Friday, March 6, 2015

Preach a text or preach a topic?

Year after year we hear report that our churches are in decline.  Some try every program on the market, spending thousands of dollars on the latest church trend/fad.  But I think the problem is much more simple than an overhauling program.  I believe we have the solution in our possession.  Most of us have multiple copies in different translations and languages.  It is God's Word. 

What has happened is that many have abandoned relying on the power of the preached Word of God.  They claim to trust the Word, but they deny that claim by preaching topic driven, pragmatic, 'relevant' sermons that seek to entertain as oppose to exhort and admonish. 
While it can at times be appropriate to preach a sermon addressing a particular topic, this should certainly not be the norm.  Even when done it should be done in a manner that takes an honest approach to the proper text.

If we desire to develop healthy disciples and healthy churches we must seek to preach the text.  You may ask, ‘but doesn’t that equate to the same thing?  If I preach a text, will that text not contain a topic?’  The answer is yes and no.  Yes, each text has a meaning.  If you want to call that a topic I suppose that would acceptable.  However, there is a difference between preaching a text and a topic.  Preaching a text allows the testimony of Scripture to dictate the topic.  Preaching a topic allows you, the preacher, to be in control of the topic.

Many Southern Baptist Preachers have drifted away from the rich practice of selecting a text and spending our pulpit time in unfolding that topic.  It is far more beneficial to unfold a text of Scripture than it is to persistently select topics.  In Luke 24, after Christ had vanished from the sight of the disciples He had been walking with on the road they realized who He was and then they make a remarkable comment on what He had been saying to them.      “They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”” (Luke 24:32 ESV) 

What produced that burning in their hearts?  The Scriptures!  Opening up the Scriptures!  We must endeavor, the Holy Spirit, to do the same thing. 

With that in mind, and without any further digression, speaking to the Southern Baptist custom of expository preaching, let me share with you “Advantages of Having a Text” taken from "Preparation and Delivery of Sermons” by John Broadus (Broadus, John. Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, New (Twenty-fifth) Edition, p. 21-23)

“Taking a text is an old and well established custom from which there seems to be no good reason for departing; especially as the change would be sure to prove distasteful or even painful to many worthy and devout hearers of preaching.  Moreover, the custom is founded in excellent reason, and has marked advantages.

It is manifest that to take a text gives a tone of sacredness to the discourse.  But more than this is true.  The primary idea is that the discourse is a development of the text, an explanation, illustration, application of its teachings.  Our business is to teach God’s word.  And although we may often discuss subjects, and aspects of subjects, which are not presented in precisely that form by any passage of Scripture, yet the fundamental conception should be habitually retained, that we are about to set forth what the text contains.  When circumstances determine the subject to be treated, and we have to look for a text, one can almost always be found which will have some real, though it be a general relation to the subject.  If there be rare cases in which it is otherwise, it will then be better to have no text than one with which the subject has only a fanciful or forced connection.

There are several advantages in regularly taking a text.

1.)  It constantly recalls the fact just mentioned, that our understanding is not to guide the people by our own wisdom, but to impart to them the teaching of God in His Word.  This fact enables us to speak with confidence, and leads the people to recognize the authority of what we say.

2.)  If the text is well chosen, it awakens interest at the outset. 

3.)  It often aids the hearer in remembering the train of thought, having this effect wherever the sermon is really evolved from the text.

4.)  It affords opportunity of explaining and impressing some passage of Scripture.

5.)  It tends to prevent our wandering utterly away from Scriptural topics and views.

6.)  Greater variety will be gained than if the mind were left altogether to the suggestion of circumstances for then it will often fall back into its old ruts; and this variety is attained just in proportion as one restricts himself to the specific thought of each particular text.

Objections to the use of texts have commonly arisen from one of two or three causes.  The grievous laxity in the interpretation of texts which has so widely prevailed, leads some men to regard the employment of them as wrong or useless.  This is the old story – the abuse of a thing causing men to question the propriety of its use.  Again, persons who have little or no true reverence for Scripture, or appreciation of its riches, speak of the text as a restriction upon freedom of thought and flow of eloquence.  Thus Voltaire: “It were to be wished that Bourdaloue in banishing from the pulpit the bad taste which disgraced it, had also banished the custom of preaching on a text.  Indeed, to speak long on a quotation of a line or two, to exhaust one’s self in subjecting a whole discourse to the control of this line, seems a trifling labor, little worthy of the dignity of the ministry.  The text becomes a sort of motto, or rather enigma, which the discourse develops.”1  It seems plain that the sneer arose partly from the torturing interpretation so often witnessed, and chiefly from the critic’s want of reverence for the Bible, and ignorance of the preacher’s true relation to the Bible.  And perhaps, as a third ground of objection to texts, some able and devout preachers, disliking expository and even textual preaching, and wishing that every sermon should be a philosophical discussion or an elaborate discourse upon a definite topic, incline to regard the custom of always taking a text as an inconvenient restriction.  Such appears to have been the feeling of Vinet.

It is sometimes not unsuitable to have two text, or even more.  Thus with Heb. Ix. 22, “And without shedding of blood is no remission,” there might be united I John i. 7, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  Or with Isa. Vi. 3, “The whole earth is full of His glory,” ma be taken Psa. Lxxii. 19, “And let the whole earth be filled with His glory;” to angelic eyes it is so – the human mind can only pray that it may be so. (Comp. Hab. Ii. 14.)  Spurgeon has a sermon on the words, “I have sinned,” as occurring seven times in the Bible, and gives interesting views of the different circumstances and states of mind in which they were uttered. 2”

1 Voltaire, Age of  Louis XIV. Quoted by Vinet, Hom., p. 99.
2 Amer. Ed. Of Spurgeon’s Sermons, Third Series, p. 241

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

7 Ways to Ruin VBS

Vacation Bible School season may seem like a distant dream; however, the curriculum for this year is already in and in just 5½ short months we’ll find ourselves once again serving the children of this church and community with our VBS ministry.  Our goal, of course, each year is to have a successful VBS.  What makes it successful is that, in all we do, to seek to glorify God in our efforts (1 Cor. 10:31).  There are ways to ruin VBS though, I thought of seven.  Read these and consider them as you now prepare your hearts for VBS and before long we’ll be making preparations to receive whatever children God sends our way.

1.) Treat the children harshly
(See Proverbs 15:1; Romans 2:4)

It is no secret that I am not a fan of large and uncontrolled crowds.  Few things send my irritation alarms off quicker!  Some of you may share those idiosyncrasies as well, and VBS can be one of those situations that peaks those alarms in you too.  Children have a way of finding the right buttons to push and then they don’t just push them, they smash them!  But we must remember our goal is to show them Christ.  That doesn’t mean allowing chaos!  Certainly not!  It does mean that as we set down rules and parameters for what is expected that week that we see our interactions with them as having tremendous Gospel significance.  When tempted to speak harshly over an action of insolence, remember the Gospel.  Remember, that your frustration with them over their disobedience is nothing compared to the justified anger God could have held to you over yours against Him.  Yet, Romans 2:4 reminds us that it is the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance; His kindness to send Christ to die in our place so that we could be forgiven.  Think on His kindness to you and how others, even children, need that kindness shown to them as well. 

2.) Forget that they are children and expect them to be tiny adults
(See Proverbs 22:6; 1 Corinthians 13:11)

First, I am an advocate for helping our children grow into responsible adults.  There is a fine balance between remembering they are a child and so they should enjoy the things children do at the same time remember the goal of childhood is preparation for adulthood ultimately.  I am also no fan of the ‘kids will be kids mentality’ as a way of excusing disobedience, however, it does EXPLAIN the behavior.  We are to train up children in THE WAY.  We are to point them to Christ, but we have to remember that they cannot think like adults yet because they aren’t adults.  They think like children, they reason like children, they behave like children; so show them the Gospel and the beauty of Christ and encourage them to follow Him.  Explain that their disobedience comes from their hearts and it reveals that their hearts are in need of the forgiveness that only Jesus can provide!  They won’t see that through the teeth of our frustrations but through the gentleness of our responses.

3.) Don’t prepare ahead of time
(See 2 Timothy 2:15)

If you know now that you are going to volunteer for VBS service this year then you should start preparing your heart now.  You cannot expect them to see Christ in you if you are not seeking the Spirit’s guidance to bear fruit in your that would show Christ to them.  If you call me over to see your dead rose bush and you spend your time explaining how beautiful the roses are that it produces, I will have a hard time believing that anything of value comes from that dead plant.  I need to SEE it.  Further, if you are going to be teaching in any way, start preparing your heart to teach by studying the Scriptural truths for yourself before you even begin going through the outline of the lesson in the material.  I was so encouraged to hear from Bro. Richard Dennis at our Men’s Breakfast as he spoke, at our table, about how he prepares for a Sunday School lesson.  Be diligent to study the word and prepare your heart and mind to be engaged with the Word and by the Spirit impart that passion to those children.

4.) Do VBS to grow the children’s ministry numerically
(See 1 Corinthians 10:31)

It seems that these days many denominations are in a contest to see who can boast the highest numbers.  This most clearly reveals itself in things like boasting of worship attendance, youth ministry numbers, or VBS attendees and decisions.  But the goal of any ministry cannot be to boost the numbers of children (and likely that is so that there is a boost in the number of families).  It isn’t that desiring numbers is necessarily bad; it isn’t that growth is bad.  However, our goal must be to proclaim the Gospel to these children.  We are to do all things unto God’s glory.  That’s the goal.  We ‘put on’ VBS for 5 or 50 (or 500 – yikes!) for exactly the same reason, to glorify God through the proclaiming of His truth to children and hopefully their families.  If we let the numbers become the focus then we will be likely to lessen passion with which we approach each year as we will likely be frustrated or disappointed by participants who don’t turn into to prospects and eventual members.

5.) Assume VBS is only for the benefit of the children
(See Matthew 6:19-21; 1 Corinthians 9:24-25; Galatians 6:8-10)

We all receive delight in serving these children, but there is reward to be had for you as well.  The Bible speaks about storing up treasures in Heaven.  As you serve and find yourself tired or frustrated, remember why you serve, for God’s glory so that you can store up treasures in Heaven that one day you will lay humbly at His feet in praise of His glorious Name!  Don’t get so busy serving that you forget that the Lord intends to not only bless the children with what you teach and show them, but also you as you learn to trust Him and glorify Him in your service.  He will sustain your joy!

6.) Dumb down the message and assume they don’t understand
(See Psalm 19:7; Romans 7:7-25)

I’ve heard it said before that children only need to hear about God’s love because they don’t understand sin.  Well to that I say, if we don’t labor to explain sin to them they will never understand.  We must teach both about sin and God’s love.  God’s love in sending Christ is robbed of its impact when the reason for it is omitted.  You can explain to a child what sin is in a way that they will understand.  And as they grow they will eventually be able to understand why sin is so serious an offense against God and just how remarkable God’s love is for sending the Lord Jesus to save them from their sin.  You can’t make them make the leap between knowing what sin is on an intellectual level and understanding it in their heart, that is the Spirit’s job, but you can give them the knowledge from God’s Word and trust God to save.  They can understand more than we give them credit for, all too often the problem is that we don’t labor to find Biblical ways to explain it to them in a way they can comprehend.

7.) Push decisions over discipleship
(Jonah 2:9; Psalm 3:8; Matthew 28:19-20)

Just as true as it is that we do not do VBS to grow numerically in attendees, we also do not do it to boast numbers of conversions. Sure we all want conversions!  We ALL want to see those children come to repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ! We want them soundly saved!  But we have to remember that salvation is of the Lord, we are called to proclaim the Gospel, plant the seed so to speak, and make disciples.  We make disciples from those the Lord saves. If getting my children to repeat a few words was the way to get them saved then the first sentence I would have taught them as babies would have been “Lord save me”, but their prayer to God to save them must come from the heart, not simply repeating what we tell them they need to say. Is it not an equally wonderful reason to rejoice over one soul saved as it is 100?  Certainly yes! Is it not comforting to know that the Lord’s Word never returns void but always accomplishes that which He sends it to do?  Sure it is!  So rest in those truths and preach on trusting the Lord to bless your efforts in His time and in His way.

Submit your ideas for "ways to ruin VBS" in the comments section below and don't forget to re-post this article if you found it Biblical and helpful!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Prayer for Duncanville...

"The noise amongst the dry bones waxed louder and louder; all other talk but about spiritual and eternal things, was soon thrown by; all the conversation, in all companies and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people carrying on their ordinary secular business." Jonathan Edwards on the Northampton revival from 1740-1742.

My deepest groaning prayer for Duncanville that God would grant such an awakening here. But it will not happen so long as ministers keep silent the Gospel in their pulpits. Edwards thundered out the Gospel of grace and impressed upon his audience their dire need for repentance and God moved on that region!  God responded by sending a true revival to that and surrounding areas.

We reduce revivals down to something we schedule... something we plan... as if God works on our time table and permissions.  We limit revivals down to one week as if to put God to the test and say 'revive us during this week or we are going back to our lukewarm state!'

How heartbreaking... we must exhaust a great many prayers to the Lord for revival and that begins not with a scheduled week long emphasis, but in the hearts of those who feel they need the least reviving.

A Prayer for Duncanville:

Lord Jesus Christ, from whom comes all who are appointed any authority in this world.

We gather in Your Name and humbly ask that you grant heavenly wisdom in all our discussions and in all our decisions.

Lead us to lay aside self-interest, prejudice, and partial affection so that Your Name is glorified and Your will is sought for our city.

As we pray for the members of this body, its officers, and all who share in its labors, we remember that you have appointed them with their authority and ask that you give them strong leadership and to the people of Duncanville that we receive a peaceable spirit that is willing to be led by those given charge over us.

Give us your peace and refresh us in our weariness, that this may be a day in which much good is done.  For those who are in You, grant them strength and endurance.  For those who reject You we pray you lead them to the foot of the cross for salvation.

Let our every breath honor you now and forever.  In Your Name we pray these things.  Amen.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Responding to Ferguson...

Because I've been asked several times now what my thoughts were on Ferguson I decided to shoot off just a quick blog post to address it.  This article is not intended to prove one side's guilt or innocence.  It IS hopefully going to help you think a bit more Biblically through this and any issue.

I.) The truth will likely never come out -

It is a sad reality but the truth will likely never come out.  What happened that day?  Was he surrendering to the police?  Were his hands up?  Did he charge the officer and make an attempt to get his gun?  What were the full details?  Ready for this... I don't know, and neither do you.  We weren't there and it is ridiculous for you and I to speculate based on what we see on our social media feed.  That doesn't mean that those charged with upholding the law should not seek justice and it does not mean that those affected should not seek answers.  We should just know ahead of time that this is a possibility and for those of us who are largely unaffected personally by these events, we should keep it mind that in forming our opinions we may not be forming them based on fact but fiction fed by the media.

2.)  Vengeance belongs to the Lord - 

Vengeance belongs to the Lord.  The rioting response to this is equally wrong.  Many who were not even involved will now and are now suffering as a result either from being the targets of looters or as innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of a tense situation. 
That does NOT at all mean that we should not seek justice.  Those who are peacefully protesting have that right and I encourage it.  Peaceful demonstrations and the urging for of justice through those situations can be extremely helpful when the demonstrating party maintains their resolve to seek justice in a peaceful manner even in the face of hostile opposition to their protests.  Looting and rioting only feeds the stereotype.  All those involved with this are doing is giving those who hold prejudice and bias attitudes a reason to congratulate and justify themselves when they stereotype someone of a different color.

3.) Racism is a sin on either side - 

Racism is a sin.  It is a sin for a "white person" to hold that view towards a person of another color as sure as it is in reverse.  I live in a very diverse area of the Dallas/ Fort Worth metroplex and I see examples of racism coming from all skin colors on all sides almost daily.  It is sad.  It is dangerous.  It is sinful.  Moreover, it is the illustration of man's sinful depravity.  Romans 1 says that it is when man considers himself wise that he becomes foolish.  There is one race.  Yes, you heard me clearly, there is only one race on this planet.  The human race.  To make a distinction between the human race based on skin color or geographical origin is not only sinful it is foolish.

God created but 2 people in the beginning; Adam and Eve.  That was it.  He did not create a "white" Adam and Eve, a "black' Adam and Eve, a "Hispanic" Adam and Eve and so on.  From them were all the nations of this world birthed.  Racism is a sin because it is hating your neighbor or your distant distant relative if you want to look at it that way.

4.) Before you open your mouth, don't -

I have thought long and hard on whether or not to say anything about this in a social media form.  I realize it opens me up for criticism from both sides.  I am not doing this for pats on the back.  I was raised by parents who taught me not to see color in the derogatory sense, my wife and I endeavor to raise our children that way.  Ferguson brings the sobering reality that not everyone was raised that way, not everyone raises their children that way, and my children will have to engage in thinking through these things just like I have had to unfortunately.  I say that to say, before you open your mouth to say something about this issue, please think long about it.  If you are reacting to the media drivel you probably have little to say that is worth saying.  Do not become a source for misinformation dissemination.   Don't blindly regurgitate everything the media feeds you.  They have an agenda on one side or the other.  Don't think for a moment that there aren't parties on both sides of the issue who are only concerned with advancing their agenda and exploit a families grief and loss to accomplish it, they do not care.  Those are the sources you will hear from on the nightly news.  Be very weary of them.  Remember news stations win awards and ratings based on volume of viewers and fast response to breaking stories, not on accuracy and integrity in reporting.  You are a consumer and they feed you what you want.

5.) A man has died -

A man has died.  Michael Brown has died.  Whether he provoked the shooting or was a victim of racial profiling is irrelevant at the end of the day when we get to the root of it that a man has died.  If he was guilty in the situation and you want to celebrate "justice"  I would first ask you to consider what you define as justice, but second I would submit that a life has ended.  While execution (and this was not an execution regardless) has to happen in the course of justice and we celebrate justice, we must keep it in a right focus remembering that a life was ended.  He has died and now when the next big story comes along and the media vans drive away, the family still has to feel this pain and live through this pain forever.  Let's say a video is produced tomorrow that shows the whole thing and Michael Brown is clearly the aggressor and the Officer is vindicated, it is not like the family will see the video and then say, 'well we are sorry he's dead but he had it coming'.  NO!  They will grieve and hurt regardless.  The media wants you to be desensitized to the human element of this story but before you speak on it remember that there are real families involved and real feelings being experienced and your words should be tapered with that in mind.

6.) A man's life is over - 

No, not a repetition of the previous post for emphasis, but the officer involved, whatever his reasons were for shooting, he made the choice to end a man's life.  I have spoken with Police Officers and soldiers who have had to make that decision to pull the trigger and they have all without fail said that they feel that decision almost every day of their lives.  Even if this Officer is cold-hearted and doesn't care about what he did, his family and loved ones will be impacted whether they agreed with his actions or not.  Again, justified for what he did or not, this will have repercussions on him forever.  His career and life to a degree are over.  Yes, he still has his physical life unlike the deceased, but at what value will he have that?  He will always have to live in fear of retaliation. I am not in any way comparing the pain him and his family feel to that of Michael Brown's, of course not, I am merely pointing out again that everyone involved in this is real humans with real pain felt.

8.) Pray for the family, pray for justice -

While we sit back and wait to see how this plays out we, as Christians, need to be concerned with praying for chiefly the pain of the family for the loss of their loved one.  They are hurting and will not even be able to start the real work of grieving until some of this passes over.  The real hurt of this will start when the media and looting and other noise stops.  Pray for them.  Pray that there will be people in their life at that point to point them towards Christ who is the only source of real comfort and hope in these and all situations.  Pray that they figure out how to live life through the pain that will never ever fully go away.

My point is that Christians should be the most careful in their responses to this and any similar issues.  Let's focus on talking about and thinking through the facts that we DO know about the case and avoid jumping on the bandwagon of speculation with Fox News or CNN.  

Pray for peace in that community and the Nation at large.  Pray for the individuals involved in this and its resolution in any way and pray for their families.  Pray that God awaken our Nation to the sinfulness of sin and foolishness of man.  Pray for God to raise up faithful Christians in Ferguson who will share the sin-forgiving, life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ with the residents of that community. That and only that will bring the changes that we so badly desire to see in Ferguson and anywhere else.

Your comments will be allowed, I moderate all before approving their posting.  If what you have to say is inflammatory or derogatory in any way it will not be posted, sorry.  Please be sure that what you have to say adds to the discussion or just keep it to yourself.  The last thing we need is more fuel on the fire of an already tragic and tense situation.

***A word to the family of Michael Brown.***

In the highly unlikely event that my little blog should reach the eyes of the Michael Brown family.  Please know that no matter what the circumstances were, this was still the tragic loss of a life.  A life that was dearly loved by his family and friends I'm certain.   A life that will be sorely missed for years and years to come.  I am praying for you.  I am praying that during the times when the tears seem to flow endlessly and the pain seems unbearable that you will lean all the harder upon the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.  No one will better comfort you in your despair than He.  In that light, should this somehow reach you, I would like to offer to send you a gift in hopes it will help aid you in the process of grieving.  Please feel free to contact me through the comments on this blog or by email faithbcpastor @

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Radio Interview on G220 Radio with Ricky Gantz

I was recently honored to be invited onto the G220 Podcast Radio program to discuss 2 previous blog articles.  Embedded below is the audio from that interview.  My portion starts around 30 minutes in but the whole program is very very good.

The articles discussed were:
- Whatever Happened to Hannah Montana?
- Do you want to build a worldview?

Check Out Christianity Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with G220 Radio on BlogTalkRadio with G220 Radio on BlogTalkRadio

 -- In case the embedded player below does not work correctly, here is the link to the page.

Friday, April 25, 2014

10 Truths We MUST Teach Our Sons

A few months ago I read a great blog article entitled "Seven Things We Must Tell Our Daughters."  It was so helpful to me as a Father of 2 daughters.  As I've thought through that article since then it occurred to me that the reason every generation of young women has increasing struggles with a healthy body image, self-respect, and purity is partially, if not near fully, due to males refusing to be men.

Sadly we are living in a culture that is embracing males who refuse to be men.  A generation where males are believing it acceptable to act like teenagers well into their 40's and the women they chase romantically are supposed to lower their standards and accept it as well.

So as a Father with a son of my own I am thinking through how I can raise him to be a real man.  One who is ready to lead his generation towards Christ and not conformity to this world.
Please know I do not consider myself perfect nor do I have any lofty ideas that I will do this without mistakes.  But prayerfully with God's guidance when I do fail I will demonstrate repentance to my son so that he learns even from my sinful shortcomings.

Here are 10 suggestions for truths that we must teach our sons to raise a generation of men, not boys.  These are not intended as a comprehensive list.  Feel free to comment with any you may have that are not on the list and I may include them in future updates to this article.

10 Truths We Must Teach Our Sons

1.) You are valuable

You have value simply because you have been created by God.  No matter what standard the world holds up as criteria for the worth of a man, don’t buy into it.  Even still you have a God-given value and as your father I will help you to see that value so that in turn you glorify God for it and grow to understand what it means to be a real man one day.

2.) Your ‘manliness’ is not determined by the bench press

Physical strength has value in both your physical health and ability to protect others.  However, you are not the sum total of your muscles.  You are not less of a man if you can’t track and kill an animal bare handed, build a car from scratch, and bench press a small train.  You may or may not be able to do any of those things.  You may be able to do many other things.  Real men commit to love God and love/protect their family above themselves.  My prayer is that you always see this modeled in me.

3.) You don’t NEED a girl

Not right away at least.  Take advantage of the time of your childhood and youth to learn what it means to be a Godly man as it relates to your relationship with a woman.  Use your pre-adult life to learn what you need to be to one day be a great husband and father.  God’s Word defines both of these things.  Seek out His truths as your treasure.  You do not learn how to be a husband by dating around and making emotional attachments with girl after girl.  Furthermore your singleness is not a bad thing.  If you are not ready to pursue marriage, you are not ready to have a girlfriend.  Your job as a man is to protect the heart of any woman you know.  From the friendships you develop through that, God will send you a wife who will be the delight of your heart.  I have that delight with your mother and I pray that you see that in the way I treat her. Beginning with your mother and sisters, the girls who you form friendships with in life, on to the woman that you will one day marry and the daughters you may have of your own in the future; strive to protect their hearts.  As your buddies go through relationship after relationship and heartache after heartache, just remember, if you are not prepared to love, care for, and sacrifice your life for her you aren’t ready to marry her.  You must be able to choose to love her the way that Christ chose to love you.

4.) You are ‘cool’ just as you are

This is not intended to inflate your ego or anything and it isn’t to make you believe you aren’t sinful and in need of Christ.  Rather I want you to know that ‘cool’ is not defined by popularity, athletics, or even academics.  You being satisfied and pursuing a life that pleases God is all you need to concern yourself with.  At many times that very thing will be the most ‘uncool’ thing you can do according to your peers.  I am not going to be more proud of you for being the star quarterback or straight A student than I am with you simply being who God made you to be; a young man who loves Christ and seeks to put away the sinful flesh in order to pursue Him more.

5.) ‘Boys will be boys’ is a terrible lie!
Of course boys will be boys in the genetic sense.  Boys are born boys and will remain males for their whole lives.  You must know that excusing ‘youthful indiscretion’ with the cliché that it’s ok because boys just do those sorts of things is unacceptable.  Hear me clearly that the lust of the flesh and crass crude behavior is a natural but not okay.  It is a temptation from Satan that men are prone to give in to all too easily.  You must resolve early on to wage war against those desires now.  Go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you apply His Word and to strengthen you.  Ask Him to protect your mind, eyes, and heart and keep them pure and undefiled.  ‘Boys will be boys’ cannot and will not be used as an escape in my house nor will it be tolerated as acceptable and you will cripple your development into manhood if you buy into this destructive lie.

6.) Your eyes are to desire your wife, not every woman you see

Related to the previous truth, the world will tell you that it is ok to look and lust after any woman you see and find desirable.  This is a lie.  Jesus has said that to look with lust is equal to having committed adultery with her.  You’ve sinned in your heart against God and her in doing so.  While the temptation is common and normal, it is not who God made you to be.  Though portrayed otherwise in most media, women are NOT lesser creatures to men.  They do not exist to fulfill your lustful desires.  You must train your mind to view women as God’s beautiful creation, not a source of lust, no matter how much skin she may be showing off.  It is ok to find a woman attractive and admire the beauty God has given her, but you must be very careful to guard your heart that it goes no further for any woman who is not your wife.  You need to understand that there is great beauty in a woman of modesty, not immodesty.

7.) Love your Mother

I will not always be around.  I will age and one day die just as everyone in this world does.  God has given me a son because you are to protect the family in my absence.  I hope that you see in me that I love your mother deeply.  When I am loving your mother as God has called me to, you will see modeled there how you are to love your wife one day.  I hope that I am training you to do that well and when you fail to do it, as I often do, I hope that you see me repenting and learn repentance yourself.  If you cannot love your mother and sisters, you cannot love a wife.  I will commit to teach you how to love showing you what that looks like.

8.) You have talents and abilities that God has given you

You have talents and abilities and gifts that God has given specifically to you.  He intends for you to use those to glorify Him with them.  If you aren’t using them to His glory you are in danger of sinning.  Pursue those talents with an eye on the cross.  Seek God for wisdom to distinguish between Godly desires and uses for those talents verses worldly ones.

9.) Follow Christ, not the world

Be courageous in the face of opposition of those who would have you go the way of the condemned.  The Bible says that it is the wise that walk in the way of the Lord.  It is he who walks in the way of the Lord who is blessed.  Do not waste your life walking with the fool in their folly.  As you decide what to do and what not to do, filter all of your decisions through Scripture and bathe them in prayer.  Seek counsel from me and other Godly men in your life.  Put not value on the wisdom of fools who do not love Christ.  They will lead you astray.  There is one passion and one alone worth living your life for and it is Christ.

10.) I love you

I love you.  I make it my goal to tell you, your mother, and sisters that on a daily basis.  You are not less of a man for being able to say ‘I love you’ to someone that you love.  I hope I model that for you.  I want you to hear that I love you because as you grow and feel turned away by this friend or that or experience disappointment I want echoing in your mind that no matter what, I will always love you.  More than that, you must remember that God loves you.  No matter how hard life gets remember God loves you and desires you to trust Him, not the world.  I want you to know that I will always be there for you whether we are celebrating your successes or crying together over failures or talking through your mistakes to learn valuable lessons.  I will always love you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Do you want to build a worldview?

With the success of Disney’s most recent princess tale “Frozen” much discussion has been swirling about since its release concerning the overtones and themes hidden in the message of the movie.  One camp says that, though admittedly unintentional, the movie teaches several Biblically supportable principles. 

For example: The older sister, Elsa, contains her powers and ignores that she even has them until one day through a series of events she unleashes them on the kingdom and quickly ushers the entire land into a winter that is only reversible by her.  She then runs away and sings the now world famous song “Let It Go”, the ballad of her breaking free from the years of oppression and now she is just letting go and doing with her power what she wants.  What does she come to realize?  Spoiler alert: She comes to realize that though in her ballad she sang “no right, no wrong, no rules for me” that sort of behavior only brought about trials and misery for all those who looked to her for care. 

Additionally it isolated her from the rest of society.  Interestingly enough, the Bible teaches that there actually is a law, God’s Law, and it is written on the hearts of all mankind (Romans 1). If we violate that Law we are indeed sinning against God as well as our sin has effects on those around us who trust us or, in some cases, who look to us for provision and protection.  We would love to be able to say that there is no right, no wrong, and no rules that we follow but that is moral relativism that ultimately makes truth a subjective matter that leaves a true adherent to that worldview in total chaos.

The Bible also makes plain that there is absolute truth, God (Genesis 1:1).  When Jesus declares that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life He effectively closes the door on the validity to any other worldview that opposes that which is revealed in the Christian Bible.

Secondly, absent from “Frozen” but present in nearly every other Disney film is the theme of following one’s heart.  Disney has made billions of dollars selling the lie to our children that to find happiness and fulfillment all one must do is follow their heart.  While Frozen falls woefully short of labeling it dead in sin, it does imply that our hearts can be difficult to change and what is needed is love.  While I am certain that Disney’s definition of the love needed is quite different than the Bible’s, I find it interesting that they are sending this message.

Thirdly, Disney’s Frozen ultimately sends the message that what was needed was not the true love of a love at first sight romance that is usually so obvious in all of Disney’s princess films, (spoiler alert) rather it was the unconditional love of a sibling.  If we are to draw a parallel there to Biblical truth we might say that Anna, the younger sister, is the archetypal Jesus who we see loves her sister though her sister consistently rejects her and pushes her away.  Just as Jesus pursues us though in our sin we reject Him; His love never fails.  Ultimately it is the Anna who is willing to sacrifice her own life so that Elsa’s is spared.  Seems I’ve seen that act on a eternally grander scale somewhere before... Ephesians 2:1-0; Romans 5:1-10

None of those themes were in there for the benefit of the Christian community I assure you. It is not Disney’s hopes that people will repent and turn to Christ as a result of their film, so please do not begin to write your “Frozen” Bible studies because Lifeway, Family Christian, and Mardel are sure to snap them up and get them on the shelves quickly if you do... the next Christian publishing goldmine?

But if you, like my family, saw the movie and enjoyed it these might be some great themes to discuss with your children after the fact.

On the other side of the issue we have the not so hidden agenda of the homosexual community.  They would have us believe that the ballad “Let It Go” is ultimately a song about ending homosexual discrimination.  According to that view it is said that the message of the movie is that people need to learn to love their homosexual family/friends regardless of the consequences that their life choice may have on others.  Let me be clear when I say that Christians are called to love others period.  We do not have to agree with a person's behavior and choices and we may label some of those things (such as homosexuality) as sin.  However, the most loving thing you can do for a person is be truthful with them.  Not accepting homosexuality as natural and normal is not automatically equal to being intolerant or unloving.  If that is the theme of the movie there is a problem.  As pointed out above Elsa comes to realize that letting go and living with no rules is actually not helpful at all but very harmful indeed.

All of this coming to the forefront of the media due to a recent interview given by some of the song-writers who were hired by Disney to write for the film.  (Source story : )

The claim is that Disney does not allow God to be mentioned in any of their films and prefers for His Name not to even be mentioned at all in any form.  Some Christians are upset over this but I, for one, am thankful for it.

I do not need, nor do I desire, Disney to teach me or my family theology.  In fact, I am very glad that they keep their hands off of it.  Much harm has already been done to the doctrines held by many through films and other media that teach horrible theology as it is.  If Disney teaches me a principle through their media and uniquely labels it as God's truth and it happens to be false, then they are guilty of blasphemy and leading others to idolatry.  It is better Disney stick with their secular moralism than try and teach something that they are woefully unqualified and incapable of teaching, namely Biblical truth.  All the while Christians ought to remain prayerfully hopeful that not only those associated with Disney but that all who are lost and dead in sin would be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Even in the examples cited above of the Biblical truth parallels contained in Frozen, upon further dissection many of them break apart because as I mentioned it was not Disney’s intent to teach Biblical morals or truth through the film but rather to provide entertainment to the masses of moms and dads who would flock to the theaters with their daughters for one more princess film.

In the end, whether you go to watch Disney’s film or any secular media for that matter is more or less a matter of conscience.  Something that you must work out by examining what the Scriptures say about how Christians are to conduct themselves.  If you do go to see these sorts of films, please... please... I beg of you... do not go home thinking that now you’ve found the golden key for teaching your family Biblical truth.  You haven’t, because it is not contained in a Disney (or any other) film. The theology built on Disney film teaching or any other secular medium will fair no better than Olaf in summer.

If you have the Bible, you have the key to teaching your family truth and explaining to them the Gospel and their need for Jesus Christ.  Open the Scriptures with your family and explore them together.  It is God’s prescribed means for spreading the truth about Himself in this world.

[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

[5] Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
(Proverbs 30:5 ESV) 

(In case you didn't see the movie, the title of this article is a play on the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" featured in Disney's Frozen.)

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