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Learning To Number Our Days (via Michael Kelley)

Michael Kelley writes a four point reflection on the phrase from the Psalms ‘teach us to number our days.’
Why?

We naturally assume that there will always be tomorrow – that there will always be another chance for this or that. We become procrastinators in our arrogance, assuming that the limited number of days we have on this earth will never come to an end. Because we drift toward this kind of arrogance in which we are the charters of our own destiny, we need God’s help to have a true gauge of our own mortality.
This is the point James made in James 4, a chapter diagnosing the disease of pride, when he reminded us all that we should be careful about assuming on the time-table of our lives. Even in things like planning trips, meetings, and anything else, we would do well to remember that “you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:14).

Read the whole post at Forward Progress.


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What We Are

Disciples of Jesus are not subversives, we are not rebels, we are not anarchists; disciples of Jesus are light.

That is how we are the means by which God changes the world.


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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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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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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.