A man came to me and asked me a very probing question, “Would you give up everything for an hour with Jesus, all your possessions, friends, family, hopes and dreams, and at the end your life?” Pondering deeply, almost without thinking, for thoughts were distracting to my current feelings, I considered deep in my soul both the pro’s and cons. Ashamed I was to not immediately have answered “Yes!”, but I have many idols to give up for Jesus, and considering their loss always gives me pause. Croaking, I tried to speak, but the wheeze swallowed my first words, so I tried again after a large gulp.
“Sir, would you be patient with me and grant me one request, that I might see a man at the end of his time with Jesus?”, I carefully stuttered now in trembling fear for offending the God whose servant this surely was. An eternity separated my shameful question and his accommodating reply. Slowly, or so it seemed, we strolled to the end of one man’s walk with Jesus and just before he died I looked at his face. No earthly comedian could engender such a smile, and no sun could shine so brightly as to mire his countenance nor contentment. Surely, this was a man about to die, and yet he couldn’t be more happy, content, joyful, and ready to meet God and any loss he might have suffered to be with Jesus didn’t seem to play any part in his final demeanor.
Soiled by sin I am a Mark Driscoll, a Bob Coy, a Peter, an Adam, a David. What do I and these men have in common? We are all men created in the Image of God, yet we don’t want to obey and follow him by nature. Adam may have started this sin thing (or maybe it was Satan), but we definitely are keeping up with Adam in his absence. Stained by sin in Adam, we are not just sinners because of his sin, we are sinners because of our own sin too. Yet, I and all these men alike have tasted of the heavenly blessing in Christ, heard the Gospel preached, professed faith, and have responded in obedience to His Word, so why do we still fail? Besides the theologically accurate, “because we still are in sinful bodies” it is also because practically we take the Gospel for granted, ignore the means of Grace that Sanctify us, love the world too much, and ultimately because we don’t have the accountability of the Word being preached to us, by others and ourselves, quite often enough. Other voices and messages often take up the airwaves of communication and distract us from the most important message in the Gospel, yet not all these messages are bad just distractions.
Most recently Mark Driscoll reminds us of the false belief in our Christian Culture: that Pastors are more mature, don’t need to be pastored, don’t need to be shepherded, don’t need accountability, don’t need to be submitted to others who will call them on their sin, and are better serving God when their external fruit is magnificently evident to all. Every pastor (and Christian) should read Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Calling-Confronting-Challenges-Pastoral/dp/1433535823 as he explains many of the reasons why we as Christians fail and why so many pastors struggle with sins in-spite of our placing of them on a pedestal, and the most scary thing is most pastors believe their own press, and the result is the list of men I provided.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of the interpretations on God’s Sovereignty, one thing is certain, sin cost God more than it costs all the fallen angels and sinners in hell. Without going into great detail, I do believe that this side of heaven we will not be able to fully comprehend the mystery of how a Holy and Sovereign God can allow evil into His universe. I know many people question how God could create Adam and Eve very good and yet they still fell into sin. An answer to that question seems a little easier than the question of how did Satan fall into sin, since they at least had a fallen Angel to tempt them, Satan had only himself. But I digress from pursuing the deeper philosophical and theological implications and questions surrounding sin, the fall, and God’s Holiness, and will simply follow the Bible’s lead: God is sinless, Holy and Sovereign, man was created good and morally culpable and became a sinner deserving God’s wrath.
It is probably a certitude that every human who has thought about these things has intuited that the punishment for sin, Hell, really, really sucks; it’s a huge bummer man! If one ponders for just a minute the idea of everlasting punishment in Hell for sin, one quickly decides for themselves that surely this punishment is too great to fit any crime (let alone the smallest of sins), committed in the universe, but the Holy Creator doesn’t think so and before you think God just stands back and enjoys the slow burning of those who violate His Will and Commands, let me tell you something: the price God paid for sin is greater, by infinite measure, than all the sinners and fallen angels in Hell and the resultant human suffering on earth!
It is interesting to me how quickly we forget. Like a fish that forgets it was just feeding, so our own memory lapse could end in our own destruction. Perhaps we should consider ourselves all on the Amnesia spectrum somewhere between minor and sever, this forgetfulness is so epidemic. Why is forgetting such a problem? Forgetfulness is the root of all sorts of evil, malcontent, and otherwise degenerated thinking.
Depending on how one understands the story, it sure seems that Adam and Eve quickly forgot God’s words to them about the tree and perverted them into a memory that benefited their own desires, or so they deceived themselves. Consider further the Children of Israel in Egypt, they complain to God for 400 years about their slavery, and right after God responds and displays His power in ten miracles, a cloud and burning pillar of fire followed by a sea being parted, they almost immediately forget God can command nature and how horrible slavery was and begin believing that they will die for lack of God’s provision and wished they were back in slavery. Yikes!
Call me ignorant, a pompous blow-hard, or dim-witted if you like, but I think Common Core is the best thing ever to happen to public education, and sadly it is going to fail. Common Core will die, murdered in the night by its jealous cousin, who, like all jealous cousins, is overly emotional, highly volatile, prone to over-exaggeration, and is a bit of a conspiracy freak. It is sad to think that something good can be killed by good intentions gone awry because of ignorant fear and mass-hysteria, but that is what we are seeing right now with Common Core and I think will lead to its doom. As its corpse is dragged out of the room, its jealous cousin will dance a jig as our education system stutters back its advancement a few decades. To begin let me explain, apart from the hysteria and misinformation that abounds, what Common Core really is, who the detractors are, and where are they mistaken or confused.
As a caveat, and in the nature of full disclosure, I fully am basing my position on what Common Core claims to be, and those teachers inside the system that have experienced it first hand. I am fully aware that I might be being lied to, and that Common Core might change from what it is now, or detractors might be able to change its course, which will all affect the validity and benefit of my analysis. Therefore I am going to proceed, since I have not seen or received any substantive and convincing information or critique (as of yet) to the contrary, as if what my research has turned up is based on truthful participation from the Common Core framers, and the assumption that they will stay further true to their promised word.
A young child sat on his fathers lap and asked him, “Daddy where do babies come from?” His father pondered the question a moment, deciding how much detail his son needed to know at eight years old, and replied, “They come from loving mommies and daddies”. Most of us can relate to this scenario. All of us have probably been that child, and many of us have been that parent. Do any of us remember, at this young age, our parent sitting down with us and pulling out a medical reference book and going through all the scientific detail of how babies are created, complete with pictures? Were we then asked to ponder and think through all the reasons and evidence first before making our own opinion on the subject?
Now considering our experience with how our parents explained things like this to us in the past, would we now look back and consider our parent a liar? Should a good parent have pulled out the medical reference book? Should we have been given the chance to ponder all the evidence before coming to our own belief about the subject? Did our parents love us less because they didn’t give us all the details and time to answer our question for ourselves and completely?
“Where God guides God provides” is a statement I believe most of us Southern California Christians have heard. Like most people I embraced this statement as Gospel truth and didn’t think twice about it because it seemed so self-evident and obvious, but is it really, now that I think about it more?
As I think about it now, it seems to me more of clever statement about God’s sovereignty than what I think the author and the rest of the people has historically meant it to mean. Surely Scripture teaches us that God is the great guider of history and all things, like Dr. Sproul said, “there are no maverick molecules in the universe.” Scripture also teaches us that God provides every provision for everyone, there is not a provision that anyone has that hasn’t come from the hand of God “For he (God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Mat 5:45b and Acts 17:24-27:
What do you tell your children when they ask you: “why do we decorate for Christmas”? I know many people haven’t really thought about it much. Obviously the most simple answer would be something akin to: “because its tradition” or “we have always decorated”. This simple answer is like answering the question of, “where did the universe come from” and responding with: “aliens”. It doesn’t actually answer the question because then one can ask a further question: “where did the aliens come from” or in our case “why did this tradition start”.
Wouldn’t you like to know what the decorations mean so you can tell your children why we decorate? Well I cannot tell you what they mean objectively because God hasn’t given us any objective revelation as to what they should or do mean, however I can tell you what I will tell my children when they ask me that fateful question: “daddy why do we decorate?”
To begin my thoughts on this subject I must first make it clear that I myself am a product of homeschooling, and a fan of it as well. In spite of these facts about myself I do believe there are some problems inside the world of homeschooling. The concern or issue I am going to discuss today is the one regarding homeschooling parents unspoken or often spoken distrust of educated and credentialed teachers. Throughout this post it will be tempting to discuss the much larger topic of education in our culture but I will resist for the sake of brevity.
I have begun to notice a norm among people who homeschool their children, or those who wish they did but currently are unable, they distrust credentialed and experienced teachers. Most often this distrust isn’t explicit or verbal, but is subtle and unspoken. What I mean by unspoken is simply what goes unsaid, or specifically unasked. There is no way a homeschooling parent, unless they have been trained, really know that much about the job of educating children, and yet these same parents do not turn towards trained teachers for assistance and advice but other untrained homeschooling parents. Without meaning to come across offensively, it simply seems to be a situation of ignorance breeding ignorance. In other words I could liken it to untrained volunteer firemen asking other untrained (but more experienced) volunteer firemen how to fight a fire and not the trained (and experienced) fireman standing right next to him, quite preposterous isn’t it. But this sort of things happens every day, a homeschooling parent asking the advice of another homeschooling parent right in front of a credentialed and experienced teacher, without any consideration as to what input the credentialed teacher might have. A side note comment on how this might possibly stem from our current social idea that our own experiences are more true and valid than the experiences of the group, but I digress that point for another time.
This morning I was listening to the radio when a caller called in about gun control. The liberalish host answered the callers point in a way that stumped the caller, and caused me to think. The following is the response the logically fallacy of ineffective laws should be appealed period, thus ineffective gun laws should be repealed just as ineffective illegal drug laws.
The point the caller was trying to make is simply the one that gun laws only hurt law abiding citizens and not really criminals. Of course the host took this to mean that the caller was arguing that we should just throw out laws that are not effective and asked the caller if he was also prepared to legalize drugs as we all know such laws are also ineffective. Now he may have stumped the caller, but he shouldn’t have. Here is why: