We are natural accumulators. We get and want more, so we get more and then want even more. This is true even at the subconscious level of the human mind. It is a proven fact that when we inhabit a space, whether it is a 2,000 sq. ft home or an 8,000 sq. ft home, we will accumulate enough things to fill the space whether we need those things or not. This is why Netflix series like ‘Tyding Up’ with Marie Kondo entice us. They promise to help us break free from the enslaving cycle of accumulation. The modern ‘minimalist’ movement seeks to do the same. These solutions are temporary at best, acting as band-aids on a fatal wound. But for those who want true freedom from the harsh master of materialism, there is hope in the words of Christ.Continue reading “How to Store Up Treasures in Heaven (Matt 6:19-24)”
A Secret Spirituality that Shines: Living for God and Not for People (Matthew 6:1-18)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes the righteousness that characterizes the members of His kingdom. Is a divine righteousness that only He can work in the hearts of His people by the power of the Spirit. It is a righteousness altogether different than that of the religious leaders of the day. It is the righteousness of the redeemed heart that is evident in the words and actions of one’s life. It includes loving one’s enemies, reconciling friendships, making peace, giving generously, and going the extra mile.
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus commands His followers to let their light shine before others, so that people may see their good works and give glory to the Father in heaven. Throughout the rest of Matthew 5, He describes what these good works look like in the context of personal relationships. However, He knows the human heart. He knows that as we progress in righteous living, we will begin to desire glory and praise for ourselves. Thus He warns, in 6:1 “Take care not to practice your righteousness in the sight of people, to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”Continue reading “A Secret Spirituality that Shines: Living for God and Not for People (Matthew 6:1-18)”
Three Areas Where God Calls Us to Invest Our Time
In today’s world, distractions abound. Phones, social media platforms, sporting events, and advertisements compete for our attention. Once they have our attention, they begin to clamor for our time. Soon, we begin investing large amounts of time on these platforms, at these events, or watching these shows. Yet God has called us to invest the majority of our time in three primary areas:
- Our relationship with Him.
- Our relationship with the people in our lives (family, church, friends).
- Our life of work.
Are we spending the majority of our time investing in these three areas? If not, what distractions keep us from them? There are only twenty four hours in a day, seven days in a week. If we invest time in one place, it inevitably detracts from the time we can spend in another. Too often we become distracted and end up mindlessly investing our time in things that do not matter. Not only do they not matter, but they take time away from the things that do matter. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. That’s why Paul tells us to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-17).Continue reading “Three Areas Where God Calls Us to Invest Our Time”
Russia, Ukraine, and the Reality of Right and Wrong
Just about every morning I wake up and think about the people of Ukraine. Though I try to avoid looking at my phone for the first hour of the day, I have been waking and checking it regularly, eager to read of new developments. This morning I listened to Albert Mohler’s edition of The Briefing, which reminded me of a peculiar trend I have seen in the media. The trend is this: individuals, countries, and organizations are almost all unified in their denunciation of Russia’s wrongdoing. This collective condemnation raises the question: does this mean there is such a thing as right and wrong?
In the last few decades, post-modern thought has trained societies to reject moral absolutes (i.e. concrete, black-and-white claims of right and wrong). In fact, many assert that any claim to moral authority or to a recognition of moral truth is simply a tool of power and oppression (critical theory). Thus, what is right for you may not be right for me. What is true for you may not be true for me, and so on. A rejection of moral absolutes may be able to survive in the petri dish of theoretical frameworks, but it cannot survive in war-torn reality.Continue reading “Russia, Ukraine, and the Reality of Right and Wrong”
Four Reasons the Sermon on the Mount is Relevant Today
In January, I started studying and writing on the Sermon on the Mount. A family wide bout of Covid-19 delayed my study for a little bit. But alas, God has allowed me to return to it! This week I want to share something I read from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the Sermon. I am summarizing his comments under the title, “Four Reasons the Sermon on the Mount is Relevant Today.” Here they are:
