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God’s Word Is Enough!

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In the mid-1900s there was a battle taking place among Christians concerning the Bible.  I remember reading Harold Lindsell’s book, The Battle for the Bible, in 1978.  Lindsell’s book addressed the issue that was at the heart of the battle at the time – the inerrancy of Scripture.  Bible scholar, J. Otis Yoder, summed up the importance of inerrancy this way.

Biblical inerrancy means the Bible contains no error. It is without error in faith and fact. If we have the self-disclosure of the holy God, it cannot be mixed with error. Error and truth cannot be contained in the same document which claims to be a self-disclosure of a holy, righteous God. If error is mixed with truth, then that is deception which violates the character of God.

The reason this was so important is that there were those in Christianity who claimed that the Bible was infallible but not necessarily inerrant.  The Bible was believed to be true and without error when it speaks to spiritual matters, but may contain mistakes in other matters such as geology, history, or science.

Lindsell argued that if the Bible was inspired by God it had to be inerrant.  He wrote,

However limited may have been their knowledge, and however much they erred when they were not writing sacred Scripture, the authors of Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were preserved from making factual, historical, scientific, or other errors . . . God the Holy Spirit by nature cannot lie or be the author of untruth. If the Scripture is inspired at all it must be infallible.

Over the past couple of decades, I have witnessed another battle over the Bible slowly percolating among many Christians.  This battle is not over inerrancy but over the sufficiency of Scripture.  Sufficiency of Scripture is primarily based on these two passages.

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (KJV)

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Jude 1:3 (KJV)

Piper puts it this way.

In other words, the Scriptures are sufficient in the sense that they are the only (“once for all”) inspired and (therefore) inerrant words of God that we need, in order to know the way of salvation (“make you wise unto salvation”) and the way of obedience (“equipped for every good work”).

When one believes that the Bible is sufficient, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to read anything else to live our lives.  It means that we don’t and can’t find any more special revelation.  Again, John Piper sums it up by writing,

We don’t need any more inspired, inerrant words. In the Bible God has given us, we have the perfect standard for judging all other knowledge.

It is Piper’s last statement that I see at the crux of this battle over the sufficiency of Scripture.  God’s Word is the perfect, final standard for judging all other knowledge.  This means that we must look at all other knowledge through the lens of the inspired, inerrant Word of God.

A subtle shift has taken place in Christianity here in North America that I am very concerned about.  It is very similar to the shift that took place in American education over the years.  This shift was captured in a chart that I included in my book, Kingdom Education.  You will find a portion of that chart below.

In the early days of American education, ultimate truth was found in the Bible.  Any human reasoning that was taught was always in subjection to God’s Word.  Then, a subtle shift started taking place.  The Bible and human reason became equally important in determining truth.  Later, human reasoning became the primary source of finding truth and the Bible was seen as a secondary source.  Today, truth is determined by the individual and his/her experience.  If it isn’t experienced by the individual, then it isn’t true!

This same thing is happening in today’s church.  The Bible, on its own, is no longer being seen as what is needed to understand life and how to live it.  God’s Word is not sufficient; we must look to other sources in order to really understand truth.

Again, I am not proposing that we don’t need to read and study other books.  I am saying that the Bible must be seen as the only perfect standard for judging all other knowledge.  Any other books must always be interpreted through the truth of Scripture.  We should never use man’s wisdom to interpret the Bible.

However, there are growing instances taking place that indicate that the church does not really believe that the Bible is sufficient.  In order to understand the physical universe’s origin, we have to add evolution to the biblical account of creation.  One organization says its mission is to invite the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation.

There is a growing tendency to turn to such things as Critical Theory and books like, White Fragility, to deal with the sin of prejudice.  However, God’s Word is sufficient to teach us that God has created each and every person as an image bearer of Himself.  One’s gender, color of skin, family, etc. are all an act of a sovereign God, who is not a respecter of persons.

Even in Christian education, the temptation is to take research, or the latest methodology and then add the Bible to it in an effort to justify it.  Instead, we should build our educational philosophy and practice on the truth of God’s Word.  Then, we can evaluate data, best practices and curriculum through the lens of the sufficiency of Scripture.

If I really believe that the Bible is the inspired infallible, inerrant, sufficient Word of God, it, alone, provides me with everything I need to love God and love other people as I live to glorify Him in all I think, say and do.  Again, let me refer what Paul wrote to young Timothy.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousnessThat the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (KJV)

Warren Wiersbe explains this so well when he wrote that the Bible is profitable for what is right (doctrine), what is wrong (reproof), how to get right (correction), and how to stay right (instruction in righteousness).  If I believe this, then I can go to God’s Word and address any and every issue that I might face in this sinful world I live in.

It is not enough to believe that the Bible is inspired and, therefore, inerrant.  We must be convinced that it is sufficient and all we need to equip us for a life of faith and service.  The question for each of us is this.  Is the Bible enough?

God Is AT Work!

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I have never lived through a time when evil is more evident than I have seen over the past few years. Society is under attack like never before in my lifetime.  Consider what we are witnessing each and every day in our country.

  • Anarchy
  • Rebellion
  • Political partisanship at an all-time high
  • Destruction of private and government property
  • Defunding of police
  • Threatening, harming and even killing innocent people because of the color of their skin
  • Rioting and looting without any accountability and consequence
  • Child sexual exploitation as seen in “Cuties”. People are supporting this vileness as being good and moral.
  • Religious freedom is eroding each and every day

When I shared this with KEM’s senior associates, Luke Bowers reminded me that this shouldn’t surprise us considering what Paul wrote to young 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. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV)

We are definitely witnessing these verses becoming a reality.  Because of this increase in evil, Paul challenged Timothy to,

…continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NKJV)

In times like these, we must follow this same counsel.  We must continue in the things that we have learned from Scripture.  Paul went on to make sure his son in the faith understood the complete sufficiency of God’s Word.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NKJV)

God’s Word is sufficient as it instructs us as to what is right, what is wrong, how to get right and how to stay right.  Therefore, I continue to be optimistic because I know that God IS at work.  Notice I didn’t say that I believe God is starting to work.  No, God IS at work and He always has been, fulfilling His plan for mankind.

What I am excited about is seeing how God IS at work –- especially in the education of future generations.  Through all of the chaos and confusion I am seeing certain points of light beginning to shine on the horizon.  These include:

  • An awakening by many parents of the dangerous things that have happened and are increasingly happening in secular education.
  • Parents are more interested in and demanding more school choice be made available to them.
  • An increase in the number of parents who have chosen to homeschool their children this year.
  • Renewanation launched its virtual school, IlumenEd, with over 100 students. This virtual school is very intentional in making sure all instruction is from a biblical worldview foundation.
  • Christian publishers such as BJ Press developing quality, biblically integrated textbooks to support biblical worldview education.
  • ACSI is preparing to launch a new model for professional staff development in Christian schools through its Flourishing School Institutes.

God IS AT WORK!  I have been sharing with you in recent blogs how God has been leading Kingdom Education Ministries to be more intentional in equipping the body of Christ to disciple future generations through kingdom education.

I have been so excited about the fresh mission that God has given KEM to TRANSFORM individuals, EMPOWER the home, ENGAGE the church and TRANSFORM schools.  As KEM pushes forward to achieve this mission, I envision seeing future generations equipped to create a kingdom culture in their homes, churches and communities so that life will be viewed through lens of Scripture and, thus, bring glory to God.

This is why I am thrilled to announce an upcoming event for Christians who want to see God raise up a new generation of Christ-followers who will turn their world upside down for Him.  July 7-9, 2021 are the dates for the first Kingdom Education Summit.  This event will be hosted by Word of God Ministries in Shreveport, LA.

I am praying that a group of church and Christian school leaders will gather together around the theme, Teaching the Next Generation to Know God.  It is time for the home, church and school to rethink education from a totally biblical perspective.

If you have ever had the experience of climbing to the summit of a mountain, you were no doubt taken in by the majestic view of God’s creation from this high vantage point.  From a summit, one can see all the pieces that make up the big picture.  This is goal of the Kingdom Education Summit.

Pastors, church leaders, school administrators, board members and individual Christians who want to catch a glimpse of God’s plan for educating future generations will dig into Scripture and address the issue of education biblically.  This will be a time to not only see God’s big picture for education future generations but also the role that individuals, parents, church leaders and educators need to play.

Together, we will dissect the 14 biblical principles of kingdom education to see how these apply to the education that takes place at home, church and school.  The goal of the Summit is to begin to develop strategies that parents, church leaders and educators can embrace to be more intentional in making disciples of all nations.

So, mark your calendars and pray about being part of this historical event.  I will be sharing more details about the Kingdom Education Summit over the next several weeks.  Registration will begin with the start of the new year.  Join me in praying for a reformation to take place as we rethink education from a biblical perspective.

Transforming Schools

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I have been sharing a fresh mission statement that God laid on my heart several weeks ago.  This mission statement provides Kingdom Education Ministries with a focus for what God wants to accomplish through KEM in the future.  The focus of KEM is to:

RESTORE individuals, EMPOWER the home, ENGAGE the church and TRANSFORM the school through Kingdom Education

This week I want to explain what KEM will strive to accomplish with Christian schools.  First, it is important to understand that when I use the term education, I am not equating it with schooling.  Education is a multi-faceted process that primarily takes place in three institutions, the home, church and school.  This process is future-focused as it strives to prepare children and youth for life and eternity.

In today’s culture, the school plays a significant role in the educational process.  Young people will spend more than 14,000 hours in school during their K-12 years.  This greatly exceeds the number of hours that they will spend at church during these same years.  Therefore, there needs to be an intentional, ongoing effort to make sure the schools our children and youth attend are grounded in kingdom education.

What are some of the specific things that KEM wants to do in its effort to TRANSFORM schools?  When one thinks about the word TRANSFORM, a familiar verse in Scripture comes to mind.

And be not conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

In the original language, the term TRANSFORM means to “change from one condition to a new form.”  In this verse, it speaks to the need to TRANSFORM one’s mind, the way one thinks.  This is the burden that God has laid on my heart concerning Christian schools.  It is my desire to see a change in how Christian educators think about education.

However, the effort can’t be to change their thinking about education in a lot of different ways.  It must be aimed at “rethinking” education from a biblical perspective.  This is why KEM’s focus is on TRANSFORMING schools through kingdom education.

Why did Paul urge Christians to be transformed by the renewing of their minds?  It was to prove what God’s will was for their lives.  I believe this must be the motivation KEM has in its effort to TRANSFORM schools.  The primary goal is to see schools develop a strong, biblical philosophy of education that determines all that takes place at a school.  It is my desire to equip the next generation of Christian teachers to be able to answer the question, why schooling?, biblically.  I want to see Christian schools know and fulfill God’s will for their existence.

 

It has been exciting to see how many Christian school leaders and teachers have embraced the phrase kingdom education since the release of my book in 1998.  I often read about a school stating that it is a kingdom education school.  Individuals identify themselves as proponents and leaders of kingdom education.  My fear has always been that kingdom education would merely become a buzz word with little thought to its true meaning.  When someone states a commitment to kingdom education, then others will define the phrase for themselves by what they see the individual or the school, making such a claim, is and does.

True kingdom education is not so much about methodology as it is about a specific philosophy.  The foundation of my book is based on the biblical principles that I have found in Scripture that tell Christians why God wants them to educate their children and youth biblically.

If anyone or any school claims to believe in and support kingdom education, that person or school must live out the biblical principles from which the phrase gets its meaning.  Otherwise they are just stating platitudes with no real substance.

KEM’s efforts to TRANSFORM schools is to guide school leaders to change from merely using the term, kingdom education, to embodying the 14 biblical principles in their schools’ DNA.  As we fleshed out this fresh mission, we explained that we strive to TRANSFORM Christian schools by challenging educators to know, understand and embrace kingdom education (14 biblical principles).

It is KEM’s conviction that when this happens, along with RESTORING individuals, EMPOWERING the home, and ENGAGING the church, we will see future generations equipped to create a kingdom culture that views life through the lens of Scripture and, thus, bring glory to God.  I will soon be sharing an exciting event that we are planning where we will launch this effort to rethink education from a biblical perspective.  

The Church

By | Public Blog, Uncategorized

Over the past few weeks I have been sharing with you the fresh vision God has given me for Kingdom Education Ministries.  With each passing day I become more convinced that God is calling KEM to:

RESTORE individuals, EMPOWER the home, ENGAGE the church and TRANSFORM schools through kingdom education.

One of the burdens on my heart is to see pastors and church leaders ENGAGED through kingdom education.  The truth is that the vast majority of pastors have been disengaged when it comes to how God wants His people to educate future generations.  It is time that we must get them ENGAGED.

Webster defines the term engage as to gain; to win and attache; to draw to; to unite.  It is vital that we ENGAGE the church in the battle that is raging for the hearts and the minds of the next generation.  It is my prayer to see pastors drawn to and united in the cause of providing our children and youth with a biblical worldview education.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed parents and educators ignore the church when it comes to Christian education.  The argument has been that since pastors don’t support and promote our Christian school or our efforts to home school, we will just bypass them completely.  We forget that the church is the bride of Christ and it is ordained as God’s institution to take the gospel into a lost and dying world.

When I have encouraged parents and school leaders to try and get pastors ENGAGED in kingdom education, they usually try to “market” their school to the pastors of the area.  Pastors are asked to support a certain school or allow information about a school to be given out to church members.

This puts pastors in a very challenging position because there are church members who teach in secular schools and there are those who home school their children.  The pastor feels like he is in between a rock and a hard place.  If he supports one type of schooling, will he automatically offend everyone else who wants him to support another type of schooling.

This is why we carefully worded this fresh mission statement.  It is my desire to ENGAGE the church through kingdom education.  Allow me to remind you that kingdom education only takes place when God reigns as king in the entire educational process of young people.  It is not merely about where a child goes to school.  This is because education takes place in the home, church and school.  God wants to reign in the entire process whether it takes place at home or church or school.

This is why I believe that there are two ways that the church can be ENGAGED.  The first way is to encourage pastors and church leaders to address the issue of education biblically.  Church leaders need to be ENGAGED in studying God’s Word and see what it has to say about educating children.

Passages like Deuteronomy 6, Psalm 78, Psalm 127, Ephesians 6 need to be studied and applied consistently to the entire educational process of leading our children to the Lord and then discipling them in the Lord.  As I have studied Scripture, God has shown me 14 biblical principles that tell parents, church leaders and teachers how He wants them to educate future generations.  You may click HERE to see these principles.

 

The second way that pastors can be ENGAGED through kingdom education is to help them understand that parents have been given a mandate from God to educate their children in the Lord.  However, most parents are not equipped to fulfill their God-mandated assignment.  The church must step up to the plate and help parents understand that God holds them accountable for how their children are educated. Then the church must partner with parents in equipping them for the task.

I am convinced that the biggest obstacle to ENGAGING the church through kingdom education is the fact that so many pastors have developed a dualistic worldview.  They have divided life up into the secular and sacred compartments; most of the time this has taken place subconsciously.

One evidence of this reality is seen by what church leaders would and would not allow taught in their churches to young people.  Most pastors would not allow such things as evolution or gender dysphoria taught in their children and youth programs. However, they are silent about this being taught in the schools these same young people attend.  We must ENGAGE the church to understand that Christianity is a complete worldview that addresses all of life as a whole.  Nancy Pearcey says it this way.

We have to insist on presenting Christianity as a comprehensive, unified worldview that addresses all of life and reality.  It is not just religious truth but total truth.  Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey

If we are going to be successful in raising future generations to know God and think and act from a biblical worldview, we must ENGAGE the church.  I will be announcing an effort that God has laid on our hearts here at KEM to do exactly this in the very near future.  Stay tuned!

Whom or What Are We Seeking?

By | Public Blog, Uncategorized

July was a challenging time for me as I took some time off from writing my weekly blog.  It was a month when I spent a great deal of time alone with the Lord and in His Word.  During my quiet time, I began a study of the Old Testament prophets.  Every day I poured over the books of the prophets from Isaiah to Malachi.  It is challenging to read about what these men of God were called to do and the persecution that they encountered by being obedient to God’s call on their lives.

As I read through each of the these books, I saw several key themes repeated over and over again.

  1. God’s lovingkindness is everlasting.
  2. God is patient and long-suffering, not wanting anyone to perish.
  3. God constantly pursues His children and warns them repeatedly when judgement is coming.

In the writings of the prophets, I saw many parallels to what we are facing in our country today.  I must admit that as I read through this portion of Scripture, I did so with fear and trembling.  The realization that God is immutable and He will judge His people today if they are unfaithful captivated my thinking throughout the month.

Through all of this, God led me to do three things: reflectremember and repent.  During times of reflection, my mind went back to the day when God called me out of secular education into Christian education.  Those were some interesting and challenging days.

Reflecting back on those first days in Christian education, I focused on remembering what God did in my life and how He began to guide me into what would eventually become Kingdom Education Ministries.  I must admit, things were very different in Christian schools then than they are now.

There were two characteristics that were commonly found in Christian schools back then.  One was an excitement to be involved in this ministry and an anticipation of what God was going to do in our lives and the lives of our students.  The second characteristic I remember seeing was a spirit of total dependency on God concerning every aspect of the work we had been called into.

Some of the challenges facing us in the early days of the movement included:

  • poor facilities
  • lack of resources
  • no technology
  • teacher certification and school accreditation programs weren’t in place
  • low wages

Because of these conditions, along with other equally challenging obstacles, we were required to depend daily on God’s presence, provision and power.  There was an every-day awareness that if God didn’t work on our behalf, we would not only fail but, most likely, cease to exist.

One of the first books I read when I went into Christian education was Dr. Roy Zuck’s, Spiritual Power in Your Teaching.  God used that book to remind me that without Him I could do absolutely nothing.  I needed God’s Spirit to guide me when planning a lesson, presenting it to the students and giving the lesson its God-intended meaning.

One of the blessings of being involved in Christian education in those early years was how the entire staff started each day in a time of Bible study and prayer.  Early each morning the staff gathered for devotions.  This time was not one when someone merely shared a passage of Scripture and we prayed and asked God to bless our day.

These were times when we earnestly sought God’s presence.  We knew that we were incapable of fulfilling His calling on our lives if His Spirit didn’t fill us afresh each and every morning.  We didn’t have anything to rely on other than Him.

As I reflected on and remembered these things, God also reminded me of a warning He gave to the Israelites as they were preparing to go in and possess the Promised Land.

So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  Deuteronomy 6:10-12 (NKJV)

As I meditated on these verses, I became burdened for today’s generation of Christian educators.  There is no doubt in my mind that they love the Lord and believe that God has called them into Christian education.  However, I am fearful that they work in modern facilities that they did not build and classrooms that are full of all good things.  They have resources that are from wells they did not dig and they harvest grapes and olives off of plants that they did not plant.

With all that God has given to Christian educators today, have we forgotten Him?  I don’t mean that we don’t think about God but have we lost that sense of dependency that was the driving force in Christian schools back in the early 1970s?  Have we taken for granted all of the blessings that are ours today as we begin the start of a new school year?  Will staffs meet with God every morning and seek Him with all their hearts and souls?  Or are we dependent on our facilities, programs, technology, advanced degrees, certification, accreditation etc. to get us through each day?  Will we enter each day with the realization that without abiding fully in Christ we can and will accomplish absolutely nothing?

Through this season of reflecting and remembering, God has called me to repent.  I have had to turn from my self-sufficiency and confess that I have not depended fully on God to lead me each and every day.

When I see all that is going on in the world today, I am burdened for God’s people to return to Him.  The book of Amos had a particular impact on me as I recently studied it.  In chapter 4, God rehearses the things that He did to wake up His people.  He brought famine, drought, pestilence, fire and the sword to shake His people out of the spiritual lethargy.  However, I found these sad words repeated again and again.

Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the Lord.

Then, in chapter 5, God makes three statements that I believe are applicable to each of us today.

Seek Me and live (verse 4)

Seek the Lord and live (verse 5)

Seek good and not evil that you may live (verse 14)

Over the past four to five months what have we have sought the most?  Have we sought a cure for COVID?  Have we sought how to do virtual school better?  Have we sought the answer to rioting, murder and destruction?  Have we sought a political answer to the chaos?  How often have we sought God with all of our hearts, souls and minds?

As a new school year is fast approaching, will we seek the Lord so that we will live.  I want to encourage you to take some time, get alone with God and  reflect and remember.  When you do, you may find that, like me, you will need to repent.

Note to Christian School Educators:

I put together a short form to help Christian educators evaluate whom or what they have sought and will seek as a new school year begins. To access this form, simply click HERE.  I hope you will find this helpful.

 

We Don’t Need Reform or Do We?

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A Demand For Change

There has been a constant cry for reform in just about every area of life for as long as I can remember. Whether it pertains to government, education, or the legal system, people from all walks of life are demanding reform.  Because of the tragic death of George Floyd while in the custody of police, there is now a concerted effort for not only police reform but also the complete defunding and dismantling of police departments across the country.

The fact that people are demanding that reform take place indicates one thing.  Something is broken and not right.  Of course, we, as Christians, know that this brokenness is a result of the Fall when sin entered the world.  However, will reform efforts make a difference?

I admit that there is a very real need for change to take place in many areas of society.  I agree that training and efforts to bring about change are helpful.  Yet, the change that is needed to solve the hurts of living in a sin-filled world will not be accomplished by human reform efforts — no matter how good the intentions are.

I lost count a long time ago of students and parents meeting with me to discuss their child’s poor grades or a discipline situation.  In these meetings, the child would come in saying that he/she was sorry and that they were going to change.

I have had students, who did nothing in a class for 9 weeks and were failing, tell me that they had decided that they were going to get A’s from now on.  Others, who had behaved badly, would tell me that they were sorry and they weren’t going to misbehave again.  Listening to them, one would get the idea that these students had the ability to turn off bad habits and actions and, all of a sudden, be model students.  Unfortunately, their determination and efforts to change, even though well-intentioned, didn’t last long.

These students thought that reforming their behavior would bring about the changes that were needed.  This is the same problem that today’s reform efforts are attempting to accomplish.

We believe that with enough training and effort bad behavior and/or practices can be corrected resulting in a perfect society.  All human efforts at reform are simply man saying that to stop evil one needs only to “turn over a new leaf.”  Unfortunately, the new leaf will turn out to be just as corrupt as the old one and may even be worse.

Reform efforts go all the way back to the garden when man first sinned and disobeyed God.  Adam and Eve knew that they had done wrong and life was broken.  They tried to “fix” it.  Their reform efforts were in the form of fig leaves whereas today’s efforts take the form of training, programs and/or laws and regulations.

I am reminded of some of the reform efforts that were made after the horrific Columbine high school shootings.  Cries for reform in our schools led to several efforts to change students’ lives through instituting various “character education” programs.  One of the most common ones, that is still in effect today, was Character Counts.  Even with all this effort to reform students’ character, violence has continued to escalate in our nation’s schools and school shootings have sadly become commonplace.

Why doesn’t, or even better yet, why can’t reform efforts change things?  One reason why human reform efforts can’t work is that they are based on human reasoning and opinion.  The world’s effort to reform brokenness is based on a false belief that man can improve himself and, therefore, society.  God’s existence is ignored or, even worse, denied.

If one denies the existence of God, then there cannot be any absolute moral values to direct any effort to bring about change.  This is the case with Character Counts.  By denying that God exists, man has to define right character and that is impossible to do.

Another reason why reform efforts can’t work is that they don’t address the real source of the bad behavior or injustice.  Reform is another name for the failed concept of behavior modification.  It is an attempt to change the outward actions of an individual or a group of individuals.  For example, sensitivity and/or diversity training focus on what one thinks and acts about others with the belief that training can transform a person’s life.

I am hearing people say that what is needed to change our current condition is to have open discussion and ask hard questions about the things that are causing division in society today.  We must “understand” each other and, when that happens, we will then get along with each other.  This was the mantra after 911.  I am not opposed to having difficult conversations about real issues people are facing but that will not bring about the change that is necessary.

So, if reform isn’t the answer, what is?  The reason why reform efforts fall short of real change is because the problems we are facing are heart issues – not head  or emotional issues.  Prejudice, hate, anger, injustice, division, envy, etc. all come from within the human heart.  Jesus told the religious leaders of the day that outward reform can’t work because it doesn’t address the cause.

There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man… Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods? And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”  Mark 7:15,18-23  (NKJV)

The prophet Jeremiah also understood the wickedness of the human heart.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart… Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NKJV)

A person’s heart won’t be changed by some form of human effort.  If this were possible, Jesus wouldn’t have had to die a cruel death on the cross.  Only God can change a person’s heart.

The prophet Ezekiel knew that God was the only One who could change a person’s heart.

I [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26 (NKJV)

Only God can revive us out of the mess we are in.  Reform tries to bring about change from the outside in.  God brings real change because He does it from the inside out.

So, what is needed is revival not reform.  However, the key to revival doesn’t begin with the lost world.  It begins with me.  For revival to come and change society, it requires brokenness and repentance in my life.  David understood this like few men in history.

Only Revival Brings About Change

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)

In order for God to change my heart, I must give Him access to it.  I must humble myself and allow God to do what the Psalmist allowed Him to do in his life.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.  Psalm 139:23-24 (NKJV)

The evil that we are seeing up close in the world today is not a social issue.  Therefore, it cannot be overcome through reform.  It is a spiritual issue that will only be destroyed by revival.

Father, I ask you to search my heart and point out any sinful thoughts or desires You find.  As you show me my sin, I repent and ask your forgiveness.  Give me new heart that will cause me to see others as you see them – individuals who you have created in Your image.  Please heal our land!  In Jesus name, Amen.

My Response To Today’s Turmoil

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Lord Save Us!

First, we faced a nationwide lockdown due to COVID-19.  Then, the country exploded in protests and riots because of the senseless death of a man.  We are sitting on a powder keg that is ready to explode.  What is the answer to all of this?

I have resisted the temptation to speak about the issues facing us today as I, too, have struggled to make sense out of all of it.  There are so many voices shouting their feelings from every position imaginable.  It is my prayer that I will avoid sharing my opinions but try to approach things from a biblical perspective.

The protests, looting and rioting that are taking place all across the country are said to be reactions to the death of a man named George Floyd.  Anyone that viewed the heart-wrenching video that showed this man’s breath literally being choked out of him must condemn the actions of the men involved in his arrest.

My heart was broken by Mr. Floyd’s death and I long for justice to be served.  However, I am not grieved by this in the same manner as many others are.  Cries of racism, white supremacy, white privilege, black lives matter and police brutality have become the common narratives surrounding this senseless death.

What grieves my heart is that a person who was created in the image of God lost his life because another human being unnecessarily caused his death.  I am equally grieved to see another image bearer of God kicked in the head by a protestor that led to his death.  The same is true when I learned that a man working to secure a business lost his life.  Grief also gripped me when I read the account of a police officer being shot in the back of the head at point blank range while doing his job of protecting people and property.

 

In addition to each of the travesties, I am appalled by the murder of over 2,000 babies each day and over 700,000 each year here in the United States.  Every abortion destroys the life of an innocent image bearer of God.

Please note that I didn’t identify any of these victims by the color of his/her skin but as individuals who were each created in the image of God.  Whenever the ethnicity of a person is interjected into injury or loss of life, it seems like others justify injuring or killing of other people, as well as destroying private property.

The death of George Floyd was not tragic and horrific because a white police officer acted in a certain way towards a black man.  The same is true for the other deaths that I have mentioned.  It doesn’t matter what the color of skin the victims or the perpetrators were.  The worth and value of every human being is found in the truth that each and every person has been, is and always will be created in the image of God.  We know this to be true when we read the following passages in God’s Word.

Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them…And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.  Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7 (NKJV)

Because man is created in the image of God, God says that the shedding of innocent blood is sinful.

Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man.  Genesis 9:6 (NKJV)

We have abandoned the teaching of creation and that man was created in the image of God, imago Dei.  When one denies the existence of God, then man is merely a result of evolutionary time and chance.  Instead of one race there must be many races as various people groups evolved differently over billions of years.  One person puts it this way.

Atheistic and evolutionary worldviews teach us that events are random, our origins accidental, our lives meaningless, and tragedy inevitable. Those who close their eyes to the one true God remain blind to His divine plans and purposes.  Cameron Buettel

The evolutionary belief that there are many races is not biblical.  Therefore, trying to improve race relations, which reflects evolutionary thinking, is impossible.  Darryl Harrison states,

The term “race relations” is a misnomer. God created you and me to relate to one another by way of hearts and minds, not skin color. Melanin is passive—it cannot love or hate—but our hearts can—and do. Biblically, murder is an attitude before it is an act (1 John 2:9-11; 3:15).

I am concerned when I see and/or hear Christian leaders addressing these very real issues framed through secular ideas such as critical race theory, white privilege (or any other form of privilege), etc.  We must evaluate everything through the lens of Scripture.

God’s Word is totally sufficient to guide us into how to better “love our neighbor as ourselves.”  Recently, I saw several social media posts that gave the appearance that some church leaders are supporting the concept of “privilege”.  Here are some of the statements I have seen.

White privilege exists as a direct result of both historic and enduring racism, biases, and practices designed to oppress people of color.

White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard.  It means your skin tone isn’t one of the things making it harder!  There’s plenty of other privileges (socio-economic, male, heterosexual cisgender, Christian, able-bodied)  but white privilege is perhaps the most enduring throughout history.

Life can be hard if you’re white, but life will never be hard because you’re white. 

You’ve never been judged by the color of your skin. (A statement to a white person) 

If you consider these statements, you will find that they contradict themselves.  For example, if someone tells me that I will never be judged by the color of my skin, that person has just judged me based on my skin color.

The entire concept that someone has “privilege” because of his/her skin color or gender goes against Scripture.  If God has created me in His image (which He has), then He chose my gender and skin color.  I had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

If either of these traits cause me to be privileged, then God created me that way.  Of course, that means that I must reject Acts 10:34 when Peter preached,

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons…

The same would be true about what James said when he wrote that not treating everyone the same is sin (James 3:9).

In order to understand the senseless taking of human life, destruction of private property and the violence that we are witnessing on a daily basis, we must trace this back to its origin.  To do this, it is not sufficient to simply go back to times of slavery or to the founding of our country; which is what is commonly being done by many today.

We must go back to Genesis 3 where we find sin entering the world through the Fall of man.  In fact, the first murder that was ever recorded was committed by Cain who murdered his own brother, Abel.  “Race” played no part in this evil act.

Murder and violence are the result of the sin nature of man.  In fact, all injustices that anyone commits are the result of sin.  It is not an attitudinal or social condition.  It is a heart condition.

So, what is the solution to all of this?  The words of G. K. Chesterton come to my mind when trying to answer this question.

It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.

We must first see that the problem is spiritual and is found in the depravity of the human heart.

The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it?  Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV)

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it [are] the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV)

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21-23 (NKJV)

Once we accurately identify the problem, we can then try to find the solution.  Trying to reform a person or an organization can’t solve these problems.  We must have a heart change.  This can only be found in Jesus and the Gospel.

To biblically address the upheaval in society today is challenging because we have all been influenced by decades of secular education and thinking.  God’s existence has been ignored or, even worse, denied.  Because of this, we have raised several generations of people who do not think biblically.

Therefore, they do not know that every person has value and worth because each one was created in the image of God.  As a result, Christians have conformed to the world’s way of thinking when trying to address these important life issues and we find ourselves in turmoil.  Dr. Albert Mohler stated the following in one of his recent episodes of The Briefing.

When you deny the creation order as God has given it to us for our good and His glory, you get chaos at every turn.

We must develop a biblical worldview and, then, give our children and youth a biblical worldview education.  Without this taking place the sanctity of human life will continue to disappear from society and chaos will become more and more rampant.  Consider the words of A.W. Tozer.

When the knowledge of God began to go out of the minds of men, we got into the fix that we’re in now [Romans 1].

In whom or what are you trying to find your identity?  As Christians, we must find our identity and view the identity of each and every other person through the doctrine of imago Dei.  Then, we must identify with only one person, Jesus Christ.  I leave you with the words of pastor, Virgil “Omaha” Walker.  His challenge applies to every Christian, whether or not one is a pastor and regardless of the color of one’s skin.

There’s only one man that we’re told to identify with, and that is Jesus Christ and him crucified.  So, any identification based upon levels of melanin in the skin – where a pastor is coddling that, where a pastor is amplifying that, where a pastor is encouraging that – I’d argue that they need to repent, and turn from that behavior all together, and make sure that they are pointing their black parishioner, biblically, to Christ and him crucified.

Father, may I see every person as someone You created in Your image. Show me how to love my neighbor as I love myself.  May my life reflect Jesus no matter what circumstances I find myself in.  Bring healing and peace to our homes, churches, communities and country.  Do this for Your glory!  In Jesus name, amen.

What Will Change?

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It seems like everywhere I turn, I am finding another article, blog or podcast on how education has and will remain changed forever because of COVID-19.  There is little doubt that schooling will be done differently than it has been done for years.  It appears that schooling will include some element of virtual learning and more parents may fully turn to homeschooling their children.  The use of technology will also play a bigger role in the future of schooling young people.

Last week I was invited to participate in a webinar that Dr. Greg Jones of Forward Solutions was conducting.  In this webinar I was asked how school leaders can make a successful comeback from COVID-19.  I was also asked to share what I had experienced over the past couple of months due to this pandemic.  You can watch the full webinar here.

In responding to Dr. Jones questions, I shared my belief that it is important to not merely focus on what might change.  I believe it is even more important to focus on things that will never change and on some critical things that we cannot allow to change.

I hope that I have gained a small amount of wisdom from the 65+ years that I have been involved in schooling, both as a student and an educator.  I have witnessed a lot of changes that people said would revolutionize schooling.  If I would have focused the majority of my time and energy on those things that changed and not on the things that wouldn’t or shouldn’t change, I don’t think I would have survived.

There is no doubt about it.  Schooling will be different in the days ahead.  But that isn’t anything new.  I have shared before how privileged I was to spend the first 4 years of my schooling in a one-room school with one teacher and 8 grade levels of students.

The black slate chalk board can no longer be found in a school today.  The desks with the inkwell holes in the top are also gone.  Just about everything about the one-room schooling experience I had is completely gone!  But there are some things that are still the same and will remain no matter what other changes will take place in the future.

Allow me to make an analogy at this point.  Because of my responsibilities, I have done a lot of traveling over the years.  The total number of miles that I have flown in airplanes boggles my mind.  I well-remember how air travel changed forever after 911.  There are those long security screening lines, the rifling through one’s baggage and the all too common patting down of my body.  Air travel has definitely changed.

However, with all these changes there are some things that haven’t changed and I am thankful that they are still in place.  Air travel still needs and relies upon good pilots being at the controls.  Every airplane still needs to be designed to lift off the ground, cruise at various altitudes and safely land at the end of every flight.

The “how” of air travel is different but the “why” of flight is still constant.  The same is true of education, especially schooling.  In fact, my challenge in writing this blog is to make sure that we don’t allow certain things to change when it comes to educating our children and youth.

No matter what different methods of instruction etc. that may result from COVID-19, the need for and purpose of education must not change.  All children and youth come into life and will continue to do so in a fallen state.  They will always need to be guided into truth so that they might come to know the God of creation and to know themselves as image bearers of God.

Education must always prepare students for the future.  But not just for the temporal future of life here on earth but also for the eternal future that begins when this life ends.

So, what are the keys to success in the future?  Here are two realities that we must embrace.

  1. We must accept the fact that some things about education will be different in the future.
  2. As we prepare for the changes that will be taking place on what and how we educate future generations, we must be committed to making certain that some foundational principles will never be allowed to change.

Dr. Albert Mohler in his book, Conviction to Lead, talks about the importance of convictional leadership needed for a school to survive and thrive.  What Mohler says about leaders is also true for schools.  Just as new leaders will bring their own ideas, passions and vision for the future to the school, Christian schools of tomorrow may have a different look and/or feel when it comes to how they operate due to this pandemic.

No matter what idiosyncrasies a new leader might bring to an organization, it is critically important that the organization’s foundational beliefs never change.  As school boards and administrators adjust budgets, develop new strategic plans and prepare for what the new “normal” will look like, they must never allow the biblical foundation on which Christian schooling was long ago established to change.

My fear for what Christian school leaders might face in the future is that the changes that are being talked about will consume their time, energy and resources.  As their attention is focused on face-to-face teaching, virtual instruction or some hybrid of the two, will they give equal or greater attention to God’s purpose for their existence?

Change has taken place and it will continue to do so in the days, months and years to come.  However, God’s Word is eternal and never changes.  We must make sure that we know, understand and remain committed to a biblical philosophy of education.  We must also give priority to making sure our teachers and parents do the same.

You and I can’t stop change from happening.  However, we can make sure that the convictions on which kingdom education is built never change.

I close with some thoughts from Mohler’s book and from his May 12th The Briefing.

The loss of a secular institution is a shame.  The loss of an institution founded on biblical truth is a tragedy.

If your Christian ministry does not state clearly what your beliefs are and make those obligatory throughout the institution, then you can basically just watch your institution collapse to the left.

I invite you to consider participating in this summer’s Kingdom School Institute.  This year’s institute will be presented online.  Find out more information and register here.

Also, I want to encourage your school to become a part of a fast-growing group of schools who are intentionally helping their board and staff members develop a biblical worldview by becoming a KEM Prime Member.  Learn more about the wide variety of kingdom resources available to Prime Members here. To become a member, click KEM School Membership and receive a special school discount.

Finally, follow, like and share the information that is posted regularly on KEM’s ministry FaceBook page by clicking here.

Remember, God and His Word doesn’t change.  There is not even the slightest turning of shadow with Him.  This must also be true for Christian schools as they strive to fulfill God’s plan for educating future generations.

The Disastrous Consequences of Dualism

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The Decay of Christianity

We are living in a world that is spinning out of control.  There seems to be no absolute guidelines that determine right and wrong.  Even Christians seem to be floundering in a sea of uncertainty.  Last week I shared how many Christians have developed a dualistic belief system where life is divided into two compartments — the secular and the sacred.

Unfortunately, the consequences of trying to live a dualistic life go unnoticed but they are disastrous in a couple of ways.  One of these consequences has to do with our personal lives.

In his book, The Rest of Your Life, Patrick Morley tells the story of a man who had succumbed to dualism.  In this account, the man knew that,

…he had stopped growing spiritually long ago. He had completely separated his faith from his work and social life. All in all, Christianity was still privately engaging to him but an irrelevant factor in his day-to-day world.

Whenever one attempts to live his/her life by two different worldview, he/she finds that life cannot have any overarching purpose.  Life is fragmented with no cohesive belief system to bring meaning and purpose to one’s existence.  Without God and truth, there is no one or thing that one can turn to for meaning and purpose.

The reason why this disastrous consequence will always be a result of dualism is simple.  The beliefs of a secular worldview and those of a biblical one are in total opposition to one another.  As Morley points out,

They are radically different and opposite systems of how to approach life, meaning, reality, values, ethics, justice, relationships, eternity, God, and man.  As systems, they have no points in common and a wall of ideology separates them.

James understood this when, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God…But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.  James 1:5-8 (NKJV)

When a person does not believe that God’s Word should control all of one’s life, that person is double-minded.  Consequently, a double-minded person is unstable in ALL his ways, not just in some ways.  This is because when one’s interests are divided, one’s heart also becomes divided.

