Teach the Children

Have you noticed how many children from Christian families go off to college and return minus their faith in God? Good, humble, church-going kids go out into the world and agnostic (or downright atheistic) kids return home. And it's all our fault!
It's easy to blame the atheistic professor, the worldly education system or someone else's 'wild children'. But the fault lies with us: parents, uncles and aunts, youth ministers. We tell the children what to believe, but not why they should believe it or even why it's believable! We give them scripture verses and Bible stories and think that's enough. They go away strong in faith but weak in theology and reasoning skills. They show up at college easy prey for atheistic professors who question their faith. They don't know how to defend their faith with sound doctrine and logical, reasonable arguments and cave to public humiliation. You can bet their professors are ready with logic and reason to defend their godless  arguments!
The Bible warns us to be ready to give a defense of what we believe. We need to be ready with an answer for why we believe what we believe. Faith is not the opposite of logic and reason. The Christian faith is both logical and reasonable. Our children are looking to make sense of this crazy world and if we don't answer their questions biblically, someone else will answer them for us.
Encourage your children to question their faith. Encourage them to ask questions and teach them that their faith is logically and reasonably defendable. Don't stifle their curiosity, but feed it. Of course if we adults don't study to show ourselves approved, then how will we be able to answer our children's questions?


Warned from the Start

 "When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don't. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you." John 15:18,19

 "And everyone will hate you because you are my followers." Mark 13:13

 "For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God." John 16:2

Where in the Bible do we get the idea that this world is going to like us? What scripture do we use to show how this world system is supposed to agree with us and tolerate our biblical ideals and embrace us as friends? Jesus warned us 2000 years ago how it would be. Why are we so surprised that it is as he said it would be? And why are we surprised that it is getting worse the closer we get to His return?
This world will tolerate everything except Jesus (and therefore us, if we truly follow Him). It hated Him then and it hates Him now. He tells them they can't do things they want to do. He places moral restriction on them and they don't like it! The world will tolerate everything except the intolerant. Play along, be nice, accept everything that comes along, keep your opinions to yourself, don't make a stand for anything being 'the way it should be' and the world will take you in and love you. Follow Jesus, stand for the truth, voice your opinions, call evil evil and you are sure to be persecuted, hated and shunned. 
During the recent Duck Dynasty debacle, one 'reporter' said he was surprised that the patriarch of the family would say such awful things about homosexuals because he thought this show was "supposed to be about good, God-fearing, hard-working, likeable sorts of folks." Apparently 'good, God-fearing, hard-working, likeable sorts of folks' aren't supposed to be against homosexuality. My answer is that good, God-fearing folks have to be against homosexuality because the Bible calls it sin and because they follow Jesus, not man. The world sees Christians as either 'good old boys and girls' who are peaceful and quiet, who get along with everyone and who are not willing to get into controversial areas (you know, humble and meek and all that stuff) or as homophobic, racist troublemakers who can't keep their backward, conservative opinions to themselves and want to force their religious ideas down everyone's throats. They falsely accused Christians of wanting to take all the homosexuals and lesbians and putting them on an island somewhere by themselves when the truth is they would do that to Christians in a heartbeat!  
Anyone who hates another human being for any reason is not following Jesus' teachings. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves and treat everyone with respect and courtesy regardless of whether we agree on everything or not. God created us all in his image and gives us life and therefore we are all equally important. But we must not be bullied into backing down from the truth. We must follow God and not men. We must agree with God and call sin whatever He calls sin regardless of the consequences. Be assured, you will be hated and despised; You may be ostracized or even jailed for obeying God. But we were warned. 


Sheep Who Stray

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. ~ Isaiah 53:6

There are times when we stray away. Life is so full of distractions and busy is our middle name. How often do we look up from our busy lives and find that we're not where we thought we were and certainly not about the Father's business. Like sheep who get so caught up in the next juicy bite of green grass that they walk right into danger, we look up and find we are far from where we planned (and want) to be.
There are times when we walk away. It's not that we absent-mindedly wander off track, we know exactly what we're doing. We're doing what we want to do, all the while knowing it's contrary to God's will. We take control of our lives and assert out independence.
There are times when we fade away. We get tired. We get frustrated. Life can be tough. We can handle life one day at a time, but it seems like life often throws two or three days at us at a time. We get overwhelmed and it's so easy to just sit down. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to get up again. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. Often it seems like we can't find the strength to get up and get started again.
All these 'times' are common to us all. We all find ourselves in one of them at points in our lives. It helps me to stay out of these 'times' by remembering this: when we disobey God's will and command,  it is treason. We can call it by nicer names, but a rose by any other name..... Well, you know the rest. It is what it is no matter what you choose to call it. God is our Sovereign, our Head, our King, our Lord. It is our responsibility to be obedient. As our creator, the author of our lives, he has the right to command us, to obligate us. We have the responsibility to obey. When we choose what we want over what he commands, it is treason against our Sovereign. It is no little thing. We make it sound insignificant by saying we strayed from the path or missed the mark or maybe got out of line. But when a subordinate disobeys a Sovereign, it is treason!
We should all be thankful that God is merciful and forgiving. He allows us time to see what we have done and to repent of it. He doesn't owe that time to us, it is his grace. He doesn't have to accept our repentance, that also is his grace. We need to be better overcomers and we wouldn't have to be such good repenters! We need to be vigilant and obedient and remember that treason is a capital offense. It is an offense that shows arrogance and ingratitude to a Sovereign God.



I don't know how many times I have started a discussion about God with someone only to hear them say "How can there be a good God when there is so much evil in the world?". I recall the words of atheist Sam Harris who said “Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this, or he doesn't care to, or he doesn't exist. God is either impotent, evil, or imaginary.". I tend to look at the whole question of evil from the other side: "How can there be any good in this world without a good God?".
Just look at how evil people can be. Look at the atrocities they can commit. It seems like each new outbreak of violence pushes the envelope a little further as if evildoers were trying to one up each other! Just try to imagine how evil a person could actually be, what atrocities they could think up to do. I believe it is God who keeps people from being as evil as they could be. 
God, in times past, has removed his restraining hand from certain individuals and allowed them to fulfill the evil in their hearts: Pharaoh and Hitler and the like. It's not that God put evil thoughts into their minds or evil desires into their heads, but he allowed them to live out the evil that was already present in them. I can't say that I fully understand why God has allowed these evils to occur, but I know that it is part of an overall plan that, because of my limited capabilities as a finite human, I can't see. 
Some people believe that humans are inherently good. They believe that children learn to be bad. I believe the Bible teaches us that we are born evil and only 'learn' how to express the evil that is in us.The Bible teaches that "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?". (Jeremiah 17:9).
When something terrible and tragic happens, it's easy to find someone asking how God could have allowed such a bad thing to happen to innocent people. But wonderful things happen to people everyday and I rarely hear anyone asking how God could have allowed such a nice thing to happen to sinful people. It's an act of God when a tornado kills 100 people or a Tsunami kills 3000. But few take the time to thank God and recognize him for his generosity when the sun shines and the sky is blue and the crops grow tall and the children are healthy and happy. No one seems to question where the good comes from, only the evil. 


Praying for the Lost

  We should all have a heart for the lost. We should all be praying for the lost to be saved, those we know and those we don't know. I believe the Holy Spirit gives all true believers a burden to see people saved. After all, Jesus came "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). 
  I think a lot of times we just aren't sure how to go about praying for the lost. Some of us believe that human beings have 'free will' and must use that freedom to choose to be saved. So how do we pray for God to save them when God can't save them until they decide to be saved? Some of us believe that God has predetermined the 'elect' from before time. So since we're not sure who's of the elect and whose not, who do we pray for to be saved; If God elected them, they'll  be saved and if He didn't no amount of praying will change that. It can certainly be confusing.
  I believe that no one in his natural state, that is, in his flesh, ever wants to be saved or have anything to do with God. The Bible tells us that in our flesh, "nothing good dwells" (Rom 7:18). I believe the Bible teaches that sin has corrupted us beyond repair (there remains no ability to want the things of God left in us) and that is why we need to be reborn of the Spirit. I believe that God must give us the will to want him and the ability to desire to do his will. The Bible tells us that it is "God working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him" (Phil 2:13). I believe in 'free will', in that we are free to choose what we want. But I also believe that what we want is not (and without God's intervention, will never be) God. The Bible says that we love him because he first loved us. We need God's help to be saved.
   I believe we need to pray and ask God to give lost people the desire to be saved, the ability to repent and the will to follow Jesus.