Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What This Means

It is no overstatement that I am shocked at the outcome of this week’s election. I simply could not have imagined that the American people, in this country that I love and admire, could possibly have given four more years to a man who embodies the things which conservatives detest, while at the same time failing to deliver on the promises he made to his liberal constituency. In short, he has been a failed president – he has driven our country deeper into debt, division, and denial. And yet half the country wants more of the same. What does that say about the state of our national knowledge and core beliefs?

God showed us in the book of Exodus how He led His people into captivity, and placed them under an evil and oppressive king. Things got so bad that the king and his government decreed the legal killing of Israelite children, because their lives were an inconvenience to him. Does this sound familiar? It is analogous to our American society today, where we endure evil laws which have allowed the murder of 65 million innocent babies over the last 40 years. I believe that, just as He did for the Israelites in Egypt, God allows us to remain oppressed, and that He witnesses the death of innocent children by abortion in order to teach us a lesson. We need to return to Him - that is what He desires, and what He wants us to learn. Our politics and our morals are getting worse. It is time for a revival and repentance, and for us to ask for deliverance from our God, not from our politicians. I believe that God has given us today's leaders with the purpose of driving some of us to our knees. I want to be one of those people.

To that end, I am more resolved than ever to live my life in a direction that moves against the cultural current, and to unashamedly tell others about a better way - God's way. Here are three ways to get started:

1) Remember God – Politicians are not the ultimate thing to cheer for or to rely upon – remember, Jesus Christ is our Savior. Go to church, read your Bible, pray together as a family, rededicate your life to the Lord. The pundits tell us that the way to fix things is to have the “Republicans expand their demographics”. I say that this solution is wrong-headed, compared to the need for people to draw closer to God. He guides elections and He provides the blessings to nations.

2) Dump The Media – I believe that the fourth estate - the media - is now more powerful than the Democrat or Republican party. One need only look at the protection they gave to "their" candidate on Benghazi these past two months. We have seen false reporting and bias, even during the presidential debates. The media can now "make" a president if they wish to do so. How do we fight this? It's simple - stop funding them. Call your cable or satellite company and cancel your service. Get your news from sources that support godly principles and equity. Do things as a family without the need for a television. It's a big change - and it can have a huge impact.

3) Stand Up and Proclaim What Is Right – It’s time to take issues such as abortion and gay marriage out of our “blind spot” and learn to stand up and defend godly principles on these subjects. It is quite clear that racism is still a problem in this nation - 93% of black Americans voted for Barack Obama. This number is telling, because it means that many, many people in the Christian south cast their vote for a man because of the color of his skin - completely ignoring his anti-Christian policies. This is wrong - it is the very definition of racism. It is time to bring this into the light. And it is time for the rest of us to stand up for these same godly principles, to be vocal, and to make a difference.

I don't want to leave a legacy like that of the ungrateful Israelites who grumbled and complained to Moses because they didn't have their entitlement of water and food. They would rather have returned to their oppressors and lived again as slaves, as long as someone was there to fill their bellies. Instead, I want to be known for having the attitude of Moses, who stood up to Pharaoh and received God's blessing to lead His people out of captivity. It's time to grow up some more, to seek the Lord's guidance and direction, and to set out resolutely on the journey that He sets before us.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Now Imagine A Voting Booth Instead of a Chicken Sandwich At The End of That Line

My daughter works at the local Chick-fil-A in our hometown.  Yesterday was nothing short of an amazing experience for her.

The day started with her receiving a frantic phone call early in the morning from her store manager, asking if she could come in seven hours early and work a double shift.  She ended up working thirteen hours yesterday.  People were still eating in the store an hour after closing time.

Her store typically grosses $12,000 for a Wednesday.  Before yesterday, their all-time record was $17,000.  The final tally?  The store took in $29,860 in one day - easily surpassing their old record before the dinner rush had even started.

During her shift, she noticed that people were polite, patient, and kind.  They weren't there simply to get food, as much as they were clearly in line to make a statement.  Occasionally, the entire restaurant would break out in applause in support of the employees.  One protester showed up carrying a sign, but left after a short time, being overwhelmed in numbers.  There were no violent actions taken or words spoken to this lonesome soul.  Perhaps everyone in line believed in his right to free speech!

Our family decided to support the effort by arriving at the store for an early dinner, where we found the line stretched outside, seventy-five feet beyond the front door.  That line went into the store and snaked around a 150-foot loop before approaching the order counter.  When we got there, it started to rain, but not one person standing outside decided to leave.  One manager was outside with us, and warned that it was likely that they would run out of chicken before we placed our order.  Again, not a single person stepped out of line to go elsewhere.  There was a purpose to this event.  And while we were making our way through the line (incredibly, it only took 25 minutes to complete the whole circuit, and there was a clean table waiting for us when we received our food), we chatted, joked and made new friends in line.  There was no feeling of hurry or dissatisfaction.  Instead, it felt like we were there for a reason.  We were showing our support for the right to free speech and the right to practice our own private religious beliefs.

And I couldn't help thinking - what if there were a voting booth at the end of this line, instead of a chicken sandwich?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Sharks And The City"

It’s no secret that I don’t buy into the “theory” of evolution – except to admit that it is indeed a theory. It certainly hasn’t met the test of becoming a scientific law, even though modern science winks and tells us that…(whisper)…it really has.

Today, an article was published by AFP News Agency (that’s in France) entitled, “World-first hybrid shark found off Australia”. In this “news” story, they tell of a shark found near Australia which appears to be a breed combining two separate species of sharks. While very similar in size and appearance, the Australian black-tip shark is supposed to only tolerate warmer climates, while the common black-tip shark is found farther south and survives in cooler environments (that is, closer to Antarctica). What they found were at least 57 sharks in the warmer waters which had hybrid genetics from both breeds of shark. Put simply, at one time, some Australian sharks mated with some non-Australian sharks and they swam north, to be found in the warmer climate. In theory, these hybrid sharks might have the genetics in place to survive a wider range of temperatures (though nowhere in the article do they actually prove that this is true).

The writer of the article seems to have fallen completely for the modern evolution argument, and makes some very serious assumptions and errors. I feel compelled to point these out, because…hey…no one in the news world seems to challenge the modern “scientific method”. Here are some excerpts from the article, and my responses:

First – the title says “World-first hybrid shark”, but is that really the case? What should have been written is that these are the first to be discovered. The article actually later does say (near the bottom) that more than one generation of hybrid shark was found, and that testing could be done to determine if this phenomenon had been going on undetected for some time. But the title doesn’t really lead you to believe that, does it? It’s meant to be a little sensationalistic.

Second, the author says that this finding is “a potential sign the predators were adapting to cope with climate change”. Well, that is a real stretch. It implies that these sharks met each other at some halfway point, with knowledge of each other’s differing temperature capabilities, and struck a bargain. Something like this - “Hello, fellow Chondrichthyes! We sharks are all aware of the impending global warming crisis. You guys down south seem to be able survive at a wider variety of temps. Doesn’t it make sense that, maybe if we interbred, we might be able to transfer some of that temperature tolerance into our own genetic code? Then we sharks up north would be better prepared for what’s ahead!  Just sayin'!” Um, I’m sorry, but I just don’t think sharks are that smart. What is more likely is that some northern sharks were down south at the same time that some southern sharks were up north, and they had a little “shark party”. Remember, their brains are not supposed to be very big, right?

Third, the researcher in the article tells us that “If it (the Australian shark) hybridises with the common species it can effectively shift its range further south into cooler waters, so the effect of this hybridising is a range expansion”. But isn’t that the reverse of the desired trait? If the earth is warming, why would they want to be able to expand their range into cooler waters? The researcher didn’t think through this statement when he made the claim attaching all of this behavior to sharks responding to global warming.

Fourth, the lead researcher for the discovery said, “This is evolution in action.” Again, I have to say, “No”. There is no evolving to a higher form that occurred here. Sharks down south already had the enhanced cold-tolerance. The mating of the two species simply transferred a trait that already existed in the species to a new hybrid. That is no different than breeding a curly-haired poodle with a straight-haired Yorkshire terrier in order to get a playful dog that doesn’t shed. Dog breeders do that all the time, but no one calls it “evolution”. It is simply breeding within species to express certain desired traits. Man has been breeding animals for this purpose...since the Creation.

Fifth, they write, “It means the Australian black-tip could be adapting to ensure its survival as sea temperatures change because of global warming.” What a leap toward the author’s conclusion – global warming! But let me ask - if “survival of the fittest” were truly in play here, wouldn’t it make more sense for the more temperature-tolerant shark to just wait around for the other sharks to die out when the environment becomes warmer? If the sharks are so intelligent about this whole thing, why would the hardier shark lend his genes to the weaker breed at all? The desired trait is already in place in the southern sharks. Why not just let things be, and move into the Australian waters later when the weak breed dies out?  The researchers are attributing intelligence to the shark's behavior that is simply not possible.

Finally, I have to ask: What prevents the Australian shark from “adapting” by swimming a couple of hundred miles south (away from the equator) every hundred years or so (assuming the steady “global warming” theory is real)? Again, if they are so smart, this seems like a pretty viable solution – and much more believable than sharks having a genetics discussion and striking a bargain over some social wine and caviar.

Sigh…I read these things, and I wonder, “Does anyone else cry out for a little truth in the scientific process?” I think I was raised in a pretty rigorous classroom that taught the scientific method well. But articles like this tell me that our world is moving away from what makes sense…to a place where men seek to please their own itching ears. Hmmm…where have I heard that before?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who Should Set Education Standards?

In a rare moment this morning, I read a newspaper article in which I found myself agreeing with President Barack Obama.  Today’s newspaper article notes how the President wants to give each individual state the ability to override the “No Child Left Behind” laws.  These laws, in place since President Bush signed them in 2002, mandate a federal requirement for individual student testing at the state level.  The standards are left (somewhat) to the states to create.  In essence, they require “bubble tests and dumbed-down standards that are based on arbitrary standards of proficiency” (not my words, but actual words from  A great deal of time is spent getting every student up to the same basic level of proficiency, often at the expense of exceptional students, who are not allowed to progress at a rate which matches their ability.  Said more succinctly, the system “dumbs down” education standards to a lower level, in the hope that every student will be deemed “successful”.  I have often called “No Child Left Behind” a misnomer for “No Child Allowed to Get Ahead”.

Without a doubt, every student is different.  And let’s face the fact that some students are more proficient than others.  A system should be tailored both to help the lagging, and simultaneously allow the proficient to advance at an accelerated rate.

”No Child” is one of the reasons that our family has been homeschooling for these past eight years.  At a time when our second child was going into first grade in public school, we consulted with the school principal and teachers, who told us that their goal was to get the other twenty-four students in his class to an identical level by the end of the school year – a level that our child had already achieved before classes had even begun.  Consequently, they proposed that our child would likely be put out in the hall during class time, armed with some “advanced” worksheets to work by himself (a story I love to recall when people tell me that public school is so much better for socialization than homeschooling!).  It’s just one more example of godly, well-intentioned public schoolteachers trying to do the right thing, but whose hands are tied by a federal mandate over which they have no control.  Our elementary school principal, in a God-ordained moment, actually recommended that we home educate all of our children.  In a leap of faith, we did just that, and we have looked on that day as a watershed moment in our family history.

I have attempted to find an exact measure of where the United States high-school ranking stood among developed countries in 2002 versus today, in an effort to see exactly how “No Child Left Behind” affected the relative quality of education.  I’m unable to find the comparison (so far).  I wonder if it is because no one wants to talk about it.  To be sure, US education in science and reading was scored as average this last year, and we received a “below average” in mathematics.  All of these are far worse than we were ranked when I was in public school.  Bottom line – the relative quality of US education is getting worse, not better.  Federal and state oversight is not succeeding.

Moving from a federal mandate on schooling to a state viewpoint is one thing.  I’m very much in favor of the idea of increased power at the state level on certain freedoms, and less from the federal viewpoint.  It invokes a spirit of creativity and competition – no state wants to be ranked “number 50” in any category.  But in my opinion, it still does not go far enough.  I am fully of the opinion that family-based education is the best way to ensure children receive the best and most directed method of instruction.  Wherever possible (and I realize that it is not an option for every family), homeschooling succeeds because it permits the low student-to-teacher-ratio, individual tailoring, and creative student adjustment required to bring students along at a pace that matches their abilities.  Moreover, as a Christian homeschooler, it allows my wife and I to positively teach God’s laws and ways as the fundamental underpinning, just as He commands in Deuteronomy 6:7-9, when we are told to “Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

In our eight-year journey, we have come more and more to the conclusion that neither the federal government nor the state government will have any influence over our children’s education.  Though our children are learning math, science and history, it is through the worldview lens that my wife and I choose for them, and the one that we believe God would have for their education.  Again, put in very simple terms, it is the parents who ultimately should have that authority.  And fortunately for us in the United States, we still do have that authority over our children, as homeschooling is still legal (and a growing movement) in this nation!  But I worry about the day when this option might be removed from us, and the concept of state-led or federal-led education are our only options.  Some countries have already adopted the stance that parents cannot determine what their children learn, and so have outlawed home education in favor of a state-led platform only.  Were that to ever happen in this country, I would fight it with all my being, to the point of leaving our country, if necessary.  The state will never have my children.  Again, fortunately, home education is on the rise in this nation, and the results have been nothing short of excellent.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

I haven’t subscribed to cable television since 1987. That is nearly twenty-five years of avoiding such programs as The Sopranos, Sex and the City, and…..well, I don’t know what, because I never watch cable (except when our family is traveling, and the kids like to watch Iron Chef in the hotel room). Part of the reason I’ve avoided cable is that I can’t bring myself to pay for television. But the biggest motive is that I can’t bring cable programming into my house with a clear conscience. I know this opinion is not shared by everyone, but I am grateful for the time it has given me to pursue other interests. And I am deeply thankful that my children are largely unfamiliar with what is presented by cable or satellite.

I can’t seem to escape from cable at the workplace, though. Our office installed television monitors in various locations a couple of years ago and leaves them tuned all day to news stations. Non-stop talking heads. Seemingly ignorant, arrogant, opinionated “newscasters” who scare up stories, state falsehoods without reservation, and give their mostly liberal opinions as if they were reporting fact. Chris Matthews is my least favorite. He can accuse George Bush of something with obvious venom and hatred, and two years later praise Barack Obama for his leadership when he does the very same thing. I sit there and wonder – “Does anybody else notice what I just saw? Does anybody care? What happened to the desire for truth and unbiased reporting?”

Over the last week, I’ve been amazed at the coverage of the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan. I know a little bit about nuclear power, and I did some study on the Japanese reactor design shortly after the accident. But what I saw from the newscasters and their guests was often incorrect, and there were several cases where two non-related facts were juxtaposed in order to make the situation appear much more dangerous than it really was - such as discussing the hydrogen explosions directly in conjunction with the need for a twenty-mile evacuation radius. These events are only loosely related – the hydrogen explosion was non-nuclear, and was largely expected when the engineers vented a buildup of gas in the reactor core, while the twenty-mile evacuation had to do with a future, possible safety zone in the event of a core meltdown. Though these items are unrelated in time and causality, the news channels made it seem as if they were directly related.

It was clear to me this week that the news channels and websites are not attempting to promote awareness or to disseminate facts. They have one major intent in mind – to promote fear and intrigue in the hearts of people who are watching or reading. And they do this so that ignorant people will come back blindly for more. No big revelation, I know, but the daily news is not about truth.

Here’s an example, with some basic questions. I refer to this article, written by the Associated Press. Some extracts:

1) The article opens with these words – “Japan tried high-pressure water cannons, fire trucks and even helicopters that dropped batches of seawater in increasingly frantic attempts Thursday to cool an overheated nuclear complex as U.S. officials warned the situation was deteriorating.” I have to point out the use of the phrase “increasingly frantic”. How exactly do the authors measure this? Aren’t Japanese officials just using every practical means at their disposal to be sure to get coolant to the core? Have the authors witnessed real panic in someone’s behavior? Is the dispatch of a helicopter made for transporting and dumping water on forest fires a “frantic” move? In this instance, shouldn’t those in charge be making quick decisions that more than compensate for the need? Is that frantic or overreactive? No, they should be doing everything possible – and I believe they are.

2) “Defense Minister Toshifumi Kitazawa told reporters that emergency workers had no choice but to try the water dumps before it was too late”. Okay, taken as-is, this sentence is probably true, but it is stated in such a way that it again implies desperation. If I were to drink a gallon of iced tea, I would have “no choice” but to go to the bathroom within an hour. But I go because it is a wise move and a natural result – I don’t say, “After drinking too much liquid, I had no choice but to go to the bathroom before it was too late.” Do you see the difference? The news sentence is written in the most distressed method possible, while still touching on the truth. It makes the reader worry and want to read more about the juicy details.

3) To restart the cooling pumps on-site, engineers were working to install a power cable over a mile-long. The article says this – “The interim power line would be a temporary but "reliable" way to cool down the reactors and storage pools, said Teruaki Kobayashi, a facilities management official at Tepco.” I ask – why is the single word “reliable” placed in quotes in this sentence? One reason – it casts doubt on the statement made – it’s as if the author is saying – “Yeah, right – reliable. Just like the generators were reliable when they shut down after the tsunami overtopped the containment wall.” Again, there are a couple of reasons to write this sentence in this odd way – to promote fear in the reader, and to cast doubt on those who are working “frantically” to prevent a worse situation.

