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2019 Christmas Letter

by Heidi Jost

December 23, 2019

Meeting you here, at year’s end, I have one word for both of us to grab hold of as we look backward over 2019 and forward into 2020: gratitude.

It’s a weapon, friends. Wield it against the dark forces of discontent and anxiety that are always attacking our minds! Being thankful isn’t a nicety. It’s a necessity if we want to be present in the moment and grow closer to Christ. Lack of gratitude draws us away from the Good Giver and deeper into ourselves. I speak from the trenches: it’s a daily fight to be thankful and focus on all I have been given rather than on all that I wish I had or on all that I fear might be taken from me. Continue reading…

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The Birth Story Of Thomas Paul Whitefield Jost

By Jesse Jost

On Nov. 1 at 5:02 PM our little Thomas drew his first breath of air, weighing in at 7lb 2 oz. His cry was brought a rush of relief and gratitude. His first 9 months inside the womb had been quite an adventure for all of us.

I have a tradition of writing up a detailed birth story for each of our kids, including details of what the emotional journey was like for Heidi and I. These are usually very detailed, over-emotional, and drawn-out so read at your own peril.

I first learned of Thomas’s existence one frigid (-20 C) March morning as I pulled down our driveway for my school bus run. I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw Heidi in her house coat and night gown running towards me. My heart stopped. Who died? I carefully backed the bus up to her, and she breathlessly told me I was a daddy again. Wow. I could barely stop smiling for the rest of my bus run. February had been exceptionally cold with constant snow, and we spent a lot of time snowed in, but it had paid off wonderfully….

Heidi had miscarried twice before and in each case the morning sickness was not as bad as it was with the healthy pregnancies, so nausea is one of the first things we look for. This time the nausea hit hard. Poor Heidi, grateful for the indicator of baby’s health, still had to stoically face the reality of months of feeling trapped in a nauseated body. Continue reading…

  • Ally

    Wow. Lovely and beautiful, I especially liked

    “and we spent a lot of time snowed in, but it had paid off wonderfully….”

    I notice you say, you prayed on your knees. Is this an expression you use? Or do you actually do that. I always feel led to, not sure why I hesitate.

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5 Truths to Help You Rejoice in The Lord Always

by Jesse Jost

Repeatedly we are commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.” Christians often treat happiness in two ways: The first is to try to look and be happy regardless of what you are going through or feeling on the inside. This can result in hypocrisy, suppressed emotions, and fake smiles. In reaction, other Christians focus more on being honest and transparent, and when they don’t feel like much is going right in their life, they feel no reason to fake happiness, but they also end up not feeling much happiness.

In the midst of these extremes we have God’s clear command to rejoice in Christ – Always. I don’t think it should take too much convincing that neither artificial smiles nor perpetual “honest” gloom take this command seriously.

What does it mean to “rejoice” in something?

I believe our emotions are an automatic response to the slice of reality that we have in our conscious awareness. Whatever we are focusing on will dictate our emotional response. I’ve let insignificant things make me depressed, like when my team coughs up a three-run lead after an error or blown call. I’m a healthy man, with an attractive wife, smart kids, no debt, cozy house in a free country, and I’m in a funk because an ump called a strike a ball before the three-run homer. I know it’s stupid, but I can’t shake the feeling because I’m obsessed with that tiny, maddening slice of life.

Continue reading…

  • Dale Jost

    Practical insights toward rejoicing in the LORD

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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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A More Painless Way to Memorize Scripture

student with books and the computer

By Jesse Jost

A red neck hillbilly went to the hardware store frustrated with how dull his handsaw was getting. The store clerk convinced him to try the brand new Husqvarna chain saw, saying it would revolutionize his ability to cut wood. The hillbilly brought it back a few days later and complained, “This thing can’t even cut what my old rusty hand saw could handle.”

The hardware clerk looked over the chain saw, primed it and pulled the starter cord. The engine roared to life. The hillbilly jumped back, startled, and shouted, “What’s that noise!?”

A chainsaw is a powerful tool when you know how to use it. Trying to use it like a handsaw with the engine off and cutting wood will be a terribly painful exercise in futility.

Our brain is a powerful memorizing tool that has incredible potential, but use the memorizing feature incorrectly and memorizing will be more painful than a trip to the dentist.

When the printing press first came out, philosophers worried that our memories would deteriorate now that external memories, books, were more readily available.

Before the printing press, a simple book cost one year’s wages because that is how long it would take for a scribe to write it out by hand. Scrolls were bulky and cumbersome, making it difficult to find certain sections.

With books so scarce and hard to access, people were forced to develop their memories. They knew how to harness the brain’s natural ability to memorize so that they could commit whole books to memory.

