photo credit: @dino via photopin cc

photo credit: @dino via photopin cc

The release of the “Torture Report” last week generated heated discussion about the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques by the CIA on detainees in the aftermath of 9/11. 49% of Americans believe these techniques are torture, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll. Since 59% of all Americans approve of the measures, some who would call this torture believe it was justified. White evangelical Christians constitute the largest group of people who endorse the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. 69% of white Evangelicals said they believed these techniques were necessary while only 20% opposed them. The author of the survey comments that this is roughly the breakdown of Republican versus Democrats among white Evangelicals.

The reason this number astounds me is that the Senate report confirms that as many as one quarter of the detainees were not guilty of anything. When questioned about this on Meet the Press Sunday Dick Cheney said he had no problem with this fact whatsoever, commenting that he would do it again “as long as we achieve our objective.” Apparently American Evangelicals endorse this sentiment.

What we have is another case of American Evangelicalism’s thinking being shaped more by FoxNews and political talk radio than by the Bible. Christians endorsing the use of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques sound more like Dwight Schrute from The Office who said  “Better a thousand innocent men are locked up than one guilty man roam free” than they do a people who have been shaped by the author of Genesis who said, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Evangelicals, who are fighting to tooth and nail against Common Core, claiming they don’t want their children brainwashed by evolutionary teaching are applying evolutionary theory to the way we view the treatment of prisoners. Was Gul Rahman, who froze to death while chained to a wall made in the image of God or was he an unfortunate mistake that will be made during the achievement of an objective? (By the way, Rahman was a case of “mistaken identity.) We have to take some long looks in our Bibles and in our mirrors and answer this question. Does our commitment to law and order justice trump our compassion for men and women made in the image of God? Does the possibility that a person might have information we want to know mean we are justified in locking them in a small box filled with insects? Are we okay treating the image bearers of God this way? Are we okay with people who might be innocent being on the receiving end of brutal, inhuman torture?

Some would object to my point by appealing to the teaching on civil governments in Romans 13. People who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear and the government bears the sword. I agree, but doesn’t this mean we should demand our government not use the sword on people who do not stand guilty of a crime? The government’s sword loses its effectiveness when it is wielded unjustly. For my friends who love to appeal to law and order, please remember that the mistreatment of those who are not guilty will ultimately undermine law and order.

A closer examination of the biblical text makes us reexamine our unqualified thumbs up for Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. First, there is the Bible’s teaching about the image of God in all people. Our belief that men and women bear the image of God has led Christians to take remarkable steps to serve our fellow man. It led Christians to push for the abolition of slavery and to care for the sick during the Plague even though it meant they could get sick themselves. This conviction motivates Christians to fly to Africa to care for Ebola patients and spurred the modern adoption movement. Then there has been the nearly half-century old pro-life movement. The truth that all are made in God’s image has driven our concern to see babies born rather than snuffed out in the womb. If this truth inspired those actions, then shouldn’t it form how we view the treatment of prisoners?

In addition there is the teaching of our Lord in the Gospels. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” With these words Jesus reminded us to treat other people as we want to be treated, recognizing we are all made in his image. Then even deeper are the words of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This verse plays an important role in the present discussion for Christians. As D.A Carson has noted, the loved of God described in this verse is not remarkable only because of the wideness of God’s love. The word “world” in John’s Gospel and letters often refers to the world united in sin against the will and command of God. That God loves the world shows us the depth of God’s love for those who have spent their lives running from him and rebelling against him. We marvel at God’s love not because it covers such a large number of people, but because it extends to a large number of people who have been so bad. If we believe in the love of God, how should that change the way we view other people? Should we not have compassion on the prisoner as Jesus taught in Matthew 25? Wouldn’t this especially apply to our compassion on the prisoner who is not guilty? Are we reflecting the love of God when we would rather see the innocent punished than the guilty go free?

