mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

Guilt Based Deterrents Should Not Become Substitutes For The Self-Examination That Brings Growth In Grace (via Winn Collier)

The Gospels contrast the disciples of Jesus who were not consistently clear about what they wanted with those at the margins (like blind Bartimaeus) who were completely focussed on their need.
Jesus keeps asking a question (actually or implied) of those he encounters to help them understand that their present desire was masking their need or was leading them away from understanding their need of God.

From Winn Collier.

accountability is a Christian buzzword. Designed to aid spiritual formation, the (good) intention is to walk and struggle and live honestly with a spiritual friend who know s our foibles and our mess and loves us toward Jesus anyway. However accountability often devolves into a spiritual lashing, when we attempt to manage our behaviour by the sheer terror of having to ‘fess up. Numerous lists of questions have been designed to serve the accountability process, but they usually tread shallow water, only uncovering external scandalous behaviours: Have I looked at porn this week? Have I used my money wisely? Have I given emotional intimacy with someone other than my husband? However, I have never – not once – seen Jesus’ question make the list: what do I want?

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 147-148.


Leave a comment

Meeting Doubt With A Question And Not A Demand (via Winn Collier)

When Jesus encounters doubt in his disciples he asks why, so that the doubter can explore where their doubt is coming from, and return their focus to Jesus and the relationship they have with him.

From Winn Collier.

When Jesus encountered doubters, he did not leave them to wallow in their uncertainty, but neither did he rail against their human frailty. Jesus showed his pierced hands to Thomas. Jesus met Nicodemus in the middle of the night. Jesus healed the demon-possessed son of the father who pleaded, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” And here, with Peter, Jesus did not leave him to drown, nor did he heap vitriol on his wavering faith. Rather, Jesus pulled Peter from the water and asked him a question. Why?
+++
Doubt as a barrier to trust is where Jesus takes aim. Jesus doesn’t mind questionsHe gives time and space for people to hear and consider and journey into the truth. Peter’s doubt, in fact, had nothing to do with philosophical quandaries or historical veracity. Peter did not have a theological dilemma. Peter did not slip into the waves because of an existential crisis. Peter wavered in trusting his friend. His issue was not creedal, it was relational.
Whatever pushed Peter to doubt, it was obviously connected to fear, understandably so. The disciples had been on pins and needles the entire night. IN a quick turn of events, Peter found himself alone on top of the waves out in the middle of a blustery storm. This doubt had nothing to do with logic or reason. There was no process that led Peter here. An apologetics lecture or a philosophical conversation would not have helped. Often we believe our doubt would be assuaged if God would miraculously intervene in the world. No miracles would have aided Peter. He had just lived the miracle, a few extraordinary aquatic steps. Peter’s doubt detonated in a flash, because all of a sudden he thought he might drown – and his fear was larger than his trust in Jesus..

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 136, 137-138.


Leave a comment

The Dissonance Between What I Expect From Jesus And What Jesus Actually Does (via Winn Collier)

Following Jesus is not thinking that everything you think is what he thinks.
Following Jesus is having your perceptions of self, others, and living challenged and changed.

From Winn Collier.

Do we really think it possible to follow the ways of God without having our world turned over? Do we really expect to follow a God we always understand, who always conforms to our expectations? Could confusion (at times) be a sign that we have actually heard God correctly? Disorientation shouldn’t be disdained, it is inevitable. If the Jesus we hear never finishes a sentence differently that we imagine he would , if the Jesus we claim to follow never offers an ideology in direct contradiction to what we have grown comfortable with, if the Jesus we envision never loves people we would never expect him to embrace, we might need to revisit the Gospels. We might need to be reintroduced to the biblical Jesus.
Anne Lamott says, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” It is a constant temptation to make God a reflection of me, rather than me a reflection of him. There outhitting to be a certain level of dissonance between what I expect from Jesus and what Jesus actually does. There should be some confusion.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pgs 105-106.


Leave a comment

Jesus Is The God We Need (via Winn Collier)

Jesus experienced life with human emotions.
In addition to knowing our need for salvation, Jesus fully experienced everything that we need to be saved from.

From Winn Collier.

Jesus did not come to help us manoeuvre around the our brokenness; Jesus came to enter our brokenness with us. The gospel is not a therapeutic system tooled for enhancing our ability to cope by believing hard enough and smiling big enough and quoting just the right mixture of Bible verses so we can distance ourselves from our negative emotions. The gospel is the story of the world as it actually is, our lives as they actually are. The gospel tells us that we are broken, more broken that we know, and that our world is in a shambles. Jesus does not encourage us to ignore what we have lost, but rather to mourn it, to feel deep sorrow over the devastation we were never supposed to know. The gospel instructs us to want and wait and hope for God to make the world right again. We do not need a God removed from our destruction and insisting we are all okay. We need a God who knows in his bones how sick we are and who will not leave us to ourselves. We need God to rescue us.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 90.


