In My Web: “Church Small Talk Was More Important Than I Thought”

In My Web is a series of short blog posts about articles that stuck out to me online.

Article“Church Small Talk Was More Important Than I Thought” by Megan Hill for The Gospel Coalition

After almost a year of life in a COVID world, it’s good to step back and consider what has changed in our lives and what is still missing. While I’m so grateful to have been able to gather with my church family in-person for months now, Megan Hill’s recent Gospel Coalition article reminded me that not everything is as it once was. It seems one of the chief casualties in church life is the sometimes awkward, but often humanizing art of small talk. Hill laments the dearth of this in the church in a pandemic-laden world:

I may be an introvert, but I miss talking to the little kids who used to swarm my pew after the service and now worship with their parents in a kid-friendly overflow room and leave by a separate door. I miss joking with the teens in their pre-pandemic back-row huddle. I miss the dozens of casual relationships that were refreshed, five minutes at a time, over coffee in the pink-carpeted fellowship hall.

Hill believes that casual relationships, the ones often comprised of snippets of small talk, are not only psychologically healthful, but also Biblically encouraged. In fact, she states: “It might be impossible to imagine Jesus without his beloved disciple John, or Paul without his beloved son Timothy, but it would also be wrong to think of them without dozens of looser bonds that supported their ministries and refreshed their hearts.”

In the end, Hill contends that small talk is more than just “useless chatter.” In fact, it’s part of the process by which we establish and reaffirm mutual trust in our relationships. She says:

We may love to dismiss small talk as useless chatter, but by demonstrating interest in others’ seemingly insignificant matters, we establish the trust to care for them in bigger trials too. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) are commands for the small events as well as the large.

Hill’s perspective is refreshing. While there is certainly a missed opportunity in never moving beyond small talk, especially for those we’ve known for some time, I think it’s also unwise to downplay the vital trust-building that takes place when we ask each other about school, work, the kids, hobbies or the local sports team. If God is sovereign over all things, then even mundane conversations about the weather or work are valuable opportunities to connect with another image-bearer and glorify the God who made us both.

Over and Over

On my worst days, when I’ve opened my Bible in the morning or sat in church on Sunday, I’m pretty sure I’ve had the grouchy thought, “Don’t I already know this. Why do I need to hear this again?” Maybe you can relate with me. You come ready to hear something new and fresh, but instead, you’re engaging a Biblical text or truth you feel you’ve already plumbed the depths of. So, why do you and I need to hear the same truth over and over?

Dane Ortlund, in his outstanding 2020 book, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers, argues this,

“The Christian life, from one angle, is the long journey of letting our natural assumptions about who God is, over many decades, fall away, being slowly replaced with God’s own insistence on who he is. This is hard work. It takes a lot of sermons and a lot of suffering to believe that God’s deepest heart is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger.’ The fall in Genesis 3 not only sent us into condemnation and exile. The fall also entrenched in our minds dark thoughts of God, thoughts that are only dug out over multiple exposures to the gospel over many years. Perhaps Satan’s greatest victory in your life today is not the sin in which you regularly indulge but the dark thoughts of God’s heart that cause you to go there in the first place and keep you cool toward him in the wake of it” (pg. 151-152).

I think Ortlund is spot-on. Instead of viewing my latest read through Exodus or hearing of a sermon on David and Goliath as a teeth-gritting spiritual chore, I should instead humble myself to see it as a profound kindness of my patient, merciful God. God knows the prideful stubbornness of my heart. He knows that I need time, repetition, and as Ortlund wisely notes, suffering, for my distorted natural assumptions of Him to crumble and be replaced by a truer vision of His heart for me and His people.

So, next time you find yourself wondering, “This again?”, remember that God knows what you need better than you do, and He’s not opposed to using “over and over” for your long-term good.

In My Web: “I’m so Grateful That I’m among the Elect”

In My Web is a series of short blog posts about articles that stuck out to me online.

Article“I’m so Grateful That I’m among the Elect” by D.A. Carson for Themelios

Appreciated this brief, but poignant reminder of the blessing of being part of the elect by faith in Jesus Christ. Quoting from the letter of a young Christian widow, Carson shares:

I believe myself to be constantly and undeservedly blessed, disproportionately upheld and provided for, unexpectedly finding myself surrounded by joy, peace, hope, love, wonderful people and uplifting children. My life has been rescued and redeemed over and over again despite my relentless failures and flaws. I have a genuine sense of “Why me?” in a good way.

