Ancient Boundaries: SPIRITUAL LIBERTY

stone

The wise Proverb writer through the inspiration of the Lord stated “Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set” (22:28).  He states it again in 23:10, “Do not move the ancient boundary…” During ancient times, land boundaries were often separated by nothing more than a stone or some other item that could be seen and determined as a dictator as to when one individual’s land stopped and another’s began.  Personal land as well as whole countries would be separated by just a memorial that might be elaborate or rather simple. You start thinking of the implications of this rather simple way of keeping track of your land and some might cringe.  What would stop someone from simply picking up the stone and moving it a foot or two?  The unethical individual might easily add a good deal of land to his parcel without drawing notice to himself at all.  You think how one might try one day to just kick the stone a few inches, only to get braver throughout the years and move the stone several yards.  The proverb writer explicitly condemns any sort of unethical behavior in moving that which was already set in place.

This condemnation still applies to us today.  No, we may not be concerned with the size of a parcel of land, and we may not have the ability to broaden our borders by simply moving a stone, yet we still have the temptation to move what has been set in place for centuries.  The first Ancient Boundary that we will discuss is that of Spiritual Liberties.  The church is full of good intentioned individuals that have a mind to help fellow Christians be the best Christians they can be.  These individuals will write, teach, preach, and counsel others in many areas of their Christian walk (personal, family, etc.).  This is needed and is very beneficial.  The problem arises when our counsel moves into areas that are not legislated in the Scriptures and we hold those areas as doctrine.  For example, areas such as home/public education, youth groups, dating and Santa Clause are argued a good deal in the church.  Some have argued their position to the point that they annihilate anyone who would have a different view.

As we look through the New Testament, we see many principles that will be helpful in examining this.  Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 both speak on our liberties.  Paul writes on how some may partake in the eating of meats and in the observing of days.  Romans 14:5 says: “Each person must be convinced in his own mind”.  Jesus also condemned a group of Jews called the Pharisees on many occasions who had the custom of adding to the Law.  They were a legalistic bunch who prided themselves in being more righteous than the rest, all the while adding laws that people must obey (even when the Lord had not legislated the law).  Just by doing a rather quick study on the passages from Paul and condemnation of the Pharisees, we can gather that we must not hold laws above the heads of our fellow Christians that are not found in the Scriptures.

The main area I would like to touch on is that of homeschooling.  For those of you who know me, I am very pro home education.  I was homeschooled throughout my childhood and my wife and I have decided to do the same with our children.  When I was young, my family ran into the problem of fellow Christians moving that ancient boundary of Spiritual Liberty by condemning my folks for homeschooling us.  However, in today’s world Christians have become more accepting of the practice.  I fear now that on occasion the roles have been switched and the homeschoolers are now the ones who sometimes move the ancient boundary of Spiritual Liberty.  It saddens me to see Christian families condemn others because they have chosen to educate their children through the public or private school systems.  When one uses their mouth or their computer to spread gossip, or to say that one is sending their kids to hell by sending them away from the home for education, they are indeed moving the ancient boundary of Spiritual Liberty.

Do not read me wrong; I am in no way saying that one may not promote an item such as home education.  If you are around me long enough, you will probably hear from my mouth benefits of home schooling.  One of these days, I will more than likely write an article or two on why we homeschool our kids, or why I love homeschooling my kids.  If I know a young family that is considering homeschooling their children, I absolutely will encourage them to homeschool.  Yet, I as well as other home educators must be sure that we do not condemn those that decide on a different route.  I have known many Christians that have had success in raising their children in a Christian way, and they did it in a different manner than what my wife and I have decided to do.

Brethren, if the Lord has not legislated on it, we have no right to force it.  Let us keep the Ancient Boundary of Spiritual Liberty in place where the Lord has set it.

Advertisements

Parenting Lessons from a Flea Market Bible

A few years back, a dear member of my congregation came to me with a gift.  It was a Bible that she had found at the local flea market and purchased for $1.  At first glance, it appeared to be just an ordinary Bible, but after looking into it more, it is far from ordinary.

This 1941 Dickson New Analytical Bible is actually one that is somewhat rare.  As a matter of fact, it can go for as much as $400 depending on the condition.  Yet, there was something far more valuable hidden in this flea market Bible rather than just a good price tag.  For inside the cover of this Bible is a lesson that is far more valuable than money.  As you open the front cover of the binding, you will immediately find a three-page hand written letter from a mother and father to their son. I would like for you to read the letter and see if you come away with the same thoughts as I have:

Dear Son,

On this your fortieth birthday our gift is this new analytical Bible to help as you study and try to learn more thoroughly what the word of God teaches.  Please read it frequently and prayerfully.

It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are finding, its histories are true, and its discussions are unchangeable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrims staff, the pilots compass, the soldiers sword, and the Christian’s charter.  Here paradise is restored, heaven is opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good the design, and the glory of God its end.  It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment and will be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will condemn all who strife with its sacred contents.

