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Preview to “Family Under Fire”

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

As I continue to prepare my upcoming special edition blog (hopefully I’ll post it this Thursday) to cover Robin Marantz Henig’s NYT article on “Emerging Adulthood,” I will pause to introduce all of you to my upcoming blog series, Refocus on the Family. (Yes, I derived this blog series title from the organization Focus on the Family.) This upcoming blog series is broken into four subseries: “Marriage by the Book,” “Male-Female Roles in the Church,” “The Apostolic Husband,” and “Family by the Book.” I plan to introduce this final subseries (admittedly rather prematurely) with a post by acknowledging the fact that the biblical definition of family—true family—is under fire. And the family is under fire in our current culture. We must realize this if we are to rightly defend the family and recapture a biblical way of doing family.

This subseries “Family by the Book” is admittedly relatively far-off, but I simply must give you a preview to its introductory post, “Family Under Fire,” because of two resources I accessed last Saturday. The first is an article on cnn.com that discusses how many American teens are “fake” Christians. It is an interesting article and will hopefully show you definitively that the family is, indeed, under fire.

The second resource I share with you is Dr. Albert Mohler’s address at this month’s earlier Connecting Church and Home Conference hosted at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It is a biblical address that I hope all of you would take the time to listen to. He lays his arguments first from 1 Peter 5:1-11 and gives further evidence from Ephesians 5 and 6. Not only does Dr. Mohler admit that the family (and church) are in a state of perpetual warfare, but he also helpfully lays out practical ways that we Christians can begin to wage this spiritual warfare to take back a biblical view of family, to connect church and home, which is “to connect that which should never be disconnected.”

Resources

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/08/27/almost.christian/index.html

http://www.sbts.edu/resources/conferences/connecting-church-and-home-general-session-4/ (video below)

The Gospel Song

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Last night I discovered this video of “The Gospel Song” on Justin Taylor’s blog. I have long enjoyed “The Gospel Song” written by Bob Kauflin. The words are simple and straightforward, but beautiful. The animation to this video by Chris Powers, and he did an amazing job. John Piper’s voice-over also adds to this song’s penetrating depths. The gospel in musical, video, and spoken form … a rare combination and God-sent blessing! Watch this video and contemplate anew the glory of the gospel of Christ!

 

Be Humble, As Christ Was

August 23, 2010 2 comments

Having said that Christians should “behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ” by uniting and persevering in the faith, Paul now writes how this unity would work itself out and why it should exhibit itself thusly. In Philippians 2:1-11, Paul writes that as Christians unite, they should be humble because Christ is the perfect model for our humility.

Read more…

The Importance of Discipling Your Children

August 22, 2010 Leave a comment

In my recent review of Voddie Baucham’s Family Driven Faith, I mentioned that Family Driven Faith is “a clarion call for men to be men by discipling their families.” I present to you now Exhibit A for why parents should disciple their children (which argument I laid out in my related post in the Great Commission Living series): college professors now openly admit that their “agenda is nothing less than to separate students from their Christian beliefs and their intellectual and moral commitments,” as Dr. Mohler writes in a recent blog post. That’s right, parents (and teens); college professors now admit what many Christians have known for decades: college campuses are not mere war zones but are Satan’s breeding grounds for future enemies of the faith.

Dr. Mohler helpfully writes:

Even as most professors see themselves as stewards of the teaching profession and fellow learners with their students, others see their role in very different terms — as agents of ideological indoctrination. All teaching involves ideology and intellectual commitments. There is no position of authentic objectivity. Every teacher, as well as every student, comes into the classroom with certain intellectual commitments. Some professors set as their aim the indoctrination of students into their own worldview, and many of these worldviews are both noxious and deeply troubling. A professor who acts as such an agent of indoctrination abuses the stewardship of teaching and the professorial calling, but this abuse is more widespread and dangerous than many students and their parents understand.

Dr. Mohler extensively quotes Professor Bill Savage of Northwestern University in Illinois as a prime example of “representatives of what has been called the ‘adversary culture.’” Bill Savage openly admits that he is a political liberal and “acknowledges that he and his fellow liberals have a lower fertility rate than conservatives. Nevertheless, he insists that educated urban liberals need not despair.”

Dr. Mohler quotes Professor Savage as writing in a Seattle newspaper:

The children of red [conservative] states will seek a higher education and that education will very often happen in blue states or blue islands in red states. For the foreseeable future, loyal dittoheads will continue to drop off their children at the dorms. After a teary-eyed hug, Mom and Dad will drive their SUV off toward the nearest gas station, leaving their beloved progeny behind. And then they are all mine.