Amen and Amen!

The young Christian widow that Carson quotes in his editorial also references a wonderful song by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, “The perfect wisdom of our God.” To close out this post, take a moment to read the lyrics below and even listen to the song. It will do your soul good.

The perfect wisdom of our God
Revealed in all the universe:
All things created by His hand
And held together at His command.
He knows the mysteries of the seas,
The secrets of the stars are His;
He guides the planets on their way
And turns the earth through another day.

The matchless wisdom of His ways
That mark the path of righteousness;
His word a lamp unto my feet,
His Spirit teaching and guiding me.
And O the mystery of the cross,
That God should suffer for the lost,
So that the fool might shame the wise,
And all the glory might go to Christ!

O grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
“Your perfect will in Your perfect way.

In My Web: “Win, lose or brawl”

In My Web is a series of short blog posts about articles that stuck out to me online.

Article“Win, lose, or brawl” by Jamie Dean for World Magazine

Amidst all of the political turmoil and uncertainty American Christians are dealing with right now, I really appreciated a couple of the quotes toward the end of this article. One of them was by Pastor Adam Mabry of Aletheia Church in Boston, Mass. Mabry said:

“When you feel the nagging draw of anxiety … remember your King is on the throne already. While the outcome may change the moment, it changes neither the mission nor eternity. The world is desperate for a people who are secure enough in grace that they can flourish under Caesar, whoever he or she may be.”

What a beautiful and powerful reminder! Our response to this election whether it goes the way we hoped or not is an excellent opportunity to be salt and light in a world whose celebrated “chariots and horses” will ultimately fall short (Psalm 20:7-8).

Dean later quotes C.S. Lewis who said in his own tumultuous time 70 years ago:

“If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends … not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.”

Lewis added that this kind of fear and unease after a season of national prosperity could actually be a gift if it awakens Christian service and engagement with others about Biblical truth: “We have been waked from a pretty dream, and now we can begin to talk about realities.”

May God help American Christians, myself included, not to be found sleepy, anxious, distracted or dividing. Our King is on His throne. Let’s securely live in the reality of His unchanging grace and truth.

Let’s Read: Target Tokyo

I recently finished reading James M. Scott’s 2015 book, Target Tokyo: Jimmy Doolittle and the Raid That Avenged Pearl Harbor. The book details the bold and surprising U.S. bombing attack against Japan in April 1942, just months after Pearl Harbor. Scott’s book did an excellent job of bringing this audacious attack to life and took great pains to detail what happened to the airmen after they bombed the Japanese mainland. I also appreciated Scott’s nuanced approach to the topic. He didn’t simply explore the heroics of the American forces, but also examined how the attack likely led to the deaths of 250,000 innocent Chinese at the hands of savage Japanese army, deaths that the American leaders were aware could take place but deemed an acceptable risk. In short, while the famous Doolittle raid was successful in both attacking Japan and raising American morale, it also has a dark underbelly not to be forgotten.

However, what I most appreciated about this book came late in the story when a handful of the American airman are languishing in a brutal Japanese prison in Nanking, China. To this point, the airmen have experienced enormous amounts of torture, starvation, sickness and solitary confinement. Frankly, their trials were hard to read about at times.

Nevertheless, in the middle of this darkness, a brilliant, redemptive light shines through. On pg. 446 (of the Kindle version), Scott details that one of the airmen, Robert Hite, asked the Japanese prison commandant for a Bible. To this point, the airmen had almost nothing to do all day, but wallow in their pain, hunger and hopelessness. Surprisingly, though, a KJV Bible was provided to them (with a $1.97 price tag still on it!). Since the suffering airmen had nothing else to do, they began to pour over the Bible, passing it from cell to cell. Soon, the airmen’s perspective and attitude toward their guards began to change.

