Why Does Covenant Theology Matter?

HEATHER MOLENDYK|CONTRIBUTOR The air is thick with fear. Every time you step out of your house you see those worried glances flicking from face to face taking inventory of those wearing masks and those who do not. Social media is flooded with opinions and anecdotes regarding the decision to vaccinate or not. News coverage saturates our vision with death and violence and unrest. The world writhes under the pain of pollution, needless destruction, wanton waste, and never-ending selfishness. Comfort is the ultimate commodity, whereas life is easily disposable. There are no guarantees for tomorrow. The air is thick with fear. A broken beginning Adam crouches in the shadows. He unsuccessfully wills his frame to shrink smaller to avoid detection from the Holy God moving towards him in the garden. Adam’s heart pounds with the beat of trepidation while he hides in shame. Everything is wrong. “I heard the sound of you in the garden,” Adam admits to God, “and I was afraid” (Gen. 3:10). Adam has a right to be afraid. He has disobeyed and broken the one commandment the Lord God had given him: do not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. With the forbidden bite, comes a flood of consequences: shame, embarrassment, damaged relationships, hardships, and pain. The relationship with his creator is severed, and Adam is now destined to die. The air is thick with fear. Stepping into the destruction with the Covenant of Commencement Although Adam fully deserves to be dismissed and abandoned to his fate of judgement and death, God refuses to walk away. Instead, the Creator takes a step closer. Though this journey will cost the Creator His very son, God sets in motion a plan to hold onto the people He loves. God extends the promise of a Savior to destroy the snares of sin, fear, and death (Gen. 3:14-15). There is hope for God’s people in the Covenant of Commencement...

Why Does Covenant Theology Matter?2022-05-04T23:28:25+00:00

A Fear Unlike Any Other

CHRISTINA FOX|EDITOR When I was a child, there was a song titled “One of These Things is Not Like the Other.” It was sung as a kind of game to teach children to identify what makes things the same and what makes them different. Often there was a photo of three or four items and the child had to choose which one did not belong with the others. This is true with the word “fear” in the Bible. God’s word talks about three kinds of fear, but one of them is unlike the others. Fear in the Bible For those familiar with the Bible, it is common knowledge that “do not fear” is a frequent command found throughout Scripture. This command is often found in the context of divine revelation, such as when God’s people were called to fight a battle or when a prophet warned of pending punishment for sin. This command was intended to comfort God’s people and to encourage them to trust in him. One such example is when Moses led God’s people through the Red Sea: “And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever” (Exodus 14:13). When the Bible says, “do not fear,” the word fear refers to terror or panic. There are two types of this fear in Scripture. The first kind is often called “natural fear.” It’s the kind of fear that comes naturally to humans in a post-fall world. We live in a world where there are natural disasters, pandemics, losses, violence, political upheavals, and more. We all know what it’s like to approach a dangerous situation and our heart starts pounding and our adrenaline spikes. We quickly move ourselves to a place of safety. Natural fear gets us to run out of a burning building or find safe shelter in a thunderstorm. Natural fear is something even our Savior felt as he faced the cross that was to come (see Luke 22:39-46). The Bible also mentions another kind of fear and this is the kind of fear that rules over us. It governs our choices and directs our path...

A Fear Unlike Any Other2022-05-04T23:59:28+00:00

Turning from Fear to Faith

Have you ever said to someone “Just trust me?” We often say these words because we love the person and believe we have greater wisdom than they do in a particular situation. Likewise, our heavenly Father loves us so much that He wants us to trust Him. God Is Trustworthy God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness is rooted in His covenant. He has initiated a relationship with His people. This relationship does not depend upon our faithfulness but His, and it is secured by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. We see God’s trustworthiness as the history of salvation unfolds from Genesis through Revelation. In the entirety of the covenantal structure of Scripture, we learn that God is faithful to fulfill His promises. As Paul says, “For all the promises of God in [Christ] are Yes, and in Him Amen” (2 Cor. 1:20). Because God has been faithful to us and saved us, we can trust Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s Trust in the Face of Fear At the appointed time, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin named Mary. The angel told her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). Mary was very troubled by the angel’s saying. However, the angel instructed her not to fear because she had found favor with God. She would have a son, and this son was to be named Jesus. He would be great and called the Son of the Highest. He would reign forever in an eternal kingdom. Mary questioned how this could be. The angel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that by God’s power she would conceive. The child she would carry would be called the Son of God. Mary replied to the angel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (1:38). Mary’s story displays what it means to trust the Lord. First, when Mary had every reason to fear, she responded in faith. Think about the last time you were gripped with fear. Maybe the career path you had chosen wasn’t going as you had expected, and you feared the outcome. Perhaps you, or a loved one, received a diagnosis that was difficult to hear and that drastically changed your lifestyle. Maybe you were headed on vacation and feared for your family’s safety, especially your young children’s. Perhaps you were afraid about how the difficulties in your marriage were going to turn out...

Turning from Fear to Faith2022-05-05T00:07:12+00:00

God Sized Expectations

If someone asked you in 2015, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” would you have said, “In the middle of a pandemic?” More than likely, it never crossed your mind. Suffice it to say we are all not experiencing what we expected. Here is the big question #1, how do we deal with the gap between what we expect and what we experience? Sometimes it feels as wide and deep as the Grand Canyon. Big question #2 follows closely behind, what will fill the gap? Since we are all riding this fluid wave of uncertainty, the potential fillers are limitless. Here is my real-time confession of what has filled my gap since March. Fear Fear of getting sick. Fear of suffering. Fear of disappointing others in a cancel culture. Fear a scratch church plant named King’s Cross we sought to launch in March will not flourish. Fear of the unknown. In Latin anxiety means “to choke.” There are more than a few days when these fears feel like they are strangling me. But when I look across this insurmountable chasm, I ask my Father for faith to fill the gap. I know without it, it will be impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Disappointment I am a long-range planner by nature. Last year I traveled to locations all over North America working with Hinged teams to make our conference plans. I remember praying with teams, but I am not sure any of us quoted “if the Lord wills” (James 4:15). These past six months, I have led these teams through a disappointment discipleship course. It was the class we never wanted to attend. It is a gospel classroom where we ask God to transform us in the gap. The curriculum is designed by the Spirit to produce endurance, character, and hope (Romans 5:3-5)...

God Sized Expectations2022-05-05T00:20:02+00:00

Our Good Shepherd

The global pandemic of 2020 brought fear and uncertainty to our world. “Shelter in place” became our new normal. In the midst of this crisis, I saw someone post a picture of a black sheep in a nearby yard. As one of the Lord’s sheep, I’ve loved sheep for many years and have seen them on farms both here and in Great Britain. But I’ve but never seen any in my neighborhood. So, I prayed that the black sheep would come through the woods and into our yard. Ten days later, I looked out the window and saw the black sheep along with a white one! They continued to come in our yard every day. They were calming and beautiful to watch, a great diversion from the news of the virus. As these sheep wandered into our yard each day, I couldn’t help but think of the comparisons in Scripture between us and sheep— between shepherds and our Great Shepherd. Prone to Wander The sheep wandered through the woods between our house and other houses in our neighborhood. They were lost and could not find their way home. They needed their shepherd to rescue them. I memorized Isaiah 53:6 as a child. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” I was like the sheep in our yard who had gone astray until I trusted in Christ for my salvation at age eight. He became my shepherd who rescued me and gave me new life in Him....

Our Good Shepherd2022-05-05T00:27:50+00:00

An Invitation to Wrestle with Emotions

Are you feeling tired, worn down, anxious, depressed, or spiritually thirsty right now in the middle of our messy world? No matter what season of life you are currently in, the world-wide Covid pandemic has surely taken it's toll on your life. Maybe you're a college girl who had to take online classes this spring or who missed walking across the stage at graduation. Maybe you are a single working woman whose work was vastly affected by the shut-down. Or maybe you are a wife and mother feeling burned out from caring for your family in this chaotic time. Whether you have felt alone and isolated in this season because of lack of social interaction or have felt burned out from too much interaction with the people around you, or a combination of both, the Psalms in Scripture offer an authentic place for us to voice our cares, questions, and feelings. An Invitation to Wrestle with Emotions When it comes to our emotions, our tendency is to vacillate between several extremes. We can stuff our feelings, thinking it is more "spiritual" to just praise the Lord with a smile pasted on our face, trying to be "positive" and "grateful" with a spiritual logic of "God is good" because that is often easier than to admit that our hearts are breaking. Or on the other hand, we can let our feelings rule and dictate our lives rather than being anchored in the truth and lens of God's character. Yet the Psalms invite us to wrestle. They help us articulate what it is that we are feeling. They encourage us to lay our honest emotions at the Lord's feet and voice to the Lord all our questions, rather than simply slap a "truth band-aid" on them. They also invite us to learn what is true about God, our world, and our role in it. In the Psalms, truth and emotions intersect to weave a beautiful tapestry for our lives. Jesus Himself models this for us. How often in the Gospels do we see Him weeping over brokenness around Him? Jesus, who was the ultimate Healer! In John 11, we see Jesus weeping over the death of his friend Lazarus, just moments before He knew He was going to raise him from the dead. Why would He cry over something that He was about to reverse? Jesus empathized with suffering. Not only that, he grieved over the state of our fallen world, for he knew things were not as they should be. "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled...Jesus wept." (vv.33,35) The God of the Universe came close to our suffering as the God-Man, Jesus, tasted our sorrows and pain for the 32 years that he walked on earth. He understands feelings such as isolation, sorrow, natural fears, abandonment, for he felt them too...

An Invitation to Wrestle with Emotions2022-05-05T00:37:26+00:00

Even If: Hope in God’s Sovereignty

“Sometimes God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” Joni Eareckson-Tada Guilty confession: I sometimes live in a fake future; a future of my own projection where God is not present, sovereign, or good. Maybe you can relate?  We don’t say it exactly like that, but anytime we project thoughts, emotions, and turmoil into the future— where God hasn’t given us grace to live yet— we are imagining a fake future where He is not God. Living in the Future For me, because I have Multiple Sclerosis, living in this fake future can happen when my nervous system stops sending signals to lift my foot while on a hike, or when there’s a pandemic, or just on a normal Tuesday morning … The pervasive thoughts of this fake future can come in and steal my joy, robbing me of the beauty of the present moment anytime I stop preaching the gospel to my oh-so-prone-to-wander heart. Well, as it turns out, that fake future is a bad place to live. Not only is it gut-wrenching, but it is simply not true. It’s a bold lie that Satan, my flesh, and the world tempt me to live in.  Anytime those three are in cahoots together, say during a pandemic, my fake future is all the grimmer.  And if I live there, I will self-protect, self-preserve, and ultimately self-serve, forgetting about God and others in the present.  This pretend future becomes ridden with the stench of self — what Jesus came to rescue me from!  This future is an awful place where I am the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good and all-wise one. Except, since I’m not those things, it is a place of great fear— a place where God is not present...

Even If: Hope in God’s Sovereignty2022-05-05T00:51:03+00:00

God’s Promises for the Fearful {and we are all fearful}

In Seminary, my professor opened one of our counseling courses with this bold generalization: Everyone struggles with anxiety. “Everyone is anxious,” he explained, “Some of us just haven’t admitted it to ourselves yet.” I sat there vigorously taking notes, but determined to prove to him that he was wrong. Not everyone is anxious, that is far too broad of a claim. I could prove it to him, too, because I am not an anxious person. Sure, I struggle with anger, my words, jealousy, but I’m definitely not anxious. I don’t second guess myself in social settings. I don’t get a pit in my stomach with the thought of a confrontation. I don’t stay up at night worrying. I am not anxious! He then prompted us to reflect on times of fear in our life. I was flooded with memories. My first day at a new school. Camping on a mountain in the midst of an epic thunderstorm, crouching outside the tent to avoid getting struck by lightning. College applications, the possibility of rejection. The professor made the connection I had missed. Fear is anxiety. We are all anxious...

God’s Promises for the Fearful {and we are all fearful}2022-05-07T23:03:27+00:00
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