mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

God Moves In A Mysterious Way – The Legacy Hymn Of William Cowper

Scott Hubbard writes about William Cowper, who on New Year’s Day 1773 was about to slip into a depression that would remain for the rest of his life.
Anticipating that descending darkness Cowper wrote the hymn God Moves In A Mysterious Way.
From Hubbard’s article:

… before night fell on Cowper’s soul, he sat in the light of his remaining sanity, took up his pen, and wrote a hymn that has strengthened generations of staggering saints through their various shadows.
Take Courage
Cowper’s hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” is a song for every saint who sits on the edge. It is a guide for all who do not see fresh hopes rising over the horizon of the new year. It is a confession of faith in the face of darkness — one that flickers with enough light to carry us through whatever midnights this year brings.
At the heart of the hymn is a simple exhortation: “Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take.” Take courage. Take courage when the clouds come thundering toward you. Take courage when the coming days seem covered in shadow. Take courage when you cannot understand God’s ways.
But why, we ask in the valley, should we take courage? Throughout the rest of the hymn, Cowper gives his reasons.

Read the rest of the post at Desiring God.

Here’s Nathan Tasker’s rendition of the hymn.
I wanted a version that has the lyrics to the forefront.


Leave a comment

Healthy Pastors Are Peacemakers At Heart, Not Pugilists (via David Mathis at Desiring God)

There’s a difference between a peacemaker and a conflict avoider.
David Mathis writes about How Do Pastors Pick Their Fights? and makes some points about the character of pastors, which is meant to be a model for the character of Christians.

Healthy pastors are peacemakers at heart, not pugilists. They don’t fight for sport; they fight to protect and promote peace. They know first and foremost — as a divine representative to their people — that our God is “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33); our message, “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15); our Lord Jesus himself made peace (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 1:20) and “is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14), preaching “peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near” (Ephesians 2:17).
And making peace is not unique to Christian leaders. Rather, we insist on it in our leaders so that they model and encourage peacemaking for the whole church. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said our Lord, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). “Let us pursue what makes for peace” (Romans 14:19). “Strive for peace with everyone” (Hebrews 12:14). “If possible, so far as it depends on you” — all of you who are members of the body of Christ — “live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).
This kind of peacemaking not only means leading our flocks in preserving and enjoying peace, but also in making peace that requires confrontation. Some controversies cannot be avoided — and we engage not because we simply want to fight (or win), but because we want to win those being deceived. God means for leaders in his church to have the kind of spiritual magnanimity to rise above the allure of petty disputes, and to press valiantly for peace and Christ-exalting harmony in the places angels might fear to tread.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


Leave a comment

We Attend Church Not Primarily As Consumers To Experience A Product, But As Worshippers To Exalt God And Edify His People (via Matt Merker)

In an age and a culture that expects polish and encourages perfectionism, the tendency to import these values into worship is at best seen as a ‘bait and switch’ tactic of appealing to the non-Christian’s expectations in order to introduce them to Jesus.
There is a legitimate aim in that desire.
But unrelenting exposure to that culture must shape and form the values and expectations of Christians eventually.
If the medium is the message, what does ‘professional’ standard worship in a darkened room shape.
From Matt Merker:

We live in an age of production. We’ve learned to value and expect polished professionalism from the various interactions that make up our daily lives, from the television shows we watch to our “customer experience” at the local Starbucks.
I call these expectations “consumer intuitions.” They’re not necessarily bad or wrong. But we must beware lest we let these intuitions dictate how we approach church gatherings. We attend church not primarily as consumers to experience a product, but as worshipers to exalt God and edify his people.
+++
Of course, I’m not saying that we should aim for mediocrity in our church services, or that pastors should encourage members to serve in areas in which they’re obviously not gifted. My point is not for us to pursue clumsiness, but merely to embrace it when it occurs.
And I’m not against “excellence” per se. It simply depends on what we mean by excellence. Yes, it honors God to serve him with our whole heart. Doing all things for his glory (1 Corinthians 10:31) means stewarding our God-given gifts as well as we can. It means resisting sloppiness. Church musicians would do well to emulate the Levitical singers who were renowned for being “skillful” (1 Chronicles 25:7).
Pursuing excellence in serving, facilitating, and accompanying the worship of God’s people is one thing. But if by “excellence” we mean professional-level production quality, I fear it reveals that our consumer intuitions have snuck into our churches.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.


Leave a comment

Growing New Instead Of Growing Old (via Abigail Dodds at Gospel Coalition)

Abigail Dodds writes an article that directly addresses women, but speaks to the experience of every Christian.
She contends that increasing age should represent a growth in more that the number of candles on our birthday cakes.

Now, instead of growing old, we are growing new. The mature Christian woman is the one who has been new for a long time. The mature Christian woman is the one who’s been with Christ long enough to have the unbelief of adulthood reworked into childlike faith. The mature Christian woman is the one who, though outwardly wasting away, is getting newer every single day (2 Cor. 4:16).
Yet how can a mind that’s growing old and forgetful also grow new? We all use our minds on something; perhaps not through relinquishing brain cells via childbirth, but in some form or another, our minds are spent. I have given my mind to storing information like: the location of the stray sock belonging to the 11-year-old, what chapter the 8-year-old needs to finish for history this week, when early bird registration ends for my oldest kids’ youth retreat, who needs new snow boots this year, what meetings my husband has this week. And even more importantly: what area of discipleship needs attention in each child, what godly habits could use further cultivating, what opportunities were missed last week for building up, connection, and growing together. All the data and information at times seem to crowd out coherence! What am I but a jumble of seemingly random, but repetitive, facts and concerns?
But this is a fertile place for newness to grow—in a mind and heart stuffed with the details and rhythms of life, worn out in the work God has entrusted. Our minds aren’t compromised by being used up; they’re replenished with something better than sharpness or quick-wits or brilliance. They’re replenished with a dependent wisdom that only Christ can supply, so that over the course of our lives—as we give away our brain space for the sake of those around us—we gain a mind that holds more than ours ever could have. We gain the mind of Christ, filled with humility, trust, and faith.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition.


Leave a comment

Enjoying God Together (via David Mathis at Desiring God)

Being part of God’s family is belonging to God. Together.
From David Mathis at Desiring God.

In corporate worship, we gather together expectantly, reminding ourselves that God is our giving Father. This is who he is. This is what he loves. God delights in cheerful givers because he himself is one. This is what he produces in the hearts of his people. Not dutiful, reluctant, obligatory worship, but willing, eager, cheerful praise. The kind of worship that comes to him as a rewarder, not a killjoy. As a treasure, not a troll. As the great satisfier of our souls, not as a slavemaster conscripting our service.
How might it change corporate worship for you to scan the room and think, “These men and women around me, of all ages, not only believe in the truth of Christianity but they enjoy the God of Christianity”?
As we sing, we are enjoying Jesus together. As we pray, we are enjoying him together. As we hear his word read and preached, we are uniting our hearts together in the God who himself, in the person of his Son, became one of us, and lived among us, and suffered with us, and died for us, and rose triumphantly from the grave, and now sits in power — with all authority in heaven and on earth — at his Father’s right hand bringing to pass, in his perfect patience and perfect timing, all his purposes in our world. For our everlasting joy. Together.

Read the whole post here.


Leave a comment

Ten Bible Passages For Severe Illness (via Kathryn Butler)

This article by Kathryn Butler at Desiring God features ten Bible verses/passages that speak of the presence of God’s love to those who are suffering.
It is helpful in encouraging Christians to remember these verses for their own encouragement, and also, of course, to share with others.
It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a helpful start.
Five are from Psalms and five are from the New Testament.

PSALM 46:1–3
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
2 CORINTHIANS 4:16–18
“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Read the whole article here.


Leave a comment

How To Discourage A Grieving Friend (via Vaneetha Rendall Risner at Desiring God)

The more articles read about supporting those in grief the better.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner has given and received unhelpful support in grief and compiles some helpful observations about patterns to avoid and to follow:

What’s the best way to discourage a grieving friend? I can tell you what I’ve done.
I’ve asked numerous questions, trying to fully assess the situation. I’ve mentioned others who are going through similar trials, extolling their bravery and faithfulness. I’ve freely doled out advice, even mini-sermons, to my friends about how their painful situations will turn out for the best.
I wasn’t trying to be discouraging. I was trying to help. Surprisingly, my advice didn’t help at all. My words just added to their pain.
I know, because I’ve been on the receiving end of that kind of “help” as well.

Read the whole post at Desiring God.