Thursday, August 20, 2015

What the Duggar Scandal Reveals—Part Two (Unfortunately)

Yesterday was the best day of Josh Duggar's life. I know what you're thinking, but stay with me for a minute.

When I read the news about Duggar's two Ashley Madison accounts and the nearly $1,000 he spent in his attempts to commit adultery, I was angry. Here's an outspoken Christian with a platform, and he's a complete hypocrite. Not only was he part of a hit reality TV series (that was brought down because of revelations that as a teenager he molested five young girls, including two younger sisters), but he was also working for the Family Research Council (again, until the aforementioned molestation incidents came to light).

In a previous post, I wrote, "If Josh can be changed, so can anyone. But based on the media's coverage, it seems many would have preferred for him to remain a molester." Well, he may no longer be a child molester, but today he admitted to being a porn addict and "unfaithful" to his wife. And yes, the Internet seems to be quite happy about this development. Josh Duggar was, and is, a fraud. And so, in the minds of many people, Christianity is bogus, and all the people who claim that Jesus brings new life are—like Josh—apparently lying.

Whenever anything like this happens, it's a sad day. Josh's actions have the power to harden many hearts, shut many ears, and close many eyes. That's a tragedy. So yesterday was a bad day, but as I mentioned at the onset of this post, it may just have been the best day of Josh Duggar's life.

Josh didn't become an adulterer yesterday. He's been one ever since he decided in his heart to cheat on his bride. The Ashley Madison reveal only shed light on what was already there. Josh's sin has been exposed—and now he has an opportunity to truly repent, seek help, and recommit his life to Jesus.

Scripture is clear: "Each of us will give an account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12), and "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:10). That's you, me, and everyone else—including Josh Duggar. God already knows every sin we commit and every dirty secret we try to hide. So there's no point in attempting to live a double-life. We will be found out, one way or another, so it's best to come clean before we're standing in front of our Maker.

Josh has been given an opportunity to stop hiding in the darkness, albeit one that he probably didn't want. He has bruised his wife and children, his family, and the body of Christ at large, but he is not without hope. Jesus died for adultery and pornography and child molestation—and loves Josh more than we can know. That's the beauty and power of the gospel: Jesus came to seek and save the lost—hypocrites and those who cheer when hypocrites are found out.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Manger King Release Day: When Christmas Comes in the Summer

There is a Christmas book in my office, a collection of holiday reflections from several bestselling Christian authors. I keep it on my shelf because it was the inspiration for my book, Manger King: Meditations on Christmas and the Gospel of Hope, which releases today.

Well, maybe inspiration isn't the right word. A couple of years ago, I read through the chapters, and with (almost) each one, I became more and more disheartened. It wasn't that the men who wrote the chapters weren't offering inspirational messages, and it wasn't that they were trying to distort the gospel. What troubled me was that these authors got the Christmas story wrong. One relied entirely on the book of Luke without letting Matthew speak when appropriate; another had the wise men arriving at a stable, though the Bible makes no mention of a stable and suggests that the magi arrived some two years after Jesus' birth.

"What's the difference?" you might ask. Of all the narratives in Scripture, the nativity accounts may be the most famous—at least in societies heavily influenced by Christianity. So what does it say about our trust in Scripture—and its reliability—if we can't get the story straight?

So I started writing—25 reflections on the Christmas story, putting all the pieces together as best I could. I let the Bible be my guide and set aside those traditions that, while much loved, just don't reflect the narratives we find in God's Word. In the process, I found that the real Christmas story is better than we could have imagined. God the Father is good, His Son is our only hope, and the Holy Spirit is still at work within and among His people.

As I mentioned, today is the official release date for Manger King. It seems a bit silly to be writing about my Christmas book when the temperature outside is in the mid-90s and most kids haven't even gone back to school yet. But that leads me to one of the wonderful things I discovered about the Christmas story: It's bigger than the Advent season, the month of December, or special church services. The story of Jesus' birth is the hinge-chapter in the grand story of redemption that God has been writing since the beginning of time. It points back to the Old Testament and forward to the New Creation. As such, Christmas is best when it's celebrated all year long.

I hope you'll check out the book. And if you enjoy it, would you do me a favor and tell others about it? And perhaps leave a kind review on Amazon.com or Christianbook.com? I'd sure appreciate it.

Merry Christmas (and try to stay cool)!