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 riots, 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

Don’t Let Your Unworthiness Keep You From Jesus

  • When the Spirit would glorify Jesus, He humbles you.
  • When He would glorify His fullness, He makes you feel your emptiness.
  • When He would bring you to rely on His strength, He convinces you of your weakness.
  • When He would magnify the comforts of Jesus, He makes you sensible of your misery.
  • When He would fix your heart on His Heaven, He makes you feel your deserved Hell.
  • When He would exalt His righteousness, you find that you are a poor, miserable sinner.

My friend, let nothing keep you from Jesus. Whatever you need, whatever you feel is wrong with you, may it bring you to the Savior’s fullness! Oh, that all things may help forward your acquaintance with Him, I except nothing, neither sin nor sorrow! I would carry all to Him as one great lump of sin, and receive all from Him, as the only storehouse of good for wretched sinners.

In this communion I desire to grow; for this I desire to live. Oh, that you and I may learn it more, and every day get nearer fellowship with our sweet Jesus, growing up into Him in all things.

-William Romaine

The Richest Jewel in Our Father’s Cabinet

Let it be considered, to what the Father gave His only begotten Son: even to death, and that of the cross; to be made a curse for us; to be the scorn and contempt of vile men; to the most unparalleled sufferings that were ever inflicted or borne by any!

It melts our affections, it breaks our heart, to behold our children striving in the pangs of death. But the Lord beheld His Son struggling under such incomparable agonies. He saw Him falling to the ground, groveling in the dust, sweating blood, and amidst those agonies turning Himself to His Father, and, with a heart-rending cry, beseeching Him, “Father, if You are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from Me (Luke 22:42)!

To wrath, to the wrath of an infinite God without mixture; to the very torments of Hell was Christ delivered, and that by the hand of His own Father! What kind of love is this, which made the Father of mercies deliver His only Son to such miseries for us! In giving Christ to die for poor sinners, God gave the richest jewel in His cabinet! This is a mercy of the greatest worth and most inestimable value.

Heaven itself is not so valuable and precious as Christ is! Ten thousand thousand worlds, as many worlds as angels can number, would not outweigh Christ’s love, excellency and sweetness! O what a lovely One! What an excellent, beautiful, ravishing One is Christ!

Put the beauty of ten thousand paradises, like the garden of Eden, into one; put all flowers, all pleasing fragrances, all colors, all delicious tastes, all joys, all sweetnesses, all lovelinesses into one; O what a lovely and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less compared to that loveliest and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain compared to all the seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths!

Now, for God to bestow this mercy of mercies, the most precious thing in Heaven or earth, upon poor sinners; and, as great, as lovely, as excellent as His Son was; what astonishing love is this!

-John Flavel

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -John 3:16

A Guilty Soul Restored

Dead. Black. Harmful. Guilty. 

These are not words that describe a mere principle that worked within me; they described me. Though life coursed through my veins, I was spiritually dead, and death was to be the only wage I would merit. Not simply physical death, but eternal death. Flesh was the only word that could describe me. As in death, my eyes were closed and lifeless; I allowed no light to enter because I loved the darkness. Blackness permeated everything I was. Though my physical eyes could see, in rebellion they would not look upon light and life. All my actions, though I boasted of virtue, were done in darkness, and because of this I was harmful. I dangerous to myself and those around me, and none of it was accidental. In all of it, I was culpable for I had gone astray.

Broken, Injured. Restless. Fearful. 

Of no merit of my own and entirely for His name’s sake, He called this wandering sheep and blotted out my iniquities with the blood of His sacrifice on the cross. I heard His voice, it gave me life, and light began to penetrate my soul. Though still somewhat harmful something had changed. Something old had passed away, and all things were becoming new. Yet, in it all, I was still broken. I had injured myself and those around me, and in restlessness and fear, I began to wonder if He would fulfill all He promised.

Guided. Nourished. Protected. Loved. 

From a distance, I followed His voice learning that He would only lead me to places that would be to my advantage. In His leading, He began to feed my wounded soul with nourishment that could not be found in any other source. In my ignorance, I would wander from time to time, but He never failed to fend off the enemies of my soul with His rod. If necessary, He would even use His staff to chasten me. When my foolish legs began to wander, He did not hesitate to wound them. Then in my weakness, He would gather me up into His arms and keep me close to protect me from myself and my enemies while I would mend. In those times, I began to know Him better, and as He spoke to me using a name that was all my own, I knew I was loved.

Peace. Comfort. Fearless. Endless. 

My Shepherd’s name is Jesus, and He restores my soul. I now lay down in peace wherever He leads me, and I shall not be in want. I am comforted by His rod and staff and long to be at my Shepherd’s side. No longer do I fear evil, for He is with me. His goodness and mercy will be with me all the days of my life, and my dwelling in the house of the Lord will be endless.

“He restores my soul.”– Psalm 23:3

-D. Eaton

The Day Death Became Life

It was darkness, and it was light. It was torment, and it was peace. It was death, and it was life. The Cross; two heavy wooden beams, shouldered by the man of sorrows. It pressed hard upon His back. A back that had already been turned into an open wound by the lashes it had received. Compared to the burden He was about to bear, it was nothing, but it brought Him to His knees.

It was His choice to do it, but it was a choice that caused Him to sweat blood as He wrestled in prayer in the garden. He had made His decision; He would drink the cup that caused Him so much dread. If this cup were visible, the sight of it would have caused our hearts to stop, our stomachs to turn, and all our strength to vanish. It was a mixture of every dark deed we, as His people, would ever commit. It also included every foul emotion, every impure motive, and every heart’s desire for evil that we were unable to fulfill. If you have ever felt the weight of sin, you know it can break your heart and darken the soul, and because our hearts are still clouded by our lusts, we have never felt it to its full degree. It is crushing.

Not only were every one of our sins in that cup, but everything they deserved as well. The cup contained distress, depression, and despair. It included desolation, disease, and death. That cup was the wrath of an all-knowing, all-powerful God of righteousness. What we saw in the bodily suffering of Jesus was only the surface, and He drank the cup until it was dry.

At that moment, life left His body. His chest stopped moving, His tongue lay still, and His eyes went cold. The enemy of death had taken Him. He was supposed to be our Savior, but He was dead. The wages of sin had taken the sinless one who was meant to set us free. They wrapped His body, laid Him in a cold tomb, and covered it with a stone. Our hope had died. He had borne the brunt of our sins, and it had killed Him.

Then something happened on the morning of the third day. Though it occurred in the dark of the tomb, a light came back into his eyes. There was a newness to His body unlike anyone else who had ever returned from the grave. His body was alive, never to die again! The stone rolled away, and He emerged. Death had not defeated Him. He bore our wrath, and it had not overcome Him. He had conquered it. The bonds of death could not hold him!

In the resurrection, we have confirmation that His redeeming work was complete. He was a hostage to our debt, and now that debt had been paid. He died for our sins and rose for our justification. Death could not hold Him because He had laid His life down of His own will; no one could demand it from Him. He could lay it down, and He could take it up again.

Since the bonds of death cannot hold Him, neither can they hold anything that belongs to Him. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus in faith will be saved. Child of God, what is it that brings you down? Is it sin, guilt, failure, shame, condemnation, accusation, or a body that is experiencing death? Whatever it is, it will find its defeat in Jesus Christ.

He is King of Kings and Lord of Lord! He has risen, and He is alive!

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – Jesus (John 11:25-26)

-D. Eaton

It Is Finished: The Death of Jesus

I was part of a Good Friday in real-time series for our church on Facebook live. My portion was the death of Jesus and his final statement, “It is finished.” What was in the cup that Jesus so much dreaded to drink that it caused him to sweat drops of blood. The video is below.

-D. Eaton

Seeing God’s Mercy in Coronavirus

Is Coronavirus God’s judgment on us for our wicked ways, is it something he intends for our good, is it a mixture of both, or none of the above? Scripture tells us, “the secret things belong to the Lord our God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). What this verse means is that God does not always tell us why he is doing what he is doing. We may do our best to try to figure it out, but, often, his ways are inscrutable (Romans 11:33). In the end, he is always accomplishing more than we could ever think or imagine.

What do we do when we are unsure of what God is doing? How do we know how to respond when that is the case? If we do not fully know his intentions, how can we see his mercy? In the same way that the hidden things belong to the Lord, the revealed things belong to his people (Deuteronomy 29:29). There are several things that the Lord has told us in his word, and his word is the rock upon which we should build our lives. That way, when the storms come, we are not washed away (Matthew 7:24-27). He has not asked us to build our life on what he has not told us, but what he has revealed. Considering Coronavirus, we are helped when we think about in light of the following three biblical truths.

1. God is in Control

The first truth we need to bring to mind is that God is sovereign. He is the Lord Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. He reigns on high, and who can stay his hand (Daniel 4:35)? If we do not believe that God is in control over Coronavirus, either we have a God who is too weak, or lacks the knowledge, to remedy the situation. These are our only options if we deny his sovereignty, and these options are horrific and contradict what God has revealed to us in the Bible. To think this way about God is to trade the the truth of God for a lie and lay the foundation of our lives on sinking sand, and we might as well give up hope. God is sovereign. He could end covid-19 in an instant if he desired, but he has not chosen to do so as of yet. The decision to end Coronavirus or have it continue to play out is in his hands (Isaiah 45:7), and his decisions are never hasty or without good reason.

2. The Wages of Sin is Death

The second truth we need to remember during this time is that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6.23). Death is what sin deserves, and that is not only physical death, it is also spiritual death. Scripture calls this “the second death.’ This involves God consigning those who reject him to the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8). Jesus called it “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46), and the apostle Paul called it “everlasting destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). To be clear, this is not annihilation; we will not cease to exist. Jesus said, this is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50). Those who go there will experience this for all eternity. An infinite punishment is the only suitable penalty for a finite being who sins against an infinite God.

Before we think God’s wrath for sin applies only to people worse than us, we need to remember that God’s word also says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23). We have all transgressed the Lord of the universe. His law, since we have been created in his image, is written on our hearts, and we have violated it. Every one of us, every person living on this planet right now deserves hell for our sins. There are no exceptions, and we should never try to understand the difficulties we are facing without remembering what we deserve.

3. Everything Short of Hell is Mercy

The final truth we then need to apply flows logically from the first two. Everything short of hell is mercy. If we do not see that God is merciful to us even in this, we are operating from a false premise that says we deserve better. If we are not in hell at this moment, no matter what we are facing, God is being gracious. He is being patient with us (2 Peter 3:9). No matter how bad things could get with covid-19, it is better than we deserve. His mercy is abundant even during this pandemic.

What should we do with the mercy that he is extending to us? We should embrace it and humble ourselves before him as a nation and as individuals. We should draw near to our savior who has promised, if we do so, he will draw near to us (James 4:8).

Many have died from Covid-19, and their time has come to meet their Maker. Some of them received their just reward; the wages of their sin. As painful as that is to write, it would be unloving to conceal this truth. Others who have died from the virus had found forgiveness in Christ Jesus, and they were ushered into his glorious presence as his children. Instead of wrath, they found grace. The question is, what will happen when our time comes. There is only one way to the Father, and that is through faith in the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

Jesus Christ was the only person ever to live a sinless life. He is the Son of God; fully God and yet fully man. He came to do for us, what we can not do for ourselves. He is the only one who does not deserve sin’s wages, yet he went to the cross willingly to take our punishment (2 Corinthians 5:21). “God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He was given over to death because of our transgressions and He was raised for the sake of our justification (Romans 4:25). This is what Good Friday and Easter are all about.

Though our sins have alienated us from him, “all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children” (John 1:2). “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13). For those who believe Jesus, the wrath of God for our sins is satisfied.

Even in Coronavirus, God’s mercy is abundant. If this pandemic does not touch us, we need to remember, we will die someday. “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). It will happen eventually. Come to Jesus today, he is our only hope and refuge. Not only that, it is where our true joy will be found. We were created to be in relationship with him, but we have traded his glory for corruptible things. We pursue riches, power, fame, and a host of other worldly trinkets, but he is calling us to something better. In drawing us to himself, God is calling us to the most glorious life possible, not only in heaven, but even now in the midsts of hardships.

Come drink of the living water and never thirst again (John 4:14). Come to know the friend who will stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). Begin walking with your creator who will never leave you nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6) and will work all things together for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), Yes, even the fallout of Coronavirus will be for the good of his children. My prayer is that we will all draw up under the wing of our Savior where we belong.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

-D. Eaton

Has the Springtime of Your Soul Grown Cold?

Thou hast left thy first love. -Revelation 2:4

The Springtime of the Soul

Ever to be remembered is that best and brightest of hours, when first we saw the Lord, lost our burden, received the roll of promise, rejoiced in full salvation, and went on our way in peace. It was springtime in the soul; the winter was past; the mutterings of Sinai’s thunders were hushed; the flashings of its lightnings were no more perceived; God was beheld as reconciled; the law threatened no vengeance, justice demanded no punishment. Then the flowers appeared in our heart; hope, love, peace, and patience sprung from the sod; the hyacinth of repentance, the snowdrop of pure holiness, the crocus of golden faith, the daffodil of early love, all decked the garden of the soul. The time of the singing of birds was come, and we rejoiced with thanksgiving; we magnified the holy name of our forgiving God, and our resolve was, “Lord, I am thine, wholly thine; all I am, and all I have, I would devote to thee. Thou hast bought me with thy blood–let me spend myself and be spent in thy service. In life and in death let me be consecrated to thee.” How have we kept this resolve? Our espousal love burned with a holy flame of devoutedness to Jesus–is it the same now?

Grown Cold

Might not Jesus well say to us, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”? Alas! it is but little we have done for our Master’s glory. Our winter has lasted all too long. We are as cold as ice when we should feel a summer’s glow and bloom with sacred flowers. We give to God pence when he deserveth pounds, nay, deserveth our heart’s blood to be coined in the service of his church and of his truth. But shall we continue thus? O Lord, after thou hast so richly blessed us, shall we be ungrateful and become indifferent to thy good cause and work? O quicken us that we may return to our first love, and do our first works! Send us a genial spring, O Sun of Righteousness.

-Charles Spurgeon

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