Dark Hearts and School Violence

What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  For from within, our of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  All these things come from within, and they defile a person (Mark 7:21-23).

The flags of our nation are once again at half staff as we mourn 17 more precious young lives lost.  Gunned down by an evil mad man in yet another public school shooting.  Just a few weeks ago it was Marshall, KY.  Now Broward, FL.  And before that it was Sandy Hook, and so on, all the way back to the “original” in Paducah, KY.

There really are no words to describe what those parents and students must be dealing with right now.  No politician’s or even pastor’s words can really heal these wounds.  We mourn.  We are saddened to our core.  We are so sorry.  And we want all this to stop.

But nobody, it seems, knows how to stop it.

Predictably, politicians retreat to their respective corners and begin scrapping over gun rights or gun control.  And, although I am personally a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, I do not think it is helpful to castigate every person who thinks there ought to be some measure of controls over who gets a gun and what types of guns they can get.  That’s a reasonable conversation to have and at times like this we really must be willing to at least talk about those things and consider one another’s viewpoints.  While some gun control lobbyists really do want to strip law-abiding citizens of their constitutional rights, that’s just not true of everyone who wants to see some controls put in place.  Again, we all just want to see these killings stop.

While I might argue that gun control is one of the key causes of such shootings (after all, public schools are “gun free” zones that all but ensure students have no real defense or ability to be protected from evil killers), I should not resort to unkind name-calling or pigeon-holing when making my case to others who see it differently.  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  That’s to characterize followers of Christ even when we enter the political sphere!

Matt Bevin, Governor of Kentucky, recently expressed his deep sorrow over these shootings and pointed a finger at the home lives and culture our children are being raised in.  Specifically, he went after violent video games that glorify killing people, as well as music lyrics that encourage violence.  I have a genuine respect for Governor Bevin.  I believe, as best I can tell, that his Christian faith is true and he seeks to live it out as he leads the government of Kentucky.  And I agree with him that allowing our children and young adults (I dislike the term “teen”) to play certain games or listen to overtly filthy music is not good.  What we put into our hearts, through our eyes and ears and other senses certainly can exacerbate the resident evil in our hearts as fallen sinful humans.  And Bevin is right to subtly call out parents (though he did not do so explicitly).  I personally wonder when parents will be charged for these crimes alongside the children that perpetrated them while living under their roofs?  That might at least jolt some of our citizens to the reality of how broken our homes are in this country.  Fifty years of the sexual revolution and what do we have to show for it?  Divorce.  Single-parent homes.  Out-of-wedlock births.  Kids raising themselves or being raised by so-called “professionals.”  Drug addictions among all ages.  And “sex ed” classes in our public schools sometimes as early as elementary school being developed by Planned Parenthood that glorify all kinds of sex among all kinds of people with no boundaries, no right or wrong!

Darwin’s theory owns our public schools.  And if you think that theory only stays in the “science” classroom, think again.  If we teach our children they are animals, then why are we surprised when they act like it?  And when they do act like it, we have more professionals who excuse it away with psychological labels.  Mental illness.  If we could just get these kids who make threatening posts on Facebook into counseling or mental institutions, this would all go away.  At least that’s what some propose.

And again, I respectfully disagree.  Genuine mental illness plays a very small role in these shootings.  That’s what makes it so hard to stop!  These killers do not come with tags – “Future Murderer.”  And while sometimes, as it appears in the present case of Broward, FL, the killers do make alarming statements on social media, do we really think it viable to arrest every person who makes such posts?  And who then gets to decide which statements are alarming enough to get one arrested?  That is a very slippery slope.  Surely we freedom-loving Americans can see at least that much.  Most introverts don’t murder people in cold blood.  Most people who make stupid social media statements don’t either.

But I feel sure we all want this to stop.  Only the most depraved among us could celebrate school shootings.  So what to do?  The myriad issues are insanely complex.  My short analysis above hasn’t scratched the surface!  Politically and practically, I would advocate for the “Israeli Model.”  In Israel, all schools lock the doors and have armed guards.  There are no school shootings in Israel.  When we truly want to protect people, we do it with high level security measures, and our success rate is very high.  So, Americans are going to have to decide whether their children are important enough to protect with high level security measures.  And I suspect until schools start locking doors, arming and training guards, and scanning students who enter their doors, more and more parents will choose the homes schooling option.  At least in our homes, we can shoot back.