Today with smart phones in our pocket and Google, there is practically no need to memorize anything. People no longer even need to remember phone numbers or multiplication tables because it’s quicker to whip out the phone. Because of this, we have almost completely lost the art of how to memorize.

There is much information that is better stored in an accessible external memory, but I believe the case is different with the words of God. It is great that we can load up the YouVersion app and access any passage of scripture with a couple of clicks. But keeping scripture external to our minds and hearts changes our experience of the Word. It keeps it distant and minimizes its transforming effects on our hearts and minds.

Man Shall Not Live on Bread Alone

God designed His words to be digested and mediated on throughout the day. Jesus declared to Satan that God’s word is more important to us than even food itself, that we live by God’s every word. Today with supermarkets and new ways to keep food fresh, all varieties of meats, fruits, and vegetables are more accessible than ever before. But that doesn’t change the fact that you still need to eat and digest the food if you want to benefit from it. You must make the food a literal part of you if you want to grow from it. Continue reading…

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Tips for People Offering and Receiving Health Advice

By Heidi Jost

Knowledge is at our fingertips. This has infused us with a sense of confidence and understanding about health and disease that we actually may not have. I know well the adrenaline rush of online research that causes me to think I’ve found a cause or a cure for someone’s suffering.

While we have advanced greatly from the time when Greek and Roman “doctors” treated all sickness by the four bodily “humours” (fluids) theory, scientific medical understanding still has a long way to go.

It is humbling to say “I don’t know” in the face of suffering. Look at Job of the Bible, and his friends. They sat in silence with him for a week, but after that they couldn’t shut up, offering theory after wrong theory about why Job had experienced such devastating loss. They offered partial truths and diagnoses with a lot of dangerous, false views about God mixed in, and at the end, God told Job to offer sacrifices on their behalf so that He “would not deal with them according to their folly.” Note also that God did not tell Job the cause of or cure for his suffering.

To those who are seeking to help their suffering friend, here are some thoughts to keep in mind: Continue reading…

  • Rebecca

    Heidi, wow. SO good. So good. Thank you for that, in the midst of your lack of spare time and energy!! You and Jesse have graciously dealt with us in our ignorance, and so kindly agreed to educate us. THANK YOU.

    You’re my heroine, sister.

    To the road ahead …
    Rebecca

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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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9 Causes of Depression

By Jesse Jost

Johann Hari is someone who has struggled with extreme depression and was on antidepressants for 12 years. In his insightful book “Lost Connections,” he questions the common story peddled by many in the drug industry. For years he believed that depression was caused by a broken brain – a chemical imbalance – and the way to fix it was through pills that altered the brain chemistry. After years of pills that only caused a temporary upswing in mood, followed by years of nasty physical side effects, Johann wanted to take a closer look at the causes and remedies for depression. He found that depression has many causes other than simply biology. There are psychological and sociological causes as well. Rather than a mere imbalance in the brain, depression is mental and emotional pain that is a natural response to a broken world.

Here is my summary of the 9 causes of depression that Johann discovered.

  1. Disconnection from meaningful work

Some depression can be caused by work that makes people feel they have no control over their roles or position and that their opinions don’t matter. Other job factors that lead to depression include a perpetual sense that you are falling behind and the work keeps piling up no matter how hard you try. Also jobs that have a low reward to effort ratio make a person feel trapped, i.e. hard work that is unnoticed and under appreciated.

      2.Disconnection from other people

Loneliness, a sense that you are alone, that you are not part of a group that protects and values you, can play a large role in depression. The scary thing is that loneliness snowballs, and causes people to “shut down socially and be more suspicious…You become hypervigilant. You start to take offense where none was intended, and be afraid of strangers. You start to be afraid of the very thing you need most.” We all need to feel like we belong, that we have people who will listen and accept us, and that we play a valuable role in their lives as well.

  1. Disconnection from meaningful values

We are motivated by two categories of motivations. One is “extrinsic” motivation. We will do something we’d rather not do, so that we will get something that we do want. For example, we will take a job we hate so we have money to pay the bills, do a painful workout so we can have a better body, etc. The other type of motivation is “intrinsic” motivation. We do something just for the sheer pleasure of it, or the action matches our convictions so we want to do it regardless of attention or reward. Johann argues that the more your day is filled with time spent doing only the things that are extrinsically motivated, the more likely you’ll spiral into depression. Johann also believes that our culture places too much significance on wealth, status, and material goods, so that people feel the acquisition of these things is what will make them happy. But people end up living years of drudgery, doing the things they hate, trying to chase the hollow dream. Continue reading…

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