Would You Go?

It was 1971, and the man was quickly convicted of murdering a U.S. military officer. He was sentenced to public execution. The town buzzed. It seemed like everyone had come to the gravel pit near the city to see the man put to death. The police set up a barricade to keep the crowd back. Soon there were refreshments and souvenirs being sold, making the execution resemble more a carnival than a solemn occasion meting out due justice. A post was driven into the ground before a wall of dirt, and then a cloth screen was placed in front of it. A target was strategically fastened to the screen in line with the post behind it.

The condemned man was led in, blindfolded, and tied to the post behind the screen. The foreign military’s firing squad lined up facing the target. On command, the five men fired. It took only a second for the death sentence to be carried out. What happened next surprised those overseeing the event. The crowd surged forward past the barricades and tore down the screen to get a closer look at the result of the five bullets.

At first I believe most Christians would be amazed at how people might actually want to see such a sight. However, we must remember the lost will act like the lost, and therefore, we should not be surprised by such behavior. Jesus said about the lost in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jesus said that the unsaved will imitate their father.

Many years ago, Christians were victims of activities that were beyond what I will describe here. Men, women, and children were condemned and brought into an arena for the entertainment of others. Wild beasts were also released, and in time only the wild beasts remained alive. Unwillingly, Christians were brutally killed for the pleasure of others. How could humanity ever stoop so low as to take enjoyment watching others suffer? The answer to this is that Satan is a murderer and takes joy in it. Satan takes delight in the evil and violence that is perpetuated against human beings in our world. Therefore, we can expect the lost to take enjoyment in it as well. This isn’t being said in a harsh, judgmental way. It is simply the way it is for a man without Jesus Christ.

The Bible is very clear regarding the depravity of the lost soul. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16). “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalms 14:1). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). Whew! Would you believe there is more about this in Scripture that we don’t have room for here?

As we read what the Bible says about the depravity of the soul, it is easy to see how a lost person could take enjoyment and be entertained watching violence, including someone being brutalized or murdered. I must confess that I attended the execution with my military friends and the local townspeople. I was there participating in the festive spirit. I didn’t rush forward afterwards, but I might as well have. I remember even in junior high school how I was part of the crowd hurrying outside to see a couple of boys fight it out.

But would I go now to that type of public execution for the sake of seeing the gore, or a legal event for entertainment where people could hurt, injure, maim, or even kill others? NO! At salvation, Jesus gave me a new heart and changed me. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). My new heart no longer enjoys seeing fights, strife, brutality, and killing.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The key is “if any man be in Christ.” I am a new creature in Christ: the old has passed away and all things are become new. My new heart is now indwelt by the Spirit of God. My Lord Jesus came to earth to die on a cross for mankind. He loves man so much He gave His life as a ransom so that man wouldn’t suffer for all eternity in hell. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Think about that love. If I have even an ounce of the love of Jesus in me, just a portion of His Spirit, how then could I ever take pleasure in or be entertained watching someone being hurt? Is it possible for a believer to enjoy such a thing? How could I ever call human suffering entertainment?

Even though we should expect the unsaved to act like the unsaved and not judge them for it, Christians should not act like the lost. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:5-9).

My question for each of us is: “Would we ever go to see some act of brutality if we had the chance?” If your answer is “yes,” I would encourage you to evaluate your heart in light of Scripture. Maybe the “yes” came without really realizing that Jesus would not have one of His children observe such a thing. However, think about it, and ask God to try your heart, and seek to find out what is wrong.

Now for those who answered “No!” I have a few thoughts to share. Praise God that we realize that we could not be entertained in such a fashion. However, for the sake of our children, let’s take this to a deeper level. Jesus said in John 8:38, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” What do our children see us doing?

If children see their fathers being entertained by violence, they will want that for themselves. Maybe a father enjoys watching TV shows or movies that are violent. Perhaps they are actually tame ones by today’s standards, where people are neatly killed. Still, they involve violence against those Jesus died to save. Regardless of the fact that it is fake, it is being presented as real. If this is the example a father sets in how he spends his time, according to John 8:38, his children are likely going to find pleasure in the same.

If someone tells us about a “great” movie or TV show where this type of stuff is going on, do we want to hear all about it, or do we challenge them as to how they could consider watching such a thing? Are we salt and light not only to a lost and dying world but also to “brothers” who are being shameful in their conduct and being a stumbling block for their children? It only takes one generation to lose one’s children.

Men, if you find yourselves drawn to ungodly viewing, I implore you to reconsider. May we identify with our Father in heaven and not with the father of lies. May we be good role models for our children and not be stumbling blocks. May we love the light and flee the darkness. May our children observe in us the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of Satan.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).

Posted in: Dad's Corner

The Importance of Daily Time with Jesus

It was a normal Friday morning of cleaning and piano practice for the Maxwell family. Just before lunch, I sat down to do some computer work. Sarah called everyone to eat, and I jumped up with gusto. Between me and my meal lay the vacuum cleaner which I abruptly crashed into with my bare foot. Immediately I experienced that excruciating pain one has when they clobber a toe into an immobile object. In this case, though, the pain didn’t subside as quickly as normal because my little toe was indeed broken.

This mishap curtailed my ability to walk with Steve in the early mornings after our personal Bible time—a custom we have enjoyed for many years. I sorely missed the exercise my walk afforded me and the talks Steve and I have while walking. However, I gained a wonderful benefit from those extra minutes of being home each morning. I worked at making myself get up with Steve at our normal time, although the temptation was to stay in bed and sleep a bit more. By maintaining my usual schedule, I was able to spend what had been walking time for more Bible reading and prayer. Spending over an hour with the Lord each morning is something I only dream of because generally a half hour a day for my quiet time of Bible reading and prayer has been realistic and workable in my life. That extra time with the Lord each morning for six weeks was just what I needed.

It is not uncommon for a mom to come up to me after a workshop and want to discuss specific difficulties that she is dealing with in her life. After I listen to her problems, I try to make my first question: “Are you having daily, personal time to read your Bible and pray, knowing that is the key and most important starting point?” More often than not the answer will be that she isn’t spending time with the Lord and that she realizes this is what needs to change before anything else will.

I hear over and over again from moms that they struggle with getting up in the morning to spend time with the Lord. Usually there is a reason why she can’t awaken early enough to have Bible reading and prayer. It may be not going to bed at a reasonable hour the night before, a sick child up in the night, a nursing baby, or simply the enjoyment of staying in bed. While it is true that most of these reasons cost us sleep, we also have to make decisions about our use of time based upon our priorities. If we had an important doctor appointment after a late night, we would make ourselves get up so we wouldn’t miss the appointment.

Before Steve and I became serious about our daily, personal Bible reading and prayer time, we had to come to the point of seeing our need for and the value of this time. We would say we wanted to rise early enough to spend time with the Lord, but we were quick to let our many excuses for not getting up give us the freedom to stay in bed.

When I was in the years of pregnancy and nursing babies, I had scheduled a nap in the afternoon. This gave me the security of knowing that if I was really tired from getting up early in the morning, I had time set aside later to take a nap. With a newborn, I would sometimes change my Bible reading and prayer time to early afternoon, although it was not my preference nor did I want to leave it this way for long. Still, I could sleep in the morning and also rest knowing I would have time with the Lord, because it was scheduled for right after the children laid down for their afternoon naps. I believe it is best to have time with the Lord first thing in the morning, but when that isn’t happening, another time that works is better than not having the time at all.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Isn’t this our heart’s desire: that God would thoroughly equip us for every task He has called us to do? This verse tells us that God’s Word is the key to this equipping. It will teach and correct us. Yet, it is easy to say the right thing—that we want God’s grace to direct and help us through our days—but fail to do what we need to do to make it possible for Him.

Psalms 119 is a beautiful chapter showing us the value of Scripture to our daily lives. I challenge you to read through it several times. Let’s look at some of these verses to see how God’s Word meets the needs we are experiencing.

Do we struggle with sin? “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11).

Do we need counsel on a difficult area of our lives? “Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counselors” (Psalms 119:24).

Am I afflicted in some way? “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (Psalms 119:50).

Do I want to be wise and make good decisions? “Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments” (Psalms 119:66). “Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Psalms 119:98-100).

Do I need comforting? “Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live: for thy law is my delight” (Psalms 119:76-77).

Do I need to know how to make it through a trial? “Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction” (Psalms 119:92).

Do I need direction? “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105).

Do I need rest and protection? “Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God” (Psalms 119:114-115).

I know what it is to be busy, homeschool, have a large family, be pregnant, be nursing a baby, have sick children, and have more to do than there seems available time. Yet I am convinced that there is nothing I could have done with that time I spent each day with the Lord Jesus in Bible reading and prayer that would have been any more beneficial to my life, my husband’s life, my children’s lives, or my homeschooling. I have a dear friend who has gotten up for years in the middle of the night to read her Bible and pray. It is the most consistent, uninterrupted time of day for her. Then she goes back to bed and to sleep. If Bible reading and prayer is truly important to us, we will find time for it and then be disciplined to keep it.

I am convinced that it is the heart cry of homeschooling moms to live in such a way that will honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Plus, we want to guide our children in the paths of righteousness as well. May I challenge each of us that the starting place for this—the place to begin dealing with depression, anger, laziness, impatience, fear, anxiety (I share more about these issues in Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit), and every other need we have—is daily spending time with the Lord. It is likely that the busier we are—and the more we struggle with taking time to read our Bibles and pray—the needier we are for this time. May we each determine, with God’s help, that we will be committed to making Bible reading and prayer as high a priority as eating our meals.