Sunday, October 30, 2005

Her husband praises her (Proverbs 31:28)

My wife and I will celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary in December, and I just want to tell the world that she is awesome! She is a sparkling jewel, the true Proverbs 31 woman. If there is a flaw in her character, I don't see it, and I certainly won't go looking for it. She gives. She loves. She endures.

After blessing me with seven wonderful children, she labors to give me every comfort of home she can, always looking to please me in all things. She is patient. She is kind. She is warm. In reality, she is my home.

May God be praised for giving such a blessing to me! With all my heart, and with God's help, I affirm that I will treat her as the magnificent treasure that she is. Many daughters have done nobly, my dearest Susie, but you excel them all. (from Proverbs 31:29)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Heroes Part 3

Great stories can inspire heroism, helping it to bubble up and spring forth, even against a tide of mediocrity. When we see heroes in literature, we are challenged. If we find that the heroes are more brave and virtuous than we are, do we strive to be like them, or do we remain where we are, satisfied with the mediocrity that holds us in place? That's the power of a story that provides true heroes. It gives us a model, someone to follow and imitate.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a movement in Christian literature toward what some call "realism" or "honesty" in storytelling. What does that really mean? From what I have read, it seems that making Christians more sinful, showing them struggling (and failing) against inner, fleshly conflict, is, for some, the key to making stories more "real." Far from portraying a Christian as virtuous, consistently obedient, even heroic, these stories portray the worst possible scenario, the Christian who disobeys. In other words, it displays the hypocrite as being the normal, real, honest portrayal of Christianity.

True "Reality" is so far from this imagined concept of the Christian life! "Honest" portrayals of faith in Christ should demontrate faithfulness, mercy, grace, compassion, patience, and any other characteristic that Christ Himself would show. If a story shows a Christian to be lustful, prideful, dishonest, or any of the manifestations of the evil one, the story is being dishonest. It is telling a lie. As the Bible says, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And since Christ lives in me, what I manifest on the outside, is what is true on the inside.

This is why we must write with a true biblical worldview, that the Spirit of Christ is able to change a person into a true hero, a virtuous man or woman. We see the evil of hypocrisy in the lives of people all around us every day. Why should we perpetuate the lie in literature? Such a portrayal helps no one. It only drags us down, makes us think that everyone must be a lower-than-dirt worm who can't find true freedom from sin.

If we want to foster a generation of heroes, let us begin by writing stories for young people that tell the truth about the power we have in Christ. We really do overwhelmingly conquer. Jesus really is greater than Satan. If we really want to obey Him, we can. We must.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Heroes Part 2

A couple of years ago, I accompanied my oldest daughter as she attended a leadership retreat for teenagers, checking out the teachers and the content of their messages. As the overseer of my children's spiritual lives, I wanted to make sure I knew what information would be entering her mind.

During a presentation for the young men in the group, the teacher had the boys kneel and make a commitment of chastity, a vow to be pure in mind and body. I thought it was great, but as he ended, the teacher said something like, "Now I know you're all going to fail to keep this commitment," and he went on to talk about their need to confess and repent when they did fail.

I was aghast. What a horrible way to inspire young men! First, get them to make a vow to God, then blast their confidence with assurance that they would fail. Unbelievable! It's no wonder that so many of our young people are drowning in the sea of sin. They are tossed a life raft and then someone comes along and deflates it!

But this kind of teaching is common, in fact almost universal, in the church today. Preachers tell us to be obedient, to follow God with all of our hearts, then they tell us it's impossible to obey God consistently. In fact, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, we are told that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and the only way to do that is through obeying the word of God, yet the same catechism tells us that everyone sins every day in thought, word, and deed.

It's no wonder the church is confused. We are told we can and should obey, yet the power to do so is denied in everyday practice. We are told to have victory, but if we were to claim that we have consistent victory, we would be called liars.

We cannot encourage heroism in our young people unless we discard this illogical and unbiblical practice of the church today. We have to promote confidence. We should remind our youth of the Bible verses that guarantee God's help as they seek to serve Him.

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4)

Our confidence is well-founded. The power to obey comes from God, and we should neither squash a young persons' exuberance to make confident vows of fidelity toward God, nor deny his testimony that he has fulfilled his commitment every single day.

This is real Christianity. This is honest Christian living. God help us to tell the truth.