Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Category: Brother Al (Page 1 of 53)

Apocalyptic Structures of Feeling

The December ’22 issue of Harper’s has a cover story entitled, “Waiting for the End of the World,” with the byline, “Should we be Rooting for the Apocalypse?”  It’s hard to imagine having such a topic as a cover story even 10 years ago.  To me, it suggests that observers of our culture see our nation headed for some kind of dramatic doomsday, but with no sure hope or promise of a better future. 

The author Michael Robbins talks of an “apocalyptic structure of feeling” – “the general drift and atmosphere about the end.” “The thing about wanting this world ended,” writes Robbins, is you want it ended the right way.”  He closes his essay by seeing an opportunity in all the talk of the end: “Is it not when things are darkest, when all hope is lost, that one fights with abandon, shamelessly shoots for utopia?  For then there is nothing left to lose.”  Sadly, I see in this thinking no hope for the future. 

If we take God’s Word as our guide, however, we will not be “shamelessly shooting for utopia.”  We have ultimate reality in God’s Word, rather than simply an “apocalyptic structure of feeling.”  For two thousand years, followers of Jesus have put their trust in him.  A structure of feeling is an illusion, built on wishful, subjective thinking.  Jesus gives us a sure and certain hope. 

Men, be warned.  You will hear a lot of talk based on illusion but not built on reality.  Jesus created all things, and he holds it all together: “All things have been created through him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Col 1:16-17).  Revelation 21:5 tells us, “Look, I am making all things new.”  John tells us, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared” (Rev. 21:1). Jesus holds all things together.  Be assured he is in the process of making everything new.

We have a “living hope” in Christ: “In his great mercy he has given us new birth in a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (I Peter 1:3). I confess with the historic Church the words of the Apostles’ Creed: “On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”

Referring to these words, Luther’s small catechism states, “He does all this in order that I might be his own, live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting blessedness, even as he is risen from the dead, and lives and reigns for all eternity.”

Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Luther explains, “God’s will is done when he destroys and makes futile every evil design and purpose of the devil, the world, and our own flesh that would keep us from hallowing his name and prevent the coming of his kingdom…”

We live in a time when many are willing to accept lies.  Jesus warned this would happen: “Watch out that you are not deceived.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away” (Luke 21:8-9).  Men, don’t fall for an “apocalyptic structure of feeling.”

Real Forgiveness

Pastor Tim Keller has written a new book on forgiveness.  He believes the therapeutic age and cancel culture have created a crisis with the Christian practice of forgiveness.  He sees therapeutic forgiveness as more of a private emotional practice rather than dealing with one’s own sinful response to being sinned against. And because of our cancel culture, many young people question the need to forgive. They don’t know how to forgive, nor are they even sure they should. 

Keller observes, “There’s a cultural moment here where I think forgiveness is very important to talk about.  We live in a culture that is very fragmented, polarized, there’s an awful lot of anger, and people are really after each other. Forgiveness is not in the air.”

According to Keller, four actions are involved in real forgiveness:

1) “…Name the trespass truthfully as wrong and punishable, rather than merely excusing it.” 

2) “…Identify with the perpetrator as a fellow sinner rather than thinking how different from you he or she is… will their good.” 

3) “…Release the wrongdoer from liability by absorbing the debt oneself rather than seeking revenge and paying them back.” 

4) “…Aim for reconciliation rather than breaking off the relationship forever.” 

Keller examines common obstacles to forgiveness, including the influence of social media and how today’s therapeutic age focuses on self-interest.  He invites readers to consider Christ to better understand how he atoned for sin, and to follow Christ’s example. “Don’t let yourself be twisted. Take in what Jesus Christ has done, put your little story about what people have done to you in the big story of what he did for you, and you’ll have power you need to grant forgiveness.”

My concern in this blog is for men to be learning a “lifestyle of forgiveness.”  In the Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness is the only petition repeated: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt 6:14). Jesus then warns about living in unforgiveness. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive you” (v. 15).  A forgiving heart is an open heart. There is no grace for a closed heart that is turned in on itself in bitterness or revenge.

