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The Church Is God’s Incubator For Making Disciples (via Stan Gale)

Stan Gale spent the days after his birth in an incubator. He received that life sustaining and growing support in isolation.
As a disciple of Jesus we are told that we need support for our life to be sustained and our growth supported. We need an incubator. But not in isolation.

The church is God’s incubator for making disciples. Through the means of grace made effective by the Holy Spirit, the church provides the light of God’s Word in an atmosphere oxygenated by prayer – the perfect environment for spiritual growth and development.
Unlike my time in a hospital incubator, the disciple is never released to be on his or her own. The need for Christ is constant and the church makes that apparent through celebration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, both of which sustain the disciple in this world and anticipate the world to come.
If the church is an incubator for spiritual growth and development that means it is incumbent on those who lead to ensure that the church is functioning according to Christ’s design. The light of Christ must shine with clarity of God’s truth and warmth of His love. The atmosphere must be oxygenated with prayer in communion with God and dependence upon Him. Discipleship will not be reduced to mere information but transformation into maturity, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Read Gale’s whole post here.

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Everything Broken And Everything Beautiful

Everything Broken And Everything Beautiful is a track from Ron Block and Jeff Taylor’s album Trouble Go Down, which features lyrics by Rebecca Reynolds.


When The Church Substitutes Social Transformation For Spiritual Growth (via Mark Galli)

Mark Galli considers the contemporary evangelical church and observes that when it adopts the emphasis of social transformation as goal instead of the nurture of Christians that it sows the seed of its own obsolescence.
The church is not designed to transform society, and when it teaches Christians that societal transformation should be a Christian’s chief goal they will gravitate to the groups which are purpose designed to do that work.
When the church emphasises the actions that attract unbelievers, it marginalises the actions that grow Christians.
The liberal churches followed a similar pattern into obsolescence, why would evangelical churches emulate it?

From Galli:

Because the church thinks it has to be missional, that it has to be a place where the world feels comfortable, it has dumbed down the preaching and the worship, so that in many quarters we have ended up with a common-denominator Christianity. It goes down easy, which is why it attracts so many and why many churches are growing. But it is a meal designed to stunt the growth of the people of God. And it is a way of church life that eventually burns people out, where people become exhausted trying to make the world a better place.

Read Galli’s essay at Christianity Today.

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Long Term Expectation Produces Short Term Obediences (via Scott Hubbard)

The expectations of an impatient culture run counter to the reality that growth is a long term process.
But the conviction of that long-term expectation does not manifest itself in frustration, or in complacency and inactivity.
Rather the expectation that we are growing like Jesus produces the immediate regular actions that produce that fruit.

From Scott Hubbard at Desiring God.

The long view of sanctification, received rightly, refashions our perspective on today. On the one hand, we will adopt humble expectations of today’s progress. The farmer plowing his fields does not expect to harvest a crop by evening; nor does the cross-country traveler expect to reach his home. The rhythms of the seasons and the breadth of the country have chastened their expectations.
The Christian seeking God should likewise not grow unduly discouraged when today’s efforts fail to yield immediate fruit. Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, and fellowship are less like the crank of a lever and more like the sowing of a seed. We plant, we water, and then we keep our eyes on the harvest.
On the other hand, however, the long view reminds us that today’s small acts of obedience are of the utmost importance. The steps we take today may not take us all the way to glory — true. But we will never reach glory unless we keep stepping.

Read the whole post here.

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Fulfilling A Calling Rather Than Advancing A Career

Joe McKeever offers what he characterises as the ten hardest lessons that pastors learn.
One picks up on a change that is not a simple adjustment of terms.
Pastors used to think in terms of calling.
Pastoring was a vocation, not a job, because it was something we were called to by God, not a role in which we were employed.
It seems that calling is giving way to the idea of a career in ministry.
McKeever offers the important distinction that needs to be kept in mind in pastoral life.

We do nothing to “enhance our career,” but do a thousand things to “fulfill our calling.”

Read his other observations here.

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Streets Of The City – Sunday Songs

Here’s Streets Of The City, one of the songs from Stuart Townend’s album The Paths Of Grace.
It’s another example of Townend’s efforts to broaden the expression of sung praise for God’s people in corporate gathering; an invitation to reflectively think as well as feel; to respond with purpose as well as declare.

The lyrics:
Lord, we stand in the shallows of all you have given,
Grateful for mercy yet hungry for more,
For the power of grace to go out from this place
To the ends of the earth.
We have praised you with passion and worshipped in wonder,
Thrilled by Your Spirit and fed by Your word.
Now to fully delight in the riches of Christ
We must go to the world.
For you live in the streets of the city,
You stand with the weak and the needy,
You walk with homeless and hungry and poor.
And your hands are the hands I am lifting,
Your voice is the life I am living;
Your love longs to meet them, but how will they know,
Unless I am willing to go?
Lord, where are you hungry and where are you thirsty,
Naked, imprisoned, with no one to care?
To give of our best to the poor and oppressed
Is to give back to You.
So cause us to see with the eyes of the Saviour,
Give us a heart that will love as you love;
Courageous compassion in words and in action
Brings hope to the world.
For you live in the streets of the city,
You stand with the weak and the needy,
You walk with homeless and hungry and poor.
And your hands are the hands I am lifting,
Your voice is the life I am living;
Your love longs to meet them, but how will they know,…
Final chorus
…That you live in the streets of the city,
You stand with the weak and the needy
You walk with homeless and hungry and poor.
And your hands are the hands I am lifting,
Your voice is the life I am living,
Without us there’s no other way they will know,
So send me, I’m ready to go.

Words and Music: Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2014 Modern Hymnal Digital/Modern Hymnal Publishing (Adm. by excl. Europe and UK, and Song Solutions) & Townend Music (Adm. by Song Solutions

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New City Catechism Question and Answer 32

Question 32
What do justification and sanctification mean?

Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.