Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blood Moons and Suckers

We've been told,
God has warned us,
Jesus is comin' soon. (Blind Willie Johnson) 

I watched the blood moon last night. I don't know about your house, but over here, we've pretty much had a collective shrug at all the eschatological hubbub around this event. Like I tell my kids, "If anyone starts telling you that they've figured this thing out, run. Run fast. In the other direction." There's only one thing we know for sure. No man knows the hour. I have that on good authority.

But as I sat there that night and watched the shadow of the earth creep across the face of the moon, I couldn't help but think. Jesus IS going to come. There WILL BE a day when that happens. Until then, He orchestrates these beautiful lunar eclipses that demonstrate His glory and His majesty. I hope you didn't miss that as you watched.

A few years ago, Brett attended a conference on eschatology, in which seven different views of the end times were presented. Seven. Talk about a theological fun-house. Someone is distorting what's said in the scripture. The problem is...I'm just not sure which one. They were each, after all, arguing from the scriptures. You gotta give them credit for that.

John Piper recently wrote an article in which he exhorted his students not to be suckers--eschatological suckers. He pointed out that we all have a tendency to think that there are nothing but blue skies head, even though God has warned us, in the scriptures, of a coming final judgment.

Seems John Piper and Blind Willie are of the same mind on that point. I have to agree.
Where is the promise of His coming? 
I don't want to be that sucker.

Still, there is another side to that coin. We can be suckers in another way, too. We can be suckers by getting sucked into much ado about blood moons. I don't want to be that sucker, either. I don't want that distraction.

I want to be a good wife, honoring and helping my husband.
I want to be a good mom, bringing up my kids in the fear and nurture of the Lord.
I want to be a contributing part of my church.
I want to work out my salvation in fear and trembling.
I want to be kind and tender-hearted and put away all anger, wrath, and malice.
I want to make it my aim to live a peaceful and quiet life.
I want to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.
I want to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things.
I want to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.

I do not want to distracted, not even for a moment, by blood moons. I don't want to suspend any of the good things, things I know I'm told to do, to run to the hills. Blood moons shouldn't make me scoff; neither should they make me fear. Blood moons should make me worship the One who holds the world together by the word of His power.

We are salt and light. But some people track Jesus' return like NORAD tracks Santa on Christmas Eve. What a waste of the brief time that's been given to us. I suspect that while they're circling the wagons around their star charts and their 'prophets,' they are salt losing its saltiness; they are lights under a bushel.

(Pause here for a rant about John Hagee. John "I left my wife for the church secretary and I don't care" Hagee? Hagee's got a thing or two comin', none of which look like a crown of life. If Hagee's your hobby, you need a new hobby. And that's all I'm going to say on that point...)

Jesus did not come back the other night. No surprise there. Some of you are laughing that I even had to say that. On the other hand, some of you were seriously thinking about hunkering down.

I don't want to be a blue skies sucker.
I don't want to be a run-for-the-hills sucker.
I want to be the Church.
I want to be a salty preservative in a culture of death.
I want to be light in a dark place.

So let's keep on keepin' on, one foot in front of the other, loving God and living holy out in front of a watching and dying world. Let's live in such a way that our Lord receives us with, "Well done, Salt and Light. Enter into the joy of your Master."

Like a bride waiting for her groom, we'll be a church ready for You,
Every heart longing for her King, we sing, 
Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come.*

*(Even So, Come by Jason Ingram, Chris Tomlin, Jess Cates, 2015) 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Shout Your Abortions?

Shout your abortions?

Dear woman who has had an abortion,

If you had an abortion because your father failed to protect you, because he thought treating you 'like an adult' meant cutting you loose to do your own thing, because he abdicated his responsibility, because he'd rather be your 'friend' than your 'father,' because he insisted that confronting you would drive you away rather than bring you to safety,
or because he abandoned you, never knew you, abused you, or had better things to do or more important relationships to pursue, I am so sorry.
Please know that there is a better Father out there.

If you had an abortion because your church shamed you, rejected you, cast you aside, tossed you out, I am so sorry. Please know that there is a better church  out there.

But be honest.
Did you give your father a chance to protect you?
Did you give your church a chance to support you?
Or, if you're really, really honest with yourself, down in that part of your heart where only you and God can see...
Were you proud?
Were you willful?
Determined to have the quick fix?

