It’s time to vote! IF you have not already voted, please take a few minutes to pray and read this post, a partial repost from the 2008 election.
In the midst of all this nonsense as this election cycle comes to a close, what should we as believers do?
1. Realize that God is firmly in control of the election.
Romans 13:1 says very clearly that no one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules now without that power from God (NCV). This means that it is God alone who decides who will become President of these United States, and he will use our votes to make it happen. No matter who wins this election, he is the winner only because God has allowed it to be so. This should humble us who are believers and cause us to think seriously about the people God has allowed to attain public office. It should cause us to seriously pray about our vote and how God would have us use that vote to bring about his purposes.
This is not to say that if it becomes clear that God is going to allow a blasphemer such as Obama (I couldn’t get more obvious about what I think there, could I?) to assume office, that we should cast our vote for that person. What that tells me is we should vote for the candidate who most reflects God’s righteousness and justice, and if that candidate does not win, we should praise God that he has given us the perfect opportunity to proclaim his Gospel in a land that may no longer hunger and thirst for righteousness. In other words, we should become voices crying in the wilderness.
Look at the evil kings of Israel or even the foreign kings that oppressed and enslaved Israel, or even better, the Roman emperors under whom Christ and his followers were persecuted and killed. Even more clearly, Communist China! All of these were allowed to ascend to power by God alone, and those who loved righteousness and justice were to actively work to bring about those qualities in their countries. But notice how that worked – such righteousness and justice was not preached with success, as a rule, until such despotic blasphemers were allowed to rule! When all was well and good, the people ignored God’s command for holy living. Then an evil king came and solidified their unrighteousness. It was not until an unbeliever conquered the nation that the people hearkened to God’s gospel and repented. It may well be that America needs the same thing.
2. Realize that our government is working for God.
Romans 13:6 makes it clear that the government is “God’s public servants” (HCSB) and have given their time to this work. This means we should submit to those who are in public office. Submit to Obama and Biden. Submit to Romney and Ryan. Submit to your state and local senators and representatives. Don’t believe me? See Romans 13:1 again – “Everyone must submit to the governing authorities” (HCSB). Romans 13:7 tells us we should “show respect and honor to them all” (NCV).
3. Pray for our government.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 is very, very clear about this – I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him. Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth.
Why pray for our elected officials? Romans 13:4 says that “government is God’s servant to you for good” (HCSB). Awesome. They are there to do good for us! And one thing that can be said about both candidates this election is that they are trying hard to present an agenda that they are convinced will benefit Americans. No wonder we should pray for them – we need to ask God to keep them on that path, and to show them a more excellent way!
You can’t get clearer than that, can you? Pray for Romney and Ryan. Pray for Obama and Biden. Pray for your state and local senators and representatives. The upside to doing this is huge – we will be able to live quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God! And if we are able to live this way, we will do the most we can to spread the Gospel to as many people as possible!
This past Sunday my pastor, Tim Bender preached on “Christians and Government.” In his message, he gave us Six Ways to Direct Your Vote.
1. Vote Biblical principles over Party.
Do you agree with everything the party promotes? Does the party follow biblical principles? Don’t be fooled by a platform that looks and sounds good, but directly goes against the Bible!
2. Vote Biblical principles over Pork.
Do you want to waste federal money just to help your area? Do you want to do the most good for the most people or are you just out for your local economy? Don’t be fooled by promises to help just your area!
3. Vote Biblical principles over Pocketbook.
Are you out to fatten your bank account? Or are you out to see that people who actually need help get the help they need? Remember, Scripture says money is a root of all kinds of evil. Don’t be fooled by money!
4. Vote Biblical Principles Over Person.
Are you voting for a relative, a co-worker, a friend? You have no special interest in that person that would be served by voting for them? You may know that person much better than the voters! What if this person is a chronic liar? Would you still vote for him/her simply because of your relationship? Don’t be fooled by your relationship to a person!
5. Vote Biblical Principles Over Popularity.
Are you voting for someone just because they are your idol, they’re good-looking, they’re cool, they’re awesome? Don’t be fooled by how popular a candidate is!
