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The Immaturity of Addiction

A person who has practiced addictive behaviors for a good portion of his life once told me an insight he had been given. Though it came from a secular source, this observation rings true. He was told that one of the side effects of addiction to drugs and alcohol is immaturity. In fact, the counselor told the class my friend was attending that at the age you began to use intoxicating substances to get drunk or high in an ongoing way is the basic maturity level you currently have. For instance, if someone began to use drugs heavily at age sixteen and was now twenty-four, such areas as his mental, relational, and work maturity levels would roughly still be that of a teenager. You simply stop maturing very much when you do drugs.

This rule of thumb makes sense under closer observation. When someone begins to abuse substances repeatedly, they are often exchanging responsibility for pleasure. Many addicts enter this lifestyle to escape hard circumstances, trials, or truths about themselves they do not want to face. Consequently, the lessons they would have learned in meeting these situations, dealing with them constructively, and growing in maturity through them are lost opportunities. If you ever wonder […]

Screaming Life

I’m very happy to highly recommend the “for such a time as this” work and artistry of this sister in Christ.   Pastors and other Christian counselors take note:  If you want an experienced, empathetic, incisive, eye-opening and heart-enriching understanding of the broken, aimless hearts abounding in our culture, read Lacey Sturm’s The Reason   It’s quietly iconoclastic in tearing down the shallow cultural assessments and pseudo-spiritual advice offered up by pop-Christianity’s baptized agnosticism, which glorifies brokenness and uncertainty (so long as they’re experienced in community) as the marks of authentic, honest faith.  And its heartfelt substance fleshes out answers so often left as stillborn theological theory by writing efforts which rightly promote truth and our ability to know it with certainty, but which present it dry and cold to the reader, giving the unintended impression that God has nothing full of life to say to generations reared on the belief that he’s dead.      

C.S. Lewis on the Crux of the Problem

“How did the Dark Power [Satan] go wrong? Here, no doubt, we ask a question to which human beings cannot give an answer with any certainty. A reasonable (and traditional) guess, based on our own experiences of going wrong, can, however, be offered. The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting Yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.)

Countering the Happiness Project

The Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is to create a new government ministry—the country’s first ministry of happiness. It will be dedicated to “putting a smile on every face”. It also aims to track their smiling citizens’ growth in happiness.

The state’s chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, said, “The state will be made responsible for happiness and tolerance of its citizens and will rope in psychologists to counsel people on how to be always happy.”

The reason this caught my eye was that I was preparing to preach this Sabbath on “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”—so happiness had been uppermost in my contemplations this week. I had also been listening to a lecture Carl Trueman gave at our Shaftesbury Square congregation—and he unpacked a further level of significance to the quest for happiness.

Without being overdramatic I believe the pursuit of happiness (or The Great Happiness Project) lies at the root of many of society’s problems—both personal and social. Obviously I have no problem with happiness—I’m all for it—but the pursuit of it is the problem.

Trueman quotes American sociologist Philip Rieff who set out four stages of Western civilization:

‘Political Man’ of classical civilisation—man defined by the city and […]

Helping Rural America in Crisis

In a recent article Anthony Bradley, professor of religious studies at The King’s College in New York, drew attention to the “deadly crisis in rural America.” Citing analysis from The Washington Post and studies from the National Center for Health Statistics, Bradley noted the unusually high rate of suicides in rural areas. Such statistics, he believes, evidence the hopelessness, despair, and depression found in the same. Without giving any answers, he asks the provocative and necessary question: “Do conservative Protestants care? Have we traded off reaching hurt people with redemptive healing and hope for influence and power in places where Christians can have an ‘impact’ and ‘influence’ the culture? […] Why are evangelicals more excited about planting churches and missions in ‘alpha cities’ among artists, creatives, and professionals rather than the rural areas where people are suffering?”

As a pastor in rural America these questions resonate deeply with me. It is well documented that small town America rarely looks like Mayberry, and a lot like “Methland.” The crisis we witness in these areas is a crisis for the church. After all, hopelessness, despair, and depression can only be interpreted, mitigated, and worked through by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, it […]

Browse Worthy: Bathroom Battles

I never thought I’d have a blog post with this title.

With three children sharing a bathroom at home, we do sometimes have minor skirmishes in this area. Yet they are nothing like the battles going on in our culture. These conflicts cause us now to pause every time we are outside a public restroom door about what to do when we need to go.

Here are some perspectives to help.

Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?

John Piper packs some good theology into this article about not following the agenda of this world, but then does give his direct answer:

So, in answer to the last part of the question, Would you, John Piper, use a gender open restroom even if it says men on the door? My answer is, If I were there and if I had to, I would — just like I would stop on the highway if I had to. But I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to. And the reason I wouldn’t is because I want there to be a small act of protest and life consistency that may have no impact at all on the powers that make such decisions, but that keep my conscience clear and acknowledge God in […]

Answering This Generation’s Question of Essential Identity

Each news cycle brings with it one more saga about sexual and gender identity. North Carolina establishing bathroom laws against transgender usage. The mayor of New York City restricting travel to the state of North Carolina to boycott this action. The Obama administration issuing a directive late last week mandating public schools and other institutions receiving certain federal grants to give transgender students access to bathrooms or face the risk of the loss of funds or even lawsuits. The lieutenant governor of Texas declaring they will forfeit the funds rather than comply. As Trevin Wax, Russell Moore, and other are pointing out, the ramifications of these actions on society and the church are great.

At the heart of this issue and related ones is the fundamental question of identity. Repeatedly, when proponents of gay, lesbian, and transgender rights speak, they use the terminology of self-identification. This generation is trying to discover itself and, in the spirit of this postmodern age, looks within to find the answer.

The most well-known example of this inward-turning search for identity is seen in Bruce Jenner. Not long ago he self-identified as a woman, began dressing then went through procedures to become such, and now calls himself Caitlyn. He appeared as […]

Touching Elisha’s Bones

Remember the story surrounding the death and burial of Elisha, the great prophet of Israel?  The one who possessed a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and who directly opposed the wickedness and false worship of his day, had recently died and been laid to rest.  When some Israelites were in the process of burying another man, the funeral was interrupted by yet another attack, courtesy of their neighboring enemies the Moabites. In their haste to get away, the pall bearers quickly tossed the dead man into the still-opened tomb of Elisha.  The Scriptures say that as soon as this dead man “touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet” (see II Kings 13:20-21).

I do not recall who first told me to think this way, but similarly we in the modern church need to “touch the bones” of godly ones in whom the Spirit of God clearly manifested himself. We should study their lives, read their works, and be led by them into the Scriptures.  When this study leads us to come in contact with the same God they knew, we can be revived and stand on our feet ready to meet the issues that confront the church […]