Do you find that you have, not so much a compassion for women who have had abortions, as a solidarity with them?
Do you find that you want to lend your voice to the cacophony, rejoicing in this murderous, self-worshipping, God-rejecting mayhem?
Do  you find that you try to civilize abortion by shifting the terms of the debate?
Do you find that you'd rather talk about a barrel full of red herrings (like government programs or blame-shifting or social 'justice'...) than the tiny soul who has inherent worth and is entitled to life?
That's right; that baby is more than just a tiny body with a beating heart. There's a soul there, a soul, and you have NO IDEA what you are dealing with. Or Whom.
Do you find a certain smugness for mincing pro-life and pro-birth? or 'yeah, but' attitudes that claim I can't have principles if I don't also have perfection?
Do you find it cathartic to shout your abortion?

Don't do this wicked thing. Please don't do it.
There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 
You think your way leads to validation.
You think your way leads to freedom.
You think your way leads to life.
But it doesn't; it leads to death.

There is a way that leads to life.
There is a faithful and just Father who will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness, if you confess your sin to Him.
There is a Savior who became abortion and selfishness and rebellion on the Cross and absorbed all of God's wrath against those things, so that you could boldly approach the Throne of Grace.
There is a real body of bona fide believers who have received mercy and grace in their time of need, and they stand ready to be conduits of that same mercy and grace for you.

Do you know where the dignity is found in this debate?
Not amongst the shrieking divas shouting their abortions and waving hangers around like deviant keepsakes. Dignity is found in the sisterhood of saints who love much because they have been forgiven much.

Lay down your weapons and your arguments and your fight.
You will not win this one.
Neither your volume, nor your passion, nor your numbers will win this one.

This is not about winning.
This is about living.
You living.
Living with a forgiven past, a new heart, a fresh start, by way of a faithful Savior.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
Such were some of you. But you were washed; but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
I Corinthians 6:9,11

Now, that's something to shout about!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Gospel of Psalm 121

I flagged the other night. I could feel it. Funny when sin comes upon you unsuspecting, crouching at your door. I was just puttering around the kitchen, and, whamo! there it was in my heart. It spread to my mind, and I was beginning to 'go there' where I shouldn't. It spread through my body, where I could feel my jaw tighten and my muscles clench.

Take every thought captive...
Master it, or it will master you...

It was a momentary stand on the precipice of sin, vanishing almost as quickly as it came. I fought it; I caught it--thanks only to the Holy Spirit. But it had come. I can't deny that. I don't mean to imply that me battling sin is somehow infrequent. It's just that this time was more like a weird out-of-body experience in which I was simultaneously fighting the battle and observing it.

The heart is desperately wicked...
Every inclination of the heart is only evil all the time...

Sin did not pounce on me from the outside. It was not lurking around the corner. The devil didn't make me do it. Sin came from inside my heart because that's where sin always comes from. I was nobody's victim. I didn't need therapy, counseling, or healing. I needed to repent.

I lift my eyes to the mountains. From where shall my help come?

Psalm 121, my favorite psalm, is a Song of Ascents. When the Jews made each of three annual, required pilgrimages to Jerusalem, they sang songs of ascent. And those mountains? We're inclined to read into the text that they were a source of help. But Ligon Duncan disagrees. Those mountains, which signified Jerusalem, were a menace. They were the reason the psalmist was crying for help in the first place. I have to agree.

But forget for a moment the physical dangers of the road. Forget the wild beasts. Forget the lawless men. Forget the blistering heat of the day or the terrifying darkness of the road at night. They were going to Jerusalem to meet the Lord.

If there's one area where the ancient Jew has the modern Christian licked--in spades--it would be the way he feared the Lord, as in, he was terrified. These were people intimately acquainted with what the Lord could do, not for them, but to them. It was part of their psyche because it was part of their history:
the earth opening up and swallowing people whole...
serpents biting and killing them...
fire consuming them...
plagues decimating them...
enemies dragging them off to captivity...
(For a more complete catalog of God-induced misery, see Deuteronomy 28. Yikes.)

So here's the Jew, making his annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was supposed to be a time of feasting, celebrating, not what the Lord had done to them, but for them. Nevertheless...he will be cut off from his people if he doesn't go. And he must not appear before the Lord empty-handed when he does go--you know, the same Lord who did those things cited above...

Where does his help come from, indeed.

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

Oh. So the Lord, who is making this requirement of me, is going to help me carry it out. Now hold on. What does that sound like? The gospel. This sounds like the gospel. God is going to ask me to do something hard...and then He's going to help me get it done.

Author Trevin Wax says in his book, Gospel-Centered Teaching, that we must be careful to read all of Scripture in a way that is distinctively Christian. He says that if we read, for instance, the Old Testament in a way that a faithful rabbi would concur with...we're reading it wrongly.

So how does the gospel impact the way I read this, my favorite psalm? I can see how the Jew on his pilgrimage might read it. But how do I read it through a cross-centered lens?

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.

Sleep is an incredible gift. On a good night, the sun sets, the work is over, the melatonin kicks in, and we're off to LaLa Land. On a good night. But not all nights are good nights. I can think of a number of things that keep me from having a good night:
A child heavy on my heart...
A difficult relationship...
A health issue...
The future...
The past...
But most of all, the ultimate sleep stealer is the reality of my sin and the fact that that makes me not right with the Lord. Scares the livin' daylights out of me. For some reason, I'm able to think more clearly when the sun is up. For some reason, I'm able to see the facts, preach the gospel to myself, and understand the renewing mercies of the Lord during the day. And that's why I need to sleep, not think, at night.

But He will not allow my foot to slip. That truth should give me rest. He keeps me, AND He will not slumber. Here's the good news: the Lord does the work of wakefulness so that I can find rest and sleep. No wonder the psalmist says elsewhere that He gives sleep to those He loves.

The Lord will protect you from all evil; he will keep your soul.

Evil. My first thought of evil is bad guys. Criminals. Terrorists. Tyrants. People who seek to do me harm. But the fact is that the most damaging evil is the evil in my own heart. I know that. Deep, deep down, I know that. We have got to start thinking correctly about evil. God does NOT promise to keep me from the bad guys. He promises to keep my soul.

When I had that out-of-body experience the other night, it was sobering. I was instantly aware of how sinful that was against the Lord, what a precarious place that put me, how quickly something offensive could bubble up out of my heart. But He was faithful. As quickly as I sinned, He was right there with a warning. And He was right there with forgiveness. He was keeping my soul.

The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.

One day, two thousand years ago, another Man made this pilgrimage. He looked to the hills of Jerusalem, set His face like flint, and went. He went, not to celebrate what the Father had done for Him, but to receive what the Father was about to do to Him. He did not come empty-handed; He offered Himself. And the awful irony is that His sacrifice cut Him off from the land of the living. The Father poured out His wrath...and then the Father turned His face away.

Because Jesus did not appear empty-handed before the Lord, I do not appear empty-handed before the Lord.
Because Jesus was cut off, I will never be cut off.
Because of what the Father did to Him, I can celebrate what He will do for me.

The Cross is not ancillary to Psalm 121.
The Cross is key to Psalm 121. 
So let's read it again, this time through the lens of the Cross.

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day nor the moon by night. 
The Lord will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. 
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever. 

The Lord brought me in. And the Lord will bring me all the way home.
My help comes from the Lord.
That's gospel, people.
That's gospel.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

God's Not Finished With Me Yet--The Power of Hope

I saw the power of hope this week.

It was a tough week for one of my kids. Seemed that every time I turned around, I was rebuking, scolding, and yes, I even yelled at her one evening. She was tangling with everyone; her jaw was stubbornly set in a 'so what' posture; her eyes blazed.

I truly have no idea what set her off. But I could see it was ruling her.

After three straight days of hauling her into the Crisis Room--I mean, study--hauling her into the study, she and I were both emotionally spent. So, after I triaged her to get littler ones put to bed, I took her--and my Bible--and headed out back for a little one on one time.

There was a particularly despairing moment when she put her head down on the table and sobbed. This girl needed some hope. She needed it desperately.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 
Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. 
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. 
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You. (Psalm 51:10-13)

Do you know who wrote this? I asked.
No, she didn't.
King David. Do you know who he is?
Yes, she did.
And do you know that while he was a man after God's own heart, he sinned grievously?
Her eyes were focused. I had her full attention now.

That evening, sitting in the back yard, my little 8 yr old heard the story of David, and his sin against Bathsheba, Uriah, and the Lord. It's safe to say, by the audible gasps, that she was fairly thunderstruck.

Do you know that God heard David's prayer that day? forgave him? restored him?
And do you know that David never failed to have a man sit on the throne of Israel? and that was God's promise to him?
She nodded in wonder. The light was going on...

