Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Alcohol_Should-Christians-DrinkAmong Christians, few topics are as hotly contested and polarizing as the use of alcohol. Those who abstain (teetotalers) are usually very opposed to its use, and those who partake usually find the teetotalers as legalistic Pharisees. But in my observation of these two groups, each has a tendency to fall into extremes – unhelpful and unbiblical views – furthering the divide between the drinkers and the nondrinkers. So lets take a look at these two ditches one can fall into and see how we can avoid them. (more…)

antidepressants_1673710cI have written in the past on the topic of anxiety and depression and have touched on the use of medication. However, I want to discuss the issue a little further, giving my thoughts on what I believe is a proper Christian perspective of the use of anti-depressants. I hope to answer such questions as: Is anti-depressant use sinful? Does sound science support the “low-serotonin” hypothesis? What causes depression? When is medication ok? What are the spiritual dangers of medication? (more…)

matrixThis past Sunday, I taught a class on the topic of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. While this usually conjures up thoughts about the debate of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, the scope of this class was much larger. We discussed the nature of God’s sovereignty and how it is specifically expressed in the world. We assessed God’s sovereignty in creation, the affairs of men, and the salvation of individuals. Next we looked at the nature of human responsibility. What does it mean to have free will and moral accountability? Is our will truly free or is it constrained in some way by sin? Finally, we examined two of the most common objections raised against the teachings of these doctrines. Objection #1: People claim these doctrines are not helpful and will only cause an increase in sin. Objection #2: God’s sovereignty over human actions negates the free will and moral responsibility of human beings, making man a robot and God the author of evil.

Regardless of your stance on “the Calvinist debate,” I think you will find much to agree with in this class. I hope you find it helpful.

Jordan

prayer_0The idea of God’s sovereignty raises many questions for Christians. In fact, one of the central “in-house” debates among Southern Baptist is regarding the extent of God’s sovereignty in the salvation of man. I do not here want to wade into those waters and discuss the merits of both sides; however, I would like to show why I believe all Christians do in fact believe in God’s sovereignty over the world.

There are two specific ways in which Christians, despite their doctrinal proclamations, show their belief in the sovereignty of God. First, you pray for God to do things in your life. You pray that he will take action over some event, whether it be a situation in your life or the conversion of someone. Your prayer indicates that God can do something about your petition. Here the words of J.I. Packer: “The recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts. Every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from His hands.” If God does not have the power or authority to act, then why would you even pray? (more…)

Royalty's Throne. Ornate. On WhiteThe sovereignty of God is a doctrine central to the Christian faith. The hope of the Christian is primarily rooted in a God who has both the authority and the power to bring about his good and perfect will. C.D. Cole defines sovereignty as “the exercise of God’s supremacy. God is the one supreme and independent being. He is the only one in all the universe who has the right and the power to do absolutely as He pleases…The sovereignty of God means that He does as He pleases, always as He pleases. God is in control of all things and people, and is directing all things after His own will and to the praise of His own glory.” Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Likewise, Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”Although the sovereignty of God is not necessarily one of his attributes, it is however true on the basis of his other attributes, i.e. omnipotence, aseity, omniscience, etc. (more…)

prozac-depression-medication-200Today I was blessed to be able to lead a class at my church discussing the topic of anxiety and depression from a Christian worldview. If you have read my previous blog posts on these topics (found here: anxiety part 1, anxiety part 2, depression), then you will have a good idea of the nature of our discussion. Below you will find a link to the audio of the class.

I want to make a couple of comments regarding the content of the class. First, I mentioned that medication could be used to relieve some of the painful physical symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, I want to point out that pain and suffering is not always bad and our goal should not always be to get rid of pain. Pain is often a sign that something is wrong and fixing the root cause should be the primary goal – not relieving the symptoms. Additionally, we often grown in character through trails and suffering; however, our culture is very pain-averse. But character is forged in the fires suffering, so don’t always begrudge its place in your life.

Second, I want to reemphasize a comment made in the class. It was mentioned that the root of anxiety is misplaced identity. As Christians, we do not truly believe who we are in Christ and what our true purpose is in life. This can lead to anxiety about our perceived understanding of our circumstances – a perception that is false. Complete trust in God’s promises provide a sure foundation for maximal mental health in this life, despite the frailties of our brain.

Jordan

GideonToday is a very special day in the Tong household, as we celebrate our son Gideon’s 2nd birthday. What makes today more special than any other birthday? Well, unknown to us before delivery, Gideon’s body was not forming exactly right in the womb. He had a severe birth defect known as bladder exstrophy, a rare defect that affects 1 in 40,000 babies. His hips were rotated out slightly and therefore his pelvis did not properly close. This allowed his bladder to “pop through” and form on the outside of his body. Along with this condition come an epispadias, bowel issues, bladder problems, and possible neurological problems at the base of the spine. What began as a normal delivery turned into an emergency flight to Louisville and a conversation with a pediatric urologist who had only one failed exstrophy operation on his resume. (more…)

Exodus 20:5 “…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Many are thrown aback at the thought of God being a jealous God. This conjures up thoughts of the psycho boyfriend who seeks to control every move of his girlfriend’s life. Jealously in our culture is considered a vice – a lustful desire or excessive covetousness for what someone else has. Associating this description to God, the perfect being, seems insulting and demeaning to his character. If God is maximally great in all his attributes, it seems beneath him to be jealous in this fashion. Applying these notions of jealousy to God would be inappropriate; therefore his jealousy must be different. (more…)

528483-Depression-1364630455-842-640x480Depression is a crushing problem for many, plunging them into a despair and hurt few can understand. Robert Burton spoke of depression rightly when he said: “They are in great pain and horror of mind, distraction of soul, restlessness, full of continual fears, cares, torment, anxieties, they can neither drink, eat, nor sleep…”[1] Abraham Lincoln spoke of his depression similarly. “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me.”[2] So how in the world are you to help a person in this condition? What if you find yourself dealing with depression? What course of action should you take? Is there a Christian perspective on the topic? (more…)

??????????????????Doubts about your faith can be one of the most painful experiences for the Christian. When the waves of questions and uncertainties come crashing in, your emotions and faith can be violently tossed about. From some, doubts have led to unbelief and eventually full-blown apostasy. However, for others, doubts have drawn them closer to God and ultimately strengthened their faith. As a Christian, you obviously want the latter, but how can you ensure that your doubt will draw you into a deeper faith? How can you guard your soul against the damnable sin of apostasy? In order to do this, there are many questions you need to answer. What is doubt? Is it sin? What is causing my doubt? What type of doubt am I dealing with: emotional, factual, or volitional? Is doubt good or bad? How do I talk with others about these embarrassing issues I am facing? Does doubt mean that I am not a Christian? (more…)