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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 32

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 32

86.
Q. Since we are redeemed from our sin and its wretched consequences by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why must we do good works?
A. Because just as Christ has redeemed us with his blood he also renews us through his Holy Spirit according to his own image, so that with our whole life we may show ourselves grateful to God for his goodness and that he may be glorified through us; and further, so that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by its fruits and by our reverent behavior may win our neighbors to Christ.

87.
Q. Can those who do not turn to God from their ungrateful, impenitent life be saved?
A. Certainly not! Scripture says, “Surely you know that the unjust will never come into possession of the kingdom of God. Make no mistake: no fornicator or idolater, none who are guilty either of adultery or of homosexual perversion, no thieves or grabbers or drunkards or slanderers or swindlers, will possess the kingdom of God.”


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Negative Splitting The Christian Life (via Stephen McAlpine)

Maybe its because I’ve started cranking the treadmill at the gym up to a bit of a canter in the mornings, but this article by Stephen McAlpine caught my eye.
A 51 year old pastor with a passion for running McAlpine comments on completing the second half of a recent half-marathon (about 10kms) in a faster time than the first half – a negative split.
McAlpine develops the thought of completing the second half of a Christian lifetime with more purpose than the first, rather than settling and coasting home.
From his article:

So what about negative splitting your Christian life? What about making the second half stronger, more purposeful than the first half of it?
I say that in the light of being a Christian long enough to see peers either seemingly struggle to reach the finish line and settled into a low grade anger or cynicism, or give up altogether and go down some sidewalk. It’s not unusual for me to meet 50 to 60 year old men who, having started the race with joy and endurance, go into positive split territory or leave the faith altogether, and all the time getting closer to the finish chute.

Read the whole post at Stephen McAlpine.


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How Do We Engage With People On Sundays (via Ed Welch)

Ed Welch offers a simple suggestion to build relationships with those who gather together week by week as church.


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Why Starbucks Failed In Australia (via CNBC)

“They thought their business model could just roll out.”
I’ve watched forty years or so of church ministries franchise themselves as the future of the church without having the humility or awareness to realise that they were a lot more dependent on local circumstances and personalities than they thought.
“The company said that it would develop in Italy with humility and respect.”
If only Christian ministries focussed on church growth would do the same.
Interestingly the company’s plans for Australia now seem to be focussed on presenting a familiar presence and product for tourists visiting the country.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 30

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 30

80.
Q. What difference is there between the Lord’s Supper and the papal Mass?
A. The Lord’s Supper testifies to us that we have compete forgiveness of all our sins through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ which he himself has accomplished on the cross once for all; (and that through the Holy Spirit we are incorporated into Christ, who is now in heaven with his true body at the right hand of the Father and is there to be worshipped). But the Mass teaches that the living and the dead do not have forgiveness of sins through the sufferings of Christ unless is again offered for them daily by the priest (and that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine and is therefore to be worshipped in them). Therefore the Mass is fundamentally a complete denial of the once for all sacrifice and passion of Jesus Christ (and as such an idolatry to be condemned).

81.
Q. Who ought to come to the table of the Lord?
A. Those who are displeased with themselves for their sins, and who nevertheless trust that these sins have been forgiven them and that their remaining weakness is covered by the passion and death of Christ, and who also desire more and more to strengthen their faith and improve their life. The impenitent and hypocrites, however, eat and drink judgment to themselves.

82.
Q. Should those who show themselves to be unbelievers and enemies of God by their confession and life be admitted to this Supper?
A. No, for then the covenant of God would be profaned and his wrath provoked against the whole congregation. According to the ordinance of Christ and his apostles, therefore, the Christian church is under obligation, by the office of the keys, to exclude such persons until they amend their lives.


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Allowing God To Set The Agenda (via Stephen Neale)

The bulk of sermons at MGPC follow an expository, systematic Bible teaching pattern. Sermon series follow books of the Bible, sometimes in sections. This year we’ve been through the book of James and we’ll finish with Ecclesiastes; we’ve also been through sections of 1 Kings (chapters 12-17) and Mark’s Gospel (chapters 9-11). We’ll return to those next year.
Sunday nights has been John’s Gospel, which I took up after finishing Psalms. Currently after John (whenever that finishes I think I’ll go through Isaiah).
Through summer and at various points of the year we have occasional sermons.
Our expository sermons focus on the passages at hand, not on themes drawn from them.
I believe this is the best way for people to hear God, and not the preacher’s themes and interests. We don’t ride hobby horses. We simply preach what the text is this week. And next week we preach the next text.

Stephen Neale points out that this is a balanced diet of God’s word, in contrast to the what might be understood as a dessert buffet version of preaching if the series reflect the preacher’s interests.

The regular diet of expository, systematic Bible teaching is like your meat and potatoes main meal. It will fill you up, it is good for you and it will build you up. I am convinced that the best diet for our churches is one that majors on teaching the scriptures faithfully, book-by-book and allowing the Lord to set the agenda for your church.

Read the whole post here.


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Cynicism: The Worst Response To High Standards (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam on the worst way of wanting the best.
Falling prey to cynicism is an ongoing struggle, one that destroys the capacity for empathy, a necessary element to constructive change and growth.
The article has some lists that help to diagnose and treat the tendency to cynicism.
From the article:

Those of us engaged in Christian ministry are especially prone to cynicism or despair: we have such high expectations—and such wonderful goals because of God’s gospel promises. Sometimes, too, we have delusions about our own gifts and abilities! But ministry is hard work, and we often do not see the results we expect.
+++
The anger that results in cynicism usually come from discouragement and disillusionment. As this anger spreads from the original cause it becomes universal: we may have become disillusioned in a particular situation but soon find that disillusionment elsewhere as well, because we experience what we expect.

Read the whole article at Gospel Coalition Australia.