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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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The Graphic Details of My 7 Day Fast

by Jesse Jost

I recently completed a 7 day fast (was going to be a 14 day) for health reasons. The list of proven health benefits of extended fasting are impressive: Weight loss, autophagy (the consumption of dead cells which can prevent many diseases), lowering bad cholesterol, and lowering triglycerides, (so very beneficial for heart health) decreasing insulin resistance, preventing type 2 diabetes, and destroying cancer cells.

Unfortunately despite its multiple health benefits (not to mention spiritual benefits), fasting is not often given a chance because of so many persistent myths about how it devours muscle and lowers the metabolism, both of which are not true.  For more info on the amazing benefits of fasting and tips to make your fast more manageable, see:

The Complete Guide to Fasting: Heal Your Body Through Intermittent, Alternate-Day, and Extended by Jason Fung.

Here’s what I experienced on my latest fast:

Jesse’s Fasting Log

Day 1

9:30AM

I finish a big low carb breakfast of keto muffins and egg casserole and a little cantaloupe. This is my last meal before I attempt to set out on a 14 day fast! Don’t worry, I’ll quit before I die.

Breakfast was so good. I’m a little sad. I’ll miss eating. I’ve been eating as low carb as possible for the last three days to not shock my system. The fast I’m doing allows coffee, tea, and homemade bone broth. I’m excited to see what happens. I may be a little more irritable than normal so show me grace!

Continue reading…

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My 10 Favourite Books of 2018

by Jesse Jost

I didn’t reach my goal of 65 books finished this year, mostly because I got engrossed in some mammoth tomes on Russian history, and some other large volumes that I haven’t finished yet. But I did make it though 46 books. Here are my ten favourite reads with commentary. Below you will find the 10 that just missed making the top 10. It was a tough choice and anyone of these could have easily been included. They were all really good and highly recommended. Below that you will find the rest of the list. Feel free to look me up on goodreads to see my ratings and reviews of all of these books. What was your favourite read?

#10 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

by Jordan B. Peterson,
Very thoughtful and insightful book. Each chapter gave me something to mull over and challenge me in some way. The writing style won’t be to everyone’s liking but, the ideas explored are more than worth the effort!

#9 The Spirit of the Disciplines : Understanding How God Changes Lives

by Dallas Willard

I found this book so thought provoking and challenging. Really made me ponder why there is so little real life change in the church, why so little spiritual formation. A great introduction to the need for spiritual disciplines in the life of the disciple and how they work. There is a difference between trying and training. If you try to run a marathon, you will fail unless you first train. You will not succeed in in “trying” to respond in a Christ-like way, unless you, through the spiritual disciplines “train” to be daily abiding in Christ. Much to think about, and to apply. I think it is time to take the spiritual disciplines more seriously then I have in the past Continue reading…

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2018 Christmas Letter: A Letter to Me

Dear Jesse, snuggling with your beautiful wife on the couch in the last hours of 2017:

Hello from future Jesse, writing at the tail end of 2018. Once you’re over the shock of hearing from me, I’ll bet you have lots of questions. I’m sorry I can’t tell you everything, but I can reassure you that everyone in your immediate and extended family is still alive. Enjoy your dog Tirzah every chance you get, though. You’ll have to deal with an unexpected goodbye later this year.

Yes, you still only have five kids; Heidi isn’t expecting yet, but we’re working on that.

I’m sorry to report that even though right now you are so excited about your new diet principles, and expect to be a lean athletic individual by year’s end, you’re not. In fact, you’ve gained 5 pounds. Oh well, maybe next year’s Jesse will finally bring happy news in that department. We can always dream….

I can report that you have an incredible year waiting for you and I’m so excited for you to enjoy it! After the painful and difficult 2017 you had with medical anxieties and dealing with Type 1 diabetes diagnosis, 2018 will be refreshingly smooth and free from tragedy. Sure, you will face diabetes scares and end up in the emergency room once because of a stomach bug that Elijah will get. And even though you’ll fall asleep many nights worried about whether Elijah will make it through the night, I can assure you, he will wake up with energy and love for life every morning, so sleep well. Continue reading…

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The most helpful Type 1 diabetes care tips we’ve learned so far

By Jesse Jost

Our world was turned upside down last August when our 5 year old son Elijah almost died from undiagnosed Type 1 Diabetes. Diabetes care involves a huge learning curve. At first the emotions are so overwhelming it’s hard to focus on even the basics. But gradually you can think again and try to sort through the mountain of information. This is a list of tips and info that has really been helpful to us in this first part of the journey. We’re only 11 months in so I’m not sharing this because I think we’re experts – diabetes does a good job of making sure that never happens! I only share because our experience might be useful to someone else.

Of course, diabetes is different for everyone, so trust the advice of your endocrinologist.

The Law of Small Numbers

With diabetes you constantly walk between two dangers: the life-threatening low, and the miserably dangerous high. You have one factor that plummets your blood glucose (BG) – Insulin. And one that rockets your BG : Carbs. The goal is keeping them in balance.

The challenge is all the guesswork: Not always knowing how many carbs are in the food, what the body’s current insulin ratio is, how much the carbs will be burned off by exercise or blocked due to illness.

With so many error factors that multiply exponentially as you increase the carbs or dose of insulin, it makes sense to us to try to keep the carbs and insulin numbers as low as possible. The greater the error in calculation the greater the risk of a stubborn low, or a health-threatening high.

Whenever possible we try to keep carbs at minimum without sacrificing good flavour and eating enjoyment. Saying no to sugary treats is difficult sometimes (understatement alert! It tears your heart out to have to say no to your little guy!) But we try to remember that being high or having sugars drop like a rock would be even more unfair to Elijah. Stable BG is true quality of life.

Low carb is not the only way, however. Many families are wizards with insulin, and have figured out how to achieve stable sugars without a change in diet. Find what works for you. Continue reading…

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Guest Review of “Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices”

 

(A Note From Jesse Jost)

I recently read Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. This book is over 10 years old but has had a large impact in areas of the church, especially with those disgruntled with their church or those seeking more from their church.

The church as a whole is in need of revival (as it always is). Tradition often produces ideas and practices that become accepted and promoted without people stopping to consider if these ideas are supported in scripture. In the 1500s, the visible, institutional church had become so corrupted and the spiritual life was squelched by tradition and human ambition. Martin Luther and many other reformers took a bold stand for truth and left the institutional church, and, in many cases, gave their lives to pursue the rediscovery of church as they believed it was revealed in Scripture.

Five hundred years later the church has taken thousands of different forms, and any given Sunday you will encounter many different expressions of what Christians believe worship and fellowship should be. Many feel that the Protestant church has again strayed from the biblical ideal and has decayed into a spiritually dead institution, with church members merely going through lifeless rituals. Again, thousands are leaving the “institutional church” in search of something “organic” and uncluttered by tradition.

People are forming house churches, or even exploring more radical ideas of how Christ’s body should assemble. I was a part of a house church for eighteen years; the ideas Viola expresses in this book shaped many of our practices. I loved being a part of that group and was an avid apologist for doing church face-to-face in a circle, without paid clergy, bulletins, Sunday school, budgets, or elections.

In the last couple of years, we felt called to serve in a more traditional small town Evangelical Free church that has a paid pastor, beautiful building, Sunday school, budgets and annual meetings. We love our current church as well. Being actively involved in both styles of church has given us a front row seat to the strengths and weakness of both approaches.

I’m still on a journey and forming my own ideas about what Church should look like. I plan to write more, but for now I can say I appreciate many of the authors’ concerns about lack of spiritual life in many modern churches. There are serious problems in the church such as pastor burnout and passivity among members. But I’ve also seen, as many who have left the institutional church have found out, that getting rid of pastor, building, budgets, and bulletins, does not change the sin nature or the people problem.

A change of methods does not change the heart. There is no substitute for spiritual regeneration, humility, kindness, forgiveness, and abiding in the Vine and letting His Word change us. If our Christianity is real from Monday to Saturday, then Sunday can be enriching and Christ-exalting in many different forms, including one that has a paid pastor and building.

My long-time friend Jacob Denhollander (who is married to Rachael Denhollander, one of Times magazine’s 100 most influential people), heard I read this book recently and sent me the review he wrote a couple years ago. I enjoyed it so much and found it so insightful, not just for those who have read the book, but for the church conversation in general. He gave me permission to share it here. Fair warning: Jacob’s a PhD student, so you will find the writing far more intelligent than what you normally read on this blog. Enjoy!

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Pagan Christianity

A Book Review 

by Jacob Jonathan Denhollander

April 10, 2015

Barna, George, and Viola, Frank, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. Barna Books, 2008. 295 pp.

Introduction

One of the surprise Christian bestsellers in recent years is a book entitled, Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices. In this revised and expanded version, noted Christian pollster George Barna joins original author Frank Viola as co-author. The authors set out to examine how the practices of modern institutional Christianity developed and compare those practices against the example of first century Christian practices. This review will focus primarily on chapters 4 & 5, which deal with the place of the sermon and the role of the pastor, respectively. More than any others, these two chapters get to the heart of Viola and Barna’s objections to ‘institutional Christianity’. This more focused approach has been chosen because it will allow for a deeper examination of the claims and methodology used in those chapters, rather than lightly touching on the contents of each chapter. The contents of these two chapters will be summarized, and then evaluated. Both positive claims (What church should look like) and negative claims (What church should not look like) will be evaluated. In addition, the methodology of the authors will be briefly discussed. Continue reading…

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The Marvelous Life of the Modern Peasant vs King Louis XIV

By Jesse Jost

We are exposed to thousands of commercials and advertisements daily, each with the subtle and colourful message that we are missing something, that our life isn’t as good as it could be. These ads train us to focus on what we don’t have, and bemoan our lack, rather than live in awe of the wonders of our modern age.

We have so quickly forgotten what life was like for those who came before us. Take, for example, the life of one of the most powerful and wealthy men who lived during the last part of the 1600s: King Louis XIV. As the powerful ruler of the French empire, he had access to quality of life that peasants in his day could barely fathom. Yet, as a modern Canadian rural peasant, I have access to quality of life that would make Louis shake his head in wonder.

Louis could hire world class musicians to occasionally perform a concert, but I, with a few clicks, can bring crystal clear recordings of any type or genre, of the world’s greatest performers from the last seventy years into our house, car, or even on outdoor runs, and switch between songs effortlessly without waiting for musicians to travel or set up.

Louis could hire a drama troupe to perform plays, but I have access thousands of movies that would have dazzled Louis with the quality of musical score, cinematography, acting, and special effects, and I can watch them all in the security and comfort of my heated living room, without worrying about an assassin’s bullet.

The King of France could hire talented chefs who could prepare freshly butchered meats and rare delicacies, and because of his great wealth could occasionally enjoy fruits and vegetables that ordinary people had only heard about. I, on the other hand, can visit a supermarket and on my “below the poverty line” income can purchase any type of meat or fresh fruit year round, and stock up on well-preserved jams, breads, pastas, rice, and an unbelievable array of sauces, spices, and desserts. And I can prepare them on a well-regulated electric stove, and pull prepared meats anytime of the year from our freezer that I can thaw in a few minutes in a microwave, and store the left overs in our fridge that will keep them fresh for days. I have access to recipes and ingredients from all over the world with clear and simple instructions on how to prepare them with all of the conveniences of the modern kitchen. Continue reading…

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2017 Christmas Letter

(family photos by Hannah-Grace Jost)

By Heidi Jost

Dear people,

It is said that life is full of storms: If you aren’t in the midst of one, you have either just come through one or are headed into one. Mercifully – and frighteningly – we don’t know what clouds lie on our horizons. There are sea charts noting shorelines, shoals, ocean currents, and doldrums. But God offers us something infinitely better than a comprehensive print-out of our life’s hardships. He gives us Himself.

This angers some people, who would rather have explanations for their suffering or a tangible hand of God than be offered the invisible presence of Jesus to accompany them. The thing is: What do we really need more when breakers of pain and fear are washing over us? Clinical answers? Or Someone who has been to the depths of human suffering and promises to deliver better comfort than anyone else can give us?

The reality of our past year held the most terrifying storm we have ever been through, and our five year old Elijah’s life was at the centre of it.

Through the month of July, our middle child – big-eyed, slender Elijah – was increasingly whiny, thirsty, hungry, and unable to keep from wetting his bed at night. Something was off, but we couldn’t put our finger on what. He seemed to be thinner than ever – was he going through a growth spurt? Then after a full week of vacation Bible school at church, Elijah puked and showed flu-like symptoms. We were so frightened by how he had become skin and bones so rapidly, and on August 15, he woke listless, mumbling, and complaining of chest pain. Jesse hurried him to local ER. After multiple tests, consultation with Lethbridge doctors, and being intubated to pump excruciatingly painful built-up air from his stomach, Elijah was rushed by ambulance to Lethbridge. He was severely dehydrated; very constipated; blood sugar, ketones, and heart rate very high; liver stressed: the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). His tiny body was fighting to survive the shutting down of insulin-producing cells in his pancreas, cells we’d never heard of before, but were suddenly the reason our son was teetering between life and death. Elijah was now a Type 1 diabetic, the doctor told us. Unless a cure was found, he would have this autoimmune disease for the rest of his life. A nurse from the Lethbridge diabetic team came the next day to explain insulin injections, glucose readings, etc., and I couldn’t stop crying the whole time. It was so much to process. Continue reading…

  • Carolyn Anderson

    ❤️

  • Anne-Marie

    So loved your family newsletter Heidi!! You shared beautifully how God has shown Himself strong on your behalf with all the storms you have been through this past year. Praise God for the healing that has come, and for what He is doing through it all! Love you! Btw, the pictures are precious of your adorable family! Love cousin Anne-Marie

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The Heart of the Worship Wars

By Jesse Jost

We just visited a church while on family vacation, and as I walked into the darkened auditorium, I felt tears welling up in a rush of strong emotion. Was this the presence of the Holy Spirit or a physical reaction to the pulsating music? The gathering was a campus church broadcasting a service in which a visiting worship band led music.

I grew up with the belief that drums and back beats were sensual or even demonic. While I now believe all musical styles can be redeemed and proclaim the glory of Christ, my staid and proper past sometimes colors my experience of worship music.

At first I settled in at the service, marvelling at the wonder of God, letting the music focus my mind on His glory. But soon, I found myself critiquing a style I am not used to. Thoughts cloaked in an air of righteousness intruded: Those pants are too tight. That dancing borders on sensual. Are they really worshipping God or simply performing? Do they have to jump around so much?

I stopped, forced to consider: Are these thoughts from God or some other place? What effect is my “discernment” having on me? Chastened, I closed my eyes and focused on God again.

My experience stirred up plenty of age-old questions. How should worship be done? What is true worship? Does God like the music loud or quiet? These questions split church after church, and bring division and tension into relationships as people contend for the righteousness of their view.

“We need to sing more hymns; these modern worship songs are bland, shallow and repetitive.” “These acapella hymns sound terrible and are putting our young people to sleep.” “We need excellence in our music, and a sound system that truly honours God.” “How can I be expected to worship when that song leader is dressed like THAT?!” Continue reading…

  • Ken Jost

    Jesse that was a beautiful revilation of worship as I have often criticized a rocking form of praise in my spirit. You nailed it.

  • Sonya Jost Shatto

    I liked your article very much Jesse. I’ve been thinking many of the same thoughts recently. I miss the hymns and the real piano so much but if we had to switch to only hymns, I’d miss some of the choruses now too. It would be nice to have more of a mix but we really do have much to be thankful for.

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2016 Christmas Letter

fullsizerender-3Heidi here this year! (Can we all heave a big sigh of disappointment? I know, I’m not the one with the funnies coming out left and right. Hope you survive!)

Life through kids’ eyes is the best. When God walked the earth, He specifically welcomed children, and called us to have our eyes wide open, childlike, to seeing Him on the move around us and in us.

fullsizerender-4The other night, Sophia (7) stood by my bed and just started telling me the griefs weighing her heart down, and the ways she saw God more clearly through them. She misses our miscarried babies, Davey (2011) and Emmy (this summer), and Jesse’s grandma (2013). Emmy has been an especially difficult loss for her – for all of us! – because she was really hoping the baby would be her much-longed-for sister. But she said she has been learning to trust God more when she’s sad or afraid of loss. This conversation happened in a season when I have not been able to parent and disciple as much as I would like (morning sickness again), and God used it to show me that He is ultimately the One gently leading and guiding our children’s hearts. He is a good, good Father.

Most of the time, Sophia is a spunky ray of sunshine, busily experimenting with melodies on the piano and leading her little brothers in adventures, and these glimpses into her deeper thoughts aren’t common, so I treasure them. We are so enriched and comforted by her sympathetic heart. I’m 10 weeks pregnant now, in the thick of morning sickness, and Sophia says sweetly every day, “Aw, Mom, I hope you feel better really soon!”

img_6471Her brothers are no different. Elijah (4) often comes up and with those great big, soulful, long-lashed eyes, he says, “Can I do anything for you, Mom?” Sometimes he does, sometimes he forgets his good intentions and runs off in merry play. He is eager to do workbooks like the big kids, make jokes like the big kids, and stay up with the big kids, and yet when he gets time with just me and/or Jesse, he is beyond delighted and wants to know if the big kids can go away again so he can have another date with us. He’s such a sweet kid. And at devotion times when the others get scolded for being noisy, he chimes, “I want to know God better, Mom! I’m listening.” Hand him a halo, somebody.

img_6463John-Michael (9) is a champ. His brain never stops, which means his chores regularly take longer than I thought humanly possible, and his bath room visits (he’s going to hate me for this when he’s older) are record-breaking in length because he reads tomes in there. I know, you’re thinking, “ban the books!” Sometimes I do. And sometimes I let it go because I know how much a mind like his loves to eat up ideas. I’m married to a man whose mind works like that. An endless trail of activities, inventions, money-earning schemes, and learning opportunities follow J-M everywhere, some completed, some forgotten. Much of it is self-guided, and I don’t say this out of pride (“oh, look at my self-taught child!”). On the contrary, it’s because he tires me out. I’m thankful he loves to learn, and is passing on that passion to his siblings. And really, when his brain is directed to what’s at hand, he’s a very reliable boy. I lean hard on him, and see so much of his dad in him in the way that he looks out for his siblings, takes on responsibility at home, and wants God.

img_6451We’re in the middle of a cold snap (-20s C), and I’m beginning to wonder if I can order a hamster wheel sized for a toddler. Because I have a hilarious, exuberant 2 year old named Justin who hasn’t been out to play for over a week, and needs a safe outlet for his energy. Jumping off couch arms doesn’t count as safe in my books. Or running down the hall with his head back, Eric Liddell-style. It worked for Eric Liddell, but he had better coordination. The other day J-M was watching Justin getting all wild, tried to calm him down, and shouted, “Dad, you’d better get the van ready! Justin’s going to need the hospital soon.”

Justin’s face is as lively as his little body. His delivery of statements or “jokes” makes us all laugh, which makes him giggle and try again for the same reaction. He asks a lot of questions about the how’s and why’s of things, and offers much commentary on life as well, with sage nods of knowingness. There are many times I look at him and thank God for this kid who makes us want more kids.

Of course, I don’t have to look far for inspiration on the kid-making front… (whistle) Enter Jesse. What a dude. What a guy. What a real man! I tell him he’s my dream: tall, dark, and handsome, and he says ever so humbly, “Well, at least I know I’m one of those.” Continue reading…

  • Norma

    Enjoyed your letter so much–even though I don’t know you (yet)! Look forward to meeting you at Taber CWC in a couple of weeks!

  • Nancy Bowman

    Oh, Heidi! Bless you for your open-hearted, charitable honesty! May you just keep on growing in godliness, you lovely woman of God. Thanks for this letter. You have plenty of laughs to share!
    Love,
    Nancy.

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