Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Dnt txt n drv!

Posted: January 21, 2011 in children, family
Tags: , ,

My husband helped build this home for the Brown family. The daughter was killed texting while driving. Watch this episode with your teens! The show airs as a two hour special Jan. 30th.

One of the challenges that I face as a Mom is countering our culture’s belief that all faith systems are legitimate. My child’s belief system is assaulted by the media and the population at large, accusing the Christian worldview of intolerance even to the extreme of claiming Christian beliefs are hateful.  How do I teach my children that the belief that Jesus is the only way is a legitimate belief?

The basis for the attack is a belief that religion is all about choice. This is a free country; we are free to believe as we choose. Why would anyone choose a religion that insists that everyone who does not believe as you do will go to hell? On the surface this argument seems legitimate and justified. But if choosing a religion is about choosing what is true rather than choosing what appeals to us, the argument fails.

The reality is that we do not get to choose what happens to be true. I like to believe I have a million dollar balance in my checking account. Believing I am a millionaire appeals to me. Living according to my belief, I write checks all over town that upsets retailers who do not get the funds promised. When I act out of faith, I cannot live consistently with my belief because my faith does not correspond with reality. I can then conclude that my belief is false.

Is it possible to determine to the same degree of certainty that a religion is true or false? The answer is probably not since we are dealing with spiritual matters. Spiritual matters correspond to a realm outside of our material universe and cannot be measured with any degree of precision or even experienced according to our physical senses. Then how can any faith system claim to be true?

My Atheist/Humanist friends like to use a phrase to replace of the word “faith” when they speak of matters that cannot be or have not been proven. They like to say, “I have a conditional acceptance that it is true.” In the same manner we can apply that phrase to matters of faith. As fallible beings we must acknowledge that we hold an incomplete understanding of many things. For this reason many of our beliefs about reality require an element of faith, or conditional acceptance.

Paul recognized this principle when he wrote to the Corinthians approximately 20 years after Christ’s crucifixion.

“Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (NASB95)

Paul had a conditional acceptance in the Christian faith dependent upon the truth of the resurrection. If the resurrection is not true, Christianity is false and Paul knew it. He wanted the Corinthians to know it, too. Paul was writing at time when witnesses to the truth of the resurrection were still alive and could easily corroborate or deny his testimony. He believed as people have for over 2000 years that Christianity is true, reasonable and corresponds to reality. The miracle of the resurrection affirmed that what Jesus testified about himself was true.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6

Jesus said it. I believe it. And that settles it for me.

It is no big secret that the kids of today are faced with a far more threatening society than a generation ago. Christian parents today are assigned the task of not only protecting their children, but also teaching them to navigate the challenges to their faith. Today in my women’s Bible study class, we questioned a panel of teens about their walk, challenges to their faith and how they cope. It was obvious early on that the small panel was populated by kids raised in Christian homes with both parents present and were protected within a Christian community. None of them seem to have tarried far from home spiritually.

The teens were transparent and honest as the mothers in the room questioned them about dating, cell phones and peer pressure. As I listened to their answers, I was encouraged by their tendency to return to the values and biblical training they had received in the home. I was struck by how confident they seemed that ultimately whether they stand or fall depends more on the health of their own personal relationship with Christ, and less on what their parents did or did not do. Although, they did recognize that their parents’ lifestyle shaped their own beliefs and the strength thereof.

What concerned me was something one of the teenage boys, Darrin, said (and the others agreed) in that what helped them to remain steadfast was that there was always a friend close by to say “no” with them if the occasion called for it. Given the “Christian bubble” (their words, not mine) in which they are being raised, there is no shortage of kids ready to do “the right thing.” If just one takes the first step, there is a healthy supply of teens wanting to be one of the “good kids” especially when it is cool to be Christian. Not so in the real world. How well will these kids survive in a culture that accuses them of being intolerant, uneducated, and hateful? Will they have the courage to be faithful when it will cost them community? How can we as parents prepare our kids to stand alone and to remain standing alone if it is required of them?

I think the answer lies in something else Darrin shared (and the others concurred.) Repeatedly as the kids answered the questions, they voiced how invaluable experience is to them in preparation for adulthood, whether it was practice driving a car or communicating with unbelievers at work. They recognized the value of testing their skills within the shelter of their parents’ guidance before their skills were tested by life. Sharron expressed quite honestly how ill-equipped she felt when confronted by a co-worker regarding her faith. Tamara shared how excited she was to be taking a class on apologetics next year at school to help prepare her to meet those challenges. Todd added that he felt blessed to have knowledgeable parents who could answer his questions. Darrin stressed how necessary it was for him to live his testimony, otherwise his words (arguments) were meaningless. I am sure their mothers sitting in the audience were proud of the young men and women of God that their children were becoming.

Everyone on the panel seemed solid in what they believed; however, it was obvious that the challenges to their belief systems were closely monitored and therefore minimal as compared to what they will face when they move away from home and enter college soon. At that time they will experience a full blown assault on their beliefs. Will they withstand the purposeful unraveling of their worldview having not experienced such assaults while in the home? Statistically only 2 of the five will remain faithful; the rest will embrace a relativistic view of truth and therefore reject the absolute claims of Christianity.

At the conclusion of the panel, I was encouraged to continue speaking the truth of scripture into my children’s lives while remaining steadfast myself as I demonstrate a lifestyle of faithfulness. But I also felt the urgency to allow my children opportunities to test their own walk. I think as parents we can err too far on the side of caution, fiercely protecting our children from evil and rob them of the opportunities to develop skills necessary to meet the very real challenges they are destined to face. Like Lot, we are raising our children in a cultural Sodom and we are challenged with raising morally and spiritually pure hearts and minds in a morally bankrupt society. A mature faith can withstand the temptations to compromise our beliefs. And maturity comes only through the testing of our faith. As the old adage says, “Practice makes perfect.”

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:2–4

If God allows the testing of His children’s faith, perhaps there is wisdom in my getting out of Gods’ way and allowing my children the same. There seems to exist somewhere between protecting a child’s innocence and exposing him to the elements an elusive balance for which we must strive. Where that balance lies, depends on the child himself. How successfully we as parents prepare that child to navigate life ultimately lies not only in how well we know Christ and live a life without compromise, but also how well we know our child. Freedom without boundaries is bondage (consider the lawless societies of South Africa). As a child matures and begins to self-impose boundaries that honor God, we can begin to trust the investment we have made in them. We discover that fine balance and allow our teen to live freely as they persevere with Christ so that they will be complete and not lacking anything.

(Names have been changed because, frankly, I don’t remember them.)

“What is truth?” –Pontius Pilate (~33BC)

Ideas have consequences. It only takes a brief scan of the front page of your local paper or a 60 second sound bite on CNN to confirm this reality. What determines whether our beliefs have ultimately positive or negative consequences? Could it be whether or not our beliefs correspond with reality?

As my children grew older, their insatiable desire for answers grew with their stature. I recalled at 8 years old my own persistent questions drove my mother to schedule weekly sessions for me with the pastor so I could quiz him… and give her a break. The sad thing was that he was ill equipped to answer my simplest questions. “Who made God? How do we know God is real? Why does God send people to hell who never heard of Him?” What is even more tragic is that 30 years later as my children began to ask these same questions, I realized that the church was still grossly ill-equipped to grapple with these issues. So where is a mother to go to find the answers?

 My journey to find answers led me to a study of Christian apologetics and I in turn invested that knowledge into my children. But I am still grieved by the failure of the church to equip members to defend their faith and give a reason for the hope they have. I think things are changing with the emergence of wise men and women welcoming challenges to their faith on the public stage. Conferences are popping up all over the country to educate and equip the faithful, but do conferences effect real change especially for women?

I know that for me as an external student separated from the camaraderie of my peers, my motivation is challenged in the absence of community. Conferences are good for me in that I can mingle with like minded people who are as passionate about equipping the church as I am. But that connection soon fades as everyone goes about the business of building the Kingdom. We are each islands to ourselves, lacking unity and ultimately effecting little change. One challenge I hear repeated by those in the field of apologetics is that it is an uphill battle, not for the faint of heart. But what if we all banned together creating a unified network focused on meeting the challenge at the grass roots level?

 The effort to equip the church with the tools to defend the faith has up to now been largely a top to bottom effort. We offer conferences, write books, speak to large audiences to get the information in the hands of the church, but is real discipleship accomplished in mass or in person? If those involved in the Christian Apologetics movement are really serious about equipping mothers raising up the next generation, they needs to offer community and one-on-one (or one-on-few) discipleship. When the church successfully equips moms such that they know what they believe and why, then our children will have a faith built on rock.

 The latest studies are showing that children raised in Christian homes are not losing their faith in college as previously believed; they are losing their faith in 7th and 8th grade when they are still in our homes. Our children need to know that the Christian faith corresponds with reality so that, when they do leave our homes, they know what they believe and why. It is the mother who speaks truth into her children everyday who will one day see her children “rise up and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28  When the women of the church are well prepared to answer the tough challenges to their faith, we can change the world.

In response to Walton-

You have raised a question that I had wrestled with for many years.

 

“If God exists, then He must be Omni-benevolent. But an Omni-benevolent God would not condemn innocent people to hell.”  So how do Christians reconcile this? I did not find a satisfactory answer until I attended seminary, in spite of grilling every pastor and Sunday school teacher I ever had.

 

I don’t do this with unbelievers, but since you profess Christianity, I will respond with scripture.

 

It appears from your comment that you agree that God is Omni-benevolent, so I will begin with the question of how an all-good God can condemn innocent people.

 

One error is in the assumption that innocent people exist. Reading Romans 3 we learn that no one is righteous, not even one. We all fall short of the glory of God. This means that everyone is guilty of sin, of missing God’s perfect standard. We are all guilty. No one is innocent. Not the suburban housewife, not the pygmy in the tree, no one.

 

Now, since you claim to be a Christian, I am also going to assume that you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior bringing me to the next point. With the certainty of eternal damnation, eternal salvation is necessary. The wages of sin is death. But how can someone who has never heard of Christ be held accountable for what has not been revealed to him? The answer is: we are each held accountable to the revelation we have received.

 

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Romans 1:18-25

 

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.g 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” John 3:16-21

 

This still leaves the suburban housewife and the pygmy in the tree held to a standard they cannot keep, and owing a debt they cannot pay. We are all given general revelation concerning God’s existence Rom. 1:20, and concerning our moral condition Rom. 1:18, John 3:19. So what is the solution? The Omni-benevolent God we serve provides special revelation, if we seek him through general revelation.

 

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

9 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  Matt. 7:7-11

 

20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. Rev. 3:20

 

Finally, our salvation relies upon the sovereignty of all good and all loving God. If God is all powerful and sovereign, then He will save all those who seek and trust Him. Because He is all loving, He does not force anyone into His presence against their will.

 

It is appointed to every man, once to die and then judgment. Heb. 9:27