Snippets from the interweb (24th October 2021)

Cultivating a gracious climate in your church

This is excellent: ‘A message of grace may attract people, but a culture of grace will keep them. What our churches need, not in exchange for a gospel message but as a witness to it, is a gospeled climate. But how do you get that? How do you develop in your church community a safe space to confess, be broken, be “not okay”? What are some ways to cultivate a climate of grace in your church?’

A key sign you are maturing as a preacher

‘As a seminary professor (and a pastor) I spend a lot of time helping students grow and develop as preachers. After hearing a student preach, I will often get coffee or lunch with that student and we will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the sermon and how it can be improved. Over the years, I have learned to ask students a key question that can reveal a lot about how they are developing as a preacher. “What did you leave out?”’

A pandemic of disunity

Randy Alcorn: ‘In the 52 years I’ve known Jesus, I’ve witnessed countless conflicts between believers. But never more than in the last year. Many have angrily left churches they once loved. Believers who formerly chose churches based on Christ-centered Bible teaching and worship now choose them based on non-essential issues, including political viewpoints and COVID protocols. Churches are experiencing a pandemic of tribalism, blame, and unforgiveness — all fatal to the love and unity Jesus spoke of. Rampant either/or thinking leaves no room for subtlety and nuance. Acknowledging occasional truth in other viewpoints is seen as compromise rather than fairness and charitability.’

5 reasons we don’t pray

Hard not to recognise these.

What the Lord’s “imminent” return means

Does Jesus’ imminent return mean he will return soon? This is a helpful one.

How Luther helped my depression

Depression is a funny thing. What helps one person doesn’t necessarily help another. This one talks about what helped one person when they were suffering: reading Luther.

From the archive: We are, at least sometimes, called to serve out of weakness

‘All too often that’s where our thoughts end. I am gifted in X so I will do X; I don’t feel gifted in Y so I won’t do Y. But the Bible wants to push us further. Paul, when he is being battered by the Corinthians as inferior to a bunch of so-called ‘super-apostles’ says, ‘I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong’ (2Co 12:10) Indeed, he claims that God told him directly, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’ (2Co 12:9a) going on to say, ‘I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me’ (2Co 12:9b).’