Friday, October 31, 2014

A Privilege Once Granted Becomes a Right

God indulges His children occasionally. In fact, HE does so more often than we deserve. Feast days are special times when such indulgences are encouraged. “And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household” (Deut. 14:26-27). We also do this with birthdays, Christmas, and a variety of other holidays and celebrations. Special occasions should be special. They afford us privileges.

There is a danger, however, that comes with the privilege of indulgence: a privilege once granted easily becomes a “right” in the mind of the recipient. If that “right” is withheld it will not be gratitude for past gifts that is evoked but rather outrage. Professor BrenĂ© Brown observed that “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” This is why privileges should be handed out sparingly and irregularly when possible. You might grant the privilege to a younger child to stay up past their normal bedtime but if that happens about three times in one week I can assure you that in the mind of the child the later bedtime has now become his “right,” and if you try to rescind that “right” there will likely be some tears involved.  

When I headed off to college, over forty years ago, my parents had the wisdom to not send me a regular check in the mail. They did help out but they didn’t put me on a monthly payment plan. I knew better than to run to the mailbox on the first of the month looking for “my check.” An occasional check of irregular amounts (some a little disappointing and some very generous), were always welcomed gifts and never expected as entitlements. I carried this practice over to my own children’s college years and I think it serve me and them very well. Such privileges or gifts should be surprises that are met with thankfulness and appreciation.

This principle can and should be applied in many areas of our lives, especially when it comes to our children e.g., what they eat, what they spend, gifts given to them, curfews, bedtimes, cell phones, data plans, Facebook (and other social media), games, entertainment, time with friends, chores, and a thousand other areas of life. Gratitude is the central thing; gratitude to you and gratitude to God. When gratitude disappears then the thing is no longer a privilege; it has become an entitlement. The entitlement class will never know happiness.

We live in world full of people who think they are entitled to a whole bunch of things they haven’t earned and do not deserve. When we receive something we perceive we didn’t deserve, we’re grateful. When we don’t receive that which we think we are entitled to we’re mad at the one whose job we think it was to give it to us. Economist Thomas Sowell noted: “One of the consequences of such notions as ‘entitlements’ is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence.” 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Truth About Sex

As a follow-up to a lesson I taught at church last night I want to emphasize what I have previously said. As parents guard their children from the corruption of the many sinful sexual influences in the world, context is critical. Our sexuality is sinful and destructive only when it is used in a manner contrary to God’s word. As the Westminster Catechism succinctly states: “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.” The powerful gift of sexuality, like all other gifts from God is to be used first and foremost for the Glory of God. The secondary goals are subordinate to that ultimate purpose. The context for the goodness of sex is found in these areas:
Marriage: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed"(Gen. 2:24-25); “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4); “…If they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Cor. 7:9).

Procreation: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:27-28); “But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth” (Mal. 2:15).

Avoidance of Sin: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 4:3-8); “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2)

Pleasure: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. 19 As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love” (Pr. 5:15-19); (see also the entire book of the Song of Solomon).

As a Picture of Christ and His Church: “ For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (1 Cor. 5:30-32); “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:25-32).

As we teach our children to love God and love His standards this instruction must necessarily include teaching them to view their sexuality, as well as appropriate sexual acts, as part of their overall seeking of God’s glory. This context is critical if they are to see the truth, beauty and goodness of God’s creation of sex. Taken out of this context, the power for good is turned into the power to destroy.  We must never stop with only teaching or implying that what God called good is somehow bad in itself. It is the perversion of what God called good that is actually the bad thing. There is no greater legacy that parents can leave their children than the image of a husband and wife (their father and mother) loving each other to the glory of God. This is inescapably sexual in nature.


Marijuana

Marijuana should be decriminalized but that does not mean that its use cannot be a sin. The main point of smoking marijuana is for the effect; the intoxicating effect. While all sins are not crimes, nevertheless, more blurry drivers, pilots, parents and students inevitably lead to a whole range of serious problems, some of which are crimes; crimes that should be punished. -RB

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Part-Times Jobs

We're all born thinking the world exists to serve us; that’s the essence of immaturity.  Real work is often hard; it involves some level of self-denial, which is the essence of maturity.  Jobs, even part-time and menial jobs, force us to have to sacrifice some immediate gratification for something larger than the moment. I can’t always do what I want to do when I want to do it.  I bear some responsibility for my own existence.  There are many other ways that work benefits those in transition to adulthood, but there's a certain kind of pleasure than can only be had by having the discipline of a job. -RB

Monday, October 27, 2014

Christin's Quote Book

  • The great secret of a successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters. ―Harold Nicholson
  • When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not. ―Mark Twain
  • Middle age is the period when a woman’s hair starts changing from gray to black. ―anonymous
  • The evolutionists seem to know everything about the missing link except the fact that it is missing. ―G. K. Chesterton
  • Two can live as cheaply as one―for half as long. ―anonymous

Friday, October 24, 2014

Happy Endings

Rescue, reconciliation, redemption, restoration and resurrection make me happy every time; they are the happy endings I want for every story. -RB

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Domestic Violence

Violence, especially the domestic variety, flows from what the Bible rightly calls a “wicked heart.” It is the arrogation and abuse of power for selfish ends and is the very picture of insecurity and immaturity. What starts in the heart comes out of the mouth (Proverbs 10:6, 11). Physical violence begins with violent words―threats of violence―and words are a form of behavior that must be taken seriously. The gospel can conquer wicked hearts, but until it does we must protect the innocent from the wicked. -RB

Bullying

Bullying is a cheap substitute for genuine authority. Real authority comes by acknowledging accountability to others, while the bully is reduced to self-authorization. Therefore, the bully’s harsh tyranny of the weak becomes his only way to bolster this fragile pretension. -RB

Monday, October 20, 2014

Christin's Quote Book

  • Ordinarily he is insane, but he has lucid moments when he is only stupid. ―Heinrich Heine
  • Man is certainly stark mad. He cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by the dozen. ―Michel de Montaigne
  • Man, an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing. ―Christopher Morley
  • Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them. ―Samuel Butler
  • The only time a woman really succeeds in changing a man is when he is a baby. ―Natalie Wood

Monday, October 13, 2014

Christin's Quote Book

  • The first forty years of life give us the text, the next thirty the commentary. ―Authur Schopenhauer
  • He gave her a look you could have poured on a waffle. ―Ring Lardner
  • Love is an ocean of emotions surrounded by expenses. ―Lord Dewar
  • Life is just one foolish thing after another, and love is just two foolish things after each other. ―anonymous
  • When in love try not to say foolish things; if you succeed, you are not in love. ―anonymous