4) “But experts said that anyone working close to the reactors was almost certainly being exposed to radiation levels that could, at least, give them much higher cancer risks. "I don't know any other way to say it, but this is like suicide fighters in a war," said Keiichi Nakagawa, associate professor of the Department of Radiology at University of Tokyo Hospital.” I don’t give a lot of credibility to most professors anyway, but Mr. Nakagawa’s statements border on irresponsibility. Everything I have read indicates that they are only sending in people when they will get a slightly elevated dose of radiation over the norm – absolutely nothing like what happened at Chernobyl, by the way, so please ignore those comparisons when you hear them. “Suicide fighters in a war?” – I think he needs to stick to facts. And why are they asking a professor sitting comfortably in Tokyo about the radiation levels at a plant two-hundred miles away? Doesn’t anyone question the veracity of his statement?

5) The photo above was lifted from a news article which claimed that the mannequin head was left in the streets near the nuclear plant by the retreating tsunami wave. But should I really believe that? Or is it possible that the photographer did a little bit of staging to get that shot?

You will also note the phrases “a far bleaker assessment”, “seriously at risk”, and “rapidly evolving crisis” which appear in the article. My point? Don’t believe everything you hear on television or on the web. There is a definite trend toward sensationalism in every media source I can see. Don’t fall prey to the scare-mongering anchors, who influence people in Kansas to buy potassium iodide tablets in bulk just in case the fallout from Japan comes their way. Better yet – dump your cable connection and do some real research on your own. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get interviewed by someone who thinks you’re an “expert”!

Addendum: My heart cries out for the people of Japan during this crisis. Japan is largely an un-Christian nation – 64% don’t even believe in God. I pray that they will find comfort and solace in coming to know God, even if it takes a catastrophe such as this to do so. Knowing God in any circumstance is superior to dying in relative peace without Him. While the media may be disingenuous, we can remember - only God has the truth (Soli Deo Veritas).

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sex Outweighs Religion In The UK

The world is truly upside-down today. In a landmark judgment in the UK this week, a couple was denied the right to provide foster care to children – because their religious beliefs prevent them from telling a child that a homosexual lifestyle is acceptable.

The battle lines between Christianity and humanism just got a little more clearly drawn.

The UK couple in this story are Pentecostal Christians in Derby, UK. They had previously provided foster care for fifteen children in the 1990’s, and wanted to return to that work in 2011. But something changed in the UK between that time and today. In short, religious “tolerance” is no longer extended to conservative Christian views in the country which produced the Mayflower Pilgrims and C.S. Lewis. And don’t forget the praise that was once given to Eric Liddell (Chariots of Fire), the famed Scottish athlete who would not run in the Olympics on Sunday due to his religious beliefs. Can it be that the world is turning from the God of the Bible as quickly as we are witnessing it?

To sum up the story line – sex is more important than religion in the UK. This trend against Christian ethics is not a far cry from the Hitler-style ethnic cleansing so reviled by the British themselves only seventy years ago. Does that seem overstated? It is not – here are some quotes from the BBC article. Read these, and ask yourself if they look eerily similar to something that might have appeared in Nazi propaganda.

‘…Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation "should take precedence" over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.’

‘They said that if children were placed with carers who objected to homosexuality and same-sex relationships, "there may well be a conflict with the local authority's duty to 'safeguard and promote the welfare' of looked-after children".’

‘The court confirmed that the local authority is properly entitled to consider a prospective foster carer's views on sexuality when considering their application to become a foster parent and in fact, failure to do so would potentially leave it in breach of its own guidance as well as the National Minimum Standards.’

Don’t miss the import of that last statement – it boldly says that government “minimum standards” outweigh any religious belief, including the belief of parents. Make no mistake, the UK is now only one small step away from telling parents that they cannot teach Christian views on sexuality to their own children. In my lifetime, I now believe that I will be reading a BBC story where that very thing will happen – the UK government will remove children from their parent’s home because of their conservative Christian views, and place them in a state-run facility. And like Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s, millions will buy the lie.

God forbid that such a thing will be imported to our United States. But, of course, there are those in the high ranks of our own government who desire for our nation to be “more European”. But if they try to bring this intolerance to our land, I hope they will get a fight from the Christian parents here. Better yet, let’s make sure that we elect and retain leaders who will never go down this path.

Though I expect to read about and witness the decline of civilization, as predicted in the Bible, I am amazed at the speed with which it is happening. This story simply could not have happened in the days of the Cleavers on Leave It To Beaver, or even as recently as my own high school graduation. Something has changed – and it is happening very rapidly. The outrage of the Christian community should be loud and ever-present over this story. But do we see that? Have we given up on publicly championing the cause of Christ and the laws of God? Am I tempted to ignore this and just assume it is the status quo? May it never be…

For the BBC article, click here.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Birth Rate Swings – An Amazing Video

My regular day job involves the analysis of lots of data. I love data. I know you can spin a great tale with amazing clarity - using data. You can also lie with it (not something I recommend).

I came across an absolutely amazing visual the other day – a time-lapse look at the birth rate and average life-span of the countries of the world. You can see this graphic at this link. You can hit the “Play” button and watch the entire fifty years before your eyes. Or, better, you can grab the slider at the bottom and move it around at will.

The graph plots three things – the average life expectancy in years of each nation (x-axis), the average number of births per woman for the year in question (y-axis), and the relative population of the nation (shown as the size of the bubble). Note that you can pause play at any point and hover over any bubble to see the nation name.

Here are some interesting things to note:

• The number of births per woman in China drops remarkably – from around six in 1966, to less than two by 1996. Think about that – the family culture in China changed that dramatically in a mere thirty years, primarily because of government mandates to plan and abort.

• Drag the slider from 1966 through 1977 and then on to 1990. Watch the little blue circle which represents Cambodia – this country goes from an average life expectancy of 45 down to a mere 33 by 1977 (remember, that’s the average at that time!) and then back up to 55. What happened during that time? The rise of the Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot, and the Cambodian-Vietnamese war.

• A similar thing happens to the little blue circle representing Rwanda – start the slider at 1983, where the average life expectancy is 47, then drag it to 1993, where the average person only lived to be 26! The speed of that little circle moving to the left is dramatic. During the genocide in Rwanda, it’s estimated that 800,000 people were murdered in under 100 days.

• Drag the entire length of the graph and watch the big orange circle (India) and the big blue circle (China) and how much bigger they get over the 50 year span. China doubles her population during this time frame, and India triples hers.

