Regrets

Regrets. Failure accumulates as the years roll by and what grows with it? Regrets. You know, those things no one knows. Or even worse, those things that someone well knows. Those things for which we grab the eraser only to find you didn’t write it with pencil but the strongest ink.  How are you and I to deal with regrets?

Paul had regrets. You can sense at various places in the Epistles that they had the potential to haunt him were it not for the fact that he had learned some things about dealing with them. Take for example, Philippians 3. He begins the chapter rejoicing and speaks with passion about a life of serving Jesus Christ. By verse 10 he reduces the focus of his life to the simple idea of intimately knowing Jesus Christ. As he continued it was mingled with reflection. As said before, things that he didn’t really like to think about rushed again into his mind like a wave races across the sand on the seashore.

In verse 12, though a great man, he let us in on the cold hard facts of his existence. He had not “already attained”, which is like saying he hadn’t fully arrived. Nor was he “already perfect”, which is not so much perfection as it is to be complete in his maturity. He was saying, “I’m not finished yet. I’m still a work in progress.”

Then he said “But I follow after”. Compare that to “press forward” in verse 14 since it is the same idea.  In verse 13 he confesses he doesn’t understand everything, but he has one thing down pat. It turns out to be the secret to getting beyond regret.

It’s rather simple:

1. Forget. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin including the very guilt of it that so fuels our regrets.

2. Press on. The meaning is not stroll on down the road, but a vigorous and speedy travel. Reach forth for those things that are higher, higher than the living you did in forming your regrets. It’s the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

As you press on and reach up remember that the One Who called you to this higher call is the One Who best knows, even in vivid color and detail, the things you did that made for regrets. If He knows and calls you still to live for Him, why can’t you go on past regrets today? Let’s take Paul’s secret and use the transforming power of Jesus Christ!

A Book Our Children Need Before They Leave Home

It’s not academic analysis but real life that confronts us in “How Do We Know The Bible Is True? Volume 1”, edited by Ken Ham and Brodie Hodge. Yes, it passes the academic test, but it wants us to be able to face an antagonistic world. It addresses the questions the world is asking Christians today. Not only do we have little effect on a world for which we have no answers, but these are the type of questions that pull our children away from Christianity.

Product Details

The chapters are 28 relevant questions answered by various authors. The first one had me hooked as it answered the question “How Do We Know The Bible Is True?”  How would you answer that question? We might answer “by faith”, but that means nothing to the non-Christian. Here and at other places in the book the laws of logic are brought to bear. What could be better in a world that says we believe the Bible against reason. Find out here that though faith will never be taken out  of the equation, our belief is not against reason!

In chapters on the reliability of the Old and New Testament we get answers (really good answers) to questions Christian young folks hear on college campuses or at the workplace. I heard these things attacked when I went to the University of Tennessee several years ago and I had to dig hard. I want my children to read this before they get in such a situation. I saw others then have their faith crumble as they had no answers to such things. But there are answers, and this book lays them out beautifully.

Some questions are not as critical as others–like the 3 days of Christ in the Tomb and so which day was Christ crucified on, or issues like polygamy. Others are great! People throw up Bible contradictions, or who wrote Genesis, or how to view evidence. In several places you will learn that carbon dating doesn’t prove a thing because of the assumptions made, that the assumption of uniformity is not legitimate on the part of evolutionists, or best of all, the strongest arguments that evolutionists make is only possible if God exists. You’ve got to read about that great fact.

I highly recommend this book. If Christian young people mastered the contents of this book, far fewer of them would drift away. May the Lord use this book to that end.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 . 

The Less Famous Part of Proverbs 31

proverbs 31 womqn

Proverbs 31 stands as the bastion of Christian womanhood. We usually start reading to our daughters at verse 10 imploring them to be virtuous women. But look again. Those first 9 verses tell us something about the whole chapter that perhaps we often miss. To whom was this chapter written? King Lemuel. Some say that’s a pseudonym for Solomon, but it can’t really be proven, and in any event, that is not the point. So, I’ll ask again: To whom was Proverbs 31 written? A man!

Process that! Proverbs 31 is written to a man. Who did the Holy Spirit use to write it? A woman! That’s worth thinking about. In fact, this woman was a mother who loved her son. Her son had a great future ahead of him. As a king, he had power to do much good while that same power carried malicious opportunity to use others for his own thrills. A kingship may not be on our horizon, but to live a life worth living clearly stands before us. In Christian terms, we all have an opportunity to live a life that counts for Jesus Christ. At the same time, men, we have an ugly chance to abuse those around us, to be caught up in ourselves, and to then have our lives collapse around us under the weight of our selfish existence.

She outlined several things that could sway his life away from fulfilling its purpose. Watch out for liquor or other obviously self-indulgent things. Don’t forget who you are and stand up for the disadvantaged when it’s in your power to intervene. Be a man of justice and be abusive to no one. But what was the first piece of advice? Don’t give your strength to women. That clearly is going to preclude a promiscuous life. Beyond that, there’s your marriage. Married life is in no way immoral, but the effect it has is beyond calculation.

That brings up the question of our wives—lots of questions. Who do I need for a wife? What type of lady do I need for a wife? And on a more fundamental level, why do I need a wife? As this mother describes her virtuous woman, we get all the hints we need. In the beginning of addressing the subject of why I need a wife is the physical side. While that’s a big part of it, you wouldn’t have to have the woman described here to take care of that. Maybe that’s exactly what this mother is saying. You might be tempted to pick a wife solely on that criteria and miss the full impact of what the Lord designed.

The point is that a virtuous woman can propel me to be everything I ought to be. Her love, her work, her diligence, her dedication might be the perfect antidote to everything that is wrong with me. I’ll have honor at the gates of public opinion as an added bonus because of her. As a Christian man, I need a godly lady. Not because men are so worthy of this gift, but because they are so needy of it. We need her or the rough edges of manhood might never be sanded away. For all a man can be, there is much we must work away from being.

This mother said “beauty is vain.” She didn’t say it was bad. In fact, it’s not. I think it’s nice to have a wife I enjoy looking at every day! But there is more to her than that, and those other things happen to be the things I also desperately need.

So let the young ladies keep studying Proverbs 31. That’s certainly a legitimate use of it. Do it in spite of a culture that’s lost its way thinking it Neanderthal! It’s time, though, we fellas follow it too. The day we admire the Proverbs 31 woman more may be the day more ladies decide that it’s an ideal approach for them. Regardless the day we grasp the less famous part of Proverbs 31 will be the day we will be so much closer to being the man we should be. Then we will understand why the things this mother told her son are the things every man needs to know.

The Christian Looks At Gay Marriage

Iowa Gay Marriage

Run to the history books and write a new entry. No matter your perspective, when the President of the United States announced his support of marriage for two people of the same sex, we crossed into uncharted waters as a nation. While Bible believers cringe and face growing fear, others of a more socially liberal persuasion celebrate victory.

On the one hand, Christians speak in apocalyptic language on the issue. Can you blame us? You don’t have to agree with us, or believe every word of the Bible as we do, but it is fully disingenuous to say that the Bible doesn’t teach that homosexuality is sin before God. What other position could one hold while claiming to believe the Bible is fully the Word of God? So you can easily imagine what our conversations sound like.

On the other hand, my wife and I have occasion to know and care about people we’ve met primarily through the SCI world who would see it far differently. The latest statistics I’ve heard have this debate at around a 50-50 divide in our nation. I have two observations I’d like to make. Both have something to do with the waning influence of Christianity today. Of course, if the influence of Christianity wanes, it falls on Christians and not on Christ.

The most-used argument for homosexual marriage is something of the live-and-let-live variety. Don’t violate someone’s right to whatever he or she wants to do. Don’t violate someone’s right to privacy. Yes, everyone has a right to do morally right things, or even to do morally neutral things. It’s no one’s business either. But this argument doesn’t hold water otherwise. Would those who use this argument use it for spousal abuse or child abuse? Of course not! Why? Because they know it’s morally wrong. Somehow even if someone subscribes to moral relativism, they would never hold it in these categories. In so doing, they blow up the argument. It is a moral question, and though we may not agree on morality, on some level we all know there is something called morality and we live by it. Christians say morals must be defined by God as given in His Word. Christians seem to argue in the arena of ideas from a far weaker position than is necessary. Somehow spouting insults, which is the antithesis of Christianity, replaced a discussion of what decides right and wrong in a world where everyone somehow knows right and wrong exist.

That leads to my other observation. It is why the world so little listens to we Christians. In too many cases, we hate homosexuals. We don’t have a scriptural leg to stand on in so doing, yet we don’t seem to care. Perhaps we don’t go as far as the wacko Westboro Baptist bunch, who spout hatred of homosexuals with salivating glee and an element of perverted fascination, but we speak of them as if they were beyond the reach of God’s grace. I am aware of Romans 1:24-32 and its unequivocal condemnation of homosexuality, but I notice several other sins mentioned there as well. Why do we pick on the one sin at the exclusion of the others? It’s my right and yours to find this sin more personally repulsive, but does it carry a right to hate those who practice it? When was the last time you felt so strongly about, for example, “backbiters”? Or the “proud”?

