Confronting the Chaos of Our Culture with the Love of Christ

Our culture seems to be described perfectly in 2 Timothy 3:2-4. It says, “Men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

As Christians, what is more important than the description of the culture is how scripture calls believers to respond in times like this. The righteous are not to be afraid of bad news; their heart is to be firm, trusting in the Lord (Psalm 112:7). Yet, many churchgoers seem to be at their whit’s end as they watch it all unfold. It is as if they believe this fiery trial is something strange (1 Peter 4:12). It seems we have had it so good for so long that we have forgotten what the Bible promised us. It says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3-12).” In the west, Christians need to remember that the persecution of the church was not put to death; it was only made sick, and it is beginning to recover.

If you asked many believers if they would be willing to die for Jesus, they would say “yes,” yet the sad reality is more and more church members are indicating that even after COVID is no longer a threat, they would prefer to keep watching church online. Their couch and their coffee seem to be too much to sacrifice. Besides, with the world raging around us, our home feels safer, but being safe is not our calling.

If the troubles of 2020 are causing you to lose your spiritual nerve, it would be helpful to recall Paul’s words to Timothy in light of his fallen culture. Paul encouraged Timothy by telling him to “kindle afresh the gift of God that is in you (2 Tim. 1:6). That gift is the faith God has given us through the Holy Spirit. Our lives are to be marked by his presence. Instead of cowering in the corner, we are to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).

Now is not the time to be ashamed of our faith, we must be willing to stand with those who are persecuted, and be ready to join them in their suffering if called to do so (2 Tim. 1:8): even as a criminal (2 Tim. 2:9). Remember, when the world comes after you, they will not say it is because you are a Christian, they will make up some other charge, and they will be charges of unlawfulness which will have accompanying penal codes. Countless Christians throughout history have been locked up and even put to death in such a manner.

However, there is no reason for us to fear. Jesus has abolished death, so be strong (2 Tim. 1-10). If we are unable to look at the attacks on biblical truth in our culture through the lens of the resurrection, then it is proof that we need to kindle our faith afresh. Are you spiritually minded enough that you would be willing to suffer hardship like a good soldier (2 Tim. 2:3)?

Repentance starts at home. The Lord knows who are his, and everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness (2 Tim. 2:19). Even if the world calls us a danger to society for doing it. If we cleanse ourselves from these things, we will be a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful to the Lord (2 Tim. 2:21). As we see what appears to be the slow collapse of the culture around us, it is time for the church to be a city on a hill. It is time for Christians to be salt and light. The way we do that is not by following the world’s pattern of grasping for power. We are to confront the culture with the love of Christ. This means to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, be meek, humble of heart, and be willing to be persecuted for his name’s sake.

Why would we do that? The love of Jesus. We love our great Savior, and we love the ungodly. We understand them because we used to be them. We have been lovers of self, unholy, ungrateful, and unloving. We know that the sexually immoral, the idolater, the adulterer, and those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). More than that, we understand that such were some of us, but we were washed, we were sanctified. The wrath of God that stood over us for our sins, Christ bore on the cross as our substitute. We have been justified in the name of Jesus (1 Cor. 6:11).

Jesus has blotted out our iniquities and removed our death sentence. What else could we need? What else could we want? What else do we have to fear? Because of his great love for us, we deny ourselves, take up or cross, and follow him (Matt. 16:24). We are no longer debtors to the flesh to live according to its dictates (Romans 8:12). By the spirit, we resist our sinful desires because we have a greater love: Jesus Christ. The world is living according to the flesh, and those who live according to the flesh will die (Rom. 8:13). The wages of sin still hangs over them. We cannot, and we will not participate in their ways. We will not go back to the bondage now that Christ has set us free.

We will call the lost world to salvation in Jesus, even if many in this world hate us for it. We will continue to the point the way because it is what they need more than anything. If they must go to hell, let us make them leap over our dead bodies to get there (C. Spurgeon). Greater love has no one but this, that someone would be willing to lay down their life for them (John 15:13). As we share in the suffering of Christ, our pain will be a present reality of how much he loves them. There is no wrath or torment that man can throw our way to make us move. There is no peace this world can offer that can compare to the peace of God and the eternal glory that awaits.

The world may do terrible things to the Church, but, in a fallen world, times of trial and persecution are often when the gospel shines the brightest. Persecution will indeed blow away the tares among us. I fear many professing Christians have forgotten our calling. They have lost the plot and traded it in for a life of pursuing earthly pleasures. In times of trouble, we will see many go out from us because they were never really of us (1 John 2:19). At that point, we will not hate them for their betrayal; we will see their lost spiritual condition, love them, and call them to find salvation in Jesus in the same way we do for all the lost. The chaos of our culture is not a threat to our witness; it is a prime opportunity for it. Indeed, all who desire to live for Jesus will be persecuted, and through it, our great God will be glorified as we confront the world with the love of Christ.

