Thursday, June 4, 2015

How to Be Very Wrong When You're Right

You may have read the title and thought this is an article about checking all the facts before telling someone they're wrong. There is a great deal to be said about carefully exploring the whole story with true humility before becoming convinced that we're right; Truth is important, our pride is easily hurt, and we're not right nearly as often as we think we are. But this article is not primarily about that; It's about the step after that.

Let's assume a situation in which we're objectively, factually, legally, right. Feels great! Now we can make sure everyone knows it! Well, this article is about how to be right when we face someone that's wrong, whether in a disagreement or offense. What I mean is that it's easy to be factually right but then act in a way that makes us even more guilty than the person who is wrong.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dr. Michael L. Brown on Whether The Church Should Focus on Spiritual or Social Issues

When there are ills in a society, is it the Church's role only to spread the gospel so that Jesus will change people from the inside? Or is it also appropriate for the Church to expend resources to influence culture, politics, and other social structures?

In other words, to stop human trafficking, should Christians only pray and try to introduce human traffickers to Jesus, or should Christians also work through media to expose the problem, through the justice system to ensure that human traffickers are deterred and prosecuted when caught, and through the social systems to rehabilitate those rescued?

In a recent commentary article at the World Net Daily, theologian and radio host Dr. Michael L. Brown writes that the answer is both, but held in a certain tension. This tension pays close attention to the emphasis with which we do each. Here is an excerpt:

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So yes, it’s true that our great mission – called the Great Commission – is to go and make disciples.

The question is: How do disciples live?

Once we have become followers of Jesus, how does that impact the rest of our lives? What should our marriages and families look like? What values will we embrace? What kind of people ought we to be?

Monday, March 16, 2015

How We're Like a Chihuahua in a Sewer

YouTube - Eldad Hagar, Hope For Paws

If you haven't, I encourage you to watch the amazing story above. What a moving and beautiful picture of the gospel - the good news that Jesus saves us, heals, and forgives us.

  • We're not meant to live in the sewer.
  • We're lost.
  • We're filthy.
  • We're filled with fear.
  • We're wounded, deprived of truth and love.
  • We're angry and self-protective.
  • We don't understand our own predicament.
  • We even attack the one who has come to rescue us.
But with compassion and love, Jesus comes after us...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

John Piper on The Legal and Relational Aspects of Forgiveness

Does God respond to us as a judge or as a father?

First, some context. The core of the good news of Jesus is that, even though we're sinners filled with guilt and shame for the evil we've done, God graciously forgives our debt when we put our trust in Jesus. This is unfathomable freedom!

With that context, we find a tough question when we dig deeper: How does this forgiveness thing work? Is God's forgiveness a legal, objective, decisive, once-and-for-all cosmic judicial ruling? Or is God's forgiveness a subjective, relational, emotional, organic, temporal act that is repeated for each of our sins?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Innkeeper

Suffering. We all face it sooner or later. And it can cause us to wrestle fiercely with God when we come to confess that he's sovereign over our pain - that he could stop it but he doesn't sometimes. It's hard - but healthy - to see him truly... Nothing is out of his control.

But he's also compassionate. The good news of the cross teaches us to look at Jesus, who (in God's sovereign plan) looked on us with mercy and suffered for our sakes. He endured a kind of betrayal, mocking, and torture that no one else has ever endured - not merely because of its severity, but infinitely compounded because of how unjust it was. He was morally spotless. He deserved no suffering and suffered worse than I do. But in love, he showed that we were worth it. There was a greater good than avoiding suffering: the salvation of the world! This is amazing news that teaches us, whatever the reason for our suffering, it's not because Jesus withholds his love from us.

Still, when we suffer, it can be hard to relate Jesus' suffering to ours in time and space. Jesus already saved the world by suffering. Further, that greater good was clear to Jesus, so he walked into it with eyes wide open (Heb. 12:2, John 10:11). What about our suffering? What does ours accomplish? Wouldn't it be easier if we too knew what was at stake?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Paul and Tim Keller on Depravity and Deprivation

What's our deepest problem? What causes us to make destructive choices? Is it that there's some depravity within us that innately drives us towards evil? Or is it that we've been wounded and deprived of goodness in a way that causes us to be defensive or lash out?

In the book of First Timothy, the apostle Paul warns and encourages his spiritual son and protégé, Timothy, in various ways. In 1 Timothy 6:4-5 specifically, Paul passionately describes a person who opposes Jesus' character and teaching: "He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain."

There are many important parts of this passage, but one that I want to highlight here is this: A sinful, selfish, person is both "depraved" and "deprived." And though we might not consciously oppose Jesus, Romans 3 makes it clear that we're all sinners.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Paul Miller on Naïvete and Cynicism

Is it possible to experience childlike trust and delight while still acknowledging a reality that contains evil? Or is it necessary either to be naïve (that is, to be numb intellectually) or to be cynical (that is, to be numb emotionally)?

In his book, A Praying Life [2009, p. 83-85], author and teacher Paul Miller sees Jesus offering a wise third way  something Miller calls "tension" and "cautious optimism." Here's an excerpt:

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Jesus does not ignore evil. When he sends the disciples on their first missionary journey, he says, "I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16). The overwhelming temptation when faced with evil is to become a wolf, to become cynical and lose your sheeplike spirit. Jesus tells us to instead be warm but wary  warm like a dove but wary like a serpent.