Four Changes the Church can Make that Will Help Save Both the Church and the Culture-

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and exhort, with great patience and instruction– 2nd Timothy 4:2 NASB

The culture is clearly in trouble.  

Seriously. All you have to do is turn on any news channel anytime day or night and it quickly becomes apparent we are a culture on the threshold of moral and civil ruin. We are more divided than we have ever been. Few non-Christians are able to reason through even the most basic and obvious of moral or even common-sense truths. The majority is bound and determined to scorn anything even remotely healthy or wholesome especially if it is thought to be traditionally “Christian”. 

The church is also in trouble. 

 Many Christians have foolishly absorbed the values and messages of the culture. Rather than being brokenhearted by the moral absurdity, many Christians have adopted the same values as those in the culture. Some actively encourage the church to conform on a myriad of issues that were once considered settled from a biblical standpoint. 

The outcome of these two intersecting realities has been disastrous for the church and the culture the church is called to influence and reform. There is little chance for improvement without a speedy course correction. 

That being said.

God is still on His throne and He still good. God is still in the business of redemption and He still does His best work through His people.  God is calling us be the reforming and healing presence this world needs right now. In order to do that we must take a hard look at what is being taught in the church as well as the values the church has absorbed from the culture.  Some corrections are needed. The following four changes would be a good place to start. 

Teach church people that truth cannot become a slave to feelings- 

For a long time, our society accepted the idea that there was no such thing as absolute truth (post-modernism). There were some clear problems with this perspective. The existence of literally billions of easily demonstrable facts being one of the most obvious issues. In recent years many people who argued against the notion of absolute truth have come around and now believe there is such a thing. However, those same folks say truth doesn’t matter, because an individual’s feelings concerning an issue are more important than truth. In other words, truth has become a slave to feelings.  This has been a disaster. It is the number one reason our culture is in intellectual and spiritual chaos. The church cannot control what the culture does or dictate how people think. However, churches can and should teach their own people that feelings, as powerful as they might can will never matter more than what is true. 

Teach the depravity of man- 

Christian leaders made a conscious decision years ago to ditch or at least deemphasize the doctrine of absolute depravity. Absolute depravity is the belief that human beings are completely corrupt and sinful and incapable of saving themselves through good works (Mark 10:18, Job 25:6, Romans 3:12). However, most churches kept teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation. This led to a great deal of confusion in both the culture and the church. Many think they are awesome “just the way they are” and conclude they don’t need really need Jesus to save them. Others commit themselves to Jesus, not because they are convinced they need Him, but, because they hope Jesus will make them a little bit better than they already are. Without a clear understanding of our need for Jesus (complete depravity) salvation becomes optional sin becomes much easier to both justify and celebrate. Until we return to teaching this critical truth there will be confusion in both the church and the culture concerning the role Jesus plays in our lives.   

Make church a place where questions are welcome but some answers are fixed and unchanging- 

Asking questions is how people learn. Therefore, questions, even tough questions should always be welcome in Christianity. That said, there are some answers that can never change. Christians must stick to their guns on the trustworthiness of the Bible, the way of salvation, the absoluteness of moral truth and what God says about gender and sexuality. If we don’t, all will be lost.  

Embrace the complexity and struggle that comes with loving people like Jesus loved people- 

Jesus routinely spent quality time with sinners’ others were quick to spurn. However, that does not mean He was willing to endorse sinful choices or celebrate depravity. Jesus was quick to remind those He loved they were on a path that would eventually lead to their destruction (John 8:11, Matthew 4:17, Luke 3:7-9, Luke 13:1-5). A willingness to love people while telling them the truth about where their choices will lead them captures the essence of authentic Christian love.  This kind of love is complex and difficult to walk out. Nonetheless, we must find ways to live out our faith in such a way we communicate both love for people and disapproval of their sinful actions.  

As long as we are drawing breath there is always hope and I have hope for both the church and the culture. That said, hope is not a strategy. Christians must work to bring truth back into both the church and the culture. If we don’t we will lose both.    

Why we all Need to get our Butts Back in the Church Building-

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.  – Acts 2:42 NIV 

According to Pew Research Center as of March 2021 almost half (forty-three percent) of church members have yet to return to in-person church services. A forty-three percent loss of almost anything is at best unsustainable. At worst such a loss could prove fatal. 

Think about it. 

If a family were to suddenly lose forty-three percent of their savings, the loss would create untold chaos in their financial future. If a nation were to lose forty-three percent of their population the nation would inevitably become weak, ineffectual and find themselves at the mercy of their enemies. The church is no different. A forty-three percent loss of regular attenders is no small deal. 

I totally get that there are some individuals who cannot or should not go back to in-service church attendance at this time.

For the record; 

Elderly folks unable or unwilling to get the COVID vaccine, get a pass on returning to in-person services. The immune compromised, or parents with an immune compromised child are also exempt from returning to in-person services at this time. Those with serious comorbidities who cannot or do not wish to take the vaccine, get a pass on resuming in-person church attendance at least for now. 

Everyone else needs to get their butts back in the church building. 

Pronto. 

Here’s why:

It’s not necessarily going to be smooth sailing from here- 

I do not fancy myself a prophet. That said, the culture has taken a turn for the worse and every fiber of my being tells me that the shaking God has given our world over the course of the last fifteen months is not even close to being over (Hebrews 12:25-27). God will continue to shake our world until people respond to Him in repentance (Revelation 9:20). What the shaking will look like and where it will end are questions far above my meager paygrade.  Nonetheless, it’s not over. More trouble and hardship is coming and the body of Christ will likely not be exempt from the trouble (1st Peter 4:17). If I’m right Christians will need the encouragement and connection they can only get from the body of Christ in order to continue their growth as believers (Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:24-26) When Christians fail to grow spiritually they run the risk their faith will die a slow and painful death that could end in apostasy (Hebrews 6:1-9, Matthew 24:9-11).  Church community is critical because it prevents apostasy.  

The church needs all hands-on deck to accomplish the mission of the Church- 

The mission of the church is clear (Matthew 28:18-19). The church is to proclaim the gospel and make disciples. To accomplish this end church leaders are commanded to teach and train all believers to live out the truth of the gospel so they can reach their unsaved friends and family with the gospel (Ephesians 4:10-12). This task is massive. It demands the whole-body work together to accomplish the mission (Romans 12:4-6, 1st Corinthians 12:17). If one person stays home or refuses to do their part a ball gets dropped that ensures the whole body is less effective than they could have been. 

Christians need the church to stay anchored and spiritually healthy-

Without a solid church to anchor a person to the faith individual believers either drift away from Christianity altogether or they begin to adopt strange theories and attitudes regarding God and Scripture. Strange beliefs make it very difficult to reach others with the gospel. These things happen without the person even realizing they are happening. Regular community involvement in a local church is the only way to prevent drift from taking place and eccentric beliefs from taking root. 

There are some things you cannot experience while watching a screen- 

Online attendance has its limits. It is possible to get the essence of a sermon from an online format. That said, it is impossible to experience unity and connection with other believers alone in your living room. It is also impossible to experience the knitting together of the body that takes place when the whole church worships their God in one accord (Acts 2:42-47, Revelation 7:9-10). It is also impossible to effectively use one’s individual gifts to grow the body of Christ while isolated from the body of Christ. We need each other for all these things.  

This pandemic is winding down- 

An estimated thirty percent of the population has recovered from COVID-19 and has natural immunity, another fifty percent of the population has had at least one COVID vaccination. This is a clear indicator it is time for God’s people to ditch their fear and get back to the business of living hard for Jesus.  

The bottom-line in all this is that we go to church because God tells us to and it is the pattern we see throughout the entire Bible. We cannot say we love God and refuse to do what He says (John 14:15, 1st John 5:2, Hebrews 10:25) at least not without experiencing dire consequences. In this case consequences could include a slow separation from God that gives the devil a foothold in our lives and place for sin and even apostasy to take root. Nobody who really knows Jesus wants that. In order to prevent it we all need to get our butts back into the church building. 

Now.  

The Real Reason we are Miserable-

There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths– Job 24:13 NIV 

Humans lucky enough to live in Western countries exist in a time when all people— regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status have more rights, more comforts, more freedoms and more opportunities than those at any other time in history. Our ancient ancestors likely lacked the mental framework and practical experience to even dream of a time like ours, where both men and women of any station in life have the right to live freely, pursue their dreams and follow their desires anywhere they lead. Life in the twenty-first century is not perfect. There is always room for improvement in a fallen world. That being said, life is, in most respects better than it’s ever been.   

All that being provably true. It is also true that those who live in Western countries are becoming meaner and more personally miserable with each passing day.  

Crime and acts of violence have become bizarrely commonplace in some places. Random citizens minding their own business have been physically attacked by complete strangers for no good reason. Attempting to ruin the reputation and careers of those with opposing viewpoints (canceling people) has become a routine reaction to opinions and beliefs that make some uncomfortable. 

Furthermore. 

The 2019 World Happiness Report reports that people everywhere are feeling far less happy and personally content than in previous times.  This is true for all Western countries, all age groups and for those from every socio-economic situation. This almost universal feeling of despondency has led to more depression, more anxiety, more substance abuse and more self-harm. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-harm create a cycle of loneliness, isolation and hopelessness which leads to even more depression, anxiety, substance abuse and self-harm.  Sigh. 

The question is why? 

Truth-be-told not many in our culture are truly oppressed, abused or burdened by life. Neither are the majority hungry, without shelter or lacking in basic human needs. Most in Western countries have an almost unlimited access to education, entertainment and creature comforts previous generations could only dream of. In spite of these blessings many fight a sense of hopelessness and unhappiness. For some this leads to a desire to hurt or punish anyone who is different from themselves. 

So, why, have we as a culture become so mean and miserable? 

The answer is not all that complicated. Our culture concluded decades ago that the whole notion there is a God who has a right to tell us what to do and how to live is silly, foolish, antiquated and possibly even evil. The majority believes deep down that they are the ultimate authority of what is right and wrong, good and evil. For the most part humanity has kicked God to the curb. Most individuals operate as if they are their own God. 

