Part 1 of The Man in the Mirror Remix
by Pat Morley
Produced by Man in the Mirror Ministries
Every now and then God is particularly good. Of course he’s always good, but every now and then his goodness is lavished in our lives in such a way that we immediately sense how undeserving we really are.
That was how I felt about 17 years ago when I stumbled upon a book that revolutionized my faith, ministry, and life. The book is entitled, The Micah Mandate, by George Grant. (Get this book!) It’s a marvelous, God-honoring study of what a biblical worldview is and how it should ignite those who hold it dear. Up to that point I had read every book around on the subject of Christian worldview, but those books seemed to only focus on the abstract and philosophical. Grant’s book expanded my world and broadened my horizons. He emphasized that worldview isn’t just something for the ivory towers of academia, but for all of life. Our worldview – our treasured faith – is for every sphere of life. I haven’t been the same since.
With that book's influence moving throughout my heart and mind, I began a weekly men’s discipleship ministry about a year later. My hope was that a few men would gather together around God’s Word and be saturated and transformed by it. I prayed that men would be renewed and revived. I deeply desired that biblical, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled disciples would be born – men who would change the world – beginning with themselves, then in and through their families, workplaces, churches, communities, the culture, and then perhaps, one day, the world. God honors such efforts. Reformation and revival happens in such ways.
My hope for the men’s ministry way back then, as it is today, was for God to penetrate the hearts, minds, and souls of our men with his Word, so thoroughly, that he would cultivate in their lives a framework (worldview) for viewing, interpreting, and applying their faith in every sphere of life. God has been pleased to work mightily in the lives of many of our men in such a way. Soli Deo Gloria.
Grace and Truth,
Far and away one of the best books I’ve ever read on child-rearing is Standing on the Promises, by Doug Wilson. If you were to ask to borrow my copy, I’m not sure it would do you any good because you probably wouldn’t be able to read the words from all my notes and markings.
However, if you are looking for a “how to” book to help you raise your children, this is not the book for you. While the book is not without practical application, Wilson is far less concerned with giving you twelve easy steps to parenting godly kids as he is with giving you a firm foundation upon which to do so. But, I hasten to add, the book is anything but abstract and impractical. It is encouraging, instructive, and even inspiring. I heartily recommend it to any and all parents who are seeking to raise godly children in this ungodly age.
Here are a few choice quotes from the first chapter that I think are worth passing on…
The Fountainhead of Culture
The biblical family is an instituted government, established by God at the very beginning of human history. The constitution for this government was written by him, and revealed to us in his Word.
Parents bring up their children to be colonists at the proper time, planting families of their own.
Consequently, each family is designed to be a culture – with a language, customs, traditions, and countless unspoken assumptions. God has made the world in such a way that children who grow up in the culture of the family are to be shaped and molded by it. The duty of the husband and father is to ensure that the shaping is done according tot he standards of the Word of God.
[A common problem among modern Christians] is that of forgetting the family is a culture at all, and allowing, by default, outside cultural influences to take primacy in how the children are shaped. When the biblical cultural mandate for the home is abandoned in the home, the vacuum will not be there for long.
By nature, children are malleable. They will either be shaped lawfully, by those commanded by God to perform the task, or they will be shaped unlawfully, by outsiders. But as children, they will be shaped.
This is one of the many great series by T.M. Moore at The Fellowship of Ailbe. Do yourself a favor and sign up for the various newsletters that are offered from this Kingdom-minded ministry. Moore is a wise and godly man who walks closely with the Lord and has much to offer the church today.
This series, on how Christians ought to understand and engage culture, is a helpful tool for all who want to represent Christ well and reach the world for his sake. These studies work well as either your own personal devotional resource or as study material for your small group… or both.
1.) Repudiate (Engaging Culture, Part 1)
2.) Appropriate (Engaging Culture, Part 2)
3.) Redirect (Engaging Culture, Part3)
4.) Transform (Engaging Culture, Part 4)
5.) Innovate (Engaging the Culture, Part 5)
6.) Three “Legs” (Engaging the Culture, Part 6)
7.) Three “Braces” (Engaging the Culture, Part 7)
Christians have often truncated the scope of Christian witness one way or the other, depending on the person or group with whom you are speaking. For example, sometimes witness is understood purely in terms of evangelism and missions. Other times, bearing witness for Christ is framed exclusively in terms of social action.
Instead, the church is at her best when she views and practices her witness as a both/and… not an either/or. It’s what George Grant called in his book by the same name, The Micah Mandate (a very, very important book in my life that did much to shape me).
Bearing a faithful witness for our King and his Kingdom involves introducing folks to our King and helping them come to know him in a meaningful, transforming, personal, and saving way. Yet it also involves representing our King in the midst of the lesser kingdoms of this world. He desires to rule and reign in every sphere of life and we must go out into the highways and byways to stand for… and even fight for… his mercy, justice, and peace, according to his way of doing things. Of course, all of this is to be done with great humility, and always in the context of loving our neighbors by serving them and sharing his truth with them.
At all times we are under his authority and are not at liberty to pursue our own agendas and preferences. This means we must dig into what his Word says. The Great Commandment, Great Commission, and Cultural Mandate all require loving, serving, and obeying our King for his glory and the good of our neighbors. This is our Christian witness. It’s what I’ve elsewhere referred to as Kingdom Discipleship.
May God help us clarify our focus and strengthen our faithfulness as we seek to bear witness to and for our King.
Grace and Truth,
2 Chronicles 7:14 - …if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The Lord was pleased with the Temple that Solomon had completed. God said he would take up residence there to receive sacrifices. However, God then mysteriously (seemingly) changed the tone of his words to Solomon by telling him that he may shut up the heavens to prevent rain from falling. Or, he may command locusts to devour the land. Or, he may even send a plague on “his own” people (v. 13).
It’s hard to understand where God was coming from here. All Israel had just celebrated the dedication of the Temple, the assembling of which, was a community project to say the least. And then we get those sobering words of verse 13.
Perhaps it was the nature of that (the Temple) which they were celebrating – the place from which God would receive sacrifices. The sin of a covenant people against the Holy One with whom such a covenant was made was no trifle to be winked at. It was a great offense. But God offered hope in verse 14. He declared that when these calamities befall his covenant people, there was (is) something they could do.
First, his people must humble themselves. There is no room for pride and self-dependence here. Instead, God’s people must, as it were, fall on their faces before God as an act of spiritual poverty and brokenness. They have neither strength nor wisdom in and of themselves. God is the Source for all of that and more.
They must also pray. Prayers of adoration, confession of sin, expressions of their helplessness, and complete dependence upon the sovereign God come to mind.
Next, they must seek the face of God. Imagine that great Day when we will behold the face of God. It is that face which we are to pursue in this life. This idea expresses our need to cultivate the character of God in our lives, trust him alone, follow his commands, seek his presence, and enter into intimate communion with him.
God also said that his people must turn from their wicked ways. The rest of the chapter gives us a glimpse of what those wicked ways look like: Turning away from and forsaking God and his decrees and commands, serving other gods, and worshipping them. This is wickedness in the sight of God and is why God might bring disaster on his own people (v. 22). God’s people must abandon such spiritual adultery at once.
But when they humble themselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from their wicked ways, God promises to hear them, forgive their sin, and heal their land.
Ours is a land in desperate need of healing. Whether it’s our culture, our denomination, our local church, or our family, there is much need for the healing power of God. But it will not come merely because we recognize the need. That’s a good first step, but much more is required – genuine change – change that results in humbling oneself before God and clinging to him alone. Saturating ourselves in prayer regarding our transgressions before God and the need for forgiveness and restoration is essential. Seeking the face of God – his will, his commands and decrees, his presence, his pleasure – should be our life’s pursuit. And biblical repentance is necessary – turning from our wicked ways and leaving them behind and turning in a Godward direction. Our prayer should certainly include pleading with God to enable us to do such.
We want to see our land and our lives forgiven and healed. But change (renovation) will have to first take place. Until then, we should expect the discipline of a loving and holy Father – one who loves us too much to let us continue on a destructive path, and who, therefore, will do much to bring us back to the right one. Because he is holy, he will never overlook our transgressions. He loves his own character and glory too much for that.
God calls us away from the gods of this age. He calls us back to obedience and submission to his Lordship and Word. And with that comes his promise to forgive us and heal our land. Thanks be to God – the great Promise-Maker and Promise-Keeper.
Grace and Truth,
Jesus develops two metaphors to give us a picture of how his disciples must – by the lives they lead – leave their stamp on the world. He calls us salt and light. This is what I call Kingdom Discipleship. But before I explain what that means, let me ask you some more questions.
* What if we, as Christians, lived as faithful followers of Jesus in every sphere of life?
* What if every member of our church family was involved in Bible studies and small groups – eagerly digging into God’s Word each week and building godly relationships with one another during the week?
* What would happen to our church and community, if our husbands at Southside loved their wives as Christ loves the Church?
* What might happen in Jacksonville if our church family prayed daily – begging God to fill us with his Spirit?
* What if we pleaded with God to give us a single-minded passion, love, and commitment to Christ and his Kingdom?
* What if all of our parents at Southside took seriously our responsibility to raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord – daily?