The second consequence that results when a Christian tries to live a dualistic life is even more disastrous.  This is because dualism in one’s life will be reflected in one’s religion.  When a majority of Christians divide their lives up into the secular and sacred compartments, Christianity loses its power.

Morley, once again, brings this to light when he writes,

The choices we make brand us; we are the sum of our decisions…Everyone’s life makes a statement about what is important to him…for many Christians the statement is this:  My Christianity doesn’t work.

Why is this true?  It is because, no matter how hard one tries, one cannot completely separate two opposing worldviews.  Unfortunately, the secular worldview will always influence a biblical worldview.  It has been long understood that a major problem in western Christianity is symbolized by the word “syncretism.”

The dictionary defines syncretism as the attempt or tendency to combine or reconcile differing philosophical or religious beliefs.  It is trying to have the best of two worlds – the secular and the sacred.  In reality, many Christians today have tried to develop a form of Christianity by blending in beliefs and values from other religions.

Again, God’s Word warns us about the danger of this type of worship.  He constantly warned the Israelites not to “intermarry” with the people around them.  The reason for this was because He knew that it would lead to dualism and pollute their worship.

The Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.  1 Kings 11:2 (NKJV)

Intermarrying is syncretism and the result is always the same.  It will turn one’s heart away from God and towards other gods.  The result is we merely become cultural Christians.  How does God look at cultural Christians?  The Psalmist puts it this way.

But they mingled with the Gentiles and learned their works; they served their idols, which became a snare to them.  Psalm 106:35-36 (NKJV)

We are reaping the consequences that are a result of decades of sowing a dualistic worldview into generations of young people.  A growing number of Christians are frustrated by dysfunctional lives that lack significant meaning and purpose.  Young people are walking away from Christianity because when they look at adults they see their lives telling them, My Christianity Doesn’t Work!


We must destroy dualism in our lives before it is too late.  Every remnant of cultural Christianity must be eradicated completely by the complete renewing of one’s mind where every thought is brought into captivity of Christ or the Word.

Stay tuned there is more to come next week when I will ask some questions to see whether or not we are infected with the virus of dualism.

Keeping An Eternal Perspective

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When life is unpredictable, it is often easy to lose perspective.  There are many people who are struggling with staying positive with the lifestyle changes that have been thrust upon them due to COVID-19.  Even though it seems like our lives have been turned upside down, God has a purpose that He wants you and me to fulfill today.  In order to accomplish His purpose in our lives, we must keep an eternal perspective about life.

Paul wrote something that most Christians have memorized and recited on different occasions.  It is a very simple statement; but it it needs to have a profound impact on how we live our lives.

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:21 (NKJV)

In these few words, God gives us clear direction on how we are to live our lives regardless of what we might be facing.  The first part of this verse tells us that we are to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus Christ.  John puts it this way.

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.  1 John 2:6 (NKJV)

When we walk as Jesus walked then everyone around us will see Christ in us.  This is what Paul meant when he said that to live is Christ.  But what is he saying in the second part of the verse — to die is gain.  Paul is telling us that we should live our lives in such a way that people would see that we view death as something that is profitable and better than being alive.  Of course, this view of “death is gain” is based on the hope that we have in eternal live.

In this passage, Paul was wrestling with deciding if it would be better to be alive or to die and enter eternity in Christ’s presence.  We know that because he wrote:

But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.  For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.  Philippians 1:22-23 (NKJV)

I find these words amazing.  Paul declared that if he continued to live here on earth, it would mean that he would experience fruitful labor or ministry.  As you and I wake up each morning, do we do so with the perspective that being alive means that we are going have fruitful ministry?

I believe that there are many of us that struggle with experiencing this type of life in the midst of COVID-19.  I wonder if some of us think that this is fine for Paul to say but I am in self-isolation and have to do everything online.  I can’t be with my students, I can only try and teach them through online instruction.  In fact, I can’t even go to church and worship with other believers and have to live stream services over the internet.

If you and I think we have it tough under the current stay-at-home restrictions, we forget that when Paul wrote this epistle, he was in greater isolation than we are — he was in prison!  Even in our current COVID-19 circumstances, if God has us here, He has fruitful ministry for us to fulfill.  Author, Andy Andrews, once said that if we are still alive, our purpose has yet to be fulfilled.

I know what you might be asking.  How can I have fruitful ministry in these circumstances?  Paul explained what his fruitful ministry would be as long as he remained alive on the earth.

Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.  And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith  Philippians 1:24-25 (NKJV)


The NASB puts it this way.  Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.  Paul understood a marvelous truth.  God was keeping him here on earth because it was necessary for the sake of others.  There are other people who make it necessary for you and me to remain here on earth.

 

What is that necessity that causes God to keep us alive, even while struggling with COVID-19?  It is for the progress and joy of someone’s faith.  It isn’t for my progress and joy but for others.

Don’t Let COVID-19 Get You Down

A couple of years ago, I started a simple little routine to help me keep the right perspective when beginning a new day.  I would sit down and ask God to bring some people’s names to my mind.  As He did, I would write them down and then thank the Lord that for these people’s sake You have be alive today.  Then, I would pray and ask God to show me how I could help them progress with joy in their faith.

It is my prayer that you will develop an eternal perspective that will give you direction each and every day.  Make a list of the people that you know who make it necessary for you to remain alive.  Next, ask God to show you what only you can do to help them progress in their faith.

If God could do this in Paul’s life while he was in prison, He can do it while you are confined to your home because of COVID-19.  Today, I realize that one reason I remain in the flesh is because it is more necessary for YOUR sake!  It is my prayer that this blog and other things that God allows me to do will help you grow with joy in your walk with the Lord.