Category Archives: Counter-Cultural

Family Survival In a Disaster – Part 1: Overview (FSIAD1)

And now, for a serious note.

This post begins a series of posts of the types of things you will need to be aware of should a disaster strike your family or the world your family lives in, as well as helpful hints of things to keep in mind when the disaster strikes. We will begin a series of posts of things that you will want to make sure that you have ready before hand so that you are not floundering in the dark when the time comes to really shine. So, let’s get started – click this link to go to the page.

 

A New One…

I think we may be pregnant with baby number nine!

We are excited and looking forward to seeing what God will do through this child. I am happy, should we actually be pregnant, to welcome another child into our household.

That being said, and as part of my role of provision, I am considering undertaking a new phase in my career and that of generating the cash flow that comes into our family.

I invite you to respond if you would like to be a part of what I will tentatively call the “One Million Dollar Challenge”. Without cheapening any of the things that we value, I would like to see if anyone would be interested in joining me on a ‘quest’ to see if it is possible to earn $1 million within a year’s time. If you are interested, feel free to email me ( charlesmatthews777 at yahoo.com) with the subject line: “$1 Million Challenge”. If it doesn’t work, then at least we will have moved ‘down the road’ a bit more, for each of us, in all of our goals related to provision. If we do, then hopefully this will be an encouragement to all of us to be able to pay down much needed debt, or whatever it is that you would like to accomplish.

Please note that it doesn’t cost anything to be a part of this challenge… we are trying to make money- not lose it.

Join me as we seek to do this together, and God Bless You as you continue in your day today!

Best regards,

Charles Matthews

Socialization and the Home Schooling Family

This topic concerns the frequently broached problem of home schooling, that of socialization. In this article, I will address a few of the key things that are seen as problems, what we have experienced, and how we deal with ‘socialization’ as a means of accomplishing God’s will for our lives and that of our children.

The Challenge

Lets’ face it: Home schooling can really be challenging when it comes to hanging out with people. Scripture is clear that there is a type of isolation that isn’t good for anyone:

“He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom.” – Proverbs 18:1, NAS

That being said, the reasons we privately school our children at home include what we perceive as a need to separate ourselves from some types of people. But, the people we desire to separate ourselves from are not ‘people in general’, but rather those who will at best undermine our attempt (imperfect though it is at times) to train our children toward fearing God, and at worst directly oppose it. The verse above (Proverbs 18:1) seems to be more consistent with those who are not gaining Godly counsel and wisdom, and may be in fact acting in opposition to it. Let’s be clear… God desires Godly Offspring who worship Him in sincerity according to His commands:

“But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” Malachi 2:15 (Emphasis Mine)

“”For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

Isaiah 66:2 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth”

John 4:24 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46

And, there are some types of people that God directs us to stay away from (this is a short list):

Proverbs 1:10 – Sinful men (the morally reprobate)

Proverbs 2:12 – Men whose speech are perverse

Proverbs 6:24 – Your neighbor’s adulterous wife

Proverbs 7 – The adulterous woman

Proverbs 23:20 – Drunks and those who don’t control their appetites when eating

Proverbs 24:21 – Those who are given to political change via overthrowing the existing governmental order

1 Corinthians 5:11 – Alleged Christians who are sexually immoral, not controlled in his appetites and always wanting more, one who values anything more than valuing God, one who usually is insulting others, one who gets drunk, and one who cheats others of money

The issue then becomes, do you value God’s word more than you value the supposed friendship you have with the person mentioned in the list above? And the converse:

1 Corinthians 5:10 – “not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” (Note – verse 9 is repeated in verse 11 mentioned above, and further fleshed out in verse 11)

So, you have to interact with people in the world who are immoral, greedy, swindlers, and idolaters. You have to avoid people who call themselves Christians and practice those things. This interaction with the world and those of the world system requires wisdom, because our goal is to win the world to Jesus Christ.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

Our goal is also the growth and sanctification of ourselves, our children, and those actual Christians among us. The reason it is so dangerous to be hanging around people who call themselves Christians but practice the sins mentioned above is the nature of the corrupting influence of bad company on good morals, especially toward children who are so easily influenced. Hanging around these people make it easier to sin, and we are responsible for our own sins. The thing that destroys our lives and reputations the most is our own sinfulness, but our sinfulness can be exacerbated (made worse) by being around people who should be practicing Godliness but continue in doing evil.

When interacting with people in ‘the world’, what you have to keep in mind are at least four things:

  1. Because they are spiritually dead, but made in God’s image, they at times are going to behave in a way that reflects both truths… they will do evil things and they will do kind things.  God’s law is written on the heart of every human being, and each person is without excuse for rejecting God’s salvation as seen in Jesus Christ.
  2. We all interact in the same world that God created, therefore they are capable of making observations about the world and nature that can have a measure of accuracy. To the level that a person’s world view affects their observations, they cannot be trusted… namely – the sky is blue is pretty easy for everyone to see. It is also easy for a person who is trained in the sciences to describe various conditions: e.g., your aorta is plugged. Here is how to get it unplugged. When it comes to describing the spiritual or what some call the nouthetic aspects of people (also called psychological by the world), unless they do so through soundly interpreted scripture, it is literally impossible for them to make accurate descriptions of why people do the things they do, vitamin deficiencies and the like not withstanding. It is impossible to have a sound understanding of scripture without being actually born again.
  3. You are not to embrace them or entrust yourself to them in a way that forgets that apart from God’s Grace, their final end is destruction in the lake of fire. You are not allied with them in spiritual ventures, especially the training and raising of your children in a manner that fears God. They aren’t interested in that.
  4. Because they do not have a conscience guided by God’s revealed word – the scripture – they cannot be trusted on a human level to do the right thing. That being said, acting in good faith toward them can produce the effects of their doing the right thing. They can do this because of God’s common grace shown to them.

Our firm conviction is that God’s word is sufficient for all matters pertaining to life and Godliness. We don’t need the ‘latest and greatest’ psychological studies when we have the mind of God guiding us with His Spirit by His word. Therefore, we don’t have to be afraid of those who would hold us to a standard that is not God’s standard as it concerns ‘socialization’. To be sure, there is a type of ‘street smarts’ that comes with interacting with the world; but our goal is to help our children develop the skills of interaction based on an understanding of what God’s word shows us proper interaction in  relationships is and should be… so that they will have the context for interacting rightly and appropriately with others. My speculation is that the need for ‘socialization’ as it is referred to is a secular means of trying to control parents who are seeking some valid reason to oppose the downward spiral that the culture has manifested as it rages against God in the public arena. The ‘rage’ can be vehement at times, or subtly communicated, but it is against the things that God values, nonetheless. Most of the problems we have experienced have been from fellow believers, and the thing they mention the most is socialization. So, let’s go ahead and address the problems with private schooling at home that people cite:

  1. The mother and children are not around others outside of the family for most of the day, resulting in a gradual slide in terms of a free-flowing interaction with those who are not a part of the family. This isolation can be numbing for people who feel that they need interacting with others on a regular basis.
  2. Dads are uninvolved due to their being at work throughout the day. When they try to get involved, there may be no venue, or there may be unwise venues for interacting with other adults and children.
  3. When around others, the children, due to being warned so much about others, behave in a socially awkward way.

How then do we deal with other families and the public at large when we are at a variety of venues?

The overall strategy is this: If the children are too young to protect themselves from those who would hurt them by way of direct or indirect opposition, it is our job to protect them. We are to train them so that they can recognize and defend themselves against such attacks and then perform a ‘judo’ maneuver in order to be ‘salt and light’ in a crooked and perverse generation. This training requires separation for a time, and then ongoing coaching as they encounter situations in the world as we go about our business in day to day life and while they are still under our roof.

The immediate tactics are these:

  1. Be involved in the things that are helpful for your family to whatever degree you can, outside of the home, in order to have the types of experiences helpful for the growth and development of your children.
  2. Be involved in a variety of aspects of life so that your children can see experientially the big picture of interacting with others in this life informed by God’s word, teaching and training them as you go about living life.
  3. This interaction obviously doesn’t mean that you let your values slide or embrace those that aren’t in alignment with God’s word (soundly interpreted)
  4. Don’t be dishonest or insincere – trying to make yourself out to be something that you aren’t.
  5. Do your best to present yourself in the best way possible so that you make the word of God attractive… let your walk first be evident before you talk… but at the same time don’t neglect to talk when the occasion arises, trusting God for guidance through His word and His Spirit during the various aspects of interacting with the world that you encounter. This process is just like fishing… waiting for the fish to show an interest.
  6. Don’t get stressed out about ‘being in the world’ – you aren’t of it and God has you in the palm of His loving hand. However, if it will bother someone else’s conscience, and the someone else is a Christian, then you refrain from doing the course of action because of the Christian’s conscience. Let God be the one to help the person grow to whatever other convictions may be necessary for that person.
  7. Rejoice that you are going to heaven! Going to a shopping mall with the variety of music and images around can be completely discouraging. Avoid the discouraging places if at all possible. But, when you must be around that trash, keep perspective that you are going to heaven.
  8. Finally, remember that you were a part of the same world system, and that apart from God’s Grace in your life, you still would be. And you would like it, even as you pursued a course of life that would destroy you in this world and reap further destruction in the next. Have pity on these people. Don’t be like them, though.

And remember, God sees what is happening. If you become isolated as a result of living according to a Godly standard, don’t let that trouble you. Instead, be happy – according to what Jesus said in Matthew 5, GREAT is your reward in heaven when people persecute you and treat you badly because of His kingdom… even if these people are Christians who have been misled or unbelievers who say they are Christians. God is protecting you in the various circumstances you are in. Isn’t what we see rather clearly shown in this verse?:

“Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word: “Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name’s sake, Have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy.’ But they will be put to shame.” Isaiah 66:5

 

The Spo-Dee-O-Dee ‘Christian’

This post describes the fallacy that many Christians are falling into these days concerning the drinking of beverages containing alcohol, addresses a variety of issues involved in current rationalization of drinking that we have encountered, and calls us back to a standard that separates us from the world. (By the way, I don’t hold non-Christians to these standards, and I will at the end mention a factor that actually touches on everyone; also, this is a rebuttal to those who would be belligerent in the defense of their practices, so at times it may have an air of irony).

Jerry Lee Lewis is not a friend to Righteousness, Christianity, Holiness or Godliness.

His hit song, “Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” was one of the first songs he performed in his first performance in 1949. It celebrates drinking wine and getting drunk and the fighting (pugilism – not an option for elders) that results from getting drunk. Later in life, his multiple marriages (one with a close relative) and immorality would become somewhat ‘legendary’ among performers, but is indicative, though, of the varieties of troubles that those who drink wine and linger long over mixed wine have. There are many other songs like this… Elton John’s song, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” begins with the singer getting, “…a belly full of beer” is another that comes to mind. Likewise, Elton John is no fan of Christianity, Godliness, Holiness or the Scripture.

Why, then, in their right minds would Christians seek to emulate these God-hating pagans (…of which they show that they hate God by their actions; not necessarily with their speech, which, being what it is, is cheap)? Certainly, there is a limit to guilt by association… but why is it that people who are supposed to be known for holiness and reverence engage in behaviors that are at best morally questionable and at worst antagonistic to the God they purportedly believe in?

They say:

  • Jesus drank in moderation – My response: Was the same wine he drank the same as you drink today?
  • A little won’t hurt – My response: Given that alcohol has been shown to impair a person’s judgment, when you are drinking, how do you know for certain that you have had ‘enough’? That you aren’t drunk? If you have the knowledge, isn’t it because you have been drunk?
  • Timothy was told to drink a little wine and not water for his stomach problems – My response: Was the water from then as clean as the water from today? Do you have the same stomach problems? Why not use Tums instead, or get checked out for an ulcer?
  • Christian Liberty allows me to drink wine – My response: Your freedom in Christ is to do acts of Righteousness; not licentiousness. In the United States, drinking alcohol is associated with licentiousness.

The people who have ‘confronted’ us about their use of alcohol (?) have had the following sins and troubles in their lives:

  • Immorality
  • Gross immorality and perversity of their employees
  • Getting arrested and put into jail
  • Questions about their salvation (those raised by them to us)
  • Divorce
  • Familial conflict and strife
  • Living with others outside of marriage
  • Immorality prior to marriage
  • Drunkenness of ancestors (parents / grandparents)
  • Strife
  • Love of fantasy over dealing with reality in a Godly way
  • Retreat to painkillers and other types of sedatives in order to deal with ‘life’

First, my visceral reaction to these ‘righteous’ folk who desire to teach me and my children about the benefits of their drinking alcoholic beverages includes such thoughts as, “clean up your own yard…” or in other words, you can feel free to explain to me the benefits of wine and how it is adding so much to your life AFTER you have a life worthy of admiration… or, Were the issues surrounding your divorce complicated by alcohol at all?

