Is there no refuge from strife?
Updated: Aug 9
Is there no place of refreshing where a man can prepare for the battle of life?
Is there no place where two or three can gather in Jesus’ name, to forget for the moment all those things that divide nation from nation and race from race, to forget human pride, to forget the passions of war, to forget the puzzling problems of industrial strife, and to unite in overflowing gratitude at the foot of the Cross?
If there be such a place, then that is the house of God and that the gate of heaven.
And from under the threshold of that house will go forth a river that will revive the weary world.”
J. Gresham Machen
One day last month I was (wasting time) scrolling through my Twitter feed when suddenly my eyes locked on a friend’s post and I gasped. He was asking for prayers for our mutual friend who had that day lost his house to a fire! I couldn’t believe it. It turned out everyone was ok, the house devastated yet salvageable. But, out of the ashes Jeremy Pierre then penned this amazing piece. You can find it here on The Gospel Coalition. Anytime you see something this man wrote, sit down and read. He’s just that good.
“Our culture is a lumping one…” We see it all the time. People sort, split, and categorize every single thing, every single moment of the day. It’s how human beings think in order to make sense of life. Pandemic? Important to think about today. Megan and Harry? That can wait. Brain energy is far too important to waste when your very life (or the life of a loved one) is at stake. We must continually categorize what’s important.
More than daily news, however, we also lump people. Think denominations. Or school choice. Or race, or gender, or age. Lumping is a filter that basically puts people in their place. And when people are in a particular place, we are better equipped to interact with them. Or so we think.
Lumping can cause the disunity that Paul was so passionate to warn the church about (Eph. 4:3). You see, categorizing people and things and places doesn’t just serve to keep them in order. It also keeps people out. You hear it when folks say, “he/she gets it.” Or conversely, “he/she is clueless.” Obviously, the people who “get it” are going to be the ones who are worth talking to, while the clueless aren’t worth our time.
See what just happened there? And lumping is only one of the ways we derail communication in relationships.
How to Think, by Alan Jacobs is a short little book with a powerful message. Interested in moving beyond divisiveness in your relationships? Relearn not what to think, but what it means to actually think.
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, people would put on their finest clothes, prepare their hearts, and gather together for worship. Today, we await our livestream Easter service in jeans or leggings and a sweatshirt while we lounge on the couch with our dogs. I did "up my game" today, so my sweats are actually brightly colored. But, do you remember when we actually WENT to church?
Not that long ago, Kevin DeYoung preached a sermon at church from Psalm 38. At the time, God’s arrows and heavy hand coming down upon me was so convicting. The text challenged my “stinking wounds” (vs. 5). But when I looked back on the text this past week, the significance of the Psalmist’s message seemed to burst further to life, “My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off” (vs.11). How poignant today as I delivered my grandkid's treats to their porch, and then quickly got back in the car while they retrieved them.
This is the second prophetic sermon KDY has preached this year (that I know of!). Oh, that we as believers will pay attention to the challenge from the Psalmist during this plague to recognize the depth of our sin, wait for the Lord, confess our iniquity, and long for only our Father.
Why not give this sermon on Psalm 38 a listen? How would you teach it to someone struggling with the effects of the Fall? What hope can be found in these verses? What do you learn about the Father? Perhaps take some time to prepare to minister in this quarantine season to the inevitable suffering our brothers and sisters will encounter in these difficult days.
“What Wondrous Love is This” is a hymn more popularly sung in Methodist and Baptist traditions. It was written by the ever ubiquitous, “Anonymous.” The earliest inclusion in a hymnal appears to have been in the early 1800’s, perhaps originating in the south. And if it’s from the south, well….ya’ll know it’s gotta be good.
Sung typically during Lent, this hymn leads the singer to reflect on Christ’s amazing work on the cross and with gratitude praise Him throughout the blessing of eternity.
Blue Highway’s version starts with a banjo (one of the best-ever instruments) and then goes on in a haunting a cappella. You can hear it here.