Saturday, February 28, 2009

Without Hindrance: Acts 28:31

Volumes have been written about the ending of the book of Acts. Acts tells the story of the spread of the gospel in the early days of the church, in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. The book ends with Paul sitting under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial on charges of treason. Luke tells us that Paul preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ “boldly and without hindrance.”

“Without hindrance” is one word in the original Greek language (akolutos), an adverb. It is the very last word in the Greek text of Acts. Paul preached with great boldness, “unhinderedly”. And the book stops. It is such a strange ending that some scholars have theorized that the last page or two of Acts may actually be missing, or that Luke was not able to finish the book for some reason.

It is also a strange ending when you think about Paul’s life situation. He had nothing but hindrances in his attempts to preach the gospel of Jesus. We read in 2 Corinthians 11 of Paul’s arrests, persecutions, opponents and hardships. His ministry was one gigantic hardship after another. Satan seems to have even taken a personal interest in hindering the work of Paul. At the end of Acts, Paul in Roman custody – clearly a hindrance to gospel work. Yet, Luke says, he preached without hindrance.

There is, I believe, another reason why Luke claimed that Paul preached without hindrance. Yes, Paul faced many unbelievable obstacles to his ministry, but he never let obstacles hinder the work of God. Noah faced obstacles when he obeyed God’s command to build an ark, but he was not hindered from obedience. Moses was called by God and immediately had to face the king of the most powerful nation on earth and his mighty army. David was anointed king, but Saul stood in his way, as did Goliath. Each man faced great obstacles, but was unhindered in accomplishing the work of God.

Hardships are normal in God’s work, and they are usually bigger than we are able to overcome by ourselves. Too often we assume that obstacles are God’s way of closing a door, as if God would never call us to do anything hard. Obstacles do not tell you that God is not in your work. They are not an indication that God wants you to give up. They are the hurdles over which God empowers you to leap as he accomplishes his work through you.

I have known many Christians, even Christian leaders, who assume that God’s work is supposed to be easy and enjoyable. When things do not go exactly as they imagined, or when times get hard, they give up and move on. Every time I face an obstacle, I want to quit.

But when we are doing God’s work and depending on God’s powers, even the biggest obstacles fail to prevent the powerful work of God. He will strengthen us to endure, to overcome, to grow.

Even big obstacles cannot hinder the work of an Almighty God. Let us do the work of Jesus boldly, knowing that no force on earth can stop him.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thorns on a Rose: An Analysis of Dr. Yarnell’s Sermon

On SBC Tomorrow, Peter Lumpkins wrote a strong rebuke to Tom Ascol’s review of Dr. Malcolm Yarnell’s sermons at SWBTS on October 31, 2008. Peter had sharp criticism for the Founders’ position that the viewpoint presented by Dr. Yarnell was “dangerous to biblical Christianity.”

There is no doubt that this was a strong criticism. To say, “I disagree” is one thing. To challenge a view as “dangerous to biblical Christianity” is a weighty accusation. Tom Ascol thinks that it is a justified rebuke. Peter does not.

As I read the quotes, I was a little bit concerned. The things that Dr. Yarnell said in the quotes bothered me, but I know that a quote pulled from a 41 minute sermon may not represent that sermon accurately at all. So, I decided to listen to the sermon and make sure what Dr. Yarnell actually said.

The title above is a summary of what I think about this sermon. It is an amazing exposition of the Lordship of Christ, one which every Christian would do well to hear and heed. However, there are a couple of quotes, one at the beginning and one near the end that present, to me, some thorny problems.

The Rose

The sermon is 41 minutes long and is an exposition of Matthew 7:21-23. In that passage, people at the judgment claim to have served the Lord but are cast away because, “I never knew you.”

Dr. Yarnell draws three points, essentials of Christianity. It is essential to confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This section is fantastic. He explains the simple statement “Jesus Lord” – the confession of early Christianity. Jesus is the human Lord, the divine Lord, the universal Lord and the unique Lord.

He then goes on to talk about the essential of doing the will of God. Those of the reformed persuasion might not like everything in here, but all will agree with the essentials of what he says. He says that confession must lead to obedience. “Creeds without deeds” he says are empty and pointless. He tends to present the reformers (and those who follow them today) as more interested in confession than obedience, and presents the free, congregational churches as the more obedient. That will, of course, not please the Founders. But, the truth is clear. True faith in Christ will produce a walk of obedience to the will of God revealed in the Word of God.

