An Unconventional Graduation Blessing

Joshua McNall gave a beautifully unconventional graduation blessing to the class of 2017:

Class of 2017, hear these words:

May you fail  [long pause] … to seek significance in the plastic trinkets of this world / things like money, power, and fame. / And may you find significance in this: / that you are a beloved child of God / Etched in the image of Jesus Christ.

May you have enemies / So that you may love them just as Jesus did / and thus turn some of them to friends.

May you be disloyal citizens / to rival kings and rival kingdoms / So that you may prove true to good king Jesus / And see his Kingdom come.

May your life not go (entirely) as you have planned it / And in those moments, may you come to see that, alongside fidelity, God’s other name is “Surprise.”

And most of all: May you know that we, as your faculty, cannot wait to see you go / Not because we want to be rid of you / But because through your lives, our little ministries will multiply a hundredfold.

We love you; Godspeed.

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How to Protect Yourself Online

Jonathan McKee:

I’ve frequently heard social media experts, advise, “Always be careful what you allow someone to film.” Personally, I don’t think this is very good advice, simply because I’ve read countless stories of people who didn’t even realize they were being filmed or recorded.

Here’s a better piece of advice: Live your life in such a way that people can’t accuse you of anything.

Yeah. You read that correctly.

What I’m suggesting is, don’t get drunk, don’t make racial slurs, don’t smoke a bowl, don’t get naked with anyone but your spouse. And guess what? Then you’ll never have to worry, “Is there a camera in this room?”

In the book of 1 Peter he wrote, “It is God’s will that your honorable he wrote, “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15).

That advice is a lot different than “Be careful what people film you doing.” Peter is saying, “Be careful how you live.”

(Take from The Teen’s Guide to Social Media… and Mobile Devices: 21 Tips to Wise Posting in an Insecure World, p. 47).

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Dads of Daughters: Put Your Shotgun Away

As a man who has been entrusted to care for two beautiful daughters, this hit home in all the right ways.

Jen Wilkin:

Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own. Because you know what’s intimidating? Strength and dignity. Deep faith. Self-assuredness. Wisdom. Kindness. Humility. Industriousness. Those are the bricks that build the wall that withstands the advances of Slouchy-Pants, whether you ever show up with your Winchester locked and loaded or not. The unsuitable suitor finds nothing more terrifying than a woman who knows her worth to God and to her family…

So put down your shotgun. Pick up your Indian Princess guide book, or your coach’s clipboard. Take a seat at a tea party. Teach how to change a flat and start the mower. Discuss politics and economics and theology. Compliment a new outfit or an A in math. Tell her you think she is absolutely beautiful. Kneel at a pink chenille bedside and pray your guts out. Raise a daughter with a fully loaded heart and mind so that a fully loaded shotgun isn’t necessary. She shouldn’t need you to scare off weak suitors. Let her strength and dignity do the job. Resolve to settle for nothing less than the best protection for your daughter. Resolve to be the kind of man you want her to bring home. Resolve to build a wall.

“What shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver. . .” (Song of Solomon 8:8–9).

Dads, stop thinking about shotguns and love your daughters as Jesus would have you.

Read the whole article here.

For another look at the same idea, don’t miss this gem from Voddie Baucham.

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When Conversion is Worthless

Often, in Christian testimonies, one’s conversion experience takes center stage. Usually, with cool lights, soft music, and a little fog, the circumstance, emotions, and sensations of the event are described in great, gut-wrenching detail. Whenever testimonies are called for, more airtime is often given to those with the juiciest conversion-story offerings; those with boring testimonies (i.e. those punk, church-kids) are never asked to share unless they fudge the details to make their story a bit sexier. All that to be said, Evangelical Christians love a good conversion story.

Now, do not misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with sharing the story of our conversion. When done well, they often bring glory to Christ as the One who saves the worst of us. But the ongoing emphasis on the moment of conversion can distract us from this one crucial, Scriptural truth: our conversion is worthless if it doesn’t result in life of love and obedience to God. David Wells explains:

Conversion inaugurates a life devoted to serving God. Conversion is not an isolated event but it is related to the entire life of faith that follows from it. It is the moment of birth into a new life. It is like a doorway into a room. A person is born to live, not to linger on the edge of the womb in a time of limbo. A person opens a door not for the pleasure of standing forever on the threshold but to enter the room. The Evangelical world has strangely perverted this truth. Evangelicals often make the test of spiritual life one’s willingness to testify about the moment of birth. Describing one’s sensations in passing through the doorway is considered proof that one is in the room! This shifts the focus from where it ought to be (the evidence of the Spirit’s renewing work in producing a God-centered life, a God-fearing heart, and a God-honoring character and witness) and places it on a person’s autobiographical account of the conversion crisis. The only real proof of our conversion is an obedient and fruitful life.

(Taken from Turning to God, p. 43)

Jesus’ disciples are known by their fruit (Matt. 7:15-20). The plant that produced fruit was the only one not cut down (Mark 4:3-20). Only those who do the Father’s will are recognized by Jesus as family (Matt. 12:50). Faith without deeds is dead (James 2:17). Love for Jesus will always result in obedience to Jesus (John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10). More important than how high you jump is how straight you walk afterward. Genuine Christian conversion will change not only one’s claim but also their conduct. The Spirit of God is just too powerful and loving to dwell within us and leave us unchanged.

If you’d like a sermon that powerfully applies this truth to the American Church today, hold onto your hats and check this out.

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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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