Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Social Media and the Gospel

 I don't know how long you have to live to feel like everything has changed, but I can tell you that I  am there.   I  was saved in 1995 and way back then the internet was  just finding it's feet.  Cell phones  existed, but  required a credit check and a chunk of cash, and 'clouds' were these white puffy things in the sky.  There was no 'wi-fi', although there was 'hi-fi' (that's a joke, you're supposed to laugh).  Back then there were certain assumptions about how you conduct a ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ.
  An interesting phenomena has come to my attention in the last few years; internet ministries. I'm not talking about  where a church records a sermon and makes it available online, I'm talking about people whose entire ministry consists of making videos or commentary and publishing them on the internet via Youtube or  Facebook or some other entity.  In considering this, I  have tried not to have a knee-jerk reaction that 'everything new is bad'  and I have also tried not to  put undue honor on 'the old time ways' or 'the way we used to do it' as if that was some sort of standard.
  We live in a  world where  men invent things, and those things, by and large, can improve our lives.  For example, I use indoor plumbing and  have every intention to continue.   Some of this technology can even make us more able and effective ministers of the gospel. The Roman Empire built roads and those roads enabled the gospel to spread more quickly.  Someone  invented a printing press, and that enabled more people to have Bibles than before. Radio came on the scene and to this day  enables remote peoples to hear the  gospel.  Television ministries have taken  encouragement and edification to shut-ins.  Blogs and the internet have enabled people who have something to say to say it without having to seek permission or be part of the religious hierarchy.  Technology in and of itself is amoral, but I do have some concerns about the idea of an internet ministry as a stand-alone work, since it's apparent that  literally millions of Christians over the last two thousand years have led happy, successful,  fruitful Christian lives without ever once turning on a computer.
   The Bible says in 1 Cor 13, speaking of  the judgment seat of Christ that "Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is ."  It's interesting that the issue isn't the quantity or size or the perceived success of the work; the issue is what sort it is.  Quality appears to trump quantity with God.  As we  use whatever tools technology puts at our disposal to  obey the Bible, we should be careful as to what sort of work we are doing.
  I'll use as an example a fictitious fellow named Joe.  Joe  buys a webcam, and sets up a Youtube account, and from the  privacy of his  mom's basement  records bible study videos which he then makes available for free, to the whole world.  He hasn't harmed anyone with this, and people can watch or not watch as they see fit.  After all, the Bible says 'Let all things be done to edifying" and "..notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached ; and I therein do rejoice , yea, and will rejoice ."  I would rather Joe make these videos than do nothing, but if all Joe does is make videos, he has missed the boat.
  God designed us to interact with real human beings, as opposed to thumbnail pictures with  goofy screen names.  God told us "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel" .  Obeying that command by necessity means you get out of your mom's basement, and you interact with the flesh and blood people in your town.  If you have  5,000 followers on Twitter and no one in your apartment building has heard the gospel, I would say that your ministry isn't of a very good 'sort'.
  Paul used the technology of letter writing to reprove, rebuke and exhort the churches he had started, but he says an interesting thing in 1 Thess 1. He says  "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.  And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad ; so that we need not to speak any thing.  For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;"  Paul preached to them the  gospel, but that gospel was  under girded by the day to day life he lived among them.  They knew he spoke the truth  by the life he lived in front of them.  I submit to you that anybody can switch on the webcam and  pretend to be super-spiritual for the duration of a web video.  It is an entirely  different sort of work to  try to live your life as an example to people who eventually will see you at your worst.
  In 1 Cor 11, Paul says "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged But when we are judged , we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.  Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat , tarry one for another.  And if any man hunger , let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come . "  As I said before, Paul wasn't afraid to use the technology at hand , but some things apparently can only be handled in person.
  One of the interesting observations I've made about online ministries is that commentators, some of whom hide behind  screen names and avatars are "contentious , and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath".  Anonymity  emboldens the scoffer, and  if you aren't careful, you can  get drawn into 'debates' , which according to Romans 1 is a work of the flesh.  You can lose your focus spin your wheels arguing with  the lost or the apostate, instead of speaking "sound speech, that cannot be condemned" to the world around you.  You can convince yourself that you are contending for "the faith once delivered to the saints", but the faith it speaks of was delivered face to face to people that could see your life and the example behind it. Arguing with stupid people on the internet is not a ministry nor is it the sort of thing you want to have to give account of since "every idle word that men shall speak , they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. "  There will always be one more idiot out there that  wants to vent and frankly, you don't have time to waste.
   I have a public ministry, and that  ministry serves as the foundation for every other way in which I minister.  I  taught a Sunday school class for many years, and the boldness and patience I learned in street work colored the class. I write quite a bit, but my writing would be of no power without real-life examples to draw from. I  teach the Bible, but most of my Bible  has been learned in messy  dealings with messy people.  Your primary  ministry should be one of looking men and women in their flesh and blood faces and dealing with them about their souls. Beyond that, you ought to have a ministry of encouraging and edifying real life flesh and blood believers to whom you can be an example.  Once you have all that in place, and have a good sort of work, I think it's certainly commendable to want to reach people the next street over or the next town over or the next country over and I see no scriptural prohibition against using every tool at your disposal to do so.  My advice to Joe is that he turn off the webcam, and walk outside. Engage people. Let them  laugh at you, and let them lie to you. Let them disappoint you. Let you disappoint yourself.  Let God mold you and shape you in the  way he has chosen, and when you finally do turn the web camera back on (if you do)  you will  have a ministry of a whole different sort.

