Every breath is a gift of immeasurable grace

every breath

It’s easy (and tempting at times) to look at the world and consider a “hunker down in the bunker” mentality. The world, after all,  is a pretty messed up place. Western nations seem to be racing back to the decadence and depravity of 1st century Rome. Terrorists are destroying cultural artifacts and murdering people throughout the Middle East. It’s no surprise that there are some who are fully expecting God to rain down fire any moment—and even more who are surprised that he hasn’t already!

But even as we watch the world seemingly go to hell in a hand basket (as some might flippantly put it), even as we see things get progressively worse from a certain point of view, we should remember that the very fact that we’re around at this moment is purely an act of God’s grace.

God could have destroyed the world immediately upon the first man and woman’s fall into sin. He could have ended it all right then and there, and possibly even have started afresh. Why he didn’t, we don’t know. But we do know, as Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, “that God decided, in His own inscrutable and eternal will, not to do so.” Lloyd-Jones continued:

How can the world go on existing at all in sin? The answer is that it is kept in existence by this power that the Spirit puts into it. It is the Spirit who keeps the world going. Human life is prolonged both in general and in particular. ‘The goodness of God,’ says Paul in Romans 2:4, ‘leadeth thee to repentance.’ Peter says the same thing in his second epistle: ‘The Lord … is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish that all should come to repentance’ (2 Pet. 3:9). God is patient and long-suffering; to Him a thousand years are as one day and one day as a thousand years. He keeps the world going by the Holy Spirit instead of pronouncing final judgment. (God the Holy Spirit, 26–27)

That last line in particular is extremely important. God “keeps the world going by the Holy Spirit instead of pronouncing final judgment.” And this is why God has not yet deemed it time to pronounce his final judgment: he is pouring out his grace upon the world so that all who would turn to him, will. He is patient and long-suffering not because he needs to, but because he is good.

In other words, every breath is a gift of immeasurable grace. Thus, every one of us breathing right now—including every single one of us who acts as though God doesn’t exist or who worships some sort of false god—owes each breath to God. It is a gift of grace to all, just as it rains upon the just and unjust alike. This grace has a purpose, that it would ultimately lead you to give thanks to the one who gives it. But this grace has a limit. Someday, the time will come when his patience reaches its limit. He will pronounce his final judgment. Will we be ready?

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Amazon’s Big Deal sale is now on, with tons of great eBooks on sale. Here are a few standouts:

Several volumes of the Holman Commentary series are also on sale for $1.99 each:

Today is also the last day to take advantage of this week’s eBook deals from Crossway:

 The Nine Types Of Christians You Meet On Facebook

Yep.

Cage-Stage Calvinism

R.C. Sproul:

Cage-stage Calvinists are identifiable by their insistence on turning every discussion into an argument for limited atonement or for making it their personal mission to ensure everyone they know hears—often quite loudly—the truths of divine election. Now, having a zeal for the truth is always commendable. But a zeal for the truth that manifests itself in obnoxiousness won’t convince anyone of the biblical truth of Reformed theology. As many of us can attest from personal experience, it will actually push them away.

A Good Mentor Points Out the Cliffs

Mike Leake:

This is why we need mentors. We need people who have felt the pull of the plummet. We need those who have tasted the lustrous fruit and found it empty—men and women who know where the edge of the cliff is to be found.

Why Can’t the Church Just Agree to Disagree on Homosexuality?

Kevin DeYoung:

All of these third ways regarding homosexuality end up the same way: a behavior the Bible does not accept is treated as acceptable. “Agree to disagree” sounds like a humble “meet you in the middle” com­promise, but it is a subtle way of telling conservative Christians that homosexuality is not a make-or-break issue and we are wrong to make it so. No one would think of proposing a third way if the sin were racism or human trafficking. To countenance such a move would be a sign of moral bankruptcy. Faithfulness to the Word of God compels us to view sexual immorality with the same seriousness. Living an ungodly life is contrary to the sound teaching that defines the Christian (1 Tim. 1:8-11; Titus 1:16). Darkness must not be confused with light. Grace must not be confused with license. Unchecked sin must not be con­fused with the good news of justification apart from works of the law. Far from treating sexual deviance as a lesser ethical issue, the New Testament sees it as a matter for excommuni­cation (1 Corinthians 5), separation (2 Cor. 6:12-20), and a temptation for perverse compromise (Jude 3-16).

