Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Atheists are Winning

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary, hosts a daily radio show. He always begins the show with commentary on current events. On 23 Jan 07 (Click here to listen), he discussed what a couple of secular people had written about Richard Dawkins' book, The God Delusion. One of those people is confirmed atheist Dr. Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate and professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Texas. He writes a critique of Dawkins' book in the The Times of London, stating the book didn't need to be written. Why not? ...because the atheists are already winning. The rationale he uses is that "Americans may look religious, may look like they believe in God, but when you actually peel back the surface and start to scratch underneath, you'll discover they don't know much about any belief in God." He also states, "Americans may claim to be Christians, but they have virtually no idea of what Christianity really is. Although most Americans may be sure of the value of religion, as far as I can tell, they're not very certain about the truth of what their own religion teaches." Mohler asks a question of himself, "What's my response to that?" His answer? "All too true."

As a dad, this is incredibly frightening in its implications, both for the world my children will enter as well as for their own souls. It is especially so since it is an observation from someone "outside the camp."

We have a "Christian" society (hey...some huge percentage identifies themselves that way) that is functionally atheist. They don't know Christian doctrine. They don't read their Bibles. They don't evangelize the lost. They don't live lives conformed to the commands of Scripture. They have a societally-based Christianity that adds the Christian faith to their secular world as one more separate piece. There are no absolutes. Multiculturalism and "diversity" reign in everything from schools to work to the marketplace. Absolute truth is nonexistent. Emotions and feelings rule the day, with a therapeutic worldview governing all our problems. problem. Divorce...hey, I have a right to be happy! Fornication...oh, that's such a judgmental word!'s only another kind of love! Exalting motherhood...that's SO patriarchal! Women in the military and dying on the battlefield...hey, there's no difference! And on and on. Sadly, many of these ideas and thoughts are present even in most evangelical circles.

This is the world into which our children will where the only acceptable intolerance is toward a Bible-believing Christian, which is what we are hoping our children will be. Will they be ready for the onslaught? Will they be able to stand? Will they be a faithful witness to their Lord and Savior? Not unless they have been soundly saved and faithfully discipled before they go....

And what of their own souls? If the statistics are correct, 3 of 4 or 4 of 5 (depending on study) of our children will turn from their faith as young adults. If that happens, what good was all else that was done in childhood? The sports, the recreation, the academics, the vacations, the awards, the accolades... not an iota of any of it matters, because your child's soul is bound for hell. They MUST be discipled. You MUST be in their lives, teaching them the Word and living it before them. Your life MUST NOT show your faith as only a moral code. You MUST show them Christ in you! They MUST see a faith that is REAL, that causes you as the Dad (and the Mom) to form a family that honors and reveres the Word of God, living according to God's principles, precepts, patterns, and commands. (Here's one way to live it out.) They have to see it in action; otherwise, their finely-tuned "hypocrite detectors" will quickly see that your faith is a sham. That will set them up for any other system of thought that comes along once they are out of your home. They, too, will become a "Christian" who doesn't know Christ, and will ultimately hear those horrendous words from Jesus as they perish (see post on what it means to "perish"), "Depart from Me for I never knew you."

So now you're asking, "How?"


Read your Bible in consistent quiet time. Pray Bible verses for your family and for each member by name. Expect God to answer those prayers according to the promises of His Word.

Apologize sincerely for not leading in devotions/worship previously. (I heard a statistic recently that Barna said less than 1 in 20 evangelical dads have ever led their family in devotions/worship!)

Read the Scriptures with your children, no matter how old...even if they roll their eyes and are sullen. Start with a "practical" book...say James, for example. Discuss what God is saying, (and then live it yourself!)

Have family worship, to include prayer...and maybe singing, if possible.

Don't give up. Do it every day; over the phone if you are traveling. Make it a priority in the day. Make it a family habit that is missed by all if skipped.

Do you want to help turn back the functional atheist tide? Do you want to start to lead your family? This is the place to start....

My prayer is for myself and for all dads who read this, that we will take up this challenge for the sake of our families and for the sake of the Gospel....

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I was listening to the radio program of Kevin Swanson, the head of the Colorado Homeschool Association, as he interviewed Steve Maxwell on preparing sons to be single-income breadwinners. (Audio can be downloaded here, if you want to hear the whole program.) During that talk, Maxwell had a wonderful insight that applies to all of us, regardless of age or gender.

He said (paraphrased), "If our joy comes from entertainment, our joy is limited by income. But if our joy comes from serving others, we have the potential for a lifetime of joy."

I had never thought of it that way. But look at the truths embodied there. If our joy is in our stuff, or in our fun, or in our recreation, or in our travels, we can only have joy until the money runs out. So for many, you can have joy for two weeks of vacation a year or maybe for a time at Christmas when more stuff is accumulated along with the debt to pay for it! Now, how sad is that?!

But if we find our joy in serving others, there doesn't have to be money involved! The only thing necessary is us...and some time. As long as we have breath, we can serve others in some capacity, and if we have come to realize that service creates joy, then we have the ability to have joy throughout our entire lives.

So let's take it a bit farther and look at the implications:

1) If we are stepping out of the American Disney Rat Race for a life of joy in serving others in the Name of Christ, what does that say about us and more importantly, about the Lord we serve? What kind of witness do we have? I dare say...a HUGE witness! But one thing's for sure, it would take conviction...a conviction that our culture is absolutely wrong about where to find LASTING joy...and courage...courage to buck the culture (even the church culture) that would try to drag us back at every turn.

2) How much money is saved if we aren't spending it on stuff and entertainment that never seems to provide that lasting joy? What if it were spent on becoming debt-free? Or even better, on advancing the Kingdom of Christ? How much money would be freed up just in a few families alone? It's mind-boggling.

3) What would happen if we were to teach our children to find their joy in service instead of chasing Madison-Avenue-created "needs?" Would debt ever be the crippling issue it is for so many young adults? No. Would they (especially the young men) possibly have enough money to buy their first house debt-free at a very young age? Before you scoff: That's what both of the Maxwell sons did at age 21! Imagine the gift they bring to their marriage by providing their wife a home with no debt! Wow.

4) By serving others as ambassadors of Christ, we spread the Kingdom and bring Him glory... and we get joy. We would be doing the will of God, and we would find rest for our souls in the process.

This is a worthy idea, not just for each of us as parents, but as something we should seriously consider implementing in our lives so we are living examples as we teach our children the joy of service. We will all be better for it, for we would loose the chains of bondage to the next vacation or to the next trinket. Our children will be better for it because they will avoid that bondage altogether, learning from a young age where to find true and lasting joy: In our Heavenly Father and in His service. And because we are Christians, God will be glorified in our joy-seeking.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Discipling at Its Most Basic

The fundamental purpose of this blog is to consider ideas about raising one's children in a manner where they are discipled as growing members of the body of Christ. I've written a lot about education, about social issues, about family unity, etc...but one thing I've neglected to write about (until now) is arguably the most important foundational principle: prayer.

Very little else will matter if we as dads are not on our knees in prayer for our entire family, interceding before the Throne of Grace for their souls, for their lives, for their growth in holiness, for their purity, for their protection from the world and its ways.... (not an exhaustive list, by any means).

So how do we do that? Our pastor always starts out the New Year with a sermon on prayer. (Should you want to listen to it, it can be found here.) This year our church offered a book with two sets of writings by John Bunyan regarding prayer. The first chapter alone is worth its weight in gold!

Bunyan defines true prayer as, "A sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God."

He then spends the rest of the chapter taking this apart. I hope to summarize that here.

Prayer that isn't sincere isn't heard by God. A sincere prayer comes from deep within the soul, encompassing the deepest of emotions and affections.

Prayer that is sensible is one that isn't "...a few babbling, prating, complimentary expressions...." but rather one that has a sense of mercy, either in the want of mercy, the gratefulness of mercy received, or of the readiness of God to give mercy.

Prayer that is affectionate is one that shows a deep longing for the things of God.

There is a pouring out of the heart or soul in that one's very life and strength are laid bare toward God.

Of course, this prayer must be to God and "...sees nothing substantial, and worth the looking after, but God."

Prayer absolutely must be through Christ, for otherwise it is simply eloquent speech.

Hand in hand with prayer being through Christ is by the strength or assistance of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit isn't involved, it isn't reaching the ears of the Father.

Prayer MUST be for such things as God has promised. It has to fall within the "compass of God's Word" or it is at best vain babbling or possibly even blaspheme. I was listening to a sermon by John MacArthur where he dealt with this point. He advocated not using the phrase, "I pray this in Jesus' Name. Amen" but rather something to the effect of, "I pray this, believing that is the will of God in Christ. Amen" He said to put that phrase to the test. One quickly realizes that many of the things we pray for are questionable when it comes to the will of God.

Prayer MUST be for the good of the Church. Obviously God cares tremendously for the Church, for it is the bride of His Son purchased by the precious blood of the Son, Himself! Prayer needs to build up and purify the bride.

Prayer submits to the will of God. This is similar to the point above regarding for such things as God has promised. True prayer understands that our finite minds may not be able to make requests that are in line with God's will, so we will humbly and happily live with His answers...even if they aren't in line with our desires.

So consider how you pray for your children. How is your heart as you approach the Throne of Grace? Are you in Christ? Is the Spirit taking your prayers to the Father? Are you praying for such things as God has promised for your children? You must be in the Word to know what those things are! You can't just pray for the things of this world and for your own thoughts, hopes, and desires, thinking they line up with God's. Remember that your children are only on loan to you and God's primary desire involves their salvation and their sanctification. That is where your prayers should be centered. Beyond that, you could look to praying for the fulfillment of the roles God has given them. For example...if you are praying for your daughter to get an ROTC scholarship so she can be an officer in the won't be praying in God's will, for you would be hard-pressed to find any Biblical doctrine involving women in the military. You could pray for their Christian witness to the world, for the impact they might have on their circle of influence. The list could go on and on, but Bunyan has provided some excellent insight into how to pray in general, and it can easily be adapted into specific guidelines for praying for our children.

Be a praying Dad (or Mom), for your children desperately need your intercession for their salvation and growth in the Lord.