But truthfully, political and practical solutions can always only take us so far.  Because they do not address the human condition.  The human heart.  Not the organ pumping blood.  Our minds and our wills.  Only Jesus Christ can give us the true diagnosis of our condition.  God in the flesh knows exactly why 19-year olds kill 15-year olds.  And why moms do heroin while their toddlers play nearby.  And why dads abandon their wives and kids.  And why teachers believe the lie of evolution.  And why politicians and far too many pastors are too cowardly to address the true heart of the matter.  The heart of the matter is our fallen, sinful, hearts that hate God and His ways and love to exalt ourselves as ultimate.  Jesus diagnosed our deepest problem and need with crystal clarity.  We murder and lie and have sex however we want and brag about ourselves and look down upon others because we are sinners at our very cores.  We are depraved at the level of our minds and wills.

And there’s only One Heart Surgeon able to literally transform us at that deepest level.  His Name is Jesus.  And His gospel, His good news is that He came to live the perfect life we could not.  God the Father was pleased with Him.  Jesus died the horrible death we deserved because of our resident evil.  He rose from the dead to prove He is our Divine Savior who can give eternal life to all who trust Him alone for deliverance from the guilt of sin and for righteousness that satisfies God.  Jesus saves!  Jesus turns murderers into lovers of God and mankind.  Just ask the Apostle Paul.  And until this nation once again proclaims salvation in Jesus Christ alone from every street corner, every classroom, every pulpit and podium, there simply will be no permanent, lasting solution to our violent, hateful hearts.  Why not cry out to Jesus today for salvation from the wrath of God that is certain to come upon you if you remain in your sins?  Why not beg Him for healing in your heart?  And why not trust Him not just to make you right with God in this life, but to one day make good on His promise to make all things right and give you everlasting life with God?

Even so Lord, come quickly!  For then and only then will all our evil finally stop.

Contact UsShare on FacebookTweet This

Little Linda

My wife’s mother, Linda, passed into the presence of Jesus on this day, Feb 6th, when my wife was only ten years old.  But this is no sob story!

My wife’s maternal grandmother, Lucille, used to call her “Little Linda.”  Probably because Michele (my wife) looked like her mom.  And probably, I assume, because Michele had echoes of Linda in her personality and mannerisms.  And assuming this is so, Linda must have been a truly amazing woman of God’s grace.

While I did spend some time with Linda before her death, it was not significant.  After all, I was only 8 years old!  I didn’t really know her, though I have a fond memory of her smiling when she was first introduced to me.  She smiled at me even though her body was wracked in pain as she was in her last days of struggling with cancer.  She seemed happy, though bed-ridden.  But again, I cannot say I knew her well.

But I know her “little Linda” very well.  And she is the sweetest, most tenderhearted, thoughtful woman I have ever known.  The fruits of the Spirit spring from my wife’s heart and life!  She is a woman of love, joy, peace and patience par excellence.  And that’s really saying something when she has lived with me for over twenty years.  It’s a credit to God’s saving and sanctifying grace and presence.

My daughters could not have possibly asked for or even dreamed of having a better mother.  Michele has poured into them day after day, night after night, fighting for them in prayer and forging them into women who know what it means to live in humility and gratitude regardless of life’s circumstances.  They, too, must know something of the kind of woman their grandma Linda was; for they see her legacy in their own mom as she loves them fiercely, teaches them gracefully, and models Christ-likeness in her daily routine.

Meaghan and Keileigh – you are living quite a legacy of love for God and others!  Passed down from Linda, and seen so clearly in your Mom.  May God grant you His grace and Spirit to honor this amazing legacy.

Michele – you are so indescribably wonderful to me.  Your beauty and love is surpassed only by that of our Savior and Lord.  I love you and pray your heart is comforted in this time of joyful remembrance and grief.  May you anticipate with all the saints of God the day you will sing to the Lord with your parents again, face-to-face with them before the very face of your Redeemer-King Jesus.

I love you, my Little Linda!

 

 

Contact UsShare on FacebookTweet This

Self-Esteem: The Big Fat Lie

Screen Shot 2018-01-16 at 8.25.49 PMBy Lori Beard

Self-esteem=big fat lie.  Do you want to know the truth?  You have not been getting it from the psychology world or the secular counseling world for a very long time.  In fact, I think we have never heard the truth from those worlds at all in the matter of self-esteem.  We have, instead, as Christians, been buying into a lie that is eating into the fabric of who we really are and what our worth really is.

To be quite honest, I am sick of that lie.  I am sick of women being deceived by it.  I am sick of women teaching it to others.  I am sick of the church buying the lie of self-esteem.  I am just fed up.  So, if this sounds a little angry, well know this: I am pretty mad on behalf of Christ and His church.  So, here is the truth.

Self-esteem means to think highly of oneself.  Yeah, just let that set in for a minute or two.  Is it sitting?  Well, it should have sunk into the minds and hearts of Christians by now I think.  To think highly of oneself is ridiculous because there is nothing about ourselves to think highly of.  Now, if you have bought the lie the culture preaches daily on TV, in magazines, and over the internet, well, you are probably starting to either get indignant with me or to drop your head in despair.  Both reactions are totally normal because it is hard to let go of something we have based our lives and values around and taught our children from day one.  So, I am okay if you are angry or despaired.  Just keep reading a bit to gain some real truth and hope.

A normal response in our culture is to think highly of oneself and to teach one’s children to do the same.  It is everywhere we look.  TV promises beauty every day as soon as you get up.  When is the last time you saw an ugly actress or one who did not fit the Hollywood mold?  Magazines have pics of women doing it all and doing it in the biggest style.  And we are saturated in stories of how important and powerful women are.

This teaching is frayed for many reasons, but the main one is that the Bible does not teach this at all.  In fact, in Philippians 2, it teaches the exact opposite.  It says we are lowly and should recognize that about ourselves and take on the form of a servant to look and act like Jesus.  Try that curriculum out in any school or child environment anywhere.  It is a sure way to get yourself fired, or worse, shot and killed.  Teach our kids to be servants?  I think not. They are way too good for that. They are gonna be great and ahead of the game and achieve greatness on all kinds of levels.  This is what we are told to tell them when we raise them.  This is what we are told will cause them to feel good about themselves.

Oh poppycock!  What happens to their esteem when they do not do great things?  When they just achieve mediocre things?  What happens when they screw up and get divorced or have a car accident that kills somebody?  How does that teaching stand them in good stead?  They certainly have not lived up to the things they have been taught should give them reason to feel good about themselves.  In fact, they now know they are losers doing loser things.  What about the woman who marries a man she loves in good faith only to be beaten and abused by him?  What about the little girl who has been told those things and then gets hurt by the guy next door?  What about those women?  What about the lady who gets burned really badly and lives with a scarred face for the rest of her life?  What about the little girl who is overweight all through school and bullied because of it?  How does any of the teaching about self esteem help these people?

It sounds pretty. It sounds so good. It sounds so righteous but it is bogus.  It leads us into hurt and wound and confusion.  It leaves us feeling inadequate and always like we have to play catch up.  Esteem based on performance is bound to disappoint.

Why can’t we, as Christian parents, just teach the truth of the Gospel?  We have worth because we were created by God. We were created in his image.  We are priceless to Him.  Our worth has nothing whatsoever to do with us.  It does not depend on our looks or our achievements.  It does not depend on our abilities, talents, or gifts.  They can all be lost.  Our worth is grounded in God as our Creator and Redeemer.  It is solely based in Christ.  He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities.  How much more worth does one need than that?

We need to quit scrambling.  We need to quit begging for approval.  We need to quit depending on the opinions of others for worth.  The sweet truth of God’s Word is enough.  His truth is that we are so worthy because of Jesus.  He is our center.  He is our truth.  He gives all of his creation worth.  We can rest now.  We can live at peace with all of our messiness, all of our hurts, all our failures and all our wrongs.  Jesus is our worth and He is perfect.

“For in Christ Jesus, you are all sons of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).

Contact UsShare on FacebookTweet This

I am Woman

By Lori Beard

Let me confess right off the bat that womanhood is a mystery to me.  I can honestly say that after 53 years of being a woman, I am still figuring it out. That being said, I do know a couple of things for sure and thought I would pass them on. We deal in a world that thinks what we FEEL is truth. Well, that is simply not so. Truth is absolute; like 2+2=4.  Even if I wished it equaled 100,  well, it does not. So, it is with womanhood. There are some absolute truths to be known about being a woman.

1.  I am a woman. I have woman parts. I use them accordingly. I am a woman. I can wish to be a man. I can act like a man. I can talk like a man. But, I cannot be a man. This seems crazy to me. But it appears this absolute truth must be affirmed. I was created a woman. I will be a woman until I die. Absolute truth. Genesis 1:27; 5:2.

