Tag Archives: Tim Keller

The Wounded Spirit

stupidlittlelife:

Happiness is not determined by external circumstances, but by the way we view, process and address them.

– Dr. Tim Keller

Click here to listen to The Wounded Spirit by Dr. Tim Keller.

You are more alone than you could ever imagine.

Ear­lier today I was lis­ten­ing to the News­boys on Spo­tify and an ad ban­ner popped up:

Discover which music is trending with your friends.

 

When I saw this I real­ized how alone and iso­lated we all truly feel. Per­haps that’s why social media is so ram­pant; in an attempt to feel inti­macy we’ve become hyper-connected. The prob­lem is that our social cir­cles have become very wide, but very, very shal­low. It’s almost as if the ad is telling me that now it’s no longer good enough to just lis­ten to music alone, now I also need to know what my friends are lis­ten­ing to. Strange, right?

If you don’t believe me or think I’m read­ing too much into a sim­ple mar­ket­ing gim­mick, take a moment to think about the per­son who knows you best. Per­haps it’s a par­ent or a sib­ling or a spouse. How well do they really know you? For exam­ple, my beau­ti­ful wife prob­a­bly knows about 5% of who I really am. She’s known me just over 5 years, so almost a 1/5 of my life. We were sep­a­rated 1.5 years of that due to deploy­ments. We don’t spend every wak­ing hour together, and even when we are together I don’t tell her every sin­gle thing that I think about. She doesn’t know  what hap­pened every sin­gle day of my life before I met her and she only knows a small por­tion of the days we do spend together.

So how well does my wife truly know me? And how well do I truly know my wife? And how well does that per­son truly know you? How fully and truly do we know any­one? Proverbs 14:10 affirms this when it says “The heart knows its own bit­ter­ness and no stranger shares its joy.” The Hebrew word for heart doesn’t just mean your emo­tional cen­ter or some­thing like that; the heart is the total essence of you as a per­son. The heart is the self that you know and, even deeper, the self that you don’t even know. The heart is who you truly and wholly are and it knows its own bit­ter­ness and no one can fully share its joy. Feel­ing alone yet?

And yet I find great com­fort in this thought. I don’t try to com­pen­sate by telling my wife every­thing in hopes that she’ll under­stand me. Nor do I con­stantly ask my wife what she’s think­ing so I can know her. Why? Because I rest in the firm knowl­edge that God does know me. Tim Keller, in The Wounded Spirit, said that “if you don’t have an inti­mate, per­sonal rela­tion­ship with God, you are utterly alone in the world.” And he’s right!

The com­fort­ing truth is that God knows me bet­ter than I know my self. Read Psalm 139 and you’ll quickly see what I mean. In verse 1, David says “O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” The word for search here means some­thing like “spy; probe; search; exam­ine; explore; sound out; see through; be explored; investigate.” God hasn’t just searched you out and found you, He’s also searched you within and knows you com­pletely. God knows us to a degree that is impos­si­ble for us to know one another or even our­selves. The descrip­tion continues:

“you dis­cern my thoughts from afar.

3You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

4Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O LORD, you know it alto­gether.“

(Psalm 139:2b-4)

God knows our thoughts before we have them because He knows the minds that pro­duce them. God knows all our ways far bet­ter than even we do. In fact, God knows us so well that He knows what we’re going to say before we do. David paints this won­der­ful pic­ture of God being with us from the moment we fall asleep to the moment we wake up (I awake, and I am still with you. Psalm 139:18b).

Wikipedia defines lone­li­ness as “an unpleas­ant feel­ing in which a per­son expe­ri­ences a strong sense of empti­ness and soli­tude result­ing from inad­e­quate lev­els of social rela­tion­ships.” Our great com­fort is that we’re never truly alone. In fact, we’re never, ever alone. Not if we know God. The Per­son who knows us bet­ter than we know our­selves is with us always; He will never leave us nor for­sake us. May you be com­forted by the knowl­edge that God does know you and He is always with you.

Complete Fulfillment in the words of Timothy Keller

You may say, “I see that Christianity might be just the thing for people who have had collapses in their lives. But what if I don’t fail in my career and what if I have a great family?” As Augustine said, if there is a God who created you, then the deepest chambers of your soul simply cannot be filled up by anything less. That is how great the human soul is. If Jesus is the Creator-Lord, then by definition nothing could satisfy you like he can, even if you are successful. Even the most successful careers and families cannot give the significance, security, and affirmation that the author of glory and love can.

Everybody has to live for something. Whatever that something is becomes “lord of your life,” whether you think of it that way or not. Jesus is the only Lord who, if you receive him, will fulfill you completely, and if you fail him, will forgive you eternally.

– Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism(Riverhead Books: New York, 2008), 179.

What Kind of Religion is This?

