Tuesday, September 30, 2014

5 Mistakes Parents Keep Making

As I write this I am scooting my chair up to the table and fastening a bib around my neck in order to keep from allowing any humble pie to get on my clothes. Parenting is tough! I have made and continue to make many mistakes. I constantly pray to God for help and forgiveness. But thankfully, with God as my heavenly parent and with His manual close by, in this process of being a father I am learning. Through my own misguided struggles as well as my observations of others, I would like to share with you five major mistakes parents continually make.

Some parents worship their children rather than worshiping God. It is easy to love our children and to do things for them. We are happy when they are happy. But when does their happiness become too important to us? What children want and what children need are not always the same. Our children are here to be loved but not worshiped. We need God-centered homes rather than kid-centered homes. Our lives are supposed to be about God first so our relationships must be guided by the same principle (Exodus 20:3).

Some parents try to live their second childhood through their children. Maybe it is because they never got to live their first childhood, since their own parents rode piggyback, too. Parents need to be parents. When you grow up you are supposed to put away childish things (1 Cor. 13:11). It is time parents stop trying to make their kids be the sports stars they never were. No more with the baby pageants. No more with the crazy parents in the stands. No more with the excessive efforts to make the world adore your children. God loves them. You love them. That should suffice.

Some parents believe their children can do nothing wrong. Let me qualify this problem by saying it usually only starts when the kids leave the house. We may see their faults at home, but the minute a teacher or friend or authority figure accuses our child of anything but excellence, the guard goes up. If our children are going to have any respect for authority, we have to back up those people who are not us who are trying to do their best for our children. Your kids not only can do wrong but they certainly will. When others see your children struggling, take it to heart. They may draw attention to something they need help with that you have been unable to see because you are their parent.

Some parents choose friendship over discipline. Sorry, mom and dad. You cannot be your teenager’s BFF. Not now anyway. Right now they need boundaries. Right now they need to be told, “No.” Right now they need you to tell them that even though that is cool and popular with their friends it is not cool and popular with you and it is absolutely not good with God. Friendship is easier than discipline. It is tempting to be a neat parent. But wimping out when it is time for discipline will lead to disrespect. They may not like you now when you keep them from getting their way. But they will love you and thank you later and be your best friend when everyone becomes an adult.

Some parents don’t let their kids be kids. This one may be the biggest mistake of all. In an age of information our kids are learning things they don’t need to learn. Children cannot process adult topics and problems and they were never meant to. In the name of entertainment we have all said, “Oh, I think they can handle this movie,” and then came regret. Not limiting their internet and phone access and exposure is the same as letting them play with the devil as if he were a schoolmate. Giving into pressure from others about having “the talk” too early keeps a child from retaining innocence. The days are coming when sin will be real and innocence will be gone forever. Our young children are sinless now. Why would we initiate and encourage the process?

Children are our heritage and joy. They are both our greatest blessing and our greatest responsibility. There is too much at stake to keep reliving the same mistakes over and over. Remember the child. Ask God for help. Do your best. Pray often.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Great Disappointment

William Miller was a prosperous farmer and Baptist preacher from the state of New York who began to share his predictions about the Advent (Second Coming of Christ) in 1833. Through extensive studies of Old Testament prophecies he predicted that Jesus would come again in 1843. During a period between 1843 and 1844, approximately 50,000-100,000 people followed his teachings. After several unfulfilled predictions from 1843 to 1844, hundreds of "Millerites" left their homes and businesses behind and all of their earthly possessions, concentrating on the specific date of October 22, 1944, when Jesus would surely return. When Jesus did not appear the date became known as "The Great Disappointment."

Since the first falling away until the restoration, and even today, Christianity has been bombarded with disappointments that are the direct result of men going beyond what is written. To predict the Advent is to not accept words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36 - "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." If God had wanted us to know the specific time of our Lord's return, He would have told us. But instead His admonition is, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matt. 24:44).

Our 21st Century world is now full of beliefs that are merely warmed up leftovers of human doctrines that have been inserted over the centuries. The early church never worshiped with man-made instruments, but not only are they all over the landscape today, most people truly believe God will accept whatever worship they may offer. "Once saved, always saved" remains through the influence of Calvanism, and many religious groups still have part or all of this doctrine in their creed. Sprinkling of infants, salvation by faith alone, and the aspects of premillenialism, to name a few, are ideas that live in the hearts and minds of many religious people. Confused by what they have heard time and again, it is now to the point that many risk their very souls to put faith in teachings that cannot be found in the Scriptures.

Perhaps the saddest truth of all...people don't know that what they believe is not of God. We cannot believe differently about salvation and all be right. We cannot believe differently about the identity and worship of the church and all be right. We cannot believe differently about the return of Christ and the judgment scene and all be right. The only way to be in line with God and abiding in truth is for us to stop automatically believing what we are told. Remove the filter, open your Bible, and be taught of God!

Jesus is coming again with clouds (Rev. 1:7). He may come at any time, and when He does, even atheists will bow (Rom. 14:11). I cannot help but think that for many it will be another "great disappointment." But for those who follow God and keep His word in truth and humility, it will be a day in which Christ will be admired and glorified by those who are truly His (2 Thess. 1:10).

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." - 1 John 4:1

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Robbed by the Thief on the Cross

"What about the thief on the cross?" This is the question I have heard so many times that I have stopped counting. This question arises whenever I get into a conversation about salvation with a person who does not believe in baptism as one of the essential elements. In Luke 23 we read of the conversation between Jesus and the thief who showed penitence and admitted guilt while asking to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom. We recall the wonderful love of God and extension of grace that brought these words from our Savior's dying lips, "Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).

Some allege this event proves that salvation is possible by simply believing in Christ, admitting personal sin, and asking God for forgiveness and a place with Him in heaven. While all of these are necessary for a person to be saved, these alone do not exhaust the requirements that God has left for us in His word.

There are many Bible answers for why the thief on the cross is not our perfect example. We could point out that both Jesus and the thief lived and died under the Law of Moses, or that Jesus nailed the Law to the cross when He brought forth the new covenant in His blood (Col. 2:14; Matt. 26:28). We could mention that New Testament Christians are those who have been baptized into the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Rom. 6:3-4) - which would have been impossible for the thief since Jesus had not yet died. We could note that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins was not available, nor was it a requirement for salvation until the day of Pentecost, when the church began (Acts 2:38). And do we really want the thief to be our example? Do we want to live a life dominated by Satan only to repent in our final, tragic hour? This account is given to us not as an example of how to be saved, but rather as a testimony of the unsearchable and matchless grace of Jesus.

There is one simple passage which brings a great deal of light and truth on a subject that so many have clouded in an attempt to justify their denominational mode of salvation. In Romans 10:9-10 we read, "That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." I only bring up this passage because it has become a proof text for many who believe that baptism is not required for salvation, but merely belief in Jesus as the Son of God and the corresponding confession that Jesus is Lord. In other words, the people who use the "thief on the cross" reasoning for saying baptism is non-essential will quickly go to this passage in order to prove their point. I want to thank them for doing that, because they just proved why their reasoning is false.

Look again at the passage. Did the thief believe in his heart that God raised Jesus from the dead? Paul says in Romans 10:9 that this is a requirement for salvation. But how could he believe it? Jesus wasn't even dead yet! The thief didn't even know Jesus was going to be raised - the apostles didn't understand it until after it happened, and Jesus had been telling them virtually every day for three and a half years. The thief was dealing with a different set of requirements. Those under the patriarchal law and the Law of Moses were cleansed by the blood of Jesus and sanctified through their animal sacrifices. It was impossible for the thief to believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead. But we must believe it. The thief was not required to be baptized for the remission of sins, but we are commanded to do so today (Acts 2:38, 10:48).

We need to rightly divide the Bible. The church does not determine what the Bible teaches, the Bible determines what the church teaches. Study. Humble yourself. Change your mind if you are mistaken. Obey the gospel - and obey all of it - not just part.

"...casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:5