Perhaps you’re one of the 2 people in the world who is not currently singing this song at least once a day. If so, then allow me to introduce you to “Let it Go” from Frozen through two videos, just for fun today.
First up, here’s Jimmy Fallon doing that thing he does:
And then there’s this, showing us that it might not always be the right moment to “Let it Go”:
Posted by MK | Filed under Theology
From Jared Wilson:
One of the problems I have with all the “chase your dreams!” cheerleading from Christian leaders is not because I begrudge anyone wanting to achieve their dreams, but because I don’t think we readily see how easy it is to conflate our dream-chasing with God’s will in Christ.
You know, it’s possible that God’s plan for us is littleness. His plan for us may be personal failure. It’s possible that when another door closes, it’s not because he plans to open a window but because he plans to have the building fall down on you. The question we must ask ourselves is this: Will Christ be enough?
Are we pursuing our own greatness or the expansion of worship of Jesus Christ? They aren’t necessarily incompatible, but God is more interested in the latter than the former. And ultimately, if we prioritize Christ’s glory, we won’t really care in the long run how noticed, renowned, recognized, or “successful” we are personally. We’ll realize that our lives aren’t really about us anyway.
Sometimes we have to let our dreams die.
And that’s okay. We will be okay.
Read the rest here.
Man. What a great video.
Yesterday I posted a blog entry that argued from Hebrews 4 that the true enemy of rest is not busyness; it’s unbelief. That like the Israelites of old, the reason we do not enter the promised rest of God is not because of an overcrowded schedule but because of our failure to believe in the God that has finished His work. Today I’d like to follow up that post with some implications that flow from that basic premise. Specifically, if it is true that the enemy of rest is unbelief, then…
1. Rest is about more than sleep.
In Hebrews 4, we don’t see rest being equated with taking a nap. Rather, it is a state of being; a consistent attribute of our lives. It is possible for us to get a night of sleep and not wake up rested. That’s because even though our eyes might close, our soul does not. We can still be in a state of unrest even though we have exhausted ourselves physically. To truly rest, then, we must rest in mind, body, and heart. The only way we do this is by knowing and reminding ourselves over and over again of the news of the gospel. This, and this alone, is where true striving ceases.
2. You can be physically exhausted and still rest.
If it’s true that rest is not so much a specific period of time but a state in which we live, it is possible and even likely that most of the time that we rest we will be physically exhausted at the same time. Again, to see this, you have to look deeper and realize why we constantly in a state of unrest. Though some of it might be to simple scheduling mistakes, the bulk of those mistakes come from a refusal to live in light of the work of God through Jesus. When we live in light of the gospel, you might say that even our hardest of work comes out of the deepest of rest. We work no longer to justify ourselves or prove ourselves worthy to some standard, but we work fueled by the acceptance we have in Christ and through Christ alone.
3. Rest is an opportunity for celebration.
In Hebrews 4: 3-4, there is a reference to the rest of God on the seventh day of creation. We should ask ourselves here why exactly God – the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the Source of all there is, rested. Was He worn out? Did He need a break? I don’t think so. God rested because God was finished. Everything was done exactly as it should have been done. The rest of God, then, is a celebration of completion; it is born not out of necessity but out of satisfaction. For us, it means that we can live in a constant state of the celebration of the finished work of Jesus. Whether we are sleeping or waking, we are always celebrating that it truly was finished with Jesus. In fact, our work in our jobs, as parents, in the community, or even in the yard on Saturday is not contrary to the true rest that comes from Jesus; it is fueled by the rest that comes from Jesus.
4. Rest must be intentionally pursued.
This is the exhortation in Hebrews 4:11: “Let us then make every effort to enter that rest…” No one is going to unintentionally slip into a state of rest. We do so by intentionally believing the gospel. When we do, that belief influences every area of our lives. We rest in our parenting knowing that God holds the future of our children. We rest in our work knowing that God will provide for our needs. We rest in our marriages because we are open and authentic with each other as we model the gospel. But we rest in all these things only when we make every effort to do so. This is where resting as a state of being becomes a discipline. In other words, and ironically I might add, we must work hard at resting. We must work to make sure that in whatever we do, we are doing it not to replace or further what God has already done, but because of it.
So today, friends, I’m resting. But that doesn’t mean I’m not at work. It doesn’t mean I’m not physically tired. It doesn’t mean I’m going to have a day of leisure. It means instead that I am going to speak to my soul and say the same words that Jesus offered time and time again: “Peace to you.” He offered that greeting then and now for the same reason – that He is risen. And because He has risen, it is finished.
The practice of rest is an elusive one in our culture. We, as a culture, have built in periods of rest like weekends, have unionized and collectively bargained our way into paid vacations and medical leave acts, and have erected monuments in the form of theme parks that pay tribute to the family vacation. Despite these things, though, most of us are overrun, overstressed, and underrested. Time is a precious commodity; one which we can’t seem to really get a handle on despite our best efforts.
You can blame it on all kinds of things:
- Blame it on technology because we can now, at any moment, be connected to work responsibilities that we previously had to leave at the office.
- Blame it on social media because it makes us seem busier than we really are because of the amount of time we spend on it.
- Blame it on societal pressure that tells us that in order to have fully developed and well-rounded children they simply must participate in any and all activities available.
There’s all that blame and more to go around, but there’s something inside me that says all of these things are symptoms of the true disease. Fortunately, though, the writer of Hebrews helps us see not only the true nature of rest, but also the true enemy of that rest:
Therefore, while the promise to enter His rest remains, let us fear that none of you should miss it.For we also have received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard did not benefit them, since they were not united with those who heard it in faith(for we who have believed enter the rest), in keeping with whatHe has said:
So I swore in My anger,
they will not enter My rest.
And yet His works have been finished since the foundation of the world, for somewhere He has spoken about the seventh day in this way:
And on the seventh day
God rested from all His works.
Again, in that passage He says, They will never enter My rest.Since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news did not enter because of disobedience, again, He specifies a certain day—today—speaking through David after such a long time, as previously stated:
Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts.
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people. For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. Let us then make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall into the same pattern of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:1-11).
In this passage, we see the writer identify the true enemy of rest, and it ain’t technology; it’s not overcommitment; it’s not disorganization or an inability to say no; it’s not even general busyness; it’s the thing behind all those things. The true enemy of rest is unbelief. Long ago, the Lord had a promised land for His people. It was a good land; one with the fields already planted and the houses already built. It was the land of rest, and it was there for the taking. But taken it was not because the people did not believe the promises of their God. Despite His care, despite His provision, despite His miracles and deliverance, they did not go on because they saw the giants were too big and the weapons were too strong.
They did not rest because they did not believe. Rather than resting, the wandered until an entire generation had spun their wheels into the ground and became dust. Living in a state of unrest can feel just like that it seems; you are on a constant treadmill, exhausting yourself and yet never going anywhere. But if this passage is true, then the answer to the issue of rest is not merely a calendar change or putting your phone away. Those things are important, but they don’t really go to the source of what we really need. Instead, we must realize that, like the Israelites of old, we are prevented from entering the true rest of God by unbelief. To see this with me, dig to the deeper of those symptoms that have overcrowded your life. When you do, you’ll likely find some of the same uncomfortable things I have about myself:
- I can’t put my phone away because I have an inflated sense of self-importance.
- I can’t say no to engagements and activities because I’m just insecure enough to believe they’ll never ask me again.
- I am at unrest in my relationships because I don’t believe those people will still be my friends if I don’t impress them.
Time and time again, unbelief is lurking behind our unrest. The only way, then, to move into rest in our activities, work schedules, relationships and more is to truly believe. To believe that we don’t need to justify ourselves because God has already done the justifying. To believe we don’t need to validate ourselves with activities because we are secure in the love of Christ. To believe that we don’t need to prove our value because God has shown us just how valuable we are with the death of His Son.
To time and time again return to the fact that “It is finished” so that with us, it might indeed be finished.
Tim Challies writes helpfully:
The headline says it all: “The Dawn of the Designer Babies.” Scientists have developed a new technology meant to eliminate genetic abnormalities in newborns. They do this by combining the DNA of three people instead of only two. The procedure has been successfully tested in monkeys and now the FDA is considering whether the trial should expand to humans. At first the procedure would be available only to women who are likely to pass on debilitating genetic diseases to their children. After that? Well, we can only imagine.
The history of technology shows that we would far rather ask the “can we?” questions than the “should we?” questions. We are more interested in ability than morality. Lest we get cocky, we ought to admit that this is true in the small picture as much as the big picture, in the living room as much as the laboratory. Our relationship to technology is such that on some level we tacitly believe technology’s gifts to us must be good. We believe this when the new social network or the new cell phone comes along and we believe this when the new experimental procedure comes along.
According to Fox, this new “experimental technique, if approved for use, would allow a woman to give birth to a baby who inherits her normal nucleus DNA but not her defective mitochondrial DNA.” In order “to accomplish this, researchers would remove the nucleus DNA from a healthy female donor’s eggs and replace it with the nucleus DNA of the prospective mother. After fertilization, the resulting child would inherit the mother’s nucleus DNA — which contains most inherited traits like eye color and height — but the donor’s healthy mitochondrial DNA.”
On a pragmatic level, this makes all kinds of sense. It promises to further eliminate diseases and abnormalities, goals that are well within our God-given mandate of filling this earth and exercising dominion over it. On an ethical and spiritual level it is troubling. The slippery slope implications are especially disquieting because this same technology could be used to craft custom-built, designer children, a specific combination of traits according to the parent’s specifications. Once we allow designer children, we will not be far from expecting designer children. Once we can eliminate genetic abnormalities, it will not be long before we should eliminate genetic abnormalities, where it is considered downright cruel not to eliminate them. When this happens, the disabled and those who brought them into the world will be further marginalized. We could discuss the implications all day long.
But I want to make narrower observations...
Posted by MK | Filed under Church
“Time will tell.”
It was a surprising response in some ways. The response came from a pastor that I have a ton of respect for, and it came after he recounted a fairly dramatic story of a conversion of a recent church member.
The guy had an encounter with Jesus, and everything changed for him. It was one of those stories that you want a video crew there to film; it would be a great testimony video someday to bring out and show the power of the gospel in someone’s life. No doubt, the pastor was grateful for this person and his story, but he was retelling the conversion experience as a way of emphasizing the need for an ongoing discipleship process in the church.
He told the story of this person’s conversion and then asked, “Is this man a Christian?” Of course he is, I thought. He did what so many people in North American have done over the years – he heard the gospel, was invited to respond, and prayed and gave his life to Jesus. That’s when the pastor answered his own question:
“Time will tell.” And that’s the part of the story that really stuck with me.
You, like me, probably know someone in your life who at one time or another had what seemed to be a really genuine encounter with the gospel. They heard the word of truth, accepted they are a sinner, and asked Jesus to forgive them and be the Lord of their lives. And though the decision seemed genuine at the time, over the years you’ve seen them slowly but surely drift from that original moment until now they are just another story of someone who prayed a simple prayer, maybe got baptized, but now seem to have no real affection for Jesus.
Those experiences have caused me to wonder if we have, perhaps, put too much emphasis on the moment of conversion. It’s not like we shouldn’t emphasize that moment; Saul was changed in an instant. Peter cast the net at Pentecost and people responded. At some point, for all of us, we stopped not believing and started believing. So sure, the moment is important.
But there’s also got to be a reason why time and time again the Bible tells us not just to be converted, but to remain. To abide. To persevere. To continue on to the end. This seems to be a recurring theme in Scripture, perhaps even more so than those examples of a given moment of conversion. Is it possible, then, that we are overemphasizing that moment to the detriment of the exhortation to simply continue on? To keep believing? To stay in fellowship?
Perhaps that imbalance might be at least part of the reason why there are many people, at least in the North American definition of Christianity, claim themselves to be “born-again” and yet show no real allegiance in their day to day lives to Jesus. Many of us were raised inside a religious system that taught us (unintentionally) to place our hope in a single moment. A prayer. An experience. That one thing we can come back to over and over again as if to say that because we had this one experience then we are surely safe forever.
Now again, the value of that moment is important. We cannot move to a way of thinking that assumes that just because we know the right lingo and have the right answers that our hearts have been genuinely changed by Jesus. Let’s not overcorrect, because overcorrection is what got us to the over emphasis in the first place. One of the reasons we have such an emphasis on the single moment is that for generations, conversion was assumed due to class attendance, a pledge of allegiance, or some other kind of means. We looked around generations ago, and wisely saw churches filled with good citizens who had unchanged hearts. Ironically, though, we look around now and see some of the same thing, albeit because of a different reason.
Let’s instead recognize that perhaps the right question is not, “When did you become a Christian?” but “Who or what are you trusting in right now?” In other words, are you really remaining right now, or are you relying purely on a moment from the past? Difficult question, but perhaps one that can bring some clarity and definition to what it means to, at a present moment, be “in Christ.” Time will indeed tell.
10 minutes for the Old Testament…
And 10 minutes for the New…
Posted by MK | Filed under Bible Study
There is a reason why John 3:16 is still probably the best known passage in the entire Bible. Not only is it because it provides a great summation of the gospel message; it’s also because it is, in some ways, easy to talk about. The verse in question is about God’s great love for us; it puts a spotlight on this love and it opens the door to eternity to “whosoever will” regardless of your past or your present.
It is, you could argue, an easy text.
But if you look at the Bible holistically, “easy” texts like that sit side by side with more difficult ones. Take, for example, the story you find in Numbers 31.
Moses, at the command of the Lord, leads the Israelites to attack the people of Midian, and the Israelite army killed every last man (Num. 31:7). They captured the Midianite women and children, though, and took them back to Moses. That’s when Moses ordered not only the women but the children to be killed (Num. 31:13-16). It’s disturbing to say the least.
Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easy as John 3:16, does it? Some have tried to deal with texts like these by simply throwing them out; this is the Old Testament, after all, and there’s a reason why we have the New Testament. So the simplest way to deal with difficult texts like these is to act like they don’t exist. They don’t get preached; they don’t really even get mentioned except along with phrases like, “Well that was weird.”
But if you believe in the whole revelation of God in Scripture, that’s really not an option. These Bible stories are there; indeed, these are the stories the early church looked at and preached to each other as the New Testament was still being inspired and written. So how do you deal with difficult texts like these?
I want to offer a potential first step. This first step is the one that comes before all the historical analysis and word studies. It’s before the careful examination of the context of the writing and the discovery of what this reveals to be as equally true about the character of God as the love that John 3:16 highlights.
The first step is to acknowledge that the problem with the text lies with me – not with God.
See, when we find a text to be difficult, it’s usually because of one of two reasons. Either it offends my preferences, or it offends my supposed sense of morality. In the first case, we don’t like a text because it demands us to change some loved behavior in our lives, and most of the time we don’t want to do that. It’s easier, then, to make the problem seem to be about the text itself.
In the second case, we have a problem with God doing something that doesn’t seem to be moral or right as we understand morality and rightness. So we think and we ponder over how this God who is supposed to be so loving can do something that seems so vicious.
In either case, though, the starting point of our objection is ourselves. We are assuming that we know the standard of right and wrong, good and bad. We look to ourselves to define what is love or moral. And in so doing, we reveal that we still have a very high opinion of ourselves.
When we are willing, on the front end, before anything else, to assume the opposite – that good and truth and love are all defined by God, for He is the Author of them all, then we must also assume that the problem in our understanding is not in the action of God but in our understanding of that action.
That’s when we’re ready to start digging in. Until then, though, we will still at some level read the Bible not in an attitude of humility but in arrogance, looking for a God that fits perfectly with how we think He should.
Check this guy out: