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The Most Trustworthy Element In Our Day (via Scotty Smith)

A prayer for those days when things are a bit blergh.
When you’re somewhere between the two sons of Luke 15.
From Heavenward, by Scotty Smith.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20

Heavenly Father, I’m not beginning my day in a faraway country derelict, disillusioned, and destitute. Though I’m capable of anything, I’m not sitting here filled with shame for squandering an inheritance. And neither am I out in a field feeding somebody else’s pigs. Yet I’m just as much in need of fellowship with you as any of your broken children. So here I come.
Because the gospel is true, I bring you my busy, easily-distracted, somewhat-blasé heart. I feel like a 3rd Luke 15 son right now—a hybrid of the Father’s two boys Jesus described. I’m not on a hedonistic holiday, and I’m not spewing the toxins of self-righteousness. I’m just somewhere in between. I still hear and love the music of the gospel, but I just don’t feel like dancing right now. I’m not cold, hot, or lukewarm. I’m just here.
So, Father, as I come to you today, I take great comfort in knowing that we’ll always find you filled with compassion for us, even when our feelings are not fully engaged with you. As we saunter toward you, you’re always running toward us in Jesus. When we’re not as inclined to lift our arms in praise to you, your embrace is the most trustworthy element in our day.
You don’t just put your hand on our shoulders; you throw your arms around us in the gospel. And though our affection for you wavers, you shower us with multiple kisses all day long, for you love your children with an everlasting, unwavering love.
It’s not my fired-up-ness, but your faithfulness that counts. It’s not my peace with you, but your peace with me that is the anchor for my soul. Because the gospel is true and good, I will seek to live and love to your glory today. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.

Source


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J.B. Roane And The Case Of The Belated Apology by Larry Parsley

At Mockingbird Larry Parsley offers a piece of short fiction featuring J.B. Roane – Pastor for Hire.
Rev. Roane is engaged by a man named Thornton who needs his assistance in conveying a belated apology.
“I’d like to hire you for job. It’s a little out of the ordinary. I should be able to do it myself, but dang it, I just can’t.”
If subsequent offerings remain at this standard I’d look forward to a collection.
Have a read at Mockingbird.


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Nobody Welcomes Grace. At The Same Time Everybody Pants For It (via Paul Zahl)

Grace has to be the total paradigm, mix it with anything else and it can’t exist.
From Paul Zahl.

How can grace end-run its way around standards and yardsticks? It sounds unfair.
It is unfair, but it is completely unfair. It is the other side of the law, which is total grappling, a totally unsuccessful and failed grappling, with judgment. Because the law is completely fair, grace has to be completely “unfair.” The atonement makes grace “fair,” as is apparent in the teaching concerning the cross, But from our point of view, from the standpoint of its recipient, grace is unfair.
The unfair character of grace makes it persona non grata in the cut-and-thrust of the battle of life. Nobody welcomes grace. At the same time everybody pants for it; everybody wants it every second of every hour. Grace is an either-or proposition; it is not both-and.

Grace In Practice, Paul F. M. Zahl, Eerdmans, 2007, pgs 70-71.


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Two Expressions Of A Grace-Filled Church

This morning it occurred to me that in striving to nurture a grace-filled culture in a local church that there are two expressions of grace required.
The first of those is a culture of grace that frees people to be who they are; liberated from carrying the pretences and masks of self-protection that make them appear as people who have it all together.
The second of those is a culture of grace that enables us to love and support each other when we find ourselves with all these imperfect people around.
Otherwise you encourage people to be themselves, only to find yourself frustrated that they won’t get their acts together.
A grace filled church: a place where people can be who they are – instead of who they think people want them to be; a place where people accept each other and love each other for who they are – not what we’d like them to be.


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Real Self-Control Doesn’t Come From You (via David Prince)

A self-control that comes from within will not last, and only feeds the very emotions that eventually lead to loss of control.
Only the self-control that comes from God will show the fruit of his presence in our lives.
That’s the self-control I need.
From David Prince.

The writer of Proverbs asserts, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Prov 25:28). Paul points men to the example of athletes, “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.” He explains, “They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25). Biblical self-control is exercised in the pursuit of a higher goal. Self-control is never purposeless or merely self-referential. Paul exhorted Titus, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people training us to … live self-controlled, … in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Believers are trained in self-control by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Biblical self-control does not fixate on self, but rather fixates on God and his glory. Self-control is described as a fruit of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:23) and its opposite is gratifying of “the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).
Counterfeit self-control is rooted in pride, it glories in and is governed by the self-justifying, fleshly feeling of being in absolute control. It is an idolatrous mirage. Freedom in Christ is not the autonomous liberty to cast off all restraint because that is bondage—not freedom.

Read the whole post here.


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Repentance – Hearing The Call To Return Home (via Trevin Wax)

The call to repent is a call to acknowledge I’m going the wrong way.
It’s not a punishment, it’s a gracious invitation to stop, turn and come home.
It’s a bittersweet familiar companion.
There’s a grief of heart that comes from the conviction of wrong, a grief of heart that is amplified when offence to God and hurt caused to others (whether intentional or unintentional) is acknowledged.
But ultimately there’s also a sense of relief and anticipation.
Home is a wonderful place.
It will be good to be there again.
I’m on my way.

Trevin Wax writes how repentance can never set against grace, because it is intrinsic to experiencing grace.

The call to repentance is the call to return home. It’s the call to be refreshed by our tears. It’s the call to be cleansed from all our guilty stains. We need the scalpel of the Spirit to do surgery on our diseased hearts, so that we can be restored to spiritual health.

Full article here.


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Does It Bother You That God Barred Moses From The Promised Land? (via Trevin Wax)

Some helpful thoughts from Trevin Wax on a biblical narrative that seems troubling.

Moses did not enter the promised land, because God’s true deliverer fully embraces and fully embodies the mercy and love of God for his people.
And God’s dealing with Moses amply demonstrates mercy and grace in judgment.

From the article:

God told Moses to speak to the rock, but Moses struck it instead. The rock had always been a picture of God’s grace and generosity. And in an earlier account, God told Moses to strike it, as if God himself would take abuse in order to provide water for his people.
But now, in this case, Moses struck the rock twice, without God’s command. His anger, frustration, and self-pity overtook him and led him to lash out at God. He was doing what the faithless Israelites did when they complained and grumbled.
All our sins come down to this: we don’t trust that God is for us. We don’t depend on him as our rock. We stand in judgment over others. We get frustrated and impatient. We resent God’s grace toward others. We think that God doesn’t love us or want the best for us. Trace the sin of disobedience backward and you’ll arrive at the sin of faithlessness.
But even here—even though Moses was sinful, and the people were undeserving—God still gave them water. And he still allowed Moses the chance to look out over the Promised Land before he died. Even in judgment, God shows mercy.

Read the whole post here.