But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
When people ask if I think God will judge them – or America, the liberals, Putin, etc. – for this or that, they are often asking if God is going to strike them (us) with cancer or send a locust swarm. Scripture – e.g., Psalm 81:11 – suggests that he is more likely to allow us to do what we want, but then not shield us from the consequences of our misdeeds. Sin is stupid behavior that we’d never knowingly choose if our hearts were pure and we knew what God knows. We do well to trust the one who created everything when he says, “You do not want to go that way. It’s not a short cut.” Among the things in life we should legitimately fear is that we might reap what we sow.
A Walk Also Works: After agreeing that we need to spend more time reading the Bible and praying if we hope to navigate the “volume and velocity of modern life,” several readers of last week’s Update noted that they also “play offense” by taking long walks, especially in the woods.
Don’t Get This Backwards: While preaching on John 13 two weeks ago, I was reminded of how much I like Peter. His promise to lay down his life for Jesus, which he followed up by denying Christ three times, makes him very relatable. Indeed, I’ve been guilty of just that kind of zealous overcommitment. Let me suggest that among the things we can learn from Peter is that we are foolish to trust in our love for God rather than trust in his love for us. As John states: “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” We cannot afford to have our theology backwards.
And: Many think that grace and truth are mutually exclusive, but in John 1:14 we are told that the Word was full of grace AND truth. We need to find ways to elevate both.
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The OODA Loop: Earlier this week I had a chance to interview former Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) at The Forum – a Christ Church quarterly men’s event held at a local sports bar. In advance of the interview, I asked Kirk what I should be sure to ask him about. He said, “Ask me about the most exciting and underrated advance in American military in fifty years.” So I did, and he spoke about the OODA Loop. What is the OODA Loop? It is the time it takes your opponent to observe, orient, decide and act. According to Kirk, who in addition to 10 years in the House and 8 in the Senate, spent 23 years in Naval intelligence – in World War II the U.S.’s OODA Loop was one week. By Vietnam it was one day. It currently stands at 11 minutes, which is about one week shorter than Russia’s. He then challenged me to a game of chess where I can only move a piece once a week and he gets to move every 11 minutes.
Can We Trust the Gospels? At 7 p.m. on Monday, February 13th, I am interviewing Dr. Peter J. Williams, the Principal of Tyndale House in Cambridge and the author of several books, including Can We Trust the Gospels? The session with Peter is free and open to everyone. If you live in the area feel free to stop by, but please register here first. (Note: a link to the interview with Peter will be available next week.)
Without Comment: 1) According to Gallup, 41% of U.S. adults now identify as Independents, which is higher than either Republicans or Democrats who tie at 28%; 2) Between 2011 and 2021, 50% of Americans read the Bible at least three times a year. In 2022 that percentage dropped to 39%; 3) As of the end of last year, 64% of U.S. consumers were living paycheck to paycheck, up from 61% the year before; 4) 1% of criminals account for 63% of violent crime; 5) According to Brooking’s scholar Richard Reeves, girls are 14% more likely than boys to be “school ready” at age five. Girls now account for two-thirds of students ranked in the top 10% of their H.S. class, 57% of B.A. degrees are awarded to women, and women receive the majority of law degrees. In contrast, men are significantly more likely to “stop out” (pause their studies) or drop out of college, and labor force participation among prime-age men (25–54) has dropped 7% in the past 50 years.
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Word of the Week: Both Tipflation (which is obvious) and manosphere (which refers to the collection of websites, blogs, and online forums promoting masculinity and opposing feminism) were nominated. I also considered captology (which is the study of how computer technology can be used to change people’s opinions, persuade them to take action or foment addictive or compulsive behavior). But I am going with libido dominandi, which was used in a WSJ editorial. It refers to “the vulnerabilities of the human condition, including what St. Augustine called the libido dominandi—the impulse to exert dominance over others.”
You are Not Crazy: In the last five years we have learned just how shaped various news sources are by their different worldviews. Sometimes the contrast is particularly easy to see. Click here to see an example.
On a Related Note: This WSJ article reports on the response of the University of North Carolina’s faculty to the Board’s decision to launch the School of Civic Life and Leadership, which will be dedicated to “encouraging open-minded study in history, literature, philosophy, political science and religion.” As you might guess, the faculty are… uh…, “not happy.” Expect more fights. And understand that in the battle over the direction of education, the fights over college are JV skirmishes compared to the varsity battles – which will come over public grade schools.
Closing Prayer: Give us grace to endeavor a truly Christian spirit to seek to attain that temper of forbearance and patience of which our blessed Savior has set as the highest example; and which, while it prepares us for the spiritual happiness of the life to come, will secure to us the best enjoyment of what this world can give. Incline us, oh God, to think humbly of ourselves, to be severe only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with the charity which we would desire from them ourselves. Amen. (Jane Austen 1775 – 1817)