Refusing sin promises by relying on gospel promises

By Jeremy Oddy

The content below in the table is from Jonathan Dodson’s excellent book,Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

Sin Issues
Sin Promises
Gospel Promises
Sexual Lust: The Fight for True Intimacy Instead of trusting sexual lust for intimacy, trust God for true intimacy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God (Matt. 5:8). Long for what you cannot have and you will be happy. Rejoice in what you do have, in Jesus, and you will be truly happy.
Vanity: The Fight for True Worth Instead of relying on vanity for worth, consider the beauty of God. What we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2). Perform beautifully and you will have worth. Jesus performed beautifully for you; therefore, you have never-ending worth.
Pride: The Fight for True Confidence Instead of trusting in compliments for confidence, believe that your sufficiency comes from God. Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who made us sufficient (2 Cor. 3:4-6). Find and cherish compliments and then you will be confident. Your confidence comes, not from your sufficiency, but from God who has made you sufficient in Jesus.
Anger: The Fight for God’s Way Instead of getting angry to get your way (protesting not getting you way), put your trust in the Lord’s way. Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord (Ps. 4:4-5). If I control my circumstances (and I have a right to) then I will get the best outcome.  If I can’t control my circumstances, then I have a right to get mad. Because Jesus is Lord, he has the right to control my circumstances.  Therefore, I will get the best outcome by trusting him. Put your trust in the Lord, not in controlling your circumstances.

Make God Look Great. Create.

I’m excited to announce that my new e-bookCreate: Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Stuffis officially available for only $2.99!

Repeat after me: I am creative.

It’s not just the painters and poets who are creative, everyone is creative! God has wired creativity into our DNA. Being creative is one of the ways we reflect the image of God, and God expects that all of us will use our creative gifts to glorify him. All of us have a divinely inspired drive to create and organize and bring beauty out of chaos.

But creativity is hard work. It takes work to create a poem or garden or car engine or piece of furniture or blog post. It requires killing our laziness and working faithfully over extended periods of time. It requires a willingness to receive criticism with humility. It requires sweat and elbow grease. It requires diligence and faithfulness. It’s easier to not make anything at all. To be a consumer. To suffocate the creative gifts that God has given us.

That’s why I wrote this little book. It’s meant to be a divine kick in the pants, of sorts. It’s meant to inspire you and motivate you to use your creative gifts for the glory of God. To help you stop making excuses and start using your gifts.

You have creative gifts. You are a gifted musician or mechanic or teacher or dancer or woodworker or organizer or landscaper or quilter or preacher, and God wants you to use your gifts for his glory. He doesn’t want you to waste them or hoard them. He wants you to use them to benefit those around you and to bring him honor. He wants you to steward your gifts, not waste them.

Your church needs your creative gifts. Your family needs your creative gifts. Your friends needs your creative gifts. You have gifts that no one else has. We need your gifts. Stop making excuses, and start making stuff.

You can get the book on Amazon, or if you don’t have a Kindleyou can get it in PDF format.

Now, can I ask you a big favor? If you find this book to be helpful could you do two things?

  • Share about the book on Facebook or Twitter?

Here are some of the nice things people have said about the book:

This piece on creativity is a gem. Conversational, practical, and biblical. As Christians we have the Creator as our Father, and so we should be the ones with the most creativity. Sadly today Christianity is reduced to corny songs and cheesy t-shirts. However, in this short e-book I was greatly encouraged deep in my soul to step out in faith and be creative knowing my Father already loves me and approves of me in Jesus. Stephen winsomely shows how we aren’t just supposed to be creative, but its actually what we were created for!

– Jefferson Bethke, poet, author of “Why I Love Jesus, But Hate Religion”

Create, by my friend Stephen Altrogge, will inspire you to do just that. It’s biblical, gospel-driven, practical, insightful, funny, and only 43 pages. Whether you think you’re an artist or not, Stephen will inspire you to do what you do better for God’s glory.

– Bob Kauflin, author of Worship Matters, director of worship for Sovereign Grace Ministries

Out of nothing God created matter, out of the unformed matter he formed the world, and then he stood back and enjoyed it all. It was Augustine who suggested musicians do the same thing by embracing unformed silence and order it into tones and notes and symmetry and beauty. And as Stephen so skillfully shows us in this book, this applies to musicians and composers and equally to bankers and bakers, painters and poets, homemakers and handymen. In the ordering of our small portion of the world we image the Creator. I was made to create. You were made to create. And if you’re not sure what that means for you, or if you’re just not convinced it’s true, read this short book to be persuaded and inspired and (maybe most importantly) disciplined for a life of making stuff.

