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Dec
12

The Threat of Smaug: A Call for Christian Unity

The Threat of Smaug: A Call for Christian Unity Christians can be so short-sighted. I’ll never forget a vivid illustration that author / speaker, Kevin P. Swanson, used once regarding Christian unity at a national homeschool leadership meeting. He said (based on his best guesstimate) that if you total up the entire gross revenue of all of the major right-wing Christian organizations in the U.S. (Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, American Family Association, Family Research Council, etc.), their collective annual income is about $250 million dollars.   That sounds like a lot of money, until you consider that just ONE organization, Planned Parenthood, receives over $1 BILLION dollars a year (4x the amount of ALL of those Christian organizations put together), and half of that, $500,000,000 is government funded.   It’s like there is this horrible dragon of evil that desires to destroy our homes, our marriages, our churches, our civilization, and we, collectively, are like a flea on the back leg of the dragon, whose intended purpose is to bite the leg of the dragon. But rather than doing that, we chew our own legs off!   If another Christian doesn’t agree with us on the Calvinist / Arminian debate, or if they speak in tongues (or don’t), or their view of end-times is different than ours, or whatever…we distance ourselves, speak disparagingly behind their back, and refuse to work with them in any way, because they aren’t EXACTLY like us.   We so need to get over ourselves. The strongest argument against Christianity is Christians. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) If someone is preaching a false gospel, they need to be opposed. This is not a call to doctrine-free, relativistic, ecumenism. But if another Christian just isn’t like you (or works for a different Christian ministry, or attends a different church, than you)…seriously?! We need to remember the big picture, and refuse to shoot anyone in our own foxhole. Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is author of the book, Questions Jesus Asks: Where Divinity Meets Humanity. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net. Photo credit: eigirdaz via Foter.com / CC...
Dec
11

Johannes Kepler on Mathematics, Astronomy, Harmony and Worship

Johannes Kepler on Mathematics, Astronomy, Harmony and Worship As I’m working on a writing project this week, I have been reading through some of Johannes Kepler‘s book, Harmonices Mundi (Harmonies of the World) (1619).   Kepler was discussing a fascinating correlation he discovered between the interdependence of planetary motion, geometry, and musical harmony. Admittedly, I am, intellectually, to Kepler what a paper airplane is to a fighter jet. So many of the details of his discoveries are way over my head. However, what struck me is what happened to Kepler at the very end of this essay.   He was so overcome by the beauty and precision of the obviously created universe that he burst into spontaneous worship, thinking about how he (and us) should then live in light of the knowledge that God has made all things for His glory. “While I struggle to bring forth this process into the light of human intellect by means of the elementary form customary with geometers, may the Author of the heavens be favourable, the Father of intellects, the Bestower of mortal senses, Himself immortal and superblessed, and may He prevent the darkness of our mind from bringing forth in this work anything unworthy of His Majesty, and may He effect that we, the imitators of God by the help of the Holy Ghost, should rival the perfection of His works in sanctity of life, for which He choose His church throughout the Earth and, by the blood of His Son, cleansed it from sins, and that we should keep at a distance all the discords of enmity, all contentions, rivalries, anger, quarrels, dissensions, sects, envy, provocations, and irritations arising through mocking speech and the other works of the flesh; and that along with myself, all who possess the spirit of Christ will not only desire but will also strive by deeds to express and make sure their calling, by spurning all crooked morals of all kinds which have been veiled and painted over with the cloak of zeal or of the love of truth or of singular erudition or modesty over against contentious teachers, or with any other showy garment. Holy Father, keep us safe in the concord of our love for one another, that we may be one, just as Thou art one with They Son, Our Lord, and with the Holy Ghost, and just as through the sweetest bonds of harmonies Thou hast made all Thy works one; and that from the bringing of Thy people...
Oct
5

Good & Angry — David Powlison (a book review)

Good & Angry — David Powlison (a book review) Good & Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining & Bitterness — by David Powlison (a review by Israel Wayne) As an author of a book on anger myself, I was intrigued to see David Powlison’s take on this important topic. I have read many books on anger, and have been impressed by very few of them. Many have created a victim status for those who express habitual anger. The goal seems to be that we need to excuse people from their harmful behavior, because they just can’t help what they do. These books may make someone feel better, in the short term, but the devastation of ruined relationships will continue. In the end, people who struggle with addictive anger patterns need hope that they can change and that life can better. Telling someone, “We all have hang-ups, so don’t stress about yours,” isn’t kind, or healing. It’s actually infinitely cruel, in the long run. I sometimes suspect that such authors end up promoting hopeless advice like: “Just forgive yourself and don’t be so hard on yourself,” because they have not found any true solutions in their own life. As a Christian, I am always hopeful that another Christian author will appeal to the only fixed reference point in the universe: The nature and character of God as He has expressed Himself in the Bible. My hopes are usually dashed. But not because most Christian authors don’t quote the Bible. They do. It’s just that they do so in a peripheral way. It’s almost like Jesus is a plug-in to a Humanistic worldview software program. The main solution is to either try harder (through your own human effort – which is a sure way to fail), or to abandon hope altogether. In “Good & Angry,” I was delightfully surprised to note that David Powlison appealed to the wisdom of God as THE final source of truth on the topic of overcoming anger. The book is not merely a litany of random Bible verses, however, instead it is thoughtful and practical in its application of God’s specific teaching on this matter. David does a good job in sorting out the difference between what we might call “righteous indignation,” and harmful human anger that destroys relationships and hurts people. He describes the root sources of anger, and provides Biblically-based solutions for breaking free from the anger habit. This book will on a very short list of books that I will recommend for those...
Sep
29

Why Does God Not Answer Your Prayer?

Why Does God Not Answer Your Prayer? Over the years I’ve heard people say, “God doesn’t answer my prayers. The heavens are silent and He doesn’t respond or grant my requests.” What does the Bible say about prayer? There are quite a few factors and conditions to answered prayer and the Bible provides us with quite a few reasons why you may not be receiving what you are seeking. Let’s look together at some of them. Are You Born Again? As far as I can tell from the Scriptures, the only prayer God promises to hear from an unbeliever is the prayer of repentance. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 12:27). If you are not hearing from God, perhaps you are not a sheep. You May Not Have Asked in Prayer As simple as it may seem, perhaps you have never actually made your request known to God. He knows what you need before you even ask or think, but He desires for you to come to Him in prayer. “Ask (and keep on asking) and it shall be given to you; seek (and keep on seeking), and you shall find; knock (and keep on knocking), and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). “ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). “ Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2b). You Need to Ask the Father in Jesus’ Name “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14). “You did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you” (John 15:16). “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father for anything, He will give it to you in My name. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and...
Feb
4

Homeschooling and Public School Partnership Programs

Homeschooling and Public School Partnership Programs Homeschooling and Public School Partnership Programs by Kenneth Knott   For many homeschoolers, August represents a time of final planning for the upcoming academic year.  In doing so, wise parents naturally ask themselves if they are employing the most effective methods of instruction possible.  While some parents are content with implementing only minor adjustments to their routines, other parents are desperate for solutions for the various challenges they perceive.  It is not surprising, then, to witness a growing number of homeschoolers joining the various “partnership” programs offered by the public school system. There are a number of reasons why public school partnerships generally represent less-than-ideal approaches for most homeschoolers.   Before we discuss some of these reasons, it may be useful to review the historical context in which these partnerships have emerged.  While doing so, I’ll occasionally share certain firsthand experiences to help illustrate the shortcomings of these approaches. From Grassroots to Mainstream to Partnerships Homeschooling as commonly expressed today began as a grassroots movement in the mid-‘70s to early-‘80s.  Back then, the pioneers that initiated the movement didn’t call what they were doing “homeschooling.”  They simply schooled their children at home, intuitively knowing they were providing a better way for their children than the one offered through the public school system or through private education. As homeschooling gained initial momentum, a number of public school systems challenged its legality.  Many school districts did not recognize nor respect the God-given right for parents to be directly involved with their children’s education.  The arrogance of certain districts was so extreme that lawsuits were sometimes filed against parents for allegedly refusing to abide by certain compulsory attendance laws.  As providence would have it, virtually none of those lawsuits were successful.  By the mid-‘90s, essentially every state in the union formally recognized homeschooling as a viable and legal option.  Thankfully, Michigan emerged as one of the more “homeschool friendly” states. By the end of the millennium, homeschooling became essentially mainstream and, for the last couple of decades, has enjoyed certain reputable notoriety.  However, many educational professionals remained uneasy, most notably those in charge of budgets who resented the fact that thousands of dollars were no longer being received for every homeschooler who was no longer enrolled in the system.  Also at play was a general “the experts know best” attitude on behalf of many professionals; they were just sure homeschoolers were somehow neglecting their children.  Conversely, certain homeschoolers expressed their own resentments, sour...

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© Israel Wayne.