1. Jesus died to enable us to live the Sermon on the Mount.
As I argued in my previous blog, the Sermon on the Mount is a description of the Christian life. Thus, Jesus died for us to be able to live out the principles of the Sermon. He died to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The principles contained in the Sermon are a part of these “good works.” In fact, God has planned from eternity past for us to walk in them (Eph 2:10). Because of Jesus’ death and the new life it has brought us, we can be zealous for doing the good works He expounds in the SermonContinue reading “Four Reasons the Sermon on the Mount is Relevant Today”
J. Gresham Machen, A Biographical Essay
Throughout the history of Christianity, certain theologies, ideologies, and philosophies have arisen and threatened the church’s understanding of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. One such theology is the modern liberalism that arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which the main character of this essay describes as “an attempt to solve the problem of historic Christianity’s relation to modern culture.” In an attempt to solve this “problem,” modern liberalism became rooted in naturalism and discarded the supernatural particulars of the Christian message such as the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ as mere symbols of the more general aspects of religion.
Modern liberalism taught that the essence of Christianity is to be found in its general ethical principles rather than in the event of the Son of God dying for the sins of His people. Liberalism made its way into many churches, denominations, and seminaries by the dawn of the twentieth century and was threatening to overpower historic Protestantism in its popularity and acceptance. However, church history often demonstrates that when a harmful theology arises, God raises up a voice to expose, correct, and provide clarity for the church. In the early decades of the twentieth century in the United States, that voice was J. Gresham Machen’s.Continue reading “J. Gresham Machen, A Biographical Essay”
Why Did Jesus Say “I Thirst” On the Cross? A Sermon on John 19:28-29
I had the privilege of preaching the Good Friday sermon at our home church in Raleigh this year. When I was asked to preach, I was told that I would be continuing a series of the last seven words of Jesus, and the words that I would preach would be the words “I thirst” recorded in John 19:28. At first glance, I wondered how I could preach an entire sermon on these words. But as I continued to study them, I wondered how I could preach only one sermon on these words! What I found as I studied made this my favorite sermon I’ve preached to date. I wanted to share it here as well as my sermon transcript in case anyone would rather read it. However, please be aware that I try to write my manuscripts as I will preach them, so the verbiage/writing style may not be top-notch English!
[Transcript: “I Thirst”; John 19:28-29]
If you knew you had just a few hours left to live, who would you want to talk to, and what words would you say? I would assume that most of us would want to speak to those we love, and we would want to offer words that express our love, that give comfort, and maybe even direction. When people have this opportunity- to think through and speak their “last words,” it can have a great impact. These words are remembered and cherished by those who hear them. Yet they also have the effect of revealing the heart of the person speaking them- who they love, what their hopes and fears are, whether they are content, joyful, or afraid.
Continue reading “Why Did Jesus Say “I Thirst” On the Cross? A Sermon on John 19:28-29″
Cyprian of Carthage on the Church as Family
In the middle of the third century, a bishop named Cyprian presented his understanding of the church as the “family of God” in order to answer two main controversies that were facing ancient Christianity at the time. These two controversies were over what to do with believers who denied the faith under persecution, and whether or not to re-baptize believers who were baptized by church leaders who also “lapsed.” His opponents argued that those who caved in under persecution should not be allowed back into the church…ever, and that those who were baptized by leaders who did the same were not genuinely Christian. On the opposite spectrum were those calling for the lapsed to be readmitted to the church without asking any questions.
Continue reading “Cyprian of Carthage on the Church as Family”
The Ministry of the Mundane
Do you ever feel like your days run endlessly together? Wake up, go to work, come home to innumerable chores, go to bed, repeat. Where is the abundant life God promised? Are you missing it? Is it possible to find purpose in the predictable and meaning in the mundane?
I (Jarrett) found this article earlier in the week, and I had to rewrite and repost it, because I think that every believer will be built up and edified through it!
If we are followers of Christ, the answer to the above questions are “yes,” for nothing done in surrendered obedience is ever wasted. At each moment, God uses our mundane, earthly experiences to train and equip us for something greater, to center our thoughts on the eternal, and to be active participants in his outpouring of love and grace. Living God’s great adventure is not a matter of location or vocation, but rather, a continual process of heart and mind transformation.