Gossip

gossip

Have you heard?

Please don’t repeat this to anyone.

Let’s just keep this between you and me, shall we?

I’ve said each of these phrases before. At times, they have been perfectly acceptable. And yes, other times I’ve said them to my shame. Gossip is an ugly sin.  It breaks hearts, hurts marriages, ruins friendship, ends careers, destroys ministries, generates grief, and tarnish reputations. It is no respecter of persons and the more it’s repeated the more it’s believed.

If you’ve ever been hurt by gossiping words, you understand how painful it can be. And, if you’ve ever been gossiped to, be prepared to be gossiped about. That’s the nature of this beast.

The scriptures warn us about the use of our tongues.

  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. (Pro 21:23)
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. (Pro 10:19)
  • A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Pro 11:13)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (Jas 1:26)
  • But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (Jas 3:8)

The more we talk, the more we risk sinning with our words. That is why the Bible speaks of wisdom through silence. But, I like to talk. I especially like to get together with my friends to visit, share stories, communicate and bond through our words. So, where does talking cross the line and become gossip?

I’m glad you asked.

When you share privileged information with others, it is gossip. Simply put, some information is private and not intended for everyone to hear. If the information is not yours to share, don’t share it.

When you repeat negative rumors about others, it is gossip. This line of gossip is often accompanied with the intent of tearing others down to build others up. It’s the nastiest form of gossip.

When a negative is discussed with anyone who cannot solve the problem, it is gossip. Sometimes negative information must be shared. If you are in leadership or ministry of any sort this is especially true. However, when you share negatives with people who have no authority to intervene or offer valuable insight into the issue, it becomes nothing short of gossip.

The list is not inclusive, but it’s a good start. David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” Psalms 141:3. Christian friend, let this be our prayer!

Have you personally seen the negative effects of gossip? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Blessings!

ABORTION – Is There Not A Cause?

babyThe Bible tells a story of a young shepherd boy and his foe. The Philistine army gathered for war against Israel. For forty days the giant, Goliath of Gath, stood mocking as he challenged the Israelites to fight. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army fled in fear. David, the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. While there he heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” David asked as righteous anger burned within him.  Will no one take a stand?  King Saul, the one chosen to lead the people, sits by in fear doing nothing.  Subsequently, the one who is willing to fight for the Lord is criticized by his brother.  Yet David addressed the true matter by asking, “Is there not a cause?”  (I Sam. 17)

Is there not a cause?  Such a pondering question. Yesterday I found myself asking this very one.  A friend brought to my attention an ad that ran in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last Friday. The full-page advertisement (see here) placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation asked, “What Does The Bible Really Say about Abortion?” As I read the ad David’s question burned within me. Just who is this organization that they should defy the Living God? Mockingly, they declare that the Bible does not condemn abortion and even “shows an utter disregard for human life”.

Using text out of context, they twist scripture in the same vile fashion as Satan did when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It always strikes me funny when people who claim there is no God, try and use His Word to prove their points. But the Bible speaks to this when it says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that a person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness. The secular man cannot understand the things of God because the things of God are only discerned through the Spirit of God. But nevertheless, they try. Using Genesis 2:7 they say that life does not begin at conception, but rather when a person starts breathing. “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” It goes without saying that Adam’s beginning was unique to mankind. The first woman was created just as unique as she was taken from her husband’s rib. Both were fully formed adults at creation, not babies in the womb.

The ad tried to prove from the Bible that fetuses are not persons. Again, more twisting of scripture. Repeatedly the Bible refers to pregnant women as being “with child.” Job, the oldest book in the Bible, refers to unborn children as infants. The Psalmists declares, “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” (Psalm 139:13-14). God tells the Prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” The Apostle Paul says, “it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,” (Galatians 1:15). God is the giver of life. This life begins at conception. To take life through abortion is to murder the innocent. It doesn’t get any more innocent than an unborn child and it should be noted that “hands that shed innocent blood” is listed in Proverbs 6 as an abomination to God and a sin that He hates.

Not only does the FFRF ad mock God and His Word, it deceives readers saying, “We live under a secular Constitution that wisely separates religion from government, and protects women’s reproductive rights.” There are three fallacies with this one statement. First, read the writings of the men who penned the Constitution. They were not secular. Most of these men were believers in Jesus Christ. They acknowledge this in Article 7 of the United States Constitution when they wrote, “Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord…”  Second, Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of church and state” phrase is not found in the Constitution but rather comes from a personal letter written to a group of Baptists. Third, the constitution does not give women a right to murder their children. However, before the Constitution was penned some of the same Founding Fathers did write about certain rights.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These truths (absolute truths) are self-evident (undeniable and obvious) that our rights come from our Creator (Jesus Christ our Lord). These rights include Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Notice that life comes first. Freedom and happiness is of little value if there is no right to life.

Let me ask again, is there not a cause?  Christians, have we forgotten who we are?  Have we lost the will to stand up against this massacre?  Does not the slaying of millions move us to action? If so, pick up a stone of truth and whirl it at the giant of lies that is constantly mocking our God. Take a stand. Write a letter. Support a pro-life candidate. Labor in prayer. Give your time, treasure and talents. It is a worthy cause.

Christian friend, if you no longer feel compassion, concern or cause over the fact that thousands upon thousands of babies are murdered every day then please consider these words. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Surely we did not know this,’ does not He who weighs the hearts consider it? He who keeps your soul, does He not know it? And will He not render to each man according to his deeds? (Proverbs 24:10-12)

Hope…In Times Like These

discouraged

I am done. I am officially washing my hands from politics and this atrocity of an election. Can it possibly get any worse? Hillary Clinton is the epitome of what is wrong with government in this country and Donald Trump is the epitome of what is wrong with our culture as a whole. And like it or not, in less than three weeks one of these two will be elected as the next POTUS. I have played out the scenario over and over again. A Clinton presidency assures that the 1st and 2nd amendment will be under attack, the murder of innocent babies will continue to increase, SCOTUS will be in danger, religious liberty will be jeopardized, freedoms we love will be threatened, and government will continue to grow out of control. But if Trump wins evangelicals who vote for him lose more than an election. By promoting Donald Trump to the highest office of the land, we lose the right to talk about a candidate’s integrity. Morals and character issues become obsolete. In the future there will be no standard in which to measure a candidate. Anything will have to go. Did the candidate sexually abuse women? It won’t matter. Is he unrepentant? Who cares? Does he make his money in lascivious ways? Who are we to judge? It’s not that standards will be lowered; there won’t be any. Our witness and integrity is lost.

We’re all asking the same question. How did we get here? We could blame the liberal left for ignoring the facts. We could blame the right for being more concerned with holding on to power than actually doing what is right. We could blame uneducated voters, media bias, compromising Christians, 3rd party voters, those who refuse to vote, or a host of others. But it doesn’t matter.  The outcome is still the same. Our country is doomed. And I’m done with it all…

This is simply how I felt, that is last night. However, with the morning light peeking through my window I woke with a glimmer of hope. For the first time in months I was able to see our country through different eyes. Last night my husband and I attended a fundraiser for Family Council. We gathered with friends and acquaintances in an effort to support a great ministry. Admittedly, I was hesitant to go. (Remember, I had already washed my hands…) Yet, something compelled me.

Senator Tom Cotton was one of the guests and after dinner we gather around the living room and listened to him speak. What he didn’t say was just as remarkable as what he said. He didn’t stand up pontificating as a typical Washington politician. Nor did he cry out from the depths of despair. He didn’t paint a doom and gloom picture of our current state. And he didn’t highlight the government’s corruption or even cast blame. Instead, He reminded us that man is fallen. He talked of hope, faithfulness, duty and loyalty. He reminded us of the unity we showed in our country just days after 9/11 and how we stood together and overcame great darkness. He was encouraging and even more so convicting.

My friend Jerry Cox, founder and president of Family Council, followed the Senator and continued to encourage. He told personal stories that emphasized the reality of the American Dream. He spoke about the worship service that took place this year in the Capitol Rotunda.  He reported that Arkansas is ranked as the fourth most pro-life states in the union and that we are currently blessed with a rather conservative government.

I needed to hear that message last night. We all do. Listen, it is easy to stay in a defeatist state. I know because that is where I lived. When we look from the top down, cast blame and pessimistically ask “what in world is wrong with this world?” we overlook the most important aspect of this question. The ugly truth and answer is, “I am.”  I’m what’s wrong because I believed the lies. I lost hope. I forgot that God has a bigger plan than who wins the election. I forgot that His plan involves the remnant – God-fearing individuals who wake up each day making a difference to the world around them. They are all around us. They are not giving up. They are not washing their hands from it all. They are not tearing their brothers and sisters apart for simply casting a differing vote. They are looking up, working hard, and fighting local battles in their community, school boards, and city council. They are supporting good causes with their time, treasure and talents. They are strengthening their own family because they know that the family is the building block of all society. They are doing good works and supporting their pastor and local church. They are encouraging others, bearing burdens, and pointing the lost world to the Savior.

I want to be this person. I choose to be this person. I will look into the future with hope because I know there is good left in our country. But even more so, because I am determined to be that good. When my heart breaks for the thousands of babies aborted, I will do the good works. When I see the poor and homeless, I will do the good works. When bad laws are introduced and liberties are threatened, I will do the good works. When marriages are in trouble and families fall apart, I will do the good works.  My efforts do not have to be perfect to be beautiful. In fact, it is in my weakness – in all of our frailty– that God gets the most glory. For when we are weak, He is strong. When all hope is lost in mankind; we remember that it is in Him we trust.  And should darkness continue to engulf our nation then I choose to see the night as gloriously dark. And I choose to remember that stars shine their brightest against the darkest of nights.

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3)

Salt & Light, Our Children & Public Schools

SaltAndLightChristians1Ephesians chapter 5 tells the believer to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. It goes on to say wake up; redeem the time, because the days are evil.  I believe a lot of Christian parents are beginning to wake up to the truths of public education. In the past decade the number of homeschooled children has increased by 62%. With the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, the force of Common Core, humanistic and atheistic teaching, and safety concerns across the nation, homeschool organizations are anticipating even further growth.

A few weeks ago I ran into a pastor who has been taking a stand on the LBGT within our local school board. He mentioned that he didn’t know what he and his wife were going to do about their children being in public school. He’s concerned, and rightly so. In light of society, I’m concerned for Christian parents who are not concerned.

There is a humanistic agenda within the system – from the top down.  For years US Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been speaking out about this agenda. Then last week after the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage the Department of Education flaunted its support by changing their Facebook profile page to the gay rainbow. And it is only going to get worse.

Because our government schools have become such a dark place I am so very thankful for our Christian teachers and leaders who are there being salt and light day in and day out. God bless each of them. They are fighting a battle right on the front lines. They need our support and prayers. But what about the Christian youth? Our innocent children? Shouldn’t they be salt and light in our public schools as well? My friend, Jonathan Lewis, one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine has agreed to share his thoughts on this very issue.

Salt & Light

Taking a look at the #1 Christian argument against homeschooling

By Jonathan Lewis

Throughout the years of the modern homeschooling movement, a number of arguments have been raised against home education. Doubtless you’ve heard many of them. “How can an untrained mother teach her children? What about socialization? How are you going to teach higher math? How will your kids get into college?”

In Christian circles, there’s another argument that’s frequently brought up by parents who have opted to send their kids to public school. Perhaps you’ve heard it from parents in your church: “I’m sending my kids to public school to be salt and light,” they say. “If all the Christian kids leave the schools, who will reach the students left behind?”

This argument, because of its spiritual overtones and scriptural reference, often seems more difficult to answer than other arguments against homeschooling. After all, how can we argue against being salt and light? Wouldn’t that mean we don’t care about kids and teachers who don’t know Christ?

This argument has left many current or would-be homeschooling parents feeling torn and conflicted, unsure of how to weigh their responsibility toward their own children against their sense of responsibility to further the Great Commission—to reach the world with the gospel of Christ. Somehow it seems unchristian to leave the schools without a godly influence, and yet . . . should I risk my child’s spiritual well-being by sending him away to school? No wonder parents are feeling torn!

Is there an answer to this argument? Can Scripture be used to justify sending our children to public school? Should we send our children out as missionaries, or should we keep them at home? What is the scriptural answer to this conflicting sense of responsibility parents are feeling?

 The Source of the Argument

The salt and light argument finds its source in Matthew 5:13–16, where Jesus tells His disciples that they are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world,” and that they should let their light “so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Thus, the argument says that Christian kids should attend public school to be a witness for Christ. They further argue that if all Christian kids are removed from the public schools, the students and teachers left behind will be stranded without a voice of truth or the opportunity to see a positive Christian witness.

 First Things First

Before looking at possible responses, it’s important for us to realize something fundamental right from the beginning. The salt and light argument itself inherently acknowledges that our schools are largely godless. No one uses this argument to justify sending kids to a Christian school, because presumably the students there either already know Christ or at least have opportunity to hear about Him in ways other than through Christian students.

In other words, we only send missionaries where they’re needed—where there is a sufficient lack of truth and godly influence to give them room and opportunity to work. Thus, the argument itself acknowledges the largely godless condition of our public education system, and the parents who use this argument are as much as admitting that the overall environment at school is more or less hostile to the Christian faith. Some would attempt to maintain that the schools are not hostile to our faith, but are instead religiously neutral; this, however, is a difficult case to support, especially in view of Christ’s declaration in Matthew 12:30 that “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Christ doesn’t leave neutrality as an option.

In this context then, the salt and light argument assumes two things:

First, that the potential good a Christian student can do in the public school system outweighs the personal spiritual risk of sitting under humanistic teaching and spending hours every day in an admittedly ungodly environment.

Second, it assumes that being salt and light is a child’s top priority, as opposed to, for example, receiving a distinctively Christian education. In other words, it’s more important for children to be missionaries—while simultaneously receiving a humanistic education—than to be taught from a Christian worldview, protected from overtly negative peer influences, and so on.

With these basic presuppositions in mind, let’s progress now to looking at possible responses to this classic Christian argument against homeschooling.

 The Context of “Salt and Light”

First, we should look at the context of the salt and light passage. Whom is Jesus speaking to? At the beginning of Matthew 5, we see clearly that Christ is speaking to His disciples. Verses 1–2 read, “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: and he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying . . . ”

As we can see, Jesus was speaking to a specific group of individuals: His disciples—adult men. Thus, in the original context, the salt and light passage was addressed to adults, not children.

