The Secret To Not Losing Heart

The secret to not losing heart is where we look

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 so we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

It’s amazing that Paul didn’t lose heart.  His list of sufferings goes on and on – he was beaten numerous times, scourged, left for dead, shipwrecked, spent long stints in prisons, opposed at every turn, threatened, hated, abandoned, betrayed, mocked, and had people constantly trying to undermine his work.

Yet he didn’t lose heart.  He calls his sufferings “light and momentary,” though they were extremely painful and lasted for years.  They don’t sound light and momentary to me Paul.  Our outer self wasting away sounds heavy and long-lasting.  So Paul, how do you see them as light and momentary?  How do you keep from losing heart?

Paul wouldn’t claim he had some secret way to make it so he didn’t feel the bite of the whip.  He wasn’t a Pollyanna who only saw the world through rose colored glasses.  He really suffered.  Yet he didn’t lose heart.

So what was his secret?  How did he keep from losing heart?  How did he stay so joyful and hopeful?

It was where he looked.

He looked “not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.”  He kept his focus on things above.  Eternal things.  And as he did so he was able to make a comparison.

It was the comparison that showed his earthly afflictions to be light and momentary. Looking at his afflictions by themselves, they were heavy and seemingly unending.  But IN COMPARISON to the incredible rewards they were producing in heaven, IN COMPARISON to the eternal weight of glory they were forming above, IN COMPARISON, his earthly pain was light and momentary.  In fact, the glories and rewards he saw in heaven were BEYOND ALL COMPARISON to things here.

But this realization only takes place AS (big word!) we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.

To the eternal.  To the heavenly weight.  To the glory.  So it was Paul’s constant focus through the eyes of faith on the eternal joys of heaven, the eternal glories and rewards that his sufferings here were producing that gave him courage to not lose heart. If he had focused only on his sufferings here, he would have given up.

So Paul made a decision where to keep his gaze – on things above.  On eternal things.  Not on the momentary. That’s how you can get through your affliction.  It’s what you look at.  It’s where you focus.  Though your suffering is great here, keep comparing it to your reward.  Keep comparing it to the joys of heaven.  The weight of glory Jesus has prepared for you that you will enjoy for 10,000 times 10,000 years.  The rapturous beauty of Jesus you will feast on forever and ever.

Don’t lose heart.  In the blink of an eye you’ll be in heaven.

There you’ll say “Compared to this, my suffering on earth was nothing.  Compared to this my suffering back then was a blip.”  Don’t lose heart.  Keep looking above.

New Study Finds That 95% Of Nerdy White Christian Men Claim to Love Rap

Lecrae

NEW YORK (Reuters): A new study released by the Gallup Group revealed that 95% of all nerdy white Christian men say that they “strongly dig rap music, yo”.

“We were pretty surprised by the results of the study,” said Thomas Menchen, leader of the study. “When you think of the white, nerdy, Christian demographic, you don’t usually think of rap music. You think of books like Systematic Theology and artists like Michael Card and Fernando Ortega. But for some unexplainable reason, white nerdy Christians are flocking to Christian rap. We suspect that John Piper is somehow responsible, although we can’t prove that yet.”

Timothy Green, who participated in the study, said, “Yeah man, when I listen to Lecrae on the way to work I get so fired up! I’m like, ‘Yeah booiiii, let’s do some computer programming for Christ! True dat!’ My coworkers think I’m a total wild gangsta. I’m thinking about putting some chrome rims on my Toyota Camry.”

Ian Keller, who also participated in the study, said, “I can really relate to the music. I didn’t exactly grow up in the hoods, but we all come from a hood of sorts. You know, my dad worked like 50 hours a week, and when you combine that with my soccer practices and trying to fit in on the marching band, it was rough. When Trip Lee belts out those phat rhymes, I’m like, ‘Yeah dog, we be chillin!’ I like to listen to his music when I read Grudem and Carson for my devotions.”

