Living This Christian Life 🤴👸
In last week’s [Ed. note, this article was from a few weeks ago] 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court found there’s no constitutional right to an abortion. Access will now be determined by each state, with roughly half poised to eliminate or significantly restrict the number of abortions performed within their borders.
But as we welcome this ruling, we must be measured in our response. Now isn’t the time for the church to beat its chest in celebration of a victory in the culture war. This is a moment for us to step up in love. What might this look like? Here are three suggestions.
- . Disarm with compassion.
As access to abortion becomes more limited, an untold number of women—sometimes supported by partners but typically alone—will find themselves in crisis. In shock, fear, and despair. They’re now without the only option that seemed to offer hope. Let’s be clear: These women are not and have never been the enemy. Our heart toward them must be loving.
- Act personally.
- Organize Corporately.
Christianity Is True ✝️
I enjoyed this short animated video examining the problem of divine hiddenness. Divine hiddenness is the question of why God isn’t more apparent. Many people struggle with the idea that God should make himself more visible to us. If salvation requires faith in God, then why doesn’t God just reveal himself to us powerfully and undeniably?
Read and Reflect 📖
More weeks than not, I think about skipping church.
“We could just take this one week off, I tell myself. We’ll be back next week. It’s cold out, anyway.”
The author of the book of Hebrews wasn’t dealing with Minnesota winters when he exhorted his readers to keep “assembling together.” If he had to face sub-zero temperatures, he’d totally get why staying home sounds so good.
And anyway, I’m an introvert.
And it’s not difficult to argue that that’s perfectly OK. After all, we’ve been saying for years that being a Christian is about “a relationship, not a religion.” Doing faith independently sounds like the natural extension of that principle.
If Christianity isn’t a religion, why do we need organized, religious meetings? If I’m praying, reading the Bible, volunteering in my community, listening to sermon podcasts and maybe even talking about theology with my non-Christian friends, why do I need to supplement that with a religious ritual every Sunday? Aren’t I basically doing all the important parts of church on my own?
If you’ve asked these kinds of questions or heard them before, this is a wonderful article explaining why we may have gotten a bit carried away with all of our “relationship, not a religion” language.
Consider the Culture 🎨
In this video, McDowell and Rae sit down to discuss Brandan Robertson’s book The Gospel of Inclusion, which they found to be one of the strongest books making the case for LGBT relationships being legitimate from a Christian perspective. They took Robertson’s work seriously and charitably but offer strong critiques as well.
Church History Corner ⛪️
John Owen famously warns Christians, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” His book The Mortification of Sin is an exposition of Romans 8:13: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Though Christians cannot eliminate sin in this life, Owen encourages us to diligently fight sinful desires and put them to death.
What is the shovel we use to attack our sin? Owen gives us nine practical directives.
Sometimes it’s the simple things that we need reminding of. As Christians, we know we are called to live a life free from sin, but sometimes it’s easy to forget. Gaines calls upon the great Puritan John Owen to help remind us of the call to kill sin, and the steps we can take to do it.
Listen and Learn 🎧
“Pastor John, hello, and thank you for this podcast! I would certainly call myself a skeptic toward healing ministries. But I am left wondering if this is unbelief in me. Jesus said to his followers, ‘Whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father’ (John 14:12). After the ascension, this amazing promise carries over ‘to every single believer,’ you said in APJ 63. Amazing! But how does this promise of Christ relate to healing ministries today? I could attend a healing meeting at a church in my area. I’m in need of healing and deliverance. But I cannot do this until my skepticism is addressed. And if these people, these faith healers, are really doing the work of God, I don’t want to disobey him by my skeptical unbelief. Pastor John, can you help me?
I like Piper’s answer to this question because he breaks down the text (John 14:12) and then gives us five questions to ask about a faith healer. This gives us practical steps we can apply to our own lives when we are wondering how we should look for healing.
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 ☕️
During the ugliest election of our lifetimes, partisans on both sides mobilized voters with shrill warnings about what might happen if the other side won.
Of course, this is nothing new. In every era, fear has been the oil that keeps the engine of politics running. And yet, throughout Scripture our Lord calls us away from fearing political leaders and instead encourages us to engage politically with calm confidence.
We can see this all over the news. As the election season has ramped up, I have received many political mailer ads loudly proclaiming the dangers of someone else winning an election—and this is the primaries and the other politician is of their own party! I’ve seen some Christians get sucked into fear-based marketing. But this is nothing new. The Bible proclaims that fear-based politics is ancient:
In 1 Samuel 8, the Israelites clamor for a king. Why? They were tired of living in fear of their Philistine neighbors; they wanted a ruler to protect them (1 Sam. 8:20). Their demand appears right after a narrative describing how the Lord—who needed no army and no weapon bigger than a wooden box—caused the whole Philistine nation to quake in their boots.
Throughout the Old Testament, God instructs his people that the only fear worth having is “fear of the LORD;” those dominated by fear of man will mistakenly put their trust in men to save them from fear, and they will be sorely disappointed.
The New Testament drives home the same theme. Every fear ultimately gains its strength from our mortality, from the fear of death, which undermines the security of every earthly good. It’s through this fear that sin holds us in bondage, and from this fear that Christ came to set us free (Heb. 2:14–15).
Free from the fear of death and devil, Christ models for his followers a startlingly carefree attitude toward this world’s politics. The Jews of his time—like the subjects of oppressive rule in many eras—lived in constant fear and hatred of the tax collector, and they fiercely debated whether they ought to pay his unjust demand.
But Christians must approach politics (and, really, all marketing) with a discerning eye. That is what Littlejohn is trying to help us do.
Christians should not ignore politics—God has established the government for their good and for the good of their community—but the curious calm that characterizes our political engagement should constantly puzzle and confound our unbelieving neighbors. Each election cycle, all of us should expect incredulous friends to ask us, “Don’t you even care?”
So what should be the posture of the Christian? Keep reading to find out. It’s a wonderful reminder for all of us as we head into election season, no matter which side of the political aisle we fall on.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
— Matthew 10:28