My latest article is up on the Covenant Eyes blog: When it Feels Like You’ve Been Irreparably Damaged by Porn
Archives For Gospel
Ministry burnout; despair; discouragement. This 3-headed monster and its ugly cousins usually come visit me when I ponder how much “bad” is out there in contrast to my ability to do anything about it. The Bible commands me to do something about it, but that can’t mean I’m to live in debilitating despair, right? Because as a competitor, it certainly feels like my team is losing. These are easy topics to preach sermons on, but much more challenging to internalize at the core of our being. The following four points have been given to me recently by people who have been on this road much longer than me and I hope they help you at the soul-level the way they have helped me:
1. Pray that God will raise up the Church
I’m not in this alone. There is massive need out there. Tons of people who don’t know Jesus. And tons of people enduring incredible suffering. Jesus didn’t say to his disciples, “Go and glean the entire harvest” in Matthew 9:37-38 and Luke 10:2, he said “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (italics added). God didn’t leave the world with me as its hope to bring it the good news of the Kingdom, he left it with his Church! I’m not talking about apathetic laziness, waiting for others to do what I’m supposed to do. I’m talking about realizing which is the better hope for my low-income neighborhood to find Jesus’s Kingdom: me working 5x harder than I currently am, or me staying faithful in small ways and praying that God will either raise up 5 more Christians from within the neighborhood to help me and/or have them move in from outside. Me thinking it’s my job to reach the whole city or praying that God will raise up dozens of churches to reach the whole city. I can lose sleep over the sex trafficking industry, gang violence, drug use, global poverty and oppression as well as the many unreached countries of the world…or I can pray for them! Praying that God will bring a revival to his Church, sending out many into the local harvest fields that are ripe for picking.
2. Remember the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Church and Jesus promises the gates of hell won’t prevail against it.
I’m not in charge of the Church, the Holy Spirit is. Pressure off. Do you remember Pentecost? Prior to this event, Jesus told his disciples not to do outreach (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4) until the Holy Spirit came. The gathering of believers wasn’t enough; the Holy Spirit was and still is needed. What a relief to know that the Holy Spirit is not only guiding me, but that I’m a small part of a huge body and the Holy Spirit is guiding and empowering the entire thing.
3. Don’t let condemnation rule over you
Romans 8:1 is so clear and beautiful: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Again, easy to preach, hard to internalize. What’s helpful to remember is whenever you are feeling inadequate, you know that message of condemnation is from Satan and you can reject it. You are fully adequate based on what Jesus did for you on the cross (Colossians 1:22, et al). Satan wants us to think our adequacy comes from producing results for God, so when we see the suffering or we see those who are lost, we feel like it’s our fault or we haven’t done enough (bringing despair, burnout, discouragement).
4. Don’t create a new “Law” to be enslaved to
This is closely related to #3. Jesus went through a whole lot to free us from the power of the law (Galatians 2:21; Gal. 5:4). The law enslaves. You can never do enough under the law because you can always do better and be better than what you’ve done. When you translate this to a zeal for ministry, there is always more ministry to be done! More people to reach, more people to help. Ministry can be a very subtle slave-master. Under grace, we abide relationally in Jesus (John 15) and we stay faithful to him, one small day at a time, one small interaction at a time. The point isn’t results, it’s faithfulness and abiding. If we believe that this isn’t enough, we’ve believed the lie that Law will bring us life. Reject this and cling to grace. As you share the message of grace to the world, live in the grace that all that is needed has already been done on the cross. Reject any message that what you already have in Jesus isn’t enough!
I read The Associated Press article “Noah’s ark of biblical proportions ready to open in Kentucky” (by Dylan Lovan) in the Grand Rapids Press this morning. There is one quote from this article that makes me so sad. Sad as a word doesn’t even begin to describe the depth of emotion and righteous anger I feel to defend the gospel of Jesus, much like Paul felt in Galatians. Here is the quote, from Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, the ministry that built the ark:
“I believe this is going to be one of the greatest Christian outreaches of this era in history” -Ken Ham
When did we start evangelizing people to Christianity using Noah’s ark? Is this what Jesus had in mind in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)?
I am so serious with this.
Rather than going off in this blog post, which my inner filter is telling me not to do, I ask that readers check out a previous article I did about Noah’s Ark and how to read Genesis. It was in two parts, the 2nd part is where you’ll find the meat of my argument against the view Ken Ham is peddling:
And no, this Scripture passage is not a direct shot at Ken Ham, but it ought to give all of us plenty to pause over. Paul was not messing around, and neither should we:
Galatians 1:8-9 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!
What Does the Bible Say About God’s Love for Me?
In the gospel, you are:
Loved (John 3:16)
Qualified (Colossians 1:12)
Righteous (Romans 3:21-22)
Accepted (Romans 15:7)
Complete (Colossians 2:10 NLT)
Reconciled (Colossians 1:22)
Holy (Colossians 1:22)
Blameless (Colossians 1:22)
Without Blemish (Colossians 1:22)
Free (Galatians 5:1)
Free from Accusation (Colossians 1:22)
Forgiven (Colossians 2:13)
Valuable (Matthew 6:26)
God’s Friend (John 15:15)
God’s Wife (Ephesians 5:31-32)
God’s Child (Romans 8:14-17)
An Heir (Romans 8:17)
The gospel simply means “good news.” Jesus came to bring us good news. The bad news is that we are sinful and God is holy (perfect, righteous) and thus we are eternally separated from him. The good news is Jesus took our sin on the cross and killed it, replacing it with his perfection. This good news is what allows us to be back in relationship with a holy God. If you have received this gospel of Jesus’s, the words above are what the Bible says you are right now. I encourage you not to read through this list quickly and cognitively, but take extended time (days) to let each word sink in. Ask God, “Is this word really true about me?” and see what He says. If you find it is indeed true, you no longer have to look anywhere else for it.
I was so sad after talking with someone in our ministry who had recently put their faith in Jesus and gotten baptized. I asked this person how their Bible study was going and they told me it wasn’t…because they didn’t believe anymore. I asked them why they didn’t believe and they told me it was because they believed in evolution and they realized they couldn’t believe in both the Bible/Jesus and evolution. So they gave up their faith.
In response to this, I asked Anna Groves to write a guest post about this subject, with the aim of speaking to people in a similar boat as this person. It breaks my heart to think people are missing out on Jesus’ shed blood for their sins because they think it is incompatible with evolution. Anna is a 4th year PhD student at Michigan State University in the Plant Biology department and the Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior program. She blogs about the co-mingling of faith and science at her blog. What follows is a guest post from Anna Groves, who was gracious enough to write this for AtACrossroads.net; feel free to comment within the blog comments and Anna and/or myself will interact with you, and you can also interact directly with Anna via her blog. For those curious, these are Anna’s views, not mine. I don’t agree with 100% of what Anna says, but I do think it is 100% helpful to so many people out there, one of whom might be you: