Thursday, November 10, 2016

Unmasking False Compassion In the Political Narrative

As I read through the reactions to the election results on social media yesterday, I came across some which stunned me. There were several young, Christian mothers, who I thought were conservatives, who were expressing anxiety and dismay that more liberal people were not elected to our government. They were especially concerned for how our elected officials might be harsh against minorities and the disadvantaged. And, while I could hear the cry of their compassionate hearts fueled no doubt by the love of Christ, it chilled me to the soul to realize they may have been duped.

I just want to be sure my young friends understand something very important. Some of the solutions for social problems promoted by seemingly more compassionate politicians could potentially derail their own rights as parents and destroy those they claim to want to help. It is time to take the mask of "compassion" off of these politicians and see them for what they really are.

One solution, for instance, to taking care of illegals is tighter control over education. Institutional public education is a great way of controlling the masses, especially undocumented ones. But, universal compulsory public education also rounds up the people who believe their children should be home schooled or educated in religious schools. However, if Mrs. Clinton had her way, many of the basic decisions of parenting, including education, would be taken out of the hands of parents and given over to an international government body.

You see, Mrs. Clinton pushes ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child every chance she gets.[1] It seems good on the surface for protecting children from abuse, but, if ratified by our government, it would become a treaty which binds parents by international law to hand over decisions to the government (and in some cases even to their children) which could be harmful to them, especially for parents with disabled children. You can read about some of those concerns in an article posted on the Home School Legal Defense Association website: http://hslda.org/docs/news/2014/201407180.asp.

Yet, another "solution" for social ills proposed by liberals is abortion. My young Christian friends seemed to set aside, albeit reluctantly, this atrocity as an unfortunate side effect of electing more "compassionate" (?!?) politicians. What if someone suggested that the most compassionate way of dealing with the tragedy of black poverty was to line them all up and shoot them? Or, how about slicing them up with a machete or dissolving them in a saline solution? Or maybe it would be more compassionate to pull them limb from limb with pincers or insert a pair of scissors at the base of their necks and suck their brains out? [2]

Yet, that is exactly what these "compassionate" politicians are saying when they want to make abortion more available to minorities. It is no coincidence abortion clinics are set up primarily in minority neighborhoods. It is another liberal political solution for controlling the masses. The fewer Hispanic and black children who are born, the less of a problem they will be. Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and long-time pro-life advocate, makes this point in an interview on The Jim Bakker Show when she asserts Planned Parenthood operates "abortion mills" in minority neighborhoods for the purpose of targeting black women.[3]

Let's take the mask off of this key political issue once and for all for what it really is. I once had a conversation with a young friend of mine who was reared in a conservative, Christian home where abortion was denounced. However, once he got into college, he heard a different narrative. He was beginning to believe that it would be more compassionate to abort black children in the womb than to let them be born into poverty and violence. However, by assuming that all black children born to poor mothers will end up being a burden to society, we become the most racist, bigoted people on planet Earth! Their "black lives" not only don't matter to liberal abortion advocates, they are a burden to society and should be exterminated.

When my young friend shared his thoughts with me, I immediately thought of Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson would have fit that description perfectly being born to a single, black mother living in a poor neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan. But, by the grace of God through the power of the Gospel, Dr. Carson worked his way up from the poverty into which he was born into one of the premier neurosurgeons of our time and presidential candidate in the 2016 election. He is a living testimony against the false assumptions of liberal abortion advocates.[4]

This brings me to what the key problem may be in discerning false compassion. Where are these people getting their ideas? Much of what passes as Christian compassion in American politics today is actually nothing more than godless socialist theory. It is no secret that much of Hillary Clinton's political ideology was shaped by the influence of her childhood church youth leader and life mentor Rev. Donald G. Jones, a radical leftist theologian who embraced the teachings of Karl Marx and Paul Tillich and impressed them on the malleable minds of the teens in his youth group.[5]

It is this mixture of religion and socialism which I think confuses young Christians today. It sounds compassionate. It sounds like what Jesus would do. But when you carefully look into the roots of many of these liberal solutions, you will find they have a dark history which leads to death. When evaluating ideas in the public arena, we must be very careful to analyze who is speaking, who informed their narrative, what their motives are, and how their initiatives could actually do more harm than good, especially to our own families.

As a wise man once said, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death."[6] That is why is it so important to never take anything a politician says at face value. It may sound good and seem like the most effective solution, but how will it affect our lives in the long run?

There may be other issues which liberal politicians advocate as quick fixes for social ills, but what we really need are more boots on the ground. In a blog post called "To All my Post-Traumatic, Post-Election Friends," Scott Sauls makes the point that true social change only comes through the Gospel-driven works of God's Spirit-filled people, not through politicians and government officials. It might take longer and be less effective at first, but it really is the most compassionate, life-giving solution to the social ills of our world. As Scott goes on to say, "...when Christians direct their energy, resources, and imagination toward serving the world as a love-driven minority, the Jesus movement becomes virtually impossible to stop."[7] This, my friends, is true compassion.


[1] "Convention on the Rights of the Child," U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[2] Rebecca Downs, "Abortion Methods and Abortion Procedures Used to Kill Unborn Babies," LifeNews.com, January 2, 2013, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.lifenews.com/2013/01/02/abortion-methods-and-abortion-procedures-used-to-kill-unborn-babies/

[3] "Alveda King: Black Lives Matter Should Fight Abortion," Newsmax, accessed November 10, 2016, http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Alveda-King-Black-Lives-Matter-Fight-Abortion/2016/08/26/id/745345/.

The full video program is found here: https://jimbakkershow.com/video/visit-evangelist-alveda-king-day-1/.

More about Alveda King: http://heavy.com/news/2016/08/alveda-king-donald-trump-niece-praise-endorse-video-watch-martin-luther-jr-a-d-brother-twitter-abortion-black-lives-matter-police-pro-life-ministries/.

[4] Biography of Dr. Ben Carson: http://www.biography.com/people/ben-carson-475422#early-education.
 
[5] Diana Lesperance, "Hillary Clinton's Youth Group Leader," The Narrow Way, October 28, 2016, accessed November 16, 2016, https://narrowwayapologetics.com/2016/10/28/hillary-clintons-youth-group-leader/.

[6] Proverbs 14:12

[7] Scott Sauls blog, "To All My Post-Traumatic, Post-Election Friends," accessed November 10, 2016, http://scottsauls.com/2016/11/08/to-my-post-traumatic-post-election-friends/.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Dynamic Heart In Daily Life - Book Review



Let me say from the outset this book was not what I expected when I asked for a copy for review. Yet, the Lord has a way of giving us what we need even when we don't know we need it. You see, I didn't realize The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience is actually written for use by counselors, pastors, and others who deal with people in ministry. However, though I am not officially in ministry, I still found it important for understanding how to truly be helpful when people come to me for advice and counsel. Most of those are people who read my blog or interact with me on social media, and, of course, our own grown children. Another reason it was valuable was in how it has helped me see more clearly how God works in my own heart to effect outward change.

While Dr. Jeremy Pierre is Associate Professor of Biblical Counseling at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, he has a wonderfully clear way of explaining what could be considered deep spiritual truths in concepts easy to grasp even for the layman. I appreciate how he shows where he is going before he begins a new section and brings the reader back to the main focus. He keeps your head above water, so to speak, while teaching you to swim.

One of the most important things he teaches is that helping others is not simply about looking at surface issues and prescribing a plan of action. He shows how to go deeper to the root issues of the heart, how the heart informs the mind, the emotions, and the actions. In Section 1, Dr. Pierre explores how the heart responds dynamically in human experience. Then in Section 2, he moves into how the heart responds to God, to self, to others, and to circumstances. The third section gives practical questions in how to guide counselees by hearing their hearts, helping them understand their responses, and pointing them to Christ for strength to make new responses based on faith.

The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life is one of those books you will want to read more than once and study for better understanding both of your own walk with Christ and how to guide others in your sphere of influence. I would suggest it for pastors, counselors, women's ministry leaders, older women who mentor younger women, and parents.

I believe it would be especially helpful for parents of children just entering the teen years as they seek to guide them from the heart and point them to Christ as the dynamic of all their life choices. Even if maturing children do not yet know Christ, Dr. Pierre has a very wise perspective on why dealing with them from this angle is so important:

Note for unbelievers: Jesus Christ remains the fulfillment of humanity, regardless of whether an individual believes this or not. So the active behavioral strategies you propose should still be in line with how Christ would act. Life will work better for unbelievers the more closely their actions conform to Christ's. You need to be clear with them that, without faith, the best they can do is spotty, self-motivated mimicry, not genuine imitation of heart. God, in his common grace, often lends this kind of success to those who do not believe, but it is at best temporary. Yet, counselors pray this common grace would be preparatory for salvation.[1]

I have never heard it explained that way before, but it certainly answers a lot of questions about why it is important to guide our children to obey God before they are converted while guarding against making Pharisees out of them. This is only one example of the wisdom Dr. Pierre shares all throughout The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience . I highly recommend it.

[1] Jeremy Pierre, The Dynamic Heart in Daily Life: Connecting Christ to Human Experience (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2016), 233.




Friday, September 30, 2016

The Difference Between Chastisement and Punishment

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I was reading one of Mr. Spurgeon's sermons[1] the other morning and came across an explanation concerning the difference between punishment and chastisement, using our relationship with God as an example. However, I believe there is also a lesson concerning the proper and improper uses of chastisement (spanking) in parenting. He says,

"Well, but, saith one, 'how is it that God does punish his children?' I answer he does not. He chastises them as a father, but that is a different thing from the punishment of a judge. If the child of a judge were brought up to the bar, and that child were freely forgiven all that he had done amiss, if justice exonerated and acquitted, it might nevertheless happen that there was evil in the heart of that child which the father, out of love to the child, might have to whip out of him. But there is a great difference between a rod in the hand of the executioner, and a rod in a father's hand. Let God smite me, if I sin against him, yet it is not because of the guilt of sin, there is no punishment in it whatever, the penal clause is done away with. It is only that he may cure me of my fault, that he may fetch the folly out of my heart. Do you chasten your children vindictively because you are angry with them? No; but because you love them; if you are what parents should be, the chastisement is a proof of your affection, and your heart smarts more than their body pains, when you have to chasten them for what they have done amiss. God is not angry against his children, nor is there a sin in them which he will punish. He will whip it out of them, but punish them for it he will not. [Emphasis mine.]

There was a time when I justified punishing our children in anger for their sins. I had the mistaken idea that I had to be like a judge toward them, meting out justice on behalf of whomever they had offended. I thought displaying my angry displeasure was good for them to see how God was angry with them.

While there are times we must be stern with our children in order that they see the seriousness of their transgressions, I see now that lashing out at them in fleshly anger is a gross misrepresentation of how God deals with His own children. In the sermon quoted above, one may see how Spurgeon differentiates between the execution of justice by a judge and the disciplinary actions of a loving parent.

I believe he uses an appropriate word here to describe how I often felt in punishing our erring children: vindictively or, in other words, with revenge. How many times was my temper stirred toward a rebellious child, and did I spanked them in anger until my revenge was satisfied? I blush to recall my own sin in this matter.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, 
but the end thereof are the ways of death. 

Proverbs 14:12 rings true in regard to the abuse of the rod in that, unless there is repentance on the part of the erring parent, the end result is often that the child has a wrong view of God. An angry, vindictive parent can give their children the idea that God is like they are: unforgiving, without pity, and unapproachable. They confuse the fear (respect) of God with being afraid of Him. As a preacher of old once said:

The thought you make of God is the thought which makes you...If you think God hard, you will live a life of terror and gloom. If you think God effeminate, your life will be characterised by moral laxity. Mark, then, how deeply vital is the occasion when we give ideas of God to little children. We are putting into their lives germs of tremendous power. I have met with old men who in their later years have not been able to shake themselves free from the bondage of a false idea received in the days of their youth.[2]

Thus, we do not want to be guilty of instilling a wrong view of God in our children by administering the rod of correction in a vengeful, abusive manner.

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Another misuse of the rod of correction is in using it for every transgression. I once heard of a father who carried a "spanking spoon" to church in his shirt pocket as if it were a fly swatter ready to smack down any annoying action in his children. Not only is this abuse of power, it has the potential of being ineffective. Eventually, the child gets used to being spanked and endures it without any learning from it. It carries no weight.

Consequently, chastisement should be reserved for only the worst transgressions and then only with a heart of love, not only with the intention of bringing about a reformation of their behavior, but also with the hope of their true repentance.

This is also why the event should be done in private, with a controlled temper, and in a spirit of love. If possible, it should be prefaced by a discussion of what they have done wrong against God and man, followed by an appeal for their repentance and reconciliation.

If you see you have sinned in misusing the rod of correction, I encourage you to seek your own repentance and reconciliation. Seek the Lord's forgiveness, then go to your children and ask for their's as well. Pray for God's grace to discipline the children He has placed in your care in a godly way, both for His glory and for their good.

Future generations will also be blessed if you repent of this error today. Even if your children are already grown and have children of their own, it is never too late to make a true confession. In fact, it is crucial that you do so. It is very likely your repentance and reconciliation may prevent the same mistakes from being made in their homes.

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Because of the potential for abuse, some people say spanking should never be used in the discipline of children. However, I cannot see how they get that from Scripture or from the preaching of godly men throughout church history. However, that is a study I will have to share in another post.

If you are looking for resources on godly parenting, I have found Tedd Tripp's books to be very helpful and balanced. The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo is also very good. Then there's Dr. David Powlison's new book Good and Angry which is most helpful if you struggle with anger issues in general. (I just did a book review for it here. Very helpful.)

May the Lord bless you as you seek to be the parent He has made you to be. Seek His grace through prayer. He delights in giving wisdom. All we have to do is ask.

[1] "The Treasure of Grace," The Spurgeon Archive, http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0295.php
[2] "The Difference Between Fearing God and Being Afraid of Him," J.H. Jowett, Bible Hub, http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/jowett/the_difference_between_
fearing_god_and_being_afraid_of_him.htm