I Can’t Love You and Tell You You’re Not a Man

I can’t love you well while lying to you.

I can’t love you well by lying about God to you.

He made you and He’s good and you’re a wonderful creation of His. And He’s made you a man. There’s beauty in that, startling beauty in this reality that the crafter of the earth chose to make you as a man.

This transgender philosophy is lying to you. Speaking broadly, the world is lying to you. Many within both are doing it from a place of misguided kindness, the sort that just goes along to get along and doesn’t want to bother anybody. (“Oh that’s how people are living now? Well, you know, to each his [er, I mean her] own.”) But kind lying is still lying, and you’re still a man. Carefully woven by a good God, you are a true and complicated and thorough man. Your feelings can never change that. And this is good.

I know there are wounds and sins and fears that run deep in your heart. I know they are a part of this. But Jesus’ grace is deeper. And that grace can address what their lies (and your own) can’t. Because true things always run deeper than false ones.

It’ll take a lot of time and even more love to put to death the deceit and the sin that are under all of this, but I have a lot of both with your name on them. I’m not going anywhere. I was rescued from abject spiritual rebellion. I was a gossip, a narcissist, a disrespectful son and a hateful brother. I sinned sexually and relationally and vocationally. But the God of the Heavens broke my heart and my knees and gave me a love I’ll never be able to earn. He saved me. So how can I not love everyone? And how can I not tell them the truth?

How can I not love you, having been loved so deeply myself by our common Creator?

Here are my affection and my commitment to you. I’m yours, friend, and I’ll give you what the world won’t.

The world can lie to you. The world just can’t love you very well.

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.

Galatians 4:16-17

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30 Seconds On Being Born

When I was born, I was full of disobedience and selfishness and fear. I did the wrong things because I loved the wrong things. And a man can’t change what he loves all on his own. Title of chapter 1 of my biography: Conceived in sin, born sinning.

A really miraculous thing about the news of Jesus Christ is that He can change a man from the heart out. He can kill what’s in him that just won’t die, all the greed and bitterness and cowardice, and then He can raise up something new that’s still somehow familiar, still him.

A bad man must die to be made something new; but afterwards he’s still a man. Cornelius was still Cornelius after the Holy Spirit fell on him. But he was different. Being born again as Christ’s requires a death, but it doesn’t require an annihilation.

I’m different. Apart from Christ I would’ve ended life how I started it, all angry and manipulative and nervous. But this Jesus died and rose to replay that song in the believers, to bid them die and then come up new.

Christ can undo a man to then make him what he should be.

Thanks to Jesus, I got another crack at being born.

And the second one outshone the first.

It Ain’t All Money and Politics

A (very) lay historian’s observation: Marxism most often sees people as victims caught in the machinery of economic forces; they can only be helped by government or revolution.

A (not so very) lay Christian’s observation: The Bible sees people as made in the image of a wonderful God who is sovereign over everything that happens in their world and will judge each of them.

I feel a lot of the former in the cultural bloodstream around me. It may be mere materialism (the belief that matter, that the observable physical world, is all that there is) instead of thought-out Marxism, but the two are shades of the same color. There’s an assumption of the moment that the greatest problems are economic and material and can best be resolved by governments (the Bible might say “kings”). This assumption can bear itself out in the belief (which I’ve felt from conservative upper middle class types and from impoverished liberal types and I’ll guess runs the whole gamut of demography) that human beings are often just poor, sad dupes in the power plays of the rich or the leaders, and tsk, tsk, ain’t it just unfair?

There is great injustice in this world, but human beings are not on the throne. They are not, for bad or for good, in ultimate control. That foundational tenet of Marxism is wrong: Neither people nor their economies are the driving force of history. That would be the Lord of Lords.

Good men and women must fight evil and injustice. But not as “woke” people aware of the conspiratorial human forces manipulating the world. They must fight injustice as the faithful who know the heart of the God who is fully provident and in charge of everything that happens on this planet. The thing that the most unjust soul in creation (Satan) fears is not political activists but active Christians. Christians have the elixir the victimized of the world need, and Christians have in them the Spirit of the God who became the most innocent victim of all. Christians have better medicine (and are better medicine) than mere economic or governmental upheavals. True, faithful, obedient Christians have a stronger Power to tap into than this contemporary concoction of materialistic political hope.

Put another way, the Bible has a truer and stronger message than political materialism. The Bible is a better, more accurate window into justice than a man-centered, merely politically charged worldview.

Marx was thoroughly wrong about who rules.

There is a King.

But just one.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’

Psalm 2:1-6

The Best Punch Is Knowing Who We Are

You will never have a meaningful, full-blooded response to the sin of racial hatred without a robust, widespread, unequivocal belief that human beings are universally made in the image of God. And in that regard, the fights against racism and against abortion are fights that call for the same punch.

Our culture (the mood and beliefs of our day and place) does not hold that human beings are God-made and God-defined. Our institutions don’t typically and officially uphold it either. We are currently in a state of believing that humans are the result of natural selection and that brining God into the question of what humans are or what they should do is misguided, tacky, or maybe even abhorrent. The problem is that if we are merely biological pieces of matter, why are any of us owed dignity? How could any of us be sacrosanct? You say a human is worth something, and I say, “Says who?”

We must, culture-wide, from the roots up, acknowledge that human beings, all of them, are not merely biological pieces of matter. We must acknowledge our Creator and acknowledge what He created.

When a white person compares a black person to an ape, when a Planned Parenthood employee commends the abortion of a “fetus,” when pregnancies are snidely referred to as “breeding,” the Imago Dei is being assaulted. The glory of God in humanity, all humanity (not just that humanity we find useful or inoffensive) is being spat upon, sneered at. Humans are worth something because the God who made them says so. They are special because the Author who spoke this swirling majesty of light and sound and tragedy and pain and stars and earthworms and butane and Mt. Hood and the jostling cloud storms of Jupiter made them as His most intimate character. They are in His image. No bobcat or humpback whale or rock (if he could cry out) can say that. Humans are special.

Without a culture-wide belief in the divinely appointed preciousness of each human person, we aren’t going to get a square punch at racial animus, violence, or abortion. We need to hit hate and apathy in the jaw. We need to land a solid blow.

We need to know who we are.

A Question for a Roman Catholic Theologian

You know what’s absent from any book of the Bible outside of the Gospels? Mary.

If Mary is intended to be such a central part of the Christian life, if she intercedes for us and works for us and cares for us and we’re supposed to pray to her, why is her name not anywhere in the Epistles, anywhere in Apostles’ teaching in Acts, anywhere in John’s Revelation? Why are Barnabas and Timothy talked more about than she is? Why is Mary so conspicuously absent anywhere after the biographical portion of Jesus’ New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) if God intends her to be a vital part of the lives of His Christians?

Is it possible the Roman Catholic Church has ascribed to a Godly but normal Christian woman the power and the role of the Holy Spirit?

I see the Holy Spirit all over the New Testament interceding and working for believers and caring for them and empowering them.

But I don’t see Mary’s name after the book of John.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. The Spirit intercedes for the saints.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Acts 13:2-4

The Spirit spoke and sent the Apostles to the Gentiles.

The Spirit.

God’s Word does not proclaim Mary an intercessor or an agent of spiritual power down through the ages. It just simply doesn’t. It describes her as a Godly woman favored and chosen by God for a monumentally special purpose. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

As Godly as she was, I sincerely doubt Mary would want us treating her as we might treat the Holy Spirit of God.

My bet is that this woman who believed the Word of God once delivered to her by Gabriel would desire us to believe it, too.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

A School Shooting Prayer From 100 Years Before There Were School Shootings

From Charles Spurgeon, English pastor (1834-1892):

And now that we have Your ear, we pray for this poor world in which we live. We are often horrified by it. Lord, for our own comfort, we wish that we did not know anything about it. We have said, ‘Oh, for a cabin in some wilderness.’ We hear of oppression, robbery, and murder, and men seem to be let loose against each other. Lord, have mercy on this great and wicked world. What is to be done with these billions? What can we do? At least help every child of Yours to do his utmost. May none of us contribute to the evil directly or indirectly, but may we contribute to the good that is in it.

From his book The Golden Key of Prayer.

What is to be done with this great and wicked world?

Us. We are to be done to it.

We are His body.

Help us to do our utmost. Help us to contribute to the good. Help us to pray and to work and to live and to love rightly.

Help us.

Amen and amen.

60 Seconds On Kindness Not Being Weak

It’s false that kindness is intrinsically weak.

There certainly are people who are nice because they are scared or want to avoid all conflict, and that is wrong. But that does not mean that all kindness is wishy-washy or spineless.

True kindness is strong because it takes more of yourself to truly and thoroughly care for somebody than it does to disdain them. To pour into someone, to be invested in his wellbeing, to pray soulfully for him requires thought and guts and grace and courage.

I used to have to fire people pretty regularly at my full-time retail management job. It’s not uncommon for people in that retail world to no call-no show, get into a totally inappropriate argument with a co-worker, or post something unacceptable about the company on social media. And yet I made a practice of firing them with a sort of principled kindness, the kind of firm fairness that a father or a good teacher has. I did what was needed and right even though it was painful for the individual, but I did it giving the other person the same sort of dignity that I would want to be given if I had to be deservedly fired.

Good love is an endeavor for the strong of heart. It takes effort and thought and courage. It requires much. And kindness is a form of good love.

So whatever else kindness is, it is not weak.