The Gospel and Apathy

An excerpt from John Piper’s new book, Bloodlines:

Apathy is passionless living. It is sitting in front of the television night after night and living your life from one moment of entertainment to the next. It is the inability to be shocked into action by the steady-state lostness and suffering of the world. It is the emptiness that comes from thinking of godliness as the avoidance of doing bad things instead of the aggressive pursuit of doing good things.

If that were God’s intention for the godliness of his people, why would Paul say, “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12)? People who stay at home and watch clean videos don’t get persecuted. Godliness must mean something more public, more aggressively good.

In fact, the aim of the gospel is the creation of people who are passionate for doing good rather than settling for the passionless avoidance of evil. “[Christ] gave himself for us…to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The gospel produces people who are created for good works (Eph. 2:10), and have a reputation for good works (1 Tim. 5:10), and are ich in good works (1 Tim. 6:18), and present a model of good works (Titus 2:7), and devote themselves to good works (Titus 3:8,14), and stir each other up to good works (Heb. 10:24).

And when they set about them, the word they hear from God is, “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom 12:11). The gospel does not make us lazy. It makes us fervent. The Greek for fervent signifies boiling. The gospel opens our eyes to the eternal significance of things. Nothing is merely ordinary anymore.

Christ did not pursue us halfheartedly. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the uttermost (John 13:1). His death gives the deepest meaning to the word passion. Now he dwells in us. How will we not pray for the fullest experience of his zeal for the cause of justice and love? “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

Book Review: The Help

Welllllllll, I just wrote a lengthy book review on The Help. And it got erased. I thought auto-save helped with that…..

I just can’t write it all again.

Here’s my synopsis:

  • Fantastic book, great writing. Compelling, impactful, stirring.
  • Don’t read it if you have life to do. I couldn’t put it down. Kept it open on the counter so I could read a sentence as I walked by. Shame, shame!
  • Can’t believe that actually happened and in my parents lifetime. Can’t believe it still happens today in people’s private views toward black people and other races.
  • There are anti-Christian views and language used in this book. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it, just be aware. It makes it authentic and raw and real and is probably necessary. Probably less than a PG-13 movie.
  • The Gospel is the only thing that can truly change hearts. Activism, social justice, civil rights, education. All of these things help make progress, but none of them will do the work of eradicating hate in hearts. The Gospel is our solution. More on that in my next Book Review (which will hopefully be a real review): Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian.

Rating: A. Highly recommended! 

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Length: 464 Pages
Genre: Fiction

Book Review: Bringing the Gospel Home

The best book on evangelism I have read to date.

Randy Newman is witty and funny and completely not dry, which makes this book easy to read and really enjoyable.

He takes a different approach. He talks about many different tactics, but the overarching theme is that evangelism to your family or close friends can take time and when faced with conversation topics that clearly point to the BIble, don’t give cheesy, annoying Christian answers. Ask more questions, listen to them talk. See where they are at. Ask if they are interested in talking about spiritual things with you further. Don’t jump in and just offer your two cents on the matter. Don’t do a drive by evangelism where you get in, get out and get on with your life and the conversation. Be calm, be slow, be passionate, be patient, be loving.

There is only one remotely negative thing I can say about this book, and it’s almost not worth mentioning because it may be due to the author’s personality. It truly is the only thing holding this A back from an A+. The book is filled with stories. And he really inserts a story right in the middle of a paragraph without any warning. It illustrates his point perfectly, but there is just no introduction to it at all. No, “let me give you an example.” He just goes right into it, over and over again. Granted, he would be giving intros and segues every third paragraph because there are so many real-life examples in this book. But I felt like I got whiplash a little bit from his change of direction without any prep. The thoughts in this book don’t necessarily build upon one another. You could rearrange most of the book and it would still be readable because it seems to be a lot of scattered thoughts and helpful advice, but not necessarily with continuity. I don’t mind this at all; it’s actually kind of refreshing. But it was different.

The book is straight to the point. In a lot of books, I end up skimming because there is a lot of filler. Almost like they are trying to meet a word count. But I felt that this book said everything it needed to say and everything that was written in it needed to be there.

It was so helpful in my perspective on Evangelism. I will be taking much of his advice to heart and putting it to use. Not to robotically “share my faith” but to be better used by God with unbelievers and further the Kingdom, for His fame. If you share this heart, pick up this book.

It is still available for free in PDF from Desiring God.

Rating: A. Highly Recommended!

Title: Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members and Others Who Know You Well
Author: Randy Newman
Length: 224 pages
Genre: Spiritual Life/Evangelism

Tuesday Tip: Buy a Whole Chicken

 

Look at the price of conventional chicken at the grocery store and compare it to free-range, organic chicken and of course you will have a hard time buying it. It is difficult to spend $4.99/lb. when you could spend $1.99/lb. I used to just suck it up and spend it, telling myself over and over, “Pay for it now or pay for it later in health care because all the hormones and antibiotics are going to make you sick.” But I am now broker than broke, so as much as I love to justify my organic grocery shopping, I had to drastically reduce my expenditures.

There is a way to buy organic chicken and not spend any more (or much more at least): Buy a whole one.

I get mine for around $1.99/lb. This ends up being about $10-14, depending on the size. I take it home, butcher it up, divide it up into freezer bags that I can pull out for the weeks meals.

I get 3-4 meals out of these chickens (depending on how much chicken is in the meal) plus chicken stock, which basically can pay for the chicken itself and as far as taste and health benefit goes, priceless.

Here is step-by-step how to on cutting up a whole chicken.

I use the carcass and neck and any organs in the stock. After the chicken stock is made, I pick the meat from the bones and save it for a future use (soup, buffalo chicken dip, chicken salad, etc…)

Lower your grocery bill and increase the quality of food you eat, all with little effort if you are willing to coat your hands in chicken fat for a few minutes.

 

Menu Plan Monday

Now that my town is finally getting some snow, I am looking forward to warm comfort foods with the addition of nutrient dense dark leafy greens and other vitamin- and mineral-rich vegetables. Also on the menu for this week: a few nutritious desserts made with raw honey.

I found a few new cookbooks at the library (one of which is my new favorite), and have adapted a few recipes for this week’s menu. I can’t wait to make and share!

Menu for January 16-22