Jul 252016
 

6a01053629a711970c014e605c90f2970c-800wiA Journey Through the Past

I will stay with you, if you’ll stay with me,

Said the fiddler to the drum, 

And we’ll keep good time on a journey thru the past.

Neil Young

In the year 337, a sixty-five year old man in ill health was making his way back to his home.  His had been a turbulent life, filled with intrigues, wars, assassinations (including ordering the juridical deaths of his wife and an eldest son) and betrayals. Realizing that the end was near and hoping for forgiveness for all that he had done in his life, he changed into the white robes of a Christian catechumen and requested baptism.  Shortly afterwards, in a small suburb of the city he had built, Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus, died.  Soon to be known as Constantine the Great and hailed as the first Christian emperor, his body was interred in the Church of the Twelve Apostles in Constantinople.  

Opinions vary as to the depth of Constantine’s Christian faith.  What is certain, is that the promulgation of the Edict of Milan in 313 allowed Christians to openly practice their faith without fear of persecution and ordered the return of confiscated Church property.  It is also allowed that Constantine supported numerous Christian endeavors, especially the building of churches while he personally retained many of the symbols and stylings of the older imperial cults and deities.  Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, he also involved himself in the doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of church life.  As such, he attracted numerous Christian leaders who had visions of “Christ’s kingdom on earth” rising out of the Roman empire, despite Christ’s own assertion – before Pontius Pilate no less – that his kingdom was not of this world.

In his wake Constantine left a troubled legacy of an empire ruled by intrigue and, perhaps of more importance to us in 2016, of a Church increasingly dependent upon the state, both for material well being and the expectation of specifically Christian ideals being promulgated in civil society.  

Now, while intrigue has always been a part of political life (both in the civil and religious spheres) the involvement of the Church with the State was something new and it has left a mark on the life of the Church that extends from the time of Constantine to the present day.   Throughout the centuries since Constantine, a quasi-theocratic idea of civil society (drawing heavily on Old Testament examples) has made it’s way in and out of Christian thought.  Some, such as Augustine, sought a clear differentiation between the “City of God” and the “City of Man”, but even he thought the power of the State could be used against heretics and schismatics and that the Church could and/or should enjoy special privileges.  The general idea of the amalgamation of Church and State, however, ranged throughout the Middle Ages and, despite Luther’s concept of “the Two Kingdoms”, into the Reformation period when, with the Peace of Augsburg (1555) and the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) the ruler of any state could establish it’s religious practice – cuius regio, eius religio (“Whose realm, his religion”). 

In the United States, formed in the aftermath of the Enlightenment, the truly revolutionary idea of a nation without a national established religion was enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, namely, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Making use of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as it’s basis, the intent was clear.  In Jefferson’s own words, it was meant to erect “a wall of separation between Church and State.”  (James Madison, the author of the First Amendment also cited Luther as providing the proper distinction between civil and ecclesiastical spheres.) This, however, applied only to the nation as a whole.  Several colonies, now states, had established churches well into the first half of the nineteenth century (Massachusetts being the last to disestablish in 1834).  Moreover, as white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants made up the vast majority of the population, almost through to the present time, the intermingling of state policies and religious concerns remained the norm rather than the exception.  Even as new waves of immigrants made their way to America, they often almost measured their progress by how they made their way into politics carrying their faith tradition with them.  While the idea of a Roman Catholic president seemed novel and unusual in 1960, within a very short time most Judeo-Christian faith traditions were accepted – although the idea of an occupant of the White House stating that he was “born again”, did raise some eyebrows in the 1970s.

If you grew up in the fifties and sixties, you were used to seeing Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on television.  Your parents might be reading Norman Vincent Peale. Billy Graham was a regular visitor at the White House.  Clergy were respected members of the community. Presidents went to church, the Congress had chaplains, tax exemptions were made for houses of worship and prayers might be said before the local high school football game. In 1954, even the Pledge of Allegiance was altered to include the phrase “under God”. For the most part, we were comfortable.  The laws and mores of civil society seemed, at least to most, to mirror our faith traditions – and we were mostly, if not always, at ease with the status quo.  The road we were on had stretched all the way from fourth century Constantinople to twentieth century Washington… and we liked it.

Those days, however, are gone, and they will not return.

