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What Seeds Are You Planting With Your Tongue?

By Jesse Jost

Seeds are remarkable. They can lie dead and dormant for years. Yet put them in the soil and water them and new life magically springs forth with enough explosive power to crack concrete.

Seeds are always faithful to their DNA. They always reproduce according to their kind. You will never get a watermelon from a pumpkin seed. If you want a watermelon, you had better plant a watermelon.

Whether we realize it or not, our words are like seeds. They have the same explosive power to shape someone’s world. Proverbs says that “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Prov 18:21)

The thing about words and seeds is you don’t have to realize what you are sowing to reap the consequences. We put some straw on our garden one year to protect our strawberries. What we didn’t realize was that the straw was full of Canadian thistle seeds. Those thistles are unbelievably nasty and sharp. They have taken over our garden and made weeding a nightmare.

It didn’t matter that we didn’t consciously sow those thistles. Just the same, we have been dealing with the fallout of our careless choice. 

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The Propaganda Wars Of Social Media

By Jesse Jost

I love that we have social media platforms to share perspectives and be educated by different opinions. In the past, we only got our information from authorized sources. This ability to share information freely should be a safeguard against governments’ attempts to use propaganda to control us.

But on these platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s easy to post and share without deep reflection. Also the brain-exciting notification makes us addicted to the need for positive, self-affirming feedback.

I think these two aspects of social media are playing a role in how polarized our countries are becoming. When I’m trying to form an educated perspective on what’s happening and how I should respond, it drives me crazy sometimes that the issue in question is hijacked by becoming politicized.

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Thoughts on Weight Loss

By Jesse Jost

I’ve struggled most of my life with being overweight. So the subject of diet and weight loss is fascinating to me. Lately I’ve been on a research binge, devouring several books on the topic as well as running a two week experiment on myself by wearing a blood glucose monitor to see how different foods affected my blood sugar levels.

After processing all this information, I wanted to write up some basic conclusions that I have gleaned.

Weight gain is at root a basic issue of calories in exceeding calories out. Everyone knows this, right? Except for the fact that while that is true at a physics level, there are so many more additional psychological and biological factors that complicate the equation. Simple ideas about calories in and calories out are very unhelpful.

Calories In

Take the calories in portion of the equation. Some calories are far more satiating than others. 100 calories of broccoli will fill your stomach far more than 100 calories of Reese’s Cups.

There are calories that will incite a raging fire of cravings and desires that cause you to overeat.

And there are calories that will leave you feeling satisfied.

There are calories that will trigger fat storing hormones, and there are calories that will boost your metabolism.

Calories Out

Now let’s look at the calories out. It’s easy to think that our bodies are a basic machine right off a Ford assembly line that come with preset daily caloric needs.

 We think that some bodies need 3,000 calories to maintain weight, and other bodies need 2,000.

With this understanding, it seems like weight loss should be an equation of eating less and moving more.

 Some weight loss books tell us that if we can just cut back 100 calories a day, that will translate to 10 pounds lost in one year. Conversely, adding 100 calories a day (1 banana or a slice of bread) will lead to 10 pounds gained.

What this completely misses is that our bodies have powerful regulating systems.

For instance, our body temperature will stay in a narrow range because, when we are in the cold, it will raise our temperature and when we are in the heat, it has cooling systems.

In the same way, our bodies have developed a set point of weight. While many of the factors contributing to this are still unknown, our bodies seemingly do have a set point of weight.

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Never Trust Your Angry Thoughts

By Jesse Jost

Anger is a very motivating emotion. If you want people involved in a cause, getting them angry enough to step up and make a difference seems like the only way to see results.

Christians believe in a God who displays his wrath in spectacular fashion. The sinless Son of God vented outbursts of anger on the corrupt and hypocritical. So surely “righteous” anger should be a powerful force for positive change in a believer’s life, right?

You’d think so if you never opened up the New Testament. But James warns in James 1:19-20, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

That verse should rein us in before we embrace anger as an unmitigated force for good. “The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” In Ephesians, Paul warns that we need to be careful not to sin in our anger, or “let the sun go down” on our wrath, because it could “give place to the devil.” (Eph 4)

How can we discern between righteous anger and the sinful “wrath of man”?

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You are what you sow

By Jesse Jost

Our brain is always looking to form habits in an attempt to put activities into the daily auto-pilot playlist. It does this so that it can focus our limited conscious awareness on essential tasks. The brain’s criteria for what should become a habit is pretty indiscriminate and devoid of moral judgement.

Many destructive things become habits in our life pretty quickly. These habits form without our permission and under our conscious radar, because the start of a new habit is often so small it seems inconsequential. 

But we need to be aware that habits snowball and gain in their controlling power and influence. We need to be watchful and observant of our little habits in life and ask if this habit is taking us to a place we want to be. Is this habit making me the person I want to be?

Whatever we sow in our little choices and habits is what we will reap. Time will take our insignificant habits and make them significant! If we have good habits, time will compound them in rewarding ways. If we have habits that are contrary to our aspirations, they will, over time, become devastating.

Every choice you make, every thought you allow, and every bite you eat, has the potential to silently grow into a habit.

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  • Rebekah F

    Wow, thank you for those timely words! They were just what I needed to hear, and a great encouragement!! Thank you for the reminder!

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A No Shame, Fail-Proof way to Memorize Scripture

By Jesse Jost

In the last year and a half, my soul has been so refreshed by taking up the habit of scripture memory again. The Word has been so comforting and invigorating. If there was one spiritual habit I could convince other believers to take on, it would be the memorization and meditation of the Word.

Unfortunately, in most cases, all my nagging and pleading with other believers has resulted in very few verses memorized. I’m not judging them. In conversation with these people, motivation is not the problem! They WANT to memorize. It’s just so hard to change our habits, especially with memorizing, which seems so difficult at first, and is also a habit that will cause you to face spiritual opposition.

I have been so encouraged lately by studying behaviour change, and the power of tiny habits to produce long-term change. I realize that I have been going about motivating people the wrong way. I have been challenging them to make too big of a change at once by giving them the goal of a whole book of the New Testament, or asking them to do a verse a day.

The problem is that these goals seem insurmountable at first and make people feel like this is too difficult. It makes them feel like a failure. We hate the sense of failure, so we quit or neglect the activities that make us feel bad.

A tiny habit is one that starts so small, we can’t fail to do it. And as we consistently do this small change, we start to believe that change is possible. We feel good; we feel hope.

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Four Ways to Fight For Your Freedom During Covid-19

By Jesse Jost

Six months ago, few of us would have believed the reports coming from the future. We seemingly have entered a police state overnight. We have lost the freedom to travel and assemble. We face fines for simple activities. There is talk of increased military presence in our towns to enforce lockdown. And some communities have set up hot lines where we can report our neighbour’s violations.  We’re also hearing about tracking devices and mandatory health checks.

For the most part we have accepted these shocking conditions willingly because we understand we are in a pandemic, and sacrifices must be made to protect the vulnerable.

However, I am hearing more and more rumblings from some quarters that we have relinquished our freedoms too easily, that human rights surrendered to the government in times of crisis are not willingly handed back when the crisis is over.

It’s haunting to read what life was like under communist or fascist dictatorships.  I’ve wondered how long we in North America could hang on to our freedom and whether we might end up in a state like Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia.

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  • Dale Jost

    Encouraging and practical applications to our present conditions!

  • Rachel Jamieson

    Thanks Jesse. I appreciate your thoughts. Do you think there is a place for civil disobedience when the government takes away one’s abilty to provide for one’s family? Does it have to be motivated by the Gospel? We are reading Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson” as a family, written right after WW2. You think the economy will bounce back, but most of us weren’t creating goods and services to spend. In short, Hazlitt says, “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” p. 17
    Thanks for the reminder to keep trusting God through it all.

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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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My Ten Top Reads of 2019

By Jesse Jost

I completed reading 53 books in 2019. Here are my top ten with comments on each one and the ten that just missed the cut.

  1. Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope

by Matthew McCullough

Lots of fresh insight in a often neglected area. I really felt like I benefited from this book spiritually, and was given lots to chew on.

  1. Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything

by Randi Hutter Epstein

This books is a great introduction to how our many hormones work and what they control, and also a fascinating history of how our understanding of hormones has developed through some truly terrifying human experiments.

  1. A Hunger for God

by John Piper

I rediscovered fasting the last couple years for health reasons, Piper makes a powerful case for the spiritual benefits of fasting.

Excellent resource and inspiration on the reasons a believer should fast and the pitfalls to avoid.

  1. You Can Have an Amazing Memory: Learn Life-Changing Techniques and Tips from the Memory Maestro

by Dominic O’Brien

One of a few helpful mnemonics books I read last year that helped reignite my passion for scripture memory and enabled me to memorize over 65 chapters of the New Testament this year. Continue reading…

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Joshua Harris and the Danger of Falling Away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Picture taken from Joshua Harris’ Instagram post)

By Jesse Jost

Last month I was shocked to hear that Joshua Harris and his wife were divorcing, but even more surprised to hear later that Joshua is leaving Christianity. He said, “By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. “ He also said, “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’”

Harris is a man I used to admire. Through his talks and writing, he had been such an encouraging mentor to me. It’s a gut kick to hear that he has walked away from Jesus.

There’s been lots of speculation about why this happened: was he never really a believer? Is he a closet homosexual? Was he only a legalistic Christian who never understood that Christianity is supposed to be a relationship with a person and not a set of fear based rules?

I read and benefited from Joshua’s earlier books, “I kissed Dating Goodbye,” “Boy Meets Girl,” and “Sex Is Not the Problem, Lust Is.” After I read his deconversion announcement, I picked up a book he wrote nine years ago: “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters.” Continue reading…

  • Dale Jost

    Great thoughts Jesse. …”.Prone to wander…prone to leave the God I love, Here’s my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above!” ….so yes. Lord Jesus , be Thou my vision. Keep my attention on You!” The Author and Finisher of my Faith.

  • Jill

    Thanks Jesse, for taking a few precious moments of your time to reflect on the disturbing declaration that Joshua Harris has made, regarding his departure from his faith and his relationship with Christ, that he once held dear. We truly are each just as vulnerable to falling away, as you so aptly stated, apart from staying focused on God’s goodness in our lives, despite the setbacks and disappointments we each encounter. It is so easy to become distracted from our relationship with Christ in this day and age, with so many enticing opportunities before us. We need to ever be willing to forgo things and people who will unwittingly suck our time and energy from us, to the point we have none left to focus on Christ, our true source of life. It is humbling indeed to acknowledge that we can be so fickle and easily swayed away from Jesus, who gave His very life for us. My hope and prayer for Joshua, is that the unrelenting love of God will overcome him, even in the midst of his confusion and deception. Our enemy Satan loves to target leaders, as a strategy to dislodge many vulnerable followers. May the grace and comfort of Christ surround all those who looked up to Joshua over the years, as a Christian author and church leader. Thanks again Jesse, for highlighting how we each have a personal responsibility to protect ourselves from intrusive distractions, that can leave us devoid of the time and energy that we need, to stay focussed on Christ, our true source of life.

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