Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

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 »

They Made It Clear

Scripture: (Neh 8:8 NKJV)  So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

Observation: As the building of the city of Jerusalem and of the temple were finished, Nehemiah and the leaders recognized the need for a consecration of the people to God.  Ezra, the scribe, stood before everyone gathered and read to them the words of the Book of the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, or the Torah.  As the people heard the stories and the regulations found in those books, they were moved in their hearts.  But it wasn’t enough to just read the Law, the Levites helped the people to understand it by explaining its content and meaning.

Application: I encourage daily, regular reading of the Bible personally and at home.  Personally, I encourage everyone to read through their Bibles every year.  I have followed that practice for many years and have read through the entire Bible, in many different versions and translations, in two languages, every day of the year (with just a few exceptions), and doing so has enriched my life and opened windows of information, knowledge, and faith I might not otherwise have.
Beyond a reading of the Bible, though, there must be thoughtful study of selected passages, stories, sections of the Scriptures for deeper understanding.  Also, for daily family worship, at least a portion of the Scriptures should be read and discussed.  It doesn’t have to be a long theological dissertation and exegetical study of a passage, but at least a simple conversation of its meaning.  Dennis Raney, Christian counselor and writer says concerning our verse for today:

It occurred to me that when we read the Bible to our families, we need to do so in a way so that we understand what we have just read, and that our children also grasp the meaning.
It’s easy to stick to the text of the Scripture and read it word for word, flying by words like reproach and exhortation – lofty words that may (or may not) be clear to us, but which leave our kids with blank looks on their faces.
When we read the Bible to your children, take the time to stop and explain the words and ideas they may have difficulty grasping.  If needed, try paraphrasing the text to give them a down-home explanation of what it’s saying.  Give them the freedom o stop you and ask what something means if they feel confused or stuck.
Reading and studying the Bible as a family can be a source of great blessing.  But we need to make sure we aren’t just reading through it as quickly as possible, without helping everyone to understand what’s being read. (From the Family Life Marriage Bible).

Prayer: Father, help us to spend time daily with Your word, to understand it, to meditate upon it, and to spend the time teaching others what we have learned from it, and from You.

Read Full Post »

Scripture: (1 Sam 17:45-47 NKJV)  Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. {46} “This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. {47} “Then all this assembly shall know that the LORD does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Observation: Goliath, the Philistine giant, taunted the Israelites and their God.  David, who had come to bring some food for his brothers accepted Goliath’s challenge.  Both sides of the battle field were drawn and watched as the two contenders came face to face: on the one side Goliath, a large man with great experience in battle; on the other, young shepherd David.  Goliath, presumptuous and arrogant, threatened David, and being self-confident, he took his helmet off.  David, whose faith was child-like, relied not on the king’s armor by on God’s power to defeat this giant.  David used what he was skilled at and what was at hand – a sling and five smooth stones, but all he needed was one which found it’s target on the head of the giant who fell down and was decapitated by David.

Application: We not have to battle a Goliath, but during these times of economic uncertainties, high unemployment, etc., just surviving seems like we’re fighting an invincible giant.  I have some suggestions that could help you, if you apply them to your personal and family finances:
1. Transfer Ownership of Everything to God.
All things that we have  belong to God; we are the stewards!  Nothing really belonged to us. Our house, cars, clothing, children, and jobs were all gifts from a loving father and we were simply stewards of those gifts.  A steward knows that his responsibility is to care for the possessions of the owner. He never sees them as his own. God gives to us not so we can possess, keep, and hoard them, but so that we can be vessels and pipelines of His blessing to others. When we are trustworthy, it makes it possible for Him to bless us even more. His ownership has a single goal: to use all of His resources to be a blessing to His children.
2. Tithe and Give Offerings Joyously.
You don’t have to understand all about how tithing works; you just need to know that it does. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. God “prefers” our giving and tithing to be accompanied by which characteristic?
3. Work Hard.
God intended us to learn this important value of character. According to God’s plan for the family, we are to earn our bread by the toil and sweat of our brow. Work is satisfying, molds character, and develops gratitude, appreciation, and value.
4. Make a Realistic Budget and Keep Accurate Records.
The culprit in family finance problems is not the big-ticket items. It is the steady drip, drip, drip of spending on little purchases that no one tracks. You hit the ATM machine all weekend and end up broke on Monday with no idea where the money went. The absence of an accurate record of spending keeps couples from making good financial decisions.
5. Get out from under the Bondage of Debt.
Your attitude toward money will make a huge difference in the success or failure of your family. A familiar phrase from wedding ceremonies, ‘”Til death us do part,” has tragically become, “Til debt us do part!”  If you have credit card bills which have built up to thousands of dollars, and you no longer even have the disposable items that created the debt, that is the bondage debt about which we speak. If the item for which you went into debt does not provide collateral that is worth more than the indebtedness held against it, you have a problem in the making. To get out of debt, follow these principles:
• Pay Your Bills.
• Get Help.
• Change Your Lifestyle.

