The second issue I will merely mention and be extremely brief on. It has to do with parental rights and responsibility over their child’s lives. Two instances that have occurred in California are now on the radar screen of many Americans, even the two men running for the office of President.
The first has to do with whether or not a parent should be notified prior to a minor proceeds with having an abortion. This will be “Proposition 4” on the ballot in California and if enough people vote against this proposition, a minor will be able to go to the doctor and have an abortion without telling her parents, but not allowed to have a simple vaccination shot prior to notifying her parents (if I am understanding this correctly).
The second has to do with whether or not the government has the right to control parents on whether or not they choose to home school their child. Earlier this year in March, an appeals court in California ruled that parents without proper credentials could not homeschool their child.
Here is how The San Francisco Chronicle introduced the story (from Al Mohler's web-site):
"A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution."
From The Los Angeles Times (from Al Mohler's web-site):
"Parents who lack teaching credentials cannot educate their children at home, according to a state appellate court ruling that is sending waves of fear through California's home schooling families. Advocates for the families vowed to appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. Enforcement until then appears unlikely, but if the ruling stands, home-schooling supporters say California will have the most regressive law in the nation. "This decision is a direct hit against every home schooler in California," said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which represents the Sunland Christian School, which specializes in religious home schooling. "If the state Supreme Court does not reverse this . . . there will be nothing to prevent home-school witch hunts from being implemented in every corner of the state of California."
So, in California, it is becoming a matter of state law not to allow parents to educate their children the way they choose or desire. Please hear me now. I bring this up not to make a case for or against home schooling. That is not the purpose of my bringing this up. I bring these two cases up because I am concerned of the government having way too much control over parents in how they raise their children. If it starts with issues of abortion and home schooling now, who knows how far down the line in the future the government can have control over parents.
On this issue, of allowing parents the right to choose how and where their child is educated, the two primary candidates running for President are again divided.
John McCain supports government vouchers being granted that allow parents to educate and place their children in the school of their choice.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, opposes government vouchers being granted that allow for parents to decide how their children are educated.
This is according to American Family Association’s Voter’s Guide.
I simply mention…
The 5th commandment (Exodus 20:12)
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25
All are texts that remind us that God has ordained and arranged the family and society as operating in such a way that parents are responsible for the upbringing and direction of their children. It is the God-given duty and right and joy and privilege and responsibility of the parents to bring their children up. The ultimate aim, of course, is that they grow in the grace and knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Posted by Bro. Matt at 3:06 PM
Due to the nature of the service tonight (10/26/08), I chose not to preach what I had originally planned. Below is a synopsis of one of the issues (gambling, lottery, etc.) I planned to address from a biblical perspective. In the following post, I will present the second issue (parental rights over their child's education) I had planned to address...
On the Ballot in Arkansas on November 4th…
“Proposed Constitutional Amendment No. 3”
(Abbreviated Description) A constitutional amendment authorizing the General Assembly to establish, operate, and regulate state lotteries to fund scholarships and grants for Arkansas citizens enrolled in certified two-year and four-year colleges and universities in Arkansas.
A “FOR” Vote…
…would amend the state constitution to all the creation of state lotteries to fund college scholarships and grants.
An “AGAINST” Vote…
…would not allow an amendment to the state constitution. Arkansas will not implement state lotteries.
*Information taken from http://ppc.uaex.edu/
How would God vote on this amendment to the state constitution (and, hence, how would He want His people to vote?)?
6 Biblical Themes/Truths Prompting an "Against" vote from God's People:
1. Jesus and the Rich in Luke’s Gospel…
Luke 12:13-21 – “Rich Fool”
Luke 16:19-31 – “Rich Man and Lazarus”
Luke 18:18-30 – “Rich Young Ruler”
Luke 19:1-10 – “Zaccheus”
2. Paul urged believers to have an ethic of work in order to get so that you might give.
Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
3. The Christian life is one of “becoming poor” so that others might “become rich.”
Luke 9:58 says, “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head.”
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich.”
4. Jesus and Paul both spoke strongly against wanting to become rich.
1 Timothy 6:6-10
5. Godly wisdom discourages oppressing the poor and encourages hard work.
Proverbs 6:6; 13:4, 11; 14:21, 31; 19:17; 21:25; 22:16
6. Jesus does not need ‘Lottery Money’ to build His church.
Al Mohler said, “The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview related in God’s Word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed—a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture—always presented as a sin against God, and often accompanied by a graphic warning of the destruction which is greed’s result. The burning desire for earthly riches leads to frustration and spiritual death.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 2:55 PM
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Continued from 10/24/08...
"Thomas’s father had never missed one of his son’s games. Moreover, it was his father who taught him how to throw a curve ball, how to put his body in front of a grounder, and how to turn a double play. In fact, Thomas’s father was the coach of his first T-ball team. However, when I asked whether or not he led his son (and his family) in worship, his only response was, “I never even thought about it.”
In other words, this man had spent countless hours and immeasurable amounts of energy teaching his son how to be a ballplayer but hadn’t done a thing to teach him how to be a Christian. When I pressed him on this issue, he said, “I thought the youth pastor was doing a good job of that.” The point here is so obvious that I hesitate to state it. When it came to baseball, he had coaches and leagues, but he was the one providing private instruction in the backyard. However, when it came to spiritual matters, he passed the buck.
When it came to game time, he was not willing to miss (and wore that fact as a badge or honor), but when it came to church, they thought nothing of being absent for weeks and at one point months at a time. This family was worshiping a rival, and their son’s life was the fruit of their idolatry. There were certain things for which they were willing to sacrifice all. Unfortunately, their son’s walk with the Lord was not one of those things. Is there any wonder that a young man in his situation would miss church? Is there any doubt that a young man in Thomas’s situation would be hard-pressed to find the courage to resist having a few drinks with the guys on the squad?
Sadly, this story is very familiar to those of us who have been around the church for a while. In fact, many of us see ourselves as we read between the lines. We live in an age where many gods vie for our allegiance. What’s worse, these gods try to convince us that if we bow down and worship them, they will give our children what the God of the Bible cannot give—success by worldly standards."
Parents: May God help us to raise godly boys and godly girls who love the Lord God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength!
Posted by Bro. Matt at 10:15 AM
Friday, October 24, 2008
Continued from 10/23/08...
"Upon hearing Thomas’s story, I tried to console this grieving father as best I could. He cried for a while and then asked me a question that I don’t think he wanted answered. “Where could I have gone wrong?” he asked as he shook his head in disgust. Over the next several days he and I unpacked the situation and dealt with some very tough issues. I am not suggesting that this case is cut-and-dry, but we did find some very familiar patterns.
First, Thomas’s lack of commitment in spiritual matters was not as strange as it seemed. As I talked with his father, I learned that Thomas was more than just a naturally gifted ballplayer. This kid had been playing baseball since he was six and started taking private instruction at nine! He had been part of a traveling squad at age twelve and was an all-star at every level. This man and his wife had gone to great lengths to see to it that their son became the best baseball player he could be.
This also meant that during the summer and fall their church attendance was sporadic at best. Like many parents, they found themselves traveling to tournament after tournament and praying for the opportunity to be out on Sunday since that meant they were playing for a title somewhere. What they didn’t realize is that they were teaching Thomas to prioritize baseball above the Fourth Commandment. They were teaching Thomas that he should honor the Sabbath and keep it holy unless it’s baseball season.
Thus when Thomas went to college and had to choose between going to church and hanging out with his teammates, the foundation for his decision had already been laid. When he had to choose between extra time in chemistry lab and extra time in the batting cage, he knew intuitively which choice to make. And when he had a choice between sitting on the bench for the first time in his life or taking a shortcut to a bigger body and a faster bat, he struggled for a while but eventually made his decision based on the one thing that had directed his path since he was six years old.
In other words, Thomas’s lack of commitment to spiritual matters laid the groundwork for his moral compromise. Christianity was never the center of Thomas’s universe. It was always something on the periphery. Church, and more importantly Jesus Christ, always orbited around baseball, the bright, shining star at the center of his universe. Does this mean that every young ballplayer will experience moral compromise? Certainly not; nor am I arguing that we should abolish all sports. I am simply arguing that anything that causes us to compromise our beliefs can (and probably will) become an idol. Some people will only worship that idol halfheartedly, but some will sacrifice all on its altar."
Part III Continued Tomorrow...
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:23 PM
Thursday, October 23, 2008
However, when he went off to college, things changed. His parents had heard of the dangers of “secular” schools, so they guided him toward a Christian university. He was an outstanding athlete and had won a baseball scholarship. Thomas’s story was not just typical—it was exceptional. He had done all of the things Christian parents desire for their children—good grades, great friends, active in church, popular, and off to college on an athletic scholarship. So why was his father grieving?
As it turns out, there was a darker side of Thomas’s life. Things were lurking beneath the surface that his mom, dad, youth pastor, and Sunday school teacher never saw. Once he was away at “All-American Christian University,” this darker side began to surface.
First, Thomas stopped attending church. He occasionally attended the large weekly Bible study on campus or the area-wide college service hosted by a large church in town, but he was not plugged into a local body of believers. Moreover, there was no sense of personal holiness, no pursuit of Christian disciplines.
Next Thomas began to struggle a bit in class. He had always been an A/B student, but now he was struggling just to pass his midterms in some of his classes. Upon closer examination of his academic struggles, they found that Thomas was staying out late and drinking heavily and often missed classes.
Finally, Thomas was suspended from his baseball team when a random drug test revealed that he had taken anabolic steroids. The father was so distraught that he did not allow Thomas to return for his second year. He opted instead to place him in a local community college until the young man could “get his head on straight.”
Posted by Bro. Matt at 9:53 AM
While preparing for the message this Sunday morning (October 26th), I came across this quote from John Piper in his book What Jesus Demands from the World:
The Lord’s Prayer shows us the astonishing nature of prayer. It puts in the position of greatest importance the prayer for God’s name to be glorified, God’s kingdom to advance and triumph, and God’s will to be accomplished on earth the way it’s happening in heaven. This means that God intends to use human prayers to accomplish His most ultimate and universal purposes. For example, Jesus tells us to pray for the workers that will be required to spread the gospel to all the nations. ‘Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.’ Yet nothing is more certain than that the kingdom of God will triumph. Jesus said, ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’ (Matthew 16:18; 24:14). There is no uncertainty about the triumph of God. Nevertheless, in God’s providence it depends on human prayer.
This implies that prayer is not only the duty of man but a gift of God. Jesus will awaken in his people the spirit of prayer that asks for everything it will take to accomplish God’s purposes in the world. The prayers of Jesus’ followers and the purposes of God will not fail (p. 112).
Brothers and sisters in the Lord: Let us pray....
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:42 AM
Monday, October 20, 2008
In his book What Is A Healthy Church Member (we just finished it as a staff!), Thabiti M. Anyabwile offers some helpful instruction and questions to ask when studying your Bible. In his chapter entitled "A Biblical Theologian," he says...
Adopt the New Testament's Attitude Toward the Old Testament
...the Bible is one story about God's redeeming for Himself a special people. When studying the New Testament, train yourself to link what you learn there to the Old Testament. Ask questions like these:
- How is this passage a fulfillment of something promised in the Old Testament?
- How is this New Testament idea different from or similar to an Old Testament teaching?
- In what way does this New Testament passage clarify, unveil, or amplify something from the Old Testament?
Asking these questions will help to underscore the unity and diversity of the Bible and its message. An excellent book to study with these questions in mind is the book of Hebrews. Study Hebrews and be amazed at the supremacy of Jesus Christ demonstrated in the Old Testament.
Study the Old Testament with Jesus and the New Testament in View
As you read and study the Old Testament, ask yourself how it fits together with the revelation of the New Testament. For example, ask:
- Where does this passage fit in the time line of redemptive history?
- How does this passage point us to Jesus?
- How does this truth about Israel relate to the New Testament idea of the church?
- How is this passage foundational for an understanding of New Testament Christianity? How is this idea or teaching in the Old Testament continuous or discontinuous with the New Testament?
- Which New Testament passages help me to answer these questions?
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:45 PM
Below I post two books/links for anyone interested in wonderful Bible study helps.
G. K. Beale and D.A. Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament
is a wonderful resource for finding out how New Testament authors used the Old Testament in their writings. It makes the entire Bible and the plan of God come alive!
You can purchase it directly from Amazon.com by clicking here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:27 PM
Below are yet some more links and information I have come across regarding the issues I have discussed from the pulpit the last two Sunday nights.
Whether you read and/or listen to items linked here, more than anything I urge you to pray for God's will to be done on November 4th and for Him to show you how you can best be salt and light now and in the days ahead for His name's sake.
Article (Blog) posted by Al Mohler on the Homosexual Debate: Part I and Part II.
Al Mohler's Radio Program (Friday's edition) regarding the Homosexual Debate. For those of you who may listen to this, pay attention especially to how Dr. Mohler handles the comments and questions asked by callers to the show. His responses are very helpful for Christians in how to best respond to wrong thinking on this issue. Also, though I am not completely sure, I have a pretty good feeling his radio program (which airs Monday-Friday) will be focusing alot on the election over the next two weeks, so you will want to be sure to tune in.
Barack Obama's Position (from his web-site) on the Issues: Abortion and Homosexuality
John McCain's Position (from his web-site) on the Issues: Abortion and Homosexuality
An insightful and intriguing message by Dr. Russell Moore regarding the issue of Abortion.
Click here and then scroll down to the message delivered by Moore on Oct. 16, 2008.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:02 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Read James 3 from your Bible and then click here to watch a video illustrating the passage...
Very insightful and very convicting.
For recent conference messages on the Power of Words (from Desiring God Ministries), click here. Great stuff! Excuse me...God stuff!
Posted by Bro. Matt at 1:50 PM
For those of you who attended WBC on Sunday night, you know I started a series of messages entitled: "The President, Issues, and Global Impact 2008." I plan to focus on several pertinent issues that directly affect how a follower of Christ should vote in the upcoming election. The first message dealt with the issue of abortion. The title of the message was: "Sanctity of Human Life, Abortion, Stem Cells, and God." You can listen or watch the message on-line by going here.
This week I have come across several good on-line articles, discussions, and radio broadcasts on this issue. For those who are interested, I encourage you strongly to link on some of the sites listed below and continue to develop a Christian worldview on the issues and be able to discuss these issues intellegently with others.
Blog article by Al Mohler entitled: "The Abortion Question and the Future"
Al Mohler radio broadcast entitled: "Pro-Lifers for Obama?"
Robert George's article entitled: "Obama's Abortion Extremism"
Justin Taylor's summary of Robert George's article: Click here (very helpful summary!)
An article for those who are tired of talking about the issue, read this article called "Fetus Fatigue."
Justin Taylor quoting John Piper on fasting for the unborn: Click here.
For those of you who were not here on Sunday night and did not receive the voter's guide I passed out, you can go there directly on-line by clicking here.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 12:53 PM
Monday, October 6, 2008
Last night during the message, I referenced several things that I think might help those who were there and/or those who want to think further about Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.
First, after I talked about and tried to explain the meaning behind the three requests Paul mentioned in verse 11, I asked 5 questions to help us ponder and apply the requests to our own hearts and lives. Here are the questions:
1. When was the last time I prayed like this (if ever) for myself, my family, my church, and my friends?
2. Have I ever resolved to do good in preparation for Christ's return?
3. What am I currenly doing that requires faith and is dependent upon the power of God to be fulfilled?
4. Do I truly long to be found worthy of God's calling when Christ returns?
5. If all I do throughout eternity is 'marvel' at Christ, is that okay with me?
Second, I read to you some of Jonathan Edwards' Resolutions. He made 70 (that we know of). They are remarkable and challenging. You can read all 70 of them by clicking here. I encourage you to ponder them. Make a list of your own. Then ask the Lord Jesus to "fulfill every resolve for good." I think He wants to answer a prayer like that...especially if your "resolves" are to prepare you best for His return!
Third, I mentioned that I got help in this series from a book written by D.A. Carson. For those of you who are perhaps interested in studying further on the prayers of Paul in the Epistles, I would strongly encourage you to purchase the book for yourself. It is a wonderful resource and D.A. Carson is one of the finest biblical scholars I am aware of. You can purchase the book on Amazon by clicking here.
One point of application that I failed to mention last night was to challenge WBC to write/type out all of the prayers we have covered during this series and use them to pray for the body. For instance, it would be good to have each of the prayers on a notecard and change the notecard out every week or so while using it as a prayer guide with your prayer list. It will keep our prayers from being mundane and it will help us know for sure we are praying in the will of God. I truly believe that if we begin fervently praying the way the Spirit of God inspired Paul to pray for the churches he started/pastored, we will see God do some fascinating things in and around our lives.
Posted by Bro. Matt at 8:07 AM