Friday, December 1, 2017

Two Ways To Be A Bad Patriarch

Husbands and fathers, we have been given a great authority and responsibility by God as the heads of our homes. There are two easy ways to misuse this authority and place ourselves in the pathway of God's judgment. 
1. To fail to exercise our authority- like David, who "had never crossed [Absalom] at any time by asking, "Why have you done so?"" The passive father who does not actively lead his family has been given authority by God, but has left it sitting on a shelf collecting dust, and he will answer for the resulting disrepair all the more because he neglected to use the very tool God gave to prevent it. 
2. To over-exercise our authority, or to act as if it has no limitations- like King Uzziah, who presumed to offer incense on God's altar and thus overstepped his God-given authority. The father who exercises authority without love, or who acts as if his wife or children are to obey him without limitation, without recourse, and most of all without their own personal sense of duty and relationship to Christ, may expect a similar rebuke: "Get out of the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful and will have no honor from the Lord God.”

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Highway of Heroism

This article is by turns fascinating and heartbreaking. It is amazing how humanism takes us by the hand and walks us away from God's reality- and indeed from all true meaning and joy.

It's no longer about truth or reality. It's about the experience. It doesn't matter if you are actually a man- if you *feel* like a woman, then you must be. It doesn't matter if you are *actually* the little girl's daddy, so long as you make her *feel* like she has an involved father. It doesn't matter if you are in a committed relationship for life; it just matters that, for right now, she makes you feel good.

Thus we run from the real world that God made, a world of meaning, a world of true family, a world of covenant, a world of unconditional love.

All we want is the experience.

The highway of heroism has a high toll, paid in blood, sweat, and tears. But the game console version only costs a couple of hundred bucks and your manhood.

The road of reality is hot in the summer and covered with snow in the winter. Let me watch the movie about someone who traveled that road instead.

I'll get the experience without the sacrifice. The joy without the pain.

But that's a lie.

Because the experiences of God's World are not only about what we enjoy in them but about what they do to us. And if you remove sacrifice from the equation, you have an anvil with no hammer. The sword will not be sharpened without friction.

Remove the trial, remove the reward. Remove the race, remove the finish line. Remove the battle, remove the thrill of victory.

Rent a perfect boyfriend who plays his script to perfection and you will experience happiness. You will experience wonderful dates and comfortable movie nights.

But you will never taste looking into the eyes of a soul so close to yours that it is almost indistinguishable. You will never have your soul broken by the careless words of your best friend, and re-forged in the tears of her repentance. You will never discover just how deep your selfishness runs like rot into the foundations of your soul, or just how much you need Jesus to rebuild that foundation, or just how much joy awaits when He does and you feel the layers of flesh falling away. You will never know sweet tears or broken laughter. You will never be the last, longest-married couple on the dance floor at the wedding. You will never hold the same hand that you've been holding for sixty years, or wake up an old man to the same kisses you first tasted on your wedding day. You will never bear the burdens of crushing pain beside another weeping heart. You will never see overflowing joy spilling from your heart and splashing shimmering sparkles into the most beautiful eyes in the world. And you will never, one day, wake up alone, and feel like half of your heart is buried under six feet of earth and half of your soul is waiting for you at the feet of Jesus.

So yes. We can trade this life in for a facade. Yes, there will be less pain. The dead don't feel pain.

But neither can they laugh.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Is America under Judgment?

Eclipses and hurricanes and floods and fires and the conversation is inevitable- is God punishing us?

The answer is undoubtedly yes. But not necessarily in the way that we are used to thinking.

Throughout Scripture, signs in the heavens and catastrophic natural events are seen as being sent by God. However, unlike Biblically prophesied events, modern natural disasters- while being no less acts of God- have no clear word from God that says that they are anything more than His Providential and glorious weather-working. So could tragedies like Harvey and celestial anomalies like the recent eclipse be signs and judgments upon America?


If they are, do we deserve them? We murder our babies by the hundreds of thousands, we dismember and dismantle the most foundational elements of God's design for marriage, sexuality, and the family, we blaspheme our Creator, we institutionalize theft, we divorce our wives and abandon our kids- yes, we deserve them.

But do we know that they are judgments?

No. We have no direct revelation from God saying that they are.

It is all too easy for us to let physical appearances eclipse spiritual realities. We cannot know that Harvey was a messenger of Divine retribution- although it might have been. But we can know that God's judgment is very real and active upon our nation on a deeper and more chilling level.

As a country we no longer know what it means to be male or female. We fly into riots over trifles and are offended by the slightest transgressions. We don't believe in truth and are shocked that we cannot make sense of reality; we deny that words have meaning and then discover that conversation is meaningless.

This is the judgement of God. "And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind..."

There is salvation in no other Name. Yes, America is under judgment, and conservatism will not change that, Republicanism will not change that, even traditional values will not change that. Only real and lasting repentance before the One True God of Heaven through His Son Jesus Christ caused by the outpouring of His Spirit can save this country. It is for that repentance that we must pray and labor.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Crying Baby In The Room

I'm going to start off by saying that I unilaterally and unequivocally condemn racism of every shape, color, and size, white supremacy included. God made us all in His Image. The Sacrifice of Christ and His Gospel are offered to all people regardless of the amount of melanin in their skin. And God is the One Who put that melanin there anyway. Any belief that one race of humanity is inherently, genetically better than another is anti-Christian and immoral. There only, really, is one race- descendants of Adam. The question for everyone of every race is not about the bloodline they were born into, but whether they have been born again by the blood of Christ.

That said, I think we are contributing to the race-driven dialogue of this country by spending so much time harping on this wonderful truth. Unwittingly- indeed, against our will- we are allowing the Antifas and the Alt-Rights and the CNNs to control our dialogue as a church and as a nation. Antifa and the Alt-Right together make one tragic fiasco after another, driven by racial hatred; the media, loving a good tragedy, focuses on, meditates on, propagates that conflict and the worldviews of those involved; the left successfully sets the tone of the dialogue- "anyone on the right who does not come out and condemn the Alt-Right in the strongest of terms is a racist." And we know they have succeeded because all over the right are calls for conservatives and Christians everywhere to come out and publicly denounce white supremacy.

The right fires back by telling the left to condemn the racism and violence of Antifa and Black Lives Matter and the rest.

And all of these things should be condemned. But that's not the point.

There have been white supremacists and black power groups and rioting socialists before. They are advancing an evil ideology, sure. And sometimes a particular Klaner or Black Panther does something particularly repugnant, and I am in no way downplaying the evil of both those ideologies and the actions of their adherents.

But just because I am white does not mean that every time the Alt-Right guys do something evil I need to come out and disassociate myself from them. To consider me automatically associated with white supremacy because of my skin color *is racism*. Just because Joe is black doesn't mean that I have a right to automatically assume that he supports the smashing of shop windows.

The most disturbing thing to me about this whole issue, this whole dialogue, is that nationally we are becoming more and more polarized by skin color- not less and less. It is becoming less and less acceptable to actually look at one another as humans- to actually talk about skin color with all the same emotional freight as I would talk about hair color or height or dialect- in other words, with no emotional freight at all.

Frankly, I don't care what color your skin is. And I don't want to care what color your skin is. You're a human. I want to see you as such. To know you as such. To love you as such and offer the goodness of Jesus to you as such.

And if you call me white, it doesn't offend me. I'm white. Technically, I'm more of a light brown- at least on the parts of me that are regularly exposed to the Arizona sun. And I don't really care. That's how God made me.

"Black," "White," "Indian," whatever it is- it's not an insult. It's simple, common-sense English.

The simple fact is that the Alt-Right and Antifa together probably make up less than a tenth of one percent of the population of America. You probably don't know anyone personally who knows anyone personally who knows anyone personally who is a member of either.

Have you ever noticed the remarkable phenomenon of a crying baby/toddler? When everyone stops and pays attention to them, usually the crying increases. When they are given a pat on the head and life goes on as usual, they calm down.

I think it's high time we began ignoring Antifa and the Alt-Right altogether. They're a paper tiger problem being given real weight by all the massive attention put upon them. They are an anthill, and we need to stop viewing them through a magnifying glass.

When they break the law (vandalizing statues, harming people, etc.), they should be punished according to the law.

Beyond that, they should be devoutly ignored. They are driven not by principle but by emotion- an emotion that is fed by the swirling dialogue of our national conversation. That is the Marxist crisis-creation machine working in full swing. Let's not contribute to it.

We need to allow the issue of race to fade back into the background of irrelevance where it belongs and see people the way God made them- in His Image. Let's stop playing in their sandbox. It's just making everything more messy.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

On Modesty and Dead Horses

Ah, we have dug up the corpse of the modesty horse from the backyard once again. Grab your bats, everyone.
But it's not really beating a dead horse; more like a zombie horse; some battles need re-fought, and some need re-focused. In all the back-and-forth, we may hope and trust that God is honing the effectiveness of His Church.
Like most issues, the modesty issue really boils down to whether or not we are seeking God wholeheartedly. If we are, we can grow in wisdom. If we are not, then we will dig into one side or the other and stay there.
Blamers gonna blame. Legalists gonna legal. Libertines gonna liber.
For the girl who wants to feel justified in dressing in ways that are worldly and reminiscent of the Proverbs 7 woman, articles like the recent viral wonderpost provide the perfect ammunition to cast blame on the men around her. 
For the guy who wants to feel justified in ogling his sisters in Christ, any given call to modesty for girls is the perfect ammunition to cast blame on the women around him.
So the real question is- have we removed the log from our own eye? 
Am I arguing for "modesty" because I'm unwilling to repent of my own sin, or maybe because I am desperate to uphold man-made standards and too proud to lend an honest ear to a critique? 
Am I arguing against "modesty" because I want to be free to dress the way that makes me feel beautiful, rather than the way that best honors Christ and serves others?
We are all responsible for how we dress- for how it represents Christ, and for how it affects others. We should be dressing for Christ and for others, not for self. This would obviously include having some sort of standard for decency (and I believe that that goes for both guys and girls-…/magic-mike-and-male-mode…). (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
We are also all responsible for how we think. Guys, if we don't take our lustful thoughts captive, our poor sisters could walk around in burkhas and we would find that their eyes were enticing. "Girl, the bridge of your nose is causing me to stumble." (Matt. 5:28)
And girls, it's also unfair to tell guys to keep their eyes under control while posting drool-stained fangirl comments about the screenshot of Mr. Hotness, coming in HD December 2017. I'm just sayin', all that drool ain't good for your keyboard.
Somewhere out there on the war-torn battleground of sexuality and decency is wisdom. 
The devil would be happy to convince us that God doesn't care, and to render us as Christians just as naked and licentious as the world. "You shall not surely die."
The devil would also be happy to see us fenced up in a bunker of our own traditions and legalisms, so focused on this or any other peripheral issue that the Christ that we claim to serve fades into the background. "Hath God said?"
And the devil would probably also be happy to divide us into the two above camps and keep us busy fighting between ourselves and representing a divided Christ to the world around us.
We all know (or should know) that some attire is not fit for the public eye. If we are humble enough, we should be able to discuss one another's standards, learn from each other, discover how best to love and consider each other, embrace liberty in Christ, and seek wisdom.
It's not "girls, wear what you want." It's not "guys, think what you want." We're Christians. The whole point of this thing is that for every one of us the command is crystal clear- "do what Jesus wants."
So let's humble ourselves and seek God together.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reposted from my music website:

The filmmaking world is unique for a variety of reasons; the convergence of disciplines, personalities, passions and skills that come together to make a single production is staggering, and the community that such like-minded laboring forges is easily compared to the relationship of a family; the cash flows in torrents, circulating enough green rectangular blood cells through the body of the filmmaking community to support many thousands of professionals and their families; the end product will often be seen by millions of eyes in dozens of countries around the world. With such a huge industry, so much skill, so many relationships, so much money, so much exposure and influence, it becomes quickly obvious why filmmaking makes such a powerful tool for the advancement of the Kingdom of God; inherent in a tool’s power, however, is a corresponding necessity for the careful use thereof.

There are no seven day waiting periods for the purchase of butter knives.

So what are the inherent dangers and temptations facing us as Christian filmmakers? While I cannot claim to list them all, I would like to suggest three powerful lures that would love to displace Christ as the king of our hearts.

The first is money. There is nothing wrong with a desire to make money- to the contrary, we are required to provide for our own, and that implies making money. Furthermore, Scripture says that the laborer is worthy of his wages. It is not “more Christian” to work for free, nor is it somehow wrong to charge a price that makes our work profitable. But the problem arises when we see our professional pursuit primarily as a means to make money, rather than primarily as a means to serve God. We cannot serve both God and money, and in an industry so flush with cash- especially in the secular realm of Hollywood- the lure of riches shimmers bright and golden, and we as believers must remind ourselves of what is truly priceless.  (1 Tim. 5:8,18, Luke 16:13)

The second is fame. Your average McDonald’s burger-flipper isn’t interested in making sure that he is known nationwide as the most talented patty artist. But step into the filmmaking community and “who you know” becomes essential to professional success. You need a brand; you need name recognition; you need a social network. And these are simply necessary considerations for a wise businessperson. But it is a very short step from Christ-focused pursuit of professional excellence and self-focused pursuit of fame. A good litmus test for this consideration is whether or not we can rejoice in the success of other believers, especially those who share an identical professional pursuit. If my focus is on Jesus, and if I am considering others more important than myself, then when that other composer gets signed onto the awesome film project, I will be glad for him, praying for him, and excited to see God’s Kingdom go forward. I will also trust Him to provide for my needs in the way that is best for me- even if that means I need to get a job at McDonald’s! After all, if I am seeking first His Kingdom, then it is about His fame and not my own. If, however, my focus is on myself, I will struggle with coveting others’ successes, and I will not be content with the blessings God has given me. (Matt. 6:33, Phil. 2)

The final snare to beware (for this post, at least) is the idol of art. We creatives are generally quite passionate about our respective crafts, and there are few things more satisfying than making a ________ (scene, score, script, etc.) that turns out just right. But as satisfying as that is, it is ultimately empty if it is not subject to our pursuit of Christ. The goal of artistry is not just to create excellent art; it is to create excellent art for the glory of our excellent God. This doesn’t mean cramming a “pray-a-prayer” scene into every script, but it does mean that our definition of good art stems from our pursuit of Christ and our understanding of His leading on our life. It also means that if our artistic pursuit is not what God wants us to do right now, we will not cling stubbornly to our dreams, but will rather follow the leading of our King. If the question changes from “what does Christ want me to do” into “what do I want to do” in our pursuit of artistic excellence, then we have created a golden calf in the shape of our passion, and we have revealed the true attitude of our heart- more passionate about our craft than about our Christ. This can also be diagnosed with a simple question- if Jesus wanted me to quit filmmaking and go work in a gas station, would I be OK with that? (1 Cor. 10:31)

This all boils down to the simple commandment to seek first the Kingdom of God- to love Him with all our hearts. If we are doing that, then we will see that no amount of money, no amount of fame, no level of artistic achievement can ever rival the joy and perfection that is for us in the infinitely satisfying Jesus Christ. (Matt. 6:33, 22:37, John 15:11)

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Lures of Sin

Pr. 7 warns against the adulteress and her lures; I suspect that there are some principles in her approach that are reflective of all sin.

- Permission - although we know the sin is wrong, we try to justify it one way or another - "today I have paid my vows"

- Pride - oftentimes the lures of sin appeal to our pride, even back in the garden with the invitation to be like God - "to seek your presence earnestly" [It's also worth noting that she/sin doesn't actually care a bit about him; he is a piece of meat to her; but she will make him feel important.]

- Pleasure - sin always promises some pleasure or another; even while we are miserable in our sin our flesh still has a sick enjoyment in it - "let us delight ourselves with caresses"

- Promise - sin also paints itself as a consequence-free endeavor; "you will not surely die" - "at full moon he will come home."

So then, in fighting sin, we can watch for these commonalities and respond with a Scriptural perspective on each issue:

- As Jesus responded to the devil, who tried to twist Scripture into justifying sin, by quoting God's commands right back at him, so we must refute the justifying endeavors of the flesh by simply responding with God's Word. "I really have a right to be angry right now. I can't believe he did that to m- WAIT. The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God." (Matt. 4:1-11)

- When pride becomes part of the equation (which it almost always is), we need to identify the area of self-focus, self-exaltation, the area where I am big and Jesus and others are small. In the above example, notice the focus on self- *I* have a right to be angry; *I* can't believe *he* did that to *me.* I am no longer thinking of myself as an unworthy recipient of the grace of God who deserves nothing better than eternal judgment for my sin; if I was, I wouldn't be so worked up over something so small, but would rather realize that I don't deserve any better! I am also no longer thinking of the other guy as more important than myself. (Phil. 2:3)
-  We must identify the pleasure that sin is promising and remind ourselves that we won't actually get pleasure from this sin, even here and now; it will at best be passing and overshadowed by guilt. Then let us simply get a glimpse of the beauty and joy to be had in God's path of life, and the pleasures of sin will be overwhelmingly eclipsed. (John 15:11)

- Sin promises that "you shall not surely die." We feel like it's worth it; we'll get away with it and there won't be consequences. But we must remind ourselves that its end is "the way of death;" rather than looking at what sin says the harvest will be, we should read God's warnings written on the package of seeds. He has warned us what those pleasures will cost in 2, 12, 20 years. He offers life, and we would be wise to focus our hearts on the rewards *He* promises, which are far richer than any fake delights sin can offer. (Pr. 9)