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Little Brunette

  We have different recollections of when we first met.  We were both in a business partnership with some of the same people and she  seems to recall first noticing me at a business meeting. I seem to recall meeting her at the garage that we were using as a product distribution point, but it doesn't really matter.  We both agree that our mutual friend Cameron is who introduced us.
  She had been through a lot, most of which I am not at liberty to reveal.  People are a mess and all of us are damaged goods to some degree.  She had grown up in church, and despite some  detours, had made her way back and was serving faithfully.  I was a brand plucked out of the fiery gutter with the   mindset to match. I had been saved 4 or 5 years, I guess, and had been on the street all that time.
  She was an upbeat ,optimistic social butterfly. I was a cranky, confrontational misanthrope.  How in the world did we wind up together?
  Neither one of us had ever been in  a relationship that honored Jesus Christ. We had both read some books on that sort of thing, and so we decided to enter into a courtship.  We were  spending time together in order to scope each other out for marriage. If  marriage ever seemed non-viable we agreed to both cut our losses and  walk away.  We prayed, we fasted. We decided not to do any kissing, mostly because I really wanted to. We met with my pastor, and hers. I investigated her because frankly, I had been burned before and wanted no part of it again.  I would say caustic hurtful things, and she would cry.  I took the approach that a woman that could be run off by a little harshness probably  needed to be run off. Looking back, I want to kick my own butt for how I handled some things. How in the world did she survive the courtship?
  I laid down the law, so to speak.  I had a definite idea how we were going to live, where we were going to live.  If she wasn't interested in X, Y, and Z, then let's stop wasting each others time.  I let her know in no uncertain terms that she was marrying a street preacher who intended to breath his last in the accomplishment of that purpose.  Rather than sell her on me, or impress her, I tried to prepare her for what I felt would be a rough life because after all, life is rough, so  quit your crying and let's  go another round.  How in the world did she put up with that?
  In return she  also needed to understand that she was getting a man who would be   totally dedicated to her and our eventual children.  No matter how hard it got, no matter if I had to work 6 jobs, I would never leave.  We had both  been left, by both parents and paramours.  She needed to understand that, whatever  some other guy had or had not done, that what she was getting was different.  If she was interested, then stick around, and if not, then 'see ya around'.  Maybe the challenge intrigued her, I'm not sure.
  I proposed to her in the auditorium of the church just after the sweetheart banquet.  I had bought a silver jewelry box and filled it with candy hearts, and because I couldn't  ask her ring size without tipping my hand, I bought her a  turtle ring out of a  gumball machine.  She claims I  admitted to being nervous, but since I don't get nervous, she's obviously mistaken.
  We were married almost exactly a year later, and seven months later, our first child was on the way.  I remember her last day of work, which was a real act of faith since she  earned way more money than I did.  God opened  a door to move back to Georgia, and we took it.  We grabbed her dad, threw everything we owned into a moving truck and headed to the East Coast. She had taken quite a gamble, and was leaving everything behind to  follow her admittedly unstable husband.  How in the world did she find the courage?
  We lived in a dumpy little place and I  worked 2 and 3 jobs.  We joined up at a little church and  I resumed street work in the same town where I had graduated high school as a lost man.  I lost my job with  baby #2 on the way. I worked for well over a  year at a place where there wasn't enough money to pay all the bills and we  juggled as best we could. Through it all, God was faithful.
  I found a job and we bought a little cracker-box of a house that was falling apart around our ears.  Baby #3 was on her way.  I changed jobs a couple of times, and in no time at all, baby #4 was coming.  A door opened up for us to move out of the cracker-box  to a place with room for us and our kids.  How in the world did she survive 4 C-sections?
  She has  home schooled my 4 children. She has nursed  multiple sick kids while sick herself, She has  washed clothes, and changed diapers. She has planned and executed birthday parties with very little input from her husband. She has  had every fluid the human body makes spilled on her, from pretty much every orifice.  She has put up with my moodiness, my crankiness, my paranoia. She has endured  my tendency towards combativeness. She has laid aside  most of her own  ambitions to support me in mine. She has  worked a hundred street corners with me, passing out gospel tracts. She has stood in the  pouring rain in Fernandina while I preached She has tried to keep  my kids out of the merciless sun in Deland Fl while I preached. She has slept  in a tent on a farm in Memphis while I went and preached.  She has been both mommy and daddy while I  went to the Philippines to preach.  She has endured my over-reactions.  When my ministry seemed like it was imploding, she stood by me and defended me.  She has given so much for the ministry, and  most of the time, her sacrifice has gone unappreciated by me.
  She has somehow  endured almost 14 years of being married to the most incorrigible rascal I've ever known. She has shared a life with the chiefest of sinners; a walking stack of issues and glitches, and  for the most part she has done it  with grace and patience.
  We have an  anniversary coming up, and this anniversary comes, for us, in the midst of great storms and trials and uncertainty. In  so many ways, we are , once again, at a point of life where we've never  been before. I'm lousy at thank you's.  So right now, in front of  the whole internet thingy, I want to let you know that I love you and I appreciate you.

'A lesser woman would have crumbled'

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Great Responsibility

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect ," Hebrews 12:22-23

 When you got saved, you entered into something that is called a "great mystery" in Ephesians 5; the church.. You were placed into the body of Christ and joined  with every other believer not only alive, but every believer since Calvary.  The Bible says in Romans 12:4-5 that "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  So we , being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."  You are an individual, but at the same time, you are not.  We are many, and at the same time, we are one.    A great mystery, indeed.
  Being part of the body of Christ is literally the best thing ever, but carries with it certain responsibilities  that we  don't always understand or don't always consider as we live out our individual lives.  What affects one of us affects all of us. Romans 14:7 explains it as " For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself".
  If all that is true , then every saved person carries a responsibility to every other saved person. That responsibility is to live lives uncluttered by sin, or as 2 Timothy 2 says "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity".  The fact is when you  sin, you hurt the rest of us.  Secret sin immobilizes the body from within, discreetly  silencing your witness and robbing you of your joy. Secret sin eventually becomes open sin. Open sin damages the testimony of the church (1 Cor 5), and gives unbelievers yet another excuse to reject the Saviour.  It discourages younger believers, and causes confusion and discord within the body.  Sin  invites the chastening of God upon an individual and, if tolerated, upon an assembly.  If you are saved, you have a responsibility to stay clean, and when you fall, you have an obligation to repent.
  Other believers also have a responsibility to not accommodate you in your sin.  We are not obligated to sweep it under the rug under the guise of being nice or non-judgmental. The responsibility God has placed on us in this area is so much larger than your feelings or mine. We must deal with issues that come up in a biblical matter. 
  It is not kindness to restore without repentance. It is in fact, cruelty to the rest of the body. Too often in this  current climate we are  pressured  to overlook sin in the camp with the vapid idea that we should be  "loving" or "accepting" or "supportive".  It is not "loving" to overlook a transgression that hurts everyone else.  It is not "accepting" to turn a  blind eye to someone's crimes against God. It is not "supportive" to let someone damage the body of Christ with their lusts.  We are one body and no rational person would punch themselves in the nose repeatedly while claiming they are being charitable towards their face.    Quite to the  contrary, the Bible says "Charity suffereth long , and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself , is not puffed up Doth not behave itself unseemly , seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked , thinketh no evil;  Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;"If you are saved, and you sin, the sheer magnitude of what you have done to other believers and to the cause of Christ should  overwhelm you and drive you to repentance.  That is your responsibility.
  If you repent, other believers have an responsibility to restore you to fellowship, even if the crime you committed was against them. Galatians 6 says "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted ."  Too often people want restoration without repentance, and that is  horrible.  Equally horrible however, is when the repentant one is not restored.  One of  the great blessings of the Christian life is the ability to outlive your mistakes, but to do that, your mistakes cannot be hung around your neck as some sort of perpetual reminder of the past.  Christians who sin have an responsibility to repent, but Christians who did not sin have an equal responsibility to restore the repentant, and let the past be the past.
 Years back, I knew two young ladies, both of whom claimed to be saved, and who both  became pregnant out of wedlock at about the same time.  As my family tried to fulfill our scriptural obligations in this area, the one young lady became bitter and angry at  how 'judgmental' we were being. I was told  that we weren't 'showing love', and even as I  made the case from the scriptures of her responsibility in this area, the relationship deteriorated. She justified her situation, surrounded herself with people who agreed with her, and together they looked down their noses at those 'mean Christians'.  Having disregarded God's opinion on this, this young lady has no right to expect anything other than she  will sow what she has reaped.
  The other young lady, however, went before the church, admitted her sin, apologized and asked to be forgiven.  I will never forget that night. It was absolutely one of the  bravest things I have ever seen, and she will  probably never understand what it did for my heart. In the midst of the turmoil from the other situation, here was somebody willing to do what was right, even if it cost them. I was as much in her corner as a man could be, and she was  immediately accepted back into fellowship. To this day, I consider myself one of her most stalwart defenders, and she remains one of my heroes.  The circumstances under which her son was conceived never comes up. She has outlived her mistake and , having obeyed the scripture, has every right to expect God to bring along a good man to help her. I , for one, am rooting for her. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Some Things I Know

