mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

Breaking Through The Deafness Of Pride (via Chad Bird)

When God brings humans into relationship with himself he makes us part of a larger body.
The danger is when being part of larger body becomes a substitute for a replacement for the relationship with God.
That’s when we need to hear his call to come back to him.
From Chad Bird:

All of Israel’s sins began in their ears. Like a broken record, the prophets preached, “Hear the Word of Yahweh.” Believe in him. Follow him. Give heed to his Word. Jeremiah says, “From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck” (Jer. 7:25—26). The original Hebrew says that God was “daily rising early and sending [the prophets].” God is saying, as it were, “Look, Israel, I roll out of bed every morning at the crack of dawn and the first thing I do is throw another prophet your way.” And the first thing Israel does is stick headphones in its ears to blare the music of disobedience.
This means that the chief problem for Israel is the same one we face in the church today. It’s not scandals among the leadership, apathy in the pews, or irrelevance to a secular culture. Our chief problem is and will always be unbelief. An unbelief made possible by deafness to the Word of Yahweh. A deafness made possible by pride. And a pride made possible, all too often, by the assumption that we’re good with God because our names are on a church’s membership roster. Outward attachment to a religious institution is no guarantee of an inward attachment to the God of the cross. Indeed, as the Jews in Jesus’s day claimed to be God’s favourites because Abraham was their father, today the temptation is to claim that we are God’s favorites because we’re in the club called Christianity.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 33-34.


Leave a comment

The Believer’s Hope Rests In The Saviour’s Memory (via Jeffrey Arthurs)

Jeffrey Arthur grounds preaching as proclamation about the memory of the God who remembers his people and forgets their sins, because those people are inclined to forget about the grace of God and focus on their sin.

As practical theology, preaching as reminding is built on theology proper — the character and actions of God. Because he remembers his covenant and forgets the sins of his children, promising never to leave or forsake them, ministers take their stance as the Lord’s remembrancers, reminding the baptized that nothing shall separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus. But preaching as reminding is built on a second foundation also, one related to human nature: we are prone to forget.

Jeffrey D Arthurs, Preaching As Reminding, IVP, 2017, pg 25.


2 Comments

A Death Must Truly Be A Death Before There Can Be New Life (via David Zahl)

Popular culture and social media has made failure into a status symbol, but usually presents failing as an egalitarian stepping stone to entail success. Almost like a rite of passage.
David Zahl points out that this cultural tendency to gloss over failure as a stepping stone to success short-changes the suffering of those who fail, and whose failures cannot be stepped from quickly or easily.

The notion that failure is not failure but the first step toward its opposite may be absurd, but it is also suitably and undeniably cult-like. Ironically, such silver-lining-itis buffers us from the very suffering we are theoretically venerating.
Honest failure, on the other hand, hurts. It is painful. It is out of our control. And there’s nothing we like less than that.
Obviously some failures do lead to success. Some dead-ends do herald new beginnings. This is especially true in relationships. But some do not. A biblical truism captures this dynamic: you cannot pole-vault over Good Friday to get to Easter. A death must truly be a death before there can be new life. Christ was not hanging from the cross checking his watch — “another few hours of this and then it’s smooth sailing.” He really suffered and really died. He experienced true separation from God. What happened thereafter was unexpected.
Which is to say, failure in the service of success is not actually failure.

David Zahl, Seculosity, Fortress Press, 2019, pg. 37.


Leave a comment

Not Running Ahead Of Him (via Jared C Wilson)

A reminder that a thoughtful and intentional Gospel ministry relies on supernatural power, not pragmatism for its outcome.
From Gospel-Driven Church Jared C Wilson :

One of the most frequent temptations pastors and church leaders face today is to replace a steady commitment to gospel preaching and revival prayer with human ingenuity and industriousness. Can these coexist? Certainly. But we must also guard against allowing ourselves to replace the work that only the Holy Spirit can do. The Holy Spirit can do far more than we think or ask, and his timing may not always follow our goals or fit our plans. But let’s not run ahead of him.

Jared Wilson, Gospel-Driven Church, Zondervan, 2019, pg. 77.


Leave a comment

No Common Criminal’s Death (via Fleming Rutledge)

Fleming Rutledge observes that the execution method which Jesus suffered was one that was carried out upon those guilty of a particular crime against the state.
His execution marked him as an enemy of the state.
It served as a warning to any who might resist its authority.
This is the means by which Jesus demonstrates that he overcomes the world.

In this saying from Luke’s Gospel, the two — Luke and John — show a similarity: Jesus is pinned to an instrument of torture, completely helpless, at the mercy of sadistic torturers and mocking passersby, and yet he is reigning from the cross as a King.
A King, and yet crucified between two thieves. The traditional word is thief, but that’s misleading. This is not Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread. These are bandits, brigands — lawless, full-time professionals who were a serious threat to the famous Roman rule of order. Crucifixion was the supreme penalty (summum supplicium, Cicero called it) for a particular type of criminal, guilty of the impermissible offense of sedition (rebellious disorder, in the archaic sense of the word). These men have often been described as “common criminals,” but that’s not quite right. The Romans didn’t waste their time crucifying small-timers. These two men were a serious threat to the system. So they’ve been tried by the Romans and condemned by their laws, presumably with justification, for one of them actually admits that he was justly convicted for being an insurrectionist, for the term used by Pontius Pilate “perverting the people’ (Luke 23:14).

Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 17-18.


Leave a comment

The Art Of Friendship (via Sammy Rhodes)

Friendship as a trusted and faithful custodian of someone’s story, of being a friend to them through the accumulation of knowledge that might otherwise isolate us.
An interesting observation from Sammy Rhodes.

The hard work of friendship is entrusting your heart to another and risking your story while at the same time holding your friend’s story carefully. Friends cannot hold the weight of your identity, but you should be able to trust them with the weight of your story — your dreams and fears, your desires and struggles, the things that make you your — self past and present. This is the hard work of friendship, the art of friendship.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pg 116.


2 Comments

Happiness Is Not A Goal In Itself, It Is The Product Of Seeking The Right Goals (via Sammy Rhodes)

The pursuit of happiness will be futile if it is happiness itself which is being sought. Happiness can only be experienced as a fruit of seeking after that which endures.
Sammy Rhodes writes about modern relationships and the reasons they founder:

Wanting happiness isn’t a bad thing. It’s a human thing. The problem is that happiness is less something we can directly seek than it is a by-product of seeking the right things in the right ways. Happiness is like the endorphins that flow after a good workout. They’re a result of hunting another goal, not something you can get your hands on directly. They only come by working out. Or so I hear. I’m less a work-out guy, more a work—in guy. And by that I mean most days I like to work on getting an entire bag of chips inside me.
Jesus told us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his’ righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Blessings, like happiness, come as we focus our eyes on something other than those blessings. Jesus is teaching us here to think less like consumers and more like himself a covenant—making and covenant—keeping God. If Jesus had let happiness determine his choices, the cross would have never happened. Jesus’ choices were driven by his covenant promises, first to God, then to us.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 93-94.