Archive | September, 2012

A Family Resemblance

28 Sep

Now I’ve gone and pinned myself into a corner. I promised that this week you would be getting a really good post. The pressure feels very high, and I’m scared you’ll be disappointed. So, if you walk away feeling disappointed, please don’t tell me. Just carry on with your day as if nothing happened.

This past weekend I was in Buffalo visiting some family members and doing some shopping. While I was walking around the mall, I couldn’t help but feel like I was seeing doubles. Sometimes even triples. All around me were groups of teenagers…all of whom looked exactly the same! They were all wearing Hollister type track pants…Abercrombie sweatshirts…big brown Uggs…and had their hair pulled up in a “last minute” bun. Exact replicas.

The fashionable trend of the era may change, but the fact that, with time, friends begin to act and even dress like each other is nothing new. I know I was exactly the same way. The more I spent time with my friends, the more I became like them, talked like them, and yes, even dressed and wore my hair like them.

It even happens with married couples. Now, I have a theory. There’s no scientific knowledge to back this up, so if you google it, you won’t find anything. But I personally believe that as the years pass, a married couple begins to increasingly resemble each other…as in, they start to look like brother and sister! The next time you’re out, see it for yourself. Take a look at the married couples in the mall, sitting with each other in restaurants, walking down the street together. The older they are and the longer they’ve been married…the more they look like they are related.

Beyond the physical resemblance, have you ever noticed how similar husbands and wives become with time? They begin to finish each other’s sentences, tell the same stories, even fall into the same routine that becomes wholly theirs. I see it with my parents in such a clear way. It’s a common occurrence for my mother to tell me a story, only to find that my father is repeating the same one to me only a few hours later. Though I’ve only been married for four years, I can already see it happening with Shady. Lately some of the jokes he’s been telling have had a very “Dina” flavour about them. I look at him with those “I’m turning you into me” smile. But I know it works both ways…so many of his personality traits are rubbing off on me as well!

It’s inevitable I think…the more time we spend with someone, the more we will be molded into their image, and them into ours. We become like the company that we keep.

The Bible teaches us that when man and women were first created, we were made to bear HIS image. We were made to resemble God and be like Him. But sin entered the world, and we began to think and act in ways that are completely contrary to the image and character of God. That’s one of the reasons why I love the Holy Spirit! Because it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of this sin, points us to the cross, and reconciles us to God. And then something amazing happens…the Holy Spirit begins the incredible work of restoring us to the image of Christ. We begin to bear a strong resemblance to the nature and character of Jesus Christ…we begin to resemble Him. More and more. Every day.

How does this happen? A little bit like the teenage girls who slowly become twins as they spend time together…a little like the husband and wife who grow in their resemblance to each other…so too with us, as we spend time with the Lord, in His Word, fellowshipping with Him throughout the day, speaking with Him in prayer…we too grow in our likeness of Him. But it’s not just that his character will “rub off” on us…no there is a greater power at work in us. The Holy Spirit, who dwells within the believer, will do the work, changing us, molding us day by day, into the image of Christ. And as He does this, we find the things He hates, we begin to hate. And the things He loves, we begin to love. And the character of Christ, it shines through ours.

We begin to bear a family resemblance to Christ, such that people know we belong to Him. And they learn more about Him by observing our characters.

That is our hope, and that is our aim. To be ever, increasingly more like Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

 

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Call it what it is. Part 2

24 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This photo was taken from the article  “Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children” mentioned below. The purpose in using it was to point to the confusion surrounding issues pertaining to morality and how we understand them, not as a summary of three categories that all behaviours can be compartmentalized into.* (updated on September 27)

Do words matter all that much? You say “pot-A-to”, I say “po-TA-to”, right? In our postmodern, post-Christian culture, words and their meanings are relative. Truth, if there is such a thing, can be found from within yourself. If you believe it to be true, then it is. Before postmodernism, was the modern age, the result of 18th century Enlightenment thinkers who believed truth was made known on the basis of rational, scientific, and empirical inquiry. For many centuries prior to this, faith was the main means of coming to know the truth. Postmodernism is therefore a fairly recent historical shift in the way that people think. Without a grasp on the significance of postmodernism and its influence on how people perceive truth, Christians will be unable to defend against the tide of anti-biblical thinking, and once again, I want to make the case that it very much does matter what we say, and how we say it.

One of the most current and discussed examples of relativistic postmodern thinking is shown in the way our culture addresses sexuality. The biblical definition of marriage is the union of one man to one woman, for life. The point here is not to outline and defend the Biblical view of the marriage relationship, but simply to state that that is what God ordained as the one union where sexuality was to be expressed and enjoyed. Whether it be through sexual acts outside of marriage or through homosexual unions, the Bible is clear that sinful sexual behaviour is not only harmful and destructive to those engaged, but to others as well. This is not a popular view in the world, where promiscuity and personal fulfillment by whatever means is applauded as the highest good.

For many centuries, conservative views of sexuality were the norm, which is not to say that homosexuality and other types of unbiblical sexual behaviour did not occur, but that the dominant view supported the union of one man to one woman. For the past five decades since the sexual revolution, we have seen the traditional view crumble, relatively quickly, and be replaced with a very different morality. Albert Mohler recently wrote an article in The Atlantic about the sexual revolution where he states that prior to the 1960s when it began to occur, “Divorce was difficult, if not impossible to obtain, and it came with a taint of scandal that could doom professional prospects and personal reputation. Premarital sex happened, but it was discouraged. Homosexuality dared not speak its name, and lifestyles pressing for moral legitimacy today were virtually unknown to most Americans. Adultery was not only censured, but often penalized by both law and public condemnation.” The new morality that replaced old views of sexuality has had and will continue to have devastating personal, familial and social affects.

Here is where the need for Christian courage and clarity comes in to play. With the sexual revolution and postmodern thinking, there comes a strong argument against any absolute views of morality. Since the postmodern world believes that truth is relative, and people must determine for themselves what is good and right, and the only thing that is unacceptable would be to condemn or disagree with anyone’s personal views, Christians must have even more courage to stand for biblical truth even in the face of great pressure to accept and applaud all forms of sexual behavior. What Mohler mentions about the pre-1960s view of homosexuality is clearly not the case anymore. In fact, homosexuality is now applauded and encouraged in the most public forums possible. Parades, political platforms, advocacy groups, television and social media, all participate in promoting and praising the homosexual lifestyle as not only an alternative form of sexuality, but a good and desirable way of life. For example, how should Christians, when discussing the issue of so-called same-sex marriage, use their words to make it clear that they have a biblical perspective on sexuality? By doing just that. John Piper gets the credit for clarifying to me that even though there is a debate that is ongoing about legalizing the union of homosexuals, calling it marriage essentially identifies it as a legitimate union. His purposeful addition of “so-called” is not meant to be inflammatory but to be truthful. I’m not suggesting that we all must use this phrasing, so much as I am calling for Christians to be clear in their thinking and discussions. This may sound like a minor issue of wording but it’s not. Marriage is a union that was ordained by God, and since He created and determined its nature, we must hold to that view regardless of the shifting sands of cultural opinion that are giving way under our feet.

What could this mean for Christians? Will it really matter that Christians refer to it as “so-called same-sex marriage”? Will it matter that pastors preach sermons on texts that call homosexuality a sin? Will it matter that Christian children quietly refuse to participate in events that promote unbiblical sexuality at school? I think that the day is approaching (if not already here), when many Christians will be punished in various ways for their beliefs. Take a look at this short article from Desiring God regarding a case in New Mexico where a Christian photography business would not photograph a same-sex wedding and was brought to court as a result. Just Google Chic-fil-A and see what kind of slanderous things are being said about the company and their position on marriage. Or read the comments of many Torontonians who are enraged that Christian parents (along with other concerned parents) are asking the TDSB to opt their children out of classes where teachers are teaching on subjects such as homosexuality. What about this piece called “Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children” (*warning- some graphic content) written recently on a prominent online site that argues that pedophilia may simply be an illness, one that we must not condemn pedophiles for since it may be beyond their control? Take a look at this article on a film that was shown at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival that celebrates incest. Now that we have seen the normalization and institutionalization of homosexuality, and sadly the increasing charge to normalize other types of sinful sexual behaviour like pedophilia and incest, we are going to face the challenge of holding on to our beliefs, and the necessity of acting in accordance to conscience, against much pressure and potential punishment and ostracization.

We need to ask ourselves these questions. Are we willing to first and foremost be people of the book, no matter what it costs us? Do we have confidence that God’s word is the source of Truth and that His word and all it contains is written for our good, and for the good of the entire unbelieving world. Do we believe that biblical truth is not transient but absolute, and therefore what was written four thousand years ago is still relevant to us today? If we believe this, then we need to live and speak accordingly and as Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to be transformed by the renewing of the word so that we may be able to test and approve what is good and acceptable to God. We will be for the good of all people, if and only if our minds and hearts are fixed on Biblical truths and we learn to articulate them in a way that confronts, convicts, and comforts people with the hope of the Gospel. And most of all, we will be seeking after what is acceptable to God, the only one who we must aim to please.

Stay Tuned

20 Sep

Don’t be mad…but I just can’t think of anything to write.

I really tried. I started writing a post about how we shouldn’t waste our lives wishing for the weekend. Every Monday we wish it were Friday. Every Friday we look forward to our Saturday morning sleep in. Every Sunday we dread Monday…only start over again. What a waste. If we only had one week to live, would we still be wishing for the weekend with such fervour?

But honestly, I couldn’t turn it into a whole post. It seemed like a good idea in my mind, but it just didn’t work out on paper.

Then I tried writing about how every new phase of my life requires me to learn how to live all over again. With marriage, comes learning how to be a wife and home keeper. With motherhood comes learning how to care for a child while still maintaining my sanity. And I anticipate that there will be several phases to come that will require me to once again learn how to live all over again. But as I wrote the post, I sounded like such a pessimist…and I sounded like I was stressing out over the future, even though that’s not really how I feel. It sounded like someone else speaking, and not me, so I decided to discard that idea too.

Then I got excited because I thought about writing some of my most bizarre childhood memories. Like the time that I had a dog walking business and the St. Bernard across the street attacked me. It was a lesson in obedience, since my mother had strictly warned me not to walk that particular dog. I didn’t listen, and I ended up in the hospital. And I also wanted to write about the time I was in grade four and some of the girls in my class decided they didn’t like me any more. This led to the formation of the “I hate Dina” club…a club that didn’t last long, and I was once again invited into the inner circle. The memory is a funny thing, and since I dont know which ones will be stored in Amanda’s mind, I want to make each interaction I have with her one that is worthy of being stored in her memory for life.

I really thought that post would work…but the words just weren’t coming.

I even considered writing about how much I wish I could relive my teenager years…only this time I would live like the only perspective that mattered was God’s….and I wouldn’t care so much what other people thought of me and how they perceived me. I wouldn’t be so self conscious thinking that everyone was watching my ever move. Who cares if I was seen alone? Who cares if people thought I had no one to talk to. In fact, if I did it over, I would walk into the cafeteria with a book, sit down at a table alone, and read. That’s exactly what I’d do.

But this one needs more thought. Living for an audience of only one…I really want to develop that one…and I’m way too tired for that right now.

So I’ll be honest. I don’t think I can write one tonight. I’m more sleepy than usual. I’m staring at my couch with deep longing. I’m waking up at 6:30 am tomorrow and the very thought makes me nauseous.

I hope you’ll forgive me. I promise…next week will be a good one.

Book List

20 Sep

So to kick off September, I decided to write myself a list of books I would like to get through by next year. Here is my list which as of yesterday became one book shorter!!

Loving The Little Years: Motherhood In The Trenches by Rachel Jankovic (this is the one I just finished…it’s a great book and should/must be read by all mothers of young children)

The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise

Let The Nations Be Glad by John Piper

Instruments In The Redeemer’s Hands: People In Need Of Change Helping People In Need Of Change by Paul David Tripp

This Momentary Marriage by John Piper

What do you think of my list? Any suggestions? Any takers for reading one of the books along with me?

