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Jul
22

In Defense of Shame

In Defense of Shame Shame (and shaming) is something our culture seeks to avoid at all costs. It is deemed to be “unkind,” and therefore, “not nice,” and therefore something we should never experience, or hope for others to experience. Is that how God sees the subject? What is God’s view? Are we viewing this issue through the lenses of Scripture, or the lenses of secular culture? First of all, it might be helpful for us to define the term. Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary says of the noun form: A painful sensation excited by a consciousness of guilt, or of having done something which injures reputation; or by that which nature or modesty prompts us to conceal. Shame is particularly excited by the disclosure of actions which, in the view of men, are mean and degrading. Hence it is often or always manifested by a downcast look or by blushes, called confusion of face. And of the verb (as in “shaming” someone): To make ashamed; to excite a consciousness of guilt or of doing something derogatory to reputation; to cause to blush. The concept of disgrace is rooted in a universal moral law. There is an objective “right” and an objective “wrong.” There are truths that are true for all people, in all places, at all times. I believe the main reason people in our postmodern age chafe against the notion of shame, is that they also, even subconsciously, are fuzzy in their minds about the absolute nature of moral truth. Most people today, even Christians, essentially believe that all truth is relative, and that everyone has a different “truth,” or set of ethics that are right “for them.” God is, in His very nature and character, the standard that defines right and wrong. He IS truth. That which does not conform to His personhood is sinful. When we fall short of His righteous standard, our conscience alerts us that we are not living the way we should. (Ravi Zacharias has also spoken on this topic.) What does the Bible say about shame? Let’s examine some examples of God shaming the rebellious: “All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let...
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...
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.