Which Language Would You Choose?

When I first entered the ministry many years ago, I began as a part-time youth minister in a Baptist church near the seminary I was attending. Having been a high school teacher, I wanted to stay in touch with young people. Youth ministry would give me the opportunity to have an impact on the adults of tomorrow.

Part of my ministry involved going to the youths’ homes and visiting with their families. I would try to encourage them to be a part of our church’s youth activities. I met with passive resistance from the parents at times. Even then our society was moving toward political correctness and tolerance. So many parents felt it noble to say something like, “I don’t believe in forcing my religion on my children. When they are old enough, I will let them decide which religion they want to follow.” They may have thought it noble, but it simply let them off the hook for their children’s moral and religious development. And that way they did not have to take their kids to church on Sundays.

As a high school teacher I taught Spanish, English as a Second Language and Physical Science. Part of my training included studying linguistic development and language learning. Imagine applying such a tolerant philosophy to language learning. Suppose I went to a parent’s home where the adolescent children did not know how to speak any language. Then the parent said to me, “I don’t believe in forcing my own language on my children. When they are old enough, I will let them decide what language they want to speak.” By that time, they will have lost the ability to grasp language quickly and easily as anyone who has tried to learn a second language can attest. It is more difficult at adolescence to pick up a language that an infant can readily pick up.

If a parent does not impress his or her religious and moral values on the children, someone else will. Children will pick up their values from the world around them or from friends whether well-meaning or not. Parents are to take responsibility for the moral and religious upbringing of their children. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

God gave the responsibility to the parents for the moral and religious upbringing of their children. Too many today have abdicated their responsibility. They have turned it over to the public schools or maybe even the church to teach morals to children. So why do you speak the language you speak? Obviously because your parents spoke to you in that language.

Parents, if you want your children to learn morals and religion, take an active role in that development. Take them to church, do not just send them. Speak about religious values at home. Show them how you live out those principles and convictions. Find a church home and get involved.
Mike McGuire is the pastor of Belvue Baptist Church. There is a place for you where the SON always shines.

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Forgiveness Without Repentance?

Does God forgive without repentance? Jesus’ first sermon in Mark 1:15 was “Repent and believe the gospel.” He expects us to repent when we come to Him. In the first sermon in the history of the church in Acts 2:38, Peter said, “Repent and be baptized.” If God forgave without repentance then what is hell for? He could just forgive everybody whether they ever repented or not.
We believe that we must forgive those who sin against us whether or not they repent. Take the case of the bereaved parents of a child killed by a drunk driver or one that is brutally murdered. If the parents are Christian we tell them they must forgive the one who killed their child. Sometimes the perpetrator repents but not always.
Jesus said we are to forgive up to seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22). So we think that no matter what someone does to us we are obligated to forgive, whether they ever repent or not. In a parallel account Jesus said, “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them (Luke 17:3).
Secondly we think that if we have forgiven them we can trust them right away. I once counseled a young woman whose husband tried to kill her with a baseball bat. She said she didn’t believe in divorce so she forgave him even though he never repented. I told her that even so, that did not mean that she needed to put herself back in danger again by going home to him.
In “How to Reach Your Full Potential for God,” Charles Stanley writes: “God expects us to forgive people who hurt us, but He does not require us to continue to trust people who abandon us. The Lord does not require us to continue working with people who are disloyal to us or behave in ways that are detrimental to our ministry efforts” (p. 235)
In twenty eight years of ministry I have had many experiences of the need to forgive those who have been disloyal and abandoned me. The worst treatments I have ever received have been at the hands of church members, leaders and fellow preachers. I have struggled with Christ’s admonition to forgive, yet in all those years and unchristlike treatments, I can count the number of times that fellow Christians have repented on one hand, two fingers to be exact.
We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. That means repentance. I forgive those who have repented for what they have done, but I find Stanley’s words comforting. I do not feel that I need to trust those who have acted in an unchristlike manner. Once trust is lost, it takes a long time to rebuild it.
We as Christians need to learn to repent when we sin against our brother or sister in Christ and not just presume that he or she will forgive. If we expect to stay in fellowship with Christ, we must confess and repent of our sins. Should we treat or brother or sister in Christ with any less respect? If we want to maintain fellowship within the church, we must learn to confess and repent when we sin against a brother or sister in Christ. If not, we cannot expect God’s blessing. “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

WWJHO?

By Mike McGuire

Several years ago bracelets with the letters WWJD appeared on the wrists of youth everywhere. The letters stood for “What would Jesus do?” The purpose was for people to stop and ask themselves that question when contemplating a particular course of action.

I would like to propose a new phrase: WWJHO? “Where would Jesus hang out?” Maybe you think that Jesus would hang out a lot at church. After all He seemed like a pretty religious guy. We find Him in the Temple at age twelve discussing religious matters with the elders. He called the Temple “His Father’s House.” One would think that He would hang out a lot there. If we are to be followers of Christ, then maybe we should spend a lot of time at church.

While Jesus did spend a considerable amount of time there, perhaps the greatest discourse of all time was not delivered at the Temple or within any other building. Rather it was given on a mountainside. Some of the most often quoted passages in literature come from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

He sat among the common people of His day. In fact he was one of them. He was a carpenter by trade. Speaking of His teaching, some of His critics asked, “Where did this man get these things? (Matthew 13:56). He was neither a religious scholar, nor a trained Rabbi, but He spoke with the authority that neither of them had (Mark 1:22).

At other times He proclaimed messages to the people from the bow of a fishing vessel, not because the people were recreating at the lake, but because that was where they were working. He told stories of farmers and landowners, fields and vineyards, because that was what he was familiar with.

He called fishermen and tax collectors to surround Him. He touched lepers and healed them. He touched prostitutes and freed them. He would hang out with the working people, but the religious hypocrites He turned away.

If we want to make a difference in our world, then we must do what Jesus did. We must hang out where Jesus did. We must touch whom Jesus touched. If we do, we may incur the same wrath that Jesus faced. It was not the tax collectors and prostitutes that made Jesus angry. It was not the demon possessed that He chastised. They were not the ones who crucified Him, but self-righteous religious hypocrites who cared more about their religious status quo than the people they were supposed to serve.

As we leave our churches after services, let us go out and touch the world as Jesus did. Let us hang out where He would if He were physically here today. After all, the church is His body. Learn what your spiritual gifts are at church. Develop them there and then put them into practice where Jesus would hang out.

Mike McGuire is the pastor of Belvue Baptist Church, Hobbs, NM, where the SON always shines. There is always room for you.

Foot-Long Furor

In New Jersey a question concerning the standard of foot-long sandwiches arose. Two men in New Jersey recently brought a legal suit against Subway over Subway’s foot-long sandwiches. To determine whether or not the customers were getting their money’s worth, someone brought a standard, a foot-long ruler, to establish the truth of Subway’s claim. Then someone posted on the Internet a photo of the foot-long next to the ruler. They claim that the sandwich measured only eleven inches, not twelve as advertised. There must be an absolute measurement when it comes to foot-longs so the public does not get misled. The recent furor over foot-long sandwiches might be funny if it were not taken so seriously.

Since the 1960’s we have been telling ourselves that there are no such things as absolute standards. Everything pertaining to morality, in particular, is relative. It depends on the circumstances. We can thank Joseph Fletcher who formed the idea of situational ethics.

Situational ethics states that certain rigid moral principles can be set aside if breaking those traditional moral values serves a better purpose. It is funny how situational ethics usually only applies to religious morality. The mantra has been, “That’s your truth. That’s not my truth.” When it comes to your pay check, do you want an absolute value or do you want someone to pull a relative amount out of the air? When it comes to paying your taxes, does the IRS want you to pay a relative amount or a definite amount? So we only want standards to slide as long as they slide in our favor. When you say, “There are no absolutes,” that in itself is an absolute.

The Jody Arias murder trial shows how backwards we have become. The defense in the Travis Alexander murder case is trying to make him out as some type of abuser because he behaved as most normal healthy males of his age would. Alexander’s Mormon faith stands against immorality. The defense has tried to portray him as some kind of hypocritical monster because he stood by the church’s standard in public, but supposedly degraded Jody Arias in private. The media made it seem that only the Mormon Church is against immorality.

The Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax also shows media bias against those who hold to a standard. On CNN sports commentators questioned his ability to play for the NFL because he seemed naive due to the hoax. The commentators have suggested that he fell for this hoax because it was the only kind of relationship he could handle without falling to temptation because of his faith. Te’ o also follows the Mormon faith.

We demonize those who do not hold their sandwiches to an objective standard of twelve inches and yet we demonize those who hold to absolute moral standards. The Bible is very clear on questions of morality and standards. Most denominations have capitulated and given up on trying to hold moral standards. We no longer expect people to wait until marriage. We want relativity when it comes to morals, but not when it comes to sandwiches.

Not only does the Mormon faith teach biblical standards regarding morality, other churches do as well. The problem lies not so much in what a church or denomination teaches, but what it s adherents practice. Unfortunately we no longer expect anyone to hold to biblical standards. We say it is unrealistic to expect anyone to live by absolutes.

God has given us His absolutes. If you want to know God’s standards, read the Scriptures.

There is always room for you at Belvue Baptist Church, Hobbs, NM. Mike McGuire is pastor.