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A Prayer About Weary Servants of the Gospel (via Scotty Smith)

I’m wonderfully prayed for and encouraged here at mgpc.
It’s not that everyone agrees with me, or won’t tell me when they don’t; but whatever the circumstances we share a common purpose which means our interactions are constructive.
But I know that there are servants of the Gospel whose hearts will be heavy tonight with anticipation that tomorrow will be another round of lifeless criticism and negativity. It is not that these folk are looking for applause and popularity, but rather an affirmation of partnership and fellowship. Perhaps you know similarly burdened under-shepherds of God’s flock.

Tonight pray for them in terms like these, which are given to us by Scotty Smith on his blog Heavenward:

When we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. 2 Corinthians 7:5-7

Dear heavenly Father, my heart turns today to a bevy of friends, colleagues and acquaintances, whose callings are primarily centered around the gospel. Pastors, missionaries, church staff folk, itinerate ministers, counselors… faithful women and men who, like Paul, often feel “harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.”

I’m quite aware of the price they pay… the burdens they carry… the challenges they face… and the wars they wage. Some are ready to give up. Some already have. Others simply don’t know where to go with the “crazy”… the exhaustion… their emptiness and the weight of unlimited obligations and un-pleaseable people.

I join many others in bringing your weary servants before your throne of grace. Empower our praying by the Holy Spirit. Fuel our praying with the promises of the gospel. (Take a few moments and pray for some of Jesus’ servants the Holy Spirit is already bringing to mind as you pray-read through this prayer)

Father, our great joy is in knowing you to be the God who “comforts the downcast.” You don’t shame the downcast… you don’t roll your eyes in disgust… you don’t pass them by. You send us, like Titus, to offer your presence, encouragement, refreshment and hope. So even as we renew our commitment to pray for the ministry-worn women and men you put on our hearts, what will putting “legs on our prayers” look like?

Who do we visit… call… send a “care package”… send to a Bed and Breakfast for a night… buy a massage? Who do we, quite literally, rescue from harm’s way? Who do we insist get help—for themselves and their marriages? Where is a “soft intervention” needed because of the destructive cycles of driven-ness… busyness… and not taking care of their health, heart and finances? Show us, Lord… lead us… strengthen us for loving them well.

Father, as you restored Paul to a “greater joy than ever,” we pray that you will restore our friends, your servants, to the “inexpressible and glorious joy” of being loved by Jesus (1 Peter 1:8-9). So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ caring and compassionate name.


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Neil Gaiman At The Sydney Opera House

You either know who Neil Gaiman is, or you don’t.
Especially if you only buy your reading material from Koorong.
If you do, and you’re in Sydney, this could be of interest.
If you don’t just keep going and read another post.

Perchance anyone reading this does go, please let me know how the event turns out.


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The Australian Election Is All About Julia Gillard…

…but hardly in a helpful way.
These were the top eight ‘most read today’ stories on the website of The Australian newpaper half way through Saturday afternoon.
Even the stories which don’t mention Gillard in their headlines are not positives for her campaign.
Murdoch press have never been supporters of Labor, but this still strikes me as extraordinary, because these represent the stories people are reading today.

  1. Bodyguard deputised for Gillard
  2. Shadow falls on PM’s authority
  3. Nation asks, will the real Julia stand up?
  4. Once again, the campaign’s all about Rudd
  5. What to do with Rudd? Labor’s urgent issue
  6. Cabinet leaks expose Gillard’s problems
  7. If only we’d given Howard another chance
  8. Our PM needs to clean house


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Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children (In Preaching And Worship)

Doug Wolter gives voice to an issue that continues to challenge:

As we think about all the types of people we preach to on Sundays, don’t forget the children.  They may be the biggest group of unreached people in your church… and I guarantee when you get on their level, the adults will be tracking right there with you.
Spurgeon once said:

…He is no preacher who does not care for the children. There should be at least a part of every sermon and service that will suit the little ones. It is an error which permits us to forget this.
~ Charles Spurgeon, Spiritual Parenting, 15.

In some places preachers don’t have to worry about addressing children in their sermons, because children are never there. They’re in another room being taught by others. This is difficult to understand from the context of biblical practice, a difficulty which would be increased in churches which affirm a covenantal unity among a local congregation.
In some places (including the church I serve) preachers direct a talk at the children during a segment of the Service. Yet a practice which reinforces, week after week, the notion that ‘this part of the Service is for the children’ must, at the very least, run the risk of also reinforcing the notion that the rest of the Service is not for children.
The answer is not to infantalise the Service, reducing its tone and communication level to that of a Wiggles concert. There is no reason to take Spurgeon’s words in that light. As I wrote earlier this week there is a difference between child-like simplicity and immature banality.
Those who lead our Services must make a conscious effort to address the covenant community as a whole, but also in its constituent parts, when appropriate opportunity presents itself.
This is challenging, but to do otherwise is to reject in our practice that which we affirm in our theology. If practice undermines theology for any length of time then our theology will be marginalised, not because it has been proven unbiblical, but because it has proved inconvenient.
The current ambivalence which can be discerned to covenant theology in the Presbyterian Church of Australia is not so much because covenant theology has been found wanting but because widespread practice in congregational life has undermined our understanding and appreciation of it.


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More Awesomenity From Pastor Brad

“If you can’t run with the big dogs, get out of the kitchen.”

At 9 A.M. the kids arrived and I started giving my lesson for the morning, which I had entitled “Building Your Own Ark: Fifteen Steps Toward Achieving Your Dreams”. Basically I was trying to communicate that, just as Noah built the ark, so each of us has to build the “ark” of our dreams. I’m pretty sure it hit the kids at a really deep level, maybe even at their subconscious.


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Greg Clarke – Do Christians Need A Christian Prime Minister? (via ABC’s The Drum)

Dr Greg Clarke is Director of the Centre for Public Christianity.
Anytime the ABC gives space to a Christian to write about public affairs from a biblical perspective is a appreciated.

Excerpted from the essay:

In other words, it is a common Christian mistake when thinking about politics, society and the church to look at things through your Old Testament, rather than your New Testament, glasses.
Nowhere in the New Testament is there any concept that a Christian ‘prophet’ might be given word from God on who should govern the land. The arrival of Jesus changes all of that theocratic language, and the role of ‘prophecy’ changes: it becomes a call to recognise the authority of Jesus, and to follow his teachings and his call to turn back to God.
The New Testament famously calls on Christians to “be subject to the governing authorities” (in Romans 13:1) but it certainly does not say, “go and appoint the governing authorities yourself”. In fact, it says quite the opposite. The very next verse suggests that if you resist an authority, you are in fact resisting God, because God is in control ultimately of who leads and who doesn’t.
We sometimes hear Christians saying that only a Christian leader will do, because “righteousness exalts a nation”, but that is an Old Testament idea (Proverbs 14:43, to be precise). That was a call to the ancient Jewish nation to obey God’s commands so that the nations around them (who worshipped other gods) would see how the worshippers of ‘the one true God’ thrived, and perhaps realise he was the living deity, unlike their things of stone and wood.

Read the whole essay: Do Christians Need A Christian Prime Minister?
HT: Murray’s Blog.


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Just How Much Are The Times A-Changin’?

Engaging graphic representation of some statistics about the growth of most things digital and some shrinkage in other areas.
Who would have thought the number of clowns would have doubled in the last ten years?

By the Numbers: How the Digital Revolution Changed Our World from Newsweek.