Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Oh the pain, the deep grief. I have hardly been able to watch the reports coming out of Newtown, CT. Seeing the faces of panicked parents, scared little kids, and the extreme agony of loss causes me to grieve with them. The grief is deepened by the inexplicable reason for the massacre. The senselessness of the murders and the cold hearted execution of children renders the mind reeling, trying to find some connection that would cause such an atrocity. But sadly, none is found, leaving closure an impossibility.
Children are a gift from God to parents, to the world. They are a source of joy, love, hope, and aggravation. Children are somewhat of a blank page. They have certain innate, God given talents, but they need instruction, correction, and encouragement. Children do not raise themselves. Too much of current parenting is a hands off approach. It does not direct, teach, or correct. It allows unbridled emotions, actions, and verbal expressions. The result is unruly, undisciplined, rude, wild, obnoxious little brats. They are dangerous. I see them hitting their parents, running wild banging into adults and other children. Sadly, I see parents take the abuse and refuse to discipline the child. It is like they do not know what to do. They have no parenting skills.
So, we have a generation of parents who have little or no clue how to rear children and we have children who are unrestrained and receive little or no guidance from their parents. They are being trained by videos, violent games, peers, and teachers who are afraid of lawsuits. Even teachers are being injured in schools as administrators tolerate near criminal behavior in fear of the ALCU and special interest groups with high powered lawyers. Meanwhile we are growing a nation of emotionally ruled babies that grow into unbalanced adults. This is not an indictment on all since there are some doing a great job of parenting; however, the trend leans toward the undisciplined.
With this as a backdrop, we, the church must change our culture since the church has been deeply affected by the secular educational philosophies. We have segregated the family over the past number of decades, have bought into the “generation gap” and have concluded that families need to be separated so they can learn. Against that philosophy, we have around 2000 years of families being together.
We currently have a serious illiteracy in the area of Bible knowledge in children especially and in adults too. We cannot seriously address the culture when there is no character strength based in the word. We are swimming in a sea of ethical, religious, and moral pluralism. We are drowning in tolerance which is defined, not as respecting another position, but defined as anything goes and nothing is really right or wrong. So, our children are being taught in such a manner that true, absolutes do not exist. You cannot change the world with anything goes.
Thus, we must make a determined effort and program of training the children in the basics of God’s word. The establishment that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, that the Word of God is true, that the Word of God is reliable and authentic becomes a gargantuan task against the tsunami of relativism permeating the secular culture.
We cannot stand against the forces with bland, weak teaching. We cannot stand against the problem with entertaining or babysitting the children. There has to be a concerted plan that involves parents and mentors. We have to be on the same page and work diligently, not for a semester, but for years. This is not the job of mentors or teachers in church; it is the job of Christian parents to engage their children. Really the basis for this is God’s delegation of procreation and the responsibility of the parent as a steward of God’s creation. 
With that in mind, we are going to do everything possible to support parents in the training of their children. Home is the greatest greenhouse of character and education. Church can help, but it cannot succeed without the home working on character.
My granddaughter in law is a teacher as is my granddaughter. She commented that the kids come to school and do not even know the basics of civility. They do not know kindness, sympathy, basic manners, or the necessary relational skills that allow education to take place. She said that this should not be her job, but the job of the parents.
So, our Herculean task is to turn things around in our midst. It is to focus on children as a treasure and not an inconvenience. It is to see the future in the eyes of our children and invest in them. It is to recognize that godly character is taught in the home and reinforced at church. It is to provide the tools to help parents be good role models, good, loving disciplinarians, and to be good teachers of God’s word.
To stop the slide, there must be dramatic changes and a commitment from the church to do this. It will take everyone on board. It will take mentors in the classes, but it will also take folks supporting and aiding the parents in church. It will take, we, the leadership, upholding the vision and supporting it in the way speak, act, and invest.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk in the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up.” Duet. 6:7     -Pastor Bill

Heritage. What kind of legacy do we have and what kind of legacy will we leave?
There are numerous cultures that have traditions through stories, legends, holidays, religious observations that relate history and important events that have shaped history. The Passover is an excellent example since it has been celebrated for millennia. Every Jewish child is taught thoroughly the meaning of the Passover and how it has formed a nation, a people.
For Christians, The Passover has taken a meaning as well. The institution of the Communion comes from the Passover. We now know who that Passover lamb is. We understand the blood on the post and lintel. We celebrate this Communion on a regular basis. We want to remember the importance and significance of the event. Spiritually, we are impacted in different ways at times as the Spirit shows us something anew in the simple act of taking bread and wine.
The scripture, in the law, instructs the nation and parents in particular to train their children regularly, if not daily, in the ways of God. The scripture indicates that parents need to leave a spiritual heritage and a financial one as well. The passing down of items, stories, history, and character are all important to God. There is a spiritual principle and law involved. God blesses those who love and serve Him for generations. So, a godly man and woman grant blessings to their offspring and their descendants to several generations. Who knows, we could be living the prosperity granted to ancestors we never personally met or know much detail of their lives.
I have sons in the food business. Their heritage in this area comes from several directions. Their grandmother, Cathy’s mom, was in foodservice most of her life. She was the dietitian at the college I attended. She was responsible for feeding 1,200 students three times a day. On my side, my great grandfather was a purveyor of food. He traveled the countryside selling groceries from his wagon, kind of a forerunner of the Schwan trucks.
I taught school for a couple of years and my sister is a retired school teacher. My grandfather and grandmother were school teachers. My grandfather went on from there to be a doctor and a well known surgeon. As I look back at the lives of some of my ancestors, they tended to be hard workers. On my mom’s side, my great uncles were supervisors of water works for major cities. Not everyone is a great success, well known, but everyone leaves some sort of influence.
The admonition to train a child up in the way he should go from Proverbs seems so important to me now. As a father and mother  of four children, we worked on it. I think our home was loving, but strict on standards. There were heaps of love and laughter, and times of discipline and tears. Much of those events are now replayed at family gatherings eliciting tons of laughter.
From the position of a pastor, a grandfather, and now, a great grandfather, I am deeply concerned for the heritage or lack of heritage we are providing for our children. While attending the children’s sports events is good, will we be remembered as the old man and woman who watched? I remember my grandmother for the stories she told, the bread she baked, the walks we took, the discussions and debates we had. Will we ever be able to get our kids to look up from their phones? Will there ever be a serious conversation without an interruption of dinging text?
Some might think that moving to rescue family and work toward entrusting the next generation with the Gospel is impossible. Maybe some feel we are too far gone or maybe we are too irrelevant now. Personally, I do not think so. If the Scripture calls for it, then it will work. It is an universal truth; good for all people, in all places, in all times. If that is not true, the scriptures fail to be relevant to this society, and that is not true.
The steps we are taking are not easy. Working to leave a heritage of faith takes work and commitment. The self centeredness of this generation was engendered by our generation. Kids have inherited what has been provided. Parents have been indulgent to the decadence of the youth. The church has entertained, but not instructed. We have seen flickers of spirituality as mission trips and camp have momentarily inspired young people, but the long term, foundational, character training has been missing. Kids have had momentary expressions of God, but do not know His word, His character, His holiness. Most would fail a simple bible test of information and stories. Obviously, from their lifestyles, they have failed the character test because they spout the philosophy of the world, not the Scripture. Even when we work hard at the truth, we have lapses in our young adults. Often those brought up in Christian homes, fail miserably in their character as young adults, choosing the ways of the world, or as John Milton put it, Vanity Fair.
Attempting to turn the tide may seem impossible, but we must die trying if necessary. To do nothing is inexcusable. So, we launch out to leave a legacy, to be a heritage, leave an inheritance.