Dr. Christine Hoff Somers is the author of a new book called, “The War Against Boys.” While interviewing her on my weekly radio program, Generations, she told the listening audience that the modern school is dangerous for boys. It is producing boys that are feminized, awkward, rebellious, or otherwise ill-prepared for life. Only 43% of students attending college today are boys, and that number continues to drop. Schools are increasingly designed for girls. Meanwhile, boys are disenfranchised and disinterested. Removing a boy’s unique purpose and preparation in life, setting him in a girl’s world, and then putting him in competition with girls will only produce devastating consequences for our social and economic systems. Actually, it’s already happening. The number of children born without fathers, where the father is nowhere to be found, has risen from 5% to 35% just in the last 30 years.
Paul Tripp teaches at a conference in Hollywood, CA (Reality LA Church).
I had the privilege of sitting under the teaching Paul Tripp this past weekend at a conference called “Back to Heart of Parenting”. It was a great reminder about the power of the Gospel in parenting and Paul Tripp is a fountain of wisdom and I praise God for his ministry.
He’s been blogging a bit more lately, which I love, and a blog he published yesterday is just a great reminder about the “10,000 moments” in our lives that mold and shape us. He writes,
…biblical Christianity, which has the Gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart, simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change. The fact of the matter is that the transforming work of grace is more of a mundane process than it is a series of a few dramatic events. Personal heart and life change is always a process. And where does that process take place? It takes place where you and I live everyday.
Later he adds,
What leads to significant personal change? 10,000 moments of personal insight and conviction, 10,000 moments of humble submission, 10,000 moments of foolishness exposed and wisdom gained, 10,000 moments of sin confessed and sin forsaken, 10,000 moments of courageous faith, 10,000 choice points of obedience, 10,000 times of forsaking the kingdom of self and running toward the kingdom of God, 10,000 moments when we abandon worship of the creation and give ourselves to worship of the Creator. And what makes all of this possible? Relentless, transforming, little-moment grace.
“All the world’s a screen”. At least that’s what my prof from college argues page after page in his book Meaning At The Movies. He also writes, “God made us in his image, and we make movies in ours”. So true. Sometimes the reason why movies (or television shows) are so entertaining to us is because it’s like looking in a mirror. We see our lives, emotions, thoughts, feelings played out before us and it’s very attractive and revealing about our own hearts. For more on this idea, pick up a copy of Meaning At The Movies, but in the meantime I wanted to show you this clip from a recent episode of The Middle that Bethany and I watched with great laughter and appreciation as it revealed a little bit about the human heart and parenting. If you’ve never seen this show, it’s about a “middle” class family in “middle” America. It’s a classic family sitcom, but it’s narrated from the viewpoint of the mom Franki (Patricia Heaton) to give us an insight in to her feelings and thoughts about being a mom and having a family in “the middle”. Here’s the clip:
The rest of the episode goes on to show just how the parents “take back their lives” in a pretty amusing fashion. The furniture in the living room is rearranged just the way mom wants it. The dad and mom are high-fiving every time they “take back” another portion of their lives, be it the kind of pizza they order, taking a parent’s night out with friends, not dropping everything to cater to any one of their kids specific/immediate needs, etc. Bethany and I were just laughing in agreement as the parents actually start to rule the home and not let the kids run the place. The kids of course are completely taken back that their parents are now saying “no” and their efforts to plead with the parents to go back to the way things were before simply creates hilarity throughout.
It all reminded me of a blog I read just this week from Jay Younts of the Shepherd’s Press blog titled “Go to Sleep!”. It’s a critique of a new book that tries to humorously discuss why kids just won’t “go to sleep” and are annoying their tired and frustrated parents. The problem is, as Jay Younts argues, “Children were never intended to be installed as rulers of the universe…”. And often this is exactly what they are in families today, rulers of their own schedules, bed times, toy selection, and the like. But there’s already a ruler of the universe — his name is Jesus. And when children begin to rule their own universe (e.g. parents, household, etc.), and when parents reinforce this sense of dominion in the child it will only frustrate everyone involved. That’s why we need the Gospel. Without the Gospel, Jesus doesn’t rule in our hearts and stake the claim He rightfully owns (paid for by His shed blood) in our homes, children, and families. What we end up with is a war for authority of which each little battle is often won by the children who finally win the war.
By the end of the episode both parents finally “give in” to one of their child’s needs and basically go back to their old ways. The furniture is rearranged to the way it was, the parents drop everything to meet their children’s needs, etc. Honestly, they needed balance in their approach, but it’s still sad that they couldn’t stay committed to ruling their home as the authority in the kid’s lives. In the final scene, Franki (the mom) goes outside to get the mail and another mom with a toddler in a stroller are walking by. The child is obviously not happy about something and you hear the other mom saying “What is it honey? Whatever you need I’ll get it for you.” Franki quickly approaches the mom and says, “Don’t do it! Don’t give him everything he wants!” It was a last ditch effort to keep her dream alive of helping another mom change her ways before it’s too late! The concerned mom just gives Franki an odd look, helps her child, and keeps walking down the sidewalk. As Franki stands there watching them walk away we hear her say “She won’t listen”, as if to say “It’s a lost cause. In the end, the kids win. Parents lose.” You’re right, Franki. If parents keep letting their kids rule the universe, it’ll be a lost cause to try and rule your home. It’s only when parents see that their children were designed for authority and limits that blessing will come.
*UPDATE: Joshua Harris was kind enough to read and link to my post today on his own blog. He’s a very humble man and he’s written some clarifying words on why he’s the “P. Diddy of Christian writers”. Here’s a link to his post.
I own two Joshua Harris books: Not Even a Hint and Stop Dating the Church. One of them is out on loan to someone, and the other I have two hard cover copies of just so I can give one away sometime. Both books are excellent in their subject matter and I regularly recommend them to people. And for that matter, both have great titles and great covers…or at least they used to.
Not Even a Hint is a book on sexual lust. It’s probably one of the best books on the topic both for the Biblical view it presents, and for it’s balance in handling a sensitive subject matter. I will often recommend it to young people, especially the college students I work with because it was in my own college life that I read it for the first time. Unfortunately a few years back I called the local Christian bookstore to find a copy for someone and they had no idea what I was talking about. I said, “I know it’s by Joshua Harris, and I know it’s called Not Even a Hint. I’m looking at my own copy right now”. The nice clerk responded, “Yeah, I don’t see it. Are you sure it’s still in print?” “It’s gotta be there!”, I said. She could probably tell I was annoyed. “The only thing on that subject I see is a book called Sex Is Not the Problem (Lust Is)”, she explained. My jaw dropped. Are you serious? I mean, I get the point, but that’s part of the problem. What college student is going to get comfy at their local Starbucks with that title staring everyone else in the face and basically exposing their own struggle to the entire room? Not a single one I know, that’s for sure.
Bethany informed me tonight that Josh Harris was re-releasing my other favorite book of his Stop Dating the Church under the new title Why Church Matters. Boring. Sounds like a theology book title, and is pretty generic to boot. But it’s not just the title he’s changing, look at that cover (below)! Did we just go back to the early 90’s? Is this some kind of joke? This is hands down (no pun intended) the best book on local church purpose and involvement and now they’re going to lose their audience (which I believe is a younger audience) to the hands of wonder. The font is old, the yellow line is out of place, and the hands…oh, the hands.
Now you might be thinking, “oh come on Shay, don’t judge a book by it’s cover — it’s an age old adage.” I know, I know, and for the most part I agree. It’s just I don’t have time to double check that the book I’m recommending my lust filled, church hating friend has the same title it did when I read it last week. I think Joshua Harris and his marketing team need to stop having second thoughts about each one of their covers and titles. Stop dating your book covers and commit already!
I had the privilege of traveling with my wife last week to Eastern Europe, specifically Czech Republic. It was my first time “overseas”, and Bethany had traveled some in Europe when she got out of high school. Our son stayed home as we thought the travel and time difference would be a bit too much. We missed him greatly, but it was the right move.
The majority of our trip was spent in a town called Malevonice in Czech. Apparently it doesn’t have any meaning in English, so don’t bother trying to figure it out — it’s just a name. It’s a beautiful place and it reminded me a lot Kentucky, mainly because of all the green. The weather was absolutely beautiful. Mostly sunny and in the mid seventies (Fahrenheit), you couldn’t have asked for a more perfect time to visit. Even when the clouds rolled in on Friday morning (shown below), it cleared out by noon and we spent the late afternoon playing football, aka soccer.
You might be wondering what were doing over 6,000 miles from home. We were visiting a missions organization called Josiah Venture. They serve over 11 countries in Eastern Europe and focus on doing youth ministry. Many of our friends have served alongside JV doing summer camps and music tours, so we really wanted to see what they were all about. Our church helped us financially to make the trip over and it was a blessing for Bethany and I to get a better understanding of the work JV is doing. We met some incredible people, ate really good food, and enjoyed attending the JV “Spring Conference” which is for all the missionaries that work with JV across Eastern Europe. All in all there were a total of 207 people attending the conference and it was fun to hear the stories of what God is doing in all of their countries.
Story after story from places like Slovakia, Slovenia, Poland, Latvia, Albania, etc. shared of great faith and sometimes great hardship for the sake of the Gospel. It really opened my eyes to the global work or God of which I had never really experienced before first hand. These evangelists are doing pioneer missionary work in most of these countries, and some of the work is slow and difficult. I tried to think of the hardest ministry challenge I’ve had in the past year and it probably has something to do with who’s getting the donuts and setting up coffee this week…something meaningless. I wish you could hear the story of God’s work in Slovenia the way I heard it this week, from a teary-eyed missionary as he talked of thousands of people getting to hear the Gospel for the first time at an evangelistic outreach event, and the 10+ years of tireless work they have put in to that country with very little fruit. Or the story of the youth rock choir that was started in a small church in Czech, of which 120 unsaved young people came to be a part of it on the first week it met. There were so many students, and the church was so small (about 20 people in the whole church), that they were asking some to leave because the church couldn’t handle the growth.
Bethany and I both felt that just being with these missionaries convicted our hearts of areas in our lives that Christ needs to sanctify, specifically what am I doing with the Truth entrusted to me? It’s one thing to be around good theology (which we are here at home), it’s another thing altogether to apply that theology in practical ways (which I am convicted about) and have the faith to see God work. God is doing a work in my heart right now of which I don’t fully know the ramifications. I can say that no matter what it is, it’s purpose will be to bring God the glory only He deserves. My eyes were opened a little more last week to a world that not only needs to Gospel, but is ready to hear it.
One final story happened after we left to come home. The director of JV, Dave Patty, sent an email to all the conference attendees about something that happened on the train while they were traveling that weekend. Just so you know who he’s talking about, Dr. Erwin Lutzer was the main speaker at the conference and Scott Willis was a special guest. Here’s the account from that email:
On Sunday afternoon Connie and I boarded a train for a quick visit to Prague with Luzters and Willises. Finding their seats, Dr Lutzer and Scott Willis sat down across from two young women who were listening to music on their I-pods. Dr Luzter introduced himself to the gal across from him, found her name was Jana, and asked where she was from. When she said “Moravia”, he replied, “Oh, I’ve just been learning about a group of Moravians who took the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world.”
“What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” she asked.
You can imagine how Luzter enjoyed a question like that! For the next hour and a half he shared that gospel with her. At one point she told how she had fallen off a dock last year onto some rocks, injuring her head, and almost dying. She was in a coma for 12 hours, and experienced leaving her body and looking at herself from across the room.
“I don’t know why I am still alive,” she said.
“Because you are not ready to die”, Lutzer answered. When he asked her if she wanted to pray to receive Christ, she said that she had never prayed before, and asked him to lead her. They did that, right in the train. You could see the change immediately – afterwards she was beaming!
When we all said goodbye to our new sister Jana at the Prague train station she said to Luzter. “Just keep going the same direction. And on behalf of all the people in the world I thank you.”
I have her E-mail contact now and will be working to get her plugged into a fellowship in Prague.