Paul Madson


Month: October 2014

Encouraging Thoughts on Heaven

“Life on earth is the preface to the book, the warm up to the concert. Heaven is the main event!” (Randy Alcorn)

 “Joy is the serious business of heaven….In heaven, we will be strong, radiant, wise, beautiful and drenched in joy!” (C.S. Lewis)

“Let temporal things serve your use, but the eternal be the object of your desire.” (Thomas a Kempis)

“And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.” (1 Corinthians 15:19 NLT)

“When we live our lives as if this world is all that we have, life is very disappointing and even despairing. When we live our lives as if this world is all there is, questions have few answers and crisis becomes all-consuming. This present world only makes sense when we live here in light of there!” (Joseph Stowell)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18) 

“If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is because Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.” (C. S. Lewis)

“We are to view the present in light of the future; we are to see time in light of eternity; we are to look beyond sacrifice to reward; we are to bear the cross in anticipation of the crown.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in his wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim; in the light of his glory and grace.” – Lyrics to “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2 NLT)

“Heaven is our real home. Home is acceptance, security, rest, refuge, deep personal relationships, great memories. Home is where your treasure is. If heaven is your home, then your mind and heart and treasure will be there also.” (Randy Alcorn)

“Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath.” (Psalm 39:4-5)

Scripture says in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that “God has set eternity in the hearts of men.” God has placed within our hearts as humans the awareness of eternity…the internal awareness that there is something beyond this life. We are to see and interpret all of life through the grid of eternity. We are to live here in light of there!

Until next week, my prayer for you is…

“May the LORD bless you and keep you;
may the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
may the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
(Numbers 6:24-26)

*All Scripture quotations are taken from The English Standard Version Bible (ESV) unless otherwise noted

What is a “gospeled” church?

San Francisco Peaks – Flagstaff, Arizona

Recently I came across an excellent article so rich, so potent, and so profound that I want to pass it along to everyone I know so that they can benefit and be blessed by it just as I have been. 

This week’s blog post is an example of one of those “rich, potent, profound” articles. It was written by Jared C. Wilson, a well-known author and a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition website. It will take you 60 seconds to read – but a lifetime to apply. But it’s soooooo good. Don’t just read it…chew on it.


A Gospeled Church

By Jared C. Wilson“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5).

The gospel cannot puff us up.
It cannot make us prideful.
It cannot make us selfish.
It cannot make us arrogant.
It cannot make us rude.
It cannot make us gossipy.
It cannot make us accusers.

So the more we press into the gospel, the more the gospel takes over our hearts and the spaces we bring our hearts to, and it stands to reason, the less we would see those things antithetical to it.

You cannot grow in holiness and holier-than-thou-ness at the same time

It works out this way individually.

The most gracious people you and I know are people who have had an experience of grace and fixate on grace. The least gracious people we know are people who may know about grace academically, “theologically,” but don’t seem the least bit changed by it and really have a fixation on the law. They have an inordinate fixation on who did what wrong and what they deserve.

The same dynamic takes place in churches.

Where grace and law are taught academically but law is “felt” as the operating system of the church, you will likely have a stifling, gossipy, burdensome environmentWhere grace and law are taught theologically but grace is felt as the operating system of the church, you will see people begin to flourish, breathe(You’ll also attract more sinners, which is where religious people start getting a little antsy.)

But the message of grace made preeminent will generate an atmosphere of grace.

This is why the harmony with each other of Romans 15:5 is “in accord with Jesus Christ.”

It’s not predicated on having a bunch of stuff in common.
It’s not predicated on common race or social class.
It’s not predicated on a common special interest or political cause.
It’s not predicated on all being theology nerds, liking the same authors, being Reformed or Arminian or somewhere in between.
It’s not predicated on all being Republicans or Democrats.
It’s not predicated on all being for social justice.
It’s not predicated on all being homeschoolers or public schoolers.
It’s not predicated on music styles or preaching styles or anything like that.

All of that sort of commonality produces a very fragile harmony.

It is instead predicated on our common Savior, Jesus Christcompared to whom we are all sinners who fall short of God’s glory, and from whom we have all received grace upon grace

So the more that we together focus on the gospel of Jesus, the more together we will walk in accordance with him and therefore in harmony with one another.

“Gospel doctrine,” our friend Ray Ortlund says, “creates a gospel culture.”

What’s all this “Gospel-centered” talk about?

Have you heard the term “gospel-centered” recently? If you read much within evangelical circles, I’m sure you have. I use the term quite often as I describe the ministry of Global Training Network.

Recently I came across a great article by Dane Ortlund that describes beautifully what “Gospel-Centered” means. I think you will find Ortlund’s thoughts like a cold drink of water on a hot day – refreshing! (bold, underlines & italics are mine)


What’s all this ‘Gospel-centered’ talk about?

By Dane Ortlund

“Gospel-centered preaching.” “Gospel-centered parenting.” “Gospel-centered discipleship.” The back of my business card says “gospel-centered publishing.” This descriptive mantra is tagged on to just about anything and everything in the Christian world these days.

What’s it all about?

Before articulating what it might mean to be gospel-centered, we better be on the same page as to the actual message of the gospel.

I don’t mean Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What I mean by “gospel” in this article is the outrageous news of what has been done for us by God in Jesus. The gospel is the front page of the newspaper, not the back-page advice column; news of what has happened, not advice on how to live.

Specifically, the gospel is the startling news that what God demands from us, he provides for us. How? In his own Son. The gospel is the message that Jesus Christ delights to switch places with guilty rebelsThe one person who walked this earth who deserved heaven endured the wrath of hell so that those who deserve the wrath of hell can have heaven.

And the gospel is not only personal, but cosmic. Christ’s death and resurrection doesn’t only provide forgiveness for me. It also means that in the middle of history, God has begun to undo death, ruin, decay, and darknessThe universe itself is going to be washed clean and made new. Eden will be restored.

But to be part of this movement, we too must die. Grace requires death. We must die to our bookkeeping existence that builds our identity on anything other than Jesus. We must relinquish, give up on ourselves, throw in the towel. And out of this death—letting God love us in, not after getting over, our messiness—resurrection life quietly blossoms.

Gospel-Centered Worldview

What does it mean, then, to be “gospel-centered”?

As far as I can tell, the phrase is used in two basic waysOne way is to view all of life in light of the gospel. We’ll call this a gospel-centered worldview. The other is to view Christian progress as dependent on the gospel. We’ll call this gospel-centered growth. The first looks out; the second looks in. Take gospel-centered worldview first.

Think about what we mean when we call people “self-centered.” We don’t mean that all they think about directly is themselves. They also think about what to eat, what to wear, how to conclude an email, and a thousand other things each day. But self informs all these other decisions. A self-centered person passes all he does and thinks through the filter of self. Self trumps everything else and orders all other loves accordingly.

In a similar way, to be gospel-centered does not mean that social action, marital and sexual matters, ethical issues, political agendas, our jobs, our diet, and all the rest of daily life are irrelevant. Rather, it means all of life is viewed in light of the gospel. Everything passes through the filter of the gospel. What Jesus has done and is doing to restore the universe trumps everything else and orders all other loves accordingly.

Gospel-Centered Growth

There’s another, more common way that the phrase gospel-centered is used. Here we narrow in to issues such as Bible-reading, book-writing, preaching, and teaching. Generally when we speak of “gospel-centered discipleship” or “gospel-centered preaching” we mean that such activities are done in the light of two core realities: our ongoing struggle with sin and our ongoing need for grace.

The twisted fallenness of the human heart manifests itself in our constant self-atonement strategiesThe natural, default mode of the human heart (including the Christian heart) is restless heart-wandering, looking for something to latch on to for significance, to know we matter, to feel okay about ourselves. This tendency is often profoundly subtle and extremely difficult to root out. We are sinners. We are sick.

However, the far-reaching grace of the gospel calms our hearts and nestles us into the freedom of not needing to constantly measure up since Jesus measured up on our behalf. In Christ, we matterClothed in his righteousness, we are okay. This sweet calm is the soil in which true godliness flourishes.

Gospel-centeredness, then, funnels the gospel out to unbelievers and also into our own hearts. It acknowledges that the good news about God’s grace in Christ is the supreme resource—for believers just as much for unbelievers. In other words, the gospel is a home, not a hotelIt is not only the gateway into the Christian life, but the pathway of the Christian life.

This is why Paul constantly reminds people—reminds Christian people—of the gospel (for example, Rom. 1:16–171 Cor. 1:1815:3–4Gal. 1:6). We move forward in discipleship not mainly through pep talks and stern warningsWe move forward when we hear afresh the strangeness of grace, relaxing our hearts and loosening our clenched hold on a litany of lesser things—financial security, the perfect spouse, career advancement, sexual pleasure, human approval, and so on….

Keep the Reality

There’s one more thing to be said. The label “gospel-centered” is neither here nor there. There’s nothing sacred about it. But the heart of what is being recovered, both in terms of worldview and in terms of growth, is vital for calm and sanity amid the ups and downs of life in a fallen world.

Every generation must rediscover the gospel for itself. “Gospel-centered” happens to be the label attached to this generation’s recovery of grace. When we tire of the label, get a new one. But keep the reality.

We will be broken, messy sinners until Jesus comes again and gives us final cleansingUntil then, true shalom and fruitfulness can only be found through waking up each day, shoving back the clamoring anxieties, and defibrillating our hearts with a love that comes only to those—but to all of those—who open themselves up to it.

**If you would like to read the complete post, you can do so here.

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