-D. Eaton

The Problem with Treating Crime Like a Disease

Many people believe the punishment of a crime should not be viewed as a penalty the criminal deserves; it should be understood as rehabilitation that works to cure the criminal. These people believe this way is more humane and will keep people from being treated unjustly. However, it is important to remember that if you remove the idea of penalty from the corrective action, you also remove the possibility of justice. In treating criminals as patients, any treatment can be justified, as long as necessary, in the name of a cure provided it is done with the “best interest” of the offender in mind.

Another belief is that this theory tends to be more merciful, but in reality, just as it destroys the concept of justice, it also destroys the possibility of mercy. For if a just penalty was deserved, then an actual pardon or mercy could be given, but if we view the criminal as ill, then it would never be merciful to withhold treatment.

The following quote by C.S. Lewis also provides us with a glimpse of how quickly this theory can spiral downward. “If crimes are diseases, why should diseases be treated any differently from crimes? And who but the experts can define disease? One school of psychology regards my religion as a neurosis. If this neurosis ever becomes inconvenient to Government, what is to prevent my being subjected to a compulsory ‘cure’? It may be painful; treatments sometimes are. But it will be no use asking, ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ The Straightener will reply: ‘But, my dear fellow, no one’s blaming you. We no longer believe in retributive justice. We’re healing you.”

Secular ideas like this rarely stay in the political realm. They either originate from bad theology or find there way there. In denying a just penalty for crime, most people will also deny a just penalty for sin, thus denying the gospel. Jesus was our substitute. On the cross, he bore just penalty for our sins, the wrath of God. Yes, it is true that he also heals us, but the healing of our sin-sick soul is not the basis of our salvation. The atoning work of Christ on the cross is the root, and our new life in Christ is the fruit. Since our Father is a just God, our sanctification would not be possible had his wrath not been satisfied.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

-D. Eaton

Related: Either God must punish sin, or there is no need for forgiveness.

Social Media and Isolation: A Toxic Combination

Chances are you feel less safe today than you did four months ago, and it has little to do with COVID-19. If you have been spending most of your time at home with little interaction with people you do not know, and have been spending significant amounts of time on social media, you probably have a distorted picture of the outside world.

These days, you cannot spend time on social media without seeing videos of vandalism, domestic abuse, beatings, and even shootings. They flood your feed, and people you love and trust put them there. Posts that cause anger or outrage are the posts most likely to receive likes, comments, and shares, and that is what most people on these platforms are seeking. Social media was supposed to give a voice to the people, but it has become a megaphone for ignorance, and we are the ones spreading it.

If you spend enough time viewing acts of idiocy and downright evil while being isolated, you will begin to have anxiety about what is outside your door. You will become much more suspicious of people who want nothing more than to go about their day and be polite. If more and more people begin to feel this suspicion, there will be more and more distrust and conflicts.

If you are a Christian, and anything in these first three paragraphs resonated with your current experience, here are three things you should do to calm the anxiety clear up the distorted view of the world around you.

1. Get off social media, or at least reduce your time significantly.

In the U.S. violent crime has fallen sharply over the past 25 years, but because we see so many videos of criminal acts online, we feel less safe than when the crime rate was higher. From package thieves robbing front porches, to scam warnings, and attempted kidnappings, it is all right there for you to watch. In the past, when you would hear about a murder on the news, they would never actually show you the killing. Now you can watch it all unfold right in the palm of your hand on repeat, and your life is undoubtedly worse off because of it.

It is time to silence the input in your life that causes you anger and fear, especially in aspects of your life where you have no control. This is not a bury your head in the sand mentality; we should know what is going on in our world, but we do not need to know at such a granular level every time someone is robbed or beaten, and we certainly do not need to watch it all online. On top of that, we do not need to know every ridiculous idea that floats around online that strikes right at the heart of civilized society.

2. Be around people, especially people you do not know.

Practice social distancing and be cautious, but go to parks, take a short day trip and interact with people. What you will find is the picture of our world painted for you on Twitter and Facebook does not match reality. Most people are quite friendly and ready to share the world with you. They will have their own beliefs, but they will not try to manipulate or bully you into their worldview. Even disagreements can be civil and beneficial. The ability of people to care for each other has not changed much since the lock down began in March. Most people are quite pleasant.

3. Spend time in the Bible daily.

The word of God will do two things. First, it will give us a solid footing in a world where everyone on social media to trying to tell you what to think and how to believe. Views on sexuality, race, and human nature come at us with threats of cancel culture. There are even views contrary to scripture that come with the endorsement of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is not easy to take every thought captive to Christ in a world like this, but regular time in the word of God is a necessary step in the right direction. The second thing the Bible will do is calm our fears. We will see that God is still in control, and even the hardships we face work for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. In the end, the Holy Spirit uses scripture to empower us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. Instead of fearing the people around us, we will love them and desire to be with them and share the good news of salvation. We will find joy in the Lord as we act as salt and light in a fallen world, and the joy of the Lord will be our strength. Even in a world like ours, there is a peace that passes all understanding as we stand upon the rock of Christ Jesus.

