Technology: The Trojan Horse of the Christian home.

TROJANHORSE1Separation and technology – Most of us have heard the story written about the Greek and Trojan war. As it goes, the Greeks and Trojans had been at war for ten long years. Time and again the Greeks sought to gain victory against the Trojans, but without avail. There was a certain city, called Troy, that stood independent, and that could not be taken even by a great general (general Ulysses) with a strong force (the feared Greek army). The city was strong. It was fortified. It was built to stand the test of time, and to last against even high odds. The Greeks, realizing they could not take this city by their sheer force and power, reverted to deceptive scheming. As the legend has it, one of the Greeks came up with a plan by which they could penetrate and defeat Troy. They would build a great horse and bring it to the gates of Troy as an offering. They would paint it as a benefit to them, an offering to one of their gods. But within the horse, would be an elite force of soldiers waiting for the time the horse was wheeled within the gates of Troy. They would then wait for the cover of night, and when the inhabitants of the city least expected it, the enemy would creep out from the horse’s belly, open the entrance to the city, and by it, opening the floodgates of the enemy to storm in and destroy the city. The Greeks constructed the horse. They brought it to the gate of the city. And then, they retreated, leaving only one lone soldier to offer the gift. The Trojans came to the gates to peer at the horse from within the city. The overwhelming consensus was to bring it inside. However, there was a priest within the city who warned against bringing the horse in. He said, “Do not trust the horse, Trojans! Whatever it is, I fear the Greeks, even bringing gifts.” Then another, the princess, predicted that if they let the horse in, it would be the downfall of the city and the royal family. Both the king’s daughter and the priest were ignored, and they brought the horse in. It was not right away that the Greeks attacked. They waited until it was night, and quiet and all were off-guard. Then, in an instant, and when least expected, their carefully premeditated course of action was executed. The Greeks who had “retreated” had come back to shore under the cover of night, and were awaiting the opening of the gate, that they might storm the city. The gates were opened, and the city was destroyed.

I cannot think of anything that has torn down the barriers of separation from the world within the Christian home today more than that of technology. It’s amazing the parallels the fate of Troy has with our topic of technology, separation, and the home. Think about the striking parallels here. First, the home is one of three institutions that God Himself ordained.  Done God’s way, the home is built to last. When the home is strong and sound, what forces can defeat it? Attacks from without strengthen the home. Slander unites a home as one. Tragedy forges the strongest of bonds. Storms can even bring out the best in a home. Even against the largest of odds from without that are stacked against it, a family standing together on the right principles can prevail. Secondly, I’m reminded that the world, the flesh, and the devil are relentless and will not let up until they have conquered. When attacks from without have not worked, they will resort to deceptive scheming until they can work from within. For many years, the world and the devil have been at hard at work, conniving and conspiring how they can get into godly homes. With the advent of the internet and technology, they have found their trojan horse. They have packaged it so delicately and palatably. They have offered it so subtly. They’ve marketed it as so harmless, yet so beneficial, that the masses of Christians are peering through the gates yelling, “bring it in!” Another parallel I see is that hasn’t gone without warning. There are prudent preachers that herald wisdom, pleading with our people, “I know it seems like a gift. I know it seems beneficial, I know it seems harmless, but do not trust the horse, Christians! Whatever it is, I fear the world, even bringing gifts.” For many, it’s too late. The preacher can preach until he’s literally blue in the face, but the appeal is too strong, and we give in. We disregard the teacher that predicts that this will be the downfall of our homes and churches, because, after all, we know better. What could happen to our family? We’re stronger than that. Oh, it may not take effect immediately. Satan is patient. But the enemy is real and he is relentless. And so is the flesh that is affected. At a time where we least expect it, we will be startled to realize that we have allowed the enemy in, and the floodgates have been opened to the heart and soul of our children and our homes. Many times over, the tragedy is that by the time we awake to it, it will have been too late.

Note: this is simply an excerpt. Illustrations and statistics have not been added, but in my close to fifteen years of work with teens and college students, they are abundant.

A House of Prayer?

Excerpt from a dissertation I’m writing. The study was a challenge to me.

Spiritual churches pray. Perhaps Jesus’ most passionate act besides His sacrifice on the cross comes to us in Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46, and John 2:14. As He walked into the church (in their context, called the temple), He saw that it had turned from a place of prayer and worship to a place of merchandise. A holy indignation welled up within Him, and He walked out. Having made a whip, He came back in a short time later and drove out those that sold, as well as their animals. He then made a statement about His house that we would do very well to note and then emulate. He said, “my house shall be called of all nations a house of prayer…” (referencing Isaiah 56:7). This was the desire of God the Father in the Old Testament. This was the longing of God the Son in the New. His desire is that His house is a spiritual house, a house of prayer.

Our churches can be called many things, especially in this day and age. But when we think of OUR church, can it honestly be called “a house of prayer”? Our church might be a house of preaching. It might be seen to be a house of Bible study. Many can be called houses of fellowship. Some are known for their Sunday School. Some for their ornate buildings (as the temple was, as we see in Jesus’ conversation with His disciples). Others are known for their programs, schools, or institutions of learning. But how many churches do you know that are known as houses of prayer? If there are churches like this, they’re probably not recognized as such because naturally, we look for the methods to their success as opposed to the means of power for success.

I’m afraid that most churches today cannot be called houses of prayer. The prayer meeting is often the least attended meeting of the week. The church gathers for a short time, shares some requests, breaks up, prays methodically- and many times not passionately, and is done for the week. And we wonder why the next generation is looking for new methods and means to reach people. Have we shown them that we rely solely on the Lord and His Holy Spirit to do His work? Or have we shown them that we rely on Sunday school, and follow up, and callbacks, and our man-made means and methods? This is NOT how the early church operated. A.W. Tozer said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

A book I read recently suggested this exercise. It’s a very good one, and yet can be very sobering. Pause for a moment, and imagine having been saved on a remote island by a Christian that just happened to be passing through, and your paths crossed. Though you’re very remote geographically, there is a Bible in your language, and the witness gives you one to read, being the best he can do for you. You have never seen a church. You don’t know what one looks like. You’ve never gathered for “church”. But as you open the Bible, you see that Christ gave Himself for the church. You see what the early church looks like. You see how they lived, were added, gave, continued, and prayed. You know of no other church but the one recorded in Scripture. Here’s the question- would the church you’ve seen in Scripture look like what we practice every week when we gather for “church”? I’ve been reading through the book of Acts this past week, and one of the things that convicts me the most is their reliance on prayer and the Holy Spirit and my lack thereof. From day one, they relied on one-accord prayer…

Multigenerational Excerpt

Doing some dissertation writing today, and thought I’d post an unedited excerpt. It’s so important that we buy into God’s eternal purpose (“the vision” that’s been given) for us as individuals and families, own it, and then cast that vision to the next generation.

Genesis 50:24-25 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

Hebrews 11:22 By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

Notice the multigenerational power in these two passages:

First, I see that this multigenerational vision (given in Genesis 12) didn’t die with Abraham. It was cast from Abraham to Isaac, and Isaac bought in. Then Isaac took the vision and cast it to Jacob, and Jacob bought in. And here, four generations later, we see Joseph cite the vision by faith.

Secondly, I see that Joseph bought into the vision himself. He made it his own. It wasn’t his father’s vision and purpose. It was his. He believed in the vision. He owned the vision. He knew that he was a part of it in life and didn’t think it should stop in death- which leads us to our third thought.

Thirdly, Joseph didn’t stop with simply believing the vision himself. Joseph cast the same vision to the next generation. He said, I know God has a plan for our family. I know that God will do what He said. And some day, He’s going to visit us. Some day, he’s going to deliver us. And when He does, I don’t want my bones in left in this worldly place. When God sees fit to fulfill the promise to us years from now, carry my bones out of Egypt!  

New Year’s Resolutions

I came across these New Year’s resolution suggestions from a missionary of years gone by. Jonathan Goforth suggested these as “Rules for Daily Living”. These may not seem earth-shattering, but if everyday Christians lived like this, I believe 2019 would be a year of personal and corporate revival.

  1. Seek to give much — expect nothing.
  2. Put the very best construction on the actions of others.
  3. Never let a day pass without at least a quarter of an hour spent in the study of the Bible.
  4. Never omit daily morning and evening private prayer and devotion.
  5. In all things seek to know God’s Will and when known obey at any cost.
  6. Seek to cultivate a quiet prayerful spirit.
  7. Seek each day to do or say something to further Christianity among the heathen.

Honesty and Modesty

This is not popular, I understand. But it is good, thought-provoking material that most are unwilling to say. Read it this morning and thought I’d share.

Honesty and Modesty

Written by Dr. Bruce Goddard

Good Morning,

Recently, I walked into a place of business (a small, privately owned business).  A man stood in front of me in line, and at one point, both of the ladies who worked there were away from the counter.  He looked at me and said, “Do you think the owner makes them dress like that?”  It was interesting to me that I was in a secular situation, with a normal construction worker, and a stranger was candid enough to comment on the gal’s dress.  Each gal was wearing shorts and a low-cut t-shirt that fit a little tighter than it probably should have.

I mentioned that I knew the owner’s wife and that she did not dress that way (I was trying to cover for the owner). This construction worker looked at me and said, “If I was the owner, I could not work around gals dressed like that all day long without a problem; it just would not work.”

There you have it!  The candid, man-to-man, out-of-the-pulpit, non-church, revelation of the male heart.   The dress of those gal’s screamed “sex.”

It is interesting how much people desperately try to justify revealing clothing, indiscreet clothing, clothing that is tight, low-cut, see-through, and generally immodest; yet, the entire world uses indiscreetly-dressed females to draw the eyes and attention of men.  No one doubts the power of a sensuous pose, alluring clothing, or sexual innuendos that accompany certain clothes (especially in the summertime).  For those who might say clothing does not matter, why then (might I ask) is there a “Victoria’s Secret” shop and why do we give personal bridal showers?

Yet, if you ask the average preacher what Paul meant in I Timothy 2:9 (when he said a woman should adorn herself in modest apparel), he will dance around the words modest and apparel in any way possible. He will avoid confronting the comment on sexual temptations or indiscretions leading the eyes and minds of men to dwell upon that which they should not.  Pastors today will say it has to do with modesty in price, so I guess they preach against $100 jeans with holes in them???  (Probably not.)  Anyone with an honest heart who reads this article knows the verse is not about money.  (As I said, I do not hear pastors preaching about expensive clothing any more than immodest clothing.)

1 Timothy 2:9 “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
vs. 10 “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

Here are a few simple principles to learn from this verse:
1.  Some clothing is modest, some is not.
2.  God suggests women dress with a little “shame” or embarrassment, not
proudly flaunt every bit of flesh possible.
3.  Some clothing “becomes women who are godly,” and other clothing is
unbecoming to a godly woman.

More can be learned from this passage, but these three principles alone ought to provoke the thinking of every Christian lady.

We live in a culture in which people throw fits about a man touching a woman inappropriately; of course, we all know that is wrong.  But as the construction worker said to me at the counter, it would be impossible for him to work all day around ladies dressed like that and not have some kind of a problem.  That which is advertised is desired; that which is beautiful and revealed draws a touch — whether it be the Jaguar on the showroom floor or the beautiful dress hanging on the rack in the store.  When we see attractive things, we want to touch them.  Any married person knows that there is no draw on the heart and body of a man like the sexual draw of a woman’s body.

With this obvious information, Solomon wrote in Proverbs chapter 7 about the woman with the attire of a harlot:
Proverbs 7:10 “And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.”

Something about the attire of the woman in this passage made it obvious that she was available.  Candidly speaking, in the small, private business in our small, conservative town, the summer dress of girls certainly looks like they are available, and it would be difficult to find anything more worthy of the description, “The attire of a harlot.”  I would never slander the women in question.  I have no reason to question their morality, but I will, without hesitation, say that their apparel screamed “available!”

To say God does not care about our appearance is an act of intentional ignorance, therefore I make a few suggestions to all of us:

We need to consider what is seen on the television in our homes.
We need to consider where we go with our families, and what is placed in front of our men and boys.  (Could a beach or pool full of bikini-clad women be any more violating of the above principles?)
We need to consider the wardrobe of the gals in our home, whether it be the toddlers or adults — set patterns of acceptable dress and do not change.  Begin to set some kind of standard of that which is acceptable and unacceptable by which to live.

We will close with reviewing the above principles and add a fourth:
1.  Some clothing is modest, some is not.
2.  God suggests women dress with a little “shame” or embarrassment, not
proudly flaunt every bit of flesh possible.
3.  Some clothing “becomes women who are godly,” and other clothing is
unbecoming to a godly woman.
Add the fourth principle from Proverbs 7:
4. Do not wear anything that says “available” unless it is to bed with your
husband.

Pastor Goddard

Commitment

“Adoniram Judson sweated out Burma’s heat for 18 years without a furlough, six years without a convert. Enduring torture and imprisonment, he admitted that he never saw a ship sail without wanting to jump on board and go home. When his wife’s health broke and he put her on a homebound vessel in the knowledge he would not see her for two full years, he confided to his diary: “If we could find some quiet resting place on earth where we could spend the rest of our days in peace. . .” But he steadied himself with this remarkable postscript: “Life is short. Millions of Burmese are perishing. I am almost the only person on earth who has attained their language to communicate salvation. . .”

Add

add2 Peter 1:5-9 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

Today’s reading reminds me that no matter how long I’ve been saved, I ought to be “add to my faith”. None of us can ever say that we’ve arrived. According to the Holy Spirit through Peter here, if we add these things, we won’t fall. And if we don’t diligently add these things, we’ll be blind, and can go so far as to forget that we’ve been purged from our sins. Let us diligently work to add to our faith virtue, and then knowledge, then temperance, and patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.

1 Peter 3:21-22 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

This morning I’m thankful for Jesus Christ. I’m reminded of His resurrection. I’m humbled by His majesty and position and authority. If angels, and powers, and authorities are subject unto Him, might I subject my will to His, seeking to make His name and glory known to the ends of the earth.

Honor the King

Kings-Crown-e13594096297211 Peter 2:12-17 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

This morning reminds me of our responsibility, as Christians, to our civil authority. We are to be lights. We are to be subject. We are to submit ourselves to their ordinances. We are to pray for them. And Peter says that we are to honor them. Let us remember this today, as lights and examples to our community. Let us not pray for their death. Let us not defy their requests (unless it clearly violates Scripture). Let us give honor to whom honor is due, tribute to whom tribute, and custom to whom custom.

Ignite Me

jim-elliot-yearbookJim Elliot, martyr of Ecuador, was a torch of fire for Jesus Christ. One day, as he was meditating on the words, “He maketh his ministers a flame of fire” (Hebrews 1:7), he wrote in his diary:

“Am I ignitable? God deliver me from the dread asbestos of other things. Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be a flame. But flame is transient, often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul short life? In me there dwells the Spirit of the Great Short-Lived, Whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him. Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.”