Friday, April 24, 2015

A Normal Girl

Toward the end of C. S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, the senior demon, Screwtape is giving a toast to the graduates of the College of Temptors and discussing some great problems his generation was able to create in the hearts of the humans. Specifically, he is talking about the desire to be “normal” and “like everyone else”, he says:
All is summed up in the prayer which a young female human is said to have uttered recently:  “O God, make me a normal twentieth-century girl!”  Thanks to our labors, this will mean increasingly:  “Make me a minx, a moron, and a parasite.” 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

American Christianity

An excerpt from Eugene Peterson’s, Under the Unpredictable Plant (1992), pp. 35-37.

… Religious activity on our continent is very popular. There is absolute religious freedom, which means that we can be reli­gious any old way we want to. But the way we want to doesn't turn out to be anything close to resembling the biblical origi­nals.

North American religion is basically a consumer religion. Americans see God as a product that will help them to live well, or to live better. Having seen that, they do what consumers do, shop for the best deal. Pastors, hardly realizing what we are doing, start making deals, packaging the God-product so that people will be attracted to it and then presenting it in ways that will beat out the competition. Religion has never been so taken up with public relations, image building, salesmanship, marketing techniques, and the competitive spirit. Pastors who grow up in this atmosphere have no awareness that there is anything out of the way in such practices...

… Far from being radical and dynamic, most religion is a lethargic rubber stamp on worldly wisdom, leading us not to freedom but, in Chesterton's words, to "the degrading slavery of being a child of [this] age."

Something similar took place in the field of education. Our educational priorities and practices have produced a popu­lation with a high degree of literacy so that virtually everyone has access to learning. The reading skills that used to be the privilege of a few people are now available to all. But with what result? TV Guide is our highest circulation magazine, with Reader's Digest a strong second. Our nation of readers uses its wonderful literacy to read billboards, commercials, watered down pep talks, and humorous anecdotes. I don't think I would voluntarily live in a place where education was available only to the wealthy and privileged, but simply providing everyone with the ability to read seems to have lowered rather than raised the intellectual level of the nation.

Likewise, I would never voluntarily live in a place where the freedom to choose and practice religion was illegal and had to be pursued underground, but when I look at the results of this most extensive experiment in the freedom of religion that the world has ever seen, I am not impressed. Surveyed as a whole, we are immersed in probably the most immature and mindless religion, ranging from infantile to adolescent, that any culture has ever witnessed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

George WIll

  • The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.
  • The pursuit of perfection often impedes improvement.
  • Some parents say it is toy guns that make boys warlike. But give a boy a rubber duck and he will seize its neck like the butt of a pistol and shout 'Bang!'
  • Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.
  • Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.
  • The future has a way of arriving unannounced.
  • Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good.
  • As advertising blather becomes the nation's normal idiom, language becomes printed noise.
  • Constitutional arguments that seem as dry as dust can have momentous consequences.
  • Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid for one's friends.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Christin's Quote Book

  • Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies. –Groucho Marx
  • It’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. –Yogi Berra
  • There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. —W. Somerset Maugham
  • Crying to get what you want is only successful in proportion to how cute you are. —Bill McCurry
  • Attempted murder should carry the same penalty as first-degree murder. Otherwise, you’re simply rewarding incompetence. ―Burt Prelutsky

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Jesus is Lord!

I am very grateful to see First Baptist Church of Nacogdoches distributing the “Jesus is Lord” yard signs in our community. We’re blessed to live in a city with many sincere and faithful believers. I also want to thank all those who are willing to be bold in their proclamation of the Lordship of Christ. It reminds me that in our country there are way more than 7,000 who haven’t bowed the knee to Baal (and other gods).

The declaration that “Jesus is Lord” is central and carries with it powerful implications for those who profess it as well as those who hear it. The Lordship of Christ is comprehensive. The Lordship of Christ is personal, familial, corporate and cosmic. When He is the Lord of a person it changes everything; how they live, look, talk, serve, love, spend, vote, and much more. The Lordship of Christ governs families, with parents raising their children at every turn in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He is the Lord of churches and other communities and makes them better places to live. Ultimately, the Lord rules the universe; it was made by Him and for Him and it’s ultimately accountable to Him.

One of the great men who taught me about the comprehensive nature of the Lordship of Christ―Dr. Cornelius Van Til― has offered these insights:

There has been thought that religion is a condiment that may be added to the otherwise neutral territories of life…

And anyone who comes to grips with it [i.e., the Lordship of Christ] at all will sense the impossibility of thinking of Christian education as being ninety or sixty or thirty or ten percent like other education, the only difference being that Christian education adds certain elements or emphasizes certain elements that secular education neglects.  When viewed from this absolute standpoint Christian education is not even a fraction of one percent like public education.  The different conceptions of God that underlie the two educational theories cover every point on the whole front and cover them before and behind, without and within…

This, then, is the point.  The war between Christ and Satan is a global war.  It is carried on, first, in the hearts of men for the hearts of men.  Through preaching and teaching in the church and in the home, through the witness borne individual men everywhere, the allegiance of men is turned away from Satan to Christ.  But the warfare is also carried on where you might least expect it.  It is carried on in the field of reading and writing and arithmetic, in the field of nature study and history.  At every point Satan seeks boys and girls, as well as men and women to take the attitude that he got Eve and Adam to take at the beginning of History.  Everywhere and at every point Satan’s theme song is:  “Let’s be broad-minded; at the beginning of our research your hypothesis about God’s creating and directing the course of history is as good as mine and mine is as good as yours.  Now let’s be open-minded and find out from the facts, whose hypothesis fits reality.
And now the reason why we are willing as Christian believers in general, and as Christian parents in particular, to sacrifice so largely for the sake of having Christian schools is that we want our children with us to see the vision of the all-conquering Christ as he wrests the culture of mankind away from Satan and brings it to its consummation when the new heavens and the new earth on which righteousness shall dwell, at last appears...
...There is not a square inch of ground in heaven or on earth or under the earth in which there is peace between Christ and Satan.  And what is all-important for us as we think of the Christian school is that, according to Christ, every man, woman, and child is every day and everywhere involved in this struggle.  No one can stand back, refusing to become involved.  He is involved from the day of his birth and even before his birth.  Jesus said: “He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”  If you say that you are not involved you are in fact involved on Satan’s side.  If you say you are involved in the struggle between Christ and Satan in the area of the family and in the church, but not in the school, you are deceiving yourself.  In that case you are not really fully involved in the family and in the church.  You cannot expect to train intelligent, well-informed soldiers of the cross of Christ unless the Christ is held up before them as the Lord of culture as well as the Lord of religion.  It is of the nature of the conflict between Christ and Satan to be all-comprehensive. [Cornelius Van Til, Essays on Christian Education, pp.26-28]

Joshua expressed this comprehensive struggle very clearly when he declared: “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).

Saturday, April 18, 2015

College 101

I have been more than involved with the revival of Christian education in America over the past 35 years. Its growth and development have been remarkable and powerful. Many parents have recognized the essential nature of a Christian education and have made the sacrifices to provide (when possible) both home schools and Christian day schools as some of the means of achieving this important work. R. L. Dabney is worth hearing again on this:

The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth. It is the one business for which the earth exists. To it all politics, all war, all literature, all money-making, ought to be subordinated; and every parent especially ought to feel, every hour of the day, that, next to making his own calling and election sure, this is the end for which he is kept alive by God—this is his task on earth.

And so, I must start with a commendation to all those who have done what they can to provide a Christian education for their children, often under difficult situations.  Having home schooled as well as been the founding chairman of two Classical Christian schools, and currently serving on the board of a classical Christian college, I know firsthand that the dedication and sacrifice of many people is required to accomplish this “most important business done on earth.”

Commitment to inculcating a biblical worldview is a long-term construction project.  We take our children to church, instruct them at home, and (in many cases) enroll them in co-ops or schools where they will be immersed in, not only Christian instruction, but also in Christian culture.  We are concerned about what they will be taught, who will teach them, and also with the environment they will live in.  I am aware of some Christian families who have successfully negotiated less than ideal educational situations, but they are the exceptions to the rule.

Continuing the Challenge
Running 15 miles in a 26 mile, 385 yard race is impressive, but it will not win the marathon. Graduating high school is no small accomplishment. Raising Christian children and preparing them to be life-long followers of Christ is a daily struggle. It saddens me to see how many come to the end of this particular phase of education (i.e., high school) and then seem to stop thinking about what is necessary to continue the race.  I know that life is complicated, every child is different, and that some young people are better prepared than others.  A variety of opportunities present themselves.  I want to challenge parents and students to think through all these options carefully and to maintain the biblical principles that God requires. I want to see them finish the race.

The goal is to raise children to the glory of God, which means that their faithfulness to Him and their maturity in Christ is the single most important thing. “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”  We do not have to look far to see many shipwrecks of Christian young people who headed off to the college or university for a lot of wrong reasons.  At the top of our list of considerations were things like:  proximity, jobs, scholarships, football teams, prestige, friends, etc.  Much further down our list of considerations (if they were considered at all), were things like:  who is going to teach my children, what are they going to be taught, what kind of culture will they be immersed in, and is this place likely to produce mature and faithful Christian adults who are prepared to engage our culture, who will establish great Christian families, and who will be dedicated members of the Body of Christ?  Now I am not opposed to the items on the first list, but I am suggesting that these two lists should be reversed in the order of their priorities.

Every education is selling something―it might be from God or from the devil―but they are all selling something.  Do you know what they are selling in the classroom and in their cultures?  Is that really where you want your young adults to do their shopping?  You sacrificed early for your principles. Don’t stop now!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Jonah Goldberg

  • Our fear of hypocrisy is forcing us to live in a world where gluttons are fine, so long as they champion gluttony. But if the choice is a cool president and 8 or 10 percent unemployment in a declining economy and a country that seems to be going in the wrong direction and structural unemployment for young people at 50 percent, I'd rather have a dorky president who fixed those problems.
  • If power made one evil, then God would be the Devil.
  • A rising economic tide is bad for people who live off of the poverty of others.
  • People ask, “Why is there poverty in the world?” It’s a silly question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset of this mortal coil.
  • Just to clarify: If you go into every situation saying there’s absolutely nothing worth fighting over, you will inevitably end up on a cot sleeping next to a guy named Tiny, bringing him breakfast in his cell every morning, and spending your afternoons ironing his boxers. Or, in the case of the French, you might spend your afternoon rounding up Jews to send to Germany, but you get the point.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Christin's Quote Book

  • Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you. –Wendell Berry
  • When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. —Corrie Ten Boom
  • Build a man a fire, he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. —Terry Pratchett
  • We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. –C. S. Lewis
  • The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else. –Frédéric Bastiat

Thursday, April 9, 2015

  • Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God; such alone will shake the gates of hell. ― John Wesley
  • The backslider likes the preaching that wouldn't hit the side of a house, while the real disciple is delighted when the truth brings him to his knees. ― Billy Sunday
  • I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men. ― Richard Baxter
  • It is the business of a virtuous clergy to censure vice in every appearance of it. ― Patrick Henry
  • To preach Christ is to feed the soul, to justify it, to set it free, and to save it, if it believes the preaching. ― Martin Luther
  • A man who first tried to guess "what the public wants," and then preached that as Christianity because the public wants it, would be a pretty mixture of fool and knave. ― C.S. Lewis
  • The pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow. ― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  • People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him. What they don't know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines. ― Søren Kierkegaard
  • They tell me that I rub the fur the wrong way. I don't; let the cat turn around. ― Billy Sunday
  • The sermon has been reduced to parenthetical church remarks about newspaper events. ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Much of modern preaching is anaemic, with the life-blood of God's nature absent from the message. Evangelists centre their message upon the man. Man has sinned and missed a great blessing. If man wants to retrieve his immense loss he must act thus and so. But the Gospel of Christ is very different. It begins with God and His glory. It tells men that they have offended a holy God, who will by no means pass by sin. It reminds sinners that the only hope of salvation is to be found in the grace and power of this same God. Christ's Gospel sends men to beg pardon of the Holy One. ― Walter Chantry
  • Bold preaching is the only preaching that is owned of God. ― Horatius Bonar

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

NEW BOOK: A Justice Primer

NEW BOOK: A Justice Primer

Pre-order from Covenant Media Foundation 
between now and May 5 and receive 20% off the retail price.

From the Back Cover:

Randy Booth and Douglas Wilson bring their considerable pastoral experience to the question of scriptural standards for justice, and their observations are sobering.  Very few people in society today have a firm grasp of what justice is or how it functions. In this much-needed exposition, the authors unpack God's requirements for witnesses, victims, due process, and the accused and accuser, and take to task some of our favorite injustices in churches and abroad: anonymous assertions, rattling off charges, double standards, and the ubiquitous Trial by Internet.

Praise for A Justice Primer:

"In today’s world 'justice' is a call for the State to do something to fix economic and relational inequities without any regard to a universal principle of justice. Given the operating assumptions of today’s materialists, justice is a wax nose to be shaped by the day’s prevailing ideology. A Justice Primer establishes for us the firm foundation for justice in Scripture and demonstrates its applicational wisdom. A sorely needed book for our time."    
Gary DeMarPresident of American Vision

Liberals love to prattle about justice ("social justice"), while conservatives often marginalize justice and prioritize love. Both are wrong. Liberal justice is usually injustice, parading as sentimental moralism, and contrary to much conservative belief, justice is an exhibition of love. In this book, two seasoned, Bible-believing pastors delineate the Bible's frequent and wide-ranging teaching on justice and show how it is to be achieved in both church and culture, from blogs to juries. It is a welcome antidote to the pervasively sentimentalist — and unjust — moralisms of our time. 
P. Andrew Sandlin, President of Center for Cultural Leadership

"Is there any topic in modern society the world (and Christians) get more wrong than a truly just view of justice?  If a truly clear and defensible and coherent view of this crucial subject is the need of the hour (and it is), Pastors Booth and Wilson have met the call (and then some)."

David L. Bahnsen