Podcast: How do we keep our focus on the gospel when reading and studying the New Testament? Brian and I discuss on the latest episode of The Hero of the Story.
But for Christians, doing this means having a unique perspective on time, one informed by God’s Word. The Christian should, then, view time through the lens of Scripture and have that perspective shaped by a few key truths:
People often over-celebrate the early church in a veiled attack on the present church. “The church today is lame, too organized, not free-wheeling enough.” They look back on the early church and crave those early days. But Solomon tells us not to do such a thing. “Don’t say, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’” (Ecclesiastes 7:10).
So, you who want to go back to the early church, let me ask you a question…
My personal “surprise” in reading the book was caused by the discovery that Lewis’s account contained experiences with which I could loosely identify. The simple reason—one for which I am not proud—is that as a young person I, too, had rejected the Christian faith. It was reassuring to learn that Lewis had experienced an unconventional journey of faith similar to the one I had experienced. Not everyone becomes a Christian by going forward at an evangelistic altar call in a church or camp. God sometimes chases people down in very surprising ways.
I’ve always loved studying; my first foray into biblical studies came when my mom bought me an introduction to the Old Testament when I was thirteen. I devoured the book and started reading any commentary I could get my hands on. At the same time, I’ve often struggled with having a consistent “quiet time.” Sometimes I’m no good at praying; sometimes I’m no good at picking up the Bible and reading through it. I’m largely distrustful of “devotional” books. Something about the genre just tends to irritate me, and I realize the fault is most likely with me. Like one of my professors once told me, “If a lot of other people find something helpful or interesting, and you don’t, the problem is probably not with all the other people.”
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. (Ps. 127:1–5a)
This psalm reveals our desperation in parenting, our goal in parenting, our resources in parenting, and our hope in parenting.
It can be difficult to wrench yourself away from the computer when you still feel like working. But it’s healthy to have defined limits determined by objective plans more than by moment-by-moments feelings. If I go home at 5 p.m. even when I feel like I could keep working, for instance, I almost inevitably have more energy the next day. Taking Sabbath rest well requires discipline and intentionality. Again, paradoxically, rest is hard work.
A favorite from the archives:
Last week, I was listening to a few messages by a guy who leads a great big church. Nice guy—very warm and friendly in his style. One of the things I could tell about him right away was he really cared about his hearers living better lives. By that, I don’t mean rolling into church in a shinier car and makin’ it rain when it’s time to pass the plate, but to live wisely and responsibly.
He had myths to expose, principles to explain, actions to take. He even peppered in a reference to a Bible story or two and brought things around to a verse at the end. He offered lots of good advice—sound advice that if you were to follow, really would help you live a better life, and maybe be a better person.
And rarely have I been more heartbroken than when listening to his talks.