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Seeing Love Through Different Lenses (via Heidi Tai at Gospel Coalition Australia)

There are times when I wonder why I scan through so many online articles.
Then I read one like this.
Heidi Tai writes about a loving across generations and cultural expectations.
And the difference that Jesus can make in bridging those gaps.
Just go and read it.
Maybe have a tissue or two around, as well.

Growing up, my dad and I saw the world very differently. Coming from two different generations and cultures, we would clash for many years to come. As I became a teenager, our relationship became a battleground between Eastern and Western values. He would fail to meet my expectations of a loving father, and I would fail to meet his expectations of a respectful daughter. While I longed for love to be expressed through the Western form of affection and affirmation, Dad expressed love through his Eastern lens of provision and sacrifice.

Read Closing The Cultural Gap at Gospel Coalition Australia.


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What A Local Church Really Needs (via Premier Christianity)

Churches can have all sorts of assumptions about what the people who visit or regularly attend them want, and then tailor themselves to meet that felt need. And then share the Gospel. Sort of a Jesus ‘bait and switch.’
This post doesn’t take issue with excellence, but makes a heartfelt observation about what is important.
From Kimberli Lira at Premier Christianity.

When I walk into church I am not paying attention to the décor. I don’t want to smell freshly brewed coffee in the lobby. I don’t want to see a trendy pastor on the platform. I don’t care about the graphics or the props on the platform. I am hurting in a way that is almost indescribable.
Since my husband died, my days are spent working full time. My nights are spent homeschooling and taking care of two young children. I don’t have shared duties with a spouse anymore so everything is on my plate. When I go to church I desperately want to hear the Word of God.
There are days when the tears won’t stop and a trendsetting church is not what I need.
This is not a criticism of churches that have coffee bars, nice lighting and catchy sermon titles. But, in everything that is done, we need to make sure that Jesus is at the centre. It is also a reminder that there are hurting people sitting in your congregation.
There are people whose marriages are crumbling, people whose finances are deteriorating, people whose children are rebelling and people like me, whose husband has passed away after a brutal fight with cancer. And these people are not impressed with the stage lighting. They could care less about the coffee flavour. They don’t need to be pumped or hyped. They need Jesus.
My social media feeds are full of churches boasting about the trendy new initiatives they have begun. Their coffee bars and lighting don’t appeal to me.
I want to see how Jesus has changed a person’s life. I want to see the power of prayer. I want to see how the Word of God can be applied to life. I want to see how Jesus can help the hurting. I want to see how Jesus can heal the sick. I want to see how a broken heart is restored. I want to see how mourners are comforted. I want to see how lives are restored.

Read the whole post here.


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The Royal Wedding Sermon

People have asked me from time to time what I thought of the sermon that was given during the recent royal wedding.
I have a few observations.
One train of evangelical thought is that the preacher gave an introduction to the Gospel, laying down a number of threads that could later be drawn together in a full Gospel understanding. Such a sermon is an exercise in restraint, not saying everything, but just saying enough to point the way. It is a technique that preachers committed to the Gospel sometimes use in public contexts.
My perception of the message is that a very skilled and committed communicator took the opportunity presented to him and actually gave the entirety of his gospel message. He didn’t hold anything back, and what he said is the sum total of what he believes the good news to be.

Jesus did not get an honorary doctorate for dying. He didn’t . . . he wasn’t getting anything out of it.
He gave up his life, he sacrificed his life, for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the wellbeing of the world . . . for us.
That’s what love is. Love is not selfish and self-centred. Love can be sacrificial and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives and it can change this world.

“Love can be sacrificial and in so doing, becomes redemptive”
Trying to be charitable by maintaining he chose not to say it all, instead of simply accepting that everything he did say was all he has to say, is a work of unnecessary condescension.

Now, if that is the case, my observation about the sermon is that it sort of reminded me of this message, wherein the preacher says much the same thing and takes considerably less time to say it.


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The Gospel Will Empower Its Own Implications (via Jared Wilson)

Jared Wilson writes about the mission response to Gospel preaching and teaching.
Christian ministry can’t be motivated by fear and guilt.

The good news about Jesus doesn’t just tell Christians how to respond, it is the power by which they respond.
Remember that the gospel will empower its own implications. So remind your church that they have all the wind of the Spirit at their backs, that God has always been roaming the earth seeking whom he may revive, that the kingdom is not contingent upon them but upon him, and that they are not responsible for evangelistic success, but evangelistic faithfulness.
The motivation of grace better triggers a church’s impulse for gospel mission.

Read the whole post here.


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Billy Graham In Sydney (via Philip Jensen)

There’s no shortage of Billy Graham reflection pieces since his death.

I watched Peter Jensen be interviewed on Dominic Steele’s The Pastor’s Heart webcast where he mentioned his response to the Graham Crusade of 1959 as a 15 year old, and that his 13 year old brother followed him forward.
Philip Jensen provides his perspective of being that 13 year old.
But it’s the human story of the impact of Graham’s ministry that remains.
From Jensen:

However, the main impact of the Graham crusades was felt at the grass roots of our society rather than in the public domain. Certainly, many who made a decision for Christ, later fell away – but the long-term impact in the lives of individuals, families and churches can still be found across Australia. Half the students training at Moore College to become Ministers during the 60’s were converted at the ‘59 crusade. Nearly all the youth group I lead were converted in the ‘68 crusade. The church I pastored doubled in size during 1979, largely as a result of the that year’s crusade. At university I met a girl who, as a young teenager, was converted in 1959 listening to Billy Graham on a landline in Broken Hill. That’s how my wife became a Christian.
Read the whole post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 7

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 7

20.
Q. Will all men, then, be saved through Christ as they became lost through Adam?
A. No. Only those who, by true faith, are incorporated into him and accept all his benefits.

21.
Q. What is true faith?
A. It is not only a certain knowledge by which I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in his Word, but also a wholehearted trust which the Holy Spirit creates in me through the gospel, that, not only to others, but to me also God has given the forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation, out of sheer grace solely for the sake of Christ’s saving work.

22.
Q. What, then, must a Christian believe?
A. All that is promised us in the gospel, a summary of which is taught us in the articles of the Apostles’ Creed, our universally acknowledge confession of faith.

Q. What are these articles?
A. I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth; And in Jesus Christ, his only-begotten Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty’ from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.


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Perfectionism Is Just Chronic Insecurity In Disguise (via Sam Kim)

Sam Kim writes about the social media fueled anxiety that seems to be eating away at younger generations.

Courtesy of Ed Stetzer’s blog:

In a culture based on shame and superficiality, the elephant in the room, which is the pressure to be amazing, is always staring directly at us.
If we truly want to win the hearts of the next generation with the gospel, we must help reclaim their identity as the beloved, because only perfect love can cast out fear.

Read the whole post here.