Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds (James 1:2). This may be the hardest thing in the Christian life. It’s simple to understand, but seems impossible to do. How do you find joy during a battle with cancer? How do you rejoice when you can’t find a job or can’t kick an addiction; when you’re mocked for your faith; when all you want are your circumstances to change?
Australian historian and philosopher John Dickson points out an almost undeniable paradox in Western culture and spirituality: You might call it a spirituality of distraction. It’s not that we don’t think about the “great things,” it’s just that we find the distraction of the “lesser things” easier to handle. Three out of four of us believe in the existence of God and the reality of the afterlife, according to the most recent research, but you’d never know it just listening to the conversations at work or in the pub, or to the public discourse in the media. We have this
I recently finished reading through the Bible for the sixteenth time. While this is a personal milestone I’m thankful for, I certainly am not boasting about it. In fact, when I consider that George Mueller, who was converted at the age of 20 and died at the age of 92, read the Bible through 100 times while simultaneously caring for over 10,000 orphans—I am a bit embarrassed and reminded I have a long way to go!
In one of the most concise, and yet comprehensive, character sketches in the Bible, the apostle John outlines the qualities of a man named Gaius. We might summarize John’s description, in his third epistle, using four of his own well-chosen words: truth, faithfulness, love, and beloved.
In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell (Genesis 4:3-5). Just one chapter after the fall, and just one generation from Adam and Eve, we already see the beginning of false religion. And we see how dangerous, self-deceptive, and disappointing it is! Acceptable Worship Notice this:
I am not what they call a math brain. Yet not long ago I stumbled upon an equation which thrills me now as much as it did when I first blinked at it with stupid awestruck eyes. It goes like this: 7 x 365 / 60 = 42.58. As I say, thrilling. Really, it is. Here’s why: Let’s say you do an activity for seven minutes every day—and keep it up every day for a year. That’s forty-two and a half hours every year!
He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments (Psalm 78:5-7).