Generation Cedar

It’s why the Church is so crippled, so impotent.  It’s why 75% of Americans claim to be Christians, and yet our culture doesn’t reflect that influence.

I stayed home Sunday and listened to David Platt as he expounded on this truth in a way that forced me to examine my own motives.

” ‘God loves me’ is not the message of biblical Christianity.”

Wow.  Interesting the cliches we adopt as theology.  He admits that this truth is completely counter-culture.  But how often we adopt the vision of the culture rather than that of God.  Look at the object of that sentence…”ME”. And “Me” is not the object of Christianity….not even close.

“God loves me so that His grace and His love and His glory and His majesty may be made known among the nations through me.”

It doesn’t end with ME.  He didn’t just die for ME, but so that I could make his grace and forgiveness known in the world.  That’s why salvation is only the beginning.  After that, we are indebted to a Savior and all we do in life is supposed to exalt Him.  Convicting anyone?

“So, God had an ulterior motive when He sent His Son to die?  ‘Yes.’ ” Platt says.

So that through His redeemed, He would be glorified.

“How could any of us be so arrogant to think we are at the center of His universe?  GOD is at the center of His universe.”

And so it’s not about what I want in life, really….a true disciple is sold out (“at once they left their nets and followed Him”), surrendered to the call of Christ on his life–a lump of clay, willing to be conformed to the shape of His Creator.

God help me…I am so self-centered.

“We can only have a God-centered mission when we have a God-centered God.

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37 Responses

  1. I love his preaching. Download it on the ipod and listen in the car. God has really blessed this young man.

  2. …Just learned of Pastor Platt within the last month. Actually,I ordered his book, Radical, after “Antbed”, one of your readers mentioned it. (thank you Antbed) :o) My husband read it and I am still in the process of reading it. All I can say is, LIFE CHANGING! While we were waiting for the book to come in from CBD, we started listening to his sermons via internet. Rock solid counter-cultural teaching. Good stuff! I have ordered more copies of hi s book to pass along. Regarding his sermons, the best part is, although his messages are about an hour long our sons ages 13, 11 & 8 really listen carefully!
    Such good stuff, especially when God stretches and grows us!
    Blessings…

    1. Emily B,
      I have recently discovered that it is possible to hear sermons via the internet. I am a rather new Catholic convert, coming from a Southern Baptist upbringing. I love my new church, and I love Catholicism, but I must say, I do love a good sermon! Our parish church does four separate lengthy Bible readings during each mass, so we get to hear a lot of the bible together, but the homily is only about five or ten minutes long. Growing up, I got used to hour-long sermons with outlines and lots of furious bible searching while the pastor pulled together various scriptures to support his points. I so miss that. I am eager to check out Pastor Platt, and listen to his sermons with my family. 🙂 And your comment makes me excited to hear his counter-cultural message.

      1. Randi,
        You may find Pastor Platts sermons at http://www.brookhills.org/ and I would highly recommend his book, Radical. :o) You will be blessed, I am sure of it. His preaching is Biblical, verse by verse, expository teaching. Which changes hearts and lives for Christ. Yay!

        You really came from Southern Baptist background? May I please ask how you converted to Catholicism? I am curious because I have the exact opposite conversion testimony. 🙂

        1. LOL! How funny that we converted in opposite directions! My conversion story is far too long and zigzagging (is that even a word?) to do it justice in a comment on Kelly’s blog. Suffice it to say, I feel confident that God has led me to exactly where He wants me to be. What a difference my conversion has made in my life! I am a very pragmatic and earthy person, and the more clearly defined practices of the Catholic faith (the Sacraments) really and truly are conduits of God’s grace in my life. I hope and pray that you find, or have found, exactly what you need in your chosen church. Ironically, in the town where I now live, our Catholic church and the baptist church is just across the street from each other. The churches share many families, and events/ministries from one attract people from the other. (Such as the newly married baptist couple who needed to learn Natural Family Planning, which they were going to use to space children after their first baby was born. We met in our post-partum NFP class!)

          1. Randi,
            I understand when you use the term “zigzagging.”
            Yes, I am also confident that God has me right where He wants me.
            He pulled me right out of the darkness of this world and into His glorious light. He sure does transform hearts and lives.
            Isn’t it interesting how the Lord has positioned those two churches across from one another.!?
            Blessings…

        2. I mentioned this pastor to my husband this evening, and to my pleasant surprise, I discovered that he had already planned to order Platt’s book “Radical” in the next couple of days, having seen it in a Christian book catalog over the weekend. What funny timing! And I have watched a sermon of his already, on Spiritual Warfare. Wow! Powerful stuff.

