All posts by Wintery Knight

https://winteryknight.com/

Where to get help if you have a selfish, absent or abusive mother or father

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

Today, I want to say something this article about lambs in Scotland, written by Sheila Walsh in the The Stream.

She writes:

I am very fond of sheep. I grew up on the west coast of Scotland with sheep all around me, field after field of white wool and incessant crying when things seemed a little off.

[…]Of all the lessons I have learned from these defenseless, gentle animals, the most profound is the most painful. Every now and then, a ewe will give birth to a lamb and immediately reject it. Sometimes the lamb is rejected because they are one of twins and the mother doesn’t have enough milk or she is old and frankly quite tired of the whole business. They call those lambs, bummer lambs.

Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die. So the shepherd will take that little lost one into his home and hand feed it from a bottle and keep it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up warm and hold it close enough to hear a heartbeat. When the lamb is strong the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock.

“Off you go now, you can do this, I’m right here.”

The most beautiful sight to see is when the shepherd approaches his flock in the morning and calls them out, “Sheep, sheep, sheep!”

The first to run to him are the bummer lambs because they know his voice. It’s not that they are more loved — it’s just that they believe it.

I am so grateful that Christ calls himself the Good Shepherd.

“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4 NLT)

My older brother and I grew up with a mother who was very much focused on her career and earning and saving money for her retirement. We were both stuck in daycare very early after being born, so that she could go back to work right away. (Me after 6 weeks) My older brother has shown the ill effects of our parents (especially our mother) not having any plan for us, especially morally and spiritually. He dropped out of college after failing his first year, never had a career. Although he has normal intelligence and mental health, he never could stick in any real job.

Although there were early warning signs when his grades started to drop in Grade 5, my parents never took responsibility to make a plan to solve it. Oh, they would yell and scream at him at report card time, but just for a day or two, and after that, nothing constructive. My brother decided that he could just ride out the flak my parents gave him on report card night, and keep going with his plan of having fun and being popular. My parents just forgot about it until the next report card day, because they did not want to be distracted from their careers, hobbies and retirement planning. When dispensing rewards, my brother was always given the same as me, despite our different levels of achievement. And my parents considered this equal dispensation of rewards regardless of performance to be a great virtue, and excellent parenting.

I had the exact same upbringing as my older brother. He actually did pretty well until Grade 5 just like me, but then our paths diverged. From Grade 5 on, his grades deterioriated. He got tired of having to study and he was more interested in the opinions of his peers and conforming to popular culture. In my case, from Grade 5 on, my grades were always high-90s. I remember taking the same classes as he did, in the same high school, with the same teachers. He got a 44 in data processing, I got a 96 with the same teacher and won the award for the entire grade. Every class I went to, the teachers would speak fondly of my older brother – he was a nice guy, very popular with his peers, good at sports. But not a very good student. How was it that I was winning awards when he had scored so poorly. Was I really his brother? How could we be so different?

The difference is that in Grade 5, he got a Gideon’s New Testament and he read it and he didn’t put it into practice, and in Grade 5, I got a Gideon’s New Testament and I read it twice and I did put it into practice. That was the difference. I had the awareness of the moral law (i.e.- wisdom) that allowed me to judge my parents and judge my peers and judge my teachers and stand alone. When you cannot rely on anyone to lead you, be able to judge when others mistreat you is very important. That is what allows you to maintain appropriate boundaries and minimize the influence of friends and family who are teaching you self-destructive behaviors. Awareness of the moral law is what allows you to stop trying to please people who do not want what is best for you. On the other hand, God is always willing to give you wisdom if you ask Him for it, and you can find out all about him because he has left plenty of evidence concerning his existence and character for you to find. It is in knowing God as he really is that you can find your sense of value, purpose and meaning. The God of the New Testament is the God of people who are lost and need a Savior.

