Tag Archives: education

Response-Ability

We heat our house partially with wood, which I love for a number of reasons.  It gives me a good excuse to be out in our 30-acre wood, getting Rocky Balboa style exercise and fresh air while thinning out trees, opening the canopy to sunlight, allowing bushes to flourish, drawing in birds and animals – and saving a little money on utilities as the end result – really feeling like I’m caring for our forest.  

I also collect odd-ball tree stumps, gnarly roots, vine twisted trunks and branches, beaver-gnawed sections of tree, etc.  I keep the tree in the picture below next to our wood-burning stove. I was looking at it one morning as I was stoking the fire, remembering when I cut that tree down.  It was a tree growing along our 600 foot driveway which I keep manicured – I call it Rocky’s Parkway.  I needed to remove this tree to open up around a Dogwood Tree that I wanted to highlight.  I remember that there was nothing unusual about the tree as I looked at it.  But, after I cut it down, I dug around the base to cut it off below ground level.  Because it was on a rather steep slope, it had about 12 inches of leaves piled up around the base.  This is what I found buried in the leaves; it tells the tale of a difficult start in life.  Something had caused this tree, as a sapling, to twist and turn to get up to the sky.  Once it grew out of that difficult path, it straightened up and grew just fine.  

As I looked at this stump that morning, I was reminded of a philosophy that I really believe, called Response-Ability, which says that no matter how you were raised, no matter how difficult your youth, you reach a point in your adulthood when you need to recognize that you have the responsibility and the ability to respond to the world around you in a healthy way, not as your troubled youth might dictate – hence the double entendre in the name ‘Response-Ability’.  Getting there may require help and mentoring from others. But, this tree demonstrates that it is possible. It symbolizes the philosophy of Response-Ability perfectly.

We all come from unique upbringing, some tragic, no doubt. And, it’s easy to develop the attitude that the difficulties we have had to endure somehow give us a pass – an excuse – for how we live as adults. Nothing could be further from the truth. What we’ve gone through can stand as a testimony to help the next generation, but, only by growing beyond our difficult pasts to our own moment of Response-Ability.

Once you have victory over your past, you will have a unique testimony which only God can reveal to you.  Ask Him about it; ask Him to help you be a better person for having gone through what you have, and ask him how you can use your testimony in your personal ministry to people who need to hear just what you can share, just as we see in Revelation 12:11, “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” What you’ve been through will give you a compassion for others going through the same thing when God brings you together.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Introduction to Biblical Apologetics…Shared Unapologetically

That title may seem like a conflict in terminology. But, given that ‘Apologetics’ is defined as ‘making a defense’, it makes more sense that we who believe what the Bible says would share it without apology. But, there is a huge gap in today’s world between sharing and defending our faith.

We need to start by looking at some research done by the Barna Group and Answers in Genesis, the folks who gave us The Creation Museum and The Ark Adventure. By the way, if you have not been to either or both of these Christian sites, you really must. If you care at all about defending our faith in today’s world, it is a trip worth your time, energy and money – and it’s not that expensive. So, go! Take your kids, take your church youth group, take your church’s young parents group, take your church’s Sunday School teachers.

Back to the research project, in which the Barna Group found that 70% of the children of church-going families are leaving the church as soon as they are out on their own.  Yes!  Read that sentence again. SEVENTY PERCENT of children brought up in the church are leaving as soon as they can make those decisions for themselves. So, Answers to Genesis surveyed this group of young adults to find out why. They received a smattering of reasons, but THE most prevalent was that they did not believe the Bible stories they were taught in Sunday School – they did not want to perpetuate the stories that even their teachers didn’t believe. To put an exclamation on that statement, young adults who had been brought up in Sunday School left the church at a higher percentage that those who were just taken to church. (Already Gone by Ken Ham, Britt Beemer, and Todd Hillard – Answers in Genesis)

What that tells us is that it is not enough to simply share Bible stories with our youth. We have to tell them these stories are TRUE and that WE believe they are TRUE. Furthermore, we need to teach that there evidence – real scientific evidence – of these truths. Let me give you a scenario to demonstrate. Let’s say that little Johnny goes to Sunday School and learns about Noah’s Ark. The teacher uses a picture of cute little arks bobbing on the water with cartoon animals sticking their heads out of the windows (we’ve all seen it), and maybe a cute little song about the animals coming 2 by 2.

The next day, Johnny goes to school and shares what he learned with his friends on the playground. Along comes Billy, the playground bully, who teases Johnny for believing such a nonsense story. What does Johnny do? NOTHING! Because nobody told Johnny that the story was true, or even that his teacher believes it to be true. Nobody gave Johnny any clue that there was any real evidence that it is true. We might as well be teaching our children with Aesop’s Fables!

What if we teach these stories as if they are true – because they ARE – and tell our children about the evidence that’s out there. Now, little children may be too young to understand all the science behind that truth. But, we can at least teach them that if there were no world-wide flood, we would not find fish fossils on top of mountains! Then, we can teach them more about the science as they progress to the point that they are ready for that.

We need to teach people at all ages how to defend our faith. Gone are the days when the Bible is just accepted as the ultimate authority. Here’s another example; this one for adults. We live in a day when even most Christians don’t really believe the Biblical account of creation. Face it; it’s true. Most people – even most CHRISTIANS – believe that evolution is real science and that the Bible simply short-cuts the story to 6 days. So, if evolution is true, we’ve had literally eons of animals being born and dying, each generation getting more complex until, voilà, we have man in some primitive form.  OK, here’s a question for you to ask people who believe that: If evolution is true, and eons of generations of animals have come and gone to get us where we are today, then why did Jesus have to die on a cross? Think about that for a minute. Why did Jesus die? To pay our ‘wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23a). Why? Because death was the penalty for sin, for the original sin of Adam and Eve. If there had already been eons of death on earth, then death did not come as a penalty of sin and we have no ‘wages of sin’ to pay. So, Jesus would not have had to die to pay that price for us to save us from our sin.

That is the way we have to teach our Bible classes in a day when everyone questions everything, and there are so many voices competing for our minds and souls.

Protecting Children

I want to tell you a story from when I first became a daddy. Our son was perfect, and my wife and I were thrilled at such a gift! We loved him so much and vowed before God to love him, to protect him and to bring him up in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – as I believe all good Christian parents should do.

When he was old enough to start adventuring about on two feet, I set out to ‘baby proof’ the house. I put the little two-prong protectors in all of the outlets, I put the cabinet drawer and door locks in, I put the little corner protectors on all of the end tables so that he wouldn’t fall and get hurt by the sharp corners – all the things they tell you to do to ‘baby-proof’ a house with a new toddler. When I was done, I turned to my wife and said, “There, our son is safe in this house!” Does that sound familiar to any other daddies out there?

That very same day, I sat down in a rec-room chair and Joshua, still a little unsteady on his feet, toddled over to be picked up. As he approached, he tripped on my big foot and fell into the end table and blood went everywhere! He had split his eyebrow, not on the corner of the table, but on the edge. That was our second trip to the ER with him (the first is a story for another time).

I asked God why He allowed our son to fall and cut himself? The answer I got was that I had determined to make my son’s world safe of my own ability. Of course, the reality was that I could never fully protect him – it was foolish to think that I could.

Our children are never completely safe as long as they are in this world. But, it is incumbent upon us, as parents, to turn our children over to God’s loving protection. Certainly, we should do what is prudent as parents to keep our children safe – but realizing that of our own power, we can never protect our children the way He can. Our son still carries the scar of that moment in his eyebrow, a constant reminder to me to turn my burdens over to God, “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you.” (Psalm 55:22a). “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

The same is true of us as adults. We will never live in a completely safe world. But, if we turn our lives over to Jesus Christ and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, then we will be His children. He will give us the keys to His Kingdom and give us the authority to bind Satan’s demons and loose God’s angels to protect us (Matthew 16:19). As believers, we will also be able to claim the principles of Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Will that protect us from all harm? No! But it will give us the assurance that no matter what we go through, it will be for His glory, and will ultimately be turned to good for us as well as for His Kingdom.

The first step is to recognize our sinful nature and recognize that we need to repent of that, and turn to Jesus Christ. If you have never done that, I urge you to go to PeaceWithGod.net and do it now. Become a child of God today and rely on His unlimited resources, instead your limited resources, to keep you safe from the wiles of the devil. If you would like to discuss that, contact me here RockysRamblings@gmail.com, I’d love to talk with you, pray with you, answer your questions, or help you settle into life as a new Child of God!

Who Am I To Judge Another When I Myself Walk Imperfectly

A follower of Rocky’s Ramblings asked me to share some thoughts on this topic some time back, and I thought it was particularly appropriate to our current national situation, so I’m re-sharing. At the outset, we need to recognize that this theme actually contains two statements: ‘who am I to judge’ and ‘I walk imperfectly. I’m going to separate the two and then pull them back together at the end.

The first part of that statement sounds like the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”  At first glance, Jesus seems to be admonishing us to go about living our lives, turning a blind eye to the spiritual needs of others.  After all, would that not require that we judge them as needing spiritual help?  Is Jesus absolving us of any responsibility for lives falling apart around us – to ‘live and let live’ lest we be guilty of judging?  To answer that question, we must understand that ‘to live and let live’, is more accurately ‘to live and let die’…the very opposite of our Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).  Yes, Jesus does tell us here to ‘not judge’.  But, He was not telling us to simply allow immeasurable mayhem and false teaching to go unchecked – in the spiritual or political realm, in our churches or families.  Clearly, Jesus has a deeper message about judging, which requires that we dig deeper to find it.    

Jesus continues in the very next verse with, “For in the way (emphasis added) you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2)  Drop down a few verses to Matthew 7:6, and see that Jesus, in the same lesson, admonishes us not to give what is holy to dogs and not to throw pearls before swine.  I don’t think he’s talking about tossing valuable jewelry to the family pets or livestock.  So, clearly, we must be able to discern (make a judgment call) as to what or who He is calling dogs and the swine.  Hop on over to John 7:24, also the words of Jesus, “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”  So, Jesus teaches us to ‘judge not’ AND to ‘judge rightly’.  So, it is clearly not as simple as saying that we should never make ‘judgments.’ There are good Biblical reasons to use good discernment – to make judgment calls -at some level.

The second part of that theme, ‘…when I myself walk imperfectly’, sounds a lot like Matthew 7:4, again, the words of Jesus Christ, “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?” At first glimpse it seems to agree with the ‘judge not’ doctrine that we just tagged as wrongly applied. But, here’s a quandry: if we are not to judge, and we are to live and let live (die), then what allows us to judge ourselves as walking imperfectly? What does that even mean? But, that’s a much bigger question, and one for another day.

Let’s go back to Matthew 7:4 and look to the very next verse, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Should we NOT help our brother with the speck in his eye?  Notice that Jesus says, FIRST take the log out of your own eye, THEN you can see to take the speck from your brother’s eye.  What Jesus was actually telling us all through Matthew 7:1-8 is that we SHOULD be working toward helping our brother with their spiritual needs.  But, that begins by cleaning up our own lives, lest we deal with our brother’s as hypocrites.

As Christians, we are to live our lives in accordance to what we say we believe.  In fact, Peter admonishes us by referring back to Leviticus, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:14-16) If we are not striving to do so, we are rightly indicted of hypocrisy when trying to ‘remove the speck’ from our brother’s eye and to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with nonbelievers.  From this perspective, we should take this theme as a challenge to live our lives so that we have proper standing to say, as Paul did in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.”

by Rocky Rockwell, RockysRamblings.com