As the years go by may you continue to “grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” so that you can teach more ably by wise and full knowledge and by the spiritual conduct or your daily life.

May all your birthdays be as happy as this one,

Lovingly

Mother & Daddy

This beautiful letter from parents to son lays out the beauty and purpose of the written word.  You can tell by reading the inscription that this gift meant something to the parents, it was a passion.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says: “These words which I am commanding you today, shall be on your hearts. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up”.

The lesson I believe every parent should take from this is found in the age of the recipient, and the condition of the Bible.  Did you notice that this Bible and inscription was given to their son on his 40th birthday?  Not that a Bible is ever a bad gift to give, but the explanation of the Bible would indicate that this 40 year old man had never given much thought and consideration to the Bible before this time.  Could it be that these parents had not done their job in teaching their son about all that the Bible has commanded us at a young age?  Could it be that trying to start sharing this with him at the age of 40 was entirely to late?  As for the condition of the Bible, it is MINT! It barely looks like the pages have been turned.  And to top it all off, my dear friend found it at a Flea Market for $1.

The purpose of this article is not to judge.  I have no idea who these people are, and how they raised their child.  It could be that the parents had not even known the Lord themselves while they were raising their children, and now that the children are out of the house; they finally came to the knowledge and obedience of the Lord.  If it is true that they never taught him at a young age, then they are to be commended for going ahead and teaching him even at an older age. Unfortunately, it would appear by looking at the clues left for us that he did not take this gift to heart.  It would appear that he never touched this magnificent gift.  I cannot help but think that those of us who are parents need to take note.

How are we raising our kids?  Are we raising our kids in a manner in which they know full well how important the Bible is to us?  Or are we raising our kids in a way in which we are going to have to beg them to just crack open the book when they are 40?

What am I doing right now that will encourage my children to read for themselves the written word?  Am I reading for myself on a daily bases?  Am I reading the word to them on a daily bases?  Am I following the commands that God’s has given me through the word?  Am I practicing what I preach?

These parents loved their child and desperately wanted him to know and love the Lord as they did.  Let us take this to heart.  Let us start today, take a lesson from a Flea Market Bible and do not let another day get past you without sharing with your kids your love for the word!

Parental Responsibility: Given Away?

When I think of my two children, I cannot even begin to comprehend or explain the awe I have for what God has done for me!  Why has God blessed me this way?  Why has He given my wife and I the ability to raise these wonderful kids and watch them grow and mature?  I know this is the way that all parents feel about their children; it is a sense of awe and pride.

Yet we know that having our children is not just a blessing, it is a great responsibility.  The Lord explicitly commands me as a father to teach my children about the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He explicitly commands me to train up my children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  We know from reading the Bible, that being a parent is more than just fun and games, it is a God given responsibility…

But are we giving it away? 

Now, it is not my intention to throw parents under the bus in this post, I believe that parents truly wants what’s best for their children.  Similarly, it is not my intention to throw youth ministers under the bus either; they too want what’s best for the kids.

Many of my friends who I attended Bear Valley with are Youth Ministers, and I know many parents that send their kids to Youth Groups.  All of these individuals have the children’s best interests in mind.  There is no doubt in my mind that they love God and love the souls of these kids greatly.

However, these intentions do not negate facts of life.  The fact of the matter is that children are leaving the church in hoards.  Depending on the statistics that you look at, numbers as high as 85% of our children are leaving the church by the time they go to college!

Numbers this high or anywhere near this height should scare us greatly. “What are we doing wrong?” should be a question that is screaming in our ears! Despite the great intentions and the hard work that is going into these kids, something is failing.

If we think about all the effort put towards the children in the church today, many projects come to mind: mission trips, movie nights, game nights, devotionals, hiking trips, summer camps, rallies, service projects, and the list goes on and on.  We put more money and time into our youth activities, than we do with most of our projects.

Psalm 127:1 says: “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…”

Could it be possible that we are building, building, building, but not building in the way the Lord wants us to build?  Could it be possible that when we are building our Youth Ministries, we are forgetting about our God given responsibility of parenting?

As stated above, the Lord has explicitly commanded us as parents to teach our children about the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  Tie that to Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,” and what do you get?  Instructions for parents to raise and teach their children.  Isn’t this what we are doing by putting our kids in a youth group?  Unfortunately, I do not think so.

My observation has been that we in the church do everything but have the parents teach their children.  With all of the activities listed above, we are pulling the family apart, rather than bringing them together.  This is where our “building” is in the wrong, and this is where we are giving up our parental responsibility.

When we decide to give over the teaching and the edifying of our children to a youth minister, is this not giving up a responsibility?  When we send them off to multiple functions a week, are we not giving up much needed family time?  When your child wants to hang out with the youth minister and his family more than with you, is there not something wrong?  When your child will ask advice from the youth minister but not from you, are we not allowing someone else to be the parent?  We are losing kids by the bucket loads and parents are not parenting, I believe that there is a correlation.

In the very last verse of the Old Testament (Malachi 4:6), we see that in order to avoid a “curse” the hearts of the children must be restored to their fathers, and vise versa.  We must ask ourselves if our efforts are restoring the family, or driving a wedge?

I mentioned above that I know MANY Youth Ministers.  If you are one, please do not take this as an attack on you or even your job.  I am not calling for the firing of Youth Ministers in the Brotherhood.  What I am calling for is for the parents to get more involved.  Get to know their kids more, teach more, and take their responsibilities seriously!  I am calling for the Youth Ministers in our churches to strengthen the families.  You can do this by promoting more family events rather than exclusively youth events, teach the parents how to parent, and never be a wedge between the two parties.

So the question is, are you giving up your responsibility?  Are you one that is participating in helping parents giving up in this as well?  I pray that each congregation reevaluates how they are training up their children, and makes the appropriate changes.

The souls of our children are at risk. So let us do what we can to save them. Let us not give away our responsibility!

Parental Responsibility: Taken Away?

When I think of my two children, I cannot even begin to comprehend or explain the awe I have for what God has done for me!  Why has God blessed me this way?  Why has He given my wife and I the ability to raise these wonderful kids and watch them grow and mature?  I know this is the way that all parents feel about their children; it is a sense of awe and pride.

Yet we know that having our children is not just a blessing, it is a great responsibility.  The Lord explicitly commands me as a father to teach my children about the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  He explicitly commands me to train up my children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6).  We know from reading the Bible that being a parent is more than just fun and games, it is a God given responsibility…

Yet some are trying to take it away

There are those that do not want you to partake in these God given responsibilities.  And there are those who are doing everything in their power to ensure that your parental responsibility is taken away from you.  No, this is not a conspiracy theory, this is fact.

For those who have never heard of it, I would like to introduce you to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).  CRC is a United Nations Treaty that is sweeping the world at mega speed.  The advertised purpose of this treaty is to “Protect” the child.  Unfortunately, it fails at protection yet succeeds in many other areas.

What does this treaty do?

  • Parents cannot make their young children go to church. The parents can only “encourage them.” If little Suzy wanted to sleep in, instead of going to morning worship, you could not stop her.
  • The government would have the ability to override every decisions that the parents have made.  You want to Homeschool your kid or send him to a Christian school? The government may decide that this is not the best option for your son.
  • The child would have a legal right to “leisure.” If little Johnny did not want to take out the trash or make his bed, he would not have to.
  • Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC. Do you want to be the one that teaches your kids about the birds and the bees?  Tough luck.
  • Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children. Do you want to be able to follow Proverbs 23:13-14 and discipline your child the way the Lord told you to? Well, that would be considered abuse.

They say it is to protect, but in reality it is to take control of our children and not allow us to raise them in the way that we have been commanded by the Lord.

Consider a few facts.  Every single nation in the world has signed this treaty except for two, Somalia and the United States.  Would it not appear that our country is under a bit of pressure to sign this treaty?  Would it not appear that it would be in the best interest of the politicians in office to buy into this treaty so as not to look even more like a sore thumb to the world?  Of course it would.

Also consider that in order to pass a U.N. Treaty, the Senate has to accept it with a 2/3 majority.  Essentially, we need 34 Senators to vote NO if this were to come up for a vote.  As of right now, we have 37.  Yes, that is enough to stop the treaty for a time, yet it is not enough for us to feel too secure.  All that needs to happen is for 2012 to be a bad election year and lose a measly 4 of those Senators.

What can I do about it?

The obvious answer to this is pray that our nation never accepts this treaty.  Ask God to help our leaders make the right decisions about this matter.  And ask the Lord for more men and women to be put into office that will uphold the rights of the family.  Philippians 4:6 says: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The Lord allows us to come to Him with our petitions and concerns, lets use this avenue!

Yet, there is another action that we can take.  We should support an amendment to the constitution that would uphold and protect the parent’s rights.  If there were such an amendment, then a treaty such as CRC would never legally be accepted here in the United States.

That is where the Parental Rights Amendment comes in.  Several individuals such as Michael Farris (Founder of HSLDA) and Jim DeMint (Senator from South Carolina) have drafted together an amendment that would protect the rights of the parents.

The Proposed Amendment is as follows:

SECTION 1

 The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

SECTION 2

 Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

SECTION 3

No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

This amendment would ensure that we as parents will have the right to raise and protect our children. It is indeed very important for future generations that this amendment is accepted.

This is not just something that will happen overnight. It will take work and time.  In order to add an amendment to the Constitution, many events have to take place. The amendment has to make it through a committee, has to have 2/3 majority in the Senate and the House, then must have approval by 3/4 of the states!  It is a daunting task that is before us, yet it is one that with prayer and hard work can be done!

So get involved!  Spread the word about CRC and the Parental Rights Amendment.  Sign the petition to get this amendment going.  Write and call your elected officials and tell them your concerns over CRC and your desire for a Parental Rights Amendment.

For more information go to parentalrights.org

Here is a video promoting the Parental Rights Amendment as well: