Monday, April 9, 2018

How to Teach Your Kids About the Ten Commandments -- Part 2

The following is part of a project that I'm working on to help parents disciple their kids.  I'm taking each question from the Home Discipleship Catechism and writing a short lesson that parents can read to their kids.  The bold text is the question; the underlined portion is the answer from the catechism, followed by the explanation.  At the bottom you will also find Questions for Discussion and verses For Further Study.  I hope to post a new lesson every Monday.  You can download the Home Discipleship Catechism for free HERE.

Question 7:  What are the last six of the Ten Commandments?

Honor your father and your mother.  Do not murder.  Do not commit adultery.  Do not steal.  Do not give false testimony.  Do not covet.

The Ten Commandments can be divided into two tables:  1-4, and 5-10.  The first table teaches us how to love God, and the second table teaches us how to love one another. 

The fifth commandment tells us to honor our parents.  To honor is to treat someone like they are very valuable and important.  And that is true of our parents.  Our parents take care of us, love us unconditionally, and teach us the Bible.  How do we honor our parents?  First, by obeying their commands.  Proper obedience is immediate and respectful – do it right away with a good attitude.  Second, we honor our parents by speaking respectfully to them, and about them.  We must always respond to our parents with “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am”; we must never raise our voices at our parents; we must never say anything mean to them; and we must never say anything hurtful about them.  Third, we honor our parents by seeking their blessing when we look for a spouse.  And finally, we honor our parents by taking care of them in their old age. 

The sixth commandment prohibits murder.  There are times when killing is allowed.  Soldiers may kill in war; the police may kill as they fight crime; and anyone may kill in self-defense.  To murder is to intentionally kill a human being without just cause.  Since God is the giver of life, only He has the right to take a life.  Every human being is created in the image of God and is infinitely valuable to God.  Therefore, we must not only avoid murder, we must also avoid injuring people and hating people, because these can lead to murder.

The seventh commandment prohibits adultery.  To commit adultery is to have sexual relations outside of marriage.  This includes extramarital sex, as well as pre-marital sex.  God created sex only for the context of marriage between one man and one woman.  We keep this command by striving for sexual purity in every way – with our actions, our thoughts, and our eyes.  To avoid adultery we must strive to be fully pleasing to our marriage partner so that they are in no way tempted to go astray.

The eight commandment prohibits stealing.  To steal is to take what does not belong to you.  There is no excuse for stealing.  It does not matter that the other person has more than enough; it does not matter that they won’t miss it; it does not matter how badly we need it.  We must do what is right and trust God to meet our needs.  To fully keep this command we must not merely avoid stealing, but also be respectful of the property of others, and be generous to those who do not have enough.

The ninth commandment prohibits false testimony.  False testimony includes any kind of lying, dishonesty, and deceitfulness.  God always tells the truth, and He created us to reflect His image by being truth-tellers.  It is never okay to tell a lie.  Tell the truth and trust God with the consequences. 

The tenth commandment prohibits coveting.  To covet is to desire what someone else has.  It is to be dissatisfied with what God has given you.  It is to rely on things for happiness rather than God.  Instead, we must always be thankful and content with what God has given us, realizing that happiness comes from knowing God and not from gaining the things of this world.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the difference between the first table and the second table in the Ten Commandments?
  2. How can we honor our parents?
  3. What does it mean to avoid murder?
  4. What does it mean to avoid adultery?
  5. What does it mean to avoid stealing?
  6. What does it mean to avoid false testimony?
  7. What does it mean to avoid coveting?

For Further Study:

  1. Exodus 20:12-17
  2. Colossians 3:20-21
  3. Hebrews 13:4
  4. Genesis 9:6
  5. Exodus 20:23-24
  6. Ephesians 4:28
  7. Ephesians 4:25
  8. 1 Timothy 6:6-10

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Marriage is Supposed to be a Picture of the Gospel

Ephesians 5 tells us that God created marriage not just for human flourishing, but for the glory of God.  Marriage is intended to display the beauty of the gospel.  There's a story from the Wycliffe Missionary Organization that illustrates this. 

A young man became a Christian and was growing in Christ.  He was told by the tribal leaders to marry a 14-year old girl.  The Bible told him to love his wife as Christ loves the church, so he married her, loved her, nurtured her, led her to Christ, discipled her, and showed her affection.  The young woman was so affected and transformed by his love that the rest of the tribe converted to Christianity. 

Marriage can be a powerful illustration, a visible sermon of the love of Christ for the church, and the submission of the church to Christ.
So how's your marriage?  Does your marriage display the glory of the gospel and make people thirsty for Christ?  Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.  Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord. 


