In this day of #metoo, many men are facing a reckoning that is long past due. But I’d like women to understand one thing, a thing we’ve all seen and heard so often in our broken world: men are not the problem.
We’ve all heard it before: “I’m done with guys,” “all guys are jerks,” “men are pigs,” etc. But much like this might be the viewpoint of one woman and a few bad guys she has dated, not all men are sexually deviant or opportunistically handsy.
But men of character are here too; we do exist. Maybe that pessimism we hear is more rooted in the secular world but men of honor and Christian ethic do exist and I’ll tell you one reason why: because Proverbs 31 women exist.
Proverbs 31 is the jam for most Christian women. But a woman who believes that about herself deserves an equal man of honor and character.
See, as a single man, I read Proverbs 31 not only as a roadmap for who I want to marry, but also as a standard for Christian men to be able to attract a noble, Proverbs 31 woman. How can I attract this type of woman without being that type of man?
And that is my why. I want to reflect and muse about the intersection of men, women, the fallen world we live in and help further impress the ideals of Proverbs 31 on men and women: men to step their game up and build their character to match a Proverbs 31 woman. And women to let them know Proverbs 31 is a 2-way street: that a man has to not only want a Proverbs 31 woman but himself be worthy of one.
For most of my life I’ve battled with panic and anxiety. I hadn’t vocalized my journey until recently but I’ll try to do my best to walk through what this means in my life.
In my opinion, my panic attacks started, not as panic attacks at all but rather as incidents of low blood sugar. To this day. I cannot, for the life of me, gain weight. Imagine as a super rambunctious and active kid, I couldn’t always eat enough to keep my blood sugar in check. Starting about 5, I’d occasionally I’d have fainting spells and it was really distressing.
As time wore on, these blood sugar incidents would happen, I’d soon start to get panic attacks, separate and apart from any food related issues. If my parents dropped me off at a t-ball game to pick up my sister, if they didn’t come home from the grocery store soon enough, I’d get panicky.
You can imagine, those were more distressing still. And as my mental health developed, I began becoming anxious about the possibility of having a panic attack. And still, occasionally, completely out of the blue, I’d be having a great day and snap into a panic attack.
Panic attacks are HORRENDOUS. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone. So it makes sense I’ve developed anxiety about having them. For me, it manifests in a hopeless feeling I cannot get out of my situation, which is usually around groups of people. My legs feel weak and completely useless. I get very lightheaded, breathe more rapidly and I get very, very hot.
The most common place I’d have anxiety is the place I loved the most: the soccer field. I developed anxiety before games, leaving me, often the lone and best goalie on many of my teams, unable to warm up and unreliable to coaches. Once games started, I was usually fine but not always. Eventually I had to give up the game I loved because the anxiety was taking a toll on me.
The reasons for my anxiety have changed over the years, but were debilitating nonetheless. These days, it usually surrounds being in unfamiliar places and away from my apartment or car. This is what they call agoraphobia. Yeah, another layer in the mix.
You can imagine, being stuck inside through covid, I’ve been inside a lot like most people. And I’ve been ok with that. But now, my threshold for being comfortable outside of “safe” spots has been lessened. More on this another time.
As life has gone on, I’ve white-knuckled my way through various events, doing my absolute best to make it to everything I can. But the truth is, I can’t make everything. One of the markers for anxiety is avoidant behavior. And I’d be lying if I said I don’t have that. I will occasionally avoid situations or events I am anxious about or know will be anxiety inducing.
I’ve certainly tried therapy with several different counselors but haven’t gotten great results from that. Ultimately I’ve not found much relief but am still searching it. I know it’s out there, I know a more fruitful and fulfilling life exists. It’s been a long road up to this point and hope it’s almost over.
I may end up creating an adjacent blog to chronicle stories past and present in my journey. I’ve never been great at journaling or writing down thoughts but hey, maybe it helps.
