Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Doctrine and Politics


When those in our church family see the title of this blog they might fall over. They know what dominates my voting decision is the issue of life. The protection of life is certainly one of the areas the government should aid in, but in America that is not so much the case. However, the purpose of this blog today is not to deal with the millions of babies that are butchered inside a mother’s womb, the purpose of today’s blog is to mention none other than Presidential Candidate, Rick Santorum. Now, I am not endorsing Senator Santorum, and while I will vote, my hope is certainly not built upon what political candidate wins or what party is in office. We had no more of a movement of God in America when Ronald Regan was President than we did when Bill Clinton was President. However, over the last few weeks there has been much ado made concerning Senator Santorum injecting his Catholic theology into his politics. Now, I find this accusation very interesting and in truth, extremely ignorant: after all, you will not find a candidate today, or at any other time, that did not inject their theology into their campaign. Again, I want to reiterate that there is not a candidate in the field that really excites me - while I follow politics I never really get excited about it. But the point here is that President Obama injected his doctrine into his campaign, did he not? If a person believes there is no one to answer to above the American electorate, then that is the doctrine they live by. They live out of the bible of opinion polls and surveys. If a person does not believe that there is a Holy God that they will give an account to on “that day,” then certainly it impacts the daily decisions they make. Certainly, Mr. Romney’s Mormon doctrine plays a role in how he sees America: after all, according to his doctrine, if he is going to rule an entire planet one day as a god, certainly being President could be good practice for him.

I say all this to simply make the point that what we believe determines how we behave. I have said multiple times in the pulpit at Trinity that doctrine that does not impact the way we live is not really doctrine we believe. If I believe that every word I say I will give an account for, it should impact my speech. If I believe that I am a steward of the resources I have, whether it is my finances or being over my family, it impacts the way I spend and the way I love them. Just because Senator Santorum, is up front as to how his doctrine impacts his views on birth control, or whether or not I as a Baptist am a true Christian, doesn’t mean the other candidates are any less formed by their doctrine. It may just mean that they veil it a little better. I could spend an entire blog dealing with the horrible doctrine of the Mormon or Catholic Church, but the point each of us need to understand is that what we believe determines our world view. If I get my view about God from the only truth source we have which is the Word of God, it will impact that way I see the world, the unborn, politics and every other arena of life. If a person believes there is no god, or they can get to Heaven by doing good, or that they can gain a planet by trying hard, it will certainly impact their eternity and that should burden anyone that is a true child of God. But, we don’t need to buy into the notion that only Senator Santorum is impacted by his beliefs - all of us are impacted by our doctrine and it is our doctrine that gives us our view of heaven, hell and our world…and the only source we have of true doctrine is Scripture. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Deceit of the Heart


We have been going through a wonderful book on Wednesday nights entitled Uprooting Anger, by Robert D. Jones. I have mentioned this before on my blog, but it is such a great book for every believer, I can’t recommend it highly enough. In reading it and studying, what it reveals to me is just how deceitful our hearts are. Jones defines anger as
our whole-personed, active response of negative moral judgment
against perceived evil.”
The key word is “perceived evil” - this is where the book truly is great, because it distinguishes between righteous anger (which we seldom really have) and sinful anger.

One of the illustrations made of this “perceived evil” is that of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph. On the surface, if Potiphar had told you that he walked in to his wife crying and telling him that Joseph had made sexual advances toward her (and his coat was still there to prove it), you would agree that all evidence pointed to Joseph’s guilt. But Potiphar never spoke to Joseph about this; he simply threw him in jail. Now, certainly it would have boiled down to a “She said/He said” issue, but we know the story and we know that Potiphar was wrong… even though it seemed, especially to his heart, that he was right to respond this way.  His perception of evil was skewed.  We need to keep this illustration in front of us and remind us that we are not inerrant in our judgment of any situation.  Even when the situation seems so sure, the only thing we can be sure of is that we are capable of error! 

