Father Son Chats with a Child Who Isn’t Your Son

There are many things Bible College and personal study prepared me for…but nothing can prepare you for having “father-son talks” with a child who is not your son.

After reading  a Bible story about Sampson this morning a boy motioned to a girl walking by my house and said: “see her she’s pregnant!”  I asked why that was important and he (a 12-year-old) proudly told me he had slept with her.

Now the truth is he hadn’t done this, but at the age of twelve like most children on the island, he was sexually active.  

Sadly I’m used to talking with children who lost their virginity before teenage years and find my being a virgin at forty-one hilarious (definitely wrong by Biblical standards).

As we continued talking about the Biblical principle of sex within marriage I asked him a question.

  • Me:  so what happens if your girlfriend gets pregnant
  • Him:  That won’t happen
  • Me:  But let’s just say it does
  • Him:  I will leave the Country
Don’t rush by that…here is a 12-year-old boy who has already committed himself to sexual activity, and is also prepared to leave whenever his girlfriend gets pregnant (according to him he’s already set money aside to get himself to another Country)

You have to ask yourself “where did he get an idea like that?”

it’s simple really….

From his father

Now this young mans father happens to be in Barrouaille but I can tell you there are a large number of young mothers left by themselves with small children because the father either left the Country, or ran to another part of the island.

To put it bluntly, one generation of gutless cowards (refusing to take responsibility for actions) has raised up another generation of gutless cowards.

As I explained to him that manhood isn’t about strength (or how many women you’ve been with) but character and commitment it didn’t seem to make a difference but that’s okay.  I’m perfectly willing to have awkward father-son chats if that’s what it takes for the Gospel to shine through.

The Curse of Bachelor Missions

Yesterday serious preparations began for my parents visit in three-weeks on August 10th.  This involves things you would expect like giving the house a thorough cleaning and stocking my fridge, but it also involves things you wouldn’t expect like fixing the AC in my car.

Since I bought my car last summer the air-conditioning would only work in the morning and evening when the weather was cooler.  So most of the day I just drive with the windows down.

The truth is I needed to get the AC fixed, but it’s a lot easier to “put up with things” as a bachelor missionary.

 

Being a bachelor missionary (single adult male in missions work) is I believe a specific call from God which has special blessings.

  1. It gives more freedom (lots easier for a single man to pack a bag and go alone than organizing travel plans for a family)
  2. All energy is focused on ministry
  3. And more time can be used to reach others for Christ

Bachelor missions can become a curse however because it’s easier to put up with daily frustrations (like having no air-conditioning) when it’s just you.  If I had a wife or children the AC would be fixed for their comfort, but being a single man made it a lot easier to “put up with” the lack of comfort.

Actually the curse of bachelor missions has nothing to do with AC (having my window down makes things cool enough) but about making the denial of comfort a badge of honor.

Being on the mission field makes very clear most things we look upon as necessities are actually luxuries. Of course, this means most things on the “luxury list” you live without, but it’s not a bad thing experiencing a luxury from time to time.

In other words….just because I CAN “put up with” no AC in my car doesn’t mean God WANTS me to.

Monday morning I will leave my car with the local auto mechanic and Lord willing by Wednesday have the air-conditioning fixed.  I’m grateful that mom and dad will enjoy the cool air as we drive through Saint Vincent, but also thankful for God’s reminder that enjoying a luxury isn’t a sin.

What Conversations Should We Never Have on Facebook?

“Social media can be a great venue for sharing those vacation photos and pet videos. It’s not the ideal medium for most debates, especially political ones, though. Problems arise when our time spent on social media, regardless of its purpose, comes in lieu of conversation.”  

from Leaving the Screen:  Restoring in-person relationships 

I enjoy Facebook…no actually I enjoy it too much.

In the last four days Facebook was used to:

  1. Obtain 23 Netflix suggestions
  2. Seven books I must read in 2017
  3. And many suggestions for helping a sore throat

Messaging back and forth with a friend yesterday using the reply button it honestly felt like we were having a conversation on Facebook.

There’s just one problem with that…

Facebook isn’t a real conversation

In a convicting article yesterday Sean Martin made a strong case for conversation instead of Facebook:

“We need conversation more than ever when the discourse becomes complex and emotional, as it has today.”

2016 has given us many opportunities for “emotional conversations”

  1. About discussions about the presidential election
  2. Bathroom laws and other changes
  3. Racial injustice
  4. Immigration
  5. Terrorism
  6. And Our relationship with the LGBT community

The majority of these conversations took place online which allowed lots of people to get involved, but these “conversations” almost always turned into personal attacks on the other people or their opinion.

It’s my personal belief these attacking conversations took place because we couldn’t actually SEE the other person.

“Digital conversation reduces our capacity for empathy, an important emotion when engaged in passionate and polarized debate. We can’t see online how our words impact another person. It’s much easier to discern in a face-to-face discussion.

There are conversations that we should have online (like what to add to our Netflix list, or reading list) but then there are the emotional conversations that must be done face to face.

I’ve included my list of emotional conversations above, but it definitely isn’t extensive, so help me out but filling in the blank below

We should never discuss _______________ on Facebook

Will You Have Steak or Baby Food for Devotions?

“If you desire to pull out of God’s Word the serious ‘meat’ that he has placed there for us to sink our teeth into-you will have to exert considerable effort.  It takes work-hard work!  And you, the reader, have to decide whether you are content to swallow ‘baby food’ that comes from casual reading or whether you want to work for the ‘mature food’ that comes from serious reading.” Scott Duvall, Daniel hays 

Every morning after a few cups of coffee I get out my Bible for devotions fully expecting to feast on the “steak” of God’s word…so why do I get “baby food” instead?

 Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays in their excellent book on Biblical interpretation “Grasping God’s Word” say the reason we find strained-peas instead of steak is we don’t “observe the text”

One of the most critical skills needed in reading the Bible is the ability to see the details.  Most of us read the Bible too quickly, and we skip over the details of the text.  However, the meaning of the Bible is intertwined in the details of every sentence.

Duvall and Hays point out most of us in devotions move directly from initial reading to application which “ties us to our previous understanding of the text” (the baby food) and ignores the steak of God’s Word.

The kind of reading that digs into the t-bone steak of Scripture is one that doesn’t ask “what does the text mean?”  but “what does the text say?”

And the kind of reading that pays attention to details:

  1. Like repetition of words
  2. Contrasts
  3. Comparisons
  4. Lists
  5. Cause and Effect
  6. Figures of speech
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Verbs
  9. and Pronouns

For most of us this serious reading means going through less than one chapter for devotions instead of reading three of them.  But that’s okay because ten-verses of a spiritual t-bone steak beats three-chapters of gerbers any day.

What tools have you found that helps reveal the “steak” of God’s Word during devotions?

The Hard Work of Practical Holiness

Rainbow that appeared as I finished reading The Pursuit of Holiness

The afternoon before leaving for Saint Vincent as a full-time missionary I began reading a book that would change my daily spiritual walk more than any other by teaching me about Practical Holiness.

It only took a few pages before a paragraph grabbed my attention.

“My anger turned to utter discouragement.  It was only 8:30 in the morning and my day was already ruined.  Not only was I discouraged but I was confused  “

“The Pursuit of Holiness”  by Jerry Bridges had been on my kindle for months but I never began reading it…I believe this was because God knew I would be without internet the first three-weeks in Barrouallie.  There was lots of time to sit on the front porch reading Pursuit of Holiness, and each short chapter brought conviction along with hope.

There are countless lessons in Bridges book, but the my favorite is found in chapter three;

Holiness is hard work;  We don’t make ourselves more Holy in our own strength, but rely on the Holy Spirits leading through God’s Word.     without a serious commitment we won’t experience practical Holiness.

Somehow the idea of Holiness involving “work” seems foreign to us, or even sinful!  But we do have a responsibility in Holiness

Positional Holiness:

Positional Holiness is what Bridges says comes from Romans 5:1–9

  1. Through Christ we have access into the presence of God (Romans 5:1-2)
  2. When we couldn’t earn God’s love Christ gave Himself for us (Romans 5:6-8)
  3. Instead of enemies of God we are reconciled (restored) to Him as children (Romans 5:9-10)
  4. All of this comes through the atonement of Christ (Romans 5:11)

However even with the Positional Holiness in Christ we still struggle with sin as Bridges illustrates with his own anger issues in the first chapter.

The answer in is found in Romans 6:11

Rom. 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (emphasis added)

The word “reckon” is a choice or “deciding” we are dead to sin .  In this situation our freedom from sin isn’t based on our own strength, but we are going out of our way to ACT on the finished work of Christ.

Specifically this means breaking the old habits of sin, and creating new habits based on Scripture.

Since returning to Barrouallie I’ve found myself coming back to The Pursuit of Holiness time after time as a reminder that my Positional Holiness in Christ doesn’t take away the responsibility of Practical Holiness.

This book (along with it’s companion Respectable Sins) have helped me begin create a theology of Practical Holiness.  What books, articles, or authors do you believe would help me in building this theology?