Read and Reflect 📖
The Bible commands Christians, “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account” (Heb. 13:17, NIV). But God’s Word also tells of times when we shouldn’t trust and submit to leaders. What are the circumstances when honoring God means disobeying, fleeing, or even calling out those who minister in his name?
Paul warned the Ephesians elders of wolves who would come and not spare God’s flock (Acts 20:29). The apostle borrows the image of the wolf directly from Jesus (John 10:12; Matt. 7:15). As patterns of abuse come to light in the church, we urgently need this biblical warning that shows us the difference between a godly shepherd and one who preys upon the sheep.
False teaching—preaching “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6–7)—is a primary way a wolf reveals his true nature, but what are some other ways to tell a true shepherd from a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
As more stories of abuse in the church come to light, this article is practical and helpful. As Etheridge writes, wolves’ true natures are often hidden, even from themselves (Matthew 7:15). He gives four signs of a wolf in ministry and explains each.
Consider Another Perspective 🤔
Francis Chan has been on an interesting journey. He’s one of the most recognizable figures in Evangelical Christianity, yet he left the country. Upon his return, he hasn’t sought the spotlight but has quietly been working to grow in his understanding of the faith.
Part of that journey seems to be his journey to understand communion on a deeper level. He was shocked to discover that early Christianity’s views were nearly unanimous that Christ is truly present with the bread and the wine. Living that view has made his experience of communion deeper.
While I’m still skeptical of the real presence view, I certainly think that the evangelical church has been far too casual in its view of the bread and cup, and I enjoyed the passion that Chan and the Remnant Radio crew brought to this discussion.
Listen and Learn 🎧
Jesus tells us to give to those who ask, but Paul warns the church against giving to the lazy. How might we apply these teachings when we meet a panhandler?
Living This Christian Life 🤴👸
In a recent study, 48% of pastors told Lifeway Research that they know someone who is transgender. According to Gallup research, 15.9% of Generation Z identifies as part of the LGBT community. Churches in areas with a high population of young people are more likely to be confronted with issues related to gender identity. If you haven’t had a transgender guest to your student ministry yet, you will soon.
Based on my experience and my understanding of the scriptures, here are five things that you and your church leadership should keep in mind when a transgender student visits your church.
In conversations with friends who teach high school, transgenderism is growing rapidly among teens (especially girls). All Christians should be aware and ready for when students with gender dysphoria visit their church.
Christianity Is True ✝️
Who Are the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and What Do They Believe? | Melissa Dougherty and Shea Houdmann 🎧 →
Jehovah’s witnesses are one of the most prevalent cults of Christianity in America. But they’re often considered to be pretty much Christians and most aren’t familiar with how their beliefs differ from ours. I appreciate how this podcast tries to bring those teachings to light and also gives tips on how to talk with Jehovah’s Witnesses in love.
Musical Masterpiece 🎼
When I look into the face
Of my enemy
I see my brother
I see my brother
Forgiveness is the garment
Of our courage
The power to make the peace
We long to know
Open up our eyes
To see the wounds that bind
All of humankind
May our shuttered hearts
Greet the dawn of life
With charity and love
As I travel through this world
It’s gettin' clearer to me
Some of the things I believed,
I’m casting out to the seas
And as I’m waving my goodbyes
To the lies I was taught
Gotta searchlight my soul,
'Cuz some of them I bought into
They grip like shadows in my mind
Unknowingly they shapin'
How I’m viewing humankind
Reaching past the differences,
The colors we were suited in
The places we were born,
And the cultures we were rooted in
Children of God, ain't that all of us
How we gonna hate
When compassion’s what called to us
Love, oh love, you got me covered
I’m lettin’ go of enemies
And holdin’ on to brothers
This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.
Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
Tripp wrote this article around the time of Lent, but the principles within it apply to a Christian any time of the year.
What has you in its hold? Don’t rush to answer. Stop and give this question some consideration.
What do you feel you can’t live without?
What has the ability to make or break your day?
What has the power to make you very sad?
What can produce almost instant happiness?
The loss of what would leave you a bit depressed?
What do you tend to attach your identity to?
What tends to control your wishes?
What do others have that causes you to envy?
If you could get just one thing, what would it be?
The absence of what tempts you to question God’s goodness?
What does your use of money tell you about what’s important to you?
What fills your fantasies and your dreams?
What would the videos of your last six weeks reveal about what has you in its hold?
What physical idols tempt you most?
What relational idols attract you the most?
Is there a place where you’re asking the creation to do what only the Creator can?
Where are our idols? What do we desire more than Christ? Tripp challenges us to pursue true and lasting—eternal—happiness in Christ and the life he offers us instead of the cheap imitation that sin offers.
Because creation is so obvious (you can see it, you can taste it, you can feel it, and you can smell it), it’s tempting to look to it to deliver all the things for which we are all searching. But satisfaction of our hearts is not the purpose of the physical creation; it actually has a much higher purpose. Creation was made to point us to the one who alone has the power to satisfy our longing hearts. He is the bread that will satisfy our hunger. He is the living water that makes us thirst no longer.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. It collapsed with a great crash.”
— Matthew 7:26–27 (CSB)