Saturday, September 29, 2007

A now for something completely different...

I was reading through Dan Kimball's blog and discovered a link to a British, Christian cartoonist (and more, apparently).

I looked through a number of his cartoons and found many very funny! He often hits the nail right on the head. You sometimes have to Americanize his UK vocabulary, but I think you'll find it worth the effort.

Without further ado, here's the link!


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Friday, September 28, 2007

of Funerals and Friends

As you may have read here, Dan's step-father (Bill) was diagnosed with terminal cancer about a month ago. He passed away this last Sunday.

If you read the original post, you'll know that Bill came to know the Son of God a few weeks before he died. Having spent some time around him, I can say with certainty that there were definite marks of Christ's grace within him. I don't believe this to have been an insincere profession on Bill's part. I rejoice that he's now with the LORD.

Also, as some of you know, I was given the great honour of presiding over Bill's funeral services. We held a memorial service this past Tuesday at his widow's home. Many friends and family spoke, including at least four who clearly follow Jesus...

I shared briefly from Psalm 23 and the service concluded with a carry-in dinner.

The next day (Wednesday) we held a graveside ceremony for the interment of Bill's now-cremated remains. It too was a moving experience. The LORD prompted me to share from 1 Thessalonians 4, especially on Paul's admonishment to "encourage one another with these words". As yellow was Bill's favourite colour, his widow asked that all who were willing might drop a yellow flower into his grave. Yellow petals were outnumbered only by tears.

In between the services, a good friend let me stay with him and his family overnight. We had a great time, remembering the good old days and thinking about the days to come. His is also a larger than normal family (they have five beautiful children), so I felt right at home. His children - especially one of the little twins - really made me feel loved.

After the graveside service, one of Bill's children and I had a long and refreshing conversation. This young man led a life full of sin, but only a few years ago came to know and follow Christ. The change in his life is undeniable and almost unbelievable!

Thank the LORD for the opportunity to mourn when "there is a time for mourning", and for good, encouraging friends.

I appreciate all of you who knew about the situation and prayed. I can't share much of the details, but believe me when I say that it was obvious and clear that the LORD was at work throughout this entire situation.

Please continue to pray for the extensive family that Bill left behind. They need His grace and His leading. Pray especially for the few that I know to be Christ followers: Billy, Diana and Dan.


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Saturday, September 22, 2007

re: Africa updated 9-29-07

UPDATE: In the interest of saving some space on the original post, I'm doing the present Africa update on this post. You can still find the original (older) updates here.

Togo is reporting that the start of school is being delayed as a result of the recent flooding. Though it sounds like they weren't ready to start anyway, these kinds of changes in schedule can really disrupt local families.

Also, since Togo is one of the poorest of all African nations, it came as no surprise that they issued an international call for help recently. There are estimated to be at least 20,000 homeless. As I mentioned earlier, I believe we'll have an opportunity to directly aid a church in Togo in the near future...

Here's another general update news report I stumbled across, mentioning a number of African nations.

Finally, at long last there are some pictures of the flooding circulating the internet.

More to come...


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Friday, September 21, 2007

Senior Saints and Postmodernity

I've spent a fair bit of time wondering out loud how cultural postmodernity might affect Christian ministry. We've together spent many posts and comment sessions debating the merits of many different thoughts. But they've virtually always been related to adult ministry generally, and mostly to young adult ministry in particular.

But what about, say, ministry to children? Or ministry to "Senior Saints"? Does postmodernity have any tools to offer us in these endeavors?

As you might have guessed, I think they do. In this post, I'll wrestle with the implications for Seniors ministry. Later on I'll tackle children. [Wait, that sentence doesn't quite sound right, does it?!]...

One of the biggest upsides to postmodenity is its inherent (and fierce) desire for community. Whereas most churches in the Modern era really had/have to work hard to foster a sense of genuine community (at least larger churches; smaller churches had/have a built-in help - their size!), churches that embrace cultural postmodernity more or less insist on community. The individual is as de-emphasized as s/he can be in American culture, and the group (the church) is lifted up. So what has this to do with ministry to seniors?

