The Christian and Joy

Derek Thomas:

The Holy Spirit has exhorted the faithful to continue clapping their hands for joy until the advent of the promised Redeemer,” wrote John Calvin in a comment on Psalm 47:12. Paul would heartily concur! Writing from a prison cell from which he had no certain knowledge of escaping other than to his execution, joy is what came to mind. Joy is what the epistle to the Philippians is all about. So much is Philippians about joy that George B. Duncan once referred to it as “the life of continual rejoicing.” The opposite of joy is misery, and miserable is something we are not meant to be. The Reformers caught the centrality of joy in the affections of Christians when they insisted that our chief goal in life is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever” (WSC, Q. 1).

Christians are tempted, of course, to be discouraged and depressed by the force of overwhelming circumstances. But in such circumstances, we must tell ourselves that we have no right to feel the way we do! Paul, who knew what it was to be in prison, to be beaten and spat upon, to be cold shouldered and ignored, commands us to rejoice, despite what we may feel: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).

Joy Portrayed


Megaphones for Christ

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 This letter is from Paul and Silas and Timothy. It is to you, the church, in the city of Thessalonica. You belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May you have His loving-favor and His peace.

2 We thank God for you all the time and pray for you. 3 While praying to God our Father, we always remember your work of faith and your acts of love and your hope that never gives up in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 Christian brothers, we know God loves you and that He has chosen you. 5 The Good News did not come to you by word only, but with power and through the Holy Spirit. You knew it was true. You also knew how we lived among you. It was for your good. 6 You followed our way of life and the life of the Lord. You suffered from others because of listening to us. But you had the joy that came from the Holy Spirit. 7 Because of your good lives, you are showing all the Christians in the countries of Macedonia and Greece how to live. 8 The Word of the Lord has been spoken by you in the countries of Macedonia and Greece. People everywhere know of your faith in God without our telling them. 9 The people themselves tell us how you received us when we came to you. They talk of how you turned to God from worshiping false gods. Now you worship the true and living God. 10 They tell us how you are waiting for His Son Jesus to come down from heaven. God raised Him from the dead. It is Jesus Who will save us from the anger of God that is coming.

Have you ever attended a professional sports event? Thousands upon thousands of people scream and cheer loudly, as if their shouts were actually willing their side to victory. People certainly get excited about their favorite sports teams.

How many believers do you know who put that same passion and intensity into their faith? How often do you proclaim the saving truth of Jesus Christ as loudly as a football fan proclaims his or her allegiance?

In his letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul rejoices in the young congregation’s passion for telling the world about Christ. Because the city was a busy seaport, he knew that the church there had the ear of the entire world. Travelers would hear the gospel and then take it back and share it with their own communities.

Paul praised the Thessalonians because “the word of the Lord has sounded forth” from them (1 Thess. 1:8). Our heavenly Father wants the same to be true of His children today. Before there were any microphones or loudspeakers, a long, curved device known as a sounding board was used to amplify a public speaker’s voice. We can think of the Thessalonians as living amplifiers who proclaimed Jesus Christ to the world. And we should emulate them.

If you’re a “fan” of Jesus, then you have the responsibility of sharing with the world who He is and what He has done for you. Shout it from the rooftops! Fill entire stadiums with the thunder of your praise! Don’t just show the people around you who your favorite sports team is. Make sure they know who your Savior is as well.

~ Andy Stanley

Fifteen Tactics for Joy

~ John Piper

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

How shall we fight for joy?

  1. Realize that authentic joy in God is a gift.
  2. Realize that joy must be fought for relentlessly.
  3. Resolve to attack all known sin in your life.
  4. Learn the secret of gutsy guilt — how to fight like a justified sinner.
  5. Realize that the battle is primarily a fight to see God for who he is.
  6. Meditate on the Word of God day and night.
  7. Pray earnestly and continually for open heart-eyes and an inclination for God.
  8. Learn to preach to yourself rather than listen to yourself.
  9. Spend time with God-saturated people who help you see God and fight the fight.
  10. Be patient in the night of God’s seeming absence.
  11. Get the rest, exercise, and proper diet that your body was designed by God to have.
  12. Make a proper use of God’s revelation in nature.
  13. Read great books about God and biographies of great saints.
  14. Do the hard and loving thing for the sake of others (witness and mercy).
  15. Get a global vision for the cause of Christ and pour yourself out for the unreached.

God . . . good friends

Hod us fast

A good prayer for all


A relevant church

Relevant chrch

4 Christlike Characteristics of a Biblical Comforter

Selections from Escape from Church, Inc

by E. Glenn Wagner, First Vice-President of Promise Keepers, Author of Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, The Awesome Power of Shared Beliefs, etc. Pastor of Calvary Church, Charlotte, NC

Glenn speaks to both relationships/community and shepherding as THE primary purpose of the church and its leaders.

(p. 9) How do we bring men and women into an ever-deepening relationship with God and with one another in the body of Christ? That question has consumed me for many years now. I have believed for a long time that Christians yearn for the kind of relationships they see in the Scriptures, but they don’t know how to develop them.

(p. 11) For many years I had struggled with the question, How do we do church? I went to all the seminars, just like everyone else. I attended How to Be a Better Manager, How to Do Strategic Planning, How to Lead, How to Grow a Church, ad infinitum. I read hundreds of books on church growth and leadership development, both Christian and secular. And all the while I tried to analyze my frustrations with ministry Certainly I had enjoyed some successes, but I also sensed that there had to be more than just buying the latest, hottest program.

( p. 17) A subtle heresy has crept into the evangelical church. It seemed innocent enough at first, since it came from people who love Jesus Christ and his church. These folks meant well and sincerely wanted to stem the tide that has been threatening to engulf us. But the end is worse than the beginning.

The problem? Like Esau, we pastors have sold our biblical birthright as shepherds called by God for the pottage of skills and gimmicks designed by humans. We have misunderstood the role of pastor and defined it incorrectly. We have left our biblical and theological moorings.

(p. 30) One of our friends — one of the few who is still passionate about ministry — pastors a difficult church. If that church doesn’t kill him, nothing can. In twenty years, my friend has not lost a bit of his passion to be a shepherd. He leads a church of over a thousand, but he still visits individuals in the congregation. He still gets with them personally and lets them know by his actions that he loves them. He’s not merely the guy in the corner office.

Recently my friend confessed, “Glenn, everyone tells me that I have to be a rancher. But I’m a shepherd, not a rancher. So every Thursday, I randomly visit people who are not among the Who’s Who of the church. Every week, go see some of my lesser-known sheep. I keep a list people who aren’t that involved. I seek them out and minister to them because I am a shepherd. I believe that if I love my sheep, this church will grow and produce.”

(p. 54) A few things are certain. We live in a universe created by a Shepherd God. The Lord is our Shepherd. Our world is redeemed by a Shepherd Savior. Our elder brother is a shepherd.

The man whom humanity most needs is a shepherd. Every messenger of Christ is sent to do a shepherd’s work. We are to stand at last before a shepherd Judge. God is going to separate the good shepherds from the shepherds who are bad. The questions which every pastor must meet and answer are three: “Did you feed my lambs? Did you tend my sheep? Did you feed my sheep?”

(p. 192) This principle explains why God created the church. He intended it to be the ultimate community for life transformation. God designed the church to be the primary setting in which we can be equipped and challenged to encourage and help one another.

For some reason, however, we have gravitated toward building models based on tasks rather than on relationships. That’s why many people today say that the church feels more like a corporation than a community. The tragedy is that men and women in need depend on various support groups outside the church because we haven’t figured out what it means to be community.

(p. 193) Nearly all of the terms God uses in the Bible to talk about the church are relational.

Certainly the church has tasks to complete, but they all flow out of the relational model. The fact is, the New Testament couches virtually all its instruction about spiritual growth and development in relational terms.

A genuinely caring church develops only when people understand who they are and what they are called to be in Christ. Effective churches universally emphasize connected, relational ministry.

(p. 232) What would happen if we turned once more to the Bible’s central model for pastors?

What would happen in our neighborhoods, our communities, even our nation if pastors took seriously God’s call to shepherd the flock of God?

I believe a church led by caring shepherds would provide such a radically appealing vision of human life that our secular, fragmented society couldn’t help but clamor to get inside. Could God be withholding his hand of revival until our churches are graced with pastor-shepherds at the helm? I believe he could be — and that is another reason I am so passionate that we rediscover the wisdom of God’s shepherd model.

(p. 233) Pollster George Barna often declares that the reason many non-Christians reject our message is not that they disagree with our theology but because our professions of faith ring hollow. We live no differently than they do, so why should they become one of us? They hear our PR pieces about the church being a family, but it feels like a corporation to them. They hear that it’s a community, but they see no evidence. They’re told the church is a body, but they wonder, If that’s true, why do I feel so ignored and disenfranchised?

(p. 240) In his sovereignty God may choose to prosper even our errant efforts, but I don’t think we best display his heart that way.

While God doesn’t always judge methods that do not align with Scripture, he is under no obligation to bless them either. We must ask ourselves, Are we really experiencing his blessing?

Is God pleased with us? When outsiders see us, do they see the community of God?

(p. 242) Because our people have not, by and large, been taught a sound ecclesiology, if you were to ask the average man or woman in the pew why the church exists, you’d get five answers from three people. Our reason for existence is simply not well understood.

Some believe the church exists to win the lost. That’s a great task, but is it really why the church exists? Others say we exist to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. But what does that mean? What does it look like? (Some questions sound almost heretical, but ask them anyway.

I agree with those who doubt that the Great Commission is our starting point. In fact, I think when you make the Great Commission the starting point, you actually violate the heart of God.

As John Piper has observed, “missions exists because worship doesn’t.” Missions is not the priority; worship is. One day missions will be no more, but worship is forever.

God created the church to reflect his image, to be a community that both invites and embraces everyone near it. Authentic community, real family, is enormously attractive, even contagious. There’s just something about it that people can’t resist!

Prepare your kids

A young Christian I know who’s an undergraduate student posted on Facebook recently about a humanities class he’s taking. He said that, so far in the semester, he’s “learned” the following: Jesus never claimed to be God in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Christianity borrowed ideas from earlier pagan myths, and the church arbitrarily picked which books to include in the Bible according to its own biases. He noted, “The reactions of other students are of shock and disbelief. Yesterday the professor asked a student how these facts made her feel. She said she was mad and couldn’t wait to go yell at her pastor and parents. The professor egged her on. It was like watching a commander rally up his troops to tear down his enemy.”

The girl in the class was presumably ready to throw out years of Christian upbringing after a couple of months in a single college class. All because she heard some standard claims against Christianity for the first time…

~ Natasha Crain, If Your Kids Are Someday Shocked by the Claims of Skeptics, You Didn’t Do Your Job

The text of the NT

In the telephone game the goal is to garble an original utterance so that by the end of the line it doesn’t resemble the original at all. There’s only one line of transmission, it is oral rather than written, and the oral critic (the person who is trying to figure out what the original utterance was) only has the last person in line to interrogate.

When it comes to the text of the NT, there are multiple lines of transmission, and the original documents were almost surely copied several times (which would best explain why they wore out by the end of the second century). Further, the textual critic doesn’t rely on just the last person in the text of the NT, but can interrogate many scribes over the centuries, way back to the second century. And even when the early manuscript testimony is sparse, we have the early church fathers’ testimony as to what the original text said. Finally, the process is not intended to be a parlor game but is intended to duplicate the original text faithfully — and this process doesn’t rely on people hearing a whole utterance whispered only once, but seeing the text and copying it. The telephone game is a far cry from the process of copying manuscripts of the NT.

~ Daniel B. Wallace, An Interview with Daniel B. Wallace