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Posts Tagged ‘Adventist’

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.”

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Scripture: (1 Sam 13:19-22 NKJV)  Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears.” {20} But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man’s plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; {21} and the charge for a sharpening was a pim for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. {22} So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.

Observation: Saul’s reign was not peaceful as he battled the Philistines and other nations that surrounded Israel.  And while his beginning was promising, prophesying and making the right choices, little by little he began to decline in spirituality, in the respect that the people had for him, and in power.
The Philistines exerted enough control over the nations around them, including Israel, that they would not even allow them to have their own silversmiths so they would not make their own weapons; obviously, this was a problem for the Israelites as they tried to defend themselves.

Application: I read this story and immediately thought of what today’s world is doing in our homes by creating a thousand and one distractions so that we don’t spend any time “sharpening our swords,” that is, studying the Bible.  I’m particularly concerned with parents who believe that sending their children to non-Adventist or even public schools is a good choice and will not affect their children adversely.  It is as if the world has disarmed parents so when the battle for their children’s lives comes parents are  totally unprepared for it.
I don’t want to take this image too far, but the reality is that unless we are studying God’s word, for ourselves, daily, as the battle lines are drawn and we’re called to fight the enemy of souls, we are in peril of losing the only battle that really matters and carrying our children to the same fate.  Spend time each day with God’s Word, treasure it in your heart and mind, and see that your children enjoy the benefits of your study so they may follow your example and have their own swords sharpened and ready for the ultimate battle, the battle for their souls.

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your Word, the weapon You have given us to battle the forces of evil.  Help us to keep it sharp and ready by studying it every day.

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Scripture: (Judg 2:10 NKJV)  When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.

Observation: After the death of Joshua and the people of his generation had passed away, things changed very quickly in Israel, but not for the best.  The rapid decline in their spirituality reflects the rapid abandonment of God’s will for them.  First of all, the Israelites stopped their conquest of the Promised Land from going as far as God intended it should.  Secondly, they left entire cities, and their inhabitants, alive and established relationships with them.  And finally, they began to worship the Baals of the people of the land.  This rapid decline is what God had tried to prevent by commanding them to destroy the people of the land, but in just one generation they went from following God to worshipping Baal.

Application: I can attest to how fast things change, in one generation, when you abandon God.  My mother’s parents were the first Seventh-day Adventist converts in the city of Bucaramanga, where we were born, in the country of Colombia, South America.  When my mother was a young girl, her mother died leaving her husband to raise five young children by himself; my grandfather never remarried.  Weighed down with the heavy responsibility and with a large hospital bill after his wife’s death, my grandfather, a very responsible man, made whatever payments he could on that hospital bill but in the process he didn’t return God’s tithe faithfully; shortly after that, he stopped going to church altogether.  Eventually all but one of the children, including my mother, ended up out of the church (one died at a young age, still believing and living his faith).  As a young lady, about to graduate from high school, my mother met my father, who together with his family  was Roman Catholic.  In order for my mother to be able to marry my father she “converted” to Catholicism; in her own words, while she did everything in her power to accept, believe, and practice her new religion, she confessed to me many years later that she never really could come to believe it because the seeds of Bible truth remained deeply ingrained in her heart.  Nevertheless, she raised her children as Catholics, attending church every Sunday, and performing the rituals, or “sacraments,” required by the church such like infant baptism, “the First Communion,” “Confirmation,” etc.
As a young boy, after my first communion, I became quite active in the church and was chosen to be one of the altar boys in the church near to where we lived and where we worshiped regularly for many years.  I remember as a young boy wearing my bath robe and standing before the kitchen sink, with a slice of bread, dipping a piece of it in a glass of orange juice mixed with some water, role-playing what I saw the priest do on the altar during mass – by the way, my own “mass” was not the best as the juice was too watered down, and the bread soaked in this mixture tasted horrible.  If the priest had seen me doing this he probably would have said that even at an early age I demonstrated a vocation for the priesthood; I might say that even in the darkness was already beginning to show me a glimpse of the ministerial career I would one day follow.
In my family, all of us grew up catholic, and faithfully did the things required of good Catholics like repeating the prescribed prayers to Mary and to bow down before the many images found in churches, cathedrals, and even road side shrines.  While my mother’s brother and his family were Adventists, we never completely understood what they were or why they lived like they did; we only knew they did strange things like not watch TV on Friday nights and Saturdays, or not eating what we considered to be delicacies and which now I myself find distasteful, even disgusting.  It was only after the death of my father, and our move to the United States, that my mother returned to the Adventist faith and she and I were baptized the same day in a church in Silver Spring, Maryland.
As we reflect on our portion of the Scriptures for today, some may wonder how quickly the Israelites abandoned the faith of their fathers after all the powerful miracles He worked on their behalf.  I witnessed how easy it is to do so as with my mother’s departure from the faith as in just a few short years she went from being a Sabbath-keeping, second-coming-expecting Christian, to a Sunday-keeping, idol worshipping Catholic, and as a result, with the birth of each of her children, we were one by one introduced to the worship of these idols  and it became a simple part of our lives.
If we as parents can see how easily and quickly children learn, we would be so much more careful with our actions and words.  I am amazed at parents who don’t bring their young children to church or those who have told me that they don’t want to force them to believe as they do but want to give their children the freedom to choose what to believe only to see how quickly their children abandon the faith their parents wish they would hold as their own.  I’d like to encourage every parent to hold dear their faith and live it and teach it to their children from the time they are born that they may grow up in it from their earliest days; if we as parents don’t live our faith, we will quickly loose our children and many generations to come.

Prayer: Father, help us to live daily our faith and may we transmit it faithfully to our children and for generations to come.

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Scripture: (Exo 34:12-16 NKJV)  “Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. {13} “But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images {14} ‘(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), {15} “lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods, and one of them invites you and you eat of his sacrifice, {16} “and you take of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters play the harlot with their gods and make your sons play the harlot with their gods.

Observation: While it may seem strange to us that God would tell His people to go into the land He was giving them and completely wipe out all the people already living there, we must understand the reasons.  The basis for this command is found in the text for today.  The BKC explains: “Making a treaty with idolaters would lead to involvement in their sacrificial communal meals (34:15), to intermarrying their daughters (many of whom were spiritual and/or physical prostitutes to their gods; cf. Hosea 4:13-14), and even to making molten images (Ex. 34:17; cf. 20:4) as they had already done with the gold calf (32:4). Tragically Israel did not heed these warnings and they did in fact become involved in worshiping the Canaanites’ and others’ false gods. Ultimately this led to Israel being exiled.”
It wasn’t only the danger of rejecting God and accepting idols, it was rather what the worship of those idols would, and indeed did, lead them to do.  Many of the pagan practices included not just the worship of idols but temple prostitution and ultimately the sacrifice of children in the fire to those idols.  God knew how low such compromises would lead them and was trying to protect them from such horror.  Sadly, in their blindness and stubbornness, the Israelites disobeyed God, didn’t destroy all the people, entered into relationships with them, accepted their gods, and did sacrifice their children and their altars, both spiritually and physically.

Application: The application for us as parents today should be as clear: don’t compromise principle, choose carefully what you expose your children to.  I am amazed at how lightly parents today take the issue of Adventist education as opposed to any other.  It’s as if we have been so blinded that we don’t see what harm our children could experience if they went to a public school or a Christian school of a different faith, or what problems may arise if they become close friends with non-Adventists, or what problems may exists if they marry them.  And yet, all of us know from personal experience so many people who have indeed taken these steps and now they or their children are no longer Adventists or even believe in God.
So, watch carefully what you expose your children to – what they read, what they watch, who they associate with, where they go to school, etc.  Those decisions could have eternal consequences.

Prayer: Father, today as during the Exodus we as parents need all the wisdom You can possibly give us to make the right decisions.  I may not be anymore challenging to be a parent today than in other times, but this is our time, these are our challenges, and those are the decisions we have to make.  So, please endow us with the courage, the strength, and the wisdom to do what is right, even if it’s no popular with our children or others.

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