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Three of God’s Most Potent Mental Health Boosters

By Jesse Jost

If God stepped into your room and offered you a pill that was guaranteed to boost your happiness level, would you take it?

God made our brains for joy and peace and pleasure. In His presence there is fullness of joy. (Psalm 16:11)

Jesus said that He came that we might have life more abundantly. (John 10:10) “That your joy may be full,” were some of His final words to his disciples (John 15:11). Paul urges us to “rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil 4:4)

But on this broken planet, we rarely enjoy God’s presence. Our minds are weighted with anxiety, resentment, discontentment, and guilt.

How did we get stuck in misery and how do we get unstuck?

Happiness Booster #1: Replace Regrets of the Past with Gratitude

The past can be tormenting… mistakes, missed opportunities, and the criticisms and abuse heaped on us. Toxic reflections like these create a yearning to rewrite events gone by.

But the past can’t be changed. It can, however, be reframed or reinterpreted.

Continue reading…
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3 Reasons I Now Love the Wrath of God and His Coming Judgement

By Jesse Jost

I almost became an atheist because of the doctrine of Hell. I used to choke on scriptures about God’s wrath or the coming fiery judgement; they felt unfair and cruel. I gravitated to passages about His love, grace, and mercy.

But even though you may rarely hear about God’s judgement and wrath in modern sermons, you can’t escape these ideas in the New Testament.

Jesus spoke more about hell than heaven. Sin was so serious, Jesus warned, that it would be better to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand then let those offending body parts lead us to hell. He said not to fear those who can kill the body, but rather Him who can destroy the soul in hell.

Knowing the terror of the Lord motivated Paul’s evangelistic pleas. He warned about the coming day when the “Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thess 1:8-9)

Almost every epistle mentions the coming wrath and judgement that will consume this planet. Peter warns that judgement will begin with the church. The writer of Hebrews says, “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30-31)

We squirm over this doctrine. Seeker-sensitive messages avoid or soften it, fearing that it makes Jesus unattractive.

But whether we like it or not, it’s a reality we have to grapple with. God’s judgement will come whether we agree with it or not.  The only real issue is: are you ready for it?

After meditating on these passages further, I now find them a source of comfort and delight. They free me from miserable chains of self-centeredness, and stir my desire for God. Here’s how:

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Guard Your Story With All Diligence, For Out Of It Spring the Issues of Life

By Jesse Jost

We have a deep psychological and emotional need to understand what is really going on. We are driven to figure out how events and actions are connected,

so we can predict what is coming. This need to know the story is connected to our desire to know the future.

The story we believe we are in informs our view of what the problem is, and what solution is needed. It tells us who the enemy is and what we must do to counter him/it.

We feel adrift and aimless if we don’t have a clear understanding of what story we are in. But a compelling story can light a fire of motivation, making us willing to sacrifice everything for that story.

The story we believe gives us a compelling vision of what needs to be done, and what can be accomplished if the stories ends are achieved. It determines what we are willing to sacrifice to achieve the stories’ goals. It is the root of humanity’s greatest accomplishments and most horrendous atrocities.

Socialism, the most deadly idea of the 20th century, was a captivating story about the world’s primary problem and what could be done to fix it.

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  • Rachel

    Story=worldview, as well?

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Why The Slippery Slope Can’t Predict The Future

By Jesse Jost

A look around at the present trends we are seeing in North America does not give a Christian much reason for optimism. In the past year we have seen numerous freedoms disappear. Churches are facing draconian restrictions and fines for trying to obey our biblical mandates. Censorship of conservative ideas is becoming widespread.

Society as a whole seems to be embracing ideas that run contrary to sacred core biblical values. It feels like faithfully preaching biblical Christianity is becoming cultural suicide.

I have seen alarming parallels between what is happening now to what happened in other nations as they slid into dictatorships and police states. Is history bound to repeat itself? Have the restrictions and freedoms lost in the name of this pandemic shoved us down the slippery slope toward a totalitarian dystopia?

