Cathedrals and Kingdoms

Our pastor at church this past weekend preached a sermon called “Don’t Go To Church… BE the Church.” I reflected a lot on that yesterday as I watched the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral go up in flames. American Christians are pretty comfortable with the idea that ‘church’ isn’t just a brick building you go to on Sunday’s. We Protestants are especially quick to point out that Jesus called us to focus on making disciples, not building campaigns. We believe in Emmanuel, “God with us”… wherever we may go. Paul tells us that we are all “God’s temple” and that His Spirit dwells always with us (1 Corinthians 3:16). So thanks be to God that His presence doesn’t reside solely in a building, but within us wherever we may be.

So, because we have this glorious truth, and perhaps because we are Americans whose history (or lack of it) leads us to jump right in and fix things, we make statements like this:

“Its too bad the relics didn’t burn.. The RCC uses thes fake relics to exploit people financially and keep them in spiritual bondage. The RCC gives a false gospel which has no hope.”

Justin Peters, Evangelist

I completely agree with his statement, by the way. But I take pause.

I take pause because if watching an 800 year old cathedral go up in flames doesn’t grieve your heart, well, I just don’t know. Something has been lost, and it’s more than just wood and stone.

I spent a good part of my younger years writing about and studying the Great Lady of Paris. Notre Dame was and is an overwhelming experience no matter who you are or what your faith may be. Your ego gets checked at the door as you enter and try and wrap your mind around the grandeur of it all. You feel small, and rightly so. To walk up tiny steps worn down by centuries of worshippers, to touch a cold stone pillar that has survived revolutions, wars, and who knows what… it humbles you.

Last night, when the first photos began to come out, this was what many people saw:


There it stands. Yes, it’s symbolic. No, it doesn’t solve the enormous problems the Church in France or Europe is facing. As far as true Christianity goes, Notre Dame has been a bit of an empty vessel for many years. But there it stands, amongst actual flames and debris, the cross remains.

Friends, we are created for worship. We don’t worship the earthly material, we worship the One who created it. The fact that men centuries ago could use their God-given minds and talents to build something that would long outlast themselves, is something to be acknowledged. You can argue the point that places like this are prideful and opulent, and we Christians aren’t called to be either. Imagine worshipping in spirit and in truth in such a place. These places are symbolic of the physical presence of Jesus-followers here on earth. Granted, we haven’t always done a bang-up job at ‘being the church’ the way He taught us to, but I don’t fault the architects of beauty for that. I thank them for having the guts and dedication to build something on this earth that gets people to look up and ponder the greatness of their Creator.

So before we start lamenting the sad state of Christianity “over there”… let’s remember that we are not immune to our own cultural traps as well. Here’s a nice little ad for Easter services at an American mega-church:

If Europe is rationalizing it’s church away, we are entertaining the life right out of ours. I’m all for getting people to come to church on Easter, but they need something leave with. People in Europe go out of duty, while many of us go to be entertained. Some idolize old relics while others are Instagramming their professional bunny photos.

If Jesus’ death and resurrection aren’t being preached, what are we really doing?

It’s Holy Week. Although we all may disagree on how to celebrate it, can we pause for a moment and thank God that the cross still stands? Not just in Notre Dame, but in our lives. It stands through everything the world can throw our way. It stands regardless of man’s futile attempts to eradicate it. It stands when we cannot.

Thousands of people across the world are looking at that now iconic photo and saying, “I’m not a religious person… BUT…” Perhaps we need to help them finish that sentence.

We need to BE the church this week and going forward. People need to hear the Good News, see it demonstrated and lived out. The great bells at Notre Dame will ring out again, I’m sure of it. Maybe not this Easter, but eventually. Christians need to understand that the Good News spoken plainly and in love is better than those beautiful bells, or even the Easter Bunny in a helicopter.

So no, I’m not Catholic, but I mourn the loss of beauty that allowed my feeble mind to imagine a glimpse of heaven. At their best, cathedrals and churches are the catalysts that drive us to press in even more to our God.

Buildings matter. Buildings are not ultimate. We need both catacombs and cathedrals. We need churches meeting in homes and schools and movie theaters, to remind us that we are citizens of heaven, and we need structures and stability to remind us that we are connected to generations before us and to come. 
Notre Dame is a remarkable building. France, and the world, should grieve, and should then rebuild. We are right to lament the loss, but we are right also to be reminded of what cannot be lost. Cathedrals can be shaken; the kingdom never can be. 

Russell Moore

Pray For Them

I’m at the point in my motherhood journey where the cutesy stuff just isn’t cutting it anymore. My kids are in high school and middle school now and that naive, innocent phase, as much as it stings my heart, is over. The world expands more and more each passing year and there’s not a darn thing I can do to slow it down. We spend a huge chunk of their lives shielding them from all the bad stuff, and then suddenly have to make an uncomfortable shift: teach them about all the things before the world does. To say I feel like I’m in a battle for souls is not an understatement.

There’s the natural teen stuff we all had to deal with like friendships and dating, but now we have all kinds of bonus issues like easy-access internet pornography, social media nonsense, and vaping. The quick, 5 minutes with Jesus stuff isn’t cutting it anymore. My kids are at Christian schools and the things they are having to deal with keeps me awake many a night. Even the ‘good’ kids are slip-sliding away into all kinds of gray areas that leave me questioning everything. They are inundated with Biblical truth and walking off into a totally different direction.

My son’s high school had their first suicide last week. I can’t even breathe when I think about it. Kids who he grew up with and have known for years are taking paths that I know they weren’t raised to take. So I cry out to God for an explanation and an answer… what can I do to keep this from happening? I’m a doer. If I can read it to them, type it out, teach it, put it on a notecard, I’m on it. My struggle is that I think if I can just convey the right information to them, they’ll want to choose God.

Today, the Lord just kind of flattened this right out of me… in a good way. I pulled out an old prayer I wrote for them a few years ago and read it out loud. Jesus is their Savior, not me.

This is irrationally hard for me to admit. My marching orders come from Jesus. I can’t control my way to Godly teenagers, but I can guide them and pray for them. Here’s just a bit of what I prayed for my kids today:

  • Give them wisdom to not be unequally yoked in their relationships. Send them friends that will build them up.
  • May rebellion never get a foothold in their lives. Give them a healthy understanding of boundaries and may ungodly things be unattractive to them.
  • Show them it’s ok to be different. May they live supernaturally, not strategically.
  • May they desire holiness over being popular or relevant.
  • May they dwell on the the good things they have and not their weaknesses.
  • May forgiveness, confession and compassion be a part of their daily lives as they learn to receive and give mercy.
  • Give them a vision, a big picture to live for that goes beyond what they can see now. Assure them that momentary troubles are not permanent and that You have good plans for them.

I’m learning that the time to pray is when I least feel like praying. That’s ok. This is an offensive war we are in. Letting the days slip by without giving them the tools they need is my greatest fear. We can’t be ignorant of what is happening to our loved ones or think they are immune from the enemy’s attacks. None of us are. But thanks be to God that He has them in the palm of His hand and we can remove ourselves from the drivers seat.

Perhaps this is what our teens need most: parents with a single-minded determination to follow him. We will not do so perfectly, but our own stumbling progress toward discipleship puts us on the same road as our teens — and what a joy it is to be traveling toward Christ together.

Michele Morin

Traveling the road together is a huge privilege. Scary as can be at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Don’t sit by while the world has it’s way with your kids or anyone close to you… know God’s word and pray it. Shout it out loud. Let the heavens know to whom you belong.

Unintended Consequences

“In the age of #MeToo, where women are encouraged to tell their stories and be heard, where liberals are demanding the public trust women, I implore the nation to hear me out, to trust me.
There is such little tolerance for women on the national stage who don’t agree with the hosts of The View or celebrities who march with Planned Parenthood. No one wants to be silenced, especially women at this time in our history.”

Abby Johnson

She worked at Planned Parenthood for eight years, climbing her way up in the ranks from volunteer to director. After assisting at an ultrasound abortion one day, she realized everything she’d believed about this ‘business’ was a lie. Abby Johnson’s movie “Unplanned” opened this weekend, and in spite of some very dramatic moves to squash it’s voice, it succeeded, pulling in just over six million dollars.

The film received an R rating, though completely unmerited. The reason being that it depicts abortion, something which a teen year old girl could get in real life without a parent, but not see portrayed on a screen. There was of course an advertising blackout for the film, meaning even in theaters where it was showing, you’d hardly know it. The real icing on the cake came over the weekend when Twitter decided to suspend the movie’s account for no apparent reason. Just a glitch, don’t cha know…

The backlash that ensued was something to behold. The deliberate attempt to silence the pro-life bunch created so much hoopla that the movie and the suspension began trending all over the world. In their zeal to control the narrative, the Twitter gods helped the movie’s account skyrocket from a few thousand followers to over 250k people.

Within a few hours, things were seemingly back to normal. Positive reviews of the movie were pouring in, the word was getting out, and numbers were surging. Then last night, more shenanigans ensued when practically everyone who had followed the account discovered that they were no longer able to receive updates from it. Twitter kicked off most of Unplanned movie’s followers, including myself, and we were not allowed to follow them anymore.

Do not tell me this is about algorithms. I momentarily followed Planned Parenthood’s main account and guess what? No issues there!

I can live without Twitter. It holds no importance in my life other than bringing me information. My point is this: censoring and trying to silence your opposition may be their way, but it can never be ours. This goes far beyond a social media platform and right to the heart of who we are as believers.

Paul told us in Ephesians 6:12 that “we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

This present darkness indeed. How else do you explain an entire population of people who go to such strange lengths to protest life? Truly, it is a sobering thing. They get free reign in our culture to put out all the (mis)information they want, freely and without ever being questioned. Every day is Planned Parenthood day in this culture. One little movie comes out that dares to present the other side, and look at this reaction.

Abby Johnson isn’t lying. The folks at PP know that everything she says is true and they can’t handle not being the ones to control the narrative.

Our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood… we have to remember that as we each head out in the world to fight our battles. The enemy lies, manipulates and coerces people into all kinds of things… being a Christian who knows and acts on truth isn’t optional.

Whether you see the movie or not… remember that there is nothing so ‘unplanned’ that it is beyond God’s redemptive love and mercy. Jesus forgives us when we can’t forgive ourselves. He redeems the impossible situation and brings it life.

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:20,25

Deconstructing Faith

Yesterday on Twitter, I noticed an author I read a lot of “liked” and commented on a tweet that said the following:

“I’m baffled by folks who claim that scripture is “clear”, “plain” or “black and white.” I mean – are we reading the same book? the Bible is a hot-complicated-gray-muddy-mess with one of the only clear things being the way God feels about His people – and really, that’s what gets me.”

There’s this trendy new thing in the cool kids’ circles of Christianity called ‘deconstructing.’ Like what restaurants do when they want to make your wedge salad look edgy, all the individual parts get deconstructed and placed on their own. A pile of bacon here, the lettuce over there, onions off to the side… you then get to re-construct it as you wish. I find it tedious and the opposite of edgy.

The folks who fashion themselves pretty smart and important have decided that it’s high time our faith gets a deconstruction of it’s own. Times are changing! Who are we to keep these archaic old systems in place? Like the childhood game of ‘telephone’, it’s been decided that the more you try and pass along God’s word, the more things get garbled and confused. Life is really hard, and if you aren’t questioning all the established systems, something is wrong with you. It’s the height of pride, they say to think we could or even should attempt to understand the Bible or take it at face value. Deconstruction offers a system in which we can pick and choose what we leave behind and what we take with us. Life is a journey y’all, and if you aren’t changing with the, you aren’t being true to yourself.

Back to this Twitter quote… the big thing she’s gleaned from the Bible is that God has some positive feeeeelings about His people. That’s it. If you’re convinced the God you serve loves you but is purposely muddying the waters, doesn’t that affect your heart just a little bit?

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: I think we can all agree that there are things we humans will never understand this side of heaven. I’d even say we aren’t meant to. Yes, God is big, we are small, and to say we have it all figured out is just as unhelpful as thinking we can’t know anything. There aren’t formulas to God, and life is certainly not black and white.

We are willfully turning our compass into a stumbling block.

On the surface, this kind of thinking leads to a helpless Christianity. We love Him, and believe He loves us, but what happens when we expect things to stay gray and muddy? They have a tendency to stay gray and muddy! But the entire trajectory of His word, from Old Testament to New, is the revelation of the truth to all people… not just scribes and scholars.

“The unfolding of your words gives light;  it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.” Matthew 22:29

When Moses handed down God’s commandments to Israel, they were expected to understand them and pass them down to their children. Jesus always affirmed scripture, conveying that the problem was a failure to believe it rather than an inability to understand it.

Do you see the importance of this? It’s because of our stubborn unbelief that things get cloudy. Here’s a classic example from Jen Hatmaker that I know will annoy some, I don’t mean to bead a dead horse, but I think is extremely important. And more like this is coming down the pipeline every day:

“I just sort of have this dream for the church where it is safe and it is wide and it is generous and it includes all of our voices. For the longest time, the church has essentially had one voice — sort of the white, male voice. I’m starting to realize how much the church is missing when we silence whole people groups, like you’re either not welcome at all, or you’re welcome but not your voice, not your experience, not your life.”

“Wide and safe.” Jesus literally tells us that the path to the Kingdom is a narrow one and that the vast majority are going to choose the wider gate that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). This doesn’t mean Christianity is prejudiced, as she assumes. Can we underline and highlight this please? This is a false argument! I know it’s all the rage these days to talk about how awful we all are in this area, but this rhetoric is poison. Jesus told the people in the previous verses that everyone who asks receives, everyone who knocks will have the door opened to him. The narrow path is open to all who choose to come to Him, but not everyone will. The metaphor of the big wide open table is pulling at everyone’s heartstrings, but Jesus didn’t promote this. A seat at the table comes at a cost.

“Includes all our voices.” The problem with a lot of voices is, well, it’s a lot of voices. Nobody is trying to silence entire segments of the population, but Christians are to be deferring to the singular voice of God above all else and then going out to talk about it. I know that hurts people’s pride and the need to be heard or adored or popular… but God’s voice first. Not Jen Hatmaker or the well-meaning Bible study lady or the guy at Starbucks. This yearning she talks about to be included and heard would naturally shift to something infinitely better if she’d allow God to do the talking first. We want to go share the Good News, not our latest hot take on why that news is problematic.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow Me.” John 10:27

Our Creator has never un-friended or un-welcomed us and don’t let anyone tell you differently. Your experience and your life matter to Him. Yes, churches have been unwelcoming at times and that goes against God’s Word and character, but don’t confuse the issue and expect everyone to welcome your unrepentant sin to the party. Our SIN is not welcomed and never will be. It does not get a place at the table because it spoils the feast.

“If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” John 7:17

Jesus says that we have to first want to do God’s will. He is absolutely capable of handling our questions, doubts and even our sin, but we have to take them to Him with the expectation that He has a solution. Do we really want to hear what He has to say? Or are we aiming for the approval of the masses? Doubt isn’t a sin, it’s not the same as unbelief, but given enough oxygen, it can become a monster. It leads us down weird paths and convinces us we need to ‘deconstruct’ something we may have never correctly understood in the first place.

Our journey isn’t ever static, we will go through change and doubt to be sure. God’s Word is stable and unchanging, but also very much alive and active through us. It may seem like a contradiction, but there is plenty of room on the narrow path for anyone who chooses to take it. Walking with Jesus on that path opens our eyes to greater truths than any human could ever conjure up.

And look at this ridiculous salad for heavens sakes… someone please put it back together.

The Real Deal

“The challenge before us then, is not merely to do what God says because He is God, but to desire what God says because He is good. The challenge is not merely to pursue righteousness, but to prefer righteousness. The challenge is to get up in the morning and prayerfully meditate on the Scriptures until we experience joy and peace in believing the “precious and very great promises” of God (Romans 15:13, 2 Peter 1:4). With this joy set before us, the commandments of God will not be burdensome (1 John 5:3) and the compensation of sin will appear too brief and too shallow to lure us.”

John Piper

While driving around with my boys yesterday listening to the news updates of the day, we heard a commentator joke that the level of ‘shenanigans’ happening is reaching epic proportions. It seems like someone has yelled “every man for himself!” and declared the ship to be sinking. From the absurd to the downright illegal, the insanity is really out on display. I realize selfish scrambling is nothing new to humanity, but sometimes you just hear these stories and think “seriously folks?!” It reminded me of the verse in Hosea that warns, “they sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” (8:7). Lots of whirlwinds swirling about.

Tricked into thinking the wages of sin are something other than death, we keep falling for the same old tricks. This was our car question yesterday: If we know God’s ways are truly best, why don’t we just follow them? Here are some things we came up with:

  • God’s way is best, but it usually isn’t the easiest.
  • Sin usually looks so much prettier than it really is.
  • We know a lot about Him, but we don’t actually know Him

It’s not for a lack of knowledge that we choose to do the things we do. We just aren’t fully convinced in what He says. Our wills are strong. There’s a disconnect happening. Psalm 34:8 tells us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” When you want someone to experience just how great a book or movie was you tell them to go read it or watch it. When you have something delicious at a restaurant, you say “here, you have to try this!” It’s the same thing with Jesus. We have to actually prefer Him over everything else. How beautiful to get to a place in life where you only want what He wants because you trust in Him over everything else.

I love this verse in 2 Corinthians:

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (11:3).

Paul is warning against over-complicating things. There’s a simplicity in Jesus that the enemy wants to do away with. Eve got all tangled up in this: “Did God really say that? He didn’t really mean it. You can do better…” The rest is history.

When we live out of our feelings and our intellect, God is sometimes God and sin is sometimes sin. We shape it and make it into whatever suits us at the moment.

What if we took His “precious and great promises” at face value, and believed that they were freeing instead of burdensome? Sin would remain exactly what it is, God would be exactly who He is, and we would reap the benefits of being exactly where we need to be in that whole mix: submitted to Christ as our authority and source of all that is good.

God can be a chore, He can be our “plan B”, or He can be our absolute joy and daily bread. We think obedience is burdensome and hard, but life any other way is downright impossible. Look around a the news headlines and all the “shenanagins” coming out from the woodwork… what a tangled web we humans are capable of weaving.

What if we started seeing relationship with Jesus as our blood-bought privilege instead of one more thing to figure out? What if we listen when He calls, take heed when He warns, obey without excuse when He commands, and love how He loves? I think the world is longing for Christians like this. People who demonstrate freedom instead of bondage, clarity and stability over wishy-washy lifestyles, life over death.

Why would we choose anything but Him?

“How little people know who think that holiness is dull.  When one meets the real thing . . . it is irresistible.  If even 10 percent of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before the year’s end?

C.S. Lewis

Let’s go be the real thing.

Still Offended By Goodness

“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:13-15

There is a predictably one-sided and hysterical article that came out at HuffPo bemoaning the fact that Chick-Fil-A is still continuing in their “legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior” by donating vast amounts of money to hate groups. Genuine shock and outrage that they did not receive the previous memo to abandon their beliefs has ensued. I’m not going to link to it this time, it’s too ridiculous and it’s easy to look up. The ‘hate groups’ that are referred to by the way are Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army, so there’s that. Without heading down a huge rabbit hole (or shall I say chicken), I want to use this as a little jumping off point to talk about this marvelous paragraph in 1 Peter about how we believers are to deal with the haters.

It’s a story as old as humanity itself, Peter is addressing his letter to Christians who are suffering persecution and rejection because of their obedience to Christ. Their contemporaries are shocked and a little insulted that these folks don’t still choose to run with them in the same sinful circles (4:4) as they once did. Peter urges patience and humility in the face of unjust persecution.

So he begins by asking the question, “who is going to harm you for being a follower of what is good?” The answer is clearly those who aren’t following what is good. Misery loves company… sin loves company… and when you choose not to walk in it or celebrate it, you become a natural target. The Chick- Fil -A debacle was a manufactured outrage from the beginning, a lose-lose battle for anyone holding Christian beliefs. As painful as it is, being a follower of what is good automatically makes you a target.

Peter goes on to say that even when we suffer for what is right, we will be blessed. The enemy will do everything in his power to get us to jump ship or join forces with the other side. The media is in an all out war against a chicken restaurant for heavens sakes, the likes of which you simply do not see with any other company. God says be blessed in the midst of it. Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays and still does better than McDonalds and Starbucks franchises combined. Obviously, something is working. We think we need to do things the world’s way to keep up and it just isn’t true. Honor God, honor His ways, and be blessed by being different.

The last few sentences Peter writes are powerful. “Be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” Now honestly, how often is this happening? Do people see a hope in us that makes them genuinely want what we have? Or are we too busy fortifying our own little walls to keep everyone out? Peter is telling us we need to be shining examples of HOPE in a world gone totally bonkers. How do we do that? “With meekness and fear…” Meekness and humility are almost entirely extinct traits in our society. What if we could be settled in our beliefs, but still humble enough to want to share them with others? What if we could stand our ground against this anti-Biblical agenda that wants to erase truth, but do it in a way that our conscience is clear before God? That’s the ‘fear’ part right there…we have to fear God more than men. Chick-Fil-A, as a company, is doing exactly what we all need to be doing on a personal level.

“They think it strange that you do not run with them…” (4:4)

Let them. We have to be ok with this. Biblical love is sharing the hope and truth that is in us with others. It is not nodding and agreeing with sin so that people will like us. Peter and the early church faced persecution and so will we, and friends, Chick-Fil-A is the tip of the iceberg. I use it as an encouraging example to be true to God, serve Him, serve others, and let the haters dig their own proverbial graves.

Whats that silly internet meme? “Ain’t nobody got time for this?” That’s the truth.

Are people mad that you still haven’t caved to their demands that you embrace the world? It’s ok.

Are folks offended that you continue to believe what Jesus said even though their own modern-day analysis says you are a fool? Super.

We need not be afraid of suffering for what is right. Not ever.

Draw people with the hope that is in you, and do it with meekness and fear. The gospel has a beautiful way of proving itself true time and time again.

On Colleges and Keeping Up

Hustle is an idol if it leads you to cut ethical corners in order to stand out in a competitive world. Katelyn Beaty

I for one am completely fascinated by this past weeks crazy college recruiting scandal. The well-oiled machine that is our national media never misses a beat. I’ve been trying to understand why it has affected me so, and I think it’s largely because it simply hits me in a vulnerable spot: the kids.

I talked with my boys about the antics of these unhinged parents and what could be the driving force behind all this. The irony of it all was of course further compounded by the fact that one of them is a seemingly squeaky clean Hallmark darling whose entire career is based on portraying wholesome characters. You just never know.

I’m acutely aware of the dilemmas and difficulties of raising teens in a culture that wants to undo every value and belief we hold dear. We struggle on a regular basis with boundaries, ethics, identity and truth. The comparison game is strong. Everyone is living in a bona fide pressure cooker that could blow at any moment if we don’t properly let some of the steam out.

We came to a conclusion that much of it has to do with daily, gray-area choices we all make. One compromise leads to another. Pride, when fed and encouraged is almost impossible to tame.

Do I brag about this success or stay humble?

Do I cut corners here if nobody will ever know?

Should I turn a blind eye to something I’ve seen that I know is wrong?

One of our biggest struggles has been the old “well everyone else is doing it, we need to keep up” excuse. I call it the Lance Armstrong defense. You have to do certain things just to even the playing field, or else you’re going to be left in the dust.

Before you know it, you’re photoshopping their face on some other kid’s body and bribing the ACT test-giver.

It’s easy to poke fun at this crowd. I’ve read up on the other non-celebrity parents, and quite honestly, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for them. I do understand, as we all do, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate to be somebody in a world where there are already so many somebody’s.

It’s quite literally the oldest story in the book. Satan tempted Adam and Eve into believing they could have fulfillment outside of God. He convinced Eve that she could acquire something better and elevate herself to a new level of importance.

This whole thing is a losing game. The ends do not justify the unethical means it takes to get there. What is their end game anyway? To bounce from one material success to another, never slipping, never letting anyone see what you’ve sacrificed to get there? I’ll pass.

This is why we reject the hustle, the self-help nonsense and the even (I’m sorry to say) the Christian cool kids who are taking us further into the grey fog of compromise. I’ll be the first to admit, swimming upstream in a downstream world is not easy or even enjoyable at times. But sin always, always ends up costing us more than it can ever give us. The obsession with worldly image is taking perfectly kind and rational people down a path that will destroy them. I used to try and shield my kids from defeat, but now when it happens I don’t necessarily shun it. There’s big things to be learned through disappointment. It’s the same disappointment though that can drive us to make foolish decisions. I loosely joke with them and ask “Would you be the Tim Tebow or the Lance Armstrong?”

I’d like to think Jesus would come down and personally smack me upside my head if I ever stooped to something so low, but let’s be honest here… we are all just one selfish, insecure decision away from doing something really dumb. We are not above our teens any more than they are above us, and we all need the same thing:

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage… for you brethren, have been called to liberty… but God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 5:1, 13,/6:14

Friends, we don’t have to live on the hamster wheel. It’s hard to be in the minority, but it’s actually also a great honor. The world is destined to be deceived, they are bent on it. Let’s remember we don’t have to claw our way up the totem pole or prove our worth. We are worthy and loved already, our kids are too, whether they wind up at Harvard or living in our basement.