That doesn’t mean children shouldn’t be a positive witness if and when they encounter those in the world around them. But it’s quite a leap from there to say that they should be deliberately placed in a spiritually hostile environment at young ages where they will be actively taught in ways contrary to the Word of God. Being salt and light is one thing. Sending our children to the training camp of the enemy is quite another—and we only need look around us to see the failure of this tactic.

We should also note that Christ’s disciples spent approximately three years with Jesus before He gave them the Great Commission and sent them out into all the world. In other words, they experienced three years of intense, hands-on training and preparation with the perfect, faultless, infallible Son of God before He deemed them ready to go out on their own. How much more preparation will our children need before they can stand on their own? After all, they have fallen, fallible, sinful parents responsible for their training—not the perfect Son of God in the flesh.

Looking further at the context, we see that Jesus was instructing His disciples to be salt and light while they were still in His presence, under His direct teaching and influence. Thus, we can see that it’s possible to fulfill this command even without being sent out alone, away from the protection and influence of one’s God-given teacher or mentor. If parents, biblically speaking, are the appropriate teachers and mentors of their children (more on this later), it’s possible for children to fulfill the salt and light mandate within that framework, rather than having to be sent away.

In view of these contextual considerations, it’s difficult to make the case that this passage directly applies to children in the way in which our critics suggest. Since it doesn’t specifically mention or command sending children to a spiritually hostile environment to be salt and light, it certainly doesn’t constitute the final word on the matter, and therefore we should look to other biblical passages and principles for more clarification.

 Training Ground, Not Mission Field

One consideration which the proponents of the salt and light argument often seem to overlook is the reality that they are not simply sending their children to a mission field, but a training ground. In other words, these Christian kids are not being sent out to reach other students and teachers while being isolated from the humanistic teaching that occurs in the schools. The teaching is an unavoidable part of the package. Thus, in order to justify sending his or her child to public school as a missionary, a parent needs to simultaneously justify sending his or her child away to receive an education based on humanistic philosophy instead of one that is built on Scripture and a Christian worldview.

Those proponents of “salt and light” who do recognize the educational aspect of the situation apparently maintain the assumption that their children can withstand whatever humanistic teaching they will encounter and escape unscathed. In other words, they assume that their children can sit under hours of teaching from a perspective other than the Bible, surrounded by peer influences that tempt them in the wrong direction, and not be negatively influenced by any of it.

In addition to being dangerously naive, this view contradicts such Scriptures as Luke 6:40 (“The disciple is not above his master [teacher]: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master”), Proverbs 13:20 (“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”), and 1 Corinthians 15:33 (“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners”).

I would challenge anyone to search the Scriptures and find one verse advising parents to hand the teaching of their children over to those who don’t know God or uphold His truth. As Paul declares in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” And in verse 17, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord.”

We are to be distinct from the world. There should be a separation between the world’s philosophies and methods and our own. We are not to mingle ourselves in their practices or partake in their way of life.

The command to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers is also worth noting. When Christian children are placed under the authority of unbelieving teachers, principals, and other school administrators, we would do well to ask if they are in fact unequally yoked. Certainly they often do not have the freedom to fully express their identity as followers of Christ; in that sense, they are “yoked” to those who do not share their faith, and their activity, at least in some measure, is dictated by unbelievers who are in authority over them.

Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” and Colossians 2:3 tells us that in Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In Proverbs 9:10 we again see that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”

It’s no small matter to give the education of our children to those who remove the foundation of wisdom and knowledge. Unless the proponents of “salt and light” can make a convincing scriptural case that it doesn’t matter if we allow our children to be taught from a worldview contrary to the Bible, we are already beginning to see major cracks in the foundation of their argument.

 Peer Influences

Children—indeed, all of us—have a natural propensity to do wrong. That comes naturally to us. Doing right, on the other hand, is contrary to our natural inclinations and tendencies.

When children are sent to public school as “missionaries,” they are surrounded by other young people who, by and large, are following their natural desires, thus creating the negative peer pressure we so often discuss. And since our children have a natural propensity toward wrongdoing—even if they already have their own walk with the Lord—placing them amidst this negative peer pressure for hours every day is questionable at best.

We can examine Scripture to see what the Bible says about this.

We have already noted Proverbs 13:20 (“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”) and 1 Corinthians 15:33 (“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners”). Both of these passages give strong warning to those who would willingly and knowingly allow their children to be surrounded by negative peer influences.

The influences surrounding our kids make a difference. They’re going to be impacted. We all know that in a typical scenario, kids generally tend to pull each other down, not lift each other up. Let’s go back to Proverbs 13:20 for a moment: when we pair its warning to the companion of fools with Proverbs 22:15, which tells us that “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child,” it’s easy to see why extensive peer-based socialization can be so destructive. Foolishness is bound in the hearts of children, and the companion of fools will be destroyed. Is it any wonder that we so often see children and young people making destructive life choices as a result of peer pressure?

Children are impressionable. When they are sent out alone to confront the world and interact all day with those who have a different system of values, they are placed at high risk of adopting those different values. Scripture warns us of this, and it shouldn’t be surprising when we see it occurring around us.

 Seasons of Purpose

Different seasons of life bring different opportunities, activities, and purposes. One helpful question to ask, as we examine the salt and light argument, is this: what is the purpose of childhood?

Is it to fulfill some kind of mission for the cause of Christ, or is it instead a season of preparation for later work and ministry?

Throughout the Bible, we find numerous commands and references to parents training and teaching their children (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, Deuteronomy 32:46, Proverbs 1:8, Isaiah 38:19, Joel 1:3, Ephesians 6:4). Put together, these passages form a consistent pattern throughout the whole of Scripture, emphasizing again and again the importance of parents raising their children in the ways of the Lord. The biblical model of education is always God-centered, faith-driven, and parent-directed.

At the same time, we see a profound lack of passages suggesting that children have a specific mission or calling to go outside the discipleship of their parents to reach the outside world.

Most of those who use the salt and light argument seem to assume either that their children don’t need any preparation to be missionaries in the schools, or that a few hours in church each week and perhaps a little time with Dad and Mom in the evening will be adequate to not only counteract the secular teaching in the schools, but also prepare them to be bold witnesses for Christ. And of course, children need preparation for the rest of life as well—not just their childhood years. In other words, it’s no small undertaking to raise a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The reality is that the preparation must be adequate to the task at hand. The greater the task, the greater the need for adequate preparation. And is there any greater task than sending out the next generation ready and equipped to do God’s work?

God lays out for us a model in Deuteronomy 6:6–7 when He instructs parents to teach their children His commands. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

In his article “The Christian Education Manifesto,” Israel Wayne observes of this passage, “This describes a 24/7/365 discipleship paradigm, centered on the commandments of God.”

Precisely. God apparently didn’t think an hour of Sunday School and a few minutes in the evening with Dad and Mom was adequate to prepare children to live righteous, holy lives. He commands parents here to teach their children with a diligence and constancy that most parents never come close to reaching.

We can gain more insight into this issue by considering the words of Christ Himself in relation to adults and children. Consider this contrast between two messages: Christ commanded His adult disciples to be salt and light, and sent them out to do His work. But what did He say of children? “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14). For adults, His word was “Go.” For children, His words were “Let them come.”

These words of Christ create a compelling picture and clearly illustrate the concept of different seasons of life. During the early, formative years, children are to be brought to Christ—taught about Him, nurtured in His ways, and discipled to live for Him. As adults, they are then able to go out and make a difference for Christ after that first season of preparation. Childhood is the time for coming, adulthood the time for going.

 Right Priorities

As a parent, you must ask yourself, “What is my top priority? Is it to reach someone else’s children for Christ by placing my own children’s spiritual well-being at risk, or is it to raise my children in the ways of God, discipling them to the point that they are solid, well-grounded young adults who can stand on their own?”

God didn’t give you someone else’s children. He gave you your own. That doesn’t mean we should never seek to reach out to others, but it does suggest a hierarchy of priorities. Generally speaking, our top priorities are those that are closest to us. We find this principle illustrated for us in 1 Timothy 5:8 where Paul says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” When it comes to physical provision, a man’s immediate household is his top priority. Those closest to him should command his first attention.

Similarly, Paul stipulated that a man must be able to “rule his own house” (1 Timothy 3:4–5) in order to be considered for the position of bishop or deacon in the church. Thus, before a man’s ministry could expand to include one of these positions of leadership, he first had to show the capacity to lead in his own family. Here again we see the hierarchy of priorities: attention to your own family first, expanded ministry second.

We see the same principle in the Old Testament in Genesis 18:17–19 where God is about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and decides to share His plans with Abraham. In that passage we read, “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

Here we see that Abraham’s ability to raise and train his children was a key factor that brought greater confidence from God, and was apparently even a factor in God’s promises and blessings to him. Thus, we again see that proper attention to the closest priorities came before increased responsibility and opportunity outside.

None of this means that we shouldn’t reach out beyond our own families. I’m not saying your family should be your sole focus, but your first focus. Parents who use the salt and light argument, however, are essentially saying that the needs of students in the public schools come ahead of their own children’s need for a Christian education, the intensive discipleship of their parents, and appropriate protection from negative peer influences. Biblically speaking, however, parents should place the greater emphasis on their own children’s needs and only thereafter look beyond their family to the needs around them. That is the biblical order.

 Wishful Thinking

We’ve already seen multiple reasons why the salt and light argument is contrary to biblical principles. We can also look outside Scripture to find an additional compelling reason why this argument doesn’t withstand scrutiny: generally speaking, the idea that children can be effective as salt and light in a hostile, secular environment is simply wishful thinking.

Lee Duncan, Dean of Administration for The Master’s College, wrote in his article “A Case for Christian High Education”:

Why would we expect Christian young people who are in their most impressionable time of growth to challenge mature teachers who will attack their faith? In reality, most Christian students in public schools challenge no one; they simply stay quiet and try to avoid any confrontation.

And in her article “Culture of Answers,” Jill Carattini of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, wrote the following:

A recent study on the faith and belief of today’s youth laments the growing inarticulacy of students when it comes to talking about what they believe . . . The researchers were troubled as they realized how seldom teens found opportunity to practice talking about their faith. They were astonished by the number of kids who reported that this was the first time they had been asked by an adult what they believed. One replied as if he was caught off guard, “I don’t know. No one has ever asked me that before.” (emphasis in the original)

In other words, by and large, students aren’t talking about their faith at school. It’s not happening. And as Lee Duncan points out, why would we expect them to? Why would we expect them—at such an impressionable age—to draw attention to themselves and challenge those around them when in school the supreme virtue is to do as you’re told and not cause disruption?

Consider it in another way: if the salt and light argument were solid and Christian kids were really making a difference in their schools, why have we not seen a great spiritual awakening in our public education system? Why do we instead see our church pews increasingly empty as young people continue their mass exodus from the faith? It’s not our Christian youth who are winning the world, but the world who is winning our Christian youth.

Research indicates that up to 85 percent of young people from Christian homes who attend public school end up walking away from the church by the time they graduate high school. Many parents will insist that their kids are the exception—that they can handle the unbiblical worldview and negative peer pressure and remain true to their God and strong in their faith. But is that a chance we should take? Do we want to risk that our kids will be among the 15 percent instead of the 85 percent? Sure, we’d all like to think that our kids can stand strong—that they’ll defy the norms, beat the odds, and emerge victorious on the other side. But is that really rational?

Imagine yourself the unexpected owner of a ten-million-dollar inheritance. Your financial adviser gives you the opportunity to invest the money and earn enormous dividends, but the opportunity comes with a risk. “I have to tell you,” he says, “there’s an 85 percent chance you’ll lose every penny in this investment.” Then he smiles and says, “But there’s a 15 percent chance you’ll double your money and walk away with twenty million!”

What would you decide? My guess is that you’d turn it down with a flat no and tell your broker that someone would have to be crazy to take a risk like that. And you’d be right. Why would you risk such an incredible treasure when the odds are stacked so heavily against you?

Why should it be any different with our children? God has entrusted every parent with a treasure worth far more than ten million dollars—and we’re going to invest that treasure in a risky venture, hoping we’ll be in the 15 percent instead of the 85 percent? Not with my kids. The risk must be weighed, and with the stakes so high, shouldn’t a godly caution guide our steps?

The numbers for homeschooled students are radically different. According to Dr. Brian Ray’s 2003 report “Homeschooling Grows Up,” more than 90 percent of homeschool graduates report that their religious beliefs are essentially the same as their parents’, and more than 90 percent continue to attend church on a regular basis.

Why the difference? Because Christian home education and public school are as different as night and day. When we follow a radically different process, it’s predictable that we’ll end up with a radically different result. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing.

If “salt and light” were really working as well as its proponents wish, we wouldn’t have these unfortunate statistics. We’d have churches overflowing with crowds of young people brought in by our Christian kids who are in the schools. It’s not happening.

In discussing all of this, we should also heed Jesus’s strong denunciation of those who offend children who believe in Him: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Considering the rate at which children from Christian homes are leaving the church after attending public schools, we are forced to wonder if our school system is guilty of offending untold numbers of these “little ones” who believed in Him. And what of the parents who voluntarily send their children there when valid alternatives are available? My intention is not to be judgmental, but to help us to think about what we’re doing. The risk must be weighed, and again I ask: with the stakes so high, shouldn’t a godly caution guide our steps?

We would also do well to note that the very same verse that instructs us to be salt and light also warns us that if the salt loses its saltiness, it’s good for nothing but to be thrown in the streets and trampled underfoot. Thus, we have a command and a warning given together. The warning portion, however, seems largely overlooked by the salt and light proponents. The significance of the warning is intensified when we realize again that the large majority of children from Christian homes are in fact losing their saltiness in the public schools. If parents would pay as much heed to the warning as they do the command, their perspective might change.

 Wrong Becomes Right?

One reason so many parents have difficulty answering the salt and light argument is because it appeals to Scripture. On the surface, it can look like a scriptural justification for sending Christian kids to public school. But there’s more to it than that.

We all know that we must use Scripture appropriately—that we shouldn’t take verses out of context, twist their meaning, or seek to use Scripture to justify something unscriptural. Wrong actions are still wrong actions, even if we can pull an isolated verse out of the Bible that seems to justify what we’re doing.

Let’s take an obvious example. God instructed Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28 to “be fruitful, and multiply.” He gave Noah and his sons the same command in Genesis 9:1 and repeated it six verses later in Genesis 9:7. Additionally, Psalm 127:3–5 tells us that “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them.”

Thus, from these verses we see that it’s good and appropriate for us to desire children and to consider each child a blessing from God. Now, imagine you meet a man who is pursuing numerous immoral relationships outside of marriage and who uses these Scriptures as justification. Imagine he tells you, “The Bible says to be fruitful and multiply, and that children are a reward from God. I realized that I can have more children if I don’t limit myself to only one woman. I know some people would frown on what I’m doing, but I’m just trying follow the Bible’s command to multiply and get all of God’s blessings that I can.”

