Turning Our Nation Around

Children die because of their father’s decisions.

Do you believe that? Lately that phrase keeps popping into my head, pushing out every other thought, until all I can do is stop whatever it is I’m doing and pray for my nation, for myself, for my wife, for my son and my daughter, and for the children that I hope they will have one day. If this seems strange to you, let me at least try to make a simple case for why I’ve been thinking about this.

I hope you won’t think I’m being melodramatic when I say that I believe America has been headed in the wrong direction for some time now. I hope you still won’t think it when I say that if a nation heads in the wrong direction for long enough, it means that at some point, there will come a day when good men will die as a consequence. If you aren’t shaking your head in disagreement yet, then humor me one moment longer. If both of those statements are true, then among the people who will die, will be my children.

Children die because of their father’s decisions.

Do you believe that? And if so, what are you doing?

The Disconnect

Subtitled: Moral Immorality, the Music and Movie Industry, Disney’s Double Standard, and the Duke Lacrosse Team and Honest Strippers

I’ve been meaning to post something along these lines for some time, but for a million insignificant reasons, I haven’t. It’s the sort of thing I think about every time I hear about the RIAA or the MPAA suing someone for illegal music or movie downloads, or when I occasionally read that Disney if firing some teen star because of the teens behavior. Most recently, it was brought to mind when I read a recap of the Duke lacrosse team case.

What always surprises me about the Duke lacrosse case is the statements I hear “Christians” make regarding how the team members were mistreated by the press, the justice system, and the perjuring stripper. I hear people defending the players and making statements that I swear, to my ears sound something like this:

It’s a sad day when men can’t hire a stripper without the fear of getting indicted for rape. I remember back in the “good ‘ol days” when strippers wanted nothing more than to do an honest Saturday evening’s work and get a good night’s sleep before going to church the next morning. It makes me sad to see the country falling apart like this. What’s next: doctor’s helping women kill their babies? I certainly hope not…

It’s sad really that people living in a society that allows men to legally hire a stripper are shocked to learn that someone who is ok with breaking God’s commandments about nudity, doesn’t have a problem with breaking his commandments about lying. These same people then follow that bit of illogic up with being shocked that the media and a district attorney drawn from that same society might not be quite so moral either.

And this sort of thinking is popping up everywhere:

The music and movie industry have spent the last 40+ years promoting immoral and illegal behavior and then they are “shocked” and “dismayed” to discover that a generation raised on the values they have sold have no problem with stealing music and movies.

Disney wants to make movies about kids who buck the system and who live their lives their own way, but they want young actresses and actors who follow Disney’s rules unquestioningly.

The church wants parents to take a greater role in their children’s lives, but it also takes every opportunity it can to separate the children from the parents and to suggest to the parents that teaching children is something best left to professionals.

Parents want their children to respect them and take what they say seriously, but parents flippantly choose to ignore Scripture and the spiritual authority of the church when it inconveniences them.

Short version: Wake up, you can’t have moral immorality… if you deny God’s word in one area, it affects all the other areas as well.

Any comments?

My brother in law, prayer, love, and grace

We spent some time this weekend in Tennessee with my wife’s family. As you may remember, last Monday my brother-in-law fell eighteen feet from a rooftop and landed on his back, breaking three vertebra, two ribs, and his sternum. As of today, the doctors have no hope that he will ever walk again. In spite of all this, everyone was in pretty good spirits. My brother-in-law and his wife both seem to realize that the reality of what has transpired hasn’t had time to sink in yet. For the past week they have been kept fairly busy with a helicopter flight, surgeries, and with doctor’s consultations, with friends and family, with phone calls to and from their insurance company, and with all the interruptions associated with a stay in a hospital. Through it all, they’ve hardly had a chance to sit and think about what has happened or to discuss what their life will be like when it returns to “normal”.

All of that will change very soon though. Today, they are taking him from the Johnson City hospital he was life-flighted to, and they are moving him to Winston-Salem for physical therapy. He’ll have two fairly intense weeks there, with visitation limited to three hours in the evening (that includes his wife) and then it will be time to go home. And I imagine that is when he will need our prayers the most.

