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Mar 29, 2012

Civil Discourse on Life Support?

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Uncivil discourse is once again in the headlines, if indeed it ever left it, especially when the attention-drawing offending words came from a famous conservative pundit. Is this not always the case, the conservative draws the ire of the media while previous far more vile remarks do not even raise a ripple of concern? It matters not if they are directed at women or other races; it is acceptable depending on the woman’s or person’s ideology; nor is it offensive if their children become targets of evil remarks as well. But there is in this lesson of double standards a lesson for all us all; a biblical truth worth the remembrance and obedience of those who love God.
There was a vast difference between the vile words of the late night hosts, Letterman and Maher, and the ill-chosen slurs of Rush Limbaugh. The words of the former were simply demeaning and vile devoid of any truth whatsoever, an ill-chosen appeal to the humor of their suspect audiences. There was not any humor in them, except for those who love evil. The words of the latter had some modicum of truth, but nevertheless were unnecessary to establish the point, and were unacceptable in civil or Christian discourse. They did far more harm than more articulately pointing to the truth of Ms. Fluke’s endeavor.
I know many will point to the words of righteous anger by Jesus in the New Testament toward people flaunting their sinful behavior to defend their own pejoratives in this day and age toward godless neighbors. Jesus used words like “liars, thieves and robbers, and white-washed sepulchers with explanation of their meaning, which none but the figuratively deaf and blind could miss. Limbaugh could have gotten his message across far more insightfully without the curses or pejoratives in questioning the behavior of Fluke’s demand of free contraceptives at taxpayer expense and at a Catholic University she chose, when they are already free in practically every county in the nation, or readily available for a pittance; when in most cases, minus medical reasons or for married couples, they are to be used for promiscuity and in some cases even to destroy a conceived baby. What Limbaugh’s choice of words did was create in the eyes of pseudo-offended critics whose own vocabulary is regularly sprinkled with such verbiage, a moral equivalency to the slurs, cursing, and vile words of those who do admire evil.
The Christian who accepts God’s Word as authoritative in their life understands their tongues and lips are not their own. They have a Master, and they are not Him. Romans 12 like Psalm 12 tell us we are not to return evil for evil. We are not to create even an appearance of moral equivalency between our behavior and the evil doer. We must choose our words judiciously and righteously; and though in the end they may not please unbelieving ears and minds, they have a far better chance of communicating truth than curses, slurs, or pejoratives. Consider the words the Holy Spirit would use, the words Jesus would use, in conveying your message. “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.
Passion is part of the image of God indwelling who we are; but so is self-control. The tongue is a match in a dry forest, or next to a puddle of gasoline. James says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. Do not lower yourself to the level of the fallen world. Make a determined, self-controlled effort to bring righteousness into public discourse and choose your words as though Jesus were standing next to you wherever and in whatever company you find yourself. Oh, He is always with you, isn’t He? As a Chaplain in the Army I often heard the words, “Excuse my French, Chaplain. Their curses, slurs, and pejoratives didn’t even have a French accent.
May your presence in any situation change the discourse, because your company knows and is rightly rebuked by the character of your own tongue.


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Mar 22, 2012

Pomp

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Pomp entices us; it draws us into its glitz, pageantry, and spectacular displays. Who doesn’t like a parade? Who is not thrilled to receive an invitation to an Inaugural Ball for a recently elected President, or a Royal Wedding, or a personal audience with the Pope at the Vatican? Who is not, at least inwardly, puffed up when asked to provide personal wisdom to the US President or a Head of State somewhere in the world? In my own background the large, important military ceremonies and reviews of the troops decked out in their finest regalia on the broad, green expanse of military parade fields set in truly magnificent settings, majestically lends itself to the meaning of “pomp. All pomp is not necessarily bad. I found great value in these military parades. But then there is pomp which entices us into a state of mind where we do not want to go!
In New Testament Greek the word phonetically is “fantasia, like the title of the famous Disney movie of the last century, capturing the eyes, titillating the senses, moving the imagination. This word “fantasia in Greek is “pomp in the English Bible (cf. Acts 25:23). Fantasy has been a literary and movie genre for many secular writers like Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Frank Baum (The Wizard of Oz), or George Lucas (Star Wars); also Christian writers like Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) or C.S. Lewis (The Narnia Tales). Fantasy is and can be an evocative tool for communicating a vision and a message which can be redeeming in its effect in some cases or even seductively ruinous in others.
What is the effect of pomp on your own heart? It is a worthy question for every serious minded Christian in each instance where you are caught up in the pomp of the culture. Does it turn your heart to the things of God and your own redemption, or does it draw you closer to the world, and even to pomp devised by Satan to purposefully compel your heart in an opposite direction. St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444), one of the Church Fathers, tells us in that time a person to be baptized, on entering the outer hall of the baptistery, stretched forth their arms, and said, “I renounce you, Satan, and all your works, and all your pomp, and all your service. Then they declared their belief in the Holy Trinity and in one baptism of repentance. In the Bible the word pomp does not appear often, but always in the context of what will pass away, what will go down to the grave, and what stirs up in one’s heart a haughty spirit of selfish pride encouraging a lust of the eyes. One can see in it where the word “pompous is derived.
Yet how can you escape the descriptions in the Bible of God’s presence, the Lord’s return, and the vision of Revelation and the courts of heaven and not also refer to it as pomp, equating them to the grand and flashy pageantry on the world’s stage? These descriptions in God’s Word of unimaginable scenes past and future are not called pomp by the Holy Spirit, but rather Glory; speaking of what is in fact real and incorruptible; a splendor that will never fade, never disappoint, never cease to provide and sustain joy. Glory is what is real; pomp is in essence a fantasy, a substitute for real GLORY. Pomp’s eventual end is as described in today’s text; glory lasts for eternity. There is certainly pomp in our society that appears quite innocent, other that is clearly decadent. The Christian has to carefully analyze the influence of pomp upon his own soul. Pomp is a worldly antidote to boredom. It is why we amuse ourselves to death as a society. We are bored primarily because we are spiritually lethargic. Pomp which lulls one into increasing spiritual apathy must be dealt with or completely avoided. After all it is spiritual apathy that opens the door to the worst evils of this world: substance abuse, pornography, despair, insatiable boredom, inability to focus on the good while wandering in anything sin has to offer. Pomp, the kind that draws you away from strengthening your friendship with the Eternal, Living God and makes you more a lover of the world, must be discerned and put to death in the appetites of your soul.
Spiritually examine your heart the next time you participate in or are entertained by pomp.


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Mar 15, 2012

Afraid To Die

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Are you afraid to die? Obviously, those who take their own life fear pain more than death. Dying is preferable in their perspective than what they are experiencing in the moment, or in their recent past. The majority of people seek to live with a natural instinct for life, and when death is threatened pursue survival. Simply because a person seeks to protect his life, or the life of another, does not mean he is afraid to die, or that he necessarily fears death. Others are very fearful of death, even though it does not saturate their daily thinking; they live taking for granted tomorrow will come. But confronted with the reality of death, how many are afraid to die?
This last week I was struck by two articles: One, about a soon to be mother and her husband on an airplane this last week when a Flight Attendant lost it and grabbed the intercom to tell the passengers the plane was going to crash and they were all going to die. The other, the result of a national survey regarding the question: “If you were to die tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? The former was written by a pregnant wife, a Christian, who was faced in a moment with the possibility of her, her husband’s, and her infant in the womb’s death. She was terrified, and not unlike many, found it difficult to battle her paralyzing fears. Later, when the passengers became aware they were not in danger, she thought through her immediate response from the perspective of her genuine Christian beliefs and why she was thrown for a moment into abject fear. This is a healthy exercise for all of us who believe with confidence that we really do have assurance of heaven if we die tonight; but has that confidence, if you have such, been truly tested lately, or ever.
Death seldom presents itself conveniently, unless you are of that “hoary headed group that live to such a ripe old age that you recognize you are on death’s doorstep. Even those struck with a terminal disease in younger life never think it convenient. There are always good reasons why we need to live; death go away, come again another day! This young mother realized how attached she was to this world, and unprepared in her everyday world view to be separated from it. Are you?
The national survey asked a representative scientifically selected number of people if and how often they questioned themselves, if they were to die tonight were they confident they would go to heaven. 52% of the Western United States say they never ask the question; 50% of the South and the Bible Belt never do; 45% of the Midwest and North do not; and surprisingly only 31% of the Northeast never ask. Who woulda thunk the NE would be the populace where 69% still ask this question? Nevertheless, is it true so many think so little of death and its consequences; that there is no fear of death even though death surrounds us in our world every day?
As a Christian believer how often do you think of death and your preparation for it? The Bible is saturated with references to death, separation from the body, and our being made fit now for life beyond the grave. Are your children ready to bear your absence from their life? I am sure you have many other questions about your (sudden) departure and its consequences. Preparation for death is the least thing for you to procrastinate while thinking you have 7 or 8 decades or more; and you can get really prepared in the last one. Living well now (pursuing Christ), equates to not fearing death because you fear God and His sovereign grasp of your life and those who are yours.
Pride is the greatest anesthetic to a spiritual heart (it numbs it) which fears not death when God calls. In contrast to a heart numbed by pride, “The reward for humility is the fear of the Lord, riches and honor and life.(Proverbs 22:4) Life lived humbly with death in view is a life which makes the most of living today, while fearing not its time; a time no man knows.


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Mar 10, 2012

PAYH Wins First Prize in Spartan Race


On March 10th the Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH) won first place out of over 5000 competitors in the Spartan Race in Conyers, Georgia. PAYH young men: Chad, David, Dillon, and Sam, as well as Brooks Sullards (alumnus (’90) and staff member) competed as a team and won first place out of 243 teams. Only 3364 individuals finished the race.
In 1961, God led Paul and his wife Glenda to establish the PAYH in Vidalia, Georgia, a Christian residential alternative to juvenile and adult correctional programs for sixteen to twenty-one old young men. Paul was the ’56 gold medal winner in the heavyweight lifting division and “the World’s Strongest Man, (lifted 6270 pounds in a back lift). The Anderson’s desired to provide a home where God would transform broken teenagers and support parents in crisis. For 51 years the PAYH has brought help, hope, and “the lift of a lifetime to over 1200 young men and their families and continues to track trends in youth culture and discover fresh parenting strateg

Brooks Sullards (PAYH Staff member and alumni)

ies to help stressed and hurting families. (www.payh.org) The PAYH then shares these discoveries and insights with thousands of families across America. (www.familyStrong.com)
Brooks Sullards stated: “For the last three years, we have wanted to compete in this race. Our young men and I trained for ten weeks prior to the race at a minimum of four workouts each week. Competing was a reward for those who were selected because of their excellent efforts in our physical education program in which we had been incorporating Crossfit training for the previous six months. This was a very challenging experience for us: the harder we pushed to excel, the harder the race became. The boys and I were beside ourselves with excitement when we heard we placed first.

Dillon (PAYH young man and member of 1st place winning team)

The Paul Anderson Youth Home staff and young men participate in these types of activities to build confidence and teamwork as well as develop resilience, decision- making skills, and ability to laugh in the face of adversity.
PAYH understands that America stands at a crucial moment in her history. Despite her strong foundation, she is clearly in a decline. The tipping point? The state of her youth: the nation’s future husbands, wives, parents, workers, and leaders. Glenda Anderson Leonard, Co-Founder and President of the PAYH poses this question: “Will you join as us as God uses the PAYH to transform one young man and one family at a time?


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Mar 08, 2012

Are your children on Facebook?

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Here is an interesting article regarding children who are under the age of 13 on Facebook released by Redbook Magazine asking the question; “Are your children on Facebook?” Some of the highlights of the articles are worth noting as we navigate raising our children in an online world. We want to point out some comments from the article for you:
“When her daughter nearly friended a stranger, Coleman treated it as a teachable moment. “She’s making mistakes while she’s still listening to me and in plain sight”
“The knee-jerk answer for parents of children under 13, or even older, might be to keep them off Facebook.”
“Should a parent decide to allow a child under 13 on Facebook, many experts agree on some guidelines. Parents who help set up a child’s account should walk the child through the privacy settings, and choose strict ones: settings, for example, that will not allow anyone but friends to see status updates, photos, or comments that the child makes to other friends. They should also explain the limits of those protections to the child—that a photo she posts can be copied by a so-called friend and sent out into the universe.”
Remember, if your child is forming relationships online, than part of forming your own relationship with your child is online too. Be where they are! We go to their school and sporting events, so why would we not be online with them as well? It is part of where they live! Be their teacher; do not let the culture be their guide.
To read the full article, follow this link: Kids on Facebook
Are you online with your child? We would love to hear your thoughts on this article.


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Mar 08, 2012

Peace

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 Strength For The Day

The peace symbol of two spread fingers is fairly universally recognized and used in every culture. The peace symbol, designed originally for the nuclear-disarmament movement, has become a sign for all kinds of ideas and associations and even a fashion imprint on every type of clothing, jewelry, and what have you, signifying in many cases in the minds of the wearers little more than being “with it (though in ignorance). As early as the 5th century this same design of the peace symbol was associated with the occult and Satan, as well as the upside down crucifixion of the Apostle Peter. In any case the users and wearers of the peace symbol really represent the utter hodge-podge of meanings in the idea of peace which exists in the minds of those who trumpet it for whatever reason, selfish or altruistic! They truly fulfill the words of the prophet Jeremiah when he said, “They heal the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace; mainly because they have no idea what “peace is.
The absence of war is not peace; nor has there ever been an absence of war somewhere in the world on some scale. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was murdered by the Nazis a few days before the end of WWII, wrote in prison, “So long as the world is without God, there will be wars. Furthermore, the Bible teaches clearly that wars will never cease until Christ’s future coming puts an end to them. Mankind, by itself, will never bring peace on earth, because men and women are sinners and sinners always find ways to instigate wars, even while proclaiming their hatred for them. Presidential candidate Ron Paul has attracted a significant number of supporters across all political lines, including many young people, simply by trumpeting, as a major part of his platform, ending America’s wars if elected. It makes little difference, it seems, that by so doing he invites the enemies to our own shores. He truly believes, as evidenced by his own statements, that no one will attack us if we just leave them alone. I do not know what world he grew up in. And far too many young people are truly ignorant of history and human nature.
Still, peace is attainable even in a world at war; unmistakable, undeniable peace is accentuated, and made known to its recipients because it is necessarily experienced in the midst of war. Just as beauty requires pain, so peace comes to fruition in an environment of war. We live in war whether metal bullets are flying around us or not; though they fly every day in every American city. You may not be inclined to believe so, but spiritual warfare is not less real than physical. Both destroy; though spiritual much more readily than physical. Thousands may die in Afghanistan or Iraq, but tens of thousands are dying within our borders where you may think we have peace. Ron Paul can rail about the costs in dollars of America’s foreign wars, but what of the far greater cost in dollars and families and lives and the health of the nation and her citizens every single day and night in America, because of the spiritual warfare of sin. Bullets flying on our streets is only a part of the onslaught of sin and the Prince of this world perpetrating mayhem in all forms everywhere around you; yes, even at your door. “Peace, peace when there is no peace! This is the mindset of the many who clamor for peace, with no idea where to find it, while looking in all the wrong places.
What exactly is “perfect peace? In the jungles of Viet Nam with the vestiges of war surrounding, nerves tense with the expectation of death and destruction, ominous omens in the deafening silence, and anxiety on steroids, I witnessed unexpected glimpses of tranquility and serenity in the beauty of a flower, the singing of a bird, the sound and sight of a waterfall, as if war was nowhere near me, only a bad dream. Is this not the very instruction Jesus gives in Matthew 6:25-34? Here is the picture of perfect peace: the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, the grass of the meadow, all provided for minus any worry by the magnificent Gardener, who also happens to be your Father. Perfect peace is not the absence of war; it is the absence of worry; it is the serenity of your mind; it is the prosperity of your provisions; it is the happiness of your security; it is the joy of your anchored hope; it is trees clapping their hands in the wind in praise of their Creator, even while war rages around them. Perfect peace is your conscience at rest because your guilt is removed; your soul knows it is forgiven; your eyes are fixed on Jesus; your mind is unturned by the world from God’s promises to you.
You cannot find enough money to buy such perfect peace; nor slave away a lifetime to earn it. “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money; come, buy and eat! Come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant. (Isaiah 55) Perfect peace is there for the taking, but few reach out their hand and grab hold of it. Choose to be one of those few.

