Should Parents Scrap the Children’s Bible for the Real Thing?

I was asked a question after a speaking engagement this last week that I have never been asked before: “What are your thoughts on children’s Bibles and the comic version of Biblical narratives?  Do you think that trivializes the Scripture or does it help kids understand?”  Like I said, I had never been asked that question before and to be honest, I’d never really given it much thought until last year.

I remember when Ken Ham and his apologetics ministry Answers in Genesis was opening their world class Ark Encounter that they put a heavy emphasis on their desire to move away from childish replicas and illustrations of the Biblical vessel.  Doing so, they said, likened Biblical history to Aesop’s fables or works of mythology.  When kids outgrew believing in silly tales like Medusa sporting snakes for hair, they simultaneously outgrow believing in the truth of the Red Sea parting for Moses.

Personally, my wife and I read from a children’s Bible to our young kids most every night.  But we’ve set up a system to help delineate and distinguish between fiction and fact.  Every night we read two stories.  They know that the first one is their choice of silly fiction – Mickey, or Green Eggs, or Grover and Big Bird.  That is followed by the reading of a true story, taken from their children’s Bible.  I don’t know if that’s the best approach or not, but for believers raising kids in a hostile and increasingly scoffing culture, it’s an important thing for us to think about.

In a recent article called, “How Not to Teach Your Kids the Bible,” John Wells made the excellent point that if all our evening Bible reading is doing is teaching them tales of good morality, we are setting them up for failure.  Elmo teaches about sharing; the Bubble Guppies teach about kindness; Spongebob Squarepants teaches about friendship.  Children being raised by Christians should learn that the Bible is more than just duller versions of those more entertainer virtue teachers.  The Bible conveys the truth that leads our souls to reconciliation with God.  That’s a heck of a lot more significant than Bert sharing his sandwich with Ernie, and our kids should know that.

Wells offers some good thoughts:

Read and talk with your children about the Bible.  Deuteronomy 6:4–9 says to teach our children about the Lord in our homes, when we are traveling, when we lie down at night, and when we get up in the morning. Conversations about God and his Word should be a constant part of our daily interaction with our children.

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Don’t rely on children’s Bibles alone. Get your children in the Scriptures as much as possible. Even the best children’s Bibles are an inferior replacement for the real thing, so employ them only in a supplemental manner and choose only those that focus on the gospel. (Excellent options include The Big Picture Story Bible, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and The Biggest Story.)

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Teach them to think through paragraphs in the Epistles.  Since each paragraph contains a complete thought, read one at a time and help your child think it through. Depending on his or her age, you may need to stop after each sentence to ask questions. Older children may be able to handle two or three paragraphs together. The goal is to learn to comprehend what a biblical author is communicating.

Of course, it is distinctly possible that any correlation between kids who played with plastic Noahs in their bathtubs and the kids who have grown up to walk away from the church is pure coincidence.  But I think my children are worth the extra caution, and if yours are too, let’s at least give this some thought.

Sick: Gay Activist George Takei’s Alleged Sex Assault

He played Sulu years ago on Star Trek.  He plays an anti-Christian bigot on Twitter in real life.

And now, LGBT activist George Takei has found himself caught up in the internal demolition of Hollywood as a cesspool of vile degradation to virtually everyone who gets close to it.  For so long, the glitterati of Hollywood have paraded through award shows, down red carpets, and in front of fawning, adoring cameras as our betters.

For his own part, Takei has built quite a perch of self-perceived moral authority for himself on Twitter, castigating conservatives and Christians whenever the opportunity arises.  Even when that meant lashing out and name-calling a man fighting for his life in the hospital, given that the target was a Republican Congressman (Steve Scalise) Takei was given cover for his hate.

But when the Harvey Weinstein revelations began to rapidly unravel the web of deceit and dark depravity that is (and has been) Hollywood, Takei remained bizarrely silent for the most part.  When the scandal hit a little bit closer to home with fellow gay actor Kevin Spacey admitting to forced sexual assault on a minor, Takei attempted to distance himself from the crimes, explained,

When power is used in a non-consensual situation, it is a wrong.

It’s hard to imagine no matter how far removed from a moral conscience Takei’s lifetime embrace of depravity has left him, that he could manage to tweet those words without feeling just a twinge of guilt given this breaking story from the Hollywood Reporter:

A former model and actor is accusing Star Trek icon George Takei of sexual assault in 1981. The accuser, Scott R. Brunton, who was 23 at the time of the alleged incident, claims that Takei took advantage of him when he was most vulnerable.

The gay Brunton claims that after breaking up with his boyfriend, Takei promised to mentor him and offer him a sounding board.  That sounding board included inviting him up to the actor’s condo for some drinks and groping:

“We have the drink and he asks if I would like another,” Brunton recalls. “And I said sure. So, I have the second one, and then all of a sudden, I begin feeling very disoriented and dizzy, and I thought I was going to pass out. I said I need to sit down and he said sit over here and he had the giant yellow beanbag chair. So I sat down in that and leaned my head back and I must have passed out.”

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“The next thing I remember I was coming to and he had my pants down around my ankles and he was groping my crotch and trying to get my underwear off and feeling me up at the same time, trying to get his hands down my underwear,” Brunton says. “I came to and said, ‘What are you doing?!’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ He goes, ‘You need to relax. I am just trying to make you comfortable. Get comfortable.’ And I said, ‘No. I don’t want to do this.’ And I pushed him off.”

Sick.  Perverted.  Criminal.

Sexual assault is a despicable act that is not okay no matter who is perpetrating it.  And just like conservatives and liberals alike have been demanding that Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama be removed from the ballot if allegations against him prove true, they should both be simultaneously demanding that George Takei be removed from our national consciousness.

They Really Can’t Be Making This Into a Movie, Right?

Sandra Bullock has always been one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood.  “That girl…from the bus” as Frank Costanza famously immortalized her in Seinfeld lore, referring to Bullock’s breakout lead in the blockbuster Speed, has played a litany of endearing roles throughout her career.

It seems she has decided to part with the endearing side of her reputation:

Actress Sandra Bullock has reportedly signed-on to play former Democratic Senator Wendy Davis, better known as “Abortion Barbie,” in a film romanticizing Davis’ 2013 filibuster against pro-life legislation, which ultimately ended in epic failure.

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The film, called Let Her Speak, will reportedly track Davis’ 11-hour filibuster that gained national attention in June of 2013. Davis delayed a pro-life bill to the endless applause of pro-abort Democrats and the media. But the bill became law just a month later and, ironically, the feminist ended up immensely helping Republicans with her failed run for the governorship in 2014, which hinged off the much-ballyhooed filibuster.

First things first: how awful will this movie be?  This isn’t a fascinating story in the least.  It was an ineffective filibuster in a state legislature that wasn’t remarkable for its length or purpose.  No one knows this woman, and those who do aren’t impressed.  She lost her bid for Governor in spectacular, historic fashion.

Further, “Abortion Barbie Goes to Austin” isn’t going to quite move audiences the way “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” did.  Remember that Mr. Smith filibustered the U.S. Senate to oppose corruption, graft, and sleaze.  Ms. Davis filibustered the Texas legislature to support the dismemberment and decapitation of defenseless babies.  Can’t see that storyline becoming an instant classic.

Finally, the mere fact that someone, somewhere thought this would make for a good movie – and the fact that someone as well-respected and seemingly sane (for Hollywood) like Sandra Bullock would agree to participate is more evidence that the far left has absolutely no idea what they are doing politically.  This is so tone deaf to mainstream America that they are essentially begging that mainstream to re-elect Donald Trump.

Seth Mandel put it best when remarking on the upcoming Bullock/Davis flick:

“He’s going to be president forever and maybe we deserve it.”

We Lost the “Gay Wars” Culturally…But Now We Win Spiritually

Looking back on it, I’m not sure how any of us could have honestly thought cultural acceptance of “alternative sexuality,” its embrace of immorality, its futile attempt at rewriting God’s eternal laws of marriage was ever in question.  I’m not suggesting that Christians should not have engaged the culture with the truth about each of those things, but just that perhaps we shouldn’t have expected a worldly society to walk the path of righteousness.

Worldly people do worldly things.  Godless people embrace ungodly things.  With as self-evident as that is, I am really at a loss as to why Christians who had even a tenuous grip on the true character of our once “Christian” nation thought we could win the “gay wars” politically or culturally.

Appealing to the wise counsel of our Founding Fathers who cautioned against betrayal of God’s moral order, and who rightfully observed that without the promotion of Christianity’s virtues in the public square, private morality would collapse, government would grow, and a free society would necessarily disappear, ignored the fact that they were talking to contemporaries who shared a unified worldview.  We are not.  And therefore our appeals were destined to fall on deaf ears.

But just as sure as Christians were destined to lose a worldly culture to the world, we are now positioned stronger than ever to win back souls from the grip of earthly misery into heavenly redemption.  I’m serious.  The darker culture gets – and it’s getting darker by the day – the brighter the Gospel of Christ’s redemption will shine.

