Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Family Table

Futurist Dr. Richard Swenson writes, “Fast-lane families are headed for head-on collisions. They don’t have the opportunity to eat together. Shared, unstructured leisure time disappears. Communication suffers, problems multiply.

In a slower era . . . people had time for each other. At the store, the gas station, or the church there was time to visit. At the breakfast table and the dinner table there was time to visit. For the sake of our families, it is time, perhaps, for a slowdown crusade, or a campaign of mellowness. It is time to rediscover the fine art of relational dawdling. . . . Guard the family mealtime.”[i]

Speed is the norm of our day. Simplicity is almost a thing of the past. I believe one of the necessary spiritual habits for the 21st century Christian is learning to put the brakes on the break-neck speed of life.

If we do not slow down and guard our time, one aspect of life that suffers is what some people call the family table – or the family mealtime.

An Old Instruction

In Psalm 78, Asaph, one of the songwriters under King David, retells part of the history of the Jewish people from their Egyptian slavery to the Davidic reign. He recalls highs and lows of their history:

+ the plagues under Moses,
+ the Red Sea crossing,
+ the pillar of fire in the wilderness,
+ God’s provision of manna and quail,
+ their refusal to trust God in the desert, 
+ the conquering of the Promised Land, 
+ the loss of the ark of covenant, 
+ and the establishment of David’s kingdom.

Why does the Bible spill so much ink on past events? Because, the author knew the people would be tempted to forget their history, forget what God had done, and forget the Lord altogether. Remembering correctly is a fundamental part of being a faithful believer. And good parenting involves passing on correct knowledge worth remembering.

Notice how Asaph gives the responsibility of teaching the children about God to the parents:

+ things we have heard and known and that our fathers have passed down to us (3),

+ we will not hide them from their children but will tell a future generation the praiseworthy acts of the Lord (4),

+ he commanded our fathers to teach to their children (6),

+ they were to rise and tell their children so that they might put their confidence in God and not forget God’s works, but keep his commands (7).

Commenting on this passage, Steve Farrar writes, “You are to teach your children from the beginning the truth of the living God. That is not the pastor’s job or the Sunday school teacher’s job. You are to be the primary teacher of the Word.”[ii]

Do it Around Food

One of the best ways to practice this truth is to reclaim the family table – the time when the family sits around a table together to eat. No cell phones or tablets. No television. No newspaper or magazines. No rushed agenda.

I realize we probably can’t do this every day. But I urge you to resist the cultural norm of not making regular sit-down mealtimes a priority.

Mealtimes offer rich time for influencing the next generation. Practice listening to your children. Ask lots of questions. I know, when they become older they won’t want to always answer. But that’s ok. Ask anyway! Create a family culture of knowing what is going on in each other’s lives.

By practice, train your children that it’s good to sit around the table with the family after the eating is done. We want to be a family that enjoys each other. Laugh and tell funny things.  Practice sharing – from your own life and from God’s Word. Include them in your inner story. Tell that about your day. Share thoughts, feelings, and desires.

Varying levels of communication exist. One level asks, “What did you do?” Deeper than that is, “What do you think?” Even deeper is, “What did you feel?” or “What do you wish?” Work at having conversation that doesn’t only stay on the first level.

Our children love asking the family “what if” questions. What would you do with a million dollars? If you could travel anywhere in the world for one year, where would you go? If you had to have only one superpower, what would it be? Doing so helps build family cohesiveness and offers you opportunities to share wisdom.

Mealtime provide a captive audience to share from the Bible, creating an atmosphere of respect for God’s Word. Sometimes after supper I say, “OK, everybody clean your plates and then come back with a Bible.” We spend a few minutes together looking at a verse or passage. And I ask the children what they think about what God is saying in the texts.

President Ronald Reagan said, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

Let’s change our world – one meal at a time.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

[i] “”Margin and the Healthy Family” in A Minute of Margin (Navpress, 2003), 71,78.
[ii] Steve Farrar, Manna (Thomas Nelson, 2016), 198.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

Many colleges and universities have become breeding grounds for Leftism, intolerant of the values and worldview that founded this country and made America a great nation.

David French offers an excellent response to political correctness this week in the National Review . . .

"This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of speech codes that exposed students to formal university discipline for daring to utter dissenting views. Moreover, there did not (yet) exist networks of lawyers ready, willing, and able to defend speech on campus.

These were the days of the Shadow University, the days before Twitter and today’s vibrant conservative media, when campus free-speech outrages occurred time and again without attracting the slightest bit of public attention. Even as a civil-libertarian resistance formed and began litigating on campus, many of the fact patterns were almost comically insane. University officials would destroy newspapers, force students to change their religious beliefs as a condition of graduation, and even — in one particularly memorable case — try a student group for the crime of desecrating the name of Allah after its members stomped on the flag of Hamas.

When I look back at my old litigation files, I see case after case that would light conservative Twitter on fire if it happened today. But courageous students fought back, they filed suits in courtrooms from coast to coast, and they won. The era of the speech code is over. The few remaining unconstitutional campus speech policies lie largely dormant and unenforced, with university officials keenly aware of the risk of lawsuits. That doesn’t mean that substantial legal challenges don’t exist — the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance initiated a tidal wave of campus due-process violations, to take one example — but speech on college campuses is legally free. If you engage in unpopular speech on a public campus and angry students demand your academic head, they’ll lose if you have the courage to persist."

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Changing Times

"It will be gone before you know it. The fingerprints on the wall appear higher and higher. Then, suddenly, they disappear." - Dorothy Euslin

So my wife and I recently experienced a seismic shift. We dropped our first child off at college this week.

We spent Saturday packing and making trips to Walmart for last-minute dorm needs. I looked out at the driveway at lunchtime and fixed on his silver Kia Optima. Suddenly, it dawned on me – next week the car won’t be in the driveway.

At supper on Saturday, I asked the family to bring their Bibles to the table. We looked at Isaiah 41:10“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (HCSB). I exhorted my son, that God’s presence will be with him anywhere and everywhere he goes.

Sunday morning, my wife cried off and on all morning. The pastor preached from Deuteronomy 31: [T]he Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. . . . So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. . . . He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you” (3,6,8 NLT).

We spent Sunday night in a hotel in Greenville, South Carolina, where he is going to school. We enjoyed a pleasant, quiet night together enjoying the city. Our family has enjoyed many times in downtown Greenville, so it felt very normal.

The last two weeks, my mind remembered countless memories from the preschool years. Like my wife, our one-year old, and I sitting in our used white Cadillac listening to the cassette The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Several times this week I caught myself singing, “Deep in the hundred acre wood where Christopher Robin played.” Like singing songs together in bed before he drifted off to sleep. And like hearing his footsteps running to the door when I pulled into the driveway after work.

An older friend texted me on Monday, “This day can be a hard one for a father. It will feel like you are not coming to the end of a chapter – but a volume.”
We headed to the university, checked in, unpacked, and helped him get settled. I remembered doing the same thing with my parents twenty-eight years earlier.

I told myself that it is because I love him, have enjoyed him, have made parenting such a priority, and have intentionally invested so much in him - that I grieve now. I always feel sorry for parents who seem to not enjoy their children.

Parents going through this transition sometimes feel as if they are going through a death - at least the death of a season that was extremely precious and can never be repeated.

Michael Gersen captures it so well in his article Saying goodbye to my child, the youngster at The Washington Post.

My wife and I kept reminding ourselves, “This is good. He will get an education to help him make money and support a family. He may meet his wife here. He will broaden his horizons, meet many people, have good influences, and live in one of his favorite cities.”

We stopped in the dorm room, circled and held hands. I prayed for Hendrix, asking God to bless the room, making it a place where he can experience peace, safety, and rest. My wife and I piddled, arranging pictures on tables and looking at the clothes in his closet. Finally, knowing it was time to go, I announced, “OK kids, give your brother a hug.”

We said our goodbyes, gave our hugs, and shared our “I love you’s.”

Then we began the ride home. I wiped tears non-stop for fifteen minutes. The road seemed much longer than any previous time. My wife told our other two children, “We just need you to be quiet for a few minutes.”

I can honestly say that most of the time I made the best attempt at parenting I knew how. And so when I sort through the irrational expectations, I can see that I don't really have deep parenting regrets in the things that matter. I shepherded him spiritually, loved his mother, provided him and his siblings a peaceful, happy home, taught him about manhood, provided, and gave him lots of affection, instruction, and TIME.

Now time seems our enemy.

For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He goes ahead of my son in every new step and venture. And he goes ahead of my wife and me. The driveway may seem more vacant, but God is there.

He will neither fail you nor abandon you. . . . I can trust my son to the Lord. I can trust our present to him. Life may change, but He won’t fail us.

He will be with you. He’s in my son’s dorm room. He’s with him through any loneliness, adjustments, and challenges. He’s with me and my wife as we walk by his bedroom, watch the calendar to check when we see him next, and adjust to a new normal.

Chuck Swindoll shares the advice Corrie ten Boom gave him when he had young children. She took Chuck's hands and said in her broken English, "Chuck, I've learned that we must hold everything loosely, because when I grip it tightly, it hurts when the Father pries my fingers loose and takes it from me!"

Ain't it so!

It dawned on me today – I started this world with only the Lord. And one day, I will leave this world with only the Lord. God’s Presence is the one constant in our lives. We can draw close to Him and trust Him for our yesterdays, todays, and tomorrows.

How to Tell If a Trump Supporter Is Racist

We hear a lot about racism today. Dennis Prager shares some good thoughts in his article, How to Tell if a Trump Supporter is Racist.

"Every non-liberal leftist — that is, nearly every Democrat running for president, New York Times and Washington Post columnist, CNN and MSNBC host, and your left-wing brother-in-law — labels every Trump supporter and, of course, President Donald Trump, a 'racist.'

And they don’t stop there. Leftists don’t only label the half of the country that supports the president 'racist,' they label all whites and America itself 'racist.' If your son or daughter attends or recently attended an American university, it is close to certain he or she was repeatedly told that America and all whites are racist. According to the left, whites are divided between those who admit they are racist and those who don’t admit it.

Every conservative and many liberals know this is a big lie. The great question is: Do leftists believe it? It is impossible to know. But this we do know: If you repeat something often enough, and if your Weltanschauung (worldview) and that which gives your life meaning are dependent upon believing something, you will eventually believe it."

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Let Your Dream Small Group Die

"You don’t have to be a Christian long to feel disappointed by Christian community.

Our high expectations are understandable. The church is the body and bride of Christ (Ephesians 1:22–235:25–27), heaven’s earthly outpost (1 Peter 2:9), God’s cosmic stage for showcasing his wisdom (Ephesians 3:10). But when we look at our own community — our local church or small group — the reality can seem to fall so short. We expected the friendships would be deeper. We hoped the people would be more welcoming. We thought the pastor would remember our name.

Sometimes, to be sure, we feel disappointed with our community because something is fundamentally wrong. We attached ourselves to a sick body, and then we caught the virus. Now, it’s time for us to recover somewhere else. But often, my own disappointments with Christian community have sprung from my unrealistic expectations. I walked into a church expecting to find an unblemished bride, and instead I found a wife-in-progress."

Read the entire article by Scott Hubbard here at Desiring God Ministries.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Talent vs. Maturity

"John Cooper, the lead singer for the band Skillet, posted a stunning response on Facebook yesterday to the recent public renunciations of Christianity by Joshua Harris and then Hillsong songwriter, Marty Sampson. (Sampson has since slightly walked back his initial statement after Dr. Michael Brown posted an open letter challenging Sampson’s assertions.) Below is Cooper’s entire statement, which was also published at Cogent Christianity. I’m reposting it here because it’s so good and so important, I want to make sure everyone who follows this blog sees it. Thank you, John Cooper, for saying what few have the insight or courage to say. God bless you, brother!

'Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once ‘faces’ of the faith are falling away. And at the same time they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?) as they announce that they are leaving the faith. I’ll state my conclusion, then I’ll state some rebuttals to statements I’ve read by some of them. Firstly, I never judge people outside of my faith. Even if they hate religion or Christianity. That is not my place and I have many friends who disagree with my religion and that is 100% fine with me. However, when it comes to people within my faith, there must be a measure of loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God.

My conclusion for the church (all of us Christians): We must STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or ‘relevant’ people the most influential people in Christendom. (And yes that includes people like me!) I’ve been saying for 20 years(and seemed probably quite judgmental to some of my peers) that we are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word. ' "

The above is taken from the blog of Julie Roys. Read the entire post here.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Changing Times

So my wife and I recently experienced a seismic shift. We dropped our first child off at college this week.

America Is Drowning in the Left’s Lies About Trump

"The president of the United States, Donald Trump, never said there were “fine” Nazis or Ku Klux Klansmen.

This is one of the two great lies of our time — the other being that all Trump supporters are racists — and perhaps in all of American history. I cannot think of a lie of such significance that was held as truth by so many Americans, by every leading politician of one of the two major political parties and disseminated by virtually the entire media.

The major news media need to understand these are important reasons that half of America considers them frauds. And we get no pleasure from this fact. The reason we don’t recoil when the president labels the mainstream media 'fake news' is that we know the charge is true. Has one major media news outlet yet apologized to the American people for preoccupying them for nearly two years with the lie of 'Trump collusion' with Russia? Has one Democrat? Of course not. Because with regard to the Trump-Russia collusion issue, the news media were never driven by a pursuit of truth; they were driven by a pursuit of Trump."

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Meanwhile, This Is What LGBTQ Organizations Are Doing to Society

Dennis Prager regularly shares wise words about our society. This week's article is no exception . . .

"Virtually every week, there seems to be another issue that preoccupies the country. But while our attention is focused on President Donald Trump, Google, Charlottesville, Russia, impeachment, Jeffrey Epstein, the next elections, racism, a trade war with China, the #MeToo movement or something else, LGBTQ organizations are quietly going about their work dismantling ethical norms, making a mockery of education, ruining innocent people’s lives and destroying children’s innocence. If you think this is overstated, here are some examples:

The LGBTQ Dismantling of Women’s Sports

Last month, a transgender weightlifter won multiple gold medals at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa. Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand won two gold medals and a silver in the three heavyweight categories for women weighing more than 87 kilograms, or 192 pounds. Hubbard is physically male.

Last year, two biologically male sophomores at different Connecticut high schools competed in female division of the state open track and field competition. They came in first and second place in the 100- and 200-meter dashes."

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Amazing video - 22 minutes - Worth it! - Say No to Tyranny

"To ignore this message is to surrender to a government tyranny."   - Col. Phil Waldron, Retired U.S. Army

"There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes, one that both curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs. Both surprises were the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans. . . .

That's why the participants want the secret history of the 2020 election, even though it sounds like a paranoid fever dream - a well-funded cabal of powerful  people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information." - TIME Magazine, February 2021

Please take 22 minutes to watch this amazing video, a rebroadcast of opening video at the forensic cyber symposium this week in South Dakota. View it here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Healing from Spiritual Abuse

“God’s people don’t always act like God’s people should.” 

So writes Anne Graham Lotz in her book, Wounded by God's People, where she shares her own experiences of mistreatment by churches, pastors, and spiritual leaders. . . .

For twenty years, I've read literature about "spiritual abuse" and how Christians can heal and move forward positively when they experienced mistreatment from religious leaders. For anyone who experiences such abuse, there is hope and healing in Jesus! 

I have given away Ken Blue's book Healing from Spiritual Abuse probably several dozen times. Years ago, I gave a copy to a lady who had just left a church that had become toxic. She emailed me in a few days and told me that she had ordered ten more and given them all out!

Blue's book is very practical. One person told me as they read the book it was like reading a play-by-play account of what happened in their church.

Blue shares helpful insights, such as the "no-talk rule" that often occurs in an oppressive religious situation . . .

Read my entire article, Recovery from Spiritual Abuse, here.

Click here to sign up for my e-newsletter, Faith, Family, and Freedom. I also plan on starting a podcast later this year.