Alex Crain

Editor, Christianity.com

locusts

“Time flies and it does not return. Years pass and we never get them back. It’s the one thing that can never be restored,” wrote Pastor Colin Smith in a recent post at The Gospel Coalition. “Yet, God promises the impossible: ‘I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten’ (Joel 2:25)."

So many feel that much of their lives have been wasted. Is there hope that a promise originally made to the people of Israel can be applied to us today? Yes, says Pastor Smith. Our fruitless, painful, selfish, loveless, rebellious, mis-directed, and Christ-less years can be restored in three ways:

1.      Christ can restore lost years by deepening your fellowship with him.

2.      Christ can give you remaining years in which more lasting fruit will be born than in all of
          your years of small harvests.

3.      Christ can restore lost years by bringing long-term gain from short-term loss.

In all of these ways, Christ receives glory for raising up redeemed people. Related to the idea of restoring lost years, other ministry leaders also offer sound words of encouragement:

Steve Arterburn in "New Life Daily Devotion:"

As you continue to seek God’s purpose for your life, you will undoubtedly experience your fair share of disappointments, detours, false starts, and failures. When you do, don’t become discouraged: God’s not finished with you yet.

Michael Lawrence, in a short video clip from Christianity.com, answers the question:
"How are failures in my life, especially if I've done something horrible, still a part of God's will?"

Read Pastor Smith's entire post here and add to the discussion. Have you seen Christ restore your “locust years,” or have you prayed that He will? Share your experience in the comments section below.
 

Alex Crain is the editor for Christianity.com

Evangelism is Not a Natural Activity

woman_witnessing

Many Christians can identify with the statement: “Evangelism is not a natural activity,” as Ed Stetzer wrote today on his blog, The Exchange. But many times, we shrink back from witnessing because we think of it in terms of confrontation rather than conversation. Perhaps the primary model of evangelism in our minds is street preaching (click for VIDEO). Most have beheld the scene where a bold young man stands shouting into the open air, often arguing with a heckler as he tries to explain the gospel to a small circle of people. We pass by thinking: “Oh, I could never do that.” So, we go away with the mistaken idea that we cannot evangelize since we’re just “not gifted that way.”  

“Many believers would like to be bold about witnessing for Christ,” writes Stetzer, “But there is often a disconnect between aspiration and action. Many Christians are aspirational witnessers—always feeling good about wanting to share Christ. [But] sometimes people need tools or resources that help them to be more evangelistically engaged.”

Of course, the proper motivation to evangelize begins with our own hearts, as one blog commenter noted aptly:

“Could one problem be that we aren't walking as closely with the Lord as He wants and we don't see Him at work on a daily basis in our lives?  If we did, we would be so blessed and excited about Christ that we couldn't keep quiet.  We don't have to be invasive or intrusive about sharing the gospel... we just have to be walking in step with Jesus and He will do the rest!”

Your turn. Maybe you have a heart for God but can still often find yourself (as I do) to be an “aspirational witnesser." Check out Stetzer’s list of evangelistic tools and see which one fits you:

1.       My Hope Campaign.

2.       Evangelism Explosion

3.       The Story

4.       I am Second

5.       Life on Mission

6.       Christianity Explored

7.       Two Ways to Live

8.       The God Test

What tools would you add to the list? Which of these do you think would be the most helpful to you in sharing the gospel?
 

Alex Crain is the editor for Christianity.com

surgery_NYT_chilling_medical_trial_Murphy_Kate

 

Victims of traumatic gunshot wounds, stabbings, or otherwise life-threatening injuries may now have a chance at life. That is, as long as they don’t mind being involuntarily allowed to ‘die’ first.

Kate Murphy of The New York Times reported on this “chilling medical trial” trial funded by the US Department of Defense that began in April at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Using a technique called “Emergency Preservation and Resuscitation” (EPR), surgeons drain the blood of patients with ‘catastrophic penetrating trauma’ and super cool their bodies intravenously with freezing salt water. Patients could remain clinically dead (that is, without heart or brain functions) for up to an hour while major wounds are repaired before they are revived.

World Magazine featured this story recently, noting that the technique has successfully saved hundreds of dogs and pigs for a decade, but may push the bounds of medical ethics.

“If successful, EPR could be a lifesaver for trauma patients. [But] since someone whose consciousness is slipping away can’t sign off on an experimental procedure, federal regulators have provided an exemption to the standard informed consent rule: Patients will be automatically enrolled.”

The New York Times article notes:

“Scientists have never tried anything like this in humans, and the unconscious patients will not be able to consent to the procedure. Indeed, the medical center has been providing free bracelets to be worn by skittish citizens here who do not want to participate should they somehow wind up in the E.R.”

But on the positive side, Dr. Samuel A. Tisherman, the lead researcher of the study told Kate Murphy (NYT):

“In these situations, less than one in 10 survive,” said “We want to give people better odds.”

Your turn. What do you think about this issue? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
 

Alex Crain is the editor for Christianity.com

baby_newborn_parents

Throughout history, humanity has flourished by celebrating the complementary differences between the sexes. Of course, we live in a fallen and sinful world. So, human flourishing doesn’t mean perfection. But, warts and all, we’ve managed to survive and establish orderly societies. We’ve discovered amazing wonders along the way and have carried on for thousands and thousands of years, one generation after another. In the Christian view, this has all come about by the grace and providence of God.  

But now, all our former days of distinguishing between male and female at birth have got to go. And Slate.com has plucked up Christin Scarlett Milloy, a web-developer from Canada, to tell us why. Christin says that it’s an all-too-accepted practice by which midwives and OB/Gyns inflict cruelty upon children. It’s like leaving them in a hot car on a summer day. It's like playing Russian roulette with them. (Remember the crazy prison guard in “The Deer Hunter” who forced Christopher Walken to spin the revolver, put the barrel to his head, and pull the trigger again and again? Well, that’s you doctor.)

But Christin Milloy means well. That’s got to count for something, right?

It may surprise you to hear me say yes. In a very limited way, but yes. The good intentions of gender revisionists count for the simple fact that the people who struggle with conflicted feelings about their biological identity are real people who are made in the image of God. Their struggle is often unwanted. Their feelings do matter. They are not a sub-species, but actual people who bear a particular consequence of living in this fallen world that many do not face. It may not be the temptation that you and I face daily. But everyone responds sinfully in some way or another to the truth that God is our maker and judge (Romans 1:18-21)... that is, until God awakens us to truth and grants us spiritual life (Ephesians 2:1-6).

The Christian response is to have compassion on all people under the curse of sin. That doesn't mean we condone sin. Certainly, we can never agree with the curse-laden solutions that they invent--all of which stem from an inherited penchant for rebellion against God. But we can express compassion for them as people. Furthermore, we can point them (by our example and our kindly spoken words) to Christ in the gospel and to the plain fact that faithful marriage provides for human needs far better than the alternatives.

The most loving person to ever walk planet earth, Jesus Christ, also affirmed the male-female binary as part of His good design in creation (Matthew 19:4). He exclusively affirmed male-female marriage, which automatically condemns all sexual activity outside its sacred covenantal bounds. God's design, which assumes male-female distinction and complementarity, is set forth as the best path to human fulfilment under the sun. It's still the case. But that's not always made clear by professing Christians who come across as prudes, who seem to have forgotten that God is the one who designed sex in the first place.

While Christin Milloy and those who share her views have a fundamentally flawed vision of human flourishing, we can certainly agree with her compassion for struggling people.

Your turn. What do you think about this issue? How should Christians respond? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
 

Alex Crain is the editor for Christianity.com

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