27 October 2009

Already Gone (Ken Ham) - (Pt 2)

I finished the book I began discussing previously, but rather than posting additional posts as I went along, I decided to blow through it and give a recap. A couple of findings they discovered with the survey was:
  • Only 11% stop attending church during college years (most of us assume it is college that shakes their faith)

  • Almost 90% of those leaving the church, do so during the middle to high school years

  • Not much variance between those in public school, or those in Christian or home schools

  • "Sunday school is actually more likely to be detrimental to the spiritual and moral health of our children."
The book is filled with statistics, and breakdown charts of statistics, and can boggle the mind in trying to keep up, but in the end, the point is made. There is an issue, and it stems between a worldview teaching of the Bible's authority and validity versus modern science.

The issue seems to boil down to a two part mindset. Church teaches us moral and spiritual issue and stories. Science and school teach us relevant life facts. Sunday school and youth programs have given the parents the door to shrug off much of the spiritual instruction of their children, and what little they do get in church tends to be Bible stories and Biblical morality.

In many cases, when we look at what is being taught in the Sunday schools, we're just teaching on an inspirational or moral level.

In many cases, they are getting two lessons on a Sunday, and neither are really relevant to them. It's not just Sunday school, it's the sermon, the VBS, it's most of the teaching programs - they are not helping them in the postmodern culture where it is becoming the norm to attack and marginalize Christians. They are not coping - they are not able to cope - they haven't been trained to cope.
If you look at some of the "hard" questions people in the world ask, you have to see that most churches are not educating the children to answer them. There is no real concerted effort to bring our children up with the ability to combat the attacks on the Bible and it's history. Are your children able to answer and defend against questions like:

  • How do you know God exists>

  • Where did God come from?

  • Hasn't science disproved the Bible?

  • What about ape-men?

  • How did Noah get all the animals on the ark?

  • What about carbon dating?

  • How come dinosaurs have nothing to do with the Bible or church?

  • How can the earth only be a few thousand years old when it "looks" so old?
After a while in school, on the edge of adulthood, there begins this disconnect:
The facts are relevant; faith is not. If you want to learn something that's real, important, and meaningful, you do that at school. If you want to learn something that is lofty and emotional, you do that at church. At school, they teach you about everything - fossils, dinosaurs, marriage (different views, gay marriage, etc.), sex, the origin of life, what is "right" and "wrong," different religions - they learn about everything!
The issue boils down to an issue of authority - biblical authority. If the Bible is held as authoritative, then our view of things outside of it have to be in conformity to the authority of the Word. We need to be teaching our young children about this authority, and give them clear answers to the challenges the world seeks to attack with.
In our survey, we asked the thousand young adults who have left the Church if they believed that all the accounts and stories in the Bible are true and accurate. Of those, 44 percent said no, 38 percent said yes, and 18 percent didn't know...

...82 percent of those who said they did not believe all accounts and stories in the Bible are true and accurate did so because of doubts about the authority of the Bible.

Responding to these attacks on the Bible should be at the forefront of our attempts to restore relevancy to the Word of God and make our churches relevant to this generation.
Some very good points are made when examining what modern churches do to stay "relevant" and appealing to the younger masses, but it is all just a band-aid that does not heal the deep issue that exists. It is a short term fix in most all cases.

The education in church tends to be more Bible stories, than application of it to the world, science, etc. We send our children out without the ability to defend their beliefs, and they get shredded and turned away.
True spiritual growth and a healthy church all start with an individual - with you -accepting the Word of God for what it is - the absolute authority - and treating it accordingly. The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is the living Word of God. The written, uncompromised Word of God in your mind and the presence of the Holy Spirit of Christ in your heart is the pure essence of Christianity. When you gather together a group of people with that, "church happens."
Other issues examined are the church's "relevance" as an institution, and the many issues that turn people away from the church on the corner (hypocrisy, political strife, etc.). Much more is covered, and I found this to be a good read. It fired me up to take action, to desire to teach my children and others, the deeper things outside of simple Bible stories.

We must take a position to be in the Word ourselves, always ready to give an answer for our faith, and we must pass that on to our children. Don't simply allow Sunday school to be our children's only exposure to biblical teaching, it won't be deep enough. For those who homeschool, step up the depth of study when it comes to conforming the biblical teachings with the world of science.

A couple of the suggested resources in the appendix of this book include: and many more.

Please post all comments below on the actual blog. Thank you!

14 October 2009

Descended into hell? (Pt 10): J.I. Packer on the Apostles' Creed

My last post on this topic, was way back in November. Much has happened since then to turn my life all around, but I recently was provoked to post another quick post on the topic, as I have recently purchased a new book that touched on the subject. If you are new to this whole line of discussion, jump back to the previous part (menu at bottom).

In brief summary, I started writing this series because I find that many modern churches explain away the "descended into hell" clause of the Apostle's Creed, saying ti was simply a way of saying he suffered greatly on the cross. Not only is that false when viewed from the understanding that the early church (who formed the creed) believed, but it does great harm to the aspect of salvation that it pertains to.

J.I. Packer's 2008 book Affirming the Apostles' Creed is yet another modern Reformed author that thankfully does not follow the typical line of thinking mentioned above.

He starts as we did, by differentiating between Hades, and Gehenna (what we typically think of when saying "hell." Though Packer doesn't say he "physically" descended anywhere...didn't actually go down, to imply the "place" was down, but seems to feel it meant Jesus really actually died, and that Hades, "the place of the disembodied, is lower in worth and dignity than life on earth..." (pg 87).

He says when Jesus entered Hades, his presence made Hades into "Paradise" to fulfill what he told the penitent thief in Luke 23. This kind of goes against what we have read about the historical Hebrew understanding of the separate section of the Hadean realm, but doesn't take him way off track like some moderns get. He goes on to say that while Jesus' was in Hades for three days, it was for the purpose and benefit of the faithfully who had departed prior to his atonement. He says that 1 Pet. 3:19 shows that Jesus proclaimed his kingdom news to "the imprisoned "spirits" who had rebelled in antediluvian times" and even goes so far as to say that it would presumably include "the fallen angels of 2 Pet. 2:4ff, who are also "the sons of God" of Genesis 6:1-4" which is another great admission, considering the who modern "sons of God" debate (see my series of posts on that HERE).

So, I share this just because it excites me to find other within the Reformed denominations who espouse the historic view on these issues, rather than explain them away and do great harm to areas of understanding in the salvation scheme of Christ.

I also just last week obtained an old copy of an 1890 book by Frederic Huidekoper which is actually two separate books in one, with the one of interest being entitled "The Belief of the First Three Centuries Concerning Christ's Mission to the Underworld." If it adds any additional worthy tidbits to this topic, I will be sure to share them.

View the other parts of the topic

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

13 October 2009

Already Gone (Ken Ham) - (Pt 1)

I am in the beginning stages of reading a book that I believe will turn out to be very interesting, and hopefully enlightening. I carry the book through my bookstore, and from all I have heard, and from my wife's review (yes, she finished it before me...again), it is well worth you looking into. This is especially true if you are a church leader, a parent, or anyone involved with education of children. The book is entitled "Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it" and is written by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer. Britt Beemer works for America's Research Group and specializes in statistics, which help to determine human nature trends. For this book, they questioned and studied 1000 American people, between the ages of 20-30, who were brought up regularly attending a conservative, evangelical church, but were now no longer active in attendance, prayer or personal Bible reading.

The trend in America is seen as matching what has already taken place in churches throughout the UK. The UK used to have a flourishing church life, and looking throughout history at the abundance of spiritual knowledge that has spawned from this area, and that obviously later led to America, we have great ties there that are worth examining. America has always been deemed a nation blessed by God, and has shown tremendous spiritual life in it's fairly short lived existence, but the trend shows a great decline, similar to what has already happened in the UK.

The basic surface level results to the inquiry, show a breakdown of the top reasons these young adults have discontinued attending, and include reasons like: boring services, legalism, hypocrisy in leaders, too political, self-righteous people, Bible not relevant, among other less common reasons. But, in digging deeper, with more probing questions, seeking reasons behind the confusion and frustrations, the book found startling results that will probably shock the readers as much as it did the researchers.

I only just got to the beginning of the first major issue they found, and until I finish exploring all they say about it, I won't divulge anything on it here yet. I hope to blog additional findings as I continue through this book, and hope it is found useful, and helpful to stop this bleeding of our churches.

Pick up the book, read along, and post your comments as I explore the book here.

Proceed to PART 2

12 October 2009


OK, I know I am way behind the times on this, it seems. Sometime ago, I know it must have been at least a year or more ago, I received a free DVD in the mail. It was interesting enough to keep, so I laid it aside in a stack of keepsakes on one of the kitchen counters. Well, all of this time went by, but over the past week I was cleaning things up some and rediscovered this DVD, so the wife and I decided to sit down and pop it in yesterday. The DVD is listed as a pre-release special one hour edition of a (then) forthcoming movie, entitled "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West."

This particular topic has been a point of interest recently, so the timing of watching this movie was about right. Back in April of this year, I believe it was, we had a special speaker come and speak to us at a chapel service at work. His names was Kamal Saleem, and he spoke for approximately twenty minutes, giving a brief history of his years of involvement as a terrorist who was actually sent to America to infiltrate and destroy from within. He had since become a Christian, and was now an outspoken opponent of the radical Islamic mission. I do not know what it was, and I am not normally captivated or interested in this type of topic; but I was mesmerized by his talk, and it had an impact on me.

Turns out he had written a book, and it was just being released that week. I went home that evening, and told my wife about the speaker, and the book. Not sure why, but she was immediately interested and said to order it. So, I did (and you can too, by simply clicking on the book image here...hint hint). When the book arrived I jumped right in, and began reading it. It was obviously a much more expanded view of the short speech he had given at my work, and the details were captivating. I had only gotten about two chapters into it before my wife captured the book from me. Of course, as she usually does with books she reads, she gets lost in them for days and hours at a time until done (meaning me and the kids didn't eat or get cleaned for that whole time...lol...jk, I love you honey). Anyway, she consumed it much quicker than I did, and of course wanted to share it with me. I made her refrain as I spent the next couple weeks finishing it myself.

It was written in a very captivating way, and leads you through his story of being recruited at the young age of seven, and how he progressed through the ranks of the radical terrorist army, and recounts mission after mission and what he went through for their cause. The story was tearful, tearful, fearful, and enlightening, and at times I had to step back and say, this can't be true. Some of it was just too shocking to my soft American mind I guess.

Throughout the story, he recounts how he now looks back and can see how the hand of God was on him to protect him through some of the horrifying things he went through, that honestly, he should not have survived. Even the way his conversion went down, one can see how God is plainly in the details of it all. An awe inspiring story I must say.

Anyway, so we had read this book a couple months back, and now had discovered this movie that we received way prior to that time, and had failed to ever watch. So, with the book and all of those gruesome stories as a backdrop, we watched this movie. Most of what Kamal (not his real name, by the way) had written was now being displayed in graphic color before us. It was all coming to life as we watched Islamic TV new clip after news clip of their agenda, their teachings, and their actions. Now it was not just reading one man's story, and hoping he was not making most of it up (some of it just seemed too shocking). Here I was seeing the same agenda he spoke of, on the screen, spoken from the mouths of the leaders of the movements. It all became so much more real now. Here is a condensed twelve minutes preview of the movie:

I highly recommend everyone to get your hands on the movie, show it to friends, get your church to screen it for the congregation to watch, and get the word out. You can access the site to read and see more, at www.ObsessionTheMovie.com. I checked and this movie is available for rent through both Blockbuster and Netflix online. On the official movie site, I see they have since released another movie, "The Third Jihad" which I am interested in checking out too.

The book by Kamal Saleem is a great read too, and additional information about it, as well as quite a bit of extra video interview footage, can be found on his site at www.kamalsaleem.com.

Sadly, we Americans have become quite ignorant, passive, and so tolerant that we have opened the door and allowed this stuff into our own backyard, with very little protest. The foot is in the door, now what will we do to slam the door on it? Education is the first step.

01 October 2009

The Mind of Madness...

Last week the family and I went on vacation down to visit family in North Carolina. This is about the fourth time my family has made the trip, but it was my first time finally being able to go with them. For one reason or another, I have never been able to go with them. Last year's trip was the first time that my family stayed in our timeshare during the trip, and they had a blast. I experienced the trip through the many photos and videos. The trip last year was the week of May 10-17, so this years trip was a bit later in the year. Maybe the date stands out to you, but probably not. Dates have become very much an "issue" for me lately, and seeing the photos from last year, dated that week in May, well, maybe it is just my twisted mind..

Since I had seen the many photos of the kids fishing last year, once we arrived and went fishing it all came to life to me. Unfortunately, one of the key photo subjects was not with us this time, and it was all that was on my mind as I relived the photo memories in person now. (Comparison photos from this years trip can/should be viewable to the public for a while by clicking HERE on my Facebook page.

Later in the week, we made the trip to the aquarium, which had also been visited by the family the year before. I again had experienced this previous visit through the photos and video clips. One of the first displays that hit me hard was the alligator. The kids again climbed on it, but all I could see when I looked, was Jonathan sitting there with his arm in the alligators mouth. Probably this, being added upon the already heightened emotional status of the prior events, made me noticeably somber for the aquarium trip (my wife assumed I was being grumpy because I am no real fan of such "nature" trips...lol).

Now, do not get me wrong. I did not mope around and cry the whole trip. We had a great time, and it was the first time that I can recall in many years (if ever) that we went on a vacation for any length of time where we really had nothing to do but relax. Unlike the 2007 trip to Disney where it was run, run, run, this trip was do what we want when we want, for the most part. We slept in almost every day (well, they slept in, I used the early morning time of peace and quiet to do some much desired reading...completing three previous started books). We fished, we swam, we shopped, we visited the in-laws, but nothing was on any specific time table. It was nice to get to spend such exclusive time with the kids, and I think we all had a good time.

We returned right before the weekend, so we had the weekend to recover before starting the new work week. Our church had a picnic Sunday after church. I ended up getting sick Saturday evening, so I was unable to attend church or the picnic that followed. I used this almost entire day alone, to rest and read. I did however, decide that this quiet time might be a good time to disassemble the photo board we made for the memorial service for my son Jonathan (pictured in a previous post). It had been folded up behind the couch ever since the memorial service ended, and we wanted to remove the photos to put them all into a dedicated photo album with other keep sakes and memorable pieces. I knew it was going to be a hard task, and I knew my wife would have a hard time with it, as she had often asked me to help her get it done.

So, I did it, but it wasn't pretty. I guess doing this, on the back of the already mentioned grievous vacation times just made matter worse. With each photo I removed, memory after memory of "better" times flooded my mind...and of course the tears flowed and flowed. (Yeah, I said it, I cried, but I AM a man...lol). One of the toughest ones was one with my mother holding Jonathan. My mother passed away in 2002, so seeing a photo of both of them, now being gone, just hit me pretty hard.

I made it through, and immediately jumped back into reading to get my mind off of it all. If not, being home alone, I would be really depressed and mope around even worse. My stinking melancholy temperament always attacks me when I get alone, and the littlest thing sets it off usually...not that it needed anything else this time.

The thing with dates, and this is where my madness is the strangest I guess, is that whenever I see a date prior to May 17th, it immediately screams at me of a time when I still had my son with me. At my office at work, I have iTunes installed on my computer, with a couple hundred songs that I play randomly through the day as I work. For those of you not familiar with iTunes, it has a column out beside each song, with stats, which includes one for the last time the song was played. Many times a day I look at the player to identify the artist or song/album titles that is playing, and I see that date. Any date prior to May 17th chokes me up for a moment and I immediately think "I last heard this song when Jonathan was still alive."

Likewise, when I see or hear dates anywhere else, a similar thing happens. I do not know if this is in anyway common, or something anyone else might experience. I can only compare to those around me, and this type of thing does not happen with my wife. Shoot, she barely remembers what day it is, has to think hard to remember her own age, and has no clue of when our anniversary is, or how many years we have been married. So, the date game is not an issue with her, to say the least (sorry honey for picking on you...I love you...lol).

Tuesday my family went back to the home school co-op school for classes, and Jonathan's art teacher met my wife in the hall, and turned over to us yet another batch of Jonathan's artwork from the previous school year. Add another memory moment to the already heightened memory meter for the week. oh, and the other odd thing, is that this same art teacher lost her husband...May 17th, 2008...one year to the date, prior to Jonathan's death, so that has always been a bit mind boggling. The date game drive me further into madness, but I guess it always will.

Well, I won't go on, I know some of you are probably tired of my constant grieving on here, and I understand. I just wanted to share and get this weeks story off my chest. I do hope to return to writing here more frequently, both on personal life matters, as well as further theological topics.

I have once again begun reading some of the more challenging topics, and have acquired a couple more titles dealing with topics previous discussed on prior blog postings. I am hoping to be more frequent in my blogging here, and I thank each and everyone of you who take the time to read the words of a simple madman like me.

Many of you read through links on Facebook, and leave comments on Facebook itself about my posts. I appreciate every comment, but would appreciate it even more if you would leave your comments right here, below, on the blog itself. That will preserve them linked to the article permanently, unlike how they disappear on Facebook.

Thank you