to and meditating on my salvation in Jesus Christ, dealing with the obstacles to growth in my life, and attempting to pursue the fruit of the Spirit" but I'm just not sure.

Here are some of my quick hit responses to a very complex real life issue:

Do you know what the "fruit of the Spirit" looks like . . . what the words in lists like Galatians 5 and 2 Peter 1 mean.  In order to know if you are bearing fruit you need to know the difference between a rock and a plum.  So get into God’s Word and find out what gentleness really is, what patience really is – not what you think it is but what it really is from a biblical perspective.

Remember that bearing fruit is NOT about achieving perfection in your life.  Peter really emphasizes this.  It is about increasing in measure . . . that is frequently participating in these qualities as part of your life.  No one achieves perfection this side of eternity.  The goal is not perfection but maturation

These moral virtues come as a result of being connected with the vine – Jesus Christ (John 15).  So many times we get mixed up into thinking that our call in life is to copy Jesus, to try extra hard to do what he did.  Our calling in life is to be connected to Jesus.  There is a huge difference between these two.  One is all about living as Jesus lived (WWJD) the other living out what Jesus has done.  The second will lead you to doing what Jesus wants you to do.  But if you start with I have to do this it will not necessarily lead to connection with Jesus.  If you want to bear fruit stay connected to Jesus.

Believe that Jesus’ Spirit will cause you to bear fruit.  If you are connected you will bear fruit.  Bottom line, believe it, it will happen, no questions asked, going to be the case . . . you get the point.  Now you may have moments where you wonder but this is a promise for you (John 15:4).

Ask Godly people (wise followers of Jesus) who know you to speak into your life.  Ask them if they see you changing, bccoming more fruitful for Jesus.  Ask them if they see obstacles in your life to fruitfulness – listen with openness and be willing to submit to the wisdom of God in your life.

Have faith that God’s promises are true.  Listen to what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:10, “You are God’s workmanship, created for good works”.  Do you believe that?

Many of us get wrapped up in being able to see all of the evidence.  Who doesn’t love to be able to see the evidence?  But why is that?  Sometimes in our pursuit to see, know the fruit we are doing so for self centered reasons.  “I want to know that I am on the right track”, why is that important to us?  A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the difference between Common Virtue and True Virtue (Tim Keller and Jonathan Edwards).  Common virtue does and seeks after good things essentially motivated either out of fear, “I am afraid that I am going to miss something, a blessing, etc.” or pride “I need to know that I am OK, have others think that I am OK, let God know that I am OK”.  Many times when we are asking the question about fruit in our lives I believe we are seeking answers based on pride or fear

We should be more concerned with whether or not we are connected in relationship with Jesus and meditating on, empowered by, and motivated by the love of God in our life through Jesus Christ than whether or not I can see the fruit.  Have faith and stay connected to God's love . . . the fruit of the Spirit will follow. 



Hip 2B Holy

I watched Kevin Newman's "Hip 2b Holy" on Global TV last night.  After watching the 60 minute documentary I wondered, "what was the point?"  For me there didn't seem to be a compelling reason for the presentation, certainly not one that lived up to the hype of the title. 

For the most part Newman and his team interact with two main characters, Nathan Gerber (shout out to uncle Ted) and Carey Nieuwhof who become the "faces" for the scores of diverse examples of young Canadian evangelical expression. Both Nathan and Carey represented themselves very well.  I appreciated their candor and I was intrigued to see Nathan "bust some moves" (not so young Canadian evangelical said that).  But I got the sense that in both cases it was more about "the personality" than the representation of young Canadian evangelicals per se. 

I was left wondering

  • How stoked is Connexus from all the free marketing it received last night?  How many website hits today?  Life 100.3 must be their new "best friend" this morning!

  • What was the real story?  Where was the journalism?  I appreciated that Global did not create a story but I am still trying to piece together from the presentation what the story is.  I suppose it is that there are young people rediscovering faith and expressing it in unique ways.  But is that it?  What about the other story, of young Canadian evangelicals walking away from their faith in their early twenties?

