With a Little Help from My Friends

Father and sonNote: Next week I will be returning to part 2 of the Terrors of Hell.

A couple weeks ago Jen and I were discussing the topic of our children and having friends.  Since we started home-schooling a couple years ago the girls don’t spend much time with peer group friends and we were deciding whether this was good, bad or indifferent to our children.

Our daughter Madeline has a friend her age that attends our church and since we are not a big gathering there are not a lot of other similar ages for all our girls.  This is such an interesting topic to me and I’m feeling pretty firm in my convictions but I’m genuinely interested in what other Believers think about the topic.  So please don’t be shy about offering your opinion.  However, I’d like you to use Scripture to support your views.

Proverbs 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.

As I’ve been thinking about this verse and any others that deal with our relationships one thing is very clear to me and I think very clear in scripture.  There are two classes of people, wise and foolish.  What do you want your children to be?  Isn’t it obvious that if you want your children to be wise they should spend time with those that are wise?  The opposite is destruction.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

Most people will agree they want their children to run with “good company” and they don’t really consider their children’s friends “evil”.  A better question to ask is “are they saved”?

Can you be confident they’ve been born again and are new creations in Christ?  This is a whole other blog, about how you can discern salvation in children.  But for now let’s consider, not just that kids attend church, but are they Believers?

I thought back to my child hood and most especially as I came into my teenage years and young adult years.  The choice of friends I made was, except for the grace of God, my undoing.  God had providentially made arrangements to keep me alive, but it certainly could have been different on many occasions.  I say this and I’m ashamed of those choices and the things that a foolish young man was drawn into, but it’s the reality of my life and I praise God for His goodness and mercy in preserving me for His purposes.

Have you ever walked down the street to see a group of teenage boys together, or walk through a shopping mall and see the behavior of the kids “hanging out”?  It’s not what I desire for my children, but take it to a religious place.  How about the youth group at most evangelical churches, and you will see the same thing only under the guise of the “Christian” banner.  Am I wrong?

We have been blessed that our oldest daughter Grace has been saved and she can see the value of her relationships.  She enjoys spending time with some of the women in our church that are helping shape and mold her into a godly woman, these women are older than Grace but they are still young women.  Not with the desire to go to the mall and be foolish.

How do you suppose the fools will be destroyed?  Does this literally mean death and destruction?  Well yes, I think it can and it does.

2 Kings 2:23-24 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead!  Go up, you baldhead!”  So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD.   And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

Here is a group of adolescent kids that are running around together.  Can’t you envision this scene?   We see it all the time, and once one decides to do something they all join in.  So they decide to mock and taunt Elisha, God’s chosen prophet.  These kids were drawn into the foolish behavior that offered destruction.

What about the group of teenagers that attend a party together?  They end up getting drunk and someone or all of them die in a car crash.   Is God to blame for this behavior?

Will this happen to my children if I allow them to be with other friends?  I don’t know.  Possibly and probably not, but think about the values that are shared when fools hang with fools.

Does this mean we will never allow our children to have friends their own age and go do things with them?  No, I don’t think that is what I’m saying, but I want to make close examinations of those children and what I allow my children to participate in.

I’m the one charged to bring them up in the training and fear of the Lord, so I must take Scripture and challenge my life and be willing to have it change the status quo.  God has given me a tremendous responsibility; and He will hold me accountable.  I can easily allow this to go with the flow and just believe that it’s a good thing for my children to have lots of foolish friends with no biblically validated reason for it.

Will this hurt them socially?  That is the argument I expect to hear the most often, but that doesn’t persuade me.  I will trust God that He has that covered, and I will train my children to interact with adults and other children responsibly and respectfully.  After all isn’t that part of the job?

If you are a Believer what do you think?  Because I expect if you ask most people they’ll think this is crazy talk.

Kevin

Lions, Twitter and bears… “oh my”

twitterI recently had an interesting Twitter interaction.  When I made a comment on someone’s Twitter feed I knew I was setting myself up for this sort of reply.  I’ve decided that when I interact with someone in a format as this I will speak to them as if they were sitting in front of me.  I’ve not always interacting with people this way, and I say that to my shame.  It seems civil discourse has mostly become uncivil discourse.

The one thing that struck me about the interaction was this man seemed to operate under some sort of rules of engagement.  He didn’t like what I was saying, but he was never nasty about it.  He was critical of my worldview, he blasphemed God, but he wasn’t as ugly as some people I’ve encountered in the social network world.  Now let me first say I’m not pinning a merit badge on this man, because as I just said he’s a blasphemer of God, and will be held accountable for every idle word he speaks, even though he doesn’t believe that (Matthew 12:36).

Let’s start where it all began.

2 Kings 2:23-25 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up from the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead!  Go up, you baldhead!”  So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD, and two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.  Then he went from there to Mount Caramel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

This is an interesting passage, and one that my friend used to show me that God is unrighteous.  It’s a desire that most people have to justify themselves, and say “I won’t worship that God”.  What happens is that mankind sets himself up as his own god so he can make his own rules.  This man has a sense of right and wrong, there’s no doubt about that, but he decides what’s right and what’s wrong.

If we don’t have an ultimate source of truth, we have complete chaos.  Like we see in government, the rules are always changing; the bar is ever shifting to the left or to the right.  We all do this don’t we?  We all have our view of what is right and wrong and when it doesn’t match up with God’s view we will justify our position, adjust it a little bit to suit our own needs.

So what about these bears mauling these “innocent” youths?  What about God destroying all of mankind in a worldwide flood, or God allowing Satan to kill all 10 of Job’s children, what about Ananias and Saphira struck down dead because they lied to God?  Is there unrighteousness with God?  Some certainly believe that is the case.

Humans are so morally corrupt and our thinking is insidious (Jeremiah 17:9) because we have no concept of the righteousness of God.  He is the creator, and He is the maker, and without Him you don’t even have life, but yet in our arrogant pride we shake our fist at Him and curse Him to His name.  I was once told by a man that he would fight with God if he stood before Him in judgment.  How many people think they will fight with God or explain how “good” they’ve been?  I wonder if for a trial run this man would jump into a lion’s cage at the zoo, and fight against the lion first.  That might give him some indication how he will stand against God.

Man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, (Romans 1:18) and because he does this it opens him up even more to all kinds of justifiable depravity.  He will do anything and everything he can to say why the Bible is flawed and then they want you to chase them down a rat hole trying to explain why it’s not.

They put God on the judgment seat and say “prove to me why I should worship this God!”  God has spoken to Believers through His word, and He sent His Son to live the perfect life we couldn’t live so some would be saved.  He died a brutal death, bore the wrath of God so God’s wrath would be satisfied, this wrath that He is perfectly just in pouring out on anyone at anytime of His choosing.  This is a hard truth to swallow.

Psalm 4:4-6 For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You.  The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity.  You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

So what do we do with verses like 2 Kings 2:23-25?

We should fall to our faces and fear the One True Living and Holy God.  We should desire to seek out and understand at a much deeper level why God does what He does.  If we don’t understand things do we somehow think that makes God unjust?  Maybe we are the ones to blame, not God?  Maybe it’s our lack of knowledge that causes us to perish (Hosea 4:6).

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 

The fool here is not someone that wears a goofy hat and dances around, he’s a fool in his heart because he denies God (Psalm 14:1) and makes himself his own god, and the most loving thing I can tell him is that he needs to repent and turn from his sin and live.

When our fear of a God that can take our life and send our soul to hell (Matthew 10:28) turns to a fear of awe and wonder of who He is, then we can be saved.  If you don’t understand what it means to fear God then I encourage you to examine your life.   See if you are indeed in the faith.

God’s word will slice you open to see the nastiness of yourself before Him.  Like a leper dressed in a beautiful outfit, it doesn’t take long for the puss to ooze through the fine silk, and become stained and vile.  Without Christ this is how you appear to the perfect God who made you.

My friend seems to have some understanding or at least some reading of God’s word, and I hope he’ll begin reading it with a desire to know the truth, not just his truth, but God’s truth.  The gospel is the power to salvation (Romans 1:16) and there is salvation in no other name but Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).  We have an empty tomb and a risen Lord that proves it (1 Corinthians 15:1-19).

Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the LORD God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live.  Turn, turn from your evil ways!  For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

Trying to defend the bible is as useless as trying to defend a lion – you turn him loose and let him defend himself – Charles Spurgeon

Kevin