Friday, April 29, 2011

Ben Franklin's Junto

...a meeting of the minds.

We are studying the life, inventions, and mind of the genius, Benjamin Franklin.  I discovered the coolest book: Benjamin Franklin: American Genius.  It has great experiments and activities.  It is 2 weeks overdue at the library and so it must go back and I am only just beginning to go through it with my boys.  So, I bought it.  It's just too cool to not own!

We read about Franklin's Junto meetings and Brandon just about came out of his seat.  He wanted to start a Junto immediately and gathered the family together for our first meeting.  He's the leader.  I am the secretary...or so he told me.  And everyone else has a job, too.  I keep telling him that he needs to start a meeting of the minds with his peers, but he is insistent.  He has big plans for a robot he wants to build that can help the soldiers.  He has drawn the blue print and distributed a copy to each of us.  My little inventor.

So, what is a Junto you ask?  It is a meeting where things are discussed.
Anything might be discussed at a Junto meeting, from "What is wisdom?" to whether or not indentured servants made the colonies more prosperous.  Franklin wrote a list of 24 questions for members to keep in mind.  (p. 30.  Benjamin Franklin: American Genius)
Other ideas for topics:
  • Should a certain event or legislation come to fruition?
  • The happenings around town.
  • What can your group do that would be of service to others?
  • In what manner can the Junto assist you in any of your ideas? 
I really love this idea.  It reminds me of the group that Sally Clarkson's daughter, Joy, is part of: The Inklings (modeled after a group of adored authors).  Opportunities to exchange thoughts and to brainstorm possibly life-changing ideas.   (Click here for another one of Sally's posts about The Inklings.)

Maybe your kids want to start a Junto, too?!

A happy and beautiful day to you!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

wolves in sheep's clothing

Preach the Word!  Be ready in season and out of season.  Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (2 Tim.. 4:2)
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim. 2:5) 

I recently had a back-and-forth with someone who claims to be a Christian but is, in fact, a heretic and not unlike the man who would be better off if he tied a millstone around his neck and hurled himself into the depths of the sea.(Mk. 9:42)  Why?  He leads people astray by boldly corrupting the Word of God, and advocates a false & blasphemous doctrine.   Not only is he dragging himself to hell, but he is taking with him his children and anyone else over whom he may have the slightest influence.  Further, those who support or cling to this particular person's "theology" and philosophy are accurately described in the latter part of this passage:
"For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world that He might comdemn the world , but that the world might be saved through Him.  Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.
This, then, is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.  For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed." (John 3:16-20)
So, I imagine you can guess what type of folks side with a heretic:  those who don't want their actions exposed for the evil that they really are.

We must involve ourselves in a Bible-teaching church.  Are they teaching the whole Word of God or twisting the parts that aren't politically correct so that everyone can feel accepted and uncondemned? This isn't a buffet.  God doesn't make it when we order it.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, the will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. (2 Tim. 2: 3-4)

As far back as forever ago and as far forward as infinitude.  God is unchanging as is His instruction book for how we must live.

As my beloved Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa) once said (and I paraphrase):  "If you want to feel good about your sin and attend a church that helps you to feel good about your sin, then you'll feel good all the way to hell." (Emphasis mine.)

Just 'cause it sounds nice and welcoming doesn't mean it is.

For all the heretics and "tolerance" police who may be reading this:  I'm sure you are ready to accuse me of bigotry and narrow-mindedness.
"Enter through the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.  How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.
Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves."  (Matthew 7:13-15) 
I'll stick to the narrow path.  Because life is a vapor and not worthy to be compared to eternity, and so my soul is firmly set on an eternal perspective and not on pleasing the whims of the latest philosophical craze.

And I'll battle wolves in the meantime.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"Let him go. He's a big boy."

Personal responsibility.
Something I apparently push on everyone else but don't trust my own children with.

I hover,
I instruct,
I nit-pick.

We attended a memorial yesterday for my beloved great Uncle Bill.  It was at an Episcopalian church and so I prepped the boys beforehand with what to expect and brought along some quiet activities to keep idle hands and minds busy and to avoid the squirmies.

Later in the reception hall, Brandon wanted to get some food, but I was mid-conversation with a newly acquainted distant cousin, and so I implored him to wait.  This cousin said to me, "Let him go.  He's a big boy."  And then turning to both boys, she said, "Get a napkin and put a couple of things on it and bring it back to the table."

I guess I could have been offended that she was so forward, or angry that she stepped in front of the Mama Grizzly but I only pondered the moment and realized that she was right and I can't hover over them forever and expect them to make good decisions on their own and to do things properly and respectfully on their own.  Sure, my immediate thoughts were, "Oh no! What if they spill some thing or touch every little piece of food before they settle on the one they want?  What if they cut and push their way to the front?"  But, I said, "Don't handle all the food, but pick up the first thing you touch and take it with you."

Why am I such a control freak over my kids in public?
Because I want their safety and I want to monitor their behavior.  But, I think mostly because of my pride.  I want them to be well-behaved so I don't look like a neglectful mother.  Yuck!

So, off both boys went.  I observed that Si waited patiently for his turn at the table and Brandon returned to tell me, "Mommy, there was a lady in a wheelchair and she couldn't reach the cheese or the bread, so I got it for her."

Not only were they totally fine, but they had the opportunity to model good manners and service.

This was a good lesson for me to learn.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

drive and pray

I love You, Jesus.  I deeply love Your word.  You are the Word!  Hallelujah!  I love that I can come to You at any given moment.  Thank You for being my Healer.  Thank You for being my everything! 

Driving home tonight over the mountains and listening to Casting Crowns, Cindy Morgan, Toby Mac, the Gaither Vocal Band...  I was completely overwhelmed with love for Jesus that I was brought to tears.  He is too wonderful for words and so this post falls so desperately short.

Monday, April 25, 2011

equally yoked: it ain't just for marriage anymore

This post does not have the article in its entirety.  I have only taken sections of it.  Mostly for my own reference about the "inclusive" mentality so many religions are attempting to attain in our current culture.

Based on an "inclusive" religious Thanksgiving service put on by an organization called Mission Mississippi, this article addresses Hinduism, but any false religion is applicable.:

How inclusive should Christians be?  (by Ed Vitagliano, AFA Journal staff writer) 
But give thanks to whom?  For Christians, what is the purpose of a Thanksgiving service if not to give thanks to Jehovah through Jesus Christ?  And if Christians are giving thanks to the God of the Bible, why are they including the followers of false religions?  Hindus aren't thanking Jesus.  And if we are not giving thanks to Almighty God, then why go through the motions of pretending we are?
But why should a religious service be inclusive, when the participating religions themselves are mutually exclusive?  For example, Christianity and Hinduism hold to mutually exclusive views of God, man, sin, and salvation.  While participation in a joint religious service might be inclusive, what the practitioners are actually doing is just the opposite.  Each representative is praying to a separate god in defiance - and denial - of the other deity.  To pretend this is inclusion is just that - pretense.  More fearfully, it is the embrace of a spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:1-3) precisely because Hindus deny Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul warned Christians to avoid situations in which they were "bound together with unbelievers" (2 Corinthians 6:14).  While many Christians rightfully relate this passage to questions of interpersonal relationships - should a Christian, for example, marry an unbeliever - that is not the primary application of Paul's warning.  The apostle's admonition is zeroed on religious and spiritual cooperation.
 "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord.
Now, agreeing to disagree with the practitioners of other religions is fine.  The First Amendment right of every person to free exercise of religious expression is a wonderful privilege.  We can respect that and should tolerate other religions.
Taken from the AFA Journal, February 2011  

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

taught to pray by an unbeliever

An unbelieving woman taught me the priority of prayer.

My fondest memories of bedtime were in the upstairs bedroom of my grandparent's house.  Two twin beds with white bedspreads and clean, crisp, cool sheets.  Walls papered in pink and white with large, happy sunflowers.  Collections of playful nick-nacks in the shelved headboard.  Grandma tucked my sister and I each tightly in our beds so we could barely move "cozy, ozy, ozy," she would say.  She then sat on the edge of one of our beds and led us in prayer.  One I imagine she prayed as a little girl and took the liberty of altering.
"Now I lay me down to sleep.  I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  God bless (and here the long list from the hearts little girls could go on forever) Mommy, Aunt Toby, Uncle Troy, Uncle Todd, Gramma, Grandpa, Ingrid (their dog), my teacher, my best friend... (until Gramma finally decided, 'Honey, let's just say, "God bless everybody,"' probably so she wouldn't be trapped in the sunflower bedroom for an hour while we listed every person we ever knew that we wanted God to bless.) Amen."
And so an unsaved woman (hopefully not so today as I trust her to have been safely welcomed into the arms of Jesus from her deathbed) taught me to always, always pray before bed and before mealtimes.  And I am thankful for this lesson in what's important.

The other night I saw an interview with Andrew Breitbart and he said that our culture by default is liberal.  Though this is definitely true today, it wasn't always so.  My Grandmother, not a Christian in reality, was a morally conservative by default...because the culture in which she was raised was a God-fearing one.  I often sarcastically joke that if you're born in America or eat a hamburger, then you must be a this was the mentality of many Americans for so long.  This is not wholly true any longer.  Now, if you are born American, you are an immoral liberal by default.  That is the setting for which we fall into.  Which is indeed what scripture says of those who do not follow Jesus.  You are either for Him or against Him.  There is no complacent or neutral place in the middle. (Rev. 3:16)  I have quoted it many times and here it comes again: "In the absence of Biblical conviction, people will go the way of culture." (Sally Clarkson)
To the credit of those previous generations who claimed to be Christian but in actuality were not, at least they deeply desired goodness, truth, and morality which resulted in a blessed society.   Why did they have this foundation?  Because prayer and Bible were a regular part of their day as they were growing up.  Removing these two pillars has only resulted in a culture of relativism (everyone doing what is right in their own eyes), destruction (a million unborn per year murdered), irresponsibility and passing the blame, an entitlement mentality, and a rampantly bold flaunting of the most horrific sins of men...and pride therein.
"Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall."  
~Proverbs 16:18

I recently read that, though people aren't turning to God in droves, there is becoming a greater contrast between light and darkness in our culture. This means that those following righteousness and truth are following it boldly and not lukewarmly.  I think this is incredibly encouraging that people of Jesus aren't just getting in by the skin of their teeth, but are committing with full devotion with their heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This is what changes a generation for real.

Let us not settle for mediocre.  We have a greater purpose in Him!  We must influence others toward righteousness and eternal bliss by lovingly exposing them to the deep, deep love of Jesus.

"All great change in America and (if I may add) the world begins at the dinner table." ~Ronald Reagan (...and a teeny bit of me)

Bless you,

Saturday, April 16, 2011


hate that word...

...because we instantly correlate it with irresponsible, self-absorbed, mindless lemmings.  But, really, is this all we can rationally expect from these that will be the motor of society in a matter of a few years?

I read this article the other day at our prayer meeting and HAD to share it!  How many times have I had this conversation?  The low standards we hold for our teens is absolutely hideous.  Let's change this.
I'm so thankful for the Do Hard Things movement that the Harris brothers are pursuing, and for wonderful youth pastors like our own Ryan and Megan Lynn who challenge teens to transition into adulthood as responsible, deep-thinking souls.  Well done.  Let's have this same mind as we raise our own children.

Rebuilding the Foundations
John Stonestreet, Executive Director at Summit Ministries

As parents, teachers, and mentors we spend a lot of time worrying whether Christian students like church, or whether they think of Jesus as their best friend, or whether they know the proper way to behave in various situations.  This is understandable, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the emerging generation is not willing to accept or defend the important values that Christianity espouses.  Why is this the case? 

Dr. Christian Smith, professor of sociology at Notre Dame, has spent much of the last decade researching teens and young adults. His conclusion about the emerging generation is simple: many young people are relativists.  In other words, while they may hold strong personal convictions about moral issues, they ultimately "view morality as a personal,relative affair."  Is this the good news or the bad news?

My experience working with Christian students suggests that Smith is right.  I often hear students describe their personal commitments to Christ, while clearly not understanding the implication of a Biblical worldview and its demands on their life and commitments.

How is it that students so deeply engrossed in church culture and with more access to the Bible, Christian literature, youth programs, and other resources than any generation that has lived since the founding of the church, can be so confused about what Christianity actually is and why it matters?

The age of information presents two unique challenges to this generation of students.  First, they encounter daily an overwhelming amount of information.  Students today swim in a deluge of information.  Of course, information isn't neutral; it contains argues or embodies ideas.  So even if students have heard the truth, there is often an inability to find it amidst all the noise and distraction.

Second, they experience this information, with the inherent ideas, differently than previous generations.  Information today (especially via the internet) comes without context, without a clear source, and often without supporting arguments.  This creates a crisis of authority and trust.

Third, addiction to entertainment has destroyed their ability to think and prioritize.  Many students' lives are full of the trivial.  They care about irrelevant things, and ignore what is actually important.  Unfortunately, the Christian community often responds by heaping "Christian" noise on the rest of the noise.  Attempting to be "relevant" to students, we often contribute to their appetites for distraction.

Students must be given the foundation of discernment upon which to build their lives.  ONly with discernment can they hold on to the true and important in a culture of lies and triviality.

In virtually every other culture in the history of the world prior to late 20th century Western culture, kids became adults.  Not anymore.  Now, they become teenagers or, as we call them, adolescents.  But it's not working.

Despite its rather recent history, adolescence goes largely unquestioned.  It is fully expected that students will lose their minds from ages 13-18.  "Kids will be kids," we say. Only, we aren't referring to kids, we are talking about those who buy, vote, and drive automobiles.

Further, the grip of adolescence continues to forcefully expand.  On the front end, we now talk about "pre-teens."  On the back end, whereas eighteen was once considered the end of adolescence, it is now the middle.  Adolescence now refers to ages 11 to 30.

But, that's not all.  Adolescence is now, and this must not be missed, the goal of our culture.  Somewhere along the way, we ceased to be a culture where kids aspire to be adults and became a culture where adults aspire to be kids.

Often, our approaches to students sanctify adolescence.  Teenagers have the capacity to think deeply and broadly about their culture, confront evil and injustice, and champion the truth.  We've learned at Summit Ministries that students love to be challenged and will rise to embrace a strong vision for lie and impact.

There are central battlegrounds of worldviews in every culture: Darwinism in the late 1800's, the reliability of Scripture in the early to mid 20th century, and truth in the late 20th century.  While these issues are still very important, most of the contemporary worldview battles are rooted in a basic disagreement of what it means to be and live as human.

Today's students enter a world of runaway biotechnology, postmodern social constructions of gender, virtual online identities, family redefinition, distorted understandings of beauty, and multiple sexual orientations, each of which fundamentally challenge our concept of humanness.  Further, a culture in which atheistic Darwinism is embedded, Scripture is trivialized, and truth relativized leaves few stable resources to assist students in negotiating this corporate identity crisis.

At the same time, clear teaching on what it means to be human (i.e. imago dei) is largely neglected in the church, which renders Christian students incapable of confronting key cultural battles of our day.  In fact, they are often susceptible to the lies that have taken the culture captive.

The battle of ideas is the battle over definitions.  Assuming either that our prized definitions do not need to be clarified and defended carefully to this generation is a mistake with significant consequence.  Among the more crucial words needing careful definition today include God, human, truth, faith, Gospel, Kingdom, evil, tolerance, male, female, pro-life, justice, poverty, marriage, family, freedom, rights, responsibility, and the good life.

The students that I work with often don't understand the issues that many  think are of vital importance to our faith and culture.  It is vital that we give reasons why we take the stands we take.  Also students need to be challenged to defend their own positions. ASking students, "What do you mean by that?" is a way to help them think more carefully and create profitable dialogue.

Perhaps you have heard that young Christians are abandoning conservative beliefs in truth and Scripture, and aren't willing to take a stand on classic culture-war issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.  If we are to expect them to take stands for truth, we must equip them to take stands for truth by rebuilding the foundations of not only what to believe but why to believe it and how to defend it.

John Stonestreet's passion is to illuminate a Biblical worldview for today's culture.  He's a speaker, writer, cultural commentator, and collaborator of worldview initiatives for the Colson Center for Christian Worldview ( and Summit Ministries(  You can find his daily one-minute worldview commentary on radio nationwide or online at 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

a new perspective

The Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
I am detouring off my regular morning quiet time to write instead.  This was the first passage in my study today about "gentleness," one of the fruit of the Spirit (Beth Moore's Living Beyond Yourself study into the fruit of the Spirit is wonderful).  It confounded me because I so often find myself in conversations with those that oppose me - whether it be over Biblical or political/moral convictions.

First of all, let me clearly state that what I believe isn't just some far-fetched idea that has no standing.  Faith in God is certain, it is unchanging, it is firm, it is enduring because He is certain, unchanging, firm, and enduring.  His Word (the Bible) is solid.  I may change my mind about many things in my lifetime, but God does not change.  Politics, social issues, and our culture may change and evolve, but God tells us what to think of such things as the value of life, homosexuality, freedom, bondage, etc.  And if I am standing firm on His eternal, unchanging way, then my stance will not waiver...even if the cultural tide changes.  So much of the world is blown about with different "winds of doctrine." (Eph. 4:14)  We change our ideas as the wind changes.  Some think this ever-evolving, "tolerant" (of all things except the one true God) relativism is the way to go, but I choose to think for myself and to cling to that which I know that I know that I know:

  • God, 
  • absolute truth as defined in His holy and enduring Word, 
  • freedom because Jesus has set us free (Gal. 5:1),
  • life deeply valuable because God has created men and women in His image,
  • the incredible effectiveness of a husband and wife family as the foundation of society.

In the words of the great Del Tackett: "Do you really believe that what you really believe is really real?"  (If you haven't seen The Truth Project yet, purpose in your heart to see it.  Ask to show it in your church.)

So, as I read this passage this morning, I am so encouraged to see God address in His holy scriptures how to deal with those who oppose us (just as He addresses all that concerns us - "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through Him who called us by His own glory and goodness" ~2 Ptr. 1:3).  With those that oppose me, I must be gentle and kind, able to teach and not resentful.  Ok, so I am not always gentle, kind, able to teach or un-resentful...but I want to be.  I must check the motive of my heart.  Do I just want to be right, or do I want to gently teach others to walk in truth and righteousness for the sake of their eternal souls?  The very fact that verses 25 & 26 say these words encourages me greatly: " the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will."
Wow!  There is hope!  How often do I forget that the whole world is under the sway of the evil one?  "For we battle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  (Eph. 6:12)  Yes!  It is true!  Those who are relentless in the destruction of the unborn and deceptively re-word their cause as "women's rights," those who destroy the family and the God-ordained (He is after all incomprehensibly wiser than us with our little pea brains) role of men and women --- folks who fight tooth and nail for these hideous affairs are under the influence of the most wickedly evil being ever to exist.  But greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world.  (1 Jn. 4:4)  Pray that God will grant them knowledge of the truth, to come to their senses, and escape the death grip the devil has on their lives.  We all are a slave to someone.  If we aren't serving God, then we are serving satan.
There is no walking the fence.
There is no neutral.
There is no middle ground.

Of course, I know this.  But to realize that God could lift the veil and enlighten them to the truth often alludes me...not because I think He can't do it, but because people have hardened their hearts so stubbornly against Him that He gives them over to their lusts, their uncleanness, and the dishonoring of their bodies. (Rom. 1: 24)  BUT GOD can turn a life 180 degrees.  

So, let's be kind, gentle, un-resentful, humble teachers praying at all times for the miraculous work of God in the hearts and minds of a world deceived by the enemy of our souls.  We aren't fighting each other, we are fighting an unseen and desperately wicked being.  How many times have we heard and said, "Love the sinner, hate the sin" ?

Look at the next passage in 2 Timothy
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power....
Well, I can put a check mark by all those adjectives, can you?

Look up for your redemption draws near (Lk. 21:28).  In the meantime, let love, kindness and gentleness rule in your heart and thus in your conversation ("For out of the abundance of the heart does the mouth speak." -Mt. 12:34) in the glorious hope that truth will reign in souls destined for eternal loss so that they may be eternally delivered; so that in this world babies will be valued and granted life; so that those who follow truth will raise a generation of truth-lovers and world-changers.

Let's see those who oppose us in a new perspective today.  Lost, wickedly influenced, deeply loved of God, in the image of their Creator.  And let's be instant in prayer for them, and for us to respond well.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Proverbs 15:1)
Thanks for sitting in on my Bible study this morning. :)
Bless you,

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Planned Parenthood stats I just came across

Chew on this:

  • More than 324,000 innocent lives are killed every year by this, America's largest abortion provider.
  • Last year, PP received $363 million from taxpayers (yes, that means you!) - more than 1/3  of its total budget.

Seems like someone needs to be defunded.  

As I recently wrote to a friend, "Taxpayers who are religiously and morally against abortion should not be forced to pay for it.  If I pay for the death of someone, I am a murderer. By using taxpayer dollars to fund Planned Parenthood, I am being forced to sin.  I have enough sin and mistakes to worry about without having the government force me into it."

(Stats from Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee)