60 Seconds On Men


We live in a culture that is desperately confused on what manhood is and on what to do with men.  “Here are these creatures designed with a modicum of strength and resolve, designed to generally need a helpmate to support them, a helpmate for them to sacrifice for and lead…  Hmm…  Well, we can’t accept that…”

I do not think our culture has a sufficient, coherent answer to the question “What should a man be?” or to the question “What should our men do?”  

What behaviors should it commend in men?  What sorts of men should be praised?  Should our culture exalt braggadocious men like Conor McGregor?  Abusive ones like Floyd Mayweather?  Should it exalt ones who seek to be women?  Should it tell men to stand up for their loved ones, or tell them to let women do the standing up?  And why?  Says who?  

May call in with a question, 2017 America?  

Thank you.  

Ahem.  Where are you getting your standard?

I can take your answer off the air.  

Which men should be jokes and which men should be praised?  What should our sons use their muscles and their desires and their fight for?  What is a man?  And please, oh please, oh please tell me, again:  Says who?  Where are you getting your standard?

I think our culture is standing on some mighty soggy ground, here.  

Proposal:  I think our culture produces Floyd Mayweathers because it exalts Floyd Mayweathers, and I think it exalts Floyd Mayweathers because it doesn’t exalt men rightly using their manhood.  

2nd Proposal:  A culture that says it is bad for a man to use his strength to self-sacrificially lead his wife and children will begin to find more men using their strength for evil things.  

Listen, where God and nature have clear enough presentations on what men are and what men should do, our culture is temporarily lost on the topic.  

The happy news?  That means the church is in a unique position to do some real good.  

I mean it.  There is some mighty good work to be done.  There is a generation of boys among us right now who need to know what being a good man really involves, and the church may just have a monopoly on that message here on the American landscape.  We have a grounded, coherent answer as to what men are and what they should do.  We can help.  

There is good work to be done here.

I trust Christ can use us to accomplish it.  

Advertisements

60 More Seconds of Christian Comfort

Look at the birds of the air:  they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:  they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Matthew 6:26-30

Look around you, Christian.  God feeds birds and causes flowers to grow and makes lilies and tulips beautiful.  This is His world.  And if you have truly been born again in Christ, then the God who owns and runs this universe spent His all to adopt you.  

Look at how tender this God is with robins and finches and dandelions and grass.  And you are His child.  Trust Him!

The word Jesus uses at the beginning of verse 28 doesn’t mean just to watch.  He uses a word like that in verse 26, but in the sentence that begins verse 28 He uses a word that means to study or observe or learn from.  So, seriously:  Go outside and look.  Step into your backyard and watch the petals of a flower flicker in a breeze like a candle flame, and know that every step in that dance is by His hand.  Go look at a tree and see the odd shape and direction of its branches, gnarled like an old man’s fingers, and know that every moment from that tree’s first break through the soil to its falling back down back into it are all by the decree of the God who loves and adopted and values you, Christian.  

“Do you see that sun coming up over the horizon, over there, tracing the blue sky with its warm gold?  Do you see that bright yellow star our side of the earth is facing right now?  Study it.  Look at it.  Birds and plants and stars and sins; this is all in His hands, child.  Trust Him.”

This is a good God.  This is a King we can trust.  This is a beautiful, caring, creating, provident, kind, remaking, rescuing, adoring, wise God.  

Let us seek His Kingdom first.  

Let us trust Him.

Grace and peace.

Peace.

60 Seconds on Environmentalism

 

Quick hits from our church’s preaching of Genesis 1:26-31 this morning:

  • God gave humans responsibility towards His earth:  Populate it, keep it, and use it for human flourishing. 
  • Humans have dominion over the environment, per its Creator.  
  • That dominion should be exercised responsibly. 
  • It is a misguided heart that that fears environmental catastrophes, government conspiracies, or the results of the next election more than it fears the God who made mountains, sets up kings, and causes demons to shudder.  You cannot be anxious and worship at the same time. Anxiety sucks the air out of awestruck worship of God.
  • Secular environmentalism worships creation rather than the creator. 
  • Human beings are not villains assaulting nature; they are the co-regents nature was made to serve and be (responsibly) subdued by. 
  • Lastly, greatest hope for the environment isn’t new legislation or initiatives; it’s the return of King Jesus, who will beautifully and perfectly remake it. All life, no death. All goodness, no sin.  

What You Lose When You Deny Creation

2015/04/img_5262.jpg

What comes from denying we exist as creatures in a place that was created?

What results when you believe that most biological diversity can be explained by genetic mutation and natural selection? That some form of evolution is the sole reason that there are bears and birds and bats, and not simply a planet containing single-cell organisms?

What results when you believe that gravity and time and hydrogen, as opposed to Jesus Christ and His voice and His plan, can result in fiery stars, mountains of cold stone, and impossibly deep waters?

Well, you won’t be in awe when you read God say to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

And you won’t tremble with awe or feel it in your guts when you read “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”

When you deny that God created what He says He did how He says He did it, you also deny yourself the joy of praising Him for it. Of fearing Him for it. Of seeing Him in it.

Our place in creation is a gift. Granted, it is now a creation that’s groaning for the return of Christ because of the terrible effects of sin, but our God-ordained role within it is still a gift. And great, psalm-writing, prayer-making, evangelism-inspiring gladness and awe come from seeing it that way. From seeing creation as His doing and His gift for His glory. The way His prophets and apostles and Son did.

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?”
Isaiah 40:12

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Matthew 6:26-27

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place.”
Acts 17:24-26

We see Him better and know Him better when we see His world for what it truly is.

Earlier this evening, outside my open front door, I heard warm rain slapping the mud in our front yard. My three-year-old daughter was laying on my lap. I was able to feel in my bones, sitting on my couch with warm spring air you could smell coming in through the screen door, thankfulness that such a world was authored. That this sort of Earth was fashioned by the decision and power and providence of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. That clouds and soft spring rain and children exist because He made them as Genesis 1 and 2 tell me He did (and that He has allowed sin and made the way for sin’s demise as a part of His plan for His glory, as Genesis 3 and the rest of His Bible tell me He has). I was given a moment of stilled, humble worship of Him because of the world He’s made, has sustained, and will remake.

God is obvious in His creation, but humans are born dead in sin, and so sinners love everything but God. Our race has always found ways to deny that God is God; and one of the current ones is naturalism. It’s simply commonplace in our day and place to deny that God made the ground we stand on, the air in our lungs, the moon over my head, the crickets who will soon be chirping outside. To deny that He made us humans male and female, that He is has good, wonderful authority over this sin-scarred planet, and that what we do with our bodies and our minds is all done under His jurisdiction.

It’s instead claimed that this is a rock amidst rocks, made by no one and filled with animals that have no purpose. It’s claimed by people whose hearts are far deader (though far more decisive) than their instincts that no one directly made us and there probably isn’t any One to whom we have to give an account.

And no one we should have to give praise to.

Whether you are a follower of Christ who has been subtly deceived by such talk or someone who has never been born from above to see and know Jesus, if you’ve bought this lie you have been short-sold. To deny the Giver is to deny the gift. You can marvel at colors or sounds, but you will never rightly enjoy them until you acknowledge and know their Maker. You will never fully grasp the beauty of redwoods and seashores and newborns until you recognize and love the One they point to; until you understand them as creations from and under the hand of the Most High.

To accept naturalism and see the universe as its own, unmade closed system isn’t to see nature for what she is, but to see her less clearly than ever. She was made by God and will be remade for His people. She is beautiful still (though under the weight of sin and death), because He is more beautiful. Nature is His doing. She makes a terrible god but a marvelous worship song.

To believe that matter and animals and humans came from anything other than the voice and hands of the Creator and through Christ is to be robbed of the delight, worship, and joy that they are meant to inspire. To deny Creation was created is to blind yourself to her purpose. To believe naturalism is to lose nature.

Creative

20140514-182029.jpg

A word we may not use correctly.

All human creation is derivative.

We didn’t invent the emotions we film, the world we film them in, the physical properties that allow the film to develop or download, or the humans who act in and produce the movie.

We didn’t author the colors we paint, the scenes that inspire them, or the eyes necessary to render the paint into something recognizable.

We didn’t create movement, we simply subdue it into automobiles. We didn’t create thought or minds, though we mold thoughts into words so that minds can interact with each other. We didn’t decide marriage and love would exist; we just follow (or disregard) the patterns laid out for our first parents.

On the first day, God created light, the beaming, white pulse that makes it possible for us to see. He created it from nothing. He had no preexisting blueprint, no earlier work of another that He simply improved upon. Light was not an impressive sequel, like The Godfather II (I hear). No, this was truly, definitively creative.

Imagine, just for a minute, that you have never seen light (or anything else, obviously). You’ve experienced nothing but the deepest, most uninterrupted blackness imaginable. That’s all there is. All there ever has been.

How would you imagine light? How could somebody even describe it to you? Try, in your mind, to describe sight and light to the imaginary you trapped in that darkness, having never seen, having never experienced anything but absolute darkness.

Humans can’t create what we haven’t already been given by experience. We can’t even imagine what we haven’t already experienced.

God, though, spoke the reality of light into being from nothing.

On the third day, God created, authored, spoke plants into being from nothing. Plants. In addition to land (already pretty weird if you think about it; go outside and stand on the dirt: that’s interlocking atoms, themselves mostly made up of empty space, that you’re standing on), God spoke plants into the universe.

There is a bristlecone pine in California that was probably already 600 years old when Moses was born.

Onions contain a mild antibiotic.

Every part of a dandelion is edible.

But we think Breaking Bad is the most creative thing we’ve ever seen?

On the fourth day, the God who would one day walk through Palestine and kill a fig tree decided that unimaginably massive balls of flaming hydrogen would light the night sky of Earth, and the galaxy it’s nestled in. He freely thought them up, talked their beauty into being, fashioned their flames and immense gravity into a portrait of light and speed.

When I was a teenager I thought Stephen King was the most creative person in the universe.

God chose that fish, birds, and animals should breathe and exist and have little animal babies on the fifth and sixth days of His universe. He decided (I assume) that sea horses should swim upright and that polar bears should have black skin.

We humans carry in us and on us, according to what God said He did on that sixth day, the breath of His own life and His image. We marry because He decided to create marriage and love. We eat and laugh and kiss and have children by His doing.

When we marvel at some wonderful piece of art, a song or a movie or a show or a book, we praise the author. We talk about how skilled and imaginative he or she is.

Let’s lose our breath for a minute at the color green, at sunlight, at our fingernails and the fact that we can hear our loved ones’ voices because sound waves move through air.

Let’s be amazed by creation periodically, and praise the only real, definitive Creator.