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On Stuff And Stinginess (via Jared Wilson)

I knew a lady who hated the word ‘stuff’. When we meet as one of the small groups that she belonged to and one of us uses the word we all fall silent for a second and then, having heard her remonstration about using that word echo in our minds, all laugh and try to think of a better word to describe what it is that we’re referring to.
Jared Wilson wouldn’t know that, of course, so he’s forgiven.
Here he writes about what it is to have a God shaped hole in our hearts, and how futile it is to try and fill that hole with anything less.

…in Ecclesiastes 3:11, God has put eternity into our hearts. This is that God-shaped hole we hear so much about. Because we are made in God’s image, we were made for eternity, to carry the glory of the infinite. Because of sin, we are fallen. The glory is obscured; the hole is a wound. We feel the ache, but we don’t know how to heal ourselves. And yet we try. With pleasure, with achievements, even with religion! But especially with stuff. We throw anything and everything into that God-shaped hole, the eternity inside of us, but none of it will fill the void. You cannot satisfy the infinite with the stuff of earth. No, only eternal glory can fill an eternal space.

Read the whole post at For The Church.


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The Hardest Thing For Anyone To Swallow, Especially The Winners, Especially You, Or Me, Is That We Are Objectively Loved (via Duo Dickenson at Mockingbird)

A post at Mockingbird by Duo Dickenson that contains phrase after phrase that I turn over and over in my mind.

But later, for many of us, maybe most, who have defined ourselves not by love but by demonstrating an ability to be lovable, failure is guaranteed. If perfection is your standard of lovability, you are doomed to an unloved life.
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We are judged by everything we are given. Every paycheck, every gift, every look from a stranger conveys more than the moment (but, also, is completely confined to it).
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If the world can reveal our worth or confirm our legitimacy or celebrate our value, it can also display our terminal inability to perform. And it is terminal.

Read Who You Are You When You Don’t Win at Mockingbird.


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Growing New Instead Of Growing Old (via Abigail Dodds at Gospel Coalition)

Abigail Dodds writes an article that directly addresses women, but speaks to the experience of every Christian.
She contends that increasing age should represent a growth in more that the number of candles on our birthday cakes.

Now, instead of growing old, we are growing new. The mature Christian woman is the one who has been new for a long time. The mature Christian woman is the one who’s been with Christ long enough to have the unbelief of adulthood reworked into childlike faith. The mature Christian woman is the one who, though outwardly wasting away, is getting newer every single day (2 Cor. 4:16).
Yet how can a mind that’s growing old and forgetful also grow new? We all use our minds on something; perhaps not through relinquishing brain cells via childbirth, but in some form or another, our minds are spent. I have given my mind to storing information like: the location of the stray sock belonging to the 11-year-old, what chapter the 8-year-old needs to finish for history this week, when early bird registration ends for my oldest kids’ youth retreat, who needs new snow boots this year, what meetings my husband has this week. And even more importantly: what area of discipleship needs attention in each child, what godly habits could use further cultivating, what opportunities were missed last week for building up, connection, and growing together. All the data and information at times seem to crowd out coherence! What am I but a jumble of seemingly random, but repetitive, facts and concerns?
But this is a fertile place for newness to grow—in a mind and heart stuffed with the details and rhythms of life, worn out in the work God has entrusted. Our minds aren’t compromised by being used up; they’re replenished with something better than sharpness or quick-wits or brilliance. They’re replenished with a dependent wisdom that only Christ can supply, so that over the course of our lives—as we give away our brain space for the sake of those around us—we gain a mind that holds more than ours ever could have. We gain the mind of Christ, filled with humility, trust, and faith.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 44

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 44

113.
Q. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. That there should never enter our heart even the least inclination or thought contrary to any commandment of God, but that we should always hate sin with our whole heart and find satisfaction and joy in all righteousness.

114.
Q. But can those who are converted to God keep these commandments perfectly?
A. No, for even the holiest of them make only a small beginning in obedience in this life. Nevertheless, they begin with serious purpose to conform not only to some, but to all the commandments of God.

115.
Q. Why, then, does God have the ten commandments preached so strictly since no one can keep them in this life?
A. First, that all our life long we may become increasingly aware of our sinfulness, and therefore more eagerly seek forgiveness of sins and righteousness in Christ. Second, that we may constantly and diligently pray to God for the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that more and more we may be renewed in the image of God, until we attain the goal of full perfection after this life.


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On The Public Reading Of Scripture (via Stephen Presley)

In addition to reading the section of the Bible on which that week’s sermon is based, at MGPC we also sequentially read about one chapter a week from another book of the Bible.
We do this as an application of the exhortation for the Scriptures to be read publicly, and as a recognition that the Bible is not dependent on someone to explain it in order to be understood.
I’ve observed before about the way in which churches that pride themselves on being Bible believing can have less Bible read during their services than churches that seeming have departed from orthodox expressions of the Christian faith.
Stephen Presley writes about the way in which has followed the injunction to read the Bible when the church gathers.

The New Testament, though, gives clear apostolic directives to read Scripture publicly. The Apostle Paul, for example, charges his disciple Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:13, ESV). He also commands the church at Colossae to read his letter and then pass it on to the church at Laodicea (Colossians 4:16). The Apostle John urges the public reading of his revelation when he writes, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear…” (Revelation 1:3, ESV).
Following these examples and exhortations, the early church has always prized the public reading of Scripture. They could not image a worship service without some one reading healthy portions of Scripture drawn from across the canon. The thought that a pastor might read only a few verses (or no verses at all!) and then entertain the congregation for forty minutes with funny stories and pop culture references would strike them as bizarre at best.
On the contrary, the early church believed that the regular encounter with the word of God through corporate Scripture reading was one of the most spiritually formative acts for the people of God.
In the early church, public Scripture reading was also not a mundane exercise done out of obligation, but a vital part of the church’s corporate worship and they thought carefully about (among other things) the passages that were read, the character of reader, and the style of reading.

Read the whole post here.


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Christlikeness Is Something To Long For, Not Be Delivered From (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn is supporting his wife, Nanci, through her season of cancer.
God is supporting them both.
He writes about the experience of God using the very situations that nobody wants as the circumstances in which faith and Christlikeness grows:

If asked, “Do you want to be closer to Jesus, and more like him?” we all know what we should say. Yet, if God answered all our prayers for relief from suffering, he would be delivering us from the very thing we say we want. Christlikeness is something to long for, not be delivered from. It’s not easy to pray, “Please do whatever it takes to make me more like Jesus.” But when he does whatever it takes, we should trust him.

source


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Suffering Is Never Alone (via Paul Tripp)

Paul Tripp reflects on his own season of chronic illness, a situation that has left him with ongoing physical challenges.
The greatest challenge though, is not physical, it is spiritual.

You never come to your suffering empty-handed. You always drag a bag full of experiences, expectations, assumptions, perspectives, desires, intentions, and decisions into your suffering. What you think about yourself, life, God, and others will profoundly affect the way you interact with and respond to the difficulty that comes your way.
This is why the writer of Proverbs says: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
What are you carrying around in your soul that has the potential to complicate your suffering? What are you preaching to yourself that could allow you to forget the truths of the gospel?
Never forget: No matter what painful thing you’re enduring, as God’s child, it’s impossible for you to endure it all by yourself.

read the rest at Paul Tripp