Evangelical Christians in America have reached a crossroads. We cannot sound like the talking heads on cable news and Jesus at the same time. The stake is in the ground and our time of decision has arrived. We either believe people are made in the image of God and have been loved and died for by Jesus or we do not. If we believe men and women have been created in the image of God and are loved by him, then we must think through how that changes the way we treat people and the way we think people should be treated.

Related Posts:
Eric Garner and Our Disturbing Lack of Empathy
Resolution on Prison Reform in Alabama

For Further Reading:
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God by D.A. Carson
Love in Hard Places by D.A. Carson

A Few Good Reads

December 17, 2014 — 2 Comments
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

How to Use Your Home for Mission
We do not realize how much evangelism and discipleship can happen in our homes around a meal or on the back porch. The Bible commends the practice of hospitality to Christians for this reason. Dustin Willis offers some helpful thoughts on how our homes can be used for this purpose. “Hospitality gives us the opportunity to display the gospel to those we welcome into our homes. Hospitality at its essence is about allowing others to feel both loved and welcomed, which is what Jesus has modeled for us in His kindness toward us. One of the greatest weapons we have been given to fight against isolation is the home. How do we practically open our homes and begin to build community as we live on mission?”
The Churchill School of Adulthood Lesson- #2: Establish a Daily Routine
I benefit from many of the articles at The Art of Manliness. Recently they have been sharing thoughts on adulthood from Sir Winston Churchill. This post on establishing a daily routine encouraged me to sit down and sketch out how my ideal day should look from when I get up until when I go to bed. “Yet even though his day-to-day life was no longer structured by a schoolmaster or a superior officer, he did not in fact do away with having a daily schedule altogether. Instead, he created a routine he actually delighted in – because he had created it himself.”

The State Finds Against Parson Brown
Betsy Childs imagines what would happen to Parson Brown if he refused to perform a wedding because of the couple’s sexual orientation. “The Respondent’s claim that he is not “Parson Brown” fails to state a genuine issue of material fact because the U.S. Court of Appeals for this circuit has upheld the right of same-sex couples to redefine a snowman as a parson, priest, or rabbi. While a parson has traditionally been defined as a living human being ordained by a religious body to be a member of the clergy, New York State Law does not specifically require a parson to be a human or to be able to speak.”

Sacred Marriage
Gary Thomas explains how marriage was meant to make us both holy and happy. I worked through this book a few years ago getting ready for a sermon series on marriage and learned a lot from it. “Your marriage is much more than a union between you and your spouse. It is a spiritual discipline ideally suited to help you know God more fully and intimately. Sacred Marriage shifts the focus from marital enrichment to spiritual enrichment in ways that can help you love your mate more. Whether it is delightful or difficult, your marriage can become a doorway to a closer walk with God.”

photo credit: byb64 via photopin cc

photo credit: byb64 via photopin cc

These are not necessarily the best books I read that were published this year, but they were the best ones I have read. One of my goals this year was to read outside of my normal stream, and this list reflects that aim to a degree. While some of the books I list are not explicitly Christian, they informed how I live in the world as a follower of Christ. (While these are my favorite books from this year, you can see ten books that have stuck with me through the years here.)

Wendell Berry once said that a person with half an imagination does not need a movie version of a book. Read this book before you go see the movie when it comes out next week. Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic track star who joined the Navy during World War II. His plane was shot down and he floated at see for forty-seven days before being captured by the Japanese and imprisoned for several years. Finally she chronicles the turns his life took after he was released. I found myself crying and cheering throughout this book. Hillenbrand’s writing and Zamerpini’s story made for the best book I read this year.

Every January I read the biography of an inspiring Christian from the past. This was the first time I have read much about the man behind The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. Eric Metaxas guides readers through the life and times of Bonhoeffer. His faith in the face of difficulty and willingness to risk for the sake of what is right were inspiring. The narrative pace of this biography is gripping and I had a difficult time putting it down, even sacrificing sleep to continue reading a couple of nights. (You can read some of my other thoughts on Bonhoeffer here.)

