mgpcpastor's blog

Leave a comment

Sometimes We Forget We’re All The Wrong Sort Of People (via Larry Parsley)

In a book of devotions drawn from the Gospel of Mark, Larry Parsley reflects on the observation that Jesus attracts the wrong sort of people, and sometimes some of us can forget that we’re the wrong sort of people too.

Parsley concludes his devotion with a story that most pastors have experienced in one form or another:

Years ago, at a heated church business meeting, an older man rose to take issue with our pastor and the many changes he had made to reach people who don’t go to church. This man complained how new neighbors from highly churched backgrounds were not interested in our church anymore. And then he leveled what he must have thought was his most devastating indictment: “Since you came to be our pastor, the wrong kind of people are coming to our church.”
Jesus, thank you for welcoming the wrong kind of people…like me.

Read the post at Mockingbird.

Leave a comment

O Come Thou Dayspring, Come And Cheer (via Michael Kelley)

This short article on the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel by Michael Kelley has been published a couple of times on his blog and explains the biblical imagery used in the hymn that speak of longing fulfilled.

We are longing for what only Jesus can bring, just as Israel was longing for centuries for the coming of God’s chosen One who would be their deliverer.
And while Israel longed for a physical delivery, we know now that our physical deliverance from circumstantial tribulation is only a shadow of the greater deliverance we need, and therefore the greater longing that permeates every experience of our lives.

Read the whole post at Forward Progress.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

The Diverse Excellencies Of Jesus (via Jared Wilson)

From Jared Wilson.
Jonathan Edwards says that in Christ we find an “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.” These diverse excellencies are the sunbeams of his magnificence, finding their unity in him, as they — though disparate — converge and emanate back out to reflect the imprinting of the nature of God.
He is the Lion and the Lamb. He is the Lamb and the Shepherd. He is the Shepherd and the Warrior. He is the Warrior and the Priest. He is the Priest and the Sacrifice. He is the Sacrifice and the Victor. He is the Victor and the Servant. He is the Servant and the King. He is the King and the Convicted. He is the Convicted and the Judge. He is the Judge and the Advocate. Diverse excellencies, each pair juxtaposed yet complementary, finding their admirable conjunction in him.
Read the whole post here.

Leave a comment

Stay Close To Christ (via Steve Brown)

From an article by Steve Brown, about the difference Jesus makes to the Christian’s life:

Jesus came to die, but he also came to show us how to die; he came to love us, but he also came to show us how to love others; he came that we might be forgiven, but he also came that we might know how to forgive others. Jesus gave form to the idea of obedience. We knew what to do, but now we know how to do it because Jesus has shown us how.
And that’s not as hard as it first appears. Obedience is simply the response of a child who has been loved. Paul put it this way, “For the love of Christ controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14). As a Christian, your natural desire is to please God—even when you continue to mess up and to struggle—not because he will punish you if you don’t please him, but because of his great love for you. Our obedience comes from freedom, not freedom from obedience.
The example Jesus set was not primarily in his acting, but in his being. The primary impact of the incarnation of God in Christ is the incarnation of God in Christ. Jesus was not obedient so that he could become the Son of God. Rather, he was the Son of God and was thereby obedient. He was not faithful in order to be God incarnate. He was God incarnate and was therefore faithful.
Jesus came simply to be who he was. Likewise, the Christian life, following Christ’s example, is not so much a life of acting, but of being. We are called to abide in Christ in exactly the same way Christ abides in the Father (John 15:4-5, John 17:20-21).
We don’t need to grow in order to abide in Christ; growth comes from abiding in him. So just stay close to Christ.

Leave a comment

Salvation Accomplished

The Border Watch called this article ‘Salvation Accomplished’.
The idea was to cross the themes of Palm Sunday with thoughts about the public reaction to the recent death of former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser.

