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Why Did Jesus Make So Much Wine? (via Erik Raymond)

If you’re preparing to gather for corporate worship tomorrow there’s encouragement in Erik Raymond’s answer to his rhetorical question about why Jesus turned so much water into wine at the wedding at Cana.

Jesus made so much wine to show the long-promised age has arrived and the blessings that accompany his kingdom are overflowing.
Gathering week by week may be like a taste, but there’s so much to partake of.
Read the whole post here.

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Comfort Is A Deadly Compass (via Erik Raymond)

When working through life decisions or navigating through challenging relationships or seasons of life it’s inviting to arrive at answers that are based on our preferences, what makes us comfortable, or what we feel we want, instead of being directed by God’s Word.

Erik Raymond observes there’s a significant issue with using what makes you comfortable as a guide for decision making.
What makes you comfortable can be wrong.

We tend to go with our reflex. And for many, this reflex is for personal comfort. When given choices we often tend towards that which is going to be the most comfortable and most personally rewarding. But what if our compass is defective? What if the right sense of direction would tell us to do the hard thing that requires humility? I believe that personal comfort is a deadly compass.

Raymond illustrates the point in the rest of his post here.

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The Long Game (via Erik Raymond)

Erik Raymond provides perspective on the up and down experiences of pastoral life.
It’s easy to slip into regrets about the past or apprehensions about the future.
It’s also easy to feel overwhelmed in the present.
Raymond’s counsel is realistic and grounded.

Play the long game and keep your chin up. Have the pastoral job description at hand and remind yourself of it. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and focusing primarily on what we are called to do, then we can be safeguarded against pride in seasons of prosperity and despair during the difficult times. This will certainly free us up to rejoice in God’s sovereignty to make a people for himself—even by means of such unlikely materials.

Read the whole post here.

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The Perfect Part Of Worship (via Erik Raymond)

As part of worship tomorrow at MGPC the Bible will be read (and sung).
However we may feel that the expression of the other elements can be focussed and improved, that one part is perfect.

From Erik Raymond:

But here’s the truth: no matter how many times you practice the song, how well you angle the lights, or build your props, you will never get it perfect. The truth is, everything we touch is smudged with sin. No matter how hard we try we can’t produce a perfect worship service.
But don’t check out in hopelessness on me. There is a way to have at least a portion of your service be perfect. The answer may come from a surprising source. The only perfect part of the Sunday service is when the Bible is read. When we open up the Scriptures and read the Word of God we are ensuring that perfection is on display. After all, the Bible is the perfect Word of God.

The article also includes suggestions about how to better include Scripture in worship.
There are explanatory sections for each of these points at the article:

Frame the entire service around the Word.
Introduce different genres of Scripture.
Don’t be afraid to read lengthy sections of Scripture.
Read the Bible before preaching.
Provide explanation before reading.
Train those reading Scripture to read it well.
Utilize responsive reading.

Read the whole post at the Gospel Coalition.

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From Complaint To Contentment (via Erik Raymond)

Erik Raymond writes about how pastors (and others) can go from complaint to contentment without your circumstances actually changing:

From the post.

Our Temptation
We are often tempted to find contentment in our circumstances: If things were only going better, then I would be happy. I’d be content if the church was growing, people were getting baptized, and my ministry was affirmed.
But this is a faulty way to think about contentment. As pastors we should know better, but we easily forget it. The Bible tells us to be content (Heb. 13:5). Is there any indication in the Scriptures that we needn’t be content if our circumstances are difficult? Of course not. While we may be tempted to remedy our grumbling with a new set of circumstances, we must remember that this is far short of the biblical solution. God wants us to be content even amid our toiling in the hard patches.

Our Model
Let’s remember the Lord Jesus himself. He was the most content man who ever lived; and yet, he was mistreated at every turn. His circumstances, if we are honest, were quite difficult every single day. Then we remember the Apostle Paul. Here is a guy who was publicly stripped, beaten with rods by a mob, and then thrown in prison. Later that night, while in prison, he leads a hymn sing and prayer meeting! (Acts 16:22–25) We would all agree that these are really bad circumstances, yet Paul (and Silas) seems to be content. Does this challenge you a bit when you think about your ministry?

Our Solution
How do we go from complaining to contentment? The Apostle helps us further:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11–13)
Paul shows us here that contentment, rather than being tied to our circumstances, actually transcends them. If he is in a season of abundance, he is content. If he is in a slim season, he remains content. How can he say this? Notice the source of his contentment: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Paul is content in the midst of changing and admittedly difficult circumstances because he is content in a God who is unchanging and eternally glorious.
This is particularly helpful when tempted to ministerial pride or coveting. If things are going well for us or for others we should rejoice in God being made much of. Contentment in God reveals itself by rejoicing in the expansion of his fame—whether in our church or the church across town.

Read the whole post here.