Fresh Friday Quote: J. Oswald Sanders

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Each Friday I will share a quote I appreciate. It might be long or short. It might be funny or thought provoking.

People who are skeptical of prayer’s validity and power are usually those who do not practice it seriously or fail to obey when God reveals His will. We cannot learn about praying except by praying. No philosophy has ever taught a soul to pray. The intellectual problems associated with prayer are met in the joy of answered prayer and closer fellowship to God.

- J. Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership

The Glorious Pursuit Of Humility

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Our culture constantly tells us to build our self-esteem and think highly of ourselves.

Yet the Bible urges us to do the opposite. To pursue humility. It’s actually a glorious pursuit. And we have plenty of reasons to be humble. Here are a few:

We can’t control anything. We like to think we are in control. We make plans, write out our lists, book our flights, mark our calendars. Yet we can’t control a single thing.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We don’t know what the next hour will bring. Or the next 5 minutes for that matter. One little artery in our brain could burst. We could get a phone call with news that will alter our lives permanently. I don’t live in fear of the unknown, but it is humbling to contemplate our lack of control over our lives.

We are only here for a tiny blip of time. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” This is humbling. We are nothing great. In the blink of an eye we’ll be gone.  We can’t keep our own hearts beating or maintain our breathing. We can’t keep ourselves alive. We can exercise and eat well, and that has some value, but it won’t add a single hour to our lives. God has determined the number of our days.

We are limited in our self-knowledge. “Know thyself” said a philosopher. We can know a lot about ourselves, yet there is much we don’t. We can’t fully know our own hearts and motives. We can’t fully know our own weaknesses and sins or see them as others can. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” So often my first reaction to correction is to think the other person is wrong and that I’m right – right in my own eyes. That’s why we need brothers and sisters to help us, as it says in Psalm 141:5: “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” It is a kindness when a brother or sister points out a sin or weakness. In our pride we are tempted to “refuse it.” But a humble person receives correction, because he knows he is limited in self-knowledge.

Pride has terrible consequences; humility brings blessing. Proverbs 18:12 says, “Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.” I’d rather have honor than destruction. So I must guard against pride, which is always lurking in my heart. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (JA 4.6). I don’t enjoy it when people oppose me, but definitely don’t want God opposing me. Really good reason to be humble. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (PR 11.2). Destruction, the opposition of God, disgrace – pride has serious consequences. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (LK 14:11).

Humility will keep us from sin. A humble person knows he has fallen in the past in many ways and is capable of any sin. A humble person knows that if God doesn’t deliver him from temptation and evil, he is helpless to stand against it. A humble person doesn’t think that he is strong enough to expose himself to sin and not be affected, so he flees temptation. A humble person knows that God is working in him, yet he isn’t perfected yet.

These are but a few of many reasons to pursue humility. May we all seek to be lowly in spirit, like the most humble man who ever walked the earth, our Savior.

Ask Celebrity Pastor: How Do I Energize My Dead Worship Service?

Tyler Hawk is the Lead Visionary Imagineer at Saddlevation Summit Church. He is the best selling author of The 42 Indispensable, Undeniable, 360 Degree, Risky Laws Of Leadership and Crazy Wild: Doing Ministry On The Bleeding Edge. He has 4.5 million followers on Twitter and regularly speaks at conferences such as Catalyst, fUEl, and ReLiveinate. Tyler has kindly agreed to answer your questions about leadership.

Dear Tyler,

I’m a worship leader at a smallish church in Kansas. Our worship sets are pretty boring. We sing a few praise choruses, mix in a hymn or two for good measure, and then close with the doxology. It’s the same thing every time, and it drives me nuts. There’s no energy, no passion. I want to take things up a notch. To kick things into higher gear. How do I take my worship service from boring to brilliant?

Sincerely,

Bored and frustrated

Dear Bored,

Several years ago I was in South America on a mission trip, and I was teaching the locals how to make Frappucinos out of coconut milk, banana leaves, and ant larvae. Write this down: one of the key principles of any mission trip is to teach the locals to be self-sufficient. While in the jungle, I contracted a wicked case of malaria. As I lay in bed, shivering with jungle fever and listening to “Vertical Horizon” on repeat, I remembered a phrase I had coined when I was younger: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Those words sustained me through my journey back to health. My personal manservant “John Boy” also sustained me, but he gets paid to do that.

You, my friend, also have a case of malaria. Not real malaria, with the fevers and the vomiting and the strange dreams about Shaquille O’Neal. No, you have worship malaria. The main symptom? Boredom. The cure? Get the weakness out of the “body”, which in this case happens to be your church. How can you do this? Several options.

First is what I call the “sucker punch” technique. Do you see how I put that phrase in bold letters? That’s what leaders do. The sucker punch technique is when you do something that catches people totally off guard, which then causes them to worship with passion. Several years ago I was preaching at Rick Warren’s church and the entire congregation was dead. Now that I think about it, I wonder if Rick may have put Ambien in the communion wine to throw me off my game. Rick is rascally like that. Remind me to tell you the story of when he and I got caught in a street fight with Russian assassins. Never mind. Anyway, I knew that I needed to do something that would shock the audience into attentiveness. So I pulled the classic heart attack in the pulpit gag, which was invented by the late D.L Moody and perfected by JFK during his presidential run. Let me tell you, that got their attention.

If you’re going to use the sucker punch technique, consider using any of the following items:

– Fake blood.

– Real blood.

– A life-sized replica of Will Smith.

– Rattle snakes.

– A clip from the movie “Full Metal Jacket”.

– 45 gallons of Red Bull.

A second option is death-defying stunts (again, note the bold words). You would be amazed at how worshipful people become after witnessing stunts. There’s a reason Billy Graham asked Evil Knievel to be the opening act for all his crusades. One time I was preaching at the Vatican, and several cardinals in the front row were dozing. Fortunately, I was wearing my fireproof white leisure suit, which is what I wear when I’m preaching in fancy places. I pulled out my flask, anointed myself with bourbon, and set myself aflame. Let me tell you: those cardinals weren’t sleeping after that. They were hanging on my every word.

You may want to consider trying the following stunts during worship:

– Using one of those cool harnesses to fly above the congregation as you lead them in song.

– Wearing roller skates. It does’t sound like much, but it actually creates a kind of 1950’s sock-hop drive-in diner feel, which is what a lot of people want during worship.

– Putting yourself inside a solid block of ice. This worked well for David Blaine.

– Using a crossbow to shoot an apple off the head of your drummer. My motto is, “Drummers are replaceable, awesomeness isn’t.”

I realize that these suggestions are both dramatic and risky. But I’m reminded of another phrase which I coined while racing camels in the Arabian desert: “No pain, no gain.” You won’t take your church to the next level if you’re not willing to take some risks. I trust that these suggestions have been both helpful and life-giving.

Sincerely,

Tyler Hawk

How Much Of My Money/Time/Stuff Do I Need To Give To God?

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This post was written by Ricky Alcantar. Ricky is lead pastor of Cross of Grace Church in El Paso, Texas. 

As Christians we know that we should be giving back to God. And most of us don’t argue with that, but the key question comes down to this: “How muchdo I need to give God?”

Most of the details our lives are built around questions like this:

  • “How much of my money should I give to this or that charitable cause or to my church?”
  • “How much of my time should I be giving to God?”
  • “How much of my energy and talents should I be giving God?”
  • “How much of my my DVR, my internet surfing, do I need to give God?”

I think thinking like this is just dead wrong. And if you stop and think about it for a minute, you probably think it’s dead wrong too. But why do we start thinking like this?

In America we’re all about “balance.” We want a “work/life” balance. We want to balance our role in our family, with our hobbies. And we, especially, love us some “me time” – our time to unwind and shop, or watch an uninterrupted football game, or take in a movie, or play a game with our amateur sports club. We look at our calendar, or our budget, and divide our calendar into “My time” and “Family time” and “Exercise time” and perhaps “God time.” In general we see our time as, well, our time, and try to decide how best we should use it.

To pull us out of this mindset I’d suggest asking three questions:

1) Who’s life is it? 

In Genesis we see that long before humanity appears on the scene, the scene is built around God: “In the beginning, God…” And God gives humanity life and breath to live joyfully under his rule. As their creator, rightfully their lives are his. But our first parents rebelled and said, “No these lives are ours” and sin entered the world. For millenia we have dealt with again and again with the devastating consequences of thinking, “This life is mine.” But there is hope.

The Bible refers again and again to a particular concept of “redemption” and redemption means “Deliverance by payment of a price.” We see this language throughout the book of Exodus (see 6:6) as God promises to deliver his people, to “buy them back.” God’s people were held in bondage but God came down and redeemed them at a price. We see some of this “price” in the lambs slain to cover the doors of the Israelites, but ultimately it pointed forward to something much greater.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” We were held in bondage in a domain of darkness, but God has brought us out into the light. How? Because of his beloved son in whom we have redemption. This is the good news of Jesus Christ: We sold ourselves into bondage but Christ has bought us back again.

You see this over and over in the books of the Law, for example Deut 15:15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” And we’ll see that even in the Ten Commandments in Exodus start with “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery….have no other gods…don’t steal…don’t commit adultery…” And you see this in places like 1 Corinthians 6:20 where Paul says “You were bought with a price, so glorify God with your body!”

Answering all those questions above starts by recognizing, “This life is not mine. All I have is a gift of grace. In light of redemption, all of my time is a gift. All of my money is a gift. All my talents are a gift.”

2) Why do I have this life? 

Why would God create us in the first place? Why did he redeem us?

Well, we can answer this even by looking at Exodus. The purpose given over and over for Israel being “let go” from Egypt is surprising. It’s worship. God commands Egypt to let his people go that they could offer sacrifices, that they could hold a feast, that they could worship. God is signaling “I’m going to redeem this people and bring them out in order that they might worship me again.” And this worship was not meant to simply be a series of ceremonies, or meetings, or an hour on Sundays. No, it was to encompass everything from their economy to their sex lives to their clothing and their parenting. It was a whole life orientation.

Paul gets at what “worship” means when he says in Romans 12: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” In light of their redemption from Egypt, Israel offered sacrifices. But in light of Christ’s redemption, Paul is saying that our sacrifice is not something from our garden or livestock but that weare the sacrifice.

So why have we been redeemed? To live a life of worship to God, in every area.

3) How should I live then? 

Simply put: We recognize that no part of our lives as Christians is “ours” and that all should be done as an act of worship to Lord. No more me time. No more treating “God time” like another box in our schedule. Instead it means writing REDEEMED over every hour spent, every dollar, every decision and asking, “How does God want me to use his time, his money, his resources?”

You see this over and over in the books of the Law, for example Deut 15:15 “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” And we’ll see that even in the Ten Commandments in Exodus start with “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery….have no other gods…don’t steal…don’t commit adultery…” And you see this in places like 1 Corinthians 6:20 where Paul says “You were bought with a price, so glorify God with your body!”

But this is not some begrudging, obligatory obedience and service. No, when we’ve been redeemed everything in us cries out to serve and worship our redeemer. Psalm 107:2 says “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” Everything in us should want to “say so.”

A few examples:

  • Energy – We are finite beings – we can’t be excited about everything. How much of your redeemed energy and zeal should go to the cause of your redeemer? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their energy and passion!
  • Time – How much of God’s time does he want you to give to him and how? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their time!
  • Holiness – We often section off our lives, saying, “Okay I’ll be forgiving but don’t touch my sexuality.” How much of your life has God redeemed? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their lives!
  • Money –The question is not “How much of my money do I have to give to God?” The question is “How much of God’s money does he want me to give and to what?”  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their money!
  • Family – Our families are not our families. Our families are a gift from God. The point of our families is not our families, the point of our families is worship. How can we best worship God as families? Let the redeemed of the Lord say so with their families!

So how much of your life should you give God? Just give him what he owns and has given you––everything.

photo credit: aresauburn™ via photopin cc

How To Self-Promote Without Being Gross

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“It feels gross.”

No, not the flu. Not a colonoscopy. Not field dressing a deer. Not drinking a kale smoothie.

Self promotion.

My friend, Russ, and I were talking about it recently and his observation was spot on. It does feel gross to promote one’s own work. In today’s publishing and arts world, though, it is necessary. If you want to be read you have to promote your work (or have a great team of people to do it for you).

Self-promotion is such a big deal that it has become a cottage industry all its own. People have built entire consulting businesses and product lines around building “platform.” Platform is the magic word, the silver bullet, the Holy Grail for any writer (or artist of any kind). It is what gets you noticed, get’s you published, and sells your wares. If thought about rightly platform is a tool and a resource, but it has become the primary end for many instead of the means it ought to be. When this happens self-promotion truly “feels gross.”

Here are two rules to remember when promoting your own work to avoid the platform trap and that nasty feeling.

1) Content is King.arrogant-guy

Your platform is pointless if your content is dumb. It’s really that simple. In a recent episode of The Happy Rant Podcast (episode 24, for those who care) my co-host, Ted Kluck said “Start trying to be good at what you’re actually trying to do . . . If you’re going to put all your eggs in one basket put them in the writing basket. Read some good books, write some stuff that’s good, and see where the chips fall.” He’s right. To build a massive platform just to publicize weak content is like building a billion dollar stadium for a minor league team. Instead make an awesome product, something deeply true and engaging, and let others do much of the platform building for you.

At a deeper level your platform is innately wrong if its primary purpose itself. It is self-centered and arrogant. Instead of having any sort of vision or mission it exists simply to make itself more famous. (I think we should call these Kardashian platforms.)

Have a mission. Serve others with your work. Inspire them, teach them, enlighten them, entertain them. But for God’s sake make it about them and theirbetterment.

Ask yourself two questions about content when you are ready to promote it OR when you intend to use it to promote some other work (a la, a blog post about a forthcoming book).

1) Do you believe in it?

Do you really believe that what you wrote will benefit others in some way? Will it make them better in some way? Does it express truth in some way? Will it encourage or challenge them in some way? Or did you write it just for you, to make you look better, to get you page views, to make you a dime? (Because that’s about all you earn for writing stuff.)

If you believe it, publish it. If it is true and good publish it. If it is for you keep it. For everyone’s sake.

2) Can it stand on its own?

If you put out a blog post or article and reads like a pitch piece for your own work it can’t stand on its own. But if you write something that is a self-contained nugget of truth that ties into the theme of another work that does stand on its own. We share things we think are good, so share your work, don’t promote it. You want a reader to be able to digest that one post and walk away better for it even if they never see anything else you write.

2) Engage and Interact.

arrogancePlatforms are for people and made up of people. If it simply a broadcast tool you are using those people instead of caring about them.
On social media, one of the primary platforms, have personality. Be yourself. Share your opinions, jokes, thoughts, and observations. Even, especially, when they have nothing to do with anything you’re trying to sell. And interact with people; it’s “social” media after all. Be conversational. Your platform shouldn’t be so high it distances you from folks.

When we get too enamored with platform and “audience” (another self promotion buzzword) we start thinking of people as market share. The more clicks we get or readers we have the more we “own.” We lose sight of people’s humanity and their needs. But isn’t that why we write and create – to ease burdens and fill minds and hearts? If not, please quit. Our platform is a gift given to us by generous readers, not a purchased good we can treat how we want.

People who engage us deserve our attention, responses, and thanks. They don’t always need to be deep and long; an acknowledgement and an expression of appreciation are often enough. It is proof that you see a real person who values your work and you are grateful for them. Just like good customer service builds a business, so humble reader engagement strengthens a platform, though that shouldn’t be the aim but rather a nice byproduct of not being gross.

Discouraged By Your Failures, Flaws And Sins? God Isn’t…

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One of the themes of the book of Genesis is how “God’s providential care for his people uses their imperfections to achieve his purposes for them.” (ESV Study Bible Intro to Genesis).

Last week as I read this sentence it struck me. In God’s providence, in his care for us, he uses our imperfections to achieve his purposes for us. In other words, he uses our failures, our mistakes, our poor decisions, our immaturity – even our sins – to achieve his purposes for us. This doesn’t encourage us to sin – sin can have terrible consequences – but encourages us to believe that even when we have sinned, even when we have failed and fallen far short of God’s glory, God is greater than our sins and causes all things – even our sins and imperfections – to work together for our good. Genesis is filled with examples.

For example, Jacob deceives his father Isaac and “steals” the birthright from Esau. Yet God used Jacob’s sin to fulfill his purposes to work through Jacob and not Esau.

Joseph’s lack of wisdom and foolishly sharing his dreams with his brothers caused them to despise him. Then his brothers sinned by selling him into slavery. Yet God used Joseph’s immaturity and lack of wisdom and his brothers’ sins to get him to Egypt and eventually to become the #2 man there and provide food for multitudes in Egypt, as well as for his own brothers and their families.

Joseph grasped how God had caused his brothers’ sins to work for his good, their good and the good of many others when he said to them:

“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (GE 50:19-21)

Romans 8:28 affirms this principle of God’s providential care for his children:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

God causes ALL things to work together for good for those who love him. ALL things – all of history, all the actions of men, good and bad. Weather, technology, economies, rain, sunshine, floods, fires, promotions, losses, victories – ALL things – work together for our good. Things we do right –  our obedience, our pursuit of Jesus as disciples, our good intentions. But also things we do wrong – our mistakes as parents, our mess-ups, our failures, our poor decisions, yes even our sins. God causes them ALL to work together for our good.

How great is our God! How wonderful he is. How comforting to know that all those poor decisions you made in the past aren’t too much for God to overcome and turn to your ultimate good. Only those who believe in Jesus can have this comfort. When unbelievers say “Everything works out for the best” they have no basis to believe that. But we who believe in Jesus have a God who in his providential care for us, uses our imperfections to achieve his purposes for us.

What Sports Teaches Us About Perspective

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From my most recent article at WorldMag.com:

Ohio State third-string quarterback Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship Monday night against an underperforming Oregon Ducks team and their Heisman Trophy–winning quarterback Marcus Mariota. It was an unlikely and wonderful story. The day before in the NFL Playoffs, Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos lost to the Indianapolis Colts, with Manning struggling mightily.

Those are the basics of the stories, but you may have looked beyond those simple facts in the midst of the sensational narratives being presented on social media and in the press:

  • It wasn’t just a remarkable performance by Jones but rather the most remarkable quarterback performance we’ve ever seen. He should definitely turn pro even though he has started only three games in his college career.
  • Mariota, despite his awards, is bad enough to slip right out of the first round of the NFL Draft.
  • Manning? Well, he’s done, finished, kaput. Who cares that he’s one of the greatest players of all-time? He performed so badly that he should clearly be put out to pasture.

This is what happens when we lose perspective. We get reactionary and lose sight of history, trends, entire bodies of work, and reality in general.

. . .

We are so accustomed to this kind of response to sports we barely notice, and while it’s annoying, over-sensationalizing entertainment is not a problem in the grand scheme of things. But what about when we do the same thing in politics or in the church, when we react to the fall of a pastor into sin or lose our temper over a perceived misstep by the president? All of a sudden it’s more than annoying—it’s harmful.

A loss of perspective leads us into the most polarizing places . . .

Read the full post HERE.

photo credit: CraigInDenver via photopin cc

The Most Awkward Bible Stories To Teach To Kids

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Father Abraham, faithful David, brave Esther, preaching prophets, missionary Paul, parting waters, boasting giants, storms, battles, miracles – the Bible is loaded with amazing stories we love to teach to children. Sunday school teachers have an arsenal of lessons and characters they can offer with the graham crackers and apple juice.

The wonderful thing about the Bible is that it is very uncensored. The story of redemption is very real. But this definitely presents some difficulty when teaching the Bible to kids.

But there are a few stories that never make it on the flannel graph. For obvious reasons. Here are eight of the most awkward Bible stories to teach to children.

The Flood

The Lord told Noah to build Him an arkie, arkie. The animals came by twosies, twosies. What fun! But there’s a reason we stop at this point in the story. As soon as that door closes, it becomes a scene out of Quentin Tarantino movie. “Let’s sing a song about all the cute little bunnies and puppies and EVERYONE DYING!” What a fun ditty about a floating wooden box containing a few people and animals trying to avoid the mass destruction of all living things. It was the original apocalyptic “last man on earth” story, not a floating petting zoo. And pay no attention to all the floating corpses!

Circumcision

And the Lord told Abraham he would be blessed with offspring greater than the sand on the shore and they would bless all the people of world and to . . . do what to all the men in his household? Can’t we annihilate some pagans or kill some cows or burn some idols or something? We’ll even take care of Sodom and Gomorrah for you! Does it have to be that? Are we sure can’t go back to Ur? I imagine that was an awkward conversation between Abraham and Sarah. “Sarah, I’m going to be out of commission for a couple weeks.”

The Second Half of Genesis

Usually when teachers get to the second half of Genesis it’s basically “And Jacob was faithful man who died. Oh look! A coat of many colors! Then Joseph saved everyone and they all lived happily ever after, the end.” Teaching the second half of Genesis is like walking through your kids’ toy room in the dark after they played with Legos – you are bound to step on something painful. If you’re up for a challenge see if you can navigate the lies, the circumcision, the rape, the circumcision, the incest, the circumcision, the seduction, the circumcision, the adultery, the circumcision, and so on. Genesis should come with a PG-13 rating, possibly R.

Ehud and Eglon

If you want to win the hearts of elementary school boys this is the story to do it, complete with fat jokes, spy stuff, violence, and poop. Which is precisely why most teachers pretend it doesn’t exist. Ehud, one of Israel’s judges kills Eglon, an oppressive king “who was a very fat man” by stabbing him through his enormous belly with a short sword at which point he he lost total control of his bowels. This was literally the crap hitting the fan. Eglon was so fat that the sword completely disappeared inside his belly. (Imagine if Princess Leia had stabbed Jabba the Hutt instead of choking him.) Ehud made his escape while Eglon’s servants left the king alone thinking he was using the John. Light a match, Eglon. Light a match.

Jael and Sisera

The tale of Sisera, an invading general, and Jael, an Israelite woman, is more Game of Thrones than Sunday school. Sisera is invited into Jael’s tent to hide from pursuing Israelite forces. She gives him a place to rest and something to drink and promises to keep an eye out for anyone dangerous. And then while he’s asleep she takes a tent stake and pounds it through his head into the ground. How do you explain that one to kids? “Well kids, then Jael…she…knocked him on the head and…he didn’t wake up in the morning.” You have to wonder if, when the pursuer caught up, they made any jokes like “We’ve got him pinned down now, boys!” or “We really nailed that guy!”

The Virgin Birth

So peaceful, so perfect, such a beautiful moment with a shining star. The cattle are lowing, the shepherds bowing. Sweet Mary is holding her precious baby, the King of the universe, wrapped in swaddling cloths. Ah, Christmas!

“Dad, what’s a virgin?” “Well, honey, that means, um, well, OH LOOK COOKIES!”

Turns out Christmas provides an annual opportunity to have a conversation about the birds and the bees too.

Judas “Hangs” Himself

Acts: a safe book, a book of the mission of God to establish his church, a book of missionary journeys and miracles. Oh, and a book of bursting bodies and entrails splattering on the ground. Luke starts off his historical account with a lovely rendition of how Judas took his own life. Nothing to see here, kids. Lets move on to tongues of fire and thousands being saved.

Paul’s Sincerest Wish For the Judaizers

Apparently some people, the Judaizers, so loved the act and idea of circumcision they wanted gentile believers to get in on the fun too. How thoughtful! Let’s all get in on the fun! Paul didn’t think so. He suggested a course of action for them that was, well, it’s best to let him explain in his own words. “As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!” Anyone out there want a shot at explaining that one to a room of middle schoolers? “Kids, it’s like circumcision, only way worse. And yes, there are things worse than circumcision.”