By carrying our sins in his body, Jesus can heal our relational wounds. Those who forgive are the real healers in our culture.  “He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right.  You have been healed by his wounds!” (I Peter 2:24).  Paul reminded the Colossians of their calling.  “Be even tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense.  Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” (Col. 3:12-13 – Message).

I believe God is raising up a whole generation of “strong-hearted” men. These are men who have processed the arrows that have pierced their hearts. They are learning to walk the way of Jesus. “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing.  That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it” (I Peter 3:9-10).  These are the “walking wounded.”

Above all don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the cancel culture.  Men with “strong hearts” will not allow themselves to be victims.  By the grace of God we move beyond anger and self-pity because Jesus is our healer. “Lord, help us learn better how to forgive – by your grace and power.”

 

Benedict XVI – A Gentle Giant

Pope Benedict died on December 31st at the age of 95.  For me, Benedict was an outstanding biblical theologian who integrated the head and the heart in his teaching.  Reportedly, His final words were, “Lord, I love you.” As a young Lutheran pastor wanting to integrate the rich spiritual tradition of the Catholic Church with my evangelical roots, Benedict gave me permission to embrace Catholic spirituality.  Peter Kreeft said this about the Pope: “What he showed me, both as Ratzinger and as Benedict, was simply a shining and encouraging example of what it means to be a teacher, a theologian and, above all, a saint.  He was a gentle giant.”

James Houston influenced me to pay attention to Cardinal Ratzinger back in the 1980’s when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a position he held from 1981-2005.  I appreciated his defense of a biblical faith that was under assault from inside and outside the Church.  The Vatican published the late Pope’s spiritual testament shortly after his death. In it he urged believers to stand strong in the faith, even in face of philosophical and scientific opposition. “I saw and see how out of the tangle of assumptions the reasonableness of faith emerged and emerges again. Jesus Christ is truly the way, the truth and the life – and the Church, with all its insufficiencies, is truly His body.”

As a Cardinal, Ratzinger reflected on the church’s future in a 1969 broadcast in Germany. Many believe he was prophetic in his comments: “From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much.  She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning… In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision.  As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.” 

As my wife and I try to make sense of what is happening in our world, these words seem to fit what we anticipate happening in the future. God is purifying His church.  Those who are committed to Jesus and his kingdom will be forming into “small societies.” People of various traditions will find new life as they band together.

The Pope then made an observation that seems to relate to our present identity as believers: “…The Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world… The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right.” “The process,” warned the Pope, “will be all the more arduous, for sectarian, narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will have to be shed.”  

Men, may these words of Pope Benedict motivate and inspire you to keep the faith. Jesus warned us that “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12).  Ratzinger’s teaching always had “a laser-sharp focus on Jesus Christ as the unsurpassable revelation of God’s love,” notes John Cavadini.  “Not only is he a brilliant theologian, but he is always pastoral in his approach, always trying to help people see what our religion means and why it is important.” In other words, men, always make Jesus your center – and the first and last word in all matters.

 

 

Don’t Waste Your Breath

In light of the dominant cultural narrative and yet another contentious election year, we need to be reminded that the Lord Jesus is holding all things together.  “Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth.  He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – kings, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities. Everything has been created through him and for him.  He existed before everything else began, and he holds all creation together” (Col. 1:16-17).  Jesus will return and culminate all this by giving the kingdom back to His Father “who gave his Son authority over all things” and make him “utterly supreme over everything everywhere” (I Cor. 15:28).      

We need to remember often who really is in charge.  In Matt. 28, Jesus tells us, “I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth.”  It is all too easy to think of ourselves as the potter rather than the clay.  In Jeremiah 18, the prophet is told to “go down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made.  I will speak to you while you are there” (v.2).  Jeremiah observed the potter rejecting a jar that did not turn out as the potter had hoped.  “So the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started over” (v.4).  God reminded Judah (as He reminds us), “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter had done to his clay?  As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand” (v.5). 

God then declared, “If I announce that I will build up and plant a certain nation or kingdom, making it strong and great, but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless that nation as I said I would” (v.9-10).  Jeremiah was to go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem: “This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster against you instead of good.  So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right” (v.11). 

