This week I am sharing some articles written by other Christians during May 2021, which I hope you might find helpful. I have included an extract from the article beneath each link to give an indication of the content of each one.
Jonathan Landry Cruse writes “If you’re struggling with that one sin that never seems to go away, the one that has a perfect record when facing off against you in the ring, that’s when you need the good news of the inexhaustible grace and love of Jesus more than ever. Why? Because when we’re low we’re more likely to believe that devilish lie that God’s love is contingent on our performance. We may think that his forgiveness can be depleted. We sin again—for the umpteenth time—and then think, “Will God really forgive me this time?” For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, here’s your answer: Yes! To remember that, take to heart these three truths.”
Scott Hubbard starts this article by saying “No preacher, upon looking up from his pulpit, hopes to see what I saw mid-sermon one Sunday morning: a man in the last row, head tilted against the back wall, sleeping like Rip Van Winkle.
A humbling moment for a young preacher, to be sure. Yet as I remember that drooping face several years later, a question comes to mind that brings a humbling of a different kind: How many church gatherings have I attended where, as far as spiritual attentiveness goes, I might as well have been sleeping?”
Glenna Marshall shares some thoughts about her Bible study group, as they studied the book of Joshua, “In January, my Bible study group began reading the book of Joshua. We finished this week. That’s nearly five full months in one book of the Bible. Week after week, we read a portion of the text and answered the same questions about each passage. We discussed faithfulness, obedience, idolatry, worship, war, apostasy, promises, covenants, and the gospel…….. For these five months, we have laboured to understand, have come with our questions and our struggles, and have been encouraged by the hours of study each person brings to the table.”
Tim Farrow addresses the important issue of modelling what it means to disagree well. “As Christians we should seek to model a better way. We can – and should – be angry at injustice, but we must see those who take a different view to us as people of immense dignity created in God’s own image. As such, we are to treat them with kindness, gentleness and respect. We see today’s political issues as important to the welfare of our neighbour… but at the same time we also consider those issues to be temporary. Just as every ideology and every government is temporary, so we need not panic or explode in fury if we find ourselves on the losing side, nor gloat and denigrate our opponent if we are winning.”
Michael J Rhodes says “When I walked up to my church’s outdoor Easter service, my first thought was a joyful one: “I have missed this so much.” But my second thought was much more unsettling: “I forgot how much I missed this.”
The pain of the pandemic has extended to every part of our lives. Some have lost loved ones. Some have lost jobs. Once-in-a-lifetime celebrations have gone uncelebrated. And many churches have made excruciating changes to our worshiping life. For some congregations, that has meant moving most of what we do away from in-person gatherings and on to the Zoom meetings, livestreams, and conference calls that have dominated our waking, working, and worshiping hours.
Emma Heath speaks about the how Jesus filled her soul with hope. “It amazes me that life was once so dark and hopeless and now, because of what God has done – and is still doing – it’s a life beyond my wildest dreams. Through God, I see how my battles have become blessings, helping people as I journey forwards.
Dealing with pain properly, rather than turning to substances, unhealthy habits or coping strategies is not for the faint hearted. Recovery – and developing new, healthy ways to deal with pain, as well as dealing with the root causes of trauma – takes commitment and dedication. Yet it is so worth it. The more effort you put in, the more you see the changes in yourself. I’ve stopped blaming the world and my past, and instead, through Christ, have learnt to forgive myself and others. The world is a mess and it’s so easy to blame everyone and everything for bad behaviour, yet having faith has helped me to do what I couldn’t do for myself. Change is possible.