Apr

10

2014

Christina Fox|12:01 AM CT

Mama's Hands Are Full: Gloria Furman on Treasuring Christ in the Trenches

It was 8:00 a.m., and I already longed for bedtime. I'd refereed two conflicts over toys. I attempted to tackle the mountain of laundry that seemed to quadruple overnight. I repeated instructions multiple times to easily distracted minds. "It's time to brush your teeth." "Keep your finger out of your nose." "Only use kind words." My head and throat hurt, and I could feel a fever brewing.

Motherhood is a life that stretches you both inside and out. It's a daily practice of laying down your will and desires for the care of others. It's an energy-sapping life where you start each day with less energy than you had the day before. Nothing belongs to you anymore—not your space, not your time, not your sleep. Some days feel like a bad version of Groundhog Day, a repeat of the day before.

As a mom, I usually get caught up in the details of my days. I get wrapped up and consumed by the chaos and unexpected situations that come my way. I struggle in my weakness against the current of life's challenges, only to make no headway at all. And most of the time I end up spent, weary, discouraged, and alone.

Treasuring-Christ

On that day, when I felt sick and sapped of all strength, physical and otherwise, Gloria Furman's new book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms (Crossway) [video trailer], arrived in the mail. It was the perfect word of truth and encouragement my weary heart needed. The title alone spoke to me because my hands are always full. But too often I focus on everything I'm carrying in those hands rather than on my treasure, Jesus Christ.

Gloria's book is filled with gospel wisdom from cover to cover. She reminds us that Christ is with us in every situation we encounter as mothers. Not only that, but we can treasure him amid every chaos, every sibling spat, every sickness, and every cup of spilled milk. These meditations cover situations to which every mom can relate. Filled with examples from her own life, Gloria weaves gospel encouragement into every page, bringing hope to the daily challenges of motherhood.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full reminded me that the gospel is for all of life—including motherhood. Our theology of the cross and the redemption purchased by Christ's blood intersect with bedtime battles, fatigue, and easily distracted children. What Jesus accomplished can be applied to every moment of our lives. Even when our head throbs from the resounding echoes of little voices calling our name all day, gospel peace is always available through Jesus Christ.

I asked Gloria a few questions about her new book to learn how moms can find quiet times, why she doesn't offer more "how-to" advice, and what passages of Scripture have encouraged her lately.

*********

What inspired you to write this book, and what do you hope women take away from it?

Busy moms have their hands full, and I want them to revel in the hope that comes from the gospel and see how their hands are full of blessings in Christ.

I appreciated your honesty in sharing the challenges you faced in early motherhood with having regular quiet times with the Lord. I remember this struggle myself. Finding quiet and solitude with God is hard. But, as you point out, the Lord is just as near to us in the chaos of our day as he is in the alone times. Do you think that moms can have a tendency to just give up on communing with God because of their season of life?

Sometimes we think that if only we could have peace and quiet in the house then we will have peace and quiet in our heart. How easy it is for us to relegate Jesus' presence to an easy chair in a picture-perfect living room (with an accompanying cup of hot coffee)! For the mom facing that challenge of finding quiet time, I'd want her to know that, solitude or circus, it makes no difference in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ to give you everything you need for life and godliness.

In a day where mom blogs saturate the internet with "how-to" counsel and "5 steps to getting your kid to _______," it seems we often clamor after quick fixes and step-by-step advice. Do readers ever complain that your writing is "just too much gospel" and not enough practical "how-to" advice? 

There's no shortage of resources and practical tips for helping moms navigate the challenges they face; I surf these websites for tips all the time. I hesitate to share my practical advice because it really only works for my set of unique circumstances a pitifully tiny fraction of the time, and whenever I give other moms "how-to" advice I have to preface it with that disclaimer.

But I can, however, share the gospel confidently without reservation because the cross teaches us what to expect when we're expecting challenging situations in motherhood—"mercy and grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). Of course, solid practical advice is a mercy and a grace, but the cross addresses our deepest and most urgent need, which is to behold our God. In short, we can gain great benefit from practical how-tos, yet the implications of the help and hope we receive from the gospel are inexhaustible.

Is there one passage of Scripture, or a few passages, that have given you particular hope and peace during the often chaotic and busy season of motherhood?

Yes! In this particular season I have been particularly encouraged by Isaiah 40:11, Zephaniah 3:17, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Matthew 28:18-20, and the book of Ephesians.

 
 

Apr

10

2014

Chris Castaldo|12:01 AM CT

God of the Ordinary

In his book HolyLand USA, Peter Feuerherd, a Catholic journalist, describes what he observed in America's largest "evangelical" theme park. He writes,

I was surrounded by shorts and T-shirts proclaiming The Rock, The Lamb—even one that says Read Between the Lines, with a picture of the back of a crucified Christ, complete with stark red blood stripes. When we enter, the sign for the cafeteria advertises Goliath Burgers and Bedouin beef.

My wife and friends wonder if I have a screw loose. No self-respecting liberal-thinking northeasterner would venture into such a strange world, a place where the worldviews of Disney and Jimmy Swaggart intersect. The 10-year-old daughter of a Catholic friend of mine sees it as sacrilegious to combine the sacred and the profane in a Holy Land amusement park.

Holy Land ExperienceFeuerhard's observations are fascinating. I want to draw your attention to the 10-year-old girl's comment. Why would the Holy Land Experience have evangelical 10-year-old girls eating Goliath Burgers with sheer delight while their Catholic counterparts are completely offended by the idea? The former regards the sword of the Spirit letter opener and widow's mite pendant, which she purchased in the gift shop, to be positive contributions to society, or at least to her own life. The latter regards such trinkets as religious compromise and wholesale capitulation to popular culture, even if she doesn't say so in those words.

Toward the end of his book, Feuerherd speaks to the above question when he writes, "Evangelicals are pioneers in bringing American pop culture and baptizing it into the Christian realm." He might be right. When cultural adaptation is done responsibly, we call it "contextualization," meaning that we've sought to translate biblical truth to our contemporary world. Catholics and evangelicals ordinarily agree that this activity is good and necessary. As Paul the apostle expressed it, "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" (1 Cor. 9:22). However, when contextualization is done poorly we call it something like the trivialization of God, the evangelical subculture's shallow side, or cheesy merchandizing. Unfortunately, evangelicals are famous for leaning in the latter direction.

God-Centered Faith

When you speak with Catholics about popular evangelical culture you find they have a mixture of amusement, bewilderment, and repulsion. From their perspective, there is a profound lack of God-centeredness. Given the prominence of reverence, tradition, and austerity in Catholic liturgy, you can understand how they would reach such a conclusion.  When sacred value is assigned to tangible items like statues, stained glass, and holy water fonts, the absence of all such concrete symbols naturally leads Catholics to conclude that sacredness is likewise absent. Simply contrast the rich complexity and texture of most Catholic parishes with the minimalist style of many evangelical churches, particularly of some megachurches where you're unlikely to find even a simple cross. Then you can better understand why evangelical culture leaves many Catholics feeling like God is absent.

Part of the Catholic critique is influenced by a common tendency found among many rank-and-file Catholics, namely, difficulty appreciating the extent of Jesus' humanity. Let me explain how this works.

The following story is told of G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), the eminent British author from a previous generation:

One day the great British writer G. K. Chesterton was barreling down a street in London, preoccupied with weighty thoughts, his thick cape flying behind him. As he turned a corner, head down, he collided with a man rolling a grandfather clock down the narrow sidewalk. Chesterton brushed himself off, scowled at the man, and shouted, "Why can't you just wear a wristwatch like everyone else?"

Chesterton was not only brilliant; he was brilliantly funny. However, while a sharp wit was one of his shining qualities, it's fascinating to read what he had to say about the humor of Jesus. At the conclusion of his classic book Orthodoxy he writes the following:

There was one thing that was too great for God to show us when he walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was his mirth.

We don't use the word mirth very much today. It describes gladness expressed through hearty laughter. In other words, Chesterton was saying that he couldn't imagine that the incarnated Jesus would have laughed out loud. The austere God/man walked in real sandals, ate real food, drank real wine, but he never went so far as to utter laughter. Far be it from me to take issue with a literary titan like Chesterton; however, in this instance I must humbly disagree.

God with Us

laughing_jesusI'd like to suggest that Chesterton's view of Jesus is representative of many Catholics. It's reflected for example in the response of the Catholic girl with her aversion to Goliath Burgers. You'll recall that she protested the sacrilegious combination of the "sacred" and the "profane." But where to these categories originate? I'll grant that Bedouin beef is patently corny, but where do we find the notion that in Christ's new creation there are two separate spheres called "sacred" and "profane"? We must acknowledge that there is the clear difference between holiness and sin; but to categorically consign experiences like laughter and amusement to the realm of profanity is biblically unwarranted. In fact it's worse. It leaves you with a Jesus whose feet hover six inches above his sandals but never quite touch down.

If the Catholic flaw is a less than human Christ, we evangelicals struggle with the other extreme. We conceive of Jesus in running shoes sporting a Sergio Tacchini sweat-suit jogging beside us on the treadmill. Few of us would articulate such a crass portrait, but if you listen to evangelicals address God in prayer or mention him in conversation, you start to wonder. Divine imminence and personal preferences are so drastically emphasized that superficiality reigns instead of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. One need not be a biblical theologian to recognize that such a view of Christ is absurd.

A properly God-centered vision will recognize the transcendent glory of the One who exists from eternity and who abides in unapproachable light, while simultaneously embracing the good news that he has come to dwell among us. This vision may not engender an appetite for Bedouin beef, but it should help us recognize how the person of Jesus intersects with ordinary experiences of life.

 
 

Apr

09

2014

Joe Carter|4:25 PM CT

9 Things You Should Know About The Rwandan Genocide

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the beginning of the campaign of genocide in Rwanda. Here are nine things you should know about one of the most horrific seasons of slaughter in modern times:

rwanda_genocide1. The Rwandan Genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. During the approximate 100-day period from April 7, 1994 to mid-July an estimated 800,000 Rwandans were killed, constituting as much as 20 percent of the country's total population and 70 percent of the Tutsi then living in Rwanda.

2. The Hutu (also Abahutu) are a Central African ethnic group while the Tutsi (also Abatutsi or Watutsi) are an East African ethnic group. The two groups intermarried for decades prior to the genocide which has lead to an ongoing debate about whether they can truly be considered two separate and distinct groups.

3. The inciting event appears to have occurred on April 6, 1994 when an airplane carrying Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into the Rwandan capital. Genocidal killings began the following day as soldiers, police, and militia executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi.

4. In rural areas, the local government hierarchy served as the chain of command for the execution of the genocide. The governor of each province disseminated instructions to the district leaders, who in turn issued directions to leaders within their districts. The majority of the actual killings in the countryside were carried out by ordinary civilians, under orders from the leaders. Tutsi and Hutu lived side by side in their villages, and families all knew each other, making it easy for Hutu to identify and target their Tutsi neighbors. Historian Gerard Prunier ascribes this mass complicity of the population to a combination of the "democratic majority" ideology, in which Hutu had been taught to regard Tutsi as dangerous enemies, the culture of unbending obedience to authority, and the duress factor - villagers who refused to carry out orders to kill were often branded as Tutsi sympathizers and killed themselves.

5. Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 100 days of genocide. As a result of this rape, up to 20,000 children were born from these women. More than 67% of women who were raped during the genocide were infected with HIV. In many cases, this resulted from a systematic and planned use of rape by HIV+ men as a weapon of genocide.

6. An estimated 200,000 people participated in the perpetration of the genocide. Participants were given incentives, in the form of money, food, or land, to kill their Tutsi neighbors. Hutu were allowed to appropriate the land of the Tutsis they killed.

7. Local Rwandan radios would use propaganda to incite Hutus to violence. Broadcasts included such statements as, "You have to kill the Tutsis, they're cockroaches. We must all fight the Tutsis. We must finish with them, exterminate them, sweep them from the whole country. There must be no refuge for them."

8. Most of the murder was done with machetes (in 1993 Rwanda imported three-quarters of a million dollars' worth of machetes from China), but automatic weapons and hand grenades were also used.

9. The U.S. was reluctant to get involved in the "local conflict" in Rwanda and initially refused to label the killings as "genocide." Then-president Bill Clinton later publicly regretted that decision in a television interview. Five years later, Clinton stated that he believed that if he had sent 5,000 U.S. peacekeepers, more than 500,000 lives could have been saved.

 

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know About The Chronicles of Narnia

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 

 

 
 

Apr

09

2014

Paul Gould|12:01 AM CT

The Church Needs Philosophers and Philosophers Need the Church

"Who cares what Aristotle thinks about a severed hand," retorted an exasperated philosophy student on a wintery night in a Midwestern university. My lecture screeched to a halt. As the class stared at me, enjoying the showdown, the subtext of my student's comment was not lost on them or me: "Aristotle's view of substance provides me with no 'real world' benefit, so it is useless knowledge."

socratesI wish I could tell you my student's comment that night was an exception to the rule. It is not. Her comment highlights a widely held misconception about the discipline of philosophy and those of us who like to think of ourselves as philosophers: philosophy provides no worldly good, no non-cognitive benefit, and is of limited value. Those of us who have committed the double sin of being a Christian and a philosopher risk further marginalization, often viewed with suspicion by the church as well. Like Socrates and his uneasy relationship with Athens, Christian philosophers can be seen by the faithful as unwanted "gadflies" that ask annoying questions in Sunday school and instigate doubt in the minds of young believers.

As we navigate an increasingly pragmatic university setting and the suspicious gaze of the church, it is easy to feel—like a severed hand—a bit homeless. But before you pass the hemlock, I plead my case: the church needs philosophers and philosophers need the church.

Why the Church Needs Philosophers

I offer three reasons why the church needs philosophers. First, opposing perspectives to our faith, what we might call defeater beliefs, rear themselves in every day and age. Christian philosophers are well suited to identify, dissect, and rebut the defeater beliefs that set themselves up against Christianity. Granted, every age has its own unique set of defeater beliefs for Christianity. In the fourth century, a defeater belief for the pre-converted Augustine was the idea of an immaterial (divine) substance. (It took the so-called Platonist books to open Augustine's eyes to the reality of an unseen world of forms and substances.) All these centuries later, that debate seems largely irrelevant. But we face philosophical challenges of a different sort.

Now, in Western culture, prevalent defeater beliefs include the idea that God is a moral monster, that science has disproved God, that evil makes God's existence unlikely, and that there are many paths to God. Christian philosophers are uniquely qualified to address the logic and philosophical underpinnings of such claims, as well as the structure of arguments erected around such defeater beliefs. Given the rampant anti-intellectualism of our day, the reality is that all too often the layperson is no longer equipped to grapple with the arguments and evidence mounted against Christianity by her adversaries. Neither are the pastors in the pulpit, understandably, given all the directions they are pulled. The solution is not avoidance. Rather it is a disciplined discipleship program that helps the average person in the pew to think carefully about these challenges to orthodox faith—and Christian philosophers can help.

Second, Christian philosophers can lead the way in spiritual formation and discipleship by highlighting the key role of the mind in loving God and man. As a culture, we are no longer guided by right thinking. We have shifted from being attentive to our feelings to being driven by them. But we are, as Aristotle puts it, rational animals, and in this entertainment-driven culture—with many empty selves mindlessly groping from one sensual experience to another—we betray our God-given identity. When Jesus stated that the greatest commandment is to love God with all one's heart, soul, and mind (Matt. 22:37) he was in effect saying, "Love me with all of your being. Love me in all the ways I have created you." Never—in Jesus' mind or in Scripture—is there a splitting of head and heart; they are always meant to go together. Similarly, the apostle Paul puts the mind front and center in the process of spiritual formation when he urges believers to "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom. 12:2). Christian philosophers can help the church understand how to think well, and in thinking well, to live well, under the banner of Christ.

Finally, Christian philosophers play a vital role in the contribution to shalom—human flourishing—of those both within the church and in the broader culture. This last reason might sound odd—how can teaching one to think well really make the world a better place? Isn't it the engineer who builds bridges, the minister who feeds the poor, the politician who institutes programs to lift the downtrodden, and the lawyer who convicts the sex trafficker who make the world better? Yes! But, the engineer, the minister, the politician, and the lawyer all do so in virtue of their beliefs—their views on human nature, moral obligation, personal responsibility, and vocation—philosophical doctrines, one and all. Justified true belief—knowledge—about God, the world, and self is the beginning of wisdom, and provides the rails for faithful kingdom service in a fallen world. Let us Christian philosophers help the church to awaken her curiosity, strengthen her conviction, inspire her creativity, and bring clarity to her calling to be salt and light to the world.

Philosophers Need the Church

The church needs philosophers. But we Christian philosophers need the church too. We need to be reminded daily that the Western canon of intellectual history is not our "real food." To paraphrase Jesus, "Man does not live on Descartes and Kant alone, but on the word of God." We need to be reminded of the Great Commission. Remind us that Jesus, and not a solution to the problem of universals, is the world's greatest need. Push us to live for Christ and experience his grace; remind us that our life in Christ is more satisfying, more exhilarating than getting a book published, a journal article accepted, or even an important idea coherently articulated. We need to be daily pulled down from the heights of the Areopagus, where philosophical problems lurch around every corner and crag, and be bothered by the mundane problems of relating with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We need good biblical exposition and sound theology to remind us of the limits of our discipline and that reason provides us with a tool, but not the only tool, as we wrestle with ideas and their implications. And we need the prayers and encouragement of our fellow believers in Christ. Our temptation is to go it alone; to be disconnected from the broader body of Christ. Lead us to Christ; keep us from intellectual snobbery; remind us of our need for each other.

With the recent passing of Dallas Willard, a Christian philosopher par excellence who for more than 40 years faithfully served the university, the church, and the world, it might seem that my entreaty is unnecessary. But if history teaches us anything, it is that we are fickle. We are too easily tossed to and fro by the winds of popular culture, base appetites, and short memories. We need to take the long view, and now, because of the influence of prominent Christian philosophers such as Dallas Willard, Alvin Plantinga, and William Lane Craig it is a good time to remind the church of the usefulness, indeed the necessity, of philosophy in service to Christ.

 
 

Apr

09

2014

Bethany Jenkins|12:01 AM CT

Offering Hope to the Dying

Every Square Inch Cropped

Editors' note: The weekly TGCvocationscolumn asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are conducted and condensed by Bethany L. Jenkins, director of TGC's Every Square Inch.

Vicki Barlow and her husband, Brian, live in Pensacola, Florida, where Vicki is the quality manager for Emerald Coast Hospice, and Brian is the pastor of missions at Hillcrest Baptist Church. Prior to living in Pensacola, the Barlows served for 15 years with the International Mission Board in West Africa (Liberia, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Guinea) and the Middle East (Jordan).

How did you come to work for hospice?

Holding Hands with Elderly PatientWhen our family returned from Jordan, I wanted to work in a vocation that I felt was a ministry. My mom had been a hospice nurse, but I never thought about that. One day, though, I woke up and felt very clearly that God was calling me to hospice—as clearly as he called us to the IMB. I started as a weekend on-call nurse. I've also been the admissions nurse and served as the clinical manager. When my son went to college, I went back to college, too. I finished in 2012, and now I'm in grad school to become a nurse practitioner.

Can you tell me about a day when you found your work particularly meaningful?

When I was working as the clinical manager, we received a referral on a gentleman with an atypical diagnosis. There was question about whether his disease process was terminal or not. When I discussed his case with my medical director, he agreed to a 90-day period of observation. If he did not decline, this would give us time to find other services for him. He did decline, as expected, and when our medical director visited him, actually found the gentleman had cancer. Working with a team that is concerned with the patient, not a traditional diagnosis, is rewarding.

For someone who is going to die, how does having a clear, known diagnosis help?

Most people accept the inevitability that they're going to die, but I have yet to meet someone who isn't scared of the process of dying. We help take away that fear by explaining how death happens and what the stages of death are. Also, we take care of their physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. In other words, we offer them hope—not hope for a cure, but hope that they will not have to suffer unnecessarily at the end. When patients come to hospice, treatment cannot save their life, but it can keep them at home with their family.

Each hospice team has a chaplain. Is hospice faith-based?

No, hospice isn't faith-based. But the government recognizes that there is a spiritual aspect to the process of dying. Our chaplains, however, are not preachers. Their goal is to meet the spiritual needs of the patient—whether that patient is Christian or not. We once had a Buddhist patient, and our staff researched the death beliefs and practices of that faith. While I don't share the gospel with every patient, I do look for open opportunities when God provides them, much like I did when I was on the mission field.

What's the biggest obstacle you face in your work?

The biggest obstacle we face is the misconception of hospice. Not only is the general public misinformed, the medical community is, too. Most doctors and nurses have no training in end-of-life care. So when patients come to us, they're afraid. But they don't need to be. Death is as natural as breathing. It's a part of everyone's journey. To me, this is an untapped opportunity for Christians. Pastors often talk about death and dying at a super spiritual level, but the reality is we're afraid. We need to prepare people for dying—offering hope, but not false hope.

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Ronnie Martin|12:01 AM CT

Failing with Family

As a phone conversation with my sister was winding down, she offered stinging final words after debriefing over some family drama: "Well, we all know you're the spiritual one in the family." I sighed an internal ugh, knowing that she really meant to say self-righteous one. In an attempt to defend what I thought she was implying, I launched into a stream of apologetic clarifications. In the end, it felt like an exercise in futility. I knew the reputation I had forged years earlier in much less sanctified times had never been forgotten.

stock-footage-fire-family-word-fire-textThe truth is that I had deservedly earned the title. As a young, arrogant, spiritually immature and self-assured believer, I had driven my nose up at my families' failures and displayed enough told-you-so-disappointment that I'm surprised they didn't excommunicate me altogether. It wasn't until I had experienced quite a few of my own failures that God thankfully shut down my pharisaical rantings for good. Looking back on those early days, I still feel ashamed at the ways I disgraced the name of Christ and the reputation of believers.

Unfortunately, grudges are easier to hold than forgiveness is to hand out. Reputations are complex mechanisms to dismantle. Although we have limitless opportunities to show kindness to others, it takes only one poisonous slip of the tongue or outburst of anger to completely destroy our credibility and strip us of relational capital.

How We Work to Restore

So is there a place to even begin? Can there be a rebuilding process? Maybe you're eager to repair, but you know certain family members will never let you move past your former self.

If you face decades worth of family damage, here are three steps to consider taking. Although reconciliation is never guaranteed, we are always guaranteed that God will look upon the humble and contrite.

1. Seek forgiveness: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." James 4:10 

Want to shock a grudge-holding family member? Start by asking for forgiveness. There's nothing that cuts quite so deep as humble repentance. If they ask why, you can share how the gospel has illumined your own sin by the light of God's grace. You can explain how Christ's humility on the cross convicts you of your own arrogance, and that repenting to him enables you to ask forgiveness of them.

2. Speak softly: "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

A soft answer will be curiously received by an unbelieving family member who has received the opposite from you in the past. Controlling your tongue will always speak louder than using it to cut another spiritual incision into an already tender situation. This is a general principle, so although a soft tone won't always calm a stormy feud, I think it's safe to say that an angry rant never will. Think about the channels of communication that might open up when a family member responds, "Your reaction really surprised me, I thought you'd be upset."

3. Show kindness: "Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." 1 Peter 2:12

Look for opportunities to sacrificially bless unbelieving members of your family. If you're far away, contact them occasionally to let them know you're praying and thinking about them. If they live close, make yourself available to them. In this way they will see a heart for Christ that also cares about them, and they won't have any reason to speak negatively either in their hearts or with their mouths about your actions.

I don't know my current status with my family. I probably never will. But I do know that each of us needs to come clean and repent of our own failures with our families.

Pray with me that God would give us a gospel-infused love for our families that causes us to be more critical of our own sin than theirs. Pray with me that Jesus would give us prayerful, less prideful hearts that overflow with mercy and forbearance. Pray with me that the Holy Spirit would help us forgive as we continue to be forgiven.

And by God's grace, they may yet glorify him.

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Gavin Ortlund|12:01 AM CT

When You're Waiting in the Wilderness

If you had to pick one story in the Bible as a model of "ministry success," which would you choose? Personally, I can't think of anything more dynamic than Elijah's victory over the false prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18. In the space of one chapter, the prophet singlehandedly purifies the nation of idolatry, sparks a grassroots revival among God's people, and brings the three-and-a-half year drought to an end. Not a bad day!

But we often forget Elijah's ministry didn't begin that day. Before he could summon fire from heaven at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18, he had to pass through a painful season out in the wilderness in 1 Kings 17. In most of our ministries, as in Elijah's, there will be no 1 Kings 18 power without 1 Kings 17 preparation. Of course, it'd be nice if ministry meant 1 Kings 18 fire-from-heaven power from start to finish! But most of our ministries can likely relate better to the metaphors of 1 Kings 17: hanging on until the ravens come again, trusting the jug and jar won't run out tomorrow, scraping by until the drought finally ends, wondering why God hasn't removed corrupt Ahab, and, all the while, waiting, waiting, waiting.

alone-in-the-desert

Wilderness seasons are brutal. But God is powerfully at work in the 1 Kings 17 seasons of our lives. The only question is, do we have eyes to see it?

All Alone

In 1 Kings 17:1-6, God sends Elijah to the wilderness to be fed by the ravens. The Lord is sending a drought over the land—an act of judgment on the idolatry Ahab and his Phoenician wife, Jezebel, have introduced to the nation (1 Kgs. 16:30-33). God gives Elijah power over the rain clouds, but then sends him east of the Jordan to the wilderness where he must drink from a brook. Imagine how humbling this move would have been! From the heights of "it won't rain except by my word" (v. 1) to the depths of "go hide yourself in the wilderness and drink from a brook" (vv. 2-5). One who has power over the highest clouds in the sky has to stoop down to a brook when he's thirsty. The most powerful man in the nation lives in total obscurity and almost barbaric conditions.

But as the months dragged on, I bet even worse was the season's crushing loneliness. "It's not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18)—yet Elijah's all alone, day after day, month after month. I picture him out there, sitting on a rock or hiding in a cave. He has no idea what's happening in the outside world (no newspaper delivery at the Cherith brook, I'm guessing). He must've felt forgotten, insignificant, like life had passed him by. It must've been like moving to rural Wyoming when you're a city person, or posting the biggest news of your life on Facebook and not getting a single "like."

Beyond the humiliation and loneliness, though, this season must have also been deadeningly boring. Elijah—the mighty, thundering prophet, unafraid to challenge kings and nations—has nothing to do but wait. He can't even work for his food! Further, he's geographically confined, since he has to stay near the brook. So Elijah faces the scorching sun, day after day. He memorizes what the surrounding trees and sand look like as the months slowly drag on. He eats the same food (bread and meat), meal after meal after raven-brought meal.

No one to talk to, nothing to do, and nowhere to go. By the end of this ordeal I picture him looking a bit like Tom Hanks on the island in Cast Away—bleached hair, bushy beard, cracked skin, and a wild look in his eyes.

And then, one day, the brook dries up and God sends Elijah elsewhere. But there's no book contract and conference-speaking circuit after the wilderness. God moves him into another season of waiting and hiding as he lives with the widow of Zarephath (1 Kgs. 17:7-24). His ministry is limited to two people, some of the least esteemed in that culture—a Gentile widow and her son. And even then Elijah isn't allowed to stockpile resources. In fact, the widow has only a handful of flour and a tiny jar of oil. Elijah must live by continual faith that the jug and the jar won't run out.

Protecting, Providing, Preparing

The hope that sustains us in wilderness seasons reminds us that God is there, doing some of his most powerful work. He's at work in Elijah's life in 1 Kings 17 in at least three ways: protection, provision, and preparation.

God was protecting Elijah since Ahab had dispatched spies to kill him (1 Kgs. 18:10); seclusion in the wilderness, then, was the only way he could be safe during this drought. God was providing for Elijah through the ravens, then through the continual supply of flour and oil at the widow's house. The ravens came daily, and the jug and jar never ran out. It may have been monotonous, but it was also a miracle. It may have felt like dying, but it wasn't death. God sustained him.

And perhaps most of all, God was preparing him. Where did Elijah get the faith and courage he needed to stand against all the false prophets of Baal in chapter 18? Those years waiting on God, experiencing his faithful care amid difficulty, must have solidified Elijah's faith and resolve like a diamond.

When we're in a wilderness season, it's easy to lose sight of God's protection, provision, and preparation. We might even wonder, How can I trust God's goodness when I'm in this desolate place? But remember Jesus! He went through the ultimate wilderness—the desolation and humiliation of dying under the curse of God. If that is the measure of God's love and commitment to us, we can trust him in our own wilderness seasons.

God-Centered Ministry Perspective

This chapter, 1 Kings 17, prods us toward God-centeredness in our evaluation as well as our execution of ministry—in both our perspective and also our performance. It reminds us "ministry success" is ultimately defined as faithfulness to God's calling, whether the calling involves harnessing 1 Kings 18 power or doggedly hanging on until 1 Kings 17 ends.

To be sure, we want our lives to be maximally fruitful for kingdom work. We feel urgently that "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few" (Matt. 9:37). But God knows better than we do. What if Elijah had concluded that waiting for the ravens wasn't bearing enough fruit, and walked away from God's call? He'd likely have never survived to see Mount Carmel.

Faithfully executing God's calling in modest ministry contexts isn't selling out. If God's calling has led you there, then the wilderness is the surest route to real kingdom work. It may feel random, but each moment is God's design. It may seem like the end of your story, but it's really the only way the story goes forward. It may taste like death, but it's actually the path of life.

If God has called you into a wilderness season, don't give up. In that dry, choking place, in that season of barely hanging on, remember God is watching over you. Look for ravens. Trust the jug and the jar won't run out. And know he's using this difficult season to prepare for you things ahead—things sometimes far greater than you could ever achieve without the pain you're now walking through.

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Matt Smethurst|12:01 AM CT

When the Gospel Transforms Your 9 to 5

Does Monday morning excite you? If so, good for you! But that's not where many of us live.

Our jobs challenge and threaten to consume us. So what does devotion to Jesus Christ look like in competitive—and often cutthroat and insecure—workplace environments? How about in painfully mundane ones?

In their new book, The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Lives (Zondervan) [free study guidewebsite | Twitter], Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger bring their pastoral and workplace experience to bear on a constellation of issues concerning the intersection of faith and work.

I spoke with Gilbert (pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville) and Traeger (entrepreneur in Washington, D.C.) about idolatry and idleness, working for the weekend, how pastors can encourage people in their jobs, and more.

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If this book is "not a theology of work," what are you aiming to accomplish in The Gospel at Work?

When we say the book isn't a theology of work, we certainly don't mean that it avoids theology! We aren't trying to say everything that could be said about work, and we're certainly not trying to give an opinion on every question people ask about work and its place in God's plan. But the whole book is built on theology. After all, theology explains why our work can be so frustrating, theology tells us why we can become so consumed by it, and theology explains why there can be so much conflict in it. And, ultimately, theology helps us understand how we really ought to think about our work, be encouraged in it, and do it well.

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We want to encourage Christians in the workplace, whatever that means in their particular situation, to view what they do in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore do it with freedom and energy and joy. We want them to realize that whatever the particulars of their job right now, ultimately they are working for the King—and that perspective changes everything.

Many of us incline toward vocational idolatry—operating as if our jobs hold the key to ultimate satisfaction. What are some signs we might be succumbing to idolatry of work?

Making an idol of our work is extremely easy to do. Our jobs become the primary source of satisfaction, purpose, and meaning in our lives. Idolatry shows up not just in working too many hours, but in a heart that's finding its sense of wellbeing in what we do. If work is going well and our professional stock is rising, we think life is good. We feel secure. But then when it's not going well, our sense of wellbeing fades or even collapses.

If you look carefully at your own heart, you can see this kind of idolatry showing up in lots of different ways in how you think about work. Maybe it's thinking of work primarily as a way to make a name for yourself or as a way to provide unfailing security. That's not to say it's categorically wrong to want to succeed or to make money to have influence; it's just to say that if any one of those things becomes the controlling definition of your work and why you do it, you ought to check your heart and make sure you haven't allowed work to become an idol.

But here's the thing: When you realize that you actually and ultimately work for King Jesus—at his command, according to his plan, and for his glory—that realization cuts the root of idolatry. Because of Jesus' work for us, we already have all we need. Identity, love, belonging, acceptance, forgiveness, meaning, and reward—it's all ours already because of Jesus! And that means we no longer have to pursue those things in something that could never provide them in the first place—our jobs. Instead, we realize our jobs are an arena in which God will work in us and through us to make us more like Jesus and to glorify himself.

Others of us incline toward vocational idleness—operating as if God doesn't care about our jobs. What are some signs we might be succumbing to idleness in work?

Idleness in work is the other major problem Christians tend to have when it comes to their work. At its most extreme, "idleness" means not doing the job. It's wasting time, slacking off, and generally being unproductive. That's a problem. But just because you're "getting it done" doesn't mean you're avoiding idleness. That's because the deepest problem is not so much idleness of the hands as it is idleness of the heart. In other words, many go through the motions—and even do the mechanics of their work with efficiency and productivity—but they've lost sight of God's purposes for them in it. When Paul says we're to do our work "with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord . . . as working for the Lord" (Col. 3:22-23), he means our work itself ought to be an act of worship to our King.

So how do you know if your heart is tending toward idleness? Some have come to see their jobs as merely a means to an end. "I work so I can play," or "I work so I can provide," or even "I work so I can give to my church." What's wrong with that way of thinking? It ignores the fact that God has purposes for us in our work itself. Our jobs are more than just means to an end. They are one of the key ways God matures us as Christians and brings glory to himself.

What's wrong with working for the weekend?

It depends on what you mean. If you mean that one of your primary motivations is to work to provide for your family, to support your church, to give to those in need, and to limit your time at work so you can spend time with family, then there's nothing wrong with it. God gives us the freedom to have multiple motivations for our jobs. And it's fine if the day-to-day mechanics of your job aren't the most satisfying—you can still glorify God by working as unto him by doing work that is good, serves your boss and customers, and provides for the needs of others.

However, if by "working for the weekend" you mean I slog through the week or don't really care about my job, that it's simply a means to doing "the really important things," then we'd like to challenge you to consider the purposes God has for you in your 9-to-5. One of the key themes of The Gospel at Work is that "who you work for is more important than what you do." God isn't compartmentalizing your life into the drudgery of 9-to-5 on the one hand and the "important stuff" of the weekends on the other.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones once remarked, "To me the work of preaching is the highest and the greatest and the most gracious calling to which anyone can ever be called." Was Lloyd-Jones mistaken to elevate one calling above the others?

Preaching is an awesome and wonderful calling. We pray and hope many will preach full-time, and for that matter become missionaries and seminary professors. I've heard others express this same thought, and I don't think they're making theological statements so much as personal ones. For example, for Lloyd-Jones I think preaching was the highest and greatest and most gracious calling he could possibly pursue. Anything else would've been "lower" for him. But is this true for everyone? No, it can't be.

The idea espoused in this quote is one I've wrestled with over the years, so we wrote a chapter in The Gospel at Work specifically addressing the question: "Is full-time ministry more valuable than my job?" How do we come down on that question? By recognizing the King deploys (calls) different people to different roles.

We shouldn't all be pastors, and we shouldn't all be police officers, either. So how does it all get determined? The King deploys us as he wills. He puts us where we'll serve his purposes best. Some he deploys as pastors and missionaries; others he deploys as teachers and businesspeople.

Ultimately, it's up to him. It comes down to personally trusting the King with your life and working with others and through opportunities to discern where he's assigning you to labor faithfully for him.

How can pastors better empathize with and encourage their people in regard to their work?

I've had many conversations with people in the workplace who feel discouraged. Of course, not all discouragement can be solved by a pastor. The point of The Gospel at Work is to help people start with their own hearts, goals, and expectations.

But just because a pastor can't do everything doesn't mean he can't do some things. I wrote a longer article on how pastors can encourage their congregations, but I'll just mention three ideas here:

  • Encourage those in the workplace by caring about their daily lives. Do this by praying for them publicly, hearing them share how they're applying the gospel to some of the challenges they're facing, and by intentionally encouraging them—especially on Mondays!
  • Give those in the workplace a vision for "vine work" in their families, in their workplaces, and in the church. This vision primarily means applying the gospel and the whole counsel of God to their whole lives. Work hard at application and show how the gospel seeps into every area of their lives.
  • Take advantage of the "trellis-building powers" of those in the workplace. Most people I know in the workplace would love to use their skills, creativity, expertise, and experience to serve the church. Yet most are frustrated that they're rarely asked. One way to encourage folks, then, is to invite them to help you and the church.
 
 

Apr

07

2014

Joe Carter|6:00 AM CT

9 Things You Should Know About The Chronicles of Narnia

The end of March marked the sixty-fifth anniversary of C.S. Lewis completing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Here are nine things you should know about the Lewis' beloved novels:

narniachronicles1. The name 'Narnia' is a Latin word, referring to a town in ancient Italy called 'Narni'.

2. Lewis first thought of Narnia in 1939, but didn't finish writing the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, until a decade later in 1949. Lewis said of the idea for the book, "The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it."

3. Lewis believed the series should be read in the chronological order of the events covered in the books. But most readers, critics, and scholars believe they should be read in the order the books were published: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950), Prince Caspian (1951), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952), The Silver Chair (1953), The Horse and His Boy (1954), The Magician's Nephew (1955), The Last Battle (1956).

4. Lewis Scholar Michael Ward has proposed a theory that that Lewis deliberately constructed the Chronicles of Narnia out of the imagery of the seven heavens. According to astronomers before Copernicus in the sixteenth century, the seven heavens contained the seven planets which revolved around Earth and exerted influences over people and events and even the metals in the Earth's crust. In his book, Ward says, "In The Lion [the child protagonists] become monarchs under sovereign Jove; in Prince Caspian they harden under strong Mars; in The "Dawn Treader" they drink light under searching Sol; inThe Silver Chair they learn obedience under subordinate Luna; in The Horse and His Boy they come to love poetry under eloquent Mercury; in The Magician's Nephew they gain life-giving fruit under fertile Venus; and in The Last Battle they suffer and die under chilling Saturn."

5. 'Aslan', the name of the central Lion character in the Narnia Chronicles, is the Turkish word for 'lion'. Although Aslan is the only character to appear in all seven books, he never appeared in the first draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, even though it was published a year later.

6. The character of Puddleglum, who appears as a principal character in The Silver Chair, was based on Fred Paxford, who served as a handyman, gardener, and occasional cook for over 30 years at Lewis' home (the Kilns) in Oxford. Douglas Gresham described him as "a simple and earthy man who might be called a cheerful, eternal pessimist." If someone said "good morning" to Paxford, he might respond by saying "Ah, looks like rain before lunch though if it doesn't snow or hail that is."

7. The series of books took Lewis more than eight years to complete, though he spent only three months of that time writing the first book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

8. Although there are several maps of the Narnian universe available, the one considered the "official" version was published in 1972 by the books' illustrator, Pauline Baynes. (Illustration copyright © C.S. Lewis Pte. Ltd.)

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9. In a letter to a fifth-grade class, Lewis explained that Aslan is not meant simply to "represent" Jesus: "Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen."

 

Other posts in this series:

9 Things You Should Know about the Story of Noah

9 Things You Should Know About Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church

9 Things You Should Know About Pimps and Sex Traffickers

9 Things You Should Know About Marriage in America

9 Things You Should Know About Black History Month

9 Things You Should Know About the Holocaust

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Roe v. Wade

9 Things You Should Know About Poverty in America

9 Things You Should Know About Christmas

9 Things You Should Know About The Hobbit

9 Things You Should Know About the Council of Trent

9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis

9 Things You Should Know About Orphans

9 Things You Should Know about Halloween and Reformation Day

9 Things You Should Know About Down Syndrome

9 Things You Should Know About World Hunger

9 Things You Should Know about Casinos and Gambling

9 Things You Should Know About Prison Rape

9 Things You Should Know About the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About the 9/11 Attack Aftermath

9 Things You Should Know About Chemical Weapons

9 Things You Should Know About the March on Washington

9 (More) Things You Should Know About Duck Dynasty

9 Things You Should Know About Child Brides

9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking

9 Things You Should Know About the Scopes Monkey Trial

9 Things You Should Know About Social Media

9 Things You Should Know about John Calvin

9 Things You Should Know About Independence Day and the Declaration of Independence

9 Things You Should Know About the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Cases

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About Human Cloning

9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain

9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood

9 Things You Should Know About the Boston Marathon Bombing

9 Things You Should Know About Female Body Image Issues

 

 
 

Apr

07

2014

Matt Smethurst|12:01 AM CT

20 Quotes from DeYoung's Taking God at His Word

The following 20 quotes caught my attention as I read Kevin DeYoung's tremendous forthcoming book, Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Crossway), now available for pre-order. Thanks to Tony Reinke for inspiring the 20 quotes idea.

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"Surely it is significant that this intricate, finely crafted, single-minded love poem—the longest in the Bible—is not about marriage or children or food or drink or mountains or sunsets or rivers or oceans, but about the Bible itself. . . . Psalm 119 is the explosion of praise made possible by an orthodox and evangelical doctrine of Scripture." (10, 14)

"As the people of God, we believe the word of God can be trusted in every way to speak what is true, command what is right, and provide us with what is good." (16)

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"No one who truly delights in God's word will be indifferent to the disregarding of it." (18)

"There is no calamity like the silence of God." (19)

"The most effective means for bolstering our confidence in the Bible is to spend time in the Bible. . . . May God give us ears, for we all need to hear the word of God more than God needs any of us to defend it." (22-23)

"The dual authorship of Scripture does not necessitate imperfection any more than the two natures of Christ mean our Savior must have sinned." (35)

"Defending the doctrine of inerrancy may seem like a fool's errand to some and a divisive shibboleth to others, but, in truth, the doctrine is at the heart of our faith. To deny, disregard, edit, alter, reject, or rule out anything in God's word is to commit the sin of unbelief. . . . Finding a halfway house where some things in the Bible are true and other things (as we have judged them) are not is an impossibility. This kind of compromised Christianity, besides flying in the face of the Bible's own self-understanding, does not satisfy the soul or present to the lost the sort of God they need to meet." (37-38)

"You can think too highly of your interpretations of Scripture, but you cannot think too highly of Scripture's interpretation of itself. You can exaggerate your authority in handling the Scriptures, but you cannot exaggerate the Scriptures' authority to handle you. You can use the word of God to come to wrong conclusions, but you cannot find any wrong conclusions in the word of God." (39-40)

"Of the four attributes of Scripture, [sufficiency] may be the one that evangelicals forget first. If authority is the liberal problem, clarity the postmodern problem, and necessity the problem for atheists and agnostics, then sufficiency is the attribute most quickly doubted by rank-and-file churchgoing Christians." (43)

"The finality of Christ's redemption for us is intimately tied to the finality of his revelation to us. . . . If we say revelation is not complete, we must admit that somehow the work of redemption also remains unfinished. . . . Scripture is enough because the work of Christ is enough. They stand or fall together." (44, 48-49)

"If we learn to read the Bible down (into our hearts), across (the plot line of Scripture), out (to the end of the story), and up (to the glory of God in the face of Christ), we will find that every bit of Scripture is profitable for us." (52)

"Nowhere do Jesus or the apostles ever treat the Old Testament as human reflections on the divine. It is instead the voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:25; Heb. 3:7) and God's own breath (2 Tim. 3:16)." (64)

"Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because Scripture is necessary." (90)

"Our Messiah sees himself as an expositor of Scripture, but never a corrector of Scripture. He fulfills it, but never falsifies it. He turns away wrong interpretations of Scripture, but insists there is nothing wrong with Scripture, down to the crossing of t's and dotting of i's." (100)

"In the Gospels we see Jesus reference Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, Isaac and Jacob, manna in the wilderness, the serpent in the wilderness, Moses as the lawgiver, David and Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Elijah and Elisha, the widow of Zerephath, Naaman, Zechariah, and even Jonah, never questioning a single event, a single miracle, or a single historical claim. Jesus clearly believed in the historicity of biblical history." (102)

"Jesus may have seen himself as the focal point of Scripture, but never as a judge of it. The only Jesus who stands above Scripture is the Jesus of our own invention. . . . It is impossible to revere the Scriptures more deeply or affirm them more completely than Jesus did." (105)

"The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid, once and for all, of this 'red letter' nonsense, as if the words of Jesus are the really important words in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. . . . If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans, it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God, not just the parts spoken by Jesus." (116-17)

"No one succeeds at the highest level in sports without working out. No one makes it in music without lots of practice. No one excels in scholarship without years of study. And no one makes it far in the school of holiness without hours and days and years in the word." (119)

"In a world that prizes the new, the progressive, and the evolved, we need to be reminded that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). And since he remains the same, so does his truth. Which means sometimes consistency is the better part of valor." (120)

"Ultimately we believe the Bible because we believe in the power and wisdom and goodness and truthfulness of the God whose authority and veracity cannot be separated from the Bible. We trust the Bible because it is God's Bible. And God being God, we have every reason to take him at his word." (122)