Tony Watkins points us to this TED talk by Michael Norton on how to buy happiness.
As the Apostle Paul says in Acts 20:35 ‘In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
Very helpful 20 minute discussion from a T4G panel discussion between Mark Dever andAl Mohler.
The remarkable story of a man who found grace in his hour of need and was utterly transformed
Tim Keller spoke at the City to City conference this week in New York on the difference between ‘inner power’ that which flows out of our relationship with the Lord and ‘external power’ that which comes from position, status or prestige. Focusing on ‘external power’ is deadly, but ‘inner power’ brings life and vitality to you and your ministry.
Here are his 5 things we have to work at, plan for, be disciplined at if to have independent, inner, source of power
- Private devotions – regular, consistent; morning (40 mins), lunch-time (5 mins – recap), evening (40 mins), bed-time (pray with Kathy)
- Spiritual friendship – Christian brothers & sisters who hold you accountable. Intimate friendship. Hebrews 3.16. Who have you given the right to do that?
- Right kind of pastoral counselling – Regular evangelism, discipleship, helping others. Some form of serving.
- Study & reading – you’ve got to read your head off!
- Corporate worship – do you really worship in your services or are you merely the producer and director?
Sheri Thomas spoke at the City to City Network Leaders Conference yesterday on church planters and their spouses. Here are a number of key points that really struck me from what was said.
1) Planters need to understand the pressure on their spouses.
That means planters need to spend time communicating deeply with their spouses on how planting or planning to plant is impacting their marriage – both positively and negatively.
It also means planters need to be aware, up-front, of the most common causes of pressure that face spouses and to factor into both church and marriage ways of recognising them and overcoming them.
2) Ministry will always win out over family unless deliberate steps are taken to prevent it.
Ministry will always be here. Family will grow up and leave. Make family a priority for their sake and for the sake of the church. Prioritise eating together, taking good holiday, celebrating together eg birthdays, etc.
3) Plan a retreat for church planters in your network so that planters and spouses can be refreshed and encouraged together or if that is not possible try and get together as a church planting couple with another church planting couple.
4) Boundary Ambiguity is a cause of stress and tension. What is the spouses role and responsibility in a plant? Is it clear and has it been communicated to the plant? What protection of boundaries are in place with regard to space especially when it comes to using the home a lot.
5. Role ambiguity. Just how involved does she have to be and how might that role change over time and if children are involved.
6. Isolation is an issue. Groups of church-planting spouses need the opportunity of meeting together and talking about their roles and situations
7. The greatest fear for a church planting spouse is often the fear that she cannot do it all and yet all is expected of her.
8. The marriage is the biggest thing as to whether the plant will make it or not. Therefore assessing a church planter must involve assessing the church planter spouse. The person most likely to want to pull the plug on planting is probably an overburdened spouse.
So in order to protect the marriage in a church planting situation we need to ask:
How is the marriage functioning ?
When it comes to boundary ambiguity does she fight (ie take issue with the plant and how its impacting her in negative ways eg. gossip or even undermining her husband publically) or flight (by becoming withdrawn and isolated)? Does she recognise and want to respond to these temptations in a godly way?
What does she do with problems as they arise in church? Does she have the level of maturity to cope with this?
Is she supportive – does she believe in her church-planting husband? If she doesn’t it’s going to be very hard for them both and the plant.
Who are the people she is going to open up with? Different subjects, different depths.
Jason Ramasami is a cartoonist who finds ways to engage us with the gospel in fresh and creative ways. People of faith and people who maybe wish they had faith in Jesus will be helped by this great animation.
I’ve just returned from a walk listening to a Tim Keller sermon on the jealousy of God from 2011 in which he offers this extensive quote from CS Lewis’s Problem of Pain, chapter3:
You asked for a loving God: you have one. ..not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philantropy of a conscientious magistrate, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist’s love for his work, provident and venerable as a father’s love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.
When we fall in love with a woman, do we cease to care whether she is clean or dirty, fair or foul? Do we not rather then first begin to care? Does any woman regard it as a sign of love in a man that he neither knows nor cares how she is looking? Love may, indeed, love the beloved when her beauty is lost: but not because it is lost. Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal. Love is more sensitive than hatred itself to every blemish in the beloved. Of all powers he forgives most, but he condones least: he is pleased with little, but demands all.
What we would here and now call our “happiness” is not the end God chieﬂy has in view: but when we are such as He can love without impediment, we shall in fact be happy.
God gives what He has, not what He has not: He gives the happiness that there is, not the happiness that is not. To be God—to be like God and to share His goodness in creaturely response—to be miserable—these are the only three alternatives.
God loves us too much to leave us as we are and too much to give us what we want. Keller says we would not give a 5 year old child everything they asked for because we have better things for them in mind. He reminds us of how we look back at our teenage years and cringe with embarrassment at the things we demanded from our parents and even of how our 25 year old selves seem child-like once we have reached 50 and so finally God loves us too much than to give us what we want.
Just after midnight (here in the UK) Bubba Watson won one of the most prestigious golfing touranments in the world – the US Masters. As a Christian he celebrated his win giving thanks to God on Easter Sunday!
In a tweet just a few weeks ago he said:
Most important things in my life- 1. God 2. Wife 3. Family 4. Helping others 5. Golf
This post from the Billy Graham Organisation tells us more
(HT: Steve Couchman)
His Grace takes issue with David Cameron’s easter message.
(HT: David Robertson)
Here’s a really helpful post for any of us who find our constant struggle with sin a discouragement in our lives and maybe even a reason to doubt the reality of our faith. When it comes to issues of sin, shame and guilt Ken Berding offers the following insight from a conversation with JI Packer.
‘Paul wasn’t struggling with sin because he was such a sinner. Paul was struggling because he was such a saint. Sin makes you numb.’
(HT: Trevin Wax)
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