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Where God Will Lead His People This Week (via Scotty Smith)

Scotty Smith offers a prayer about where God leads His people.
Not where we’d go by our own decision, but it’s where we need to go.
It’s written for a Monday, but as the week flows along you can see how the prayer is being answered.

Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:4

Heavenly Father, on this June Monday, we are so grateful for the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience. You have enriched us beyond all measure in Jesus.
All of these good gifts converge in this one verse from Romans. The most certifiably insane thing we do is to “show contempt” for these treasures. After all, this wonderful triad of graces will only take us to the address called freedom on the path called repentance.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit will never direct us to self-contempt or condemnation, but only to a place of greater liberty and Christlikeness. Because of Jesus’ finished work, your ongoing work in our lives — even when it hurts, is so good.
When we resist the convicting work of the Spirit and refuse to humble ourselves, we’re worse than silly. We’re toxically foolish. You give grace to the humble and resist the proud. Who in their right mind would ever want your resistance? We want grace, Father, as much as you will give us.
Thank you for leading us to humility, not humiliation; to shelter, not shame; to repentance, not penance. Thank you for teaching us that repentance is collapsing on Jesus as our righteousness, not making vain promises we can’t and won’t keep.
So kind Father, fill our week with the beauty of Jesus and quick repentances. As your kindness leads us to repentance, may it also lead us to loving others as Jesus loves us. Give us more joy in walking with you this week than being admired, appreciated, and applauded by our peers. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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Preaching Unsuccess (via Chad Bird)

The church will gather together tomorrow to hear the news of the unsuccessful life.

From Upside-Down Spirituality:

Christianity has a God who knows that if the church runs the way of success, we’ll eventually tumble headfirst into the grave of irrelevance. That’s where the quest for success leads us – into a kind of death, into a toothless message of empty platitudes with a mirage of hope at the end.
Our churches, in fact, preach a kind of unsuccess. We succeed at nothing to which the world aspires. Power? No, we boast in weakness. Fame? No, we revel in anonymity. Beauty? No, our God hung on an ugly cross. Winning? No, we confess that the first are actually last. Riches? No, for the love of them is the root of all kinds of evil. the church is a place for losers. for those who hands have been emptied, so that – as we sing – “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 189.


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The Ache Is Not A Desire To Escape, It’s Homesickness (via Rebecca K Reynolds)

Rebecca K Reynolds explains the the desire to be with Christ is not something for which the disciple needs to feel guilty as if its an avoidance of the realities of life, rather the desire to be with Christ is a natural feeling to experience more of the belonging which union with Jesus brings to our lives:

Paul’s use of the words with Christ clued me in to something big. His ache was relational, not just geographic. He didn’t simply want to get to heaven; he wanted to get further up and further in to community with Jesus. Before catching that, I’d always felt sort of guilty for wanting to escape my earthly life to be closer to the Lord—after all, the Holy Spirit lived inside me. Why couldn’t I just be content with what I had already been given? Yet, Paul understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit better than you or I ever will, and he still longed to experience divine fellowship in a way that was more intimate than anything he could encounter on earth. His story helps me rejoice in all things while admitting the cramp in my side. It gives me permission to live a little homesick.

Rebecca K Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, NavPress, 2018, pg 8.


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The First Time Something Wasn’t Good And The Christianisation Of The Me Generation (via Chad Bird)

Chad Bird likens the action of the church in greeting the me generation with an emphasis on an individualistic experience of salvation to attempting to douse a fire with petrol.
His comments below are well balanced in that they do not make the fulfilment of Adam and Eve out to be marriage, as if any human that is not married has a less that complete life. What they do recognise is that the fulness of humanity cannot be expressed or experienced without relating to other humans.

From Upside-Down Spirituality:

The very first time God said something was “not good” was when someone was alone. The earth was good. The heavens were good. The animals and seas and mountains were good. But Adam, all on his lonesome, without another human being, without someone to complement him, live with him, and be his family, his helper, his own flesh and blood – that was not good at all. A private Adam who had a personal relationship with his Creator was simply not going to cut it. He may have been a glorious, regal, beautiful human being, but he was still not independent. Therefore God gave him Eve, built from his own body. He belonged to her and she to him. The depended on each other, leaned on each other, found fulfilment in each other.
Humanity was not truly complete until singular had expanded into plural, until I had become We.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 168-169.


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Love Is Not Something We Fall Into, It Is A Rough And Rocky Hill Two People Commit To Climb Together (via Chad Bird)

Marriage, contrary to popular thought is not a dream within a dream.
It is a mutual commitment by two people to live as one for the the duration of their lives.
And if it was easy, why would we need promises to hold ourselves to it?

From Chad Bird:

That’s why love is not something we fall into; it’s a rough and rocky hill we commit ourselves to climb. Or, to change the metaphor, love is a story we decide to write together with another person. There will be paragraphs penned in the calligraphy of pure ecstasy, but there will also be chapters scribbled in pain. The thing is, we don’t know what form or direction the narrative will take. The final chapter is not written until it’s lived. What we’re devoting ourselves to is not a fairy tale, not a thriller, not a bestseller, but a simple story of sacrifice for someone else. We for them and (hopefully) they for us. But because it is the account of two sinners sharing the same bed, bank account, and bathroom counter, the narrative will become terribly messy and convoluted at times. There will be entire sections we wish we could blot out. Heated and vitriolic dialogues that embarrass us. And, along the way, plenty of happy surprises as well. We’ll discover places in our hearts, and in the hearts of our beloved, that we didn’t even know existed. That’s the way stories unfold. Unpredictable. Boring. Beautiful. Ugly. Riveting. We’ll find all of this and more when we commit to writing a story with another person to whom we say, “I love you.”

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 128-129.


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Everywhere We Look In The Church We See Priests (via Chad Bird)

The effort to recover the priesthood of all believers can’t be an effort to impose a pastorhood of all believers. Something is lost if everyone is pressganged into some form of pastoral function. More is lost if everyone doesn’t understand that whatever it is they are doing is their expression of the priestly function we’re all called to in Christ.

From Chad Bird:

Peter says to the whole church: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Pet. 2:9). The apostle is borrowing and expanding ancient language from Exodus where God says that Israel is a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:6). We’re accustomed to thinking of priests as a select group within the people of God. Priests, we assume, were the sons of Aaron in the Old Testament and are members of the ministry in some denominations today. The professional religious people. But just as we wrongly equate vocation with a job, so we wrongly equate priesthood with the pastoral ministry. Both are much broader and deeper categories.
Everywhere we look in the church we see priests. Those noisy energetic VBS students colouring a scene from Noah’s ark – they are priests. The elderly gentleman who uses a walker to shuffle to his favorite pew – he’s a priest. The youth group, the choir, the ushers, and the pastors are all included. Our ordination into the priesthood happened on the day we were baptized into our great high priest, Jesus. We became part of the “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” We entered the sacred vocation that fundamentally changes the rest of our lives, that touches every aspect of who we are and what we do, every day of the year. It is this “every aspect” that deserves our attention.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 114-115.


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Being Parents Who Are Failures At Perfectionism (via Chad Bird)

Contemporary parenting undertakes the burden of providing a perfect life experience for children. It is an expression control on the part of the parent, taking the role of a God in the life of their child. And the more micro-controlled that the upbringing of children is becoming is being accompanied by an increase in anxiety among them.

From Chad Bird:

God knows that if there’s anything our world needs, it’s certainly not more superparents. We need plain old boring moms and dads. The kind who are more concerned with modelling humble, loving service to their children than hot-housing them into superbabies who out-SAT and out-GPA their classmates. The kind of parents who are more concerned with teaching their children “the joy of tasting tomatoes, apples and pears,” as William Martin writes, than the thrill of guzzling the intoxicating liquor of success. The kind of parents who are utter failures at perfectionism, at being heroes and heroines, at maintaining complete control of their child’s upbringing — in short, who fail at being a god — in order that the grace of God might succeed in our lives as moms and dads as well as in the lives of our children.
Most of all, we need the kind of parents who see their primary identity not as parents but as children. Before I am a father, I am a son of God. Before my wife is a mother, she is a daughter of God. Before we are anything else — parent, spouse, worker, citizen — we are children of our heavenly Father.

Chad Bird, Upside-Down Spirituality: The Nine Essential Failures Of A Faithful Life, Baker, 2019, pgs 94-95.