(A friend of mine named Aaron Gray originally posted this quote and it came up with Connie in a recent conversation. It’s one of my favorite illustrations of why Christianity is not a religion. In fact, one of the charges brought against Christians, by the Romans, was atheism! Anywho, I thought this was far too awesome of a quote not to share here also. Hope you enjoy!)

“In a sermon Dick Lucas once preached, he recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her neighbor in Rome.

“Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?”

“We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”

“No temple? But where do your priests work and do their ritual?”

“We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”

“No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”

“We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”

“What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.

And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all.”

—Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, p. 48.

Sustaining the Covenant of Marital Love

I stumbled upon this video and found it very encouraging. I feel as though we as a society have lost our understanding of what it means to enter into a covenant relationship with our spouse. We actually don’t make our commitment to them, we make our commitment to God! May we all grow in our appreciation for the covenant we enter into when we say “I do.” And, may we grow in our appreciation for the faithfulness that God shows us when we enter into a covenant with Him!

Piper, Carson, and Keller on Sustaining the Covenant of Marital Love from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Two Dimensions to Freedom

Today is the 4th of July. For us Americans, it’s a pretty big deal. There will, no doubt, be lots of families gathering, grills cooking, and fireworks exploding. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of freedom for the last month or so and it all started when I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller called “Absolutism: Don’t we all have to find truth for ourselves?” I’ve also been reading The Reason for God, in which Tim Keller shares some of the same thoughts. Finally, yesterday at church, our pastor—Jered Rothwilson—gave a really great sermon about freedom.
Those three messages have been swimming around in my head and have really given me a lot to think about. Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to:  modern Americans have no clue what freedom means nor do we have an appreciation for how to keep it. We only know freedom with width, but for the most part I feel like we do not know freedom with depth; there are two dimensions to freedom. Allow me to elaborate.
According to dictionary.com, freedom is defined as:
1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3. the power to determine action without restraint.
The general idea of these—the top three—definitions is that freedom is a complete lack of constraints, the ability to do whatever you want. I think this idea is reflected in our art, too. I did a Google image search on the word “freedom” and here are the top 8 results:




Notice all of the images (expect one) depict a wide, open area. Over half of them feature just one person. All of them envision the people with their arms spread wide or lifted to the heavens. These are all depictions of a one-dimensional freedom:  a freedom with width.
In his sermon, Keller argues that freedom is a lot more complex than you think, and I agree with him. He gives the example of a fish; a fish is only truly free when it embraces the boundaries of staying in water. Later he uses the illustration of a musician who forgoes many of their freedoms to become a world-class musician; they gave up some of their freedoms to enjoy a richer, deeper freedom. Here are some examples I came up with:
  • A single person can enjoy a wide dimension of romantic freedom, whereas a married person will enjoy a deep dimension of romantic freedom.
  • Someone who spends all their money however they want, whenever they want will enjoy a wide dimension of financial freedom, whereas someone who saves and invests will enjoy a deep dimension of financial security and freedom.
  • A person who eats whatever they want, whenever they want, and however much they want will enjoy a wide dimension of dietary freedom (as well as a wide waist-line), whereas someone who eats healthy foods in moderate proportions will enjoy a far healthier freedom.
Thus, freedom is not exclusively concerned with width, but also depth, and you cannot have both. There is a trade-off required. I can’t just go out with any woman I want because I’m married, but I enjoy a degree of intimacy and love with my wife that I could never have with a superficial girlfriend.
The same is even true for our great nation, which is why our founding fathers wrote the Constitution. Did you know that the Constitution was actually a follow-up to something else? Initially, the U.S. was loosely governed by the Articles of Confederation, which gave all the independent states a very wide dimension of freedom. In fact, the Articles gave a freedom that was so wide that it was useless, which is part of why the Federalist Papers were written and the U.S. Constitution was later adopted.
Freedom demands boundaries. Either we will place a boundary on how deep our freedom goes and we will enjoy a wide freedom, or we will place a boundary on how wide our freedom goes, and we will enjoy a deep freedom.
Jesus did the same thing when He came to earth. Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus came in human flesh and humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of dying on the cross. In this, we find Jesus limiting the width and even the depth of His freedom in order to grant us the deepest of all freedoms possible. Jesus talked about slavery and freedom in John 8:34 where He says “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” Sin is an oppressive master that holds us under an oppressive and shallow freedom. But Jesus follows up by saying that if He sets us free we “will be free indeed.” To get a better idea of what exactly Jesus meant in this passage, I looked at the Greek and found out that the word for “indeed” in this passage is ont?s, which means “truly, really, or in truth.” By embracing the boundaries that Christ places on us we can know true freedom with real depth. Could this be what Jesus was describing when He said He came to give us “life to the full” (Jn 10:10)?
My prayer is that all who read this have a wonderful 4th of July and come to a deeper appreciation of our freedom. God bless and happy 4th!