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Seeing Love Through Different Lenses (via Heidi Tai at Gospel Coalition Australia)

There are times when I wonder why I scan through so many online articles.
Then I read one like this.
Heidi Tai writes about a loving across generations and cultural expectations.
And the difference that Jesus can make in bridging those gaps.
Just go and read it.
Maybe have a tissue or two around, as well.

Growing up, my dad and I saw the world very differently. Coming from two different generations and cultures, we would clash for many years to come. As I became a teenager, our relationship became a battleground between Eastern and Western values. He would fail to meet my expectations of a loving father, and I would fail to meet his expectations of a respectful daughter. While I longed for love to be expressed through the Western form of affection and affirmation, Dad expressed love through his Eastern lens of provision and sacrifice.

Read Closing The Cultural Gap at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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What A Local Church Really Needs (via Premier Christianity)

Churches can have all sorts of assumptions about what the people who visit or regularly attend them want, and then tailor themselves to meet that felt need. And then share the Gospel. Sort of a Jesus ‘bait and switch.’
This post doesn’t take issue with excellence, but makes a heartfelt observation about what is important.
From Kimberli Lira at Premier Christianity.

When I walk into church I am not paying attention to the décor. I don’t want to smell freshly brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable.
Since my husband died, my days are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore so everything is on my plate. When I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need.
This is not a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. But, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the centre. It is also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation.
There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavour. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need Jesus.
My social media feeds are full of churches boasting about the trendy new initiatives they have begun. Their coffee bars and lighting don’t appeal to me.
I want to see how Jesus has changed a person’s life. I want to see the power of prayer. I want to see how the Word of God can be applied to life. I want to see how Jesus can help the hurting. I want to see how Jesus can heal the sick. I want to see how a broken heart is restored. I want to see how mourners are comforted. I want to see how lives are restored.

Read the whole post here.


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It’s Still Good News (via Michael Reeves)

The good news proclaimed at the Reformation in 1517 is still good news in 2017 and beyond.
Which is why the Reformation will never really be over, or a thing of the past.
From Michael Reeves on why the Reformation still matters:

Almost certainly, what confuses people into thinking that the Reformation is a bit of history we can move beyond is the idea that it was just a reaction to some problem of the day. But the closer one looks, the clearer it becomes: the Reformation was not principally a negative movement about moving away from Rome and its corruption; it was a positive movement, about moving toward the gospel. And that is precisely what preserves the validity of the Reformation for today. If the Reformation had been a mere reaction to a historical situation five hundred years ago, one would expect it to be over. But as a program to move ever closer to the gospel, it cannot be over.

Source


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 31

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 31

83.
Q. What is the office of the keys?
A. The preaching of the holy and Christian discipline. By these two means the kingdom of heaven is opened to believers and shut against unbelievers.

84.
Q. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?
A. In this way: The kingdom of heaven is opened when it is proclaimed and openly testified to believers, one and all, according to the command of Christ, that as often as they accept the promise of the gospel with true faith all their sins are truly forgiven them by God for the sake of Christ’s gracious work. On the contrary, the wrath of God and eternal condemnation fall upon all unbelievers and hypocrites as long as they do not repent. It is according to this witness of the gospel that God will judge the one and the other in this life and in the life to come.

85.
Q. How is the kingdom of heaven shut and opened by Christian discipline?
A. In this way: Christ commanded that those who bear the Christian name in an unchristian way either in doctrine or in life should be given brotherly admonition. If they do not give up their errors or evil ways, notification is given to the church or to those ordained for this by the church. Then, if they do not change after this warning, they are forbidden to partake of the holy Sacraments and are thus excluded from the communion of the church and by God himself from the kingdom of Christ. However, if they promise and show real amendment, they are received again as members of Christ and of the church.


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The Royal Wedding Sermon

People have asked me from time to time what I thought of the sermon that was given during the recent royal wedding.
I have a few observations.
One train of evangelical thought is that the preacher gave an introduction to the Gospel, laying down a number of threads that could later be drawn together in a full Gospel understanding. Such a sermon is an exercise in restraint, not saying everything, but just saying enough to point the way. It is a technique that preachers committed to the Gospel sometimes use in public contexts.
My perception of the message is that a very skilled and committed communicator took the opportunity presented to him and actually gave the entirety of his gospel message. He didn’t hold anything back, and what he said is the sum total of what he believes the good news to be.

Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t . . . he wasn’t getting anything out of it.
He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world . . . for us.
That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives and it can change this world.

“Love can be sacrificial and in so doing, becomes redemptive”
Trying to be charitable by maintaining he chose not to say it all, instead of simply accepting that everything he did say was all he has to say, is a work of unnecessary condescension.

Now, if that is the case, my observation about the sermon is that it sort of reminded me of this message, wherein the preacher says much the same thing and takes considerably less time to say it.


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The Gospel Will Empower Its Own Implications (via Jared Wilson)

Jared Wilson writes about the mission response to Gospel preaching and teaching.
Christian ministry can’t be motivated by fear and guilt.

The good news about Jesus doesn’t just tell Christians how to respond, it is the power by which they respond.
Remember that the gospel will empower its own implications. So remind your church that they have all the wind of the Spirit at their backs, that God has always been roaming the earth seeking whom he may revive, that the kingdom is not contingent upon them but upon him, and that they are not responsible for evangelistic success, but evangelistic faithfulness.
The motivation of grace better triggers a church’s impulse for gospel mission.

Read the whole post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 11

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 11

29.
Q. Why is the Son of God called JESUS, which means SAVIOUR?
A. Because he saves us from our sins, and because salvation is to be sought or found in no other.

30.
Q. Do those who seek their own salvation and well-being from saints, by their own efforts, or by other means really believe in the only Saviour Jesus?
A. No. Rather, by such actions they deny Jesus, the only Saviour and Redeemer, even though they boast of belonging to him. It therefore follows that either Jesus is not a perfect Saviour, or those who receive this Saviour with true faith must possess in him all that is necessary for their salvation.