No Moody Deity: Why the Wrath of God is Unlike the Wrath of Man

fire-orange-emergency-burningIf you’ve ever seen the movie The Lion King, then you’ll surely remember the scene where Mufasa, king of the lion tribe, gazes out at his entire kingdom with his young son, Simba. Mufasa is trying to help Simba see that one day he will be gone and the kingdom will belong to him. The royal lions are gazing out into their dominion of the African safari, which is marked by a glorious and booming sun shining down. Mufasa’s words are, “Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Then, little Simba notices another part of the kingdom that is untouched by the sun. He curiously asks his father, “But what about the shadowy place?” Mufasa responds, “That’s beyond our borders. You must never go there, Simba.”

Romans 1 is much like this scene from The Lion King. The first 17 verses shine with the glorious light of the gospel. However, picking up in verse 18 until the end of the chapter, Paul goes to a very dark place. The first half of Romans 1 is the domain of light we not only want to walk in, but all we want to talk about. The second half of Romans 1 is the domain of darkness we would rather ignore. Indeed, we stay away from this shadowy place in thought and action. But as New Testament scholar Douglas Moo has said, “Only when we have really come to grips with the extent of the human dilemma will we be able to respond as we should to the answer to that dilemma found in the good news about Jesus.”

Romans 1:18-32 really is a shadowy place filled with the wrath of God, the power and curse of sin, idolatry, depravity, and judgment. Paul seems to move from the light of the gospel to the darkness of sin and judgment to answer one question: “Why do we need the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation?”

There are few topics or truths in the Bible that ruffle feathers quite like the wrath of God. Even saying, the wrath of God, sounds scary. It’s not something we like to talk about much. In fact, I’ve heard non-Christians say they could easily believe in a God of love, but they could never believe in a God of wrath. In other words, they can believe in a John 3:16 God, but not a Romans 1:18 God.

The problem with this concern is that the John 3:16 God is also the Romans 1:18 God. There aren’t multiple gods revealed in Scripture. There is only one true and living God revealed in Scripture, and he is both loving and holy. Actually, because he is loving and holy, he pours out his wrath against unrighteousness and the unrighteous. But an important question for us to ask is, “What is the wrath of God?”

Wrath is just an intense word that basically means anger. God is angry at unrighteousness and ungodliness. But it is important to remember that God’s anger is not like our anger. It is possible for us to be angry in a righteous or holy way. For example, it is good to be angry at murder, injustice, and evil of all kinds. But most of the time we are angry in sinful ways. Our motivations and actions fueled by anger are usually sinful.

God is never angry in an unrighteous or sinful way. His anger is pure, holy, and right. It is also wrong to think about God’s wrath as the attitude and action of a moody deity. God doesn’t have mood swings or a temper. Instead, in the words of John Stott, “God’s wrath is his holy hostility to evil, his refusal to condone it or come to terms with it, his just judgment upon it.”

God’s righteousness is the origin of his wrath. If he did not hate and destroy that which is unrighteous, he would rob himself of glory and his people of joy. It is amazing news that God opposes unrighteousness and sin because he also absorbs the very wrath the unrighteous deserve. God’s wrath and God’s love are not enemies. The enemy of God’s wrath is neutrality. If God just ignored our sin, he could not save us from our sin. Instead, God’s wrath is against sin and sinners. And in God’s love he sent Jesus to fully bear his wrath in our place. In the finished work of Christ, God saves us from himself, to himself, and for himself.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

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Don’t Raise Your Hands in Vain: Reflections on True Worship from Psalm 111

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Photo Creds: lapideo on Flickr

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. –Psalm 111:1-2

When you hear the word worship what is the first thought that comes to your mind? For many of us, we think of worship as the thing we do on Sunday mornings as a faith family. We gather for a worship service in the worship room to sing worship songs led by a worship leader. But did you know it is possible to attend worship services every single Sunday and never actually worship?