The idea of a slippery slope, or the idea that if we grant one thing it will inevitably lead to another thing, is a powerful rhetorical device. “If we let government dictate masks for the church, then we will also allow the government to stop our preaching the whole Bible.” “If we relinquish one freedom, where will it end?”

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The Tormenting Burden of Being Right

By Jesse Jost

This morning before church, I got sucked into a debate with a very close friend on the effectiveness of PCR tests in diagnosing Covid.

Neither of us has any medical training, and I doubt if either of us knew what a PCR test was a year ago. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find two people less qualified to debate the topic.

Yet, that didn’t stop me from letting this agitate me and temporarily get in between us. I sat down in my pew and struggled to let go and enter worship.

Then God whispered to my soul and I said three words to myself that flooded my soul with peace: “I don’t know.” It felt so good to admit I didn’t know the whole truth about PCR tests, and therefore it wasn’t my job to try to change someone’s mind to agree with me!

As I reflected on this later, I realized that resting in agnosticism about the issues isn’t enough. To not know anything for sure is to lack conviction and decisive action.

On the other hand, to wrestle someone else to the mat on every issue makes you a divisive and lonely jerk. But to not have confidence in anything leaves you adrift!

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  • Dale Jost

    Yes good word Jesse, it does truly depend on your source for what is truth, to be confident in it. There is definitely so much we dare not be dogmatic about!

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Unprepared for Battle

Unprepared for Battle

By Jesse Jost

Recently we had a friend over who was discussing the holocaust. She said there were three groups of people during that horrific time. Those who perpetrated the crimes against the Jews, those who did all they could to oppose the evil men, and those who did nothing. Her questions haunted me. Which group am I in with the evil that is taking place today?

During the craziness of 2020, I’ve written blog and Facebook posts aimed to call people to prayer, bible memorization and meditation, and a deeper walk with God. I have also urged caution about embracing conspiracy theories and being careful about what we believe.

Almost every time I have posted, I get responses interpreting my advice as “not standing up for truth” or failing to be the watchman. That I’m somehow urging people to bury their heads in the sands of personal piety, and ignore the pleas of the oppressed.

I always cringe when I get one of these responses because that is not at all what I intend to communicate.

I believe there is a real spiritual and cultural battle raging right now. I believe God calls His Church to be soldiers in this battle. My concern is that we as soldiers of the King be prepared for battle.

As we have seen throughout history, sending soldiers into battle who are not equipped for the fight has been catastrophic both for the soldiers and the country they are defending.

Continue reading…
  • Konrad

    “Part of the reason I have been so passionate to point people away from possible conspiracy theories and back to God’s word, is because only on the sure foundation of the Bible can we find true unity. ” Amen and amen! Keep standing for the Truth as expressed His Word. One of the side benefits of 2020 is that is has been another reminder of the unrelenting relevance of the Bible to our day. I can not think of a time that I have held fast to what the scripture teaches and had it let me down or be less than advertised. Some things are hard (“…they that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution…”) and counter-culture (“Bless those that curse you”), but It has always been true.

    Asking me to defy what the scripture teaches in favor of hearsay and theoretical ill-intentions of others (a lot of which is neither provable nor disprovable), is asking me to lend more authority to the conspiracy or man’s wisdom than to the Word of God, or said another way, putting scripture in subjection to conspiracy theory or man’s wisdom. That doesn’t seem like a good trade.

    ~K

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You FEEL you’re right, but are you? The Liabilities of the Emotional Mind

By Jesse Jost

I’m studying emotional intelligence, and am fascinated by how our rational mind (the frontal lobe) and emotional mind (the amygdala) work.

The data from our senses passes through the emotional part of our brain before it hits the rational part. Consequently, we have feelings about things even before we have thoughts about things.

The lightning-fast emotional response enables us to recognize danger and react by reflex when needed. If you see a rope being thrown at you, the data gathered by your senses will trigger fear because your amygdala senses that the object could be a snake, and will cause you to react by jumping out of the way before you have time to decide if it’s a rope or a snake. The emotional response needs to be fast, because if the object is a snake, time wasted evaluating the object may be fatal.

Our instantaneous emotional response to life can be life-saving; it can also be a liability. The “eyes” of our emotional brain see life in a simplified way, devoid of the complexity and nuance afforded by the more careful deliberation of our rational mind. This simplicity allows the emotional mind to make quick judgments and produce instant emotions.

Emotions are a gift that make the experience of life so rich, as well as a source of wisdom that can help our rational mind make wise decisions informed by empathy and awareness of emotional consequences.

However, the way emotions are formed by snap judgments can make strong emotions a liability if they are not questioned by our rational mind.

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Wake up! A Covid Call To Action.

By Jesse Jost

The feedback from my latest forays into social media seems to imply that what some people have been hearing in my posts is this: don’t worry about the encroaching threats to our freedom. Don’t fight for our freedoms. The corruption in government and big pharma is all just conspiracy theory. We can safely ignore it and just spread positivity.

That is not what I am saying at all! My passion is two-fold:

  1. What can I do practically to make a difference in staving off the very real threats to our medical and religious freedoms?

We’ve heard it many times: all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. That thought chills me and motivates me to action. But I want to do something that is making a real difference.

Social media provides a paradox: it’s easy to share and raise awareness, but it can also lessen the steps people take in the real world to make a difference.  I’m using social media right now to participate in a conversation, but I must fight the temptation to think that because I wrote that post or shared the article, my work is done. That’s my first concern.

  • Is what I’m advocating truly biblical? Is it in line with God’s word?

I am always asking:  What does God’s word say about this? It’s easy to adopt ideas and trends that make sense to us or sound good, but they can directly contradict God’s instructions to New Testament Christ-followers.

In light of these two concerns, let’s look at just of the few possibilities that believers are sounding the alarm bell about and how we should respond.

“Government is inflating covid deaths to make the threat more scary and control us.”

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Practical Tips for Meditating on Scripture

By Jesse Jost

Imagine if…every time after you ate, your food just went right through you? Suppose it never lingered in your stomach acid to get broken down, and the nutrients never got absorbed in your intestines? What would happen to your body? You would quickly grow weak and malnourished and you would not live long. It wouldn’t matter how regularly you ate, or what you ate, because without the process of digestion, you would die.

In a similar way, it is not enough to just “eat” God’s word by reading and memorizing it. For our souls to grow spiritually, we also need a process of digestion where we break down and absorb nutrients, applying them to our lives.

Scripture calls this digestion process “meditating.” Psalm 1 says that the righteous man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Here are some ideas that have enriched my meditation process. The Holy Spirit ultimately takes the text and uses it to bring us light, convict us, and comfort us, so none of these ideas should replace a prayerful dependence on Him.

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Why Churches Struggle with Relationships (and How They Can Thrive)

By Jesse Jost

Before Jesus died, He prayed that His followers would have unity and be marked by love. Today, churches are often seen as places of petty division. Church splits are common, and the number of denominations rises yearly. It’s a sorry cliché that “churches are the only army that shoots its wounded,” as almost everyone has been hurt by other Christians.

Why do Christians, who have been showered with undeserved grace and forgiven so much, struggle greatly with relationships with each other?

I am not offering definitive answers here to this troubling question, but rather exploring possible reasons so that solutions can be found.

What is the Church?

The church can be two very different things: First, it can be a place where people who are supernaturally regenerated and indwelt with the Holy Spirit exhibit the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When this is the case, there is warmth and grace.

Second, the church can also be a place of religious effort where members attempt to earn heaven by good works. This spirit of religiosity may seem very similar to true Christianity but the fruits of this kind of religion are very different: guilt, fear, and pride.

Yet even genuine believers who are saved by faith and filled with the Holy Spirit still struggle with a sinful nature that hijacks good impulses and wreaks all kinds of relational havoc. This combination is why I believe churches struggle so much with relationships. Continue reading…

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