Issue #66

Boring Prayer Life, Glory Be to Christ, Renewing a Decadent Evangelical Culture, and more...

Issue #66
Photo by Kier In Sight / Unsplash

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

A Simple Solution to a Boring Prayer Life | Donald S. Whitney 📃 →

Instead, you’re more likely to think, Look, I don’t know about anybody else. I just know that when I pray, it’s boring. So it must be me. There’s something wrong with me. In fact, now that you’ve shown me all the advantages I have in comparison to many other Christians in the world, I feel guiltier than ever. I felt like a failure in prayer before, but apparently I’m even worse than I thought. Thanks a lot!

So now we’ve come to the most challenging part. It’s possible that you have been saying the same old things about the same old things in prayer for so long that it’s hard for you to believe that you could easily learn to pray any other way, as though you were listening to a lung specialist say that you could easily change the way you breathe. Many who are reading this have endured the guilt of an incurably wandering mind and feelings of boredom in prayer for decades, and here comes a writer asking you to believe that there is a simple, permanent, biblical solution to a problem that’s plagued you for most of your life. Would I really ask you to believe that?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
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Musical Masterpiece 🎼

All Glory Be to Christ | The Petersens 🎶 →

Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive

To you who boast tomorrow's gain
Tell me, what is your life?
A mist that vanishes with the dawn
All glory be to Christ

All glory be to Christ our king
All glory be to Christ
His rule and reign we'll ever sing
All glory be to Christ

His will be done, His kingdom come
On earth as is above
Who is Himself our daily bread
Praise Him, the Lord of love

Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
All glory be to Christ

When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new

Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall e'er his people be
All glory be to Christ

Listen and Learn 🎧

Godly Jealousy | Erik Thoennes, Sean McDowell, and Scott Rae 🎧 →

Sean and Scott talk with Erik Thoennes about the proper understanding of God's jealousy. According to Dr. Thoennes, godly jealousy is a misunderstood and yet beautiful attribute of God that can deeply shape our daily lives.

Read and Reflect 📖

Behold the Man Upon the Cross | Jon Bloom 📃 →

We have lost the shock of the cross. We wear it in our jewelry and raise it on our steeples. It’s become normal. But in the time of Jesus, the cross was the equivalent of a noose. Can you imagine wearing a noose, an electric chair, or a firing squad around your neck? And yet, that’s exactly what we do with the cross.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing to wear cross jewelry. My point, and Bloom’s, is that we need to feel the power and horror of the cross.

If you've enjoyed reading this letter, please share it with others and help us grow. We exist to help Christians grow in their faith and to make the name of Jesus Messiah glorified in all the earth. We grow thanks to readers like you sharing what we do with others. Thank you!

Christianity Is True ✝️

What’s with God Asking Abraham to Sacrifice Issac? | Erik Manning 📽 →

The Bible condemns child sacrifice in numerous places. But in Genesis 22 we see God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Is God some kind of bloodthirsty deity who isn't above child-sacrifice? What is going on in this difficult passage of scripture?

This is a good traditional defense of why God would ask Abraham to sacrifice Issac even if he bans human sacrifice.

Explore the Scriptures 📖

A Complementarian Reading of the New Testament | Tom Schreiner and Preston Sprinkle 🎧 →

Complementarians believe that the Bible affirms the full equality of women and men, but that God only allows men to be elders and teachers in local churches. Dr. Tom Schreiner is one of the most well known and widely published (and respected) scholars who holds to this view. In this episode, Tom sums up his position and then responds to several counterarguments I throw at him.

If you’re wondering how a defender of the complementarian viewpoint handles hard questions, this is a great resource for you. If you’re wondering what some of those hard questions might be, this is also a good resource for you. If you enjoy a good discussion about the Bible…you guessed it, take a listen.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

How to Renew a Decadent Evangelical Culture | Samuel James 📃 →

Decadence, Douthat argues, is neither dynamic growth nor explosive disintegration. Rather, it’s typified by stagnation, institutional inertia, and a kind of tit-for-tat that’s perpetually looking to settle old scores and define out-group and in-group membership. According to Douthat, decadence is paralytic repetition: moral, economic, and societal atrophy that results from too little success and too much comfort.

Over the past few years, it’s been difficult for me to avoid thinking that decadence accurately describes many elements of contemporary evangelicalism. While evangelical churches are certainly discipling and evangelizing with Spirit-filled power throughout America and the world, the feeling among many major evangelical institutions and groups has been increasing frustration and uncertainty. Pressed in multiple directions by crises unthinkable only a decade ago, a distressing number of evangelical pastors are leaving the ministry or thinking strongly about it.

James goes on to give two things that Evangelicals need to do to “shake off decadence”: reaffirm our mission and revitalize personal and institutional habits.

On reaffirming our mission, James writes,

One major symptom of evangelical decadence is the energetic policing of other theological tribes rather than the confident forward movement in building up one’s own institutions and culture. This is an example of what I’ve referred to as “engaging culture from behind”: constantly reacting to the news cycle, especially controversies and stories that reflect obviously poorly on theological or political opponents. For many evangelicals, engaging culture means little more than keeping up with the nonsense the extreme leftist or “exvangelical” folks publish and knocking it down.

This kind of constant leftward-facing posture from many evangelical sectors is a sign of decadence because it prevents a healthy acceptance of irreconcilable differences and the constructive movement such acceptance can bring.

James doesn’t mean that we should accept those with irreconcilable differences into our own fold, but to affirm our confessional identity—that is, to affirm the beliefs that form our identity—and to push aside those that reject that confession. As James, says, “The proper response is not perpetual engagement, but holy ambivalence.”

In other words, the Evangelical church is so busy fighting a culture war that they have stopped focusing on who we are and what we should be doing. The Evangelical church should create its own culture, not try to constantly knock down secular culture. This is what the early church did.

James moves on to revitalizing our personal and institutional habits. James talks about “habits of endurance,”

The solution, as Francis Schaeffer reminded us, is to do the Lord’s work not in the world’s way, but in the Lord’s way.

One of evangelicalism’s craftier enemies is competitive pragmatism. Reformed evangelicals may pat themselves on the back for rejecting seeker-friendly theology or worship, but a numbers-based, results-oriented spirit still tends to find its way inside our institutions and discourse…Evangelicals cannot make these stories go away by pretending they never happened. There must be honest confession of where we’ve simply failed to practice what we preach.

Far better than pragmatism is a commitment to deep discipleship. With the help of a global pandemic, we have seen what life looks like when our conferences and gatherings are closer to 500 than 5,000. Might this be simply better? Might smaller, more local, more tangible expressions of evangelical Christianity be better positioned to equip men and women for the long haul of love and faithfulness?

Despite the public failures of the Evangelical church, hope is not lost and renewal is possible. The Evangelical church needs to decide who it is and intentionally create the culture it wants to build, then draw the world to Christ from its strength and not play catch-up with the newspaper headlines.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

May the LORD reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”
— Ruth 2:12 (CSB)

Joel Fischer