Psalm 71

The Spirit really moved me today as I read Psalm 71, especially verses 17-18:

“O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

The Lord saved me around March of 1980.  He has “taught me” as His child for over thirty years now.  Any defects in my knowledge and zeal are inherent to me, as my Savior is perfect in all His perfections!   

I love this verse because by God’s good grace it is my own testimony. And, the more I know Him, the more I want Him to be known, by my children, your children, and our children’s children, and children in the jungles of Bolivia.  And, I join the psalmist in praying God will allow me to proclaim His gospel and might and power to multiple generations.

Would you join me in this prayer?  Would you join God in adopting a vision for trans-generational faithfulness at your local church?  May God be pleased to use His people to saturate the next generations with the magnificence of the Holy One of Israel.

If our children gain academic accolades, sports trophies, myriad friends (real and facebook), great scholarships, high degrees, good jobs, nice homes, picket fences and 1.5 children, but have not Christ, what have they gained?

I leave you to answer that question . . .

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Lou E. Wilkie-McWhorter - As Paul stated in Thessalonians 1:6: “…ye became followers of us, and of the Lord.” Ours lives must point to Jesus so by our example our children will want to be like us and learn that He is who makes us what we are. Even though we are not perfect, the light shining through us is! Thanks be to God for our Saviour!

Future Beyonce’s

Apparently a group of seven year old girls are capturing quite a Youtube following.  The early shows on the major networks this morning carried the story about the girls’ “dance troupe.”  Even the morning show hosts cringed as they played short segments of the performance.  And what do you guess caused the cringing?

The girls were dressed like hookers, in sexy little lingerie, and were shaking their stuff in a re-enactment of a popular Beyonce song about single women.  Some of the morning show hosts were arguing that this is dangerously close to pedaphilia and / or child pornography.  Others aptly pointed a finger at the parents of the girls.

Now, by God’s grace, I am no expert on Beyonce.  I do not listen to her nor log on to view her.  I am aware of the video in question simply because it has been splashed across every conceivable media outlet for over a year now.  And, I do recall when Beyonce and her two sisters crashed onto the music and entertainment scene as innocent looking young girls, touting their Christianity, strong morals and talking about how their mother had raised them to dress modestly. 

Well, those days are gone.  Modesty does not sell CDs in the pop culture.  Looking and acting like a prostitute does.

Now, lest anyone think I am simply bashing a certain celebrity and making this blog about personal attacks, let me assure you my concern is not primarily with Beyonce, or Britney, or GaGa, or any other pop icon.  Our sinful depraved culture craves them, and pays for them, and so they and their ilk shall continue. 

My concern is for parents in general, and Christian parents in particular, who allow their children (especially daughters in this instance) access to these performers.  I remember a former pastor of mine about ten years ago taking a beating from his congregation simply because he dared to suggest from the pulpit that parents ought to think twice about letting their children listen to and watch Britney Spears.  I mean, after all, little girls in the church were imitating her in the hallways, so it did seem reasonable for him to address the subject. 

Christian parents often demonstrate a wide ignorance when it comes to how they view their children.  Have we all so quickly forgotten that God says our children were born sinners (Psalm 51:5)?  Do we really grasp that our children’s hearts are “more deceitful than all else and desperately sick” (Jer 17:9)?  The heart of humanity is prone to idolatry (worship of anyone or anything other than the one true God).  Sinners left to their own devices “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and “worship the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom 1).  Your children and mine are not exempt!   

So, realize your children are prone to make idols.  And, they will make idols out of whatever or whomever is set before their senses on a habitual basis.  They will make idols in response to peer pressure, so you must help them choose friends wisely.  They will naturally gravitate to idolatry – it’s the plight of humanity! 

Those who make them [idols] will become like them (Psalm 115:8).

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Prov 23:7).

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:21).

Parents, who or what are you allowing your children to idolize?  Who do your children imitate?  Who do they talk about most often?  What do they view most frequently every day?  What are they reading?  Who do they want to look like?  How much “free access” are you giving them to media?  (My wife shocked me the other day by telling me some of our 9 year olds at church are on FB with their own accounts.  That creeps me out and deeply concerns me.)

O God, help us put before our children the Lord Jesus Christ.  Give us grace to hold up the Word made flesh and the Word written down in our homes and in our daily lives.  Lord, you save us to conform us to the image of Your Son (Rom 8:29).  Forgive us when we try or allow our children to seek to conform to the image of the creature.  Give our children new hearts, O Holy Spirit, and help us to direct their hearts to the only One worth treasuring – Jesus the Christ.  May our whole lives teach our children in word and deed that “friendship with the world is enmity with God” (James 4:4).  In the Name of Jesus, amen.  

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A Cross-less Day of Prayer?

“So, when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you.  Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are full of blood” (Isaiah 1:15). 

Harsh words from God, don’t you think?  And given to His covenant people, no less.  These were the “people of promise,” the very people called by God’s name.  So, what in the world was going on?

Space obviously does not permit me to give a full answer to that question. I must simply direct and urge you to read the Book of Isaiah.  There you will discover for yourself what was going on.  In a nutshell, the people had abandoned true worship of the One True God.  They had taken it upon themselves to define worship, to set their own parameters for how they would approach the Holy Lord of Hosts.  They had replaced God with gods of their own making.  They had neglected to continually acknowledge their absolute dependance upon God to change their hearts and enliven them to humbly obey His commands.  They had dared to come to God presenting their own righteousness; rather than crawling to Him begging for mercy because of their rampant unrighteousness.  They tried to reach God on their own terms. 

The result?  God turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to them.  But all was not lost.  A Suffering Servant was promised, One who would make atonement for the sins of His people.  A child was promised, who would be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; and His kingdom would never end.

That Child-Redeemer-King has come.  His name is Jesus. 

Today, all across America, people gather to pray.  It is the National Day of Prayer.  I applaud the effort and do not doubt many who pray today do so with hearts truly burdened to see God deliver our nation from itself, its own evil and filth and self-love and idol worship.  Many Christians will cry out to God for mercy.  Many will plead with God, “in wrath, remember mercy.”  So, I am in no way against the National Day of Prayer.

My heart, however, is made sad by how many thousands will not pray at all today.  God is meaningless to them, unless their health fails or a trial comes.  I am sad for the thousands who will pray to false gods today.  Idols cannot hear, or see, or act.  Prayers to dumb, deaf, dead gods are, well, dumb and dead (Ps 115).

But saddest of all to me are the myraid people who call themselves Christians, claim to be the church, who will today and in the days ahead try to approach God in prayer, or in worship apart from the bloody cross of Christ.  Saddest to me are the tons of people claiming to be believers who have replaced the Cross-Centered gospel with mandates to transform the culture via activism.  Saddest to me are so-called Christians who spend countless hours stumping for candidates who want to reduce our carbon foot print, while almost never speaking to anyone about the atoning, bloody footprints of Jesus.  Activism and stewardship of the planet are good in their rightful places, but they are surely not even close to the greatest good.   

Jesus, absorbing the wrath of God against our sins on the cross, so that by God’s grace, through faith in Him, we might receive what we most need from God – mercy!  That’s the gospel.  America will never be made better apart from the Cross of Christ.  May God forgive those who call themselves His followers, yet are embarrassed by the cross.  To the sinfully depraved world, the message of the cross has always been viewed as foolish, “but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). 

This is my prayer on this National Day of Prayer:

Oh God, fill Your people with a consuming passion for the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Help us return to the priority of the cross.  Give us grace, like Paul, to “preach Christ crucified.”  Help us tell sinners far and wide “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).  Forgive us for thinking we can preach more effectively than Jesus did.  Give us the fortitude to cry out to America: “The kingdom of God is here.  Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).  For the sake of Jesus, have mercy on us.  Give grace to Your people, to “humble themselves, pray, seek Your face, and turn from their wicked ways.”  Oh Lord hear my prayer, not because of anything I have ever done, for my righteousness is as filthy rags; hear me only in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.                            

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Eat This Word

“But you, son of man . . . open your mouth and eat what I give you . . . eat this scroll and go, speak to the house of Israel . . . then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey” (Ezek 2:8-3:3).

Our access to the honey of God’s Word in America is ridiculous.  We are the recipients of ridiculous grace!  If you have any doubts, American Christian, take some time tonight to gather up every single copy of the Bible in your house.  Pile them all together.  Have your family count them.  Note how many translations.  Styles.  Forms of bindings and coverings.  Large print and so tiny nobody can see the print.  Black covers, burgundy, blue, white, pink, teen study Bibles, the Bible for Plumbers, it is ridiculous.  Digital and audiovisual copies, too! 

What’s even more ridiculous is how few hours we spend in the Bible each week, given our amazing access to it.  Do its pages, after all, contain the very words of God?  Then why are we not “eating this scroll”? 

There remains an even more ridiculous fact, however.  According to Wycliffe Bible Translators, over 2200 people groups on this planet have still not seen even one verse of God’s Word in their own heart language.  Now, friends, if we really believe the Bible is the Word of God, and that God saves us and sanctifies us by His Word (and He does – Rom 10:17; John 17:17; James 1:18), then this lack of access to it among the people of the world has to rank as the crime of our day.  In this day and age, when we can whisk documents around the world at light speed, millions still have no access to the Words of Life? 

My friends, Karl & Debbie Crossman are absolutely committed to getting the Word of God to the ends of the earth.  As Wycliffe missionaries, they served for many years in Papau, New Guinea.  They and their four children are all missionaries at heart.  Their oldest daughter, Abby (15 years old, I think), is going to Peru this summer to spread the love and message of Christ. 

Karl’s skill set in radio communications and IT, however, were most needed in the JAARS center in Charlotte, NC.  Check them out at www.jaars.org.  The move from Papua New Guinea to Charlotte has not been easy on the Crossman family, and the level of support required for them to serve at JAARS is considerably higher than it was in PNG.  They need your help to get to the 100% support level by June if they are to remain on the field with Wycliffe.  Please, dear Christians, prayerfully consider giving to them.  Put your money where your mouth is when it comes to this precious gift of God’s self-revelation to humanity. 

Contact Karl and Debbie at kdcrossman@windstream.net for more info or to have them come speak at your local congregation.  Why not pledge even a small amount of $25 a month to the Crossman’s?  Visit www.wycliffe.org and click the “Give” link to make the transaction quick and easy.  Simply designate your gift (one time, monthly, quarterly, or yearly) to Karl & Deborah Crossman on the on-line form or mail your contribution to Wycliffe Bible Translators, PO Box 628200, Orlando, FL 32862-8200.  The Crossman Acct # is 352527.

Last night, our pastor preached from Matthew 6, with an emphasis upon our heart treasure.  Where is your teasure?  Your pocketbook won’t lie.  Why not give more to missions, missionaries, and Bible translation, and see if your heart does not follow?  “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt 6:21).

Heavenly Father, may Your name by revered, and may You be pleased to make Your name great through the work of my friends, Your servants, Karl and Deb Crossman.  Use them and us, O Lord, partnering together to send Your Word to peoples who have never heard of Jesus, nor ever read a verse of Scripture in their own language.  I ask, Lord, that You do a mighty work of grace, gather the financial support needed to keep the Crossman’s living out their calling.  Stir the hearts of Your people to give, for in Christ You have given lavishly to us.  Please do it for the sake and fame of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus the Messiah.  Amen.

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All My Facebook Friends Are Comin’ Over Tonight!

The American Family Association Journal (www.afajournal.org) recently reported on a research study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  They surveyed 8-18 year olds to assess the amount of time they spend with entertainment media (TV, the web, iPods, texting, cells, etc.).  The results were staggering, even to this old-fashioned guy who thinks an hour or two a day spent texting, talking on the phone or Facboking is far too much.  Drumroll . . .

Young people in America spend nearly 8 hours a day using entertainment media!  That’s 53 hours a week!

66% of young people own cell phones, while 76% have iPods or similar MP3 players.

So, let’s get this straight, the avergae kid in America spends 13 hours more than a full work week on electronic gadgets.  I can only imagine what our churches would be doing for God’s glory if kids spent even 10% of that time studying Scripture and talking about Jesus.  How in the world do they find time to go to school?  Oh wait, a 5th grade teacher recently told me she spends an inordinate amount of time fighting with kids and parents to get them to stop texting while she is teaching.  How do they make time for homework?  Sports?  Maybe this is why kids are becoming more and more obese, unhealthy and diebetic?  When do they eat, for crying out loud?  Family time?  Proper sleep?

Dear Christian parents and friends, this is absolutely absurd to the point of insanity.  You do tightly monitor your child’s electronic media usage, don’t you?  Surely your child is nowhere near this 53 hour / week average?  If your child is even close to that threshold, I must ask you, when are you praying together as a family (and no, I do not just mean at meal time)?  When are you talking together about missionaries, lost people groups, ongoing persecution of believers around the world?  When are you opening the word together and hearing the very words of God in your homes?  When are you serving your neighbors and the hurting people around you?  When are you spending time with real people in face-to-face relationship? 

God help us!  I have viewed things like Facebook and texting with extreme caution for years now.  Friends and family have told me to lighten up.  I did, which is why you’re reading a blog by me now.  But, I am still not on FB and have no plans to be.  My children do not have cells phones and will not for many years to come.  I do not have a cell phone.  My Daddy taught me growing up that men who talk on the phone for hours are “sissies.”  I took him at his word!  Now men have phones permanently afixed to their ears. 

My fear is that we are becoming a more self-centered culture at light speed, and training our children to be focused on their own importance first and foremost.  Do we really all think people are just sitting on the edge of their seats at night waiting to see what petty activity we’re doing at the present?  Why the unstoppable desire to check MY text messages every few minutes?  Are all the texts you are sending and receiving so critically important that you cannot even turn off the phone to drive, during school, or while listening to the sermon at church?  Maybe this is why so many are so enamored with texting – it is a great escape and avoidance of any real significant, deep conversation about things that matter forever.  

The Apostle John, the elder statesman of Christianity in the 80s A.D., wrote to those redeemed in Christ: “I have many things to write to you, but will not with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, that our joy may be full”  (2 John 12).

Friends, we’re losing this passion for real relationship.  The church is losing her desire for real flesh and blood community, and our children are losing any ability to even interact meaningfully eyeball to eyeball.  I’m not the only one worried.  Jesse Rice wrote a book about it called The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community

I realize all entertainment media outlets are not evil in and of themselves.  FB can be used in a positive way even to spread the gospel.  Keeping up from afar is a piece of cake now, and that’s not so bad, especially for people in my community separated by military deployments.  My concern is how few Christians I see actually redeeming their FB account.  My concern is that Christians spend more time on the web or on the phone than they do in the Word each week.  My concern is that Christians are now viewing FB as their “church.”  My concern is that Christians are terrified to share the gospel with others face to face, or to lovingly correct false belief or corrupt living, unless of course it’s over email, where we’re all bold as lions. 

Real community is joyfully messy.  It involves bearing burdens side by side, fighting sin in the power of the Holy Spirit shoulder to shoulder, singing to God mouth beside mouth, listening to the Word ears alongside ears, and serving King Jesus arm locked in arm, taking the gospel to our cities and to our world.  This real world flesh and blood visible expression of the Gospel of Jesus being lived out is the local church.  Her task and privileges simply cannot be adequately performed on Facebok or cell phones. 

We must raise up the next generation to know and love the joyfully messy reality of real sinners, redeemed by a real risen Savior, living out the faith in real covenantal community, for the glory of God and His Christ.  To do it, we’ll have to turn off the TV more often, log off, shut down the cells, and bury our flesh and blood faces into the pages of our Bibles TOGETHER.

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