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Christlikeness Is Something To Long For, Not Be Delivered From (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn is supporting his wife, Nanci, through her season of cancer.
God is supporting them both.
He writes about the experience of God using the very situations that nobody wants as the circumstances in which faith and Christlikeness grows:

If asked, “Do you want to be closer to Jesus, and more like him?” we all know what we should say. Yet, if God answered all our prayers for relief from suffering, he would be delivering us from the very thing we say we want. Christlikeness is something to long for, not be delivered from. It’s not easy to pray, “Please do whatever it takes to make me more like Jesus.” But when he does whatever it takes, we should trust him.

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Biblical Truths That Can Bring Us Great Happiness (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn writes about seven biblical truths that should “raise our expectations of happiness.”
Here’s the first:
1. God’s Immeasurable Love for Us
In Ephesians, Paul prays that the recipients of his letter may “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
He ends the chapter saying, “To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
After reading this inspired text, how great should our expectations of God be?

Read the other six at Eternal Perspective Ministries blog.


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Joy And Laughter Should Be The Church’s Norm, Not The Exception (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn wonders why Christians seem so unhappy, and offers thoughts on why this should not be so.
There seem to be a lot of outraged Christians around, and they seem to be outraged in mirror to the culture of outrage that permeates public discourse.

…I see too many long-faced Christians who seem continuously angry, disillusioned, and defensive over politics and the infringement of their rights.
Francis de Sales, the bishop of Geneva (1567–1622), said, “I cannot understand why those who have given themselves up to God and his goodness are not always cheerful; for what possible happiness can be equal to that? No accidents or imperfections which may happen ought to have power to trouble them, or to hinder their looking upward.”[iv]
One explanation for our cheerlessness is simple: many of God’s people don’t believe that the Christ we serve is cheerful.
If we see God as happy, suddenly the command for us to “find your joy in him at all times” (Philippians 4:4, Phillips) makes sense. God is saying, in essence, “Be as I am.” Paralleling “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16, NIV), the answer to the question “Why should God’s children be happy?” is “Because our Father is happy.”
By studying and understanding what Scripture says about God’s happiness and ours, and letting those truths spill over into our lives, I believe we can reverse this trend. Then, even when we’re dealing with tough issues, both personally and in our culture, we can do so with a smile, and a sense of peace and pleasure in Christ. That doesn’t mean we back away from clearly sharing God’s revealed words, but it does mean that we do it with a spirit of grace and truth, seeking to be like Jesus (John 1:14).
Joy and laughter should be the church’s norm, not the exception.

Read the rest of the post here.


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No Need For A ‘Bucket List’ (via Randy Alcorn)

Randy Alcorn provides a helpful perspective on why resurrection life makes the notion of a bucket list redundant.

Here’s the beginning:

The term “bucket list” was popularized by the 2007 movie of that name. It’s an inventory of things people want to do before they “kick the bucket.” The idea is, since our time on earth is limited, if something is important for us to do, we have to do it now, because this is our only chance to do it.
This makes sense from a naturalistic worldview, one which doesn’t recognize any afterlife. It also makes sense from various religious worldviews that maintain there may be existence after death, but without resurrection and physical properties, and with no continuity between this life and the next. The one worldview in which the bucket list makes no sense is biblical Christianity.
Don’t misunderstand. My wife Nanci and I enjoy life—going new places and doing new things. I don’t believe this is wrong, nor is it wrong to list things you’d like to do if God gives you the resources and strength. But the “bucket list” mentality, that this life is our only chance to ever enjoy adventure and fun, is profoundly unbiblical. It disregards the teaching of the resurrection:

  • But your dead will live; their bodies will rise. You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy. . . . The earth will give birth to her dead. (Isaiah 26:19)
  • Many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting disgrace. (Daniel 12:2 NLT)
  • We will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:52-53)
  • The Lord Jesus Christ . . . will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21)

Despite the centrality of the resurrection in Scripture and church history, many Christians have never been clearly taught its meaning, so they imagine they will live forever in a disembodied state.

Read the rest here.