  3. Really awesome! Reminds me of some lyrics from the group “Addison Road.” “I am not my own, I’ve been carried by you all my life.”
    I think we, as Christians, forget we have been purchased and redeemed by the blood of Jesus. When we purchase something, we are fully aware that we own it, it belongs to us and it will do whatever we purpose it to do. We do sometimes forget that we are the purchased, and should do what our Redeemer has for us. Not He for us.

    There is a heart breaking song I love that reveals how little we know of God in this culture.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6J5TzSE_18

  4. Yes, I know that “me” is not the message of Christianity, but God’s love is the heart of it; I tire of either people making it about themselves, or going harshly in the “apply the rod” direction instead. A theologian, upon being asked what the most profound truth he’d discovered was, replied, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Love is not what’s crippling the church; enabling is. Or, too far in the other direction, the lashing hardbutts.

    1. I like the response the theologian gave to you, although I like to add the emphasis that is heard when children actually sing the song:
      JESUS loves me, this I KNOW,
      for the BIBLE tells me so.
      The emphasis is on the fact that it is Jesus who loves, and we can be certain of His love. Such a simple little song, with such a profound truth hidden within it. This song means more to me now, as I teach it to my children, than it did when I first learned it as a child!

      1. Yup, it’s sweet and amazing 🙂 The theologian didn’t say this to me, though; it’s an old story.

    2. Jennifer, I love how you clarified this. I agree that God’s love is at the heart of Christianity, and that love isn’t the problem, enabling is. Very well put.

        1. Well put, Jennifer. I was thinking the same thing, but unable to articulate it as well.
          God IS love. Without His absolute and constant love for us, how could we ever be drawn to Him? If you downplay that, God repels and the gospel loses it’s power. He created us (and everything) for His glory, yes, but also to LOVE us and for us to love Him.

  5. Having read Platt’s book, I must agree that it is very convicting. He points out how we here in the USA have a lazy, self-centered Christianity. It costs us nothing to be Christ followers. Unlike Christians in other parts of the world. We have the freedom and prosperity to do so much more for the Kingdom than we do. We “fit” our faith into our lives instead of our faith directing our life.

    Our church sends many missionaries and church planters to the Philippines. One of the pastors there asks his new converts, are you willing to die to be a Christian? That is reality for them. Believing can cost them everything. We, the American Church, have forgotten how blessed we are.

  6. This is something that has been bothering me more and more. Most of the songs on Christian radio are about how much God loves us and how special we are. How he wants to help us. Very me centered. Don’t get me wrong, he does love us but that message is out of proportion to what it should be.

    We have lost our focus that man’s primary purpose is to glorify God. Not for God to glorify us. Rather than what can God do for us, how about asking what we can do for God.

  7. My favorite chapter in Radical was the one where he expounds on exactly what you quoted from his sermon. The whole point, THE WHOLE POINT:) of Christianity is the Glory of God! It’s been something I’ve been ruminating for the last year or so but Platt articulated it in a way that just cleared everything right up in my cloudy head.

  8. Ah, yes. The God is Love spirituality. Well, God is a God of love – true love. This includes truth…sometimes truth hurts. I agree that people can go too far in the ‘hardbutt’ direction OR too far in the ‘softhearted’ direction. God covers both sides evenly (read justly).

  9. Although I have not yet read the book I know that my greatest comfort during trials is focusing on who God is; His character, His omnipotence and the fact that He never changes. Yes, there are times when I ask what He thinks of ME…but the answer is always found in who HE is.

    Amen and Amen. Did you know, according to Chuck Colson, that the younger generation is becoming more liturgical and returning to the great confessions of the faith? I believe it is because they hunger for these very truths!

    Jill Farris
    http://www.generationalwomanhood.wordpress.com
    http://www.jillcampbellfarris.com

  10. It is nice to come to a “place” (like Generation Cedar) and find the Lord using the same thing in others lives that He has been using in our lives. We have been listening to “RADICAL” on CD for 3 weeks now. It has been one of those BOOKS ON CD that we are finding ourselves replaying over and over.

    It has been refreshing to hear this teaching. It is stretching us, challenging us and helping to pull all of the “American Christian culture muck” out of our brains. I love that the Lord is still teaching us His “good good” things even at this age. Our children (12 and 9) are so enjoying it as well. I love that they are farther along in all of this than my husband and I ever were at their ages. Praise the Lord, He is ALIVE, WORKING, and STILL DRAWING HIS PEOPLE TO HIMSELF!! I am humbled by this in our lives.

    Hope you are doing well, Kelly . . . praying for you.

  11. Great post Kelly, thank you! God’s attributes are spoken of throughout the Old and New Testaments, and a correct view of them is essential: if we choose [God is] love at the expense of [God is] just, for example, we can pervert the nature of Who God has revealed Himself to be, and end up with a false god, not the God of the Bible, Who is both love and just, among many other attributes.

    There is only one attribute, though, that is repeated three times in a row, and that is “Holy, Holy, Holy.” So if God is holy, how can rebellious sinners like us be made right with Him? Are not even our “little” sins an affront to His holiness, since He made us and therefore owns us? Telling a lie (even if we assign a color to it LOL), stealing (even as a child – time does not forgive crime), lusting (Jesus said this is adultery of the heart), coveting (oh boy, we live in America – who has not done that??), all show our deep rebellion against Him, since even our consciences bear witness that these things are wrong, and we add insult to injury by justifying our sins. The book of Romans says that the law (the 10 commandments) is written on our hearts – our conscience – and therefore we are without excuse. So this Holy God, how can we be made right with Him? And this is what the Bible is all about: Jesus Christ! It is all about Him! (NOT US!!) Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, Who was fully God and fully man, came to earth and lived the PERFECT sinless life, and was crucified upon the Cross at Calvary so that those who come to Him on HIS terms will be forgiven of their rebellious sins. Since the Bible is all about Him, He gets to set the terms ;o) He was raised to life on the third day, proving (among other things) that a) He was God; and b) His sacrifice was satisfactory to God the Father for the payment of the sins of those who come to Him. So how does that legal transaction take place, whereby our rebellious and wicked sins are credited to Jesus on the Cross, as He bore the full wrath of God against sin, and Jesus’ perfect righteousness is credited to us? He says we must do two things: repent (agree that our sins are wicked and rebellious, apologize AND turn from sins) and believe that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the ONLY reason we can ever be forgiven for our sins, because He paid the FULL fine for our sins: we committed the crime, He paid the fine. It is ALL about HIM! And what a relief that is – because I know me – and there is NOTHING good in me apart from Christ! And the Bible says that now we can be seen as holy! Holy! That is impossible without such a great Savior! The legal transaction that takes place upon repentance and trust in Christ alone is how the new birth happens, and we are spiritually born of God at that time (born again) – and this TOO is a work of God, proving that it is still all about HIM! Jesus Christ and Him crucified for our sins -the best news! What kinder offer has ever been made? That’s a rhetorical question ;o) So I COMPLETELY agree, “God loves me” is NOT the gospel – it makes the gospel me-centered, instead of God-centered. And it robs God of the glory that is due to Him alone, for being SO kind to save wretched sinners. Give me the real gospel any day – I know the ONLY reason that God loves me is because of Christ!

    Thank you again for this post, Kelly, I love, love, love hearing/reading about the gospel! Christians can never hear it enough :o)

    in His love,
    Elly

    1. The only real problem with saying God is Love, or God loves me as a Gospel centering thing, is that so mnay have a crooked idea of what love is. Weakling humans expect God to be a worse parent than they would be. Besides, it’s not just about God loving us, it’s about us loving HIM. That, as people forget, is the other big half of the Gospel.

      1. Thank you Kelly :o)

        And oh yes, Jennifer, you’re right – we have a very wrong understanding of what love is. 1 John 4:19 states that “We love Him because He first loved us” so when we understand the gospel and are converted to Christianity, we love Him because He first loved us (and demonstrated this love by dying in our place as the punishment for our sins). And the Christian demonstrates their love to this amazingly kind God by doing what the Lord says in John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” As Christians, we have been set free to love God, because we are not under the law as a means to obtain God’s favor (because no one can *ever* earn God’s favor by keeping the law), rather, when we are born again He gives us a new heart of flesh to replace our heart of stone, and that new heart *wants* to obey God’s law: 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” ONLY the new birth can cause a person to keep God’s laws out of love, not obligation or in an effort to earn favor in His eyes. :o)

  12. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  13. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through your articles. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects? Thanks a lot!

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