I read almost everything Tim Keller writes because I learn much about life and ministry from him. In his latest book he helps readers develop a deeper understanding of prayer. From explaining what prayer is to walking through how to pray, Keller offers much wise counsel to anyone who will listen. The chapter on the Lord’s Prayer was the most helpful for me and I recommend this to anyone who has been struggling in their prayer life.

Jayber Crow
Diving into Wendell Berry’s fictional town of Port Williams reminded me of my childhood in southwest Alabama. The Port Williams novels follow the lives of the men and women who make up this community, and recount how community life has changed throughout the decades. I read five of these novels this year and this gem told from the perspective of the town barber was my favorite. Jayber Crow reminded me of the importance of community, a slow pace of life, and the danger of unthinkingly adopting the latest technology. If you want to get into this series, I also recommend Hannah Coulter and The Memory of Old Jack.

The Gospel
Writing in 9Marks “Building Healthy Churches” series, Ray Ortlund examines how the Gospel should affect the internal life of the church. Ortlund lays out the Gospel and then shows how this doctrine should create a particular kind of culture in our churches. If you read the New Testament you see all over how the way we treat each other should be marked by our belief in the Gospel and how our life together constitutes our witness to the watching world. The Gospel may become a once a year read for me. (My other once a year reads are Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome and The Supremacy of God in Preaching.)

Taking God at His Word
The doctrine of Scripture stays under constant attack in evangelicalism. Whether from sheer neglect or frontal assault, evangelicals risk running aground on many issues because of a poor understanding of what the Bible is. Kevin DeYoung walks through Psalm 119 to show what the Bible says about itself. Then he walks through the sufficiency, clarity, authority, and necessity of the Bible. Anyone struggling with confidence in Scripture would benefit from DeYoung’s work. (You can read my review here.)

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photo credit: JeepersMedia via photopin cc

When Riverchase United Methodist Church announced they would hold church services in a local Buffalo Wild Wings, they probably hoped to make a splash in the city of Hoover. I doubt they knew the move would inspire a top ten list on David Letterman and spawn endless debates on social media. People from different “camps” have had strong opinions about this decision. Some believe this is a revolutionary idea to reach more people because some in our culture don’t feel comfortable going into traditional church buildings. Others see this as taking the sacred into the secular or pandering to people as consumers.

On one level an idea like this should not bother us. Christians need to abandon the idea of holy buildings and holy sites. Our church buildings are not the New Testament fulfillment of the Old Testament temple. Jesus is. The temple was the place where people encountered the presence of God. Solomon’s immaculate temple ultimately pointed forward to Jesus, who is the dwelling place of God among men. We meet with God not in a physical building, but through Jesus who gave his life for us. The Old Testament dwelling place also typified how God would indwell his people through the Holy Spirit. Paul commands Christians in Corinth to abstain from sexual immorality because their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Then in Ephesians 2 he says the church is being built into a “holy temple to the Lord” reminding us that the Holy Spirit dwells in believers individually and together corporately in church. The Holy Spirit is present and active wherever the church of the living God meets together. He does not live in buildings, but in his people. When we keep this reality in mind, a church meeting in a sports bar should not bother us.

At the same time, we make a subtle mistake when we think that the best way to reach our culture is by changing where our church gathers for worship. For far too long churches have adopted a “come and see” approach to the faith. We think the best way to get people into the faith is to get them into our buildings through providing bigger and better experiences for them. Churches believe that by throwing on a pair of jeans, turning down the lights, and cranking up the volume we are going to appeal to people. There is no problem with jeans, low lights, or screaming guitars, but they symbolize our flawed thinking about how people are attracted to the Christian faith. Jesus told his followers the night before he died that “the world will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” The church’s witness to the community does not depend on our ability to get them into our worship gatherings. Instead we should focus on both proclaiming and living out the Gospel in our daily lives. This means our friends and neighbors will hear the message of the Gospel and see what it produces in our life together. When we live out the words of Jesus in John 13:35 we will not have to design creative worship experiences to get our culture’s attention, they will be asking us questions about the reason for the hope within us.

