It is my desire to, “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word” even in the face of darkness and evil. As a result of that, I have made a promise to myself—and now to my readers—not to lash out in anger, even when I feel justified in doing so. This has meant sitting on some subjects that I feel strongly about and not speaking out on them, even when I see others doing so.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
I wanted to write a short article today about the wisdom of silence.
There’s an awful lot of awful news, which has left the world with fresh scars in recent days, and the responses have been varied. Some of those responses are heartfelt, and yet unwise, some are evil, some are good. I’ve seen pastoral tweets and helpful counsel, some standing in support, others in opposition. These responses beget further responses, and the cycle goes on.
In just a few weeks, another tragedy will strike—though likely not on this scale—and we’ll see a similar explosion.
Then there’ll be another.
So much of what I see causes me immense grief, as I’m sure it does for many of you reading, and some of what I see brings out anger in me. I wish I was slower to anger in these things, but I’m not. I need to be sanctified further, just as we all do.
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By Greg Morse — 2 years ago
As sure as lust distorts the world, purity reenchants it. As lust dims beauty and hides God’s face in night; purity cleanses our vision and dawns day upon the face of Christ for us to behold him. Our eyes cannot serve two masters.
The racing heart, the watering eyes, the abrupt disinterest withering the world outside. The carnivorous appetite, the volatile urge. The hungry stare. The inner burn (1 Corinthians 7:9). The dry mouth, the blinking eyelids, the jittering hands. The hidden force. The haunting whispers. The inescapable desire. The sweet slavery. The roaring drumbeat silencing music. The fight to death, a civil war. The silent suspicion of inevitable defeat; the dark desire for your downfall. Lust.
In a world coursing with sexual temptation, who can walk through unharmed? Who wants to? This enemy, so cherished and beloved by its victims, holds such a place in our affections that when God calls us to drive the stake through our passions, many ignore the threat or laugh it off.
Sexual lust, even for those awake to their consciences, is often the tiger one wishes to leash but not kill. When told about chastity — an old word tasting of stale bread and smelling of their great aunt’s perfume — I’ve had decent men by worldly standards open their mouth and gasp, “How could anyone live without sex?” Air, food, water, and sexual gratification — the bare necessities of life.
Lay Lust on the Altar
Men should gasp at what God requires. William Gurnall puts the heavenly expectation vividly:
Soul, take thy lust, thy only lust, which is the child of thy dearest love, thy Isaac, the sin which has caused most joy and laughter, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest return of pleasure or profit; as ever thou lookest to see my [God’s] face with comfort, lay hands on it and offer it up: pour out the blood of it before me; run the sacrificing knife of mortification into the very heart of it; and this freely, joyfully, for it is no pleasing sacrifice that is offered with a countenance cast down — and all this now, before thou hast one embrace more from it. (The Christian in Complete Armor, 13)
Truly this is a hard chapter, flesh and blood cannot bear this saying; our lust will not lie so patiently on the altar, as Isaac, or as a “Lamb that is brought to the slaughter which was dumb,” but will roar and shriek; yea, even shake and rend the heart with its hideous outcries.
Our lust shrieks when injured. It roars, shakes, angers, and gives hideous outcries. But God calls us to kill it before him, joyfully, freely, now — before we take another embrace of it.
But how? cries the weary voice of many.
Help For Sexual Sinners
Perhaps you (both men and women) have tried and tried again.
You’ve cut off hands and gouged out eyes that tempt you (Matthew 5:29–30), but they regrow like Hydras’ heads. You succeed to put to death what is earthy in you (Colossians 3:5), but only for a time. You know this sin threatens ultimate harm, waging war against your very soul (1 Peter 2:11). You know to indulge is to sin against your own body (1 Corinthians 6:18), undermine your profession (1 Corinthians 6:8–9), and contradict the explicit will of God for your life (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5). But the madness returns, leaving remorse and shame.
By Brett McCracken — 2 years ago
Better than the awkward desperation of “cool Christianity” is the quiet confidence of faithful Christianity. More compelling than any celebrity pastor or bespoke packaging is a church’s steady, committed, hand-to-the-plow presence that creates lasting change for the better in lives and communities.
At the beginning of the 21st century, “relevance” became the prevailing buzzword in Western evangelical Christianity. Sensing new urgency to make the gospel more appealing to the next generation—which polls showed were leaving faith in greater numbers—pastors, church leaders, and Christian influencers tried to rebrand faith. This was the era of Relevant magazine’s launch, Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz, and Rob Bell’s ascent as a sort of evangelical Steve Jobs. It was the moment when plaid, skinny jeans, beards, and tattoos became the pastor’s unofficial uniform. It was a public-relations effort to pitch a less legalistic, friendlier-to-culture, “emergent” faith that was far from the dusty religion of your grandparents.
I chronicled this awkward era in painstaking detail in Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide, which released 10 years ago this month. In many ways the book is a quaint relic by now—a time capsule of a certain segment of evangelicalism at the turn of the millennium. But the book’s dated nature proves the point I was trying to make—that “cool Christianity” is, if not an oxymoron, at least an exercise in futility. A relevance-focused Christianity sows the seeds of its own obsolescence. Rather than rescuing or reviving Christianity, hipster faith shrinks it to the level of consumer commodity, as fickle and fleeting as the latest runway fashion. To locate Christianity’s relevance in its ability to find favor among the “cool kids”—just the latest in a long history of evangelical obsession with image—is seriously misguided.
Here are a few reasons why.
Chasing ‘Relevance’ Is Exhausting and Unsustainable
As I write in the final chapter, it’s problematic to assume that true relevance means constantly keeping up with the trends and “meeting the culture where it’s at”:
This mindset assumes no one will listen to us if we aren’t loud and edgy; no one will take us seriously if we aren’t conversant with culture; and no one will find Jesus interesting unless he is made to fit the particularities of the zeitgeist. But this sort of “relevance” is defined chiefly and inextricably by the one thing Christianity resolutely defeats: impermanence. Things that are permanent are not faddish or fickle or trendy. They are solid. . . . True relevance lasts.
My argument centered around the inherent transience of “cool” that makes “cool Christianity” unsustainable by definition. Today’s hip, cover-boy pastor is tomorrow’s has-been. This year’s fast-growing, bustling-with-20-somethings cool church is next year’s “I used to go there” old news. Near instant obsolescence is baked into the system of hipster Christianity (or hipster anything). It’s telling that the majority of the “hip Christian figureheads” I profiled in the book are now far off the radar of evangelical influence. Donald Miller is a marketing consultant. Mark Driscoll’s Seattle megahurch dissolved. Rob Bell is a new-age guru endorsed by Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert. And so forth. That many of the names and trends highlighted in Hipster Christianity a mere decade ago are now nearly forgotten (and would be replaced with a whole new set of personalities and trends today) proves the book’s point.
I know a few people who have stayed in hip churches for most of the last decade, but many more have moved on to another (usually liturgical and refreshingly boring) church. Others have left Christianity entirely. Turns out a church that seemed super cool to your 23-year-old self may not be appealing to your 33-year-old, professional-with-kids self. Turns out a church preaching sermons about “God in the movies!” more than the doctrine of the atonement doesn’t serve you well in the long run. Turns out a pastor you can drink with, smoke with, and watch Breaking Bad with is not as important as a pastor whose uncool holiness might—just might—push you to grow in Christlikeness yourself.
David Wells has it right, in The Courage to Be Protestant, when he says:
By Kevin DeYoung — 12 months ago
If God can summon light into existence when there was only darkness, surely He can send His light into the world with assurance of complete success, no matter how impossible the odds. For this is the miracle and the wonder of Christmas: The Light of the world was born in the darkness of night, as the Word of God lay in the manger unable to speak a syllable.
The title of this article is hard to believe, isn’t it?
Doesn’t it seem like every week we hear about wars and rumors of wars, about terrorism or mass shootings, about Christian persecution and cultural degradation? We can look back on this past year and think of loved ones who’ve died, or friends who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. And others who are gripped by addiction or saddled with chronic pain or mired in a depression that will not lift.
In our own lives, there are too many tears, too many unknowns, too many closed doors. It’s not hard to be discouraged, maybe even despair.
And yet, the spoiler is true: the darkness does not win.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5).
The symbolism of “light” in John’s Gospel has many layers. Light can refer to Christ (as in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world”), or to obeying the will of God (as in John 3:20, “everyone who does wicked things hates the light”), or to eternal life and the abundant life that can be found only in Christ (which is what verse 4 means by “In him was life, and the life was the light of men”). I think John is being deliberately ambiguous in verse 5. What he is saying is that the entire Light Side is victorious over the entire Dark Side.
Christians will not be overcome by the darkness—either amid our lifetime struggle with sin or in the life of eternal bliss to come—because we belong to the One who is the Light of the World. Darkness, which is John’s way of talking about the fallen world of sin and Satan, will not prove victorious in its long, persistent fight against the light.