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The Ache Is Not A Desire To Escape, It’s Homesickness (via Rebecca K Reynolds)

Rebecca K Reynolds explains the the desire to be with Christ is not something for which the disciple needs to feel guilty as if its an avoidance of the realities of life, rather the desire to be with Christ is a natural feeling to experience more of the belonging which union with Jesus brings to our lives:

Paul’s use of the words with Christ clued me in to something big. His ache was relational, not just geographic. He didn’t simply want to get to heaven; he wanted to get further up and further in to community with Jesus. Before catching that, I’d always felt sort of guilty for wanting to escape my earthly life to be closer to the Lord—after all, the Holy Spirit lived inside me. Why couldn’t I just be content with what I had already been given? Yet, Paul understood the indwelling of the Holy Spirit better than you or I ever will, and he still longed to experience divine fellowship in a way that was more intimate than anything he could encounter on earth. His story helps me rejoice in all things while admitting the cramp in my side. It gives me permission to live a little homesick.

Rebecca K Reynolds, Courage, Dear Heart, NavPress, 2018, pg 8.


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Ten Bible Passages For Severe Illness (via Kathryn Butler)

This article by Kathryn Butler at Desiring God features ten Bible verses/passages that speak of the presence of God’s love to those who are suffering.
It is helpful in encouraging Christians to remember these verses for their own encouragement, and also, of course, to share with others.
It is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a helpful start.
Five are from Psalms and five are from the New Testament.

PSALM 46:1–3
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
2 CORINTHIANS 4:16–18
“Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Read the whole article here.


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The Haunting Presence Of Depression (via Mike Cosper)

Mike Cosper attempts to write a sensitive and nuanced reflection on depression and suicide, prompted by the death of chef and food/travel documentary make Anthony Bourdain.

This is what’s monstrous about depression. It is not simply a bad day or even a bad few months. It is a haunting presence, a grayness that covers all of life. It insulates you from joy under even the best of circumstances, and it makes you feel as though joy has left forever.
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In times like these, I want simplistic narratives. If only he’d asked for help. If only he’d acknowledged his pain. If only he’d found a friend. If only he’d found the hope of the gospel. There may be some truth in each of these, but reality is always more complex and harsh.
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There may be any number of physical, biological, or neurological reasons that people find themselves trapped in a metaphorical burning building, and we’d be wise not to speak too glibly or simplistically to them or about them. Instead, we might offer them what God offers: a safe place to come and rest. A warm meal. The company of our presence. We might point them to the care of doctors and therapists, and we might work in our communities to remove the stigma that comes with the label “depression” so that we see it in the same way we see chicken pox or the flu. These things can happen to anyone. And they can kill you.
Of course, we can and should also point them to a Savior who is a “man of sorrows” and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). The world simply is not what it is meant to be, and its brokenness takes a toll on everyone. Some of us might just be more sensitive to it than others.
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I wish everyone who felt the plague of depression could feel seen and known, comforted by the fact that they aren’t alone. For those who know and love depressed persons, this is a holy calling, and a difficult one.
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I pray the promise of Christ’s redemptive, acquainted-with-sorrow presence would spread throughout our depressed and depressing culture. I pray Christians could work to be faithfully present to those around them. And today, as I should do every day, I pray that those who feel lost in a gray cloud or trapped in a burning building would know that there are people longing to help them and a God whose grace is real.
“Come to me,” Jesus said, “all who are weary and heavy burdened . . . and I will give you rest for your soul.”

The whole post is at the Gospel Coalition.


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Encourage One Another (via Dane Ortlund)

Those who have received the Word of Life speak words of life to others.
From Dane Ortlund:

After all, when Paul says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up,” what is the “therefore” referring to? What is fueling such encouragement? One of the greatest exultations in all the New Testament about the hope of the gospel:
God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him (1 Thess. 5:9–10).
Having been shown life through the word of the gospel, we give life through the words we use.

Read the rest of the encouraging post here.


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J.I. Packer On Old Age And Infirmity

J.I. Packer is a well known theologian whose books have been appreciated by Christians for decades.
At the age of 89 the effects of macular generation have ended his reading and writing capacities, and, as a result, the conclusion of his writing ministry.
There are reports on the Crossway Blog and Gospel Coalition.
The interview at the Gospel Coalition is a remarkable insight in Packer’s faith.
An excerpt:

Has this been a hard trial emotionally?
Emotionally, it doesn’t make an impact on me because after all I’m nearly 90, and I would have had to stop those things soon anyway because my strength would not have continued. God has been very good to us [he includes his wife, Kit], and none of us has been struck as so many people of our age by any form of dementia. We’re both blessedly free of that in a way that other folks of our age known to us are not. When you’re preserved from something other people actually have to work their way through you recognize that this is a mercy and are thankful.

Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible you have especially treasured and have gleaned much wisdom from over the years. You’ve said Ecclesiastes cured you of youthful cynicism. On this side of life what has the old sage taught you? Does the final chapter of Ecclesiastes—chapter 12—hold more resonance at this stage than, say, 40 years ago?
The author of Ecclesiastes has taught me that it is folly to suppose that you can plan life and master it, and you will get hurt if you try. You must acknowledge the sovereignty of God and leave the wisdom to him.
It tells me now what it told me 40 years ago, namely, that we wear out, physically we come apart. You get old, and getting old means the loss of faculties and powers you had when you were younger. And that is the way God prepares us to leave this world for a better world to which he’s taking us. The message of Ecclesiastes 12 is “Get right with God as early in life as you can; ‘remember the creator in your days of youth’ (Eccl. 12:1). Don’t leave it until some time in the future when you’re not likely to be able to handle it well at all.”

What role does calling play in these latter days of life for you?
All that I can say is that as one’s powers of mind and body diminish so one’s understanding to what one can do—should do—in fulfillment of one’s calling has to be adjusted in terms of, “I can’t do that anymore.” And Christian realism kicks in at that point. God doesn’t call us to do what is no longer within our power to do.

Read the whole post here.


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Do Not Lose Heart In Preaching – Kanishka Raffel Interview

Another helpful interview posted by St Helen’s Bishopsgate, this time with Kanishka Raffel from Perth, Western Australia.
The theme is not losing heart as we preach the Gospel.
Conducted in an interview style, Kanishka models a very winsome and engaging expositional style as he opens 2 Corinthians 4 to show the reasons for being encouraged when circumstances lack encouragements.


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You’re Not (via Paul Tripp)

This is from Paul Tripp:

When I’m
Weary and exhausted
You’re not.
When I’m
Confused and discouraged
You’re not.
When I’m
Fickle and unfaithful
You’re not.
When I’m
Doubtful and disheartened
You’re not.
When I’m
Fearful and anxious
You’re not.
When I’m
Short-sighted and fearful
You’re not.
When I’m
Tired and about to quit
You’re not.
When I’m
Lacking in hope and love
You’re not.
When I’m
Shocked and surprised
You’re not.
When I’m
Angrily withholding grace
You’re not.
When I’m
Unfaithful to what I’ve promised
You’re not.
When I’m
Selfish and disloyal
You’re not.
Oh, Lord of
Faithfulness and grace
I am so thankful
That
In those moments
When I’m
Losing my way
You’re not.

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