“A Time for Dignity” on The Eric Metaxas Show

Mel Lawrenz and Eric Metaxas discuss the critical need for us to seek a restoration of dignity in all aspects of life. (audio)

Recently Mel Lawrenz was with Eric Metaxas at the Salem recording studio in the Empire State Building for a discussion about the critical need for us to restore dignity in all aspects of life as described in A Time for Dignity: Crisis and Gospel Today. (Eric Metaxas is the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, a New York Times best-seller, and other books. Access all podcasts of Eric’s daily radio program here.)

Hit the RED PLAY BUTTON below. The interview proper begins 10 and a half minutes in.

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The Seduction of Comfort

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Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said. Acts 14:21-22

In a recent sermon, Pope Francis lashed out at the “culture of comfort” that convinces people that they can have a more carefree life if they forgo having children. In an article entitled “The Dangerous Culture of Comfort,” writer Francisco Dao asserts that the culture of comfort has taken its toll on American initiative and explains why Americans no longer develop technology or start companies at a similar ratio to those foreign-born living in the United States. Comfort, he concludes, is the enemy of ambition.

Suffering and Proclaiming

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Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me…. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9, 14

Traian Dorz, a 20th century Romanian poet and Christian, spent over 16 years of his life in prison under the communist regime. As the spiritual leader of a renewal movement in the Romanian Orthodox Church, Dorz was severely persecuted for his missionary activities and writings.

Rocks

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And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:18-19

The village of Lalibela in northern Ethiopia has some of the most unique church structures in the world. Commissioned by the 12th century Ethiopian King Lalibela, the 11 churches, which lie beneath the surface of the ground, were carved out of the solid rock of the land. Services still take place daily. Over 80,000 people visit the place every year.

As extraordinary as these edifices are, their significance pales in comparison to Jesus’ words to Simon Peter—as he combined the imagery of solid rock with the promise that he would build his church.

Sold Out

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The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13:44-46

In February 2013, while walking their dog on their land in California, John and Mary saw an old, rusted can sticking out of the ground. John pried the heavy can loose and managed to carry it back to their house, where they discovered that it was filled with gold coins.

The Power of a Seed

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The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32

One major seed company’s most popular tomato seed is called the “Big Boy.” This hybrid tomato is a plant that can not only grow to five feet tall, but also yield tomatoes that can be one pound or more. Yet the seed from which the “Big Boy” plants come is tiny. Its almost imperceptible seed has the potential to explode into fruitfulness.

Jesus spoke about tiny seeds and big things.In his parable of the mustard seed,

Soul Soil

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But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:23

In gardening and farming, soil cultivation is an intentional practice designed to improve the condition of the soil. Similarly, cultivating the soil of the soul is an important dimension of Christian experience.

In the parable of the sower,

Ready for Mystery?

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The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables. Mark 4:11

The realm of the mysterious can both fascinate and frustrate people. Depending on your disposition or personality, mysteries can either represent challenges to overcome, or grace and wonder to be pondered. Albert Einstein, though a professed agnostic, once wrote: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He… who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.”

The first followers of Jesus were puzzled by his parables and told him so. Jesus responded by referring to the secret of the kingdom of God. The word translated “secret,” musterion, means mystery. In ancient times mystery referred to hidden things,

Want to Understand the Bible Better?

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Do you wish you understood the Bible better?

Maybe you’re new to the Bible, unsure how and where to start getting to know God’s Word. Or perhaps you’re a long-time Bible reader with the sense that your Bible reading should be more engaging and spiritually rewarding.

Next month The Brook Network partners with Bible Gateway for a free weekly series of simple, practical lessons that walk you through the incredibly rewarding experience of reading and understanding God’s Word. It’s called How to Understand the Bible: Guidance for Ordinary Bible Readers. 

To receive the weekly lessons via email, you must sign up at the Bible Gateway site.

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Your Kingdom Come

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Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10

Reading the morning newspaper can be hazardous to your health. Consider these recent stories from one day: Cyberbulling law being considered. Taliban prisoner exchange fuels debate. France sells Russian warship amidst U.S. protest. Martial law considered for Eastern Ukraine. Attack on Yemen checkpoint kills 14. Manhunt as police shot in Canada. Charges detail chilling plot to kill 12-year-old classmate.

No wonder Jesus taught us to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

The Scriptures speak of heaven as the dwelling place of God,

Healing and Faded Bumper Stickers

HarvestfestGraphics_2Go! . . . Heal the sick who are there and tell them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” Luke 10:3a, 9

While waiting for a stoplight on his way to the hospital to pray for a sick member of his church, Pastor Mark noticed a van in front of him with a faded bumper sticker. The words were barely readable, but as he squinted, the words came into focus: trust in jesus. The fact that the words were faded struck Mark as ironic, as he often wondered why prayers for healing often seem unanswered. Indeed, when it comes to many of our prayers for healing, our level of trust is about as apparent as that faded bumper sticker Pastor Mark encountered on the way to the hospital.

Words and Deeds That Restore

HarvestfestGraphics_2Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. Matthew 4:22-23

Twenty million emails were written in the time it took to read this sentence. That’s a lot of words. We live in a world where information and words can invade and clutter our lives through tweets, text messages, Facebook posts, emails, and countless other media.

Jesus’ days were much less cluttered with words. Yet he had something to say.

An Enduring Kingdom

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Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145:13

American General George C. Patton once said: “For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph—a tumultuous parade…. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.”

Awe and Living Well

HarvestfestGraphics_2The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight…. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Proverbs 1:1-2; 9:10a

A study done in 2012 by researchers at Stanford University examined the feeling of awe and its effect on people’s experience of life. They found that awe enhances a person’s sense of well-being. They also found that people are willing to volunteer their time to help others, tend to focus less on material things, and experience greater life satisfaction. The findings of this study are not surprising. We know from everyday life that experiences of awe and amazement can inspire us to do or try things we thought to be beyond ourselves. Awe can bring great perspective or clarity, and can both humble and inspire us.

Be Careful What You Wish For

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But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”  1 Samuel 8:6-7

“Be careful what you wish for… you might just get it.” For over 100 years variations of that quip have appeared in books, music, and popular culture. The idea is that we should know that there are often unintended, unpleasant consequences on the other side of our desires. We do not always know what is best for us.