Brokenness

While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages  and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you,  and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mark 14:3-9 (NIV).Read More »

Tips for Raising a Heathen Child

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:6 (NIV).

If I wasn’t a Christian how would I be raising my children as a secular parent? How would I bring them up in the ways of the world? What would be the top ten things that would guarantee my children and grandchildren would be utterly heathen? Or if a manual called The ABC’s Of Heathen Child Rearing – A Do-It-Yourself Guide, was sold in the stores, what tips would it give for raising a non-Christian child? Or if I were a secular humanist and was asked to prepare an academic paper for The University of Toronto, entitled, Secular Children Made Easy, what would I say? Well perhaps I’d say the following:

1. Remove prayer from the home.
Seeing as the great educational establishments of our time have taken the lead in removing prayer from the classroom, it’s fitting to remove prayer from the home. Never pray in front of your children. Never say a prayer at meal times. Never say a prayer with your children when you tuck them into bed. And never say a prayer when there’s a family crisis. For if your children see you turning to a higher power it might make them feel somewhat weak or inferior – as if they don’t control their own destinies.

2. Keep a Bible around that your children never see you using.
If you store a Bible on a shelf which is out of your children’s reach you can appear open minded yet preserve the Bible as a closed book. To keep your kid’s heathen, however, you must never read to them from the Bible. “Seen but not heard,” is the safest rule.

3. Plan family events on Sunday.
Let your children know that Sunday is your only day off, or the only day you get to sleep in, or the only day the family can do things together. Then, before you know it, your child will be permanently trained to think selfishly about Sunday and it will be unlikely that your child will attend church.

4. Use the words “Jesus” and “Christ” and “God” as expletives.
This will help the children think that God is angry at people and only wants to condemn them. It’s also helpful to say “hell” when you’re angry so that your child will associate it with swearing instead of discovering it’s a real place.

5. Never watch Christian broadcasting.
You can’t afford to have your children thinking there’s some sort of value attached to Christian broadcasting. It’s therefore suggested that you reprogram your TV menu so Christian stations can’t be picked up in your home. Be extra careful to monitor your child’s viewing so s/he doesn’t accidentally watch Veggie Tales or something equally as dangerous. Suggest “The Simpson’s,” or some other character-building cartoons.

6. Stay away from relatives who speak about Jesus or God.
Draw the line with Christian relatives. Tell them you’ve chosen to be a family that has neutral religious values and that means they shouldn’t talk about Jesus or God. Having explained how Christian topics are taboo, make every effort to talk on a wide range of other subjects to broaden your child’s general knowledge and appreciation of the world.

7. Separate moral instruction from Christianity.
It’s all right to tell your children the difference between right and wrong but don’t tell them God’s against stealing and killing. In other words, avoid the moral absolutes of the Bible. That way it will be easier for them to adopt a relative belief system based on situational ethics. And it will be much easier for them to be tolerant and understanding of people with alternative viewpoints and lifestyles.

8. Encourage your children to attend sports clubs or service organizations but don’t let them attend church.
Be a politically correct parent. Tell your children you believe in the separation of church and state and that means the best thing for them is to stay away from the church until they’re old enough to make decisions for themselves. After all, you don’t want to expose them to the church when they’re in their impressionable years.

9. Train your children to value material goods.
Model a good work ethic. Let your children know that the most important and responsible thing you can do is earn a living. Work weekends and overtime if necessary, but do what it takes to give your children the material things that count. For people tend to consider you a bad parent if you haven’t tried to provide the very best for your children.

10. Make sure your example doesn’t lead your child to think you might hold any narrow minded Christian values.
Don’t raise any doubts in your child’s mind. Live in such a way that your lifestyle is never questioned. Your actions and your words must be consistent. Any deviation from enlightened ways may confuse your child, initiate some unwanted questions, or even spark a rebellion against everything you stand for.
So if you want a heathen child it’s that simple. If you do these things, you can almost be guaranteed a heathen child. Yes, nearly anyone can raise a heathen child, almost without trying. But some vigilance is required. If your child continually pesters you to take him/her to church, absolutely refuse to go with him/her. Drop your child at the door if you have to, but don’t go in yourself. On no account be seen to have an interest in Christian things. Church must be perceived as something for weak people. Let your child know that intelligent adults don’t need the crutch of Christianity. For if a child goes to church the entire heathen training program could be in jeopardy. So there you have it. If you can raise your child as a heathen for the first twelve years of his/her life it can more than likely be guaranteed that you’ll achieve your goal.

BUT a final word from the Word of God:
“Jesus called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. See that you do not look down on one of these little ones …” Matthew 18:2-10.

Discipline is Everything

Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV).

In his book, “Disciplines of a Godly Man,” R. Kent Hughes says that “discipline is everything!” I believe he’s right. Countless examples prove the point:

Leonardo da Vinci on one occasion drew a thousand hands in his attempts to reach anatomical perfection in his paintings. The great violinist, Jascha Heifitz, started playing at three years of age and practiced for four hours a day until he died at seventy-five. Ernest Hemingway, although an alcoholic, was the quintessence of discipline. He would spend hours polishing a sentence or searching for the right word and rewrote the conclusion to his novel, “A Farewell to Arms,” seventeen times before he was satisfied.

We have the incandescent light today because Thomas Edison kept working at it despite a thousand failures. And then there’s Winston Churchill. Because he had a problem with a lisp, he would write everything out and practice it. In the margins of his manuscripts he even choreoraphed the pauses and pretended fumbles for the right phrase. In addition, he anticipated the cheers and standing ovations, and even practiced his facial expressions and retorts in front of the mirror. As F. E. Smith said, “Winston has spent the best years of his life writing impromptu speeches.”

Be it in the arts, commerce, sports, academics or your spiritual walk, discipline is everything. In 1 Timothy 4:7-8 Paul emphasizes the importance of discipline when he tells his prodigy, Timothy, to “train yourself to be godly” 1 Timothy 4:7.

The word “train” is an athletic term. It comes from the Greek word “gumnos,” which means “naked.” Traditionally, the Greek athletes competed without clothing. They competed naked in order to not be encumbered by clothing. Similarly, the only way to train the inner you is to shed yourself of every association, tendency, or habit that impedes godliness. To be godly we must strip away anything that impedes progress.

Training oneself to be godly begins with learning “to distinguish good from evil” Hebrews 5:14. It’s being big enough to humble oneself – to repent from sin and seek the Lord. “Therefore, since we are surrounded but such a great crowd of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1.

Will you do that? Will you take control of your body and mind and the passions that drive you? To be godly your primary commitments must be to the disciplines of prayer, purity, engagement with God’s Word, self-examination, fellowship, worship, accountability, integrity, work, and ministry.

That’s a tough call, isn’t it? But no one ever said that spiritual training would be easy. It doesn’t just happen. It takes spiritual sweat. There’s no maturity without exertion. For as Paul says, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” 1 Corinthians 9:25-27.

So run the race in such a way as to “complete the task the Lord Jesus has given” you “the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace” Acts 20:24.