Faithfulness: What word would you choose if someone demanded that you summarize faithfulness to Christ in one word? Today I had this thought: availability. Available to God. Available for others. An open heart. Not too busy for family. Not too busy for friends. Not too busy for the co-worker. Not too busy for the stranger. I have a long ways to go. But yes, I think that availability captures so much of who Jesus was and how he lived. Holy Spirit, please make me more available.
ChatGPT to the Rescue: I was given the opportunity recently to write a 500-word review for a book about following Jesus for a journal in the U.K. I submitted it last night. However, I could not for the life of me come up with a title that I felt good about. I decided to call up my good friend, ChatGPT. While I did not use ChatGPT for even one word of the review, I did need help with the title. Through a series of prompts, I was able to land on various options. That was enough to get me started. I am strongly convinced that ChatGPT has much to offer even with the potentially harmful and unethical risks.
The Fog: Regarding the path of a disciple that trusts Jesus and is truly following, Michael Bräutigam writes: “They do not see clearly the way before them.”
Truth and Emotion: Emotions are NOT a reliable guide when deciding what is true and what is good. While emotions are a gift from God, they ought never to be exalted to a place where we are relying on them to decide what is true and good. One should not minimize or exalt emotions. Have you heard of the phrase, “Stay in your lane.” I think that this applies to the emotional life. Emotions must be told to “stay in their lane,” being neither minimized nor exalted. The moment we start determining what is true or not true based on what we feel, we are in trouble. It is a slippery slope that is bound to lead to a VERY unstable life.
Has God Abandoned Me? Tim Keller, a pastor and theologian that recently passed, makes the distinction between subjective and objective abandonment. I learned of this when watching a sermon by him on Psalm 88. He is speaking to Christians who have the Holy Spirit as a result of trusting in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ. Subjective abandonment is the feeling that God has left, is no longer listening, or whatever accompanies this dark night of the soul. On the other hand, objective abandonment refers to God actually leaving, abandoning a person and never returning. Keller then makes the important point that for Christians, there is no such thing as objective abandonment. The Scriptures are replete with promise after promise of God’s constant and forever presence in the life of a Christian. Yet, while this is objectively true, a Christian might feel that God has abandoned them from time to time. Yet, when these dark clouds hover, Christians must fight back, peer through the dark, and remind themselves that no matter what they feel, abandonment is only subjective. God is alive. God is good. God is near. God is not done. Peace and joy are still possible because he will never leave us or forsake us.
Pastor/Author Paul Tripp’s Tribute to Tim Keller: This is a 3-minute read and is a lovely and very pastoral tribute to Tim Keller. I very much enjoyed it and though that you might as well if you are familiar with Tim Keller. If you are not familiar with Tim Keller, go buy his books and start reading.
Fruit of the Spirit: In Galatians 5:22–23, nine fruits of the Holy Spirit are mentioned. I was thinking about patience and kindness this morning. In some translations, the word “patience” is translated “longsuffering,” which seems much more fitting. There is, no doubt, suffering involved when the Spirit is cultivating patience in us. My specific thought this morning is this: you cannot consistently be kind if you are not patient. I know this from experience. While I care about people, I can be Type A to a fault. I want to get things done. I love getting things done. Probably too much. I like checklists, organization, routine, efficiency, and productivity. But people and life—especially specific situations—can be messy. When I am not patient, my inner world is in a hurry, restless, not still, and not quiet. When this is my inner world, how in the world can I slow down, see the person in front of me (whether my own wife, child, or a stranger), listen, and be attentive. I can’t. Patience and kindness are intimately connected. Are you patient? Are you trying to grow in kindness but not patience? It won’t work.