Category Archives: Family Life / Parenting

On Modest Clothing

Modesty is a hot topic with believers especially in a day of hoochie-momma skirts and push-up bras, and given the uprising of ghetto-culture, let us not forget the baggy pants craze where young men somehow find it cool and happening to expose their underwear by wearing pants that don’t fit and going shirtless with tats and chains.

I’ve been shopping with my four daughters and there is no doubt that pursuing modest clothing for young girls is way more difficult than teaching a boy to wear a belt and keep his shirt on.  My daughters have come home many times quite discouraged that the only offerings in the stores for them seemed well fit for Britney Cyrus Gaga than for them.

As a result of having to make apparel decisions for and with them, I have come up with three principles that we use in making modest clothing choices. Here they are:

  1. To the degree that what you wear exposes your skin to the public eye, is to the degree that you are immodest.
  2. To the degree that what you wear fits tightly around your body accentuating your figure, is to the degree that you are immodest.
  3. To the degree that what you wear draws attention to and emphasizes your female body traits, is to the degree that you are immodest.

Notice the key word here is ‘degree’,  since I believe that hard and distinct lines are not always easy to draw in these areas and I would rather my girls learn discernment and proper decision-making in this area of their lives instead of simply following a ‘dad approved’ list.

Applying these guidelines – short pants five inches above the knee are more immodest than shorts that go past the knees and shorts that go past the knees that are baggy are more modest if they are not skin tight or have some crazy logo branded on the buttocks.

I think this approach is unarguably sensible and easy to follow though we might not all end up with the same clothes.

Pressing On

I haven’t written on this page in quite some time. For a little bit over a year now I have been readjusting my entire life’s routine around the infiltration of chronic illness. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my wife has an autoimmune disease (polymyositis) that has sent familial shockwaves throughout our household.  The task of coping has been sketchy as schedules and everyday habits have had to change and uncertainty stares at us like a puzzled thief waiting for the next opportunity.

However, as only God can do, beyond the stressful change has come goodness. Through her misery as I watch my wife struggle, I see my own limitations and flaws and absolute need for His grace and divine strength. Sometimes I feel like I’m being beaten with a disappointment stick. Sometimes I can’t believe that yet one more thing has gone wrong. Sometimes I can’t believe that my life is what it is when this is not what I had planned. Not even close. Sometimes I want out.

But it is here in the recess between my own wisdom and the One who made me, where humility is bred.  He alone knows what is best and without the challenges set before me, I will always come back to a wrong position.  The pride of life is a vicious weed and we can’t always trust our feelings.  As Luther wrote, “Feelings come and feelings go, but feelings are deceiving… my warrant is the Word of God, naught else is worth believing.”

So, I will pray and I will believe, but not because I always believe and not because I always obey or rest in His understanding.  I will live by faith because there is no other option.  Faith is a gift that overrides our sinful desires to ignore it.  He intercedes for me and He sustains me in spite of my empty tank for as the Word of God reveals, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” and in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.  In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” ( 2 Timothy 2:13; Romans 8:24-27) Amen.

Purifying Grace

I got sideswiped. I was hit by a collision so violent that it weakened the walls of my lower intestines, but it wasn’t an impact by a drunken driver or a distracted teenager trying to find their last text message while taking a left turn. Instead, it was the unpredictable juggernaut called life.

It’s the ninth month of adjusting our family to life with chronic illness and the Lord has once again shown us lessons only learned while on the grill. Heat alone refines.

The news of my wife’s chronic auto-immune disease and skin cancer troubles felt like tires bending and my fender buckling, but I couldn’t quite identify the noise. A sudden sense of tremendous weight grinds into every pore of your skeleton. It’s a pressure melded with fearful gravity and so much heaviness that its true impact takes weeks and months to set in, and yet on the other side of the blistering flames, vise grips and frightful walls we find greater compassion. Genuine empathy is an acquired virtue and its classes are held in the pit.

