Dear college student,
There was another point I wanted to address. It seems you are also enamored with some form of socialism. You think the free market favors the rich and that rich people are destroying America. You even jokingly said you were planning to vote for Bernie Sanders. I know you are just trying to get a reaction. But don’t forget that I grew up with the fruits of socialism. Give me a call and I can share a few of my observations.
You seem to demur any concept of private property and you argue for strong government ownership of all sorts of things. But I know you have a good heart. I want to applaud your desires, but I also want to encourage you to not be easily moved towards an ideal without cautiously seeking wisdom from those around you.
Don’t forget the sacrifices your parents made to get you to college and how hard your dad worked just so you could go to that vacation you still talk about to this day. That’s called hard work. The Bible praises strong, responsible males who cherish work and who do not seek shortcuts. Be like that.
If you are eager to see what socialism looks like, let me encourage you to pick a socialist country of choice. Don’t go to Venezuela, I beg you. They are too far gone. A few decades ago they were a shining light of prosperity, but since socialism has taken over…well, let’s just say dumpster diving has an entirely new meaning over there. Be careful what you wish for.
My final warning is to say that economic models are never separated from morality. When you subscribe to a system, almost always you begin to slowly, but surely succumb or at least become comfortable with models of morality that are closely associated with advocates of that system.
I understand you are exploring and learning. But be aware that ideas have consequences and consequences come from ideas whether good or ill.
Dear college student,
College is an amazing experience! I confirmed my calling, found a wife, and grew immensely in my faith. I call that a win-win-win. But for you, the experience has been far short of compelling and satisfying. It seems your faith is taking one step forward and two steps back. If this pattern continues, it seems almost certain that you will want nothing to do with the Jesus you grew up with and heard from the pulpit every Sunday. In fact, there are times when you seem to speed up the process to apostasy.
I have a great fear that your ears are only open for the business of the wicked, and your tongue is desperately seeking to imitate the scornful. Your experience is not uncommon. I have seen too many young people go to college and never return to the Church again. But I expect more from you. The seduction of that nominal Christian or that open atheist may be great, but your God is greater. Don’t let empty philosophies take you away from the empty tomb. At this stage, you need a dose of warnings. The road you are going may seem flowery, but there are hidden land mines and inconspicuous deep pits dug to trap you. Take the other road: the one that is unmistakably clear. That’s the road to true joy.
It will be good to see you this summer. The cold brew at the new coffee shop is the talk of all the coffee aficionados. Some trick about straining twice through a coffee filter or using a sieve lined with cheesecloth…anyway, it’s very tasty. We need to keep talking. Your faith is too important and your life is too precious.
For those who have inquired and shown interest in my doctoral work, I have just turned in my last paper for Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s class. This concludes 3 1/2 years of course work. At this point, I have concluded all the prerequisite classes and papers before I begin working on my project/dissertation in July. As a result, a new stage of writing and reading begins that will hopefully narrow down my topic. My goal is to complete my writing by Advent of 2020. In the meanwhile, I am hoping to establish weekly habits that will allow me to focus on making small, but tangible progress.
To ensure my progress and perseverance, I am starting a newsletter for anyone interested. The newsletter would be composed of monthly updates on my studies, notations, youtube videos, and random scribblings related directly or indirectly to my studies. My general interests, at this stage, focus on pastoral theology and counseling. If you’d like to subscribe, sign up in the link below. Hopefully, I will send out the first newsletter by the end of May. Easter cheers.
Subscribe to Receive Monthly Updates on my Doctoral Studies.
I thought I’d reach out to you to answer what appeared to be a distressing topic. You feel alone, and on top of that, you have several little ones who need you every waking hour. In fact, you may have noticed they love to say your name with increasing consistency. Furthermore, you have repeated a few times that you have no friends.
Well, what you need at this stage is a proper orientation. You see, you will not have—ordinarily—friends at this stage of life. Your husband is a friend, but there are different kinds of friendships. You are looking for a deep female friendship grounded in faith and life experiences. The bad news is that this stage of life will not offer you that. The good news is that what your life offers you now with your children is domestic stability punctuated by community joy. What I mean is that your stage of life is not the stage where you enjoy deep friendships, but where you enjoy gentle and sweet connections around you. Your idea of friendship as someone to whom you can pour out your soul frequently and go out for $6 coffee three times a week is not only unrealistic but even unhealthy. You are at a stage where God will send you people to connect with; perhaps even, the same people to connect with occasionally, rather than consistently.
At this stage, you have a house and children to serve as queen. You need to find satisfaction at this stage of life, or you will always be unhappy moving from one thing to another; one institution to another; one ideology to another. Perhaps your greatest challenge at this stage is contentment. Be content with your motherhood, be content with the connections you have at church and outside, but don’t expect something your stage of life cannot offer.
This, of course, leads me to say that you are loved by God. It’s no accident that you are a mother; God chose you to guide your little ones in the way of truth. Don’t lose heart. Your labors are not in vain. You are loved more than you know. God looks at you with such tenderness at this stage of life. You really need to know that. Pour yourself into your children. Love your husband. Rejoice in the encouraging female souls around you. That’s all for now. Thanks for listening and be well.
I still remember first meeting you. Your enthusiasm for Jesus was great. We hosted you numerous times in our home. The church you attended even helped you through some difficult financial situations. I recall how thankful you were for the generosity of the saints. Then, a month or so after, you were different. You started to miss church often. You were not returning texts or calls from concerned members of your church. Something changed.
Your pictures on social m…edia indicated that you were having fun. But it wasn’t the kind of fun that Christians have with others, it was a dismissive fun; the kind you have when your sense of morality is distorted. I confess I was deeply concerned. And I was right to be. Your friends–especially those of a homosexual persuasion–were nice to you; in fact, they were so kind that you began to despise everything your church taught which meant you began to despise Jesus, Paul, the Law, and the Prophets.
It was the end of a journey for you. You came to church one last time and gave up the ghost. Your pastor has not seen you in church since then. After a long time trying to reach you, love you, remind you of your baptism, you rejected it all and decided to party in the pastures of pigs. My heart aches because once you despise Jesus and his Bride, you are in a more dangerous place than if you had been born and remained an atheist all your days.
I urge you: come back! I know that by now you know that the pleasures of the world are unsatisfying. Honey quickly turns into vinegar; love quickly turns into betrayal. Come back! We are waiting for you. In fact, let us know when you are ready to return. We need a little time to organize your welcome party. I hope to see you soon.
The apostle Paul says in Colossians that “if then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” We are a theological people, but we are also a people who live our theology. The resurrection is something to be lived. The resurrection of Jesus causes us to live a certain way. The resurrection was not an inconsequential event in history, but the event that changed the world and our responsibility to the world. Paul says that our baptisms testify to this reality: “If we are baptized into Jesus, we are baptized into both his death and resurrection. We are dead to sin and alive to righteousness (Rom. 6:11–13).” To be raised with Christ is to seek the life that is pleasing to Him; seeking a heavenly life on earth. So live Easter! Christ is Risen!
Jesus as a psychological ideal is easy to believe. The Jesus that is no more than a gifted rabbi, philanthropist, and inclusive in his beliefs; that’s a teacher any American can subscribe.
On Easter Sunday, the president of one of the most liberal theological institutions in the country said these words:
But what happens on Easter is the triumph of love in the midst of suffering… Those who claim to know whether or not it happened are kidding themselves.
Easter as the triumph of love? Sounds nebulous enough, right? What does that even mean? You see, even in the most potent element of the Christian faith, the resurrection, one can make Jesus fit into your way of thinking.
If Jesus is not raised from the dead by the Father, then Jesus is just an idea; a psychological detail that can mean anything you want.
Beloved, we do not come to worship today to claim the triumph of love, we come to worship today to claim Jesus’ triumph over the grave.
you regret not spending enough time with your kids in their early years. And now, you have noticed that your teenager does not seem interested in being around you or talking to you much. This hurts you deeply and you long to reconnect but have no idea how to do so.
My first encouragement to you is to go to your teenager and ask for their forgiveness. “My son/daughter, I want to repent for not investing in our relationship over the years. I chose work and technology over you. I deeply regret how that decision affects our current relationship.” I am convinced that parents need to be repenters before anything else. I don’t know if repenting will change anything, but it is the first and most biblical place to begin any restoration.
Second, be wary of manipulating your children into liking you. Don’t treat them like they are tools in your garage that you use to fit your needs. They are human beings made in God’s image and need to see that they are loved by you for who they are and not who you wish or manipulate them to be.
Finally, if an opportunity opens for dialogue, use it to listen. It’s likely that your teenager has felt unheard for a long time. Be slow to speak (James 1:19). Inquire. Don’t expect a damaged relationship with your teenager to change overnight. God loves to reconcile family members. Be patient. May this journey bear good fruit.
I understand the temptation to compare your children’s accomplishment with others (II Cor. 10:12). There is always a child who will outsmart yours; there will always be a child who will thrive in an instrument faster and more effective than yours; there will always be a child who is more skilled in a sport than yours. Yet, our hearts sink with despair when we allow ourselves to fall into that trap of comparing.
If you give in to that mode of thinking, you will rarely be yourself again. Beyond that, you will endanger your children from being and expressing their gifts for who God made them be. They will grow up feeling the weight of never being enough, never resting enough, and always trying to fit into an image you had for them, or worse, feeling incapable of living up to your golden standard.
Resist that temptation. Cheer your child. Gently direct them. Minister to them when they fail. Don’t bring child x into a conversation to highlight your own child’s shortcomings. Encourage their gifts and remind them they are loved when they get a lower grade, when they can’t play that piano piece just right, and when they strike out.