David

When Should You Fight Evil with Evil?

When Should You Fight Evil with Evil?

One of my Christian heroes is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I even asked my wife if we could name our son Dietrich. For some reason she didn’t like that idea. Go figure.

Bonhoeffer is a fascinating figure for all sorts of reasons, but one of those is that his ministry took place during the rise of Nazism in Germany. Born into an upper-middle class family in Germany and studying at some of finest schools, he ended up rejecting the German national church, which was controlled by the Nazi party. Instead he threw his energy behind the Confession Church, a church that resisted the Nazi party.

Ultimately Dietrich Bonhoeffer would do more than theologically resist the Nazi party; he would actively participate in helping Jews escape and would ultimately be party to an assassination plot against Adolf Hitler.[i]

Although, for obvious reasons, Bonhoeffer never discussed the plot nor his reasons for the decision, it is clear in his letters that he expended a lot of energy working through what his ethical responsibilities were throughout the war. Those who believe he participated in the assassination conspiracy point to his words in Ethics where he says, “the structure of responsible action includes both readiness to accept guilt and freedom.”[ii] Is Bonhoeffer saying that there are times where following Christ means that we might actually be called into guilt (and therefore to sin)?

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.       How to Ruin Your Sex Life in 10 Easy Steps: Lisa Lakey with great advice: Here is just one of the ten: "Don't engage in conversation with your spouse:  It’s been a long day, and it takes too much energy to engage in lengthy discussion. Please, can we just relax and turn the TV on already? Better yet, escape into social media. Knowing what’s going on in everyone else’s lives helps distract you from your own."

2.      You Shall Know Them By Their Clothes: Andrew Wilson with an interesting insight into the story of Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David--clothes points to character and plot in the story: "When we first meet Goliath, he is covered from head to foot in scaly armor, which makes him look like a serpent or even a dragon. So when we find the snake-like accuser lying dead, his head crushed by the anointed king, we are not especially surprised. We first meet Samuel as “a boy wearing a linen ephod” (1 Sam. 2:18). Straightaway, we know he will function a bit like a priest."

3.      To Spank or Not to Spank: My friend Benjamin Vrbicek with a healthy and nuanced perspective on the topic: " Yet this post isn’t part of my crusade to get you to spank your children. I’ve never written about this before and don’t plan to do it again. I certainly don’t want to be another polemical voice in the already overly opinionated milieu of Christian child-rearing. Instead, I’d like to talk about how parents can spank their children rightly." All 13 of his nuggets are worth considering.

4.      Pleasures Never Lie: Jon Bloom explains why what we find pleasure in reveals so much about who we are, "Pleasure is our heart’s way of telling us where our treasure really lies (Matthew 6:21). When something evil gives us pleasure, we don’t have a pleasure problem; we have a treasure problem. The pleasure gauge is working as designed. What’s wrong is what our heart loves. And pleasure is blowing the whistle. We can lie with our lips about what we love. But pleasures never lie."

5.      Arctic Geese Jump off Cliff to Survive: This is brutal. Nature is brutal.

The Gospel of Self-Forgiveness

The Gospel of Self-Forgiveness

She sits in my office, tears running down her face. Two years ago her mother died in hospice while she lay asleep at home. She was trying to get a decent night’s rest after days spent at her mother’s side. “I just can’t forgive myself. I let her die alone. I knew I should have been there, but I was selfish. I can never forgive myself for that.”

I’ve heard dozens share similar confessions with me. Does this resonate with you? What guilt do you bear? What burdens are you carrying because you can’t forgive yourself?

Many are trapped because they can’t forgive themselves. My friend isn’t alone. And she feels trapped. Because she will never hear her mother offer her forgiveness, she feels like she can’t release herself from her guilt.

Why can’t you release yourself from your sin? Is it because the weight is too much? Because you know you haven’t changed? Because the ripple effects of your sin can’t be reversed?

I have good news—such good news. You don’t need to forgive yourself, because you can’t forgive yourself.

What?

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 4

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 4

When you think of godly leaders, King David is in rarified air. He is, after all the famed slayer of Goliath, the one who was known as “the man after God’s own heart” and the greatest king in Israel’s history. His life seemed directionless from a human perspective, but every step had incredible purpose. There is no King David without his journey.

As a young man, David had the oil from Samuel’s horn poured out over his head and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”[i] It was within a few years that David would defeat Goliath and be promised Saul’s daughter in marriage. Surely he must have thought that his ascension to the throne was near. But as things so often are in God’s economy, it would be many years before David would sit on the throne.[ii] David would go from the rising star of Israel, whom the people sung about in the streets, to fleeing, to exile, wandering with his motley band across the hostile terrain of Palestine. And while so many years had passed, he twice refused to take the life of the man who not only sought his life, but blocked his anointing.[iii]    

What must have sustained David for these long years was not only the presence of God, but also God’s purpose for him. Even as he ran for his life, he speaks of his trust and his purpose, “But the king [referring to himself, who wasn’t yet king] shall rejoice in God.” So it is with the power of a purposeful spiritual life for us. When we know and understand the identity and purposes God has placed on our lives, it sustains us through tremendous difficulty, which is also God’s purpose.

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

A Purposeful Spiritual Life, part 3

For my birthday my wife took me out on a hike. We enjoyed the beautiful Arizona morning, winding our way up into the foothills of the Catalina Mountains through the lush Sonoran desert landscape. We went on a well-traveled trail toward our destination: pools tucked into the Catalina foothills, 2.8 miles from the trailhead.

As inexperienced hikers who hadn’t hiked the trail in some 20 years, we overestimated our progress and asked multiple passersby how far away the pools were. It shouldn’t take this long to go 2.8 miles, right? Our legs grew heavy and my wife wondered if we had made a wrong turn. Maybe we should just turn around?

Finally we crested over a hill and below us lay the pools below. Our pace quickened with the pools in view and the final 15 minutes sped by. We relaxed on sun-bathed boulders, ate a snack, took some pictures, and then headed back. Knowing the terrain now and having a much better sense of how far the 2.8 mile destination was, there were no moments of confusion or frustration. The trail seemed to melt quickly behind us and we arrived back at the trail head quickly.

Knowing your destination changes your hike.