– Tony Reinke, creator of the book Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books

Stephen Altrogge is a creative guy, and this is a short, easily digestible, Biblical book that will encourage you to be creative and won’t cut into your time to be creative. It’s also full of practical scriptural wisdom on taking criticism and the value of working hard.

– Ted Kluck, award-winning author of several books, including Facing Tyson: Fifteen Fighters, Fifteen Stories and Dallas and the Spitfire

This book is short enough for you to read in an hour, although you may want to take it a few pages at a time, marinating in its wisdom. You’ll not only learn how Stephen finds the time to create art in multiple formats, but you’ll learn from other skilled creatives as well. In Create, you’ll learn how to get started and overcome your fears, how to accept and learn from criticism, how to form habits that will strengthen your creativity, and how to persevere. This will be one of those books that I turn to again and again, when I feel like I’ve gotten stuck on a sandbar.

– Bobby Gilles, songwriter, author, Sojourn Church Director of Communications

Creativity is scary. It’s hard work and it’s time consuming. But it’s oh-so-worth it, and in this fantastic little book Stephen Altrogge reminds us why. He points us to the power and significance of God’s creative image in us and with wit and wisdom pushes us to be creators. He encourages the fearful and prods the lazy with grace and humor. Altrogge draws in those who have yet to express the creativity they recognize hidden inside and he launches forth those who already are seeking to honor Christ with their creative endeavors. I will revisit this book often for the encouragement and inspiration it holds.

– Barnabas Piper, Blogger and columnist for

Admit it. You saw the title of this book and said, “Oh, I’m not creative…” Stop it. Creativity isn’t limited to fancy wordplay, pretty pictures, or clever major/minor key switches. Creativity isn’t something for a special class of people—it’s for stay-at-home moms, baristas and accountants, too. In Create, Stephen Altrogge offers us practical guidance and encouragement in getting over the fears, excuses and setbacks that prevent us from setting ourselves to the task of being creative to the glory of God. Read this book, get motivated and stop making excuses (although accountants, don’t get too creative—I hear the IRS frowns upon such things).

– Aaron Armstrong, author of Awaiting a Savior and Contend, blogger at

What is the purpose for openness?

By Jeremy Oddy

William Smith, in his new book Loving Well: Even If You Haven’t Been, has challenged me to love others better.  I need it, and so does the church.  In one part of the book, he writes about the purpose of openness with one another as Christians.  As a Christian, I want to be more open with others, and they with me.  As a pastor, I want to see a church that thrives in biblical fellowship and community life for the purpose of growing together as disciples, caring for one another as a family, and on mission together as an army of gospel messengers.  So, what is the purpose for openness?  Smith simply states it is for Christians to experience more of Jesus together.  He writes, “Our mutual calling is to live out our faith together, not simply provide solutions to one another.”  When a person opens up his or her life to you, they are actually inviting you to a relationship – to growing together.  Any answers and companionship in suffering you offer exist within the larger context of “we are on a journey together of learning to see and experience more of Christ in us as we live in his kingdom.”  ”Answers are important,” writes Smith, “but they’re not the end goal.”  We do struggle together to make sense of life, but struggle is not the end goal either.  Here is the end goal:  To see a little bit more of Jesus than we did earlier as we open up our lives to one another.

When someone shares their story with you, we may not have all the answers.  We may only understand a little of what they are experiencing.  But what we must do in sharing our lives together, we got to see where Jesus was and what he is doing.

Here are three simple ways that Smith suggests to practice openness with the purpose of experiencing Jesus together:

  1. First, respond by simply appreciating his or her openness as an invitation to share your lives together.
  2. Second, ask questions that invite the other person to share more.
  3. Third, make sure at some point to ask, “where is Jesus involved?”

Christ opened up his life to us, may we open up our lives to one another to experience more of Him together.  May our friendships reflect our lives being shared freely, welcoming one another into our struggles, and growing into the fullness of Christ with one another.

Where are all the churchmen?

By Jeremy Oddy

I just finished a good and brief book on biblical masculinity titled, A Guide to Biblical Manhood: How to Serve Your Wife, How Mold Men through Baseball, How to Make Men in the Church, & More. I was particularly struck with great interest in two charts that were presented in the last chapter: “Autopsy of Men in the Church” and “Effective Churchmen.”

