Summer vacation is squarely in everyone’s rear-view mirror and our children are adjusting to the academic demands of a new school year. By now everyone’s received their initial report card marking their progress over the first grading period. And whether they handed it to you or you received it by mail/email, I’m sure you studied it–line by line–checking off each subject and carefully examining the corresponding grade. “Reading–not bad. Writing–needs some improvement. Arithmetic–nice grade there, and… Diversity Training? What’s that?” If you haven’t heard of diversity training, just give your school board a little time. Unless something is done to stop this, it won’t be long until they bring it to your child’s school.
In the early 1970’s, gay activists took a militant approach with psychiatrists by disrupting meetings at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual conventions for a couple of years until they got what they wanted–removal of homosexuality from the official list of approved psychiatric disorders. Until that time, the fields of psychiatry and psychology held that homosexuality was not only abnormal but treatable, a position based on the previous seventy years of research chronicled in numerous professional journals. The removal of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was based not on scientific evidence but the political activism of a few.
The Latest Battleground in the Culture Wars
In the 1990’s, gay activists set their sights on schools across America. Their vehicle–mandatory diversity training in the classroom using material developed by gay activists. The rationale given for the necessity of this special class was to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) students from harassment from their peers, ignoring evidence that showed they’re bullied no more than any other student. Despite the presence of existing laws and school policies, including Title IX, that already protected all students from abuse, these activists convinced school officials of the need for additional protection as well as diversity training to re-educate the young minds in our classrooms. Though most gay activists publicly denied that their real agenda was to indoctrinate children into accepting homosexual behavior as natural, normal, and healthy, others, such as Daniel Villarreal, author of a major gay blog, admitted, “I and a lot of other people want to indoctrinate, recruit, teach, and expose children to queer sexuality. We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept (homosexuality). In fact, our future depends on it.”
“There are six protected classes in California that cannot be discriminated against, harassed or bullied,” said Pacific Justice Institute Chief Counsel Kevin Snider. “Religion, race/ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, and sexual orientation.” Despite there being six protected classes, diversity training primarily focuses on homosexuality.
In Vallejo, California, school children are forced to watch pro-gay propaganda videos under the guise of “anti-bullying” education. This indoctrination begins in the first grade and continues until the child graduates high school. When your child reaches a certain age, some of these classes include handing out condoms along with ‘teaching’ the actual mechanics of how men have sex with men and women with women. The worst part is that in many districts parents don’t have the choice to opt out their children, nor are they given parental notification when these topics are presented.
The following video presents such a case in which parents requested notification or the opportunity to opt out their child. Instead, the father was hand-cuffed and taken to jail, yes, an American jail. (Just a warning. Though censored, this video contains rough language.)
The Consequences of Homosexual Marriage
Legal Liability of the School District
Despite the push for homosexual indoctrination through diversity training in the classroom, school districts are still legally liable for what they teach. Here’s a link to a publication you may find beneficial should diversity training come to your child’s school: The Legal Liability Associated with Homosexuality Education in Vermont Public Schools.
Another helpful reference: Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, by Jeffrey Satinover, M.D.
This book presents an excellent overview of how gay activists intimidated the American Psychiatric Association into ignoring decades of scientific research and existing psychoanalytic thought regarding homosexuality. Dr. Satinover discusses the research conducted on homosexuality since the 70’s and the supposed discovery of the “gay gene” as well as the impact this research has had on the media and our courts. He cites scientists’ published criticism of these studies and presents how this flawed research really supports the notion that homosexuality is a choice and not genetically determined.
Finally, prayerfully consider running for your district’s school board. As I said earlier, if your district doesn’t already have diversity training, a proposal for such a program will be presented to your school board some time in the next ten years. Only prayer will change our nation.
The Roseto Mystery (Introduction) in Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers is a ‘must-read’ for all Christians who believe in the importance of the community of believers relating on a daily basis as part of the Body of Christ, and the influence of the Church as a major healing force in this world.
In the late 1800 early 1900’s, the people from Roseto Valfortore, Italy immigrated to the United States in search of a better life. A couple of thousand settled in the eastern hills of Pennsylvania and named their city Roseto. In the late 1950’s, Stewart Wolf, a physician from Oklahoma, discovered something amazing about the people. At the time, heart attacks were an epidemic throughout the United States and the leading cause of death for men under the age of sixty-five. This was before cholesterol-lowering drugs and aggressive measures to treat this disease. For the men of Roseto, Wolf found no heart disease for those under sixty-five years of age. For men over sixty-five, the death rate from heart disease was roughly half that of the rest of the country. The death rate from all causes in Roseto was “30 to 35 percent lower than expected.” Furthermore, “there was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime.” For the most part, the people of Roseto “were dying of old age.”
Wolf first examined their diet. Instead of the healthier Mediterranean foods from the old country, they cooked with lard and ate more sweets. “Forty-one percent of their calories came from fat.” Despite battling obesity, heart disease was conspicuously absent. Next, he examined genetics by comparing them to their ‘cousins’ from the old world who settled in other parts of the United States. This proved to be a dead-end. And finally, he considered their location, that maybe something in the water or soil insulated them from disease. But after comparing Rosetans to immigrants in towns nearby, this didn’t provide the answer either.
The Power of Community
One day, in search of an explanation, Wolf strolled through the town and observed Rosetans visiting with one another, stopping to talk on the streets or to chat on front porches. He noticed the “unifying and calming effect” of the church and its central role along with the “extended family clans that underlay the town’s social structure.” Most households had three generations living under the same roof with grandparents highly respected. The “egalitarian ethos of the community” discouraged those with wealth from openly displaying it while the failures of those less successful were covered. “The Rosetans had created a powerful, protective social structure capable of insulating them from the pressures of the modern world.” At the time, the medical community thought of health in terms of genetics or choices about diet and exercise. “No one was used to thinking about health in terms of community.”
The New Testament Church
When I read this story, I’m reminded of the early church (Acts 2:42-47) where believers met daily both in the temple and in homes, devoting themselves to teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer, sharing all things in common and praising God. They lived in community, committed to one another in all areas of life. Contrast this with the church at Corinth, a divided church filled with quarrels and jealousy, bickering over doctrine, among other issues. Things had gotten so bad that Paul had to remind them of the correct way to observe the Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11). He chastised them for celebrating individually, without waiting on one another. At one point, he says, “For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgement on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (or died).” (I Corinthians 11:29-30 NIV) “Recognizing the body of the Lord” is not only about being in right relationship with God. It is also about being in right relationship with one another. When Christ said, “Do this in remembrance of me”, He asked us to remember Him, not as individuals, but as part of a community of believers in right relationship with one another.
The Healing Power of Your Community
So, before you take communion the next time, don’t stop with only examining your relationship with God. Spend some time looking at your relationship with others. Do you need to go to someone and repent? Ask forgiveness? Mend fences? If so, go do it before you partake of the Lord’s Supper. Your health may depend on it.
This coming Father’s Day will be the first I ever celebrate without my father, who died July 1st of last year after a long battle with cancer. Dads are important, as are all men within the community of believers, whether fathers or not. They teach important stuff like what it means to be a man, if you’re a boy, and how delightful and cherished you are, if a girl. When a man reflects the heart of our Heavenly Father, that masculine affirmation gives us the courage to step into the identity God has had for us from the beginning. It clears our vision and straightens our walk. Men are vital to the life of every community.
WHAT IS MASCULINITY?
Genesis 1:27 says, “…In the image of God he created him; male and female…(NIV).” Dr. Larry Crabb of NewWay Ministries says that the writer of Genesis chose the Hebrew word “Zakar” for male. Zakar also means “remember” and, as such, is what’s known as a homophone or a word that is pronounced the same as another word but with different meanings. In addition, a homophone is often used as a pun or play on words that is intended to enrich the reader’s understanding of what is said. Also, in those days, a Zakar was the name of a cabinet member in the king’s court whose primary duty it was to ‘remember what the king said and to remind him of that.’ Apparently, the writer’s intent by using ‘Zakar’ was to say that a man is someone who remembers what God says and has the courage to move into the lives of others with that truth.
ADAM’S FAILURE AS A MAN
In Genesis chapter three, the scriptures strongly suggest that Adam was standing nearby listening to the conversation between the serpent and his wife. In that moment, instead of remembering what God had told him and moving into that situation with the truth, he became passive and surrendered his masculinity. Who knows why? Maybe he felt confused or overwhelmed. After all, this probably was his first experience with temptation. Or maybe he just didn’t know what to do and instead of risking a mistake, he did nothing.
