Deuteronomy 8 Sermon: Remember the Wilderness (Dave Clayton)

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Dave Clayton speaks from Deuteronomy 8 about the importance of the wilderness for the people of God. What does God do in the wilderness? He works on our character. His purpose is clear, but will we press into it? Will we meet him there? The wilderness humbles, tests, and teaches us. Dave encourages listeners to create space, intentionally reflect on God, and sharing insights with trusted friends as you allow the wilderness to deepen your relationship with Jesus.

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Navigating Disappointment: Matthew 11:1–11

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Dave Clayton, lead minister at Ethos Church and author of Revival Starts Here, dives into Matthew 11, exploring how to navigate disappointment and unmet expectations when God’s plans differ from our own. This episode encourages listeners to trust in God’s timing and find peace amid life’s uncertainties. 

Quick summary of his main points: Disappointment grows in difficult circumstances, unmet expectations, and limited perspective.

Some Favorite Quotes: “Isn’t it amazing what a little disappointment will do to your theology?” “John took his disappointment straight to Jesus with brutal honesty.” “Faith is like film; it develops in the dark.” “To doubt is a pitstop on the journey of faith; it’s not a destination.”

Questions to ask yourself in response: “Does God exist for my happiness, or do I exist for his glory?” “How have my circumstances distorted your character?”

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Finding Rest in Jesus: Matthew 11 and Jeremiah 6 (Dave Clayton)

Listen to this episode above, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Dave Clayton, lead minister at Ethos Church and author of Revival Starts Here, delivers a message on how to find rest in Jesus. We’re often burned out; is this okay for Christians? Dave answers with a resounding no!

With an eye toward Matthew 11:28–30, where Jesus says, “All who are weary . . . come to me and find rest for your souls,” Dave unpacks three actions from Jeremiah 6:16. He tells us we need to stop, ask, walk. Jeremiah 6:16 says, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (NIV). Learn from Dave’s wisdom as he emphasizes the vital importance of rest.

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Isaiah 40 Sermon: Expect Great Things (Dave Clayton)

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In human terms, we can love someone and expect very little of them. What do you expect of God? Dave Clayton delivers a compelling message from Isaiah 40, urging us to elevate our expectations of God. Originally delivered for Ethos Church in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 12, 2020, as area churches prayed and fasted together during “Awaken Nashville.”

Through personal stories and biblical insights Dave illustrates how we often love God but expect little from him. He challenges us to believe in God’s infinite goodness, strength, and creativity. Explore how to actively hope, trust, and wait on the Lord, expecting him to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

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Knowing God: John 17 (Dave Clayton)

Join Dave Clayton as he delves into John 17 and what it means to know God and the essence of truly knowing God, not just knowing about him. Originally delivered for Ethos Church meeting virtually in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 26, 2020, this message challenges us to move beyond superficial knowledge and into a genuine, intimate relationship with God.

Drawing on personal experiences and biblical insights, Dave explores the theology of knowing God and the practical side of knowing God: how our daily surrender, solitude, community, and mission can transform our spiritual journey. This message can stir your soul and bring you closer to the heart of God.

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A Theology of the Beauty of the Church (Chad Harrington)

Listen on Apple Podcasts here or stream on Spotify here. Watch below.

What is the result of making disciples? Why should we help people mature? Chad Harrington presents a scriptural theology of the beauty of the church to inspire us toward making disciples.

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Below is an unedited but cleaned-up transcript of the first part of this session.

This is Chad Harrington. I was teaching at my church recently, and we’re going through a class called The Mission of the Church. My session was called The Biblical Foundation of Disciple Making. My particular take on that has to do with the beauty of the church. I wanted to share this with you, and I’m calling it A Theology of the Beauty of the Church. There are different ways we can talk about the mission of the church. In this class session, I cast a vision for why we make disciples, and I talk about it in terms of beauty. So, take a listen and let me know what you think.

I love the church. Do you love the church? Not just the idea of the church, but do you love the people? I remember the first time I was really struck with the importance of the church. It was when I was on the mission field, funny enough. I was in Cyprus, and I was going to convert people to Christ. My goal was something like helping two fathers know God, and then we would get their families too. That didn’t happen. We were trying. I was 20. How do you be a missionary at 20? I didn’t know then, and I still don’t really know now. We were just trying stuff. We’d go play backgammon at the Turkish coffee shop where men hung out. I learned how to play Tavla, which is what they call backgammon in Turkish. If you want to learn backgammon, go to Turkey.

I kept asking the question, “What are we winning people to?” The border between the north and south of Cyprus had just been opened. It was a closed country, and in my mythology, a closed country means you’re not allowed to go in there legally to convert people. Three years before I went, in 2003, the border had just opened. It was possible for people like me to go to the north of Cyprus. It was a fresh mission field. We knew all the believers in the whole country, which was small. There was an Anglican church, another Anglican church, and our team of about 10 or 15 missionaries. I kept asking, “What are we winning people to?” It’s kind of like a dog chasing the mail truck—what does he do when he catches it?

Because there wasn’t really anything there, unlike at Harpeth, where you could just bring a new convert to church. We didn’t have a church. So, what is this thing that we’re winning people to? This set me on a trajectory in my life to muse about the importance of the church. There’s the church, but then what are we doing with it? What are we doing when we win people to Christ? OK, they come to church, and then what? People say you step out of the baptistry and into the ministry. Well, what is the ministry we step into when we step out of the baptistry? The truth is, we don’t step into the ministry—we step into the church, and then we get ready for the ministry. We become part of the ministry. But what is it that the church does?

So, here’s the big question we’re asking today: Biblically speaking, what is the mission of the church? Another way to say it, and this language comes from Jim Putman and his crew, is, “What is winning?” In sports, you know you win in football if you have the most points at the end of the game. It’s simple—you have a scoreboard, and you know how to put points on the board. What is winning with the church? In school, you get a good grade by getting a certain number of points correct, and you get a passing grade. In business, you win by getting the numbers right. What’s the win for the church? What’s the win for your ministry in the church?

So, here’s the big question: I want you to journey with me and walk through this challenge. Biblically, what is the win for the church? How do we measure that we have won as a church? The question is, what is the mission of the church? Biblically, how do we know when we’ve accomplished that mission? The first question is, what is the mission biblically? This is where we’re going to get down and dirty. I could give you a moment of silence to search, but we’re going to make it more heart-driven and memory-located. What in the Bible is the mission of the church? You have to cite actual scriptures.

What does Matthew 28 say? “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I’m going to disproportionately play devil’s advocate today because this is important. Don’t take this as antagonism, but I really want to push you. That was given to 11 men who were called apostles, sent ones. So, how is the church related to that? The disciples being baptized are forming the church, but there was no church then, so that’s not a great biblical passage for this question. It’s correlated, but I’m really asking what is the mission of the church?

What passage is that? Who can help a brother out? It’s in Acts 2. Where is that found? I just memorized it last week. That’s all right. Come on, you can do it. That’s all right. Anyone can pitch in. There was a group effort here. You see part of the church is functioning in Acts 2. OK, give me a verse. Let’s go back to Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” OK, but here’s the problem with that. On one occasion, an expert of the law stood up and tested Jesus with a question. Jesus said that to just one person, and the answer to the question being asked is, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” That’s not my question. My question is, what’s the mission of the church?

1 Peter 3:15: “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” How is that correlated to the church? That seems like just something good to do as a disciple of Jesus. We’re talking about the mission of the church. We go to Ephesians 5:25-27: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

Would sanctification be tied in with that? I think we’re getting closer. Ephesians 1:3-10: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

The church doesn’t have to be mentioned explicitly, but it definitely helps when answering a specific question. Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. So, why did Christ die? He did it for many reasons, but one very clear, definitive reason is to make the church holy. Did you know the church is called “her”? There’s a big difference between a “her” and an “it.” Martin Buber talks about an “I-it” relationship in his book, “I and Thou.” The difference is that it’s personal; there’s agency to it. The church is a personal entity. Christ’s mission was to make the church holy by cleansing her through the washing of water with the word, to present her to himself as a radiant church.

But that’s Christ’s mission. What is the mission of the church? Let’s look at John 17. What does it say? “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Is unity the mission of the church? Knowing Jesus Christ? Those are two different things. Which verse are you using for knowing Jesus? John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” That’s eternal life, but it doesn’t clearly state the mission of the church. Ephesians 4:11-16 says, “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. If you want to talk about the church, you should go to Ephesians. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom…

The rest is unavailable as a transcript. 

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Live Together, Die Alone: Audio Excerpt from ‘The Revolutionary Disciple’

Listen to the whole audiobook: purchase from Audible here or stream on Spotify premium here.

This is the audiobook version of chapter 21 from The Revolutionary Disciple by Jim Putman and Chad Harrington. 

Support the publisher by buying the hardback version of The Revolutionary Disciple (Jim Putman, Chad Harrington) here.

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The Utter Importance of a Theological Approach to Ministry

Chad Harrington describes a virtue-based approach to ministry that takes into account the importance of the person—God and others. Listen here (above), or on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Theologian Christos Yannaras declares that Western culture rests on the foundation of seeking truth as the highest goal. We see this among theologians and philosophers alike, from both pre-Christian and Christian eras, from Aristotle to Augustine. However, the default pursuit of people today is utility, not truth.

How has this affected our lives and our churches?

The impact on our lives and our churches is significant. Embrace theology, which is the highest truth, not utility for your life and ministry. In this session, Chad Harrington inspires and instructs on this topic and unpacks how a theological approach, as opposed to a pragmatic-first approach, can breathe life into your ministry.

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1 Peter 5:7: Let Go of Anxiety

Josh Patrick shows from 1 Peter 5:7, how God cares for us. He encourages us to “Let Go” of anxiety as we trust in God’s care. 

The following is an excerpt from chapter 4 in Josh Patrick’s book Living Hope. Get this book for 50% off one copy and 60% off two or more for a limited time with coupon code “LIVING” when you purchase on our site here.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” — 1 Pet. 5:7–9

In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, they have a sacred symbol, a sprawling, shade-bearing, eighty-year-old American Elm. Tourists drive for miles to see this tree; they pose for pictures and would protect it at all costs. The tree adorns posters and letterheads. Other trees grow larger, fuller, even greener, but none is as cherished as this tree.

The city treasures the tree not because of what it looks like but because of its endurance. You see, the tree survived the Oklahoma City bombing. Timothy McVeigh parked his death-laden truck only yards away from this tree. His malice killed 168 people, wounded over six hundred more, destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, and buried the tree in rubble.

No one expected the tree to survive. No one gave the tree hope. But then it began to bud sprouts, new life pressing through the marred surface. Green leaves pushed away the soot, and life resurrected from an acre of death. People felt that the tree modeled the resilience the victims desired, so they gave the elm a name: the Survivor Tree.

Followers of Jesus are very much like that tree. During the trials of life, we grow, and we bear fruit—because we’re rooted in the giver of life. We rely on Jesus day by day, and he fills us with living hope. Peter presents three exhortations in this passage to help us bear fruit in trials.

Let Go: Applying 1 Peter 5:7

Verse seven says, “Cast all your anxiety on him.” Cast away your burdens; don’t hold on to them. I wonder what all prevents us from doing that. The command to offload your worries, fears, and anxieties—to let God be God and know that you are not—appears in every section of the Bible.

Anxiety is all the rage these days. We’re all overwhelmed. Anxiety is the word of our day. We’re up at night with worry or stress. We’re over-engaged, overworked, and overstimulated. Some wear stress and chaos like a badge of honor, like somehow the more overwhelmed you are, the more important you are and the more significant your life is, the more impressive you are in the race of life. Every bit of it goes back to pride. Humanity is self-deluded in thinking everything relies and depends upon us.

No one is strong enough. No one is wise enough. No one is healthy enough. No one is spiritual enough or righteous enough or good enough to handle life on their own. You can’t hold on to worry and have peace at the same time. But when we let God have our worries, we receive peace that surpasses our understanding—otherworldly, transcendent peace that only comes from the God of peace.

Why don’t we exchange stress and worry for peace?

Why don’t we take hold of what Jesus has already made available to us? His peace is not the absence of conflict. It’s not the absence of pain. It’s not the absence of struggle.

His peace is the presence of God guiding us.

God cares for us. Because of that we can let go. We can let go with a peaceful and joyful conscience. His care is not a cliche, and it’s not wishful thinking; it’s the truth.

God sees your life. He hears your prayers.

As believers in the God whom Jesus came to perfectly reveal, we don’t have to wonder if he cares. We know he does. The God of the universe, our Creator, is intimately aware of and deeply involved in what we’re walking through.

Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). If you want to see what God is like, look at a shepherd tending sheep. It’s personal. It’s a warm, attentive, engaged glimpse of God watching over us, protecting us, leading us, guiding us, correcting us, transforming us, and redeeming our stories. This truth about how God cares for you should enable you to walk through life not worrying over every bump in the road, but letting go and trusting in the God of living hope.

This is an excerpt from chapter 10 in Josh Patrick’s book Living Hope. Read more when you get this book for 50% off one copy and 60% off two or more for a limited time with coupon code “LIVING” when you purchase on our site here.

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1 Peter 2:11–12: A Call to Do Hard Things

Josh Patrick shows how God calls us to do hard things in 1 Peter 2:11–12: Abstain from sin and live good lives. This article describes those in sermon form!

The following is an excerpt from chapter 4 in Josh Patrick’s book Living Hope. Get this book for 50% off one copy and 60% off two or more for a limited time with coupon code “LIVING” when you purchase on our site here.

Everything up to this point in the series has focused on clarifying our identity as the sons and daughters of God and establishing the permanence of our living hope. Peter, in the first chapter, made at least seven statements about identity. Seven times he spoke to who we are in Christ.

In the passage from 1 Peter 2 that we’re addressing here, he asks us to obey Jesus in seven different ways—a fascinating coincidence if you ask me. From the beginning of 1 Peter to verse ten of chapter two, there are thirty explicit statements of encouragement—merely thirty-five verses into his letter, which in total is only five chapters and one hundred and five verses. By the second chapter, there are already thirty words of encouragement and seven affirmations of identity.

I take away two things from those data points.

1. First, the original hearers of his message must have been discouraged and oppressed and afraid. Following Jesus in the first century was a controversial, crazy, and dangerous proposition. Peter knew this. So it makes sense that he would want to encourage and affirm these people as much as he possibly could.

2. The second reason why I think we have seven identity statements and thirty words of encouragement—in the span of only thirty-five verses—is because he’s about to call us to do hard things. An excellent summary of 1 Peter 1:1–2:10 would be this: remember who you are. Beginning in 1 Peter 2:11, the focus is on becoming the person God calls you to be now that you know whose you are and are convinced of what he says about you.

1 Peter 2:11: Abstain from Sinful Desires

Verse eleven of chapter two begins the hinge point of 1 Peter:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

Have you ever been around a foreigner before, someone clearly not from your area?

Maybe it’s their accent, their customs, the food they eat, or the music they listen to that tells you, but somehow you just know. A foreigner is distinct. They stick out.

The word “exile” is also an interesting choice of word. An exile is someone being led out either by will or by force from one place to another. They’re on a pilgrimage from somewhere they knew well to some other place.

Peter highlights a simple truth about you and me:

As followers of Jesus, we live by different rules.

We worship a very different Lord. The way we define success, the good life, beauty, and good and evil is often very different than whatever is common in our native territory.

In Philippians 3:20, Paul says, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” He doesn’t say that it will be in heaven but that it currently is. The minute you become a follower of Jesus, your citizenship transfer is complete. Now we don’t fully come into the blessings of that inheritance—which Peter so eloquently describes in chapter one—but our citizenship is instantly moved.

If you are a follower of Jesus, you are first and foremost a citizen of heaven, where God’s rule and reign remain unchallenged, and where his worship takes place in every moment. That place is your home.

Peter says that, in light of that reality, we should abstain from evil desires. He could have simply instructed us to stop doing bad things. He goes for the root, though.

Consider whose teaching example he’s following there: Jesus’, of course. He was personally discipled by Jesus, the most creative and brilliant articulator of inside-out spirituality. Jesus taught that the gospel wasn’t about behavior modification.

The Pharisees lived as though it was. For them, rules were everything, and it wasn’t about becoming a good person. It was about looking like a good person, about appearance rather than reality. Their teachings had a rank hypocrisy about them. Their dead religion reflected their dead hope, unfortunately.

Jesus taught that God wants to upend our disordered desires because an ugly part of our sinful nature is that we want many things that are not good for us. Jesus came not only to help us with that reality but to rescue us from it. In him, our desires can become transformed. He gives us the Holy Spirit, not just to help us do better but to help us desire better things. He’s going for a heart transformation that is deep and lasting and unmistakable—not mere superficial, short-lived behavior modification.

The stakes are immeasurably high.

Did you catch that? These evil desires wage war against you and me. Sounds a bit dramatic, but that’s the truth. Peter says there’s a war going on in your desires, and the war is against your soul.

You have a soul. You are not only flesh and bone. Part of you—an eternal part of you—has forces inside and outside of your being waging war against you. The forces inflict real harm, with the capability of keeping you from being strong and focused and passionate and pure in your worship of God.

If you’re wondering, What are the sinful desires I should be abstaining from? only lift your eyes from verse eleven up to verse nine. Just before the hinge of verse eleven, you can find in a clear and wonderful way what your purpose is.

As followers of Jesus, we have been called out of darkness and into his light.

Once we were not a people, but now we are a people that we may declare the praises of him who has rescued us from sin and death.

We’re here for that reason, and so we abstain from any desire that hinders the passionate pursuit of God. It’s a pretty sweeping call, admonishing us as God’s children to take rigorous, personal inventory of our lives because God desires and demands goodness.

1 Peter 2:12: Live Good Lives

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Pet. 2:12)

“Pagans” is an interesting word not often used. The original word means “Gentiles.” In our context, it often refers to people who do not worship the one, true God or acknowledge the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ.

Right there in verse eleven, it says, “Though they accuse you of doing wrong.” Well, for us, the accusations are piling up these days, aren’t they? Close-minded. Simpletons. Fundamentalists. Hateful. For them, it was far, far worse.

Peter says your life should be so distinct, so inspiring, and so encouraging that people will look at your life and be moved to worship and glorify God. The idea comes from Jesus himself.

A living hope runs counterintuitively to life on earth.

It’s uncanny in an inexplicably attractive way, and that’s how others are drawn in. We are to reflect the light of Christ’s living hope.

Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” What was the purpose of salt in the first century? It flavored and preserved food. The whole notion of Christianity being boring is just not true. It’s zesty. It’s flavorful. Jesus is anything but boring—and a life with him is anything but lifeless and predictable.

Matthew 5 continues:

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. They put it on its stand, and it gives light to everybody in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven. (Matt. 5:14–16)

Peter, a disciple of Jesus, is saying the very same thing.

Peter says that our good deeds should be so inspiring that they provoke unbelievers—pagans—to glorify God on the day he visits us. He doesn’t explain the phrase “on the day he visits,” but I assume he means the day when Christ returns, when all things are made new, and we all bow down—whether we do it willingly or by force—to King Jesus. By heaven’s standards, a good life is focused on the kind of person we’re becoming.

This text demands we ask the question, Who am I becoming?

This is an excerpt from chapter 4 in Josh Patrick’s book Living Hope. Read more when you get this book for 50% off one copy and 60% off two or more for a limited time with coupon code “LIVING” when you purchase on our site here.

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1 Peter 3:15: Be Prepared to Give an Answer, Even in the Chemo Room

Josh Patrick puts flesh on 1 Peter 3:15, which says to “always be prepared to give a reason for the hope you have.” Find strength.

The following is an excerpt from chapter 7 in Josh Patrick’s book Living Hope. Get this book for 50% off one copy and 60% off two or more for a limited time with coupon code “LIVING” when you purchase on our site here.

The hope Jesus gives is like a flame that can never be put out. It is untouchable, indestructible. It is resilient and glorious. It makes us shine like stars in the sky. In fact, in many cases, Christian hope is so distinct and so otherworldly that it often demands an explanation.

In 1 Peter 3:15 the apostle Peter says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

The phrase “give an answer” literally means to make a defense. It’s where we get the word “apologetics.” It envisions a scenario in which we’re responding to a question. In this case, Peter must be assuming that the inward hope of Jesus’ followers results in lives that are very different from those who don’t follow Jesus. Our lives should be so noticeably different that they prompt questions.

So be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have.

How exactly can others witness our hope? Hope is invisible. By definition, you can’t see hope, as it is not a tangible reality. Well, Peter gives us a strong contextual clue in verses thirteen and fourteen:

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. (1 Pet. 3:13–14)

The reason people, specifically unbelievers, would ask about our hope without our slamming it down their throat, the reason they would initiate a conversation about hope, is because they see in us a strange and peculiar fearlessness. Or maybe a better way to put it is this:

They see that we aren’t controlled by the same fears they are, and our absence of fear is striking.

A Story of Hope

Once when I was at the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center getting chemo, I had an interesting hope-explanation encounter. I could tell early on that it was going to be a long day, and I knew I had two options: I could either partner with God and bless people, or I could go crazy. I chose to partner with God that day, by his grace.

I saw her right by the elevator. She was in her mid-to-late fifties, with graying hair at the temples, and she was shaking. She was crying, but she didn’t look sick. I went to my seat, opened my laptop, and started writing and reading and doing what I do. I felt a strange prompting: You may need to talk to her. This may be the open door to encourage somebody you’ve prayed for. But I didn’t want to force it. I didn’t want to be the guy to go over to a crying woman and say, “Are you okay?” Clearly, she was not. I didn’t want to have a weird, forced conversation.

I went inside the restroom to wash my hands, and I said to God, “If you want me to talk to this lady, then I want to know it.” When I came out of the restroom, she had wheeled her husband over, and they were now sitting right beside me.

He was not doing so well physically. He was there, and he was struggling. She had half a dozen bags around her, full of notebooks, pillows, cups, and food. I started chatting with them, asking how the day was going. The moment I said something to her, she started crying uncontrollably.

She said finally:

“My distractions aren’t working.”

I asked, “What do you mean?”

She said, as she was pulling stuff out of her bag, “I brought all this stuff with me. I’m the bag lady.” She had books, her laptop, her iPad, her phone, some scrapbooks, and some work materials. She said, “This is not happening to us. I can’t be here anymore. The only way I know how to get through this is to be distracted.”

I thought, I can either tell her in this moment, “Well, Jesus is the answer to this,” or I can get in the ditch with her and say, “You know, I’ve been there. I know what this feels like, and it’s really hard.”

I chose to go down that latter road with her. At the end of our conversation, she said,

“Has anybody ever asked you about your hope?”

Now I ask you: Has anybody ever asked you that? Have you ever had to explain why you don’t overreact to life?

Our posture of non-anxious trust in God is provocative. It is attractive. We are free from being troubled thanks to God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. We are—day by day, moment by moment—outgrowing fear. In him, we are able to live with a non-reactive spirit, and this is confusing to most people.

We’re not afraid of the same things they’re afraid of.

What does the world put their hope in?

Most often it is safety, comfort, money, acceptance, or health. What about the followers of Jesus? Where’s our hope? Our hope is fixed on a person who has overcome death. He has defeated every enemy. Sickness? He beat that one. Water? He walked on it. Blindness? Conquered that. Every time he encountered an evil spirit or a demon, he was able to cast it out. Religious persecution? Hypocrisy?

He was able to kick those into the darkness and expose them as inauthentic. People were coming against Jesus left and right, but he could not be defeated.

The last enemy is death.

Jesus emerged from the grave. When people put their hope in and bet the farm on the resurrection of Jesus, the way they engage with fear is completely altered. It changes everything. We cling to hope in the middle of the mess, and that doesn’t make sense—but for Jesus. Our souls know that it is indeed in him that we live and move and have our being, so we trust and strive to follow him.

We have a living hope because we have experienced the goodness of God on earth—despite the suffering, despite the troubles, despite living so far removed from the actual events of Christ’s resurrection.

But our tone should be humble when somebody does say to us, “Why aren’t you freaking out right now? Why aren’t you anxious? Because from where I’m standing, you have reasons to be anxious.” There’s no room for pride because we didn’t do anything; Jesus did.

This is an excerpt from chapter 7 in Josh Patrick’s book Living Hope. Read more when you get this book for 50% off one copy and 60% off two or more for a limited time with coupon code “LIVING” when you purchase on our site here.

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