Where Real Life is Lived-


How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you
– Psalm 31:19 NIV

My Dad died over the holidays. 

Death is never pleasant or easy. The Bible teaches death is not something human beings were created to experience (Genesis 2:16-17). Therefore, every death is grim, traumatic and depressing on some level. All that being said, as far death goes, his was less terrible than many. My Dad died quietly and peacefully in our home two days after Christmas. He didn’t linger on the edge of death for weeks or months as some do, nor was he terribly uncomfortable as he neared the end as some are. 

We were fortunate to have all four of our children with us the night he passed. Each shared something they loved about my Dad or a fond memory they had about him then we all prayed for him. A few minutes after we were done praying he breathed his last breath and that was it.

He was gone. 

The next day I gave information so his death certificate could be filed with the state. The woman filling out the paper work asked all manner of questions about my Dad’s life. Among other things, she wanted to know: where was he born?  What kind of career did he have? How many years was he married? How many children did he have? What level of education did he receive?  

On paper my Dad’s life looked pretty good.  

He graduated from college. He remained married to the same woman for forty-two years. He had a rewarding career in entomology. He travelled extensively and lived in a number of interesting places.  He fathered six children: four boys and two girls. At the end of the conversation the woman gathering the information commented that it sounded as if my Dad had lived a full and happy life. The reality of his existence was a bit different. My Dad was not a horrible man. He wasn’t evil and I doubt it was ever his intention to cause harm.  

However.

My Father did live a life that was unaltered in any conspicuous way by the restorative and redeeming work of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying my Dad was an unbeliever. I honestly do not know if he was or he wasn’t. His spiritual state was a bit of a mystery. I do know he and I talked at length about a commitment he made to Jesus shortly after my Mother died. I also know that over the last few years my husband and I and many other Christians attempted to have a number of spiritual conversations with him. However, in his later years’ dementia became an ever-increasing issue in his life so it was hard to know exactly where he stood spiritually. I do know after his “conversion experience” he never really grew spiritually or allowed his attitudes and behaviors to be transformed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2, Colossians 3:5-16, 2nd).  Like so many people in this world who commit their lives to Jesus my Father remained exactly what and who he had been all of my life. In his case this meant he was a hard man with a bad temper and a whole slew of bad habits, who judged others with a measuring stick he refused to use on himself.  Sadly, he had few friends as he neared the end of his life. He died estranged from four of his six children and his two brothers. 

Sigh.

For the sake of my own sanity I choose to believe the best about my Dad’s eternal state. The mercy of God is great and the word of God never returns void (Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 55:11). Therefore, I am choosing to believe I will see my Dad again someday. He will be an entirely new man and we will have the relationship we were always meant to have (2nd Corinthians 5:17)  

That being said.

In my more navel-gazy moments of grief and loss I wonder what my Dad would say now that he is firmly on the other side of the great divide that exists between the living and the dead (Luke 16:26).  

If he could I believe my Dad would say that a life lived for self is ultimately a wasted life. He would advise the living to mend fences and build bridges with the people we love while we have the opportunity to do so because there will come a day for all of us when those opportunities will be gone forever. He would likely have a lot to say about the importance of avoiding bitterness and not sinning in fits of anger (Ephesians 4:26, Hebrews 12:15, Ephesians 4:31. Most significantly, I believe with all of my heart and soul my Dad would tell us all to take any commitment we have made to Jesus seriously. He would advise us to do the things the New Testament tells us to do so we will grow into the people God designed us to be.  Because then—and only then—we get the full and abundant life Jesus promises those who believe enough to put God’s words into action. 

Because that is ultimately where real life is lived. 

How Christians Become the Worst Version of Themselves-

 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead- Acts 17:30-31 ESV

We all know that person.

The man or woman who has somehow managed to achieve the unenviable feat of becoming the very worst version of themselves imaginable. 

Perhaps the person is hostile, mean, judgy, bitter, prideful and/or self-serving. (Hebrews 12:15, Hebrews 3:12, Philippians 2:3, Colossians 3:8-9). It could be they are just so oblivious to the needs and feelings of others they just go around unknowingly causing the poor hapless souls unfortunate enough to be caught in their orbit immeasurable hurt and pain. It might be they are sexually immoral in some way. Perhaps they are addicted to pornography or they cheat on their spouse or they just sit around indulging in lecherous thoughts about the opposite sex all the time. They might lie or cheat or steal or go around boasting about their own awesomeness to anyone who will listen. Maybe they drink themselves into oblivion routinely or are addicted to drugs. To some degree the sordid details of their behavior is less significant than the fact that they have chosen to indulge their very worst tendencies and character traits.    

No one is exempt from becoming the worst version of themselves (1st Corinthians 10:12). It happens all the time. It happens to famous mega-church pastors like Mark Driscoll, Carl Lentz and Ted Haggard. It can also happen to local pastors, ministry leaders, their spouses as well as your average Joe or Jane church attenders. It’s horrifying anytime anyone becomes the worst version of themselves. It’s extra gross when it happens to a Christian.   

Here’s how it happens:  

The whole messy mess starts out innocently enough, just like almost every other messy mess on planet earth. The slide begins with a subtle shift in behavior or attitude that gradually transforms into a habit.  The person knows what they’re doing or thinking is sinful. However, because no one says anything and nothing truly catastrophic happens they keep doing their thing in spite of any reservations they may have.  

