If the Bible is Really God’s Word…

Marshall & Payne:

If we believe that the Bible’s word is the powerful speech of God, then in many respects what we want to see flourish in our church culture is as many instances as possible of the Bible being spoken, read, studied, preached, explained, taught, discussed, memorized, prayed over and meditated upon.

(Taken from The Vine Project, 85)

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A Crucial Word for Christian Teachers & Educational Institutions

In the following quote, Carl Trueman, with pinpoint precision, diagnoses the mindset of today’s students and nails how Christian educators (Trueman speaks specifically of college educators, but it applies to any kind of Christian educator) must respond.

Christian colleges cannot win merely by shouting Bible verses, however sophisticated their idiom. Nor will they win by good old-fashioned arguments resting on logic and reason. That’s not how it works any more.

I became acutely aware of the latter fact some years ago, when I was challenged by a student while delivering a guest lecture on gay marriage at a very conservative Christian college. My arguments did not work, because . . . well, they were arguments, and did not take into account how the mind of my young critic had been formed. She had not been convinced by any argument. Her imagination had been seized by an aesthetically driven culture, in which taste was truth and Will and Grace carried more weight than any church catechism or tome of moral philosophy.

In such a world, arguments, even irrefutable arguments, will not suffice. We need something more comprehensive, something to capture imaginations. We need a philosophy of undergraduate education that offers visions of beauty, that connects the fields of knowledge our modern world has torn apart and isolated, and that speaks to the human desire for meaning. A good start might be making the study of poetry, that medium which at its best makes human language carry almost more significance than it can bear, a compulsory course for freshmen. If the narrative and aesthetic of the world are gripping, then we must show that ours are more gripping, rooted as they are in real beauty and real truth…

… Colleges need to be thinking about their curricula in terms of seizing the imaginations of their students: teaching them that there is more to music than rap, more to love than porn, more to narrative construction than soap operas, more to culture than lambasting those terribly wicked white males, more to history than a zero-sum tale of Western oppression of the Other, more to education than a means to a paycheck.

Trevin Wax put it this way:

What is needed is a response that takes into consideration the beauty of Truth. We’ve got the truth portion down when it comes to propositions. What is needed is a beautiful and compelling portrait of Truth – the Person. God is inherently beautiful, but many times, we don’t do well at drawing out the inherent beauty of Truth with a capital T.

In the Scriptures, we have the true, good, and beautiful. Now, we must do the hard work of capturing the minds and hearts of others with all of it.

Read Trueman’s entire article here.

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Four Ways to Make Your Kids Hate Christianity

As my little ones are growing up (too quickly), I am finding that good parenting involves saying the word “No” a lot. I need to say “No” when my daughter wants to stick her finger in the electrical outlet. I have to strongly reject her wishes to lay down in the middle of the street. When she wants to go for a quick run with my kitchen knife in hand, I have to deny her the experience. The simple fact is this: loving your children in a dangerous world demands that you use word “No” regularly.

Not only is this true of physically harmful things, but, even more, the Christian parent must think about all the spiritually harmful things our kids will drift into if we don’t intervene. As Christian parents, we have to say no to allowing our kids to buy into the empty promises of the world that will only lead to destruction and dissatisfaction. Therefore, the word “No” must be put into all the more use as the spiritual sphere is considered.

However, this “No” saying, poses a threat and Natasha Crain puts her finger directly on it.

In a world like this, parents must increasingly say “no.” A lot. But if we’re not careful in how we execute our counter-cultural living, our kids can start seeing us like the alarmist…and resent Christianity because of it.

Helpfully, in her excellent post, Natasha goes further to examine four major ways that Christian parents unintentionally cause their children to resent Christianity as they do the necessary work of saying “No.”

1) We focus more on the dangers of the world than on the beauty of Christianity. In a world that seems to be going crazier by the second, it’s easy to spend more time pointing out the darkness of culture than the light of Christianity. Now, don’t get me wrong; we absolutely need to make our kids aware of cultural dangers. But when we don’t consistently point them back to the beauty of the Christian worldview which renders our culture so ugly in the first place, our faith will become defined by what we’re against more than what we’re for.

2) We spend more time addressing what is problematic about culture than why it’s problematic. When the message our kids hear is an ongoing stream of don’ts without meaningful explanation—don’t listen to this music, don’t visit these sites, don’t use this social media platform, don’t subscribe to this magazine, don’t join this political movement—they’ll start to wonder if our level of concern about the world is warranted. And meaningful explanation requires demonstrating how the problems actually relate to the Christian worldview. Simply telling our kids that a movie has violence and they shouldn’t watch it, for example, is hardly a meaningful explanation. Why is that a problem for Christians? How can that affect us spiritually? Where should we draw the line? These kinds of questions should regularly be discussed.

3) We frame our lives in terms of worldly limits more than Christian freedom. I often see ex-Christians comment about the freedom they feel in “letting go of God.” The language they use to describe their deconversion says so much. They saw religion as a limiting approach to life and therefore felt freer after shedding their beliefs in God. But as Christians we know that we are not free in our natural state at all—we are slaves to sin. When we put our faith in Jesus, we are given a new nature that is free from such bondage (Romans 6:18).

The reality, therefore, is that only Christians are actually free.

4) We focus more on authoritative parental decisions than on cultivating the skill of discernment. In many cases, parents have a bigger perspective than kids can possibly have given their limited life experiences. We have to make certain decisions on our kids’ behalves. But if we consistently present our “counter-cultural” lives as a series of decisions made by mom and dad (albeit for good reason), kids will naturally resent what they feel has been forced upon them. To the degree we can, we should always strive to cultivate our kids’ skill of discernment by involving them in the thought process of our decision making. After all, the second they walk out our door as adults, “authoritative parental decisions” no longer apply.

I highly recommend you read Natasha’s entire post here.

Even more, she recommends a book by my friend, apologist Brett Kunkle, that seeks to explain, “Why culture matters and how to handle topics with your kids such as pornography, the hookup culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, affluence and consumerism, addiction, entertainment, and racial tension.” It’s already on my wish list.

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What’s the Church Member’s Job?

Are you a member of a church? If yes, do you know what your job is, according to the Bible? Put aside the job of the pastor, the youth guy, the children’s director, or the deacons for a moment and ask a question not many even think to ask: what is the job of a regular old church member? What’s the job description of a ordinary member of a church?

Jonathan Leeman answers:

A church member’s job…

is to know the gospel,

to only support teachers who teach the gospel,

to live by the gospel in word and deed,

to help other church members do the same,

and to call non-Christian neighbors to the obedience of repentance and faith in Christ the Savior-King.

We help other church members by knowing them, by involving ourselves in their lives, and by speaking “only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Eph 4: 29). This is the picture of a body “building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part” (Eph 4: 16).

(Taken from Baptist Foundations: Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age (Kindle Locations 649-655). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.)

There’s more to being a church member than many think, let alone practice. But, may God fill our churches with people of such a mind.

For a little more explanation of each idea, see Leeman’s article, “7 Responsibilities as a Church Member” here.

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A Vision of the Lost

If this doesn’t fire you up, your wood is wet.

William Booth, the founder of The Salvation Army, once shared this vision:

I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam, tower and break again.

In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.

And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with it’s summit towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.

On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion to “rescue the perishing.” And I hardly know which gladdened me the most- the sight of the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort for their deliverance.

As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company. That is, they were divided into different “sets” or classes, and they occupied themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.

But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these people did not even seem to have any care- that is any agonizing care- about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes…many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children.

Read the whole vision here.

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I Am Built on Blood

Christians are a people who exist because our Christ has spilled His blood as the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. He died the death we deserved and thus paid the penalty for our sins in full. We are a people bought by blood (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

However, the blood of Christ was not the only blood shed to make us what we are. Kevin Miller explains:

“You and I would not and could not hold faith in Christ today, if many of the early Christians had not marched into the arena or toiled in the mines, unbent and uncompromised… Each time you and I meet a Christian, we are viewing a monument to the unknown early Christian martyrs.

Kevin A. Miller, “Tomb of the Unknown Christians,” Christian History 9, no. 27 (1990): 2.

Thank God for sending His Son to shed His blood for our life and thank Jesus sending His people to shed their blood to bring us the message of His life giving sacrifice.

We are their monument; built on their blood.

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One Practice & Three Counsels to Attack Your Child’s Constant Boredom

If you are like most parents, you often hear your child complain, “I’m bored.” There are various approaches parents take in dealing with their child’s plight, but I found Julie Lowe’s simple response to her children’s boredom intriguing and helpful.

Julie Lowe explains:

We told our children that every time we hear the words, “I’m bored” (and all versions of boredom: “I’m tired”, “Nothing to do”, etc.), we would assign a chore to do. It didn’t take long before the words slipped out and thereafter, my kids appeared to find ways to occupy their time.

But Lowe notes that though this technique may change the behavior of our kids, it won’t get to the more fundamental issues in their heart. In other words, it’ll change the fruit of verbally complaining about boredom, but not the root that continually causes boredom. It’ll erase the symptom, but not the sickness. It’s start, but not an end.

Knowing this, Lowe then gives three counsels for how parents can get at the heart of their frequently bored child.

1) Help Them Exchange Passive Entertainment to Active Engagement

“When left to their own devices, they will often turn first to technology which allows them to be passively entertained rather than actively engaged in a hobby or activity. By spending time on social media, video games, TV or movies, they are, quite literally, entertaining themselves to mindlessness. When there is a moment of silence or inactivity, the adversity of boredom descends upon them and they feel incapable of overcoming it. “

So help them exchange their go-to entertainment for actively engaging hobbies by introducing them to engaging activities like crafts, art, music, building, writing, reading, sports, robotics, and more. For a huge list of actively engaging options, here is a website dedicated to actively engaging hobbies.

2) Help Them Foster the Gift of Stillness

“There is something lost when we do not learn to just sit, to be quiet, swing on a hammock or take a walk without something bellowing in our ear. We all need to stop and smell the roses, experience creation, to cease striving and know that He is God. We need to learn to enjoy such moments as a delight, not a period of boredom. Like us, children need to learn to reflect, contemplate, and meditate on the things of God. How will that happen if we do not endeavor to instill this in our children?”

I personally believe of the best ways to do this is by learning to do it yourself. One of the things I am learning as I watch my fellow adults is that we often have no idea how to sit still. So, before helping your child foster the gift of stillness ask yourself if you even have it! Learn to be without the TV, the phone, or any other amusement device and your kids will pick up on the unique gift it is.

3) Help Them Think Outside of Themselves

“There is a world of need, service, job opportunities, education and life to be lived and they need to be nudged (or sometimes dragged) in the right direction. Teens are not going to wake up one day and feel charitable and ask to go serve in the local food pantry. It requires cultivating generosity and a desire to serve…As parents, we have to be willing to do the hard work of steering our kids towards service and imparting within them a desire to be other-centered.”

What are various family service projects at home, at church, or in your community that you could do with your child? In your example and leading (not just your words), how are you cultivating a servant’s heart in your child?

At the end, Lowe’s final word gives the principal behind the practices, as parents we must carefully study, “what captures their affections and (equip) them to thoughtfully steward their free time.” Find out the things that excite them and help them plan their schedule accordingly.

I encourage you to read her whole post here.

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