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Every story casts his shadow

Love this new promo for the Gospel Project:

How Deep the Root of Racism?

Thabiti Anyabwile:

In the last couple of weeks we’ve gotten a good glimpse into the root system of racism. We thought we could stick the racists into the country’s past, next to a post marked “obsolete,” and gladly forget about it. But the roots of racism run deep. That’s why an entire police department and many others appear shot through with indications of that insidious root system. That’s why we’re now inundated with reports of municipal governments and court systems complying with police to raise revenue on the backs of African Americans. And that’s why we’re watching youtube videos of students on college campuses—both secular and Christian—engaging in acts that are at least stupid and insensitive and in some cases plainly racist.

A Good [Wo]man is Easy to Find

Lore Ferguson:

In my Christian life I have rarely been without a multitude of counselors to mentor and lend me wisdom. I know that is not the portion of every person and many men and women long for godly, older people to invest in and guide them. I do not take these gifts lightly. Here are few thoughts about mentoring that I’ve picked up along the way.

9 Marks of an Unhealthy Church

Kevin DeYoung:

In one sense the nine marks of an unhealthy church could simply be the opposite of all that makes for a healthy church, so that unhealthy churches ignore membership and discipline and expository preaching and all the rest. But the signs of church sickness are not always so obvious. It’s possible for your church to teach and understand all the right things and still be a terribly unhealthy place. No doubt, there are dozens of indicators that a church has become dysfunctional and diseased. But let’s limit ourselves to nine.

Making it Clearer

Jeremy Walker:

Let us not swallow the illusion of a scholarly objectivity when it comes to the truth of God. It is not gracious to call compromise “ecumenism.” It is cruel. It is misguided. It is not gracious to give error a free platform. It is dangerous. It is mistaken. Error needs to be exposed and denied. Truth needs to be explained and applied.

When should we use harsh language?

harsh-language

Yesterday, I shared a bit about how we can be more thoughtful literary evangelists. Toward the end, I made the comment that fiery rhetoric and angry polemics don’t win people, but genuine love and compassion just might. This is something I’ve increasingly been convicted about in recent years, particularly as I think back on ways I’ve spoken in the past that have been utterly foolish.

But this doesn’t mean there aren’t times to use harsh language. In fact, there are times when the only proper response is to be extremely harsh. (Granted these are rare, but they still exist.) So… how do we know when we should and when we shouldn’t? Here are three principles that I believe help us determine whether or not it is appropriate to use harsh language:

1. Is it about my sins and failings? This is something we see Paul in particular model well, as he directs many of his harshest comments toward his own attempts to attain righteousness apart from Christ, which he describes with a Greek word that could be translated as harshly as a word that will make some readers unsubscribe1 (Philippians 3:8). He describes himself as the least of the apostles, the least of all the saints, and even the chief of sinners. He doesn’t hesitate to look at himself very seriously, and doesn’t feel the need to make a compliment sandwich.

Likewise, it is important for us, even as we remind ourselves of God’s grace, that we not sugarcoat our own personal sin. Call it what it is. Don’t mess around with it. Don’t treat it as a pet. Name it and commit to destroying it.

2. Am I addressing sin within the body of believers? This, again, is a time when harsh language is appropriate, but we are wise to temper with grace. Paul’s epistles model this brilliantly, as do the writings of the prophets, particularly Jeremiah. In 1-2 Corinthians, for example, we see Paul chastise the Corinthian church for allowing heinous sin of all sorts, including participating in false worship and perverse sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 10:14-22). But he also continually points them back to the source of their only hope, which is Christ.

This again, is a helpful reminder for us, whether we are involved in one-to-one discipleship, small groups, or pastoral ministry in some capacity. Though, again, we should be reluctant to do so, we should be very willing to call attention to habitual sin (whether personal or corporate) that is damaging to the entire group.

