The best and final gift of the gospel is that we gain Christ. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8). This is the all-encompassing gift of God’s love through the gospel – to see and savor the glory of Christ forever.
In place of this, we have turned the love of God and the gospel of Christ into a divine endorsement of our delight in many lesser things, especially the delight in our being made much of. The acid test of biblical God-centeredness – and faithfulness to the gospel – is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever? Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to your worth, or as a way to enjoy God’s worth forever? Is God’s glory in Christ the foundation of your gladness?
From the first sin in the Garden of Eden to the final judgment of the great white throne, human beings will continue to embrace the love of God as the gift of everything but himself. Indeed there are ten thousand gifts that flow from the love of God. The gospel of Christ proclaims the news that he has purchased by his death ten thousand blessings for his bride. But none of these gifts will lead to final joy if they have not first led to God. And not one gospel blessing will be enjoyed by anyone for whom the gospel’s greatest gift was not the Lord himself. (John Piper in God Is The Gospel)
– It has been 2 months since posting a Monday Musings or even a regular blog post…I would offer an excuse but I’m guessing “the dog ate my blogpost” would probably not go over too well!
– We have some exciting things going on at North River Church and I’m grateful to pastor such a great group of people whose primary desire is to love Jesus and make him known.
– So far this year (through July) we have baptized 24 people and 46 have partnered with us as members (with more ready join). This is incredible! God is working!
– I only have one sermon left in our Joseph series. I think it has been a great series for our church. If you would like to listen you can here: www.gonorthriver.org/sermons
– On August 21st I will be delivering a “State of the Church” message where I will focus on casting vision for where God is leading us. I’m excited about what God has done over the last 7 months but I’m even more excited about what I believe he will do!
– I’m also pumped about having a candidate for our Worship & Discipleship Pastor position coming in view of a call on the 21st. He is fantastic and I can’t wait for our church to meet him and hear his heart for ministry.
– It is fun to be building a team to do ministry with at NRC.
– We are continuing to look for a Family Pastor and have had some great interviews recently. I love the next generation and the thought of having someone on our team pouring his life into our teenagers and kids is exciting!
– I have been slacking the past several weeks but finally got out and went for a run this morning. It felt good. Exercise is such a vital part of maintaining my sanity!
– Our girls start school on Wednesday so the next couple of days will be filled with last minute shopping, open houses, and final preparations before getting back to a more fixed routine.
– It is hard to believe our baby will be in Kindergarten this year! She is growing up! We will also have a 3rd grader. I’m excited that they will be at the same school.
– It is finally August…which means we are less than 1 month away from college football starting! I can’t wait to plop down on the couch and eat boiled peanuts while watching college football.
– That is all for now. I need to finish up a couple of things before heading to K5 open house later this afternoon.
– We had an incredible day yesterday as we celebrated the next generation.
– We dedicated 7 of our kids to the Lord yesterday!
– I love to see parents who are passionate to raise their kids to know and love Jesus.
– Parents have more influence in their kids’ lives than anyone else.
– I’m so passionate about this that I wrote a book about it: Parent-Driven Discipleship.
– We also recognized one high school senior yesterday who graduated.
– He is an incredible guy and I can’t wait to see how God will use him in the future.
– God has definitely blessed North River Church with a tremendous amount of kids and teens.
– This is a great blessing and a great responsibility.
– In media news…Clint Harp (the woodworker on Fixer Upper) has a pilot episode coming out called Against The Grain (June 14th at 10:30pm on DIY).
– An entire show about woodworking…I’m pumped about this!
– Speaking of woodworking…I’m almost done with the coffee table I started building a week or so ago.
– I need to figure out what the next project will be!
– Yesterday, I decided to begin the B90x Bible reading program after someone I follow on Instagram mentioned they had done it several times.
– It’s simply (in terms of a plan…not necessarily completing it) because you read through the Bible in 90 days.
– I have completed 2 of 90 days so far.
– Feel free to ask me how it is going and send some encouragement!
– Maybe I should do P90x at the same time…
– I missed posting yesterday since it was a holiday but figured I would catch up today with Monday Musings.
– We had a fun Memorial Day weekend and even had the chance to go to the beach after church on Sunday.
– We love living here in Southwest Florida, especially since we are only about 30 minutes from the beach.
– You should definitely make your way down here for a visit if you are looking for a place to vacation. Two of the top 10 beaches in the US are 30 minutes from our house.
– I have a fellow pastor buddy who lives down here that uses this hashtag #ilivewhereyouvacation.
– I’m still working through the book of Romans during my morning time with the Lord.
– It is so rich and I’m itching to preach through it one day soon.
