Known & Loved

Our society prizes authenticity, the desire to be “true to oneself.” And coupled with this is an innate longing for community and to be truly known by others.

However, if we’re honest about our “true selves” — that form of ourselves that only we know, what happens in our “inner life,” those thoughts we’d be ashamed of if others knew, the person we are when no one else is looking — there’s an equally true sense in which we don’t want to be known. We don’t want others to know this self, the true self that lies in the deepest recesses of our hearts, you might say. We only want them to know the “me” I want them to know. And so we curate our self-expression, our public face, our performative self. Know me, but only as I want to be known.

But then here’s the quandary: If that’s the “me” they know, am I really known? Does this satisfy my desire to be known?

We have a deep, deep desire to be loved by others. But when we only show others the parts of ourselves we deem lovable, are we truly loved, or is what they love just a parody of our true selves?

You see, we face a dilemma. We long to be known and to be loved. But given the ugliness that exists in the deepest levels of our human hearts we feel must choose between the two: either I will be known or I will be loved, but not both. For if people truly know me, they most certainly will not love me.

Our society says it wants authenticity. But only a shallow form. It wants authenticity without actual transparency. Actual transparency would be devastating to us.

But what if there was one who truly knew us, all our faults and brokenness, and loved us nonetheless, meeting both our deepest desire to be known and our desire to be loved, with neither coming at the expense of the other? Well, this is exactly who God is. He knows all the worst there is to know about us, in fact far worse than we even know about ourselves. Nothing is hidden before his sight. The scriptures say it’s as if we lie naked before him, entirely exposed. And yet he loves us nonetheless—not because he doesn’t know our deepest faults, but despite knowing them. Not first and foremost because we are lovable, but because he is loving.

And this is possible because of the gospel, the good news that in Christ’s death God satisfies the demands of this absolute knowledge of our wrongs by clearing them away at the cross when Christ dies in our place. And this, fueled by God’s love for us.

And not only so, but then God invites us into a community where others are shaped by this same reality. A “gospel-people,” a church. A place where — albeit imperfectly — we can allow ourselves simultaneously to be known and loved by others. A place where we can be honest about our true selves and own our failings because the gospel has already said as much — we’re all sinners, and we know it. There are no surprises. But place where, despite this sin, we love each other nonetheless because, after all, God, has loved each and every one of us despite our sin; and who are we to argue with that?

A God and a place where we can be known and loved. And this is the gospel.

Critiquing God by the Standard of His Own Morality?

My daughter, nearing 3-years-old, has entered the stage where she’s beginning to take the moral instructions I’ve given her (e.g., rules about how we are to behave) and to apply them to me, in ways that seem to make sense to her… but don’t actually make sense.

I’ll make up an example. Say I tell her, “You need to eat all your vegetables.” Now whether or not she always follows it, she’s absorbed that “moral code.” So let’s say she sees me discarding a rotten carrot from my plate. She objects, “No, daddy! You have to eat all your vegetables!”

It’s cute. She’s not trying to be defiant. Her inherent sense of moral order is showing. In fact, she’s using my own moral code that I myself gave her to instruct me on moral order.

Now, in this case she’s wrong. And I can tell her, “No, we don’t eat rotten vegetables.” But she nonetheless insists in demanding of me adherence to this “moral order” that she’s been taught, forgetting all the while that I’m the one who taught it to her in the first place and so probably knows otherwise. She borrows from my own moral code in order to critique my moral code.

It got me thinking: Isn’t this so much like the objections we make to the supposed immorality of God? We critique God for (as far as we see it) acting unjustly or immorally. “That was wrong of God! I don’t want to worship a God who does that!” All the while, where did we even get this standard of morality to begin with? We have to first believe in a God of morality to even begin critiquing the morality of God. It’s self-defeating.

We can attempt to critique the morality of God. But from where do we get such morality? Who are we to say what is right and wrong? Where do we get the authority to say, “He is wrong”? By what standard? Our own? And from where have we learned such things except from him?


Abel

As I did for both Jubilee and Evangeline, I wanted to write a brief explanation of the meaning of Abel’s name.

As with both his older sisters, Abel’s name, as you probably know, comes from the Bible. His middle name (like Jubilee and Evangeline’s as well) is that of one his great-grandparents. William (more commonly known as “Bill”) is my maternal grandfather.

Abel William is due January, 2020.


Abstract: Abel is the first in the long history of examples of faithful worshipers of God who suffer and die on account of their righteousness. His account reveals to us a God who champions the victimized, avenges evil, and ensures that injustice will not go unanswered. According to the book of Hebrews, Abel is held up as the earliest example of those who put their faith in God and “preserve their souls,” despite all appearances to the contrary (e.g., suffering and death). Christ’s death, however, overshadows Abel’s, as Christ fills the role as the pinnacle righteous one who suffers death. In fact, Christ’s death “speaks a better word than Abel’s.” Whereas Abel’s blood cried out to God for vengeance, Christ’s blood speaks to the satisfaction of God’s just vengeance against unworthy sinners. Additionally, the name Abel matches the word “vanity” in Ecclesiastes. This word, which encapsulates the message of the entire book, describes the futility of looking to the things of this fallen world, and instead redirects our eyes to the fear of the Lord, wherein we can experience lives of true joy.


In scripture, Abel is the second son of Adam and Eve, and the first victim of murder—killed at the hands of his elder brother, Cain (Gen 4:1-16, 25). The name Abel (הֶבֶל, hevel) matches a word most notable for its prolific use as a repeated refrain in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Vanity!”(הֶבֶל, hevel). In its literal sense, this word means breath or vapor. Additionally, at times it comes to describe that which is transitory, fleeting, transient, and ephemeral. In scripture, a character’s name often reflects or conveys something about that individual. This is especially the case in Genesis (e.g., Cain’s name sounds like the Hebrew word for “gotten,” as Eve proclaims, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord”; see also the names of Isaac [=“he laughs”], Jacob [=“he takes by the heel”], Israel [=“he strives with God”], etc.). Although Abel’s name is not explicitly explained in the Genesis narrative, given this phenomenon, many surmise that his name reflects the fleeting, transitory nature of his life. Just as his name indicates, his life would be cut short.

As noted above, the word הֶבֶל (hevel, often translated “Vanity”) plays a central role in the message of Ecclesiastes. It is the Preacher’s (Qohelet) refrain—“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!—and it both introduces (1:2) and closes out the book (12:8). All in all, it occurs a total of 38 times in Ecclesiastes. In short, one might say that the word הֶבֶל (hevel) summarizes the entire message of Ecclesiastes: vanity!

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Christmas Letter 2019

Dear family and friends,

The most important event for our family from this past year was the arrival of Evangeline on March 26th. Her name comes from the Latin word for “Gospel,” which refers to the good news about what Christ has done to save his people from their sins through his death on the cross. For her middle name, Alice, she is named after her now late maternal great-grandmother.

Evangeline is such a joyous addition to the family. We are especially thankful to God that we have her in our family. She’s a momma’s girl who loves to be held. She’s a bit more even-keeled than her old sister, Jubilee, whom she loves and finds quite entertaining. Lately, she’s started to crawl, and enjoys the increased mobility.

Jubilee loves being a big sister, although sharing can be hard, and being bossy comes easy. J Jubilee is incredibly fun, energetic, and passionate. She’s full throttle—whether happy, silly (or upset). She’s a strong daddy’s girl (which daddy admittedly enjoys), and loves doing anything and everything with her dad.

Jubilee and Evangeline started a new daycare this year, which was a little rocky at first; but they’ve gotten use to it, and Jubilee enjoys interacting with her friends and teachers. Jubilee’s favorite things to do include reading books, singing, dancing, and playing with dad. Jubilee has also started learning her catechism, and enjoys singing hymns from the hymnal and reading from her children’s Bible.

Annie is staying busy transitioning to being a mother of two. She also continues to enjoy her role as Accounts Payable Specialist at Uline. She will soon be starting her 6th year there. Annie is particularly looking forward to the holiday season, and enjoys trips back home to spend time with family.

Kirk is thoroughly enjoying his role pastoring CrossWay Community Church. He continues to volunteer weekly at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, teaching a doctrine class and preaching chapel there. Kirk also had the opportunity to publish a few articles online as well as in a magazine and journal this past year. He’s also excited about a short study guide book he authored that will be released for sale this December.

We trust you too have experienced God’s undeserved grace this past year. And we pray that during this time of year your souls find refreshment as we give attention to the marvel of God the Son becoming human—for the salvation of all those who put their trust in him!

With love,
Kirk, Annie, Jubilee, and Evangeline