3. Am I confronting a false teacher who is leading Christians astray? Again, Paul is helpful here. Consider the way he writes to the Galatians about the errors they’ve let seep into the church. He makes it absolutely clear that any teaching that would distort the gospel is the most vile and damnable evil, for example, and that if they’re so intent on practicing the Mosaic Law as a means of attaining righteousness then they should emasculate themselves (Galatians 1:8-9; 5:12). Jesus likewise warns that anyone who would seek to lead his disciples astray would be better off tying a millstone to his neck and jump to his death than face what Jesus has waiting for him (Matthew 18:6). That’s some pretty serious business, isn’t it? (And don’t even get me going on his letters to the churches in Revelation…)

Here is where I think it’s fair to be the least apologetic about using our harshest language. There should be no quarter for heretical teaching whatsoever. If something is wrong, call it out as wrong, whether someone is saying every day is a Friday, your salvation depends on you, or God’s going to make it rain sweet moolah all over your house if you just send in a fat cheque “sow a seed”:

colbert-make-it-rain

*ahem*

But one should be careful in considering how to handle the teacher him- or herself. Without giving room for their teaching, we should remember that ad hominems have no place in the Christian life. Instead, we might be wiser to take the same stance Jude advocates when he reminds us that the archangel Michael didn’t directly rebuke Satan, but instead said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

4. Practice restraint. Jesus, Paul, the rest of the Apostles, the prophets… They all constantly confront the errors found among God’s people and those who think they’re God’s people. And in these instances, there are no caveats, no hesitations, no nothing. But rarely do they direct harsh language toward the lost. To these, they come with kindness, gentleness, and compassion, even as they challenge their way of thinking and their way of believing. So here’s my point: Harsh language, in general, is something that should be used rarely and with great reluctance. As a general rule, if you find yourself eager to do it, you probably shouldn’t, and it’s better to err on the side of turning aside wrath with a gentle word (Proverbs 15:1).

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

The Ulrich von Liechtenstein Gospel

Paul Dunk:

I think we can relate to William. We want to be the Ulrich von Liechtenstein’s of our families, careers and relationships. We want to be the Ulrich von Liechtenstein of physical, emotional and spiritual health. We want the Ulrich von Liechtenstein good life.  As a result of chasing the dream via self-help-everything to transform ourselves from lowly Williams into Ulrich von Liechtenstein’s, we’ve developed an Ulrich von Liechtenstein gospel.

You don’t have to go

Matt Emerson

As a younger Southern Baptist who is also drawn to liturgical worship forms, I have to ask – is this move necessary? Is the only option for SBCers who feel affinity with liturgy and principled ecumenism to leave, for Canterbury or Geneva or Wittenberg? I believe the answer is no. Younger Southern Baptists, if you are drawn to liturgical forms, if you find attractive the principled evangelical ecumenism of other manifestations of Christ’s body, you can have that in Nashville. You can stay in the SBC. You don’t have to go.

6 Reasons Why Sexual Predators Target Churches

Tim Challies shares six from On Guard by Deepak Reju.

4 Types of Sermons to Avoid

Derek Thomas reminds of a number of different kinds of sermons that fail to, in Alec Motyer’s words, “display what is there.”

The Dreadful Loneliness of Life Without Scripture

Peter Jones:

 On a recent Oprah Winfrey show, Kristen and Rob Bell make a lavish use of “values language,” in an attempt to justify same sex marriage. Kristen stated: “Marriage, gay and straight, is a gift to the world because the world needs more not less love, fidelity, commitment, devotion and sacrifice.” Who does not want to see more love in the world, but do the terms like “love,” “commitment” and sacrifice” need a lot more definition? Do the millions watching Oprah deserve a better defense of biblical sexuality? Indeed, the “made-for-TV” superficiality of these arguments is staggering and is part of the trend in certain evangelical circles mentioned in my previous comment Evangelicalism in Crisis? to accept the homosexual agenda as perfectly in line with the true meaning of Christianity.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

This week’s Kindle deals from Crossway are focused on apologetics:

Get all of them, if you can.

Why Jerram Barrs read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows six times in six months

This is really interesting:

HT: Justin Taylor

A Good Prayer before Preaching

Erik Raymond:

Moses knew himself, a dying man preaching to dying men (to use Baxter’s phrase). As a result, he did not long for such temporal and base things like what the crowd would think of him, how they would remember him, or how he would feel saying what needed to be said. Instead, he pleaded the living word of the living God! And in his prayer he struck the flint for God to light up his people with an awareness of God’s awesomeness and sin’s repulsiveness. Oh, that more preachers would preach a deep awareness of their own mortality as well as God’s eternality!

On the word “porn”

Douglas Groothuis encourages us to only use this word for what it actually communicates.

Let’s Bring Conversation Back

Jonathan Parnell:

Conversation has fallen on hard times.

Let’s face it, most of us find talking to strangers to be a rarity. This is our new societal reality. The in-between moments of life — running errands and picking up carry-out — are now filled with checking our mobile devices. We’d rather scroll through our Twitter feed than venture out with the risky words of a bygone era, “Hi, what’s your name?” But more than that, when we actually make plans for conversation apart from business, it can sound more like a threat than an invitation.

The way Christians live

one-step

Don’t worry about the future. In fact, don’t worry at all. This is one of the most challenging things the Bible tells us—and consequently, one of the ways we most struggle to obey Christ. It’s so easy to become anxious. To worry. To play the what-if game.

Or is it just me?

So how do we get out of this pattern? What does it take to end the cycle of anxiety and worry? Of trying to predict all things before they happen? It takes a right perspective, one that comes only when our eyes are set upon the Lord. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains in his exposition of Psalm 16:8:

How do we feel as we look into the future? What is going to happen? I do not know; nobody knows. I shall not waste your time trying to predict what will happen or telling politicians and statesmen what they ought to do in order to govern the future. I am in no position to do that, and I know of nobody else who occupies a pulpit, whatever position he may hold as an ecclesiastic, who is in a position to do so. I have a much higher calling. My business is to prepare you for whatever may happen. We do not know what that may be. Look back over the past year and consider the things that have happened to you. How many of them did you predict? How many of them did you anticipate?

I thank God that as Christian people we do not need to know the future. Christians should never desire to do so. Christians live in this way: one step at a time. And this principle, if they put it into operation, will enable them to say, “Whatever happens to me, I know that all will be well, because ‘he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.’ ” Come what may, “I shall not be moved” because I am living in the light of this principle: “I have set the Lord always before me.” (Seeking the Face of God, 141)

“I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken,” David wrote. And David knew of what he wrote. He suffered through tremendous difficulties and trials. He often ran for his life. He frequently made his bed in caves. But he could write “I shall not be shaken” because the Lord was with him.

And this is true of the Lord Jesus, as well. He suffered beyond anything we can imagine—being rejected by those he came to save, being sentenced to death, feeling the wrath of God poured out upon him… becoming sin, though in himself there was no sin. Yet, he was not shaken, for his Father was always before him.

This is the way Christians are to live. And because he was before Christ, and because we are in Christ, he is before us, as well. So do not worry about tomorrow. Take today one step at a time.

Links I like (weekend edition)

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is the last day to take advantage of this week’s deals from Crossway:

4 Marks of a Good Mentor

Mike Leake:

The younger we are in our faith the more likely we are to view God like Monty Hall. I’ve especially noticed this in working with teenagers. They stress out (and in someway rightly so) about big decisions like where to go to college, who to marry, how to get rid of zits, and what career to strive for.

SaskatcheWHAT?

This is clever:

Let Boys be Non-Medicated Boys

Greg Gibson:

My story is a common story for many boys. I talk with parents often about their intentions in medicating with Ritalin. I get it. They want their boys to succeed, have good grades, and not get in trouble, but there is a considerable complication with this manner of thinking. Sometimes, though, it might be needed. For instance, there are times when this sort of medication is medically necessary. I’m not a doctor, and I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know all the ins and outs, but I do think that because we live in a fallen world, there are cases where it might be needed. Even the goodness of boyhood energy is broken by the fall. But in most cases, I think we are getting the diagnosis wrong.

But if I Preach Christ in Every Text

David Prince:

Hands immediately began to go in the air with questions that presuppose preaching Christ in every sermon can only be done at the expense of credible exegesis and hermeneutics. Students begin to ask questions like: If we preach Christ in every text how can we avoid allegory? What if the text isn’t about Christ? What if the sermon is on a particular doctrine? What if the sermon is simply advocating a biblical moral principle? Will all of my sermons begin to sound the same if I preach Jesus every week?

Christian bakery that refused to make cakes for same-sex marriage closes

Fearing future legal battles, the owners of a successful Christian bakery in Indianapolis who declined to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples have decided to shut down their business.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is also $5 Friday at Ligonier, where you’ll find a number of great resources for sale, including:

  • Romans by R.C. Sproul (ePub)
  • Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible (ePub) 
  • Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching (hardcover)
  • Knowing Scripture teaching series by R.C. Sproul (DVD)

$5 Friday ends at 11:59:59 tonight.

Paganism in today’s culture

This is an excellent talk by Peter Jones:

What Are We After?

Aaron Earls:

Because I’m concerned that too many Christians do not actually long for Christ to work in our present culture, but rather are more concerned with Him bringing back a previous one. By that I mean, the primary desire of many is the idealized culture of the “good ol’ days,” not a biblically faithful modern day.

Who are “the least of these”?

This is a really good article.

Can We Really Be Free from Excessive Fears?

Jon Bloom:

But for most of us, fear often does not function as it was designed. It is not under the governance of our trust in God and therefore wields an excessive, distorting influence over our thinking and behaviors. If fear is misplaced we think and act wrongly. Misplaced fear becomes a tyrant that imposes constrictive limits and leaves us debilitated in some or much of our lives. Under its rule we don’t do what we know we should because we are afraid.

We all desire to be free of this tyrant. But is this possible? Can we really be free from excessive fears? Jesus’s answer is yes.

The Secret Shame of Abortion in the Church

Julie Roys:

According to the Guttmacher Institute, one in every five women who gets an abortion identifies as a born-again, evangelical, charismatic, or fundamentalist Christian. Given that more than a million women abort each year in the US, this means a staggering 200,000 Bible-believing Christians annually. And according to Christian ministries working with this population, a vast majority of them will never reveal their secret.

In interviews with about a dozen post-abortive Christian women, I heard each say they deeply regret their abortions and experienced profound emotional and spiritual trauma as a result. Without a place to confess and seek recovery, women who’ve had abortions remain shackled by fear, grief, and guilt.

Links I like

Links

What Difference Does an Inerrant Bible Make?

R.C. Sproul:

Does it matter whether the Bible is errant or inerrant, fallible or infallible, inspired or uninspired? What’s all the fuss about the doctrine of inerrancy? Why do Christians debate this issue? What difference does an inerrant Bible make?

What if Wes Anderson directed X-Men?

Stunning:

New Spurgeon bio by John Piper

20 years ago, John Piper shared a message drawing from the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. Now, Desiring God has turned it into a small book, Charles Spurgeon: Preaching Through Adversity, which you can get for free.

How Do We Engage Someone Who is Neglecting the Gathering?

Good advice from Lore Ferguson.

We Are Called to be Irritating

Erik Raymond:

Christians are commanded to consider (pay attention to, be concerned for, look after, etc) someone and something. We are to be concerned for one another. This is a church directive for body life. And, we are to be concerned with stirring each other up.

What does this mean? It is an interesting word that means to irritate, provoke, or even exasperate. It’s actually used most frequently in a negative sense as in provoking someone to anger or irritation.

You Don’t Need a Bucket List

Randy Alcorn:

The term “bucket list” was popularized by the 2007 movie of that name. It’s an inventory of things people want to do before they “kick the bucket.” The idea is, since our time on earth is limited, if something is important for us to do, we have to do it now, because this is our only chance to do it.

This makes sense from a naturalistic worldview, one which doesn’t recognize any afterlife. It also makes sense from various religious worldviews that maintain there may be existence after death, but without resurrection and physical properties, and with no continuity between this life and the next. The one worldview in which the bucket list makes no sense is biblical Christianity.

Links I like

Links

Free resources for March

This month’s free book for Logos Bible Software is 1 Corinthians by Roy Harrisville. Over at Christian Audio, you can get The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel free (along with a number of other titles reduced to $4.98).

Free Gospel Project live event

Register here for Gospel. Life. Ministry, a live-streamed event hosted by The Gospel Project on May 11.

Concerning Those Crusty Calvinists

Mike Leake:

What I see is a growing movement of gracious Calvinism…at least in regards to how we relate to non-Calvinists and others who differ. I praise God for a growth of humble Calvinism. But I believe there is still room to grow as humble Christians. What I mean is that we’ve figured out how to be humble—or maybe appear humble—to those who aren’t Calvinists. But I wonder are we being gracious and seeking to help crusty Calvinists?

3 Muslim Misconceptions about Christians

JD Greear:

Many obstacles stand in the way of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus—theological confusion and the cost of conversion being two of the most daunting. And of course the most common reason why Muslims are not coming to Christ is that most have simply never heard the gospel.

How Honey Helps Us Taste God

Joe Rigney:

Why did God make honey so tasty and sweet? So that we would have some idea what wisdom is like (at least, that’s one reason). The sweetness of honey points beyond itself to the wisdom of God. Honey is “good,” and we are exhorted in Psalm 34 to “taste and see that the LORD is good!” Our souls have taste buds, just like our tongues, and we can train the soul-buds by exercising the tongue-buds. When we savor the sweetness of honey or sweet tea or pumpkin crunch cake, we engage in a fancy bit of “reading.” We transpose the physical enjoyment of taste onto our souls and offer thanks to God, not only for the simple pleasures of food but also for the spiritual pleasures to which the food is but a fitting echo.

You’ll want these stock images

How could you not enjoy using Vince Vaughn in a business-y editorial blog post?

George Verwer’s Conversion

Justin Taylor:

To say that George Verwer Jr. (b. 1938) has a larger-than-life personality is probably an understatement. It would have been obvious if you could have seen him running around at Ramsey High School in Ramsey, New Jersey. Of the thousand or so students at the school, George stood out.

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

B&H’s Perspectives series is on sale for $2.99 each:

Also on sale:

Misconceptions from the Internet

3 Reasons Why Your Church Should Hire a Millennial

Chris Martin raises an interesting point here.

Why children don’t think there are moral facts

A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:

Fact: Something that is true about a subject and can be tested or proven.

Opinion: What someone thinks, feels, or believes.

Your Facebook Gender Can Now Be Anything You Want.

And the march toward Oneism continues…

Do You Love Books More Than People?

Kevin Halloran:

Books may seem preferable because we can control them. They don’t bother us with problems or need special attention. Books are good, but they are a means to which we perform our duty of loving others by feeding our flock God’s Word. How do we know when our love for people is not where it should be?

Links I like

Links

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Crossway’s put a number of titles for women on sale:

Also on sale:

What is Your “Go-To” Pitch?

Erik Raymond (now blogging at TGC, incidentally):

As Christians we have something of a spiritual go-to pitch. When we are in a jam or need answers we shake off other pitches in favor of what we think will get the job done. Whether at work or in the home, physical or emotional, in the church or in your neighborhood—we get into jams. What do we do?

10 tips for making a great cup of tea

This is for all the tea lovers out there.

The Two Guys to Blame for the Myth of Constant Warfare between Religion and Science

Justin Taylor:

No one deserves more blame for this stubborn myth than these two men:

  • Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), the founding president of Cornell University, and
  • John William Draper (1811-1882), professor of chemistry at the University of New York.

“What Season Was Adam Created in?” And Other Questions That Make Us Giggle

Derek Rishmawy:

How many of you would think to ask the question and argue at length over the question of “What season was the world created?” I mean, really, was it spring, fall, winter, or summer when Adam popped up in the Garden of Eden? Were the leaves just turning red, gold, and brown, or were they newly in flower? Was it harvest time, or were the flowers just blooming? Would Adam have to knit a sweater soon, or were things nice and balmy? Or maybe Eden was just perpetually living in summer–kind of like Orange County?

A Pattern Among Fallen Pastors

Garrett Kell:

Prof’s study was of 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period of time. As far as he could discern, these full-time clergy were men who were born again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an extra marital affair.

The secret to spiritual health

David Murray-happy christian (1)

One of the many books I’m reading (though neglecting at the moment due to trying to keep on top of my school reading) is David Murray’s delightful new book, The Happy Christian. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about reading this book, aside from its the fittingly positive approach, is the reminder that spiritual health and happiness doesn’t come from looking to ourselves, or pursuing your best life now. We become spiritually healthy when we stop looking at ourselves and start looking at our Lord. Murray writes:

I sometimes imagine that if only I can get the whole world, including God, to orbit around me as the center of the universe, I will be happy, but that’s the way to end up in a black hole. By putting God’s Word and works at the center of our religious experience, of our Bible reading, our preaching, our worship, and our churches, we begin to orbit around the heat and light of His divine Son.

It seems to defy common sense, doesn’t it? Surely if I have a problem, I need to focus on myself to get that fixed. That may be the case with medical issues. But with spiritual issues, the remedy can be found only by looking away from self to God. That’s why Bible reading that keeps asking, “What does this reveal about God?” will put us and keep us in the trajectory of spiritual health and strength. God’s person and God’s works will cure us of over-focusing on ourselves and our works. (54)

A spiritually health—and happy—person looks not to him- or herself, but to God. When reading the Bible, the question is not, “what does this say about me,” or “how can applying this help improve my life?” Instead, when we reorient ourselves to first ask, “What does this reveal about God,” as Murray suggests, we will find answers that are far more satisfying—and find ourselves satisfied as a result.