Public Education

Tolerance. Diversity. Discrimination. These words are in the forefront of cultural ideology today.  Each one has become a measuring stick for people’s belief and actions; a public badge of either honor or disgrace. There is just one problem and it’s a large problem: who gets to decide the acceptable limits of each? For Christians, especially, that question is important.  There are, indeed, some times when we should not be intolerant.  There are situations in which too much diversity can be detrimental to Christian rights.  And Christians should be very discriminate people, when it comes to certain things.

Nowhere is this as obvious and important as in our school systems. I believe in public education; I’m a product of public education. I believe that it is in the best interest of children, as well as the public good, to receive a good education. I also believe it is one function of a good government to assist parents in the education of their children.  There are immutable sciences and disciplines that every child should at least be exposed to in order to give them a chance to compete in an adult world.  Math is important, of course, as is the science disciplines, english, geography, and history. I enjoyed social studies in school and civics gave me a good understanding of how government and politics work.

But what about morals?  Do lifestyle choices need to be taught by schools? At what point does education become indoctrination? Teaching a child that 2+2=4 is good.  That will not change and there will be countless times in our lives when addition will come in very handy.  But should we allow schools to teach children that a male can become a female simply by thinking it to be so?  There is certainly not any measurable science discipline that makes that a fact. To indoctrinate impressionable children with such “pseudoscience” is uncalled for and detrimental to a child’s mental health and well-being. Those things are then responsibility of the family.

There is so much more that should be left to parents.  And Christian parents should be intolerant of schools usurping their family responsibilities.  We should be very wary of including changing morals and mental states as science and fact.  We should discriminate against such teachings.  The government is not our nanny and when it comes to morals, ethics, and lifestyle the government is not our master.  God is. Christians should be allowed to send their children to a school to be taught solid fundamentals without fear of godless indoctrination.

 

Say good things about your church and about your Savior!

 

Bro. Tony

 


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Fantastic VBS

                We had a fantastic Vacation Bible School this year.  There were so many “unknowns” approaching the week. Family vacations, sports, others church’s VBS, etc.  So it’s difficult to predict attendance and to prepare.  But God knows who is coming and He knows their individual and family needs and it amazes me how He prepares us for them. Even when things didn’t work out exactly as we planned, God had planned for us.

We had over 25 children enrolled and met several new families.  That, in itself, borders on miraculous.  We often judge the success of VBS by whether or not we “got” any new families from our effort. That is certainly one thing I look at and I hope and pray every year that we do. It’s a joy to be able to minister to new people. But we must also realized that the main focus of VBS is to teach children the Bible.  We did that and we did it well.  Our teachers, helpers, rotation leaders and workers did a fantastic job. On the final night, when we saw the tail lights of cars pulling away with those children inside there was a lot of those “unknowns” about our future ministry with them and their families, but there is one very certain “known”:  those kids were taught about God, about His love for them through Jesus Christ, and about how to live a life reflective of Him. We were obedient to God, we accomplished our task, and those children are better off for it.

But don’t quit praying that we will, indeed, reach some of those new families and bring them into this sweet fellowship of believers! And if you want to pat yourselves on the back for a job well done….go ahead.  You deserve it.

Pray constantly, work hard, and trust God!

Bro. Tony

 


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One at a time

            I grew up reading superhero comic books. I’m still somewhat of a comic “geek”.  There is just something about someone with amazing powers defeating the evil forces of the world; promoting “truth, justice, and the American way”. 

            One of the storylines in a Superman comic concerned Superman’s realization that he could not save everyone. With all of his abilities and powers he couldn’t attend to every crisis around the world; time and distance were against even him. In fact, it got to the point where he was about to just give up.  If he couldn’t save everyone, what good was he?  Thankfully for all the people in comic book land, Superman came to the conclusion that if he couldn’t save everyone, he could still save those he could reach.

            I think that a great many of us Christians feel that way about their effectiveness in the kingdom of God. We look around us and see so much lostness, so much hurting, and so much sorrow. We see immorality, wayward living, and un-godly influences and we think it’s hopeless.  Be honest, haven’t you wanted to give up?  Haven’t you gotten tired and said “what’s the use”?

            We can take a lesson from a fictional comic book character and realize that while we can’t minister to the whole world individually, we can minister to one person at a time.  We may not save the world per se, but to one person we can be a genuine “superhero”.

 

 

 

Pray constantly, work hard, and trust God!

           

Bro. Tony


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Spiritual Health

I recently went for my regular 6-month check-up with my doctor. He took a look at all my blood-work and pronounced me fairly healthy. My cholesterol was a little high and I was a bit over weight, but otherwise OK. But as important as all the blood indicators were the questions he asked me:  How do you feel? How is your memory? How is your appetite? Any indigestion or heartburn? Are you experiencing any pain or headaches? You see, there are some things you just can’t measure with a test.

The church is often like that.  Yes, we need to look at some things that surely indicate the spiritual health of our church.  But other things come into play that tell us a lot.  Do visitors feel welcomed and wanted? Is the Spirit of God felt in our midst? Does the family of God love each other’s presence?  Is there a deep feeling of joy in our assembly? 

Of course I want our attendance to continue to grow.  I certainly agonize over a lack of baptisms.  There are several things that I would like to see improve.  But there is, in this church, some things that are so important, though unmeasurable.  The love of God, and each other, is evident in our times together.  The genuine love for, acceptance of, anyone and everyone who walks through these doors, is absolutely a sweet savor to the Lord.

Yes, let’s continue to strive to lead people to the Lord and to find ways to minister to our community.  That is our call.  But never forget that Church on the Bluff is a very special body of believers and I know that the Lord is so pleased with us in many ways. 

 

Pray constantly, work hard, and trust God!

Bro. Tony

 


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Joseph

We’ve been studying the part of Genesis where Joseph is the prominent character.  The more I read about him, and think about his accomplishments, the more I admire him.  When asked to name prominent people in the Old Testament, I dare say that Joseph rarely comes to mind. Names like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Jonah, Daniel, and others seem to pop into our heads before Joseph. Yet, his is an amazing story.

A spoiled, favorite son, he was sold into slavery and declared dead by his brothers.  He earned the trust of a very prominent man and eventually ran the man’s household. Falsely accused, he was thrown into a dingy prison for years.  Yet, Joseph became the second most powerful man in Egypt.  How did he do that?

First, he trusted God.  Because he was human, I can picture him sitting in the midst of his troubles with his head in his hands asking God “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” But each and every time he did something good he gave God His due credit. He wanted God to receive the glory for working in his life. You can’t do that if you don’t trust Him.

And because he continued to trust God, Joseph always gave his best. That’s not usually how we do things, is it? Most of the time, when things aren’t going well, we seem to put forth less effort; just enough to get by. Imagine Joseph on his first day of slavery in Potiphar’s house and his new “master” commands him to wash his feet (or some other lowly task). I suspect that Potiphar may have gotten the best foot-washing of his life. 

Please note that it didn’t happen overnight.  The record shows there were 13 years of “ups and downs” before his purpose was realized.  So what do we make of Joseph that we should apply to our situation? Three basic things stand out.

 

  1. Trust God. Even in the troubled or seemingly      unproductive times, trust Him.
  2. Have patience. God’s has a plan and He knows what He is doing.
  3. Do your best. Never give less than 100% even if you      don’t like what you’re having to do.

 

 

Bro. Tony

 


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Organized Religion

I was recently reading an article that was not too complimentary of evangelical Christianity.  To seemingly state her credentials as an “authority” on the subject she said that she was a very spiritual person but wasn’t “into” organized religion. That told me all I needed to know about what was coming in her article: it was opinion from a person with no helpful knowledge about the subject she was about to address.

First, simply being “spiritual” means absolutely nothing.  Hindus are spiritual.  Muslims are spiritual. In fact, Wiccan and naturalists are spiritual. For that matter, Satanist are spiritual. A person can be spiritual and yet have no clue about the one true God, let alone evangelical Christianity.  When it comes to a right relationship with God, being “spiritual” just doesn’t cut it.

Secondly, organization is generally a very good thing, even in secular work. I’ve never heard anyone say “I love cooking but I’m not into organized recipes.  I just throw random stuff in a bowl, mix it up, eat what comes out”, or “I love road trips but I’m not into organized traffic laws.  I drive in whatever lane I want to and I’ll decide whether or not to obey traffic signals and speed limits”.  We organize for  both ease and efficiency.

Here is what I hear when someone says he or she is not into organized religion:  “I  do not like going to church and living by a bunch of rules and regulations”.  Yes, it is that simple. Please understand, though, that to a great deal we shoulder the blame for that.  We have, in many cases, taken a relationship with God and traded it for a list of do’s and don’t’s (tellingly, mostly don’t’s). We then tell people, and practice it ourselves, that if they keep that particular set of rules, they will be in a good relationship with God.  While there are several rock-solid ways of living that uphold and demonstrate God’s character and His purpose, we have to be careful not to micro-manage sin.

In fact, though, not to be a part of ”organized religion” violates several of the things God designed to perpetuate the Gospel.  He tells us to gather together.  He tells us that He gives us specialized gifts to build up the body of Christ.  He tells us that we are to exercise those gifts for the common good of the church. He tells us that each member belongs to all the others.  To reject organizing to maximize the Gospel is both selfish and short-sighted. In fact, it is not spiritual at all.

 

Bro. Tony

 


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Male and Female

Well, the Boy Scouts are not the Boy Scouts any longer. They have changed their name to Scouts BSA (I’m wondering, though, what the B stands for). They took that step so they could begin accepting girls into the organization. How sad, for both sexes. It is yet another misstep in seeking equality for the sexes. Why is it a misstep? Because it confuses equality with sameness.

                Should girls be taught how to tie knots, start a campfire, and enjoy the outdoors safely? Of course they should, if they have a desire to do that. But somehow the “feminist” movement has morphed into a “masculinity” movement for women. That is, they want women to be like men.  Isn’t that the exact opposite of “feminism”?

Although it is increasingly unpopular to acknowledge it, women and men are different. There. I said it: men and women are different.  One is not more or less than the other, they are just different. Are four quarters equal to a dollar bill? Of course, but they are not the same. There are pros and cons to carrying either, but they are different. So it is with men and women. There are skeletal differences, muscle mass difference, and even psychological differences. Yes they have an awful lot in common, there are differences that truly make a difference in things.

In any situation that includes males and females there is a definite sexual difference that will affect them in several ways: sexual attraction.  Sexual attraction is common, normal, and necessary. But because of that, kids react differently in each other’s presence.  You may find it hard to believe (sarcasm) but boys want to impress girls and girls want to impress boys.  In classroom or teaching sessions they may not be as honest and forthcoming about many things when they are around each other.  Their focus can be compromised when members of the opposite sex are present and they may have questions they wouldn’t dare ask.

God created two sexes and in His infinite wisdom designed them differently with purpose and a plan.  It is not being a “sexist” to acknowledge the inherit differences in the male and female identities, nor is it misogynistic to suggest men and women were created to complement each other.  We each have our purpose.  So there are just times when boys need to hang out together and be boys and girls need to hang out together and be girls. What a shame that we rob them of those opportunities under the guise of “equality”.

 

Bro. Tony

 


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Hate Speech

           More and more theses days we are hearing about what is called “hate speech”.  That phrase has quickly become the measuring stick for what we will or won’t allow to be spoken in public. On the surface, that may seem like a great idea.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful not to hear people say hateful things? Now, as Christians, we should never say hateful things.  The Bible is very clear about what should come out of our mouth and it is to be pleasant, constructive, and compassionate.  But it is not “hateful” speech that is banned. There is a subtle, yet important, difference between hateful speech and hate speech.

Miriam Webster dictionary defines hate speech as speech that is “intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person because of some trait (as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability)”.  Hateful speech will certainly intimidate or offend someone, that is its intent.  One of the biggest problems with defining something as hate speech is how to determine the “intent” and then determine guilt based on whether or not it “offends” someone. What is being defined as hate speech can actually be said out of love and concern for a person.  If I believe that a person with gender dysphoria can and should get help, is that being hateful? If I believe that abortion is the taking of innocent life, am I being hateful? What if I quote scripture warning people about ungodly lifestyles, is that done out of hate?  Of course not, but each of those things have been called hate speech.

Again, as I’ve said before, it is yet another way to marginalize Christianity and paint the Bible as a book of hate.  Why? Because it offends ungodly people. That will never stop,  Paul’s said in Ephesians 5:11 that the cross, itself, is an offense to certain people.  So what is our response? Silence? No. Ephesians 4:15 we are commanded to speak the truth…but to speak it with love. 

And if truth, spoken with the love of God, offends someone then so be it. We should never let our voices be quieted.  People need to hear the truth.

Bro. Tony

 


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Does this marginalize the Bible?

A few days ago a bill was passed in California that outlaws helping people overcome un-wanted homosexual or gender dysphoria desires for adults (it already had one that “protected” children from much-needed therapy). Other states have a similar law in place.  What makes this law standout from the rest of the ill-advised laws is wording that prohibits  the “advertising and offering of sexual orientation change effort”.

Critics of this law say it will eventually result in the ban of the Bible.  Proponents say it will do no such thing. The answer probably lies somewhere between the extremes, but it absolutely will result in the Bible being marginalized even more.  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said that demonizing opposition to gender dysphoria leads to presenting the Bible as a book of hate?  This is step two.  In the state of California churches and Christians will be prohibited for advertising or offering the Biblical path to help and healing of those troubled souls.

“Oh no,” the liberals hiss “this would only apply to business that charge for their services”.  Of course it will.  Until an atheist person or group decides to sue and gets it in front of one of the wacky, Bible-hating California judges that seem to love dismantling the  Constitution and the right is gives us to live free from government intrusion into our religious beliefs.  Then we will see how broadly this law will be applied when it comes to the Bible. It is, you know, the “text book” from which Christian counselors derive their approach to homosexuality and gender dysphoria.

Add to that the “advertising and offering” of that service. If I say from the pulpit that the Bible says those things are wrong and that we “offer” help to those who suffer from them, will I be breaking the law? If my pulpit speech is protected (which I doubt) what about one of our church members “offering” the church’s help to an individual in a park or mall? The ”slippery slope” will quickly become a mudslide.

We Christians need to pray that God will not forsake us and that His strength empower us to stand strong and un-afraid on the solid foundation of the Bible.

Bro. Tony

 


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Setting the Mood

                I read an article about the worship activities of a church that was growing at a very fast rate. The accompanying photo was of the stage area in the church.  It was very dark, with a lot of purple accent lights, and spotlights on the worship leaders.  In explaining the reasoning behind the décor and ambience, a leader said that it helped set the mood for worship. Really? We have to set the mood for worship? Call me old-fashioned, but I believe worship sets the mood.

In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are in jail; they are praying and singing and the other prisoners are listening to them. I suspect that those two guys changed the mood in that place through their worship, not the other way around. I picture the early church, chastised and persecuted, meeting in hidden places and still singing praises to the Lord. Did the ambience of caves and catacombs prohibit the believers from worshiping? 

True worship is not found in the atmosphere of the place but in the attitude of the heart.  I’ve always said that if you can’t worship in a barn you can’t truly worship in a cathedral. I hope that in every church service your heart is filled with worship before the first note is played.  That, folks, makes the music and praise beautiful and a sweet savor unto the Lord.

I understand the importance of music in the modern-place worship setting. It does help us to truly have a “worship” service, but if the music is the determining factor in the quality of our worship, we are barking up the wrong tree.  We must prepare our hearts before we open our mouths.

I’m looking forward to worshiping and praising Sunday.

Bro. Tony

 


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