Uber Offended

Uber has done something that has the Internet really, really mad. Mad enough that the folks at Uber came out with an apology where they called what they did, “totally inappropriate.”

So what did they do?

Well, apparently it was Wife Appreciation Day in India earlier this week. So to celebrate the occasion and perhaps make a few extra bucks in the process, the company encouraged husbands to order UrberEATS and “let your wife take a day off from the kitchen.”

I’ll give you a few minutes to go burn something down in reaction to the horror of such a suggestion.

Here’s how stories like this work.

Someone does something that our culture finds offensive, which these days is pretty much anything. Someone from the Internet’s Office of Finding Things That Are Offensive then sends out screenshots of the tweet so that other people who like being offended all of the time can get really upset and also burn things down, either digitally, literally or both.

So you have some girl with a screen name like @progressivechick99 tweeting out, “Oh, no they didn’t.” And then there’s the gender fluid fellow with a handle like @multiplegender2000 who posts a meme of some guy from some reality show no one ever watches making a ewww face. Finally, the person from the Internet’s Office of Finding Things That Are Offensive writes a story with a headline like Twitter Slams Uber For Genocidal And Sexist Tweet, Nation Seeks Healing.

And then the offender, in this case Uber, apologizes.

As I write this, there is a hurricane aimed at the the Caribbean. A madman halfway around the world is threatening other countries with a nuclear bomb. Other madmen in D.C. are spending us into over 20 trillion dollars in debt. And the self-righteous gatekeepers on the Internet are upset because a private company encouraged husbands, not to kill their wives or run around on their wives but to take care of dinner one night for their wives.

If you’re not as culturally sensitive as these perpetually offended gatekeepers, Uber’s suggestion was supposed to make us all angry because women do so much more than cook meals in the kitchen. Also, men like to cook too. As do gender questioning non-binary girls who identify as boys on the third Tuesday of every month. I didn’t want to leave anyone out.

Have you ever watched a Netflix Original television show? These are sort of like the Wild West of television because they aren’t under the content restraints that shows on NBC or even FX are. Before I watch these shows I read up on them to see if they’re worth my time. More specifically, I read about the sexual content. I’ve noticed something in my research. A lot of the popular shows that are original to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are filled with nudity. More specifically, female nudity. So I pass on the latest binge-worthy show and turn a game on instead.

Now, our culture doesn’t find this ever present nudity offensive because it’s done by choice. The actresses want to do this. No one is making them.

Right.

Let the female lead on one of these shows refuse to do a nude scene and sit back and watch as her career spirals into the abyss. Within weeks of her decision, she’ll be off the show and making commercials for Crazy Pete’s Title Loans.

Do you see the hypocrisy?

Treating women as sexual objects is liberating. Cooking dinner for them is boorish.

When I came home from work for lunch one day this week, my wife and kids were in the backyard. When I walked back I saw my wife sanding a table she was restoring, my son painting another table, and my other son standing on the trampoline.

My wife asked if it was okay if we waited a few minutes for lunch so that she could get to a good stopping point in her project.

I told her not to worry about it. I guess you could say that I gave her the afternoon off. We also made plans for me to grill burgers that night. Bam! She had the night off too. Double score for her.

But after reading Twitter for a few minutes, I have discovered that I made a tremendous mistake. It was a bit cavemanish of me to do such a thing. The only thing I could have done that would have been worse was call an Uber to take us to Chick-fil-a. That would have broken the Internet.

Local Cult Leader Takes Wife To Hate-Filled Restaurant, Nation Seeks To Rebuild

Luckily, I don’t answer to the Internet. I’d much rather make my wife happy. And taking over for lunch and dinner that day made her happy. And get this. She really likes to cook!

I’ll wait again while you go burn something down and call the U.S. Department of Diversity Among Different Genders Understanding Meals In Togetherness (DADGUMIT) on me.

But later that night, while the Internet was raging about something else, I enjoyed a hamburger with my family that I made because I wanted my wife to take a break from cooking.

And my kids fell asleep in the middle of binge-watching The Andy Griffith Show on Netflix.

Man, we’re weird.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Chick-fil-a, A Love Story

When I walk into a Chick-fil-a, I feel like I’m with my people. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that my people would never step into a McDonald’s. Man, my people have been thrown out of McDonald’s before. I won’t tell you which of my people.

It’s just that when I walk into a Chick-fil-a I feel like I’m back with some of the folks who helped to shape me. I worked at the Chick-fil-a in Southlake Mall, just south of Atlanta, Georgia for a few years during high school and college. David ran the place. You were just as likely to see him emptying a trash can as you were to find him in his office. He showed me that no one at Chick-fil-a, even the really important people, were too important to take out the trash. Renae and his brother Brent were assistant managers. If they saw us standing around not doing anything, they would always yell, “If you got time to lean, you got time to clean.” I hated hearing that. But now, a couple of decades later, I’m sure glad that I did. Sam was there too. We spent a lot of time together busting up boxes and unloading trucks out back while singing old country music songs off key.

People told me that once I started working at Chick-fil-a I would get sick of the food and not want to eat it anymore.

They were wrong.

But now that I’m older I’ve had to cut back on the number of chicken sandwiches I eat. In my diet, waffle fries have been replaced with organic, free range unicorn fur. But last week I was on vacation so I put the unicorn fur to the side and took my family to the Chick-fil-a in Panama City Beach, Florida. As soon as I walked into that store, I knew that I was with my people. As crazy as it sounds, I looked behind the counter for David, Renae, Brent and Sam.

They weren’t there.

But in a way, they were.

The guy who took my order was wearing a tie. That meant that he’s pretty important on the Chick-fil-a chain of command. But he wasn’t too important to stop what he was doing, take my order and tell me, “Go Dawgs” when he saw my Georgia hat. I learned that he was from Henry County, just below the Chick-fil-a where I worked and just above the place where I live now. I asked him why he moved out of Henry County.

He looked at me like I was crazy.

“I had to get away from the traffic.”

He made a good move.

There was another lady behind the counter. She too was wearing important clothing. But she was working on filling up cups with sweet tea like her life depended on it. I’m sure that whatever managerial training she had in the past didn’t focus too much on the proper way to fill a cup with ice and tea. But you wouldn’t know it from watching her. She had obviously learned the lesson well that I had learned from David all of those years ago. No one is too important for the job that needs to be done.

While I was eating, I noticed another worker. This girl was wearing the standard issue uniform and she was sweeping nugget crumbs out from under the booth behind us and piling it up next to her. I’ll bet ten people walked through that pile and spread it back out all over the floor. She never said a word. She just swept it back up each time. One day she’ll probably run a Chick-fil-a of her own and get to wear important people clothes. But she’ll still sweep the floor.

Eventually, we walked out of that Chick-fil-a and back into the rest of our vacation.  A few days later, my in-laws stopped in and volunteered to watch the kids so that my wife and I could go out on a date. I don’t take these opportunities for granted so I did my research. I stopped at every beach side restaurant I could find and asked for a menu. Pretty much every one of them said something like this.

Chicken Flëur de la Crępe Scallops 

A one ounce portion of lightly grilled chicken fused with two sprinkles of scallops with a side of Flëur de la Crępe shipped in from a tiny fishing village in Germany.

$72.50

So for our date night, my wife and I went back to that Chick-fil-a in Panama City Beach, Florida.

It was all her idea.

I promise.

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Thank God For CNN

I knew that I shouldn’t watch it but I did anyway. My kids were in bed and the house was quiet and dark. The week ahead looked busy so this was likely the best opportunity I would have to see it. My gut told me that this would not end well. But I didn’t let that stop me.

That night, my wife and I sat down to watch a new show on CNN called Believer where each week Reza Aslan finds a new religion to be condescending toward. The episode we were about to watch focused on the relationship between Vodou and Christianity in the small country of Haiti.

The show didn’t disappoint. When it was over, I was disappointed. That’s because Christians were presented as religious crusaders for daring to build hospitals in the nation that is saturated in corruption and poverty. Vodou, on the other hand, was presented as grossly misunderstood. If you’re keeping score at home, the religion that motivates people to build hospitals is bad and the one that gets people to sacrifice pigs to demons is good. The last few minutes of the show looked like a commercial for Vodou.

This should come as no surprise from a network that spends millions of dollars producing and promoting documentaries in an effort to, “find the real Jesus.” In the CNN lexicon, “finding the real Jesus” is code for the Jesus of the Bible being fake. That’s right. The church has gotten it wrong for two thousand years now. Thankfully, CNN is here to tell us the truth.

We should be very quick to examine CNN’s version of the truth. This is, after all, the same network that likes to feed debate questions to presidential candidates of a certain party in order to help them to prepare beforehand. Truth, we should all know by now, isn’t so high on CNN’s list of priorities. It appears that trying to discredit Christianity is.