• Lest we forget things going on in our own country (the largest pink circle), my wife pointed out to me the dramatic decrease in births per woman in the United States – from 3.65 in 1960 to just 2.1 today. Drag the slider carefully around the year 1973 – what happened around that time frame? It was the passage of Roe vs. Wade in this nation.

The dramatic reduction in birth rate over this fifty year span has not “fixed” anything in our culture. Things continue to get worse. As I pointed out in my previous post, population control is not what God is about. The more people who are born with the chance to worship the Lord, the more potential for praise and glory are able to be given to Him. This graph is a sad testament to man’s attempt to “fix” what he thinks is broken with this world. But population isn’t the problem – sin is the problem. And the answer is not trees, birth control or family planning. The answer is Jesus Christ.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Which Is More Important – People, Animals, or the Earth?

Man’s desire to worship something is seen throughout history. It would be a rare thing to find a period of history that was devoid of man putting his faith and desires into something – the God of the Bible, a carved god idol, the earth, other people, animals, man himself, etc. The desire to set something up as a higher authority must be innate in mankind.

The current prevailing philosophy of our culture is to downplay the Biblical pattern and place the good of “the earth” above all else. The roots of environmentalism go back many years, but the trend seems to gain followers every year. Al Gore and the concept of global warming may be damaged goods, but our society has not replaced the radical environmental movement with anything much different than what has gone before. Indeed, whether the fear is global warming, or the coming of a new Ice Age, the environmentalist cry is still the same – mankind is messing up the earth, and should be stopped.

I was very disheartened to read the following editorial in our local paper last week. I think it is indicative of a spirit of misunderstanding that troubles our nation:

Dear God, when you told us to “be fruitful and multiply”, did you intend for this multiplying to go on, unchecked, forever?
Perhaps it’s time for new orders, like “Stop! Enough with the multiplying! I gave you brains to figure out family planning. By now you should have had the sense to use it.

“You humans are spoiling my beautiful planet. You’re using up all the resources and filling the land and seas with garbage. Your wars wreak havoc on everyone and everything in their paths. Your greed and your sheer numbers are pushing my other creatures into extinction. Enough, already!

“You could have limited your numbers humanely, but you chose not to. Now I’m turning this over to Mother Nature, who will reduce your numbers the old-fashioned way – through war, pestilence, famine and disease.”

We have seen a lot of wars, famine and disease lately, along with earthquakes, floods and tornados. The threat seemed a little light on the pestilence, but now, here come the bedbugs. (The Fort Collins Coloradoan, January 12, 2011)
All of this makes me want to ask the writer a few questions:

1) God told us to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28) He has given us no instructions to do otherwise (in fact, He appears to counsel against “family planning” in the Bible – Genesis 38:8-10). So, what makes the writer think that God now has new orders to give? Who decides when it is “time for new orders”?

2) “You humans are spoiling my beautiful planet.” To me, using natural resources to make goods and to improve our living state is exactly God’s design. What does the writer mean by “spoiling”, and by what authority do we choose “spoiling” above “stewardship”? Is drilling for oil inherently “bad” when the result of energy exploration is fuel to keep people warm and the ability to move great distances – in minutes or hours, on only a few gallons of gasoline? If, instead, the resources were to stay in the ground forever, and man decided to live in cold caves, eating uncooked vegetables – is that better for everyone? Is that what we really want?

3) The author of the editorial seems to feel that too many people are getting in the way of some greater good – the common myth of population explosion. So, whose children does the writer propose to eliminate? Mine? The children of the person reading this article? Their own? Where would they start? Is human life really that cheap? So cheap that they would place it below the worth of creatures and the environment?

To truly answer the question about what is more important, we have to realize that someone must have authority over the decision. Mankind cannot and will not ever agree on the hierarchy of worth between man, animals, and the earth. Is the ultimate authority going to be me, my congressman, or the President?

For me, the only answer to this question is that there is one, and only one, ultimate authority – God – and His words on this question are the only ones that matter. Mankind may try to argue that someone else has the authority. For the Christian, the answer must be God. And if we choose an authority – God – we must endeavor to find out what He thinks about the value of human life versus the value of animal life or the environment.

1) God set up man to be above all creation - Genesis 1:26, Genesis 9:2 and Psalm 8:5-8 make it clear that man is above the earth, and only a little lower than the angels. If God placed us over the earth, then I have faith that He gave us ample resources to survive until He decides to send His Son back for us. He even left many “closed-loop systems” in place to compensate for our resource use – systems which are self-sustaining, such as the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen by trees and algae, and the obvious observation that trees and plants can spring up and grow anew from where they have been harvested. Scientists continue to “discover” and marvel at how resilient and self-repairing our ecosystem proves to be. They should – God made it that way.

2) Preserving the earth is not the ultimate goal of God - Ultimately, the earth will be destroyed. 2 Peter 3:10-11 says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives”. God has not intended for the earth to survive in some model, pristine way for all eternity. He has something better coming. He intends to destroy by fire all of these resources that our society holds so dear. The fact that He will destroy the earth, but take His people to live with Him for eternity, is clear evidence of God’s priorities. We do not abuse or show poor stewardship of this planet, but we keep it in perspective to God’s eternal plan.

3) The purpose of man is to honor GodRevelation 4:11 says, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” See also Psalm 86 and Psalm 16:5-11. So, it stands to reason that having more people on earth brings more opportunity to glorify God. Conversely, limiting the number of children born into this world is simply a way of removing glory from our God. That is a hard concept to swallow in today’s culture. But God told us to “fill the earth and subdue it”. He has not yet told us to do any differently. Why would we presume to know better?

The increasing population of the world is not the cause of death, destruction, famine or pestilence as our editorial author suggests. The cause is sin. God has provided us with resources to use for His glory. Bringing glory to God is the one, ultimate goal which overwhelms everything else. I wonder – would our culture like to see that concept printed in our local editorial section? We need to pray for a world that is still trying to function apart from God. Without Him, all we would have left is people, animals and the planet. Hmmm….


If you want to read more about how environmentalism has replaced God in our culture, please visit my Radical Environmentalism series.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Communion Meditation – “My Son, My Son”

The relationship between fathers and sons is very special. I pray every day for the safety and well-being of my own son, and I think I would be lost without him. I know most fathers can relate to this very feeling.

In Genesis 22, we see Abraham being tested by God. God tells Abraham in verse 2, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” And Abraham obeyed God, even though he had been made to wait until he was a hundred years old to have a son. Because Abraham was faithful, the story has a good ending. As Abraham raised the knife to slay Isaac, the angel of the Lord called out to him in verse 12 and said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy…Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

King David had many sons. His third-born was Absalom, and while Absalom made some mistakes, it is clear that David loved him deeply. Even though David had demanded protection for his son, Absalom was killed by the commander of David’s army. And when David heard the news, we see his heart-rending reaction in 2 Samuel 18:33. It says, ‘The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!”’

Stories of a close son, or of an only son are abundant in the Bible. Jeremiah 6:26 says, “Put on sackcloth, my people, and roll in ashes; mourn with bitter wailing as for an only son, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us.” Amos 8:10 tells us, “I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.” And we even see Jesus involved in the story of an only son in Luke 7:11-13 – “Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.””

Losing a son is a heart-breaking experience for a father. It is perhaps the greatest sacrifice that a father can make, as history continually shows. And that is why we come together weekly to think on these things and we turn our thoughts to our Heavenly Father, who is Almighty and All-Powerful…and we ponder these words:

John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

And from 1 John 4:9-10 – “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

And so, we see that though God stayed the hand of Abraham and prevented him from taking the life of his son, Isaac, He did not stop the events that led to the death of his own Son. And we remember.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Is Homeschooling Still An Option In My District?

The superintendent of schools for Poudre School District (where my family lives) recently sent us a large packet of material in the mail, explaining all of the educational choices that our family has in our district. Curiously, though I looked at every paragraph of the ten-page glossy brochure, plus the three loose pages that were included, there was not one mention of homeschooling as an option in our district. I decided to write and send the following letter.


Dear Dr. Wilson,

While I appreciate your attempt to inform me of my educational options in the Poudre School District through your recent mailing of “Educational Choices”, I note that you left off one very important option – homeschooling. While it is true that this option requires very little of your staff or time, I think it should be made a visible option to those parents who are considering both the education and the maturation of their children.

Our family is now in our seventh year of homeschooling. It has been the single best decision that we have ever made as a family. Our children continue to amaze and bless us with their growth and leadership – both academically and emotionally. While we sent them to public schools for the first six years of their academic journey, we eventually decided to keep them at home and educate them ourselves.

I humbly ask that you consider the following reasons why homeschooling should be on your list of options for parents in our district to consider:

1) Academics – while this is actually not the main reason that we homeschool our children, I recognize that academic achievement is the first and foremost goal pursued by PSD. Our children have enjoyed a three-to-one student-to-teacher ratio for some time now. As I get more involved with the higher subjects along with my wife’s daily teaching duties, this ratio is approaching three-to-two. You simply can’t argue with the results and efficiency of what is essentially a private tutor – and one who is emotionally invested in the children for the long run. Though we add many non-traditional subjects to our class list – such as Bible, Scripture memorization, and Biblical manhood/womanhood courses – our children still score in the ninetieth percentiles on the standardized tests for math, science, reading, etc. Per district requirements, these tests are administered every other year. Our oldest daughter is now taking college credit courses as a high-school junior and is achieving the highest grades in the class. You may be aware of the National Home Education Research Institute’s study showing that homeschooled students score a composite 87th percentile on standardized achievement exams, compared with 50th percentile for public-schooled students (see the graph above).

2) Maturing – our primary purpose for homeschooling is to give a very specific focus to education – one seasoned with the spiritual beliefs shared by our family. Our Christian faith is important to us, but it is unfortunately not allowed to be taught in the public school setting, so we choose to spend time doing so in our living room. Each day begins with Bible reading, Scripture memorization, and Christian topical discussion. Our children can quote whole chapters of the Bible, but more importantly, they can apply what they read and memorize to situations that they encounter each day. This is the single most important reason that we choose to educate in our home. I know many good and faithful public school teachers who would love to lend aid and wisdom to their classes using their Christian faith, but they are unfortunately not allowed to do so. I find it curious that our society accepts this model as more “correct” than a simple sharing of faith and truth. If we were to speak in a completely candid fashion, you and I both know that “political correctness” and “religious tolerance” are the reasons that our public schools have arrived at this state. Our founding fathers would be appalled.

3) Miscellaneous Benefits – There are so many other reasons that district parents might want to consider homeschooling as an option. As parents, we have been able to spend literally thousands of additional hours with each child before they leave the home. This has cost our family many dollars – both in a lost second income for the family and in the expense of home teaching materials – but we would not trade the outcome for any amount of money. Additionally, we like to start school a little early each year, and we rarely take school holidays off in our homeschool so that we may vacation in the fall. You would be amazed at how empty Disneyland and other resorts are in October. We’ve had some of the best vacations we could ever imagine because of this option. Finally, we have met some wonderfully mature children in the various homeschool programs and circles which are available. Our family has been blessed by these interactions.

I respectfully ask that you consider placing a paragraph about homeschooling in your next “Educational Choices” issue. In addition, I would like to volunteer myself and my wife to be “consultants” for the district if you would like to have someone to contact parents who are considering the homeschooling option. Homeschooling has blessed our family richly – and we would like to share this discovery with others.

Respectfully yours,

Alan Metzger

Saturday, November 6, 2010

No Time For Compromise

The mid-term elections are over. The result has pretty much been declared a total victory for Republicans and a repudiation of Democrats. But if you’ve read my posts over the last couple of years, you know that the terms Republican or Democrat mean very little to me. Let’s face it – the previous Republican administrations are just as responsible for overspending and for underwhelming important social issues as is the current Obama staff. On matters which I consider far more important than economic policy – abortion, for example – the Bush administration did nothing to help overturn this grievous and sinful law. A quick glance at my Facebook profile has always shown that I list myself as neither Republican nor Democrat, but as “pro-life”. I would support a politician of any party, regardless of his economics, if I truly felt that he or she would make a run at overturning Roe v. Wade.

I could dwell on the fact that our country elected a president two years ago who claimed to be post-partisan – the majority thought that he would be a uniter and would rise above petty politics. As I predicted, he has been exactly the opposite – polarizing the nation even more than his predecessor and driving his own personal agenda without apology. I could also comment at length on my belief that most politicians who find themselves winning their election will abandon the strong anti-tax, anti-spending and anti-abortion positions which they once took in order to get elected. Their campaign promises will be the very definition of the term rhetoric – “the undue use of exaggeration or display; bombast; the art of influencing the thought and conduct of an audience”.

So, I find it very interesting that the buzzword in the headlines this week has been “compromise”. Will Obama compromise with the new Republican-controlled house? Will the Tea Party learn to compromise with the establishment in Washington in order to “get something done”. I heard one Colorado state legislature leader say that it will be important for the new members coming in to learn the art of compromise in order to succeed.

And this is exactly where I differ with most people on the topic of politics and Christian principles. I am not interested in compromising on topics which I consider inviolable. I will support leaders who go after Roe v. Wade with everything they have. For me, that law is the major reason why God would remove his blessing from our nation. God shows His unwillingness to compromise on issues in Revelation chapter 2, when Jesus tells the church at Ephesus in verse 5, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” All of this took place because they had forsaken their first love (verse 4). Could God actually consider removing His blessing from this nation? Has He already?

At times such as this, I am not looking for compromise. Some would say that “compromise is for losers” – there is an element of truth in that. Compromise is something you seek when you finally realize that you might not get your absolute wish – just as the Democrats are feeling this week. And yet they will hope to maintain a foothold on their gains by claiming that others are suddenly intolerant or unwilling to compromise. I would point out to them that they were the intolerant ones over the last two years.

For me, the Christian attitude which I choose to adopt is found in Jesus’ own words in Matthew 10:34-36 – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household’”. I don’t believe that, as a committed Christian, I should be a flower-carrying, peace-loving bringer of hugs and warm feelings to those who oppose godly principles. We are in a spiritual battle of epic proportions (Ephesians 6:12). Furthermore, my wife and I are teaching our children to see this battle and pursue it with directness. While we are to remain respectful of others, and we promote the idea of educated discussion, it is our desire to see God’s will done above all else. And sometimes that means that compromise is out of the question.

I will think of this every time I see the word “compromise” over the next two years. Today we fight!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I Don’t Do Halloween

Here I go again – possibly raining on people’s parade. But as before, I feel compelled to stand for something in which I believe strongly – and for something to which God has opened my eyes.

I was out with my son at a fast-food restaurant earlier this week. The place was decorated with leering pumpkins, spider webs, and ghoulish faces. After a few minutes of sitting amongst all of this, Noah looked at me and said, “I can’t wait until Halloween is over.”

Remember, this comes from a thirteen-year old. But he, like me, is genuinely fearful of this season. It wasn’t always this way for us. I grew up enjoying Halloween, thinking it was about the candy and not much else. Early on, my kids enjoyed it as well. But about four years ago, our eyes were suddenly opened in a remarkable way to the evil associated with this holiday (see a previous post). I don’t care what others may think – it is not harmless, and it is not all in good fun. It’s a dabbling in evil.

Our society makes fun of death at this time of year – but God tells us, “All who hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:36), and that God’s real desire is that “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4). Death was not God’s plan, and it should not be toyed with or taken lightly. Rather, death is the result of sin (Romans 5:12).

We see people dressed as witches and demons. Does it bother us? It bothers me greatly. From Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Is it harmless? Consider this – King Saul was put to death by God because he dabbled in spiritual hypocrisy by visiting the witch of Endor (1 Chronicles 10:13-14). Of all the wrong things that Saul did in his life, it was this event that was mentioned on his “tombstone” in Chronicles. Do we think that playing at witchcraft or related topics are just good fun? We should think again. God has made his position on this clear.

I know – it may seem crazy that some of us see this holiday as evil. It would be easy to view it as simply dressing up in a fun costume, or to say that it invokes a spirit of generosity when neighbors hand out candy to kids. But I think there is a deeper theme running on this subject. Is this world completely separated from the spirit world – where we can play with “spiritual” activities in isolation? Again, consult the verse above from Ephesians 6:12. If our struggle – in this life – is against the powers of the dark world, then that means it is here and now. The spiritual world crosses over into our existence today. A big part of the spirit world is evil and belongs to Satan. Is it such a stretch to think that Satan might be using this holiday as a tool to tempt parents and children into believing that we can make light of death and witchcraft and demons? I beg others to consider this.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)

As always, I write these things not to offend or point a finger of blame. During my college years, I did some things at Halloween that those who know me would not believe. I’m not proud of that. But God, in His infinite grace and wisdom, has led me to this point. Consider carefully your ways.


In the same vein, here’s a good post I was led to – “While you are trick or treating, a child will be sacrificed”

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Communion Meditation – The Simple Gospel Story

When preparing the communion meditation, I often go through a thought process that says, “How can I tell an interesting and unique story that will grab people’s attention and make them focus on Jesus’ death?” Today, I decided not to go down that path.

Instead, I resolved to simply remind us of the gospel story, and to recall God’s desire for what to do at this time in our worship service. This story is all we need to grasp the basics of God’s plan for mankind. This story would be enough to tell a neighbor about God’s good news. Simply put, the story goes like this:

About 6000 years ago, that is, around 4000 B.C., God created everything that we see around us in only six days. Most importantly, he created man, and he created him to be special – because he was made in God’s image. Man was destined to have a unique relationship with God, unlike any other element of His creation. The special bond between God and man exists even today.

The ultimate purpose for man is simple – it is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. To that end, God gave man some rules to live by, and the free will to choose his own path. It didn’t take long for man to violate God’s direction – and through Adam, the first man, mankind fell from a position of a guaranteed eternity with God. Man sinned, and God’s promise of death and punishment had to be carried out.

For 4000 years, man lived under a system of laws that gave him some relief from sin’s punishment, but these laws were imperfect. God had said that sin could only be forgiven through a blood atonement, so man labored under a legalistic system of rules and animal sacrifices. This was not the system under which God wanted man to live.

And so, 2000 years ago, God sent his only Son to earth. His ultimate purpose was for His Son to die – and shed his blood to be the blood sacrifice that God demanded. Jesus Christ became the one blood sacrifice to cover the sin of all men who would accept him and proclaim him as their Lord. Jesus’ blood has the power to cover the sins of men in the past, present, and future. Through it, we have the ability to undo the damage done by Adam and by our own sin.

God had promised that sin must be punished by death. And He knew that all men would sin. We were under a curse, and it seemed that there was no way out – we were doomed to die apart from God. But thanks to God’s infinite wisdom, and His new and perfect plan, He provided a way for His words to be true and for us to be saved. The death that had to occur as a penalty for our sin was taken on by Jesus himself. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Simply put, because of Jesus and that moment on the cross, we can look forward to eternal life. The story gets even better, because Jesus Christ, after dying a horrible death on the cross, was raised back to life after three days - to show that God is stronger than even death itself.

Finally, God asked us to remember this story - the sacrifice and death of His Son – each week, so that we would never forget what He did for us.

It’s that simple.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

“How Could Anyone Desecrate My Lord?”

Our county is famous for some odd things lately. Last year, it was “Balloon Boy”. This year, it is upheaval over a controversial work of art.

The Loveland Museum/Gallery, which I have frequented in the past, made national news last month when they opened the display of a lithograph featuring Jesus Christ performing a homosexual sex act. Naturally, there was a great deal of uproar over the display, from both sides of the issue. City council members demanded its removal, while others called for tolerance of differing views. A lot of print ink was used to discuss the issue – which is precisely what the “artist” was hoping for.

Yesterday, a 56-year old woman from Montana entered the gallery with a crowbar. When the area around the work was clear she removed the crowbar, broke the Plexiglas surrounding it, and then tore up the lithograph. Afterward, she waited calmly for the police to arrive. While ripping up the artwork, she was heard to say, “How could anyone desecrate my Lord?” She is currently under arrest, facing charges of criminal mischief.

So – two questions. First, should Christians feel compelled to argue against artwork and Christian desecrations of this nature? And, second, should our argument turn to acts of vandalism when we are offended as deeply as some of us were over the display in Loveland?

Our society continually talks of tolerance. Often, the standard is inequitable. While this art depicting Jesus Christ was allowed to stand, there have been instances in our country where similar characterizations of Allah are removed, because they are deeply offensive to other religions. That may not seem fair – but I think I know why. While we are not typically portrayed as such, Christians tend to be more tolerant of religious desecration than the people of some other religions, such as Islam. Of course, there are extreme examples – in both directions - where this has not been true. But let me point this out – only last month, President Barack Obama made a public statement against a Florida minister who planned to burn the Koran on his church property. I heard no such plea from our president over the Loveland art exhibit and its visual portrayal of our Lord. Why not? Christians – by now, we should expect this inequality of response. Christianity has always been the underdog in arguments such as this. It’s okay, though – truth is on our side.

Should we argue? Should we commit acts of “vandalism”? Jesus himself provides a whole spectrum of answers. When the crowd was demanding the stoning of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), he pretended not to hear them, and finally gave a gentle answer – “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Yet when he caught moneychangers conducting business in the temple, he overturned their tables, obstructed people from carrying merchandise into the temple, and drove out the moneychangers (Mark 11:15-19). If he had done that in my county this week, Jesus would have gone to jail, just as the lady from Montana did.

So what is right? And what goes too far? How far should I defend my faith? Should I “tolerate” the despicable depiction of my Lord committing a sin? I’m thinking about it. What do you think?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

There Is a Boy…

There is a boy who nearly died in the womb. This was a situation entirely unknown to his parents, and it caused them to think more about the preciousness of life. But the boy held on to that life, because God knew there was something special about to happen.

If that was not trial enough, that boy was born having been starved of oxygen during the birth. His face and fingers were blue, and he was rushed to a table by doctor and nurses for revival methods. His mother and father were overwhelmed with doubt about what to do, and could only watch helplessly from the corner and pray. And again, God stepped in and made sure that there were no ill-effects.

There is a boy who smiled and laughed through his infant childhood. As a baby, he was truly inseparable from his mother, and he could tell when she was not physically near. He was even able to sense when his father tried to kiss his mother in the next room, and would immediately begin crying, because for that moment he was not the object of her primary attention. Mother and father marveled at his sensitivity.

As he grew, this boy once gave nearly all the money he possessed to a church missions effort, because he was deeply moved by the plight of others and because, as he said, they needed it more than he did. He never told anyone that he did this, but it was observed from across the room. His mother and father watched in wonder at his selfless heart.

There is a boy who gives unselfishly of his time to others. While the temptation of self-centered youth is great, this boy spends hours doing precious and meaningful things for a neighbor, with absolutely no thought for compensation. And when that neighbor insists on a generous reward, this remarkable boy refuses over and over. When he finally loses the argument, he is truly overcome, because he gave those hours for the simple purpose of blessing another person with his gifts. One of his first thoughts is of the tithe he will give to the church.

This boy’s mother and father watch these things and they store them up in their hearts. His father, who is not known as an emotional person, is brought to tears one night when he observes the unselfish actions of the young boy. He knows that the boy is a far better person than he was at this young age. This realization makes him sad for his own selfish youth, and yet exceedingly grateful that the next generation will serve God in deeper and more wonderful way. The father realizes that his own life is but a stepping stone to something more eternal and consequential than he ever dreamed. It breaks the father’s heart to see that it took him so long to understand this purpose. But it gives him satisfaction to see God’s work being carried out with increasing desire and humility. Both mother and father are forever changed because of what they see in their own offspring.

Now, there is a young man. What will he do next?