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The Spiritual Duty of Enjoyment

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-summer-time-image29181257By Jesse Jost

When I read about the persecuted church or people suffering because they’re deprived of basic needs, I look around at the crazy abundance and health that I enjoy. And I feel guilty. Why was I born into this era and this family? I could have been born in the stench-filled belly of a slave ship, or grown up in daily terror of tribal warfare. I wrestle with what my response should be to this unfair situation. It feels wrong to enjoy comforts and delights in such excess when there are billions living without.

One possible response to this – that honestly turns my stomach and makes me very uncomfortable – is the thought that I should sell all my possessions and give them to the poor (Matt 19:21). Should I sacrifice my every comfort attempting to alleviate as much misery as possible? This is certainly one path that God calls many to. But being a father and husband complicates the issue. First Timothy 5:8 warns that he “who does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (NIV). Yes, I could sell everything but I also have a duty to keep my kids and wife warm, fed, and clothed. There is also the question of education and the protection of their spiritual and emotional well-being. It appears unwise for me, in this stage of life, to uproot them and move them all to a red-light district. But then again the gospel is about risk, sacrifice, and loving Christ above your family.

These are thorny thoughts that I would rather block out of my mind. I feel reluctant to thank God for the gifts he has given because I’m not sure it is right for me to enjoy them. The larger issue, of course, is not “doing what I’m comfortable with,” but living life the way my Creator wants me to. How does He want me to respond to this material abundance? Continue reading…

  • The Spiritual Duty of Enjoyment| Purity and Truth ‹ Refrains of Grace

  • Shannon Strom

    Reading this is God’s way of speaking through you, reminding us to be joyful of what we are blessed with from him and our beautiful spouses, children, relatives and friendship he has blessed us with. We must praise Him and be Thankful for everything we do have, and to help others whenever we can, or to speak of God’s loving words, to those who do not know Him personally. God blessed us with our lives and saved us from all of our sin. He is amazing, and it is amazing to follow Him, praise Him and receive the unconditional love from Him. How lucky are we!!! I love your writing Jesse, every word touches me and I hope you will continue to pass on God’s word.

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Eschatology: A Fresh Look At Some Old Ideas

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-stack-antique-books-image27917410By Jesse Jost

For over a hundred and thirty years, the Evangelical church has been looking at prophecy through the interpretive lenses of Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennialism. The charts and memorable images of people vanishing, a one world government, rebuilt temple, The Anti-Christ, and the great tribulation are deeply imprinted in the evangelical mind. Many came to Christ because out of fear of being “left behind”. Every year prophecy books that see biblical fulfillment in recent world events top the best seller charts. Seemingly, there is no other way to look at prophecy. To many, the suggestion that some of these events may have been fulfilled in the past is tantamount to denying the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the inerrancy of Scripture. However, what happens when you remove your preconceptions about the eschatological time table and let Scripture speak for itself?

In this article I will briefly examine some alternate interpretations of what the Bible has to say about the Kingdom, the Last Days, the Great Tribulation, the Beast of Revelation, and the Rapture. Pretend you are looking at the Bible for the first time and you have no ideas about the end times. Take another look.

The Kingdom

Nebuchadnezzar, the great world ruler, had a terrible nightmare. When he awoke, he simply had to know what his dream meant. Only to Daniel did God reveal the great significance of this vision of the future. Nebuchadnezzar had seen a great statue with a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of bronze, and feet of iron and clay. A stone that was not cut with human hands struck the feet of the statute and destroyed it. The stone became a great mountain that grew until it filled the earth. Daniel explained that each part of the statue represented a world kingdom: Babylon, then Media-Persia, then the Greeks, and finally the feet of iron – the terrible Roman Empire. In the days of this Roman Empire, God would set up a kingdom which would never be destroyed and would eventually break in pieces all other kingdoms. (Dan.2)

Let’s fast forward to the days of the Romans. John the Baptist appears on the scene warning “The time is fulfilled. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Jesus taught many parables about this imminent Kingdom. He likened it to leaven which is put in dough and multiplies until the whole loaf is permeated and to a mustard seed which is so tiny yet grows big enough for a bird to rest on it. (Matt. 13) Many Jews were aware of Daniel’s prophecy and knew they were in the days of the “kingdom of the feet.” Mothers wondered if their boys would be the Messiah who would deliver Israel and set up the foretold kingdom. Young zealots, with self induced visions of grandeur, tried to fulfill the prophecy. Jesus, recognized as the Messiah, was expected to set up this Kingdom. But, hopes were dashed with His death. Where was the Kingdom? Continue reading…

  • RJ Dotten

    Thank you for exposing this position to many who haven’t considered this. I was surrounding by dispensationalist thought until I began listening to Hank Hanegraff and Gary Demar teach on the subject. It is very clear and very simple. Your family just played at our Church and I found your website through the Josties site.

