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Don’t Become a Hobbit! (Unless God calls you to)

By Rutledge Etheridge - Posted at Gentle Reformation:

In times of significant cultural upheaval, it’s common and eminently understandable to seek whatever stability and calm we can find within our lives and to do some good soul searching about the way we’ve chosen to structure them. Are we contributing or perhaps even capitulating to the nervous, noisy way of life we see all around us? In a cultural moment tyrannized by all things digital and overloaded with a constant bombardment of information, so much of it shallow-minded if not salacious, have we neglected a simpler, more richly satisfying and God-honoring way of life? Have we unknowingly – or perhaps knowingly! – imbibed the fuss and fury of a fallen world put on fast forward? These are important questions to consider, and I’m afraid certain trends among Christians are offering overly simplistic answers in their worthy quest for a simple life filled with spiritual substance.

This piece will not be a critique of any particular book or movement; it’s more a series of observations and an offering of cautionary thoughts as we consider the increasing number of calls by Christians for Christians to come away from the clamor and corrosion of our corrupt culture and to build Christian communities defined by a simple, Shalom-pursuing life. We’re told that this is the best way to influence an anxiety-riddled, warful world for the Prince of Peace.

There’s no question that our culture is rattled; some say it’s the death rattle of the West. There’s no question that ours is a raw-nerved, anxious generation, and it’s easy to get caught up in the noise and nervousness. (I’m using the term “generation” in the way Scripture sometimes does, to indicate not so much chronology as character – see Psalm 24:1-6.) It’s popular to mock millenials for being so utterly incapable of dealing with any stress whatsoever. While stress and anxiety are more statistically evident among younger generations, it’s not just young people who’re struggling to keep it all together. The irony is palpable when much older politically conservative talk show hosts bluster and storm against the “snowflakes”, mercilessly mocking them and screaming through the airwaves that if they hear about just one more millennial meltdown their heads will explode. Seems those radio guys are a tad touchy, too! That touchiness is not so much a millennial way of life as a cultural way of life, based on philosophical and theological decisions made long ago and whose consequences are becoming increasingly clear with successive generations.

Predating our country’s founding, the Enlightened West had already been living as if God were dead. Extolling our our own ingenuity and goodness, and trusting the pristine, indomitable force of autonomous reason, we were only too happy to let it take God’s place in matters of practical, daily life – politics, civic and cultural endeavors, education and family life – in everything, really! Alas, though living conditions have improved, human beings themselves have not, nor are we even any more reasonable. Some of society’s most socially and scientifically sophisticated people have been her cruelest, and the constant and amplified warfulness of the world has shown us that the Enlightenment’s bright and blazing optimism about a peaceful world without God was galactically naive. Humans were meant to be God’s representatives in the world, not his replacements. Naturally, the crushing burden of our culture’s age-old and growing god complex weighs most heavily upon the young, so we really need to mitigate the “I thank you, Lord, that I’m not like them” mentality with which it’s popular to regard millenials and those coming after. Fallen humanity’s god-complex applies to all ages, and each of us needs to repent for our own particular participations in it, rather than stereotyping and slandering wide swaths of fellow participants.

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Previously Featured Posts

Bill Hybels Resigns from Willow Creek

By Bob Smietana - Posted at Christianity Today:
Former leaders have accused the church of failing to adequately address several allegations against Hybels, including inappropriate comments, private meetings with female staffers in his hotel room and at his home, intrusive hugs, and, in one case, an unwanted kiss.Megachurch pastor “accelerates” October retirement weeks after former colleagues went public with misconduct allegations.

Bill Hybels has stepped down as senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area megachurch he founded over 40 years ago, citing the controversy over recent allegations against him.

Many in the wider Christian community have been confused by those allegations, he said, and the controversy has distracted his church’s leaders from their mission and has hurt the church’s ministries. “They can’t flourish to their fullest potential when the valuable time of our leaders is divided.”

Hybels, who previously planned to retire in October, revealed the…

The Gospel Is The Remedy For Racism

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at The Heidelblog:

Racism is sin. There can be no hedging or qualifying here. To regard another image bearer as inferior because of his ethnicity is sin and has no place in the church of Jesus Christ. God’s Word is clear about the only remedy for racism: the good news of Jesus Christ.
But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:23–29; NASB). N…

Two Lessons from Two Radically Different Funerals

By Jordan Standridge - Posted at The Cripplegate:

Funerals are a gift from God. I know that sounds crazy, but they are a God-given tool to force us to reflect on the brevity of life, and how finite we are as human beings. I truly do believe that humans should attend as many funerals as possible during their lives, it is that good for your soul.

I have the privilege of attending two last Friday, and they could not have been more different from each other.

The first was of a believer. One of the sons (who is an elder at our church) gave the eulogy, and the other son, who is a Presbyterian pastor, gave the message. At least 100 people were there.

The second was of a non-believer. I had the privilege of giving the message at this one to a crowd of 10 people at the local funeral home.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the incredible difference between the two funerals. Both individuals were in their 80s, both had lived long lives full of experiences, and yet, the outcome of their fune…