The Temple

Should we tell the kids?

To tell or not to tell, this is a common problem many parents with shady personal  histories face.  Should we tell the kids about our past drug usage?  How about a relational indiscretion?  What part of our past must we reveal to our children?

This is not as difficult as it may seem at first glance.  Here are the parenting principles to guide you through this question.

It is none of their business…

First, the behavior you demand from your children has no reference to how you behaved as a child/teen.  Many people have told me something similar to this:  “Our kids have a right to know, I don’t want them to find out from someone else.”  My response is:  “it is none of their business.”  Parenting is not about defending my past, it is about establishing a healthy context for growth in the present, with good results for the future.  My children don’t have an inherent right to know every detail about my past.

Parenting is about breaking bad habits and patterns that reside in the family dna and establishing the healthy values  that characterize our family now.  What I did in high school is irrelevant to the values I want to instill in my family now that I have grown up.  My behavior cannot be used as a license for my children’s desire to act out.  If you allow residual guilt over indiscretions in life to rule your present parenting posture, you will equivocate in your communication to your kids.

My father smoked and drank before I was born.  He came to faith in Christ when I was young and he changed many patterns of behavior.  I did not need to know the information, it was not my “right” and it had no impact on whether it was ok for me to smoke or drink.   I found out these details about my father as an adult, and it didn’t traumatize me, nor should it have traumatized me.

You are in charge…

The underlying problem that lurks here is the notion that the children are in charge, or that they have a right to make these egregious and stupid choices for themselves.  Now when it comes to “being in charge” the best approach is to exhibit a healthy and positive lifestyle that is attractive to emulate.  I don’t mean enforcing values that you do not hold yourself.

It is good for parents to be in control.

First, of their own life and values.  Living a positive and strong lifestyle becomes the key to parenting, and passing on values to your children.  So be in control of your life, that is the fruit of the Spirit the Bible describes as self-control.  If your past contained indiscretion, join the human race.  Whose hasn’t?  Don’t allow your children to use the stupid manipulation that claims a right to your prior misbehaviors as license for their own.  Instead turn it around on them.  Say something like:  “we obviously recognize that such and such behavior is unattractive/stupid/destructive and we don’t all have to suffer through it.

So many parenting challenges come from the reversal of authority.  It is really the same problem described in Genesis 3, the authority structure gets rearranged.  When we usurp God’s rightful authority, things get all messed up.  When the authority structure in parenting gets rearranged, things get all messed up.  Being in control in parenting means leading to godliness:  first by example then by instruction.  It is imparted with confidence, and there is no concession to manipulation.

This bears repeating.  It amazes me that people allow their children to think that they have a right to “experience” vices for themselves.  I have never taken drugs nor have I ever been drunk.  I haven’t missed anything, and I didn’t need to “experience” drug abuse or drunkenness to see it’s downside.  It does not have to be a part of my children’s experience.  In the same way my children don’t need to experience violence to know it is bad, they don’t need to experience other vices, even if I did.  We wouldn’t say:  “my kid needs to be beat up a few times so he can learn that violence hurts.”

So should you tell your kids about your past?  Maybe, maybe not.  Use your head and don’t let your past control your confidence in parenting.

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March 10, 2009 Posted by | Christian Living, Culture - Values, Parenting | , | 5 Comments

Ash Wednesday and Lent

I am not a holiday fan.

I know, grinch-ish.  Nonetheless, they tend to move people in the opposite direction of their intention.  Valentine’s day causes men to believe that the only day they need to buy flowers for their wife is Feb. 14.

“What more do you want from me?”

Burial of the Sardine

So Ash Wednesday and Lent birth Mardi Gras and the false asceticism of lent practices.  Mardi Gras brings out the worst in human behavior, all before we have to get better for lent.  Then we purge for forty days prior to Holy celebrations of Easter only to revert back to “normal” after it is all over.

This is not healthy Christianity.

Here are some of the things we are “giving up” for lent (from Twitter):

Facebook
Texting
Beef
Caffeine
Ben & Jerry’s
Despair
Fast food
Peanut butter
Negative Thinking
Extraneous spending
Alcohol

So the assumption behind the “giving up” for lent is that when it is over we can revert to unhealthy, petty, insignificant, destructive behaviors and restore a “normal” life.  Holidays should not discourage us from maturity, but spur us on to “holi”ness.  So don’t give up a thing for lent. Instead, add a good habit that will begin in the forty days and stick beyond Easter, and because of Easter, which is a celebration of life.  Lent , like all holidays, should be a time of exaggerated living, that is, people trying to increase good behavior.  Give more, pray more, love more, help more, make an extra effort at positive holiness.

We demean the celebration by highlighting our negative behavior, appeasing  our conscience by refraining from them for a season when they should not be a part of our life or an issue at all.  Giving up texting is an unnecessary and trivial exercise.  Texting?  We use these issues as excuses to ignore  the root of the matter.  Instead of giving up texting, do what you are supposed to do when you are texting.  If you are feeling guilty about texting, is it because it is keeping you from…working???  So get to work.  You should probably give up fast food forever, it will kill you early.  Why give it up for lent?  Why not regard your body with the respect it deserves as a precious gift from God and care for it, all year.  Are you seriously going to go back to “negative thinking” after Easter?  Stop using holidays as an excuse for mediocre living.

The Battle between Carnival and Lent

"The Battle between Carnival and Lent"

Maybe I am overreacting, but I for one find this cyclical pattern harmful to my overall progress in Christ.  Make this Holy Season a time to celebrate Christ in a superior fashion.

Christian growth is attempted in one of two ways:  The first attempts the giving up of certain practices.  “Stop doing that!” is the mantra of this camp.

The second, and superior way, attempts to add healthy and positive behaviors to life, and like bermuda grass, the strength and tenacity of health chokes out unhealthy and destructive behavior.

The first way only has limited success and results in legalism and arrogance.  The second way is rewarding and helps us to get to the goal: Christlikeness.

Ash Wednesday, Lent, Easter, Christmas should reflect ongoing values and behaviors, affirming and celebrating the upward journey.  Fix your eyes on Jesus.

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Culture - Values | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible

Penn Jillette has a lot to say about religion, he is an atheist, but here is a provocative video where he tells of someone who gave him a Bible. He says some interesting things that Christians should remember when talking to unbelievers:

  • He was complimentary
  • He said nice stuff
  • He gave me…
  • He looked me in the eye
  • He made it personal (Penn says: “He said I wrote in the front of it, wanted you to have it)
  • He was not defensive
  • He was truly complimentary, kind, nice, sane, looked me in the eye
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Here are some other things he said about the encounter and evangelism (proselytizing):

  • It was really wonderful
  • I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize
  • How much do you have to hate people to not proselytize, if you really believe heaven and hell is at stake?
  • He cared enough about me to talk to me

Not all atheists and unbelievers are interested in being evangelized, but everyone is interested when you care about them. Evangelism must be driven by unadulterated love for the person you are speaking to. It is not a debate or an argument, it is an expression of care and concern.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Penn Says: A Gift of a Bible“, posted with vodpod

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Atheism, Christian Living, Christianity, Philosophy, Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

All I Want for Christmas is Water

Here is a worthy paradigm shift for Christmas, check out these two websites.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Culture - Values | , , , , | 1 Comment

Westmont vs. Azusa Pacific Soccer Match

Westmont College is my alma mater.  I met my wife Kelly there.  My oldest son Timothy graduated in 2007.  My sons Levi (Junior) and Caleb (Freshman) attend presently and my youngest (Joseph) has always wanted to attend and will probably attend.  So it was with anguish and a heightened sense of anxiety that I watched the college burn last Thursday night.  I watched my son’s dorm as it was on fire.  We are still waiting to find out the status of his room and whether his belongings are intact.  We have had some of the displaced Westmont students in our home the last few days.

In the middle of all of the tragedy, the Westmont men’s soccer team was scheduled to play the Golden State Athletic Conference championship game against Azusa Pacific University (APU) on Saturday. APU graciously agreed to postpone the game.  And Monday was a soccer day for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching Westmont win, I will leave the cliche’s and hyperbole for the articles listed below.  I simply love to see Westmont beat APU, and especially under these circumstances.  Read about the wonderful relationship between the coaches (they are brothers), the good sportsmanship displayed by APU, and the hospitality and camaraderie that comes from both competition and common faith.  Really heartwarming.

Read a great story before the game on Azusa’s Website about the rivalry and friendship among the teams.  The website PresidioSports.com ran this story about the game.  Bill Plaschke of the LA Times wrote this really good story as well.

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Culture - Values, Sports | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Proposition 8 & The Church

I do not intend this post to be an endorsement for or against Proposition 8 rather to raise some issues as to how the church involves itself in issues like the one surrounding Proposition 8.

The Proposition

Proposition 8 is an initiative on the 2008 California General Election Ballot.  If passed it would force an amendment to the California Constitution to include the statement “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

“Prop. 8 is About Preserving Marriage; It’s Not an Attack on the Gay Lifestyle. Proposition 8 doesn’t take away any rights or benefits from gays or lesbians in domestic partnerships.  Under California law, “domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections and benefits” as married spouses. (Family Code §297.5.) There are no exceptions. Proposition 8 will not change this.” (This is from “Protect Marriage – Yes on 8” Campaign)

The Position

There is a great deal of heat surrounding the proposition and the Constitutional amendment.  I just watched a half hour video mailed to the church free of charge from AFA (You can watch the video at American Family Association) calling on churches to inform their congregations to register and to vote for Proposition 8.  The video was full of clips from homosexual “marriages” performed in courthouses soon after the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 22 (passed in 2000 by California voters) was unconstitutional and opened the door for gay marriage in California.  It also made it clear that it was the duty of every pastor to get the word out to their congregations to register to vote and to vote yes on Proposition 8.

The Problem

The problems raised by the amendment and the PR campaign are numerous and regardless of your position, conversation on the process is a must. Political rhetoric has its own rules and agendas. When the church gets pulled into the “silly season” Continue reading

September 23, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Culture - Values, Ethics, Politics, Politics and Religion, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 55 Comments

Signage Evangelism


This sign has remarkably been up on a “prime” corner in my town for at least two months.  I am not sure I totally understand the message.

We have a sense of urgency:  LAST CALL!

That is a catchy opening.  I am sure that most people reading were given the appropriate sense of urgency that drove them to consider the remaining message.

R U REDY?

Here we have that “hip” texting abbreviation.  Saves space and maybe some printing costs???  Double check that spelling, or another attempt at hip?

Then there is the critical closing:  WHO IS JESUS TO U?

Can anyone tell me the purpose of these kinds of attempts at evangelism?  I just don’t understand.  Even more, I find them offensive.  It is belittling to the gospel to trivialize the method we use  to proclaim the gospel.  Here we have the most critical message of history next to “Yard Sale this weekend”.  This is really a step down from my other favorite gospel medium:  bumper stickers.

So now we attach verses and fish to advertisements in the yellow pages and on telephone poles.  Here the call is to Christians, please, no unbelievers need respond.  Only Christians would be worthy to rent a room, and we wouldn’t want our evangelism to extend beyond signage.  Living with unbelievers is a threat to our holiness, so please don’t apply – just read our signs.

All of this was made famous by a guy named Rollen Stewart who used to hold up signs that simply read John 3:16 at sporting events while dressed like a clown with multi-colored hair.

This is not evangelism.  This is self-serving self promotion.  You know people like this, they just want to be on stage and would use anything to achieve that place, even the pretense of preaching the gospel.

When we do this we place the message of the cross next to “Go Chargers”, equating our allegiance to Christ with an allegiance to a sports team.  Could there be any quicker way to trivialize the gospel?

This methodology has also crept into our churches who are turning to gimmicks to draw crowds and subsequently to entertain the crowds once they are attracted.

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity, Culture - Values | , , | 5 Comments

The Holy Spirit is an Enchilada

PhotobucketThat makes me laugh…uneasily.

So I am trying to finish my sermon this Friday afternoon and forgot to close my office door when a woman knocks at our outer door.  She is let in by a faithful staffer who fields her questions about hiring someone trustworthy to do odd jobs at her home.  She is elderly, but competent.  She normally does her own work, but is getting tired, not lazy, and wants to hire someone.  She has money, the Lord provides, and she wants to pay by the hour…not by the job.

It is an interesting phenomenon that occurs regularly at the church.  But that is not what “got” me today.  As she was wrapping up her very loud interaction, our staff person asked her where she went to church.  She responded that she went to church in a neighboring town where a couple pastored, and proceeded to say she would come to our church but she and her church were “spirit-filled” and she would be bored here, since we didn’t indulge in tongues, etc.  Our staff person responded with “we are filled with the Spirit as well…”

“Yeah, but I want the whole enchilada…”

PhotobucketThat’s when it hit me.  The Holy Spirit is an Enchilada.

How could I have missed it?  So I am planning on Mexican food for dinner, so I can get the whole Enchilada. Could it be that simple?  You bet.  I wonder if her church serves Enchiladas every Sunday?

Enchilada is the past participle of Spanish “enchilar”, “to add chili pepper to”, so that certainly fits the functioning of the Holy Spirit – chili pepper would be the equivalent to power. We could all use some power of the chili pepper. The Real Academia Española defines the word enchilada, as used in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, as a rolled maize tortilla stuffed with meat and covered with a tomato and chile sauce.Photobucket
“Enchilada.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 12 Sep 2008, 09:03 UTC. 12 Sep 2008 .

So Enchiladas are stuffed…meaning they have many different fillings…a variety of fillings so to speak, but the same Enchilada…

You can learn so much if you are just open and willing to listen and not be so narrow minded.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Christianity, Church, Silly Stuff | , , , , | 5 Comments

Hearts Trained in Greed

Hearts trained in greed…some phrases you can’t get out of your head. Our men’s Bible Study is in 2 Peter and this phrase is used in chapter 2 verse 14 to describe false teachers. But there may not be a more apt phrase that would sum up and characterize American Chrisitianity’s biggest problem. Our hearts have been trained in greed.

Most statistics with regard to American consumption (as with many other statistics) would show very little difference between Christians and non-Christians. We are no different from anyone else in the USA when it comes to amassing stuff, consuming and throwing away massive amounts of…everything. Mostly we dismiss this sort of criticism of our lifestyle as irrelevant seeing that it is liberal political and social groups throwing the “criticism” our way. We uncritically join in the consumer mentality, not because it is a Biblical value, rather it is our preferred way of living.

Hearts trained in greed…

Let’s just look at our personal water usage compared to how much water is available to others around the world:

I took a 10 minute hot shower this morning. Let’s say I use 2 gallons per minute, I used 20 gallons of water to take a shower. Now I feel that a hot shower is a necessity, not an option nor a luxury. But in fact, it is a luxury and that luxury is not shared by many people in the world. But if my water heater goes out, replacing the water heater becomes the most important task in my day. Not having water mind you, having hot water.

(Fill out this questionairre by the US Geological Survey to figure your daily water consumption, mine was 59.36 gallons per day. That is personal usage, not what I use to water the lawn etc.)

1.1 billion people (18% of the world’s population) lack access to safe drinking water and almost 2 million children die each year due to a lack of clean water and inadequate sanitation.

Now maybe your answer to that is the pat American response: “I’ll just put my waste water in an envelope and send it to Africa.”…if it is you should be ashamed of yourself.

The phrase in 2 Peter is convicting. We have more, use more, waste more than any other nation in the world, and still have the gall to talk about suffering and complain about our circumstances. The reason we do this is that we have had our hearts trained in greed. The word greed is defined as “the state of desiring to have more than one’s due, greediness, insatiableness, avarice, covetousness” (BDAG Greek Lexicon). “Desiring to have more than one’s due…” Wow, if that doesn’t define us I don’t know what does. Maybe Christians should worry more about our own personal greed than other people’s sexual sins???  I would bet that proportionally sermons in our American churches mentioned homosexuality 1.000% more than they did greed this past Sunday when proportionately the reverse was more represented in the pews.

I am working on evaluating my addiction to greediness in just about every area of my life.

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Culture - Values, Devotional, The Environment, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

James Woodard

Read the story at NPR.org (you can listen as well) of James Woodard who spent 27 years in prison for a murder of which he has now been exonerated.  The amazing part of his story is his attitude about the years he spent in prison:

Woodard doesn’t know how a cell phone works and has no inkling of Macintosh versus PC. He’s neither bitter nor angry, and he will not agree that those years in prison were for naught.

“Time is what you make of it,” he says. “You’re living no matter where you are. I think I came out pretty good. I think I won. I think I’m a winner.”

He went into prison in 1981, the same year I graduated from college and I think he has a better attitude about the last 27 years than I do.  Something for the rest of us to think about.

May 5, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Culture - Values | 5 Comments