Moses was preparing a new generation of families to enter the Promised Land. The previous generation had spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness because they refused to trust God to lead them in. Now he wants to make certain this new generation doesn’t jettison the commandments God had given them and the faith relationship God wanted them to have with Himself. How are they to accomplish that “so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live….” Here is the strategy God gave them: “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). In other words, the only way the next generation can grasp the significance of our faith is to see it, hear it, taste it and smell it daily in the lives of their parents. This is more than just a commitment to “be there” to preside over their growth years. This constitutes a definite strategy to produce godly people as genuinely Christian role models for the next generation.
Since the time of Adam and eve we have pointed a finger in the wrong direction when it came time to explain the reasons for human failure. Groups, agencies or movements are not the reasons our kids are acting like wild animals. The home is where they see their first role models and where they receive their earliest directions for living. It is refreshing to hear the increasing number of voices, even from social and political liberals, who have come to agree with the much-maligned assessment of some that children were intended to have two parents and that we should quit accepting as normal any departure from that. But that is only the beginning of the process. Our God wants to see both of those parents unselfconsciously living out their faith in full view of their children, as if it were the most important thing in their lives (which it is).
At CCF we have no political agenda to follow and no pressure groups to please. We have only the clear teaching from the Word of God to guide us. And that clear teaching is this: God has entrusted into our care and guidance His precious little ones. It is up to us as parents to accept joyfully this task of training them to follow His direction. We must take seriously our ministry to the next generation. It is one of the reasons we exist as a family of believers.
One of the most misused and misunderstood words in our society
today is the word “church.” Even my abbreviated Webster’s Dictionary lists seven definitions ranging from a building to a denomination. But when Jesus used the term, He meant something by it that is simply not in the language or the definitions of today. As He first used it in the New Testament it comes to us in the Greek and literally means the “called out ones.” He meant to say by its use that there would be a people, wholly unlike any other, who would be bound together in an enterprise so dynamic that nothing would alter its purpose. That is why He told the Apostle Peter: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” He certainly did not have in mind a building or even a denomination when He said that.
In view of that, I am sure He must cringe when He hears us talk about “going to church,” as if it is something we can not only “go to” but “come back from.” With such confusion we often miss what He had in mind. We who have committed ourselves to the One who died for us are ”the church.” We are not individuals who happen to be dues-paying members of a religious club. We are sons and daughters in the Lord’s family and integral parts of a “body” of which He is the Head. There is not only the hint of great privilege here but of great power and influence. “The church” was never meant to be a part of our lives like the PTA or the YMCA. It was meant to be a force in our lives, empowered by God, which would forever change everything we touch. In our stereotypical thinking we not only separate church from state but church from business, from education, from politics, from almost everything except what we happen do with our Sunday mornings. But what Jesus did to establish His church would forever make it mpossible to compartmentalize our lives in such a way. He who has called us out of darkness and into His light, who has transferred us from our lost condition nto His eternal Salvation, will not allow us to remain on such shallow ground. He calls us to recognize who we really are: victors, conquerors, overcomers in this life. We should be proud of our present situation and our promised inheritance and begin to view everything in life from such an exalted position. No wonder so many in the persecuted churches of Asia and Africa would rather be jailed or put to death than to give up what they have in Christ. They know who they really are. Would to God we all knew what they know!
Two men were talking. The first said, “Know what? My cousin was so worried about some problems coming up in his life that he went to a local psychic and she told him what he could expect. And some of her predictions came true. Now he goes to her all the time.” Sound familiar? That conversation could have taken place last week around the water cooler. But the truth is it took place more than 3,000 years ago in the Middle East. lt was the openness of His people to these kinds of practices that caused the Lord God to say through Moses, “Do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations….Let no one be found among you who… practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
Isn’t it interesting that none of those ancient practices He mentions has ever really disappeared? Whenever the Person and Word of God is honored by any people these practices disappear back into the woodwork. But whenever people forget about God these practices immediately begin to fill the void left by His absence. There is a reason for that. These practices are a channel of communication that bypass the Lord and focus on “other sources” (which the Bible informs as are “demonic forces”). We happen to be living in one of those periods where people around us are no longer interested in what God has communicated to us, but still they have a fascination with “other spirits.” Make no mistake about it, we are not alone in this world. These “demonic forces” don’t just go away because we happen not to believe in their existence. They want nothing more than to be approached by the curious who have grown tired of God’s Truth. For this reason God wants His people to understand that these quaint and curious practices are not harmless little party games, but are, in fact, the doorway to things that are devoted to our destruction.
Our loving Father has called us to be separate from the pagan thinking that dominates our culture. This is not just our responsibility, but our opportunity. For as our nation gets darker, our light in Christ shines brighter. Let it shine, and never be ashamed that you follow the One who has called you out of the darkness into His brilliant light.
We have seen the consequences all too often: 1.5 million abortions each year, “drive-by” shootings occurring in every major city, and the “suicide option” trail that has been blazed by the late
Jack Kevorkian and his many friends. From the beginning of life all the way through to a convenient and planned exit we are witnessing a drastic change in the ways in which we perceive life. If it is true, as we have often been taught, that “ideas have consequences,” what are the ideas that have produced these sorry consequences? The answer isn’t difficult to figure out: “life is cheap,” accompanied by “life is an accident,” also followed by “life is without purpose.” To those of us who grew up in homes and institutions of faith it seems incredible that such ideas could have become so accepted by so many in such a short time. But this change hasn’t occurred overnight. It proceeded step by step following our rejection of the biggest idea of all: “Life is the gift of a loving God.” Once we turn our back on the "God factor” everything begins to fall apart. That is the testimony of Scripture from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. We cannot ignore God and escape the natural and unwelcome consequences that must follow. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a society that has never read Genesis, Revelation or anything in between. But God’s people should have, and if our nation is to escape the awful fate of Old Testament Israel, then we must be active and not passive in seeking to avert the final consequences which must surely come upon our culture of
Let me suggest some things each of us needs to do:
1. Pray for your country. Don’t just complain about the way things are going. Pray for your leaders (both Democrats and Republicans).
2. Support leaders who recognize that the real issues before us are spiritual, moral and ethical. Don’t fall for the old lie that a person’s private life and values have nothing to do with his qualifications for leadership.
3. Commit your personal private life and values to God. Let your Christian faith determine what you say and do in public. Become vulnerable in your open witness for God and trust that He will honor your openness. Remember, He has done it many, many times to many, many people before you came along.
In short, it is time to replace the popular ideas with some older ides that have been tried and tested. Only then will we notice some different consequences.
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship