What Getting Angry, Scared or Despondent Says About Us.

When something touching an idol in our lives the three most common reactions are anger, fear, and despair. When something we love more than we should is shaken we respond in anger, fear, and despair which each, in turn, drives us deeper into our idolatrous behavior.

For example, when I was growing up I was not ok in life if others didn’t approve of me and like me. It is something I struggle with to this day. Although by God grace I struggle less today because of the power of Gospel at work in me daily. When I was growing up if someone didn’t like me I felt despair. I would do everything in my power to help them see that I was fun, kind and an all-around good person. I would sacrifice time with people who actually liked me because I need to be liked by everyone. The more I was around these people the more fear and despair I felt.

Christmas hope no matter how dark the darkness

Christmas is a paradoxical holiday it is filled with such joy and at the same time reminds us of great losses. When studying the other night, I came across a message by Tim Keller that talks about how the light of Christmas dispels the shadow of death. I found it convicting and encouraging. I hope that you who feel overwhelmed this Christmas can find your hope in the light the gospel provides. We have much to be hopeful for and rejoice about. We celebrate at Christmas how Jesus came close.

“As silent as snow falling, he came in. And when no one was looking into the darkness, he came.” – Sally Lloyd-Jones

Just before Bonhoeffer was executed, he wrote this to a friend: “Death is the supreme festival on the road to freedom.”

“Death used to be an executioner, but because of the gospel, Jesus has made death just a gardener. All death can do is plant me in his love and make me come up in ways I’ve never been before.” George Herbert

What is Bonhoeffer saying? What is that? A light dawned on Bonhoeffer. In spite of the fact that there was darkness all around him, the shadow of the fear of death, because he believed Jesus Christ was from that other world, born into this world, Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the debt the human race owed to justice, so when we died believing in him we can have no fear of anything we have done somehow stymying us or drawing us down so we don’t have to be afraid of death in any way, what did that mean?

Because Bonhoeffer wasn’t afraid of death, he wasn’t afraid of anything. Because Bonhoeffer was afraid of death, he didn’t care about comfort. He didn’t care about affluence. He didn’t care about power or pleasure or sex or money. He didn’t care. That’s why his people said, “You have it made. You can be a successful professor out here away from Germany. You don’t have to go back in there.”

He didn’t want to not go back. Why not? The shadow of death did not fall on him. He lived in a dark world, but because he believed in Jesus, a light dawned. Because Jesus was born in a manger, that means this world is not all there is.

If you let the knowledge of what Jesus Christ is and has done dawn in your life like Bonhoeffer, you can walk around in any part of the world, any century, any situation without fear.

Bonhoeffer is the exact opposite of the kind of person western Civilization according to Ernest Becker is producing. He wasn’t obsessed with romance and love. He wasn’t obsessed with money. He wasn’t being driven to be successful. There was nothing frantic about him. Because he wasn’t afraid of death, he wasn’t afraid of anything. Christmas means fear no darkness. Christmas means fear not. The angels are always showing up in all the Christmas stories saying, “Fear not, Mary. Fear not, Zechariah. Fear not. Fear no darkness.”

Spurgeon said it this way.

The coming of Jesus to us, when he does really come into our hearts, takes away the darkness of ignorance, sorrow, carelessness, fear, and despair. Our night is ended once for all when we behold God visiting us in Christ Jesus. Our day may cloud over, but night will not return. O, you that are in the blackest midnight, if you can but get a view of Christ, morning will have come to you! There is no light for you elsewhere, believe us in this; but if Jesus be seen by faith, you shall need no candles of human confidence, nor sparks of feelings and impressions: the beholding of Christ shall be the ending of all night for you.

C. H. Spurgeon

“The beholding of Christ shall be the ending of all night for you!” Powerful profound truths to ponder this Christmas season. Thank you, Tim Keller. Thank you,  Charles Spurgeon. May the light of Christmas dispel the shadow of death in your life. May the hope and joy of Advent fill your heart as you seek him!

Fairy Tales and The Gospel

How every story echoes the ultimate story.

Jesus is the underling reality to which all stories point, breaking into our world. – Tim Keller

The reason Frozen was such a good story is that it had the elements good stories do. If a story is missing one of the following features, it usually loses the audience, and they don’t even know why.

Overconfidence 

“When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭30:6-12‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We often stroll through life, thinking everything will be fine, until suddenly it isn’t. Our unconscious or even verbalized thought is “I’m solid. I’m on top of things. I’ve got it nailed/ I’ve planned well. I’m secure.” Verses 6-7 show how even after a recent act of God’s deliverance we can slip back into self-confidence, this time by thinking of God’s favor as a right we earned. But God shakes our confidence in our earthly life so that we can yearn for our heavenly life, where our joy is truly unshakeable and where our wailing will be turned into dancing. 

Prayer – Lord, teach me during all the stomach-churning ups and downs of life, how to fix my heart where true joys are to be found. Amen.

[Taken from Tim Kellers Daily Devotional “The Songs of Jesus” By far the best daily devotional I have ever read. So timely so encouraging.] 


 

Ask Tim Keller Transcript via @Cambassador21

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Questions from yesterdays Ask Tim Keller courtesy of Cameron Moore follow him on twitter at @Cambassador21

Ask TK 7/28/14

Q: Favorite puritan?
TK: That’s easy, John Owens because Jonathan Edwards is not technically a Puritan.

Q: Favorite Lewis book?
TK: Another easy one: Mere Christianity.

Q: What is your opinion of “praying in tongues”?
TK: I like Don Carson’s book “Showing the Spirit” on this one. Balanced, thoughtful, and rooted in Scripture.

Q: Was there ever a point in the last several years that you questioned your role in ministry? TK: When Kathy was sick a few years ago, I questioned if I should leave ministry for a while.

Q: Do you envision a time where we will see a “consolidation” of Christian denominations? church seems too fragmented
TK: As long as The Church strives for both unity AND purity there will always be denominations.

Q: Shake Shack or In­N­Out?
TK: Easy, Shake Shack in NYC. Better quality meat.

Q: Advice for young educators? (I teach English lit to 12­17 year olds)
TK: Similar to a question last time: At that age they need Christianity modeled more than explained.­­Doesn’t have to be Christian education, just modeling your faith is important for 12­17 year olds.

Q: Favorite Doctor [Who]?
TK: David Tennant. Bonus: Favorite episode is “Blink.” Of course.

Q: Have you read Harry Potter­ if yes, did you like them… If no­ why not?
TK: Yes loved them, great examples of sacrificial love conquering evil reminds me of another story.

Q: Favorite coffee shop in NYC?
TK: None. I don’t drink coffee. I’m a Harney and sons Tea kind of guy, not to mention PG Tips.

Q: Most influential book on pastoring?
TK: Charles Bridges “The Christian Ministry” and Richard Baxter’s “The Reformed Pastor” and William Still’s book on pastoring

Q: What is your favorite movie?
TK: The Black Stallion