Family Apologetics

“Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth!  I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.  We will not hide them from our children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and His might, and the wonders that He has done” (Psalm 78:1-4).

My family and I just returned from the Defending the Faith family apologetics conference put on by Answers in Genesis.  While I expect it will take me several weeks to process all I heard and learned, let me simply share some initial thoughts:

1.  Wow!  Those guys and gals at Answers in Genesis really know how to put on a conference.  The information was spot on and very practical, not to mention tremendously challenging.  And, there were sessions for children, teens and women.  

2.  Parents had better wake up in the American church.  If you are a parent and you simply cannot make a powerful argument for the literal six-day creation taught in Gensis 1-2, using the Bible first and science second, then you had better start making time to educate and arm yourself.  Otherwise, how will you equip your children to defend the biblical accounts against the unending onslaught of Darwinian evolution?  You do want to raise, equip, and train your children, right?

3.  The myriad ways Darwinian evolution is peddled to children and adults today is mind-boggling.  Every conceivable media source inudates our culture with the deceitful, bad science of evolution, not to mention the public school textbooks.  Add Oprah Winfrey’s voice to the lovers of Darwinian theory, narrating nature films and promting them wildly, and we have the makings of a total war.

4.  What is really at stake in this clash of the titan worldviews (Bible v. Darwin) is the authority and sufficiency of the Holy Scripture.  Once the church (yes, the church is the guilty party here) began to do interpretive gymnastics to try and accomodate Darwin’s theory into the biblical revelation, what really happened is the church substituted man’s ideas for God’s Word.  The locus of authority shifted.  We, dear Christians, must recover the Reformation principle of sola scriptura!        

5.  The symptoms of prattling away biblical authority in the matters of creation, origins and age of the universe and world are haunting us daily.  They include: gay marriage, normalization of homosexuality, radical feminism, pandemic divorce, single-parenting, intentional childlessness, racism, infanticide (abortion), euthanasia, abandonment of the elderly, apathy towards orphans, genocide, and matriarchy in the home, church, and nation, to name a few. 

Friends, may God open our eyes to see where neglect of the absolute authority of His Word is leading us.  May we rise up in our homes and churches and schools and cities to once again proclaim “the glorious deeds of the Lord.”

Darwin and his followers have sold us a pack of lies, beatifully packaged in the wrappings of so-called “science.”  I will have much more to say on these issues in the weeks ahead.  For now let me just remind us all that this war of worldviews actually started back in Eden:

Now the serpent . . . said to the woman, “Did God actually say . . ?”   

Satan is not all that creative.  Apparently he doesn’t have to be.  He just changes the instruments he uses to get people to doubt the Word of God. 

What of you?  What of your children?  Can you all really defend the Word and contend for the truth effectively?  Are you all armed with true, Bible answers for the plethora of questions being asked to challenge the Word?  If not, or if you simply need to shore up some things in your lives and homes, may I suggest a dual emphasis as a starting point:

First, read and study Genesis as a family, and let the text speak for itself.  God’s Word will not return void!

Second, purchase the series called Answers from Answers in Genesis.  The series consists of four children’s books, three adult books, and three DVDs.  This series will put you on the path to being a family of Contenders for the Faith.   

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Mandy Calnen - Love your site man keep up the good work

Boys Behaving Badly

Well, well, well, Colton Harris-Moore (aka the Barefoot Bandit) is no longer barefoot, though allegedly he is notoriously a bandit. 

While 80,000 + fans on Facebook glamorize, idolize and celebrate this thieving teen, it is worth noting none of them will sacrificially serve time with him (or for him) in his jail cell. 

His own mother has expressed pride in her son’s criminal escapades, and this is what is saddest of all to me.  Colton and his boys-behaving-badly ilk are becoming a pandemic in America.  The Christian church has for decades been warning of the ugly and deadly repercussions of rampant divorce, single-parenthood, and absentee dads.  Recently, the absentee dad has been the subject of notable studies, but the results of those studies could not be more predictable.  Let me summarize them for you:

Children, all children, but especially sons, need Dads.

Earth-shaking, isn’t it?  The Creator’s design for the family – one dad and one mom married for life and investing themselves fully into raising their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord – really works. 

Colton’s biological Dad abandoned him at age 2.  His step-dad died when he was 7, leaving him at the mercy (if such a word can be used of her) of his sin-sick mother.  Whatever she taught him, she surely did not emphasize the 8th Commandment.   

Now, do not get me wrong.  I am not saying single mothers (or dads) are always destined to fail.  Nor am I saying a boy in his teens (who everywhere else but the western world would be considered a grown man), does not stand accountable for his own actions.  Colton is responsible for his crimes and cannot excuse them away.  Ancient Israel tried that with God, but it did not work out well for them (see Ezekiel 18).

But dear readers, my concern is how many other Barefoot Bandits are waiting in the wings in America?  Fifty + years of ignoring and rejecting God’s design for the home is just not working out well for our country.  This is especially alarming when one takes stock of the conspicuous absence of real men and real Dads in our culture. 

We are a Dad-deprived and men-deprived culture.  We are becoming a nation of boys stuffed into hairy, belching, beer-bellied bodies. 

Oh Sovereign God, raise up real men once again in Your church.  Grant to us Dads who will instruct their sons in what makes a man a man, in Your Holy eyes.  May our daughters, too, be blessed to be raised by Christ-like, sacrificially loving men who will model manhood for them day-by-day.  Turn our eyes to the Man of men, the God-Man Jesus, that we might live and move and have our being in Him.  For the sake of Your Son, Jesus, help men of Your church rise up and bless their homes with loving headship and heart-felt worship.  And give us grace to reach out in gospel love to the Colton Harris-Moore’s in our own neighborhoods.  For it was for bandits, bad boys, liars and adulterers You died, precious Jesus.  And wonder of wonders, you are still saving sinners like me.  Be glorified in Your church, O Lord.  Amen.

For a much more intelligent discussion of the plight of men in America: http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/06/22/the-end-of-men-a-hard-look-at-the-future/            

To read up on the Barefoot Bandit: http://www.katu.com/news/local/63636867.html

 

 

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. . . And One Not-So-Great Gospel Resource

From time to time I receive something so utterly ridiculous that I simply cannot pass up an opportunity to comment.  Sadly, these ridiculous things too often come from supposed Christian sources. 

 Recently, I received a book of advertisements for Christian products.  In that booklet, there was an ad for a DVD titled “At Jesus’ Side,” produced by Bridgestone Multimedia Group.  The accompanying description was as follows:

“A sure to become classic animated movie and family favorite.  At Jesus’ Side brings the teachings of Jesus to life for today’s families through the story of five misfit animals on a journey towards love and forgiveness.  Our hero, Jericho, is a vagabond street dog who befriends Jesus and follows him throughout the last week of his life, death and resurrection.”

 The DVD cover has a cartoon picture of Jesus hugging a dog while surrounded by various animals, including a giraffe, elephant, hedgehog, lizard and various dogs.  There is so much insanity here I scarcely know where to begin!  Is this what the church of the living God has come to – that we need to use some fairy tale, “green,” environmentally-friendly, animal-loving cartoon in order to teach the gospel to our children?  God help us.

 Dear friends, do not be misled by “green” versions of Christianity or the gospel.  While God does indeed command Adam, and by extension us, to exercise good stewardship over the creation, we dare not forget that “dominion” was part and parcel to that stewardship (see Gen 1:26; 9:1-3).  Rather than portray Jesus as a dog-lover, why not just let the Word of God speak?

I submit to you there’s more gospel in the first chapter of Leviticus than in 1000 of these idiotic DVD cartoons.  (By the way, go read that chapter and you’ll see God commanding lots of blood-letting of various animals in order to atone for the atrocity of human sin).  When will we wake up and begin to once again embrace the Reformation cry of sola scriptura? 

I am not against Word-centered resources to assist us in teaching the gospel to children, but parents, grandparents and teachers, I plead with you, make it the priority of your lives to open the Bible and by God’s grace “rightly divide” it.  The Word applied by the Spirit is enough; yea more than enough!  Put away all the foolish cartoons, and pick up your Bibles.

And if we simply insist on using dogs to help illustrate and teach the gospel, may I suggest we begin with the account of King David’s kindness to the late King Saul’s lame grandson, Mephibosheth.  Overwhelmed by the King’s grace to a crippled man, Mephibosheth cries out, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I” (2 Samuel 9:8)? 

Now, there’s a lot of gospel in this story!  I love the summary sentence: “So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons” (v. 11).  

And if we still insist on using dogs to teach the gospel, may I then suggest we conclude the matter with the account of Jesus’ merciful kindness to a Syro-Phoenician woman who took no insult to the Master calling her a dog.  No, rather than pander to her hurt pride, she comes to Jesus as a beggar and replies, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7:28).        

These are stories worth telling, don’t you think?  And unlike an animated film of a street dog that “befriends Jesus” (I gag every time I read it), the stories of Mephibosheth and the Syro-Pheonician woman are the very words of God.  Thus, they carry the full weight and power and authority of God.  They shall not return to Him void (Is 55:11).     

God give us Ezra’s in this day of utter silliness: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach His statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

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Great Gospel Resources

For Christian parents, grandparents, guardians and cargivers whose hearts are being moved by God to return to doing discipleship His way – beginning in the home – times have never been better. 

The wealth of gospel-centered, Christ-exalting resources available to us today is nothing short of an amazing gift of our God.  But before I give you a list of resources to consider using in your homes or churches, let me remind parents of what I call “The Big Three.”

1.  Family Worship – consisting of singing, praying, reading and meditating on the Scriptures together in the home.

2.  Family Bible Study – parents actually opening up the Bible and teaching it passage-by-passage to children.

3.  Catechisms – a question/answer format that requires children to memorize biblical answers to the most important questions in life.  Catechisms were used ferociously in Christian homes of the past to inculcate children with a biblical worldview and sound Bible doctrine.  They are wonderful tools that God is blessing in my own home.

Friends, there are no substitutes for these three.  If you simply cannot make time to use the various other resources listed below, please do whatever it takes to teach the Bible, worship together, and catechize your children and family.  These three are simple, word-centered and require nothing more than a Bible and your voices and minds.  Worship.  Study.  Catechize.  The Spirit works through the Word, and the Spirit exalts the Word-made-flesh (Jesus).  The Big Three will help us make our homes Word-Saturation Zones for the glory of the Lord.

Assuming you are glorifying and enjoying God in your homes in worship, study and catechisms, and are hungry for additional ways to seize more moments for Christ’s glory, here’s a short list:

1.  Helping Children to Understand the Gospel – a wonderful resource for any adult in a position to consistently share the gospel with children, available here:  http://www.childrendesiringgod.org/resources/resource.php?id=3

2.  Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers – a great set of four books [The Gospel, The Mission, The Trinity, The Scripture] for pre-K children or early readers.  Also consider having older siblings read these to younger siblings.  Available here: http://www.monergismbooks.com/product.php?productid=18753&cat=357&page=1

3.  The Prince’s Poison Cup – a children’s book by R. C. Sproul that uses allegory to present the gospel message in a powerful and captivating way for kids.  The book comes with questions for parents to ask children after reading the story that will drive families into the Word.  Check out all of Dr. Sproul’s tremendous children’s books at http://www.ligonier.org/store/

4.  Sammy and His Shepherd – another super book by Susan Hunt that explains and applies the truths of Psalm 23 to children (and adults).  The questions in the back of the book are great at driving readers to the basic gospel message in the Bible.  This book is also sold at the Ligonier Store (link above). 

5.  Big Truths for Young Hearts – a book by Bruce Ware that helps adults teach systematic theology to children.  The theology in the short chapters seems best suited for late elementary children or “tweens.”  Check it out here: http://www.monergismbooks.com/Big-Truths-for-Young-Hearts-Teaching-and-Learning-the-Greatness-of-God-p-18376.html

6.  Christian Worldview for Children – by Brannon Howse.  This author actually has a series of these worldview books and they are all worth your time to read to and with your children of all ages.  If we are to have the “mind of Christ” then we must filter everything in life through the lens of the Bible.  Howse helps us do just that with these mince-no-words books.  Find them here: http://www.worldviewweekend.com/secure/store/       

7.  Family Worship – of all the fine books available on the topic, this one by Donald Whitney seems to present the case in the most straightforward manner.  Need pratical advice on how to begin or more effectively lead worship in your home?  Shop here: http://biblicalspirituality.org/

8.  Passion Hymns for a Kid’s Heart – a book of hymns with wonderful written expositions on the doctrines contained in the hymns, by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada.  Want to teach your children the great hymns of the faith and the doctrines of the Bible from which they are drawn?  Look no further than this series of books, available at Ligonier Store (link above).

9.  Need help doing expository studies through Bible books in your home?  Kevin Swanson of Generations Radio is producing some fine ones.  Currently he has studies in the Psalms and Proverbs available: http://www.generationswithvision.com/Store/

10.  I produce expository Book studies for member of the local church I serve, as well as catechisms.  But, for those wanting a formal catechism to use in their home, I recommend A Catechism for Boys and Girls available from Evangelical Press: http://www.epbooks.us/

11.  Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ – an awesome chronological Bible study for children that teaches the grand purposes and actions of Almighty God from Genesis to Revelation.  Get it here: http://www.ntmbooks.com/

12.  For creation apologetics and biblical refutations of all the lies of Darwinian evolution, there simply is no finer source than Answers in Genesis.  Do yourself the favor of becoming a frequent surfer at http://www.answersingenesis.org/

13.  To give your family a global perspective on the church of Christ, with emphasis on the persecuted church, employ the resources of Voice of the Martyrs, available at http://www.persecution.com/

Most of these resources would also be available at CBD or Amazon or other large retailers, but I have included the above sources because I believe they are deserving of our attention and pocketbooks.  So, whenever I can buy directly from these gospel-driven sources, I do.  Enjoy surfing their sites and soaking up what the Lord is doing through them.

Happy shopping!  May you all grow ever more serious about bringing your homes under the authority of Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 6:1-4.  There’s joyful room for all (parents, grandparents, teachers) to join in the tremendous task of making disciples of the next generation.  

Join the Cross-Centered Homes revolution and never forget “All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down!”

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Packer on Evangelism

Now that we have spent several weeks examining the basic gospel message, I thought a quote from J. I. Packer’s classic Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP, England, 1961) was in order.  From page 101:

Evangelism, we have learned, is a task appointed to God’s people everywhere.  It is the task of communicating a message from the Creator to rebel mankind.  The message begins with information and ends with an invitation.  The information concerns God’s work of making His Son a perfect Savior for sinners.  The invitation is God’s summons to mankind generally to come to the Savior and find life.  God commands all men everywhere to repent, and promises forgiveness and restoration to all who do.  The Christian is sent into the world as God’s herald and Christ’s ambassador, to broadcast this message as widely as he can. 

Amen, brother Packer.  Preach on!  And, let us not forget, the very first place God calls us to publish this blessed message is in our own homes, to our own children.  Seize every conceivable opportunity of every day to reinforce the gospel in your homes, and may God give us grace to live it out with our children day-by-day. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

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