Wealth Gap or Parent Gap?

There has been a great deal of discussion the past few years about the increasing wealth gap and what to do about. Most of the practical solutions involve some aspect of expanding government or developing new government policies to either redistribute wealth or increase pay for employees or some combination of both. No doubt that the wealth gap also leads to a gap in education, job skills, and opportunity. Few politicians, however, are looking behind the wealth gap and asking hard questions. Such as, what explains this gap? Is there something in our society that is contributing to this disparity.
True, there has always been poverty and in fact Jesus stated, “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.” (Matthew 26:11, NASB95). Poverty will be a part of the human condition until the consummation of creation and the establishing of the new heaven and earth. Does this mean we should ignore it? Of course not! For the bible commands us as children of God to care for one another. But this does not mean that we should be in favor of every policy that comes down from Washington, especially if those policies do not address the heart of the matter, or at least a major contributing factor.
While politicians have been ignoring the underlying cause, some sociologists and many clergy have not. Two recent books I have read went straight to the heart of the matter: Home Economics: the Consequences of Changing Family Structure, Nick Schulz; and From Family Collapse to America’s Decline, by Mitch Pearlson. Both works were highly informative and yet frightening at the same time. The good news is the answer to our poverty and education gap is staring us right in the face. The bad news is, the numbers are getting worse and nobody at a policy level is talking about the real problem. What is the real problem? The breakdown and collapse of the traditional or nuclear family has been devastating on family income and education. The numbers are clear, children who are raised apart from their biological Father and Mother, either as a result of a divorce or out of wedlock birth, are at much greater risk for poverty and all of its effects. Many single-parent households struggle financially and this affects the neighborhood and social community that the child inhabits. Often, the schools they attend will be sub-par due to a low financial base.
But perhaps more striking was the fact that children in single-parent households with a middle-class or upper-middle class income do not fare much better. In fact, Pearlson was quite surprised to find that children from upper income single-parent homes and children in a home with a step-parent were closer, statistic wise, to the low income single-parent household then the child with both biological parents. The reason why is partly due to what Schulz refers to as; social capital. Children who are raised by their biological parents develop social capital. This includes a sense of security, commitment, hard-work, trust, and self-identity. Social capital is critical to developing economic capital. Social capital is also crucial to doing well in school.
All of this affirms the biblical pattern for marriage and family. It seems as though God really did know what He was doing when he designed man for woman and woman for man, the two coming together to become one-flesh with the product of that one-flesh union being the children. Even further, that one-flesh union is to be forever. This is not only what is best for the children, but for the individual in the one-flesh union as well. “And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”(Matthew 19:4–6, NASB95)

Are We Preparing Our Children For Marriage?

A recent article in the Texas Baptist Standard highlighted a study by a Baylor professor which revealed that Evangelicals are divorcing at a higher rate than those who claim no religion at all. Which raises the question; are we preparing our children for marriage? I think the answer to that question is no.

The guilty party in this case is both the local church and the parents. First, the number one obligation of parents is to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Of course, this necessitates that both parents are together and that they themselves are serving the Lord in sincerity and truth.

The current culture war that is being waged on marriage is attempting to eradicate gender differences and make Fathers and Mothers irrelevant. Research, however, shows that both males and Females bring something valuable and irreplaceable to the raising of children. Second, parents must not only model a covenant marriage, a lifelong commitment to the well-being of each other, but teach their children how to be a husband or a wife. Many young people that I have counseled prior to marriage have never discussed matters of the home.

Who will do the laundry? Who will cook? How will the bills be paid? Parents, by failing to engage their children with household chores and tasks, are simply fueling the divorce rates in this country. Third, parents must model reconciliation. As believers, we have been reconciled (Rom. 5:11; Eph. 2:13-16) to God though we were formerly children of wrath (Eph. 2:3). Thus, we now have been given a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). When our children see us, fathers and mothers, practicing forgiveness and reconciliation they will make this a part of their marriage life instead of following the world’s example which is to seek a divorce.
Finally, we cannot forget the local church’s role in this. Are churches teaching and preparing young people for marriage? We have lots of marriage conferences for married people, but what about conferences and workshops preparing young Christians for marriage. Marriage is about fulfilling our purpose in God’s creation (Ge. 1-2; Matt. 19:4-6).

When we understand marriage in this way, then our marriage is not just about us, but it is about our life as it is being lived before the presence of God. God is and must be the center of marriage. The Sun is the center of our solar system. As a result, the planets and moons all rotate in a harmonious unity. The same goes for marriage. When God is the center, then husbands and wives will live in a harmonious unity with the One and true God who revealed Himself in Jesus of Nazareth.

Are we preparing our children for marriage? posted by Dr. Ray Wilkins

Reading List 2016

So last year I put together a pretty hefty reading list as a personal goal.  Some of the books were quite large, others not so much, but I knew it was going to be a challenge.  Preaching every week, teaching three bible studies, and being the family school bus limits my time to read for personal advancement.  Nonetheless, I was able to scratch off nine books from my list.  Now that is not the only books I read last year.  There were several books, not on my list, that I felt compelled to read for sermon preparation.  So I carried over about half the list from last year and added some new books.  Lets see how I do this year.  I encourage you to join me in putting together your own personal list.


My Reading Wish List for 2016
 Classical Arminianism, by F. LeRoy Forlines
 Biblical Theology, Geerhardus Vos.
 A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, by G. K. Beale
 Salvation and Sovereignty: A Molinist Approach, by Kenneth Keathley
 A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology, by J. Richard Middleton
 The Drama of Doctrine, by Kevin J. Vanhoozer
 These Last Days: A Christian View of History, Eds. Richard D. Phillips & Gabriel Fluhrer.
Old & New Testament Studies
 Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony, by Richard Bauckham
 The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach, by Michael R. Licona
 True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis, Daniel R. Heimbach
 The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Paulin Theology, by Jason C. Meyer
 The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law, by Thomas R. Schreiner
 God, Revelation, and Authority, 6 Vol., by Carl Henry.
Practical & Apologetic Studies
 Lost and Found: the Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them, Ed Stetzer
 Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation, Ed Stetzer
 In Defense of the Bible, by Steven Cowan and Terry Wilder
 Worldview: The History of a Concept, by David Naugle
 How Do You Know You are Not Wrong? By Paul Copan.

You will notice in this list a broad range of authors that span the spectrum from Arminian to Calvinist, Premillennial to Amillennial, Conservative and Moderate. I think it is important for a minister to read from a broad range of perspectives in order to be the most effective Pastor and Preacher that one can be. With so many educated people in our society and numerous voices both theistic and atheistic, pastors cannot neglect their continuing education.