Overriding our default settings (and our kids’)

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

When Moses spoke these words to the people of Israel, he was in the process of delivering the law of God to them. And in these statements, he summarizes some of the most important things for Israel to understand with regard to the law: 1) they were to love God with the entirety of their being; 2) they were to have God’s words on their hearts; and 3) they were to teach those words diligently to their children.

I think that most of us understand, or at least acknowledge, the importance of the first two principles. But what about the third? Do we give it the place of priority that God assigns to it here?

For most of us – especially most of us fathers – it’s hard to teach these things diligently to our kids. It feels awkward. It’s hard enough to clunk through family devotions, much less to talk of these things naturally throughout the course of a normal day.

A significant part of the solution to this problem lies in the second principle – they “shall be on your heart”. Are the words of God on your heart? Or to put this in 21st century terms, are they programmed into the control panel of your life? Your heart is the control panel for your emotions, your desires and your will. Are you governed by the word of God at this fundamental level?

The good news is that in the economy of God, all these principles fit together. A great way to get these things on our hearts, so that we can teach them to our kids, is to prepare to teach them to our kids. We will often find that in order to do this, we have to think more carefully, more thoroughly and more practically about what Scripture has to say. And as we do this, it will have the effect of writing the truth of God more clearly on our own hearts.

Parents, our default setting is to not teach our kids the things of God. And their default setting is not to love the things of God. In order to override these default settings, we’ve got to take action. Let’s do this together, in the strength that God will supply by His grace.

Scripture Memorization Program

My good friend Joshua Krohse is developing a Bible memorization program that I’ve found to be extremely helpful. You’ll need an internet connection to be able to use it, since it doesn’t have the Scripture texts embedded due to copyright issues. (This also helps to make the size of the program much smaller.)

Give it a shot, and as you do, remember that this is a work in progress. A free one. Unless you choose to donate to the cause, which I’m sure I can arrange. In any event, you can download it here.

John Frame on God’s purpose for creating the world

John Frame has an interesting post on what he calls “The Mystery of Creaturely Otherness“. In it he discusses the foundational and baffling question of why God created the world. I recently wrote a much shorter, much less academic response to the same question. I appreciate Frame’s willingness to consider possibilities, as well as his humility before Scripture in considering them. Plus he’s about a bajillion times smarter than me.

What does God want?

God created us, and later saved us, because He wanted something He didn’t have.

If that statement just caused you to reach for your Bible and a red pen, I’m glad. Because understood in one sense, that statement reflects a dangerous heresy. But understood another sense, it reflects a clear biblical teaching. In order to understand what I really mean (and hopefully save you some red ink), we’ll need to turn our normal understanding of “want” on its head.

With God, “want” works exactly opposite of the way it works in us. When we want something, it is because of some lack or deficiency in ourselves that needs to be filled. God’s “want”, on the other hand, arises from the opposite of deficiency – that is, from abundance. He wants us not so we can fill His lack, but so He can fill ours. And as he does this, He brings glory to Himself as the massive abundance of His goodness overflows into our emptiness.

Jonathan Edwards made a similar statement (with greater eloquence) when he said that “it is no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain, that it is inclined to over flow.”

This same idea is communicated in Ephesians 2:4-7:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Did you catch verse 7? It says that in the ages to come (that is, forever) God intends to put the inexhaustible supply of the riches of His grace on display. And how does He intend to do that? By showing kindness toward us in Christ Jesus! Can you imagine a more desirable way to be used for God’s glory than that?

If the prospect of spending eternity as a God-exalting kindness-recipient doesn’t make you happy, I’d encourage you to meditate further on this passage. If you belong to Christ, this is the future awaiting you. Give that thought a chance to grip you, and it will change your life.

Defining Puritanism

I’ve had for some time a vague recollection of seeing a bumper sticker somewhere with a cynical (and ironic) definition for puritanism. It seemed like such an obscure idea, and so unlikely that anyone would actually bother to produce (or purchase) a bumper sticker like this, that I couldn’t remember whether I’d actually seen it or just made it up from a combination of other memories. Well, today I finally got around to googling the keywords I thought I remembered, and here it is:

Now I can’t understand why someone who disagrees with what they think puritanism is would bother to take up space on their car to criticize it, since it’s not exactly a philosophy that many people in our culture even recognize. But the more substantial issue is that this analysis of puritanism is a complete load of crap.

If we want to talk in these terms about what the puritans were really after, we’d be more honest to put it this way:

“Puritanism: The compelling conviction that most people are not nearly as happy as they ought to be.”