Your Thoughts:
How do you find peace in the midst of the chaos of life?


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Mar 02, 2012

Left To Themselves

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Far too often our children are left to themselves to figure out life largely, if not entirely, on their own. Last week a nine year old boy took his mother’s loaded handgun to school in his backpack. The result when he dropped his backpack on his desk was a critically injured little girl with a life threatening bullet in her abdomen. A mother who has a true view of life and human nature would have known what was in her son’s backpack before he ever left home. But by and large far too many parents are clueless about the nature of their children, because they are clueless about the nature of mankind.
If we were able to survey the entire world and ask the question whether or not children come into the world as a “tabula rasa the vast majority would say, “Yes, they do; and the vast majority would be absolutely wrong. “Tabula rasa is Latin for “clean slate and the nomenclature for a philosophy which claims human beings are born in neutral innocence and then entirely shaped by the environment in which they are reared, taught, and molded. No one can doubt the major influence of any person’s environment on the development of their character and personality. But the science of genetics confirms that genes implanted at conception in the DNA of the unborn baby will also have a major influence on the person they are and will become; genes inherited from parents and the generations from which they descended. The all-encompassing “gene most ignored and frequently denied, is the “sin gene impacting all others; which the Bible describes as our “being conceived [already] in sin. (Psalm 51:5) All humans, according to God’s Word, are born with a sinful nature; inescapably ours from the moment of conception. Consequently, children left to themselves, apart from God’s intervention, are sinners who will bring shame to their mothers (and fathers) as the proverb says.
This young boy may not be found legally responsible for his actions, but his parents ought to be! Due to the laws in Washington State, they will not. But this will not be the case on the Day of Judgment; all parents should take this to heart. Our children, like ourselves, were born with a sinful nature, and the knowledge and understanding of this foundational Biblical truth should form and undergird your parenting philosophy and practice. If it does not, your parenting will be a failure. Today over 50% of children born in this country to mothers under 30 are born to single mothers. From unmistakable scientific data gleaned from the results of children from single parent homes, we can be certain that the future society will be a disastrous one; disastrously evil and out of control, because children will be left to themselves, and/or follow in the example set by irresponsible parent(s).
There are at least two cardinal truths for parents to learn from this proverb. The first is that because original sin exists, all their children will enter this world with a sinful nature requiring rebirth. Their inclination will be to sin until the Spirit of God gives them a new nature. Unless reborn, they, by their very nature, will be drawn more to sin and its allurements than to righteousness and obedience. Second, because of this truth, it can never be good to leave them to their own devices. For this very reason parents must LOVE their children by nurturing, admonishing, instructing, correcting, guiding, knowing their “bent, and directing them in the right way with your personal life testimony and example. Hence the necessity, as the proverb says, for the rod and reproof of discipline to provide wisdom.
This absolutely requires your time; lots of it! If you cannot genuinely commit to give of your own time before having a child, do not become a parent! All of the Bible passages which speak directly of parenting imply the devotion of significant TIME! It is the understanding of a sinful nature in ourselves, and in our children, that forbids parents from leaving children to themselves. This means until they are adults and out of your parental responsibility they do not have a blanket right to privacy, any more than we can demand that God close His eyes to us; no right to privacy of what is in their bedroom, on their computer, on their cell phone or iPod, where they go, who they are with, what they do.You are their protection, their first line of defense, their umbrella; like the wings of a mother hen or an eagle (that’s close); not in place of God, but as His steward, and with His aid.
Happily, God chooses to intervene in some children’s lives where parents have essentially abandoned them to the world; He of His own gracious choice draws that child to Himself, protecting them from the sins of their fathers and mothers. This is a blessed exception to the proverb. Do not count on God always doing this when you intentionally or slothfully ignore His instruction to make parent a verb.

Your thoughts…
What makes it difficult to spend quality time with your children? How are you actively training, encouraging, guiding, correcting, and directing your children? What are you doing to ensure that your children are not being left to themselves to navigate life?


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