Do you ever feel confused when your wife wants to talk about some of the problems in your marriage or express her feelings about something you’ve done? Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed, not knowing what to do with your teenager who’s out of control? Does your mind go blank when your wife’s in one of those moods and you’ve convinced yourself that whatever you say or do will be wrong? What do you do in those situations? Withdraw? Attack? Shut down? Try to stifle her? Unfortunately, in our culture, we men expect to be the problem-solvers, to have the answers for everything. We rarely ask for directions–whether its to put something together or to reach our destination. And yet, no where in the scriptures do I read that God intended for men to live our lives that way–to know exactly what to say or do in every situation before engaging others.
WHEN ARE YOU THE MOST MASCULINE?
When Jesus walked this earth, He only did what the Father told Him to do (John 8:28-29). He spent time in prayer listening to the Father and, when He got up from that place, He went out and remembered what God said and moved into the lives of others with that truth. This is the picture of masculinity. In His human form, emptied of all heavenly glory, Jesus didn’t have all the answers. He didn’t always know what to say or do. But He spent time with the One who did. I’m the most masculine when I don’t have a clue what to do or say and yet I still move toward my wife or children or others with the truth of what God’s told me, offering myself instead of manufacturing an answer. The truth I share may not be the specific answer to a specific problem, but I move into their lives trusting that when I walk as man, fully masculine, God will meet me there with the answers I so desperately seek. At the time, the only truth I may remember is that God will “never leave me nor forsake me” or that I am to “love (my) wife as Christ loved the Church.” But I hold on to that truth and move toward others.
WHAT IS A MAN?
In this short clip, Dr. Larry Crabb speaks to the importance of reflection, of men asking themselves probing questions to discover what’s in their heart.
What is the Essence of Masculinity?
Men face numerous difficulties trying to parent their children. In this short clip, Dr. Crabb challenges men not to retreat when feeling inadequate but to have the courage to move toward your child.
What are the Challenges for Men Today as Fathers?
A MAN’S DAILY PRAYER
Father, Help me as a man to remember what You’ve said to me in prayer and from your Word, and give me courage to move into the lives of others with Your truth. And despite any uncertainty or confusion on my part, provide me with the strength to give of myself to others–not to withhold or push away–and to trust You will meet me there. Amen
Talk about a tough question that puts you on the spot, especially after having denied Christ three times when it mattered most. Jesus never asked a question to which He didn’t already know the answer. So why ask? Reason–there was something Peter needed to know about himself, about his heart, and asking the tough question was the only way for him to discover the truth. For Jesus, community mattered. He cared enough about Peter to ask the tough questions.
Beginning of the Story
This story really began when Jesus told Peter, “You will disown me three times.” It wasn’t a harsh or condemning statement. Jesus was for Peter. He was on Peter’s side. In fact, immediately after telling him what would happen, Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. (John 14:1, NIV)” But instead of asking Jesus what He saw in him that would lead him to deny knowing Christ, Peter refused to examine his heart, insisting instead that even if the others left he would never do so. And he meant it at the time. Peter thought he knew his own heart–that he truly loved (agaped) Christ enough to make the hard choices in difficult times. “I won’t fail you. I’ll be faithful. I’ll be there for you even if the others aren’t.” Unfortunately, Peter too quickly dismissed Christ’s ‘feedback‘ because he couldn’t see into the blind spots of his heart.
The fact is none of us can see into our own blind spots. That’s part of the reason God placed us within the community of believers we call the Church. We need others to walk along side and to speak truth into our lives with love. The problem is, within the Church, we rarely teach how to give and receive feedback from one another nor do we provide the opportunity for this to happen. You can’t ask the tough questions without some face-to-face time in a community where you feel safe enough to be open and honest.
Who Is In Your Community?
So, who in your community asks you the tough questions? For me, it’s Aaron, my best friend. Many times I don’t like the questions but I know he loves me and that God placed him in my life. The following video shows a great example of asking the tough questions. In it, Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris question Francis Chan about why he’s leaving Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA. At one point, in an effort to force Francis to examine his true motives for leaving, Mark asks, “Is this a discontentedness in your soul that won’t ever be satisfied?” All of us, at times, need feedback–someone to speak truthfully into our lives, into those blind spots that hinder our growth in Christ. So think for a moment. Are you part of a community? And if so, who within your community of believers, your circle of friends, your church–who do you trust enough to ask you the tough questions?
Francis Chan Interviewed by Mark Driscoll and Joshua Harris
He is not Here
“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.” (Matthew 28:5-6, NIV) This is the season to rejoice in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior. The tomb is empty. He’s not here. While this is the Good News, sometimes it leaves me feeling all alone without the flesh and blood body of Christ standing in front of me. But Jesus didn’t leave me alone. Not only did he send the Comforter (Acts 2:4), but he placed me in relationships within a community of believers, the Church. Sometimes I forget that I have a large family that spans the world. Sometimes, I need a reminder.
Celebrate the Resurrection
Easter Sunday 2010, over 1300 of our brothers and sisters in Hungary celebrated the Resurrection in a unique way, they danced before the Lord in the public square, a square that not long ago lay under Soviet rule. They are part of my family, a community of believers whose lives have been radically changed by the Resurrection of Christ Jesus. Enjoy this reminder that you’re not alone.
Resurrection Sunday Dance, Budapest, Hungary
Tomorrow, many groups around the world will celebrate the Resurrection in a similar fashion in their public square. Organized by Up To Faith, thousands of believers in places like the Ukraine, Austria, Barcelona, Hong Kong, Romania, Indonesia, Slovakia, and Budapest have been practicing months for tomorrow’s celebration. Click on Up To Faith to see their practices. Videos of tomorrow’s celebration will be posted at a later date.
Up To Faith Global Dance 2011 – Trailer
The last thing Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew was, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (vs. 28:20, NIV) With Christ in my heart, the Comforter with me, and a community of believers at my side, I’m not alone and neither are you.
This past month, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling in favor of Westboro Baptist Church‘s right to protest at a soldier’s funeral. Over the past several years, I’ve seen videos and news articles of this group’s hate-speech, sign-waving demonstrations primarily directed towards homosexuals and cringed each time, wondering what’s behind this method of presenting the gospel. This can’t be what Christ intended when He said, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News…” (Mark 16:15) And they’re not the only group or individual I’ve seen act in a similar fashion: That is, focus almost exclusively on a particular sin while condemning those committing that sin. When I compare the life of Christ to their actions, something just doesn’t add up.
Out of the Overflow of the Heart the Mouth Speaks
When an individual or church only focuses on one particular sin AND their emotional responses around that sin are consistently filled with anger, outrage and/or hate, this says more about the condition of the person’s heart (Luke 6:45) rather than the severity of the sin they’re attacking. Most of the time, Jesus responded to the lost with compassion (Matthew 9:35-38), not anger. Christ reserved the rough stuff for the religious leaders. There are many in the Church who feel called to speak out against specific sins such as abortion, alcoholism, or domestic violence. But they express a variety of emotions with compassion often leading the way. I’m not concerned with them, only with those who can’t let go of their anger towards a particular sin. This almost always is a red flag that something’s not right with their heart.
What’s Beneath the Anger?
Howard Olsen, a professional counselor with CrossWays Ministries, states that we only experience three negative primary emotions: Pain, Shame, and Fear and that Anger, along with other emotions normally considered negative, is really a secondary emotion. Generally, we become aware of our anger long before other negative feelings as a means to help us regain control of the situation. With pain, shame, and fear, we feel vulnerable and exposed, unable to protect ourselves. Thus with anger, it’s always important to ask the question: What’s beneath the anger? What are the issues (wounds) and emotions I’m trying to avoid by hanging on to my anger? Matthew 7:3 gives us a clue where to start. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own…?”
What Wounds Am I Avoiding?
For example, if I consistently rage against homosexuality, hatefully attacking those committing that sin, maybe what’s simmering beneath the surface is a fear of my own homosexual impulses. Or maybe it’s the shame of past homosexual sins or the painful memories of a molestation at a young age by someone of the same sex. Maybe the homosexuality reminds me of a painful wound that I desperately want to avoid. And instead of pouring out my heart to God like King David did after he sinned, and confessing my faults to those in the Body of Christ, I hide my wounded heart by pointing to the failures of others. I control my behavior by attempting to control yours. And when I do, my wound never heals.
Search Me O God
An unhealed wound blinds us to the condition of our heart and makes it easy to deceive ourselves into believing that we’ve moved past the sin or the traumatic event, past the pain-filled, shameful memories that defile our lives in so many areas. David knew this about himself when he prayed in Psalm 139:23-24 (English Standard Version), “Search me, O God! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me…” He knew that only God saw the truth of what was really inside his heart. So the next time I see a Westboro Baptist Church or other individuals rage against the sins of others, instead of cringing and shaking my head, irritated at the speck in their eyes, I’ll take the opportunity to have a ‘David moment’ and pray, ‘Search me O God and show me my heart and any unhealed wounds hidden inside.’
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