|Offended--and Proud of It
|Thursday, August 19, 2021|
In the last two or three years, it has replaced baseball as America’s pastime. These days, it seems everyone is offended and going to bat about something. There is nothing, it seems, over which we will not be offended.
While humans have managed to irritate each other since Adam and Eve, today's cultural climate offers two distinct differences. First, social media has created a global platform to air those grievances. And air them we do. Second, a sustained pattern of lawsuits has given birth to the notion that "If I am offended, so you must placate me."
The implication is that others must change for me—so I can feel "safe" or valued or equal. Gone is the idea that reasonable people might share reasonable—even sharp—differences of opinion without demanding one side cave in.
We should be able to disagree and remain civil. Anything else is opposed to biblical virtues like kindness, gentleness, and "esteeming others better" than ourselves (Phil. 2:3). The Bible argues love "does not demand its own way" (1 Corinthians 13:5). Who should be more civil than Bible-believing Christians?
But increasingly, I see believers adopting the world’s self-centered mindset, slapping godly labels on godless attitudes. We’re offended—and by golly, this evil world had better know it!
Certainly, there is much in our culture that is opposed to our Christian faith.
Certainly, there is much over which we could be offended.
Certainly, we must never call evil good or good evil.
But with all that said, there is precious little over which Christians have a right to be offended. Consider Christ. He endured insults, slander, jeering—regularly. Yet we see not one hint of offense taken on His part.
The old chorus had it right:
They’ll know we are Christians by our love.
Not our sense of offense.
|Pray for Me
|Thursday, August 12, 2021|
A friend at work recently texted to thank me for praying about a family health situation. Good thing it was a text and not FaceTime. I’m sure there was a strained look on my face as I pondered whether, in fact, I had prayed. Perhaps I did pray initially, but not nearly as much as my friend credited me.
Can you relate to that? Someone asks you to pray, and you give hearty agreement to their request with every intention to follow through. And then, you don’t. Your friend is assuming you’re praying—counting on it. They've told others that you are praying, and people naturally think that you are. Only later do you find out that you've let them down. (Is that letting God down?).
My friend’s good medical report should have made me feel good. Instead, I felt guilt. Surely, I should have prayed more. But since God doesn't beat us up over these things, I concluded that perhaps my self-condemnation was a bit harsh. Maybe the worst of it—and this is no small thing—is that we miss out on the blessing that comes from being a committed prayer team member.
Dr. Bob Moeller, a mentor of mine, once advised, “When someone asks you to pray for them, do it right there on the spot. Whether in person or on the phone—pray for them.” I haven’t always lived up to that advice, but I try.
Maybe that’s the best rendering of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
The very moment someone asks, or the very moment we remember we’re supposed to pray—we pray.
I dare you. Next time a friend or loved one asks you to pray about a situation, do it right then. In your office. In your house. As you’re together in church. As you’re out in public together.
The moment you hear the words, "Pray for me," go ahead and pray—out loud. The place doesn't matter, but the prayer does. So—pray!
|Thursday, August 05, 2021|
Attempting to put sunscreen on a two-year-old is like trying to catch a greased pig. You can try, but it’s not going to be pretty.
Yet Emma wanted to play in the park and it was sunny outside and since she was in our care, we dug out the sunscreen. A dab on her nose and each cheek should have been easy to smooth out.
Did I mention Emma is two? She looked this way and that and up and down and around. I tried rubbing that lotion in for all I was worth. And failed.
Her head was wiggling and wobbling and there was no way that sun screen was going to get smoothed out.
Finally, she’d had enough and—spoiler alert—she did not decide to sit still. Instead, she muttered, “Come on!” As if I was laying down on the job.
Emma could not know that A), I had her best interests at heart and that B), she herself was the cause of the delay. All I wanted was for her to sit still so I could finish my task.
I wonder how often our Heavenly Father feels the same way about us. He’s trying to protect us from something. And we’re wiggling and wobbling and increasingly frustrated that “nothing is happening.” We even wonder (secretly of course) if He’s laying down on the job.
But the whole time He has our best interests at heart. And—like Emma—we are often the cause of our own delays. None of which keeps us from muttering a frustrated prayer that sounds remarkably like Emma’s: “Come on!”
Maybe it’s time to just sit and let God be God.
|Learning on a Jet Plane
|Thursday, July 29, 2021|
Air travel is back. In a big way!
Between July 1 and July 5, TSA workers screened more than 10 million people. That's a record exceeding any pre-pandemic numbers.
Snaking through the Disney-like security lines at O’Hare last week, I observed a flight attendant's ID tag marked in bold black letters, "Known Crew Member."
The speed with which she breezed through lines that bogged down the rest of us gave new meaning to the expression, "cleared for takeoff.”
Finally shoehorned into my airplane seat, I watched as fellow travelers attempted to mash luggage into overhead bins that seem to shrink with every flight. Naturally, we were all wearing masks—required by the FAA.
One lady sported a black mask with a single word in a white scripted font: “Filthy.” Wonder what her motive was.
The more I puzzled over this, the more my mind was drawn to things eternal. In the eyes of God, there isn’t a single one of us who isn’t filthy, spiritually. Isaiah 64:6 assesses that “all our righteousness,” meaning our Sunday best behavior, “is like filthy rags.” Now that’s dirty!
So, where’s the hope? Jesus! He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (eternal death in hell). He made it possible for us to be forgiven—cleansed of all our filth.
1 John 1:9 promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
If you have asked Jesus to be the leader of your life—the Bible word is “Savior”—then your filth has been removed! Better yet, on judgment day (and there really is a judgment day coming), Jesus will see you as a “Known Crew Member.”
When that day is here at last, what will your ID tag say?
|Thursday, July 22, 2021|
I heard something the other day that nearly curled my toes and curdled my milk. Some guy was relating a personal incident that he summarized with the phrase, "that's my truth."
Like a noxious weed, this expression is invading the landscape of American thought. The big deal? Truth and personal experience are both treated as equals. But there's an ocean of difference between the two.
Truth operates independently of experience. Experience is personal, flexible, and open to interpretation. Truth is impersonal, fixed, and not open to interpretation. Truth exists outside of opinion—yours or mine.
For me to claim that water boils at 212 degrees is not “my truth.” It is truth. To say that Sunday follows Saturday is not “my truth.” It is truth.
Experience, on the other hand, is highly personal and driven by taste. One person’s bad experience with Mexican food is another person’s culinary delight.
When we elevate experience to the level of truth, truth is the loser because it is stripped of any objective measurement. But this is exactly what society has done. Unnerved by judgments our culture despises, we have erased our guilt by elevating experience to the realm of truth. That way, any experience can be called good or truthful—particularly those behaviors that were formerly believed to be harmful. At the same time, those old-fashioned souls who believe in old-fashioned truth are dismissed or ignored or ridiculed (they are, after all, old-fashioned).
The journey is hardly surprising. When a society is determined to call evil good and good evil, it has no choice but to redefine truth as experience. This way, the "new truth" can be melted and molded as needed while still wearing that bullet-proof, don't-mess-with-me reputation that real truth still has.
Jesus didn’t say “I am a truth”—meaning one among many. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Language matters—and that’s the truth.
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