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Archive for November, 2012

Why Am I So Unhappy?

I Am My Worst Enemy

Why are so many people so unhappy in so many different circumstances? Why are so many Christians, who supposedly have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in their hearts, so not joyful?

At first glance it would seem that circumstances are to blame. Can you blame a guy for being unhappy when he hasn’t had steady work for six months and he might lose his home? You wouldn’t think so, until you meet the six-figure Christian businessman who hates his job and is just hanging on until retirement. The twenty-something single woman doesn’t think she can be happy until she gets married and has children. But the thirty-something housewife with four kids can barely make it through the week without collapsing in a trembling heap of exhaustion. Circumstances aren’t to blame. There’s something much more sinister at work.

That something is my sinful, discontented heart. Jesus spelled it out in Mark 7:21–23 when he said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” The problem is me. I am my own worst enemy. The raging, covetous, discontented desires come from within. They’re not the product of my circumstances, and the desires won’t be satisfied when circumstances change.

First it’s marriage. We dream about meeting that perfect someone—a person who likes long walks and French poetry and is kind toward animals and strangers alike. Or at least someone who is decent looking and doesn’t have a criminal record. Finally, after years of yearning, the wedding day arrives. But the idol factory doesn’t shut down after the wedding day. As soon as the marriage god is appeased, the factory belches forth the idol of a new house. Then it’s a new car, an end-of-year bonus, and a sweet retirement package. There’s no downtime, no coffee break, no union strike in the factory of our hearts. They are constantly churning, constantly stirring up discontentment, constantly producing new idols.

Then “catastrophe” strikes. The dream promotion is handed to someone else. A relationship never materializes. Our desires are thwarted, and we don’t get what we want. When we don’t get what we so desperately want, we throw the adult version of a temper tantrum. Our passions rage within us. We become angry at God and discontent with life. We grumble and complain, and happiness appears to be out of reach. We become a casualty of war.

Shutting Down The Factory

So is there any hope for raging discontents like me? Can the circus of discontentment in my heart ever be stopped? Thankfully, it can. In Philippians 4:11–12 the apostle Paul said, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

These words should startle us and cause us to catch our breath. Paul says that he has learned to be content in every situation. Not just happy, comfortable, “why, yes, I will have another latte” situations. Every situation.

Paul could find contentment in any season and any circumstance. He knew how to be brought low, and few people were brought lower than Paul. He was thrown into filthy prisons, savagely beaten with rods, stoned within a breath of death, whipped until his back was a bloody, dripping mess, driven out of cities, betrayed by friends, and shipwrecked on multiple occasions. In the midst of all this, Paul found contentment. The difficulties faced by Paul make my life look like a Boy Scout campout.

Paul also knew how to be content in the midst of prosperity. Prosperity and contentment don’t always go together. In fact, they rarely do. Rich people are unhappy just like everyone else. Members of the yacht club need to learn contentment too.

In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul says of contentment, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment.” False teachers were invading Timothy’s church and telling people that if they were godly they would also be rich, that if they followed Jesus, they would get their Lexus chariot or Rolex sundial or whatever it was they wanted. But Paul won’t have any of that nonsense. He says that following Jesus isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. If you follow Jesus, you will have every spiritual need met. Forgiveness, adoption, spiritual strength, everything. And if we have all our spiritual needs met and are content with what we have, that is great gain. If we have every spiritual need met and are content with what we have, what more could we want? We have everything we need for joy. Following a Jesus genie who gives us whatever we want is not great gain. Contentment is great gain.

If you need any further motivation to pursue contentment, there you have it. Godliness + Contentment = Great Gain. I’m into gain. And when God himself, speaking through the Scriptures, says that something is great gain, we need to pay close attention.

Adapted from The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence, by Stephen Altrogge

November 29, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | 1 Comment »

3 Limitations We Face In Ministry, and What We Can Do About Them

First, we can only be at one place at one time, which means that Jesus will teach most of us to live a local life. We will resist and want to act like we are omnipresent. But he will patiently teach us that as human beings we cannot be, and this admission will glorify God. Others will likewise resist Jesus and want you to be omnipresent. They will use his name to praise or critique you accordingly, but they too will have to learn that only Jesus can be with them wherever they are at all times. This fact is actually good news for them and for us.

Second, we cannot do everything that needs to be done, which means that Jesus will teach us to live with the things that we can neither control nor fix. We will want to resist Jesus and act as if we are omnipotent, but we will harm others and ourselves when we try. Others will also resist Jesus. Using his name, they will praise or critique us according to their desire that we fix everything for them and that we do it immediately. But they will have to learn too that only Jesus can fix everything and that there are some things Jesus leaves unfixed for his glory.

Third, we are unable to know everyone or everything, which means that Jesus will teach us to live with ignorance, our own and others’. In other words, we are not omniscient. Jesus will require us to stop pretending that we are. Others will resist Jesus and in his name praise us or critique us on the basis of their estimation of what we should know. They will have to learn that only Jesus knows everything they need; his invitation to faith and to trust in his knowing is a good one.

What Do You Need to Surrender?

Ask yourself this question: Which are you more tempted to pretend that you are: an everywhere-for-all, a fix-it-all, or a know-it-all? What do you feel you will lose if you stop pretending in these ways and entrust yourself to Jesus?

Jesus invites everywhere-for-alls, fix-it-alls, and know-it-alls to the cross, the empty tomb, and the throne of his grace for their time of need.

Adapted from Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being, by Zack Eswine

November 27, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Church Leadership,Church Ministry,Life / Doctrine | Author: Crossway Author @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Introducing 2 Greek-English Editions for New Testament Study

Crossway is pleased to add to its original language Bibles with the release of two new Greek-English New Testaments—one print, and one digital. Regardless of your experience with Greek, these are two resources that will benefit your studies.

 

Greek-English New Testament: Nestle-Aland 28th Edition and English Standard Version

This is an essential volume for students, pastors, and scholars who work with the Greek New Testament. On each spread, one page displays the Nestle-Aland Greek text, 28th edition, while the adjacent page contains the corresponding ESV text. It’s available from Crossway for $60 (sign up for Crossway Impact and get it at 50% off until the end of November).

Interior spread of the Greek-English New Testament

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See also Crossway’s Hebrew-English Old Testament

 

Greek-English Parallel New Testament ebook: NA27—ESV

The Greek-English Parallel New Testament features the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece text and the English Standard Version New Testament. Each verse in the Greek text appears above the same verse in the ESV translation. A two-level, interactive Table of Contents and improved navigation make it easy to move between passages. The Greek-English Parallel New Testament is the first Greek-English parallel ebook to contain both the Nestle-Aland Greek Text (27th revised edition) as well as a major, copyrighted English translation. It’s available on all major ebook platforms. Buy it on Crossway.org for $19.99.

Layout of the Greek-English Parallel New Testament

November 21, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,Digital News,E-Books,News | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Freed to Feast on God’s Goodness

This week kicks off the holiday season. Many homes will be bustling with family and friends, pumpkin pie, turkey, cranberries, and Christmas tree shopping (or assembling). There are many gifts to be thankful for and to enjoy. As we partake in them, Jared Wilson encourages us to recognize the “it-ness” of these gifts:

“We cannot really enjoy the good gifts God gives us until he, as their Giver, is our greatest joy. We will be left trying to enjoy his gifts for things they are not, rather than the things they are.

“In Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis credited a close friend with cultivating in him ‘a serious, yet gleeful, determination to rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being (so magnificently) what it was.’ John Piper echoes this enjoyment of quiddity, commenting on this kind of awareness: ‘To wake up in the morning and be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the sheer being of things. . . .’

“If I don’t believe the gospel, I will miss out on the joy of the it-ness of things. I will be looking to these things as drugs, as appetite-fillers, as fulfillers, as powers, as gods, as worshipers of the god of myself.

“If steak or wine or coffee or chocolate or anything else other than God is the highlight of my day or the ultimate joy of my heart, my joy is temporary, hollow, thin. But if I believe in the gospel, I can finally enjoy the chocolate-ness of chocolate and the coffee-ness of coffee. Only the gospel frees me to enjoy things as they truly are and as they someday will be.

“The gospel is itself a feast, the culmination of all the legal feasts and the saving sustenance behind the symbolic meal of the Lord’s body at the Communion table. We have to eat his flesh and drink his blood to live, the same way we have to eat food and drink water to live. Without him we will die. But with him we are not set at the table of the divine fellowship to sip on the thin gruel of religion. We are adorned with the best robe, welcomed with a hearty slap on the back, commanded and urged and freed to feast on God’s goodness.

“The heart of God is vast, his grace is free, his gospel is exhilarating.”

From Gospel Deeps by Jared Wilson. Learn more about the book or download a free excerpt.

November 19, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Holidays,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 1:00 pm | 0 Comments »

Introducing “Powered by Glo” ESV Bible Apps

Crossway and Immersion Digital have collaborated on two new apps for the iPhone and iPad that pair the award-winning 2009 Bible of the Year (ESV Study Bible) with the award-winning 2010 Bible of the Year (Glo Bible).

The ESV “powered by Glo” apps will allow users to access any Bible chapter or verse in just two taps. Every page of the Bible features relevant videos, artwork, photos, and virtual tours, resulting in an interactive experience that gives users the full 360-degree view of the Bible. The entire Bible and related media are also organized through unique browsing “lenses,” allowing users to sort and search the Bible in a variety of ways, including the “Me” lens, which contains a journal and Bible reading plans. This lens also gives users the ability to connect to social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, integrating relevant posts so users can see what their friends are sharing from the Bible.

The ESV Bible app is available now for free in the app store, and the ESV Study Bible app is available at an introductory price of $19.99. Users of the original Glo Bible app can now get the ESV translation in-app for $2.99 as well as unlock access to the ESV Study Bible resources.

 

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,Digital News,Mobile Apps,News | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | (25) Comments »