Dr. Mohler is justified to latch onto that last sentence: they are all mine. I don’t know what mental image you get in your head when you read that sentence, but I see in my mind’s eye a ravenous wolf leering at a pasture of unattended lambs from beyond the tree line, a cannibal eagerly hungrily rubbing his hands together as he anticipates tying his hostages to a stake suspended over an open flame. This is what self-professing Christian teens are being sent to! And by the end of just ONE year in such a college, between 70 and 88 percent of them have left the church. (Even after you factor in those who will later return, a full 3 to 5 out of ten permanently apostasize, thus proving that they were never really saved, 1 John 2:18.)

This, my fellow Christians, is outrageous! We have suspected for years that universities were unsafe, we possess years of statistical proof, and finally we have the confession of just one liberal professor among many who subjects his students to a liberal ideology that attempts to sever them from their professed faith. Ultimately, we know that the Lord preserves those who are His (John 10:25-30, et al), but the fact that so many do apostatize forever should be cause of concern. Yes, tares will always be among the wheat, but there should not be anywhere between 3 and 5 wolves in sheep’s clothing prowling among the sheep within the fold of the church! Consider what Dr. Mohler goes on to write in response to Professor Savage’s statement, “they are all mine”:

That’s right, a significant number of professors are happy to have parents spend 18 years raising children, only to drop them off on the campus and head back home. These professors are confident that the four or so years of the college experience will be ample time to separate students from the beliefs, convictions, moral commitments, and faith of their parents.

Even after expressing these truly breathtaking agendas, these professors go on to claim that they do not seek to indoctrinate their students into their own beliefs and worldviews, but no one can believe them now.

I would hope that no Christian believes that teens can be left at public universities unequipped for the daily battles they will face! Please note here that I am not advocating an abandonment of public universities (I myself intend to attend one before seminary), but I do advocate a sober acknowledgement of the fact that public universities are not safe places for Christian teens. They are war zones and enemy breeding grounds, and we must admit this. The sooner we do, the better, for the sooner we admit that Satan, “the god of this age,” holds sway over most if not all public universities (and some private ones), the sooner we can begin equipping current Christian teens to stand firm amid such a great onslaught of truly demonic power. Dr. Mohler concludes:

The college experience is, of necessity, a time for the development of critical thinking. It is a season of tremendous intellectual formation that produces lasting effects. Students should learn the disciplines of critical thinking and analysis, and in this transitional period of life, they will determine whether they will hold to the beliefs and commitments of their parents.

God is meticulously sovereign, but He uses means to accomplish his purposes. God equips His people with the armor of God (Ephesians 6), and part of that armor for the Christian teen and college student is, implicitly, “critical thinking and analysis.” Public education often does not provide such skills to high school students, and we should not expect it to provide those skills. God intends those skills to be taught to children throughout their formative years (read: throughout their lives), and for these skills to be taught to children by their parents with the help of their local congregation. Consider God’s words in Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and Hebrews 10:24-25,

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Parents: disciple your children. Claim the promise of Proverbs 22:6—“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This is a promise of God: claim it. Because if you don’t, the warning of Hosea 4:6 rings true: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I have rejected you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Do not forget God’s law by disobeying: parents, train your children in the way they should go. Make sure at whatever the cost that they are hearing the gospel daily. If they claim to be Christian, make sure they are praying and reading their Bibles regularly. Disciple them to cultivate an active, daily, moment-by-moment faith. To apply these Scriptures: “Train up your child” and “when he is in college he will not depart from it permanently,” for if you reject this teaching (=“knowledge”) and forget God’s law, God will “forget” your children, which you will realize by their permanent apostasy.

Love your children enough to turn off the TV. Love your children enough to read the Bible to them, especially if they do not read it for themselves. Love your children enough not just to model prayer for them but also to lovingly(!) command prayer from them. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Give your children a biblical worldview BEFORE they go to college … or you very well may soon find out that their worldview is worldly and is on a wide path straight to hell but for the intervening grace of God to shine on their hearts and to save them from their sins—and their professors.

Bill Savage says: “And then they are mine.”

“It is hard to imagine words more alarming than those,” Dr. Mohler replies.

I add: “Hear the alarm and act on it now before it is too late. Train up your children, disciple them, not just for their sakes’ but for Christ’s: it is his command to you as parents.”

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

A Tail Is Not a Leg, so What Is It Biblically?

August 18, 2010 4 comments

I don’t know how many of you have kept up with this month’s news about Proposition 8, but it was struck down by a federal appeals judge (who was, incidentally, nominated by former Gov.-then-Pres. Ronald Reagan) as unconstitutional earlier this month. Is this a tragedy? Yes. The judge’s logic for declaring Prop 8 unconstitutional is even more tragic. I will not go into details here because many other more able Christian writers have given us a clear look into the judge’s flawed and fallen reasoning.

Just when I thought all this talk about Prop 8 had gone to sleep, though, it rose to the surface again. On Monday, Justin Taylor quoted and linked to an online article by Stephen J. Heaney. The quote that Justin Taylor included on his own blog intrigued me, and so I read Professor Heaney’s full article. To get to the point, Mr. Taylor’s quote was better than Professor Heaney’s article.

Professor Heaney makes some valid points in his article, but his tone is largely philosophical, rather than biblical. Consider:

As deeply social beings, we remain connected to each other across generations. Even adults with children of their own need the wisdom and guidance of their fathers and mothers. It is easier for those who enter this project that they have affection for each other, and that they form a self-giving friendship. To perform these actions lovingly is the properly human way.

… because it leads to children, sexual intercourse has extraordinary public consequences. It is not, as we might like to think, a purely private act. It matters a lot to the community who is doing it, and under what circumstances. So the community endorses certain sexual arrangements; others, which fail to abide by the fullness of truth of human sexuality, the community rejects as unfitting for human beings. To support those that are fitting, it offers the institution of marriage. In marriage, the couple promises before the community to fulfill this project through vows of fidelity and permanence, joining their bodies and their lives to make the project work.

Are those statements true? Yes. But do they present everything that the Bible teaches us about marriage? No. Consider also his conclusion:

Today, marriages crumble, families are torn, society flounders. Why? We are not living in the truth. We accept a bad definition of marriage, acquiesce to almost any sexual arrangement, glorify the quest for sexual pleasure, treat children as a means to fulfill our desires. Overwhelmingly, research shows that rearing children in any other environment than with both their natural parents is damaging. Sometimes that damage is unavoidable, as when a parent dies, but we shouldn’t seek it. And it certainly won’t help to say the impossible is real.

We need the truth. We need to fix the legs. Calling a tail a leg only makes matters worse.

Now, that is a wonderful conclusion. But it left me wanting more. Professor Heaney admits that “marriages crumble, families are torn, [and] society flounders” because we “are not living in the truth,” but he does not explicate what this “truth” is. And indeed, philosophically, he cannot. Truth is philosophical in part, but not in whole. Ultimately, God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). So for us to see the entirety of not only why homosexual marriage is wrong but also (and more so) what God desires for marriage, we must look to the Bible. We will look at all of these passages in more detail in my upcoming blog series, but I present them to you now for you to see from Scripture what God intends for marriage:

So God created man in his own image,
     in the image of God he created him;
     male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28)

Let your fountain be blessed,
     and rejoice in the wife of your youth (Proverbs 5:18)

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:1-3)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

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. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. (1 Timothy 5:8)

… train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5)

These passages (and many others) in Scripture reveal to us God’s plan for marriage. To counter the five philosophical aspects of marriage, I will now present five biblical aspects of marriage, from the above passages:

  1. Marriage is created by God for God’s own glory (Genesis 1:27-28, Ephesians 5:32)
  2. Marriage is monogamous between a man and woman (Proverbs 5:18, Ephesians 5:31)
  3. Marriage lasts a lifetime (Romans 7:1-3)
  4. Husbands are to provide for their wives, love them sacrificially, and lead them as Christian men (Ephesians 5:25-30, 1 Timothy 5:8)
  5. Wives are to lovingly submit to their husbands, “to love their … children, be self-controlled, pure, working at home, [and] kind” (Ephesians 5:22-24, Titus 2:4-5)

Whereas Professor Heaney refers to marriage philosophically as “1) two people 2) who love each other 3) want to perform sexual acts together, so 4) they consent to combine their lives sexually, materially, economically 5) with the endorsement of the community.” I refer to marriage biblically (which does not exclude the previous list but adds to and clarifies it) as a lifelong covenantal relationship created by God for God’s glory between a man and woman in which the man lovingly and sacrificially leads and provides for his wife, whom lovingly submits to him in the marriage relationship.

I will not leave you with application, however; I will rather remind you of the gospel. For it is the power of God to those who believe. It is in humble reliance upon the sufficiency of Christ and the promised empowering of the Holy Spirit that we Christians will do a better job of discipling teens. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, but through Him we can do all things (John 15:5 and Philippians 4:13).

Two Links for My Female Readers (and One for Men)

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s been awhile (ok, two or three weeks) since I’ve added website recommendations to my permanent links on the right. Today I’m recommending two blog sites for you female readers. (I ran across both of these at the Gospel Coalition’s web site.) I’m referring you to both of them now because my next blog series will deal with marriage, biblical gender roles, and the family. The women who blog at these two sites can give you much more comprehensive information (i.e., a lifetime’s worth), and hearing what they have to say will give you an excellent foundation for (and really build upon) some of the things I will write in my upcoming series, whose posts (with Scriptures) you can find listed already at my blog series list page.

The first blog I recommend to you is the blog of Carolyn Mahaney (and her three daughters). Mrs. Mahaney is the wife of C.J. Mahaney of Sovereign Grace Ministries and is the author of Feminine Appeal and a co-author of Girl Talk. She and her grown daughters blog at Girl Talk regularly “where God’s Word is read, life issues are discussed, questions are asked, advice is shared, hearts are opened up, sin is confessed, and grace is received. Here encouragement is always on tap and laughter overflows. It’s where the gospel is prized most of all. It’s every day Titus 2.”

The second blog I recommend to you is also a blog of a woman involved with Sovereign Grace Ministries. Carolyn McCulley is the author of two books, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred. It is an excellent blog and has copious links to keep you busy “set[ting] your minds on things that are above.” Radical Womanhood is definitely a blog worth visiting.

Men, I have no website recommendations for you today. I would, however, heartily recommend Voddie Baucham’s Family Driven Faith to you. Actually, I do have a link for you. Voddie Baucham blogs on his ministry blog. Just as Mrs. Mahaney and Mrs. McCulley will prepare women for my upcoming series on marriage and the family, so will Dr. Baucham help prepare you men for the same series.

Family Driven Faith

August 13, 2010 1 comment

Due to the busyness of my schedule in this and coming weeks, new posts in the Philippians Weblog Commentary will come more rarely, since they require the most time to write. They may even come in the middle of the week; they will come as I find the time to write and complete them. So, in the meantime, here is a book review for Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham.

Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham is an excellent book about family-integrated ministry. More than that, it is more than anything a clarion call for men to be men by discipling their families. His book is radical, but it is biblical. He pulls no punches in calling both men and churches to prioritize the family as the basic unit of worship.

In chapter one, Dr. Baucham argues that “making the team, making the grade, and making time” are all problems, not because they are inherently wrong, but because

they have replaced more important pursuits. Instead of striving for godliness and multigenerational faithfulness, many Christians have settled for just getting by. Unfortunately, our children are paying the price. There is, however, a better way. God’s Word has given us a roadmap to follow. (p. 23)

He is also right to note that our contemporary anti-marriage and anti-child cultures have contributed to the lack of spirituality in today’s teenagers. Dr. Baucham goes on to write that God’s “better way” is family discipleship and family-integrated worship. Chapters 3-8 deal with God’s solution to the fact that between 70 and 88% of teens leave the church by their first year of college. The chapter titles are below:

3.  Learn to Love
4.  Give Him Your Heart
5.  Teach the Word at Home
6.  Live the Word at Home
7.  Mark the Home as God’s Territory
8.  Enjoy the Gifts Without Forgetting the Giver

In the final 2 chapters of the book, Dr. Baucham exposes the flaws in the contemporary youth ministry model and answers objections to the family-integrated church model. He also lists some helpful ways in which churches can move toward family-integrated ministry (and thus equipping fathers to lead daily worship and discipleship in the home):

  • Promote a biblical worldview of marriage and family (p. 202)
  • Promote family worship/discipleship (p. 205)
  • Promote Christian education (p. 207)
  • Promote biblically qualified leadership (p. 209)

Dr. Baucham’s approach to ministry, marriage, and family is certainly radical. But it is biblical. We the Church have listened to the world for too long; it is time that we begin listening to God’s Word again, and Family Driven Faith is a helpful starting point.

You can buy Family Driven Faith on amazon.com, along with another book of his which I’ll review in the relatively near future, What He Must Be … If He Wants to Marry My Daughter.

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