mgpcpastor's blog

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

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Pastoral Care In The Context Of Corporate Worship (via William Willimon)

Another quote from another of Willimon’s books, this time about pastoral care as produced by corporate worship.
If the desire is primarily for therapeutic and didactic outcomes, and not God, this will not occur in the same way as when God and worship of Him is the focus of gathering.

…the first and foremost purpose of our worship is to respond to God. In its most basic sense, worship has no other function than the joyful, ecstatic, abandon that comes when we meet and are met by God. Any attempt to use worship to educate, manipulate, or titillate can be a serious perversion of worship. As I noted earlier, much of our Sunday morning worship, especially in Protestant churches, has been flattened to a purely human enterprise in which people are the chief focus of our liturgy rather than God. While motivation for social action, comforting of grieving people, or education into a broader knowledge of the faith may all be worthy goals, if worship is viewed as only a technique of achieving these goals, worship is being used and thereby abused. God is not to be used for our own purposes, not even for our own good purposes. My thesis is this chapter is not that we should use the liturgy as a new method of pastoral care but that the liturgy itself and a congregation’s experience of divine worship already functions, even if in a secondary way, as pastoral care. The pastoral care that occurs as we are meeting and being met by God in worship is a significant by-product that we have too often overlooked.

Worship as Pastoral Care William H. Willimon (Abingdon Press, 1979), pg 47-48

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Evangelism In Honour/Shame Cultures

This article by Jackson Wu provides four keys to communicating the Gospel to people from honour/shame cultures.

Traditional presentations mainly use legal language, focus on individuals, stress the futility of works, and appeal to people’s fear of pain, whether physical or psychological. I didn’t do that.
Instead, I highlighted a basic but often overlooked fact: honor and shame are inherent to the gospel.
What’s more, humans have a basic desire for honor. Everyone wants to be accepted and even praised by others. So-called “honor-shame” cultures exist in the East and the West.
With this mind, we should rethink how we do evangelism. If honor-shame remains a blind spot, we won’t see fully how the gospel addresses the needs of all people. Therefore, I will mention four key ideas for sharing the gospel in honor-shame cultures.

Wu expands on these four headings in the article:
1. People
Focus more on who people are, not simply what they do.
2. Praise
Find out whom it is that people most want to please. Whose praise (or criticism) do they care about?
3. Power
To whom do people give their allegiance? Whom do they follow? For whom do they generally conform?
4. Practical
Show people the gospel makes a practical difference.

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Ministering To Those Who Limp (via To Show Them Jesus)

A helpful article on ministering to folk whose spiritual lives seem to be constant struggle.

If you’ve been in ministry long enough, you’ll find yourself helping someone whose problems never seem to abate. You repeatedly remind them of the gospel and of who they are in Christ. For a while, they seem to find some peace and then, like the returning winter cold that leaves arthritic joints swollen and aching, their struggles flare up again. They stumble and fall. Perhaps you’ve grown weary and frustrated of having to help them up time and time again.
Helping those whose lives are marred with scars and who wobble forward with weak legs in their Christian journey is part of what it means to be in community in the Body of Christ.

Read the whole piece here.

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Chinese Dumplings Made And Cooked In Three Seconds

This is for foodies and engineers.
If you’re both then happy days.

Here’s three second crumbed prawns.


Come Witness This Gospel To Me – Sunday Songs

I’m captivated by Come Witness This Gospel To Me by Zac Hicks.
There are lyrics in this song that I just want to repeat over and over again.
Sheet music available here.

The lyrics:
O Holy Spirit, O One who was there
To witness the anger that God didn’t spare
To witness a verdict both just and unfair
O Holy Spirit, O One who was there
You saw on His face all the judgment of hell
My story of shame that I cannot untell
How heavy my burden of blame when it fell!
You saw on His face all the judgment of hell
Come witness this gospel to me
Remembrancer, this is my plea:
Preach Christ till He’s all that I see
Come witness this gospel to me
You saw in His dying the death of my sin
The Son’s bleeding body, I’m hidden therein
Where all of my poison He drank deep within
You saw in His dying the death of my sin
You’re preaching a grace that is forever free
There’s no condemnation, no wrath left for me
I hear “It is finished” from Calvary’s tree
You’re preaching a grace that is forever free
Chorus 2
Now witness this gospel to me
Remembrancer, cause me to see
That Christ is my one victory
Now witness this gospel to me
Chorus 3
You witness this gospel to me
Forgiveness eternally free
And always Your child I will be
You witness this gospel to me
O Spirit, the truth I now see
You witness this gospel to me

Words & Music: Zac Hicks, 2014
©2014 Unbudding Fig Music (ASCAP)

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Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 9

Westminster Shorter Catechism – Lord’s Day 9

Q & A 13
Q Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.*1

Q & A 14
Q What is sin?
A Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.*2

Q & A 15
Q What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.*3

Q & A 16
Q Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
A The covenant being made with Adam,4 not only for himself, but for his posterity; all mankind, descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.5

*1 Genesis 3:6-8, 13; 2 Corinthians 11:3.

*2 Leviticus 5:17; James 4:17; 1 John 3:4.

*3 Genesis 3:6.

*4 Genesis 2:16-17;James 2:10.
*5 Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:22.

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The Ultimate Proof That There Is No Eloquent, Rhetorically Savvy Pathway To God.

If you’re listening to a preacher tomorrow, hopefully they’re not trying to lift you up to heaven with their words.
(Or worse by the music)
Their language should point you instead to the fact that God comes down to us.

From William Willimon.

The cross is a reminder that there is no eloquent, rhetorically savvy way by which we can ascend to God. All of our attempts to climb up to God are our pitiful efforts at self-salvation. God descends to our level by climbing on a cross, opening up his arms, and dying for us, because of us, with us. Paul’s thoughts on the foolishness of preaching that avoids “lofty words of wisdom” suggests that Christian rhetoric tends to be simple, restrained, and direct – much like the parables of Jesus. The Puritans developed what they called the “plain style” of preaching out of a conviction that Christian speech ought not to embellish, ought not to mislead hearers into thinking they there was some way for a sermon to work in the hearts and minds of the hearers apart from the gift of the Holy Spirit that makes sermons work.
Proclamation and Theology By William H. Willimon, pg 70.