A church holding a worship gathering at Buffalo Wild Wings should remind us of a simple truth today. We do not go to church. We are the church. As God’s people our focus is not on holy sites or trying to get inventive to grab the attention of our culture. Our focus should be on living out and proclaiming the truths of the Gospel. When we do that we don’t have to try to gain the attention of our communities. They will take notice and ask questions about the hope that is in us.

Related Posts:
Pastors, Stop Overhyping Your Sundays
The ‘Reasons the Church Sucks’ Genre Has Got to Go

For Further Reading:
Everyday Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester
9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

A Few Good Reads

December 5, 2014 — Leave a comment
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photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

No, You Are Not Running Late. You Are Rude and Inconsiderate!
Our culture increasingly tolerates tardiness. The tendency of those who run on time is to assume the worst about those who are late. Tim Challies acknowledges many of the character flaws that go along with running late, but also reminds us why we should show grace to those who run late. “So by all means, let’s plan to be on time, and let’s live orderly lives. But let’s be slow to stand in judgment of those who show up at a time we deem inappropriate. If nothing else, let’s know people for their many strengths and not only that one weakness that most frustrates us.”

The Divorce Surge is Over, but the Myth Lives On
For years I have heard that half of all marriages end in divorce. The New York Times shows us why this is not true and offers some insight as to why more marriages are lasting longer. “It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.”

Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time
“At the end of the day, many people wonder where all their time went. New data-mining tools are helping employers answer that question. The causes of overload have long been suspected—email and meetings—but new techniques that analyze employees’ email headers and online calendars are helping employers pinpoint exactly which work groups impose the most on employees’ time.”

After Ferguson and Eric Garner decisions, white Christians say it’s time to stand with blacks
This post catalogs how some white Christians have responded to recent events that have highlighted still existing racial issues in our culture. They have a quote from me, as well as comments from my friend Alan Cross and ERLC President Russell Moore. “With back-to-back grand jury decisions that white police officers will not face charges in the deaths of unarmed black men, white Christians, including evangelicals, have grown more vocal in urging predominantly white churches to no longer turn a blind eye to injustice and to bridge the country’s racial divides.”

The Expected One
Our family has been using this book from Scott James for our Advent devotions and highly recommend it. “Every Christmas, Christians all over the world celebrate the Advent season, recognizing the love, hope, joy, and peace that is found only in Jesus Christ. Through this devotional, Scott James brings to light the many promises of Christ—from birth to ascension—that demonstrate His love for us during this Christmas season. These daily devotions, which are designed for both family and individual use, are timeless and moving reminders of the true gift of Christmas.”

The past two weeks our attention focused on two major grand jury decisions. The first was handed down last week in Ferguson, MO when a grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown. Yesterday a New York grand jury did not issue an indictment of officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Both decisions produced strong reactions on both sides of the political and cultural spectrum.

From the beginning of the Michael Brown case the constant refrain from the right was, “you weren’t there and you don’t know what happened.” There is some truth to this sentiment since only two people know what happened that day and only one of those is alive to give their side of the story. Video surfaced of Eric Garner’s death months ago and everyone could see what happened in the moments leading up to his death and in the aftermath when no one made any attempt to save his life. While the “you weren’t there and you don’t know what happened” mantra after Michael Brown’s death at least made some logical sense, I was not prepared for some of the responses I heard after the announcement of the Eric Garner decision. “He would not have died if he would have done what the officer said.” “Why do we have to keep making this a race thing?” “Have you read the grand jury report?”

