Monday, January 19, 2009

Who is in Your Life? Reflections from a Study of Isaiah

As one begins to read the book of Isaiah, they are introduced to a story of God's patience being tested to the breaking point. Fed up with the people of Judah, God has made the decision to allow foreign men into their country and to utterly destroy the people of Judah in a hope that they would some day return to Him. This is a decision that had to have troubled God and Isaiah was his messenger to Ahaz, the king of Judah. God sent Isaiah to Ahaz to tell him that yes, hell was coming, but that everything would be fine. At this point, God finds (as if he didn't already know) that Ahaz's trust in God was in word and not need (see Isaiah 7). This refusal of Ahaz to accept the peace that God was attempting to bestow sent God's wrath to a different level and a subsequent worsening of the pain that God was going to allow to be put upon the people of Judah.
As the study of Isaiah goes further we learn that God promises a redeemer to not only the people of Judah, but to all. That redeemer is of course Jesus Christ and no book in the Bible more succinctly sets the table for Christ's coming than Isaiah. Praise God.
There other, less important lessons in this story of Ahaz found in the first part of the book of Isaiah. One of these is one that when I presented it to my Sunday School class of brilliant young adults was debated. That lesson is that when we don't trust God with all aspects of our lives, no matter how small or important it seems to us, that His protection (a.k.a. Christ's intercession for Christians) is lowered from around us and people are allowed into our lives, homes, and affairs that will rip us apart given the chance. Just as God's lowering of protection from around Judah allowed the Assyrians and Syrians to come in and destroy their nation, the same applies to our lives today. When we refuse to trust God with our total care He will remind us that we should (if were lucky).
No more so can this be applied than to the recent financial crisis in our nation. If this hits you wrong, then I am sorry but sometimes we need to be reminded of what our lack of faith is doing to our lives. That being said, if you have/are investing money in the stock market, 401Ks, or other elaborate investments in which you say, here, take my money, do as you please (good or evil) with it for now, and then let me reap the benefits of it later, then you are showing a lack of trust in God and you need to examine your faith (as I do as well). You are essentially saying "God, I know you told me you would care for me but I better follow what the world tells me to do on this one so I can have a happy retirement and send my kids to college." That doesn't sound like trust to me.
We Christians so eagerly and happily hand over differing percentages of our monthly incomes to stock brokers who do God knows what with your money. We fund debauchery!!! When is the last time you checked the faith of the owners of your company that you contribute to keep afloat and get richer. Think for a second about your financial advisers. Have they ever offered to discuss the gospel with you? Have you ever followed up with what foundations, causes, or religious efforts the companies you invest in support? I don't know a great many stock brokers but from what I've seen in their depictions in movies, they aren't the best people in the world. What are you saying to God when you trust someone like that more than Him regarding your financial future? What are you saying to God when you contribute more to a company that is pro-choice (as if you've even checked) than to your church contribution? Need we be reminded that Job rued the day he was born when God lowered his protection from around him?
I am inspired to write this as men close to me have lost millions in recent months. These are holy and good men and when you hear them discuss their losses they do so with a undertone of regret that they may have forgotten what was important. These people that God allowed into their lives have now caused them pain, worry, and heartache and it saddens me to see it. I think to Matthew 25 and I see men's hidden money being spread out to those who already have more than they can count. How sad.
I urge all who read this to evaluate your finances and investments and look at who you are giving your money to. Is it not an idol set up to the god of success and wealth? If not then God bless you for being a good steward of his gifts. If so, look to Jesus' words in the gospel and find in your heart what he expects us wretched sinners to do with the gifts he allows us to receive. Do it before God lowers his protection more. Avoid prosperity gospel and remember that God doesn't want you to be happy financially, He wants you to be happy spiritually. God bless you.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can also apply what you are saying to our children. When was the last time we looked at the government's view about God and religion in the public school? Are they leading our children to God through their "theories" and worldview or teaching our children to ignore Him throughout their entire day while in their institution? Shouldn't we be just as diligent in calling our school boards and asking their position on God and religion in school and what they are actively doing to make sure they are presenting a biblical worldview to our children? Just as we are to be wise stewards of the financial blessings from God, shouldn't we be just as diligent with our most precious earthly blessings, our children? Shouldn't we want our children's time to be filled with the knowledge of God and not have it suppressed? So much is to be lost if a child decides to listen to what he is being taught there and it will be a greater loss than just thousands of dollars, it could be their soul. So many people worry about how are we going to pay for this or that and aren't willing to change their lifestyles. If we did it like our grandparents did, we would save for everything we wanted and wait for those things instead of having the "I want it all right now" attitude. Our culture has raised a bunch of screaming little babies (adults) that throw tantrums at the mere mention of the word wait. That's why credit card debt and loans are so rampant in our society. Live on less than we make and we wouldn't have to put money in the stock market. We do have to be diligent though. We can't just throw our kids in a pool and say swim, I trust that God won't let you drown. You do have to spend some time teaching them proper techniques on how to swim and just one lesson won't get it. It has to be done 4 times a day- Deuteronomy 6:5-9. I know that these scriptures are OT, but,2 Tim 3;16-17. On the financial side, doing a monthly budget and sticking to it is one way we can be better stewards of what we have been given.

Dave Brumley said...

Thanks for your comments Anonymous. I can see and appreciate your view on this and I agree that our children are our most precious resource. I agree totally that we should be involved with what is being taught to our children in school and guarantee that our children are receiving proper instruction. However, at no point am I instructed Biblically to leave my children's Christian learning up to anyone other than my wife and I. In the scriptures you placed in your post, it is a call to parents and the individual Christian, not governmental authority.
It is up to me to ground them in God's word. It is up to me to be the proper example. It is up to me to show them how to lead in a Godless world. It is up to me to show that a trust in God will help them overcome any trial.
It is so simple to look at the gov't and blame them for the decline of society. Why not take a look in our homes? Do we have that open line of communication to find out what our children are learning at school (assuming the father is even home at night to ask those question or not too tired if he is home)? Do we end and begin each day in prayer and devotion to God with our children?
Further, it is so easy to blame the schools when it is our churches failing our children as well. When is the last time your preacher or pastor called you a sinner. When is the last time your preacher admitted to being a sinner? When is the last time you were reminded that no matter what you do or do not do with your children, God's will is going to be done.
My wife and I have made the choice to leave our children in public school at this time. Our reasoning is simple: God has not led us to take them out yet. Rather, God has led us to scripture through dilligent study of his word that tells us that although we may not have things just the way we like them, it is our duty to trust God to take care of our children while at school and to know that as long as we teach them well, they will be fine until elected by God to be used in His service. In the meantime, it is our duty not to question God but rather to show our children through example that yes, if we do find ourselves thrown in a pool of water, he will not let us drown but rather use us to bring the water to Him. Should we drown, it is God's will and all glory be given to Him for providing us a redeemer who though dead in sin, has already done all the necessary acts to save us. Through grace we are saved. Through faith we learn to trust God. We must be careful not to teach our children through example that we can work our way to Heaven. Rather, let's show them what a true trust in God can do for us individually and as a family.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I completely agree with what you are saying about it being a parents responsibility to teach our kids. I guess that was the point of sighting the verses from Deut.6 This way you can guarantee they are only getting a biblical worldview! Not a secular humanistic one. I admit I am a sinner and have no choice than to rely solely on the sacrifice Christ made on the cross for me and I am so grateful for that. Without Him we are all nothing! No amount of "works" will ever change that. I guess I just think we get the cart before the horse when it comes to our children. We want our kids to go to school to be salt and light yet they are unprepared. They can't discern completely between right and wrong yet. Let's take evolution for instance. They know all the time what their parents have said about it, but when it is presented as fact in the classroom, then a seed has been planted and it isn't the one that most Christian parents would want taught. We can take measures all day long to counteract those type of things, but the seed was still planted. There is a time and season for everything and I think we have to give our kids the proper tools before they can ever hope to evangelize to this world. I doubt elementary kids and very few middle school kids have even a clue what evangelizing even means. Sad I know. We as parents have a huge responsiblity to be good stewards of our blessings how ever we choose to educate our kids. Trusting all the while that God will lead them and care for them. It just makes more sense to me that we should give our kids a proper foundation to draw from before we send them into the world to evangelize. Keep up the good work! God bless!

Dave Brumley said...

Thanks for the discussion. That's the reason I have this blog. I think that you get my point about the finances. Trust me, if it was not law to send our children to school and/or we were able to home school we would do so with a heart beat. Instead, we (who note are far from perfect) are trusting God's word that if we trust Him and set a Christian foundation in their lives that "when they are old they will not depart from it.". Remember also, that the Biblical definition of an old child was around 12 years of age. That's a sobering thought (clocks ticking). To me, the most damaging thing my children could see is their father doubting the path he has chosen for this family and asking why must I send my children into this world. I am raising disciples who God already has elected for whatever service he may have in store for them. Regarding the seed of evolution you eluded to; I am a product of both public schooling and Christian rearing. I never have once doubted the fact that there is One Creator.

Anonymous said...

Col 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradtion and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ." 6 hours a day shut up in a classroom (captive)that doesn't allow mention of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour sounds like "rather than on Christ". Shouldn't we want to protect our children from outside philosophies that don't promote Christ? Right, that is the parents job, I know. SO why do we rush them out the door every morning so they can go and learn how to be an atheist. No it doesn't happen overtly, but by Him not being acknowledged for those 6 hours are we condoning that message, therefore sending a conflicting message to our kids about when we can and can't talk about Him, pray to Him, and Praise HiM? I know there are alot of Godly teachers in the system and it's not their fault. They just simply "separate church and state".

Dave Brumley said...

Context, context, context. Colossians 2 is not a call to withdraw from the world. It is a call to live this life in this world while being truly and fully alive in Christ. It is a call to make disciples, true battle tested disciples who, given the opportunity can inform someone of the true knowledge found only in God. Think about Proverbs. It is a letter written to the son of the wisest man who lived. Does he tell his son that if you hide evil men will avoid you. No, he is telling his son that no matter where you go there are people waiting to harm you. How do we make disciples if we never confront those who need to see Jesus. My children see Jesus in me (I hope) & therefore others see Jesus in them. Do you homeschool your children?
Regarding locking our children away for 6 hours allow me to pose a question to you. When was the last time your children spent 6 hours with you without hearing a mention of God or Christ? Now answer this; are you raising an Atheist?

Anonymous said...

We do homeschool by the Grace of God! I am so thankful that my children do have Jesus mentioned anytime of the day and not just limited to in the morning and at night before they go to bed. We weave bible knowledge into every aspect of our child's education. We have Bible as one of our subjects every morning, we teach apologetics for science, and have them write scripture as a hand writing practice. We choose curricula that gives God the glory for all things, if it doesn't we don't use it. So yes we do mention Him throughout the day. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt what kind of worldview they are getting and it's not one that doesn't honor God. I apologize if you took offense to the atheist comment. I wasn't saying you were doing that, just that by not standing up against it seems like Christian families today are condoning it. Matthew 12:30 comes to mind. My original thought from your original post was that why do Christian people worry so much about money and less about what is being fed into our children's minds when we aren't there. It's sad really. We had just rather not do damage control when they get home. I do try to use the bible for my authority. I think it is the safe way. I know that the sterotype of homeschooling is that we lock our kids up and never let them socialize or be Christ-like examples, but that is simply a false assumption. With all there is to do in my community it is rare that we have no place to go or no children for our kids to interact with. And some of those kids go to public school and have no religious background. So our kids don't have to go to public school to get interaction. Also, they have the opportunity to socialize with all age groups not just their own age peers. Peace to you and yours!

Dave Brumley said...

Therein lies the problem with your thoughts. I discussed this with my wife last night and we both agree that it is not the education, worldview, or teachers that we worry about our children being confronted with. More so, it is the children with whom they attend school with. Why, because parents, or lack of parenting, have more of an influence on the kids than anything a teacher may say. Yet, you admit, almost to the point of bragging, that you still allow your kids to interact with worldly non-believers, or as the verse you cited says, "those who are against us." I don't understand that thought process and it makes little to no sense to me.
I recall growing up and going to visit my homeschooled cousins. They were fed Bible and taught to study on a constant basis. Yet, when we went up the road to their friends house one or two participated in smoking cigarettes with the neighbors kids. What was that? Oh yes, that was sin, from homeschooled children none the less.
The truth is, no one teaches our children to sin. Did you sit down and teach your children to talk back, disobey, or hit their siblings? Yet, they still do or have had to be taught not to (please don't deny that). No, of course you did not teach them to do those things (and if you said yes, that you did teach them these things please leave your address so I can report you :) ). Therefore, I don't worry about the school teaching my children how to sin. They were and are born sinners in need of Christ's redemption and blood regardless of where they are schooled or what curriculum they learn from.
I have tried to relate to you the fact that I covet the fact that some are set up to be able to homeschool. That is not the case in our home currently. Happily, God's grace gives me peace and I see the results of our trust in Him when we talk with our children's teachers and peers, view their grades, and communicate with them openly and honestly. If and when the time comes for us to need to homeschool, we trust that God will show us that. That's good enough for me, I hope it is for you.
The original post here was regarding trust in God. Just as you trust God to guard your children when they associate with the unchurched children you mentioned (or do you stand over them the whole time as a mediator) I trust God to care for my children. I hope we can continue our discussion.

Anonymous said...

