Last Sunday in a sermon I shared details about the downfall of a megachurch pastor by the name of Mark Driscoll, a household name among many in the evangelical community. In my research I turned to comments by John Piper in a post titled “Do You Regret Partnering with Mark Driscoll?”. In that blog post were valuable lessons John wanted to pass along regarding Mark’s fall, lessons that are Christ-exalting and supremely beneficial for all Christians but especially pastors who might have been envious of Mark’s meteoric rise to fame. One of those lessons from John was this one: “Fifth lesson. I think there is a lesson here about money and salaries of pastors. I think it is a huge mistake to view pastors as corporate executives with huge salaries in the two, three four, five, six, seven eight hundred thousand dollar range. That, to me, is a clear danger signal that the elders and the pastor have their heart in the wrong place. I don’t know Mark Driscoll’s salary, but I think the corporate mindset was too prominent and so the warning to us stands.”
Or, Is the Factual Evidence of Christ’s Resurrection Enough to Keep Your Faith in Him Solid to the End?
The recent HBO documentary “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Unbelief” exposes the dark side of a cult that uses blackmail (according to the author of the book, Lawrence Wright) to keep its members in line and faithful to the church. Its two most famous members are John Travolta and Tom Cruise who, according to an article in the Washington Post, have revealed to the church their deepest and darkest secrets in a procedure called an audit. Those audits are not only recorded but the auditor takes copious notes of the interviews and keeps them on file for future reference should such a member, like the two mentioned above, ever decide to leave the church.
On January 12, 2015, Garland County Sheriff’s Deputies and DPS entered Hal and Michelle Stanley’s home, demanding that Hal and Michelle wait outside in the cold while they searched the house and talked to the children. There were reportedly at least 30 people, including a SWAT team, Arkansas State Troopers, a coroner, a doctor, a dozen cars, a medical van, and a sniper (see more details at medicalkidnap.com) in a ditch allegedly aiming at the parents on the front porch to search for a mineral supplement that has not been approved by the FDA called MMS or Miracle Mineral Supplement. Supposedly this is such a dangerous supplement that if found in a home, it would be cause to remove all the children from the home without any explanation, warning, or charge, and to keep these children in foster care for an indefinite period of time . . . or so goes the reasoning behind the Human Services agents and their department. Sounds a lot like Justina Pelletier’s nightmare all over again. According to Hal, he was the only one in the family taking the supplement orally and says that the main use of it was as a water purifier for the water they used to hydrate their vegetable garden.
“What did you say?” I asked my 2 year old grandson Wyatt. “A cheerful heart is good medcin,” he replied using his normal dual syllable abbreviation for the word medicine as he quoted Proverbs 17:22. God only knows how much understanding a two-year-old can grasp of these words that passed through his lips. My guess is a lot more than we think, although Wyatt’s idea of medicine is pretty broad, even broad enough to call my daily dose of Vibe (liquid vitamins) his medcin as well. Nevertheless, I am convinced he does know that medicine helps make us feel better and he knows also what a cheerful heart is. Too bad more adults can’t grasp the simplicity of that profound wisdom and apply it to their hearts as well as a two-year-old can, but, that’s what this post is attempting to correct for the faithful few who may read this.
It’s been a tough week for my normally cheerful heart. I received a very insightful letter from a close friend who outlined several stressors in his life that were weighing him down and pressing him towards depression. He admitted that his melancholy is also influenced by the lack of sunshine, a factor we can all relate to in these dark days of winter. (I wonder how the Inuit Indians deal with depression when their winter deprives them of sunshine almost 24 hours a day!) He ended his letter with many positive things he had going in his life that were like lifelines to his soul, pulling him in the opposite direction away from his melancholy. I too want to highlight lifelines for your soul to grab onto in this post but first, a few more reasons why my normally cheerful heart is needing, now more than ever, a huge dose of Hallmark feel-good movies. Perhaps a marathon weekend of “Sarah Plain and Tall” is in order.
Jen Wilkin, who blogs at jenwilkin.blogspot.com, wrote a post in the TGC (The Gospel Coalition) website with the title above WHEN DAD DOESN’T DISCIPLE THE KIDS. All in all, it is a helpful post addressing a very common and critical problem facing godly mothers whose husbands are taking a back seat to the single most important responsibility a father has, which is to raise their sons and daughters in the discipline and instruction of the Lord according to Ephesians 6:4. Single moms and moms with unbelieving husbands have no other alternative but to take this responsibility upon themselves, she writes in her post, but the mom with a believing husband who is abdicating his responsibility puts the mom in a delicate position. Does she pray and wait for the husband to initiate the discipleship (I assume that is what she means when she says she is torn between wanting to honor her spouse and wanting to spiritually educate her children) or does she usurp his role and go it alone? Tough choices, I agree. In the end she opts for option two, using the analogy of a derelict crossing guard who is irresponsibly reclining in her lawn chair responding to an Instagram while children need her to stop traffic and get them safely across the street. If that should happen, she (Jen) would assume the role of the crossing guard and take over, making sure her children arrive safely to the other side, using the rationale that she reports to a higher authority than the crossing guard and so must usurp the crossing guards authority in that situation. Applying this to an irresponsible father who is not extending the figurative protective flag of his authority at the dinner table to have family worship, a godly mother must go it alone.
Hey moms, want to drive yourself insane? Or at least become depressed? Then strive to raise the perfect child! I mean it. Make it your life’s ambition to do everything you can to give your child the perfect upbringing so that everyone will acknowledge that you have the “perfect child”. You think I’m kidding don’t you? I’ve listened in to a few conversations lately among you young mothers and have observed a phenomenon that is new, at least new since my mother raised me and I and my most lovely wife raised ours (although I must admit, it was starting to rear its ugly head even then). It is the obsessive need to be the perfect parent intent on raising the perfect child. This is also evidenced by the necessity to enroll children in every possible activity to give them every advantage they can possibly have to “get ahead”. Normal playtime has to be structured playtime. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Extra-curricular activities are now year-round with many overlapping one another. Hockey camps and volleyball camps are mandatory for a 3 year-old if they want any chance at all of qualifying in middle school. Am I wrong?
Making the choice at Cornerstone to become a family integrated church was the most foolish decision we could have made in the short run, for it indeed was costly, but it was the wisest decision we ever made in the long run. Here are 5 reasons why we are glad we did and will never go back and why you will be glad you took the time to look for a family integrated church near you to worship with.
- Generational Faith Transmission. Family-integrated churches, or age-integrated churches as we sometimes call ourselves, have a significantly higher success rate at transmitting our faith to the next generation. The statistics are piling in from every source. The typical neo-traditional church (by neo-traditional we mean the typical church today that has adopted the concept of age-segregated ministries including junior church, Sunday schools, youth groups and separate children’s ministries on Wednesday nights, traditions that are actually new or neo, since the 1950’s but absent from the church for the first 1800 years plus) is failing to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation to hold onto the faith of our fathers. Thom Rainer in his book, The Bridger Generation, posts these statistics: Among the Builder generation (1910-1945) in America, 65% attend an evangelical church, and among the Boomer generation, (1946-1964) only 38% attend, and among the Busters (1965-1976) only 16% and finally among the Bridgers (1977-1994) only 4% attend church. That’s the big picture showing Christianity will be extinct in our nation in another 20-30 years unless God brings a dramatic revival. As we fine tune our statistics to ask “why?” as Ken Ham and Britt Beemer did in their survey of twenty-somethings who used to attend church in the book Already Gone, we find that the evangelical church is losing upwards of 90% of our youth to the culture (45% in junior high, another 45% in senior high and the final 10% in college) because, wait, hold your breath, because of traditional Sunday School. In short, the traditional Sunday School curriculum has failed to give the students credible evidence that Genesis 1 is trustworthy and when biology teachers and professors give more credible evidence for evolution than what they have heard, students are drawn to this atheistic/humanistic worldview and drawn away from a Christian worldview.
On Monday, September 29th, 2014, Canon Andrew White, known as the Vicar of Baghdad, wrote on his Facebook page that ISIS was just 5 miles from his present location and that the city of Baghdad was filled with foreboding. The Vicar of Baghdad sent an SOS from the besieged Iraqi capital Monday and warned that the murderous Islamic State militants were breathing down their necks. Writing on his Facebook page he says, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. We need you.” Pastor Andrew White is the pastor of the last Anglican church in Iraq and also heads the British-based charity Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Pastor Andrew asked his body guard and the soldiers who were serving as his protective detail if they would stay and fight if the ISIS soldiers got too close. Their response was that they would take off their uniforms and run. You can read the full report here.
This seems to be the strategy that many churches across the country are taking to take the woman out of the man who has been feminized by the contemporary American church and American style Christianity. I can’t disagree that most churches in America cater to the female crowd both in music styles (the lyrics of many songs are crossover love songs) and preaching (it’s much too soft) and consequently more and more men feel that they are not welcome in the pews and so stay away. Or even worse, they do come and are further feminized even more than what the culture has already done to them, the culture that constantly encourages them to be wearing panties instead of pants. Do you doubt my conclusions? How many churches do you know that post signs on their doors “Guns Are Banned on These Premises” compared to churches that expect most of their men to be licensed to conceal and carry and prefer they do, carry that is.
How Should Christians Respond When the Supreme Court Votes In Favor of the Constitutionality of Same Sex Marriages?
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will be meeting behind closed doors beginning on September 29th for the purpose of discussing petitions from five states concerning their ban on same sex marriages (see full report here http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/09/justices-to-meet-behind-closed-doors-to-discuss-gay-marriage-cases/) . They are doing this because three federal appeals courts have struck down the ban on same sex marriages that the states of Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin and the peoples within those states have voted to place within their state constitutions. At first, this seems like an overzealous judicial minority (these appeal courts have only three judges on each) trying to overturn the will of the majority of the people, and imposing their politically correct view upon the unlearned masses, making their vote to define marriage meaningless. Some would say this is because these justices are mostly Democrat appointed justices and hence might be predisposed to vote in ways similar to the Democratic Party Platform, a platform that has become less and less friendly to the concept of protecting traditional marriage as we know it. That may well be true.
But, it is not as simple as that. In fact, it’s actually quite complicated, both for these appeal court judges and for the Supreme Court justices. For example, one could say it is a matter for the states to decide and leave it there. This makes initial sense since every state has the authority to decide who is allowed to be married in their state, as each states minimum age laws for marriage serves as an example. But, it used to be the law in many states that two people of different races (for the record, there is only one race, the human race, with only one skin color which is brown in various shades) were not allowed to marry and if they did they could be arrested and spend time in jail. Those state laws were rightfully overturned by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia in 1967, which may have been an overreach of federal power as many would argue it violated the 10th Amendment which states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”