I know a Pastor who, at best, has a reputation of being fickle.  He is physically extremely weak and he can’t preach at all (and if I may be so mean, the guys is even ugly)! Most will suppose that he compensates for his weak preaching by simply writing letters to people, trying to intimidate or scare them. It is known among his former churches that he is some type of con-man who is just in it for the money. He is a liar, and has taken advantage of weaker people in his churches and, to be honest he just seems to live in the flesh. He even has the audacity to write churches and encourage them to do such divisive stuff as church discipline. Everyone close to him seems to walk away from the faith. This guy, they say, is one big mess…. I could go on. But suffice it to say that you can read all of this stuff about him at www.blueletterbible.com  OR you can just look at passages like 2nd Corinthians 1:17; 10:1; 13:1; 10:10; 13:6; 13:16; 5:13; 6:13; 7:2; 10:2.  Yep, none other than the Apostle Paul!

I say this because, when we want to excuse our sinfulness, we can always explain why we feel the way we do. In our minds, it may make perfect sense to be angry and hateful towards a person. But, the Lord makes it crystal clear that if our ongoing lifestyle is one of hatred and bitterness, it is a sure sign that we do not belong to Him. When you read this and your heart begins to give you all the reasons you have a right to have this anger, remind yourself that your heart is deceitful and will, when given the chance, excuse everything you do. This is the reason I so desperately need the Word of God to serve as an X-ray into my deceitful heart. Thank God for the Word’s purifying power!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Myths Worth Mentioning - Part 2

In the last blog I highlighted the following post from http://www.gty.org/blog/B101022 . I sincerely hope it causes us to think through some of the prevailing myths that are thrown at us by a world that has no concern nor concept regarding biblical parenting. Here is the second part of Myth Busting:


Myth # 6: “My wife should take responsibility for training our children since I work.”
Husbands, don’t turn God’s calling for your wife (Titus 2:4-5, to love you and your children, and keep the home) into a fatal parenting myth. God’s instruction to your wife doesn’t excuse you from parental responsibility. Scripture presents parenting as a joint-effort, and it also issues several commands directly to you fathers—it’s your responsibility to train your children (Eph 6:4, Col. 3:21). It’s true, your wife will spend more time at home with the kids while you work, but that doesn’t eliminate or diminish your responsibility to join her—in fact to lead her—in the parenting task.
Myth # 7: “My children won’t be able to understand spiritual truths until they are much older.
Biblical history, human history, and common experience demonstrate how young children can comprehend spiritual truth. Remember the prophet Samuel, or the young king Josiah? Samuel’s close relationship to the Lord began at a very young age (1 Sam. 2:26), and king Josiah instigated spiritual revival in Judah when he was only a teenager (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chronicles 34:33). In 1735, during the American Great Awakening, God saved Phebe Bartlet, a young girl in Jonathan Edward’s congregation, when she was only 4 years old. Parents and pastor alike thoroughly examined her comprehension of gospel truth and found clear evidence that she was born again. Time proved the genuineness of her profession. One of her favorite activities was attending church to hear the preaching of her pastor, Jonathan Edwards (not a theological lightweight). Don’t fool yourself parent—and certainly don’t try and fool your children. They are sharper than you think.
Myth # 8: “If I spank my children, it will exasperate and provoke them.”
Sadly, this myth is alive and well in many Christian homes. It intimidates parents and spoils children. Contrary to our anti-spanking culture, Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Truth is, if you want to provoke and spoil your children, just continue to shelter them from the painful consequences of disobedience (Prov. 29:15). No kid loves a spanking, and we don’t like discipline either, do we? But the writer of Hebrews tells us that discipline yields peaceful, productive fruit (Heb. 12:5-11). (Here are a few other Scriptures to counter this insidious myth—Prov. 19:18; 22:15; 23:13; 29:17).
Myth # 9: “Spanking my children is the key to successful biblical parenting.”
For some of you, spanking your child seems quicker, easier, and more effective than the relentless dawn-to-dusk instruction called for in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (see Myth #4). Ephesians 6 also calls for “discipline,” but Paul clearly has more in mind than spanking. The positive command, “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (v. 4), refers to the systematic training and instruction of children. Literally, the word “instruction” could be translated “putting in mind.” As a parent, you want to impart the knowledge of God regularly and lovingly to your child under the guidance of Scripture. That is the key to successful parenting. Spanking is just one part of that larger task.
Myth # 10: “If I teach my kids properly, God promises they’ll eventually turn out well.”
No doubt you’ve heard this myth. It’s a popular interpretation, and application, of Proverb 22:6—“Train up a child in the way he should go, and even when he is old he will not depart from it.” How many times have you seen a parent cling to that verse in desperation as they watch defiant children forsake all they were taught? Some children sit under loving, prayerful instruction from their parents, only to later shame them with a scandalous lifestyle. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it. But Solomon’s proverb is not meant to be a gilt-edged guarantee your child will eventually trust Christ and live righteously. Solomon is simply saying early training usually secures lifelong habits. It’s a charge to give great care and consistency to how and what you teach your children. God promises to bless us for parental faithfulness, but that doesn’t necessarily mean our children will be saved. They have their own relationship with God to work out.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Myths Worth Mentioning


Below you will find the link and the blog concerning Myths of Raising Kids. I find it alarming that so many parents, who are believers, buy into the pop child psychology of our day. I want to encourage you to read this two part blog, as well as the Scripture references. I hope it serves as an exhortation to see your children as the gift they are. 

                           

Myths—they intrigue, entertain, and sometimes even humor us. From health and history to sports and science, myths and misconceptions seem to find their way into every realm of human thought and activity—including parenting.
As Christians, we probably dismiss most of the parenting myths we encounter without a second thought, right? After all, we’re Christians, those who look to and depend upon God’s Word to determine our reality, not worldly platitudes or cultural traditions. If you’re among those who think only na├»ve and untaught Christians fall for unbiblical substitutes when it comes to parenting, maybe you’d better take a look at our list.
Here are ten of the most common myths confronting Christian parents these days. Mom and dad, as you endeavor to raise your children to the glory of God, take note of them:
Myth # 1: “Children must be the first priority in our family.”
Heard that one? According to this myth, the child-centered family is the successful family, so the more attention you give your children, the better they’ll turn out. Basically, you’ve got to prioritize your children over your spouse. No matter how pious they make it sound, it’s not pious at all. The Bible says your spouse is your priority, second only to God. Husbands, you understand this…God commands you to love you wife as your own body (Eph. 5:28). Why? Because you’re in a “one flesh” relationship with that woman (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). There is no such relationship between parent and child; it’s a different level of intimacy. To elevate the relationship with your children above the more intimate relationship you have with your spouse isn’t positive in any sense. It’s a subtle but dangerous myth that always weakens and sometimes wrecks a home. Beware.
Myth # 2: “I should rely mainly upon the church—particularly the children’s ministry, to teach the Bible to my children.”
Most of us would probably deny believing this myth, but how we live tells all. Evaluate your habits at home, parents. Where does the majority of your children’s spiritual instruction take place—church or home? Who provides that instruction—an Awana leader or you? We’re not belittling the role of your local church’s teaching ministries. We are pointing out that Sunday school and youth group should supplement your teaching at home, not replace it. Both the Old and New Testaments assign parents, not pastors, the responsibility of teaching their children (See Deut. 6:4-9; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21).
Myth # 3: “The behavior of my children is a sure measure of successful parenting.”
That statement would cease to be a myth with a slight adjustment: Your response to the behavior of your children is a sure measure of successful parenting. See the difference? Your child’s behavior is mostly out of your control; your response is not. None of us, especially after the early years, can control our child’s behavior. But you can and must control your response to their behavior. God’s simple instruction to parents is found in Ephesians 6:4, “Bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Your success as a parent relates to how faithfully you carry out that charge, not how well your children receive discipline and instruction.
Myth # 4: Quality time with my children is more important than quantity time.”
Some parents use this myth to ease their guilt for spending too little time with their kids. That’s not the biblical model. When God instructed parents to impart His Law to their children, notice how much time is involved: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up” (Deut. 6:6, 7). We’re mistaken to think we can somehow schedule those teachable moments into a few scattered, “quality” interactions between dinner and dessert. Faithfulness to the parenting task requires more time than that. As you make yourself available, you’ll begin to see how many unplanned opportunities arise out of those times of sitting, walking, lying down, and rising up.
Myth # 5: “My children belong to me.”

Behind this myth is the false notion that, “My children are my property, and it’s my right to raise them as seems best to me.” Psalm 127:3 says, “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord.” Even life itself is a gift, isn’t it? But it still belongs to God. Parenting is a stewardship, and we are stewards of all God’s gifts, including our children. We provide care, impart instruction, and teach them to fear God, and one day we’ll give an account to Him for how we carry out our charge. Children belong to God.