Issue #81

Should We Want God to Exist, How Discipleship Strengthens the Church, In Praise of the Uncool Church, and more...

Issue #81
Photo by Michelle Tresemer / Unsplash

Christianity Is True ✝️

Should We Want God to Exist? | Liz Jackson 📽 →

The talk starts at about four minutes in.

The most common reason that skeptics give for not believing in God’s existence is the prevalence of evil in the world. Jackson tries to take a different approach to answer the skeptic’s objection from evil by showing why she thinks we should want God to exist.

If there is no God, Jackson notes:

– Most evil has no purpose or reason.– Much, if not most, evil is gratuitous– Many injustices will never be rectified. Many evildoers won’t be held accountable.

But if there is a God:

– Evil has a reason or purpose…– There is significantly less, if any, gratuitous evil.– There is ultimate cosmic justice. Evildoers will be held accountable.

But what does what we want to be true have to do with what really is true? Jackson goes on to explain that too.

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Why I’m an Amillenielist | Ryan Leasure 📃 →

I don’t write about eschatology much in The Garden Weekly, which is on purpose. Some eschatology matters: we must affirm that Jesus will return, raise us to new bodies, judge all people, and that the redeemed will live eternally in a new creation. Our view of the millennium is, at best, a tertiary issue.

Nevertheless, I think that Leasure’s article, briefly laying out a lesser-known position about the millennium, will be helpful in providing many of my readers with another perspective.

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Listen and Learn 🎧

How Discipleship Strengthens the Church | Courtney Doctor, Vanessa Hawkins, Melissa Kruger, and Trillia Newbell 🎧 →

In this podcast, these four women discuss what discipleship is, why it’s important, and how churches can build a culture of discipleship.

Kruger describes that discipleship is like tethering a young sapling to an old oak tree. The sun and rain still make the sapling grow, but it is guided in the right direction by the help of standing beside the older, more mature tree. The panel closes with the reason why we should be a part of discipleship—it impacts all of eternity.

Musical Masterpiece 🎼

In Paradise | Rachel Wilhelm 🎶 →

May angels take you by the hand
And lead you to the throne;
Where all the saints and martyrs stand,
Jerusalem, your home.
Jerusalem, your home! Jerusalem your home!
O may you rest in paradise,
Forever by the side of Christ.

We walk the bitter valley here,
where sorrow has no end,
but in our struggle still we hear,
"Be still, and know I AM."
This world is not our home,
this world is not our home.
Our resurrection and our life
we find at last in Jesus Christ.

All glory be to God on high,
The Father and the Son,
Who came to open paradise,
With God the Spirit, one.
The Lamb shall lead us home!
The Lamb shall lead us home!
To share his ever, glorious light;
All praises be to Jesus Christ.
To share his ever, glorious light;
All praises be to Jesus Christ.
All praises be to Jesus.
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Explore the Scriptures 📖

What Does Philippians 4:13 Mean? | Jason C. Meyer 📃 →

Philippians 4:13 is one of the best-known verses in all of Scripture: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” This verse is well-loved and often quoted, but frequently misunderstood and thus misapplied. This verse is not a promise that God will enable believers to do whatever they want whenever they want it.

But now he has to offer a quick qualifier to what he just said in order to respond to a potential misunderstanding with respect to himself (v. 11-13). It could sound like Paul is so fixated on his needs that he has lost sight of his contentment in Christ. Paul does not want to give the wrong impression, so he lays out for the Philippians a key lesson he has learned about contentment.

Verses 12-13 now unpack this lesson in detail. The heart of this teaching is that contentment does not depend upon our circumstances.

Watch and Wonder 📽

How Biblical Theology Changes Everything | Nancy Guthrie 📽 →

Guthrie says biblical theology is a way of seeing the Bible as one cohesive story about what God is doing in the world through Christ. Approaching the Scriptures with biblical theology as a framework, Christians should experience deeper awe of what Christ has done, not an overwhelming feeling of what we have to do. The smaller stories of the Bible are all woven together into the greater story of Christ—allowing us to see the beauty, sufficiency, and necessity of our union with him.

“Biblical theology changes everything.” That is quite the statement. But it has proven true for me. As I’ve learned more Biblical Theology, the story of scripture has opened up and it’s become easier to understand how the pieces of scripture fit.

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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

In Praise of the Boring, Uncool Church | Brett McCracken 📃 →

It seems almost every “leader of Christian cool”—whether a tattooed celebrity pastor or a buzzy nightclub church—flames out and loses its footing fairly quickly. Which is not at all surprising. By their very nature, things that are cool are ephemeral. What’s fashionable is, by the necessity of the rules of fashion, quickly obsolete.

Many (though not all) of the many Christian leaders which have fallen in recent years have been a part of the “cult of the cool,” in which leaders try to make Christianity fit with what modern culture thinks is “cool.” Making Christianity attractive to modern culture by having it “fit in” with modern culture usually results in that style and brand of Christianity being a fad: quick to grow and quick to fade.

As Christians, that is the opposite of what we want. We need something enduring, as we have been called to endure (Hebrews 10:36). Christianity should be attractive to the humble, but it is also profoundly unattractive to the proud and powerful (1 Corinthians 1:23, James 1:9–11). Fast growth often leads to a flash-in-the-pan passing of the fad.

From the Mars Hills to the Hillsongs (and countless others), it’s tragic to see churches fail—however predictable and ill-advised the “cool church” arc may be. We don’t rejoice over this. We should lament and learn.

What are the lessons?

For one, these headlines ought to remind us that relevance is no substitute for reverence and indeed may compromise it. The Christian life shouldn’t be oriented around being liked; it should be oriented around loving God and loving others. Far more important than being fashionable is being faithful. Far more crucial than keeping up with the Joneses is staying rooted in God’s unchanging Word.

Things like confession and repentance, daily obedience to the whole counsel of Scripture, and quiet commitment to spiritual disciplines aren’t cutting edge and won’t land you in a GQ profile about “hypepriests.” But these are the things that make up a healthy, sustainable, “long obedience in the same direction” faith. And with every hip church that closes and celebrity pastor who falls, more and more Christians are hopefully waking up to this fact.

This is not to say that churches can’t seek to attract people and grow; we are called to disciple the nations! But it does mean that our methods ought to be thought through carefully and with faithfulness to Christ and the history of the church. A church that takes its cue from thousands of years of Christian experience to learn what builds Christians that endure to the end is the church we should seek.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation. May peace come to all those who follow this standard, and mercy even to the Israel of God!
— Galatians 6:14–16 (CSB)

Joel Fischer