If you are interested in the news events in this country that affect Christianity in general, though not the church of Christ specifically and you can handle it without becoming to depressed by the things that are being allowed and promoted around the U. S. you might be interested in this news site. I don't know if it is associated with any specific religious group, but they do keep up with things going on religiously in America.
James and Dawn Pasley had the opportunity to teach lessons in Pineville, LA during their series on the family. Their topic was 'When a House of 2 Becomes a House of 7'. James' lesson to the men was 'Who Is Building Your Home?'. Dawn's lesson to the women was 'Maintaining Spiritual Growth as the Family Grows Physically'. You can listen to them below or download them. You can also download his outline and resource list or her Powerpoint and resource list.
For the Men: Who Is Building Your Home? - James Pasley
For the Women: Maintaining Spiritual Growth as the Family Grows Physically - Dawn Pasley
If our children are going to remain faithful to God in a time of trials and persecution there are some things we have to do to prepare them for something we have never faced before. One of those things is . . .
Not only that Government Is NOT God, but also that Submitting to Society Is Satan’s Scheme.
Sorry to go back, but this is a work in progress and I realized that I did not adequately touch on the subject that ended section 3a. That part ended with the idea that wanting to fit in makes it hard to stand against your peers to do what is right. The Bible is really pretty clear about this point. “Do not be conformed to this world”(Romans 12:2), “in the world, but not of the world”(John 17:11-18), “come out from among them and be separate”(2 Corinthians 6:17), “do not be like them”(Matthew 6:7-8), and other passages teach us that if we are going to be right with God then we will not be in agreement with the world.
This is one of the most difficult things that we are called on to do. God created us to be social creatures and with a desire for companionship. He even said it is not good for the man to be alone. He was talking specifically about the man needing a companion and then made him a wife, but we see the negative results of people being isolated from human contact even today. People literally lose their sanity when there is no one to talk to and associate with on a regular basis.
Even though it is necessary, the pressure from social settings can be overwhelming. The stress that many struggle with is over their relationships with others. The pressure to fit in, conform, to be like others is powerful like a rushing river. Have you ever gone rafting or canoeing, not in a lake or still creek, but in a fast moving river? It is easy to go downstream. It is not terribly difficult to move toward one side or the other as you go downstream. But what about going upstream? Even with two strong young men in the canoe, I remember the near impossibility of even stopping the downstream motion much less moving against that strong current to go back upstream to help someone who had turned over. Now think about the way society rushes down the stream of life.
I see these same kinds of things in social interaction. It is easy to go downstream swiftly, some are paddling to move even faster than the current naturally takes them and seem to be leading the charge. It is not that difficult to move from side to side. We don’t have to do everything just like everyone else to be accepted. A few differences just make us quirky or a little unique. There is usually a wide range of socially acceptable choices. The river is wide and sometimes even splits around an island or rock to come back together farther downstream. As long as you are moving in the same general direction nobody cares. Some try to slow down and fight against how fast things are moving, and they are ridiculed. They are living in the past and need to get with the times. Even though they are the butt of many jokes, they are still accepted as long as they are moving along even if they are going slower. This is where the church in America has been for about 100 years. We as a group have drifted slowly the direction the world has been going, but we have held back and not moved as fast.
Unfortunately, that is not what God calls us to do. God calls us to move upstream toward Him. Just last night in Bible Class one member admitted that she had been living with her head in the sand about the homosexual marriage issue. If all who claim to be Christians had stood up strongly at the beginning of this surge, it might have been stopped, but now it is like trying to stop a tsunami. That doesn’t mean that we throw up our hands and say ‘if you can’t beat them join them’, but it does sometimes feel like ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’. Being faithful to God and winning the war against Satan is important even if we lose some of the battles, even if we lose our privileges, rights, freedom, or lives, we fight because we want to be on God’s side. He has already won and those on His side will be victorious with Him, 1 John 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4-5.
God wants a peculiar people, not a people that is not quite like everybody else, but a people that is just weird. We encourage our children to aim for weirdness. In so many areas of life normal is worthless. Why is it most parents don’t encourage their kids to aim for average grades or a career that will bring them an average income. They don’t want their kids on the average team. They don’t want them to be average in their looks. They don’t want them to marry someone who is average. They don’t want average or normal in many areas, so why not encourage them to excel spiritually and not be average. God has a term for the average Christian, He calls them lukewarm and they make Him sick at His stomach , Revelation3:15-16. Someone who has been cooled off and watered down by the world and has become worse than worthless to Him. Did you notice that God even says He would prefer for that person to be all the way cold?
God calls on us to overcome the world, and makes some precious promises to those who do. Maybe we should spend some time looking at the reward for not being mediocre or being tainted by the world. Several of these are mentioned in Revelation:
* 2:7 - eat of the tree of life in paradise
* 2:11 - not be hurt by the second death (hell)
* 2:17 - eat the hidden manna, get a white stone with a secret name on it
* 2:26 - given power over the nations to rule, receive the morning star
* 3:5 - clothed in white clothing, have name in the book of life and have Jesus confess name before His Father and the angels
* 3:12 - be a (pillar) permanent part in God’s temple and never leave it, have God’s name and the name of His city and Jesus’ new name written on us
* 3:21 - be allowed to sit with Jesus on His throne
* 21:7 - inherit ALL things, be heirs (sons) of God
In addition to these things, being faithful to Him will bring the blessings of: receiving a crown of life - 2:10, being worthy to walk with Jesus - 3:4, having a door opened for us that can’t be closed - 3:8, having others know that Jesus loves us - 3:9, being shielded from certain temptations or trials - 3:10, sharing a meal with Jesus - 3:20, drinking freely from the fountain of the water of life. On the other hand, those who are fearful and succumb to the world will forfeit all of the things above and have their place in the burning lake of fire and brimstone - 21:8.
Revelation was written to Christians who faced persecution and were fighting behind enemy lines. These saints were struggling with the temptation to just give in and become part of the world and that makes it a great book of encouragement as we face those same struggles and temptations. Some of them overcame and so can we and so can our children, but we have to see that the things God offers are worth sacrificing the things that Satan and the world promise. Being weird is worth it if there is a payoff, sacrifice is worth it if there is a benefit at the end. We may even have to be looked at as weird by other Christians, remember 600K left Egypt and only 2 made it to the promised land. Somehow I don’t think that Joshua and Caleb just suddenly became weird at the end. I bet they were different all along the way. I hope that more than 2 out of every 600K Christians make it to heaven, but what are you doing to make sure your family would be one of the 2. How many of the Israelites, do you suppose, thought they were just as good as the other Israelites that left Egypt? How many of those average Israelites made it to the promised land? The more I learn about the Bible the more I believe God wants us to be so weird that the whole world is talking about it - Romans 1:8.
I am reminded of a story I heard years ago about a young lady who was going off to college. Her mother was concerned that as a Christian going to a state school she would face some teasing or worse. The mother tried to warn her daughter of the possible dangers that awaited her in a place where most of the people would not be Christians. After listening for a few minutes the teenager tried to comfort her mothers concerns by saying that her mom shouldn’t worry because they will probably never know that I am a Christian. Not much comfort in that, but more truth than we like to admit in many cases. If they can’t tell that you are a Christian, it is likely because you are not. Instead of being like this foolish girl, let’s actually become God’s peculiar people - Titus 2:14, 1 Peter 2:9.
If our children are going to remain faithful to God in a time of trials and persecution there are some things we have to do to prepare them for something we have never faced before. One of those things is . . . Focus on the Future of Heaven.
We live in a society obsessed with instant gratification. Most people have trouble paying attention to a 20 minute sitcom on TV and some probably can’t make it through the 30 second commercials. We want our food ready in under 5 minutes. We want a pill that will make the pounds melt away or better yet liposuction to suck the pounds away in an afternoon. We want to win the lottery or a sweepstakes or get an inheritance and be rich. We want the newest computer gadget, fashion, car, fad, entertainment experience, etc. We want everything right now, but there are some things that don’t work that way. Stephen Covey uses the principle of the farm to help us understand that in the spiritual realm right now won’t work. Just as a farmer can’t wait until September to plow, plant, fertilize, do pest and weed control, and water if he expects a harvest in October, we can’t live a life of selfishness and instant gratification and expect to be able to harvest joy, peace, and patience. We can’t live like the devil and expect to spend eternity with God. We can’t raise our children to be materialistic, selfish, arrogant, worldly, immodest, spoiled brats and then think that at 18 or 21 or 25 or some other magic age they will automatically become spiritual, selfless, humble, godly, modest, kind saints. It takes hard work to scrub away the grime and the longer it has been hardening the more scrubbing it takes to get it off, like oatmeal dried in a pot for days(I would not recommend cooking oatmeal and then leaving the remnants in the pot for days, just some friendly advice from the voice of experience).
The problem is that everyone lives for the right now. Everyone says you only have one life to live so make the most of it. That is not true! We have two lives to live, one here on Earth and another to be determined by the way we live this one, in either Heaven or Hell. Even if both lives were of equal length it would not make sense to live the lives of reckless abandon that is becoming the norm. How much more pointless is it then when we consider that this life is but a speck of time compared to the one to come. Romans 8:13-18 reminds us not to compare them equally.
Are we truly naive enough to think that we and our children can be and do and have everything that the worldly people are and do and have and yet by some miracle not be worldly people. Do we think because we call America a Christian nation that 2 Corinthians 6:13-18 doesn’t apply anymore. The fact of the matter is that we have got to start looking past this world and its pleasures. What if our kids didn’t get to watch cartoons? Would that be so bad? What if they didn’t go to the mall or the movies with friends when they wanted to go? What if they didn’t get to play that sport, be in that club, learn ballet or karate? What if we didn’t go out to McDonald’s? What if they didn’t get to ___________(put your child’s favorite activity in the blank)? Would we be horrible parents? Now let me ask one more. What if they did get to do all of those things and more, but didn’t get to go to Heaven? That doesn’t mean that every activity is evil, but does it cause such a distraction or such a desire, or take time that should be spent on spiritual development in such a way that it hinders spiritual growth.
I heard one father say recently that he didn’t care if his kids were not the most athletic, the best spellers, the most artistic, the smartest with the best grades, etc. he wanted them to be the best Christians. Now Christianity is not a competition like football or a spelling bee, but what if the world got to the point that it was in Noah’s day and there was only one family that was right with God. Would you want that one family to be your family? What if we live in a city that becomes like Sodom and Gomorrah? What if we can’t just move to another town because they are all that way? Would you be the one family that God would try to save? What if things were like in Elijah’s day? Would you be one of the 7000 that didn’t bow the knee to Baal? What if you are in a church like the one Moses led out of Egypt? When everyone starts throwing their hands up and quitting will you join them or speak up and stand up like Joshua and Caleb? If we don’t have our sights set on Heaven we will fail when the tough times come, and if the world is in our hearts like it was in Lot’s wife’s we will never escape.
Do not be deceived God is not mocked, whatever a man sows is what he will reap. Galatians 6:7-9 reminds us of the spiritual law of the farm. We need to remind ourselves and our children not only with words or songs, but with actions that this world is not our home. We are just traveling through on our way to somewhere better, Heaven, Hebrews 8:11-16. Don’t miss out by having too much here, and not making it there. Keep your focus on that unseen city.
Most people with any sense would peg Adolf Hitler and others like him as deluded and narcissistic. These two traits are a great danger to the rest of society, and often lead to acts against others by that person. Past studies have shown that the group of young people (18-22 years old) with the highest self-esteem were not those who graduated high school with good grades and went on to college, but those criminals who were imprisoned for their crimes. We as a society have pushed the concept of high self-esteem in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches. We teach each child that he or she is the most special person in the whole wide world and that the world revolves around him or her. As a result of this behavior we have produced an entire generation of adults who instead of having humility and meekness as the Bible teaches are filled with pride and arrogance.
The World says that you have to look out for number 1, and of course you are number one. The Bible says that we should not think of our own things, but on the things of others in Philippians 2:4. The World says you are special, you are the only one, etc. The Bible warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought in Romans 12:3. The World says that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all (remember that song). Jesus said that no one can have a greater love than to lay down his life for his friends in John 15:13. The World says put yourself first. The Bible says that we are to esteem others higher than ourselves in Philippians 2:3. The World says that you are gods. The Bible says that Jesus was equal to God, but gave it up to serve and even die for us, and that we should be like him in Philippians 2:5-8. The World says the more people you have serving you the greater you are. Jesus said that the greatest would be the one who served others the most in Matthew 23:11 and Mark 10:44. The World says you have to toot your own horn because no one else will. You have to be proud of yourself. The Bible says that pride goes before destruction - Proverbs 16:18, that God resists the proud - James 4:6, and that if you exalt yourself it will fail - Matthew 23:12.
As with so many other things the World has it wrong and has been teaching all the wrong things. Even in this so-called Christian nation these ungodly attitudes and traits have been being encouraged and taught for more than a generation. Consider this article written by Dr. Keith Ablow and see if you have noticed the results of these things.jp
If our children are going to remain faithful to God in a time of trials and persecution there are some things we have to do to prepare them for something we have never faced before. One of those things is . . .
Get that Government is not God
It seems like we as a people are becoming more and more dependent on the government to be there for us, especially the Federal government. I suppose that I honestly lean increasingly toward the libertarian view of things even though there are moral issues involved that I disagree with strongly. The fact is that our government has been growing at an alarming rate and has become truly unsustainable at this point. If something is not done soon the weight of it will fall on the American people and crush them, but this is not even about fiscal problems or bloated programs, or bureaucracy, or the things that people generally talk about when they discuss the problems of government. We are following a path that has led to problems for others in the past. Read one woman’s account of what happened in Austria during WWII.
The fact is that there are many people, including some Christians, who have been duped into believing that the government has the right to make laws that it actually does not have the right to make either constitutionally, or according to God’s law. When I asked once, in a Bible class, what we would do if they passed a law that said we couldn’t get together to study the Bible or worship one woman actually said she guessed we would have to quit doing it. Let’s make this clear, no government, not the United States government, not any state or local government, not the United Nations, not a husband, not an eldership, nor any other government is God. Government has no authority except what is given from above, Jesus said as much while on trial with Pilate - John 19:11. In Romans 13:1 Paul reminds us that the government is ordained and authorized by God, not the other way around. Peter and John made it clear that we are to obey God rather than man - Acts 5:29. When discussing Obamacare and the mandate to provide funding for the abortion pill, at least one Christian said since it didn’t affect churches it didn’t matter to us and that businesses had to do what the government said, even non-profit religious charities and Christian colleges. That is not true, and I for one am glad that there are some companies like Hobby Lobby that are fighting it and refusing to obey it. Understand that just because they didn’t try to force it on churches this time does not mean they won’t soon, speak up while you can. I am often reminded of the quote that is attributed in various forms to Martin Niemoeller.
There is also a growing percentage of our population that depends on government for day to day existence rather than on God. Money is a tool the government has used effectively in only one way – to get people addicted to the next handout. What if the government completely shut down tomorrow? There would be chaos, theft, murder, and rioting in the streets next week when half the people in the U.S. who get a monthly check and/or other benefits didn’t receive them. What about you? Are you depending on the government or God? Even those in private business might have some serious cutbacks if those on welfare and social security did not get their money to spend. There would be a massive ripple, a tsunami, throughout the economy. Someone took the 23rd Psalm and changed it to reflect the thinking of many who believe “The Government Is My Shepherd”. It has been around for years and there are several variations, this is a recently updated version of it.
There is an increasing ignorance about the role of government and the history of our government. People today have completely perverted the founders’ intentions with their talk of the separation of church and state. Originally, the idea was to protect the church, religion, and Christians from the federal government. Read the amendment in the Bill of Rights and you will see that it clearly says that congress(federal government) shall make no law establishing a religion or prohibiting the free practice of religion. There was actually nothing about local laws regarding religion, in fact several of the states had recognized churches. The point was not to allow the entire nation to have only one church as had been done in England.
Consider the way that worked in the past, the Mormons were not welcome in many of the established states, so they went west and established their own in what is today Utah. That state is still strongly Mormon, but their laws have changed as others moved into the area, voted, ran for office, etc. There was a time when in Missouri a city was established for atheists. It was named Liberal and the goal was that no church building would be built there. Eventually the founder of the city became a Christian himself according to Wikipedia. Now there are at least 7 religious groups there. You can read more about this failed experiment in an article by Apologetics Press. That is what freedom is about and to some degree what was intended (although the founders had no use for atheism or any religion other than Christianity - for more on these views consider the videos The Silencing of God and America’s Most Pressing Concern available from World Video Bible School). Those kind of things could not happen today. If a group of religious people of one stripe or another decided to have a town of their own and not allow others, it would be attacked in the courts as soon as it was known. It has gotten to the point that if one person doesn’t like it he can scream about it and get any religious thing thrown out of town. You see, the truth is not afraid to stand toe to toe with a lie because it can win, but the lie can’t win in honest debate so it must resort to other means to silence truth and win the day. Today the founders' original plan has been twisted and perverted to protect government and society from religion.
As Bible believers, we know that God does not call us to go live in isolation with only other believers, we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Both light and salt are more clearly evident in circumstances where there is not much. Turn on a spotlight out in the sunshine and it would barely be noticed 10 feet away, but light a match in the darkness of a cave and everyone there can see it. Put some salt in a salt shaker and you may not notice, but put some on bland vegetables and it makes them edible. Because our country has been one that taught morality and had many religious people of various denominations who were living basically good lives but were confused on certain doctrinal issues, the contrast has often not been that great. We are used to agreeing with our neighbors on 90-95% and debating issues of worship, a doctrine about the second coming, etc. That is not the case anymore. If we will truly live for Christ, not just worship Him on Sunday but truly live as He would live, we will stand out from the crowd, we will shine as stars in a crooked and perverse generation - Philippians 2:15.
Think about how different the Amish seem to us. Will we as Christians ever seem that different to our neighbors or will we keep doing what the media and government tell us is normal. Normal is being on the road toward Hell, I don’t want to be normal. I want people to think I am strange, the Christians in the New Testament had people thinking they were strange, not because of hair styles or not having electricity, but because they did not get involved in sinful things. Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is moral. Government approval is not God’s approval.
There can be no doubt in our minds or our children's minds that tempts us to believe that government is benevolent, our provider, all-powerful, or our friend. The government that is at odds with and enemies with God and His Law is an enemy to His people as well. We need to know that wherever we live in this world we are living behind enemy lines and in hostile territory among citizens of the kingdom of our greatest enemy, Satan.
So what do we do with a hostile government that looks on us as a danger and that we have finally recognized as a danger? How do we react? We’ll consider that further in the next installment.
I keep an eye out for news stories that give insight into the culture war between the humanistic atheistic, secular side of our society and the religious, Judeo-Christian side of our society. I saw a story about an on-going struggle between these two groups at Vanderbilt University and thought you might be interested. You can read the whole story and look at some older stories on the subject at http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/vanderbilt-tells-group-leaders-can%e2%80%99t-be-followers-of-christ.html and you may even want to check in with Todd Starnes occasionally to see news of this kind if it interests you.
The gist of the story is that there was a religious group on campus that had, as many religious groups would, in their rules that someone who was a leader in their organization had to believe in certain things. In this particular case they had to have a "personal commitment to Jesus Christ". The university said that they had to change that to allow anyone to be a leader. The insanity of these things is obvious to anyone with any common sense. A Christian would not be a good leader in the Atheist group, a Democrat would not be a good leader in the Libertarian group, a Catholic would not be a good leader in the Jewish group, and a Muslim would not be a good leader in a Christian group.
The freedom to choose with whom we associate and for an organization to set its own rules for membership and association has been a fundamental right in our society that is now under attack. I wonder if they apply these same kind of rules to the liberal groups on their campus.