Self-Esteem Kills

“You’re the best!”

“Keep it up, kid!”

*Applause*

My generation is built on hot air. We crave the tasty morsels of a compliment as a heroin addict sells his soul for a hit. We’ve been told we’re great from before we could even spell the word. Our homes were built with shrines honoring our early accomplishments. You got your yellow belt in karate? Let’s hang it up. As we grew up and went to school to be educated in the essentials of life, our only discipline was when we weren’t saying nice things to our classmates. Might as well have put a sign up in the classroom that read, “These are the forbidden F-words: Failure, Forfeit, & Freak.” No one failed, because we’re all winners. No one forfeits, because there was no competition. No one’s a freak, because we’re all unique. We were all great and even if it became painfully evident that not everyone was, we were encouraged to fake it. Now, there’s a useful F-word.

I wish someone was brave enough to tell me the truth. I think honesty is more strengthening than flattery. Character is built upon reality.

You see, our generation was doomed from the beginning. Our lives were built on the precariousness of our own own egos. It’s equivalent to building a skyscraper on top of a marble. We were so filled with lies that once our ego exploded in our face, we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Up until that point, we had never experienced failure or heard the sweet sound of rejection. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we need to stop affirming one another, complimenting each other, or encouraging a friend. That’s all fine and well. But maybe what we do need in our generation is a healthy dose of “you suck” with a side of “no”. Maybe that’s what we need to remedy this epidemic that’s killing our generation. Maybe that will kill our pride. Maybe that will drown our sense of entitlement.

I think this is where the Gospel becomes fresh life-giving news for the heart that craves a dose of painful reality. We’ve been so adorned with our own “greatness” that it’s become nearly impossible to see our own depravity. But when met with it, most respond with a deep sigh of relief. Finally, something that makes sense. I am fallen. I am mistake prone. I am broken. I am not great.

Depravity is good news, not only because it kills our pride, but because it helps us to see things as they really are. Yet we never forget, in our sin, Jesus came to us so that He may purchase our redemption. He is the truly great one. He is the one deserving of all praise. He is the perfect one. And it’s in Him that we find our true identity: great sinners saved by a greater Grace.

You suck, but God is good.

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A Far Cry From Eden

It doesn’t surprise me one bit what Tiger did. Humanity has never had a good track record with marital fidelity. I mean, God had to use one of his 10 commandments to make sure we’d stay faithful.

What does surprise me though is the reaction that’s come as a result of his statement. On TV shows, news articles, and twitter responses, there’s a collective sense that, “Tiger’s human after all.” Really? Does it really validate your humanity when one cheats on his wife? Now, I know it brings a mega-personality down to size when celebrities act like, well, “normal people”. But do we really have to say things like, “I hope Tiger and his wife can move on from this tragic situation.” (First & Ten, ESPN) When did adultery become something “tragic” that happens to a married couple? I can’t imagine Tiger “fell” into unfaithfulness. But while a society muddied in moral relativism sees this as just another day at the park, Christians ought to realize that this is a far cry from our Edenic identity. Men and women weren’t created to cheat on each other. It was never a part of the design.

Tiger, you screwed up. But it’s not because you failed to stay “true to your values”. You can try for a million years to live up to your own standards. And let me tell you, from personal experience, you’ll fail once again. And the next time you fail, you’ll think, once again, you failed to stay “true to your values”, but I hope then you’ll realize it’s much bigger than that. There’s Good News, Tiger. Our constant falling short proves our depravity. But there has been One that lived it perfectly and obeyed God’s Law. The righteousness of God is ours through Him, namely Jesus Christ. So though we may fail more often than we’d like to admit, Christ is exalted all the more in our weaknesses. For if we trust in Him, we declare in our failures that Christ overcame our sin. And by His Spirit, we are empowered to fight our sin, for if left alone, we’d be hopeless. That’s the Gospel, Tiger. We are weak, but He is strong.

Romans 3:10-11, 21-26, “10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;  11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one….21   But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished —  26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.


Is There Hope for the American Marriage?

Is There Hope for the American Marriage? – TIME.

“What we teach about the true meaning of marriage will determine a great deal about our fate” Caitlin Flanagan

Great article Caitlin. You poignantly call out our hedonistic culture and fun-driven self-centeredness, but I only wish you would’ve taken it a step further to tell the origins of marriage and its witness to a God that created and ordered the whole world.


It’s Only the Beginning

Don’t you get the sense that things just aren’t the way they’re supposed to be? I mean, the whole world’s economy is tanking. Thousands of people are dying everyday from ridonculous catastrophes and some very unfortunate circumstances. People of the same blood and heritage can’t seem to get along and fight over land. There are daily attacks on someone’s character simply for their position on this imaginary line we label with “left” or “right”. Polar bears & whales are more cared for than babies. The most respectable people in our culture all seem to be jacked up once the cameras are turned off and the lights go out. It all just doesn’t seem right. Something seems askew.

But the more and more I read the book of Genesis, I realize all this shouldn’t surprise me. The fall has immense and ever increasing effects that extend far beyond that garden. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at Old Testament history to see that it didn’t take long for sin to settle in.

But from the beginning there’s a sign of hope. It’s not just a glimmer, it’s a glaring light. God isn’t one to give up. He doesn’t make a mistake. Instead, He takes the mess we’ve made and has decisively declared a solution. The first beginning, or Genesis, was ruined by sin. But there’s going to be a new beginning, a new Genesis.

Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and  her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

From the beginning, there’s this glaring light of the Gospel. There will be a person coming that will crush the head of the serpent, alluding to a victory over sin. And since there are plenty more allusions to this person’s identity throughout the Old Testament, it’s not just a guess that his name is Jesus.

So, though the world may look bleak out there in these dark times, I’m all the more encouraged that this is just the beginning of that new beginning. Jesus came and crushed the head of the serpent inaugurating that new creation, the new Genesis. We’re living in that new creation reality, however difficult it may be to see it. Let’s keep our heads up folks, ’cause we don’t want to miss God’s beginning work of His new creation.


Grace, then Law

The Gospel is all about Grace, then Law. Religion is about do it, then I will love you. The Gospel is about I love you, so do it.

The Old Testament God is this way: God delivers His people from the grips of Egypt, then gives them the Law in the form of the Ten Commandments through Moses on Mt. Sinai.

The New Testament God is this way: God sends his only Son to this world only to send Him to the Cross to show His great love for us, then commissions us and calls us to be holy as He is holy.

God is consistent. He is the same then and now. The Gospel has always been good news. And I hope it always stays that way.


Christmas is for Babies!

That’s right. I said it. Christmas is for Babies!

It’s the most amazing miracle that never happened on 34th street – God came down to us. How ridiculous does that sound to you right now? It’s pretty ridiculous to me, for sure! But the truth of the matter is…well, that it’s true. God chose to take on human form so that His son Jesus could walk the earth more perfectly than any human ever could only to fulfill His ultimate purpose of dying on the cross and resurrecting from the dead, all for the salvation of mankind. It’s a ridiculous plot and story, I know! But it’s the Gospel.

The Gospel wasn’t meant to make a whole lot of sense. The Gospel wasn’t supposed to be just another story that’s told on certain days and then placed back on the shelf to collect dust. The Gospel wasn’t meant to create fuzzies in hearts. The Gospel wasn’t meant to fit neatly in packaging. The Gospel wasn’t meant to be peddled and sold. The Gospel wasn’t meant to tickle the ear.

The Gospel was meant to shock and overturn. It draws a distinct line on the most important issue of all: the soul. The Gospel is supposed to be amazing. Why? Because it’s about Jesus – the son of God who came down from heaven to this earth.

The Gospel is good news because God is Emmanuel – “God with us”. The Gospel is good news because of babies, especially one sweet little baby named Jesus.

Christmas is about the Gospel. Christmas is about a baby.


Generosity

I may choose expand on this idea one day, because there’s just so much to say about its Gospel implication, but I just wanted to share a quick thought.

Giving is lost in our generation (sin has made us stingy).

It may not be proper etiquette, but I keep an eagle eye on who pours their hands in the tip jar at Starbucks. I’ve come to a few very interesting observations about the type of people that give.

1. Some of the biggest tippers are couples and conversely some of the stingiest people are single. I think this is interesting simply because single people have yet to learn what it means to live by sharing one’s whole life with another person. With a healthy level of mutual sharing, in relationship with another person, I think one learns the value and joy of giving. It’s interesting to note here that married couples with children are sometimes the biggest tippers.

2. We often give out of convenience. Loose change is annoying. We’d rather dump it in a jar, rather than have it rattle around in our pockets. But when the change is crisp, light, and fits conveniently in our wallets, it’s harder to let go.

3. Connection often leads to giving. Whether it be a real smile or a quick exchange at the counter, if you connect with someone at a deeper level than they’re expecting during a transaction, they’re likely to give more.

I think we need to recapture a generosity that was modeled for us in generations before us. One wise woman said to me once that the richer someone gets the less they give. So true on so many levels. Rather, I think we ought to be shaped by the Gospel’s model of Generosity.

1. Give without reserve. Give without expecting anything in return or on any conditions. God gave Jesus, because He loved us so much.

2. Give it all. Give everything and the best of it. God gave His one beloved Son.

3. Give first. Give without being given to first, but initiate giving. God initiated in giving His Son to us.