Thursday, May 13, 2010

Biblical Authority and "Personal Spirituality"

"I can admit of no independent free-lances in Christianity.  Christians are soldiers who belong to an army.  They have commanders, and must obey them.  Christ himself, 'gave some to be apostles... some to be pastors and teachers.'  Nobody can be a Christian and declare Jesus as his only pastor, just as nobody can obey a general while refusing obedience to the captain, or even the sergeant, though these may be less competent than the commander in chief.
We used to live under a free enterprise system, and we have applied to our churches principles and ideas taken from this system.  But Christianity is not of this world.  There is no such thing as free enterprise in Christianity.  There is organization, hierarchy and, I repeat, obedience."
-Richard Wurmbrand, Romanian pastor who spent fourteen years being tortured in communist prisons

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Poverty and HDTV

The other night I was driving down a street in my town, heading home from a long meeting. The houses in this particular area would be considered small and run-down by American standards. The roofs were in disrepair, paint was peeling or non-existent, cars were old and rusty, yards were filled with old children's toys and the occasional appliance. I was obviously in a low-income portion of Chanute. Then I noticed something very interesting. By glancing through windows as I drove down the street I could see that at least 50% of these homes had large, flat screen hdtv's entertaining the inhabitants.

I thought this fact to be an interesting commentary on American society. I want to be very careful about what I write in this post. I don't personally know the owners of any of those houses or the wide TV's in them. I don't know their financial situations. For all I know, some of them received those TV's as gifts or won them in sweepstakes. And I would be lying if I said I didn't have a (fleshly) desire lurking in me for the latest and greatest electronic entertainment in my house.

With all that being said, here is my main thought: I believe entertainment has become an abominable idol in our culture. Do our wooden entertainment centers and HDTV stands not look like altars in the centers of our homes? Do we not delight in the latest episodes of our favorite television shows more than the last church service we attended? Are there not millions of Americans who desire a fancy, shiny, high resolution TV so much that they are willing to go further into debt on their credit cards in order to purchase one? (I'm guessing that is the case on the street I mentioned to start this post.) Do we not yearn for entertainment? Do we not crave it? Do we not habitually worship at the altar of entertainment weekly and most probably daily?

And is this love for entertainment not a part of so many problems that plague Americans?

With all my heart, I believe that the spiritual health of the church in America is negatively affected by this issue more than any of us can imagine.  I wonder what we will say to the Lord when we stand before him to give an account...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Life's Work

About two years ago I got the grand idea that I was going to write a book.  I came up with a great topic, a catchy title and opened a new Microsoft Word document to start hammering away my first work.  I still have that file on my computer with little more than 200 words and lots of scattered thoughts.

Today a friend of mine asked me how my book was coming (he too has the dream of writing and publishing a book).  I explained to him that after my work day at the school, I come home and immediately get busy playing with my boys, changing diapers, taking out the trash and whatever else I can do to ease my wife's load at the end of a crazy day.  With four kids five and under, every part of our evening is pretty busy.  Usually, by the time we lay our kids down to sleep for the night and fulfill the last request for a song or a prayer or a hug or a joke, we use our remaining bit of energy to straighten up the house (neither Grace nor I can relax in a messy room) and then we collapse. 

To be real honest, our evenings after the kids go to sleep are not often very productive.  Our energy is zapped and we usually cuddle up on the couch and quietly talk or watch a movie.  Those 2 or 3 hours at the end of the day are the only time I have to work on something like a book, but at this stage in my life my mental, physical and emotional energy is spent elsewhere.  Today after explaining all that to my friend I felt completely ok with it.

It sounds exciting and fun and fulfilling to write a book, and someday I just might, but there is nothing more exciting or rewarding or eternally impactful I could spend my time on than bringing up my children in the wisdom and instruction of the Lord. 

There are plenty of people writing good books, but there is only one man who God has chosen to be Dad to Trusten, Brahm, Samuel and Liberty- that's me.  If at the end of my life I have written no books and most people in the world have no idea who Ryan Wheeler is, I will be satisfied and fulfilled to simply know that my children grew up to walk closely with the Lord.  And though I'm sure it has happened, I cannot expect my children to get there if I neglect them during these precious years for ministry and projects that seem more impactful. 

There is no greater way to impact the world and the future than by being a godly dad to as many children as God will give me.  My children are my life's work!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stirring Speech

The speech below was given by Congressman John Boehner minutes before the vote to pass the Healthcare Bill. If you can ignore the couple of bleeped out words when he gets fired up, this speech is worth watching.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God Wants My Heart and I Should Want Theirs

In Isaiah 29:13 God says, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Sometimes I feel this way about my kids. They say, “Ok” or “Yes sir,” but I can tell that they are NOT happy about it.

God desires my heart, not just my outward compliance so I should want the same from my kids. If I succeed in getting them to comply with my demands, but never win their hearts, then I will have failed because when they leave my house they will conform to whatever new thing CAN win their hearts.

With this in mind, I am praying for strength and wisdom to train and discipline my children well. I want to diligently teach them righteous living and thinking. But I must not neglect their hearts!!! God help me to reveal my heart to my children and then do everything righteously possible to win theirs!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Straining to Desire

Matthew 5:6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be satisfied.

I have this verse written out and hanging on the wall over my desk. I want to be reminded daily that if I desire righteousness I will get it! I want to remember that my desire has to be intense enough that it feels like hunger and thirst. I want to remember that receiving what I hunger and thirst for brings me true joy. I want to remember that my ultimate happiness depends on simply desiring the right things. I want to remember that if I desire the things that God desires for me (like righteousness), he will grant me those things and I won't be disappointed. And most of all, I want to remember that this is the best possible life!

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD,and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Straining and believing with all my heart,

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Athletics and Christianity

Lately I’ve been wondering what to do about my kids and sports.  I sincerely feel torn because I was always involved in sports growing up and enjoyed them, but I’m not sure they were good for my soul.  As a dad, I truly want to consider the positive or negative impact athletics will have on my childrens souls.

It feels weird to even write that last sentence because I know that I may appear weird or fanatical for it.  My temptation is to just start introducing them to sports and signing them up for city teams because it seems like that is what I’m supposed to do as an American parent.  I honestly don’t desire alienation, but I also don’t want to allow something into my family just because it is normal and expected.

I’m just not sure what God thinks about athletics.  This has been bothering me for some time, but especially since I have been the administrator at a small Christian school that participates in a varsity level basketball season.

I have witnessed ridiculous rivalries, parading arrogance, unrestrained anger, aggressive finger-pointing, humiliating words, and lots of tears.  Our teams, coaches and fans usually are not the ones behaving this way, but there have been moments.  Side note:  most of those behaviors listed above have come from adults in the stands or coaches from the bench not from the players, but its easy to see signs of the poor attitudes trickling down to the kids.

What does God think about athletics, really?  I've heard over and over again since high school that God does not mind sports and is actually in favor of them, but how do I really know this?  Maybe he does approve of them, but if he doesn’t, I want to know… even if I’m the only one willing to search it out.

I know that competitive team sports offer many positive lessons to their participants.  The ones that always seem to be mentioned are:  teamwork, diligence, dedication and character.  But are sports the only ways to teach our young people these qualities?  Will my kids truly not learn these things if I don’t involve them in athletics?  And could sports be just another opportunity for me to neglect my calling to train and teach my kids in these ways, trusting a coach and sports program to do it instead?

Also, if sports are so effective at making quality human-beings out of our children, then why is it that 99% of the time the most successful athletes are the last people I want my children looking up to?  I know that there are exceptions to this, but I suspect that athletes like Kurt Warner, Tim Tebow and David Robinson are men of character and integrity despite their involvement in sports, not because of it.

One of my biggest concerns is the tendency for pride to flourish on the sports court, field or arena.  I've seen men totally lose their Christian testimony while participating in sports.  I’m afraid I have done the same thing in the past.  I have often felt that ugly things come out of me while competing in a sport that I never experience in all the other areas of my life.  I know that not all Christian men seem to struggle this way, but there are enough who do to cause me considerable concern.

In my opinion, pride is a more dangerous enemy to my children’s souls than anything else because it is the great granddaddy of every other sin.  Not only that, but in my life I feel pride to be THE HARDEST sin to combat because of its many disguises and its ability to deceive me.

If I view pride the way God does, would I involve my children in an activity that can quickly cause pride to sprout and flourish in their hearts?  Jesus said that when something causes us to sin we should cut it off.  Unfortunately, I like most other men I know, have a pretty hard time imagining cutting sports out of my life and my children’s life- even as I am suspecting that sports could be spiritually detrimental.

That in itself gives me great cause for concern.  Have I unintentionally made athletics an idol?  And if I have, am I willing to crush and burn it?

There is so much more I could write on this topic, but I’m curious what other people think.  Feel free to chime in…