Perhaps, like me, you’ve noticed that CNN doesn’t take time out of its regular programming each year when Ramadan rolls around to, “find the real Mohammed.” You know, the rapist and child molester. Some of that could be out of fear. CNN probably doesn’t want the same fate that their counterparts at Charlie Hebdo suffered. To them, Christianity is a much easier target.

That’s because, in large part, Islam is built on the blood of the so called infidels. Christianity is grounded in and saturated with the blood of Jesus. In our world, acts of terror are much less offensive than God dying for the sins that we committed.

Islam is advanced by the sword. Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus told Peter to put away his sword (Matthew 26:52-53).

If anyone, even a bestselling author with his own show about religion on CNN, ever tells you that all religions are the same, you can be certain that they have no clue what they are talking about.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an appeal to boycott CNN. I watch CNN regularly and if you care about getting a glimpse into the secular worldview, I suggest that you do the same. Just know that you are being lied to.

But don’t let those lies get you down.

The book of Acts will help you to put CNN and their constant jabs at Christianity into perspective. Slander and persecution are the fertilizer from which the church grows. Acts is filled with accounts of the church being persecuted. And the persecution is much more intense than anything CNN has thrown the church’s way. But notice what happens after each instance of persecution. The church grows exponentially.

After the disciples are mocked and written off as drunks, three thousand people were added to the church (Acts 2).

After Stephen is martyred, Saul, the man who helped to make it happen, becomes a follower of Christ (Acts 7 – 9).

When Paul is kicked out of one region, he moves to another one and gospel growth follows (Acts 17).

And so on.

Christian, don’t let opposition, slander and media misrepresentations about your faith get you down. Be encouraged and know that it is from this that real growth comes. For a few decades now, some churches have tried to grow their numbers through gimmicks and give aways. At best, all those techniques ever do is draw a crowd. Real growth, or discipleship, comes when the church keeps its course through opposition.

CNN is no threat to the body of Jesus Christ. In reality, they are like a kid kicking over dandelions in the front yard. He thinks he’s getting rid of the weeds but all he’s really doing is making them spread.

So thank God for CNN.

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Does Christmas Offend You?

It’s one of those stories that’s supposed to make us mad.

But instead, it should cause us to take a closer look at ourselves.

The owner of a Florida restaurant received a nasty note from a customer complaining that the Christmas music playing in the background was, “offensive.” He went on to suggest that the owner replace the religious themed music with “holiday music.” Less “O Holy Night” and more “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Wait. I almost forgot. That one offends people too. “Less O Holy Night” and more “Walking In a Winter Wonderland”, played on organically harvested, free range, gluten-free instruments. That ought to do it.

This is the part where some evangelical leader will start a social media crusade urging us to fight for the traditional Christmas. When he starts, don’t listen to him. You’d be better off listening to the offended customer at that Florida restaurant.

Don’t get me wrong. Leaving passive aggressive notes about how Christmas songs offended you is absurd. Just find another restaurant. If my favorite eating establishment decided to play Nickelback’s Greatest Christmas Hits all through December, I’d find another favorite eating establishment. No passive aggressive note needed.

But this offended customer is probably closer to the true meaning of Christmas than those wishing to guilt the barista at Starbucks into writing Merry Christmas on your cup of coffee.

Christmas is supposed to be offensive.

It’s offensive because it’s the true story of a people whose sins were so bad that it took God coming to earth in the form of a servant to live the perfect life that we could not and to die the death that we should have. In case you’re wondering, you and I are included in those people whose sins are so bad (Romans 5:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:1-10; Philippians 2:1-11).

Are you offended yet?

We should never be surprised when the world acts like the world. That doesn’t make what they do right, it just makes it expected. The message of the gospel is foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 1:18-23). We shouldn’t be surprised when a group of people who are blind to the truth of the gospel don’t line up to sing about how their great sins caused the eventual crucifixion of the Christ Child (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Here’s what should surprise us.

We should be surprised when people who claim to believe the traditional Christmas story do not allow the truth of that story to play out in their day to day lives, both in the month of December and certainly not on a random day in July.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with the modern American church. We’ve stopped being offended by the gospel. We’ve watered it down so much with self-help and get rich quick schemes that we’ve missed the real power behind it. We think that our power and influence comes from having a seat at the table in Washington D.C. In reality, it’s found in an offensive story about a virgin birth.

Before we start launching our defensive weapons in the war to protect Christmas, we would be wise to take a long look at ourselves.

Sure, we sing all of the old traditional hymns, but why is it that the truth in those hymns often no longer moves us beyond anything more than sentimental memories of Christmas at grandma’s house?

Why do we live more like entitled brats than children who have been lovingly adopted into the family of God through the birth, sinless life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

We have traded in the truth that the gospel is God graciously moving toward his enemies to redeem them in favor of a gospel where God selected us like an NFL team makes a first round draft pick. “After all,” we seem to tell ourselves, “why wouldn’t God want such spiritual and moral standouts like us on his team?”

Secular progressives miss the true meaning of Christmas because they’re too offended to hear it.

But a lot of religious people miss the true meaning of Christmas because they’re too proud to be offended.

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Revelation 3:15-17 (ESV)

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The Witch Hunt Of Chip And Joanna Gaines

And so the witch hunt of Chip and Joanna Gaines begins.

What is their crime? They have committed our culture’s unpardonable sin of belonging to a church that teaches that homosexuality goes against God’s standard. And the good people at BuzzFeed seem intent on making them pay for their crimes.

Now keep in mind, Chip and Joanna have never publicly stated anything regarding homosexuality. No one has uncovered a John Rocker moment from their past where they went off the rails saying all kinds of mean things about gays. No, they simply take their family to a church each week that teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

Gasp!

The article’s author, Kate Aurthur, puts forth this question.

“So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.”

A generation ago, the $64,000 Question was, “Are you now or were you ever a member of the Communist Party of the United States?”

For Chip and Joanna Gaines, the question appears to be, “Would you be willing to flip a house for a gay couple and if not, when can we send the Sensitivity Trainers over to flip your home?”

Make no mistake, it’s not equality that is at play here. The prophets of the false church of LGBT care nothing about fairness or equality. No, their concern is dominance. And all of their talk of tolerance is a trick. The only tolerance they care about is everyone else tolerating whatever sexual appetite is en vogue at the moment. And they’ll stop at nothing to carry on with their bullying.

Part of the appeal of Chip and Joanna is that they’re like us. They’re regular people who are good at what they do. Chip is one of your buddies who jokes about how stupid he is. Joanna is the artsy lady you go to church with. They are normal, happy, successful folks.

And, for the LGBT brigade, that’s the problem.

In a world where seemingly everyone is offended by something, the most offensive thing a person can do is to live a happy, normal life that is guided by a faith that has not been previously approved by our culture’s sexual gatekeepers.

Much of the LGBT community thrives on self-identifying as victims. They have even gone so far as to equate their movement with the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King. In reality, the real victims of hate are those who refuse to bow the knee to the god of homosexuality. The Bible could not be more clear in it’s message to believers. We are to love everyone, that includes gay people (Matthew 22:34-40). But we must not condone any sin (James 5:19-20). And as we faithfully hold to that standard, we must expect hardship (2 Timothy 3:12-13).

But don’t worry. The One True God is far more powerful than the god of this age.

He cares nothing about winning a culture war. That was taken care of when he rose from the grave.

Because of that victory, he has won something greater, an eternal home for his people that cannot perish or fade away.

Christian, no amount of cultural bullying can touch who you are and what awaits you in Christ (1 Peter 1:3-5).

And non-Christian, no amount of rebellion is too much for the grace of God. The gospel is more than a statement on human sexuality. It is a declaration that none of us is good enough to achieve salvation on our own and please a holy God. A homosexual’s greatest need is not to be made straight. It is to be made right with God. And in Christ, that has been made available.

That simple message is what many in the LGBT community find so offensive.

But that’s okay.

Grace is always offensive.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

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Why Stand For The National Anthem?

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I can relate to Colin Kaepernick. Not because of the color of my skin. Not because I wear socks ridiculing the police or shirts sporting dictators like he does. I can relate to Colin Kaepernick because there are things in this country that I don’t like.

I don’t like that the murder of babies is a multi-million dollar, government funded industry in our country.

I don’t like the fact that we have lost anything resembling a moral compass.

I don’t like the division.

I don’t like the slow decline of religious liberty.

But, when the national anthem comes on, I stand up. And I make sure that my two sons do as well. Heres why.

I stand up because of Leman Sanders. He dodged bullets and caught malaria in the South Pacific during World War II.

I stand up because of Wynsol Smith. He’s still carrying wounds from time spent serving his country.

I stand up because of Marcel Tayamen. His family left the Philippines for the United States long before anyone had ever heard of Colin Kaepernick. He served his country in the Air Force during Vietnam and carried on with that service long after the war was over.

To me, even in a world of aborted babies and leaking religious liberty, taking a knee during the national anthem would seem like spitting in the face of Leman Sanders, Wynsol Smith, Marcel Tayamen and countless others who served their country.

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

I support Colin Kaepernick’s right to take a knee or sit down during the national anthem. We lose something very valuable in the country if we lose the right to peaceful protest, even if we don’t happen to agree with the protesters. The problem is that now, taking a knee has become all the rage.

I’m sure that there will be high school and college players doing just that during the national anthem as the season wears on.

U.S. Women’s Soccer player, Megan Rapinoe has refused to stand when the national anthem is played before her games. She’s doing it to raise awareness for LGBT rights. Forgive me for my ignorance here but I’m having a hard time figuring out exactly what rights the LGBT community are missing out on. The right to shut down even more bakeries?

And now the Seattle Seahawks have announced that the entire team will sit out the national anthem for their opening game of the season. That opening game of the season just happens to be on the 15th anniversary of 9/11. They’re calling it a “big surprise.”

Remember, just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

We’ve lost something. In an effort to have our voices heard, we’ve forgotten to go through the trouble of actually examining what it is our voices are saying. It’s like everyone wants to be Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat but no one wants to be the Rosa Parks who spent the rest of her life living in humility and on principle.

The government should not make Kaepernick, Rapinoe or the Seahawks stand during the national anthem. The employers of those athletes should. Their employers should remind them of people like Leman Sanders, Wynsol Smith and Marcel Tayamen. Brave men who served, even though they probably didn’t agree with everything their country was doing. Their employers should remind them of the little eyes who are watching them and who are likely to imitate their protest.

And their employers should remind them that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something.

A short while back my sons were getting ready to watch a soccer game on television. I was in and out of the room but I could hear what they were hearing. It was the national anthem. I couldn’t, however, believe what I was seeing.

They had gotten up off of the couch where they would be camped out for the next 90 minutes and stood with hands over their chests, just as if the singer of the national anthem were in our living room. It was a proud dad moment.

While they were standing, I didn’t see two sheep, mindlessly following the masses.

And I didn’t see all that was wrong with our country.

For that short moment, I saw two little boys who stood, not because they were made to but because they felt that it was the right thing to do.

Maybe, in spite of all of our differences, our country can get back to that point.

Maybe.

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What America Needs More Than Trump And Clinton

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America doesn’t need Hillary Clinton.

America doesn’t need Donald Trump.

I’m a Southern Baptist pastor so here’s the part where I’m supposed to say that America needs Jesus. While I believe that to be true, that’s not the angle I’m going with this. Of course we need Jesus. But quite often, Jesus likes to make himself known through his people. Even a quick reading of the Bible reveals flawed followers of God who were beams of light in a dark world.

That’s what America needs.

America needs brave young people like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who remain standing while everyone else bows. And make no mistake, there are a host of 90-foot statues to kneel before today. The most prominent one in our culture is naked and painted in rainbow colors. We need young people with the courage and love to say, while standing outnumbered, “I love you but I worship a different God.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 (ESV)

But that isn’t going to happen if parents care more about raising great athletes who make the family a lot of money than they do bringing up men and women with godly character. And it isn’t going to happen if students at church are fed a steady diet of entertainment and sermons about following their dreams. We need young people who stand for truth when everyone else bows but that only happens if the parents and pastors of those young people are committed to teaching them the truth.

America could use people like Daniel who aren’t afraid of the threats of the tolerance police because they know that the Lion they belong to is far more powerful than the lions sent to kill them. When the world opens up our closets to find a skeleton or two, they need to see us in there praying (Daniel 6:4-5). And when praying suddenly becomes an act of terror, they need to see us doing it anyway. Continually. With the windows opened.

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10 (ESV)

America needs prophetic voices like John the Baptist who aren’t afraid to speak up against evil, even when it means a trip to the guillotine. Far too many of our pastors are too preoccupied with building their brand or being buddies with the world to go through the trouble of being a light in the world. Others have no problem speaking out against the evils of the world but they do so in a way that leaves them only preaching to the choir. And that choir is made up of their own family members. Yes, I’m looking at you, Westboro Baptist Church.

John was different. He wasn’t afraid to confront sin but he did so in a way that the very man he confronted wanted to hear more. That’s because, unlike many today, John was fueled more by grace than anger. America could use a voice like that today.

And Herodias had a grudge against him and wanted to put him to death. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he kept him safe. When he heard him, he was greatly perplexed, and yet he heard him gladly. Mark 6:19-20 (ESV)

America needs churches filled with people like the Apostle Paul who care more about winning people to Christ than they do winning people to their favorite political party (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). The church today has consumed itself with either fearing evil or embracing the supposed lesser version of it. We could do worse than praying for the human instruments of that evil to come to grips with their sin, repent and put their trust in Christ (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Paul had to stand trial for the terrible crime of lovingly proclaiming the gospel. As he stood before the king, he didn’t respond with the proverbial middle finger to the government, as many are quick to do today. Rather, he responded with compassion, boldness and gospel truth.

And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” Acts 26:28-29 (ESV)

America doesn’t need Hillary Clinton.

America doesn’t need Donald Trump.

And America doesn’t simply need a better candidate. The best president history has ever known would have no real success in leading a people whose hearts are turned from God. Our Lord can work through any means he chooses. He has worked through tyrants before to accomplish his will. More frequently, he works through his people. But he doesn’t work through his people so that he can make America great again.

His aim is to accomplish his kingdom purposes. And regardless of the opposition, his kingdom purposes will be accomplished. The only question is this. Will we be a part of his kingdom purposes or will we be too busy clinging to our own tiny, crumbling kingdoms?

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The Offended Olympics

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There’s nothing like the Olympics to remind Americans of our favorite sport. No, it’s not swimming or gymnastics or track and field. It’s getting offended. And, so far, we’re leading in the medal count.

The good people at CNN were kind enough to remind us of the latest thing we’re supposed to be mad about. Women athletes, it appears, just aren’t being treated fairly by the sports media. No, Rowdy Gaines, NBC’s ultra enthusiastic swimming commentator, didn’t say that Katie Ledecky was a dumb broad who needed to get out of the pool and in the kitchen. But he did commit the sin of mentioning another swimmer’s husband and the role he played in helping her win a gold medal.

Gasp!

That swimmer’s husband, by the way, also happened to be her coach.

Double gasp!

Others are jumping in on the supposed injustices. Like when a gymnastics commentator dared to imagine that one of the young girls on the dominate US gymnastics team might be at a mall if it weren’t for the Olympics. The leftist, activist side of the Internet went nuts over the idea that a teenage girl might be at a mall. Here’s a tip, Mr. Gymnastics Commentator. The next time one of the girls on the gymnastics team wins gold, say something like this.

“Wow! What an accomplishment. And to think that she would be using her own bare, calloused, large hands to dig wells for orphaned transgendered penguins if it weren’t for the Olympics.”

One journalist committed the unpardonable sin of making the link between a female Olympic athlete and her NFL playing husband. How dare a writer even think about trying to make us connect with a female athlete who won a bronze medal in a sport which, until about three minutes ago, we didn’t even know existed by informing us that her husband plays for a team that even non-sports fans are vaguely familiar with?

All of this leads me to the following conclusion. We aren’t just watching the Olympics. We’re in the Olympics. The Offended Olympics. These games are different. Rather than jumping over hurdles, we have allowed our feelings to become hurdles that others must figure out how to navigate their way around. Oh, and our hurdles are connected to land mines so good luck. Instead of shooting at targets with bows or rifles, we set our digital aim on anyone who dares to question the narrative or break off from the reservation. Our dream team doesn’t have names like Kevin Durant or Gabby Douglas, athletes who excel to such a degree that they make other really good athletes look average. No, our dream team is made up of CNN and some blogger from the Huffington Post or Salon who in their continual victimhood make everyone else look like cavemen. Just as Durant and Douglas can be counted on to come through in the clutch, the members of this dream team can always be relied on to remind us of what should be offending us and of how evil we are for not already noticing.

Well, I’m sitting this Olympics out. Not the real Olympics. I’m still into those. I’m talking about the Offended Olympics. Sure, there are things I see that I don’t like. For example, on Monday night while watching the games with my wife and sons, there was a Nike commercial praising a transgendered athlete. Rather than starting up a boycott against Nike or going on a hunger strike until they release a new line of Bible-based footwear, I used it as a teaching opportunity to remind my boys that the world’s ways are not God’s ways and to encourage them to think critically rather than merely consume. I want them to be the type of men who question why it is that a gay man is validated by biology because, “he was born that way,” but a transgendered man is validated in his actions because he was born the wrong way.

