Saturday, March 26, 2011

Nurturing wise kids

Last year our study of Proverbs helped us all learn more about what it means to be biblically wise. Now a book is out uniquely designed to help our kids embrace wisdom. Paul Tripp has this to say about it:

"Ruth Younts has produced a wisdom character manual like I have never seen before. Forget that it was written for children, I need it! I wish I had been given such a fun, street-level and Christ-centered tool when my children were still at home. By the way, Ruth isn’t able to talk about wisdom with such practicality and grace because she did graduate work in wisdom. No, Ruth has spent years at the feet of her Heavenly Father listening. She knows that he is not only the source of all true wisdom, but is Wisdom himself."

You can find the book here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Building decisions

As most of you know, on Sunday our elders made a proposal to suspend our present plan to add-on to our church facility and pursue selling our property so as to make purchasing and remodeling 1st Baptist Church possible. If you haven't read the actual proposal, which answers many questions, we'd encourage you to stop by the church office to pick up a copy. For those of you who have read it, what do you think? We'd like to use our blog to foster healthy discussion about the pros and cons of this potential opportunity to greatly enlarge our meeting space debt free. Leave a comment here to get in on the discussion.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Good thoughts about the 'M' word

I might as well say it: 'masturbation.' Tomorrow the apostle Paul will help us assess and address our sexual temptations through our study of I Thessalonians 4:1-8. Right in line with Paul, Jeffrey Black has this to say about masturbation:

"The goal of pornography and masturbation is to create a substitute for intimacy. Masturbation is sex with yourself. If I'm having sex with myself, I don't have to invest myself in another person. People who are 'addicted' to pornography aren't so much addicted to lurid material as they're addicted to self-centeredness. They're committed to serving themselves, to doing whatever they can to find a convenient way not to die to self, which is the nature of companionship in relationship."

- Quoted in Josh Harris, Sex Isn't The Problem, Lust Is, pp. 105-106.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pray and go

This morning as I was praying for various African countries, I felt an unusual burden to pray for Somalia - that east African nation which has devolved into anarchy and piracy. Though it may be the most unsafe place in the world to live at the present time, especially for women and children, its problems could be used by God to stir in the hearts of its Muslim citizens a longing for a Savior. How will Somalis hear about Jesus? Here are some ways you can pray:

  • For the very few Christians in Somalia (only 200 by some reports) to courageously share their hope in Christ and teach the Bible to others

  • For Christians in nearby nations (like Kenya and Ethiopia) to courageously find inroads into Somalia toward evangelism and strenthening the tiny Somali church

  • For Christians in Minneapolis, and other major cities of the world to which Somali refugees have fled, to compassionately minister to the Somalis who God has sovereignly brought into their neighborhoods not only so they might know Jesus but spread a passion for His glory to their relatives and friends still in Somalia

In addition to prayer, we need to go. The vast majority of missionaries are working in countries with stable churches which are growing. That is needed, but there is an urgent need for career missionaries going to the dangerous and unreached nations of the world like Somalia. Who will go?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When porn filters are unhelpful

I don't have to convince you - especially if you're a man - that pornographic sin has escalated thanks to the internet. Net porn is epidemic and precious few teenage boys and men who are regularly on-line are immune to it. How pervasive is its reach and power? Check out some stats I saw today:

"According to compiled numbers from respected news and research organizations, every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. Every second 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. In that same second 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes a new pornographic video is being created in the U.S. And it’s big business. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined."

So, it's logical for a godly guy to rush to put a smut filter on his computer. There are loads of them available, many are free and they're easy to use. Perhaps even more effective are programs which forward your viewing history to your spouse or accountability partner to help you think twice before surfing in dangerous territory.

How should we think about internet filters? On the one hand, we should praise God for them. I have two young sons and I deeply want to protect their minds from sensually titillating images which could lead them to lust - and worse. I need to be especially vigilant as they approach the teenage years when images, which they would have ignored at age 5, suddenly stir up sinful urges. I think internet filters can be very helpful, and I think we need to use them wisely in certain contexts with those under our care who are especially vulnerable.

On the other hand, as a biblically-minded Christian, I have to acknowledge that internet porn filters can be bad - really bad. How so? Well, what is such a filter accomplishing? It's guarding a person's eyes and mind from an opportunity to sate his or her lust. What's it not accomplishing? It's not allowing the reality of that person's sinful heart (which is lustful whether he's looking at porn or not) to be dealt with. It may be wise for an alcoholic to steer clear of the local bars, but doing so doesn't force him to face his true problem: idolatry (satisfaction in something which is not God). An internet filter superficially masks lustful idolatry which is lurking in the heart. If a man chooses not to have a filter on his computer, then he has to depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit when he surfs the web, he has to nurture deep love for his wife in order to say 'no' to his flesh's lustful appetite and when he does look at smut, he is in a position to confess to his Christian brothers that he's an idolater who's desperate for their prayers and the grace of God in his life.

An internet filter might help a man avoid smutty websites, but it won't help him face his own sinful heart and it won't drive him in desperation to the Cross. Like a child needing training wheels, my sons need an internet filter when they're young, unwise and unable to protect themselves. But if they intend to grow spiritually, one day the training wheels will need to come off. The glory of Christ in their lives and their desperation for the gospel depends on it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Good and angry

"Jesus died not only to free you from your anger, but to enable you to take up His righteous anger....He died so that you would not be a captive to the self-absorbed anger of your claustrophobic little kingdom. He died so that you would be angry with sin and the way it has harmed you and everyone around you....

Sarah is very angry, but she looks anything but angry. She isn't easily irritated. She isn't known for being loud and argumentative. But Sarah is angry. She is angry that so many elderly people are institutionalized and alone, so she spends each Sunday afternoon going room to room at the retirement home in her neighborhood. She is angry that in our highly educated culture many inner-city children do not learn to read, so she tutors children on Tuesday nights. She is angry that so many friendships end in unreconciled conflict, so she works to be a peacemaker whenever she can. Yes, Sarah is angry, but it's not the self-focused anger of the little kingdom. No, her anger is the anger of the big Kingdom and it propels her to look for ways to do good."

Paul Tripp, A Quest for More, pp. 191-92.