Saturday, July 13, 2013

Teach these Things to Your Children

An Open Letter to Elizabeth Esther
in response to her article, "Teach Your Children They are Whole"

Dear Mrs. Esther,

First, thank you for sharing the obstacles you faced before finding Jesus. Your honesty and vulnerability are admirable, and I wish to take nothing away from the validity of your experience. I'm sorry the gospel was not presented clearly to you as a child--particularly as a child growing up in the Church. I appreciate the opportunity to engage in discussion on how to better our ministry to our children.

I, like you, believe that the most important task God has given us as mothers is to disciple our children. I, like you, eat and sleep and breathe motherhood; at times I don't eat or sleep or breathe--on account of mothering. Like you, I believe that above everything we do, the chores, the disciplining, the cheering, the loving... the most valuable gift we can give our children is a right view of who God is.

The foundation of a right view of God, of course, must begin with a high view of Scripture. That is, assuming we are talking about Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, Jesus, the Messiah and Head of the Church, and His Holy Spirit, we must accept the Bible as authoritative. So, while our experiences certainly account for some authority in our lives, they are not the final word. Scripture is.

It is under this appeal to Scripture, then, that I feel compelled to challenge your charge that we teach our children that they are whole, rather than broken.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Silver Lining in the Destruction of DOMA

A few months ago, when the Supreme Court first revisited Proposition 8, I wrote that the battle over legalizing homosexual marriage was not as much about civil rights as it was about moral rights. Today, Justice Anthony Kennedy confirmed my suspicion in his majority opinion overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Citing a document from the 1996 enactment of DOMA, he made the case that DOMA was created to express “both moral disapproval of homosexuality, and a moral conviction that heterosexuality better comports with traditional (especially Judeo-Christian) morality.”

Basically, today the Supreme Court ruled that since DOMA was grounded in morality, it should be overturned. Kennedy argued that the "purpose and practical effect of the law here in question are to impose a disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma upon all who enter into same-sex marriages made lawful by the unquestioned authority of the states." Such a stigma, in their eyes, is unconstitutional. In other words, morality is not sufficient grounds for a federal law.

As I write this, it's almost 8:00 pm on the west coast and the above is already old news. Americans have already acknowledged the ruling, grieved or celebrated in accordance with their beliefs, and are now ready to start talking implications. As a Christian, my first question is, "What will this mean for the Church?" We certainly don't have time be outraged or try to grasp at any last scraps of family values from the "good old days." We need to face the future with full confidence that it is ordained and held together by our sovereign King.

First, we should be aware that today's ruling is just one domino in a long row of inevitable court decisions which will lead our country directly away from its Christian roots. We ought to heed the warning Justice Antonin Scalia gave in his dissent, "As far as this Court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe." (*1)

Then, upon acknowledging the direction our nation is headed, we should rejoice! You see, the spiritual terrain of the United States looks more like the world of the early Church than it ever has. And friends, history has shown us that the gospel message thrives most when it stands in sharp contrast to the world around it.

Dear Church, all these years that we've been praying for revival, that we've been crying out for God to do a new thing in our land -- what did we expect? Did we really hope that God would answer our prayer by increasing our church attendance by 1%, improving our prayer life by 2% and "purifying His Bride" by allowing a few of our century-old moral deist members to die off? No. I am convinced that He is doing something radical today that we have never seen before. He's drawing lines between light and darkness again (Gen 1.3, John 1.5, 2 Cor 4.6), He's uprooting His Church and setting her back on the hilltop where she belongs (Mt 5.14).

Let me explain. Pretty soon, no one will assume the traditional Christian model of marriage as "normal." Permanent, heterosexual marriages won't be the status quo -- they will be an anomaly. Eventually, as families with both a mother and a father become more and more foreign, society will have a striking reason to ask about the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3.15). Stable, God-honoring marriages will become as unlikely as a Crucified King offering forgiveness to His enemies.

While it's exceedingly exciting to witness this great rescue of the Church from mediocrity, we must also recognize our enormous responsibility to repair what has actually been broken for decades. As Russell Moore admonished this morning,
"We must repent of our pathetic marriage cultures within the Church. For too long, we've refused to discipline a divorce culture that has ravaged our [churches]. For too long, we've quieted our voices on the biblical witness of the distinctive missions of fathers and mothers in favor of generic messages on "parenting." For too long, we've acted as though the officers of Christ's Church were Justices of the Peace, marrying people who have no accountability to the Church, and in many cases were forbidden by Scripture to marry. Just because we don't have two brides or two grooms in front of us, that doesn't mean we've been holding to biblical marriage."
We must return to preaching the true, all-or-nothing, gospel that we find in Scripture: the gospel which would have us deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. If we really are going to call our Christian brothers and sisters with same-sex attractions to deny themselves, abandoning what the State is now offerring them: wedding cake and married life and the American Dream, we must give our lives to demonstrate that this cross-bearing self-denial isn’t just for them! What Christ offers: the life of a bondservant, a cross, adoption as sons and daughters, a future wedding feast, and the privilege of knowing our Creator for eternity, is worth everything.

This is good news for the homosexual and heterosexual alike. We all stand condemned as His enemies, yet He gave His life as a ransom for many (Mk 10.45) without distinction (Rom 3.22-23).

Dear Church, God has heard our prayers for revival, and it is happening. Are you ready to stand your ground and lovingly preach the true gospel with clarity so that all who hear it may believe (Acts 13.48)? Can you set aside your political agenda to follow Jesus of Nazareth, the Servant King who taught us to wash each other's feet? Are you willing to forsake the American Dream for the sake of those who have yet to hear of their Savior?

"The Son of Man" by Full of Eyes ©2013

I realize that some may choose to throw up their hands and call today "a great loss for Christianity." But to those people I would submit that the first Good Friday, with its earthquakes and black skies, was just as much "a great loss for Christianity." But our Redeemer lives! And He is on His throne, redeeming. Even now. Even today.

Soli Deo Gloria

*1 - If the logic is that it is unconstitutional to "interfere with equal dignity," as Justice Kennedy claimed, then, by the Supreme Court's own admission, this ought to lead to the legalization of all types of marriage: polygamous, zoophilic, pediphilic, incestual, posthumous... you name it. Justice Kennedy effective dismantled all legal grounds to prohibit such things, because up to this point an appeal to morality was legal. Of course, the dominoes don't stop there: As non-biblical marriages gain protection from the government, Christians may face persecution for articulating their biblical worldview.

We have already seen this type of persecution in the UK, (more than once,) and Sweden. Additionally, first amendment rights have already been subtly chipped away at as well.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Why the Church Can't Support Gay Marriage (even though we want to)

As a Christian living in San Francisco, the LGBT capitol of the United States, possibly of the world, I love the gays. I smile when I see a family with two dads or two moms thriving and enjoying life. As the Holy Spirit regenerates my heart, everything in me wants to fight for the oppressed, stand up for the rejected, and speak out for the outcast. So today as the red equal sign goes viral on the internet, I want to change my profile picture; I want to stand with my friends who are earnestly hoping for marriage equality.

From where I stand, there are a lot of reasons why the gays should be allowed to marry. There are plenty of good political, economical, and sociological reasons, but there are zero theological ones. Since this blog (and my life, for that matter) is devoted to representing and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to explain why I cannot support gay marriage.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

In the Posture of Advent

I just realized that today, 12.12.12, is the last of the repetitive dates we'll see in our lifetime... I've taken them for granted these last 11 years; have you? 

On 01.01.01 I was a freshman in high school, Clinton was still president, no one thought about terrorism or knew where Iraq was. No one I knew had a cell phone.

By 06.06.06 I was a mother, Bush had been re-elected and we were going on our seventh year of the war on terrorism. The twin towers had fallen, killing almost 3,000. We had seen Anthrax scares, transit bombings all over the world, and terrorism threats abound. We grieved with Indonesia as the most deadly tsunami in recorded history killed over 230,000 people. The lesser known Darfur Genocide had already taken up to 450,000 lives and displaced 3 million.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

When Heaven Breaks Through

I often marvel at how anyone living during the first century could have missed that Jesus was the Messiah. (In fact, I have some friends who converted backwards from Christianity to Judaism: Blows my mind.) The Gospel writers saw Jesus' miracles--the signs and wonders that accompanied His teaching--as evidence that He was the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. The healings and the casting out of demons weren't just a big show to draw a crowd; Jesus' miracles demonstrated a specific characteristic the Chosen One must possess: the ability to "undo" pain and evil. (Ps 22.24-27; 146.7-8; Is 11.4; 29.18; 35.5; 42.1-7; 49.9; Lk 7.22; Acts 10.38; Heb 2.14-15)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Beyond Me

"Poets don’t go mad; but chess-players do. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom... Poetry is sane because it floats easily in an infinite sea; reason seeks to cross the infinite sea, and so make it finite. The result is mental exhaustion... To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything is a strain. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.” --G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy
I'm definitely of the latter type: the logician whose head splits, um, daily. I get lost in things like God's holiness (Is 6.1-7), the preeminence of Christ (Heb 1.1-9), substitutionary atonement (Col 2.13-15) glory in wrath (Rom 9.22-23) and divine emotion (Gen 6.6 etc) every single day. So I fix my eyes on the horizon of my understanding and determine to get there, not just before I die, but before I go to sleep tonight; before I close my Bible... And thus I attempt to make the infinite finite.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On Children and Crumbs

It had been a long day, and Jesus needed a moment alone. But news of His arrival in Tyre had already spread and the first to find Him was a woman--a Gentile woman. Her daughter was possessed by a demon; she was desperate. She had heard her Jewish neighbors discussing ancient prophecies of a Savior, a "Messiah" in their language: a Christ."Anointed One." If the prophecies were true--and if Jesus was this Christ--she knew He could help her daughter. 

She fell to the ground, pressing her forehead to the ground, and begged Jesus for mercy. His answer shouldn't have come as a surprise to her, but for some reason it did. "Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." Only then did it dawn on her that the Jews worshipped only one God. Of course. She should have assumed such a lone God would only have one people, as well. She rose to her feet and slowly turned to leave. Emotions washed through her heart like a thousand rivers. Stories from her childhood raced through her memory...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Euthyphro Dilemma

"How can God be both good and sovereign?" 
 "If God is love, why is there so much suffering in the world?" 
 "How can a merciful God send people to hell?"
"Does God demand what is right because He loves righteousness, or is it righteous because He demands it?"
We've all had to wrestle with these questions at some point. Maybe you're wrestling with them now. With such terrible tragedies plaguing the news on any given day -- let alone throughout history -- the evidence seems to declare, "Aha! Either God is not sovereign, or He is not good."

Let me assure you, you're not the first to face this dilema. In fact, Plato posed the last of the questions above over 2,400 years ago! In his dialogue, Euthyphro, Socrates turns to Euthyphro and presents the challenge:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Lamb Without Blemish

"For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service." - Exodus 12.23-25
How beautiful, how incomprehensible -- Yahweh sets up the ordinance which, 4,000 years later, will set the scene for the redemption of all men. “Christ, our Passover, also has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5.7) God wanted to show His perfect love to his creation through means of redemption. Could He not have done that absolutely any way he wanted to? Consider that He was the One who wrote the laws and designed the cultic ceremonies, feasts, and rituals (sacrifices etc.). So why did Christ’s perfect blood have to be spilt as the blameless Passover Lamb? Because God set it up that way!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hosanna to the King of Kings!

...from the archives...

"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." ~Zech 9.9