We have to face the fact that not only has the world changed, so has the United States.  

Europe, for decades, has been made up of nations that may only be described as “post-Christian” in terms of culture, belief and church attendance.  At the present time, even in England, with an established Church and bishops seated in the upper chamber of Parliament, only 1.4% of the population will attend an Anglican service on any given weekend.  On any Friday, more Muslims will attend mosque than Methodists will attend a church or chapel on the following Sunday. In the Netherlands, two-thirds of the remaining Roman Catholic churches and over 700 Protestant churches will close within the next 4-10 years.  The outlook throughout the rest of the continent is similar.  Next stop… the United States. 

In the United States the numbers may not say it all, but they say enough.  Mainline churches across the board are in decline and even evangelicals are caught in the slide downwards.  Whether in the Gallup Poll of December 2015, or the extensive Pew Religious Landscape study of 2014, or the recent book, The End of White Christian America by Robert P. Jones, the numbers generally tell the same story, and the story is this: Members of mainline denominations, as well as self-identified evangelicals are aging and dying, with fewer and fewer young people taking their place.  Even former adherents, now in middle age, are leaving. The percentage of those with no religious affiliation whatsoever is growing across most age ranges (among young millennials, ages 18-24, 36% self identify as having no religious affiliation at all).  I could go on.  There is very little good news. The numbers are exhaustive and exhausting.

The influence of religious groups has also waned.  Perhaps a good anecdotal example of this might be seen in the lead up to recent wars.  In 1990, prior to the Gulf War, real attention was given by President George H.W. Bush to the pronouncements of religious leaders, some even being invited to the White House to discuss their concerns.  Vigils and prayers for peace were held across the country and were covered by national media.  Eleven years later, prior to the invasion of Iraq, concerns of religious leaders were essentially ignored, with little attention being given by the media apart from secular  protest marches in major cities.  Things had clearly changed.

We are blinded, however, by what we think we are seeing and hearing.  There seems to be so much activity, so many blogs, so many websites for local churches.  If you have the money, you can even take a cruise with your favorite Bible teacher or Christian artist. The list of possible activities seems almost endless, as though a brave new Christian world is emerging.  Then those pesky statistics come back to haunt us.  For the year 2014 (the last year reported) the average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church was 90.  For the year 2015, the average Sunday attendance in the United Methodist Church was 88. Now remember, this is the mean number – about half of the churches have more, but half have less.  Also, these are national figures and there are conferences (Methodists) and dioceses (Episcopal) where the average Sunday attendance is 35 or even lower.  Obviously, many of these churches cannot be sustained. They struggle to pay their bills, rely on denominational subsidies and hope against hope that things will get better, but it seldom happens.

So, as I look at the mega-churches, worship events in arenas, and the panoply of television preachers and ministries, what am I to think?  I believe that they are the last vestiges of a Christian triumphalism that is “past its sell-by date” and do not reflect the reality faced by many, if not most, churches in the United States.  Aligning ourselves with society, current norms and partisan politics may have “worked” at one time.  Now, in my opinion, it is the most certain way for the Church to be consigned to irrelevancy, or to further divide the Church into smaller and smaller factions and subgroups.  As someone once said, “when you wed yourself to the present, you will be a widow in the future.”  

If Robert Webber was correct that the “path to the future runs through the past”, it is to the past, I believe, we must go, bypassing the Constantinian settlement, the supposed glories of medieval Christendom and embrace the life of a different kind of Church:  A Church that managed it’s own affairs.  A Church that did not look to the State to give it a position of advantage (financial or otherwise) and, indeed, did not look to the State to assist in propagating the Church’s ideals, mores or faith.  The treasure of that Church consisted of the poor, whom they cared for and fed. It was a Church that faced occasional persecution, but, in spite of the persecution, grew. 

Clearly, there has never really been a “golden age” for the Church.  As individuals and as worshipping communities we have always had to struggle with the dichotomy of “being in the world, but not of the world”.  Nevertheless the example is there, even in the New Testament canon. We can see such a Church in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch, Clement and in the Didache.  It was a Church that counted humility as a virtue.  The certainty of that Church was confined to the saving work of Christ, not national pride or partisan political allegiances.  Moreover we can see echoes of that Church in the lives and works of so many throughout the centuries – Francis of Assisi, the young Luther, John Wesley and so many more down to our own day.

Such a Church, especially if modeled on that of the ante-Nicene period, would be an adjustment for most American Christians.  It would probably involve even more than can be stated in this small essay – the loss of tax exempt status, for instance; or involvement in civil disobedience if the State requires conformity contrary to conscience or belief.  So be it. Such a Church, however, might also foster a renaissance in Biblical studies, theology, music and the arts. Who knows, it might even create disciples.

Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

The Martyrs Project

Jul 242016
 


header
Thanks to you folks who use the Amazon links to make your purchases.

A small percent comes back to me and it helps out a lot.

Support our advertisers…especially when they are part of the online community.

EricL features his books and services up on the top right side of the blog and helps me often with our Linkathon.

We have a “trilogy” of devotional books based on my Friday TGIF columns available now.

“Make Your Own Application” Vol 1-3 can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also make direct donations via PayPal using the “donate” button on the top left side of the site.

These are particularly helpful while I deal with the current medical issues.

We covet your continued prayers and participation for what we do here.

Thank you for your help and support.

I can always be reached at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com with your questions or concerns.

Jul 232016
 

God of Adam and Eve, you have formed us from the earth,
carefully shaping our bodies from the clay.
We are miracles with skin, clay that smiles.
But miracles are not always complete.
Your fishes and loaves got far, but didn’t last forever.
Your water into wine was consumed.
Our bodies, though imbued with your eternal and life-giving Spirit,
are subject to the groaning of creation.
Though in our finitude your healing is still present and active.
For those who are sick, groaning,
for the body laden with pain,
we ask for healing, wholeness, and miracle.
We ask for a holistic blessing in their body, their day’s, their web of friendships,
and all of their life’s details into a smooth pattern of peace.
Grant them the strength to work with their pain
and live in the gift you have given them.
We ask this through the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jul 232016
 

Word of GodMatthew 6:9-18

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name

  • Do you need help with your prayer life? Go to the Christian bookstore and look at the volumes produced just to help you pray.
  • But Jesus said, “pray like this” – why do we not do it the Jesus way?
  • This prayer is not a special formula
  • He could have said “Oh Great God, Creator of All – Oh Lord Almighty and Holder of All Power in your hands and who smote those in Sodom & Gomorra ….”
  • It would have all been true – But he said “our Father…”
  • Since he said “Our Father” – then who are we?
  • Potential sons?? – one day to be to be children? No, we are present tense His Children – Present tense His Heirs.
  • “Our” Father – is this prayer a group prayer and not an individual prayer?
  • Do we do enough in community?
  • Note the plurality of the prayer – the “our” the “us” – this is meant to be prayed in community – when the church gathers – how many refuse?

10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

  • His Kingdom comes with or without us
  • He wants his kingdom to come to us – that he will come to you in your life.
  • Actually, the Kingdom is here already, consummated with his Good Friday sacrifice – resurrection and ascension
  • How do we say “your will be done.”??
  • Is it just an easy tagline of humble subservience or…
  • Is it a cry against Satan? It should be.
  • Is it “your will be done Lord” or “My will”? God, get in the backseat.
  • When God keeps us faithful to his promise – his will is being done.
  • When he gives us heaven– his will is being done.
  • When Christ forgives sinners – his will is being done.
  • When the old Adam is put to death by the law – his will is being done.
  • Your will be done is a confession of who I am – I am at odds with God
  • God’s will is being done in the 10 commandments
  • God’s will is being done when we protect life
  • God’s will is being done when we protect marriage
  • God’s will is being done when we treat and protect our neighbor and his property rightly
  • God’s will is being done when we use his name properly
  • God’s will is being done when we don’t have any other Gods

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

  • All of the “give us” – a little pushy? Or a claim to a promise?
  • Daily bread = everything I need for daily existence
  • God help me.
  • I need help, support, guidance, food, clothes – good weather for good crops.
  • And I trust you will provide.
  • And this is not just about our need, but where everything comes from.
  • This is like a confession of faith to God.
  • The “give us” does not need to be for us – but for others
  • Give to the Iraqi Christians …

12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

  • “…as we also…” this is the 1st stumbling block in the prayer
  • Sin is likened to debt because you now carry a debt towards God or the other person.
  • We as a nation should understand what it means to be in debt
  • This would be like China forgiving our national debt but we turn around and say “hey, Puerto Rico – pay up!” (The Unforgiving Servant of Matt 18)
  • Think about forgiving others
  • Our debt is forgiven through no deed of our own – but we always feel like our neighbor needs to work off his debt to us or at least be worthy of our forgiveness.
  • How does a Christian act? We are to be generous and reckless with our forgiveness to others.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

  • God does not tempt anyone
  • There is this unholy trinity – the world – the devil and our sinful flesh.
  • It looks like God but it is not. Who did Adam blame? “God, you made me do it through this woman.
  • Who tempted Adam & Eve? Who tempted Jesus?

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,

15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

  • Matthew 18:21-35 – the parable of the unmerciful servant.
  • 14 is a YIKES
  • 15 is a double YIKES
  • You might take note – there is no sugar coating with this one.
  • What are you going to do with forgiveness?

Fasting – So Jesus is still on the mountain, still talking in Red Letters – teaching with authority – continuing that ‘rabbis said – but I say.’

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

  • When you fast – fasting was expected. Was fasting a Jewish thing?
  • Do we ever see fasting taught to the Gentiles?
  • Fasting is all about self denial – how important is eating to you?
  • A friend of mine went to Cuba a couple of months ago and told me how poor they were.
  • He said “they would rather eat than get paid.”
  • I thought who would put food over money? Then I thought, Me! I eat several times a day but get paid only a couple of times a month.

17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

  • Do what it takes to look healthy and alert.
  • When you do something, anything for God, look good doing it!

18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

  • What do you hope to get out of fasting?
  • Who do you fast to?
Jul 222016
 

IMG_1057He would cry when I went outside and called for Miss Kitty.

I wouldn’t always see him as he cowered in the bushes, but I couldn’t help but hear him.

His was not a weak or meek whimper, but the cry of an animal in real distress.

He was terrified and starving and was hoping someone would care about both.

Those of his kind who had already found sanctuary here cared about neither.

They knew of his presence and his plight, but preferred that he stay hidden from sight and silent.

They also know somehow that I would have mercy on him if I knew about him…and they believed that mercy was for them only.

I started by putting dish of food near the bushes he hid in…his hunger soon overcame his fear and he devoured it if I stood a safe distance away.

Soon, every morning and every evening, he would call for me and I would feed him…inching closer every time I put the dish out.

My objective wasn’t just to feed him, though that was of primary importance.

The objective was to bring him fully into the family, to feed him, love him, care for him, and give him a home where all those things are a given.

Real mercy is full mercy.

Soon, he would let me sit with him while he ate, but would run if I tried to touch him.

Then, he allowed me to scratch his head while he ate.

Finally he let me pet him..he trusted me.

His joy was almost amusing in it’s intensity…food and loving attention at the same place, probably for the first time in his life.

He thought he had found a home,a place where he belonged.

The other cats who had found mercy here soon convinced him otherwise.

They let him know that even if I felt he belonged ,that he really didn’t belong here at all.

When he finally felt the courage to walk in the house, Miss Kitty beat him…she drew blood and ran him away.

She spat at me for allowing such in our home.

My new friend had crossed the path of the gatekeeper to full acceptance.

The gate was closed…slammed in his face.

I can do as I will, but they will not allow him to be one of them…even though they found sanctuary in the same place, in the same way.

He still comes and gets fed, he loves being petted and spoken to…but he knows he’s not accepted by anyone but me.

I will always go out to him if he can’t come to me because of the gatekeepers.

Gatekeepers.

I’ve seen more than a few humans who function the same way.

They want the strays, the battered, the homeless, to stay over there, out of sight.

They will only extend mercy if it keeps them clean from the defilement of the lost.

They don’t want them in the house.

They were once what they despise now.

The owner of the house is not pleased with them.

Make your own application…

 

Jul 222016
 

For the sake maintaining an environment where discussion is at least mostly civil, I’m calling a moratorium on politics here. 

The only exception will be those discussions where we explore those places where faith and politics intersect…even then, the demand will be for civility.

After reading the Republican platform and watching some of the convention, I know that I would have the hardest time of all to not bring a flame thrower to the barbecue.

The Democrats aren’t going to make me any more irenic.

Communities, churches, and families are being divided this year by politic rhetoric…I won’t have it here.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

Jul 212016
 

tshirt_design_our_fatherIntroducing The Lord’s Prayer: Who Can Pray?

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

One of my fondest memories from my youth is of my parents taking my sister and me down to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf to buy fresh live Dungeness crab from one of the outdoor crab markets. I love the taste of Dungeness crab. Unfortunately, Dungeness crab is not easily obtainable or affordable here in Iowa. On the other hand, imitation crab – a processed fish product shaped and colored to look like crab meat – is cheap and easy to find at the local grocery store and on many restaurant menus (sans the word “imitation”).

If you have never eaten authentic fresh crab meat, then imitation crab meat might fool you or at least appear as a reasonable substitute. But if you ever are fortunate enough to experience the taste of fresh crab meat, then you may decide you can no longer suffer the imitation. Often, one can only discover what is lacking in the imitation by finding (or tasting) what is present in the authentic.

So it is with prayer. Anyone can make up a prayer to a god or an idol, using words that sound pious and religious, and with sincerity and apparent spirituality; but such prayers are empty imitations because they are not commanded or heard by or pleasing to the one God who created the Universe. True prayer, by contrast, is communion with that God. In Matthew Chapter 6 and Luke Chapter 11, Jesus taught his disciples not only how to pray to God, but also how to distinguish true prayer from the empty imitation. Therefore, before we begin our meditations on The Lord’s Prayer, let us first review two important issues regarding prayer, which will help us to distinguish true prayer from the empty imitation:

(1) Who can pray? and

(2) What is prayer?

Having this background in mind will magnify our understanding of the wisdom behind The Lord’s Prayer.

(1) Who can pray?

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1a)

All true prayer must conform to the first two Commandments of the Decalogue: (1) “You shall have no other gods” (Deut 5:7); and (2) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Deut 5:11). What this means, first and foremost, is that there is only one worthy recipient of true prayer: God who has revealed himself to us through the inspired writings of the Holy Bible.

Prayer involves the entire Triune God. Christians pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, to pray to God, one must be a Christian. Similarly, a Christian, in fidelity to the first two Commandments, would not join in a prayer proffered by a non-Christian. This may sound harsh, narrow-minded or intolerant by religious pluralists and secularists. However, only Christians have a prayer-enabling relationship with God.

Before anyone can pray, the Holy Spirit, working through the Gospel, must first engender faith in an individual’s heart that God has forgiven all his or her sins because Jesus took them all upon himself and into death on a cross to redeem the Christian for adoption into God’s family. Faith then receives God’s peace, grace and mercy, enabling the Christian to approach God in prayer, as a trusting child approaches his or her loving father, as Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans: you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Rom 8:15)

We should note, before moving on, that Christians do not have the Spirit of adoption on the basis of their own worthiness or merit. Their relationship with God is a pure act of grace, a gift from God made possible entirely by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To attribute any worthiness or merit to oneself would signify the absence of the Spirit of adoption in that person, because such an attitude would be a rejection of God’s grace and of Jesus’ sacrifice.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:14-16)

Jesus is not only our Redeemer and Lord; He is also our High Priest who intercedes for us and sanctifies our prayers before the Father. Jesus’ intercession on our behalf with regard to our prayers is very important because our own thoughts and desires are disordered by sin. Left on our own, we might ask for things which are harmful to us or others, or fail to ask for the very things we actually need. Therefore, Jesus intercedes for us even in our prayers so that we should never worry about our own unworthiness to pray, or making an imperfect prayer or asking for the wrong things. Simply put, we are to draw near the throne of grace with confidence that the Father both hears and answers our prayers for our good because Jesus is always interceding on our behalf.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” (John 16:23b)

Jesus also gives us His name in which to pray. This reinforces our family relationship with God and signifies Jesus’ promise to us that that the Father will hear our prayers with the same affection as if spoken from the lips of Jesus himself. Only a Christian can pray in the name of Jesus, and only prayer which is sanctified by Jesus will be heard by and pleasing to the Father. Praying in the name of Jesus encourages us to call upon the Father in full confidence, at all times and for all our needs.

Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Heb 13:15) Amen.

 

Next week, we will review the second background question: What is prayer?

Copyright © 2016 Jean Dragon – All rights reserved.

Jul 202016
 

notificationsSo my family embarks on vacation in a few days. 

It is an annual endeavor that we have undertaken every year since my wife and I married and we thank God for providing the means and ability to do so.  It is a time we all look forward to very much.

We are going to Williamsburg, Virginia, again.  We have been there several times before and continue to go back because we have semi-regular arrangements for a stay there and we like much of what there is to see and do in the area.

Of course, we do the amusement parks for the kids as they would be quite disappointed if we didn’t.  I confess I like them, too.  Among other things, we usually do Colonial Williamsburg and this year we are also planning to take in the history of Jamestown and Yorktown.

I love going through the living history museum that is Colonial Williamsburg and seeing and learning what life was like in the 18th century.  My kids may be more enamored with playing in the mud pit at the Brick Maker or counting how many deposits of horse manure they spot in the streets while my wife longs to peruse the shops, but I savor watching the Blacksmith work his craft or learning how meals were prepared or taking in how government was conducted in the Capitol building.  I look forward to taking in even more things of the like in Jamestown and Yorktown.

 I yearn for a simpler time.  No, the Colonials did not have anywhere near the comforts and conveniences back in those days as we have today.  In many ways they worked much harder than we do these days, at least from a physical perspective.  If I had to be a blacksmith or a servant toiling over the open fires in the kitchen on these 100 degree and humid summer days, methinks my yearning would quickly come to an end. 🙂

And, yes, there were immoral and problematic issues that they dealt with that we don’t have to today.  Colonial Williamsburg does not hide the reality of slavery that was very much a part of the culture.  And the tensions and violence leading up to and through the Revolution did not make life easy.

However, I still have the yearning for that overall simpler time.  When there were no phones or tv or internet or multi-billion dollar corporations.  When we didn’t know all the ills of the world.  When there weren’t a million different activities going on at once.  When there wasn’t such constant pressure to meet the bottom line.

We’ve talked about it here before, including even a bit on my post last week. 

It often seems like we weren’t made for this.  We weren’t made to have this constant stimulation around us 24/7, with perpetual notifications that something is happening.  Where we instantly learn of innumerable tragedies that happen around the world and have manifest access to the intimate and heart-wrenching details of many of them.  Where we learn the dirt on so many of our leaders and pastors and even neighbors.  Where we run ourselves ragged getting involved in so many activities and circumstances demanded by others and our even own consciences while concurrently feeling guilty about the myriad of other opportunities that we pass by.

In many ways it’s not apparent that we were made for all of this.  Every age of time has had its challenges, some of them presumptively unique.  One of our unique challenges is dealing with everything that we can know and do nowadays. 

Our souls do not seem capable of handling it all.

And yet, this is where God has placed us.  He knew what things would be like today when He created this world.  He knew about not only today, but all the days that are yet to come before His Return.  He didn’t make a mistake and forget to return before our psyches became irreparably overwhelmed.

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia.  For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.  But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.  He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”  2 Corinthians 1:8-10

Our afflictions, our struggles, our challenges may be different than those of Paul. 

The cure is not.

Jul 192016
 

timthumb.phpFive ways Christians can respond to terror attacks…

The sexual revolution and the witness of the church…

Carl Trueman on the California LGBTQ curriculum…

Shame the strong or influence the influencers?

Is it time to get rid of beauty pageants?

A Chance encounter with joy…

What church does Mike Pence belong to?

Methodists defy ban, elect gay bishop…

Christian reporter tackles Ham’s Ark…

Russia, the other Christian nation…

Driscoll’s new church…

Wounded reconcilers…

MacArthur’s imbalanced view of pastoral ministry…

When a celebrity preacher killed a man in his own church…

24 years of sexual misconduct by evangelist…

The Great Exchange…

The Virgin and The Donald…

Why do I still feel guilty?

Trends in church architecture…part 1 and part 2

Josh Harris changes mind about courtship…

Religiously unaffiliated now biggest voting bloc…

The fiery trial…

The state of the world…

How do I deal with my racist dad?

11 reasons to keep screens out of the sanctuary…

The gender inclusive Bible debate…

Huge thanks as always to EricL… support him at top right.

 

%d bloggers like this: