Elders’ Reflections

Elders’ Reflections

The Grandeur and Grief in Losing Tyler

In the span of a few short hours, I felt the tension of Christianity: God is good, but life is hard. I marveled at God’s grandeur and mourned the presence of grief. When my heart is overwhelmed with this uncomfortable paradox, I’m grateful the Bible has a language I can use: lament. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/may-his-cancer-heal-millions

What Made “#TylerStrong” ?

“The gravitational pull of Tyler’s winsome spirit, his interest in others, and his unflappable courage attracted fans from all walks of life. …People marveled at his attitude and wondered, How is he so strong?  As Tyler’s pastor for 10 years, I can tell you. It’s simple but profound: Tyler loved Jesus. That’s it. And it made him #TylerStrong.”

Evangelism and Discipleship

“Can you believe what they’re doing?” “I’m glad we don’t do that.” Differentiating self from not-self is probably one of the earliest lessons we learn in life. There’s actually a point in an infant’s life when she can’t distinguish between herself and her mother. At some point along the way, she learns that she is “me, here, now,” growing in understanding of identity, space, and time. The other major frame of reference one learns in tandem is “you, there, then.”…

Interrupted by Jesus

I imagine a woman peering out of her window as two people meander through the streets of Bethlehem. One of them appears to be pregnant and riding on a donkey led by the other. She doesn’t recognize them. One of her children pulls at the hem of her robe and, picking him up, turns away from the window. She sings a song and bounces him, forgetting about the two wayfarers. I imagine a man standing outside his home one evening…

The Mystery of the Gospel

“To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:18-20, emphasis added) In a few short days, we will celebrate the birth of Jesus, who is “God with us.” Somehow, we can…

Cast in Darkness

In her autobiographical account of bipolar disorder, Kathryn Green-McCreight describes her writing as an engagement with “the darkness that was often my only perceived companion.” She is not alone in identifying darkness as a place of great suffering – Jesus himself did so too (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). Here there is nothing to illuminate that which threatens and assails. There is no light of life nor warmth of companionship. In darkness, we cannot see behind us to remember from where…

Waiting

Adam and Eve had long since fallen, though sin remained. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had ceased their seeking and wandering, though Israel hadn’t yet found what it was looking for. Joseph’s dreams had faded away into history, though a dream of shalom persisted. The thunder of Mount Sinai had become a distant memory, though the law remained steadfast. The walls of Jerusalem were toppled, though God remained sovereign. The voices of the prophets had been silenced, though their words echoed…

Hope Amidst Cynics, Escapists, and Optimists

Aldous Huxley imagined a utopian society in which the purpose of all living was pleasure. People were endlessly gratified with new products, new games, an addictive drug called soma, and abundant and seemingly inconsequential sex. Such a society was constructed and maintained by others who found it the best way to maintain power and resist the chaos that existed beyond the society’s borders in the wilderness. Huxley actually had a far more dour view of our own world. “Maybe this world,” referring…

“I Was Far Too Easily Pleased”

From Desiring God and John Piper — “…These felt like competing motives. I could aim to make God look great, or I could aim at my own satisfaction. I did not have a framework of thought where these two motives fit together. They seemed like alternatives….” https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/i-was-far-too-easily-pleased

When the Future You Planned for Never Comes

Here is a mature Christian perspective, dealing with Real People having to deal with the brokenness of our Real World, in utter dependence upon the Real Jesus.  No pablum here… https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/when-the-future-you-planned-for-never-comes  

Improving Upon Your Baptism

Baptism is a wonderful sacrament given to us by God. Before a child is baptized, a minister asks the child’s parents several questions. If the person is old enough to answer for themselves, then they are asked directly: Do you acknowledge your child’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit? Do you claim God’s covenant promises in her behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for…

The Psalms: Real Feelings About The Real World…

“The Psalms keep us from being naïve, from having a naïve optimism about the emotional possibilities of fallen people. And they help us navigate the seas of embattled emotions…  The Psalms, more than any other book in the Bible, illustrate the sobering fact that our vision of God is often obscured. The psalmists’ joy in God is often conflicted and embattled….” https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/your-emotions-matter-to-god/excerpts/the-bible-never-ignores-our-feelings  

3 Things American Citizens Could Learn from Christian Missionaries

A Christian missionary typically moves overseas to minister among a group of people who differ from him or her linguistically, religiously, socially, culturally, and politically. …But in spite of—even because of—these deep differences, good missionaries are known for refusing to caricature the people’s religion, mock their culture, or impugn their motives. Instead, missionaries generally do three things that we—everyday Americans—ought to imitate in our coffee shop conversations… 3 Things American Citizens Could Learn from Christian Missionaries  

Shrewd Living

We’ve come a long way since that primordial moment when God saw that this world was, six times over, good, and then finally, very(!) good. We’ve come a long way, and a long way from paradise isn’t a good thing. Chuck described this world in which we now find ourselves as an “alloyed world.” Even the things we might assume are neutral – like money or technology – actually have their own formative influences. Everything from credit cards to ventilators…

Yes and…!

Have you ever played the improv game “Yes and?” It can be pretty silly and illustrates an important conversational point. Someone might start by saying, “My car is red!” Then another person says, “Yes and the sky is blue!” Then the first replies, “Yes and Mandolin Orange is a great band!” Simply by use of the word “and,” each subsequent sentence builds on the previous even if they’re unrelated. It’s collaborative. The alternative to this little game is, “Yes but.”…

If You Hate Jews, You Hate Jesus

“As Christians, we should have a clear message of rejection of every kind of bigotry and hatred, but we should especially note what anti-Semitism means for people who are followers of Jesus Christ.”…  Below is a link to an article this morning from Russell Moore: https://www.russellmoore.com/2018/10/28/if-you-hate-jews-you-hate-jesus/

A People of Signs, Seals, and Salves

In our modern world, medications—and indeed all medical interventions—compete with the sacraments of the church by means of imposing symbolic authority over how we conceive of our health, life, suffering, and dying. By ingesting a medication, we can be unified with what it symbolizes. Medications can act as both a sign of the working of this empty promise and as a seal, setting apart this person as one who faithfully awaits the fulfillment of this promise. Read more at Fathom…

What Does God Require?

Q39. What is the duty which God requireth of man? The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will. (Mic. 6:8, 1 Sam. 15:22) We pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I admit, I confess, I’ve found myself scanning over the words without praying them. My mouth forms sounds without meaning as my sleepy mind drifts amidst thought. In my more cogent moments, though, I struggle with not knowing God’s…

Reforming the Healer’s Vocation

All work in one’s daily life is done for the glory of God. Being a priest, monk, or nun does not get one any closer to God, and in fact, may draw one further from God. The consecration of one’s work is not a little comfort to ingest along with some chamomile tea at the end of a long day in the clinic or hospital. There are at least three practical ramifications of Luther’s reclamation and reformation of “vocation.” Read…

Useful Approaches to Reading Through the Bible (Reprinted from TGC)

The link below is to a TGC article which first appeared in December of 2015.  If you are interested in reading through the Bible on a consistent basis and at a pace that is appropriate for your daily life, this article provides a choice of reading plans, some of which  may prove particularly well adapted to your rhythms: . . Reading the Whole Bible in 2016: An FAQ
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