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)

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)

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

Without the Gospel

Deforrested forrest

“Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe …” – John Calvin

What got Jesus into trouble?

The way that he ate.

Come find out more at Christ Presbyterian Church this Sunday as we continue our sermon series The Way of Paradox: Following the Right-Side Up King in an Upside-Down World and look at Jesus’ dinner party in Mark 2.

Go to our website for more details.

Did you know that doing lunch is doing theology?

Did you know that doing lunch is doing theology?

Christ Presbyterian Church is a new gospel-centered church plant in Mansfield TX, committed to loving God, connecting people, serving our community and reaching the world with the transforming power of the #gospel. Currently we are meeting Sundays at 10am, at Asa Low Intermediate School on the corner of Debbie Lane and Walnut Creek Rd.

Check out our Google Page and give us some Google love (+1 and a Comment or a Share) – https://plus.google.com/107080448998086749896/posts/LG4fjnZ9XJr

And “Like” us on the book of faces: https://www.facebook.com/CPCMansfield

The Myth of the Sacred and the Secular

Quote

“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the incarnation.”—Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

The Almighty and the Helpless

Quote

“The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” ~J.I. Packer

Living in the Gaps

I am always fascinated by the “gaps” in the Bible. The span of time between recorded episodes. The ones where we are left to guess or imagine what was going on.

This is not to say that what we have in the Bible (i.e., special revelation) is insufficient or not enough. It’s thoroughly sufficient for everything that we need.

But it’s the gaps as well as the explicitly stated that interest me.

For example, when reading through the narrative of Abraham in Genesis 12-25, we really only are privy to a few episodes, even just conversations, of the patriarch and his dealings with God. There’s a lot left unspoken in-between.

We are introduced to him in Genesis 12 as at that point a relatively elderly man, living with his wife in his father’s household. When he goes the way of the departed in Genesis 25, we are told that he died in a “good old age” surrounded by his children over the years.

And in Genesis 24, when he sends his servant out to find a wife for his son Isaac, we are told that the servant is sent out with ten camels, a remarkable display of Abraham’s wealth.

Now, for those reading the story, we are allowed to see a few episodes of how Abraham accrued such wealth. But there are decades left blank in between those few recorded aspects of Abraham’s life.

What was going on in the gaps?

I’ll tell you.

Abraham was living an ordinary, mundane, but striving for faithfulness kind of life.

Too often, we fixate on just the episodes that are “revealed” when teaching the Bible. And what can happen is that someone identifies with that particular story, and hears the call of God to go and leave his particular situation and follows God not knowing where exactly (think overseas missionaries responding to a sermon on Genesis 12 after a missions conference), and others don’t (think about a school teacher, or doctor, hearing the same sermon at the same event).

All Scripture is tied and connected to Jesus as the true and proper fulfillment of it’s meaning. But God’s Word also speaks to how we respond to that particular aspect of His revelation and Christ’s fulfillment.

Perhaps we need to take some time, and with a sanctified imagination, allow some of the “gaps” to speak just as clearly as that which is clearly revealed in Scripture.

Maybe the takeaway isn’t always – “leave and go” (Genesis 12)

Maybe there are times and season where it’s – “stay and remain faithful to the One who is faithful to you!” (the gaps between Genesis 12-25).

Something Greater is Here (Mark 2:3-17)

Paralytic Man Lowered in the Midst of the Crowds Before Jesus

Jesus continues his public ministry and the crowds keep coming to him.  People are expecting him to do great and good works and they can’t get enough.  That’s what makes this episode about a man being lowered into the middle of a very crowded house so fascinating.  First, imagine you’re crowded into the home of Jesus along with everyone else, and suddenly you notice part of the roof collapsing.

Homes in Jesus’ day in Capernaum would have been constructed largely with some wooden beams and mud-patch work for the roof.  As this band of friends climbed up the roof and began to carve into the mud in order to lower their paralytic friend, they undoubtedly would have caused a commotion down below.  Mud pieces falling from the ceiling, maybe bits of straw or hay scattering around the room.  As their eyes were directed upwards, they notice several sets of eyes in a circle in the newly formed skylight, and then a man being lowered on a mat. You may think, “What never!” or “What boldness!” but the fact is that everybody notices and everyone is thinking something.

