Thinking Out Loud

March 7, 2017

Unequally Yoked: Advice Not Taken

dating-tipsWhile going through boxes of old books, I came across a 1962 publication by Back to the Bible Broadcast, Dating Tips for Christian Youth. Though only 64 pages in length, the booklet has no less than five authors dealing with the following topics at the length indicated:

  • Relationships with parents, 11 pages
  • Making sure you date the right person, 17 pages
  • The myth that “everyone is doing it,” 8 pages
  • The dangers of physical intimacy, 6 pages
  • Committing to a single person to date, ie. “going steady,” 11 pages

In other words, the chapter given the greatest weight in this 55-year old title has to do with the Biblical principle of not being “unequally yoked” which was and still is generally interpreted in this case to mean that Christians should not date non-Christians.

I have not spent a lot of time reading more recent books either written for teens or for people in youth ministry, but I would like to think this is still a rather important theme. Trying “unequally yoked” at CBD did not produce any youth titles, and “dating a non-Christian” only revealed a 2002 IVP booklet. On the internet however, “should a Christian date a non Christian” revealed 12,800,000 results. The phrase “unequally yoked” brought 345,000 results, and just to be sure I checked every one of them. Or maybe not.

Still, I’d like to think that youth pastors continue to advise the tweens and teens to make lifelong connections through church, youth groups, Christian concerts, church-based summer camps, and yes…with certain caveats…on Christian dating sites. In other words, not necessarily at school, their part-time job or, once they reach the legal age, at a bar.

So…

…I have to wonder if Christian kids grow up hearing this message over and over and over and over again, why is it that each week, in the context of my work, I hear the despairing voice of a parent lamenting that their teen or twenty-something is dating, is engaged to, or has married a non-believer. There are no words to describe the disappointment these moms and dads feel when, after a lifetime in church, their son or daughter has made a decision that they feel is the opposite of every core value they tried to instill in them on the subject of choosing a mate for life. Often, for this or other reasons, the relationship is currently in crisis.

The thing is, when a male and a female live together or get married (a choice that needs to be the subject of a different article) if one of them is not a Christian, while it’s sometimes the case that the non-Christian is willing to check out their partner’s church, the greater preponderance seems to be that both stop going to church.

recessive-faithI know nothing about biology but I remember hearing someone using genetics to explain how blue eyes are a recessive trait and as blue eyed people continue to crossbreed with non blue eyed people, the number of blue eyed people declines. I sort of feel like church attendance and faith commitment are recessive traits and as theological mixed marriages take place, we see the decline in church attendance and/or people identifying as Christian.

In other words, there’s more at stake than just the underlying reasons why Paul makes the statement in 2 Corinthians 6:14, though the context is quite broad and marriage is not mentioned specifically. (If you’re in a business partnership with an unbeliever, the principle would appear to apply equally.)

What’s at here stake seems to be the future of the church.

 

July 29, 2016

Specific Prayers for Your Children

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
Psalm 103:13 NIV

praying boy and dogEven if you’re not a parent, you might be a grandparent, Godparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, teacher, Children’s ministry leader, etc. Or perhaps you can use this as a checklist to see how you measure up yourself! This first appeared at Into The King’s Garden by Angel Koerner Bohon. Click the title below to get the source for this and think of someone who has children in their sphere of influence you can send it to. Also remember, if your kids are in their 30s or 40s, it’s not too late to pray these prayers. (The reference in each section alludes strongly to scripture passages you will recognize, but if you want to study them further, copy and paste into BibleGateway.com)

Virtues to Pray for Your Children

1. Salvation — “Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Isa. 45:8; 2 Tim. 2:10)

2. Growth in Grace — “I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

3. Love — “Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them.” (Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:2)

4. Honesty and Integrity — “May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.” (Ps. 25:21)

5. Self-Control — “Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.” (1 Thess. 5:6)

6. Love for God’s Word — “May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps. 19:10)

7. Justice — “God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.” (Ps. 11:7; Mic. 6:8)

8. Mercy — “May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)

9. Respect (for self, others, and authority) — “Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands.” (1 Pet. 2:17)

10. Biblical Self-Esteem — “Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:10)

11. Faithfulness — “Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.” (Prov. 3:3)

12. Courage — “May my children always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions.” (Deut. 31:6)

13. Purity — “Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions.” (Ps. 51:10)

14. Kindness — “Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thess. 5:15)

15. Generosity — “Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” (1 Tim. 6:18-19)

16. Peace-Loving — “Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Rom. 14:19)

17. Joy — “May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thes. 1:6)

18. Perseverance — “Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them.” (Heb. 12:1)

19. Humility — “God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.” (Titus 3:2)

20. Compassion — “Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.” (Col. 3:12)

21. Responsibility — “Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5)

22. Contentment — “Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)

23. Faith — “I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.” (Luke 17:5-6; Heb. 11:1-40)

24. A Servant’s Heart — “God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7)

25. Hope — “May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

26. Willingness and Ability to Work — “Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)

27. Passion for God — “Lord, please instill in my children a soul that ‘followeth hard after thee,’ one that clings passionately to You.” (Ps. 63:8)

28. Self-Discipline — “Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Prov. 1:3)

29. Prayerfulness — “Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (1 Thess. 5:17)

30. Gratitude — “Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20; Col. 2:7)

31. A Heart for Missions — “Lord, please help my children to develop a desire to see Your glory declared among the nations, Your marvelous deeds among the peoples.” (Ps. 96:3)

 

March 23, 2015

When Down Is Up

Today’s article contains some graphic imagery.

About 40 years ago, Kirk, the son of family friends, was walking in a park near his apartment complex when he was lured into a public washroom where he was then sexually assaulted. As I was very young, my parents felt it better to spare me some of the details, but in the hushed whispers I gathered that it was an assault of the worst kind, and although the event faded over time, as I grew older the sense I got was that Kirk had been sodomized, and while I was never to speak of it if I had contact with him, I was left to believe that for one person to do this to another was an act of unspeakable horror.

Fast-forward 40 years and I’m checking out who some people on Twitter are following and I land on the account of a young man who is probably now the same age as Kirk was when his assault took place. A quick look told me this was not an account I wanted to check out further; in between the model cars and sci-fi themes there was some very hardcore gay pornography. But before I clicked away never to return, I wanted to see how he had captioned a picture of two guys who were, well… It said, “I wish someone would do this to me.”

The title of this old Doobie Brothers album sums up how change takes place: "What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits."

The title of this old Doobie Brothers album sums up how change takes place: “What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits.

What was for Kirk a couple of generations ago an act of the worst kind imaginable, is now something desired by high school students, and even middle-school students. The very activity that made Kirk a victim has become in some places a recreational, after-school sport.

How did things change so quickly?

I don’t want to blame the internet for things it didn’t do, but we know that revolutions in communications brought about by technology tend to accelerate social change. From the reaction of our family friends to Kirk’s unfortunate assault to 2015 where a kid wants this type of contact, something has shifted radically.

But it doesn’t always take place over the course of 40 years.

Sometimes worldviews are altered more quickly. I don’t need to footnote this with a source to be able to say that even within the church, attitudes toward homosexual practice or gay marriage have shifted, even in the last two years, with some suggesting that attitudes toward polyamory and incest are also in flux.

Your attitude toward an particular social issue or behavior can change over two years, but it might change over two weeks depending on what voices are allowed to speak into your situation, or what types of input you allow yourself. What was once so very wrong becomes less of a big deal. You find yourself now ‘soft’ on a particular subject that years before would have produced a ‘hard’ reaction.

If you are the type of person whose values and worldview are absolute, that is, in one sense, good to hear. But anyone who ever changed political party, or switched from coffee to tea, or made any other type of shift knows well that we are capable of having our opinions reshaped.

That’s what happening right now in our society in general, and in the Church. We’re living in a time when down is up, and that should horrify you every bit as much as Kirk’s attack did our family 40 years ago.

November 9, 2013

The Backstory on Social Protest: The Financial Costs

What you’re about to see is purported to be (and I believe is) the actual invoice to the Florida Family Association for hiring an airplane to fly over Orlando and warn area families and tourists that it was “Gay Days” at Walt Disney World. It was obtained from a pro-LGBT website that I won’t link to here. (The URL is available on request.)  It’s dated May 22nd, 2013, and engages services for May 31st and June 1st, and the towing of a banner to read, “Warning: Gay Days at Disney,” in both English and Spanish. (This possibly involved more than one airplane.)

From information gathered at various sites, I do not discount for a minute that some families — the very type of people who visit this blog — would appreciate the warning. One writer described the history and presentation of the “unofficial” days at Disney World on this page. (Read the second article in particular.) I certainly share his concerns.

We need organizations that are willing to stand up for principles and values. Local associations like the one in Florida, and their national counterparts, do well to, at the very least, put the brakes on a society that appears to be in a moral downward spiral.

But they pay a price to do so. Literally. Here is the invoice:

Florida Family Association Disney Protest

Can you read the total?  $16,400.00

Florida Family Association Disney Protest Total

I find myself — albeit like Judas — saying, “This money could have been used to feed the poor.” Well, actually, Mrs. W. said that right away when I read her the invoice amount last night.

This isn’t about gay pride or Disney. Please don’t leave comments in that vein. This is just about having a peek behind the scenes, and realizing it takes a whole of money to stage this kind of protest. Truth be told, $16K is probably a drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on national events or having Christian organizations (like the National Association of Evangelicals in the U.S. or the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) lobbying to protect or enhance Judeo-Christian values concerning health, education, social justice, etc. in Washington or Ottawa. (Or London, Frankfort, Paris, et al.)

When you tick the box on the form and say, “I want my voice to be heard;” and enclose a check or provide your VISA or MasterCard info online, you are expecting the organization in question to incur expenses on your behalf.

That reflect your values.  And mine.

Hopefully this is not entirely without result. Hopefully a few families that felt their children (and themselves) would be negatively impacted by what they might see at Disney World that day were able to put off their visit into the following week, and genuinely appreciated the warning.

I agree with that.

But I agree with what Mrs. W. and others might say, i.e. that $16K would go a long way to providing groceries or medicine for the poor in Greater Orlando, of which I’m certain there are many.

What do you think?

March 25, 2013

Jamie, The Very Best Parenting

“It took me a lot of years and a lot of conversations with God (and with people who know more about God than me) to understand that everything I believed about my own sexuality was built on two huge lies.” ~ Jamie Wright

What happens when you have three teenager boys in the house, and your expectations for them come crashing against the realities of what you did when you were their age?

Jamie WrightThose of you who have been here for a little while know that this is a blog that places a premium price on transparency and honesty. We all clean up pretty good for Sunday morning (or daily blogging) but life is often messy, so when pastors, church leaders, authors or just everyday run-of-the-mill bloggers are straightforward and tell it like it is, they get my vote.

Jamie Wright may call herself “the very worst missionary” but she proves herself, in an article published on Friday, to be trying to be the very best parent.

This is a very explicit article that needs to be read in full, so I’m not going to excerpt from it here beyond the quotation above.  If you have children, have grandchildren, help with a church midweek program, teach Sunday School, or simply want some insight into what perfectly ideal Christianity looks like from the other side, you should click through now and read Jamie’s article simply titled Sex. (Yes, I know some of you are programmed never to click on that word online; however…)

April 20, 2011

Wednesday Link List

I chose this particular WordPress theme for its wide margins, but inherited a rather tiny default typeface in the process.  For years  I’ve been bumping it up manually with HTML codes, but last week WordPress changed the rules, and I would now have to do it paragraph by paragraph.  [Update: Which, now having the time, I’ve just done! Which renders the rest of this paragraph redundant.] So… if you can’t read what follows simply press Ctrl and while you’re holding it down press the “+” sign, although technically you’re pressing “=” sign, because it’s done without holding down the shift key.  But nobody thinks of it that way…

As a bonus today, excerpts from the links are included in red.

  • Brant Hansen continues to blog, albeit not at Kamp Krusty.  He recently explained to WAY-FM listeners why he doesn’t tithe. People like me who no longer believe we are bound to tithing are not arguing for less giving.  Oh no.  We’re arguing for more, for those who have it.  Much more.
  • In a related post, Christianity Today asks if people receiving unemployment benefits should tithe on that “income.” Tithing is not a luxurious option achievable only by those whose financial security is assured. It is the ancient spiritual practice that God uses to begin setting our priorities right, to heal our hearts of greed and fear, and to draw us ever closer into his own boundless generosityJoin the conversation at CT.
  • Followers of Judaism are fighting declining numbers by modernizing many of its practices, including an enhanced use of creative arts. Every branch of Judaism has seen membership drop digits. Interfaith marriages… continue at a pace of 50% for Jews.  Look for parallels between their efforts and what Evangelicals have done in the last few decades in this USAToday story.
  • Tom at the blog Living in the Beauty of  Dirty Faith has a concise summary of the objectification of our children:  So this is the message young daughters around the country (and world) are getting:  don’t be measured by what type of person you are becoming, how you treat others, etc. but rather be measured by your measurements.  Check out Girls Gone Wild.
  • Just so everybody’s clear, Shaun Groves makes it clear that Facebook friends are not true friends: I have friends. You’re probably not one of them.  Not everybody likes this news, but they’re now redirected to a fan page.
  • With all the attention being given the new NIV revision (and the new NAB revision) it’s easy to miss the Josh James Version.  Having appreciated the many opportunities that the web has to offer, I decided in 2008 to begin using web space to publish some of my Bible study, sermons, instruction in the Greek language, my Greek translation of the New Testament, and various other bits of information. The individual pages take forever to load, but I admire his diligence!  Check out Josh James’ translation page.
  • Readership at Christianity 201 — my other blog — is growing faster these days; so I thought I’d scare everyone away with a really, really, really, really long post by Steven Furtick.    We could be judgmental, but the truth is that there are things that are just as elementary that you and I still don’t get. And it’s these things that keep us in a state of inertia in our walk with God and the calling He has placed on our lives. Check out this reposting of his three-part series at Maybe You Just Don’t Get It.
  • If you’ve been avoiding the magazines at the grocery store by doing the self-checkout thing, you may have missed out that Rob Bell has put the issue of hell on the cover (see above) of Time Magazine.  Bell’s arguments about heaven and hell raise doubts about the core of the Evangelical worldview, changing the common understanding of salvation so much that Christianity becomes more of an ethical habit of mind than a faith based on divine revelationThe article is long, but well-researched.
  • Meanwhile, Barna Research shows that one in four “born again” Christians subscribe to universalist beliefs.  For many evangelicals, the idea of Christians holding universalist ideas is particularly disturbing because it nullifies the need for Christ to die on the cross and the message of Jesus that he is the only way, truth and life… A 2008 Pew Forum survey revealed that 57 percent of evangelicals agreed with the idea that other religions than their own can lead to eternal life. Read the story at Christian Post.
  • Speaking of the above, Adam Powers blogs a few quotations from the Gospel Coalition’s special session on responding to Bell.  Crawford Loritts on people who have cut their spiritual teeth on Bell: We all need to be careful when we talk about these things not to overcorrect. We are to love unbelievers and we are to preach the love of God. I would encourage this person, not only to pursue right exegesis on this issue, but to the study of the nature of God altogether. Look at the wholeness of who God isRead more at the blog Pleasing Pain.
  • Speaking of responses, a reader is trying to get me to recant of my earlier support of Bell’s alt interpretation of Peter and Jesus walking on water.  I reply, Bell’s alternative reading on this stops short of the kind of fantasy scripture that his friend Peter Rollins would conjure up. It’s not the main point of the story, but, a year later, I still think Jesus is saying to Peter, “I chose you, I invited you to step out of the boat, I have faith you can walk on water; do you trust my choice?” And then, I refuse to withdraw my endorsement on this particular bit of Bell’s teaching.
  • When it comes to preaching, I know what I like; but not as well as Darryl Dash knows what he doesn’t like.  I’ve observed that there are countless ways to preach well, but there are only a few key steps you need to master if you want to preach poorly.  Check out his guest post at Soren’s blog, Six Keys to Poor Preaching.   (BTW, Darryl’s brother is a neighbor of mine who sends me hilarious e-mail forwards by the truckload.)
  • The Seventh Day Adventists, which make up a large majority of the population in Loma Linda, California are losing their unique Sunday mail delivery.  Carrier supervisor Duane Hubbard told the paper that the postal service’s computers don’t recognize Sunday as a workday, meaning the local office is unable to communicate with any other agency offices then.  Now only two communities in the U.S. are left with the unique delivery situation.
  • The “gone wild” reference earlier reminded me of this t-shirt concept available at Kaboodle.com

  • …which in turn reminded me of this backprint/frontprint T-shirt concept also at Kaboodle

  • Today’s quote:
“People ask, ‘How could a loving God send people to hell?’ but I believe that a loving God put a blood-stained cross on the pathway to hell and if someone ends up going to hell they had to step over that blood-stained cross to get there.”
~Perry Noble, April 15th

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