It’s not working out super well. 

 Society has rejected the obvious reality of male and female, instead embracing the madness that human gender is a choice we get to make (Genesis 1:26). Humans have also concluded God’s design for the family is irrelevant and unnecessary. Instead the culture has embraced single-parent families as a norm to be celebrated rather than a sometimes necessary but always unfortunate reality of living in a fallen world. These choices have had devastating consequences. The epidemic of single parenting has resulted in many Moms and Dads being far less focused on raising their offspring than on finding the “love of their life”. This has left millions of children to more or less raise themselves looking for answers to life’s biggest questions from gangs, sexual relationships and the drug culture. Our cultures insistence on going our own way in the arena of sexuality has guaranteed that both boys and girls lack proper role models for marriage and family. This ensures that the cycle of sexual and family dysfunction will continue for generations to come. The masses have chosen to reject God. The choice to hate or even simply to ignore God always causes pride and self-sufficiency to take root in the hearts of those who make that choice. Pride and a self-sufficient spirit inevitably leads to hostility and fear of “the other” leading to random acts of violence and vicious power struggles between people groups. 

What we are experiencing in our culture is not weird.  It is simply the natural consequence of rejecting God and ignoring the mission He gave mankind (Genesis 1:27-28).

The church cannot control what the culture thinks or does. 

However, church people can choose to be the salt and light this world so desperately and obviously needs right now. Being salt and light begins with the routine habit of examining ourselves to see if we are really living out the reality that God is (2nd Corinthians 13:5). If some part of our lives does not align with the Bible we need to make immediate changes. Not just because God does not bless sin but more importantly because it is our responsibility as Christians to live our lives for God and in obedience to God. When we do that the world sees that God’s design for sex and family works and that human beings are the most joyful, most fulfilled and least hateful when they are living out God’s mission for humanity (Deuteronomy 6:5, Micah 6:8, 1st Peter 2:17) 

How Conflict can Actually Save A Marriage-

So, I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you wont be doing what your sinful nature craves.  Galatians 5:16 NLT

 I have had the opportunity to see a lot of marriages go the distance. Unfortunately, through the years I have also seen a lot of divorces.

Because the vast majority of my friends are Christians, most of the divorces I have witnessed were between couples I am convinced are genuine Christians.  The saddest and most common divorces have been between what I call “long-haulers”.

Long-haulers are couples who stay quietly but miserably married for two, sometimes three or even four decades. Then, seemingly out of nowhere the couple announces to the shock of everyone they know they are divorcing. 

Divorce is always sad but these types of divorces are heartbreaking on multiple levels. These couples almost always feel as if they have “wasted” the best, most productive years of their life in a relationship that brought little real intimacy or joy. Long-haulers nearly always have kids, grandkids, a vast network of friends and a church family who are all psychologically, emotionally and/or spiritually impacted by the divorce. And finally, there is nearly always a disturbing lack of emotional, spiritual and sometimes even intellectual growth in long-haulers. Sometimes this is due to sin in the lives of the couple. However, most of the time the lack of growth occurs because both partners are too busy trying to manage the pain of the relationship to focus on their own spiritual development and health (Hebrews 2:1-3). 

The “reason” given for divorce in these types of marriages is almost always the hazy, vague catch-all term: “irreconcilable differences”. In most cases “irreconcilable differences” really means there was conflict in the marriage that was never really dealt with openly (Ephesians 4:26). The unresolved issue became, over time, a cancer in the relationship that eventually led to the death of the relationship. Sometimes the conflict was over sex.  Either they didn’t have much of it at all over the course of the marriage or one person in the relationship was having way more of it than the other (Exodus 20:14, 1st Corinthians 7:3-5, 1st Corinthians 6:18).  Sometimes, the conflict was over communication. At some point it broke down and they stopped talking about everything in life that really matters, leading to isolation.  Other times the conflict was over things as mundane as the division of labor in the relationship or as complex as money and how its allocated in the marriage. 

Here’s the thing:

Every long-hauler I have known has admitted that their marriage probably could have been saved if they had been willing to deal with the problems in the relationship early on. Many have also revealed they feared that having a fight would make the problems worse. Their fear kept them from initiating conflict that might have led to relational healing and a restoration of intimacy. 

The 5th Century Chinese military leader Sun Tzu said “sometimes the path to peace is war”. Nowhere is this truer than in marriage. Conflicts that bring issues out into the open where they can be discussed and dealt with openly are the only path to true peace in a relationship.  Following are four ways to leverage conflict for a healthy marriage:  

If there’s a problem find a way to discuss it- 

It doesn’t matter what kind of problems are present in the marriage. The problem can be sex, kids, interactions with parents, chores or money. The reality is any problem that gets pushed to the margins does not actually go anywhere.  All this does is give the problem space to fester and grow. At some point it will begin having an adverse effect on the rest of the relationship. If you can’t find a way to talk productively to each other get a professional involved. Whatever you do, don’t just hope the problems go away. They won’t. If you don’t fix it now the problem will still be there in thirty years and you will want a divorce. 

Deal with trust issues openly and honestly- 

Frequently, at the root of poor or blocked communication in marriage is a trust issue. This usually happens because there has been a history of shady behavior with one partner. Shady behavior can include emotional and/or physical affairs, use of pornography, verbal abuse, mishandling money or any other behavior that has caused one person to become distrustful of the other. The only way to deal with a trust issue is through talking about it openly so real healing can take place in the relationship. Oftentimes a professional is needed to help heal the hurt. 

No blaming or shaming when you talk about an issue- 

The problem should be the enemy not your partner. This means finding a way to deal with the issue at hand without being accusatory or cruel. 

No quitting till the problem is worked out- 

The most important rule in conflict management in marriage: no one gets to quit until the issues are truly resolved and healthy change has taken place in the relationship.

Marriage is meant to be a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His people. It is the place where children are nurtured into adulthood. If marriage is done right it becomes a safe place for two people to grow into the image of Jesus. Those are the things worth fighting hard for.

 Literally. 

Five Massive Errors the Church is Making Right Now-

You will know how people ought to conduct themselves in Gods household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth– 1st Timothy 3:15 NIV

Every generation of Christians has had its own unique set of excesses and errors. The 1980’s church was filled with dramatic personal “testimonies”. Many of which turned out to be crazy-pants lies. The 1990’s church became consumed with end times prophecy. Leaving many Christians looking like fanatical nut-jobs. The late 1990’s and 2000’s birthed the well-intended but tragically misguided purity movement. The movement inadvertently drove Christian dating completely underground and left a whole generation feeling an unhealthy level shame due to natural sexual desires intended to keep the human race in the business of reproduction.   

Sigh. 

Today’s church is struggling to share the gospel in a culture shaped by events in church world that have created a toxic spiritual environment for reaching the lost. In one sense our generation is no different. Like previous generations of believers, the spiritual mistakes and doctrinal errors of our time will be felt in the future. Believers in coming years will undoubtedly struggle to undo the consequences of our own unique lack of spiritual insight and wisdom. 

However. 

In some ways what this generation thinks and does matters more. Not because we are inherently more important than past generations. We’re not.  But because technology has given humanity the ability to spread bad ideas, misinformation, and wrong thinking faster than ever before. This is one of the reasons the church today is struggling in such profound ways. Thanks to advances in technology the spiritual errors and excesses of the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s had a much deeper reach into the culture than the errors and excesses of previous generations.  Following are a few of the more dangerous ideas floating around this generation. 

Starting with: 

I can be a Christian and reject everything the Bible teaches- 

No one can. It is true that no one comes to faith automatically believing the “right way”. We all have to be taught. It is also true that there is some room for disagreement on some of the particulars of what the “right way” is. However, to reject what God says about Himself as well His clear instructions pertaining to sexuality, gender and justice as well as His standards of right and wrong is to reject God Himself. One simply cannot reject God and still be a Christian. Period. It just doesn’t work like that.  

Bible knowledge doesn’t matter- 

This is usually preceded by a reference to 1st Corinthians 8:1 where Paul states “knowledge puffs up while love builds up”. Context is key here.  The apostle Paul wasn’t talking about spiritual or Bible knowledge in general terms. He was talking specifically about knowledge related to eating food that had once been sacrificed to an idol (1st Corinthians 8:1-13). Some Corinthian church members had become aware that food sacrificed to idols was just food and began openly and arrogantly eating that food in public spaces. This created all sorts of confusion for less-mature Christians who didn’t understand that food is just food. Some of them had rejected Jesus and returned to idol worship in response to the freedom they saw other Christians exercising. It would be absurd to assume the man who wrote well over half of the New Testament’s instructive passages was somehow opposed to people learning the Bible. It is true that people can become prideful about what they know about the Bible without really applying biblical truth to their lives. That does not make biblical ignorance somehow superior to spiritual knowledge.      

 Bible knowledge is the most important thing-

It is important, critical even. Those who do not acquire basic biblical knowledge rarely stay believers for very long (Matthew 13:18-23). That being said, knowledge is not the most important thing. Having our hearts transformed so we become a loving reflection of Jesus is (Romans 12:2, 2nd Corinthians 3:18, Colossians 3:1-17). However, even that requires at least rudimentary Bible knowledge. So, there’s that. 

Christians can be spiritually formed outside of spiritual community-  

Individual believers are always at their most healthy when they are living in community with other Christians (Acts 2:42-47). This is because God designed people to be like Him (Genesis 1:27). God is a community within Himself (Genesis 1:26, Isaiah 46:16, Matthew 3:16-17). As a result, we were literally made to need other Christians in order to grow and mature (1st Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:12, Hebrews 10:24-25). Without healthy community individual Christians either drift away from church altogether or they adopt strange pseudo-biblical beliefs that make it very hard for them to effectively share their faith. 

We don’t need to half the Church to make the Church work- 

Men and women were intended to work together to bring about God’s purposes in this world (Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 2:18). Anytime church leaders think they can do church without the contributions of half the church something valuable and vital will be missing in that church community. That loss will affect the churches ability to effectively reach the lost and disciple Christians God has placed in their care. 

The church in the west stands at a crossroads (Jeremiah 6:16). We can continue down the path we have been on for years. If we do, the church will continue to lose influence and we will see our culture continue to disintegrate into moral bedlam. The other option is to do the hard work of correcting the errors we have fallen into.  This route will be much more challenging but it will pay dividends that will be felt for generations.   

Four Ugly Truths Covid-19 Revealed in the Church World-

Disaster will come upon you, and you will not know how to conjure it away. A calamity will fall upon you that you cannot ward off with a ransom; a catastrophe you cannot foresewill suddenly come upon you– Isaiah 47:11 NIV 

The last fifteen months have been some of the weirdest, most challenging and most contentious of any in recent history. It feels as if the world is powder keg just waiting for the right kind of spark to set if off. Even in the Church, division over “what Christians should do” about masks, vaccines and staying home has become normal and sometimes totally contentious.  It’s convenient to blame the lack of respect, division and turmoil on COVID. It’s not as if the world were some sort of a utopia pre-COVID but it wasn’t anything like the flaming hot trash-fire we have come to know as the new normal. 

However. 

Logically, we should be moving past some of this turmoil and strife, especially in the church. Unfortunately, vaccines, higher survival rates and better over-all outcomes aren’t doing much of anything to heal the hurts of the past year. This goes a long way in proving that COVID isn’t the cause of our problems. All COVID has done is reveal the junk that has been simmering beneath the surface for decades.  Following are four issues that have contributed to the problems:

Our Faith is weak- 

One truth COVID has revealed is that Christianity in the west is a mile wide and an inch deep. From our Bible knowledge to our communities we have redefined shallow living and shallow learning. This is because few Christians routinely participate in basic Christian practices designed to keep their faith vibrant and healthy (routine prayer, reflective Bible reading, performing acts of charity, church attendance, and involvement in Christian community). Prior to COVID we were able to skate along attending Church 1.2 times a month and throwing up the occasional prayer when a huge need presented itself (Matthew chapters 5-7). Post-COVID it became woefully evident our shallow practices have not really anchored Christians to God or the church. 

There are those who love liberal social agendas more than they love God or even their own security- 

Seriously. There are. Our culture has actually come to a place where large numbers of people would rather suffer personal financial harm than implement a single traditional principal or idea. We see this most often in states where the economy is floundering and the people are badly overtaxed but residents keep reelecting leaders who support liberal social agendas because they love those agendas more than they want economic security.  This reality is a symptom of much bigger spiritual problems that will only be solved through repentance and revival.  

Christians want a single leader who will lead us into a “golden age of Christianity”- 

This sinful desire is at the heart of the celebrity culture that Christians have embraced with abandon over the course of the last three or four decades. Like the Israelites in the Old Testament Christians have longed for a “king” who will lead the modern church into an age of respectability and acceptance with the unsaved world (1stSamuel 8:5).  In a misguided effort to find a “leader” who will bring us the worldly status we crave, Christians have thrown themselves behind every twenty-year-old with a half-way decent idea or any smooth-talker who can build a big audience (1st Samuel 16:7). Then we wonder why these men and women inevitably end up in bed with someone they aren’t married to or denouncing Christianity altogether (1st Timothy 3:6-7). God isn’t going to bring a leader to save us. He already did that. His name is Jesus and the one the one thing we are promised is that following Jesus will not make us popular with anyone anywhere in the world (John 15:18). It’s time for us to embrace that reality and if we do God probably won’t bring us respectability but He will bring us a new level of effectiveness if we follow hard after Him rather than pine for a fallible human leader.  

Christians want a political savior- 

The desire for a powerful human leader is not limited to Church world. Many Christians long for a conservative political figure to step onto the scene to unite us as a people and fix the long list of social, legislative and moral problems we are currently grappling with. It’s not going to happen. At least not in the way we want it to happen, any leader who shows up on the scene at this point is almost guaranteed to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing (John 10:12). Rather than looking for a quick political fix Christians must learn to pray for wise leaders who will point people back to righteous living and personal responsibility. 

The season of COVID-19 ruling every aspect of our lives is hopefully coming to a close. However, that does not mean that the church should simply go back to all the things that got us to a place where we lacked the spiritual resources necessary to cope with a curveball like COVID-19. Instead, we should be looking to Jesus as our source of wisdom and direction in all things. We must seek out spiritual practices that lead to growth so that we can find ways to help other people grow.

This is the only effective way to prepare for what lies ahead. 

Why Government Can’t Save Society and What Can-

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it- Hebrews 12:11 ESV

A couple of recent events have got me thinking about all manner of things. 

On March 29th a thirteen-year-old-boy believed to be brandishing a gun was shot by police at 3:00 a.m. in Chicago. Three weeks later a sixteen-year-old girl in Ohio was fatally shot by police as she stabbed another girl. These events are hardly outliers. Reports of minor children being killed either by other minors or by police officers attempting to keep minors from committing a crime have become a fairly routine occurrence.  

Many are quick to blame police and police tactics for these heartbreaking stories. Anytime a tragedy occurs involving a kid and cop a glut of Monday-morning quarterbacks crawl out of the metaphorical woodwork to second-guess prevailing police tactics and/or the character of the officer involved in the shooting. Others are eager to blame “society” for not caring more about the kids involved. Typically, the lack of care is attributed entirely to the child’s race, sex or socio-economic status. 

 Blaming either feels like the easy way out to me. 

 When we blame society for our problems what we are really doing is blaming the government. One of the more peculiar qualities of modern thought is the belief that government is the answer to all our problems.  We tend to forget that “the government” is a heartless, soulless, nebulous machine entirely lacking in human feeling, wisdom or insight. There are good people who work in government. I know some of them. However, the government is not emotionally nimble enough to view people as individuals. Neither is government capable of teaching good habits, imparting insight or training a child to put others first or think wisely about life. 

Neither is it fair to lay the blame for these situations at the feet of the police. Truth-be-told the police are not, nor were they ever intended to be anything other than the last line of defense between lawbreakers and law-abiding citizens. By the time a police officer is involved in a person’s life a long line of choices has been made that the officer had no control over. There are bad cops and everything possible should be done to weed them out of the ranks. However, most police are decent people who got into their line of work because they genuinely care about people and want to make the world a better place. 

The government or the police are not to blame when a sixteen-year-old girl feels stabbing someone is a reasonable response to her frustration or when a thirteen-year-old has access to a gun and the freedom to roam about at three a.m.

Seriously. 

That sort of thing is the fruit of a lifetime of crappy parenting (Proverbs 17:25, Proverbs 19:13). 

Somewhere over the course of the last couple of decades two equally bad but entirely different kinds of parents have emerged on the scene. The first sees their children as an extension of themselves and believes it their job to orchestrate and micromanage every aspect of their child’s existence. These parents would rather be gunned down than have their kids experience anything painful or difficult. Their greatest fear for their children is trauma.  They have bought into the lie that people are not resilient and that trauma will devastate them for life. Because all humans experience trauma and they are no different they see themselves as less than whole and want to prevent their own children from experiencing the same fate.  This group is responsible for raising the pearl-clutching millennials who scream “CANCEL” at any idea or opinion that makes them even vaguely uncomfortable.  

The other group tends to think that once a kid can feed and dress themselves their job is done. This group of parents typically did experience genuine trauma they never dealt with (Psalm 147:3). These parents tend to be self-involved to the point of being completely checked-out of their child’s life. These are the parents who say they can’t stop their thirteen-year-old from doing what they want to do and they’re right. They cannot get their teenagers to obey because they never took healthy authority over them as young children (Hebrews 12:14, Proverbs 5:23). 

There are no easy answers to systemic parenting problems in a culture. 

The government can’t help, the government is completely stumped by how many genders there are. They don’t have the wisdom or skills to lead people to better parenting choices. The police can’t help. Police are the last line of defense we slap on a problem before it gets completely out of hand. 

What our world needs is three-fold. First, Christians needs to make a regular practice of praying specifically for families. Parents of all income levels need the kind of wisdom that can only come from God. Second, Christian parents need to do their very best to get their own homes together so other parents start looking to the church for answers. And finally, churches need to get into the business of teaching parents outside of their own walls what love really looks like so they can lead their children well. 

Satan’s Diary- May 2021

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour- 1st Peter 5:8 NKJV

Dearest Diary, 

All is splendid in hell. Truly splendid! I just received quarterly reports from all regions on earth and the news is beyond magnificent for yet another quarter. 

2021 is shaping up to be another banner year.  

Deception has taken root literally everywhere. This is working out for me in ways I have only dreamed about in the past. My beloved pet project, spreading excessive fear has been a stunning achievement. I owe much of my success in this endeavor to COVID-19 and government officials. That sweet little virus is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Love! Love! Love!

Despite declining death rates and the availability of three (3!) vaccines many still live in abject fear of catching COVID-19. Governments everywhere have taken full advantage of the fear. Totalitarianism is right around the corner! I can feel it! There is nothing I love more than a good, old-fashioned dictatorship. Nothing is more helpful to me personally than when a group of corrupt, sinful, flawed humans decides they have the right or obligation to fully control the lives of their fellow humans under the guise of the “greater good”. The yearning to exercise control over others always ends in evil, despair and misery. There is nothing I love more than evil, despair and human misery.  

Ha! 

The peer pressure to obey “the COVID rules” is nearly unbearable for some. Many are so fearful of getting bellowed at by a meddlesome observer on the street they are terrified to push back against policies they know in their hearts make little sense. No government agency anywhere is admonishing their citizens to eat healthier food or exercise. Instead fully vaccinated people are wearing masks around other fully vaccinated people! Proudly! Ha! In the name of “science”! The bondage these people are in! It’s beautiful! Governments promote the lunacy knowing full-well its lunacy because fear expands their power! There is nothing I love more than a politician who believes they know what’s best for everyone else.  

So good! 

The children are suffering the most on that idiotic planet. The children who actually get to be born that is. Many don’t thanks to my friends in the abortion industry. Yet another incredibly successful venture of mine. Abortion is just such a fabulous industry. I’m a huge fan. Abortion is a multi-million-dollar business. Nonetheless, many believe abortion clinics are charities that help women out of the goodness of hearts. HA!  The whole industry is only about making money. No abortion providers in the history of humanity have ever “helped” anyone for free. They certainly won’t help a woman become a parent and yet I have managed to convince the world that abortion clinics actually care about women. 

I’m literally the best there is. Seriously.

But I digress. I was talking about the kids. Ah the kiddos. This generation of moronic nincompoops have found ingenious new ways to completely screw-up their offspring. I really couldn’t be more pleased. Progressive sex education has taken root in school districts all over the world and many parents are so caught-up in their own lives they have no clue what their kids are learning. Others are actually convinced that kids should learn gender is fluid and sex is only pleasurable when it’s as weird as possible. Those idiots actually encourage the destruction of their own children through these programs. Love! I literally cannot wait to see how neurotic and peculiar this generation of kids turns out to be.  I have a hunch the dysfunction will be unlike anything ever seen before in human history. So good!

But there’s more! 

Racial division is growing. It won’t be long before all the progress made by that ridiculous Civil Rights Movement is completely undone by the news media and politicians who use racial division to further their own selfish agendas. It’s already trendy to judge others by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Critical Race Theory has been tremendously helpful with stirring up division. In hasn’t hurt that much of the populace is too dumb to spot the obvious racism entrenched in Critical Race Theory.  Do-gooders now actively encourage and promote racism in the name of ending racism. 

I love dumb people. Seriously. I do. 

 Christians are embracing woke thinking in a big way. Some people just can’t stand not being adored by the “in-crowd” so they agree to whatever philosophy is popular in the name of “being inclusive and caring”. That “logic” has always worked in my favor.  I’m a fan. 

There is one bit of bad news though. I have heard some troubling reports from a few churches. Some pastors have become overly concerned with building spiritual health into their people. Discipleship is experiencing a resurgence. I hate discipleship. It promotes spiritual growth and I despise spiritual growth.  Others are encouraging their people to attend prayer meetings (Gross). Some Christians are praying more than I feel comfortable with on their own. Prayer is known to lead to a stirring of the spirit and that can lead to revival. I despise revival. It’s unquestionably the worst thing ever for me.  

Well, there is probably no need to borrow trouble. I will just try to get those stupid Christians intent on changing the world through politics instead of prayer. That will distract them. It works every single time. 

Sincerely,

Satan

Bringing Hope Reason and Grace to the Discussion on Race-

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets- Matthew 7:12 ESV

I grew up in a weird kind of a bubble. 

My family was poor and we lived in small towns mostly in the Northwest part of the United States (Alaska, Oregon and a short stint in Utah). There were not a whole lot of minorities in the towns I grew-up in.  However, if the town we were living in happened to have a minority population there was a pretty decent chance they lived in the same neighborhood we lived in. I don’t recall much, if any real racial tension in those neighborhoods. Being equally poor tends to create a bond between kids regardless of race. 

My parents invited all kinds of different people into our home and nothing was ever really made of it. People were just people. I don’t recall either of my parents ever using a racial slur but I do remember one of my brothers using one once. All of us learned fairly quickly that sort of thing just didn’t fly. All-in-all the way my parents handled issues of race was one thing they did really well. 

However. 

The bubble I grew up in led me to believe that contemporary racism was a myth or at the very least a problem that had been solved with the end of Jim Crow, the dawn of the civil rights movement and programs like affirmative action. Growing up, I knew a few people who said racist things but they were mostly viewed as oddballs and social pariahs. It wasn’t until I moved to the deep south as a young adult that I realized racism is still alive and well in the hearts of some. That said, I also observed that the most racist people I knew tended be part of the older generation. My children had friends from all races and backgrounds and no one thought anything of it. This reality gave me hope that perhaps racism would die off as older people and the attitudes they had been raised with also died off. 

Sadly, racism is still very much alive.  

In fact, the problem appears to be getting uglier and more toxic by the day. There are reasons for this. Unfortunately, there are still those who refuse to let go of sinful attitudes concerning race. Contributing even more significantly to the problem, are those in the political realm who have learned that division and stoking racism are an effective tool to bring about political change that really has nothing to do with race or fixing the problem of racism. 

Christians can’t control what non-Christians do or don’t do, nor should we even try. God will judge the world in due time (1st Corinthians 5:12-13, Revelation 20:12-13). However, we are called to be an example in all things, including social and moral issues like racism (Ephesians 5:1-3, Galatians 3:28, 1st Timothy 4:12). Following are five truths Christians must live 

Commit yourself to judging people only on the content of their character- 

Okay, so that statement is hardly original.  That said, it’s still the only right and just way to judge another human being. Christians must not look at people through a lens of race but as people made in the image of God who have a choice about what they do and how they live. Those who live life well and treat others with respect and dignity deserve admiration. Those who don’t need our prayers. Period. 

Understand that violence and hate cannot end violence, hate or injustice-

Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that: Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that and hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that.  The world needs to hear the message that attempting to oppose darkness, hate and racism by using race as a political cudgel or as an excuse to riot and violently protest will only make the world a darker place.

Recognize the truth that the sins of past generations cannot and should not be atoned for by the current generation-

 God does not punish children for the sins of their parents, grandparents or great-great grandparents (Ezekiel 18) and neither should anyone else. Some sins cannot be atoned for, they can only be forgiven and learned from. Forcing atonement through reparations for the evil of slavery will do nothing but create new, deeper and even more profound wounds that will lead to even more racism.  

Check yourself- 

Self-evaluation is critical (2nd Corinthians 13:5), especially when it comes to attitudes of the heart. Racism is an attitude of the heart we must check for frequently.    

Embrace the reality that the consequences of bad choices are not the same as racism- 

When people play stupid games, they win stupid prizes. Running from police or resisting arrest is without question the dumbest game ever. Our generation must embrace the reality that the consequences that result from or resisting arrest or running from the police are not racism. Even if the officer is white and the person running from the police is not. Period. 

It’s time for a rebirth of personal responsibility and commonsense in our world, especially where moral and social issues are concerned. The church must lead the way in showing the world the right way to handle the very thorny issue of race.  

Western Civilization has Reached a Milestone in its Race to the Bottom-

  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice- Romans 1:28-29 ESV

Western civilization has reached a significant milestone in its race to the bottom.

Parent-child marriage.

Yes. You read that statement correctly. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you.  Parent-child incest is the latest sexual deviancy a person or group is seeking to normalize via the legal system in the name of “individual autonomy” and “personal fulfillment” (Romans 1:18-32).  Last week, the parent of an adult child filed a lawsuit in New York State. This parent is asking the courts to overthrow the state’s ban on incestuous marriages.  Their attorney argues that because this couple is for whatever reason “incapable of producing a child” the state of New York ought to bless their union with all the legal protections and benefits marriage affords.

After reading the piece I scanned the comments section of the article. Most readers were convinced this is a one-time deal limited in scope to a couple of oddballs who live in New York. 

I’m not so sure. 

Years ago, when the push began to normalize and legalize behavior traditionally thought to be sinful, we were assured there was no such thing as a “slippery slope”. We were promised redefining marriage would in no way lead to the normalization or legalization of pedophilia or polygamy or any other sexual peculiarities. However, just a few years later throuple’s (romantic threesomes) are a recognized thing, parents are petitioning the courts to marry their offspring and some medical professionals have argued zealously that pedophilia and childhood sexual abuse are not the same thing at all (Mark 9:42).  

All that being true. 

This situation in New York looks to me like the latest step in the downhill progression of nuttiness that happens when a society decides that there are no moral limits in the arena of sexuality. 

Incestuous marriages could catch on. Perhaps not everywhere with everyone, but it will likely become increasingly more common. Trust me: it is only a matter of time before a popular house hunting show presents a parent-child twosome looking for their “forever home” with absolutely zero judgment. Our culture lost its moral bearings long ago and this sort of thing is a really just a symptom of that reality not the actual problem. The problem is that most people in our society are unwilling to seek moral or even commonsense wisdom outside their own human brokenness (Proverbs 3:5-6). As long as we as society continue to lean on our own flawed understanding of life and sexuality the downward moral spiral will continue unabated. 

It’s painful to watch.

Mostly because to those of us who know Jesus the answer is so simple: turn to God in repentance (Acts 3:19). He will forgive and heal even our strangest desires if we humble ourselves and ask.  But, until our society gets to that point human beings will continue to degenerate and the courts will remain inclined to bless the never-ending moral freefall.  

Sigh. 

I suspect it will be a while before our culture hits bottom. In the meantime, there are some things Christians can and should do to be a part of the solution. First: 

Point people to Jesus- 

Pointing people to Jesus means reaching out to people who are different from us. We must listen with as little judgment as we can muster and ask leading questions about how these lifestyles are actually working for the people practicing them. As we get to know unsaved people it is essential we pray like crazy God gives them a vision for a healthier way of doing life. When that happens, we need to be there to show them the way. 

Live according to God’s design- 

This means get married, have or adopt kids, love your spouse enough to work through any issues that arise. It means no moral monkey business: no cheating, no secret addictions, no secret anything. Live life fully, joyfully and in such a way you can be completely transparent about every aspect of your life. Oh yeah, and get your butt to church. The world needs some good examples. 

Be kind-  

Please note: I did not say we should agree that sinful behavior is acceptable or healthy. Nor, did I say we should lie to people and tell them their sexual deviancy is normal, healthy or okay with God. It’s not and it’s not our job to sanction sin in the name of making people feel good about themselves. That said, it is impossible to effectively help or even pray for someone we when we refuse to love them the way Jesus loves us. 

Life just keeps getting weirder. The good news is that the light of Jesus shines brightest in darkness. This is just one more opportunity for God’s people to shine for Him in a dark season (Isaiah 60:1-3, Matthew 5:16, Matthew 13:43).