* What if all of the folks in our congregation worked with unmatched integrity in their workplaces? That everything they said, did, and thought at work was done to the glory of God?
* How might our community be transformed if everyone here this morning looked for ways to serve their neighbors – asking for nothing in return?
Beloved, I know that we do so much of this already, but can we all agree we have so much farther to go? Jesus has told us plainly that we’re to be salt and light to our world. And we’re going to really take a close look in the next two weeks about what that means.
But today I’m on a recruiting mission. I’m looking for a few good men and women and youth and children – I’m looking for Kingdom Disciples. Now – what’s a Kingdom Disciple? Well, a Kingdom Disciple isn’t simply someone who has a few right beliefs about God, Jesus, salvation, and the Bible. It’s not someone who’s only concerned about his or her personal salvation. It’s not someone who merely attends an occasional worship service or Bible study – or listens to Christian radio stations or says a blessing before lunch at a restaurant or gives to charities.
Those are all good things to be sure. They’re important things. But if that’s what our view of discipleship is, then we have a truncated understanding of what it means to follow Christ – and we limit our abilities to help transform our culture for Christ.
Chuck Colson writes in his book, How Now Shall We Live? –
“Right after signing the contract for this book, and while still plagued by writer’s remorse (was I really convinced that this book needed to be written?), my wife, Patty, and I visited old friends for a weekend and attended their local evangelical church, which is well known for its biblical preaching. I found the message solidly scriptural and well delivered. That is, until the pastor outlined for the congregation his definition of the church’s mission: to prepare for Jesus’ return through prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, and witnessing. In that instant, all lingering doubts about whether I should write this book evaporated.
Don’t get me wrong. We need prayer, Bible study, worship, fellowship, and witnessing. But if we focus exclusively on these disciplines – and if in the process we ignore our responsibility to redeem the surrounding culture – our Christianity will remain privatized and marginalized.
Turning our backs on the culture is a betrayal of our biblical mandate and our own heritage because it denies God’s sovereignty over all of life.”
Beloved, a Kingdom Disciple is a follower of Christ who understands that because Jesus is Lord over every sphere of life, our faith is therefore, a total, balanced, and integrated world and life view – and consequently, he or she lives in faithful response to that truth.
Or to put it another way: A Kingdom Disciple is the person who has discovered that to faithfully follow Jesus Christ, he or she must think Christianly before he or she can live Christianly. And the surest sign that he or she isn’t thinking Christianly – is if he or she isn’t living Christianly. In other words – Christianity – our faith – is for every sphere of life. This is what I mean by Kingdom Discipleship.
And in my opinion, it’s only this kind of radical, biblical discipleship that will transform our culture for Christ. This is nothing more and nothing less than what Christ has called us to be in our text this morning.
Now, I don’t want us to get overly hung-up on the term, Kingdom Disciple. But the idea I’m trying to communicate is a very big deal. The term may be new to you, but the idea is old – it’s not original by any means. It’s just biblical, historic, and classical Christianity.
You see, our faith is supposed to permeate every aspect of our existence – as individuals, as husbands and wives, as children and students, as co-workers, and church members and neighbors and citizens and so on. The Dutch theologian, pastor and Prime Minister, Abraham Kuyper put it this way. He said:
There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”
Beloved, what if we lived our lives as though that were true – as though we really believed it with every fiber of our being? Do you? John Wesley and George Whitefield did. It’s been said by many historians that England was well on its way to its own bloody revolution, like France before it, were it not for these men and the gospel they preached and lived.
They preached a gospel that took in the totality of life. John Wesley screamed from the rooftops that Christianity is a social religion. Yes, it absolutely deals with an individual’s personal relationship with Christ. That’s essential. But that personal relationship must bear fruit corporately – socially. The church is a covenant community – not a village of hermits. “Lone Ranger Christianity” is a contradiction in terms. We must be here for one another, and as we are, we can transform a culture.
The revivals of the early Methodists produced not only spiritual revival, but brought forth political, educational, and economic reform in England. Lives were so completely and radically changed by the gospel of Christ that, as I said, a violent revolution was avoided. Beloved, this is our heritage – not only as Christians but also as Methodists.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 28:18 –
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Paul says in Colossians 1:15-17:
He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Can there be any doubt that these texts, and the countless others like them, teach us that Jesus Christ is the Lord over the entire universe. And if he is, what does that mean to us? What will that truth look like in our lives? How can that truth transform, not only individual lives, but families, churches, workplaces, neighborhoods and communities, a culture, a world? We’ll begin taking a look at that next week as we investigate what the salty salt of Kingdom Discipleship looks like.
Grace and Truth,