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When You’re A Disciple Of Jesus, There Will Be Bound To Be Bonfires (via Will Willimon)

If you think that becoming a disciple of Jesus will lead to a settled, monotonous, status-quo, life that you’re in control of, think again.
From Will Willimon’s memoir, Accidental Preacher.

It’s odd that some characterize God’s creative work as the making of order and stability. I’ve found the opposite to be true; you’ll know it’s the Trinity if it’s disruptive. Because of God’s refusal to leave well enough alone, Christians’ lives are always on the verge of being out of control. Jesus intrudes among us not to care but to call. Disciples are made, not born. Jeremiah compared God’s ways with Israel to a potter pounding a lump of clay to make something out of a mess of mud (Jer. 18:1-12). Disruption — conversion, metanoia, relinquishment, detoxification, purgation, renovation—characterizes the work of the divinepotter who pounded Abraham, Mary, Paul, and maybe me. There are bound to be bonfires..
Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher, Eerdmans, 2019, pg 92.

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Practicing Intentional Gratitude As A Pathway To Joy (via Gavin Ortlund)

The really challenging seasons are those when you know nothing is wrong, but nothing feels right.
Gavin Ortlund writes about practising intentional gratitude as a pathway to restoring balance and experiencing joy.

There are things we have, and things we lack. Blessings and disappointments. And our default seems to be for the bad things, the disappointments, to get all of our focus. So we have to be intentional to focus on the blessings.
I’d been feeling pretty low in the season of life we were in, so I started giving this idea a try: practicing intentional gratitude as a pathway to joy.
I thought it would make a small difference: maybe a 2-5% bump in my emotional well-being on any given day.
Instead, I’d put it closer to 30-40%. Gratitude is powerful. Its easy to underestimate.

Read the whole post at Soliloquium.

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Pastoring Based On Calling, Not Feeling (via Will Willimon)

Will Willimon tells the story of his first Christmas in a new appointment serving a very small church, having received the news that his estranged black-sheep father has died in his memoir Accidental Preacher.
His stories resonate with experiences of pastoral life, not in a self-serving or manipulative way that presents the pastoral role as one deserving pity, but in ways that demonstrate that pastors can only minister grace when we continually experience our personal dependence on it.
I’m only held together by gaffer tape, baling wire and grace. And the gaffer tape and baling wire are purely decorational.
That’s not the story of my past, as if I’m now beyond what I commit to people as being their current need.
It’s still my daily experience.
From Willimon:

That’s church for you. Church forces us to march in and sing even when we’re not in a singing mood, not feeling faithful, and “joyful and triumphant” is not us. Church doesn’t wait for you to have the proper motivation for worship in order to call you to worship. And there are so many times, when you have been called to be a pastor, that you don’t feel like being a pastor but still must act the part. You may be in pain, may be in over your head emotionally and theologically. Though you are supposed to be an expert in helping others to grieve, you may not know how publicly to mark your own loss. As a pastor, your personal problems take a backseat to the needs of others. You’re the only pastor they have, and Christmas comes but once a year. So you pull tight the cincture and pray, “God, who got me into this, give me the hardheaded determination to get through it.” You go out and act like their pastor even when you don’t want to.
When seminarians plead for graciousness for “personal reasons,” when they are late with some class assignment because an aunt whom “I revered as if she were my grandmother” departed or they are suffering a bout of depression, I think, Clergy who are not periodically depressed have either given up too soon or expect too little of Jesus. You can’t stand up on Sunday and say, Nothing would have pleased me more than to have a sermon for you but first it was one thing and then another so we’re going to break up into discussion groups. Then we’ll pool our collective ignorance and call that todays’ sermon.
I’d get fired for saying this to a student, but even the dean can’t keep me from thinking it.
Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 71-72.

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Why I Don’t Buy Funko Pop Vinyls (for me, anyway)

I’ve given some Funko Pop Vinyls to some of my kids.
But I don’t buy them for myself.
I’m bit off put about the way they’re crowding older style models and action figures out of the shelves.
There’s not anything wrong with them, and as a simple gift choice they make buying an inexpensive present easy.
However, I’m a collector at heart, and these things would be lethal.

This Vox article about Pops features on collector who owns 1080 of the 8366 individual figures released so far.
You can be sure that since this article was written both those numbers have gone up.

Find out about how long it takes to produce a new figure, the way they’ve penetrated all sorts of retailers beyond traditional toy stores, and the particular design details that causes people to find them attractive.

Read about a cultural phenomenon at Vox.

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My Saviour’s Love (What Tongue Could Tell) – Sunday Songs

I’ve been looking forward to the release of the colloborative album of Matt Boswell and Matt Papa.
The album, His Mercy Is More contains songs that both of them have previously released along with some new material.
Released by Getty Music, it’s notable in that previous releases by that label have predominantly featured the work of Keith and Kristyn Getty, working with others.
This time, though both Gettys are involved, Boswell and Papa take the lead.
Their previous releases have moved more and more toward songs that are truly singable in corporate assembly, and have tremendous lyrics.

Here’s My Saviour’s Love (What Tongue Could Tell)

What tongue could tell my Savior’s love
What song of angels could describe
Could endless praises be enough
To echo full His sacrifice
How worthy is the Lamb of God
Beyond all might or skill of pen
Still we confess and strain towards
Such mystery and magnificence
My Savior’s love
My Savior’s love
What could compare
What tongue could tell my Savior’s love
What tune could carry on its wings
The beauty of that final breath
What words dare paint the awesome scene
When God stood in the stead of man
When Jesus Christ the radiant One
Took on the shadows of our hate
Then rose again just as the sun
With light and power in fullest grace
And when in death this tongue is stilled
My song of life has reached the end
Though as a flower I may wilt
This everlasting truth will stand
No death or life could separate
Me from the love of Christ my Lord
This hope is sure from age to age
My song will be forevermore.

Words and Music: Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, Keith Getty
© ©2019 Getty Music Publishing (BMI) / Messenger Hymns (BMI) / Getty Music Hymns and Songs (ASCAP) / Love Your Enemies Publishing (ASCAP) / Adm by

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New City Catechism Question and Answer 33

Question 33
Should those who have faith in Christ seek their salvation through their own works, or anywhere else?

No, they should not, as everything necessary to salvation is found in Christ. To seek salvation through good works is a denial that Christ is the only Redeemer and Saviour.

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Near The Kingdom (preparing for MGPC 18/8/19)

Song: Jerusalem
Call to Worship
Song: Your Love Defends Me
Prayer Of Confession
Song: Just As I Am
Affirming our Faith: New City Catechism 33
Song: Now To The King Of Heaven
Bible Reading: Luke 9: 28-60 – The Transfiguration, and the conclusion of Jesus’ Galilean ministry as He begins, in verse 51, his long journey towards the cross, having “set His face” to Jerusalem.
Bible Memorisation: Mark 12: 17a
Song: To God Be The Glory
Bible Reading: Mark 12: 28-34
Sermon: Near The Kingdom
Pastoral Prayer:
Closing Blessing
Song: Death Was Arrested