So if you have time in the next few weeks, say a quick word of prayer for Mike and Ginger Martin. Pray that Mike will continue to grow in the Lord and that he will lead his family spiritually. Pray that Ginger will love and submit to her husbands leadership and that she will cast all her cares upon God. Pray for them as you would pray for any other couple that you know, because the truth is, the challenges that they will face haven’t changed in their nature, just in their appearances.

Analogous Grace: Why God chooses to bless certain things

In my last article on grace, I wrote about Prescriptive Grace and the way that grace is always applied specifically according to God’s desires. In this post, I want to talk about grace in a slightly different way, but first I want to clarify some things. Because this post is about why God chooses to bless certain things I don’t want to give the impression that I believe that we can control or even manipulate God, however, because God has told us that He is a God of order and because He has revealed a great deal about Himself through His Word and through the world, there are things that we can know about His behavior and that we can, through faith, respond to. Of course, God can do anything He chooses at any time and is not bound by anything other than His own nature. As C. S. Lewis writes of Aslan in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe: He’s not a tame lion.
Continue reading “Analogous Grace: Why God chooses to bless certain things”

Feature Request: A car that will make me a better husband

Here’s my dream scenario:

It’s 5:30 P.M. and I’m pulling into my apartment complex. As I near my parking space, the radio fades to silence and a pre-recorded message begins playing: You are arriving at home. Do not be deceived by the cozy nature of that word or its comfortable connotations. Do not think for a moment that because you have left work, that you have put your work behind you. You must not be such a fool. This is where your most important work is done. Because of this, you can not afford to drag yourself across the threshold and collapse into your favorite chair. Instead, steel your nerves and screw your courage to the sticking place. Throw open the door of your house and face what lies inside as a man. There is no higher calling than this. You have no greater duty.

I don’t know that I need to hear the whole speech everyday, but I certainly need to be reminded of it. I don’t know about anyone else, but it’s far too easy for me to walk through the door of my apartment and act as if my day is done. I’ve done my eight, nine, ten hours of work, I think, I’ve done my share. Meanwhile, my wife has just as many hours of work with our two children behind her and probably wishes that she could punch out too.

Clearly, I have a problem. What I need is a reminder, a punch in the arm, and occasionally, in the face. I need to remember that within the walls of my home, I’m responsible for the spiritual well-being of everyone there. I’m the high priest of my household, the pastor of my little flock, the king of a tiny domain. And don’t get me wrong, I like the titles just fine, it the stupid responsibility that comes with them that gets in the way. So I need this feature: Ford, Chevy, GMC, Saturn, Volkswagen, Honda, are you listening?

So here’s my question. If someone put a car with this feature up for sale, what would you want it to say to you when you arrived at your destination? Post your custom “welcome home” message below or on your blog. If you let me know about it, I’ll link to it here.

mourning

I have never been anything other than a man
and so I cannot know how women mourn
and whether it is the same, or different

I have seen the mother, the wife, the girl,
sitting at her bedside, her dead child in her hands
weeping on his upturned face.
There is nothing selfish there.
She is broken, and weary.
She is full of pain, and strangely, guilt.
It is something that I can barely know.

I am most familiar with the man in the room
the one who stands behind her,
who believes that because she is broken, he must be whole,
who cries, but silently
who looks down through tear filled eyes,
and loves them both.

Worshipping Youth, part II

This weekend I saw a commercial for Disneyworld vacations. It was brilliant. It began with a father and a son sitting side by side atop a giant waterslide. They look at each other, they grin competitively, and then they slide toward the pool below. But when they reach it, a transformation has taken place, and the father has become a boy as well! The son gives his father/new playmate an appraising glance, then an approving smile and they race off together. The rest of the commercial is a series of images showing the two enjoying their time playing, exploring, riding rides, and so on. When it ended, I was left with a feeling of wistfulness for my own childhood.

And that was when I realized that I was being played.

I said that the commercial was brilliant, and I meant it. It was brilliant in the same way that the first commercial ever made was brilliant. Maybe you’ve read about it:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
(Genesis 3:1-6)

Talk about knowing your target demographic! And Disney knows theirs as well. They know that most Americans believe that childhood is magical, and that being a child preferable to being an adult. And if you’re like me, your brain is yelling, “But it is magical.” Let’s be clear: it isn’t, at least, it isn’t any more magical than the rest of life. Don’t get me wrong, childhood is great, it’s fine, it’s part of the process that God designed us to go through. In short, it’s good. But don’t go any farther. When we magnify childhood, when we make into the be all and end all of greatness, we cheapen every other part of life that God has made. We begin selling the idea that God made the first part great and everything after it is punishment.

If you don’t believe me, just try imagining the commercial if it were the other way around. The father and son sit at the top of the slide, they slide down, the boy is transformed into a man, and then what? They work 9 to 5 jobs together? They pay bills… in tandem? Watch TV together? That might work for a beer commercial, but even then, it just sounds too depressing.

The problem is that we think being an adult is drudgery. And whether we realize it or not, we communicate that thought to our children. Of course, if all you think of yourself as is just a consumer of goods and services, then perhaps you are not mistaken. Of course, if that is the case, you might also want to ask yourself why it is that you believe you are a Child of God and called according to His purpose.

Am I making sense here? As Christians, we have a sworn duty to become men and women of God. And part of that is raising our children to become men and women of God as well. We cannot fully do that if we ourselves believe that our children are better off staying children. We cannot do it if we believe the age old lie that we are raising children. We must remember that we are raising adults.

What do you say?

Protecting your family

There are certain Bible verses that stay in the forefront of my thoughts. They are typically verses with strong imagery, with straightforward application, the sort of verse that you can see in action around you practically anywhere you look. I Peter 5:8 is such a verse:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour

I think about this a great deal lately, about the last five words in particular. I know people who have been devoured by the adversary, people who have been eaten and metabolized by the awful work of sin. We think of being devoured as being destroyed, but nothing eternal can be destroyed, it can only be changed, and we all know people who bear the marks of such a transformation. To some degree, we all bear such scars ourselves.

I think about these things when I look at my children, when my daughter is squeezing my hand and looking up at me with large and innocent eyes, when my son is standing in the center of our living room staring up at the television and drinking in whatever we have chosen for him to see, when my wife is at home and I am at work and she is facing the dark thoughts of a dreary afternoon. I think about these things, and I wonder what, if anything, I have done to keep this beast at bay. Some days, I know and fear the answer to that question.

But I should be clear here, we are not to fear Satan. There is only one thing that we are to fear, and that is not fear itself, but God Almighty. For Satan, we reserve our vigilance. For Satan, we reserve our seriousness and our sobriety of mind. And we know what this means. It means no more laughing at little sins, at cute wickednesses and clever blasphemies. It means being wise and alert and sleeping with one spiritual eye open. It means going through our homes and looking at everything with an air of suspicion, with an air of caution, with the thought in the back our minds that our families and our own lives may depend upon it. Because whether we like to think about it or not, there is a beast out there, and he is hunting for more than just you.

A Message for Monday: The Evangelization of the Home

I had the opportunity to speak at my church last week and I ended up bringing a message about the evangelization of the home. You can listen to it right here, or if you want a copy for yourself, you can click here to download it.

[audio:The Evangelization of the Home.mp3]

Let me know what you think.

A Sermon for Sunday: Closing the Generation Gap

If you have never heard Voddie Baucham preach, you are missing out on one of the truly great experiences of the 21st century. If you have heard him preach, but you have never heard his message, Closing the Generation Gap, then you have some work to do. Preaching in 2006 before a large group of Southern Baptists pastors and their ministry associates, Baucham delivered a timely, engaging message on why Christianity in America is dying, and what we as Christians can do about it.

It is a message that still needs to be heard.

[audio:Closing the Generation Gap.mp3]

Click on the play button above to listen to the message, or right-click here and choose “Save Target As” or “Save Link As” to download the mp3. (Note: I have contacted Mr. Baucham and have been granted permission to distribute this message.)