Meet My Shadow

13 Sep

Amanda has entered a new phase of her life. I like to refer to it with the sophisticated and highly technical term…”clingy.” Yes, I believe clingy is the right term to describe what’s happening. Don’t get me wrong, I love her constant attention and need for affection (I honestly do). It’s just that having a permanent shadow can sometimes get a little tricky.

Take for example the other day when I was washing the dishes. She sat at my feet, clinging onto my pant legs, crying desperately for me to pick her up. I have to admit, the dishes probably didn’t pass a safety check under those conditions…for how can I resist her clear display of wanting to be close to me? Then there are the mornings when I’m trying to get ready. She will sit on the bathroom floor, looking up at me with those “I can’t wait for you to carry me” eyes…she’ll follow me from the bathroom, to the closet, and to the bathroom again. Her eyes don’t come off of me. I try to distract her with a basket of make up, toiletries, anything…and sometimes it will work. But once I leave the room, it’s over. She’s on my trail in seconds, desperate to ensure that I’m not out of reach.

I’d love to say it’s because of my good looks and my charming personality.. But I know that’s not the case. I know that what’s happening here is her growing sense of complete dependence on me. In fact, have you ever thought about how completely dependent young children are on their parents? Think about it. They could not be changed were it not for us. They can only eat what we offer them. They only wear what we provide. They have no say in where they go, when they’ll return and what they’ll be doiing while they’re there. They look to their parents for every single facet of their lives.

Utter dependence.

This morning I was listening to a sermon by Pastor John MacArthur on the pillars of Christian character. He referred to the story found in Matthew 18. Jesus’ disciples are arguing amongst each other over who of them would be greatest in the kingdom of heaven. To teach them a lesson on humility Jesus takes a little child into His arms and instructs them with these words: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

The applications of this verse are many. Among them is the truth that we have much to learn from the total dependence a young child has on his parents. As he humbly looks to his parents for every aspect of life, so we too must we come to God in humility and be completely dependent on our heavenly Father. It would be ridiculous if a young infant were to declare that he no longer needed his mother or father. “I’ll be changing my own diaper from now on…thank you very much.”  Yet how many times do I go about my day, depending on my own strength, wisdom and will. God’s word reminds me that my dependence on God must be total and complete…looking to Him for every need, desire and want…trusting in His wisdom and providencial care.

It’s not just the dependence that Amanda has on me that causes her to  be glued to my feet at all times. For often times I’m not fulfillling a specific need or meeting one of her desires at that moment. In fact one of our favorite pass times together is when she is playing with her toys in her play room. I rest my head on the carpet and simply watch her play. I’m not doing anything particularly impressive at the the time. I’m not singing fun songs, playing creative games or even talking for that matter. I’m simply sitting and enjoying her company. Occassionally I’ll quickly leave the room to get something that I need…and that’s when it happens…panic. She’ll cry, follow me out of the room, devastated that I would even consider leaving for a brief moment. And that’s when I realize it…she just wants to be with me. She wants the safety and security of knowing that her mother is in the room.

Another lesson learned. For I can’t help but ask myself if I crave my God’s fellowship in this same way. Am I content with living my day completely cut off from any thoughts of God, any meditations on His word, any words of prayer? Or do I long to think more on His perfect character, reflect on the wonderful truths of His word, and seek to be in prayer as I go about my daily life? Do I seek after His presence the way Amanda seeks after mine?

True, we don’t look to God in the same way that a child looks to his parents. We do not use our physical eyes, nor do we outgrow our need of Him. Instead, with the spiritual eyes of faith, we grow in our dependence of Him daily. For the more we know of Him, the more we realize how much we are in need of Him and how completely satisfying He truly is.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.” Hebrews 12:2

Lessons from the Microwave

6 Sep

Think of all the things you could learn about yourself if you examine your behaviour while standing at the microwave. I know, it seems silly, but give me a chance.

“The Last Ten Seconds Test”

It’s incredible when you think of how quickly your meal can be prepared. 2.5 minutes is all you need to deliver a dinner plate that is piping hot. You’d think that would be satisfying enough, right? But have you ever been guilty of standing at the microwave, staring at the numbers as they make their way down to zero, and decide that you just can’t wait out the last ten seconds? I’ve done it several times. With only ten seconds left to go, I tell myself “I’m sure it’s hot enough. What’s another ten seconds going to do anyways?” And so I pull my food out of the microwave, prematurely of course, satisfied that I’ve saved myself ten seconds of my life!  If you think you’re a patient person, stand at the microwave and watch your meal being warmed. See if you pass the “Last 10 Seconds Test”.

Drifting Thoughts

As you stand at the microwave, see if you can pinpoint exactly what it is that you’re thinking about. You can tell a lot about someone by what they think about when there’s really nothing to think about. The microwave is not unique in offering us this window into our thoughts. Sitting in traffic, waiting in line, lying in bed trying to fall asleep. These are all moments when our thoughts tend to drift…and their final destination reveals much about the condition of our hearts and the cares on our minds. It’s been said that the average person spends 60 minutes a day just “waiting”. Okay fine, I made that statistic up…but the amount of time we spend waiting is probably close to that…What do we do with that time? What thoughts are we entertaining and what can we learn about our hearts as a result?

The All Important To Do List

Maybe you’ve read the last point and thought “Stand at the microwave?” There’s no time to just stand there…do you know how much I have to do? That’s 2.5 minutes that I can actually use to cross things off my list. Load the laundry, empty the dishwasher, take out the garbage…I could go on.” I have to admit, this is me. Sometimes I am so driven to cross each item off my to do list, that I’ll drive myself crazy using every minute of the day to get it all done. I need the reminder that if I can’t even afford a couple of minutes to stand and wait for my food to be prepared, then perhaps I’m placing unnecessary expectations on myself. God has given us 24 hours in a day, not so that we can whine about how there aren’t enough hours in our day, but because that is the sufficient amount of time we need to accomplish all that He would have us do. If we’re running ourselves dry, could it be that we need a lesson in simplifying our lives and reorganizing our priorities based on God’s principles?

What we Eat

I put a lot of  thought into my food. What should eat? When will I prepare it? When will I buy it? How can I make it more creative? All this just for physical food. But what about spiritual food? As we stand at the microwave waiting for our physical food, is this not an opportunity to reflect on our spiritual diet, so to speak, of God’s word.  Do I put the same effort into ensuring that I receive spiritual nourishment? Am I receiving my daily portion of God’s word? Am I drinking from the living water and feasting on Christ on a consistent basis? If not, what in my life needs to change so that the answer can be a resounding yes?

So….what do you learn about yourself if you examine your microwave habits? Are you as patient as you thought? What is the content of your thoughts? Have you filled your life with too many responsibilities that leave you running frantically through life with little time to slow down? Are you placing the right importance on your spiritual nutrition, rather than just your physical nourishment?

It’s only 2.5 minutes, but it can reveal so much.

 

My Peace I Give To You; Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled

6 Sep

As a Christian, there is a kind of peace I experience that is far above and beyond what this world can offer. It is “a peace that passes understanding,” as the apostle Paul would say…and it is mine in Christ. It is the kind of peace that remains even when things aren’t going my way. Ironically, it’s the kind of peace that holds up in the most chaotic of circumstances. It’s a personal peace with God and others that I enjoy because of the Gospel, and I am eternally indebted to God for that.

But what bearing does my personal peace have for your life? Does it matter that I enjoy this very intimate and personal peace? Are there any consequences to not having this person peace?

Piper wrestled with this question in a sermon he recently preached on John 14: 25-31 entitled “My Peace I Give To You; Let Not Your Hearts Be Troubled,” and touched on it again in this sermon. Essentially the answer is this, my personal peace with God affects your life. And so it follows that your personal peace with God affects my life and the lives of those around you.

We see numerous examples of this in Scripture. Think of the Thessalonians. News of their faith in Christ (which subsequently means peace with God) sounded forth and was an encouragement to an entire region of believers. Imagine that. An entire region of Christians simply heard about the faith these other Christians had, and they were encouraged. Even the apostle Paul himself was encouraged by the faith of these believers. And think about young Timothy and how the sincere faith of his mother and grandmother affected his life. Little did these two women know that their personal peace with God would affect generations of Christians to come!

Now, this means that the opposite must be true as well. If we lack personal peace with God we are still going to have an effect on the world around us, only it won’t encourage – rather it will tear down and destroy. You see this clearly in the world around us – terrorism, mass murders, broken families, immorality. All of it is rooted in hearts that do not know the peace of God. People like to pretend that what goes on in a person’s heart really doesn’t matter. But it does. Remember what Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19).

Our personal peace matters, and I would challenge you in particular Christian to strive to enjoy that personal peace with God on a daily basis. Think of how the Lord used the faith of the Thessalonians and of Timothy’s mother and grandmother and be encouraged. Be encouraged to think that God uses us in ways that we can’t even imagine. And at the same time be sobered by the reality of what our lack of peace can accomplish in the lives of those around us.

Call it what it is.

5 Sep

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”- Isaiah 5:20

 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” – Romans 1:18

 

I can’t help but be even more heartbroken than usual at the enthusiastic support for abortion that is making rounds through every media avenue. For those of you who are following the news, the upcoming American election is what’s highlighting the divide between those who are pro-life, and those who are pro-choice. That tweet I shared at the top from an American comedian, Sarah Silverman, reveals a lot about the way that people view this issue, and sheds even more light on the use of language to distort the truth. According to most liberals, if you’re not on the pro-choice side of the abortion debate and supportive of this arm of the women’s liberation movement, then you are in opposition to freedom, to true humanity, to justice. It’s not about the babies; it’s about the women who are having (or not having) them. And it’s not about murder, it’s about RIGHTS.

Doesn’t that term “reproductive rights” sound so persuasive? Pro-choice. The women’s liberation movement. I mean, all of these words sound so positive, so humane, so at the core of all that our society holds to as pillars of progress and forward movement. These are just examples of the kinds of things that we hear from people who take this position:

  • Women should be free to do whatever they want with their own bodies. Who are you to tell me what I can or can’t do with my body?
  • I have rights. I don’t know who gave them to me but I have them and I demand to see them respected and upheld by everyone.
  • Women need to be freed from oppression. For too long society has held them down, subjugating them to the role of wife and mother. Free them!

Here are a few things that Margret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, today’s premier purveyor of abortions in America, had to say about the issue.

“The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” – Women and the New Race 
(Eugenics Publ. Co., 1920, 1923)

 “I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world – that have disease from their parents, that have no chance in the world to be a human being practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin – that people can – can commit.”

Wow. So it is an act of “mercy” to kill an infant? It is “the greatest sin” to bring diseased children into the world since they have no chance to be human beings? This coming from the mouth of the woman who is responsible for advocating birth control to prevent the world from having unwanted children, and to getting rid of those that were already in the womb but were undesirable. According to Sanger, and sadly to many others today, her definition of sin would be allowing a child to live.

Ok, what about that word sin? I guess that’s what this all comes down to. Not that word alone, but what it represents, as a statement of truth that describes one’s actions as right or wrong, good or evil, righteous or unrighteous, in opposition to God. The thing that people find most offensive about the Bible is not that it lacks clarity and is hard to understand, but that it is perspicuous, never mincing words, always speaking the truth. Every page is filled with those truths that describe clearly what sin is. It tells us who is guilty of sin (everyone). We learn many stories of the consequences of disobedience while looking at the lives of the men and women that fill its pages. Never is there an unclear word or passage where anyone would have trouble determining whether or not killing babies, or committing adultery, are wrong. No sinful action is painted in a positive light to make it seem more acceptable; no words are distorted and twisted to “call good evil and evil good”. It’s blindingly clear, and ultimately, this is what makes it so good. This is the light to our path, and sight to blind eyes. Without God’s kind revealing of what sin is, whom it is we have sinned against, and the remedy for our sin, we would have no hope. As it says in John 8:32, we are only set free once we know what is true. As long as we believe in lies, we are dead, in bondage to sin, under the power of the prince of the age.

This is where I believe Christians need to really become attuned, if they’re not already, to the power of language and the danger of succumbing to our culture’s rhetoric. If we remain ignorant and acquiesce to the climate of the day, then we risk loosing our witness to the watching (and reading or listening) world. We of all people must be clear about what is true and what’s not, and accordingly, we need our words to be shaped by that truth. It is no small thing to fall into the trap of using words such as “reproductive rights” or “women’s liberation” to discuss issues like abortion and feminism. There is a subtle and dangerous agenda that lies behind all of the positive-sounding verbiage that originates from the one who ultimately desires to deceive and destroy. By masking the truth about what people are doing, Satan effectively keeps people from seeing their sin and their need for the Savior. When we use words like “alcoholism” to describe someone who is addicted to alcohol, we can be participating in a very subtle form of transference. A word like “alcoholism” gives the impression that  “It’s not me; it’s a disease that is genetic. I’m predisposed to strong drink; therefore I’m not in control over what I do.” This is a grave danger! For all of us, we must be willing to face, and to help others face the fact that according to Scripture, addiction to alcohol is a result of the fact that we are sinners, not that we inherited a genetic problem or disease for which we then have no accountability. As another example, what about that word “affair”?  It sounds so mysterious, so attractive even. We would be more inclined to hide the truth in a word like “affair” that connotes something much less than what it is, rather than call it adultery or describe the act of illicit sex outside of marriage as a vile, destructive, life-ruining sin.

And back to the abortion issue. What’s at hand is not “women’s rights” or “freedom”, but rather the murder of human life, plain and simple. I’m not suggesting that Christians who understand the issue and realize that abortion is murder are afraid to call it that, but rather, when we refuse to engage people who do believe that the debate centres on rights and the freedom to chose, we are running away from a battle that we must engage in. I am a person who hates to run into a debate. Contrary to what some of you who know me might think, they make me nervous, nauseous even to the point that I’d rather spend the next hour breathing into a paper bag in the privacy of my bathroom than going head on with someone who I know from the outset is bound to disagree, maybe even hate me because of what I believe and what I will say.

In teacher’s college, I had this experience every day. I would get up and walk into a minefield. Thankfully I had a few likeminded friends who kept me from feeling like I was getting completely annihilated, but nonetheless it was exhausting. I knew that each day, some new social issue, moral topic, or political position would be on the table for discussion (or rather a loud shouting match with some of the shouters foaming at the mouth). And each day, I knew that I was going to in some way have to give an answer for the hope that I had. I didn’t end up having many direct discussions in my classroom about my faith, but it did matter what I said, and what I was willing to stand up for when it came to issues that I knew the Bible spoke clearly on. Silence in this case was not an option. Silence would have been a tacit acceptance of everything that was being portrayed as truth, and yet was wickedly false, especially because we were being asked to participate. It was not a lecture, it was interactive. I knew that even if I didn’t succeed in persuading one single person of the rightness of any of the positions I was taking, it didn’t matter. God uses our speaking the truth to bring conviction, and we may never see the result of that. Nonetheless, He requires of us that we not be afraid, but rather we be like Daniel, Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, not bowing down to the idols of our age, but standing up before the one true God. That is our witness.

So language matters in that we firstly need to be clear about what the Bible says about sin. We need to have a clear understanding of how speaking the truth is part of our witness to those who don’t know Christ. We need to be convinced that there are lies that are being promoted as truth all around us. And we need to ask God for the courage to stand up, when necessary, and speak in love to those around us, not shirking back from difficult, uncomfortable conversations as they come along, but engaging people and being willing to call things what they are. By doing this, we will be salt and light, and by God’s grace, he will use the truth to bring many more people into the light. Only then will they be receivers of true freedom, not the counterfeit kind that is being peddled on every pedestal, political platform, and from within our own deceitful hearts.