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Living Between ‘Personal Power’ And ‘Presuming Providence’ (via Mike Emlet)

Mike Emlet encourages us to find the line that has trust in God’s providence on one side, and reliance on our effort and initiative on the other.

it’s easy to become imbalanced and to drift into either the “power mode” or the “presumption mode.” In the power mode, we take charge of our lives as though human responsibility were the only piece of the equation. Overplanning is common in this scenario. Here there is a functional absence of a sovereign God—we, of course, acknowledge God’s sovereignty, but practically speaking, it doesn’t affect our daily lives. On the other hand, there is a magnified emphasis on secondary causes. As a result of these imbalances, we may be tempted toward anxiety, fear, over-control, over-responsibility, perfectionism, and anger. Why? Because we think it’s all up to us.
In the presumption mode, we let go of our lives as though God’s sovereignty were the only piece of the equation. Little or no planning is common. Here there is a magnified emphasis on God’s sovereignty but a functional absence of secondary causes. As a result of these imbalances, we may be tempted toward laziness, passivity, stoicism, fatalism, and indecision. Why? Because we think it’s all up to God.
Scripture steers clear of either extreme. We are called to live neither by power nor by presumption. God’s Word provides an alternative: prudence. Prudence involves wise and prayerful planning. It is characterized by a robust view of God’s sovereignty and providence—He is responsible. Further, it retains a proper emphasis on secondary causes—I am responsible, too. We see this dual emphasis throughout the entire Bible. Time and time again, Scripture calls us to trust God’s providential care and to plan well and work hard in various spheres of life.

Read the whole article at Ligonier.


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Unreal Christian Quotes (via Trevin Wax)

Trevin Wax examines quotes wrongfully associated with various Christians.
I hadn’t heard of a couple of these quotes, but was familiar with most.
Given how often you read some of them, i.e. “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body” often attributed to C.S. Lewis, or the phrase attributed to Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words”, it is helpful to know what is true and what is not.
Read the post at Waxs’ blog at the Gospel Coalition.


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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.