Tag Archives: discipleship

The goal of parenting

What is the goal of parenthood?

Before we explore what it is, let’s dispel some myths of what it is not.

The goal of parenthood is not to…

  • make kids feel good about themselves
  • relive our childhood
  • fix parents mistakes
  • keep them from pain

While some of these things are otherwise good goals, they are accidental to the true goal of parenting.

Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the rules that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.

Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
-Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Simply put, the goal of parenting is to produce disciples.

Disciples of what? Disciples of our lives.

I often hear secular parents (and non-parents) talk about how it is wrong in their opinions to indoctrinate children with our beliefs, especially religious beliefs. I always find this interesting because, in saying this they are actually asserting a competing worldview (most often relativism) that they think is superior to what they see as an out dated set of beliefs handed down to us by mere sheep herders. The irony is that even though such people claim that indoctrinating a child is wrong, that is exactly what they are doing.

The question is not whether we indoctrinate our children. Or teach and train them as Scripture says. The question is what we believe is the ultimate goal in life and that will determine what we deem as critically important to teach them. And what our children will learn from will not only be the words we use but the lives we, ourselves, lead.

For us, as Christian parents, the finish line is when our children leave the nest. The test of our craftsmanship will be the quality of lives they lead. Will they lead happy and fulfilled lives (happy as defined in the classical sense)? Will they build great things (including a family and a career)? Or will they crash and burn in pursuit of sensual pleasure? Yes, children have their own free will and some may rebel and go down in flames in spite of the very best upbringing. However Proverbs tells us that, as a rule, children trained properly are not likely to stray far from the path they learn in their youth.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6

So we plan for them to leave the nest, and our goal is to equip them well to fly and not fall.

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Internet Ministry

I love reading Alan Knox’s blog, Assembling of the Church, mostly because Alan provides clear insights into the Christian life as expressed in Scripture. Recently Alan has written a few posts on internet ministry wherein he explores the role technology, and social media in particular, plays in regards to evangelization and discipleship. Generally exploring what the life of a Christian in relationship with both believers and non-believers alike looks like when expressed in a synthetic communications medium such as the internet.

Here is an exscript of Alan’s post titled “Internet Ministry” which, I believe, captures the essence of what could be the best thing to happen to Christianity since the printing press.

In my two previous posts concerning internet ministry (“What is it?” and “Evangelism and Discipleship“), I defined internet ministry as “the use of online services, apps, functions, and technologies in order to serve people with the intention of helping those people grow in maturity towards Christ” and concluded that even if we pursue evangelism online, our ultimate goal should be discipleship – that is, not simply making converts, but helping people maturing in their walk with Jesus Christ.

In this post, I am will discuss one of the major benefits of serving people using online resources, and I will show how this benefit can also be a disadvantage.

Of course, the benefit that I’m talking about (as indicated in the title of this post) is the global connection, meaning that by using online resources we are able to connect to people all around the world. Until very recently (less than 100 years), if I wanted to communicate with someone in another country, it would take days, weeks, even months or more. Today, I can talk with people from every country on the planet in seconds.

In previous generations, the only people who could carry on conversations with people of different religions were those who traveled to different countries, or those with neighbors who were part of different religions. Today, anyone with a computer or cell phone with an internet connection can communicate and interact with people from any number of belief systems.

So, the ability to communicate with other people has been drastically improved through the use of online resources. Because of the advancements in communication, many have compared the invention of the internet to the invention of the printing press. And, in many ways, the two inventions are similar. Both inventions dramatically increased the ability to communicate ideas.

Alan goes on to discuss how the apostles used long-distance mediums of communication, letters, to edify, encourage, and generally disciple the early churches. He also goes on to caution us against forming an undue attachment with a particular medium of communication. Specifically neglecting interpersonal or face-to-face communication.

Overall I would say that Alan is on to something that could be pivotal for the body of Christ. What I mean by that is that just like the printing press gave the average Christian access to the Word of God, advancements in technology in general and social media in particular can give the average Christians access to each other.

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What does it mean to be a “good Christian man”?

Close your eyes for a minute and try to picture the model Christian man. Chances are you’ll envision someone who is meek, mild, quiet and complacent. Just like many deacons and elders in the average Church.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, for starters, it is far removed from the risk-taking, bold, and outspoken men we find in the Bible. True, many of those men made huge mistakes, but one thing that you can be certain of is that a man who takes no significant risks suffers no significant losses. He also enjoys no significant gains.

I believe that one of the reasons the church has largely become impotent. I base this observation on the lack of willingness by most men who identify themselves as Christians to diligently study and then stand up and defend what they claim to believe in.

A friend of mine who is a former Muslim, specifically a former member of the racially motivated Nation of Islam, described this lack of zeal this way. As a Muslim he was encouraged to learn not only correct Islamic doctrine, but also the doctrine and corresponding arguments both for and against their positions. They were also encouraged to actively engage everyone they came into contact with and to not shy away from agreements and debates.

Now you might say, well that’s unique to Muslims. Yes, it may be true that Islam happens to simply appeal to more aggressive men, after all Muhammad personally took part in the killings and savage warfare found in the early history of Islam.

However we need to also look at Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, any religion or ideology that grows is watered and tended by men who are full of zeal for what they believe in.

Contrast this with the average deacon or elder we described above who is more apt to fight over the color of the carpet or whether to allow the youth to play their “new fangled” praise and worship music than they are to engage anyone in any real debate or discourse that just might persuade them of the truth they claim to have found for themselves.

Big difference, huh?

The difficulty with docile men

One of the central problems that has led to the current, broken, state of the church impotent is the rampant feminizing and belittling of masculine traits within the church’s own walls.1

What happens when you have an entire army made up of docile men? Typically you find natural masculine tendencies perverted and expressed in all kinds of ways that are generally unhealthy.

Instead of healthy debate and arguing you have backbiting and political games. Instead of fierce love of what one has been graciously given you have quiet resentment of what others have, schemes to get it, and attempts of murder (a la James) or assassination(mostly of the character variety) to get it.

The problem with docile men is that they end up destroying themselves rather than the enemy they were meant to fight.

The road ahead

One of the hard lessons I’ve learned (and re-learned) over the years is that the hallmark of real Christian men is their embrace of and perseverance through trials that naturally arise as they stand firm in their convictions.

One of the sad realities of the overly feminized world we live in is that often the masculine traits that can help lead us to grow and advance the kingdom of God are also the most belittled as “disruptive” and “divisive”.

Press on.

We, as Christian men, need to make a conscious decision to follow the examples of the men we find in the Bible. Good Christian men don’t sit idly by while those controversy swirls around them. They don’t bury their heads in the sand and pretend controversy doesn’t exist. They face it head-on because they are wholly committed to truth. In fact, they realize that the only road to unity is not through docile submission but through a ruthless commitment to truth. They realize that true love depends on it.

What the Church needs is a few good men.

  1. Here is a great lecture by Dr. Randy Stinson on the Feminization of the Church and here is a great collection of lectures on the subject from the excellent site, Faith By Hearing. Wintry Knight also has an excellent post on “Why Men Stay Away from the Feminized Church“ []
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Favorite preachers and teachers

In a recent conversation a few friends of mine were talking about their favorite preachers/teachers so we all compiled a list of (mostly)1 contemporary preachers and teachers we liked and admired. Here’s my reply:

While I won’t dare to compile an exhaustive list, I will take my cue from Jeff and list a few favorite sermons by some guys I greatly admire (some of whom are pastors). Sorry, these guys aren’t as dynamic and energetic in most cases as Jeff’s list2 😉 but I’m sure yall will enjoy them all the same.

First, some one-hit-wonders3:

John Brandon

Excellent lecture titled “Telling the Truth in the Business World” where he describes, among other things, standing up for Christ in the world of corporate America. He has been/is the CEO of some pretty major corporations (like Adobe) and his stories are pretty inspiring as well as challenging.

Mary Poplin

Excellent lecture titled “Radical Marxist, Radical Womanist, Radical Love: What Mother Teresa Taught Me about Social Justice” where she describes her radical transformation from an extremely liberal worldview to a conservative Christian all while maintaining a strong focus and commitment to issues of social justice. Her testimony is absolutely amazing.

Scott Klusendorf

Has an excellent method of defending the lives of the unborn against abortion via a handy mnemonic device that uses the acronym of SLED.

As a bonus you should also listen to the agnostic Serrin Foster‘s lecture on the feminist case against abortion.

Bruce Little

We had the pleasure of meeting Dr Little when he came to our church in North Augusta for a conference on “God, Evil, and Suffering”. His teaching on such a touchy subject was extremely insightful. Since it’s something everyone in this world deals with, and the biggest objection to a Christian God, I think everyone should take time to explore this subject.

Now for some people you might just want to bookmark:

Os Guiness

Os is a member of the beer-making family of the same name (which alone makes him worthy of note in my book) and a student of Francis Schaeffer (another awesome pastor). He has worked extensively in the academic and political communities and has

William Lane Craig

Dr. Craig actually lives here in Atlanta4 but speaks all over the world on a wide range of topics. He is known widely as the bane of atheists and in his many debates (literally hundreds) they (that is, the atheists themselves) only credit his opponents with a handful of marginal victories. One of his best lectures is entitled “Religious Epistemology” and while it is a bit heavy it is extremely useful in combating common “God of the gaps” and “religion is merely wish fulfillment” and “you can’t claim to actually know anything of a religious nature”

Greg Koukl

Greg’s lessons on tactics to defend the faith and never read a verse are things I wish every Christian would take to heart. He also co-authored a book with Francis Beckwith (another great Christian) titled “Relativism: Feet firmly planted in mid-air” which gives a great description and prescription for the current age and climate of our culture.

Peter Kreeft

A Catholic philosopher who has a great lesson on ecumenism without compromise (even though I disagree, obviously, with his assertion about the Roman Catholic Church, his approach and focus on healing the body of Christ is, I think, spot-on). He also has many excellent lessons on CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien (particularly the Lord of the Rings saga). One of the best things he’s produced in my opinion, however, is a mock dialog he has with Socrates5.

Gary Habermas

Habermas can almost be compared to a broken record. All of his messages are about the resurrection and it’s historicity and even though that may sound dull and boring, he brings a considerable amount of scholarship to bear on the subject and manges to make it extremely interesting at the same time. Because of his narrow subject matter he manages to cut right to the chase and has been instrumental in convincing hardened skeptics like Anthony Flew that there is indeed truth to what the Bible (and we) proclaim.

Alvin Planginga

One of the foremost Christian philosophers alive today. His material is extremely dense (just ask Beth) but it is also very useful in debate and edifying if you have any questions in the realm of “how do I know what I know” and “can anyone really know anything spiritual?” His series on “Warrant and Proper Function” is absolutely foundational to any study on epistemology.

Ken Myers

Ken is a former NPR reporter who runs a ministry named “Mars Hill Audio”. He recently gave a great lecture at SEBTS on the comprehensive character of Christian discipleship (part 2) where he argues that we, as Christians, need to be more culturally aware and able to, as Isiah says, “understand the age”.

I think I’ll break it here and add more later, enjoy!

  1. I say mostly because there is an age gap in our group so some of the people listed I don’t really consider contemporary anymore 😛 but I digress… []
  2. Since Jeff’s a bit of a charismatic, his list included some pretty lively characters. []
  3. Not that these people haven’t done much, I simply call them one-hit-wonders because I haven’t found a lot from them. What I have found, though, makes me  wish I could. So if you know of any more material from these people, by all means, let me know! []
  4. In fact, he teaches a Sunday School class (The Defenders) at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church. Sadly, people don’t bust down the doors to get into his Sunday School classroom like they do Jimmy Carter. []
  5. That I’m currently unable to find a link to for some reason… []
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Comprehensive Christian Discipleship

I recently came across an excellent sermon series on Christian discipleship, relationship with the culture, and the central calling of the great commission given recently at SEBTS. This series is by Ken Myers, director of Mars Hill Audio. Here are the links to Ken’s sermons, the corresponding interview1, and various other resources by Ken Myers such as a sermon done at 9 Marks Ministries all having to do with faith in culture and Christian discipleship.

The Comprehensive Character of Christian Discipleship – Ken Myers @ SEBTS

The Counter-Cultural Imperative for Christian Disciplers – Ken Myers @ SEBTS

Interview with Ken Myers – Dr. Bruce Little with Ken Myers @ SEBTS

Christians and Culture – Ken Myers @ 9Marks

Questions or comments? I’d love to hear from you!

  1. Contains excellent insights into the forms of communication, particularly in the area of music and television, and how they affect the content of the message and how some forms are better or exclusively suited to convey various types of information. []
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