60 Seconds On Humans

The Bible forces you to acknowledge the potential, complexity, sinfulness, and beauty of humans.  It is the only window that lets you glimpse the whole man.  

It won’t let you cast him as a sappy, thin do-gooder.  Because right there in your face is the ugliness of Abraham handing off his beloved Sarah to save his own skin and David murdering Uriah to have his wife.  

But neither will it let you be a mere cynical critic of man.  There’s too much courage and hunger for truth and friendship and motherly affection there in it.  

And it will never let you see man as insignificant.  Talk about how small he is in the stars or about how late he showed up on the scene.  The Bible places him at the center of creation, as the jewel in the setting.  It states plainly that he is the image of the Author, and he is a startlingly beautiful portrait.

The Bible gives a vast, honest, vivid picture of man.  

And of where he can be restored.  

Man has fallen, but he will not be lost.  And when creation is remade, as wonderful as the new trees and sky and soil will be, man will be what he once was, in a garden on the other side of a rebellion from here.  

He will be what he once was.  

And enjoy what he once enjoyed.  

Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them,  ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so.  God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:26-31


60 Seconds On the Best Answer for Racial Hate

A political solution cannot thoroughly revolve a moral problem.  Moral problems involve what a man loves, what he hates, why his heart wants one thing over another and why it leads him to one action instead of another.  Racial hatred involves selfishness, contempt, anger, fear.  These things can’t be changed in a man by legislation, though they can certainly be restrained or punished by it.  We should have political solutions, and we should have laws.  But we shouldn’t expect them to be the answer.  They can’t rewrite a man’s heart.  One of the great lessons of Holy Scripture is that law, though good, cannot change a man.  

Racial hatred is a sin against God and a sin against neighbor.  It is enough to send a man to eternal Hell.  Just as important, it is something that can be forgiven and addressed in a man by the Father, Son, and Spirit.  Racial hatred is sin, and in order to be successfully reckoned with it must be reckoned with as sin.  God must be involved if a hateful man is to be fully and finally reclaimed.  There is no one else who can offer him final forgiveness, and there is no one else who can fundamentally change him.  The current climate sees legislation as the most complete answer, which implies that government is God.  But government is not God.  It is good (or at least is called to be), but it is not God.  Government cannot change what a man loves or hates, through laws or through any other means.  If God’s Law could not change a man’s dead heart, how can man’s?  

A political solution to racial animosity will not be the last one.  We who know Jesus have something much more fundamentally transformative to offer the racially hateful:  A God who can pardon their evil and then make them something new. 

We have a better and truer Gospel.  

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands — remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:11-12

60 Seconds for Sunday

The church.  

We have the most important message in the world.  It is that God can take bad, broken people and remake them.  And that He likes doing this.  It is His (in two senses of the word) passion.  It is what He died to do, and what He rose to enjoy.  

The message we have to proclaim, to sing, to eat and drink and live out is that God has come to do an amazing thing, and that that thing is very nearly done.  There is only one note left to sing, and it is one that will never be quieted.  God came to reclaim sinners for Himself, and in so doing to nail every last one of their sins to His own bloody Cross.  Now we await His second great act, His returning to put the finishing touches on death’s obituary.  He has come, He is coming again, and He is taking on new friends.  

The church.  

We have the most important message in the world:  God is good.  And because He is good, He has chosen to forgive many who have wronged Him.  Any who trust in Jesus Christ, who lay themselves bare to Him as Lord of all, will be remade and resurrected.  In every sense of the phrase, they will enter eternity new creations.  

The church.  

We are the people of His message.  We have been formed from it and for it.  We are to speak it to all who will listen, and many who will not.  Our God is good, and He is patient, and He is seeking worshipers.  He has called us to help.    

The church.  

We are the Church of God, the Bride of Jesus Christ.  And we have an astonishing message:  Come with us, for our God can bring you home.  

60 Seconds for Husbands (and Wives, and Anyone Else)

This is just a little counsel for husbands, from one who has borne the scars of doing the opposite.  

Don’t take so much personally.  Don’t take every aggravated comment or slightly less affectionate touch or instance of the family trip not going like you planned as a slight to your worth and your stature.  The less you take personally, the better.  I have never had an evening with my wife made better or Godlier or more fun by taking a small comment or action from her as an insult.  Never.  Not once.  

