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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

When Your Boy Wants to Identify as a Girl


I have been writing this column since 2006 and there is a topic I have never written on – transgenderism.  A recent story about retired basketball player Dwayne Wade and his wife Gabrielle, helped push me to write.  One of their four children is 12 years old.  He was given the name Zion at birth, but struggled with his gender early on, feeling more like a girl.  As the years went by, they eventually met as a family to talk about Zion’s struggle and his desire to become a girl and take the new name, Zaya.  Dwayne and his wife are being intentional about taking a private family matter and bringing it into the public arena.  They want to support their son’s transition and other families in similar places. 

I am choosing to identify Zion according to his birth gender, which I realize is a point of difference with the Wade family.   

Prior to Zion’s transition, Dwayne Wade talked in an interview, about how he struggled anticipating the whole scenario happening within his family.  He recounted a conversation with himself, “What are you going to do if your child comes home and says, ‘Dad, I’m not a boy. . . .I’m a trans girl.’ What are you going to do?” 

When I read that, I thought how honest that was.  What would a parent do?  That is not something you plan for when raising a family. 

A second thing I read that prompted me to write, was information about transgenderism in rural America.  According to the Movement Advanced Project, three to four million people in rural areas say they are gay, lesbian, transgender or bi-sexual.  Most likely there are hundreds of thousands of families in small towns grappling with children who do not feel comfortable with their birth gender, like Zion.  Let me offer two points of advice.   

1.    Listen.  A parent should provide an environment where their child can come and share anything and not feel condemned.  If your child struggles with their gender, give him or her a place to talk. 

2.    Give wise counsel.  A parent’s role is to teach and provide guidance, which is based on the source of their personal belief and value system.  The Wade’s have their own way of walking through it, which will likely be different than yours. 

Where would you go for help in a situation like this?  Your own parents, a friend, counselor, a quick internet search?  I recommend God’s Word, the Bible.  God’s Word is a time-tested, proven source for absolute moral truth.  It is the only standard for right and wrong and addresses gender issues.  It is the logical place for any family to go. 

“God created man in his own image,” the Bible says “. . . male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27).  This teaches that God is the Creator of human beings and He made us into two genders.  This is a theological, historical, scientific, biological and moral statement of truth.  There cannot be more than two genders and the genders cannot cross over.  A male will always be a male and a female will always be a female. 

And after God created man and woman, what did He say?  He blessed them and saw “everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).  He saw the genders He made, male and female, as beautiful, marvelous creations. 

But after God made everything perfect, evil entered the world and corrupted all that was good.  God still saw men and women as wonderfully made, but they did not see themselves that way because of their corrupt heart.  When men want to live as women and women as men it is a symptom of that evil from long ago. 

We must teach our children that God made them a boy or a girl and it is a beautiful thing.  He did not make a mistake.  He made them just as they are and it is to be celebrated.  And though there may be legitimate feelings of gender confusion, let us pray, asking God to help them see the wonder in how He made them.

A prayer for you - “Lord God, help any parents or grandparents who might be struggling in how to talk with their child or grandchild, who struggles with their gender.  Give them an ability to listen.  Give them insight in providing wise counsel.  May they help their child or grandchild see themselves as you see them and celebrate how you made them.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”


Clint Decker is President of Great Awakenings. Hope for Today is a nationally syndicated column. Please share your comment or question with Clint at cdecker@greatawakenings.org.    

Thursday, February 6, 2020

When We Make Men Into Gods

When I was a teenager, I loved playing basketball.  Dr. J and Michael Jordan were my favorite NBA players.  While living in Colorado, I was fortunate to have my dad take me to see each of them play at McNichols Arena in Denver.  Those are incredible memories. 

Like one of many sports fans, we often stand in awe of the talent these athletes have. The NFL Superbowl just took place and next month is the NCAA’s March Madness.  Let me ask this question.  Do you think we ever exalt these amazing athletes beyond what is reasonable?  Let me as another.  Do we do this in other areas too?  Where a person has a special talent or is in a great position of influence and power, do we at times hold them up too high? 

When the burdens of life weigh on us, by instinct we look around for a type of savior to give us the help, relief or answers we seek. 

We look to the athlete, musician or movie actor to give us hope and moments of joy. 
We look to the doctor to cure our sickness or disease. 
We look to a political leader to give us national peace and prosperity.
We look to the business person to give us a job and income.
We look to the preacher to give our life comfort, meaning and direction.   

What are we doing?  We are exalting mankind above God.  We trust in the person and their abilities to help us, rather than God.  We thank and celebrate the person for what they have done, rather than God.  Do we somehow think God does not see this and will not take it to account?    

People in these roles have worked hard, been blessed by God with special talents, but in the end, are just people.  They are not infallible machines or products, but human beings like the rest of us.  When we place our trust in them, we will eventually find our team will lose, the movie will end, the doctor will not find a cure, the politician will fail us, the business will lay us off and the preacher will disappoint us.  No human, no matter how gifted they are can give us what we ultimately seek.      

It is good to learn from others, to enjoy and celebrate their abilities, but when we begin looking to people for the things we ought to look toward God for, we cross a dangerous line.  It is written in the Scriptures, “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).  Furthermore, “. . . let no one boast in men” (3:21). 

The Scriptures teach us that God is the only source of true hope.  He is our ultimate Healer.  He is our Defender.  He is our Provider.  He is the giver of life.  No man, woman, team, program, weapon, set of ideals, principles, systems can be an adequate savior for the burdens we bear and the wrongs we have done.  It is foolish to think otherwise. 

There is only one Savior.  He created each of us with our unique talents, and one day all humanity will kneel side by side before the Great Savior and Judge, who is the King of Kings.

Who are you trusting in for the things in this life and the next?  Are you trusting in yourself or in others?  I urge you to trust in the one above all – Jesus.    

A prayer for you - “Lord God, examine our hearts to see if we have lifted anyone in our lives above you.  Show us if we are trusting in another, for what we ought to be trusting in You for.  Jesus, come and be my one and only Savior and Lord.  Help me to turn from my ways and to You with all my heart.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”


Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Offer of a New Life to Begin a New Year

The new year is an opportunity for a new start.  I once heard about a leader that regularly took a block of time in December to engage in planning and goal setting for the next year for his organization.  The way our annual calendar is set up, it provides a vision for that.  It is the end of the old and the beginning of the new.  Not only do we see this concept in view of time, but in nature too.  In our part of the globe, we are blessed to have four seasons.  When fall and winter come, it is the end of the old.  But when spring and summer come, it is the beginning of the new.  We see this concept in life itself.  In a family, when great grandpa has passed away there is sorrow in saying goodbye, but then later there is joy in welcoming a new little infant to the family.  And we also see this in spiritual terms.  For people outside of Jesus there is spiritual death and darkness, but once they are in Jesus, there is spiritual life and light.  One writer from the Bible put it this way, “. . . if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18) 

You may not realize it, but if you are outside of Jesus, you are living in the old.  All that is in you is death and darkness.  Though that sounds grim, it is true.  And that may explain some things happening in your life and family right now.  They are the consequences or by-products of it.  We may try to “Instagram” our life to others, but we cannot escape the reality of our condition.  No amount of busyness, noise, praise by others or positive self-talk can hide the truth.  This is the old. 

Jesus declared He is life and light.  He is the one who can make all things new.  He conquered death and darkness through His own death and rising again.  For all who come to Him, He is willing to make new.  But to receive the promise of being made new, there is a great cost.  To receive what Jesus died to give you will cost your very life.  What does that mean?  It means you are no longer willing to put your desires, wants and needs above, beside or to the exclusion of God.  It means that you deliberately choose to follow Jesus as your own Lord, King, Master and Ruler.

A new year, a new life is waiting.  The empty blood-stained cross of Jesus is what it took to bring you new life.  Commit all to Jesus and receive it today.                     

A prayer for you - “Lord God, I pray you will make the reader a new creation.  May they live the promise of newness you rose again to give them.  I pray they would turn from their ways and give all they are to you.  There is no cost too great for us, compared to what you did on the cross.  May they see that and humble themselves before you. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Miracle of the Virgin Birth

The center piece of the Christmas season is the birth of Jesus. Popular Christmas songs, various figurine displays and holiday sermons all make it prominent. But what about Jesus’ birth specifically, makes Christmas, Christmas? His virgin birth.

The virgin birth became the method through which Jesus came from heaven to earth. It was how God became a man and humbly lived among us. Often Jesus referred to Himself as being sent by His Father in heaven. The virgin birth is how that happened.

Jesus eternally existed in heaven until one marvelous day. It was then He left His Father and the angels in His celestial home, to become a seed planted inside of a young virgin’s womb. I cannot imagine what heaven must have been like, seeing Him go. And Mary became God’s chosen instrument to bring His Son into the world. She was a woman in her teenage years when she and her fiancĂ©, Joseph, were preparing to wed. It was during this time Mary had an encounter that would change her life and the world, forever. An angel appeared to her and communicated a message from the Lord God. "…you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Luke 1:31). Thinking logically, Mary could not understand. She replied to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" (Luke 1:34). The angel explained, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy—the Son of God . . . For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:35, 38).

The virgin birth was necessary because of who Jesus was, a holy, perfect, and sinless Being. And God the Father chose Mary to bring Him into the world. Mary was faithful to the Lord and a virgin. One who was pure and had never lain with a man. Though Mary was not sinless herself, God made her holy, which prepared her to receive the Son of God.

The virgin birth was also necessary because of the cross. Only Jesus could have died on the cross and provide forgiveness for the sins of the world. In all the universe there was no one so good, so right as was He. There would be no resurrection, no cross if there was no virgin birth.

The virgin birth was no myth, legend or allegory. It is a historical fact, albeit, a miraculous one. No scientist can explain or fully understand it. It is a complete miracle in how a virgin can give birth to a child. Do you believe in the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus came from heaven to earth for you and your household. For it is only through His birth and resurrection, both miracles, that you can have the hope of forgiveness and be spared from the judgment of God.

A prayer for you - "Lord God, I pray you will help us to believe in the virgin birth of your Son. It is a miracle. It defies human reasoning and logic. How could this be? Help us to believe and to yield our lives fully to you. For you are the God of the impossible. Do the impossible within me. Change my heart. Change my life today. In Jesus’ name.  Amen."