Wednesday, October 23, 2013

God's Opinion of Our Children's Future

Several years ago, a number of us began to pray for the needs of the next generation, particularly, in either coming to faith in Christ or growing in an already existing faith. 

One of those who are interceding for this next generation in prayer before God is a good friend of ours and fellow believer in Christ. As a prayer list with the names of these members of the next generation is e-mailed every week, Sharon Enright writes a corresponding devotional for that day's prayer.

I want to pass along to you her devotional for today. It's a wonderful reflection from a mother concerned about doing what she can to pass along our most precious faith in Christ to those who will follow us.

I've been encouraging Sharon to start her own blog. With time and circumstances, that hasn't happened yet. Since she has been doing these Wednesday devotionals for quite a while now, might I ask that you contact me to pass along your encouragement to Sharon concerning the devotional. The e-mail address is:

The following is her entry for today:
God's Opinion of Our Children's Future
Today's Reading:
Deuteronomy 18:3-6
Genesis 12:2-3

        If the youth on our list are watching the news feeds of the happenings of the past few weeks in our country and around the world, but neglecting a different world view from the "bread of life" in the scriptures, I'm not sure there's much there to give them any confidence for their future. Our national and world leaders fight among themselves and point their fingers in blame. It's obvious they don't know what to do about the mess we're in. Today's reports bemoan the bleak outlook for young people starting out. The trough is going dry. There's not a lot to offer them except the problems they will inherit from an older generation that forgot about them in all it's planning and spending. That's how the world sees it for them. But, that's not how their Maker sees it, if they'll just listen. If we'll just tell them.

        In his book, "The Family Blessing", author Rolf Garborg recalls one of the most poignant scenes from the play, "Fiddler on the Roof". Papa Tevye and Mama Golde express hopes and fears, convictions and questions with which any parent can identify as their family surrounds the table of the Sabbath meal in the bleak days of the Russian persecution of the Jews. When all have gathered, they perform the ancient customs associated with that meal; traditions of hope and faith in our good God. Golde lights the Sabbath candles, prays, and then joins Tevye in singing to their daughters the "Sabbath Prayer" - a simple song of blessing that expresses their deepest desires for their girls.

    May the Lord protect and defend you/ May He always shield you from shame/ May you come to be in Yisroel [Israel} a shining name/ May you be like Ruth and like Esther/ May you be deserving of praise/ Strengthen them, O Lord, and keep them from the strangers ways/ May God bless you and give you long lives/ May the Lord fulfill our Sabbath prayer for you/ May God make you good mothers and wives/ May He send you husbands who will care for you/ May the Lord protect and defend you/ May the Lord preserve you from pain/ Favor them, O Lord, with happiness and peace/ Oh, hear our Sabbath prayer. Amen.

      Rolf Garborg exhorts us to speak the hope of scripture into the lives of our youth. God is not impressed or swayed by the newspaper headlines that dash hope and instill dread. God's plan for His people and their children is a future of abundance with Him. His blessings cancel out the rumors of a world that doesn't know Him. These days in particular,  we need to speak those blessings into the ears and hearts of our youth in a time when they hear nothing but fear.

     Christians can adopt the Jewish community's ancient traditions of giving benediction to their children and all the youth they know simply by personalizing the Scriptures onto their hearing. We may say or sing a blessing; express it daily, weekly or on special occasions. We can select a Scripture to use or create our own blessing based on Scripture. It will confirm hope and godliness in our youth by speaking into their lives the grace of their heavenly Father. I began this habit with our son, Lyle, while he was working on his undergrad degree. Every week I emailed a fresh blessing based on Scripture. He papered the wall of his dorm with them...and he still does in graduate school. It is never too late to start proclaiming God's view of our children's future to them. What a different report it is than the one the world is telling them!

Lord God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Christ,
We pray for our youth today, that they would be blessed with the wisdom and faith to fear You;
We pray that they will walk in Your ways. When they eat the fruit of their labor, may they find joy because You will cause all to go well with them; may they seek you and choose well when they choose their husbands and wives and may they know the joy of children; within the homes they establish, may their families be like olive plants around their tables; Thus shall those be blessed who fear the Lord. May You bless them and may they see prosperity all the days of their lives. Indeed, may they see their children's children and may they find peace in You. Amen.
(Based on Psalm 128)

Kneeling at God's throne with you for our youth today,
Sharon for Jon and I both

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Spiritual Stockholm Syndrome

Recently, I was reflecting on a passage in 2 Timothy 2:24-26 which reads:

The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
I was contrasting this with what we all know about sin, namely, that we do this all too freely. I was trying to get a sense of how one can sin clearly by one's own choice and yet be held captive by the devil to do his will.

My starting point in this is knowing that God is not the author of sin (see James 1:13). Yet, when I read the word "captive", I think of someone who is held against their will and being kept involuntarily. How does willingness to sin fit together with being held captive to the devil?

One possible answer would be the presence of a spiritual form of a condition known in psychology as the Stockholm Syndrome. This is said to occur when those who are being held captive begin to become sympathetic to the beliefs and ideals of their captors. One historic example of this can be found from the mid-1970s. A young woman named Patty Hearst was abducted by the Symbionese Liberation Army in early 1974. Two months after her kidnapping, she was actually assisting her captors in a bank robbery. 

Please keep this in mind when praying for those who have not yet come to faith in Christ. We are dealing with very real captivity, but a captivity which the captives are quite sympathetic with. What is needed is a change of mind. Pray that God will show mercy to these captives by changing their thinking. After all, isn't that what repentance is all about?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Lens of Glory - Session 1

This blog entry supplies a link to the first class session for a new podcast which I am creating called the Lens of Glory. The intent behind the class is to show that since the Bible is a Christ-centered, Christ-oriented and Christ-saturated book, the linkage between Jesus and the Glory of God leads us to the conclusion that the Bible can be read through the lens of the glory of God. This posting links to the first class session for this podcast. The class sessions were recorded during Sunday School at Troy Christian Chapel in Troy, Michigan.Click on the link to hear the Session 1 of the podcast. Lens of Glory Class Session 1