Pastor John, when it comes to giving 10% of my income to a church — my tithe — can I split the money and give, say, 5% to my church and 5% to a non-profit Christian ministry?” What would you say about splitting the tithe?
"Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4) I was thinking about this today as I prepared for a parenting class. Here are some ways that we parents can provoke our children to anger.
The Apostle Paul has a tendency to give us lists of sins. He gives us at least five of them.* At first glance, it feels like he is simply piling it on. But his lists include a recurring structure that brings keen insight into the human condition. He identifies the overarching category of renegade desire, and he typically calls out two expressions of this desire: sexual sin and anger. These are a big deal to Paul because they are a big deal to God.
No one is quite sure where Valentine’s Day comes from. While any specific theory of its origins must be held at arm’s length, most people do agree that the holiday, as we know it today, contains a blend of practices inherited from a pagan Roman festival, fifth-century Christianity, and the Middle Ages.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who was having a hard time equating women’s progress with conscripting them to fight wars. Don’t get me wrong. I believe fathers should value their daughters. I think they should encourage them to do marvelous things. I just also happen to think they should value them as members of the female sex, not pretend that there are no biological, muscle mass differences between them and men.
I have friends I respect whose kids have played (and some who do play) travel ball, and I mean no offense to them by this post. Nor am I categorically condemning their decisions and choices. I am offering these thoughts for parents who are considering whether to put their kids on a “competitive” team, or a “travel-ball” team, or a “tournament” team, or whatever it may be called in your sport and locale.
It seems strange to be writing a blog with advice for young apologists. After all, I still think of myself as young! There are many “seasoned” apologists I turn to for advice and direction that are much older and more experienced than me (don’t worry, dad, I won’t mention any names!). But since I’m turning 40 this May, I do have some insights for younger apologists that I have learned along the way.
Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves—to be a part of a bigger story. To know that there’s more going on than what we can see in our present circumstances. To know that life isn’t just a random series of events, but that there is a plan. There is something that makes sense of all that we see and hear and experience.
There’s nothing wrong with parents wanting their kids to maximize the talents God has given them. I am deeply grateful for the academic opportunities my parents afforded me. I am grateful for my friendly neighborhood, my 401K, my health insurance, and my comfortable financial situation. But does our craving to see our children excel arise out of faithfulness or idolatry? We may think an inflated desire for money or success drives our efforts to maneuver our kids’ lives. Yet I think at the root lies two more subtle idols: comfort and safety.
Evangelicals have debates about racism and ethnic harmony on social media and at special events, but are we ready to be bold enough to confront and discipline men or women who show ethnic partiality in the body of Christ? If we’re serious about fighting the sin of ethnic partiality, also known as racism, in the church, we must readily address it locally and privately.