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I Am A Church Member (via Thom Rainer)

From Thom Rainer’s blog, where he writes that he is a church member.
So am I.

I am a church member.
I will seek to be a source of unity in the church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.

I am a church member.
I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. That is self-serving. I am in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Savior went to a cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that are just not my preference or style.

I am a church member.
I will pray for my pastor every day. His work is never-ending. His days are filled with constant demands for his time; with the need to prepare sermons; with those who are rejoicing in births; with those who are traveling through the valley of the shadow of death; with critics; with the hurts and hopes of others; and with the need to be a husband and a father. My pastor cannot serve our church in his own power. I will pray for God’s strength for him and his family every day.

I am a church member.
I like the metaphor of membership. It’s not membership as in a civic organization or a country club. It’s the kind of membership given to us in 1 Corinthians 12: “Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it” (I Corinthians 12:27). Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, whether I am an “eye,” an “ear,” or a “hand.” As a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others. I will remember that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).

I am a church member.
I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church, because He gave His life for her.

I am a church member.
This membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others, and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.

I am a church member.
And I thank God that I am.

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Softly And Tenderly – Sunday Songs

Looking through Terry Johnson’s calendar of hymns and psalms I noted that Softly And Tenderly is one of the selections for February.
Well, that’s all the excuse I need.
I can’t wait for next week at mgpc, so we sang it tonight as a warm-up.
Here’s the lyrics from the Trinity Hymnal.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals he’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
Ye who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home.
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not his mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.
Oh! for the wonderful love he has promised
Promised for you and for me;
Though we have sinned, he has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.

When I rehearsed this tonight someone said I sounded like Pat Boone.
So, this youtube of Boone singing the song will give you some idea of what I sound like.

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Heaven Is My Dream – Nathan Clark George

The first line of this song goes ‘It’s a hot, hot sun, in a blue, blue sky.’
It’s hot here in Mount Gambier today, I keep singing this line to myself over and over again.
Press ‘Play’ below and you probably will, too.
(And on Monday it may make you want to get some Nathan Clark George music for yourself.)

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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 5

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 5

Q & A 12
Q What are the decrees of God?
A God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will,*1 whereby, from all eternity, he has, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time,*2 especially concerning angels and men.

Q & A 13
Q What has God especially decreed concerning angels and men?
A God, by an eternal and immutable decree, out of his mere love, for the praise of his glorious grace, to be manifested in due time, has elected some angels to glory;*3 and in Christ has chosen some men to eternal life, and the means thereof:*4 and also, according to his sovereign power, and the unsearchable counsel of his own will, (whereby he extends or withholds favor as he pleases,) has passed by and foreordained the rest to dishonor and wrath, to be for their sin inflicted, to the praise of the glory of his justice.*5

Q & A 14
Q How doth God execute his decrees?
A God executes his decrees in the works of creation and providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will.*6

*1 Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:33; Romans 9:14-15, 18.
*2 Ephesians 1:4, 11; Romans 9:22-23; Psalm 33:11.
*3 1 Timothy 5:21.
*4 Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.
*5 Romans 9:17-18, 21-22; Matthew 11:25-26; 2 Timothy 2:20; Jude 4; 1 Peter 2:8.
*6 Ephesians 1:11.

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Life Before The Cross And The Crown (via Harry Reeder)

From a blog post refers to a longer form conversation between Louie Priolo and Harry Reeder, Reeder offers this observation:

The good works of a Christian are never the reason for our salvation but they do reveal the evidence of our salvation. Therefore, the free benefits of the cross of Christ call us to the non-negotiated claims of the Crown of Christ. There is nothing more the believer has to do to be saved than to receive Christ by faith which is a gift from God. Yet, when one has come to Christ as Lord and Savior, the commands of Christ call us to obedience as we pursue Christ and assassinate sin in our lives. While we do not have to do good works to be saved we will both desire to do them and strive to do them for our Savior compelled by our love to Christ who has given us a new heart with the Law of God written upon it. Thus, our justification in Christ is full and free. Our sanctification of “growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ” while utterly dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Gospel is fully embraced and actively pursued by those who have been truly saved by that Gospel of free grace.

Read all of Insights on the Contemporary Grace Movement and Issues by Harry Reeder at Inperspective.
I look forward to reading Priolo and Reeder’s interaction when a certain link starts working.

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Training For Citywide Churches Gathering

Tomorrow evening there’ll be a gathering of people from churches in our town.
There’ll be singing, prayer and a Bible talk.
Here’s a helpful chart to prepare for event.

Thanks to Andrew Clarke on Facebook.

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Local Church = Gospel + Safety + Time (via Ray Ortlund)

Ray Ortlund helps me understand what a local church should be.
I’ve been satisfied with mgpc’s mission statement, but this is the essence of a wonderful vision statement.

It’s what everyone needs. Everyone. Gospel + safety + time.
A lot of gospel + a lot of safety + a lot of time.

Gospel: good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the present power of the Holy Spirit. Multiple exposures. Constant immersion. Wave upon wave of grace and truth, according to the Bible.

Safety: a non-accusing environment. No finger-pointing. No embarrassing anyone. No manipulation. No oppression. No condescension. But respect and sympathy and understanding, where sinners can confess and unburden their souls.

Time: no pressure. Not even self-imposed pressure. No deadlines on growth. No rush. No hurry. But a lot of space for complicated people to rethink their lives at a deep level. If we relax, trusting in God’s patience, we actually get going.

This is what our churches must be: gentle environments of gospel + safety + time. It’s the only way anyone can ever change.

Who doesn’t need that?