COVENANTAL FAMILIES: BIBLICAL SCHOLARSHIP, PART IV PDF Print E-mail
Covenantal Families

SURFING THE WEB? BLOGGING? FACEBOOK? TWITTER? or JUDICIOUS MANAGEMENT OF THE FAMILY

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Through the years, I have heard others talk about the exorbitant amount of time they spend surfing the web. Without a computer at the time, I could not really imagine exactly what they were talking about. However after years of printing our newsletter each month, and then our magazine, the cost of printing and the labor involved in mailing out all our publications caused us to think about a new avenue for relaying our teachings.

Knowing our struggles, several homeschoolers suggested that we consider emailing the newsletter and placing it online, and so we purchased our very first computer. It was then that I took some time to visit a few websites to get an idea of what they were like. My conclusion was that the Internet was a waste of my time.

Time—that valuable commodity that can never be replaced but about which we are required to give an account—should be administrated judiciously. And since parents’ most important duty is the management and government of their families, it became apparent from many conversations with other mothers that this distraction had become a huge problem. In fact, many mothers who have spent years on the Internet have confessed to me their grief over the time it had stolen from their families. Some have even lamented that it actually took years of their children’s pleading to get off the computer and spend time with them to convict their hearts of their neglect.

Sadly, many have forgotten their heritage—the fact that they are the sons and daughters of the King of kings and that their children, His grandchildren, are the governors of His magnificent kingdom. Like the prodigal son, they leave their kingdom work for seeking foreign lands, visiting at strangers’ houses along the way. Consequently, the princes and princesses’ minds are not saturated with the truth and thus are not properly trained for their role in the kingdom. Furthermore, the Lord of the house is not properly served, while the house itself is not filled with all pleasant amenities. Truly if anyone entered, they would not know that the occupants were even related to the King but would conclude that they were just common folk like most everyone else.

The stark reality of our lives is that whom we serve is known by how we spend our time and who we are by who we spend that time with, as the object of our lives determines our character, making what we live for apparent to even the casual observer. Thus our end is known by the means we use to get there.

TheresNoPlaceLikeHome-Summers.com

After learning how to cut and paste, delete, and send the once handwritten, hand delivered newsletter to Joye for editing and emailing, I was hooked as I could hardly believe how much easier the process had become! The downside was that I did not want our website to be like the others I perused, but like the newsletter we had published for over twenty years—full of practical, encouraging, inspiring, useful information that equipped parents in discipling their children.

The fact remained that the only time Sonia and I went online is when directed by our CHEF conference speakers for gathering information about them for our brochure, when investigating a vendor’s products to determine if they met our conference criteria, once in a while to Wikipedia to verify facts for an article, and on infrequent occasions throughout the year when we made large purchases of books for family and friends from companies like Reformation Heritage. What we desired to know would not generally be found on a website anyway, so we preferred reading books for obtaining our knowledge. And quite frankly, we did not have any time to waste, as eternity was just around the corner. Thus, we determined to wisely use the moments we had left.

So I decided to construct our site just as I had designed our newsletter—by headings such as Heart to Heart, In the Library, Delightful Surprises, and so forth. Newsletters would be posted on the front page, and then be posted under their individual headings. In spite of finally being at peace with this arrangement, a new assertion was presented by several homeschoolers. From their perspective, every legitimate website included a blog. “What was that?” I questioned. And so they sent me on another journey to discover for myself what this new social networking was all about.

Well, I can tell you, after reading numerous blogs, I emphatically opposed the idea until Sonia said, “Mom, you wouldn’t have to use it as other people do. You could use it as another avenue to teach valuable lessons.” And thus our web’s blog was born.

Then homeschoolers began asking if we were on Facebook or Twitter. “What in the world are those?” I asked. After hearing what they were and the worthless content they typically contained (in the scope of eternity), I felt it a heinous crime to waste time on such twaddle, and so I drew the line.

As previously stated, our family does not surf the web or visit blogs. Furthermore, we have never been on Facebook or Twitter. Quite frankly, I am totally bewildered as to why those who profess to be Christ’s vice regents on earth would waste their time on such inconsequential drivel that often emphasizes self rather than God, when each of us must give an account of every minute on earth. As Christians we cannot be casual, passive wanderers on this earth, but must be wise stewards of God’s precious gift of time, devoted to taking dominion for our King.

With this said, we are very thankful that so many of you have commented on how vastly different our website is from others in that it always enriches your families’ lives by pointing them to God, while equipping them for Kingdom work. From the beginning, Jon and I have been solidly committed to investing in our families by imparting information that has great worth, not only for the present, but for eternity, equipping according to God’s Word.

The Blind Leading the Blind

When Jon began our church, he and I were so perplexed by the multitude of fathers who thought they would be allowed to teach when in fact we knew they never studied theological books, much less their own Bibles. They were not leading their own families in worship nor had their own daily devotions, yet they desired to teach others. This is truly the significance of the blind leading the blind, something none of us would desire if we knew the condition of the teacher.

In relation to the Internet, several years ago a friend of mine began to relay to me something she had found on a website’s blog about one of our speakers. However, before she even really got started, I questioned her about what she knew about the writer. Shockingly, she knew nothing about the author yet wholeheartedly believed this stranger’s allegations. I found this very disturbing and did not hesitate to tell her so! Here was someone who neither of us knew, gossiping about one of our speakers who had proven himself to be a very able godly teacher and who had years of fruit to confirm the value of his teaching.

Proverbs 14:15,16,18 “The nave believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps (looketh well to his going)….a fool is arrogant and careless. The nave inherit foolishness, but the sensible are crowned with knowledge.”

2 Peter 3:17,18 “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”

From early on, I have taught my children to consider the source of all information. Accordingly then, if our family reads something, it is going to be from a tried and true theologian or historian who has proven to be consistent with the Word of God.

Therefore, it stands to reason that I would question why, in heaven’s name, literally, would any Christian willingly read what strangers of unknown character have to say about any topic. I just don’t understand because to my way of thinking this is just sheer foolishness. Even with homeschoolers, I always consider the source and take everything with a grain of salt—and that is with people I know.

To further illustrate my point, let us ponder a revelation Ravi Zacharias made in his book, In Walking from East to West: God in the Shadows. In an interview with U.S. News and World Report, Western philosopher Charles Hartshorne was asked on his one-hundredth birthday what his main reflection was. He stated, “We live in a century in which everything has been said. The challenge today is to learn which statements to deny.”

Spurgeon defined it a little more clearly when he said, “It isn’t so much discerning right from wrong as it is discerning right from almost right.”

Yet even beyond the foolishness of reading what strangers have to say, there lies another important facet to my objection in that there is not enough time in my day to accomplish all I desire to do for my family, let alone enough time to study as much as I desire. So I would either have to neglect my family or my time with God to find time for either of these avenues of communication.

Consequently, preoccupation with the Internet reminds me of the verse in Timothy that commands young widows to be about their Father’s business with husbands, children, and homes so as not to open the door for devilment.

1 Timothy 5:13-15 “At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach, for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.”

But this goes both ways. It is as much a sin to waste time on foolishness as it is to allow our children to spend their time writing foolishness—things about themselves and inconsequential thoughts on life, instead of directing them to read and study so that they know something rather than flaunting their sheer emptiness, their foolishness, their worthless verbiage. When God tells us that foolishness is bound up in the heart of children, why would we allow our children to spend so much time corresponding with other children?

And then of course we must consider that unholy alliances should not be, for Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” God elsewhere tells us that light cannot have fellowship with darkness. It amounts to something like this: If you had a prized dog, you would not put him in the same kennel with those with parvo, would you? Or knowing that most horses succumb rapidly to equine infection anemia, would you stable your thoroughbred with diseased horses?

So, knowing that companions of fools become fools, let our children “forsake the foolish and live” (Proverbs 9:6) and instead spend time with spiritually intellectual giants like the Puritan authors.

Our founding fathers certainly understood the vast importance of being trained, tried, and found to be faithful before leading as reflected in the Constitution which states: No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five years. No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years. No person shall be eligible to the Office of President who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years.

Even Christ did not begin his public ministry until age thirty.

Martin Luther hit the problem on the head when he said, “Everyone not unseasonably occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt….”

On the other hand, consider for a moment what Moses looked like after spending time with God on the mount. So filled with His Spirit, Moses had to cover his face so that the people could not even look upon him.

Not unlike Moses then, the people who spend the most time with God are the ones who reflect God’s holiness. Well-read in scripture, theology, and history, they are the ones who truly have something to share. In point of fact, only God and His people have manna to share; all the rest is junk food.

A Time of Preparation

The years prior to the mid twenties and thirties should be a time of preparation, which we will further explore in the next Biblical Scholarship article and then again in the lessons on Property that will follow. But for now suffice it to say that like Moses, who by the way did not start leading until he was 80, our children must first prepare themselves thoroughly by attending to their Father’s business, that of spending time with their godly parents and with God Himself, before they are ready to teach others anything. And I am not talking about placing Bible verses at the end of messages.

Parents, let not the name of God be blasphemed among the pagans (Romans 2:24) because of our gross neglect of managing our children’s time. Instead let us continue to train our children so when the season of carrying the baton comes, the world will see Christ and not the foolishness of a child.

And what is this about friends? Really? Have we not trained our children well enough to know that a friend is indeed someone who rebukes, exhorts, corrects, encourages, teaches, and trains in righteousness—not someone who asks to be their friend. To delude themselves to think that they have a multitude of “friends” who are listening to them is utterly haunting!

Friends do not keep friends from God and the duties He ordains, but continually point them toward Him. Besides, our children’s friends should be the families that we fellowship with as families, not individuals of foolish origin.

This also applies to parents as well, for I have heard some state that they have made friends over the Internet that they naively believe would do anything for them. Really? Something is radically wrong with this mindset. Do these strangers inquire about their devotions and speak of theological insights? Do they concern themselves with the exorbitant amount of time they are spending on the Internet—away from their family—and encourage them to attend to their family’s needs? Would they loan them money to help pay their mortgage if they were out of work for a year? Would they come and clean their house if they were laid up for a month? Would they make them meals if they were sick? I can say with emphatic certainty that they would not because not only are they stealing time from their lives but are as self-absorbed with themselves as these homeschoolers. Friends invest in friends’ lives!

Or how about the homeschooling moms who have contacted their old beaus on the Internet just to see what they are up to. Really? I actually know husbands and wives who left their spouses of many years for those they started chatting with over the Internet. How bizarre is that! Yet none of us are fireproof, for no one can play with fire and come out unscathed.

So again, why would anyone seek out the lives of strangers or even people whom they are not intimately acquainted with when they do not even take the time to invest in the lives of people that they know by exhorting them to read more of their Bible or discuss the truths they have read from excellent theological books or take care of their parents whom they owe their life or bless their pastor’s family by making meals for them? Parents and children alike should be investing their time and labor into their own families, church families, and homeschooling body.

Even the unsaved world has an inkling of the seriousness of this absurd phenomena as clearly displayed in the following article from the Wall Street Journal, which wrote that social-networking services such as Twitter “elicit mixed feelings in the technology-savvy people who have been their early adopters. Fans say they are a good way to keep in touch with busy friends. But some users are starting to feel ‘too’ connected, as they grapple with check-in messages at odd hours, higher cell phone bills and the need to tell acquaintances to stop announcing what they’re having for dinner.”

“Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite the Iliad,” said tech writer Bruce Sterling.

“For many people, the idea of describing your blow-by-blow activities in such detail is absurd,” hypothesized writer Clive Thompson. “Why would you subject your friends to your daily minutiae? And conversely, how much of their trivia can you absorb? The growth of ambient intimacy can seem like modern narcissism taken to a new, supermetabolic extreme—the ultimate expression of a generation of celebrity-addled youths who believe their every utterance is fascinating and ought to be shared with the world.”

On the other hand, Steve Dotto opines that part of Twitter’s appeal is the challenge of trying to publish such messages in tight constraints. “The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful,” says Jonathan Zittrain, professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School . SuperNews! similarly satirized Twitter as an addiction to “constant self-affirmation” and said tweets were nothing more than “shouts into the darkness hoping someone is listening.”

So Let Us Consider

How many books of the Bible have you read this week? How many theological books have you read this week? How many history books have you read this week? How many teaching tapes have you listened to with your family this week?

Out of 21 meal times, how many wonderful meals did you prepare for you family this week? What have you done for your husband this week? How tidy and comfortable has your home been this week? How many delightful surprises did you bless your family with this week?

How often did you do something for your parents this week? What did you do for your elderly family members this week? What did you do for your pastor’s family and other church members this week? What did you do to help your homeschooling community this week?

Did you share the Word of God with any neighbor this week? Did you call a friend to encourage, reprove, exhort, teach, and edify this week?

For where we gather our information, who we talk with, and to what depth we engage in intellectual exercises speaks volumes about our relationship with God.

So with this in mind, are you bringing glory to God in everything that you do? Are you taking dominion for His kingdom everywhere you walk? Careful examination of the moments, which quickly turn into hours, which quickly turn into days, and months and years, reveal the utter foolishness of a life spent on foolish, worthless, empty, meaningless rubbish. Moms, we can either wallow in the mud with the pigs or shed light and cast salt into every corner of this dark, putrefied world.

Life is a race, and only those who take the race seriously will win. So do not be left in the dust!

Let’s Be Good Stewards of Our Time

“So be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

If you knew that you had only a year left to live, or a month, or a day, what would you judge to be the best way to spend your last fleeting moment? This really puts life into perspective. “So teach us to number our days that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

God has offered us an extraordinary gift to be with our children to teach them and train them and learn with them. Sadly, though, many homeschoolers fail to comprehend what God requires of them that they should diligently teach their own children. Teach is an action verb! And when does God tell us to teach our children? When we sit, walk, lie down, and rise up—virtually all day long. For the success of learning is largely due to the active role the parents take in the learning process.

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:1-3).

For “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account therefore in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:35-37).

Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

A biblical scholar will not fritter his time away on worthless activities but will use his time judiciously for the Lord.