Pastor Dan Carson said, “I listen to Flame before I preach a sermon. I put on my noise canceling headphones, sit in my office, and get psyched up. When I get to the pulpit I am seriously pumped up. Plus, it helps me connect with the more urban members of my congregation. Instead of saying, ‘You struggle with sin,’ I say, ‘You be fallin’ over your sin like you was ballin’ in the gym.’ It really resonates with people.”

Thomas Menchen said, “Honestly, this study throws all sociology to the wind. We plan on releasing a follow up study next month.”

John Piper could not be reached for comment.

New Free Music From Crossway Collective

My friends at Crossway Church in Lancaster, PA, are getting ready to release an album called “Nothing Worth Knowing”. In order to promote their album they’re giving away three songs from it. You can listen to the songs with the player below.

You can also download them for free here.

I Think I’ll Just Be A Normal Christian From Now On

photo from Thomas Fisher

FACT: We Christians love labeling ourselves.

We’re Reformed, we’re Charismatic, we’re emergent, we’re justice seeking, we’re seeker sensitive, we’re adoptional (I don’t think that’s a word), we’re missional, we’re called to foreign missions, we’re radical, we’re Christian hedonists, we’re organic, all-natural, authentic, and label-loving. You get the point. And I have been extremely helped by so many of these categories. I’m so grateful for the push towards adoption, for Reformed theology, for Christian hedonism, and for the evangelistic emphasis of the missional minded folks.

But sometimes all the labels can be a burden to me. I’m sure the problem is totally with me and my legalistic self, but it seems like each label carries specific requirements with it. If I’m going to be missional I need to be highly focused on reaching out to my community with the gospel. If I’m going to be adoptional I need to create a community of adoption within my church and possibly adopt children myself. If I’m called to missions I need to be constantly thinking about and praying for the unreached people groups in the world. If I’m truly seeking justice I need to be making a concerted effort towards ending sex trafficking in the United States. You get the point.

There are a lot of blog posts and tweets and status updates that remind me of all that I should be doing. I need to more missional, more missions minded, more focused on the Holy Spirit, more authentic with my neighbors, more committed to the cause of adoption, more careful with my eating habits, and more  committed to ending sex trafficking in America.

And don’t get me wrong, each of these things is truly biblical. It’s right and good to reach out to the community and to adopt children and to reach the unreached people groups and to fight against horrific things like sex trafficking. But I can’t do all these things at one time with equal intensity and fervor. I’m a pretty limited guy. I’m married and I have three little girls who want to play with dollies and puzzles. I have a yard that needs mowing and a grandpa that needs visiting and people in my church who I need to pray for. I battle physical anxiety from time to time, which puts real physical limitations on what I can do. Most of the time I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water.

So I think I might just be a normal Christian from now on. In John 15:5 Jesus said:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

I take this to mean that if I stay close to Jesus and spend time with Jesus and have lots of Jesus’ word in me, I will produce much fruit for Jesus. I’ll do the things that Jesus wants me to do. I’ll be a truly fruitful, successful Christian. Maybe I’ll adopt kids, but maybe not. Maybe I’ll be a missionary to India, but maybe not. Maybe I’ll host a community outreach…maybe not.

If I stay close to Jesus he’ll lead me into the good works that he has prepared for me.

The reality is, the folks in my church who are the most fruitful for Christ are simply those who are closest to Christ. I think of long-term member Tim McKelvy. I don’t think he could tell you what it means to be missional but he and his wife Donna are constantly reaching out to people. I think of my 93 year-old grandfather who probably couldn’t articulate Reformed theology and yet does a Bible study at a nursing home every single month. I think of my dad, who isn’t “adoptional” and yet has adopted two kids.

I want to be like Tim and Donna and my grandpa and my dad. They’re just normal Christians who stay close to Jesus and trust Jesus to make them fruitful.

Here’s to normal.