God Save Me

God save me

...from roast beef without horseradish
...from sushi without wasabi
...from goat without curry
...from roti without spice
...from thirst without water
...from bread without gratitude.

God save me

...from nights without sleep
...from mornings without wonder
...from tears without comfort
...from grief without hope.

God save me

...from busyness without purpose
...from weeks without Sabbath
...from life without margin
...from money without generosity.

God save me

...from romance without commitment
...from commitment without romance
...from family without laughter
...from laughter without love.

God save me

...from law without grace
...from grace without obedience
...from sin without cleansing.

God save me

...from leadership without servanthood
...from ministry without prayer
...from preaching without power
...from church planting without evangelism
...from churches with a doctrine of grace but no culture of grace.

God save me

...from discipleship without suffering
...from praise from people but not from God
...from a life lived without hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant”
...from living for any other purpose than His eternal glory.

God save me from anything less than grace-fueled love for God and neighbor.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

The Gospel Coalition Ontario Conference

Registration is now open.

3 Ways Leaders Can Maintain an Exercise Routine (and Why They Should)

Here are three ways to embed exercise into your life.

The Most Ignored Commandment

Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.

How Successful People Work Less—and Get More Done

Successful people know the importance of shifting gears on the weekend to relaxing and rejuvenating activities.

Gospel Irony: When the Gospel Prevails in Unlikely Places

We take courage in this: the gospel prevails in unlikely places.

God Owes Me Nothing

Here’s what I often forget: God owes me nothing. I could be the best disciple or pastor, and God still owes me nothing. In fact, the opposite is true: I owe God everything. It’s a privilege just to serve him.

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Why do I live like God owes me something? Could it be that I’m really serving myself when I think I’m serving God?

In Luke 17, Jesus tells a story about servants who work hard but receive no thanks. Jesus concludes his story by giving us an important lesson: “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:9-10).

If we’re not careful, we will think that God is stingy and ungrateful. That’s not true at all. God is anything but stingy, and he repeatedly promises rewards for those who serve him.

Instead, Jesus is setting us free from thinking that we earn through our service. The moment that pride enters our service to God, we begin to serve ourselves rather than him. God isn’t stingy; God is good in preventing us from ruining our ministries with a sense of entitlement. He’s injecting grace into our service and knocking us off the earning treadmill.

“Though we have no claim upon him for a reward,” wrote Charles Simeon, “he will requite our services; nor shall the smallest attempt to honor him be overlooked.”

I owe him everything; he owes me nothing. My service is never about earning, and God desires to protect me from myself even in how I serve him.

I wonder how this would change my life if I really understood it.

Christianity in Canada

If you want a picture of the state of Christianity in Canada, consider the following:

  • Weekly religious service attendance in Canada is in a free fall from 67% in 1946 to 11% in 2013.*
  • The categories “never attend a religious service” or “have no religion” are the fastest growing categories between 1996 and 2013. In fact, they are the only categories that are growing.
  • 24% in Canada claim no religion, compared to 10% who identify as evangelical — the latter number being one that would be unimaginably high in my community.
  • 3% read the Bible daily. An additional 5% read the Bible once a week or more.
  • 66% generally support the legalization of euthanasia.
  • According to sociologist Reginald Bibby, immigration accounts for most of the growth in our churches.
  • You’re more likely to meet a Buddhist than a Baptist in Toronto.

Toronto used to be called Toronto the good, the city of churches. Now many of those churches are being converted into condos and lofts. Nobody would say that the church is much of an influence on society anymore.

But that’s not the whole picture.

I’ve never met so many church planters in Canada before. I’ve never seen so many denominations working together to advance the gospel. I’ve never seen networks like C2C start with a burden for revival, and a lack of concern for who gets the credit. Then there are the pastors who are doing the hard work of revitalizing churches that were started in a very different context.

I attended a small meeting yesterday at Exponential, an annual church planting conference in Florida. The meeting was organized by Church Planting Canada. Exponential usually has a very American flavor to it — not a bad thing, but very different from Canada. But yesterday it took on a Canadian feel as church planters and network leaders met to talk about what God is doing in Canada. Though the spiritual climate is challenging, and our numbers are small, I sensed optimism in the room, and a hunger for God to do something new.

Canadian Church Planters bonus session at Exponential

Canadian Church Planters bonus session at Exponential

Pray for Canada. God is doing something. Someone yesterday compared it to the small raincloud that Elijah saw when he prayed for rain (1 Kings 18:44). It’s small, but maybe there’s more coming.

I hope to see it in my lifetime.


*The stat about 1946 church attendance came from George Gallup, as reported by Reginald Bibby in this article (PDF). However, it seems unbelievably high.

 

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Building a Church Planting Culture in Your Church

When a culture of planting emerges, your biggest challenge will become where to plant next.

8 Lies Christians Believe about Success

At some point in my life, Christianity had become a magic wand instead of a humble posture.

What Do We Do When Everything We’ve Worked For Seems To Fail?

How would he cope when the romantic ideal he had pictured in his brain did not match the heartbreaking, daily reality of life on the ground?

4 Things I Learned at Dinner with Church Leaders from Denmark

I was anxious to learn about how evangelicals are witnessing to the gospel in a country that is much further down the road of secularization than the United States.

Don’t be a Commentary Junkie

While they can be terrific as a reference, commentaries are a poor substitute for studying the Bible yourself.

Do Your Sermon Illustrations Help or Hurt? Five Major Pitfalls to Avoid

Sometimes illustrations can do more harm than good. Here are some of the major illustration pitfalls to avoid...

Does the Bible Contradict Itself?

what do I do with all the apparent contradictions in the Bible? Certainly there seems to be contradictions.

Will We See God?

We risk minimizing our need for Jesus if we believe that one day we will be glorified sufficiently to look at God without his mediation.