When it comes to Christian evangelism, it seems that most people’s default strategy is “living out my faith before others.” I have heard It countless times, okay, I have even said it myself. “Well, I will just do my best to live for Christ and hopefully they will take notice. Maybe they will even ask questions.” Yet, is this a scriptural approach? Does it yield high returns? Is this what God expects?
Let me begin by saying that it is expected that we will live a life of righteousness before others. “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, NIV). Notice, I did not say a life of piousness. Christians are not to walk around looking down their nose at others. We are not “heavenly sandpaper” called to rub the rough edges off of people. If we are in a relationship with Christ, it is assumed that it will be apparent in our lives before others.
There is surely an evangelistic quality in the way we serve God through the way we think, behave, and relate to others. There certainly may be times where the interaction others have with us may be their greatest, or only, interaction with Christianity and the gospel. Our lives should reflect Christ intensely, exhibiting a magnetic quality that brings people to desire God through our love, care, and willingness to help. With that being said, however, the “I am just going to let my light shine” is often spiritual laziness or insecurity.
Now don’t get me wrong. Evangelism, I feel, is deeply connected to relationship building. I am not for Gatling gunning people with scripture. I also think that simply handing out tracks at the local Wal-Mart is largely ineffective as well. Many people are more willing to hear us out if it is done within the context of relationships. Yet, we do not always get the luxury of developing meaningful relationships with everyone we come in contact with, and we are incredibly more likely to build relationships with people that are more like us. Even when we build relationships with people, how long do we wait before we start to discuss our faith? Sometimes we wait years! Surely, this is not effective evangelism!
So why is “I am just going to live out my faith before others” the preferred strategy by the predominance of Christians? Because it is safe. There is less risk and we still feel, or we tell ourselves anyway, that we are witnessing to others!
When we look at the apostles, certainly we see them living out their faith. Yet, if that were all they did, how far and how fast would Christianity have spread? We see Paul being very aggressive in sharing what he knew to be true. He engaged people. He looked for inroads to the Christian message in conversations. He wasn’t stuffy, condescending, or weird about sharing his faith. He was open, honest, and bold about his relationship with the risen savior.
As Christians, we have to talk about our faith! Why? Because of what hangs in the balance. If I had the cure for cancer, would my strategy be to throw on a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “I have the cure” and wait for people to approach me about it? No, I would want to make sure that I was proactive, vocal, and hope that I could bring that cure to as many people as possible!
If, we as Christians really believe that the hope for a broken world is Christ, why are we not vocal about it? I think there are a multitude of factors that lead many Christians to take the “Let my light shine before others” approach.
For some, as I said before, it is simply sloppy and lazy Christianity. It is the path of least resistance. We don’t have to do anything extra. If people want to know, they will ask. Other times, it is fear that we will offend others, and at times, we probably will. Sometimes the offense will be our own fault, other times it will be the fact that some people find the truth offensive. We are not perfect, and we will make mistakes. All we can do with mistakes is apologize for being insensitive and learn from our mistakes. Our conversation should always be seasoned with grace (Col. 4:6) and we should speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
Many Christians also fear that they will be asked a question for which they do not have an answer. My response is, so? It happens. There is nothing wrong with saying, “That is a great question. I am not sure how to respond to that. Let me think some about it, read further, and I will get back to you.” This is far preferred over making up a response or giving a sloppy answer. It is okay to say “I don’t know”. We cannot know everything! This is not an excuse, however, to be intellectually lazy! Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (I Pet 3:15) This is the call to apologetics. We should spend time preparing for questions, but this in no way implies that we can answer every question hurled at us on the spot.
Last, we as Christians often fear the way that other people will perceive us. None of us want to be the bible thumping nut-job that people feel the need to escape from. We worry that people might reject us if we are vocal about our faith. There is much to say about this. Regardless of whether people reject us or not, we are still called to vocally share our faith with others. Fear is not a legitimate excuse to avoid doing what God commands, nor is it worth withholding the cure the world needs. Still, I honestly think that we would be surprised by the people who would love to chat about God, meaning, and the other big questions that we often have. Last, even if some people think we are “weird” what does it matter? Are we trying to win the favor of people or God? (Gal 1:10)
When it comes to sharing our faith, simply living Godly lives before people is good, but it does not cut the mustard. Nothing can come from conversations that never happen. As the late Ziz Ziglar said, “Aim at nothing and you will hit it every time.” Maybe it is time to aim higher than “I will let my light shine” and actually engage people in conversation.
You are a Christian because somebody cared. Now it’s your turn. – Warren Wiersbe
Walk good. Live Wise. Be blessed.
Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games is a film I have been excited to see all year. My level of anticipation to see the film was high, though not quite as elevated as my excitement to continue my journey within Middle Earth and see the continuation of the film adaptation of Tolkien’s The Hobbit. While I still have a few weeks of waiting to see if my own imagining of The Hobbit even faintly resembles that of director, Peter Jackson, I did have the enjoyment of seeing Catching Fire this past weekend.
I finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy in early 2012. Like most people who read the books, I could not put them down. I then saw the first film after having freshly read the books. The first installment was good, but I nitpicked many of the missing details and story changes, mostly because the books were so fresh on my mind.
With Catching Fire, things were different. The film appeared to follow the novels more closely, and some of the details were a bit hazier to me because it has been over a year since I read the books. Thus, I was able to concentrate more on the film, take in the story, and process what I was watching with greater clarity. I had always known the books were special due to the unique plot set within a dystopian society, but as I watched this second film I realized that it is, whether Suzanne Collins intended for it to be or not, a documentary on where we are in western civilization, especially within the United States.
It is interesting as we stare at the people that occupy the capital in the Hunger Games, with their strange dress, lack of emotional intelligence, and opulent lifestyles. The scene that takes place at a lavish banquet particularly struck me. The guests are enjoying the many varieties of delicacies available at the party. There is such an abundance of various foods to try that one simply cannot try them all. So the solution is to swallow some frothy pink liquid in a champagne glass that will make you vomit what you have eaten so you can be free to keep shoveling food down for the mere taste. Sure, it is a slight over-exaggeration, but this screamed America to me. We seem to know no limits. We consume. We waste. We indulge. We discard. We don’t want any restrictions placed on our lives. We don’t want any external moral restraints to govern our lives. The way of western society is to live a cavalier life of pleasure, sensuality, and indulgence.
What if we could step outside our culture and take an objective look at ourselves. What would we see? Would we take pride in our ways, or would we look just as ridiculous as the painted people in the capital of Suzanne Collins imaginary world?
I believe in an objective moral standard that is external of us as individuals. I believe that God’s very nature defines what is acceptable behavior for us as people. When we step past those bounds and live a life of pleasure, sensuality, and indulgence we will eventually pay for it. Because these divine moral prescriptions are for our own benefit.
In the film, we would also do well to notice how effective “big government” is. In America, so many seem to welcome the government’s long and intrusive arm into their lives, and big government is happy to oblige and thus becomes bigger government. We see how well that worked out in the Hunger games. We cannot place our individual responsibilities into the hands of a debauched government. Human nature, mine included, is too corrupt to give away that much power. It is why the founding of America had checks and balances to keep the government from becoming an all powerful machine, but we have gradually allowed government to remove these limitations. Could we be gradually sliding into dystopia? Could we be? We are! As British historian, Lord Acton, put it, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Government is not our messiah. Could the Hunger Games be a subtle reminder that we need to take responsibility for ourselves and also help those around us? If we are living as good Samaritans and giving to those in need when we have extra we would not need special government funding for every little thing.
Last, and perhaps the most glaring disturbance as we peek into the world created by Collins, is the copious amount of violence and the lack of concern by those living in the capital. Now, don’t get me wrong. Do I think we could stoop so low as a culture to be entertained by watching children kill one another? No, I do not. Yet, we have as a culture a flagrant disregard for life.
We are entertained by death. I know you may be thinking that this is the pot calling the kettle black. I watched the Hunger Games and was entertained by violence, so who am I to condemn violence in entertainment. Yet, we should consider the fact that some violence has a redeeming quality. Some stories, movies, video games, etc. portray violence that paints evil with a black brush in order for us to see its depravity. Then there are some art forms that celebrate and glamorize death and destruction. The video game Grand Theft Auto comes to mind.
Our disregard for the sanctity of life is also visible in our public policy. We have murdered fifty-six million babies since 1973. Why? Because we want to pursue our pleasure, sensuality, and indulgence devoid of any restrictions. Sounds an awful lot like the inhabitants of the capital in the Hunger Games, doesn’t it? We can all see the hand writing on the wall as well. Eventually, the geriatric population will lose its privileged status as life. Why? Because old people will die anyway. Why should we use our precious resources saving a life that will not exist for much longer? That is where we are headed. Will it be the same with young people that have terminal diseases? Chances are good. Life is no longer sacred.
So how have we gotten to the point as a society where life is no longer sacred? Naturalism. Now, don’t get me wrong. If a person accepts the tenets of naturalism that does imply that they no longer view life as innately valuable. I know many atheists and/or naturalists that live incredibly moral lifestyles and care about many of the same issues I care about. The problem with naturalism and becoming a society that no longer places itself under external, objective morality is that we have nothing to anchor morality to other than opinion. So, under the framework of naturalism right and wrong are matters of preference and opinion. Some will see violence and killing as a great evil and others, though hopefully a minority, will see it through a positive lens. If nature is red in tooth and claw and there is no God to tell us how to live, how can we fault a person for living out the logical implications? We can’t, and that is why life is no longer scared in western culture.
