mgpcpastor's blog

reports, reviews, thoughts, news (and fun) posted by Gary Ware

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Gospel-Motivated Church Attendance (via Matt Manry)

The Gospel produces love for, and a desire to be with, other Christians in worship.

From Matt Manry:

Gospel-Motivated Church Attendance
There is no doubt that what we need to recover in the life of Christians today is a gospel-motivated church attendance. What might this look like? Well, in my opinion it’s demonstrating the fact that when the church gathers on the Lord’s day, she proclaims the gospel, meditates on the gospel, and rehearses the gospel. By doing this, lives will begin to fundamentally change. It really is just that simple.
When the gospel is at the center our focus shifts. We no longer view church attendance as something we just need to check off, but as an intricate part of our spiritual lives. Instead of serving the god of individuality, we will be serving the God of Scripture. The gospel changes everything. However, we must first let the gospel change our low views of the church, and recognize that the house of the Lord is absolutely vital to the Christian life—to the life of a mature disciple. Should not the good news of Jesus Christ dying for our sins motivate us enough to enter into God’s house on Sundays? I would say so.
We are all at different points in our spiritual walks with the Lord. No matter what point you are at on your journey, I hope that you will come to see the importance of attending church. Do not be so narcissistic and self-consumed to think that you do not need the body of Christ.

Read the whole post here.

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The Anger Of Grace – Where God’s Justice And God’s Mercy Meet (via Paul Tripp)

An excerpt from a post by Paul Tripp at Liberate:

The Anger of Grace
Let’s be very clear. God’s anger is the anger of grace. It isn’t the violent anger of unbridled and unrighteous fury. God’s anger always works to right what’s wrong. That’s what grace does. This gracious anger has two sides to it: justice and mercy. In the gracious anger of justice, God works to punish wrong, but he does even more. God isn’t satisfied merely with punishing wrong. His hunger for right is so strong that he will not relent until wrong has been completely destroyed. He will not rest until evil is no more and justice and righteousness reign forever and ever!
There is also another side to his gracious anger. It’s the anger of mercy. In mercy he works to convict—that is, to produce in us a sorrow for the wrongs that we think, say, and do. In mercy he works to forgive—that is, to clear our moral debt. In mercy he works to empower—that is, to give us everything we need to resist wrong and to do what’s right. And in mercy he works to deliver. He won’t be satisfied until every microbe of sin is completely eradicated from every cell of the heart of every one of his children.
Where do we see both sides of God’s anger coming together in one moment? On that hill outside the city gates where Jesus hung. That’s where we see justice and mercy kiss. As he hung there, Jesus bore the full weight of the justice of God’s anger. He paid the penalty our sin required. And on the cross Jesus became the instrument of God’s merciful anger that every sinner needs. He purchased our forgiveness.

Read the whole post here.

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The Names Of Jesus by Warren Wiersbe – Kindle Edition Free For Limited Time

Names-Of-JesusThe Names Of Jesus by Warren Wiersbe should have a lot of helpful devotional content.
Wiersbe explores fourteen names of Jesus from both the Old and New Testaments and explains their meaning as well as their relevance to believers today.
Go have look for yourself and download at Amazon.

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Songlists From WorshipGod 14 Conference (via Bob Kauflin)

I like posts that feature song lists from various Christian conferences.
They provide an opportunity to see what is being sung, and what combinations are being used.
Bob Kauflin has posted the songs used at the WorshipGod 14 conference, with links to various sources.
Here’s one day’s listing.
Praise God
There is One Reason
Our Only Hope is You
Man of Sorrows
My Redeemer’s Love
Here is Love
Behold Our God
See them all here.

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Expectant Churches Versus Reactive Churches (via Chuck Lawless)

Chuck Lawless summarises his own work on expectant versus reactive churches.
When I get weary I trend more to the reactive spectrum.
There’s a bunch of things that I call my ‘to do’ list.
More of them were actioned in my early days at MGPC.
Over the last few years the pace has slowed.
I’m hoping after my leave that I can pick it up again.
It’s not for lack of encouragement, partnership and support. That’s present in abundance.
It’s just me.

Here’s the relevant part of the article:

REACTIVE churches . . .