No, not bragging just stating that just because we don't send our kids to the public school doesn't mean they can't have an influence for good on someone else. I think you misunderstand the point of my posts. It is not to say that my kids are more godly or sinless because we homeschool. They are not!!!!!. I am simply asking why is it that Christian families are so quick to say their goal is to help their kids get to Heaven, yet do little, to nothing about what goes into their minds throughout the day. I agree that parents shoulder a huge burden when raising children. It is just that so many are willing to let someone else do it for them most of the day. You are right that the school doesn't teach them how to sin, but it sure doesn't do anything to teach against it. And it does teach them to deny the existance of Almighty God. Maybe not overtly, but because that is not taught, it's motives are clear. My purpose isn't to condemn any who choose to put their kids in the public system, that's not my job. Praise God! My whole point to even posting at all is a statement you made in your original... "What are you saying to God when you contribute more to a company that is pro-choice (as if you've even checked) than to your church contribution?" What does the pro-choice Planned Parenthood group do, they have an agenda and they take it to our schools. Why are worrying about how we fund our portfolios more than we are about our most precious eartly asset? Why are we so apathetic when those same groups are supported in the place where we send our children? It seems like a double standard and makes little to no sense to me.

Dave Brumley said...

Finally, you have gotten the point. We do check what is going in our children's school and the minute that we find something wrong, we raise a flag and do our Christian duty to alter it. A check to find the days that Planned Parenthood comes to school is exactly what I am talking about. That was the point behind the comment you may have taken exception to. So, let me ask since you are anonymously posting, when was the last time you checked to see where the money you contribute to your portfolio is going (I am assuming you work or your husband does)?
Further, our tax dollars that we are legally required to pay, that's yours' as well as mine, go to fund Planned Parenthood. So what's next? Does Jesus call us to participate in civil disobedience because our gov't funds such a thing. No, Mark 12 teaches us that we are to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." So then what do we do? We stay in his word and we follow the gospel which tells us in that same chapter what God wants from us. He wants all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind. He wants our all and does not set limits as to where we give that to Him. He also wants our children and commands us to go forth and make disciples out of love, not fear.
THe point is, I have no control other than to write my congressman over where my tax dollars go and Christ pretty much made it a non-issue (remember, if Christ paid taxes, which He did -note the story of the coin in the fishes mouth- he funded His own crucifixion). I do have control over where the wages I earn outside of "what is Caesar's" go.
So, to get back to the point of the original post we need to know who we work for and what the money we are investing is going to fund.
Perhaps I didn't make my point strongly enough in the original post. Allow me to clarify: to voluntarily and willfully turn over money to companies/banks/investors who are using that money to fund sin is a sin that is rooted in a lack of trust in God. I will even go as far to say that voluntarily investing in U.S. bonds is now a sin since this is a Post-Christian nation.
Micah 3 speaks of judges, priests, and prophets who are declaring God but only for a price paid by those less fortunate. They then look to God and with a false faith ask God to protect them. God utterly wipes these people out. Not just the judges, priests, and prophets who were doing the most egresous acts, but the very people/citizens who were funding them. How long can we fund sin and still ask or even expect God to withhold His fair and sure justice? Sending my child to public school is not a sin. Voluntarily funding evil is.
Just a side note, we should be careful when describing our children as resources or assets and then discussing homeschooling. Need we be reminded of what happened to the talent of the man who decided to hide his one asset away? A quick read of Matthew 25:24-30 will shed some light on the danger of thinking of our children as assets.
God bless you and keep up the good work. All I am asking is that you trust in God in all aspects of your life. I am trying to and I am far from perfect in doing so. God help us both.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the dicussion, I look forward to your next blog post.

Joy said...

As for your original posting, Paul best explained the problem of setting our hope in riches, when he wrote this to Timothy: "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life" [1 Timothy 6:17-19]. Paul says that our true wealth/worth (treasure) is based on our good works, not money. No, I'm not saying or implying that good works save you, however, if we want to assess our true wealth/ worth as the Lord sees it, then we need to take an assessment of our good works. What kind of asset are we to Him?
As for homeschool or public school, the best we as parents can do regardless of where our children go, is to instill the Word in them. Look at Psalm 119 - "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word." and "I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." If they have the Word in them, they have the answers they need to tackle any situation they may encounter. While our boys are in the beginning stages, they have begun memorizing portions of scripture to "hide in their hearts" and take with them day in and day out no matter where go. My faith is firm that having this asset with them and having it grow on a weekly basis will allow them to confront any situation (whether they attend public/private/homeschool) confidently and boldly knowing they carry the absolute Truth in their hearts.

Dave Brumley said...

Anonymous & Joy, thank you both for your comments and discussion. May we all more carefully examine our trust in God. Joy, well said.