Have you seen Catching Fire yet? Did you enjoy it? Did you see any parallels with our society? I would be curious to hear your thoughts!
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
There are some events if your life that you are able to remember so vividly due to the pleasant emotions that surround the memories. When I was around the age of twenty-two, I received the box set of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. I had never been exposed to any of Lewis’ work. As I opened the first book in the series, The Magician’s Nephew, the Narnia magic grabbed my by the collar and pulled me deep into the book. I spent several days reading the entire series. As I remember that week of my life, I am flooded with pleasant memories. I had never read fiction that made me love Christ more. I was reminded of how majestic, holy, good, and terrifying God is. Many people view fiction as something people read to be merely entertained, but good fiction is so much more. We learn through the art of story. After all, didn’t Jesus often use story to give theology a face? Lewis was a master in carving out fiction that brings us focus. We are reminded that the majestic lion, Aslan, who is the Christ figure in Narnia isn’t safe. “But He’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
It wasn’t long after my journey through the wardrobe, that I met some demons, Screwtape and Wormwood. In his book, The Screwtape Letters, I was reminded how strident Satan is in the destruction of man. How we are often manipulated through suggestion by unseen forces bent on our demise, or at least to bring us pain, misery, and unhappiness. We are reminded of the subtlety of the enemy. “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
A few years later I hailed a bus through heaven and hell in The Great Divorce. Everyone can take “the bus” to the destination of his or her choice. Some choose heaven, others hell, but all choose. As Lewis reminds us, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.”
Next, it was in the widely read Mere Christianity that I consumed from Lewis. A masterpiece in apologetics that should be required reading for every believer. Here he gives us a powerful and rational defense for Christian belief, which at one point he rejected. Here we see the logical mind of a former atheist who assents to the truth, and then defends that truth passionately. He reminds us in Mere Christianity that he continued to have questions and struggles at times, which is a part if being intellectually honest and pursuing truth. He writes, “Now that I am a Christian I do have moods in which the whole thing looks improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.”
We should remember that Lewis was happy in his atheism, as I would later find out when I read Surprised by Joy. Here is his account of when he bent his knee and will before God and accepted Christ. “You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.” Lewis reached the point where he could not deny what was becoming increasingly apparent to both his intellect and his emotion, that God was real, came and dwelt among us, died for the sins of mankind, and had power over the grave.
Then it was earlier this year that I read Till We Have Faces. It is here that Lewis contrasts sacred and profane love. We are reminded that real love, correct love, does not consume, it gives.
I have now on my shelf, Lewis’ Space Trilogy. I have yet to read it. I am hesitant to take it off the shelf, but at the same time, I am incredibly ready to delve into more fiction conjured up by the mind of this tweedy, old Oxford don. I wait to read it only because I dread the day when I have no new books to read from this beloved author.
So why am I recounting with you the pleasant memories I have had with the works of Lewis? Simply because he passed from this world fifty years ago today. He is where he belongs. In his real country. He has journeyed “further up” and “further in.” We are blessed by his works. A life devoted to Christ is one to be celebrated.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
So, what is your favorite Lewis book? How has he impacted you?
Everyone has beliefs. Everyone thinks (some more than others) about where they came from, what their purpose is, how they should handle morality, and whether or not there is a God. We all have a worldview, that is, we all wear a set of lenses that color the way we view the world.
We live in a pluralistic society where many ideas, thoughts, and beliefs collide. There is a tremendous amount of white noise to wade through in order to articulate and solidify one’s belief system. The fact that there are millions of “experts” on the Internet willing to delve out free advice, of which they have no credentials to do so, does not help. Faulty, poor, and incorrect information is as available as oxygen. Yet, despite the quagmire of internet quacks, truth is readily available for those who seek it.
Today, many ask the question, “Well, what does it matter what I believe anyway?” There are different reasons people pose this question. Probably the most common reason is relativism. You believe what you want, and let me believe what I want. What does it matter to you anyway? Others, are just intellectually lazy. They might assert, “There are so many ideas out there. How can I possibly wade through it all? Who am I to say that one view is right and others are wrong?” This still smacks of relativism slightly, but the person does not want to take the time to seek, ask questions, and better understand what reality looks like. It could also be that they fear finding out a truth that might challenge their lifestyle or a belief they have just settled on. Another reason a person might ask “What does it matter what I believe” is pragmatism. Many view the significance of a worldview or pattern of thinking by its practical benefit. Does it make me feel good? Is it helpful? Does it promote the welfare of those around me? Beliefs then tend to change as needs change. Thus, it doesn’t matter what I believe, as long as it is helpful to me.
So, what does it really matters what we believe? Well, quite a lot actually. People tend to treat their beliefs as though they create fact or construct reality. When it should be the other way around. We should build our beliefs on what best corresponds to truth. I might believe that I will one day play in the NFL, but the facts certainly do not correspond to reality. Reality lets me know that I have no chance of ever playing pro football. Thus, that which we believe that does not correspond with what is real will one day come knocking. If don’t believe in policemen that will not be a viable excuse when I see red and blue lights in my rearview mirror (As a fun exercise why don’t you try that excuse the next time you are pulled over? “I don’t believe in the police so I don’t have to answer to you!”). No, whether we like it or not, reality will eventually make certain demands on us regardless of what we believe. God is no exception. If we do not believe in God, and He is real, which I think He is based off my own examination of the facts, then one day we will have to give an account for our lack of belief.
Another reason our beliefs matter is that they have consequences. Our worldview always translates into life. What we think becomes how we act. This is the reason many people live dramatically different lifestyles. It all begins in our thinking. Yet, correct beliefs lead to positive living. When we watch people crash and burn it is usually due to the fact that they had an incorrect view of the nature of reality, other times it is due to the fact that they chose to disregard the consequences they knew reality would bring.
How do our beliefs affect our lives? A couple of examples are in order. If I subscribe to the belief of Karma, then I will be less likely to help others because they must be paying off some negative Karmic debt. If I believe in the teachings of Christ and apply them, I will have sympathy on those suffering or in need. If I believe there is no God or ultimate purpose in life, I might be more likely to ignore the plights of others and focus only on my needs. A difference in believe leads to a difference in behavior.
What we believe always has consequences! This is no exception for the church. I sometimes am astounded by the current climate of Christian culture that places theology on the back burner and focuses on immediate practical living or “self help Christianity”. Certainly, there are practical teachings in the Bible. As believers, we need to focus on the practical verses and how they are applied to daily life, but we cannot do so at the expense of the theological. What we believe about God impacts everything about our Christian lives. When we have incorrect beliefs about God these ideas too have consequences. An incorrect handling of theology and doctrine can be deadly and impacts the lives of others. How we view God, hell, salvation, predestination, etc. drives the way we live, pray, evangelize, and serve.
Our beliefs shape our values, and our values shape our actions. – Karl Graustein
Walk good. Love Wise. Be Blessed.
This past weekend my son so generously shared his stomach virus with me. This was no run of the mill stomach virus. It was brutal. So, I did what I usually do when I am sick. I rented a sizable stack of movies, did some reading, and ate crackers to assuage the nausea. One of the movie highlights was World War Z. I am not typically one to jump on the Zombie bandwagon, but the realism of the movie had some appeal to me.
It certainly was not your typical Zombie film. There were not copious amounts of blood, and it had an engaging plot. I won’t spoil anything if you haven’t seen the film, but the plot in a nutshell is that some source causes an isolated group of people to become “undead” and this rapidly spreads though being bitten. The turn from being a thriving person to the upright dead takes about ten seconds. Needless to say, majority of the world turns into zombies in a short amount of time. Things unravel quickly.
While the movie certainly seems far-fetched, there is another pandemic that has spread around the world with devastating consequences. In fact, it leaves a wake of “un-dead” in its path. I am speaking of porn.
Recently, Martin Daubney, ex-editor of the smut magazine Loaded, wrote an article about his upcoming documentary called Porn On the Brain. In the documentary he discusses how readily accessible pornography is to children and the effects of porn on kids.
In the article he writes about asking a group of teenagers, “On a scale of one to ten, how likely would you say it is that boys and girls your age are watching porn online? The reply was a chorus of tens, nines and one eight.” His small-scale survey coincides with current statistics. We know that 90% of kids are exposed to porn online between the ages of 8-16. Research shows that 80% of 15-17 year olds are exposed to hardcore pornography multiple times. The average age of first exposure to pornography is around the age of 10 or 11, and this will continue to creep downward as the pandemic spreads.
Wait a minute; you are just being an alarmist. Kids that view porn come from broken homes or have been abused. That doesn’t happen in good, little Christian homes. Wake up parents. It is happening in every kind of home around the glove. It doesn’t discriminate. Daubney writes, “When I asked the children if there were parental controls on the internet at home, they all said no, their parents trusted them. They all admitted their parents had no idea what they were watching, and would be shocked if they did know.”
Parents, the time for naiveté is well past. Pornography may have been more difficult to attain when you were young, now it is difficult to avoid. We have the tendency to minimize the statistics. The fact of the matter is there is a 90% chance your child will come into exposure with porn. Would you send your kid out somewhere if you knew there was a 90% chance they would be harmed? Of course not. That would be insane. Yet, I see so many parents are taking a gamble when it comes to porn. Do we want to trust our kids? Certainly! Does that mean we give them unbridled access to outlets where porn is readily available? The obvious answer is a resounding no. You must talk to your kids about porn and go to incredible lengths to put some barriers between them and the world of pornography.
Again, maybe you think, lighten up. Boys will be boys. What is the big deal? Why get so worked up? Because the consequences are devastating. Porn is to emotional, psychological, and relational health as a zombie apocalypse is to world health. I cannot count the number of grown men that have sat in my office and wept uncontrollably over the effects of porn in their lives.
Daubney states, “I feel as if an entire generation’s sexuality has been hijacked by grotesque online porn. To find out what porn is doing to young men, and the girls they have relationships with, we spoke to them via online forums and discovered that there were many young lives seriously blighted by an excessive, unhealthy relationship with pornography that can begin when they are as young as 12.” It is a known fact that pornography functions as an addictive substance. Does everyone that views porn become an addict? Certainly no. Yet many do. Again, the gamble is not worth it. Daubney captures this point well when he states, “If porn does have the insidious power to be addictive, then letting our children consume it freely via the internet is like leaving heroin lying around the house, or handing out vodka at the school gates.”
Pornography is shaping the way a new generation of males view women, sex, and intimacy. It creates a sexuality in men that divorces sex from emotion. Healthy sexuality is meant to be deeply emotional. It was designed to be one of the most emotionally charged connections a man and woman can have, yet pornography creates “undead” sexual machines. Why? Because one is behaviorally conditioned repeatedly to have a sexual encounter with an image. The brain continually ingests sexual imagery, pleasure, and sexual release. Neurons (these are the cells in your brain) that fire together wire together. When sex is practiced correctly, sexual stimuli and positive emotions become melded together in the brain. We don’t see that with kids brought up on a steady diet of pornography. Does this affect their marriages? Does it ever! They often lack the ability to be emotionally intimate with their spouse and this leads to a host of difficulties.
Repeated exposure to porn in the lives of young men (and just because I am primarily writing about boys don’t forget that 1 out of 3 viewers of porn are females) gives them an extremely distorted picture of what real sexuality is. They often expect sex to be what they see acted out in porn and women to look like what they view in porn. They create an appetite for what is not real, for what will never be real. This often leads to desire difficulties because they cannot find their wife sexually desirable. Porn also leads boys to depersonalize women. The female sex is not seen as a person. They become objects designed solely to titillate the rampant sexual desires of men.
There is so much more to say about this topic. As parents, we need to educate ourselves. We need to talk to our kids about things that might not be so comfortable to us. We need to shed the naive notion that our kids would never look at porn or be tempted to keep looking. We need to add as many checks and balances in the lives of our children as possible. We need to promote a healthy understanding of sexuality.
We may never face a zombie apocalypse, but we can stave the porn pandemic from creating more emotionally undead men.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Recently, Douglas Groothuis shared some advice that he gave a young man about to begin college. I thought it was tremendous, practical, simple, and yet profound wisdom. I hope my son, who is currently almost three, will heed this wisdom as he grows into a young man. So Hayden, when you read this twelve or fifteen years in the future, my heart’s desire is for you to act on this wisdom.
I will post Dr. Groothuis’s advice in bold and add some of my thoughts.
1. Study the Bible for the rest of your life.
Son, what is found within the pages of scripture is life. Choose it. Study it. Swallow it. Digest it. It will return a yield like you cannot imagine. Don’t read it simply to acquire knowledge. Do what it says (James 1:22).
2. Attend a Bible believing, teaching church.
Churches are like people. None of them are perfect. Find one that teaches truth and is living out what scripture teaches. Get involved in what God is doing. You need the support, encouragement, and accountability that you will find in church. You also need to be faithful to sing praises unto God and hear His word spoken. Find a church that doesn’t dumb down the gospel. Look for a church that thinks and engages culture.
3. Read Christian classics.
Don’t be deceived in thinking that “old books” offer no wisdom. On the contrary, they are pearls of wisdom. We stand on the shoulders of those before us. Be sure to check out Chesterton, Pascal, and Augustine to name a few.
4. Learn basic worldviews and why Christianity is rationally superior and true in all its affirmations.
This is a call to live an apologetic lifestyle. Know what you believe. Know what others believe. Why is Christianity more compelling than alternative worldviews? I have studied it for myself and continue to ask the hard questions. I have wrestled with doubt. You must do the same.
5. Beware of worldliness.
To avoid worldliness you have to be diligent, focused, and not chase everything that glitters.
6. Always be thinking of how to advance the mission and kingdom of God.
Regardless of your vocation, there is work to be done in God’s kingdom. Regardless, God’s will is going to be accomplished and someone will do His work. You get to decide whether you want the privilege of being involved.
7. Don’t waste your time and life. See Psalm 90
Life goes by in a blink. Make your time matter. How do you do that? See number 6.
8. Listen to other people, culture, God, yourself.
Many people have good things to say. You have good ideas. God always has good things to say and His ideas are never wrong.
9. Pick your friends carefully and be a true friend. See I Corinthians 13.
Good friends are hard to find. I can count on one hand the life-long friends that I have that have been closer than a brother. Distance and time does not diminish friendship. True friends forgive and are honest with one another. They have each other’s best interest at heart.
