Celebrities Sing Communist Manifesto

As if we are not suffering enough already, celebrities decided to sing John Lennon’s song, Imagine, to encourage us, but do they realize that Lennon himself described Imagine as “virtually the Communist Manifesto.” Secularism has no good hymns.

What do you sing to the world when you have no real hope to offer?

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

You pretend there is no heaven or hell, so nothing you do in this life has any eternal consequences. Nothing like telling people who are facing a pandemic that is taking lives that there is no heaven. You then tell people to live only for today, which, of course, would be the worst thing you could do during coronavirus. After all, is that not what the spring breakers in Florida are doing, and everyone is upset about that, but if celebrities sing it, it is “beautiful.”

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do

They would go on and ask us to pretend like there are no countries, while borders are closed for their protection.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

They would continue by telling the world to imagine there are no possession, while they record these videos from the safety of their homes that they certainly are not sharing with the world.

And no religion too

Finally, they would ask us to imagine a world without religion, but it is secularism’s denial of the living God that leaves them in a place where they have nothing to offer the world. Imagine is really the best hymn secularism can offer, and it is terrible.

Secularism hates the idea that we are made in the image of God but that we have fallen into sin. They hate the idea that we are glorious creatures in an abnormal state because they say it is demeaning to think of humanity that way. Then they declare that “God is dead,” but if God is dead, so is humanity.

It is a secular philosophy of life that says, as messed up as we are, we are not in an abnormal state. We are evolving creatures, and there was never a time when we were more glorious than we are now. So if you look around and see the despair, it is important to remember this is the best secularism can offer you.

The remedy to all of this is to look around and see that things are not the way they should be. Man is not in his most glorious state; something is seriously wrong. This is why things like covid-19 exist. Sin has touched us all, but unlike the secular worldview that leaves us in our despair, the truth of Christianity lets us know that even though we have fallen, God has provided a way for us to be redeemed.

Our guilt, even though it is true guilt against the Holy God of the universe and not just an internal feeling, can be forgiven through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who took our punishment on the cross. For those who come to him in faith, our relationship with our creator is restored. We, at that moment, are given a new life in Christ, and he begins a work in us that he promises to fulfill when he calls us home. For those of us who know Jesus, never forget that we are part of the greatest campaign ever imagined: to know God. Our calling is to glorify him and enjoy him forever. One day, all things will be set right. Maybe next time celebrities will sing us a gospel song.

-D. Eaton

A Pandemic in the Hand of God

The Lord is on my side, I will not fear. – Psalm 118:6

What can illness do to the Christian? Is it not in the sovereign hands of the Lord? Every pain and every distress is under the supreme authority of our God. Even if Satan and his legions are involved, they are only permitted to go as far as His hand allows, and He could reverse their work in an instant if he decided to do so. Even if the illness is due to sinful choices, is not Jesus the forgiver of sins and restorer?

If we face any illness, no matter the cause, God does not cease to be in control. Did He know this was coming? Does He have the power to stop it? Most certainly. The logic that flows from these two truths is that God is the final decision-maker for everything that comes against us.

What, then, can illness do to us if it is under the providence of God? It can afflict, but not crush. It can perplex, but cannot drive us to despair. It can even strike down, but it cannot destroy.

On the contrary, sickness, sovereignly wielded like a scalpel in the hand of our good God, can only heal us. For all things work together for those that love Him (Rom. 8:28), and disease certainly does not fall outside the category of “all things.” By it, He weans us from the passing treasure of this world, and He teaches us to redeem the time. In all of it, He is spurring us on to holiness, and holiness is where we will find our true happiness.

Lord, we resign ourselves to your perfect will. We will fight for our health because your word tells us our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and anyone who destroys the temple will also be destroyed (1 Cor. 3:16-17). However, we leave the results of our fight in your hands because we know that even if the outward man is wasting away, the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Cor. 4:16).

We will not look on the things that are seen but the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). In this way, we will not lose hope, and we will find peace in the pain, deliverance in the distress, and healing in the hurt.

-D. Eaton

CCM Backbeat: 5 Songs of Comfort

With everything going on, I thought I could benefit from a break from all the current events for a CCM Backbeat. Hopefully you will be encouraged as well. Here are five classic CCM songs of comfort.

1. He Will Make Always Make a Way – Farrell & Farrell (1984)

Let’s start with something a little fun with a true 80’s vibe.

I read the news today, oh boy
Pressures come from every side
Circumstantial evidence
Makes me want to run and hide

But nothing comes against me
That isn’t common to the rest of man
And Jesus gives me strength to carry on

So, I know He will always make a way for me
Never leave me without possibility
He will always make a way for me
Never leave me on my own

Old temptation seems to know
When I’m weakest in my mind
Tries to turn my head around
While he sneaks up from behind

But god is faithful not to let
Temptation be too much for me
And He provides the means of my escape

Temptation will come – it’s always at hand
But whatever comes I’m gonna stand
I can survive knowing He will supply all I need

2. Higher Ways – Steven Curtis Chapman (1990)

The following song ministered to me quite a bit during my later high school years and college . God’s ways can always be trusted.

If I could only fly
I’d go up and look down from the sky
So I could see the bigger picture
And Lord if I could sit with You

At Your feet for an hour or two
I’m sure I’d ask too many questions
‘Cause there’s so much going on down here
That I must confess I just don’t understand

But I have prayed
And at your feet my whole life has been laid
So I won’t worry I won’t be afraid
‘Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways
Let the road ahead become unclear
I am Yours so what have I to fear
If my soul is resting on Your higher ways

Your higher ways teach me to trust You
Your higher ways are not like mine
Your higher ways are the ways of the Father
Hiding His children in His love

But I have prayed
And at your feet my whole life has been laid
So I won’t worry I won’t be afraid
‘Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways
Let the road ahead become unclear
I am Yours so what have I to fear
If my soul is resting on Your higher ways

So let it rain
And if my eyes grow dim with tears of pain
This hope I have will not be washed away
‘Cause my soul is resting on Your higher ways

Maybe then You will take me aside
And show me the bigger picture
But until I’m with You
I’ll be here with a heart that is true
And a soul that’s resting on
Your higher ways

3. He Covers Me – Steve Camp (1986)

I am not sure I can tell you how much this song encouraged me when I was younger, and it still comforts me to this day. The weight of sin is heavy, but He covers me.

Oh, Lord, I feel so barren
And ashamed of who I am
How I often fell, I hid it well
It is a lie I cannot defend
So I lean upon Your mercy
As I confess my sin to You
There is no easy way, no saving face
When I finally see the truth
So let my life be filled with only You, oh…

I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me
And though the trials never end
I’ve learned to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me

Sometimes the pressure builds around me
And I feel about to break
I suffer painfully from wrongs done to me
But vengeance isn’t mine to take
So let me glory in my weakness
Until Your strength’s revealed in me
It is Your grace, oh Lord, that helps me carry on
To be the man I long to be
So let Your life be perfected, Lord, in me
Until it’s You they see

I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me
And though the trials never end
I’ve learned to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me

And though heartache surrounds me
I know Your love is around me
Nothing can separate me from You
And I know it’s true

I know someday I will be free
The weight of sin shall be released
But for now He covers me, oh, my Lord
And though the trials never end
I’ve learned to take them as my friend
For each day He covers me
He covers me

But for now He covers me
I will be free
(I know someday I will be free)
Oh, Lord I will be free
(The weight of sin shall be released)
But for now He covers me
He covers me

4. Ready for the Storm – Rich Mullins (1988)

Though this song is not the most theologically rich, the poetic lyrics cut right to the heart with jolt of courage.

The waves crash in
The tide rolls out
It’s an angry sea
But there is no doubt
That the lighthouse
Will keep shining out
To warn a lonely sailor

And the lightning strikes
And the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor’s bones
Through the sailor’s soul
‘Til there’s nothing left
That he can hold
Except a rolling ocean

Oh, I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
I’m ready for the storm

Oh, give me mercy
For my dreams
‘Cause every confrontation seems
To tell me
What it really means
To be this lonely sailor

And when the sky begins to clear
The sun it melts away my fear
And I cry a silent weary tear
For those who mean to love me

Oh, I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
I’m ready for the storm

The distance it is no real friend
And time will take its time
And you will find that in the end
It brings you me
This lonely sailor

And when You take me by the hand
And You love me, Lord, You love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened

Oh, I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
Yes, sir, ready
I am ready for the storm
I’m ready for the storm

5. Medley: Only Jesus and Calvary’s Love – Steve Green (1986)

This song explains the reason we can be ready for the storm. If you are not familiar with this song, do not be turned off by the slow beginning. The build as the song progresses is incredible.

Only Jesus, Only He
Brings redemption, full and free
There’s a yearning, in all our lives
That only Jesus satisfies

Calvary’s love will sail forever
Bright and shining, strong and free
Like an ark of peace and safety
On the sea of human need

Through the hours of all the ages
Those tired of sailing on their own
Finally rest inside the shadow
Cast by Calvary’s love across their souls

Calvary’s love, Calvary’s love
Priceless gift Christ makes us worthy of
The deepest sin can’t rise above
Calvary’s love

Calvary’s love can heal the Spirit
Life has crushed and cast aside
And redeem til Heaven’s promise
Fills with joy once empty eyes

So desire to tell His story
Of a love that loved enough to die
Burns away all other passions
And fed by Calvary’s love becomes a fire

Calvary’s love, Calvary’s love
Priceless gift Christ makes us worthy of
The deepest sin can’t rise above
Calvary’s love

Calvary’s love has never faltered
All its wonders still remain
Souls still take eternal passage
Sins atoned and heaven gained
Sins forgiven and heaven gained

Bonus Song: In the Night (My Hope Lives On) – Andrew Peterson (2010)

Here is something a little more recent as a bonus. I cannot help but share this masterpiece by Andrew Peterson.

I am weary with the pain of Jacob’s wrestling
In the darkness with the fear, in the darkness with the fear
But he met the morning wounded with a blessing
So in the night, my hope lives on

And when Elisha woke surrounded by the forces
Of the enemies of God, the enemies of God
He saw the hills aflame with angels on their horses
So in the night, my hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

I see the slave that toils beneath the yoke unyielding
And I can hear the captive groan, hear the captive groan
For some hand to stay the whip his foe is wielding
Still in the night, my hope lives on

I see the armies of the enemy approaching
And the people driven, trembling, to the shore
But a doorway through the waters now is opening
So in the night, my hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

Like the son who thought he’d gone beyond forgiveness
Too ashamed to lift his head, but if he could lift his head
He would see his father running from a distance
In the night, my hope lives on

And I can see the crowd of men retreating
As He stands between the woman and their stones
And if mercy in His holy heart is beating
Then in the night, my hope lives on

Well I remember how they scorned the son of Mary
He was gentle as a lamb, gentle as a lamb
He was beaten, He was crucified, and buried
And in the night, my hope was gone

But the rulers of this earth could not control Him
No, they did not take His life, He laid it down
And all the chains of death could never hope to hold Him
So in the night, my hope lives on

And I can see the Son of Man descending
And the sword He swings is brighter than the dawn
And the gates of hell will never stand against Him
So in the night, my hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

Oh in the night
Oh in the night
Oh in the night
My hope lives on

This list could go on and on. What are some of your favorite songs of comfort?

-D. Eaton

Take Time to Appreciate Grocery Store Workers

Grocery store and supermarket workers are some of the most valuable members of society right now, and they look exhausted. We must realize that not only are they working extremely hard; they are also vulnerable to cornavirus because of their constant interaction with large groups of people.

Almost every job in society is important. Though most of them tend to be under-appreciated, there are times when events highlight the importance of their role in our way of life. Grocery workers, this is your time. Typically, you meet our demands so well we do not even realize you are doing it, but we notice you now.

Imagine the chaos that would ensue if you were not there to keep things running. I am sure you have experienced anxious customers over the past several days, please be patient with us. For all of us who will be shopping these stores, let us go out of our way to show our gratitude. Grocery store workers, thank you for your work. We appreciate you.

-D. Eaton

Church and Social Distancing: Not An Issue of Faith Over Fear

To say the decision to cancel church or not because of coronavirus is an issue of faith over fear is uncharitable, or at least unthoughtful. Dealing with covid-19 has us in an unprecedented time, and local congregations must decide how to continue to worship, protect its people, and be good citizens as well. Too often, people speak of this issue as a matter of whether the local church has enough faith, or if they will fail to trust God and let fear control them. Though fear may have played a role in some congregations’ decision to cancel its worship service this weekend, to speak of this issue in this way in general, exposes a failure to think deeply about what we are facing.

It would be just as wrong to say that all churches should opt for virtual services as it would be to say that all churches should gather as usual. Each church has a different context. Some are large, and some are small. Some are in rural settings that are naturally socially distanced, and others are in urban areas. Each church must evaluate what to do based on their context. To assume if a church opts not to gather, they are letting fear rule them, not only disparages our brothers and sisters in Christ; it is patently untrue for most congregations.

For those who say altering a church service due to covid-19 is a lack of faith, it is easy to point out their inconsistency by asking them some questions. Did you cancel your greeting time? Did you provide hand sanitizer for those in attendance? Did you ask the sick to stay home? Did you make any changes to protect your people? If they answer “yes” to any of these questions, simply apply their argument to them and ask why they failed to trust God? Of course, we need to do it in love. We must do it in a way that lets them know we care for them. We do not want to be uncharitable ourselves.

It is not a matter of faith over fear; it is a matter of where each congregation needs to draw the line to protect its people and society as a whole. Christ calls us to love our neighbors, and if it is in the best interest of those around us to keep our distance, it would be unloving to meet in person. Each church needs to make the decision that best fits their situation. If anything is an example of Christian liberty, this should be it. Hopefully, with a little more thought, we will stop speaking of this as a matter of faith over fear out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are only doing what they need to do to be wise stewards of what God has entrusted to them.

-D. Eaton

Our Current Cultural Slowdown

If it were not for the economic distress caused to people and families by so many businesses, schools, and events scaling back due to coronavirus, a cultural slowdown could have been a good thing—kind of like a well-needed sabbath.

Let us face it, we all move too fast, and technology has only heightened that over the past few decades. Now, I do not want to dismiss the sufferings that coronavirus is unleashing on the world. There will be deaths, some people will lose their homes and jobs, and it may take a while for us climb out of what we are facing. With that said, however, there may be a few benefits, and society may have a minute to catch its breath. Since it is happening anyway, maybe we can learn something from it.

Much of the activity we engage in is unnecessary and ultimately exhausting. We are a culture that has virtually lost the ability to pause and reflect. Most people are unable to stand in line at the grocery store without feeling a pang of inactivity that causes them to pick up their phones for relief. Our jobs never end because our email is always in our pocket, and even when we do have downtime, we feel the anxiety of the need to catch up on TV shows, movies, and events. The fear of missing out is a real thing and affects us more than we realize, and with all those options comes decision fatigue. We are an exhausted culture.

There is a reason why God rested on the seventh day of creation. It was not that He was tired, he was showing us, by example, that rest is good. When I was growing up, which was not that long ago, most businesses closed on Sunday. Our culture has entirely abandoned that way of life, and it has cost us. Socrates was right when he said the unexamined life is not worth living. We have so filled our lives with shallow activity that we fail to examine anything other than the next shiny thing vying for our attention and time.

The problem with failing to pause and reflect is that the longer you do it, the more difficult it is to begin again. The first reason is that we have crowded it out of our calendars, and the first thing marketing 101 teaches us is that we are more driven to keep something we already have than we are about getting something we have not needed up to this point. This truth is why marketing often includes phrases similar to “do not miss out,” rather than “get one of these.” Once our schedule is too full, whether it be work demands, social commitments, or even social media engagement, it is always harder to step away than it was to begin in the first place because we now have something we do not want to lose. Trimming your commitments will always be troublesome.

The second reason it is difficult to slow down enough to begin to pause and reflect is, when we start to ponder our current existence, we begin to see how much we have drifted away from who Christ has called us to be, and that is painful to realize. C.S. Lewis once told a story about a night he woke up with a toothache. It was the middle of the night, and he was hurting. Lewis knew that if he told his mother, she would give him painkillers, and he would be able to go back to sleep, but he did not do it. He laid there for hours in pain before the agony forced him to go to her. He said, “Why did I wait so long to go to her? Because I knew, even though she could offer me relief, the next morning, she would have a dentist appointment scheduled to get to the root of the problem.”

Lewis’ example paints a picture of many of us. We have been so distracted for so long; we do not know what it is we have been distracted from. As believers, Jesus has called us to walk with him; to abide in the vine. The reality is many of us have not been doing that. We know pains and anxieties plague our lives, but we are afraid to slow down enough to go our Savior because we know the minute we do, though he will comfort us, he will also call us to make some more significant changes in the way we live.

My prayer is that, though the fallout from Covid-19 is more than I want anyone to face, since we are forced into a cultural slowdown anyway, it will be a time of drawing close to our Savior. A time where we are unable to bury our spiritual pains in a flurry of activity. Most importantly, however, that we will then take those pains to our Heavenly Father, who can heal us with the balm of Gilead. The blood of Jesus can wash us clean from our sinfulness, and even though He may schedule a root canal for us the next day, we will learn, at that moment, that we can trust him no matter where he leads.

Once this cultural slowdown is complete, and we have had a tasted and seen that the Lord is good even amid hardship, my prayer will be that we will return to a new normal. A less frantic life. One more centered on our true calling, glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

-D. Eaton

More on being too busy:
Christian, You Need to Slow Down

10 Ways to Fight Fear

In light of all the uneasiness caused by coronavirus and its fallout in the economy, I thought it would be helpful to post this timely wisdom by Isaac Watts.

Fear is an excellent provision of God to guard us from many dangers when fixed on a proper object and proper degree. When God is the object of our fear, we are able to maintain a holy awe of his majesty, and it awakens a constant desire in us to please him. But when fear ruffles the spirit, throws the soul into unrest, and turns us from a steady course of duty, it becomes a sinful and forbidden passion.

For some, fear is a constant tyrant over them. This ought to stir them up as far as possible to shake off this bondage that robs them of comfort. May the Spirit help the following methods to be happily successful.

1. Keep your faith awake and living.

Remember you are under the special eye and protection of your God and Savior! Brighten your faith and hope daily by a frequent examination of your hearts, and walking before God. Commit your souls into the hands of Jesus and his Spirit for pardoning and renewing grace. A living faith gives divine courage. Faith is a noble shield to ward off fear, and our helmet is the hope of our salvation.

2. Take heed of defiling your souls with sensuality.

Guilt will create fear and fill the soul with perplexing tumult of thoughts.

3. Consider the covenant of grace as a blessed treasury.

Here is an armor of defense found for every assault and danger! Get a large acquaintance with the promises of the gospel, that in every special time of need you may have a suitable word of refuge and support. In special seasons of trial keep your mind fixed upon some single promise that is most suited to the present danger or suffering, and to the present taste and relish of your soul. Fixing and living on a particular word of grace for the whole day will let it abide on your heart and whisper to your soul the divine sweetness in the dark and solitary watches of the night. In a fresh assault, fly to the word you have chosen for your refuge and meditation.

4. Pursue the spirit of prayer, and moral strength and courage will descend upon you!

Address the throne of God with earnestness and faith, and cry to the God of your salvation without ceasing. He gives renewed strength for the battle, courage in the midst of tears, and he can preserve and secure us in the most extreme peril. He may repel the most imminent danger, and rebukes the spirit of fear to gain moral courage. While at the mercy seat, keep an eye on Christ Jesus your mediator, advocate, and the captain of your salvation. He is engaged to see you brought safely home to heaven. Many a feeble Christian, in coming to the mercy seat with overwhelming fears, has risen from his knees with a heavenly calmness and composure! The army of fears has vanished, and he has gone out to face the most formidable of his adversaries with divine resolution and courage.

5. Wean yourself more from the flesh and the delights belonging to the mortal life.

Learn to put off a little of that sinful tenderness for self which we brought into the world with us. One of the first lessons in the school of Christ is self-denial (Matthew 16:24). We must subdue this self-love and softness if we would be good soldiers of Jesus Christ and gain a spirit of sacred courage and resolution. We must be dead to the things of the flesh and sense if we would gain a victory over the complaints and groanings of nature.

6. Endeavor to keep yourselves always employed in some proper work, that your fears may be diverted.

If our thoughts and hands are idle and empty, we lie open to the invasion of our fears from every side. The imagination at leisure can sit and brood over its own terrors. Lack of occupation exposes the mind to frightful images that fancy can furnish.

7. Keep your eye on the hand of God in all the affairs of men.

View his powerful and overruling providence in all things, including your most troubling fears. Learn to see God in all things, and behold him as your God, and the distressing fears within you will have little influence to awaken the passions of your soul. Do thunder and lightning frightening you? In whose hands is the thunder? Who directs its flashes and every sweeping blast of wind or fire to its appointed place? Do political upheavals awaken your fears? Rejoice and stand firm amidst the tumult and the shaking of the nations (Psalm 46).

Perhaps personal dangers threaten your good name, estate, flesh, or your life. The presence of God is a universal spring of comfort and courage, and a wide-spreading shield against every mischief. Does slander, poverty, or sickness frighten you? Remember that diseases are your servants of our Lord Jesus, and he can bid pains and anguish of body go or come as he pleases. None will tarry with you beyond his appointed moment. He is a wise physician and he will deal tenderly with you. Are you afraid of persecuting enemies? These are but instruments to execute his divine purposes and are chained under the sovereign dominion of Christ. They cannot move or act beyond his permission! We are all immortal till our work is done!

8. Recollect your own experiences of the goodness of God in carrying you through former seasons of danger and sorrow.

Remember how high the tempest of your fears has sometimes risen, and how God has sunk them at once into silence. Remember how extreme your danger has been, but the eye of God has found a path of safety for you! He has led you as one blind by the way you didn’t know, and has made darkness light before you, and the crooked straight!

9. Consider the divine command to put aside fear.

Remember that exercising faith and showing courage are duties as well as blessings! “Fear not” is often repeated because God knows very well how prone our feeble natures are to become frightened at every appearance of danger (Matthew 10:28). The Lord of hosts alone is the proper object of our supreme fear. He will overrule and abolish all other fears. The fear of the Lord is an effectual cure for sinful fear. Christ chided his disciples when they were afraid in the storm. For a Christian to give himself up to the wild tyranny of his fears is contrary to the very spirit and design of the gospel (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember that you are the sons and daughters of God. It is below your dignity to yield to this slavery. Your Father himself reproves, and your Redeemer forbids it.

10. Consider the many advantages that arise from a courageous spirit in the midst of dangers.

It establishes your feet on a solid rock in the midst of the storms; it motivates you to practice every duty; it prevents many of the mischiefs you fear; it will preserve the soul and serenity and calmness under painful events of providence; it will make sorrows lighter, and the heaviest afflictions become more tolerable.

If we give in to fear, it throws the whole frame of our nature into tumult and confusion. Fear is a dreadful bondage of the soul, and holds the man in chains. It feels the smart of those very evils that frighten us at a distance that may never come near to us. When afraid, the very sufferings which are prevented by the mercy of God we must endure in our thoughts we must feel the pain of them by indulgence and excessive fear. But always remember, Jesus can support me in the heaviest distressed. He can bear me on the wings of faith and hope, high above the turmoils of life.

-Issac Watts

The Role of “Happiness” in Leaving the Faith

It is common these days to hear people who appeared to walk close to the Lord, announce to the world that they are embracing a sinful lifestyle, or that they have doubted their faith and are moving on to other things. Usually, these announcements involve a discussion of their happiness. They will allude to the fact that they were in a time of sorrow, but now they are happy. What should we think about such an announcement? Should we not be glad they are happy? Do we want them to be depressed? What we should think about when we hear these claims is the deceptive nature of sin.

Scripture says that our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and much too often, we do not take this warning seriously enough. Now, I do not claim to have insight into the exact reasons why each person would decide to grab on to their lusts and forsake their obedience to the Lord, but there are a few general contours which usually take place in all these cases.

First, it does not happen overnight. Falls of this nature usually progress from what we sometimes consider lesser sins. We are prone to wander, and we must always be on guard. Thoughts enter the mind, and instead of dealing with them, we begin to dwell upon them. Then those thoughts progress into small acts of compromise, and years later, there seems to be no way of reversing the trend. The warning here should be clear, with whatever sin we are dealing, one of the critical battlegrounds, if not the key battleground, is the mind and affections. We must take every thought captive and not wait until they manifest in other ways.

What does this have to do with happiness? Following Jesus disrupts our pleasure in pursuing sin even in our thought life. What we watch on TV, the music we choose to listen to, and what we spend our time looking at online are all free game. For the true Christian, once the Holy Spirit enters our life, a civil war between flesh and spirit begins. This struggle is not easy. For those who merely profess Christianity, it is even worse. Christianity disrupts their desires for sin, but they lack the Holy Spirit’s work in their lives to have any victory or find any joy in it. Talk about a recipe for depression. Though they experience common grace during this time, without a heart changed by the power of God and saving faith in him, failure is inevitable. You cannot subdue the flesh in the power of the flesh.

Second, comes the questioning of God. “Did the Lord really say?” is the question that inevitably comes to mind. During this point, whether consciously or unconsciously, something begins to cause them to put scripture in a place of lesser authority. Unfortunately, what usually takes its place, and causes revision to the clear interpretation of the word of God, is “happiness.” Some make this such a point in their announcements that they will admit that before they walked away, they had to take anti-depressants to cope. However, according to them, the good news is that they are happy now. So why would they bring this up? Though they often do not state it explicitly, it is for the simple reason that they want us to make the same logical conclusion they made. “If I am not happy, something must be wrong with my understanding of God or his word.” Of course, this understanding is typically the biblical understanding Christians have held thought the history of the church.

Third, churches often help lead them down this path. This trend of putting happiness first did not appear out of thin air. It saturates American evangelicalism. All we have to do is listen to Christian music, attend Christian conferences, or even attend the preaching in many churches to hear this message. Many Evangelical teachers and preachers have substituted the true gospel for something a little more palatable to culture, and the shift is subtle. Instead of preaching law and gospel where they tell us the truth that we need to come to Christ because we are sinners deserving of wrath and that the wages of sin is death, what many preach in its place are sorrow and self-esteem. The reason we need to come to Christ, they tell us, is not because we are sinners deserving wrath, but because we feel lonely, things aren’t going right in our life, and because we are unsatisfied at the moment. Jesus is no longer the mediator; he is our therapist. Jesus did not come to save us from our sin and guilt; he came to save us from our sadness. The problem with this is evident when we ask, what happens when a “Christian” becomes unhappy, lonely, or unsatisfied? What is the problem now? They already have Jesus. The issue must be with the way we interpret Jesus. And so it goes.

The problem is that striving against sin, whether in ourselves or culture, is never comfortable or pleasant. Striving against sin can even make us lonely, because some people will reject us for it, and we may also face times of heaviness and great sorrow because of it too.

The book of Hebrews makes this point; it encourages us to press on in our fight against sin. It reminds us that we “have not resisted to bloodshed striving against sin” (Heb. 12:4). The point of this verse is, we must strive against sin even if it gets us killed, which is certainly not a “happy” experience.

Here is what I want to say to those who have given in to their lusts to find “happiness.” Yes, it is hard struggling against sinful desires that war against your soul. It may cause you unhappiness for a time, but you have not yet resisted to bloodshed. It would be better to enter the kingdom of heaven after a long and unpleasant fight than to go to hell on beds of ease. Come home! Repent, find forgiveness in Jesus, and start fighting against sin again, for any temporary happiness you think you now experience will be short-lived. Even though living a life battling with sin may be tough, it cannot be compared to the glory that awaits us in heaven with our Savior.

Sin is deceptive and always looks good at first, but it always promises more than it can deliver. In the end, when you walk away, what you are gaining is the paltry tin of worldly pleasures, and you are giving away the glory of possessing the pearl of great price, Jesus Christ. Even in our darkest nights, he has promised to be with us in the dungeon. He is our light in the darkness, our food when we are hungry, the living water when we are thirsty, and, most importantly, our forgiveness for our sins. Once we understand our sin and forgiveness, we know that anything short of hell is mercy, and, at that moment, we find joy and realize that he does turn our mourning into dancing. In the end, Jesus is our joy, but he will never be that if we do not understand our sin is the real reason we need him, not our sadness. It is here that we begin to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

For anyone who claims to be a Christian but has drifted into sin, I pray, if you will not repent now, that you are a true Christian who will be brought back by the chastening hand of the Lord (Heb. 12:11). The unfortunate thing for many who find themselves in this situation is that they never come back because they are not his, and scripture is clear:

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. -Hebrews 12:8

The only reason why someone would ultimately and finally fall away from the faith is an unregenerate heart. May we all be aware of the roaring lion and his tactics. May we guard our hearts diligently even when it is painful. I, for one, will not be glad when someone who professed Christ claims to find happiness in his or her sinful lifestyle. Instead, I will weep for them to come home.

-D. Eaton

The Great Toilet Paper Shortage

If you want to see one of the strange ways our collective anxiety can manifest itself, go to Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, or Costco and look at the toilet paper aisle. The shelves will be empty. When I first began seeing posts about this on social media, I chuckled thinking it was probably just a few random stores. Then, yesterday, I needed to run some errands, and I paid a visit to a few of these stores. All of them were the same. The toilet paper shelves were empty, and it didn’t matter where I went. It seems to be this way all over the United States. Other countries are experiencing this as well.

Coronavirus, also known a covid-19, has many people feeling vulnerable. What is interesting, however, is that according to the New York Times on Saturday, there have only been 500 reported cases in the United States. Now, I do not want to belittle that number. We do not want this to spread, but we have hardly reached hysteria-level proportions. As of my last check, the death rate for the virus is around 3.2%. To give you some context, the flu has a death rate around 0.5%, so covid-19 is a bit more serious, but it is nothing like SARS which had close to a 15% death rate. How contagious is the coronavirus? The flu has a contagious rate of about 1.2. That means that for every person who gets the flu, it will be transmitted to 1.2 people. The coronavirus is slightly higher at 2.2, and, thankfully, it is not airborne, as many people originally feared.

As you read the stats above, I assume you had a reasonable response. First, I hope we felt concern for those infected, and like any virus, I hope we all will do our part to keep our hands clean and help prevent the virus from spreading. Second, I hope we saw this for what it is. Though concern is warranted, it is not something over which we need to panic, even if it does make us feel a little unsafe. What I want to focus on for a few paragraphs, however, is not the disease itself, but our feelings of vulnerability that seem to be manifesting themselves in strange ways. As Christians, our response should be different.

When something like the possibility of the coronavirus comes into our lives, our façade of safety and security begins to fade quickly. Our anxieties rear their head and begin to show, even if we try to keep them under wraps. To be honest, I am less concerned about coronavirus than I am of the uneasiness of the culture around me. I have a feeling that when many people went to the store this weekend, they did not think to themselves, “I need to buy extra toilet paper because of the coronavirus.” What probably happened is that they went to the store and saw the supplies running low or completely out, and thought, I better get some before it is all gone. If other people are this alarmed, maybe I should be too. It appears that the fears of others are more contagious than covid-19.

Truly, it would not take much to disrupt our delicate cultural ecosystem and send us into a panic. Hoarding paper goods is a perfect reminder of this fact. If you think about it, there is no shortage of toilet paper. There is as much there as there has always been. What changed is that coronavirus reminded us that we are not bulletproof, and many people do not know how to deal with feelings like that.

The answer to these problems is not what culture often tells us it is. The answer is not to try to calm ourselves by convincing ourselves that everything will be fine. Our job is not to whip up enough courage to convince ourselves that we are a shield unto ourselves. Nor to pretend that nothing can touch us because we are the captains of our destiny. To do that would be like trying to hide behind the walls of Jericho. It is false security that will soon come crashing down.

We also do not need to run out and follow the anxieties of others in their irrational shopping. What we need to do is admit our vulnerability and turn to the One who will never be shaken. As Christians, we know the Lord, and he is our refuge in times of trouble. He is our strong tower, and the righteous can run into it and be safe. If our anxieties over coronavirus are getting the best of us, it is probably an indication that we are not as spiritually minded as we should be. We are looking at the waves instead of our Savior who is walking on them.

We are vulnerable people. This world has fallen in sin and it is not the way God originally created it. The fall is why viruses like covid-19 exist. We not only live in a fallen world, we, as individuals, are sinful as well. We not only have to deal with the sins of others, but we also must also deal with our own sin and guilt. The good news is that God is merciful and gracious.

In his mercy, the Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who died upon the cross as a substitute for the sins of all who will place their faith in him. On top of that, when we come to him, he begins a good work of conforming us to his image, which he says, “He is faithful and just to complete.” Of his children, he will not lose one, and he has promised to set all things right again one day. The power of death is sin, and our sins have been washed clean. He has delivered us from the fear of death, and we are no longer subject to its lifelong slavery.

It is okay to feel the danger of this world like a small ship on an angry sea. The question is, as a Christian, what will you do with the knowledge of that danger. My prayer is that it will cause you to draw up under the wing of your heavenly Father. He has promised, if you draw near to him, he will draw near to you. One day our time will come. If it is not coronavirus, it will be something else. At that time, there is only one rock to stand upon, but he is not only telling us to find our refuge there on the day that we die, he is also calling us to find our refuge there right now. In doing so, we not only find peace with God in the forgiveness of our sins, but it is there that we will also find rest for our anxious souls.

In these anxious times, may you find your comfort in the God of all comfort, and when people ask you about the hope that is within you, may you comfort them with the same comfort you have been given. As our culture is clamoring for more toilet paper, may we point them to our great Savior. As this happens, let us pray that, through the Holy Spirit’s work, our faith in Jesus will have an even greater contagious rate than covid-19.

-D. Eaton

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. – Psalm 46:1-3

Whatever Your Trials, Christ Can Meet Them

Whatever trials you have, my dear brother, Christ is all in all to meet them. Are you poor? He will make you rich in your poverty by His consoling presence. Are you sick? He will make your bed in your sickness, and so will make your sick-bed better than the walks of health. Are you persecuted? If it is for His sake, you may even leap for joy. Are you oppressed? Remember how He also was oppressed and afflicted; and you will have fellowship with Him in his sufferings.

Amidst all the vicissitudes of this present life, Christ is all that the believer needs to bear him up, and bear him through. No wave can sink the man who clings to this life-buoy; he shall swim to glory on it! Jesus is all I need!

Jesus is:

  • the living water to quench my thirst,
  • the heavenly bread to satisfy my hunger,
  • the snow-white robe to cover me,
  • the sure refuge in times of trouble,
  • the happy home of my soul,
  • my food and my medicine,
  • my solace and my song,
  • my light and my delight.

The believer can say, “Christ is mine!” No emperor is half as rich as the beggar that has Christ! He who has Christ, being a pauper, has all things. And he who has not Christ, possessing a thousand worlds, possesses nothing for real happiness and joy!

Oh, the blessedness of the man who can say, “Christ is mine!”

-Charles Spurgeon