What do You do When You are Spiritually Dry?
We must run to the fountain of living waters. Don’t be deceived into running to broken cisterns, but come and “draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isa 12:3). Look to God’s word, and look to the Word. Come to Him, all who are weary and heavy laden, and He will give you rest.
Do you ever think, “I want to desire God more,” but for whatever reason, you’re just spiritually dry? The things that you know should thrill your soul feel commonplace. Maybe your desire for God’s word, your desire to pray, or your desire for holiness is cold. It’s a miserable thing to know how you ought to feel, and realize that you’re not there. So what do you do? What do you do when you are spiritually dry?
There are so many things that can be done, but I want to give one piece of advice with two practical applications for those who feel spiritually dry: Don’t stop going to the fountain. Often when we feel dry, we are tempted to neglect the one thing that will satisfy our souls. Think about it: When you feel dry, what things do you want to toss out? Bible reading, prayer, fellowship. But this is the problem. If you are dry, spiritually thirsty, the worst thing you can do is go to the desert! You need to go to the fountain! God calls Himself “the fountain of living waters” (Jer 2:13). If we do not desire God, we need to go to God!
And here is the thing: God is desirable. The fact that we might not desire God is not because of any deficit in God.
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My Two Decades Among the Young, Restless, Reformed – Part 1By Jeff Robinson — 6 months ago
One of the great strengths I’ve observed in many modern Reformed ministries, particularly in John Piper with his emphasis on joy and satisfaction in Christ and in R. C. Sproul’s with his exuberant teaching ministry, is what I like to call compassionate Calvinism. Many of my professors, pastor friends, and many of my living ministry heroes are joyful Calvinists, and their preaching, teaching, and writing reflect reverence, joy, and grace.
I’ll never forget attending the first Together for the Gospel (T4G) conference in 2006 in Louisville.
Thousands of voices joined together to sing old hymns with profound energy and zeal, only to sit at rapt attention for hours as well-known Reformed teachers expounded the Word of God. We attended pre-conference events, and in one of those, I learned what a blog was and pondered whether I should start one (I didn’t, but hundreds of others did).
Here’s what I remember most about those late April days sixteen years ago: It was a happy gathering. I was happy. My friends were happy. We were hearing the Word of God preached by our theological heroes and it was all deeply edifying, convicting, rejuvenating—I could add any positive “ing” adjective to the list.
I also remember reflecting backward a decade, in the mid-90s, to the time when I first embraced Reformed theology. There seemed to be so few of us who held to Reformed doctrine in the mid-90s, and we probably seemed idiosyncratic, maybe even weird to some of our fellow evangelicals.
But here sat thousands to hear hours and hours of preaching that flowed out of the doctrines of grace. God’s work in drawing hearts to these glorious doctrines amazed me. It felt like revival that only God could bring.
Young, Restless, Reformed: Its Rise and Fall
That happened during the early years of the burgeoning Reformed movement, what I like to call the age of the mega conference, the coming of age of what Carl Trueman calls “Big Eva”: T4G, Ligonier, the Shepherd’s Conference, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, and seemingly dozens of smaller conferences.
Reformed parachurch ministries and publishers—some of which had been laboring faithfully since the 1990s and even prior to that, but in relative obscurity—gained prominence and dotted the landscape: Desiring God, Ligonier, 9Marks, the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, The Gospel Coalition, Radical, Crossway, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, Banner of Truth, Sovereign Grace Ministries.
In the early 2000s, a team of Reformed scholars produced an excellent English translation of the Bible, the English Standard Version, which became the go-to version for many pastors in the Reformed village.
In 2009, TIME magazine cited “the New Calvinism” as among the top 10 thought movements influencing the United States, and indeed, to those of us in ministry at the time, that seemed demonstrably true. The internet enabled us to download a variety of popular Reformed teachers such as Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, Dever, Mahaney, Keller, Carson, the now infamous Driscoll, and many others. In a real sense, the worldwide web did for this new reformation what Gutenberg’s printing press did for the original.
In September of 2006, my longtime friend Collin Hansen wrote a memorable article that in 2008 became a noteworthy book (I’m still waiting for the movie!) giving the movement a nickname: Young, Restless, Reformed—or YRR. In Hansen’s parlance, my alma mater, Southern Seminary, was ground zero in educating the many young Baptists among us who were restless and Reformed.
The YRR world was a happy place then, but all these years later, that joyful place seems long ago and far away.
This Is Why We SingBy Paul Twiss — 1 year ago
The Apostles desired that we would apprehend the truths of our faith together. They intended that the process of sanctification would be corporate. Through singing, we begin to enact this responsibility. Every verse is an articulation of truth, mediated through our fellowship with one another. Our choruses unite, and this is why we sing.
However the history books record our age, there is one theme upon which every volume will agree. Without need for qualification or debate, each analyst will affirm: the present era signals the advent of individualism. Aided by a mirky river of other trends—consumerism, utilitarianism, moral relativism—the priority of the individual is a fact of our time, one which only the most myopic millennial would dare to deny. The injurious effects of such thinking are also a point of common agreement. Social commentators of every ideological persuasion readily note the need for corporate cohesion. We humans do better together. We must fight to reestablish an identity, around which we can congregate, so as to flourish.
Notwithstanding a plethora of noble institutions, each playing their part to combat the juggernaut of individualism, the Christian’s primary point of community must be the church. For every believer, the present age of social dysfunction should serve as an emphatic exhortation toward membership, fellowship, accountability, and service in the local congregation.
Beyond this initial observation, there are questions that might be asked. For the pastor, how should his philosophy of ministry adapt to account for the problems of the time? How could he orient the ministry rhythms of the church, to forge a defense against the tide of individualism? Moreover, how might he lead in offense, so as to render mute the plague of this era, and champion the cause of koinonia? My suggestion is simple—indeed, so basic that its inherent worth is often overlooked. Pertaining to the Lord’s Day, and the liturgical practices of each church, Christians must sing. With unprecedent vigor, every congregation should be led in song, lifting their voices in unison, so as to rehearse the doctrines of our faith.
That singing would manifest a powerful assault to the enthronement of the individual is perhaps not self-evident. Every Sunday we sing hymns, because…that’s what we do. Christians have always sung. It’s right to worship God through music. Therefore, this Lord’s Day, let’s make music again. If we have never probed the conceptual premise of pairing voice and melody, its inherent worth may not be clear.
First, regarding aesthetics, consider the relationship between truth, and beauty. As the history of philosophical thought has consistently affirmed, these transcendental qualities do not stray far from one another. Indeed, Keats contended for a conceptual unity when he wrote: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”1 In all spheres of life, these two qualities go hand-in-hand.
No meaningless abstraction, this relationship has practical implications, informing our behavior on a daily basis. As a general rule: when we perceive verity, we ascribe glory. And when we behold beauty, we apprehend truth. This is why, for example, we know better than to enter a court of law, wearing pajamas. Because the environment is one wherein truth is pursued, decorum and dignity are commended. Intuitively, we leave our flip-flops at home. Similarly, as we take in the majesty of the Alps, flippant comments are prohibited. The apprehension of great things commends the articulation of truth, and if not, then silence. Without being instructed, we understand what nature of speech is required.
Consider now the act of singing on a Sunday morning. Certainly, it is possible to congregate and rehearse truths without melody. Indeed, corporate confessions have been part of the church’s liturgy for centuries. But they have never supplanted the singing of hymns. There is something intuitive about worship through music. The proclamation of truth in accordance with a melody is as natural to the Christian, as eating, sleeping, and breathing are to a new-born child. The reason for these issues is from the transcendental dynamic between truth and beauty. As the regenerate heart articulates divine indicatives, the irrepressible reflex is to ascribe to them value. The church seeks a tune. By appending a melody, Christians ordain the truth with beauty.
For this reason, it would seem strange for the pastor to suggest, “let us stand, and speak these words together…Amazing grace, how can it be, that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?” He knows better than to quash the impulse of our souls. The appropriate response is to ordain such truth with beauty. These words must be sung.
Mapping a Woke WonderlandBy Brenda M. Hafera — 9 months ago
Written by Brenda M. Hafera |
Monday, September 26, 2022
The book does not aim to explain identity politics writ large or the evolution of feminism. Rather, Trueman’s niche is to explain expressive individualism, an important concept that touches both. This narrower focus fulfills the purpose of the book. As noted in the introduction, it is a concise book geared toward non-academics who are seeking to understand this strange new world that has seemingly come into being very rapidly.
While divided on certain issues, conservatives are generally united in the belief that French and German intellectuals are to blame for our current mess. Customary offenders include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche. In this aspect, Carl R. Trueman’s Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution offers a familiar analysis.
Still, his arguments are profound, and the slender book is a valuable guide for understanding our tumble into this modern world, this woke wonderland. Trueman is an Englishman, a professor of biblical and religious studies at Grove City College, and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His latest book seeks to explain the Sexual Revolution and the assault on the human person. In doing so, he does not limit himself to feminist thinkers, providing the standard account of the development of the first, second, and third (or subsequent) waves of feminism. Nor does he delve into the Lockean debate that is so common among conservatives. His focus instead is on the ascendancy of secular “expressive individualism.” His is a unique, nuanced, and convincing contribution to the dialogue on the Sexual Revolution.
Prophets of Expressive Individualism
Trueman sketches an accurate portrait of our post-Sexual Revolution world and explains how the ideas of select intellectuals, strengthened by technological and historical developments, now almost instinctively inform our moral imagination (what he calls “social imaginary”). The examples pervade not only our politics, but also education, poetry, and literature.
The first portion of the book is an intellectual history of the progression of “expressive individualism,” which details how that notion was politicized and sexualized, using helpful examples to illustrate. The main culprits fall into three groups: René Descartes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and the Romantics; G. W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche; and Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Reich (with some Herbert Marcuse and Simon de Beauvoir sprinkled in later for good measure).
According to Trueman, the modern idea of the self is defined by expressive individualism. Descartes, Rousseau, and the Romantics are responsible for giving pre-eminence to feeling and the inner psychological life of the individual. By their account, our true self is characterized by our spontaneous emotions. Believing that human beings are born good and later corrupted by society, these thinkers insist that the inner self is inherently moral. Hence, tutoring or controlling one’s desires is an oppressive and backward approach that should not be used to subvert free and authentic expression.
Still, this first wave of thinkers stubbornly held to the belief that our common humanity provides a guiding moral structure. Confronted with nature, the French surrendered. Enter the Germans.
For Hegel, human nature evolves over time and will be fully realized at the end of history. His student, Marx, continued his work but insisted that economic relations have the most “profound impact upon our self-consciousness and our identity.” According to Marx, all human relations are economic relations, and when economics shapes everything, everything becomes political. Marx held that the advantaged secure their position by using religion and its inherent moral claims to subdue the masses. For example, the poor are taught they will be rewarded in heaven so they will accept their lower conditions in the city of man.
Nietzsche too views religion and morality as manipulative ways of maintaining power, because all human relations are fundamentally about power. God is dead, and so humans, free from all constraints, can create themselves in their own image, becoming gods themselves. The strong will do so, finally shattering religion’s residual moral (including sexual) codes, knowing that those codes are mere preferences and that human nature is malleable.
Trueman’s final intellectual stop is with Freud and Wilhelm Reich, a psychoanalyst even Freud considered extreme, who internalized and politicized sex. Freud believed that sex is foundational to human happiness, a happiness centered on seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. Reich was a Marxist who contended that sexual morals maintain the bourgeois capitalist structure. So for Reich, children are taught to be deferential to their fathers so that they will later bow to state leaders; the nuclear family is built on and enforces authoritarian principles and so must be dismantled.