For me, Christianity was a simple matter of being willing to go along with what was true, and not insisting on having fun or conforming to peer expectations. The essential characteristic of my faith, in contrast to my older brother’s lack of faith, was this – I did not mind being different, so long as I never lost a debate about what was true. My obedience to Christ has never been conditional on things going my way, on being liked, or anything like that. The only thing that mattered was being factually correct. It never bothered me what other people were doing, or what other people expected me to do, so long as I was acting on what I knew to be true. And God helped me to find out what was true by motivating me to study, and leading me to him with good evidence, and good mentors. Thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross, the mistakes I made early did not count against me, and they never will. Jesus’ death on the cross gives me the imputed righteousness that I need to stand before God holy and blameless. This is what allows me to keep learning and keep trying no matter how much I fail on any given day.

How has this affected me? Well, this is the second thing I wanted to say about the bummer lamb analogy. Since I was a victim of this hands-off, me-first style of parenting, it’s caused me to be extra sensitive about being a good spiritual leader to others in the same predicament. The people I mentor can see it in the way that I treat them . I treat them the opposite of the way that my older brother and I were treated. I care what people read. I care what courses they choose. I care what they eat. I care how they feel. I care about their finances. I care about their plans to serve God. I care about their romantic relationships. I care whether they get recognition for doing good. I care whether their life is going in the right direction. One person I mentored who once considered taking her own life wrote to me when she graduated from a STEM program, and she said this: “I wish you could have been here at my graduation. My parents only paid for this degree. You were the one who got me through it”. We have never met in person, but she is going to continue to make a huge difference for Christ and His Kingdom going forward.

I think when you have been a bummer lamb, you are extra careful to make decisions that will enable you to be a good shepherd to other lambs. Being a good shepherd does not mean being pious, spiritual, mystical, etc. Being a good shepherd does not mean making the lambs feel good about making bad decisions. Being a good shepherd means understanding what God has done to lead you, and then reflecting that love back to others in practical, self-sacrificial actions that solve actual real-world problems for other people who want to know and serve God. If you are about to jump off a cliff, the last thing you need is someone with no wisdom or experience telling you that God is OK with you doing whatever feels good to you. What you need is someone practical and competent to give you good advice, however much that advice may make you feel bad, or block your pursuit of fun.

One of my friends proof-read the draft of this post and told me that it made her think of 2 Cor 1:3-5:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

Nothing else I do in life matters to me as much as taking care of the people I mentor, especially the ones who are lost and lacking guidance and care. I have good health, good education, good career, and great finances. But by far the most important thing I do is following the example of the Shepherd by caring for other lambs.

How should parents respond to teachers pressuring children to transition?

Catholic teachers march in favor of gay rights and perverted sex education
Catholic teachers march in favor of gay rights and perverted sex education

My plan for marriage was to have 4 children with my wife, then homeschool them right through to doctoral degrees. But one thing I knew for sure, I was never going to put my kids into public schools. My impression of public school teachers is that they are the source of moral relativism and cultural relativism. They break down morality and patriotism in children and call it compassion.

Abigal Shrier has noticed that the teachers in public schools are pushing transgenderism pretty hard, because they don’t want anyone making judgments about what is right or wrong, wise or foolish.

The far-left UK Daily Mail reported:

‘I often get parents telling me they’re not able to take binders (a cloth which flattens breasts by the use of constrictive materials) away from their children, and I say to them, “Would you give your children cigarettes?”.

‘Because we know binders are really harmful, they can deform breast tissue, cause rib cracking and shortness of breath. They’re quite dangerous for your 14-year-old to be going around with.’

Sharing her experience of parents’ concerns, she said: ‘Parents often say to me “I don’t want to be seen as a transphobe”, and it’s very clear to me that sometimes these parents feel like they can’t speak the truth or go against their own children’s wishes.

[…]’I’ve never seen parents so beaten down and undermined. They send them to school in good faith and now schools are helping them fill out forms with new names as different sexes and hide it from their parents. They turn their kids against their parents.

‘Medicine has become so politicised that parents can’t even rely on honesty from medical professionals even when it comes to transition.’

You might remember that I blogged about a particularly scary case of this from socialist Canada, which doesn’t respect parents’ rights at all. There, the teachers, administrators, counsellors, doctors, layers and judges, all conspired to transition a child from female to male against the parents’ wishes. If you haven’t read that post from March of this year, you should definitely go read it, to find out where our own public schools are trying to go with students.

Anyway, in another article from The College Fix I found an excerpt of her new book, where she offers advice to parents. She talks about not giving them smartphones, not abdicating the leadership role, monitoring the schools for gender ideology, keeping family business private, being open to pulling the children out of their communities, etc.

And there is some pushback against the transgender agenda being promoted by teachers. Some people are regretting their transitions, and blaming the adults who affirmed them on their way to self-harm.

Here’s an article from Sky News:

A woman who was treated with hormone blockers to reassign her gender as a teenager is taking the NHS to court, saying she “should have been told to wait”.

Keira Bell said the care she received for gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity, steered her towards medical treatment.

Ms Bell, who used to identify as a boy, was 15 when she went to the Tavistock Centre in London. She said after “roughly three sessions” she started receiving hormone blockers.

Eight years later, and after undergoing surgery, Ms Bell is de-transitioning to return to a woman.

[…]She said: “I am angry about the whole situation because of how things have turned out for me based on the medical pathway that I was put on, but I’m now just trying to focus on changing the system for the better and making it better for minors and children.

“I should have been told to wait and not affirmed in my gender identity I was claiming to have and given intensive therapy basically to make sure that I was on the right track for things and investigate the feelings I was having to figure out how I got to that stage.”

Ms Bell said she felt “trapped and alone”, and the Tavistock Centre should have taken into account the “confusion” teenagers experience before offering her treatment.

What I’d like to see is conservative lawmakers craft legislation to allow victims like this to charge the teachers, administrators, doctors, lawyers and judges with criminal negligence. Because I really feel that it is criminal to lie to young people so that you will feel good, and people will like you. That’s all that this focus on feelings and compassion is. The secular leftist adults aren’t capable of moral reasoning. They don’t want to do good for the children, they want to feel good and be popular, even if it harms the children’s long-term well-being and happiness. The adults should be punished.

House Democrats pass the Equality Act – here’s what it means to Bible-believing Christians

I’m just going to cut and paste some information for you from recent articles I found at Alliance Defending Freedom and The Federalist.

Here’s an article from The Federalist to explain the bill.

Adoption agencies:

Unhappy with the restrictions on eligibility that Catholic and other religious adoption agencies put on families looking to take children into their homes, the act seeks to nationalize Massachusetts, New York, and California’s outright bans on religious adoption agencies’ right to operate according to conscience. Never mind that there are any number of secular adoption agencies with no traditional marriage guidelines; shutting down the organizations that invented adoption, the bill states, will “increase the number of homes available to foster children.”

Sex-specific businesses:

Salons, too, will not be able to “discriminate” based on biology, opening the door in the United States for the Canadian nightmare where Jessic4 Y4niv — a man who identifies as a woman while still being attracted to women — sued to force female nail salon employees to wax his privates. You don’t have to be a woman to understand the level of sexual assault implicit in an adult man demanding a woman handle his privates for money or risk the force of law.

Christian-owned organizations: (businesses, churches, schools)

Remember Masterpiece Cakeshop’s Jack Phillips? In 2017, after five years of fighting the Colorado baker won a Supreme Court battle establishing his right to abstain from services he opposed on religious grounds. Four years later, however, he is still embroiled in an unending stream of lawsuits and complaints brought by radical gay and transgender activists (and even a Satanist). The Equality Act would take the treatment Phillips has received over his views on marriage and gender, and nationalize it. Virtually no businessman would be exempt.

Christian charities:

Nor will the Little Sisters of the Poor’s hard-fought-if-fleeting legal victories be safe. According to the Equality Act, religious nurses, doctors, and hospitals unwilling to kill an unborn child or perform a potentially mentally destabilizing, deeply invasive, medically unsound sex-change surgery could be legally discriminating.

While the Little Sisters were able to beat back their antagonists — who were led by President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra — using 1993’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, this last line of defense would be useless against the Equality Act.

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993,” the act reads, “shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”

And of course religious schools will have to teach what the secular left believes. And religious organizations won’t be able to hire people who actually believe in their religious mission.

Finally, I found this ADF article about abortion of all things:

The “Equality Act” states that “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition [which includes abortion] shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” It also specifically eliminates conscience protections provided by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for those who object to participating in abortions.

Here’s what that means:

  1. The “Equality Act” could require doctors and hospitals to commit abortions—even if they have religious or moral objections.

  2. The “Equality Act” offers no protections for employers who conscientiously object to covering abortion in their health care plans, leaving the door open for abortion advocates to argue that the Act requires them to provide abortion coverage.

  3. The “Equality Act” could require the federal government and recipients of federal funding to cover abortion in their health care plans—all at the taxpayer’s expense.

I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the bill since 2015, because I believe that this bill will basically end public Christianity in the United States. I don’t see how you can be a champion of chastity or natural marriage if these views cannot be expressed. Your job will be threatened if you believe these things. Christian organizations will be threatened for believing these things. Christian businesses will be threatened if the owners believe these things. Remember, in Canada, a Christian law school was punished for requiring students to avoid sex outside of natural marriage. That was deemed “anti-g4y”, and the law school lost its accreditation in several provinces.

The reason I follow this is because I know that a lot of Christians have a very different view of Christianity than I do. They don’t want to defend Jesus’ teachings on sexual morality and marriage. They want to show “love” to their non-Christian neighbors. And by “love” they don’t mean a love that tells the truth. They mean a love that is acceptance of sin. Participation in sin. Celebration of sin. We’ve made a lot of Christians like that. They almost never know what the secular left has planned for them with laws like the Equality Act.

My job as a Bible-believing Christian is to tell you the truth and remind you that your job is not to show “love” (i.e. – agreement with) to non-Christians. Your job is to show love to Jesus, and share the truth to non-Christians in a loving way. Treat them with respect, but don’t agree with them. That’s not good for them, and your job is to do good to them – not to agree with them.

Please pray and take action:

Contact your U.S. senators and ask them to vote NO.

Related posts

Bible study: How should Christians understand suffering? (1 Peter 1)

I thought I would post my notes for my 1 Peter Bible study here. I’m studying 1 Peter with a female friend in the mornings. We’re using Joel Green’s “1 Peter” commentary which we got for free from Logos Bible Software.

We had a very good discussion today about how we started out our lives (even as Christians) with certain sad / missing things and how reading the Bible and having changed priorities and behaviors changed what we were hoping for, our priorities, our desires, and our contentment.

I just pasted in my full notes with the clips from Green’s book, then below that, I have the pasted in her (better) notes. I wish you all could be in our Bible study, we are very practical.

My notes:

Author: Apostle Peter
Date: this letter was probably written before or during the Neronian persecution (AD 62-64)
Audience: probably a mixed group of Jews and Gentile believers who were scattered throughout the northern regions of Asia Minor
Genre: Didactic
Purpose: provide direction for believers under persecution; at times it also includes theological considerations which support the ethical exhortations.
Map: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1_Peter_1#/media/File:Map_Anatolia_ancient_regions-en.svg
Commentary: “1 Peter” by Joel B. Green

Verses 6-7:

  • Genuine faith doesn’t mean that you will be free from “various trials” now.
  • Talk about my experiences dealing with white male senior engineers and architects who are very successful in my IT workplace, married, with kids, who grew up in married Christian homes and lost their faith in college OR who profess Christianity but vote Democrat and know more about Star Wars / fantasy novels, etc. than Christian worldview and apologetics.
  • The feeling of not being good enough at worldly success and not being able to convince non-Christians that spiritual things are more important, specifically, apologetics.
  • Seeing how attractive, charismatic white Christians families are seen as the gold standard in church, even though they can’t defend their worldview, and their priorities, favored policies, and discussion topics are all from the secular left culture.
  • My experience of “rejoicing” in the faith will not be about being happy or joyful. It’s more likely to center around honor, as in Henry V’s speech to his men (and reply to the Herald) in Act 4, Scene 3. (in modern English here)

Green: What Peter does not say is almost as important as what he affirms. First, he provides nowhere any hint that the affliction and misery of his audience is the consequence of their sin or God’s judgment. Such categories simply have no place in his letter.

Green: First Peter is addressed to folks who do not belong, who eke out their lives on the periphery of acceptable society, whose deepest loyalties and inclinations do not line up very well with what matters most in the world in which they live.

Green: Divine choice and alien status are deeply rooted in God’s purpose as this comes to expression in the Scriptures, so the dissonance of present life, chosen by God but held in contempt in society, is neither a surprise to God nor a contradiction of his plan. Peter will demonstrate that the way of Jesus Christ was the path of suffering and glory… that the model of Jesus Christ interprets and is interpreted by the Scriptures of Israel… and that this pattern is characteristic of those who follow in his footsteps…

Green: The issue is this: life-events do not come with self-contained and immediately obvious interpretations; rather, we conceptualize them in terms of imaginative structures that we take to be true, normal, and good. As a rule, the world-at-large casts a thick, dark cloud of despair over experiences of suffering, distress, trials, and alien status. Peter insists that such experiences on the part of his audience must be read according to a radically different pattern of thought—one that grows out of new birth.

Green: Inexorably linked in the consequent passion theology are the sufferings of Christ and his followers, who are thereby assured that their suffering will have a redemptive effect and will lead to glory and honor from God just as Jesus’ suffering did. This is the interpretation of things inspired by the Spirit.

Verses 13-14:

  • Hope in the future should cause us not to be conformed to our past passions.
  • Being sober-minded means setting your hope on eternal life, instead of trying to fill worldly desires with experiences or possessions here and now. Sober like not trying to feel good now (artificially) using mind-altering substances.
  • Emphasis is on new priorities and freely-chosen behaviors.
  • Talk about how I saw marriage and children as the solution to my problems of bad parents and a contentious home when I was young.
  • Talk about how prioritizing God’s priorities and learning more about how the culture doesn’t make marriage-ready women and doesn’t value marriage means that I probably would have destroyed myself if I had got the marriage I desired.
  • Talk about how take the priorities of God and acting according to the Bible (chastity, sobriety, stewardship, focus on loving others self-sacrificially) ends up putting you in a safe, peaceful place – a paid off home, and retirement money.
  • By focusing on God, your behaviors (chastity, sobriety, stewardship, loving others) have the effect of making you not destroy yourself with addictions, narcissism, etc. You end up in a pretty decent, peaceful place anyway, because you haven’t self-destructed, e.g. – by marrying a non-Christian woman for looks and beauty who the culture turns into a secular leftist, and then watching helplessly when she goes into a career and puts your kids into public schools to be indoctrinated in secular leftism. I didn’t get what I wanted, but I dodged a bullet, since that’s how most young, unmarried women are today.

Green: The section as a whole, vv. 13–21, begins and ends with reference to “hope” (vv. 13, 21) and is centrally focused on “behavior, conduct, or way of life” (vv. 15, 17, 18). The accent on hope is carried over from the previous section (v. 3), but the emphasis on “way of life” is introduced for the first time, signaling early in the letter a pronounced interest in the nature of faithful life and ethical comportment in the world. Clearly, Peter anticipates that hope will be displayed in changed life.

Green: In the Greco-Roman world, “desire”… appears in moral discourse—already in Plato but more recently especially among the Stoics, in Hellenistic Jewish literature, and in Christian writings—with such generally negative connotations as “insatiable cravings” or “lust.”15 As a generic vice almost universally condemned, “desire” marked “the former time of ignorance.” In the present text, desires rooted in ignorance belong to the past, so should no longer shape or form… Peter’s audience; in its place, imitation of God’s holiness is expected. For Peter, “desire” and “holiness” appear as opposing forces each capable of drawing persons into its orbit, conforming human character and actions to its ways and so sculpting human life. Paul similarly wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Rom 12:2).

Her notes:

1. Who is the author of this letter? What do you know about him?

-The apostle Peter

-A disciple of Jesus

-One of the three of Jesus’ inner circle

-Denied Christ at his crucifixion

-Spoke boldly at Pentecost in the face of mocking

-Was imprisoned for preaching the gospel

-Refused to stop preaching even if it meant death (Acts 5:29)

-Was martyred in Rome around 64 A.D.

2. Who is Peter writing to? What might their lives have been like as persecuted exiles?

-Christians of the Dispersion (Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia)

-Rejected by family and friends

-Difficulty finding work

-Scared for their lives

-Scared for their children’s futures

3. What is one reason God allows trials in our lives now?

so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (v. 7)

-To test the genuineness of our faith

-To result in praise and glory when Christ returns

This is part of the normal Christian life, not as a result of their bad choices, but as a result of their decision to follow Christ. The things we care about as Christians will not be celebrated by this world.

