Rarely does a big budget Hollywood movie come along that reflects history and the Christian faith of the protagonists in an historical event accurately and faithfully.
GODS AND GENERALS, based on the best selling book by Jeff Shaara, is such a movie. It tells the powerful story of the most important event in the history of the USA in an accurate and faith honoring way.
There has never been an historic event in the life of the United States of America which influenced the nation and the American people as much as the Civil War or the War Between the States or the War of Northern Aggression, depending on your point of view. This tragic yet heroic event pitted brother against brother on an immense scale.
1. Faith in God. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. The first commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Let your faith in God and his son, Jesus Christ be the solid bedrock foundation of your marriage. Use these two passages as the theme passages of your marriage. Marriage is God ordained. Remember marriage and the family is God's building block for society. "God first" is an easy principle to say and one with which all believers in Christ would intellectually agree. How does one make this principle a habit? Your job as a husband is to wash your wife in the Word. Make a commitment to pray with and for each other daily. While each of you may understand the importance of daily personal devotions, you need to make family worship as a couple top priority as well. An evening devotional prior to retiring for the night allows you to resolve any issues under the blanket of caring protection of your heavenly father and avoids letting the sun go down on your wrath.
Many years ago, when God gave us our first child, I made a silent promise to myself to stop giving advice on child-rearing until AFTER my own kids were safely grown up, educated, married and still in the faith. Quite frankly, I have always been less than impressed with men who "knew it all" theoretically, but were unable to put their wonderful theories into practice. For example, I have known "experts" who were "brilliant" marriage counselors but ended up divorced; and I have seen more than a few men with international reputations as Bible scholars whose personal lives were terrible messes. I certainly did not want to join these ranks but instead demonstrate that by consistently applying basic Biblical principles we had succeeded in raising godly, self-governed kids.
But I do not always have the luxury of covering my assets this way. One of a Pastor's most important duties is to proclaim and explain the Word of God for the benefit of His people. If we pastors do not or cannot understand and apply God's principles of managing the family, then we ought to show a little integrity and go sell used cars or something. Therefore, despite my reservations, I need to address some issues in this essay that will be far too close to home for many Christians; when "good" kids go bad. This is not going to be an easy essay for you to read. I have some hard things to say and some will accuse me of being harsh and uncharitable. But honestly and sincerely, I really do want to help. And sometimes, the kindest, most loving thing you can do is telling someone something that they would rather not hear.
It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I offer the following appraisal of Rev. E. Ray Moore's new book, Let My Children Go. This excellent tool is designed to recapture K-thru-12 Christian education as a church-related and family-related ministry. Rev. Moore has put together what could be the very instrument used to help turn American culture away from the abyss of intellectual and spiritual decay. But before the church can restore its God-ordained role towards assisting the K-thru-12 education of Christian children, its pastors and other leaders must comprehend and apply what Moore identifies as "a Biblical theology of education."
In Let My Children Go, Rev. Moore, through the use of God's Word and traditional Christian worldview logic, paves the way for our realization of the sharp differences between the mission of humanist-oriented, state education contrasted with the Biblical basis for Christian education in the home and private schools. Many of these differences are seemingly harmless until one examines them with the light God gives each and every Christian. And, according to Moore, we must set aside our humanist inclinations and consider this issue from God's perspective, not our own. We must apply God-centered thinking, as opposed to man-centered thinking when it comes to encouraging the church towards "a Biblical theology of education."
What is the most important question that any human being can ever ask? It can be asked in several ways: How can I live to the glory of God? What does God require of me? How does God want me to live my life? How can I live so as to please God? What does God desire of me? But all of these questions amount to the same question - the most important question any of us can ever ask - "How should I live so as to glorify God with my life?"
Until a person is brought by the Holy Spirit to ask this question with the sincere desire to live with the answer, he or she is living for himself or herself, and therefore is a rebel in God's universe. Until he asks this question, his primary concern is how he wants to live, how he can live so as to please himself, how he can satisfy the desires of his own heart. Until he asks this question, he is pretending that he is not created in God's image for he has no intention of living for God's pleasure and enjoying Him forever. He is living in complete self deception.
This initial essay is not intended to be an extensive response to the biblical, theological, and historical assertions made by the main speakers at the 2003 Auburn Avenue Pastor's Conference (hereafter AAPC), instead I will have time to address the speaker's comments in greater detail in following installments. In this first part, I wish to give a brief overview and critique of the conference and to give my own highly subjective observations of the events that transpired.
My intention in writing this critique is not to snipe at the participants from a concealed position. It is my intention to make copies of this essay available electronically to all the speakers at the conference, and indeed I do not intend to say anything in these pages I would not say to them in person, or in a court of the church.
This Covenant Pledges Grace to Persevere
On the eternal certainty of this covenant is founded the faithfulness of the gospel offer, pledging God to every sinner who believes and repents, that he shall through Christ receive saving grace; and among those gracious influences thus pledged with eternal truth to the believer, from the moment he truly believes, is persevering grace. (Jer. 32:40); (proved to be the gospel pledge by Heb. 8:10); (Isa. 54:10); (Hos. 2:19, 20); (1 Thess. 5:23, 24); (John 10:27); (1 Pet. 1:5); (Rom. 8:1 to end). These are a few from the multitude of promises, assuring us of our final safety from every possible influence, when once they are truly in Christ.
In this his latest book, Douglas Wilson argues that contemporary Reformed theology has become gnostic in recent years. While there are positive things about this book (Wilson affirms various orthodox doctrines and interacts with historic Reformed teaching), there are many negative things. In the end, the negative outweighs the positive as Wilson ends up tilting at windmills - attacking opponents that simply do not exist, or at least whom he does not demonstrate to exist.
Let us therefore first turn to Wilson's case and then critique his arguments.
How many times have we sung "Joy to the World?" How many different versions do we have on various collections of "seasonal" music? Joy to the world has become one of the most beloved Christmas carols. But it's really not a carol-its a hymn! And it's really not only about the incarnation of Christ, it's also about His second coming!
Do not misunderstand, there's nothing wrong with singing songs about Jesus' birth. We can even do it in December. (This is not an article about the validity of celebrating Christmas...for a good discussion on this topic, refer to Chris Strevel's article in a past issue of the Counsel.) To better understand this wonderful hymn, it invaluable to learn who Isaac Watts was and to remember why he wrote it.
For thirty years John Thompson has been my beloved friend, confidant, and comrade-in-arms in the war for truth and for the conquest of western culture with the gospel of Christ. In the early years, when I was a young pastor in Bristol, Tennessee, John and I would see each other several times a week. Our families soon became close as we worshipped together, fellowshipped together, served God together, and together watched our children grow to adults. It was a rich and satisfying journey through various phases of life.