Family

For My Kids on the Occasion of My 40th Birthday

For My Kids on the Occasion of My 40th Birthday

Tomorrow I turn 40. Lord willing, I’m about halfway done with this marathon we call life.

God has been so gracious to me. I have a godly wife who makes me laugh every day and two teenage children who grow daily in faith and wisdom. 25 and 27 years from now Camille and Soren will celebrate their 40th birthdays. This post is for them: it’s the hard-earned wisdom that I’ve accumulated over my years that I hope they can learn from. I hope it blesses you as well.

Here are the top ten truths I’ve learned in my 40 years:

1)     Seek wisdom

There is no end to foolishness in this world. Wisdom is a rare commodity. Run hard after it. Look to those whose character you admire. Listen to what they say and read what they write. When I was a kid, I was a sponge for sports trivia. I got a jolt in being able to know something someone else didn’t. In college I caught the bug for philosophical and theological knowledge. It took me until my later twenties and thirties to develop a stronger thirst for wisdom than knowledge. Accumulated wisdom is like the water of a river, it will smooth and shape the stones in its bed over time.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.     Most Americans Find Meaning in Family, Not Faith: I wrote on this topic and believe that this is a particularly entrenched issue for the American church. Helen Gibson reports, "Almost 7 in 10 Americans (69 percent) mentioned family when describing where they find a sense of meaning...[Meanwhile] 36 percent said religion provided them “a great deal” of meaning and fulfillment in the...survey."

2.     10 Critical Religious Liberty Cases coming in 2019: Joe Carter surveys the landscape of important cases forthcoming in 2019.

3.     Know That It’s Worth It: Melissa Edgington on raising true disciples, “When we pray that our children will have tender hearts toward the things of God, when we pray that they will be radically devoted to Him, we must also be prepared for what that really means. And we must remind each other, over and over again: it’s worth it. He is worth it. We can rely on Him to see our children through as they blaze a path of faithfulness through a world that has been dulled by complacency and hopelessness. This is what we have been praying for. God give us the faith and the perseverance to see it through, even when our hearts break. Following Christ isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.”

4.     Royal Museums Space Photography Competition: Amazing, amazing, amazing. A glimpse of heaven.

5.     Who Steals a Cheese Grater? Or soap? Things to ponder :).

The Unexpected Gift (part 2) by Anne Madhu Gammon

The Unexpected Gift (part 2) by Anne Madhu Gammon

A note from John:

It’s my pleasure to share with you the story of my friend, Madhu Gammon. Madhu and her husband Keith attend Stone Hill Church in Princeton, NJ, where I served as a pastor for eight years. Madhu and Keith’s story centers around how God stretched their faith and joy in the midst of the difficulties of their son Ajit’s medical issues.

In God’s providence, Angel and I are, right now, in the home state of Madhu and Keith: Tamil Nadu, India.

I pray that you are as blessed by Madhu’s humble faith and irrepressible joy as I have been.

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Unexpected turn of Events

We had come on holiday to the USA in 2001 to see Priya. With less than a month left to return to India, a consultation for Ajit gave him a new anti-seizure medication in addition to his regular medication. This juncture is where everything turned topsy-turvy with a severe drug reaction. He was too weak to get out of bed, grew weaker, unable to tolerate food, and subsequently compelling us to change our return date to India. The scene had changed. It was staggering! And at this time, Keith’s mother had just breathed her last in Chennai and he had to return immediately.

When we come to the crossroads, we can often miss seeing the Cross. The words drawing us to “see, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down, did ‘er such love or sorrow meet or thorns compose so rich a crown.” Oh were it not for the Cross, we would not know that God understands the pain of suffering. Yet to now try and understand the Sovereignty of God and see Him articulate His Grace to us was to expect a miracle, a gesture of forgiveness and freedom.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       What an Average Home Looks Like in Every State: Wow. This is amazing, both in terms of the disparity of cost for the average home across states as well as the type of home you can get for that cost.

