Brainwashing Isn’t Bad if It’s True

It just makes sense.

There is a video circulating the internet in which a four-year-old Texan boy demonstrates his ability to associate each letter of the alphabet with a Biblical scripture.  It’s impressive, and if you’ve ever attempted to memorize scripture, it’s humbling to see a kid knocking it out of the park.

There is of course many people who would find this video not cute, but sad, and maybe even upsetting.  They would say that the boy’s parents have brainwashed him, and I would agree.  They have, but so what?

Brainwashing is not necessarily a bad thing.  Stigmatized as the word may be, American society already allows for many forms of brainwashing that align with our societal beliefs.  We believe education and self-actualization to be important, so we repeatedly tell our children to stay in school and pursue their dreams in hopes they’ll adopt our worldview.  That’s brainwashing, and that’s okay because it’s normal.

The boy is a byproduct of a family that clearly believes it ought to be normal for one to know the truths of the Bible.  So, they have equipped their son not that he would be restricted, but that he might be prepared for a life free from the lies of this world that would pull him away from God’s truth.

If you are not a believer, consider for a moment how immeasurably cruel it would be to believe that after this life exists an eternal life in which we will spend forever, either with God or without, and then consciously choose to raise up your children without an awareness of this reality.  Nothing would be more hateful or potentially harmful.

And if you are a believer, consider the example of this family.  You may be reluctant to pass on your beliefs to your children lest you should be accused of brainwashing and religious force-feeding.  But if you really believe what you say you believe, then how does it make any sense to consciously allow your child(ren) to stray from the good and safe path of Christ?  You teach your child was is important.  You teach them that which you believe will equip them for success, happiness, and the like.  Why then would you not teach them to honor, obey, and trust God if you believe He is honorable and worthy of our trust and obedience?

It’s not brainwashing if it’s the life-saving truth.

Why It Does Matter What You’ve Done

Remembering to consider the cost of our corruption

There is a popular Christian song circulating the Christian radio station airwaves in which the singer exclaims, “It doesn’t matter what you’ve done!”  And look, I get it.  This isn’t a new message, nor is this the first time I’ve heard this sang or preached from a Christian source.  But it does no less seem incomplete.

Truth:  No matter what you or I have done–no matter how egregious our sins may be–the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient payment.  His death paid the price we owed, in that he suffered the death we ought to have experienced.  He incurred the wrath for which we gave reason, and in that sense, it does not matter what you or I have done.  Christ did everything necessary in order to cleanse us of the penalty of our sin.

That said, the reason Christ suffered, died and was buried was because it does matter what you and I have done.  Christ would not have been a savior if it had not mattered what you or I have done.  Your and my sin matters very, very much, not only in this life but in the eternal.  Sin corrupts, distorts, and ultimately leads to death, and we would be wise not to forget its cost.

My hope for both believers and nonbeliever is that we would understand and remember the whole picture of sin and salvation; one in which you and I were wretched sinners rightly destined for eternal separation from God, now graciously pardoned because of the work of Christ.


Father:  Please help me to know, remember and be affected by the truth.  Please help me to remember the value of your grace, and the wisdom available to me through repentance.  Please help me to have fear rightly, and rejoice greatly.  Amen.

The Penis-Driven Life

The hard life of meaninglessness.

The penis-driven life is common among men.  And the penis-driven life is demanding.

As an adherent, whether consciously or as is more common, subconsciously, a man must render himself continually worthy of attention, particularly that of women.  If he is to effectively live out the penis-driven life, he will work out often, not in order to benefit his personal health, but that he might be more desirable to the women who would appreciate this attribute.

Additionally, he will seek monetary wealth, or if he is unable or unwilling to achieve this, he will at the very least create an illusion of financial well-being, and maybe even financial prosperity.

A man who lives according to the penis-driven life will likely be outgoing, charismatic, and funny (or at least he will think himself funny).  This is, of course, just another means of serving the greater need to be noticed, as it is quite difficult to be validated by women who do not notice you.

Why Men Live the Penis-Driven Life

A man will live in this way not because it is healthy or offers long-term fulfillment.  He will live this way likely because he does not know a better way to live.  He does not realize or understand why there are greater pursuits in this world than that of women, which in reality is not a pursuit of women but a pursuit of value as offered by women, albeit insufficient and too often fleeting.

The penis-driven life does not serve a noble purpose; it serves the penis, and thereby the ego–a fragile yet very important component of every man.  The idea is that if a man is desired by many women, he must therefore be desirable.  He must therefore be valuable.  His character and his personal sense of identity rises and falls based on his acceptability before women, which is great if this life is all that there is.

It is, however, a horrible waste if this life is not all that there is.  If, perhaps, there is a life after this life–an eternal life into which a higher authority invites us and invites us to invite others–then the importance of being as irresistible of a man as one is able becomes suddenly much less worthy of the requisite time and effort.  The very simple yet very important question that confronts the penis-driven life is this:

So what?

So what if she notices you, or doesn’t notice you?  So what if she likes you, wants you, or thinks you to be an answer to prayer?  So what if she might rock your world for a night if in the eternal it means absolutely nothing, and may even be detrimental?  Sex is not inherently bad.  Quite the opposite.  But if it was created with a higher purpose than to serve men lacking meaning, it would seem important that we–particularly we men–understand this.

The penis-driven life says that sex, attention, and likeability matter above all else, which isn’t bad, unless it’s untrue.  If however there is something more important to be sought in this life and a next life, something more meaningful and satisfying, then the penis-driven life would be a lie; a distraction; a false high.  It would steal from us a greater understanding of our identity, and leave in its place a sad substitute that cannot adequately carry the burden of our need.

Women were not made to be used, and men were not made to be consumers of them.  No amount of attention from any number of increasingly beautiful women will ever be able to validate you in the way that only He can, because He does not love you for your looks or accept you with your career.  He loves and accepts you just as you are; in your worst, with your insecurities, and despite your adulterous tendencies.


Just as she is, and as she ever may be.

If she ignores me and hates her mother;
and if she gets in trouble at school and skips class;
and if she screams and whines and complains;
and if she gets tattooed, pierced and dyed;
and if she runs off with a motorcycle boy
who she marries, divorces and parents a child with;
if she’s gay or decides she doesn’t want to be a she;
if she’s expensive
…when she’s expensive;
if she joins the Marine Corps;
if she marries a POG;
if she leads the liberal movement;
if she becomes an Instagram diva,
cuts her shorts to half-ass level
and wears a napkin to school;
I may not approve and I’ll not likely sit passively by,
but I will love and accept her no less,
and I will continue to pray as I do that God calls her
and she answers Him,
not merely so that she behave,
but that she believe.
If she’s as beautiful as her mother,
God help boys,
lest I shall.
If she knows only a few things
may they be that Dad loves her,
God loves her more,
and that it’s not all about her
or me or Mom or any one else.
I love and accept her just as she is and as she ever may be.
If only it were so easy to love a spouse as unconditionally.


Perspective matters.

You don’t yet know and you don’t yet see
but if you were my friend you’d take my keys.
If danger loomed ahead you’d safeguard me.
You’d keep me from walking into the street.
So why won’t you let me keep you from the heat?
I promise this isn’t me being better than you,
I’ve just seen a sign and I’m convinced in time
His words will prove to be wholly true.
So please, stop and turn,
Consider Him as the answer to that for which you yearn.
I assure you this isn’t a means of control
It’s just my attempt to show you a man who’ll save your soul.
And look, I know it doesn’t make much sense,
but if you’ll lower your defense
I promise it’ll be better than the lie’s consequence.
He is yours and you are His
so repent and be sent to the world He loves.
His light will guide us in this lifelong fight.
Lord, call us and send us to go and be
That they might see
the only He
able to carry us into eternity.
You are the Almighty; the eternal I Am.
So shake my friend as only you can.
I know you can.


How we’re not that different from the OT peeps.

Whenever I read about animal worship in the Old Testament, I feel a sense of superiority over first-century Egyptians.  Pridefully, I think of myself and my society as better than those who would worship birds and goats and golden calves.  It just sounds so primitive.

And then I look around.

I live in Colorado, where to say that people worship the Denver Broncos is undoubtedly an understatement.  I don’t think it’s possible to find someone in this state who wears orange accidentally, or merely because they enjoy its luminescent quality.  And while taking a knee in reverence to the spoken Word of God seems bold, even in a church, no one bats an eye if you tell them that you’re devoting and entire day and driving a long way to watch men throw a pigskin around in the name of victory for a horse-labeled organization.

It is, of course, at this moment that I realize I am wearing a Chicago Bears shirt.

Sports is an easy example, though.  Cubs, cardinals, hawks, lions–there’s a long list of animal mascots with whom we can rally alongside.

But the parking lot is no exception.  Mustangs, beetles, rams and impalas all have their place in our hearts, garages and payments.

How or why silly looking horse heads came to be a popular accessory for young partygoers and YouTube personalities to wear, I don’t know.  I just know that it’s a thing, and that it creeps me out.

The latest trend is the “dog face” picture.  Snapchat has created new filters that allow selfie-senders to depict themselves with the ears and snout of a dog.  I think there’s a cat version, too.

I do not understand why this is a thing.  Maybe I’m getting old.  Maybe it’s just stupid and I am one of few in whom this valuable truth has been entrusted.  But whatever the case, it is quite commonplace for smartphone owners to snap & share pictures of themselves with animal features.  Which makes me wonder whether or not bunny ears is still an effective means of mockery, or if it will not become a favor.

My hope is not that you will feel guilty rooting for your team, but that we would see through the pride that allows us to think ourselves so much better than our predecessors.  We’re not that different.

Write at Night

Gallup surveys have found that a majority of Americans aren’t “engaged” with their jobs, as defined as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” Almost 18% of employees are in fact “actively disengaged” from their jobs. Maybe you’re somewhere in that 70% of the working disconnected. Maybe you…

via How to Moonlight Your Way to Your Dreams: Case Studies From Famous Men — The Art of Manliness

Grace & Repentance

The Book of Romans is a good book.  I’d like to memorize it.  I was very moved when, via podcast, I listened to David Platt recite chapters 1 – 8 to his congregation in a sermon he gave while preaching at the Church of Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL.

In an attempt to begin familiarizing myself with the text, I was reading Romans aloud the other day.  And whether for the sake of memorizing or not, I think I like this method of experiencing Scripture.  Speaking Paul’s exaltations and exhortations made me feel the emotions I imagine he felt while writing those words in a way that I don’t usually appreciate when I’m skimming verses in order to satisfy a daily reading plan.

It’s admittedly been a while since I’ve studied Romans.  Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve ever personally studied Romans, but I’m sure I’ve read through most of it in the past.  Consequently, it only took until Chapter 2 before I had to stop and breathe, not because I was preaching too exhaustively, but because I’d been spiritually doubled over by Romans 2:4 (ESV):

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Kindness is not weakness.  I fear I may have forgotten this.

Grace is not meant to enable me to linger in my sin.  Grace is the escape route from my sin.  Grace is not meant to be an umbrella under which I can avoid the downpour of God’s righteous judgment while I go on living ignorantly of his presence and guidance.  Grace is meant to lead me to repentance.  Grace is meant to help me see the truth about who God is, and who I am.

I have often taken His love as a source of comfort while ignoring it as a source of correction.  This needs to change.


Please help me, Father, to see that obedience to your word isn’t an opportunity for me to impress you, but an opportunity to live more fully satisfied than I’ve ever known.  Help me find joy in obedience. 

The American Veteran; Why a Challenge is Better Than a Check

I am a Marine Corps veteran.  I served four years as an ‘oh-three, fifty-one,’ Infantry Assaultman.  The role was explained to me as that of a basic rifleman with the addition of rocket launchers and demolitions, which retrospectively I’d say was accurate, and a damn good recruiting pitch for a 19-year old male.

I live in a day and age when veterans are held high.  This has not always been the case, so I am grateful that it is now.  I have a GI Bill that will not only pay for my education, but will pay me to get an education.  Somehow that’s still not enough incentive, but that’s another conversation.  Beyond these benefits, I am compensated monthly for a small bit of hearing loss; I can buy a home with nothing down; and many employers will give me more attention than I might deserve because I endured four years of “standing by.”


I am entitled, America would say, to many things.  Money.  Thank you’s.  A good job.  But sometimes I feel these leg-up’s hinder some of my peers more than they help.

I signed up for the Marine Corps because it was a seemingly insurmountable challenge.  I didn’t know that I had what it took, but I rolled the dice, climbed the hill, fought the dragon and came out the other side; ranked and ribboned (and cockier than ever).

Now, I find it very easy to rest on my laurels.  Many people thank me for my service, but few are bothered by the fact that I and thousands of other veterans are seemingly content to join a life-demanding organization in which we were trained to operate at our peak capacity, only then to be released into a world where I’m tempted to believe my best days are behind me, and few challenges await.

But then there’s those other guys.

Those Other Guys

Just about every recently-discharged infantryman knows at least one dude who’s probably accomplished more than he ever would have now that he’s less one limb.  I’ve got a buddy–Linville–who’s probably on top of Mount Everest by now.  And no, that’s not a metaphor.  He lost his foot to an IED, and now that mofo is huffing it out at 27,000 ft.

My buddy in town has a friend who’s bound to a wheelchair because of a combat wound, and that guy’s got some kind of thriving woodworking business.  He makes wall-hung wooden American flags, or something like that.  I don’t know.  He’s successful.

Another guy I know–Humphrey–got blown up, put in a wheelchair, and started winning skiing competitions.

My Point

I’m not saying these dudes have only known triumph.  I can only imagine the daily challenges they and their families have endured.  But I can’t help but feel like adversity does more to inspire greatness than entitlement ever will enable it.  Give a guy every possible resource and no purpose and he’ll likely sit and get fat.  (I’m looking at you, Army.)  But stand in his way and offer his ego, his anger, his aggression and his manhood something to fight against, and more importantly, something worth fighting for, and he’ll push.  He’ll push further than you or he knew he could, and in so doing he’ll inspire those around him to do the same. 

Veterans don’t need a leg up nearly as much as they need a distant rung worth reaching for.  So please, feel free to honor the service of servicemembers should you so choose.  But don’t be afraid to ask:  “Now what?”

“You’re a man.”

I was walking from the local library to the adjacent recreation center when a ten year-old boy and his friend came into my path.  They were headed in the opposite direction.  One of them, who I’ll call Daniel, said something to me as he passed me by.  My attention was buried in my cell phone so I didn’t catch what he said, but I did manage to give him a look that communicated what I felt:

Why are you talking to me?  Boot.

From the rec center and now with a freshly-vended soda in hand, I returned to the library.  Daniel and his friend had also decided to retrace their steps, and we again found ourselves on approach.  I smirked.  This time I these little shits had my undivided attention.

As we neared each other, I saw that Daniel had something in his hand.  When the gap between us closed to a few steps, he held it out, dangling the small, dark object in a way you might handle a deal rodent.

“You want a rat?!” he said with a juvenile chuckle.

I stopped; no facial response.  It was a piece of bark.  It had some kind of vine attached to it that made it look something like a rat.  The normal, adult response would have looked like me rolling my eyes or saying something dismissive.  But not that day.  Not with this kid.

I grabbed that damn thing right out of the air in which it dangled and chucked it like I was skipping a rock as far as I could.  Then I looked at the surprised boy standing in front of me with the deadest, unimpressed stare I could muster.

Your move, punk.

For a moment, I got a glimpse of a look that seemed to say, ‘Hmph, didn’t see that coming.’  But that quickly transformed into a little dance that mocked my authority.

 “Ooooo,” Daniel mocked.


I shook my head and walked past him, continuing on my way, neither embarrassed or satisfied.  I envisioned an epic moment in which my overwhelming authority abruptly changed the course of this kid’s life for the better.  Instead, it only seemed to give him another opportunity to act out.

As I walked on, I could feel the aura of this little snot following me.  His mockery continued.  So after a few steps, I turned, faced the kid, and basically threw down with the prepubescent punk.

“You got a problem, kid?!”

I don’t remember what he said.  He wasn’t arrogant or stupid enough to become violent, but it still seemed important to him that he hold his ground, even if sheepishly.  I asked him where his parents were.  Mom was at home, he confessed.  Dad; he didn’t know.

“Why you acting like this?” I asked him.

He shrugged.  He knew he was being an asshole, but I don’t think he cared.  My frustration with him quickly turned into a frustration with the world I imagined being around him; one in which walking up to grown man with a snotty comment probably made a lot of sense.  I told him that I understood the temptation to act like a fool, but that he shouldn’t.  He was better than that.

“You’re a man,” I declared.

That statement might not have meant a damn thing to Daniel, but it should, and it bothers me to think that I might be the only person, and quite possibly the only man to tell him this truth in a way that hopefully doesn’t pressure him to build muscle mass or consume women, but to act right.  To act wise.  To respect, and in so doing, be respectable.

Daniel isn’t the only man that needs to hear this message.  As I write this, I realize how appropriate it might have been for Daniel to repeat my own words right back to me.  And because of the privilege I’ve had to be a part of The Crucible Project, I have some idea of how typical it is for men to struggle with feelings of inadequacy largely because no one ever demonstrated how to be or declared them as a man. 

I hope it meant something to him.  It meant something to me.

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor 16:13)