When true saving faith meets adversity it produces persevering joy just as God said it would in James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

It isn’t that the trials themselves are joyful; they are always loaded with confusion and pain. What we must see is that the end result is our purification and the difficulties and overwhelming circumstances are the means that God has sovereignly orchestrated for the development of Christ-likeness in us. You won’t become like Christ while riding a comfort wave on a golden surfboard. Anyone who tells you that God doesn’t want His servants to suffer has a misplaced gospel and a closed bible. You only grow in your faith when you actually have to use it for as Scripture plainly teaches us we shall enter the kingdom through many tribulations. (Acts 14:22)

Suffering exposes our weaknesses and dispels the myth of self-reliance. We need our church family and local Body to bear our burdens with us. (Gal. 6:2) We need more times of communal weeping.  In our moments of great despondence the light of faithful friends carrying the Savior’s voice becomes a tender balm to a weary soul.

Have you spoken the wonderful Words of Life to your brothers and sisters lately? Who around you needs you right now? Let us not forget our own family of God and remember that it is not a part-time commitment. We are familial forever.

Get Behind Me Satanic Marshmallow

marshmallowsThis hidden video clip is fabulous on two levels. First, it is simply adorable. The facial expressions and mannerisms of these precious children are priceless. Secondly, they are perfect examples of the same ways in which we are all, not only tempted, but react to our daily temptations.

Some of us sniff around.  Some of us take small nibbles. Some of us run the cycle of endless bargaining in our brains and some of us just eat.

Enjoy the clip.

Clarity of the Heart in Relationship – Part II

talking handWhen in relational communication with others, we should seek to cultivate humility by understanding our inherent bias. (Jeremiah 17:9) None of us has perfect recall, especially when involved in conflict. (Proverbs 18:17) God requires that all facts be established by two and three witnesses; not a single account. (Deut. 19:5) And lastly, we should massage humility by being suspicious of ourselves, knowing that there are always three conversations – the one you heard, the one they heard and the one that actually took place. Rarely do they match.

To these I’d like to add another communicative caution. When seeking to understand we must avoid what I call the erroneous presumption of fruit inspection.  Jesus said, “…every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17-18) Many believers take this passage and combine it with this Scripture, For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (Matthew 12:34) The notion then is that when someone speaks we can somehow inspect the fruit and determine their heart motive.  While in general this might be true; it is only true non-specifically.  For example if someone is yelling and screaming at you, the mere loudness and intensity doesn’t say anything more than that they are, at that moment, not calm and gentle.  However, you have no idea exactly where their heart is without first asking them what is wrong.  They could be angry, fearful, annoyed, frustrated or excitedly announcing a problem; one would have to first ask questions to find out the true heart of the matter.  Yet, routinely and habitually, we make instant assessments as to someone’s real motives and routinely and consistently we are wrong.

There can be many and complicated reasons for why someone is saying or doing what they are during an encounter, but we tend to pick the motive and presumption that fits our preconceived notions, bias and past experience.  This is why it is so hard for people to converse cleanly.  No one wants to take each event individually and of its own merit; we are baggage carriers by nature. To be sure, there is wisdom in recognizing past patterns and consistent failings; yet, there is also tremendous danger in judging the heart on the past or unconfirmed present.

It is not difficult to see then, that when you add bitterness and gossip to this corrupted conversational mix; things get ugly fast.  Not only have you believed and processed something based on hearsay, but you are also spreading that to others and the infection spreads. This is a major challenge since true humility sees itself of no consequence and is not easily offended. Love is the coating by which all else flows and without which, we are mere hyper-jackals seeking only self-interests.

There’s an old saying out there – “No one cares what you know, till they know how much you care.” Through God-given humility we can take a real interest in one another, lay low in our hearts and seek to aid someone else’s spiritual well-being by applying these ideas and principles in our relationships.  May God grant us these things in grand abundance.

Bringing Glory to God in the Workplace

fishmongerMany believers are under the misconception that they must be teaching Greek in a seminary class or pastoring a flock of sheeple in order to be a significance in the kingdom.  “If only I were a missionary in Thailand or Bangladesh, THEN I would be reeeeally serving God fully!” This would be true if only God had not called each of us to varied and diverse callings.  Not only does the Body of Christ function together as a cohesive organic community of multi-purposed parts it also functions outside of its corporate gathering in the same way.

By doing all that we do for Him alone, the common work of an ordinary occupation can radiate His glory as a reflection of the work of redeeming grace.  Through us, as willingly obedient and joyful vessels, the beauty of the Lord’s work in the gospel penetrates normally dismal cubicles and office complexes into vibrant places of salt and light living.  Here is a story written by Calvin Seerveld about his father’s work.  It demonstrates the point quite well.

My father is a seller of fish. We children know the business too having worked from childhood in the Great South Bay Fish Market, Patchogue, Long Island, New York, helping our father like a quiver full of arrows. It is a small store, and it smells like fish.

I remember a Thursday noon long ago when my Dad was selling a large carp to a prosperous woman and it was a battle to convince her. “Is it fresh?”

It fairly bristled with freshness, had just come in, but the game was part of the sale. They had gone over it anatomically together: the eyes were bright, the gills were a good color, the flesh was firm, the belly was even spare and solid, the tail showed not much waste, the price was right–Finally my Dad held up the fish behind the counter, ?Beautiful, beautiful! Shall I clean it up??

And as she grudgingly assented, ruefully admiring the way the bargain had been struck, she said, “My, you certainly didn’t miss your calling.”

Unwittingly, she spoke the truth. My father is in full-time service for the Lord, prophet, priest and king in the fish business. And customers who come in the store sense it. Not that we always have the cheapest fish in town! Not that there are no mistakes on a busy Friday morning! Not that there is no sin! But this: that little Great South Bay Fish Market, my father and two employees, is not only a clean, honest place where you can buy quality fish at a reasonable price with a smile, but there is a spirit in the store, a spirit of laugher, of fun, of joy inside the buying and selling that strikes an observer pleasantly; and the strenuous week-long preparations in the back rooms for Friday fish-day are not a routine drudgery interrupted by rest periods but again, a spirit seems to hallow the lowly work into a rich service, in which it is good to officiate.

When I watch my Dad’s hands, big beefy hands with broad stubby fingers each twice the thickness of mine, they could never play a piano; when I watch those hands delicately split the back of a mackerel or with a swift, true stroke fillet a flounder close to the bone, leaving all the meat together; when I know those hands dressed and peddled fish from the handlebars of a bicycle in the grim 1930’s, cut and sold fish year after year with never a vacation through fire and sickness, thieves and disasters, weariness, winter cold and hot muggy summers, twinkling at work without complaint, past temptations, struggling day in and day out to fix a just price, in weakness often but always in faith consecratedly cutting up fish before the face of the Lord: when I see that, I know God’s Grace can come down to a man’s hand and the flash of a scabby fish knife.


fishmonger knifeIn his book, The Other Six Days,  R. Paul Stevens writes, “…the biblical doctrine of vocation proposes that the whole of our lives finds meaning in relation to the sweet summons of a good God.”(p. 72)  We are called BY someone before we are called the do something. We musn’t allow a poor understanding of vocation in occupation rob us of our Ephesians 2:10 exercise of faith. Surely, mere living ‘right’ and ‘purposed’ before men will never convert them for faith comes by hearing the Word of God; however, He has called us to live differently in all that we pursue.

I pray that we would meditate more on the role of work and occupation and instruct our children well before we find ourselves into an irreversible clench of time, resource and wasted gifts.

Jumping through Hoops – Part III

jumping-through-hoops-3In our last installment of the interview we hear a few words of warning and encouragement to both daughters and their parents as to the dangers and unique challenges of the collegiate sports world.

What advice would you give parents whose daughters are involved in collegiate sports?

I think it is important to talk about this issue with them particularly with college-aged daughters.  I didn’t deal much at all with this in high school but it is definitely becoming more of a problem at that level now.

If you suspect anything hinting at homosexuality going on around your daughter, ask her about it. Teach her the biblical stance on homosexuality and make sure that she knows that it is a sin against God, no matter how many of her friends are doing it.

If they lack a substantive defense based in the truth and in why they believe what they do, when they are presented with the opposite belief amongst their peers, they will fold because they can’t combat it. On the other hand, if they have a deep understanding of the Gospel then they have the greatest weapon there ever will be in fighting the battle. Also, make sure that you are not telling them to hate homosexuals or to treat them wrong because of their lifestyle.

