Christian, When Persecution Comes: Embrace It

The Christian faith is counterintuitive in any number of ways, but perhaps none so much as in its perspective on suffering and, particularly, its perspective on suffering persecution. We may see this most clearly in the actions of the apostles who, after being imprisoned and beaten, “left the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). Of course they must not have been surprised to suffer persecution because, as I’ve …

So You Think You’re Facing Persecution, Do You?

Jesus tells us to expect persecution. This is something I attempted to prove in an article a couple of days ago when I showed that at both the beginning and the ending of his ministry he warned that there would be a cost to following him. Yet Jesus knows that not everything that may look like persecution is actually persecution. And so he tells us that, when we come to times of suffering, we need to evaluate it to see …

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Christian, Do You Expect to Face Persecution?

There’s an old story that tells of a missionary—a missionary who became convinced the Lord had called him to go to a foreign land. Obviously, he first needed some training, and as part of that, he collected books about the country and he studied them very closely. He began to learn its language and to speak it; to learn its customs and to adopt them as his own; to learn about its dress and to wear those clothes; to learn …

40 More Random Pieces of Advice for the Christian Life

A number of weeks ago I shared an article titled 40 Random Pieces of Advice for the Christian Life. This isn’t something I intend to do often but did want to follow up at least once with a sequel of sorts. I hope there is something here you find helpful.   Be appropriately skeptical about new movements, new terminology, and new methods. If the church has gotten along pretty well without it for the past 2,000 years, it’s unlikely that …

40 Random Pieces of Advice for the Christian Life

Not every idea is worthy of an entire article. Hence, this one contain a long list of brief, random (and unsolicited) pieces of advice for living the Christian life, most of which I’ve gleaned from others over the course of the past 45 years. I hope there is something here that benefits you.   When offering counsel to others, always carefully distinguish between what the Bible says and what is simply your best attempt to apply wisdom to a particular …

The Great Stores of God’s Provision

I recently read an account of one of the world’s most dangerous and demanding races. Over the course of a week, participants must run nearly 300 kilometers over scorching desert terrain. Once they set out, they are expected to remain mostly independent and to follow a track that has been staked across flatlands and dunes, dry river beds and infrequent oases. To ensure participants have the provisions they need, the race organizers leave stores of food, water, and medical supplies …

We Must, We Can, Bloom for Him

Far down a desert road, far from the swarms of people crowding Bryce and Zion and the other big attractions, far from just about anything and anyone else, we pulled over and got out. Beneath us was parched ground, above us a vicious sky, before us a towering cactus. And there, under the dark clouds, there against the stark desert, there before the sharp thorns, we gazed at the bright beauty of gentle, precious flowers. We saw flowers in the …

Making the Christian Life More Complicated Than It Needs To Be

We sometimes make the Christian life more complicated than it needs to be and more complicated than it ought to be. For when it comes right down to it, God calls us to nothing more, and nothing less, than to obey. The only thing that really matters in any context or any circumstance is obedience to God’s will as it is revealed in God’s Word. Thus it is always necessary, and never superfluous, to search the Bible to know the …

A Master at Identifying Sin

I am a master at identifying sin. I might be tempted to brag about that fact, except for this: While I’m a master at identifying the sin in other people, I’m a mere novice at identifying the sin in myself. And I don’t think I’m the only one. There seems to be something deeply embedded in sinful humanity that gives us the ability to spot the sin in others but to ignore it in ourselves. We can provide a thorough …

My Great Daily Challenge As a Christian

The great daily challenge I face in Christian living is not a challenge of knowledge—I know what I need to know in order to live in a way that pleases God. It is not a challenge of discernment—there is rarely any great difficulty in distinguishing truth from error and right from wrong. It is not a challenge of ability—there is no temptation I cannot resist and no sin I cannot turn away from when I am indwelled by the Holy …