True to Each Other

In this lonely, painful world, how can we have deep, meaningful relationships? How can we be true to each other?

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor shouts “et tu Brute?” when he sees his close friend, Marcus Junius Brutus, among his assassins.  Though most Americans are not plunging daggers into each other, relationships in the world, the United States, and even the Church are shriveling and dying. According to US Census Data in 2020, our population growth has slowed to its lowest point since the 1930s.[1]  Experts blame COVID and economic troubles, but this trend has been present for decades. Marriage is less common, and couples are having fewer children. People are having less sex, and even dating less. Research from the Barna Group indicates that Americans have fewer friends and higher levels of loneliness than in the past.[2] Elders are less lonely than Boomers, who are less lonely than Gen X, who are less lonely than millennials. The stereotypical image of a lonely widow in our culture may be less common than that of a lonely teenage girl.

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God’s Design for Men and Women in the Church

America and much of the world have undergone a sexual revolution. The Church and the Family have largely followed. How is it working out? Is there another way?

How are relations between men and women in American society? How about the rest of the world? Are they better than they were one thousand, one hundred, ten, or even two years ago? How are relations between men and women in the Church? Are they as God intended?

Is the Bible a misogynistic book? How can Paul, and the Scottish Presbyterian Preacher James Fordyce (1720-1796, in his Sermons for Young Women), and ministers like me even talk (“mansplain?”) about the differing roles of men and women in the Church? We can, and indeed we must, because the Bible is the word of God, profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Long after our bodies, and those of our adversaries, return to dust, His Word will remain. In these and all other areas, the Word burns within us (Jeremiah 20:9).

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Adventures in Athens – How We Treat Others

How we treat others matters far more, to the individual and to everyone around, than we can possibly imagine. 

My daughter Anna is getting married in June, so she and I traveled to Greece this past week to adventure together one more time. It has been a marvelous week; we have enjoyed the place and enjoyed each other. I will treasure these few days forever, and I hope that she will do the same. With all of the fun that we had, God used our experiences to build our character and our faith as individuals and as the Body of Christ.

Yesterday Anna and I traveled to Corinth to see where Paul walked and worked. The ruins of the ancient city featured a temple of Apollo, a basilica of Julian, shops, houses, and the Bema where the famous apostle was tried before Gaius. After almost two hours of exploring the ruins, we agreed to finish individually and then meet at the temple to conclude our visit. I stopped by the Pirean fountain and explored the historic road entering the city. Anna finished first and went to the temple. I tried to get to the temple faster by leaving the site through the exit and reentering the main entrance.

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A Land Called Married

Isaiah describes the “marriage” between God and His people. Christians can learn much for our marriages as well.

My youngest daughter was fighting a virus that sapped her strength and made her miserable. Good movies brighten her mood, and soon we were enjoying the six-hour British Broadcasting Company (BBC) version of Pride and Prejudice. Based on a classic novel by Jane Austen (1775-1817), Pride and Prejudice mixes romance, social commentary, and morality, detailing the twists and turns of courtship and marriage among the daughters of the aristocratic Bennett family in early 19th century England. The movie poignantly reveals how vastly different society’s view of marriage was two hundred years ago.

In Isaiah 62, the Lord encourages His people, promising them future goodness and glory after their defeat and exile.  God uses the metaphor of Israel as His bride, telling His readers that their land would no longer be called “Desolate” but be called “Married” (v4). Most people in my experience would not juxtapose these two words, partly because “desolate” refers to a place “in bleak and dismal emptiness” and “married” refers to a relationship between two people. Isaiah 62 is not about human marriage per se, but neither is it about the physical land of Israel. Rather, it is about the restored relationship between God and His people. As such, it becomes a model of how human marriage under God can be, and should be.

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Who has it better?

Does American society and culture favor men or women in 2017? In the race of life, who has the lead? How do we decide? 

Prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump, a controversial man and president, my oldest daughter sent me an interesting New York Times article entitled “Republican Men Say It’s a Better Time to Be a Woman Than a Man”. The article was interesting, albeit leftward-biased in a typical NY Times fashion. Following is one father’s response to the age-old question, “Who has it better?”

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Controlling Conflict

How can we control conflict in our selves, our families, our communities, our nation, and our world?

A quick review of news headlines today shows conflict between police and demonstrators after a shooting, conflict between Taliban militants and Afghani police, conflict between and within political parties in the 2016 campaigns, and even conflict within families. As much as we may wish to resolve all conflicts, sometimes they can only be controlled. From presidents such as Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton who had “enemy lists” to average folks who can never forgive a slight, unresolved conflict is a major fixture in our lives. The Biblical story of David, Nabal, and Abigail (1 Samuel 25:2-38) provides good lessons on dealing with conflict. We will discover that controlling conflict requires three things:

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Our Mechanistic Minds

Machine thinking makes us less human. 

As some of my children have gone off to college, I have thought more about their generation, which demographers call the Millennials. A young man in our church graciously asked me to lead his Life Group once per month, and that has given me more occasion to discover this fascinating generation. We also have a young woman from Persia living with us, and she is wonderful at explaining much about how non-American millennials think.

Some examples stand out in my mind. Though earnestly seeking a wife, one 25 year old man agonized over dating a woman he met on Christian Mingle, concerned that it might be risky. A woman in her mid-twenties wanted to meet a man but wasn’t willing to do much to attract one. The very idea of attracting a man was offensive. A 24 year old college graduate hoped to be dating and knew many eligible men her age but did nothing to encourage their overtures. Another man was afraid of yet another rebuff. In one incident, a young man teaching a coed Sunday School class facetiously suggested that the women in the class, who were going to pick blueberries together after church, could make some blueberry pies for the men. For their part, the men could bring back wild game. His tongue in cheek suggestion was met with incredulity and derision. On hearing the story a few hours later, my mother in law said “If they wanted a blueberry pie, I would bake one.”

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