Monday, 30 March 2020

Saturday, 28 March 2020

1 thing a pastor must do!

The pastor’s vocation is to minister the Word and Sacraments, which give what they promise. He must carefully distinguish guilt and shame in those whom he treats. Almost always we are both sinning and sinned against, but it is harmful to confuse these and to produce a false guilt or fail to deal with a sense of shame, however unjustified that might be.

Pastors must listen carefully enough to differentiate shame and guilt. The medicine for the 2 are very different.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

The Lord's Prayer as divine conversation

Packer on the Lord’s Prayer as Model Answers to God’s Questions:

In Praying the Lord’s Prayer, J. I. Packer says the the Lord’s Prayer offers model answers to a series of questions God puts to us to shape our conversation with him. 

What do you take me for, and what am I to you?

Our Father in heaven.

That being so, what is it that you really want most?

[1] The hallowing of your name;

[2] the coming of your kingdom;

[3] to see your will known and done.

So what are you asking for right now, as a means to that end?

[1] Provision,

[2] pardon,

[3] protection.

How can you be so bold and confident in asking for these things?

Because we know you can do it, and when you do it, it will bring you glory!

Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.
—Matthew 6:9–13

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Is Coronavirus making us jump blindly?

It seems we're rushing to make big decisions when the picture on COVID-19 is still unclear:
The data collected so far on how many people are infected and how the epidemic is evolving are utterly unreliable. Given the limited testing to date, some deaths and probably the vast majority of infections due to SARS-CoV-2 are being missed. We don’t know if we are failing to capture infections by a factor of three or 300. Three months after the outbreak emerged, most countries, including the U.S., lack the ability to test a large number of people and no countries have reliable data on the prevalence of the virus in a representative random sample of the general population.
For more see A Fiasco in the Making

Friday, 20 March 2020

Why men should love & women respect their husbands

As you know, the Bible instructs husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbands. This doesn’t mean that husbands are free to disrespect their wives or that wives need not love their husbands; rather, the commands are ordered to each one’s needs. Men are blessed when they are respected by their wives, and women are particularly blessed when they are loved by their husbands. 
As it turns out, these commands are also ordered to the weaker sides of each sex. Men naturally function in terms of respect, and so they often need to be reminded to love their wives. And women naturally function in terms of love, and so they often need to be reminded to respect their husbands. 
And what do these commands mean? Love is defined by the gospel. It is sacrifice for the good of the other, but it is thoughtful, intentional sacrifice aimed toward a goal. Christ did not die on the cross in order to put a generic pay check on some cosmic counter. He died for particular people, to pay for their sins, to make them clean, to bring them to glory. His love took thought for the needs of His particular people, and His love went out of its way to make a way for them. Husbands, this is what love does. 

Respect is defined by the response of the Church to this love, and that is primarily embodied by glad submission and obedience. Respect looks up to, honors, speaks highly of, is eager to serve. In Peter’s letter, he points to Sara’s example with Abraham, calling him “lord.” While this need not be applied in a wooden way, the spirit must be applied. And in our common parlance, perhaps the closest we have to such an address is the word, “sir.” When we say “yes, sir” we express respect and honor for a man. And the point is that respect is leaning in with a readiness and gravity and eagerness to follow. What are his preferences? What does he like or dislike? Respect thinks highly of those inclinations, just as the Church responds to Christ’s love. 

Thursday, 19 March 2020

2 words to avoid when in an argument

Two of the most unhelpful words whenever you are in the middle of trying to sort out a disagreement are the words “always” and “never.” It’s often the sign of a subtle (or not so subtle) bitterness or resentment that begins sentences like “You always…” or “You never…” And sometimes defensiveness does the same thing the other way around, “I always…” or “I never…” So sometimes when I’m involved in a tense counseling situation, I have been known to tell people that those words are under the ban.

The above is actually part of Lord's Supper mediation but very applicable to many relationship chats! HT: Always & Never:

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Thanksgiving even during Corona

Reasons for Thanksgiving:

Reasons for Thanksgiving

In times of viruses, quarantines, economic upheaval, fear and change, the Christian's great comfort comes, as always, through prayer. When Paul was explaining his great suffering to the Corinthian Christians, he revealed God's purpose in all hardship: "But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead." (2 Cor. 1:9) So all of this is designed to make us rely on God. But how? The primary way Christians rely on God is prayer.