  • Why when making a point about a desire among Canadian evangelicals to work together in representing their points of view was there no reference to the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada?

Today I also celebrate . . . the gospel of Jesus Christ and its presentation in various expressions. 

On Church Discipline, Love and Restoration

My son forwarded on to me a very worthwhile read of an interview of Ted Haggard.  This is not the TV interviews but a postscript of sorts.  You can read part one of Donny Pauling's ramblings and instead of focusing on the subject being Ted Haggard think of the subject being church discipline and the process of restoration.  What is the responsibility of the church?  What do you think of Haggard's statement of the secular world coming to his rescue and not the church? 

Permission from a Senior

I must admit that many times I have conversations about Seniors with friends, colleagues, and even family members it rarely revolves around permission being given or pleading to take a risk. I must also admirt and applaud many of the 70 plus crowd in my church who are enthusiastically supportive of me personally and our church ministry. I love the fact that I am part of a multi-generational church. There is a rich quality here.

All that to say that today I received a phone message from one of our mature men in the church imploring and encouraging me to share my heart tomorrow as I speak with our seniors. He said, encourage us, challenge us, tell us what we need to hear from God.

So that is what I am going to do. Let him who has ears to hear (aided or not) hear. Thanks for the permission. That means a lot coming from someone I hold dear to my heart.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

For me or for God

Once upon a time in an old kingdom, there was a gardener who grew an enormous carrot in his garden. Now this man loved his sovereign, so he came and presented the carrot to the king, saying, “This is the best carrot my garden will ever grow. Receive it as a token of my love.”  Now the king discerned his heart of love and devotion and saw that he wanted nothing in return. This moved the king and he then gave the gardener far more land than he currently had for his garden, so the man went home rejoicing. Now a nobleman at court overheard this conversation. He thought to himself, “If that is the response the lord makes to such a small gift, what will he give in response to a great one?” So the next day he brought the king a fine horse, saying, “This is the best horse my stables will ever grow. Receive it as a token of my love.” But the King discerned the nobleman’s heart, and in response he just received the horse and dismissed the giver. When the king saw the look of confusion on his face, he said, “The gardener’s gift was a gift, indeed, out of love, but you are just trying to make a profit. He gave me the carrot, but you gave yourself the horse.”

Now do you see what this teaches? If you know God offers you his salvation freely, and that there is nothing to do but to accept the perfect righteousness of his Son, then you can feed the hungry and clothe the naked just for the love of God and for the love of people. But if you think you are getting salvation in return for these deeds, then it is yourselves you are feeding, yourselves you are clothing.


Maxwell on Maxwell

Finally I understand.  Watch this spoof interview of Maxwell

Clarity Wins

Will Mancini declares in "Church Unique", "Leaders must constantly fight the good fight of clarity to overcome complexity". We all have so many things that we can do but what is the one thing that we must do? What must we eliminate? What must we focus on? What must we say no to?

This principle is true of providing leadership for our churches as much as for the self leadership of our lives. What we want to do may not be what we must do for God. It may be that you or the unique make up of your church are not gifted for what you want but your must will uniquely fit who you are, who God has made you to be.

Carpe Diem!

Reflections on our time with Hybels

A few things stand out for me from today. 

I appreciated the fact that Hybels did not have an agenda and was truly willing to answer questions.  More dialogue would have been good but it definitely wasn't an Amway presentation. 

The idea of missional living was reinforced for me.  The context this morning was around engaging 20 somethings but I see it much broader than this.  We speak of transforming our region and in many instances I don't see this happening until some of our church family sense a call from God to move in very close proximity with those in greatest need in our region.  The biggest challenge is keeping social justice issues tied to gospel.  We didn't work that through today. 

Last thing was a very practical but insightful concept.  Hybels spoke of the need to think through preservice and postservice times on Sunday morning.  I totally agree with his understanding that many of those who attend have made a conscious choice to do so and don't want us to hold back.  The design of the preservice experience and postservice experience is necessary for this.  Who knows maybe it will get people to come on time.

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