The Problem with Pecuniary Parenting

September 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In a previous lesson I critiqued the style of parenting in which parents make decisions concerning their children based on the popularity of the decisions. Getting input from our children, and listening closely to what they have to say, is certainly wise, but we recognize that our authority as parents comes from an authority higher than our children, and even higher than us.

Another parenting category may be called “monetary parents.” These parents tend to try to buy their children’s obedience, respect, or even love. The common parlance for this method is called “spoiling” your children. This is sometimes triggered by feelings left over from our own childhood that perhaps our parents were not as generous with us as we would have liked them to be. It helps to remember, as a counter to this temptation, that materialism breeds its own set of problems. Remember, your children are not an outlet for any lingering childhood resentments of your own, and you are not commanded in the Word of God (although you might be by society or pop culture) to give your children “all the things you never had.” Using bribery as a replacement for training, nurture, discipleship, and discipline is a recipe for rearing greedy, covetous kids.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:25-33

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

I Timothy 6:10

It is not wrong to give treats to our kids, and special presents from time to time, but it is wrong to rob them of the spiritual and practical disciplines of self-control and wise stewardship. Some of the poorest families I know are really the richest.

The Problem with Popular Parenting

September 26, 2016 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

Genesis 21:1-11

The birth of a child is normally an occasion of joy and celebration for married couples – young or otherwise! However, that initial celebratory period can be quickly dampened as a more comprehensive view of reality starts to take hold. The time to prepare for this, and to begin to formulate a parenting strategy, really should begin before children are born – perhaps even before they are conceived. However, for parents who did not have this foresight, it is certainly not too late, and, practically speaking, most couples who have children together end up forming their parenting style without even realizing they are doing it. In these cases, the first step is to analyze which category you have slipped or stumbled into, evaluate it based on Biblical standards, and determine if a change is needed.

One common category of parenting is what Dr. Joel R. Beeke, in his book, Parenting by God’s Promises, calls “majority parents.” Majority parents make parenting decisions – especially those involving what to allow and not allow their children to do – based on majority vote. This method seems somewhat reasonable until child number three comes along, at which point the parents are outnumbered by the kids! The bigger problem with this approach, though, is that it fails to recognize the truth of appointed authority.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Ephesians 6:1 (emphasis added)

A recognition that God has ordained parents to make parenting decisions that are unpopular with their children does not mean that children may never be allowed to participate in preferential choices. Letting the kids vote to determine whether the family will play baseball or football in the backyard is probably harmless, but parents must not present an opportunity to vote on what is “right” and “wrong” as revealed by God’s Word, or in matters where an immature choice could prove detrimental to health or well-being. As parents we not only have a God-given right to exercise authority over our children, but we have a God-given responsibility. And, since our kids are really God’s kids entrusted to our care, we won’t be giving an account on the day of judgment to our children, to our parents, to our government, to society in general, to our Sunday School teacher, or even our pastor, for the parenting decisions we made. We will be giving an account to our Lord.

Next time, we will take a look at a second parenting category.

Don’t be an Abusive, Angry, Absent, or Addicted Parent

September 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Don’t be an abusive parent. The goal of parenting is to train up disciples of Christ by trying to utterly convince the children that God has placed into our trust of His absolute supremacy, as we nurture them and teach them His Word. This lofty goal involves corporal discipline, but discipline is not punishment, and it is certainly not abuse. A parent who sinfully – whether physically or mentally – injures a child out of spite or loss of control is attacking God Himself, and this is a dangerous prospect to say the least.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Don’t be an angry parent. As Christian parents, we ourselves are the children of our Heavenly Father. He is angry with the wicked every day, but He is not angry at His Own children.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Our job is to prevent our children from feeling and practicing the sort of sinful wrath that God hates to see in His creatures.

Don’t be an absent parent.

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:26

We have to be present if our children are going to observe our ways. Too many parents spend so much time working that they rarely see their children, leaving them in the care of nurseries, daycare facilities, nannies, babysitters, and school systems. This is not God’s plan for child-rearing. Dads, especially, however, are even prone to being absent-while-present. Tuning in to a ball game on television and ignoring the kids elsewhere in the house (or right there in the room!), going hunting, fishing, golfing, remodeling old cars out in the garage, are all ways in which fathers unwind from the stress of their occupations while forgetting the important principle of being actively present in their children’s lives during crucial formative years.

Don’t be an addicted parent (unless it is an addiction to ministry that includes ministering along with your children!) Addictions to sinful activities – and addictions that are sinful not because of the object of the addiction, but because of the time, energy, money, and affection given to it – are closely akin to idolatry.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Corinthians 6:12

Our children will not be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of the true God if we worship multiple gods.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

In a pagan land like America today, the failure of Christian parents to transfer a belief in the One True God will lead to the destruction of society and to the loss of God’s blessings on His people.

The Be Quietudes

September 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Talking itself is not a sin. Christianity is a verbal religion, and the Gospel is communicated by words. “Faith cometh by hearing” (Romans 10:17). However the Bible does emphasize that we should not talk sinfully.

The “Beatitudes” are found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:3-11

The beautides describe the conditions for expeiencing blessedness, and they prescribe what some of the blessings are. Those who are blessed, according to Jesus, experience God’s favor, and are marked by the types of attitudes and actions which are pleasing in God’s sight, and bring contentment, peace, and happiness to one’s life.

For this lesson I have borrowed the name “beatitude” and applied it to the idea that there are times when it is more blessed to be quiet than to speak up: “The Bequietudes.”

1. Blessed are those who don’t gossip, for they will not make things worse.

Where no wood is, [there] the fire goeth out: so where [there is] no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Proverbs 26:20

Gossip ends when nobody is willing to repeat it – the way a fire ends when there is no fuel left to burn.

2. Blessed are those who LISTEN, for they will gain understanding.

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 20:12

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Matthew 15:10

You can’t listen while you are talking. When people are talking all at once, it causes confusion. You learn more by listening than by talking. God gave you two ears and one mouth – take the hint, and try to listen at least twice as much as you speak.

3. Blessed are those who THINK, for they shall renew their minds.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

The Gospel is intended to engage your intellect as much as your emotions. Christianity is not mysticism. Serious thinking is hindered, not enhanced, by talking.

4. Blessed are those who READ, for they shall gain knowledge.

And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Isaiah 29:12

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

II Timothy 2:15-16

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

It’s difficult to talk while you’re reading (unless you’re reading aloud!) Read the Bible. Read books about the Bible. Read other books, too, but be careful what you read. Don’t read things that do not edify.

5. Blessed are they who CONTEMPLATE, for they shall be prepared.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:31-33

Your mind is a temple. A temple is where man meets with God. Serious decisions are made during periods of silent contemplation, not audible conversation.

6. Blessed are they who MEDITATE, for they shall be glad in the Lord.

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Pslam 104:34

Meditation is deep thinking; unlike contemplation, though, it is not always thinking about a pending decision. It is where you seriously and silently consider what you have learned about God in His word. Meditation is an acquired taste that tastes better the more seriously you take it.

7. Blessed are they who DON’T BUTT IN, for they shall not look foolish.

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Proverbs 18:2

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it [is] folly and shame unto him.

Proverbs 18:13

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.

Proverbs 17:28

It is important to analyze a situation before getting involved. A person with a reputation for wisdom is more trustworthy than a person with a reputation for being a know-it-all or a busybody. People have less of a tendency to trust someone that is shooting his mouth off all the time.

7. Blessed are they whose words are few, for they shall give a better account.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:34-36

One of the best evidences of what is in your heart is what comes out of your mouth, but, just because you are thinking something, you don’t have to say it. There needs to be a probationary holding pen (filter) before the words formed in your mind are deemed fit to come out of your mouth.

Praying in Between

September 16, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Jesus told them to wait, but He also gave them a promise. Waiting on God’s promises to come to pass is not a waiting-to-see-IF; it’s a waiting-to-see-WHEN.

And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

Acts 1:4

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.

Acts 1:14

In Verse 4 they had “assembled together” physically, and now they were waiting together (“with one accord”) spiritually.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:4

During the interim period between the promise and the fulfillment, they spent their time in prayer and supplication. Why would we pray for God to bring to pass what He has already promised He will do? For one thing, God commands us to do it (Luke 18:1; I Thessalonians 5:17; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18; Jeremiah 33:3). For another thing, God often uses prayer as the means of accomplishing His will (James 5:16).

Notice also that in Acts 1:14 and Acts 2:4 that ALL of those to whom the promise was made were filled with the Holy Ghost. There were not some who were “Spirit-baptized” with some type of second-level anointing. All who were filled with the Spirit were filled with the same Spirit in the same way and at the same time.

Did the Devil Flood Livingston Parish?

September 13, 2016 at 3:30 pm | Posted in The Flood | 1 Comment
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If you are truly a Christian, then you have to have a certain level of loyalty to God. After all, He is your Father, Savior, Redeemer, and Provider. Therefore, it is somewhat natural to want to stick up for Him when others might question His actions. This can be a good thing, but it can also be problematic when our loyalty tips over into finite rationalizations. In other words, we want to give people a high opinion of our God (to “glorify” Him), but we also want to be honest. In other other words, God doesn’t need a PR agent.

We have seen this dynamic at work in the wake (pun intended) of the recent flooding in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, and the adjacent parishes. “God is all-powerful and omniscient, so how could all this devastation have happened on His watch?” we are afraid someone will ask. And the all-too-often-heard rationalization-in-advance is to blame-shift onto Satan. “God didn’t send all this rain into these too-narrow rivers, creeks, and bayous. God doesn’t ‘do evil.’ The devil did this for evil, and God will turn it around and use it for good.” It sounds helpful. It even sounds hopeful. But – and this is what really matters to God – is it true?

Does the devil control the weather? I want to be cautious here, and admit that Satan is certainly powerful. He is so much more powerful than any human being that we can not even make a proper comparison. However, he is a pipsqueak compared to God. As a created being himself, it is certain that Satan is neither omnipotent nor omniscient, and can only be said to be “omnipresent” in the limited sense that he may have demonic agents feeding him information and doing his bidding in all parts of the world. The only place to find reliable information about who can control the weather – God and Satan, or God and God alone – is the Bible.

Now, my wife made an excellent point when we discussed this. What the devil CAN do is this: He can seize upon the opportunity created by the aftermath of the flood and tempt people to become discouraged, to become bitter, to give up, to look for escape from their troubles in sinful habits and addictions, to turn away from God, to become divisive and petty, and (his specialty) to become proud – proud of their community, proud of their neighbors, proud of their church, proud of the way they themselves behaved in a crisis, and even proud to be a Christian (oxymoronic as that is!)

However, the Bible evidence is nearly incontrovertible that God is in charge of the weather – even the extreme weather events that we call catastrophes. The only possible support for the counterargument that I can find is the account of Job’s children, who were killed, as part of a challenge between God and Satan, with a “great wind” that blew their house down on top of them. However, even in that instance, the same account calls the lightning which took out the sheep and the servants the “fire of God,” so, presumably, Satan, acting under God’s permission, had to borrow some weather elements from God, or, perhaps, ask God to use them Himself.

All of which gives me the confidence to say that, no, the devil did not sneak around God’s throne, weasel himself into the royal Heavenly restroom, and break the plumbing, spilling four trillion gallons of rain right on top of southeastern Louisiana in a 24 hour period. It may not sound sentimental, and it may give ammunition to amateur skeptics and those bitter at a God too great for us to “figure out,” but, as His children, we are to rejoice over the fact that God is supremely in control of all events in, and beyond, this world, and that what He does is always right and always good, weather whether we like it or not, or weather whether we understand it or not.

For the the glory of His name, and for the good of His Son and His Son’s redeemed people, God flooded Livingston Parish, Louisiana, on the weekend of August 13-14, 2016, and He did not choose to fill us in on what the kids call “the deets.” It may be a hard truth, but it is a true truth, and for those who suffered in it and through it, we are better off facing this truth. As the old song says, “When the levee breaks, mama, you got to move.” Some folks move to Chicago, some folks move into their neighbors’ homes, and some folks move into a FEMA trailer. But all of God’s folks need to move closer to the true God of the Bible, and need to move into the lives of their neighbors who have not yet met the Savior and tell them the good news that the God of the flood will forgive you for your sins and give you eternal life when – AND ONLY WHEN – you repent, believe the Gospel, and trust His Son.

Heman and the Master of the Universe (Part One)

September 8, 2016 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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[[A Song [or] Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.]] O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:

Psalm 88:1

Heman was a musician and a Levite. He was an overseer of music (not lyrics) in the Temple. He was also a prophet, and was renowned for his wisdom.

For he [Solomon] was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.

I Kings 4:31

In Psalm 88 he was inspired to write a psalm for the sons of Korah, meaning it would be included on a regular basis as part of Temple worship. It is a song based explicitly on Heman’s life and personal experiences, but also inspired by the Holy Spirit. We get the true feelings of Heman, although the articulation of them is breathed through him by the Holy Spirit, and Heman’s feelings are grief, pain, terror, sorrow, frustration, and utter despair.

Psalm 88 is roundly considered by all its commentators to be the saddest Psalm, and perhaps the saddest chapter in the whole Bible. It is in some ways the least hopeful, the most discouraging, the least joyful. So why study it? So that we may prepare for our own coming distress or depression, or make some sense of – and glean some truths about – some period of suffering we may already be experiencing. Because, whatever your view of Heman’s reaction to his suffering, his complaining, his groaning, his self-pity, you will have to admit that he did the one thing the Lord would unquestionably have us to do if we ever find ourselves in this condition: He prayed.

I. Heman prayed openly.

O LORD God of my salvation…

Psalm 88:1

This might be the one glimmer of brightness in the whole psalm – and it comes at the beginning. Heman knew God was his Savior. Therefore, he addresses the only One Who can help, and, as he views the entire universe to be against him, he addresses his pleas and petitions to the Master of the Universe. You and I, when we find ourselves in despair or danger, must openly seek help from the only One who can truly provide it.

Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;

Psalm 88:2

Do not sit there sobbing, hoping that the Master will notice you. Address him specifically and boldly. Heman asks God to “incline” (in modern English we would probably say “recline”) His ear – to stoop down – to condescend. This may sound presumptuous, but it is an open statement of the obvious fact that, if the sovereign Lord of all creation is to deal with us, He must (and He has proven that He will) stoop down to our lowly and pitiable level.

Heman is honest about his mental condition:

For my soul is full of troubles…

Pslam 88:3

He admits that he has become consumed with his fears and has trouble focusing in his prayers.

… while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.

Psalm 88:15

How easily are we distracted in prayer? Did you know you can actually ask the Lord to help you focus in prayer as part of your prayers?

Next time, we will see that Heman also prayed obstinately.

Matthew: Jesus as King

September 6, 2016 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Matthew | Leave a comment
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Matthew the organized tax collector became Matthew the inspired historian, but in the first book of the New Testament there is still an organized structure, as the Holy Spirit inspired him to record facts, followed by a teaching on these facts, followed by a transitional phrase marked by the words, “and it came to pass.” The structure looks like this:

The Facts                   The Lesson                      The Transitional Phrase

Matthew 1-4             Matthew 5-7                     Matthew 7:28

Matthew 8-9            Matthew 9-10                    Matthew 11:1

Matthew 11-12         Matthew 13                        Matthew 13:53

Matthew 14-17        Matthew 18                        Matthew 19:1

Matthew 19-23        Matthew 24-25                  Matthew 26:1

Here are links to posts under the category on the Book of Matthew:

1. Prophecy Fulfilled in a Person (Matthew 1-2)

2. Christ’s Childhood Preparation (Matthew 2)
3. Two Kings (Matthew 2-3)
4. The Victorious Humility of the Last Adam (Matthew 3-4)
5. The Amazing Accomplishment of Fulfilled Righteousness (Matthew 3:13-15)
6. The Relief of being Blessed (Matthew 4-5)
7. The Mountain No One Can Climb Alone (Matthew 5)
8. Beware the Foreign Figurehead (Matthew 5:5)
9. Objections to the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 4) (Matthew 5:13)
10. What Can I Do for God? (Matthew 5:16, 19:30)
11. Doctor’s Orders (Matthew 5:18)
12. The Purpose, and the Misuse, of Anger (Matthew 5:21-16, 43)
13. Purity, Prayer, and Possessions (Matthew 5-6)
14. Double Vision, Divided Vision, and Darkened Vision (Matthew 6:22-23)
15. What Exactly Did Jesus Say about Being Judgmental? (Matthew 7)
16. A Show of Power for those Who Wanted More than a Show (Matthew 7-8)
17. When Pigs Fly (a.k.a. Deviled Ham) (Matthew 8:28-34)
18. The Great House Call (Matthew 9:12)
19. Jesus’s Response to Imperfect Faith (Matthew 9)
20. The Rules of War (Matthew 10)
21. Three Things to Bring to Sunday School (Matthew 10:27)
22. Jesus Christ: The Greatest Priest, Prophet, and King (Matthew 11-12)
23. When God Condones Violence (Matthew 11:12) *
24. Are You Struggling? (Matthew 11:12)
25. The Power of the King (Matthew 11:15-20)
26. Hearing What the King Says (Matthew 12-13)
27. Hearts of Stone (Matthew 13)
28. Why Parables? (Matthew 13:10)
29. Wake Up to the Word (Matthew 13:11-16)
30. Things New and Old (Matthew 13:51-52)
31. The Intercession of the King (Matthew 13-14)
32. Persistent in Prayer (Matthew 15)
33. Faith that Won’t be Ignored (Matthew 15:22-28)
34. Revealed Truth (Matthew 15-16)
35. A Glimpse of His Glory (Matthew 16-17)
36. Lest We should Offend Them (Matthew 17)
37. The Humble King (Matthew 18)
38. Who Is the Greatest? (Matthew 18:1-4)
39. Decrees on Discipline and Divorce (Matthew 18-19)
40. What Lack I Yet? (Matthew 19:20)
41. The Unwanted Peace, the Unfruitful Tree, and the Underdressed Guest (Matthew 20-22)
42. When the ExaminEE becomes the ExaminER (Matthew 22-23)
43. The Butterfly (Matthew 23:27-28)
44. The Ultimate Confession (Matthew 24-25)
45. The Least (Polite) of These (Matthew 25:42-45)
46. The King’s Trial, Execution, and Victory (Matthew 26-28)
47. Resurrection Witnesses (Matthew 28)

* most-viewed post in category

The Least (Polite) of These

August 31, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Matthew, The Flood | 2 Comments
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There is some debate about exactly to whom Jesus was referring when He emphasized the responsibility of His disciples to minister to “the least of these.” However, most Bible scholars agree that the list He gave was both specific and illustrative, counting as a summation of those who are the most helpless and neglected in worldly society.

As 21st Century Christians we are prone to romanticize the notion of “the least of these” and picture ourselves taking in a doe-eyed orphan with smudged but pudgy cheeks. Or perhaps we see ourselves caring for a kindly old grandfather, abandoned by His Gen-X children who are too busy with their own lives to benefit from his homespun wisdom and sage advice. Jesus did not, however, limit His description of the needy and the outcasts to those to whom we might find it easier – for sentimental reasons – to minister.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Matthew 25:42-45

What our family found out during the recent flooding in our parish, which affected the rich and poor alike, is that the person who comes into your home during a catastrophe, needing food, water, clothing, and shelter, may be the “the most irritating of these.”

He might be a person who makes all his phone calls on speaker-phone, yelling at the top of his lungs and broadcasting the other person’s (who has not been told he’s on speaker) personal business to everyone within earshot.

He might be a person who comes in drenched with sweat, mold, flood water, and Chinese drywall, and, declining your desperate offer of a shower, plops himself right down on your couch pillows and puts his feet up.

He might be a person who is super touchy about everyone else’s failure to appreciate his plight, while also being hypocritically hypercritical of others who are worse off than him.

He might be the person who picks skin off his feet and flicks it on your carpet.

He might be the person who stands uncomfortably close to your wife, peering over her shoulder at the pot she is stirring on the stove while pompously offering suggestions about how to cook green beans to the best green bean cooker in the known world.

He might be the person who would rather sit up til late at night in the living room, spurning the comfortable guest bed you’ve offered him, while belching loudly 56 times in a row in front of your high school aged daughters.

He might be the person who, after four days of living with your family, has still not bothered to learn a single one of their names.

He might be all of these things and more, but, as a servant of the King, it is tough to rationalize away your duty to care for “the least of these” even when the category includes those with the least manners and common courtesy.

Tim Challies: When You S.W.I.M. Downstream

August 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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… young women today are convinced that their bodies are all their own, that they can hook up with whomever they want whenever they want without emotional scars. What is tragic is that they think this is their own idea, that they are the revolutionaries. What they don’t see is that they are swimming downstream from someone else’s sewage. Like a city that pumps waste into a river and watches it disappear around the bend on its way to the next place, [Helen Gurley] Brown created moral sewage, and a whole generation — several generations — are mucking around in it, bearing all the consequences. And in some way we are all downstream from the revolutionary sinners, the ones who create new categories for sin, who create new and shocking ways to sin, and who so often eventually step back to watch us flounder in their mess.

Tim Challies, “Downstream in the Moral Sewage

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Micah 2:1

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

Psalm 36:1-4

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