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The Worst Night Of The Year

I’ve been getting up early now for a couple of years, tomorrow and the next week are not a lot of fun.
Neither is the fact that instead of the pleasant early morning light I’ll be walking around in total darkness again.
Oh well.


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The Pastor As Curator (via Daniel Darling)

I’ve been happy about not having the maintenance of an aged/decaying/historic building as part of my job description at MGPC.
So I’ve not thought of myself as a curator, someone occupied with the past.
Daniel Darling points out that there is an aspect of a pastor’s role that involves some level of curation.
We serve as conduits and gatekeepers with regard to resources and teaching for our congregation.
Even in this internet search engine driven age, pastors have the privilege of spending our time discovering and weighing up various resources.
And the trust we have means our recommendations carry weight. A teacher we value is unknown to most. It’s my recommendation of them that carries weight.
My former colleague Ian Touzel excelled at this.

From Daniel Darling:

This is a part of ministry that isn’t often mentioned in Bible college, one that I was never taught: the task of filtering and curating reliable, helpful resources for the people of God.
This early ministry experience was a fresh reminder of the gap that can exist between pulpit and pew, leadership and laity. Church leaders often live in a rarified Christian bubble; it can be easy to assume that everyone else is aware of pieces of Christian thought and culture that are just not on their radar. This is why leaders need to be proactive about leaving those bubbles and getting into the lives of their people to learn the conversations they’re a part of—and, when appropriate, invite them to participate in new ones.
In many ways, pastors and other church leaders act as gatekeepers. Church members assume their leaders are filtering out the very best kind of Christian resources and regularly making those things available. Of course, Christian content can be found in a variety of sources outside the church walls: Christian radio, the Internet, bookstores. But for the most part, church members are busy living their lives—busy with kids, careers, and finances. They depend on pastors, elders, deacons, and other mentors to be curators, to sort through the stacks of Christian content, choosing good resources and discouraging resources that confuse or distort the truth.

Read the rest of the article here.


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If It Stops Stinking, It’s Too Late (via Michael Milton)

Michael Milton relates an episode from his past life experience of receiving a safety warning while working on an oil field and draws a parallel application to spiritual health:

[The warning from his foreman]
“When you smell rotten-eggs at the well site, boys, you are smelling a poisonous, corrosive, flammable gas that is hydrogen sulfide. This hydrogen sulfide will kill you in no time flat … If you get to the point where you do not smell hydrogen sulfide and its noxious rotten-egg aroma, it’s already too late. So, listen and live: You smell it. You get out of there. ‘Cuz if you stop smelling it, we will have to go in and haul your ugly carcass out of there feet-first. And that will just mess up my day. Don’t be that guy!”

[Milton’s spiritual application]
…sin is like the rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. Whenever you smell it, you have to get out—and I mean NOW. If you linger after you have detected the odor of the poisonous gas of sin, you will quickly get to the point where you don’t smell it. That is a point of no return. Let us say it like this,
If sin becomes tolerable, judgment becomes inevitable.
And by the time you stop sensing that rotten-egg smell, it will be too late. You will be trapped by sin. You’ll be snared by the devil. Somebody just may have to go into the scene of the incident and pull you out feet-first.

Read the whole post here.


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Out Of Context: Philippians 4:13

This little video seeks to put in context one of the more badly contextualised Bible verses: Philippians 4:13.
In short, it’s a verse about contentment, not achievement.
That’s pretty helpful.

HT.


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Comfort Is A Deadly Compass (via Erik Raymond)

When working through life decisions or navigating through challenging relationships or seasons of life it’s inviting to arrive at answers that are based on our preferences, what makes us comfortable, or what we feel we want, instead of being directed by God’s Word.

Erik Raymond observes there’s a significant issue with using what makes you comfortable as a guide for decision making.
What makes you comfortable can be wrong.

We tend to go with our reflex. And for many, this reflex is for personal comfort. When given choices we often tend towards that which is going to be the most comfortable and most personally rewarding. But what if our compass is defective? What if the right sense of direction would tell us to do the hard thing that requires humility? I believe that personal comfort is a deadly compass.

Raymond illustrates the point in the rest of his post here.


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Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 37

Westminster Confession Of Faith – Lord’s Day 37

Chapter 22 – Of Lawful Oaths and Vows (Paragraphs 1-3)
I. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein upon just occasion, the person swearing solemnly calls God to witness what he asserts or promises; and to judge him according to the truth or falsehood of what he swears.
II. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear, and therein it is to be used with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred. Yet, as, in matters of weight and moment, an oath is warranted by the Word of God, under the New Testament, as well as under the Old, so a lawful oath, being imposed by lawful authority, in such matters ought to be taken.
III. Whosoever takes an oath ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth. Neither may any man bind himself by oath to any thing but what is good and just, and what he believes so to be, and what he is able and resolved to perform. Yet it is a sin to refuse an oath touching anything that is good and just, being imposed by lawful authority.


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On Taking Issue With Another Christian Who You Believe Is Wrong (via John Newton)

John Newton on the spirit with which another believer in grave error should be corrected:

If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab, concerning Absalom, are very applicable: “Deal gently with him for my sake.” The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should shew tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself.
In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ for ever.

Read the rest of the article here.

Even more by Newton on the topic here, covering the personal and broader impacts of public disagreement.

By printing, you will appeal to the public; where your readers may be ranged under three divisions: First, such as differ from you in principle. Concerning these I may refer you to what I have already said. Though you have your eye upon one person chiefly, there are many like-minded with him; and the same reasoning will hold, whether as to one or to a million.
There will be likewise many who pay too little regard to religion, to have any settled system of their own, and yet are preengaged in favor of those sentiments which are at least repugnant to the good opinion men naturally have of themselves. These are very incompetent judges of doctrine; but they can form a tolerable judgment of a writer’s spirit. They know that meekness, humility, and love are the characteristics of a Christian temper; and though they affect to treat the doctrines of grace as mere notions and speculations, which, supposing they adopted them, would have no salutary influence upon their conduct; yet from us, who profess these principles, they always expect such dispositions as correspond with the precepts of the gospel. They are quick-sighted to discern when we deviate from such a spirit, and avail themselves of it to justify their contempt of our arguments. The scriptural maxim, that “the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God,” is verified by daily observation. If our zeal is embittered by expressions of anger, invective, or scorn, we may think we are doing service of the cause of truth, when in reality we shall only bring it into discredit. The weapons of our warfare, and which alone are powerful to break down the strongholds of error, are not carnal, but spiritual; arguments fairly drawn from Scripture and experience, and enforced by such a mild address, as may persuade our readers, that, whether we can convince them or not, we wish well to their souls, and contend only for the truth’s sake; if we can satisfy them that we act upon these motives, our point is half gained; they will be more disposed to consider calmly what we offer; and if they should still dissent from our opinions, they will be constrained to approve our intentions.
You will have a third class of readers, who, being of your own sentiments, will readily approve of what you advance, and may be further established and confirmed in their views of the Scripture doctrines, by a clear and masterly elucidation of your subject. You may be instrumental to their edification if the law of kindness as well as of truth regulates your pen, otherwise you may do them harm. There is a principle of self, which disposes us to despise those who differ from us; and we are often under its influence, when we think we are only showing a becoming zeal in the cause of God.

The whole post.