Conservative Christians have demonstrated a serious lack of empathy in light of these recent decisions. It has not  been uncommon to see a person post “it’s Merry Christmas not Happy Holidays”one day and the next day post a joke about looters or refer to Michael Brown with the racially-charged label “thug.” The disconnect could not be more startling. Christians have shared posts mocking the signs of protestors that turned out to be photoshopped with taking the thirty seconds it would take to find it if they were real or not. This cannot continue. We cannot demonstrate scorn and disdain for an entire segment of the population, refusing to see things from their perspective for even a second, while we claim to follow Jesus.

A Christian should have more than any other person reason to express empathy for others and labor to put himself in another’s shoes. This should especially be at the forefront of our minds during the Christmas season. God’s Son came to earth and lived among us. When John writes in the Fourth Gospel that Jesus “dwelt” among us, he is saying Jesus pitched his tent and made his home here. When Jesus lived on earth, he experienced the full range of human difficulties, weaknesses, and temptations. The writer of Hebrews encourages hurting Christians by reminding them that “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.” Jesus experienced what we experience in our sojourn on earth and sympathizes with our weaknesses and temptations when we come to him.  He ultimately put himself in our place when he died for us, bearing in his own body the penalty for our sins.

Christians have received the grace, mercy, and compassion of God which are given to us freely in Jesus Christ. When we pray, Jesus our high priest hears us and sympathizes with us. Since this is true for us, “he deserved it” should never be the first words that come out of our mouths. If we had received what we deserved, we would have perished under the wrath of God for all of eternity never knowing any of his goodness and grace. “But God.” Aren’t those words thrilling? God did not give us what we had earned, but instead showed us his overwhelming mercy in Christ!

Christians cannot continue to claim to have received the free mercy of God while withholding that same mercy from others. At a minimum, this means Christians should put themselves in another person’s place before they rush to judgment. Take the Eric Garner case for example. Put yourself in his place for a moment. This father of six believed he was being unnecessarily harassed. Have you ever been harassed like this? Listen to the passion in his voice on that tape. Many would say they would have allowed themselves to be arrested and trust the criminal justice system. This was not the reaction of many conservatives when Cliven Bundy stood up to the Bureau of Land Management. He was able to rally militia from around the country to stand up to the Federal Government. Many of the same people who cannot understand why Eric Garner wouldn’t just allow himself to be arrested believed that Cliven Bundy was right in forcing an armed standoff with the government. Why would we cheer on one person opposing the police with weapons and then lecture another who simply pulled his hands away while pleading his innocence?

Then imagine the moments before his death. Imagine yourself in a choke hold as you are forced to the ground surrounded by five men. “I can’t breath! I can’t breathe!” You exclaim this eleven times with each sentence growing more faint than the one before. Put yourself in his place. Put yourself in the place of his wife of twenty-seven years or one of his six children. This doesn’t mean you have to come to the conclusion that the deadly force was justified, but can you at least begin thinking of this man and his family’s pain before you begin to speak of what he “deserved?”

This same rings true for how those in the majority culture speak of racial issues. We can no longer live under the illusion that white Americans and black Americans experience America in the same way. From our experience in the criminal justice system to applying for jobs and college, black Americans have walked through a myriad of experiences that white Americans have not. Because of our blindness on these issues, we need to listen before we start talking. The fact that white Americans can say we’re tired of talking about race proves these issues exist and we must hear the stories of our brothers and sisters who are experiencing them.

Christians stand at a unique cultural moment and we face a serious decision. When we speak about cultural events, will our speech reflect the grace we have been shown or our immersion in Fox News and conservative talk radio? Will we sound like George Whitfield, crying as we plead with our culture to come to Jesus, or like Rush Limbaugh, mocking and degrading those who disagree with us? . Will we sing “Amazing Grace” on Sunday mornings and tell our culture “get your act together” on Monday through Friday or will we speak with the same grace we sing about? This decision will determine whether or not our non-Christian friends and neighbors hear the message we speak. Our tone and our attitude towards men and women made in God’s image must be marked by the compassion we speak of or our tone and attitude will ensure no one listens our message.

Related Posts:
Why Do Many White Conservatives Deny the Reality of White Privilege?
When the Bible Rebukes Republicans and Democrats

For Further Reading:
Bloodlines by John Piper
White Like Me by Tim Wise
When Heaven and Earth Collide by Alan Cross

givingtuesdaySince Thanksgiving we heard much buzz about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These two days serve as important beginnings to the Christmas shopping seasons for retailers. Just as many retailers rely heavily on the Christmas season, many nonprofits are greatly helped by year-end giving. Giving Tuesday began a few years ago and focuses our attention to those in need in the midst of the holiday season.

While there are a myriad of great organizations who would benefit from our generosity today, I want to highlight two for your consideration.
Millions of children live on the streets and in orphanages around the world. Altar84 equips the local church to care for orphans locally and globally. “While the needs of orphans and vulnerable children all over the world are vast and seemingly out of touch for us all…God has given the solution to this vast problem and that is His church. If there is going to be significant impact on the global orphan crises it will have to be in and through the church. This is why Altar84 is committed to educating and resourcing the church to do the work of orphan care. Altar84 exists to alter the lives of orphans and children in need as well those who seek to serve them in the name of Jesus Christ. We are committed to offer all that He has given us—our lives, our resources, our talents — to increase awareness of the orphan crisis and our call to care through word and action.” You can learn more about Altar84 and how to partner with their mission on their website.

Haiti Collective
The 2010 Haiti earthquake opened the world’s eyes to the many needs in the country of Haiti. The Haiti Collective came into being to equip the local church in Haiti to minister to their neighbors in both word and deed. They accomplish this by connecting local churches in the United States with churches in Haiti. You can here more about their mission and how you can help in the video below or by visiting them online.

THC Giving Tuesday from The Haiti Collective on Vimeo.

A Few Good Reads

November 22, 2014 — Leave a comment
photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

photo credit: solidether via photopin cc

Choose Hospitality over Entertaining
With Thanksgiving approaching many of us will host family and friends in our homes. Particularly if you have small children, this means hours of running around and frantically cleaning your home before guests arrive. By the time of their arrival you are so tired that you cannot enjoy their company and are ready for them to leave. Writing for The Village Church’s blog, Jen Wilkin offers a better way forward. “Entertaining is always thinking about the next course. Hospitality burns the rolls because it was listening to a story.”

5 Ways to Kill Anger
As a guy who struggles with anger, I appreciated this post from Jen Thorn. As the title suggests, she offers five practical thoughts for slaying the giant of anger. “The worst part about anger is that is does not bring about the righteousness of that we desire (James 1:19) Instead it hurts those who are at the receiving end of our anger, disfigures our character,  breeds hatred and distrusts,tears apart relationships, and worst of all dishonors God.”

Bruised Reed
As we get ready to work through the Servant Songs in Isaiah for Advent, I found myself drawn to this classic as I get ready to preach Isaiah 42. Martyn Lloyd Jones, speaking about how Richard Sibbes’ work helped him, said this. “ “balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil…The Bruised Reed…quietened, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me.”

Romans-8-1-2-web-nivOur church has been working through Romans 8 in our worship gatherings for several months. I originally anticipated moving through this chapter in five or six sermons by covering five to ten verses per sermon. The anticipated speed died down after covering only one verse in one sermon and only three in another. Romans 8 ministered to me and taught me many things throughout my Christian life, but years of life and difficulties brought new life to this chapter as I studied it. By soaking in this passage for the last several months, several old lessons came back to me with a new force.

Our Identity Must Be Rooted in Who We are In Christ
Christians often wrestle with finding our identity in something that is fleeting and shallow. We look to our accomplishments, relationships, and possessions for meaning when they can all be gone in a moment. They were never meant to bear the weight of our personal significance and identity. Instead Romans 8 reminds the Christian of who we are Jesus Christ. The first verse declares that God no longer condemns those who are found in Christ. For the one who trusts in Jesus, God forgives us because of Jesus’ death for us and reckons us righteous because of Jesus’ perfect life. We stand before God fully accepted and justified in his sight. Nothing can make us more or less justified before God. Paul also reminds us that through Christ God adopts us as his children. Though we once were hostile towards God and strangers to him, he brought us into his family and is our Father.

Recognizing our newfound identity in Christ changes something in us. We begin to realize that we do not need to earn God’s approval or anyone else’s. We can get off the treadmill of trying to impress people and simply be who we are because of Jesus. Knowing we are justified by God and adopted by God also leads us to walk with humility towards other people. We know we aren’t defined by what we have accomplished or accumulated but because of what Jesus has done, so we now have no grounds to act like we are a big deal. We are who we are by grace alone, so now our lives should be characterized by grace and humility.

Our Future Inheritance Helps Us Face Difficulties Here
Paul moves from our adoption to the inheritance we will share as “fellow heirs with Christ.” The adopted children of God receive the same inheritance as the perfect Son of God. Because Christ’s perfect life has been credited to us, we get the same future he has. Those who belong to Christ will reign with him in the new heavens and new earth. Our bodies will be characterized by glory and immortality instead of pain and futility. Paul speaks so certainly of our future glorification in verse 30 that he uses the past tense.

Paul uses the hope of our future glorification to encourage us to persevere through trials and difficulty. He says the present sufferings we face are not worth comparing the glory we will experience when Christ returns. We need to hear this because our present trails do not feel light or momentary. They feel crushing and overwhelming. Paul tells us that these are real sufferings and real difficulties, but they cannot compare with what will come to those who believe. We should therefore endure our obstacles with patience, fixing our eyes on Jesus who will transform us when he returns. From the perspective of eternity, our trials here only last a moment, so we endure them with patience, prayer, and humility.

Related Posts:
Your Worst Days and Best Days Don’t Define You
Planning to Pray

For Further Reading:
Prayer by Timothy Keller

A Few Good Reads

November 20, 2014 — Leave a comment
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photo credit: solidether via photopin cc








Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down to 2 Things
Most marriages would be exponentially better if husbands and wives learned how to treat each other with basic kindness.  Emily Esfahani Smith discusses how social scientists have discovered this basic fact and shares how they came to their conclusions. “Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.”

The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelicals Can Worship Idols
Andrew Wilson provides us with an interesting take on the arguments for the compatibility of homosexual practice and Christianity. He removes the word “homosexual” and inserts the word “idolatry.” In doing so he demonstrates the practical and theological gymnastics the evangelical left is performing. “For many years, I was taught that idolatry was sinful. As a good Christian, I fought the desire to commit idolatry, and repented when I got it wrong. But the desire to worship idols never went away.
Financial Mistakes We Made and Avoided
Every person in their 30’s wishes they could go back and fix financial mistakes they made. In this post Tim Challies lists some mistakes he made and some others he avoided when he was young. This post is filled with practical wisdom. “Like so many other people, I have a love-hate relationship with money. I love what money can do and accomplish, and I hate how money is so fleeting. It seems like every dollar is hard-earned and easily-spent. Every dollar can be used in a million different ways and so much of life’s anxiety comes from determining how to use too little money to address too many possibilities.”
Money: God or Gift
Speaking of money, Jamie Munson just released a new version of his look at stewardship and personal finance. “The god of gold promises security, peace of mind, comfort, status, freedom, and all of our wildest dreams come true. From the Bible to the Beatles, however, our culture is filled with reminders that money can’t buy what actually matters in life.  And yet money still keeps us up at night. People worry about it, live for it, die for it, and even kill for it.”