Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's In It for Me?

"What's in it for me?"  He thinks to himself.  "Why would I want to doubt my faith?  I can't think of any logical reason.

"I love meeting up with my Christian friends every Sunday and Wednesday.  We have such a great fellowship, discussing the wonderful nuances of God's word and teasing each other about our favorite sports teams.

"We've got a great set of pastors too.  Sure, sometimes the sermons are as exciting as bran flakes, or as common and worn as my sneakers, but other times, it's just, it's just remarkable how great I feel after a good sermon.  Like everything is right in the world, you know?  Despite all of the problems, everything is right in the world, because God is in control, and He is working it all for His good.

"My wife, my sweet wife Charlotte, she is the epitome of Christian womanhood; dare I say the epitome of God's design for women.  In step with the Song of Solomon, she keeps herself beautiful and a healthy weight to keep my eye drawn to her.  And she is submissive to my will in love and respect to me.  Don't get me wrong, she is not afraid to share her opinion when we are discussing our family's plans, but she always gives me the final word.  Our relationship works so well that way.

"My parents raised me up in solid Christian principles, thank God!  Thank God for them!  You know, they are still together after 47 years of marriage, thanks be to God!  They do sleep in separate beds though.  My father had, well, a regrettable moment of weakness, like we all do at times.  We're only human, and not yet perfected.  He had an inappropriate relationship with a woman from work.  When he could no longer contain his building guilt, it spilled out and my father confessed in shame to my mom.  They stayed together, because that's what Christians do.  What God has joined, let no man (or woman) tear asunder.  You stay together, and you make it work.

"Like my parents raised me, so I am raising my own two children; walking hand in hand with God.  My son, Matthew, my oldest at six years old, he is really starting to thrive in the church's youth program, and he loves Upwards soccer.  Upwards and I are working for a common goal to strengthen Matthew's faith in Christ.  My daughter, Ruth, well, I am just so proud of her!  At only four years old, she is praying to God with such genuine spirit!  She's well beyond repeating 'Now I lay me down to sleep,' now instead asking God to care for orphans and the homeless we see in town.  What a special little girl I have been blessed with!

"So what's in it for me?  Why should I doubt?  Why should I lay aside the motivation I get from a good sermon?  Why should I insult my parents and break the fellowship of my closest friends?  Why should I unequally yoke with my adoring wife?  Why should I tell my kids that this is all make believe, and that I have been lying to them, albeit unintentionally, since they were born?

"For what?  For the 'truth?'  What will it profit me to lose my whole world in exchange for knowing this 'truth?'  And an empty truth at that.  No life after death.  No God to make everything right.  No hope for heaven.  No reward for being good or punishment for those who do wrong?  All of that, and I have to expend considerable effort to get to this 'truth?'

"Yeah, no thank you.  I have the truth.  God's word is the truth, and my life if based on that truth.  My life isn't a lie.  It can't be.  I've come too far in it to not know whether or not it is true.  It is true, I know it.

"And the truth is I have got about 30 minutes to get the kids cleaned and presentable and to the church, so I've got to get moving."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Edify the Spirit

Been busy, busy, busy!  Life happens, blogging suffers.  ;-)

Anyway, I was listening to the Christian radio in California one day and a gentleman came on for a brief monologue about schooling.  He was oh-so-briefly covering the options; public, private, home-school, tutors, etc.  In the end, he was happy that he had decided to home-school his children, enlisting the help of some tutors.  Personally I think home-schooling can be done right, so I don't hold a generic prejudice against it, and in turn I could not judge this man for that decision or for encouraging others to do so.  Had he left it at that, it would have been no harm, no foul.  But he didn't.

This guy's closing comment of the commentary was:
"Remember, it is better to edify the spirit than to educate the mind."  
Now that I do have a prejudice against.  The trouble is that what he said is the logical conclusion of the Christian faith, and other faiths as well.  With eternity at stake, is it more important to teach your children Algebra and Biology or to develop an enduring love for God/Jesus within them?  And so, at their offspring's and our nation's peril, ill-equipped children are released into the world cloaked in a stupor of religion.  Is that really "good?"

Personally, I don't see why this is an either/or proposition.  If your faith is real, wouldn't you want to both edify the spirits and educate the minds of your children, so that when they come into the real world they can defend themselves and their beliefs rationally?  I wouldn't accept an either/or choice.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Girl Gets It

"OK, this time nobody knows which is the good ball and which is the bad one," my niece, Suzy, said with an impish little smile.  Barely standing tall enough, she moved the billiard balls into position across the green felt, with a few renegade strands of straw blond hair curled around her slender arms.  We were playing a game which she was making up, and clearly she was as delighted to be spending quality time alone with her uncle as I was with her.  Personal quality is a rare luxury when there are three other siblings competing for it.

"Nobody knows, except God,"  she added with that same impish smile, only slightly wider.  I was not surprised to hear that.  She was, after all, my older sister's kid; home-schooled and cocooned a Christian world to the extent that her mother could insulate her without becoming recluse.

"OK," I said, and took aim at one of the two billiard balls with my pool cue, my mind wondering how this is going to turn out.

Crack!  Balls scattered, nodding to physics.

"OK, so did I hit the good ball or the bad ball?" I eagerly asked.

"Let me check," said Suzy.  She tilted her face towards heaven, and started mouthing words without sound, as if having a private conversation with God about the balls.

"God said you hit the good one!" she exclaims.

I couldn't help but slip into the profundity of the situation for a moment.  Here she was, holding an imaginary conversation with God, which, in a way, is what so many adults do.  And the process; look up to heaven, mouth words, get a reply, was as though something which she had been trained in or had observed adults around her performing.  Yet at the same time, she handled it as if it was all make believe, as if she knew it was all an hoax, like the way you may joke about running off a cliff and holding still for a few seconds before gravity takes over like in cartoons.

She handled it the way I would had handled it if I was "talking to God" for show.  That was the most interesting part, because it was like she knew that talking to God did not work, or at least did not work that way, like a conversation.  She gets it.  I just hope she keeps it, but chances are not good under my sister's tutelage.

Of course, how you leave your childhood home is not necessarily how you live your entire life.  I still have hope.