Would we say that what this man is doing is fine and good because he was able to give us a few Bible verses that appear, at a quick glance, to support his case? I hardly think so. Why? Is being fruitful and multiplying suddenly wrong? Are children not a blessing? Quite the contrary. Yet we would recognize this man’s profligate lifestyle as wrong and displeasing to God, even though he gave us some Bible verses. His motives (theoretically, at least) could be perfect: he desires the blessing of more children, consistent with the Bible’s teachings. Yet his actions are still wrong because they are contrary to the message of Scripture taken as a whole, which commands moral purity.

Trying to justify sending our children to a godless environment to be educated on the basis of “salt and light” is akin to the man justifying his immoral lifestyle on the basis of being fruitful and multiplying. In either case, a biblical reason is used to justify something that contradicts the overall thrust of scriptural teaching. I repeat: the biblical model for education is always God-centered, faith-driven, and parent-directed. Remove one of those elements, and you’ve fundamentally altered the model God has given us in Scripture.

Being salt and light isn’t wrong. Exactly the opposite. But that doesn’t mean that every possible idea we could think of to allow us to be salt and light is acceptable and good in the sight of God. The message of Scripture is clear: children are to be taught and nurtured in the ways of the Lord, not the ways of the world. If a particular approach to being salt and light violates this truth, then we must reject that approach as unscriptural. Our motives may be pure, but that doesn’t make our actions right.

In short, we can’t justify doing something wrong for a “good” reason. Sending our children to a godless environment for their training and education is wrong. Plain and simple. There is absolutely no biblical basis on which to say it’s fine. To justify it with the claim that our children can be salt and light is to say that wrong has become right because something good might come from the wrong action.

 We’re in a Battle

Perhaps one of our problems is that we fail to see life as it really is—as a battleground between light and darkness, righteousness and unrighteousness, good and evil. If our goal is to simply raise children who can get a well-paying job and enjoy “the good life,” then we are likely to be far less concerned about how and what they are taught. But if we realize that our goal is to raise soldiers for Christ who can go out and make a difference in the world, the issue of our children’s training and preparation becomes far more important.

What army would send their troops to be trained in the camp of their greatest enemy? No, the people in the public schools aren’t our enemies. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). We do have a spiritual foe, and he is alive and well in our secular educational system of today.

In the realm of nations and governments, we would consider it reckless beyond belief to send our troops to be trained by the enemy. In World War II, Winston Churchill would never have considered sending the troops of England to be trained by Hitler. In the days of the Cold War, America wouldn’t have sent her soldiers to be trained by the Communists. Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing when we send our children to be taught in schools where God is excluded and a biblical worldview is ignored. The next generation of Christian soldiers is being trained, but not in the right camp.

 Whatever Remains

Sherlock Holmes, in The Sign of the Four, neatly summed up a simple reality: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Some say we have no scriptural command to home educate—in other words, there’s no chapter and verse we can point to that says public or private school is wrong and that we must teach our children at home. However, I would contend that if all the biblical principles and passages that discuss the training of children consistently uphold one model, then all other approaches are excluded—if not explicitly, then by clear implication.

In other words, if God has instructed us that children should be taught in the fear of the Lord, then we don’t need a specific command telling us that they shouldn’t be taught without the fear of the Lord—we already know how they should be taught.

If God has commanded parents to be the diligent, day-in, day-out teachers of their children, then we don’t need an explicit command not to send kids away for hours every day to be taught by someone else—we already know who their teachers are supposed to be.

If God tells us that negative peer influences are destructive, we don’t need a command telling us to give appropriate protection to our children—we already know they should be protected.

Let’s illustrate it this way. If you were to tell your children, “Be nice to the kids next door,” you wouldn’t have to explicitly and specifically forbid all of the potentially unkind things your children could do. You don’t have to tell your son not to punch the neighbor boy in the nose. You don’t have to tell your kids not to steal the neighbors’ toys, make fun of them, throw rocks at them, or any number of things they could conceivably do. All of that is excluded with the single command, “Be nice to the kids next door.”

Similarly, when God told parents to teach their children diligently in His ways, He didn’t need to specifically outline all of the ways they shouldn’t be taught. All of that was taken care of by telling us how they should be taught.

 What About the Success Stories?

There are those who will listen to all these arguments against the salt and light proposition and still maintain that children ought to be sent away to school as missionaries. In some cases, they may have seen (or even been) a Christian young person who successfully navigated the turbulent waters of the secular schools and emerged on the other side relatively unscathed. They maintained their Christian testimony, were outspoken for their faith, and perhaps even succeeded in winning classmates for Christ. These students may even argue that their experiences in a secular school strengthened them in their faith. Some then use this as justification that “salt and light” really does work after all.

Arguments from experience, however, should not be elevated to the level of Scripture. We have clear teaching from the Bible about how children should be taught. The general rule we’re seeing is that the faith of kids from Christian homes is being decimated in public school. If we encounter an occasional exception to this rule, that can hardly be considered justification for others following in their path.

If we look hard enough, we can find people willing to justify virtually anything based on their experience. There are those who argue, for example, that God led them to divorce their spouse—and that their life was better because of it—despite God’s clear declaration in Malachi 2 that He hates divorce and Jesus’s warning in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9 that “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” We cannot argue against Scripture based on our experience. Just because we see someone else ignore the warning signs, jump in the alligator-infested river, and swim successfully to the other side doesn’t mean we should follow suit. Did someone else survive? Yes. Does that make it right for us—or, for that matter, even for them? No. We must heed the instruction of Scripture more than the voices of those who would tell us of their experiences.

 Conclusion

The purpose of this article has not been to criticize or judge the motives of those who advance the salt and light argument, some of whom are sincere, godly Christian parents. Rather, my intent has been to provide a much-needed alternative perspective—one that looks at the issue not just in light of one or two Scripture verses, but that examines the overall message and thrust of the Bible as it relates to education and children.

The bottom line is this: the concept of voluntarily sending God’s children away—for any reason—to be educated in institutions where He is rejected, is utterly foreign to Scripture. If the God-centered, faith-driven, parent-directed model of education found in Scripture means anything at all, then the concept of subjecting children to secular, God-absent education is beyond any rational biblical justification. Search for a lifetime, and you will still fail to find the smallest piece of evidence that God approves of sending the children of His kingdom to the halls of humanistic learning.

It was Christ who declared that anyone who offends one of these little ones would be better off drowned in the depths of the sea. Would He now be in favor of education that leaves Him out? It was the apostle Paul who boldly asked, “What communion hath light with darkness?” and “What part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Would he now stand up and say it doesn’t matter if the children of God are taught in darkness and educated by unbelievers?

Let’s make sure we’re taking care of our first priorities first. Let’s give our children a God-centered, parent-directed education as outlined in Scripture, and then, as God leads, we can reach out to others. Just because we’re homeschoolers doesn’t mean we can’t be salt and light. And our children will be more effective in God’s service for a lifetime if they don’t lose their saltiness in their youth.

 Jonathan Lewis is a homeschool graduate, husband to Linnea, and daddy to Patrick, Timothy, and another on the way. He is one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine and enjoys writing and speaking from his perspective as a homeschool graduate. If you would like to invite Jonathan to speak to your group—or to get in touch with him for any other reason—drop him a note at jonathan@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.