This is why Philippians 4:6-7 has come mind several times recently. " not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." It's always those two words in the middle that get me: "with thanksgiving." If we want that peace which surpasses all understanding, it will come only after we pour out our hearts to God, with thanksgiving.

So here is my attempt to be more thoughtful about reasons to give God thanks during the current crisis. I'd love for you comment on this post with other reasons!

-I'm giving thanks to God for technology which allows us to broadcast sermons online and stay connected to many we would otherwise not see for quite a while.

-I'm giving thanks to God for the health of our economy for many years now, which has allowed many to build up considerable wealth...wealth that can now be used to help those in need.

-I'm giving thanks to God for the doctors and nurses and scientists who have spent most of their lives preparing for this moment in our history.

-I'm giving thanks to God for the general peace and order of our society. Despite shortages on some items, we aren't panicking.

-I'm giving thanks to God for newly open roads for the gospel. Our neighbors are being shown their mortality and limits in an undeniable way. When eyes see the true darkness around us, Jesus will shine all the brighter.

-I'm giving thanks for the amazing examples we have from the church throughout history in responding to medical crises.

-I'm thankful for extra time with our kids at home. We've had such a busy year, playing taxi to teenagers...I know it's not a relief for everyone, but we are thankful for some relaxed down time with them.

-I'm thankful for the many stories of people already taking care of each other in significant ways: grocery stores opening early for the elderly, kids playing concerts on porches of shut-ins, groceries being delivered by thoughtful neighbors, and so many more. What beautiful examples of Christlike love!

What about you? What thanksgivings are you bringing to God?


Monday, 16 March 2020

A Christian response to the Corona virus

Following the recent outbreak of the Corona virus in Kenya, we've made the difficult decision to suspend our weekly Bible study gatherings. Below is what I have written to our members...


Hello everyone,

Trust this finds you all ok.

As you're aware, Corona virus is now in Kenya and so we all are now included in the health crises affecting the world. As a way of limiting the spread of the disease, our president has given instruction that attendance at social gatherings be minimised. I think this is wise and are therefore writing to say we will not be meeting for Bible study this Thursday and for the foreseeable future. I'm sorry that we have to stop our meetings in this way (and for this reason) but we should all want to do our uttermost to overcome to this pandemic and we also want to love our neighbours as we love ourselves and so not do things that might risk its spread. Over the next few days, we will keep listening to the news and medical advice from agencies like WHO and then make a decision as to when to resume the studies. It is our hope and prayer that things will be settled sometime after Easter and that we can get back to our usual routine towards the end of next month.

I want to say one other thing - let us not lose heart. It is true that these are difficult times that we are living in. Many are unsure about the future and questions abound about what all these challenges that we face at the moment mean (of which Corona virus is just one). However, that we have challenges and hardships should not surprise us. We who are disciples of Christ should never forget that in this life there will be trouble. Jesus himself spoke of it (see John 16:33). The wonderful thing is, because of what Jesus accomplished at Calvary, we are confident that this life is not all there is. As forgiven sinners, made new in Christ, we can look forward in hope to that day when all sickness and sorrow will be no more. The book of Revelation chapter 21 describes that great day when Christ will come back like this:
He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.
So let us not be discouraged. Times are tough yes but in Christ our Saviour all will be well in the end. Over the coming days, I will be putting various  resources here on Bitrix that we can ponder and reflect on to help us fix our eyes on Him who holds all things in His hand and who is working out everything (including the Corona virus) for the good of those who love Christ.

Again let me say, let us not lose hope and of course, it goes without saying, let us also wash our hands :)

May God in Christ, be our hope and strength at this time.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Another gem from John Stott

The Real Move:
“The preacher with a humble mind will refuse to manipulate the biblical text in order to make it more acceptable to our day and age. Any attempt to make it more acceptable is really about making ourselves more acceptable or popular.”
Stott, The Challenge of Preaching, p. 95

The post The Real Move appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Pride as Pest

Pride as Pest:
“In other preachers, however, pride is more indirect, more deceptive, and more troublesome. It is possible to seem humble while constantly longing for praise. At the very moment we are glorifying Christ, we can actually be looking for our own glory. When we are pleading with the congregation to praise God, or even leading them in praise, we can be secretly hoping that they will spare a bit of praise for us”
Stott, The Challenge of Preaching, p. 94.

The post Pride as Pest appeared first on Blog & Mablog.