When Daniel is not saying or doing something hilariously absurd (like the picture above!), he is using encouraging us to keep our eyes on Jesus.
Last Sunday, as he shared his testimony, he did just that—helping us to see how graciously, persistently, compassionately, & completely God pursues us! Read along & worship with us.
“True doctrine is not a matter of the tongue but of life.” This quote from John Calvin has been on my thoughts since the members class. I grew up in the church. I grew up learning a lot about doctrine.
For me, that was a problem. It was only doctrine to me. Only knowledge. I learned the right things to say and the right things to do SO THAT I could would be liked and respected. Then in my private life, I was a wreck and without hope. I poured myself into many ungodly, hidden habits. Though I had a form of knowledge of the light, I was living in the domain of darkness.
This went on and worsened through the high school years and even into my freshman year of college. I remember distinctly one day in high school wanting to be done with religion. I thought, “God, I have prayed that you help me with these sins but nothing changes.” So, I stopped praying. At this time, God was at work behind the scenes. God, through the Spirit, gave someone in my life discernment and he saw through all my fake walls of self-made righteousness. This man as many of you know was Stephen Larson, my brother-in-law. When I stopped praying, he started praying for me. He gently pursued me and graciously helped me see my need for grace and Christ's righteousness.
In my senior year of high school I went with him and many other men from Cornerstone Church of Knoxville to a Men's Conference called Rescuing Ambition. This was a defining moment for me. I began to understand grace more. I was captured by seeing 500 men passionately and joyfully worship God. I never had seen this before. I thought, "This is not religion, there is something more powerful at work." At one point, we sang Be Thou My Vision—a song I had sung my whole life but this time was different. Men were singing with full conviction of heart and joy. "Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praises, thou mine inheritance, now and always, thou and thou only FIRST in my heart, high king of heaven, MY TREASURE THOU ART.” Yet, after the conference was over, my heart was still in darkness BUT God was on the move.
Then in the Spring semester of 2011, I was dating Anna who now is my lovely wife. God brought my sin to light. God exposed my lies and hidden sins. God revealed to me the wickedness and ugliness of my sin. More than that, He showed me that the wickedness of my sin is not the act of the sin but WHOM my sin is against. It is against a holy, righteous, just God. With this realization of who God is, I felt the weight and burden of my sin and realized I could not carry the load. I had tried my whole life and it never worked. BUT, God being rich in mercy, showed me there is forgiveness in Christ and that I do not have to earn righteousness. Rather, I receive Jesus' righteousness freely through faith in Christ.
I cannot thank God enough for the faithful prayers of Stephen, for the patience of Anna, and the consistent preaching of the gospel from CCK and here at TGC. We have to keep the main thing, the main thing. The gospel!
The gospel is the truth that keeps us. At the end of the day, when the troubles of life come, it will not matter if you believe pre- or post-millennial view or infant or believers baptism. Our only hope is Jesus! What if the same spirit that rose Jesus from the dead, actually lives inside you and me? Can you imagine how this can change our days and lives if we preach these truths to ourselves?
I too always wish tomorrow was Sunday! I need to be refreshed in the joy of the Gospel and be encouraged by fellowship.
I want to thank all of you for the deep impact you have made on me, Anna, and my kids. I am thankful for this church. But above all, I am thankful for God’s continued grace!