Copyright 2015, Jonathan Lewis; reprinted with permission.

It’s not about Republicans vs. Democrats

redWow! What an election week. The Republican Party won control of the US Senate on Tuesday giving the GOP full control of congress making it a historic defeat for Democrats. Then yesterday, Dr. Ben Carson, famous pediatric neurosurgeon and conservative political star, announced his intention to run for President in 2016. This, in my opinion, gives conservatives the best news of the week. See news story here.

 
Do you feel a sense of hope and change coming our way? Maybe so….hopefully so….but if change comes it will have nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats.

 
My husband and I attended the Arkansas Renewal Project a few weeks ago where we were privileged to hear Bob McEwen speak. He summarized conservative politics perfectly. Here is a recap:

 
Politics equals Integrity + Economy

 
Integrity is made up of morality (not doing what is wrong) and character (doing what is right). You cannot do what is right (have character) if you are doing what is wrong (lack morality). In other words, if a politician’s reputation is that where I would not trust him in the same room with my teenage daughter, then I should not trust him to run our country.

 
When it comes to economy a look at history will teach us that greater freedom always equals greater wealth and that greater government always equals greater poverty. This is without exception.

 
The above seems simple enough and certainly intelligent enough. So, you might question why is there such a split in our country. When we break it all down is boils down to only two worldviews.

 

• Either man is in charge or God is in charge
• Either man is good or man is evil
• Either rights come from groups or God is our source of rights

 
This is why I say that the state of our country has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans, but has everything to do with a humanistic worldview vs. a biblical worldview.

 
If man is good, then murder can’t be his fault. It must be the gun so we need to regulate gun control. If man is good then his environment is responsible for his behavior. Therefore if the youth are having premarital sex and children are born out of wedlock it is because we do not educate the youth enough on birth control or pass out enough condoms in the schools. And we could go on and on, throwing out personal responsibility and replacing it with blame.

 
But, if man is evil (as the Holy Scriptures states) then murder is sin against God and man is personally responsible for it (and will held accountable) whether he uses a gun, knife, sword, rope, bomb, or abortion doctor.

 
If man is in charge then our rights come from the group (women’s rights, minority rights, black rights, elderly rights, Hispanic rights, homosexual rights, etc.). And because man is good – group rights are good.

 
But, if God is in charge, He alone is the source of our rights and we all stand as individuals before our Creator. Our Founding Fathers understood this when they wrote:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men.

Man did not institute government. Government is instituted by God. “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God,” Romans 13:1. Man does not give the people rights, our rights come from our Creator.

Now, notice in the order of rights that life is listed first. Liberty is of little value if you are dead. This is why the abortion issue is so important. Those with a humanistic worldview ignores the fact that God is in charge, that man is evil, and that God gives us our rights. Because God is in charge He will judge mankind and His Word declares that “hands that shed innocent blood” are an abomination to Him (Proverbs 6:16-17).

This is how these two worldviews apply in politics:

Those that have a humanistic worldview will always want more government, more taxes, weak defense and diverse lifestyles.

Those that have a biblical worldview will always want less government, fewer taxes, a strong defense, and traditional family values. (Notice the theme of freedom –liberty- here.)

Why is this? Because the two view diametrically oppose each other. Those with a humanistic worldview believe that man is good and man is in charge. They have no fear of God (Romans 3:18) and do not believe they will be held accountable for their actions. Because they have no fear of God, they do not have wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). Decisions are therefore based on self or the flesh – in other words, humanistic (Romans 8:8).

Those with a biblical worldview understand that mankind is evil and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and that there is no one who is righteous (Romans 3:10). Our only hope is in the righteous of Jesus Christ. And understanding that God is the one in charge, we hold to His standards of right and wrong.

I agree that since the elections there seems to be a sense of hope that our country is moving in the right direction. But, let me assure you that our hope does not rest on the Republicans, or any man for that matter. The only hope for change in this country is that the hearts of men turn to God. As the old hymn states, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness!” And as the psalmist proclaims, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man,” Psalm 118:8.

Here is where I want to say, “God bless you all and God bless America!”  But, instead let me end with not asking for blessings but that we will be a blessing.  May each and every one of us who claim the name of Christ become a blessing to God, our Father and may America shine with the light of the gospel  and be a blessing to Him and His Holy name.

SAHM – My family! My choice!

Anerican-dreamYesterday during a speech in Rhode Island, President Obama claimed that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) is not a choice we want American mothers making. What a funny comment from a man who hangs his hat on women’s choice, especially the right of women to choose the murder of innocent babies in the womb.

Sometimes, someone, usually Mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result,” he said. “That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.

We can all hope that it was a slip of the tongue or part of a speech taken out of context. But, one look at the agenda of the progressive left leaves little doubt that he meant exactly what he said.
• It’s not about women’s rights.
• It’s not about better day care.
• It’s not about lower wages for women.

 
It never has been with the left. It’s about expansion of the government. All which leads to the fragmentation of families, indoctrination of children and a push toward complete dependency on the government.

 
But I digressed; let’s get back to a woman’s choice…
There is still an attitude toward women who choose to stay at home of, “Oh how nice to be able to stay at home and not work” as though these families are independently wealthy and don’t need two incomes. The idea that being a SAHM is a rare privilege for a few fortunate is insulting. My husband and I made the choice for me to become a stay at home mom 18 years ago when our first child was born. That choice was not easy and we have made many sacrifices to make sure I could be at home. During this time my husband has worked extremely hard to provide for us, often working two jobs. He has done this in the middle of spending 7 years in college and seminary. Eighteen years ago I started a home business that I successfully ran for 8 years. We sold it so that I could devote more time to homeschooling (another sacrifice we chose to make). I have spent the last 5 years researching, writing, building a self-publishing business and marketing my books – all at home. This year, while pastoring and teaching online classes, my husband started another business which alone takes about 60 hours a week of his time. We certainly didn’t choose this lifestyle because we thought it would be easy. We chose for me to be a stay-at-home-mom because we knew it was best for our family. We knew that I could do a much better job at raising my children than anyone else. We knew that the sacrifices could never compare to the blessings.

So, Mr. President, would you really like to help the families of America? Do you really believe in women’s right to choose? Do you really want what is best for our country?
Here are some thoughts….

  • Why don’t we work to lower the ever increasing tax burden so that husbands’ paychecks could reach further allowing moms to stay at home? Between federal income taxes, state, county and city taxes, social security, property taxes, and sales taxes a working husbands pay is cut nearly 50%.
  • Why don’t we stop with all the regulations and stay out of health care? Here’s an idea – stop taxing people who already can’t afford insurance for not having it. Because we all know how sensible that is, right?
  • Why don’t we stay out of the way of small business so employers can have the discretion and ability to pay their hard working employees more? Stop regulating them to death and let them thrive. Small businesses ran by American families is part of the reason we are blessed with such a great country.
  • Why don’t we start enforcing laws and punish those who come into our country illegally instead of giving them our hard earned money. Stop rewarding the law breakers with free health care and government assistance.
  • Why don’t we stop pushing for the enrollment of 6 million American children into preschool? Instead, elevate a mother’s choice and once again appreciate the value that mothers have in raising their own children. The President might not want stay at home moms, but I can promise you that American’s children do! They want their mothers. They need their mothers. It doesn’t and never has taken a village to raise a child.

Election Day is 4 days away. I will choose to vote for those who hold these same values. What about you?

When Leaders Fall….and what we can learn from them

leaders The subject line read Another Homeschool Tragedy. As I opened the email my heart grieved. Similar to other stories reported over the past year, it contained scandalous news involving a local homeschool father/spiritual leader. A man has fallen into sin. Families are torn up. Lives are devastated. Ministries are tarnished. The testimony and integrity of Christians are questioned. And, the homeschool community faces shame and disgrace.

Opinions will always abound when scandals surface. Some will throw rocks at the accused. Others will call for grace. Some will claim that it was inevitable. Other will say they cannot believe it happened. But placing opinions aside, there are things we can learn when those in leadership fall. After all, did not God give us examples in His Word of men and women who fell into sin in order that we can learn from them?

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

No doubt there are just as many examples of people doing wrong than right in the Bible. Keeping this in mind, there are at least four principles we can learn when considering this subject. As the old adage goes, a wise man will learn from the mistakes of others; an ordinary person will learn from his own; a fool will learn from neither.

Do Not Believe Everything You Hear

The first principle is something that we should already understand. It is not wise to accept at face value everything we hear second hand. We should certainly not believe every word we read on the internet. In this information age of blogging, social media and online news, the internet is to gossip as fuel is to fire.

As a pastor, my husband counsels with many couples. Occasionally he will ask me to sit in on the sessions. Something that I have gained from this experience is that almost always there are three sides to every story – his, hers, and the right one. If this is true of face to face conversations, how much more should we be cautious of news traveling online?

Negative news loves to spread, especially when it involves Christian people. The world is looking for a reason to criticize our faith. This is why a standard of living is so meticulously laid out for the church in Titus 2. God’s children are to look and live differently than the world with three reasons mentioned specifically in this passage. The first reason is so that the Word of God will “not be blasphemed” (verse 5). Another is that those who are “of the contrary part my may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say,” (verse 8). And finally, so that others “may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things,” (verse 10). We are to live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” Titus 2:12. Unfortunately, Christians do not always do so.

Believers need to walk circumspectly. We also need to speak with caution and be careful with our accusations especially when it involves a spiritual leader. On the other hand, we do not want to be guilty of hiding or covering up sins to the determent of others. Often, people will downplay the reality of what is happening or ignore it all together in fear that Christianity will look bad. When leaders fall into sin there is a warning in Scripture toward both ends. “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear,” 1 Timothy 5:19-20. This is, of course, in context of a local assembly.

When we hear news of scandal it is good to remember to not believe everything we hear. Also, when people fall into sin, note that it rarely helps to take those sins and magnify them before the world. Unless you are directly involved in the situation, often the best response is none at all. Silence is never misquoted.

Let it Serve as a Reminder

Since the beginning of time pride has caused sin, ruin, and heartache for mankind. It was Satan’s pride that caused his fall (Isaiah 14:12-14). Eve was tempted with pride when the serpent tricked her into believing that she would become as a god, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:5). Our Lord was tempted with pride in the wilderness (Matthew 4:5-7). We are warned in I John 2:16 about the “pride of life”. Pride is such a stumbling block that one of the qualifications to be a pastor or elder is that he must not be a novice, “…lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil,” I Timothy 3:6.

How many times have we heard of a man preach or teach against the very sin that he ends up falling into? (Being transparent here, how many times have I lectured my children about sin in their life to only have the same sin rear its ugly head in my life.) Pride tells us that we are untouchable. Pride dismisses accountability. Pride elevates man and pushes God far away. So given the warning of pride, when we hear of leaders falling into sin let it serve as a reminder to remain humble ourselves. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” 1 Corinthians 10:12. The truth is that none of us are immune to sin. In fact, it is that very moment we begin to think that we are immune when we are at the highest risk of falling.

People are people; nothing more. It is pride that tries to make more of man than he is. But lest we forget, God is God and nothing less. When we grasp this concept the pride in our lives become detestable and we are left in humility before the One who discerns of the thoughts and intents of our heart.

Understand Healthy Emulation

Romans 12:3 warns, “to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” We fall into danger of temptation when man is elevated too high and no doubt this can become a problem. On the other hand, we see in scripture the concept of healthy emulation. God places people in our lives as examples to follow. Christians should imitate those of noble character. The Apostle Paul spoke to the church in Corinth saying, “wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me,” 1 Corinthians 4:16. To the Jewish believers he said to be, “followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises,” Hebrews 6:12. Speaking of pastors and elders, Paul wrote, “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation,” Hebrews 13:7. We are to look to our leaders, consider their behavior, and follow their example. This is healthy emulation. The Apostle John gives the same instruction in his third epistle stating that we are not to follow after evil, but that which is good (3 John 1:11). In other words, imitate those who do good things.

There is a balance. Extreme tenets almost always lead to problems. I have known those who will put a man or ministry on a pedestal, but then jump to the other extreme (complete disregard for any man or any ministry) when that man falls. I believe that we can find that balance in the local assembly, which brings us to the next point.

Recognizing the Importance of the Local Assembly

The problem I see with online ministries and parachurch organizations is that while they do good works for the Kingdom, if we are not careful these organizations can easily become a surrogate for the local assembly. When the intimacy of the local assembly is replaced with a general or broad application, accountability is no longer possible. You see, the local assembly is not an organization, but an organism – a living body.

Consider Paul’s instructions to the Philippians. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you,” Philippians 4:9. Paul had already told the Philippians in 3:17 to be followers of him, now he reminds them again. Do the things that you have not only learned, received and heard from me, but also those things that you have personally seen in me. Paul practiced what he preached and those in Philippi could verify his words because they had seen the way he lived. It is hard to follow someone solely based on their bio. This is why the local assembly is important for healthy emulation. We need to witness the walk of those we look to for examples.

I certainly do not want to discount all works and resources outside the local assembly. That would be foolish. Many ministries provide valid support for believers. Many organizations and leaders greatly influence others in the Christian community. I am thankful for the wealth of books and tools that are available for Christians and the homeschool community. These resources have personally brought value to my life over the years. I have written books to the Christian community as well as the homeschool community. But the bottom line is that while books can be a great resource, they are no substitute for the Word of God. And just as resources are no substitute for God’s Word, ministries or organizations should not be a substitute for the local assembly.

Thousands upon thousands of men and women are faithfully and silently serving the Lord. They are placed in our churches as examples to follow. There are spiritual leaders who set a good example to follow, families who are living out godly principals, and parents that are bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Look to the local fellowship for support. Personally know those who you follow. Be an example for others to follow. And welcome accountability that can only come from a local fellowship of believers.

News of scandal brings concern and uncertainty to our community. But like all things, good can come from it. When news travels remember to not believe everything you hear. Let it serve as a reminder to stay humble before the Lord. Understand the importance of healthy emulation and the need for the local assembly.

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves,” 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13.

Noah – And the Last Days **MOVIE REVIEW**

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People stormed the theaters last weekend to see the new film, The Son of God. As money poured in ($26 million to be exact) during opening weekend, Hollywood once again witnessed that movies with Christian themes are profitable. This is regardless to whether or not they are true and accurate.

Later this month, Russell Crowe’s new movie, “Noah” hits theaters and no doubt a flood of money will pour down as well. But, many Christians are concerned with the bizarre and unusually way in which the story of Noah is expected to be depicted. After reviewing a rough cut of the film, two close friends of AiG voiced concerns. Here are just a few:

• Noah repeatedly tells his family that they were the last generation and were never to procreate. So when his daughter-in-law becomes pregnant, he vows to murder his own grandchild. But he finally has a change of heart.

• Noah’s family only consists of his wife, three sons, and one daughter-in-law, contrary to the Bible.

• “Rocks” (that seem to be fallen angels) build the Ark with Noah!

• A wounded Tubal-Cain axes his way inside the Ark in only about ten minutes and then hides inside.

Hollywood loves to take poetic license with Christian based films and this is just one example. (Read the whole review here.)

But, Hollywood is not the only one who is re-telling the story of Noah. On the same day Noah comes to theaters, Living Waters is releasing their own story of Noah called  Noah – And the Last Days. But there are sizeable differences between the two. Ray Comfort, Founder and President of Living Waters, says, “Theirs is a fake Noah; ours is the real thing.” Another difference is that Living Waters is releasing their version on YouTube for free. One is to entertain and make money. The other has an entirely different motivation.

I watched Noah – And the Last Days today. The format is similar to Living Waters other projects like “180” and “Evolution vs. God”. Ray starts off with the question, “Do you believe in the man named Noah, like in the Bible?” Then he asks, “Do you think that God sent a flood and drowned the whole world?” The film links the true account of Noah to the end times, as Christ did in Luke 17:26-27. “As in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.” Giving ten clear signs of the last days, this film is very relevant to the 21st century.

My Thoughts

Noah – And the Last Days was encouraging in that it strengthened my faith. The reminder that we are indeed living in the last days is exciting! As one pastor use to say, “It is getting gloriously dark!” But, it was also a great reminder that as a Christian there is a lot to do. The story of Noah is the story of God’s righteous judgment on mankind. And God will once again judge. “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men,” 2 Corinthians 5:11a. I could not help but be burdened for the souls of the lost while watching the interviews. And to think that there are millions more just like them all around us – in my neighborhood, at the store where I buy groceries, in the parks, across the street, in our churches – is sobering!

But, the story of Noah is also a story of God’s mercy. And this is where it gets even more exciting! The good news is that God is still extending His great mercy! And this film clearly presents that good news, the gospel. So not only does it inspire Christians, it helps to equip us to share the gospel. I highly recommend that you watch it and share it with others.

Here Is What You Can Do

For the price of just 2 movie tickets you can pre-buy the download version of Noah – And the Last Days. By doing this it helps Living Waters recoup their cost, as well as underwrite the cost of producing the actual DVS. Remember this is an outreach project. Their motivation is not money, but getting the gospel out. When you purchase the download you also get a free downloadable Companion Guide containing further evidence for the Ark and the worldwide Flood, plus a special message by Ken Ham, “Creation and the Last Days”. Then on March 28th, they will release the movie on YouTube for free and make it available on DVD.

For $8.00 you can also purchase 100 Noah tracts to hand out, which I plan on doing. You can see it here. Whatever you do, get the word out. Share this with your friends, post links on social media, and let’s take advantage of this tool to help reach the dying world!  Time is short!

Ken Ham – Digging Deep

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The debate continues to rage over evolution verses creation. A conservative estimate is that over 5 million viewers watched the Bill Nye and Ken Ham debate last Tuesday, including a house full of friends at our home. (If you haven’t seen it yet please go watch it here.)

So much has already been said about the debate. And that, I believe, was the point. People are talking, the subject is making the news, students, teachers, friends, family members, and church leaders are asking questions. “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?” But even more significant than this, the gospel was preached to millions.

About the Debate

While watching the debate one passage of scripture came to mind more than any other.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished,” 2 Peter 3:3-6.

At one point in the debate Nye asked Ham, “What is it that you can predict? What can you provide us that can tell us something about the future?” I found that interesting. My prediction long before the debate was that 2 Peter 3:3-6 would come to pass that every night. It was clear that Bill Nye, the modern day scoffer, deliberately overlooked the fact of creation and the world wide flood even when presented with truth.

One very pivotal point of the debate was when Ham asked Nye what purpose he had in life if evolution were true. The answer is, of course, nothing – no purpose, no meaning, no joy of discovery. Life is pointless from Nye’s point of view.

So What’s Next?

In 2010 I heard Ken Ham give the commencement address at Tennessee Temple University. His message from Genesis 26 was about the need to dig wells. Go read the passage…

…go ahead, I will wait.

It is an amazing story. You see, the Philistines of our generation have stopped the wells using public education, secular colleges, the media, Hollywood, false preachers, teachers, and pretenders. They have filled the wells with lies. In the process they have attempted to eradicate God’s Word and stop the flow of life giving water. That day Dr. Ham charged the audience to go out into the world and, like Isaac, re-dig the wells that have been stopped.

(Let me encourage you to read my blog post about it here and his mention of it here.)

Now that the public debate is over, what are we to do? What comes next for Christians? Simply put, we need to re-dig. We need to take back ground that was once lost. We need to push back and speak up, because the Christian life is not pointless. It has meaning and purpose. We have a mission to accomplish, a gospel to preach, and the truth to proclaim. One bit of dirt that is used to fill the wells is the teaching of evolution as fact. Thousands of children and young adults are indoctrinated with the lie of evolution in our public schools and secular universities. The agenda is to weaken faith in God and promote humanistic religion. (Read more about that here, or watch what top evolutionary scientists have to say here.) Christians can and should re-dig in this area.

Not only are we to re-dig stopped up wells, but we are to be about building new ones. Jesus said, “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” John 4:14.

The building of new wells can only be accomplished through the gospel – a truth that Ken Ham certainly understood the night of the debate.

When the Sun Comes Out

sun When we were in South Mississippi we lived in a home that was surrounded by acres and acres of National Forrest. During the summer months, after the children went to bed my husband and I would love to take evening swims. In the darkness of the night we would look into the heavens at the thousands of stars shining so bright. The contrast of the stars against the blanket of darkness was striking. This is how I picture the Christian’s life. We let our light shine before men in an extremely dark world.

It is certainly dark times. Today’s headlines, like all others, include stories of war, scandals, terrorism, and murder. One story that depicts the nature of our world in such a clear fashion is this one. A Chinese baby boy is rescued alive after being flushed away. I am a mother. The thought of a mom giving birth to a child and then being able to take that child and flush it down the toilet as human waste or garbage is inconceivable. I can’t even comprehend the cruel heart that could do such a thing, other than the fact that we are told in Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9) and that one of the characteristic of the ungodly is being “without natural affection” (Rom 1:31, 2 Tim 3:3).

So these gloriously dark times are grand opportunities to shine.

Look at how Daniel describes the wise. “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever,” Daniel 12:3.

That right! You are a star!

At least those with heavenly wisdom, who point others to God, shine as stars in the darkness!

But what happens to the stars when the sun comes out?

They fade away.

John the Baptist understood this concept. He said, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” John 3:30.

Our purpose as light in the darkness has never been to point others to ourselves. We don’t shine for our glory. We point others to God, for His glory. Jesus told his disciples, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

We shine in this dark world so that others are pointed to our heavenly Father. But one glorious day, the Son whose “countenance was as the sun,” (Rev 1:16) will return and all darkness will be driven away for all eternity.

Until that day, dear Christian friend, keep shinning!