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Children’s Church?

Children’s Church?

Education must be a holistic endeavor. If that’s the case, then our children’s bodies and spirits need to be trained and nurtured. They need training that is intellectually rigorous and emotionally engaging. If you wish to be an unengaged parent, then your home gets the worldview you deserve. But if you see the world with biblical eyes, your children will see the wonder of creation as intended and taste and see the good of the Lord. This intentionality is the long-term view of parenting. It entails thinking through what kind of child you want to see at the age of 18.

If education is holistic, then education will–whether liturgical or academic–require a special parental effort. Teaching children to see the world means you are engaged with them in the exploration of the world. To train a child in the way that he should go requires parents who already know the way and are fervently seeking that way for their children. Christian education is anti-gnostic from beginning to end.

Children as Distraction

Children as Distraction

When I was a pastoral intern, I remember someone approaching me after a service and confessing that she simply couldn’t tolerate little children in worship because of their noises. “They were a distraction,” she said angrily. I often think this is the way many evangelicals view children: as distractions. They are distractions at home, so we find ways to entertain them rather than engage them. They are a distraction at church, so we do the same.

The disciples rebuked our Lord because they believed that the children were a distraction to Jesus’ “real” ministry (Mat. 19:13). But Jesus rebuked the disciples and said his ministry is to draw little children to him and to build a kingdom through the faith of those little disciples.

When we send our children to another gathering away from Jesus’ central gathering in worship, we are creating a separate class within Jesus’ earthly kingdom. Even though our intentions may be pure, we may be thinking as the disciples did and thereby missing the opportunity for Jesus to place his hands upon them and bless them with His love (Mat. 19:15).

A Reformation of Sons

A Reformation of Sons

We need a new reformation for men. Men in our day are growing older without growing up. Men are forsaking their responsibilities and raising boys that have absolutely no sense of the old Puritan work ethic. Young boys and teenagers amuse themselves to their mental deaths in front of the latest Netflix series. The expectations for our sons have diminished. We have a generation of sons growing up never having sung a hymn, never having memorized a catechism, never having read a classic, and never having sat through healthy biblical instruction. At what point do we begin to collectively post theses on church doors? At what point do we begin to despise worldly wisdom and set our eyes on kingly words? Training sons to be kings is our aim. We need a reformation of sonship.

Woman as the Glory of Man

Woman as the Glory of Man

Paul calls the woman “the glory of man” (I Cor. 11:7) because it is the order of creation. The woman is the last thing God makes. She is made to complete man; to finish what man starts. And in life, this reflects the fact that men are leaders and women completers. God designed us that way. Women, your role is to glorify things. Husbands, if your wife is your glory then you need to grasp what glory is. Proverbs 12 says that an excellent wife is the crown of her husband. Glory is a crown. A king views his crown as his glory. It gives him honor. And his honor is to be respected. As one pastor wrote: “The wife is to the man what the shekinah glory is to the tabernacle.” Israel protected the glory of the tabernacle. Israel cared and elevated the reputation of that glory. Man, you are to guard what Adam failed to guard. You are to treasure what Adam failed to treasure. Your wife is your glory.

Update: I was asked whether Adam was a bad husband before the Fall.

Answer: No, he was a faithful husband before the Fall. The fall entails a number of failures. Of those failures, the failure to protect the bride from being deceived is one way in which Jesus became a better Adam by being faithful to his bride. Adam’s multi-faceted failures become Jesus’ multi-faceted victories as the Second and Final Adam.

God’s Surprises

God’s Surprises

In the midst of our anxieties, depression and angst about the future, we must think with Trinitarian lens because we have a limited focus. We often need to be surprised out of our situation. God is the expert in surprising and re-directing our plans. If you have tasted of the human experience at any level, you know that we can easily depend on our strategies or plans to bring us happiness. The old saying, “We make plans, and God laughs at them,” is not very Christian. God does not laugh at our plans as if he is secretly waiting to make a mockery out of his children. That’s not how our Father in heaven deals with us. God doesn’t laugh at our plans; he beautifies them by sprinkling his mercy. God’s mercy is what catches us off guard; what surprises us. When our plans are re-arranged and when our future doesn’t turn out the way we imagined, it’s not God’s mockery, it’s God’s mercy. So, be cognizant that when things seem to be falling apart around you, it’s the mercy of God, not his curses or mockery. The Triune God has never played a wrong note in history and neither will He with the story of your life.

Self-Knowledge and Community

God created us with the ability to know ourselves. That knowledge comes first by “contemplating the face of God.” But this contemplation does not come from morbid introspectionism for we are easily self-deceived. We would rather point out the character flaws of others than to insist on our own need to change. And we may think that we know ourselves fairly well until we are confronted by someone else. That friend or family member may reveal something that was before unknown to us; that knowledge was not hidden, but we kept it hidden by telling ourselves again and again that such idea is absurd. These self-knowledge revivals, what we might call the “aha” moments, occur in the face of a loving community. It cannot occur in isolation from community. Isolation provides seeds for further self-deception. In summary, we cannot know ourselves outside of God and His created society.

Matthew’s Mountains

Matthew’s Mountains

The first use of mountain in Matthew is found in chapter four when Satan takes Jesus up on the mountain and offers him all authority if He only bows down and worships him. The last mountain is in Matthew 28 when Jesus gives forth his Great Commission to His disciples on a mountain. Jesus begins on a mountain in Matthew four being offered all authority and He ends in Matthew 28 with all authority in heaven and earth. He does not submit to the devil but conquers the devil by giving His life through death.

Self-Attesting Reality

Self-Attesting Reality

How we read the Bible speaks volumes about our demeanor towards culture. If we cannot think biblically about any reality or decision-making process we are making ourselves subservient to extra-biblical authorities. If we’re incapable of commencing our thinking biblically we’re just as capable of abandoning our Christian categories. It is the great compromise of our age that we hold on firmly to “God and Country” but fail to know what God requires of us who are called to think and speak as citizens of a heavenly country. We have allowed the presuppositions of pagans to guide the thinking of the pious. Our theory of knowledge is inescapably secular. We have retired our Sunday hats after church and replaced it with the hats of neutrality and unbelief.

I have found that people’s passions run deep…for the wrong causes. In fact, they have so engaged in secular pieties that they have established social structures, hierarchies, right and wrong categories, stipulations, and judgment based on systems and promises that show utter contempt for the God of the Bible. What guides your thinking of reality? What gives shape to your decision-making? The redeemed man is led by the self-attesting reality of God’s word.

Seasoned with Salt

Over the years I have heard numerous people who are turned off to the way the Reformers interpret the Bible. The reason for this distaste is that the Reformed advocates they encountered have been either overly aggressive or treated conversations as an arena for rhetorical humiliation. The end result is that years later when they encounter a lucid and humble Reformed advocate they act shocked. In their minds they have built an impression of that position that is unsustainable and made for barbarians who show no interest in the person’s well-being. Reformed theology was doomed to fail from the first conversation.

Let this be a lesson to us who when trying to persuade fellow brothers and sisters of any particular ideology we show truth in love and love in truth. Let our words be seasoned with salt and let our persuasion be filled with grace.

The Threat of a Chicken Sandwich

The Threat of a Chicken Sandwich

Writing for the New Yorker, Dan Piepenbring claims that the presence of Chick-fil-A in New York City is creepy in its “pervasive Christian traditionalism.” He cites the restaurant’s policies on closing on Sundays and its explicit Christian social views. In other words, Chick-fil-A is a symbol of that archaic institution called Christendom.

I note these things to affirm just how easily threatened the world is of good chicken served in the name of Jesus. How much more should they be threatened by bread and wine served by Jesus himself? If someone says that symbols don’t matter or don’t convey ideas, point them to a spicy chicken sandwich served at your local Chick-fil-A. And then point them to the elements of Christendom given by Jesus to memorialize his name. That’ll show them just how pervasive Jesus’ kingdom truly is.