Apply the Word: Jesus is God, God Gives Rest

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This past Sunday my pastor preached on John 5 when Jesus heals a lame man at the pool of Bethesda. Not surprisingly, Jesus, in doing good, stirs up trouble for himself. First, he heals on the Sabbath, which upsets the Pharisees, who see this as breaking the Sabbath. Second, he asserts that he is God (cf. v 17-18), which also upsets the Pharisees. I want to focus on the first issue, because it is in fulfilling the Sabbath that Jesus demonstrates that he truly is who he claims to be.

When Jesus says in v 17 that he is doing God’s work, he is telling us that doing good on the Sabbath is not breaking the Sabbath but is actually the truest expression of the Sabbath. Rest as relief from the effects of the fall (e.g., sin and sickness) is what the Sabbath is all about. Hence Jesus says, “my Father has been working until now.” Jesus says deliverance from affliction and sin is the work God is doing as an expression of the Sabbath, and, therefore, he is doing the same. Our hope is that Christ will complete this work of redemption, and we will enter into that full and final rest in glory.

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Apply the Word: Faith Is Desperate

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I don’t like to feel needy. I don’t like it when life squeezes all the comfort and confidence out of me that I’ve come to rely on from day to day. I don’t like pain. My pastor recently preached on John 4, where we are introduced to a desperate man, in a lot of pain, who wasn’t afraid to confess his need.

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Apply the Word: The Shepherd Leads

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I’ve been remiss in sharing the articles I’m posting on my church’s blog. Here is some application from a sermon on Psalm 23. It’s titled, The Shepherd Leads, and it addresses God’s commitment to lead us all the way down the path of righteousness into his presence, where there is fullness of joy.

Click here to take a look.

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Weaned from False Hope

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I’m posting again for my church’s Apply the Word series. Below is an excerpt from my post and a link to the full article.

One of the questions that comes up any time we address the need for change is that of “How? How do I get from where I am to where I should be?” This Sunday, Benny (my pastor) preached from Psalm 131 on moving from anxious, harried, and haughty to peaceful and content in Christ.

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God Is in the Midst of Her: Thoughts on Psalm 46

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“When we face pain and difficulties in life, it can be tempting to feel alone, abandoned to our trouble. Indeed, one of the key elements of fear and anxiety is the feeling that we are facing our threat alone.”

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Understanding Your Control Issues

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Control Issues check

I like to control my money. Well, what I mean is, I can be controlling with money. Hmm, I guess what I’m saying is when it comes to money, I have control issues – just ask my wife. I want to be present at every shopping trip and to oversee the selection of every item to ensure we purchase nothing that I deem superfluous or wasteful. I don’t believe in “treats.” I like the bare minimum, and I want her to like it, too. I generally don’t give in to these invasive inclinations, because I also want my wife to be happy – especially with me. But I do instigate conflicts over spending on small things that, to me, represent a bigger problem. Through all of it I drive my (very gracious) wife crazy, as I try not to suffocate her with my spending idiosyncrasies. I have a control problem. Why?

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A Better Reality Part 2: The Gospel for Fantasy Addicts

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A Better Reality

Imagine someone who so feels they have failed at life that they escape the shame of the real world by immersing themselves in a virtual one (where there is some measure of success, relational pleasure, community, and so on). Imagine how this person’s consciousness of this ongoing neglect of responsibility only compounds the shame and guilt. And then imagine the impact of using insult to try to get him to stop playing his “stupid, childish” games (not an uncommon approach). This is not helpful. This is not the gospel way of applying grace and truth through kindness (Rom. 2:4), and it ignores the need to get to know people well if you are to be helpful to them.

In my last article, I presented a paradigm for understanding fantasy-addiction: the impulse towards pleasure over displeasure is the unifying theme between addicts and non-addicts. The difference is a matter of degree. There is no temptation that is not common to man (1 Cor. 10:13).

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A Better Reality Part 1: Understanding Fantasy-Addiction

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A Better Reality

In spite of the recent proliferation of publications on the epidemic of fantasy-addiction in our generation, many of us are still scratching our heads. Perhaps we understand that it’s an issue, but we don’t understand why or how it becomes an issue. If you’ve never seen the appeal of video games, or if you stopped playing them as soon as you were old enough to feel ashamed of being “less mature” than your peers, then you might balk at the notion of spending hours a day glued to a screen.

Sure, you might admit to enjoying the occasional throw-back game of Tetris® here and there, but you could never imagine being so absorbed in a game that you neglect work and family (and even hygiene in some cases!) in order to complete missions, raid dungeons, storm castles, and level up on an endless path to virtual victory. But a large section of our global society not only can imagine it – they do it. My contention is that the key to understanding this growing subculture is found in recognizing they are not as different from the rest of us as we think, and I want to offer a paradigm that might facilitate a deeper understanding of what can be, for many of us, a mysterious issue.

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Work-Life Balance Part 1: Meaning in the Monotony

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A different version of this article originally appeared on my church’s blog. Due to a friend’s recent critique, I’ve made a significant enough update to warrant reposting here. You can view part 2 here.

“Work-life balance” is a business-world buzzword that has seen its fair share of attention in the blogosphere. In basic terms, it’s the idea that a person needs to be careful not to spend so much time at work that he has no life. It’s received so much attention due to significant efforts to explain and remedy something of an epidemic of burnout among people in high-level, high-pressure positions throughout the country. Of course, even those of us at the bottom of the totem pole know what burnout feels like, and we know these people are on to something. If you have no life outside of work, then you never refresh, recharge, recoup, and something is going to give.

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