Pretty good story by the Orlando Sentinel on R.C. Sproul’s ministry and recent activities (new church facility, founding a Bible College) as they relate to the rising popularity of Calvinism among young evangelicals.
HT: Chris Larson
Archives for July 2010
Last week I reviewed the latest book from Jim Newheiser & Elyse Fitzpatrick, You Never Stop Being a Parent: Thriving in Relationship With Your Adult Children. These two also co-authored When Good Kids Make Bad Choices.
I’m grateful that Pastor Jim was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about their most recent book.
Pastor Jim, thank you very much for being available. There’s a lot of discussion in the secular media about “helicopter parents“. Among Christians, is there a real trend to “over-parenting” in our day?
I want to preface my responses by stating our conviction that the Word of God is our sole authority which we believe to be fully sufficient to teach us how to live in a way that pleases God in all areas of life – including how to relate to our adult kids. These answers are brief. These topics are much more fully developed, with Scriptural exposition, in the book.
One of the most significant problems I have seen among Christian parents is the unwillingness to let go of their kids as they become adults. There is no more sure way to provoke a young adult to anger than to treat him as a child. In the book we seek to establish that the Bible teaches that a young person comes of age at which time he or she is primarily responsible for his or her own life decisions (even if the parents don’t like the decisions being made). On the other hand, if the child is still living under the parents’ roof or dependent upon parental finances, then the parents have the right to have reasonable expectations as a condition for the child continuing to receive support.
Many young adults want full adult privileges and freedoms, while still expecting their parents to provide for their material needs. Once a child is an adult the relationship is by mutual agreement. The child living at home can always choose to leave if he doesn’t like his parents’ rules. The parents likewise are free to force the child to move out if he or she refuses to live according to expectations. On the other hand, if the child who is living in the home is meeting basic expectations, the parent should offer encouragement and avoid micromanaging the child.
What are “reasonable goals” for a parent to seek for their kids?
Parents seek to prepare their children to live as responsible godly adults. Our greatest desire is to see them converted and serving the Lord. Beyond that we long to see them grow in wisdom in the various areas addressed by the book of Proverbs — wisdom in friendship, in speech, in acquiring a skill and working hard, in financial matters, in moral purity, etc. When adult children are living at home they should be there with a clearly defined purpose, rather than aimlessly wasting their time (as many young adults are prone to do). Valid reasons for remaining home could include completing one’s education, establishing a trade or a business, working and saving money for a future marriage or home, etc.
Parents may be forced to distinguish between their ideals for their kids and the minimum expectations they must meet if they are to remain in the home. Adult children living in the home should be working hard (as many hours a week as the parents have to work to provide the house) at either a job and/or their education.
When (by what age) should a parent aim to “launch” their kids into adulthood (to use the metaphor of arrows, Ps. 127:4)? 18? 22? Does it depend?
In Numbers 32:11 the Lord stated that none of the men twenty and above, who followed the unbelieving ten spies rather than Joshua and Caleb, would enter the promised land. This implies that by the age of twenty they were considered adults who were responsible for their own choices and that they should have chosen differently than their parents. So twenty seems like a good starting place. The legal age of adulthood in our culture is eighteen which is probably close enough. There may be cases in which a child is living as an independent adult at a younger age while others are not ready until later. Once a child is “of age” (a legal adult in our culture) the continuation of parental oversight is by mutual consent. The child can choose to leave, even if he is not ready. The parent also is free to send the child out of the home if he is not willing to live according to family rules and expectations.
Is a college student a child or an adult (assuming the typical age, 18-22)? Should a Christian student honor his parents’ wishes in the selection of a major? And what if his parents are non-Christians with ungodly motivations?
I have seen parents who have been over-controlling in their childrens’ education. Sometimes these parents are seeking to live out their frustrated ambitions through their kids. Some parents may place too much pressure on their children to choose a major which leads to worldly wealth, while the child may believe a different field of study would better equip him to serve the Lord. Because the child is going to live with the consequences of his educational decisions for the rest of his life, I think the decision should be primarily his. On the other hand, a wise child will seek and seriously consider the counsel of his parents. Also, the parents aren’t obligated to finance a choice with which they strongly disagree. My advice to them, however, would be to respect their child’s budding adulthood.
How should parents and children handle disagreements in the selection of spouse?
While I believe that the ideal courtship situation will include much wise input from parents on both sides, I am convinced that the final choice of whether to marry and whom to marry rests with the child. I Cor. 7:39 says that a widow may marry whom she will — not whom her father or brother wills. A father may give his daughter a promise ring when she is twelve and have her commit to not ever date or court a young man without her father’s permission, but when she is twenty one she may not believe that she is bound by that commitment. If parents have a wonderful and loving relationship with their young adult they will have a lot of influence on his or her choice of a spouse. If the relationship is bad, they will have little or no influence, no matter what amount of control they believe they should have. We have written an entire chapter on this subject in the book.
What’s your view of parents leaving an inheritance for their kids? What are the dangers? The benefits? What kind of circumstantial factors should be considered? Should inheritance (if any) always be (on principle) equally divided among the children?
Proverbs commends giving an inheritance to our kids (Prov. 13:22), but also warns that inheritances can be squandered (Prov. 20:21). Often the best way we can help our adult kids is to give them some of their inheritance while we are still alive (and when they most need our help). For example, helping them with their education which will lead to a well paying job could be a great inheritance. Some parents help their kids buy their first home. I do not believe that money needs to be doled out with absolute equality. One child may be very well off financially, while another may be suffering from severe health problems or disabilities, and another may be working as a foreign missionary. Or one child may be a substance abusing gambler who would quickly squander any inheritance. We also warn that financial matters are dangerous. If you do choose to treat your children differently, it is important to explain what you are doing and why to the children who receive less.
Thanks again, Pastor Jim.
A great series of posts by C.J. Mahaney on the fact that:
1. Busyness does not mean I am diligent.
2. Busyness does not mean I am faithful.
3. Busyness does not mean I am fruitful.
Part 1: Are You Busy?
Part 2: Confessions of a Busy Procrastinator
Part 3: The Procrastinator Within
Part 4: Just Do It
In posts 2 & 3, Mahaney unpacks an article by Walter Henegar from the Fall 2001 issue of the Journal of Biblical Counseling entitled “Putting Off Procrastination.”
In the 4th post, there’s this fantastic quote:
No unwelcome tasks become any the less unwelcome by putting them off till tomorrow. It is only when they are behind us and done, that we begin to find that there is a sweetness to be tasted afterwards, and that the remembrance of unwelcome duties unhesitatingly done is welcome and pleasant. Accomplished, they are full of blessing, and there is a smile on their faces as they leave us. Undone, they stand threatening and disturbing our tranquility, and hindering our communion with God. If there be lying before you any bit of work from which you shrink, go straight up to it, and do it at once. The only way to get rid of it is to do it.
-Alexander MacLaren (1826–1910), Scottish preacher
That just might go above my computer.
Karl Rove explains the disconnect between Democrats in Congress and the Obama White House, suggesting the current malaise may well extend to 2012. Charles Krauthammer, in an apparent contrast, warns Republicans not to underestimate Obama, who has achieved a string of historic legislative victories (Stimulus, Health Care, Financial Reform). The consequence of these new initiatives is “the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see.” But there’s a larger strategy underway.
I think Krauthammer nails it: Obama may look weak now, but his reelection campaign will be fierce and tough to defeat.
As part of my research for the book I’m writing, I re-listened to a 30-minute message that John Piper gave to those who completed a one-year gap program (post-high school, pre-college). These students were (for the most part) on their way to traditional, four-year colleges and universities. The principles Piper laid out are helpful, I think, for any college or college-bound student. The main thing that jumps out in a day in which students increasingly want to acquire “practical” skills (“When am I going to use this stuff in the real world?”) is the advice that it’s OK if you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life. Seek mainly to become a certain kind of person.
David Sitton is the President of To Every Tribe, a ministry which has been planting churches among unreached people groups of Papua New Guinea and Mexico for many years now. The ministry is led by a distinguished board of directors and three executive officers. As it happens, they are seeking to hire a Director for their Center for Pioneer Church Planting.
To Every Tribe is hosting a conference this October 22-23 entitled Reckless Abandon: For Jesus and The Nations. In light of this conference, and as a means of spreading the word about To Every Tribe, I’ll be posting a three or four part interview with David Sitton. Part 1 was posted last week. Here’s part 2:
David – Thanks for your willingness to talk a bit more.
It’s great that so many read our first interview and some cared enough to respond. I’m glad we can do a Part 2.
For an opening statement, I’d like to reply to Justin Long at The Network for Strategic Missions and his observation (as a comment on your blog) that my definitions of unreached and unevangelized, according to many missiologists are inverted. That’s mostly true. However, Donald McGavran, one of the foremost missiologists of the last 100 years, defined unreached much the same way I do. “Socially isolated away from gospel witness” is one way he put it. But the important point is that I suspect most of our differences are largely in the semantics.
I would still argue that the natural progression for the gospel among unreached people groups is this: They are first unreached, meaning, there is no knowledge or access to the gospel within their culture. Then, as they hear the gospel, some are converted, leaders are trained and a small church is established. At this point, I consider them to be reached, meaning, that Christ and the gospel are now known, embraced (church planted) and accessible in their culture.
But there is still a remaining need for evangelization to be completed among them. This is the third phase, which I like to call reaching. This simply means that the needed evangelization is completed through the efforts of their own national believers (church) and with their own local resources.
At this point is when the pioneer church planter should move on to other unreached people groups. So the process is Unreached – Reached – Reaching.
Many missiologists see the process as Unevangelized – Unreached – Christian.
Here’s the reason I especially don’t like that third category (Christian) very much. It has largely lost its meaning for me because too many statisticians include anyone that claims to be Christian into that category. For example, it is often said that Papua New Guinea is 97.28% Christian. That is complete nonsense to anyone that has spent any amount of time in PNG. When the Christian category stretches its arms so wide as to surround and include Catholics, far-fringe syncretistic cargo cults and sometimes even the Mormons, it completely confuses the true situation of the urgent need for mission in the remote and still unreached places.
Romans 15:17-24 has greatly affected the way I think about the remaining task of mission. Paul explains that he is leaving the region from “Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum (modern day Albania)” because his aim is to preach the gospel, not where Christ is already named. Paul justifies his departure by quoting Isaiah 52:15 – so that “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
Paul says “there is no more place for me to work in these regions”, and so, he turns his attention to Spain which Paul considered to be an “uttermost” region where Christ was still not known.
How could Paul say there was “no more work for him in these regions?” Certainly there were lost people all over that huge swath of territory that still needed to be evangelized. But for the pioneer church planter, Paul’s
job in the region was finished, and he turned his attention to less reached places.
Paul wasn’t saying by his departure that there was no more need for evangelization. He was saying that this territory was now sufficiently reached so that the remaining work of evangelism could be completed by the local believers in the churches he had established.
This is what I understand from Romans 15:
Unreached Peoples are places where Christ has not been named; where people have never been told of him; where there are those who have never heard of him.
Reached (but not completely evangelized) Peoples are places where Christ is already named; the people have been told of him; they have heard of him; Churches are planted; and the remaining need to evangelize the unsaved, within that now reached region, falls to the local believers.
Reaching Peoples are those that, with their own national manpower and local resources, are completing the job of evangelization and missionary mobilization (and sending) themselves.
And the church planting missionary moves on to other unreached places where Christ is still unknown (unreached) to repeat the process.
I want to say clearly, again, much of the difference, I think, among missiologists comes from our having slightly differing definitions. But we all agree on the distressing spiritual condition of the remaining unreached peoples of the world.
I hope that’s not overly tedious, but I wanted to explain why I have come to use these words and definitions.
I was wondering if we could tackle a couple of exegetical questions. How do you understand Matthew 24:14 (“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”) in light of the widespread belief in the imminent return of Christ?
I believe the Lord wants every generation of believers to live under the expectation on an imminent return of Christ. Paul himself, I think, was looking for the return of Jesus in his lifetime (I Thess. 4-5) and even encouraged believers to live in a way that would “speed” its coming (2 Peter 3:12).
As for Matthew 24:14, I take it at its literal face value. It means exactly what it says. When every one of the 17,000 ethnicities (people groups) in the world has the gospel established among them, then Christ will return. The Lord will not have an incomplete crop! Heaven will be gloriously populated with the elect from “every nation, tribe and language group” (Rev. 5:9; 7:9).
Do I live in expectancy of an imminent return of Jesus Christ? I do. Jesus is coming soon. And it’s certainly a lot nearer now than when we first believed (Romans 13:11-12). However, humanly speaking, I know there are thousands of places around the world where the peoples are still desperately unreached and groping around like blind men in the strongholds of hostile spiritual darkness. So from that stand point, I don’t expect Christ to return tonight. But here’s the thing for me; Jesus said three times in Revelation 22 “Surely I am coming soon”; the last prayer of the bible is the church saying in response – “Amen, come Lord Jesus.” So when I pray – “Come, Lord Jesus”, I’m praying that the gospel would speedily go to the ends of the earth; I’m praying for the rapid success of the gospel among unreached peoples; I’m praying for the elect to be quickly drawn in. And when the Lord has gathered in the last portions of his purchased Bride from among the earths peoples, the Lord will split the skies and come for her. And the Lord could make that happen in an instant if he so chooses.
Editorial Note (from Alex Chediak): For a helpful treatment on the issue of the return of Christ (When? How? Could it happen at any moment?) see Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (also on Amazon).
How do you understand Colossians 1:24 (“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”)? Specifically, how does our suffering relate to the extending of Christ’s kingdom?
I tip my hat to John Piper in helping me understand this one. His message a few years ago entitled “Doing Mission when Dying is Gain” is a must listen.
There are two questions that scream out of the Colossians 1:24 text.
Question 1: What is lacking in Christ’s afflictions?
Answer: Absolutely nothing is lacking in its accomplishment of salvation for his people. Salvation is full and free and completely purchased and secured by Christ through his death and resurrection.
Question 2: If there is nothing lacking in the accomplishment of Christ’s afflictions to acquire salvation for his people, then what is lacking (because the verse clearly says that Paul was filling up the lack)? And how can we provide what is lacking?
Answer: The lack in Christ’s afflictions is not in its accomplishment, but in its, personal, specific application to the nations.
Josef T’son has said – “The nations will be won by his (Christ’s) cross and through our crosses.”
I understand that to mean that it’s the cross of Christ that accomplished salvation – But it’s our cross; that is, it’s our joyful enduring of hardship, suffering and martyrdom (maybe) that proves the truth of the cross to hostile nations.
It’s a difficult dynamic to understand at first. But the Ecuador 5 is a great example of how this works. The cross of Christ was proven to be the power of God for salvation for the Auca tribe. The truth of the gospel was confirmed through 5 human crosses when they were slaughtered by the Auca spears.
When a missionary speaks the gospel in love, then meets violent death in joy for this gospel, a miracle sometimes occurs. The eyes of unbelievers are opened. God enables them to understand the significance of the death of Christ, as demonstrated by the missionaries they just killed – And many of them eventually believe in Christ. This is the consistent testimony from the stoning of Stephen to this present day explosion of gospel advance in the most heavily persecuted areas of the world. Persecution and suffering is not a set-back to mission; it’s an incentive for more aggressive gospel witnessing.
I believe that suffering, hardship, persecution and missionary martyrdom is a divine strategy that God intentionally uses – To advance the fame of his name to all nations. Persecutions always advance the gospel more quickly.
Not to belabor the point, but isn’t it interesting that God has a predetermined number of martyrs (Rev 6:11-14) that he has appointed for the ingathering of his predetermined number of lost sheep (John 6:35-40; 44 and John 10:15)?
We talked about “panta ta ethne” (to all the nations – ethnicities) a bit last time. One of the facts that impressed me when I took the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course was that the last 50 years seem to have brought us much closer to the goal. Can you comment on that?
We are, of course, closer to the goal. But the remaining part of the task is the hardest part. We often say at To Every Tribe that the easy-to-reach places have already been reached. The remaining unreached peoples are (often) geographically remote, culturally and linguistically confusing and oftentimes physically hostile to those carrying the gospel.
When could we finish the task? It could happen quickly if a few thousand martyr missionaries would rise up to go; a few thousand financial martyrs would rise up to sacrificially support them and a few thousand Moravian-like prayer martyrs would rise up to intercede for them. This is the kind of revival I’m praying and believing for. The problem is not essentially a manpower or money shortage. The shortage is in the number of missionaries who are willing to “fall into the earth and die” for the greater harvest (John 12:23-25). A lot of seed needs to be buried in order to reap the remaining crop.
Mark Noll and others have noted that world Christianity has taken on a new shape with large sending bases now in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. What effects might this have on pioneer missions of the sort To Every Tribe does? Are you recruiting at all from outside the USA?
The missionary task is not an American effort; and these days, missionaries from the West are among the least effective in the remaining rough and tough places of the world. Pioneer church planting is grueling work and it will not be accomplished over the long haul by soft, fearful, risk-avoiding missionaries. I praise God that he is raising up fully abandoned, martyr witnesses from 2nd and 3rd world peoples; and we want to work with them.
The effect of this cross-cultural work force will only have a positive effect on To Every Tribe. We want to learn how to maximize multi-cultural church planting teams with our brothers from other countries. We want to be on the aggressive front-line of helping them to organize and mobilize for the nations. In our own Center For Pioneer Church Planting, I see near-future multi-cultural partnerships and church planting teams consisting of American, Canadian, Australian, Mexican and Papua New Guinean believers. Part of our vision is to establish missionary training bases in PNG and Mexico in order to launch these church planting teams in the fastest, most contextually relevant and cost effective ways that we can.
Thanks again for your time and your important work.
Thank you, brother, for your interest in our ministry. I pray God’s best blessings on your family and your good work for the gospel. Let’s reconvene for a third conversation sometime.
(To Be Continued…….)