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Trending Christian Blog and Commentary

Carrie Dedrick

What topic related to Christianity, faith, and the Bible is trending online and in social media today?
“Adulting” can’t yet be found in a standard dictionary (I’m sure it’s just a matter of time), but it’s a word that is cropping up everywhere, from regular conversations at the office to Facebook memes. 
According to UrbanDictionary.com, “adulting” means: “To do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.”
It has even become popular to remove the “ing” altogether, as in, “I don’t want to adult today.” 
Let’s be honest. Adulting isn’t always fun. There are so many bills. Things break in your house, and if you own it, it’s your responsibility to fix it. When you get sick, you have to take care of yourself, and maybe even just power through it because someone has to take the kids to soccer practice and dance lessons. 
Some days feel like an endless cycle of waking up early, getting kids dressed and out the door without anyone having a meltdown (that includes you), going to work, picking up the kids from school, scrounging up a 20-minute meal before youth group/choir practice/softball practice, coming home exhausted, and crashing into bed without 15 minutes to do the dishes that are piled mountain-high in the sink.
It. Never. Ends. 
Lisa-Jo Baker writes for (in)courage, “I don’t feel prepared… I don’t feel like all my years between then and now have prepared me for how to properly respond. I’m lost in a grown up’s body without the relevant manual and tomorrow I have to keep being a grown up and where do grown up’s go when they feel as scared as their kids?”
Friends, this fear that we all feel at some point isn’t from God. 
Baker realized this when she came across a sign that read, “You’re the God who moves the mountains.”
Baker writes, “I live my life like, ‘I’m the Lisa-Jo who has to move the mountains.’ I’m so stuck there that I start to believe it. Like Wednesday won’t come if I don’t make it happen by sheer force of will. And I wonder why I wake up exhausted.
“But I… stared at that sign and remembered what I’d forgotten. That there is a God who lives outside of time and who holds time and me and this planet and tomorrow’s laundry in His hands.” 
"And it’s all on Him. It always was. He’s the God who moves the mountains."
Yes, we’re adults. We have to pay bills, and do taxes, and figure out insurance deductibles. But we are also children. We’re children of God. 
“I still feel like a child because in the ways that matter most I always will be. And it’s a profound relief,” Baker writes. 
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 John 3:1, ESV).
In the Crosswalk.com article “10 Simple Prayers to Encourage the Heart of the Working Mom,” Theresa Ceniccola offers this prayer for those needing motivation. It applies to all of us who may not want to “adult” today, not just moms. 
“Lord, please fill me with faith and resolve to keep moving forward when I feel like giving up. Remind me of your will for me and give me the patience and endurance to stay the course, despite the many obstacles I face." Amen.
 
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap. 
Publication date: May 27, 2016

My favorite hymn is “Come Thou Fount,” and every time I hear the line that says “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,” it resonates deeply within me. I really do feel it. I know I am so apt to do the opposite of what I know I should do, so quick to gossip or lie or not love my neighbor well, so prone to wandering off the path the Lord has set before me.

I’m a Christian, and I’m a hypocrite.

And honestly? So are you.

We’ve all heard people say that Christians are hypocrites, and if you’re like me, it’s probably stung a bit to hear that. It’s not pretty, but it’s reality. We know that Romans 3:23 says we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, so it’s no surprise that we mess up, get it wrong, and totally fail at this whole faith thing.

If Christians are all prone to hypocrisy on some level at some point, how is the church supposed to handle things?

Jayson D. Bradley addresses Christian hypocrisy in his recent post “All Christians are Hypocrites” for Relevant.

“I think we need to look at the ways that the church reinforces or even rewards hypocrisy—and why non-believers often get so giddy when it’s exposed. When we stand at the intersection of these points, we’ll benefit from a less fraudulent faith.”

Here are his points:

  • Behavior monitoring enables hypocrisy. “While the threat of disapproval may get us to change or hide our behavior, it doesn’t change our beliefs—it simply drives them underground,” Bradley says. He tells of parents driving their children towns away to see a “forbidden” movie so they aren’t seen by fellow churchgoers, and I’ve heard many similar stories myself. When we feel like our actions are being scrutinized by what Bradley calls “behavioral watchdogs,” our tendency is to hide what we are doing. It’s a slippery slope, and one that can often lead to worse behavior and even more hypocrisy in the end.
  • Behavior modification creates hypocrisy. Telling Christians to shape up because the world is watching them rarely gets to the root of why they are doing what they’re doing in the first place. “The problem is that this kind of image-oriented posturing actually hurts Christians more than it helps them,” Bradley says. Especially for new believers, we shouldn’t be presenting Christianity as a list of behavioral rules and off-limits activities (Don’t drink! Don’t dance! Don’t play cards! Don’t, don’t, don’t!), but instead as an invitation to relationship with Jesus alongside all other believers. “I think we need to present Christianity in a way that encourages people to wrestles with its claims and sacrifices,” Bradley says. When we come to know the Lord intimately, His desires become ours, and our actions will change accordingly. True heart change and action change comes as a result of a genuine understanding of what God wants for His children and rarely from a long list of rules and regulations.
  • Neither monitoring nor modification work. “I have found that the church is full of people who are concealing feelings or perspectives they think will get them ostracized,” Bradley says. “Sometimes living transparently gives permission for people around you to do the same.” We will never all agree on what we think is right, acceptable, or correct behavior as Christians, but we can be open to dialoging about our differences respectfully and can be open to correction when it’s necessary. It can be tempting to want to change other Christians’ actions when we feel they are in the wrong, but a person’s faith is not always clear or quantifiable. “The only real way we can get at the root of someone’s spiritual sickness is to expect, encourage and equip them to pursue Christ—not good behavior, not approval and not theology,” says Bradley.

So, what do we do about it?

Live honestly. “The pursuit of Jesus Christ is your true testimony,” Bradley says. If you find yourself wanting to hide your actions or live different lives depending in your company, acknowledge that before the Lord and begin entering into a way of living that is aligned with Scripture and consistent in all areas of your life. However, if you find that you want to make changes in your life simply because you’re concerned what others are thinking, Bradley says don’t bother.

“The only way we’ll truly beat hypocrisy is by being willing to recognize that every single one of us is a spiritual novice. Christianity doesn’t make us better, smarter, righter or happier than anyone else. It re-aligns us with God and allows Him to begin the messy, mysterious and often brutalizing work of untangling our twisted lives. The effort we waste on appearing more godly to others and ourselves is wasted, and only the effort poured into pursuing Christ matters.”

Just because we have all sinned, fallen short, and been hypocrites does not mean we should throw in the towel and live recklessly. We can actively choose day by day to seek Christ fully, obey His commandments and desires for our lives, and follow Him honestly and wholeheartedly.

It’s a journey, but it’s one worth taking. We’re all in this together.

Publication date: May 26, 2016

Rachel Dawson is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com

Oftentimes, Christians are stereotyped as judgmental and unhappy. Unfortunately, this stereotype sometimes proves to be true. When we look at all the bad things going on in the world, all the sin, all the suffering, it is easy to be doom and gloom.

But as Christ-followers, although we are called to be sober-minded and to live our lives with an eternal perspective, we are also called to have joy. It is this joy, says Randy Alcorn in his blog “Why are Christians Bitter and Unhappy?” that is often most effective in drawing others to Christ.

Oftentimes, we are tempted to equate the Christian life with a legalistic set of rules, a life void of joy and laughter. Alcorn gives the example of Miss Watson, a Christian spinster who takes care of Huck Finn in Mark Twain’s famous book.

“She went on and told me all about the good place. She said all a body would have to do there was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever. So I didn’t think much of it. . . . I asked her if she reckoned Tom Sawyer would go there, and she said not by a considerable sight. I was glad about that, because I wanted him and me to be together,” Huck Finn narrates.

Miss Watson not only presents an unhappy future life, but an unhappy present one, says Alcorn.

Perhaps some of us may be convicted by Huck’s words--have we presented Christianity as a boring, goody-two-shoes way of life like Miss Watson did? Are we guilty of deterring others from the riches of joy and abundant life found in Christ?

The remedy to letting the world’s sin and evil ways steal our joy is to remember that we serve a joyful God.

If we see God as happy, suddenly the command for us to ‘find your joy in him at all times’ (Philippians 4:4) makes sense,” says Alcorn. “God is saying, in essence, ‘Be as I am.’ Paralleling ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16), the answer to the question ‘Why should God’s children be happy?’ is ‘Because our Father is happy.’”

The Apostle Paul many times exhorts Christians to “rejoice” (1 Thes. 5:16-18). We, of all people, who serve a risen Lord who is present in our daily trials, have cause for joy.

The church, the meeting place of God’s people, should be a place of joy as well. As Christians, we are called to be different from the world, but we should not stand out for our judgmental nature or our condescending attitude toward the things of this world; instead, we should stand out because of our joy in spite of adverse circumstances.

If you are able to remain joyful and not despair when bad things happen, what better testimony to the power of Christ in your life!

Joy is contagious; people are drawn to a person who is encouraging, and showing the joy you have in Christ may present an opportunity for you to share the Gospel. However, we must realize that true joy comes only through Christ, and not through outward circumstances.

“If we pursue joy in our circumstances, we are guaranteed a life of disappointment. But when we seek joy in Christ, what he has done for us, and the progress of the gospel, we can experience unshakable joy,” says Crosswalk.com contributer Dr. Matthew Harmon in the article “How to Have Unshakeable Joy Like Paul.”

In our world today, it is tempting to look at the news and the circumstances of our life and allow our joy to be replaced by despair, a judgmental attitude, or bitterness, but instead let us be people who take to heart Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4: “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again--rejoice!”

Veronica Neffinger is the editor of ChristianHeadlines.com.

Publication date: May 25, 2016

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