6. Vote Biblical Principles Over Political Speech.
Does the candidate’s personal life and political record match up? Do they really believe what they are saying? Are they “walking the talk?” Or are they just “singin’ and dancin’;” that is, saying what they need in order to get your vote? Don’t be fooled by what a person says; check their record!
When You Vote Today
Having said all that, when you vote today, I only ask that you do one thing before you enter the booth and pull the lever. Ask yourself if the people you are planning to vote for give God the most glory. If not, please, please, PLEASE re-think your vote and vote for someone else! Also, please do not waste your vote by voting for a third party candidate who has no chance of winning. That shows at worst a detachment from the reality of the situation, and at best a lack of common sense. How different could this nation have been if all those third-party votes actually went to one of the two candidates who actually had a chance to win!
I will not waste my vote on a third-party candidate, no matter how tempting it is to do so. I will not waste my vote by not voting. I will honor God by backing a candidate who has a direct chance to win, and of those who do, I will vote for the one who I am convinced by Scripture and conscience is the most God-honoring choice among them. Therefore, I am convinced for personal, common-sense, and Scriptural reasons that the most God-honoring choice this election is Mitt Romney. If he wins, to God be the glory. If he does not, to God be the glory. The Gospel will have a greater platform to be proclaimed no matter who wins, and in the end that is all that really matters!
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (KJV)
I was asked a very good question this week. What does it mean to humble yourself before God? This is a critical question for those of us who are Christians, so I decided to devote a blogpost to this topic. Let’s jump right in.
What is humility?
C.J. Mahaney states that humility, as the Bible defines it, is honestly assessing ourselves in light of God’s holiness and our sinfulness. The word “humble” is used 73 times in the Bible (in the English Standard Version), and nearly every single occurrence of the word is in the context of acknowledging one’s sinfulness before a holy God. An example that sums up this definition is found in 2 Kings 22:18-20:
But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.'” And they brought back word to the king. (Emphasis mine)
Notice that to humble oneself is to be penitent before God, especially after hearing His word. To be penitent is to be regretful or remorseful of one’s sin, to repent of sin, and to seek God’s forgiveness for sin. It recognizes that one is hopeless apart from God’s grace towards us. It throws oneself in desperate trust on His mercy.
The New Covenant expands on humility
But that’s not all. This is very much an Old Testament definition so far. In those 73 instances of the word humble we see some remarkable fleshing out of the word once we start seeing New Testament examples. While it is certainly evident in the Old Testament, in the New Testament we see a much greater emphasis on the source of the Old Testament commands: pride. Jesus defined pride in its relationship to humility in this way: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
So we see that pride is exalting oneself, to think of one self more highly than others, including God. Directly addressing this, Paul wrote to the Roman church, “I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think….” (Romans 12:3) We are not to have unreasonable pride in ourselves. Why should we be proud of ourselves at all? After all, we are wretched sinners who deserve only Hell! “There are none who are righteous, no, not one; there are none who understand, no one who seeks after God!” (Romans 3:10-11)
God Opposes Pride
Why is pride so bad? Because it directly challenges God. Remember, humility is acknowledging our sinfulness and need for God’s grace. Instead of desperately trusting God’s grace to remedy our desperately sinful condition, pride stands up and says There’s nothing wrong with me! I’m just fine the way I am! I don’t need God’s mercy! I don’t need Jesus! I can handle it! I’ll take care of my problems! I can get to heaven on my own strength!
What a crock of rancid yak butter.
Scripture repeatedly warns us that those who refuse to humble themselves before God suffer dire consequences. For example, God through Moses and Aaron asked Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” (Exodus 10:3) We all know what happened there – plagues, horrible plagues, culminating with the death of every firstborn Egyptian son. All through Scripture are examples of those who refused to acknowledge their sinfulness before God and paid the price. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).