Your wife doesn’t hug you when you come in the door.  You expected her to.  You hoped she would.  At this point you have a few options.  One of these options is to let it go.  Another is to calmly talk to her about it.  But then there are insulted options.  The personal affront options.  The ones that are poison to the evening.  You can sulk about it only to lash out later.  You can yell at her.  You can say something snarky as you breeze past her.  It goes without saying that each of these are harmful and sinful, but they’re also foolish.  And they don’t do anything to help you, her, or the two of you as a couple.  

Instead, have a sense of humor.  Laugh it off.  Take yourself a tad less seriously.  Find your worth in the love of Jesus, and the fact that He chose you, silly and stupid and stumbling you.  Don’t wrap your identity in the small gestures and words of another frail human being.  Don’t be so thin-skinned and brittle that any mishap verbal slip-up by your wife can offend you.  If you are Christ’s, then you are free to think less of yourself, and to think of yourself less.  And if you are not Christ’s, cast yourself on Him in faith.  He can make you a better man.  He does it for all of His disciples, day by day, slowly and certainly.  

Now let me go home now and put this into practice.  

60 Seconds On the Nature Of Faithlessness

Faithlessness is a moral problem, not merely an intellectual one.  Put another way:  It is a sin not to trust Jesus Christ.  

When you doubt the Word of God, and specifically when you doubt Jesus Christ, you are sitting in judgment over God.  You are telling Him that He is not to be trusted.  You are replaying the sin of the Garden, where Eve gave into Satan’s question, “Did God really say…?”

To doubt Jesus is to play judge over God.  

And this is why Jesus treats faithlessness as sin, not simply being wrong about a fact, as though one had mistakenly thought that Billings was the capital of Montana instead of Helena.  

And someone from the crowd answered him, ‘Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.  So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.’  And he answered them, ‘O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you?  How long am I to bear with you?  Bring him to me.’  And they brought the boy to him.  And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth.  And Jesus asked his father, ‘How long has this been happening to him?’  And he said, ‘From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.’  But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.’  And Jesus said to him, ‘If you can!’ All things are possible for one who believes.’  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’

Mark 9:17-24

When it comes to believing or not believing in Jesus, there is a moral problem that must be resolved in a man.  He trusts himself more than God, and he does not want to let go of his sin and his (illusion of) control.  When I witness to a man, I am not just trying to get him to choose one religion over another.  I am trying to get him to lay down his arms of doubting rebellion against the only true God. 

And as a Christian, I myself need to understand that the many times my faith in Jesus wavers, it is sin.  I need to confess it, put it to death by the Spirit, and ask others to hold me accountable in not returning to it. 

This is the nature of faithlessness.  It is harmful, poisonous sin.  

Help my unbelief, Lord.  And forgive it.  

Thankfully I believe He is able to do both.  

30 Seconds On Christmas

Christmas is hope for the worst of us.  

It is God’s electing to be born in a forgotten place in the shadow of His own death rather than to let us all perish in our sins.  It is proof He is not as apathetic or vindictive or arbitrary as we are.  It is evidence that His ways are very much not our ways.  

Christmas is the message that we are not alone.  That despite what we have done, God is available.  He is seeking.  He is merciful.  

Christmas is a part of the only hope for thieves and adulterers and murderers and gossipers and traitors and liars, of which we were each born an example.  It is a part of the Gospel that God came to be what we could not be, do what we could not do, and give us what we could not earn.  

Christmas is a time to remember that God is with us.  

He is with us.  

And that is a hopeless man’s hope.  

Merry Christmas.  

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.  When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ which means, God with us. 

Matthew 1:18-23

30 Seconds On Justice and Truth

Without God, morals are just preferences.

If you deny that there is a God, you have no philosophical grounding to be outraged by anything, from murder to racial hatred to poverty.  Without God, it’s all just opinion.  And you have no solid basis for indignance over an opinion.  Without God, racial hatred being evil is an opinion.  It may be a popular opinion, but without a higher appeal court than human judgment, an opinion is all it is.  

This is a lesson I want my country to learn.  A society cannot have long-lasting justice without upholding objective moral truth.  A society cannot have long-lasting justice without acknowledging God.  If you refuse to bring the question “But what does God say is right?” into any public discourse, you will not be able to administer justice for very long.  Because the only definition of “justice” you’ll be able to have will be a human one.  It’ll be subject to mob rule, or politicking, or purchase.  Justice is doing what is right, and if you don’t have an objective, non-debatable standard for what is right, then when you are just it will be by accident, not by design.  

You cannot have long-lasting justice without truth.  

And I want my nation to be just.  

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey. The Lord saw it, and it displeased him that there was no justice. 

Isaiah 59:14-15