Over the next few posts I’m going to open up about the thorn in my side as a sort of catharsis. I’ve been dealing with this for quite some time; probably more pronounced since middle school.
As life has moved on, it’s gotten better and worse over time, but through covid, it has really shown itself as an incredibly powerful foe.
I’ve had this disorder treated over time, prayed for healing more than I can count and not yet found relief. It’s extremely frustrating but I’ve never once lost faith in Him and His ability to heal me in His time. I’ve also been SO blessed with a perspective many don’t have and am thus able to better empathize with others who suffer and struggle to explain it. This is a thing that by its nature is isolating and being able to connect with others is an amazing experience.
I really do not want to leave any readers with this cryptic post alone for too long so I’m going to work on another post very soon to reveal the ailment and extent with which I’ve been afflicted.
Cancel culture is definitely in the zeitgeist at the moment but now is not the first time in history those in control of culture and power sought to silence dissent.
Of course I’m speaking of Rome in the time of Jesus. Their ultimate sign of canceling someone was crucifiing them on a cross. One source says:
The Romans chose this mode of capital punishment to put fear in everyone who would stand against Rome and Roman laws. The Romans would choose a popular place in clear view, lest anyone else violate Roman law.
The cross was the definitive sign of damnation in the eyes of those of the day: “what they said or did was completely unacceptable and now they meet this humiliating demise.” It wasn’t until Constantine more than 300 years later abolished crucifixions.
But what had become a symbol of shame and death had became a symbol of hope and life for Christians. To follow Jesus to the point of death on a cross was the ultimate sign of faith.
And now the cross is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. Jesus turned a symbol of scorn into a symbol of hope. Jesus is the only one who could turn cancel culture on it’s head by dying and coming back to life.
After reading my last post and the controversy about Ravi Zacharias, the next logical question is what do we do with the seemingly true words of biblical wisdom?
It’s a tough conversation to have: Do we watch or share his exquisitely insightful biblical answering of extremely tough questions?
This is my well thought out opinion: I think we can still embrace his answers to questions and lectures. Not an easy answer to come to but let’s go through this step by step:
First, let’s be clear that the messages Ravi was sharing weren’t his. They were the message of hope, good news, and power of Jesus. In this way, Ravi was sharing Jesus with people, just not living in Christ with other people.
Second, as noted in my previous post, EVERY person who shares the gospel is a sinful, imperfect person. We should never assume the person we are listening to is perfect but give grace because they aren’t. This means listening to other’s teaching with a critical ear for biblical truth and not truth as we see it, as a teacher sees it or especially as we want it.
Finally, I feel comfortable sharing Ravi messages (though much less so than before) because what he taught is truth. Paul was an extremely flawed man, arguably with sins more grievous than Ravi’s, but was saved by Jesus to spread His message.
Part of the impact of Paul’s ministry is because of who he was and what he represented to first century Jews. He was a murderous Pharisee persecuting Christians.
So imagine if Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans refused his messages. Refused Christ using a sinful man to spread His message among the nations. Imagine if Paul’s ministry was unsuccessful. What would Christianity be? What would the Bible be? What would you, at this very moment, be??
Of course, Ravi Zacharias’ ministry is not as important to the fate of Christendom but a true message from a flawed man is still true.
It was a shock to some, confirmation for others, and an enormous fall from grace for one of the world’s foremost Christian apologist.
Briefly in summary, the last years of his life, Zacharias was plagued with controversies ranging from inflating his academic accomplishments to sexting a Canadian woman who he alleged was urged by her husband to entrap him, blackmail him, and get money from him.
Ultimately, her claim was denied by his ministry, RZIM and a powerful man with means brushed the allegations off. But this second wave of allegations, made by spa workers at massage parlors he owned, were corroborated, several months after his death.
Of those shocked by these revelations are those who were led to Christ by his intellectual brand of apologetics. He was a titan in answering tough questions with biblical truth and an enormous amount of thoughtful insights.
Some have had the foundation of their faith completely ripped away. But the purpose of this post is for people to take heart. In Matthew, Jesus says “Take heart, it is I.” And of course, this is the answer to this place in life.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about who believers are/should be following:
For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:4-7, 11
Because any true, Bible believing Christian needs to be rooted in Christ. I thought about this today:
Who do you hear the gospel from on Sundays? A pastor. And that man? He is a sinful man. Your parents are sinful people. Your best, most devout Christian friends – they’re sinful.
Not one person who ever walked this earth, save one, has ever been perfect. Not that we can expect Zacharias sized improprieties from everyone but we cannot be shaken when sinful people…sin. KNOW your Bible. Bible literacy is one of the most important issues in the church today as Christian-light pastors continue to preach unbiblical doctrine.
We cannot continue to allow sinful people to be the foundation of our faith. Jesus is the cornerstone, the one upon we need to focus our gaze.
People who grow up in church know what I’m talking about: often during the worship portion of a service, you’ll see women singing and men standing resolute, hands in pockets, not singing a word, or maybe mumbling under their breath.
Why is that, I wonder? I’ve had this question for decades. I briefly went to church as a child but then never understood why women sung and men didn’t.
And it is still, too often, true. That tells me this phenomenon is not an isolated one at location at one point in time. I’m also not taking about the rare instance when someone doesn’t know the song. I contend, though, it may tell us some truths about the sexes.
To me, it says women are unashamed to sing in church. And it tells me men are too prideful or shy or manly to worship the God who created them.
Other than what I’ve stated, I don’t have any insightful research or direct evidence. But I do have a point.
Men: you’re not beneath worshipping the God who created the heavens and the earth. Drop the pride, lift the praise.
Women: do not date or marry a man who is too manly or prideful to worship the Lord. It’s a dangerous sign he is not willing to humble himself before the God who created him; how could you expect him to humble himself when he makes a mistake or when he raises children?
It seems like most people are drawing lines around themselves and others. A better title would have been Battle Lines but I have to keep the theme of having one word titles.
I plead with Christians to not be apart of a culture that draws lines and defines people by their immutable characteristics. It completely antithetical to the Bible and the message Jesus taught us to believe.
In Genesis 1, right at the beginning, one of the biggest tenets of the Word of God is shared with us. It’s imago Dei – image of God. The idea is that everyone is made in the image of God (though remember, not everyone is child of God).
God created humans in His image. Humans. Not the subset of humans you belong to. All. Humans. Made in His image. ALL.
Society has long been making others out of people who don’t look like them. Blacks, Jews, Italian, Irish.
But today, our society is breaking at the seams because of an insidious ideology that is, sadly, seeping into church. While it has roots in nefarious political ideas, I’m going to focus only on it being the antithesis of the Bible.
While it is certainly wrong to judge people based on someone’s skin or ethnicity, skin is only part of the division being imposed. In his work of fiction, Orwell called it wrongthink and thoughtcrimes but they are now anything but fiction.
Proponents of this way of thinking put everyone into perfect little boxes based on nothing more than skin color and an ideological difference. The end goal is complete compliance and monolithic thinking. This IS the plot of 1984.
By drawing lines, these people are creating an us vs them mentality. They disagree, we are righteous. They are worthless, we are superior. Whites are bad, blacks are good.
This secular behavior is bad enough, though some Christians certainly do subscribe to it. But worse still is if people try to leave the boxes the ideologues have put them in. A black man who doesn’t see himself as oppressed by whites, they’re castigated and disregarded with “the others.”
With a worldview like this, there is no room for Jesus. There is no room to see people as less or more worthy, or even give the perception that others may as well.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
For God does not show favoritism.
Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.
The Bible is clear. You cannot divide people by their race. Criticizing people because they think differently than you is not a license to other them, especially if they are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Last time I wrote about morality I did do within the church. Today, I want to share a bit about earthly morality. A morality we should never accept or embrace because it is not biblical. If you remember just one thing from this message, let it be this: morality is objective.
Why is America so divided?
Why do we continue to group people together and label that entire group as good or bad?
Why do people hate being treated poorly or profiled yet feel justified treating others the exact same way?
A lot has been made about Christians saying racism isn’t the problem, it’s sin that’s the problem. I couldn’t agree more. Because racism is a sin. A sin is a manifestation of a heart problem, a heart that needs Jesus. That means everyone.
I myself don’t subscribe to the idea that America is a racist society. There are racist people but there are too many minority success stories only America could generate to argue that. No, America is a sinful society. Because America has a morality problem.
America sees morality as subjective.
Subjective morality to its final conclusion says your people are bad, my people are good. Subjective morality says do what is good for you, do what is right for you, do what feels good to you. By this rationale it’s easy to reason that what feels good to rapists, serial killers and murderous dictators is perfectly acceptable. Subjective morality say you do you, Mao. Stalin. Dahmer. Bundy.
At these degrees of moral subjectivity, it ends with one person seeing another person as not a human. They use reasoning to dehumanize and subjugate another to serve their idea of good.
This isn’t how society is supposed to be. This isn’t how God designed us to live. Since the fall, we’ve been given moral laws to live by. We’ve had these moral laws (the 10 Commandments) written on our hearts (Rom. 2:15) so from birth we know what is right and good. When asked what the greatest commandments were, Jesus said to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. How’s that going America?
America isn’t seeing others as neighbors. We’re seeing them as a color, an occupation, a disagreement, stubborn, stupid, racist, entitled, privileged, heartless, provocative, anger anger anger anger anger. That word just keeps repeating in my mind over and over.
Subjective morality says anger is justified and vengeance is what feels good. Objective morality says God made the world, made us in His image, and there are things that are right and good. Follow them always. And that we are to follow the example shown by Christ.
I had a very scary and jarring thought yesterday and I need to flesh this out. Please stick around for a little bit of theology and a whole lot of conviction.
In the past few weeks, the Christian world has been dealing with the sickness and death of Ravi Zacharias. He is considered the greatest Christian apologist, perhaps ever. His way of intellectualizing the Bible was described in the often repeated phrase “helping the thinker believe and the believer think.”
Ravi often said locations and audiences are different but the questions are the same. One of those questions is: what about the Amazonian tribes who never hear the Word of God? What about people who live under oppressive dictatorships and aren’t allowed to ever experience the Gospel?
Yesterday, seeing the continued chaos from the George Floyd riots, thinking about how Jesus would respond, what God’s will in all of this was, it hit me like a brick to the face: what if we’ve gotten to such a bad place as a church where people WITHIN our own country don’t know Christ?
Whoa. My heart ached thinking about our lives being so comfortable we aren’t even willing to reach everyone within reach. How unloving is it to let neighbors and friends live without knowing Christ’s love for them? Without a shot at salvation.
Christianity is slowly losing adherents in America, how sure can we be anyone has heard the Good News? How are we doing fulfilling the great comission?
I often post a poem written from the perspective of a Christian’s friend who has reached judgement. I’m going to post it below. I post it when someone prominent dies to highlight the idea our lives are meant to love God and spread the Gospel. And it’s a reminder to me and everyone who comes upon it that we can and need to do more.
My friend I stand in judgment now And feel that you’re to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you day by day, And never did you point the way.
You knew the Lord in truth and glory But never did you tell me the story.
My knowledge then was very dim You could have led me straight to Him.
Though we lived together on earth You never told me of the second birth.
And now I stand this day condemned Because you failed to mention Him.
You taught me many things, that’s true I called you friend and trusted you.
But I learned now that it’s too late You could have saved me from this fate.
We walked by day and talked by night And yet you showed me not the light.
You let me live and love and die, You knew I’d never live on high.
Yes, I called you “friend” in life And laughed with you through joy and strife
And yet on coming to the end – – I cannot now call you my friend!!