There are certain things Christians should refrain from saying. Why? Because, well, they are dumb! Don’t feel bad. I have had my dumb moments too. Let’s make sure to scratch these three from our Christian vocabulary.
1. God told me to ______. We have to be careful here. God does speak to us through His word. He impresses thoughts and ideas into our conscience. He influences us through other people. Yet, sometimes Christians play the “God told me card.” If we are going to say “God told me too” we had better make sure that He really did, because if He didn’t that would be putting words in God’s mouth. Essentially, it becomes using God’s name without God’s consent. I have heard Christians say that God told them to do many different things, and some of the things that “God told them”, I am pretty sure, were in direct violation of His written word. So either God forgot what He said before or He didn’t tell you. Sadly, some Christians even use God’s false endorsement as a means to manipulate other people. Don’t say God told me unless you are 100% absolutely sure that He did, in fact, tell you.
2. I just have to leave it in God’s hands. Certainly, there are times in life where we have no choice but to leave situations in God’s hands. We have to trust that He loves us, is well aware of all we will experience in life, and trust His guidance. Yet, we must also remember that leaving things in God’s hands does not exempt us from doing our part. Leaving things in God’s hands is not an excuse for us not to apply ourselves and work hard. “I have a test tomorrow, and I am leaving it in God’s hands.” Awesome. So you have studied all you can, right? “I am leaving the results of my sermon Sunday up to God.” Great! So you prepared and rehearsed adequately? “I am trusting God with my kids.” Wonderful. So you have poured yourself into their lives and done all you can to prepare them for what they will face? Trusting God is working hard and applying ourselves to whatever task we are given, and then trusting Him with the outcome.
3. I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian. This is absolutely correct! One does not have to go to church to become a Christian. A person is born in Christ by repenting and trusting in Christ. Case closed. It should be pointed out, however, that church attendance is a tremendous part of growing as a Christian. In fact, it is paramount. Think about how poor this logic is when applied to other scenarios. “I don’t need to spend any time with my spouse to be married.” No, but if you want that marriage to be anything special you had dang well better! “I don’t need to go to practice to play in the band.” True, but you won’t know the songs, and you won’t mesh with the rest of the band. You will be the bass player that is a beat behind the drummer, and that just annoys everyone. “I don’t need to go to school to be a student.” Nope, but if you want to pass the class you do! You get the point. Church doesn’t make one a Christian, but it is a big part if growing in Christ. We need other people. We need encouragement and accountability. We need to hear God’s word spoken (along with our personal reading), and we need to have a place to ask questions and explore our faith.
So, have you ever said “dumb things” as a Christian or heard someone else babble things that make you cringe? What are they?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
God, where are you when an earthquake swallows up unsuspecting people? Where are you God when fires ravage homes that displace thousands? Where are you when hurricanes pound the coast and inflict pain on countless lives? Where were you when tornadoes struck Oklahoma and demolished house after house? What about the kids, God? Why did innocent kids have to suffer and die? You are all powerful. You could have stopped it. Why didn’t you?
This is a big question. One that we all have wrestled with at times, struggled with, and either worked through or pushed to the back of our minds. Yet, when tragedy strikes it pulls the question back to the forefront of our minds. Why does God allow suffering? Why does he allow tragedy? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Many refer to these phenomena as natural evil, as opposed to moral evil, which requires some agent that inflicts pain. Moral evil is when a drunk driver kills an innocent child or a person abuses another. When it comes to moral evil we know that cause is due to sin. A person has the freedom to choose to abuse his free will and harm others. Yet, natural evil, or agentless evil, there is no person or agent that chooses to hurt others. It is the result of the natural order. It is a physical phenomenon that no one, per se, caused. These events happen without a causal agent. Yet, the question lingers, why does God allow it?