– Speaking of preaching, I will begin a series this Sunday through Genesis 37-50.
– We will look at Joseph’s story and how God used him in spite of terrible circumstances.
– I think we struggle to see at times how God can use our struggles to shape us and that he can use us in spite of our struggles.
– I’m praying for this series to be one that encourages and challenges our church.
– This past week I finally jumped on board the Instagram bandwagon.
– You can follow me @mkennedyjr.
– Last Friday I started building a coffee table out of wood from my great grandmother’s house (the house was built right after the Civil War). There are pictures on my Instagram account.
– I love woodworking. Since I spend most of my time working with my mind it is good to work with my hands.
– I also dropped off some of that same wood to a pen turner here locally so that he can turn a fountain pen for me. I got the kit from Penn State Industries.
– I’m really excited about getting this pen back!
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (Dallas Willard)
I have yet to meet a Christian that does not have a desire to grow spiritually. In fact, I have experienced the exact opposite…they want to grow and they want to know God’s Word more deeply. They desire an authentic and vibrant relationship with the Lord. They want to see it change their lives.
Yet, it seems like such a struggle…
I think the above quote by Dallas Willard is the key to understanding the struggle. It may seem too simplistic but it is reality. The frenetic pace of our lives coupled with a desire for instant gratification hinders spiritual growth and health.
Let me explain:
(1) The frenetic pace of our lives. For whatever reason we have adopted the mentality that we must be doing something every second of every day. We wake up and turn on the news or pull-up our Facebook app. We get in the car to head to work or school and immediately turn on the radio. We have practices to get our kids to and workouts that need to get done. Dinner has to be cooked or picked up. Homework…TV shows…work email…and the list goes on and on. We have all but eliminated any opportunity to spend time in the Word or in prayer. The time is there but we have so scheduled every second of every day with things (some are very good things) that we have no time for the most important thing…cultivating a relationship with our Savior. Hurry is killing us spiritually!
(2) The desire for instant gratification. Growing spiritually takes time. There is no quick fix for spiritual growth in the same way there is no quick fix for weightloss. If you want to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in over an extended amount of time. The same holds true if we want to grow spiritually…it takes extended time in God’s Word over a number of years. And here is the secret no one may tell you…you never arrive! The Christian life is a journey. It is a race…a race that ends when we meet our Savior face to face (and ultimately, physical death is really just the beginning!). We are not running a 50 yard dash. We are running a marathon and marathons take time to complete. They also take determination…a willingness to put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. Our only hope to grow spiritually is to daily put one foot in front of the other with the Spirit’s help. You can’t hurry this process.
– Yesterday was a great day at North River Church and also a tough one because of the sermon text.
– We covered 1 Peter 4:12-19 in a message entitled “Suffering As A Christian.”
– We often don’t talk much about suffering but we all experience suffering as believers.
– The issue is not if we will experience suffering but how we will respond when we do experience suffering.
– I’m thankful for a church that is hungry for God’s Word and willing to receive it even when it may be difficult.
– Speaking of our church…the local paper ran an article about North River this past Saturday. Exciting days are ahead!
– I came across this quote in Soul Keeping by John Ortberg…In this book he quotes Dallas Willard who said: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”
– That is so convicting!
– The enemy of true communion with God is hurry. It is why God tells us to “be still” and know he is God (Psalm 46:10).
– One of the neat things I have gotten into recently is writing with a fountain pen (I know a throwback to the early/mid 1900’s).
– To my knowledge I have never used a fountain pen but Janie gave me one for Christmas this past year.
– I have started using it and I’m hooked. It is such a fun experience!
– I’m writing this Monday Musings with a silver Pilot Metropolitan. This is a great entry level pen and I promise you will be bit by the fountain pen bug if you use one.
– Little did I know, there are a number of forums on the world wide web for fountain pen enthusiasts. Chief among them www.fountainpennetwork.com. What a neat site!
– I confess I may have spent a few hours reading through some of these forums and I may have spent a few hours Saturday scanning thrift and antique shops looking for some antique fountain pens.
– I did score a vintage Sheaffer fountain pen (late 1950’s – early 1960’s) that needs a bit of work. I think this will be a fun hobby.
– If you happen to have some fountain pens around be sure to ink them up to use or pass them along to me! By the way if you have a Mont Blanc (the holy grail of fountain pens) that is sitting in the drawer you should be ashamed!🙂
– We had another great service yesterday at North River Church. God continues to move!
– I started working through the book of Romans this morning in my personal time with the Lord.
– Paul’s passion for the gospel is so convicting and so encouraging.
– Yesterday, Our small group talked about why we struggle to share the gospel with others and how we should weave the gospel into our normal everyday conversations.
– Paul did this. It did not matter where he was (prison, temple, shipwrecked, snake bitten, etc.). He constantly shared the gospel.
– What is even more encouraging…people came to faith in Christ constantly!
– Paul wrote in Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
– The power is not in our persuasiveness. It is in the gospel. We just simply need to share it! God will do the rest.
– I finished reading a novel last week (David Baldacci’s The Camel Club). It was good.
– I’m also working through The Pastor as Scholar & The Scholar as Pastor (John Piper & D.A. Carson). It is a neat autobiographical sketch by both Piper and Carson.
– Up next on the reading list is John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping and Kevin Leman’s Be The Dad She Needs You To Be.
– I have always heard that leaders are readers. I want to keep growing as a leader so that means I must keep reading!
– I’m continually blown away by what God is doing at North River Church!
– We are seeing new people every week.
– We baptized 24 last Sunday.
– We have had new families join and more who have indicated they want to join.
– We have paid down the land note by over $100,000 so far this year and I’m convinced it will be paid in full by December (only $63,000 to go). All the while, overall giving continues to increase.
– I can’t wait to see what God is going to do moving forward!
– We had the joy of taking our girls to the beach last Friday. They had a blast and it was good to enjoy this Florida sunshine.
– Speaking of our girls, we had the joy of celebrating their mom and my wife yesterday. Janie is my hero and a terrific mom. It’s a joy to do life with her.
– I also have a great mom so it was fun wishing her a Happy Mother’s Day too.
– I finished The Camel Club by David Baldacci yesterday afternoon. It was great and reading fiction does my heart good!
– I’m also reading Monday’s With My Old Pastor by Jose Luis Navajo. It has been good for my soul.
– We only have 3 more sermons in our 1 Peter series and I’m looking ahead at what we will work through in the summer. I’m thinking about a series through the life of Joseph (A Cup of Joe).
– We usually work through books of the Bible but right now I have a couple of more topical preaching series racing through my mind…Rooted (A series on the foundations of what we believe as Christians) and Battle Ready (A series on spiritual warfare and the armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-20).
– This afternoon will be spent planning the preaching calendar and gathering the necessary resources to move forward in preparing to preach. I love planning!
– I received an email from Energion Publications yesterday detailing how many Parent-Driven Discipleship books have been sold through the 1st quarter of 2016.
– The total is 82 (3 of which were Kindle versions). I hope the book has been helpful and if you have not yet picked up your copy you can do so here.
– I’m sure I have another book in me but I haven’t taken much time to work on it lately.
– We had a great day at North River Church yesterday for Palm Sunday. The worship was sweet.
– Loved finishing up our sermon series “What If…” yesterday. I have been challenged greatly and I think it has been good for our church. What if we prayed, loved, and gave? I fully believe God wants to do more in and through us for his glory.
– If you missed this series you can listen here.
– One of our church members gave me a UGA Bulldogs tervis yesterday. It has been fun getting picked on for being a DAWG fan here in Gator country.
– Speaking of the Dawgs…is it fall yet? I’m ready for college football to return!!
– Our girls are out this week for Spring Break and my wife has planned some fun outings. I plan to join them for several of these. There is no greater joy than getting to spend time with them!
– This coming Sunday is Easter and it is usually a big day for most churches. Many people who do not normally attend will be at churches this week. It is important to think through different aspects of the service in light of this reality.
– I will be starting a new series this week through 1 Peter. The first 12 verses of 1 Peter are some of the richest verses when you consider what they say about Jesus’ resurrection. Everything hinges on the resurrection.
I know that title may cause you to scratch your head but it is true. There will be no Savior in Washington regardless of what the political candidates promise.
They do not have all the answers. In fact, they don’t even have all the questions. It is really quite an interesting predicament.The nature of politics is tricky. The name of the game is to over-promise and under-deliver. Truthfully, it doesn’t really matter if they deliver at all. They are salespeople. Every candidate is attempting to sell the American public on a particular vision for the future.
One side is selling a robust economy and strong national defense. The other is selling free college tuition and accessible health care. Neither is telling the truth. Remember, the name of the game is to make promises…not keep them.
I enjoy politics. I will vote in this presidential election and on election night I will be watching the election results with great anticipation. But, my faith does not rest in any particular candidate.
You see, I know that none of these candidates will be America’s Savior. I’m not at all saying that the election does not matter. It does matter and you should vote.
But, I am encouraging you not to get so wrapped up in this election season and lose sight of reality. There is only one Savior. He promised and he delivered on his promises. His name is Jesus.