mgpcpastor's blog


Leave a comment

What If I Never Change? (via Stephanie Phillips at Mockingbird)

A reflective article about life with chronic illness and trust in God by Stephanie Phillips.
An excerpt:

I had the thought the other day: what if I never change? I don’t remember what I was doing: making yet another dinner, folding some more laundry, mediating another child-fight, battling another impulse to emit a primal scream. I felt hopeless: after all, shouldn’t I, as a Christian, believe in change? Shouldn’t I hold the promise of it close like a small kitten, relying on its surety to keep me warm at night and positive during the day? “Personal transformation!” shout the majority of preachers. NO! The cynic in me counters. Consider this: what if you NEVER change?
And almost as quickly, from outside of myself, came an answer, which I believe may be the answer: you’ll still be loved. I considered it. Really? I thought. I know I’m a student of grace and all, but surely there are limits? I mean, you’ve got to show at least some effort in this game, some evidence of achievement?
Sanctification has, to be honest, always left me mystified. What does it mean? It’s just a fancy word for change, right? Of what happens after we believe? Which, of course, is spirit-directed, but let’s be honest again, is aided by my spiritual disciplines? By my own commitment? There’s certainly a multi-billion dollar industry out there that says so.
But what if I never change?
You’ll still be loved.
Preposterous. Offensive. So not me-centric. The alliteratively-outlined sermons of my childhood would be horrified.
But you know what? Trying-to-prove-myself-me? “Hey-everyone-I’m-so-OK” me? Is the worst version of me.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


Leave a comment

Book Smart And Gospel Stupid (via Mockingbird Blog)

I love it when a new phrase pops up in my feed reader that just seems to express something simple yet important.

This post from Mockingbird Blog explores the problem of people who are more enamoured with theology than with the Jesus their theology should point to.
It’s not a screed against study, or anti-intellectual.
If your love of theology doesn’t produce a surpassing love of Jesus then the theology you love is deficient:

Theologians love God. So they talk about him.
But they can’t do that without talking about Jesus. So they talk about Jesus.
But they can’t talk about Jesus without talking about his saving work. So they talk about his birth, life, death, and resurrection.
But they can’t talk about his birth, life, death, and resurrection without talking about what all those things were for. So they talk about how all of them were for us.
In other words, real theologians can’t shut up about who Jesus is and what he’s done on our behalf.
So-called theologians with little interest in Jesus may be book smart but they’re Gospel stupid.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


Leave a comment

Gospel, Cancer & True Prosperity (via Mockingbird)

Mockingbird has an article by Ethan Richardson that reflects upon the writings of Katie Bowler who has cancer and has recently written on so-called ‘prosperity’ theology.
The interaction of her study on the subject, her sickness, and Richardson’s reflections point out the way in which prosperity theology impoverishes the Christian life as it deals with mortality and eternity.

It is a perversion of the Gospel that physical death and ill-health could be equated with a lack of faith.
Richardson:
“Certainly, no amount of positive thinking is enough to stave off metastasis–but what’s worse, under the conditional framework of the prosperity gospel, your metastasis may be proof of something. It may mean you didn’t believe hard enough or think positively enough.”
Richardson quotes Bowler:
“The prosperity gospel has taken a religion based on the contemplation of a dying man and stripped it of its call to surrender all. Perhaps worse, it has replaced Christian faith with the most painful forms of certainty. The movement has perfected a rarefied form of America’s addiction to self-rule, which denies much of our humanity: our fragile bodies, our finitude, our need to stare down our deaths (at least once in a while) and be filled with dread and wonder. At some point, we must say to ourselves, I’m going to need to let go.”

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.


Leave a comment

The Cost Of Teenage Optimism (via David Zahl at Mockingbird)

A post by David Zahl dealing with the implications of a social science report that finds that tries to engage with optimistic teens turning into disillusioned 30 somethings.
From the report itself:

The researchers can only speculate about why getting older is less fun than ever, but it seems the downturn in happiness among today’s thirtysomethings is the lasting effect of an overly optimistic youth, Twenge said. “This is something I’ve thought about for a while,” she told Science of Us. It’s the natural, if unintended, backfiring of a childhood filled with messages like, You can be anything you want to be!
Soaring expectations, if left unmet, can lead to crushing disappointment; this is the kind of common-sense statement that happens to also be backed up by a raft of psychological research…

From Zahl’s reflections:

When we embrace an inflated anthropology, we set ourselves up for disappointment and confusion, rather than wonder or compassion. For example, a vaunted view of ourselves all but dictates how we will respond to the horrific events that transpired in Paris last week. Empathy is too frightening for what it might say about us, and so we demonize. We classify the perpetrators as completely other–bad as opposed to good, savage as opposed to enlightened, victimizers as opposed to victims–which only furthers the same dehumanization that makes such acts possible in the first place. Perhaps that’s too close to the bone.

Read the whole post at Mockingbird.