News of the death of Malcolm Fraser has evoked a varied range of responses. In contrast to Gough Whitlam, who occupied a fixed position on the political and social spectrum, Mr Fraser has been considered to have changed his attitudes over the decades. Senator David Leyonhjelm’s characterisation that Mr Fraser “was a right-wing extremist when I first knew him and he was a left-wing extremist when he died” is blunt, but understandable to those of us who witnessed the fury expressed against him in the seventies and the esteem afforded to him in his later days, by pretty much the same people; along with the present day ambivalence of those who lauded his achievements in decades past.
This can be seen as tributes to Mr Fraser seem to be partitioned to acknowledge the times when his actions most closely aligned with the values of those speaking, while cordoning off the periods where principles diverged.
On the weekend many Christians will recall the celebrated arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem. To mark his arrival the crowds laid down palm branches and sang out a welcome acknowledging him as sent by God. They recognised his riding a donkey as a fulfilment of a divine promise of a ruler who would arrive in peace, not conquest.
And yet, less than a week later, those same voices cried out in condemnation. They would be satisfied with nothing less than Jesus’ death.
It’s easy to understand the condemnation Jesus received by the political class, who would take no chances with one who they perceived may have been a threat to their power. In the same way, the religious class also desperately wanted to rid themselves of the one who threatened their positions as conduits to God.
But why the crowds? Why did those who would have crowned him at the beginning of the week cry out for crucifixion by its end?
Had Jesus changed his positions or attitudes during that week? Not in the slightest.
Jesus was rejected by the masses because he would not take up the sword and become a military conqueror; nor would he provide for them assurances that by either bloodline or effort that they were right with God.
Public opinion turned on Jesus because he would not be the political or spiritual saviour the people desired.
The Bible shows us, however, that he was the Saviour that the public needed.
It’s not so much that God’s salvation was not what people expected, as that the salvation God sent was rejected with extreme prejudice.
But, paradoxically, his condemnation and crucifixion were the means by which salvation was achieved.
Christians spend weeks each year in special focus on God’s achievement of redemption through the self same actions by which humanity was seeking to reject that salvation.
In doing so we celebrate a wisdom and love that overcame our rebellion and lostness. We give thanks that Jesus did not change to be what we wanted, but instead changes us to what we need to be.

Leave a comment

There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch

Another article for our local paper, The Border Watch.
I’m working on tone and form in these pieces.
The ending is still looser than I want, but sooner or later you have to finish it and send them in.
It’s been a while since I’ve done this sort of writing on a regular basis.
Next week I’ve been thinking about lessons based on a building that has a fifty meter laneway of prime inner city land just so it can have a better address.

There Is Such A Thing As A Free Lunch

The old saying goes ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’.
An unnamed man bought a fully refundable first-class ticket with Eastern China Airlines that came with access to a VIP lounge at Xi’an International Airport, where flyers can enjoy a free meal. For over 300 days the man went to the airport lounge, ate his fill, and rescheduled his flight for the next day when he would return and repeat the process again. When staff noticed what was happening the man simply surrendered the ticket and received a full refund of his purchase price.
So, for that one man, there was such a thing as a free lunch.
As Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness he was tempted to create his own meal, turning stones into bread. He was hungry, he had the power, and yet he refused, memorably quoting from the Old Testament ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’
He refused because he recognised that it would have been anything but a free meal. Turning stones into bread would have been very costly to him indeed.
It had been the Spirit of God who had led him into the wilderness, and Jesus trusted God to provide for his physical needs. Generations before, the people of God had been in the wilderness and they had not shown faith in God for their food. Jesus was faithful where the people had failed.
There are times where gratification of our desires overcomes care for our spiritual wellbeing. We sacrifice or endanger relationships, reputations and long-term security for short-term satisfaction. A short season of getting what you think you want can leave you with long seasons without what you really need.
Jesus expressed trust in God; while Christians confess that our trust fails us on a fairly constant basis. We depend on the trust that Jesus showed in God, not our own trust.
People go through their lives looking for their own version of the proverbial ‘free lunch’. The ‘no strings attached’ means of attaining satisfaction for their desires. We’d like to think that something like that existed. Nothing in creation fills the bill. Whatever we find is never completely free.
That’s why Christians look to Jesus. As the faithful one who completely trusted God, he’s the basis by which we’re made part of God’s family. He’s the Christian’s ‘free lunch’. There are no strings attached and anyone can experience the provision of God through him.