2. I am created with the same equality as a man. I think and act and feel. I have ability to reason and think logically. I can figure things out and solve problems.  I also am equal in position and importance to God as a man is. He loves me just as equally as he does my husband. Cliff is no more precious to God than me. I am not clawing for a place in God’s thought or care. He is faithful to his people equally.

3. I am different from my husband. I am different in that we have different bodies. Mine was created to give life and nurture it. His was created to provide for life and protect it. He is physically stronger than me but he is called to use his strength to protect me. And why would I be angry about that?  Why would I resent that?  When did it become politically correct for women to resent a man’s care and provision. It certainly does not mean I am incapable of caring for myself. It does mean that God loved me enough to provide protection for me. That is sweetness, but according to the world it defines me as unequal to a man. Since when?  I am not woman hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore. I am just a woman. My husband is just a man. Created by God and loved by God. Equal.

4. I am created in equality with my husband but I am different than him in roles.  And that is ok.  It is good. It does not define me as weaker or lesser. But it does help to define me. In my marriage, I am a helpmate. I am my husband’s helper. He leads and I follow. He plans and I help execute. Now I have a wise husband so, often he asks me what I think and we plan together. Often, he uses my strengths and tells me to do what I do best and gives me freedom to do it well. He is smart like that. But his role is one of leadership. Mine is one of submission. And this is an absolute truth. The Bible says so (Ephesians 5) and I believe the Bible.  There is no other truth. So, we have different roles and we also have different gifts. He is excellent at fixing stuff and at thinking things through in steps. I am excellent at getting things done quickly and seeing the big picture. We put those things together and we work pretty well together. Same but different. Good design.  God’s design.

What happened then?  What is the war between the sexes about?  Well, it is a created war. It was created by women who felt a need to be the same as a man. They were not content to be the same before God.  They were not content to be created in perfect equality as far as being  loved by God and having the same access to God as man. They wanted to be men. They wanted to do what men do. They wanted to be followed and submitted to.  This did not just start with women’s lib. It actually started way before that. Genesis 3. It started there. Eve took the fruit. She ate it. She gave it to her husband. She was not content with perfection. She was not content to know the creator of perfection. She wanted to be Him. So, she listened to the lies of the serpent and ate.

Women, I would venture to say we are still listening to the lies of the serpent. We are not content to be women. We are not content for men to be men. We want more. We want to design our own pictures. And, just to be quite frank, we have screwed it up.  In fact, it is so messed up that it seems un-fixable. It seems hopeless. Women in homes fight against their husbands with no regrets or sorrows. Men refuse to lead and love their wives sacrificially. Women demand to do whatever they want even if their bodies are not designed for it. Women dress like men and walk like men and call themselves men even though science agrees that it is biologically impossible to change your gender. We are screwed up. What do we do now??

I submit that we pray. We pray earnestly for God to change the hearts of the church. The world will never see truth until we are living truth and not just talking about it. So, what does that mean? Well, I definitely need to think about my attitude towards my husband. I need to think on how I speak to him. I need to pray about loving him with honor and respect. And I need to live that to the glory of God. And I need to teach my daughters and granddaughters what a privilege it is to be a woman.  I need to remind them that womanhood is not in opposition to manhood. It complements it. It works together with it to achieve all the glory of God in a magnificent design that we could never have imagined.

I pray I do that well. I fall short so often. But I know another absolute truth. God is strong in my weakness (2 Cor.  12:9-11).  His grace is sufficient for me on the days I forget the sweetness of my creation. I am a woman. Glory to God. What a gift from God.

Contact UsShare on FacebookTweet This

Harassed by all this Harassment

Sexual harassment.

What is it?  I imagine the answers to that question are too many to count.  It depends on whom you ask, right?

When I served as an Officer in the Marine Corps, we knew in no uncertain terms that any unwanted remark or contact with a female Marine was considered harassment.  The woman got to define it, so we had better keep things clean.  A very similar definition prevailed at GE when I worked there as a Materials Manager.

And yet I heard comments made by men about women, or specific female co-workers, that were not clean.  Not in the least.  But those comments were always made only in the company of other men.  Behind the backs of those women.  It was gossip, sometimes of a sexual nature.  Sometimes I confronted it.  Sometimes I ignored it.  Sometimes I just found a way to walk away and find something else to do.  But it was fairly normal and commonplace.

