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Msg #2220 How To Love Your Neighbor What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
Msg #2215 Before Easter What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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Msg #2131 When Government is the False Teacher What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
Msg #2128 My Sheep Hear My Voice What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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BR Lakin - Why I Know There Is A God (Pt. 3 of 3) Bascom Ray (BR) Lakin (January 5, 1901- March 15, 1984) was a Baptist preacher and evangelist. BR Lakin was born on a farm near Fort Gay, West Virginia, on the Kentucky border. His mother had prayed for a "preacher man" and had dedicated him to God
BR Lakin - Why I Know There Is A God (Pt. 2 of 3) Bascom Ray (BR) Lakin (January 5, 1901- March 15, 1984) was a Baptist preacher and evangelist. BR Lakin was born on a farm near Fort Gay, West Virginia, on the Kentucky border. His mother had prayed for a "preacher man" and had dedicated him to God
BR Lakin - Why I Know There Is A God (Pt. 1 of 3) Bascom Ray (BR) Lakin (January 5, 1901- March 15, 1984) was a Baptist preacher and evangelist. BR Lakin was born on a farm near Fort Gay, West Virginia, on the Kentucky border. His mother had prayed for a "preacher man" and had dedicated him to God
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Generations fascinate Americans. Among other things, we study them for clues about who we are becoming as a nation. The recent research report from the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University, entitled Millennials in America: A Generation in Crisis, reveals new insights into where the nation is heading as the individuals in the youngest adult generation take on a growing number of positions of power and influence.Defining Millennials as those born between 1984 and 2002, keep in mind that this group constitutes the largest generation living in the United States today. Some 80 million strong (and growing, thanks to immigration), they are roughly one-quarter of the nation’s total population and about one-third of the adult population. They currently outnumber Baby Boomers by some eight million people, a gap that is expanding by more than one million people per year. Their influence in the marketplace is already substantial: they are four out of every 10 working-age Americans, three out of every 10 registered voters, and the prime segment of consumers in a nation driven by consumption. They are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in our history.Like every generation before them, they have been shaped by world events and how their nation and family responded to those events. Among the most significant life-shaping events they have experienced during their formative years are the end of the Cold War; the Rodney King beatings and subsequent riots; the introduction and rapid growth of the internet; the mass shooting at Columbine High School; the 9/11 terrorist attacks; the introduction of groundbreaking technology such as the iPod, tablets, digital video game consoles, and smartphones; game-changing social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter; the destructive fury of numerous hurricanes, including Katrina and Sandy; the economic crisis of 2008; and the election of Barack Obama.Considering the impact of those life-shaping events helps us to understand some of the life choices and goals that are defining Millennials. For instance, they have been actively redefining and redesigning family through their beliefs about the value of life, marriage, the appeal of raising children, and even their ideas about sexual identity and behavior. They have struggled to experience healthy relationships, at least partly due to their immersion in and reliance upon digital technology.Millennials are known as poster children for the narcissistic lifestyle. That encompasses their pervasive yet uncomfortable materialism; hypersensitivity to criticism; and inconsistent and fluid norms, values, attitudes, and lifestyles. They are seeking to rewrite employment norms by valuing achievements (rather than hours worked) and the social value of the tasks performed. They are leading the “cancel culture” movement. Millennials are redefining religious norms as well, responsible for a long list of faith-related transitions. These include fewer self-professed Christians, less acceptance of the Bible and absolute moral truth, severely diminished interest in organized religion or institutional faith commitments (e.g., church engagement, prayer, Bible reading), strikingly low levels of trust in Christian pastors, common perceptions about Christians being hypocrites, and record levels of biblical illiteracy.The research contained in Millennials in America: New Insights into the Generation of Growing Influence provides specific evidence of these trends. The analysis describes how all those conditions are summarized in four major symptoms of a deeper crisis. Those symptoms are the generation’s lack of a sense of purpose to life (acknowledged by 75 percent); the widespread, constant fear and anxiety they experience (admitted to by 54 percent); the struggle most of them have making, maintaining, and enjoying personal relationships; and the absence of a life-sustaining religious faith alluded to by more than three-quarters of them.But if those are the symptoms, what do they indicate? The data produce an inescapable conclusion: the absence of a biblical worldview.Worldview Is the Root IssueGiven the breadth and depth of the changes characterizing Millennials, some people question how worldview can be the central issue behind those transitions. The explanation, though, is deceptively simple. Worldview is the foundation of every decision made by every person every moment of every day! Understanding what motivates a person to make their choices, no matter what kind of choice it may be, requires an understanding of their worldview. There are numerous worldviews from which people may pick and choose desirable options. Some of the best-known are postmodernism, secular humanism, modern mysticism, biblical theism (i.e., the biblical worldview), and Marxism. Groundbreaking research by the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University has shown that almost nine out of 10 American adults select appealing ideas from a variety of worldviews and create a unique, personally appealing worldview that is best known as syncretism. Even four out of every five born-again Christians have syncretism as their guiding philosophy of life.How, then, do we explain the fact that seven out of every 10 American adults claim to be Christian but so few—just six percent of all adults and only nine percent who claim to be Christian—have a biblical worldview? The answer is that families and churches have been neither intentional nor strategic at shaping the worldview of their children; it has largely developed by default, influenced primarily by media, government, and schools.Millennials fit the same pattern as everyone else. Slightly fewer of them claim to be Christian than is true among older adults, and slightly fewer of them (only four percent) possess a biblical worldview.Because one’s worldview drives their choices every minute of every day, why would we expect our nation to reflect biblical behavior when we do not accept biblical principles? After all, we do what we believe. Most Americans do not really believe biblical principles; therefore their behaviors do not reflect those principles. Millennials are simply a more extreme example of these realities in practice.The Millennial WorldviewTo gain insight into Millennials—and the future they will create in America—let’s take a look at a few of the most significant spiritual perspectives of the generation. What we are about to examine are the most common perspectives; millions of Millennials are exceptions to every one of these views, but we are seeking to understand the flow and momentum of the generation’s thinking.Millennials perceive themselves to be “good” people. Sin is not a concept with which they are comfortable, and thus they do not dwell on it. They do not believe that we are born into sin; they believe that every person makes life whatever they choose it to be, and most of them dismiss the idea of having a sinful nature.They believe the purpose of life is to experience as much happiness as possible. They expect such experiences to come from personal accomplishments and material goods. Most Millennials contend that wisdom, insight, and meaning in life are the products of dialogue and voluntary acts of goodwill.The much-discussed Millennial identity crisis is due to their excessive and biblically-unwarranted trust and belief in themselves. As a result of that self-reliance, they define their identity based upon a variety of self-determined attributes: gender, education, wealth, personal accomplishments, titles, and so forth.Their relational challenges are not surprising in light of their worldview. After all, young adults typically harbor intolerance of opposing ideas and a conditional disrespect for the value of life. The Cultural Research Center data even show that most Millennials are indifferent to the “Golden Rule,” instead indicating that their response to other human beings should be driven by their emotions at the moment.We might like to think that if they would just turn to God and understand who He is and how He is involved in their life, things would be better. Unfortunately, the foundations for such insights are missing. Consider the implications of these beliefs:74 percent believe that all religious faiths are of equal value.56 percent reject the existence of absolute moral truth; they list feelings, personal experiences, and advice from family and friends as their most trusted sources of moral guidance.35 percent believe that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, just and perfect Creator of the universe who still rules that universe today.40 percent are “Don’ts”—that is, people who don’t know if God exists, don’t believe that God exists, or don’t care if He exists; they are increasingly inclined to think of themselves as being their own “higher power.”16 percent believe that when they die, they will spend eternity in God’s presence because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.22 percent believe that life is sacred.11 percent define “consistent obedience to God” as the best indicator of a successful life.In essence, then, the Millennial worldview can be summarized in four words: “life is about me.” Consequently, it is not surprising that this is a generation known for doing what is right in their own eyes.See the ConnectionsCan you see the connections between Millennial’s worldviews and their life challenges?No wonder many lack a sense of direction, purpose, and meaning in life. They have closed their eyes, ears, and hearts to their Creator. They have rejected His words. They believe that success is experienced through temporal pursuits driven by their intelligence and abilities.No doubt they are having relational troubles. They have not invested in their relationship with God. They have placed themselves at the center of their reality and expect everyone to serve and care for them. They place the ultimate value upon themselves and little (if any) value upon others.Of course, they are mired in emotional and mental health issues. They embrace wacky ideas from worldly philosophies, such as karma. That philosophy teaches that you get what you deserve. Naturally, a majority of young adults are troubled by anxiety and depression; what else would the notion of karma possibly produce? Our young adults fail to see that one of the beauties of a relationship with Jesus is that through His forgiveness and restoration, we do not get what we deserve! Instead, we get eternal life, forgiveness, hope, a special calling, and the gifts to carry out that calling. What a relief!The anxiety and depression that most Millennials admit to is a natural consequence of a worldview that submits the God of Israel does not exist. Imagine waking up every morning thinking that it all depends on you, that there is no higher power to control evil or supply truth and guidance; you’re it! How could anyone possibly come to such an inane conclusion? Ask the millions of young adults who freely entertain the principles of Marxism, postmodernism, secular humanism, or nihilism, because those popular worldviews propose such foolishness. These fundamentally-flawed philosophies shape the decisions of Millennials and cause debilitating outcomes such as mental illness and emotional dissonance.It is no surprise that young adults are feeling spiritually bankrupt. They have rejected the God of all creation. They have rejected the Savior of humankind. They have denied the existence of the Holy Spirit whom God has graciously sent to help us from moment to moment. They see themselves as good and ignore their sin and its implications.They have bought into the notion of love as a feeling. They do not realize that God helps us understand that love is a commitment made real by doing what is best for others. Millennial love is narcissistic; Christian love is sacrificial.Millennials are self-centered enough to think that because they choose a sexual identity based on emotion and desire, that is their identity. They fail to recognize the One who created them defines every element of their being, based on His perfect wisdom and purposes. As created subjects of the Master, we have no authority, competence, or capacity to determine our sexual identity.How heartbreaking it is to watch a large majority of an entire generation so completely and unknowingly miss the truth of life and eternity. Contrary to their grand conclusion—“life is about me”—nothing could be further from the truth. Life is about God. We simply have the privilege of taking part in His universe, for His purposes, to enjoy and serve and glorify Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Anything else is just wasting time and opportunity.Can They Become Disciples of Jesus?Those with eyes to see and ears to hear understand Jesus is the only hope for deliverance from the devastating lies of the world. But most Millennials—24 out of every 25 of them, according to the research—do not have the eyes and ears to perceive truth. Can we do anything to help them see God’s truth?Of course we can. There is a remnant of believers in America— you are likely among them—who are called to be the salt and light so desperately needed by these young adults.Here are four ideas for you to consider as you pray and prepare for your role in renewing the heart and soul of America, especially through your interactions with Millennials.1.
Today begins the Jewish Feast of Unleavened Bread, more commonly known as Passover. For Christians, today is observed as Good Friday, a less conspicuous counterpart to Resurrection Sunday which follows. However, while Christians don’t celebrate Passover, the chief festival of the Old Covenant is rich with symbolism of Christ. Why else would Paul, “A Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5), proclaim, “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7)?To understand the significance of Passover for Christians, let’s look back to Exodus 12, where God ordained the first Passover. In nine plagues, God has devastated Egypt, displaying his power over the Pharoah and all the nation’s idols, but the Israelites were still in slavery. God had promised that a tenth and final plague would kill every firstborn in Egypt and compel Pharoah to finally let them go. To prepare for the tenth plague and the exodus, God gave the people instructions to observe the Feast of Passover—a strange setting for a feast. They were to “eat it in haste” (Ex. 12:11), ready to begin their journey at any moment. They were to eat unleavened bread, and even purge all leaven out of their houses (Ex. 12:15). And they were to kill a yearling lamb to eat and sprinkle its blood on their doorframes (Ex 12:6-8).The command to sprinkle a lamb’s blood may initially seem strange, but it was not without a purpose. God explained, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Ex. 12:13). When God’s angel saw the blood, he literally passed over those Israelite houses, sparing them from judgment. They were to stay inside all night (Ex. 12:22), so that the blood-marked doorway would stand literally between them and death. It was an act of obedience and faith; they stained their doors not because the blood had magical properties, but because God had commanded it. They had to believe God’s word that he would pass over houses sprinkled with blood.Significantly, the sign of the blood was for the people of Israel, not for God. God knows everything, including the hearts who trust in him. He needs no physical symbols to guide him. No, this sign visibly represented for the people the distinction God was making between those who believed and obeyed him, and those who did not. The form of this sign was the blood of a sacrificial lamb.The blood also served to teach the people of Israel that God did not spare them because of their inherent goodness. Abraham had asked God, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Gen. 18:23). The answer to the rhetorical question is, of course not, because “God is a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11). If the Israelites were righteous, they would not have needed blood to protect them from God’s judgment.In fact, “none is righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3:10). We, too, are guilty of sin against a holy God. We, like the Israelites, need forgiveness, and “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). So, like them, we need the blood of another to stand between us and God’s just wrath. The Bible teaches clearly and repeatedly (because we are naturally inclined to deny) that we are helpless to atone for our own sins.But there is good news! “God will provide for himself the lamb,” said Abraham (Gen. 22:8)—and God provided a lamb, both for Abraham (Gen. 22:13-14) and for us. God sent John the Baptist to testify to his Lamb. When John saw Jesus, he proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29).The inspired writers of the Bible leave no doubt concerning how Jesus is like the Passover lamb. Just as the blood of a lamb “without blemish” (Ex. 12:5) stood between the Israelites and death, so Christians are “ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Jesus was crucified on “the day of Preparation of the Passover” (Jn. 19:14), the very day the Passover lamb was killed. Even Jesus’ silence before his accusers (Mat 26:63, 27:14) fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb, as Isaiah prophesied, “like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). This is the passage the Ethiopian eunuch was studying when the Holy Spirit providentially guided Philip to his chariot, where we read, “Beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). Jesus’ meekness, his perfection, and even the day of his death prove that he really is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”Jesus fulfilled the type of the Passover lamb in his death (Mat. 5:17), but, before he died, he transformed the Passover into something new. At his last supper with his disciples, which was a Passover meal (Lk. 22:15), Jesus “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Just as the Passover served as a perpetual memorial of God delivering his people from Egypt (Ex. 12:14,17), so the Lord’s Supper is a perpetual remembrance for Christians of Jesus Christ delivering us from sin.Thus, for Christians, the Lord’s Supper has replaced the Passover; the substance has replaced the symbol; the reality has replaced the shadow (Heb. 10:1). Jesus did away with the yearly calendar of sacrifices when he “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Heb. 10:12). Through God’s deliverance, the people of Israel left their bondage in Egypt and sojourned in the wilderness on their way to the promised land of rest. Through’s Christ’s deliverance, the people of God now leave their bondage to sin (Rom 6:18) and live in the world as sojourners (1 Pet. 2:11) until they reach God’s promised, final rest (Heb. 4:6-10).This is our hope: to see our precious Lord Jesus with uncorrupted eyes, and to rejoice in his glorious presence for all eternity. There he is in heaven, “a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Rev. 5:6). Although a Lamb, he is also “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David,” who “has conquered” (Rev. 5:5). Our hope in him is sure, without any tinge of wavering. He will be victorious over all his enemies. As Paul reminds us, “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom. 8:31)?How does seeing Christ in Passover apply to a Christian’s daily life? You may remember that one feature of the Passover meal was removing leaven from the house and eating unleavened bread. The reason Moses gives for this instruction is the urgency of their exodus, “because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait” (Ex. 12:39). To this reason Paul adds another, lasting one:Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5:7-8).In the passage’s context, Paul is rebuking the Corinthian church for tolerating incestual adultery in the church and not expelling the unrepentant sinner. Now that we are bought with the blood of Christ, we belong to him and ought to be holy as he is holy. The “old leaven” is our old sinful passions and habits, which can work through all our life, spoiling our witness. Throwing out the old leaven represents making a clean break with our old nature and living to God alone. Quoting from the Levitical law, Paul exhorts the Corinthian congregation to “purge the evil person from among you” (1 Cor. 5:13). And purge the evil from your heart, too.Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. Christ rose from the dead as the “firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15:20), God’s guarantee that those who trust in him will also rise when Christ returns and live with him forever. Because that is certain, we must all consider this question: is there anything in your life that you would be ashamed to do in the presence of a holy God? Now is the time to repent. Those who harden their hearts (like Pharoah) will mourn when Christ returns. Those who repent now will rejoice when Christ returns. Risen Lord Jesus, come quickly!
For many people, 2022 began with a lot of promise. But recent developments have once again reminded us of the consequences of living in a fallen world. Over the past few weeks, headlines have been dominated by ghastly war crimes committed against the Ukrainian people. We’ve also learned about five fully formed babies who may have been the victims of illegal partial-birth abortions or infanticide in our nation’s capital, and rising prices for gas and other consumer goods are forcing families to make difficult decisions. A divisive U.S. Supreme Court confirmation seems to have only exacerbated partisan political tensions.In short, the religious, political, and cultural fault lines that divide Americans have resurfaced, and pessimism and anxiety are once again clouding the optimism that many of us felt earlier in the year.On some level, the disillusionment many are feeling today is not unlike how Jesus’ followers must have felt on the first Good Friday. Less than a week after His triumphant arrival into Jerusalem, Jesus is now gasping for breath on a Roman cross while His friends look on helplessly and His enemies gloat. The hope and triumph of Palm Sunday is a distant memory.Of course, those familiar with the Bible’s storyline know that Friday is not the end of the story. Easter is on the horizon. But Jesus’ resurrection is only glorious because of His obedience and faithfulness in death. Thus, it is appropriate on Good Friday to dwell for a while on the horror and sorrow of the crucifixion as we await Resurrection Sunday.Jesus’ Final HoursAccording to the New Testament, Jesus’ final week began with His euphoric entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Over the ensuing days, Jesus ministered to crowds of Jewish pilgrims, outmaneuvered religious leaders seeking to embarrass and ensnare Him, and prepared the disciples for the end of His earthly mission. By Thursday evening, Judas’ treasonous plan was in motion. Following the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus enters the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. In the shadows of the olive trees, Jesus prays earnestly and prepares to face God’s wrath against humanity’s sin (Luke 22:41-44).After praying in the garden, Jesus is arrested, the disciples flee, and He is taken before the Sanhedrin. After a hastily arranged mock trial held in the middle of the night, Jesus is brought before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of the region. After an initial interrogation, Pilate has Jesus flogged, assuming this punishment would appease Jesus’ opponents. But the crowd, incited by their jealous leaders, demands Jesus’ crucifixion. Reluctantly, Pilate consents, fearful of the frenzied crowd’s growing unrest.Forced to carry His own cross, Jesus arrives at Golgotha, a public place outside the city. There, He is crucified between two criminals, fulfilling an Old Testament prophecy that predicted God’s Messiah would be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). For about six hours, Jesus hangs on the cross, His bloodied body in view of everyone passing by, including jeering soldiers and Jewish religious leaders. At last, around three o’clock in the afternoon, the Son of God breathes His last and dies (Luke 23:46). Jesus’ body is given to Joseph of Arimathea, who quickly buries Jesus in a nearby tomb.
A few months ago, one of my best friends moved away, and I was plunged into some of the deepest grief I have ever experienced. It sent me spiraling into a season of depression and provoked one of the deepest questionings of my Christian faith. At times, I cried out to God, pleading for an answer that would give me the peace and closure I needed to move on. At other times, I was filled with pride and arrogance, demanding an answer from God and refusing to trust Him again until I got one.In the following paragraphs, I am going to be very open about my struggles because I believe that is what the church needs. For too long, we have kept inside what we should be sharing. In Galatians 6:2, Paul commands us to “bear one another’s burdens.” Most relationships in the church barely scratch the surface, either because we are too afraid to share with others or because we don’t know how to respond. My hope is that this article will help both those who are grieving and those who want to minister to others.As I wrestled with my feelings, naturally I looked for others who had experienced something similar. I stumbled across C.S. Lewis’ A Grief Observed one day and decided to give it a read. I have read several of C.S. Lewis’ works in the past, most of which are either allegories or apologetics. A Grief Observed was very different, almost like a deeply personal journal that was not intended for public reading. Originally published under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk, Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after his dear wife Joy died of cancer. They were married for only four years before she passed away.Now, I have certainly not experienced the death of my friend. Nonetheless, there is still incredible grief from his absence. Growing up as an only child, I always wanted a brother. The Lord most definitely filled that desire through my friend. For the past four years, we spent nearly every day together. And through my friend, I repeatedly experienced the unconditional love of God as he forgave me when I was wrong and saw past all my many faults. And now, suddenly, he is gone. I am thankful that we still have the ability to communicate and visit each other. But the fact is that my friend no longer lives close by, and things will never be the same. That void is often overwhelming.As I read A Grief Observed, I found myself identifying with many of the feelings this giant of the faith experienced so many decades ago. At the start, Lewis addresses God’s apparent silence in our grief:But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?Thankfully, these are only thoughts that crossed Lewis’ mind and not anything he actually came to believe. I know such thoughts have crossed my mind during the last few months, and I’m sure they have crossed yours as well during a time of grief. Later, Lewis acknowledges that grief is one of God’s methods to test our faith, to show us who or what our trust is really in:God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.Now, I admit, my suffering pales in comparison to that which so many others have experienced, for which I am very thankful. But I have often wondered why a good God would allow some of His choicest servants to experience such indescribable suffering. I have seen families lose loved ones in tragic car accidents. I have seen godly people endure excruciating pain from cancer. I have witnessed individuals forever scarred by years of abuse. In The Problem of Pain, Lewis describes our suffering not as punishment from God but rather as a loving act from our Sovereign Creator:Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. We’re like blocks of stone out of which the Sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of his chisel, which hurt us so much, are what make us perfect. The suffering in the world is not the failure of God’s love for us; it is that love in action. For believe me, this world that seems to us so substantial, is no more than the shadowlands. Real life has not begun yet.As I’ve stumbled through this grieving process, I did some research on how Christians deal with grief, looking for similarities to what I was experiencing. My research concluded that there is indeed a cycle of shock, denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance—all of which I have experienced in this process and which C.S. Lewis experienced as well. He described grief as “not a state but a process. Grief is like a winding road where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” He also goes into detail describing the stages of grief and how they repeat, manifesting themselves differently in every person:For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it? How often—will it be for always?—how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.It’s also important to realize how grief can cloud our judgment. Sometimes, we are so overwhelmed that we can’t receive the help we really need. Lewis described it this way:The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.While C.S. Lewis experienced a deep and terrible questioning of his faith in his time of grief, similar to what I and many others have experienced, thankfully, Lewis had the hope of Heaven just as we do today:Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.I confess that I still don’t have all the answers that I want from God. I still don’t fully understand why He called my friend to move away, and I’m still not completely at peace with His plan. The life that we lived together was incredibly special, and the reality that this stage of life is over is very difficult for me to accept. But I have been reminded of three precious promises as I’ve grieved over the last few months:God loves me unconditionally despite my doubts and lack of peace.God’s ways are higher than mine. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”I know God is close to those who have a broken heart. “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18).For five months, I prayed that my friend wouldn’t leave. I begged God every single day that He would allow him to stay. But that was not His plan. And then came the day I prayed would never come; it was not the answer I had prayed for, wanted, or understood. I was devastated, and I still am. I’m not sure when I will stop grieving. I still don’t understand, but I know that I have a loving heavenly Father who has plans so much more than I can imagine, holds my broken heart, and wants me to trust Him completely.One of my favorite quotes from John Piper describes how to grieve well: “Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Feel the pain. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” That’s a choice we will all face at some point. We have only two options—trust God or lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5-6). This is certainly not the life I hoped would be. At times, I still weep deeply and continue to grieve, but I am desperately trying to trust God’s sovereign plan. Grieving is completely natural, but I want to do it well. I don’t want to waste this time of suffering and miss what God is trying to teach me. My prayer is that, like Job, I will submit to God’s will and “come forth as gold” (Job 13:15; 23:10).Whatever trial you are facing today, know that God has a purpose for your pain beyond your understanding. Know that He holds your broken heart in the palm of His hand. Let Him use your trial to refine you and minister to others. Better days are ahead, if not here, most assuredly in Heaven where all crying, sorrow, and pain will be gone (Rev. 21:4). And then, we will clearly see the purpose of what today seems so mysterious.
Most people believe journalists will lie to them. According to Gallup, only 36 percent of Americans have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in the media and there are lots of reasons why.Most recently, the legacy media has finally decided to admit it really was Hunter Biden’s laptop found in a pawnshop loaded with incriminating information, including incriminating information about Joe Biden, just before the 2020 election. When the media partnered with the Biden campaign to claim it was Russian disinformation, they weren’t telling the truth.They also told the nation a high school kid from Kentucky, Nick Sandmann, was racist because they didn’t like the look on his face, they said border patrol was whipping Haitian immigrants on horseback when they weren’t, and described riots they were sympathetic to as “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.” Big media has earned every bit of skepticism they receive.As a result, many have viewed coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine skeptically. More than one month since the start of the unprovoked invasion, Russia has been brutal. Russian troops have attacked hospitals, including maternity hospitals, residential areas and apartment buildings, and refugee evacuation routes. A bombing of a Ukrainian theater where civilians were sheltering is estimated to have killed 300 people. Overwhelming public evidence and intelligence sources led Secretary of State Antony Blinken to officially declare that Russia is committing war crimes.It is in situations like these that mistrust of the media can go too far. Rather than express shock and sympathy, there is almost a temptation to explain away the legacy media’s narrative. Some of us have become so cynical we assume everything we are being told is false. If they tell us Russia is the bad guy, they must be the good guy. If they tell us Ukraine is an innocent victim of a ruthless dictator, they must be the ruthless dictator.We saw something similar, but different, happen recently when right-wing pundit Dave Rubin announced, along with his same-sex partner, that they are expecting two babies through surrogacy. In the past, Rubin tended to align more with the Left but developed an appreciation for the dangers of wokeness and stood up to the Left’s attempts to silence speech and punish those they disagree with. Upon his announcement, many conservatives, including professing social conservatives at Prager University and Glenn Beck’s Blaze TV, were quick to congratulate Rubin, apparently out of personal affection. It’s one thing to wish Dave Rubin well in life despite choices we disagree with—it’s another thing to celebrate decisions and developments we know to be wrong because the person doing the wrong thing is someone we generally like.Which leads to the larger point.As Christians, we must evaluate the truthfulness of a claim or the goodness of an action without regard to tribal identification or our personal feelings about the people involved. This is what the Apostle Peter refers to as being soberminded. We often think of sobriety as the opposite of drunkenness, but alcohol is not the only thing that can impair our mental capacity. Our emotions can be just as intoxicating. Peter warned us about the danger of emotional intoxication when he instructed us to, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Mental intoxication makes it easy for others to deceive us and makes it easy for us to deceive ourselves.Sober-mindedness is an underrated yet important qualification for leadership in the church (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 2:2). Someone who determines what is true based on how they feel is poorly equipped to lead people, especially the people of God.
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