10. Remain sexually celibate until marriage and chaste within marriage.
Want a great sex life son? Then don’t have sex until you get married. I know this may not seem true, but trust me. This is where my wisdom knows better than your naiveté. Don’t ruin an amazing gift.
11. Marry someone not terribly unlike you.
This will diminish the potential conflicts in your marriage.
12. Marry only a Christian.
This is the most important quality in your potential wife. There will be times where your mutual faith is the only thing that can get you through difficult times.
13. Give as much as you can, make as much as you can, invest as much as you can.
There is nothing wrong with money. Make as much as you can without sacrificing your family. Know your priorities. Life is about relationships and not having things. Yet, I want you to work hard and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Help others. Finance God’s kingdom. Invest your money and live wisely. Live like no one else early on so you can live like no one else later in life.
14. Read Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:14 often: on youth and age before God.
Don’t put God off. Live for Him now. This is how you build a life devoid of regret.
15. Don’t lose the best things in life by oversaturation in electronic media.
Electronic media is great. It has its place. Enjoy it. Yet, make sure you do more of what you love (spend time with family, grow your natural talents, expand your interests, etc) and less of what you like (electronic media).
16. Read as much as possible on many topics.
You will be smarter, better at conversing, and find that knowledge is very empowering. Leaders are readers.
17. If you want higher education, do not put it off.
Love knowledge. Get as much school as you can. I hope I have set an example for you in this. I hope by the time you read this list and take it seriously that I will have attained three masters degrees and a Ph.D. You will never regret education.
18. Try to stay out of major debit.
Debt enslaves you. It can keep you from serving God. When your life is consumed with debt you will find you serve money more than God, even if that is not your heart’s desire. Deny your wants. Live within your means. Save for what you want.
Son, I hope you will take these thoughts into consideration. You have to be intentional about life. Enjoy it, but be aggressive. Nothing moves unless it is shoved. You won’t get a “do over.” Make your life count. God wants to use you. Live it to the fullest.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
With 78% of Americans labeling themselves as Christians one quickly wonders, “What does it mean to be a Christian?” When you look across America, you don’t see nearly 8 out of 10 people acting like Christ. That is in fact what it means to be a Christian, to act like Christ. Now I am not saying that if you are not a perfect model, then you aren’t Christian. I am also not saying that Christians don’t backslide, rebel, or make God a low priority at times. I am saying that if 78% of Americans are Christians, then we have gotten drastically away from what Christianity is and should be.
I think what we see in our culture is more likely that there is a much smaller percentage of people that are Christians and a higher percentage of people that like the idea of God. That is to say, there is a vast difference between loving God and wanting to do what He wants you to do and loving the idea of God. The latter is self-serving and me focused while the former is self-denying and God focused.
Why would anyone love the idea of God? Well, because God provides a sense of purpose and instills hope. He is someone we can turn to when times become difficult. He is a genie that can be summoned by rubbing the magical lamp when we are down on our luck. God certainly offers a myriad certain emotional and psychological benefits.
But loving the idea of God does nothing to change who we are. That is, one can love the idea of God and remain totally the same. Live how you want, look out for you, and find comfort in the idea of God. Is that where much of America is? You tell me.
Do the following characteristics seem to apply to the populous as a whole? Would you say that many are lovers of themselves? That is, they take the place of priority in their lives? Is money the main focus in society? Are many boastful and proud? Is abuse prevalent? Do child respect parents? Is America ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, and lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God? These attributes are a paraphrase of 2 Timothy 3:2-4. Then, Paul goes on to say in verse 5 that people will have a form of godliness, but deny its power. “I will take just enough God to make me feel good, but not enough to change who I am.”
We should examine our lives and see if there are any areas where we just “like the idea of God” instead of living for God and loving Him with all of our “heart, soul, and mind.” In relation to Apologetics this means wanting to know more about God for the sake of knowing Him better, drawing closer to Him, and removing obstacles for others as opposed to simply acquiring knowledge. It is tempting to fall into the trap of wanting to have “the answers” for the sake of having them and not putting them to their proper use!
We should also, as believers, be willing to point out the difference between liking the idea of God and actually loving God to those around us. That means untwisting the gospel when it gets twisted. It means calling out those that preach a false Gospel (though always coupled with love) and exposing the prosperity gospel as a means to serve self.
Liking the idea of God may offer certain benefits while letting one live the way they want, but everything has its price. Living for ourselves will cost us high premiums, because life isn’t simply about us.
We are His servants, not He ours. He has called us to live lives of loving service and worship, not godlike supremacy. He blesses us, but not always materially. In no way can we “write our own ticket” and expect Him to follow our script – nor should any real believer even desire such a scenario. The life of the Christian is a life spent in pursuit of God’s will – not a strategy to get Him to go along with ours. –John MacArthur
Walk good. Live Wise. Be blessed.
How is it that two people that once desired to spend the rest of their lives together can come to a point where they can’t stand to be in the same room? What is it that leads to destruction in a marriage? Is it infidelity? Is it communication problems? Is it financial issues? Could it be bitterness or resentment? What is the root cause?
Most marriage problems can be traced to a single factor, yet it often goes unnoticed. It is an insidious enemy. It is something we all struggle with. No marriage is safe from it. It can crop up at anytime throughout life and is always destructive. The root cause of most marital problems is selfishness.
It is easy to be selfish, isn’t it? It comes natural. This is what makes it so difficult. While we have to take care of ourselves and meet many of our own needs, we often focus solely on ourselves. Our priority becomes our own happiness at the expense of our spouse. Often, we might not even realize that we have made ourselves the center of our own universe.
Many times, couples try to treat the symptoms. We try and improve communication, establish proper boundaries, look for unresolved conflict, deal with sexual frustrations, and curb spending habits. Yet, we have to ask, why are these problems in the first place? Is it possible that our infatuation with ourselves is what is fueling the problems in our marriage?
When we focus only on our needs we tend to manipulate others. We do what it takes to have our needs met. Selfish people communicate in a way that coerces others into seeing things their way. They use the other persons’ needs as a weapon. They withhold to punish the other and give in order to get. They use the resources of the other person on themselves when they can. They often appear to show concern for the other, but they do so when convenient or beneficial for themselves.
When we begin to see problems arise in our marriage, we tend to point the finger in our spouses direction. Instead of blaming, maybe we should take a look in the mirror. No one person is perfect within a marriage. Each side contributes to marital dissatisfaction and problems, yet often our love affair with ourselves is a substantial factor.
What needs does our spouse have that are we ignoring? Maybe it is time we stop focusing so much on ourselves. Maybe it is time we give without the expectation of getting? Maybe its time we be honest with ourselves and with the person we love.
No one wants to admit that they are selfish, yet most of us are. Selfishness is the arsenic of married life. It is a poison that we must seek to eliminate. It is time to die to ourselves for the sake of our marriages. We are to seek the good of the other, this is where we find happiness. When meet the needs of our spouse selflessly, and they do the same, we find that marriage becomes a joy and both parties feel cared for. There are no I’s in us. Let’s love our spouse more than we love ourselves.
Selfishness is the controlling force of sinful living. It is this motive which pulsates through the natural mind, emotions and will – self-pleasing, self-serving, living for self. – Walter J. Chantry
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
When it comes to apologetics, one form that is often not employed is experiential apologetics. No doubt, those of us that know Christ have experienced God’s hand at work in our lives. He communicates to us through His word. He speaks into our conscience and at times impresses upon us a desire to act on His wishes. We also feel the conviction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Yet, at times, to those outside the faith or those skeptical of the claims of Theism, our experiences might appear subjective. Though our own experiences with God may seem highly vibrant and illuminated in our own personal lives, trying to use that as persuasive evidence to those that have serious doubts about God’s existence might not seem very satisfying. Yet, this is not to say that sharing our personal story of salvation, and how God has worked in our lives should not be employed. On the contrary, I think we should often share how God brought us to salvation. The point is, that by doing so we need not expect the vast majority of those outside the faith to suddenly drop all of their barriers to faith and give their life to Christ.
Recently, however, it occurred to me that there is a more objective form of experiential apologetics that applies to everyone, though not all will concede to it. When it comes to living life outside of God’s principles problems arise, consequences ensue, and suffering inevitably results. A universal experiential apologetic is simply this, choose to sin and choose to suffer. As a professor of mine was once fond of saying, “It is the furniture of the universe.” One can’t help but bump into this principle over and over; much like one does when stumbling to get to the restroom in the middle of the night. When people live their lives in a manner that goes contrary to the God’s design problems will inevitably arise.
Years ago, I use to enjoy building computers from scratch. Being the creator of my own machine, I knew the ins and outs of that machine. I knew what it was capable of. I knew what would cause problems for it. I knew all of the components inside, and I knew exactly what software was installed. If God created mankind, would it also not make sense that He knows us even more intimately than I knew the computers I built? He knows what we are capable of and what will result in problems. He knows what we can handle and what we can’t. He is certain that if we live in a certain way it will lead to sorrow.
In my professional life as a counselor, I see it daily. Majority of the people that come sit across from me in my office and poor out their sorrows do so because they have not been living by God’s design. Now don’t get me wrong, I have done the same myself and dealt with my own sorrow. Yet, I am continually broken by the problems we face because we choose to live our lives based on our own wisdom.
When God tells us to forgive it is because bitterness destroys our own happiness. When God says to handle sexuality in a certain way it is because He knows that a failure to do so leaves gaping wounds and destroys relationships. When He says to serve and give, He knows that happiness is not found in focusing exclusively on ourselves. When He says not to lie it is because it leads to relational instability. When He says that marriage is a lifelong commitment between a man and woman it is because He knows that divorce damages kids and fragments the lives of adults. When He tells us not to get drunk it is because He is aware of the problems that often arise when we aren’t in our right minds. We could go on and on.
I think the fact that when we live God’s way we fulfill our function and find long-term happiness devoid of many avoidable problems is evidence of God’s existence. If He created people, then it follows that He knows what is best for them and what will harm them. We see this played out in the lives of people daily. Choose to sin, choose to suffer. It is unavoidable.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Did you know that there are thousands of Christian parents abusing their poor kids? Odds are, you probably didn’t. It is truly horrific. What are they doing? Beating them? Making them kneel on rice? Forcing them into hard labor? No, it is something much more sinister. They are homeschooling their kids and perhaps even teaching them to believe in creationism. Startling, isn’t it?
On August 1-3, 2013, the Texas Homeschool Coalition will be hosting its annual conference. Thousands of Christian families will attend the conference and be indoctrinated in this twisted propaganda. Yet, this year, there will be a hitch. A group of vocal atheists that hail from Dallas, known as “The Nones”, will be protesting at the conference in order to show the immoral nature of indoctrinating your kids will your values. I am sure that is something that no one else on the planet does. Who wants to instill in their children what they believe to be the truth?
One of the atheists affiliated with the group states that there must be some way of regulating homeschooling. Well, homeschooling is regulated. To legally homeschool, at least in Texas, you must follow state law. Now, granted, some homeschoolers take a really poor approach to education. Yet, there are some public and private schools that are also less than ideal. There are many homeschoolers, however, that get a remarkable education. I am willing to bet that what is most bothersome to the atheistic group is that the curriculum is geared at promoting a Christian worldview, yet this will happen in the home regardless of the education. The beliefs of parents are passed on to children. This goes for atheists, theists, pantheists, agnostics, etc.
“But wait. If home schooled kids are taught creationism or intelligent design they won’t get a competing secular perspective.” Well, I can’t speak for all home schoolers, but I can speak for myself. I was home schooled as a child. The curriculum I used was very theologically conservative. Yet, over the years I was exposed to a great diversity of worldviews. I was taught to think critically, for myself. I challenged and questioned much of what I was taught as a child. Some of my beliefs about God and the formation of the universe are different than what I was taught as a kid. I am willing to bet this is the case for many that are home schooled.
If the concern is a fair and balanced approach to origins, then why is evolution the only possible option for public schools? Why are kids not presented with other ideas? Can it not include evolution, theistic evolution, and intelligent design? Why don’t we teach all children that according to a naturalistic worldview, the universe pulled itself up by it’s own bootstraps and arose from nothing? I don’t want my kids to be sheltered and graduate to feel that I held something back from them. I want them to understand the many competing ideas. I can assure my atheists friends that my children will be well versed in the many competing ideas about origins, but they will also get a healthy dose of what I believe. That is just how it works.
Parents who want to spend their own money, give their own time, and instill their own worldview into the education of their own children have every right to do so. Christians have that right and I support the atheist to do the same thing. It’s called freedom.
One of the members from the atheistic group goes on to make the statement, “It’s immoral to me to teach your child that the earth is 6,000 years old.” How is this immoral? Might it be incorrect? Certainly! I think it is very reasonable to believe the earth is older, but immoral? The theist might say that it is immoral to teach your child that there is no God or that morality is relative. Again, it might be wrong, but immoral is certainly a stretch.
She then goes on to say, “You’re an ape and you’re an animal. And to deny that is ridiculous. You’re still one anyways!” Let’s think about this. You’re an animal (according to naturalism), and it is immoral to teach your kids to believe in something like creationism. This is a classic case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Animals are not moral creatures. Sure, they exhibit altruistic behavior. Dolphins have been known to save people drowning, but this is simply a case of man benefiting from behavior that is advantageous in the animal kingdom. Animals often exhibit “you scratch my back and I will scratch yours” type of behaviors. We also see other problematic behaviors in the animal kingdom like: rape, brutality, killing over territory, and plundering. Are these behaviors immoral? Do we have prisons for monkeys, lions, and bison? Of course not, that would be absurd. Animals will act like animals. So if we are animals, and to deny that is ridiculous, then why should anything be considered immoral? You can’t have it both ways. Under naturalism, morality is a social construct that is relative. So what is the big deal? I’ll teach my kids what I want and you teach yours what you want. When we are all dead and the universe dies of heat death who will really care what we taught our kids (according to naturalism)?
To the atheists that will be protesting at the Texas Home School Coalition conference I wholly endorse your right to practice your freedom of speech. I also endorse the Christians families present to educate their kids in the way they see fit. To all of the home schooling families at the convention let’s teach our children to think critically, inform them, and help them stand on truth.
Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.