Category Archives: Daily Paradigm Shift

God’s Patience and Bird Box

woman wearing black blindfold facing sidewaysThe popular Netflix movie Bird Box explores what happens when people are exposed to the absolutely worst thing they can imagine. In each scenario, the characters’ response is suicide (unless they were mentally ill).  To protect themselves, the surviving characters walk around with blindfolds on.

The movie made me consider what would be horrible for me. Maybe it would be seeing a true reflection of my heart or witnessing the pure evil in the world. Even now, I am easily overwhelmed by the horrors that happen in our world–a few minutes of the news, and I am ready to blindfold myself. What if we couldn’t walk away though? What if we were subjected to not just a segment of the worlds’ sin, but all of it, all the time?

We Can Walk Away

I am blessed that, for the most part, I can walk away from the ugly reflection of our sin. God, however, cannot. He endures every act of violence, every injury to a child, every misalignment of his character for all time. God could end it too. He could stop the sin and suffering by bringing His mighty judgment.  However, it would have to be one that wipes out the earth though since none of us is innocent. 

Ironically, this seems to be a theme in Bird Box. Those who are insane deliberately try to get others to open their eyes and call it a cleansing.  But this is a cleansing without mercy and without hope. 

God’s response is neither to blindfold himself or to destroy us. Instead, He makes a way out that both respects the grievous effects of sin and the suffering it causes.  

Read the rest here.

Loving Those Who Consider Abortion

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Several days ago New York made changes to their abortion laws by allowing abortions up to nine months in some situations. New York Magazine’s headline boldly states “New York has finally updated its archaic abortion law” revealing their happiness in this change. This law change came mainly in response to the current administration’s plan to overrule Roe vs Wade. Those who voted in favor believed that this was their attempt to keep abortion available to women no matter what. The courtroom erupted in applause after the vote because they felt they were protecting women’s rights.

Even still, much of the United States was shocked. They argued that celebrating the right to kill our country’s most vulnerable is horrifying. Ever since this moment, social media has been broiling with anger coming from both sides.

The question is: how do we as Christians respond?

First, we must not lose heart.   It’s tempting to be overwhelmed by the cultural changes that are decidedly un-Christian.  However, we must remember two things: 1) The original disciples lived in a world much more hostile to our faith. They were completely outnumbered and many believed their sect was ridiculous and/or dangerous. We all know about the arenas where Christians were fed to the lions and many have heard how Nero himself used burning Christians as lights in his garden. 2) They didn’t set out to change the world–only to proclaim His Gospel. God did the transforming work Himself.

In fact, the impact the early Christians in many ways lay in their acts of sacrificial love.  Rodney Stark, a historian, notes in his book The Rise of Christianity that during a plague Christians refused to run. Instead, they chose to stay and care for those who were ill, no matter how dangerous.  This radical picture of love turned many people to faith.

So what does that look like for us?

We should absolutely not stop lobbying for anti-abortion laws. However, in the meantime, we need to do our best to love those who would consider abortion.

Read the rest here.

Waiting for God During Your Silent Night

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When we think of Christmas, it is easy to imagine the scene of Jesus’s arrival as a joyous time for all involved. Instead, history shows us that Israel was a powder keg and Jesus was in many ways a match to light it.

Silent, But Not Calm

Over two thousand years ago, the Roman Empire firmly in control of most of the known world, Israel sat quietly–at least on the surface.  Underneath the veneer of subservience, Israel seethed with regret, with holy aspirations, and with a tiny glimmer of hope. Their hope was for the renewed glory of Israel. They had had a taste when they miraculously threw off the yoke of Syrian captivity under the Seleucids.  Their own internal conflicts, however, led them once again under the power of another. Unable to settle their own claims to leadership, they actually invited the Romans in to restore order. They did, by taking control of Jerusalem in 63 B.C. about fifty-seven years before Jesus’s birth.

Added to this politically tumultuous time was the fact that there had been no prophetic voice since the prophet Malachi almost four hundred years prior. Realizing that they had no hope of freedom on their own, they began to hope for the Messiah to rescue them. A lay group of men who wanted to purify themselves by following the Law of God perfectly emerged to help hasten the day.  These men were the Pharisees.

The Silence Broken

It is in this climate of tension that John’s voice first emerged.  He urged repentance and spoke of one to come of whom John was not worthy to untie the straps of his sandals (John 1:27 NLT). Although he looked strange and was not a part of the organized religion of the day, people flocked to hear him speak. They were moved by the power of his words and the power behind his words.

Though Jesus and John were cousins, we can assume they had no meeting until the day Jesus came to be baptized, as John had been raised in the desert by the Essenes. So when John sees Jesus for the first time, he prophecies, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NLT).  The hoped-for Messiah had arrived, but He was not what they thought. He didn’t come to liberate them from their current external bondage but to liberate them from their internal bondage.

Read the rest here.

Are You Missing Community?

I lived in China as a TEFOL instructor at a Chinese boarding school for a year when I was still in college. Among all the cultural differences I observed, I couldn’t help but notice how different the Chinese students who lived on the campus related to each other compared to American students I had observed before.

In the class, no one was ever left out of activities. Even if it was obvious certain students didn’t get along, it was never an option to not include everyone in activities. Being part of the group was a given for them.

In our Western culture, this is not so.

Everyone has to earn their place in the group, which can be exhausting. There is always the chance that you will mess up badly enough that you will be kicked out and rejected. This undercurrent of fear keeps people from being completely authentic with each other also.

Part of this is due to our modern society with its continuous motion. In the past, most people lived their entire lives in the same community. They often had to rely upon one another just to survive. This forced people to learn to get along with each other, even those they really didn’t like. Everyone knew the group was too important to sacrifice to petty differences. They truly saw that they needed each other.

Read the rest here.

Not So Toxic Masculinity–Men, We Need Your Strength

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I explained it to my husband like this: when I am walking down a narrow street and a man calls out to me, I am instantly afraid. He may have no ulterior motives except to compliment me, but I don’t know him. I only know that we are alone, and he is stronger than me, making me vulnerable. I don’t intend to judge every man I meet as a possible attacker, but I am foolish not to think there is a possibility. Every woman can attest to that undercurrent of fear.

That being said, I also believe that most men coming upon a woman being attacked would use that same strength to protect her from harm. I have seen it happen many times. My own husband has stepped up many times to protect those who are weaker and, for that, I am very grateful.

Using Strength to Help

I remember one strange scenario where he was driving down the road and a woman fell out of a car as it turned the corner. My husband got out of the car to see what was happening. The woman lay unconscious on the ground. The male driver got out and started dragging her back to the vehicle. Many times he dropped her, so that her head hit the ground. My husband was furious and got between the man and the woman, keeping the man from reaching her again. He warned the man that he would hurt him if he tried to touch her again. He then waited until the police showed up.

I am proud of him for doing that. I am proud of every man who uses his strength to protect another from harm. This is the kind of masculinity that we appreciate. While we might want our men to curb any acts of aggression believing it leads to toxic masculinity, I disagree. I want my husband to aggressively defend me and my three children.  I need him too.

Faith Moore in an interesting article called “The Prince Is a Letdown: Why Women Love Monsters (And What that Says About Masculinity)” explains that women are drawn to the monsters in stories–the beast in Beauty and the Beast, Edward Cullen in Twilight, and the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera.

But, of course, men who behaved in real life like the way these monsters do in their stories would not be the kind of men we’d want to associate with…But the stories deal with that too. The moment that Belle begins to fall in love with the Beast is the moment in which he uses that brute force and rage to protect her. Edward’s appeal lies largely in his struggle to keep his monstrous urges at bay for the sake of his love for Bella. When the Phantom murders Piangi we know, in our hearts, that Christine can never be with him because he’s shown he can’t channel his urges for good….It’s the way the monsters channel and control their overwhelming urges in response to the love they feel for their partners that really seals the deal for us.

Whether most women would admit it or not, there is an attraction to strength. However, it isn’t the presence of it that is so appealing–it’s the control of it. Why is the image of a strong, muscled man holding a baby so beautiful? It is the perfect image of strength under control–for the sake of love.

Read the rest here.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash