Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Heavy Hearts

Is there anyone who doesn't know that I love to debate?  It is like it's infused into my very being!  Someone challenges me on a topic and my heart skips a beat at the opportunity to engage in an enlightening and sanctifying discussion.  I am eager to learn and to share; but on the other hand, sometimes it becomes so personal, that I end up more wounded than I would prefer to be.  Sometimes it leaves me feeling as though I am drowning in the blood of my own wounds, and I just want a good Samaritan to come along and extend a hand of kindness in that precise moment.  Continuing on in the massacre is the furthest thing from my mind.

But why is this?  I have studied apologetics, worldview and philosophy.  I love talking about my convictions!  I love sharing a biblical perspective on issues regarding autonomy, feminism and egalitarianism.  I love feeling challenged to recall biblical examples and passages and convey the reason why I believe what I believe, and how firm a foundation Jesus Christ is and what a beautiful assurance that is to my soul.

Which is why it doesn't make any sense that there comes a point in these conversations where I feel like my heart is a hundred pound weight in my chest and I can't go on.

It usually happens as soon as my personal character starts being slaughtered.  I get accused of the very thing I tried to avoid, or the thing that makes me draw back in disgust; and then all of the sudden, I feel that "weight" and I say "enough".  As soon as my opponent tries to stuff me into one of their little boxes, I bristle... because I know in my heart of hearts, I was designed to live in "a Body", not a box.  As I was asking God why my spirit feels such grief at times, I began to understand the purpose behind having a "heavy heart".

When in heated conflict, it can be easy to go through the motions and not even be aware that what you are saying is truth to you.  It's like being trained to do something-- there comes a point where you don't even think about performing the actions in which you have been conditioned to execute.  It can be easy to not see the other person as a human being whose eyes are blinded... to look at them as just an experiment for you to exercises your "skills" on.  Then the argument loses its flavor of love and becomes robotic.  We should share our passion for the Lord and the convictions that He has been gracious enough to give us, because we *care* about the souls of others, not because we want to feel superior.  We should have an attitude of humility, not a haughty spirit that desires to simply conquer the other person... a gentility that seeks to have mercy on that blind soul is much more precious.

So when I feel my heart become heavy, it is when I realize that the hatred on the other end is too deep to be waded through in one conversation.  Even though the entire debate is personal (because redemption is a personal aspect of a Christian's life), there comes a breaking point where the personal angle becomes targeted directly at the heart and it's like flaming arrows piercing through the tenderest of places in a soul.  It is like you can see the venom spewing from their tongues and you become despairing because the scenario seems hopeless, graciousness is lost and a dirty fight becomes even dirtier.  You draw back in grief and can only pray that the Lord will use a sliver of your words to pour out a spirit of conviction upon their hard hearts.

The other thing that I noticed about this kind of conflict, is that it is a tool of satan to distract from a greater purpose the Lord might be trying to accomplish.  It can be easy to sink into the grief that comes and focus on that instead of the bigger picture.  I was talking with this dear friend recently about the neglected topic of fasting and it brought to mind a small project this friend had talked about starting, and an idea sort of morphed in my mind from a culmination of the two conversations.  This recent experience of grief was a perfect distraction from an area the Lord had recently laid on my heart to pursue; I was so excited about it and the ways it could increase an entire generation of young women's faith!  And then... Wham!  I was bombarded and it was excruciatingly hard for me to regain my perspective and focus back on what the Lord had convicted me to work on.

I will admit, I was disappointed in myself... I was disappointed that I wasn't able to overlook the hurt and just plow on through it.  But that is exactly the kind of attitude that will cause me to focus on my own abilities instead of on Jesus.  It isn't about what I can do, it is about what He can and does do.  Allowing the grieved state of our souls to turn our eyes upon ourselves will only make us sadder... because we will see our own inabilities, which are rampant in our lives, when we should be looking to the cross, as the only able and perfect thing in our lives.

It is a lesson learned, and one I am grateful for-- because feeling sad isn't the crime in and of itself, allowing it to alter the object of my vision is.  Letting it have the ability to rob me of the joy I experience in my redemption and make me look at myself, almost in an attitude of pride, instead of looking heavenward.  Understanding how to harness the potential that can lie within a weary and burdened heart can be a wonderful thing and something that can be so profitable in life!  If we only keep our eyes on the eternal goal and not this temporary earth which shall pass away.

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-2

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thinking Caps

Before being completely home educated, I attended kindergarten, briefly, in the pagan (more commonly known as "public") school.  My mother had already been working with me extensively, so I'm not certain that I learned much, but there are a lot of things I remember.

One thing, for instance, is that whenever we were about to embark on a "learning journey", the teacher would instruct all of us young impressionable children to "put our thinking caps on".  She wanted us to be fully alert before our lesson was presented before us.  Which makes perfect sense! 

To me, a "worldview" is like a "thinking cap".  It is like the filter we put on over our minds before we take in information.  That is why our worldviews are so important.  Our worldview is what helps us sort truth from fiction, fact from myth.  It tells us whether we are being told something that is in accord with the word of God, or whether someone is trying to shove a doctrine down our throats that is undeniably from Babylon itself.

You would think that with worldview being such an important topic, it would be more studiously pursued by Christians, but it is often grossly neglected.  Academia is exalted, while the shaping of minds and character is put on the back burner.

A biblical worldview helps us to identify false doctrines and refute the pagan philosophies of our modern culture. "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." Colossians 2:8

We must seek to build a foundational worldview upon the word of God so that we are constantly evaluating every single little speck of information that we consume, in contrast with God's precepts.  Understanding that genuine knowledge cannot be achieved outside of the fear of the Lord, is crucial to our development of a sound worldview and our defense of the Christian faith.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."  Proverbs 1:7  " whom {Christ} are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Colossians 2:3

In his book, "Always Ready", Dr. Greg Bahnsen explains the importance of God being the source of all knowledge:

"God's word has been seen to be foundational to all knowledge.  It has absolute epistemic authority and it is the necessary presupposition of all knowledge which man possesses.  All our knowledge must be a receptive reconstruction of God's primary thoughts; the Lord is the originator of all truth.  God's word must then be taken as the final standard of truth for man.  Those who would feign intellectual self-sufficiency and refrain from presupposing the word of Christ in Scripture are led into foolish ignorance.  One must begin with Christ in the world of thought or else surrender any hope of attaining knowledge--about himself, the world, or God...
"Paul declares that all knowledge must be related to Christ then, according to Colossians 2.  He says this is for our protection; it is very dangerous to fail to see the necessity of Christ in all our thinking.  So Paul draws to our attention the impossibility of neutrality "in order that no one delude you with crafty speech."  Instead we must, as Paul exhorts, be steadfast, confirmed, rooted, and established in the faith as we were taught (v. 7).  One must be presuppositionally committed to Christ in the world of thought (rather than neutral) and firmly tied down to the faith which he has been taught, or else the persuasive argumentation of secular thought will delude him.  Hence the Christian is obligated to presuppose the word of Christ in every area of knowledge; the alternative of delusion.  (Always Ready)
 So what is the purpose in developing a solid worldview that is wrapped around the core of God's word?  "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear..." 1 Peter 3:15  We are called to be always ready to defend our faith and give an answer for the hope that is within us.  A worldview that is in sync with God's principles is vital in our role as Christians.  Stating that we are going to just "love" the lost by closing our mouths and claiming neutrality, is in fact, not love at all. 

"The plea for Christians to surrender to neutrality in their thinking is not an uncommon one.  Nevertheless it strikes at the very heart of our faith and our faithfulness to the Lord...
Attempting to be neutral in one's intellectual endeavors (whether research, argumentation, reasoning, or teaching) is tantamount to striving to erase the antithesis between the Christian and the unbeliever.  Christ declared that the former was set apart from the latter by the truth of God's word (John 17:17).  Those who wish to gain dignity in the eyes of the world's intellectuals by wearing the badge of "neutrality" only do so at the expense of refusing to be set apart by God's truth."  (Always Ready)

In reality, it is a selfish person who would say they were not going to be decisive in their convictions and presuppositions.  Claiming that our lives are built upon the rock of Jesus Christ Who has redeemed our souls and that He alone possesses all authority, is more demonstrative of love than a declaration of neutrality could ever possibly be.  When the world evaluates our lives and sees our walk as Christians, they ought to be able to tell who is the Ruler and Lord of our lives.  There should be no blurring or confusion in regards to the possessor of our hearts, minds and souls.

"Therefore, the Christian who strives after neutrality in his thought is found actually to be endeavoring to efface the fact that he is a Christian!  By denying his distinctive religious commitment he is reduced to apostate thought patterns and absorbed into the world of unbelief.  Attempting to find a compromise between the demands of worldly neutrality (agnosticism) and the doctrines of Christ's word results in the rejection of Christ's distinctive Lordship by obliterating the great gulf between the thinking of the old man and that of the new man. 
No such compromise is even possible.  "No man is able to serve two lords" (Matt. 6:24).  It should come as no surprise that that, in a world where all things have been created by Christ (Col. 1:16) and are carried along by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3) and where all knowledge is therefore deposited in Him who is The Truth (Col. 2:3; John 14:6) and who must be Lord over all thinking (2 Cor. 10:5), neutrality is nothing short of immorality.  "Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4).  (Always Ready)

The importance of defending the faith is the driving force behind developing a worldview that is able to refute the philosophies and vain deceits of the world.  The point in apologetics (the defense of the Christian faith) is not to shove our faith down the throats of the lost by bashing their beliefs; but rather it is about showing them that they are not built upon The Rock, but upon sand.  It is so that God can use us to possibly convict lost souls and in the end, bestow redemption upon them if He so chooses.

We are surrounded every single day with the worldly ideals of the society we live in.  It is inescapably important that we recognize this and cultivate a way of thinking that can guard our minds from procuring a pagan field of thought.  The movies we watch, songs we listen to and the books we read all reflect and convey a worldview.  Sure, most authors or artists don't create something with the intention of making it a philosophical allegory of their lives, but it is none the less, that very thing.  A person's worldview is imputed into every aspect of their life... especially the things he/she creates.  Satan uses the world and the entertainment we indulge in, to indoctrinate us and plant seeds of thinking that could radically inhibit our work in the Kingdom.
"Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."  James 4:4 (Always Ready)

With that, I will end with one last quote from the irreplaceable Dr. Greg Bahnsen:
 "Do you have the courage of your Christian distinctives in scholarship, apologetics, and schooling, or have you been trying to wipe out the contrast between Christian thought and apostate thought by following the demands of neutrality?  Put in biblical perspective this question can be rephrased in this way: does your thinking operate under the Lordship of Jesus Christ or have you become an enemy of God through neutral, agnostic, unbelieving thought patterns?  Choose this day whom you will serve!"