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Archive | Relationships

Preparing for Our Heavenly Union with God

In his beautiful tribute yesterday, James shared the news that a dear friend to a number of us at Gentle Reformation, Pastor David Long, passed into glory on Saturday evening. When I received the news, I had just said “Amen” following a quiet, tearful time of singing and praying with my family for Dave and Jenny and their family. Dave, my spiritual father, is now with the God he knew so well, served so faithfully, and told others of so sincerely.

At a conference last fall at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary on “Experiencing the Fullness of Our Union with Christ,” providentially I gave the final talk on preparing for heaven. At the start of my message and in the journal being published this week, I dedicated this talk to Dave as follows.

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At the time of my study and writing of this article, I have been emotionally walking with a lifetime friend and mentor as he fights a battle against a serious form of cancer. Observing someone close to you preparing to meet God moves a discussion such as this one out of the realm of the merely academic and speculative to that of pastoral and personal. So this article is dedicated to Pastor […]

Bearing fruit in old age

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the LORD; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92.12-15 ESV)

Yesterday our family spent a few hours with one of the elderly couples in our church. It caused me to reflect afresh on the rich blessing of what might be labelled ‘cross-generational fellowship’ but which is nothing more or less than simply ‘Christian fellowship.’ We are blessed in our congregation to have a good spread of ages across the years, and a long and deliberately cultivated tradition of a genuine ‘church family’ ethos, where the young and the old mix in many different ways. Most importantly, we all worship together twice a week. The children are encouraged to go and speak to the most senior saints after the services. We have regular social events which are for the whole congregation, when young and old talk together. Many of our older folk who are able delight […]

Beware the Me Monster!

We all know a few Me Monsters. And if we’re honest, we’ll do just about anything to avoid getting caught by one at Wal-Mart- even abandon carts or children to slip down a side aisle. Commando crawling isn’t out of the question.

But anyway, I kind of feel bad for Me Monsters. They’re usually nice people. It’s just that they can’t stop talking about some particular point of interest. Forty five minutes later you’re still nodding, standing there, waiting for that small crack of a moment to initiate your departure. But “Oh, wait… I missed it! No! I missed! They’ve turned a corner to a new topic!!!”

I can’t help but think that Me Monsters are ultra lonely or neglected somehow. But then again maybe it’s not that. Maybe it’s just selfishness? But could it really be the case that they simply don’t care about the lives of others?

Surely not. Then again…

Shepherd the Shepherd

It wasn’t until I was nearly twenty-two years old that I first became a member of a church. In the college town where I was, there was a small Presbyterian congregation that seemed to fit with my changing convictions. I was and still remain thankful for the three years I spent there before going to seminary. As a dating couple my wife and I were taken under the wings of the pastor and his wife, we enjoyed a lot of friendships and fellowship, I was learning a lot, and it was also the church where I preached my first sermon! However, all of this was mixed with profound sorrow when spiritual tragedy struck our small congregation.

Only weeks after he married us it was discovered that our pastor was being unfaithful to his wife of twenty-five years. His family was left utterly shattered and broken as a result of his sin. But his adultery also affected each member of the congregation in different ways. For my family—as we looked toward seminary and the pastorate—this was deeply discouraging. I remember telling my wife with tears that if this would be the result of my future ministry then I’d rather not even begin […]

Fight Night!

A church without conflicts. The ecclesiastical unicorn. Looks great in pictures but doesn’t actually exist. The right question isn’t so much, “How do we create a church without conflict?” but “What do we do when conflict comes?”

Here the Philippian church helps us greatly, particularly two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche. These poor women have had their fight inscribed into God’s Word, and for the rest of this age we will be able to benefit from their disastrous disagreement.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2-3)