In Moderation?

Over the past few months, I have not been able to get on Defending Contending that much for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I have been very busy with work, working on a professional level exam in the evening, and trying to squeeze in time for family with what little bit of time I have left. Having said that, I wanted to take a few minutes to say that I appreciate those who have been able to contribute and who have commented.

Yet, with the responsibility of sharing with others comes another responsibility that I believe is even more important. This responsibility has been sadly lacking in some of the things that have been shared and I want to clarify a few points so we can move forward. The responsibility of which I speak is that, as true believers, we are called to reflect Jesus Christ in all that we say or do. Our position can be right, but if our disposition is wrong, then we are wrong. Being belligerent, obstinate, hateful, derogatory, or even caustic does not reflect who we are in Christ.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who have walked the path before us. When I think of this passage, I cannot help but wonder what they would say to us if they could read our words or hear what we say to others who are true believers. As but one example, I wonder if they would wince when our words are written or designed to tear strips off of those who believe in salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone yet are not in total agreement with us on some point of doctrine that has nothing to do with our salvation.

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It seems that on a regular basis, we can get sideways with others for a variety of reasons and in the process we forget that part of being in Christ is that we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. This has not always been the case here at Defending Contending, and even I have had to back off and extend an apology to our readers and our commenters for not being gracious. Again, my position may well have been right, but my disposition only inspired others to dive for shelter instead of looking to Jesus Christ.

Too often it seems that we forget the passage in 1 Corinthians 3 where Paul reminded the believers of Corinth that we are not called to be followers of Paul, or Apollos, or Luther, or Calvin, or MacArthur, or Sproul, or Paul Washer, or fill-in-the-blank. When we put our eyes on mere men who are fallible and by no means 100% correct in every single area of their life, we will be disappointed. Not only will we be disappointed, but the world will have reason to wonder as to who really paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. They may well wonder why we spend more time trying to defend points of doctrine over acting, speaking, and listening in ways that are truly glorifying and Christ-honoring.

Recently, we have had posts that were meant to be words of encouragement only for the gloves to come off and comments began to spin out of control. The post was never intended to be anything more than apples of gold in pitchers of silver. The short post got hijacked and it became a stomping ground for people from different ends of the spectrum to parade how they felt. Several posts recently have been such that I cringe when I look back and read them and the comments. I wonder what in the world we are really doing or what we are attempting to do.

Finger-pointing does nothing profitable. Thus I felt this post was necessary to hopefully clear the air. First, let me reiterate that I am unashamedly, first and foremost, a Christ-follower. Second, I hold to the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God that is good for ALL that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Third, I do not have any desire to follow a mere man. Yes, I, myself, have posted comments or quote or even sermons from men like MacArthur, Washer, or Dr. Steve Lawson, but they are men just like me. Others quote Calvin, Luther, Wesley, Sproul, or whoever as though they are to be esteemed to the level of the apostle Paul.

Anybody that cares to take the time to read through more of this blog will know where I have stood for the more than 8 years I have written here at Defending Contending. I have no intention of backing down from defending truth or contending for the faith. Many of you already know that I do not use the term Calvinist to describe myself. Most would be hard pressed to tell you exactly where Mark Escalera stands, but I am willing to share if I am asked. I have no issues standing against false teaching or false teachers. What I do have an issue with is the attitudes that are portrayed at times that are not Christ-like.

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I have almost shared enough for now, but I want to share just a couple more things. Not every reader, nor every person who comments, nor even every person who has been asked to contribute stands on the same ground theologically. While I disagree on various points with each contributor, I still have the final say on the blog and who I invite to write here.

I would kindly ask that each reader remember that ultimately, I am the one that is responsible for Defending Contending and that this is not, nor will it be, a forum for just anybody to come here and defend and contend for what everyone else believes. If a person comes here and desires to share, there are still rules that are not going to change.

If you come to DefCon just for the purpose of trying to change all of our minds on a particular area, then please feel free to start your own blog. We do not mind questions, nor do we mind disagreements. But, writing inflammatory comments or demanding to be heard on one side or another of a particular issue will not be tolerated. If you have a comment that is held in moderation, I do not need 1, 2, 5, or 10 more comments letting me know that your comment is in moderation. I have a busy life and it may not be answered for an hour, a day, or even 2 days.

As for those who write blog posts here at DefCon, I respect each one and each one has added to the mix various points that I appreciate. This is true whether it is George Alvarado’s points on evangelism or apologetics, Manfred’s book reviews or posts on various doctrinal issues, J.L. Pattison’s posts on various topics, or even Sony Elise’s words of encouragement. Each of these individuals are my friends, some closer than others, and I will defend each one of them even if I do not always agree with them with everything they post or will post.

In conclusion, my entire point of the post is to bring us back to the reality that we will all disagree until the Lord takes us home. Then we will quickly come to the understanding that we were not right on everything. However, that will quickly fade as we realize how glorious it is to be worshiping with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To find ourselves standing, kneeling, dancing, waving our hands, stomping our feet with glee, or running the hills of glory will be all worth it in the end when we see Jesus Christ, who ALONE is the author and finisher of our faith. I expect, in the meantime, that we each strive diligently to be gracious to each other so that others will see the reflection of the Master Carpenter.

Encouragement in Parenting – Part 4

We begin with the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-9, and we will consider it in detail later in the article. “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Parents, we have addressed some major concerns that are facing our homes and my prayer is that those who read will give serious and prayerful consideration to what was commanded of the children of Israel. It is in these words that we will find an answer to how we may correct what is missing in our own homes. As I share these thoughts, I address them from my own personal perspective as well as from the problems we have sought to deal with in our home in the raising of our children.

