Posts Tagged ‘ Christianity ’

Family: A Witness To The Best And Worst Parts Of Life

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

I wish I could think of a more clever title than that, but that’s the best way to summarize how I see it.

If only it was as easy as two people falling in love and having babies and it all automatically working out after that…

Like marriage, maintaining a positively functioning family is hard work. It’s an investment.

Our lives spent together as a family are enriched because we accept the challenges and mysteries of everyday life together. But being a family doesn’t magically fix things.

The way I see it, a strong family must be built and nurtured. I can’t expect to be completely fulfilled by you and Mommmy.

That would be putting way too much pressure and responsibility on both of you. In the same way, I can’t make your life perfect and complete simply because I’m part of your family.

Being part of a family means agreeing to go through the worst parts of life together with the same passion and acceptance as we do the best parts.

It’s a priviledge, a responsibility, and a blessing.

I don’t mean to seem so fatalistic or gloomy about it, but I do believe that love is long suffering. I believe that’s part of what a family’s love is all about. Yet, I believe that same love is also kind.

And that it doesn’t envy; that it doesn’t parade itself. It’s not puffed up;  it doesn’t behave rudely. It doesn’t seek after a selfish agenda.

I believe love is not provoked and doesn’t think evil or rejoice in iniquity, but instead, in truth.

The way I see it, our family’s love must bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

And I believe love never fails.

Yes, that’s easier to say than to live out on a daily and lifelong basis. I know.

Because love is not automatic or easy. It’s a choice.

Maybe it’s too naive to aim for perfect love in our family, but I do know that perfect love drives out fear.

I can’t expect things just to work out for us because we are a family. I have to be the kind of love I want to receive in our family.

To me, this is what real love is actually about. It’s a little too real sometimes.





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What Would Change If There Was No Censorship On TV?

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

22 months.

As parents we have to be very aware of what our children are exposed to, especially in our own homes.

So what would change if there was no censorship on TV?

I think it’s only natural for our first reaction to possibly be that we assume there would automatically be constant f-words and racial slurs, marathons of pornography, and live assassinations and other types of violent, bloody viewings of people losing their lives.

The funny thing is, people who want to see those kind of things are able to watch them any time they want… on the Internet, where there already is no censorship.

But TV is much different than the Internet; TV more controllably directs millions of people to one program at once, therefore making sponsorship a more fickle thing.

There’s this whole concept of “things you can’t say or do on TV” but the truth is, we the people, the free market, are the ones deciding the ultimate standards we see on television.

The halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII is the best example I can think of. Yeah, that was the one with the infamous “Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake” incident.

The FCC, The Federal Communications Commission, fined the CBS network a record $550,000; because so many people called in to complain.

It’s safe to say that the majority of those people who complained were parents who were offended by what the network allowed their children to see on TV.

My best understanding of censorship on television is this:

Each TV network has its own censors, who decide what subject matter is too racy or vulgar to keep them in good standing with A) The FCC and B) their viewers.

In other words, the TV networks are simply making an effort to avoid getting fined and losing viewers, which means they lose sponsors for their programs.

For example, American society has decided that the word “sh–” is too vulgar to be spoken on the major networks, meanwhile, “g.d.” is not.

In fact, this past Friday I watched Primetime: What Would You Do? where “sh–” was bleeped out but “g.d.” was clearly spoken, uncensored.

Even a decade ago, “g.d.” was still too taboo for us to hear on TV without flinching.

But speaking of breaking the 3rd commandment, using God’s name in vain, I think we’ve got things a bit mixed up.

We tend to think of “g.d.” as meaning “curse God” when really it’s the other way around; “God-cursed.” In its worst use, “g.d.” is like saying “God forsaken” because the worst way to be cursed by God is to be sentenced to a state of being where He is not present.

But I think it’s safe to say that none of us are offended by hearing “God forsaken” even though it means the same thing as “g.d.”

Ironically, what isn’t really offensive anymore to hear on TV is when people say “Oh my God!” which seems to be the unofficial catch-phrase of the show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

(I’ve noticed that’s what people yell repeatedly when they enter their new house for the first time.)

To me, “Oh my God” is more offensive than “g.d.” because “Oh my God” is so careless; at least “g.d.” indirectly recognizes God’s sovereignty.

