Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Needed Vacation

                Recently my family and I took a much needed vacation which is why it has been a little longer since the last newsletter.  You know how everyone comes back from vacation tired and speaks of needing a vacation from the vacation.  Well, we actually made that part of our plan.  We came back a little early to relax and get some things done around the house before it’s time to go back to work.  One of the things I had to do was take my “Herby Blue Ramcharger” (as my son calls it) in to pass emissions and get plates.  Before I took it in I changed the oil and put a new air filter in to make sure it was going to pass.  I put the used oil in a container in the back to take it to the parts store (Yes, I change my own oil among other things).  On my way to get the emissions checked I got pulled over, then I failed emissions because of the gas cap, quick bought a new gas cap and went back to do it again (passed the second time), then trying to get to the doctor for a 3:30 appointment the used oil container spilled all over my vehicle.  I have to admit I kept going over my day thinking it was top 10 in worst days of my life.
                In the end I realized it wasn’t even close.  I’ve had much worse days.  I kept looking at the oil all over the floor and realized it wasn’t on the driver’s side, so at least it wasn’t getting on my shoes.  My truck did pass emissions and with a little power washing on the inside it will be just fine.  My wife ended up cooking some great chicken.  Last, I am still on vacation and tomorrow I will get all of that fixed up. 
                So why am I writing this.  I have had those days in youth ministry.  Days where I go home and if I was honest I would curl up in a fetal position or cry on my wife’s shoulder like a little baby.  More often than not if I think about the day and the things that went wrong there is a silver lining somewhere.  Things didn’t go quit as bad as I thought or at worst I learned some lessons that will help me in the future.  Sure, I feel like quitting, but if I just sleep on it for one night and get back at it the next day things begin to take care of themselves and after a couple of days or weeks it all gets worked out.  God is faithful and if we continue to work for His glory and trust in His provision it will work out.

The Boundaries of Truth

                I have two dogs, a Black Lab and a golden Retriever.  The lab we have had since the time it was a pup.  He now weighs close to 100lbs.  When he was a pup we had to lay down some boundaries.  There were certain things we wanted Crash (the lab) to do and not do.  There were also certain things we wanted Crash to believe.  For instance it was important for Crash to believe that I was the alpha male.  In order for me to train Crash he needed to know that I was the boss.  What crash believed was equally if not more important than his actions.  If Crash rightly believed I was the boss, I could teach and train him.  If He believed I was abusive and would do harm to him he might be obedient, but at some point it is likely that he would strike back.  He might attack me, or worse, someone in my family.  If he believed he could do whatever he wanted with no consequences, he would be untrainable.  What he believes is important.  What students believe is important.  Leaving them to find truth on their own while trying to get them to live moral lives is like training a dog that doesn’t believe there are consequences for disobedience and rewards for obedience.  I realize the analogy breaks down when taken too far.  I am not saying students are dogs nor am I saying that we need to train students in the exact same way we need to train dogs.
As it applies to students, some have taken the approach that orthodoxy is not really that important.   Instead praxis is much more important.  Words like Atonement or trinity have become the answer to trivia questions rather than important theological truths that must be taught to God’s people.  As teachers and pastors to students we have a high calling to help students find truth, understand truth, and believe truth.  Though some would say truth is subject to opinion, it is relative to one’s own experience, or at the very least it is flexible; it is not any of those things, truth is reality.  Orthodoxy could be defined as believing the essential truths of the Christian faith.
If we start with the premise that Scripture is true we must also conclude that teaching good doctrine (I would define that as what is orthodox) is of the utmost importance:
·         Titus 1:9 He must whold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in xsound5 doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
·         1 Timothy 1:3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not hto teach any different doctrine,
·         Ephesians 4:11-14 And mhe gave the napostles, the prophets, the oevangelists, the ppastors and teachers,3 12 qto equip the saints for the work of ministry, for rbuilding up sthe body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to tthe unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, uto mature manhood,4 to the measure of the stature of vthe fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, wtossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in xdeceitful schemes.[1]
·         Romans 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles xcontrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; yavoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but ztheir own appetites,5 and aby smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
·         John 4:23 But bthe hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father cin spirit and dtruth, for the Father eis seeking such people to worship him.
·         John 8:32 …and you will dknow the truth, and the truth ewill set you free.”
·         John 17;17-19  Sanctify them2 in the truth; myour word is truth. 18 nAs you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And ofor their sake pI consecrate myself,3 that they also qmay be sanctified4 in truth.
The list goes on, truth and doctrine are weaved throughout scripture.  Teaching Orthodoxy is an essential part of our jobs as people who love Jesus and love students.  That means helping students understand the boundaries of the Christian faith.  Certainly we cannot know all truth regarding God or even come to the same conclusion on every doctrine found in Scripture.  What we can do is teach the core essential truths of the Christian faith.  Those truths are defined for us in key scriptures like 1 Corinthians 15, Phillipians 2, and Colossians 1.