Just “Good Enough”? (by Daniel Henderson)

This post by Pastor Daniel Henderson struck a chord with me this week. I read it a couple days after confessing to my congregation a deep desire to lead them into the kind of discipleship that would lead to “abiding in Him”, connected to the vine, and really producing fruit. It seems like the main struggle for many Christians is not running away from God and into all manner of sin and rebellion, but rather resigning ourselves to a kind of faith that just scratches the surface of things but really never delivers on Jesus’ promise to give us “life to the full” (John 10:10).  Read below and let’s not settle for cheap, old wine! -JB

I remember hearing many years ago that “to be satisfied with yourself is a sure sign that your forward progress is about to stop.”  We all need a sense of holy dissatisfaction about our current status, our influence for Christ, and our potential in serving His mission.
In Luke 5:37-39, Jesus addresses the Pharisees who questioned why Jesus did not conform to the man-made religious standards of the day.  He responded, “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.'” I like the translation of the New American Standard here: “The old is good enough ” (v. 39).
Stuck in “Good Enough”
It is so easy to get stuck in the “good enough” rut.  When we simply go along with the way things have always been, accepting what others have always said, and doing what we have always done, we’ve likely lost our true forward progress.  It is time to take a fresh look at the radical life of Jesus, the extreme needs of the world around us, and the potential of the Spirit within us and pray for a deliverance from the “good enough” mentality.
The work of the Gospel is the new wine Jesus speaks of.  The word of the Gospel is living, active, dynamic, and relevant to every generation.  Yet, the old wineskins of mindless routines and long-standing traditions can inhibit and waste the work of the new wine.
Why We Settle for “Good Enough”
We all tend to be creatures of habit.  We can also be plagued by fear, laziness, and selfishness to the degree that we are not open to the new adventure of His calling on our lives, whether it is the daily call to live fully for Him or a new chapter that He is opening before us.  It is easy to cling to the familiar, comfortable, and functional rather than surrender to the Spirit’s prompting to embrace the biblical, the effective, and the best choices of an adventuring and influential faith.
Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy, who had settled into a “good enough” mentality, no longer driven by the fire of a clear calling and the sufficiency of the spiritual gifts God had placed in him.  Paul told his son in the faith, “Stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).  Literally, Paul commands Timothy to “fan into flame” the smoldering coals of his spiritual passion and to reject the fear that was keeping him in the gray twilight of “good enough.”  Like Timothy, we must affirm the power of God that is able to energize us for unprecedented, supernatural impact.  We must surrender to His love that compels us to get past ourselves and give our lives away to others in sustained, sacrificial service.  We must submit to the sound mind (or discipline) of the Holy Spirit to keep us clear-headed and resolute to finish our race with perseverance and passion.
Moving Beyond “Good Enough”
When I see the things Jesus did to prepare His very inadequate disciples to become the catalysts for world transformation, I think of five words: Look, Pray, Receive, Go, and Finish.  These ideas can move us beyond  a “good enough” lifestyle.
  • Look – The disciples, like so many of us, tended to go through the routines of their day without seeing the kingdom opportunities available to them.  For example, in John 4 they were busy taking care of lunch and fixating on superficial issues while Jesus reached into the heart of a Samaritan woman at a well, then called her entire village to encounter His truth.  In this moment He turned to His disciples with the challenge, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35-36).  When we fail to see the needs around us with spiritual eyes and kingdom vision, we are happy with a “good enough” lifestyle.
  • Pray – In Matthew 9:36-38 Jesus saw the crowds like sheep without a shepherd – scattered and weary.  From His heart of compassion, He challenged His disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into the harvest.  This is similar to the 10 days His followers spent in an upper room before the Day of Pentecost, praying prior to the great spiritual harvest.  Prayer is a key to preparing our hearts and aligning our wills to His in order to step through the open doors of opportunity.
  • Receive – Before Jesus sent His disciples out on short-term assignments, or to launch the church in Acts 2, He gave them His power to move out of their comfort zones into the battle zones of high-impact ministry. Today, He calls us to abide in Him (John 15:4-8) to receive the sufficiency of His life in us so that He may accomplish His work through us.
  • Go – When “good enough” no longer attracts our hearts, we must then go into uncharted territory to share the Good News of His life and message.  Back in Matthew 9 & 10 we see Jesus sending the disciples out, after they prayed and received His provision.  His final commission compels us to keep going into all the world (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20), which is a calling we must obey every day, right where we are.
  • Finish – Jesus calls us to the “uttermost parts of the earth,” signifying the magnitude and scope of our calling.  As long as you are breathing, your mission is not complete.  “Good enough” isn’t.  As Paul said, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
New Day, New Wine, New Wineskins
Every day of our lives, we must reject the “good enough” attitude.  With each new day, we enjoy the new wine of His presence and purpose.  We must willingly adopt new wineskins to deliver the Good News to the world around us.  As we look, pray, receive, go, and finish we will live a life to His glory and someday receive the reward He has prepared for those who keep pressing on as long as they have breath.

Continue reading Just “Good Enough”? (by Daniel Henderson)

QUOTABLES: Francis Chan

“I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions. It is easy to use the phrase “God’s will for my life” as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It’s much less demanding to think about God’s will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next ten minutes. It’s safer to commit to following Him someday instead of this day.”

― Francis ChanForgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit

On Christ the Solid Rock We Stand

Jeremy back in 2010 dreaming of a future church. Lonely and scared…but choosing faith.

Over 5 Years ago I sat on this rock feeling extremely lonely and scared. God called Keri and I to start a church in Mound, and I often came to pour out my doubts to the LORD in prayer on this rock.

Then one night I heard God speak Matthew 16 directly to me, “Jeremy, upon this rock I will build my church in Mound, and not even the gates of Hell will be able to stop it.” I needed to be reminded that Jesus was going to build his church — not me. :)  Feeling a lot lighter, I walked away and set to work in doing my part. God did the rest.

This past Sunday on our all-church prayer walk this place of doubt and loneliness became a place of joyful community and worship as we celebrated God’s faithfulness to His promise (see top photo). Keri and I obeyed God, stepped out in faith, and God made good on his promise to build (and He’s still building) the most magnificent church!

Thanks to all those MainStreeters who have been been a direct answer to our prayers and who have helped God form this rock solid church. May we always stay anchored on Christ our Rock, our firm foundation.

Read some journal posts I wrote a few years ago about this significant rock here.

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, 

All other ground is sinking sand.”

Jeremy sharing the story of the rock this past Sunday.

Upon This Rock

Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

Jesus made a staggering claim when he reprimanded a bunch of religious scholars saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39) This is just one of many instances that reveal that Jesus either was the Son of God as he claimed or a deranged ego-maniac. No mere mortal in their right mind would ever make such a claim. Imagine if I told my church congregation this Sunday that all the Bible studies they’ve ever been to were a waste of time unless they ultimately ended by showing how all the Bible passages really point to me!

Later, after his resurrection, he spoke with a couple of folks on the Road to Emmaus and made a similar claim about himself as the focal point of all the scriptures: “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). 

So, Jesus himself believed that his life and ministry, his death and resurrection, and all the truths about his life can be found throughout the entire Bible. I recently came upon the following list of exactly how Christ can be found in every book of the Bible. Enjoy below!

Continue reading Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

QUOTABLES: Dietrich Bonhoeffer – 12 Essential Quotes

bonhoefferDietrich Bonhoeffer’s courage and determination and rootedness in Scripture is one of the reasons I didn’t give up during the difficult times in starting a new church. I was depleted and discouraged and lonely above all. I found a true friend and hero in Bonhoeffer. I read Eric Metaxis’ biography at the time and was deeply inspired to keep fighting the good fight.

Here’s 12 thought worthy quotes compiled in a Relevant Magazine article. Enjoy!

On Silence

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

On Judging Others

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
― The Cost of Discipleship

On Gratitude

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
Letters and Papers from Prison

On Injustice

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

On ‘Defending’ the Bible

“Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God’s word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity.”

On Real Morality

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

On Spirituality

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

On Fellowship

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.” —Life Together

On Proof of God

“A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol”

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

On Peace

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”

On God’s Love

“God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world.”
— Meditations on the Cross
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/books/12-essential-bonhoeffer-quotes#KXptHGfcxSTgkMG6.99

Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)

The next time someone makes you feel guilty for taking a much needed vacation, consider sharing with them the following case for biblical rest and vacation. (Note: The following make the case for both a weekly day off (sabbath rest) and occasional extended vacations (a week or two)).

We are a mess without sabbath. I think sabbath rest is largely an unAmerican practice. America prides itself in hard work, ambition, self-determination and getting ahead. “The early bird gets the worm” describes the folk wisdom of our founding Father’s better than Jesus’ invitation to “Consider the lilies, they neither toil nor spin, and God takes care of them…” Compared to other countries around the world, Americans work longer days, take less vacation days, bring our work home more, and value “getting ahead” and “climbing the career ladder” more than most. How is this working for us? We’re richer than most but also lead the world in mental health issues, unhappiness, discontentment, broken marriages and dysfunctional families (often due to placing career advancement over family priorities). Are we working ourselves to death? Are we not busier than we’ve ever been as a society and least content?

We were hardwired for sabbath. Built into our DNA (and the entire created order) is the need for a healthy, balanced work-rest rhythm. God worked for 6 days and then rested on the 7th. We are hardwired to do the same. There are times to cultivate the fields, plant and harvest; and then there are time we are to let the ground lie fallow and rest. Our minds, bodies, souls and spirits require the same fallow time of healing and rest. We are human beings, not human doings. Our value and worth is defined by our creator who made us in His Image; our self-worth and value is not defined by how much we accomplish, how well we perform, and whether or not we met our daily quota at work. Do we believe this? If so, does our actual behavior line up with this belief?

God modeled sabbath. Again, if God chose to rest a full day after working 6, then what makes us think we can outwork God? Why do we think we can go 20 days without a sabbath, when God modeled a 6 + 1 rhythm? Jesus also modeled healthy boundaries and restorative times with God alone. He didn’t heal every person who came up to him. He didn’t go to every city that awaited his message. He had limits and knew them.  Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 2)

Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)

I’m currently trying to enjoy some time away from work — for me that means church related stuff and ministry situations. My email ‘Out of the Office’ notice is on, and my voicemail alerts people that I am not taking calls.

I asked our leadership team not just for a vacation (which typically means family time, traveling, etc.) but for a “spiritual renewal leave” which I define as time away from day-to-day tasks (sermon prep, meetings) and ministering to people (a drain for a high introvert) to engage fully in things that are truly life-giving and soul-recharging. Since I’m a high introvert who is constantly surrounded by people, this means spending a lot of time alone.

I’m largely spending my time reading 2 or 3 good books (both pastor-related and just for fun), reading those books on the boat or while sipping a drink by a pool/beach, doing some writing to stimulate my brain muscles and spark fresh inspiration for future sermon series, and, of course, playing some golf and doing some lawn work. I also try to catch up with a friend or two outside my normal church social circle and possibly browse a guitar store or two. Continue reading Thus saith the Lord, “Take a Vacation!” (Pt. 1)

PARABLES: Let’s Party 4 (Matt. 22:1-14)

11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12 He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. 13 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’  14 “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”

To summarize the main thrust of this allegorical parable, Douglas Hare writes:

“This is an allegory of salvation history. The king is clearly God; the wedding eeast or his son represents the messianic banquet (cf. Rev. 19:7-9). Those sent to invite the guests are God’s prophets, including Christian missionaries. The reference to the mistreatment of the king’s slaves recalls the tradition concerning Israel’s violent treatment of God’s prophets. The burning of the rebel’s city seems to be an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E., an event that Christians regarded as God’s punishment upon Israel for its rejection of Jesus and the gospel. The invitation offered to others, “both bad and good,” signifies the Gentile mission of the church” (Hare, Interpretation Commentary, 251).

Now, near the end, we find the banquet hall full and a surprising punishment for one guest who failed to wear proper wedding attire. What’s going on here?  Didn’t this poor person just get grabbed last minute off the street?  Is not the hasty last minute invitation of the king to blame for his not having time to go home and dress up? Here we must remember that we are not dealing with an ordinary story but an allegory.

So, what is the spiritual truth behind image of the wedding garment?  What does it represent? Continue reading PARABLES: Let’s Party 4 (Matt. 22:1-14)

Reports from the intersection of faith & everyday life .


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