Thursday, April 6, 2017
What is truth? That was the now infamous words of Pontius Pilate during the trial of Christ, and he seemed to be indicating that truth is somehow open to interpretation. That maybe it is for scholars and theologians to debate until the end of time with no definitive conclusion, and he seems to be right. 2000 years later we are still having the same debate, lending credence to the words of Solomon nearly 1000 years before Pilate. " There is nothing new under the sun."
I was recently engaged in a discussion on this very subject, unfortunately I was unable to finish. However I've been meaning to write a blog about it for a while now, so here goes.
The question that was asked of me was this. Why do I consider a specific group of people immoral?
Now we Christians get this a lot, and we cringe every time we do, because it's a "loaded" question. Most people who ask it aren't really looking for understanding, but rather looking to pick a fight. They are trying to catch us looking down our noses in self-righteous judgement. First of all let me state that mature Christians don't do this, it is counter to our understanding of God. The real question that needs to be answered here is. Where do we get our standard of truth and morality from?
For most of society the answer to that question is, "I just know," indicating that it is some kind internal moral compass that gives them their standard of truth. That based on their experience and the way they feel about a subject, they arrive at a moral conclusion. Furthermore the relative "Rightness" of their conclusion, is based on the intensity of their feelings.
The problem with this line of reasoning is that feelings change all the time. It might be raining today so I feel one way, but tomorrow I may feel differently, or someone close to me may influence my feelings one way or another, thus my standard of morality will shift. If our moral compass is always pointed to ourselves, then it can never point to true north, that is to say it is useless for finding truth.
The bottom line is this; if we are using our own internal standard of truth and morality, then that standard is nothing more than our opinion, and our opinion is no better than that of anyone else's, even than that of say Hitler. Now we all know that Hitler was wrong for killing 6 million Jews, but by his own standard he was doing what he felt was right for himself and his people. So was Hitler a moral person?
Well if I want to overlook my own personal moral shortcomings, then I have to overlook his too, right?
I have actually heard people say that Hitler was moral, just to avoid the implications of that last statement!
The usual rebuttal however, is that society judged Hitler and passed sentence, but I should remind you that Stalin killed even more people, and died of natural causes at a relatively old age. But let's explore the idea of society being the standard.
The Canaanites decided that it was moral to sacrifice their children to the god Molech, in a most horrific way. We all know that torturing babies for fun is wrong don't we?
The Romans executed Christians and Christians are still being executed by Isis today. No one says that's moral do they?
Just a few decades ago Jim Crow laws were all the rage in this country, but the laws have changed. Does that mean that we have evolved? What is to say that 100 years from now the mood, (feelings) of society won't change again, and the morality we are legislating today won't be considered immoral.
By the way don't tell me we can't legislate morality, all laws prohibit one behavior in favor of another.
So it seems society doesn't have a fixed set of morals either.
So the question still stands, what is truth?
First truth must comport with reality.
That is to say that it must explain all that is, just as it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly. It must explain the love of a mother and the most vile evil, and it must differentiate between the two.
Second it must be a standard that is outside ourselves and society.
That is to say that it it is not relativistic, true for you but not for me, (try that with a police officer sometime) and it can't be based on feelings, because feelings change, it must be fixed.
Lastly it must be perfect.
That is to say that if it were to be adhered to perfectly, we would need no other law.
Now what I just described is God, He is perfect,He doesn't change, and He is outside of His creation. He IS the standard, and He revealed Himself in the Bible. So if you want THE standard of morality pick up your copy today. Available wherever fine books are sold.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Gender equality. It's a term we hear often now days. Society and the feminist movement would have us believe that in order for men and women to be equal that we have to be treated the same. We are entitled to have the same jobs, the same pay, the same opportunities. Every part of our lives should be alike. We're taught that anything a man can do a woman can do better. We're taught that male and female are just labels but that we're really all the same. What you must realize is that equal does not always mean "the same". God, the creator of the universe, designed us to be different.
God created us in His own image, both male and female (Genesis 1:27). God created us to be equal (1 Peter 3:7). God said it is not good for man to be alone, man needs a helper ( Genesis 2:18). Being a helper doesn't make women any less than men, it just means that together we're better. So He created woman out of the rib of man (Genesis 2:21). God gave men and women different strengths and weaknesses. God designed men to be strong leaders, and to protect and provide for their families. God designed women to be help mates for their husbands, caretakers of the home, and bare and raise children. I know this is a very unpopular way to look at our roles in this day and age but it has been God's plan from the very beginning. When we get married we are join together, man and woman, as one (Genesis 2:24). We are told to leave our parents and come together as one whole person. Working in unity, together, for our family, with the same purpose in mind, for the same goals and end results.
