Tag Archives: Moses

What Did Moses Know About Childhood Education?

Moses and Ten Commandments

It turns out Moses was right.

Most Christians, those who believe that the Bible is God’s revelation of himself to humans, know that Moses was a man who spoke face to face with God. He led the Israelites out of Egypt, and he carried two huge stones down from Sinai after God wrote commandments on them with his finger. At the end of his life he preached a sermon to the Israelites and told them that they absolutely, positively, without fail must teach their children everything they had learned about God in the wilderness. Moses said,

These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Because Moses spoke these words, people who use the Bible as a guide to faith and life dutifully teach their children about God. They read the Bible. They take the children to Sunday School. They pray with their children and for their children. They introduce their children to Jesus, and they teach their children how God wants them to live. They teach children that human beings are born sinful, and they teach their children to repent of their sins, confess them and turn away from them.

I bring this up, because secular thinkers accuse Christian parents of being child abusers, because Christian parents tell children that they are born sinful. Yet Christian parents say these things, because Moses admonished parents to do so. Moses, the man who spoke with God face to face, said these things, because the things children learn when they are young stick with them all their lives. Whoever teaches children what to believe teaches them the way they will live. The Catholic Church used to say, “Give us a child till he is seven years old, and you can do what you will after that.” They said that, because they had learned through millennia of childhood education that what little children learn is crucial.

Secular thinkers, however, try to tell Christians that they should not interfere with the minds and hearts of children while they are small. Secularists tell Christians that it is wrong to “impose” religion on children when they are so small and vulnerable. Of course they say that, because they do not want children to be Christians; they want children to grow up secular and believe secular teaching.

How do I know that this is their objective? I know it, because of what secular teachers are doing. A recent online article reports the work of a lesbian teacher whose mission is to “help” children learn to accept homosexuality as a normal way of life. Pam Strong says that in many years of teaching children about homosexuality, she finds that they are most willing to accept the teaching in kindergarten. If they learn about homosexuals in kindergarten, they pretty much accept it as the norm by fifth grade, according to Ms. Strong.

This is exactly what Moses told the Israelites, many thousands of years ago. This is what generations of Christian parents have learned, too. Five-year-olds are ready and willing to be taught by adults. They want to know what adults know, and they want to please adults, so they try to be obedient. Kindergarten is a good time to teach children to know and love God.

What did the Israelites do about the instructions Moses gave them? The book of Judges chronicles 400 years of history after the Israelites heard Moses speak, 400 years during which they entered and partly conquered the Promised Land, 400 years during which it is said of the moral climate in Israel,

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25

The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him. Judges 10:6

As you notice in the first passage, the writer tries to blame Israel’s misbehavior on the lack of a king, but Israel’s history proved that kings were no guarantee of obedience to God. In the second passage, the writer lists gods of the people they were supposed to defeat and drive out, but instead of defeating those gods, the Israelites found them attractive. Before long, they were serving the gods of their enemies. They forsook God. Clearly, they were not talking of God when they lay down, when they got up, and when they were with their children. They were listening to someone else, not God, not God’s priests, not God’s judges. If every generation of Israelites had heard about God from the day they were born, they would have known him and served him, and history would be different.

The same thing is happening in the US. In ancient Israel, the parents were surrounded by the people of Canaan, whom God had told them to drive out. Those people served gods for whom an orgy could be an act of worship. Those gods could be manipulated with sacrifices, rituals, and magic words. Instead of turning to God who had brought them out of Egypt, the Israelites and their children worshiped gods that were more appealing. In the US today, the more appealing god is yourself. Do things for yourself. Satisfy yourself. Experiment with your sexuality and decide what makes you happy.

This is what secular thinkers are now teaching Christian children in kindergarten. Secular thinkers know the deep truth of what Moses said, and they are making sure they get their message for children engraved in their minds early. They say, “With these big ideas there are also very big words that are very hard to understand. I find that whether it’s kindergarten . . . [or] grade six, visuals help a lot.” The secularists who say that sex is for personal gratification, and teach that everyone should experiment and figure out what sort of sex is fun, think they are teaching big ideas with big words that require pictures for enhanced understanding.

They are right. They are right on all points. Small children are highly impressionable. Small children readily learn anything that is taught in appealing way. They love pictures and learn a lot from pictures. They want to please their teachers, and to please their teachers, they will act out behaviors encouraged by teachers. They do it when they are taught to think homosexuality is normal, and they do it when they are taught that Jesus loves them.

The problem for Christians is this: Secular thinkers are promoting the idea that teaching children that Jesus loves them is brainwashing. To teach a child to sing “Jesus Love Me” is brainwashing according to the secular worldview. The same secularist says that teaching children that homosexuality is normal makes the nation a better place. Jesus is a danger. Homosexuality is a good thing. Secular thinkers are turning the minds of children upside down.

Would it be so easy if the children already knew Jesus? Of course not. The question is—do the little children of Christian parents know Jesus? The answer lies in surveys by Barna and Pew, which reveal that the number of adults in the US who claim never to have had any religious connection at all is increasing side by side with the number of adults in the US who were exposed to religion as children but abandoned it at adulthood. I use the word exposed, because children who were dropped off at Sunday School as children, whenever Sunday School did not conflict with soccer, clearly do not get the morning, noon and night immersion in a life of faith that Moses imagined. On the other hand, children who hear about homosexuality in kindergarten, and ever thereafter, are immersed in news, books and public conversations that admire homosexuals and belittle Christians.

Christians must start teaching their children about Jesus in the cradle, and they must follow the admonition of Moses to live their faith night and day. That really should not be a problem. That is what Christians should be doing anyway. This is what Jesus told us to do—deny self and follow him. If Christians do this, they will be bringing up their children to know Jesus and the teachings of Jesus. Parents will pray in the sight of their children when life gets tough. Parents will pray with their children to give thanks for good things and ask for strength to endure bad things. The name of Jesus will be spoken reverently by parents and children alike, and the children will figure out for themselves that “omg” is not a respectful attitude toward God. Statistics tell us that fewer and fewer parents are doing these things. If Christians in the US want a different fate than that of the Israelites, a fate that was a natural consequence of their rejection of God, then Christians in the US need to stop acting like the Israelites. Statistics say that Christians are falling away from faithful worship, rejecting the Bible as a guide for faith and life, and engaging in mind-melds with various religions in what secularists celebrate as “interfaith dialogue.” Instead of standing as bright lights of truth before their children, Christian parents are chasing after the same fool’s gold and self-serving lies that attract their children. The children learn from the parents that it is important to “fit in” and “get along” and “don’t make waves.”

In public school, the children will inevitably hear all the secular teachings. Secularism dominates the public schools. If nobody has ever told them different, they will be vulnerable little children who want their teacher to praise them, and they will go along to get along. If they do not learn any different from their parents, they will do what their parents do—blend in with the surroundings. Do Christians want their children to grow up knowing how to stand strong for their faith, or do they want their children to fit in with secular culture?

Was Moses right? I say he was. What do you think?

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: “Paris cimetière Montparnasse716” by GFreihalter – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_cimeti%C3%A8re_Montparnasse716.JPG#/media/File:Paris_cimeti%C3%A8re_Montparnasse716.jpg

 

 

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Truth, the First Weapon

The major reason that the events at Benghazi in 2012, now nearly nine months ago are still headline news is a deficit of truth. Many people feel betrayed and disappointed, even alarmed, by administration speakers who avoid giving the facts about Benghazi to the citizens. Some people believe that misinformation provided by individuals speaking for the administration was deliberate, and the specter of uncovering lies by senior officials raises other horrifying images, including the moment when Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency in disgrace.

We all want truth and expect truth and even normally assume truth when someone speaks. That fact actually makes it easy to deceive us. Salesmen have a bad reputation because they often find ways to speak the truth in words that lead a prospective buyer to the wrong conclusion. If a sales representative says to a prospective customer, “This price won’t be available next week,” the customer assumes that the price will be higher next week. The words sound like a friendly, helpful warning that to hesitate is to lose, and the customer may rush into a poorly-considered purchase, only to discover that when next week comes, the price is lower. The salesman did not lie, but he certainly deceived.

People don’t like to be deceived. Even though people play little games with their own minds by claiming there is a difference between a “white lie” and a “black lie,” nobody likes the moment when unpleasant truth shines through a web of deception. If, for example, someone provided incontrovertible evidence that the President of the United States knowingly and deliberately withheld military assistance from the beleaguered Americans in Benghazi, the deceptive words that have hid that truth would only make the discovery of the truth more disturbing. A failure to speak truth is at the root of many broken relationships and broken nations.

