Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Please Don’t Be A Moron, Judge Others

Dear Children,

To listen to those around us one would think that Jesus’ command to “judge not” was the most important thing He ever said, so important in fact that it supersedes common sense, wisdom, discernment, and most everything else He said. It’s so high up on the importance scale that even the Pharisees agreed with him. They agreed for the same reason that most everyone agrees, Christian or not, because they saw themselves as righteous and didn’t like the idea of anyone challenging that notion. But it wasn’t like the Pharisees didn’t want to reserve the right to judge anyone they chose, rather they just wanted the right to be judged by no one.

The Pharisees were the priests. They were the men of God, the spiritual leaders. It was their job to be righteous and, apparently, they loved their jobs. They would signal their virtue by standing on corners and looking pathetic, and they would pray monotonous prayers out loud so that everyone could see and hear them. They wore long robes and tassels that set them apart from everyone else and they enjoyed sitting in places of honor. And here was this Jesus fellow judging them, threatening to upset their honorable position in the community, and calling them out on their facade.

The Pharisees were also proud, and pride blinds. The Pharisee looked at the publican and thanked God that he wasn’t a sinner like that. Someone looks at the murderer and feels righteous because he’s not like that. The one who says “judge not” looks at the judger and is glad he’s not like that, except this one feels righteous twice. First, because he pretends to not notice the sin in anyone else’s life, and again because he has insulated himself against anyone noticing the sin in his own life. Rather than face the dual realities of his and his fellow Man’s sin he ignores them both and feels more righteous for doing it. Rather than to desire to help his brother with the splinter in his eye his greater desire is to have others ignore the plank in his own eye.

On the surface, Jesus’ command to not judge creates two dichotomies. The first is setting plain good sense against Jesus’ command. The murderer, for example, is not immune to the murderer. When a stranger wearing a hoodie knocks on his door at 3 AM, he’s no more likely to invite him into his home than the stranger knocking on his door would be his, unless, of course, he exercised poor judgment. The second is setting the Bible against itself. Paul actually commands us to judge our brothers in Christ. That leaves us with only two viable options. One is to discard the Bible as untrustworthy because it is self-contradictory and so can’t possibly be the “Word of God.” The other is to read Jesus’ command to not judge in its context.

It’s only reasonable to think that Man doesn’t want to be judged. We can all empathize with each other on this. Jesus agreed. He said that men loved the darkness rather than the light because they didn’t want their deeds to be exposed. Jesus is speaking here of our normal and natural dispositions. It only follows then that the Man who doesn’t want his deeds to be exposed would have an affinity toward the command to not judge, because what is judging if not the act of someone else noticing something that we’d much prefer to not be brought to light? We, like the Pharisees, want to continue in our facade of righteousness with our evil deeds hidden in the dark. We can be proud, like the Pharisees. We can be righteous, like the Pharisees. We can be upstanding members of the community, like the Pharisees.  And we can deceive ourselves into thinking that our sin is hidden from our fellow man’s sight, just like the Pharisees. The only difference then, between the modern-day us and the Pharisees, is that we have made a compact with our fellow man: You don’t judge me and I won’t judge you; I’m okay, you’re okay… okay?

The goal is peace. I can have peace with my fellow man, or I can have peace with God, but I can’t have peace with both. God forces us into a choice. We can create a faux peace with our fellow man through a covenant of proud blindness by agreeing to hide ourselves and each other from God’s law. Or we can find true peace with God through a covenant of grace where God agrees to hide us in the cleft of the rock, His Son.

At the root of the present exaltation of this one command to “judge not” is pride. A man does not suffer well the perception that another might think himself morally superior. And at the same time, a man likes to be thought of as morally superior. He likes to be praised for being a good person, saying good things, and doing good stuff. When he serves the poor he wants those cell-phone cameras rolling. He champions the causes that get him the most praises on Facebook. He sees himself as a good person because he doesn’t judge others and he judges harshly anyone who may betray a hint of judgementalism. Just don’t make a pass at his wife or burn his house down. (1) Jesus, on the other hand, was crucified. He gave up His peace with God and Man on our behalf.

With this disposition, one has a difficult time cutting through all the pride and getting to the point that Jesus was making. To say, “Hey brother, I think that you might have something in your eye” is translated in a world where calling a thing a sin is taboo as, “Hey hypocrite, you’re a rotten human being and I’m not, because I’m righteous and you’re not.” Even to think that something might be a sin, or even to give someone a reason to think that you might have thought it, is not only the same thing as thinking of them as being morally inferior, but it’s also the same thing as thinking yourself as morally superior. And to do such a thing as that, dear children, is an assault on Man’s pride. (2)

There currently exists an entire movement based on fighting back against this sort of “judgmentalism” in the name of pride, and because of pride, this movement has succeeded in hamstringing and confusing many in the Church. Its message is that, even though we commit this particular sin, we are not morally inferior. We are, in fact, proud of or our behavior, and anyone who thinks otherwise can take our place in the dock. Lost in all of this pride are the specks and logs in our eyes along with the chance that they might be removed. We become like the Pharisees and are unaware of the pits all around, and worse than that, we are unaware that we are unaware. We’re not worried about falling into a pit as much we are about falling out of our facade. We seek moral equality by insisting that equality of all morals is itself moral, with the only exception being a suggestion otherwise.

As a Christian, humility ought to reign in our hearts and minds. Assuming the best in others, and realizing the truth in ourselves, ought to make humility the only option available. No man has any reason to be proud. According to Jesus, not one of us is not condemned, and not one of us can do anything about that fact. The only realistic response to our fellow man’s judgment, therefore, ought to be, “You don’t know the half of it.” Pride does nothing to get us closer to the end that Jesus was pointing to of removing logs, specks and everything in between. We’re all inferior before God. Building other believers up ought to be one of the marks of Christianity. Who in God’s name loves his brother and yet is satisfied to see him in sin?

The world, on the other hand, is different. It, by its very nature, suppresses the truth. So it only stands to reason that anything that reminds it of what it is suppressing will become its enemy. The question is raised then, what is this truth that the world is suppressing?

Jesus referred to himself metaphorically as a light, and He said that men hated it. He also said that His followers would be the light of the world and that this world would hate His followers also. That the world suppresses the truth and hates the light go hand in hand in the same way that law and judgment go hand in hand. A person is judged innocent because he has not run afoul of the law. He is guilty, on the other hand, if he has. His innocence or guilt has nothing to do with the judge and everything to do with his action set under the light of the law. It is the law then that exposes our deeds as good or evil.

So to get to the answer to the question concerning what the truth is that this world is so eager to suppress, we should start by asking an altogether different question regarding what it is exactly that determines what is evil.  That question is, “Who writes the law?” Because whoever writes the law is the same entity that gets to determine who and what is righteous or unrighteous. This world would beg to differ. It would claim that law is not capable of making anyone evil or righteous. It will tell you that you cannot legislate righteousness. It would point instead to empathy, personal feelings, not harming each other, what’s best for the community, being non-judgmental and accepting, and to emotions in its appeal to determine how evil is defined. Then it will base its laws on these things. It’s a reality that there’s no getting around. A mother feels that the law should give her a choice on whether her unborn child should live or die, for example. It is impossible for her to empathize with her child, and killing it will definitely cause it harm. So killing preborn children is, according to this appeal, evil and ought to be against the law. But it’s not. God’s law says do not murder and Man’s law says have at it in this case, so God’s law must be suppressed lest it inform us that our deeds are evil. There really isn’t anything new here. Wars are fought over who writes the laws of a land.

But what might be new is the extent to which Christians are now assisting in suppressing the truth. The book of Revelation speaks of “the accuser of the brethren.” One of the accusations that continues day and night is that the Church is judgemental. But what is the Church to do?  It is God’s law that judges this world in the same way that it is Man’s law that judges the Church. It’s not a matter of whether judgments are happening or not, the matter is, on who’s law will the judgments be based? The best course for Christianity then is the same course that it has always been. Ignore the accuser and listen to God. Not the other way around.

The accuser’s promises are lies. The more we listen to him the worse things get. He appeals to our natural desire to re-enter Eden on our own terms. In his Utopian paradise, there won’t be any judging because there won’t be any morality, and there won’t be any morality because there won’t be any supposed law by which to judge. We’ll all have the same amount of booty, the same amount of power, and the same amount of righteousness. It’s warmed over Marxism applied to morality. (3) But getting there is the problem. It will require harsh judgments in the meantime against the inequalities of resources, control, and virtue. It’s the hypocrisy of the Pharisees all over again except that Jesus said of His Pharisees, do as they say, not as they do. With the modern Pharisee, you’d be better advised to do as they do and not as they say when it comes to judging.

As it concerns who it is acceptable in the eyes of modern man for the Pharisee to judge, the church-goer gets special consideration, especially if it’s a conservative church that he goes to. He gets special consideration because he considers God’s law special. And considering God’s law special has the effect of pushing above the surface what this world wants to be pushed under the surface. And it’s trying to hold it under the surface because it doesn’t like the evil that God’s law exposes. When Man’s evil deeds are exposed by the law he feels morally inferior, he feels judged, and at the same time he despises and hates those who have dared to shed the light of the law on the law that is causing these negative vibes.

Most of modern American evangelicalism has succumbed to the accuser. It has set out to prove that we Christians are not, after all, judgemental. To accomplish this goal it had to join forces with this world in its suppression of God’s law. It suppressed it by downplaying it, ignoring it, reinterpreting it or rejecting it outright. It focuses instead on helping the poor, which is the new gospel. The homeless man has usurped the sinner in this gospel because giving resources away to the poor soul in need is so much easier than revealing the spiritual need of the poor soul of a savior from the wrath of God, who judges righteously, and who will judge. Having dispensed with God’s law, and so His wrath, a one-sided God is all that remains, a God who only loves and who never judges, because everyone wants to be loved and nobody wants to be judged. This God doesn’t care how much of a mess living according to Man’s law makes of people’s lives. Jesus is sold as a loving Jesus who doesn’t want anyone to feel judged, or morally inferior, even though He warned often of a final judgment and set the bar for morality far higher than it already was. Christians were as sinful as most of the world all along, but now, not only are we sinful, we have suppressed the law that would have been our schoolmaster that would have taught us how to live, how wonderful mercy and grace are, and how to restrain evil in a rotten world. In short, we have nothing to offer the world except virtue-signaling, hand-outs and a one-sided view of a God who only loves, but has nothing to say about the life we live, nor warns us of the judgment that is to come and how to escape it. We are all, after all, loved as we are. Why change? And even if He did have something to say about sin, we’re not about to tell anybody because we know how it feels to feel morally inferior, and we know that feelings of moral inferiority are not happy feelings.