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Marriage Should Deepen Over the Years

The modern view of marriage is that dating is great, the honeymoon is great, engagement is great, but marriage is a drag.  In fact, this is why so many are choosing to cohabitate rather than tie the knot.  They have seen so many miserable marriages that they assume there is something wrong with the institution of marriage itself. 

There's a song from the late 60s that goes something like this:  "We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout, and we've been talking about Jackson ever since."  The idea is that their relationship was at its best before they got married, not after.  That's the feeling of so many these days.

I heard about tombstone that read, "To my darling Walter, may he rest in peace until we meet again."  Poor Walter!  Apparently his marriage was so bad that he had to die to get relief!  This is the view of the world.  Marriage makes life miserable until one of you dies. 

But the truth is that marriage is supposed to be like wine, not milk.  It is supposed to get better with age.  How can you make sure this happens to your marriage?

First, keep growing in Christ.  Christ-like character is the oil of relationships.  Without oil, the engine will break down; but with the oil Christ-like character, your relationship will run smooth.  The more you grow in Christ, the better your relationship will become.  If you never stop growing in Christ, then your marriage will never stop getting better. 

Second, keep learning about marriage.  I've counseled married couples who are struggling, only to find out that they have never cracked a book about marriage.  People go to school to learn how to be successful in their careers, but they assume they can be successful in marriage without any training.  Study what the Bible says about marriage.  Watch videos about marriage.  And read the best books about marriage.  As long as you keep learning about marriage, your marriage will keep getting better.

If your marriage is not working, it is not because there is something wrong with marriage, it is because there is something wrong with you.  Improving your marriage is not so much about working on your marriage as it is about working on yourself.  If you keep getting better, your marriage will keep getting better.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

32 Reasons America is a Christian Nation

In April 2009, President Obama said to a reporter, “We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."  Earlier, in June 2007, then Senator Obama wrote in an email, “Whatever we once were, we’re no longer just a Christian nation.  We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, and a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers.”

Is America a Christian nation?  Well, it depends on what you mean.  Do you have to be a Christian to live in America or to serve in politics?  No.  The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the federal government from forcing people to practice a religion -- including Christianity.  As well, Article VI of the Constitution states that "no religious tests shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

However, America is a Christian nation in other ways.  First of all, the vast majority of American citizens identify as Christians.  Just in terms of population, America is a Christian nation. 

Second, America is a Christian nation in the sense that it was founded upon ideas and principles that come from the Bible.  Now this is where it gets controversial, but only because many are ignorant of our nation's history.  The following is a short list of examples showing that our nation was indeed founded upon Christian principles.

32 Reasons America Is a Christian Nation
  1. The first act of the First Continental Congress in 1774 in Philadelphia was to request a session of prayer.  The prayer was led by an Episcopalian pastor named Reverend Duche.  As he read from the Book of Common Prayer, several of the Founders knelt in prayer, including George Washington, Patrick Henry, Edmund Randolph, John Rutledge, John Jay, and Richard Lee.
  2. The Declaration of Independence mentions God four times.  When Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he mentioned God only twice. Before the Congress would sign it, they insisted on two additional references to God: 
    1. The Author of nature and nature's laws; 
    2. The Creator who endowed in us our rights; 
    3. The Judge to whom we appeal in witness that our motives spring not out of seditiousness, but from a dear love of liberty, and a deep sense of our own proper dignity; 
    4. And a trust in Divine Providence. ("Faith and the American Founding: Illustrating Religion's Influence," by Michael Novak.)
  3. On December 11, 1776, the Continental Congress put out a proclamation that every American state set aside a day of prayer and fasting.  "December 11, 1776: Resolved that it be recommended to all the United States as soon as possible to appoint a day of solemn fasting and humiliation to implore the Almighty God to forgiveness of the many sins prevailing among all ranks and to beg the countenance and the assistance of his Providence in the prosecution of the present just and necessary war."