And no evangelical, Bible-affirming Christian is at all shocked by this behavior!  Honest women I know tell me that women often do the same thing!  They, too, talk inappropriately about men behind their backs.  And in high school locker rooms all across this land, crude talk and jesting is rampant.  This is how sinners live and move and have their being.  Sinners sin.  Our thoughts are not pure.  Our lips are unclean.  And sometimes we use our bodies to sinfully violate the body of another person, whether that’s a punch in the nose or touching when that touch is not wanted.

So I have been, like all of you, watching, with massively mixed up emotions, the latest rampage of firings amid allegations of sexual harassment.  At this rate, there literally will be no male news anchors left on TV in a year!  And we might not have any men left standing in public office either.

Please do not misunderstand me.  I do not endorse any inappropriate talk about anyone.  I denounce any sexual activity outside of marriage.  Period.  I decry any unwanted sexual advances or contact.  Sin is sin.  It is ugly.  Never justifiable.  And followers of Jesus, of all people, must affirm and embrace these truths!

“From the same mouth come blessing and cursing.  My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:10).

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.  Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which is out of place; but instead let there be thanksgiving” (Ephesians 5:3-4).

My concern here is not to defend any sinful or inappropriate talk or behavior.  Rather, my purpose in writing is to say, “Every man in any position of influence or authority in this Nation right now is walking on pins and needles.”

Why?

Because we ALL have sinned in these ways.  At some point in our lives, every single one of us has sinned in ways that our society now defines as “harassment.”  Some of these allegations reach back 25-40 years.  Does any one of us really want all our stupid, hormone-afflicted behavior as teens or college students thrown back up in our faces?

If the allegations are true, whether they are 30 years in our past or just a few months ago, we should confess them as sin before God and seek His forgiveness as well as the forgiveness of those we hurt or offended.  I have personally promised God that each time I encounter someone from my past that I know I sinned against I will do this very thing.  I want people to know I am genuinely sorry and thanks to Jesus I am not the man I once was.  And, praise God, He has blessed me to maintain pure relationships for decades now.  I give Him all the glory, for apart from Christ I am nothing and can do nothing of spiritual beauty (John 15).

And if a crime has been alleged, such as sexual assault, we need to withhold judgment until a fair trial is conducted.  I am deeply disturbed by the direction of our culture and media.  We are as Americans no longer innocent until proven guilty.  No!  Especially not if the allegations come from a woman against a man.  We expect that man to quit his job immediately, even if he is denying all the allegations.  Long before a trial.  We have already crucified him.  And even if the man admits to inappropriate talk or advances (but no legal crimes were committed), we still know he will get fired from his job and disgraced.  And so I say again, no man then is safe!  Because we have all sinned in these ways and if we’re not allowed to genuinely repent and apologize and seek forgiveness without losing our livelihood, well, I have no idea how our society and economy will sustain this insanity.

And frankly, I wonder why we assume only men harass women.  If you think the stigma on a woman making public allegations against a powerful or influential man is strong, consider the stigma when the gender roles are reversed!  When is the last time you heard a man make public allegations of harassment against his female boss?  And it happens.  Our military now has to deal with male-on-male and female-on-female harassment and it is devastating.    Surely we are not naive enough to think only men are guilty of these sins?  Surely we do not think it impossible for a woman to advance in a career through sinful means?  Surely we do not think only women tell the truth and all men are liars?

Or do we?  And if all women tell the truth, what about those labeled trans-gendered?

The spiritual ramifications of this ongoing saga are crucial.  Even in the church.  Will we hold our pasts against each other?  Or, as those who humbly confess our sins and plead the blood of Christ as our only hope of forgiveness and reconciliation with God and one another, will we embrace one another as the Redeemed Family of God?  Is the Cross of Jesus Christ the great leveler of all playing fields, or not?

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  

What is most disturbing in all of this is the complete lack of any gospel consciousness or biblical language to help us process and deal with it.  Not one dismissed news anchor has called his behavior “sin” to my knowledge.  God has not been mentioned.  The forgiveness of sins available only in the righteous life, substitutionary death and powerful resurrection of Jesus Christ is never invoked.

Instead, we just send offenders away in shame.  Much as we have shut away and silenced victims in our society for far too long.  We are losing our sense of hope!  Of forgiveness!  Of reconciliation! Of restoration!    

O dear friends, our nation needs the Gospel.     

 

 

Contact UsShare on FacebookTweet This
T r u t h