mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

Domestic Violence Doesn’t Make Sense, Because It Is Not Love (via Sarah Balogh at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Sarah Balogh reflects on the evil that befell Hannah Clarke and her children in Brisbane last week from a personal and professional standpoint.
When the question revolves around variations of what went wrong for someone to perpetrate such an act we find ourselves trying to make sense of of something that cannot be made sense of.
Whenever we think of such acts as love gone wrong we neglect the reality that love was never present, however the relationship looked, or whatever the perpetrator expressed about their victims.
Perhaps we recognise some warped expression of love for self, because that’s all the relationship was ever meant to serve. But even then it is a desire that is ultimately self-destructive.
It is the opposite of the love that is at the heart of the Christian Gospel, and makes all the more wretched any compulsion exercised by Christians for victims of domestic violence to continue to expose themselves to perpetrators.

An excerpt:

As a psychologist, I am familiar with stories of domestic violence. I know how victims (especially women) struggle against the manipulation of their abusers. I’ve heard them try and make themselves responsible for the abuse of others: “It was my fault … If only I hadn’t said … But he said sorry.” The stories are so familiar. And yet … always so painful.
Sometimes it stirs a fury in me and I want justice.
Sometimes after they leave the counselling room, I cry.
Often, I pray “come Lord Jesus.”

Domestic violence doesn’t make sense to us.
It doesn’t make sense when someone says they love you, but seeks to control you or your family or your friends. It doesn’t make sense when someone who promised to care for you tries to put you down or call you names—or, worse, tries to pit your children against you. It makes no sense when that someone hits you, and then says sorry … and does the same thing again next week, or next month, or next year.
We can’t make sense of it because it doesn’t and shouldn’t make any sense at all.
Domestic violence doesn’t make sense, because it is not love.

A loving husband treats his wife like a queen, not like a slave. A loving husband lays down his life for his wife—the same way Jesus laid down his life for his church.

source


Leave a comment

Maturing Our Prayer Lives Praying With Other Christians (via Renee Tan at Gospel Coalition Australia)

Wednesdays I meet with local pastors to pray in the morning, and folk from MGPC to pray in the evening.
Apart from Sundays my week revolves around these two gatherings.
At Gospel Coalition Australia Renee Tan writes about the ways that corporate prayer deepens, focuses and develops our prayer lives.
An excerpt:

As we articulate our prayer needs, we are faced with the desires of our heart. After all, the mouth speaks what the heart is full of (Luke 6:45). Do our thanksgiving prayers reflect a self-centeredness or a Christ-centeredness? Do our prayer requests reflect kingdom priorities? Maybe in Sunday school we used to pray for (nothing greater than) a good day at school or for the rain to stop ruining our soccer games. But are we still praying such limited prayers years later?
When we journey with other Christians, rub shoulders and huddle together in prayer, we will see growth in ourselves and each other. We will learn to pray for needs deeper than our material ones. We will prayers that sound like they come from the early church; prayers that beg God to teach us how to forgive our enemies; prayers for joy amidst tribulations; prayers for a faith that remains steadfast until Jesus comes again.

Read the whole post.


Leave a comment

Preaching – Unique Proclamation (via Adam Ch’ng at Gospel Coalition Australia)

The words ‘sermon’ and ‘preaching’ fall out of use in some churches for a variety of reasons, both social and theological.
None of the replacement words or phrases really embrace the fulness of God imparting his grace to his people that is the act of a sermon being preached.
Whatever it’s called, as long as that is what is understood is happening.

Adam Ch’ng, at Gospel Coalition Australia, writes that –
Preaching is more than “sharing the Word”
Preaching is more than “explaining the Bible”
Preaching is more than “giving a Bible talk”

And concludes by writing

How then should we introduce the sermon?
We might unashamedly describe the sermon as “gospel proclamation” and call our churches to repent and believe. We might pray for our church to be not just informed but transformed by the Word. We might even ask our churches to “prepare to hear God speak”.
Whatever we might say, we must not diminish the supernatural significance of the preached word. Instead, we must lift our churches’ expectations of this sacred event. We need to aim higher.
For when we preach the Word with faithfulness, clarity and conviction, we are declaring Jesus’ victory over sin and death. We are transforming hearts, saving sinners and sanctifying the church. And we are acting as the mouthpiece of God who in that very moment is speaking light into the darkness.

Read the whole article at Gospel Coalition Australia.


Leave a comment

On The Different Response Of The Church To The Challenges Of Nominalism And Secularism (via Rory Shiner at The Gospel Coalition Australia)

A thoughtful piece by Rory Shiner about the differences between nominalism and secularism and how the worshipping church responds differently to each.
The observation that nominalism (people who identify as Christian without meaningfully following Jesus, while following a form of traditional church observance) and secularism (people who don’t identify as Christian or followers of Jesus, while having no knowledge of the Gospel or the actions of the church) are quite different and require nuanced expressions of church life and behaviour to help people understand the Gospel and where they are in relation to Jesus +gasp+ is helpful in thinking about church corporate practice.