Then we have this fateful reply from the people: “Don’t waste your breath We will continue to live as we want to, following our own evil desires” (v.12).  God was preparing disaster for his people. Only if there was repentance could that disaster be averted.  God knew their hearts; he knew their response would be, “Don’t waste your breath.”  This accurately describes much of our public mindset today.   

In Isaiah 29, the prophet accuses the people of hiding their plans from the Lord. “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from them the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?'” (v.15).  Isaiah confronts this mindset: “How stupid can you be?  He is the potter, and he is certainly greater than you. You are only the jars he makes!  Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, ‘He didn’t make us?’  Does a jar ever say, ‘The potter who made me is stupid'”? (v.16).   How true this is of our nation’s present mentality.

May our response be like Isaiah’s when he later acknowledges God as our creator: “…Yet, Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter.  We are all formed by your hand” (Is. 64:8).  He then cries out to God in prayer: “Oh, don’t be so angry with us, Lord.  Please don’t remember our sins forever.  Look at us, we pray, and see that we are all your people” (Is. 64:9).  

Slippery Ice

In an article in Mere Orthodoxy, Leah Libresco Sargeant points to the need for traditions in culture: “Traditions are tutorials in practical wisdom.  At their best, they are desired paths, wearing a clear trail to follow through the landscape, shaped by the experiences of many prior walkers.”  She quotes philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein on the danger of losing clear trails, walking rather on slippery ice: “We have got onto slippery ice where there is no friction and so in a certain sense the conditions are ideal, but also, just because of that, we are unable to walk: so we need friction. Back to the rough ground.”

We certainly seem to be slipping a great deal today.  With so many opinionated voices pontificating on the future, the impression is given of a group of children, sliding on the ice, indifferent to any possible collisions… simply enjoying their freedom without regard to any consequences. Growing up in northern Michigan, I have fond memories of playing on ice with my buddies, unaware of ensuing chaos.  The illusion of safely playing on ice was soon met with the reality of painful accidents.  I remember the bumps and bruises received from playing so carefree on the ice.  

This image of slippery ice reminds me of Jesus asking his generation if they were really listening to him.  Remember: John the Baptist portrayed Jesus as “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him'” (Matt. 3:3).  Jesus asked, “How can I account for this generation? The people have been like spoiled children whining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope, and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk, but you were always too busy.’ John came fasting and they called him crazy.  I came feasting and they called me a lush, a friend of the riffraff.  Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they?  The proof of the pudding is in the eating” (Matt. 11:16-19 – Message).  Are we listening to Jesus or are we more concerned about the opinions of our culture?

Slipping on ice is like having our finger in the air, paying more attention to opinion polls than to the potential consequences of slipping on the ice.  Without traction there is little hope of finding direction for the future.  We will continue to be like children, enjoying our freedom, with no sense of direction? How can one make sense of this carefree chaos, when this seems to be the dominant narrative?      

As followers of Jesus, we belong to the “Way” (Acts 9:2).  We walk on the ancient paths of pilgrims who have gone before us.  Jeremiah warns us of a crossroads: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls ” (Jer. 6:16).  It behooves us to get “back to the rough ground.”  It may not seem like freedom, but it helps us prepare for the collisions ahead.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are “surrounded by… a great cloud of witnesses.”  We embrace “the great tradition” – walking in the path of those who have gone before. We belong to the communion of saints. To maintain our focus on the great tradition and the well-traveled paths, we need community.  “The nature of tradition,” notes Sargeant, “is that it is too large to be contained in only one person’s life.”  We need to cultivate the work of living an alternative to the dominant culture.  This can be found in the body of Christ.  

 

 

 

Armageddon

As tensions increase around the world, the word “Armageddon” is being used to describe the coming days. Even President Biden used this term recently. But as followers of Jesus we need to be clear on what this term means. It comes from the book of Revelation: “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Rev. 16:16).

This verse appears after the sixth bowl containing God’s wrath was poured out on the earth: “Bowl six is the last punishment, bringing death to them [the unrepentant]. Satan’s purpose is to assert his power; God’s is to prosecute his justice. The result is the same: Armageddon (Rev. 16:16  Bible Speaks Today). When ‘the great day of God Almighty’ comes, the powers of this world will find themselves suddenly confronted by their rejected Lord. That battle will be the last” (16:14 BST).

We need to be sure we’re on the right side of that great, coming battle.  In Luke 10, Jesus is accused of driving out demons “by Beelzebub, the prince of demons” (Luke 10:14). Jesus had shown the power of the Spirit of God to be greater than the spirit of evil. The strong man (Satan) is the evil power who guards his own house. But Jesus is more powerful, being able to bring about a successful coup.  

The Message gives this description of Jesus, the Stronger Man: “When a strong man, armed to the teeth, stands guard in his front yard, his property is safe and sound. But what if a stronger man comes along with superior weapons?  Then he’s beaten at his own game, the arsenal that gave him such confidence hauled off, and his precious possessions plundered” (Luke 11:21-22 MSG).

We also have these fateful words: “This is war, and there is no neutral ground.  If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse” (Luke 11:23 MSG).  The challenge for each of us is to be continually evaluating our priorities as we try to follow Him in a day of intensifying conflict between good and evil. There is no neutral ground. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  However, Jesus clearly tells us, “…If I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you” (Luke 11: 20 NLT). 

In this same context Jesus warns about being alert and on guard: “When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, searching for rest.  But when it finds none, it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’  So it returns and finds that its former home is all swept and clean.  Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there.  And so that person is worse off than before” (Luke 11:24-26 NLT).  

Could it be that spiritually we are “worse off than before” as a nation?  Has the enemy of our souls tempted us to become negligent in our own spiritual lives?  I plead with the men reading this blog:  be fully aware of the fight we are in.  It is on the surface very complex and confusing.  But underneath it’s simply the continuing battle of the ages; between evil and good – the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God.

You might not like to be reminded of this battle.  If so, you have already become captive to the forces of darkness.  Remember: we are at war. We need to choose what is right – and then fight. 

Eat This Scroll

I recently watched a video of protesters at UW-Madison demonstrating against the campus appearance of a conservative commentator. The video shows students surrounding and shouting down a young man reading aloud from the Scriptures. One protester used his teeth to shred ripped-out pages of the Bible, while spitting on pages on the ground.  It also showed a woman with red-dyed hair shoving pages from a torn-up Bible into her mouth. It was a vivid demonstration of contempt for the Word of God. 

When I saw protesters eating pages of Scripture, I thought of the prophets. Both Ezekiel (2:9-3:3) and Jeremiah (15:16) were told to eat the word of God – and for both it was a much more positive experience.  Ezekiel said, “So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth” (3:3).  Jeremiah explained, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight” (15:16).

Conversely, John was commanded in Revelation 10:9-11 to eat a little scroll provided by an angel. Unlike the prophets, the Word became sour for John. “It tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour.”  The Word can have both positive and negative effects on those who take it in.  For these protesters, it was definitely negative.  The distaste for God’s Word was demonstrated right before our eyes as protesters were literally eating the Bible with disdain.  What can we learn from all this?

First, there is often contempt for the message of the Bible.  Satan, the father of lies, will do all he can to discredit, distort and falsify the teachings of Scripture.  These young protesters believed the lie. Jesus warned about the devil: “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies’ (John 8:44).  Scripture reveals Satan to be a contemptuous liar.  

Secondly, the simple practice of reading Scripture aloud in public has power. Those who are so strongly opposed to its message were enraged at the public declaration of simple words of truth.  Jesus told Pilate, “…For this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).  Paul warned, “The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars” (I Tim. 4:1 – Message).  

Thirdly, proclaiming truth brings to light the untruths of the enemy.  Through the Word of truth, Satan is exposed as a deceiver.  The enemy traffics in half-truths in our nation’s popular narrative.  Just enough truth to be harmless is his preferred approach.  We are warned, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy” (II Tim. 4:3 – Message). 

Fourthly, the enemy spreads his message very effectively through popular media.  I heard one commentator describe propaganda in two sentences:  “First, you are told what you want to hear.  Then you are told what to believe.”  Peter warned, “You must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires” (II Peter 3:3).  These impressionable students were scoffing at the Good News of Jesus.   

Lord, help us to reach out with compassion to those who show contempt for you and your Word.

The Good Life

In an article found in Newsmax, Lynn Allison reported on a study that concluded: “The good life is built with good relationships.”  “A rare study that tracked the lives of 724 men for nearly 80 years revealed the most powerful indicator of success and happiness doesn’t lie in our genes, wealth, social class, or IQ.  The Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest study of adult behavior, found that strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier.” 

This study began in l938.  For the next 79 years, participants were asked “about their work, their lives, and their health. Results showed that flourishing in life is linked to having close ties with family, friends and community.”  Robert Waldinger (one of the study’s authors, as well as a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital) observed, “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health…Taking care of your body is important, but tending to your relationships is a form of self-care, too. That, I think, is the revelation.”  

“The sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely,” Dr. Waldinger noted.  In his opinion, rather than “focusing on the quantity of friendships, it is important to focus on the quality.” The author of the article noted, “the study found that conflict adversely affects our health so, for example, a bad marriage is less healthy than getting a divorce.  And having a warm, wholehearted relationship is protective.”  

Numerous reports speak to the epidemic of loneliness among men in our society. For example, David French noted, “Between 1990 and 2021, the percentage of men who reported having no close friends quintupled, from 3 percent to 15 percent.  The percentage who reported ten or more close friends shrank from 40 percent to 15 percent.”  In French’s opinion, the answer to our culture’s crisis in masculinity is found, “in distinct, virtuous masculine relationships.”

This leads to the question each man needs to ask: “Am I intentionally building soulful friendships with other men?”  Since moving to Baxter almost four years ago, I have prayed to be in a soul care group with other men.  I found Dan and Bruce in my church.  What have I learned from this experience?

First, be intentional.  I have waited for almost four years. I have gotten to know men both in my church and in the community who are followers of Jesus.  But I was looking for men with an “open spirit.”  Men, take it from me; you need to be with other men who want to go beyond the head stuff.

Second, know that you have a need to be known by other men.  Approach your encounters with a humble and contrite heart.  Let your needs be known, while seeking to invest in other men as well.

Third, start slowly.  Men are not used to sharing at the “heart” level. I find myself being careful and measured in my sharing. The soul is shy and needs a safe place to be known.

Fourth, confess that you may fear being known by other men. I must confess that I am still fearful of allowing others to know my real self.  “Will these two men still accept me for who I am?”  

Here is some counsel based on advice from Larry Crabb on building a soulful group: Try starting with: 1) We accept you, 2) We believe in you, 3) We see you and are glad to stay involved – and in your confidence, and 4) We give to you.    

 

“Help, Lord! No Godly Are Left!”

The title of this blog is a rendition of Psalm 12:1 in the “God’s Word” translation. In the eight verses of this psalm, the Psalmist speaks to a community of believers living in a deceitful society filled with a prevalence of untruths and misinformation.  It seems as though the people of God were dominated by liars in positions of authority.  “The Psalmist asks the Lord to intervene, for society is overrun by deceitful, arrogant oppressors and godly individuals are a dying breed” (NET).   But “because of the Lord’s answer, the godly can face the future knowing that God protects them” (NLT Study Bible).  May this also be true of us today.  God is looking for “truth-tellers,” who will stand up and be heard. 

The Psalmist laments, “Help, Lord, for no faithful one remains; the loyal have disappeared from the human race” (v. 1). The godly and faithful are so rare it seems as if they have disappeared. “Everyone lies to their neighbor; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts” (v. 2).  This is a cultural snapshot of our dominating contemporary narrative.  Lies are being perpetuated as truths.  There is a lot of empty talk, including flattery in the guise of smooth talk.  We are asked, with a smile, to believe lies.  This kind of deception gives us a steady diet of “doubletalk.”  Many ask today, “Who are we to believe? What are their true motives?” 

The Psalmist prays for God to silence the flattering lips and boastful tongues. These individuals believe their power resides in their speech, convinced they can influence other with their words. “We speak persuasively; we know how to flatter and boast. Who is our master?” (v. 4). “Destructive gossip, undemocratic legislation, language devalued by political correctness, the media’s drowning of quality in quantity, are all examples” (Bible Speaks Today) of an arrogant attitude toward God in our day.  

But the Lord replies, “I have seen violence done to the helpless, and I have heard the groans of the poor” (v. 5 ).  In response, God, “will rise up to rescue them as they have longed for me to do” (v. 5).  It might seem like lies and deception are having their way, but God gives fair warning: “Even though the wicked strut about and evil is praised throughout the land,” He will “protect the oppressed, preserving them forever from this lying generation” (v. 7).  In our day, the wicked certainly “strut about” having captured the imagination of contemporary media. Be careful – we are being asked to believe a lie (II Thess. 2:10-12).

In contrast to the deception found in society, we can depend on the trustworthiness of God’s Word.  “The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over” (v. 6).  God means what he says; his words are completely pure.  “When we feel as though sincerity and truth have nearly gone out of existence, we have one hope: the Word of God, which is pure and flawless as refined silver. So listen carefully when he speaks to you through his Word” (Application Bible). 

What is a man to do today in a decadent society? 

  • Accept the authority of Scripture. Earnestly strive to let Scripture form your worldview, not the cultural narrative. Remember, “the word of the Lord stands forever” (I Peter 2:25). 
  • Fellowship with other true believers.  Allow your assumptions and opinions to be exposed to biblical teaching.  You cannot endure this battle on your own.   
  • Above all, don’t fall asleep. Keep alert to deception. You are being lied to daily. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Act of Insurrection

This title above is how The Guardian described The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, a new book by British feminist Louise Perry.  A 30-year-old “proud Feminist,” Perry has spent her working career helping female victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.  She explains, “It’s precisely because I’m a feminist that I’ve changed my mind on sexual liberalism.” Notes the Daily Citizen, “She writes as a feminist because many things are changing in our current debate over sexuality and new voices are feeling emboldened to speak out.”  

From her work with victimized women, Perry concludes that the sexual revolution was, “an ideology premised on the false belief that the physical and psychological differences between men and women are trivial, and that any restrictions placed on sexual behavior must therefore have been motivated by malice, stupidity or ignorance… The problem is, the differences aren’t trivial. Sexual asymmetry is profoundly important.”   

Perry believes women lost much in the “advances” of the sexual revolution. She hopes her writing will spark a new and different feminist movement. “I think,” she writes, “young women have been utterly failed by liberal feminism and have the most to gain from swingback against its excesses.”  She is hopeful that her efforts will help accelerate this swing.  

The Guardian noted that Perry’s book “comes as something of a shock to see a feminist writer with any new ideas at all.”  However, The Daily Citizen is hopeful.  “Maybe that is because Louise Perry is not proposing new ideas, but instead, rediscovering some very old and wise ones. And it is very good that she is gaining such a wide hearing in articulating these views to a new generation of women…”

Of special interest to me was Perry’s comment regarding men: “If a man isn’t willing to stand up in front of everyone you and he knows and promise to cherish you forever, then how can you be sure he’s really committed to your shared life?” In this regard Perry has some very traditional views about marriage.  

Critical of marriage vows that are “tailored by individual whims and sentimentalities,” Perry maintains they are “not rugged enough to honor what marriage itself is and is supposed to be.”  She explains, “Every time my husband and I go to a traditional [high church] wedding, we hear again the words we spoke at our own wedding and are reminded that we’ve opted into an institution that every other married couple is part of.”  

Perry believes that women are unique in their femininity.  She sees female sexuality is fundamentally more civilized and can produce life. “It requires more protection, being respected and honored by all.”  Rather than advocating freedom, which ended up in Perry’s view “enslaving nearly everyone, women especially,” she prefers “the ideal of restraint by both men and women over freedom.”

Men, I hear in these words a cry for men to be “protectors.”  I am reminded of the song by Sanctus Real entitled “Lead Me” (2010).  It has always been convicting to me:  

“Lead me with strong hands/Stand up when I can’t/Don’t leave me hungry for love/Chasing dreams, but what about us/Show me you’re willing to fight/That I’m still the love of your life/I know we call this our home/But I still feel alone.”

Men, rejoice in your freedom to be the protector of your marriage, family, and home. Don’t give up the fight.  Take the lead by protecting and showing your wife the respect she deserves. “Be good husbands to your wives. Honor them, delight in them” (I Peter 3:7 – Message).  In a confused world, you can bring some order and peace.  

 

  

 

 

 

 

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