Dear children, please don’t buy into the God of your zeitgeist. It’s not only okay to judge, but wisdom would dictate that you make proper judgments, starting with yourself. Compassion and love for your fellow Man would also demand it. Simply keep in mind that the goal is not to crush, or to see yourself more highly than you ought to, but rather to help and be helped in the process of sanctification and transformation from the rudiments of your world to a new mind in Christ. I pray for you in your gaining of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. I pray that you would love grace, have compassion, and would represent be courageous in truth.

Your father

Notes:

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1— In the ’90s an arsonist started a big forest-fire that burned down a lot of houses in California. The front page of a USA Today on one particular day had a picture of a woman standing in front of the smoking ruins of her house. Reading the story I learned that the woman had been against the death penalty her whole life, but now she had changed her mind about it because she thought the person who did this deserved to die. I remember thinking that for her, in my admitted judgment of her, the issue of the death penalty must have been about abstracts, and had existed only in a world of ideas. She had more empathy with the murderer than the murdered. That is, after all, why people get the death penalty. They don’t get it for setting forest fires, even if they happen to burn someone’s mansion to the ground, not even if someone’s mom was burned to death in the process. In fact, you’ve got to do something exceedingly rotten in our day to warrant that kind of punishment.

It struck me that this woman was more offended by the loss of her house than she was the horrible deaths of other people’s mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and so on. But the idea of evil had now transformed from the abstract to reality. Having been slapped across the face with a dose of reality she was ready to discard her non-judgmental attitude concerning the murdering of her fellow human beings and was ready to string someone up for causing her house to be burned down. The harsh realities of her existence brought her closer to God’s law and took her further from Man’s in that the reality of evil had come home to roost in her living room, and her living room was no more.

2—More times than I count I’ve made mistakes driving that impacted my fellow drivers. Not always, but still more times than I can count, my fellow drivers have looked at me and shaken their heads like I was the worst sort of moron. But being judged by my fellow drivers is, of course, a two-way street. One way is my propensity to look down on others when they do something that gives me a reason to think they’re stupid. Another is feeling stupid in front of others when I’ve demonstrated that I’m not beyond being moronic myself. When I’m on the receiving end it’s a sort of double hit to my pride: once by my own suspicions that I might actually be a moron, and again by the glares of my fellow man who don’t bother to even suspect.

We find ourselves on both sides of this coin at different times. We know what we think of others and when we suspect that they’re thinking the same of us we are highly offended, and our pride bursts forth. But Jesus said to judge not lest you be judged in the same manner. I’ve always thought that our judgment of others has a way of coming back to haunt us in our own heads. When we judge others harshly, we assume that others are judging us in the same way. When we think someone is a moron for paying that much for a particular car, we fear others might think the same about us when we buy a car, so we make sure to not tell anyone what we paid for it… unless we’re sure we got a steal of a deal; in that case we brag about it and the guy who sold it to us makes sure not to tell anyone what he sold it for.

Rather than my perception of another’s reactions to my failures being a mirror image of my potential reaction to theirs, I believe that Jesus is teaching us here that it is their failures that ought to be a reflection of my own. When you see someone else fail, your first question ought to be, how do I fail in the same way? This is taking the log out of your own eye, giving you empathy with your fellow sinner, and helping you to help him out of his sin, and perhaps vice versa. It is for this reason that I believe that those who are prone to feeling judged have a bad habit of being judgmental. But I am prone to judging also, so I understand their plight and desire only to help them grow out of their constant feelings of others judging them in the same manner that they judge others, and into the reality that, in Christ, we don’t have to live that way. Grace gives us the ability to beat the accuser to the punch and agree with him before he accuses, whether the accuser be the devil, or our fellow man speaking in his stead. Paul said that he was the worst of sinners, and I tell you the same thing about me. I know who I am better than anyone else ever could, and I’m telling you that if one hour of my thought life was broadcast for all to hear it would remove any doubt in anyone’s mind about my being a chief. This has allowed me to not ever feel judged, which is not to say that I don’t think people notice when I’m being a rotten human being or a moron, or that when they notice, that they’re experiencing feelings of moral superiority, or that they think I’m morally inferior. On the latter, I can only assume they’re right anyway, at least at the moment. By faith in Jesus, I feel as though I am no longer under condemnation by God, whose judgment is all that matters anyway, and which has already been passed, and which has already been paid for. If anyone else judges me my response to them in my heart is, you have no idea how rotten I really am.

3—We were watching Mission Impossible the other night and I heard Rollin Hand indignantly ask a prison warden, “You’re still flogging? In this day and age?” The scriptwriters based these lines on the premise that progress is constantly moving us forward toward a better world, that morality is in a constant state of change, and that that change is always for the better. Similarly, I had a co-worker once going on about how evil our CEO was because he didn’t pay all his employees what they thought they deserved. I mentioned in response that at least he wasn’t putting us into chambers and gassing us. Realizing that I was referring to Hitler, she was incensed and insisted that humanity had evolved since then. I can remember thinking that that was a lot of evolution for only a half-century, and if that was actually true, she shouldn’t have to wait all that long for her raise.

This mindset goes by the name of progressivism. As odd as it may sound, this view is based on Darwin’s view of Man’s origins. It takes the evolutionary model and applies it to morality and civil society. It sees morality as not being based on anything absolute but rather on evolving mores. On matters of importance, for another example, no president ever says things off the cuff. (…at least not before 2016. More evolution?)  So when then president Obama informed the nation that he was changing his mind on a position that he had supposedly previously held, he framed it in evolutionary terms. His statement to the nation was that his view on so-called homosexual marriage had “evolved.” By giving us the theory of biological evolution Darwin gave us much more than an alternative to God and especially His law. He has also given Man a rubric by which he can view himself and morality in the context of time and change.

In addition to Darwin, Karl Marx’s economic views were also borrowed and applied to morality. This application is what you might call cultural-marxism. Marx had a huge problem with wealth disparity and sought to get rid of it by forcing all people to have the same amount of material stuff. His motto was, “From each according to his ability. To each according to his need.” As it turned out the “to each” was not a problem. It was the “from each” that became the sticking point. So an all-powerful government was created as a means to accomplish the taking “from each” that had and redistributing it “to each” that had not. The big government was successful in solving the “from each” problem but then the “to each” became the new problem because now that the big government had taken “from each,” it needed to give “to each,” and giving “to each” had become a thing that it had evolved in opinion on. So after the “revolution” and “resistance,”  the poor citizens were still broke and the people’s fabulously-well-to-do “servants” were not.

To understand cultural Marxism, just insert morality into his narrative in place of wealth. Out the other end will come multi-culturalism, political correctness, so-called diversity, inclusion and yes, non-judgmentalism, all of which are based on the idea that morality is relative to the individual and as such is equal. No one’s morality is supposed to be better than another’s and no culture is supposed to be better than another, and the emperor’s clothes are supposed to be invisible, and you dare not differ in opinion on the matters. To make it all happen, and to progress us toward our for-sure coming Utopia, an all-powerful government, of course, must be enlisted to force everyone into compliance with this new equality of morals. I’m fairly certain that you’ll see people put into prison during your lifetime for persisting that all morality is actually not equal. Now, if you find it odd that amorality would require a big government to enforce, you will actually be one of the few who does. You can thank the government’s schoolhouse that you are one of those few, and homeschooling that you’re not one of the many.

 

 

 

 

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The Evil Of Thoughtlessness

Dear children,

Some years ago I called a talk-radio station and asked the host what right America had to attack Germany and kill Germans? My question was based on a belief he had that no nation, religion or person had a right to impose their or his moral views on another. Not that I agreed with the premise of my question, I had simply based it on his assertions. Personally, I’m glad the allies killed Germans. I, like many–though a shrinking number–of others, understand that there is such a thing as evil, that the restraint of it that law accomplishes is necessarily an imposition of morality, that it exists regardless of whether or not I agree with its evilness, that it exists independent of my definition or awareness of it, and that it is just as capable of indwelling me as it is a German under the false assumption that it’s not evil at all but good. But this host was talking out of both sides of his mouth. He was against moral absolutes on the one hand and accusing President Bush of being the next Hitler on the other. But accusing Bush of being the next Hitler was just a typical smokescreen to hide what he was really saying, which was that Bush was wrong because he, like Hitler, was violating the host’s own personal preferences.

So I put in a call thinking that I might hold his contradictory positions up to the light of each other and see how they fared. That there are insurmountable challenges in defending the notion that it’s wrong to judge someone based on one’s own personal morality while at the same time judging someone based on one’s own personal morality seemed to occur to the host shortly after he took my call, and just before he hung up on me.

There is a thing called Godwin’s law that says the longer a discussion goes on the more likely it will be that someone or some action will be compared to Hitler. I have long held that Adolf Hitler has ceased to be just another of those typical intersections in history where the path of a human being especially industrious in the arts of rottenness happened to cross the path of power. What sets him apart in this day from the other monsters of his time is that his name is recognizable in a world where precious few are interested in knowing anything about history beyond what the rich, beautiful, girl-clan, pop-culture icon did last week. Hitler’s name is recognizable when his mid-century, monster contemporaries, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, and Pol Pot are not.

Your own contemporaries know who Adolf Hitler for the same reason that they know who the pop-culture icon-girls are. It’s the effect of the moving picture overlain with emotional music that is the motion picture, or television, or in its rawer form, the Youtube video. One could learn about Pol Pot if he had a mind to, but he’d have to endure the drudgery of thinking that reading about him would require. Or, instead, by one click he could sit back and let the various forms of motion media feed him Hitler. But watching and feeling doesn’t hold a candle to reading and thinking when it comes to growing your wisdom, understanding, and intellect. The word, Hitler, is no longer a name as much as it is a replacement for the word evil which moral relativism has destroyed. It is a name otherwise shrouded in ignorance. The context of his rise to power, the philosophies that paved the way for it, and the thoughtlessness upon which it was carried along by the masses are largely absent from the word Hitler. This is a testament to the power of the medium of the motion picture with emotional music, which is not, by the way, a medium made for the age in which you live but the age in which you live was made from the medium. Your only escape from playing your own dutiful part in propagating evil is to be conscious of evil’s existence, not so much in others where it’s easiest to spot, but in yourself where you have prepared a place for it to set up housekeeping unharassed.

After being sent packing from the radio show I changed stations. But I did go back later for a quick listen. They were still talking about me and were referring to me as the Hitlerite. Why? Because I was evil, and the word Hitler was the only means they had of conveying their emotions on the matter without having to commit the sin of imposing their own subjective moraity on me.

In 1962 The New Yorker magazine sent Hannah Arendt, herself a refugee who escaped Hitler’s Germany, to Jerusalem to report on Adolf Eichmann’s crimes-against-humanity trial. Eichmann was one of Hitler’s concentration camp administrators who had escaped to Argentina after the war and was there found and brought to Israel. Her report was titled, Eichmann in Jerusalem, A report on the banality of evil, a title that would start a firestorm in the media with her at the center. Her crime? Her description of a man who had perpetrated untold evil in none-evil terms. We like our monsters ugly, noticeable and disparate from the norm. In short, we like them to be not-us, and more specifically, not-me, and if anyone, even a German Jew who herself had to flee Nazi Germany tries to tell us different, then she must be a monster too.

But Arendt, like many others who were confronted with the reality that Hitler’s monsters didn’t act like monsters, nor did they look like monsters, was not only confounded, she was honest with herself about it. These monsters were mere human beings who had every appearance, in a setting far removed from the Nazi uniforms and gas-chambers, of being just another average soul. A court-appointed psychiatrist who examined Eichmann likewise found him to be a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I [was] after examining him.” Those who looked evil eye to eye didn’t see evil, what they saw was a human, and it terrified them, and it should have.

Arendt, for her part, saw past the monsterness of his actions and indicted him on a more fundamental and portentous crime. She didn’t see his greatest offense being the mass-murder of Jews as much as she saw it as his utter thoughtlessness on the matter:

…in his final statement to the court he spoke of the “revaluation of values prescribed by the [Nazi] government.” He was not stupid. It was sheer thoughtlessness–something by no means identical with stupidity–that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of that period.

The challenge that humanity faces is not so much the thwarting of the evil that it detects but detecting it. And it is not so much humanity detecting evil in humanity as it is the human detecting it in the mirror. And the human can’t detect it in the mirror unless he has, in the first place, a clue as to what he’s looking for and in the second, the honesty to see it where he would least expect to, and where he is most predisposed not to. And to do all of this he needs a definition made of words that mean things and which describe a standard that transcends the self, the place, and the time. Evil needs to be definable with words that cut inward as well as outward. In short, it needs a definition based on objective absolutes which are more often than not at odds with inner feelings.

To Ferret out evil requires thoughtfulness which leads to examination and inquiry, not only outwardly into those we have painted as monsters, but also inwardly into the one we have painted as a saint. When we assume the best concerning ourselves, and the worst concerning our monsters, we are ripe for the plucking. And the reflexive act of our repulsion at the very notion that evil is not a problem on the outside of humanity seeking entrance but rather that it lurks within our own hearts seeking enterprise, affirms that we are in no position to detect it, much less thwart it.

Throwing the word Hitler around like it’s the final say on a matter is lazy, careless, and reckless. It is the fallback philosophy of slackers and ne’er-do-wells built on nothing less then than epic self-righteousness that just assumes, based on an unreasonable and inflated view of the self, that we’re too good to be evil. Hindsight is mistaken for righteousness while the evils of the present abound all around. Our descendants will laugh at our self-righteousness louder than we laughed at our ancestor’s evil because, if they are thoughtful, they’ll know that there was never an ounce of difference.

Thoughtfulness is the starting point for fighting one’s way clear of the tyranny of the normal, the present, the assumptions, the peers, the prejudices, and the emotions. Thoughtfulness considers an argument and is compelled to refute it, explore other options, or to be persuaded. Thoughtlessness contrarily dismisses an argument with an accusation that the one making it morally flawed a racist, or homophobic, or any number of other names chosen from an ever-growing list. A woman will walk into a clinic to have her unborn baby put to death and be satisfied, like Eichmann, that her actions were moral because they were legal and then she’ll judge as evil anyone who says that she murdered her child. Thoughtlessness never even considers the possibility that evil might reside within the self. Emotions won’t let it. And not being able to see the evil that resides within forces one to look for it out there somewhere, like in the Jews if you were Eichmann, or the capitalists if you were Pol Pot.

In the age in which you will be living, if you are a thoughtful person, if you ask questions, if you seek answers, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself, and if you’re willing to, as they say, call a spade a spade, you will be dismissed by the thoughtless among you with a label that was fed to them by a thoughtless culture. It’s a self-defense mechanism designed to allow the name caller to acquit himself while indicting you. Evil will shout down everything contrary while providing a warm and cozy place for itself to incubate. It will counter a thoughtful, well-reasoned argument with a mind-numb chant. It will enlist the magistrate to outlaw opposing views in the name of freedom. It will enlist the court to decree what the majority rejects and declare it democracy in action, and it will actually believe its declaration. In short, evil will be thoughtless. Don’t you be.

Your father

Binary Thinking

Dear children,

The urban dictionary — a “dictionary” that defines idioms and phrases that are particular to our age and place — says that binary thinking is considered to be, “unintelligent and unimaginative.” I was once having a discussion once with a fellow worker who defended the courts ruling to starve a poor woman named Terri Schiavo to death because she was in a vegetative state. Because I was against this barbaric thing won me the judgment that I saw the world in black-white terms. I reckoned that he missed-judged me a little. I understand that some things are gray. I also understand that the grayness is due to our ignorance of a black and white reality, and such is no place to find cover for our actions. The idea that an area is considered to be gray gave me no consolation in the fact that we’re all happy to starve a defenseless soul to death simply because she was a defenseless soul. How gray does murder have to be painted for any one individual to make peace with it and call it good and righteous?

Those who control what we see on lighted screens don’t like the fact that they live in a binary world so they pretend it doesn’t exist and set about creating a new reality. This is done through a two-pronged approach. First, all the lighted screens you look at will present a world to you that pretends that the world that they wish existed always has since the beginning of time, and second, anyone with a memory is lampooned and accused of being short on brains and morality. The new morality molders will yell like a Baptist preacher that there is no real right and wrong, nor boys and girls either for that matter, but instead there are only shades of gray, and that we, as evolved pond-scum, can’t really know the difference.

Solomon told us that there is nothing new under the sun, and I’m sure that there’s nothing new about this either. Jesus said that men hated the light because it exposed their evil deeds, so this is just another way of dousing the light, preferring instead to live in a gray world where, not only are our evil deeds hidden, men can make up their own good and evil and then shine their own lighted screens all over it.

Though the goal is a good one according to those who set such goals, that doesn’t really matter very much because to claim that there are shades of gray is to claim that we can wade into evil just enough to keep from getting our belt-buckles blackened by it and still qualify as being a good and decent human being. Such anti-binary thinking, for example, can convince some poor confused soul that his confusion over his gender is not confusion at all but rather a shade of gender gray, and in so doing the convincer can rid himself of the misery of thinking about such things by declaring that the confused soul isn’t in misery at all, and at the same time present himself to the rest of the world as a more righteous human being for having done so. That’s just one example. There are hordes more.

Those who would espouse the sort of emotion-based philosophy on life that undergirds contemporary compassion are vocal about their rejection of binary thinking even though their own so-called philosophy is binary. And if they actually thought about it, or even perhaps evaluated their endeavor enough to see if they should keep endeavoring toward their good end, they’d see that their compassion is not compassion at all but rather evil with a shiny belt buckle. But when you’re starting point is the baseless assumption that you can’t be wrong because you feel so right, then any evidence to the contrary must be ignored. It feels good, for example, to send someone else’s money to help the poor. It feels even better to not judge the poor if they spend it on booze and cable TV.

But the thinking man says, not so fast. It’s one thing to empty your pockets out of compassion for your fellow man. You can do that sort of thing and keep the souls of your shoes as clean as your belt… if you’re so inclined. But it’s another thing altogether to employ another agency, say a big government and its sword, to steal your neighbor’s possessions and give them to the poor while holding tightly to your own, all in the name of compassion of course. Such deeds conveniently obscure evil in the fog of gray and is compassionate only in the heads of the thoughtless. The philosophy of those who are warriors for this brand of compassion is based on emotion and as such is no philosophy at all. It does not love wisdom but rather hates it. It prefers good thoughtless feelings over hard thinking about reality. It has peered out from the comfort of its emotions and has reeled back from what it has seen. It has closed its eyes and mind and all its thinking has been relegated to la la la la … I can’t hear you.

Don’t let this be you. This world is an evil place. It always has been and it always will be. It is smothered by darkness. That is the harsh reality within which you will have to eke out your existence, all the while knowing that you must fight this evil with the knowledge that, not only can you not win but also that you won’t win, at least not in your day. But there are islands of happiness to be found and there’s still beauty to be enjoyed. But the beauty and happiness are in spite of the ugliness and sadness. You establish one in the midst of the other. And here we find one of the many thoughtless contradictions to those who hide in the forts constructed of nothing more than fog-gray emotion. For them, this world is a binary proposition of all or nothing. If there is a man anywhere on the planet to be found without a house to live in, and who is hungry, or who has been slighted in the least by anyone, especially if that one has the ability to understand his existence in certain binary terms, and regardless of the wisdom the poor slighted soul had to willfully forego to arrive at that station, then beauty and happiness is an impossible thing. For self-righteous goodness’ sake, the war-path is the more righteous path to take. And it is that path that paves the way for wading into evil for the good of all. And the deeper they wade, the deeper they need to wade for the good of all because evil does no one any good at all, but only brings more hell on earth to be on the warpath against.

