My dad was a tenderhearted man. If he was around when we had to discipline our daughter, he left the room. He knew she needed it, but he just couldn't stand to be there for it. I had a little of that feeling a couple of weeks ago when our son had one of those defining disciplinary moments with our three-year-old granddaughter over a piece of gum. We were in the car and our little girl had been chewing some gum, and she was starting to fall asleep. Mommy told her to spit out her gum so she wouldn't choke on it when she went to sleep. This little girl, who is amazingly well-behaved because of her parents' very fair and consistent discipline, chose to defy her mother on this one. She was not going to relinquish her gum. Daddy reinforced mommy's order from the driver's seat. The more she was told to do it, the more defiant she got. It wasn't about gum, of course; the gum had to taste totally flat by this time. It was about having her way, no matter what. Daddy threatened to ban chewing gum for a while. It didn't matter. Then he threatened to pull the car over and give her a spanking. (His spankings are kind but they're firm.) Still no backing down on the gum. Finally, Daddy had no other responsible choice but to pull over, get out of the car with our granddaughter, and enforce the law. Afterwards, he hugged her, he reassured her of his and Mommy's love, but the showdown over obeying was really intense. Nobody was having fun. And no piece of gum could be that good.
As the showdown over getting rid of that gum escalated; as the price for disobeying got higher and higher, I thought, "Is that piece of gum really worth going through all of this?" Then I thought: "How many times has God looked at me and said the same thing? 'Ron, why won't you obey Me on this? Is it really worth all the pain you're going through because you won't do what I say?'" We're all stubborn children, even when the Father we're defying is God Himself.
God's way is always the best way for us - the path of ultimate peace and joy and satisfaction and no regrets. But many of us have these showdown issues with God over something we refuse to let go of or change. Maybe there's something in your life like that. You know God isn't happy with what you're doing or with the way you've let someone or something become more important to you than He is.
So the loving process described in Hebrews 12, beginning with verse 5 kicks in. It's our word for today from the Word of God. "The Lord disciplines those He loves ... God disciplines us for our good ... No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
God loves you enough to discipline you when you're out of bounds. You may have been blaming the pain you're going through on the devil or on circumstances when it may be your Heavenly Father trying to get your attention. And the more you defy Him, the more He has to increase the pain so you will get the point. It could be that the pain you're going through is needless pain - pain which will stop at a time of your choosing when you finally give in and do it God's way. Whatever you have to stop, whatever you have to drop, whatever you have to fix, whatever you have to change, it's worth it to finally have God's full blessing along with His peace and joy again.
In a defiant little girl I suddenly saw myself, and maybe she's a picture of someone who's listening, too. Knowing what your Father has told you to do, stubbornly refusing to do it, experiencing ever more painful consequences, going through so much needless pain over something that just isn't worth it. It's time to obey and then experience again the enveloping hug of your Heavenly Father. - - Ron Hutchcraft
*Not amalgamated with 'Thought & Humor'.
I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus Christ]: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God."
That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell.
You must make your choice. Either this Man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse .... You can shut Him up for fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great hum! an teacher. He has not left that option open to us. He did not intend to.
-- From Case for Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
The Biblical Case For Chastity
A 25-year-old Christian man e-mailed a friend—a young Christian author named Lauren Winner—and asked her a question. He claimed he had endless opportunities for casual sex—including one that very evening. Why should he not take advantage of them? After all, he said, he was already "dealing with seventeen other things in my Christian walk. Shouldn't I just focus on learning to pray, and deal with the sex stuff later?"
Nice try, buster. Winner, the author of Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity, says that in our sex-saturated culture, young, single Christians find chastity much more difficult than many older Christians can imagine. A college minister told Winner that "every college pastor I've talked to about this says the same thing: Their students, even those in their leadership groups, people leading Bible studies and so forth, are sexually out of control."
Winner herself converted to Christianity at age 21, when her ideas about sexuality had already been partially formed by Hollywood and Cosmopolitan magazine—not the Church. One thing she learned firsthand as a new Christian: A few isolated Bible verses are not much help to those who have been sexually active since their teens. What she needed was an entire sexual ethic—truths that are "part of the large biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption."
The starting point, Winner writes, is that God created us with bodies and declared that they were good. But in the fall, "our sexual desires were disordered, and one task of Christian ethic is to help us rightly order them." Rightly ordered by a Christian moral vision, she says, "Bodies are tools God uses for His glory."
Winner writes that biblical writers from Moses to Paul understood what happened in the fall and articulated efforts to protect and perpetuate the ordering of things that was established in Genesis. For example, the Mosaic laws about sexual practices "do protective work, pointing to, guarding, and returning God's people to the created order, the world as God meant it to be." And in the Scriptures, the book the Song of Solomon, we find, among other things, "the perfect expression of what this sexuality, restored by law and grace, looks like."
