60 Seconds On the Truest Love


Worldview matters.  Ask anyone who’s spent time in both Riyadh and Beverly Hills.  Or in Pyongyang and Paris.  How a people views the world dictates much of what they do.  And why they do it.  

Sharia reveals Islam to be an ultimately political worldview.  Contemporary life in the West reveals secularism to be a materialistic worldview.  But what we see in Scripture is that the Trinity reveals Biblical Christianity to be a relational worldview.  The Bible teaches that the foundation of reality is a God who has always existed in relationship with Himself.   

True Christians worship a God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who always has been.  We worship a God who did not need to make people to love; He already was loving and indeed Himself was love.  Instead He made people and things out of pure grace, and then invited human beings into the blessed love that He already enjoyed.  

Christians worship a God who has always been in community, a God who loves to love.  The Father has always enjoyed the Son, the Son has always loved the Father, the Spirit has always adored and glorified the Father and Son, and all the way around and through the Godhead.  We worship a God who is three persons, each of whom is thoroughly other-centered.  

Compare that to the gods of Beverly Hills.  Or Riyadh.  Or Pyongyang.  Or ESPN.  

Unlike the world’s other worldviews and religions and messages, Biblical Christianity proclaims a God of pervasive, truthful, complete compassion.  We worship a God who has never known a moment without radical, unfathomable love.

True Christians worship a God of three persons, each loving the others in beautiful, harmonious community.  We worship a God of love.  

And remember:  You become like what you worship.   

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.  They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.  They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.  They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.  Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.  O Israel, trust in the Lord!

Psalm 115:4-9(a)

Advertisements

Texting On Biblical Genealogies 


The following is a text message answer I gave to a church member on why genealogies and long lists of names in the Bible are important.  

Well, here’s what I’d start with: If it’s in the Bible, it must be important to God that we read it.  Now, why is that particular thing important to Him? That’s kind of a tough one. But here’s a couple of possibilities:

  1. Some of these people and places in these sorts of sections in the Bible come back up later in God’s story; this helps us know where they fit.   Where they started.  Sort of like how knowing what round Dez Bryant was drafted in what college he played at is a part of his story, even though someone who doesn’t like football might say, “Why do you care about THAT? Why does THAT matter?”
  2. These sorts of sections (called “genealogies”) show us God cares about normal individuals, little tiny ordinary people.  Not just kings or generals or nations.  These sections remind us God remembers the names of ordinary little people. 
  3. They teach us to just patiently, quietly listen to God.  We have short attention spans as sinful human beings.   These sections of the Bible with long lists of names force us to slow down and just trust God enough to listen to Him even when He’s saying something we don’t really understand all the way or don’t find all that interesting.  It’s like listening to your dad show you how to change oil when you’re a little tiny kid, and you’re thinking, “Daddy, I don’t understand a word you’re saying.   And this is boring.  But I love you, and I trust you, so I’ll stay here and listen.  Somehow this must mean something, and I’ll understand someday.”

How I Apologize to My Kids

*There seems to have been some interest in these practical family and parenting posts.  I do not write as an expert in anything.  This is simply one sinner saved by grace explaining his best approach to those awful 5 minutes after slamming a door or yelling at his children, when he realizes he behaved like a fool.


The screaming starts.  Almost always over a toy.  If it’s not that, it’s that somebody hit somebody.  

Then Daddy throws open the door, angry that his 9:30 PM peace and quiet is being interrupted.  

He isn’t angry because his children have sinned against God and each other by stealing or hurting each other.  Well, maybe a little, but not primarily.  Primarily he’s angry because the created thing he wanted (peace and quiet, food, TV) was disrupted.  That’s what has his fingers digging into his palms.  

And do you know what we call it when a created thing is so important to you that you freak out if you don’t get it?

Idolatry.  

So, now Daddy’s idolatry play out in all its ugly glory, here.  He clenches his teeth and points with his finger at Kid #1’s bed.  “Get.  In.  Bed.”  He raises his voice a few decibels to Kid #2.  “If you do anything to him again I will spank your butt.”  Then he shouts over the crying of Kid #3.  “Enough!  I don’t want to hear it!  All of you:  Be quiet.”  He turns on a dime and slams the bedroom door.  

And now sin has wrapped its poisonous vine around these four souls.  Three children sinned against each other out of idolatry, and their father responded with anger at his own idol being threatened.  None of these four souls were, at that moment, resting in the Lord Jesus Christ and savoring Him.  That would’ve resulted in joy, forgiveness, peace, and patience.  

Oh, and if you haven’t figured it out yet:  This Daddy is me.  

So, after a few minutes, I open the door, and tell the two who are old enough to get down out of bed to sit down with me.  The other can listen from the crib.  And then I say the following.  

  • “Daddy sinned.”

Before you apologize for a sin, you need to acknowledge that it was sin.  It was not merely a “mistake,” it was not that you “lost your cool,” it was not that someone “made you” do it.  Jesus did not die on the Cross to redeem good people for their “aw shucks” mistakes.  He died to save sinners from their sins.  

I sinned. Period.  No excuses, no qualifications.  

My kids need to know that sin is serious.  If they don’t see Daddy taking his sin seriously, they’re less likely to take their sins seriously.  And to live a Gospel life, a true Christian life, one must take sin seriously.  

  • “Daddy is sorry.”

If I’ve sinned, then I have at least two parities I need to apologize to, two people with whom I need to reconcile.    

  1. The God whose Law I broke
  2. The person I sinned against

These apologies are essential for these relationships (mine to God and mine to the person I sinned against) to be restored.  In general, if I am not a person who confesses my wrongs from the heart, I will not be a person who has healthy relationships.  

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:8-9

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 

Matthew 18:15

My kids need to hear me grieve my sin, hear me say that I am sorry that I did such a thing to God and to them.  I realize that to some people this may sound like overkill for something as “small” as angrily raising your voice, but I firmly believe that that sentiment is usually arising from the flesh.  

See, our flesh always wants to minimize our own sins and magnify others’ sins against us.  We understand that it’s good for someone to apologize to us when he has committed even some “small” sin against us (and we are usually unhappy or feel slighted if he doesn’t).  But because of our flesh and our pride, we often think that it isn’t necessary for us to apologize for our own “small” sins. 

But it is.  Jesus died to bear God’s wrath for every instance of bad anger I’ve ever committed, every harsh word and bitter thought and nursed grudge.  Those sins are no small matter.  

And, hear me on this part, too:  Sin brings death.  And so if I want life flowing through my relationships, I must confess my sins in those relationships and receive the grace and restoration of God.  

  • “Do you forgive me?”

Say what?  You’re going to ask your kids to forgive you, dude?   

Yes, because I (almost always) make them ask my wife or I to forgive them after they have sinned against us.  

So, obviously we are in authority over our children, authority given to us by God for their good and His glory.  They answer to God and to us.  But one of the truths of the Bible is that authority comes with responsibility.  I have a responsibility to God and to the children He’s given me to love them selflessly.  When I treat them, even for a moment, as an impediment to my own pleasure, as an annoyance keeping me from TV or a snack or a good book, I am breaking that God-given responsibility.  I am putting my own good ahead of theirs.  And after acknowledging that sin and then grieving it, I need to give them the opportunity to forgive me.  

Now, until children are born again through faith in Jesus Christ (something I hope all you parents pray for for your own children), they cannot forgive like a Christian can.  They aren’t able to forgive from the bank of grace they have received in Christ Jesus, because they haven’t received that grace.  But they can begin to see how important forgiveness is.  And they can also begin to see how impossible it is to truly and humbly forgive without being made a new person.   

See, one of the best things I can do to drive my children to the Cross is to make them try to forgive from the heart.  Because in time, they will see how weak and selfish their hearts are.  And so, I pray, they will call upon Jesus to change them and save them.  

So, there you have it.  That’s how this one Christian father does it.  Daddy sinned.  I’m sorry.  Do you forgive me?”  

They’re no magic words, and it doesn’t always go smoothly.  But often enough it builds trust, and it shows them just a little bit of what Christianity is, of who Daddy is, and of who Jesus is:  The God who saved sinful father.  

It’s no silver bullet.  But I can honestly say that they increasingly feel comfortable enough to tell me if they think I’ve sinned, and they also feel a little more comfortable with owning up to their own sins.  

Which is the point.  

Because by God’s grace, I pray, someday each of them will come to Christ’s Cross on their knees and say to Him, in faith, words they once heard from their imperfect Daddy.

“Jesus, I sinned.  I’m sorry.  Will you forgive me?”



To the Lost and Abused


You are not forgotten. 

You are not irrelevant.  

This world of sin and sinners is often a place where young girls are sexually abused.  Where little boys are ignored by their fathers or beaten by their fists.  Where the small or disadvantaged are trampled by the anger or selfishness of warped men with warped hearts.  

Creation groans under sin.  

And Satan delights in it.  

He hates truth, hates Jesus, and loves pain.  

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?

Genesis 3:5

And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed from your disability.’  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.  But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days in which work ought to be done.  Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’  Then the Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites!  Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?’  As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. 

Like 13:11-17

This is a world where Satan often whispers a violent and treasonous song over the most helpless of people, and then dances to their fear and their pain and their bewilderment.  And it is a world where others join his twisted song.  

But it is not his world.  

Hear me.  

Let Hell and death and sin clamor for your soul.  Let them.  But their loudest ragings will not prevail if you will despair of all other hopes and instead call out to Jesus, like a lost and helpless child.  

Let your anxieties and all your most jagged memories creep up on you like old ghosts with sharp teeth.  They will not get to claim you if you are ransomed by the King of Kings.  

Let pain be pain and fear be fear.  Neither will have the last word if you will believe in Jesus.  

I know you have been wounded to the bone.  

You don’t trust people.  You don’t trust God. And you don’t trust “the world,” by which you probably mean people and God.  

You have heard that God is different from the one who abused you, but you don’t believe it.  

Believe.  

The one who violated you?  I know he used you.  But this is a God who was obliterated to bless people just like you.  

He lied to you.  But this is a God who speaks only truth; He can do no other.  

He promised to change, to be better, only to hurt you time and time and time and time again.  But this is a God who endured Hell and shame and death and agony to keep His promises. 

This God is different from the one who hated and harmed you.  Unimaginably different.  This Jesus will never leave, never forsake, never forget you.  He would rather die than lose those He claims, and the Cross stands as a vertical proof of it.  This is a Lord with a heart for the lowly and the bruised, and who breaks all the violent who refuse to repent. 

You have suffered.  

So has He.  

And at the place your suffering and His meet, namely your faith, a new song starts.  One that sin and death and Satan hate to the core.  

And one that is no whisper, no lie, and that never, ever ends.  

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 

1 Peter 5:8-9

The Thing Politics and Rallies Can’t Do


I find politics interesting.  I have for almost as long as I can remember.  And I find cultural trends and movements interesting, too.  But what I get reminded of from time to time is that even my particular political philosophy, and that even the best of social causes, simply cannot get to the root of any society’s deepest issues.

And the Gospel can.  

The reason why the Gospel has a better solution to a nation’s poverty, violoence, and family breakdown than either mere laissez faire economics or mere social justice movements is that the Gospel does 2 things the others don’t:

  1. Correctly tells men what they are.
  2. Then offers to make them something else.  

You see, neither supply side economics nor a graduated tax system, neither the Temperance Movement nor Black Lives Matter, fully deals with what is causing poverty, hate, and death.  We can debate the wisdom of each of these ideaologies, but each (and many other similar economic paradigms and social movements) stops short of identifying the root cause:  The sin in every living human heart.  And none, even the wisest and best, political or social ideology can change those hearts.  
Enter our Gospel.  

The Gospel offers to break a man’s knees in repentance and then to rebuild him into an eternal son who can withstand the assault of sin, Satan, and death.  

The Gospel shows a man what he really is, and the role that he has played in the evil, oppression, selfishness, and idolatry in the society (and wider world) around him, and then tells him how all can be made well.  

The drumbeat and rallying cry of many of these political and social movements is “They are the problem, you are the solution.”  The message of God in His Gospel, however, is “You are the problem, I am the solution.”

I believe limited government and free market economics are good.  And I sympathize with what I take to be the central theme of the Black Lives Matter movement (that the lives of black Americans have been historically and even presently discounted).  But neither conservatism nor the Black Lives Matter movement will fix the fundamental cause of poverty and hatred:  Sin.  Which doesn’t mean these or other movements should automatically be dropped, but simply that we cannot expect them to be a silver bullet.  Jesus said that the poor would always be with us, and the reason is that until He returns there will always be sin with us. 

The good news is that wherever the Gospel is preached and then believed, sin’s grip weakens, and there we can see a measure of supernatural victory over all of sin’s symptoms.  

The Bible lays a out a principle:  What you worship produces what you do.  And since we are born worshiping ourselves and false other created things, our greed and unforgiveness and hatred of whoever keeps us from getting what our idolatrous hearts want churn out more pain in a world already with and groaning under sin.  And so we can’t expect politics or revolutions or rallies to do what’s necessary to truly subdue greed or violence or hatred:  Changing what people worship.  

So I want the Gospel to be the first message that leaves my lips out there in the bruised and bruising world.  The message that God made a good world, then we ushered in sin and death by disobeying Him, that we deserve to die and receive eternal judgment for it, that Jesus took on that death and judgment for all who truly believe in Him, that He has sent His Holy Spirit to empower His people and make them more like Him, and that He is returning to judge the living and the dead and reign for eternity with all His people.  That is the power of God for everyone who believes.  That is what can save and change men to their cores.    

The Gospel can do what nothing else can.  

Transgenderism, Homosexual Behavior, and Racial Hatred


Yes, all 3 have something in common.  

I grieve what transgender confusion, homosexual  behavior, and racial hatred each due to human beings.  What do I mean?  They are each, in their own way, a symptom of the same disease:  A desire to be God.  They are each an effort to redefine or recreate what God has already defined, what God has already created.  

And each of these symptoms has at least one effect in common:  They do violence to the human who manifests them.  Which is why I hate to see what they do in people I care about.  

True human flourishing can only happen when humans enjoy and delight in what God has created, how He created it, and what He created it for.  So, as it relates to these 3 harmful evils, let me say:  

It is not good for humanity (or for individual human beings) to think

  • That maleness and femaleness are interchangeable (or identical in every way, or arbitrary)
  • That it is good for a man to be romantic or sexual with another man, or a woman to be romantic or sexual with another woman
  •  That skin color is a true and right distinction between human beings.

None of these 3 are good. Transgenderism, homosexual behavior, and racial pride each attempt to disfigure and obscure the image of God in human beings and the plan that God has for human beings.  Each of them does violence to the imago Dei.  

The truth is that God did design men and women as different with different roles to play in His Kingdom, different notes to sing in His song.  He did design romantic affection and sexual relations to be between a man and his wife.  And He most certainly did not designate skin color to be any sort of a meaningfully distinguishing characteristic between human beings (you will find God referencing His approval or disapproval on different nations in the Bible, but nowhere does He seem to even have a category for “race,” referring strictly to skin color).  

We ignore what God made, how He made it, and why He made it to our own peril.  

God made human beings to be and do glorious things, namely as image bearers of Himself, to enjoy and worship Him, and to have fruitful dominion over the Earth.  When we try to be or do things that He did not design us to be or do, when we look at humans or humanity or gender in a way contrary to the way He intends, we are walking a dangerous road.  We are taking a path away from joy, meaning, and dominion, and one towards pain, despair, and slavery.  

It is suicidal to set out on your own, humanity. 

Just ask the first Adam.  

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 

Romans 8:22

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. 

Romans 1:26-32

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 

Romans 5:12-14

Texting On Translations


The following is a text message answer I gave to a question about whether a particular translation a member of our church was reading had “changed” the Word of God.  I’m passing it along because I thought it might prove useful to others.  

And yes, I can be a long texter.  

No, I don’t think that’s changing the Word of God; after all, the word that Solomon wrote is “Sana,” not ANY of those English words. What each group of Hebrew scholars is doing is trying their best to find the English word that best matches what a given Hebrew word meant in the sentence that it’s in. Language doesn’t really work like math; it’s a little more fluid. So “Sana” doesn’t really = “hated.” Instead “hated” is PROBABLY the 2017 English word that most matches what “sana” means in that sentence. But there are almost always 5-10 English words that COULD match a given Hebrew word (or Greek word). After all that’s what synonyms are; words that mean the same or similar things. “Hated” and “contemptible,” for instance, are synonyms.  

So what happens is this: The specific translators who work to put a Hebrew word into an English word think and think about it, and they say, “Okay, in my current day’s English, __________ is the word that’s closest to what ‘sana’ means in this sentence.” But even THAT will probably change within a few decades, because the English language itself is flexible. English changes over time. So each generation of translators has to find his generation’s best English word for what a given Hebrew word meant. For instance, “shade” meant “ghost” in the 1800s, and so in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge calls Marley a “shade.” But in 2017, “shade” doesn’t mean “ghost” anymore, and so if you were translating the Hebrew word for spirit/ghost (“ruah”) into English, you wouldn’t use “shade” in 2017, though you might’ve in the 1800s. The meaning of the HEBREW and GREEK never changes, because those sentences are already written, but the language you’re trying to translate them INTO definitely changes. That’s why we wouldn’t be able to understand anyone if we went back in time to England in, say, the year 1400, even though everyone would be speaking English. 

The NASB, NKJV, KJV, and ESV in particular are all solid translations on the whole, they were just done in different times (all 20th century, though)* and so if any verse or word ever seems hard or confusing, I would take a look at each of the 4, and I would read the whole paragraph the confusing word is in. That’s always a good start.  

I hope that helps!

*Obviously the KJV, isn’t 20th century; whoops!