Monday, June 27, 2016

Too Late

"Get out of the car."  The teenage boy continued to play with his iPhone and simply ignored the request of his father.  "Son, you need to get out of the car and come right now!" demanded the father.  Still no response.  "Robert, that's enough playing around, put the iPhone away and come with us into the school." pleaded the dad.  Slowly the young man got out of the car and walked with his father and grandfather to the school building, although his attention was clearly still focused on the game he was playing on his device.

Inside the school the boy plopped himself down on the stairs while the dad spoke to the school receptionist.   When greeted warmly by the school secretary, the boy did not even look up from his game.  Trying to engage the young man, she asked "What is your name?"  No response.   She then turned the inquirers over to the principal.

The dad explained that he was having trouble with the boy and wanted to put him into the Christian school.  "He needs help."  The principal listened to the father share the situation and greeted the young man seated on the third step.  The boy did not even look up.  He wouldn't answer or acknowledge the principal either.  Finally, the school official had to inform the parent, "It is too late.  If he refuses to listen or obey you, we are not able to work with that attitude or to help him here."  Sadly, the father looked at the grandfather and realized the truth of that statement.  It was too late.   

Let's look at the big picture.  God obviously calls parents to "bring up children in the training and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  Parents really only have two choices concerning the education of their children: either do it themselves or have someone teach them who will instill the same truth and values that the Christian parents know.  Yet public education is free.   Often we are willing to compromise our convictions when money is involved. 

But we all know that "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).  And in this case the money saved opens the door to the child being brought up in the ways of the world. Two studies conducted by both the Barna Group and USA Today found that nearly 75 percent of Christian young people fall away from the faith and leave the church after high school.  Consider the facts. Statistics show that children today spend an average of 30 hours per week in school where they are often taught ideas that are diametrically opposed to biblical truths, e.g., evolution, the acceptance of homosexuality, living for self, etc. Then they come home to another 30 hours per week spent in front of a television set bombarded by commercials and sitcoms, playing video games, or connecting on social media. This is in contrast to the time spent weekly in the church classroom or in family Biblical instruction: 45 minutes.

It is time to wake up.  Obviously God knew the challenge before He declared this truth, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6)  Parents, who do everything in their power to build God's love and truth in their young children, need to make sure that when they reach school age, Christian truth and environment continues to be the heart of their learning.  Churches need to encourage and to be willing to count the cost and make sure that Christian education is available for every child.  The time to put children in Christian school is when their heart attitudes and thought patterns are being formed.  Unfortunately, many parents are only awakened to the need when the young boy or girl exhibits negative attitudes and behavior from years of being exposed to and trained by worldly ways.  That is too late.

Another older parent, who now supports Christian education, weeps as he tells me how his son has left the faith and is showing very destructive behavior to himself and the family.  He now greatly regrets not having put him in Christian school when he was young.  Obviously, God never gives up on anyone.  However, it is not always necessary to go through all the grief and misery, and there is never any guarantee that the child will repent and come back to the Lord.

Consider the lesson of Esau.  "lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:16-17)  Sometimes it is too late.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Be of Good Cheer

Something bad happens.

You feel it is unfair and not right.  You want to complain.  You want to feel sorry for yourself.  You want to blame someone for the way you were mistreated.  You are upset and frustrated.  You feel, just like Jonah after a worm killed his shade tree outside of Nineveh, that you have a right to be angry.  You want to find someone to pour out all your pent-up emotions and frustrations upon, so you can have some sympathy.  You may even feel depressed and just want to quit. 

Do you know what is wrong about all these responses?  They don't work.  They only increase the negative results. 

The question is what do you do?  or maybe, what can you do?

Two strong suggestions:  1) Shut up.  Don't shoot your mouth off and make comments that later show your immaturity and for which you may be sorry.  2) Open your eyes to see beyond the immediate circumstances.

First, be quiet.  Proverbs 18:21 instructs us that death and life are in the tongue, so watch what you say.  Secondly note the wise response: Proverbs 29:11 declares, "A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." and Proverbs 10:19 states that "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise."

Secondly, see the big picture.  You have been created in the image of God, you have been given life and love and a unique personality that God designed to enjoy His glory forever.  Jesus has paid the ultimate price for you showing your infinite worth and His everlasting love for you.  He is faithful and will be with you in the greatest or least trial.  You will make it.  Jesus said it this way (in John 16:33) "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."  Later, in first John, He tells us that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world.

How do you get there when you feel overwhelmed in a negative situation?  Ask God for help.  He tells us in Ephesians 4:26  “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath" and in Romans 8:13 "but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." Since He has called us to make these choices He also is here to do it inside us. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).  Ask Him to do it as you surrender your fleshly "rights."

Last but not least, be filled with the Spirit.  The Word of God is spirit and life, so in other words, it feeds and gives life to the spirit.  As you read the Word and choose to obey it, the Spirit of God causes that seed to grow inside us.  Since it is God's will that we rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), we release the Spirit's power to dominate our flesh when we begin to give thanks, choose to rejoice, and deliberately trust God to work the situation for good.  His strength will enable us to make it through the current situation.

Are you in trouble?  Jesus answers it best, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."