How Should We Respond to Gay Marriage? Like Jesus.

A few days ago the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that gay marriage will now be legalized in all fifty states. I think this was surprising to no one. We all knew it was coming, but the announcement revealed just how polarized our nation has become. Some celebrate it as a great victory for civil rights while others lament it as a sign of our nation’s moral depravity. For bible-believing Christians, the question is, what do we do now? How do we respond and how do we do it like Jesus?

Why We Must Speak

Some argue that we shouldn’t care at all, that we shouldn’t speak. Some think this ruling will not affect us and so we should just be silent and go about our business, keeping our opinions to ourselves but this most certainly does affect us. It is not just that our nation does not hold to biblical Christian values. It is that it is becoming increasingly anti-Christian and hostile to those who hold biblical world views. Already, Christian bakeries have been forced to go out of business because they did not want to participate in a gay wedding. So, it is naive to think that gay marriage will exist in some kind of a vacuum and have no effect on religious rights.

But how it will affect us is not the main reason we must speak about gay marriage. None of this is ultimately about us. Sin is ultimately about God. Marriage is ultimately about God. If our choices only had horizontal results, how they affect others, then I suppose the general rule of thumb would be as long as it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s fine. Indeed, this seems to be the general moral philosophy of our day. However, I would say that the other and more important aspect of our choices is a vertical one. Our sin is against God. It dishonors the holiness of God and that is why Christians simply cannot be silent.

Jesus held to every word of scripture. Jesus zealously defended the holiness of God. Jesus never altered His views or message to make it more culturally palatable. Jesus did not fear the scorn and derision of man. He had one authority. He lived to please one Person and so should we (Galatians 1:10).

Why We Must Grieve

To see sin embraced and celebrated this way should break our hearts because we know what sin does and where it leads. Satan is a master deceiver. He promises joy, happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, peace, but he ultimately comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Many are blinded. Many are in bondage.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because it was not willing to turn to Him and find peace. Just as he said to Jerusalem, Jesus says to America, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13:34). Our nation is in reckless rebellion against God. It grieves the heart of Christ and it should grieve our hearts too.

Why We Must Not Fear

I think a lot of Christians now feel a sense of panic and fear. We fear persecution. We fear for our children and the world they will grow up in, but let’s be reminded of the God we serve. He is not surprised. He is not worried. He didn’t wait for the Supreme Court decision and then think, “Darn, what do I do now?” Our God is sovereign over all. The Lord is in His heaven. Jesus is on His throne.

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings the princes to nothing; He makes the judges of the earth useless (Isaiah 40:21-23).”

Let us lift our gaze to our mighty God. Let us “lift up our voice with strength, lift it up and be not afraid (Isaiah 40:9)” and say to the people, “Behold your God!” He is greater than any ruler. We should not fear man or circumstances, but look to the God who is more powerful and supreme than any supreme court here on earth.

Persecution may come, but if it does, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (1 Peter 4:12). We must remember that nothing happens to us outside of the will of the loving and sovereign God who works all things for His glory and our good(Romans 8:28). This should also cause us to remember that this world is not our home, but we are “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).

Why We Must Preach the Gospel

In many ways, nothing has really changed. The world is still the world. We are still the Church and our calling is still the same, to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). I think we must resolve along with Paul, “to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). We must be careful not to proclaim our own self-righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness. We must fight having an “us and them” mentality, but remember the only thing that distinguishes us from them is the grace of God. We have to cling to the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and be sure that it is the message we send to the world. If we declare sin, let us also be sure to declare grace for “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Romans 5:20).” Sin is abounding in our nation, but there is more than enough grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have been recipients of this amazing grace and now we are called to be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:20). To preach this Gospel is our one task (Acts 20:24) and to be like Christ as we do it should be our greatest ambition. And how did He do it? Think of how He spoke to the woman at the well. He boldly told her her sins without fear of giving offense and also lovingly and freely offered her living water so that she would never thirst again (John 4:6-14). To the woman caught in adultery, He cast no stones, but He did commission her, not to go and keep on sinning, but to “go and sin no more (John 8:11).”

Jesus loved even when it was offensive. He loved when it was costly. He loved when it hurt. He loved perfectly and effectively. On our own, we fall so short of this perfect love, but He lives in us and He will love through us. What an opportunity we now have to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to be light in the darkness. What an opportunity we have to love as He loves and not as the world does. So, let’s do it. Let’s cling fiercely to the truth of His word and proclaim boldly the grace of His Gospel.

Lessons of Motherhood: Identity Crisis

As women, we feel a lot of pressure to do it all and have it all. Really though,I think this pressure might come more from within ourselves than from without. We feel like we need to be the perfect mom, wife, homemaker, career woman whatever. Our house needs to look like a Pinterest board. It needs to be clean all the time even though, hello! People live here. We need to come up with awesome, innovative ways to help our kids learn and grow so you know, they’ll be reading by the time they’re two. We need to make DIY furniture, laundry detergent, and anything else we could possibly “do ourselves.” Oh, and we need to look fabulous while doing it.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, it’s all just a little overwhelming. Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I feel discouraged because that is just so not how my life looks. I was wallowing in this tonight. Here’s a brief sound byte of what was going through my head. Oh my gosh this place is a mess. I just picked up. How is it already this big of a disaster? How come everywhere I turn, I see something I need to clean? It’s like impossible to keep things clean. I have one kid. What am I going to do when I have a whole bunch? Other women seem to be able to do it…Gideon’s face is covered in snot…and now so is my shirt. I always told myself I wouldn’t let my kids walk around with snotty faces, but there you have it…He still hasn’t started waving or clapping. I’m probably not doing enough to teach him and aid his development. He’s probably going to be slow because I didn’t teach him to wave…I haven’t showered and my hair is a mess. I used to have good hair, but now it’s kind of blah. I haven’t put make up on in days and I live in t-shirts and athletic shorts. That’s it. I’ve let myself go. I’m frumpy mom…

So there I was, wallowing and feeling just generally kind of depressed when God, as He sometimes does, opened my eyes and let me see. He showed me that I was doing it again. I was finding my identity in my “job performance.” Being a mother, wife, homemaker is currently my primary job, but it shouldn’t be my primary identity.

The story of Mary and Martha came to mind. Most of us are familiar with the story. Jesus comes to visit Mary and Martha. Martha is busy serving and trying to be a good hostess and she gets upset that her sister, Mary, isn’t helping, but is sitting at Jesus’s feet. I’ve never felt like I related much to Martha. I’m a thinker. not a doer. Just the word “multitask” gives me anxiety, but I think maybe now I understand her more. I think maybe Martha was letting her performance as a hostess and as a woman define her in ways that it shouldn’t. Maybe Martha was so upset because her identity was too tied up in it all. I think Jesus saw that. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her. {Luke 18:41).

It got me thinking about what I want my son and hopefully, other children to remember me by. What do I want them to learn from me? Do I want them to remember that I was always stressed about having it all together or that I always sat at the feet of Jesus? Do I want them to learn that our worth is in our performance and image or that our worth is in Christ?

I want to choose the good portion. I want to be like Mary, who felt free to not strive, but rest in the presence of her Lord. I want my children to know from my words and my life that one thing is necessary. One thing, one person, Jesus, is our peace, our hope, “the sure foundation for our souls.” I want them to know and so I need to know that Jesus is enough and we more than enough in Him.

Hope for the Weary Soul

“There is something rotten in the state of Denmark” and not just Denmark, but the entire world. While we disagree on so many things, there seems to be one subject on which we are all in almost complete agreement. There is something terribly wrong with this place. We all sense that this world is so much less than it should be.

Do you ever look at the world and just feel a sense of despair? Our culture becomes more and more alienated from God. There seems to be no limit the evil and depravity of this world. Sometimes, it’s just too overwhelming. Sometimes, we just can’t understand why God allows some things and how He will ever work good from them. Sometimes, it just seems like this world is just beyond repair. Sometimes, it just seems hopeless and all I want to do is find a place to hide.

I felt this way this morning and it made me turn to something I wrote back in college after going on a mission trip. As I witnessed evidence of the “rottenness” of this world, God reminded me of a few things and He is reminding me of them again today. First, this is not what He originally intended. This is not the good and perfect plan He had for His creation. Secondly, we are the sources of the rottenness. It is because of our trespasses against Him and not the other way around. The irony of it is that we often use the result of our own folly to cast judgment on or deny the existence of Him who created us. Finally, and most important, we do not need to despair because He has a plan to restore His creation which has already reached its climax in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I think we can all feel hopelessness and despair at times, so I wanted to share this with the hope that it will be encouraging to any who need it. Essentially, it is a compilation of scripture that helped puts things into focus. I think it is a good reminder of the full story of the Gospel. Here it is:

“I am the LORD and there is no other. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Before there was man, I AM. With wisdom, I laid the earth’s foundations. I placed the stars in the sky and I call them out by name. At my command, the sun rides forth on its fiery chariot. By my word, the rain falls and the sky lets drop the dew.

With love, I created man. I made him in my image. Each one I knew before there was time. I fashioned them in their mothers’ wombs and their frames were not hidden from me when I wove them together in the secret place. Even now I am acquainted with all their ways and I call them by name.

I have good plans for them, plans of hope and purpose. Yet, they rejected me. They did not honor me as God and so, sin has come in the world and with it, death. My beautiful sons and daughters which I designed and wove together with care, are now marred. My creation lays in ruin. It is like a diseased prostitute. She continues to choose not life, but death and offer herself up to idols. At every turn, there is death and despair. There is no beauty that is not tinged with brokenness, no joy that is not intermingled with sorrow.

Yet even now, amidst all this Death and Destruction, man does not turn back to me. They survey the works of their own hands, the wickedness, the corruption and tragedy, but they do not take up the blame that is their own. Instead, they raise up their fists to me. They charge me with their crimes. They cry out against the evil and injustice that has sunk its teeth and left its poison.

But what of my cry? Do I, the holy and righteous God, not disdain the evil of the hearts of men? These wayward people moan and wail, but is it not I who have been offended by their sin? Yes, and justice will be ever wrought by my hands for the transgressions of men have induced me to righteous wrath.

Yet, I am as merciful as I am just. Mercy and Justice, I weave together in a tapestry that tells of my glory. This is not what I intended. This was not my desire for those I formed with loving care. By their sin, I am as grieved as I am angered. Each one is precious. Each I want to reclaim as my own. And so, I have interposed my blood. I became the sacrifice to pay the price for their sin. I have done this to restore my creation, to redeem my beloved. I have loved with an everlasting love. In me, there is hope and truth. I offer grace. Have I not portrayed my goodness and love in every facet of my creation? Indeed, I have engraved it upon my very palms. There, the story of my love and mercy has been written.

So now, there is another power at work on the earth, not only sin, but grace. Is it not greater? Will it not achieve the work for which I have purposed it? Is it not powerful enough to destroy sin and vanquish evil? The world will be restored. I have spoken and it will stand firm for my Word cannot be moved. I am calling my sheep back to me. I am healing. I am renewing. I am cleansing with my blood and it will atone. I do all this for my name’s sake. I am the LORD and there is no other. All glory in heaven and earth is my due.

So you, my beloved, who have been redeemed, do not despair at what you see here. I have defeated sin and death. I will have the ultimate victory. Take heart, for I have overcome the world. And surely, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.”

So, I hope if you are reading this, that it is a reminder of God’s sovereignty and the future hope that we who are redeemed have, not only for ourselves, but for the world as well.  The world may, at times, seem hopeless and beyond repair, but it is not and in fact, the battle for it has already been won. We may not be able to see it, but God is, even now, in the process of redeeming this world. Remember the infinite reach of the Cross. There is no place that it can’t touch, no wound that it can’t heal, no wrong that it can’t right, and no darkness it can’t dispel. God has spoken and He will have the final word.

“Do Not Judge.” What Jesus Really Meant

One thing I learned from my post about Bruce Jenner going viral is that Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” is the favorite Bible verse of many. I also think it might be one of the most grossly misunderstood and abused verses. This led me to do a little research on it and hear what some respected Bible scholars have to say. I found this article by Sam Storms to extremely helpful and clarifying so I thought I would share.

http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/post/matthew-7:1-6

As he says, the misunderstanding mostly stems from relativistic thought that has pervaded the American psyche. “To their way of thinking, this verse demands that we never exercise ethical discernment in our evaluation of others, indeed that we never evaluate others at all. We are told we must always manifest complete and uncritical tolerance toward every conceivable lifestyle or belief.” -Sam Storms  But this is completely contrary to the immediate context of the verse and the teaching of the Bible as a whole.

Moreover, it is completely absurd and contradictory. We hold this command not to judge as a standard for all and cry “foul” when it is broken. Yet, in so doing, we abandon our relativistic ways for an absolute standard by which to judge others. You see, none of us really live by relativism. We preach tolerance and subjectivity, but we live by absolutes.

What this verse really prohibits is self-righteousness where we see ourselves as sinless and others as sinful and therefore set ourselves as arbiters of justice and condemnation. We all have this self-righteousness in us. None of us has completely pure hearts. Christ is the model of which we all fall short. He boldly told people their sins, but then forgave them unconditionally, not blessing them to continue on sinning, but freeing them to “Go and sin no more.” I pray that as I grow in Christ, He will remove the dross from the silver that I may be more like Him: perfectly loving and perfectly truthful.

The Gospel for Bruce Jenner

A few days ago I wrote a post about Bruce Jenner. My main point was that I don’t think this man is a hero. It has received over 2.5 million views and I have received some 4,000+ comments, many of them accusing me of being a hateful, judgmental, idiot. I am only human and I think we are all judgmental at times, but I really don’t think anything I said was hateful. I’m not sure when disagreeing with someone became the same as hating them, but there you have it. Nonetheless, it has compelled me to write a follow up post.

I have two goals when I write. First and foremost, I aim to exalt Jesus Christ, to show Him as the supreme treasure that He is, and secondly, to shed the light of the truth of His Gospel on issues here on earth. I have been accused of not showing God’s love to Bruce so that is what I want to do now in the best way I know how. I want to share the Gospel of Christ for Bruce Jenner, the Gospel for all of us. I will speak it all. I will not add or subtract. I will not be ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (Romans 1:16). So, Bruce, this is God’s message of hope and love to you.

Bruce, you are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). You are God’s idea. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, woven together in your mother’s womb by the very hands of God (Psalm 139:14-15) You have intrinsic value and worth not based on your self, but on your Creator.

But Bruce, you have a problem. You and I both have a problem. Because we have sinned, because we have broken God’s law and marred his image, we stand guilty before a holy God. None of us is righteous (Romans 3:10). We all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This sin has infected our souls, our bodies, even the very ground we walk on. It has so skewed our perception of reality that we cannot see the truth of God (Romans 1:21-23) nor can we see who we were meant to be. That is why we struggle to find our identity.That is why we look for it in all the wrong places, in money, in sex, in materialism, in fame, and even in altering your body to become a woman. We think these things will liberate us, but the truth is, they only keep us in bondage.

Not only that, but because God is holy and just, His wrath is aimed at us (Romans 1:18). Because of our sin, we are by nature objects of this wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Bruce, some people will try to tell you differently. Some will say that God is love and therefore, He just wants you to be happy and do what pleases you. Well, God is love, but if we don’t first see His righteous wrath, we will never understand or receive His amazing grace. The Gospel is meaningless and powerless to save without this truth. If we didn’t have a sin problem Christ would not have needed to die. But He did die. Why? Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Yet, God has shown His love for you, Bruce, by dying in your place while you were still in sin, while you were still rebelling against Him (Romans 5:8) in order that He might give you eternal life (Romans 3:21, Romans 6:23, John 3:16) and set you free from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:18). You see, His love does not affirm us in our sin but liberates us from it.

Bruce, Jesus died as a sacrifice for your sins. He rose from the dead in victory over them.  He stands now, arms open, calling you to Himself so that He might freely pour out His grace and love upon you. All you need do is go to Him, but one thing you must know. You cannot get near the mercy of God without also getting near His holiness. You cannot come to the cross on your own terms. You cannot have him as Savior without also yielding to Him as Lord. Christ died to put your sin to death so you must put it to death too (Romans 6:5-14).

No, I don’t think you are a hero, but Jesus is. Bruce, are you weary? He will give you rest. Are you confused? He will give you truth. Are you struggling to find hope and meaning? Jesus will give it to you. He will give you life. He will tell you who you were made to be.  You were made to be His. Listen to Him. Answer His call.

Weary, burdened wanderer, there is rest for thee at the feet of Jesus in His love, so free. Listen to His message, words of life, forever blest. Oh, thou heavy-laden, come to me, come and rest

There is freedom, taste and see. Hear the call, come to me. Run into His arms of grace. Your burden carried, He will take, yeah yeah, He will take

Bring Him all thy burdens, all thy guilt and sin. Mercy’s door is open, rise up and enter in

There is freedom, taste and see. Hear the call, come to me. Run into His arms of grace. Your burden carried, He will take, oh, He will take

Jesus, there is waiting patiently for thee. Hear Him gently calling, come, oh, come to me. Come, oh, come to me. Come, oh, come to me

Won’t you come? Won’t you come? There is freedom, taste and see. Hear the call, come to me. Run into His arms of grace. Your burden carried, He will take

Bruce Jenner Is Not A Hero

I generally try to steer clear of controversial issues on here. Most are so deeply embedded in presuppositions that writing about them generally just generates more anger and frustration than meaningful discussion. However, I never want to shy away from speaking something that needs to be said even if I know it is not something people want to hear. So, I want to talk about Bruce Jenner.

Today, Bruce Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, dressed as a woman and introducing himself to the world as “Caitlyn Jenner.” You see, he has decided that he is a woman and that by saying it and probably some very extensive surgery, he can make it so. In today’s world, we think gender is something we get to choose, like our career path or our clothes. So, people across the nation have lauded him as a hero. Certainly, this is the current opinion of the masses, but I have to say it. The emperor has no clothes and Bruce Jenner is not a woman.

You can tell me that there is a difference between gender and sex, that Bruce was born with a male body and a female soul, but I would ask where did he get this soul? If there is no God, we are all nothing more than raw matter, we have no souls. If, however, we do have souls, there must be something more than the material. There must be something spiritual and if there is something spiritual, there must be a God who gave us these spirits, but if there is a God, would He make the mistake of putting a female soul in a male body? How can we know? We can know by what He tells us in His word. “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27) and He does not make mistakes, but does everything perfectly with love and wisdom.

We seem to want to erase the idea of gender and reinforce it all at once. We don’t want to have to conform to gender stereotypes. We don’t want to be put into categories and yet we want to be able to transfer ourselves by self-declaration from one category to another. We are so in love with our rebellion against God that we cannot see the absurdity and inconsistency of it all.

You may scoff at me. You may call me close-minded because I have allowed my religious beliefs to (gasp!) affect my judgments of propositions such as “Bruce Jenner is a woman trapped in a man’s body.” But if being open-minded means unquestioningly accepting anything and everything because it is progressive or popular, then I want no part of it. If you think I view the world from a Christian perspective and reject things that, based on that world view and common sense, are absurd, I will unabashedly and unapologetically agree.

If you don’t see things from the same Christian world view that I do, we probably do not agree and that is no surprise, but I must insist on one thing.  Bruce Jenner is not a hero.  A hero is someone who has done something brave or noble, who has sacrificed for others.  Bruce Jenner has done none of these things.  He is a man who has posed in women’s clothing on the cover of a magazine, garnering excessive media attention.  What’s more he has waited to do so until the optimum moment when he was most sure to receive praise and acceptance.  Heroes risk much and gain little.  Bruce Jenner has risked little and gained much. I am sure there are many people out there who do things to deserve the title of “hero,” but Bruce Jenner is not one of them.  He is not a hero and he is not a woman.  He is what we all are: lost, sinful, and desperately in need of Jesus. I pray he finds Him.