There is a reason the writer of Hebrews refers to hope as the "Anchor of the Soul."
Without hope, our souls would drift like a ship lost at sea,
no particular direction, no particular destination.
But with hope...
With hope, our souls stay rooted, anchored to exactly the place we should be.
Hope gives us the energy to do the next thing.
Hope gives us courage to do hard things.
And hope has this amazing power to take our eyes off of ourselves and to fix them upon Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

Author AND Finisher.
God goes by lots of titles in the Bible.
But that one is my favorite.
He is the author of my faith.
He chose me. He raised me to life. He gave me the gift of repentance. He forgave me. He adopted me as his daughter.
He is the finisher of my faith.
He will not un-choose me, un-raise me, un-give to me, un-forgive me, un-adopt me. That would be the Un-Gospel.
He will sanctify me. He will conform me to His image. He will bring me to the Father.
And on that last day, He will save me.
He started this work. And He will finish what He started.

Between the beginning and the end...
it is hope that anchors me in the Now and the Not Yet.
It is hope that keeps my eyes on Him.
It is hope that keeps me from despair when I fail Him.
And when I fail Him again.
And again.
It is hope that makes me get to my feet, dust myself off, and get back in the race.
It is hope that brings me sleep at night.

So we sat there, the 8 yr old and I, in the backyard, and we prayed. We prayed for forgiveness. We asked God to do what we can't: to create a clean heart in us.

She came out to the meeting, a despondent, hopeless soul.
She left, laughing and light-hearted.
The joy of her salvation was restored.
THAT is the power of hope.

Create in me a clean, clean heart.
Create in me a work of art.
Create in me a miracle,
Something real, something beautiful.
God's not finished with me yet.
God's not finished with me yet.
By His help, I can change, I can change.
God's not finished with me yet.*

*(Rend Collective, 2014)

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Wisdom of George Bailey

How long, o simple ones, will  you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

My family has had the awesome privilege of watching The Scoffer in action. I mean that in the most earnest way because we've simultaneously been going through the first nine chapters of Proverbs, and it helps to have a real flesh-and-blood example to point to.

Look, kids. This! This is the scoffer of Proverbs.

As we learned from the beginning chapters back in the spring, the fool of Proverbs ranges from simple to scoffer. We are all on the spectrum somewhere, and we would do well to plot ourselves there in order that we might gain a heart of wisdom. And as we learned yesterday, we are daily beckoned by the ladies Wisdom and Folly, "Turn in here!"

If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.

The Simple is a human shrug.
He is careless in his handling of Wisdom.
His interpretation is sloppy and self-serving.
'Meh,' he says when the light of God's Word shines on his life.
And he goes his own way--to his own peril.

The Scoffer, though.
The Scoffer is a man with a Cause.
He is articulate.
He is clever.
He is passionate.
He is sincere.

Scoffer has a PR machine to die for.
He's got media, and he knows how to use it.

Simple might pay a regrettable visit to Lady Folly's house.
But Scoffer is driving the tour bus.
He wants to take as many people with him as he can.

Scoffer is the man with the bullhorn defending his Cause.
He is not only not bothered that the Simple follow him in droves--au contraire--he craves it.
He celebrates it...because he feels validated by sheer numbers.

Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof... 

When Wisdom confronts the Scoffer, points to his error, shows him the path of life, Scoffer is the man putting his fingers in his ears. blahblahblahblahblahI'mnotlistening.

Because Scoffer would rather be right than wrong.
Come again?
Yeah. Scoffer would rather be right than wrong.

I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer. They will seek me diligently but will not find me.

Um, you're thinking. Who wouldn't rather be right than wrong?
The Wise Man.

The Wise Man would rather be told he's wrong...
The Wise Man would rather be rebuked and rescued...
The Wise Man would rather be corrected than coddled...
Because the Wise Man would rather live than die.

Last night, as I tucked my 6 yr old into bed, I asked him about fools. What's a fool?
He looked shy and hesitated. I don't think I can tell you, he said. He's bad...
Yes, I said, he's bad.
'He doesn't listen,' he said.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel, and despised all my reproof, therefore, they shall eat the fruit of their way and have their fill of their devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them...

The fool doesn't listen.
I can't think of a better definition.
Two hours earlier, we had attended a scouting Court of Honor where fathers spoke blessings over their sons for the past year and for the affirming things they saw in their sons' lives. It was a powerful thing to witness. One father commended his son for his wisdom. You listen, he said.


So clear-cut, this dichotomy between wisdom and foolishness.
The fool doesn't listen.
The wise man listens.
And the wise man lives.

The Simple shrugs at wisdom.
The Scoffer mocks wisdom.
And they die.

Oh, it may not be a spiritual death. He might be a believer. But his stubborn recategorization of folly as wisdom and of the wise man as fool, will catch up to him. He will experience the absence of life in his health or his relationships or his abundance. Proverbs promises that.

Sobering thoughts.
Unless you're the Scoffer...
in which case you laugh at wisdom's warnings.
And you urge others to do the same.
But wisdom will have the last laugh. Refuse me, says wisdom, and one day, it will be too late. On that day, though you earnestly seek me, I will laugh at you and the mess you have made.

Dear God, I want to live! prayed George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life" after his brush with Folly.
Wise man, George. He didn't defend himself. He didn't scoff or mock. He humbled himself.
Dear God, I want to live! likewise prays the Wise Man.
And the Wise Mom.
When we visit Folly's house, (and we will all visit Folly's house) may we flee to Wisdom for refuge. So yeah. The fool who lives in my house is going to get an earful about life and death.
He doesn't get to stay foolish.
Not on my watch.

And yeah. The fool who doesn't live in my house is going to be the poster boy for how to self-destruct. See kids? Solomon was not making this up.

I want to be wise. I want to be George Bailey wise.
I want to be open to correction.
Dear God, I want to live!
And I want the same things for my children.

But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster. (Proverbs 1:22-33)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

After the Darkness, Light

This post has been simmering in my heart for a few months, especially as I meet with more friends who, like me, are well into the season of life where we are launching grown children and coming alongside as they navigate adulthood. Or maybe you're one who's just now walking into this season. Without even trying, I can rattle off name after name of friends who are finding this season more challenging than anyone prepared us for.

Sometimes we are tentative. Things look good; then again, he has yet to be proven in the fires of the big, bad world. And we see further down the pike than he does. We know some of what lies ahead. Like a friend said to me, "He doesn't know what he doesn't know."

Sometimes we are tearful; that gap we left, that unturned stone, it is now showing up, wreaking havoc in her life, and breaking our hearts.

Rarely are any of my friends finding this to be seamless. After spending twenty-ish years laying a foundation, and then building upon it, we finally take the scaffolding down and stand back. It's an awesome thing to watch them stand on their own. Then we breathe again.

Or maybe you're still holding your breath.
Pensive doubting, fearful heart.
This one's for you.

"He is still risen."
The day after Easter, my newsfeed was lit up with this proclamation. I don't have a problem with setting a day aside to remember the Resurrection. As long as...
As long as we don't forget on all those other days.  But if I greeted you today with the joyous proclamation "He is risen!" you would think me odd or maybe clever. I know that because it's June, and there's nary a hint of Resurrection on my newsfeed today. We are forgetful creatures, indeed.

He is risen!
We need this Truth.
We need it on a random Tuesday.
We need it in August.
We need it in the dead of winter.

He is risen!
We need to steep in this hope.
We need it in our church families.
We need it in our marriages.
And we need it in our parenting.

We need, every day, the Truth that God is in the business of raising dead people to life.

"Post tenebras lux."
After darkness, light.

It was the theme of the Geneva Reformation after literally centuries of darkness for the Church, brought on largely by bad soteriology (doctrine of salvation) and bad ecclesiology (doctrine of the church). Throw in widespread illiteracy and an elitist oligarchy which functioned under the misnomer 'priesthood', and we had a first class mess that practically guaranteed no one could be a Berean, even if they wanted to.

Then--at just the right time--God raised up men who would stand up to the Enemy and bring the Gospel to the people. Their goal was to preach salvation to every corner of society, from the king on his throne to the boy who drove the plow. The darkness was beginning to die. The good news of the Resurrection was gaining ground. A full-blown reformation was at hand.

The hope of this reformation was anchored in the Resurrection, that God, who raised Jesus from the dead, could also raise the king and the plow boy to life, justified by a faith that came from God Himself.

After the darkness, light.
Likewise, the hope of reformation in our children is anchored in the Resurrection. The same Father who raised His Son to life can raise your child to life. The same Father can turn your child's heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Relating to these new adults we know as our children is delightful. There's nothing as wonderful as investing in this parenting relationship and then waking up one day to realize that these fascinating, deep, gifted people are our friends. And we enjoy being with them. More amazing still, they enjoy being with us! Who knew?

They aren't 'fun size' any more, though.
These adult kids are like Texas; everything's bigger.
Gone are the days of potty training and spilled milk.
Gone even are the days of junior high awkwardness, immaturity, and insecurity.
Gone are the simpler questions like, Which airsoft rifle should I buy?

Adults have adult questions.
Who am I, and why am I here?
Is God Who you always told me He is?
We're no longer talking about obedience; we're talking about accountability.
We're no longer talking about rules; we're talking about wisdom.
We're teaching less and dialoguing more.

Adults struggle with adult sins.
This is what has my mom friends in tears.
And this is where we need to remind ourselves that He is still risen.
When the reality of your children's sin nature smacks you in the face, find your hope in the Resurrection.

I was reading Exodus this morning. God toys with the Red Sea as the children of Israel look on. First, He parts it. He parts a sea. Are you grasping this? He parts a SEA in two and leads Israel through it! I would love to have been a fly on that wall. What were the little guys saying? Mommy, look at that big fish! What were the old folks saying? Never in all my born days...Then--at just the right time--He closes it over their enemies. Finished. Done. Kaput. God:1/Pharoah:0. Game over.

But then. In the fifteenth day of the second month, this: they grumble against the Lord.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  They just walked through a sea parted by the Lord on their behalf...and now they are grumbling?!?

Seems incredible to us. But we do the same thing when we fret over our kids.

God raised Jesus from the dead. Think about that. He died a death so horrible, so tortuous and terrible, that His body wasn't even recognizable. And God raised Him to life! God raised YOU from the dead, too. You were dead in your sin. You were at enmity with God. And--at just the right time--God made you the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus!

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too formerly lived in the lust of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us even when we were dead in our transgressions made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:1-6

Have you forgotten that? Did you witness the hand of God in your own life, but you grumble against the Lord that He has not worked in your child? Do you doubt the faithfulness of God because of the sinfulness of your child?

After the darkness, light.
Sometimes, there are sad seasons of darkness that you have to walk through with your child. If she is saved, grieve with her. Forgive her. Come alongside her. And remind her that Jesus has raised her to life. If he is not saved, bring him to the Father in prayer. Petition the Lord to save him. Trust the sovereignty and goodness of the Father.  Look at His Resurrection track record.

All the walls, I will repair.
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew.
And in thee it shall appear, 
What a God of love can do.*

Oh, mama, this is what the Gospel is for!
Jesus died because your children do sin, not because they might sin.
But, praise God, Jesus is Risen!
And the Father is in the business of bringing dead people to life.
That includes your children.

For if we have been united with him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like His. Romans 6:5

Can I get an amen?

*Pensive Doubting, Fearful Heart, words John Newton, 1779, music Justin Smith, 2012, Indelible Grace.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Bruce Jenner the Person raises some interesting questions about grace. I've learned a lot about grace in the last year. I've learned what it looks like to give grace and to receive it. I've learned the power of grace to change lives. But I freely confess that I don't know how to do grace with an unrepentant person who is thumbing his nose at God and glorying in his sin. And I don't know how to do grace with someone I'll likely never meet.

I do know this, though: His grace was not intended as a place to wipe your feet.*

So I admit it. I don't dwell on Bruce Jenner the Person. It's not that I wish him poorly; it's just that he's not even a blip on my radar screen. I don't know the man.  I don't wonder what he's up to today. I don't keep up with his social network. I don't lie awake at night worrying about him. If he were my brother, my neighbor, or my grocery checker, that would be different. But there are 20 degrees of separation here. There is, therefore, little obligation of moral proximity. I will leave that to the believers who do actually know him.

And I'll admit this, too. I'm pretty tired of articles and admonitions telling me I can't speak to the topic unless I am praying for him...Praying for him? I'm praying for my bi-vocational husband, my children, my daughter-in-law, and my granddaughter, my church family, my government, the persecuted church, and a handful of unsaved friends. Bruce Jenner is so far down the list, he's not even on the list. Sorry.

And that precludes me from weighing in on the topic?

I care very much about Bruce Jenner the Proposition.
And that has everything to do with those who do live within my moral proximity: chiefly, my children.

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 
I Corinthians 14:20

Bruce Jenner the Proposition is about definitions.
Mamas, my concern here is for our children. Part of our job as mother, as educator, as discipler, is to teach our children the vocabulary of Truth. And know this, deep in your bones. If you don't...someone else will.

A tree is not a car.
A dog is not a piano.
A man is not a woman.
Lopping off body parts and pasting on other ones does not alter that in the slightest.
Bruce Jenner is a man.

That is not hateful.
Or intolerant.
Or narrow-minded.
It is fact.
And facts are stubborn things.

Facts are also simple things. You are what your DNA says you are. And your DNA is what God says it is. So someone who rejects his gender is doing much more than rejecting his DNA; he is rejecting God, the architect of DNA. It is a shame that we have to spend more than a moment on this silly, stupid argument. These are facts my six year old can grasp. But we do have to spend time here because our culture insists on intellectual regress. In contrast, our homes should be places which foster delight, not doubt, in God's wisdom as Creator. There is no room in a gospel-saturated home for a creation 'oops.'

Bruce Jenner the Proposition is about legacy.
If Bruce Jenner the person were to die today, I would be sobered, not because it was Bruce Jenner, whom I do not know, but because any time a soul who lived at enmity with God has gone to face his Maker, I have the same two responses:
I am saddened and sobered for his eternity.
I am humbled and grateful for mine--because I know I don't deserve it.

But Bruce Jenner the Proposition is not going to die; it is here to stay until Jesus returns. That is his sad legacy. Even if Bruce becomes a believer (make no mistake; the gospel is big enough to save Bruce Jenner), his legacy will always be linked to this sin. Even if he turns from the Wide Path, there will be countless others who will be influenced. That's what happens when we choose foolishness over wisdom. That's what happens when we let our feet stray, even for a moment, to the right or to the left.

Bruce Jenner's legacy is forcing this issue from dark and twisted corners to glamourous magazine covers. He's normalizing a perversion that has never been normal before. Think about it. Do  you remember the night your dad or mom sat you down and explained transgenderism to you? No. You don't. They didn't need to. But we do, thanks to the legacy of Bruce Jenner.

Chiefly, though, Bruce Jenner the Proposition is about bravery.
Jenner works at his perversion like Tim Duncan works at free throws. It's the easiest thing in the world to do. And without the restraining power of the Holy Spirit, we would, too. We love our flesh. It calls to us, and we lean in to it as it beckons over the cliff. That's not brave; that's depraved.

Bravery is doing what is right at the risk of personal cost. Bravery is hard. This man is the darling of the Wide Path. He risks nothing to explore his depravity. But culture stands there in its castle built on sand and calls him "brave."

And, Church, listen up.
Neither is it brave for you and I to curl up into a fetal ball and keep the peace. We are afraid of speaking the Truth because, by definition, the Truth offends. It sets limits. By speaking what Truth is, we necessarily speak what Truth is not. We are afraid of being rejected by friends or co-workers.
We are afraid of being seen as loveless, compassion-less, thoughtless. And we are really, really afraid of standing alone.

Face it.
We fear the rejection of man more than we value the approbation of God.

On the other hand, it is brave to be true to our Lord.
While it is cowardly to keep peace, it is brave to make peace.
It is brave to defend righteousness.
It is brave to stand alone.

You know what, though? Part of me doesn't want to be brave and doesn't want my kids to be brave.
I don't want them to be scorned, mocked, rejected, disdained.
I don't want them to lose jobs, friends, reputations.
I don't want this to cost me. And I don't want this to cost them.

But then I remember Stephen.
And Paul. And Peter.
I remember John Bunyan.
And William Tyndale.
And Richard Wurmbrand.
I remember our current ambassadors in chains,
like Saeed Abedini.
My cowardice makes a mockery of these men who have, like their Savior, set their faces like flint and taken up their crosses.
Or...would it be better to say that their courage makes a mockery of my cowardice?
And rightfully so.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. I Peter 2;11

It is tough right now to be a Christian. But it has always been tough. The path has always been narrow. And we have always been aliens. So set your face like flint, and carry your cross.
It's time to be...

All I know is I'm not home yet. 
This is not where I belong.
Take this world and give me Jesus.
This is not where I belong.**

*Angry Young Men, Randy Stonehill, 1985
**Where I Belong, Building 429, 2010