You see, scripture is clear:

Proverbs 23:29,30 – “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine.”

So, if you are going to defend the benefits of drinking the modern day version of wine (which is not the same as the wine back then), in my opinion, you must have a life that is worth it for me to emulate.
I’m not really interested in debating over words, what I want to see is how much better is your life as a result of drinking. If it is so good, let me see in you a life that is superlative that I want to emulate. And, that is only for wine… You can’t make a biblical case for drinking Hard drink… The only possible case you could make would be for wine. Anything else (including beer) is not even valid for the discussion. If you don’t have the life that is above reproach, don’t defend your questionable practices to me as worthy of emulation or even as benign. I have better things to do with my time… like, rearrange my sock drawer.

So, below, I have an ongoing list of some of the issues which have been brought to our consideration, and some of the thinking that I have had concerning such things. Keep in mind that I love these people. It pains me to see what they are doing. I think that they have a troubled conscience and are trying to justify themselves… otherwise, why would they bring it up to me without provocation?

Spo-dee-o-dee-isms:

  1. One of the things I have heard is that people want to give the appearance to others outside the church that it’s ok for Christians to drink alcohol from a viewpoint of being a missionary to them and adapting parts of the modern culture to fit with their practice. Why not let this subtle form of influence be that of living a clean and Godly life? I don’t know how things are elsewhere; I’m not talking about that. I am talking about the United States, though.
  2. Another is that if you don’t drink alcohol, you give evidence that you were at some time enslaved to it – therefore you should drink it as a Christian to dissuade that perspective. (This line of thinking betrays a lack of wisdom when it comes to a person seeking to escape by way of instituting habit patterns consistent with righteousness). Doesn’t necessarily mean, though, that the person is now a reformed drunk.
  3. By that opinion, if a former murderer used it, it would be ok for him to continue murdering, wouldn’t it?
  4. Have you ever been drunk? You know it is sinful from scripture. Why didn’t you stop before you got drunk? Is it because you knew your limits and proceeded anyway? Are you wiser now? Then, why do you see how close to the edge of the Grand Canyon you can get, instead of staying as far away as possible?
  5. Scripture commands us to be wise and understand what the will of the Lord is. It also says that he who is deceived (by wine) is not wise. Isn’t it a good thing to be wise? Why do you want to continue being unwise?

And finally…

We are commanded not to be drunk with wine because it is dissipation. Could it be that, even if we have never been drunk with wine (as the author) we are more drunk and more dissipated with other things – Entertainment? Coffee? Chocolate? Money? I can’t think of any mortal being in my direct personal experience, including myself, who has ever been without fault in this way. I think it is safe to say that most, if not all, of us have sinned in some form or fashion as far as it concerns dissipation.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:18

One of my Uncles took his own life who was also a drunk. Maybe we should be humble and realize our own tendency to fall, and remove as many potential traps from our lives as possible?

We are to be the master of our bodies; not our bodies being the master of us.

By the way, below are a few secular links to websites that describe the effects of alcohol:
The Government Link
The Special Interest Group
The Wikipedia Link

And also, why is it that health care practitioners sometimes ask if you drink, esp. those related to the care of children (pediatricians)?

On the Value of Losing Friends and Being Less Influential to People

(updated 2.19.2014)

Sometimes caring less for what others think can be to your advantage. This post will describe the importance of not caring about what others think of you- an experiment I did in caring less for others’ opinions, as well as a few helpful tips if you want to try this in order to take back control of your life.

After becoming a Christian, one of the key evidences to me that a spiritual (read: non-natural) change occurred was that I began to have desires that were changed. One of those was first of all lamentation – lamenting the fact that I had never worshipped God before. As I grew, another aspect of the evidence that I had been changed was that I began to care less for what people thought of me and more of what God (in my taking cues from His word, the Bible) thought of me… not that I was completely cured of what the Bible calls, “The Fear of Man,” but that was the point when the resistance began.

Growing up in the 80’s / 90’s, the teaching of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” had taken root in society in general and had resulted in an ethic (caught rather than taught) in my life of ‘pleasing people’. Some of that may be the ‘Southern Hospitality’ atmosphere that I grew up in. Additionally, some could be ascribed to peer pressure and being young. Now, I realize that there is a certain degree of people pleasing that is common to mankind and especially to children. However, the ‘people pleasing’ I am referring to has more to do with fearing what people would say or think rather than being concerned with what God thinks.

There have been numerous stories over the years that tell of a person or people who had an opportunity to speak up when it would have been wise to do so and avert a loss or disaster. Failing to do so because they would look bad or the organization would suffer a similar perceptual loss. The world system would call this ‘groupthink’ or among school aged children, ‘peer pressure’. The Bible calls it ‘fear of man,’ and it is a deadly poison one can have in one’s life.

Recently, I took on a ‘side job’ as a supplement to my income… As an architect, cash flow was running low. So concurrently, I thought it would be interesting to try an experiment, which would be to turn the Dale Carnegie philosophy on its head. In this experiment, I would not strive to be social at all. I would resist the normal flow of intra-office relationships and just keep my nose down. Mind you, I would not be unfriendly, but I would also not try to advance myself… merely just seeking to do my job quietly, working with my hands, and resisting the tendency toward Carnegieism. I will tell more of my experiment in the days to come… stay tuned!

(updated 2.19.2014)

The experiment ended on 2.13.2014 after having a really good run of a year and four months. As you can tell, my undertaking this experiment didn’t hinder my staying at a job or keeping the job- I imagine that if it would have been a problem, things would have ended a bit earlier.

Tips for Caring Less About What Others Think of You

  1. Excellence – You have to be living for a cause that is greater than yourself that will allow you to have the determined focus necessary for achieving excellence in your work. For me, that cause is Glorifying God through being faithful to my scriptural role of provision for my family.
  2. Happiness – My family has a higher priority than the people at work, therefore my goal is not to hang out with the people at work more and it is to devote as much time to being with my family as possible within the context of faithfulness to my employer as well. During the course of the time of my work there, I only spoke of my family to anyone at the job one time, and outside of the job one time… with the exception of two days before I left, when I mentioned to a fellow workmate that I had eight children, which always boggles the mind.
  3. Integrity – Care for the job over care for inter-office politics. I simply refused to play toward those in the office who were seeking to establish their micro-kingdoms or queendoms.
  4. Witness and Testimony – Modern Popular Culture Christianity trends toward a person ‘fearlessly’ being vocal about their faith at work and building friendships with others at work in order to share the gospel. Because I didn’t do this, I was in a spot to be able to hear what the unbelievers had to say about the ‘Christian’ testimony of an ex-coworker, namely, that he didn’t do good work and was always preaching. I didn’t want to be known for that or associated with that. What I have found, though, is that the employer has a bottom line as far as your ‘stay’ with him, and that bottom line is that the work is getting finished according to the standards that he has to meet. He doesn’t want your witnessing to get in the way of his bottom line. If it is, then you need to go elsewhere.
  5. Isolation can breed respect – If you know that you have an ‘issue’ that can be like a lightning rod, staying away from that issue will allow others to focus on their work. When they see you, they only think of what they know of you. If you don’t tell them the lightning rod issue (I have a family of eight children), then the only thing they can talk with you about is the actual work. This strategy decreases distraction… they may feel less like they know you, but they can trust you to get the work finished.
  6. Pick a ‘good’ quirk to be known for – for me, I picked the quirk of always having nothing on my desk when I left, other than the computer monitor, keyboard, mouse and mouse pad. When I left for the day, it was obvious. When I was there, it was also obvious. People knew that when I was there, I was working by the papers, etc. that were on my desk.
  7. Don’t take the bait – Avoid the ‘baiting’ conversation starters. By avoiding them, you again have less room for distraction. People can’t hate what they don’t know, and if what they know is not distracting, then they can’t hate you for things that are not your personality.

I learned a number of other lessons that I haven’t yet put here about this issue.

I will later make a post about women in the workplace. Oh boy- I am sure to catch some heat from this one. But, will boldly go where everyone use to go before. Nowadays, it is tremendously unpopular to talk about these issues. But, hey, I’m not trying to win friends and be more influential to people.

Nerding in Quasi-Theology Yields Similar Results as Apostasy

 “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.”  1 Corinthians 8:1 – NAS

The purpose of this post is to alert the Christian Dad to the potential dangers that come from a sort of idolatry that originates in academic circles, why I believe this happens, and what you can do to guard yourself from it.

What is ‘nerding’? I would define ‘nerding’ as having an inordinate concern for a topic… any topic, for that matter, which results in an idolatrous regard for minutiae. ‘Nerding’ is the modern day equivalent to the consideration of “how many angels can fit on the head of a pin” and is contrasted with a legitimate declaration of the good and bad aspects of any argument in particular.

‘Quasi-Theology’ I define to be that sort of teaching that has an atmosphere of believability and soundness, but which is ultimately not able to affect one’s life for any positive value at all which would result in further sanctification or holiness. It usually trends toward an emphasis on certain aspects of faith or practice to the exclusion of others.

‘Apostasy’ I understand to be when a person leaves the faith… that person who was not ever converted – truly born again – proves he is an apostate by way of leaving the faith and taking on characteristics of an unbeliever.

So, let’s get started…

The big picture Category is Post-Christian America…, and here is where I would like to start addressing the tendency that Academic pride trends toward philosophies and theories that, when applied, result in a life that looks more like an apostate than one who is truly free in Christ at best and at worst, not even a Christian.

The basic gist of the topic is that within the larger subset of the Academic Milieu of ‘Publish or Perish’, in a theological context, there is a danger in developing theories that may sound and look good, internally consistent and the like, but when applied ‘where the rubber meets the road…’ – daily life, the theories fall short and prove to be just that – theories. One can look at the ‘barren wasteland’ of the lives of many pastors’ children and see that the focus on the theoretical without the implementation practically of what the word of God actually says results in harm to the hearer.

One of the ways the idea manifests itself is this: since an elder must have believing children in order to actually be considered an elder, there must be a way to literally observe the lives of the children prior to a person being appointed an elder. This observation is impossible while the family is still young, the children are still young and the parents are still young. So, if one must wait until one’s children can be judged to be believing or not by way of their being old enough to demonstrate a life that is submissive to God’s will (…say, in their mid thirties, perhaps…) , being a ‘young’ elder is impossible. However, if the seminary re-interprets God’s word to mean something else (elder doesn’t mean older), then it’s O.K. for people who are chronologically younger to be considered an ‘elder’. The redefinition of ‘elder’ now doesn’t mean ‘older’, instead it means more spiritually qualified.

The argument in favor of an ‘elder’ being younger is: in Titus 1, Titus was given authority by Paul to appoint elders. The only way Titus could have this authority is if he was also an elder. Titus wasn’t an older man. Since Titus wasn’t an older man, chronological age isn’t an actual requirement to be an elder.

However, it seems as though the mistake being made here is found in the common saying I heard as a child, “It takes one to know one”. The mistaken assumption is that you have to be an elder in order to recognize and appoint an elder. The first component of ‘recognition’ is easily dismissed, because we are told the qualifications for an elder, and are told to aspire to being an elder. If the qualifications weren’t immediately obvious and possible to be considered by anyone and everyone to be either present or lacking in an individual, then the recognition factor becomes moot. Recognition is something that any person can do if they are aware of the categories and they know the person’s life. The second component of appointing is easily answered by the authority that Paul had. Paul could tell Titus what to do, and by the Authority that Jesus Christ gave to Paul in matters concerning the church, his authority was binding. If he chose to delegate the authority to Titus, then it was sufficient for God’s will to be done in that specific circumstance.

Titus 2:1 is translated as ‘Older’ and as ‘Elder’. Titus 2:6  is translated as ‘Younger’. These are two different words, with different admonitions.

Not minimizing the need for more Godly individuals and to be certain, it may be that a given church doesn’t have enough Godly older people in order to have elders that are truly qualified to be elders.

Also, this isn’t a complaint against a specific individual, as much as it is a realization that we have, nationwide, young men serving in positions that it would be more helpful if older people were in those same positions. This also isn’t a complaint against them because they are young. The complaint rests in the fact that the people aren’t following the clear meaning of scripture.

He serves in the church and his family may or may not make it through to the other side. Just because there is a seeming latitude in the text doesn’t mean we can take it and run with it to make it mean whatever we want it to.

The solution is to recognize that Timothy wasn’t called an Elder. He was called a workman (ἐργάτης). Neither was Titus called an Elder. These guys weren’t elders, because they didn’t meet the minimum age requirement.

Another example is, let’s say a pastor writes a famous book or series of books on a parenting topic. His actual parenting results in familial rift that results in court orders and children essentially being at war with their parents and vice versa. In this example, his teaching may have a degree of internal consistency and may sound excellent on face value, but when actually implemented, it results in harm to those it was intended to help minister to.

To speak with authority to any topic, one must be able to demonstrate by one’s life that the things that one is teaching are true (in addition to it being soundly interpreted). It is too easy to be able to write something without having the life to back it up. It is also really easy to be unclear in the things one writes and thereby mislead people… all of this not withstanding the fact that people may misinterpret the things one writes.

A third example is in the ‘Biblical Counseling’ movement, where there is an evident rightful desire to conform everything to a proper understanding of scripture, but at some point the people lose their way and prudence, sensible living, understanding and wisdom fly out the door. They become known, not for what they stand for, as much as what they stand against, resulting in a quasi nominal orthodoxy in place of a positive living for Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There is so much of a focus on the ‘theory’ surrounding Biblical Counseling that the practice doesn’t look much like the Bible being practiced.

There is something about the behaviors pictured in the Bible as good, healthy and trending toward life that the misapplied theology often negates, resulting in harm coming to the hearers. Examples of this range anywhere from Tattoos to the Holy Spirit.

Why I would like to raise this issue is: haven’t we had enough of living fruitless lives that have an atmosphere more like pre-conversion gentiles than Christians whose lives have been radically altered for the Kingdom of God? What do you think? Have you ever seen or heard of an example of Academic Pride resulting in damage and life behaviors in Christians that cause them to look more like pagans than Christians?

So, at the heart of the issue is one’s desire… is the desire toward an exaltation of self via the puffery stemming from knowledge divorced from understanding and action, or is it the acquisition of knowledge with the purpose of living a more Godly life?

Dealing with the Enemy

We had an incredible trip. I had successfully undergone one of the most difficult, in terms of the preparation I sought to achieve, tasks of my life – preparing for the CSE- and was successful, as I would find out a few months later. But not only was the trip successful in that way, it was also successful in the time that I had with my family. Part of the underlying premise that my wife and I were testing in a ‘trial by fire’ method was: “can one successfully have something as potentially meaningful as a vacation and also do something as difficult as take the oral Architecture Exam” or in other words, “Does family always need to be put on the backburner in order to successfully focus and achieve professional goals?” The answer was a resounding ‘No’. In fact, during the trip, my family served as a helpful ‘distraction’ which allowed me the time to both study and let the study material sink in. Some of my kids even helped me study my flashcards, which was helpful for me and instructive toward them.

After the exam, there was a huge sense of relief. Our plan was to go north to Muir woods after spending the rest of the day touring San Francisco. Although logistically hurried at times, our day was fabulous and included such things as seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, ride a trolley car, and the like… totally fun and memorable. We finished the day at Lincoln Park, where we say an incredible view of the bridge and the bay leading to it. I was able to take a few photos from which I later made a painting. We left with happy and full hearts, rejoicing in God’s kindness to us and relieved that my own personal mental marathon was over. Or so I thought…

It was getting late, and we were driving north to stay at a hotel that wasn’t far, on the map, from Muir woods. We were running low on gas, and the children were starting to get irritable. When we finally got to the hotel, we discovered that it was closed and had been for some time. Keep in mind, our planning had all been ‘on the fly’ – so to speak, and had progressed with no real trouble up until this point.

Although late, we decided to turn around and go back to the only hotel we saw that looked like it would be sufficient. It was a Larkspur hotel. Incredibly nice – beautiful – a sight for sore eyes. We arrived around eleven o’clock and were able to check in and get settled, relieved that we now had a place to lay our heads. We had just enough gas at that point to make it to the hotel and to the gas station the next day.

Like clockwork, the next day was great, in getting up, getting everyone organized, getting food, and preparing for our little family excursion into Muir woods (which I also later made another painting of…)

The scenery was beautiful. However, some of the people weren’t.

There was one guy there who, upon seeing my family (then nine of us) got really hot under the collar. He was livid. Seeing a big family caused him to be filled with rage. I won’t here mention the things that he said… but his bent toward a so-called ‘progressive liberalism’ was evident. His comments were along the lines of – After all, the world is over populated… how could we in good conscience have so many children? Keep in mind, we just showed up. We did nothing to this man. We did nothing to provoke his anger and we certainly said nothing to him before his rant. We discreetly moved along, and thankfully, he was going in the opposite direction to our path of travel.

For me, this was another anecdotal evidence that we are living in a ‘post-Christian’ America. Not that everyone is Christian who claims it, nor that everyone who isn’t lives in ‘civil’ mode of interaction with the public. This real life example was of a classic ‘liberal’ person who has plenty of toleration for the perverse, but no toleration of what should be normal. He was being hypocritical to his views, but letting me and my family know in no uncertain terms that we were immoral for having (within marriage) such a large family. If this was an isolated case, I wouldn’t think that it was a general societal trend. We have encountered more subtle but worse from those who claim to be our ‘brothers and sisters’. He wasn’t discreet about his anger at all, but his discretion was understandable- after all, he is not redeemed, he is fleshly, worldly, and thereby demonic. This case wasn’t the only time we have had negative comments about our family size, although that has been the most memorable time outside of the church. And yes, we have had people make comments about our family size from the church. It’s not fun and it’s not encouraging.

Raising a family can be difficult enough, but to have people seeking to bring you down can be especially troubling. How do we deal with it? Well, the way that I see things is this:

The warfare we are in is spiritual, but that doesn’t mean it is without its pains in the physical world at times. If we look at the book of Job, we understand that Satan is an instrument in God’s hands useful in order to refine us. So, although the evil of Satan and his people is no less evil, having the understanding that God is allowing the evil for my benefit is actually encouraging. God has Satan under control. God has appointed trouble for our lives to transform us into the image of Jesus Christ… a totally worthy attainment.

Some of the most trying moments we have faced as a family have been from people who were alleged friends, but who were in reality substituting for the enemy. We know that people, made of flesh, are not the enemy, but they are at times used by him to try to either distract or destroy us. This ultimate enemy is Satan. But, he uses pawns of people at times to work his will.

We aren’t unaware of his tactics. Spiritually, this is the progression:

  1. Encourage people to doubt God.
  2. They then become willing to disobey Him.
  3. When they are rightfully punished for their disobedience, attribute it to something other than disobedience.
  4. Encourage them to suppress the truth about God.
  5. Encourage them to love and worship the creation over worshipping the Creator.
  6. God then gives them over to a warped mind.
  7. They become foolish and darkened in their hearts, to the point that they can no longer perceive spiritual light
  8. Enslave them through continued disobedience.
  9. They destroy themselves and those around them.

So, the interaction that people have today with satan and the demonic isn’t necessarily as much like a Hollywood spectacle as it is dealing with the effects of sin in one’s day-to-day life. My perspective is that demonic influence in today’s world is as common as the songs listened to on the radio (not necessarily O.O. Either), commercials, etc.

You can thereby see that evil must be contained. There is no solution for dealing with evil apart from its ultimate demise.

How can we tactically identify our enemy’s work so we won’t become his victims? Satan’s tactics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. Persuade people to take brain altering substances, such as alcohol and drugs. This partaking opens them up to what is called dissipation – a numbing of the conscience – that allows demonic influence to be possible.
  2. When under this state of influence, encourage people to violate God’s laws, especially those pertaining to sexual immorality. This encouragement is done through demonic influence of those who have been immoral. In fact, one could rightly say that to the degree one has been immoral, that is the degree to which the person has been influenced / dominated by things taught by demons,
  3. They then cultivate destructive habits and ways of relating to people, including strife, factions, divisions and warfare.
  4. Once people are divided and at war with each other it is easy to then pick them off and enslave them with greater sins… consequently removing their usefulness to God’s Kingdom…
  5. Which is the plan behind demonic influence It’s all about making sure that that people forget or don’t believe God’s judgment and His forgiveness of sins through Jesus’s work on the cross.

For Christians and those who have recently become Christians, there are still consequences to deal with from one’s previous way of life; part of that is the upbringing and social views of children. Often, those views get carried into church life, regardless of the actual Biblical teaching… some habits, especially those of thought, die hard. Much criticism is leveled at things that are not understood; part of this lack of understanding is ignorance of God’s word.