When youth pastors talk about sex, Winner notes, they need to "begin with the picture of intended reality that is laid out in Genesis." They should invite teens to answer "a host of larger questions: Who created us, and for what ends? What is God's creational intent? and What are we made for?"
We need to help youth understand that they are God's creatures, made for His best purposes. And then, when they are alone with a boyfriend or girlfriend, they "may think very differently—even righteously—about sex, and bodies, and the context in which those bodies are to touch and be touched," Winner writes.
I hope you'll read Winner's book Real Sex. It will help you understand and help you teach children that the right question is not, "How far can I go?" but "Who created my body, and for what purpose?"
By the way, her book is not just for children. It's a good reminder for us all—for me and for you. BREAKPOINT with Charles Colson & Mark Earley
*Not amalgamated with 'Thought & Humor'.
Where The Sidewalk Bends
As I was walking in my neighborhood a few days ago, I noticed a curious thing. The sidewalk had been laid to take a short detour around a very large tree. As the tree's root system spread, it encroached upon the walkway, so the city planners simply moved the sidewalk to accommodate the tree. But now, the tree is no longer there. The massive hardwood has been cut down, leaving behind only the barest signs of a stump.and a sidewalk that bends. I wondered to myself how many years people will continue to walk on this sidewalk, following the curve around the tree that isn't there.
I've heard the story of a woman who used to cut off the ends a roast before she cooked it. Her little girl asked her why she did it, and she replied that her mother had always done it that way. Later, she too started wondering about the reason behind slicing off the ends of the roast, so she called her mother. "That's what my mother always did," she replied, "You'll have to ask her." The mystery was solved when the woman called her grandmother. As it turns out, she only had one roasting pan, and it was not long enough to fit the whole roast!
Often, we adopt practices or habits for very good reasons, but as creatures of habit, we may continue these practices long after the reasons have been forgotten. This was one of the problems that Jesus confronted in the religious people of His day. They clung to their religious traditions, but they had lost any connection with the reason for the traditions. They went through the motions of religion, but they did not fear and worship their creator.
Some of the Pharisees were accusing Jesus' disciples of not observing the ceremonial washings. Jesus had no patience for their external, works-oriented self-righteousness. He rebuked them, saying, "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men'" (Matthew 15:7-9).
These Pharisees clung to the rules they had been taught, but they had lost any sense of the reasons behind the rules. They were not concerned with the holiness of God, which is the lesson the ceremonial washings were meant to teach; they were concerned with making themselves appear outwardly righteous.
Another time, Jesus described a hypocrite as one who fasts to be seen by men, mistaking the fact that the purpose of fasting is to draw close to God in prayer. Hypocrites retain traditions, but they use them to serve their own ends rather than the ends for which they were intended. No one wants to be seen as a hypocrite, but we all need to consider whether we have severed the relationship between what we do and why we do it. Are you walking around trees that aren't there?
Make no mistake; I believe that tradition and habit are both important for a healthy walk of faith. We should seek to cultivate disciplines and habits that are honoring to God. But when we realize that we are partaking in a tradition that has no meaning for us, we need to seek to reconnect to the purpose for which it was intended. Then we will not be people who simply honor God with our lips. We will honor God with our hearts. Betsy Childs
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"Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3)."
- - - The Laws and Statutes of Harvard College in 1643
"All scholars shall live religious, godly, and blameless lives according to the rules of God's Word, diligently reading the Holy Scriptures, the fountain of light and truth; and constantly attend upon all the duties of religion, both in public and secret."
- - - Two central requirements in Yale College 1745 charter
The Roman emperor Diocletian, following an edict in 303 A.D., failed to stamp the Bible out. The French Revolution could not crush it with secular philosophy (Rousseau, one of its heroes, converted to Christianity). The Communists failed to stamp it out with atheism and political ideology. One might well ask why this book has been banned, burned, and bludgeoned with such animosity and scorn. The great Reformation hero John Calvin responds in this way: "Whenever people slander God's word, they show they feel within its power, however unwillingly or reluctantly." - Joe Boot
Any discussion of the “global warming” theory must mention its high priest, Al Gore, who, along with John Kerry, is a graduate of the Jimmy Carter School of Bitterness. Concerning Mr. Gore, it is only fair to make it clear that he did not claim to have invented the Internet. That is a bit of folk lore arising out of a CNN TV interview on March 9, 1999 when he said, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.” By dictionary definitions, there is – to a mind as keen as his -- a difference between “invent” and “create.” Webster’s Dictionary defines “invent” as “to produce a new device; originate.” “Create” is defined as “to cause to come into existence; to make; to originate.” It is easy to understand how he has been falsely accused of “inventing” the Internet. His claim was that he “created” it.
And it is equally clear that he did not invent the theory of “global warming.” Or create it. The theory had its effective beginnings in the early 1990’s with the creation of an organization named “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” (IPCC) Yearly meetings were held, and the dangers of “global warming” were documented. But from the very beginning, there were problems. The IPCC predictions of rises in temperature varied with each report. In 1988 they predicted a rise by 2030 of 3.0 C; in 1990, 1.2 C and in 1995, 0.8 C. Actual reports were equally contradictory. Since 1979 the ground warming has increased between 0.1 C – 0.15 C per decade, but the more reliable weather balloons and satellite readings have shown a cooling of 0.04 C per decade.
But the IPCC pressed ahead and in Kyoto in 1997 developed the Kyoto Protocol aimed at recruiting the nations of the world to participate in a reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. With 160 countries having ratified the Protocol, it went into effect in February, 2005, and has now been in effect for one year.
Mr. Gore, as Vice President, signed the protocol on behalf of the United States in November, 1998, but President Clinton decided not to seek ratification by the US Senate, and his successor, President Bush, has also decided not to seek Senate ratification. Both presidents wisely considered the resultant adverse effect on the nation’s economy.
There appear to be just as many supporters of the Kyoto Protocol as there are opponents. Also, there appear to be as many scientific minds favoring the Protocol as there are opposing it. One year does not appear to be an adequate time frame to determine if it is as beneficial and as necessary as its supporters claim. Thus the entire process appears to have reached a stalemate.
Up to now the theory of Global Warming has been discussed and argued about in terms of economics, science, geographical effects, and human life. Now a new element of discussion has been introduced – the religious element, and more specifically, the involvement of Evangelicals. Al Gore may have opened the door for this evelopment with his book “Earth in the Balance” (1992). The subtitle is “Ecology and the Human Spirit.” And it is in that aspect of the book that he delves into some religious connotations. For example, he states, “The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith [i.e. Christians], who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief.” He proceeds to commend virtually all religions as honoring the earth, including the American Indians, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and the Baha’i as offering a sound theological basis for his concept of eco-theology. He even goes so far as to assert that the worship of the earth goddess preceded the Old Testamant presentation of one God, or monotheism.
It is through this door which Mr. Gore conveniently left ajar, that a few “Evangelicals” have walked in and have issued the “Evangelical Climate Initiative.” The “Initiative” says, in part, “This is God’s world, and any damage that we do to God’s world is an offense against God Himself.” Then the statement gets right into the issue, using these words, “The consequences of Global Warming will hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected first are the poorest regions of the world.” One could well pause and reflect that it is not even yet definite that there is, or will be, “global warming,” but these good people (and they do seem to be good people) have already determined which areas of the world will be first affected.
Even as Mr. Gore’s “theology” is subject to question, so that which is being demonstrated in this “Initiative” is a specimen of what is often called “proof text theology,” whereby its proponents affirm some theory or position which appeals to them, and then hunt through the Bible’s 31,174 verses to find one, or more, which support their belief. This is not to say that it is wrong for this group of “Evangelicals” to express concern, but before linking the Christian gospel with unproven contemporary political issues, regardless of how serious they may appear, we should be sure we have considered all the facts. Not all scientists and climatologists are agreed that the threat of global warming as espoused by Mr. Gore and others, is even a danger, or if it is caused by humans.
Fortunately, most who call themselves Evangelicals have not climbed aboard this “doomsday bandwagon,” as it has been labeled, and sound, reasoned minds are wisely expressing caution before joining in Mr. Gore’s crusade. Conservative columnist Cal Thomas addresses the issue well in his column appearing in Town Hall Opinion Alert, “What is it with evangelical Christians that so many of them need a cause beyond the Commission they’ve been given? It now appears that at least some cooler heads have prevailed over global warming. While some superstars of evangelicalism … have signed on to the global warming doctrine, many others have not. A better objective would be to follow another statement made not by a committee but by a single individual who claims ownership of His church and requires obedience of all who would follow Him, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations.’” (Matt. 28:19) Mr. Thomas also points out that Jesus directed His followers to obey everything He had commanded them, and we are reminded that none of those teachings involves global warming or the environment.
True, we should care for and not abuse this world in which we live, but directing our efforts toward solving a problem which may or may not exist is hardly the best utilization of the gifts and talents which God has given us.
Quote of the week: Jesus said unto them: “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father has put in his own power, but ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me … unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
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