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Think Advent, Not Adrenaline, When You Picture Life In Christ’s Church (via Chad Bird)

A reminder from Chad Bird that life as a disciple of Jesus is life with the Church; and growth as a disciple of Jesus with the church is a slow-cooker experience, not a microwave experience.

The work of Jesus in our lives, and in the life of his church, creeps along like that Matthew genealogy. It’s not radical, explosive, immediate, incredible, or any other dazzling adjective you can select from the Thesaurus of Spiritual Excitement. There’s no microwaving this sacred meal. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be humdrum most of the time. Worship won’t be an ongoing string of wow! mind-blowing! incredible! experiences that leave us tingling with the skintight closeness of the Spirit.
Jesus is more of a take-his—sweet—time gardener than an applause-inducing circus performer. Novelty is not his way. We often want it to be. Indeed, as the devil Screwtape brags in one of his letters to the junior tempter, “The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart.” Unsatisfied with the built-in rhythms of change in daily lie, “the horror of the Same Old Thing” demands novelty for novelty’s sake. “Unchanged” comes to mean “stagnant.” But think advent, not adrenaline, when you picture life in Christ’s church.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 127.


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Jesus Doesn’t Believe In You. That’s Why He Saves You. (via Chad Bird)

It’s because Jesus knows us completely that he knows how completely we need to be saved.
And that’s how he reveals the gracious magnitude of God’s love.
From Chad Bird:

Jesus knows good and well that there’s nothing inside us worth believing in. In fact, everything inside us looks absolutely untrustworthy. If anything, when the Lord peers into our hearts, he should hightail it for the hills, getting as far away from us as he can. But he’s not that kind of God. He loves before he looks. And even after he looks, he still loves. Because his love has nothing to do with us. It is not sparked by our goodness or sustained by our obedience. God is love. It’s who he is and what he does. While we were still powerless, he was powerful to save. While we were still sinners, he was still the sinless, gracious, saving God he’s always been.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pg 44.


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The Attitude We Have About The Church Is The Attitude We Have About Jesus (via Stephen Kneale)

The Church is the body of Christ. Not figuratively. Literally.
The way you’ll treat the Church tomorrow is the way you treat Jesus.

From Stephen Kneale at Church Matters:

If Christ is unified to his people, then what one does to his people is what one is doing to Christ. How one treats his people is how one is treating Christ. This is the clear implication of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 25:40.
Jesus’ words to Paul have far wider-reaching ramifications than how Jesus views the persecution of his people. It has clear implications for how the Lord’s people treat one another. It similarly has implications for how the Lord’s people treat the Lord’s stuff.
If we cannot be bothered to get out of bed to get to church on Sunday morning, we are not just failing to bother spending time with God’s people but we are spurning Christ himself. When we have no interest in serving and caring for the Lord’s people, we are failing to care for the Lord. When we drop the ball on stuff in church and put upon others, we are spurning the Lord and saying there are other things that take precedence over him.
If Jesus’ words to Saul tell us that those who persecute the church are persecuting Christ, it also tells us that how we treat the church is how we treat Christ. If we never go to church, if we constantly go away for the weekend, if we never serve, if we find anything else to do, these are not just holding the church in low esteem, it is treating Christ lightly and a direct reflection on our views of him.
By contrast, a high view of the church is a high view of Christ. If the church becomes a high priority, Christ is a high priority. Serving the people of the church is a measure of our love for Christ. Serving in the ministries of the church is a measure of our love for Christ. Turning up at weekly worship and engaging with the Lord’s people is a measure of our love for Christ.

source


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“There Is No Other Way To Be A Disciple Of Jesus Than To Be In Communion With Other Disciples Of Jesus” (via Fleming Rutledge)

An observation from Fleming Rutledge about the Gospel of John and how it demonstrates that while Jesus was relating to individuals, he was creating a community, a family, a body, branches joined to a common vine.

Taking the Gospel and the Epistles of John together, no writings in the New Testament are more concerned with the church than John. You wouldn’t necessarily notice this, however, if you read the Gospel without looking for it. Our typical American individualism tends always to focus on the single, supposedly autonomous person, so we typically read the Bible through that lens. And it’s true that for the first two-thirds of the Gospel, John features a striking number of personal, intimate conversations between Jesus and single individuals: the Samaritan woman, Nico- demus, the man born blind, Thomas, Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene. These stories stand out because they are beautifully crafted by John, a master dramatist. So, most people tend to read the Fourth Gospel that way. But the overwhelming emphasis in John is not on individuals, but on the organic connection that Jesus creates among those who put their trust in him. This theme reaches its apex in chapters 15 and 16, during the last hours of his life on earth, when he teaches, “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5).
There is no other way to be a disciple of Jesus than to be in communion with other disciples of Jesus. Why do you suppose the Lord didn’t separate out each one of his followers, stand us up separately, pronounce us each a unique individual, and then bid us go off and create ourselves?
He did the opposite; instead of making us independent and self-centered, he makes us mutually interdependent and other-directed.

Fleming Rutledge, Three Hours, Eerdmans, 2019, pgs 31-32.


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The Never-Ending Faithful Love Of The God Who Hates Divorce (via Sammy Rhodes)

Sammy Rhodes is writing about the way in which effects of his parent’s divorce ripple through his life and perceptions. He recounts the combination of cynicism and romanticism about marriage that the children of divorced parents have. One couple for whom he performed a marriage vowed ‘never to divorce’ one another, a promise that Rhodes felt was both arrogant, yet admirable. It causes him to think of the only one who can truly make that promise:

I think the best metaphor we have for the kind of love God has for us is that he is a God who marries us with eyes wide open and promises to never divorce us regardless of how unfaithful we turn out to be.

When God says he hates divorce, he doesn’t mean he hates the divorced. He means that the kind of love he has for his people is best captured by a one-sided marriage that he promises will never end in divorce. That’s the kind of love he’s come to create in his people. For him. For the church. And for husbands and wives.

God’s love is the only love that can sustain a marriage because it is the only love that can promise it’s never going anywhere. Our love is too frail, too fragile, to possibly sustain our marriages. German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that it is not our love that sustains our marriages; our marriage becomes the place to sustain our love.

The only way to “divorce-proof” your marriage is for God’s love to sustain your marriage so that, in turn, your marriage can sustain your love.

Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pg 43.

In this observation I think Rhodes makes a very important point, when God talks about hating divorce, he’s not telling us something directly about our marriages (though there is something there); he is telling us something about himself and his faithfulness.


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Not Letting ‘Awesome’ Define Your Life (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird contends that God does not reveal himself on the mountaintops of life as consistently as he is found in the valleys.
He makes reference to what he describes as “one of the most in-American verses in the Bible,” truthfully one of the most counter-cultural verses of our age.

If I could rewind my life and go back twenty years, I would dream small and relish the joys of an unaccomplished life. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life,” Paul urges (l Thess. 4:11 NIV). This is arguably one of the most un-American verses in the Bible. Those words have become almost a mantra for me. I must say them over and over to silence the lifelong indoctrination I have received from a culture that idolizes those who do big things and urges us all to do likewise. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” In other words, make it your ambition not to let “awesome” define your life, dictate your relationships, weigh the importance of who you are, or guide you in discerning how and where God is found.
To lead a quiet life doesn’t mean that you lower your expectations as much as you lower your gaze. Instead of looking up to the next accomplishment, the next rung on the ladder, you look down at the daily life you live, the children God has given you, the spouse by your side, your aging parents, your dear friends, the poor and needy — all those “little things” you miss when you’re always looking up to the “next big thing” in your life.

Your God Is Too Glorious, Chad Bird, Baker, 2018, pg 14.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 47

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 47

122.
Q. What is the first petition?
A. “Hallowed be your name.” That is: help us first of all to know you rightly, and to hallow, glorify, and praise you in all your works through which there shine your almighty power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, mercy, and truth. And so order our whole life in thought, word, and deed that your name may never be blasphemed on our account, but may always be honored and praised.