Choices, Choices, Choices

Have you ever studied the kings in the Old Testament? It’s been awhile, but one lesson I learned studying them over time continues to resonate in the very depths of my soul. There were some kings who lived their whole lives honoring God, but then at the end, they caved into sin.

I ponder on that often. One would think living a life honoring God would give one strength to finish the race in the same stride. But the choices in our past do not over rule our choices for today.

A dear friend of mine has stood by her husband through some very treacherous years. He made a few bad choices years ago that had tsunami affects not just in his life, but hers, their son’s, their families, and their friends as well, for many, many years. The price for his sin was high. They have all paid that price. But she has stuck with him, stood by him, honored God with her choices, honored God with their son. And today, they get to begin a new life!

There were a few times she privately inquired about divorce, and I was flat-out honest with her. She heeded my advice and stood by him because he was making a real and sincere effort with accountability. My heart soars tonight for my friend and her family!

Another friend of mine, however, is making some seriously bad choices right now. She has lived many years honoring God, making some hard choices that many people don’t even know exist, raising her children alone. All of those years, though, are going to be blown to pieces when her choices hit the fan. What is conceived must give birth, and it will not be pretty when it does. And my heart is very heavy; very heavy. She is blinded and cannot see the width and breadth of the consequences of her sin. Yes, sin is sin in the eyes of God, but the consequences of sin are not equal.

I understand how those kings led long lives honoring God only to fail in their old age. Life wears you down, sometimes; weakens you. You grow weary of always doing the right thing. And you relax. But the consequences of sin are not equal, and they stretch far beyond the one who commits the sin. It is not wrong to be weary. It is not wrong for thoughts to enter your mind. What one does when weary, and what one does with those thoughts, becomes either right or wrong.

When my time on this earth comes to an end, whenever that may be, may He find me faithful … and my kids and my husband and my future generations, too.

As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. II Timothy 4:6-8

Secular Parenting with a Christian Veneer

Reading SBTS President Al Mohler’s review of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, I found myself also impressed–and saddened–at the same time. Amy Chua is not unlike other Chinese I know–one of whom (MP) is a former boss of mine. MP and I had our differences, but we all admired her work ethic. We loved her personally, even if she rubbed us the wrong way at times. I had a tennis teammate in high school–HP–who, over one summer, went from being a doubles player to being the top singles player on the team. He was also a straight-A student. (I did, however, beat him consistently in wrestling. Yay for me.)

The Chinese families I know here are very high achievers, and very hard workers. Christian and secular alike, there is a lot to be learned from them.

As for Mohler’s commentary, he was obviously correct, but–in my estimation–he missed a very big issue: while he was right about Chua, there are “Christian” parents who are as secular and materialistic as Chua.

Oh, they may not be as hardcore as Chua–although some are–but they are every bit as secular in their academic aspirations for their children and their understanding of what constitutes “success”. How many Christian parents would encourage a child who expresses the desire to be a missionary in a dangerous area like Libya, Afghanistan, or Detroit? How many Christian parents would encourage a child who expresses the desire to be a bivocational minister in a rural locale? How many Christian parents would approve their daughter eschewing the legal profession in favor of being a full-time SAHM homeschooler?

One of the things that made me sick at Southern Seminary was the folks who sneered about Mohler’s wife, who gave up the aspiration of the professional life to be a full-time wife and mom. To the feministas, she was a betrayal to their cause. Many of the MWNBs went along with those feministas. Those MWNBs? Many of them went on to be pastors at “conservative evangelical” churches.

(Does that just fill you with great confidence in the pastoral counsel you’re likely to receive?)

What I’ve learned since then: one does not have to be a feminist to buy into that materialism. I’ve seen no small number of conservative Christian parents do exactly that.

They may not all be like the Tiger Mother, but that is just because they are lukewarm about it whereas Chua–the Genuine Article–really walks the talk.

Remove the Sheep’s Clothing

I’ve been researching my Youngest daughter’s new diagnosis and how it inter-relates to all her other diagnoses. It’s interesting and overwhelming and a myriad of other emotions all at the same time.

As there were many with possible genetic components, I decided to email my parents and siblings to give them a list of all her diagnoses. This was a significant decision in that we’re not close, and we pretty much all keep to ourselves. However, when genetically related, genetic information can be important.

My brother, who lives many hours behind me in a different time zone began emailing me and then called me. He wants me to bring her to his home and let his “doctor” treat her. “He can cure her 100%!” he guaranteed. I do love my dear brother, but my brother is into many different and bizarre beliefs. He’s also a chronic liar and has always been. I don’t trust him at all. He’s nice. And he lives in a great place. And we talk a time or two a year. But I don’t trust him.

He was passionate. “I’ll fly all of you out here for a week, a free vacation. You can stay with us and tourist around. I’ll pay for everything. All you have to do is let this “doctor” spend time with Youngest. He can heal her.” It was 1am my time, so I took the info, told him I would do the research, and get back to him.

I didn’t need to research much. See, there are only two forces in this world: God, and Satan. If it’s not of God, it’s of Satan. This stuff is clearly not of God. A free, paid vacation (probably at least 6K) would be wonderful! Especially as we very likely may never have that kind of excess money because the care of my daughter is expensive.

But not at the expense of my daughter.

I don’t know if this was some kind of spiritual test or not. I wonder about these kinds of things sometimes. I was praying that God would take off the sheep’s clothing and reveal the Truth. He did.

My brother, I am confident, does not understand my decision. Money and power are very important to him. But what he doesn’t realize, or chooses not to realize, is that he is worshiping false gods. He grew up in a private, Bible-based, Christian school. They had regular chapel meetings. He grew up going to Bible-teaching churches. He knew all the stuff. But he has chosen differently. He is still alive, so he still has time to choose God.

Jesus continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” John 8:23-24

On Single Pastors, Part 1

Dave, responding to another thread, provided a nice piece from Steve DeWitt, writing for The Gospel Coalition.

In short, I agree with almost everything that DeWitt said there. Those are exactly the same arguments I made when I was single, and they are views I still have.

And DeWitt is only dealing with part of the issue: bias against single pastors. The bias extends to a lot more than that. Single men are often excluded from teaching posts, or given lower preference than married folks. They are almost always persona non grata in children and youth ministry.

Still, from a pragmatic standpoint, Mohler is right. Fairly or unfairly, churches DO generally expect their pastors to be married. That is not going to change in the near future. If you are an aspiring pastor, and you do not get married, you need to take a long, hard look at the consequences: your worst enemies are going to be in the Church.

Personally, I want pastors who have some spiritual mileage on them. THAT’s Biblical. Whether they are single or not doesn’t matter so much as they have a track record of life experience living out the faith. Almost all of the Apostles were single. Two of the four major Prophets (Jeremiah and Daniel) were single. There is no indication in Scripture that either Timothy and Titus were married. But ALL of those guys had spiritual mileage and were above reproach.

Singleness is a tough life–I can say that, given that I was there for almost 43 years–but married life is no panacea either.

Singleness allowed me to appreciate certain perspectives in Scripture that married folks don’t get the same way. Married life has allowed me to appreciate certain perspectives in Scripture that single folks don’t get the same way.

Some battles–especially those regarding time–are a LOT easier when you are single. Other battles–sex, for example–are a lot easier if you are married.

Still, marriage is no panacea, even regarding the the sexual immorality angle. The fight against lust can be easier, but it sure doesn’t go away. I’m happily-married and have a wonderful sex life with MrsLarijani. But when I’m at the YMCA and a scantily-clad hot babe walks in the room, I can tell you what every red-blooded American male–single or otherwise–is thinking, even if for a split-second before I catch myself! (I “caught myself” as a single man, too. That takes years of learning, but it’s doable.)

I’ve seen enough infidelity among married pastors that I’m just not buying the “married pastors are more Biblically sound than single pastors” line. Even among those married pastors who don’t go all the way and boff other women, there are a heck of a lot of them who engage in sexually inappropriate conduct. You aren’t going to win any arguments by trying to say that it’s only single men who get onto those porn sites.

(While some will bring up the Catholic dilemma, that is not the same: Catholic pastors are not ALLOWED to marry. This also creates problems, in that many folks who otherwise ought to be getting married, are not allowed to.)

I will say this much, though. DeWitt wants to get married. He is probably in a good church situation. It would be nice if some of those folks helped set him up with someone. It would be nice if perhaps he could get a pastoral ally to help shepherd the process along.

Self-Esteem Versus Self-Respect

In the world of gender relations, women usually–if not always–test the men in their lives in various ways. In the world of “Game”, this is called the “shit test”.

An example of this would be when you’re talking to a gal in whom you may be interested, and she says, “I’ll bet you already have a girlfriend.”

An example of a bad answer: “No…still looking.” (It’s a bad answer because–while it may be factually correct, it misses completely the whole purpose of the test.)

An example of a good answer: “Yep…several. Which number do you want to be?” The second answer is good because it (1) communicates that you know you are being “tested”, and (2) you are showing–with light humor–that you aren’t going to be pushed around by her.

OTOH, sometimes the “test” can come from unexpected sources. I never thought in terms of one’s mother as being a potential “tester” for the men, but this piece by RM makes lots of sense on so many fronts.

Personally, I’m thinking RM has stumbled onto some gold here. And the implications are much deeper than “Game”. What do you guys think?

Guys: Would You Marry Her?

I’m borrowing this from Vox Day. Without looking at his site–or, if you already have, ignoring what he advised for now (even though I agree with him)–I have a question for the guys: not knowing anything else, ceteris paribus, would you marry a woman like this?

I’m thinking about marrying a girl. She’s open to being a housewife (kinda likes the idea), already wants to have lots of kids, and is intelligent. Agrees with me and my opposition to affirmative action and the like (hard enough to find another black person like that who won’t fill my children’s heads with black victimology nonsense). In short, she’s about as close to perfect as I feel I could hope to get, except that she’s not at all open to listening to any new ideas, such as homeschooling.

I have tried logical debate (yeah I know, but what else can I do), but she makes it personal. She says she will outright refuse to do it, even if she’s a housewife. Also, she wants to get married soon and doesn’t get why guys are so slow to want the same. I tried to explain to her my fears and where they came from: the fact that there essentially are no fathers now, just men who women allow these men to parent their children until they watch the wrong episode of Desparate Housewives or something.

I didn’t put it like that, but I said that I am taking a massive risk by marrying and having children with her. And that I was afraid of having a sexless marriage. She doesn’t see sex as a wifely duty. She didn’t wanna hear it and simply shut down conversation. I tried to suggest getting a covenant marriage or just getting married in a church without a legal marriage, but I don’t know if she’ll go for it. What do you think I should do? Is there a better way I could’ve gone about things? I’d rather try to persuade her. It’s so hard to find someone who has all those good qualities.

I’d dump her in 2 nanoseconds. I would have dumped her in 1 nanosecond a few years ago, but I’m slowing in my old age.