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Category Archives: Parenting

Charles Spurgeon Writes to a Child

Late in life & very unwell, Spurgeon models for us true pastoral care as he sits down to write to a child. More than that, he models for us the type of gospel love and pleading all Christian parents and pastors ought to have for the children in the care.

Written on July 1, 1890, Spurgeon was said to have been sick, tired and very busy. His hand “was swollen and probably painful as he held the pen.” (Dallimore, p 225)

My Dear Arthur Layzell,

I was a little while ago at a meeting for prayer where a large number of ministers were gathered together. The subject of prayer was “our children.” It soon brought tears to my eyes to hear those good fathers pleading with God for their sons and daughters. As they went on entreating the Lord to save their families my heart seemed ready to burst with strong desire that it might even so. Then I thought, I will write to those sons and daughters, to remind of their parents’ prayers.

Dear Arthur, you are highly privileged in having parents who pray for you. Your name is known in the courts of heaven. Your case has been laid before the throne of God.

Do you not pray for yourself? If you do not do so, why not? If other people value your soul, can it be right for you to neglect it? See, the entreaties and wrestlings of your father will not save you if you never seek the Lord yourself. You know this.

You do not intend to cause grief to dear mother and father: but you do. So long as you are not saved, they can never rest. However, obedient and sweet and kind you may be, they will never feel happy about you until you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and so find everlasting salvation.

Think of this. Remember how much you have already sinned, and none can wash you but Jesus. When you grow up you may become very sinful, and no one can change your nature and make you holy but but the Lord Jesus, through His Spirit.

You need what father and mother seek for you and you need it NOW. Why not seek it at once? I heard a father pray, “Lord, save our children, and save them young.” It is never too soon to be safe; never too soon to be happy; never too soon to be holy. Jesus loves to receive the very young ones.

You cannot save yourself, but the great Lord Jesus can save you. Ask him to do it. “He that asketh receiveth.” Then trust in Jesus to save you. he can do it, for he died and rose again that whosoever believeth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life.

Come and tell Jesus you have sinned; seek forgiveness; trust in Him for it, and be sure that you are saved.

Then imitate our Lord. Be at home what Jesus was at Nazareth. Yours will be a happy home, and your dear father and mother will feel that the dearest wish of their hearts has been granted them.

I pray you think of heaven and hell, for in one of those places you will live forever. Meet me in heaven. Meet me at once at the mercy-seat. Run upstairs and pray to the great Father, through Jesus Christ.

Yours very lovingly, C.H. Spurgeon. (Dallimore, p 224,25)

 

Pondering Proverbs as a Parent – 10 Years Later

This Sunday, we begin a new series at Rolleston Baptist Church through Proverbs.

Proverbs Series

I love the book of Proverbs.

Nearly 10 years ago, I spent a month blogging through the book of Proverbs, one chapter per day. I called my simple blog series, “Pondering Proverbs as a Parent“.We were still living in the States at the time. My children were 1, 2, & 4!

Our lives have changed dramatically in the years since. Yet the timeless truths of God’s Word never change.

These blog posts are rough & unedited. I share them here as they may still prove helpful to some family.

You can download a PDF of the whole series – Chapters 1-30, Diagram for Chapter 31, Chapter 31.

 

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

I will be presenting a couple of seminars as part of two of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Conferences in the coming weeks – 21/03 in Auckland, 28/03 in Christchurch.

One of the seminars I will present twice on each Saturday. Once for the parents and again for teens.

Here is an outline of this particular seminar…

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

  1. What is a Worldview?

Your worldview is your general theory of the universe. It’s comprised of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, the world, and God. Your worldview answers fundamental questions about yourself–

*What am I?
*How can I be truly happy?
*What’s morally right and wrong?

—and about the world:

*Why does anything exist?
*Why does anything happen at all?

*How do I know anything?

*How do I know what is real and true?

Everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation.

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 17.

“A worldview is a way one views the whole world. A worldview is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense out of the data of life and the world. A worldview is like a set of colored glasses. If one looks at the same object through green colored glasses he will see it as green, while another looking at the same object through red glasses will see it as red.”

Norman L. Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 11.

“A worldview is not the same thing as a formal philosophy; otherwise, it would be only for professional philosophers. Even ordinary people have a set of convictions about how reality functions and how they should live. Because we are made in God’s image, we all seek to make sense of life. Some convictions are conscious, while others are unconscious, but together they form a more or less consistent picture of reality.”

Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004), 23 

Everyone Has a Religious Worldview

In an important sense, all worldviews – even atheistic ones – are religious. Herman Bavinck says that, “The denial of the existence of God includes, in the same moment, the elevation of the creature into the place of God”[1]. In other words, everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation. If these claims seem exaggerated, consider a contemporary example.

In the opening chapter of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins notes that “A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists” who do not believe in a supernatural being. Dawkins writes that his awe of the universe is so similar to religious awe that some people have called him “A Very Religious Non-Believer”. Dawkins virtually concedes then that he and many fellow atheists have subjective responses which very nearly approximate worship; the main difference lying only in the worship of the creation rather than God, the Creator.

Corrupt worldviews are based on false gods, and humans adopt false gods because of their sinful resistance to the true and living God. In Romans 1:18-32 Paul argues that all human beings know God but at the same time don’t know God because they suppress the truth that they know, and that they do this by worshipping the creation in place of the Creator. They exchange the truth about God for a lie. Because everyone knows the true God deep inside, they cannot help but be religious, even if they claim to be agnostics or atheists. But because humankind is corrupted, religion always defaults to take the form of worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Fallen people are on the one hand idolatrous (Rom. 1:18-32), and at the same time altogether godless (Ps. 14/Rom. 3:9-18).

  1. What is a Christian (or Biblical) Worldview?

“A biblical worldview is a worldview that is shaped and tested, formed and reformed by the Bible. More specifically, a biblical worldview would be a fundamental perspective on life that is based upon the ‘pillar points’ (as I like to call them) of creation, the fall, and redemption. The story of creation is told in Genesis 1-2 and answers such important questions as where are we, who are we, and why are we here? Genesis 3 tells the story of the fall of humanity into sin and addresses the issue of what has gone wrong with the world and how we should account for the tragic human condition. The rest of the Bible from Genesis 3:15 all the way to Revelation 22 presents the narrative of redemption, which informs us about the divinely provided remedy to sin and the tragic human condition. God promises redemption in the Old Testament, and He fulfills His promises in Christ in the New Testament. This redemption that Christ has accomplished is both ‘already; present but is ‘not yet’ fully complete. When Christ returns, He will consummate His redemptive task and usher in the new heavens and earth.”

(David Naugle, author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) in an interview with T.M. Moore, editor of Findings, in October 2003.)

Paul says that the idolatry of mankind has created futile thinking and darkened foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21). If this is true, then the gospel is the only hope for the restoration and renovation of all human thought. It is only possible to come to truly know God through Jesus Christ, which will result in a complete transformation of your mind and worldview.

The Bible makes the radical assertion that it is necessary to know and fear God before arriving at any true conclusions about yourself and the world. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10). God himself provides the answer to all key worldview questions—

*What am I? An image-bearer of God, Gen. 1:26-27.
*How can I be truly happy? By knowing God, John 17:3.
*What’s morally right and wrong? What God commands—loving him and loving your neighbour.
*Why does anything exist? God willed to create it out of nothing, Gen. 1:1.
*Why does anything happen at all? God has predestined it to happen and brings it to pass by his providential power.

“God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). In this light, we see everything else differently—we see everything else truly—for the first time.

  1. The Limbs of A Biblical Christian Worldview

Theology: Affirmation of the existence of an intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God. This same God took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ and died for our sins. Thus, in addition to being theistic, Christianity is Christus Nexus, Christ at the centre. “Christianity is Christ. The person and work of Christ are the rock upon which the Christian religion is built. If he is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he had come to do, the foundation is undermined and the whole superstructure will collapse. Take Christ from Christianity and you disembowel it; there is practically nothing left. Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.” (John Stott, Basic Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 21. (Gen. 1:1; Colossians 2:9)

Philosophy: The single most important philosophical truth in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the Logos of God. Christian philosophy, especially metaphysics, is grounded in John 1:1-4. Christ the Logos is the explanation for the universe and all things therein. (John 1:1-4, Col. 1:17, Rev. 19:13)

Sociology: Both the individual and the social order are important to God, mankind and society. Christ died and rose again for each person as an individual; God ordained social institutions to teach love, respect, discipline, work, and community. God ordained certain social institutions. Family, church, and state are three of the most important. (Gen. 4:1; Luke 1:30-31; Is. 9:6)

Law: Christian or Divine Law consists of both natural and Biblical law originating in the very character of a righteous and loving God. Divine law is eternal, and will be used one day to judge the world in a judgment based on natural and revealed law. God established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep in check man’s sinful nature (Romans 2:12ff; 13:1-4). Human rights involves the Biblical doctrine of man’s creation in the image of God. (Gen. 3:11; 49:10; Rev. 5:5)

Ethics: God’s moral nature is absolute, eternal and unchanging. God created the world with a specific moral order revealed to man via both general (natural law) and special revelation (Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ). Ethical standards transcend the relativistic whims of society. (Gen. 2:9; John 1:9; John 3:19,20) 

Biology: Christianity trusts the Genesis model of creation above and beyond the theories of modern science. However, Christianity is not anti-science, requiring only that science begin from a Christian theistic presupposition. Science and Christianity are compatible in that the universe when properly studied reflects that God created all things. (Gen. 1-3; John 1:4; John 11:25; Col. 1:16)

Psychology: Only Christianity, with its emphasis on the spiritual and its understanding of man’s fallen nature can truly address the innermost concerns of the individual. Humans may truly get in touch with themselves by realizing their own sinfulness and consequential status before God, as well as the grace of God which removes all sin and guilt. Self-esteem is realistic only as it follows a true statement of who we are with and without Christ. (Luke 1:46-47; I Thess. 5:23; Titus 2:13)

History: The Christian worldview, unlike many other religious (especially transcendental) worldviews, is firmly rooted in historical events such as the events of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of the historical person Jesus Christ. The Bible is an historically accurate book, describing events that actually occurred and are continually being vindicated via archaeology and other historical proofs. (I Cor. 15; John 1:14; Gal 4:4)

  1. Biblical Christian Worldview Presuppositions

GOD (theology): Does God exist? What is his nature? Is he personal or impersonal? One or many? 

REALITY (metaphysics): What is the universe? Who or what created it? Is the universe an open or closed system (Closed: Matter is all there is and nothing from “outside” the universe intervenes, e.g. God. Open: “outside” forces such as God interfere with the natural order)? What is its purpose?

KNOWLEDGE (epistemology): How do we know something/anything? Can we trust our senses? How far will reason take us? Is there such a thing as revealed truth? Can we know something for certain? Is knowledge different from faith?

MAN (anthropology): What is man? Is man basically good or basically bad? Are we free, or the pawns of deterministic forces? Are we only bodies or bodies and spirits? What happens at death? Are there are rewards and/or punishments after death?

  • The “…isms” we face
  1. Islam
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Secular Humanism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Marxism-Leninism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Cosmic Humanism/New Age
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Post-Modernism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. “Practical” Materialism
    • What I have/own defines who I am.
    • “Lust of the eyes”
  1. Consumerism
    • The freedom to chose what I want based on my personal desires and preferences from a variety of options is the greatest good.
    • “Lust of the flesh”
  1. Narcissism
    • Narcissismis the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from the Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
    • “Pride of Life”

Bibliography

Bahnsen, Greg L., and Robert R. Booth. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1996.

Berkhof, Louis, Cornelius Van Til, and Dennis E. Johnson. Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers. Christian perspectives. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1989.

Bertrand, J. Mark. Rethinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007.

Breese, Dave. Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.

Carson, D. A. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2008.

Carson, D. A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1996.

Clapp, Rodney. A Peculiar People: The Church As Culture in a Post-Christian Society. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Clark, Kelly James, Richard Lints, and James K. A. Smith. 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox, 2004.

Colson, Charles W., and Ellen Santilli Vaughn. Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages. Ann Arbor, Mich: Vine Books, 1989.

Colson, Charles W., and Nancy Pearcey. How Now Shall We Live? Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999.

Cowan, Steven B., and William Lane Craig. Five Views on Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000.

Craig, William Lane, and Paul M. Gould. The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar: Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007.

Dembski, William A., and Jay Wesley Richards. Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Dockery, David S. Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society Through Christian Higher Education. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman, 2007.

Feinberg, John S., Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics for a Brave New World, 3nd edition. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2010.

Geisler, Norman L., Francis Beckwith, William Lane Craig, and James Porter Moreland. To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview : Essays in Honor of Norman L. Geisler. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

González, Justo L. Essential Theological Terms. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.

Hoffecker, W. Andrew. Revolutions in Worldview: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 2007.

Keller, Timothy J. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters. New York: Dutton, 2009.

Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008.

Kohoutek, Henry J. Invitation to Biblical Christianity for the Well-Educated. Raleigh, N.C.: Pentland Press, 2001.

Koop, C. Everett, and Francis A. Schaeffer. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1983.

LaHaye, Tim F. The Battle for the Mind. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1980.

LaHaye, Tim F., and David A. Noebel. Mind Siege: The Battle for Truth in the New Millennium. Nashville, TN: Word Pub, 2000.

Lennox, John C. God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? Oxford: Lion, 2010.

Lennox, John. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Oxford: Lion, 2009.

Lewis, C. S. God in the Dock ; Essays on Theology and Ethics. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

The Great Divorce. New York: Macmillan Co, 1946.

Mere Christianity; A Revised and Enlarged Edition, with a New Introduction of the Three Books, The Case for Christianity, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality. New York: Macmillan, 1952.

Miracles; A Preliminary Study. New York: Macmillan Co, 1947.

The Screwtape Letters: With Screwtape Proposes a Toast. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001.

MacArthur, John, Nathan Busenitz, Scott Lang, and Phillip R. Johnson. Fool’s Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2005.

MacArthur, John, Richard Mayhue, and John A. Hughes. Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2003.

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Morris, Henry M. The Long War against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1989.

Mouw, Richard J. He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace : the 2000 Stob Lectures. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2001.

Noebel, David A. Understanding the Times: The Religious Worldviews of Our Day and the Search for Truth. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 1994.

­

The Battle for Truth. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 2001.

Pearcey, Nancy. Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Publishing, 2010.

Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Crossway Books, 2008.

Poythress, Vern S. God Centered Biblical Interpretation. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 1999.

Poythress, Vern S. Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976.

Poythress, Vern S. Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2006.

Poythress, Vern S. Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2011.

Poythress, Vern S. Science and Hermeneutics: Implications of Scientific Method for Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich: Academie Books, 1988.

Robertson, David. The Dawkins Letters. Christian Focus, 2010.

Ryken, Philip Graham. He Speaks to Me Everywhere: Meditations on Christianity and Culture. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub, 2004.

My Father’s World: Meditations on Christianity and Culture. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2002.

What Is the Christian Worldview? Basics of the Reformed faith. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2006.

Schaeffer, Francis A. 2 Contents, 2 Realities. Downers Grove, Ill: Intervarsity Press, 1975.

Art and the Bible. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2006.

Back to Freedom and Dignity. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1981.

A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of Spirituality. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of the Bible As Truth. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of the Church. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of the West. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

The Church at the End of the 20th Century. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970.

The Church Before the Watching World; A Practical Ecclesiology. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Vol.1, , A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1994.

Death in the City. Chicago: Inter-varsity Press, 1969.

Escape from Reason. London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1968.

, and James Montgomery Boice. The Foundation of Biblical Authority. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.

The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: The Three Essential Books in One Volume. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1990.

Genesis in Space and Time; The Flow of Biblical History. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

The God Who Is There; Speaking Historic Christianity into the Twentieth Century. Chicago: Inter-varsity Press, 1968.

The Great Evangelical Disaster. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1984.

He Is There and He Is Not Silent. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1972.

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co, 1976.

Introduction to Francis Schaeffer; Study Guide to a Trilogy: The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Plus “How I Came to Write My Books “. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1974.

Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1975.

, and Lane T. Dennis. Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1985.

The Mark of the Christian. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970.

The New Super-Spirituality. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

No Final Conflict: The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter Varsity Press, 1975.

, Udo Middelmann, Lynn White, and Richard L. Means. Pollution and the Death of Man / Francis A. Schaeffer [and Udo Middelmann]. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1992.

The Practice of Truth: Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer Discusses One of the Central Problems of Evangelism in the 20th Century. Bangalore, India: Thomas Samuel, 1967.

True Spirituality. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1971.

, and C. Everett Koop. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co, 1979.

, Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovskiĭ, and James Hitchcock. Who Is for Peace? Nashville: Nelson, 1983.

Sherman, Richard B., and Francis A. Schaeffer. Reclaiming the World: Conversations with Francis A. Schaeffer. Los Gatos, Calif: Schaeffer, 1982.

Thomas, Derek. What Is Providence? Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2008.

Walsh, Brian J., and J. Richard Middleton. The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1984.

Young, Frances M. Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Online Resources

Summit Ministries – http://www.summit.org (particularly http://www.summit.org/resources/worldview-chart/)

Stand to Reason – http://www.str.org

Monergism-Directory – http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Worldviews

Worldview Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/young-adults-home-group-at-howick-baptist-church/

Ethics Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/im-a-christian-i-live-in-the-real-world-thinking-through-ethics/

 

Qumran Caves/Dead Sea Scrolls

In the past couple of weeks, my children have been learning about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Here are a few websites which are very informative and which others may find interesting/helpful.

Qumran Caves (BiblePlaces.com)

The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

‏Qumran Caves (The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library)

 

Don’t Focus on NCFIC’s View of Reformed Rap and Miss Their Poor Theology and Practice

Update with links to explanations and apologies regarding NCFIC & Rap:

I am sure most have watched the video of a panel discussion recently posted online by NCFIC. If you have, or even if not, you might find this summary post on the whole “Holy Hip Hop Squabble”, helpful:

A Round-Up of the Holy Hip Hop Squabble

I am writing this from a very different perspective. One that is of great concern.

Here is what I recently posted on a FB comment thread:

” I wrote a three part series in 2005 which were published & later put on my blog. They are still some of the most read items on my blog. Since then many others have raised similar concerns regarding NCFIC’s theology & practice. Yet these warnings have been mostly ignored. Now all of a sudden they say some stupid things about ‘Reformed Rap’ & everyone flips out. I find this troubling. Are we most significantly concerned about doctrine or our music preferences? Again, everything that was said on the video of the panel is nonsense. Of course it is, it came from NCFIC. But there are far greater concerns with them than their silly, ignorant opinions on rap! Sorry to rant… I think I’ll blog this.”

Here’s my concern…

There have been several people since 2005 who have tried to draw attention to serious errors in both the theology and practice of NCFIC (and other related ministries), but they have been largely ignored. Yet, what cannot be ignored is their opinions on rap!? Is sound doctrine on the family, ecclesiology, ect. not important? Are we really only meant to step up to the keyboard and fight over a group’s view of a genre of music while for years we have ignored other theological errors.

Here are some historical links:

In 2006, after receiving a phone call from a Vision Forum representative and not subsequently removing my blog posts from the Internet I received a signed letter from their board indicating their plan to take me to court for slander and justifying their right to do this as Christians because they had concluded that I was not a Christian and therefore they would not be in violation of Biblical principles.

In September 2006, I moved to New Zealand with my family. They have never followed through on this preposterous threat.

Tonight (14 March 2014) I received a letter from Scott Brown with NCFIC asking for a copy of the letter I mention above. He was on the board of Vision forum in 2006 and he has no recollection of this letter being sent to me.

I have looked everywhere on my computer for the above letter (it would have been six years ago) and although I have found two other letters from the “Vision Forum Research Team” I am unable to locate the above mentioned letter.

Therefore I am willing to conclude that my memory of the above is incorrect and therefore my statement above was wrong. I ask those whom I implicated in the above to forgive me for making such a statement without verifying my memory. That was unwise and has resulted in me publishing an accusation that now seems to be invalid. For this I am grieved.

If you don’t think there is a connection between Vision Forum (http://www.visionforum.com/) and NCIFC then see these:

If you are not familiar with the latest controversy surrounding Doug Phillips and Vision Forum see these posts:

For further theological critiques of NCFIC and related ministries see these:

A helpful collection from 2009-2011

From 2013

Conclusion:

NCFIC has released an apology for one of the more ridiculous statements made on the video here. I will leave it to others to say whether this apology is really gets to the point. I think they still don’t get it.

Yet, their view of rap isn’t my greatest concern.

For years this group has been characterised by legalism, an unbiblical view of the role of husband/father, a unbiblical view of the church, an unbiblical practice of church life and condemning of those who differ from them.

For years these errors have been pointed out by many from several different denominations and all online.

For years these theological critiques have been generally ignored, with some (Voddie Baucham and Joel Beeke being prime examples) even continuing to minister among them despite being personally entreated not to.

Why? Why have the above admonitions not been taken seriously? Why hasn’t this group been more widely and strongly condemned for their doctrinal errors?

Why do we only now see a huge Internet fire storm when these guys say a bunch of silly things about rap?

I am not sure why. However, I am sure these other errors in doctrine and practice are far more dangerous and damaging than their view on rap!

 

Our Family’s Advent/Christmas/Holiday Reading

Here’s my post from last year giving a bit of a description of our annual Advent Reading.

This year we will likely have our two oldest read sections from Keeping Holiday rather than me doing all the reading! (A new phase of family life as the children are growing up!)

 
 

Brief Thoughts on Disney’s “Planes”

No, my main aim isn’t to moan about the fact that I fell for the campaign which led me to believe this was a Pixar movie when, in fact, it was not! (Oddly, I am relieved to know it wasn’t as my immediate thoughts after the movie were, “it just did not measure up to the quality of story, etc. that we’ve come to expect from Pixar”).

No, my main aim is to encourage Christian parents to think carefully about the worldview taught in this film. It teaches a very dangerous & subtle anti-God worldview.

The main character states near the beginning of the film (and everyone else repeats this at the end) that he wants to “be something more than he was created for”. This of course makes for a fun story of a crop-duster doing the impossible and becoming a flying speed champion.

But hold on a minute. This isn’t just a fun movie; the makers of the movie are communicating a worldview. A worldview where one can rebel against one’s creator and all goes well.

So, if you were created to be a boy but want to be something else go for it, “be more than you were created for.”

My main problem isn’t in me, it is either “out there somewhere” or in how I was made, so if I can change, alter or fix that all will be well.

No, my main problem is in me. I was created “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. There is nothing greater than that for me and the only thing keeping me from this is my sin. The only remedy for this is to turn from my sin and turn to Christ for forgiveness and mercy. He will then give me all I need to find my satisfaction in Him and truly be all God has created me to be.

 

The Fleeners and family worship (interview)

Recently, I answered some questions for William Chong’s blog regarding the practice of “family worship” in our home. This is part of a very helpful series he is doing, which I highly recommend.

You can find my contribution here.

 

Fear with Faith – Mr. Fearing from Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

This evening we were reading the next portion of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (Part 2, Trials in the Valley of Humiliation).

I was particularly struck & encouraged by the account of Fearing. How though he feared, he feared the right things, and persevered in faith through his fears.

Here’s the full account…

Now, as they walked along together, the guide asked the old gentleman if he did not know one Mr. Fearing, that came on pilgrimage out of his parts.

Mr. Honest: Yes, very well, said he. He was a man that had the root of the matter in him; but he was one of the most troublesome pilgrims that ever I met with in all my days.

Mr. Great-Heart: I perceive you knew him, for you have given a very right character of him.

Mr. Honest: Knew him! I was a great companion of his; I was with him most an end; when he first began to think upon what would come upon us hereafter, I was with him.

Mr. Great-Heart: I was his guide from my Master’s house to the gates of the Celestial City.

Mr. Honest: Then you knew him to be a troublesome one.

Mr. Great-Heart: I did so; but I could very well bear it; for men of my calling are oftentimes intrusted with the conduct of such as he was.

Mr. Honest: Well then, pray let us hear a little of him, and how he managed himself under your conduct.

Mr. Great-Heart: Why, he was always afraid that he should come short of whither he had a desire to go. Every thing frightened him that he heard any body speak of, if it had but the least appearance of opposition in it. I heard that he lay roaring at the Slough of Despond for above a month together; nor durst he, for all he saw several go over before him, venture, though they many of them offered to lend him their hands. He would not go back again, neither. The Celestial City-he said he should die if he came not to it; and yet he was dejected at every difficulty, and stumbled at every straw that any body cast in his way. Well, after he had lain at the Slough of Despond a great while, as I have told you, one sunshiny morning, I do not know how, he ventured, and so got over; but when he was over, he would scarce believe it. He had, I think, a Slough of Despond in his mind, a slough that he carried every where with him, or else he could never have been as he was. So he came up to the gate, you know what I mean, that stands at the head of this way, and there also he stood a good while before he would venture to knock. When the gate was opened, he would give back, and give place to others, and say that he was not worthy. For, all he got before some to the gate, yet many of them went in before him. There the poor man would stand shaking and shrinking; I dare say it would have pitied one’s heart to have seen him. Nor would he go back again. At last he took the hammer that hanged on the gate, in his hand, and gave a small rap or two; then one opened to him, but he shrunk back as before. He that opened stepped out after him, and said, Thou trembling one, what wantest thou? With that he fell down to the ground. He that spoke to him wondered to see him so faint, so he said to him, Peace be to thee; up, for I have set open the door to thee; come in, for thou art blessed. With that he got up, and went in trembling; and when he was in, he was ashamed to show his face. Well, after he had been entertained there a while, as you know how the manner is, he was bid go on his way, and also told the way he should take. So he went on till he came out to our house; but as he behaved himself at the gate, so he did at my Master the Interpreter’s door. He lay there about in the cold a good while, before he would adventure to call; yet he would not go back: and the nights were long and cold then. Nay, he had a note of necessity in his bosom to my master to receive him, and grant him the comfort of his house, and also to allow him a stout and valiant conductor, because he was himself so chicken-hearted a man; and yet for all that he was afraid to call at the door. So he lay up and down thereabouts, till, poor man, he was almost starved; yea, so great was his dejection, that though he saw several others for knocking get in, yet he was afraid to venture. At last, I think I looked out of the window, and perceiving a man to be up and down about the door, I went out to him, and asked what he was: but, poor man, the water stood in his eyes; so I perceived what he wanted. I went therefore in, and told it in the house, and we showed the thing to our Lord: so he sent me out again, to entreat him to come in; but I dare say, I had hard work to do it. At last he came in; and I will say that for my Lord, he carried it wonderful lovingly to him. There were but a few good bits at the table, but some of it was laid upon his trencher. Then he presented the note; and my Lord looked thereon, and said his desire should be granted. So when he had been there a good while, he seemed to get some heart, and to be a little more comfortable. For my Master, you must know, is one of very tender bowels, especially to them that are afraid; wherefore he carried it so towards him as might tend most to his encouragement. Well, when he had had a sight of the things of the place, and was ready to take his journey to go to the city, my Lord, as he did to Christian before, gave him a bottle of spirits, and some comfortable things to eat. Thus we set forward, and I went before him; but the man was but of few words, only he would sigh aloud.

When we were come to where the three fellows were hanged, he said that he doubted that that would be his end also. Only he seemed glad when he saw the cross and the sepulchre. There I confess he desired to stay a little to look; and he seemed for a while after to be a little cheery. When he came to the Hill Difficulty, he made no stick at that, nor did he much fear the lions: for you must know, that his troubles were not about such things as these; his fear was about his acceptance at last.

I got him in at the house Beautiful, I think, before he was willing. Also, when he was in, I brought him acquainted with the damsels of the place; but he was ashamed to make himself much in company. He desired much to be alone; yet he always loved good talk, and often would get behind the screen to hear it. He also loved much to see ancient things, and to be pondering them in his mind. He told me afterward, that he loved to be in those two houses from which he came last, to wit, at the gate, and that of the Interpreter, but that he durst not be so bold as to ask.

When we went also from the house Beautiful, down the hill, into the Valley of Humiliation, he went down as well as ever I saw a man in my life; for he cared not how mean he was, so he might be happy at last. Yea, I think there was a kind of sympathy betwixt that Valley and him; for I never saw him better in all his pilgrimage than he was in that Valley.

Here he would lie down, embrace the ground, and kiss the very flowers that grew in this valley. Lam. 3:27-29. He would now be up every morning by break of day, tracing and walking to and fro in the valley.

But when he was come to the entrance of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I thought I should have lost my man: not for that he had any inclination to go back; that he always abhorred; but he was ready to die for fear. Oh, the hobgoblins will have me! the hobgoblins will have me! cried he; and I could not beat him out of it. He made such a noise, and such an outcry here, that had they but heard him, it was enough to encourage them to come and fall upon us.

But this I took very great notice of, that this valley was as quiet when we went through it, as ever I knew it before or since. I suppose those enemies here had now a special check from our Lord, and a command not to meddle until Mr. Fearing had passed over it.

It would be too tedious to tell you of all; we will therefore only mention a passage or two more. When he was come to Vanity Fair, I thought he would have fought with all the men in the fair. I feared there we should have been both knocked on the head, so hot was he against their fooleries. Upon the Enchanted Ground he was very wakeful. But when he was come at the river where was no bridge, there again he was in a heavy case. Now, now, he said, he should be drowned forever, and so never see that face with comfort that he had come so many miles to behold.

And here also I took notice of what was very remarkable: the water of that river was lower at this time than ever I saw it in all my life; so he went over at last, not much above wetshod. When he was going up to the gate, I began to take leave of him, and to wish him a good reception above. So he said, I shall, I shall. Then parted we asunder, and I saw him no more.

Mr. Honest: Then it seems he was well at last?

Mr. Great-Heart: Yes, yes, I never had doubt about him. He was a man of a choice spirit, only he was always kept very low, and that made his life so burdensome to himself, and so troublesome to others. Psa. 88. He was, above many, tender of sin: he was so afraid of doing injuries to others, that he often would deny himself of that which was lawful, because he would not offend. Rom. 14:21; 1 Cor. 8:13.

Mr. Honest: But what should be the reason that such a good man should be all his days so much in the dark?

Mr. Great-Heart: There are two sorts of reasons for it. One is, the wise God will have it so: some must pipe, and some must weep. Matt. 11:16. Now Mr. Fearing was one that played upon the bass. He and his fellows sound the sackbut, whose notes are more doleful than the notes of other music are: though indeed, some say, the bass is the ground of music. And for my part, I care not at all for that profession which begins not in heaviness of mind. The first string that the musician usually touches is the bass, when he intends to put all in tune. God also plays upon this string first, when he sets the soul in tune for himself. Only there was the imperfection of Mr. Fearing; he could play upon no other music but this till towards his latter end.

[I make bold to talk thus metaphorically for the ripening of the wits of young readers, and because, in the book of Revelation, the saved are compared to a company of musicians, that play upon their trumpets and harps, and sing their songs before the throne.Rev. 5:8; 14:2,3.]

Mr. Honest: He was a very zealous man, as one may see by the relation you have given of him. Difficulties, lions, or Vanity Fair, he feared not at all; it was only sin, death, and hell, that were to him a terror, because he had some doubts about his interest in that celestial country.

Mr. Great-Heart: You say right; those were the things that were his troublers; and they, as you have well observed, arose from the weakness of his mind thereabout, not from weakness of spirit as to the practical part of a pilgrim’s life. I dare believe that, as the proverb is, he could have bit a firebrand, had it stood in his way; but the things with which he was oppressed, no man ever yet could shake off with ease.

Christiana: Then said Christiana, This relation of Mr. Fearing has done me good; I thought nobody had been like me. But I see there was some semblance betwixt this good man and me: only we differed in two things. His troubles were so great that they broke out; but mine I kept within. His also lay so hard upon him, they made him that he could not knock at the houses provided for entertainment; but my trouble was always such as made me knock the louder.

Mercy: If I might also speak my heart, I must say that something of him has also dwelt in me. For I have ever been more afraid of the lake, and the loss of a place in paradise, than I have been of the loss other things. O, thought I, may I have the happiness to have a habitation there! ‘Tis enough, though I part with all the world to win it.

Matthew: Then said Matthew, Fear was one thing that made me think that I was far from having that within me which accompanies salvation. But if it was so with such a good man as he, why may it not also go well with me?

James: No fears no grace, said James. Though there is not always grace where there is the fear of hell, yet, to be sure, there is no grace where there is no fear of God.

Mr. Great-Heart: Well said, James; thou hast hit the mark. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom; and to be sure, they that want the beginning have neither middle nor end. But we will here conclude our discourse of Mr. Fearing, after we have sent after him this farewell.

“Well, Master Fearing, thou didst fear
Thy God, and wast afraid
Of doing any thing, while here,
That would have thee betrayed.
And didst thou fear the lake and pit?
Would others do so too!
For, as for them that want thy wit,
They do themselves undo.”

 
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Posted by on 29/08/2013 in Books, Family, Gospel, Parenting

 

Happy Birthday Mekaela – 2013

IMG_1776Is it even possible that another year as gone by and my little girl is now 12?

I am responsible for planning an annual conference at our church and this year the dates landed the day of her birthday which has meant my being more distracted than I prefer today. This is the first time in her 12 years we haven’t been able to just “enjoy” birthday stuff. 🙂

Yet, we are enjoying the day and she is very excited about the conference and thinks it’s pretty cool that it is on her birthday.

This girl has been and continues to be a great joy to our family.

I know she’s my daughter and I lack any musical ability. However, I think she is one of the most talented young musicians I have known. She continues to advance well in piano, violin (having played this year with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and the New Zealand Opera Company), and bassoon (participating in the Auckland Philharmonic Music Camp last January for both violin and bassoon).

Yet, far more important to her music ability is her growth in humility, sensitivity to the things of the Lord, and her keen desire to learn more of Christ.

I pray even this next year she will gain a deeper knowledge of the Gospel and firmer commitment to Christ. I pray she will grow in discernment and discretion as she becomes more aware of what it means to move from being a little girl to a young lady.

Proverbs 11:22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.

Related Posts:

Happy Birthday Mekaela (2012)

 
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Posted by on 16/08/2013 in Family, Fun, Parenting

 
 
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