It’s true as Christians that we should take our stand against the rising tide of public opinion and say homosexuality is wrong, wrong for our country, wrong for individuals. But it’s also time to love as Christ loves. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe there’s any homosexual in the world who isn’t loved by the Lord as much as me, nor one whom the grace of God can’t reach. That’s the confidence I have in the cross of Christ, and as always, Jesus is the answer.

Unashamed To Bear His Name by R.T. Kendall–Book Review

 
unashamed to bear his nameWe have here a tale of two books–it was the best of times and it was the worst of times! The first book is quite a read as it highlights the very scriptural idea that Christians are called upon to bear reproach for the Name. That Name is the name that moves the heart of every believer–Jesus. A Christian should expect and gladly bear any shame the world hurls at us for that Name.  He defines using the words “stigma” and “scandal.”

He well explains that it is a privilege to bear this stigma as well as highlights the foolishness of being consumed with what others say. This is not so difficult a cross to bear. Why would followers of Jesus care what His enemies say?

Then he weaves his theses into the Gospel itself. Or perhaps we could say the practical side of bearing shame for Christ is upholding the truths of His Gospel. To say a positive word for Christ may get you in trouble, but saying that we are sinners in need of Christ will really get you in trouble. Mr. Kendall did a piece of work in defending this.

He further showed how Bible characters across the Scriptures suffered this reproach, and many of them did it gladly and reaped obvious benefits.  He follows this with defining what is bearing shame and is not bearing shame. The question is broached by what would he be willing to go to the stake for. That will put it in perspective quickly. I agree that Christ and the salvation He provides pretty much exhausts the list. Finally he vividly shows that needing vindication here in this life is a fault. His quoting of the song “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” tells the whole tale. Read it–you’ll see.

Now there’s the second book. He disintegrates into comparing his getting entangled in charismatic doctrine as this same idea. I could in no way see the connection. When his friends turned against that direction in his ministry, he feels like he is bearing shame for the doctrine of the Spirit. The book is still a worthy read though you may not need to read it to the end. You won’t need me to tell you when the book changes completely.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Train Up A Child?

train up a child

Here’s a verse every Bible-believing parent knows: Prov. 22: 6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

If you are like me, you could quote this verse, but you wonder exactly what it means.  Is it a guarantee that if I raise my child correctly he or she will go through life and never stray from the Lord? Or is it, as I have heard it said, if he strays he will return? In meditating a little deeper on that this morning, I concluded a few things. The meaning must be wrapped up in the meaning of “train up.” The word originally carried the idea of “a narrowing.” This world, with help from the Devil and our own flesh, throws a wide stream of thought about life at us. Much of it bad, some of it is ridiculous, and most of it is worthless. The parents job, then, is to narrow that flow to what is true and right. We train them to see the world before the Lord as it really is, not as most are deceived to believe it is. This task is daunting (or at least it seems so to this father of six), but this verse surely says good things can follow the effort.

So the question becomes, how do we “train up?” Are you like me and are ever trying to “teach up?” Hey, it makes sense to me, so why can’t these knucklehead kids see it like I do? Think of how the military trains up soldiers. The trainers are out on the field with those being trained all involved in what soldiers do. Those drill sergeants are battle hardened and train up in what they live and breath. I don’t think our military today would be as efficient as it is were the new recruits trained in a classroom by out-of-shape guys who had never fired a gun! Run the gauntlet ahead of me and let me follow is the way to train me.

I recently read and reviewed a book about troubled teens (https://reaganreview.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/hope-for-parents-of-troubled-teens-by-connie-rae-book-review/) and quite frankly, it spooks me. I love those six rascals of mine and so want the Lord to use them and see that they follow Him all their days. I “teach up”! I’ve told them everything imaginable. I wonder if the greater need is for me to run ahead and let them see me exercise faith, or demonstrate the victory the Lord can give our lives even in daily living. Will 5 minutes of inexcusable impatience undo an hour of careful teaching? Of course the teaching should stay, but does the trainer even know what he is talking about? If the Lord is making no perceivable difference in my life, does my teaching ring hollow? What I might make you believe about my spiritual prowess will never fly with those who live under my roof. Whatever this verse really means and promises is tied to my training up my children.

The other word on which the meaning of our verse hinges is “depart.” That word originally meant “to turn off.” If I train by teaching and real demonstration, the Bible says they will not depart. Perhaps the verse means more, but at the bare minimum it says they can’t turn off what they learned when they were truly trained up. If they stray from the Lord, or take up drinking, or live with sexual looseness, there will be something deep inside them that is probably not true of the wild peer group around them–they know the truth. They know (if it is real in me) that my God is real, that I wasn’t just “whistling Dixie”, but the Lord is the focal point of my life, a life that is better than the one lived far from God. Perfect? Far from it! But somehow far better than I would have been without the Lord? Obviously (or so it should be).

I guess this dashes the cold water of reality right in our faces. It comes up in every area of life —everything Christianity has to offer me is tied tightly to my relationship to Jesus Christ. There are no promises in the Bible that will do me much good with a disengaged fellowship with Christ. No good can spring from my life to anyone else, including my children, outside of what is real between me and my Lord. A lot rides on it too. The lives of my children being at the top of the list.

Lord help me to train up my children.

Hope For Parents Of Troubled Teens by Connie Rae–Book Review

Here’s a book for those experiencing trouble with your teenage children. Besides being a licensed counselor, Ms. Rae has experienced her own deep trouble with a teenage child of her own. That will color your opinion of the book. You will either think that you would rather listen to someone who raised teenagers and dodged disaster, or you might think she has insight into how to make the best out of the disaster. Probably you would find another book better if you haven’t had the tragedy yet of a rebellious child, but have you traveled that valley, this book might help you make the most of a tragic situation.  Fortunately, after 6 years, Ms. Rae saw her son turn his situation around.

This is not a Scriptural analysis of the problem, but keen insights are given. It had the feel of observations gained by deep experience both professionally and personally. At least if you have a troubled teen and are dealing with guilt, you will obviously be treated gently here.

Her descriptions of parenting styles will help you peg yourself, particularly the likely problems of your style and how it could contribute to rebellion in your child. Then there’s a plea to believe it’s not too late to make changes. That chapter ends, as each of them do, with a set of practical ideas you could try.

Then she guides through the changes that go on at this time in our teenager’s lives. We often, in my opinion, get caught in a time warp and forget that natural changes come at this time of all our lives. To forget that could put us in the hole from the beginning.

The chapter “Moms and Dads, Husbands and Wives” was the best in the book. We expect our children will do well, so if trouble comes, we follow that dark quirk of human nature to play the blame game. Our shame and guilt are hard to hide, so it would be some relief, we suppose, to lay the greater share of blame at our spouse’s feet. That will only compound the problem that is breaking our hearts. She suggests we focus on the marriage at this crucial time and make it strong enough to influence our child.

She well shows that what teens want is little different than what we want. We want to be accepted and loved. These basic human needs rarely vary though the viewpoint of our different age groups may cause far different ideas about getting it. Later she talks about the generational differences we have with teens today. They live near grandparents and cousins, a naturally supportive group, in far less numbers today. Social media replaces that for the most part and makes peers a greater influence than ever. The chapter on “Kids need something to do” is on target.

I thought she was too accepting of certain social ills facing teens today. I wonder if we couldn’t take a stronger stand on issues and balance it with greater love. She highlights communication though fully admitting it is work when teens are involved. Still, help can be gleaned in this helpful book if your teen is troubled today.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 . 

Book Review–Commentary On The Psalms, Vol. 1 by Allen Ross

psalms by ross

Another commentary on the Psalms? Yes, and better than most you already have on your shelves. Mr. Ross has spent a lifetime studying the Psalms and the fruit of it is handed right to us here. The style is pastor-friendly, yet the scholarship is rich. The difference seems to be that he doesn’t feel the need to impress other scholars as he ever aims at those who handle God’s Word. I loved that he had no problem consulting literature of yesteryear thereby avoiding the ridiculous idea that only the latest commentary has anything to say to us.

The first 179 pages give a powerful introduction to the Psalms. Written to be understood, he communicates what other commentaries couldn’t touch in double the pages.  When he writes on the value of the Psalms, we find out all we need to know about Mr. Ross. He loves, appreciates, and is in awe of the Psalms. He  realizes the special place the Psalms have always help among God’s people. I especially liked his discussion on the titles of the Psalms. He gives good help on the different types of Psalms. These discussions are crucial to understanding the text.  He well discusses how to interpret Biblical poetry, without which we are shooting in the dark. His “Psalms in Worship” are eyeopening and a good reminder on how the Lord used the Psalms in Israel. Then, he writes again about the various types of Psalms pulling out their theology.

What’s the last part of the introduction? He tells us how to develop an exposition of the Psalms. Whether you would do an exposition exactly as he would say or not, don’t you appreciate that emphasis?

Pages 181-887 cover Psalms 1-41. The depth is good. You may have some volumes on the Psalms that look thick on your shelves, but they cover all 150 Psalms and can be surprisingly thin and really not cover some verses at all. He gives background on each individual Psalm, an exegetical analysis, commentary in expository form, followed by message and application. That design is superior.

If this is what the Kregel Exegetical Library Series is going to be like, give us more. I hope Mr. Ross will give us the rest of the volumes to cover the Psalms in a timely manner. This is a winner, especially for the pastor!

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 .