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The Church Is God’s Incubator For Making Disciples (via Stan Gale)

Stan Gale spent the days after his birth in an incubator. He received that life sustaining and growing support in isolation.
As a disciple of Jesus we are told that we need support for our life to be sustained and our growth supported. We need an incubator. But not in isolation.

The church is God’s incubator for making disciples. Through the means of grace made effective by the Holy Spirit, the church provides the light of God’s Word in an atmosphere oxygenated by prayer – the perfect environment for spiritual growth and development.
Unlike my time in a hospital incubator, the disciple is never released to be on his or her own. The need for Christ is constant and the church makes that apparent through celebration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, both of which sustain the disciple in this world and anticipate the world to come.
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If the church is an incubator for spiritual growth and development that means it is incumbent on those who lead to ensure that the church is functioning according to Christ’s design. The light of Christ must shine with clarity of God’s truth and warmth of His love. The atmosphere must be oxygenated with prayer in communion with God and dependence upon Him. Discipleship will not be reduced to mere information but transformation into maturity, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Read Gale’s whole post here.


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Long Term Expectation Produces Short Term Obediences (via Scott Hubbard)

The expectations of an impatient culture run counter to the reality that growth is a long term process.
But the conviction of that long-term expectation does not manifest itself in frustration, or in complacency and inactivity.
Rather the expectation that we are growing like Jesus produces the immediate regular actions that produce that fruit.

From Scott Hubbard at Desiring God.

The long view of sanctification, received rightly, refashions our perspective on today. On the one hand, we will adopt humble expectations of today’s progress. The farmer plowing his fields does not expect to harvest a crop by evening; nor does the cross-country traveler expect to reach his home. The rhythms of the seasons and the breadth of the country have chastened their expectations.
The Christian seeking God should likewise not grow unduly discouraged when today’s efforts fail to yield immediate fruit. Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, and fellowship are less like the crank of a lever and more like the sowing of a seed. We plant, we water, and then we keep our eyes on the harvest.
On the other hand, however, the long view reminds us that today’s small acts of obedience are of the utmost importance. The steps we take today may not take us all the way to glory — true. But we will never reach glory unless we keep stepping.

Read the whole post here.


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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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Living Between ‘Personal Power’ And ‘Presuming Providence’ (via Mike Emlet)

Mike Emlet encourages us to find the line that has trust in God’s providence on one side, and reliance on our effort and initiative on the other.

it’s easy to become imbalanced and to drift into either the “power mode” or the “presumption mode.” In the power mode, we take charge of our lives as though human responsibility were the only piece of the equation. Overplanning is common in this scenario. Here there is a functional absence of a sovereign God—we, of course, acknowledge God’s sovereignty, but practically speaking, it doesn’t affect our daily lives. On the other hand, there is a magnified emphasis on secondary causes. As a result of these imbalances, we may be tempted toward anxiety, fear, over-control, over-responsibility, perfectionism, and anger. Why? Because we think it’s all up to us.
In the presumption mode, we let go of our lives as though God’s sovereignty were the only piece of the equation. Little or no planning is common. Here there is a magnified emphasis on God’s sovereignty but a functional absence of secondary causes. As a result of these imbalances, we may be tempted toward laziness, passivity, stoicism, fatalism, and indecision. Why? Because we think it’s all up to God.
Scripture steers clear of either extreme. We are called to live neither by power nor by presumption. God’s Word provides an alternative: prudence. Prudence involves wise and prayerful planning. It is characterized by a robust view of God’s sovereignty and providence—He is responsible. Further, it retains a proper emphasis on secondary causes—I am responsible, too. We see this dual emphasis throughout the entire Bible. Time and time again, Scripture calls us to trust God’s providential care and to plan well and work hard in various spheres of life.

Read the whole article at Ligonier.


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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.


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Grumbling: Putting God In The Dock And Finding Him Guilty (via Tim Chester)

God’s people can be singing his praise and grumbling against him in a matter of days, hours, or minutes.
Tim Chester writes about how easily we can lose perspective and how quickly our hearts can harden:

It’s sometimes said that most Western societies are three days of empty shelves from civil disorder. We appear to live peacefully together—but if something went wrong with food supplies, then it would only take three days before rioting and looting broke out. That’s certainly how it was among the Israelites.
The Israelites have been rescued from Egyptian slavery in the most dramatic fashion. They have seen the hand of God parting the Red Sea and defeating the Egyptian army. They have sung, “The Lord is my strength and my defence … In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed” (v 2, 13). But all that was three days ago. Today they are hungry and they are grumbling.
When we think of it like this, the Israelites’ grumbling is ridiculous and inexcusable. But then think about your own life. Perhaps you sing of God’s unfailing love on a Sunday morning. But three days later — or maybe three hours later — you are grumbling. Think of all the things that God has done for you. Think of all he has promised to you. But think, too, how easily you lose a sense of perspective. Think how much better you are at seeing what you do not have than what you do have. All we see is bitter water. All we see is our problem or lack.

Read the rest at Core Christianity.


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There’s Always A ‘Next’ When You’re Following Jesus (via Michael Kelley)

The maturity of disciples of Jesus shows in a consciousness that expresses humility about of how far we have to go, not pride in how far we have come.
From Michael Kelley:

We are on this road – on this walk – not because of our achievement but because of God’s grace in the gospel. And we continue on this road – on this walk – not from a sense of achievement but empowered by that same gospel. That’s why there is always a “next” when it comes to following Christ.
When we first start following Jesus, the “next” might be that we need to attack some moral impurity. Then the “next” might be the easier-to-hide sins of greed and pride. Then the “next” becomes how to live like a Christian in marriage. Then the “next” is how to die to our own preferences and desires as we seek to raise and lead our children. Next, next, next all the way until the “next” is how to die like one who follows Jesus. There is always a “next.”
But the gospel transforms this ever-present “next” of following Jesus. See, our “next” is not to merit favor. It’s not that with each “next” we think, Perhaps now at last I will at last be good enough to warrant the love of God. No, the gospel transforms our “next” in that we are growing into what we have already become.

Read the whole post at Forward>>Progress.