Autopsy of Men in the Church

  • Tired and stressed
  • Chasing idols of success
  • Spiritually weak
  • Committed to values but not to Christ
  • Unaccountable
  • No integrity
  • Preoccupied

Effective Churchmen…

  • Pay close attention to character (1 Timothy 4:16)
  • Protect people (Titus 1:10-17)
  • Respond aggressively to preaching (James 1:19-25; Proverbs 1)
  • Are passionate about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16)
  • Confront sin (Matthew 18:15-20, Galatians 6:1-2)
  • Give themselves away (Matthew 10:39)
  • Give generously of their resources (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
  • Are faithful (2 Timothy 2:2)
  • Are available (1 Peter 2:4-5)
  • Are willing to serve in menial tasks (Philippians 2:3-8)

Have you noticed that the word “churchmen” is not used that often these days? That is sad, because we need more churchmen in our churches today. And we need to talk about it more often.

I am a pastor at a wonderful church. I have the privilege and blessing of being surrounded by many good and effective churchmen. I also see many men who seem to be preoccupied with things outside of the church, apathetic toward the things of God. I have been praying with other pastors and leaders in my church for these men. However, after reading these two charts, I have been moved to greater zeal to pursue these men and to pray more intelligently for them. May you be moved to pray for more churchmen in your church today. Churchmen, we need you. May the ladies and children of our churches not ask, “Where are all the churchmen?”

The joy of repenting: forsaking sin and embracing Christ!

I’ve been reading an excellent book by Jonathan Dodson titled, Gospel-Centered Discipleship. I’ve enjoyed the book immensely thus far. In his excellent chapter, “Gospel Motivation: The Center of Discipleship,” Dodson writes about the gift of repentance. Below, I gathered a few notable and worthy quotes that could help us have a renewed and fresh sense of turning from sin and turning to Christ on a daily, if not, moment by moment basis.

Repentance is not a one-time act to get us into heaven, but an entire way of life to maintain Christian joy…True repentance includes faith. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same gospel coin, one movement made possible by grace…We turn from our sinful behaviors and turn, not to good behaviors, but to Christ. We turn from trust in little gods to trust in the one true God. It is turning from belief in a false promise in order to turn in faith to a true, satisfying promise. Repentance is an exchange of joys, the lesser for the greater…Repentance is a gift from God that compels us to turn away from the fleeting promises of sin and turn to the enduring promises of the gospel…Repenting is for rejoicing! The intoxicating joy of the Lord exposes our lesser joys for what they are – false and empty – and leads us to faith in the true and rewarding promises of God. A gospel-centered disciple rejects the pursuit of perfection and embraces the gift of repentance (pp. 83-85).

Is God Calling You to Be a Pastor?

Justin Taylor (Between Two Worlds)  has a conversation with Dave Harvey, author of the new book Am I Called? The Summons to Pastoral Ministry (Crossway, 2012).

You can read Matt Chandler’s foreword and the first chapter of the book here.

See also these resources.

This Book, Am I Called?, by Dave Harvey is available in the CrossWay Bookstore

20 Quotes from The Explicit Gospel

by Tony Reinke | May 3, 2012

What follows are 20 quotes that caught my attention as I read Matt Chandler’s new book,The Explicit Gospel (Crossway, 2012):

“More often than not, we want him to have fairy wings and spread fairy dust and shine like a precious little star, dispensing nothing but good times on everyone, like some kind of hybrid of Tinker Bell and Aladdin’s Genie. But the God of the Bible, this God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke.” (29)

“We carry an insidious prosperity gospel around in our dark, little, entitled hearts.” (31)

“Because a God who is ultimately most focused on his own glory will be about the business of restoring us, who are all broken images of him. His glory demands it. So we should be thankful for a self-sufficient God whose self-regard is glorious.” (32)

“The universe shudders in horror that we have this infinitely valuable, infinitely deep, infinitely rich, infinitely wise, infinitely loving God, and instead of pursuing him with steadfast passion and enthralled fury — instead of loving him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; instead of attributing to him glory and honor and praise and power and wisdom and strength — we just try to take his toys and run. It is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself.” (39–40)

“This avoidance of the difficult things of Scripture — of sinfulness and hell and God’s notable severity — is idolatrous and cowardly. If a man or a woman who teaches the Scriptures is afraid to explain to you the severity of God, they have betrayed you, and they love their ego more than they love you.” (41)

“If God is most concerned about his name’s sake, then hell ultimately exists because of the belittlement of God’s name, and, therefore, our response to the biblical reality of hell cannot, for our own safety, be the further belittlement of God’s name. Are you tracking with that? Someone who says hell cannot be real, or we can’t all deserve it even if it is real, because God is love is saying that the name and the renown and the glory of Christ aren’t that big of a deal.” (44–45)

“Heaven is not a place for those who are afraid of hell; it’s a place for those who love God. You can scare people into coming to your church, you can scare people into trying to be good, you can scare people into giving money, you can even scare them into walking down an aisle and praying a certain prayer, but you cannot scare people into loving God. You just can’t do it.” (49)

“The hard-won lesson I’ve learned in marriage, something I’m very grateful for knowing now, is that there are some things in my wife’s heart and some struggles she faces in life that I cannot fix. It doesn’t matter how romantic I am; it doesn’t matter how loving I am; it doesn’t matter how many flowers I send, or if I write her poetry, or if I clean the kitchen, or if I take the kids and let her go have girl time — I am powerless to fix Lauren. (And she’s powerless to fix me.) Doing all those things to minister to her are right and good, but there are things in my girl that I can’t fix, things that are between her and the Lord.” (66)

“If we confuse the gospel with response to the gospel, we will drift from what keeps the gospel on the ground, what makes it clear and personal, and the next thing you know, we will be doing a bunch of different things that actually obscure the gospel, not reveal it.” (83)

“He created the flavors! He created the colors. He created it all, and he did it all out of the overflow of his perfections. It’s not like he was thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got some fajita flavoring over here. I know: let’s put it on the cow and the chicken.’ He created the avocado to have a certain flavor; he created the skirt steak, the fillet, and the tenderloin to have certain flavors. That was God’s doing. So every aspect of creation, from the largest galaxy to the tiniest burst of flavor in food or drink or seasoning, radiates the goodness of God.” (102)

“It is easy to see that you and I have been created to worship. We’re flat-out desperate for it. From sports fanaticism to celebrity tabloids to all the other strange sorts of voyeurisms now normative in our culture, we evidence that we were created to look at something beyond ourselves and marvel at it, desire it, like it with zeal, and love it with affection. Our thoughts, our desires, and our behaviors are always oriented around something, which means we are always worshiping — ascribing worth to — something. If it’s not God, we are engaging in idolatry. But either way, there is no way to turn the worship switch in our hearts off.” (103)

“No change of job, no increased income, no new home, no new electronic device, or no new spouse is going to make things better inside of you.” (118)

“The cross of Christ is first and centrally God’s means of reconciling sinful people to his sinless self. But it is bigger than that too. From the ground we see the cross as our bridge to God. From the air, the cross is our bridge to the restoration of all things. The cross of the battered Son of God is the battering ram through the blockade into Eden. It is our key into a better Eden, into the wonders of the new-covenant kingdom, of which the old was just a shadow. The cross is the linchpin in God’s plan to restore all creation. Is it any wonder, then, that the empty tomb opened out into a garden?” (142–143)

“No matter what our job is, we view it not as our purpose in life but rather as where God has sovereignly placed us for the purpose of making Christ known and his name great. If you are a teacher, if you are a politician, if you are a businessman, if you are in agriculture, if you are in construction, if you are in technology, if you are in the arts, then you should not be saying, ‘I need to find my life’s purpose in this work,’ but rather, ‘I need to bring God’s purpose to this work.’” (149)

“The reconciling gospel is always at the forefront of the church’s social action, because a full belly is not better than a reconciled soul.” (150)

“Engaging the city around us and ministering to its needs reveal to us the remaining bastions of sin in our lives, the areas we refuse to surrender to God.” (181)

“Once we remove the bloody atonement as satisfaction of God’s wrath for sin, the wheels really come off. Where the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross is preached and proclaimed, missions will not spin off to a liberal shell of a lifeless message but will stay true to what God has commanded the church to be in the Scriptures.” (198)

“The marker of those who understand the gospel of Jesus Christ is that, when they stumble and fall, when they screw up, they run to God and not from him, because they clearly understand that their acceptance before God is not predicated upon their behavior but on the righteous life of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death.” (211)

“Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success. This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that love results from obedience.” (217–218)

“Church of Jesus, let us please be men and women who understand the difference between moralism and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s be careful to preach the dos and don’ts of Scripture in the shadow of the cross’s ‘Done!’” (221)


The Explicit Gospel By Matt Chandler is now available in the CrossWay Bookstore 

See the promotional Video below