He then, briefly deals with the third essential. Confessing and doing are not enough. We must be “known” by God. It is a personal relationship, not just doctrine or duty that is required.

I do not think anyone could be anything but blessed by the truths he presents here. Obviously, Calvinists will quarrel with his depiction of the reformers as confessors only and the Baptists as confessors and doers. But the point he made there still stands.

The Thorns

There were two quotes that cause me some difficulty in this powerful sermon. The first took place about 3:38 into the message. I have a minor disagreement with some things he said in that quote. The second was in the conclusion to the sermon, starting at about 34:11. This one contains the statement that Tom Ascol found dangerous. It is deeply troubling to me as well.

I will give each section completely. I listened a couple of times through after I transcribed the quotes and I think they are pretty accurate. I edited nothing out (at least not on purpose). I will present each quote and my concerns about it.

First Quote (3:38)

Dr. Yarnell said,Baptizing, free churches are unique in that their understanding of reformation chooses as the ideal as the form, not something out of post-biblical history, but the New Testament itself. As a New Testament Christian, I reject all but the ideal form of the church commanded by Jesus Christ in the NT revelation. Why? Because the Lordship of Jesus Christ is the essential basis of Christianity. Some of these other reformations bring us to perhaps penultimate forms of Christianity, but only the New Testament, the very Word of God brings us to the ultimate form of Christianity. In comparison to the goal of the baptizing free churches the other reformations are inevitably bound for failure for they have adopted the wrong form of the church

In the introduction, he makes the point that Reformers have tended to use the church of the 16th Century, or the Synod of Dort, or the Puritans as the gold standard for the church. He distinguishes the “baptizing free churches” as the only ones who appeal to the New Testament as the standard for the church. He later makes this statement, “New Testament congregationalism (which) is the only biblical form of Church governance.

I am Baptist by conviction, but I guess I have not come to the place of being quite as convinced that we are the only representation of the New Testament church or that congregationalism is the only acceptable form of church government as he has.

His confidence may reflect that he understands the Bible and theology better than I do (something on which there is probably little doubt) or that he is (in my opinion) making a universal pronouncement on an issue in which the biblical evidence does not support such dogmatism.

But, this section forms the basis of the second, more controversial statement that he will make. He is so utterly convinced that “free, baptizing congregationalism” is the only biblical form of government, and that baptism by immersion is essential to Christian living that anyone who disagrees with these is not walking in obedience to Christ. Since his sermon is about Christ’s Lordship, such disobedience cannot be overlooked. How can one walk in obedience to Christ and reject this crystal clear vision of the church?

Second Quote (34:11)

This is the one that has fanned the flames.

Christ commanded believers to be baptized after they become disciples. Those who change the Lord’s order disobey him. They work against his will. The one who knowingly works against his will will be judged by him. In other words, baptism, true Christian baptism, not the invention of baby baptism, baptism is for believers to obey. That’s why he included it in the Great Commission. You can’t separate the making of a disciple from proper baptism. If confessing Jesus as Lord, is essential, if knowing Jesus is Lord is essential, if doing the will of the Lord is essential, then NT obedience to Jesus Christ as he reveals himself here – that’s essential too.

You cannot perform theological triage on the Lordship of Jesus Christ without severing his will into pieces and picking and choosing what you want to do. You will find out what he says and you will do it all because you know your life is totally dependent on him. NT Christianity has no secondary doctrines when it comes to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That’s why I say baptism is not secondary nor is it tertiary, it is essential.

Now, does that mean that baptism saves you? NO. But if you are saved, you will obey and you will be baptized according to Christian baptism, not according to something of your own invention.”

The key statement is question here is in the last paragraph. “But if you are saved, you will obey and you will be baptized according to Christian baptism (Baptist).” Dr. Ascol read this as a statement questioning the salvation of those who have not received Baptist baptism, and called the statement dangerous on that basis.

My opinion will probably please no one. I cannot imagine that Dr. Yarnell really questions the salvation of those who have not received Baptist baptism. However, his statement certainly does lead one to believe that.

We can all, in a sermon, say something that will be misread and misinterpreted. I hope that is what is happening here. Does he really believe what is seems this statement implies? I hope not.

He anticipates one question: does baptism save? He answers that forcefully. But he does not answer the more pressing question. “Are you saying that there is something fundamentally flawed in the salvation of someone who does not receive Baptist baptism?” (By the way, I am using Baptist baptism to refer to baptism of believers by immersion, not to mean baptism in a certain denominational church – just to clarify.)

He says, “If you are saved, you will…” Not should, or ought to, but will! This clearly implies that if you do not do what is expected – Baptist baptism – then you have not been saved.

I think that is a fair interpretation of Yarnell’s statement. Is it what he intended? I have to believe it is not. Is it a logical inference from his words? I think it is.

So, to the Founders’ criticism of Dr. Yarnell, I would say two things. First, they are right. The concept that is presented by Dr. Yarnell’s words would be dangerous to biblical Christianity. However, I think that it is also clear that he did not intend to say that those who are not biblically baptized are not saved.

I could only hope that Dr. Yarnell would clarify his meaning. Then, we could know whether Ascol’s criticism is valid.


The ultimate point of the Founders’ article is beyond assail, though, in my opinion. There can be little doubt that Dr. Yarnell’s approach is vastly different than Dr. Mohler’s theological triage idea. There are, in fact, two visions competing for the attention of Southern Baptists.

Dr. Mohler classifies doctrine germaine to salvation as primary, that which is essential to the denomination as secondary, and other doctrines as tertiary. Dr. Yarnell rejects this and claims that all doctrine related to ecclesiology and polity is a manifestation of the Lordship of Christ, therefore primary.

I have picked my side in this conflict long ago. But, while I disagree with Dr. Yarnell’s vision, I do not think he meant to say that unbaptized people are not really believers. I could wish that he would clarify the statement, but I do not know if that will happen.

I encourage everyone to listen to the sermon. Overall, it is a beautiful rose, though I would warn you of a couple of thorns on the stem.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Where the Feather Blows

In medieval days, the story goes, a man went to his priest to confess sin and seek absolution. He confessed the sin of gossip, of spreading a rumor, of slandering another man. He wanted to atone for his sin. The priest told him to take feathers and place them by the doors of every person he had shared the gossip with and then return. The man completed his assignment, spreading the feathers wherever he had spread the rumor. He returned to the priest. The priest gave him another job. “Go and pick up every feather you placed.” The man shook his head. “The feathers have scattered throughout the town. I could never find them all.” The priest nodded his head. “It is the same way with gossip.”

We view sin differently than God does. We see big sins and little sins. Big sins – adultery, murder, homosexuality, theft – are the ones we generally do no commit. Little sins – gossip, complaining, little white lies – these are the ones we all commit, so they must not be such a big deal, right? God does not see it that way.

James says that the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity, set on fire by hell. It is a small body part, but does great evil. Christian maturity is the ability to control the tongue. Proverbs reveals to us the devastating effects of little sins like gossip. Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

American culture honors the person who tells everyone just exactly what he thinks. You have to vent your feelings, not suppress them. God’s Word begs to differ. The person who overlooks an offense, who forgives the offender, promotes love and harmony. The one who repeats the matter, who spreads the feathers, causes division and disunity.

If Christians had Spirit-empowered control of our tongues, there would be no division in the church. Think of every church conflict you have ever seen. When you dig through the rubble and devastation, you will find the same explosive material at ground zero. Gossip. Someone did not control their tongue. Someone got on the phone and “shared” their disapproval, probably in the form of a prayer request. Someone exercised their right to air their opinion about things.

And these dear but dangerous saints had no idea that their loose lips would sink the ship of unity in the body of Christ. “Without gossip the fire goes out,” promised Solomon.

If only we could apply one simple rule. I will not talk about someone to another until I have first talked to God, then to that person. If you are offended, upset, angry or injured, talk to God about it, not other people. He is the one who can heal the wound. If you need to, talk to the other person directly in attempt to bring healing and unity.

Until you have talked to God, and to the person you are upset with, you have no right to talk about that person to anyone else. When you do, you fuel the fires of division in God’s church, helping Satan in his efforts to destroy God’s church.

I know you don’t want to do that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Waited Patiently...

I am not a patient man. The microwave heats food too slowly. Stop lights seem to last minutes. I hate to stand in line.

So, you can imagine what it feels like when I read scripture verses like Psalm 40:1. “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” David called out to God, then waited patiently for the Lord to hear his cry and deliver him. He waited. Patiently.

David was in trouble when he wrote this Psalm. He doesn’t tell us what the trouble was, but he describes it as being in a “slimy pit” filled with mud and mire. It was not good. You have probably been there. It may have been after you lost a loved one, or when you struggled with long term illness, or when your marriage is going sour, or your job is providing you an ulcer in addition to a paycheck. Whatever the stresses and trials of life, sometimes you feel like you are at the bottom of David’s slimy pit, knee deep in the mud.

When life is a slimy pit, we want a change. A new job. A new church. A new spouse. We want to escape from life, to get out of the pit. The temptation is to take action based on our emotions, our wisdom, our reason. We strike back at those who hurt us. We run away from our circumstances. We become angry and bitter.

Not King David. He tried something unique; counterintuitive to human nature. He called out to God and waited for God to act. He waited patiently. How long did he wait? Who knows? Noah waited 100 years after God promised a flood for the rains to start. Abraham waited 25 years for the promised child. Noah waited until he was 80 to begin the work he was destined for. Faith is waiting patiently for God to do what he said he would do.

Recently, I was in a slimy pit. Oh, maybe a small pit, with minor sliminess, but it was no fun. I wanted to run away. I wanted to lash out. But, for one of the unfortunately few times in my life, I called out to God. He heard me. He acted in his own time, and lifted me out of the pit. It took way longer than I thought it should, but God was faithful. At least I did not have to wait 25 years.

Look at what God does when we call out to him for help. He lifts us up, sets our feet on solid rock, and gives us a song of joy in our hearts. That’s his job. Your job is to call out to him in your distress and to wait patiently for his answer.

There is no question as to whether God will do his work. He will respond to the needs of his children, set us on a solid foundation and put his joy in our hearts. He will be faithful. The only question is whether you and I will call out to him, and wait patiently for his work.

Wait patiently, don’t get angry. Wait patiently, don’t lash out. Wait patiently, don’t despair. Wait patiently, don’t devise a fleshly scheme. Wait patiently on the Lord. He’s listening!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A Baptist Blogging Conflagration

Let's face it folks, we have reached a new Baptist blogging low in the last week. First, Wade posted information (without any sources or proof) which reflects badly on Dr. Patterson (are you shocked? I am!)

Then, thing really heated up. Liar! Wild-Eyed Liberal! Fundamentalist! The name-calling got pretty intense.

But that was just the start. First, Wade was accused of altering his comments (which he did, by his own admission). Originally, his post referrred to conversations that had taken place "yesterday" (Monday), and that word was removed. He also, as I understand it, changed the word "said" to "implied" when speaking of Dr. Patterson's comments.

Thats when something really hit the fan. SBC Today is accused of altering time stamps on its comments to deceive the blog world. I, to be honest, don't really understand the thing much. An anonymous blogger named John 3:16 asked them to shut off comments. Wes Kenney agreed less than a minute later. Then, the time stamps of these comments were evidently changed to reflect a 10 hour or so time differential.

Wade has responded and explained his editing, which has satisfied his supporters, but not his critics (again, duh!). To my knowledge, SBC Today has not made any attempt to explain their altered time stamps. That may be forthcoming.

I have ever seen the kind of name calling that is taking place now. One blogger has taken to calling Wade, "Slick." Nice, huh? On Wade's site, commenters are engaging in a barrage of comment questioning the integrity of SBC Today.

Here's my take. Folks, we can do better!

We can disagree without name-calling or character assassination.

We can operate in the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, kindness, patience, self-control) and still speak the plain truth.

We can "love our enemies" and "bless those who persecute us."

(On a wholly inappropriate note, if I see one more person end a comment filled with bitter criticism of another with a smug and condescending "brother, I'm praying for you" I might throw up.)

Instead of smug condescension, we can honor one another and demonstrate grace as we pursue truth.

I am not sure I am going to glad of all my words when we stand before God and every idle word we speak is judged by the Savior.

I keep looking for a hero in this. It seems we have all accepted the motto, "If your brother disagrees with you about SBC issues, consign him to perdition."

Brothers (and sistern) WE CAN DO BETTER!!!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Step of Faith

May we play a quick game of pretend? Imagine that you are a Israelite priest on the banks of the Jordan River. For forty years your people have wandered in the wilderness and now it is time to cross the Jordan. Imagine your sense of joy when you find out that you have been selected to carry the ark of God and lead the nation across the Jordan into the Promised Land.

There is only one problem. The usually sleepy little Jordan is now at flood stage. Most of the time wading the Jordan is no big deal, but at flood stage it is impossible; near certain death.

You grab the pole that extends out of the front of the ark. You carry the ark with its divine treasures through the Israelite camp amidst the cheers of the people. Everyone is excited but you. You have a lump in your throat and a knot in your stomach.

Joshua assures you that God has commanded this. “As soon as the priests set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.” God promised. Easy for Joshua; he’s not the one who has to step in the river.

Suddenly, you have come to the moment of decision. Your next step is a big one. Do you trust what God has said to be true and risk your life by walking into the Jordan? Why can’t God just stop the river a second or two earlier? Is it sane to step into a river at flood stage? Talk about God closing the doors. That swollen river looks like a closed door to you, right?

What would you do? God said step in the river and I will stop the flow. That is the way God usually works. God calls us to tasks that are beyond our ability, our knowledge, our reason, or our strength. He promises to be there and to accomplish his work in us and through us.

But in God’s work there is almost always a moment in which you stand at the Jordan deciding whether to take that first step into the flood. Abraham had to leave home and family before God showed him the Promised Land. David had to pick up a slingshot and walk out to face the giant. Elijah had to face the false prophets on Mt. Carmel. Moses had to head to Egypt to face Pharaoh with only the promise of God. Biblical faith is always risky. If God does not work, you will fail, even die.

That’s what it means to walk by faith and not by sight. We say to the Lord, “Stop the river and I will step in.” That’s walking by sight. We look at our abilities, our resources, our wisdom and we do “the best we can” for God. God calls us to rely on his resources, his wisdom, and his ability so he can accomplish “God-sized” tasks through us. God calls us to walk by faith; to step into the river before he stops the flow.

The walk of faith is exciting, awesome and beautiful. But it is also scary. Faith calls us to risk it all in obedience to him. If God does not work, disaster awaits.

But remember our game of pretend? Imagine the wonder in your heart as you take that literal step of faith, as you place your foot in the flooding Jordan – and there before your eyes it begins to pile up to the north. You carry the ark through on dry ground and all Israel follows. What rejoicing there must have been that day!

Those who walk by faith get to rejoice at the power of God.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Yellow Journalism and the SBC

NOTE: in the following post, I am and will be very critical of recent posts by Wade Burleson. However, I want to disassociate myself from some of the name-calling (liar, liberal) that is going around. I think the name-calling and character assassination is just as bad as Wade's post. )

First, since I have advocated regularly against the use of pejorative and derogation, let me define the specific use of this term here. Yellow journalism describes a very specific kind of writing. defines yellow journalism as “biased opinion masquerading as objective fact. Moreover, the practice of yellow journalism involved sensationalism, distorted stories, and misleading images for the sole purpose of boosting newspaper sales and exciting public opinion.” This definition seems to be pretty much in line with the general understanding of the term.

At its core, yellow journalism is biased reporting for sensationalistic purposes. I am afraid that yellow journalism is alive and well in the SBC. Today, Wade Burleson has posted a story that is a primer in yellow journalism.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you my general view of Wade Burleson. I am not a part of the “blame-Wade for everything” branch of blogging. I have argued forcefully that his ouster at the IMB was unjust. In the old days, Wade quoted me on his site in a positive way.

I am not, however, a fan of Wade’s blogging today. I think he has “jumped the shark” and has lost credibility by engaging in a constant barrage of attacks against the leaders of the SBC, especially Dr. Patterson. Again, I have said publicly that I wish that Paige Patterson would ride off into the sunset. I appreciate his work in the CR, but not much he has done since. But the attacks on him have gotten increasingly personal, hysterical and shrill to this man’s ears. And, in my view, Wade has abandoned sound hermeneutics as he has embarked on his recent crusade advocating for women in ministry.

My point is honest disclosure – I was a “supporter” of Wade’s in the beginning, but I think he has gone off the rails in the last couple of years. When I have confronted him recently, he has accused me of “questioning motives.” He has taken to deleting my comments, because he thinks I am “mean-spirited” toward him and his motives. Perspectives, I guess...

I consider myself neither a “Burleson Boy” nor a “Wade-hater.” I appreciated and supported him in the early days and have lost respect for him since.

But the post today was pretty close to yellow journalism, by the definition above. We all know that Wade has a problem with Paige Patterson. He has been relentless in his criticism of the man and his ministry. Today, he reports that Paige is going to fire all the Calvinist professors at SWBTS in a cost-cutting move, and claims this was all revealed at a meeting with professors. A SWBTS professor, who is known as a 5-point Calvinist wrote and said that Wade was totally wrong – no meeting had taken place and no firing of Calvinists was anticipated.

Wade responded that he had been right before and that maybe his sources knew more than Dr. Welty did. He also said conveniently that if this did not take place, it might be because Wade had brought it into the light and embarrassed the administration, preventing the action from taking place.

I would make the following observations:

1) Yellow Journalism is sensationalistic. This post hits a couple of the hot-button issues in the SBC – Paige Patterson and Calvinism.

2) Yellow Journalism is opinion masquerading as fact. This post never says, “I’ve heard a rumor,” or “I was told.” It states this as established fact. But there are no sources, no foot-notes, no references. Just Wade’s opinion presented as established fact. In fact, when his facts were challenged, he indicated that he might know more than the professor who was there.

3) Yellow Journalism is biased. I will let the reader decide if Wade might have a biased opinion and a tendency to believe the worst about Dr. Patterson.

4) Yellow Journalism is based on the attempt to up readership and sell newspapers. This is one which I really don't know. Why would Wade publish unsubstantiated rumor as fact? If he has a reason, other than distaste for Paige Patterson, I don't know it.

Here is what I think. Wade would not publish something he knew to be a lie. However, because of his dislike for Paige Patterson, he might easily be susceptible to believe anything someone tells him about Paige, whether true or not. He might well have been fed some unsubstantiated gossip which he then reported, in his zeal to expose Dr. Patterson, as established fact.

However, I agree with several commenters. The time in which any of us believe what Wade says about SBC issues just because he says it is long past. He should prove the post or retract it, delete it and repent of it.

Dr. Welty asked him to repent of his lies. Others have done the same. Wade either needs to prove that he is not lying or do what they have asked.

A Bad Taste

I sucked my thumb. There, I said it. My deep, dark secret is now out. I loved that thumb. It gave me security and pleasure. But my mother had a different opinion. She knew that my thumb-sucking needed to stop. So, she put “Thum” on my thumb. Thum tasted bad. Really bad. It wasn’t poison, but it tasted like it. Every time that thumb went into my mouth, the bitter taste of Thum ruined the experience for me. The pleasure gone, I stopped sucking my thumb.

“Do not love the world, or anything in the world.” John, in his first epistle, gave us this command. We are not to love this world, or the things this world offers. Jesus said we could only have one master, and we must choose between God and Money. We are to love God with all our heart and not devote ourselves to the things of this world.

But, to be honest, I like this world. Sure, turmoil and evil abound; hardships come. But I have a wonderful family, a great job, a nice house; I have a great life. I have never had to miss a meal (it shows). I am healthy. For someone like me, like most Americans, it is hard not to love the world.

But then, trouble arises. Years ago I was going through some very dark times. I was discouraged, even depressed. Some Saturdays I would read the local paper trying to figure out what I could do to feed my family if I gave up this whole preaching gig. The world was much less appealing. The fun was gone.

It was during that time that I found myself longing for heaven. It is not that I was considering ending my life, but when all the joy was gone from this world I found myself longing to see Jesus and rest from my troubles. Scripture sets out so many purposes that suffering and hardships have in our lives. Could it be that suffering acts as God’s “Thum” to break us of our love of this world and the things that are in the world?

Romans 8:18 says, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” The redeemed have a glorious future awaiting, so glorious that it makes the worst of our suffering seem inconsequential. It is when our suffering on earth magnifies that we begin to contemplate the glories that await us.

God gains no pleasure from inflicting pain on his children, but is willing to allow suffering in our lives to accomplish his sovereign redemptive purpose. We seldom know for certain why God allows any particular trial to come our way. But maybe, sometimes, the pain comes so that we will remember the words of the old song, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”

Jesus went to cross to “prepare a place” for us in heaven. One day he will come to glorify us and bring us to our eternal rest. Here and now, you are citizens of the Kingdom of God and Ambassadors of Christ in this world.

Don’t let the good life you enjoy by God’s grace seduce you into forgetting your real home.