But most people will continue to play the games. Rather than using their power to keep scrolling or change the channel or just forget about it, they’ll moan and ache and complain and fight until they get their way.

And then there will be no more games left to play and no words left to say. Sooner or later, everything will be too offensive.

In the Offended Olympics, everyone loses.

But hey, we all get gold medals.

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School Isn’t The Only Place Where The Satanists Have A Club

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They say that they don’t really worship Satan. He is, they tell us, just a symbol for their rational thought and atheism. All of that is just another way to say that they really do worship Satan. And now, they want to start a club in public schools. We were all shocked when we heard reports of this earlier in the week. That’s natural. But a deeper look reveals that we really shouldn’t be surprised that Satanists want to meet in public schools.

They’ve been meeting in our churches for years.

Satanism isn’t what you think it is. Sure, there’s an element out there that likes to sacrifice goats and drink blood while sitting around and listening to Slayer in the graveyard. But there’s another faction of Satanism that’s much harder to spot. As is usually the case with the devil’s schemes, this particular brand looks really good on the outside. To understand it better, we have to trace it back to its New Testament roots.

Things were changing in Jesus’ ministry. He was switching gears by talking to his disciples more and more about his death. For a group of people who were expecting their Master to be a mighty warrior sent to wipe out the Romans, this was absurd. So Peter pulled the Sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords over to the side to explain a few things to him. There would be no cross, Peter told him. But he didn’t just tell Jesus. He rebuked Jesus. No cross!

Jesus’ response is one of the most cutting in all of Scripture.

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:23 (ESV)

It’s one thing for Jesus to tell you that you’re missing the point. It’s quite another for him to call you Satan. That’s precisely what Jesus did to Peter. But why? We know that Jesus, the perfect God Man, never sinned so this wasn’t the result of a bad temper. Jesus’ rebuke was righteous, not sinful. Satan was working through Peter to tempt Jesus to avoid the cross. He had attacked Jesus with the same temptation face to face at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry without success (Matthew 4:1-11). Now he was giving it a another shot by using one of Jesus’ closest friends. The last thing Satan wanted was the crucifixion because he knew that it meant the beginning of the end for him.

When I was growing up, my church was always having these rock music seminars where we were taught what rock and roll bands were saying backwards in their songs. It was terrifying. And, to be honest, quite entertaining. The speakers at these seminars would always devote some time to showing us Satanic art work and hand symbols, the most common ones being the pentagram and upside down cross.

If we understand our Bibles correctly, it will be obvious that the symbol which best represents Satan is the invisible cross, not the upside down one. He can work just as easily through the eager church-goer as he can through the devout graveyard dweller. Just ask Peter. And his ultimate goal for both is the same. No cross. Since the cross has already happened, he’s now doing everything he can to turn our attention from it. A quick look at many of our churches reveals that he has been quite successful.

All of those backward masking seminars and record burnings in the 1980s were no threat to Satan. He’s okay with us getting rid of pentagrams, just as long as we don’t replace them with talk of the cross where Christ was crucified in obedience to his Father for the salvation of his people.

And today, Satan is okay with our large, relevant churches and small traditional churches just so long as none of those churches spends anytime preaching about, singing of and trying to live out the cross.

They may not be wearing black, hooded robes and slaughtering goats, but the Satanists are already in the churches. And, like Peter, these proponents of the sneaky brand of Satanism probably don’t even know what they’re spreading. But it doesn’t matter. Every Sunday school or small group lesson about becoming a better person and every sermon about taking your life to the next level or getting more money are what we might call the sacrament of the Satanic church – no cross.

No doubt, Christian groups will do what they can to try to keep the Satanists out of the public schools. They’ll file petitions and contact school board members. Perhaps, before that happens, Christians should address the Satanism in their own churches. After all, it’s hard to stand victoriously against the obvious brand of Satanism on Monday when we embrace the more subtle variety on Sunday.

Our victory will not be found in a court room or a school board meeting. It is found rather at the cross where Jesus won an eternal victory for his people.

We are, be definition, a people of the cross.

Anything less is simply Satanic.

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)

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Christian Singer Comes Out Of The Closet

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Earlier this week Trey Pearson, lead singer of the Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, let the world know that he is gay. And the world celebrated. The celebration looked and sounded like it usually does. Trey was praised for being brave. The Church was mocked for being bigoted and on the wrong side of history.

I guess this isn’t the acceptable thing for a pastor in 2016 to say in regards to such news but here goes. Trey Pearson’s announcement disgusted me.

It disgusted me because I couldn’t help but think about his wife and kids. Writing about his lifelong struggle with homosexuality, Trey says, “I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.” Trey says of his decision to leave his wife and kids and come out that, “There is a weight that has been lifted, and I have never felt so free. I cannot even believe the joy and lightness I feel from being able to accept myself, and love myself, for who I truly am.”

I grew up in a single parent family. Divorce hit me hard at a very early age. Much of my professional career has been devoted to counseling families and children that have been ravaged by divorce. I can tell you with full assurance that the weight that has been lifted off of Trey, leaving him feeling so free, has been brutally placed on the backs of his wife and kids.

Trey talks about growing up in a conservative church where he was taught that being gay is a choice. He says that he later realized that his attraction to other men was not something that he chose. It was something he was born with.

Let’s assume for a moment that Trey’s assessment is true.

Think with me then of how many husbands and fathers have been born with a bad temper or a strong craving for intoxicants or a seemingly uncontrollable desire to have sex with multiple women every weekend. Should we then celebrate those dads for “being true to themselves” the next time they blow up on one of their kids, or score some meth or have sex with a few of the girls they met at the bowling alley one night?

The difference, you might say, is love. Trey made his decision based on love. His biggest crime is loving another man. The dads in my hypothetical weren’t loving. They were destroying.

Ask Trey’s kids whether they feel loved or destroyed.

The reality is that our world has completely distorted the word love. They think that it is one and the same with sexual pleasure. It is not. Love is the man who has had a temper his whole life but takes the time to work on it for the good of the family he committed to. Love is the alcoholic who fights hard against his natural desire because he knows that just because something is natural does not make it good. Love is the man who is tempted to sleep with his coworker but takes drastic measures to flee the temptation because of the commitment he made before God to his wife.

Love and sex are not the same.

For some reason, the sin of homosexuality has been canonized in our society. It’s the new 90-foot statue that we must all bow before whenever we hear the music of the culture droning on and on about love and expression and self-identifying. And those who claim to be Christians are all too quick to join in on the fun. We should not be surprised when the world acts like the world. It’s when the Church starts acting like the world that we should be alarmed. Much of the confusion in the Church is due to the fact that, because of a lack of emphasis on biblical preaching and discipleship, people claiming to be Christians have bought into the lie that Jesus never had anything to say about homosexuality.

And that’s true, if you’re the type to pick and choose what you want Jesus to say. If however you actually take Jesus at his words, all of them, you’ll see that he had plenty to say about homosexuality. He condemned sexual immorality as a condition of a sinful heart (Matthew 15:18-20). He spoke frankly about lust and we would be foolish to assume that it was only straight lust that he was condemning (Matthew 5:27-30). And he condemned the god of no fault divorce that our culture has so easily embraced (Matthew 5:31-32). To say that homosexuality is okay because Jesus never spoke against it is the same as saying that it’s okay to vandalize my neighbor’s Mercedes because Jesus never mentioned anything about spray paint or luxury sedans.

But still, Trey mingles talk of God with his decision to embrace sin at the expense of his wife and kids. And as I was reading it, I couldn’t help but imagine what Trey’s reasoning would look like if the sin of homosexuality were replaced with another sin clearly condemned in the Bible but not yet fully embraced by the world. What follows is my altered version of Trey’s words.

“I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other thieves before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me as a thief until I could come to terms with it first.

I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about being a thief, and how I was made by God to be a thief, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.”

I do not celebrate Trey Pearson’s decision. No true Christian should. Our failure to celebrate will be classified as bigoted by the world and offensive by some who call themselves Christians. But we must remember how Christ responded when it was brought to his attention that his words could have offended the spiritually misguided Pharisees.

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” Matthew 15:12-14 (ESV)

Trey Pearson is being led by blind guides straight into a pit.

But there’s good news. Homosexuality and divorce are not unpardonable sins. God’s grace is big enough to handle them. Jesus’ shoulders are strong enough to carry the burdens that come with them. Everyone of us, gay or straight, is a sinner by nature. We were born that way. But God, in his grace, sent his Son so that his people would not die that way.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

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