mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

Learning To Number Our Days (via Michael Kelley)

Michael Kelley writes a four point reflection on the phrase from the Psalms ‘teach us to number our days.’
Why?

We naturally assume that there will always be tomorrow – that there will always be another chance for this or that. We become procrastinators in our arrogance, assuming that the limited number of days we have on this earth will never come to an end. Because we drift toward this kind of arrogance in which we are the charters of our own destiny, we need God’s help to have a true gauge of our own mortality.
This is the point James made in James 4, a chapter diagnosing the disease of pride, when he reminded us all that we should be careful about assuming on the time-table of our lives. Even in things like planning trips, meetings, and anything else, we would do well to remember that “you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:14).

Read the whole post at Forward Progress.


Leave a comment

Building Generosity By Setting Vision (via Andrew Hopper at JD Greear)

Culture takes time to establish, and maybe longer to change.
In this guest-post at JD Greear’s blog Andrew Hopper talks about the way in which setting and sharing a vision builds generosity as people get a sense of what could grow if they release resources to support it.
Sometimes this giving and releasing will be on a personal level, other times it will be on a corporate level as a Church makes decision to let go of something existing in order to strive for another goal.
Participating in this is part of being a growing Christian.
From Hopper:

While it’s true that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” vision sets culture. The greatest tool for building generosity within the church is giving people the picture of what could be. I’m not naturally great at casting vision; but, leadership is focusing on what needs attention, not what you are already good at.
As we’ve applied ourselves to improving in this area, we’ve learned there are two components to setting vision: heart and opportunity. All the opportunities in the world won’t matter if people don’t first realize that generosity with time, talent, and treasure may be the greatest marker of a growing Christian.

Read the rest here.


Leave a comment

You Must Take Up Your Cross As Often As You Put It Down (via Connor Gwin at Mockingbird)

A reflection on the Christian life as a long obedience in a consistent direction.
This is not a process where Jesus gets us in, and then we set to work to keep ourselves in.
This is a constant remembering of the fact we’re only in because of what Jesus has done.
The more our lives change, the easier it is to forget that truth.
From Connor Gwin, writing at Mockingbird:

It takes more than praying a certain prayer. It is not a ‘one and done’ situation. You must lay down your life anew each day or each moment. You must be born again and again, over and over. You must take up your cross as often as you put it down.
For “the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak” (Mt 26:41). In our weakness, we grasp for control and power.
When we think we have control over our lives, we run ourselves ragged. When we feel like the masters of our own fate, we drive ourselves into the ditch. The world promises that we can do all things by our own sheer willpower. We are told that we can accomplish all of our dreams through nothing but our own effort, but that path is the expressway to death.
Paul writes it this way: “You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else” (Eph 2:1-3).
It is only through surrendering our lives, letting our ‘selves’ die, and following Jesus that we find life, real life, and rest.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

Everywhere We Look In The Church We See Priests (via Chad Bird)

The effort to recover the priesthood of all believers can’t be an effort to impose a pastorhood of all believers. Something is lost if everyone is pressganged into some form of pastoral function. More is lost if everyone doesn’t understand that whatever it is they are doing is their expression of the priestly function we’re all called to in Christ.

From Chad Bird:

Peter says to the whole church: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2:9). The apostle is borrowing and expanding ancient language from Exodus where God says that Israel is a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:6). We’re accustomed to thinking of priests as a select group within the people of God. Priests, we assume, were the sons of Aaron in the Old Testament and are members of the ministry in some denominations today. The professional religious people. But just as we wrongly equate vocation with a job, so we wrongly equate priesthood with the pastoral ministry. Both are much broader and deeper categories.
Everywhere we look in the church we see priests. Those noisy energetic VBS students colouring a scene from Noah’s ark – they are priests. The elderly gentleman who uses a walker to shuffle to his favorite pew – he’s a priest. The youth group, the choir, the ushers, and the pastors are all included. Our ordination into the priesthood happened on the day we were baptized into our great high priest, Jesus. We became part of the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” We entered the sacred vocation that fundamentally changes the rest of our lives, that touches every aspect of who we are and what we do, every day of the year. It is this “every aspect” that deserves our attention.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 114-115.