 

A Solid Worldview Won’t Save My Kids

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If you hang out in Christian circles for more than ten minutes, you’ll inevitably hear someone talk about ‘worldview’. Christian parents, particularly those in the homeschool / private school / unschool / charter school vein, are intensely passionate about giving their children a biblical worldview which helps their children understand themselves, the world, and all of history in light of Scripture. Abraham Kuyper, the patron saint of Christian worldview, famously said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

This quote, which is recited approximately 12,000 times per year by conservative Christians, is the anthem and impulse for the worldview camp.

And I’m in no way opposed to having a biblical worldview. I think it’s crucial. Heck, I even went to “Worldview Academy”, which is kind of like a summer camp, except instead of swimming in lakes and going on hikes, we sat in a classroom and dissected the various flaws of evolutionary theory. Going to Worldview Academy officially qualifies me as the most homeschooled homeschooler.

But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not enough to give my children a biblical worldview. I’ve seen too many of my childhood friends grow up to reject the biblical worldview that was so furiously drummed into them as children. I’ve seen too many people make choices that they know are in direct contradiction to the worldview they embraced for so many years. I’ve seen too many train wrecks to think that worldview alone is enough.

Worldview is important, but it’s only one part of the equation. A biblical worldview helps a person think correctly. But we are not purely intellectual beings. We don’t operate solely based on ideas and thoughts. We are flesh and blood, with passions, desires, and longings. We feel things deeply and desire things strongly. Our intellects and desires are intricately interwoven, interacting with and informing each other.

If I’m going to be an effective, godly parent, I need to appeal to my kids affections as much as their intellects. They need to see that the Bible makes sense, but they also need to see that Jesus is supremely delightful. As James K. A. Smith says in his helpful book Desiring The Kingdom:

What if the primary work of education was the transforming of our imagination rather than the saturation of our intellect? And what if this had as much to do with our bodies as with our minds?

The goal of my parenting must be that my children would come to fully believe Psalm 16:11, which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Satan, sin, and the flesh always attack both the intellect and the affections. When Satan tempted Eve, he encouraged her to disbelieve God (intellect), and also pointed out to her how desirable the fruit was (affections). When Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread, he appealed to his identity as the Messiah (intellect) and his hunger (affections).

The reality is: the mind can only stand against the affections for so long before it gives out. If my kids are going to stand against the allure of sexual impurity, I can’t simply tell them about all the negative consequences of premarital sex. I need to also dazzle them with the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. If my kids are going to stand against materialism, I can’t simply tell them that money is the root of all evil. I need to also show them that Christ is the pearl of great price.

Family devotions can’t be just about information. They also need to be about inspiration. I want my kids to know that there is good evidence that the resurrection is a historical reality. I also want my kids to know that Jesus is real, and he lives within me, and he gives me supernatural power, and he gives me more joy than anything else.

Worldview is important, but I can’t rest with simply teaching my kids how to think. I need to also show them the surpassing joy of knowing Christ. I want my kids to understand at a visceral level that Jesus is sweet and sin is bitter. Good thinking is necessary, but good feeling is just as, if not more important.

Goodness From The Interwebs for 1/19

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A handful of links that interested, amused or informed me from around the interwebs:
  • Alex Cornell is a photographer who took a trip to Antarctica last year where he took some stunning photos, including several of a flipped iceberg. You;re used to seeing white snow and ice, but this is like an enormous sapphire. It is beautiful.
  • But really, enough about ice and snow. It needs to be summer and soon which means it’s almost my favorite time of year: Sandlot season! Here are 19 things you might not know about this film classic.
  • I started high school in 1998, so this video of just about every major pop culture event from that year is one big nostalgic trip. Man, the 90’s were fantastic.

  • Speaking of the 90’s, this dad (like middle aged, typical, flannel pajama wearing dad) puts on quite a display of dance moves from that decade. Well done, old man. Well done.