Make sure they understand that just because they are telling someone what God’s word says and they disagree, doesn’t mean that they are unloving or judgmental. In fact, that is the most loving thing your child can do- share truth in love. Ensure that they have a strong sense of family and feel loved and accepted showing them proper affection for the more love they get from home the less likely they will go looking for it elsewhere.

And don’t be naive.  I have seen it happen a lot where the parents of a girl who is involved in a homosexual relationship are being lied to because the girl is so fearful of their parents finding out. If you see anything suspicious developing, don’t turn the other cheek and say that there’s no way your daughter would do that. Try to get to the bottom of it.

What advice would you give the girls who are entering collegiate sports?

Man, there is so much I would love to say to each girl- including giving each one a deep, rich presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation for all those that believe.. But in general, in speaking to the Christians, I want to tell you that you have no business entering this environment of collegiate sports unless you have been specifically called by God to do so. I know this may sound really extreme and harsh, but take it from me.  I’ve been on a long spiritual journey with the Lord through this; most of the time learning the hard way. Make sure that you are not entering this environment looking to consume it for your own lusts. You will be disappointed every time, if you do. Sports will let you down 100% of the time when you put your trust in it. Especially at the college level, where the temptation to make it your life is increased because they demand so much of your time.

I give you that warning because if you are not spiritually equipped beforehand you can get swallowed up. The temptation is great. The trials are even greater. Without being rooted in the word you will have no foundation to stand on. And soon enough, you will find your life morphing into one that looks just like everyone else’s around you.

Also, make sure that you find a group of people inside and outside of the athlete world who are like-minded and who will build you up in your faith. It is always good to have a group of sincere Christians who don’t care one bit about how well you perform in your sport, but instead want to see you grow in holiness. This is crucial. You need that balance after hearing all day about your sport and how it needs to be number one in your life. Find a great local church that preaches the unadulterated word of God and welcome the accountability and support in your life.

As far as homosexuality is concerned it is hard to predict what kind of situations you will find yourself in, but no matter what, do not compromise what you know is right. It may mean that you are the ‘weird Christian girl who always talks about the Bible’, but trust me, it is all worth it when you think about what it is you are there to do.

Don’t shy away from building relationships with girls that you know are homosexual. Some of my best friendships have come from teammates of mine that are gay. I care about all of them deeply and I make sure that they know that I love and care about their lives outside of them being on the basketball court with me.   People respond differently to you when they know that you genuinely love them

Make sure that they know they can talk to you about the issue without you condemning them to hell in the process. This is why having a deep understanding of the Gospel is so important. Knowing the doctrines of human depravity and the like are crucial so that you are able to explain to them why being a homosexual is wrong, but also not placing them any higher on the sinner list than any other depraved human being…nor does is place them out of the reach of the glorious grace of God.

In short, always be ready and able to give an answer for the hope that lies within you. If you live your life for Christ, they will come up to you and ask you genuine questions about it- be ready to give an answer! And also, enjoy the opportunity that the Lord has blessed you with. It is by far an exciting time in your life and it is full of fun, but make sure you don’t lose focus on what it is we are here on earth to do- glorify God in all that we do.

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Jumping through Hoops – Part II

jumping-through-hoops-2Yesterday we heard about life in female collegiate sports and the challenge of being faithful in such a high homosexual context.

Today we continue the three part interview with Part II – The Struggle of the Hoops

As a Christian what challenges has this presented for you in living rightly before the Lord?

Well, first off… you are immediately placed in the minority. It can be very frustrating especially since it is not just the players that are living that way, but often times a coach or a staff member within the team and they are your authority.

Also, just the conversations around you that you know are so dishonoring to the Lord can really get to you. Keep in mind these people are like my family for about nine months out of the year. I see them more than anybody else in my life during that time and it can become overwhelming.

My greatest fear is to become jaded or desensitized since I’m around it constantly.  I always have to keep myself in check but mostly the biggest challenge is standing up for what I believe in and not giving in to those around me; acting as if there isn’t a difference between me as a believer and the rest of the world.  We all know that the flesh just wants to fit in with the rest, but I am thankful that the Lord sustains me.

Are your Christian views tolerated?

It is kind of odd, because in a way my views ARE tolerated.. kind of… I guess it is hard to explain, but because, by the grace of God, I have been able to share truth in love with my teammates and let them know that I am not just coming up with stuff to condemn them or make myself look better…I don’t really get that much flack anymore.

The hardest part is in the beginning when you are new to the specific environment and you have to start all over in sharing your views for the first time. But building relationships and getting the point across that I love them and just want them to know God and His truth is the key.

But at the same time, what I have to say isn’t always agreed with or tolerated. I find myself in situations where I know that if I were to speak up it wouldn’t be tolerated or taken well so I do have to pick my battles. I have to trust God that He will provide me with opportunities to speak up when the time is right. And He has been doing just that for me, and it is such a blessing. Having one on one conversations really helps. So I guess my views aren’t very tolerated, but I am. They have to put up with me since I’m one of their sisters that they see everyday.

Have you seen other girls struggling with being in this environment?

Oh my goodness, yes I have and it is very hard to watch. I’ve seen people who are so far in that they don’t even consider any other way, and I’ve also seen the ones who are uncertain get sucked right in. One of the most shocking things that I have experienced as a Christian living in this environment is having girls that are struggling with this actually approach me on the issue. Not wanting to argue but wanting to know what it is the Bible truly has to say about it. It opens up clear pathways for me to tell them the truth and share the gospel with them. There are some who never thought they would ever be caught up in it but found themselves acting once upon a ‘feeling’ they had and are now ‘stuck’ and unable to get out. It is very difficult to watch, but at the same time it is encouraging to know that I possess the very thing that can set them free – and that is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This makes sharing the truth with them a lot more urgent when you see them so stuck in something that their flesh is incapable of getting out of. I have gotten the opportunity to talk to a lot of girls one on one and even though not all of those conversations lead to the person being delivered from their sin, I was blessed to be able to see God change one girl’s life right before my very eyes last year. Not only was she delivered from homosexuality, but she has since grown into a strong believer and follower of the Lord who graciously saved her form her sins. If sharing the truth with her was the only reason God put me where I am today then it is all worth it.

Would you consider it a dangerous place or a young woman to be in?

While I won’t say that this environment is too dangerous and should be avoided at all costs, I do think it is necessary to shed some light on some of the dangers. Many girls are destroying their lives through their involvement in homosexual activities and they aren’t really aware of it. Girls who have a lot of insecurities are strongly affected because the temptations prey on their lack of emotional stability.  I know that sounds broad, but it is true and for a young Christian girl she can easily become disillusioned.

Take someone who is very strong in their beliefs and put them in this environment day after day and you start to see a numbness develop. Unless the Lord has specifically called you into it and prepared you for it be careful.  I certainly don’t underestimate the power of our amazing God, but we have to be cautious.

God is a God of reconciliation and He draws sinners unto Himself so that they may be reconciled to Him and forgiven for their sins. It is hard for me to write this environment off as ‘dangerous’ and leave it at that because I have seen God work in so many incredible ways through it all. Not only did He use it to bring about circumstances in my life which ultimately brought me closer to Him, but He also does the same in so many other young girls’ lives. All the glory goes to Him.

[Tomorrow: ‘Advice to Parents’  Part III ]

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Jumping through Hoops – Part I

jumping-through-hoopsA Christian friend of mine, who is a Division 1 female college basketball player, recently lamented about the state of female athletics in her school. Over time it has become increasingly more difficult to function freely as a heterosexual since that environment has become overrun with lesbianism.  In order to share her insights and experience I decided to do a three part interview with her for the blog.  I pray that it will help other girls in similar situations or their parents who are unaware of this problem or who are contemplating sending their girls off to play college sports.  Here’s part one.

When you got into sports whose decision was it?

I got into sports at a very young age, and even though my parents and brothers were athletes, it was my decision to start playing. My family having a very athletic background definitely influenced me, but I couldn’t wait to be a part of my own team once I was old enough to do so.

When did you get into sports? What sports have you played (childhood history)?

I come from an athletic family with older brothers so I was pretty much involved with sports from the time I came out of the womb.  According to home videos… I started playing sports outside in the backyard around age four and joined my first official team when I was five (softball) and joined my first basketball team when I was in 3rd grade.

In my younger years I balanced softball, basketball, and even a youth tennis team but shortly after getting into basketball I realized it was my favorite, so I began to play year round in about the 7th grade.

Golf was another sport that I loved to play and would have played in high school if it wasn’t the same season as my travel basketball team. I still played fast pitch softball all the way through high school, up until my senior year when I was fully concentrating on basketball.

Did your family encourage you or were you viewed negatively for pursuing sports as a girl?

My family definitely encouraged me. Like I said, growing up with older brothers it was all but expected that I play sports. Never once did my family look down on me for being an athletic girl, in fact it was seen as a great and exciting thing. The only exception would maybe be my grandma who begged me to at least settle for playing golf in college because to her basketball was too rough for a girl! [laughs]

You’ve mentioned that there are a lot of homosexual women in college basketball; what percentage of the players in your experience are practicing lesbians in the league?

Wow. That’s a hard question because you try not to let a few spoil your view of the entire group since you don’t come in contact with EVERYONE in the league to be sure of a number. But sadly I would have to say that as time goes on, it isn’t even a case of a few spoiling the whole anymore. It has got to be at least 60-65%.

That is a figure with absolutely no research or stats to back it up, but if you talk to my peers they will most likely agree with it. And as it becomes more and more open and accepted in society, that number just keeps getting bigger. It used to be kind of hidden and covert, but that is not really the case anymore.

What do you think is the cause? Is it that the sport attracts them or is it that the sport turns them? What is the reason for such a high percentage?

From what I have seen, it is a little bit of both…it is one big vicious cycle. When a girl grows up in the environment of competitive basketball there are a few things that are pretty much inevitable…spending countless hours in the gym, traveling to  tournaments, wearing lots of sweatpants and sweatshirts and basketball shorts and tees, and spending hour upon hour with a group of girls that become like your sisters to you…

And … there is a stereotype out there that girls that dress like ‘that’ are a bit masculine and even possibly gay. It is almost like the devil himself has injected that stigma into the sport of women’s basketball, and is now having a field day with it.

A basketball player who doesn’t have a boyfriend (probably due to the countless hours of being in the gym) and who wears athletic gear around their campus (high school or college) is often times deemed gay from the start from those who don’t really know her.

And the devil can easily prey on those girls and immediately start to put lies into her head about her sexuality. For instance “you’ve never had a boyfriend and you’re how old? Doesn’t that tell you something” or “you already dress kind of manly, and people think that you are gay already, so maybe you really are?”

So that would be an example of the shaping influences that you find in the sport that one could say can be used to ‘turn’ someone in the wrong direction. Then when you get these girls, who are already questioning things and they too easily get sucked right in. They are lonely and guess who is there to take them in? Homosexual girls who are dying to connect emotionally with someone. It is a false illusion of true love and dependence, which I could talk about for hours, but let’s just say it is a very dangerous temptation disguised as security.

And there’s another common variable at work… in my experience the overwhelmingly majority of homosexual girls that I have come across have had some sort of broken relationship with their father. I’m not going to say that in every single case that is what has caused it, they have made a choice in their life …but there is no doubt that this plays some contributing role.

The amount of broken homes these days is saddening, and even in families that aren’t broken, a faulty relationship between a daughter and father can be so damaging. I’m not saying that if a girl is gay then it is her father’s fault. Please don’t take it that way… but I will say that the girls that claim to have been gay from a very young age have almost all had a very dysfunctional father/daughter relationship or some sort of unhealthy relationship with guys close to them at a young age.

The Lord has always protected me from giving into this particular temptation and I can honestly say that I’ve not even considered it even though I’ve been surrounded by it for so many years. Yet I’ve had thoughts that maybe I was gay, I mean  I never had a boyfriend until I was twenty-one and I  grew up kind of tomboyish… played a lot of sports… so maybe I was really gay. This wasn’t something that I struggled with on a daily basis but it definitely crossed my mind a few times. I praise the Lord for His grace and protection over me.

[Tomorrow: Part II – ‘The Struggle of the Hoops’]

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Do You Have Your Sword?

No matter how many laws you pass attempting to ban guns from those who seek to do harm, the bad guys will always obtain them. The notion that violent lawbreakers will somehow be thwarted by creating more rules is about as sensible as thinking that a hormone-filled adolescent will not ogle the emerging debutante because we asked him nicely.

