Great Deal on a Great Book!

Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional is on sale for $1.99 on Kindle today. Ann is great, and this book is a great devotional resource to help anyone see the threads of grace in everyday life.

In our family, Ann Voskamp is often a voice of gospel sanity in an otherwise chaotic world. Go check our her blog A Holy Experience if you’ve never read or heard (seriously?) of her before.

Here are some other Book Deals (Kindle version) in case you were interested:

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert [A must read!]

Bryan Chappel, Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life by Beginning in Jesus’ Name

John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion

Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

R.C. Sproul, What is Reformed Theology? Understanding the Basics

Voddie Baucham Jr., The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture

Marvin Olasky, The Religions Next Door: What We Need to Know About Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam and What Reporters are Missing

Will McRaney, The Art of Personal Evangelism

Jonathan Dotson & Brad Watson, Raised?: Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection

John Phillip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity

The Center of it All

In part 33 and final sermon in our series The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World, A Study in the Gospel of Mark, Lead Pastor Chris Gensheer shows us what it means to be gospel centered, to see that it is all about Jesus, the center of it all, by looking at the trail, crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

More stubborn than our sin is the relentless love of our Savior, who is even now redeeming, renewing and restoring all nouns – peoples, places and things – to Himself, for God’s glory and His and our joy together.

This is what not only humbles us, but also electrifies us to live in light of the gospel.

Shareable Thoughts:

“Grace is greater than sin, and therefore can have the last and final word.” – @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx (Facebook or Google+ – Chris Gensheer, Christ Church Mansfield TX), #wayofparadox #gospelcentered

Referenced in Sermon:
Cornelius Plantinga, Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (Link to quote)

About Christ Church Mansfield

Christ Church Mansfield is a worshiping community on mission to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to www.cpcmansfield.org (soon to be http://www.christchurchmansfield.com)

Stubborn Grace and Losing Focus

In yesterday’s sermon at Christ Church Mansfield we completed our study of Mark’s Gospel called The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World. We ended by seeing how Jesus is the center of it all – the gospel, the Christian faith, even reality itself.

One of the main themes that we reiterated week in and week out was that the world as we know it is not normal; it’s abnormal. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be. But when Jesus comes into the scene, we get a glimpse, a picture, of what that right-side up world is supposed to look like.

I have been forever impacted and indebted to Tim Keller for introducing me to Cornelius Plantinga, and his monumental work on sin. Of all things, this book, and particularly the following quote has left an impression on me in regards to understanding the gospel, Jesus Christ, and what it is that His life and His work is really all about.

If you were with us this past weekend for the sermon “The Center of it All”, here is the quote I read at the end:

“Evil rolls across the ages, but so does good. Good has its own momentum. Corruption never wholly succeeds. (Even blasphemers acknowledge God.) Creation is stronger than sin and grace stronger still. Creation and grace are anvils that have worn out a lot of our hammers. To speak of sin itself, to speak of it apart from the realities of creation and grace, is to forget the resolve of God. God wants shalom and will pay any price to get it back. Human sin is stubborn, but not as stubborn as the grace of God and not half so persistent, not half so ready to suffer to win its way. Moreover, to speak of sin by itself is to misunderstand its nature: sin is only a parasite, a vandal, a spoiler. Sinful life is a partly depressing, partly ludicrous caricature of genuine human life. To concentrate on our rebellion, defection, and folly—to say to the world ‘I have some bad news and I have some bad news’—is to forget that the center of the Christian religion is not our sin but our Savior. To speak of sin without grace is to minimize the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fruit of the Spirit, and the hope of shalom.” – Cornelius PlantingaNot the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin (p. 199)

One of the best books I've ever read - thanks Tim Keller!

One of the best books I’ve ever read – thanks Tim Keller!

New Sermon video – True Grit: Fight. Flee. Fulfill!

How do you deal with pressure? When the going gets tough, what do you do?

All human beings have the tendency to either fight through, or flee the other way; the classic Lizard brain “fight or flight” response. And this is good for survival purposes, but what if the stakes are even greater than just simply preservation of our lives or the mere status quo.

For all of us, it’s only when the roof caves in that the truth comes out, and despite our best efforts and tough talk, all of our strength and might fails us. Our only other option would seem to be to flee and run away. But in the gospel, we see another way – fulfillment. When the blow of God’s judgment against sin – the ways we fail God, others, and even ourselves – it falls hard on all.

But for those who put their trust in Christ – the Shepherd who was struck for His people and later vindicated and raised up in glory – can be redeemed, restored and renewed, and so fight the fight of faith to cling to Jesus through all of life’s ups, down, failures and successes.

Christ Church Mansfield is a worshiping community on mission to make to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to http://www.cpcmansfield.org (soon to be http://www.christchurchmansfield.com)

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day Everybody!

And those blasted Presbyterians!

And those blasted Presbyterians!

May we humbly suggest that this 4th of July, you take a moment and thank 3 sets of people:

Veterans and Military Personnel – who fought, are fighting and will fight to preserve our nation’s freedom for all citizens and those in need around the world.

Politicians – who, regardless of their differing views and at times shenanigans, are doing what they can and working the best they know how to develop policies and laws for every citizens enjoyment and full use of that freedom.

Presbyterians – those “blasted” pesky controversial types who helped get this whole thing started in the first place.

HT Don Sweating for this short but sweet article).

http://donsweeting.com/2014/07/04/those-blasted-presbyterians-reflections-on-independence-day/

It Does Not Matter

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the gospel centered life and Paul letter to the Romans

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on being gospel centered.

I came across this gem while reading through Martyn Lloyd-Jones‘ commentary on Romans and it clarifies perfectly what I personally, and our church, Christ Church Mansfield, hold to.

“It does not matter what Paul is writing about; sometimes he has to write a letter because people have sent him questions, or because there have been difficulties. It does not matter at all what the occasion is; he cannot begin writing without at once introducing us to Jesus Christ. To Paul, He was the beginning and end, the all-in-all.”  – From Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Gospel of God: An Exposition of Romans Chapter 1 (33)

At Christ Church Mansfield, we say that we are a single-issue church, meaning, we are centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. This moves us into certain directions, activities, values and distinctions; for example, we say we are here to Love God (worship); Connect people (community); Serve the city (mission); Reach the world (discipleship).

But all of these emanate from one center – Jesus Christ, who He is (person) and what He has done (work). There is nothing we can do or say that should not come from this central starting point. This is what we mean when we say we are gospel-centered.

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn (or The End of the World as We Know It): Jesus and the End Times

Here is the video to my latest sermon at Christ Church Mansfield, To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn (or The End of the World as We Know It) from Mark 13.

This is part 30 of our series in the Gospel of Mark called, The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World.

“To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven.”- Pete Seeger and Ecclesiastes 3

When Pete Seeger penned those words to the classic folk turned rock song (popularized by The Byrds), he was putting music and emotion to the wisdom of the book of Ecclesiastes that said “No matter what you are experiencing, it won’t always be like this. Things will change. They will “turn” eventually.”

When it comes to biblical prophecy, and more specifically, apocalyptic literature (like Mark 13), those same words hold true but with a different meaning. Biblical prophecy gives us a picture of the future as told from God’s perspective – what Tim Keller calls “poetic history told ahead of time” – for the expressed purpose of giving those who see what He sees and hear what He hears a chance to respond appropriately in the present.

In Mark 13, Jesus will address one of the most controversial topics that have been debated and even divisive within all of Christianity throughout the centuries – eschatology; or the view of the “end times.” And what we find in Jesus’ “Little Apocalypse” here is that perhaps we have focused too much of our discussions on minor points, and completely missed the major point.

While there is little consensus on the minors – such as timing, sequence, correlation to world and geo-political events – there is overwhelming consensus on the majors; namely Jesus Christ will return at the end time to judge as well as redeem, renew and restore all things, inevitably but unexpectedly.