May you be victorious as you battle the economic giant that threaten to consume us and our family.

Prayer: Father, everything there is belongs to You and yet You give us so much of it for our benefit.  May we never forget to return joyfully the small portion You require of us, and help us to give generously so that others may come to know You.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Scripture: (Judg 14:1-3 NKJV)  Now Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines. {2} So he went up and told his father and mother, saying, “I have seen a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines; now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” {3} Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”

Observation: Samson became obsessed with a woman from Timnah and insisted, against his parent’s advice, that they get her for him.  They objected because marriage with an unbeliever, in fact a pagan, was strictly forbidden.  But Samson was insistent and his parents, who were obviously indulgent of their only son, gave in and made the appropriate arrangements for Samson to have her.  Just reading the rest of the chapter tells us of the horrible results of such actions which eventually led to his involvement with a prostitute, Delilah, and to his capture and eventual demise.

Application: In our day we don’t have arranged marriages, at least in our western culture, and yet I can’t help but wonder how many people I personally know would be so much better off if they had only listened to their parents and of others I know right now who are going against the advice of family and friends totally ignoring their advice, their feelings, and their dislike of the person they are dating.  It’s as if they believe that by stubbornly staying with that person they will force their family and friends to dismiss their concerns for their relationships and they will come to like, or even love the other person.  In the PREPARE inventory I provide to couples contemplating marriage, one of the areas we look at is the parents and friends’ reaction to the couple’s relation.  When their reaction is positive, the couple not only seems to do better but also, logically, they have one less thing to work on or worry about.  The opposite is also true of the couples who don’t enjoy the support of their family or friends; it’s like fighting an uphill battle as they begin to form their new relationship and without the love and support of those closest to them.
While the family may not always be right in their feelings or opinions of your boyfriend or girlfriend, if there are negative feelings already going into the relationship, chances are that they won’t get any better later.  Listen to what your family and friends are trying to tell you; they are trying to help you, and they may be saving you from a life of hardship and pain.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the wise counsel of family and friends.  May we be attentive to what they have to tell us, specially if that has to do with following Your guidance and when it comes to those relationships which we hope will be life-lasting.

Read Full Post »

Scripture: (Judg 7:20 NKJV)  Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers; they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing; and they cried, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!”

Observation: Gideon’s large army had been pruned down to a very small number, particularly when compared with the army of the Midianites.  Then, they surrounded the Midianites and at the right moment they broke the pitchers, blew the trumpets, and lifted the torches at the same time as they shouted, “The sword of the Lord…”  To the half-asleep Midianite army, the noise, sights, the lights must have seemed like millions, and that caused great panic and confusion which led to their great defeat.  While on my last visit to Israel, several years ago, I remember our guide telling us that during the war with Syria over the Golan Heights, one lone Israeli tank operator did a very heroic feat.  He would drive up to the ridge and fire against the Syrians, then drive down, move to another location, drive up the ridge, fire, and repeated the same action from several locations.  Down below, on the Syrian side, they could see tanks going up and down and firing upon them and they though it was an entire combat unit, and those actions slowed down just enough for the Israeli army to come to the Golan Heights to defend that strategic site.  I imagine something similar took place during the battle when Gideon led the Israelites against the Midianites. . . who knows, maybe the Israeli tank soldier remembered this battle and knew that even a few can win a battle over the most.  Then again, it was God fighting on the side of Gideon and his army, not just the military tactics they employed.

