Online Church is Exhausting

A worldwide pandemic, forcing self-quarantining, has forced the church to consider the important elements of church life and wrestle through a season of online church while missing and longing for in person gatherings.


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An Introverted Task Oriented Pastor Attempts to be Relational

Introverted? Hmm? Those knowing me may question my personal assessment as an introvert. I suppose at times I may not appear as such. Most certainly, as a child, I was regularly looking for attention and desired to be in the middle of the spot light. I think that’s changed, maybe a few too many spotlights. Now, I would prefer to hunker down in my cozy office, melt some fragrant wax cubes, listen to Pavoratti, and sit spell bound by surprisingly relevant fourth century church fathers – thank you Chrysostom.

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Sin Extinguished by God’s Mercy

 

We live in a country in which we pride ourselves on freedom, after all we are the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” While we very well may live among many brave, we really don’t live in a land of the free – politically or spiritually. In the same way we live with the facade of freedom while truly living under subjugated work environments and oppressive political constructs, we can possess the sense of spiritual freedom while all along being enslaved to our own desires and demands. This latter slavery is much more severe with immense eternal significance.

Freedom is elusive. We often think we possess it while remaining enslaved. At least this is what Paul teaches us in Galatians. We think freedom is the ability to do whatever we desire, and yet Paul presents freedom as the ability to no longer be enslaved to the desires of our own flesh but instead the ability to serve others.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. . . . But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:13–16 ESV).

When you think you’re free because you can do whatever you want, the reality is that you are enslaved to your own lust and desires. This is not freedom. In fact it is the most destructive slavery.

True freedom is found only when we are freed from ourselves. True freedom is acquired  only when we are immersed in the mercy and grace of God as experienced in and accessed through Christ.

CHRYSOSTOM. Thy Master is able so to blot out thy sins that no trace even of them shall remain. In the natural body, indeed, though the wound may be healed, yet the scar remains; but God does not suffer the scar even to remain, but, together with release from punishment, grants righteousness also, and makes the sinner to be equal to him who has not sinned. He makes the sin neither to be nor to have been. . . . Sin is drowned in the ocean of God’s mercy, just as a spark is extinguished in a flood of water.”[1]

THOMAS MANTON. [In a message on Psalm 119:41, potentially quoting Chrysostom, and speaking of God’s mercy.] It is plentiful in God; he is rich in mercy, abundant in goodness and truth. Thy sins are like a spark of fire that falleth into the ocean; it is quenched presently. So are all thy sins in the ocean of God’s mercy; there is not more water in the sea than there is mercy in God.[2]


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Milk to Meat of Gospel

 

“Paul saw the Gospel as more than a onetime-only kērygma for unbelievers. Evangelicals have long acted as though the Gospel was the right “medicine” for unbelievers, but that believers need to move beyond the Gospel and go on to other things, a movement from the “milk” to the “meat.” But this seems untrue—thoroughly out of step with the biblical witness. We believe, rather, that it is imperative to think of moving on from the “milk” of the Gospel to the “meat” of the Gospel. For in fact the Gospel is more profound and multifaceted than our finite minds can ever grasp. We never move on from the Gospel; we move on in the Gospel.” (Kindle Edition, 1842)

“We do not move from the milk of the Gospel to the meat of something else, but from the milk of the Gospel to the meat of the Gospel.” (2143)

[Packer, J. I.. Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way (p. 109). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.]


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