God and His believers need to change.  So say the politicians.  Such hubris is not entirely theirs, as “politics is downstream of culture,” per Chuck Colson.

British MP Justine Greening, in addressing education reform said, “It is important that the church, in a way, keeps up and is part of a modern country.”  She added, “I think people do want to see our major faiths keep up with modern attitudes.”  A former candidate for U.S. President said, “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.”

Why the push to change beliefs?  The proximate cause is morality.  Behind that is the belief that science alone speaks truth.  David Berlinski’s syllogism is: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.  If science is true, then God does not exist.  Therefore if science is true, then everything is permitted.”  Jean-Paul Sarte concludes, “As a result man is forlorn, because neither within him or without does he find anything to cling to.”

The culture has shifted, painfully, and God is in the way.  It has a place for spirituality, but not the sin-savior-sanctification of Christianity.  Hence revisionist movement, even within the church, to demur from truth, morality, and the nature of God as revealed in the Bible.  Shall we change God or shall He change us?  “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust” (Matt. 21:44).  We come to the ancient cornerstone as He is, not as we imagine He should be.  It is we who need breaking.

In a world that has forgotten how to blush, God hasn’t moved and He doesn’t change.  Truth is eternal and so is His character.  “I, the Lord do not change” (Mal. 3:6).  “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Is. 40:8).  Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not” (Matt. 24:35).  Our challenge is to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness” (Jude 1:3-4).  Do you notice?

Zygmunt Bauman coined the term “liquid modernity” to describe the increasing pace of societal change as people travel through life like tourists, changing jobs, spouses, identity, and morality.  Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option” calls for Christians to build “a way of life that stands as an island of sanctity and stability amid the high tide of liquid modernity,” which is now upon us.

As you respond to the ruckus around you, cultural refugees seeking that sanctity and stability will find Jesus’ merry band of believers ready to take them in.  Are you ready to be part of that?  “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 144:15), who does not change.

The Forgiver

Rachael Denhollander had her day in court.  She spoke not only to the doctor, Larry Nassar who abused over 150 young gymnasts in his care, but also to the judge, other victims, and to all of us.

Her most quoted statement to Nassar is, “I pray you experience the soul-crushing weight of guilt so you may someday experience true repentance and true forgiveness from God, which you need far more than forgiveness from me – though I extend that to you as well.”  This was in the context of her oft repeated theme, “How much is a little girl worth?” as she argued for the maximum penalty.

One might ask, if she is willing to forgive him, why ask the judge to throw the book at Nassar?  In short, because forgiveness does not mean there are no consequences.

Denhollander argued that the victims have value.  For the judge to let Nassar go would be tantamount to declaring that his crimes didn’t matter, nor did the young gymnasts’ shattered lives.  In fact, the judge would be irrelevant too, if he did not impart justice.  Consequences affirm that judges, crimes, and little girls do matter.

This illuminates the Christian message of substitionary atonement, i.e. Jesus dying on the cross for your sins.  The question is, if God wanted to forgive, why didn’t he just do it without that bloody execution 2000 years ago?  For God to just “let it go” would mean that morality doesn’t matter.  If morality doesn’t matter, i.e. what people do to themselves and to others, then people don’t matter and even God is irrelevant.  No, Divine justice requires consequences for sin.

Enter Jesus.  As the only mediator between God and people, He “gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5-6) to release you from the penalty of sin.  In other words, God presented Christ as a sacrifice through the shedding of his blood to demonstrate his righteousness, “so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:21-26).  As God is righteous and just, a price must be paid.  Jesus paid it all so the Father could forgive you.

The forgiven becomes the forgiver in God’s trickle down economy.  That’s hard to do on your own.  Max Lucado writes, “Logic says ‘bloody his nose.’  Jesus says, ‘wash his feet.’  Logic says ‘she doesn’t deserve it.’  Jesus says, ‘You’re right, but you don’t either.’ ”  Denhollander’s forgiveness and willingness to see her abuser in heaven are evidence of the forgiving power of Christ.

Grace means receiving forgiveness you don’t deserve.  You are set free from the eternal penalty of sin by believing Jesus.  To be set free from today’s anger, hurt, and bitterness, be a forgiver.  You can because He is.

Work as Worship

It would be an “oops” moment to climb the ladder of success only to learn your ladder was on the wrong building! If you haven’t discovered the right reason to work, you may find yourself making money in a meaningless career or a barely tolerable job.

If you study the ancient Hebrew word “avodah,” you’ll find it translated as worship, service, craftsmanship, and work. The Creator God inspires his creation to work and worship, responses that overlap in the Hebrew Scriptures. The New Testament adds, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

Since you spend the majority of your waking hours at work, shouldn’t those prepared-beforehand works include your workplace? That doesn’t mean you do awkward things at work. It starts with simply looking for God there. Author Gregory F.A. Pearce says, “Most of us spend so much time working, it would be a shame if we couldn’t find God there… There is a creative energy in work that is somehow tied to God’s creative energy. If we can understand that connection, perhaps we can use it to transform the workplace into something remarkable.”

I heard Casey Cook, CEO of Cloud Control Media explain that it’s a mistake to think you must invent ways to integrate faith into work. Faith enters the workplace when the believer walks in. If your identity is in Christ, you don’t check that at the workplace door. When Jesus said “let your light shine,” surely he knew that would transform your workplace. It will affect the way you treat people, conduct yourself, and complete your work. “Do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men… It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:23-24).

You serve Him in your workplace because He is there. Remember when He surprised his fishermen friends at work? He cooked breakfast for them on the beach. He shouted out for them to cast the net on the other side, and it worked. Startled, one of them said, “It’s the Lord!” It’s no surprise he was involved in their work because as Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’ ”

Why do you work? When you apply yourself as employee, tradesman, contract labor, or boss, you are participating in the Divine plan. Your work contributes in some way, at some level, to human flourishing. This is your calling, to be about your Father’s business, expressing His love and creative energy to your fellow workers, customers, or clients. Clergy or laity, blue or white collar, corner office or cubicle-dweller, paid or volunteer, your high calling is to work as an act of worship.


A wealthy New Yorker becomes President, much to the surprise of his fellow Republicans.  Many in the country express grief and fear.  But none know his limitations more than himself.  Ascending to the Presidency was his great adversity.

 In his book, “The Man the Presidency Changed,” Scott Greenberger documents the unlikely ascension of Chester Arthur.  Despite being known as corrupt and deeply flawed, his party nominated Arthur as Vice President on the ticket with James Garfield in 1880.    They won, but when Garfield was assassinated the next year, Arthur realized that his future presidency could not be like his past.

 Julia Sand acted on the great angst that gripped the nation.  She began to write letters to Arthur, including these lines: “Great emergencies awaken generous traits which have lain dormant half a life.  If there is a spark of true nobility in you, now is the occasion to let it shine…Reform!”  He did.  His work as an anti-corruption reformer and civil rights advocate earned many adversaries and cost him a second term.  The presidency transformed him and for that he said, “My debt is to the Almighty.”

 You and I won’t face the adversity that comes with high office, but we have our own.  How do we respond, and how does it affect us?  If ever a man could speak to adversity, the Biblical Job can.  You know the story, how he endured the loss of everything.

 Adversity didn’t come his way because God was punishing him.  In fact, he “was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (1:1).  Sure, you can create your own adversity that pushes you to repentance.  But when this fallen world just picks on you, God can still use it for good.  Wait for it.

 Job did not let his troubles cause him to doubt God.  He went so far as to say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).  When you know God is good and He loves you, you can trust that the adversity in your life is not meaningless.  “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (Jas. 1:2).

 Job protested a little much, so eventually the Lord responded by rolling out his extensive resume as Creator (ch. 40, 41).  Suddenly self-conscious, Job could only stammer, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted” (42:2).  Can you accept that God works purposefully in your life through blessing and adversity?

 I heard Mike Ducker, CEO of FedEx Freight, tell his story.  Some of his family members were murdered by another family member.  His tragedy drove him toward God and taught him a deeper faith.  He concluded, “Adversity is an opportunity to reflect Christ.”  Ponder that.