  • Tim

    “All Christian language about the future is a set of signposts pointing into a mist.”
    ― N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

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The Emotional Treasures of Being In Christ

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-confused-man-young-desperate-sitting-floor-cross-symbol-next-to-him-image39727810By Jesse Jost

What robs you of joy?

The gap between what we expect and what life gives us can vary wildly. What we want does not usually match what we experience. We want to be liked and find approval; instead, we get criticised. We want credit and glory for our accomplishments, to be admired, but we’re ignored and our achievements go unnoticed. We want control, to tailor life to our specifications, but life always has other plans. We set goals for ourselves and expect a level of maturity and sanctification, only to be discouraged by an emotional revolution that takes us captive and prompts an embarrassing display of immaturity.

Sometimes, we feel content or even pleasantly surprised by how rich life is. But other times life’s disappointments suck us deep into the bog of despair and self-loathing.

Disappointment hurts. Having hopes raised only to be dashed creates more misery than if the hope had never been there.

What a strange world we find ourselves in! How can a world so full of marvels and pleasures be such a source of disappointment?

What creates our expectations for what life should give us?

Certainly we have cultural expectations that are conditioned by advertising and media. Our tendency to compare also creates expectations. You don’t feel short until you are in a room full of giants.

It is strange how our habit of comparing rarely makes us happy. Our world is full of disparities. Some people are living in total luxury, while others live in filth, torment, and struggle to even have their most basic needs met. Most of us are not in this bottom tier of misery, but rather than being grateful for this, we still want more.

Desire, longing, wishing, searching, tasting, but it is never enough.

We have a disappointment in what life gives us, but we are also disappointed in ourselves. We expect more from ourselves than we accomplish. We fight our limitations and resent them. Our helplessness to change our imperfections is discouraging. Our inability to break bad habits is depressing.

What created this gap between our expectations and the reality of life?  Continue reading…

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Does God Want You Broken?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-broken-orange-coffe-cup-coffee-black-bacground-image37176921By Jesse Jost

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who are broken and know it, and those who are broken and don’t yet know it. In the garden of Eden God made man with three areas of duty and purpose. First, God made us to love, worship, and obey Him. Second, we were to love and serve our fellow man. Finally, we were given a mandate to tend the garden (bring order out of chaos) and to create beauty that would glorify God.

Shattered Glass

The first humans failed in their primary purpose by rebelling and breaking that relationship with God. Like a stone that impacts a single point on a window but shatters the whole thing, so our break with a holy God brought brokenness to every sphere of life. Where we were to love and serve other people we now hate and abuse them. Where we were to tend and beautify this planet, we neglect and destroy it. Instead of works of art that reflect the beauty of God we create blasphemous pornography and lurid “slasher” films.

True, the brokenness of humanity is not total. God has still given us common grace and this world is not as bad as it could be. Man still creates stunning works of beauty, and we do find shining glimpses of sacrificial love among mankind. Continue reading…

  • Kathy Paquette

    Awesome article, thank you brother.

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An Open Attack On My Devious Enemy Pride

IMG_4444By Jesse Jost

I must confess some things about me that are pretty ugly. I crave admiration and recognition. I want to be liked and appreciated. Actually, I want to be worshiped. In short, I want what rightfully belongs to God. My illicit addictions to these things have brought me great sorrow and depression over the years. Only now am I just beginning to see these desires for what they really are. Pride: The great anti-God state of mind.

God put His glory on display by creating a world ablaze with beauty and He filled it with worshippers. It was an act of love. Worshipping God is the most thrilling and satisfying experience there is. But it all started to go wrong when one of God’s insanely magnificent creations, Archangel Lucifer, fell in love with his own splendour and began to crave worship for himself. He fell from heaven and his pride has led to him becoming the most destructive being in all creation.

Pride: What’s the big deal? Continue reading…

  • Kaylyn

    Thanks for sharing! This article really hit home. May God bless you for your transparency and earnest desire to live completely for Him.

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Without This You are Abiding in Death

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-love-declaration-image26594130By Jesse Jost

Love. We use the word a lot; we kind of have to if we want to be biblical. Love is at the heart of Christian teaching, and it is one of few words used to describe God’s essence. It is easy to curl the tongue to the teeth and then bring the lower lips to those same incisors to form the word “love”, but what does the word really mean?

It seems that when Satan hates a truth he tries to employ one of two strategies. First, he tries to prevent people from talking or thinking about it. Out of sight, out of mind. But if that doesn’t work his next strategy is to get people to talk about it a lot, but then subtly change the meaning of the words so that what is being said sounds like the truth, but is actually very different. I think this is what Satan has done with the word “love.” We hear it all the time. God loves you. Love one another. But what is true love? What do you think of when you hear the word love? More importantly, what does God mean by the word love? A quick look at the Bible will show how vital it is that we understand what love is supposed to be.

Love matters

When the Creator of the universe, the One who defines right and wrong, the One we will all stand before on judgement day, walked among us, He was asked what the most important commandment was. This is what he said: “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

The Apostle John goes so far as to say that if we do not love, we are not of God and we “abide in death.” (1 John 3:10,14) He adds that “everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7b-8) We like to evaluate our level of spirituality based on our knowledge of correct doctrine or how well we are abstaining from certain things that other worldly Christians are participating in. But God says the distinction that matters is this: do we love Him and love others?

According to these and many other verses, if we get love wrong, either by not loving or by misunderstanding what love really is, we have gotten our whole life wrong.  Continue reading…

  • Eleanor Bertin

    Jesse, this has prompted some real soul-searching in me. Thank you for your transparency and faithfulness in writing these reminders. I really liked this: “My goal is not to make you love me, but to make sure you know that I love you.”

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When “Seizing the Day” Falls Short


In the film “Dead Poet’s Society” Robin Williams plays John Keating, an English professor at a boys’ prep school. He starts the year by leading his class to the hall where the school’s early class members are enshrined. Keating tells them to look closely at the pictures, “They are not that different from you, are they? Same hair cuts, same hormones. Invincible, just like you feel…They believe they are destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope. Did they wait too long to make their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see, gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you…Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” It is a powerful scene. The psalmist gives us a similar message, “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Life is but a vapour. None of us knows which day will be our last. At the same time, none of us wants to waste our life. We want to know that what we did was “meaningful.” But what is the meaning of life? Which actions matter and which ones don’t?

The secret to life?

The meaning of life is a questioned often pondered by filmmakers. In City Slickers, Billy Crystal plays Mitch, a middle age man facing midlife angst. His buddies take him on a desert cattle drive, led by a leathery, tough-as-burnt-biscuits old cowboy named Curly who commands instant fear and respect. Crystal’s character cautiously develops a bond with Curly.

On a side trip to save a pregnant cow, Curly asks, “Do you know what the secret to life is?” He holds up one finger and says “This. One thing. Just one thing. You stick to this and the rest don’t mean (nothing.)”

Mitch replies, “But what is the one thing?”

Curly cryptically smiles, “That’s what you have to find out.” Unfortunately, Curly keels over, before disclosing any more information. Mitch later has an epiphany while rescuing a calf in a flash flood. He realizes that the “one thing” that gives life meaning is not some universal truth; it is what you decide it is. Mitch decides his ultimate meaning in life is his family.

Whose story is this? Continue reading…

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Why the Term Patriarchy Needs a Vacation

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-bandaged-bearded-sad-man-shrugs-his-hands-confusion-image41966882By Jesse Jost

God gave us the role of ambassadors of his heavenly kingdom to our earthly nations. We are to communicate His message of love and reconciliation in a way others will understand. When an ambassador travels to a foreign country, he must learn the native tongue. He can’t just speak his own language and feel like he has done his duty. He must also seek to understand the baggage that words or concepts may have accrued. 

The spirit of Christ-like love compels us to put the needs of those around us ahead of our own. I think the way this applies to communication is that when we speak, we don’t just focus on being articulate and polishing our words; our goal is to make sure the person we are speaking to accurately receives the message we are sending. We need to ask the other person to repeat what we said in their own choice of words to see if what they received matches up with what we meant.

Your backstory is showing

To achieve clear communication, we need to be sensitive to be people’s backstory – how their past shaped the way they feel about certain words. People often hear a term, and shut their brain off after assuming what you mean by it. We can’t merely attack or defend a term; we need to be aware of how our audience is using the term, because that is what they will hear you attacking or defending. For instance, I talk to people about avoiding sexualized dating, and occasionally call my alternative “courtship.” A person in my audience may have experienced “courtship” as fathers controlling adult children, and that you are worthless if you have dated or have had premarital sex. This is not at all what I meant when I said “courtship,” but that person’s past associations caused them to assume I was teaching those other things as well. We could get into a sharp debate about “courtship,” but until we take the time to listen to how we are each using the term, we will never reach an understanding.

Homeschool Abuse

In the homeschool community right now, many cases of abuse are coming to light. Abuse of authority, abuse of scripture, abuse of family roles, and even sexual abuse. These are terrible and it is our mission in advancing Christ’s kingdom to deal with these abuses and defend the oppressed. Continue reading…

  • Heather

    Thank you for saying this. Our definitions of words can really hinder us when we have a different understanding of the words being used.

  • Ben Bush Jr

    Part of the problem with “patriarchy” was the idea that the Puritans were wholly biblical in their worldview. That in itself should be a warning to us. This brand of Calvinism is nothing more than Catholicism lite.

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When Archie Bunker Met Patriarchy

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-angry-mature-man-holding-belt-posing-isolated-white-background-image31994314By Jesse Jost

There are some very bad fathers out there, and the world is hurting because of it! Daughters are being controlled or ignored. Wives are being abused or neglected. Sons are following in the footsteps of their arrogant, bigoted, narrow-minded fathers. And it is happening in a movement known as “Patriarchy.” It is also happening in the movements known as Feminism, Green Peace, Gay Pride, Liberalism, and any of the Civil Rights movements.

You don’t have to look very far to find a dad who has failed his family. Fathers were given the monumental responsibility of lovingly protecting and providing for their families. When the father is removed, or chooses to abandon these obligations, the family is left vulnerable and suffers greatly. Because fatherhood is vital to a healthy family, and thereby a healthy world, Satan hates fatherhood!

I want to warn you about some ways that Satan sabotages fathers, but I also want issue a challenge to support the men who are fighting for biblical fatherhood. Continue reading…

  • Ann

    I was so blessed to read this and find someone who is finally addressing what the real problem is – it is not the Bible or trying to do things God’s way, etc. It is always the heart; and it doesn’t matter if your are homeschooled or public schooled (and it happens out there!), sin is sin no matter where it happens. The world is full of it – look at sex-trafficking, drug abuse, people abuse, gossip in the office (or the church), etc – it goes on and on and on. The world is full of sin and pain and sorrow. Christian leaders outside the homeschool circle have fallen – Tom White of VOM fell. What a grief! It has nothing to do with homeschooling. It is also not helpful that we tend to blame many of our sinful attitudes on the food we eat, or our hormones or our birth order – sin is sin. We are predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ and we need to be abiding in Christ – He will change us as we do that. Col 3 says to have our thoughts on things above – not on things of the earth. As much as we are able, we ought to be keeping our thoughts on Him, studying Him, loving Him, following Him, etc. It may be true that our hormones are out of balance – perhaps because we don’t eat right or maybe it is because we are an angry person or anxious – these things affect our hormones (I realize there may be other causes). We need to repent and eat right. And we aren”t stuck with the hopelessness of our birth order – whatever it might be. He promises to always be there to help us – when we are tempted to be angry or if we are tired or whatever – we can call on Him in our time of need. We can ask for strength for the day. We can confess anger and ask Him to cleanse it away, etc. He is our help and our hope alone.

  • Garrison Thomas

    Very much appreciate your words of honesty, Jessie. We NEED this. I’m a firm believer in getting to the root. That concept can and needs to be applied to everything we look at. It amazes me how people, myself included more often than not, are willing to address the evidence of a deeper problem. Getting to the root is hard work; it’s like trying to dig up a tree. Leaders, especially men leaders, are DESPERATELY needed. I hope your blog can reach the rest of us in need of an awakening to let God utterly strip away our pride and selfishness and rely on Him for… well, everything. “Fierce dependence”. Two of my most favorite words. God bless your blog. I draw a lot of encouragement from your work.

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The Modesty Talk for Men

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-surprised-young-man-shocked-facial-expression-image15787159By Jesse Jost

I have held my tongue long enough. Of course, I hold my tongue like a toddler holds a 25 lb. barbell. As women shed their winter fur (coats) along with most of whatever else they used to wear, the modesty debate rises to the surface, trying to take the place of the discarded clothing. I read almost every modesty article, pro and anti, that shows up in my various news feeds. I believe quite strongly in the merits of modest dressing as I wrote here. However, while women have been scrutinized, harped on, measured, and discouraged, I see a serious problem that modesty culture has obviously not done enough to address.

Modesty is often held up as The Way to help men overcome their lust problem. The consequences of this idea are lethal: Guys feel helpless or justified in succumbing to the lustful glance whenever they see a girl who is “immodest” by their standard. Girls get discouraged and then angry when they feel like they are unfairly carrying the burden of men’s purity. Because they react to this bad reason for modesty, they often can’t see the more valid and godly reasons for modesty and throw clothing restraint to the wind.

I want to be clear upfront: modesty will not solve the problem of lust! I am ashamed that we Christian men have let this problem get so far. We need be more ruthless in attacking lust and take responsibility for our own thoughts and actions. It is ridiculous to blame the Christian girl in your circle for your lustful thoughts. If you lusted after her, she is not the problem. If she was completely covered up you could still find a way to lust, if not over her then over some other girl, and in our sexually charged culture, you wouldn’t have to look very far, in fact, perhaps no farther than your next thought. Continue reading…

  • A sister in Christ

    And just to clarify, sir, what your wife is doing aggravates me greatly. Not only because of how it affects you as her husband, but also because it greatly affects your children and may easily skew their ideas of marriage and family and ultimately God. That is the worst part. I am sick of seeing so many messed up families.

  • Still Learning

    Anonoymous, I’m glad you read the book 5 Love Languages. When I was still only dating my wife I overheard someone with an awesome marriage talking with a coworker about how he finds it redicuouls that people study english and math and history for over a decade of their life in school but when it comes to how to have a successful relationship with a spouse we will spend the rest of our lives with most people resign themselves to a few counseling sessions the months leading up to marriage if they are even willing to do that. I’ve taken it to heart and been blessed enough to have a mentor in my life that has had a long and successful marriage guide me in my perpetual growth in this area. If you have are still willing to study there are a few other books that have helped me a great deal. Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggeriches and His Needs Her Needs by Willard E. Harley have been incredibily insightful and definitely opened my eyes to a whole new way of communicating in ‘her’ language and vice versa. (I had to read and take action first and she because interested in where I learned to connect better so that she decided to read it herself.) A solid rule to live by in every aspect of life but seems to apply specifically here in this circumstance: Be the example. As men we may not be nearly as attractive as a women but we can’t be hypocrites. And don’t expect a 1 to 1 ratio in returns. Just as a basic leadership principle the bad example we show tends to get duplicated twice as much. The good example we live out only tends to be duplicated half as much. In other words put in twice as much effort as you wish your wife would put in. If you want to understand women better so that you can reach your wife better and engage in more emotional and heartfelt communication a fantastic book to read is Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge. A book that really lays out the role of the man better than any other I have read thus far is Maximized Manhood by Edwin Louis Cole. John and Lisa Bevere have also written some amazingly insightful and challenging books that have forced me to confront areas of my live I was dropping the ball and didn’t even realize it. They have a marriage devotional called the The Story of Marriage that engages both spouses. John wrote one that may help renew your spirit called The Bait of Satan.
    These are a few that I’ve found incredibly helpful and recommend as often as I can and I even have copies in my car of several of these so that I can loan them out when needed. The only other advice that I have is to find someone that has a great marriage and become a protege. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Cor.10:13) Also, Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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