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


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.

30 Seconds On the Gospel

There is no greater force for good in the world than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It changes men from the bones out. It alters what they love and why. It makes men right with God so they can in turn be right with their neighbors. It instills reckless love, unshakeable peace, hope that will spend itself to do good, and wisdom that looks like foolishness to every last scoffer.  The Gospel is the very Good News that God, in Jesus Christ, can make us right with Him and can bring us home. There is no greater message. There is no greater hope. And there is nothing that can produce greater joy.  

The Gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is the most revolutionary instrument of good to ever grace our world. It can restore and reclaim what (and whom) nothing else can.   

The Gospel is the very good news our world needs, and has needed ever since Eden.  
All our deepest and truest needs can be met in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

The Gospel In Adultery and Murder

Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king’s house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, ‘Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’ David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, ‘I am pregnant.’ Then David sent to Joab, saying, ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ So Joab sent Uriah to David… Now in the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. He had written in the letter, saying, ‘Place Uriah in the front line of the fiercest battle and withdraw from him, so that he may be struck down and die.’ So it was as Joab kept watch on the city, that he put Uriah at the place where he knew there were valiant men. The men of the city went out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among David’s servants fell; and Uriah the Hittite also died… Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, ‘There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a great many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb which he bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; rather he took the poor man’s ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die. He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion.’ Nathan then said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel, It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’

2 Samuel 11:2-6, 14-17, 12:1-10

King David, a man after God’s own heart, murdered a man to cover up sleeping with the man’s wife. 

I’ve been in 1 and 2 Samuel the last few weeks. Monday or Tuesday I had this thought: There is no special reason I know of why I couldn’t have been the man wronged by David instead of Uriah. 

I wasn’t, obviously. God didn’t choose to have me born in the 2nd millennium BC in the Kingdom of Israel and allow me to marry the woman who David saw and wanted and either raped or took on with her approval (the text doesn’t explicitly tell us about Bathsheba’s willingness or lack thereof). 

 But He could have. 

I could have been the man of ancient Jerusalem who married Bathsheba and had this done to me by David. I could’ve been in Uriah’s shoes. And if I had been…

David would’ve murdered me to cover up sleeping with my wife.

God would have defended me to David. 

And David and I would have been brothers in Heaven after death. 

And the Gospel is in each of those 3 things.  

  • David would’ve killed me to cover up his adulterous sin against me. 

People are not inherently good. We are not born loving God and loving others as ourselves. We may learn to be decent, we may be nice or likeable or hard working, but our hearts are inclined to evil. And even after conversion, that flesh, that old man, can rise up and cause us to do evil things. The fact that people are born evil, that we all do evil, and that we cannot simply become pure or Godly on our own are essential parts of the Gospel. The Gospel is the Good News that in Jesus by the power of the Spirit God the Father has accomplished His plan to do for people what they cannot do themselves. The fact that David was born in sin and was capable of such horrific, violent, greedy wickedness is proof that we need what the Gospel offers. 

  • God would have defended me to David.

God defends me. I am in Him through faith and a part of the people of God, and so I have a defender. Wrongs against me do not go unseen. Someone has taken account of them, each of them, and they will each be paid for, either on the Cross or in Hell. Most importantly, I have a defender against the good, just wrath of God that I myself deserve. 

This God who is righteously indignant at what David did to the man with less is the God who has rebuked Satan, crushed death, and absorbed the wrath for my sin with all the vigor and the love I see in Scripture. This God is, and will always be, my defender. 

  • David and I would have been brothers in Heaven after death.

The one wronged and the one who wronged him can be reconciled through faith in Christ. They can be brought together in unimaginably full-throated, God-centered love. As Jesus, the perfect Son of God, Himself is perfectly reconciled to Peter, the man who disowned him. Jesus was more profoundly and undeservingly wronged by all of us, since He is God for whom we were created and yet we have each deserted Him. And yet our once bloodied, shamed, beaten Lord opens His arms in forever-love to all of us who believe in Him. Despite what David would have done to me, despicably violating and dishonoring me, had I been in Uriah’s place as a believer David and I would have eventually sat as brothers at the same final banquet, clothed in the same righteousness of God. 
I could’ve been destroyed as the victim of this sin. God would have defended me to David, against Satan, and against His own just wrath for me. And David and I would have been reconciled in purity and Christlike love in Heaven. I see the grace of the God’s salvation in this difficult story. 

2 Samuel 11 and 12, like all of Scripture, is layered with the truths of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  

The Bible tells a very good, very true story. 

Remembering Where We’re Going

I’m living in the 18th house I’ve lived in.  I’m 32 years old and I’ve never lived at any one place for more than 3 years.  I was thinking about that as I enjoyed this feeling I’ve been having all day.  It’s a feeling of longing for home.  For the place I belong.  The place I fit.  

I’m in the book of Deuteronomy right now, and I’m reading Moses recounting to the Israelites their long journey to this land God had set aside for them.  He knew their sin would sever them from it, but that’s not what I’m thinking about right now.  The picture I have in my head is of Moses trekking this long, providentially hard road to the Promised Home.  Despite missteps and faithlessness and sin and fears and scoffers and enemies and hunger, Moses clung to the Promise and to the One who made it.  And day after day, month after month, year after year after year he wound his way to the spot where he’d been called, right there on the mountain where God would bury him.  

And of course someday raise him.   

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired.  Raising kids isn’t easy, and neither is being a spouse or an employee, and most of all being a Christian is hard.  I forget, a couple of days a week, probably, to remember what I’m actually walking for.  I forget to hope for the day when I can meet Him face to face.  I forget what it was like to long for the return of Christ so deeply you can’t put words to it.  To know that your truest home isn’t in some nostalgic past but in the future.  To have a sweet sorrow in your heart that He hasn’t come yet but will.  I drive to work and drive home and discipline kids and pay bills and do good things as though they’re only things, and I drift from that hope.  The hope that feels magic when you let it out.  

Home.  There is a place, Christian, where we fit.  There is a family we were made to join.  There is a seat at a great banquet table with my name on it, and there will be brothers and sisters and friends all around.  And a God I was made to enjoy.  

Home, Christian. 

This road leads somewhere.  Eyes up.  We’re not just wandering through the desert this time.  

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.  

More Than Good Works

The world does not need more mere good works.  

Being a nice man can’t get me eternal life.  Having solid character won’t make me right with my Creator.  It won’t unstain what I’ve stained.  Being a good guy won’t fix me.  

We are in a much deeper hole than common wisdom suggests.  And a much different kind of hole.  Specifically, this hole is a grave.  

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Ephesians 2:1-3

We are born spiritually dead, all of us.  Lovely and human and valuable, but also wicked and spiritually dead.  And so the world needs much more than deeds of kindness.  The Middle Ages had deeds of kindness.  But what they thirsted for was a power that their churches had long obscured, and the Reformation was the rain that fell on that parched ground.  

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’

Romans 1:16-17

The world needs salvation.  It needs regeneration.  It needs people who have been taken as one thing and remade into another.  And since mere good works won’t do, a mere teacher won’t do.  It needs someone who can undo what we have done and who can remake us from the feet up.  

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  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 2:9-14

Only God can remake a man.  Only God can kill the worst in him and bring him back something better, and not only better but something altogether different.  Only God can pay a man’s eternal debt, a debt incurred from breaking the best of laws, willfully and daily.  

The world doesn’t need more mere good works.  The world needs the power of God.  It needs a Messiah, a Χριστός.  It needs someone who will do what we cannot, and who can make us what we should be.

The world needs something it cannot offer itself:  A death and a resurrection.  A divine rescue.  It’s a great need.  Impossible, apart from a miracle.  

But thankfully the only thing that can outpace that need is His grace.  

As deep as our grave is, His grace is deeper still.  

We have the Gospel we need.  

But what does it say?  ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.  For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

Romans 10:8-13