Tweetable Thoughts:

“Christ’s return is inevitable, even though it will be unexpected – no one will know before it happens.” @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“The real abomination is man in murderous revolt against his Maker & Redeemer.” @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“When Jesus comes it is the end of the world as we know it.” @gensheer @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

About Christ Church Mansfield

Christ Church Mansfield is a worshiping community on mission to make to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth, TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to www.cpcmansfield.org

Gospel Centered Giving: Grace Made Visible

Here is the video to my latest sermon at Christ Church Mansfield, Gospel Centered Giving: Grace Made Visible from Mark 12:38-44.

This is part 29 of our series The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World, a Study in the Gospel of Mark.

In this sermon, we explore the extraordinary giving of woman of humble means but full faith, contrasted with the meager giving of the wealthy, established and religious elite, and exposes a fundamental principle we often overlook when it comes to giving of our resources…

Giving is first a heart issue, before it’s ever a money issue.

The widow in Mark 12 shows us what gospel centered giving, grace made visible, actually looks like.

Only those who first give all that they are can give all that they have. And we can fully give all that we are and have because we have received from God all the best that He could give us in Jesus His Son.

Tweetable Thoughts:

“Giving is a reflection of the health of your heart, not the wealth of your wallet.” @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“Only those who give all that they are can give all that they have.” @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

“Our money & where it goes betray what our hearts find most valuable.” @ccmansfieldtx #wayofparadox

References in the Sermon

Ann Voskamp’s article on Waging Love in Iraq with Preemptive Love Coalition Link:

Ann Voskamp on Twitter (@AnnVoskamp)

Relevant Magazine article “What Would Happen if the Church Tithed.” 

Christ Church Mansfield is a gospel centered worshiping community on mission to reach this and the next generation with the transforming power of the gospel.

We exist to love God (worship), connect people (community), serve the city (mission) and reach the world (discipleship) with the transforming power of the gospel. We serve the communities of Mansfield, Arlington, Burleson, Midlothian, Cedar Hill, Grand Prairie and Fort Worth TX.

A member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we stand in the reformed tradition that celebrates that the church is always to be reformed; meaning, we are to be reshaped and molded into the image of Christ as declared in the scriptures.

For more free content, or to make a contribution to the ministry, go to http://www.cpcmansfield.org/

The Very Natural Gospel

Jesus Healing Work – Restoring the World Back to Normal Again

In my reading and studying for our sermon series on the Gospel of Mark at Christ Presbyterian Church in Mansfield, (You can check it out for yourself if you want: The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World) I keep coming across great quotes and ways of expressing an unavoidable theme – that the miracles of Jesus are not the suspension of the natural order, but the reversal of the unnatural order back to what should be natural wholeness, health and restoration.

Here’s one from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible on Mark 7:31-8:26

“When Jesus heals people such as this deaf man, we tend to view these miracles in the Gospels as interruptions of the natural order. Yet given the promises of the Old Testament to restore the world to the way it was at the very beginning, miracles are not an interruption of the natural order but the restoration of the natural order. We are so used to a fallen world that sickness, disease, pain, and death seem natural. In fact, they are the interruption. Jesus’ supernatural miracles are a return to the truly natural.”

Tell me, is this how you read and understand the miracles in the Bible? If not, why not?

If this way of thinking is new to you, I’d love to know and hear what thoughts or questions you may have. Take 30 seconds, leave a comment and let’s talk about it.

Hope Shines Through – Gospel Centered Lent Reflection – Day 2

Gospel Centered Lent, Day 2 Reflection rainbow_elam_21

“Yet, in the midst of the gloom and in the aftermath of the storm of God’s judgment, we see hope shine through. Noah looks up and sees against the gray clouds the dazzling glory of the rainbow emerging where sun and storm meet. And there in the clouds he sees the bow of God’s wrath laid aside in the promise of peace.

And that great promise is that no matter how dark our sin might grow, God will not turn his face against us again. Instead, God would sooner point the bow of his wrath upward, towards heaven, at his own Son, than unleash his wrath upon us again. And on the cross, where the sun of God’s love and the storm of God’s wrath would meet again, Jesus would die in darkness so that the brilliance of the glory of God’s saving plan would shine forth into our hearts. All this without a hint of divine regret.”

From Redeemer Presbyterian Church Lenten Devotional