Take for instance an insanely powerful testimony by Jaclyn S. Parrish that appeared recently at The Gospel Coalition, spectacularly titled, “I Married a Same-Sex Attracted Man. And I Am Blessed.”  You want to talk about counter-cultural?  You want to talk about standing worldly wisdom on its head?  Jaclyn’s words strike more blows for the truth of Christianity than a million Supreme Court arguments against gay marriage.

Here’s just a sample:

Marriage is an incarnate manifestation of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22–33), a living and breathing argument for the gospel. Nothing less than his grace could empower us to forgive as much as marriage requires (Matt. 18:21–35). Nothing less than a perfectly faithful God could give us courage to trust something as faithless as another human (1 Tim. 2:13). And nothing less than his love could compel us to love as wholly as we must (1 John 4:19).

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But to think, we might have missed it. Without his past sin and present struggle, Sam and I might have plodded through our entire life together and missed the miracle. But because of my husband’s struggle with same-sex attraction, we get to see our marriage for what every Christian marriage is: a wondrous, dangerous, glorious, and thunderous testimony to the greatness of God’s redemption and the goodness of his plan.

I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, not just as an inspiration, but as a call to action.  This is the kind of truth that separates what we have as believers from what the world has to offer.  This is a testimony of freedom verses worldly enslavement to sin.  This is the fulfillment of identity in Christ pitted against the emptiness of identity in fickle lusts.

This is how we fight back against an enemy who already thinks he won – not by futile attempts to dictate real morality on resistant men through legislation, but by offering the better, fuller life to desperate and empty men through our testimony to the truth.

There are good days ahead.

Hey Liberals, If Comedians are Your Spokesmen, Your Ideology is a Joke

One of the most cringe-worthy things to watch is when really smart people – philosophers, scientists, deep thinkers – try their hand at comedy.  It’s so uncomfortable, so unnatural, so painful, their attempts often become fodder for actual comedians.

What’s strange is that those same comedians don’t seem to recognize that the exact same spectacle takes place when they try their hand at deep thinking.  It’s not that they aren’t entitled to having or sharing their own opinions, of course.  It’s the bizarre and inexplicable perception they seem to harbor that their late-night soliloquys represent profound truths that inspire the masses rather than blundering non-sequiturs and clumsy analogies that annoy the masses.

Take Jimmy Kimmel’s recent effort to become our national conscience on healthcare and guns – an effort that disappeared fairly rapidly after his silence regarding Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assaults and the surfacing of videos where Kimmel encouraged females on the street to grab his crotch.

After having set himself up as one with moral authority, Kimmel’s defense for those embarrassing realities of a lifelong comedian was that he’s just a comedian.  It was the old Daily Show Jon Stewart strategy: pretend to be a serious commentator on the news of the day, then when you’re exposed as a fraud, retreat behind the comedy clown mask.

And now, it’s uber-liberal Stephen Colbert’s turn:

Stephen Colbert got serious at the beginning of Monday night’s Late Show broadcast to talk about the recent massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas in which 26 people were killed. Colbert reminded the audience that the largest mass shooting in American history was a little more than a month ago, and frustratingly little has been done to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again…

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Colbert urged against hopelessness and pointed out that not doing anything to affect change isn’t just morally wrong—it’s also unnatural. “Five thousand years ago if your village had a tiger coming into it every day and was eating people, you wouldn’t do nothing. You would move the village, you would build a fence, or you would kill the tiger,” he said. “You wouldn’t say, well, I guess, y’know, someone’s going to get eaten every day because the price of liberty is: tigers.”

Of course this intellectual vapidity earned rousing applause from a studio audience of people whose brains were engaged to analyze the depth crotch-grabbing videos.  Anyone watching with even a modicum of rational thinking quickly realized how Colbert was setting his anti-gun side up for intellectual obliteration.  After all, if your village had a tiger coming into it every day to eat people, Stephen is right – “you wouldn’t do nothing.”  What would you do?

Charles C.W. Cooke answered the obvious:

You’d shoot it.

Well, that’s what a rational person would do.  Just like a rational person would acknowledge that the only thing that caused the evil monster who shot up the Texas church to drop his gun and run was another citizen with a gun.  It wasn’t a sign that said, “No tigers allowed in this village.”

Again, this is why the left should wisely use late-night comedians as their joke tellers who effectively mock the appearance, speech patterns, and mannerisms of conservatives regularly.  But they should never turn the duties and responsibilities of articulating the intellectual rationale of their ideological positions over to men whose critical thinking skills are pretty much confined to the inner workings of the whoopee cushion.

Not Free Speech: Time for a Legislative War on Pornography

In the aftermath of the sexual misconduct accusations against Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, Mark Halperin, Ben Affleck, and about 50 other powerful men in America, thinking people should be making an observation.  A country that is rightfully outraged by their behavior should be scolded and rebuked for mocking Vice President Mike Pence a few months ago when it became public knowledge that he sets boundaries for his behavior in order to respect his wife and guard his marriage.

As it turns out, several of the same Hollywood females who have been victims of dirty old (and young) men would have probably preferred having a man with the personal integrity of Pence as their movie director, co-star, or boss.

But just like now is a great time to acknowledge the wisdom in Pence’s ground rules for marriage, it’s perhaps an even more important time to address the hideous, sin-infested, soul-corrupting, culture-destroying monster that is at the heart of most all these problems: pornography.

Pornography is not harmless and it is not free speech.  It is libelous defamation of the integrity of our fellow human beings, responsible for a corrupted view of sexual dignity that has dire consequences for our safety and well-being as a people.

With research now showing that 90% of children between the ages of 8 and 16 have interacted with pornography online (with 11 being the average age of first exposure), it should be apparent that we are breeding a nightmare.  After all:

There are a few basic themes in pornography: (1) All women at all times want sex from all men; (2) women enjoy all the sexual acts that men perform or demand, and; (3) any woman who does not at first realize this can be easily turned with a little force.

You cannot rationally bemoan the abusive coercion of sex committed by Bill Cosby, the gross sexual intimidation of Bill O’Reilly, and the arrogant sexual overtures of Ben Affleck and simultaneously remain content that those themes are being ingrained in our children’s minds under the guise of free speech.

You cannot march in the streets objecting to campus “rape culture” while simultaneously defending the porn industry as legitimate expression.  Consider:

The prevalence of porn means people are becoming desensitized to it, and are seeking out ever harsher, more violent, and degrading images. Even the porn industry is shocked by how much violence the fans want. As one pornography director put it, “People just want it harder, harder, and harder . . . what are you gonna do next?”

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Robin Morgan’s phrase “pornography is the theory, rape is the practice” captures the link between the production and consumption of pornography and violence against women and children. The point isn’t that porn causes all viewers to sexually abuse others, but that it creates what some researches call “rape culture” by normalizing, legitimizing, and condoning violence against women and children.

Pornography is not legal expression of sexual liberty.  It is an illegitimate expression of sexual licentiousness – the greatest enemy of true liberty.  As a society we have made it illegal to willfully disseminate false speech.  Lies that defame or disparage a person’s good name or reputation are not protected forms of speech.

It is past time that we acknowledge pornography – speech that falsely represents the human form, disparages the character of its victims, deforms the minds and attitudes of its viewers, exploits and enslaves its participants, and breeds pathological dehumanization of nearly half the population – falls under that same category.

If slander, libel, fraud, false advertising, and perjury are forbidden, it is unconscionably absurd that porn isn’t.  It’s time that changed.

Pro-Choice People Seem to Be Really Anti-Choice

It’s always been one of the greatest misnomers in the American lexicon.  For years, those who believe that a pregnant mother should possess the right to have her unborn offspring mutilated and dismembered in the womb have labeled themselves “pro-choice.”  The rationale is that they believe in the “choice” of women to have an abortion if they want one.

When called what, to be fair, many of them are – “pro-abortion” – they come up for air.  They vehemently deny being “for” abortion, many suggesting that they themselves would never have one.  They just believe that all women should have the choice.

Okay, but then why this?

After serving women next door to a now-shuttered abortion business for over 10 years, Angie Thomas and her team at Woman’s New Life Center in New Orleans have seen plenty of ugly behavior from an industry that survives on the destruction of human lives.  But if she thought she’d seen it all at the previous location, Thomas was reminded there’s still more to see just days after her center relocated across a parking lot from a flagship Planned Parenthood in early October.

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A few days before Woman’s New Life Center’s grand opening at the new location Oct. 26, a woman came into the center after having visited Planned Parenthood. Just after she came through the door, a nurse from the abortion chain followed behind her, threatening that Planned Parenthood would tow the woman’s car if she didn’t move it immediately.

In the case of abortion, there are ostensibly two choices, correct?  To abort or to continue the pregnancy.  If your sole motivation is just to ensure that women are legally allowed to make that choice, which is what most Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW spokesmen will say, then why angrily threaten to tow an innocent woman’s car just because she appears to be making the choice to save her child’s life?

Along those lines, why does Planned Parenthood not welcome literature from pro-lifers into their facilities?  Why do they have policies in place to turn ultrasound screens away from pregnant women so they don’t see their unborn daughter before having her life ended?  If you are in favor of women being given a choice between life or death for their unborn baby, why would you oppose providing them the full gamut of information about those two options?

Some might counter that pro-lifers and directors of pregnancy resource centers don’t provide women referrals and information about available abortion options.  Of course they don’t.  Because they don’t believe that a woman (or anyone) should be given the choice whether or not to end the life of another innocent human being.  They are unequivocally and unashamedly pro-life, meaning they are providing information and counseling about one side: the life side.

If the abortion lobby is taking the other side, that’s their prerogative.  But shouldn’t they be honest and state that they are unequivocally and unashamedly pro-abortion?  Given that they’re threatening to tow the cars of any woman passing on their services, it’s not like they’re fooling anybody anyway.

Hillsong Minister Exposes His Heart – May God Forgive Him

On the surface, Carl Lentz is almost a perfect parody of the hip, trendy, mega-church minister that seemingly spends more time in front of his make-up mirror than his Bible, more time consulting stylists than commentaries.  But writing off this pastor-to-the-celebrities of Los Angeles and New York City in such a way would be the textbook definition of judging a book by its cover – something that God warned His prophet Samuel not to do when searching for His chosen king: “For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

In other words, while ministers of the Gospel of Jesus prancing around in “black Nudie jeans and black T-shirts purchased at the hip boutique Oak” aren’t necessarily my cup of tea, the Kingdom of God is more important to me than my tea.  If wearing skinny jeans and Saint Laurent boots (another staple of Lentz’s fashion-conscious approach to ministry) is what brings celebrities like Justin Bieber, Hailey Baldwin, Vanessa Hudgens, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant and a host of other models, stars, and athletes in to Lentz’s Hillsong Church to hear the redemptive power of God’s Word, I’m thrilled.  Because they need to hear it.  We all do.

Unfortunately, last week Lentz went on ABC’s “The View,” and it wasn’t his outward appearance that had true believers in Christ cringing – it was his heart.  Pressed on what is one of the easiest questions to answer for anyone truly seeking the heart of Christ, Lentz fell flat on his face:

“So, it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?” pro-abortion host Joy Behar asked.

Let’s pause here to acknowledge the only appropriate response a man or woman of God gives to this question:

“Joy, sin isn’t something that is determined by a church.  There can’t be a sin in my church that isn’t a sin is someone else’s church.  That kind of understanding of sin leans on our own understanding rather than trusting in God.  At our church, we follow the admonition of Proverbs 3:5-6 and we calibrate our moral compass, our understanding of sin off of the only reliable foundation – God’s word.  And the word tells us unequivocally that human beings bear the image of God Himself, no matter the circumstances of their conception.  As believers in that truth, we certainly recognize it is sinful to take the life of another human made in God’s image.”

But that isn’t how Lentz answered.

Lentz responded: “That’s the kind of conversation we would have finding out your story, where you’re from, what you believe. … I mean, God’s the judge. People have to live to their own convictions. That’s such a broad question, to me, I’m going higher. I want to sit with somebody and say, ‘What do you believe?’”

I have tried – truly tried – to be as generous and charitable in analyzing this response as I possibly can be.  And I sincerely find no way to square any of this with the language of someone whose heart is in line with the heart of God.  This is tragic capitulation, compromise, and confusion packaged in a manner that wrongly claims some sort of moral high ground (i.e., “I’m going higher”).

“So it’s not an open and shut case to you?” Behar asked.  “Some people would say it is,” Lentz responded. “To me, I’m trying to teach people who Jesus is first, and find out their story. Before I start picking and choosing what I think is sin in your life, I’d like to know your name.”

Jesus told us, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45).  In these shocking few seconds, Carl Lentz revealed what his heart is full of – may God forgive him.

There is a reason that Scripture warns, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).  Carl Lentz should acknowledge this warning, repent, and resign.  Not for my sake, not for the cause of the unborn, but for himself.

Because what Lentz demonstrated is not just a frightening willingness to scratch the itching ears of sinful men (2 Timothy 4:4), or a love for human praise more than praise from God (John 12: 43), but he revealed that he is willing to set up stumbling blocks for sinners to remain deceived (1 Corinthians 8:9) rather than open himself up to God to use as a vessel or conduit to convict the hearts of men with eternal Truth (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Carl Lentz was given his moment to defend the “least of these.”  He chose to pass.