I use this example of “g.d.” to point out this: Obscenity is simply in the perception of the individual, or more relevantly, the majority.

So to answer the question of what would change if there was no censorship on TV, I’d say it would be this:

Many people would be less likely to watch TV, not having a guideline of what to expect.

The flip side is that TV networks would probably be even more conservative on what they allowed on their programs, without having official censors working for them to professionally protect them.

Censorship serves to protect TV networks from losing money, not to protect us from what we don’t want to see or hear.

Otherwise, we’d be more careful to censor the TV ourselves; which is why I don’t watch much on TV to begin with.


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The Bookworm In My Back Seat

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

17 months.

Jack loves reading. In other words, he loves looking at the pages of a book for the purpose of identifying the animals so that he can make their appropriate sounds.

The book he is currently obsessed over is The Beginner’s Bible; a children’s cartoon version of the stories in the Bible. Why does he insist of reading it all the way to daycare and back everyday? Because he’s just that spiritual of a toddler? Or…

To practice his animal sounds.

A couple of minutes into the car ride each day, I hear “Sssssss…”. That means Jack sees a picture of Satan, as a serpent, tempting Adam and Eve with the forbidden fruit.

Five minutes later, it’s “Bzzzzzz…”. Yeah, that’s the Seven Plagues on Egypt; the gnats and lice to be exact.

I’ll hear various spurts of “Pffffttt…”. That would be Jack’s very impressive impression of what a camel sounds like: There are plenty of random pictures of men riding camels throughout the book.

Eventually I hear “bah-bah,” Jack’s version of a donkey, which means Jesus is making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem… on a donkey, of course.

And then for the rest of the book, there aren’t so many animals anymore; mainly just bearded men in robes talking to each other.

Each time Jack gets to this point, he just starts laughing.

It took me a solid week to figure out what was so funny. I’m pretty sure it’s because Jack has never seen a man in real life with a big bushy beard.

So he’s laughing at the brown sheep’s butts on men’s faces. Or, beards, as we recognize them in the non-cartoon world.

Yes, my toddler son leads his own Bible study twice a day in the back seat of my car. Technically.

Welcome to Back Seat Baptist Church.



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No Such Thing as Illegitimate Children, Part 1

Sunday, January 29th, 2012

14 months.

We all know what the phrase means: an “illegitimate child” was born to parents who were not legally married.

The phrase originated from an English and Welsh law that said if the oldest son was a “illegitimate child” he could not inherit if the parents of his younger brother were married. Coincidentally, another particular word referring to illegitimate children has become an intermediate curse word over the years.

There are probably five good reasons you won’t find me using profanity.

One of them is because sometimes in order to call someone a profane name, even and especially jokingly, it puts me in a position to judge a person based on an insensitive stereotype or demographic to which I am indirectly validating.

By calling someone this particular modern day curse word I am referring to, it is insinuating that person’s parents were never married; that he was conceived outside of a committed, loving relationship; and therefore, he is not capable of treating people with respect and decency.

But really, which is worse: the phrase “illegitimate child” for tying the word “illegitimate” to the word “child,” or that particular inglorious curse word I keep referring to because it has gained the status of profanity in our culture?

I think the first is worse. Again, this is me being overly analytical and taking things too seriously (and deep) because that’s what I do as a writer, but it’s a crazy thought to consider any child being “illegitimate.” Right?

Sure, I totally realize we don’t literally mean a kid is illegitimate in a literal, overall sense. But it makes me wonder if we really do see certain children as illegitimate.

Maybe part of the reason I am so passionate about this concept that no child is illegitimate is the fact that, like Ron Paul, I am an avid pro-life supporter.

It’s easy to say that no child is illegitimate, but I’m not sure we are convinced about that. At least not until he or she passes through the birth canal.

Be on the look-out next month for No Such Thing as Illegitimate Children, Part 2.

Image: Red stop button in a machine, via Shutterstock.

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Surprise! This Christian Dad Struggles With His Own Faith

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

14 months.

During my day job, I work alongside someone I consider a “friendly atheist.” Not the kind who has a passionate agenda of converting me out of Christianity or who is obviously mad at God for not existing. He just simply believes that when we all die… poof! That’s it.

