Secular Puritains

“A mob of secular Puritans…” 

I read that phrase this morning in a Wall Street Journal article and it really struck a chord with me. It was a write up on the recent hysteria over the fact that the Vice President’s wife, Karen Pence, works at a Christian school that is… well… Christian.

This past week has been both discouraging and maddening. I’m dumbfounded by the ability our culture has to create chaos at will, out of thin air. Take a big ‘nothing-burger’ as my son would say and drop in some phony accusations, half-truths, innuendos and ‘voila!’… you have yourself a scandal. Let’s all be outraged.

While we were all focused on taking some Catholic kids and a Christian art teacher down a notch, something else happened.

They said it was a big deal and it sure is. Read up on it if you can stomach it. See through the loopholes and the fancy language. This is pretty rich coming from a guy who wants the death penalty off the books. In addition to the unimaginable ‘abortion up until birth’ bit, do you know what else these folks did? They redefined what it means to be a person. A person is now “a human being who has been born and is alive.” In order to keep the industry thriving, you have to sanitize it a bit I suppose. If it’s not an actual person, there’s nothing to feel yucky about. And how special that One World Trade Center was lit up in pink to celebrate. You know who else did this?  Slave owners. Actual Nazis.

The mob of secular Puritans is an impossible group to reason with or fight against because they have no real truth other than what they deem good in the moment. Their false righteousness will embrace you one day and slay you the next. You can be a Christian, but you can’t espouse any beliefs that make you actually act differently than the world. You can fully embrace government programs for children while simultaneously celebrating their murder when they are not convenient. This is a sad and pathetic way to live for sure, but aside from complaining about it, what is a Christian to do? I’m genuinely asking here… I certainly don’t have the answers, but here are some thoughts:

  • While doing all the fact-checks, make sure you do a heart check as well.
    • Facts mean nothing if we can’t present them with some kind of humanity. “…in humility, correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:25)
  • Pay a visit to the issues, but dwell with Jesus.
    • Life still has beauty and worth and God is still good. We can’t be effective disciples if we only surround ourselves with controversy. Shut down the apps, the media, and go hang out with some actual people. “Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things which one may edify another” (Romans 14:19).
  • Remember what’s behind the curtain.
    • The evil can be overwhelming. The battles can seem too much. We don’t need to get tangled up in personal offenses and conflicts that lead to more strife. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

God is still good.

We can walk in the light and expose the darkness at the same time (Ephesians 5:11).

We can be His children in the midst of a crooked generation (Philippians 2:14).

In Biblical times the people would tear their clothes and put ashes on their heads. I thought of that when I saw that building all lit up in celebration. Things aren’t as “nuanced” as they would like us to believe. God is pretty black and white, and He won’t be mocked. In the meantime, keep on keepin on as they say. Love the truth, love your neighbor, and pray for this great country.

 

 

Unhappy Birthday Roe v. Wade!

Yesterday, our country celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy of nonviolent activism. Today, many are celebrating the “birthday” of the Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion on demand. The irony of posting “happy birthday” to Roe v. Wade is lost on many it seems, but I digress. Regardless, we stand at 60 million abortions and counting since the decision 46 years ago.

Planned Parenthood made the rather bold move of equating MLK’s civil rights struggle with the struggle for reproductive “freedom”, a statement that prompted his niece to come out and say that making such claims on his birthday was “inhuman”. They were not alone, however, as story after story posted on mainstream media this week seem to agree:

  • Abortion is about freedom. Freedom to start a family on your own terms.
  • Jesus never mentioned abortion. The Bible never mentions abortion. You can oppose choice, but claiming it’s about Christianity is baseless.
  • Most Americans support reproductive justice and safe access to abortion.
  • Abortion helps ensure that every child is a wanted child.
  • Abortion is normal.

Several articles lament the devastating effects of what happens when women don’t get an abortion. We are told that this sacred right is under attack now more than ever. The New York Times ran a story telling us all to get better prepared and more aggressive, because abortion is still not easy enough for some women. They may have to drive a few hours to a clinic. They may miss the gestation ‘deadline’ in their state be “forced” to go through with their pregnancy. Not to fear, the New York assembly will vote today to legalize abortion up until the time of birth. The Mother Jones article referenced above reminds us that when women are “forced” into having a baby, they just can’t ever catch up financially to their fellow sisters who had access to this most empowering and lifesaving procedure. Un-ironically, they bemoan the devastating effects that will last for generations. They assure the reader that over time, women who have had abortions are just fine… their children however, really pay the price from the get-go and are set up for a life of hardship. Better to never be born than to suffer financial hardship or inconvenience.

Of course, no one speaks of the effects of a culture that makes women feel they have no choice but to choose an abortion. The “me first” society in which anything goes is never to blame. We’ve somehow equated being ’empowered’ with a most un-empowering act and called it freedom. Their tagline is “on demand, without apology.” 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said recently that anyone who disagrees that there is a right to abortion is “not in line with where we are as a society.” 

I realize this is a topic that stretches far and wide with lasting consequences on both sides. Those staggering numbers are people’s actual lives, and as much as those parade signs implore me to be loud and proud about my body and my choice… I sink low with the heaviness of how we have created a culture so detached and so numb to anything outside ourselves and our immediate wants. I don’t sit up on a pedestal and judge women who have been through this. I ache for them to know the forgiveness and healing that only Jesus can give. But we have to surrender the empty propaganda and accept the truth of what this is really about.

The “shout your abortion” crowd calls their movement a triumph. Collectively, I think we know better than to go that far. The sacrifice they make to avoid a temporary or permanent change in lifestyle is a heavy one. Many do not regret it. Some do.

Forty-one years ago, a young woman carried me for nine months and then parted ways with me. Was it inconvenient? Yes. Was it humiliating, embarrassing and confusing? Yes. Was there a bigger picture for her to think about? Yes.

Time doesn’t make it go away. That beautiful woman still struggles. I have my little moments where the trauma rears its ugly head. When all is said and done, is she any more traumatized than the woman who chose an abortion all those years ago? I think not. As an adoptee, the lens through which I see all this is admittedly colored. But the excuses just don’t sit well with me. The frequency and ease with which this is happening should be distressing to everyone. Our self-centeredness is leading us to self-destruct.

So when a guy like Justin Trudeau has the nerve to preach to people like me with the weak argument that I’m wrong because I’m not marching lockstep with the rest of society, I take it as a compliment. History is littered with the masses making utterly tragic decisions thinking there is safety in numbers.

I realize that without a Biblical worldview, my arguments are useless. Sin wreaks havoc on the human condition, and a person without Christ can easily normalize sin. Abortion is never normal and it never will be. If our biggest fear is that we don’t have enough access to it, we need to re-examine why it is we are so thirsty for it in the first place.

The greatest human stories come from struggle. I am forever grateful that the woman who couldn’t take care of me at least had the conviction to see things through. I would argue that many women who were afraid of the consequences of having a baby have faced equally devastating consequences by not having one. Regardless, let us please instill the truth in our children and ourselves that life is never disposable. May we understand and accept that sin has consequences, but Jesus forgives and frees. He is able to take the mess we’ve created and make something good out of it. My entire life is a testimony to that truth, and if it changes just one person’s mind, if it leads just one person to the foot of the cross… it will be well worth it.

So un-happy birthday Roe v. Wade… you may be legal and even loved, but I will keep speaking up and speaking out against your disastrous consequences until you are no longer so high on that altar.

Boys Will Be Boys… If We Let Them

“The warrior must learn to yield his heart to nothing. Not to kill his heart for fear of falling into temptation, but to protect his heart for nobler things, to keep the integrity of his heart as a great reservoir of passionate strength and holy desire.” John Eldredge

Because I am on that crazy Twitter thing, I get a front row seat to the latest cultural outrages and moral lessons du jour we all are supposed to be having big opinions about. The latest brouhaha being the Gillette razor company and their new ad challenging men to confront their innately barbaric behaviors and act more civil. Depending on your personal views, it’s either touching or pandering propaganda. Regardless, for some reason it’s going down as one of the most ‘disliked’ ads in internet history. In an interview, the president of the company said,

“By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior, and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best,’ we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”

It sounds nice and good on the surface I suppose. Lots of buzzy buzzwords, but it’s not horrible. Everyone should at least aim to not be a jerk to others in life, right? A new generation y’all… working toward their personal best, whatever that may be. We are holding each other accountable for what, exactly? The criminal behavior of some? Or just behavior we deem unsavory and disagreeable? Who decides what everyone’s personal best should be? 

Some in the Twitter-verse called this ad “breathtaking and necessary”, jumping on the idea that toxic masculinity has ruined basically everything, and a new kind of modern masculinity needs to take it’s place. Others say the condescension is just too much… imagine a shampoo commercial asking women to rise above their innate manipulative cattiness… I don’t see that succeeding in the same way. See the problem? It’s not that anyone is actually threatened by a silly razor commercial, or even against the idea of respecting one another… it’s the continual, relentless message to men and boys that something is inherently wrong with them because they are male, and the one-sided argument that they (never women) contribute to a toxic kind of society. The Dove commercial parades women of all shapes and sizes around and tells us “you’re fine just how you are!”, while the message to the guys is, “men, you have some work to do.”

As a mom of two boys, it is definitely NOT my goal to raise hyper-aggressive, emotionless man-bullies. My basic dream in life is that they grow up to be godly men of character, integrity and morals. I just don’t believe in neutralizing or stifling what makes them who they are and replacing it with something completely unnatural.

Men are born warriors. Whether we like it or not, whether it offends us or not, they have innate drives in them to protect, to compete and well… be different than us women. Just last night my teenage son “accidentally” kicked his foot through a wall in our game room because he lost a ping-pong game to his little brother. A foot through a wall you guys. My first words were, “Whyyyyyy would you do that?!” My brain can’t comprehend it. Of course I don’t want ragey, angry boys parading through the house punching things when they don’t get their way… but I know that sometimes boys will be boys. (The Gillette commercial says I can’t use that phrase to excuse terrible behavior, but I’m using it.) There is biological stuff happening here, and if women can use the hormone argument, so can growing boys. It doesn’t mean it’s excused or that there isn’t a consequence – he’s going to pay up for the new drywall, I assure you. It doesn’t mean my kid is a neanderthal either. No, a girl would probably not kick a hole in a wall over a ping-pong game, but you know what? My boys would never spread gossipy rumors about people the way some girls at school do on a daily basis. Pick your poison, because it goes both ways. Masculinity run amuck is indeed harmful, and so is its feminine counterpart.

Just last week, The American Psychological Association  came out with what they say are very well-researched ‘guidelines’ regarding what they think makes a healthy man. Being adventurous, taking risks, stoicism and competitiveness are out. It’s scientifically acceptable for a man to want to become a woman, but abnormal for a man to pursue the innate drives that make him an actual man. What garbage. 

So, to the John Eldredge quote and why I am addressing this topic: we can’t kill our hearts just because we don’t know how to completely control them. Yes, we humans have a terrible knack for veering off course with our God-given abilities and drives… but if we would yield to our Creator and His purposes… if we would channel all that passion into a great reservoir of holy desire as he calls it… wow. A change of heart, not a change in gender roles, makes men and women Godly and effective. Trying to squash boys down to fit some new idea of masculinity won’t lead to a better culture. Showing them how to protect their heart for the pursuit of noble and better things though, that makes a man. In fact, it makes us all better in the end because we are being who we were created to be.

Hooray to a razor company for wanting to raise the bar a little in our bottom-feeder culture… but no to thinking that the way to do it is by taking away the very things that make men (and women) who they are. God created us to be different. It’s a shocker, I know. Our hearts don’t need to be tamed, they need to be directed. Full-steam ahead, passionate men and women with a holy desire are a force to be reckoned with.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The Choice To Start

I wrote the other day about how disappointed I felt in myself for not following through with some things I wanted to do last year. The biggest one for me by far was not making the time to sit down and share with my boys things that I felt would be helpful to them in their walk with Christ. There were a few books that really impacted me, books that deal with this crazy upside down culture and our role as Jesus-followers in it. If you have kids, you know the feeling: I want them to get this! I want them to understand this! If they can just see through all this nonsense to the truth… maybe they won’t fall for the lies… maybe they will be different…

I spend a lot of time floundering around in the sad reality that we live in a world that is basically amusing itself to death, sacrificing everything meaningful for superficial ‘likes’ and virtual approval from total strangers. This isn’t the world I grew up in and it’s hard for me to relate to how deeply this affects them sometimes. The things I struggled with seem like small potatoes compared to what my kids have already seen first-hand. You Tube influencers confound me. Idol-worship of people so completely in love with themselves makes me cringe. The absence of the ability to think for themselves scares me. G.K. Chesterton said, “We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with news that the grass is green.” We are there, and sometimes I feel like an eighty year old grandmother who can’t adjust to the times. The reality though, is that I am a Jesus-follower and a parent who is charged with discipling two young men in a world turned inside-out. The reality is that God never changes, even when culture does. The truth is, in the past I have let it overwhelm me to the point of inaction. It’s so much easier to just cruise on through the days, dealing with things as they come, but never really being intentional about getting to the heart of it all. What’s that old saying? “The days are long but the years are short.” It’s true. Suddenly I have a high schooler. In a moment he will be out on his own. A minute after that, his brother will follow. What do I want them to hear from me before they go? We spend our time doing the best we can, telling them what not to do, lecturing them on the dangers that lurk behind every corner, but are we giving them something to actually live for?

Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.”  We have to have a vision from God, something positive and promising to go after, if we are going to really live. Without it, we just run wild without any direction or intent. This explains why “good” kids do really dumb things. Adults too, for that matter.

So this morning, I decided to just get going. I sat down and began a little folder for each of my boys. I don’t really have a well thought out plan, and that’s ok. The problem I encountered last year is that I had so much I wanted to share, I didn’t share anything. I couldn’t organize my thoughts, so I did nothing. Today, I started with this verse and a C.S. Lewis essay called “Men Without Chests” about how head knowledge is no match for the unbridled passions in our belly that override our reason. We need a chest to help the head rule the belly. Strong men know how to keep the fire in the belly from burning down the house. Seemed like something good for young men to hear. I crudely typed out some thoughts, printed them out and stuck it in a folder for each of them. I boldly asked for 20 minutes of their time, which in a world where online games rule the day, is a bigger deal than it may seem. We started. They were mildly interested, and that’s ok. I hope we can build on it.

We put too much pressure on getting things just right before we start anything and we wind up doing nothing. I liken our time today to the first time a person exercises in awhile… kind of a hot mess, but better than nothing. Little moments of faithfulness every day, like exercise or a good daily vitamin, is worth far more than sporadic moments here and there. I have a vision based on God’s promises and that gives me hope that we can grow together in His wisdom. It’s never too late. There will be eye rolls along the way to be sure, there will be dramatic whining and bad attitudes at times, and that’s ok. It won’t be perfect, but with time and faithfulness, I hope that they can have a prophetic vision all their own to keep chasing after.

My Life is CAVU

Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited.

“CAVU was the kind of weather we Navy pilots wanted when we were to fly off our carrier in the Pacific,” he said. “We had little navigational instrumentation, so we wanted to CAVU, ceiling and visibility unlimited, and because of the five of you whose hugs I can still feel, whose own lives made me so proud, I can confidently tell my guardian angel that my life is CAVU and it will be that way until I die. All because of you.” George H.W. Bush

In a letter to his kids on the eve of the Gulf War, the 41st President of the United States wrote the above to his children. Most of us non-military types are probably unaware of this now-trending acronym, but I was so touched by it I wanted to share it. Bush referred to it often, saying he thought it represented his life. Regardless of storms that may come, with faith and family, we can serve and fulfill our purpose with clear eyes and a ‘full speed ahead’ kind of confidence.

His was probably the last generation that will leave behind an abundance of actual hand-written letters that testify to the trials and triumphs of a life lived for something far bigger than oneself. I am grieved that the era of the Greatest Generation is coming to a close and even more saddened by a culture that has become so obsessed with personal success that the greatest goal one can have is to live for oneself.

We don’t have to agree on politics to see that there was something different about these guys and gals. They could disagree with dignity and they weren’t afraid to fight for what was right. At the end of the day, if people can genuinely speak with fondness of you at your funeral, saying that you loved God and man well, you have succeeded.

Bush 41 spoke about “a thousand points of light” often. He knew and lived out the commandment to be a light to a dark world. The world needs more brave and humble people like this. We need believers who aren’t afraid to be a light, who don’t run to shove their light under a basket when asked to take a stand. I will miss this generation if not for that quality alone. While boldly telling you the truth, they’d give you the shirt off their back.

President Bush was a man who knew what he believed and didn’t back down from it. It didn’t make him mean, it made him genuine. Even in death, he made us all realize once again that we are not here to serve ourselves, but one another. We may not be called to a great world stage as he was, but we are all called to greatness. For the Christian, that means living life CAVU.

Just Go Fishing

“The world seems to have a real genius for being wrong, even the educated world. I can see how a right man might live in a wrong world and not be affected by it except that the world will not let him alone. It wants to educate him. Society, being fluid, usually moves like the wind, going all out in one direction until the novelty wears off. Whatever people happen to be interested in at the moment must be accepted as normal… our highest ambition should be to become integrated to the mass, to lose our moral individuality as a whole.” AW Tozer  Culture

AW Tozer wrote here in this essay of just wanting to go fishing, but the world and its nonsense just wouldn’t leave him alone. I’m sure we all can relate. There are times I walk into a room and my husband is watching the news and I just walk right out… my brain just can’t handle it. It’s like Alice in Wonderland up in here, and everything is topsy-turvy.

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On Nightmares and Disarming Foes

“Whatever foes may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; there are serpents, but their fangs are extracted; there are rivers, but they are bridged or fordable; there are flames, but we wear that matchless garment which renders us invulnerable to fire. The sword that has been forged against us is already blunted; the instruments of war which the enemy is preparing have already lost their point. God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us. Well then, the army may safely march on, and you may go joyously along your journey, for all your enemies are conquered beforehand. What shall you do but march on to take the prey? They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is to divide the spoil. You shall, it is true, often engage in combat; but your fight shall be with a vanquished foe. His head is broken; he may attempt to injure you, but his strength shall not be sufficient for his malicious design. Your victory shall be easy, and your treasure shall be beyond all count.”  Charles Spurgeon

Have you ever woken up from a wickedly vivid dream and thought… yikes! what can that mean?! I had a dream like that last night and was only reminded of it when I read this quote on Instagram this morning (how pleasant when social media is actually helpful). We were in a large house and there was a giant snake on the loose… like, it just kept popping up, falling from the ceiling, slithering all over the place, an absolute nightmare. A whole crowd of people were trying to pin it down and get rid of it, but we just couldn’t. It finally went to bite someone and once it latched on, we realized it didn’t have any fangs and were so relieved that it couldn’t actually harm us. We ended up hacking it to pieces… it was really gross and unpleasant.

I know God speaks through things like this if we will only pay attention. Life is full of little puzzle pieces that fit together like that if we are on the lookout. There’s a song that plays often on the Christian radio called “Fear Is A Liar” and I can’t get it out of my head. The enemy is such a liar. It’s actually quite devastating that we don’t realize it sooner. He whispers junk to us all day long… as we drive, while we work, it’s relentless.

I saw a facebook post for a young teenage girl who said that for her birthday in lieu of gifts,  she’d like everyone to donate money to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, because it’s something she personally deals a lot with.

You guys. It broke my heart. There is no reason people should be in this kind of a state. Not because we don’t have problems. Not because we don’t struggle. I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t support organizations that are meant to help people, I am saying that FEAR IS A LIAR and if we don’t recognize that fact first and foremost, we are simply thrashing around in quicksand with no hope of getting out.

Yes… there are lions and serpents and raging rivers and fiery flames. If only we understood… not just intellectually, but in our very bones, that Christ has indeed already defeated all those things. Satan is in his death throes, he knows his time is limited, and he will do anything to have more company on his way down. Jesus isn’t just waiting for us up in heaven somewhere, He’s here now and offers us life abundantly. 

When we know that fear is a liar, we understand that the beasts have been de-clawed, the sword has no sharp edge, and our armor is fireproof. It makes me heartsick to see teenagers so tangled up in pressures of the world that a pill is their only consolation. The number of adults out here in ‘suburbia-land’ that are numbing themselves with addictions of all kinds is awful. Ignoring our fears won’t make them go away.

I am scared every day for any number of reasons. Sometimes, I wake up in the night with thoughts that will not be hushed.

What if my kids believe the lies? What if this job is a dead end? What will I do when they don’t need me anymore? Did I remember to close the garage door? There’s probably a bear in there right now… 

It’s enough to make a person literally crazy. No wonder everyone is taking a pill and downing a bottle of wine.

What if we lived and made decisions based on the actual truth instead of our fears? What if, instead of short little bursts of inspiration, we stood flat-footed on the solid-rock truth that Jesus actually DID disarm our enemy long ago?

So there’s a snake in the house… he can’t hurt you. Get it out.

So the flames are burning hot and strong? Your armor is fireproof. Walk through it.

So the enemy is pointing a knife at your heart? It’s been blunted. Push it away.

He will try, but everything about him is phony when placed in the light of what Jesus already has done. Yes, there is trouble around every corner, but dear believers, it doesn’t have to paralyze you to the point of inaction. If we spend all our time running from what scares us, how will we every know the joy in chasing after Jesus?

Combat, yes. Battle, it’s certain.

The enemy is defeated, and that makes all the difference.