She was 86, I believe, and the last time we had knocked on her door a couple of years  ago she had refused to talk to us. But the ministry being what it is, Darnel and myself once again found ourselves on her doorstep.  She answered the door in her housecoat and I went into my usual  routine.
  "Hello , we're from Camden Baptist Church and we're out here giving out these gospel tracts. They have some Bible verses in them about the  Lord Jesus Christ."
  She refused.  You see, she has been an active Jehovah Witness for  over half a century.  She claimed  that either her dad or her grandad had been around when that particular organization got it's start.  She told us about her door-knocking in support of the Brooklyn-based cult.  She told us about how much this part of town had changed. She  had known Darnell as a boy, and  had known his parents.  She talked, and she talked, and she talked some more. In 86 years she had  seen a lot of things come, and a lot of things  go.
  I asked here my  usual  JW questions. I asked her to define the gospel, and I asked her how a person could get their sins forgiven.   She admonished me to  call God by his name Jehovah.  I told her that while Jehovah is certainly a valid name for God according to the Bible, that is was equally  valid to call him  by one of this other names;  Jesus Christ.  Her definition of the gospel was some sort of nebulous kingdom concept, a response I've heard from more  than one Russelite.
  I asked her if I was  dying, with no time to make amends for my sins against God, what hope  could the watchtower teachings offer me just before I step out into eternity. She admitted that there would  be no hope for a person in that situation. I asked her again how a person gets their sins forgiven. She had no answer.
  Now think about this.  She  is more than twice my age, and has been  actively involved in her religion since my mom was  a teenager, and yet has no idea how to  get her sins forgiven. She knows  the names of her  kids and her grandkids. She knows the name of them men  who used to  own all that land where the paper mill used to be. She knows, no doubt how to cook and clean and care for children. She knows how to garden. But the one thing that really matters in life she does not know, and despite a lifetime spent  working her way to  heaven, is unprepared to face God. That time spent  studying her New World Translation, and  those years spent spreading the Russellite doctrine have done absolutely nothing to wipe away or deal with her guilt before God.  Those people have lied to her and bound her in eternal chains of falsehood.  She has passed those lies onto others, and those lies are as much a part of her now as her own name.  Without God's intervention she will drop off into  the lake of fire thinking that she had done right , and believing that she had met God's expectation of her.
  I may not  know much. I'm useless as a carpenter, and hopeless as a mechanic. I still don't know much about being a husband or a father.  But I do know a couple of things,. I know that God took the  vile mess of a life I brought to him, and he fixed it.  The evidence for that is all around me. I know that he continues to fix it even as I try to mess it up. And I know that I know that I know that my sins are forgiven.  Oh, what a thing to know!
  I'll probably never live to be 86.  But  by God's mercy, and by God's grace, I am prepared for what is on the other side. I know that I know that I know that God has given me eternal life, and that life is in his son.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dear Officer

   Recently one of my favorite people posted this on social media.

   Now this person means well, and I'm pretty sure this didn't originate with them, but I feel a response to this is necessary. So, for your consideration, my own version of 'Dear Officer'

Dear Officer,

  I want you to know that I see you.  I see you driving around on your cell phone in between bouts of pulling people over for talking on their cell phones. I see you  harassing men for preaching the gospel in public. I see you at traffic stops, not because the driver has  actually done committed a crime, but because your real job is to bring in money for the  state via ticket-writing.  I see you arresting people for filming you while doing your job. I see you drive past the man stuck in the ditch so that you can  bother the man going  2 miles over the  completely made-up speed limit.  I see you drive past the man walking down the side of the road whose car has broken down so that you can get to  the donut shop.  I see you, and your bosses,  dispatching a SWAT team to serve a warrant. I see you serving as a crime scene historian,  dutifully taking notes after the crime has occurred and, unless a lead falls out of the sky and lands in your lap, going no further. I also see that no amount of money or manpower is too much if another officer  has been wronged. I see you executing  no-knock warrants to the  wrong house and killing the inhabitants. I see you  killing unarmed men because you felt 'threatened'.  I see you lording your status over the populace, and glorying in the hero worship. I see that if you  kill a man while on the job, you keep your job and are given several days to get your story straight before you are questioned.  I see your fellow officers lie for you, and cover for you. I see that you aren't a 'peace officer' but rather in 'law enforcement', which is a totally  different mindset.  I see you armed with para-military gear. I see you deploying tear gas against the people you've sworn to protect. I see you arresting  people for possession of  a plant. I see the 'us versus them' mentality in your eyes. I see that you are flesh and bones like me, that your  uniform shouldn't give you less accountability, but yet it does.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Adventures with Neo, Part 1:The Cops

  I have a co-worker, whom I have mentioned before, and whom I have nicknamed 'Neo'. He is a nice guy, a 20 year military veteran with a wife and  2 kids.  He is the GOP black sheep from a  family of staunch Democrats and he is convinced that, although the GOP may have temporarily have lost their way, they remain the  last best hope for our republic.  He foams at the mouth with opposition at Mr. Obama and thinks Mr Bush could do no wrong.    In many ways he represents the  dyed in the wool law and order Republican base who never saw a foreign entanglement they didn't like ( unless a Democrat was doing it).  Conversations with him regarding the  topics of the day are always a  strange mix of pain and pleasure as his convoluted logic manifests itself.   I thought it would be interesting to recreate, to the best of my recollection some of our  interchanges here.
  The latest topic was on the Christopher Dorner case, which is admittedly old news, but I think is relevant because of the peek it gives us into cop culture.  We now join the conversation already in progress.

 MSA:  Ok, take that guy out in California, the guy that they say killed those  cops
 NEO: Yeah?
MSA: He kills a cop or two or three, whatever the number was, and they stopped the entire state of California looking for this guy.  They even killed some people accidentally that they thought were him.
NEO: So?
MSA: So?  If  he had killed just  some guy on the street, if he had killed you or me, how much effort and money and manpower would they have expended looking for  him?
NEO: I don't get your point.
MSA: My point is they wouldn't have.  But remember they had him caught in that cabin out in the middle of nowhere? They  cleared all the schools out for miles around!  I mean, c'mon, he is surrounded by not only every cop in the  state of California, but by  tons and tons of media. He was surrounded! There is  absolutely no way that he is  getting out of that cabin, and hoofing it 20 miles to the nearest school!
NEO:  He was a dangerous man, Mike. I  don't understand you. You  just think peopel can run around  nilly-willy and kill cops with no  consequences.
MSA:  Umm, no I don't, and nothing I said  would even indicate that, but whatever. Don't you think that's overkill?
NEO: What you don't get Mike, is that  cops have a dangerous job. They put their lives on the line every single day.
MSA: If that's true, then  why do most cops never discharge their weapon during their entire career?
NEO: Look, if you went on a ride-along you'd understand  how hard it is to deal with the  worst our society has to offer, and how they deserve our respect.
MSA: People that burn down cabins to get their man don't deserve a whole lot of respect.
NEO: Their lives were threatened, Mike!
MSA: By one guy in cabin?
NEO: Yes!
MSA: How?
NEO ( frustrated pause )  Mike, somebody had to look at the situation and make a judgment call on the appropriate response. Whoever that was, he made the call to evacuate those schools, and if he's wrong, it's on his head.
MSA: So that WASN'T overkill?
NEO: I don't think so.
MSA: Evacuating  thousands of schoolkids  that were literally  miles and miles away while you had the guy cornered wasn't too much? Who pays for that? 
NEO: Would you be happier if the cops were all dead?
MSA: Nobody said that.
NEo: Have you had their training? Do you know what it's like to live in fear of your life?
MSA: Sure,everything I deal with a cop.
NEO: It's simple. Obey the rules, do whatever the policeman asks you to, and you have nothing to fear.
MSA:  UNLESS I'm some  85 year old woman lying in my bed when the cops execute a  no-knock warrant at the wrong house and kill  me in my bed. UNLESS I'm a 12 year old  with a BB gun in a park.
NEO:  You just want cops to die, Mike, and I don't understand it!  They are there to protect you!

 See what I'm dealing with?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Princess Peril

A few years back, the marketing  androids at the Disney (We Own Everything) Corporation began one of the most successful branding schemes of my lifetime.They scooped up all of the  major female characters in their stable of  characters and rebranded them as 'princesses'. Some of it  made sense.  I mean, Snow White married the prince, so she has some pretty solid princess credentials. Ditto for  Sleeping Beauty. Ariel's dad was king of the whole ocean, making her a legitimate princess. And I will grant you that Pocahontas' father was the chief, which  is sort of like a king, but it's a stretch.  Belle from Beauty and the Beast spends 99% of the film as a peasant however, and the girl from The Frog Prince?   You have to draw the line somewhere. Continuity aside, these 'princesses' were linked together in some nebulous sort of sisterhood appearing together on every piece of merchandise that Disney could envision.
  Little girls began to have princess-themed birthday parties with every  little girl dressing up as a different member of the Disney pantheon.  There are  cups and plates and  poofy dresses and coloring books and direct to video hachet-job cartoons. There are  brushes and combs and toothpastes and curtains and bedsheets. You could probably burn down your house and replace all of your belongings with something from the Princess merchandise line.
 I am the father of a beautiful 8 year old girl, and so I speak with  more than just a little experience here. We have been awash in princess paraphernalia for some time and as the money flows ceaselessly from my wallet, I have given this  more than just a little thought.  My wife, as usual,claims that I am over thinking it all. Perhaps she's right, but humor me for a moment, dear reader.
  In case you were wondering, I really am a Neanderthal , and I completely embrace gender roles.My daughter plays with dolls because I hope that she will grow up to be a wife and a mother, and my sons play with guns and swords because I hope  they will mature into defenders of home and hearth. The seeds of adulthood are sowed in the heroes of childhood. Having said that, what do our daughters learn from a princess obsession?
 There has probabaly never been a group of people more useless than royalty, and princesses are the most useless of the this useless group.  Most Princesses are spoiled royal brats living off the taxpayers while waiting for someone to die so they can be queen.  They are catered to in every way, and served in every way.  They wear fancy clothes, eat the best food and  never once develop a callous.  Their days are spent planning balls, and celebrating themselves.  Occasionally one of them will try to get involved in some cause or another that they really don't understand, and their solutions will usually be far worse than whatever it is they are trying to fix.
  By contrast, the Bible commands women to be ".. in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;"  It says that they are to be "... to be sober , to love their husbands, to love their children,  To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" They are to commanded to " be in subjection to your own husbands" and have "chaste conversation coupled with fear" with "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit".  The "virtuous woman" of Proverbs 31 wasn't sitting around  admiring herself or trying on the newest tiara; she was working, serving those of her household.  She  rose up early, and worked late.  She didn't fritter away time on Facebook.  The truth is, Cinderella was a lot closer to God's idea of a good woman BEFORE the prince came calling.
  I just think it's unfair to our girls for them to spend so much of their childhood indulging the fantasy of being the beloved center of attention when they could be taught to serve. I think that, while Disney makes a quick buck, we parents are doing a potential disservice to our girls by introducing them to the notion that being catered to is the ultimate lifestyle.  I think that mindset, to some degree, will stay with them into their  teen and young adult years.  They will be looking for Prince Charming to show up and whisk them away to a house where somebody else does the dishes.  And if that's what our boys have to choose from as potential wives, we just might be cheating them too.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

And So It Begins..

 Last night we attended a watch-night service at a church in our community. I have some dear friends who attend there and  had lobbied to get me into the roster of preachers that were supposed to preach that night.  That didn't work out, but I was given a few minutes to talk about the work, particularly the past and my future plans in regards to the Philippines.  How do you sum up who you are, and what you do and  what you hope to do in such a time? Apparently you can't, because my wife's testimony was that I wasn't "making any sense.",  This is particularly vexing because she is as familiar with the subject as I am, so if she was confused then...yikes!
  Some of you know this, and some of you don't.  We recently left the church where we've attended and served for 12 years.  You'll find no criticism of the ministry or people of that church here; we simply saw a more fruitful future elsewhere, but the 'elsewhere' remains a problem.
  I have been saved for almost 20 years and I have never not had a church home.  It's a strange feeling.  This Sunday will be the first Sunday in years that I haven't taught the Bible to somebody.  I'll go door-knockiing Friday, but for the first time in 2 decades it won't be as a part of a church, but rather out of loyalty to my partner. Like I said; a strange feeling.
  Thus I begin my new year trying to find a home that will accept me and my ministry.  I then have to establish myself in that work enough so that somebody will endorse me as a missionary. From then I can begin to establish financial support for this endeavor.  Very few churches will take a capable worker in the ministry and dispatch him somewhere else to their own loss.  I also have to settle my wife's heart about all this and get her to the Philippines where she can see for herself (hopefully) the future that I see.
  In light of all this, the theme for 2015 appears to be 'Uphill All the Way.'