For whatever reason, most seniors share this desire for community, but primarily in the context of their blood family. If we can convey the concept that Christian community can be even more meaningful than blood relationships, I believe we'll find seniors more engaged and more encouraged by the ministry of the local church. But how to do this?

Most postmodern younger adults really want to spend time in multi-generational contexts. We don't want to only or primarily be around those exactly like us. Nor do we really want to even be categorized by our age. This lends itself naturally to mentoring relationships within the local church. Those with a more postmodern bent will need little persuasion to spend time around those with more/different life experiences than themselves. Thus, a practical path to the hypothetical community I mentioned above.

Local churches should be actively seeking and promoting ways to encourage such relationships to grow. They can't be forced, though - remember, one of the key concepts in cultural postmodernity is that relationships develop organically and community be authentic. So how do we do this?

I think the local church should officially conduct a funeral service for the concept of strict age-step Sunday School classes and/or small groups. Nothing discourages the kind of organic community I'm talking about more than forcing people to be isolated with only people in the same age group. Once one reaches a certain age, don't the substantive differences between ages largely disappear? Surely there are major pathmarkers on the journey of adulthood (marriage, children, empty-nest, retirement, etc...), but shouldn't these different experiences be shared with others? Can't we learn more together than we can apart?

For me personally, one of the greatest ministries I have been involved with in the last ten years was an adult elective Sunday School class that was intentionally multi-generational. We had members from 20-something to 80-something! It was really a wonderful mini-community within the context of the larger local church. I miss it, frankly.

Here's another thought: I've long maintained that one of the primary ways a pastor conducts the business of ministry is by trying to place people in contexts where they are most likely to feel and follow the Spirit's leading. Surely multi-generational classes/small groups is a way to do this. But there are others. How many churches actually have some kind of strategy for encouraging mentoring? I don't think this is something you can necessarily have a program for, but there are things a church can do to encourage the process.

For example, as simple as it sounds, why not spend some time preaching about mentoring? The Bible is full of examples of younger men learning at the feet of older. Samuel and Eli come to mind. Show that it's important to your local church by using time in the pulpit to encourage it.

Or how about a pastor/elder specifically seeking out some of the older and wiser people in the assembly and regularly discussing the mentoring concept with them. Then set in place "social" events that might put the right people in the right place...

I could go on, but you get the point. We can leverage cultural postmodernity within the life of the local church to better minister to seniors, as well as to be better ministered to by by them.

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The great Roman Catholic-Emerging conspiracy!

Having recently read and engaged with an article claiming to link Emerging Church with Roman Catholicism, I've had my curiosity piqued: Do others also think this way?

The answer, it appears, is 'yes'. I've found another one. This particular critique is longer and (sometimes) more sensible, but equally as mean-spirited and reactionary. Read it if you like; I'll hit some of the positives and negatives...

On the positive side, this author (Richard Bennett, who is a former Roman Catholic priest) makes a few good points. His article is basically a critique of Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy, and I share some of his concerns about this very influential book.

For example, Bennett takes issue with McLaren's "God A vs God B" paradigm, noting that "By this fictitious contrast he entices his readers to choose between two highly subjective conceptions of a god of his own imagination". Back in June, I made this observation regarding the same subject:

Chapter 2: Jesus and God B - Here McLaren contends that God should not be seen as merely "'God A', a single, solitary, dominant Power, Mind, or Will, but as 'God B', a unified, eternal, mysterious, relational community/family/society/entity of saving Love" (p.85).

If that isn't terribly confusing enough, there's more: "In English, there just isn't a personal pronoun to express this kind of Life/Personality that isn't either exclusively male or exclusively female. The only nongender pronoun in English is impersonal (it)" (p.83). I especially dislike this quote because it implies to the average reader that such a pronoun exists in the original Greek manuscripts, but not in English. As grammar would have it, though - there is no such pronoun in Greek either!

I found many occasions in this book when McLaren's lack of theological training became obvious. This chapter was one of those.

The truth is that - to use McLaren's somewhat odd language - the God of the Bible is both God A and God B. The Bible clearly paints Him (not It) so.

Also like Bennett, I was deeply troubled by the way McLaren attempts to redefine the old standard TULIP acrostic to better suit his own tastes in theology. Kudos to Bennett for pointing out the foolishness of such an attempt.

But the bad in this article far outweighs the good, folks. Right off the bat, Bennett tries to import a Roman Catholic context to this whole debate, one that is foreign to every discussion I've ever had with emerging-type folk. It comes across as nothing more than a conspiracy theory when he insists that:

Thus rather than looking for unity based on truth, the Papacy, as ever, is seeking to secure visible outward conformity through the compromise of others. This is the larger context into which the Emergent Church is set.

or that:

McLaren is in the early stages of presenting the same protocol as Papal Rome. But then, Rome said that the induction of Protestant churches was to be "little by little" as their thinking was changed by dialogue with Catholics.

Moreover, Mr. Bennett is clearly not very well-versed in the fine art of sarcasm. I know that as a (cultural) postmodern, I have an advantage on this front. But Bennett seems to be completely missing the rampant sarcasm in A Generous Orthodoxy. He actually thinks it's bitterness! For example, quoting McLaren ("you should know that I am horribly unfair in this book, lacking all scholarly objectivity and evenhandedness"), Bennett claims the he "shows by his own admission what amounts to bitterness against his conservative Protestant heritage...". Clearly Bennett doesn't understand the tenor in which McLaren meant these words. Perhaps if he ever read any of McLaren's other works, or listened to him speak, or even familiarized himself with the culturally postmodern context that McLaren runs within... But that's too much effort, I suppose.

Further adventures in missing the point: Bennett takes McLaren to task for saying "But the Bible requires human interpretation, which was a problem [for Reformers]...". To Bennett, this is nothing short of a denial that "Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture". But that's not the point. The point is which Scriptures? How do they interpret one another? By what method do we come to conclusions? Etc... The point is that the very act of interpretation necessarily involves humans.

And my personal favourite: when speaking of Martin Luther, McLaren (correctly) points out that Luther lived at the beginning of what we now call the Modern era (as opposed to the new Postmodern era). Apparently Bennett is wholly unfamiliar with the actual modern/postmodern debate, as he actually says:

In this way, he [McLaren]is able to use Martin Luther as simply a man of another time, not relevant for today because that time, which he calls modern, is now over.

Did you catch that? Bennett is throwing in the "which he calls modern" bit as a dig! As if McLaren is simply making up these terms to confuse people. I knew a Christian leader once who described postmodernity as a "camp" that he was not in! Much the same here. One more time, folks - modernity and postmodernity are not terms that heretics made up, nor are they "camps" to be in or out of, nor do they inherently carry value judgements. They are merely very common words used to describe a philosophical shift of massive proportions.


Mr. Bennett (and others), you may deny the existence of the 40 foot wall of water if you wish. You may insist that it is, in fact, merely a "fad". You may even claim that the word "tsunami" has merely been fabricated by a heretical group. But that does not change the facts.

They are (in case you're taking notes):

1.) Postmodernity has already come.

2.) It will soon be the dominant view within all Western culture (it already is in many areas).

3.) It is not necessarily any better or worse than Modernity; it's just different.

In light of these facts, it is my goal to help craft a cultural Postmodernity that better reflects His glory and that better equips Christ's followers to serve His mission.

Others, it would appear, would prefer to stick their heads in the sand or claim it's nothing but a Roman Catholic conspiracy.


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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More African hardships (updated 9-22-07)

As if the continent of Africa hasn't had enough trouble in the last ... basically, forever, here's more bad news.

It seems that most of sub-Saharan Africa has been absolutely hammered by rain in recent days, leading to unparalleled flooding and a whole host of other problems.

...The rains and floods inflicted extensive damage on a northern region that was traditionally Ghana's major food basket, growing rice, maize, millet and sorghum. "This flood is unprecedented; thousands of acres of farmland have been destroyed, including livestock," Amoo [of Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization] said. Barns and silos ... stored food ... Infrastructure like bridges and roads have all been destroyed," he added.

Please pray for these desperate people.


click below to read updates as they become available...

update 9-18-07: I've discovered a new website of some use in tracking this catastrophe: There are two links from that site that provide updated information on the situation.

For the area around Ghana (Western), click here.

For the area around Uganda (Eastern), click here.

The BBC also has a good update here.

Please pray specifically for protection from disease, a major concern in the coming weeks. Consider this:

He [the Ugandan State Minister for Disaster Preparedness] said the humanitarian situation in the areas is unimaginably unbearable adding that although there is no outbreak of disease yet, six to eight weeks after the floods have recessed, will be the "most critical" and "troublesome period in terms of health."


update 9-19-07:

Benin - the tiny little country next to Togo (not exactly a large country itself) has joined the growing group of nations declaring their need for help.

Also, whereas reports from the day before had 600,000 displaced people, the UN is now reporting in excess of one million...

On a more positive note, here's a list of work that Christian Aid is doing, sorted by country.

Please continue to pray.


update 9-22-07

Apparently I'm not the only one that thinks this disaster is getting too little attention. A blogger working with Reuters contends here that the British newspapers are largely ignoring it, too.

In more bad news, the UN has now increased the estimate of displaced people to 1.5 million.

Some good news - apparently relief is starting to arrive, especially in Ghana (which has arguably been the worst-hit).

I've been in contacts with a friend who knows people in Togo. If it works out, I may well be asking you to help me contribute funds to help these people. Stay tuned...


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Friday, September 14, 2007

An annoying quiz

From the same website that brought me the quiz in the post below this one, I found a quiz entitled "How emerging/postmodern are you?" These quizzes can be written by anyone, and the guy/gal that wrote this one has serious issues.

Those of you that keep up with my ramblings on postmodernity and emerging thought know that I think one of the biggest problems in the debate is the failure of people to distinguish between what could be called "academic postmodernity" (ie, the worldview held by the ivory tower-bound professor types) and the "street version" of postmodernity (what I usually call cultural postmodernity). This quiz is horribly guilty...

There are precisely eighteen questions on this particular quiz. I'll list them below (in red) and comment thereafter:

[Apparently the order of the questions is randomized each time you visit the site, so don't expect to find them in the order I've listed.]

1. There is a definate [sic] line of right and wrong. Not a bad question, frankly.

2. 2+2 is 4, but it may be something else too, we just don't know it yet. This is precisely the kind of "academic" nonsense I'm talking about. Is it possible that "2+2=4" has implications that we don't already understand? Sure. Is it possible that "2+2=4" for additional reasons beyond what we already understand? Sure. But this kind of question just points to the extreme/ivory tower postmodernity.

3. We can't know anything for sure about God, because that would put God in a box. If the question read "everything" instead of "anything", it would better reflect cultural postmodernity.

4. There are theological reasons why Christians don't go to the same churches, and this is good. What's good? That there are theological differences among Christ's followers? That we often separate over minor points of theology? That we often separate over major points of theology? That we separate in some ways but not others? What are we getting at here?!

5. The overall moral teaching of the Bible is more important than whether or not it is literal history. Please define "moral teaching", first. Then, explain how it is that we could possibly separate these two discussions when it comes to the Bible. Jesus, after all, predicated much of his "moral" teaching on "literal" history!

6. Every religion leads to the same end. That's not postmodernity so much as universalism. There are universalists in the Modern world as well as the Postmodern.

7. It is possible that God may choose to save all in the end. See #6.

8. God reveals himself to us through the Bible and through our experiences. Now that's a good pomo question. Finally!

9. The Bible doesn't tell us specific truths as much as it tells us general truths. Way too vague. Is the fact that Jesus is the Son of God a "specific" or a "general" truth?

10. The books of Romans, Ephesians, and Hebrews tell us as much about God as the Gospels do. Another good pomo question for the Christ follower to wrestle with.

11. There is nothing that we can know for sure. Including the answer to this question, I suppose. Silly. Ivory-tower silly. No one really believes this. Now, can we say "We can no much less for sure than the previous generation held as sure"? That might work.

12. The Bible should be interpreted literally. The Bible should be interpretted as it was intended to be interpretted. Perhaps if we said "in a woodenly literal fashion" it might work.

13. Everyone who has not received Christ as Savior will go to hell. Another good question (and one where I leave my more pomo brethren behind).

