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No more pressure January 6, 2011

Posted by clintcarter in God.
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The human experience is all about earning approval.  That’s how we measure each other’s worth.  That’s how we know who we should hang out with and who we shouldn’t.  We all intuitively know that to be somebody we have to do something.  But the problem is that approval is a terrible master.  No matter how much you do or what you have accomplished, it always demands more.

Even a lot of religious activity is based on earning approval.  I order my life around certain charitable activities so that God will be pleased or I’ll feel good about myself.  I measure myself according to what I’ve done lately.  To be approved requires merit.  It requires something be earned.

This is the foundation of the gospel.  Approval is necessary to be accepted by God.  Yet the good news is that someone else earned the approval that I never could.  They offered their merit in exchange for my shortcomings.  Because of Jesus, there isn’t anything I need to do today to earn God’s approval.  I am completely loved and wholly accepted.

This frees me in a life-shaking way.  There is no longer any pressure for me to accomplish.  Instead the pressure is replaced with excitement; excitement at the opportunities to display my affection to God because of His gift in Jesus.  I can now live on a different plane.  My life is about displaying affection.


Being like Daddy August 30, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Family, God, Life.

Why is it that kids want to be like their fathers?  Regardless of what type of influence a man exerts, his children will imitate him.  What is it that is so irresistible for a child?

Don’t know that I have an answer for this.  But I see it in my own life.  There are things that I do today because I watched my dad do them.  Almost none of them are a conscious choice on my part.  Some of them are positive, some of them are negative.  But the reality is that it’s not easy to escape their influence.

Even if I don’t understand the reasoning behind it, I do recognize the great responsibility this leaves me with regarding my own children.  Not that they should be the motivation for what I do, but it’s not unreasonable to evaluate my behavior by asking if I want my kids doing that someday.

I started thinking about this when I came across these words in the Bible “Be imitators of God, as dearly loved children”.  For so many people, their motivation for living a “good” life is something else – impressing other people, proving something to themselves, etc.  But if I believe what the Bible is saying here, my motivation for living a life that imitates God is because I am a treasured child.  If that’s true, then my actions should flow naturally out of who I am, just as a kid imitates his dad without thinking about it.  And when I do something contrary to God’s nature, it’s because I’ve forgotten who and whose I am.

My only good April 12, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in God.

Reading in the book of Mark this morning.  Listen to what Jesus said:

Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.

This is one area where I often don’t believe Jesus – at least if you look into my heart.  I regularly see myself as a good person and think that it’s the stuff outside of me that messes me up.  But, if I take Jesus seriously, then I am the villain.  I am the one rebelling against God and His ways.

Now this is diametrically opposed to the message in our culture.  Our world is, as David Platt says, a land of self-improvement.  We’re all about self-sufficiency, self-esteem, and self-confidence. And I fall right in line with the piper and his tune.

The thing I like to ignore and gloss over is that I am really messed up.  I am an incredibly selfish person.  I am far more interested in serving myself than those around me, even the people I love like my wife and kids.  And I’m sure not interested in serving a Divine Being – unless of course I will get something out of the deal.  No one taught me how to do this.  I’m not like this because of my environment.  I am just a mess.

Because of this, I need a Savior.  I need someone who will not only satisfy the debt of my rebellion, but someone who will give me a new identity and the power to be a different person.  Herein lies the beauty of Jesus and His gospel.

One more quote from David Platt that has the potential to change a perspective, change a worldview, change a life.  Not because Mr. Platt is such a great thinker, but because of such a great truth.

Our understanding of who God is and who we are drastically affects our understanding of who Christ is and why we need him.

I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. Tim Keller

Misunderstood March 8, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in God, Life.
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Have you ever been misunderstood?  Have you ever had people question your motives?  I’m going through a bit of that right now.  It is a painful thing to have people accuse you of things that aren’t true.  Especially when you can’t defend yourself.

In the middle of feeling sorry for myself, one of my friends reminded me that Jesus went through a similar experience – of course the consequences were quite a bit harsher then anything I’ll face.  But He knows what it’s like to be falsely accused and not defend Himself.  He had and still has people who completely misunderstand who He was or what He came to do.

I was reminded by another friend that God is Glorious.  The approval and acceptance He offers me far outweighs the perception of any other person.  He knows my intentions, motivation and thoughts.  In this instance I have nothing to hide and no reason to try to prove myself.

My first podcast March 1, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Church, Church Planting, God.
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I offer you my first podcast ever!!  You can listen to it or download it from this site.


I’m pretty sure this is the longest I’ve ever talked in my life 🙂

Changing me February 24, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in God, Life.
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The religious tradition I grew up in held a high view of personal evangelism with this definition – telling someone about Jesus and asking them if they would like to receive Him as their personal Lord and Savior.  Evangelism was something to aspire to – an activity for the spiritually elite.  This regularly caused a great deal of anxiety on my part.  I felt that my ability to please or disappoint God lay primarily in this one thing.  I constantly struggled with feeling like it was something I should do, but didn’t want to – which made me feel even worse about myself.

All of that has changed in the last 8 months.  I have begun to see the gospel in a new light.  I always knew that Jesus came to save me from my sins.  What I missed was that He also came to save me from my righteousness – even my attempts at doing things to please God.  I now realize (at least most of the time) that I can’t do anything to earn God’s favor.  I have to believe that the work Jesus did through his life, death and resurrection is sufficient to provide me with right standing before God and complete acceptance.

The other major misunderstanding I had of the gospel was that it was the A,B,C’s.  Sort of the first steps, the starting place and then as you mature, you move on to deeper spiritual things.  The thing that has revolutionized my understanding is that the gospel is the A to Z.  Even on this side of salvation, I still have no hope of pleasing God apart from Christ and his work on my behalf.  This realization has been incredibly humbling and incredibly freeing.

Humbling because I can’t do anything for it, it’s all grace and I don’t deserve it.  Freeing because I don’t have to do anything.  I can rest in the gift and give up striving to prove myself.

This has changed my approach to evangelism.  No longer am I trying to convince someone that they need something that I’ve found – which reeks of superiority.  Instead it’s about sharing with someone else that for which I am in constant need of.  The only message I have to offer is the same one I preach to myself everyday.  It’s bread for anyone who is hungry.

I have had more conversations about the gospel and given more explanations of what it is in the past 2 months, than in the previous 5 years combined.  And none of it has flowed out of obligation or guilt.  It hasn’t come from a place of trying to convince the unconvinced.  It has stemmed from faith in the grace God has and will continue to show me.  It is lived out in a life of gratitude and a desire to love people regardless of if they ever accept the gift.

Prodigal God February 17, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in Books, God.
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I read this book a few months ago and then our church has been reading it together over the past few weeks.  I rarely rank books I’ve read, but this one was so good that I’d have to say it’s one of my top 5 reads of all time.  It’s a short, manageable book with a concept that has the potential to revolutionize the way you view Christianity.

It’s based on the well-known parable of the Prodigal Son told by Jesus.  Yet as the book points out, it is really a story about 2 Lost Sons and a Prodigal Father.  The younger son only wanted his father’s things and broke all of the rules to get them.  The elder brother was also only interested in his father’s things but kept all of the rules to get them.  Both of them were more interested in the father’s stuff then in the father himself.

Jesus told this story in the presence of two groups of people – sinners and Pharisees.  The first group was trying to control their lives through self-discovery and breaking the rules of society.  The second group was trying to control their lives by religious moralism and obeying all of the rules.  The point of Jesus story is that both groups were lost.

Tim Keller does a fantastic job of helping us see the parable in its first century cultural context and how outraged and confused its initial hearers would have been.  Tim also poignantly brings it to bear on our own lives and culture.

I recommend this book to both “younger” and “elder” brothers.  Whether you’ve been trying to find your way by being very, very bad or very, very good – you need to hear and understand the solution Jesus presents.  If you’re not a reader or want to go deeper you can find the free sermon series here that Tim Keller preached on this parable.

33 down, 1 to go January 8, 2010

Posted by clintcarter in God, Life.
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Today is my 33rd birthday.  I’ve always figured that 33 would be a significant year.  Jesus accomplished a great deal in the year He turned 33, so I have high hopes for myself this year:)  In order to accomplish big things, I have 3 goals.

1) Understand and Believe the Gospel more deeply – I want to grow in awareness of my depravity and sinfulness so that I will be more amazed by what Jesus did on my behalf.  Then let that be the motivation for all that I do.

2) Lead Carey, Madi, Emma, Payton, and Alli to understand and believe the gospel more deeply

3) Lead my friends, both current and those yet to be, to understand and believe the gospel more deeply

If I look back next year at this time and see progress in my life on all three fronts – it will have been a very successful year.

The other pastor September 15, 2009

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, God.
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At Crosstown Church we believe in leadership by a team of Biblically qualified elder/pastors.  As of right now there are 2 of us.  Ben and me.  There will be more someday, but for now there’s not.

One of my favorite things about Ben is his ability to teach God’s Word.  Right now on Sunday nights we’re doing a hybrid between a Bible study and a worship service.  Sometimes the preacher in Ben starts coming out and I absolutely love it.  I love his passion for God and the Scriptures.  His wisdom and depth of insight continually amaze me.  God shows me something new every time I sit under Ben’s teaching.

Sunday night he was talking about serving God and brought up the passage where Jesus says “you can’t serve both God and money.”  We talked about what it means to serve money and that you don’t serve money by doing something for it.  You serve it by being controlled by it and seeking the delight it can bring you.

Jesus draws a parallel between how we interact with money and how we interact with God.  Am I finding delight in God and what He offers?  Am I yielding myself to His control?  Am I dedicating myself to the pursuit of God?

Thanks Ben for bringing this up and challenging me once again.

California June 17, 2009

Posted by clintcarter in Church Planting, God.
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So I’m in California this week.  Today I played frisbee golf and elbow tag with a bunch of guys that are college campus ministers – really they’re just grown-up youth ministers.

Oh yeah, and I’m going to Missionary Support School everyday from 8-5.  Eye-opening teaching on Biblical apologetics for raising support.  Some very practical plans of implementation.  Plus a whole lot of role playing and working through our presentations.

On the front side I really wondered if raising support could be done in a way that both honors God and the individuals.  After 2 days I’m convinced not only that it can be, but that it’s a privilege to share what God is doing and invite people to be apart of that.  If God has truly called us (which I believe He has) to fulfill His plans in OKC – than supporting His purposes is one of the wisest investments possible.  And in fact, as I’ve listened to the stories of these other missionaries and the work that God has called them to, I want to give to their visions.  Once I get home and talk with Carey, we will be choosing some of them to partner with by investing in God’s kingdom work through them.

One thing that stuck with me from our commissioning service last month.  The speaker said “You need to pray more for missions.  You need to give more to missions.  You need to go more and be personally involved in missions.”  And he said this to a room full of people that were giving their lives to full time missions service!  And he was absolutely right.  I need to be doing all three of those things in ever increasing measure for the rest of my life.  Regardless of how much I am praying, giving, or going, I always need to be challenged, encouraged, and inspired to do more.

And that is taking place this week.