Vacations are good for pastors. Especially ones that take place in Palm Desert, California. Thanks to the generosity of friends, our family was able to enjoy a week in the sun with our greatest concern being what time to go to the pool.
Palm Desert is an amazing place because of what it’s not. Think about it. If not for all the water channeled there it would be a barren wasteland. Instead, it’s a place with lush green grass, towering palm trees, and flowers and plants bursting with color. I love it. And it’s all the more majestic with the backdrop of the brown mountains and desert sands serving as the canvas for this symphony of vegetation.
In addition to swim, I was also able to take some long runs and think about ministry. As I looked out over the incredible landscape of the desert I began to marvel at how such beauty could come from something once so ugly. This is when Palm Desert became for me a parable for the Christian life, and a new sermon series was born. I’m calling it “All Things New.”
The simple premise of the series is that the Christian is a person for which all things are made new. Our lives were once spiritually barren, a wasteland with nothing to offer God but our guilt and shame. But He’s drenched us in His love, a love that bled and died and rose again. The gospel of Jesus Christ has come to us in the power of the Holy Spirit giving life to the dead. Now our lives are beginning to show, if ever so faintly, radiant colors of Christlikeness. God is taking our sin-ravaged lives and making them into something beautiful. As the apostle Paul declares, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).
I plan to take Sunday mornings in May to meditate with you on this great reality. We’ll begin by considering the Christian as nothing less than a new creation. The gospel isn’t about moral tweaking in our lives, but a radical reconstruction of our whole being (Cf., 2 Cor. 5:17). Next, we’ll consider the Christian’s new standing before our holy God — a standing as one justified in his sight (Cf., Rom. 5:1). From a new standing we’ll move to our new life in the Spirit. In the gospel God calls us to “serve in the new way of the Spirit” (Rom. 7:6). What a liberating truth! Finally, we will look at the Christian’s new message. As “ambassadors for Christ” we appeal to the world to be reconciled to God. Indeed, we have the ultimate message of hope for today and eternity. In this sense, the Christian is one who is always on mission until Christ calls us home or comes again.
I’m deeply grateful to serve a church who believes vacations are good for her pastors. I’m refreshed and ready to marvel with you at how God in Christ is making all things new.