February 2024 Newsletter
by Pastor Mike Novotny
Recently, I was reading a fascinating book called Generations by psychology professor Jean Twenge, which suggests that some of America’s most cherished “truths” might be doing more harm than good.
As you’ve likely heard, modern culture preaches a message of self-discovery, self-priority, and self-fulfillment as evidenced by the phrases “live your truth” and “you do you.” The good life, we are told, is found in being free to follow your heart and pursue your dreams.
But Dr. Twenge, even without quoting the Bible, reveals the sad result of that “truth.” She writes, “Individualism and freedom feel good when you are young but empty when you are older” (Generations [New York: Atria Books, 2023], 339).
Why empty? Because the relentless pursuit of self can rob you of key relationships. You might cut ties with your family if they judge you for your lifestyle. You might stop attending your church if your pastor confronts you for your angry political views. You might quit reading the Bible if it makes you feel bad about your behavior. But burning all those bridges for the sake of freedom and autonomy leaves you on an isolated island.
Twenge’s book reminded me of Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
There are so many things that “appear to be right” to us, but this verse warns us of trusting our own intuition or our personal gut reaction. Not everything that seems life-giving actually gives life.
That’s why you need a source of truth that comes from outside of you.
Jesus prayed to his Father for all believers, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus knew that the only truly trustworthy message would not be found in your heart but in God’s.
Interestingly, when Dr. Twenge studied human happiness, she found that religion, which by its very nature binds us to beliefs that we didn’t invent, is a key factor in being happy. She states, “Marriage and religion are both strong predictors of happiness” (Generations, p.339).
Trusting the truth of the Christian religion is rarely easy, but in the end, it leads to life because Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Trust his truth.
God’s Word speaks across cultures, languages, generations, and through multiple mediums.
That’s why at Time of Grace we’re working to make biblical teaching available in as many ways as possible—on more platforms, through more resources, in more languages, and in more places.
And thanks to generous support from friends like you, Time of Grace also reaches the hearing impaired!
Just read this amazing note from “Jill” …
Thank you for adding captions to all your videos. I am deaf, and it means a lot to me that I can watch weekly service messages and app videos. Your resources have really helped me the past few years go through a difficult time. … Thank you for all you do!
Jill found hope in the truth of God’s Word because friends like you gave to touch more lives through Time of Grace. So thank you for you generosity!
Navigate the toughest topics in today’s culture
Anxiety, depression, sexual confusion, transgenderism, racial tension …
We need to know what God actually says about these issues and others. In Taboo: Topics Christians Should Be Talking About but Don’t, Mike Novotny explores these deeply personal and emotional topics with grace and respect.
It’s the ultimate resource for Christians not only looking to bring change into today’s culture but also deal with these topics in their own lives.
Taboo comes as thanks for your gift to reach more people through Time of Grace. So request your copy when you give today. And thank you for helping more believers speak truth in love into today’s tough topics.
It’s time for believers to step gracefully into the taboo and share God’s truth with a world in need.
Get the basics about Jesus!
If you’re new to Jesus and Christianity, or if you know someone who is and you want to give them simple and clear guidance, we’ve got some great resources that help explain the basics about Jesus, God, and faith.
Coming up on Time of Grace
Tune in to Time of Grace in March for the new series Jesus #nofilter. We live in a culture where Jesus is claimed to be on everyone’s side—a defender of doctrine, a you-shall-not-judge friend, a tender counselor, a tough confronter, and more. But who did Jesus say that he was? This series examines Jesus’ answer to those questions through his “I Am” statements in the gospel of John.
The first episode of Jesus #nofilter is available to watch on February 25 with new episodes released each Sunday in March.
Q & A with Pastor Mike
Question: The world says, “Do not judge.” But what does God say?
Pastor Mike: Some people read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:1—“Do not judge”—and say we should just love others and never condemn another person’s behavior.
But is that true? Of course not!
Do we applaud when Christians fail to judge a pastor who is stealing from his church’s offerings or sending inappropriate texts to a married staff member or misusing the pulpit to share his political opinions?
No. We hold people accountable for their actions because there is such a thing as right and wrong. The truth is that we should judge others and others should judge us. But here’s the real point of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: We should start with ourselves.
It takes some time to get to the whole truth. I pray that you have the time to do so today. The truth depends on it.
You may have found that treating people with love is easier than confronting people with truth. Telling someone they are wrong can be an anxious experience, especially if you are a compassionate, harmony-loving, people-pleasing person.
I’ve been working on a book on confession and confrontation, so I have a few quick tips to share with you:
- The Golden Rule of Confrontation—Confront others in the way you would want to be confronted. That simple idea will clarify 80% of what you should do next. Would you want others to talk about you before they talked to you? Nope. Then don’t do that to them. Would you want someone to just lecture you or to listen to your side of the story? Then do the same to them.
- Use the Bible—“All Scripture is … useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). I would suggest opening your Bible (or Bible app) to a passage that lets God speak his truth. Avoid the “I think” vs. “You think” tie, and allow the Scriptures to get the final word.
- Follow Up—VERY few confrontations “work” the first time around, so be sure to follow up with lots of love. Thank them for listening. Ask them to add any additional thoughts. Promise to pray and follow up. Text them the passage that is at the heart of the issue.
The life of Jesus teaches us that there is no perfect way to confront people with truth and have everyone like you. But following these three steps will help you speak the truth in love.
May God bless you as you do.