Thursday, May 25, 2017

10 Ways to Irritate Your Child

One common criticism of John MacArthur's preaching is his lack of direct application. He is largely aware of this and admits as much. His understanding of preaching is to error on explaining the text and allow the Spirit to apply it to the hearer's life. I understand the logic but strongly disagree with it. Not only do many of his sermons sound like running commentaries but it does not mirror the pattern we see in the New Testament. Nevertheless, there are numerous examples of MacArthur applying the biblical text to his congregation. One of the best examples comes from his sermon on Colossians 3:20-4:1. In verse 21, Paul warns parents not to irritate, provoke, or exacerbate their children. In his sermon on this text, John MacArthur offers the following 10 ways to provoke a child.
1. Overprotection. I hear the "Amen" corner over here really going at it. A couple of overprotected people over here. Overprotection. No trust. All rules. All deprivation. You never ever allow them any liberty. You draw the lines so narrow and the boxes are so closed that they soon feel that you do not believe in them. You do not trust in them. No matter what they do to earn that trust, they never experience that trust. Consequently, they give up and say, "What's the difference anyway?" Then you've got that seething rebellion. You can really irritate your children by overprotecting them. Give them a sense of trust. You don't have to cover every single detail of every single thing they've ever done. well, what did you do? What did you do after that? Well, then where did you go? Well, when you got back from there, where did you go? Why did you go over there? let them live. You know, when they're born, they're born with an umbilical cord and they're connected. And from then on, their whole life, you're just letting it out. And it ought to sometime be cut and the kid ought to be so far out that he doesn't even know he's not connected anymore, it's just so natural.

2. Favoritism. The second way you can really irritate your children is by favoritism. Make sure you always compare them with the other kids in the family who do better than they do. Why can't you be Like Albert? He always does his homework. It's very irritating for a child to be less than an individual. It's very irritating for the child to be a lemon on the assembly line. Favoritism. Favoritism means you constantly compare the child with the other child.

3. Depreciating his worth. A third way you can irritate your child is by depreciating his worth. One good way to really depreciate his worth is whenever you have company, have him eat in the kitchen. That'll really let him know that he just really isn't worth having around anything important. or else, when he comes in and has something to say, you say, "Hush up and go back an the den. Go to your roan." And then you get the autistic kind of child who finally tries to communicate and gives up and so then he can't communicate at all and he won't. And then you get that ultimate kind of autistic person who doesn't say anything anytime, because he never did get listened to when he tried to. We were talking about this with Howard Hendricks when we were back at the conference last weekend, you know. And he was saying, "Look -- if you come to my house for dinner, you've got to get ready. They're all going to be there, staring you right in the eye. The whole bunch. When we have Company, the kids are all there, looking right dawn your throat." Because they're part of our family. They have every right to be a part. Don't depreciate their worth. Don't tell them to shut up and go to bed. There are boundaries -- yes.

4. Discouragement. A fourth way you can irritate your child is by discouragement. Don It ever -reward him for anything. Make sure that he never feels like he's succeeded. I know a girl that killed herself for that reason, because no matter what she did, it was never enough. No matter what her grades were, it was never enough. No matter how well she did, it was never enough, let's face it. A parent who feels that way about a child is trying to get a child to he something the parent never was. That's not fair. And this girl couldn't handle it, so she killed herself. That's sad. Discouragement -- no rewards, no honors.

5. No affection demonstrated. Another good way to irritate your child is never demonstrate any affection for him. Don't ever go out of your way to love him or hug him or kiss him or pick him up...squeeze her or be gentle or thoughtful in a physically affectionate way. Very, very discouraging. So if you want to discourage your child, don't reward your child, don't honor your child, and never demonstrate any love or affection. So the child just begins to feel totally alienated, totally unacceptable, can't do anything right, isn't worthy of your love, isn't worthy of your affection -- he gets very, very discouraged.'

6. Not providing his needs. Another thing - this is kind of practical. You can irritate your child by not providing his needs. You know what a child's needs are? Believe it or not, in our society, do you know what a child needs? A room. Yes, he does. He needs a room, a little privacy. That would be good. Now, you can overcome that, maybe your economics don't make it possible for every single child to have his own domain, but provide some place for him. Your child needs a place to play and if it can't be at your place, then take him to the park, because he or she needs a place to play. Another thing is clean clothes. That's a good thing to provide your children. And when they get a little older, somewhere to study - you know, I think that one of the reasons that some children never do well in school is because they don't know where to land when they some home. They sit down at a table and you say, "What are you doing in here with that homework?" "Get out of here and go to your room." And they go to their roan and they get backaches from sitting five minutes on their bed, because there's no where to sit. Provide some place for them to study. Another thing is to give them something that belongs to them -- whatever itis. Another thing is to feed them good meals. Let them know that you've prepared something special just for them. These little practical things, where a child begins to know that you are concerned about him and about her as a person.

7. Lack of standards. On the other hand, you can irritate a child by a lack of standards. You know, there are children and young people, and when I use the word child, I mean anybody who is still in the home, but you can really irritate your young people by not giving them any rules. Because then they are totally left on their own and they can't handle that kind of liberty and they are constantly getting into problems that they really can't cope with. Cross some lines; make some fences.

8. Criticism. Another way to irritate your children is by criticism. A well-known doctor, Dr. (Haim Geno) says this: "The child who lives with criticism does not learn responsibility. He learns only to condemn himself and find fault with others. He learns to doubt his own judgment, disparage his own ability, distrust everybody. Above all, he learns to live with continual expectation of impending doom." End quote. Now that is no way to live. Criticism. Don't irritate your child with criticism. Create a positive environment, an uplifting, up building one.

9. Neglect. And then I think another way to irritate a child is by neglect. You know what a classic illustration of that is? Absalom. Absalom was a tragic young man, who tried to kill his own father, David. And Absalom is a classic illustration of a son who was neglected by a father. You can really irritate your child by indifference, neglect. Play with your children.

10. Over-discipline. And then, of course, and this is the last one I'll mention, you can really irritate your child by over-discipline. This is where your discipline is hurtful, you know, when you haul off and really hurt them. Or it can be when you just scream at them all the time, or holler at them or yell at them, or shut them in their rooms. Or you're actually some people even discipline their children in a show of their superior strength, if you can believe it. You talk about battered children, or whatever. But the idea is that of over-disciplining children. You can do it by yelling and screaming at them for every single thing they do. You know, they can knock -- this happens all the tine -- bang! Over goes the milk at the table. You stupid... Or you can say, "Well, here we go again. Laugh about it. You can over-discipline them. I man, he didn't do it on purpose. You can over-discipline them by actually using your brute strength to show your superior power over your child. I've often thought that we say things to our children we'd never say to anybody else, don't we? Don't ever discipline them in anger.

All Around the Web - May 25, 2017

Joe Carter - Survey: On Most Moral Issues Americans Are More Permissive Than Ever

Mere Orthodoxy - The Parable of Anthony Weiner’s iPhone

James K. Smith - Mortality and My Library

Christianity Today - Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most

Sean McDowell - Should Christian Divide Over the Age of the Earth? Review of the New Book.

WORLD - FAQ: Who is saved?

Denny Burk - Treating young women as sisters in absolute purity

Thinking in Public - Vanishing Adulthood and the American Moment: A Conversation with Senator Ben Sasse

Public Discourse - The Closing of the American Mind Thirty Years Later: A Symposium

