Saturday, September 18, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

I was speaking with a youth pastor recently who lamented to me that even the children of church members in his group were woefully Biblically illiterate. Having taught fifth and sixth graders for a couple years myself, I knew his pain. This brought to mind a question. Who IS responsible for training our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? I would contend that it is most definitely not the Church for two reasons.

First, given the fact that most parents are not Biblically training their children, most of the time spent in Sunday School is geared toward gaining and keeping control of the classroom. There is precious little time left to teach the Bible.

Secondly, one hour a week is simply not enough to counter the constant anti-Christ drone of the secular society in which we live.  These messages comes in many forms and fashions, some detectable, some well hidden.  It simply doesn't seem to me to be very realistic to think that children are going to be equipped to answer and navigate these messages on a diet of an hour or so of church a week.

What To Do? Five Suggestions:

Never forget that the stakes are exceedingly high.

2. The stakes are exceedingly high and are in fact eternal. If we say we believe the Bible to be the very Words of God but are not living them out under grace before them , we shrink Him, His honor, His glory, and in fact eternity itself. When they don’t see us loving his Word, we teach them that loving his Word is not important. When they don’t see us pray, we teach them that praying is not important. When we are not being sanctified, we teach them that sanctification is no big deal. In the end, what they learn from us is that, really, God is no big deal. It should be no wonder then that the vast majority of children raised in the church walk away from it when they are older, never to return.

3. The stakes are exceedingly high. Parents who out-source the education of their children must realize these stakes regardless of who they out-source it to; whether it be a “Christian” institution or the government. With this in mind we shouldn’t wait for our children to be taught anti-Christ teaching before we attempt to un-teach it. Be the first to teach your children what the lies of the enemy will look like and be, then be the first to counter them. Learn what those lies will be. Be tenaciously on guard for new angles and attempts to subvert and supplant your teaching. Learn learn learn, then teach and live as if your children’s eternal destiny depends on it.  (more on this here)

4. The stakes are exceedingly high and your Church should function as if the stakes are high. Remember that you are a living part of the Church. (1) Put away the notion that there is the Church over there, and then there is you over here who attends as a consumer. Prayerfully and carefully choose your Church so that you will fit. Be vigilant against false teaching because you are a living member of that body and in as much are infected by it as well as responsible for its health. In the teaching of your children remember that the Church’s responsibility is to affirm what you teach and not the other way around.

5. The bottom line is that the stakes are high. It is the Western way to work hard and then coast. This is not the Biblical way. Your children are worth fighting for, and that fight begins with fighting for your own devotion. Just as with Paul who at the end of his life proclaimed to his spiritual son, “I have fought the good fight”, (2) so it must be with us also as an example to our children. To this end, the 18th century theologian Jonathan Edwards as a young man wrote seventy resolutions for his life. Number 22 says: “Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness, in the other world, as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.” (3) In the same way, it is not because we succeed in hiding from our children our failings and thus present to them a life that appears in our own minds to be exemplary, as if we had at some point arrived at our Christian-ness and that they should endeavor to do the same, but rather that we should live a life that endeavors to honor, glorify and exalt God; all the while knowing, as did Paul, that we will never attain it in this life. (4) In so doing we teach them from a young age that our walk with our Savior is a journey, that we are at times victorious in grace and at others defeated in grace, but still, though we have fallen, we are not cast down, for the Lord upholds us with His hand. (5)

Note 1:
Eph 2:19-22
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Note 2:
2 Tim 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Note 3:
The Words Of Jonathan Edwards vol. 16

Note 4:
Phil 3:12-14
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Note 5:
Ps 37:23-24
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way,
he makes his steps firm;
24 though he stumble, he will not fall,
for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Twisting In The Wind

I am nothing short of awe stuck at the world-wide crisis that has ensued after a previously obscure pastor of a church of but 50 congregants in a small Florida town threatened to burn a Quran. I have heard him castigated, called names, belittled, and lambasted over his threats, and that has been from the more conservative of outlets. So, what does this all mean? Six thoughts:

First, the seemingly constant profaning of Christianity not withstanding, people in their hearts I think expect more from the pastor of the little church down the street. After all, they many times call him to speak over their dead relatives he has never known or seen as they stop yucking it up long enough to look their own immortality in the face. Many still go to him to marry their children, or these days their parents, or to perform some sort of meaningless ritual over their newborn children in hopes that the preacher has some sort of special powers to get their offspring safely into the everafter. That only one Quran burning has been mentioned, to a degree I think, is encouraging, all things considered. Think about it, given the multitude of churches in this country, the protracted engagement with Islamic fanatics we are experiencing, the ineptness (don't make them mad) and absurdity (blind and dangerous political correctness)upon which our defense against them is being based, and the rarity, or perhaps more aptly, the absence of such actions as this pastor's speaks highly of the American Church and its standing in the hearts and minds of the citizenry. Ultimately, I think people want to know that the little church on the hill still has the answers to the deep questions of life should they ever feel the need to ask them, and burning another religion's holy book may be quashing that a bit.

Second, and discouraging as can be, is the fact that that same obscure pastor evidently holds the power of life and death, peace and tranquility, and quite possibly world peace itself within the grasp of two match clutching fingers. Aaaahhh am I missing something here? Consider this laundry list:

  1. the Twin Towers bombing
  2. the Millennium Bomber
  3. the 9/11 attacks
  4. the Bali Bombing
  5. the London subway bombing
  6. the Madrid train bombing
  7. the Ft. Hood shooter
  8. the foiled shoe bomber
  9. the foiled underwear bomber
  10. the foiled Fort Dix attack
  11. the oft shouted refrain "death to America"the Pan Am bombing
  12. Egyptian Air 990 tragedy
  13. And many many more

Now what do these all have in common besides the fact that they are massacres or attempted massacres and were carried out in the name of Islam? That's right, they all took place before the Reverend Jones made his threats. What? Are they going to kill people if he does this? How will we know when they start? Now while I don't agree with the pastor and know that he can't back up his actions with scripture, since when does having a boneheaded idea qualified you for such wrath from everyone from the president of the United States to every morning drive time DJ in America? This poor fellow might have just unwittingly set himself up as the administrations George Bush of terror attacks for the foreseeable future. I can hear our president now: "Let me be clear. If Reverend Jones had not threatened to burn that Quarn... why those terrorists would have been home tucking their children into bed instead of slipping through Secretary Nepalitano's elaborate web and blowing people up."

Third, and even more discouraging yet, is America's collective panicked reaction to this man. It does not bode well for us or show insight and leadership that this nation, its president, its news media, and its commanding officer is willing to give away such power to any old hair-brained pastor with ten bucks, ten followers, a match and a penchant for notoriety. Fear appears to be the order of the day with reporters waiting breathlessly, fingers crossed for the good of the world, hoping against hope that this lone Gainsville resident won't exercise his constitutional right and cast us all into mayhem.

Let me proclaim that this is not America! This nation would be doing a great service to itself if it would fear that fear more than it feared threats from wild eyed religious murderers and thugs who are going to carry out thier threats regardless.

Forth, is the misguided contempt born out of fear for anyone who dares oppose anything Islamic. Need we be reminded that this pastor is not going to kill anyone at all? Those who oppose the Mosque do so peacefully. All who resist are accused of being complicit of coarse. But at what point this side of converting does one take a stand? For the fearful, my guess is nowhere.

Such accusations of complicity are nothing new. President Lincoln, told a story in reference to the struggle in which he was engaged of a highway man robbing a traveler. The highwayman warned the traveler that if he did not comply with his demands that the traveler would be complicit in making him a murderer in addition to a thief. This pastor will likewise be accused out of fear as well as those who oppose the Mosque.

Fifth, we are lost. I touched on this in "Religions Rule", but this is another case of a shell culture; one that has no defining element other than its claim to have no defining element; a culture fat on the luxuries of prosperity, drunk on a government playing sugar-daddy god; and a culture that thinks its liberty comes with the air it breathes. It is no match for the struggle that is upon it, and this hyperventilating over the frustrated actions of a previously--and soon to be again--obscure pastor of a small church gives credence to such charges. America needs to be shaken and given a slap across its collective face if it is to rise up and meet the challenges that are before it.

