A Friendly Reminder: Christian, The World Still Hates You

A reminder to Christians that this world is not our home, or our friend

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Dear Christian,

The world still hates you. Don’t think for a second that it doesn’t. It hates you and everything you stand for. It hates the values you hold and the God you worship. And because it hates your God, it hates you. A lot.

The Culture War Invades My Breakfast

This morning I see a news article from my local newspaper recapping and discussing the insanely popular pornographic TV show, Game of Thrones. “GoT” as it is popularly abbreviated has featured (I’m told) scenes of violent rape, incest, and its sex scenes are so bad they can’t be uploaded and shared on sites like YouTube and Vimeo because they are considered too pornographic. Since when did a newspaper start talking-up porn? Anything to make a buck.

Continue reading “A Friendly Reminder: Christian, The World Still Hates You”

More than a Coffee House, a Mission Field

I’m in another insurance class this week, with the state test tomorrow (prayers appreciated). In my absence to write a full article, please take two minutes and read this short, touching blog post about the simple power of human connection and gospel ministry between two unlikely people: a coffee house barista and her elderly regular customer. It’s a sweet story. Here’s an excerpt to whet your whistle:

A pivotal way to witness in the workplace is by reacting well when people treat us poorly. I experienced this firsthand with an elderly woman who was a regular at our café. Every evening, I struggled with serving her. She would come to get her latte and always seemed to be unhappy, displaying a constant scowl on her face. She barely spoke to us when she came in but only looked down, placed her order, and walked away without making eye contact. I soon realized God had placed a great opportunity right in front of me to make a difference and do what I could to put a smile on her face.

Source: OUTWARD OPC

You can read the rest of it here.

Have a blessed week,

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Why I Don’t Celebrate Easter

I’m a Christian, but I don’t celebrate Easter. I don’t mark Good Friday or any of Holy Week. And when the time rolls around again, I don’t much celebrate Christmas either. Frankly, in some ways I wish no Christians did.

I’m not one of those “Christmas trees are bad because Babylonians worshipped trees” kind of Christians. I’m not saying a Christian who celebrates Christmas or Easter is somehow less of a Christian. I’m not saying special days are necessarily wrong (I love celebrating birthdays, for example). I’m just saying that if my church did Easter egg rolls/hunts/helicopter egg drops, I’d be finding another church faster than you could say “Peter Cottontail.” (Just like I left a church after its very blasphemous patriotic service one July 4th.)

I believe Christians are to be different than the world. Contra mundum (“against the world”) as the phrase goes in Latin. I believe it would be more of a witness to the world around us if Christians conducted themselves and their church services as usual on Easter, no special music, no special outfits, nothing special at all.

Just another Sunday…. But Sundays are for celebrating!

As believers we ought to be showing the world that we “celebrate Easter” every Sunday. If we only call-and-respond He is Risen!/He is Risen, Indeed! once a year, we’ve got it wrong. We could say that any Sunday of the year! (Or any day, for that matter.) Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday, not just some annual moving-target of a Sunday each year.

I admit, my unsaved family don’t understand this. The fact that my wife and I don’t really celebrate Christmas or Easter confounds them. How can you go to church all the time and read the Bible and be religious but not celebrate Christmas or Easter? they ask. (When I try to explain, it becomes evident fairly quickly that the question was a rhetorical one.)

I’m not saying that celebrating these days is wrong or sinful. A patriotic Memorial Day or July 4th service? Now those are sinful; but I don’t believe celebrating Christmas or Easter are. I just don’t think either is necessary, and certainly not in the over-the-top way so many man-centered churches hype them as a gimmick to draw in new attendees.

From what I read here, Charles Spurgeon, for example, was against the religiosity and “purely popish origin” of Christmas, not the general sentiments of warmth and goodwill the season brings. I agree. My wife and I hang a strip of fake garland across the mantel and fill stockings with little gifts of candy, pens, journals, etc. to each other. But I disagree with focus on the “baby Jesus” if it is at the expense of forgetting His finished work, present reign, and soon return.

Spurgeon seemed to take the same approach with Easter, having this to say about it:

To set apart an Easter Sunday for special memory of the resurrection is a human device, for which there is no Scriptural command, but to make every Lord’s-day an Easter Sunday is due to him who rose early on the first day of the week.

Charles Spurgeon (source)

There’s nothing wrong with Christians celebrating Easter; I’m just not a fan of making a big deal about it when everybody else does. But if you’re one of the Christians who look forward to this time each year, and you celebrate it, than I genuinely do wish you and yours,

Happy Easter!

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What Are You Living For?

In this crazy-fast busy world, take just one long minute and think about what it is that you are actually living for? What is the one thing that drives you to live every day, to endure the hassles of traffic, work, people, bills, etc.? Literally, what single thing makes you get out of bed each day?

As I talk to people, I listen to what is important to them and oftentimes what is most important to someone naturally bubbles to the surface somehow. Sometimes it’s direct, but often it comes out in other, even unintended, ways.

Is it family? The bonds of your spouse and children? Motherhood is a blessing from God. Still, even such a blessing can become an idol, just as a man (or woman) may be consumed by letting himself be defined by his career success. Just yesterday my wife told me that Charles Spurgeon was the oldest of 17, and 9 of them died in infancy. It’s a terrible thought, but every single day someone, somewhere, loses their family–what if tomorrow it was you?

Is it money? I once met a salesperson who said that before her feet hit the bedroom floor each morning she would ask herself, “Where can I get a new sale today?” Whether she knew it or not, she was living for money.

What are you hanging your life on?

There are endless reasons we could give for who we are and what we are living for.

What about what you occupy yourself with doing? In the overall population of the world, very few of us wake up each day literally hell-bent to traffic human lives, produce and sell drugs, lie, swindle, or murder. By God’s grace, most of us would say our reasons and motives are generally good. But are even “good” motives actually the right ones?

Three of Jesus’ closest friends on earth were two sisters, Martha and Mary, and their brother, Lazarus. In Luke 10:38-41, Luke records a story of a time when Jesus visited Martha’s home.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Marthawelcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’sfeet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. Andshe went up to him and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to servealone? Tell her then to help me. 41 But the Lord answered her, Martha, Martha, you areanxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosenthe good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” [ESV]

When Good is Bad

Martha’s motives were good. But, Martha’s number one priority was wrong.

If you are living your life for family, or success, or money, or even because you feel like the good work you do everyday caring for others pleases God and thus earns you points, these are all examples of the same strategic error Martha made. God’s order of how we ought to prioritize our lives is 180-degrees opposite what we naturally think.

So, what does God say ought to be your number one priority in life?

The Only Right Answer to the Question

“Martha, Martha…but one thing is necessary,” Jesus said (emphasis added). If you and I aren’t living every moment of every day of our lives in rapt attention to God and what he requires of us, we are as lost as ships adrift at sea. We ought to be looking to God every day (reading our Bibles and spending time in prayer with him), the same way a loyal dog looks to its master awaiting the next command.

God is holy. Sovereign. King. Lord. Master. He is God, he dwells in heaven and does whatever he wants. (Psalm 135:6) He created us, and as the creatures he owns, we owe him love and allegiance. Devotion. Surrender. Loyalty. Obedience. Anything less is, as RC Sproul so eloquently put it, “cosmic treason.”

Jesus didn’t suggest we, “repent and believe the Gospel.” He commanded it. He didn’t say, “Truly, truly, you should maybe consider being born again to see the Kingdom of God.” He said we must be. If our first reaction is to try to wiggle away from those truths, we’ve already lost the battle, and exposed what is actually our hatred for Jesus, not our love for Him.

However, we know we are truly born again when the answer to the question we started with is distilled down into one irreducible truth:

Jesus is Lord of my life.

If Jesus isn’t the reason behind everything you do, you are an idolator, and you might as well be burning incense and laying offerings before a stone. He commands you to leave your idols, go to him, and be born again.

And if you say you already are born again, but live like Jesus is some charm on the bracelet of your life, you’re a liar and a hypocrite, and you need to be genuinely born again.

So, today, What are you living for?

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[Guest Post] Timothy Cummings: Christians and Depression

Ed. Note: Today we hear from Tim Cummings, evangelist with Reformed Evangelism Fellowship. Tim serves in New Jersey, often sharing the Gospel on college campuses. We met in January, when we were team members on an evangelism trip to Uganda. Tim shared this recently in an email update and I thought it was important to share. -AR

“Come hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16).

Mandisa is a Christian contemporary singer who, after a good friend died of cancer and left behind a small child, plunged into a deep depression, with thoughts of suicide and using food for comfort.  The Lord broke through to her through some friends, and used counseling to help her emerge victorious.

Beth Moore is a Christian speaker and author who was counseling someone when things were said that triggered personal trauma buried deep in her past, plunging her into a deep depression for a year or so, during which the love of her family kept her connected to reality in the midst of the maelstrom.

Richard Wurmbrand was a pastor in Romania who, in the midst of imprisonment, torture, and interrogation, gave in to dark thoughts and stored pills in his mattress, purposing to “make away with himself” as Giant Despair tempted Christian and Hopeful to do in Doubting Castle.  Thankfully the mattress was providentially removed, and Wurmbrand found the “key of promise” restored to him. Though he remained in the physical prison, it became for him radiant with the beauty of Christ.

Charles Spurgeon, after a riot broke out during his preaching in which a number of people died, fell into black despair, during which, as he described it, “reason tottered on its throne.”  But the Lord broke through to him with the promises of the gospel, and though he struggled with dark depression throughout his life, the Light of Christ shone brightly through it.

Each of these accounts has proved to be very encouraging to me.  Since a good friend recently encouraged me to share a bit of my story over the last couple of years, I thought I would, in hopes that my testimony of God’s grace might “strengthen the weary one with a word” (Is. 50).

Two years ago I experienced what my wife described as a “perfect storm.”  I came down with another sinus infection, which lasted a couple of months.  There were difficult events that occurred, and there was trauma from the past that had not been effectively processed.  In the midst of all that, there came “infernal thoughts,” as Spurgeon described them–fiery darts that seemed to lodge and catch fire.

But all this really exposed spiritual and theological weaknesses.  My mind tended to be taken up with examining my performance–analyzing and dwelling on past mistakes, and over-analyzing what might be God’s will in a particular situation.  M’Cheyne said that for every one look at self we ought to take ten looks at Christ; recently I heard someone confirm that this is about the proportion we see in the book of Hebrews!  But when thoughts orbit around self, the spiral of despair is just around the corner, for no good thing dwells in my flesh. With a performance-oriented and guilt-inhibited mind, the devil had plenty of material to work with to weave webs of condemnation, and paralyze my will.  If hope is the mainspring of action, condemnation is the doorway of paralysis. And since I tended to be introspective about my emotional state, leaning far too heavily on my feelings as a barometer of my spiritual condition, feelings of depression made it seem as if the floor was caving in.

I spent about two months deep in the dungeon of Giant Despair.  The condemning, irrational, and infernal thoughts were overwhelming.  Assurance of salvation seemed quite out of reach, and salvation itself unlikely in either the present or the future.

The initial words of deliverance were from Psalm 131–given to me by a friend to read repeatedly.  The psalmist speaks of stilling and quieting his soul, instead of giving way to proud and fretful thoughts.  Thoughts of condemnation and uncertainty are really the counterparts of proud self-righteousness. Obsession over one’s performance must give way to trust.

After a good and peaceful night’s sleep, I woke to new temptations to condemnation.  But the Lord provided two passages ready-to-hand. One was Zechariah 3, which spoke of Satan the accuser being removed from the presence of the Lord since Joshua the priest’s new clean robes rendered his accusation an irrelevant lie.  The other was from Romans 8: “Who shall lay a charge against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies; who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died; yes, rather who was also raised; who is at the right hand of God; who also makes intercession for us.”

A little while later, after returning from a rest at my pastor’s cabin in the woods (which itself I found to be a crucial ingredient to good spiritual and emotional equilibrium), I happened upon a book my wife Renee was reading, C.J. Mahaney’s Living the Cross-Centered Life.  It seemed to effectively diagnose and provide a remedy for the center of my spiritual / theological problem.  It was like spiritual accupressure. Mahaney stated that the evangelical church tends to suffer from condemnation, legalism, and subjectivism.  This book launched me into a process of “marinating” in the “word of the cross.” I consistently reviewed Scriptures about the cross (from Isaiah 53; Hebrews 10; Romans 3, etc.).  I read books of grace (Jerry Bridges’ Transforming Grace and The Discipline of Grace).  I listened to sermons focusing on the cross (Spurgeon and Mahaney).  I listened to songs focusing on the cross and its present relevance for the believer (Fanny Crosby’s “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” is now a favorite, as well as “Beneath the Cross of Jesus,” contemporary songs on Youtube were also helpful, such as the Newsboys’ “Hallelujah for the Cross”).

But along with “marinating” in the word of the cross, it was also a great blessing for the gospel to be “kneaded” into my life in specific areas, and concerning specific issues.  A good friend of mine who is a counselor was willing to talk on the phone once a week to work through a book with me that accomplished just this. Other friends and counselors were able to consistently point me to the place where freedom and stability in the Christian life are maintained–the cross.

As I’ve learned to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ, my will has been more and more freed (He did say the truth would make us free).  The whole counsel of God as revealed in His Word is what provides logs for the steam engine of the will. And as I’ve learned to pay attention to Christ instead of my emotions (since, as Billy Graham said, substituting feeling for faith is a heresy), I find that Christ Himself satisfies my deepest affections, and in the midst of darkness He is my Light.

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There are various practical suggestions that could be made, and perhaps will be made, concerning personal evangelism.  At the very heart of it, though, is an awareness of the profound depths of divine love displayed at the cross, for me. Also at the very heart of personal evangelism is a love for the lost that can only be kindled at the place where love for the lost was indelibly demonstrated . . . at the cross.

The Holy Spirit has been given to the church–all flesh–all kinds of people–for the purpose of personal evangelism.  Before Peter spoke at Pentecost, 120 believers of various ages and genders were speaking of the mighty works of God, filled with the Holy Spirit.  And the Holy Spirit comes to focus our attention on Jesus Christ, and to engender His love for the lost in us.

Training and tools are necessary.  What is essential, though, is the awareness of the greatness of Jesus’s sacrifice, and a love for the lost that reflects His.  If you receive these from the Holy Spirit, and trust Him to lead you, He Himself will by His wisdom provide you with strategic ways and means for the situations you will encounter.


Again, I’m grateful for Tim’s permission to share this and his courage to share his story. If you’d like more information or to support his work, please visit Tim’s bio and support page here. -AR