mgpcpastor's blog

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

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Footy Tipping 2015 – NRL Round 4

Seven out of eight.
Stupid Canberra. So close.

NRL (last round 7/8; season tally 15/24)
New Zealand (in New Zealand)

Oh, and Australia in the cricket.

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Salvation Accomplished

The Border Watch called this article ‘Salvation Accomplished’.
The idea was to cross the themes of Palm Sunday with thoughts about the public reaction to the recent death of former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.

News of the death of Malcolm Fraser has evoked a varied range of responses. In contrast to Gough Whitlam, who occupied a fixed position on the political and social spectrum, Mr Fraser has been considered to have changed his attitudes over the decades. Senator David Leyonhjelm’s characterisation that Mr Fraser “was a right-wing extremist when I first knew him and he was a left-wing extremist when he died” is blunt, but understandable to those of us who witnessed the fury expressed against him in the seventies and the esteem afforded to him in his later days, by pretty much the same people; along with the present day ambivalence of those who lauded his achievements in decades past.
This can be seen as tributes to Mr Fraser seem to be partitioned to acknowledge the times when his actions most closely aligned with the values of those speaking, while cordoning off the periods where principles diverged.
On the weekend many Christians will recall the celebrated arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. To mark his arrival the crowds laid down palm branches and sang out a welcome acknowledging him as sent by God. They recognised his riding a donkey as a fulfilment of a divine promise of a ruler who would arrive in peace, not conquest.
And yet, less than a week later, those same voices cried out in condemnation. They would be satisfied with nothing less than Jesus’ death.
It’s easy to understand the condemnation Jesus received by the political class, who would take no chances with one who they perceived may have been a threat to their power. In the same way, the religious class also desperately wanted to rid themselves of the one who threatened their positions as conduits to God.
But why the crowds? Why did those who would have crowned him at the beginning of the week cry out for crucifixion by its end?
Had Jesus changed his positions or attitudes during that week? Not in the slightest.
Jesus was rejected by the masses because he would not take up the sword and become a military conqueror; nor would he provide for them assurances that by either bloodline or effort that they were right with God.
Public opinion turned on Jesus because he would not be the political or spiritual saviour the people desired.
The Bible shows us, however, that he was the Saviour that the public needed.
It’s not so much that God’s salvation was not what people expected, as that the salvation God sent was rejected with extreme prejudice.
But, paradoxically, his condemnation and crucifixion were the means by which salvation was achieved.
Christians spend weeks each year in special focus on God’s achievement of redemption through the self same actions by which humanity was seeking to reject that salvation.
In doing so we celebrate a wisdom and love that overcame our rebellion and lostness. We give thanks that Jesus did not change to be what we wanted, but instead changes us to what we need to be.

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The Preacher As Listener (via William Willimon)

(You can tell I’m enjoying Proclamation And Theology, can’t you?)

The preacher is the one who is ordained by the church to engage in listening to the text in behalf of the church, listening to the church so that the preacher might listen with them to the text. Preachers are sometimes characterised as great talkers. But if we are effective and faithful, we are actually good listeners.

William Willimon, Proclamation And Theology, Abingdon Press, pg 41.

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Happy Bovines

Here’s a couple of videos for the Bovineophiles.

A machine called ‘Happy Cow’ doing its job.

A little personal attention goes a long way.

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The Bible Living In Its Native Habitat (via William Willimon)

From William H. Willimon on the Biblical Word:

…Scripture is not merely a helpful resource for preaching, it is the genesis of preaching, the rationale for preaching, the substance and the means of preaching. When we preach from the Scriptures, to the congregation, the Bible is living in its native habitat. It is functioning as it was intended. When the Bible is given over to scholars in some college department of religion who are subservient to the academy rather than to the church, it is often made to answer questions that are of little interest to the originating intentions of Scripture itself.

William H. Willimon, Proclamation And Theology, Abidingdon Press, pg 26.

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Any Other Way by Jill Phillips (and Andy Gullahorn)

The Rabbitroom featured Any Other Way as their song of the week.
I’ve featured it before; it deserves to be featured again.
A song about trust, marriage and how promise can see the marriage grow stronger when trust has been compromised.
At the page link you can hear Phillip’s recording of the song (and see a discount code for the album from which it comes).
In this video her husband Andy provides his rendition after providing some of the background to the song’s creation.
If I could have found an embeddable version by Phillips I would have included it here as well.

The lyrics:
Do you remember that Monday when
The world fell out beneath our feet
Both surprised that we had been
So close to losing everything
Putting one foot in front of the other
felt like such a long, hard step to take
We thought about moving and starting again
But it was something we could never outrun so we just stayed
I wouldn’t have it any other way
I wouldn’t have it any other way

Gaining back the trust we lost
Was harder than just losing it
But if we wanted change at all
The pain was a prerequisite
So little by little, a piece at a time
We were putting back together what was left of a broken life
It wasn’t quick, it wasn’t easy
But that kind of change isn’t one that happens overnight
I wouldn’t have it any other way
I wouldn’t have it any other way

When we first met, love was a feeling
But making it last, that’s a decision
A good decision

When we watch the kids run through the yard
Sometimes I just can’t help but think
That every bit of what it cost
Was worth it for this family
‘cause I wouldn’t have it any other way
I wouldn’t have it any other way
I wouldn’t have it any other way

Words and Music by Jill Phillips
From “The Good Things” CD
(c) Jill Phillips

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Pastors Who Talk Too Much About Jesus (via Valiant For Truth Blog)

From the Valiant For Truth blog, a pastor’s reflection on listeners who want to leave a sermon having heard the Gospel referenced, but who really want a list of things to do and not to do.

I once had a colleague tell me that a wealthy businessman and member of his congregation privately approached him and said, “I am prepared to donate a lot of money to the church, but I have this one condition. Please stop talking about Jesus so much and just tell me what I need to do. Give me a list each week of things I can do.” The pastor was somewhat discouraged but at the same time bemused at how anyone could ask him to stop preaching about Christ. I know, the first thought that likely comes to mind is that this preacher was only talking about Jesus and never offered points of application in his sermon. This wasn’t the case. The preacher was solid—he preached Christ and applied the text. The problem wasn’t with the preacher but with the church member.
I think this man’s request, while perhaps foolish, expresses a common desire among people in the pews. We want to hear about the grace of the gospel, but we also want a checklist. We want the preacher to give us a list of things to do so we can go home, check off every item on the list, and walk away with a sense of accomplishment. “Husbands, love your wives as Christ has loved the church.” Ok, grace of the gospel, check. Love my wife, check. Wash the dishes, check. Use soap, check. Dry the dishes, check. Put them away (in the right place—this is for you, wife of my youth), check. Am I sanctified this week? Check. Check lists give us a sense that we have fulfilled the demands of the law and that we’ve grown in our sanctification. The problem with checklist spirituality is, however, that there is no list exhaustive enough to cover every demand of the law in every circumstance in life, whether in word, thought, or deed.
If my colleague had taken the bribe (that’s what is essentially was) and given his church lists of things to do, his church coffers would have been fuller, but his congregation would have been spiritually impoverished. They would have failed to see that they needed Christ, above all else, and that only Christ can give us the wisdom we need to know how to pursue sanctification and how to apply the gospel to every facet of life. Spiritual lists can be helpful at times, but never think that just because you’ve checked off the boxes that you’ve somehow exhausted the depths of the demands of the law. Seek Christ in whom are hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Read the whole article here.