Application: Today we’re enjoying family togetherness as our younger daughter, who studies at Andrews University in Michigan, is home for spring break.  Our older daughter, who lives nearby, is joinging us, and the four of us plan to spend the day together.  Those opportunities don’t come by too often nowadays, so we praise and than God for it.  As I think of the battle of Gideon’s army, I can’t help but think of the battles we as parents have to fight for our children.  The enemies of our children are great and many and at times we are overwhelmed and shaken to think of these seemly insurmountable foes.  But maybe that’s why this story is here, to remind us as parents that we may be small and seemly powerless, but if we blow the trumpet and lift up the torch (God’s word), victory will be ours and our children’s.  I would like to liken blowing the trumpet to our living testimony, and lifting the torch to studying the Bible – I suppose if you want to take the analogy further, you could say that breaking the pitchers is eliminating those negative influences that threaten to enslave us and our children.  But we do know and must be fully convinced of is that the Battle is the Lord and we need to commit ourselves and our children to Him if we’re to gain the final victory.
I know the following passages are not directly related to what I just concluded, but they are very inspiring nonetheless.
“The leader whom God chose to overthrow the Midianites occupied no prominent position in Israel. He was not a ruler, a priest, or a Levite. He thought himself the least in his father’s house. But God saw in him a man of courage and integrity. He was distrustful of himself and willing to follow the guidance of the Lord. God does not always choose for His work men of the greatest talents, but He selects those whom He can best use. “Before honor is humility.” Proverbs 15:33. The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom.
If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His people; but there are few who can be trusted with any large measure of responsibility or success without becoming self-confident and forgetful of their dependence upon God. This is why, in choosing the instruments for His work, the Lord passes by those whom the world honors as great, talented, and brilliant. They are too often proud and self-sufficient. They feel competent to act without counsel from God.”  {Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 553}
“The Lord is willing to do great things for us. We shall not gain the victory through numbers, but through the full surrender of the soul to Jesus. We are to go forward in His strength, trusting in the mighty God of Israel. There is a lesson for us in the story of Gideon’s army. . . . The Lord is just as willing to work through human efforts now, and to accomplish great things through weak instrumentalities.  {Ellen G. White, Conflict and Courage, p. 127}

Prayer: Father, give the courage to go through this conflict and win the final battle against your foe.  But also give us the victory with and for our children that we together may enjoy the rewards of eternal life together.

Read Full Post »

Scripture: (Judg 4:4-5 NKJV)  Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. {5} And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Observation: Deborah, a prophetess, was also the leader of Israel at the time.  He called Barak to pursue Sisera, one of Israel’s enemies.  At the end, Deborah and Jael, who killed Sisera in her tent, turned out to be the courageous heroines of this story

Application: This is one of those amazing stories of courage displayed not just by one but by two women of the Bible.  There are homes where men are weak and easily led by others or by sins or habits that threaten to destroy their marriage, their family, their finances, and even the very men practicing them.  It is at those times when a courageous woman has to take the reins of their home lest everyone and everything they have be consumed.
Every home has a clearly defined leader, even if the relationship between spouses is egalitarian.  The bible’s ideal is that the man should have that headship since that is a reflection of the order in God’s universe and he serves as a reflection of God and the relationship of Christ as the husband and the church as His bride.  Today’s reality is that some men are not that type of reflection and don’t demonstrate the correct pattern established by Christ.  In addition, some women are raising a family with the absence of a husband or father of her children.  In these cases, women can and must serve the role of headship in their homes in order to maintain it intact and thrive even under less than ideal circumstances.

Prayer: Father, bless the women who under difficult circumstances labor to keep their families intact and healthy.  May they reflect faithfully the image of Christ in their lives.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »