As believers, we don’t have to grieve like the rest of the world. (1 Thess. 4:13) We know that because of Christ’s declaration that “it is finished”, we have the promise that the sting of death has been taken away. Because of this, we can rest in peace knowing that at the end of the book of the believer’s life, God has written: “to be continued.”
My kids love stories, and honestly, I would argue that we all do.
I remember around the age of ten, my dad would read a chapter of the Hardy Boys before bed. As my brothers and I listened, we would become engulfed in the story. However, as exciting as it was, there was always a quiet depression that would begin to set in upon realizing that the chapter was ending.
As we consider grief there are three points that we should consider:
- Realizing Grief Will Come
Many times, the experience of a loved one’s death will bring the same sense of Déjà vu as their story comes to an end. Since the fall, loss has become a continued reality. The scriptures explain that as the descendants of Adam, humanity longs to do whatever can be done to add to the story of life. In the book of Hebrews, the author explains this by saying, that because of the fall, all have been placed under the bondage of death and will do anything and everything to outrun it. (Heb. 2:15)
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9 Reasons You May Be in a Spiritual Drought—and How to Find RefreshmentBy Derek J. Brown — 9 months ago
Written by Derek J. Brown |
Monday, July 11, 2022
Because we are sinful and because we live in a fallen world with fallen bodies, we must face up to the reality that spiritual dryness will come again. That is why the psalmist says that the Word of God restores his soul (Ps. 19:7). That it was in need of restoring implies that his soul was no longer in a happy, satisfied state—it was in need of refreshment. Knowing this and recognizing potential causes of spiritual drought can help us to weather seasons of little or no rain.
If you have been a Christian for any amount of time, you know that spiritual passion, sight, and affections ebb and flow. At times our sense of spiritual realities can be strong and vibrant. Other times our hearts feel like lead weights, and we find ourselves longing for God to visit us once again and bring refreshment (Ps. 85:4-7). These seasons are usually referred to as times of “spiritual drought” or “spiritual dryness” and find intimate expression in many of the Psalms.
David often cried out to God in times where his soul seemed like dust, and he yearned to be refreshed by the presence of the Lord (Ps. 13; Ps. 63). Other psalmists expressed their longing to have their parched souls be replenished by the Lord (Psalm 42). Those who have tasted of the goodness of Christ know what it means to be without that taste; it leaves us pleading, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Ps. 13:3).
Spiritual drought, though a persistent and unwelcome visitor, is not something with which we must constantly live. There are Biblical means by which we can, by grace, put ourselves in the way of refreshment; we can be restored to once again feel the joy of our salvation. But this can only happen if we are able to discern why we might be experiencing spiritual dryness, so we can take the appropriate action. With this in mind, I would like to suggest a few reasons we may be experiencing a season of spiritual drought and provide the correlating remedies.
1. Unchecked Lust
Peter’s warning could not be more explicit: “Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11). Impure thoughts and freshly cultivated fantasies will only dull our sense of spiritual things; this is what Peter means when he tells us that lust “wages war against the soul.” Harboring lust defiles our conscience, feeds our sinful flesh, and withers our spiritual vitality.
If we are experiencing the ravages of spiritual drought, it may be because we are entertaining our minds with lust and feeding our sinful desires with suggestive movies, magazines, internet sites, or by simply visiting the local mall. The only remedy called for here is sincere confession and repentance (Prov. 28:13; I John 1:9). In order to find our souls once again enthralled with the joy of our salvation, we must confess these sins and turn from them (Ps. 51:1-12), resolving to no longer make any provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:14).
Jesus, in confronting the Pharisees’ desire for self-exaltation, provides a valuable insight as to how pride relates to faith. The Pharisees were unable to see the truth and beauty of Christ, because they were infatuated with their own glory and loved receiving praise from men. Jesus asks them, “‘How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?’” (John 5:44). Saving faith was hindered by their pride.
And although this passage speaks specifically of pride obstructing saving faith, I think we can safely apply this principle to our lives as Christians: pride kills faith in Jesus. If we are nurturing self-love—seeking praise and appreciation from our friends, our congregation, our professors, our supervisor, or those who read our blogs—we will find out very quickly that “God opposes the proud” (James 4:6). Our souls will shrivel as we fill them with the glory that comes from man. On the other hand, turning from ourselves and our reputations to exalt Christ at all costs will bring about spiritual renewal since “[God] gives grace to the humble.”
3. Love of Money
There is also a direct correlation between our attachment to stuff and our ability to see the glory of God. Jesus connects our physical gaze with our spiritual sight in Matthew 6:19-23. Christ instructs us to store up lasting treasures in heaven rather than temporary riches here on earth. Whether we do this or not will have a significant impact on our affections, for “where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).
Jesus continues, “‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness’” (Matt. 6:22-23). In other words, if we are fixed upon the glitter of earthly riches, the brightness of God’s glory cannot shine into our hearts, and we will only suffer spiritual thirst, not saturation. The solution here is to start taking our eyes off earthly riches. This is often helped through prayer and by regular and consistent giving to our churches, faithful gospel ministries, the poor, and to those in need. Isaiah 58:10-11 is encouraging in this regard,
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
4. Lack of Bible Reading, Meditation, and Prayer
When we neglect Bible reading, meditation, and prayer, we are cutting ourselves off from essential nourishment for our souls. It is impossible to thrive spiritually without feeding our minds and hearts with God’s Word. Psalm 1 reminds us of the benefits of meditation:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, or stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the sear of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, in all that he does, he prospers (Ps. 1:1-3)
Anything you can do….By Andrew Kerr — 3 weeks ago
Let us never forget key lessons we should have already learnt: to vacate solid granite of Scripture for shifting sands of feelings, impressions, hunches, emotions, sense, reason, circumstances, providences and signs, always results in a knot that is only untangled by grace.
We are called to walk by faith, through which we are also justified. Far too often, believers including mature saints, even in top ecclesiastical posts, seek to further God’s work by resorting to the flesh.
DIY salvation (adversely reviewed) is one of the main points of Genesis 16 – here the holy family, with Abram included and implicated, without jeopardizing his saved status, faithlessly and pragmatically, tosses a carnal spanner in God’s Work.
A catastrophic lapse led to a failed attempt to give the LORD a helping hand in hurrying His world-blessing plan along: with no heir in sight, and beyond all human hope, Sarai’s servant-surrogate Hagar, whom providence put within reach, offered an open door to sire, and adopt, an illicit to-be-son.
Certainly, we can sense the frustration of his wife whose womb Yahweh had shut, with perhaps a hint of blame? It was 10 years down the line from the night God launched His plan in Ur – impatience, sense, reason and sight gave the patriarch a nudge &, with echoes of Eden, Abram listened to his wife.
But, it really does matter how the plan of God moves forward – the Angel of the LORD, with his first appearance on-stage, indicates clearly that the One who sees all & knows the fact-file of our lives, is as interested both in the way of what we do as the what of Jehovah’s work.
The Cancellation of Dr. NassifBy Carl R. Trueman — 6 months ago
Written by Carl R. Trueman |
Tuesday, September 13, 2022
This case is most instructive regarding our wider culture. It is another example of the way in which our politics is predicated on a therapeutic notion of personhood and the rhetoric of a psychologized, ever-expanding definition of violence and victimhood. And it exposes the fact that progressive Christianity is really just another discourse of power.
For anyone wondering how traditional Christianity is going to fare in the culture in future, even within many Christian institutions, the disturbing tale of Dr. Bradley Nassif, formerly of North Park University, an institution formally connected to the theologically conservative Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), offers an interesting case in point.
Dr. Nassif is a well-known Orthodox theologian, a respected scholar, and a gracious contributor to ecumenical dialogues between Protestantism and Orthodoxy. Such is his standing that the Washington Post consulted him for commentary on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its implications for religious liberty. As a Lebanese American, he is a member of an ethnic minority. And until recently, he was also the only tenured Orthodox faculty member in the Bible department of an American evangelical institution. None of this protected him from dismissal, however.
In May 2021, North Park University (NPU) discontinued its Christian Studies Department (CSD) due to low enrollment, and consequently dismissed four tenured faculty, including Dr. Nassif. However, an investigation by a neutral outside organization demonstrated that the CSD was in fact in a strong financial position. Three of the four professors were rehired, but Dr. Nassif was left out in the cold. Now, adjunct faculty teach his courses.
The reason is no mystery. Nassif maintains that all this occurred because he expressed his reasoned, orthodox views on marriage and human sexuality. He was the only faculty member in CSD who went on record in support of the ECC’s views of marriage and sexuality, and held that they should be included in the curriculum. Certain members of the faculty and administration responded to his perspective with hostility. And this stand on sexuality became a constitutive part of why he was dismissed.
Dr. Nassif’s lawyer has obtained sworn declarations supporting this claim from NPU’s AAUP president, Nancy Arneson, and former provost, Michael Emerson. While North Park is affiliated with a denomination, the ECC, that upholds traditional views of sex, sexuality, and marriage, it appears that North Park does not want these views taught in the classroom even as one option among many, let alone as the binding truth on all people. And Dr. Nassif’s objection to this has cost him his career. Dr. Emerson has offered evidence, stating that representatives of the university attempted to “shame and silence Dr. Nassif for standing up for the ECC position on human sexuality. This was evidenced in both public and private meetings.”