60 Seconds On Evil and God’s Judgment


One of the things the reality of the day of final judgment can do is give you comfort when you are confronted with violent, vicious evil.  God is a Judge, and He is returning.  So every finally unrepentant rapist or murderer or child abuser (or liar or gossip) will give an account and receive God’s fair, just wrath.  

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.

Romans 12:19

The Christian can know that His God, His Father and Friend and King, will account for every wrong and every wrongdoer.  None will slip by him.  Each and every sin will be dealt with in one of two places:  The Cross of Christ or Hell.  He can be comforted by the knowledge that every wicked evildoer who refuses to mourn his sin and believe in Christ will have his sin reckoned to him on the last day.  And for every day after that.  All of them.  Unto eternity.  

There are times when you’re confronted with pure, undistilled evil.  Toxic, nasty, virulent wickedness.  The Bible gives us many such cases, and the children of God often (in Psalms, Lamentations, and the Prophets, for instance) call out to God for justice in the face of them.  “Lord, they have ripped open pregnant women and murdered mother and child.  The have burned the homes of families for sport and spite.  They have maimed and scarred and slaughtered our people.  Please account for this.  Please judge them!”  These are adult feelings for an adult world.  In this groaning creation there are many times where humans do unspeakably evil things and then laugh at the pain they’ve caused and move on, with no true remorse and no second thoughts about doing more of the same evil as long as they can get away with it.  When the Christian sees these evils and is stunned by them, he can apply the truth of God’s final judgment to the grief and confusion in his heart.  

God is returning.  And all will give an account to Him.  

They do not escape His notice, these scoffers.  They do not escape His offer of pardon and re-creation, either.  

“Come, and be made new.  I saved a rotten thief who was right next to me on the day of my innocent execution.  I can save you.  But your sin must be dealt with.  It must be paid for.  Either here or in Hell.”

We can rest in the God of Judgment, Christian.  We worship a wise, loving, and just Judge.  All sins will be accounted for.  

Thankfully, even our own.  

Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2:12

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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.  

A Foolish Transgender Ruling

Last week, a visiting Juvenile Court judge in Hamilton County ruled in favor of parents losing custody of their 17-year-old.  The reason?  They would not allow their minor child to pursue transgender surgeries and therapies at Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.  

A quote from Judge Hendon and the article:  

The family would have been best served if this could have been settled within the family after all parties had ample exposure to the reality of the fact that the child truly may be gender nonconforming and has a legitimate right to pursue life with a different gender identity than the one assigned at birth,’ she said.

Hendon also called on state lawmakers to craft legislation that would give the juvenile courts a framework to evaluate a juvenile’s right to consent to gender therapy.

The judge took away the minor because the parents would not permit him to pursue genital mutilation surgery, hormone transplants, etc., and then recommended that my state pass laws to make it easier for juveniles to supercede their parents if they will not support transgender surgeries or therapies. 

Let me say first that feelings and desires can often be self-destructive.  A boy desiring to turn himself into a girl through mutilation or hormone transplants is simply one extreme example, but my own desire to give into anger or selfishnessis another.  Feelings do not determine reality or morality.  Courts don’t have the authority to tell parents they must let their children receive hormone transplants or genital mutilation, regardless of whether the child wants it.  If a 17-year-old felt like he was really an amputee despite the fact that in reality he had two healthy arms, and he wanted to have one arm surgically removed, the parents would be right to keep that from happening.  And a court would be wrong in pretending it was right, or that it had the authority, to step in.  

Secondly, Judge Hendon’s assertion about gender being “assigned” is incorrect.  Gender is not given out like a social security number.  That is not reality, nor is it fact, nor is it basis for this sort of act.  

But my sadness and anger isn’t just that the Hamilton County Juvenile Court grossly overstepped its authority.  It isn’t merely that a powerful judge is wrong on what “gender” is and used that belief as a basis for removing a minor from his parents’ custody.  

No, I’m also angry for the kid.  

It isn’t simply that cutting off your penis or breasts in order to act like a different gender is sinful and self-destructive and foolish.   It’s all those things, but there’s something else.  It’s too small.   Our world has a habit of offering promises it can’t deliver on.   “Do this and you’ll be better.  I promise.”

Jesus Christ has a better offer.  He delivers on every last promise He makes.  “I made you.  I know what’s evil and broken and scary inside you.  And I came to die and be raised to fix such things.  But the first step is to come to me.  All other saviors are liars.”

Mutilating yourself is sinful and foolish.  But it’s also impotent.   It can’t resolve what our world currently promises it can.  This young person made in the image of God has been promised a false bill of goods, and that’s what gets the dad and pastor and former teacher in me worked up.  If I could spend time with him, after listening to him for as long as he wanted to talk, that’s what I’d tell him.  “This is sinful, but it also won’t fix what you think it will.   It won’t heal what they’re telling you it will.

“Jesus has a better offer.  And I know to the marrow in my bones He can deliver.”

This Man Deserves It


For all his fornications, he is guilty.  For his selfish manipulations and lusts, every teenage violation of his future wife, he is unquestionably guilty. 

For all of his anger, his petty hatreds and grudges (which he so often carries deep under his skin, where he thinks no one can see), he is guilty.  The thoughts he sometimes has about people, the nastiness he wages against his fellow humans right there inside his skull, is appalling.  

For the thousands and thousands of lies he has told, too.  Big ones as a child and a young man, lies so ridiculous they’d be laughable if lying weren’t a sin against the God who always tells the truth.  And, as he’s gotten older, subtler ones.  Exaggerations, and little expressions on the face which were calculated to get a response but made to look like genuine emotion.    

And, oh, the pride.  Deep, poisonous, nearly constant pride.  Always believing he is more worthy of his needs being met than another.  Always making allowances for himself that he would never make for someone else.  The quiet belief he nurses in his heart that the reason the fallen brother or sister has tumbled is that he or she wasn’t quite enough like him.  The self-centered, self-focused, self-righteous clamoring for his own reputation, his own pleasure, his own validation without half as much, a tenth as much regard for the well-being of others.  Oh, believe me, this one is proud.  

For the cowardice, the meanness, the vengefulness, this man is irrefutably guilty. No one, not even God Himself can deny that, on his own standing, this Wade Thomas Jr, born at Good Samaritan Hospital in the Year of Our Lord 1985 (and having sinned every year since) is guilty as (and of) sin. 

There is no excuse.  No justification.  He had no valid reason for lust and brazen manipulation and gossip and deceit, he has no just cause for his anger and bitterness and idolatry of heart.  His head is in his hands because he knows this.  There is no defense he can mount.  There is no mitigating factor that will justify his willful, ignorant, faithless, rebellious wickedness.  

None.  He is guilty. 

Ahem.  

And now let this one speak.  

For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.  For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.  Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.  Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5:13-21

Death is the sentence.  The serpent knew it in the Garden, though of course he lied (he always does).  Sin brings death, the only thing it can bring.  And so death is the sentence for Wade.  Shameful, inglorious, painful and God-forsaken death.  God gave life, sin brings death.  So Wade is owed it.  He merits it.  In at least one sense, he has asked for it.  

The executioner is ready.  The crowd is assembled.  

But the guilty man is not the one to die.  

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14


Every guilt the serpent lays on this man is valid.  He sinned.  He did.  He did rage at his brethren and sin sexually and deceive people and play out his proud hypocrisy in the most sinister of ways.  If he isn’t the chief of sinners, he is certainly a lieutenant.  But here is where the serpent plays into his own undoing:  Since he is the father of lies, he rarely expects the full, undiluted, 80-proof truth.  When God says He loved this man, He really meant it.  And when He pledged from love, right there in that sin-stained Garden, that a son of man would crush this ancient liar’s head, He wasn’t just talking to talk.  

This love from God didn’t hinge on Wade’s faithfulness.  It preceded his faithfulness.  Beyond that, it superceded his unfaithfulness.  This God slew the dragon by being slain, and He gave pardon by taking on punishment.  He undid the sin and death Wade wrought by becoming sin and then dying. 

This God made Wade, gave Him a Law, watched him break it, and then bore the punishment Himself.  He is exactly who He has always claimed to be:  Good, holy, loving, and just.  And the truth will always undo a liar.  And, as the saying goes, it is also quite likely to set free.  

And so while Wade is, in at least one sense, guilty, the charge will not stand.  You cannot punish two men for his crimes.  The debt is real, but it is no longer his.  

The criminal’s cross has already been stained with man’s blood.  And the tomb has already had the body laid in it.  Sin brings death, and death it has brought.  Wade deserves to die, but in this great exchange called the Gospel, he gets to live.  By the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, he has been given unshakeable, eternal life.  

And the guarantee of that gift is that his Jesus Himself did not stay dead.  Look over there, on that hill.  

Like the charges against this guilty man, both cross and tomb are by now quite empty.  

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.  

How Do I Worship From the Sodom and Gomorrah Story?


What do I do with passages in the Bible like this?

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.  Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.  And He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

Genesis 19:23-25

Or this one?

Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, He who is splendid in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?  ‘It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.’  Why is your apparel red, and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?  ‘I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel.  For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption had come.  I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me salvation, and my wrath upheld me.  I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.’

Isaiah 63:1-6

Well, let me first give the answer I’d give my children:  Believe them.  God says here in the Isaiah one, for instance, that He has vengeance to be poured out on the nations.  He is God, so I am to believe Him.  

But I can lend a hand when it comes to passages that aren’t as plain Jane God-is-talking-and-telling-me-what-He’s-done-or-going-to-do by expanding on that a little.  So, if the questions are like this:

“What do I generally do with passages and stories in the Bible that talk about God’s wrath?  How do I worship from them?  How do I apply them to my heart?  How do I point my kids to Jesus with the Sodom and Gomorrah story when we come to it in family worship?”

Well, I’d start my answer with a question of my own to get to the heart of the matter:

“What is the Bible?”

The Bible is not a self-help book.  The Bible is not a collection of advice.  The Bible is not the best attempts of human beings to understand God.  The Bible is the Word of the only living God, and that Word is also a story that is all about Jesus.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.

Jesus, in John 5:39

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’  But He answered, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Matthew 4:1-4

So the Bible is God’s Word, His communication to human beings, and it is also a story that is all about Jesus Christ.

Well, if that is what the Bible is, then when we get to parts that are about God’s vengeance and wrath, His good anger towards sin, God must be telling us humans something that is ultimately about Jesus.

Okay, fair enough, Wade.  I’m with you so far.  But what?  What is He telling me about Jesus that I should be applying to my heart or teaching my kids or preaching from my pulpit in the stories and the passages like the ones below?

  • The Flood in Genesis, when He destroys all the land animals and people who have the breath of life, all except those on the Ark, because of sin.
  • The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, when He destroys two wicked cities because there aren’t any righteous people in them except for one little family.
  • The judgment laid on Israel and Judah when they are conquered and stripped bare and many slaughtered for their idolatry an wickedness, though eventually a remnant get to return home in peace.

Well, there are certainly more than one thing, but I will offer what I think might be the most important one:  God is showing us the unimaginably deep cup of ferocious good anger that Jesus took on Himself.  God is showing us what Jesus bore in order to spare those who would believe in Him.  

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’  And there appeared to Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him.  And being in agony He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:41-44

Jesus was in agony in the Garden of Gathsemane because He was about to be slain on a Roman Cross for all who would believe in Him.  He was less than 24 hours away from being forsaken by God so that we wouldn’t have to be.  He was about to have the sins of the world laid on His scarred and innocent back.  I believe Jesus experienced more shame, more pain, more wrath than any human being ever has or ever will, and He was totally undeserving of it.  God chose, before the foundation of the world, to put Himself forward and receive His own vengeance so that those who trust in Jesus could be spared.  Like Noah and those on the Ark, we are rescued from the raging sea of God’s judgment.  Like Lot and his daughters, we are plucked from the fire even though we are undeserving.  Like Ezra and Nehemiah and Zerubbabel and Sheshbazzar, we who have believed get to go home to God’s country despite our past sins.  And it is all because Jesus bore the flood of God’s wrath for our evils.  He received the fire that Sodom did.  He was exiled so that we could come home.

So what do I do with the stories and passages about God’s shocking vengeance?

I thank the living and loving God that Jesus bore that vengeance for me on the Cross.  Jesus fulfilled God’s Law so that I can receive His Gospel.  He took my sin’s penalty of death so that I can have His righteousness’ wage of life.

Jesus received the justice so that I can receive the mercy.

The cup my Jesus drank is one I am now spared.  And someday we will both get to share a far different one at a very special banquet table, one that He has been preparing for some time.

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’  And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’  And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Revelation 5:11-14