Even a spiritual luminary and scholar like J.I. Packer wrote that “we are all…poor strugglers in our experience of praying.” So if you’re new to prayer, or have crashed and burned many times over in your attempts at meaningful prayer, be of good cheer. You certainly are not alone. And just in case you think that because I am writing an upbeat book on prayer that I don’t struggle, that would not be true. I struggle along with the rest. It just comes with the territory. The occasional struggle, though, is well worth it.
What does the Bible say [about predatory friends]?
Someone who joyfully pursues Christ has good, discernible fruit. Someone who consistently harms people, although they use all the correct Christian language and attend church like the rest of us, does not produce good fruit. Maybe it’s time we stop giving people who say all the right words a hall pass for predatory behavior. Instead, let’s be cautious when we meet someone with big words accompanied by bad actions.
I used to look away. I used to see the pain and avert my gaze. But not anymore. Now when I see a difficult image of a child impacted by terror, I take it in. I allow myself to feel the emotions. I often cry, or sit in breathless sadness, or grit my teeth in anger. When I allow myself to do that, it does a work in me that is hard to explain.
While both sides have their narrow-minded, acrimonious crusaders, this debate is usually between people with good hearts. Faithful followers of Jesus who hold progressive views on same-sex matters are motivated by compassion and an admirable desire for fairness (often referred to as “justice”). They are compelled by a passion for equal and nondiscriminatory treatment of everyone. I know stories of people whose watershed moments came while facing the awful reality of racial discrimination and who want to be sure we do not make the sinful mistake of discriminating against same-sex attracted people.
Whatever the earthly future holds for the church and human culture, evangelicalism and modernity will be carried into it. Whatever postmodernity and post-evangelicalism are, they are because of modernity. And despite shifts in style, the substance of both evangelicalism and modernity are very much with us still.
Inasmuch as Christianity aligns with the nature of the created order and the supernatural revelation of God to his people, then the promotion of that good news to all people (that is, evangelism) and the application of those truths (activism) advances the flourishing of God’s creation even amid its fallenness.
I watch Netflix while I wash dishes. I follow NBA scores while I grade. I panic for a moment when I begin to go upstairs to get something. I turn around and find my phone to keep me company during the two-minute trip. When it’s late enough, I collapse, reading a book or playing an iOS game. I’m never alone and it’s never quiet.
The irony in this story doesn’t escape me. At the time, I was doing so much for the kingdom of God that I didn’t see the kingdom right in front of me. I was so busy trying to do God’s work, I hadn’t taken the time to see the world through God’s eyes. Ultimately it was an issue of honest worship. How could I presume to lead people to worship a God of grace and compassion if I didn’t allow his grace and compassion to flow through me?
When the Worst comes, you feel as if the storyline and purpose of your life have either been seriously disrupted or totally terminated. Before the Worst, you had dreams and aspirations. Now tragedy and pain have shattered your vision.
There are victims of sexual abuse in every community and institution in society, including churches. There are certainly victims of sexual abuse in your congregation. It is often invisible in our congregations because of the silence of the victims themselves. Powerful forces can keep it so, and the shame that victims feel can perpetuate the idea that “good” families are exempt from its reach.