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...

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...

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...

Presuppositions – Why They Matter

Presuppositions – Why They Matter Ever had a conversation with someone, and all the while you had the nagging feeling that they didn’t WANT to be convinced by your point of view? Did it seem that they were merely trying to defend their current viewpoint, or even formulating their rebuttal to your argument, before they had even heard or understood your thesis? The fact is, you were probably right. That is almost certainly what was happening. I’ll explain why: Presuppositions. Before we embark on a study, enter a conversation, or begin an activity, we all have preconceived ideas and notions that inform how we engage such an endeavor. There are things that we suppose, or take for granted, without even consciously thinking about it. We all make a priori assumptions about matters, even before we have all of the basic facts (based on our prior experience). These biases or preconditioned notions are called Presuppositions. Presuppositions Shape Our Worldview Presuppositions help to shape our worldview (the lenses through which we see all of life and reality). The older people get, the more convinced they are that their view of the world is correct. When they hear something new, their first reaction, if it is unfamiliar territory for them, and especially if it runs counter to their preconceived notions, is to reject it immediately as being false. They presume that if this new information were actually true, they would have surely heard it before now. Especially if what you are telling them goes against what people they love and respect have taught them, you are almost certainly never going to turn them to your point of view immediately. Sometimes people have too much emotionally invested in their Presuppositions to consider the possibility that they might be wrong. Because of the deeply held emotional attachment that people hold to their ideas (a person’s beliefs are an extension of their personhood), in one sense, there is almost no way for them NOT to be defensive of their Presuppositions.  For many people to question, or attack, their beliefs, is to attack THEM. I hope realizing this will help you to understand these dynamics better, and to cause you not to have too high of an expectation regarding what you are capable of doing in persuading another person to believe something they are not previously inclined to want to believe. In the end, it takes time and patience and a sovereign act of God to see someone change his or her worldview. Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and the...

Why School Vouchers are Bad for Conservatives

Why School Vouchers are Bad for Conservatives For those not familiar with the concept of school vouchers, it is the idea that instead of you sending your child to a local government school that is mandated to you by your school district, you can receive funds from the government (in the form of vouchers) which could be used to pay tuition at a parochial, private or home schools of your choosing. The thought behind this is, “Tax money is my money, and therefore I should be able to spend it however I like.” The whole idea of school vouchers is wrong-headed in many ways. Now granted, the NEA and leftist bureaucrats are against private vouchers, as they see them pulling more children away from “public” education, which they believe is essential for helping children to become good citizens. So anything that the liberal education establishment is against must be a good thing, right? Well, in this case…no. School vouchers are a bad idea for several reasons: 1. To argue for vouchers is to imply that the government has a valid, compelling interest in the education of children. I disagree with this premise on several levels, but you will have to see my previous essay, “A Christian Education Manifesto” for a bit more of the rationale behind that. God has given children to parents, not to the government, to feed, clothe, shelter and educate. 2. Vouchers are confiscatory and amount to nothing less than legal plunder. (For more on the concept of “legal plunder” I refer you to Frederic Bastiat’s excellent book on government and economics, “The Law.”) The concept of taking from the rich (or those who have) to give to the poor (those who have not) may sound good in the Robin Hood fables, but it is nothing less than an immoral breaking of the 8th Commandment of God: “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” It is no less immoral simply because it is the government doing it. In fact, as the agency that is established by God to uphold righteousness, it is that much worse. See my essay, “Robin Hood and the Government Schools” for more on this. 3. Once the government takes your money, it is no longer “your money,” it is now “their money.” This is true of all theft. Unless you can forcibly get it back, it is now in their possession to spend as they see fit. Imagine that you were robbed at gun point by a thug in a back alley....

Christians & Profanity

Christians & Profanity I am an admin for a Facebook group with over 10,000 professing Christians. When we review requests to join the group, it is often disheartening to see the number of profiles that contain lewd pictures, crass jokes, and straight-up profanity on their Facebook walls. Often, there are Bible verses and cuss words randomly interspersed throughout their posts. We also end up having to delete a lot of posts from members who use profane or obscene language in their posted conversations. I believe many/most of these people are actually church-going, professing Christians. What troubles me most about this is that you have to be far more intentional about what you type, or post, than you are about what you say verbally. If you slam your fingers in the car door, something will emit from your vocal chords and your mouth. It’s not premeditated. I am thankful, that because I never started the nasty habit of swearing, for me, it’s not cuss words. If cussing is your background, and/or you were raised with profane language, that may, unfortunately, be your default (until Christ has renewed your mind). But online, you actually have to think about using that curse word, and you have to type it out…and you can even go back and delete it after you typed it. So there is really just no excuse for that kind of behavior whatsoever. Admittedly, sometimes it’s not actually using the word itself, it’s the popular online acronyms (for example: OMG! for Oh My God!). Evoking God or Jesus in everyday, crude references shows disrespect and a lack of honor for what is holy. If you don’t mean to say the actual words, don’t use the acronyms that represent them either. To give the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to assume that perhaps many new Christians have simply not studied what the Bible has to say on this issue, and are ignorant of what God requires of us as His followers. Please allow me to share some Scriptures on this topic for your consideration. Colossians 3:8 ESV: But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Ephesians 4:29 ESV: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. James 3:10 ESV: From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things...

The Need for Hermeneutics

The Need for Hermeneutics A while back, I spoke at an event for homeschooled graduates and asked the audience to respond to the question, “Do you believe that the 66 books of the Bible are, in the original manuscripts, the inspired and inerrant word of God?” 98% of the attendees at this Christian event affirmed their faith in the Bible. That was both comforting and odd, especially since on 91% of the attendees identified themselves as belonging to the Christian faith. However, in conversation with many of these same young adults, they seemed to have no ability to actually apply the Bible contextually to their lives. In discussing an issue, if I quoted a Scripture verse, many would say, “Well, that was in the Old Testament, so that does not apply,” or “That is in the gospels, which was written to the Jews, so that does not apply to us,” or “That was written by Paul, who was a homophobe and a male chauvinist,” or “That epistle was written to a specific group of people at that time regarding specific problems in their culture, so you can’t apply that to us as American Christians,” or “That is just your interpretation,” or “You are taking that out of context,” etc., etc. The question I am often led to ask them is, “”Is there anything at all in the Bible that you believe actually applies to you?!” The problem is, they really don’t know. They are sure something in there probably does, but they kind of randomly pick and choose which parts they like. What this does is essentially strip away their supposed belief in the Authority of Scripture. Christian Apologist, Cornelius Van Til used to say, “The Bible is authoritative on everything of which it speaks. Moreover, it speaks of everything.” This group of young adults has adopted a Postmodern view of the interpretation of the Bible, which is skeptical about any objective claim of definitive knowledge or certainty. I would encourage you to teach your children about how we got the Bible. Teach them about the compilation of the Canon of Scripture. Teach them about why the Bible is true (as opposed to the Quran or other religious books). Explain to them why the 66 books of our Bible can be trusted, and why the Gnostic “gospels,” the Apocrypha, and other Pseudographical books are NOT included in our Bible. As a family, study some sound books on Biblical Hermeneutics (the study of how we study...

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© Israel Wayne.