Sixth and last. The afore named Cordoba Center about which this all begun is being billed as an attempt for Muslims and Americans to sit around and sing Cumbaya. It has failed at this, but it has been successful at achieving the opposite as demonstrated by threats of burning Qurans. As far as those who are in favor of it are concerned, no change. They were in favor of appeasing Islamic radicals before, they are now, and they will be after it is built. As for those it was supposedly attempting to reach, they are insulted, impugned, and further alienated and provoked.

So what are we to gather from this besides the conclusion that violence garners the coward's respect? Are the architects of this Center so completely socially inept that they truly thought that this was a good idea, or was it never intended to do any good but is rather achieving its goal of being a victory Mosque by stirring up trouble so the ones stirred up can be blamed? I honestly don't know, but given its proponent's willingness to abandon their purported aspirations of reconciliation in favor of stridently installing it over the protests of decenters does make me wonder if it ever had any other purpose.

(great Christian explanation here from a favorite author of mine on burning the Quran)

Monday, September 6, 2010

That's Not Fair!

From early in our childhood we seem to be innately incensed when our ideas of what is fair are violated. "He got four cookies and I only got one. That's not fair"! "Hey! He broke in line. That's not fair"! Interestingly, as I have aged I have become aware that the child that was me who yelled those very sorts of protests hasn't really changed that much; only his perspective.

The changed perspective grew out of the grappling with the root of the protest and its implications. Such a root necessarily involves a reference point and an ought. The reference point is normally always self while the ought is an appeal to objective truth in the pursuit of justice. The perceived unfairness of someone else getting more cookies is not what is being challenged. It is the unfairness of someone getting four cookies in reference to the fact that I only got one. Such an injustice ought not be. While, generally speaking, accrued years does not remedy this problem for us, especially as it pertains to our base emotions, they should at least cause us to gain a little perspective. The extent to which this happens would seem to depend on one's worldview. This truth can be demonstrated by the basis upon which one attempts to answer questions like these:

  • Can a person at once proclaim that there is no objective truth and a thing isn't fair?
  • What is the base [nominal?] amount of cookies a child receives that qualifies as universally "fair"? Should they both get four cookies? or one? Perhaps, after justly dividing their cookies evenly, they proceed to enjoy them while blissfully ignorant of the great injustice they are incurring because someone somewhere is eating a whole bag.
  • What about the child to whom a bowl of flour and oil would bring tears of joy. Should he instead feel cheated?
  • Ought not it also be an ought, in light of an appeal to objective truth in the name of fairness, that the child suffering the social injustice take his appeals for justice to the next level and refuse to enjoy his cookies until everyone has partaken in the just amount of cookies?
  • What will any of it matter five generations hence or when the sun burns out?

The secular humanist worldview, which is the predominate Western worldview of Christian and non Christian alike, when it makes appeals for justice--and it most definitely does--necessarily must root itself in cognitive dissonance to address these questions. He must, on the one hand, claim that there is no such thing as objective truth; that right and wrong are mere social constructs; that the concept of sin is an artifact of the past; that our very existence is the result of spontaneous and random events, while on the other hand assert that we ought to help the poor; that stealing is not always right; that killing is never right (if the person is born); that we oughtn't lie; that we oughtn't pollute the planet; that we oughtn't torture animals; and so on.

The Christian worldview, on the other hand, can answer these questions without contradictions. It proclaims that, not only is the world not fair, but that there is nothing that man can ever do to change that fact due to his condition brought about by an innate denial of a universal reference point. It also proclaims that, not only is there a source of objective truth that sovereignly decrees and judges what is fair and what is not, the greatest injustice happened when man was redeemed from his injustices. This truth thereby precludes man from making the charge of unfairness based on man's point of reference. It is not obvious in this current age, but there was a time in Western culture that these truths were somewhat universally understood and accepted. They were articulated with words like providence, lot, contentment, and His will; and in a negative sense, covetousness.

It is not my intended point here that the necessity for a logical and consistent worldview proves the existence of God, but rather that the claims for the nonexistence of God renders any cries for fairness and justice as ex nihilo and absurd. It IS my point however that the answer to protests of unfairness, such as those lodged by the current "social justice" horde, is the same as the one I give my seven year old. "You're right... It isn't.... be glad."