It makes me think of the time I went to watch Duke play Indiana in the NCAA tournament in 2002. The game was played at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a great game! But I really didn’t care who won. Kentucky basketball fans hate few things more than Duke and Indiana basketball. My granddad and I joked that it would be awesome if they could both lose. Even though I didn’t like either team, I found myself clapping for the first player who was introduced…for Duke! My granddad quietly leaned over and asked politely, but firmly, “What on earth are you doing?” I didn’t know! I definitely wasn’t cheering for Duke to win. I wasn’t a Duke fan. Being in the place where Kentucky played their home games and seeing Duke sitting on Kentucky’s bench and hearing the same announcer from every Kentucky game caused me to clap from habit. I had no love for Duke in my heart even though my hands made it look like I did.

Many people do the same thing I did at Rupp Arena in church buildings on Sunday mornings. Their hands, words, and actions make it look like they are worshiping God, but their hearts are far from him. True worship is less about physical acts and more about the direction of the heart. Worship begins in the heart and directs love, joy, and obedience toward God in every area of life.

Psalm 111 begins with three simple words: “Praise the Lord!” This psalm is all about worship. What do you notice about the psalmist’s worship in verses 1-2?

First, his worship is God-centered. The eyes of his heart are gazing on God and his awesomeness.

Second, his worship flows from his heart. While you can hide your heart from others by singing the lyrics of worship songs, you can’t hide the desires and motives of your heart from God.

Third, his worship is both personal and corporate. That means he personally worships the Lord with his whole heart, but he also worships the Lord “in the company of the upright.” It is important to practice personal worship every day without forgetting how important it is to worship the Lord together with your faith family.

Finally, his worship is not mindless or joyless. I love verse two. In it, the psalmist says that those who delight in the works of God will study them. Do you see that? There is an inseparable connection between the mind and heart. Between thinking and rejoicing. The greatest motivation you could ever have to study your Bible, labor over theological truths, or teach a biblical theme to your children is found in this verse. Those who study the Lord’s works delight in them. Deep, God-centered joy is insatiable motivation to know the Lord. In this sense, theology is never boring! The whole goal of theology is joy!

We don’t worship God because someone forces us to do it. And we don’t worship God without thinking. We think deeply about who God is and all the things he has done. This deep meditation on God fuels worship in those whose joy is in him. Any kind of worship that is forced isn’t really worship to begin with. True worship is free. It is the free and glad-hearted desire of God’s people to meditate on his works and delight in what they see. Worship involves the full capacity of the mind and the full range of emotions of the heart.

You never have to prepare your heart to worship falsely. That’s easy. You just show up and go through the motions. You just ignore the daily reading of Scripture and prayer. You just build your own kingdom in your own image in your family, work, and leisure. But to worship truly? Oh, this requires much work–not to earn God’s favor. But to truly rejoice more in God than anything else, you will need to work hard to know and meditate on the things of God.

When was the last time you studied God? If you are struggling to come to a place of genuine and robust worship in every area of your life; if you are struggling to worship the Lord with your whole heart, then give yourself to the study of God. Meditate on who he is and what he has done for you in Jesus and see how your heart responds. I pray your experience would be that of the psalmist,

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation. Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

The Light Hiding Behind a Dark Psalm

light-bulb-light-oldPsalm 88 is one of the darkest psalms in the Bible. I know this because when I read it at the beginning of our staff meeting the other day, you could feel the mood of the room shift from lighthearted laughter to solemn silence. The room fell quiet as I read the anguish of Heman the Ezrahite. Even our jabs at the psalmist’s name were quickly forgotten as we listened to him pour out the depths of his soul.

The first section of his lament is representative of the entire psalm:

For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
I am a man who has no strength,
like one set loose among the dead,
like the slain that lie in the grave,
like those whom you remember no more,
for they are cut off from your hand.
You have put me in the depths of the pit,
in the regions dark and deep.
Your wrath lies heavy upon me,
and you overwhelm me with all your waves. (Psalm 88:3-7)

The psalm grows darker and darker. In many psalms of lament, there is a positive rise at the end where hope in God reigns supreme over all the sorrow that fills the psalmist’s heart. But Psalm 88 is different. There is no final declaration of hope in God. There is no victory song to sustain the soul in the waning hours of the night. Psalm 88 ends like this:

But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why do you cast my soul away?
Why do you hide your face from me?
Afflicted and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am helpless.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your dreadful assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
they close in on me together.
You have caused my beloved and my friend to shun me;
my companions have become darkness. (Psalm 88:13-18)

The psalmist cries to the Lord, but there is no answer. There is no sign of the morning sun after the dark night. The man feels alone in his depression. He doesn’t even feel the Lord’s presence. In fact, according to the psalmist, it is the Lord himself who has been active in his suffering. At the end of the day, this man is left with nothing but darkness. And there is no prospect for seeing the light again.

I’ve never suffered from deep and dark depression. So, it is easy for me to carelessly and insensitively scoff at this man and his cries and confessions. There is great danger in interpreting the Bible through your current emotional state. But it is impossible to not filter the Bible through your current emotional state. That’s why when I approach Psalm 88, I’m a little impatient with the extended lament. However, if I were experiencing a season of seemingly endless suffering, my encounter of Psalm 88 would be much different. I can imagine that many people in the trenches of piercing affliction can perfectly identify with the poetic groaning of the psalmist in Psalm 88. We must be careful not to allow our emotions to determine our hermeneutic. But we must be sensitive to our emotions and allow the objective meaning of biblical texts to speak into our lives.

Whether you can identify with Psalm 88 or not, it seems problematic that a true believer could write such strong words that implicate the Lord. How do we deal with Psalm 88 and the lack of hopeful crescendo? What do we do when we are left in the pit to weep in the darkness of our depression? Here are three basic observations about Psalm 88 that help us see the godly nature of such a dark song.

1. It is helpful to see the vivid experiences of God’s people

This is one of the reasons I love biographies. Seeing how Christians throughout history have dealt with various issues and experiences is instructive and comforting for us as we journey through different seasons of life. Seeing a deeply afflicted brother pour out his heart gives language to our own afflictions and let’s us know we are not alone. In the words of William Plumer, “If we knew more of the religious experience of God’s people, we should be less apt to think our trials peculiar.”

2. Our suffering, though painful for us, may be healing for others

Much like Job and other psalmists, the pain they experienced was real and they may have never received an answer for their suffering. But millions of people have been comforted by their experiences. Plumer comments, “Some suffering on earth is designed to instruct and comfort others. That which to us is a dirge may be to others a song. How deeply afflicted Heman was, yet how consolatory is this Psalm to God’s people of successive generations.” So, if you’re feeling dirge-y, someone someday will be singing over the ashes of your suffering. Encouraging, right? Seriously, your suffering is not meaningless. It may blossom into a song of hope for others. There is beauty in your affliction.

3. Christians are not immune from suffering and are never hopeless in suffering

It’s an obvious point, but it is helpful to remember that being in Christ does not grant us immunity from suffering. Much like Job’s friends, we want to connect all of our suffering to sin in our lives. While some suffering definitely flows from the consequences of personal sin, the biblical witness is clear that not all suffering is the result of sin. Again, Plumer is helpful:

It is no new thing for good men to have many and great troubles. When floods of ungodly men, waves of sorrow and terrors roll in upon us, let us remember God has carried others through as sore trials. It is sad indeed when we have no respite from grief, when the clouds never break away, when refuge seems to fail. But no trials can come that will justify us in failing to make God the depository of our sad tale.

The one small gleam of light shining from Psalm 88 is less about the disposition of the psalmist’s cries and more about the direction. When you suffer, do you cry out to God or complain to your family and friends? Heman the Ezrahite, through searing pain, lays his soul bare in a desperate cry to God. Psalm 88 is drenched in humility and God-centered dependence. Even though he feels that God is infinitely distant, he still cries out to him for refuge. In the hopeless night of your deepest suffering, where do you turn?

The only one who can and will sustain you in the darkness is the Christ who is light bursting into the darkness of a sin-ridden world. And the Christ who sustains is the Christ who suffered. While I can hardly identify with the psalmist of Psalm 88 in this season of life, Christ can fully identify with Heman. If you read Psalm 88 with tears of identification, know that Christ looks into your situation and says, “I’ve been there.” The light hiding in the darkness of Psalm 88 is the beauty of affliction in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything said of Heman in Psalm 88 could be said of Christ on the cross. The floods of God’s wrath was released on Christ and they did not cease. But through his suffering we find salvation.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/03

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A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

The God I Don’t Understand: Reflections on Tough Questions of Faith | Christopher Wright | $3.99

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Reasons for Faith (Foreword by Lee Strobel): Making a Case for the Christian Faith | Norman Geisler | $4.99

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Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics | Jeremy Schaap | $2.99

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ARTICLES

Donald Trump’s Character Counts | Michael Brendan Dougherty

But Grudem’s case for trusting Trump is not very persuasive. He simply asserts that the “most likely” outcome is that Trump would not renege on all his campaign promises, so voters have to assume he will follow through on them. There are serious problems with this argument.

Southern Seminary’s Skeleton in the Closet | Ashlie Stevens

Interesting look at an 1896 article about a crazy story about a mummy and Southern Seminary.

Why We Should Be Grateful for Flourishing Evangelical Seminaries | Joe Carter

Aside from the local church, there is arguably no more important religious institution than the schools that train ministers of the gospel. As history has shown, when they begin to drift into theological liberalism it has a profound and negative affect on the character of our nation and the vitality of our churches. We should be especially grateful that during a time when our country’s other institutions—from local colleges to the federal government—are becoming weaker and less trustworthy, our seminaries remain strong and committed to God’s Word.

America’s Lost Boys | Samuel James

At a time when our culture desperately needs bold and compassionate models of Christian masculinity, the prospect that an entire generation’s potential should be wasted on an addiction to stimulation is deeply sad. Sin is always double-edged like that—it’s a matter not only of doing what one ought not do, but also of neglecting to do what one ought. What might these millions of young men be doing, if they were not doing this?

Elevation Church Debuts Water Slide Baptismal | The Babylon Bee

Excellent satire is a sad commentary on society. Sad, but funny.

On Satire, with Karen Swallow Prior | Mere Orthodoxy

Speaking of satire, here is an excellent podcast the Mere Fidelity boys did with Karen Swallow Prior. Great stuff.

Six Practical Reasons ‘Free Will’ Matters | John Piper

In this article, I simply want to draw out some of the practical implications of believing that the human will is in bondage to preferring other things above God. We are freed from this bondage only when God’s sovereign grace opens the eyes of our hearts in such a way that we find Jesus Christ to be the most beautiful and desirable reality in the world. This is what happens when we are born again.

The Lord’s Supper is a Rehearsal Dinner | Derek Rishmawy

Jesus’ miracle at the wedding at Cana—turning water into the finest wine—was a sign of the coming of his kingdom, the glory of the wedding feast to come. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is like a wedding rehearsal we practice until our Lord returns.

VIDEOS

 

How Can a Righteous God ‘Put Away’ David’s Sin?

pexels-photo1I had a friend in high school who always parked in the teacher’s parking lot. Now, this was a big deal not only because he wasn’t a teacher, but also because the teacher’s parking lot was much closer to the school than the student parking lot. While we were all walking from the back student parking lot, he was just taking a few short steps into the school. After about three months of this, someone finally was brave enough to tell the principal. One day, he was called into the principal’s office and we all knew he would lose his parking permit and his parents would probably have to drop him off each morning. But to our surprise, when he left the principal’s office he was just given a warning. No punishment. No consequences. He totally got away with it!

That’s what it feels like happened to David. Even though there were consequences for his sin, the Lord seems to just pass over his sin. It really is a radical statement when we read, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” If the man in Nathan’s story deserved to die for stealing a poor man’s lamb, then surely David deserved to die for committing adultery, having a man killed, and then lying about it. The Lord himself rightly accuses David of despising the word of the Lord and scorning God. These are sins against God that deserve death. But David does not get what he deserves. He deserves death, but he receives divine mercy. This just doesn’t seem fair!

How is it right for God to just put away or pass over David’s sin like this? How can he just put away David’s sin? How does an adulterous, lying, murderer get set free? John Piper points to Romans 3:25-26 and comments, “The outrage we feel when God seems to simply pass over David’s sin would be good outrage if God were simply sweeping David’s sin under the rug. He is not.”

