Issue #97

On Buddhism, the Gospel Is Political, Escape from Kabul, and more...

Issue #97
Photo by Mohammad Husaini / Unsplash

Christianity Is True ✝️

On Buddhism | John Dickson 🎧 →

Buddhism probably takes the prize today for World’s Most Lovable Religion. But is this widespread appreciation of Buddhism matched by widespread understanding?

I recently attended a Buddhist wedding. I’m not sure that the bride and groom are Buddhist, though. They chose to do the wedding in Buddhist style because Buddhism is an attractive alternative to Christianity for many young people. It’s spiritual—and so fulfills that spiritual longing deep within all of us—but also fits with the vogue feeling that “all we need is love,” to quote the Beatles.

For many young people, it’s all about love, oneness with all things, and meditation. It’s low-effort and makes you feel good and fit in with the culture.

Is that really what Buddhism is like? Is that really all that it teaches? And are its teachings true? Dickson, in characteristic style, examines these questions and more.

Read and Reflect 📖

Four Tips for Having Good Conversations | Jonathan Noyes 📃 →

For those of us who struggle to have good conversations, Noyes points us in the right direction. Here’s just one:

Francis Schaeffer said, “If I have only an hour with someone, I will spend the first fifty-five minutes asking questions and finding out what is troubling their heart and mind, and then in the last five minutes I will share something of the truth.”

Schaeffer was on to something. Open-ended questions like “What matters most to you in life?” “What do you find confusing about Jesus and Christianity?” and of course, “What do you mean by that?” help you understand what a person thinks so you don’t misunderstand him—or worse, misrepresent him. Asking questions helps you understand what a person believes but also makes that person feel valued and heard. Questions can be disarming and often help bring down a person’s defensive walls. The next tip also helps put people at ease.

Listen and Learn 🎧

The Gospel is Political | Patrick Schreiner and Preston Sprinkle 🎧 →

The good news of Jesus bears on every part of our lives, including politics. But did you know that the gospel, by nature, is political? It was like a political bomb dropped in the early church and led to much of their suffering…but maybe not in the way you think.

The gospel is political, but not partisan. The church is a profoundly political community. When we claim Jesus as Lord, we are also quite dangerously claiming that Caesar is not. These are the kinds of things Patrick and I discuss in this somewhat provocative episode.

For More:

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Worship Isn’t About You: What I Learned After Years of Leading | Bob Kauflin 📃 →

On the second page, I came across this quote:

Is worship, then, essentially an experience or feeling? Is it to be identified with a special sense of the presence of God, or with some kind of religious ecstasy or with expressions of deep humiliation before God? Are there special moments in a Christian meeting when we are truly “worshipping” God? Are church services to be measured by the extent to which they enable the participants to enter into such experiences? Such a subjective approach is often reflected in the comments people make about Christian gatherings, but it has little to do with biblical teaching on the matter. (David Peterson, Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, 16)

Until then, I had treated worship primarily as a “special moment in a Christian meeting.” It typically happened after we had sung two or three songs. Suddenly, we would become more aware that God was with us. We were emotionally engaged and sure something spontaneous was about to happen. To our minds, it directly corresponded to the Old Testament pattern of the temple. We started in the outer court, passed through the inner court, and finally entered the Holy of Holies. As a worship leader, I sought to lead the church into that “Holy of Holies” experience.

Twenty-five years later, I still appreciate and anticipate times when the church has a strong awareness that the Holy One of Israel is in our midst (Isaiah 12:6), but I no longer define worship that way. Because Scripture doesn’t.

I think how Kaufman treated worship is how most churches treat worship. Worship itself isn’t singing, it’s anything that adores and brings glory to God—including liturgical readings, prayer, and preaching. But we often treat musical worship as something meant to usher us into God’s felt presence, and I think that sometimes that happens, but that’s not how the Bible talks about worship.

But if that’s not what worship is about, then what is it about? You’ll have to read on to find out.

Consider Another Perspective 🤔

Conservative vs. Progressive: Jesus, Culture, and the Bible | Sean McDowell and Brandon Robertson 📽 →

Civil conversations between professed Christians with such wildly differing beliefs are rare, but McDowell is one of the best. Robertson is a progressive author, pastor, and TikTok star who regularly critiques evangelical and conservative Christianity. He and McDowell discuss their differences (and some similarities) in this video.

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

How Can I Cast My Cares on God? | John Piper 🎧 →

“Pastor John, I was recently rereading your book Battling Unbelief. In the first chapter, you mention 1 Peter 5:7 and that we should be ‘casting our cares on God.’ I have often wondered about this command and how you do it. How do you cast your cares? Do you simply tell God you’re giving up your worries? Additionally, once you do cast them, are we expected to forget those worries? Or can we expect them to come back to us?”

I was once asked by a young high school student who was going through a terrible home situation about exactly this issue. She’d been counseled by other well-meaning Christians to “cast her cares” on Jesus. “How,” she asked me, “am I supposed to do that?”

This is the best answer to that question that I’ve heard.

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Escape from Kabul | Sarah Zylstra 🎧 →

When Joe Biden announced last April that all American troops would be leaving Afghanistan, those familiar with the country knew it would eventually fall to the Taliban. But nobody predicted it would collapse before the Americans had even left the country.

Caught off guard, Afghans began to run, especially those who feared for their lives—former government employees, American interpreters, and Christians.

The Christians were especially interesting, because while conversion was illegal even under the Afghan government, the number of believers had been steadily growing, from an estimated 2,000 in 2013 to about 10,000 in 2021.

How were so many hearing about Jesus? With everybody keeping their faith a secret, how were they connecting with each other? And how on earth were they going to get out?

This is their story.

It’s hard to read stories about martyrs and Christian brothers and sisters under persecution, but it’s even harder to hear them. This incredible podcast tells the stories of our brave brothers and sisters who were faithful to Christ under incredible pressure to recant. This is a story of the power of the Holy Spirit to draw sinners, the power of discipleship, and the power of faith in the midst of persecution.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each according to what he has done.
— Matthew 16:27 (CSB)

Joel Fischer