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Where God Will Lead His People This Week (via Scotty Smith)

Scotty Smith offers a prayer about where God leads His people.
Not where we’d go by our own decision, but it’s where we need to go.
It’s written for a Monday, but as the week flows along you can see how the prayer is being answered.

Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:4

Heavenly Father, on this June Monday, we are so grateful for the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience. You have enriched us beyond all measure in Jesus.
All of these good gifts converge in this one verse from Romans. The most certifiably insane thing we do is to “show contempt” for these treasures. After all, this wonderful triad of graces will only take us to the address called freedom on the path called repentance.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit will never direct us to self-contempt or condemnation, but only to a place of greater liberty and Christlikeness. Because of Jesus’ finished work, your ongoing work in our lives — even when it hurts, is so good.
When we resist the convicting work of the Spirit and refuse to humble ourselves, we’re worse than silly. We’re toxically foolish. You give grace to the humble and resist the proud. Who in their right mind would ever want your resistance? We want grace, Father, as much as you will give us.
Thank you for leading us to humility, not humiliation; to shelter, not shame; to repentance, not penance. Thank you for teaching us that repentance is collapsing on Jesus as our righteousness, not making vain promises we can’t and won’t keep.
So kind Father, fill our week with the beauty of Jesus and quick repentances. As your kindness leads us to repentance, may it also lead us to loving others as Jesus loves us. Give us more joy in walking with you this week than being admired, appreciated, and applauded by our peers. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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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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Winning By Losing (via Chad Bird)

The sacraments of modern culture are personal achievements, measured, quantified, compared. But they are not enough to provide a satisfaction that we have connection with eternity. There is no rest, only striving.
The good news is something better than that.
From Chad Bird:

In the kingdom of the almighty number, where the first are first and even the second are last, we remember only the names of those who are the cream of the crop.
In the kingdom of the humble Christ, where the first are last and the last are first, God rememberers even the names of those who sink to the bottom.
For in the church, we win by losing, are humbled to be exalted, receive a name even when lost in anonymity.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 113.


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Preaching Unsuccess (via Chad Bird)

The church will gather together tomorrow to hear the news of the unsuccessful life.

From Upside-Down Spirituality:

Christianity has a God who knows that if the church runs the way of success, we’ll eventually tumble headfirst into the grave of irrelevance. That’s where the quest for success leads us – into a kind of death, into a toothless message of empty platitudes with a mirage of hope at the end.
Our churches, in fact, preach a kind of unsuccess. We succeed at nothing to which the world aspires. Power? No, we boast in weakness. Fame? No, we revel in anonymity. Beauty? No, our God hung on an ugly cross. Winning? No, we confess that the first are actually last. Riches? No, for the love of them is the root of all kinds of evil. the church is a place for losers. for those who hands have been emptied, so that – as we sing – “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 189.


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The Ache Is Not A Desire To Escape, It’s Homesickness (via Rebecca K Reynolds)

Rebecca K Reynolds explains the the desire to be with Christ is not something for which the disciple needs to feel guilty as if its an avoidance of the realities of life, rather the desire to be with Christ is a natural feeling to experience more of the belonging which union with Jesus brings to our lives:

Paul’s use of the words with Christ clued me in to something big. His ache was relational, not just geographic. He didn’t simply want to get to heaven; he wanted to get further up and further in to community with Jesus. Before catching that, I’d always felt sort of guilty for wanting to escape my earthly life to be closer to the Lord—after all, the Holy Spirit lived inside me. Why couldn’t I just be content with what I had already been given? Yet, Paul understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit better than you or I ever will, and he still longed to experience divine fellowship in a way that was more intimate than anything he could encounter on earth. His story helps me rejoice in all things while admitting the cramp in my side. It gives me permission to live a little homesick.

Rebecca K Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, NavPress, 2018, pg 8.


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Hurry Up And Do Nothing (via Chad Bird)

The Bible is an ongoing narrative of God’s capacity and desire to do everything that his people need, only for people to keep wanting to do what they can’t achieve in his place.

From Chad Bird:

Doing nothing is the hardest thing for us to do. we’d rather talk nonstop for hours than be utterly silent for a few minutes. We’d rather be told to plan this, accomplish that, busy ourselves with these goals, than simply to receive the work the Lord does for us. It all seems too easy. Too childish. Too much like we have no part to play in our own defence, recovery, and ultimate salvation.
But we don’t. And that’s the best of news! We are the recipients of the Lord’s labour. The Lord will see you and you have only to be trapped. The Lord will forgive you and you have only to be a sinner. The Lord with give you a new identity, cleanse you of every spot of shame, and fill you with an inner peace that this world cannot give. And you have only to do nothing. The new person we are in Christ, says author and pastor R.J. Grunewald, “has empty hands, clinging to nothing but the work of Jesus.” Our empty, outstretched hands of faith filled with the gracious work of Jesus.

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 96-97.


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Love Is Not Something We Fall Into, It Is A Rough And Rocky Hill Two People Commit To Climb Together (via Chad Bird)

Marriage, contrary to popular thought is not a dream within a dream.
It is a mutual commitment by two people to live as one for the the duration of their lives.
And if it was easy, why would we need promises to hold ourselves to it?

From Chad Bird:

That’s why love is not something we fall into; it’s a rough and rocky hill we commit ourselves to climb. Or, to change the metaphor, love is a story we decide to write together with another person. There will be paragraphs penned in the calligraphy of pure ecstasy, but there will also be chapters scribbled in pain. The thing is, we don’t know what form or direction the narrative will take. The final chapter is not written until it’s lived. What we’re devoting ourselves to is not a fairy tale, not a thriller, not a bestseller, but a simple story of sacrifice for someone else. We for them and (hopefully) they for us. But because it is the account of two sinners sharing the same bed, bank account, and bathroom counter, the narrative will become terribly messy and convoluted at times. There will be entire sections we wish we could blot out. Heated and vitriolic dialogues that embarrass us. And, along the way, plenty of happy surprises as well. We’ll discover places in our hearts, and in the hearts of our beloved, that we didn’t even know existed. That’s the way stories unfold. Unpredictable. Boring. Beautiful. Ugly. Riveting. We’ll find all of this and more when we commit to writing a story with another person to whom we say, “I love you.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 128-129.