1. It's okay to ask God "why?".
2. Being in pain or suffering, or feeling like you're in a spiritual "valley" or rough place doesn't mean you aren't growing spiritually.
3. Experiencing pain and suffering doesn't mean God is punishing or judging you. (See John 9:1-3)
Here are some quality links (with intermittent soapboxing by yours truly) to get your week started off right . . .
The best posts I read last week were The Internet Monk's. His latest missive on Christless preaching is especially good.
It sometimes feels like folks like us may be exaggerating this Jesus-deficiency in sermons, but the collective lament of those who wondered why they didn't hear about the resurrection on Easter Sunday should indicate otherwise.
A couple of months ago I visited 3 churches over 2 weekends and didn't hear Jesus preached at any of them. Not one. Only one mentioned the name of Jesus, but He wasn't a point or the point of the message. In the other two, Jesus' name wasn't mentioned once.
One message was about being a team player, one message was about looking out for those around you in need, and one message was about "connecting" with others. All good things. But all worthless things without Jesus, and moreover, it's all just moralistic religion without the first importance of the gospel. Just because it's introduced by a cool video and is preached by a guy with bedhead doesn't mean it's not legalism.
Double D quotes Katie Galli:
Yes, we're Americans. We multitask all day long. Efficiency is one of our top cultural values. I, too, am pragmatic. I'd like to use Sunday morning to worship God, to get a few pointers on how to improve my relationship with Jesus, and to reconnect with community. But every Sunday, the first words I hear are, "Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." And I'm reminded that we gather weekly not to hear a practical talk on how to better live out our faith or to provide a venue to tell our friends about Jesus. We gather to corporately worship God, to celebrate the redeeming work of Christ on the cross, and to remember that our lives are not about us.
"We gather to corporately worship God." Thinking of it that way kinda makes a non-starter out of whether you should begin a service with a song about trying to get a one night stand, right? Right?
Timmy Brister's Working Paradigm for Missional Work is excellent.
Mark Driscoll drools over the upcoming ESV Study Bible.
Elsewhere Pastor Mark is ranting about that newbookyoumustreadbecauseit'sthegreatestthingever The Shack. I haven't read it but I don't think that's necessary for knowing Mark's ranty arguments against it are ridiculous. Sorry.
Mark, it's a novel, dude. Relax.
Trevin Wax begins a promising series on the alleged Calvinist resurgence with a review of Collin Hansen's Young, Restless, and Reformed.
Does turning the other cheek mean you let someone steal from you?
It's a very good thing that Bill appears to be blogging again. His post Big Enough for "Why" was very timely and I stole something from it for my message last night.
I'll leave you with these lines from it:
Our Lord has a special place in his heart for the helpless who cry out to him. And he helps and fights for those who are "fatherless"; those who have no one to fight for them.
And he's big enough to gently heed our "whys", and strengthen the heart from which those questions ring.