Society's view of equal is not the same as God's. God says He made us equal from the beginning. Society says you must be able to have it all and do it all on your own. It tells us we don't need anyone else to be successful. But God says "I will give you everything you need" (Philippians 4:19). God is our provider and wants what is best for us. He wants to make us complete. You see, God designed us to need each other. He designed us to be a part of a community. He gave men and women different traits and attributes to compliment one another. Together, a man and a woman come together to make a whole. We ARE God's perfect design.
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
A little more than thirty years ago we stood together for the first time as husband and wife. Since then I have enjoyed a warm and stable home. Anyone who knows me understands that I had nothing to do with that. My ideas of domestic infrastructure include reels and pallets for furniture, and paper plates are just good as fine china where I am concerned, and while I may have other redeeming qualities, (there is debate in some quarters) housekeeping is not my strong suit. Still I have enjoyed clean sheets and "magic laundry", (that is dirty clothes thrown on the floor only to appear clean and put away the next time I have need of them) all of my adult life thanks to you.
In a society where the traditional homemaker paradigm is thought of as less than a real contribution, you set that as your higher calling. You have always wanted to be a mother and a wife, even your collage education was in child development, making our children lucky enough to actually have a professional mother.
Knowing your desire to be a stay at home mom I did all that I could to see to it that you never had to work, and that if you did it was by your own choice.
I had no idea how blessed I would be in that decision.
While I did go to work every day, sometimes my earnings didn't afford much of a lifestyle. When combined with an addiction in our early years, homelessness was often a possibility, yet when I came home there was always food on the table, clean presentable clothes to wear, and our home was always warm and inviting. Monet never had a painting on our walls, but everything in our house spoke of love and family, and while Goodwill was your store of record, it might as well have been Sacks for the way we were dressed.
No one else would ever know the sacrifices you have made over the years, but I do. Even your children have no idea the number of times you put yourself last so we could have your best.
As I chased my career across the country, taking you far from family and friends, you never complained. As I worked too many hours, you always gave me a safe haven in which to recharge. I don't think you know that my ability to keep my promise made to you all those years ago was only made possible by your commitment as a a homemaker.
The days I wanted to quit I knew you were giving your all, how could I let you down, and on the days I was so tired I couldn't continue, your faith in me renewed my strength, even if just for one more day.
I have enjoyed a long career, even owned my own business for a while, but living my dreams was only made possible because of my silent partner, behind the scenes always holding me together and pushing me forward. Giving me a home filled with love and laughter, and raising three beautiful daughters in whom I am proud of and love dearly.
The look in your eyes on of wedding day still says it all, you put your trust in me, but it is I who has come to rely on you.
Just a housewife? I don't think so you are the heart of this corporation, and I couldn't have done it without you.
Monday, July 18, 2016
As we have said before, we are youth leaders in our church. One of the things we tell our youth is you can either be a child or an adult. We raise the bar and expect them to be adults! We challenge them to break through the barriers of society and step up to responsibility and be adults, to prove society wrong.
Recently one of our youth brought something to us and wanted to read it to the group. He wanted it to be our youth group's creed, he wanted to challenge his peers to Rise Up!
We asked him if we could share it here. We wanted to use it as a challenge to parents to challenge their youth, and to ask youth to embrace the challenge to rise up and be adults! Our thanks go out to Graham for his desire to rise up and be an adult and to lead by example in our youth group.
It is time to Rise Up. No longer will we be satisfied in our "adolescence". You are young men and young women of God. It's time for us to sharpen our swords and train for war. It's time for us to rise up and start revival at school, be an example to your siblings, lead a friend to Jesus, love the unlovable, it's time for us to put on our big boy/girl pants and forgive those who've wronged us, it's time for us to rise up and not get caught in the petty drama of high school, the he said-she said's. It's time for us to hold the door for a random stranger even though you haven't eaten in 5 hours, to pray for those who are struggling just to get through the day, to smile when when nothing today has gone right and ask your friend how their day has gone and listen. It's time for us to be young adults. To throw off the label "teenager", you are a young man or young woman of God, He wants so much more of your life than just one day of the week. He wants, no, requires, our whole life, in everything we do we should give credit to God. Manhood and womanhood starts NOW! Not when I'm a senior, not when I get a car, not when I go to college, get married, have kids.....NO! It starts now! It's time to rise above adolescence and be the men and women God has called us to be! So rise up and be the warriors of Christ I know you are capable of being. Rise up!
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
My husband and I met when we were just 16 years old. We dated for almost 5 years before getting married at the age of 20. We only lived in the same town for maybe a year at best. The rest of the time we lived about 5 hours apart.
Mind you, this was long before the age of the internet, video chats, or cell phones. Long distance phone calls were a luxury- meaning they were expensive, and you needed to get your parents permission. So most of our communication, during the 4+ years of dating was done by mail- thank you good old U.S. Postal Service! Yes, snail mail. We spent days composing our letters, mailed them off then started our next one. We'd wait to get a letter in the mail and when it finally came we'd read and re-read it over and over again until we almost had it memorized. I know this sounds silly now days but that's the way it was back in our day.
Years later we realized that it was one of the things that we cherished most. When you write a letter, you have to think of things to say. It was difficult but so worth it. We learned so much about each other. We learned patience waiting for a reply to our last letter. We learned how to write so it made since to someone else. We learned how to think. We learned how to communicate our thoughts and feelings. We learned about each others daily lives, families and pet peeves. We learned about friendship. By the time we got married, we were best friends. Being married is great but knowing your spouse is your best friend is the icing on the cake.
When it comes to relationships, boyfriends and girlfriends, it can get confusing. Society tells us it's all about the physical, you have to be compatible. Date lots of people before you settle down. I believe just the opposite. I believe you should start by being friends. So many times young people are so excited about having a boyfriend or girlfriend they forget to just be friends. To enjoy the other person and get to know them. Don't be in such a hurry. Don't fall for the lie that we always have to have to have a significant other in our life. Take time to get to know who you are. To get to know the other person. Take time to learn what you want in a spouse.
I believe the main reason for dating is to find a mate, someone to marry. So if you're not ready to marry, why date? I know this sounds old fashion, and maybe even crazy, but hear me out. I didn't always believe this. But as I've gotten older, it makes since to me. You see, I believe it's important to learn how to interact and communicate with the opposite sex first. Hanging out in mixed groups, with other couples or each others families is a great way to do this. Being in group settings lets you observe others. You learn proper behavior and etiquette by watching trusted and respected friends and adults. You learn how to talk to others, how to treat others and how to listen. You learn what is important to yourself and others. Groups also help hold you accountable for your words and actions. You learn how to respect yourself and other people. Young men be a gentleman, respectable- not crude. And young women be modest and act like a lady. Another way is to look for couples you admire who have successful marriages. Talk to them, watch them, ask them to mentor you. These are things that can help you decide what traits are desirable- or not desirable in a spouse. Everyone should have, at least, a mental list of things they want in a spouse. Know the things that are going to be non-negotiables in your spouse and marriage.
Several years after we were married, one of our pastors commented in a sermon that holding hands would lead to pregnancy. We almost burst out laughing. Being young and naive, we thought he might need someone to explain the birds and the bees to him. We didn't understand the connection. Years later we did. You see, once you start getting physical, things escalate quickly. You start holding hands, eventually that's not enough so you move on to kissing, then that's not enough and you have to continue more and more to get that same excitement, that same thrill. Then next thing you know, someone's pregnant. You didn't mean for it to happen but in the heat of the moment we loose control. We're humans and we make mistakes.
If we take the time when we're young to learn how to relate to each other, before we get to the physical part, then when we are ready to make the commitment of marriage we will be much better equipped. I firmly believe that if we slow down and take control of ourselves, our lives will be better in the long run. We will be more confident,be more able to express ourselves and we won't have to worry about excess baggage that is often time brought along from previous relationships. By taking control of ourselves we honor ourselves and our future spouses.
Marriage is a life long commitment to each other and God. In order to ensure that we make it "till death do we part" we need to remember failure is not an option. We need to be working on our marriage long before we are married. We need to remember that our decisions today will effect our marriage later on. We do this by being focused, when dating, on the end result which is marriage. Remember, marriage won't always be romantic, mushy or sexy. Sometimes it will be hard, frustrating, and messy. Other times you'll just be hanging out with the other person. Wouldn't it be nice if you liked each other and were friends?
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
As parents we always want our children to have it better than we did. Even if we had a great childhood ourselves we still want better. But what is better? Is it giving them more stuff, anything they want? Is it never saying "no", maybe fighting their battles for them? Praising them for every little thing they do? Does any of this really make their lives better? Does it help them become better adults in the long run?
Sometimes I think as parents, we want our children to succeed so badly that we choose to lower the bar, and even help them over it, in order that they don't fail.This isn't helping them. By lowering the bar, we've already set them up for failure. We've told them "I don't think you can do any better than this". We've put a limit on their hopes and dreams. We've stifled their futures. We've lowered our expectations to ensure success but instead we cause failure.We hurt their self-esteem. We are basically telling our children "I don't believe in you", "this is as high as you can ever expect to go in life". Our children need to know that we believe in them, that we'll back them and be there for them even through mistakes and failures. That we will cheer for them even when things are hard.
We need to set the bar so high that it will take a lifetime to reach it! Remember when you were a kid and your parents would say to you "you can be the president of the United States of America if you want to"? Most of us knew that we never would be and probably didn't want to be. But it sure was nice to know that someone thought we could.That we were capable of great things! Our children need to know this too. They need to know that sometimes the road to success is long and hard but that we, as parents, have faith that they can achieve their dreams -- no matter how lofty they may seem.
When we do raise the bar for our children they achieve far beyond our expectations. Even if they don't make it all the way to the top, they'll be alright. They will still go higher than they ever thought possible. They will know that life takes hard work and perseverance, and that sometimes we make mistakes but that is okay. They learn that even if they fail they can get back up and try again. They learn the value of hard work and the joy of success. They learn to make a plan and take the necessary steps to achieve the goal. They learn that no matter what, their family will always be there to celebrate the goals reached or for encouragement during the rough patches.
As parents, part of our job is to help our children become productive, well-rounded, successful adults. Able to hold their own in this world we live in. We can not do this by lowering the bar, only by raising the bar can we truly help our children be successful in life.
I don't think any of us know the heights we can achieve until we are truly challenged. I challenge you, as parents, to push your children harder, have higher expectations and encourage them along the way. Stop holding them back because you're afraid for them. Mistakes are okay, they help us learn and grow.
Set the bar all the way to the heavens and watch your children soar! Be proud of both their accomplishments and yours, as parents of successful adults!
Thursday, March 31, 2016
We have noticed people today have forsaken wisdom for information. That Google has replaced textbooks and shortcuts have overshadowed study and knowledge.
If knowing something takes more than a few minutes then we don't have time, after all I don't need to know how to multiply if my phone has a calculator right? The problem is we don't think for ourselves any more.
INFORMATION IS NOT KNOWLEDGE.
Knowledge is the earnest study of a subject to truly understand the workings of something.
If I Google Taylor Swift and look at her bio, read a few blogs about her, learn all the lyrics to all of her songs, it doesn't mean I know her. Or if I google "how to install a windshield wiper" that doesn't make me a mechanic, I hope no one would go to a doctor that didn't have a degree.
Knowledge requires effort and time.
The same thing applies to becoming an adult.
In generations past, people didn't look to books about parenting by some nut that has never had children. If we wanted to know how to be a man we didn't look to GQ. If we wanted to know how to be a woman Cosmo was not our reference source.
No, we looked to our family and close community.
We watched the way our fathers provided for their family, how they conducted business, and how they interacted with other men. We watched our mothers take care of their family, nurture their children, and provide an environment that fostered family unity. So where did she get her instruction?
That's right GRANDMA!
This movement away from instruction by family to instruction by institution began about the turn of the century when our fathers moved from the farm to the factory in order to support their family. Suddenly that side by side example of manhood wasn't there. Society was further moved away in the 60's and 70's when women moved from the home to the work place. Now children began to be raised by the teachers in our schools.
Now I'm not knocking schools, but they can't raise your children.
They can't provide wisdom.
Wisdom is when knowledge is combined with experience.
I can read all the books on piano I want, learn all the notes, but until I sit down to play, I am not a musician. And I will never be a good musician until I practice. The more I practice the better I'll be. No one wants to be on an airplane where the pilot is at the controls for the first time. Yet we raise our children according to books written by people who have never had any. Even if we haven't read the books ourselves the ideas have permeated our society to the point that it has become the norm.
Grandma would never do this!
She was confident that not only has God blessed her with children, but that He has blessed her with everything she needed to raise them. She had the instincts that God had given her, she had her parents and grandparents, and she had the 6,000 years of wisdom given to her by the one who made her, contained in the Bible.
As we go through the next few weeks we are going to share what we have learned, and two things are going to become clear.
First: Parents need to get back to being parents.
Stop letting society dictate what you do through political correctness. Start listening to the voice inside, and to people that have raised successful children before you as an example.
And for God's sake stop asking Oprah what to do.
Second: Young people, stop rejecting the advice and wisdom of people who have gone before you. Look to people who have happy and successful as examples to follow.
If you want to be an adult find an adult you respect and be like them.