paul

Theology

Earthly Use


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They talk about being “so heavenly minded to be of no earthly use”. I’d like to smash this myth…

…the inference of this statement is that thinking outside the supernatural order and realm of things has a limited shelf life (a little is OK but a lot isn’t) but this isn’t quite the point:

Even if one person thought about heaven (say) for 1% of their life, another thought about it for 10% and another 100%, the only real issue of concern is how that person lives as a result of their heavenly-mindedness, not the heavenly-mindedness per se.

Applying heavenly-mindedness is the real challenge not thinking of heaven less. We must close the gap between what we say we believe and how we live.

The Apostle Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. (Philippians 1:21). His heavenly-mindedness was so pervasive that he actually would have preferred to die (and be Christ) than remain in the body (without Him). But his extreme heavenly-mindedness also included the mentality of how to best apply this preference…ie in this case to remain with the Philippian church for their “progress in the faith” (Philippians 1:25).

I don’t know about you but, by the grace of God, I will be more heavenly minded into 2019 than I have ever been…

“Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God”

~ Jim Elliot

… #JesusCome

Reading, Theology, Worship

No Compromise


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I’m currently reading Tom Wright’s brilliant biography on the Apostle Paul. I’m also currently reading “No Compromise” by Melody Green – the life story of her late husband Keith Green.

Books separated by 45 years of church history and current affairs, they are dissimilar in many ways but, at their beating heart, are actually more alike than they’re not.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to take a chapter from Wright and a song from Green and blog about the essential nature of these two men used mightily of God, though in different ways and at different times.

Keith Green, like the radical Jim Elliot, died tragically at the age of 28. I’m now 38 and so have already had an extra decade more on the planet than did these two fine brothers.

Like Paul, for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21) and, convinced of my fruitful labour for the progress and joy in the faith of others, (Philippians 1:25), I too will remain and become even more undignified than this as I learn to love as I should, singing and proclaiming unto Christ a ‘new devotion’

Bible

Earthly Use


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I’d like to debunk a myth that says, and even warns, that it’s possible to be ‘so heavenly minded to be of no earthly use’.

In Philippians 3:14 Paul smashes that notion by saying,

“I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus”

Called. Heavenwards.

The ineffective and unsatisfying way of ‘doing’ church/life/ministry is with an attempt of delicately balancing earth and heaven like a some kind of home-improvement project (a little bit of heaven, here; a little bit of earth, there), as though the ‘reasonable  balance’ was something we map out for increasing our effectiveness or that’s simply left to our own personal preferences; or that perhaps too much thought of heaven, of Jesus, is going to render us imbalanced, irrelevant and bunkered away out of touch with a hurting world.

I don’t see that in Paul’s writings and I don’t think being ‘too heavenly minded’ is possible because a fixed gaze on heaven primes our faith in its King. (See Colossians 3:2 ).

What I do see is Paul longing for his prize, his goal, his home and his Saviour. The utter marvel and mystery of ‘following Christ’ at all, with any fruitfulness, with any closeness of proximity, is possible only because of the call towards heaven from God, not of a learned skill of balancing the two realities of heaven and earth towards approved ‘usefulness’.

Paul wrestled with where he wanted to be such was his love for God, (See Philippians 1: 22-24) but he wasn’t trying to decide where his mind lived like a schitzophrenic symptom with one foot in the grave. Above all he cherished his heavenly citizenship, yet he was extremely effective and ‘useful’ while he remained.

*This is not a call to monastic passivity or chilled bean-bag worship vibes…it’s a reorientation towards a mentality that fuels our missional effectiveness.*

Paul was ‘all in’,  really ‘all in’ in a way that I’m certainly not familiar with either personally or corporately.

He had a goal and he had a Goal.

He loved people to the point of often writing and speaking through tears but, without question, he knew he was called to be with Jesus.

I think this is the personal/corporate key:

*The extent of Paul’s tears for people and the degree of his longing to fully be with God are directly linked – they correspond perfectly.*

As he pressed on to ‘win the prize’ he was focused in this one direction which only made him increasingly fruitful while he remained on earth.

Like Paul, let’s give ourselves to going fully hard after God, fully hard after the kingdom, fully hard after the King.

And then see how much earthly use we’ll be!

Bible

Kneeling, Praying, Sailing, Walking, Dying


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Acts 21 is a microcosm of community, discipleship, glory and suffering: Paul reaches the point where he knew he wouldn’t see his beloved family again and that this final voyage from Tyre to Caesarea was unto final suffering, imprisonmmet and death.

Imagine the scene as, with profuse tears, Paul’s missional community kneels together on the gritty sand, embracing each other tightly, praying that God would protect and bless their leader whose face they’d never see again.

The voyage was (more…)