Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tools of the Trade

"The wisest of women builds her house,
but folly with her own hands tears it down" (Proverbs 14:1).

I don't think Solomon is talking about hammers and nails, or chainsaws and bulldozers, here. We wives and mothers wake up every morning to a new day in which we will, by our actions and words, sow either seeds of blessing and edification (building up), or destruction. The bad seeds, the negative ones, are often the most satisfying to us at the time, but later they will yield bitter fruit. The building blocks of faith and hope in God, kindness and truth-saturated love will make a strong house that will stand the test of time and storms.

"She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26).

"For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham,calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening" (1 Peter 3:5,6).

Photo by jeremypullen

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Phillipians Two 1 thru eleven

Oh, the utter astoundingness of it; that pitiful created beings would continue doing things in our homes, churches and lives "from rivalry and conceit" when we serve a Savior who, "though He was in the form of God, did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men."

The spectacle of my own strutting pride in view of the humility of our Savior makes me want to go crawl under a rock. But He won't allow it--I'm instead to turn my gaze steadfastly to His example, and then go and act like Him.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

I watched the DVD "Decisions, Decisions" tonight and enjoyed it. Todd Friel of Wretched Radio (formerly Way of the Master Radio) is his usual fast-paced and amusing self in the first part of the DVD, showing us why Christians in the West have become so lousy at making decisions (we've become mystical and don't understand the Bible's teaching on wisdom and the providence of God). Friel promises that by the end of the hour with him we will know how to discern God's will on who to marry, what career to pursue, and what house to buy. He says this in a tongue-in-cheek way but he actually really means it, because the way we discern God's will in those things is by reading the Bible! Friel explains that in the Bible, God has revealed his moral will to us, and we are free to make decisions based on the knowledge of that will and our own good sense. We don't have to worry about "missing God's will" because God has promised to get us all where he wants us to go. This is really good news for the Christian.

In the second part of the DVD, Todd turns to the final thing he promised we can know by the end of the video-- whether we are going to Heaven or to hell when we die. I have to admit, I wondered how he was going to turn so quickly to such a serious matter after his entertaining presentation on decision-making. Moments later, I was surprised and impressed with the turn in tone and substance of his presentation. This part of the DVD took place at a youth conference, apparently. Friel helped his audience discern whether their faith is genuine, or if they may have experienced a false conversion to Christ at some point in their lives, through the skillful handling of sections of 1 John. In the process, he shredded some of the bogus misconceptions that sometimes get imbedded in the heads of churched young people. He made a very clear and effective presentation of the gospel and call to Christ.

I initially bought this DVD in hopes it would be a good resource for a ladies' group study on decision making, but I'm not disappointed that it turned out to be a presentation more appealing to teens and young adults. I think the first part of the DVD is quite useful for helping young adults understand that there really is a Biblical way to think and make choices. It is valuable and immensely practical instruction, and the Church desperately needs it. I do think that a follow-up, in-depth discussion of these principles will be beneficial, so parents or leaders will want to study the Biblical doctrine of guidance and God's will. The last part of the DVD stands on its own as far as being a complete, thorough and sound presentation of our own sinfulness and hopeless condition, and the greatness of God's mercy in sending his Son to save us. It goes a little long, perhaps, when Friel gets into the demands of the Law (the Ten Commandments) and our inability to please a holy God, but as a Way of the Master guy, he is doing what they do.

All in all, I think this is a resource well worth owning and viewing in homes and youth groups. I believe the teaching here on decision-making is the correct and Biblical one, and is sorely needed in our day; for, as Todd says, "once you understand God's providential will, you will never be in the dark again." And the presentation of the gospel at the end is strong, as Friel proclaims the revealed will of God: that all people everywhere are commanded to repent and place their trust in Jesus Christ. Good stuff.

Buy it here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Remember, and Don't Forget

I'm struck once again, as I read through Deuteronomy, at the urgency Moses conveys to the people of Israel to remember, and not forget, all the mighty deeds of the Lord in bringing them out of Egypt; and that they not fail to tell their children, and teach their children to tell their children, of His greatness and power. "Tell your children the stories! Don't forget! Remember!!"

We do a lot of labor-intensive, complicated things in the name of children's ministry in church. We think we know what the goal is, but too often I think we're missing it. The goal today is the same goal as it was for Israel as they prepared to cross over Jordan into the promised land: to tell their children of the mighty deeds of God. To teach them to remember, and not forget. "Bind these words on your hearts, fathers; instruct your children as you walk along the way."

If the church budgets were reduced to zero, we are still more than equipped by our Bibles to carry out every command of God, including the command to instruct our children in His ways. A budget reduced to zero might be a great blessing, if it forced us to look at how God has said it can be accomplished. Not with splashy programs; definitely not apart from the faithfulness of moms and dads obeying the command to teach their own children to remember, and not forget, the mighty deeds of God.