14. There are no such things as absolutes. Right, like this statement. It doesn't really exist, because it sets itself up as an absolute, but absolutes don't exist, so the question you just read you didn't really read. Now we're asking about existentialism, not postmodernity! Again, more ivory-tower stuff.

15. What we call good may be bad. What we call bad, may be good. That depends entirely on the basis one calls something "good" or "bad". But it does not get at the core issue of whether some things can be absolutely good or absolutely bad, nor does it address motive.

16. Some of the miraculous stories in the Bible may just be myths. That's a good pomo question (and another where I leave the pomo path).

17. God may be male, female, or even both. Another good one.

18. I see things in black and white, with very little grey. And a final good one.


I know a lot of people who self-identify as postmodern. I am one of those people! But there's a world of difference between cultural postmodernity and academic postmodernity. This quiz utterly fails to capture that distinction.


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An interesting quiz

Once upon a post, I attempted to come up with some questions to test one's level of comfort with postmodernity. Today I stumbled across a similar, but much broader, attempt.

This quiz attempts to find your "theological worldview". As with any such quiz, many of the questions are subject to interpretation. But they allow you to scale your answers along five points, so there's some wiggle room in there.

I'd encourage you to click the link and take the test yourself - it doesn't take long. Report back on your findings, if you like.

As for mine...

Here are my official results:

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern, You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox




Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Modern Liberal



Note that the actual answer page had a picture of Brian McLaren on it ... I felt compelled to remove it.

Also of interest to me: I'm nearly as much "Fundamentalist" as I am "Emergent/Postmodern". I know many don't see how the two can co-exist, but trust me - at least in my own life, they do.


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An Honest Question

One of the more interesting things to note about the latest issue of Baptist Bulletin (as recently critiqued on my post here) is the back cover. It asks a very important and honest question. I've tried to find a picture of the spot online but can't. It shows a group of high school kids leaving a building, and reads:

They're Leaving... 2 out of 3 kids QUIT going to church after high school... What are YOU going to do about it?

Good question, eh? There are a few different answers I've seen tossed around in the marketplace of ideas...

There are, for example, a group of anachronistic folk out there that long for us to return to the good ol' days. The "old paths", they often call them. They point to pop culture, with it's sarcasm and informality as problems. They can't understand why kids don't graduate from high school, don a tie and continue coming to church! After all, they've given them a great "youth group" experience, right? All the bells and whistles - pizza parties, Super Bowl parties, alternative prom parties, parties for the sake of parties, etc...

The problem is much deeper than I'm about to characterize it, but part of the problem is surely the notion that "youth ministry" (and "children's ministry", too - but don't get me started on that one just yet!) exists on an entertainment platform. We've come to believe that if we don't entertain high school kids, they'll never come to church services. And then they graduate from these anachronistic churches and suddenly find no one willing to entertain them anymore. That's a very hard transition for most kids to make. Poof! - you're an adult and should be prepared to come dressed as one, listening to organ music and 45 minute (boring) sermons. I'm stereotyping, of course, but you get the point.

On the other hand, there are churches that have adopted the entertainment model for all ministry, whether youth or adult. Often, these churches seem to have a bit more success at retaining their high school grads, at least for a while... But then another factor tends to come into play. Your average postmodern (which likely includes virtually everyone graduating from high school these days) has their internal "poser/unauthentic" sensor set on turbo! They quickly begin to see through the shallowness of a consumerist/materialistic church culture. And - not surprisingly - they rapidly decide they want nothing to do with it.

Hence the mass exodus of 20-somethings from churches lately.

So we're right back to the question: what are we going to do?

Two things are for sure:

a) The 1950s are never coming back.
b) The entertainment/consumerist model is dying.

For both of these facts we can offer praise to the Almighty. But we have to move past this stage and actually address the question itself, eh?

I'll try ... just not right now!

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts - especially those of you that are in the 20-something crowd right now.

More to come,

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Danger: Baptists being coverted to Maryism by Emerging Church!

I was reasonably sure that this was going to be the silliest thing I'd ever read with regard to the emerging church movement.

I was wrong.

How about this: "Emerging Church is leading Protestants back to Rome". Seriously...

If you followed the link, you know it refers to a publication of the GARBC, an organization for which I have at least modest respect. But this is just silly. There are many legitimate concerns surrounding all things Emerging Church, many of which I've documented on this blog. But this is just ridiculous.

Here's a sampling of the article's main points:

a) "Emergent leaders say God’s Word no longer holds the answers to life’s questions."

Really? Which "emergent leaders" say this? The question emerging church people ask is not if the Bible holds life's answers, but how we are to interpret and (more importantly) live these answers.

b) Brian McLaren's A Generous Orthodoxy "rejects the Word of God" because... well, ... because he uses too many labels!

The author actually claims that the reason McLaren uses labels like "post/Protestant" and "Anabaptist/Anglican" to refer to himself is because he rejects the Word of God. He offers no real logic or reason to support this assertion, and one gets the distinct feeling that this author simply could not have actually read A Generous Orthodoxy and come to this conclusion. Surely there are problems with A Generous Orthodoxy, as I've documented here. But this kind of broad brush defamation should be beneath the dignity of a Christ follower.

c) It's bad to enjoy "formal liturgy, the religious rites and a reverence for God".

Here's a classic problem for those who want to see Satan in the Emerging Church. They fail to understand that one can believe in Truth and Experience. Someone in my shoes, when cornered, will claim that Truth leads to Experience. But plenty of other followers of the Son claim that their Experience led them to the Truth. I won't quibble. The fact is that some people can enter into a more full communion with God via things like liturgy, communion, baptism, etc... And some people personally prefer a more "reverent" worship posture. These are grounds to condemn? Really?


Also of irritating note: the article quotes McLaren, but doesn't give a citation. I wanted to look up the quote they give and see it in context, but I can't. Also, they mention Robert Webber, but don't mention that he's recently gone home to be with the LORD. I understand that the magazine is just reprinting an article from February (before Dr. Webber died), but common courtesy would usually dictate that an editor add something like [recently deceased], or maybe a footnote, or something! I get the feeling that if the article made mention of someone more "palatable" to the GARBC, such homage would have occurred. But maybe I'm just jaded...

The gentleman the wrote the article was, by his own admission, raised as a Roman Catholic. I'll cut him some slack for that. But to try to make the case that the Emerging Church is actually leading people to convert to Roman Catholicism, and without citing a single case in which it's happened?

It has all the look of a smear and fear campaign to me.


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Thursday, September 13, 2007

... on children

As most of you know, I love children. I guess that's why I have six!

As a father of six, and a homeschooling Dad, and a former Christian school teacher ... I've spent a lot of time chewing on the cultural questions surrounding children. Rather than wax philosophical, let me make a few observations...

Whether you're involved in children's ministry in your local church, a teacher in the school system, or a concerned parent (or all of the above!), I hope you'll think through these propositions.

A) Children are people, (albeit little ones)!

B) Children are a tremendous blessing. Did you know that for all the talk we do about the "LORD's blessings", there are very few specific things in Scripture that are called a "blessing"? Surely the LORD can choose to bless us in many, many ways. But I think it's telling that one the short list of Biblical "blessings" one finds "children".

C) The best way to influence is children is through their parents, not the other way around. How many churches put tons of resources into "children's ministry" in an effort to "reach the parents"? That's backward thinking, folks.

D) It is the responsibility of the parents to see to it that their children are raised, educated, and trained in a way that honours the LORD. It's not the job of the state, the church, the community, or the school. All these groups can help, but they can't be the primary party. If you choose to send your children to a public school, that does not exonerate you from the responsibility to see to their education. Stay intimately involved in the school and their education.

E) It is in the best interest of children to have one mother and one father, and to spend vast amounts of time with both. I don't live in a bubble - I know this might seem far-fetched in today's landscape. Nor do I want to condemn those who've made mistakes in the past and are dealing with the consequences in an honest and God-honouring way. But the fact remains that one mother and one father is the best and Biblical model. And no amount of "quality time" can fill in for lack of "quantity time".

F) Children come first. Mothers, your children need you more than you need new clothes. Fathers, your children need you more than you need the bowling league. If you can do both (new clothes/bowling league and provide for the needs of your children), praise the LORD! If you must choose, always choose the children.

G) College is over-rated. [Take a deep breath and hear me out; I know this is a hot button... okay, ready to proceed? Good.] First, the quality of education in the collegiate system today is virtually a farce compared to what it once was. Second, there are much less expensive options for advanced education. Third, who says all your children must go to college? Unless you have a clear sense of God's purpose for their adult life and that purpose requires college, why send them just because everyone else does?

H) Children are sinners, just like the rest of us. Don't be surprised when little Johnny verbally torments little Suzy... or worse! Very little of children's behaviour should shock us. In fact, if we display that shock they often feed upon it.

I) Children are expensive, but not in the way you think. Really, do families need three cars, cable TV, vacations in Florida, brand-name clothes, restaurant meals, Playstation, etc... ? I was watching HGTV the other day (I admit it, I watch Home and Garden Television on occasion!), and a married couple with two small children declared that they were "bursting at the seams" in their 3,000+ square-foot home! They ended up buying a place in the neighborhood of 5,000 sq.ft. Are you kidding me?! "Bursting at the seams"?! If you are in a position where you can afford to do that and still make the children come first, praise God! But according to the current mortgage/credit crisis America is in, most people that do so can't really afford it. Priorities, folks - it's a question of priorities. Children are expensive ... in time and energy. They need not be near the financial expense our culture has made them out to be.

J) We can learn a lot from children. I'm thinking specifically of the nature of faith. What does it mean to have "child-like faith"? Spend time around your children and you'll see first-hand.

That's enough of my random babbling. Did I miss anything you want to add? Do you disagree with me on some point(s)? I welcome you thoughts.


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Monday, September 10, 2007

Population problems

As most of you know, I'm the father of six beautiful children. I like children. No, I love children! I've heard all of the crass jokes and seen all the bewildered looks. Little on this subject surprises me any more.

A year ago or so, I became aware of a paper done by some folks at Harvard wherein they examined the possible side-effects of a world-wide population implosion. That's right - I didn't say "population explosion".

For years, all we've heard is that the earth is rapidly approaching overpopulation. Smaller families will make for a more sustainable economy, they said. We're running out of open spaces, they said. We'll all starve for lack of arable land, they said.

Now look what "they" are saying...

Here are just three examples of the latest trend in population thinking.

1.) South Korea needs babies. The government of South Korea, which once paid for vasectomies and tubal ligations under their national health care system, is now paying for reverse vasectomies and tubal ligations! Please read the whole article, but this quote tells much:

"Successful family planning, coupled with changing mores, led the birthrate to drop below the ideal population replacement level of 2.1 in the 1980s and then more precipitously in the mid-1990s. Now on average a South Korean woman will have 1.19 children in her lifetime - a rate lower than Japan's birthrate of 1.28, comparable to Taiwan's 1.22, and higher than Hong Kong's 0.94."

This means that the populations of all these places is presently shrinking. Let that soak in for a second...

2.) Australia needs "breeders". There is an entire branch of the Australian Treasury Department dedicated to trying to raise the national birth rate. The article I linked to addresses some of the reasons the rate has gotten so low. Among the conclusions of one particular study, I found this particularly interesting:

"Marrying – women who had not been in a de facto relationship that did not lead to marriage were 2.6 times more likely to progress to a third child."

In other words, women that don't get involved in a "live in but not married" style relationship are 2.6 times more likely to have at least three children. So much for the "try before you buy" theory of relationships, eh?

3.) Russia actually has a pregnancy contest! They actually give out prizes to women who manage to give birth on their national holiday. They, like so many other nations, need babies. This quote from the article is interesting:

"The tradition of awarding prizes for giving birth dates back to Soviet times, when women could be named 'Hero Mothers' for having especially large families."

I'm thinking of all the things my wife has been called because we have a large family, but "hero" certainly isn't one of them.


Please understand, I'm not saying that anyone has to have a specific number of children, nor am I arguing that "more children = more spiritual". I'm just pointing out what will almost undoubtedly be coming to American shores soon (especially if the next batch of politicians close our southern border).

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it!" Gen 1:28a


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