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Refreshing The Saints (via Gentle Reformation)

Kyle Borg poses a question based on reflection about Philemon verse 7: “For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (emphasis added).

What am I to my brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus? Do I refresh or weary them? Do I give rest or restlessness? Am I a comfort or an anxiety? Do I encourage confidence or are people walking on egg shells around me? Am I blessing to those I am bound to in the gospel or a burden? Are the hearts of the saints being refreshed through me?

Read more at Gentle Reformation.


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The Better Question Believers Should Ask about God’s Will (via Jen Wilkin)

Most of the time questions about seeking God’s will for our lives revolve around questions about what we should do.
Jen Wilkin suggests the more pressing question the Bible deals with has to do with God’s will for what we should be.
It’s not that “what should we do?” is wrong, but “what should we be?” is more enduring and closer to the heart of the work of the Gospel in us.
Wilkin explains the priority in this way:

What good is it for me to choose the right job if I’m still consumed with selfishness? What good is it for me to choose the right home or spouse if I’m still eaten up with covetousness? What does it profit me to make the right choice if I’m still the wrong person? A lost person can make “good choices.” But only a person indwelt by the Holy Spirit can make a good choice for the purpose of glorifying God.

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God’s Grace In Your Suffering

God’s Grace In Your Suffering is newly released from the reliable David Powlison.

It is a short read, with eight chapters representing daily reading material.


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There Is No Future In Frustration (via Don Carson)

Don Carson recalls a difficult conversation with a senior Christian in Sydney Australia.
Not difficult because of its content, but difficult because of the physical condition of the person to whom he was speaking.
The content of the conversation was saturated in glory.
An excerpt:

Here, then, is a philosophy of suffering, a perspective that ties it both to the salvation we now enjoy and to the consummation of that salvation when the glory of God is fully revealed. Like the discipline of physical training, suffering produces perseverance.
This is not a universal rule, for suffering can evoke muttering and unbelief. But when suffering is mingled with the faith of verses 1–2, and with delight in being reconciled to God, it then produces perseverance. The staying power of our faith is neither demonstrated nor developed until it is tested by suffering.
But as perseverance mushrooms, “character” is formed. The word character suggests “provedness,” the kind of maturity that is attained by being “proved” or “tested,” like a metal refined by fire. And as character or “provedness” is formed, hope blossoms: our anticipation of the glory of God (verse 2) is nurtured and strengthened.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


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Every Beauty And Every Tragedy Is An Invitation (via Winn Collier)

More musing from fictional pastor Jonas McAnn, as written by Winn Collier:

If the idea of providence means anything, then it must a least mean that our life consists of all manner of truths and experiences we would never imagine and could never orchestrate. The old mystics liked to say that “all is gift.” I still scratch my head over this idea, but I’m learning to trust that everything we encounter, ever beauty and every tragedy, invites us deeper into God, deeper into our truest selves.
In other words, to become more like God (more Christian, if it helps to say it that way) is in fact to become more human. Jesus showed us what it looks like to be God, but Jesus also showed us what it looks like to be truly human. We often flour our human bodies, our human urges and aspirations, our human frailties. But to be Christian is to become more and more human.
Winn Collier, Love Big Be Well, Eerdmans, 2017 pg 84.


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Give What You Didn’t Get (via Justin Buzzard)

Justin Buzzard writes about that which truly brings healing for those whose lives are marked by loss:

Give what you didn’t get.

What didn’t you get?

A safe childhood?
A best friend?
A loving father or mother?
Opportunity?
Justice?
Words of encouragement?
Healthy touch?
A place to belong?
A good education?
A healthy church?
Physical health?
Stability?
Someone to listen to you?
Someone to mentor you?
Someone to grieve with you?
Someone to challenge you?
Exposure to diverse people, places, and cultures?
A good coach?
An example of a healthy marriage or healthy friendships?
A healthy work/life balance?
Wise and generous stewardship of money and resources?
A sense of purpose?
Adventure?
A place to call home?
Truth?
Grace?
Give what you didn’t get. Often it’s this place of not-getting—this tender territory of wounding, lack, loss, longing, weakness, and unfamiliarity—that can become your place of strongest character, greatest giftedness, highest contribution to others, and largest joy. This follows God’s counterintuitive J Curve, that our place of pain can become our place of giving and gain.

Quit waiting to get what you didn’t get. Quit stewing in bitterness over what you didn’t get. Quit holding yourself victim to what you didn’t get. Instead, realize that what you don’t have can become your greatest investment. Know that God is with you in your didn’t-get-ness, and his presence and power can transform this lack into a unique overflow of care that you lavish on others.

You can start right now, right where you are. See that person in front of you? Give them what you didn’t get. And watch how God’s supernatural mathematics show up, creating gains you couldn’t have imagined.

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A Fearful Symmetry

It was Queensland’s victory in the 2011-2012 Sheffield Shield season that was instrumental in Darren Lehmann cement the coaching credentials that saw him assume the role of coach of the national team when Mickey Arthur fell foul of something of a player’s revolt.

Now with Queensland’s victory in the 2017-2018 Sheffield Shield Lehmann’s tenure looks terminal, and the player’s culture that brought him into the job has expressed its full flower with poisonous results.

The question remains about whether the answer to the cultural problem will be seen in a repudiation of the notion of identifying a line in order to justify yourself by never having crossed it, or the cultivation of a sense that if there’s a line what is needed is to be as far away from it as possible.

Oddly enough in a culture that really wants to embrace the ‘I didn’t cross the line’ self-justification, the greatest crime is being caught on the wrong side of it and showing up the toxic impact of that lie.

That’s why the response to these actions has expressed more outrage than empathy. Yet the nature of the crime is so banal, so inept and doomed to failure that it invites pity rather than anger. What frame of mind thought they would get away with it, what frame of mind thought that consequences would be slight?

If your self-image is formed teetering on the edge of a line, what happens when you lose sight of where the line should be?

I know in my heart that the temptation is strong to wilfully cross lines, let alone inadvertently wander over them. Truth be told I’m a natural denizen of the other side and pretending by my identifying the line that I’m not over it.

What I need is a grace that finds me on the false side of the line and renews and restores me to the true side. A grace that rather than reinforcing my line encroaching, recreates me into someone who hates the line, and not just the crossing of it. A grace that grows me love all the space on the best side of the line rather than the false promises of the other side.

A grace that helps me know that it’s not a line that I’m talking about but a relationship with my creator, who subdues my rebellion through the death and resurrection of his son, and brings me into his family.

I always need that grace, and in Jesus, God gives it abundantly and eternally.