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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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Christian Maturity Is Marked By Growing Dependence, Not Independence (via Chad Bird)

Tomorrow Christians will gather and be reminded yet again that we are unlearning non-dependence and learning dependence on Jesus. Christian maturity is not learning how to develop our own strength so we need Jesus less, it is increasing in our knowledge of our inability to stand anywhere but in Jesus’ strength.
From Chad Bird:

The stories we prefer to write about ourselves, as outwardly attractive as they may be, will never get us into the narrative in which Christ truly shapes us into his own image. The self-image we cultivate tends to work on the false assumption that God desires us to grow more independent. To become better and stronger so that we need him less. We imagine ourselves growing when we lean less on God and more on our own gifts and talents. As if the Lord is waiting for us to spread our wings and make our own way through this life.
But Christian maturity is not marked by independence but dependence. A growing awareness of our incessant need for Christ. A focus off me, my talents, my doing, even my religious life, and a focus instead upon the Son of God. The less we are, the more Christ is. But far from being bad news, this is the best news of all. For the more Christ is, the more we are the very people God has created us to be

Chad Bird, Your God Is Too Glorious, Baker Books, 2018, 78.


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The Failure Which Is True Success (via Chad Bird)

… true success is found in the failure to find meaning and purpose in something we do, accomplish, build. Rather, our identity, our meaning and purpose, is not something we work for but receive from the hand of our Father.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The 9 Essential Failures of a Faithful Life, as quoted at Mockingbird Blog.


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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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A Death Must Truly Be A Death Before There Can Be New Life (via David Zahl)

Popular culture and social media has made failure into a status symbol, but usually presents failing as an egalitarian stepping stone to entail success. Almost like a rite of passage.
David Zahl points out that this cultural tendency to gloss over failure as a stepping stone to success short-changes the suffering of those who fail, and whose failures cannot be stepped from quickly or easily.

The notion that failure is not failure but the first step toward its opposite may be absurd, but it is also suitably and undeniably cult-like. Ironically, such silver-lining-itis buffers us from the very suffering we are theoretically venerating.
Honest failure, on the other hand, hurts. It is painful. It is out of our control. And there’s nothing we like less than that.
Obviously some failures do lead to success. Some dead-ends do herald new beginnings. This is especially true in relationships. But some do not. A biblical truism captures this dynamic: you cannot pole-vault over Good Friday to get to Easter. A death must truly be a death before there can be new life. Christ was not hanging from the cross checking his watch — “another few hours of this and then it’s smooth sailing.” He really suffered and really died. He experienced true separation from God. What happened thereafter was unexpected.
Which is to say, failure in the service of success is not actually failure.

David Zahl, Seculosity, Fortress Press, 2019, pg. 37.


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The Need For Both The Cross And The Resurrection At The Same Time

These words were written with the season of Lent in mind, but they could easily be true of Good Friday as parts of Protestantism observe it.

Each year we spend forty days pretending Jesus is going to die; we go hungry and grow—despite ourselves—angry; we prepare for what is going to take place. But it has, dammit, it has taken place. Christ has died and redeemed us and has risen from the dead. We are new and alive. Love should be our concern now (read St. Paul) and instead we mope around and bewail our sins, which have killed our Savior. Well I have more to bewail than anybody, of that I am certain, but I’m tired of bewailing and I’m tired of going hungry and growing angry, and I’m tired of pretending Christ is going to die. I am forgiven my sins and the bridegroom is among us.

The focus on resurrection is similar, though,

On the other hand, there is the current tendency to concentrate only on Easter, only on the risen Christ. We are saved. We are good. This is the Worship tendency;…

Christians need both. At once. All the time.

The relation must be made between the absurdities of existence and the coherence of Christianity, between Lent and Christ suffering in our contemporaries, between Easter and Christ showing us our ultimate triumph. Lent and Easter are not merely personal experiences. They reassert the divine economy of salvation. It is criminal, therefore, to reduce Lent to self-reproach and Easter to self-complacency.

Mockingbird.


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Anger Management When The Anger Is With God (via Bonnie Zahl)

Anger with God is not unbelief.
It is an aspect of faith that has reached its current limitations.
Bonnie Zahl writes about the various ways in which a relationship with God will sometimes find us in pain and wrestling with him.
Being in relationship with other Christians we need to grow together in grace and patience to bear one another through these dark seasons.

In my many years of speaking with people who are angry at God, I have never met a person who told me that what they needed was a reminder of how to think correctly about their situation. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest the opposite: studies show that if people are made to feel judged, ashamed, or guilty about feeling angry at God, they are more likely to continue feeling angry at God, to reject God, and to use alcohol and other substances to cope. In contrast, people who said they were supported when they disclosed their anger reported greater engagement in their spiritual life and more spiritual growth as a result of the difficult experience.

Read the whole article at Mockingbird.