Issue #75

What Sins Feed Your Sins, the Masculinity Debate Needs Johnny Cash, Ethnic Reconcilation Is Part of the Gospel, and more...

Issue #75
Photo by Joeyy Lee / Unsplash

Family Focus 🏡

Where Will They Learn to Work? Teaching Children a Lost Ethic | Mary Beeke 📃 →

In paradise, Adam and Eve tended the garden of Eden. After the fall, sweat and pain entered the story. But even though some of our work is now burdensome, God gives blessings, joy, and fulfillment also. The creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to replenish and subdue the earth, and to exercise dominion over the earth still holds (Genesis 1:28).

Throughout most of human history, parents and children worked hard simply to survive, to have food on the table and a roof over their heads. It’s the same in much of the world today. But in the West, we have a more comfortable lifestyle; we have technology and machines that do many of our everyday tasks.

So, does this mean that we and our children can take it easy? No, the biblical work ethic still applies. God designed us to follow his pattern in working six days a week and resting one (Exodus 20:8–11). He still calls us to do whatever our hand finds to do with all our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Beeke looks at how the creation mandate to work should apply to our children, and just as importantly, how we can foster a sense of work in the young ones in our lives.

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Did the Sun Stop Moving in Joshua 10? | Michael Jones 📽 →

In Joshua 10, it seems that we are told that the sun physically stands still in the sky while Israel fights the Amorites:

At that time Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the LORD heeded the voice of a man, for the LORD fought for Israel.
— Joshua 10:12–14 (ESV)

Jones argues that the cultural context can show us that the words are, despite their initial appearance, actually a common form of a curse for a miraculous sign in the sky that the pagan priests would have seen and known meant their defeat.

I’m not sure if his proposal is correct—after all, God could have made the sun stop in the sky if he wanted to—but Jones presents it compellingly.

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Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Which Sins are Feeding Your Sin of Lust? | David Powlison 📃 →

The case study used in this article is about lust and pornography, but the principles described apply just as easily to the battle with any sin.

Tom is a single man, thirty-five years old. You might be able to fill in the rest of his story, because his pattern is so typical! He came to Christ, with a sincere profession of faith, when he was fifteen. At about the same time, his twenty-year struggle with sexual lust began…

Tom sought help from me as his elder and small group leader. He was discouraged by recent failures, by the latest downturn in a seemingly endless cycle. Over the years he had tried “all the right things,” the standard answers and techniques. He’d tried accountability—sincerely. It helped some, but not decisively. Accountability had a way of starting strong but slipping to the side. At a certain point, to tell others you failed yet again, and to receive either sympathy or exhortation, stopped being helpful. Tom had memorized Scripture and wrestled to apply truth in moments of battle. It often helped, but then in snow-blind moments, when he most needed help, he’d forget everything he knew…

Is the centerpiece of the Christian life really an endless cycle of “I sin. I don’t sin. I sin. I don’t sin. I sin.” What were we missing?

The question that stopped the cycle was “when are you tempted?” Tom and his pastor realized that the temptation to sin only occurred at certain times and that other sins fed his temptation: he was mad at God for not giving him a wife when it seemed like he “deserved it.” Tom outward facing sin was fed by more subtle sins: sins of self-pity, anger at God, envy, and a low view of God all led to his sin of lust.

Freedom came in recognizing the underlying sins and failures of faith. Treating the symptoms while the root remained was like trying to pull a weed’s leaves and leaving the root. The weed eventually re-grows and the subtle sins manifest in the more visible sin.

It doesn’t have to be lust. What feeds your sin of gossip? Of backbiting? Of gluttony? Careless spending? Miserliness? Whatever it is that you struggle with on the surface, if you have struggled to address it and failed, perhaps this article will help you find someone to identify and attack deeper, harder-to-see sins.

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Christianity Is True ✝️

The Problem of Evil | Josh Rasmussen and Gavin Ortlund 📽 →

Pastor and theologian Gavin Ortlund interviews philosopher Josh Rasmussen on the problem of why God may allow evil. The topic ranges from the pastoral—how to deal with evil in our lives—to the more philosophical—is it logical to believe in an all-loving God when there’s so much evil in the world?

Read and Reflect 📖

How to Battle Theological Confirmation Bias | Rhyne Putman 📃 →

Confirmation bias can affect every area of human thought, including our approach to the Bible. Well-meaning Christians sometimes go to God’s Word looking to confirm what they already think. They’ll cherry-pick biblical texts which support their position instead of doing the hard work of exegesis and theological reflection.

Why do otherwise like-minded evangelicals (who share a common commitment to biblical authority and the gospel) come to heated disagreements over secondary doctrinal matters? It’s often because of our own confirmation bias—because we hold the faith traditions that nurtured us and their distinctive theological positions dearly.

So, what does confirmation bias look like, and how do we combat it?

Everybody has a set of lenses that they see the world through, and Christians have a set of lenses that they see the Bible through. Often this starts from childhood when we are taught what the Bible is and how to read it (which is part of what makes teaching children the Bible like it’s a moral rulebook so dangerous).

Part of being a good Berean (Acts 17:10–11) is listening to voices that challenge our assumptions.

Grant Osborne once explained that often when we read the Bible, “we wish to harmonize it with our belief system and see its meaning in light of our preconceived theological system.” How often is that true about us? Do we want to know truth, or do we merely want to be right? Does our interpretation method place truth and God’s glory over a desire to be esteemed by those in our theological camp?

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

The Masculinity Debate Needs Johnny Cash | Hannah Anderson 📃 →

…we are once again grappling to understand what has become an all-too-common atrocity: senseless mass shootings by disaffected, violent young men…Much has been made of the excesses of John Wayne masculinity, but I wonder if it’s time for a conversation about Johnny Cash masculinity.

While The Duke is synonymous with true grit, masculine bravado, and dominance, The Man in Black offers an alternative vision—and perhaps a way forward in these deeply fragmented times.

Anderson hits the right note here:

While Cash celebrated a kind of rugged masculinity, he was also a deeply-flawed man. His life was marked by infidelity, alcoholism, and drug abuse. He was no pastor.

And yet, Cash had a singular advantage—something the current rhetoric around masculinity misses. He knew he was a deeply flawed man. He knew he was a man in need of grace. So while he sang about the temptations that are common to all, he didn’t justify or excuse his own participation. Instead, his discography rings with confession, grief, and cries for redemption.

Step one to a beautiful vision of masculinity: realize that we are broken people in need of grace, not bravado.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Is Ethnic Reconciliation a Part of the Gospel? | Preston Sprinkle 🎧 →

Is ethnic reconciliation an essential part of the gospel, or is it an optional add on? …I argue for the former, that part of the reason why Christ came, died, and was raised from the dead was to create “in one new humanity” (Eph. 2) a multiethnic kingdom and church. After giving a long personal narrative about why this topic is important to me, I work through several key passages integral to the storyline of Scripture including: Genesis 12, Acts 2, 6, 8, 13, Galatians 2-3, Ephesians 2-3, and Revelation 5.

This is an outstanding episode. I would like to make one addition that I think Sprinkle missed. In Genesis 11, God fractures the nations, and we learn in Deuteronomy 28 that in so doing, God gave the spiritual rulership of those nations to other (created by God) deities.

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
when he divided mankind,
he fixed the borders of the peoples
according to the number of the sons of God.

This leads into Genesis 12:3—which Sprinkle does discuss—the promise is that through God’s choice of Abraham he will bring the nations back into the family of God.

This is the power of the pouring of the spirit during Pentecost (Acts 2). The people listening heard the apostles speaking all in their own tongue. The good news was no longer for a particular ethnic people (that anyone could join through faith in God), but for the whole world. The theme of ethnic reconciliation pervades Acts, for example as Peter learns that uncircumcised, pork-eating Roman soldiers are just as welcome to the family of God as Jewish believers are (Acts 10).

The gospel is meant to bind believers into the family of God, not to wipe away ethnic differences, but with celebration of ethnic differences (Revelation 5). We are one body, one kingdom in Christ, and it is a gospel mandate to pursue ethnic reconciliation.

I can’t prescribe what that must be from the Bible, but scripture is clear: Jesus died to bring the kingdom of Heaven to all who believe, and a core part of the kingdom of heaven is the reconciliation of the nations alienated at the Tower of Babylon (Babel). We are no longer of Babylon, we are of Christ. Our salvation demands we pursue unity in Christ.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
— Matthew 10:42 (CSB)

Joel Fischer