Then God gets involved in His indirect but distinct little God way. 

The person hears a guilt-producing sermon, or a reads a convicting blogpost, or perhaps a friend or spouse, gently, or not so gently confronts them with the problem. At this point things go one of two ways: the person might choose to get offended. When a person chooses offendedness  its not long before they begin the process of actively shutting out anyone who is isn’t either one-hundred-percent supportive of their behavior or willing to ignore it.

  Sometimes, the person just goes into full-on denial mode concerning the seriousness of their behavior. They assure the person challenging them they have a handle on things.  Then the sinner slowly convinces him or herself their behavior isn’t really a problem. The same behavior might be a problem for other people but not for them.  They have so many other awesome qualities they are above being destroyed by the petty little sins that doom other Christians. Besides, they tell themselves: they’re a Christian, God loves them. If God wasn’t okay with what they’ve been up to He would force them to stop.  He hasn’t so He must be okay with it.

So, the behavior or attitude persists.  

At this point, things get interesting, in a very bad way. Blindness sets in and the behavior takes firm root. They spend more time looking at more porn, they think more lecherous thoughts more frequently. They get to the place where can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie. They go into full-scale addiction. They lose the ability to even muster up false humility.  At the same time, they become increasingly more oblivious to the effect their behavior is having on others. They become harsher and meaner and less concerned with the feelings of others.  Ironically, at the same time they become much more judgmental towards other people, especially towards those who have the same problems they do (Matthew 7:2-3). They become a twisted version of what they could have been, a parody of their sin and a sad joke to non-Christians. 

So. Here’s the thing:

No Christian is doomed to becoming the worst version of themselves. It is a fully preventable tragedy.  However, we have to understand that the devil wants more than anything in the world to see every Christian on earth become the very worst version of themselves possible (Ephesians 4:27). Satan loves it when Christians fall into this trap. It ruins the believer, their ministry opportunities and their Christian witness. This is a triple win for Satan.  To avoid this trap, we must understand that even in our redeemed state we are capable of great sin and self-deception. To avoid the self-deception that makes becoming the worst version of ourselves possible we have to make every effort to grow in our knowledge of God and nurture the Christian virtues of faith, goodness, humility, godliness and self-control in our lives (2nd Peter 1:3-10). We must make a regular practice of examining ourselves honestly before the Lord (1st Corinthians 13:5) and we must listen when other people try and speak truth into our lives. 

The Underlying Belief at the Root of Most of our Stupidity-


Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools- Romans 1:22 KJV

The enlightenment era is sometimes called the “great age of reason”. During that time people began to understand the natural world is governed by rules, laws and forces rather than powers, magic or happenstance. Thanks to enlightenment academics we understand objects fall to the ground due to the natural law of gravity.  It is microbes not demoniac forces that make us ill and its recessive genes rather than bad luck that causes children to be born with red hair seemingly out of nowhere. 

The enlightenment age is at the root of the logical, methodical and organized approach to life and problem-solving we are all familiar with today. The enlightenment was a big-stinking breakthrough in human civilization. 

However. 

The Enlightenment age did create some issues that are now coming home to roost. For one, the Enlightenment conditioned us to believe there is always a formula to solve a problem or accomplish a task—we just have to find it.  As a result, modern humans are firmly entrenched in the mindset that the key to solving any problem is simply finding the right set of principles to apply to said problem.

Sometimes it works.

The systematic analysis of microbes led to the invention of antibiotics, antibiotics solved many vexing health problems. Modern farming techniques more-or-less eliminated the problem of wide-spread starvation. The methodical evaluation of human behavior led to modern psychology. Psychology has effectively explained the why of what people do thus solving many mental health issues.   

However.   

The ability to solve some problems using science generated a belief that all our most pressing problems can and should be solved using our known understanding of a given subject. When our wisdom doesn’t solve the problem at hand we go into a weird kind of denial where we keep doing the same things over and over again hoping at some point we will get the result we think we ought to be getting (Proverbs 3:5-6). 

COVID-19 is a real-world example of this. Medical professionals and scientists were originally convinced COVID would be beaten through a combination of contact tracing, masking, social distancing and social isolation (lockdowns). Those methods failed. Covid continued to spread like wildfire even among those who were resolutely following “the rules” of covid. When a vaccine became available initially the new solution was to vaccinate at least sixty percent of the population. That solution failed. Some of the most vaccinated countries on earth (Israel, Ireland, Gibraltar) are still recording a record number of covid cases. We are now fully in denial and doing all the stuff we’ve already done harder and faster (metaphorically speaking). This means even more vaccinations, even more masking, even more social isolation and in some places more lockdowns. The prideful and stanch belief we know everything about covid has us caught in a peculiar loop. We just do the same things over and over again expecting a different result. 

Sigh. 

Christians who place their confidence in formulas can easily fall into a kind of practical atheism.  They profess to be Christians but live as if God is irrelevant to their lives.  The say they love God but do everything in their own power depending entirely on human methods to get the job done. Instead of fostering a relationship with God and loving Him simply for who He is. They seek God solely for solutions to their problems. When He doesn’t provide the desired solutions, they turn away from Him altogether or remain in the church but become perpetually angry at God for His lack of willingness to bless the formula. 

Confidence in formulas can lead to serious issues with pride, self-reliance and stubbornness. When Christians believe that doing everything “right” or according to the “formula” will ALWAYS lead to the “correct result” they become angry or go into denial anytime there is a “bad” or “unexpected “outcome. This causes them to keep doing the same thing over and over again or give up rather than seek additional wisdom from God.  Belief in formulaic solutions can cause Christians to become very judgy towards those who experience “failure” in their childrearing, finances, marriages or other relationships. Unwavering confidence in formulaic solutions leaves no room in our thinking for free will or the free agency of human beings (Matthew 7:1-4, Deuteronomy 30:19).   

In a fallen world there will not always be solutions to all our problems (Genesis 3). Sometimes people get sick and don’t get better. Kids who were raised right still go astray and sometimes you do everything right and everything still goes terribly wrong. That’s where God comes in. We must seek Him, not for what He can do for us but because it is in Him we find peace, joy and rest for our souls in the midst of an uncertain and scary world (Jeremiah 29:13). 

Six Takeaways from the Kyle Rittenhouse Trial-

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation- Psalm 85:6-7 ESV

On August 23rd 2020, then seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse drove seventeen miles to a (depending entirely on your worldview and political leanings) either: a) peaceful protest or b) chaotic riot. That night Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them in what he argued were acts of self-defense and what the prosecutors in his murder trial asserted were acts of cold-blooded murder.  

Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all charges. 

Anyone watching the trial would have a hard time finding fault with the jury’s decision.  The case was hardly a whodunit.  It could be argued that the trial never should have happened in the first place. There was clear video evidence as well as eyewitness testimony proving all three men were attacking Rittenhouse when they were shot. That said, the trial has exposed some things about our moment in history that needed exposing, including:

“Journalists” lie-

 Journalism is now a career field littered with liars and frauds. Some media outlets out-and-out lied about this case. Many more intentionally omitted critical facts. On numerous occasions CNN referred to Kyle Rittenhouse as a “white supremist”. There is scant evidence to back up that rather horrible, character defaming assertion and they knew it. Nearly every media outlet claimed Kyle Rittenhouse “crossed state lines” to attend the riot. This is actually true. However, those outlets deliberately omitted some critical facts. Like, a) He worked in Wisconsin. b) His Dad lives in Wisconsin. c) The Wisconsin border was less than seventeen miles from his house. d) It’s not against the law to cross state lines anywhere in America.  CNN implied the men shot by Rittenhouse were black knowing full well they were not. CNN stated on several occasions that Jacob Blake (the man whose shooting instigated the riot) was killed by police. This is not true. Jacob Blake is very much alive and they knew it when they said it. I could go on but all that would do is waste time. I don’t know why journalists have determined it’s okay to lie their heads off. I do know that no one can depend on any one media outlet for their information anymore. Everyone must take the time to watch live speeches, trials and events to get their information now. It’s the only way to know what’s factual anymore. 

Government has allowed conditions to persist where evil is flourishing- 

The government really only has one job (1st Peter 2:13-14). Governments exist to protect citizens from evil doers. That’s it. If the State of Wisconsin and the City of Kenosha had done their job that night, seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse would not have felt compelled to their job for them. Anytime a city, state or federal government allows people to riot, loot and just generally terrorize people without consequence they are begging vigilantes to do their job for them.

The sin of racism is being used as a political tool by evil people- 

Racism is an ugly, anti-Christian way of looking at the world that is straight out of the pit of hell (1st Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11).  Unfortunately, many media personalities and politicians are making a regular practice of using false or unfounded charges of racism or “white supremacy” as a tool of manipulation to further their own political and social agendas. This sick behavior is at least as sinful, evil and damaging to humanity as being an actual racist.  

Seventeen-year-olds still need supervision-  

A seventeen-year-old is still a child, a child with some adult skills but a child nonetheless. Children of all ages need a few engaged adults in their life who will steer them away from ill-advised, potentially life-altering choices. Choices like going to a riot with a gun.  

Our justice system is being hi-jacked by malevolent people with a plan-

It just is. There are a large number of politicians, business leaders, professors and social justice warriors who want to change America into something radically different than what it is and always has been. They are cleverly destroying a perfectly good system in the name of “ending white supremacy” and “equity”. In reality they care little about either issue. All they really want to do is increase their own power. If these hypocrites get their way our justice system will no longer work for anyone, black, white or brown. Christians need to wake up to this reality and do three things: first, we must pray against this evil and injustice. Second, we must insist elected leaders do their job and protect our system of justice for everyone, black, white and brown. Lastly, Christians must call out media outlets who lie and cover for politicians openly attempting to hi-jack a system that has worked well most of the time for the last two-hundred years. 

This case clearly demonstrates we need revival. 

Without a healthy relationship with God, even well-intentioned people lack wisdom and discernment, leaving them unable to distinguish between good and evil. Without the Holy Spirit guiding them people will continue to believe the media’s lies Without God well-meaning people will vote for liars who use race to divide to increase their own power. Without God families will continue to crumble leaving seventeen-year-old boys to navigate life while trusting in their own understanding (Proverbs 3:4-5) Without God people will continue to do evil and love deceit because it’s all they can do. God has the power to alter the trajectory of our world but His people have to ask for it and live like we really believe it could happen.  

This is why Darkness is Winning-

 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light– Ephesians 5:8 NKJV

We live in the best of times and the worst of times. 

Our generation has been blessed with comforts, luxuries and technological conveniences previous generations would have had a hard time even imagining. 

However. 

 Slavery has experienced a resurgence in recent years with 40.3 million people worldwide living out their entire lives in modern slavery. Governments are becoming more dictatorial and less accepting of opposing views.  Big business and big government have formed an unholy alliance, the two have teamed up and are making speech more censored and far less free. The average person is petrified to speak their mind on a myriad of different subjects out of fear of being publicly vilified or “cancelled”. Ancient pagan notions concerning sexuality have become normalized. This has led to a change in values surrounding sexuality. The resultant promiscuity has left millions feeling physically gratified but emotionally empty. Lawlessness has become commonplace. Murders and assaults and nearly every other form of crime is on the uptick. Our cities are no longer safe spaces to work and play.  Left-leaning thugs routinely threaten the rest of society with violence if they don’t get the outcome they want from a trial or court case. Fear of disease and death has left millions of people emotionally crippled and unable to enjoy normal, everyday activities. It feels as if darkness is winning.

Because it is. 

In many regards, life is getting worse not better. We are slowly devolving into the world the apostle Paul predicted we would end up with in 2nd Timothy 3:1-3. He foresaw people would be lovers of themselves, ungrateful and unholy, unwilling and unable to do good or love others well. Sigh. There are reasons for this sorry state of affairs and a lot of those reasons have to with how Christians have conducted themselves for the last couple of decades.  Following are three of the biggest problems:

Men have left every significant social fight of our time to women-

I watch a lot of news. In recent months there has been a great deal of coverage concerning school board meetings where parents are fighting for changes in history and sex education curricula. In every one of those meetings women outnumber men by at least 3-1. Every. Single. Time. I do not believe the only realm a woman should have a voice or play a significant role is in the home. I do not think men should do all the fighting while women stay home baking cookies.  We are all Christian soldiers called to the fight for righteousness, truth and the souls of the lost (2nd Timothy 2:3-4). Women and men were created by God equally but differently so that they could join forces and work together to bring about God’s purposes in the world (Genesis 1:26-28). Anytime men or women silo themselves and attempt to do anything significant without the other sex we lose half our fighting force and all the uniqueness the other gender has to offer.  It is a fact that many (not all) Christian men are MIA. They are sitting at home watching the game while their wives go to school board meetings and volunteer in soup kitchens. They sleep in on Sunday mornings while their wives take the kids to Church, they drink beer while their wives pray with the kids.  Until more Christian men are willing to get off their rumps, get in the game and start fighting alongside the women for what’s right we will continue to lose more battles than we win. 

Christians have routinely put preferences over principals- 

Here’s a hard truth: the average woke heathen would rather poke out his or her own eye with a dirty stick than purchase a product from a company that espouses traditional views on marriage, sexuality or gender. This is true even if there is no equivalent alternative to the product they want. Woke heathens will just go without rather than spend their hard-earned money at a business that doesn’t share their values. Here’s an even harder truth: the average committed Christian will cheerfully buy from the wokest of corporations, even when there’s an alternative product available. We buy what we buy simply because we prefer the products, cost or convenience the woke company provides. I hate boycotts, they rarely work and sometimes they even backfire. However, I do think we should consider where companies like Starbucks, Target and Amazon donate their money before we contribute anymore of ours (God’s really) to companies that are actively attempting to tear down our values.  

Our theology has made us spiritually lazy-

The idea of a pre-tribulation rapture has taken root in most Christian denominations. I am not necessarily opposed to this theology. However, I hate the fruit it has produced. This theology has convinced many Christians that there is no need to work to reform our educational, political or social systems because we are all going to get raptured out of here before anything really terrible happens. Well. That theory is being tested at this point. There are a lot of really terrible things going on right now. It’s time for Christians to stop praying for the rapture and start working for a better world because if we don’t God’s not going to be too happy with us when does He get here. 

Not all is necessarily lost. 

All it will take to bring about much-needed change is for all of us to take our calling as Christians a little more seriously. We need to work a little harder and pray a lot more if we want to see the darkness retreat. 

Finding the Cure for the Crisis in Church World-

 They went far from Me, and walked after emptiness and became empty– Jeremiah 2:5b NASB

The Western Church is in crisis. 

The crisis came about because somehow over the course of the last century both Church-goers and Church leaders lost sight of what a real spiritual win looks like (Judges 21:25). This has resulted in diminishing spiritual power in the lives of church-goers.  The churches lack of spiritual power has left it incapable of transforming people and society. This has caused the culture to spiral downward in a whole bunch of weird and kind of horrifying ways.   

Sigh. 

The average church-goer has gone after all the spiritual goals (Jeremiah 2:5). For many the primary objective of the Christian life has become one of personal fulfillment. In the minds of the average Western church-goer God exists mostly to meet human needs and fulfill personal desires. God’s job is to make us happy and fix our problems. If God doesn’t give us what we want in a timely manner or in the way we want it we find a new spiritual model, hobby or cause that gives us more of what we think we need. Sometimes, this involves Christians making flowery proclamations on Twitter or Facebook stating they intend to spend some time “reimagining”, “reconstructing” or “reinventing” their faith. Those expressions are all just twenty-first century colloquialisms for willfully choosing to make up a new, more user-friendly God who will allow us to find personal fulfillment in whatever way we see fit. The “reimagined” or “reconstructed” God is always a bit more progressive and tolerant than the God of the Bible. The new God is always willing to put His (or Her) blessing on self-actualization that leads to selfishness, sexual sin and bitterness towards those who have caused us pain. 

Christian leaders who lack an understanding of their purpose look to God primarily for a sense of achievement.  This is similar to the desires of the average church-goer but the ultimate outcome is different.  When leaders lack an understanding of their purpose God becomes a means to an end rather than the whole goal of the Christian life.  Leaders who do not understand their biblical purpose seek kingdom building, but instead of building God’s Kingdom they build their own. These leaders end up working really hard to create a cool place for people to hear them speak. On the surface this can appear to be a good thing. But, the environments these leaders construct inevitably lack the power to bring Christians and non-Christians out of their sin and selfishness and into right relationship with God.  

It’s a hot mess. 

The answer to the problem is simple. However, that does not necessarily mean it will be easy to actualize the solution. In order to solve it we must change our perspectives on what God is for, what the church is for and what the outcome of Christianity is supposed to be. Changing perspectives on anything significant is tough because it involves a combination of humility, self-awareness and willingness to make hard changes. Most humans suck at all that stuff. 

Sigh. 

Mercifully, what is impossible for man is possible with God (Matthew 19:25-26, Luke 18:27). The Western church will regain its purpose and spiritual power when God’s people go back to the Bible and seek to understand what God really says about the mission of the Church. 

The gospel message is the mission. Period. The average church-goers job is to tell the world how Jesus can transform a person and change the trajectory of their life (Matthew 28:18-20, 2nd Corinthians 5:17). This is why Ephesians six tells believers to “put on the shoes of the gospel of peace”. That directive is a statement of mission. It tells us we are here to take the gospel into every interaction we have and every situation we find ourselves. In order for the truth we tell to take root in people’s hearts we must live lives that reflect the goodness, kindness and moral purity of Jesus. 

Christian leaders should be in the business of building and growing people spiritually, morally and in their gifting’s and abilities. Leaders must emphasize the importance of spiritual growth, emotional health and holiness in their teaching, preaching and interactions with church people.  Leaders must encourage and teach their people to maximize their giftings in such a way they build up the church body. The goal of every Christian leader should be for every person in their body to be told “well done good and faithful servant” on judgment day by Jesus (Matthew 25:21). I suspect it will be a big part of the overall grade for leaders on judgment day (Revelation 20:11-13, James 3:1). 

Everything we do as believers must be done in a spirit of humility. Church-goers must tell the world about Jesus p with an attitude of grace and love that shows the world that everything we say about our God is true. Church leaders must manage their lives and ministries in such a way that when church people become a natural reflection of the leaders in their lives it will be a beautiful thing (Romans 12:8).  

What’s Really Behind the Attempt to Eliminate Gender-

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them- Genesis 1:27 NKJV

The Alliance Defense League (ADL) put out a list of tips concerning Halloween celebrations and costumes.  

One of the tips was actually quite helpful. 

The tipster pointed out that not every family celebrates Halloween and the costumes can get really pricey. Not every parent has the means to purchase elaborate costumes, as a result, Halloween can make a family’s financial situation painfully obvious to every kid in school. These two realities can easily lead to embarrassment and even bullying. It was good stuff. 

Then it got decidedly weird.

The heart of the article encouraged parents and teachers to avoid gender stereotypes when choosing Halloween costumes. The ADL wants parents and their children to acknowledge and celebrate the “fact” that there is no such thing as gender. 

According to the ADL the whole notion of biological gender is make-believe, like the Tooth Fairy and winged dragons. Only clueless numbskulls still believe in such things. Therefore, it is categorically not okay for adults to encourage children born with vaginas (formally known as girls) to dress up as princesses because children born with penises (formally known as boys) can also be princesses. Moreover, superhero costumes are especially problematic for those looking to have an inclusive Halloween. Clearly, the manufacturers of superhero costumes are all regressive Neanderthals in desperate need of a good cancelling. This is confirmed by the fact that superhero costumes for children born with vaginas always include a skirt while the costumes for children born with penises come with pants. The writer helpfully advised parents to tell to children curious about why skirts are unsuitable for superheroes that skirts are simply not practical for crimefighting.    

This is real.

At first glance this tip sheet appears to be just another hearty helping of woke silliness aimed at extracting the joy and pleasure out of life. It’s more than that: the attempt to eliminate gender is actually a brazen attempt to gaslight the whole world. Gaslighting is defined as “making a person or group of people question their perception of reality”. Gaslighting describes someone who puts forth a false narrative which leads another person or a group of people to doubt their own perceptions. Eventually the person or people being gaslighted become disoriented and/or distressed and agree to follow the “truth” the gas-lighter tells them is real. 

In this case gaslighting has deep spiritual implications. 

Think about it.

One of the first truth-statements God makes in the Bible concerns the existence of male and female. God even links the concept of gender to Himself, saying He made the differences between men and women in His “own image”. The Bible is clear: there are distinctive differences between men and women and those differences are actually unique reflections of God’s personhood in men and women (Genesis 1:26-27). 

I suspect Satan is enthusiastic about the prospect of persuading the world that gender is a construct rather than reality. If that view becomes the norm then every instruction God gave humanity regarding sexuality will become a nonissue because all those instructions are predicated on the existence of only two genders and differences between the genders.  Removing morality from sexuality has caused untold emotional, spiritual and physical harm to human beings. Further removing morality from sexuality will have devastating consequences to the most vulnerable among us.   Deconstructing gender produces chaos in the society, women no longer need to protected from men because there is no such thing as men (no more male/female bathrooms).  Women are no longer the natural caretakers of children because there is no such thing as women. Sex is no longer a sacred act between a husband and a wife because there is no such thing as husbands and wives. Most critically, if there is no male and female then everything God has said about everything automatically becomes suspect in the minds of thinking people. If we can’t trust what God said about male and female, how can we trust anything He said? 

Therefore. 

This attack on gender isn’t coming from the cultural elites, misguided educators or politicians. The attack on gender is coming from Satan Himself. Satan knows that if this one little entry-level truth can be ripped from the foundation then literally everything the Bible says about everything falls with it. If people believe this lie Satan has effectively prepped the world to believe any lie, no matter how outlandish because he’s already convinced us the Emperor has no clothes (metaphorically speaking). Once we stop believing what’s right in front of us we will believe anything. 

Couple of things in closing.

First, Christian leaders cannot allow this philosophy to infiltrate the church. If it does it will have a detrimental impact not just on how Christians view the issue of gender but also on how Christians view God. Second, this is not a place for believers to “stand their ground”. We must do more than simply stand in what we believe, we must go into the culture and tell the truth about gender. We must have loving conversations with our friends and neighbors where we use science and common sense to remind people that gender real and assigned to us by loving God who knew us and loved us before we drew a single breath (Psalm 139).

Three Realities Every Christian Must Embrace in This age of Division and Hate-

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world– John 16:33 NIV

We live in an age of division and hate. 

The list of issues dividing us is long and growing at a rapid clip. These would include tax policy, the minimum wage, immigration, the number of genders that exist, abortion, who should use which bathroom, sexual orientation, education, critical race theory and how elections should be managed. We are divided over masks and whether it’s safe to gather in groups and how to protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19. The vaccinated accuse the unvaccinated of being dirty, ignorant, backward, uncaring unscientific super spreaders. The unvaccinated accuse the vaccinated of being sheep, followers, sellouts, judgmental jerks and silent super spreaders.

 Sigh. 

How do we become a voice of reason in an increasingly unreasonable time? 

Do we keep our heads down and hope for the speedy return of Jesus? Do we dive into the melee and fight the man? If so, which man? How do we fight? How do we represent Jesus well while we fight? Do methods matter?   

There are no easy answers. Christians are instructed to do hard things (Matthew 10:8). The methods we employ matter (Philippians 2:14-15, 1st Corinthians 14:26, Hebrews 4:13).  Hope is not a strategy, therefore, simply hoping fervently for the return of Jesus will not make disciples or reform broken systems. God does not call His people to retreat (Genesis 1:28). To the contrary, the uglier the age the more a Christian witness is needed in every sphere of society and life. To be that witness we have to recognize three realities:

There is no distinction on God’s team- 

 1st Kings details the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab and Jezebel were sinful, horrible, apostate leaders who championed Baal worship in Israel. They oppressed and slaughtered faithful believers without mercy. In chapter eighteen there is a meeting between Obadiah, an official in Ahab’s court and Elijah, a prophet of God.  It’s obvious from the text that Elijah is openly disdainful of Obadiah, while Obadiah clearly longs for Elijah’s approval.  It appears that Elijah saw Obadiah as a sellout and a collaborator. While Obadiah appears to envy Elijah. On the surface it looks like one man is better than the other. It appears that one man is clearly more righteous than the other. It seems as if one is taking a much bigger risk for the kingdom than the other. However, that view is simplistic, incorrect and absurdly human. Both were righteous. Both were risking everything for the cause of Yahweh. Both were serving on the same team and doing exactly what God had called them to do. Obadiah was operating covertly (at great risk to himself) within the existing political system to protect the remnant of faith who refused to worship Baal (1st Kings 18:13). Elijah was working openly (at great risk to himself) within the religious community to bring the wayward people back to faith, obedience and moral purity. Both men were preforming crucial, albeit different roles.  Too often we do what Elijah and Obadiah did, we judge one another (and ourselves) without mercy or grace.  We make arbitrary and unbiblical distinctions between the sacred (religious) and the secular (political). Anytime we make this error, we miss out on opportunities to encourage one another and correct each other’s wrong thinking and actions. When that happens, the whole team suffers. 

Some things are worth fighting for- 

As a general rule Christians are called to live in peace with others (Hebrews 12:14). This does not mean it is somehow godly to excuse ourselves from the fight (Philippians 4:3, 1st Timothy 6:12). We should never ignore societal decay, divisive ideologies or outright lies. Christians should not force their views on anyone.  That being said, neither should Christians ignore acts of evil or philosophies that will clearly lead to evil if left unchecked (Proverbs 24:10-12). Christians should act to protect women, the weak, children, the elderly and the unborn from exploitation and evil.  Protecting the vulnerable is an issue of justice and righteousness—not politics (James 1:27, Malachi 3:5, Deuteronomy 24:17).  Christians should be cautious about acquiescing to evolving ideas on gender (Genesis 1:27). These viewpoints place children in danger and cause confused and hurting people to degrade themselves in devastating and sometimes irreparable ways. Christians should fight to protect the God-given rights every human on earth has to life, equal treatment under the law, free speech, and the ability to worship God freely and without fear (Exodus 20:13, Galatians 3:28, Exodus 9:1). We cannot in good conscience concede to the culture on issues of right and wrong just to maintain “peace” (Jeremiah 8:11).  

We have to do all the things but in the right order-

There are two things Christians are called to do. Leading the lost to Jesus is the first thing (Matthew 28:19).  However, discipleship is a critical thing as well. We must begin the process of helping people to align their behavior and politics with the truth of the gospel. But only after their hearts have been transformed by the power of the gospel. Confusing the order short-circuits the work of the Holy Spirit and only succeeds in producing well-behaved heathens. This error is how we got into the cultural mess we find ourselves. 

God is calling His people to better. He has called us to unite around the person of Jesus and support all members of the body of Christ. He’s calling us away from the tribalism of our culture and into a purity of heart and action that might just transform our age of division and discord into a glorious season of spiritual reform and revival. 

Four Ways God Works in an Age of Apostasy-

Our wrongdoings testify against us, Lord, act for the sake of Your name! Our apostasies have indeed been many. We have sinned against You– Jeremiah 14:7 NASB 

A couple of months ago I concluded that I had been spending way too much of my Bible reading time in a few New Testament books. 

It was time to broaden my horizons. 

So, I dusted off the books of 1st and 2nd Kings. The first few chapters of 1st Kings is mostly just palace intrigue. It covers the death of King David and the opportunistic scheming that occurred around his succession. The book reaches a high point early on with the installation of David’s son Solomon as his replacement. Solomon started strong with a heart for God. God blessed his efforts and Israel thrived economically and militarily under his leadership.  

It’s all kind of down-hill from there.

Solomon’s heart was lured away from God by his plethora of foreign wives. Despite his wisdom and worldly success, he was a dismal failure in all the ways that really matter. The Kingdom split following his death and both Israel and Judah wandered far from God.  Most of the rest of 1st Kings is just a glum recounting of one bad, evil, idolatrous king after another bad, evil, idolatrous king. The book gets slightly more interesting with the introduction of the prophet Elijah in 1st Kings 17 but then 2nd Kings devolves into a serious of weird and often disturbing stories that cover topics as diverse as floating ax heads and cannibalism. The weird stories are interspersed here and there with more recountings of more crappy kings. In chapter seventeen Israel falls and is taken captive by Syria. King Hezekiah begins ruling Judah in chapter eighteen. Hezekiah and Josiah were the last of Judah’s even halfway decent leaders. However, their leadership was not enough to keep the country from falling ever deeper into idolatry and ruin. King Nebuchadnezzar makes his first appearance in chapter twenty-four and that ushers in the Babylonian captivity and the end of Jewish sovereignty. 

Sigh. 

I was surprised by how depressed I was when I was finished reading the books. It wasn’t the first time I read either book. However, it was the first time either book hit me in such a soul-crushing kind of a way.  

Over time, I had a couple of realizations concerning the whole thing: first, the book of 1st Kings is just a glum summary of Israel’s protracted slide into apostasy and unbelief. 2nd Kings tells the story of how God worked in the lives of those who lived faithfully for God in that time.  The books hit me hard because we too are living in a season of apostasy. We don’t call it that, that of course, we call it “living in a post-Christian culture”, which sounds way nicer than “season of apostasy” but it’s the same thing. Whatever you call it, it sucks. It sucks living in a declining culture. It sucks watching the whole stupid world devolve into moral and intellectual chaos. It sucks seeing people degrade themselves with stupid ideas and even stupider behavior. It sucks watching people do everything possible to deny the reality of God. Most of all, it sucks feeling overwhelmed by the darkness and ugliness of a post-believing world. 

That being said. 

We are not without hope. We aren’t Israel and God hasn’t left the building (metaphorically speaking). He’s still on His throne and He is still working in the hearts of His people, which means He is still working in the greater culture. Revival could be just around the corner. In the meantime, following are four lessons I gleaned about living in a post-Christian culture from 1st and 2nd Kings.  

Community is critical in a post Christian world- 

In 1st and 2nd Kings God works most powerfully through little communities of prophets who banded together to support and encourage one another. Community, connection, partnership and close friendship is an ongoing theme throughout the book. The takeaway for contemporary believers is clear. The key to remaining spiritually strong and emotionally healthy while the world is literally going to hell around us is making Christian community a priority in our lives. 

When the going gets tough God shows off– 

All the depressing historical truths aside, one of the high points of both books is seeing God work among the believing remnant in 1st and 2nd Kings. From Mt. Caramel in 1st Kings 17 to the ax head incident in 2nd Kings. God showed His power and provided for His people in fresh new ways. We should have hearts of faith that expect Him to do the same in our time. 

 God works in surprising places in dark times- 

One key theme of both 1st and 2nd Kings is provision for both gentiles and gentile women (1st Kings 17:9-20, 2ndKings 4:1-37). Both books make it clear that when previously believing people turn their backs on God, He shows Himself in mighty and lifegiving ways to people groups we wouldn’t necessarily expect Him to work through.  We should expect a movement of God in unexpected places in the coming years. 

And finally: 

Relentless leaders bring hope and healing to graceless – 

Two bright spots in 2nd Kings are the records of Hezekiah and Josiah. Both men were tenacious leaders who had the insight to recognize the serious nature of times they lived in and the grit to do something about the problems at the root of Israel’s trouble: idolatry and the sinful practices that accompany idolatry (2nd Kings 18:1-6, 2nd Kings 23:1-24). Their steadfast leadership and determination to serve God wholeheartedly resulted in revival that kept judgment at bay. 

So. 

All that to say, one of the key takeaways from 1st and 2nd Kings is that God is always at work even in a post-Christian world that feels like it’s going to hell all around us.  Usually in ways we least expect. 

Should Christians Ignore Politics in Favor of Pursuing Justice?

They have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom– Isaiah 59:8b-9 ESV

We live in strange and increasingly complex times. 

Because this is true, it is sometimes difficult to know for certain what exactly is the right thing to do in a given situation. It is even harder to separate the essential from the inconsequential. 

Take the issues of justice and politics for example. 

Christians are called to steward every blessing given by God prudently and wisely. Being able to vote for a leader is a gift not everyone is given.  In the grand scheme of history, the whole concept of voting for leaders is a relatively new idea and it is still unheard of in some places.  Christians living in a democracy or a representative republic steward their vote well when they research issues and candidates and vote with a biblical perspective in mind. Period. Nothing more is required. 

That being said. 

We would do well to remember there is no sphere of life or society where Christians are not called be a stabilizing and preserving influence (Matthew 5:13). Therefore, it is a good and healthy thing when Christians enter the political realm with the goal in mind of acting as salt and light in our world. Nonetheless, it is critical Christian politicians work to maintain their Christian testimony and do everything possible to avoid the corruption and evil that is so ubiquitous in modern politics. This is no easy task. The bottom-line on politics and Christianity is clear: Christians should be the best citizens and they should seek to steward their civic responsibilities well. However, whether or not a Christian chooses to run for elected office or goes all-in for certain candidates is a matter of personal choice and Christian liberty.

Matters of justice are a different story altogether. 

Christians are called to love justice (Micah 6:8), proclaim justice (Matthew 12:18), and be doers of justice (Hebrews 11:33). Furthermore, Christians are called to love and care for the weak and hurting in all circumstances. This means finding situations where injustice has taken root and then working to make those situations just and right from God’s perspective. There is no “out” for Christians when it comes to matters of justice. 

This is where things can get a bit tricky. 

In order to be doers of authentic justice, we have to understand the mind of Christ (1st Corinthians 2:16) well enough to know what real justice and righteousness “looks like” from Jesus’ perspective. Loving real justice means we have to learn how to separate our emotional reactions and the unredeemed belief systems of our culture from biblical truth.  Being obedient in this arena also means we have to understand that issues of justice and politics sometimes become intertwined. 

Take these three real-life situations as examples. 

It was announced Monday that parents who question and/or criticize their local school boards for curriculum decisions or protest mask mandates and other covid policies will be investigated by the Department of Justice as “domestic terrorists”. Regardless of whether or not the parents in question have committed acts of violence or threatened anyone with violence.   

Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Scheler is the only member of the U.S military being charged with any sort of crime after the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan that left twelve service members dead and at least a hundred Americans stranded in Afghanistan. His crime: making a series of videos criticizing the United States government for the way the withdrawal was conducted.

Prosecutors in Chicago have declined to charge gang members who were arrested in a gunfight that killed one person and left two others wounded because the men involved were all “mutual combatants”. 

Many Christians actively avoid weighing in on these and other issues because they deem these subjects to be “political” in nature.  In reality they are all clearly issues of justice, not politics:

Parents are commanded by God to be stewards of and guardians of their children. It is clearly an act of injustice for a parent to be considered a terrorist for doing what God has commanded them to do.  

It is not fair (just) for one person to be charged with a crime in the Afghanistan withdrawal. Especially when that person’s only crime appears to be complaining (albeit against military policy) about the way the withdrawal was handled. 

Refusing to charge gang members for killing people on a public street puts everyone in the area in danger.  It could be argued that the governments one job is to protect citizens from evil people (1st Peter 2:13-15). Consequently, the policy of only charging people who are not “mutual combatants” places bystanders and those who live in the neighborhood in danger and is therefore an unjust policy. 

I understand the reluctance Christians have of getting involved in politics. Politics are messy. The power structures in politics are unscrupulous and even good people can be corrupted by those structures. Furthermore, no one in the history of forever has ever had their heart changed by the political process and it is all-too easy for politics to take a place in our hearts that only God should have. 

That said. 

Christians have to learn to separate issues of politics from issues of justice. When we fail to do that we encourage injustice to flourish.