Two Cars Spinning

On the morning of June 23, 2016, I was working with my head down in a local coffeeshop. Tunes blared in my ears as I stared and typed. Then, in a moment, someone left and the room got quiet. This place was never quiet. I looked up.

At 12:09pm, a westbound silver minivan made a blind turn across four lanes of traffic and hit a small eastbound black SUV, sending both cars spinning. The crash totaled both cars, demolishing the front left corner of the SUV. I had never seen an entire wheel assembly lying on the pavement, but there it was.

 

At the scene, people swirled, helping each driver and the passengers. The woman in the SUV shook terribly, surprised that her simple trip down the hill became a nightmare. Men swept the busy street. Police arrived on the scene. EMS removed the injured woman from her car. I directed oncoming traffic to the nearest detour.

There was a palpable mourning across that intersection. We mourned the pain, the terror, the shock. We moved to help. But only one driver was at fault. 

Which brings us to the the hot topic of the last thirty-ish months: police shootings.

Instead of merely looking at a wreck the way a child does, “Wow, that’s a mess,” we should be mature in our thinking and consider the biblical claims of the following:

  1. God values human life, regardless of ethnicity, age, criminal history, socioeconomic class. All life is valuable in the first place.
  2. The government bears the sword, and in our culture that most directly means the local police force.
  3. Police officers are called to enforce laws. If they do not do so, they are putting other citizens in danger and are themselves liable for the damage criminals subsequently cause.
  4. Not all crime is equal. Please read the Old Testament. There is unquestionably a civil hierarchy of sins. “Every sin is the same” is nonsense, in this life and in the next. Some sins are culmination of years of sinning, others are momentary acts. Some give a bruise; others take a life.
  5. All unjust killing, whether of the preborn in the womb at the local Planned Parenthood (a direct slap in the face to parents) or of a citizen by a police officer, is evil and must be prosecuted.
  6. Every human is a sinner and tainted, mind, body, and soul, with sinfulness. Every human, because he is a  sinner, is an innate self-server, racist, and liar. 
  7. Sinfulness doesn’t excuse mistrust in an entire system, because you are a sinner, too. Transparency and accountability are needed.
  8. Policemen have hard jobs and are not perfect. You and I likely do not know the first thing about what it takes to approach a dangerous situation and handle everything involved. This doesn’t mean they’re always right or always wrong.
  9. It is not a sin for an authority to shoot a dangerous criminal. Please see #2 and #3.
  10. The media, being full of self-serving sinners (#6), have a vested interest in speaking half-truths and outright lies to make better “news.” This news, in these cases, is not the truth at all.
  11. The viper-tongued media puts police officers and citizens at risk. Please see the Dallas shootings and the widespread anger toward police.
  12. Marching is one thing; loving is quite another. Both have their place, but one is immeasurably more important. You also don’t have to march with people in order to love those people.
  13. Disobedience is not necessarily racism. A hatred of authority by one party (a young man, let’s say, detained by a police officer) does not necessarily equal a surface-level racism by the acting authority. The facts, instead, must come to light. The officer may have been acting in a racist fashion, or the young man may simply hate authority, or both.

Each of these can (and maybe should) be expanded into a separate post, but for now these categories are important because they help us think through issues like that of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, and the host of part-myth, part-real stores the media tells us. 

If this local crash were a more “sensational” story, there’s no telling how the media might have portrayed it. It might have been an issue of environmentalism, or driver brutality, or racism.

Eyewitnesses know that, in the wreck on June 23, both drivers lived. Both suffered very real damage to their lives, bodies, and potentially souls. Either driver could have avoided the wreck.

In this case, only one was at fault.

More than Mirrored Men

Amidst all the feminist tussle, the beauties of sexual distinction have been lost. What makes manhood and womanhood beautiful in harmony is their respective distinctions in contrast. Not light vs. darkness but shade, color, hue, melody, harmony, and contrasting blend. Think more “summer sunset over the Appalachians” and less “tornado rips apart entire town.”

Therefore, we must recover the beauties of sexual distinction. What makes men “men,” so strong, trailblazing, and fearless? What makes women “women,” so wise, beautiful, and gentle? It may be hard to explain, but the truth is canyons deeper than egalitarian dogma.

Women, we may say, are more than mirrored men. They not the same, and they’re not mean to be.

Take character traits, for instance. Women are strong, yes. Trailblazing, yes. Fearless, yes. And yet, all so and more in their own, very not-masculine way. They don’t mirror men, but add something that would otherwise be lost.

To put it another way, the world would be a much uglier, smellier place without women. There would be far less concern for aesthetic beauty, style, fragrance, color, and light. Men would have a reduced interest (not no interest, though) in deeper interpersonal questions.  Houses might more often remain painted in hospital white, decorated with movie posters and sports figurines. Most everyone would drive pick-up trucks.

Many of these examples are simplified, but the point remains that women are more, far more, than mirrored men.

As a culture, we reduce the personhood of a woman when we insist that she must be the same as a man. We ought to say emphatically that she must not be the same as a man. She is not made to be his mirror, but his glory, his helper, his well-fitted mate and gift and love.

On Christian (Un)Citizens

1 Peter 2:11-17  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Nearly caught in the kind of teaching trap those of us educators are familiar with, Jesus tells the Jews in Luke 20:25 to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” and He leaves it at that. He doesn’t elaborate much, because the situation didn’t call for it. It was meant to be a crafty ploy (20:23) to get Him to slip up.

But it got me thinking: what does it mean to be a Christian (un)citizen?

God teaches us plainly that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20). So what does it mean to be a citizen of heaven while living on earth?

Without the time to go into all the details, Christians recently have struggled with two gross extremes: militant escapism and foolish assimilation. Or, more directly, being citizens of heaven that don’t live on earth vs. being citizens of earth that aren’t bound for heaven.

This is where Peter helps us immensely. Recall the context of 1 Peter: Peter was writing to suffering Christians to encourage them to hold on to Jesus in the midst of terrifying troubles.  So it might seem odd that he writes a section on honoring the government and its officers.

Notice that verse 11 has the encouragement to avoid “passions of the flesh which wage war against the soul,” then moves right into a discussion about . . . obeying authorities? This must be a bigger deal than we realize.

Verse 12 says that this conduct outlined in verses 13-17 is what will glorify God in front of the Gentiles, that is, in front of the unbelieving but watching world. Living under the authority of emperors and governors as “servants of God” is what shows the watching world that we are, in fact, not citizens of this world. What a strange concept?

Who would have thought that neither escapism nor assimilation was our calling?! So what is our calling, brothers and sisters? To fear God and honor everyone as He calls, including our (ever-so-often failing) government.

As to how exactly this ought to work with other callings (like standing up for the unborn, clarifying the meaning of marriage, voting regularly, etc.), we will work out in a future post.

Afflicting the Unconverted

Mike McKinley’s Together for the Gospel 2012 talk about preaching to self-deceived unbelievers in our churches is full of gems. Here’s one:

“[Self-help teaching] only creates high-functioning citizens of hell.”

The whole thing is worth listening to, particularly if you don’t realize the effect of so-called “cultural Christianity.”

As McKinley reminds us, Christianity is a radical thing, not something you slide into because it’s convenient. It is our job, as believers, to help people see their true spiritual state.

A Family Better than a Billion Bars

Working the late-night shift lately I’ve seen how easy it is for single men (and, sadly, too many married men) to architect shaky “friendships” with women. These men drink, they party, they say dirty things to these women and their friends. Despite themselves, they might even get a few phone numbers.

But what they never get is a real relationship. Not out there, at the Irish bar at two in the morning anyway.

What’s more is this: I know that I could easily be out there with them, if not for the mercy of God.

I would be out there with them because I enjoy hanging out with women. God made women beautiful, but not mainly on the outside. Ladies have a kind of joy, gentleness, compassion, and love for people that men like me find baffling.

So instead of leaving me to seek such false friendships in an unsafe, foolish, and evil way (read: flirting and fornication), my good Lord gave me a mother who exemplifies each of those. So I was blessed to know and grow up with my godly mother.

Through her prayers, God brought me my wife, whose beauty shines in her character, full of love, compassion, and service, then it shines through in her appearance. She is my glory, and I am blessed to know and be known by her better than anyone.

Though my wife, God gave me daughters to know and love. In their lives, I see how God has particularly shaped young women to show off Jesus.

And through the rest of my family, grandmothers, my mother-in-law, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, and nieces to boot, God has give me a family literally full of godly women. In such a family, He graciously protects me from my sin while showing me the beauty of Jesus in the character of these godly women. I am truly blessed.

The Bible teaches the same principle in places like 1 Timothy 5:1-2:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

While there is always more to the Scriptures and never less, one of the things Paul is teaching Timothy is that, in the Lord, we have safe familial relationships in the church. Men, we are meant to treat younger women as sisters, not lust-targets. We know this because God says we are to encourage these ladies “in all purity.”

In the Lord, I have a family better than a billion bars. I praise Him for my wife and the so many more godly women in my life.

“Our Religion is What We Do”

An Investigation into the Ethos of One Mainline Liberal Protestant Non-Profit

Mainline liberal Protestantism has a lot of ills, which are better chronicled and dissected elsewhere; but, in a recent conversation, one came to the forefront. This is how it went:

  • Mainline liberal Protestant leader: We want you to understand that we are a Christian organization, but we’re not religious.
  • Me: What does that mean?
  • MLPL: Well, we believe in the teachings of Jesus, and we teach our children about a relationship with God and a belief in a ‘higher power.’
  • Me: So what is this relationship with God based on?
  • MLPL: Our religion is who we are, it’s what we do, it’s how we live.

Now, to understand the context, we need to back up. This organization for which the MLP leader spoke does present itself as a Christian operation, even taking their name from one of Christ’s miracles. As with many Christian social aid organizations, they receive donations from both individuals and Christian organizations, including (in all likelihood) several local churches.

So, at the very least, churches that are supposed to beacon the gospel are support this organization instead. But, someone might read this and say, what’s so bad about that?

Deceptive and Disorienting
From the first statement, I knew where we were headed: this leader meant to confuse and mislead people by her use of terms. To say “we are Christian, but not religious,” in her own usage, means that Christ is a personal tiny-idol who has no bearing on their operation but to be a prayer cuckhold.

Now, this is surely worth another post, but only in the Bible belt could we countenance such Christ-hating lies (see below) with a smile. Only in the South could such a leader raise money under the name of Jesus, then turn around and spit on His name. And to have the gaul to say that this is the essence of “Progressive Christianity.”

“We’re a Christian organization, but we’re not religious,” only means, “We want everyone outside to think we’re Christian, but our program will refuse to follow Him so as to remain acceptable to all the unbelievers involved. We are dry water, living death, holy idolatry.”

Anti-Truth and Anti-Theology
The second statement, that this organization holds to the teachings of Jesus and teaches students about a persona dei non descripta and their relationship with him (her? it?), is a clarifying summary of many MLP’s approach to truth and theology. This is to say, that in any biblically recognizable way, many don’t believe in truth or theology.

“Whoa! That’s a big blanket statement! Aren’t you being unfair?” Well, with respect to this one conversation’s context and intent, no. To this particular leader of this particular organization, the Bible’s truth had no bearing on her leadership, the program’s goals, and the lives of their students. Worse, this truth had long been divorced from the Christ who is its depth of meaning and rich fountain of life:

  • Jesus is the Truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6).
  • Christ is the Storehouse of wisdom and knowledge: “In whom [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” (Colossians 2:3).
  • Christ is the personal revelation of God’s truth: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” (John 1:17).
  • Truth leads back to Christ: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15).

In other words, an organization who cares not to describe God according to the Bible cares not for the real Jesus Christ, who is the personal fulfillment and embodiment of that truth.

God-less, Christ-less Religion
This all brings us to the last statement, which now is particularly revealing. When pressed on the basis for her beliefs, all this leader could answer was: “The religion I’m talking is all about me! Me! Not God! Me! It’s how I live, not who He is!” To her, following Jesus had nothing to do with faith, but everything to do with works.

To put it another way, she had all cart and no horse. The cart could be hitched to anything; here it is hitched to a vague deity of your own choosing, who happens to look a lot like you. Such a statement is me-magnifying idolatry of the lowest order.

Me-centered religion is no religion in the old sense of the term at all. It is no face-to-face-ness with God, no worship of Him at all. It excludes God and His Christ for an image made in the likeness of man. This leader’s god was found in the mirror, not the Scriptures.

Stop the Charade; Warn the Wicked
Because of these things, I’ll be writing the board of this particular organization to notify them of the God-hating things that they have authorized in the name of Jesus. No organization should take Christ’s name and spit on His face in the Word, and we must rebuke the wicked. “But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul,” (Ezekiel 33:9).

God Hates Self-Esteem

Finding the word, idea, or even a synonym for “self-esteem” in the Bible is harder to find than a leprechaun in China. It’s a magic pot-o’-gold that many evangelicals have married, hung their theological hats upon (ahem, Pelagians), ten thousand times preached upon, and based entire books and sets of curricula upon without ever finding it in the Scriptures. Probably because they didn’t want to.

Which is why I’m writing this post. Though I once saw a church try to “correct” this error by affixing “Christ-centered” before the phrase “self-esteem,” such lyrical hypocrisy does no good when the Bible stampedes through.

So, as I’ve said in public many times, the way our culture and many churches use “self-esteem” has no biblical warrant at all. In fact, it has much the opposite. God hates self-esteem. He despises it. He says things like:

  • In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
    all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” (Psalm 10:4)
  • The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
    Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
    and perverted speech I hate.(Proverbs 8:4)
  • “Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man
    who acts with arrogant pride. (Proverbs 21:24)
  • For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of
    himself more highly
    than he ought to think, but to think with sober
    judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. (Romans 12:3)

And you might say, “But, wait, doesn’t God want us to like ourselves?” Or you might throw a biblical tank-top over it: “Doesn’t God want us to enjoy His image in us?” Or you might even try a scriptural suckerpunch with: “Loving ourselves is a command. It’s the second greatest commandment.”

But those responses are all the same. Our American mindset is so wildly, so blatantly, so self-blindingly me-me-me-me-centered that we take even the plainest of scriptural anti-pride warnings, the stamping of the image of God, and the neighbor-love command and turn them on their head, bloody nose and all. We are the robbers, hiding in the bushes, waiting to beat the student-traveler. The Bible is the Good Samaritan.

But there ought never to have been a beating on our wandering friends, and by the church, no less.

God hates self-esteem for good reason: it is a wicked offense, an unholy hatred, a dirty desire against His holy name. Psalm 10:4 says that pride speaks only, “There is No God.” But that, friends, is a lie. The Living God will not wait long to hear it. He will return.

Scared of Nothing, or Bold as a Lion?

The wicked flee when no one is pursuing,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

I recently reminded a student that if he felt guilty when no one was looking, he probably was right on one count. He was guilty, and God was the one looking.

Our consciences, fallen as they are, often tell the truth. When we’re worried about someone looking over our shoulder, it’s because we crossed the line into sin. We know we’ve sinned, that’s why we’re looking around for a “pursuer” who is there only in the unseen spiritual realm. But our conscience tell us He’s still there.

Contrary to selfish-shoulder-gazers, the righteous knows his actions are righteous because his heart is righteous. Therefore, he is “bold as a lion.” He needs not look over his shoulder for a pursuer who isn’t there; there are plenty of real enemies! Jesus promises as much, that “if the world hated Me, so it will hate you.” But the righteous are simply that: righteous by faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen on our behalf; so the righteous are afraid of nothing.

Jesus has already won the battle over sin, Satan, death, and condemnation; so we live in the strength and boldness that He supplies, that in everything He may get the glory (1 Peter 4:11).

So are you gazing over behind your own back today, or living boldly for the Lion of Judah?

Enstasy vs. Ecstasy

How often have you heard lines like these?

  • Well, I hope you enjoy yourself.
  • You just need to learn to be okay with yourself.
  • I can be happy all by myself.
  • When I look at myself, I’m happy with me.

Sentiments such as these seem to permeate American, me-centered culture. Indeed, they must, since our atheology is built on self. We espouse enstasy, which is the state of standing inside one’s self.

America loves self-esteem, self-confidence, enstasy; therefore, we know nothing of ecstasy. Enstasy robs us of ecstasy, which is literally the standing outside of one’s self. Enstasy and ecstasy cannot coexist.

Isn’t the etymology interesting? “En-” always means “inside, into;” and “ec-/ex-” always means “outside, out from.” These two words give us a window into the dichotomy of desiring delight in ourselves versus pursuing pleasure in another.

One verse (of many) that helps us see this in the Scriptures is 2 Timothy 3:4, where God tells us to avoid such people of the last days (our days) that are “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant . . . not loving good . . . swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Notice here that the source of this false appearance of godliness is a love of self and pleasure rather than God. This is different than saying that God is not pleasurable. Paul is speaking here of a selfish pleasure, an enstatic pleasure rather than an ecstatic one found in God. How wildly, maniacally egocentric we are, to believe that loving our ugly selves can produce more pleasure than loving God!

The truth is that there is no real pleasure to be found in loving ourselves, because we are finite, sinful, and not worth gazing at for long. We were made for something more, something for which Jesus redeemed all who will believe: to be happy in God alone. This is true ecstasy.

Are Short-Term Trips a Waste of Cash?

Funny that I should post this, considering that I’ll likely be going on a STM in the near future, but the issues are still worth thinking about. Do short-term missions do more harm than good? And are the whole idea really just a feel-good cash-dump that benefits American egos and international travel moguls?:

Most “mission trips” I’ve seen reminded me of the Billy Crystal movie, City Slickers. I get negative feedback from Malawians. One student told me that when vacationaries show up at his village and start taking pictures, it makes the people “feel like animals in a zoo.”

In a country with 80% unemployment, they may resent watching Americans doing construction work they might have been hired to do. They needed the work, and they didn’t need to buy airplane tickets.

One group of 27 American teenagers came out and painted half a building on campus while surrounded by $60 a month Malawian workers. Then they got on a bus and went on a day trip to view Lake Malawi. The Malawians finished painting the building. I was told the teenagers raised $3500 apiece to come (total: $94,500) – to paint half a building.

Think about the Taj Mahal in India. Think about the Pyramids in Egypt. People living overseas can paint and do construction work.

Does it ever occur to anyone that most of the money spent on “mission trips” goes to the travel industry, not to the people living in the target area? Try googling “mission trip.” You’ll get hundreds of web sites of organizations that want to help your church organize your mission trip. It has become a major industry.

One pastor on a “mission trip” had me step aside while he taught my class for a week. I wonder how he’d respond if I showed up at his church and said I wanted to preach in his pulpit.

Meanwhile career missionaries struggle to raise and maintain the support they need for things like health insurance and retirement. When my late wife was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, we had no health insurance; we had dropped it because we couldn’t afford the premiums. I think about that when the vacationaries ride past my house in a bus.

Cash Can’t Console You at 1:00am

Or Why Billionaires Remain Unlikely Lifelong Friends

Proverbs 18:24:

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Ruminating on what exactly troubled me about the movie I had just watched, I realized that it wasn’t the protagonist’s penchant for biting sarcasm, nor his razor-edged insults, nor in his inability to dress for any occasion. What bothered me about the lead character in The Social Network was the fact that he sacrificed his best friend for a billion dollars.

Mark traded a friendship with Eduardo, perhaps his only decent friend, for a chance to grow his company. We would quickly ask, “Why?”; but, to the world, the answer is simple: “Money.”

But, as Christians, those of us who believe that the love of money is the root of all evil, who believe that heaven-held treasures are better than earth’s, who believe that Jesus Christ died and lives for sinners to turn from sins like money-lust, that answer simply won’t suffice. We believe in things like faithfulness, honor, friendship, loyalty, and oath-keeping, because we believe in a God who is and does all of those things.

We ought never trade a friend for money, not for $5 or $50 billion. In exchange for a friend, money just isn’t worth it.

What It Looks Like to Trade Evil for Good

To my shame, I have been tempted to remain in a dishonest, shameful job just to make another paycheck. God corrected and instructed me through Thomas Watson’s excellent book, The Godly Man’s Picture, where he writes:

The godly are of a brave, heroic spirit. . . They will not enrich their purses by enslaving their consciences. (p. 200)

But there have been times that I have not known how to distinguish the evil of the world that surrounds me. How do we become brave when we don’t know what we’re fighting? So the King of Wisdom uses passages like Isaiah 5:20:

Woe to those who say the evil is good and the good is evil,
Who get darkness for light and light for darkness,
Who set bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Isaiah here uses three phrases to say one thing, further reinforcing and applying the same truth each time.

  1. Evil for Good“: This makes us think of ethics, morals, and values. Simple matters of good vs. evil come up first. Some things are so plainly good and evil that only the insanely demonic cannot recognize them. But this judgment of “woe!” is not only for these things…
  2. Darkness for Light“: The nature of trading darkness for light tells us that many of these evils will be perpetuated in the shadows. It is incumbent upon us, then, to be able to discern the light from the darkness, even in the shadows. God demands our discernment, for the wicked will take evil, hide it in the darkness, then shine a flashlight on part of it to make it look “good.”
  3. Bitter for Sweet“: Not only may evil be hidden in the darkness and called “light,” and the good taken out of the light to be called “evil,” but good and evil may be wrongly seasoned. At this third level, after pure essential righteousness/unrighteousness and then how each is perceived (the level of perception), we now arrive at how issues are brought to bear on the spiritual “taste” or immediate senses.

    The wicked will not only take evil and lighten a piece of it (“Women’s rights!” rather than “Child murder!”) but will also try to make this evil taste sweet rather than bitter (“Isn’t it a good thing that we stand up for women? You should, too.”).

Taken together, these three images show that there is no end to the brazen and nuanced wickedness of men. Will we never cease to lie to Nth degree about God’s righteousness? Will we ever continue to murder justice and exalt its murder?

But thanks be to God, who has won the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ, who knew the good from the evil as soon as He came of age (Isaiah 7:14-17), died for such wicked sinners, rose from death, and will return to right it all at the end.

Discipline Drives It Out, Fast

Or: The Hard Way, The Easy Way, and Love vs. Death at the Dinner Table

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.
Proverbs 23:13-14 ESV

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.
Hebrews 12:5-6, quoted from Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV

My wife and I noticed something the other day. For all of our cultural wranglings about “don’t discipline your children, just let them do whatever they want, blah blah blah, ad infinitum;” discipline poses a much better way: deal with the problem and move on.

As Ted Tripp explains in his excellent, God-centered book on parenting (and parenting yourself) Shepherding a Child’s Heart, parents must both teach constantly and discipline as needed. But when the discipline comes, the parent must deal with it in private by:

  1. making it clear how our child broke the family rule,
  2. repeating the promised consequence,
  3. giving the consequence,
  4. affirming our love for our child with hugs and words,
  5. praying for our child,
  6. and leaving together happily.

This is leaps and bounds easier than doing it the “easy” way! So many lazy parents prefer to coddle their child’s fanciful foolishness while ruining his character, their guests’ good graces, and other parents’ discernment!

Take a (not so?) imaginary dinner, for example, in which a three-year-old begins to disobey her parents at the table. The biblically wise parent will take the child aside, deal with the problem with immediate consequences and love, and return happily. And when discipline is correctly and consistently practiced, both will forget the trouble of five minutes prior.

The foolish parent, however, will continue to tolerate their disobedient preschooler until she becomes a nuisance to the entire table, thus making the “easy way” rather hard on everyone else and making a harder, deadlier way for both parent and child. If one guest was offended at the wise parent’s immediate action, the whole table is astonished at this child’s mutiny and her parents’ cowardice.

Should a king be afraid of an infant? Never. He must love as God does.

So which way is easier? Make a straight way for your child in the short and long run, or turn a blind eye and pave a path to disobedient death? We’ve found the answer to be simpler than counting to three.

Sex is the Inhabiting of Faith

In an interview with Christianity Today about her new book, Making Chastity Sexy, Wheaton professor Christine Gardner contrasts American approaches to teaching abstinence with those in Africa. This quote was particularly helpful:

By daily acting on that commitment [abstinence], young people understand through their bodies what it means to become more like Christ. It’s essentially a call to holiness that the Scriptures give us. It’s just like practicing scales on a piano if you want to become a concert pianist. It’s practicing abstinence that allows young people to inhabit their faith commitments in practical and tangible ways.

Let’s think about that for a moment. How a young man handles his own body (and a young woman’s) speaks volumes about the verity of his faith in Jesus Christ. How a young woman practices holiness in her body (and in how she pictures that body to the young men around her) displays the truth of her discipleship under Jesus Christ.

Examples include:

  • Our thinking about sex, dating, and marriage reveals the depth of our trust in God’s Word to speak clearly into these issues.
  • Our approach to various opposite-sex relationships shows our grasp of the gospel’s application to conversation, non-verbal communication, and idolatry.
  • Our practice of the command to “make no provision for the flesh” testifies to whether or not we have “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14).
  • Our honesty about our own relational and/or sexual struggles and failures tells whether we have trusted in Jesus to take our guilt, our shame, and our condemnation.
  • Our departure from those failures, in repentance and faith, exhibits our grip on the gospel’s power to bring new life.

By the Holy Spirit, God calls us to trust Christ fully, in every area of our lives. Sex is simply the inhabiting of this faith. When we fail, repentance is in order, that we might inhabit the steps of Jesus once again, trusting Him for the power to deny selfish lusts.

Can We Invite a Heretic to Dinner and Call Him a Christian?

Such is the discussion going on around “The Elephant Room” event inviting anti-trinitarian preacher and writer T.D. Jakes. For his part, Thabiti Anyabwile says no, you can’t:

This isn’t on the scale of Piper inviting Warren.  This is more akin to Augustine inviting Muhammad.  This invitation gives a platform to a heretic.

HT: JT

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