28 February 2013

Culture Creep and Redefining Pedophilia

Andre Seu writing for World Magazine addresses the issue of culture creep as it relates to child sexuality.  It seems that on a few fronts, there have been shifts in how some view pedophilia.  Specifically, some are trying to redefine this sin as a normal predilection.  I would strongly encourage you to read and consider her points in this article.  Ask yourself too in what other ways we have redefined God's standard through "cultural creep"? 

26 February 2013

Tullian on Christian Growth

I would commend this to you. Christianity is not about your behavior, but about your Savior.

22 February 2013

We Need More than Band-Aids

I try really hard as I read the Bible to make sure I am keeping an eye on the context of the passage.  There are many passages that Christians claim for themselves (e.g., 2 Chronicles 7:14) that were promises made to Israel and not for America.  I always want to make sure that I am first reading in context, but sometimes I think we can learn from the principle of the passage.  For example, this morning I was reading Joshua and I came across this passage: 

“And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. But just as all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the LORD will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the LORD your God has given you, if you transgress the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and you shall perish quickly from off the good land that he has given to you."-Joshua 23:14-16

Joshua is about to die and is attempting to pass along wisdom to the Hebrews who are now in the promised land.  He offers an encouragement and a warning. First, he told them that all the good stuff God promised He has accomplished, just as he said he would. But then he issues the warning. He tells them essentially that if they turn from the covenant of God which He commanded, they will "perish quickly from off the land that He has given" them.

Why do I bring this passage up?  Because I think the principle is an important one.  The United States of America was founded on a biblical worldview that cherished personal freedoms, personal integrity, and moral uprightness. However, they were also deeply committed to one another in social contexts.  Their lives and their decisions were grounded in a thoroughly Christian worldview.  At least in part because of that biblical worldview, the United States has flourished for over 200 years, despite enduring agricultural, financial, and military hardships.

We now stand on the precipice of one of the greatest threats we have ever faced.  Our society is becoming increasingly individualistic, relativistic, and morally bankrupt.  People are told to make decisions that bolster their self-esteem regardless of the effect that it has upon others. People grab as much as they can without considering society as a whole.  In many ways, prayer in recognition of the glory and majesty of the Creator has been replaced by requests for stuff, if we pray at all.  We bow down and worship television, sports, books, iPhones, celebrities, sex, drugs, rock and roll, and a host of other things.  We have forgotten where, or perhaps Who, we have come from.

Because we have forgotten where we have come from, because our biblical worldview has been slowly replaced by a secular worldview grounded in relativism and naturalism, we are seeing a marked societal downgrade. Children are being killed in the womb and outside of it.  Murders are happening in the streets. Boys and girls of all ages are being trafficked throughout the country to serve the insatiable desires of the flesh.  Television shows glorify premarital and extramarital sex, alcohol and drug use, and ultraviolence.  Individual and corporate debt has skyrocketed and one wonders if America will ever be able to repay the debt that grows day by day.  In many ways, we have moved far from our foundation.

Guns are not the core issue.  The economy is not the core issue.  The environment, healthcare, immigration are not the core issues.  If we treat any of these as ultimate issues rather than symptoms of a larger problem, we drift from a biblical worldview.  If we stay adrift as we currently are, we can anticipate a further decline in social and individual morality. More crime, more corruption, more pain.  God gives people over to their passions and a failure to turn to Him may result in getting exactly what we think we want. 

Chuck Colson once said, "where is the hope?  The hope that each of us has is not in who governs us, or what laws are passed, or what great things we do as a nation, our hope is in the power of God working through the hearts of people.  That's where our hope is in this country, that's where our hope is in life."  Friends, as you choose your pet cause, understand that shalom, the peace of God, will only happen consistently with a robust biblical worldview. 

20 February 2013

Michael Horton on Angry Atheists

Michael Horton has written an excellent piece on on the more militant atheists who seem ever present in the media and upon the bookshelves.  Please take time to read this lucid, logical article. 

I particularly liked this penultimate paragraph:

Of course, none of us is neutral.  We all come to the evidence with big assumptions about reality.  The Holy Spirit alone can bring conversion, but he does so through his Word.  And he also uses supporting arguments and evidence that reveal too many devastating anomalies—indeed contradictions—that our reigning worldview can’t accommodate.  One thing is for certain: to say that miracles do not happen because they cannot happen is as vicious a circle as any argument can be.  In fact, it’s not an argument at all, but mere assertion.  Isaac Asimov said, “Emotionally, I am an atheist.  I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”  Insert “believer” and change “doesn’t exist” to “does exist” and there is nothing expressed here that the Dawkinses of the world wouldn’t leap upon as evidence of blind faith.

15 February 2013

Consider Becoming a Centurion

In the next few months, I am going to be posting several videos for you to consider.  I have been deeply blessed by working with the Centurions program, one of the ministries of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview.  This first video is of Ross Chapman, one of the people I am currently studying with in the program.  Find out from him why he decided to pursue this training. 

After watching, if you’d like to learn more, visit us on Facebook and Twitter (@BPcenturions). You can follow us to get regular updates on issues and topics important to Centurions. There's a tab on our Facebook page to provide us with your email address, so you can connect to us directly, too.
If you're considering applying to the Centurions Program, have questions or would like more detailed information, visit us at www.centurionsprogram.org.
Now, check out what Ross has to say:

11 February 2013

Parents and pastors: Why are kids leaving the church?

Why are kids leaving the church?    I am not sure why it struck me so soundly today but this, I think, is one of the most important blog posts I have read in some time.  Kids are leaving the church.  Perhaps we catastrophize a bit and fail to account for those who return to the church, but there is no doubt that kids are leaving.  The author of this article, Top 10 Reasons our Kids Leave Church, has asked why and come up with some good thoughts. I would strongly encourage all of you, if you are involved in the lives of kids--your own or someone else's--to slowly chew on this article and consider its implications.  I have included the list, but please click through for the descriptions.  a few brief snippets, but again, please read it! 

10. The church is relevant.
9. They never attended church to begin with. 
8. They get smart.
7. You sent them out unarmed.
6. You gave them hand-me-downs.
5. Community.
4. They found better feelings. 
3. They got tired of pretending.
2. They know the truth.
1. They don't need it.

The author writes, "Our kids leave because we have failed to deliver to them the faith 'delivered once for all' to the church.  I wish it wasn’t a given, but when I present law and gospel to these kids, the response is the same every time: 'I’ve never heard that.'  I’m not against entertaining our youth, or even jumbotrons, or pizza parties (though I probably am against middle aged guys trying to wear skinny jeans to be “relevant).. it’s just that the one thing, the MAIN thing we’ve been tasked with? We’re failing. We’ve failed God and we’ve failed our kids.  Don’t let another kid walk out the door without being confronted with the full weight of the law, and the full freedom in the gospel."

Zach Nielsen linked to this article on his blog

08 February 2013

Remind your wife of her purity

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.-Ephesians 5:25-28

If you have ever been to a Christan wedding or read Christian marriage books, you have no doubt heard that "husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church." If the authors went further, you have perhaps even heard that it means that he is to give himself up for her. Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially.  We are to commit to loving our wives fully, perhaps by setting aside some of our own selfish wants. 

Rarely, however, do these authors take it further.  Ephesians 5:26 says that "he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word." Husbands, your words matter.  So often, husbands are careless with their words.  They criticize, complain, or outright attack their wives.  Rather than restraining their tongues, they say things without thought. 

Men, you must seek to remind your wife of the gospel regularly.  You must remind them of their beauty in Christ.  Your words must serve to edify your wife. Your words must serve to purify her, or rather, remind her of her purity in Christ.

Your words matter. 

Jesus Wants the Rose

If you have 4 minutes, watch this video from Matt Chandler and when you meet with others, tell them about the mercy of Jesus.  

Book Review: Family Shepherds

I am a big fan of Voddie Baucham. I particularly appreciated two other books of his: Family Driven Faith and What He Must Be if He Wants to Marry My Daughter.  Some readers react strongly to Baucham because he is bold in his presentation, if not thoroughly biblical. 

The most recent offering was Family Shepherds: Calling and Equipping Men to Lead Their Homes (2011).  Although he often speaks to dads, this one is directly addressed to fathers as he calls them to shepherd their families well. 

He includes several major sections in the book including: the need to equip family shepherds, family discipleship and evangelism, marriage enrichment, the training and discipleship of children, and lifestyle evaluation. In the first section, he writes about the 3-legged stool of discipleship revealed in Titus, which includes the need for 1) godly, mature men and women in the church; 2) godly, manly pastors and elders; and 3) biblically functioning homes.  He writes, "if we are going to see a generation of young men rise to the occasion and begin to disciple their families, it will be due in large part to the reestablishment of the biblical paradigm of mature believers pouring their lives into younger Christians, and demonstrating godliness and maturity to them by their daily lives" (p. 30). We cannot underestimate the importance of strong biblical mentoring in the context of a local church. 

In the second section, he talks about putting the good news of the gospel in front of our children and helping them to get it right.  Baucham tells his reader what the gospel is and what the gospel requires.  He also calls for restoring the tradition of catechizing our children, which is an objective way of teaching our children biblical truths.  There are many wonderful catechisms available for families who want to pursue this way of training.  This process of catechism would seem to be linked with his call for family worship, daily times when the father instructs his wife and children in the truths of scripture. 

In the third section, Baucham rightly talks about the importance of marriage and honoring the marriage bed as a way to shepherd children.  Children need to see their parents functioning well in the marital relationship.  As a part of this section, he makes an unapologetic argument for the biblical mandate for male headship in the home which has been under attack not only from secular culture, but also from certain sectors within the church.  Baucham rightly asks not what does society say, but what does the Bible say. 

In the fourth section, he talks about the training and discipline of children. He makes a distinction between formative and corrective discipline, a distinction that is good to consider.  He argues that 90% of our discipline of our children should be formative which involves instructing, training, and rebuking our children, whereas corrective discipline deals with disobedience. 

One area in particular that I appreciated about section four was that Baucham spends some time writing a critique of Michael Pearl's To Train Up a Child, which is popular among certain homeschooling groups (as Baucham himself is). I have many friends who like this book and have used it successfully with their children, so I want to tread lightly.  Essentially, Baucham views Pearl's work as theologized behaviorism and warmed over semi-pelagianism.  Specifically, he cites example after example from Pearl's work that does not fit with scripture.  For example, Pearl refers to children as "incomplete creations" and "not morally viable souls", which is inconsistent with the teaching of scripture.  Baucham also points out a section in Pearl's work where he alludes to each child having to stand for themselves before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and decide for themselves, which leans toward an outright denial of original sin.  Baucham comments, "the result is a child training approach that relies on behavioral modification as opposed to spiritual transformation. Instead of the child's greatest need being the gospel, his greatest need is a parent whose 'role is not like that of policemen, but more like that of the Holy Spirit," since the child is 'incapable of holding moral values.'" Baucham contrasts Pearl's approach with authors like Tedd Tripp (Shepherding a Child's Heart), who views children "not as morally neutral or incomplete beings, but sinners" which is grounded in Psalm 51 and other scriptures.

In the final section, he encourages a lifestyle evaluation.  He talks about the importance of church membership and having people who are able to speak into the lives of one another.  He also discusses a fairly careful analysis of how we spend our time as family shepherds.  He concludes with a brief, albeit important, section on how single mom's are to function in regard to this mindset and what is the role of family and church.

On the whole, this is a very good book.  I still prefer his earlier and longer book Family Driven Faith, though this is a short, worthwhile read.  If you are father, I would commend this work to you.   

07 February 2013

They'll know you're a Christian by your...tip?

Don't Leave These!!!!
There was a recent hub-bub about a pastor who left a note for the waitress that said "I give 10% to God, why do you get 18%?"  This apparently exploded on the internet and brought to light what is well known in restaurants.  Christians are terrible tippers and terrible customers.  To all of my Christian friends, "knock it off!" 

