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The Privilege Of Watching God’s Word At Work (via John Chester)

In this post about preachers and preaching, John Chester remarks about one incredible privilege that preachers have, particularly those who are blessed to preach to congregations where they can pretty much see everyone, and who are able to be free from a manuscript long enough to observe how people are reacting to God’s Word:

There is one other profound blessing that the pastor receives because he is looking into the faces of the congregation. The living and active nature of the Word of God is impressed on him as never before. [Of course this only applies to pastors who actually preach the bible!] From behind the pulpit I have seen people burst in to tears, tears of joy at the thought of heaven and the hope we have in Christ, and tears of conviction in response to a powerful truth of Scripture. I have seen the look cross a visitors face the split second they become offended by the gospel, and I have seen someone sitting with their arms defiantly crossed melt and soften as the Word of God washes over them. It is a unique blessing to be able to see how people respond to the preaching of the Word of God.

Read the whole post here.


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Hallowed Be Your Name (preparing for MGPC 17/2/19)

Song: From The Day
Welcome:
Call to Worship
Song: No Other Name
Prayer Of Confession
Song: Take My Life And Let It Be
Affirming our Faith: New City Catechism 7
Song: Worship, Honour, Glory, Blessing
Bible Reading: Zechariah 7 – Two years after the visions of Chapters 1–6, Zechariah is asked about continuing a fast established on the anniversary of the destruction of the temple. Zechariah points to obedience, not fasting, as the means of gaining, and disobedience as the means of forfeiting, the favour of God that they seek (verse 2).
Bible Memorisation: The Lord’s Prayer
Song: Holy, Holy, Holy
Bible Reading: Revelation 4: 1-11
Sermon: Hallowed Be Your Name
Announcements:
Pastoral Prayer:
Closing Blessing
Song: Blessed Be Your Name


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Sometimes We Forget We’re All The Wrong Sort Of People (via Larry Parsley)

In a book of devotions drawn from the Gospel of Mark, Larry Parsley reflects on the observation that Jesus attracts the wrong sort of people, and sometimes some of us can forget that we’re the wrong sort of people too.

Parsley concludes his devotion with a story that most pastors have experienced in one form or another:

Years ago, at a heated church business meeting, an older man rose to take issue with our pastor and the many changes he had made to reach people who don’t go to church. This man complained how new neighbors from highly churched backgrounds were not interested in our church anymore. And then he leveled what he must have thought was his most devastating indictment: “Since you came to be our pastor, the wrong kind of people are coming to our church.”
Exactly.
Jesus, thank you for welcoming the wrong kind of people…like me.

Read the post at Mockingbird.


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The Best Thing You Can Do For The Kingdom (via Mez Mc Connell)

Mez McConnell writes frankly about a Christian culture that won’t invest in reaching hard places, but encourages people and churches to spend money based on sentiment or experience for little real return.
From his post.

Let’s not think too deeply about the fact that the Western evangelical money machine basically runs the most sophisticated and expensive 4D-real-life-experience/babysitting service in the world and then passes it off as legitimate short term missions and poverty alleviation. Agencies will spend millions on flashy and emotive videos in an effort to persuade people to give their lives to the cause of world missions. I know. At 20schemes we are desperate for gospel workers, male and female, to come to our land and share the good news of Jesus. Desperate. I could quote all the stats showing our need over and against another country’s need or another agency’s work. I could post the links right here to powerful videos of lives transformed by the gospel and then make the ask to join us on our exciting adventure into the future. But I’m tired of that. And you know what…so are you. So, my challenge to you is this—forget the idea, spoon-fed to the younger generations since birth, that you’re the future of your local church and the global church. You’re not. Jesus is. The best thing you can do for the kingdom this year is to knuckle down wherever God has you now. Ask your pastor and the elders how you can better serve them and your local congregation. Go out and find that John in your community. You’ll probably find them in the areas of your town that you would usually avoid, struggling away, invisible among all the bells and whistles of modern evangelicalism. If you’re really wanting to serve the least of these, go and do a free internship there. Serve him and that community in anonymity. Turn your iPhone off. Don’t tweet about it. Keep off Instagram.

Read the whole article at 20schemes.


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Our Father In Heaven (preparing for MGPC 10/2/19)

Song: The Love Of The Father
Welcome:
Call to Worship
Song: This I Believe – (The Creed)
Prayer Of Confession
Song: Lord, Be My Vision
Affirming our Faith: New City Catechism 6
Song: Worship, Honour, Glory, Blessing
Bible Reading: Zechariah 6: 1-15 – Zechariah’s eighth vision, of four chariots which patrol the earth as emissaries of God’s judgment; priesthood and kingship are united in Joshua the high priest, who is a type of the Messiah to come.
Bible Memorisation: The Lord’s Prayer
Song: God Has Spoken
Bible Reading: Romans 8: 12-17
Sermon: Our Father In Heaven
Welcome To Membership
The Lord’s Supper (gf bread)
Announcements:
Pastoral Prayer:
Closing Blessing
Song: One True God


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The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) Of Christianity (via Gary Millar at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Gary Millar reflects that in contemporary culture, making the idea that a local church is ‘just like you’ as central to its efforts to reach out into the community is no longer effective.
His conclusion:

Ultimately, the gospel itself is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of Christianity. God in Christ has made it possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection for people like us to know and enjoy him forever, as part of his family. I suspect that we need to throw ourselves into, not just proclaiming the gospel, but also demonstrating its implications with fresh enthusiasm. Because of the gospel, church really is different kind of community. Through the gospel, we have been reborn into a community marked by love, joy, peace and hope. The gospel announces that in Christ we really aren’t just like everyone else, but have been brought from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Perhaps it’s time to start proclaiming that with a renewed confidence. Because that really does set us apart from the ‘competition’.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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The Spiritual Dangers Of Disconnecting From Creation (via Scott Martin at Gospel Coalition)

I do spend an hour and a half outside most days walking, but I’m not a huge fan of nature.
To say the least.
It’s a pretty well-known thing that anyone who knows me has heard about.

This article by Scott Martin points out how not experiencing creation on a regular basis cuts a person off from experiencing aspects of God’s presence, power, and character.

From the article:

… in our post-industrial societies, humans are growing increasingly distant from the wonder and communicative power of creation. Climate is controlled by a thermostat. Our windows rarely open. We need not notice weather, the seasons, and other cycles of creation unless we want to. Our food is delivered without any dirt getting under our fingernails, from places we know not where, in seasons of harvest we know not when. We barely notice when trees bud or creeks rise.
What do we lose in the Christian life without meaningful, intentional immersion in and connection to creation.
We lose a dimension of the grandeur and glory of God. We lose a sense of the sublime that we experience standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, staring down mortality in a Class V rapid, or intentionally exposing ourselves to the brutality of a winter storm. We lose a sense of wonder when we aren’t planting flowers, harvesting food in our garden, or watching a bird built a nest. We miss opportunities for gratitude and worship when we don’t take time to pause before the simplicity of a tree, taking in its bark, leaves, shape, form—and realizing this little piece of nature is perfectly achieving the purpose God set for it. John Calvin said, “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in the world, that is not intended to make us rejoice.” But when we are far from the grass and colors of the world, we miss opportunities to rejoice.
We also miss a sense of healthy proportion and orientation. Exposure to creation reveals that we are small and God is big. It humbles us and reminds us of who we are in relation to a holy God.

Read the rest, along with some suggestions about how to reconnect with creation at the Gospel Coalition.