For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Misguided Compass

"I hate the Narnia books, and I hate them with a deep and bitter passion.” That is quite an ironic quote coming from the man behind a movie that is being promoted as a Narnia-esque adventure. Even more ironic considering the strong similarities in the story lines of Lewis’ classic and this new drivel.

Yet those are the true feelings of agnostic author Philip Pullman, the man behind the book The Golden Compass, which is of course behind the movie of the same title. But make no mistake: this movie is not just another innocent adventure in an alternate reality. It’s not, as the movie company bills it, another Lord of the Rings either. Both Lewis and Tolkien would be highly offended at even being mentioned in the same breath as this anti-Christian rant.

Recently, Focus on the Family’s Plugged In Online carried an article which discussed at length the books (there are three of them), the movie and the author. The conclusion they draw is dead on target: keep your kids away from this movie.

Although Pullman clearly steals many images from Lewis (right down to a little girl hiding in a wardrobe), those stolen images are where any similarities end. Pullman, who declares himself an agnostic, is clearly anti-Christian, anti-Church, and anti-God. He even confessed that the main story line in his books is the “killing of God.” Pullman has said, “But if there is a God, and he is as the Christians describe him, then he deserves to be put down and rebelled against.”

It would be bad enough for Pullman to have these views, but they are shared by the heroes of his tales. And he’s trying to bring these views into your home through a “fantasy story.” The good guys in this story repeatedly make disparaging comments about Christianity, while the bad guys are clearly meant to be representatives of the church.

And just in case you’re still wondering if it’s really all that bad, consider this quote reported in the Plugged In article. “(English poet William) Blake said that Milton was a true poet and of the Devil's party without knowing it,” Pullman has said. “I am of the Devil's party and know it.” On his own website, Pullman discusses the idea that his characters have "daemons" and says, "the daemon is that part of you that helps you grow towards wisdom. "

Parents Beware. This is no joke. This is no innocent adventure film. As parents we are charged with the protection of our children’s hearts and minds, which means their eyes and ears as well. We are to set them on the straight and narrow path, directed by God’s Word in all things. Yet, Pullman’s misguided compass will not point anywhere near True North and is committed to leading your children straight to Hell.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

We all have so much to be thankful for. Hope everyone enjoys a blessed day. For a full list of what our family is thankful for, check out our family blog.

Praise God for His grace and providence!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Debate That Won't Die

Baptists and Beer. It won’t go away. Rodney Albert recently posted an article on his blog showing how far removed Missouri Baptists appear to be from our brethren in other states. While they require state Baptist leaders to abstain from alcohol, the recent MBC meeting saw a resolution against alcohol barely even pass.

The truly amazing thing is this. Rod’s previous two posts dealt with the upcoming presidential election: one focusing on Thompson’s lack of pro-life backbone, the other on the selling-out by many “evangelical leaders,” backing candidates with a serious lack of moral fiber and Christian character in favor of “electability.” (I pause to reiterate my support for Mike Huckabee).

Both of those posts rated a total of 7 combined comments. The alcohol post had reached 28 at the time I recorded these words (and I’m sure has well surpassed that by the time anyone reads this). The point: It seems we are more concerned about defending our right to drink than we are about the moral fiber of our next national leader. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

I had previously addressed the issue of alcohol with simple line: drinking makes you stupid. And while I was attempting to be cute, the truth is that wise Christians should see abstinence as the better option.

Those who argue for a Christian’s right to consume alcohol point to the fact that the Bible never specifically prohibits drinking. In fact, “oinos” (wine) is often referred to, consumed, etc. Apart from the fact that the Jewish consumption of wine is a far cry from our feel-good society’s worship of beer and whiskey, the truth remains: Scripture never says “drinking is sin.”

However, the wise Christian must look beyond strict prohibitions to consider the principles which Scripture does clearly teach. We do this in regards to issues like gambling, abortion, etc. No strict prohibitions exist, but the principles are clearly there. Why can we not apply this same approach to alcohol in our culture?

The debate seems to be over the issue of Christian Liberty. Some say, “I personally abstain, but I can’t tell others to.” Maybe not by specific command, but can we not say that wisdom encourages abstinence; that holiness certainly would encourage abstinence; that a basic care and concern for those around us encourages abstinence? Certainly we can say, biblically, that care for our brothers often outweighs our own liberty.

John MacArthur writes in his commentary on 1 Corinthians:
But Christian liberty is not unbridled license. It is never freedom to sin, and often it should exclude things that in themselves are not sin but that may become sinful or lead others to sin. Peter says, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bond–slaves of God” (1 Pet. 2:16). . . Before we exercise our Christian liberty in a given area not forbidden by Scripture, we should consider how it will affect others, especially our fellow believers.
God never said: Don’t Drink Alcohol. But certainly the principles taught in His Word would lead thoughtful and caring Christians to consider the devastation to individuals and families that alcohol brings, to consider the struggle that many have with alcohol, to consider the harm alcohol consumption can bring to our testimony, and would lead us to a clear conviction that drinking is wrong.

I know the debate will rage on. I know I’m not the most articulate spokesman for the abstinence camp. I simply pray that we can move beyond the arrogance of our own “freedoms” and think of the impact on those around us. And with that, I will leave the debate to the rest of you scholars out there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Ongoing Missouri Gambling Fight

When is gambling not gambling? When are slot machines not slot machines? Apparently, the answer is: when they come to Missouri.

