1999 Sermons

Do You Have a Great Attitude or a Grrrr-Attitude? 11/28/99

Colossians 2:6, 7

Jesus Christ changes lives. He sweetens spirits, elevates attitudes, gives cause for hope, and inspires gratitude.

In setting the captive soul free He gives wings to optimism, enabling persons to see reasons for rejoicing in the simplest things in life and giving meaning to the most mundane.

Christ gives life meaning and purpose once we give our life to Him. Giving our life to Him means to concede He is who he is and to put our self under His authority and protection.

Colossians 2:6 gives insight into His true nature.

He is the “Christ.” That means He is the “Anointed of God.” He was the member of the Godhead designated to be our prophet, priest, and king.

He is “Jesus,” the historic Savior. The name “Jesus” means Jehovah saves.

He is “Lord.” This title identifies Him as our sovereign authority. It is to Him we owe allegiance and none other.

Colossians 2:9 pulls these three titles together and identifies who He is: “In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”

The “fullness,” that is, the completeness of God dwells in Christ. The Greek term translated “Godhead” is Theotetos. It doesn’t simply mean the attributes of God were in Christ, but that the very essence, the nature of God. Simply put, He was God. The whole fullness of what God is, His supreme nature in its infinite entirety, is who Christ is. The fullness of God dwelt in Christ bodily form. Simply put, Jesus Christ was God.

The phrase “in Christ” is in the emphatic position in the text meaning in Him only does the fullness of God exists. This refutes and disputes claims that we are all little gods.

The text challenges us to “walk in Him” meaning to have a lifestyle becoming of Him. Four participles describe this walk.

ROOTED AND BUILT UP, the first two go together.

– “Rooted” is perfect tense meaning a once-for-all experience.

Sidney Lanier the Poet Laureate of Georgia is known as the “Galahad among our American poets.” He wrote such works as “Songs of the Chattahoochee” and “The Marshes of Glynn.” In the latter he wrote:
“I will fly in the greatness of God as the marsh-hen flies
In the freedom that fills all the space ‘twix the marsh and the skies.
As the marsh-hen secretly builds on the watery sod,
Behold I will build me a nest on the greatness of God:
By so many roots as the marsh-grass sends in the sod
I will heartily lay me a-hold on the greatness of God.”

– “Built up” is a present tense, indicating a continual process. Once rooted we are to keep on growing in Christ.

– “Established” or “strengthened” in the faith is the third participle. It is present tense meaning we are to continue to be strengthened in our faith “as you have been taught.” Our faith is fed by the Word of God being applied to daily experiences.

– “Abounding (or overflowing) with thanksgiving” is the fourth participle.

Thanksgiving is a good preparation time for Christmas. It is a distinctly American holiday. It celebrates no birth, no battle, and no anniversary of soldiers or heroes. It is essentially the celebration of the condition of the heart, a pilgrimage, if you will, into one’s inner self to seek out and find an attitude of gratitude so that we can revere it and rededicate ourselves to living in its grace.1

Thanksgiving is more than a holiday enjoyable as that is. It is to be a lifestyle. If we don’t have an abiding attitude of gratitude we inevitably will display a grrrr-attitude. We become sniveling, complaining, pessimist.

Matthew Henry was one of the greatest writers of Bible commentaries. His life was once threatened and he was robbed. That night he prayed:
“I thank Thee, First, that I was never robbed before;
Second, because altho’ they took my belongings, they did not take my life;
Third, altho’ they took everything I had, it was not much;
And fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

That prayer is in keeping with the text that instructs us to give thanks in all things.

We have been instructed to walk by faith not by sight. There are times it seems God is saying to us: “Are you willing to give me thanks for that which I may never give you the privilege of understanding?” That’s faith!

Martin Rinkart, in the early seventeenth century, wrote one of the great hymns of Thanksgiving during the Thirty Years War. He was pastor in a city of refuge during the war. It was a time of famine and pestilence. He buried over 4,000 people in one year, including several family members. It was in that context of tragedy that he wrote one of our well-loved hymns, “Now Thank We All Our God, With Heart and Hands and Voice.”

In our time of prosperity let’s give thanks regularly.

A thankful person aligns self with what is good and ultimately all good things come from God. This means a thankful person is fine tuning self with the most powerful force in the universe and drawing strength by doing so. If you feel a blast of appreciation or a sudden surge of gratitude, translate it into action. Express it!

I was reminded recently how meaningful it is to express thanks by being thanked. I had just delivered the doctrinal address at the Georgia Baptist Convention. As I left the arena a person introduced himself to me and identified himself as the football coach of a large high school in that city. He then told me how I had led him to faith in Christ when he was a teenager. He had left school and come to the arena and had been waiting under the bleachers for me to come off the platform in order to say thanks.

That act of kindness incited in me a desire to be more expressing to others of thanks. Who do you need to thank for any reason? Don’t delay, do it. Don’t excuse yourself by saying “I’m just not an expressive person.” Though that may well be a confession don’t let it be an excuse. Say it. Learn to say the magic words taught by Captain Kangaroo for so many years, “Please and Thank you.” Add to them the crown jewel of gratitude, “I love you.” Some folks find it hard to say, but wouldn’t you regret not having said it if you knew you had just passed up your last opportunity to say, “I love you.”

My wife clipped from “Family Circle” (11\16\99) magazine these reasons for being thankful.

… the mess to clean up after a party because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

...the taxes I pay because it means that I’m employed.
…the complaining I hear about our government because it means I have freedom of speech.
…the clothes that fit a bit tight because that means I have had enough to eat.
…my shadow that watches me work because it means the sun is shining.
…the parking space at the far end of the parking lot because it means I have the ability to walk.
…my heating bill because it means I have been warm.
…the lady behind me in church who sings off key because it means I can hear.
…the piles of laundry because it means my loved ones are nearby.
…the weariness and aching muscles at the end of a day because it means I have been active.
…the lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
…the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means I am alive.

Having shared it before I want to share again my favorite Thanksgiving Poem hoping you will share my appreciation for it.

Today upon a bus I saw a lovely girl with golden hair,
I envied her, she seemed so happy and I wished I were so fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one leg, wore a crutch, and as she passed a smile.
“Oh, God forgive me when I whine,
I have two legs and the world is mine.”

Then I stopped to buy some sweets; the lad who sold them had such charm,
I talked with him, he seemed so glad, if I were late ‘twould do no harm.
As I left he said to me: ‘I thank you. You have been so kind.
It’s nice to talk to folks like you. You see,’ he said,
‘I’m blind.’
“Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two eyes. The world is mine.”

Later, walking down the street, I saw a child with eyes of blue,
He stood and watched the others play; it seemed he knew not what to do.
I stopped a moment, then I said: ‘Why don’t you join the others, dear?’
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.

“Oh God, forgive me when I whine,
I have two ears. The world is mine.”
With legs to take me where I should go,
With eyes to see the sunset’s glow,
With ears to hear what I should know,
Oh, God, forgive me when I whine.
I’m blessed indeed. The world is mine.

Having received Him we are to “walk in Him.” The expression means to have a lifestyle becoming of Christ. Do you? The Bible exhorts to “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).

The encouragement is to let Christ’s attitude be your attitude. Think about things like Christ thinks about them.

We hear much of the atrocities committed by the Nazis in their concentration camps. Much is said about the Jews killed there and few know almost as many Christians died there also. One was Emil Kapaun. On January 16, 1954, the “Saturday Evening Post” wrote of his experience in a death camp.

“In his soiled and ragged fatigues, with his scraggly beard and his weird woolen cap, made of the sleeve of an old GI’s sweater, pulled down over his ears, he looked like any other half-starved prisoner. But there was something in his voice that was different —- a dignity, a composure, a serenity that radiated from him like light. Wherever he stood was holy ground, and the spirit within him — a spirit of reverence and abiding faith — went out to the silent, listening men and gave them hope and courage and a sense of peace. By his very presence, somehow, he could turn a stinking, louse- ridden mud hut, for a little while, into a cathedral.

He did a thousand little things to keep us going. He gathered and washed the foul undergarments of the dead and distributed them to men so weak from dysentery they could not move, and he washed and tended these men as if they were little babies. He traded his watch for a blanket, and cut it up to make warm socks for helpless men whose feet were freezing. All one day, in a freezing wind, with a sharp stick and his bare hands, he cut steps in the steep, ice-covered path that led down to the stream, so that the men carrying water would not fall. The most dreaded housekeeping chore of all was cleaning the latrines, and men argued bitterly over whose time it was to carry out this loathsome task. And while they argued, he’d slip out quietly and do the job…

On the day they took him away to his death, the Chaplain himself made no protest. He looked around the room at all standing there, and smiled … ‘Tell them back home I died a happy death,’ he said, and smiled again.”

As they loaded him on the litter he turned to one man named Mike and said, “Don’t take it hard, Mike. I’m going where I’ve always wanted to go.”

That is a great attitude, not a grrrr-attitude.

1 C. Thomas Hilton

God’s Talent Search 2/28/99

Matthew 25: 13 – 30
Page 1451 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ gives us all opportunities. What we do with them is our gift to Him.

In each teaching of Christ are many lessons. In the story of the talents is found the principle of aggressively pursuing your opportunities. Jesus wants you to be an achiever. He desires for you to have the fulfilling satisfaction that in all things you have done your best.

The parable of the talents is the story of assets and abilities well used and the tragedy of wasted opportunity. Each of us finds our self typified by one or the other.

Nineteenth-century American poet John Greenleaf Whittier wrote: “FOR ALL SAD WORDS OF TONGUE AND PEN, THE SADDEST OF THESE: ‘IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN!’”

Living up to our potential is the challenge that awaits us with the dawning of each new day. It is a stretching exercise lasting all day every day. Enjoy it.

In the spirit of Whittier’s statement comes the line from the movie “Rocky,” spoken by an aspiring fighter: “I could have been a contender. I could have been somebody.”

The exciting thing about what our Lord expects is not that we be the best at anything, but that we be our best at everything.

Consider the parable in Matthew 25: 13 – 30.

Jesus spoke of the “kingdom of heaven.” It is a term used for the rule of Christ in the lives of His people on earth. All three people in the parable are believers. That is further indicated by the expression the “man traveling,” being a reference to Christ, “who called his own servants.” All three were believers.

A “talent” was not a reference to ability though it is used to illustrate our use of our ability. A talent wasn’t a coin. It was a weight. Balancing scales were used in that day like those depicted as being held by “Miss Liberty.” The value of a talent was dependent upon what was being weighed. If it was a talent of gold it had one value. If lead another.

The fact “talents,” that is a weight of measure are used to illustrate “talents,” that is abilities is a bit confusing. Keep that in mind. Some were given:

One was given two talents and one five talents. They had different abilities but similar opportunities. Their numbers of talents was “to each according to his own ability” (Vs. 15).

Each traded wisely and doubled their talents. Both were equally faithful. It doesn’t matter one made five and one two talents. The important thing is both made 100%. To make such gain they had to be risk takers.

A risk taker is a humble person willing to sacrifice his ego. Most people don’t believe that. They think people who venture big and attempt big things are ego centered. Consider this. What is the basis of egotism? It is our own ego. Egotistical people are concerned about themselves, their reputation, their safety, their image. They want to avoid embarrassment or failure. Therefore they play it safe. They don’t want to risk humiliation or discomfort.

The risk taker has to be humble because like a turtle his or her neck is always exposed. The egotist keeps his or her head safe in the shell.

Are you willing to venture for Christ? Will you dare stick your neck out for Him? Will you speak up for Him when all others are mute or critical? Will you work for His cause and run the risk of being criticized?

Our abilities aren’t equal. But our efforts should be.

In the parable one was a:

The one given the stewardship by his master of one talent buried it. Like the turtle with his head in the sand he wasn’t going to risk anything. Instead he played the now popular “blame game.”

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours'” (Matthew 25:24, 25).

He was a reason faker. He blamed the master who gave him the talent. He didn’t have his master’s will in mind.

Instead of blaming others thank the Lord for that with which He has entrusted you. One talented person is just as vital, important, and strategic in the kingdom as five talented people.

Lessons of lives unwilling to blame others and cop out are numerous.

Ernestine Schumann was born to poor parents. Her father was Austrian and her mother Italian. As a teenager she aspired to be an opera singer. At age 18 she married. This set in motion a series of heartbreaks. Her husband lost his job. After the birth of their third child her husband Paul left her and the children.

Ernestine went from stage to stage begging for a job. Finally the director of the Hamburg Opera Company hired her for ten dollars a month. With that she had to provide for herself and her children.

Her husband had accumulated significant debts. According to German law the wife was responsible for the debts of the husband. As a result her furniture was taken away.

Destitute and in despair she took her baby in her arms and leading her children set out for the railroad tracks. She knew the schedule and what she proposed would be swift and certain. As the train drew near and blew its whistle she knelt. It was cold and the shivering children began to cry. August her son squeezed her hand. Lotta, her oldest daughter cried, “Mamma, mamma, I love you. I love you. Take me home!”

Love and duty triumphed in her motherly heart and she arose and trudged back to their dreary home.

She became resolute not to bury her talent. She wrote Pollini the director of the Hamburg Opera a letter of appeal and gained an interview. She later recounted the interview.

“Well, I got your letter Heink,” Pollini said, “and I laughed when I read it. It was too funny.”

“Herr Direktor,” I cried, “you say you read my letter and you laughed, because it was funny?”

“Yes,” he said, and got up and walked toward me laughing. “You asked that I let you sing the big contralto parts –- you? (And he pointed his finger at me). “Why,” he said, “you are nothing! You will never be a first contralto, never — never — never!” and he shook his finger right in my face and laughed again.

“I can make you, maybe, a good comedienne. Yes, that I can do— but first contralto — ach, Gott! Never!”

Ernestine continued: “Oh I was furious! I went up to him close, my face to his, and I said: ‘Herr Pollini, now I will tell you something! I will be the first contralto —- not only of Germany, but I will be the first contralto in all the world! Mark that!”

Ernestine Schumann-Heink did sing again in Hamburg. As first contralto she sang lead roles in Das Rheingold and Tristan. In Chicago she sang Lohengrin and that audience gave her not one standing applause but demanded she return for twenty curtain calls.

Madam Schumann-Heink did indeed become the first contralto of the world because she not only refused to bury her talent but she would not allow anyone else to bury it either.

From the world of sports comes inspiring stories of those who refused to bury their talent. Some even having only one talent.

From Tanzania came John Stephen Akhwari to run in the 1968 Olympics. With his right leg bloody and bandaged he staggered into the stadium more than a hour behind the winner of the marathon. When asked why he didn’t quit long before he said,

“My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me to finish the race.”

Our Lord hasn’t saved us that we might engage in starts and fits of faithfulness but to finish faithfully.

Don’t hide your talent, invest it for the Lord. Don’t keep it to yourself. Give it to Jesus.

In the parable some were —-

Two multiplied the talents entrusted to them.

It is faithfulness in little things that make or break us. It is the little things of the hour not the great things of the ages that make us.

It is the constant sunbeam not flashing lightening that makes life flourish. It is the calm cool clear water of a quiet stream that refreshes. Not the nosy torrent of a flooded river that quenches thirst.

It is day-in-day-out loyalty to the Lord that makes for a rewarding life.

It really doesn’t matter what talents you have. The important thing is to maximize your opportunities. Each of the faithful ones returned the optimum. The excuse maker, had he been faithful, and the two talented recipients, had they not been faithful would have returned the same.

In sports a person with ability grading 80% who extends a maximum effort will achieve more than a person whose ability grades 90% but only extends a 75% effort. You can be an achiever for Christ regardless of your ability.

In the parable some were:

There is joy inerrant and as a result of a job well done. One of the best definitions of happiness I have ever been able to concoct is: “Happiness is a beautiful by-product of a job well done.”

The faithful servants engaged in various delights.

One of the blessings of doing a job well is the satisfaction of having done your best.

Many people live for the weekends, vacation, or time off. When these times of imagined enjoyment finally come they aren’t enjoyed. There is a simple formula explaining why.

We are prepared to enjoy our leisure in direct proportion to the extent we feel we have deserved it.

Some having goofed and worked half-heartedly know they haven’t earned and don’t deserve time off and they don’t enjoy it. These faithful servants had a sense of fulfillment.

Part of their reward was more work to do. We are our most contented when we have a meaningful task. It is challenging and gratifying. Knowing there is more rewarding work to do gives a sense of purpose. Its fulfilling.

The ultimate reward and fulfillment in the parable is found in verse 21: “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord'” (Matthew 25:21).

Joy is the natural result of being a good and faithful servant.

The ultimate joy is reserved to the end. It is heaven.

We must by love be compelled to give our best our all for our Lord.

It was a big and busy street along which the hurrying feet of a poor little newsboy walked rapidly. He had little interest at this moment in selling papers. It was his mother’s birthday and he was on his way to a nearby florist shop. He had fingered the thirty seven cents he had in his right pants pocket. His invalid was his one concern. Traffic ignored the little guy and he ignored traffic.

As he entered the floral shop the owner said, “Thanks, son, but I don’t need a newspaper today.”

“I didn’t come to sell newspapers. I came to buy some flowers. The lad spoke, “You see, mister, Mom’s birthday is today, and I’m going to buy her the best bouquet in the world. I’ve been saving penny after penny and now I’ve even got a nickel. Mister, I’ve got thirty-seven cents and I want the best bouquet in the store. Daddy’s been gone since I was a boy and now my sister is with the Lord. It’s just Mom and me left. She loves flowers. I’ve been saving and I want to take her flowers.”

The man listened attentively to the little urchin and said, “Alright, son, she will have the most beautiful bouquet in this city today.”

Like an artist the florist added bud after bud and wrapped it well.

“How much is it,” said the child, as he confidently put down his thirty-seven cents.

“Let me see,” said the proprietor, “that will be exactly thirty-seven cents.”

As the elated child walked out the florist said, “Remember, tell your mother happy birthday for me.”

Moments later as the quick-footed boy rushed across the street with the flowers partially blocking his vision the sound of the shrieking of heavy steel brakes on the city rail car was heard. The limp body of the mangled child was placed in an ambulance with the flowers and newspapers.

In the hospital the large eyes of the child searched the white room and finally focused on a man standing over him.

“You are a doctor, aren’t you mister?” “Yes, I am.”

The child’s nervous hand felt across the bed where his leg should have been.

“Well, doc, I suppose I didn’t make it did I?” “No.”

In his pitiful condition he said, “Where is that big bunch of flowers?” The doctor handed them to him.

“Doctor,” the boy smiled through tears he tried to keep back, “today is Mom’s birthday and now I can’t bring her these flowers. Would you take ‘em to her? Would you please? We live on the last street in the East-Side Settlement.

“Tell Mother the flowers are only thirty-seven cents worth, but it’s the best I could do … and tell her I love her.”

The trained eye of the doctor saw life slipping away. Seeing the child’s lips move he bent over to try to hear what he was saying. He heard him repeat, “thirty-seven cents worth … not much … but the best I could do … and I love her … love her … love.” The voice went silent and the soul went skyward.

The doctor went to the project searching for the mother. As he entered the hall he heard the mother call out, “Sonny boy, are you home already —-?”

Seeing the doctor she exclaimed, “Doctor, what are you doing here?” “I brought you some flowers. I merely brought them. They are from your son on this your birthday.”

It was hard for the doctor to tell what had happened. Her sturdy faith calmed her broken heart as she asked, “What were my boy’s last words?”

She heard words which became etched in her memory: “Thirty-seven cents’ worth … not much … but the best I could do … and I love her … love her … love.”

Heart to heart … have you ever given Jesus your best, your thirty-seven cents worth?” Do now.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Whose That Swinger in Your Family Tree? 10/24/99

JESUS CHRIST spoke of a future time and said, “For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be” (Mark 13: 19).

Jesus believed in creation and was emphatic in saying “creation which God has created.”

Disciples of Charles Darwin “Amen” his statement, defining evolution as “the belief that all animals and plants are descended from some single primordial form.”1

This has led an unknown poet of less lyrical ability than Poe to write:
Once I was a tadpole beginning to begin.
Then I was a frog with my tail tucked in.
Soon I was a monkey swinging from a tree.
Now I am a doctor with a PhD.

The theories of evolution and creation have different roots. One is as much of a science as the other. Without anyone to have historically observed evolution, with no fossil evidence to confirm it, with Mendel’s Laws of heredity to refute it, with no observable evolution now in progress, being unable to devise scientific experiments to demonstrate the process, and with God’s Word to dispute it, evolution isn’t much of a science.

A classical absurdity is the belief that the doctrine of special creation is a religious belief because it is based on faith in the Bible account and the theory of mega-evolution is scientific because it is based on facts. Both can ONLY be accepted by faith.

Consider WHAT IF?

What IF evolution is true and all life forms evolved over millions of years from a single primordial swamp. Why aren’t various stages still observable today? Suppose man was a tadpole 250 million years ago, an ape 100 million years ago, and an ape/man 75 million years ago. All of those creatures are around today. Why don’t we find the same process in action today. Why are there no living intermediate stages? Why aren’t there any specimen of tadpole-apes or ape-men today? Even the kind of primordial swamp we supposedly came from exists today. Why aren’t earlier life forms still evolving into near men? Why are there no fossil evidences that it once happened?

The fruit-fly, Drosophilia, multiplies very rapidly and has been used in countless experiments to try to achieve evolution. Because many generation can be observed in a few years it is a “fast motion” example of what would have been required for there to have been evolution. It has been bred in lavatories for thousands of successive generations. Radiation bombardment of the insect has produced a great variety of mutational deformities, but it always emerges as a fruit-fly.

The idea that man descended from an ape has had many scientific challenges. One has been made by Dr. Geoffrey Bourne, director of the Yerkes Regional Primate Center of Emory University in Atlanta. He is an Australian-born, Oxford educated, cell biologist, anatomist, and nationally respected primatologist. He advocates apes and monkeys are the evolutionary descendants of man.2

He based his “flip-flop” theory on the fact that some fossil evidences indicate that man pre- dated his supposed ape-like ancestors. Leakey’s discoveries reveal man to be older than the apes. This leaves man with no ape-like ancestors.3

If evolution is a fact your family tree should have some interesting personalities in it. Allegedly it does. One inevitable question relates to Adam and Eve. If God created them male and female and they had two sons, where did Cain get his wife?


The Bible doesn’t say it but Cain was probably the oldest son of Adam and Eve. Genesis 14: 7 notes that after Cain killed his brother Abel he left home and went into the land of Nod and “Cain knew his wife, and she conceived, and bare Enoch…”

Adam was 130 years old when Cain was born (Genesis 5: 5). An obscure truth is often overlooked in Genesis 5: 4: “the days of Adam were eight hundred years; and he begot son and daughters.”

Adam lived to be 930 years old. Characteristic of people before the flood changed the atmospheric conditions people live longer lives and were very prolific. If very conservative birth rates are used it can be calculated that in the life time of Adam the earth’s population at the time of Adams death could well have been around twenty million.

There is only one explanation as to where Cain and a lot of his brothers got their wives. Initially they had to marry their own sisters. Remember, this was before disease and genetic disorder had developed as in the modern era and consequently feeblemindedness and deformity was not the rule of that day as it is ours. When created “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1: 31). That means the genes of Adam and Eve were perfect. Later things began to degenerate.

The laws of incest did not originate until the days of Moses (Leviticus 18 – 20). Approximately 2,500 years lapsed between Adam and Moses. During this time gene degeneration had progressed to the point incest was forbidden.

If it takes faith to accept that account of creation and development, it takes more faith to accept the theory as proposed by evolution. The evolutionists has to answer how could man ever progress to higher forms by mutations, in light of that process being based on everyone’s children being deformed? Mutations which are required in the theory of evolution are genetic deformities. That would not result in higher forms resulting from lower forms.


Some suggest there is a cave man swinging somewhere in your family tree. Where does the cave man fit in?

First, there always have been and still are cave men today. In every period of history there have been persons to live in caves.

Most references to “cave-men” relate to Neanderthal man and Cro-Magnon man. A false picture has been painted of them. Reputable anthropologist now acknowledge they were true Homo Sapiens, human beings. They represent extinct tribes no different from present-day tribes.

Their fossil remains are found in the so-called Pleistocene of recently deposited strata. This indicates they lived after the flood.

Archaeological discoveries reveal they were not brutish ape/men. They did fine paintings in their caves, cultivated flowers (which many of us have difficulty doing), and buried their dead.4

We tend to see what we expect to see. Since Darwin postulated his theory of evolution secular anthropologists have been seeking evidence to confirm it. Physical anthropology has been dramatically influenced by subjective factors. Many present the evolution of man as a certainty without objective proof.

George F. Howe, Ohio State University PhD, wrote of our tendency to see what we want to see: “The only information available about each fossil man is the shape of the bones and any tools that may have been buried with the bones. The rest of the picture is merely a figment of the artists imagination. Depending on what the particular artist believes, it would be easy to make the same fossil look either intelligent or non-human.”5

Anthropologist E. A. Hooten says you can take the Neanderthal skull and by adding plaster in the right places you can make it look like “a chimpanzee… a philosopher… so put not your faith in reconstruction.”6


Some who allegedly predated us in the evolutionary process are worth considering.

JAVA MAN, Pitheocanthropus Erectus, was found in Java in 1891 and 1892. The discovery consisted of a skullcap, a fragment of a left thighbone and three molar teeth. They were found over a period of one year scattered over fifty feet in a river bed mingled with debris.

Modern anthropologist now consider him to be essentially identical to modern man. The skull is believed to be that of a small woman. The femur is conceded to be completely human. The teeth were concluded not to belong to the other remains.7

PILTDOWN MAN was discovered in the southern part of England by Charles Dawson in 1912 and long called “Eoranthropus” (dawn man). He reputedly lived 100,000 to 500,000 years ago. When found, publicity flooded the world classifying him as being second only to Pithecanthropus Erectus. It was all a hoax. The Smithsonian Institute of Washington, D.C. gives this detail account in “The Great Piltdown Hoax.”

“Careful ‘detective’ work done by Dr. J.S. Weiner, and others, revealed that ‘the lower jaw and canine tooth are actually those of a modern anthropoid ape, deliberately altered (filed down by a joker) so as to resemble fossil specimens.’ The faker had cunningly ‘fossilized’ the jaw and teeth by staining them a mahogany color with an iron salt and bichromate!”8

Piltdown Man was actually an ape that had died 50 years earlier. Yet, today there are still 300 reproductions of him in museums. It is estimated that annually more than one million people visit the American Museum of National History in New York to view Piltdown Man as an ancestor of modern man.

It is worth noting that the entire reconstruction of Piltdown Man was based on one single part of the anatomy, a jaw bone. It was not a complete fossilized skeleton.

Many proponents of evolution live by the philosophy, “Give us a tooth and we will construct the entire anatomy.” Though many fossil remains of complete human beings and apes have been found, not one complete fossil has been found of a supposed lower species of man. All models are based on a few fragments assumed to have looked a certain way.

NEANDERTHAL MAN was found near Dusseldorf on the limestone cliffs of the Dussel River. Since then other skeletal remains have been found across Europe. These are now known to be members of the Neanderthal race of human beings, suffering from rickets caused by a vitamin D deficiency. X-rays of the bones show characteristic rickets rings.9

Two scientists, Straus, and Cave, contend that if Neanderthal Man could be reincarnated and placed in a New York subway — provided that he was bathed, shaved, and dressed in modern clothes — it is doubtful whether he would attract any more attention than some present citizens.10

Living concurrently with the Neanderthal race in Europe was the Cro-Magnon race. They were superior to modern man in size and brain cavity capacity.

NEBRASKA MAN, Hesperopithecus, was fashioned around only a tooth. The tooth was introduced as evidence in the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925 as proof of evolution. Professor H.H. Newman of the University of Chicago made a monkey out of defense attorney, William Jennings Bryan, with this find. The popularity of this tooth was world wide. The “Illustrated London News” sent reporters over and they published pictures of the male and female of the race.

At a time when a million dollars was a lot of money, Dr. William K. Gregory, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, called it “the million dollar find.”

America’s greatest paleontologist of the day, Dr. William Osborn, placed Nebraska Man at the very bottom of the tree depicting man’s ancestors. At the Scopes trial, William Jennings Brian, with no scientific way to disprove the evidence mused that some day it might even be proven to be a pigs tooth.

Though it was part of the evidence that resulted in evolution being popularized in American education it was two years later determined to be the tooth of an extinct pig. Bryan proved to be a prophet, but the damage was done. The myth of evolution was given creditability.

Much scientific evidence reveals man has basically been degenerating rather than evolving to higher forms. The “Law of Morpholysis” (meaning loosing structure) indicates entropy universally tends to move downward not upward. The principal of deterioration can better be evidenced by facts than evolution.

Every physical characteristic found in the fragments from which man’s alleged ancestors have been constructed can be found in modern human beings. For example, there are many tribes which today resemble the Neanderthal race.

EAST AFRICAN MAN, skull 1470, “Zinjanthropus” was found by Richard Leakey in the Laetolil beds near the shore of Lake Rudolf in Kenya.

This revolutionary find prompted an article in “Science News” to herald, “Because of him (1470) every single book on anthropology, every article on the evolution of man, every drawing of man’s family tree will have to be junked. They are apparently wrong.”11

SKULL 1470 is now accepted as an extinct African ape, (Australopithecus). An evolutionary date of two million has been assigned the skull. “Tiny Lucy” as she was known was supposed to be one of our ancestors.

SKULL KNMR 1470 has now been found by Leakey. It is essentially the same as modern human beings. The skull wall is thin, its general conformation is human, and it is devoid of heavy brow ridges, supra-mastoid crests, and other ape like features.12

The problem is Leakey dates Skull KNMR as being over three million years old. That means this human being predates what have previously been considered man’s ancestors. Maybe the “flip-flop” theory is right! In reality it isn’t. However, these finds refute the idea that we have ape like ancestors in our family tree.

Professor Anthony Ostric of St. Mary’s College, South Bend, Indiana, said in an address to the Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, “To say there were pre human ape ancestors transformed into humans is speculative…Man’ unique biophysical and socio-cultural nature appears now to represent an unbridgeable abyss separating him from all other animals, even his closest ‘anthropoid relatives.’

“It is not possible to see how biological, social or cultural forces or processes could transform any kind of prehuman anthropoid or ‘near- man’ into homo sapiens.”13

In your family tree you will find no near-humans. You will find a great variety of human beings each in keeping with his own “kind.”

Jesus’ question is relevant today: “Have you not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…” (Matthew 19: 3 – 6.)

1 Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin, p. 253.
2 “Modern People,” Geoffrey Bourne, Vol. 8, April 18, 1976, p. 11.
3 “Christian Life,” “A Case for Scientific Creation,” David A. Kaufmann, June 1977, p. 69.
4 The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, Henry M. Morris, Creation- Life Publishers, San Diego, Calif. 1978, p. 46.
5 The Bible, Science, and Creation, Maxwell Coder and George F. Howe, p. 61.
6 Up From the Ape, E.A. Hooten, p. 332.
7 The Bible and Modern Science, Henry M. Morris, Moody Press, Chicago, 1968, p. 48.
8 Genesis and Evolution, M.R. Dehann, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich. 1978, p. 87.
9 “Nature,” Francis Ivanhoe, August 8, 1970, p. 35.
10 “The Quarterly Review of Biology,” W. L. Straus, Jr. and A.J.E. Cave, December 1957, pp. 358, 359.
11 “Science News,” Vol. 102, 1972, p. 324.
12 “National Geographic,” R.E.F. Leakey, Vol. 143, 1973, p. 819.
13 “Los Angeles Times,” October 24, 1973, Part 1-A, p. 5.

Shootout at the Not-So-Ok Corral 4/25/99

Matthew 5:21, 22
Exodus 20:13

Jesus Christ said, “out of the heart proceedeth evil thoughts….” as He begins illustratively to list six, the first listed is “murders” and concludes “these are things that defile a man” (Matthew 15: 19, 20).

This week students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado experienced trauma and tragedy when two students murdered classmates. “Why?” has been the question of the hour. Momentarily we will deal with some of the means leading to the action. However, Christ distilled the real reason for us when He said: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5: 21, 22).

There are persons who try to paint Christ as a pacifist. Most such persons do so in emphasizing His humanity to the neglect of His deity. He complimented the Centurion whose sword brought peace. He scourged the money changers and drove them from the Temple. Christ did not argue against anger. He condemned anger for the wrong reasons and corrected persons for not being angry about the right things.

The Ten Commandments were given in a time when murdering was common. In most cultures it was not considered wrong to murder a person. The prohibitions were against killing persons of one’s own clan. It was OK to kill a stranger.

It was given originally in a day when clans and nations did not wage war. War was standard. They had to wage, that is aggressively seek, peace.

It is imperative to note that in the Hebrew the commandment states: “Thou shall not murder.” It does not say “kill.” This commandment is not a prohibition against using animals for food.

At His trial Pilate said “Do you not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release you?” (John 19: 10). In other words, I have the ability to exercise capital punishment.

Jesus said, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19: 11).

When Paul was accused and brought before a court with the power of capital punishment he said, “If I am an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying” (Acts. 25: 11). He consented to capital punishment.

In the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter cut off the soldier’s ear Jesus said, “He who takes up the sword shall perish by the sword.” That is, one who murders shall be guilty and subject to capital punishment. Genesis 9:6 is the source for this insight: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.”

Romans 13 describes the role of government. It is to reward good and punish evil.

Incidentally, some argue that capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. It never was intended to be. It was instituted to let the offender know he was about to meet the Lord and provide an allotted time in which to get right.

There are 5,000 teens who commit suicide each year. Thousands more try, as do adults.

Suicide says, “Jesus isn’t capable of handling my problems.” Thus, it is a negative witness. It is a way of saying, “My problems are too big for Jesus.”

Suicide insults everything on earth.

God gives life and we as individuals do not have the right to take it; even our own.

This calls upon us to exercise habits which contribute to good health. To knowingly violate laws of good hygiene, diet, exercise, and rest is in effect the taking of our own life.

Remember the text does not say “kill” it says “murder.” Exodus 21: 12, 13 provides minute descriptions concerning this. Anyone who commits premeditated murder gets capital punishment. Those who unintentionally took another’s life got completely different treatment.

This text calls upon us not only to not take human life but to protect and preserve it.

In 1973 the Supreme Court legalized abortion. Today we have three abortions a minute. 4,000 per day. Since the law went into effect we have had over 15 million abortions in America.

In Quo Vadis there is the moving story of Queen Lygia and her servant Ursus, both Christians, who were taken to the arena in Rome to die. Ursus is led to the center of the ring where he kneels to pray, resolved to die without resistance. A wild bull dashes in with Lygia as its object.

Seeing the danger to his queen the giant Ursus takes the bull by the horns. Brute strength is pitted against the strength of the heart of the giant. Slowly the feet of the two adversaries sink into the sands. Ever so slowly the head of the bull begins to go down. The hushed crowd then hears the cracking of the bones in the neck of the bull as Ursus breaks it. Gentle Ursus frees his queen and takes her to safety.

We all need to play the role of Ursus regarding preborn life.

One of my dear admired young friends asked me recently how can a Christian justify war? In light of today’s circumstances that is a legitimate question. Participation in war can only be justified in light of it being engaged in as a preservative of life. That is, it must be a defensive war. A war to protect and preserve life.

Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century put it succinctly when he said a just war must meet three conditions:
-It must be declared by public authority.
-The cause must be just.
-The motive must be right.

During World War II William Temple spoke to this issue: “We Christians in wartime are called to the hardest of all tasks; to fight without hatred, to resist without bitterness, and in the end, if God grant it so, to triumph without vindictiveness.”

In a fallen world, to refuse to stop cruelty, tyranny, and inhumanity is to let evil rule. God established human government to protect innocent people from evil aggressors who pervert their role.

“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Rom 13: 3, 4).

Military personnel have to be trained to kill, not just how to kill, but to kill. The same techniques used to train personnel to kill are being used on our total society today, especially youth.

Pearl, Mississippi, Paducah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Springfield, Oregon are now joined by Littleton, Colorado. Why is there a virus of violence in our society? Statistics reveal the magnitude of the problem.

The per capita murder rate in this country doubled between 1957 and 1992. The rate at which we are attempting to kill one another is even greater. The aggressive assault rate has gone from 60 per 100,000 to 440 per 100,000. As bad as that is it would be worse were it not for two reasons.

Criminologist John J. DiIulio recorded “dozens of credible empirical analyses … leave no doubt that the increased use of prisons averted millions of serious crimes. Our extraordinary high imprisonment rate keeps down the murder and aggressive assault rates.”

The second factor is improved medical technology. Wounds that formerly would have killed now are treated successfully.

David Grossman, a military psychologist, compares the training military recruits receive to circumvent their natural inhibitions to kill, to what youth today are subjected. The training methods used by the military, he says, are:
a. Brutalization.
b. Classical conditioning
c. Operant conditioning
d. Role modeling.

All four are impacting our total society daily and especially our youth.

BRUTALIZATION is designed to break down existing mores and norms and to accept a new set of values that embrace destruction, violence, and death as a way of life. A person exposed to proper conditioning is gradually desensitized to violence and accepts it as a normal and essential survival skill in our brutal world.

Starting at age 18, that is months, not years, a child can first discern what is happening on TV and mimic that action.

It isn’t until age six or seven that the part of the brain kicks in that lets them understand where information comes from. Developmentally they are unable to distinguish clearly between fantasy and reality. From today to tomorrow you can say to a young child that’s not real it is pretend, but the young child can’t differentiate.

Data linking violence in the media with violence in society is greater than the evidence linking smoking and tobacco.

CLASSICAL CONDITIONING. College students in Psychology 101 know of Pavlov’s dogs. The dogs learned to associate the ringing of a bell with food. Soon they started to salivate when the bell was rung.

Our youth sit and watch violence, suffering, and murder while enjoying the comfort of home, their favorite beverage, candy bar, popcorn, and companions. In theaters when the hero wastes someone or violently destroys something people laugh and often cheer while they keep right on eating popcorn.

The ancient Romans cheered and snacked while Christians were slaughtered in the Colosseum. We are rearing a generation among which there is a large segment of youth who have learned to associate violence with pleasure.

OPERANT CONDITIONING. Classical conditioning is a powerful mechanism that teaches one to like killing.

Operant conditioning teaches you to kill.

Pilots go through hours of training in flight simulators. When a certain warning light goes off they are conditioned to a specific response. When a different alarm goes off they automatically perform a certain operation. Then in actual flight when one of these alarms goes off they automatically respond. It is a stimulus-response, stimulus-response, stimulus-response process.

When people are made to feel inferior, frightened, or made angry they respond reflexively.

In public buildings fire drills are conducted. When the alarm goes off and there is a practice people do as instructed. One day there is a real fire and people respond reflexively doing as trained to do.

Every time a child plays an interactive point- and-shoot video game he or she is learning conditioned reflex and motor skills.

There is always a stimulus that sets off violent reactions. Anger, bitterness, or resentment is aroused which excites, the heart rate goes up, and the vasoconstriction closes off the forebrain and the trigger is pulled reflexively.

We are developing among our youth some who are conditioned pseudo sociopaths who kill and show no remorse.

Our children are learning to kill and learning to like it.

ROLE MODELS. The military uses role models to train recruits. Our society is doing the same. A frame of mind is produced that results in a complex: “I’ll show those who have been mean to me. I know how to get my picture on TV.”

If you feel discriminated against, left out, treated unfairly, angry, hostile, or bitter decompress. Christ told us of the steps leading to violence in Matthew 5: 21, 22. He said, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders shall be in danger of the judgement”

There is progression in Jesus’ teaching: “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of judgement.”

He is not through chasing the problem to its root: “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22).

Jesus traces the trail of the act back to the attitude.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his book Stride Toward Freedom encouraged people “to avoid not only violence of deed but violence of spirit.”

Jesus taught us to have the highest respect for human beings and to believe in the sanctity of life. He said to be angry with a person makes you susceptible to judgement.

To call one “Raca,” meaning stupid or empty-head may bring you before the Supreme Court. Raca is a summary term for all titles of reproach and contempt. It refers to conduct as being worthless and good for nothing.

To call one a “fool,” that is an outcast or worthless fool places you in danger of “hell fire.” MOROS is the Greek word translated “fool.” It scorns character and is a reference to any expression critical of the mind that classifies the person as morally worthless.

Jesus is warning us against put-downs. Put-down people eventually rise us and strike back.

This teaching strikes at the very basis of our power-dominated social order which sacrifices lives to achieve personal goals.

Jesus taught that anything that leads to sin is sin. If you have inner bitterness, anger, or hate deal with it. Talk with someone who can help deal with the bitter root before the deadly fruit is tasted.

Jesus went further and urged His followers to be ministers of reconciliation.

The reason for not shedding innocent human blood is noted as, “for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6).

Someone might say man is merely an animal. It is true man is classified as an animal but not just an animal. Mark Twain mused, “Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only one that has reason to.”

Human beings are created in God’s image. We are the only animal with the capacity of communicating with God and to whom God has communicated.

Human beings are the only animal form in which God has been incarnated.

Human beings have been described as “God in effigy.” We resent seeing straw people dressed up like Uncle Sam and destroyed. In like manner, God resents seeing human beings destroyed who are created in His image.

We are the only animal with cognitive reasoning ability.

We are the only creative animal.

We are the only animal that knows he is going to die.

The Jews of Christ’s day hated the Greeks and Romans. These foreigners had invaded their country and built their cities there. The Jews prayed for a Messiah who would come as a militant political revolutionary and deliver them. As the white hot passion of their hate grew, violence increased.

Just then a young man came over the mountains from the tiny hamlet of Nazareth preaching “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

Jesus said, “If you love Me keep my commandments.”

In Columbine High School one of the gunmen ask if anyone in a group believed in Jesus Christ. Knowing the intent of the gunmen Cassie Bernall stood. In the next moment she was gunned down for her faith. She was really different and it cost her life.

When young people and adults alike begin to stand for Jesus in opposition to moral corruption then virtue not violence will be the norm of the day.

Diamonds in a Sewer 5/2/99

Proverbs 22:6

Jesus Christ was teaching on an occasion when a group of little children interrupted the scene. Stern adults tried to usher them away. “Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 19:13, 14).

This warm response by Jesus reveals His love for youth. After all eleven of the twelve He chose to follow Him were at the time of being chosen teenagers, that same kind of love for children and the family needs to be evidenced by the church.

John Steinbeck, the noted American author, wrote a delightful book called “Travels With Charlie.” Steinbeck felt he had gotten so out of touch with America that he put his dog Charlie in his pick-up truck and they took off across America traveling from Maine to California.

He relates how he started his pilgrimage by attending a little white clapboard church in Maine. The people who comprised the congregation were not particularly outstanding and the pastor lacked pulpit skills. The pastor spoke of every sin he knew of in the congregation. Forcefully he decried their shortcomings.

Steinbeck said, “I listened to that haranguing and that pastor had more fire in his soul than you could imagine. He preached loud and long and the sermon was not well devised, but there was one note I heard in that church that I didn’t hear anywhere else.”

“I heard a man who loved his people enough to warn them and to call them to accountability. I didn’t hear that from the rest of my journey.”

He continues, “As I went across America I was told how to feel good. I was told not to worry. I was told how to look at obscure points of theology and understand them. But nobody made me feel like he loved me like that preacher in that little white church in Maine.”

Today as I speak of the deterioration of our society I hope you will sense the love and compassion with which it is done. Hear me knowing that to be my heart.

A Princeton research group recently posed the following question to a broad based random sampling of persons. “What do you think is the biggest threat facing American society?” The collective response revealed: “Youth of today pose a greater threat than any foreign power.”

The second question: “Do you think youth of today will make the world of tomorrow a better place?” Two-thirds of the Americans interviewed said, “NO.”

Third question: “What three adjectives describe the youth of today?”


To youth listening, don’t quit listening now. Many of you who don’t fit that profile would, however, agree it does fit many youth. Unfortunately it is the perception of many.

Incidents in the youth society of today raise serious questions. Appropriately question number one is “WHY?” What is causing trends among today’s youth that has resulted in some social scientists predicting that the dawning of the new millennium will be greeted by youth gangs controlling the streets of America?

Current conditions are appalling among students.

In the last six months 24% of 13 year olds, and 60% of 17 year olds have attended a party where marijuana was available.

34% of 13 year olds and 75% of 17 year olds have friends who are a regular drinkers.

19% of 13 year olds and 51% of 17 year olds have seen drug sales on school grounds.

8% of 13 year olds and 27% of 17 year olds have class mates who died because of drugs or alcohol overdose.

In the last two years across America there have been 6,000 reported incidents of youth carrying weapons to school. One year only five cases were prosecuted. The next year only eight were prosecuted. There is no need having a law if it isn’t going to be enforced.

These facts help construct a profile descriptive of many youth. However, there is a vast mass of youth that don’t fit. There are many with integrity, commendable character, virtue, high morals, and admirable attitudes.

For example, April 20, 1999, two youth in Columbine High School with a student enrollment of approximately 1,800 captured the nations attention. Two students. That day approximately 1,798 students went to that high school to cause no problems.

Yet, youth violence, the youth crime rate, juvenile delinquency, and disrespect for human life and property is at an all time high. Legitimately, the question is asked: “WHY?”

Hillary Clinton authored a book entitled, “It Takes A Village.” The title comes from the expression, “It takes a village to rear a child.” Though the village of her reference is basically the government there is a sense in which one’s total environment impacts life.

If it takes a village to rear a child there is an open sewer running through the village today. In that sewer there are some beautiful diamonds, some outstanding youth.


Let me share three factors contributing to the cause that can be a part of the correction.

Three elements are involved as determinants in a person’s conduct. When there is a horror such as Columbine High School answers are found in these three elements.

In a day when people are professionals at playing the blame game we have become adept at not assuming our own responsibility. There is a book on the subject entitled “I’m Not My Fault.”

The blame game isn’t new. It was first played in the Garden of Eden right after the first sin. Adam said to God, “Don’t blame me, the woman you gave me she…” Basically, God my eating of the fruit of the forbidden tree isn’t my fault it is the fault of you and Eve.”

Eve responded, “Don’t blame me, the serpent he…”

The serpent, “Don’t blame me. Look, God you are the one who put the tree there…”

In the final analysis individuals who perform deeds are accountable for those deeds. Other influences are brought to bare but ultimately there is individual accountability.

Parents when children are little you make decisions for them. Prayerfully work at making good ones because you are patterning for them what is right and what is wrong. There comes a time, however, when the parent can no longer decide for the child. The parent can influence the decisions but can no longer make them for the child. That is a difficult time. Especially when the child is seen to be making wrong decisions. This transition from making all decisions to not being able to make them for a child isn’t an instantaneous act it occurs gradually. In a moment I will talk about this time of transition.

Ultimately for the child individual accountability is a factor in conduct.

Members of the Trench Coat Mafia said they were picked on and made fun of. Who hasn’t been. Try being a 6’4″, 135 pound red head in the ninth grade and see if you get picked on.

Bill Gates, do you have a mental physical profile on him as a youth. Do you suppose he was picked on?

The things that happen to you are going to make you bitter or better. You personally are accountable for which.

Part of the blame falls on our morally and spiritually decadent society. In our demands for freedom we have licensed excesses.

One historian said of the ancient Greek culture, “When the freedom they sought most was the freedom from responsibility then they ceased to be free.”

Freedom must have limitations. The only true form of total freedom is anarchy. Every society has to draw lines. Some of ours must be redrawn.

For example, the youth involved in the Columbine massacre were heavy into Nazi philosophy, music, and paraphernalia. In Germany, the home of the Nazi movement, today it is illegal to display a Swastika or other Nazi emblems. Nazi music is forbidden. Virtually all Nazi materials obtained in Germany today have to come from America.

If America is the village involved in rearing our children there is an open sewer running through the village. That sewer is certain interactive video games, particular TV programs, various internet sites, and different music. Once attracted to any of these a child becomes resentful if anyone makes critical reference to them. However, there is much empirical evidence showing they tend to desensitize persons to morality and virtue.

As a result a segment of our youth culture that has been over exposed to these negative influences has lost regard for property and human life.

Over three decades ago when the taking of a pre-born babies life was legalized it was said the day will come when some will feel since it is OK to kill a child before birth why not after birth.

That great theologian Dolly Parton in an interview with Barbara Walters hinted at our problem. Barbara asked her “How would you describe your dress style?” With a twinkle in her eye she said, “When I was growing up, they called people who dressed like this ‘trash.’”

A recent article described the American culture as a “trash culture.” Many have made their minds moral landfills in which trash is dumped. When the Jerry Springer Show enjoys its currently popularity and is joined by Sally Jessy Rafael, and Montel Williams, that’s trash. Bevis & Butthead, the Simpsons, and O.J Simpson get high ratings, that’s trash. Certain rappers and Hammerstein, that’s trash. Jimmy Swaggert and Jim Bakker, that’s trash.

An appeal was made to the Christian in the morally decadent Roman society: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12: 1, 2).

It is an appeal to avoid the group mentality. A modern translation of this passage reads: “Don’t let the world push you into its own mold.”

To avoid being molded after the world’s style resolve:

Parents are counseled to “Train up a child in the way he should go ….”

Once a person becomes a parent the number one responsibility assigned by God is to parent that child well.

For generations parents attempting to rear their children well have partnered with three entities: THE HOME, THE SCHOOL, AND THE CHURCH.

THE HOME: Here a child is to be nurtured and groomed. Here values are established. The absentee parent or the detached parent results in children not being trained in the home. The process of training is time consuming and demanding. Parents spend time with your children one-on-one. Build trust and rapport. You will find it enjoyable and gratifying.

To a child “love” is spelled T – I – M – E! Spending time with a child gives a sense of importance. Listen to your children, talk with them, observe their world, and be involved in their lives. Tell them you love them and then show them you love them. Start the day they come home with you. There is normal stress as children grow into adolescents but if a foundation is built in infancy problems are resolved.

THE SCHOOL in America is where many misdeeds are enacted and thus the school is blamed. However, when you consider the condition of many youth as they arrive on campus you have to concede teachers have a challenge not of their making. Tragically our schools are deprived of prayer and the Bible, however, there are no laws prohibiting them in the home. Mom and dad, get in the Book with your children. Don’t rear Biblically illiterate children.

An old proverb says, “As the twig is bent so grows the tree.” The application is obvious. If a small tree is bent in a certain way, that is the way the tree grows. Likewise, when a young child is taught certain concepts and conduct, that is the character developed.

I want to make it clear I am not stereotyping either students or teachers. There are some super youth who have deep faith in Christ, evidence obedience to His Word, and seek to live their faith. Thank God for them.

There are many Christian educators who are doing all they can within the guidelines superimposed on them by bureaucrats to live their faith and help their students.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to these and acknowledge my admiration and love. However, there are trends that are cause for concern.

Perhaps you saw her as Barbara Walters, not your typical conservative, standing before a large American flag and peering sternly into the camera and saying, “The alarm has sounded. The clock is ticking. But most of us are still asleep.”

Of what imminent danger was she warning? Acid rain? AIDS? An inflationary crisis? No. She was referring to the deterioration of the American educational system. She shared statistics evidencing test scores are plummeting. Most students surveyed thought the Holocaust was a “Jewish holiday.” Many could not locate the United States on a world map. Others had never heard of the Federalist papers.

Our schools are experiencing a one in four drop out rate.

There is a high degree of functionally illiterate. Some estimate there are 60 million illiterate adults. One study indicates that 61% of all 17 year olds can’t read their high school textbooks.

A commission of educational, political, and business leaders issued the “Code Blue” report on the problems of American children. One conclusion: “Never before has one generation of American teenagers been less healthy, less cared for, or less prepared for life than their parents were at the same age.”

Metal detectors, gun control laws and other external laws won’t curb what is happening in America. If you build a ten foot fence someone will build an eleven foot ladder. If you then build a twelve foot fence someone will build a thirteen foot ladder.

The change must be internal not external. It is the polluted mind that must be dealt with.

THE CHURCH: A significant segment of America including the media has gone cold turkey off the faith community. For many the church is not a player in rearing their children. Thus one major player in character development is omitted.

Emerging out of the story of Columbine High is the story of the Burnall family whose daughter Cassie was one of those killed there. Their story was chronicled on “20 – 20” recently. Earlier I made reference to there coming a time in the parent\child relationship when the parent can no longer make decisions for a child but can only influence the decisions.

Cassie started running around with the wrong crowd and became rebellious. She started dabbling in Satanism, using alcohol and other drugs. She was in the vortex of self-destruction. Her parents intervened and drew new well defined lines. They forbid her to associate with her old friends, the wrong friends. Placed restrictions on her and allowed her only social outlet to be going to church. Sounds like a horror story, boot camp, doesn’t it? New friends invited her to go to youth camp. There she encountered Christ and embraced Him as Savior. She returned home and told her mom, “Mom, I have changed, I have really changed.” A new refreshing Cassie emerged. The parent\child relationship became a joyous one. Cassie’s friends tell of her warmth, charm, and genuine love for all. Her faith grew stronger.

April 20, 1999, a member of the Trench Coat Mafia held a gun on her and asked, “Do you believe in God?” Her deliberate response knowing what the result would be was an emphatic “Yes!” The gun sounded, Cassie lay dead, a martyr for her faith, and was escorted by angels into the presence of the Lord. A diamond had been removed from the sewer.

Cassie refused to let the world press her into its mold. Instead she was a transformed person.

Several primary factors led to her transformation: one, her home, two, her new friends, and three the church.

That brings us back to square one, individual accountability. Cassie assumed the accountability for her own eternal destiny. In doing so she prepared for eternity by embracing Christ as Savior.