In 1994 a man named Baruch Goldstein killed 29 Palestinians, and wounded over a hundred more. He believed he was waging a holy war and that his enemies deserved killing. People of faith tend to think and act to the extremes. As Christians, we need to think and act by the power of The Gospel. In America today, it sure feels like a lot of Christians are thinking from the same mindset that motivated Mr. Goldstein. It is alarming.
There is a lot of talk and even panic over the possibility of Syrian refugees coming into our country. I don’t want to get into a political debate over whether they should or shouldn’t. But, as Christians, we need to be constantly asking the question of how we may reach people with the Gospel. The Government we have allows for voting, interaction with Representatives, and activism. We should exercise those opportunities we have been given. So vote, and correspond with the offices of your representatives and senators, and trust in the sovereignty of the same God who left Nero on the throne long enough to kill thousands of Jesus’ followers. But we should absolutely be strategizing how we may utilize every means to reach the nations with the Gospel. When the nations come to our shores, we can bellyache about how they are going to kill us, or we can meet them with the Gospel.
The Gospel is bigger than guns and bombs. Jesus is greater than Allah. IF you are an evangelical Christian, you should already believe this.
**Blog originally posted on Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters.
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…”-Rudyard Kipling
Ole Rudy was on to something.
If you have never done a self-evaluation to determine whether you are a “glass half empty” or a “glass half full” kind of person, you should do it. You may need to get really vulnerable and transparent and ask the people around you, closest to you—those you trust. The fact is, pessimism is a fairly cultural norm in our generation. We tend to think the worst in any given situation, and we tend to expect the worst outcome. We impose this onto people, expecting others to disappoint us, and we rarely give others the benefit of the doubt. We sort of expect the worst out of people and almost wait for failure to ensue.
But in a world where enough bad stuff happens, a Gospel Man will look for opportunities for Christ to shine in the worst situations. I want to be the kind of man who cannot, and will not, be discouraged.
When the economy tanks, Jesus is still on the Throne, and opportunities abound. When terrorists attack and politicians disappoint, The Gospel will still thrive. We serve a God who DOES. He is at work, and things are happening everywhere for His Glory. We need to view life through THAT lens.
And we need to remember Jesus’ words in Mark 10, “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”
But we’ll get into that in part 2…
Over the past week, a lot of people have given thoughts and opinions concerning the terrorist attack in Paris. I have read encouraging words from pastors and Christian bloggers who point us to Christ and the hope of the Gospel, but others have pointed a finger at the very Lord they reject. In situations like this, the questions of God, good and evil are always brought up. It seems that people will inevitably question the power, goodness or even the existence of God. We know from scripture, though, that evil is always present, and people will grow more and more evil (Matthew 24:12). People are evil, but Jesus is still sovereign, and literally “in Him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
The Psalmist asks the question, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?”(Psalm 2:1). The hope we are given is that God is not defeated when evil seems to prevail and people plot against Him and the work of The Gospel. I am hopeful, and even in the midst of pain and suffering, I am confident that Christ is still in power and there will be a day when no more evil and suffering exist. I am thankful for this truth, and in moments like these, I look forward to that day.
I recently was asked this question in an e-mail, and I wanted to share my response. If most of us are honest with ourselves, we’d admit that at some point or another we’ve also struggled with doubt. Maybe this response would even open up discussions in the comments below. I’d love to hear from ya’ll. I’d also like to start answering more of ya’lls questions on here, so e-mail or comment below with some of them.
Doubt is never far from faith’s shoulder.”-St. Augustine
I don’t know if you remember that quote or not, or if I even shared it with you before, but it is often an encouragement to me. I hope it will be to you. For a true believer, I am convinced that doubt—NOT FALSE ASSURANCE—is the more prevalent struggle. If I am in Christ, then the tactic of the enemy will be to convince me that I am not in Christ or to rob me of my joy.
If I am not in Christ, then a sense of false assurance will be more prevalent. An unregenerate person doesn’t deal with doubt, because there is nothing to doubt. Doubt attacks belief, not unbelief.
Additionally, I read Anne Voskamp’s book 1000 Gifts, and she makes a good point in there about a person’s thoughts and emotions. She says that it is impossible to be overwhelmed by more than one emotion at a time. The only way to defeat and drive out a negative emotion is to replace it with a more powerful positive emotion. She makes a solid biblical inference to the emotion of thanksgiving. That one thing will conquer fear and doubt every time. What are you thankful for? You have to ask yourself that question and answer it as an offensive weapon.
Lastly, Matthew 12 is a reference by Jesus to the Pharisees who have just attributed evil works to The Holy Spirit. That, he says, is unforgivable. A believer doesn’t do this. In fact, I like this explanation, by Rick Cornish in a book called “Five Minute Theologian”—
“Concern about committing it reveals the opposite attitude of what the sin is. Those who might be guilty wouldn’t care because they have no distress or remorse over the possibility.”
Hope this helps. I will be praying for you. Continue to fight for truth and rest in CHRIST alone. He is the one who saved us, not we ourselves.
It’s pretty crazy to look at the history of Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters and the way the Lord has exponentially grown this place. Beginning in 1997, we’ve come a long way—and Nancy McDaniel played a huge role in those formative years.
Nancy began her involvement at SWO on the Board of Directors in the early 2000s, helping to establish the DNA of this ministry. Originally from South Florida, Nancy became one of the first board members to have a hand in the pulse of this ministry. She not only understood the vision and goal of SWO, but she also understood the inner workings delicate nature of the administration side of camp. So much of her ability to understand SWO was due to the fact that she really became one of the first board members to really be involved with everyday life here. Understanding the importance of both ministry and administration in the business world is pretty difficult for most people, but not so for Nancy McDaniel.
Because she had such a heavy involvement with everyday life here at camp, she was able to spear-head the Coop project when we grew too big for our chapel. She wrote grants, talked to donors, and oversaw the project.
Tim Litchfield, our reservations coordinator, remembers Nancy as feisty. He recounted a story in which he and another girl on staff at the time, Amy, were writing a proposal for faster internet in the office. They handed the proposal to Nancy, who confronted them about a week later to discuss it. In Tim’s words, “Nancy let us have it for about 20 minutes letting us know exactly why our proposal wasn’t to be taken seriously.”
Apparently their proposal didn’t measure up to the professional standards of Nancy, so she informed them of all the things they needed to work on before writing another one. She ended the conversation by informing them that despite their best efforts, their plan to get faster internet had been approved.
A week and a half ago, Nancy McDaniel passed away, and Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters grieves her absence. Francis Chan said, “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Nancy’s life reflected this quote. She served on the Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters board of directors for a little over 12 years. Although for the past 6 years, her health prevented her from being as involved as she once was, she still remained a part of our Board of Directors, and stayed as connected as was allowed.
Once you’re a part of the SWO staff, you’re family, permanently. We feel her loss here, but we rejoice in the fact that she invested her life in things that were of eternal value.
Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters and I are incredibly grateful for your love, support, and investment, Nancy.
We will miss you.
I love to play with fire. I always have. One year, about this time, I was messing around with a fire out in our fire pit, when a piece of hot ash flew into my eye and burned my cornea. It was so small that you could not even see the wound, but it burned and hurt like crazy. For the next three or four days, I was in constant, nagging pain. It drove me crazy! If I blinked, it hurt. If I held my eye open, it hurt. I couldn’t sleep. I was too tired to be awake. But that little eye “booboo” would not give me a break. It literally affected my whole person, both physically and emotionally.
I am grieved to hear of the persecution in Pakistan of my brothers and sisters. They are part of the same body as me — the body of Christ. We… WE are persecuted. Not “THEY” are persecuted. WE are persecuted.
If we are the body of Christ, then we should literally feel the pain of persecution when we read the headlines that 85 brothers and sisters have been killed for the name of Christ. We should grieve for their families left behind. We should grieve for our LORD. He told us this would happen.
But I fear that American Christians, so often, in perfectly peaceful cities, towns, neighborhoods and churches would much rather remain comfortable and unpersecuted than to feel the pain in another part of our body. The body doesn’t work like that. We can’t turn a blind, painless eye. We SHOULD lose sleep over this. We SHOULD hurt with them. We should, at times, be ashamed of ourselves for failing to lift them up to the Father in prayer. We SHOULD feel this, if we are part of the body.
There is hot ash in our eyeball. Surely we should feel it.
WE are persecuted.
Seems like there are a lot of professing Christians who have now moved to a position of support, regarding same-sex marriage. We expect it out of Hollywood and pop-culture in general. We shouldn’t be surprised that politicians are following the cultural tide. But we should be appalled that those who profess the name of Christ would stand on those things that reject the Word of God as our authority. It is scary to see and hear the number of young Christians who are allowing the culture, rather than the scripture, to shape their beliefs, opinions, and overall worldview. People often misuse and misinterpret a verse or passage of scripture to support an opposing view, but the Word of God is clear on this. There is a constant, overarching theme in scripture when it comes to marriage and what God intends it to be. I want to point out three things that God intends marriage to produce, and provide, for this world. So-called same-sex marriage fails at all three points.
Marriage is for Making Babies
The first one is simple and obvious. Even though we live in a society in which 30 million children live without both parents at home, we know that God intends for Godly marriages to produce Godly legacies. This requires that the most intimate physical act between two people be expressed and enjoyed in such a way that God is glorified. One of the earliest mandates God gave humanity was to reproduce it’s own kind. In Genesis 1:28, God tells man to “be fruitful and multiply.” God then brings the first man the first bride and performs the first marriage. It is a biblical marriage, and it involves a man and a woman. It takes a man and a woman to make a baby. Two men cannot do it. Two women cannot do it. God designed it that way. He reiterates this mandate to Noah when the earth is in need of repopulation following the flood.
Marriage is for Making Us Holy (sanctification)
Within the context of a marriage, we are called to serve one another in the progressive work of the Holy Spirit in making us more like Christ. This requires a relationship between two people that is, what we will call, “complementarian.” To make it simple, a husband and wife are to serve one another in such a way that they are growing in Christ. My highest priority in marriage is the spiritual growth and discipleship of my wife, Little. Through this, our kids will grow in their own faith. We are in an amazing position to reflect the Trinitarian love of God.
If marriage is the most intimate of relationships, then even our sexuality is to serve holiness. By God’s grace, he even made sex and sexuality to be very gratifying and pleasurable, but not without design. The goal of it all is to bring holiness, and that requires complimentarianism. Paul says in Ephesians 5:26 that I am laboring for my wife’s sanctification. This is the high calling of being a man, a husband, in marriage.
Marriage Shows us the Relationship of Christ and His Bride, the Church
The church is not the same as Christ, the head of the church. Paul tells the Ephesians that Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This is a self-sacrificial love. Even within the biblical idea of submission, we have the church submitting to Christ and Christ submitting to the father. The Son is, no doubt, equal to the Father, and that is the picture wives are given of submission. The Son, however, shows us how to serve our wives, by laying down his own life, and even his own position, to be murdered for his bride and for her salvation.
Same-sex marriage cannot duplicate any of this. Marriage, then, is a biblical mandate. Anything seen by God as a mandate is not negotiable. The Corinthian church gives us clear examples of what happens when a church is shaped by the culture. God does not negotiate or compromise when it comes to his character and our holiness. Marriage is so woven into the story of redemption that it is impossible to sever the two. On a more sobering note, perhaps the reason so many “church kids” are climbing on board the same-sex marriage bandwagon, is because they have never seen a heterosexual marriage cover these three biblical realities. We should be convicted and convinced of the high call of marriage, and we should labor to that end in our own marriages, and pray toward that end in our singleness.
The church is still the bride of Christ, and nothing can legislate away that reality.