Jacob DeShazer

One of the airmen, Jacob DeShazer, stated, “‘The way the Japanese treated me, I had to turn to Christ.” He added, “‘No matter what they did to me, I prayed. I prayed for the strength to live. And I prayed for the strength, somehow, to find forgiveness for what they were doing to me’” (pg. 446). Amazingly, as Scott records, the airmen’s “hostility and anger” just “vanished” (pg. 446). Instead, DeShazer even attempted to befriend one of the guards. Each day he would ask the guard how he was doing with a smile. Scott records what happened, “To his surprise after six days of this the guard presented DeShazer with a sweet potato. ‘Boy,’ he thought. ‘This really works'” (pg. 447).

However, DeShazer’s transformation was far from complete. While in prison, Scott records that DeShazer “decided there in that awful cell in Nanking that if he survived the war he would return to Japan as a missionary. He felt his burden lift. ‘Hunger, starvation, and a freezing cold prison cell no longer had horrors for me. They would be only a passing moment. Even death could hold no threat when I knew that God had saved me,’ he recalled. ‘There will be no pain, no suffering, no sorrow, no loneliness in heaven'” (pg. 447).

Incredibly, after the war, Scott details that “Jacob DeShazer followed through with his vow to return to Japan as a missionary … Over more than three decades, he would go on to start twenty-three churches, including one in Nagoya, the city he had first seen through a bombardier’s sight. In an unlikely twist of fate, DeShazer’s powerful tale of forgiveness helped persuade Mitsuo Fuchida to convert to Christianity, the famed pilot who had led the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fuchida was baptized in DeShazer’s church. ‘I was very lost,’ he later said, ‘but his story inspired me to get the Bible’” (pg. 477-478).

All I can say is WOW! I was not expecting to read that at the end of a gritty, sobering book, and yet it shouldn’t surprise me. God can do what seems impossible. He can transform dead hearts and make them alive. He can turn former enemies into not just friends, but brothers in Christ. What a mighty, powerful, redeeming God there is who speaks to us in the Bible!

Let’s Dream (Small) Together!

balloon-1046658_640While teleworking from home during the quarantine, I’ve been listening to a fair bit of Pandora (Jon Foreman station, especially). One of the songs I’m particularly enjoyed lately is Josh Wilson’s “Dream Small.” The song celebrates the “small things” of a life lived in love for God and others. It talks about Christian mothers singing songs about the Lord and fathers spending time with their families. It highlights a faithful pastor who’s been shepherding the same flock for forty years. It encourages visiting widows and dancing with special needs friends. It commends listening and praying. Through all of these “small things,” things we tend to take for granted, overlook or downplay, Wilson believes God can do great things. Simply put, according to Wilson, “…These simple moments change the world.” And I cannot agree more with him.

However, what’s struck the deepest chord with me is the call Wilson gives to embracing the moment, the place where God has called you. It’s one thing to know intellectually that each moment matters. It’s another thing to allow that truth to flow down into how and where you actually live your everyday life. Wilson sings, “Dream small / Don’t buy the lie you’ve gotta do it all / Just let Jesus use you where you are / One day at a time.” He then goes on to sing, “Live well / Loving God and others as yourself / Find little ways where only can help…” I think Wilson is touching on something critical here. In today’s world where we have so many options, where the grass is always greener in the next Facebook scroll, the next show, the next game, the next job, the next church, Wilson reminds us of the ancient path (Jeremiah 6:16) – the path of love for God and love for neighbor. This is the path where we don’t measure success by how many possessions we’ve acquired or how many experiences we’ve had or how perfectly we’ve insulated ourselves from all harm. No, it’s the path where we choose to lovingly embrace the broken place and broken people God has placed us around for as long as God should allow us to tarry there. This is the stuff of a meaningful, well-lived life, even if no-one cares or remembers.  

For me, this is comforting, because sometimes I feel like I’m falling behind. Am I where God wants me? Am I doing what God wants me to do? Am I missing out on something? How can I squeeze more productivity, more pleasure out of the 16-17 hours I am awake each day? Yet as Wilson reminds me, I can’t do it all. It’s a lie. Rather, the truth is that God made me, yes, even seemingly small, insignificant (in the world’s standards) me, and placed me exactly where He wants me in this season of my life. Instead of getting lost in visions of what my future will be or what my past could have been, God wants to embrace the moment He’s called me to live in and “dream small.” He wants me to love my family and friends, to serve in my local church, to be a good employee, to talk with my neighbors (using proper social distancing!), to offer up what I have in service to Him and others each day and trust that in His BIG plan, He will use my small contributions for His good purposes. In doing so, I am truly fulfilling the purpose for which I was created – to love God and enjoy Him forever. Friend, in the midst of the mundane, I find that profoundly encouraging and motivating, and I hope you do, too. So, yes, Josh Wilson, let’s dream – and dream small!

2020 Goals Update & More!

img_20171219_100654382It’s already April? Where has the time gone! As I continue to quarantine with my family, I thought it would be good to step back and consider where I’m at with my 2020 goals. I also want to share about five things I’ve been enjoying lately. Maybe your interest will be piqued, and you can enjoy them, too!

So, first, let’s get to the goals. Here’s a brief list of my 2020 goals and an update on how I’m doing:

  • Read the Bible more – My goal was to use the 5-day Bible Reading Program during the week and then on the weekends, use a 12-week study on 1 Corinthians. At this point, even though I’m a day or so behind, I’m still plugging along with the 5-day Bible Reading Program. However, I’ve sidelined the 12-week study. I feel the 5-day program gives me plenty of Scripture to ruminate on. I’m also trying to write down at least one verse a day from my daily Bible reading and have it on a card near me as I telework. I’m doing this because I don’t just want to be inhaling God’s Word in the morning and never thinking about it the rest of the day. Instead, I want to chew on God’s Word throughout the day. For instance, one day this past week, I wrote down Luke 10:20: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirts are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” What a wonderful truth to remember in a world where disease and death seem to be knocking at our doors! In this next quarter, I’d like to catch up with my readings for the 5-day reading plan and continue to ruminate on Scripture as much as possible.
  • Write more – My goal was to write more, so that I could more actively think about the world around me. While I have written a few blog posts this year, I’m not as consistent in my blogging as I’d like to me. For instance, I’d ideally love to complete a movie, book or game and then blog about my experience. However, I let time slip by and then whatever thoughts I did have flutter away. So, to rectify this, I’ve been sensing a need to take a slightly more disciplined approach. For a short time in our family life, I deemed Tuesdays, “Tech-Free Tuesday.” On Tuesdays, when I got home from work, I would try to step away from screens as much as possible. I think I’d like to reinvigorate that practice. On Tuesday evenings, I’d love to devote some time to reading, writing and developing a new skill / craft (see below). Even if I don’t always post what I create on Tuesdays, at least I will be unplugging from the digital world for a little bit and collecting my thoughts about life (Note: Using my laptop to write, not surf the web, is an exception I’m making for now).
  • Stretch more – My goal was to work on warming up, stretching and overall, being more flexible this year. While I’m still not a human rubber-band, I have been exercising consistently during the quarantine. I’m also more mindful of warming up (particularly my leg muscles) and trying to stretch at the end of a workout. As a side note, here are the workouts I’ve been doing (and largely enjoying!) lately: walking on the treadmill (30 min. or so), pushups (using an app to keep track), Fitdeck cards & Fitness Blender.If you’d like to shake up your workout routine, check some of them out!
  • Hone a new skill/craft – My goal was to reclaim a bit of my leisure time by mixing it up and honing a new craft. Originally, I stated that my wife and I were going to work on cultivating a raised garden bed this year. I’d still like to do something like this, but as we wait to start that project, I’m considering both working on my writing (see above) and getting back into … Legos! Recently, our family has been watching Lego Masters on FOX, and I’m finding it incredibly inspiring. To see what these adults can do with what many consider to be a “child’s toy” is truly impressive. While I don’t think I’ll ever have the time, money or ability to do what these true master of the brick do, I still think it would be fun to have an idea or scene in mind and then create it out of tiny plastic bricks. For instance, recently, I worked with my oldest son on building some Lego catapults. The results weren’t award-winning, but I enjoyed the iterative process of going from concept to working model. Just this past Saturday morning, my oldest and I worked on building our own planes. While I’m probably not going to be the one flying them around the house, it was fun to build one and then watch my middle son playing with it later in the day. I’m excited to see what the next few months hold as I continue to try to hone this (old) skill!

Finally, before I sign off, I wanted to briefly share about five things I’ve been enjoying lately. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • All or Nothing (Philadelphia Eagles) – The newest season of All or Nothing follows last year’s Philadelphia Eagles as they seek to make a run at the Super Bowl. Although they ultimately fell short, the Eagles had a very interesting season. I’ve only watched a couple of episodes, but I’m interested to see how the gridiron drama unfolds.
  • Retro Bowl – Sticking with the football theme, I picked up this free phone game. Essentially, it’s streamlined Tecmo Bowl with some interesting roster management. Fun stuff!
  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson – This novel is the first in Sanderson’s multi-book Stormlight Archive series. After finishing Lord of the Rings, I was eager to dive into another carefully crafted world. I’m almost done with this book, and while it started off slow, I can’t wait to see how it ends. More than that, I’ve been very impressed with how Sanderson approaches the topic of leadership in the book. There are many lessons on leadership (both what to do and NOT do) in this book.
  • Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, et al – I’ve been reading this well-known book for work lately. The authors describe a crucial conversation as: “A discussion between two or more people where the stakes are high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong.” While I don’t agree with everything the authors have to say about holding crucial conversations, there is much here that Christians can profit from (i.e. importance of dialogue, building safety in conversations, importance of listening, etc.). Definitely a book to pick up and read (with discernment)!
  • Kingdomino – I was able to get this fun, family board game for my birthday. Imagine playing dominos but instead of connecting dots, you are connecting terrain tiles to build the best 5×5 kingdom you can build. Easy to learn, quick to play and truly, fun for the whole family!

That’s all I have for now! Feel free to share about your progress on your 2020 goals or what you’ve been enjoying lately!

Let’s Watch: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

mrrogersLast night, my wife and I had the chance to watch the 2019 film, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Starring Tom Hanks as the iconic Mr. Rogers, the movie presents a troubled journalist, Lloyd Vogel (played by Matthew Rhys) who is assigned a piece on the famous children’s TV show host. Although Vogel is known for his ruthless writing style, his interactions with Mr. Rogers begin to soften, expose and heal him and his broken family relationships. In the end, the thing that stands out most in the movie is the overwhelming kindness and generosity of Mr. Rogers. From his warm welcome of others to his nurturing words to his willingness to befriend those who are difficult to love, Mr. Rogers is presented in the movie as the good neighbor that all of us should aspire to be. Thankfully, the movie doesn’t present Mr. Rogers as a perfect character, but it does show him as a man who worked incredibly hard to be truly friendly to others.

Seeing kindness embodied like that inspires me. It makes me want to treat each person I meet as one who is made in the image of God. It makes me want to spend more time listening to people and asking good questions instead of just thinking about what I can say next. It makes me want to be a good neighbor to others, particularly those who are difficult to love.

However, I know that I cannot do that through sheer moral willpower. If there is any major fault in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, it’s that it didn’t spend enough time exploring the spiritual underpinnings of Mr. Rogers’ kindness and generosity of spirit. Sure, it nodded to his regular reading of the Scriptures, praying for people by name and occasionally has him referring to God, but it all feels somewhat secondary to the amount of effort Mr. Rogers’ put into loving others.

Yes, loving others is costly, hard work. It takes self-control and a willingness to consistently put others first. But as a follower of Jesus (which is what I understand Mr. Rogers to be), love for others isn’t just a byproduct of our effort, but is first and foremost, the fruit of God’s work in us. As 1 John 4:19 reminds, “We love because he first loved us.” For Christ-followers, it is because of the kindness, the generosity, the lavish, welcoming love of God, that we can love anyone. Because the Father sent Jesus into our broken world, because Jesus was willing to lay His perfect life down for our guilty ones, because the Spirit regenerates and empowers every believer, we not only have the inspiration, but also the spiritual wherewithal to be kind to others. For in loving each person we meet, we are not just trying hard to be nice, but we are also putting on the display once again the glorious Gospel of grace for all the world to see.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” – Ephesians 5:1-2

 

Let’s Read: Lord of the Rings

The ShireI recently finished reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. What a literary masterpiece! To my shame, I’d never actually read the entire trilogy all the way through. However, for whatever reason, I decided to pick up my copy of the trilogy again in 2019, and I’m so glad I did so. I love Tolkien’s ability to create an entire world to immerse yourself in, complete with its own history, races, places, characters and even songs. More than that, I love how Tolkien interweaves truth, goodness and beauty into his story. In this post, I simply to want to share one part of the story that struck a chord with me.

At the very end of his epic saga, in Return of the King, Tolkien has the four hobbits, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin, return to their beloved Shire. Yet the Shire is anything but welcoming to these heroic hobbits. Instead, led by the defeated, but still spiteful Saruman, bands of ruffians have turned the Shire upside-down. Not only have they erected ugly buildings and contaminated the land, but they’ve also brutalized the local hobbits and keep them subdued with loads of rules and threats. The formerly idyllic Shire has become a dreary, deteriorating prison.

Yet, the four hobbits who have journeyed far and battled hard are undaunted. They know the Ring has been destroyed. They know Sauron and his minions have been thoroughly defeated. They know that King Aragon is on his rightful throne. And these undeniable facts give them courage and hope. The Shire is not what is should be, but it can be rescued and renewed. So, with mercy and tenacity, the hobbits and their local comrades band together and fight back. The ruffians are either killed, captured or sent fleeing. Saruman also comes to a grizzly end at the hands of his wretched servant, Wormtongue. In the end, the clever hobbits are victorious, and the Shire is saved.

Now, all of this makes for a wonderful yarn at the end of an already epic story. However, I’ve often wondered why it was part of the story at all. Why didn’t Tolkien just end the story with the Ring being destroyed, the forces of Sauron being defeated and the Fellowship of the Ring being honored for their gallant deeds? Why not end the story with Frodo and Sam venturing back into their beloved Shire and finding it as peaceful and refreshing as they had dreamed? Why not roll credits right there? Tolkien could have taken that narrative route, but I’m glad he didn’t. Instead, by ending the story the way he did, he conveyed even more truth about the world we live in.

In sending the hobbits back to a scared, suffocating Shire, Tolkien reminds us that the presence of sin and evil in the world stretches to every corner of God’s good creation. No part of Middle Earth was unaffected – and no part of our world has been left untainted by the unholy invasion of sin. Since the Fall, Romans 8:22 reminds us that “…the whole creation has been groaning together…” This world – and the people in it – is not what it supposed to be like. There is no place, there is no job, there is no hobby, there is no church, there is no marriage, there is no family, there is no human heart where sin is not present and insidiously working to dismantle everything good God has made. And this remains true even when we know the King is on the throne!

For instance, even though the hobbits know that the decisive battle has been won, even though Aragon, the rightful king rules, it doesn’t mean that there still isn’t a war going on. It doesn’t mean that there is not a very real enemy like Saruman who seeks to disrupt, dishearten and destroy as much as he can with the time that he has left. In the same way, in our world, even though Jesus won the decisive victory at the Cross and gloriously overcame the grave, even though He ascended and rules on high, it doesn’t mean that Satan is suddenly a harmless kitten. No, 1 Peter 5:8 describes him as a prowling around like a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Certainly, those who know Jesus as King and have been rescued by His blood are secure in Him (John 6:39), but like the hobbits in Tolkien’s tale, we must still be watchful. We must vigilant. By the Spirit’s power and through the careful wielding of His Word, we must courageously stand and resist the advances of sin and evil in our lives, even in those places where we might least expect it. More than that, we must actively choose to be agents, not of corruption, but of Gospel healing and redemption in a world that so desperately needs it.

In the end, praise God that our ultimate hope does not rest on our ability to eradicate sin, but rather on His. Our sure hope as Christ-followers is found in the One who has already defeated Satan, sin and death by the perfect, atoning sacrifice of Himself. Yes, Jesus is the One who even now is actively carrying out His redemptive purposes in this broken, but still beautiful world. Jesus is the King who reigns over all and will return, in the words of Sam Gamgee, to make everything sad come untrue. So, until that glorious day, let us fight the good fight. Let us finish the race. Let us keep the faith. For one day, with all the saints, we will surely experience in fullness the happy “ending” we’ve always longed for.