Leave a comment

The Double-Edged Sword Of Spiritual Tradition (via Winn Collier)

The temptation to set use Bible as a buttress against the imperative of the Gospel is strong.
Of course there is no contradiction between the following Jesus and the Bible correctly read.

From Winn Collier.

Spiritual tradition is a double-edged sword. Used properly, it allows those who have gone before us to instruct us with their wisdom. Tradition allows us to hear the ways God’s story has echoed in every generation. We have a rich heritage, and we are most foolish if we do not pay close attention. Used improperly, however, tradition is no longer a friend to instruct and guide us, but it becomes a means we use to dig in our heels, to hold on to an identity that provides us with a sense of security from a world or a God whose mystery frightens us.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 80.


Leave a comment

Unlearning Christian Amnesia (via Winn Collier)

Every Christian has experienced God’s gracious power at work in their lives.
As disciples we consistently evaluate situations as if we’re supposed to navigate them in our own power.

From Winn Collier who is reflecting on Jesus’ interactions with the disciples as he intends to feed a large crowd (again).

…with the dilemma out in the open, only Jesus possessed the imagination to consider any outrageous solution. The disciples had seen Jesus raise corpses and cleanse lepers and cast a herd of demons into a herd of swine. Even more ironic, if this account is seperate from the miraculous feeding of an even larger crowd just a few days before, the disciples had already seen Jesus work a miracle to answer the same quandary. Theologian Frederick Bruner says that here Matthew teaches a “doctrine of Christian amnesia.” In a crisis we seldom remember the many ways God’s grace has flowed to us. The disciples only inclination was to organise a quick exit, hoping to minimise the damage. Jesus, on the other hand intended to arrange a feast.
God knows our pain better than we do. He sees our calamity and feels, even with greater awareness than we, how near we are to ruin. The Gospel narrative is the unfolding of a rescue operation, for those of us unaware of how much we need it and naive in the face of our complete dissolution.

Winn Collier, Holy Curiosity, Baker Books, 2008, pg 62-63.


Leave a comment

Broken Homes In The Bible (via Richard Pratt)

When faced with brokenness in families it is tempting to confuse obedience to God’s precepts with obligating God by obedience to his precepts.
Richard Pratt writes about brokenness in families, which will be present everywhere because families are made up of imperfect people:
An excerpt:

In recent decades, Christian television has spread what many call the “prosperity gospel” — the misguided belief that if we have enough faith, God will heal our diseases and provide us with great financial blessings. Of course, most people reading this article scoff at the thought that faith can yield such benefits. But don’t laugh too hard. We have our own prosperity gospel for our families. We simply replace having enough faith with having enough obedience. We believe that we can lift our families out of their brokenness if we conform to God’s commands.
You’ve probably encountered this outlook at one time or another. Teachers and pastors tell wives that they will enjoy wonderful relationships with their husbands and children if they will become “an excellent wife” (Prov. 31:10). After all, Proverbs 31:28 says: “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her.” At men’s conferences, fathers recommit themselves for the sake of their children because “the righteous who walks in his integrity — blessed are his children after him!” (Prov. 20:7). In much the same way, young parents are led to believe that the eternal destinies of their children depend on strict and consistent training. You know the verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Passages like these have been taken as indicating that Christian families experience blessings and loss from God, quid pro quo. We believe that God promises a wonderful family life to those who obey His commands.
Now, we need to be clear here. The proverbs commend certain paths to family members because they reflect the ways God ordinarily distributes His blessings. But ordinarily does not mean necessarily. Excellent wives have good reason to expect honor from their husbands and children. Fathers with integrity often enjoy seeing God’s blessings on their children. Parents who train their children in the fear of the Lord follow the path that frequently brings children to saving faith. But excellent wives, faithful husbands, and conscientious parents often endure terrible hardship in their homes because proverbs are not promises. They are adages that direct us toward general principles that must be applied carefully in a fallen world where life is always somewhat out of kilter. As the books of Job and Ecclesiastes illustrate so vividly, we misconstrue the Word of God when we treat proverbs as if they were divine promises.
Quite often, there are correlations between obedience and blessings, as well as between disobedience and loss. But never be fooled into thinking you are able to figure out what God will do next in someone’s family.

Read the whole article at Keylife (who have sourced it from Ligonier)