The only way for God to pass over David’s sin and to pass over your sin is for David’s sin and your sin to be covered by the blood of Christ. God was able to show mercy to David because there was coming a day when Jesus Christ would live without sin and die for sinners. Jesus would one day die in David’s place. In a mysterious way, David’s confession of his sin and trust in God’s mercy and work of redemption connected him to Jesus, so that David’s sin and Christ’s righteousness are exchanged for one another. Christ became sin for David. David was counted righteous by Christ.

Is it fair that David’s sins were put away? Only if they would be put on another. David did not bear the full penalty of his sin. Jesus did. And because he did, God is now the just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). God remains a good judge even when he shows mercy to sinners like us.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 08/01

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A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists | Albert Mohler | $3.99

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What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done | Matt Perman | $3.99

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ARTICLES

A Good Man Justifies a Wicked Deed: Grudem on Trump | John Mark Reynolds

We are not an age that likes absolutes. We temper, we hedge, we do not want to say a good man is doing a bad thing because we do not like conflict. I am thankful that a good man, Professor Grudem, has made his views known: he asserts a good man can vote for Donald Trump and, in fact, probably should. Sadly, his arguments are bad, his advice worse, and the outcome will be disaster.

Can You Vote for Donald Trump with a Clear Conscience? | Andy Naselli

If Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for President of the United States, can you vote for him with a clear conscience? This election cycle may force conservatives—especially religious, social conservatives—to answer that question.

The Excommunicated Member Who Thanked Me | Bob Thune

Six years ago, our elders put Jack under church discipline. Last week, he thanked me for it.

Albert Mohler and Russell Moore Explain Why They Can’t Support Trump | Caffeinated Thoughts

Albert MohlerThe first time I met Bill Clinton was hours after I had been on the O’Reilly Factor calling on him to resign, and that was a quintessential awkward moment, but I was right in terms of the issues. But I could not possibly be consistent and somehow vote for someone whose character I believe eclipses Bill Clinton on so many of those very same concerns. Someone who has bragged about his adulterous affairs, someone who has given himself to the pornographic industry, basically to a form of the sex trade, and let’s just go on. In other words, I can’t being single-issue dispositive does not give an adequate political grid for when you go out. Because character is pretty much and also how prolife someone supposedly is after being so pro-abortion that they actually supported partial birth abortion.

The Story of Iran’s Church in Two Sentences | TGC

Everyone loves a good story. As Christians, we especially love stories that tell us how, when all seems lost, God makes a way. One such story is about the church in Iran—and it’s one of the greatest stories in the world today. It’s a simple story that can be summarized in just two sentences: Persecution threatened to wipe out Iran’s tiny church. Instead, the church in Iran has become the fastest growing in the world, and it is influencing the region for Christ.

3 Types of Legalism | R.C. Sproul

Have you, as a Christian, ever been accused of legalism? That word is often bandied about in the Christian subculture incorrectly. For example, some people might call John a legalist because they view him as narrow-minded. But the term legalism does not refer to narrow-mindedness. In reality, legalism manifests itself in many subtle ways.

VIDEOS

 

Morning Mashup 07/29

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A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Same-Sex Marriage (Thoughtful Response): A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage | Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet | $1.99

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Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint | Ben Reed | $4.97

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ARTICLES

Why Some Preachers Get Better and Others Don’t | SBTS

Hershael York: On the first day of the semester, or the first time I hear a student preach, I have no way of knowing if he has what it takes or is willing to do what he must to be the preacher he needs to be, but I can usually tell by the second sermon if he does, because that is when he has to act on what I told him after his first sermon. What makes the difference?

The Attractional Church’s Growing Irrelevance | TGC

Jared WilsonI find it incredibly interesting, sort of amusing, and more than a bit sad that the attractional church—what we used to call the “seeker church”—hasn’t seemed to grow up at all. Yes, it’s grown big. But growing big and growing up aren’t the same thing.

