Packer’s life shows that renewal begins in building homes and doing personal work in small places. Renewal requires a bedrock belief in God’s trustworthy Word and the lordship of Jesus Christ. Renewal requires accepting costly vocational discipleship and manifesting character.
When J. I. Packer died in 2020, post-war evangelicalism was left with very few remaining representatives of its early days. He lived through three waves of evangelical ecclesiology and scholarship and also helped launch a fourth. Can his life and ministry show us the way forward?
If there’s to be a healthy next wave of evangelicalism, foundation stones will need to be set in place, or perhaps simply cleared and used again. Packer has left at least four of these stones. Each one is biblical. Each one is often overlooked.
1. Strong Family
Packer left the foundation stone of a strong family. Packer was married for 65 years to Kit. They raised three children. They made a home in Vancouver, following their sense of God’s call at a time in life when many people won’t make such a change. Having earned little money in England, they trusted God to provide in a new and expensive setting. Kit managed the household alone during Jim’s many absences. Their partnership honored God and served his people.
2. Humble Service
He modeled the foundation stone of humble service. He taught in small colleges that boasted no international scholarly reputation. Every one of those colleges needed building up or rebuilding. He and his colleagues shared a vision of evangelical theology, formation of shepherds for God’s people, and high-quality scholarly and popular writing. Many of his colleagues are remembered but most are not. Packer’s willingness to serve in such places and in such ways shows a commitment to doing what he believed God asked, no matter the circumstances.
3. Faithful Writing
Packer wrote the books and articles that came his way.
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By James Thrasher — 3 weeks ago
Moving out of full-time work is repurpose-ment, not retire-ment. It is a time to repurpose how and why we invest our time, energy, wisdom, experience, and resources. The goal should be to finish life well. Being a good steward of this phase of life will not occur unless we are prepared with a proactive, well-grounded, and thoughtful vision. Be intentional and expectant about having your life experiences and wisdom being used providentially in the lives of others.
My new Human Resources/Medicare employment identity is “Working Aged.” Ok, sure, I get it—as in elderly, feeble, decrepit, ancient, debilitated, worn out and shot. Yes, I am 64 and approaching retirement age, but what a dispiriting designation. If I continue to work beyond 65, what will they call me next, the “Working Dead?”
Is my true usefulness over? I get the message—you are old and your ability to contribute has been significantly compromised. It’s time to pack it in and go for a cup of coffee and a McMuffin in the morning with other aimless folks in the same boat and then watch TV the rest of the day. You have reaped the rewards of your hard work by being put out to the proverbial purposeless pasture. Upon retirement, my colleagues will send me off with congratulations, confirming that I have earned this final useless chapter of my life. Really?
Something does not seem right; this strikes me as a misguided and hollow outlook.
The bluntness of being called the “working aged” has prompted some healthy reflection on the concept of retirement. What is retirement, anyway?
The Book of Numbers contains the only passage in the Scriptures that specifies an age limit for work. The Levites, the priestly class in the Old Testament, were to withdraw from their formal duties at the age of 50. The Levites performed many crucial spiritual functions pointing the Israelites to God, but they also, as an example, performed construction, maintenance, lifting, and transporting duties related to the tabernacle. There is a time when an aging body is not suited for a particular work. But this transition, described in Numbers, involves “assisting their brothers” in other ways. The purpose was not to “retire” the priests, but to redirect their expected service in a more mature direction. Their Godly wisdom, discernment, and experience was intentionally and purposefully utilized. Nowhere in the Bible does it mention that we should stop working.
An American creation, the age 65 modern retirement idea of pleasure and leisure came into being in the 1950s. It says relax, rest, and put those feet up to enjoy a carefree and work-free life. This line of thinking has indoctrinated us into believing that retirement involves completely withdrawing from any notion of work in order to have no obligations, commitments, or concerns. This is not God’s intention for us. Intentional work is part of the Lord’s lifelong design for us. Our multi-faceted and continuous vocational callings have no age limitations. Christians never retire from serving God through all the seasons of life. We are to grow and invest in our gifts and talents, while simultaneously looking for opportunities to serve. Time is a gift, and we are to redeem each day by glorifying God, serving the common good, and furthering His kingdom. There is true dignity and consequence in laboring in His vineyard until He calls us home. This call to service remains the same throughout our lives and is an expression of Christ’s love to others. Retirement is not a time for self-serving idleness.
Moving out of full-time work is repurpose-ment, not retire-ment. It is a time to repurpose how and why we invest our time, energy, wisdom, experience, and resources.
The goal should be to finish life well. Being a good steward of this phase of life will not occur unless we are prepared with a proactive, well-grounded, and thoughtful vision. Be intentional and expectant about having your life experiences and wisdom being used providentially in the lives of others.
Do not let age define your life. Author Richard J. Leider states that “the trouble is, when a number—your age—becomes your identity, you’ve given away your power to choose your future.”
The Lord’s call does not fade over time but summons us to the high calling of life-long, meaningful service to Him.
Age with purpose.
Dr. Jim Thrasher is the Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Student Recruitment and the coordinator of the Institute for Faith & Freedom’s working group on calling. This article is used with permission.
By Ryan Williams — 3 months ago
Pastors who are caught in lies shouldn’t always be restored to pastoral ministry. Though our sin can’t rob us of our salvation, it can rob us of our pastorate. But even if a pastor’s lie takes his ministry role from him (for a season or forever), Christ’s forgiveness remains free and full. We only need to desire it, turn in faith from our sin, and take hold of our resurrected Lord’s glorious promise (1 John 1:9).
Trust in pastors is probably close to an all-time low. Gone are the days of blind trust in the words of the one who carries a ministry title. Too many people have seen lies pastors tell brought out into the light and proven to be falsehoods. But should lying pastors be disqualified from ministry?
Let me burst the bubble for you. All pastors have lied. Every single one of us. Some in greater measure and others in lesser. But there’s not a pastor alive who has never told a falsehood. Sometimes we lie by inflating numbers. Other times we lie by telling the people in our churches what we think they want to hear. Sometimes pastors lie to cover up their own or others’ sins. How should these lies be addressed? What lies are disqualifying?
Deceit is Sinful
When I recognize every pastor has lied, I’m not excusing it. Deceit is sinful, and it rises from wicked hearts. Deceit comes from the father of lies, Satan himself (John 8:44). Though there are honorable lies, as in the case of Rahab in Joshua 2, that’s not what we practice when we share half-truths, exaggerate, or outright deceive. As we see in the example of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–5), when we lie to the church, we’re lying to God, and that must be reckoned with.
Lying to the church is a sin so grievous that when pastors deceive, it can disqualify them from ministry. But how do you determine whether a pastor caught in a lie should be removed from his office? We must consider (1) the lie’s severity and (2) the pastor’s repentance.
Weigh the Lie’s Severity
When a pastor is caught in a lie, the natural consequence is, at minimum, an erosion of trust between himself and the congregation he shepherds. Many factors affect the extent of the erosion, but it’s often determined by the lie’s severity. Did the pastor report slightly inflated attendance numbers, exaggerate a sermon illustration, lie about a contentious situation, or steal money from the church?
If churches are to respond rightly, each of these situations must be weighted correctly. Did the lie cause disrepute to be brought upon Christ’s name in the public sphere?
By Rodney Andersen — 4 months ago
We’re to follow the example of Christ, guarding our minds against the allure of victimhood mentality and reminding ourselves of the absolute truths Scripture holds. Having the victim mindset is one of the empty deceptions that can overtake Christians– it aligns with our fleshly desire toward selfishness and justifying our own sin. Don’t be taken captive by this way of thinking. Instead, trust the Lord and maintain your focus on Christ and the good news of the gospel. Rejoice that you have been saved, you are being sanctified, you serve the Judge of the universe who will make all things right in the end, and pray with compassion for those who sin against you.
In his letter to the Colossian believers, Paul recognized the danger that false teaching presented to the church. After normal greetings and summaries, Paul launches a new section in Colossians 2:8 where he gives them a strong warning.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
In this passage, Paul warns them, saying that certain ways of thinking are hollow and will deceive you, warning them against being held captive in these worldly ways and cheap tricks. This warning to the Colossian church is just as relevant to us today as it was then. There are numerous empty and deceptive ideas today that can capture our thinking. One of these dangerous lies that we hear today is this: “You are a victim.”
As with most of the lies that we hear, it is a perversion of something that is true. There are real victims in this world, and there are abusers who harm others physically, emotionally, or financially. That is a reality in this fallen world and a sin that God hates.
The Lord speaks out against oppression in Zachariah 7:9-10, “Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion each to his brother and do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor, and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.” God commands all people not to oppress, harm, or abuse others. Nowhere in Scripture are these kinds of actions justified. If you are a victim and need to get out of a situation of abuse, seek counsel from an elder or pastor in your church.
On the other hand, there is a sinful and harmful thinking regarding victimhood that does not correspond to biblical truth. This is often known as the victim mentality.
The Victim Mentality Defined
What is the victim mentality? A victim mindset usually includes three types of thinking:
First, the bad things in your life are not your fault, but exclusively because of what other people have done to you. This mindset maintains that you are not responsible for your own actions and attitudes.
Second, a victim mentality also includes getting stuck in negative thought patterns. If you play the victim, you may be characterized by a “woe is me” kind of self-pity.
Third, the victim mentality sees the world through the lens of your own struggles. All the events of your life are orchestrated against you. Whatever happens in the world or in your circumstances, the victim mentality sees those circumstances as directed against yourself.
Victim mentality is a type of thinking that you must avoid, believing you can blame others for every problem, insisting you deserve better, and seeing the world only in relation to yourself.
What you must recognize is that you can be true victim and not have a victim mentality. You are not required to have this destructive thinking, even if you have been mistreated.
It is also true that you can have a victim mentality even if you are not a victim. Many claim victimhood because they “feel” like a victim, yet how one feels is not the measure of truth. We live in a postmodern psychologized age where “truth” is completely based upon individual definition and feeling. “Well, I feel like I’m a victim, therefore I must be a victim. My feelings mean that I am a victim.” Feelings today are elevated to truth. It’s the truth because I feel that way.
We must remember what scripture says about our feelings and whether we should trust them or not. Jeremiah 17:9-10 reminds us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick, who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind. Even to give each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”
We see here the idea that if our feelings are not to be ultimately trusted, victimhood is not something that we can claim just because we might feel that way. The issue then is not even whether you’re a victim or not, but if you have a victim mentality. It’s a matter of mindset.
This is the earthly thinking, the philosophy, the empty deception that the world is promoting: blame others, have a perpetually negative attitude, and think everything is about you. This victim mentality doesn’t sound very appealing at all, but it’s surprisingly attractive in many ways.
The Allure of the Victim Mentality
Why is the victim mentality so alluring?
First, if you believe you are a victim, you are not responsible. If there is something wrong in your marriage, it’s not your fault, it’s your spouse’s fault. If there’s something wrong with your kids, it wasn’t your parenting, it’s the kids’ fault. A victim mentality is attractive in this way: you can feel better about yourself because you’re not the one to blame. You aren’t responsible.
Secondly, those in pain and suffering receive pity from others. It is natural for people to take pity on those who have been victimized. People want to come alongside and help those who have suffered unjustly. There is real suffering in this world, and especially as those who follow Christ, we should show compassion for those who are in pain. That’s why this mindset is so deceptive. When you play the victim, when you indulge in the victim mentality, your motivation may be to receive compassion and attention from others.
Third, victims have a perceived right to complain. The mindset that the world is against you makes it justifiable to air your grievances, to shout from the rooftops all that has happened to you. It makes the victimhood mentality attractive because you feel you have not just an excuse, but a right to complain.
Fourth, victimhood can come with a sense of belonging. You can bond with others who have a common “foe.” If there’s someone else out there that is horrible or evil and all the victims are in the same boat, that brings a sense of community. That feeling of belonging is seductive, but entirely false and deceptive.