Archives For July 2011

Who Are You Walking With?

Lisa Cherry —  July 13, 2011

Image courtesy of Daniela Corno

By Lisa Cherry

Years ago I was taught a very important bible verse as it relates to raising my children.  I took my mentors to heart when they taught me:

Proverbs 13:20  He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

I could immediately picture a group of six year olds, all sitting together at a school lunch table sharing their "wisdom" of silly knock-knock jokes and arguing over who is the best weird noise maker.

Right then I decided to be quite discreet about who my children spent the bulk of their time with.  I valued the mentorship of a loving daddy or grandparent over the shallow bantering of my kids' peer groups.  Role models.  Solid believers.  Mature examples.  Each would form the core of my children's world.  Why?  Because God's word is always true.  Walking with the wise would make my children wise.

But as I read that verse again today, a new question formed in my mind.  It is great that you have recognized the power of this verse's principle for your children.  But what about YOU, Lisa?  Does this verse have an age limit?  Are you walking with the wise that you may grow wise?

I do not know about you, but I yearn for growth in Godly wisdom.  With each passing year, I am thrilled with how much the Lord changes me.  But I figure there must be so much more that I cannot even yet dream of!  That's why I look to those who have traveled the road ahead of me... and walked the path I desire to traverse!

Not every companion I encounter on my journey will lead me in wisdom.  I need the Holy Spirit's discernment and wisdom even as an "old mom!"

Lord, I yearn for more of your wisdom to flow through my life.  My family needs me to lead them and serve them.  I freely admit that this job is too hard for me.  Will you send me wise companions and mentors who can point me in the way of Your Life?  Teach me to be discerning, Lord, and  to choose my friends wisely.  And help me, God, to maintain a gentle and quiet spirit so I may gain a heart of wisdom.  Thank you.  Amen

Wisdom Wednesday posts are inspired by a verse from the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the posting date.

Image courtesy of Ehsan Namavar

By Beth Groh

That’s the question posed last week when considering how we view a sweet little newborn baby.

As heartless as it sounds, the Bible tells us “sinful” is correct. Thanks to Original Sin, man has carried around that sinful nature like a sack of rocks.

Why is that question important?  Our answer reveals our worldview. And our worldview dictates our outlook, interpretations and expectations for everything from our faith…to our family even our system of government.

Last week, we looked at the “Big Picture” issues surrounding the sinful-versus-innocent question.

Today, we’re going to focus on the implications for our nation…and how exploring this issue reveals a lot about the very foundational structure of our Constitution.

Our Founders seemed to know intuitively that man is indeed sinful and would thus govern in a corrupt manner. Thanks to King George III, they knew firsthand that power vested in a monarchy could easily lead to tyranny. They also knew that power left solely in the hands of a 51% majority could also become a ruthless ruling mob.

That’s why they carefully crafted a republic that diffused power from a large—and potentially overreaching—national government. Instead, they vested power closer to the hands of common folks through state and local governments.

“In questions of power then,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."

Translation?  Man is full of “mischief,” or sin. So the Constitution was meant to be a “restraining order” on a government run by sinful man. It established so-called “negative liberties” intended to prevent the government from gaining too much control.

In short, the Founders believed God gave men rights—they’re not given by the government. Government is a guard of those rights, not the giver.

In his first Inaugural Address in 1801, Jefferson explains that limited role: “[A] wise and frugal government...shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."

Now let’s look at the contrasting worldview—typically, that held by those who could see a baby as innocent, not sinful.

The very innocent-nature of a child stems from a belief (or at least, hope) that man has a shot at once again reaching that state of perfection. That’s a humanist worldview, because power—and wisdom—ultimately lies in the hands of man.

In that worldview, it’s very reasonable to strive for an ideal system of government since man can progress (or evolve) into a higher state over time. Many liberal politicians in our country call themselves Progressives, because fundamentally they believe that an evolving/Progressive government should provide our basic needs and create a safety net for citizens from cradle to grave.

The Constitution—much like the Bible—is therefore considered an evolving document, always subject to man’s interpretation as his knowledge and world expands.

Progressivism only works, though, if citizens are dependent upon the government—through social programs, entitlements and regulations that govern everyday lives at work, home and school.

And the more dependent people are on the government, the less dependent they may feel on God. (Contrast that with Phil. 4:19: “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”)

How’s that working, from a spiritual standpoint (leaving the financial implications aside)?

Just look at Europe… and Canada…  Since the socialist safety nets have grown in those Progressive-minded governments, has the influence of the church grown? Or sharply declined? Certainly church attendance has plummeted, but more importantly the influence of Christian faith has dwindled.

Is that happening in America?  You be the judge. And think about that the next time you look at a precious baby. As you weigh “innocent-or-sinful?” consider the implications that answer has on how we view our faith, raise our children and even govern our lives.

By Beth Groh

Ohhhhhh… they’re so cute… so precious… so innocent…

Who hasn’t looked at a baby and sensed an aura of innocence around that gorgeous little gift from God?

But, oh, there’s a dark side to those little bundles of joy (and not the kind you might be picturing about the time of the next diaper change).

God’s Word says each one of us—yes, even those tiny beauties—are born steeped in sin.

“I know that nothing good lives in me,” admits the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:18, “that is, in my sinful nature.” (NIV)

Paul eloquently lays out this dilemma for man, particularly in Romans chapters 5 through 7.

Yes, God created his original man—Adam—perfect and without sin.

But God’s gift of freewill left man (and woman!) vulnerable to Satan’s tempting schemes…and mankind has paid the price ever since. (Thanks be to God, though, He sent His Son to pay that penalty for us…so there’s always hope in that story!)

But let’s get back to that sweet baby…

Innocent??  Or Sinful??

How we answer matters. It’s perhaps one of the most defining aspects of our worldview (the lens through which we see and react to the world and people around us.)

If we answer SINFUL

In faith, we realize we are utterly lost without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus—we’re so steeped in sin that we would have no escape except through Him. We also realize that, considering our fallen state, Truth comes from God, not our own corrupt minds or hearts.

In family, we look at our children, and other loved ones, with full knowledge they can, and will, disappoint at times and fight their own battles against sin and foolishness.

In politics, we’re more suspicious of any system of government created and run by sinful man. Our tendencies are to be more dependent on the Lord—not the government—to meet our needs.

In short, if we answer SINFUL, then we tend to operate in a biblical worldview.

After all, we can’t see a sinful creature with human eyes when we look at a newborn. That realization comes by the Holy Spirit’s revelation through God’s Word.

So what if we answer INNOCENT?

In faith, Original Sin is seen as a myth. Man’s corruption is a result of his surroundings, his upbringing or the failure of people around him. Ultimately, man still has that innate ability to recapture his innocent state if he learns enough, tries hard enough. That’s why “faith” is considered something learned or achieved from within—not an external gift.

In family, life is an ongoing quest to create those ideal relationships, often seeking advice from “self help” books or experts…perhaps even seeing the Bible as offering valid suggestions. That’s because there’s an inherent faith in the perfectibility of man.

In politics, hope springs eternal that man can eventually “get it right” by creating a perfect (Utopian) system that meets the needs of all people. Government can actually help man be restored to an ideal life if government provides cradle-to-grave services and safeguards.

In short, if we answer INNOCENT, then we tend to operate in a humanist worldview.

Let’s keep those distinctions in mind … and ask the Lord in the next week to show us how our worldview is (or perhaps is not) shaped by His Word. We will take those lessons next week and apply them as we look both at our nation’s founding, and future.

Our thanks to Answers in Genesis for giving us permission to use this After Eden cartoon.