Part of Shiner’s article:

The post-war generation was fighting a crucial battle. They saw the threat nominalism posed to the gospel.
But today, it would not occur to the average younger Christian that reciting the Lord’s Prayer might be inauthentic, precisely because no one they know outside the church knows the Lord’s Prayer at all. Going to church in a building that looks like a church doesn’t illicit a PTSD response in the under-40s. They find it at least neutral, maybe even attractive. They are not shadow boxing with nominalism. In fact, they’ve often never met a person who is nominal. By the time you’ve bothered to say you’re a Christian in this culture, chances are you are serious about being on Team Jesus.
Currently, the great threat to the gospel is not nominalism, but secularism.
The fact that the wider culture is in some ways interested in Christian practices is fascinating. It’s a vote against the listlessness, the disorder, the aimlessness, and the sheer loneliness of secularism.
In 1950s Australia, Christianity gave our culture a rhythm of work and rest. We had a universally observed Sunday, an expectation of shared family meals, and a deep sense of connection with the local neighbourhood or parish. Now we live in a world of 24-hour shopping. Sunday looks suspiciously like Every Other Day. Secular life is disordered life. You can be watching cat videos at 2pm on a Monday in your office, and replying work emails from the bath at 10pm on a Saturday.
Productivity literature is now full of advice that sounds suspiciously Sabbatarian. Young urbanities choose walkable neighbourhoods. They want to know their locality, buy from the same shop, know the name of the grocer, and so on. My grandma would find it all strangely familiar.
Or consider the rise of atheist churches in London. Young, secular Londoners gathering in churches to sing bad John Lennon songs and share fellowship. They have turned on its head our assumption that people like Jesus, they just don’t like the church. It would seem the other way around. They like church, they just don’t like Jesus.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


Leave a comment

Killing The Many Sins Of Ministry (via Peter Adam)

Peter Adam points out that being in pastoral ministry is not being in an environment that automatically promotes growth in Godliness and firewalls the pastor from sin.
The opposite is true.
Pastoral ministry provides a rich environment of stumbling blocks through which temptation yield the fruit of besetting sin.
Pastors can learn and those who pray for pastors can be informed of the spiritual warfare your prayers sustain your pastor through:
From Adam’s article:

People sometimes say to me, ‘it must be wonderful to do Christian ministry as your job, because it must keep you free of sin.’
I reply, ‘actually, it increases temptation and opportunity for sin, and opens up many more possible sins to commit. It also increases responsibility not to sin, because we who teach will be judged with greater strictness’ (James 3:1)!
If you found that unconvincing, you might like to think on the fact that many of our strengths and gifts carry with them potential sins.

Read the whole post at Gospel Coalition Australia.


Leave a comment

On The Difference Between Ministry Training And Pastoral Ministry (via Rory Shiner)

Rory Shiner writes a perceptive article about an aspect of ministry that I hadn’t considered, but which makes sense.
He poses the idea that the types of activity and attitudes which are great preparation for pastoral ministry differ from the activity and attitudes that usually constitute pastoral ministry.
The experience of that difference is not because something is wrong, but because both are distinct, yet beneficial, aspects of activity.
From Shiner:

Let me explain. In a program like the (fabulous) Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) you spend two years working in a live ministry context, learning the ropes of gospel work. If it’s done right, this will involve huge amounts of time reading the Bible with both Christians and non-Christians. It will mean organising talks. And camps. And conferences. It will mean running teams; overseeing evangelistic events; fielding ministry-related administration; preparing talk, Bible studies and seminars. By the end you’ll have read through Colossians with more people that you can remember. You’ll have talked to umpteen guys about their struggle with internet porn. You’ll have experienced the joys and frustrations of working with volunteer teams. You’ll have talked patiently through the problem of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility so many times you could do it in your sleep.
Then you become a ministry leader.
Now, your timetable looks very different. You start to have more governance meetings. You are involved in less acute and more chronic pastoral situations. Less “I’ve just broken up with my boyfriend and it hurts like mad”, and more “we’ve been working on our marriage for ten years and it just won’t fix” kind of stuff. You need more time to prepare teaching. You need to read deeply and widely. Many of your meetings are with senior leaders. Indeed, you find yourself at either end of the bell-curve, meeting either with very gifted and strong leaders, or with people facing complex and intractable problems on the other side. You don’t get much time in the middle. You feel like you are “away from the coal-face” of ministry.
That’s the observation. Here’s the application: I think that shape is basically right in both cases. We should embrace it, not fight it.

Read the rest at Gospel Coalition Australia.


Leave a comment

The Coming King And The Dead Man Riding (via Simon Camilleri)

A matter of perspective: the crowd thought they saw a king coming in triumph, when what they saw a a king coming in sacrifice; and yet in the sacrifice was the triumph they needed.
Which is helpful to remember as we prepare for Easter – Jesus is the Saviour we need, not the one our desires demand.
From Simon Camilleri at Gospel Coalition Australia.

…the crowds were right! They were right to praise Jesus as king – for that is who he is. They were right to say “Hosanna!” which means “Lord, save us” – for that is what he came to do. They were right to expect that he had come to Jerusalem to establish God’s kingdom and reconcile people to God. They were simply wrong in how they expected he would do it.
The story finishes with the disciples being confused: “His disciples did not understand these things at first.” And I don’t blame them. Jesus was the king, but he came to Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus was supposed to be the Messiah, but he talked about dying. How did it all fit together?
Well, it then tells us: “but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.” It’s only after Jesus was glorified in his death and resurrection (John 12:23 & 17:1) that the disciples remembered the Old Testament prophecies like the one from Zechariah and saw how the puzzle pieces all fit together.
Fortunately, we live in the time after Jesus has been glorified. And every Easter we can remember the great work on the cross he did to die for sinners like you and me.

source