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Turn and Look Down, Up, and Ahead

Two passages in Proverbs 1 stuck out to me today:

“…these men lie in wait for their own blood; they set an ambush for their own lives.”

“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the markets she raises her voice; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out… whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

This points us ahead to the Gospel of Mark where Mark is notorious for URGENCY. Everything is “immediately this” and “immediately that”. Mark gets right to the point in the first chapter and quotes Jesus Christ saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.”

Jesus does this after John the Baptist was arrested. He came promptly into Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God, and saying “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.” John had been proclaiming that Jesus would be coming and that God’s people must repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. What is repentance but a turning in word and deed, a whole turning of the whole person from sin and selfishness and lonely selfish attempts at taking from others for self. Don’t we tend in our natural state to go through our days in selfishness and greed, taking from others relationally instead of giving and receiving?

Dear God, we repent of our sinful self-seeking. We bow before Your holiness and greatness. We repent and we believe in Christ as our Savior, Christ as the one Who makes us at one with God, united with Christ into the relationship of grace available to us through Christ’s death.

There is no way that we can see Gospel community developing in a holistic and healthy, integrated way unless we TURN. As we turn as a community from self-seeking and LOOK, God gives us eyes for what He has for us. He is our obsession. He is the One to Whom we look for all satisfaction and contentment. In Him we have life. Why would we look anywhere else? As we LOOK DOWN and see our sinfulness and self-orientation, God gives us hope in His Word that we can, because of Christ’s death for us, LOOK UP to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith in Him. As we behold Him in our mind’s eye, as we look upon Him through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we behold the One Who gives us hope in this life and hope for the eternity that awaits us… may we live lives that reflect where our hearts are. May we LOOK AHEAD to seeing Christ one great Day in Heaven. As we look ahead to seeing Him and being with our Great Savior, we more and more come to be able to LOOK AHEAD even in this life, even to enduring the hardships of this life, even to loving those in our lives and yet to be in our lives.

Let’s LOOK AHEAD to Jesus Christ, and may this Gospel of Christ, this true story of His redeeming of our souls for eternal satisfaction and praise of Him, may this looking ahead give us courage to LOOK AHEAD at what we are called to do with courage.

I had the joy of meeting with my dear brothers in Christ at Revive Cafe in Tuolumne again this morning. Our group fluctuates from ten to close to thirty guys every Friday from about 6am to 7:30am or so. My wife and I just agreed that I can spend my Fridays till about 10am there at the Cafe. Friends, it is amazing what is going on in that little city/town. People are amped! Believers are mingling and stirring, encouraging one another in the Lord, sharing Christ with anyone who will listen. It’s an environment of genuine renewal. I’d say revival, but it’s more than what we think of as revival. Revival should be a good word, but we have adulterated it unfortunately. We have come to use this word for seeing people say a sinner’s prayer in an emotions-packed context and then not get follow-up care. The beauty of 24 hour ministry, 24 hour care and encouragement, community built up to feed and encourage the believer and draw the non-believer into that sweet fellowship… the beauty of this is that this is what Christ has called us to. Making disciples of Jesus Christ means being openly and honestly a follower of Jesus ourselves, unashamed to speak openly of our joy and hope in the Savior. As we do this, and as we draw others into this genuine living out of the reality of Christ, we build momentum among one another. We start to feed off of each other’s enthusiasm for Christ and hope for change. We begin to hope for change as a community, not just as “self-improvement individuals”. I hope this makes sense.

As a group of men from various churches, we prayed earnestly for marriages in particular in our county. It has even come to the attention of county officials that marriages are in particular danger in our county. It’s alarming, but not defeating. We are seeing brightness, hope, and genuine change of heart among the men in our group and among several we care for as men. We’re seeing humility among the men which is definitely the first step. If we as men can break down with one another and confess our sin and share our need for prayer and friendship, we are bound to see more change and turning of the tide in this marriage crisis in our county.

Friends, please pray for the marriages in our county. Wherever you’re able to join arms with others, please pray and please get involved. Ask each other how each other’s marriages are. Ask how each other’s walks with God are going. We find more hope for our own lives, those of our spouses, those of our children, and the lives of our friends when we all together find our satisfaction in the Savior.

In His joy,

– Torrey20140523-130031-46831497.jpg

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