Truth is at the root of the name of God, given to Moses at the burning bush. You may remember that God had a very tough job for Moses after he got Moses to pay attention. Moses recognized right away how impossible this job was, because he knew the pharaoh of Egypt personally, having grown up in Pharaoh’s household. Moses tried repeatedly to weasel out of the assignment, but God would not relent. Moses’ life story would not make him very credible to the Israelites, and he knew it. They would want to know why they should believe that God had sent him. They had every reason to believe he was a spy for the pharaoh, even though they knew that Moses had left Egypt as a fugitive from Pharaoh. Why should they believe that Moses had actually escaped justice at Pharaoh’s hand and committed himself to help them escape as well? Moses demanded of God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13)

God’s answer to Moses was “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3:14) In other words, God said, “I am exactly who you think I am, I am the One I appear to be. You were stopped in your tracks by a miraculous phenomenon – a bush on fire that did not burn up. Who do you think can do that?” Jesus, God in the flesh, later said the same thing in words that clarify the meaning of God’s words to Moses. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Bottom line: God is Truth. You can trust God. You can trust God’s words and God’s messages and God’s promises. If God says, “I am with you,” he will be there, because he doesn’t just speak truth; God is truth.

Maybe this is why Paul listed the “belt of truth” first when he was naming the weapons and protective armor God has given us for our lifework of combat with evil. If Paul had been standing behind Moses at the burning bush, listening to the call of God to an impossible job, Paul would certainly have recognized the experience. God did the same thing to him. After Paul’s amazing experience with Christ near Damascus, a man named Ananias came with a message. The message God gave to Ananias for Paul was this: “I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” (Acts 9:16) That is not the kind of message people like to receive. They would rather hear, “Your dreams are about to come true. Dream it and do it. You can get rich, because God wants you to be rich while you have a good time.” That is not the message God gave to either Moses or Paul. They were both asked to march onto a battlefield where evil was lying in wait for them, and both of them were told to speak and live the truth.

If Paul had been standing behind Moses when Moses received his call, Paul might have immediately told Moses what he told the Ephesians who were engaged in the same battle. Paul wrote, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Moses was headed to Egypt to lead a battle with Pharaoh, who thought he was a god. Paul traveled over much of the Roman empire battling what might have appeared to be political and cultural pressures, but they were all headed up by an emperor who thought he was a god.

Paul would have told Moses that his first weapon in confronting Pharaoh was truth. The truth God spoke when he said, “I am who I am.”  When Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he said, “Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth.” (Ephesians 6:14) That is ultimately what won the day against Pharaoh. The Egyptian pharaoh actually thought he was the son of one of the gods in the Egyptian pantheon. Paul would have told Moses, “Just tell the truth about God who is Truth, and all those false gods will be defeated.”  Ultimately, after Moses stood firm and spoke truth, Pharaoh died along with his army, demonstrating the ultimate truth that he was not a god. God, Truth, repelled the lie of Egypt’s gods and the lie that Pharaoh was a god. With that truth established, Israel could see the real truth and move forward in God’s plan.

Paul died at the order of the Roman emperor, who still thought he was a god. Yet two thousand years later, the Roman Empire is history, while God’s church, those who believe and speak God’s truth, outnumber any other religion on the face of the earth, and growing daily.

God has provided Christians with many weapons in the war against evil. Probably the most undervalued weapon of all is truth.

What faith challenge or cultural challenge faces you today? How could you use truth as a weapon in this conflict? Add your comment to the conversation and share your thoughts with others.

Why Do I Blog?

Image courtesy of Simon Howden at www.freedigitalphotos.net
Image courtesy of Simon Howden at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Why do I blog? Readers of this blog may be interested to know that I ask myself this question fairly often. When I first started blogging, I blogged, because people told me every writer needs a blog. During those years, I had a real problem finding subjects to write about. I asked myself why I was blogging, and the answer was that somebody else thought I should. I spent my real time and effort trying to write books. Nobody read my blog, probably because what I wrote betrayed that I didn’t know why I was writing. Nobody read my books, either, despite my slogging through the submissions process for several years.

Over years of writing books, meditations, prayer guides, Bible studies, book reviews and even a blog, I came to realize that blogging was a very important part of my call to serve Christ as a writer. I began to understand that I was learning things in my studies and research that fitted a niche that I didn’t see anyone else serving. I was trying to understand something in my own life, and as I learned and grew through prayer, research, and Bible study, I realized that God wanted me to share what I was learning. I had not become an expert on anything, but I had dug deep and uncovered some truths that might bless others if they knew. Last May I participated in a project where I met people and engaged in conversations that helped me to get serious about answering God’s call to share.  

One of the first questions a blogger inevitably asks herself, if she is honest, is this: Who am I to tell anyone anything? I wasn’t the first person God called who responded that way. When God called Jeremiah, Jeremiah responded by saying, “Ah, Lord God! I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” God replied, “I am with you.” God called Moses, and Moses responded, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God replied, “I will be with you.” Jesus stood on a mountaintop in Galilee and called his few faithful followers who were still with him after his death and resurrection. He gave them an impossible task, saying, “Go … and make disciples of all nations.” None of the gospel writers record how the group responded, but it seems likely they were just speechless. Wouldn’t you be dumbfounded if someone told you it was your job to evangelize the entire world, even if you could take forty people to help you? To their dumbfounded silence, Jesus said, “I am with you always.” If the Bible is telling the story correctly, God did not send Jeremiah or Moses or the apostles out to do a job; he invited them to go along with him to do that job. God called me to share what I am learning as I grow in faith, and when he called me, he invited me to go along with him to do this work. Every time I ask myself “who do you think you are?” I remember that God said, “I am with you.” Why do I blog? I blog, because I can’t help myself, and I blog because God has invited me to join him in the work of sharing what he is teaching me.

In that context, I made a commitment to post five days a week, and I promised God I would do my best to share with integrity what I was learning. I began to see a pattern in the things I learned: 

  • The culture of the US has been growing more and more secularized over the past fifty years, with the pace increasing dramatically in the past twenty years. The current administration is the first ever to express itself in explicitly secular terms. Christians cannot separate sacred and secular as secular thinkers do, and this difference makes some interactions quite volatile. Christians must remember that Christ died for all people, including people who want to suppress the expression, perhaps even the existence, of Christian faith. 
  • The culture of the US is shuddering under the impact of growing numbers of Islamic adherents. The events of September 11, 2001, color all interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims in the USA, but the rapid increase in the Islamic demographic makes it essential that Christians understand Islam and follow Christ’s guidance in our relationships with Muslims. From Open Doors International comes a suggestion to use the word Islam as an acronym for “I Sincerely Love All Muslims.”
  • The only way to have Christ-like interaction with the world around us is to know Christ. We must deepen our prayer life and deepen our understanding of Scripture. Only by engaging in the disciplines of the faith can we mature in faith and develop a worldview that embodies Christ’s redeeming love for all people.

As I grow to understand more and more about these three areas, I try to share what I learn and invite others to share with me what they are discovering

Why do I blog? Because God has called me to serve him as a writer, and he guides me daily to new understanding of that mission. Why do I blog? I blog to share with my readers what Christ has taught me, not because I know anything special, but because any beggar who finds bread should share it with other beggars on the same road.

I am very grateful to the readers who have chosen to follow my blog, and I equally value those who pass through as visitors from time to time. I appreciate their comments. When a reader shares with me what he or she has learned in the context of what I am learning, I grow. I blog, because God asked me to share and promised to go with me and help me to do my job well. I blog because as a blogger I am learning from my readers as I hope they learn from me.

WhyBlog

A Hymn for Meditation

Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways

Oh, that the Lord would guide my ways
To keep his statues still!
Oh, that my God would grant me grace
To know and do his will!

Order my footsteps by your word
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear. 

Assist my soul, too apt to stray,
A stricter watch to keep,
And should I e’er forget your way,
Restore your wandering sheep.

Make me to walk in your commands,
‘Tis a delightful road.
Nor let my head or heart or hands
Offend against my God.

               Isaac Watts

  • The psalmist once asked (see Psalm 15:1) who could approach God? What does this hymnwriter think about this question? 
  • Some people think that the need to keep God’s rules and laws is  a great burden. Moses thought God’s laws were so good and just that other nations would envy Israel because of them. (see Deuteronomy 4:6-8) What does the hymnwriter think? What do you think? 
  • Why does this hymnwriter think there is hope that God will come to bring him back if he wanders away in disobedience? (see Luke 15:1-7) 
  • Try praying the words of this hymn. Speak them slowly. Try putting your own name into the words. Think about our call to be Christlike in our lives. What issues in your life come to mind as you pray this hymn?

A Verse for Meditation

I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:35

Questions for prayerful thought:

  • “I am” is the name of God, given to Moses in Exodus 3:14. How is your understanding of the verse changed by that information?
  • Jesus claims that those who receive him as the bread of life will never be hungry. Compare this statement with his statement to the Samaritan woman when he said, “The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” What is he really saying?
  • How does someone come to Jesus?
  • Is Jesus talking about the same experience when he says, “comes to me” and “believes in me?”
  • Where do you experience the bread of life?