What do you think Jesus was thinking?  It was after all his home that just had the roof torn open so that a helpless man could get help.  Jesus tells us what he was thinking: while some were thinking “What nerve!” and others were thinking “What boldness!” Jesus was thinking “What faith!”  These men believed that if they could just get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus, his life would be different.  He would be healed.  He wouldn’t need to be carried along by his friends anymore.  He could be restored to a healthy, vibrant life.  And they were right.  That is what happens when people meet Jesus.  With Jesus, life gets restored and things get set back to the way they are supposed to be.

So Jesus speaks to the paralytic man and says, ”Be healed?”  No!  He tells the man that his “sins are forgiven.”  What was Jesus doing here?  Jesus is meeting the man’s need in a way that neither the man, nor his friends, nor anyone else in the house expected – he is meeting his need for forgiveness of sin.  Tim Keller is helpful in understanding what is going on when he writes:

Jesus knows something the man doesn’t know—that he has a much bigger problem than his physical condition. Jesus is saying to him, “I understand your problems. I have seen your suffering. I’m going to get to that. But please realize that the main problem in a person’s life is never his suffering; it’s his sin.” If you find Jesus’s response offensive, please at least consider this: If someone says to you, “The main problem in your life is not what’s happened to you, not what people have done to you; your main problem is the way you’ve responded to that”—ironically, that’s empowering. Why? Because you can’t do very much about what’s happened to you or about what other people are doing—but you can do something about yourself. When the Bible talks about sin it is not just referring to the bad things we do. It’s not just lying or lust or whatever the case may be—it is ignoring God in the world he has made; it’s rebelling against him by living without reference to him. It’s saying, “I will decide exactly how I live my life.” And Jesus says that is our main problem. (Tim Keller, King’s Cross, 25-26)

Jesus isn’t denying that the man needs healing in a physical sense, but he is challenging everyone’s notion that Jesus is a really good guy, doing some really good things.  He’s more than that. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright links the authority Jesus claims for himself, with the authority promised to “one like a son of man,” in Daniel 7, where:

There, ‘one like a son of man’ is the representative of God’s true people. He is opposed by the forces of evil; but God vindicates him, rescues him, proves him to be in the right, and gives him authority. In Daniel, this authority enables him to dispense God’s judgment. Here, in a fascinating twist, he has authority to dispense God’s forgiveness. (N.T. Wright, Mark for Everyone, 17).

Jesus by forgiving the man’s sins is claiming to be the one promised by God to battle against the forces of evil that conspire against God and His people.  Jesus is saying that He’s one with the authority of God, and this demands a response.

Well this episode certainly provoked a response among the scribes, or religious professionals.  They got the message and were questioning whether Jesus had the authority to do what he was claiming to do.  If this man’s problem was a sin-problem, then his friends should have taken him through the proper channels.  Forgiveness is something only God can offer, and if that was what this man needed, he needed to be brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, in front of the credentialed priests; not a wandering preacher and healer in his home?

Jesus does the unthinkable.  He doesn’t just claim this authority for himself, but he wields it.  He executes his authority and the result is the man who was once paralyzed, now picks up his mat and walks away.  Something greater than the Temple and someone greater than their priests is now here.

Mark tells us that “they were all amazed and glorified God” and said “We never say anything like this before!” (Mark 2:12).  That’s because no one and nothing like Jesus had ever been seen before. He is the long-awaited “one like a son of man” to oppose evil in all it’s forms, and do for God’s people what they could not do for themselves.

What Mattered Most to Jesus: Miracles or Message? (Mark 2:1-2)

Jesus Preaching to the Crowd

After traveling to the villages nearby (cf. Mark 1:38-39), Jesus returns to Capernaum and is welcomed by many people gathering at this home.  So many people in fact that there was not enough room for them and they spilled out past the doorway.

What do you think the crowds wanted?  What drove them to crowd and clamor around Jesus so much?  Jesus has begun his public ministry and is used to drawing a crowd.  Mostly what drew people were the healings and exorcisms he had performed.

So it’s funny that Jesus “preaches the word” to them.  This is a classic moment of Jesus having the crowd in the palm of his hand.  If he wanted more popularity, more attention, and more people flocking to him, why not simply do more healings, more exorcisms, more spectacular good works and miracles?  Why preach to them?

Jesus has been going around preaching the good news – the gospel – of the kingdom of God, so preaching was important.  And great miracles and good works accompanied it.  These miracles and good works were important, but they weren’t central.  What was central was that Jesus is a new kind of king, setting up his new kingdom and now everyone is being challenged to respond to this king.

The healings, the miracles, the exorcisms and the all-around good works were all bearing out the implications of this kingdom, but they were not in and of themselves the central or primary thing.  Jesus was.