This article from Christianity Today says, "One says that in the steak house where she waitressed during college, Sunday lunch was the shift to avoid. Servers with seniority made the new people work it because 'church people don't tip, don't control their children, and are really mean when you mess up their food,' she says. On half a dozen occasions, a Sunday after-church group left her a tract instead of a tip. (Once, it was that tract that looks like money.) A few times, Christian customers told her that she should not be working on Sunday because it was the Lord's Day—while she was waiting on them."

These are just plain bad behaviors from Christians.  As Christians we must realize that the culture is watching what we do and say.  They know who we are.  If you are someone who eats out, please read the whole article. 

I have heard Greg Koukl from Stand To Reason talk about this often.  Here was his advice. 

1) Tip boldly--15% for bad service; 20% for good.  If you don't know how to do that, ask the waitress, I am sure she can help you. 
2) Learn the waitresses name, and use it. 
3) Say thank you.  Not just for the food, but when you leave at the end of the meal, make sure to say "thank you" to your wait staff. 

06 February 2013

Be Imitators of God

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.-Ephesians 5:1 

If you have kids, you know that they love to do and be and think like their parents.  Little boys follow their papas into the workshop and, with their tiny plastic hammers, pretend to build something while dad is fixing a lamp.  Little girls follow their moms around and do the things that mom does.  They want to put on make up or make a cake in their Little Tykes kitchen. (Its weird that most kids don't seem as interested in imitating cleaning).  Regardless, kids follow their mamas and papas.  In fact, imitation is one of the most effective ways that our children can learn.

In Ephesians 5:1, Paul reminds us that we are God's beloved children and then tells us to imitate Him.  Just as my kids imitate my behaviors as a dad, so I am to imitate my Father.  If I am truly His child, I will seek to be like Him because that's what kids do, not because I am afraid of His disapproval, but because He represents what I want to be.  I learn to imitate Him by spending time with Him, talking with Him, and learning from Him. As a Father, He beams with pride upon me and gently corrects along the way so that I might grow more and more into His image.

Commit today to finding out what it means to be like Him and start imitating.  In particular, look to the life of Jesus, the God-man, who is the only perfect example of a completely godly life we have. 

I Wish All Scientists Would Chew on This Quote

David Berlinski is a skeptic agnostic mathematician, yet he is also a critic of the blind dedication to scientism so evident among the new atheists.  This quote from The Devil's Delusion is exceptionally important.  I wish all scientists would chew on this. 

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.
Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.
Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.
Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.
Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.
Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.
Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.
Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even in the ballpark.
Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on.

05 February 2013

Discussion of Sexual Abuse on the White Horse Inn

Michael Horton, host of the White Horse Inn, recently interviewed Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, authors of Rid of My DisGRACE, an excellent book dealing with sexual abuse.  This interview is really important for those who have dealt with sexual abuse or even more broadly, the issue of shame. 

You can listen to it here

03 February 2013

Ministers equip the saints for ministry

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.-Ephesians 4:11-12

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about these two verses in Ephesians.  Paul tells the Ephesian church that God gave the people who teach the word--apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.--to do what? Equip the saints for ministry.  Two things stand out immediately.  First, we must get rid of the mindset that says that ministers, pastors, teachers are the ones doing ministry.  Paul clearly implies here that it is the saints who are doing ministry, not just those public teachers.  Who are the saints?  The people in the church.  In other words, anyone who is called a believer is to be involved in the work of ministry.  The New Testament knows of no passive church attendance.  You are not there to be entertained; you are there to be equipped. 

The second thing that stands out is that saints are equipped by teachers.  Paul assumes here that there are no lone-gun Christians.  In the same way that the New Testament knows nothing of passive church attenders, it also knows of no Christians who are not connected with a church.  There is no evidence of "its just me and Jesus" Christians.  The bottom line is that Christians are to be connected with a body of believers.  You cannot do it alone.  You must be fed by a teacher who can equip you for the work of ministry.

So, if you are not currently in a church, get to a church. If you are in a church, but you are just a pew warmer, get moving!  Saint, you are called to ministry.  

01 February 2013

Paul Tripp on Christian maturity

This great video clip from Desiring God is a sharp reminder for me.  Paul Tripp shares how theological knowledge does not [necessarily] equate to level of maturity. Amen.