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“May we be enabled to say ‘No’ to sin and ‘Yes’ to the sinner.” 

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Photo of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Resound Thought Space

Born: 4th February 1906

Died: 9th April 1945

The life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a remarkable one and serves as a perfect example of how our experiences can shape our view of God and other people. Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian and a member of the resistance against the Nazi regime. His father was a psychiatrist, his mother a teacher and his mother’s father a protestant theologian, meaning that he would have been surrounded by academic thought and discussions from a young age.

Bonhoeffer completed his Staatsexamen, the equivalent of both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, at the Protestant Faculty of Theology of the University of Tübingen. He went on to complete his Doctorate in Theology in 1927. After a time studying in New York, where Bonhoeffer encountered the idea of a gospel of social justice, he returned to Germany in 1931, becoming a lecturer…

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Shortly before his death on June 7, 2019, David Powlison completed writing his final book, which has just been published by New Growth Press: Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles.

Here are among his final written words.


Six months ago, I was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. As I write, I am facing the real possibility of my own death. By God’s grace I have been able to continue working, yet much of my work is bittersweet. I am handing off responsibilities and jobs to others. I am involved in making plans for the future that I am not likely to be a part of here on earth. Our family continues to grow with grandchildren. I wonder if I will be here to meet my next grandchild. Those I love are also in the midst of this battle with me—my wife, children, grandchildren, extended family, friends, friends at work. We are all confronted with the evil of death and illness. In the midst of this battle, the weapons Christ gives sustain and equip us to battle against the last enemy—death itself. . . .

Today I am called to fight this final battle with Jesus as my armor and his Spirit as my strength. . . . The world tells us that medicine is our only hope. We don’t want to get fixated on finding a cure. We want to be wise. So we pray. We armor ourselves with the truth that the Lord is near and will be our good Shepherd. We take up the sword of the Spirit and remember Jesus’s words that “sufficient for the day is its own trouble” and ask for help one day at a time (Matt. 6:34).

The temptation to slide off into various escapes is also present—television, sports, food.

My escapism takes an unusual turn: I am burying my nose in a long biography of Joseph Stalin. Nothing really wrong with reading! But the temptation to not engage is present. Yet I hear the voice of my good Shepherd. I remember Jesus on the cross, facing death, yet still fully engaged with life—caring for his mother, speaking words of life to the thief next to him—and I can stay engaged too. I can pray with and for my wife, Nan; my family; my friends; those I work with. I can trust their care to the great Shepherd of the sheep.

The temptation to listen to the lies of Satan is certainly still present.

I have devoted my life to helping people know how central and relevant Christ and his Word is to the real things they struggle with personally, interpersonally, and situationally. But I also know how many other voices are clamoring for people’s attention. Voices that shout, “We can explain your anxiety,” “We can solve your depression,” and “We can give you three tips that will improve your communication.” I know that it’s easy to listen to the voices of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. I know that our grasp of truth can be fragile. I am concerned that fidelity to the Scripture will be embodied, carried forward, and that we will step out and tackle the next set of challenges in a way that’s faithful to Jesus. When I worry, I turn to Christ. I gird myself with the belt of truth from the sword of the Spirit because it is Jesus who builds his church and the gates of hell cannot stand against it (Matt. 16:18).

As I reflect on this last battle, I can see that the Lord has been preparing me for this battle through my whole life. . . .

In the midst of my confusion, unbelief, and fear of death, God used Ezekiel 36:25–27 to bring me to faith. It was my first encounter with the belt of truth that Jesus gives his people. It was my first encounter with the sword of the Spirit that exposes and heals. At that moment, I knew the truth of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). It was God who shone his light into my heart and awakened me from the slumber of sin and death.

Now more than four decades later, I am staring death in the face. Instead of my faith failing, the promise of a new heart holds true. God is still shining into the darkness of my heart to give me the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. The reality of death has made the truth of God’s Word come alive to me. I am now living out the end of 2 Corinthians 4:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (vv. 16–18)

At times I am tempted to lose heart. But my good Shepherd is leading me toward life, not death. One of my favorite hymns is “My Song Is Love Unknown,” written by Samuel Crossman in the 17th century. It begins, “Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be.” And then goes on, “Oh my friend, my friend indeed, who at my need his life did spend.”

Since the first day the Lord invaded my heart with his mercy and grace, I have never lost that sense of the friendship of Jesus, that he showed love to the loveless to make them lovely, that he befriended the friendless, that he befriended the unfriendly who were self-absorbed and all about themselves.

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by Diana Chandler, Wednesday, September 11, 2019

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (BP) — Southern Baptist pastor Jarrid Wilson played games with his son Denham, attended his son Finch’s baseball practice and tweeted encouragement to a struggling alcoholic within hours of reportedly committing suicide late Monday (Sept. 9).

“I took this on Monday evening around 7:30 p.m. at our son’s baseball practice,” Wilson’s widow Julianne wrote in posting a video of Wilson playfully swinging Denham in his arms. “By 11:45 that night, my sweet husband was in the presence of Jesus. I love you, Jarrid.”

Wilson shot himself with a handgun and was transported to the emergency room of Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, Calif., where he was pronounced dead at 3:57 a.m. local time Tuesday (Sept. 10), the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office told Baptist Press Wednesday. Wilson was 30.

Wilson struggled with depression and suicidal tendencies, he said frequently throughout his ministry.

Wilson’s pastor Greg Laurie of mega Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside announced the death Tuesday on Twitter.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie wrote. “At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day…. One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross.” Harvest Christian Fellowship began cooperating with the Southern Baptist Convention in 2017.

Wilson had been a Harvest associate pastor for 18 months. He and his wife founded the nonprofit “Anthem of Hope” to help those “battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.”

“Hey friends,” Wilson wrote on the Anthem of Hope Twitter page on the day of his death, “check out this @anthemofhope phone wallpaper in honor of our #YourLifeMatters campaign.”

Five years ago, Wilson served nine months as student pastor of LifePoint Church in Smyrna, Tenn. In social media posts, his former senior pastor Pat Hood and others lamented Wilson’s death.

“Even though we only served with Jarrid a brief time, he left an impression on LifePoint Church and its people,” Hood said on Instagram. “We ask the members of LifePoint Church and friends of the Wilson family to pray for Julianne, the boys and Jarrid’s family during this time.

“It is oftentimes hard to find the words to express our sorrow in times like this,” Hood wrote, “but we are thankful that depression and suicide cannot beat those whose lives are anchored in the death and resurrection of Jesus.”

Wilson’s friend Travis Akers, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and a political commentator, tweeted Tuesday that Wilson was one of the few people who knew of Akers’ battle with alcoholism.

“When I shared about it publicly to perhaps help others, he encouraged and lifted me up,” Akers wrote Tuesday. “This was his reply last night after I went public. That’s the type of person he was. He died moments later.”

Wilson had responded to Akers’ admission of alcoholism, “Proud of you man! What beautiful transparency.”

Wilson’s death coincided with World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10. After his death, many social media posts encouraged those considering suicide to get help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255. Two GoFundMe pages for Wilson, one promoted as a tribute and the other as a memorial fund, had together raised more than $85,000 by 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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by Greg Laurie on Sep 10, 2019

It is with the deepest sadness and shock that I have to report that Jarrid Wilson went to be with the Lord last night.

At a time like this, there are just no words.

The Bible says, “There is a time to mourn.” This is certainly that time.

Jarrid is survived by his wife, Juli, his two sons, Finch and Denham, his mother, father, and siblings.

Jarrid loved the Lord and had a servant’s heart.

He was vibrant, positive, and was always serving and helping others.

Jarrid also repeatedly dealt with depression and was very open about his ongoing struggles.

He wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.

Tragically, Jarrid took his own life.

Jarrid joined us as an associate pastor at Harvest 18 months ago and had spoken out many times on this very issue of mental health.

Jarrid and his wife, Juli, founded an outreach to help people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts called “Anthem of Hope.”

Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not.

At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day.

Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most.

One dark moment in a Christian’s life cannot undo what Christ did for us on the cross.

Romans reminds us that “nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39).

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Nothing on Your Phone (Including TGC) Can Replace the Local Church

Theological content is easier than ever before to find. The internet has made resources for the Christian life ubiquitous—whether it be women’s Bible studies, commentaries, sermon podcasts, books, video summaries of biblical books, video reflections on tough doctrines, documentaries on apologetics questions, entire courses on preaching, or whatever you are looking for. Sure, there is also more bad Christian content than ever before—read the Christian book bestseller lists or top religious podcasts list and weep—but there is also a ton of helpful, trustworthy, doctrinally sound stuff. The world will always need solid theological resources and guidance for Christian living, and technology is making it easier to get these resources out. We should be thankful.

But as much as we should celebrate this age of abundance in Christian resources—what my colleague Sarah Zylstra calls “theological affluence”—I worry about some of its side effects. Namely: why is the rise in access to theological material coinciding with a decline in Christian church attendance? Could it be that our easy access to theological content is, in a twisted way, making us see church as unnecessary? Listening to a Christian podcast or devotional app, after all, is much easier than getting out of bed on Sunday morning and going to a church building. But is it the same?

It is not.

Two Perversions

Just as material affluence can keep us from church on Sunday because we have the means for all manner of distraction (globetrotting vacations, weekends at the lake, NFL games on our 90-inch flatscreen), theological affluence can keep us from church because we have umpteen resources to fill our theological “tank” during the week. Why would we be desperate to attend church regularly, listening to our so-so pastor’s Sunday message, when we can listen to John Stott and John Piper sermons on our commute, five days a week? Doesn’t that check the box?

Part of why this problematic thinking sounds reasonable to many evangelical Christians today is because we have long practiced a faith that is systemically corrupted by (at least) two perversions:

1. Consumer Perversion

We think of faith primarily in terms of “what I get out of it”—whether that’s a feel-good sermon, a “safe” friend group (especially for our kids), or an escape-from-hell ticket. Certainly there are gains in the Christian life (the ultimate gain!), but when we approach it as “what can you do for me?” consumers, our faith is fickle and fragile. What do we do when being a Christian starts costing us, when suffering comes, when church gets . . . uncomfortable? This consumer perversion (amplified by the overly individualistic tendencies of Western culture) makes church-hopping a thing—since there will always be a church with better coffee, better kids’ ministries, less annoying people, and so on. If church, then, is mostly about “getting” the best of whatever spiritual thing you’re looking for, you’ll always be unsatisfied—constantly trying new churches and perhaps eventually giving up or turning online. The “best” preachers and the “best” worship music are on iTunes, after all, not in your local church.

2. Gnostic Perversion

We think of faith mostly as a “content” experience. It’s in our heads and in our hearts: it’s the ideas we pick up from books, podcasts, and sermons that matter. We think of our Christianity mostly as a mental, disembodied experience. And this dovetails with the consumer perversion, since if Christianity is mostly “content,” then we can justify picky standards—demanding that a church’s preaching be intellectually stimulating, doctrinally rigorous (but not too rigorous), culturally contextualized, and so forth; otherwise, we’ll leave and search for better content at another church. You can see how this gnostic perversion might gradually convince someone that physical church (with its subpar “content”) is dispensable in an era where better-quality content is just three taps away on a smartphone.

What Only Church Offers

But Christians are not meant to be consumers; we’re meant to be servants. And Christianity is not merely content; it’s an embodied, lived community. Active, committed participation in the local church reminds us of this.

To be a Christian is to be like Christ: to serve rather than be served (Mark 10:45). You can’t do this by sitting in your car listening to a Christian podcast or gazing at a YouTube video about the Bible. In these activities you are being served. To be sure, you’re being served wonderful things! But it’s not enough. You also need to serve others, and the local church invites you to do this. The church is a place where Christians serve one another (1 Pet. 4:10), encourage one another (Heb. 10:25), love one another with brotherly affection, and outdo one another in showing honor (Rom. 12:10). The church is a community profoundly oriented around loving others and serving the world beyond itself.

The church is also an embodied community, something that cannot be replicated through books and screens. In the disembodied digital age we have the illusion of “connection” with our many social-media followers, but we’re still lonely and unknown behind all the manipulative filters and layers of facade. The local church—an enfleshed community of tangible people in regular contact and close proximity—can be an antidote to our disembodied grief. It grounds us in reality and reminds us that we aren’t just brains on sticks. We were made for physical connection with people, not just informational connection through screens.

In a lonely, disembodied world, the church offers a beautiful alternative: an embodied community where at least once a week you are in physical presence with your church family. It’s a place where the manipulative filters of life online fall away and you can be known in a truer sense, warts and all. It’s a place where our real struggles and weaknesses are harder to hide; a place where healing—emotional, spiritual, physical—can happen. It’s a place where you can do physical things together: sing, stand, sit, kneel, hug, attempt awkward bro handshakes, even eat and drink the communion elements. You can get none of this from podcasts and apps and audiobooks.

No Substitute for Church

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