|Thursday, March 18, 2021|
Call it a case of nostalgia. Or maybe it’s proof of our advancing age. Many of us miss the America that was kinder and gentler toward folks who revere the Bible and its Author. We miss the old country.
That’s well and good to a point. The problem is, I want that country too much. Maybe you, too? We’re not the first.
I'm pretty sure believers in the first century longed for the "old country" of safety once persecution broke out. But that didn't stop them from taking a stand for Christ. Noting their legacy of endurance, Hebrews 11:16 says of them, “they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”
I suspect that for many of us, the real problem is, we want heaven down here—not up there. Of course, as Christians called to be salt and light, we should do whatever we can to preserve what is right and good about America. But not to the extent we forget this earth is just a stopping place, a campsite for a season.
Sadly, many of us seek the continuance of our comfort and the certainty of our safety more than the hope of heaven. We want our old country more than the new country, heaven. We must set our sights higher!
The antidote is to read about heaven, ponder heaven, talk about heaven, invest in heaven, look for heaven—and live for heaven. That’s the new country—where your forgiveness, your salvation, your rewards, and your Savior can never be canceled!
Where is your heart set—the old country or the new?
|Thursday, March 11, 2021|
Who would believe it was even there?
In the first week of March?
Under a pile of melting snow?
Not just any garden variety nuisance, this was a tuft of the dreaded Creeping Charlie, the wicked weed that battles us for lawn supremacy every summer.
Diana and I were raking off the flower beds in our front yard when we spied the modest growth. With no small sense of grim and grit, I pried the thing out of the soil. Satisfaction was mine!
Until I found another. And another. Yanked those out, too. The war against Creeping Charlie is not to be taken lightly. Yet, I am firmly resolved, totally dedicated. Let the turf wars begin!
I wish my sense of battle were as strong when it comes to our struggle with sin. But we are not alone. Puritan John Owen wrote an entire book on "The Mortification (killing) of Sin." He asks,
Like the Creeping Charlie I think I’ve eradicated from the flower bed, sin comes back. It always does. There is never a day when you or I can rest from the task of “killing sin.” But to cease the fight is to lose the fight.
Former Moody Radio Pastor Donald Cole once told me, “the fact that you struggle with sin is not a thing for discouragement—it’s evidence you’re on the right track. It’s when you stop fighting that you have a problem.”
John Owen’s words are worth repeating: Be killing sin—or it will be killing you.”
Let the turf wars begin!
|Taking Shots at the Light
|Thursday, March 04, 2021|
It juts 165 feet into the sky and has lit the coastline since 1874.
The St. Augustine lighthouse is more than just a landmark. It is a tower of living history (its light is still in use today!).
One bizarre chapter of that history unfolded in 1986. Bullets fired from a .30-06 rifle aimed directly at the light. Those shots ended up shattering 19 prisms in the Fresnel lens. Hank Mears, who served as the caretaker of the light from 1968 to 1989, immediately called the FBI.
After carefully combing the area, agents discovered powder burns on a nearby palm tree. Eventually, they traced the shooting to a fourteen-year-old kid. The lens needed repair, which required two years of painstaking work.
You have to wonder, who would want to shoot at a lighthouse? Turns out, people have been taking shots at the light for a long time.
Consider the prophet Jeremiah, whose unflinching prophecy got him tossed into a cistern, where Scripture says he sank into the mud. Daniel spent a night with lions. Stephen was stoned outside the city. For his unwavering beam of light, John had his head cut off. Consider all the shots that Jesus took throughout his three-year ministry—all before being crucified between two thieves.
People have been taking shots at the light for a long time. And the darker it gets (and the brighter we shine), we can expect to take our share of shots, as well.
But lights were made for nothing other than the darkness!
No point in having a lighthouse for mere decoration.
I’m not suggesting a hideous fate awaits every one of us. But a proper reading of Scripture demands a certain sobriety.
Consider Christ’s assessment: “And this is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
What now? Shall we dig a hole somewhere and hunker down? Here again, the words of Jesus are compelling: "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 4:16).
It’s time to shine!
|Thursday, February 25, 2021|
It’s called Theraputty.
To four-year-old Ava, it was "firm play dough." My wife somehow acquired a plastic tub of the green stuff used in exercise regimens to strengthen muscles and joints. At $27 per pound on Amazon, it’s not cheap. But it is fun.
Sitting at the kitchen table, we spent hours crafting shapes and critters of all sizes. I attempted a cat, but Ava wondered where the front legs were. Appropriately chastised, I made a horse that did have four legs. This Ava immediately trotted off to her personal pasture.
My next attempt was a cube, which she plucked up for her own purposes.
Finally, I attempted a pyramid (which turned out to be surprisingly challenging). Not ten seconds after completion, this was repurposed into an appendage of some kind on Ava’s ghost.
None of this reallocation of putty resources was mean-spirited. Ava was just having fun—at my expense.
Still, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit it was a bit disconcerting. I was proud of what I had made. I kinda wanted those things to stay around—for at least 30 seconds. Those were my creations made with my playdough. Or Theraputty. Or whatever (and here, I sound like a four-year-old).
We smile. But that playful protest of mine is not so different than our response to God. When He takes our grandiose plans and dreams and shapes them into something entirely different than we've envisioned, our first response is usually to complain rather than comply.
It’s so easy to get spun up. But what’s God’s perspective?
We get more than a hint in Romans 9:20-21, “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ;Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
Are you willing to be putty for Jesus?
Willing to let Him remold your agenda?
Willing to release your grip on what is in glad exchange for what might be?
Next time you feel like God has rolled you up and then stretched you out— and your life looks very little like your dreams, come back to earth. Come back to humility. We are, after all, just clay.
|Is Disagreeing Hateful?
|Thursday, February 18, 2021|
Free speech is muzzled.
Christian viewpoints are silenced.
Cancel culture is a seemingly unstoppable stampede.
Have you ever asked yourself how we got to this place? There is no single answer. But let me tell you what I think is at the core of much of it: a hijacking of language.
This hijacking took place when Christians—and others—who disagreed with the alternative lifestyles many embraced were told our opposition was “hateful.”
Mind you, I disagree all the time with my wife—and she with me. That doesn’t mean we hate each other. Any parent of a teen disagrees with their kid’s lifestyle choices—and often! But that doesn’t mean they hate! Good friends are good friends precisely because they can disagree—and still love each other.
Nevertheless, the hate label took off. And that rush to calling any opposing opinion hateful was timed with the emergence of hate speech sympathies in our culture and legal system.
Hate speech laws can now make almost anything illegal. In this new twisted logic, to disagree is to hate—and to hate is illegal. Therefore, disagreeing is illegal! It’s crazy. Maddening. And more.
I hate no man. I hate no woman. Because I serve a God who “so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have eternal life.”
If any speech can be called hate speech, then there is no such thing as free speech.
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