5 Benefits of Sickness

With the current COVID19 situation, I can’t help but think about a sermon I read years ago entitled Sickness by J.C. Ryle.

In the sermon, he offers a biblical perspective on sickness under three headings:

I. The universal prevalence of sickness and disease.

II. The general benefits which sickness confers on mankind.

III. The special dutiesto which sickness calls us.

Under his second heading, Ryle unpacks five benefits sickness offers to those who know Jesus. For your joy, I have copied those points below.

I could not recommend the sermon more highly, especially since sickness is on everyone’s mind.


Once more I repeat, that I speak of the “benefits” of sickness on purpose and advisedly. I know the suffering and pain which sickness entails. I admit the misery and wretchedness which it often brings in its train. But I cannot regard it as an unmixed evil. I see in it a wise permission of God. I see in it a useful provision to check the ravages of sin and the devil among men’s souls. If man had never sinned — I would have been at a loss to discern the benefit of sickness. But since sin is in the world, I can see that sickness is a good. It is a blessing quite as much as a curse. It is a rough schoolmaster, I grant — but it is a real friend to man’s soul.

1. Sickness helps to remind men of death.

Most people live as if they were never going to die. They follow business, or pleasure, or politics, or science — as if earth was their eternal home. They plan and scheme for the future, like the rich fool in the parable, as if they had a long lease of life, and were not tenants whose length of stay is brief. A heavy illness sometimes goes far to dispel these delusions. It awakens men from their day-dreams, and reminds them that they have to die, as well as to live. Now this I say emphatically is a mighty good.

2. Sickness helps to make men think seriously of God, and their souls, and the world to come.

Most people, in their days of health, can find no time for such thoughts. They dislike them. They put them away. They count them troublesome and disagreeable. Now a severe disease has sometimes a wonderful power of mustering and rallying these thoughts, and bringing them up before the eyes of a man’s soul. Even a wicked king like Benhadad, when sick, could think of Elisha (2 Kings 8:8.) Even heathen sailors, when death was in sight, were afraid, and “cried every man to his god.” (Jonah 1:5.) Surely anything that helps to make men think, is a good.

3. Sickness helps to soften men’s hearts, and teach them wisdom.

The natural heart is as hard as a stone! It can see no good in anything which is not of this life, and no happiness excepting in this world. A long illness sometimes goes far to correct these ideas. It exposes the emptiness and hollowness of what the world calls “good” things, and teaches us to hold them with a loose hand. The man of business finds that money alone, is not everything which the heart requires. The woman of the world finds that costly apparel, and novel reading, and the reports of balls and operas — are miserable comforters in a sick room. Surely anything that obliges us to alter our weights and measures of earthly things, is a real good.

4. Sickness helps to humble us.

We are all naturally proud and high-minded. Few, even of the poorest, are free from the infection. Few are to be found who do not look down on somebody else, and secretly flatter themselves that they are “not as other men.” A sick bed is a mighty tamer of such thoughts as these. It forces on us the mighty truth that we are all poor worms, that we “dwell in houses of clay,” and are “crushed before the moth.” (Job 4:19), and that kings and subjects, masters and servants, rich and poor — are all dying creatures, and will soon stand side by side at the judgment bar of God. In the sight of the coffin and the grave — it is not easy to be proud. Surely anything that teaches that lesson, is good.

5. Finally, sickness helps to try men’s religion, of what sort it is.

There are not many on earth who have no religion at all. Yet few have a religion which will bear inspection. Most are content with traditions received from their fathers, and can render no reason of the hope that is in them. Now disease is sometimes most useful to a man in exposing the utter worthlessness of his soul’s foundation. It often shows him that he has nothing solid under his feet, and nothing firm under his hand. It makes him find out that, although he may have had a form of religion, he has been all his life worshiping “an unknown god.” Many a creed looks well on the smooth waters of health — which turns out utterly unsound and useless on the rough waves of the sick bed. The storms of winter often bring out the defects in a man’s dwelling — and sickness often exposes the gracelessness of a man’s soul. Surely anything that makes us find out the real character of our faith, is a good…

We have no right to murmur at sickness, and repine at its presence in the world. We ought rather to thank God for it. It is God’s witness. It is the soul’s adviser. It is an awakener to the conscience. It is a purifier to the heart. Surely I have a right to tell you that sickness is a blessing, and not a curse — a help, and not an injury — a gain, and not a loss — a friend, and not a foe to mankind. So long as we have a world wherein there is sin, it is a mercy that it is a world where there is sickness.

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Favorite Quotes From “Shogun”

I recently read the novel Shogun by James Clavell.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

Man is But a Blossom in the Wind

“He subdued the land. Made the peace. Forced all the daimyōs in the land to grovel like peasants before him. Rearranged feasts to suit his whim. Promoting some. Deposing others. And then he died. He was a giant among pygmies. But perhaps it’s right that all his work and greatness should die with him. Isn’t man but a blossom taken by the wind, and only the mountains and the sea and the stars and this Land of the Gods real and everlasting?”

Reason & the Law in Japanese Culture

“The law may upset reason but reason may never upset the law, or our whole society will shred like an old tatami. The law may be used to confound reason, reason must certainly not be used to overthrow the law.”

The Study of Men

“It’s always important to take time to study men — important men. Friends and enemies.”

Complex Beasts

How can a man be so brave and so stupid, so gentle and so cruel, so warming and so detestable — all at the same time?

Death is Our Heritage

Perhaps that is why we love life so much, Anjin-san. You see, we have to. Death is part of our air and sea and earth. You should know, Anjin-san, in this Land of Tears, death is our heritage.

My Only Fear

I’m not afraid, my son. I fear nothing on this earth. I fear only God’s judgment

The Natural Direction of Our Thoughts

“Always remember, child” her first teacher had impressed on her, “that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that need discipline –training- is about. So train your mind to dwell on sweet perfumes, the touch of this silk, tender raindrops against the shoji, the curve of the flower arrangement, the tranquillity of dawn. Then, at length, you won’t have to make such a great effort and you will be of value to yourself…”


Patience is very important. The strong are the patient ones, Anjin-san, patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don’t give way to the seven, you’re patient, then you’ll soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with Eternity.

This Sunset

This sunset exists. Tomorrow does not exist. There is only now. Please look. It is so beautiful and it will never happen ever again, never, not this sunset, never in all infinity.

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Favorite Quotes from “The Blade Itself”

I recently read The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie and here are a few of my favorite quotes.

A Dreaded Task

“Once you got a task to do, it’s better to do it than to live with the fear of it.”

Be Realistic

“You have to be realistic. You have to be. No matter how much it hurts.”

When Man Worships No God

She looked down at the floor, but Yulwei surprised her by stepping forward suddenly. She raised her hand, to ward off a blow, but instead he put his arms round her and squeezed her tightly. A strange feeling. Being so close to someone else. Warm. Then Yulwei stepped away, one hand on her shoulder. “Walk in God’s footsteps, Ferro Maljinn.”

“Huh. They have no God here.”

“Say rather that they have many.”


“Had you not noticed? Here, each man worships himself.”

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Favorite Quotes from “Perelandra”

I recently enjoyed Perelandra by C.S. Lewis.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.

The Terror of Not Liking True Good

“All those doubts which I had felt before I entered the cottage as to whether these creatures were friend or foe, and whether Ransom were a pioneer or a dupe, had for the moment vanished. My fear was now of another kind. I felt sure the creature was what we call “good,” but I wasn’t sure whether I liked “goodness” so much as I had supposed. This is a very terrible experience. As long as what you are afraid of is something evil, you may still hope that the good may come to your rescue. But suppose you struggle through to the good and find that it also is dreadful? How if food itself turns out to be the very thing you can’t eat, and home the very place you can’t live, and your very comforter the person who makes you uncomfortable? Then, indeed, there is no rescue possible: the last car has been played. For a second or two I was nearly in that condition. Here at last was a bit of that world from beyond the word, which I had always supposed that I loved and desired, breaking through and appearing to my senses: and I didn’t like it, I wanted it to go away. I wanted every possible distance, gulf, curtain, blanket, and barrier to be placed between it and me. But I did not fall quite into the gulf. Oddly enough my very sense of helplessness saved me and steadied me. For now I was quite obviously “drawn in.” The struggle was over. The next decision did not lie with me.”

The Pleasures of Earth Engulfed by the Joys of Heaven

“Another hint came out when a skeptical friend of ours called McPhee was arguing against the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the human body. I was his victim at the moment and he was pressing on me in his Scots way with such questions as, “So you think you’re going to have guts and palate for ever in a world where there’ll be no eating, and genital organs in a world without copulation? Man, ye’ll have a grand time of it!” when Ransom suddenly burst out with great excitement, “Oh, don’t you see, you ass, that there’s a difference between a trans-sensuous life and non-sensuous life?” That, of course, directed McPhee’s fire to him. What emerged was than in Ransom’s opinion the present functions and appetites of the body would disappear, not because they were atrophied but because they were, as he said, “engulfed.””

A Joy So Good It Seems Sinful

Words are slow. You must not lose sight of the fact that his whole life on Venus up till now had lasted less than five minutes. He was not in the least tired, and not yet seriously alarmed as to his power of surviving in such a world. He had confidence in those who had sent him there, and for the mean time the coolness of the water and the freedom of his limbs were still a novelty and a delight; but more than all these was something else at which I have already hinted and which can hardly be put into words – the strange sense of excessive pleasure which seemed somehow to be communicated to him through all his senses at once. I use the word ‘excessive’ because Ransom himself could only describe it by saying that for his first few days on Perelandra he was haunted, not by a feeling of guilt, but by surprise that he had no such feeling. There was an exuberance or prodigality of sweetness about the mere act of living which our race finds it difficult not to associate with forbidden and extravagant actions.

Drink So Good It Could Cause Nations to War

“The first taste put his caution all to flight. It was, of course, a taste, just as his thirst and hunger had been thirst and hunger. But then it was so different from every other taste that it seemed mere pedantry to call it a taste at all. It was like the discovery of a totally new genus of pleasures, something unheard of among men, out of all reckoning, beyond all covenant. For one draught of this on earth wars would be fought and nations betrayed. It could not be classified…As he let the empty gourd fall from his hand and was about to pluck a second one, it came into his head that he was now neither hungry nor thirsty. And yet to repeat a pleasure so intense and almost so spiritual seemed an obvious thing to do. His reason, or what we commonly take to be reason in our world, was all in favour of tasting this miracle again…for whatever cause, it appeared to him better not to taste again. Perhaps the experience had been so complete that repetition would be a vulgarity–like asking to hear the same symphony twice in a day.”

What If Good Is Taken From You?

“And have you no fear,” said Ransom, “that it will ever be hard to turn your heart from the thing you wanted to the thing Maleldil sends?”

“I see,” said the Lady presently. “The wave you plunge into may be very swift and great. You may need all your force to swim into it. You mean, He might send me a good like that?”

“Yes–or like a wave so swift and great that all your force was too little.”

“It often happens that way in swimming,” said the Lady. “Is not that part of the delight?”

What God Forbids

“Who thought of (Maleldil’s prohibition as) being hard? The beasts would not think it hard if I told them to walk on their heads. It would become their delight to walk on their heads. I am His beast, and all His biddings are joys.”

I’ve Come to Bring You Death

“He is what in my world we call Bad,” said Weston’s body. “One who rejects the fruit he is given for the sake of the fruit he expected or the fruit he found last time.”

“We must make him older, then,” said the Lady, and though she did not look at Ransom, all the Queen and Mother in her were revealed to him and he knew that she wished him, and all things, infinitely well. And he–he could do nothing. His weapon had been knocked out of his hand.

“And will you teach us Death?” said the Lady to Weston’s shape, where it stood above her.

“Yes,” it said, “it is for this that I came here, that you may have Death in abundance. But you must be very courageous.”

A Perfect Hatred

“He wavered. Then an experience that perhaps no good man can ever have in our world came over him–a torrent of perfectly unmixed and lawful hatred. The energy of hating, never before felt without some guilt, without some dim knowledge that he was failing fully to distinguish the sinner from the sin, rose into his arms and legs till he felt that they were pillars of burning blood. What was before him appeared no longer a creature of corrupted will. It was corruption itself to which will was attached only as an instrument. Ages ago it had been a Person: but the ruins of personality now survived in it only as weapons at the disposal of a furious self-exiled negation. It is perhaps difficult to understand why this filled Ransom not with horror but with a kind of joy. The joy came from finding at last what hatred was made for. As a boy with an axe rejoices on finding a tree, or a boy with a box of coloured chalks rejoices on finding a pile of perfectly white paper, so he rejoiced in the perfect congruity between his emotion and its object. Bleeding and trembling with weariness as he was, he felt that nothing was beyond his power, and when he flung himself upon the living Death, the eternal Surd in the universal mathematic, he was astonished, and yet (on a deeper level) not astonished at all, at his own strength. His arms seemed to move quicker than his thought. His hands taught him terrible things. He felt its ribs break, he heard its jaw-bone crack. The whole creature seemed to be crackling and splitting under his blows. His own pains, where it tore him, somehow failed to matter. He felt that he could so fight, so hate with a perfect hatred, for a whole year.”

A World is Born

“The world is born to-day,” said Malacandra. “To-day for the first time two creatures of the low worlds, two images of Maleldil that breathe and breed like the beasts, step up that step at which your parents fell, and sit in the throne of what they were meant to be. It was never seen before. Because it did not happen in your world a greater thing happened, but not this. Because the greater thing happened in Thulcandra, this and not the greater thing happens here.”

Why This Island Was Forbidden

“This island had never been forbidden them, and that one purpose in forbidding the other had been to lead them to this their destined throne. Instead of answering, the gods said, “Be still.”

A True Human I’ve Never Seen

There was great silence on the mountain top and Ransom also had fallen down before the human pair. When at last he raised his eyes from the four blessed feet, he found himself involuntarily speaking though his voice was broken and his eyes dimmed. “Do not move away, do not raise me up,” he said. “I have never before seen a man or a woman. I have lived all my life among shadows and broken images.

The eyes of the Queen looked upon him with love and recognition, but it was not of the Queen that he thought most. It was hard to think of anything but the King. And how shall I–I who have not seen him–tell you what he was like? It was hard even for Ransom to tell me of the King’s face. But we dare not withhold the truth. It was that face which no man can say he does not know. You might ask how it was possible to look upon it and not to commit idolatry, not to mistake it for that of which it was the likeness. For the resemblance was, in its own fashion, infinite, so that almost you could wonder at finding no sorrows in his brow and no wounds in his hands and feet. Yet there was no danger of mistaking, not one moment of confusion, no least sally of the will towards forbidden reverence. Where likeness was greatest, mistake was least possible. Perhaps this is always so. A clever wax-work can be made so like a man that for a moment it deceives us: the great portrait which is far more deeply like him does not. Plaster images of the Holy One may before now have drawn to themselves the adoration they were meant to arouse for the reality. But here, where His live image, like Him within and without, made by His own bare hands out of the depth of divine artistry, His masterpiece of self-portraiture coming forth from His workshop to delight all worlds, walked and spoke before Ransom’s eyes, it could never be taken for more than an image. Nay, the very beauty of it lay in the certainty that it was a copy, like and not the same, an echo, a rhyme, an exquisite reverberation of the uncreated music prolonged in a created medium.

What Lay Behind Disobedience

“As soon as you had taken away the Evil One,” she said, “and I awoke from sleep, my mind was cleared. It is a wonder to me, Piebald, that for all those days you and I could have been so young. The reason for not yet living on the Fixed Land is now so plain. How could I wish to live there except because it was Fixed? And why should I desire the Fixed except to make sure–to be able on one day to command where I should be the next and what should happen to me? It was to reject the wave–to draw my hands out of Maleldil’s, to say to Him, ‘Not thus, but thus’–to put in our own power what times should roll towards us . . . as if you gathered fruits together to-day for to-morrow’s eating instead of taking what came. That would have been cold love and feeble trust. And out of it how could we ever have climbed back into love and trust again?”

Two Kinds of Knowledge of Evil

We have learned of evil, though not as the Evil One wished us to learn. We have learned better than that, and know it more, for it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking. There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it, as men by sleeping lose the knowledge of sleep. You are more ignorant of evil in Thulcandra now than in the days before your Lord and Lady began to do it. But Maleldil has brought us out of the one ignorance, and we have not entered the other. It was by the Evil One himself that he brought us out of the first. Little did that dark mind know the errand on which he really came to Perelandra!”


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Favorites Quotes from “Out of the Silent Planet”

I recently enjoyed Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes.

Fallen vs. Unfallen Desire

“‘Is the begetting of young not a pleasure maong the hrossa?’

‘It is a very great on, Hman. This is what we call love,’

‘If a thing is a pleasure, a hman wants it again. He might want the pleasure more often than the number of young that could be fed.’

It took Hyoi a long time to get the point.

‘You mean,’ he said slowly, ‘that he might do it not only in one or two years of his life but again?’


‘But why? Why would he want his dinner all day or want to sleep after he had slept? I do not understand.’

‘But a dinner comes every day. This love, you say, comes only once while the hross lives?’

‘But it takes his whole life. When he is young he has to look for his mate; and then he has to court her; then he begets youngl then he rears them; then he remember all this, and boils it inside him and makes it into poems and wisdom.’

‘But the pleasure he must be content only to remember?’

‘That is like saying, ‘My food I must be content to eat.’

‘I do not understand.’

‘A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.  You are speaking , Hman, as if the pleasure were one thing and the memory another.  It is all one thing .  The Seroni could say it better than I say it now.  Not better than I could say it in a poem.  What you call remembering is the last part of pleasure, as the crah is the last part of a poem.  When you and I met, the meeting was over very shortly, it was nothing.  Now it is growing something as we remember it.  But sill we know very little about it.  What it will be when I remember it as I lie down to die, what it makes in me all my days till then–that is the real meeting.  The other is only the beginning of it.  You say you have poets in your world.  Do they not teach you this?’

“Perhaps some of them do,’ said Ransom. ‘But even in a poem does a hross never long to hear on splendid line over again?’

Hyoi’s reply unfortunately turned on one of those points in their language which Ransom had not mastered. There were two verbs which both, as far as he could see, meant to long or yearn; but the hrossa drew sharp distinction, even an opposition, between them. Hyoi seemed to him merely to be saying that everyone would long for it (wondelone) but no one in his senses could long for it (hluntheline).

‘And indeed,’ he continued, ‘the poem is a good example. For the most splendid line becomes fully splendid only by means of all the lines after it; if you went back to it you would find it less splendid than you thought. You would kill it. I mean in a good poem.’

‘But in a bent poem, Hyoi?’

‘A bent poem is not listened to, Hman.’

‘And how of love in a bent life?’

‘How could the life of a hnau be bent?’

‘Do you say, Hyoi, that there are no bent hrossa?’

. . . At last it dawned upon (Ransom) that it was not (the hrossa), but (Man), that were the puzzle. That the hrossa should have such instincts was mildly surprising; but how came it that the instincts of the hrossa so closely resembled the unattained ideals of that far-divided species Man whose instincts were so deplorably different? What was the history of Man?

When Danger Brings Delight

‘All the same,’ said Ransom, unconsciously nettled on behalf of his own world, ‘Maleldil has let in the hnakra‘ (evil shark-like creatures)

‘Oh, but that is so different. I long to kill this hnakra as he also longs to kill me. I hope that my ship will be the first and I first in my ship with my straight spear when the blackjaws snap. And if he kills me, my people will mourn and my brothers will desire still more to kill him. But they will not wish that there were no hnéraki; nor do I. How can I make you understand, when you do not understand the poets? The hnakra is our enemy, but he is also our beloved. We feel in our hearts his joy as he looks down from the mountain of water in the north where he was born; we leap with him when he jumps the falls; and when winter comes, and the lake smokes higher than our heads, it is with his eyes that we see it and know that his roaming time is come. We hang images of him in our houses, and the sign of all the hrossa is a hnakra. In him the spirit of the valley lives; and our young play at being hnéraki as soon as they can splash in the shallows.’

‘And then he kills them?’

‘Not often them. The hrossa would be bent hrossa if they let him get so near. Long before he had come down so far we should have sought him out. No, Hm¯an, it is not a few deaths roving the world around him that make a hnau miserable. It is a bent hnau that would blacken the world. And I say also this. I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lakes. I will tell you a day in my life that has shaped me; such a day as comes only once, like love, or serving Oyarsa in Meldilorn. Then I was young, not much more than a cub, when I went far, far up the handramit to the land where stars shine at midday and even water is cold. A great waterfall I climbed. I stood on the shore of Balki the pool, which is the place of most awe in all worlds. The walls of it go up for ever and ever and huge and holy images are cut in them, the work of old times. There is the fall called the Mountain of Water. Because I have stood there alone, Maleldil and I, for even Oyarsa sent me no word, my heart has been higher, my song deeper, all my days. But do you think it would have been so unless I had known that in Balki hneraki dwelled? There I drank life because death was in the pool. That was the best of drinks save one.’

‘What one?’ asked Ransom.

‘Death itself in the day I drink it and go to Maleldil.’

Grown Up

He was one with them. That difficulty which they, accustomed to more than one rational species, had perhaps never felt, was now overcome. They were all hnau. They had stood shoulder to shoulder in the face of an enemy, and the shapes of their heads no longer mattered.  And he, even Ransom, had come through it and not been disgraced. He had grown up.

Man Wants to Be Little Oyarsas

“They were astonished of what he had to tell them of human history: of war, slavery, and prostitution.

‘It is because they have no Oyarsa,’ said one of the pupils.

‘It is because everyone of them wants to be a little Oyarsa himself,’ said Augray.

‘They cannot help it,’ said the old sorn. ‘There must be rule, yet how can creatures rule themselves? Beasts must be ruled by hnau and hnau by eldila and eldila by Madleldil. These creatures shave no eldila. They re like on trying to lift himself by his own hair – or one trying to see over a whole country when he is on a level with it – like a female trying to beget young on herself.’



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My Favorite Quotes From “The Return of the Ring”

I recently enjoyed The Return of the King (book three in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Here are three of my favorite quotes.

Love of Master & Self-Understanding Help to Resist Temptation

“In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him.”

Everything and Everyone Happens for a Reason

“But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”

The Sacrifice of Some

“But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: someone has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”


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Four Ways to Avoid Money Worship

I recently had the privilege to preach at my church on the topic of Proverbs and money. Here is an excerpt that I found helpful for my own soul and I hope it does yours.


Money worship is a constant threat to all believers. Money daily promises to give us the safety, security, and satisfaction that only Christ can. It never ceases it seductive work and is always calling us into its arms. But, King Jesus makes it clear to all his people, “You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24) and Proverbs 11:28 warns us about what money worship will ultimately bring: ““Whoever trusts in his riches will fall…”

So, how can we keep ourselves from drifting into money’s embrace?

Four Truths to Keep You From Money Worship

Let me offer four counsels that, if tattooed on your mind and heart, Lord willing, will protect you from the worship of money.

1) Remember Your God

Jesus said it clearly, “You cannot serve God and money “ (Matthew 6:24). Since everyday you will drift toward idolatry, you must intentionally remind yourself each day that Jesus is God and no one else is. Everyday we must ask ourselves, “Who will I worship today? What or who is my Supreme Treasure today?” We must consciously reject giving money your heart, mind, soul, or strength or she will take it. Daily, we we must consciously give those to King Jesus.

2) Remember Your Responsibility

Psalm 24:1 cuts straight to the matter, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…” God owns all that is in the world and all who is in the world. He owns you and he owns your money. Some may say, “That doesn’t say money!” Well, Listen to Haggai 2:8, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.” So, the world is his, you are his, and your money is his. All his.

What does this mean? Simply: all of your money is not your money, it’s God’s. It will do you a world of good to start referring to the money in your wallet, your bank, and your retirement as “God’s money.” You are a manager, not an owner. You’ve been given the company card for company purposes. It is not your prerogative to spend it how you want, but how he commands. Remembering your identity as a steward and your responsibility to use God’s money according to God’s Word will help you experience money as a blessing and not a curse.

3) Remember Your Gospel

Notice, when Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to be generous in giving, he doesn’t give them a scolding, he doesn’t give them threats, he doesn’t give them a guilt trip or sob stories of people’s need. What does he do? He shows them Jesus.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9).

Jesus became poor with our sin and death so we can become rich with his grace!

This is an important point for Christians who don’t give or give little. Some of you may giving because of some sterile sense of duty rather than delight. The little you do give is because you feel you have to rather than we want to. Can I suggest to you that, if your giving is non-existent or cold or begrudging, you may have lost sight of the cross? The cross breeds thankful, gospel-fueled generosity.

Remembering the gospel is important for Christians who give to ease their guilt. Some of your giving is fueled by guilt rather than grace. You may feel guilty about not being generous enough and you may be tempted to just start giving more to feel less guilty. If that’s you: do not give. Giving should never be done begrudgingly to get rid of guilt. Giving should be done cheerfully because our guilt has been gotten rid of! Fuel your giving by grace, not guilt. If guilt motivates your giving then sprint to the cross and stare at Jesus until your eyes bleed and your heart opens. Pound the cross into the deepest place of your heart until the joy of his free grace begins to pump through your veins.

Do you want to be free of money’s curse? Then tattoo the cross on your eyeballs. See God’s free generosity in forgiving your sins through the cross. It is hard to be tightfisted when you live at the foot of the cross.

4) Remember Your Eternity

Jesus instructs us:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell us to not store our treasures. No, he tells us to store our treasures in places where they won’t be stolen or lost. We’re shown that the safest place to invest our money isn’t in a conservative mutual fund or a well-diversified retirement account; it’s in the bank of Heaven. You know what your 401K looks like on earth, but what does your account look like in Heaven? What have you invested in eternal stock? You may be rich here, but will you be rich there? Where are you investing?

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What Your Idols Will Do to You

A little while ago, I read this cute little story in The Gaurdian:

Baby pigs and two sows were freed by firefighters from Pewsey in Wiltshire when a barn went up in flames in February.

Isn’t that adorable? Big, brave, and strong men saved a bunch of little piglets from certain, terrible death. What a beautiful story of salvation.

But, the story didn’t end there. The firefighters were generously reward for their bravery.

The farmer, Rachel Rivers, promised she would present the firefighters with organic sausages when the animals were slaughtered for their meat. Six months later she did just that and the firefighters cooked the bangers on a barbecue.

Devoured by the very ones who saved them.

Though it’s no longer a quaint story about cute piglets, it still serves as a sobering story of what our idols – the things we look to for security, satisfaction, and salvation – will eventually do to us after we’ve experienced their “rescue.”

As God once said, “They are turned back and utterly put to shame, who trust in carved idols, who say to metal images, “You are our gods” (Isaiah 42:17).

Friend, God commands us to have no other gods before Him, because all the other gods you’ll turn to will eventually eat you whole. Only He will give you true salvation and everlasting life. Trust not in the gods who promise life yet only devour you in the end. Trust the only God who has given His life for your sake so your life will have no end (John 10:10-11).

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A View of Christian Education

I gave this speech at an 8th grade graduation of students at the Independent Learning Academy in Orange County.

First of all, I want to thank the Independent Learning Academy leadership, parents, and students for the privilege and honor of offering a few words at such an important occasion as this.

My Hike

Prior to becoming a teacher, I was a youth pastor. In my work as a youth pastor I had a practice of taking my senior boys to hike the Trans-Catalina trail (about 25 miles) over a weekend. The first time I did this was a disaster. Being new to the task, I didn’t prepare the group well. We didn’t bring enough food. Everyone was ill prepared for morning cold. I underestimated the rigor of the trail and very much overestimated the strength of our group. What was supposed to be a slightly challenging camping experience began to feel like an episode of survivor man.

Now, though extremely difficult, the trip is remembered fondly by all who went because, in spite of my efforts, we made it to the end; we finished the hike. What was the secret? Well, first, it was the pure grace of God. Second, there was the very nice Ranger named Rick who brought hamburger meat to our remote campsite after we bribed him with money and our eternal allegiance. But beside that, there were two crucial things that helped our overwhelmed group complete the journey: throughout our hike we made a point to look back to see how far we’ve come and look forward to remind ourselves of where we’ll be.

Your Hike

My friends, you are on a hike of sorts. At this point you’ve traveled through 8 years of schooling and you have about 8 more years if you go to college. You have a nice summer to rest yourself in, but the hike will continue on come Fall. But at this milestone day, I would like to serve you by being your own Ranger Rick for a moment. I haven’t been with you for the past 8 years and I will not walk with you for the next 8, but I’m glad to drop in today, congratulate you, and give you a bit of wisdom for the rest of your journey. This speech is my metaphorical hamburger meat and you don’t even have to pay me your eternal allegiance.

But, to help you continue on your educational journey, I would like to offer you the two practices that helped us finish our hike. Let’s take some time to (1) look back at where you’ve been and (2) to look forward together to where you’re going.

Looking Back

As you look back, I want to encourage you to think about all you’ve had to do to get here. Education is not easy. The job of a student is not for the faint of heart. With all the friends and family and excitement that now surround us, it could be easy to forget that truth. To help you cherish the celebration today, let me remind you of all the hard work you’ve done.

In order to sit in these chairs and enjoy this ceremony:

  • You’ve had to solve countless math problems and show all your work in the process.
  • For social sciences, you’ve had to memorize many dates, generals, countries, presidents, battles, wars, and key events.
  • You’ve created science projects, completed science experiments and, congrats to you, you didn’t blow anything or anyone up (at least nothing big enough for me to have heard about).
  • You’ve written numerous rough drafts, middle drafts, almost done drafts, and this-still-needs-lots-of-work-but-its-due-tomorrow drafts.
  • For countless hours you studied by yourself or with friends or with parents at your side.
  • You’ve read many books (many of which didn’t even have the courtesy of having pictures).

Since your work has been stretched over the period of a few years, you may sit here not even thinking about all the work you’ve done. But, let me remind you, you have done a lot and, since you are here today, you did it well.

And as you did all this hard work, may I ask a question? Was there not good weaved all throughout it? Though school is a labor, it is also a gift; not just a responsibility, but a privilege. It may have been the support of a classmate, the praise of a teacher, the pride of your parents, or just the feeling of having done something well or have learned something worthwhile. School is pregnant with good things to be thankful for. In God’s grace the medicine of school is given with lots of sugar. School has been hard, but I trust you also see its been good. At times it’s a burden to bear, but overall it’s a blessing to enjoy.

So, before I say anything else, I want to offer my congratulations to the graduating class among us here today. With the wisdom of your teachers, the love of your parents, and the camaraderie of your classmates, look at how far you’ve come.

Now that we’ve looked back to see how far you’ve come, let’s look ahead.

Looking Ahead

After this summer, you will be official high school students. As you think about that uncharted territory, let me offer you two preparatory words: it will be hard and it will be good.

First, it will be hard. There will be more and longer papers to write, more and harder math equations to solve, more history lessons to wrestle with, more tests to study for, and many more picture-less books to read. But, please, don’t be afraid because you’re ready for it. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be here today. Today is a day where your teachers and parents are not only celebrating you, but they’re also telling you something: you are ready.

But, my friends, it will be hard, but it also will be good. You’ll have new subjects to explore, old friends to enjoy, new friends to make, accomplishments to take pride in, and a whole host of experiences to treasure in your memory forever. Even more, after high school many of you will enjoy college, meaningful careers, and the many pleasures of adult life. There’s a lot of good lying ahead of you.

But, as a Christian, I want to give you one serious challenge: don’t make your schooling all about college, careers, applause, or future comfort. I pray you seek more than that. Those are all good things, but they are not the greatest thing. College, careers, money, applause, and comfort are amazing gifts, but they are not God.

In our final moments together, let me exhort you to do the hard work of your future schooling not for grades, applause, college, and careers, but to do it for the serious business of knowing the One who gives it and finding unstealable joy in Him.

Education is About Joy

The famous philosopher Plato is known for saying, “The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” I agree and I would like to add this simple observation: when someone loves what is beautiful their heart experiences joy. Therefore, I encourage you to see the point of your future schooling not end only in grades, colleges, or careers, but to see the ultimate point of all your hard work is unshakeable joy from learning to love beautiful things.

But how does education bring about joy? Let me offer three short ways.

  1. To Experience Joy From Wonder

Education done rightly does not cause us think we have all the answers. In fact, it proves to us we don’t and never will. Genuine education does not produce boredom, but wonder. Christian education should not produce Pharisees who stand in pride before all their glorious knowledge. Instead, Christian education should produce men and women who sit with childlike humility before all God’s glorious wisdom. The former leads to boredom and stagnation, the latter to wonder and life.

  1. To Experience Joy From Loving Others

One of the blessings of education is that it equips you to love others well. Now, no matter one’s education, they ‘re able to love others. Loving others is primarily a choice of the heart before it’s a skill of the mind. But, that said, when your mind is matured from good schooling, you’re able to love others with so many more tools. Imagine two carpenters who both want to build a home for someone they love, but one has more tools, materials, and skill that he brings to the job. They both share the same heart of love, but the better-equipped carpenter will be able to build a home that better reflects the love he has in heart. Both are able to love, but one has more tools to express it. In the same way, if you labor in your studies to be matured in mind and knowledge and wisdom, you will be all the more equipped to love your family, friends, and neighbors in truth and grace. Done rightly, your education will make you a lover with all sorts of tools to bless those God puts in your life. And loving others well will bring you joy.

  1. To Experience Joy From Loving God

Now, though this is our last point, it is not last in importance. It’s the primary reason for education. Without this point, there is no lasting reason to care about education. What the sun is to our solar system, this point is to education. Everything in education must revolve around this one purpose: education exists so we’d love God and know His joy.

Now, you may be asking, “How does math help me love God?” or “In what ways does science help me love God?” The answer is simple and can be found in one verse of the Bible; in fact, the first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” How does this answer our question? The logic goes like this: since God is the creator of all creation, then as we study creation we are actually learning more about its Creator.

What this means is…

  • Math points the undeniable logic and coherency of Christ.
  • Science points to the creativity, diversity, and ingenuity of Christ.
  • Social Science & History points to faithfulness of Christ to His people and the wisdom of His Word.
  • Art points us to the unexplainable beauty and depth of Christ.
  • Literature exposes the deep yearning of humanity for what is true, good, and beautiful and sends people to seek out what can only be found in Christ.

One famous theologian said it this way, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” Therefore, every single class in this school is dedicated to showing you how the truth, beauty, and goodness of God’s creation points to the infinitely great truth, beauty, and goodness of its Creator. Our classes all point beyond our specific subjects to point to the One from Whom they came and for Whom they exist. Your education exists to not only show you the fruit of creation, but to lead you back to the Root of its Creator.

Hopefully now it’s clearer to see. The student who pursues education to live in wonder of God and to better love God and His people is the student who will know joy. And the type of joy they know can’t be stolen or lost or broken. It is a joy that only strengthens and grows as their love for God and others grows.

In All You Do, Seek Greater Things

Every week I drive to Biola University to teach my class and every time I drive back home I have the mystical experience of smelling the In & Out Burger right off Avery Parkway. It’s a worshipful experience and sometimes dangerous as it almost lulls me into trance-like state that greatly impairs my driving. Any self-respecting Californian knows exactly what I’m talking about.

But imagine you walked to an In & Out Burger and you saw me at the door, seeming to wait eagerly. Then, as someone comes outside the restaurant, I take in an enormous sniff and enjoy it deeply. Then, the door shuts and I wait for it to open again. None of you would fault me for enjoying the smell and you’d agree there are few things more fragrant. But, you’d think I’m crazy for this one simple truth: the burger is better than the smell. The smell is only good because of its source. If I enjoy the smell, then I should go inside and get a burger to complete my joy. And this brings me to the point I hope you never forget: don’t be the person at the door who smells, be the person who enters and feasts. Don’t be the student who seeks only grades, colleges, and careers. Be the student who follows those gifts to find joy the One who gives them. This is my charge to you: student, enjoy God’s gifts, worship God alone. Don’t choose the smell over the source,. Don’t choose the gifts over the Giver.

So, dear students, hear me clearly: today is a day of joy and celebration. Drink it deeply. But with this celebration, I want to give you this joyful charge. As you continue forward in your education, do it so you can grow to experience God’s eternal joy.

  • When next year begins, listen hard in your classes so wonder and curiosity of God’s world would expand you like a balloon.
  • Lean into your homework and studies so you’ll gain more tools to love those around you and serve them with truth.
  • And, above all, be a serious student at school so you will increasingly become a serious worshiper of Jesus Christ in all of life.

As the Apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, in word or deed (or inside class or outside class), do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

Do it all in His Name so in it all you’d experience His joy.

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The Book of Converbs: Anti-Wisdom to Be a Foolish & Terrible Person

If you would like to ensure your life is a curse to all people around you, then diligently study and obey this chapter of Converbs. To help you understand and apply these precious truths, I have supplied you with studied commentary.

So, my child, if you want to be a nuisance to those around you; if you hope to a reason for the grieve and sorrow of your family and friends; if you hope to live a fruitless and foolish life, give me your ear and give me your heart. Bind these sayings around you neck and never forsake them and you will become like a mighty skunk living by streams of the sewer, whose scent does not fade, but is poignant in season and out.

“Don’t Seek the Counsel of Other People.” Converbs 1:1

Caring about or looking for the counsel of others implies that you don’t have all the answer or that you could possibly make stupid or harmful decisions. Since you know that’s definitely not true, don’t act like it. Trust your own understanding and not the understanding of others. Lots of counselors only brings confusion and inconvenience so just do the right thing and trust your own feelings and thoughts (Proverbs 11:14; 24:6).

“Listen Only to Those Who Affirm You.” Converbs 1:1

The only important voices to listen to and celebrate are those that affirm what you already believe. Anyone who doesn’t affirm your ideas or your choices obviously is not your friend and only wants to hurt you. Surround yourself with people who never challenge you, confront you, or disagree with you. Only your enemies will criticize you.

“All Things in Moderation! Especially the Church.” Converbs 1:3

Always remember that, though Jesus died to save the church (Acts 20:24), loves the Church as His Bride (Eph. 5:25), cares for the Church as His body (1 Cor. 12:27), and has adopted you into the Church (Gal. 4:6-7), it isn’t really that important or necessary. If you want, go to church when you feel like and maybe even give a little money here and then. But, don’t get close enough to allow people to start affecting your life (Hebrews 10:24). Give up the habit of meeting together as some are in the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25). At best, be semi-churched. Try hopping around from church to church. Distrust the pastors and keep your distance from them; after all you don’t have obligations toward them and they’re not responsible for you (Hebrews 13:17). In fact, don’t see the church as a family that you are responsible for and accountable to. It is much better to view the church as a spiritual grocery store that you can visit every now and then, smile at the workers and fellow shoppers, gather up the things you want, and then leave with no thought or concern. Otherwise, they start messing with your life and, since you have it all together, you definitely don’t need that.

“Follow Your Feelings.” Converbs 1:4

Your feelings are not only strong, they are always right. So follow them and never distrust them. In fact, you should distrust anything or anyone that goes against what you feel; especially those pesky things called facts or friends. You should be filled with righteous anger against anyone who challenges or contradicts what you feel. As you know, your feelings have never once led you or anyone else astray, so why stop listening to them now? I feel silly even saying this because it is such a time-tested truth, but follow your heart (Disneyland 3:16)!

“Always Be Critical & Never Be Constructive.” Converbs 1:5

Unlike you, everyone else is mostly wrong, but doesn’t know it. So, you need to make sure that you are quick and consistent to point out the flaws of people or institutions around you. Don’t bother yourself to actually do something to help because that’s their responsibility (Eph. 4:29). You just make sure you are doing your part to help out those around you by pointing out everything that is wrong with them and the world. So many people are not brave enough to do so, so that job is left to you.

“Disrespect and Demonize People Who Disagree With You.” Converbs 1:6

When someone disagrees with you they’re basically dehumanizing you and trying to take away all your God-given rights. To say it short, disagreement is always and only a method of destruction. Anyone who disagrees with you or your ideas is essentially trying to murder you. So, therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you defend your right to life by disrespecting and demonizing anyone who disagrees with you. It is crucial that everyone else understands that to believe what they believe automatically shows they’re not worthy of respect and that they probably are actual demons – fallen angels doing Satan’s work. Never be civil with them. Go only for their throat.

“Never Apologize for Something When Your Intentions Were Right.” Converbs 1:7

Sometimes, because people are stupid, they get offended by things you do or say. And sometimes, people are so mean, instead of bottling up their feelings, they actually try to hurt you by telling you how you hurt them. When this happens, be humble and say you are sorry they feel the way they do, but they actually should not be hurt because your intentions were right. After all, it doesn’t matter that your actions hurt them if you didn’t mean to. How could anyone expect you to apologize for what you’ve done when that’s not want you intended? You cannot be held responsible for your actions! Ridiculous. So, explain to them that though your actions hurt them, it’s not your fault because your heart was right. That will help them understand their hurt feelings are they’re fault and not yours. This is hard work, but it will help the other person know that you’re not the problem, but they are.

“Attack People Who Challenge or Confront You With Your Sin or Folly.” Converbs 1:8

Here, the Converbist repeats the theme raised in Converbs 1:6, but extends it beyond people who disagree with our ideas to those who actually confront us about our actions. Obviously, these people are not your friends because friends would never raise an issue that could hurt your feelings. Friends would never say you do anything wrong. Friends are those who affirm you and celebrate all you. They should always and only make you feel good. So, when someone says you have done something foolish or sinful, they’re not your friend, but your enemy. Don’t listen to them, but defend yourself and attack them. Like we all know, your friends will only have kisses for you, but your enemies will wound you faithfully (Proverbs 27:6).

“Remember, You Are Always Right.” Converbs 1:9

Trust in the Lord with all your and lean hard on your own understanding too (Proverb 3:5-6). You know you’ve never made a mistake or done anything wrong in your life. You know, better than anyone, that you’ve never been genuinely wrong about anything in your past so why should you distrust yourself in the present? So, never doubt yourself or your ideas or your choices. Do not trust the Holy Spirit working through other people, only the Holy Spirit working in you! When contradicted, reject your pastor’s counsel, your friends words, and your families pleas because you are always right and could not possibly be wrong! Again, as we all know, “Believe in yourself” (1 Oprah 14:6).

“In the Church, Die on the Hill of Your Preferences.” Converbs 1:10

The Church is a place where we must make sure all our preferences are met exactly how we want them to be. If they’re not, it is our duty to either raise hell about it until meet our preferences or leave. When the style of music they have isn’t to your taste; if the service time doesn’t allow you to enjoy your weekend in the way you want to; if the pastor isn’t as funny or engaging or emotional as you want him to be, then demand changes are made or leave! Make sure not to care too much about the little things like whether or not the Bible is faithfully taught or the gospel faithfully preached or whether or not holiness is pursued or the mission of making disciples obeyed. Making sure your individual preferences are met is far more important than those other silly and unimportant matters. Keep the main thing (your preferences) the main thing at your church.

“Be Vigilant About Other People’s Sins & Diligent to Proclaim Them.” Converbs 1:11

People around you need you to point out their errors and the errors of all the churches and institutions around you. Write long blog posts about how others are failing. Post often about why people are fools and why you, in particular, have the solution and answer for their and everyone else’s folly. Fill the Inter-Webs with your lofty and discerning wisdom; especially when people haven’t asked for it because they obviously need it the most. From time to time, you may be tempted to look at your own sins and confess them, but be strong and reject that urge. After all, if you stop pointing out and proclaiming the sins of those around you, who else will? So, serve others well by ensuring you ignore your own sins to pay attention to theirs.

“Never Forgive People Who’ve Hurt You.” Converbs 1:12

When someone hurts you or sins against, make them pay. Ensure they know and deeply feel their error by ignoring them, shunning them, speaking about them behind their backs, or just by attacking them head on. Hold onto all your grudges because they’ll energize you to keep moving on in healthy directions. Plant bitterness deep in your heart so you bear fruits of love and joy (Eph. 4:30). After all, it’s God’s job to forgive, not ours (Eph. 4:31). How could God possibly tell us to forgive those who’ve sinned against us? He doesn’t know what it’s like to be sinned against greatly or, even more, how impossible it is to forgive people who’ve wronged you (Eph. 2:1-10; 4:31; Romans 3:21-26; 5:8-9; Titus 3:3-8). So, make sure you’re thankful that God forgave all your small sins against Him, but don’t think you should then be forced to forgive all the other people’s enormous sins against you (Matthew 18:21-35). Also, be thankful God never tells us to forgive others.

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