Scripture tells us that God actively opposes the proud, while actively assisting the humble. “The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.” (Psalm 147:6) “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” (Proverbs 3:34) “For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.” (Psalm 149:4) Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives to force us to stop getting a big head. Our bubble needs bursting! Sometimes all we need to end a time of trial, struggle and suffering is to stop, step back, take a deep breath, and say, “Ok, Lord. I get it. Help me to meditate on my sinful attitudes and actions, to beg your forgiveness, and trust that Jesus has secured your forgiveness forever on the cross.”
How To Cultivate Humility
With all this, how can we learn to be humble? What can we do to cultivate an attitude of humility in ourselves? C.J. Mahaney, again, has some excellent suggestions for us to meditate on.
- Reflect on the wonder of the cross of Christ.
AS EACH DAY BEGINS:
- Begin your day by acknowledging your dependence upon God and your need for God.
- Begin your day expressing gratefulness to God.
- Practice spiritual disciplines — prayer, study of God’s Word, worship. Do this consistently each day and at the day’s outset, if possible.
- Seize your commute time to memorize and meditate on Scripture.
- Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.
AS EACH DAY ENDS:
- At the end of the day, transfer the glory to God.
- Before going to sleep, receive this gift of sleep from God and acknowledge His purpose for sleep.
FOR SPECIAL FOCUS:
- Study the attributes of God.
- Study the doctrines of grace.
- Study the doctrine of sin.
- Play golf as much as possible. (Stephen’s note: or some activity that gives your mind release)
- Laugh often, and laugh often at yourself.
THROUGHOUT YOUR DAYS AND WEEKS:
- Identify evidences of grace in others.
- Encourage and serve others each and every day.
- Invite and pursue correction.
- Respond humbly to trials.
I have not attempted to treat this subject exhaustively, but rather to define what it means to be humble, why it’s important, and to give us some suggestions for cultivating humility. I’m indebted to C.J. Mahaney’s short book Humility: True Greatness in putting this post together.
Resources on Humility
C.J. Mahaney – Humility: True Greatness
Wayne A. Mack – Humility: The Forgotten Virtue
William P. Farley – Gospel-Powered Humility
Stuart Scott – From Pride to Humility: A Biblical Perspective
Donald Whitney – Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life
John Bunyan – The Fear of God
This is a therapeutic post. I’m sorta preaching at myself right now. Bear with me.
So, I’ve been pushed into a corner today. I was exhausted from a long day of classes without much sleep. Allowed myself to get angry, I did. Wanted to load both chambers and blast away. And I didn’t particularly care what happened to the target. What could possibly have riled me up so much? Politics? No. Religion? No. Could it have been…Kentucky fans??? Nope.
What bothered me so much today was a busybody.
What Is A Busybody?
A busybody is someone who, quite simply, sticks their nose in your business. This sort of person feels as if they need to know everything going on around them, including everyone else’s business. Usually someone with a lot of idle time, the busybody attempts to fill that time by prying into the lives of those around them.
A busybody could be a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, a family member, or some other person who would otherwise be uninterested. If the busybody is a friend or acquaintance, they are likely a gossip looking for goodies to share with others. If a family member, they may be gossips as well, or simply trying to be the one “in control” of the family. These family members are usually someone outside of your immediate family – an aunt, uncle, brother, sister, parent, or parent-in-law. If someone else, such as a neighbor or otherwise uninterested party, likely this busybody is just someone looking to make trouble by exerting false control over the lives of others.
Busybodies are tattletales. That’s why most gossips are also busybodies. More often busybodies are the investigative reporters for the gossips, uncovering the latest dirt on you for the rumor mill. They have to tell someone about whatever it is they saw about you that they did not like. Usually their information is not complete; they did not see the entire situation or conversation they are nosing into, they may not know whatever inside knowledge may be present (inside jokes, slang, behaviors, etc.). And the busybody, quite frankly, doesn’t care. They are quite ready to act upon their incomplete knowledge by exerting the false control they perceive themselves to possess.
You could have a bad day at work, or your kids could be having a bad day and throw a fit in public, or it could even be something as mundane and silly as lingering a couple of days before mowing the yard; these are gold mines for busybodies. They are like peeping toms who sneak around and snoop in your windows.
Busybodies often make you want to punch them squarely in the nose. Often you may find yourself saying things like:
“I don’t see how it’s any of your concern…”
“Don’t you have enough on your own plate?”
Often in my secular employment I would tell those of my employees who would “busybody” their teammates something along these lines: “Why don’t you worry about what you’re supposed to be doing, and let me worry about what they’re supposed to be doing?”
What we lack, obviously, is a God-honoring way to deal with the busybodies in our lives.
What Does Scripture Say?
Scripture says that busybodies are idle people who are neglecting their work and go around looking for negative things in the people around them, often to share with others as gossip or to share with an authority figure to make themselves look better (2 Thess. 3:11-12; 1 Tim. 5:13). Busybodies, whether unknowingly or by character, show themselves to be evil-hearted people (Romans 1:28-31). Quite frankly, to be a busybody is to be in sin.
How do we deal with those who are in sin?
First, we must pray for the busybody above all else. Looking first to prayer directly combats the desire in us to respond in a less than loving way. When your first impulse is to tell them off, make some sort of appropriately snarky comment, or complain to your boss; take a full two minutes to pray. Pray for the busybody, yourself, and the situation. Prayer forces you to calm down. It forces you to breathe. It lowers your blood pressure. It helps you to clear your thoughts. Most importantly, prayer will force you to think Jesus’ thoughts about the busybody. And when you behave like Jesus, you can respond with grace and truth. 1 Peter 2:23 especially speaks to the kind of behavior Jesus exhibited – refusing to repay evil with evil. Praying will force you to do that!
After praying, you may actually find that you have no need to give the busybody any further time and energy. This is absolutely fantastic – all you needed to do was pray!
Second, process what the busybody is saying to you or to others. Have you given the busybody a legitimate reason to butt in? For example, perhaps in the past you had been careless, overlooked something, were ignorant of something, ignored something, or were simply unaware of something. The busybody may simply be harping on a past mistake in hopes you will repeat it or get angry with them, thus giving them the chance to exert their false control. Or perhaps you have continued the observed behavior without realizing it, which gave the busybody ample opportunity to glean the “dirt” they need in order to survive. In this case, thank God for the busybody drawing the item to your attention – the busybody was God’s means of pushing you towards greater sanctification. But what if, after processing, you can think of no legitimate reason for the busybody’s unwanted attentions?
Third, lovingly confront the busybody. You should do this even with an unbeliever, no matter how much you may think the unbelieving busybody needs to be smacked upside the head with a 2 x 4! Follow the principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 scrupulously. First go to the busybody privately and explain to them you do not appreciate what they are doing. Explain to them (yes, use Scripture!) that what they are doing is sin and affects everyone around them. Explain to them how it makes the home, workplace, extended family, etc. an unhealthy place for everyone involved as long as this behavior continues. Ask them point blank to stop.
If the busybody continues to get up in your business, find a couple of trusted neighbors, friends, family, or co-workers and together confront the busybody. If even then the behavior continues, you have a couple of options.
If the busybody is a co-worker, you will then need to discuss the problem with your immediate supervisor. Often a word from management can stop the behavior in its tracks. If your boss does nothing or refuses to address the problem, follow the appropriate steps your work has put into place for dealing with workplace harassment.
If the busybody is a family member, you may need to speak with the person’s parents or spouse about the behavior. Tell them you need your help resolving an issue with the person. A good parent will correct the behavior, and a good spouse will lead their husband or wife to be better people. If they are unmarried, or out of their parents’ home, go to the family member that holds the most influence over the busybody and ask them for help.
If the busybody is a believer, does he/she attend your church? If so, ask your pastor or pertinent pastoral staff member for help. They should help you follow through on the remainder of Matthew 18.
Doesn’t attend your church? Be careful here. It would be best to still go to your pastoral staff for help, as often pastors in a community know each other and are working together in some ways for the good of the community. Initially, do not tell your pastor who the busybody is out of respect for a fellow believer and the other body of Christ involved. If your pastor and the other pastor decide a meeting is needed, then you are free to identify the busybody.
What if the busybody is not a believer? If you have followed the steps outlined above, follow up with the Gospel. A busybody’s greatest need is not to stop their gossipy meddling, but to be transformed by Christ that their minds may be renewed by the Holy Spirit. Remember also that in dealing with one who professes to be a believer, failure to repent and change is a sign that the person is not saved. Our duty then is no longer edifying the body of Christ, but sharing the Gospel and making disciples. Only regeneration and sanctification will change a busybody!
What if there is NO change?
If, after all this, the busybody refuses to change their ways, then I have a hard question to ask of you. Are you willing to suffer at the hands of the busybody that God may sanctify you (Romans 5:3-5, 8:16-26; Phil. 1:29; Heb. 2:10, 10:32-36)? Are you willing to “share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:3)?”
Finally, heed the wise words of 1 Peter 5:10 – “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” Patiently endure the busybody, that you might receive a greater benefit from God himself.
I said this was a “therapeutic” post, that I was effectively preaching to self here. It really was therapeutic. It reminded me of the high calling to which I have been called, and my Scriptural need to be above thinking like the world. Instead, I need to be transformed in my mind (Romans 12:2) that I may present Christ clearly to the busybody through my words and actions.
I’m now far calmer than I was when I began writing this post. I’m more clearheaded. And I’m actually at the point where I simply don’t care anymore. That, my friends, is exactly what God wants from me – to care more about HIS nosiness than that of the WORLD!
I am convinced we need men with a vision for what can be called “A Great Commission Resurgence.”
With these words, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, fired the first shot of what I believe to be the next and greatest of all “Baptist Battles.” Indeed, after the Conservative Resurgence which rescued the Southern Baptist Convention from liberalism, this battle may be the most important of all. Having won what has been called by some “the Battle for the Bible,” what do we do with that victory? Akin makes no bones about it: we must dedicate ourselves to the task the Great Commission.
What is a “Great Commission Resurgence?”
In his address Answering the Call to A Great Commission Resurgence, delivered at the Building Bridges conference in November 2007, Akin lays the foundational principles for a Great Commission Resurgence, stating that “the time has come for us to focus on the great task the Lord Jesus left us as He ascended back into heaven.” For too long we have neglected this task. It is time for this task to “resurge” in our churches.
For something to surge it must have a strong, wavelike, forward movement. The very first “surge” of the Great Commission began, quite clearly, in Acts chapter 2 when the disciples, in obedience to Jesus’ command, waited in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. Receiving this empowerment, they immediately went out and proclaimed the Gospel. The result was that very day 3000 people were saved. Since Apostolic times this surge has noticeably lessened. However, church history shows clearly that at certain points there has been a resurgence, a rising again or revival, of the Great Commission. In our history we can clearly point to the Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakening as examples of such a resurgence of the Gospel. As Baptists we can point to William Carey and the founding of the Southern Baptist Convention (which was formed on missions as its primary purpose) as prime examples of Baptist participation in Gospel resurgences. I am hard-pressed to name examples prior to the Conservative Resurgence beginning in 1979; perhaps those more knowledgeable than I can provide these examples.
In Deaf ministry, the founding of the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf in 1948, also centered around missions, is a prime example of Deaf participation in these resurgences. In fact, the mission statement of the SBCD is “to reach Deaf persons for Jesus Christ by serving as a cooperative network for Southern Baptist churches and agencies to fulfill the Great Commission by providing training, advocacy, worship, fellowship, missions awareness and mission involvement.” Other Deaf Christian conferences/conventions have a similar mission statement. We can see, therefore, the foundation for Deaf involvement in a Great Commission Resurgence has already been laid.
What Is The Gospel?
Before we can ask what such a resurgence would look like, we must first remind ourselves of the main idea of such a resurgence. We must first seek to answer the question, “what is the Gospel?”
A basic description of the Gospel appears in 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 –
Now, brothers and sisters, I want you to remember the Good News I brought to you. You received this Good News and continue strong in it. And you are being saved by it if you continue believing what I told you. If you do not, then you believed for nothing.
I passed on to you what I received, of which this was most important: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say; that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day as the Scriptures say; and that he was seen by Peter and then by the twelve apostles. After that, Jesus was seen by more than five hundred of the believers at the same time. Most of them are still living today, but some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all he was seen by me—as by a person not born at the normal time. (NCV)
To this we would add the commands of the Gospel; namely the command to repent of our sins (Acts 17:20) and to receive Christ and live for him and by him from now on (Colossians 2:6-7). As Baptists we would also add the command to be baptized once these things have been done (Acts 2:38) as a sign of what has taken place and of one’s commitment to live for and by Christ.
So we understand that the Gospel is the message of Christ’s saving work and the command to repent of our sins, believe in Christ, be baptized as a sign of our repentance and faith, and to commit one’s life to living in Christ.
We must believe that the message of Christ is more important than anything else, even our very lives. It must be more important than our jobs, friends, homes, families. It must be the one thing that makes our lives worth living. We must believe the commands of the Gospel must be lived out in every aspect of our lives. We must live our lives continually repenting of sins we find in ourselves, trusting in Christ to overcome those sins we find, and committing ourselves to Christlikeness in those areas of our lives from then on.
Before a Great Commission Resurgence can take place in Deaf ministry, we must first recover this clear, solid, and biblical understanding of the Gospel in our Deaf churches.
The Gospel and Deaf Ministry
I have become increasingly convinced the Gospel has been lost, not only in the hearing churches, but in Deaf churches as well. That is going to upset many Deaf readers of this blog. If the Gospel is truly our foundation, my only response must be this: I don’t care if it upsets you. Instead, I am going to praise God you are upset!
You see, in many Deaf churches we do not preach Jesus anymore. Instead we preach self-help and how you can feel better about your life problems. For example, I’ve heard (and have preached myself) way too many sermons on gossip and negativity in the Deaf community from Deaf preachers. I’m sick of it. My pastor must be as well, because one Sunday last fall he asked our congregation which was more important to us: the Gospel or gossip. What a challenge! Instead of focusing on the unimportant and pitiful little problems we have in this life, our churches need to get back to the main thing: Jesus and his Gospel.
In many Deaf churches we don’t preach the Bible anymore. Instead we find a “Christian” book that is easy to understand and relates well with Deaf people and preach through that. We don’t stop to ask if the book is biblical, or if the Bible already teaches the principles in the book. Or we preach on topics, pulling different verses from around the Bible that may not really have anything to do with each other or the topic we choose. We don’t stop to wonder if a book of the Bible or a chapter of a Bible book would be deeper and more clear than 10 verses from 10 different places in the Bible. As a result, many Deaf people are being led astray by people such as Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, William Young (author of The Shack) and others. Even worse, many Deaf people are ignorant of what the Bible teaches because they have not been taught to go through their Bible verse by verse! And it is mainly the fault of Deaf pastors who will not open up their Bibles and teach from the Bible alone on Sundays. If we pastors do not make what the Bible has to say number one in our preaching, it will be no surprise if our people do not read their Bibles. We must get back to the main way we learn about Jesus and his Gospel: the Bible alone.
Deaf ministry needs a Great Commission Resurgence. When less than 2% of all Deaf people have even heard the Gospel, something is horribly wrong. But unless our Deaf churches make the Gospel the center of their lives, that percent will get smaller and smaller, until 0% of all Deaf people have heard the Gospel.
If the idea that your church has lost the Gospel really bothers you, I praise God for that! Getting mad sometimes is the only way to get a problem fixed. I invite you to pay careful attention to this series and to join the discussion. Leave comments on the posts. Talk with your pastor friends about the Gospel. Preach the Gospel to your people. Above all, make the Gospel and its commands the center of your ministry!
Join me next time as I look at how the Gospel impacts us individually and as a church.
And then tell all your friends and family to watch it, too.
And then ask yourself why we are not making a bigger stink about this than we are about combat deaths or capital punishment. Especially given the social significance of it.
We don’t even make as big a stink about lost people as we do about combat deaths or capital punishment, for crying out loud. Watch this, be humbled, repent, and ask others to do the same.
While thinking through some issues raised by Voddie Baucham’s What He Must Be If He Wants to Marry My Daughter, I was hit with one of those moments where the pieces fit, the light comes on, and one has no choice but to say “ah-ha.” Here is my realization: God’s sovereignty works in the same way parenting does.
What do I mean by that?
See, there’s the age-old question of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility — often posed, and I think wrongly, as predestination vs. free will. As I thought through the implications of raising my children “in the nurture and instruction of the Lord,” I was thinking about this passage from Baucham’s book:
Several years ago when Jasmine (Baucham’s daughter) was much younger, a family friend went through a difficult divorce. The breakup did not come as a surprise. It was obvious that theirs was not a God-honoring, biblically functioning marriage, and the handwriting had been on the wall for quite some time.
As things began to work themselves out and the dust began to settle, we talked with our children about the pain and high cost of divorce. As we took advantage of this teachable moment, Jasmine said something that I’ll never forget. She looked at me, shook her head, and said, “Daddy, I’m glad I’ve got you to pick my husband.” She was dead serious. She had just witnessed the consequences that often accompany a decision to marry an unworthy man, and although she wasn’t old enough to understand it all, she did understand that her father was there to protect her.
I have no intention of picking Jasmine’s husband for her. We do not advocate arranged marriages. Nor was that my daughter’s understanding of the process. She was merely acknowledging what she had been taught all her life — the fact that her father intends to play an active role in the process of finding and evaluating potential suitors.
As I read, lessons learned from Baucham’s previous book, Family Driven Faith, came back to me. I realized that what Baucham wanted me to understand was that everything I do as a parent influences the decisions my children will make when they are older. Whether my actions are intentional or unintentional, my children will learn how to approach life by my example. And as such I must make sure that I am a godly father obeying God’s command to “manage my household well.”
Unbidden, Proverbs 16:9 came to mind: “The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Ah-ha!
My children’s decisions are their own, but they are unavoidably shaped by my intentions for them as their father. Will I have raised my children to make strong, biblically faithful decisions that will bless them and glorify God? Or will I have raised them to follow after the traditions and philosophies of this world? Worse still, what have I unintentionally taught my children that might instill unwanted values in them? What a serious, serious responsibility and burden I must bear!
Then realization dawned on me: there is nothing unintentional about what God does. Every work of His hand has a purpose. Does not calamity come, unless the Lord has done it? Does not blessing come unless the Lord has given it? Does He not have mercy on whomever He wills, and harden whomever He wills?
My role as a father to my children is similar to God’s role as Creator to His creatures. His every intention influences our every decision, for good or for ill. And there are no unintentional moves with God. Every decision we make is under His control. He has planned for each decision, and determined which influences he will bring into our lives to affect them long before we were born. His influences are designed to bring about a certain end result. Just as I now determine which influences I want affecting my children’s decisions to bring about a desired result in their lives. Yet in both cases, our decisions are really our own. The heart of my children plan their way, but I have directed their steps!
The major difference between myself as a parent and God as our Father is that nothing can thwart the influences He has planned. As He is perfect, all-knowing and all-powerful; He knows exactly what must happen in each person’s life to bring about His desired result, and He does makes it happen. We merely acknowledge what we have been taught all our lives to the point of each decision. Our decisions are truly “free” yet God has “determined” from eternity how those decisions will come about. We really do what we want; yet all proceeds as God has decreed from the foundations of the world.
Realizing there is no conflict between God’s sovereignty and my responsibility, I shudder at the knowledge that God has made the role of parent such a mirror of who He is. I am unworthy to bear this mantle He has placed on me. So are we all, yet He calls each of us to be husbands, wives, and parents after His own heart. Just as God raises us up in the way He has determined we shall go, and we do not depart from it; so should we strive to raise our children.
This just in from Mr. Frank Turk:
The problem is not that there’s too much conservatism: it’s that there’s a lot of unfounded, flabby conservatism running around with plastic fishes attached to it rather than a robust, young, and dangerous conservatism riding around on the fat, noisy Harley which is the Gospel.
And that ladies and gentlemen, is what Christianity needs. Good night and God bless.