Before we seek an answer to this question from a Christian perspective, it is important to understand that every worldview must answer this question. From an atheistic perspective, it is bound to happen at some point. In our world, people will get hurt. It’s an accident we are here to begin with. So when natural disaster strikes, you simply lose the lottery. Someone had to get hurt, and your number was up. Incidentally, it ends there. Life is cut short. Life has no meaning or ultimate purpose. Hopefully you enjoyed the years in the sun you had. Then there are the pantheistic religions that say the tragedies we experience are the result of negative Karma. That is, the bad things you do create negative energy and you must pay off this negative energy by experiencing difficulties. So essentially, you are the reason that bad things happen to you? They might also say that suffering is an illusion, but last time I suffered it felt pretty real. None of these answers seem satisfactory or easy to live out consistently.
So what does Christianity have to say about natural disasters? Every now and then someone like Pat Robertson will pipe up and say that God directly causes natural disasters as a punishment for sin. We see evidence of this in the Bible in limited places. Yet, we are not qualified to make such judgments, and to do so is completely insensitive and downright narcissistic. Furthermore, God using natural disasters as punishment seems limited to a specific socio-cultural context, that is, theocratic Israel.
While God does not cause natural disasters, the question still must be asked why does He allow them? Many question, if God is all-loving and all-powerful, then why doesn’t he stop tornadoes from ripping across Oklahoma? While I believe God is both all-loving and all-powerful, does this mean that God is under compulsion to shield us from all pain and suffering? To fully answer this question man would have to assume the mind of God. God has knowledge of every possible contingency and our knowledge is limited. As Charles Spurgeon once explained, “When we cannot trace God’s hand, we must simply trust His heart.”
Though we cannot assume the mind of God, we can make some observations. First we know that when God created the world, it was good. Suffering and evil were not present. When sin entered the world, death and suffering also did, and this applied to creation itself. Paul reminds us of this, “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.” (Romans 8:22, HCSB). So natural disasters are tied to the fall itself.
We could also discuss how God uses pain in our lives, though this is often less than satisfying when we are in the middle of tragedy. Yet, sometimes God uses pain our lives for multiple reasons. At times it is to get our attention, build character, or to keep us from greater pain and suffering by exposing us to a smaller amount of aversion. Again, we do not know the mind of God.
This question has been examined from many different angles, but I would like to approach it from a different perspective. Often natural disasters are referred to as “acts of God.” We must ask ourselves, however, are “acts of God” limited to natural disasters? Might we remember that the very fact that we have life to begin with was an “act of God”? Creation from nothing was an act of God. The suffering of Christ was an act of God. The daily sustaining of the universe is an act of God. The very fact that my lungs continue to breathe in and out at this moment is an act of God. Let us not limit acts of God to the tragedies that strike.
We must also ask, is death underserved? Due to the effects of sin, everyone has an appointment with death. We think that we get some say on when that appointment should be. We deem it unfair when people die before the average age, but say nothing when people live past the average age. Every day we get is solely due to God’s grace. We have no claim on our lives. Because God is the creator of life He can give and take when he sees fit, often for purposes that are beyond our immediate understanding.
Death will come to us all at some point. While it is hard for us to let go in this life, death is not something to be feared for those that know Christ. Death is hard on the survivor, but for the person that dies, they enter into bliss. Yet we forget this when disaster strikes because our emotions are greatly shaken, and rightly so. Yet we blame God for something that would happen at some point regardless, and when it does happen the person lost is in a better state than before. It is hard for us, the survivor. Yet, God gives us the capacity to overcome our grief.
Many would say that natural disasters are undeserved. Again, when we make this appeal we also forget about the good things that are undeserved. Do we, as unrighteous people, deserve anything? Yet, God is faithful to allow good things in our lives. If we make the argument that the bad is underserved we must also be consistent and say that the good is underserved.
In other words, the good that God allows in our lives we accept without thought or question. Yet, when tragedy strikes, God has allowed undeserving bad things into our life, and He is horrible for having done so, and even then, we don’t know His reasons for doing so.
Is it perhaps possible then, that in a fallen world that groans under the weight of sin, that God works in a way where the best possible and loving outcomes result? Is it possible that we focus too heavily on this life at the expense of remembering we were created for another world? Is it possible that we miss all of the blessings and provisions of God and focus only on the seeming injustices and tragedies? Is it possible that amidst tragedy, God is right there with us? Is it possible that God holds our hand through the eye of the storm?
God created the world knowing that we would botch it all up. He knew as a result of this that He would have to send His Son to die for the sins of mankind, that all of humanity might be restored. Would a loving father make a decision that would involve the death of His Son? In the midst of loss we might remember that God is no stranger to our plight.
These questions are not easy, yet; only Christianity offers an explanation that comes close to satisfying. Either the universe is indifferent when tragedy strikes, we brought it on ourselves, suffering is an illusion, or God is in control even when we don’t complete understand it. He loves us, blesses us, and seeks our ultimate good. So much, that He suffered greatly be sending His own son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. We should point out that the reason this answer does not seem fully satisfactory is because we don’t allows get to know the why or connect the dots. We have a low tolerance for cognitive ambiguity. Yet, at this point, we simply have to trust that God is all powerful and all loving and He is in control.
Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny?Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29-31, HCSB)
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Road Trip! Many people hate piling in the car and staring at the road for hours on end, but I happen to enjoy it. Sure, flying is great at times, but road trips are conducive to great conversations and opportunities to reflect on life. It had been several years since we hopped in the car and drove across the country so my wife and I decided to drive to Atlanta this week, with our starting point being close to Houston. As we mapped out our route, we just so happened to notice that passing through West Monroe, Louisiana, was only about thirty minutes out of our way. What’s in West Monroe? Don’t you know? The bearded boys from Duck Dynasty, who else?
My wife and I began watching the show in season two, and quickly caught up by buying season one (which we watched in a night). We have been hooked ever since. We tune in every Wednesday night to see those friendly, fuzzed up faces.
When I stop to think about the show, it’s hard to say what drew me in to begin with. Sure it’s funny, but there are a lot of funny shows I don’t watch. I have never gone duck hunting (which I am not opposed to if anyone wants to give me an invite) a day in my life. I don’t even own a rifle. I have never even shot a deer, or at one for that matter. I really don’t even watch much television period, so it is interesting that I tune in faithfully every week this show airs. I even watch reruns from time to time, despite the fact that I own the seasons.
As we rolled up to Duck Commander, that’s the dynasty headquarters for those not sucked into the cult of duck yet, I was amazed. The facility wasn’t some huge corporate operation sprawled out over acres. It was a modest warehouse with some offices and a newly added gift shop. It is located right beside a small town car wash with some houses just down the road. To be honest, it looks smaller in person than on television. It is fascinating that the network, A & E, took a bet on the beards in the first place.
The gift shop opens at nine in the morning, and we arrived about eight-thirty. To my surprise, we were not the first ones there. We took some pictures while we waited for the gift shop to open. People continued to arrive by the minute. When the gift shop opened there were probably fifty people inside. The place was bustling with beard enthusiast by nine-thirty. I was amazed that this place attracted so many people.
This season, Duck Dynasty attracted an average of 8.4 million viewers per episode. It was the number one rated reality show this year. Just a bunch of guys, with beards, that make duck calls for a living. What is the appeal? It is something very simple, but so counter cultural that it almost elicits shock value. The success of Duck Dynasty is wrapped up in faith and family.
The show promotes a very family oriented lifestyle that flies in the face of our individualistic society. Each episode ends with the extended family sitting around a dinner table and some kind of moral is presented to tie the show together. There is also a healthy slice of faith served up with every episode.
It is my opinion that these two things, faith and family, are what pull people in (though Uncle Si’s antics also help). Why are people so drawn by these two things? Because it is what everybody wants. Who doesn’t want to have a close family? Most people want to find something that guides their life and instills a sense of purpose as well.
The sad fact is, much of our society is lacking in these two areas. So many people feel they can’t have what is seen in the lives of the Robertson’s, but they can. Anyone can have a life devoted to family and faith. Now this may be to varying degrees because, for many, the past plays a part in the present. Families don’t immediately change over night, but they can start the change process in a night. The Robertson family has what it has because it is willing to do what many people are unwilling to do, which is making faith and family a priority.
One of the cleanest shows on television right now is at the top. How does that happen? Because many people want to be a part of something good (not perfect). Maybe it also serves to show that there is a bigger desire for wholesome entertainment than some would have us think.
We were made for community. We find that fulfilled both vertically and horizontally. We need one another and we need God to feel fulfilled, have purpose, and be healthy. We long to be in community with God, family, and friends, whether we are cognizant of it or want to admit it. Somewhere, Duck Dynasty gives us a taste of what that feels like, and it feels nice.
We have to remember though, to have what most people don’t have, we have to do what most people don’t do. Invest in our families and make faith a priority, each of which require a certain amount of sacrifice, but the reward is worth the effort.
You were made for community. I was made for community. We were all designed with a void that only God and family can fill. How are you doing at filling your void?
Seek God. Invest in family. Live in community. Enjoy life. And if you want, grow a killer beard.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Recently, I was having an initial conversation with a fellow believer. We were doing the usual guy-get-to-know-one-another chat. Inevitably, when two guys meet for the first time, the question always comes up, “What do you do and what is your background”? I explained I was a minister and psychotherapist, and that I was studying Apologetics. “Oh, your one of those”, he said.” I was confused, “One of those, what?” “You are one of those guys that feel like God has to be defended, but He doesn’t. God doesn’t need anyone to defend Him.”
Is that true? Is apologetics just a waste of time? Well, my newfound friend is right. God does not need anyone to defend Him. I am pretty sure God has it covered with his legions of angels, not to mention all of His attributes like omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, and the like. God holds the market on power and can easily defend Himself. He doesn’t need me to do anything for Him, but He does allow me to be a part of His plan.
God does not need defending. His truth also stands on it’s own. God’s truth is true regardless of whether a person wants to accept it or not. Yet, Apologetics is not about defending God. I will let God take care of Himself. Apologetics is about giving reasons for the hope that we have. Apologetics is about tearing down false ideas that obstruct people from coming to know the truth about God. Essentially, apologetics is about removing blindfolds that keep people from seeing who God is.
I am often dumbfounded when I hear Christians make the statement that Apologetics is an unnecessary discipline because God can take care of Himself. Of course God can take care of Himself. That is not up for debate. Yet, if apologetics is unnecessary, then why does God command the Christian to engage in Apologetics? Notice what scripture has to say about giving reasons for what we believe.
I Peter 3:15 is the hallmark verse commanding an apologetic lifestyle, “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 we are commanded to “demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God.” One must be able to give reasons why Christianity is true instead of the many false ideologies. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus states that we are to love God “with all of our minds.” How does one do that? By being informed about competing worldviews and employing logic to show why Christianity is the most compelling belief. We should also note that Jesus and the apostles employed Apologetics. Jesus repeatedly gave evidences and reasons, such as miracles and fulfilled prophecies, as to why people should trust His claim to be the messiah. The apostles did the same. Paul’s address at Mars Hill in Acts 17 is a brilliant apologetic!
We are commanded in Matthew 28 to go and share our faith with those around us. We are directly commanded to evangelize the world and present the good news to all we can. Apologetics is pre-evangelism. It removes obstacles so the good news can be heard!
God doesn’t need defending, but people need help making sense of the many competing ideas. We have been commanded to give a reason for the hope we have. It is only the lazy Christian that cannot give reasons for his faith. Evangelism doesn’t happen within a vacuum. It happens amidst many different subcultures. People’s background, experiences, history, education, etc. effects how they relate to the gospel. While we can never be completely prepared, we can do our best to have an understanding of our own beliefs and be able to offer a reasonable explanation of them.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Alright, admit it, the title to this blog made you want to come read it, right? What could this post possibly be about? Kill your wife? Seriously? Yup, it’s the best thing for her. Well, how do you kill someone more than once? Isn’t that impossible? No, but it’s a necessity for a healthy marriage. But it doesn’t come naturally to us guys (at least it doesn’t for most men I have known, including myself).
You see, men are hunters. We like to chase things. We are up for a good challenge. We like to set goals, devise plots plans, execute those plans flawlessly and drag the trophy home. Its just how we work. We get laser-focused intensity on a single target and we go for it with gusto. Carpe Diem!
Ladies, let me ask you, how many different hobbies has your husband had? More than one? Several you say? Why is that? Because we get interested in something, read every detail there is to know about it, try to do it as many ways as possible, make sure we are better at it than any of our friends, perfect it, and then we are done. Once we make the kill, that is, once we master it, we move on. As an aside, the reason guys play golf for decades without ever losing interest is because it’s so incredibly difficult to master the game. The challenge keeps us going back to get frustrated that we can’t put a tiny, two inch, white ball into a four inch hole.
So how does this relate to marriage? Think about the first time you saw your wife gentlemen. Your radar went off, you focused, and you accepted the challenge. She became the hunted. It became your mission to catch this wonderfully beautiful (I am assuming she was beautiful, I understand that some ladies just have good personalities, and that’s alright. But she had better be beautiful to you. Get me?) creature. So you began to study her. You spent late nights on the phone. You spent money on frivolous items. You did things that you never expected to do. You did whatever it took to “catch” the person you are married to. Congratulations, you made “the kill” and you “dragged” her home (hopefully not kicking and screaming) to live with you.
The question is, what happens next? Now that the thrill of the hunt is over what are you doing? For many men, once they make “the kill” they move on to hunt something else such as a career, hobby, or having the nicest manicured lawn in the neighborhood. This is not how it should be, however. Marriage isn’t a one-time kill. That is, the hunt never ends. Think of marriage as a catch-and-release-then-hunt-what-you-let-go type of endeavor.
When you stop hunting your wife and fail to do many of the things that let her know you appreciate her, a natural drift occurs. Other things start to seem more important than your relationship. I get it guys, life gets busy after the “I do’s”, especially when you add some kids to the mix, but if you don’t have a good marriage it soils all the other areas of your life. As the saying goes, happy wife, happy life. Hunt her daily.
We are reminded in Genesis 2:24, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” The word “united” is the Hebrew word dabaq. It means to catch by pursuit or to pursue hard with affection and devotion. That is our calling guys, to pursue our wives daily with sincere affection.
How are we doing here? I am sure we have good intentions, but good intentions won’t make our wives feel loved or cherished, will they? We have to hunt daily. Continually be a student of our wives, remind them the how much we care about them, and invest significantly in their lives.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Christians say dumb things. Why? Because we are human, and humans say dumb things. Sometimes we just think before we speak, or we repeat things we have heard without taking the time to articulate the thought fully. Here are some dumb things Christians say from time to time.
1. Beginning our list of dumb things Christians say is “I am praying for you.” Have you ever been listening as someone confides in you with their current struggles or difficulties and responded with “I will be praying for you” and then went on without ever uttering a single word of prayer? Yea? Me too! It has almost become a catch word for us as Christians. We say it when we don’t know what else to say. We say it to let the person know that we care and empathize with them. We want others to know that we love them. We should definitely be communicating care, empathy, and love to others. What we should not do is say we will be praying and then fail to pray.
We need to pray for others, and we should strive to do so. It keeps us from being so focused on ourselves and we are told we can petition God for anything. Instead of simply saying “I am praying” we need to be sure we are actually praying. When it comes to praying for others we can pray on the spot with them, pray after we finish our conversation, or write down the request for later. But let’s not make the dumb statement of I am praying for you when we aren’t really serious about it. Deal?
2. “The King James Version is the only version you should read.” Why is that? If you specifically love thithers and thou’s you can certainly read until your heart’s delight, but some people struggle with the antiquated language. Now, don’t get me wrong, this version is a very strong literal translation, but at the expense of communicating the thought at times. Some treat the King James Version of the Bible as though it is the original manuscript, when it is just another translation.
There are other very good translations of the Bible as well. The English Standard Version and Holman are translations I greatly enjoy. Some translations are more literal, that is, the translation is word for word. At the other end of the spectrum is thought for thought. The translator paraphrases the original manuscript in order to get the thought across to modern readers. Both of these have their place. Some Christians get huffy about paraphrastic translations, but it’s funny when you read many of the apostle’s quotations of the Old Testament they often paraphrase the verse they quote. The point is that we actually open our Bibles and read them. So let’s do that!
3. “God doesn’t respond to email, but he does respond to kneemail.”Why does this make the list of dumb things Christians say? Well, because it is dumb. It’s cheesy. It’s cutesy. Along with this you can take about 90% of the cheesy sayings that grace a multitude of church marquees. Maybe you think I am being a little uptight, and maybe I am. But I can be a cheezy person. I like to have fun. I say silly things all the time. I make up goofy songs to the annoyance and chagrin of my wife, but I don’t do it under the umbrella of Christianity. Can Christians have fun? Well, I certainly hope so! Yet, I think we need to let the outside world see our grace in love in action instead of taking the time to come up with dumb sayings. Many people outside the faith believe that Christians are simpletons. Do we have to perpetuate that stereotype by saying dumb things or cheesy truisms? If we need to put things on church signs can we make it something thought provoking, the times our services begin, Bible verses or quotes that cause one to think? Please?
We all say dumb things. Christians are no exception. Let’s just do our best to learn from dumb things we say and not repeat them. Shall we?
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
The Barna Group recently published some new findings that we as Christians should be privy to. While 7 out of 10 Americans identify themselves as “Christians”, one can quickly see by looking at the research that there are some deep theological and lifestyle problems. While many label themselves as Christians it seems apparent that it could be in namesake only. You can read the full article here.
What are your reactions to these figures? Let us know!
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
“I was born this way”, a phrase that continues to drum louder and louder in these postmodern times. Two years ago the infamous Madam Monster, Lady Gaga, wrote a song by the same title. She sings, “Ooh, there ain’t no other way, baby, I was born this way.” This echoes the ideology of our day, that we are somewhat trapped by our biology. That is, you are who you are, and you act the way you act because you were biologically determined to do so. J. Reid writes, “The whole culture is metaphorically awash in genes, which are depicted as pervasive and powerful agents central to understanding both everyday behavior and the secret of life. Foraging through countless specialty periodicals and mass-culture sources, [one uncovers] references to selfish genes, pleasure-seeking genes, violence genes, gay genes, couch-potato genes, celebrity genes, depression genes. Everything but the kitchen sink gene.”
Not too far in the distant past, the field of psychology continually emphasized the idea that we are products of our environment. Our upbringing, social history, tragedies, and trauma was the impetus to our behavior. Yet now, we are locked in by our genetics. So which is it? Quite frankly, whichever allows us to eschew personal responsibility for our actions. Society clings to whatever explanation of human behavior that will strip them of their moral culpability.
It is imperative that we keep in mind that our biology is but one facet of our behavior, as is our social environment. There are incredibly diverse networks of factors that contribute to our many complex behaviors. To reduce human behavior to mere biology strains the limits of credulity and reduces man to an animalistic automaton. We are bigger than our biology. Nor can our choices be reduced to respondent conditioning within our social environment. We are able to override our biology when it comes to our decisions and behaviors. Neither does our social past define our future. To argue to the contrary one must be comfortable with the ramifications of such a statement.
If we are slaves to our genetics, then can anyone be held responsible for any action? Can society be reformed? What is the purpose of law and prohibiting certain behavior? Would change even be possible? Will people one day be genetic liabilities that must be managed by society, government, or law enforcement?
Gaga gets it. She understands the results of her argument. She says, “Don’t hide yourself in regret, Just love yourself and you’re set. I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” In other words, don’t worry about your moral transgressions. You’re a slave to the way you were “born”. It is here that I will affirm her lyrics, yet not in a way that is consistent with her intent. We are all “born this way.” We are all born into sin. Actually, we are all slaves to sin at birth. Paul reminds us in Romans that “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” We are all born dead thanks to the very first man choosing to turn away from God. Now, we have no choice but to serve sin because we are born as slaves to that sin.
Yet, just as sin entered through that one man, grace came into the world through another, Jesus Christ. It is through Christ that we no longer have to live as slaves to sin, though sometimes we choose to because we have become so use to living in bondage.
Mankind is not a slave to biology, we are slaves to sin. Yet, we can freely choose to overcome our enslavement through Christ. Mankind has the ability to discern right from wrong because God has written a universal, binding, moral law upon the heart of every living soul.
We can know right from wrong. We have a choice. Biology does not control us. Our environment does not determine our actions. We are “born this way” as slaves, but we can choose to overcome through Christ.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
This is a sad week. Tragedy has visited us once again. Life has been taken unjustly, pain inflicted without cause. Evil has shown its face as the world looks on in horror. It was as if the world stopped for a while Monday, as everyone watched the events unfold at the Boston Marathon. Our hearts and prayers go out to all who have been touched by this maleficent act of villainy.
During times such as this, it often forces people to ask questions. Why did it happen? What does it mean? We want to connect the dots and have a certain degree of understanding. We watch the media coverage hoping to find answers. What was the motive? Who did it? Will justice be served?
Yet, there are even deeper questions. There are questions that flow deep beneath the shallow waters of our culture that must be delved into. Where is God in the middle of this tragedy? Why does He allow evil and pain? What does this say about mankind’s very nature? These are big questions that deserve everyone’s reflection.
The tragedy in Boston reminds us all that we live in a world that is broken. “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” We see the effects of evil daily because we live in a world that bears the weight of sin. In the beginning, mankind was afforded a choice. We were given the option of choosing to trust in God’s goodness or to do life our own way. Man was given complete freedom, with a single rule to obey.
Man could choose life through abiding by God’s edict or destruction by going against God’s divine law. With this freedom came the potential of evil. It could be no other way. At this point many will ask, “Well, why didn’t God just force man to do right so we could avoid the consequences of evil?” This is not possible with the freedom of choice. If mankind has free will, then evil is the natural byproduct of man choosing poorly. I often enjoy asking people whether they would choose losing their freedom of choice to have a perfect life or have the freedom to choose and face the negative consequences of their actions. I have never had a person choose to give up their freedom when I pose this question. We all want to make choices for ourselves, be they good or bad, and with this capacity to choose comes the potential of evil. This is why these tragedies take place. Because mankind choose long ago to sin, and on the coattails of sin comes death and destruction.
Many seek to ask what God’s responsibility is when tragedy strikes, but what if we look at our own responsibility. We are always looking for somewhere to pass the buck. Have we not created a culture of death? Are our own hands not stained crimson as a culture with the blood of those fallen in Boston? Those in the ivory towers of the Ivy League consistently tell us that good and evil are but cloudy figments of our imagination. We live in a culture that denies any universal moral principles. Right and wrong are simply mental constructs that vary from person to person and culture to culture we are told. There is no universal truth. The natural law written on the heart of mankind by God is ancient folklore. If this is the case, then why are we surprised when the calamity of evil manifests itself, such as in Boston? “We cannot have it both ways” we are simply not permitted to live as if justice and truth really matter and yet deny that justice and truth are fixed universal referents.”
This leaves us to ask, where is God in all of this? He is not far from any one of us. He stands right along with us in our times of suffering. He weeps with those that weep. He comforts those that seek solace in the cross. We will do well to remember, Christ also suffered. The physical nature of Christ new pain, suffering, isolation, and emotional turmoil well. He is not some aloof deity that is a stranger to the plights of man. He also promises to right every wrong one day. He tells us to keep an eye on the horizon with the expectation of his return, when He will redeem creation. The Apostle Paul asks us to consider, “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” One day, all will be made right.
Yet, in the meantime, we must morn with those that morn. Make our case for universal moral principles that God has written on the hearts of humanity. And we wait with anticipation for the day that God avenges evil, rights wrongs, and heals the brokenhearted.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed. Pray for Boston.
 J. Daryl Charles, Retrieving the Natural Law: A Return to Moral First Things
I have heard a friend of mine often say, “Who can understand a woman, even on a good day?” I have often felt this same sentiment wash over me. Women are fascinating, and at times frustrating, to understand. We guys are easy, right ladies? I say that tongue in cheek. The question is often posed, what does it take to make a man happy? “Show up naked, bring food, and don’t block the TV.” Obviously, it isn’t that simple, but there is a kernel of the truth here. Yet, with women, the list doesn’t seem to be anywhere near that simple. In fact, many men are often baffled by their wives behaviors. Partly because many men are emotionally unintelligent and partly because the emotional lives of women are complex.
The Father of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, quipped, “Despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, I have not been to answer the great question: What does a woman want?” So what exactly do women want? What do we guys need to know? I don’t know how qualified I am to address this topic, but I thought I might take a stab at it. If nothing else, all the women that read this can tell me where I am wrong and help me better fill in the areas where I lack understanding.
I didn’t consult my wife for this blog, I thought that might be cheating in some way, so I will be curious for her to critique my thoughts as well. Some of my information comes from reading research, some comes from working with couples, and some comes from having lived with a woman. So, from the male perspective, here are what seem to be, many of the things women want.
First, I feel that the majority of women need to be reminded that they are valuable. They need to know that we need their presence in our lives. We must communicate how much we appreciate all the good, pleasant, and nice things they bring into our lives. Not only are our wives valuable for all the many things they do, but they are valuable for simply being who they are! We must remind them that they are incredibly valuable to us.
Second, they need to be heard. There is a difference in listening and hearing. A woman does not just want to be listened to, she wants to be heard. Hearing means we empathize. It means we validate their feelings. It means we give them feedback that we understand what they mean. Hearing does not mean we offer advice, unless it is solicited; it means we sit, hear their words, and show them that we care about what they are saying.
Third, women need to be respected. Respect ranks high on the list of what men need, but why should women be any different? In fact, everyone needs to be respected. Respect means that we honor the wishes of our wives. It means we don’t try to make them into someone or something they aren’t. When we respect our wives, we listen to their wisdom and never seek to manipulate them. We act in an honest way and treat them the way we would like to be treated. We include them in decisions because they are half of the relationship.
Fourth, women want to be secure. I did not say wealthy, I said secure. They want to feel safe. They want to know that we are planning and walking in wisdom. They want to know that the trip has a destination and that we are heading somewhere. Security involves planning. It involves denying what might be good in the present for what might be great down the road. When it comes to security, it means employing Dave Ramsey’s mantra of living like no one else now, so later, we can live like no one else. Women don’t just need financial security, they also need emotional security. There shouldn’t be any secrets. They should feel safe in being openly emotional with us. They should feel free to express whatever is on their hearts without fear of being demeaned or put down.
Fifth, women want to dream with their husbands. When my wife and I were dating, we often spent time sitting on a ledge overlooking a cliff, filled with plants and a gratuitous amount of butterflies. In those early days we dreamed about “having a ledge of our own.” We dreamed about kids, goals, and years filled with laughter. We still dream together. Sometimes we dream big, and sometimes they are small, modest dreams. I think women want to know that we envision a future that only has room for them. I think they want to be reminded that we only want them in our future.
Last, women want a husband that takes initiative spiritually. It’s easy to be a lazy spiritual leader. Yet, when we neglect the spiritual side of our marriages, we do so at great peril. I know many women that are forced to pick up the spiritual reigns in their family because the husband will not. This should not be so. Women need, and want, to see their husbands taking initiative in this area.
I know this list as by no means exhaustive, but, from my experience, I think I hit many of the high points. But, this is where we hear from you now ladies. What do you want from us guys? Enlighten us!
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.