Every Captive Thought

The Beauty of the Incarnation

Chap Bettis

I don’t know about you but I cannot grasp that grace of the incarnation.

There’s not much more I can quote from the article without giving it away but, Chap goes from there to illustrate the beauty of the incarnation through the Hindu caste system.

Trust me, it’s well worth a read.

We Truly Have Lost Our Way

The Hill

A group of security and privacy tech advocates are pushing back against Apple’s recently announced plan to scan iPhones and iPads for images of child sexual abuse stored in the cloud, citing concerns around privacy and surveillance.

If a society is willing to argue against doing all can to protect children from abuse, we really are in trouble.

Praying in Jesus' Name

Timothy Paul Jones recently recounted his daughter’s battle with COVID-19 at The Gospel Coalition. It’s a wonderfully written piece about trusting God when things seem out of control and confusing. It’s about trusting God when we may want to control life ourselves. I recommend reading the entire thing, but one section struck me as clarifying an often confused (or abused) part of prayer.

And so, we prayed for Hannah’s healing, and such prayers are good and right. Many nights as Hannah lay in the hospital, I repeated the words that Jairus the synagogue leader spoke to Jesus: “My little daughter is dying. Please come and lay your hands on her” (Mark 5:23). But I also prayed these prayers “in Jesus’s name.” These words are not a mere tagline we add to upgrade our petitions to first class or to increase the likelihood that God will do exactly what we ask. To pray in the name of Jesus is to surrender our requests to a plan that’s greater than our own. When I pray “in Jesus’s name,” I am asking God to do whatever will point most clearly to the glory and majesty of Jesus, even if that answer brings suffering and pain.

I’ll admit, when I first read his emphasis on praying in Jesus’ name, it raised a caution flag in my mind. You see, in many circles, the idea of praying something “in Jesus’ name” is seen as a magic token that obligates God to do whatever we ask. Akin to casting out the Devil “in Jesus’ name,” these people seem to believe that the power comes from a simple statement, rather than the one to whom that statement points.

Thankfully, Jones further explains praying something in Jesus’ name, and it gets to the heart of why we are told to pray in Jesus’ name. It’s not a magic spell that makes God do what we ask, but a desire that our prayers would align with God’s will. It’s recognizing that we are bringing our requests to God and asking that He would work things according to His plan, not our desires.

So often, like Jones says, we can see praying in Jesus name as, “upgrading our petitions to first class or increasing the likelihood that God will do exactly what we ask.” Or, we can swing the other direction and tack it on at the end of a prayer as a habit, rather than actually petitioning to the Creator of the universe. We would all do well to consider the true reason for our praying in Jesus’ name, and recognize what we are asking for when we do so. We should take seriously what we are doing and know that we should always seek to align our will with God’s, rather than trying to hold an obligation over His head by saying the right words in our prayers. There, in seeking His will rather than our own, we will find the true and right answer to our prayers.

Comfort in Times of Struggle

A quote from my former pastor, John Swanson who passed into glory seven years ago.

My dear friends, God loves you and so he is constantly placing you in seemingly impossible situations. He is continually confronting you with your wickedness and your inability to change. He is confronting you with your powerlessness to provide for yourself and care for yourself so that you will discover that you need a Savior. Now he lifts up before your eyes this great Savior, Jesus Christ, who lived as a slave of men, who was despised, who was rejected but who is now raised from the dead and sits at God’s right hand waiting that final day. He offers himself to you as a Savior.

He can do for you what you cannot do for yourself. He can change your heart. He can deliver you from wrath. He can provide all you need to make it safely to heaven. Just as Pharaoh and his advisors could find no other man who was as wise and discerning as Joseph, upon whom the Spirit of God rests, so there is no other Savior than Jesus Christ. He is the only man whom God has appointed as your Savior. All other Saviors are false Saviors. TV will not deliver you from the wrath to come. Your investments will not deliver you from the wrath to come. Your own goodness will not deliver you. Allah will not deliver you. Sex will not deliver you. Good grades and a good job will be of no avail. New clothes, a new car, a new husband will not rescue you.

Your greatest problem is your sin. The greatest danger you face is the just anger of God against your sin. Your greatest need is a Savior from your sin. Christ alone is that Savior. Abandon all other hopes and flee to him. Give yourself to him and he will preserve your life when the wrath comes.