  • have no recognized vision. They may have a vision statement, but it is simply a sentence on paper. With no clear direction, the congregation wanders in multiple directions.
  • are led by “fireman” leaders. That is, their leaders spend their time “putting out fires” rather than casting vision and raising up leaders. Keeping the congregation happy today consumes more energy than preparing them for tomorrow.
  • try seemingly every program available. Every new approach is considered a “fix” for the church’s concerns, and leaders change their approaches recurrently. Members are program-weary.
  • prioritize dollars to the point of immobility. Perhaps the congregation has faced in the past – or is currently facing – financial stress. Because of fear, they refuse to take any steps that involve financial risk.
  • seek simply to keep what they currently have. Maintaining the status quo is the goal: the same leaders, the same programs, the same order of service, the same building. Change is unwelcomed.
  • pray primarily in response to needs. A family erupts, and then the church prays. The monthly budget report is alarming, and thus they pray. Even their praying is reactionary.
  • generally lag behind in using technology. They may use multimedia, but they do so only with reluctance. Even then, they feel like culture has forced them in this direction.
  • have no master site plan. The church is focused on survival today, not expansion tomorrow. No one has invested in facility planning for the future.
  • are easily divided. Because the congregation has no driving vision, the smallest disagreements become growing fires – until the firefighter leader steps in to quench them.
  • would be surprised by growth. The congregation does not expect growth. They have no programming, structures, or personnel in place for future growth. If God were to bless them with growth, they would not know how to raise the new believers.

EXPECTANT churches . . .

  • have a clear sense of vision. Staff and lay leaders alike know and affirm the church’s vision. That vision factors into every budgetary and programming decision the congregation makes.
  • are led by “ignitor” leaders. That is, their leaders see their responsibility as igniting fires among the congregation. They ignite a passion for God, a fervor for evangelism, a burden for the world, and a desire to achieve the church’s vision.
  • plan strategically in using programs. Programming decisions are not made quickly. Leaders do their homework to evaluate whether a program fits the church’s culture and vision. They devote energy to making programs effective.
  • train members to give sacrificially. They know they can accomplish God’s vision only if His people give sacrificially and cheerfully. Thus, they teach financial stewardship with expectancy.
  • are never comfortable with the status quo. The leaders and the congregation are continually focused on what is still to come. In fact, change is the norm. A bit of chaos is not threatening if it propels the church forward.
  • pray not only in response to needs, but also in preparation for the future. They pray for one another’s needs, but they also pray about yet-to-be reached people, yet-to-be built buildings, and yet-to-be fulfilled plans.
  • lead the way in using technology. The church is on the cutting edge of utilizing resources to reach the world. Indeed, they have even learned to pastorally bring along an older generation still figuring out technology.
  • have a master site plan. They understand that facility decisions they make today affect the future – and vice-versa. The goals they have for the future influence the decisions they make today.
  • do not allow potential division to fester. Clarity of vision and strength of infrastructure (particularly, small groups and accountability) weaken any stronghold of division that might develop.
  • anticipate growth. Their “nursery” is ready for any baby Christians God gives them. Indeed, they grieve when growth does not happen.


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The Pastor As Starving Chef

These last couple of weeks before leave are like walking through a wind-tunnel. Into the wind, obviously.
And with the conclusion of a series through Hebrews I’ve got a couple of morning preaches without the luxury of them being part of a series.
This article on pastors as starving chefs resonates a fair bit at the moment.

An excerpt:

We are so often driven to Scripture out of need. But unfortunately, it’s rarely the need of our own hearts or souls that drive us. We need something to teach others, something to preach to the crowd, something to say to someone in crisis.
Simply to feast
We pastors are like starving chefs, working diligently to prepare the best meals we can for others while our own souls run the risk of withering away.
We too rarely approach the table simply to feast on what God has prepared for us. We rarely come to Scripture with our own hearts in mind.
Why? Because we too rarely approach the table simply to eat, to enjoy, to feast on what God has prepared for us. We rarely come to Scripture with our own hearts in mind.
Worse, the way we approach the place of Scripture in our lives is often in direct contradiction to the Gospel of grace we preach.

Read the whole piece here.

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Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian – Kindle Edition Free Again For A Limited Time

Tullian Tchividjian’s Glorious Ruin is currently available for free at Amazon in its Kindle Edition.
It was available last year.
I know Tchividjian has been involved in recent controversies over sanctification; discerning readers will get much out this.

Glorious-Ruin-199x300In this world, one thing is certain: Everybody hurts. Suffering may take the form of tragedy, heartbreak, or addiction. Or it could be something more mundane (but no less real) like resentment, loneliness, or disappointment. But there’s unfortunately no such thing as a painless life. In Glorious Ruin, best-selling author Tullian Tchividjian takes an honest and refreshing look at the reality of suffering, the ways we tie ourselves in knots trying to deal with it, and the comfort of the gospel for those who can’t seem to fix themselves—or others.
This is not so much a book about Why God allows suffering or even How we should approach suffering—it is a book about the tremendously liberating and gloriously counterintuitive truth of a God who suffers with you and for you. It is a book, in other words, about the kind of hope that takes the shape of a cross.