1. We started watching The Gospel of John last night. We will watch about 5 mins every night for a couple months. After we’ve discussed the scene, we’ll then pray together. Our hope is to have conversations about Jesus with our kids. I also hope for at least 10 mins every night when I won’t have to hear my boys talk about Pokemon.
2. The NT is silent on the pursuit of our dreams.
3. Sara Groves’ new album Floodplain is a breathtaking piece of atmospheric americana. The subdued drama reminds me of Emmylou’s Wrecking Ball. And every perfect summer night on an open road. She’s also a fellow traveler through the dark night of the soul. You can hear it soft and clear.
4. The work of the cross is staggering because Jesus died for his enemies. Though he deserved to live and defend his righteousness, he died for his enemies. He died for us. The incongruity my desire to kill my enemies is also staggering.
5. For the last couple of nights, Bethany and I have sat in the den with a fire listening to music. No TV. The kind of nights you never regret.
6. I never understood how much the joy of the holidays was connected to my parents till they were gone.
7. I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolution of eating wings and pizza everyday in 2016.
8. I may be going through a midlife crisis of faith. Where my faith is steady confidence in the love of God for me despite what happens. I hope it lasts.
9. I would think a pastor who refused to kill his enemies because he loved them would be a force to reckon with.
10. I’m pretty convinced the greatest obstacle in the Christian life is fear. And that the remedy is love.
re: #10 I just read that in yesterday’s devotional: “perfect love casts out fear”
1John 4:18 … I always enjoy reading your “Random Thoughts”. Happy New Year to you and your family, Matt!
I loved #8. Thank you.
Matt, I truly enjoy your posts but I would like you to clarify your position on “killing your enemies”. I agree that Jesus told us to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us but I believe that we also have a duty to protect innocents. Are you saying that we should allow every country to commit suicide in allowing the evil to overrun our borders and kill and subjugate ourselves and our children?
I guess the best response I have is two parts. 1) I worry about any problem that is resolved by starting with the ends, 2) protecting people was not on the agenda of NT writers. I’m not always sure on how I feel about it. But I do not think it is suicide to choose peace as the means and leave the ends with God.
First time caller , long time listener. 🙂 Would 1 Tim 5:8 be an example of a NT “agenda” for protecting people? It would seem that providing for a family (food, shelter, clothing) would include the protection of that same family from evil and violent acts against them. Does love for my wife trump love for my enemy when her life is in danger? The OT is filled with God ordained protective acts on behalf of His people Israel. In Revelation 19 Jesus is waging war. I am wondering if there is a difference for being killed for your faith in Jesus, like the martyrs, versus not allowing yourself/family member to be killed by a criminal that could care less about your faith. Open and desirous of instruction.
Bob, I think that your comments are thought out and biblical. I’m personally concerned about the unserious talk from Christians about the crucial issues facing us as citizens of this country as well as citizens in the kingdom.
Here is the main thing about the situation of what to do to protect loved ones. If you believe that we should protect them to the point of killing another, then not having a gun would be a bad thing. And possibly sin.
I cannot square such thinking with the explicit teachings in the NT.
The teachings of the NT are far too explicit to convince me. The fact is when Jesus said it, the Jews were an occupied people surrounded by enemies and those enemies were about to come after them. Should the disciples have defended Stephen? Should they have taken a sword to those with Saul/Paul?
Also, it needs to be pointed out that this story, which always is used, against those of us who at least question our culture’s bloodthirst, is an argument from “ends.” In other words it is asking, “is this the end you want?” All the fruits of Spirit are about how we treat people in the meantime. The means. Jesus’ means and the end that he seemed to always be focused on for us are loving others how we have been loved by him and our time with him in eternity.
Survival is not the end.
To be honest, Matt, I am really struggling here. I have written this response a half dozen times, and deleted it each time, because I’m not sure I can formulate my thoughts in this medium without coming across as something I am not.
I don’t want to put words in your mouth. It seems that you are saying being true to the NT commands, and resorting to any violence to protect my family, is mutually exclusive. Would that be accurate?
I get what you are saying about the ends and the means, but if love and peace is paramount, that starts with my family, it does not end with them. Allowing a horrific assault on my loved ones when I have the *means* to protect them does not speak love to me. Just the opposite. In fact, it feels to me that there is a bit of arrogance to that thought, and I refuse to believe the primary drive I have inside of me to protect my family comes from Satan.
As an aside, it feels to me that the gun component of your statement is a bit of a straw-man argument. I don’t need a handgun to protect my family, nor do I need to have a *goal* of killing the intruder/abuser/molester. Only use what is necessary to save my family. Because if the end is up to God, then it isn’t a stretch to suggest we shouldn’t even call the police. Or to be a Christian policeman, for that matter.
How long have you been struggling with that response?
I was not being sarcastic. This is a very serious question.
At least an hour, maybe an hour and a half.
Please here this with an understanding voice.
Okay, good. Struggle longer. You need to. We all need to. Give it a season at least if not multiple seasons. This is a serious issue. Because Americans need to wrestle long and hard with why we don’t send Missionaries overseas into hostile land with guns while wealthy preachers in America are justified in defending their fortified suburban homes with guns for killing. Wrestle with it for a long time. I’ve been struggling with this for more than half my life, and though I will not buy a gun, I will continue to struggle with desires to protect at any cost. And with wanting to kill.
Struggle a long time with this.
Matt, I appreciate your response. It is full of wisdom, and deep things that we should ponder. But to be candid, the reason I did not initially respond to your question on how long I wrestled with my response is because I feared what just happened – you asked me one question (how long have I struggled with my response), then replied as if you had asked me a related, but very different question (how long have I struggled with the *issue*).
When I said I struggled with my response for an hour and a half, I simply meant I struggled with how to articulate my questions in an honest, yet gracious manner, seeking to understand without being obnoxious.
But as far as wrestling with the issue? Have you ever had an angry man confront your young wife with a loaded pistol? I have. Have you ever had a group of three drunk men brutally attack your godly father-in-law in front of your wife and children while you were having a peaceful picnic at a park? I have. And how I responded (or didn’t, depending on how you look at it), has troubled me at a very deep level, for a very long time.
God bless, and thanks for your wisdom and your gentle demeanor. I just finished reading God of the Mundane, and it had a major impact on me. I am looking forward to sharing its wisdom with the adults that I teach and come in contact with at my church.
If we as believers start reasoning backwards based on the ends of what has happened or might happen, we will go awry in many places.
Thank you for your forthrightness and kindness. They are greatly appreciated.
I get the 10 minutes with your kids each night. But there will come a time when you will miss them talking about Pokemon…you are so great at embracing the moment….just sayin’