-D. Eaton

Then Comes the End

The state of our culture has many people living in fear, but this should not be the case for the Christian. The world is shuddering with anxiety over economic collapse, civil unrest, and even the fear of death. Its desperation is on full display. You cannot spend time on social media without being inundated with doomsayers, conspiracy theorists, and social pressures to conform to the world’s narrative. It seems we are in danger every hour.

This fear causes many Christians to hold their tongues, keep their faith private, and fall in line with the ways of the world. They have no voice of truth to offer our culture because the world has stifled them. They stagger along, barely able to stand. It is time to wake up from our drunken stupor. We must not go on sinning. Many who bear the name Christian have no knowledge of God, and this is to their shame (1 Corinthians 15:34).

We have allowed the fear of unrest and becoming social outcasts to silence us. Many Christians live lives cowering in the corner when they should be standing boldly for the world to see. Now, more than ever, the world needs to hear the truth of the gospel, but we are too busy trying to maintain personal peace and affluence.

The conflicts of our day are not the time for Christians to be afraid. We must be willing to put ourselves in danger. Speaking the truth of Christ and biblical standards, especially when it comes to sexuality, will cause you problems. You will subject yourself to cancel culture. Your social media accounts could be censored or shut down completely. You could even become unemployable because your views will not fit the world’s narrative. There is peace in Christ but that peace is not with the world.

Sooner or later, after our time here is done, we are going to die, and then what? Then comes the end, or should I say, the beginning. Christ will eventually return. He will destroy every rule, every authority, and every power that is contrary to his (1 Corinthians 15:24).

For those who bowed in fear to the world, what will you have then? You will have capitulated to the powers of those who will be on the wrong side of history. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Corinthians 15:24).

Even death will be extinguished so we have nothing to fear. As Jesus himself rose from the dead, so will all believers. We will be raised in spiritual bodies that are imperishable, glorious, and full of power (1 Corinthians 15:44). Why do we fear the world’s rage? Do we not believe the King of Kings?

We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead shall be raised imperishable, and our mortal bodies shall put on immortality (Corinthians 15:51-53).

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but for those who are in Jesus, his blood has washed us clean. He has purchased us, he has risen from the dead, and he gives us the victory (1 Corinthians 15:56-57).

We are not to speak the truth with the world’s venom, we are to speak the truth in love. Why do you let the world cause you to cower? Why do you hide your light under a bushel? We are a city set on a hill. We are the light of the world, and even though the world loves darkness rather than light, we must shine his love for them to see. We must be the salt of the earth. Do not let Satan steal your saltiness because he has already lost.

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord, your labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Be willing to pour out your life as a drink offering; then comes the end, and it will be glorious.  

-D. Eaton

We Have Sown the Wind and Reaped a Whirlwind

We have sown the wind and reaped a whirlwind. If the troubles of 2020 have not humbled us and brought us to our knees before God, we are not paying attention. We are a society that has abandoned the God of the Bible. The only God who exists. First, we saw the pandemic and found out we are a nation that turns diseases into battles for control and uses death counts as weapons in our political warfare. Our leaders on both sides of the aisle set policies that force people not to work, and then they feign disbelief as unemployment rates skyrocket. They then blame the other party for the economic collapse, and we the people parrot their rhetoric. As the restrictions lift, and joblessness drops they will undoubtedly take the credit and claim to be our saviors. Then 2020 highlighted the deep seated racial sins that permeate our nation.

In the death of Ahmad Abrey, we saw racists hunt down and kill a black man in the streets. In the case of George Floyd, we saw four police officers abuse their authority and callously and brutally torture a man made in the image of God in a way that led to his death. It was murder. From there, many people rightly began to protest these atrocities. These protests, of course, then brought out new acts of evil, as a portion of the protestors literally set cities on fire. They killed civilians and police officers. We devoured our own, forsaking the Lord, who gave us life.

Race relations are not the only issue in our society that is marred by our sinfulness. We are a society that still has laws on the books that declare certain people as non-human. These laws allow children to be ripped from the womb when they get in the way of the plans of more valuable people, and the government funds it. The institution of abortion exists because we want sexual gratification on our terms. Sexual pleasure has become the god of our culture to which all other gods must bow. One of its contenders is reproduction itself. We must separate the pleasure of sex from reproduction and fertility, or there can be no sexual freedom. “My body, my choice” is the battle cry of a generation who, whether they realize it or not, are rebelling against their natural design. Nature and nature’s God, not the patriarchy, is what our culture hates most.

All of this undermines the God-given institution of the family, which further advances the pathologies mentioned above. In sowing the wind of sexual deviancy, we have reaped the whirlwind as another form of slavery continues to increase. Human trafficking for sex is alive and active in our nation. Of course, most people would never participate in that kind of behavior, but we consume pornography at a catastrophic rate which feeds it and feeds off of it. We are a people determined to go after filth (Hosea 5:11). As our culture continues to move further away from God’s standard, we do not think about the fact that he remembers all our evil (Hosea 7:2). We should not be surprised when he withdraws from us and leaves us to our own destructive devices (Romans 1:24). We are destroyed for lack of knowledge because we have rejected his word (Hosea 4:6).

The list of ways we have abandoned God could go on and on, but for the sake of time, I will move along. This is a Christian website, and I assume many Christians are reading this article. I also believe some have nodded with approval as they read, but the evangelical community also plays a role in our culture’s decline. We have been negligent. God has called us to be beacons of the love of Christ to our world, and we have turned our churches into shrines of entertainment. In an effort to win the world’s approval, we have stopped loving them by failing to preach the word of God. Instead of the gospel, we preach pop psychology glossed over with a Christian veneer and comic relief. From there, we fail to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ as we adapt the world’s philosophy and lay atheistic categories over the word of God. Critical race and gender theories are not the balm of Gilead; they are salt in the wound. Yet, churches across the land utilize their constructs.

I know God has kept a remnant of churches who have not bowed the knee to Baal, and if you are part of one, you are blessed (1 Kings 19:18). If you are a close adherent to the word of God, you know all of this to be true. The problem is, we see many members of doctrinally sound, Bible-believing congregations on social media posturing with smug pleasure at the world’s demise. They do not love their enemies. They do not bless those that curse them. They do not return evil with good. Instead, they attack, provoke, post memes filled with half-truths, and comfort themselves with the fact that they are righteous enough to spot virtue signaling. Let us also not forget how easy it is for us to find joy when something tragic happens to counter the narrative we oppose. Our hearts do not weep; they applaud because we are more concerned about winning the culture war than we are about winning the soul.

Our hearts do not break at the thought of countless millions on their way to an eternity in hell. We were just happy that we had a witty comeback to make fun of someone’s ridiculous post on social media. We spend more time on idle activities than we do in the word of God. Our prayer lives are barren, and the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is bruised and turning brown.

Is this starting to get close to home? I am not writing this to point fingers. I am writing to myself as I ponder the sins of our culture that have set this world ablaze. As I watch the world sowing the winds of sin and reaping the whirlwind, all I start to see is how much sinfulness I have been sowing in my life. The world needs to humble itself before the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I am no exception. The word of God tells us, he who says he is without sin has deceived himself and makes God out to be a liar (1 John 1:8,10). There is only one standard by which we will be held accountable, and that is the word of God. One look at that, and we should all start to tremble.

Every one of us, Christians especially, should be on our knees, humbling ourselves before our merciful Savior asking him to save us from this whirlwind. Our witty comebacks on social media, our clever signs as we march in the streets, and our hours of idle time binging Netflix content cannot bring peace to our land and peace to our hearts. Only Jesus can do that.

A large portion of people who read this post may not be guilty of many of the sins mentioned in this article, but each one of us has enough sin in our lives to condemn us before a holy God. The problem is we are often content with it because we tell ourselves we are not as bad as “those people.” We measure ourselves by ourselves, but this is not wise (1 Corinthians 10:12). Only when our sins are washed in the blood of Jesus who paid our penalty on the cross, can we have peace with God. Without peace with God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we cannot have personal peace. Without personal peace, we cannot love those who hate us. Without being able to love those who hate us, we cannot be what Christ has called us to be, a light to a dying world.

Jesus has called us to exhibit the exact opposite of what this world says we should desire. Instead of a thirst for power, we are to be people who live out poverty of spirit, who mourn over sin, who are meek, and hunger and thirst after righteousness. Only then will we be merciful, pure in heart, and, ultimately, peacemakers (Matthew 5:2-9). None of this is possible without the power of the Holy Spirit. We must cleanse our hands and our double-minds. We must draw near to him, and he will draw near to us (James 4:8).

Our sins have struck us down, but he can bind us up. Let us return to the Lord (Hosea 6:1). My prayer is that he has allowed the troubles of 2020 to show us that without him, this world is empty. My earnest desire is that there will be a move of God across the land. Instead of sowing wind, we will sow for ourselves righteousness and reap the steadfast love of God (Hosea 10:12). Perhaps he has drawn us into the wilderness where the whirlwind is wreaking havoc to speak tenderly to us, and this valley of trouble will end up being a door of hope (Hosea 2:14-15). It is time for us to break up our fallow ground and seek the Lord that he may come and rain righteousness upon us (Hosea 10:12).

-D. Eaton

Racial Tension, Riots, and a River of Living Water

The past several days have been heart-wrenching. Not only are we dealing with COVID-19 and the restrictions and fallout related to it, but we have also witnessed what is clearly the wrongful death of a man at the hands of police officers. To compound that, we have had six days of violent protest across the United States as many have turned to rioting, vandalism, and theft. If we were not awake to the fact that we are living in a fallen world before this, we should be awake now.

If we spend too much time focused on the news or following social media feeds, we will soon be defeated and worn. If we spend too much time focused on this world without turning our eyes heavenward, we will quickly be hopeless because this world is unable to satisfy. The emptiness of this world is why scripture is continually calling us to turn our eyes away from the waves and turn them towards Jesus.

We see a perfect example of this when Jesus offers living water to the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter four. What is especially relevant about this passage is we see racial tension at work in these verses as well.

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem when he stopped to rest at the well in Samaria. The significance of this is that Jews and Samaritans, in general, did not like each other. Each group claimed the other group looked down on and mistreated them. The Samaritans were people who had married during Israel’s captivity, so the Jews did not believe they were genuinely Jewish. They were two or more ethnicities.

Adding to their racial differences, though the Samaritans believed in the God of Jacob, they merged their worship of him with pagan ideas. Some Bible scholars believe they worshiped him as a local deity who was only one among many. Due to these issues, the animosity between Jews and Samaritans went deep and cut both ways.

In walks Jesus, a Jew, and he engages the Samaritan woman in conversation by asking her for a drink of water from the well. Her response was to question why he was talking to her because Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Her question could have been honest, but most likely, her own prejudiced was starting to show. To put it in today’s vernacular, she could have been saying, “You Jews are usually too arrogant to talk to Samaritans. Take the hint; I am not interested in helping you.”

Jesus responds by saying, “If you knew who was speaking to you, you would have asked, and he would have given you living water.” What Jesus is doing, despite her disregard of him, is preparing to bless her. The first thing we need to notice about Jesus is that he does not play our culture’s race, gender, and class games. He simply treats this woman as a person made in the image of God regardless of society’s sins. The biggest problem is not this woman’s gender or race or even the mistreatment she has experienced at the hands of others; those are symptoms of a deeper issue. The real problem is her spiritual blindness, which becomes evident in her response to Jesus.

She says, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep.” Her exaggerated focus on the physical exposes her inability to see spiritually. All she can think about is physical water. This is the state of many people today. You talk to them about God, and all they want to do is require evidence and the only evidence they will allow must use the scientific method. Their blindness, often willful, has so reduced their world to the physical that they cannot see past it, and they try to find all their satisfaction in it because, for them, it is all that exists.

This blindness, however, is not merely a problem for some people. We are all born with this blindness. Every believer alive today was once just as blind, but Jesus did for us what he is doing for the Samaritan woman in the passage. He restored our spiritual sight and offered us living water.

When all you can see is the physical world around you, you will do everything you can to find your hope in it, because you know of nothing else. As Jesus continues to speak to this woman gently, he brings to light the fact that she has had five husbands, and the man she is living with now is not her husband. Whether it was by death, divorce, or adultery, this woman had tried to find fulfillment in men, and she was left empty, and Jesus had exposed her sinfulness. He did not need to condemn her. He simply opened her eyes, and she saw it. When we focus only on the things of this world, ultimately, all we will find is disappointment that will leave us weary and worn. In our attempts to address our weary souls without looking to Jesus, we will walk deeper and deeper into sin.

Despite the woman’s sin, because of the sacrifice Jesus knew he was going to make on the cross, he knew her sins could be washed clean, and she, a sinner, could be in a right relationship with the holy God. In light of the atonement he would make, He offers her living water and says, “Whoever drinks of this water will never be thirsty again, and the water he gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The water he is speaking of is ultimately the Holy Spirit who opens our blind eyes, points us to Jesus and the cross, makes our spiritually dead hearts beat again, and causes us to rejoice in our God of mercy. He took our sinful hearts and made us whole, he calls us his children, and his banner over us is love. Instead of the wrath we deserve, we find forgiveness and peace in his presence, and this river of living water is eternal. It will never run dry.

I am not sure where you are right now spiritually, but if you have spent too much time focused on the things of this world, I am sure 2020 has left you discouraged and broken. Even we as believers can experience this when we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on our surroundings. This is what we see happening to Peter when he was walking on water, and he began to sink. The more we focus on the waves, the further we will descend until we find this world overwhelming us. Our society at large is undoubtedly sinking right now. This spiritual blindness so permeates our culture that it is attacking itself trying to find its happiness and hope in a world that cannot deliver.

What the world needs now more than anything is the living water that Christ offers, but we will only find it by being spiritually-minded and spending time with Jesus in his word and in prayer. As Christians, Christ is with us no matter what we face in this life. Sickness, racial injustice, and even riots cannot separate us from his love: even when injustice is directed toward us and at our front door.

The living water is a spring overflowing with joy, joy in the Lord. Joy in knowing he has forgiven us of our sins and healed us of our spiritual blindness. Joy in knowing no matter how bad this world may get, he will will not lose us and eventually return to set it all right. My question for you is, do you have this joy, or is your heart overwhelmed by the troubles of 2020? It is proper for us to have hearts filled with lament at times like these, but that lament can coexist in the full confidence in our great Savior.

How do we navigate these turbulent waters? How do we express our lament and reveal our hope? We cannot do it in our own strength, it is only through the Living Water himself, the Holy Spirit. If you are weak and unable to shine forth the light of your Savior, then turn to your eyes to him, he will restore your joy, and the joy of the Lord will be your strength. Did you catch that? The joy of the Lord will be your strength.

If there is anything Christians need now more than ever, it is strength. We need strength to be who Christ has called us to be, strength to be a city on a hill, strength to have hope during a pandemic and the resulting economic collapse, and power to model Christ’s example of the way past racial prejudice, violence, and anger. He broke down the racial wall when he broke down the wall between Jew and Gentile. In Christ, He destroys the artificial categories of class. All are one in Christ Jesus.

It is only in Christ that we will be able to love our enemies and return good for evil. It will only be in knowing our sinfulness and the grace we have received that we will be able to show mercy to those who mistreat us. As the world works to build higher and stronger walls of separation, Jesus has called us to break them down with the love of God, and there will be nothing easy about it. Others will mistreat us in the process, and as our scars begin to show, may the Spirit use them to draw people to the nail-scared hands, the only hands that can heal our world. We will only be able to live a life like that if we make sure our eyes are on Jesus, and we are drinking deeply of the living water.

-D.Eaton

Why Many People are Experiencing Anxiety at the Thought of Life Getting Back to Normal


As the nation slowly lifts its restrictions, there is a conflict going on in the hearts of many people. While many are tired of the lockdowns and rejoice at the thought of going to work, getting out to see friends, sitting in a restaurant, going shopping, and even gathering at church, many of those same people are experiencing anxiety about life returning to normal. Why is that? The answer that is not what you would expect.

The reason many people are feeling anxious about life returning to normal has nothing to do with the threat of COVID-19. Even when they look further into the future when the coronavirus threat is gone completely, their hearts still shiver at the thought of going back to the way things were.

Though many people have personally experienced economic distress, been rightly concerned about government overreach, and have dealt with the emotional fallout due to the lack of face-to-face human interaction, there are aspects of this cultural slowdown that many people have enjoyed.

It is possible to hate every negative aspect listed above and yet still unselfishly enjoy the fact that you now have more time with your family. It is no contradiction to detest the economic decline and at the same time to feel stress levels drop when you drive because the freeways are clear, and you are now able to get to your destination in half the time. It is even possible to feel the emotional toll on your children when they cannot participate in the activities they love and still find relief that you can enjoy your weekend without having to be in five different places on Saturday.

Though these benefits of the pandemic lockdown certainly have not outweighed the costs, the current cultural slowdown has many people reexamining their lives and asking the question, “What kind of life do I want to live when this is all over?” The thought of “everything” going back to normal can be a cause of concern for many people.

The way through this anxiety is to consider carefully what to let back in your life and what to discard. As we bring each piece of our old life back into play, we need to ask ourselves, what price am I willing to pay for the reward this gives me. Most activities will require little thought. Going back to work, being active in your church, and a host of other things will, and should, be embraced with open arms. However, for example, maybe Sunday should only be reserved for worship, family, and friends. Perhaps we were created to have a day of rest, and part of the anxiety we feel at the thought of going back to the way things were, stems from the fact that we had abandoned that practice. Maybe human flourishing happens best when we have a day of rest each week.

If our lives were so busy that we did not have time to enjoy our families or to pause and reflect, going back to “normal” is certainly not healthy. Some people were so overloaded they never had time to consider the purpose of it all until now.  As we add pieces back into our lives, it is perfectly acceptable to leave unnecessary activity out if it adds little value to your life yet contributes to your exhaustion. It is not only acceptable, it is the right thing to do.

As authorities lift restrictions, now is the perfect time to ask ourselves, “What kind of life do I want to live?” As Christians, self-examination is an essential discipline of our spiritual lives. We are called continually, and especially on the Lord’s Day, to pause and realign our lives to God’s design for us. Maybe realizing we have permission to live a less-frantic life, even when all this is over, will calm the misgivings that arise at the thought of the lockdowns ending.

Hectic lives are often the result of having too many targets we are trying to hit; too many masters we are trying to please. As Jesus said, we are not able to serve more than one master (Matt. 6:24). My prayer is that during the weeks of quarantine, the Lord has reminded us all that there is only one worthy calling, and that is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Whatever does not tend toward this glorious end in our lives is expendable.

-D. Eaton

Truth in a Culture of Noise

We are a people clamoring to be heard. Everyone seems to have a grievance they want to air, and it seems someone else will be offended by those complaints which only compounds the outrage. When their voices are drowned by the flood of protests, many people will raise their pitch and resort to all kinds of deceptive strategies to get people to pay attention. Even journalists have degraded their profession by using misleading headlines to coax us into clicking their links. Contrary to Thoreau, many people are no longer living lives of quiet desperation, instead, they broadcast their desperation like a distorted siren. I suppose the world has always been this way; after all, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Still, with the introduction of the internet and social media, it all seems amplified these days.

As the world continues shouting for attention, truth has fallen in the streets (Isaiah 59:14). Our culture has replaced reason with emotions. Instead of talking about issues, we voice our feelings, trumpet our offense, and label those who disagree with us as evil. Personal attacks rule the day. We judge people for their judging, unaware of our hypocrisy. In a world that believes truth is relative and autonomy is the highest value, anything and nothing can be stated as truth, and those who disagree will be labeled as bigots.

He who shouts the loudest is the winner. We shout on television, we shout on online, we shout with our pocketbooks, and more and more we seem to see people starting to shout with violent protests. Since we can no longer reason, anyone who believes in truth and threatens the dogma of relativism will be bullied. Might makes right is the only logical outcome in a culture that denies reality.

It should not surprise us that many people use the word “hate” like a bully uses his fists: to dominate and intimidate. If this culture does not like what you say, it will try to silence you with trigger warnings and accusations of micro-aggressions. They sneer, “We will not listen to reason because you were found wanting the moment you violated us by failing to celebrate our narrative. If you do not bow to secularism’s subjective dictates, we will beat you into submission with social pressure and slander if we can gain enough power.” They will work to destroy your good name and subject you to cancel culture. These days, he who shuns evil makes himself a prey (Isaiah 14:15).

Despite the noise of this fallen world, the word of God never fails. Truth does not bow to pressure because truth cannot be altered. The word of the Lord is firmly fixed in the heavens (Psalm 119:89). Though the light goes out into the world, and men love darkness rather than light (John 3:19), the word of the Lord will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

The grass will wither, and the flower may fade, but the word of the Lord endures forever (Isaiah 40:8). It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of the law to fail (Luke 16:17). We, as His children, have not been born of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, we were born again through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23), and we have nothing to fear because our lives are hidden in him (Colossians 3:3).

Every word of God is pure, and he is a shield to those who put their trust in him. Those who add to his words, or take away words, he will rebuke, and they will be found to be liars (Proverbs 30:5–6). The word of God is the rock upon which we must build our lives, for all other ground is sinking sand (Matthew 7:24-27). As believers, we do not need to compete with the noise of the world by raising our voices and playing its games of desperation, but we must speak, whatever the consequences (Acts 4:20). We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

We have been commissioned by the Word of God himself, Jesus Christ, to go into all the world with his truth. It will not be our ingenuity or our volume that gives the word of God its strength. Its power is inherent. It is truth, and it will stand forever. It will be a light to our feet and a lamp unto our path (Psalm 119:105). If we abide in his word, we are truly his disciples, and we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free (John 8:31-32).

For Christians, temptations surround us to silence us. The enemy will whisper that scripture is dull and no one will listen to you. It will not earn you likes or shares so why bother. If you resist that warning, the threats will begin to be muttered reminding you that you will lose friends. You will become irrelevant. You will be labeled as narrow-minded, and the accusations will not be fair or truthful. The attacks on your character will be amplified to distortion, and they could leave you unemployable if you live out the Christian faith in public.

In light of all that, what will you do? At the end of the day, all Christians must answer the following question. Do I trust the word of God enough to continue speaking truth in a culture of noise?

D. Eaton

The Great Depression, Pandemics, and a Benefit of Hard Times

The good times are to be expected, and the hard times are surprising and strange. Perhaps that unconscious assumption is causing us grief. Wendell Berry, in his book, Jayber Crow, describes the “old-timers” in a way that seems lost on many people today. He says: “As much as any of the old-timers, he regarded the Depression as not over and done with but merely absent for a while, like Halley’s comet.”

Though many wrongly interpret this disposition as fear, there is health in this way of thinking. For many of us, politicians have promised us the world, and we have believed them. We may indeed chuckle at the thought that a single person thinks they have that much influence, still, conservatives and liberals alike often feel that the state of our existence will continue to progress and that humanity will build its tower to heaven. This thinking, of course, is foolishness. There are good days and bad days ahead for all of us. Pandemics, economic collapse, and the threat of government overreach are nothing new. They have all happened in the past, and they will occur again in the future. Scripture itself tells us that when fiery trials come upon us, we should not think that something strange is happening to us (1 Pet. 4:12).

Bringing this to a more personal level, as long as our health is robust and our jobs feel secure, we think we can handle anything, but in the words of the late Rich Mullins, “We are not as strong as we think we are.” It does not take much for us to feel our weakness. The problem is that when our vulnerability is not apparent, a false sense of our competency begins to blind us.

For the Christian, hard times might not be the blight on our existence we think them to be. If we believe God’s word, which reminds us that God is working in our favor as much in the hard times as in the good, we have no reason to panic during the difficult days, as we are prone to do.

When I think, for example, about how quickly I am prone to forget about my daily dependence upon God through prayer, I thank the Lord for the days that knock me to my knees. I am much better off on my knees in prayer after taking a hit than walking confidently without Him. Charles Spurgeon said, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

Maybe it is just me, but too many “good” days in a row, and I begin to forget that we are living in a fallen world. Even when evidence surrounds me, I deceive myself with a false sense of self-sufficiency, and it is not until life hits me with a reminder of my frailty that I am brought back to a favorable frame of mind.  If this is true, then some of my “hard’ times are actually my good times, and some of my “good” times are my hard times. Some days it is abundantly clear how much I need Jesus. On the other days, I am delusional.

For the Christian, our eternal well-being is not bound up in the pleasures of this life. The scoffers will say this kind of talk reveals our deficiency, and they are right. I will boast all the more in my weakness. I contributed nothing to my salvation, and I have no strength of my own to contribute to the Christian life. I will praise God for the days I lay helpless at His feet because those days he has promised that in my weakness his strength will rest upon me. When the hard times hit, and we find ourselves entirely dependent upon our God, it is time to draw up under the wing of our Savior and start paying attention because his power is about to be revealed in his people.

-D. Eaton

Social Media: When a Distraction Starts to Feel Like an Obligation

We all know some of the benefits of social media. Whether it is staying in touch with family and friends, keeping up on the latest news, or a little entertainment, social media can deliver. These are the reasons we started using it, but as I mentioned in another post, when it comes to social media, the benefits rarely outweigh the costs. The main reason is because we tend to misuse it. To get the advantages mentioned above, we rarely need to spend more than 20 minutes a week on these platforms; an hour, at the most, is usually enough.

I am not talking about people who have social media responsibilities in their job descriptions or use it as a form of income. For those people, the benefits increase dramatically, so they can better shoulder some of the burdens that come with it. I am talking about the general user. The last thing the architects of these platforms want you to do is to use it wisely. They make their money by getting you to spend as much time online as possible so they can collect a more extensive and more accurate marketing profile on you. That way, they can profit off of the information they have collected by selling it to advertisers who are looking for people like you, and you need to be online to see those ads.

To get you to spend more time online, they employ multiple tactics that I talked about in this post. All I want to do now is point out a quick test to see if you are experiencing mission drift with your social media usage. Mission drift is when you set out to accomplish one thing but unconsciously end up pursuing something else. In some cases, it can be positive; in other cases, it can be harmful.

If you started to use social media for the primary reasons already mentioned, one of the ways you can detect mission drift in your usage is to ask yourself how obligated you feel to check these sites continually. Remember, you started to use them to make them serve you, but if the feeling of obligation is strong, maybe you are beginning to serve them.

If you are unsure if you feel an obligation to social media, ask yourself this question. How would you feel if you were to step away from these platforms entirely for two weeks? For most of us, there is an instant internal spike of concern. We think we have too much at stake to do something like that. How would I know what is going on? What if someone commented on one of my old posts, and I would look bad if I did not respond? Would the people I interact with start to forget about me? I have worked hard to cultivate these followers; would I lose them? All these questions could be warning signs that something unhealthy is taking place.

These feelings of obligation are one of the main reasons why the majority of people who spend long periods on social media struggle with more anxiety and depression than those who do not. Social media has a way of making us feel like we have more on our plate than we do, and it gives us next to nothing in return. It can also give us a false sense of accomplishment because we think we somehow have met our social media obligation. The problem is, in the end, we have not accomplished anything that will last. Social media is some of the shallowest of all shallow work.

If you have been feeling a strong obligation to social media, maybe now is the perfect time to take a week off to see what life is like without always checking in. My guess is you will not miss it as much as you think you will. Likely, you will find your week off more fulfilling than the weeks you are active online. If that is the case, there are ways to adjust your usage going forward to gain the benefits without incurring as high a cost. In the end, it never hurts to take a closer look at our habits and reevaluate what we are doing because, as Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

-D. Eaton