Of Kings and Carrots

For the most part, kings and carrots have nothing in common.  A king is a ruler.  He is sovereign.  He is strong, supposedly.  And he is a warrior.  A carrot, however, is a vegetable.  It is tiny.  It breaks easy.  And, in my opinion, carrots are gross.

The world is full of kings and carrots.  You probably know many of both.  There are people who display amazing gifts and talents all over the place.  They seem, to us, like great leaders.  Great commanders.  Great kings.  These types of people seem to have their own castles… and some of them are really really big.  We also know many people who might fit the description of a carrot.

Tiny.  Puny.  Small.

Not much worth.

There is much difference between a king and a carrot.  The world takes notice of kings.  Not carrots.  The gospel points us to both, however.  The gospel is for both.  The church is for both.

May we remember that when we are tempted to put a king before a carrot.  A celebrity before an unknown (even in the church).  And the rich before the poor.

Because, as we know, there is only one King.

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“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “you sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not the made distinctions…?” (James 2:1-4).

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Where’s the Poop, Helo?

Sometimes, my wife Grace and I, will find our warrior dog, Helo, sitting shyly in the corner with his paws covering his nose.  I mean, he just looks guilty.  You can tell he did something.  Somewhere.  Grace, my humorous and amazing wife, always says something like this when she sees Helo sitting in this way, “Where’s the poop, Helo?”  This has become our humorous way of breaking the ice to talk through hard things.  For instance, when I come home from a hard days work and something is wrong, and Grace can tell it, she might just say, “Where’s the poop, Greg?”  This doesn’t mean I am necessarily guilty of something, or I pooped in the corner somewhere, but it might mean that I am not speaking up when I need to.  Or talking through things when I need to.  Or being a wimp about conflict.  Or brushing things under the rug.  It could mean a whole multitude of things.

So, I ask you, “Where’s the poop?”  What are you hiding?  Not talking about?  Not being completely honest about?  Not sharing?  The gospel beckons us to authenticity.  To realness.  To pursuing goodness, truth, and beauty in all things.  Poop is the opposite of those things.

 

Conflict in Marriage is Almost Always the Man’s Fault

Think about that statement for a minute.  Conflict in marriage, I think, is almost always the man’s fault.  In fact, I might even go 100% on this one.  Though marriage is the pursuit of Jesus together, for God’s glory, between two one-flesh companions of equal dignity, value, and worth, it is also a place where sin can be magnified.  As men, we are called to a pretty high standard of leading our wives.  And as we know, leadership is not dictatorship.  Leadership is servant leadership.  What’s more, we, as men, are also called to provide and protect.  We are called not just to protect them physically, but also emotionally and mentally.  And so, where a man neglects his wife, conflict arises.  Whether it is physical, sexual, emotional, etc.  Conflict arises from unmet desires in our hearts.

Husband, you are called to know those desires and meet those desires in your wife.  You, as a man, are called to care for your wife as you would your own flesh (Ephesians 5:29).

And let me tell you, as a man who wants to love and serve his wife in great ways, I am thankful for the gospel.  Because it is in the grace of Jesus that I find unbelievable comfort and forgiveness when I fail… and it happens a lot!

 

Dads, Are You Doing Whatever it Takes to Lead? [AUDIO]

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Tons and tons of research is being done throughout the church toward the question, “How do we reach men?”  If you know me, then you know I am know super passionate about this question.  My life, as of late, has been on a crusade for this (hence, the book), and I think that though churches are, for the most part, attempting to reach men, challenge men, engage men, and spark a sense of courageous passion in them that only the gospel of Jesus can do when it takes root in a man’s heart, there are things that are drowning men, too.

Randy Stinson, author and professor at Southern Seminary, gives two distinct problems.

1) Lots of men are addicted to pornography.  And, in all honesty, we don’t talk about this issue as much as we should.  Pornography is ravishing our men.

2) God could potentially be turning a deaf ear towards men because of how they are treating their wife.  1 Peter 3:7 shows us this, when Peter says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (emphasis mine).

I have added 2 things to this list in my sermon below.

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A Closer Look at Louie Giglio’s Comments

Pastor-Louie-Gigliox400Atlanta pastor, Louie Giglio, withdrew today from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony.  Giglio, one of America’s most influential pastors, has given his life to reaching the next generation and to ending human trafficking.  What’s more, the evangelical blogosphere has been blowing up with his removal today, but only Al Mohler, from what I’ve seen so far, has brought clarification to Giglio’s comments when he withdrew.

Mohler states,

Two other dimensions of this story also demand attention. First, we should note that Louie Giglio has not been known lately for taking any stand on the issue of homosexuality. To the contrary, Giglio’s own statement withdrawing from the invitation made this clear:

“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”

A fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue of homosexuality for at least fifteen years. The issue “has not been in the range of my priorities,” he said. Given the Bible’s insistance that sexual morality is inseparable from our “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ,” this must have been a difficult strategy. It is also a strategy that is very attractive to those who want to avoid being castigated as intolerant or homophobic. As this controversy makes abundantly clear, it is a failed strategy. Louie Giglio was cast out of the circle of the acceptable simply because a liberal watchdog group found one sermon he preached almost twenty years ago. If a preacher has ever taken a stand on biblical conviction, he risks being exposed decades after the fact. Anyone who teaches at any time, to any degree, that homosexual behavior is a sin is now to be cast out.

Sexual morality is inseparable from our “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”  If you preach the true gospel today, then you are at odds with the current administration and have been castigated with likes of Giglio… even if you try to strategically avoid it.

Read the rest of Mohler’s article.

 

We Are More Connected, Yet More Alone, Than Ever Before

alone-togetherSherry Turkle’s new book, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, has made waves in the technology and social media world as of late.  The book is built on the recent truth that technology has now become the architect of our intimacies.  With the rise of social media, we have an unlimited approach to being connected.  With Twitter, Facebook, email, and text messaging, all in our front right trouser, we feel as if we are a part of something bigger than ourselves — this entire universe of unlimited relationships.  However, here is the big kicker:  We are more connect than ever before; yet, we are more lonely than ever before.

How can this be?

Social media gives us access to anyone whenever we want them.  Text messaging gives us the ease of conversation without the difficulty of a phone call.  Unlimited access to email always makes us on call.  With all of this, it seems as if we should never be lonely.  But it is quite the opposite.  Technology, and social media, in particular, has given us quite a distraction to what true and authentic relationships should actually look like.

And we don’t even realize it.

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A Few 2013 Resolutions & Goals

For the last 3 or 4 weeks, I have been at home with my family, enjoying some much-needed family time.  This time at home has given me much renewed energy for the things that matter the most to me:  again, and as always, my family, my church, and discipleship.  2012, in its glory, brought several great things.  It gave me a renewed passion for school and learning, and while timid toward the time commitment, I began my pursuit of a PhD, starting with the ThM in family ministry at Southern Seminary.  What’s more, my first book released with BorderStone Press, called, Reformational Manhood.  So far, I believe it has done pretty well — for little ol’ me, that is — and I am excited to see how God, in his great mercy and grace, continues to use it as a tool to point young men towards the great, courageous, and adventurous pursuit of biblical manhood.

Also, in 2012, we were able to split the middle school and high school ministries at Foothills Church, only after 2 years of being in existence.  I was able to travel to Haiti, twice, to begin a great partnership with a missionary there who is overseeing a ministry overseas like I have never seen before.  We took 40 students to summer camp this year, 20 students to Eastern Kentucky for a mission trip, and we have seen 2 student ministry small groups branch to 8, with 2 more starting this January.  God has been gracious to us at Foothills Church in our student ministry.

I wanted to let you know of a few great things that are on the horizon for 2013.  Though I have many goals and resolutions, several of them are resolutions to pursue each week that I want to keep to myself.  Others are ministry goals with Foothills Church.  Still others are spiritual growth endeavors.

Here are a few I want to share:

1.  Here at Kingdom First, I will begin to post more frequent, more in-depth, thoughtful, and conversation-engaging articles concerning cultural issues, family issues, and Christian growth concepts for the purpose of thoughtful dialogue and growth.  I would love to see this blog begin to host good conversation on the things that make our minds and hearts tick.  I hope to facilitate this through what I might be studying, the direction of cultural events, and popular conversations that might be taking place in the church today.

2.  I hope to begin several family ministry related things in 2013.  One of them will be a family ministry podcast with my brother, Trent Stewart, called Family First.  We will be focusing on some of the big questions that parents are asking.  This will not be a weekly, or even bi-weekly, podcast.  It will, however, be recorded an uploaded on our Foothills Church iTunes account, as well as here at Kingdom First, regularly.  There are, also, several other things I hope to do family ministry wise in 2013.  Stay tuned.

3.  At Veritas, we hope to launch a worship EP and the possibility of 2 books in 2013.  Be in prayer for this as we are in the midst of talking through the details even now.

4.  I am hoping to read through the Bible in its entirety twice this year.  I want to continue to practice what Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:15, which says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV).  This month, I am reading Genesis and Matthew, the books where God promised the crushing of Satan’s skull, and where it partially came to be.  

I am looking forward to all that God might do this year, for His great fame, in Christ, and dialoguing with you through it all.

-GRG

 

SERMON: The Together Generation / Foothills Church [AUDIO]

In this sermon, I give an urgent heed to the older generation to disciple the younger generation.  This command, given to us in Titus 2 by the Apostle Paul, shows us that older men and women must transmit manhood/womanhood to younger men and women.

For the first 25 minutes, or so, I tell stories of how God used men in my life to mold me into who I am today.  The latter half looks briefly at Titus 2 and attempts to build a framework unto which every person, no matter their discontinuity from this generation, can be a part of investing in this generation.

To download, click here.

 

SERMON: Make Community / Foothills Church [AUDIO]

Often in the today’s church, we want to manufacture maturity immediately. We don’t necessarily want to go through the process of being made more like Jesus.  Why?  Because it’s messy.

This sermon builds off the previous week’s sermon in that we are not only called to Make Disciples but we are also called to Make Community.  And a great way to make disciples is inside of biblical community.

 

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