9 Reasons Established Churches Should Plant Churches | B&H Academic

Ed StetzerWe would challenge established church pastors to mother a church plant. You’ll see that people will be won to Jesus in the churches you plant and in your church. Some that may be less receptive to your church will be receptive to your plant. That’s why we want to plant churches that plant churches that plant churches.

Hillary Clinton Rehearsing Convention Speech in Dozens of Different Dialects | The Babylon Bee

Hilarious!

7 Ways to Help Children Deal With Tragedies | Facts & Trends

Bill EmeottWhile you may be all too aware of the recent tragedies, most younger kids probably aren’t even aware—thank God. To some extent, ignorance may be the best plan. They’ll hear things and you should be ready to have meaningful conversations, but I would advise church leaders and parents to be careful about the media exposure and adult conversations you allow your kids to be exposed to over the next few days. Below are some ideas that might help parents and ministry leaders as they deal with the children in their lives during this crisis.

Being Real About Being Real | Desiring God

Jon BloomMillennials, in no way do I wish your desire for authenticity to diminish. I want it to increase, and mine with yours. It is spiritually healthy, and as a generational value could be a harbinger of a new outpouring of the Spirit. I only long for you to avoid sacrificing love on the altar of your ideals, a mistake we, your predecessors, have made.

Should Pastors Host a Q&A After the Worship Service? Tim Keller Responds to Mark Jones | Gospel Relevance

Tim Keller drops a 1,400 word response to Mark Jones’ criticism in the comment section of his article on hosting a Q&A after a worship service. Incredibly helpful!

VIDEOS

When Culture Gets Confused With Christianity | Jamie Dew

 

Bad Lip Reading of Ted Cruz

Morning Mashup 07/27

1451631120721

A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons That Connect with Our Culture | Zack Eswine | $2.99

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Sex and the Supremacy of Christ | John Piper | $3.99

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ARTICLES

The Theology of Donald Trump | NY Times

After Mr. Trump met with hundreds of evangelical Christians a couple of weeks ago, James Dobson, who is among the most influentialleaders in the evangelical world and serves on Mr. Trump’s evangelical executive advisory board, declared that “Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit,” by which Dr. Dobson meant the Holy Spirit.

Of all the descriptions of Mr. Trump we’ve heard this election season, this may be the most farcical. As described by St. Paul, the “fruit of the Spirit” includes forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, hardly qualities one associates with Mr. Trump. It shows you the lengths Mr. Trump’s supporters will go to in order to rationalize their enthusiastic support of him.

A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Free Will’ | Desiring God

My plea is that you focus on the actual teaching of the Scriptures. Try not to bring philosophical presuppositions to the text (presuppositions like: human accountability cannot coexist with God’s decisively working “all things according to the counsel of his will,” Ephesians 1:11). Let the Bible speak fully and deeply. Trust that someday we will no longer see in a mirror dimly, but face to face

Pray for the Police | Reformed African American Network

A question that Christians should be asking themselves during these troubling times is what does God’s word say is an appropriate posture toward the police or toward any institution or person who rules in authority over us? There are many different answers to this question. And, I would argue, that the answer that Christians apply from the many answers the Bible presents to us could vary based on the context and the social setting in which we find ourselves at a particular time in history. However, I think prayer is an answer that would always be applicable in any context.

Should I Correct a Foolish Person or Stay Silent? | One Degree to Another

We have all been there. Someone says something so outlandish and wrong that it must be answered. As you get ready to speak you realize they may not respond well to what you have to say. You think you have to speak up though, because this error must be answered. You feel the confusion and rage welling up within you. Any person who looked at you would know you are in the process of deciding whether you should continue to bite your tongue or not. What do you do? Do you speak or do you keep your mouth closed? And how do you decide which one is appropriate in this situation?

To Sow or to Reap: Four Theses on Social Conservatism | Mere Orthodoxy

This series was first published four years ago by Matthew Lee Anderson in the months leading up to the 2012 election. I had tentative plans to do a similar series this year, particularly after Michelle Obama’s opening-night speech at the DNC highlighted the enormous gap between the Democrats’ ability to give a positive vision of American and the GOP’s ability to do the same. But as I reviewed these posts by Matt, I decided that what he is saying here still basically applies. Indeed, if anything these posts should be read even more closely today in the aftermath of the Trump nomination. So over the next four days, we’ll be republishing Matt’s series of four theses on social conservatism. 

The Place for Children in Corporate Worship | Reformed Margins

What I intend to point out is that including children in corporate worship is immensely beneficial not only for the children, but also for the parents and for the church. In fact, unlike the common belief, this practice enhances the worship experience of the whole congregation.

Before You Post… | Reformation 21

Criticism is usually given much more freely on the internet than in person. It is one of the chief reasons why the internet seems to generate more heat than light. It is so easy to hit that “post” button when you don’t have to face that person’s reaction. In some ways, the internet can reveal our hearts better than personal interactions. This is why it is very important that we meditate on how to give and receive criticism. Proverbs tells us that the way we receive criticism marks us either as foolish or wise people.

VIDEOS

Shame the Strong or Influence the Influencers | TGC

 

How Political Should a Pastor Get With His Flock? | For the Church

Morning Mashup 07/26

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A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


KINDLE DEALS

The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 1: Family Letters, 1905-1931 | $1.99

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Life Together (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works) | $3.99

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ARTICLES

Are We Distracting Ourselves to Death? | Karen Swallow Prior

When a reality that exists only inside our head—or our handheld devices—collides with the material, tangible world, we are entering the hyperreal.

Are Christian Colleges Better at Intellectual Diversity? | Thomas Kidd

No educational institution can be purely unbiased, or offer absolute ideological balance in their classes. And like many secular institutions, many Christian colleges need to attend to issues like ethnic diversity on their faculty. But I wonder: in an age where elites say they value diversity more than anything, are Christian schools often the most diverse at the level of ideas?

I Can No Longer Stay Silent | Michael Jordan

As a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers. I grieve with the families who have lost loved ones, as I know their pain all too well.

Putin’s Party? | Bill Kristol

Donald J. Trump is the presidential nominee of the Republican party. But that does not absolve every Republican office holder, donor, and activist from the responsibility of satisfying himself that it is right to support that nominee for president. There are, in my judgment, many reasons to doubt this is the case. But one reason in particular hasn’t received sufficient consideration: The fact that Trump and his top campaign aide have many troubling connections with Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Dems Need to Reverse Moral Misstep on Abortion | Russell Moore

As taxpayers, our money goes toward all kinds of things we do not personally support. It is part of living in a pluralistic society. Even so, for 40 years, our government and our people have decided to respect abortion as a unique moral issue. The Democrats should reverse course and remove opposition to Hyde from their platform. Wherever you stand on abortion, forcing people to pay for it can’t be good for Democrats, or for democracy.

In Sickness and Health | Andrew Walker

A beautiful testament to true covenant love in marriage.

VIDEOS

Classic Don Carson

 

Michelle Obama’s Speech at DNC 2016

I disagree with many Democratic policies, but this speech reflects the kind of decency we all should want in American politics

The Shock of Sin and Grace in the Life of a Leader

pexels-photo-26691It’s always difficult to see someone you really respect fall deep into sin. Even the slightest accusation of moral failure in someone you respect changes the way you look at them forever. When we see crucial authority figures in our lives fall into sin, we struggle to trust not only that person, but that position in the future. If you catch one of your parents having an affair, you will struggle to ever trust them again. And you will also have a negative view of marriage, which likely means it will affect your own marriage if unchecked. If you hear about your pastor, teacher, or coach indulging in sin, your trust in them and their position will be shaken. It is so hard to think about people you respect sinning so deeply. It’s one thing to know we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but it’s quite another to see sin creep out of the hearts of those we most respect.

I think about popular pastors who have recently been relieved of pastoral duties due to moral or leadership failures. There was a literal shockwave that ran through my social media feeds when Darrin Patrick and Perry Noble were outed for deep, latent sin in their lives and ministries. In our celebrity pastor culture, it is easy to forget that even the most charismatic leader is not immune to sin. I have lamented the number of times I’ve seen “This doesn’t surprise me” or, “I told you so” in response to the meteoric fall of evangelical leaders like Driscoll, Tchividjian, Patrick, Noble, and others. There is no place in the church for this kind of proud posturing. The shock of sin has drastic immediate and long-term effects on a church when one of her leaders falls.

I believe the life of David is a testament to the shock of sin and grace in the life of a leader. There are many lessons to be learned from David’s fall into sin, but two that help us when leaders in our lives sin revolve around the shock and awe of sin and grace.

David was a man after God’s heart and handpicked by the Lord to lead Israel as king. God even promised that David’s kingly line would culminate in a kingdom that would never end. One day, a Davidic King would sit on his throne and never give it up. David was righteous and desired to obey the Lord. But, David surprised his own people and even us by falling into a deep spiral of sin. He fell for a woman who was not his wife, and was in fact someone else’s wife! Then, in an attempt to cover his sin, David had the woman’s (Bathsheba) husband (Uriah) killed. David gave in to temptation and brought everyone around him down with him. Failing to kill his sin led him to continue in his sin. Instead of confessing his sin and trusting God to cover it with his grace, David tried to cover his sin by killing another man.

Despite David’s shocking downward spiral into dark sin, God’s shows him tremendous mercy. When David was confronted with his sin by Nathan the prophet, he confessed his sin to God and received his compassion. David shares what this experience was like in Psalm 51. There are a couple things that do surprise us about David’s sin and God’s grace that really shouldn’t.

First, we are surprised that a man like David can sin the way he did. While we should expect to grow in Christlikeness throughout our Christian life, sin remains in our hearts until we die or Christ returns. Anyone is capable of dreadful sinful actions, because the dreaded enemy of sin has invaded the heart of every person. So, don’t be surprised when you or people you respect sin. Sin should always be unwanted, but it should never been unexpected.

It is a sign of either a healthy or deceived church when the people are shocked when a pastor falls into sin. It is healthy, in one sense, to be shocked at deep sin in the life of a pastor. Christians are on a path of righteousness. They are being conformed into the image of Christ. Day by day, sin is being rooted out of their hearts. However, sanctification isn’t an overnight process. It is a lifelong process. There are many battles–some won, others lost. But, we fight knowing the war has been won by Christ on the cross as he defeated the dominions of darkness and death. While we should expect sin to still be in the heart and life of ourselves and our leaders, our hearts should be broken and in one sense shocked by unrepentant sin in the life of leaders.

Second, we are surprised that God would show David such compassion in the midst of his deep and dark sin. But, we know the character of God. He is slow to anger and abounds in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6). We should never be surprised at God’s grace, but we should always be amazed by it. Learn from David’s sin and God’s grace that covering your own sin with more sin will never satisfy. However, trusting God’s grace in the cross of Christ to cover your sin will always satisfy.

As deep as sin goes in the human heart, the grace of God in the gospel goes even deeper. Mark Driscoll, Tullian Tchividjian, Darrin Patrick, Perry Noble, and any other Christian leader who has fallen into deep sin has not exhausted the riches of God’s grace in Christ. The tank of God’s benevolence toward them isn’t on empty. It is as full as it has always been. And assuming these men are in Christ, there is a fountain of mercy and forgiveness for the mountain of sin they have allowed to grow.

The fall of leaders in our lives is devastating. It is detrimental to the influence of a local church and the Church as a whole. No one is helped when a pastor bullies his way to power, commits an affair, or launders money from the church fund. We should guard our hearts from the treacherous lure of sin, knowing that none of us are beyond a Davidic descent into a pit of sin. But we should always marvel at the grace of God, which he bestows on unworthy and fallen sinners like us. As devastating as the fall of broken leaders is, the restoration of repentant leaders by God’s grace is an incomparably sweet reality. Whenever you see a leader in your life fail morally and fall into sin, don’t point your fingers and shake your head in arrogant self-aggrandizement. Instead, bow your head in humble prayer that God would restore these men to himself and their people.

God pursues us in his grace like a relentless mother searching for her lost son at the mall. He will not rest until his children are found! And for those of us in Christ, he will bring to completion the work he began in us (Phil. 1:6).


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is a M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.