God created us to worship and live for him. He is our cause. And it is the worshipping and living for him that not only defines happiness and beauty, it also creates it. Once we reject God, and his order, we will find another sad and ugly thing to worship and live for. We can’t not do that. So it’s not a matter of if you will serve and worship something, it’s only a matter of if what you serve and worship will bring about good or evil. God gives us himself as a reference point. But man prefers himself as a reference point. And oriented to himself, good is turned on its head so that when Man sets out to do evil, he thinks he’s doing good, and he suppresses his knowledge of this by hiding in his own gray fog.

It is my belief, therefore, that most of the evil in this world is not brought to us by masses of people who are setting it as their goal to bring more evil into the world. I say this knowing that the thoughtful person will be provoked by such a statement. He will have to wonder about all that gory bloodletting as recently as the last century, and consider whether or not those at the top who tugged it along, as well as the complicit masses, realized that their very actions were bringing about evil, or whether they were confident that beyond all that dark gray into which they had set their course could be found some bright white. I would argue that Adolf Hitler, our modern-day supplanter of Satan as a reference point for the very notion of evil, had as his goal a better world. In other words, he was not being evil for evil’s sake, he was being evil for goodness’ sake. And like the modern day warriors for good, he was sure that there was going to be some lighter gray beyond all that black. There would be a new world order, an order in which he would bring about the authority of Fredrick Neitcies’s “superior man,” an order wherein that that same superior man would emerge from the violence to be a benevolent dictator for a thousand years. Why and How? By shaking free from God’s eternal reign in favor of righteous Man’s reign, a near perfect world with perfection being defined by those with the might to decree its definition. In the end and in retrospect, even the most God-hating must admit that it was pure evil, even though, much to their chagrin and denial, they would have been prime candidates to hop on board with the “greater good” had they been alive in that day. As they say, hindsight is 20-20.

Taking a prideful stand against the evils of others who did not have the advantage of seeing their own lives from the perspective of another time and place does not render one righteous enough to discern the whitewashed evils with which one is faced in the present. There are a million ways to be evil, but being good requires a reference point beyond the self. In this way, no one in the present should see himself as morally superior to those who were deceived into carrying the water for evil in the past, and the worst thing we can do is to think that we are morally superior based on other human beings who were immersed in their own day and were being pushed along by the flow of the society around them. Like those who failed in history, we will fail also when we reject the existence of objective truth. Lost people in a lost world will keep stumbling into evil, all the while filled to the brim with self-righteous pride that they are better than the others before them who stumbled into evil. It is bad binary thinking to assume that we are not lost because we are not with those who we think are. We can only not be lost because we know where we are. And the only way to know where we are is to have a reference point that exists outside of ourselves, and by which we can establish our position. Your best bet in going with what is good, therefore, is to go against the flow, to be the underdog, to endure the hatred of the masses if they really knew what you thought on a given matter.

Some want to do evil I suppose, but I would not suppose it’s very many. And I don’t suppose that you have as your aim to be evil. On the contrary, I suppose that you want to do good, both for yourself and others. I suppose you want to carve out a little happiness and beauty during your short lives. Well, to do that, you’ll want to begin by coming to terms with the reality within which you exist which will require the toil of thinking. And as you toil away at exercising your brains you will discover a few truths, such as the fact that humanity is not predisposed to good, and, therefore, when it uses itself as a reference point for good you can bet Hell is on its way.

Second, because humanity is not basically good, evil will be a permanent feature around you, a feature that you must do battle with, but a permanent feature all the same. It’s like death I would reckon. We know we’re going to die one day, yet we live rather than simply declare, what the hell, and get done with it, seeing no point in life because of death. You fight for your own house and life, and in changing your own house and life, you change the neighborhood for true good.

Third, because all things, whether they be individuals, families, churches, municipalities or states, will be laced with evil, they will never be truly pure. But it’s one thing to be laced with evil, and another thing to, for goodness’ sake, reject the good because it is laced with evil and favor instead evil that is whitewashed with good in the fool-hearty attempt to abolish evil. You can cherrypick anything, and see only the evil within, and as such declare it impure and then do your best to destroy it. If you hop on that band-wagon, you’ll not only erase happiness and beauty for yourself, you’ll probably also do a fairly decent job of erasing it for others who are doing their best to claim a little land for the sake of goodness.

Keeping these three realities in view will help you live in reality. It will also allow you to get past the sin of Man and enjoy just a little bit of beauty and happiness during your short stay here.

Your father

On Writing

Dear children,

Like most people, I realize that I am the sum total of a lot of different parts. One of those parts wants more than anything to hang out with you guys. It thinks that that would be the best use of what little time I have. But my other parts get jealous. Another part wants to sit alone in a room and read, and another wants to create something with the hands dangling at the ends of two arms, and still another wants to write out a piece of wisdom for you to enjoy long after all the parts have been gathered and presented to eternity. As you might discern, all of these parts are in constant competition and I, as the agency in charge, must supervise them like a good manager at the Waffle House night shift. But instead of making waffles, my team must make something else entirely. It must make me: husband, father, friend, pilot, provider, protector etc.

The part of me that likes to read has read one and a half of G. K. Chesterton’s books. The half-read one was a novel by the name of, The Man Who Was Thursday, which I found to be boring. .The book I completed was Orthodoxy. It, on the other hand, was quite the challenge. In my opinion, Chesterton’s field of eloquence was in discussing complex ideas and not so much in telling stories. Orthodoxy is a smaller book, as those sorts of books go, but it’s difficult to unpack. Still, I judged that it was worth my while to grapple with every line. And having taken the time to do all that grappling, I also discovered that there could be a sort of art to grappling with Chesterton, and so having developed an entry-level, amateur grappler-of-Chesterton inside of me by the time I had finished, I turned immediately to the beginning to see if I couldn’t make better sense of the first few chapters. I ended up reading the entire thing again. It was, in retrospect, a profitable endeavor.

But having invested the time I did there, I also found another nugget that stood out in that particular book. It was not in the actual writings of Chesterton’s but instead in the forward.  I thought it to be equally as profound as Chesterton’s own writing. The fellow who wrote this forward was an author by trade also I presume. Drawing from my memory, the part that struck me most went something like this: “I learned at some point that Chesterton did not write his books per-se, but that he dictated them to his secretary, and that what he dictated was printed with very little editing.” The writer went on to say: “When I learned this, I was too depressed to write for weeks.”

After reading Chesterton I related with this author’s sentiment, though I was not depressed for weeks. I’m still depressed. The thought that a man could dictate his complex thoughts, and juggle all the ideas that were required to dance around the main idea without resorting to pen and paper gives us insight into the genius of Chesterton. But it doesn’t take the genius of Chesterton to put me in a funk. I can read a no-name blog and fall in love with the way the writer paints his thoughts on my mind using nothing more than the brush of a computer keyboard, and get depressed.

All of this taught me something about a piece of knowledge that I had always deep-down known or suspected, but that I had never dredged up to inspect more closely. That knowledge is this: The evidence that someone is good at something is when they make it look easy when it isn’t. That piece of knowledge was probably kept in the depths for good reason, which is that it is so depressing. What is worse is when, not only do they make it look easy when it’s not, it actually is easier for them. After investing lots of time, energy and effort into a thing only to discover that you’ve only reached the starting point for some other soul is not encouraging, especially when you consider that you don’t have enough years of living left to press on in getting to the starting point of the talented.

So if you ever decide to climb a high, formidable mountain, and you invest effort, frustration, setbacks, tears, anger and time… lots of time, and then you finally pull your chin up just enough to see over the ledge onto that flat place at the top, and you see there a man sitting back having a cup of tea, almost uninterested in the fact that his natural habitat is the very place that you have scrapped and clawed to get to, you will have some clue as to what I feel like writing. I have this to say though, it has been worth it. Had I not experienced it, I would have no appreciation for God’s beauty displayed in his gifts of writing to some. Am I jealous? I’d be lying if I said that at least one of the parts that make up me was not. But in other ways I am blessed. I am convinced that the best of the best has a more difficult time appreciating what comes naturally to him in a particular field than the worst who aspires to be better, or even good, in the same field. And having no appreciation for one’s own talent, which I believe is the norm, is the reason that so many put their talents on a shelf, or forgo investing their time and effort into turning them into something beautiful.

There is a reason that textbooks cost a hundred dollars or more, and that they don’t tend to make a best-sellers list. They are cold, dry, and personalityless, and one must be forced to agree to be gouged in their purchase through motivations having nothing to do with the textbook’s charm as much as with college credit. They bear the beauty of the asphalt on the road that transverses the beautiful scenery of snow-covered mountains. But even that analogy falls short because there is beauty to be found in the talent that it takes to build a decent road on the side of a mountain. Yet, it is not the asphalt that demonstrates the beauty but the engineering upon which the asphalt lays. Textbooks serve only as a function by taking you places with ease that others had to brave the elements, dangers, and doubts to discover. But they are still just ugly asphalt that no one wants to buy and read for the mear joy of it. I say this because of my honest assessment that most of my writing is textbook-style writing. My chin has not even reached the top of the hill upon which sit a host of tea-sipping, no-name bloggers. But at least I can say that I appreciate their efforts, possibly even more than they do.

Orthodoxy could be called a textbook I suppose. It takes you through the mountainous, snow-capped terrain of ideas that resides in the depths of the thinking man’s soul. So we can know that it is possible to make textbooks enjoyable and beautiful, at least for the thoughtful. But it took a lot of talent to do it, and it’s a rare talent at that, and unfortunately, a talent that I don’t possess any more of than textbook writers. But I love trying. It’s one of the things that one of the pieces of me wants to do a lot of, to admire the beauty of the efforts of others and then to try my own hand at the same.

For the talented, I’m sure that a quiet place without distractions tugging at the mind is not a requirement. For me it is. I’m also sure that for the talented time is not an issue. Like Chesterton, they sit down and dictate through their fingers. For me, time is the major ingredient in any of my portraits. The older I get, and the further along I come with this hobby, the more I’m not even willing to try if I don’t have at my disposal this most necessary of ingredients. Along with this, I must be convinced that my efforts have merit. Age brings with it the recognition of the shortness of time. The rich man may blow most of his money on useless and wasteful enterprises and excursions, but after he has exhausted his wealth a little money becomes a lot more than it once was and he aims to make the best of what he has left. Such is time for the aged who managed to get a little wisdom in exchange for the years that were wasted.