Reading these words it may seem that we have managed to figure out all the answers. You may wonder how we managed to raise five almost perfect children who obeyed us every single time the first time we asked them to do something. You may even be astounded that all five of our children always obeyed us with a heart full of gratitude for parents who loved them enough to raise them to joyfully accept responsibilities no matter how long it took for them to achieve those household chores.

Before you stop reading, let me hasten to assure you this was most definitely NOT a picture of our home. We are not and never were perfect parents. We do not and never have had a perfect home. Further, I can testify that we are the proud parents of five fallible and loveable children; however, they are also five children who were each born with a totally depraved sinful nature. What this means to us is that we are still a work in progress as we learn to depend more and more through the process known as progressive sanctification. What this means to you is that you can hopefully learn from our mistakes as we have had to learn from the lives of others who have gone before us.

My wife and I have been blessed with three boys since conception and two girls that were born in our hearts but that we were not able to add to our home until they were around 2½ years old. Our oldest is now almost 23, married and has a two year old son of his own. He is having to learn to be a parent and he is making mistakes just like his dad did, and his grandfather did before him, all the way back to Adam.

One of my biggest concerns as a young father was whether I would be a good dad to whatever children the Lord gave to our family. Over time that concern became much more than whether I had the ability to provide clothes, food, and whatever wants their little depraved hearts may have desired. My concern turned into something that only became a poignant reminder of the depravity of my own heart when our grandson was born a little over two years ago.

All of a sudden, my role as a parent became far more important than the biological implications. For years I had hoped and prayed that I would learn from my own mistakes and sins before God. I had changed in so many areas, and had learned even from the times of being made to humble myself to the Most High and toward my children when I had been wrong or had handled areas of discipline very wrongly.

Now that I was a grandparent to a very handsome grandson (must take after his grandpa!), I began to realize how much I had actually missed when raising my grandson’s dad – my son.

You see, while I was raising my son and making mistakes, I was also doing something else that I could not truly begin to comprehend until he got married, left home, and started his own family. I had spent almost 20 years training him to be both a husband and a father. It was impossible to go back in time and redo what I should have done from the time he first entered our lives as a cell that then split into two.

Today, I have to watch my son making his own set of mistakes as he raises our grandson. Through this time of watching from afar, due to the distance of where they have made their home as he proudly serves in the United States Air Force, I have learned more and suffered pain in my heart as I recognize over and over how much I let down my grown sons. You see, I had failed to wholeheartedly learn the truths found in the Deuteronomy 6 passage.

Now I am left to wonder if the results of my role as a father will come home to be a blessing in the life of my grandchildren. Or, will the results of the times of my selfishness be a burden to my son as he struggles to learn the things I failed to teach him? Yes, there are many things I taught him. I played ball, helped homeschool him, took him to church, made him sit still as I preached another message, helped instill discipline through the use of chores, but is that all I taught him?

While my son is responsible for his own actions, I also am responsible as his dad to continue to be a godly example and correct areas that are or were lacking my own life. Only when I have been brought to the point where I learn these truths am I now able to not only make things right with him, but also to help encourage him to be the kind of dad that God wants my son to be.

Fathers and husbands, it is at this point that we must rightly consider the words written by Moses through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who alone can guide us into all truth and the truths in this passage will help us to be what we should be. If we fail in our responsibility of being a godly husband and a godly father, then we will have failed most miserably in the most important task we have been given as a parent. If I have only taught my son how to be a man, but failed to teach him how to be a godly man, then I have sinned before God and against my child.

We have mentioned Acts 17:28 where the apostle Paul tells the people at the Aeropagus in Athens that “it is in God that we live, and move, and have our being.” This must be what drives each parent, and especially those of us who are blessed with the privilege and awesome responsibility of being a father. Paul was reiterating much what he had most definitely learned as a child growing up in a religious Jewish home and all that he had learned as a prelude to becoming a Pharisee of Pharisees.

With his forward progress arrested by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, he learned the hard way that “in God we live, and move, and have our being” is much, much more than mere philosophical words. These words became a reality of great spiritual import. Jesus Christ was real and for Paul to be what God required of him, he would have to put these words into practice.

A little over one thousand years prior to Paul learning a valuable lesson and passing it on to his listeners, the wise king Solomon noted in Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” If the whole duty of man is to fear God and keep his commandments, then we must spend the time necessary to learn how to obey this duty.

Moses knew that it would not be easy following and obeying God, but he also knew what it would take in the home in order for families to head in the right direction. First, it must be noted that he directs the attention of his words to the man, the husband, the father of the home. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God had instituted both marriage and the home. The man is to be the spiritual leader of each home, not because he is the brightest or smartest, but because this is what God has ordained.

The divine order is vitally important as we will see throughout our consideration of Deuteronomy 6. Woe to the husband who fails to live up to the expectations that God places on him to be a leader to the lady of the house, the woman God has entrusted to his care. Woe to the father who fails in the role and responsibility given to him by God to train and teach his children the ways of a holy, righteous God.

However, there is great joy that comes when we disregard the poor examples the world seeks to conjure up. Men, as husbands and fathers, we must learn to accept that God has made us to be men. We must learn to take a stand as true believers who are called to true manliness, a manliness that says, “God will be the ultimate head of this home, and I, as the husband and dad, will learn to be to my wife and children an example of Jesus Christ to you.”

Let’s break this passage down further to see how we can do this. But as we do, we must learn to accept that we will not do it perfectly because we are sinful creatures. We can only respond in a way that glorifies God when we are willing to take up this challenge.