Archive for the ‘1’ Category

Already Gone

A few months back someone recommended a book to me.  The name of the book is “Already Gone: Why Your Kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it” by Ken Ham and Brit Beemer
Among the things they write in their book, they state that since 1969, 1500 churches in England have closed.  They also quote George Barna:
“A majority of twenty-somethings – 61% of today’s young adults – had been churched at one point during their teen years but they are now spiritually disengaged (i.e., not actively attending church, reading the Bible, or praying).
Ham and Beemer conducted their own study which led them to conclude that:
“We are losing many more people by middle school and many more by high school than we will ever lose in college.” p.32
“Many parents will fork out big bucks to send these students to Christian colleges, hoping to protect them in their faith.  But the fact is, they’re already gone.” p.32
In their study, they found about those who no longer believe that all of the accounts and stories in the Bible are true, that:
– 39.8% first had doubts in middle school
– 43.7% first had their doubts in high school
– 10.6% had their first doubts during college
To what does they attribute this? Two reasons:
1. The acceptance of Theistic Evolution by the church.
Theistic Evolution basically teaches that God used evolution to bring the different life forms into being.  That evolution happened over very long periods of time, much longer than. . . seven literal days.
In the late 18th century and early 19th century the scientific community in Europe began to propagate the theory of evolution, and what happened next was that many leaders of the church of England led the churches to believe the idea that the earth is millions or billions of years old and to try to reconcile this idea with the Bible.
Obviously, the way to do this was to reinterpret the days of creation as long periods of time.  Others adopted the “gap theory” explaining that there was a gap of millions of years between the first two verses of Genesis.
So here’s Ham and Beemer’s conclusion on this point:
“Effectively, the church basically hands over the history of the universe to the secular educational institutions, and concentrates on the spiritual and moral aspects of Christianity.  The church actually disconnects the Bible from the real world.  The children . . . in the churches are really taught that in the church, one doesn’t deal with geology, biology, and so on – that is for school.  In church we talk about Jesus – we deal with doctrines and we study moral and spiritual matters – but anything pertaining to understanding geology, astronomy, anthropology, and so forth is left in school.” p.78
“Please understand this!  Ninety percent of children from church homes attend public/government schools.  There, by and large, they are taught a biological, anthropological, geological, and astronomical history of the universe that totally contradicts the Bible’s account of creation, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.” p.78
[By the way, I strongly recommend you rent and watch the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.  With and by Ben Stein]
2. Attendance to Sunday School.
“Sunday school is actually more likely to be detrimental to the spiritual and moral health of our children.” p.38
His argument is that in Sunday School children are taught stories from the Bible, but because what they learn in public school totally contradicts the creation account, children actually begin to accept the fact that the Bible is not credible and therefore it is irrelevant in their lives.
I don’t believe they goes far or deep enough in their conclusions.
On point number 2 – Sunday School by its very nature, being on Sunday, undermines the Bible.  We can’t conclude the same about Sabbath School because Sabbath School, by its very nature, affirms the creation story, and thus validates the Bible.
But point number is more troublesome because so many of our own parents are sacrificing their children at the public school altar and then, when they begin to show signs of disconnect with the church, they want their kids to go to one of our colleges or universities.  The majority, by this point, don’t even want to go to an Adventist college or university – they conclude they are too restrictive, too conservative, etc.  In addition, their friends are going to public colleges. . .
But even those that attend an Adventist college already face a huge challenge.  Ham and Beemer conclude:
“A Christian college experience can be a very positive thing for a growing Christian’s faith.  But the numbers indicate that parents must look at their children’s early years in elementary and middle school to make sure they are prepared to defend their faith.  Because if they don’t, before they even get to college, they are already gone.” p.91-92
Whenever I hear that we’re spending too much money at the conference for Adventist education or for Adventist schools I can’t help but think of this book and ask myself, what is the price for our children’s eternal salvation?
As parents, am I willing to provide my kids with a large screen, flat panel, high definition TV, but not with the opportunity and the environment where my kids will have the best chance at salvation?
Do I want them to get the best education taxes can offer even if that means placing my kids in an environment where they will hear things which will cause them to question or doubt the validity of the Bible?
When I hear about the quality of education Adventist schools offer, compared to what the public schools offer, why do we still believe what they offer is better than what we have?
Every year I see the scores from national standardized tests and consistently they show that students in Adventist schools perform better than students in public schools, and yet many parents continue to buy into the lie that public schools are better than Adventist schools, and they have taught their children that Adventist schools are not as good as public schools and they are too expensive to boot. . . no wonder their children don’t want to attend our schools, following a myth instead of reality.
From the time our daughters were old enough to understand we taught them about the blessings of Adventist education, and we made it clear that they only had one choice until after college: Either they attended a church school, or they would have to have their mom and dad for their teachers.  Faced with that choice, they never, ever brought up the possibility of attending a public school.  Once you provide the choice of the “forbidden fruit” – public school – children will do anything to eat of that fruit.
I always said, when I get to heaven, if my girls are not there because they chose not to be, I want to face my God and tell Him – I provided them with everything they needed to have the best chance at salvation.  If I put them in public school, and don’t take them to church, and don’t spend time praying with them and studying the Bible with them at home, what will I tell my God?
We have our schools to provide our children with the best chance for them to come to know Jesus.  That chance, complemented with the work of the church and of the parents at home, will give them the best chance at salvation.
“Our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range. There is need of a broader scope, a higher aim. True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come.”  {Ellen G. White, Education, p. 13}
“To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized–this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.”  {Ibid, p.15}
True education, such as is offered in our schools – or should be offered, if it is not – should bring us all to the first four words of the Bible: “In the beginning GOD…”  because that is what everything is all about, to Him we owe it all, and to Him we’re preparing to go.  And no sacrifice is too big to make to ensure our children come to the same conclusion.
“In the beginning GOD.”

Read Full Post »

No Doubt

Make it a rule never to utter one word of doubt or discouragement. You can do much to brighten the life of others and strengthen their efforts, by words of hope and holy cheer.  {SC 119}

Our words have tremendous power to discourage or encourage others, to create doubt or hope, to bring sadness or joy.  We may think we’re venting our souls to friends and thus unloading our burdens before those we love and trust, but we may be inadvertently placing a burden on them which could weigh them down, if not crush them.

I think there is a time to speak with others, however, and that’s when we grieve and have sorrow as a result of a loss or pain.  During an illness, following the loss of a loved one, or during a time of crisis, it is important that we not bottle inside us the feelings we have but that we share them with a trusted friend or loved one.  Above all, we can unload our burden in prayer to God.  Ellen White, in the same paragraph quoted above, writes, “All have trials; griefs hard to bear, temptations hard to resist. Do not tell your troubles to your fellow mortals, but carry everything to God in prayer.”  Our God has bigger shoulders than any and all our friends or loved ones, and He’s not weighed down or bothered with our pain or sorrow.  But I also understand that sometimes the human touch is a wonderful healing balm for those whose soul is parched due to pain and grief.  Talk your pain and grief out, first of all with God, and then with a trusted friend or loved one, but be careful not to place on them a burden that will cause them to be weighed down, to stumble, or to fall.

Read Full Post »

The Prayer God Loves to Answer

For my morning devotional this morning I read these words:

The assurance is broad and unlimited, and He is faithful who has promised. When we do not receive the very things we asked for, at the time we ask, we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers. We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good–that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you.”  {Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 96}

We get so impatient when our prayers don’t seem to be answered the way we want to or when we want them to be answered.  But the words above remind us that God still answers our prayers, with the answer that He knows to be best for us, with the answer we would choose if we knew, like Him, the end from the beginning, the answer that, looking back, we know to be best for us and which brings us the most good.

I can recall so many times when I wanted something and yet it didn’t happen as I had wanted, which brought great disappointment,  only to receive later something many times better than what I had hoped for or prayed for.  If I had planned my life, it would most likely not be the way it has turned out; and yet, I’m very happy with the way it has turned out.

So, pray without ceasing and then watch to see what the Lord has in store for you.  Then, fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

Read Full Post »

Faithful Watchmen

Scripture: (Ezek 33:7 NKJV)  “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me.

Observation: Ezekiel speaks of the responsibility he, as God’s spokesman, bears to warn the people of both upcoming danger and also of their current condition as “wicked” and the results if they continue living in sin.

Application: Parents have a unique perspective over their children because they have lived longer, experienced more, and hopefully learned from their own experience so they can see what their children are doing and where their steps may lead them.  While children don’t want to hear those words from their parents, it is true that “I’ve been there” can be a wealth of experience that their children can benefit from.
This text reminds us as parents that we need to be responsible watchmen for our families in the two ways Ezekiel was to play that role:
1. Guidance for the Future.  Planing for the future, preparing children for what is to come, helping them to plan for the future – all these are the responsibility of each parent from before the children are born and throughout their life.
2. Guidance for the Present.  While children will complain that we are nagging them, we cannot neglect the responsibility to guide them and help them to live lives based on God’s principles as outlined in His word.  Obviously I would not recommend nagging your children but rather leading them by example.  And yet, do not fail to warn them and help them so they may make changes in their life rather than perish in their sin.

Prayer: Father, help us to be faithful watchmen for our children.

Read Full Post »

Two Are Better Than One

Scripture: (Eccl 4:9-12 NKJV) Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. {10} For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. {11} Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? {12} Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Observation: Solomon writes of things he has evidently drawn from his personal experience in his search for true joy and happiness. After having experienced just about everything a man in his position can, he comes to realize that none of it brings him true, lasting happiness. It is then that he faces the reality that true, lasting happiness comes from loving and serving God. In today’s verses, Solomon speaks of the value of TWO. The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains:

In contrast with the futility of selfish greed, Solomon commended sharing with others by citing several advantages that come from companionship: better profit (a good return) from one’s labor (v. 9), help in time of difficulty (v. 10), comfort in time of need (v. 11; one’s body heat can keep another person from freezing), protection in time of danger (v. 12). The last three of these are illustrated by examples from the benefits of two persons traveling together. In the case of the second and third of these (vv. 10b, 11b) Solomon lamented the perils of isolation (characteristic of selfish greed; cf. “a man all alone,” v. 8a).

Having set forth the advantages of joint effort and the mutual benefits of sharing one’s toil and its fruit with another, Solomon stated climactically that if two are better than one (v. 9) then three are even better (v. 12). One’s efforts and benefits should not be confined to merely two persons.

Application: It’s interesting that Solomon had this insights which have now proved to be correct based on current marriage research. The advantages of marriage include, among others, financial, social, educational, health-wise. Financial, married people enjoy better finances because they have more stable jobs, and have more plans for their future therefore tend to save more, spend less, and invest more wisely. Social, the couples’ commitment to each other and to their relationship are stronger than among those who simply live together. When it comes to health, married man in particular are healthier than single men – maybe because of their spouse’ attention or because of their insistence they visit the doctor or eat better or exercise. Psychologically, single and divorced women tend to have higher levels of depression than married women.

So, if you’re married, count your many blessings. Some married people look at the other side of the marital fence, at single life, as one which would give them the happiness they desire, and when they jump to that side of the fence they find out that married life actually offered them a much better condition altogether. Stay in your marriage, fight for it, work to make it better; the benefits are plentiful and measurable.

Prayer: Father, thank you for designing marriage for our benefit. Bless our unions that we may enjoy and appreciate those benefits and the spouse with whom we get to enjoy them.

Read Full Post »