Sic semper tyrannis (“thus always to tyrants”) was the cry of Brutus when he assassinated Julius Caesar. It is a cry for freedom in the face of tyrannical use of power, destroying an Empire for the free Republic. But behind every tyrant is the Dragon; deceiving Eve in the Garden, and deceiving tyrants – Pharaoh, Nero, Hitler – to make war on the children of promise. When a daughter of Eve gave birth to the Dragon Slayer, followers of Jesus know that we overcome the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb. Since Jesus has “overcome the world” (John 16:33) of tyrants, we trust that by His Spirit we ourselves are born of God and have overcome the world in Him (I John 5:4). In Christ we are more than conquerors over the Dragon, and “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom 16:20).
With the school year back in the swing, it would be easy
1. Find a good church where the whole family worships together and attend every week.
Deep teaching, sincere Christ-focused worship (as opposed to simply entertaining), and participation in Sunday school, catechism, or other family-oriented Bible training helps greatly. It’s best if the whole family worships during the service together. (Of course, nursery aged children may be an exception.) Over time, even though you may not think so, the rhythm of regular, weekly church attendance tells your children “Christ is important to us, just like He is at your school.”
Remember, Christ’s bride is the church, not the school. If your church has membership, JOIN! If you don’t think your church is deepening you spiritually, look around and find one that does.
2. Eat dinner together every night.
Establish small, simple traditions: for example, a bell to ring everyone to the table and a job rotation setting the table. Setting the table with all of the utensils may seem unnecessary on pizza night, but the habit forms a love of family in its own small way. Find a liturgy (a regular habit) in your prayer for the meal. For example, in our house I always say the prayer, but the kids each get a turn to thank God for at least one thing. It’s easy to let busyness disrupt normalcy in our homes. The correlation between intentional stability in the practices at home and steady kids is clear. If your schedule is too hectic with all the sports, music lessons, etc.—simplify.
3. Model a love of great things.
Parents who enroll their students in a classical school but shrug and say, “That stuff is too complicated for me; I’m a regular Joe,” send a mixed message. Be honest. If you don’t love Shakespeare, Dickens, or Milton, tell your kids you are working toward loving it. And show that you are.
Some tips: Have a family reading time where everyone sits in the family room and reads their book. (Any book, it doesn’t have to be a classic.) Simple.
On the musical side, with an Amazon Echo and Prime, stations that play great top-100 classical, jazz, blues, and other genres are one voice command away.
4. Invest in your marriage.
I’ve seen some single parent situations produce some of our best graduates. But, I have to be honest: Sound marriages generally correlate with sound children. When students go through tough times in 7th–10th grade, mom and dad, united and steady, provide the keel and anchor for the storms. Dad: Be the spiritual leader. Drive the family to get ready for church, lead the prayers, read scripture at the table. Get together with other dads for book clubs, or Bible studies. And, love your wife. God honors generationally, so your love for Him will be reflected in your kids. Mom: Establish a household that reflects the order, goodness, gentleness, and beauty of God.
5. Love the way Christ loves.
Remember, our Father encourages and chastens those whom He loves. Parents should, too. Demanding parents, balanced with grace, turn out the best kids. It’s hard these days. Every model we have says, “Turn them loose and encourage them.” “Chasten them” is not popular. The best families I encounter demand much of their kids, and they love them greatly.
Not many years ago, we were told we needed a new reformation, this time of deeds, not creeds. That was Rick Warren in 2005, some 17 years ago using church growth methods. The emergent movement took postmodern thought and said we need a new trajectory, a reformation not from a new (biblical/theological) center, but with a new direction.
Now we are a long way from those naïve decades, and so a new call arises:
Now comes the call for yet another reformation, this time employing the most up-to-date methods of the zeitgeist: trauma, structural/systemic measurements, and intersectionality.Continue reading
Fides et ratio, faith and reason. Christians adopt the position of fides quaerens intellectum – “faith seeking understanding.” Or, showing their hand a bit more, credo ut intelligam – “I believe that I may understand” (Anselm). While reason may distinguish humanity from the animal kingdom, Christians have distinguished ourselves by remembering the importance of faith. Rather than allowing our reason to dominate our decisions and days, or even trying to hold the two in an uneasy tension, divine revelation requires us to shape our understanding and experience of the world, and we aim for a reason that submits to revelation as received in faith.Continue reading
Luther to his depressed friend:
“I am told that you are plagued by a depressed spirit… I beg you, through Christ our Lord – and with all the prayers I can possibly pray – not to be dwelling on your own thoughts and feelings, but rather listen to Christ… Therefore I beg you, join us! We are truly great and hardboiled sinners, so that you do not diminish Christ for us, who is not a savior for imaginary or trivial sins, but rather a Savior for real sins – not only small ones, but great ones – yes even the worst, and for all sins committed by all people… You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior, and you a real sinner.”
Letter to Spalatin, 1544
I’ve never been a successful drummer, but I know that we all need that extreme, personality in every pretentious group. Please have a glass of water handy for the spit-takes that are sure to come in the videos below:Continue reading
“[The Advent story in Luke’s Gospel] also introduces the reader to some of the most powerful political powers of the time–and indeed, of all time.
Only then to ignore them.”
That’s how Rev. Bruce Clark begins his article at Mere Orthodoxy entitled “Advent and the Near Irrelevance of Political Power.” He points out that Luke – under the Holy Spirit – spends a great deal of time on shepherds, old fuddy-duddies like Simeon and Anna, but when Luke gets to Caesar:Continue reading
ALMIGHTY AND ETERNAL GOD, with Whom one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day; we bring Thee thanks and praise for Thy blessings, more than we can number, with which Thou hast crowned our lives during the year now past; and since Thy mercies are ever new, let the year which has now begun, be to us a year of grace and salvation. Have pity upon us in our misery, whose days are as the grass. Deliver us from the vanity of our old fallen nature; and establish us in the fellowship of that life which is the same yesterday and today and forever. Graciously protect and conduct us through the uncertainties of this new year of our earthly pilgrimage. Prepare us for its duties and trials, its joys and sorrows. Help us to watch and pray, and to be always ready like men that wait for their Lord; and grant that every change, whether it be of prosperity or adversity, of life or of death, may bring us nearer to Thee and to that great eternal year of joy and rest, which, after the years of this vain earthly life, awaits the faithful in Thy blissful presence; where we shall unite, from everlasting to everlasting, with angels and saints, in ascribing blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, unto Him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever. Amen.
Order of Worship for the Reformed Church in the United States, p. 26. See more New Year’s prayers here.
Everything I’ve written about intelligence starting with The Bell Curve has said explicitly: do not confuse IQ with moral worth. It just, you know… One of the problems here is the decline of religiosity, and I’m thinking specifically of Christian theology, which has as its central tenant that God does not judge people by their good works nor by their IQ scores, that this is irrelevant to human worth. And, it also teaches you to be very humble about your own frailities, your own mistakes, your own sins and the rest of it. There was built into Christians, serious Christians, an understanding, a gut level understanding of that truth, about moral worth and IQ just being separate planets.