All of this rambling is to give you some insight into your father’s relationship with his hobby of writing, which is a love-hate relationship. On the one hand, I can’t write and on the other I can’t not. In time I hope that you will suffer the same fate with reading your father’s ramblings.

Your father

Finding Love

 Dear daughter,

As a young lady, I know that your heart longs for the love of a young man. That is as normal and natural of a thing as could ever be because your God designed you in just that way. Leaving my care and putting yourself in the care of another is the way things are supposed to be.

It’s hard for you to imagine now, I’m sure, that there would ever be a time when living in my house is not your all-encompassing, experiential reference point for life. But, the fact is, your childhood will begin to fade now and your adult life will become the new normal. But have no fear, your childhood will remain with you for the rest of your life, and you will draw on your experiences there to help you understand your pilgrimage into the future. 

I would, however, like to point out something about your childhood that deserves a little thought, which is that much of it was out of our and your control. You really didn’t have a choice when it came to whom your parents would be, or where you would come to live out your childhood, or the gifts and liabilities with which you would be born. And, in many ways, your future life won’t allow for that many choices either. Yes, you will have the choice of whether or not to agree to marry a young man, but once you’ve made that choice the rest becomes life, much of which will simply seem to happen, and which you will have little or no control over. The pastor who married us told us that when we got married it would be like two rivers coming together, after which the rivers would become one. After the rivers become one, that single river must bend and twist between mountains, around rocks, and through the rapids as it makes its way to its final destination. Such will be your life as a married woman, just as it was for you as a child. Many will balk at this, such is Man’s hubris to think of himself as wiser than our Creator. The bottom line is that as far as it is up to you, let wisdom rule in your life. But also be aware that there is much that is not up to you.

I say these things under the heading of “finding love” because when we do find love we experience it in the present. The feelings that we feel are in the now and can they make being married to the worst of a human being seem almost romantic in that moment. They can make you confident that the two of you can deal with anything that comes your way with ease. They can make you willingly blind and cause you to turn away from anything that would threaten your present euphoria. In short, these feelings can be horribly deceptive. They become a valley of sorts which you must pass through, even though they won’t feel anything like a valley at the time. The hope is that the valley will give way to a love that is dependable and deep rather than to regrets. You can be sure of this though, those blissful feelings will ultimately prove to be made of paper and they won’t carry you through the storms.

Some might say that I’m being a dream-killer by telling you these things. But my goal here is to not feed a common deception that we wish were actually true, but rather that you would have realistic expectations in life and marriage. I can promise you that no matter who you marry you will have problems. So it’s not a matter of if you will have a fairytale marriage, but whether or not you and your husband will ultimately be able to bend, teach, learn, forgive, admonish, grow, and love in your marriage. The happy times are easy. Nothing is required of you in those. It’s the hard times that your husband and you must practice for… even now before you’ve even met him. But it’s these hard times that will grow and mature you, and drive your love deep so that it rests on a sure foundation as you are both actively fighting for your marriage.

It’s common in this age to think of love as a feeling, and while I suppose there could be a smidgen of truth to that notion, it’s also true that those feelings are fleeting. For many, as go the feelings so goes the marriage. Divorce is rampant. In your marriage, love will have to be a decision that you both make. You will have to make that decision yourself, and you will also have to be married to a man who understands how to make it. As you meet people in your life who are divorced and who have only rotten things to say about their former spouses, remember, no one forced them into their past marriage. They were most likely led and deceived by their feelings. A life of singleness is much better than a rotten marriage. Never forget that the best divorce is the marriage that never happened.

With all of this in mind, I’ll give you a few brief pointers on finding the love of your life, drawing from a very shallow well I must admit. It’s actually the things that I wish someone had told me when I was your age. 

First, by the longest stretch, is that you should pay no attention to the young man who does not express a deep love for God. He will not be able to love you in the right way if he has not loved God first. Also, as far as this is concerned, don’t be fooled. A young man can be convinced that he loves God because he has fallen for you and the fact that you love God. He will deceive himself first on this matter, and then you, all to get his bride. You should look, therefore, for a history of him loving God before you happened along.

Second, and closely related to the first, is a young man’s willingness to submit to authority. The lover of God will be a lover of His Word, which not only has authority over him but which will place other men in authority over him. The Godly husband will be a man of authority, under authority. And unless your suitor understands humble submission, he cannot understand gracious authority, and this ought to be a trait that you keep your eye peeled for. 

Third, when your ship moves into the fog of “love,” you lose your bearings. First, resist the fog. Look to your friends and parents to see things you cannot, and by all means, trust their words more than your own feelings. Ask for honest input, yes, demand it. You’ll know you’re being lied to if you’re told the young man has no problems for you to contemplate, for that would be impossible.

Fourth, the Bible tells us that we are wasting away. You will grow old, and his and your beauty will fade. There has got to be, therefore, something more than a mere attraction to beauty if your marriage is to be sustained.

Fifth, some may suggest that you take a look at how much money he may have, and determine whether he can afford to be married. I’d rather not so much take that advice because young people, as a rule, don’t have any money. I’d rather talk about work ethic. The working man will be able to take care of you, and you need to be confident that this young man will be able to provide for his family. But not only this, he must not love money so much that he is willing to sacrifice his family because of it. There are at least two ways to do that. One is to put money and status that are earned by work above family. The other is to force you into the workforce with children at home. This is a popular thing to do these days, and also a tragic thing to do. No amount of sheetrock and car brands is worth that sacrifice.

Sixth, you need to know that it can seem way worse than it actually is when you’re young and faced with watching the young man that you consider to be the best thing that has ever happened to you walk away. Always be willing to let that happen. If he wants to leave before marriage, marriage won’t fix him. You need to know that marriage in and of itself is not what holds two people together. Dragging your young prize across the finish line of matrimony is a bad plan. It would be much better to simply endure the heartache. 

When it comes to losing a love, or the seeming inability to find love, it will help if you’ll trust what I’m about to tell you. The most important thing I encourage you to do is to not get discouraged. No person is so great that everyone loves them. This means that even if you were the most lovable and sought-after woman on the planet, there would still be those out there who would not be attracted to you. Knowing this helps you to have understanding when someone doesn’t have feelings for you. Always remember that there are going to be those who will be attracted to you. And by “those” I mean more than one, a lot more actually, even though most of the time it won’t seem like it. I am confident you will meet a young man who will love you. You need to have that same confidence lest you cling to someone simply because they expressed an interest in you. My advice is to live your life, achieve goals, and enjoy the liberty of your singleness. There will be young men who will find you interesting and will approach you, and that takes us back to choices.

Seventh, when you marry a man, remember that you are, to some extent, marrying his family also. You can learn a lot about a person by their family. You can also learn even more about a young man by the friends he keeps. Birds of a feather flock together. looking at your young suitor’s friends can give you an unveiled glimpse into what he’s really like. If you find that you don’t trust or care for his friends, that ought to be a serious red flag.

Eighth, don’t date just to date. There’s no shame in the fact that you are looking for a husband. A woman once told me, upon me telling her that I wanted to get married, that she saw people like that as losers. I didn’t care. I wanted to get married. Dating for fun is a waste of time and can prolong your singleness because you are designed to become one with another person, not to hang out with them when it’s convenient. It will take you down a road that has no destination and will cost you precious time. You can become attached to someone that you could never marry, and there you’ll be, not able to go forward, but too attached to separate. I’ve heard it said about some people, “they had to get married just so they could get a divorce.” Don’t let this be you. 

Remember that we, as humans, are designed to be married. A half-century ago I wouldn’t have had to say this, but now it’s necessary. Man thinks he has found a better way by following his fleshy desires. But all he has really done is given himself over to slavery. Being who you were designed to be is but a piece of the puzzle in living a fulfilled life. Having said this, please don’t misunderstand me. You can be happy and fulfilled without marriage. But you can’t be happy and fulfilled in seeking the drug called affection for the sake of being happy and fulfilled. Singleness is much better than being married to a person who doesn’t Love God, and so cannot love you. It is also better than being married to a man who does love God even, but who is not gentle with you, and who does not Love you like Christ loves His Church.

I do pray for you that you would get everything you dream for. I’ve heard your dreams, and they are good ones. May God give them to you.

Your father

Beyond Eros

Dear son,

I didn’t have very many girlfriends in high school. I met one girl at the skating rink when I was fifteen. Her infatuation with me lasted for a couple of months and then she decided that she liked one of my friends better. Still, I have warm recollections of the feelings I felt when she was my “girlfriend”. It was magical, unlike anything I’d ever felt before.  There was another as well. It lasted for two weeks I think. I had dreams about her for years afterward. She was one of the most beautiful girls I can remember ever knowing, much less being able to call her “girlfriend” for a couple of weeks. I would learn a mere 7 years later that beauty comes much easier for girls at fifteen than twenty-two.

And then there was a relationship with a girl right out of high school.  She was a couple of years older than me and was in college to boot, which was a big deal for me at the time.  But, as it would turn out, it was only a summer fling for her, and a severely broken heart for me, the first one in fact of such magnitude. I still think of her occasionally.

A couple of years later I entered into a relationship that would last more than a few months. It would, in fact, last for a whole year or thereabouts.  I had the same magical feelings that I’d had on those rare occasions before, but this girl didn’t fly away after a few months. She was a sophomore in high school and I was doing time in the Air Force 350 miles away.  I would drive home almost every weekend to be with her as much as I could.

That this relationship lasted a year brings me to the point of this letter. It gave me insight into what follows romantic love, or what some might call infatuation. Although I couldn’t have articulated it then, I now know that life is never static. You are always going somewhere which means that you will ever be in transition and process. No matter what you set your hand and mind to, there is a reason behind it, a goal so to speak, a destination. Your relationships with girls will be no different than mine–or anyone else’s for that matter–as far as that’s concerned, so it would behoove you to understand this truth concerning intersex relationships as best as you can at as early of an age as you can, because if you don’t know where you’re going you certainly won’t know how to get there. That was my challenge in life at the time. I didn’t know where I was going, and worse I didn’t know that I didn’t know. In many ways I still had the mind of a child. There were no tomorrows in my world, there were only the todays to live for. And when “tomorrow” did impose itself into my thinking it brought with it fear and loathing.

Ten years later I would learn from the mother of another girlfriend that I was a “Peter Pan.”  And even though I was too ignorant at the time to understand what that meant, I now know that Peter Pan was a boy who didn’t want to grow up. So I now accept that the mother of the poor girl I was then dating was dead-on accurate in her description of me. Her daughter would pay a high price for not listening to her mother’s advice to move on.

But back to the point of this letter. As it would turn out that first year-long relationship would expose a deficiency in me beyond being a Peter Pan. I was deficient in that I was simply not capable of loving another human being. My experience in that relationship would become the pattern for all my relationships for many years to come. I would begin with a drug-like high of infatuation, then as the novelty wore off I would move on in search of that one girl who would be able to hold my interest. I did this as if I would forever be a young twenty-something-year-old man with millions of years to kill in my search for a non-existent thing. And worse, my unexamined assumptions of myself were so high that I assumed that this perfect, golden-haired girl would have forsaken all other men in her wait for me. Such was my folly.

It’s amazing how we can learn things when we least expect it and even that we can learn things and not even realize that we’ve learned them until years later.  Early in the third decade of my life this happened to me. I had a chance meeting with a fellow slightly older than myself.  He was a friend of my roommate and was also an outwardly devout Christian. I’ll never forget our conversation as he sat on his motorcycle in someone’s front yard–I don’t remember whose–on that warm summer day.  I can’t remember the entire conversation, but, as these sorts of conversations go, I do remember the one part that drove home a particular point. He was telling me about his upcoming wedding and how his father didn’t approve of it. His father thought he should play the field longer, have experiences with different women, sow his oats as we put it back then. But here was the crux of it all; it was the point that would stick with me even to this day. He shook his head with sadness concerning his father’s desires for him and said, “You see, my father is not capable of loving anyone. He’s never been able to do that.”  I didn’t know it then, and I would not know it until I could consider it in retrospect after Jesus filled my own heart, but I was suffering from the same malady.  I could not love anyone; anyone that is except myself.

I also now know that this affliction was not common among many, if not most, of my peers. There were plenty of people then who understood and embraced the thoughts of a tomorrow.  They could look past the flaws in their fellow human beings as well as themselves. The looming chance of a few added midlife pounds on the object of their affection didn’t threaten their concept of happiness and love, nor did the possibility of the responsibility of children. The thoughts that any one person would be, not only the first but the last person that they would know in a biblical sense of that word, was not a bad thing for them, nor was it scary. On the contrary, it was a wonderful thing. The bottom line is that they were capable of loving someone beyond themselves. For me, that this was not the reality of my existence was an important discovery. We can’t attack demons that we don’t even know are there.

Looking back, as that first year-long relationship lasted beyond a few months I grew weary. The “high” that I’d experienced in the beginning wore off and I began to seek a way out in order to search for it elsewhere. Sadly, that would become the pattern for all my future relationships. Such is the life of a Peter Pan. This particular girl would go on to marry a fine young man who had direction and who was able to love her. I’ll never forget the two of them pulling into the gas station where I worked a few years later. I filled his tank with gas and washed his windshield as I peered through the window at the two of them sitting next to each other. It was an awkward moment for me, and perhaps her too, I have no way of knowing. But it served to drive home a point. They were out of high school and moving along with their lives together as a family, and I was, as far as it concerned relationships with women, still a high school boy looking for a girlfriend with no concept in mind as to where such a thing would ultimately lead, or should ultimately lead.

Little did I know throughout those years that I was taking part in what I think was a generational shift. Minds and attitudes toward marriage were changing. Everything was becoming more liberal. The children of the post World War II parents were being raised in prosperity never before experienced by the masses and the advent of television began to play an unforeseen role in influencing those masses. There was birth control which relieved women of the procreation responsibilities that had, until then, been part and parcel to sex. And if that didn’t work, abortion on demand became legal when I was still a child myself. Men and women began to abandon their wives, husbands, and children in increasing numbers. My own father, shortly after that first significant relationship abandoned the wife of his youth and set out to sow those oats he had so yearned to sow.  Love was sex and sex was love, and there was nothing beyond that to be experienced, to be sought or to live for.

As for me, by my early thirties, such a view and understanding of my world had taken me into an abyss of cynicism. I had obeyed the world with diligence. I had done all that it said would make me happy. And yet I was not at all happy. I was miserable. Dating as a thirtysomething was like pretending that those dying embers from the high school bonfire were still ablaze and casting their light onto a romantic evening where everyone was still having a great time. But it was all pretend. There was no direction, no purpose, and everything had become increasingly meaningless. As I aged time was growing short to get to wherever it was that some purpose would have demanded that I go and there was a dread haunting me that I just might hit 40 as a single man. It was then that I met a woman who would change the course of my life for eternity. This woman was not your mother.

At that point in my life, my experience with church people hadn’t been completely positive, to say the least. Little did I know then, but the great apostasy that we are witnessing today was well underway even then. I can remember being out on a boat at the Lake in Nashville with some friends when the conversation turned to deeper issues after I expressed my feelings of meaninglessness. I’ll never forget one of the guys on the boat, who happened to be inebriated and who also happened to be living with his girlfriend at the time, telling me all about how Jesus was the answer. But I wasn’t buying it. His life was just like mine. Hopelessness and despair marked them both. As it turns out this was quite common among church folks in the south.

But there were those who would occasionally cross my path who were sincere in their faith. On one particular day, I would meet one of them at the apartment pool where I lived.  She was an attractive woman about my age who had a strong and assertive will, and who had the grace to endure the expressions of my twisted mind long enough for God to change the very essence of who I was. In a short amount of time, everything changed: my friends, my habits, my words, but most importantly, my desires. The scriptures speak of us being made new.  Jesus spoke of being born again. Paul spoke of our minds being renewed. Whatever the case, I became a new human being, and best of all, I became a human being capable of loving someone else enough to commit the rest of my life to her. One day, right around that time, I walked into a little chapel worship service and down front was a woman.  Her hands were in the air, her head was bowed and she was worshiping her Lord. And, if I didn’t mention it, she was very beautiful.  When I saw her my first thought was, that’s the kind of woman I want to marry. And marry her I did. But in the beginning, she really didn’t want anything to do with me which was just fine with me because for the first time in my life I was experiencing a new sensation, joy.

Your mother and I will celebrate our twentieth anniversary very soon.  It wasn’t that long ago that we watched some videos of ourselves on our honeymoon and there was one thing that struck me about them, and that one thing brings me back to the actual point of this letter. Although I thought I loved your mother when we got married, I didn’t. I was only infatuated as I had been so many times before. As I watched those videos I realized that the “love” I was feeling while we made the videos was at best very shallow, but probably more realistically didn’t qualify as love at all. It could not be compared to the love that I feel for your mother today.

It’s kind of a sad thing, but when you see the word “love” in the Bible it will have been translated from any number of words in the original language, all of which have different meanings. One of the words that it translates into love is “eros”, which is where we get our modern English word “erotic”. It describes our natural and God-given desire for sexual relationships. Don’t ever forget that your desires to “know” a woman is a God-given desire first, and as such, it is a good desire. It can and does involve deep and wonderful feelings, but it’s only one of the kinds of love that God gave you, and by itself is not what will endure. It’s a very fleshy kind of love and indeed I’ve had that kind of love for your mother and still do… very much so.

There is another word that is also translated into “love”, the Greek word, phileo.  We can see this word expressed in other words like philosophy, the love of wisdom, and Philadelphia, the so-called city of brotherly love. We generally think of this love as the love between friends, though I think it embodies much more than that. It ought to also be the love you have for the girl you marry. Here I will admonish you to be careful about the general mindset of the culture in which you live. It places values on the different kinds of love that can mislead. Phileo is considered an acceptable love for you to have for another woman besides your wife. I would strongly disagree with that. As you live your life you will watch your friend’s marriages disintegrate, and not a few of the failures will have begun with benign “friendships”.  Phileo is a powerful love. It can cause one man to die for another. Don’t underestimate it when it comes to women who are not your wife, or men who are not your wife’s husband. Guard your own heart against such affections except with men.

There are two more words translated into love, “storge” and “agape”.  Storge is the kind of love one has for a family member, like your love for me and mine for you. I don’t understand this concept enough to say whether or not you should have this kind of affection for your wife.  I will, however, say this: your relationship with your wife is closely related to the relationship of Jesus to His Church and the Church to Jesus.

And then there is agape. We think of this love as the highest form of love because it is not based on emotion. In a sense, it doesn’t even qualify as love in our carnal minds. We are so used to associating love with self-centeredness and our own feelings that this kind of love can be an alien concept. Yet, it is a love you must be willing to pledge to any girl you ask to marry you. It is a decision that you make. It is wholly cognitive. It is not confluent with your nature but instead defies it. Your will must be subject to it, and not the other way around. And, it is only by the grace of God that you will be able to give it. And also remember that if your family is destroyed due to infidelity, that statistics show that this destruction is a little more likely to come to you by way of your wife. So it is just as important for you as a young man, especially in a culture that sees women as more righteous by virtue of their gender, to make sure your would-be wife understands love in this same way. In short, if she loves God with all of her heart, mind, soul, and strength, and she loves him enough to be obedient to Him by being obedient to you, then I’d say that she can love you for a lifetime.

I once read about two people who were married for a half century. In an interview, they were asked if they had always loved each other. Their answer was no, that love came and went during the fifty years. But this statement makes my point about agape. It was their agape that kept them together. But they didn’t consider it love because it was during those times that they either had no feelings or perhaps even feelings of hatred toward each other. But still, they stuck by their pledge until “loving” feelings returned.  Marriage counselors tell us that most people experience the loss of loving feelings. But they also tell us that if people are willing to stick it out that the feelings return and the love and commitment are even stronger. In this day of disposable marriages, many never learn this. They discard the relationship in hopes of finding that eros feeling again, which they will either figure out is temporary and so seek something deeper, or they will repeat the cycle.

One of the reasons we’re prone to rejecting God’s ordained order is because of the images of his order that have been implanted into our heads by way of the arts which include media. How was it done? In the same way that a tank-top t-shirt has come to be known as a “wife-beater”. In the world’s images,  not yours, we see a man in a white tank-top with a bottle of whiskey in his hand and a woman crying on the floor with a black eye because she refused to “obey” his command. That’s the picture that’s been painted for us of patriarchy. But like most images painted for us by this world, it is also a lie, and it’s a powerful and destructive one to boot, and unfortunately, it’s believed by the majority of the masses. Still, even in light of the current rebellion against God, we as humans are going to generally behave the way God programmed us to behave. Men are going to be the heads of their households and will generally rule over it.

One of the most challenging, one of the most exciting, and one of the riskiest things you will ever do is to take a wife for yourself.  And, I shouldn’t have to say it, but due to the nature of man, the same can be said about any woman who adventures to submit to your authority and leadership by accepting you as her husband.  It is an exciting thing to discover the beauty of a woman. It is an enticing thing to contemplate a sojourn in search of the paradise that she promises. I believe such a paradise exists, yes, but you won’t discover it, nor can you, by following the most vivid and readily available of roadmaps that this world offers in abundance. The cardinal flies and builds nests because that’s what God designed him to do. I can’t imagine him desiring to walk instead and to live in a hole in the ground because somehow he figures that’s the best plan. But we humans think we know better than God, and so implement our own plans. In the same way, your life will be best when you live as God designed you to live. God designed you to rule over your wife and family and he cursed you to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow. He designed your wife to be your helpmeet, and he cursed her to thwart your authority. And as sad as it is, that’s the bottom line, the reality in which you will exist.

My advice to you is to pay attention to how married couples interact even now. Watch as wives, either lovingly submit to their husbands, and revere and respect them, or as they command their husbands around like pets and everything in between.  Reverence, respect, and service are great qualities. Run, don’t walk, from manipulating women, they will guarantee you a life of misery. Keep a keen eye out for such things. Pray for discernment, and ask for help from those who love you. Wisdom is found in the counsel of the wise.

Your father

Don’t Worry About Whether You’ve Put God In A Box, But Rather Whether You’re In His “Box”

Dear Children,

For years I’ve fretted when I’ve heard anyone make the charge that someone is attempting to “put God in a box.” That never sat well with me. It’s one of those problematic things because it’s wrong-headed while at the same time intertwined with some truth. It is possible, for example, to put God in a human box. One way of doing this is by exalting Man while dethroning God. God is turned into what we, as Man, wish he was. We put him into a nice package that is more palatable to our fleshy tastes. To the extent that we do this, we are putting him into a human-sized box. And then when we put him into this box, we accuse anyone who disagrees with our new packaging of wanting to put God in a box themselves. I’ll discuss this in more depth later, but for now, let’s consider the fact that God actually is in a box. Furthermore, He made the box himself.

When we speak of a box, what we’re really talking about are limitations. When we place limitations on God based on our own opinions, for example, it might be truthfully said that we are putting him into a box. But there really are limitations concerning God that we ought to consider, some involving us, and others involving him.

One of the sides of the box within which God actually does exist is, we might say, a moral side. God can’t sin. I’ve heard the claim made that God can do as He likes and it isn’t considered to be sin because He’s God. That’s not what I’m saying at all, and when you hear these sorts of things about Jesus you should consider them as heresy. What I am saying is that God cannot act in a way that contradicts His nature. That’s one side of the box, and it consists of one of His attributes. 

Another side might be considered a logical one. You’ll hear the question, can God create a rock so big that He can’t move it? It’s a trick question designed to prove that it is impossible for God to be without limitations. But God actually is limited by His own logic. He can’t, for example, make a square circle.

*A possible third side could be based on epistemology. These limitations, however, are more about us than God. We were given five senses, and it’s through these senses that we experience and interpret our world and our God. God affirms this when He tells us that our thoughts and ways are not like His thoughts and ways. So our understanding of God is necessarily limited by our cognitive and sensory capabilities. How does the finite grasp the infinite? How does what we know compare to what God knows? What words exist that can describe to us, in any meaningful way, those things for which we are not equipped to comprehend? Epistemology becomes another side of the box then. It exists because he has revealed to us what he wants us to know about himself in words that we are capable of comprehending.

The forth side of this box, it might be said, is God’s law. And like the epistemological side, it involves us more than God. God forbids creating for ourselves a god that is not. We are not given license to create another god under the guise that “all things are possible with God.” We are forbidden to create a god that is more to our liking, or to superimpose onto the one true God revealed to us by scripture any old thing that suits our fancy. In the great falling away that you will be living through, there is a tendency to subject God to the moral whims of our culture, and then to judge him according to those whims. The current zeitgeist charges us to release God from the supposed box us “religious” folks have put him in so that He can be what their whims dictate that He ought to be.

In the final analysis, no matter what our ideas about God are, whether they’re heretical or not, they will always be confined by limitations. Someone might say, God would never send anyone to Hell. But to say such a thing is to put God in a box, on the outside of which is the possibility of him doing just that. Or someone might say that there are many roads to God. That would be putting God in a box that excludes the possibility that he only provided one way. We should always take God at His word, but in so doing, you can expect charges that you are putting him in a box. You can take comfort, however, that often times the box you’re putting him in is one of his own making.

So the real question is not whether or not God is in some kind of a box, or even whether or not God exists in a box of sorts. The real question concerns our knowledge of God. We must continually ask, is what we think we know about God true? And how do we know if it’s true? We can look at the Pharisees as an example. What they thought was true about God was not. So it naturally followed then that what they thought was true about themselves was not. They gave us examples of how easy it is to be misguided and deceived when we are proud, arrogant and self-righteous. But to not be like them doesn’t mean that we should run into the ditch on the other side of the road and embrace prideful and arrogant lawlessness. Truth is still truth, and any deviation from truth is a lie no matter how constrained or liberating it feels to us. So what to do?

I submit to you that we are all subject to God’s grace. If we are not deceived, it is only by His grace that we are not. The moment any of us thinks that we have an opportunity for boasting, we should fret. So ultimately, dear children, I’d say for you to not worry so much about whether you’ve put God in a box, but rather, if you must worry, worry about whether or not you’re actually in His box. With all of the deception that is now plaguing our Western Civilization in which you are steeped, I’d say that that’s plenty enough to worry about. And, also, I admonish you to pray, dear children, as I pray for you and us also. Pray that by His grace, you will walk a path lighted by His Word and that you will not stray to the left or to the right. You ought to pray for revelation and a heart that can hear the truth, even when that truth hurts. And always keep in the forefront of your thinking that it is only by His grace that you will spend your lives free from deception.

Your father

Yes, Your Mother And Father Are Hypocrites… Sort Of

Dear Children,

The word hypocrite is thrown around a lot today; sometimes rightly and sometimes wrongly. So it’s a good idea, since words are the building material for our thinking, to contemplate what is meant by this word lest we discover that our thoughts are constructed of faulty material. So why don’t we start thinking about that word, hypocrite, by looking at its definition? A quick google search defines it thus:

The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform

Now I want you to think hard about this definition, but not in light of how the lives of others may be hypocritical, but rather how your own life is hypocritical. That we are so much more adept at discerning hypocrisy in others has a way of blinding us to the hypocrisy in ourselves. So for starters, as we study this word, let us realize that we have our own propensities toward this sin, and we ought to be troubled more by those failures than the supposed hypocrisy that we see in the lives of others. 

So to begin, let’s unpack this word a bit. I want you to notice two important components in the definition. There’s the objective component: “the standard,” and then there’s the subjective component: “one’s own behavior.” Therefore, let’s look a little closer at these.

One method of escaping the charge of being a hypocrite involves the claim that there is no such thing as an objective standard by which all human beings can be measured. By doing this, so it is reasoned, the charge of hypocrisy is dodged because there is no held standard to which one’s behaviors do not conform. This sounds easy enough on the surface, but life still forces the one who attempts to hold this view into hypocrisy, because holding to the “truth” that there is no standard is itself a standard. This view makes too many assumptions as it attempts to free the man for libertine freedom while holding humanity to the restraints of a civil code. One can’t, on the one hand for example, insist that there are no such things as objective moral standards, and then on the other expect to live in a safe and civil society. According to his standardless standard, he has no right to impose any moral standard on his neighbor. But those who attempt to live according to this extreme do just that, and so qualify as hypocrites.

But it gets worse. According to this standard of standardlessness, one can’t even make the charge of hypocrite without becoming one. If there is no objective standard that applies to all human beings, then it only follows that living a life of hypocrisy doesn’t fall short of any standard because no such standard exists. 

But we, your parents, don’t live that way. We do have a standard. And, we not only preach that standard, we have taught it to you as best we could. And I also realize that where there is a standard there is the opportunity for hypocrisy. What’s worse, our standard includes a prohibition against hypocrisy. We agree with, “thou shalt not steal,” and we have no problem with, “hypocrisy is sinful.” And on top of that, we are guilty of both. 

It would seem then, if we were to endure the trial of thinking about it for a bit, that no matter what anyone says, hypocrisy is a fact of life for everyone. But before we go too far down that road, let’s explore the objective and subjective just a little further with a little story I made up:

A man robs a bank. The police show up and surround the building trapping him inside. He then takes hostages and begins to make demands. During the standoff, he manages to kill seven hostages, one because he found out that he was gay, one because he was a foreigner, one because she was Muslim, one because he was black, one because she was a woman, and he hated women, one because he was poor, and he hated poor people too, and one because he could see that he was a man wearing women’s clothes. He also raped two women, one of which he got pregnant and then forced her to have the baby. But, alas, in a stroke of genius he manages to escape his predicament with over ten million dollars that he didn’t even need because he was already very wealthy. He was just greedy and wanted more, plain and simple.

On the way home, after stealing another ten dollars from a homeless person, he stops by his extremely rich buddy’s store to buy a bottle of liquor and a hundred cartons of cigarettes to hand out to minors in his neighborhood. While there, he notices a young boy, who was obviously very poor, slipping a nickel-piece of gum into his pocket. When the boy attempted to leave with his stolen gum, the robber alerted the store owner that the kid was shoplifting, and he lectured the kid that stealing was wrong.

Here’s my question to you. Was what the man said to the kid true or false? Was the kid stealing? Yes. Is stealing wrong? Yes. This story highlights the confusion that we can find ourselves in when our sins mix themselves up with each other. We find comfort in simply disregarding people as hypocrites when they point out our sin. But you need to know two things. Your failure to hold to a standard does nothing to negate the existence of that standard, nor does it mean that you can’t yourself, as one who has fallen short of it, appeal to that same standard. And just because someone else has fallen short of it, they too can appeal to it and insist that the standard exists and that we are all accountable to it. 

No one should feel compelled to turn a blind eye to standards of right and wrong out of fear of being called a hypocrite. Such would swing the door wide for anarchy and beckon it in, because everyone falls short, which would mean that no one could ever hold anyone accountable. What policeman has never exceeded a speed limit? What judge has never lied? Yet they still hold others to standards that they have fallen short of. No one really wants to live in the kind of Hell on earth that would result if, once we have broken a law, we can no longer appeal to that law in favor of a more peaceful society. But unfortunately, that’s exactly where the culture in which you live is headed. No one can appeal to a standard because once they do the response is predictable. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” you might hear. “Are you perfect? Then what gives you the right to suggest that there is a standard by which we ought to live, you hypocrite?” None of these admit the existence of the standard. They only ridicule anyone who suggests that it’s advantageous for everyone if we all do our best to live by it. Remember, Jesus said, even of the Pharisees, live as they say, not as they do. (Matt 23:1) For Jesus, that they were hypocrites did not negate the law that they taught.

The Gospel does impose itself into this seeming dichotomy; let’s consider how. First, the Gospel has two components, the bad and the good news, both of which apply to our discussion. The bad news is that all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. God is sinless. He is no hypocrite. He can and does point to His own standard and holds all men accountable to it. In fact, all of humanity is under God’s judgment for falling short of His standard. That’s the bad news.

But the good news is that He loved the world so much that he provided a way of escape from His justice. That escape is through Jesus’ righteousness and His atoning sacrifice. We, your parents, make no pretense of righteousness. We do admit, to ourselves, to God, and to our fellow Man that we have fallen short, not of our own weak standard, or any standardless standard, but of God’s holy and righteous standard. We, at the same time, like the robber in the story, point to His standard as the standard by which all will be judged by God, even though we ourselves have fallen under that same judgment. We do realize though that that looks a lot like hypocrisy to those who have not sought refuge from that judgment. But we don’t point to ourselves as holding to the standard, only that there is a standard by which we are all held accountable. And we call all men to repent, just as I, a man whom you’ve watched up close and personal live a sub-standard life, call you to repent.

But it’s not like we repent and live a life of righteousness. No, we repent and then live a life of repentance. We sin, we repent, and we call all men to live repentantly also, and there’s no hypocrisy in doing that. And yet still, I don’t claim to not be a hypocrite. I only claim that to the extent that I am a hypocrite, it’s wrong and sinful, and I pray that God will grant me the faith and grace to repent and change.

My dear children, there is much hypocrisy in this day, yes, very much indeed. And, yes, it’s in the Church too just as it’s in your own home. But there’s no less of this sin to be found in those who stand outside the Church and point their fingers at Jesus’ Bride and accuse it day and night of hypocrisy. They should take Jesus’ words seriously and remove the log from their own eye before they attempt to help the Church remove the speck from its eye. And in the same way, beloved, if you find yourself observing hypocrisy in me, I pray that you would do the same. It’s my prayer, in fact, that you, dear children, would live as un-hypocritical a life as you can, and by doing so that you will be able to perhaps help your own father remove the logs that blind him so much. My need is excessive, and nothing blesses me more than to have my own children rise up to help me defeat the formidable foe of hypocrisy that plagues me.

Your father

If You Don’t Get Into The Pot You Won’t Get Cooked

Dear Children,

I’ve told you of the analogy of the frog being cooked in the pot. The main point of this little parable is that Man can handle a lot of small changes as long as they span generations, but he can’t handle large and sudden changes. It wasn’t that long ago that I can remember people shaking their heads and saying that “gay marriage” would never happen. Today it’s Man’s law in this land and many of those who said it would never happen have embraced it. Why? Because they were living in the pot rather than outside of it. They gave into the zeitgeist, yes, but they didn’t give in to it all at once. It was a slow fade, little by little they conceded. So this brings us to a couple of questions. Do you live in the pot, and how does one live outside of it?

As always, the best way to answer such questions is to go to the scriptures which contain truth for all time, which is another way of saying that they contain the truths which have existed outside the pot for time immortal. And even though you will watch your friends and relatives have their religion boiled out of them time and again in the pot that is this world’s ways and thinking, if you remain in the truths of God’s Word you will be able to, yourself, hold onto your faith in your Lord and Savior. You will see and understand things differently, you will have confidence in what you know, and you will understand what you observe in this evil world. 

In the scriptures we see things like:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 

Jesus is giving us an analogy here comparing the one who is basing his life’s decisions on what the ever-changing zeitgeist says, and what the non-changing Word of God says. It’s easy to live in the pot. All you have to do is allow this world to program your thinking by uncritically accepting every message and premise it transmits to you through its music, its entertainment, its news media, and its institutions of education. I can promise you that if you do that your opinions will drift from this to that, always aligning, as if magically, with what this world want’s you to think. The 2nd chapter of Hebrews also warns us with this admonition:

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. 

God knows that Man doesn’t change drastically. He drifts. He fades like a bright colored garment left in the sun. And all the while he is unaware, sure that he’s being steadfast until he begins to read his Bible and finds problems with what it says rather than allowing it to illuminate problems in his heart.

The purpose of the pot is to cook food. Flesh is put there and boiled to prepare it for consumption. In the same way, this world is in the business of preparing you for consumption. It does this by making you comfortable with ever more vile sins until you have lost your bearings and no longer possess the strength to resist. We also get insight into this in Ephesians chapter two:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience… carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

The Bible is clear on this. Either we follow the “course of this world,” and “the wide path which leads to destruction,” or we follow the narrow path with the lamp of God’s Word. We either serve mammon or we serve Jesus whom this world hates. Nothing unifies the world in a single cause like the name of Jesus. The world is in a constant state of war with itself. But it will unify in its rebellion against God Almighty every time, because it exists in the pot. It is being prepared for destruction.

In the end, your life will be marked by war no matter which way you go. If you hop happily into the pot you will be at war with God. If you follow Jesus, you will be at war with your own flesh, this world, and the prince of this world, Satan. The first will promise peace, peace, peace… always out there, always achievable some day, once you’ve gained enough understanding, acceptance, kindness, beauty, education, money, respect, possessions, security, power and love. It will ever be out there in the future as you rise every day to chase the sun. But you will never possess it because it is a lie.

Not so with following Jesus. To be reconciled with God is peace that surpasses this world’s understanding. To not owe the creator of the universe a debt that you can never pay is true peace. To not hate God because you are His debtor is a peace that this world cannot understand. To love God because he paid that debt is a love this world will not comprehend. It is this love that will give you the strength you will need to follow him, to not only hear His words but to do them and to endure the hardships that will surely be coming your way because of your life outside the pot.

As this world grows darker at an ever-increasing rate, it will be more difficult for one to live in the cauldron while attempting to look like he is at peace with God. The days of living in lukewarmness are coming to an end. It will be difficult, and you will be sifted, as will I. I pray that your faith is true and sure and that it will endure. I pray that God will remain faithful to you as you remain faithful to him in His strength. I pray that you will stand, and after you have done everything, that you will remain standing to the end, as I pray the same for your mother and myself. God is able, this I know, to keep us.

Your father

The Centrality Of The Gospel

Dear Children,

You will have ample opportunity during your lives here in the western hemisphere to sit through many a presentation of one sort or another. You will hear teachers and salespeople go on about this and that and all the while you’ll be eagerly waiting for them to get to the main thing, that one thing that matters the most that they are taking their sweet time getting to. And you’ll wonder why they’re taking such a long route around to get there. I’m sure they have their reasons. There’s a lot of research that goes into how to hook someone into buying something long before that someone has any idea of the cost, the actual cost being that main thing that you want to know, and what they’re taking so long getting around to.

Well, make no mistake my children that in this thing called Christianity, the Gospel is the main thing and that fact will be underestimated by you and most others. Our problem as humans is that we have a hard time grasping the main elements of the Gospel. One of those elements is the depth of our despair, the totality of the wrath of an angry God, and the absoluteness of our wickedness in the hot light of God’s holiness. I am convinced that if we understood that one thing alone it would change everything. Indeed I hope you will spend your life endeavoring to grasp it. The more you’re able to do that, the more you will find that your circumstances will not dictate your joy. The Gospel is our only reason for joy, and without it, no joy is possible.

The best part is that the Gospel is free. But it’s only free to the objects of its affections. It was not free in the grand scheme of things. This is another difficult thing to understand, and the fact that God’s holiness is woven into it makes it all the more difficult. Jesus was holy. That, my children, is no small thing. He was perfect and righteous and in pure fellowship within the Trinity, unmarred by sin. And yet, He took our sin on himself. He paid the price. I’m sure that it’s beyond our human ability to grasp the cost involved when such holiness takes on sin in order to bring about the gift of salvation offered to this world.

And another element is the love that was expressed for those who are His when this payment was made. If we could grasp the condition of those for whom God paid such a high price to redeem, at the very point when he paid the price, I’m sure we would be undone. We talk about love. But I’m sure that our words are rendered bankrupt in their attempts to express the totality of the Gospel. We were saved from God’s wrath, at a priceless price, into His love, through absolutely no merit of our own. There is simply nothing to compare to that. And in the same way that Man seems to ever be discovering the secrets of the universe, I am convinced that His children will ever be discovering the awesome wonders of this thing called the Gospel, the good news. For indeed it was the best news any of us could have ever gotten.

Dear children, I bid you contemplate these truths. There is so much that we don’t know, and possibly are unable to even comprehend given our finite minds. Do your best to not underestimate this beautiful thing. It is the center of our hope, our joy, of our very lives.

I pray, dear children, that you would spend your lives digging ever deeper into the miracles of the Gospel, and that you would increasingly become undone by the magnificent, wondrous, awe-inspiring, boundless, transcendent beauty of Christ, and him crucified.

Your father

 

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