  4. In 1776, Patrick Henry wrote, "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."
  5. In his Farewell Address, George Washington said, "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.  In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labor to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness – these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens."
  6. James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution of the United States, said this: "We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it.  We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments."
  7. President Thomas Jefferson was on his way to church on a Sunday morning when a friend asked him where he was going. Jefferson replied, "To Church Sir. No nation has ever yet existed or been governed without religion. Nor can be. The Christian religion is the best religion that has ever been given to man and I as chief Magistrate of this nation am bound to give it the sanction of my example. Good morning Sir."
  8. Thomas Jefferson wrote on  the front of his well-worn Bible; ‘I am a Christian, that is to say a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.  I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our Creator and, I hope, to the pure doctrine of Jesus also.’
  9. In a letter to Daniel Webster, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Bible will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.”
  10. John Adams, our second president, who also served as chairman of the American Bible Society, in an address to military leaders said, ‘We have no government armed with the power capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and true religion.  Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.’
  11. In 1782, the United States Congress voted this resolution: "The congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools."
  12. In 1787, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Northwest Ordinance, which chartered a government for the territory, provided a method for admitting new states to the union from the territory, and established a bill of rights for the territory, including the freedom of religion.  The Ordinance said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
  13. The first freedom protected in the Constitution is the free exercise of religion. 
  14. John Jay, the first chief justice of the Supreme Court said, “God has given us the privilege in this Christian nation of choosing our leaders.”  
  15. John Jay also advised that Americans should vote for Christians to be their leaders. "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian Nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers."
  16. "God" or "the Divine" is referenced in every state constitution at least once, and nearly 200 times in all.  
  17. Our national motto is “In God We Trust."  
  18. The pledge of allegiance says that we are “one nation under God.”  
  19. When the president takes the oath of office he places his left hand on the Bible and ends the oath with a prayer, “So help me God.”  
  20. Congress begins every session with prayer.  
  21. The Supreme Court begins every session with the prayer, “God save the United States and this honorable court.”  
  22. In 1800, Congress voted to allow the Capitol building to be used as a church building.  One of those who voted in favor of this was the president of the Senate, Vice President Thomas Jefferson.  In fact, Jefferson attended church at the Capitol building while he was Vice President, not even allowing bad weather to prevent him from doing so.  Church services continued to be held in the Capitol Building until after the Civil War.   
  23. William Holmes McGuffey is the author of the McGuffey Reader, which was used for over 100 years in our public schools with over 125 million copies sold until it was stopped in 1963.  President Lincoln called it the "Schoolmaster of the Nation."  McGuffey wrote, "The Christian religion is the religion of our country.  From it are derived our notions on character of God, on the great moral Governor of the universe.  On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.  From no source has the author drawn more conspicuously than from the sacred Scriptures.  From all these extracts from the Bible I make no apology."
  24. David Brewer, Supreme Court Justice from 1837-1910 said, “We constantly speak of this republic as a Christian nation – in fact, as the leading Christian nation of the world.”  He went on to say that America was “of all the nations in the world… most justly called a Christian nation.”  
  25. President Theodore Roosevelt said, "The nation should be ruled by the Ten Commandments."  
  26. In 1952 the Supreme Court declared, “We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being….  When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities, it follows the best of our traditions."  
  27. Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, founded in 1636.  In the original Harvard Student Handbook, the first rule was that applying students must know Latin and Greek in order to study the scriptures.  "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life (John 17:3); and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.  And seeing the Lord only giveth wisdom, let everyone seriously set himself by prayer in secret to seek it of him (Proverbs 2:31)." For over 100 years, more than 50% of all Harvard graduates were pastors.
  28. President Andrew Jackson said the Bible was "the rock on which our republic rests."
  29. President Woodrow Wilson said of the Bible, "I ask every man and woman in this audience that from this day on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great Book."
  30. Calvin Coolidge, our 30th President of the United States wrote, "The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country."
  31. Addressing the Republican National Convention in 1984, President Ronald Reagan said, “America needs God more than God needs America.  If we ever forget that we are 'one nation under God', then we will be a nation gone under.”
  32. President Reagan also said, "Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged."
America is great because it is good, and it is good because it was founded upon Christian principles.  Whether you are a Christian or not, we should all agree that it is wise to hold on to the traditions, principles, ideas, morals, and beliefs that have made this country so great.

Monday, March 26, 2018

How to Teach Your Kids About The Ten Commandments -- Part 1.

The following is part of a project that I'm working on to help parents disciple their kids.  I'm taking each question from the Home Discipleship Catechism and writing a short lesson that parents can read to their kids.  The bold text is the question; the underlined portion is the answer from the catechism, followed by the explanation.  At the bottom you will also find Questions for Discussion and verses For Further Study.  I hope to post a new lesson every Monday.  You can download the Home Discipleship Catechism for free HERE.

Question 6:  What are the first four of the Ten Commandments?

Do not have other gods besides Me.  Do not make an idol for yourself.  Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God.  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

The giving of the Ten Commandments is an amazing story.  Three months after delivering the Israelites out of their slavery to Pharaoh the Israelites came to Mount Sinai.  When God descended on the top of the mountain, there was thunder and lightning, the mountain was covered in smoke because the Lord descended on it in fire, and there was the sound of a very loud trumpet that caused the people to shudder.  The mountain shook violently.  As the people stood at the base of the mountain, Moses and Aaron climbed to the top.  Then God gave them the Ten Commandments.  He spoke so that all the people could hear, and He wrote the commandments on two stone tablets with His own finger.

God gave us the Ten Commandments for three reasons.  First, to show us the best way to live.  The Ten Commandments are a summary of all of God’s commands in Scripture.  They teach us how to love God, how to love one another, and how to live life to the fullest.  Second, the Ten Commandments restrain sin in society.  A nation cannot survive unless people are responsible for themselves and respectful of one another.  The Ten Commandments both instruct society in how to live and warn that there is a God who will hold us accountable for our actions.  Third, the Ten Commandments show us our sin and need for a Savior.  Christ came into the world to save sinners, but if you don’t know that you are sinful, then you will not see your need for a Savior and reach out for salvation through Jesus Christ.

The Ten Commandments can be divided into two tables – 1-4, and 5-10.  Commandments 1-4 teach us how to love God, and commandments 5-10 teach us how to love one another.  The first commandment, “Do not have other gods besides me,” teaches us that there is only one God, and we must only worship Him.  We must not allow anything or anyone to take God’s place – first and center – in our hearts.  We must love God with our entire being.  The second commandment, “Do not make an idol for yourself,” teaches us that we must not use created images and statues of God and Jesus in our worship.  As well, we must not worship our own ideas of what we want God to be like; rather we must worship God has He has revealed Himself in Scripture.  The third commandment, “Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God,” teaches us to honor God’s name.  Only use God’s name with the utmost respect, and do not commit sin in the name of God.  The fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” is the only one of the Ten Commandments that is no longer binding upon Christians today.  The Jews were forbidden to do any work on the Sabbath (Saturday), and instead to spend the day in rest and worship.  But the New Testament releases us from the Sabbath law (see Col 2:16-17).  However, when God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, He was revealing the wisest way to live.  Every week we need to take one day off for rest.  At the same time, we were not made for constant rest and leisure; we must work hard and be productive.  As well, although we don’t have to worship on Saturdays, Christians are still commanded to meet regularly with other believers in the church for worship.  Weekly rest and worship are essential to be happy and healthy, both physically and spiritually.

Questions For Discussion:

  1. When, where, and how were the Ten Commandments given?
  2. Why did God give us the Ten Commandments?
  3. What is the meaning of the first commandment?
  4. What is the meaning of the second commandment?
  5. What is the meaning of the third commandment?
  6. What is the meaning of the fourth commandment?
  7. Why don’t we keep the Sabbath anymore?

For Further Study:

  1. Exodus 20:1-11
  2. Deuteronomy 5:6-15
  3. Romans 14:5-6
  4. Colossians 2:16-17
  5. Hebrews 10:25

Friday, March 16, 2018

What Do You Say To A Guy Who Comes To Pick Up Your Daughter?

I have four daughters whom I love dearly, and one day they are going to enter the dating years.  How can I protect them?  I like this advice from Tommy Nelson.  He provides an example of what to say when a young man comes to pick up your daughter for a date.
"Come in and have a seat.  If you asked me for my car keys from seven to midnight, would I give them to you?  No.  My car is expensive and I can’t afford to have it torn up.  Do you know what’s infinitely more valuable to me than my car?  My daughter.  How do you think I feel about someone I don’t know asking me to take out my daughter.  Now I’ve got to let her go, but she’s the most precious thing in the world to me.  Now tell me about yourself and God.  Who’s telling you No?"

Thursday, March 15, 2018

How to Prepare Your Kids For Marriage

Tommy Nelson said, "There’s only one thing worse than being single and wishing you were married, and that’s being married and wishing you were single."

Parents, you must get serious about preparing your child for marriage.  That day is coming sooner than you think, and sooner than you'd like.  Even if your child is still in single-digits, the day they walk the aisle is just right around the corner.

How can you help your kids prepare for marriage?  You must teach your kids how to tell if they are ready for marriage.  There's a difference between wanting to get married, and being ready for marriage.

There are two things that your child needs to have in place before they are ready for dating and marriage -- two marriage prerequisites.

First, your child needs to have moral purity as a single.  Sexual temptation does not subside with marriage.  It only gets harder.  If your child is struggling with sexual sin as a single, then they will struggle to be sexually faithful in marriage.

Second, your child needs to be happy as a single.  If you are not happy as a single, you will not be happily married.  Marriage does not make a miserable person happy; it makes a happy person happier.

Starting as early as possible, teach these two marriage prerequisites to your kids, and help them to develop them in their lives.