Criminals disobey the law for their own advantage and violent criminals look for victims.  The best victims are the weakest victims; those who will not or cannot defend themselves against aggressive wrongdoing.  Gun laws are merely paper tigers that only serve to restrict and forbid good citizens from protecting their family, person, and property.

Even though the civil authorities are instituted by Divine mandate to bear the sword against evil doers, they are not always able to respond quickly and efficiently particularly when someone’s life is in immediate danger.  Every school shooting in our country attests to this fact.  It just takes too long for outside law enforcement to arrive. Compound that with an entire campus or mall of unarmed and fenced-in victims and you have a hearty recipe for unabated carnage.  We should allow those students and citizens who want to be able to defend themselves the ability to do so and not have them rely on bare fists, loud shouts and screams, or belated cavalries for their protection.

Self-defense is godly. Arming oneself for that task is right and biblical. If the use of that defense ends in the termination of the aggressor’s life then that is the price that the criminal paid for his wickedness. When Christ sent out his disciples just before his own arrest and death he gave them a list of things to bring with them.

“When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. “For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment. They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” Luke 22:35-38

Notice that Jesus did not say, “When you go leave your sword behind and simply pray when you are attacked and do the best you can, knowing that you’ll be spared if you remain pacifists.” Instead, he advocated being armed for defense and security.  He did not instruct them to kill anyone who got in their way nor did he tell them to be brazen and antagonistic.  He wanted them to be safe and to have the tools to ensure it.

Recently a well-known pastor, author, and preacher compared his decision to not arm himself in his household to the same decision that Jim Elliot and his missionary friends made in Ecuador when they were speared to death by hostile natives.  They had guns with them but only shot them in the air rather than killing the tribesmen. As he wrote, “they were ready to go to heaven but these natives were not. So why would they kill them rather than being killed themselves?” And so if someone were to attack us in our home, he argues, why would we want to kill them either since they are probably not ready to go to heaven either? Jesus certainly gave other advice.

One of the problems with this theory is that is presupposes that using a gun defensively automatically means killing a person. This is neither true nor desirable. Death is simply the possible risk incurred by the evil doer when he decides to threaten and inflict harm. As an example of this principle in action watch this trailer clip from Boston Legal which makes the point quite nicely.

[livevideo id=AFB47874A5634BF98FF13F7152FED2EA/803031/sneak-peek-1-of-boston-legal-.aspx]

And so when asked directly whether he is a pacifist or whether he would protect his daughter from harm if he did own a gun he responded by saying, “… the circumstances are so unpredictable. What would you do? Shoot the guy in the head? Or shoot him in the chest? How about the leg? Or just throw the gun at him, or hit him over the head with it? Of course I’m going to protect my daughter! But I’m not aiming to kill anybody, especially an intruder who doesn’t know Christ and would go straight to hell, probably. Why would I want to do that if I could avoid it?” Again, see the above video on how to handle that situation. It’s curious that he seems to abandon God’s sovereignty in election and His promise that He is not willing that any of His own will perish but that all of His children will come to faith and repentance found in 2 Peter 3:9.  Am I now ruining God’s plan in redemption because I chose to use intense force in protecting my daughter? My decision to shoot a rapist who I find on top of her with a knife to her throat is now wrong because if I kill him he might go to hell?  I’m not advocating killing him for the sake of killing, but I am thoroughly convinced that my decision to use deadly force so that I can protect my family and friends is neither wrong nor going to circumvent God’s purposes in salvation.

Later he makes a comment that “those who live by the gun shall die by the gun” but this, too, is a misapplied principle since owning a firearm for protection is not living by the gun. Owning a handgun for protection is exactly the same as listening to Christ in Luke’s gospel when he told those who were about to journey to arm themselves.  Even a sword can kill and those who obeyed Jesus were not guilty of living by the sword either. I think Piper is guided by good motives but led down the wrong path. [click here for John Piper’s full blog post]

If more men realized their God-given duty to be ready and able to defend their neighborhoods and person the purposes of evil brought about by willing men would be lessened. That is a good thing.