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Jesus Doesn’t Believe In You. That’s Why He Saves You. (via Chad Bird)

It’s because Jesus knows us completely that he knows how completely we need to be saved.
And that’s how he reveals the gracious magnitude of God’s love.
From Chad Bird:

Jesus knows good and well that there’s nothing inside us worth believing in. In fact, everything inside us looks absolutely untrustworthy. If anything, when the Lord peers into our hearts, he should hightail it for the hills, getting as far away from us as he can. But he’s not that kind of God. He loves before he looks. And even after he looks, he still loves. Because his love has nothing to do with us. It is not sparked by our goodness or sustained by our obedience. God is love. It’s who he is and what he does. While we were still powerless, he was powerful to save. While we were still sinners, he was still the sinless, gracious, saving God he’s always been.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pg 44.

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On The Difference Between Ministry Training And Pastoral Ministry (via Rory Shiner)

Rory Shiner writes a perceptive article about an aspect of ministry that I hadn’t considered, but which makes sense.
He poses the idea that the types of activity and attitudes which are great preparation for pastoral ministry differ from the activity and attitudes that usually constitute pastoral ministry.
The experience of that difference is not because something is wrong, but because both are distinct, yet beneficial, aspects of activity.
From Shiner:

Let me explain. In a program like the (fabulous) Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) you spend two years working in a live ministry context, learning the ropes of gospel work. If it’s done right, this will involve huge amounts of time reading the Bible with both Christians and non-Christians. It will mean organising talks. And camps. And conferences. It will mean running teams; overseeing evangelistic events; fielding ministry-related administration; preparing talk, Bible studies and seminars. By the end you’ll have read through Colossians with more people that you can remember. You’ll have talked to umpteen guys about their struggle with internet porn. You’ll have experienced the joys and frustrations of working with volunteer teams. You’ll have talked patiently through the problem of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility so many times you could do it in your sleep.
Then you become a ministry leader.
Now, your timetable looks very different. You start to have more governance meetings. You are involved in less acute and more chronic pastoral situations. Less “I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend and it hurts like mad”, and more “we’ve been working on our marriage for ten years and it just won’t fix” kind of stuff. You need more time to prepare teaching. You need to read deeply and widely. Many of your meetings are with senior leaders. Indeed, you find yourself at either end of the bell-curve, meeting either with very gifted and strong leaders, or with people facing complex and intractable problems on the other side. You don’t get much time in the middle. You feel like you are “away from the coal-face” of ministry.
That’s the observation. Here’s the application: I think that shape is basically right in both cases. We should embrace it, not fight it.

Read the rest at Gospel Coalition Australia.

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How Good Is It To Sing – Sunday Songs

How Good Is It To Sing is based on Psalm 147 and is from Stuart Townend’s album Courage.

The lyrics:
How good it is to sing,
To bring our praise to Him
Whose love and mercy knows no end.
He brings the sun and rain,
He calls each star by name,
The universe resounds with praise.
O shout for joy to God and sing a new song,
Extol the Lord of life for His provision,
And He delights in those who love and fear Him,
All those who put their hope in God.
He gathers families,
Orphans and refugees,
And binds the wounds of those who mourn;
The humble lifted high,
The proud He casts aside,
His justice faithful as the dawn.
What friend or foe can last
Before His icy blast?
The winds and waves obey His voice.
Yet mercy will prevail,
His love will reconcile
The nations of the earth to Him.
Repeat Chorus.

Brenton Brown, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend Copyright
© 2018 Capitol CMG Genesis/Brenton Brown Publishing Designee (Adm. by; Getty Music (Adm. by Song Solutions
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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New City Catechism Question and Answer 21

Question 21
What sort of Redeemer is needed to bring us back to God?

One who is truly human and also truly God.

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Christian Maturity Is Marked By Growing Dependence, Not Independence (via Chad Bird)

Tomorrow Christians will gather and be reminded yet again that we are unlearning non-dependence and learning dependence on Jesus. Christian maturity is not learning how to develop our own strength so we need Jesus less, it is increasing in our knowledge of our inability to stand anywhere but in Jesus’ strength.
From Chad Bird:

The stories we prefer to write about ourselves, as outwardly attractive as they may be, will never get us into the narrative in which Christ truly shapes us into his own image. The self-image we cultivate tends to work on the false assumption that God desires us to grow more independent. To become better and stronger so that we need him less. We imagine ourselves growing when we lean less on God and more on our own gifts and talents. As if the Lord is waiting for us to spread our wings and make our own way through this life.
But Christian maturity is not marked by independence but dependence. A growing awareness of our incessant need for Christ. A focus off me, my talents, my doing, even my religious life, and a focus instead upon the Son of God. The less we are, the more Christ is. But far from being bad news, this is the best news of all. For the more Christ is, the more we are the very people God has created us to be

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 78.

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Voice And Vision (preparing for MGPC 26/5/19)

Song: Saved My Soul
Call to Worship
Song: My Lighthouse
Prayer Of Confession
Song: Through The Love Of God Our Saviour
Affirming our Faith: New City Catechism 21
Song: Now To The King Of Heaven
Bible Reading: Luke 3: 1-38 – The ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus’ genealogy back to Adam.
Bible Memorisation: 1 Kings 18:21b
Song: Glorious Things Of You Are Spoken
Bible Reading: 1 Kings 19: 9-18
Sermon: Voice And Vision
Pastoral Prayer:
Closing Blessing
Song: Build Your Kingdom Here