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Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Last week, my wife and I had the privilege of hearing Voddie at a Home School convention and thoroughly enjoyed fellowshipping with him and his son Trey over lunch. His following post is the essence of one of the messages he gave. I asked him if I could post it, because as a pastor in an urban community, I continually witness the devastating ill-effects of the public school system, and I am convinced that this is essential truth that needs to be embraced by Christians living in the city. Here's Voddie's passionate and enlightening appeal to not send your kids to public schools:
No academic skepticism, no secularist authors, no blatant materialism can so undermine the spiritual life of the country like the completely secularized training of the child under the authority of the state... Bible-based education is mandatory for Christian parents. If we think we can keep our children in a secular school system and escape the dumbed-down, amoral, and immoral results of secular humanism in schools, we are sorely mistaken (emphasis added, see: http://daveblackonline.com/our.htm).
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people ask home educators the “authority” questions (i.e., to whom do your report? who approves your curriculum?). These questions are the byproduct of statism. The Gramscian, neo-Marxist influence is so prevalent in our culture that we don’t even recognize it anymore. We actually believe that children are wards of the state when in fact they are not. As a result, some people have a hard time believing that they have the right to educate their children in a manner of their choosing. Well, I’m here to tell you that you are free. Your children are yours. They do not belong to Caesar. You don’t have to take them back to the local government indoctrination center next semester. And in some states (thank God for Texas), you don’t even have to tell them you’re not coming back!
4. AMERICA’S SCHOOLS ARE AMONG THE WORST IN THE INDUSTRIALIZED WORLD
One of our elders taught honors math at one of the “best schools” in one of the “best school districts” in Texas (you know, one of those schools people lie and cheat to get their children into so that they can get a better education). His advanced geometry class was filled with a bunch of imbeciles who could barely do basic arithmetic. As a result, most of them failed their first major test. You know what happened next. That’s right, the principal called him into the office and told him to make things right. One of the things he was told to employ was a grading technique called “Square root times ten.” Thus, a student who made a 49 on a test ended up with a 70 in the grade book (for those of you who went to government schools like me, that’s the square root of 49 times ten).
This is what’s happening at our “best” schools. Don’t believe me? ask a college admissions worker how many students coming from our “best” schools with grade point averages hovering near 4.0 need remediation when they get to college. It’s an absolute joke. The overwhelming majority of children in our schools have a B average or above (mostly for self esteem reasons), which serves to give them and their parents a false sense of achievement. It also results in people who ‘feel really good’ about their schools.
Please don’t buy the lie. Your child’s school is probably terrible. If you really care about the stewardship of you child’s mind, don’t send them back to the worst schools in the industrialized world next year.
3. AMERICA’S SCHOOLS ARE MORALLY REPUGNANT
The headlines speak for themselves. Student-teacher sex scandals, student-student sex, immodesty, foul language, drugs, alcohol, radical homosexual agendas, teachers taking students for abortions, “sexting” leading to suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, brutal beatings, and school shootings (see here). These are just some of the headlines that have become the norm. And that does not include things like cheating, disrespect for authority, impropriety towards the opposite sex, and other moral behaviors children learn regularly and repeatedly in school. Van Til said it better than I ever could:
“Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum…. The result is that child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food…. Modern educational philosophy gruesomely insults our God and our Christ. How, then, do you expect to build anything positively Christian or theistic upon a foundation which is the negation of Christianity and theism?…. No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.”Moreover, the system itself is funded by virtual theft. Homeowners are forced under threat of the loss of their property to pay for the education of other people’s children. How is that appropriate? The government tells everyone that they have to send their children to school, then tells homeowners that they are going to be the ones to foot the bill whether they like it or not. Not only is this a form of welfare, it is also a form of theft.
For those of you ready to read me the riot act and yell and scream about paying for roads and bridges, hold on a minute. Why is it that we get all up-in-arms about our tax dollars being used to fund abortions (while our opponents make the roads and bridges argument), but we don’t see this one? Our schools are morally repugnant. They are also neo-Marxist, secular humanist indoctrination centers. Why should I as a Christian be forced to pay for children to have every vestige of Christianity beaten out of them? Americans are not forced to pay for Mormon schools, or Muslim schools; why should we be forced to pay for neo-Marxist schools (remember, all education is religious in nature)? And why should any Christian contribute to such a system by sending their children to such schools at the expense of others? And before you yell, “I’m just using the tax dollars I spent,” ask yourself if you’re willing to take advantage of all that abortion funding going to Planned Parenthood, or those tax dollars going toward fetal stem cell research.
2.GOVERNMENT EDUCATION IS ANTI-CHRISTIAN
“I am as sure as I am of Christ’s reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen.”
As Hodge pointed out, the result of non-Christian education is anti-Christian education. Government schools must be anti-Christian. They can be nothing else. Therefore, to send a child to a government school is to have them trained in an anti-Christian environment for 14,000 instructional hours. To get that much instruction from church a child would have to attend two hours a week for one hundred and forty years!
1. THE BIBLE COMMANDS CHRIST-CENTERED EDUCATION
“This whole process of education is to be religious, and not only religious, but Christian…. And as Christianity is the only true religion, and God in Christ the only true God, the only possible means of profitable education is the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”
The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving Knowledge, faith and obedience; Although the light of Nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable [sic.]; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will, which is necessary unto salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that His will unto his Church; and afterward for the better preserving, and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment, and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan, and of the World, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the Holy Scriptures to be most necessary, those former ways of God's revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience [i.e., “the Lord told me”] can ever be a vehicle of revelation.
I have quoted John Wesley on this issue in previous posts. However, his words are far too pertinent for me to ignore on this issue:
“Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. I ask, then, for what end do you send you children to school? “Why, that they may be fit to live in the world.” In which world do you mean, — this or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only; and had forgot that there is a world to come; yea, and one that will last for ever! Pray take this into your account, and send them to such masters as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise, to send them to school (permit me to speak plainly) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all events, then, send your boys, if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large public schools, (for they are nurseries of all manner of wickedness,) but private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavours to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together.”
Thursday, July 9, 2009
For the past few months, I have had the privilege of reviewing chapter by chapter Why Small Groups? Together towards Maturity edited by C.J. Mahaney and published by Sovereign Grace Ministries. This is a great book!!! and as amazing as it sounds, you can get it for free (and that's not one of my typos). Here's a sample of my review followed by information as to how you can get this free e-book that sets a new standard on discipleship.
An old black preacher once said, “You can no more do what you don’t know than come back from where you ain’t never been.” That’s so true. If we became aware of the fact that there was a life-changing truth that we needed to know and didn’t, then we could diligently study to learn it, memorize what we learned, and get help to learn how to apply it to our lives so that we could do it. But the old preacher is right, his axiom undeniable, and Hosea concurs, warning us of as much, when he laments, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The solution for all God-fearing believers then is this, we must inextricably link our quest for right living to right thinking (Ps 119:9).
The great need of the hour today is for the church to relearn how to progressively grow in holy living. We need to regain a biblical vision for how to become Christ-like and how to live in God-pleasing ways in an ungodly, please-me, pleasure-seeking world. That’s obvious to all of us. Collectively, we seem to have forgotten how to live holy, and you can’t do what you don’t know. Ask just about any pastor, church leader, or church member to honestly answer this question: Are you living holy like God is holy? Wouldn’t the most honest answer be Daniel’s quote, “We have sinned. . . . Righteousness belongs to You, O Lord, but to us open shame” (Dan 9:5, 7)? And wouldn’t we, like Isaiah under God’s piercing holiness, confess, “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isa 6:5)? With holy living as our standard (1 Pet 1:15-16), this is not the church’s finest hour. The church desperately needs to relearn how to grow in progressive holy living. We need Spirit-filled, seasoned/wise, Bible breathing men of God to re-teach us how to live like our holy Savior.
That is the great need of the hour for the church today. That is why Covenant Eyes asked me to do a thorough review of a very promising book, Why Small Groups? Together toward Maturity. The question I have sought to answer with chapter by chapter blog style reviews is, do these authors and does this book significantly empower the church to live holy?
To read the rest of this review and to download a free copy of this e-book go to Covenant Eyes, and then spread the word!!!!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Michael Jackson: Gone too Soon
Heeding the advice of the wisest man to ever live, who said "It's better to go to the house of mourning . . . because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart," Ecclesiastes 7:2, I stopped to watch the memorial service of Michael Jackson because there is so much to take to heart from his death. As a minister of the Gospel, I have witnessed my share of memorials. This one will stay etched in my mind for many reasons, but namely because of who died and how he died. So if for no one else but for me, I thought I would write down what I took to heart from the memorial of an icon—Michael Jackson.
How Do You Say Good Bye to a Legend?
There were so many poignant moments in this service. Who watched Michael Jackson’s memorial and wasn’t touched by Steve Wonder’s regretful words, “This is a moment that I wished that I didn’t live to see come,” and didn’t agree with his haunting poetic line “I never dreamed you’d leave in summer.” Who watched Michael’s memorial and wasn’t moved when Usher’s voice cracked while singing a tribute to his idol. Whose heart didn’t feel compassion when Brooke Shields’ reminiscence revealed the humanity of her friend. Who listened to Rev. Al Sharpton and wasn’t provoked? Who didn’t feel pain when Marlon Jackson lamented losing his brother? Who didn’t cry when little beautiful Paris Jackson said how much she loved her daddy and how he was the best father “you could ever imagine”? I did. I was touched. I was moved. I felt compassion. I was provoked. I lamented. I even shed a tear. So how do you say goodbye to a legend? Not easily. But with dignity and heartfelt emotion, Michael Jackson’s friends, family, and fans bore this sober task well. The way you say goodbye to anyone in death is that you remember their life and mourn their departure. The real question is, should you mourn as someone with a real hope that the deceased is with God, or should you mourn without hope, knowing that the deceased will be separated from God forever in judgment?
How Do You Give Tribute to Fit the King of Pop?
To the countless number of people all over the globe who can say that Michael sang the sound track to their lives, today they and the world were reminded of Michael Jackson’s unparalleled genius as a performers. One of my earliest childhood memories, is trying to imitate the Jackson 5 with my sisters and a couple of neighborhood friends. But try as we might, we failed like everyone else to reproduce the magic that was Michael. After childhood success a decade later, the world still danced to his music with “Don’t Stop to You Get Enough,” and then watched in amazement his MTV color-line breaking “Thriller” video. Like few others and without a peer, Michael kept making himself relevant and fresh to generation after new generation of music lovers. There was “Man in the Mirror,” and “Black and White. Even celebrities seemingly stood in line to take part in his blockbuster videos, like “Remember the Time,” with Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson, and Iman. And who can forget Michael Jordan in his “Jam” video. To young and old audiences, to American and international fans spanning the globe, Michael sang the songs of their hearts and was a thriller as an entertainer. That was the genius of Michael. Michael was huge, bigger than huge. Michael really was iconic.
So today it was fitting that his peers would acknowledge that he had none. They spoke of his unmatched talent as an artist and perfection as a craftsman. Some will debate it, but Barry Gordy’s point is hard to dispute that in our age of entertainment Michael Jackson was simply better than all the rest.
What about the Haunting Questions that Won’t Go Away?
It would be both naïve and as spurious as a historical revisionist to say that talent alone made Michael Jackson a name known around the world. In death, the living need to take to heart the totality of the life of the deceased. In Michael’s life, his success as an performer only seemed to be rivaled by his unsuccess to find peace in his personal life.
Michael gave to the world his enormous talent and in return the world gave him the supposed gift of elevating him to a god-like status. Where could Michael go, what could he do without fans thronging to him as if off the stage he possessed a magic that would heal their lives. Mega-superstar fame is a curse. It is the curse of being known by millions of people who don’t know you but assume that you can fill the place in their hearts reserved for God and God alone. The goddess of beauty, Marilyn Monroe, the king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis, and now the king of pop, all in some ways died trying to carry the weight of deity. How else do we explain the profound loneliness of a man known by everyone? How do we account for the morbid sadness in one who had everything, but not what mattered most—security, love, peace, and happiness? How do we reconcile the tragic irony that while Michael entertained the world, he languished in agony? How do we ignore the tormented soul behind the many faces of Michael Jackson?
Now that the king of pop has died, and the memorial has ended, will the haunting questions die with Him? Do we ignore the upcoming toxicology and coroner’s reports? Even if a fair minded person accepts Michael's reported child-like innocence, a recantation years after a settlement, and an acquitting verdict, should we give no thought to propriety of a grown man sleeping in the same bed with little boys? Should no one really care to know what really went wrong?
Can We Put Michael Jackson in Heaven?
As in the case of the death of every loved one, the living have a powerful desire to vindicate their lives. We seem to think if we can focus on the good they have done, that will erase the bad. But in death, God does all the judging, and He overlooks nothing (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
So where does this leave the king of pop? I am not shocked that people who do not trust in Jesus alone (that Jesus’ death for our sins and His victorious resurrection granted Him all authority to pardon those who believe in Him and to leave everyone else in their sins to be condemned) speak of doing good things as the way to get to heaven. But I am always stunned to hear professing believers hedge, and comprise on this, the most essential truth in all of Christianity, that God saves sinners as a gift of His mercy who trust alone in His Son Jesus Christ the Lord. So when the question is asked, did Michael Jackson go to heaven, the only answer a true Christian can give is what the Bible says, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him,” John 3:36. The question then is not if Michael Jackson did enough good things to get into heaven. Because the answer to that is that no one has. That’s not to ignore the fact that Michael did a lot of good things. But it is to acknowledge that like everyone else, Michael has done a lot of bad things, because no one lived a sinless life except Jesus. The issue upon which Michael’s eternal destiny and everyone’s eternal destiny depends is if a person ever turned in a loyal committed relationship to Jesus Christ based on faith alone. The answer to that question and that question alone, according to the Bible, tells where a person will spend eternity. And while I am not all knowing, I know Michael once claimed to be a Jehovah's Witness, and I've read reports that he converted later to Islam. In both of these religions your good works in part determine if you go to heaven. So therefore, I know of nothing in Michael Jackson’s life that indicated that he trusted in Jesus alone for his salvation. And therefore Jesus' haunting warning in Michael Jackson's case is applicable, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"
What Do We Take to Heart from Michael Jackson’s Memorial?
For all who witnessed Michael’s memorial, it would be wise to heed the exhortation from the wisest man to ever live, to really consider our own death and where we will spend eternity, because no amount of eulogizing can change our eternal destiny once we have died. So it is my earnest prayer, for the Jackson family, friends, and fans, that in their grief they would seek comfort for their souls in Christ alone. Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live even if He dies. Do you believe this?”
I pray that despite the confusing eclectic and ecumenical religious injections into Michael Jackson's memorial service, some will be lead to acknowledge that Jesus does love sinners, but especially those who trust in Him alone. And I pray that they will seek Him and through faith in Him alone, find in Him His promise to save is true. And I pray that all Christians who know this will openly affirm that it is true—Jesus alone saves, those who alone trust in Him.
May God, who does all things right, be glorified.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
The Untold Stories of African-Americans in Our War for Independence
This year my wife read to my children a book titled Come All You Brave Soldiers: Blacks in the Revolutionary War written by Clinton Cox, “author of several highly-acclaimed books for young readers, including three on fascinating yet little-known aspects of African American military history.” In Come All You Brave Soldiers, Cox recounts the untold real stories of the vital role African American soldiers played in our War for Independence. Cox is clear and captivating, but not at the expense of facts. He is very much the scholar when it comes to educating his readers.
But writing history the way history happens is a hard assignment. Because as history really happens, our heroes don’t always pose just right for the camera. And we do prefer to romance our history, if only just a little. Cox didn’t and that’s what I found so riveting about his rendition of the war that set us free. With little dispute, the war for our independence is a bright day in American history. But we all know that we’ve picked up a fairy tale when we read that the sun always shines and never casts a dark shadow. And America, as great as it is, is not Camelot or Atlantis. But I digress.
Whose Independence was the War of Independence for?
In the real battle for our independence, it became very clear, that even if we won, everyone wasn’t going to be free. Here’s the painful irony of the War for Independence—African Americans were fighting for the land we helped make prosperous. We were fighting for our new home. But so long as we fought on the side of the colonists, we were helping to liberate the very ones who would make sure that we remained captives. So the War for Independence in real history wasn’t a war for independence for everybody. It was just a war for Independence if you weren’t black or brown.
So as An African-American Father, What do I Tell my Kids about Independence Day?
There are Noble Reasons to Sacrifice Your Liberty
I will tell my children that there are noble causes that are bigger than them. I will try to inspire them with the legacy of their brave forefathers who fought, died, and were re-enslaved, sacrificing all so that one day in America their children, or grandchildren, or great-great grand children would be free. So in the end, their slogan was “give me slavery and give me death so that my children’s children won’t have to endure this.” I will tell my children that the sacrifice of those brave men turned the tide in an otherwise almost unwinnable war, and as a result of their great sacrifice, America became free and has become the greatest nation on the face of the earth. I will tell my children that a heavy price was paid for their freedom, a cost paid bravely by their forefathers.
I will tell my children to respect men like George Washington, but not to idealize any man because we all have grave shorting-comings, and that none of us, even on our best days, are what we should hope to be. I will tell them this so that they will be gracious and not embittered about their past. I will tell them to enjoy the sun that shines in our country but to look for a brighter day, a day when the Son will reign over a truly free land where the brilliance of His glory will cast no shadows. I will tell them that they should thank God they live in America, but I will pray that they will live as foreigners longing for a citizenship in a better land—in Beulah land
- a glorious place that exceeds the imagination of any fairy tale you could dream of (1 Cor 2:9)
- a place where all who trust Jesus will be free, because He died as a slave in place of sinners on a tree (Phil 2:5-11).
I will tell them to enjoy the fireworks because their forefathers fought in that great war too. I will also tell them a few other truths that most Americans have long since forgotten. I will particularly tell my kids those truths from history because I pray they will never forget the sacrifices that their forefathers made to make America free. I will tell them so that they will, as bravely as their forefathers fought, remind America not to forget on the 4th of July to celebrate their brave forefathers too.