Parents, Broken Bones, and Sin’s Curse

broken arm cast

by John Ellis

There are moments that remind parents that our children aren’t really ours, not really. Moments that interrupt daily life, underscoring parents’ finiteness and the fragility of our children. Moments that stand still in pain and hopelessness while you implore, to no avail, for time to reset itself back into daily life.

Tuesday evening as I sat reading on our back-deck, the weak yet desperate cries of help coming from the front yard were the first signal that a chain of unwanted moments for my family had been set in motion.

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‘Desiring God’ Says that I Ruined My Life; Jesus Says Otherwise


The-Return-of-the-Prodigal-Son

by John Ellis

(Edit: Shortly after I emailed him this evening, Jonathan Pokluda emailed me back, demonstrating humility and charity as he expressed concern for me over and above his article. As I contemplated his kind words to me, I thought, “Would I respond with this much humility and charity if someone challenged one of my articles?” I don’t know the answer to that, but I pray that I would/will, by God’s grace. 

Writing online is a tricky business. Rarely are you able to say all that you want and all that you believe on a given topic. I wrote this blog post under the assumption that Jonathan Pokluda did not intend to provoke the response I had while reading his article. But, I had my response and I was concerned that others might have a similar response. In His kindness, God has me in a place, spiritually and materially, where my existential navel-gazing is overcome by His mercy and kindness exhibited in my sanctification, by the power of His Spirit. However, before I began writing, I wondered how my response would’ve festered if I had read something similar as a new Believer. So, while I stand by what I’ve written below, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that I believe that Jonathan Pokluda would counsel Christians who have “ruined” their lives that, in Christ, their life has not been ruined. If I never meet Pokluda in this life, I look forward to laughing with him about this in the new heavens and new earth.)

It’s not that I disagree with Jonathan Pokluda’s advice in his article “How to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties.” It’s that in his article he allowed little to no room for me and others like me. You see, I ruined my life in my twenties. I violated every single one of his resolutions. And, yet, although I ruined my life, my life is not ruined. And that’s a paradox of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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The Prophetess Anna and the Ordinary Means of Grace

Reading the Bible

by John Ellis

As the first month of 2018 comes to its close, I’ve been prayerfully reflecting on my commitment this year, as well as the years to come, to submitting myself to the ordinary means of grace ordained by God for His glory and the sanctification of His children. When doing so, it’s easy to pat myself on the back because of what I’m doing (while ignoring what I’m not doing).

However, this morning, as I read the story of the prophetess Anna found in Luke 2:36-38, my conscience was pricked. On the tail end of Luke’s relating the birth of Christ, the reader is introduced to an 84-year-old widow who, “did not depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day.”

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Is God the Father of Everyone?

cross_the_passion

by John Ellis

The claim of exclusivity is one of liberal “Christianity’s” biggest problems with Christianity. The thing is, the really scary thing is, the rejection of exclusivity in Christianity is a rejection of Christianity. Denying that Christianity is exclusive requires denying the words of Jesus.

Throughout his ministry, and more than any other person recorded in the Bible, Jesus spoke about the coming eternal judgment in hell of the unrighteous. Frequently, Jesus told his disciples and those listening that not everyone is/would be part of the Kingdom of God. In plain language that is impossible to misconstrue, Jesus told the Pharisees that their father was the devil. Having the devil as your father means that you are excluded from the Kingdom of God. Christianity is an exclusive religion.

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The Cross Is Where True Social Justice Is Found

cross_the_passion

by John Ellis

Luke chapter fifteen is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible; which is to say, one of the most beautiful passages in all of literature. As the chapter opens, we meet a group of grumbling Pharisees and scribes who are accusatorily saying of Jesus, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” With his response, Jesus reveals his love, his heart, and the reason for his incarnation.

The self-centered, self-righteous revelation of the Pharisees and scribes’ hearts finds a contrast and, more importantly, an antidote in the three parables that Jesus told in response. Instead of defending himself against the charge of receiving sinners and eating with them, Jesus confirms the accusation and explains that that is exactly what he came to do. Jesus’ telling of “The Parable of the Lost Sheep,” “The Parable of the Lost Coin,” and “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” reveals to us his desire to see sinners saved and reconciled to God. The readers of the Bible shouldn’t be surprised.

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The Sacred VS. the Secular: Having a Party Instead of a Bible Study

Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.” Job 41:11b

party

by John Ellis

Several years ago, pretty much every other Sunday evening at my house, I hosted a group of men from church. We would gather, drink Scotch or beer, listen to music, and talk. Sometimes, we discussed theology. Often, though, we discussed sports or movies or philosophy, current events, politics, music, literature, you get the picture; our evenings together were rather unstructured, and we discussed whatever came to our minds. The evenings were fun and edifying.

At some point, we invited several of our younger brothers in Christ (they were in their early to mid-twenties). Several of them took advantage of the invitation, and showed up at one of the Sunday evening gatherings in my library. As the evening came to a close, it was obvious that our young brothers were disappointed. We discovered later that they were expecting a structured time of Bible study and/or prayer. The following Sunday, one of the younger brothers haughtily confronted me and a friend and accusingly asked, “What’s the point of your getting together? It was a waste of time!”

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David & Goliath: A Tale of Two Songs

DavidAndGoliathGettyImages-91727886

by John Ellis

If the Old Testament stories were to be ranked based on popularity, the story of David and Goliath would undoubtedly rank in the top-three. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people’s list didn’t rank the tale as number-one. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Sunday School or VBS is familiar with the story of the young Israelite who was destined to become king taking down the Philistine giant with only a sling. The Biblical story is so ubiquitous, in fact, that “David and Goliath” has become a cultural colloquialism used to refer to any underdog tale. Sadly, though, the story of David and Goliath is as misunderstood as it is popular.

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