He and I have the kind of mutually respectful relationship where we can curiously ask each other questions about the other’s belief system, without it ever turning volatile or even emotional.

Last Friday I told him, “You simply have more faith than I do; to believe we all just got here by random chance.”

He replied, “You know, Nick; I find it very surprising that you, of all people, believe in Jesus and the Bible and all that stuff. I know you well enough to realize you are a very logical, rational guy. It just doesn’t fit you.”

The truth is, he makes a good point. I have no trouble at all believing in each of the miracles told in the Bible; from God creating Adam from dust, then Eve from his side, to Noah being able to gather two of every kind of animal on the ark, to the virgin birth of Christ, to Him being the Son of God, to Jesus making wine from water, to Him walking on water, to Him dying for the whole world and then raising from the dead. No problem.

Why? Because it’s all miraculous. It’s impossible unless it’s true. That’s logical to me.

Sure, I definitely believe the Bible truly is legitimate and factual.

I’m not the kind of person who only believes the parts of the Bible and God’s teachings that I want to; the ones that are easy to believe and that make me feel good. That’s not me.

Instead, I am a Bible-believing Christian who trusts in Christ alone for eternal life and redemption of all my wickedness, yet with humility I am willing to admit, there are parts of the Bible and its teachings that I struggle with.

Notice I said “struggle with.” I didn’t say I don’t believe or won’t believe. It means there are certain things I have to sort out, by carefully reading the Bible, praying to God to help me understand, reading related commentary books and talking to other Christians about my concerns.

I have this theory that most Bible-believing Christians have at least one particular part of the Bible or Christianity they have always struggled with believing. Mine is the existence of a literal, eternal, fiery hell in which people can never be redeemed.

While I’ve never met a Christian who believes that babies go to hell, it seems to be a popular belief that basically everyone else born in sin who dies not knowing Christ as their savior goes to hell forever.

That includes people in other countries who never heard the Gospel. That includes people who were only exposed to judgmental Christians who condemned them. That includes people who have been abused by their earthly fathers and have a deranged idea of what a loving father actually is.

I simply don’t want to be in a position where I have to decide who goes to Heaven and who doesn’t. But I feel that if hell is the fiery place it’s perceived to be by most Christians and their agreed interpretations of Christ’s teachings, then I sort of am in that position.

This can of worms got opened about a month ago when I read the highly controversial book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, by Rob Bell.

It’s not that I agreed with every thing he said, but he was willing to shed light on my lifelong concerns about the Church’s traditional interpretation of hell. He goes back to every use of the word “hell” in the Bible and focuses on the original Hebrew and Greek words used.

So should I believe that all unbelievers, except babies, go to hell if they don’t believe in Christ by the time they die?

I’m going to give a very unpopular answer:

I don’t know. I have no idea. Yet.

I know that I’m supposed to believe it as an evangelical Christian. But I can’t lie and say in my heart I believe it at this point in my Christian journey.

But I’m trying to figure it out as I reread the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. I’m also reading the book, Erasing Hell, by Francis Chan; which counters the ideas written in Love Wins.

Just for the record, I graduated from a one year Bible college called Word of Life Bible Institute and earned my English degree from Liberty University; the world’s largest evangelical Christian university.

I know the Bible very well. But I can’t stand the thought of believing heresy, whether it’s some trendy author’s flawed interpretation of the Bible, or even the Church’s flawed understanding of Scripture.

Nothing has ever caused me to read the Bible with such passion. As a believer of Christ, I want to know who He truly is.

This is real faith. It’s not about having all the answers. Nor is it being okay with not trying to find the answers.

So what does this have to do with being a dad? Everything.

I want to be able to teach my son everything I have learned about God. My faith is everything to me. As his dad, it’s my responsibility to be the spiritual leader my dad was to me.

So to not understand a major part of my faith is difficult for me to deal with.

Like my atheist friend said, I am a very logical and rational guy. I don’t just believe something because I’m supposed to. I believe because God helps me to.

So help me God for my lack of understanding.

Top image: Hands Statue from Hell in Wat Rong Khun at Chiang Rai, Thailand, via Shutterstock.

Bottom image: Marshmallow on a stick over the fire, via Shutterstock.

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