2.       God is not Silent in Your DepressionEd Welch is a wonderful counselor and offers a wealth of wisdom. He begins by describing depression, "Never has so much been crammed into one word. Depression feels terrifying. Your world is dark, heavy, and painful. Physical pain, you think, would be much better—at least the pain would be localized. Instead, depression seems to go to your very soul, affecting everything in its path. Dead, but walking, is one way to describe it."

3.       How to Raise Spiritually and Emotionally Healthy KidsAaron Earls on some really important research about the long-term impact of parenting practices: "Those who attended religious services with parents or prayed or meditated on their own had healthier lives and improved mental health. Those who attended church at least once a week as children or teens were 18 percent more likely to report being happy as 20-something adults than those who never attended services."

4.       Three Privileges of Intimacy with the FatherTim Chester begins, "Step back and think about it for a moment, and you’ll realize what an amazing miracle it is that any of us should call God ‘Father’. But we do so every time we pray, through the Spirit of the Son."

5.       Wrestling with the Violence of GodJeff Elkins concludes his examination of a difficult passage with this reflection: "My problem is, I want more. I want to know why God would do such a thing, but the scripture does not give it to me. In the absence of that information, I am forced to ask myself what I know about God."

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       The Unattainable Perfectionism of Millennials: Gene Veith reflects on a new study, "The young adults of the Millennial generation are showing a higher rate of mental problems than previous generations.  A study says that the problem is perfectionism and their inability to attain it. As Rachel Genevieve Chia reports, 'A study on the topic shows this phenomenon is unique to millennials, who are under immense pressure from always being ‘sifted, sorted and ranked’– in exams, job performance assessments, or on social media, where they feel compelled to curate a perfect life.' As a result, they are subject to depression, anxiety, anorexia, and suicide."

2.       The Joys and Limitations of Male-Female FriendshipsTim Challies with a helpful reflection on the beauty of the brotherly and sisterly relationships we have in Christ and the limitation of that analogy.

3.       5 Ways to Be a Godly GrandparentNice little post by Avery Foley here. I especially like #3: "Tell stories. Many grandchildren, and even children, know surprisingly little about the lives their grandparents or parents lived. You may not want to talk about yourself, or you may be much more interested in what’s going on with the grand kids, but tell them stories. Share about the good times, the funny times, and the hard times. Tell how God’s mercy and grace got you through hardships. Be open about struggles you’ve had and how God’s Word gave you the wisdom and answers you needed. Your wisdom can help your grandchildren know what you did right so they can emulate it. And it can highlight what you did wrong so they know what not to do!"

4.       Should We Expect Miracles Today? Stephen Kneale with a helpful clarification regarding the question of the miraculous, "Now, I want to be clear that I do believe that the Lord may work miracles as he chooses today. But I do not believe that the Lord will work miracles throughany given individual today. That is, I don’t expect people to be able to wave their hand and the lame jump up and walk."

5.       Why Authenticity Matters: Eugene Cho with a brief, but thoughtful reflection. "You cannot be in relationship without authenticity."

Jesus and His Family; You and Yours

Jesus and His Family; You and Yours

The untouched idol of the American evangelical church is family.

I love my family. No family is perfect, but I couldn’t be more grateful for a healthy family: a mom and dad who loved me and celebrated 43 years of marriage this year, a sister who is still one of my best friends.

And I overflow with thanksgiving for my wife and two children, who are a source of constant love and joy in my life.

It’s hard to make sense of what Jesus taught about family and lived out in his life. Jesus’ relationship with his family is complicated. At a first pass, you would probably say that his relationship with his family is flat out bad. Is that the case? And how should Jesus’ relationship with his family influence our relationship with our family?

The Hard Edges

Let’s examine four scenes in Jesus’ life that involve family. The first three of these scenes have some pretty hard edges in what Jesus says about family.