People are worried. The news is pretty unnerving.
Our family's seeing more anxiety through social media recently. People who seldom watch the news are watching it now. Our national leaders are speaking more ominously than we've ever heard them speak.
Yesterday a U.S. Senator said Ebola is "one of the most explosive, deadly epidemics in modern times." In Africa, the number of cases doubled in just the past month. You feel fine for three weeks after you've been infected. It's so easy to spread.
A friend recently asked me for advice on a new relationship he had begun with a girl he was interested in. I have been extremely happily married for almost 20 years now. So I thought about it for a bit, and came up with a few ideas about new or developing Christian romantic relationships. Hopefully they'll be useful for you or someone you know:
It's not been a happy, happy, happy week in Washington.
National leaders usually try to cool the rhetoric so we don't panic. Not these past few days. They're saying things folks like that just don't say.
You know something's up when the Secretary of Defense says in a press conference, "The world is exploding all over."
The pools are empty. The cafeteria's full. And Walmart is selling pencils by the ton. Yep, it's already the start of a new school year.
If you're like millions of other parents, you maybe worry a little more sending this generation of kids to school. School seems a little meaner these days. Temptations rear their ugly head earlier and earlier. It can be a jungle out there!
Why is "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" the number one movie in America for two weeks in a row? Critics hated it! The Turtles received a dismal 20% rating on movie critic site Rotten Tomatoes. But now these green martial arts experts have become an international mega-hit. What in the world is going on?
"Never leave a soldier behind."
Pretty powerful stuff. The time-tested promise of our military to its men and women. And the stated reason our government swapped some dangerous detainees for one imprisoned - and controversial - sergeant.
Most Americans weren’t around on that D-Day 70 years ago this weekend.
But we’d better be glad they succeeded when they hit those Normandy beaches. They stopped perhaps the most powerful threat to freedom in history. Hitler’s Nazi Germany.
"We may never know why this happened."
That's the usual reaction when another "senseless" shooting leaves its trail of death and heartbreak. Not this time.
The vengeful gunman in last week's horrific rampage near Santa Barbara, California left a hate-filled, 141-page manifesto to explain it. Three were stabbed to death, three sorority girls shot to death, 13 injured. It was one student's self-described "day of retribution."
"My Twisted World" is, in part, a journal of growing romantic and sexual frustration. Girls went for other guys but not for him. Others were having sex while he was an unintentional virgin. Frustration morphed into loneliness, then desperation, then a hellish personal agenda of destroying what had hurt him.
In the midst of the subsequent discussions about gun control and mental illness, few are addressing his convoluted ideas about love and sex and women. Lies that permeate our culture. Our hopes. Our expectations.
They're lies I'm all too familiar with. From knowing so many who've bought these lies. And feel worthless and rejected. Often driven to withdrawal, bitterness, or self-pity. Some lash out. Some just decide to die.
They're wrong ideas that need to be exposed. They're hurting too many.
1. Sex and love give you worth.
That seems to be what the California mass shooter believed. Along with millions of people who've been bombarded with a Hollywood story line that holds up romantic love as the ultimate happy ending. The ultimate validation that you're worth something.
But, as many can attest, they got used, not loved. Like the teenage girl who called for advice about whether to give in to her boyfriend's pressure to have sex. She hadn't dated much...she was a virgin...but she really didn't want to lose him.
I told her she'd probably lose him anyway once she gave in - and lose something she could never get back. But he made her feel valuable. She gave him what he wanted. He moved on. She said, "I thought I'd feel worth more if I did it. I don't. I feel more worthless than ever."
If you're counting on love or sex to give you worth, you're pouring your money into a vending machine that can't give you what you paid for.
2. A man proves his manhood by conquering a woman.
The Bible says we're all "made in the image of God" (1). It commands young men to "treat the younger women as sisters, with absolute purity" (2). So using them - for your pleasure, your ego, your satisfaction - diminishes both you and her.
A guy doesn't prove his manhood by conquering a woman. He proves it by being a man women are safe with. Respected. Protected. Unviolated.
3. Love and sex will make you fulfilled.
Just ask the countless people who believed the lie. The most passionate love, the greatest sex still leave you with that haunting whisper in your soul.
"Someone's missing." Someone is. That's Someone with a capital S.
A boyfriend...a girlfriend...a lover...a husband or wife - they just don't fill the hole in the human heart. They can't. Because God says He has "planted eternity in the human heart" (3). And nobody on earth can fill that eternity vacuum.
That takes God Himself inhabiting the human heart. The One who gave you your worth before you were born. The One who restored the worth our sin had stolen by sending His Son Jesus to build a bridge to get to Him. A bridge in the shape of a cross.
The deep hunger of a restless heart can only be satisfied one way.
By the Love that heart was made for.