We shouldn’t be surprised to hear deception and double-speak come from the mouths of gambling proponents. After all, these are the same people who have given us “boats” which have permanent foundations and couldn’t float if they had to. These are the same folks who tried to remove the $500 loss limit in Missouri by hiding it in the Smart Start Scholarship legislation. And these are the same people who promised money for education in our state, and through sleight of hand in the capital all those dollars that would have gone to education are replaced by gambling money and then spent elsewhere. In fact, in the end, every dollar that comes into the state coffers from gambling ends up costing the state about three dollars in expenses for law enforcement, bankruptcy, criminal court costs and help to families of those addicted.

So, it should come as no surprise that these masters of smoke and mirrors have now offered us slot machines that aren’t slot machines. They’re “bingo slots.” What’s the difference? In appearance and function, nothing but the name on paper. But in impact, the difference is huge.

If Missouri Gaming Commission director Gene McNary gets his way, these “bingo slots” would be allowed in any place that currently allows regular bingo. A story in the KC Star a couple months back stated that “McNary acknowledged he's been actively discussing the issue of charitable slots with officials at several affected state agencies, including the Missouri Veterans Commission.” That article shows that the Gaming Commission is also pushing for gambling expansion in several other ways, but is holding back right now because Gov. Matt Blunt opposes such expansion. Thank you Gov. Blunt!

I recently attended a lunch with the folks from Missouri Clergy Against Gambling Expansion (MOCAGE) and Casino Watch. This was one of the issues discussed, but it certainly isn’t the only issue. Folks, the fight against gambling expansion in Missouri is not over, it’s not confined to areas along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, and now it’s not even confined to casinos. It could be coming to your back yard.

We need to remain vigilant and be sure that we fight to protect our families from the destruction that comes as a result of gambling and gambling addiction. Keep up with Casino Watch, the Missouri Baptist Christian Life Commission and others who will be watching this issue. And be prepared and be willing to contact Missouri legislators when the time comes to make your voice heard.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Proud Pappa

Most fathers are proud of their children; at least I hope so. God has blessed me with four of the greatest children I could imagine. They are all four so different, so unique, and yet so much like me and Cheryl that we could never deny the relationship.

Forgive the mushiness; I just wanted to take time to brag about my kids. They all decided that it wasn't fair for dad to have all the net fun blogging, so we started a "family blog." So far, each of the girls has offered some of their poetry. Nathanael has added a few pictures he took. And as we go, even Mom and the little guy may have something to add.

So this is a shameless plug. Click here to go to our family site and enjoy the gifts God has given to our children.

And just as a side note (to make this seem like it's a theological article and not just parental pride), wouldn't it be nice if our Father could share this kind of pride in His children. That even though we are each unique, we are enough like Him that the relationship can't be denied. And that we are using our gifts in such a way to bring Him glory that He could say to the world: check them out; I'm pretty proud of them.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thoughts on Family Worship and the MBC

Well, things at this week’s Missouri Baptist Convention didn’t go exactly as I’d hoped. It seems that the politicking of a few of our larger churches stirred things up sufficiently enough. However, I have faith that if things go far enough, the “little guys” will rise up once more as they have in the past and right the ship.

The brightest spot of the week was the annual sermon by Rodney Albert. If you want to hear an inspiring message on obedience and holiness, go to the MBC website and order a copy. It will be worth your time and money. (I'm told those will be available soon).

The other bright spot for me, personally, was the reporting out and adoption of a resolution I brought concerning Family Worship. It says:

WHEREAS, one recent study conducted by LifeWay Research this year revealed the majority of church-going teens, when asked, could not clearly define that faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation; and

WHEREAS, in a second study by LifeWay Research, 70 percent of 18- to 20-year-olds who regularly attended church during their teen years dropped out of church for at least a year and 35 percent of those said they would never return; and

WHEREAS, over the last several years multiple studies have likewise continued to show a decline in the faithfulness of young people to continue in the church after college; and

WHEREAS, further studies have shown a steady increase in alcohol use, drug use, premarital sex and other immoral behavior by young people, including those in our churches; and

WHEREAS, youth and children’s ministries are not enough for teaching and training young people in the ways of God; and

WHEREAS, according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:1-4 the clear biblical mandate is for parents to be responsible for the training and nurturing of their children, and for their instruction in God’s Word; and

WHEREAS, church history has many examples of the benefits of a faithful family altar, wherein families gather on a regular basis in the home to sing praise to God, read the Scriptures and pray; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that we, the messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention, meeting in annual session in Osage Beach, Missouri, October 31, 2007, encourage Missouri Baptist families to institute and maintain the practice of family worship in their homes; be it further

RESOLVED, that we teach the importance of family worship and provide training to those parents who are unfamiliar with the practice; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that we covenant together to encourage one another in this practice, seeking to be faithful to the biblical command to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, equipping the next generation to be faithful men and women of God for His glory in all things.
The issue of Family Worship has become near and dear to my heart over the last several years. This is something I had neglected in my home far too long. I didn’t realize the importance, even the necessity of it.

Spurgeon had it right (as usual) when he said: I trust there is no Christian man or woman here who has a house without a family altar. . .I cannot make out how you live without it. I could not. I cannot understand how your piety gets on, nor what it feeds upon. I do think, wherever there is a Christian family, there should be daily praise in it.

Elsewhere he said: once let the family altar be forsaken, and let parents forget the natural duty of ordering their households before the Lord, and you may guard the church as you will, your labor will be vain.

And yet again: If I came into your house, and heard that you had no fireplace in the winter time, I should certainly advise you to build one; and if I heard that any of you had not a family altar, I should say, “Go home and lay the first brick to-night: it will be a good thing if you do so, I am sure.”

This message has become a passion of mine. I’m glad the messengers of the MBC adopted this resolution, but I am much more concerned that the message of it be taken back to our churches and put into practice. So let me just say to all the husbands and fathers out there: Go home and lay the first brick tonight. It will be a good thing if you do so I’m sure.