It’s not mentioned here, but the dispersion of Christians to new locations contributed to the spread of the gospel and resulted in many people being saved.

From other passages of Scripture:

-To make us more like Christ (Rom. 5:3-5)

-To equip us to show compassion to others (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

-To prepare for us glory (2 Cor. 4:17; 1 Peter 4:13)

-To draw others to Christ (Philippians 1:12; Col. 1:24-25; 2 Tim. 2:10)

I think there is a direct correlation between our suffering in this life and our happiness in the next life, such that we will actually be happier, more elated, more joyful, more grateful, in the next life because we experienced trials and suffering in this life.

  • “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
  • “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
  • “But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)
  • “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…. (Matthew 5:3-12)

For example, have you ever lost something, freaked out that you couldn’t find it, and then appreciated it far more after you found it than you ever had before you lost it? Similarly, I believe (based on Scripture verses) that we will experience greater pleasure in heaven and on the New Earth as a result of having been without comfort, pleasure, fulfillment, etc. for a time. If this is accurate, then we can genuinely thank God for allowing us to experience these trials for a time because by enduring them with trust in Christ, we are investing in our future (eternal) happiness.

4. Our inheritance in Christ

a. How does Peter describe our inheritance in Christ?

-Imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you

b. What is a proper response to this inheritance that awaits us in the next life?

-Rejoicing, even in hard times (this should be evident to those around us)

-Hope in all circumstances (Explain hope in Bible of a confident and certain expectation for the future vs. hope in common usage as something we want which may or may not come to pass)

-Gratefulness for what is to come

-Self-sacrifice because this life is fleeting and the next is glorious

c. When you imagine life on the New Earth, what do you think about?

-Perfect health, energy, no sickness

-Perfect relationships with God and the saints

-Perfect beauty in nature

-No fear, anxiety, depression, disappointment

-Exploring the universe with perfect minds and bodies

-Exploring the oceans, the colorful fish and reefs, with no pollution or fear

5. In verse 13, Peter tells us to prepare our minds for action. Practically speaking, what can we do in our daily lives to make sure that our minds are prepared for action?

-Avoid corrupting influences like drugs, too much alcohol, pornography, entertainment that puts forth values that are in opposition to Christ and to our calling

-Spend time in the Word and in prayer daily, asking the Lord to conform us to his character and to prepare us for what is ahead

-Spend time meditating on the inheritance that awaits us

-Surround ourselves with like-minded Christians

-Read and watch films about Christians who have suffered for their faith in times past (Corrie Ten Boom, Sophie Scholl, Dietrick Bonhoeffer, etc.)

6. What trials have you faced for doing good in the past? What trials are you facing right now?

Past:

-Rejection and mocking for Christian faith at the UMC church

Present:

-Woke liberals who put pressure on me to conform to their values

Assignment: Spend some time thanking God for saving you from punishment and saving you for eternal glory. Ask him to use your trials to refine your faith and your character the way fire refines gold, and to do it all for His glory.

7. Any other points or observations?

-1:2 references the Trinity: “according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood.”

-Suffering is the normal Christian life. It has been since the very beginning, and it will be until the very end. Ease and comfort for Christians is the strange anomaly. The prosperity gospel is heresy. We must expect suffering, prepare for suffering, and rejoice in suffering, but not seek out unnecessary suffering. We must suffer for doing good, not as criminals or fools. But our light and momentary afflictions are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed. Our hope is in the next life, and it will all be worth it.

Two kinds of people who have tried to shame me away from Christianity

In my last job, I had two interesting encounters, first with a secular Jewish leftist man and second with a New Age prosperity gospel feminist Christian woman.

So let’s talk about the two people.

The man who thinks that conservative Christians are stupid

The first kind of person who tried to shame me for being a Christian is the person who thinks that Christianity is stupid. This kind of person invokes things that he hears in secular leftist pop culture as if it is common knowledge that theism generally, and Christianity in particular, is false. He’s watched a documentary on the Discovery channel which said that the eternally oscillating cosmology was true. Or maybe he watched a documentary on the History Channel that said that Jesus never presented himself as God stepping into history. He presents these things that he reads in the New York Times, or sees on MSNBC or hears on NPR with the authority tone that Ben Carson might take when explaining modern medicine to a witch doctor.

Here is how things usually go with him:

  • Me: here are two arguments against naturalistic evolution, the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion.
  • Him: but you don’t believe in a young-Earth do you? I mean, you believe in evolution don’t you?
  • Me: let’s talk about how proteins and DNA is sequenced, and the sudden origin of Cambrian body plans
  • Him: (shouting) Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe in evolution?

And this:

  • Me: there hasn’t been any global warming for 18 years, and temperatures were warmer in the Medieval Warming Period
  • Him: but you don’t deny climate change, do you? everyone on NPR agrees that climate change is real
  • Me: let’s talk about the last 18 years of no warming, and the temperatures during the Medieval Warming Period
  • Him: (shouting) Do you believe in climate change? Do you believe in climate change?

He asks these questions so he can either label me as a nut, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting, or have me agree with him, without having to weigh the evidence I’m presenting. It’s all about ignoring the evidence, so he can get back to his busy, busy practical life – and get back to feeling smug about being smarter than others. I think a lot of men are like this – they don’t want to waste their valuable time studying, they just want to jump to the right conclusion, then get back to doing whatever they want – like running marathons, or driving their kids to hockey practice, etc.

So how do you respond to a man who gets his entire worldview from the culture, but never deals with peer-reviewed evidence? Well, I think you just defeat his arguments with evidence and then present your own (peer-reviewed) evidence, and then leave it at that. If the person just wants to jump to the conclusion that all the “smart” people hold to, without doing any of the work, then you can’t win. There are atheists out there who believe in the eternal oscillating universe they saw Carl Sagan talking about in their elementary school. You might try to argue for an origin of the universe by citing new evidence like the CMB and light element abundances. But sometimes, they won’t care. Carl Sagan said it 50 years ago, and that settles it. It doesn’t matter that the new evidence overturns the old theories, they don’t care.

Do you think that Christianity will make non-Christians like you?

Consider 2 Tim 4:1-5:

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

And 1 Peter 3:15-16:

15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

If you have orthodox theological beliefs in this day and age then you are going to be shamed, humiliated and reviled by people. And it’s not just having an orthodox view of who Jesus is that annoys them (e.g. – deity, exclusivity of salvation, morality, etc.). No, their disapproval spreads on into politics, especially abortion and gay marriage – basically any kind of rules around sexuality. That’s what’s really bugging these people, I think.

The woman who thinks Christianity is life-enhancement

This one is especially difficult when you are a young man, because we naturally look to women for approval and respect. You find yourself sitting in church or youth group, hoping for the approval and respect from the Christian women for your sound theology and effective apologetics. Little do you know that many Christian women understand Christianity as life-enhancement, designed to produce happy feelings. God is their cosmic butler whose main responsibility is to meet their needs and make their plans work out. Although you might be keen on sound theology and good apologetics arguments, she doesn’t think that’s important.

So how to deal with this unmet need for approval and respect from women in the church?

First thing, be careful that you don’t attend a church where the pastor in preaching and picking hymns that give you the idea that God is your cosmic butler. Second, read the Bible very carefully, and understand that with respect to God’s purposes for you in this world, your happiness is expendable. You cannot be looking to attractive Christian women that you happen to meet in church to support you, as many of them have long-since sold out to the culture. They are not interested in learning evidential apologetics to defend God’s reputation, or in defending the unborn, or in defending natural marriage, or in defending the free enterprise system that supports family autonomy from the state, etc. Those things are hard and unpopular, especially for those women who were raised to think that Christianity is about life enhancement and peer-approval.

Here’s 1 Cor 4:1-5 to make the point:

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.

For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.

Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

And 2 Tim 2:4:

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Or, since I like Ronald Speirs from Band of Brothers so much:

This is the situation in which we find ourselves, so get used to it. And believe me, I have to deal with this, too. So I have all the sympathy in the world for you. Resign yourself to the fact that no one is going to approve of you for being faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ; not secular men, not Christian women. There is no cavalry coming to rescue you.