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GPS – The Dominion Mandate

GPS – The Dominion Mandate

by Rick Shrader

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The Dominion Mandate was given to Adam and then jointly to Eve in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion. . .” It is repeated in 1:28, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion. . .” The Mandate is also explained in Gen. 2:5-17; restated in 9:2-3; and mentioned again in Psalm 8:6-8. Rolland McCune wrote, “This program of stewardship responsibility began with the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:26-27 and is forwarded by the progressive unfolding of God’s revelational light in succeeding dispensations” (Systematic, I, 139). The Mandate is passed on to us but with modifications. The obvious failure in successive generations is to worship and serve the creation more than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

The Garden was a big place (from Cush to the Euphrates river) and Adam needed help. “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make a helper comparable to him” (2:18). Though the Mandate called for procreation, it first called for help. “Let them have dominion” (1:26). “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, be fruitful . . . And have dominion” (1:28). This is no doubt why God made a female for Adam, “male and female He created them” (1:27). He could have made another man or a number of men. But they could not have multiplied. Why is that important? “This makes perfect sense. For if one gardener is not enough for such a great garden, nor will two be. They need to start a whole family of gardeners”  (Ash, Married for God, 36). This Mandate will go on for generations and generations are needed to fulfill it.

The responsibility at the beginning included the disobedience regarding the trees. Adam failed to protect and lead, and Eve failed to submit and follow. In spite of that, their respective jobs in the Mandate would continue. Adam’s primary job was to till the ground and Eve’s was to fill the earth. However, his would be with sweat and hers would be with pain (Gen. 3:16-19). In addition, the problem of headship and complementarity would continually plague the family, “Your desire shall be for [over] your husband, and he shall rule [harshly] over you” (3:16).

There has been an ongoing controversy over the Dominion Mandate (see the book review on the 2nd page). Many today think we must re-establish the Mosaic law (“Theonomy”) and seek to bring in the kingdom of God in all parts of culture and government (“postmillennialism”) even to the extent of overthrowing existing governments. The fact is, we cannot change the world ourselves and bring in a millennium of peace and godliness. Only Jesus Christ can do that by His glorious return to this world and the judgments and blessings that will result. In this dispensation we  still have dominion over the animals and the earth but our failure will be to worship the earth (or climate) and lower man to the level of animals.

The church is the “pillar and ground of the truth” in this age (1 Tim. 3:15). Our stewardship of the Dominion Mandate is to preach the gospel to the whole world (Matt. 28:18-20) and to worship the Lord Jesus in spirit and truth (John 4:24) through the local church. It still takes families to accomplish this task, fathers and mothers who work, worship, and evangelize and children who grow up to take over this business. Satan is working hard to win the day and he will win a brief victory at the end of the age. But Jesus Christ will take His church home and then, after deposing Satan, will return and set up a kingdom dominion that cannot be removed.

 

Book Review:    

Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?

By H. Wayne House and Thomas Ice

The subject of Dominion Theology, Theonomy, Reconstructionism is still very popular. This (1988) book is a textbook treatment and critique of the movement made popular in the late 20th century by R. J. Rushdoony, Gary North, Greg Bahnsen, David Chilton, and others. Though it appears old, it is amazingly up-to-date in its definitions, history, and theology of the movement. Dominion Theology, Theonomy, Reconstructionism (and sometimes “Christian Nationalism”) are names for a postmillennial view of history in which advocates have been trying to bring about the kingdom of God by human means. Postmillennialism is the view that Christians will convert the world and make it into the kingdom (millennium) so that Jesus Christ can return (hence, “post”) and take His rule. Reconstructionists believe that God’s Dominion Mandate requires that God’s law (the actual Mosaic, Old Testament, law) must be enacted in every nation as its constitution. They believe that all other laws, including the United States’ constitution, are fallible human laws and are therefore lawless in the eyes of God. The institution of the Mosaic law would require any nation to govern itself by every civil and moral law of the Old Testament. This would include stoning as the form of capital punishment for adultery, abortion, homosexuality, and even disobedience to parents. This would also include dietary laws and some form of voluntary slavery. Religious, or ceremonial, laws of sacrifices are usually excluded as fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice.

This book will inform the reader of the entire history of this movement, their postmillennial and often Reformed theology, their antipathy toward other views especially premillennial dispensationalism, and it will reinforce the biblical doctrines concerning a coming future kingdom and the believer’s command to look and wait for it.

Note: A version of Dominion Theology is sometimes called “Christian Nationalism” and connected with Doug Wilson of Moscow, Idaho and James Wesley Rawles and the “Redoubt” movement. Christian Nationalism is often used also to refer to a number of political movements not necessarily connected to Reconstructionism, though Wilson and Rawles are postmillennial reconstructionists.

Statistics:     

“The U.S. population demographic growing most quickly is those over the age of sixty-five. They represent more than a quarter of the entire population, seventy-eight million in total. Approximately 7,918 people turn sixty-two each day. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the number of Americans over the age of sixty-five has tripled; average life expectancy has risen from forty-seven to seventy-eight years. Today, over 90 percent of Americans can expect to live past the age of sixty-five, and most of these older adults will become grandparents” (p. 52).

“One stereotype of a grandparent is someone who is physically frail and old-fashioned in thought and lifestyle. This perception is not correct. Approximately half of grandparents are under the age of sixty and are not members of the elderly population, with the medium age between fifty-three and fifty-seven. Research shows that the average grandparent becomes a grandparent at an early age, lives longer than previous generations, is healthier, is financially stable, and has a living spouse . . . Nearly one-third of grandparents experience grandparenthood ‘off time,’ younger than forty or older than sixty.” (p. 98).

Josh Mulvihill, Biblical Grandparenting (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2018)

A Biblical Picture of an Old Disciple

“There went with us also certain of the disciples of Caesarea, and brought with them one Mnason of Cyprus, an old disciple, with whom we should lodge” (Acts 21:16).

The word translated “old” here is archaios, meaning ancient, original, primeval, a veteran. It is used in the New Testament as “them of old time” (Matt 5:21); the “old world” (2 Pet 2:5); “one of the old prophets has risen again” (Luke 9:19).

Matthew Henry commented on Mnason, “It is honorable to be an old disciple of Jesus Christ, to have been enabled by the grace of God to continue long in a course of duty, steadfast in the faith, and growing more and more prudent and experienced to a good old age.  And with these old disciples one would choose to lodge; for the multitude of their years will teach wisdom”  (The Acts, p. 277).

 

GPS – The Genesis of Life

GPS – The Genesis of Life

by Rick Shrader

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It is God Who gave us life. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness . . . So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:26-27). The word “Man” is from the Hebrew word “adam” (Adam). In Gen 5:2 it is translated “Mankind” when referring to both the man and the woman. This is like the New Testament word anthropos (Man or Mankind). We are all of the race of “man” or “Mankind.” This is why the Bible always uses the masculine gender to describe the whole human race.

This was day 6 of creation and God had already created the animals on day 5. But the animals are not in God’s image, nor the angels, only man in each gender, male and female. Adam was given dominion over the animals and even named each animal, “But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” (Gen 2:20).

“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him’” (Gen 2:18). This “helper” is the woman. Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman because she was taken out of man” (Gen 2:23). Adam also named her “Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen 3:20). The image of God which began in Adam is now given to Eve and will also be passed on to each offspring of a man and a woman. Seth was born in the image of God from Adam and Eve (Gen 5:3). Every human being possesses the image of God.

In the dominion mandate given to Adam and Eve in Gen 1:26 and 28, the first two statements are to have dominion over all other creatures that God made (vs. 26) and also to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (vs. 28). We will deal with dominion over the earth in a later article, but here we need to see that man was created male and female for the express purpose of reproduction.  On the first day of creation the earth was “void,” that is, empty. The same is said after the flood waters of Noah had receded (Gen 8:13-19). God made the animals male and female (one of each were taken on the ark) so that they would reproduce and fill the earth, but He also made mankind male and female to do the same.

It has always taken a male and a female to reproduce life whether animals or human beings. It will always take the sperm of a man and the seed of a woman to make another human being. At the time of conception this combines into XY or XX chromosomes, male or female. At that moment the DNA is set for life. The image of God is passed to this new person (an eternal soul) but also something else—the sin of our original parents, Adam and Eve (Rom 5:12). This is why “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), and why “The wages of sin is death, but [and this is the good news] the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23).

We live in a mixed up time. The sinful nature which comes to each of us at conception (David said, “In sin my mother conceived me”) can sink to unbelievable lows. In Romans chapter 1, three times we are told God gave human beings up to the immoral actions of their sinful nature which had produced in them a debased or reprobate mind (Rom 1:28). But the good news is still that God loved us and gave His only Son for us that we might be saved from our sin and have eternal life (John 3:16). God loves his image-bearers and we are all image-bearers.

Book Review:    

Marriage and the Family

By Andreas Köstenberger

             Andreas Köstenberger has written a number of books recently on the family. This one (2012) was written with David W. Jones but is essentially Köstenberger’s. It is a good synopsis of his other writings in that it is only about 175 pages and contains shorter chapters written for the layman and parents. The chapters include Marriage in the Bible, Marriage and sex, Family in the Bible, Reproduction and Parenting, Singleness, Homosexuality, Divorce and Remarriage, God, Marriage, Family, and the Church. Köstenberger has been very good on headship, complementarity, submission, life at conception, marriage as a covenant before God, discipline for children of various ages, and is moderate on divorce and remarriage. In this volume I especially liked his comments on adoption into God’s family, help for single people, and an emphasis on the local church which stands separately and, in its own right, above family relationships i.e., our relationship to brothers and sisters in Christ is eternally longer-lasting than our earthly family relationships. That can be encouraging to singles and those in broken family situations. If you want to get acquainted with Köstenberger, this is an easy way to get started.

In a section titled, “Created in God’s Image to Rule the Earth for God,” Köstenberger writes: “The fact that both men and women are created in the likeness and image of their Creator invests them with inestimable worth, dignity, and significance. God’s image in the man and the woman has frequently been identified as conveying their possession of intelligence, a will, or emotions. While this may be implied to some extent in Genesis 1:27, the immediate context develops the notion of the divine image in the man and the woman as indicating representative rule.” (p. 12).

In his conclusion he writes, “For the first time in its history Western civilization is confronted with the need to define the meaning of the terms marriage and family. The cultural crisis that rages concerning definitions of these terms is symptomatic of an underlying spiritual crisis that gnaws at the foundations of our once-shared societal values . . . Human sexuality and relationships are rooted in the eternal will of the Creator” (p. 155).

Statistics:     

“Americans’ Complex Views on Gender Identity and Transgender Issues.”

When asked what has influenced their views on gender identity – specifically, whether they believe a person can be a different gender than the sex they were assigned at birth – those who believe gender can be different from sex at birth and those who do not point to different factors. For the former group, the most influential factors shaping their views are what they’ve learned from science (40% say this has influenced their views a great deal or a fair amount) and knowing someone who is transgender (38%). Some 46% of those who say gender is determined by sex at birth also point to what they’ve learned from science, but this group is far more likely (than those who say a person’s gender can be different from their sex at birth) to say their religious beliefs have had at least a fair amount of influence on their opinion (41% vs. 9%).” Pew Research Center, 6/28/2022.

(Editor’s note: It is a shame that only 41% of people can say “a fair amount” of their opinion is influenced by their faith)

A New Year Promise

Psalm 121 has been a comfort to travelers for thousands of years. It is one of 15 Songs of Ascents (or Degrees) that the Israelites would sing as they ascended the hills of Judea to Jerusalem for the feast days.   The psalm is divided into four stanzas of two verses each. Each stanza gives a promise to travelers of God’s blessing and protection. Their help comes from the Creator (vs. 2); He will not allow their foot to slip (vs. 3); the LORD will be their shade (vs. 5); and then in vs. 8, the LORD will preserve their going out and coming in. We will all be going out or coming in this year and we need the Lord’s preserving. It could even be the time of our final home-going. Matthew Henry wrote,

“He will keep thee in life and death, thy going out and going on while thou livest and thy coming in when thou diest, going out to thy labor in the morning of thy days and coming home to thy rest when the evening of old age calls thee in.”  (on Psa. 121:8).

 

GPS – A Light to the Gentiles

GPS – A Light to the Gentiles

by Rick Shrader

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Mary and Joseph had brought the child Jesus to the temple at Jerusalem to be presented and redeemed as the first-born, with a sacrificial offering of the poor. This first month had been full of amazing events surrounding the birth of this Savior-child. Angelic appearance and announcement had been made; shepherds had given word that they would find the babe in Bethlehem; wise men from the Orient had come with expensive gifts; Cousin Elizabeth and Zacharias had given inspired verse concerning Jesus; and awfully, king Herod had ordered the death of young male children hoping to destroy any personal rival.

Yet, knowing the danger of bringing the child to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph desired to keep the law of God at the house of God. Here they would find two more heaven-sent visitors, the last of the inspired testimonials, two senior saints waiting for the promise of seeing the Lord’s Messiah. Anna, one of only four Old Testament prophetesses, lived within the temple walls due to her “great age.” She had no doubt married at fifteen or sixteen years of age, had lived with her husband only seven years, and had remained a widow for eighty-four years. She did not leave the temple area but spent her centenarian years in “fasting and prayers night and day.” The Lord had graciously revealed to her that she would see the redemption of Israel before she died. And having seen Jesus, she “spoke of Him to all those who looked for the redemption in Jerusalem.”

Simeon was more able to travel from without the temple area. He was also “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.” Being guided by the Holy Spirit, he came into the temple area as Joseph was presenting Jesus to the priest according to the law. Not being a prophet himself, “it had been revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” And so upon being led to the child, and interrupting the lawful ritual, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:

Lord, now You are letting your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all people, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.

The redemption for which Anna looked, and the consolation revealed to Simeon, the “glory of your people of Israel,” will eventually come when this Child reigns on David’s throne in this very city of Jerusalem as the angelic host had proclaimed, “on earth peace, good will toward men.” But Luke’s greater point, and the blessing to us at this Christmas time, is that this Child would be a light to the Gentiles. This light is said to come first and then will come the glory to Israel. Though the Jews of that day crucified their Messiah, it is the Gentiles who will respond in faith to the light of the gospel. Luke will later record Peter’s words, “God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18).

 

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all He brings,

Ris’n with heal – ing in His wings.

Mild He lays His glory by,

Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the new – born King.”

 

Book Review

Various Statements Defining Marriage

We will take time from our normal book reviews to give some recent statements about the definition of marriage. These are in direct contrast to the U.S. Senate’s “Respect for Marriage Act,” passed November 27, 2022, which undermines all respect for biblical marriage.

Elisabeth Elliot: “God might have given Adam another man to be his friend, to walk and talk and argue with if that was his pleasure. But Adam needed more than the companionship of the animals or the friendship of a man. He needed a helper, specially designed and prepared to fill that role. It was a woman God gave him, a woman, ‘meet,’ fit, suitable, entirely appropriate for him, made of his very bones and flesh.” Let Me Be a Woman, 13

Andreas Köstenberger: “Equality and distinctness, complementarity and submission/authority must be held in fine balance. The man and the woman are jointly charged with ruling the earth representatively for God, yet they are not to do so androgynously or as ‘unisex’ creatures, but each as fulfilling their God-ordained, gender-specific roles.” God, Marriage, and Family, p. 26

Albert Mohler: “God enshrined in the marriage union the concept of complementarianism, which upholds the equal dignity of man and woman as both created in the image of God but complementing one another through different gender roles.” The Gathering Storm, p. 69.

John Stott: “Marriage is an exclusive heterosexual covenant between one man and one woman, ordained and sealed by God, preceded by a public leaving of parents, consummated in sexual union, issuing in a permanent mutually supportive partnership, and normally crowned by the gift of children.” “Marriage and Divorce.”

Christopher Ash: “Marriage is the voluntary sexual and public social union of one man and one woman from different families. This union is patterned upon the union of God with his people his bride, the Christ with his church. Intrinsic to this union is God’s calling to lifelong exclusive sexual faithfulness,” Marriage, p. 211.

Kevin DeYoung: “Marriage must be, and can only be, between a man and a woman, because marriage is not just the union of two persons but the reunion of a complementary pair.” Men and Women in the Church, p. 30

John MacArthur: “Families are the building blocks of human society, a society that does not protect the family undermines its very existence. When the family goes, anarchy is the logical outcome.” Divine Design, p. 65.

Statistics

“A Growing share of Americans see the Supreme Court as friendly toward religion” says a November, 2022 Pew Research poll.

“Although growing shares across a range of religious and demographic groups say the court is friendly toward faith, groups vary in the extent to which they feel this way. About half of religiously unaffiliated (51%) and Jewish (53%) adults in the new survey say they believe the court is friendly toward religion, while a much smaller share of Christians (27%) say the same. Self-described atheists are especially likely to view the Supreme Court as friendly toward religion: 74% now say this, up sharply from 43% a few years ago. A majority of Christians (57%), meanwhile, say the Supreme Court is neutral toward religion.”

A Quotable Quote

“What marvelous grace we behold in that wondrous descent from heaven’s throne to Bethlehem’s manger! It had been an act of infinite condescension if the One who was the Object of angelic worship had deigned to come down to this earth and reign over it as King; but that He should appear in weakness, that He should voluntarily choose poverty, that He should become a helpless Babe—such grace is altogether beyond our ken; such matchless love passeth knowledge. O that we may never lose our sense of wonderment at the infinite condescension of God’s Son.” Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, p. 41.

On the Lighter Side

Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents’ house the week before Christmas. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers. The younger one began praying at the top of his lungs, “I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE…I PRAY FOR A NEW NINTENDO…” His older brother leaned over and said, “Why are you shouting? God isn’t deaf,” to which the little brother replied, “No, but Grandma is!”

 

GPS – Four Phases of Parenting

GPS – Four Phases of Parenting

by Rick Shrader

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Life is a long time. That’s what I’ve said to my children as they planned to marry. Life is a short time. That’s what I think when I look back over married life. The periods of parenting are like a telescope that keeps opening and stretching into long and thankful years. These stages each have their own developing stages.

Pre-Parenting

Being single is that time of anticipation and seeking God’s will. Some remain single for life (1 Cor 7:7) and singleness can be a devoted life. Most will become engaged and marry. This is a time to be choosy and longsuffering. Marriage is a covenant among a man, a woman, and God. The newlywed stage comes quickly and is a time for building the home to seek and honor God, a time for husband and wife to arrange the home to last a life-time.

Parenting

Children come and the home transitions from quiet and orderly to noisy and exciting. Life begins at conception and the announcement of a new family member is a wonderful time. The growing years follow quickly from infants to toddlers to kindergartners. Mother and father are putting their parenting philosophy to the test, training up a child in the way he should go, bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, leading them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, hearing their witness and watching their baptism. The teenage years can be glad and rewarding if the earlier years have been honoring to God but they aren’t easy. They are busy and stressful and prayerful. Young adults who love the Lord are worth all the tired and sleepless nights. Still, one by one they leave and start their own families.

Post-Parenting

There is that odd time when the house seems so empty, between the hustle and bustle of students to the empty-nest of reflection. Parenting is supposed to be a temporary job. You raised them to do this whole process again themselves. You can wait for the grandchildren because in the meantime your children need you to be godly examples of the home they are trying to build in God’s will. They will parrot your earlier instructions, they will call and seek your godly advice on life’s matters, they will face new and odd challenges from their own generation, and, most important of all, they will need parents who pray and whose prayer avails much.

Grand-Parenting

Life begins again, it becomes grand, when you see your children’s children. You are the proud onlooker who now vividly witnesses what life is all about, how God has designed it to multiply and have dominion as believers in a sinful world. All of your effort is now more than worth it. You will be the gray-champion for a while because those little feet come running to you and you gladly gather them into your arms. But you will soon have to let them go and grow. You will watch from afar as your own children raise their own children. That gray champion needs to become the godly example and counselor. The senior years are the culmination of all that has gone before. Wear them both humbly and proudly. Your life has never meant so much. Be thankful.

“Both young men and maidens; old men and children. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psa 148:12-13).

Book Review

Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood

Wayne Grudem, Editor

It was in 1991 that Wayne Grudem and John Piper edited Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. This book, edited only by Grudem, written in 2002, is a compilation of addresses given at a conference in Dallas, TX by various authors. The major messages in the book are done by Grudem and Bruce Ware with single chapters by five other authors. These are an update on the ongoing issues of family life relating to submission, headship, and complementarity. Although the writings are now 20 years old, these issues continue to be central in family and church life. Grudem does a long chapter on the Greek word for “head” (kephale) showing that the word never means “source” alone (feminism’s long-standing contention) in the New Testament and is always used of a person who has leadership over another. Grudem also does a chapter titled, “The Myth of Mutual Submission as an Interpretation of Ephesians 5:21.” He shows that “submission” (hypotasso) is never used of a husband’s submission to the wife. In addition, “one another” (allelous) in 5:21 must take the meaning of “some to others” and not “everyone to everyone.” Bruce Ware’s contribution relates to the headship within the trinity and its relation to complementarity. He writes, “Arguments will be weighed, and support will be offered for the church’s long-standing commitment to the trinitarian persons’ full equality of essence and differentiation of persons, the latter of which includes and entails the eternal functional subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Spirit to both Father and Son.” Submission then, as seen in 1 Cor 11:3, always flows one-way from the head. (Note: I’m not always theologically aligned to Grudem or Ware, but they are very helpful in these areas of complementarity and headship.)

Statistics

A Pew Research Center Analysis in February 2021 titled, “Boomers, Silents, still have most seats in congress, though numbers of Millennials, Gen Xers, is up slightly.” Their results showed the changes from the 115th Congress to the 116th, to the 117th (current) Congress. The Silent generation (born 1928-1945) decreased from 10% to 9% to 6% over those three Congresses. They now have the least number of seats in the House of Representatives. Boomers decreased also from 62% to 54% to 53% but they are still the largest group in Congress by far holding 230 seats in the House and 68 seats in the Senate. Gen Xers rose during these three Congresses from 27% to 32% to 33%. Millennials rose from 1% to 6% to 7%. “When comparing the ages of new and continuing House members, the gap is widest among Democrats, who as a whole have a median age of 60.6. The median age of the 206 Democrats who were reelected is 61.9; the 17 newly elected Democrats have a median age of 50.7. . . The 165 Republican House members continuing into the 117th Congress have a median age of 58.7, while the 44 new GOP representatives have a median age of 53. For all Republican House members, the median age is 57.3.” Accessed 10/27/22.

A Quotable Quote

“At the age of 83—after having traveled some 250,000 miles on horseback, preached more than 40,000 sermons, and produced some 200 books and pamphlets—John Wesley regretted that he was unable to read and write for more than 15 hours a day without his eyes becoming too tired to work. After his 86th birthday, he admitted to an increasing tendency to lie in bed until 5:30 in the morning!”  (2022 Family Times)

On the Lighter Side

I have never been able to tell the difference between an alligator and a crocodile. One has a fatter snout, but I can’t even remember which one does. They say they are of slightly different color, one species is usually larger than the other, one is faster than the other, one is more aggressive than the other. But I read the other day a difference between the alligator and the crocodile that made sense to me. One will see you later, and the other after while. That, I can remember!

 

 

GPS – Grandparents as Figure-Heads

GPS – Grandparents as Figure-Heads

by Rick Shrader

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The primary headship of the family is in the fathers (as parents over children), but the figure-headship of the family is in the grandparents. A “figurehead” is one who is in charge “in name only,” or as a “representative of another.” As the parents, we were the ones in charge, the “hands-on” authority over our children. As life progressed we went from commanders of young ones to advisors and counselors of older ones. Yet the Scripture still presents the grandparent as having a certain headship, not primarily but in symbolic importance in a number of ways.

A Godly Heritage. “For You, O God, have heard my vows; You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name” (Psa 61:5). Our heritage is the faith and history of our forefathers entrusted to us for transmission to our own posterity. Solomon said, for a man “to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God” (Ecc 5:19). These are responsibilities only the elders, those connected to past generations, can fulfill.

A Godly Inheritance. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov 13:22). I’ve never liked the bumber-sticker that reads, “I’m spending my children’s inheritance.” Paul warned, “For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (2 Cor 12:14). Houses, lands, and riches matter not compared to eternal things. David said, in light of his faith in Christ’s resurrection, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance” (Psa 16:6).

A Godly Posterity. “A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation” (Psa 22:31). More than an inheritance, a posterity of people, of the Lord’s servants, will rise up after us and call upon the Lord. My daily prayer for each of my grandchildren is that they would give their lives to the Lord’s service. I pray for their future spouses that they would join together in this great endeavor. “The posterity of the righteous will be delivered” (Prov 11:22).

A Godly Memory. Moses warned the elders of his day, “Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. And teach them to your children and your grandchildren” (Deut 4:9). Many times at funerals I have watched the tears in grandchildren’s eyes as they remembered the wisdom of their grandparent. They had not seen what grandpa or grandma had seen but they often listened with respect as they were told of the biblical faith being passed down to them.

A Godly Testimony. “For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Psa 78:5-7).

The most important responsibility for the figure-head of the family is to pass on the testimony of faith in Christ. When Moses sang his song of deliverance after crossing the Red Sea he said, “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him” (Exod 15:2). Wouldn’t any grandparent love to hear those words from his or her children and grandchildren?

Book Review

On Death by Timothy Keller

I am not necessarily a Tim Keller fan. I don’t align with much of his ecclesiology. Since, however, I deal with death and dying, I wanted to read this small booklet. I found it informative and helpful. Keller has only two main sections: The Fear of Death, and The Rupture of Death. The first section is made up of four reasons why people today don’t face death well. 1) The blessing of modern medicine. He means that medicine is a great blessing but it has removed the presence of dying loved ones from the home and family. 2) This-World Happiness. He writes, “Modern culture, then, is the worst in history at preparing its members for the only inevitability—death.” Everything in life seems to be more important than preparing for the next one. 3) The Sense of Insignificance. Modernism and postmodernism have reduced life to the few years we have with nothing beyond. Death, then, highlights the meaninglessness of life. 4) A Fear of Judgment. By this he means we have lost the “categories of sin, guilt, and forgiveness in modern culture.” All of this “triggers a crisis for modern people in the face of death.”

In the second section, The Rupture of Death, Keller deals with how a Christian should grieve in light of biblical promises. Here he builds on Paul’s statement that “we sorrow not as others who have no hope” (1 Thes 4:13). The best part of this section is on the Beatific Hope, i.e., the Christian hope of one day seeing the glory of God. This has historically been called The Beatific Vision. It is an emphasis that even many Christians have missed.

Statistics

Josh Mulvihill, in his seminal work, Biblical Grandparenting, gave the following four “Perceived Roles of Christian Grandparents” from his own research. His intention was to encourage grandparents to be disciple-makers.

The Encouraging Voice (16%). “A cheerleader who loves grandchildren for who they are and the unique gifting they possess. This grandparent sees the positive and desires to bring out the potential in their grandchildren. One who seeks to help a grandchild accomplish goals and has a natural tendency to ask questions.”

The Supportive Partner (32%). “A helping hand with the day-to-day tasks of parenting. This grandparent operates as a co-laborer who comes alongside their adult children in a variety of ways. Oriented toward seeing a need and meeting a need. An agreeable grandparent who reinforces their children’s parenting practices and philosophies without interfering.”

The Loving Friend (28%). “A companion whose focus is building a strong relationship with grandchildren and having fun together. Often avoids difficult conversations or disciplinary matters. An activity-oriented grandparent who likes to create memories, communicate affection, and occasionally spoil grandchildren.”

The Disciple-Maker (24%). “A mentor who intentionally attempts to pass faith in Christ to future generations. Desires to see their grandchildren know Christ and grow in Christ. Seeks to live as a Christlike example and share godly wisdom with grandchildren.” (Josh Mulvihill, Biblical Grandparenting, p. 134)

A Quotable Quote

William Law on growing old. “Delight in its service and beg of God to adorn it with every grace and perfection. Nourish it with good works, give it peace in solitude, get it strength in prayer, make it wise with reading, enlighten it by meditation, make it tender with love, sweeten it with humility, humble it with penance, enliven it with psalms and hymns, and comfort it with frequent reflections upon future glory.”  (from, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, 1729)

On the Light Side

An out of shape person was working out at the local health club. The trainer said, “You should try to communicate with your muscles more often.” The trainee replied, “I don’t like to talk to strangers.” The trainer persisted and said, “You have to listen to what your body is telling you.” The trainee replied, “But I didn’t come here to be insulted.” (Thanks to Bro. Bernie Augsburger for this funny in the Trumpet Notes)

 

 

GPS – Headship in the Human Family

GPS – Headship in the Human Family

by Rick Shrader

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From the beginning God created men and women to be in a marriage relationship with the man as the head of the woman. This was never a master/slave arrangement but rather a complementarity of assigned roles among equals. The Bible gives examples of what this relationship looks like.

In the Godhead.  “The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3). The Father and the Son, though equal in essence, are complement in function or person. “Priority is not necessarily superiority.” Two can be equal with one as the head. Jesus said, “I always do those things that please Him” (John 8:29).

In the Garden. Adam and Eve were both created in the image of God and thus of equal worth as human beings (Gen 1:27; Gal 3:28). Yet the man is the head as the spiritual priest of the new family, having been created first and from the ground; having named the woman as Eve and mother (Gen 2:23; 3:20), being responsible for the tree and for Eve’s first disobedience (1 Tim 2:14). We sinned in Adam, not in Eve.

In the First Marriage. “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him  . . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Gen 2:18, 24). Now Adam had a helper in his dominion mandate. “Then God blessed them, and God said to them . . . Have dominion’ (Gen 1:28). It is not the woman who leaves father and mother but the man. He will begin a new family with her as his partner. He will be the tiller of the ground (from which he came) and she will be the filler of the earth (responsible for the body out of which she came). Complementarity is not a result of the fall but of the sinless creation of man and woman.

In the Fall. Paul makes it clear that though Eve was first deceived (1 Tim 2:14; 2 Cor 11:3) we sinned in Adam not in Eve (Rom 5:12). The human race was in Adam (Heb. adam, “man,” Gen 2:7; “mankind,” Gen 5:2; “sons of men,” Prov 8:31) and therefore the sin is truly ours as a member of the race of “man.” In the punishment meted out by God, Adam would still till the ground but in sweat and Eve would still bear the race but in pain. Both would do their part in the dominion mandate and the complementary responsibilities would remain the same.

In the Family. Now when we are told that “the head of woman is man” (1 Cor 11:3) we understand the nature of that headship. Submission is not inferiority and headship is not superiority. Headship is leadership and submission is followership. This arrangement was ordained by God in humanity’s innocence in the garden. Husband and wife find their God-given purpose in the family relationship. Children also find their purpose in their submission to parents (Eph 6:1-3).

In the Church. “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). All Christians are equal as children of God. Yet in the preaching of the gospel and the pastoring of the church, only men are found in the New Testament (1 Tim 3:1-7, Tit 1:5-9). Women find their fulfillment in a complementary role (1 Tim 2:12; Rom 16:1-3) as has always been the case in God’s world.

And so. We will come back to the subject of grandparents in this arrangement. Children grow up and start their own home. A grandparent’s role changes but never loses a spiritual influence. “Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding” (Job 12:12).

Book Review

Men and Women in the Church  By Kevin DeYoung

I have read Kevin DeYoung on a variety of topics and have always found him helpful. This paperback book (of about 150 pages) is one of the best things I have read recently on the family and which closely aligns with the article in this paper. He writes, “So what is this book about? In simplest terms, this book is about divinely designed complementarity of men and women as it applies to life in general and especially to ministry in the church.”  Of creation DeYoung writes, “The man’s primary vocation is ‘naming, taming, dividing, and ruling.’ The woman’s primary vocation involves ‘filling, glorifying, generating, establishing communion, and bringing forth new life.’” Of the effects of the fall he writes, “The marriage relationship, which was supposed to be marked by mutually beneficial headship and helping, becomes a fight over sinful rebellion and ruling. God designed sexual difference for one another; sin takes sexual difference and makes it opposed to one another.”

DeYoung wrote this book in 2021 so it is up to date on marriage and church issues. In this volume he will also cover the headship issues in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, the marriage of Christ and the church in Ephesians chapter 5, and the preaching/teaching order in 1 Timothy chapter 3. For solid biblical information on these issues as well as gender and complementarity, this book will be a great read.

Statistics

The multi-generational household (where more than one generation of families live together) has been fluctuating back and forth for a century. The Pew Research Center points out that in 1900, 57% of adults 65 and older in the US lived in multi-generational households, whereas by 1990 only 17% did. That dramatic drop was due to the mobility of seniors created by retirements, Social Security and Medicare, and post-war prosperity. This created what is called “the social contract,” the so-called agreement between generations, “you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone.”

Pew Research is reporting that recently, beginning in about 2008, the multi-generational household is making a comeback with over 6.6 million seniors living with children and grandchildren. This is due to the down-turn in the economy but also to the fact that Boomers have a whole generation of children who are now able to provide for them in their senior years. A real question becomes, who is the “head” of the multi-generational household? 58% of the time it is the grandfather, in 42% of the time it is the son (depending on who moved in with whom!). Pew Research Center, “The Return of the Multi-Generational Family Household,” accessed 8/29/22.

A Short Word Study

Most people are afraid of dying. They kid themselves about what’s on the other side of death. The believer has assurance that death is just the door to a far better existence, that to be “absent from the body” is to be “present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). The Psalmist said, “You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psa 73:24; see also 49:15). The word “receive” (laqach) is used of Enoch in Gen 5:24, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took (received) him.” It is also used in 2 Kings 2:10 of Elijah, “If you see me when I am taken (received) from you, it shall be so for you.” Paul knew that to die and be separated from our body is to be immediately taken into God’s presence. One day, however, the trumpet will sound for the whole church and living believers will be “caught up” (received)together to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thes 4:17), body and soul together! In either case, as the Psalmist expressed, “Whom have I in heaven but You?”

On the Light-Hearted Side

Jacob was 92 and Rebecca was 89 and they were engaged. As they were walking they passed a drug store and went in. “Do you have heart medication?” they asked. “Yes, of course” was the answer. How about for rheumatism?” “Yes, of course.” “Arthritis, jaundice?” “That too.” “What about wheelchairs and walkers?” “All speeds and sizes” was the answer. “Great,” Jacob said, “We’d like to use this store as our bridal registry.”

 

GPS – The Junctions in the Road

GPS – The Junctions in the Road

by Rick Shrader

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Life is a series of intersections which demand a choice of one direction over another. Paul found this true on the beginning of his second missionary journey in Acts 16. He wanted to turn left to Asia but was “forbidden by the Holy Spirit” (vs 6). Then he wanted to turn right toward Bithynia but “the Spirit did not permit them” (vs 7). He ended up in Troas until God called him to Macedonia (vs 10). God knew that the right turn at the right time would make a world of difference in Paul’s ministry. It would be nice if we all had the advantage the apostles had of direct revelation from God for even the smallest decisions. But we don’t.

The greatest junction in any person’s life is the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Savior. This, of course, will change everything in a life. The second greatest choice is the choice of whom we marry. Young people cannot see all the changes and directions that being married to this person will bring. Your children will be the life-long image of you and this person. The relatives with whom you spend the rest of your life will be determined by this person. Where you live, the occupation you have, the life-style you choose, even the way you worship, will be determined by this choice of a marital partner. Choose wisely!

Robert Frost began his famous poem by writing, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.” We can stand at the junction in the road and look a little ways down that road but we cannot see past the first turn. Beyond that is the unknown. Fortunately for the believer, God sees it all and knows which way is best. But we must be in proper fellowship with Him if we are going to know His will for this choice. God can work things out for good wherever we go, but there is still that “good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:2). The job of parents and grandparents is to advise and counsel our children through these turns in the road. Even if we made mistakes ourselves (and who hasn’t?), we have learned and become wiser. We cannot make the decisions for our adult children, but by keeping the communication lines open we can be the help that makes  the difference.

Once we start off down the chosen path, there is a point where we cannot go back. This can be a blessing or have difficult consequences. Choosing the right partner in marriage, answering God’s call to ministry, going to the right school for education, are examples of blessings in our choices. A deserting partner in marriage, an offer of a drug or drink, a conviction of a crime, are choices that carry life-long consequences or an un-reversable change of direction.

But I also believe there is a point where the decision of a certain direction can be reversed. In the Bible it is called repentance. God can bring immediate conviction and discomfort to your heart that warns you of a wrong direction. He may bring someone into your path with good advice that warns you and changes your mind. Jesus told the church at Ephesus that they should remember where they took the wrong turn and then repent and go back to that point and start again (Rev 2:5). Part of our job as parents is to catch the child in a wrong direction while there is still time to turn around. This can require tender or tough love because our child cannot see very far ahead. You can. You’ve been there. If any of us lack wisdom, let us ask of God, Who gives it to all of us liberally.

 

Book Review

The Vanishing Ministry in the 21st Century.  By Woodrow Kroll

I have been following a series of articles on the shortage of ministers needed to fill ministry positions. These articles referenced this book by Woodrow Kroll, the former president of Back to the Bible Radio Program and former president of Practical Bible College (now Davis College). Kroll wrote a first edition in 1991 on the 20th century need, and followed that by this second edition in 2002. Kroll, being a college man himself, spends a lot of time in the book relating the history of college trends that have hurt ministry rather than helped. The foremost of these is the watering down of “vocational” ministry majors with non-ministry majors. This has been primarily due to the need of tuition income but it has also caused the percentage of ministry majors to decline. Kroll devotes chapters to his reasons for a decline in ministry-minded men: Secular self-interest; upwardly mobile parents; misguided Christian school teachers; social mission work rather than gospel work; false calls to the ministry as well as call to ministry without follow-through. Among his few solutions is the return to preaching the call of God on a young man’s life and the challenge of ministry as a vocation to our young people. At the end of the book (in 2002) he presents the new millennial generation as a bright hope for the future. Sadly, Kroll’s optimism at this point has failed to materialize. In fact, Barna points out (in 2017, see below), “The lack of leadership development among millennials and Gen-Xers and the lack of succession planning among Boomers” have contributed to the lack of ministers today.

Statistics

George Barna’s article “The Aging of America’s Pastors” (March 1, 2017) gave some interesting statistics on the diminishing ministry. There are currently more pastors over the age of 65 than under the age of 40. In 1968 55% of pastors were under 45 years of age, and in 2017 only 22% are under 45. When Barna did his first study on this in 1992, only 6% of pastors were 65 or older but 25 years later 17% are over 65. Barna attributes the rising number of senior-aged pastors to longer life span, economic need, and to “second-career clergy,” i.e., men entering the ministry later in life, and also to the lack of younger men taking their place. In addition to these declining numbers, Brandon Crawford (Baptist Bulletin, Su ‘22) relates that 80% of college and seminary ministry graduates will quit within 10 years.

Kroll cited a number of statistics in his book concerning the “vanishing ministry.” In giving a history of the problem he quotes Higher Education in Transition, “While the majority of college graduates of the 17th century entered the ministry (as preachers or missionaries), this percentage dropped to 50% in 1750, 22% in 1801, and 6.5% in 1900. This trend continued throughout the 20th century. Among freshmen who entered college in the fall of 1980, for example, less than half of 1% indicated ‘clergy’ as their probable career occupation.”

What Can Seniors Do?

Most solutions for the reduction in ministers available to churches have to do with schools, finances, and mentoring young men. These are all important. We have a growing percentage of seniors in our churches as well, so some of the responsibility falls on us. 1) We can encourage our older pastors to remain longer or be more proactive in guiding the church through the transition period. 2) We can welcome the ministry offered to us by younger men in the church. Younger men might see the call of God on their lives if they had opportunity to minister in various ways within the church. 3) We can also rely more on ourselves for lay leadership from within the church, even in the area of pulpit supply, visitation, and teaching. The immediate future may demand that the older, godly saints do many of the things paid staff once did. 4) Finally, we can encourage our own children to encourage their children to listen for God’s call on their lives. This will take living as examples in ministry, believing that a life in ministry is greater than an upwardly mobile secular life, and praying specifically and diligently.

Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious; Give of thy wealth to speed them on their way; Pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious; And all thou spendest Jesus will repay.

 

GPS – Two Deadly Inheritances

GPS – Two Deadly Inheritances

by Rick Shrader

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One of the blessings of our lives is the inheritance we received from our parents. “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance” (Psa 16:6). “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov 13:22). Sometimes there are family heirlooms and other material treasures that we pass from generation to generation. Sometimes there is monetary inheritance left from parents or grandparents. The best kind of inheritance is a godly inheritance. “Our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from our children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and His strength and His wonderful works that He has done” (Psa 78:3-4). Every Christian parent and grandparent should store up such treasure to leave for the generations to come.

Sometimes the good things we leave behind can be used in wrong ways. Obviously riches or fame can spoil a child and even lead to ruin The lists of the kings of Israel and Judah are filled with fathers and sons (and sometimes mothers) who passed on the throne only to see it ruin the next son in line. Good king Hezekiah’s son was the evil Manasseh. Josiah’s son was the evil Jehoahaz. Samuel’s sons did not serve the Lord, nor all of David’s sons, nor Solomon’s.

One sad story is the son of David named Adonijah in 1 Kings chapter 1. As David was dying, Adonijah (from David’s wife Haggith) proclaimed himself the new king of Judah. We know, however, that Solomon (the son of Bathsheba) was David’s pick to be  king. Adonijah’s usurpation didn’t last long as David and Bathsheba quickly anointed Solomon the rightful king. Adonijah had to flee for his life and was eventually killed by Solomon for his rebellion.

I Kings 1:6, in a parenthesis, lists two characteristics about Adonijah, the son of David. “(And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, ‘why have you done so?’ He was also a very good-looking man. His mother had borne him after Absalom).” David succeeded and failed in raising his many children, but here is one in which he failed by giving him two deadly inheritances.

The first was a lack of discipline. David must have been an absentee father to many of his children. It’s obvious that he had too many wives and too many children and there was no way he could bring them all up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He did better with Solomon who would later write that to spare the rod is to spoil the child (Prov 13:24; 22:15; 29:15). Adonijah received no such instruction.

The second deadly inheritance was that he was a handsome man, and who wouldn’t like to be! Yet the Bible writer lists this as one of his downfalls. Many young people find popularity due to their good looks that eventually leads them to trouble. Did you notice that Adonijah’s brother was Absalom who also rebelled against David? 2 Sam 14:25 says, “Now in all Israel there was no one who was praised as much as Absalom for his good looks.”

Too many children love to have a lack of discipline coupled with beauty or good looks (neither of which are their fault). But to these two sons of David they were a deadly inheritance. A handsome son or a beautiful daughter needs special care to not let that lead to sin. Every child needs discipline and should not be left with absentee parents when it comes to godly training. Let them also say, “Yes, I have a good inheritance.”

Book Review

Post-Christian: a contemporary guide to thought and culture. By Gene Edward Veith, Jr.

I have been reading Gene Veith since the 1990s when I first found his book, Postmodern Times, a topic that was almost unheard-of. This 2020 book expresses the sad truth about our culture—that it is basically “post-Christian” and beyond. Though we still live in a country with a Christian heritage and are surrounded with many Christian symbols and traditions, the general life and actions of Americans (and often Christian Americans) is anything but Christian. Part 1 is on Reality, covering topics of science and technology. Part 2 is on The Body. In this section Veith deals with sexual sins and also with gender, transgender, and transhuman issues. Part 3 is on Society, dealing with education and politics. Part 4 is on Religion. The chapter titles and headings tell the story. Chapter 11: “Spiritual but Not Religious: the religion of the nones.” “Nones” means no religion at all. Chapter 12: “Religious but Not Spiritual.” New religions today are not spiritual at all. Chapter 13: “Post-Christian Christianity.” While secular institutions seek to be “religious,” religious institutions are seeking to be more secular. This is especially true, Veith contends, “when evangelical Christians seek to emulate the world as a technique for evangelism and for growing the church.” The Conclusion: “Toward the Postsecular.” There is a “global religious explosion” because secular people world-wide increasingly have their own “private spiritualities and religious worldviews of their own.” Veith is saying that “secularism” as a descriptive is fading away and is being replaced by anyone’s personal religion. He says, “This has given rise to a new term that is gaining currency among scholars in multiple fields. It is another post– word. Not postmodernism. Not post-Christian. But postsecular. What is emerging or is already upon us is a postsecular culture.” Later in the conclusion he writes, “We need to realize that a postsecular society may still be post-Christian. We may be seeing a reversion to the religiosity that is natural to fallen human beings, that is, to a new pagan order.” Veith’s example of today’s postsecularism is transgenderism. “Rather, it is the gnostic view of the soul, the creation-denying, body-repudiating heresy that teaches the ‘transmigration of souls,’ which is similar to Hindu reincarnation.”

Statistics

A new poll shows something that has been common for generations. It reminds us that our responsibility to our parents never ends but also that this responsibility is not easy. “Americans in their 40s are the most likely to be sandwiched between their children and an aging parent. More than half in this age group (54%) have a living parent age 65 or older and are either raising a child younger than 18 or have an adult child they helped financially in the past year. By comparison, 36% of those in their 50s, 27% of those in their 30s, and fewer than one-in-ten of those younger than 30 (6%) or 60 and older (7%) are in this situation.”  Pew Research Center, 4/8/22, “More than half of Americans in their 40s are ‘sandwiched’ between an aging parent and their own children.” Accessed 6/18/22

A second poll shows that the discipline of our children is changing from one generation to the next. “Parents employ many methods to discipline their children. The most popular is explaining why a child’s behavior is inappropriate: three-quarters say they do this often. About four-in-ten (43%) say they frequently take away privileges, such as time with friends or use of TV or other electronic devices, and a roughly equal share say they give a “timeout” (41% of parents with children younger than 6) as a form of discipline, while about one-in-five (22%) say they often resort to raising their voice or yelling.  Spanking is the least commonly used method of discipline – just 4% of parents say they do it often.” Pew Research Center. “Parenting in America.” Accessed 6/30/22.

And Finally, Something I Read

My wife and I took a day to go downtown and wander through some of the local shops. When we came out of the last shop, there was a policeman standing in front of the car writing a ticket for illegal parking. I immediately started to question the officer, and he started filling out another ticket. While he was writing  that ticket for harassing a law officer, my wife said she thought it was a stupid law. He flipped his book to another page and wrote out a third ticket. Just as he was attaching all three tickets to the car’s windshield, our bus came and we got on.

 

GPS – The Date Palm Tree

GPS – The Date Palm Tree

by Rick Shrader

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Thomas à Kempis wrote, “Vanity it is, to wish to live long, and to be careless to live well.” The Bible is full of illustrations about older age that encourage us in our later years. One of those is the Psalmist’s picture of the palm and cedar trees in Psalm 92:12-15.

12 The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing, 15 to declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

The palm trees are an interesting landmark in biblical history. We see them in the oases of Elim and Jericho, on the walls of Solomon’s and Ezekiel’s temples, and its leaves used in the feast of tabernacles and at the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The palm tree was actually a date palm that produced large clusters of dates each season. It was used, and is still used, throughout Israel for food, shade, material, fodder for camels, and even various drinks. The text describes seven unique features that the psalmist applies to older age.

It flourishes (12). The date palm lived from 150 to 200 years unlike the grass which comes and goes in a day (see vs. 7). In 2005, 2000-year-old date palm seeds were excavated at Masada and replanted. By 2007 one male seed had grown three feet tall. The scientist reported, “It’s a boy!” and named it Methuselah. Even Methuselah didn’t flourish for 2000 years.

It grows (12). Like the cedar, the date palm grows about 80 feet straight up and blossoms with huge arching leaves and clusters of dates. The psalmist must have been thinking of his forbears whose white hair is their crown and glory.

It is planted (13). “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord.” To grow and flourish in God’s house all of our lives is a blessing not only to ourselves but to all our posterity. The faithfulness of those years will be remembered by coming generations.

It flourishes (13). “In the courts of our God.” These trees provided shade in courtyards and also in the temple area. Their tap root was extremely long and deep and brought life and health to the house. “Our fathers have told us what deeds You did in days of old” (Psa. 44:1).

It bears fruit (14). “In old age.” Not only did these trees live 200 years, they bore large clusters of dates weighing hundreds of pounds every year until they died. The huge leaves that they shed were used for baskets, clothing, and other house-hold purposes. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Prov. 13:22).

It is fresh and flourishing (14). “Flourishing” could be translated “green.” The bark of the date palm tree was full of sap used to make wax, resin, oil, and sometimes a very potent drink. Even the camels could eat of the bark. Fibrous strips from the trunk were braided into rope and the huge leaves into baskets.

It declares the Lord (15). He is “upright” and “my rock” and there is “no unrighteousness in Him.” Just the physical presence of this stately tree reminded the psalmist and, no doubt, any who passed by in their caravans, of God’s glory.

The date palm tree is a beautiful biblical picture of the value of older age. “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness” (Prov. 16:31).

Book Review

Parenting Essentials, by Andreas & Margaret Köstenberger

I have recommended Köstenberger’s larger book, God, Marriage and Family already. He and his wife Margaret, together, have also written a few books on the family. If I had to recommend a smaller, more readable book to fathers and mothers, I would recommend this one. It is built around three “R”s, Realistic (for the parent, child, and world), Relational (relating to God and one another), and Responsible (for character, education, and mission). The authors are strong on the traditional family, discipline, Christian education—especially home schooling, and viewing the home as our most important mission field. Though a respected theologian, author, and seminary professor, Köstenberger is a very practical, down-to-earth father. He relates this story about leading his son to Christ. “He was barely four years old, and he and I were in worship. He told me he needed to leave (for a restroom break), so I went with him. While there, he took the opportunity to ask me a spiritual question. One thing led to another, and by the time we left the bathroom, I had led him to a saving knowledge of Christ!” I think that is a wonderful story that needs to be repeated often.

“GPS” Groups

In May we met for our second GPS meeting at our church. The subject this month was leading children to Christ. For grandparents, this is something that we have all been through and are now watching our children presenting the gospel to their children. We went over the basics (the “irreducible minimum”) of what it takes to understand the gospel. It was easy to relate some of the warnings and also the blessings of children coming to Christ at an early age. There is obviously an “age of accountability,” or a time when a child understands, is convicted of sin, and is ready and willing to receive Christ. This varies from child to child and from situation to situation. Children that have grown up in a Christian family and a good church, understand the gospel message quickly and early. Testimonies of children being saved was also a blessing during our meeting.

Statistics

Last month a report was published by the Cultural Research Center of Arizona Christian University. George Barna is the Director of Research. Their report was the American Worldview Inventory 2022. The first headline I saw about the report was titled, “Poll Shocker: You won’t believe how many pastors actually have a biblical worldview.” Following that up I found Barna’s own article. He writes, “A new nationwide survey among a representative sample of America’s Christian pastors shows that a large majority of those pastors do not possess a biblical worldview. In fact, just slightly more than a third (37%) have a biblical worldview and the majority—62%—possess a hybrid worldview known as Syncretism.” The report also listed associate pastors at only 28%, teaching pastors at 13%, youth pastors at 12%, and executive pastors at 4%. No doubt this study was done from a broad field, but at least it was done by evangelicals. This research can be found at ArizonaResearch.edu/culturalreseachcenter/research. Barna’s article at https://www.arizonachristian.edu/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/AWVI2022_Release05_Digital.pdf

Lessons on Prayer

As I grow older I realize the advantage of prayer in new ways. First because I have experienced answered prayer many times in my life. Second because I am acutely aware that I cannot do as many things as I used to do and I find myself going to God instead. Third because I have a greater trust now in God’s providence than in my wisdom. And fourth because I see eternity clearer and know that an eternal perspective on things is much more important than earthly priorities.

Somewhere C.S. Lewis said that God has given man the “dignity of causality” in two ways: we can do things and we can ask God to do things. Though the things we do are sometimes amazing, they cannot compare to what God can do. Unfortunately, however, we spend much more time doing things ourselves than asking God to do them. In addition I would add, when we do get around to asking God to do things, our requests are seldom aligned with His will (Jas. 4:1-3; 1 John 5:14). But, oh, what power there is in prayer properly made!

 

GPS – A Biblical Picture of Long Life

GPS – A Biblical Picture of Long Life

by Rick Shrader

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Someone said, “Life is hard and then you die.”  But what if you didn’t? What if life was easier and then you lived a long time? What if you lived forever? Well, that is what God created us to do!

In the Garden of Eden

Adam and Eve were made in God’s image as eternal beings who have souls. We are not animals nor angels. We were created to marry and produce children, to work and produce things (Gen 1:27-28), and also to live forever near the tree of life (Gen 2:9, 3:24). However, Adam and Eve sinned which brought death and an eventual end to their physical life on earth (Gen 2:17).

After the Garden

For the first time Adam and Eve looked at a corpse. Their son Abel lay lifeless on the ground. God’s promised penalty was taking place. But life also was continuing. Another son, Seth, is born in God’s likeness and image (Gen 5:3). And even though death continued to place an end on life, men lived almost a millennium (Adam, 930 years, Seth, 912, Methuselah, 969). The earth was still conducive to very long life.

After the Flood

The earth’s atmosphere changed after the flood and life was harder and shorter. Though Noah would live 950 years, his progeny would live shorter and shorter lives. Shem would live 500 years (Gen 11:11), Terah, Abraham’s father, 205 years (Gen 11:32). Noah sinned by becoming drunk, causing his son and grandson to see him uncovered, and sin began to shorten life through violence and immorality (see their children and their cities, Babel and Sodom, 10:6-20).

Under the Mosaic Law

Most of the Old Testament concerns Israel under the law of Moses. At the very beginning, under the shadow of Mt. Sinai, God gave the 5th commandment to honor one’s parents, “That your days may be long upon the land” (Exod 20:12). The Shema, in Deut 6:4-9, instructs fathers to teach their children, “That it might be well with you” (vs. 18). Obedience and long life were vitally connected in the Old Testament time.

The Church Age

Paul reminds us that obeying one’s parents is still God’s will and the 5th commandment still contains the “promise” of long life (Eph 6:1-3). Pastors are described as “elders” and grandparents as “aged men” and “aged women.” The church must care for widows over 60 years old. Fathers are those who should have “known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13, 14). Most importantly of all, the gospel contains the promise of “the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim 4:8).

The Kingdom Age

The millennial kingdom will contain those in physical bodies who live the entire time, 100 years old being considered a mere child (Isa 65:20). Many more will be there in resurrected bodies with amazing ability to navigate time and space. Israel will “possess their possessions” (Obed 17). Then we will all be transferred into the eternal state where all believers will be immortal. God’s purpose for human beings will be accomplished forever.

Want life to last forever? Regeneration brings inheritance “reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet 1:4).

 

Book Review

My Grandfather’s Son. By Clarence Thomas

This autobiography of Justice Clarence Thomas takes his life from birth (1948) to confirmation as Associate Supreme Court Judge.  Thomas grew up poor on the back side of the tracks in the little town of Pinpoint, GA, not far from Savannah.  It was a time of racism and difficulty for black families in the south.  Clarence Thomas hardly knew his father and was raised (and his brother Myers) by his mother.  However, when he was about 7 he and Myers were sent to live with his grandfather and grandmother.  He called his grandfather “Daddy” and his grandmother “Aunt Tina.”  The whole book is dedicated to how his “Daddy” raised him by discipline and hard work.  Judge Thomas originally wanted to be a Catholic Priest but ended up going to Yale law school.  He became personal and life-time friends with MO senator John Danforth when he was Attorney General of Missouri and gave Clarence his first law job in Jefferson City.  The  book is politically interesting because it is about a poor black boy rising above his circumstances, fighting racism in the government at various levels, becoming a conservative and Republican when he was expected to follow the PC route for rising blacks.  Two interests that Thomas had that I liked were his love for Corvettes and his love of reading Louis L’Armour.  I can identify at least with the second.

“GPS” Groups

This month we will hold the second GPS group meeting at our church. In our first meeting we took the time to introduce the concept. We are trying to do more than just a lunch and fellowship though those are fun things to do. We want to dig deeper into the problems seniors, especially grandparents, face in the present culture with their kids and grandkids. Some of those challenges are, unwanted divorce, children out of work and needing help, social pressure from the “woke” culture, grandchildren walking away from church, and difficult situations such as immorality, substance abuse, and civil disobedience. None of us are experts nor excellent counselors. We’re grandparents who care about our kids.

Statistics

Familiar with your family tree? There’s a good chance you’re not. More than half of Americans don’t know the names of all four of their grandparents.  A recent survey of 2,113 U.S. adults, including 1,911 from the top 10 Nielsen market areas and 202 from Salt Lake City, found that there is a massive knowledge gap when it comes to recent family history. Knowledge of past generations varied by city, as 66 percent of Boston residents could name all of their grandparents, compared to only 26 percent of those in Philadelphia. San Francisco residents weren’t much better at 34 percent, while people in Chicago and Dallas only slightly higher at 36 percent.  Study Finds, “Family tree stumped: Most Americans can’t name all 4 of their grandparents!” April 6, 2022.

Lessons on Prayer

One of the most difficult ingredients in prayer is consistency. How often has better prayer been a new year’s resolution that failed? We may start out strong but in a few days or weeks we seem to be skipping regular times and then they get dropped altogether. The apostle Paul doesn’t write a letter without addressing prayer. I don’t think anyone was as busy as he yet he stressed consistent prayer constantly. In his last letter addressed to Timothy, while in the dark prison, he wrote, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day” (2 Tim. 1:3). In the earliest book of the Bible, Job, being an industrious man, would rise early and offer sacrifices for his children every morning in case they had sinned. Verse 1:5 which describes those sacrifices and prayers says, “Thus Job did regularly.” We are never too busy for the things that matter to us most.

Greatest Need in the Church?

One missionary answered, “Godly Grandmothers, who have lived out the principles of the book, who have reared their families, who have known a measure of success, having faced the challenges and the disappointments and the failures, who provide necessary instruction to young women.” Wm. Barclay, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, 248.