Baptist Press - TX governor signs bill to 'shield' pastors' sermons

Babylon Bee - I Am More Offended Than You | Satire

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

From Bonhoeffer's Pen: Complaining Pastors

Let the pastor listen carefully to what Bonhoeffer has to say in his classic Life Together:
“This applies in a special way to the complaints often heard from pastors and zealous members about their congregations. A pastor should not complain about his congregations, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. A congregation has not been entrusted to him in order that he should become its accuser before God and men. When a person becomes alienated from a Christian community in which he has been placed and begins to raise complaints about it, he had better examine himself first to see whether the trouble is not due to his wish dream that should be shattered by God; and if this be the case, let him thank God for leading him into this predicament. But if not, let him nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of the congregation before God. Let him rather accuse himself for his unbelief. Let him pray to God for understanding of his own failure and his particular sin, and pray that he may not wrong his brethren. Let him, in the consciousness of his own guilt, make intercession for his brethren. Let him do what he is committed to do, and thank God.” (29-30)

All Around the Web - May 24, 2017

Kevin DeYoung - Beware the Graduation Speech

Denny Burk - Pastors, don’t be a jerk. Be a shepherd.

Crossway - 5 Sources of True Change

Evangelical History - Ben Franklin and George Whitefield Debate the Purpose of Education

Chuck Lawless - Why Pastors Don’t Evangelize Much, and Why We Must Do More

Erik Raymond - Smelling the Gospel Flowers in Proverbs

The Gospel Coalition - 3 Ways to Exhort the Aging

The Gospel Coalition - Why Do Churches Wound Their Pastors?

Go There For - Do Catholics and Protestants believe in the same Trinity?

Buzzfeed - The Second Coming Of Televangelist Jim Bakker

Babylon Bee - Man Sitting Literally Three Feet Away From Bible Asks God To Speak To Him | Satire

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Greatest Cultural Gift of the Reformation: The Perspicuity of Scripture

This year we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of start of the Great Reformation. The official date is traditionally October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the Wittenburg Castle Church door. This anniversary has me considering what the greatest cultural gift of the Reformation is. In my opinion, that gift would be the recovery of the perspicuity (or clarity) of Scripture.

Prior to the Reformation, it was illegal (and unthinkable) to read the Bible in any language other than Latin even though none of the commoners read Latin. Only the highly educated and priests could read and understand Latin. As a result, no one had access to the revelation of God. The Reformation changed all of that with a fundamental belief that God's word was clear and ought to be read and understood by everyone from plowman to pastor.

This Protestant thinking is best reflected by William Tyndale who is most famous for translating the New Testament and parts of the Old Testament into English. He was later executed for that "crime." The Tyndale translation was the greatest influence on the King James Bible. The story goes that a priest suggested to Tyndale that "It would be better to be w/o God’s law than the pope’s” to which Tyndale responded “If God spares my life, I will cause the plow-boy to know more about Scripture than you do!”

And he did.

Here are a few reasons why I believe the doctrine of Scripture's Perspicuity is the greatest cultural gift of the Reformation. 

1. The Perspicuity of Scripture and the Freedom of Conscience

The Perspicuity of Scripture means I must interpret Scripture. It does not ignore other authorities, but does affirm that Scripture must be read by an individual and interpreted by an individual. This was blasphemous in pre-Reformation Europe. Once the clarity of Scripture was adopted and understood by Protestants, than the liberty of conscience becomes a natural right. The American cause is only possible due to this. One's interpretation must be defended, it cannot and ought not be enforced. Such a world did not exist prior to the recovery of the perspicuity of Scripture.

The best example of this comes from Martin Luther while at the Diet of Worms in 1521:
Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.
The King and Pope may be powerful, but they are not lord over the conscience.

2. The Perspicuity of Scripture and the Universality of Education

In order for Protestants to promote the universal reading of Scripture, the Reformation needed a literate population. It is no accident, then, that throughout the protestant world, Christians promoted education among both the rich and the poor, men and women.

Though the history of universal education is bigger than the Reformation, I do not believe we would have it today without the Great Reformation. Roman Catholicism largely limited education to those who could afford it. Remember that Martin Luther trained to be a lawyer only because his father had worked hard to save to send him to school and was extremely angry when he dropped out of school to join a monastery. Luther spent the rest of his life questioning if he dishonored God by dishonoring his parents.

Nevertheless, the fundamental belief that Scripture is clear and must be read by every believer means that every believer ought to be literate and a literate populace will goes beyond the Bible and explore the world.

An example of this comes from the First Book of Discipline from John Knox under the headline "The Necessity of Schools":
Seeing that God hath determined that his Kirk here in earth shall be taught not by Angels, but by men; and seeing that men are borne ignorant of God, and of all godliness, and seeing also he ceases to illuminate men miraculously, suddenly charging them as he did the Apostles, and others in the primitive kirk: Of necessity it is that your Honors be most careful for the virtuous education, and godly up-bringing of the youth of this realm: if either ye now thirst unfeignedly the advancement of Christ’s glory, or yet desire the continuance of his benefits to the generation following. For as the youth must succeed to us, so we ought to be careful that they have knowledge and erudition to profit and comfort that which ought to be most dear to us, to wit, the kirk and spouse of our Lord Jesus. Of necessity therefore we judge it, that every several kirk have one Schoolmaster appointed, such a one at least as is able to teach Grammar, and the Latin tongue, if the town be of any reputation. If it be upland [rural] where the people convene to the doctrine but once in the week, then must either the reader or the minister there appointed, take care over the children and youth of the parish, to instruct them in the first rudiments, and especially in the Catechism as we have it now translated in the book of the common order called the order of Geneva. And further we think it expedient, that in every notable town, and specially in the town of the Superintendent, there be erected a College, in which the arts at least Logic and Rhetoric, together with the tongues, be read by sufficient masters, for whom honest stipends must be appointed. As also provision for those that be poor, and not able by themselves, nor by their friends to be sustained at letters, and in special these that come from Landward. The fruit and commodity hereof shall suddenly appear. For first, the youth-head and tender children shall be nourished, and brought up in virtue in presence of their friends, by whose good attendance many inconveniences may be avoided, in which the youth commonly fall, either by overmuch liberty, which they have in strange and unknown places, while they cannot rule themselves: or else for lack of good attendance, and such necessity as their tender age requires. Secondly, the exercise of children in every kirk, shall be great instruction to the aged. Last, the great Schools, called the universities, shall be replenished with these that shall be apt to learning. For this must be carefully provided, that no father of what estate or condition that ever he be, use his children at his own fantasy, especially in their youth, but all must be compelled to bring up their children in learning and virtue.

The rich and potent may not be permitted to suffer their children to spend their youth in vain idleness as heretofore they have done: But they must be exhorted, and by the censure of the Kirk compelled to dedicate their sons by good exercises to the profit of the Kirk, and Common-wealth; and that they must doe of their own expenses because they are able. The children of the poor must be supported and sustained of the charge of the Kirk, trial being taken whether the spirit of docility be in them found, or not: If they be found apt to learning and letters, then may they not (we mean, neither the sons of the rich, nor yet of the poor) be permitted to reject learning, but must be charged to continue their study, so that the Common-wealth may have some comfort by them. And for this purpose must discreet, grave, & learned men be appointed to visit Schools for the trial of their exercise, profit and continuance: To wit, the Minister and Elders, & the rest of learned men in every town shall in every quarter make examination how the youth have profited.

And certain times must be appointed to reading and learning of the Catechism, and certain to the Grammar and to the Latin tongues, and a certain to the Arts of Philosophy, and the tongues; and certain to that study in the which they intend chiefly to travail for the profit of the Common-wealth. Which time being expired, we mean in every course, the children should either proceed to farther knowledge, or else they must be set to some handy craft, or to some other profitable exercise; providing always that first they have further knowledge of Christian Religion: To wit, the knowledge of God’s Law and Commandments, the use and office of the same: the chief Articles of the belief, the right form to pray unto God; the number, use, and effect of the Sacraments: the true knowledge of Christ Jesus, of his Office and Natures, and such others, without the knowledge whereof neither any man deserves to be called a Christian, neither ought any to be admitted to the participation of the Lord’s Table: and therefore these principles ought and must be learned in the youth-head.

3. The Perspicuity of Scripture and Tearing Down the Sacred/Secular Divide

In a previous post I provided a number of quotes from Martin Luther regarding the Sacred/Secular Divide. Catholicism promotes this divide, but Protestantism tore it down by showing that all of life is sacred. This is only possible with a firm belief in the Perspicuity of Scripture. Luther's theological argument is rooted in the revelation of Scripture which was, itself, rooted in a fundamental belief that Scripture is clear.

4. The Perspicuity of Scripture, Liberty, and Democracy

The polity of Catholicism was mirrored in the monarchies around Europe. That is no accident. Is it any accident that the change in church polity out of the Reformation resulted in a change of European governments? Protestantism produced the democratic religions of Congregationalism and the Baptists, the Presbytery of Presbyterianism, and other forms of church government (like Methodism, Anabaptism, etc.).

The Acton Institutes shows that Luther's priesthood of believers played an important role.
Luther’s doctrine of “the priesthood of all believers” also heavily influenced the emergence of representative democracy. In addition, the Presbyterian style of church government further set the stage for individual rights and liberties. Responsibility for the governance of the church is not just for the clergy , but laity as well. This model of church government, where elders serve as leaders can be contrasted with the episcopal style of church government, which better reflects a monarchy. King James I of Great Britain rightly predicted, “If bishops go, so will the king.” At its very heart, it expresses a belief that humans in their depravity cannot set themselves above the law of God, no matter their office.

When Martin Luther declared his “conscience was captive to the word of God” it had political repercussions. Luther’s protest showcased a primary debate about ultimate authority, and where this authority stems from. The legacy and impact of the Reformation directly affect our society today, especially in relation to government, human rights, and religious and political freedoms.
At the root of all of this, however, was the Perspicuity of Scripture. If Scripture is not clear, then Luther could not be believed and the Catholic Church could not be questioned. Furthermore, the clarity of Scripture placed God's Word as a higher authority than the Pope and one's interpretation and opinion as an authority.

5. The Perspicuity of Scripture and the Power of Preaching 

Consider the following regarding know from Richard Kyle:
“[Knox’s] approach to Scripture impacted his preaching in still other ways. Not only did he regard the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, but he upheld the [clarity] of Scripture – that it is clear and intelligible to the average person. Phrases such as ‘the plain Word of God,’ the ‘strict Word of God,’ ‘the plain Scripture,’ and the ‘express Word of God’ frequently bombard even the casual reader of Knox’s works. . . .. [I]n one of his encounters with Queen Mary of Scotland, Knox insisted that he Bible was intelligible to all people, and thus the native meaning of the Bible with the aid of the Holy Spirit sufficed. The Holy Ghost had inspired every verse and, as God, he can never be self-contradictory. Therefore, the meaning of vague texts must be in agreement with the interpretation of distinct passages: ‘The Word of God is plain int eh self; and if there appear any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost which is never contrarious to himself, explains the same more clearly in other places: so that there can remain no doubt, but unto such as obstinately remain ignorant.” (Richard Kyle, God’s Watchman, 162-163)
The legacy and power of preaching is, no doubt, rooted in a firm belief in the Perspicuity of Scripture.


These are a few of the reasons why I believe that the greatest cultural gift the Reformation has given the west is the perspicuity of Scripture. Without it, we would not recommend the world we now enjoy.

All Around the Web - May 23, 2017

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RC Sprouls - What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?

Thom Rainer - Five Reasons Church Members Attend Church Less Frequently

Chuck Lawless - 10 Things that Still Surprise Me about Churches

The Gospel Coalition - The Anxiety Beneath All Your Anxieties

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Baptist Press - Duggars sue over exposure of childhood molestation

The Resurgent - Here’s Proof That Liberal ‘Academic’ Gender Studies is a Fraud

Babylon Bee - Rob Bell Clarifies New Book Title ‘What Is The Bible?’ Was Actual Question

Monday, May 22, 2017

"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review

I am reading The Hobbit to my son. It is my fourth time reading the story and his first. As such I thought I would repost my reviews of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.
"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 

I have a new personal rule. When watching a movie based on a book, I do not read the book before. I have learned that maybe outside of action scenes and emotions, the book is always better especially when it comes to character development, plot, and resolution. Furthermore, Hollywood writers, producers, and directors can rarely honor the book and the author's story because movies are expensive and the Box Office means everything.

So since the release of The Hobbit and since it will not be completely done until 2014, I will not be re-reading Tolkien's classic. However, that doesn't mean that I can't read his triology, The Lord of the Rings. I read the series in college (along with the Hobbit) before the third movie was released in theaters and loved them immensely. However, unlike most books-turn-movies, I struggle reading Tolkien's vision without seeing Jackson's art. And with the performance of Gollum and Gandalf in the movies, how can you not?

But there are a couple of thoughts I will say in review regarding the first book of the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring. First, Tolkien spends a lot of time in the Shire. The story moves slowly here. We are told of Bilbo and Frodo preparing for a party and Bilbo is a very old man. We are told that he is going to sneak away during the party and leave for good. He slips on the ring. Gandalf suspects. There's a long conversation. Bilbo leaves. Frodo returns too late to say goodbye. There's another long conversation about what Gandalf suspects about the ring. Gandalf leaves. He returns (17 years later!) and another long conversation pursues about the ring. They then leave the Shire.

Tolkien clearly loves the Shire and wants the reader to appreciate the world there. Throughout the books and the trilogy, the reader is reminded of this oasis-like place where simple folk live peaceful simple lives. There are family rivalries, but no wars and no fights. That is contrasted to the world of men where they are always at war, even with each other. That could be what we love most about this trilogy. It is four Hobbits from the Shire who must face down the enemy and carry the burden of the ring. The most innocent of creatures must carry the burden that is too great for fallen men. Tolkien wants us to regret having to leave the Shire and the Hobbits are hesitant to leave (Sam is even given a box of seed from Lothlorien for his garden when he returns to the Shire).

Secondly, the theme of racism this time of around was more prevalent. Gollum is hobbit-like, but we never quit figure out what he was or what he is. Dwarves and Elves hate each other. Gimli was almost not welcomed to Lothlorien and wouldn't have been if it wasn't for Elrond. Sauron is unaware, it seems, of what a Hobbit is or where the Shire is located. It is the Fellowship that is able to breakdown those barriers. It is made up of an old wizard, a ranger, a wanna-be prince (Boromir), an elf, a dwarf, and four hobbits. The mission to destroy evil once and for all breaks down those unnecessary barriers.

Thirdly, where are the women in middle-earth? Have you ever noticed that? The main women thus far are Galadriel, Aragorn's elvish girlfriend, and just a few others. I have a theory why. Most of the women in the trilogy represent peace. Galadriel, for example, is beautiful, and yet strong, heavenly and does not give into temptation (unlike Boromir, the man). Even Gimli is smitten with her (he asks for a string of her hair) and regrets continuing the mission as he wishes to remain near her and what she represents. It isn't until the third book where we meet a woman, to my knowledge, that anticipates, participates, and desires war. The characters of the story seek to return to the world that the women in the story represents.

Overall, this is a great story and a great book. You already knew that. These books have been analyzed by smarter people than me. The Fellowship of the Ring has always been the slowest of the trilogy, but it sets up the rest. In it Tolkien is in no hurry wanting the reader to experience Middle-Earth. The story picks up the pace from here.

Regarding the movie. Jackson and company made some big changes of course. Some of it might have been necessary (I can kind of sympathize with his reasoning for axing Tom Bombadil, one of my favorite characters who is quit mysterious) for a movie audience, some of it unfortunate (I like that Jackson explained the backstory of the ring at the beginning and not wait until the Great Council). In the end, enjoy the book and enjoy the movie. Its easy to do.

For more:
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence