The Power of a Father's Example

I am currently reading John Ensor's Doing Things Right In Matters of the Heart. Speaking of the importance and influence of good examples for people to follow in terms of marriage relationships and biblical discretion in potential relationships, Ensor comments,

I am the only condom my daughter will ever need. I am her protection. I have modeled for her what kind of man to look for in marriage by how I live and love her mother. I have shown her what to look for--someone who values integrity and lives in submission to God, someone who works hard for his family and laughs loud with them and can't keep his hands off his wife. My boys too are watching and learning from me.

The quote has a little bit of a "shock factor" to it, but it should. As a father, I need to set the example of what kind of man Annika and Alexa should look for in a husband. If I set the right example for them for 17 or 18 years of what a godly husband should be and do, then by God''s grace the chances of them even looking for, not to mention marrying, someone who doesn't fit that example are extremely low. Fathers, be the kind of husbands and fathers you would desire your daughters to marry or your sons to become. You have more influence than you know.


A Defining Moment & Very Wise Advice To Parents

Clayton King posts about the conversion of his five year old son, Jacob. I pray God will let me write similar posts some day in regards to Annika and Alexa. Clayton mentions three things he has been (still is) praying for his boys:

1. God, save them while they are young.
2. God, may they walk with You every day of their lives and never pursue anything but You.
3. God, call my boys to preach the gospel.

Holly and I would need to adjust the third to maybe, "God call our girls to be pastor's wives or missionaries," but those are great requests to lift up to God daily on behalf of your children.

Clayton also gives very sound advice when it comes to sharing the gospel with your children and being very careful in regards to their conversion or profession of faith:

Our philosophy has been simple: we will not force our children to pray a prayer they don’t understand to a God they are afraid of so they can go to a cool place called Heaven and eat ice cream and fly around with angel wings forever. Trust me, I have seen altars full of teenagers and college students who “came back” to a faith that was never really their’s in the first place because they raised their hand after a group prayer so they would not be the only kid in the group who failed to pray to Jesus. We want to fill our boys with so much of God’s truth and love that once they have their “conversion moment” they will rest assured in God’s ability to save them and keep them. Forever. We are willing to wait as long as it takes, trusting that they are also on a journey of faith, no matter that they are just 6 and 3 years old, respectively.

Parents, share the gospel daily with your children formally and informally, but "be willing to wait as long as it takes," trusting in the work of the Holy Spirit to change their heart through the gospel. Do not settle for anything less, especially a "decision" from which they will one day depart.

Wisdom For the Church From the Celtics?

Clayton King gives some insightful and accurate wisdom that churches can learn and should follow, derived from the 2008 World Champion Boston Celtics (yes, you do read some pride in that phrase!) Below are the main points with an excerpt or two. Be sure to read the entire post here.

The church in America finds itself in a precarious situation. We no longer get a free pass as the respected and revered institution of the 1950s. All major denominations are in decline, both in membership and conversions. Younger generations are not just walking away from the church; they never came in the first place. Church is NOT irrelevant to most young Americans. It is NON-EXISTENT. Get defensive if you want to, but these are the indisputable facts. The churches that are making a difference with the gospel all have different styles and structures, but the ones that are engaging people and culture with the salt and light of the gospel have some things in common with the Boston Celtics. Read on, this might take a while.

1. Embracing Change Not Living On Legacy
2. Staying Hungry, Not Fat and Satisfied
3. Staying Faithful, Not Flashy

The church does not have to be flashy, fancy, or frenetic. We don’t need to listen to the holy haters or hire expert consultants to tell us how to successfully do what they never successfully did. We just need to know the gospel, believe the gospel, and live the gospel according the culture and community we exist in. Many think that because a church has been around for 100 years that means it has been faithful. Not necessarily. In the same way, just because a new church has a cool name and sweet video intros does not mean it will be around in 10 years or even 10
months. Faithfulness is blessed when it revolves around Christ and His mission to redeem the world, not our attempts to be successful, cool, or relevant.

4. Keep It Simple


Commendable Commentary On Resolution #6

Greg Gilbert recently commented on Resolution # 6 (see previous post). His commentary is commendable,

This is good on many different levels, and the SBC should be commended for adopting this resolution. There is enormous confusion in Southern Baptist churches these days about who should be members of a local church, and why. Southern Baptists regularly baptize four-year-olds on little more than their profession that they love Jesus, our rolls claim over 16 million members when really only about 6 million show up at church on any given Sunday...

SBC resolutions normally represent the convention speaking to the world—or to the president, or to Congress—about a particular problem, and staking out what we Southern Baptists believe and what we think ought to be done. All that’s fine. But it’s fairly rare for the convention to turn and use one of its resolutions to speak to itself. This is one of those times, and the result is a document that will be genuinely useful for pastors who are in the trenches trying to restore meaningful church membership in their congregations.

There are many pastors out there who are trying to do that, and who are running into opposition from long-time members who are saying something like “But Baptists don’t do that.” And sadly, they’re right. Baptists haven’t done this in a long time. But here, all of a sudden, is a little help: “But Mr. Jones, take a look at this. The convention is asking us to take this more seriously!”

It’s no magic bullet; that’s for sure. But reform doesn’t happen in a day, and every little bit help

Resolution #6

I mentioned Resolution #6 on Regenerate Church Membership which passed at this years Annual Meeting of the SBC. Here is the final, amended resolution for anyone who is interested and especially for our church members who may not have caught all of it as I read it at the end of our time together a few weeks ago.

June 2008

WHEREAS, The ideal of a regenerate church membership has long been and remains a cherished Baptist principle, with Article VI of the Baptist Faith and Message describing the church as a “local congregation of baptized believers”; and

WHEREAS, A New Testament church is composed only of those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word, becoming disciples of Jesus Christ, the local church’s only Lord, by grace through faith (John 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-9), which church practices believers’ only baptism by immersion(Matthew 28:16-20), and the Lord’s supper (Matthew 26:26-30); and

WHEREAS, Local associations, state conventions, and the Southern Baptist Convention compile statistics reported by the churches to make decisions for the future; and

WHEREAS, The 2007 Southern Baptist Convention annual Church Profiles indicate that there are 16,266,920 members in Southern Baptist churches; and

WHEREAS, Those same profiles indicate that only 6,148,868 of those members attend a primary worship service of their church in a typical week; and

WHEREAS, The Scriptures admonish us to exercise church discipline as we seek to restore any professed brother or sister in Christ who has strayed from the truth and is in sin (Matthew 18:15-35; Galatians 6:1); and now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 10-11, 2008, urge churches to maintain a regenerate membership by acknowledging the necessity of spiritual regeneration and Christ’s
lordship for all members; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge our churches to maintain accurate membership rolls for the purpose of fostering ministry and accountability among all members of the congregation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to repent of the failure among us to live up to our professed commitment to regenerate church membership and any failure to obey Jesus Christ in the practice of lovingly correcting wayward church members (Matthew 18:15-18); and be it further

RESOLVED, That we humbly encourage denominational servants to support and encourage churches that seek to recover and implement our Savior’s teachings on church discipline, even if such efforts result in the reduction in the number of members that are reported in those churches, and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we humbly urge the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and their pastors to implement a plan to minister to, counsel, and restore wayward church members based upon the commands and principles given in Scripture(Matthew 18:15-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

'Blowing the Boredom Out of People's Brains'

This is a classic quote from John Piper in response to Collin Hansen's remark that John Piper is not an innovator. Read below John Piper's aspirations of living up to this compliment:

I hope I can live up to that tribute. I would like it to be true. I am very happy with the simple role of blowing the boredom out of people's brains with long-forgotten, old-fashioned, faithful blasts of biblical truth.

May his tribe increase!


Sunday Leftovers For Monday (and Tuesday)

I mentioned a short critique of The Shack in this past Sunday's sermon as an example of the danger that spiritual immaturity can lead to in the life of the church--we can get drawn away into the kind of false teachings that are found in The Shack.

Below Mark Driscoll gives a helpful critique as well as to why if you have not read The Shack, then don't!


"Cross-Centered Life"

I finished reading C.J. Mahaney's Living the Cross-Centered Life a few weeks ago. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. It reminds us of the centrality of the cross in all that we are and do as followers of Christ. It encourages us to daily focus on the greatness and amazement of the gospel and what Christ has accomplished for believers on the cross. Below are a few excerpts from the final chapter.

But the "more" you need as a follower of Christ won't be found apart from the cross. The gospel isn't one class among many that you'll attend during your life as a Christian--the gospel is the whole building where all the classes take place! Rightly approached, all the topics you'll study and focus on as a believer will be offered to you "within the walls" of the glorious gospel.

Quoting Jim Elliff, "One is taken aback by the emphasis upon the cross in Revelation. Heaven does not 'get over' the cross, as if there are better things to think about "; heaven is not only Christ-centered, Elliff observes, but cross-centered--'and quite blaring about it."

Students in the school of prayer never graduate from the school of the gospel.

Your pride and sinufl self-sufficiency will tell you, "Okay, this material about the gospel has been great. But now it's time to put all the grace aside and get down to work. It's time to make some change happen and get holy!" That's not going to work...Only grace sustains lasting change and sanctification. Through the cross we overcome not only the guilt of sin, but the power of sin as well.

What about the practical stuff? Surely there comes a time when we move on from the gospel just a little so we can focus on the everyday issues of our relationships with other people. This is tempting to believe, but it's just not true. Regardless of your relationship with others, whether you're single or married, a husband or a wife, a father, a mother or a grandparent, your faithfulness and effectiveness in your relationships are directly tired to your understanding of the cross.

I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know this: Because of the cross, I'll be doing better than I deserve.


Encouragement In the Midst of Discouragement

Discouragement sets in to all pastors. It is an inevitable occurance in the life of any pastor. The question is not, "Will I encounter discouragement in the ministry?" but rather "When will I encounter discouragement and how will I react to it?" It is tempting to persist in the discouragement and become more and more discouraged. But that is not how God would have the pastor to react.

It is much better to acknowledge the discouragement, repent where repentance is needed, and go to the Word of God for encouragement. As a pastor, I found that encouragement this week in Exodus 5 & 6. In this passage, Moses has been called by God to deliver the people of Israel from Egypt. Reluctantly Moses obeys what God has said and goes to Pharaoh and tells him to let the people of Israel go and worship the LORD. Pharaoh refuses and instead makes the labor of the Israelites more burdensome. The people complain to Moses about how bad things are and how he has made things worse for them. Moses cries out to God in discouragement and frustration about how things are not going the way they should and how God is not delivering the people, but things are getting worse.

God then reveals Himself again to Moses and tells him to go and once again tell the people who He is and that He will deliver them and be faithful to all His promises to their fathers. But again they did not listen to Moses. Then the LORD tells Moses to once again tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go. Moses replies in discouragement and frustration again that his own people will not listen to him, much less Pharaoh.

Then the Word of God says,

But the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

Sometimes in the midst of a pastor being obedient to God, things might get "seemingly" worse for the people. Attendance may decrease. Offerings may drop off. Fewer decisions may be made, but the pastor must not desist from the path of obedience to God. Even in the midst of a negative reaction from some of the people and the seemingly impossibility of the task given to Moses from God the conclusion of Exodus 6:13 is that God had given a charge and God's man must be obedient.

Pastors: In the midst of the temptation to be discouraged and stay discourage and to let that discouragement lead to disobeying the leadership and Word of God, remember the charge God has given you in His Word and follow His leadership. God has spoken and He has charged you with a charge and a calling. Lovingly, fulfill it.

God's Anger Unrestrained

A few days ago I was reading in my quiet time with God through Psalm 78. It is a charge to God's people to faithfully tell of the wondrous works of God to their children and their children's children so that they would see the mighty works of God and set their hope in Him. Then the Psalmist recounts some of those wondrous works in relation to God's dealing with His people, Israel--how they forgot his works, rebelled, were rescued by God and then forgot his works again and rebelled again.

Then listen vv. 37-38,

Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath.

God atoned for their sin and did not destroy them when He had every right to do so. Why? Because of his covenant and promise with their forefathers--Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of his promise to Adam and Eve of One who would come from the woman and crush the head of Satan. That One would come from Israel and so God was faithful to preserve a remnant of His people and not destroy them completely so that the One would come to crush Satan.

The One was God's Son, Jesus Christ. But in order for Him to crush Satan and his works of sin and deception God had to crush His Son. "It pleased the LORD to bruise him." God did not stir up all of his wrath against Israel and destroy them and unleash the full force of His anger against them because that would one day be reserved for His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ on the cross bore the brunt of the unrestrained anger and fully stirred up wrath of God against the sin of all who would repent from their sin and believe in Him.

That is amazing and amazing grace for which I and no one deserves.


Other Reflections from Indy

Ed Stetzer gives a good recap and analysis of the events of the annual meeting here. Below is a good excerpt that summarizes where we are and hopefully where we are going. Be sure to read the entire post here.

I have said before and will say it again here: "People never change until the pain of staying the same grows greater than the pain of change." I think the pain of staying the same is getting to become a reality and now people are saying 'We're going to change." That tipping point has arrived. And I observe that our leadership and convention are calling for change to occur. I outlined some of my thoughts here as to what I believe are some priorities for us moving forward.

Reflections From the SBC Annual Meeting

Holly and I had the opportunity to attend the SBC Annual Meeting in Indianapolis this week. I just wanted to offer some quick reflections.

The Bad

  • If a road is closed completely, then do not have a sign that only says, "Road closed to large trucks." This cost us an hour's time on the way there.
  • No free wi-fi at the Hyatt Regency. That's absurd!
  • We did not get to make it to any of the Pastor's Conference on Sunday evening, but were able to catch some of the sessions on Monday. We laughed while we were in those sessions, but then left pretty frustrated and discouraged. One pastor talked about pastors being re-baptized to encourage others who need to be baptized. I'm serious.
  • If the SBC spent have as much time focusing on God's Gospel as it does on new and improved plans and programs and strategies, the Great Commission Resurgence we all desire to see, by God's grace just might happen. We need to stop trying to come up with new and improved catchy ideas and just focus on God's idea--the Gospel. Stop trying to disguise God's idea--the Church being the Church and sharing the Gospel and living its implications out in the world--as something "new" or different or innovative. We shouldn't have to trick people into doing what the NT tells us to do. I am all for every person sharing and every person hearing by 2020, but praying, engaging, sowing, and harvesting (the four sign posts/mile markers or whatever to NAMB's new evangelism initiative are not new concepts, but just what the NT tells us we are to be doing.) We need to stop spending so much time and money on thinking up "new" ideas and strategies and just stick with God's--the Church being the Church and taking the Gospel to the world. We can keep throwing money into new ideas and strategies, but nothing will change until local churches start being the Church where God has placed them and exporting the Gospel that created the Church to the world. This starts with pastors faithfully preaching God's Word expositionally week in and week out, equipping the saints with and through the Gospel.
  • An amendment to a resolution concerning the recent law changes in California involving same sex marriage failed. The amendment to the resolution would have urged parents in CA to withdraw their children from public schools due to the recent legislation that allows the teaching of same sex marriage, the normalcy of homosexuality, and also that gender distinctions are not God-given and biological, but rather a matter of personal choice. If you decide you are a girl then you are a girl, despite what your anatomy may say to the contrary. The argument against passing the amendment had to do with not wanting to withdraw from the culture, but rather engage it. How is a kindergarden age child or a first or second grader going to engage that culture at school? Should parents even ask them to do so at that young age? How are parents to engage the culture of the public school for the eight hours while their child is being indoctrinated with this garbage and they are at work? How can we as parents and as a Convention vote to withdraw from Disney because of homosexuality (which I believe it probably would have been wiser to engage the culture there), but not withdraw our children from the same homosexual indoctrinating culture in the public school system?! Something is amiss.

The Good

  • We have a great church family who allowed us to go to the convention as their messengers. We are very thankful.
  • Indianapolis is a neat city--just wish we could have enjoyed it a little more. But, this wasn't a vacation.
  • Johnny Hunt was elected on the first ballot (which was a surprise to everyone). I believe he will make a good president. He loves the Lord, His Gospel, and His Commission. As long as he stays his own man and agrees to disagree without being disagreeable on marginal issues, he will serve the convention well.
  • Frank Page served the convention remarkably as president. You will not find a man who is more gracious and humble or more of a gentleman with a Christ-like spirit than Frank Page. Only time will tell how important his presidency was to the Convention and that God raised him up for such a time as this. He just needs to work on the difference between "congressional singing" vs. "congregational singing." (Speaking of singing, one of the highlights of the convention was Dr. Page singing the opening verses of "In Christ Alone" in honor of his friend Forrest Pollack, who died along with his son in a plane crash a few months ago.)
  • I love my Seminary president, Dr. Danny Akin. He is biblical, Christ-like, and inspiring every time he speaks--even in giving a Seminary report.
  • The resolution for regenerate church membership finally passed. Praise God for the perseverance of men like Tom Ascol in seeing this come to pass. This is the highlight of the convention. The Great Commission Resurgence that we all long to see will never happen unless our churches are indeed made up of those who have truly been born-again. Churches must recapture this baptist distinctive, along with its necessary counterpart--church discipline--, in order to be the Church that God has created and called to take the Gospel to the nations. Pastors must lovingly lead the way in teaching churches to reclaim this historic baptist distinctive. (You can read the amended resolution here.)
  • The push for a Great Commission Resurgence seems to be gaining momentum. That is indeed good news and very encouraging.
  • We got to see old friends. This is always a joy.
  • We were able to see a screening of Fireproof. This is the latest film from Sherwood Baptist Church who also gave us Flywheel and Facing the Giants. This is undoubtedly the best of the three and a wonderful movie and I plan to use it as an inreach in our church and an outreach to our community. Check out more details at www.fireproofthemovie.com.
  • I got to spend a few days with my bride. Thanks to my mom, her husband, and my grandma, who watched the girls for us, Holly and I were able to go together and enjoy a few days alone. It was needed and a blessing.

That's about all. Next year, Lord willing, we will meet again in Louisville. The next year should be interesting. There is reason to be optimistic about the future of our convention as long as we heed the calls we heard at this year's meeting to take an honest look at where we are as a convention and make the crucial changes needed. If we don't...well, let's just hope and pray that we do.


I love Skittles & Skittles Commercials

If you have been in my office, then you may have walked in as I was in the middle of feeding an addiction. I confess: My name is Philip Blinson and I am a Skittleholic. I love Skittles and I love these commercials about Skittles. Very funny. Enjoy!


The Last Post Should Have Been Postponed

Thabiti gives a convicting word to alll who are conservative evangelicals who have immediately publicly shared our disapproval of the policies of Barack Obama. In light of that, my previous post should have waited until Monday. Before we continue our arguments against the policies of Barack Obama, let's take a weekend to enjoy and be thankful for the grace of God in his candidacy.

Here are few excerpts from Thabiti's blog, but please read the entire post here.

So, this is a short post with a seven short statements about why... not indefinitely and not in dismissal of other important issues... my white politically and theologically conservative friends should take a long weekend and enjoy the significance of what's happening with the Barack Obama nomination. You can resume the advocacy and much-needed critiques on June 9th. But here are some reasons to come share with those who perhaps see a little bit more or a slightly different angle than yourself.

6. Your beef isn't with Obama per se. Few are the people who are saying they will not vote for him because he is black. Those folks exist, and they prove the irrationality of "race" by casting a vote against that 1/2 of his genetic background that comes from his father while ignoring the other 1/2 of his ancestry. But you've consistently said that you abhor his policies on abortion in particular. Presumably, then, you would be opposed to any candidate with this position. I'm right there with you. But since your objection is to the policy he promotes and not his ethnic background, surely you can lay aside the policy objection for a long weekend and appreciate what's happened on an ethnic and social level. Monday June 9th will be a great time to resume the policy discussions, most of which has already been said. But watching an African-American say, "I am the Democratic nominee for President of the United States," well... that's only been heard once thus far in American

7. He's not President yet. November is a ways off. There's plenty of stuff to be said and done. Monday June 9th, begin with earnest to say and do it. But for just a few days, unplug the TV pundits, take a walk with your kids, tell them a bit of American history, and together think about what the country is becoming and our ongoing part in trying to make it even better. A weekend of reflection won't kill us and, contrary to what the talking heads would make us believe, it won't determine the election. Neither Obama or McCain are President yet. So, let's just enjoy the moment with each other before we go to our respective corners and come out swinging... if Christians should come out swinging at all.

Barack Obama: "Inspiring Speaker" or "Infanticide Apologist?"

If you have followed this political primary season with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama then you have heard more than one time of Democratic Presidential Nominee Sen. Barack Obama, that he is an "Inspiring Speaker." I agree with this on some level. I remember watching the Democratic National Convention four years ago when he gave the keynote speech and saying to myself the moment he finished, "There's our next President." More than likely, he probably will be and it will not be "issues" that primarily get him the victory. If he is elected, some of it will be simply a backlash against the Bush years and the Republican Pary.

However, another very crucial ingredient to his potential victory will be the fact that the man is very gifted in public speaking. And at the end of the day in the culture that we live in the "inspiring speaker" will almost always win over the "speaker of truth." It seems Paul said something about in the last days people will surround themselves with teachers who scratch the itching ears of their own passions.

"Inspiring Speaker" just isn't qualification enough to be President of the United States. Character does matter. Joe Carter blogs about how there is a much more important issue than "Inspiring Speaker" when the conversation is about Barack Obama. The conversation must also include "Infanticide Apologist."

To earn my vote a politician must pass my dignity litmus test. Obama, like many Republicans and almost all Democrats, fails to meet that standard. But to earn my recognition of you as a fellow civilized human being a person simply has to oppose crushing the heads of infants. Sadly, Obama fails to meet that standard too.

Maybe something is lost in translation, or perhaps I simply speak a different dialect. But whenever I hear people describe Obama as an "inspiring speaker" I only hear the words "infanticide apologist" echo in my ears.


"Edgiest Evangelicals"

Matt Schmucker over at 9 Marks casts his vote for Paige Patterson and John Piper as the "Edgiest Evangelicals." Having been influenced by both tremendously as a Christ-follower, I wholeheartedly concur. Dr. Patterson's example in biblical faithfulness and the courage to stand upon that conviction regardless of the cost is a blessing that I was graciously given by God in the early years as a believer at Southeastern Seminary. Though not always easy and comfortable to follow his example, it has always been right to do so.

I was introduced to the writings of John Piper just a year or so after having been changed by Jesus Christ by a good friend who handed me a copy of The Pleasures of God. (Thank you God for your sweet providence in leading Bill Muench to gift me with that book!) God used that book and more importantly the biblical truth contained within it to help me see the God-centeredess of God and how God being God-centered is the most joyful news to a sinner's soul. I continue to be changed more and more into the likeness of Christ through God's grace to me and to the Church at large through the anointed ministry of John Piper.

I do not stand alone as those who have been influenced greatly by these two men and I do not stand alone in giving praise to God for them. My following of them is and will always be a following of them as they follow Christ to be changed more in the image of Him.

And so, yes, I concur 110% with Matt Schmucker's assessment of Paige Patterson and John Piper as the Edgiest Evangelicals alive. Here are a few statements by Matt. Be sure to read the entire post here.

But you won't find these men with exploding graphics and sound systems wrapped around them when they walk onto a platform--at least not by request. You won't find them spending a lot of time on their clothing. You won't find either of these men shortening talks and lightening the truth to accommodate anyone.

These men are edgy like Jesus and Paul were edgy. They take the whole truth of the gospel and stick it right in your eye.

Keep your boy bands and church coffee shops. I'm going with truth presented boldly and without embarrassment. I'm going with the 60 year olds for edgiest evangelicals in America today. Give me Piper and Patterson!

Helpful Advice for Reading Your Bible

New Attitude asked Dr. Al Mohler about principles to encourage others concerning reading their Bible. You can check out the entirety of the questions and answers here, but here are two that are very insightful and rich.

How would counsel either a new Christian or a Christian newly committed to reading the Bible?

How would you counsel them to build a practice of reading God’s Word? I would say that the Word of God is a pedative--which means you grow in appetite for it. When I first took a sip of coffee I didn’t like coffee. I didn’t know much about coffee and it didn’t taste the way it smelled. It smelled great and it tasted kinda bitter. But I thought I’d keep drinking it and see if I liked it. Well, I drank more of it and now I’m a connoisseur I could tell you different blends of coffee and different brands of coffee. I’m willing to expend considerable time and resources to have the kind of coffee I want and enjoy. It’s the same with the Word of God. You start out and it feels strange. It’s a very strange world. It’s like going into a world that is connected to ours but isn’t. It doesn’t tell us what we already know, otherwise we wouldn’t need it. It’s rearranging our categories, changing the fundamentals, and bringing us into a story.

What’s one thing you’ve learned after reading the Bible for many years that you wish you’d known when you began?

I think it would be the important of understanding the big overarching story. For those of us that grew up in the church we got taught Bible stories, or we had christian parents and we sat on their lap and heard Bible stories. And you can begin to think that this is a collection of stories. Well, it is, but the bigger issues is that it’s one big story of creation and fall and redemption and consumation, of what God was doing and is doing in Christ for us. You’ve got to put the little stories in the big story. That’s the way I’d say I would’ve wanted to read the Bible differently as a 13 year old, as a 23 year old, as a 33 year old had I seen how this individual story fits into the big story.

Tougher, More Biblical Parenting or More Meds

In his book Boys Adrift, Leonard Sax says,

“Thirty years ago, if a boy cursed his parents and spit at his teacher, the neighbors might say that the boy was a disobedient brat who needed a good spanking. Today, the same behavior from a similar boy might well prompt a trip to the pediatrician or the child psychiatrist. And the doctor is likely to ‘diagnose’ the boy with Conduct Disorder (DSM-IV 312.82) or Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (DSM-IV 313.81). The main criterion for both these ‘disorders’ is disobedient and disrespectful behavior that persists despite parental efforts.’ Is there really much of a difference between a neighbor saying ‘That boy is a disobedient brat,’ and a doctor saying ‘That boy has oppositional-defiant disorder’? I think there is. If another parent whom you trust and respect suggests that your son is a disobedient brat who needs stricter discipline, you just might consider adopting a tougher parenting.”

"You can see how the assignment of responsibility differs in these two cases. If your son is a disobedient brat, then your son and you (his parents) have to take responsibility. You have to own up to the problem. You will probably have to make some changes. But if your son has a psychiatric diagnosis, that means he has a chemical imbalance in his brain. He-and you-are no more to blame for that imbalance than if your son were diagnosed with childhood leukemia, right?Psychiatrist Jennifer Harris recently pointed out that today, ‘many clinicians find it easier to tell parents their child has a brain-based disorder than to suggest parenting changes.’"

If the diagnosis is "disobedient brat" then the prescription is tougher, more biblical parenting. If the diagnosis is "Oppositional-Defiant Disorder" then the prescription is medication and more medication. Here's to the reality of the "disobedient brat" being the right diagnosis along with disobedient parents in regards to biblical parenting and the prescription being parents doing the hard work of tough, biblical parenting instead of the easy and less guilt-inducing solution of "I think my child needs an increased dosage of his meds, please."

Sunday Leftovers For Monday

We wrapped up our vision series this past Sunday. The vision we are working and praying towards as a church is to treasure and share Christ together locally and globally for the glory of God. We've looked at three foundational pillars to that vision: Connecting With God--A Glory Concentration, Grow Together--A Bible Saturation, and Impact the World--A Gospel Motivation.

We looked at the last of those three yesterday and stressed the importance from Matthew 28:18-20 of us as the church making sure our lives produce passionate followers of Jesus Christ from among all the nations of the world. We discussed all that is involved in making disciples and one point that I stressed was how and where we do this--making of disciples.

I mentioned that we have the opportunity to make disciples every day in our homes as parents with our children. I read the quote from Pastor David Horner from the recent reThink conference on Youth ministry. Pastor Horner commented, "We cannot expect our ministry to rise to a level outside the home beyond what it has inside the home." The extent that we are making disciples of all nations--in our community and around the world--is directly tied to how hard we are working to make disciples in our own homes.

I didn't have time to share another quote from Puritan pastor Richard Baxter. His comments demonstrate that the quote/idea by Pastor Horner is not a radical idea. Rather it is an old and biblical idea that has just not been tried.

"We must also have a special care for families to see that they are well-ordered and that each performs its duties. For the life of religion, and the welfare and glory of the church and state, depend much on family government and duty. If we neglect this we will undo all. How can we see to the revival of a whole congregation if all the work is cast upon the pastor alone? Of if the heads of families neglect their responsibilities, what will be the extent of a church awakening?

"If any good is begun by the pastoral ministry, it will be stopped—or at least hindered—if the family is careless, prayerless, and worldly. But if you get the heads of families to do their part, to take up the work where you have left off, and then finally to help it on, what an abundance of good might be done! So I urge you to see the importance of family cooperation in your ministry."