Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pretending to Love Jason Collins

Pretending to Love Jason Collins
            I suppose Monday, April 29, 2013 will go down in history as a great day for America.  Jason Collins came out of the closet to announce to the world that he is homosexual.   He has been depicted as a "hero", a "trailblazer" and as "our Jackie Robinson".  Kobe Bryant was one of the first to congratulate Jason for his courage.  Michele Obama was quick to announce her support for Jason:   "So proud of you, Jason Collins! This is a huge step forward for our country. We've got your back!" 

            Bill Clinton couldn't help bloviating on the controversial topic declaring that Collins' announcement was “an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community.”  In case you may have forgotten, this is the same president who signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 while he carried on a secret affair with Monica Lewinsky.  It was also Bill Clinton who signed the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy which stated that an openly gay, lesbian or bisexual service member would of necessity be discharged from the military.

            Chelsea Clinton, a former classmate of Collins at Stanford University, tweeted her support:  "I am very proud of my friend Jason Collins for having the strength & courage to be the first openly gay player in the NBA”.  Chelsea claims credit for helping her father finally 'evolve to the truth' about homosexuality.

            Unfortunately Bill Clinton represents the culture of America.  What was once condemned as wrong is now not only tolerated, it is enthusiastically accepted.  It is now 'cool' to be gay.  Were we wrong then and now we are right or were we right then and now we are wrong?  Human nature does not evolve toward the truth, rather it leans toward sin.  The Apostle Paul described his natural struggle with sin in his letter to the Romans.  (Romans 7:23-25)

            Not to be outdone by the Clintons, Barack Obama weighed in on the matter through White House Spokesman Jay Carney:  " We view that (Collins announcement)  as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country and commend him for his courage and support him."  I am reminded of another call Obama made to Sandra Fluker to support her as she clamored for free contraceptives.  I also remember a call to the Occupy group who camped out on Wall Street to encourage their rebellion.  I remember a "beer summit" in support of Harvard Professor Henry Gates who made unfounded accusations of racism against a Cambridge police officer.

            Please wait while I pause….still pausing….thinking….trying to remember.  I can't remember any calls to injured American servicemen.  I do remember a vague empty promise to get to the bottom of the Benghazi incident.  It certainly seems we have a president who is more than eager to lend his support to divisive issues but feels little motivation to create patriotism and loyalty to the country he serves.

            I know I'm going to get slam-dunked for what I am about to write.  It always happens when I express my opinion on this issue.  I don't know Jason Collins personally.  It seems I would like him if I did know him.  Are those supporters of Jason Collins really expressing love for a friend?  Among those of us in Christian circles we like to refer to it as 'tough love'.  It is the determination to defend truth even in situations where it generates pain.  Someone needs to tell Jason Collins the truth about homosexuality, not because they hate him but because they love him.

            While nearly everyone will commend Collins for his courage to declare himself a homosexual, few will commend ESPN's Chris Broussard for having the courage to tell the truth.  Who is a real friend of Jason Collins?  Is it Bill or Chelsea Clinton?  Is it Barack or Michele Obama?  They are jumping on the band wagon for political exposure.  They are like parasites leaching off of every individual who has found their way into the national spotlight.  Jason, your real friend is Chris Broussard.  (http://www.buzzfeed.com/mikehayes/nba-reporter-calls-homosexuality-a-sin-on-tv)

            The sports analyst expressed his opinion of ESPN's "Outside the Lines." "I'm a Christian. I don't agree with homosexuality," Broussard said. "I think it's a sin, as I think all sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is. If you're openly living in unrepentant sin ... that's walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ," he added. 

            Please wait while I applaud….clapping hands…feeling proud…stilling applauding the courage of Chris Broussard.

            Earl Fowlkes is the president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, a group that supports black individuals who are gay, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered.  He made a ludicrous attempt to compare Jason Collins with Jackie Robinson.  "…he will be a little, miniature Jackie Robinson."  The attempt of the homosexuals to hijack the Civil Rights Movement is outrageous.  Martin Luther King fought for rights that were being denied those who belonged to a race characterized by skin color.  Our race is predetermined before birth.

            There is no scientific evidence that people are born gay.  Sexual orientation is not written in our DNA, it is more about how we define ourselves.  (http://www.citizenlink.com/2010/06/14/are-people-really-born-gay/)  Ironically, Jason Collin's has a twin brother who revealed that he was shocked when he learned his brother was gay.  With no evidence to support a genetic cause, we have descended to the level of granting rights for certain behaviors.  As you can only imagine, opening this Pandora's Box will only lead to more confusion and controversy.

            Chris Broussard is the lone voice crying in the wilderness.  Homosexual behavior is a sin that distresses the heart of a holy God.  If a holy God is to remain holy he must one day administer justice for the sin of homosexuality.  Broussard added more truth to the issue.  He declared that all sex outside of marriage is sinful in the eyes of God.  As Christians, we love Jason Collins. We love him enough to tell him the truth.   We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  Christians to whom forgiveness has been granted through the Savior, Jesus Christ, want to share this good news with whoever is willing to believe.


Kevin Probst - Teaches History and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus, Georgia.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Students in Christian Schools: Transformation or Indoctrination?

I have attended or taught in private Christian schools for well over two decades.  I presently teach in a Christian School in Columbus, Georgia.  My experience teaching in Christian education has been overwhelmingly positive.  I walked away from public education twelve years ago and dedicated myself to educational ministry.

A common complaint I hear from non-Christian public school students as well as Christian school students is that there isn't a thimble full of behavioral difference between the two.  If this is true it is tragic, if it is not true then it is a perception that must be addressed.  This leads us to a most relevant question:  Are students who attend Christian schools being transformed by the redeeming truth of Christianity or are they simply being spoon-fed a well-learned jargon that brings no transformation but rather produces a generation that exhibits a "form of godliness but denies its power." (2 Tim. 3:5)

Students who have been spoon-fed a Christian worldview but have not been taught or permitted to ask the hard questions are often swept away when they get to college and experience an environment that is decidedly atheistic but one that encourages enquiry and contrary opinions.  They often mistake the falsity taught in an open and challenging  atmosphere as truth and conversely question the truth they learned in an atmosphere that discouraged consideration of the 'hard questions'.

What is the mission of a Christian school?  Is it to evangelize those who are lost?  Is it to disciple whose who have accepted Christ?  Is it simply to offer an alternative form of education and provide an escape hatch for those who are caught up in a culture saturated with promiscuous sex and illegal drug activity?  I think most Christian schools have elements of all of the above in their declared mission.

A statistic was released some time ago that rocked the Christian world.  80% of youth stop attending church after they graduate from high school.  Many reasons have been given:  They had planned to leave even before graduation.  They were sidetracked by atheistic professors touting PhD’s behind their names.  They were unprepared for the sudden flood of anti-Christian culture that simply swept them away.

After decades of involvement in Christian education, I have observed this phenomenon in Christian schools as well though perhaps not quite so prevalent.  I believe the real reason students leave the faith may well be that they never were in the faith to begin with.  Christian school students often spend an entire twelve years learning the jargon of Christianity.  They know what words to use and exactly when to insert just the right phrases to convince their elders that they are, indeed, followers.

After years of teaching, mentoring and observing young students in Christian schools, I have concluded that those many who leave the faith had never really enlisted.  Jesus gave a clear calling to his disciples to follow him.  Only a few became true followers.  Some began to follow but were overwhelmed by the sacrifices they were asked to make.  Others turned back because they missed the comforts offered by their families and culture. 

The call to “Follow me” is exclusive.  Christ wants us to follow him and no other.  A bird can’t fly north and south at the same time.  A bulldozer can either push or pull but it can’t do both simultaneously anymore than a person can follow Christ while simultaneously following a sinful, secular culture.   Most of those who ‘leave’ the faith were not saved in the first place.  They did not read their Bible regularly.  They blended in with their non-Christian friends rather than be distinguished from them.  They dated unbelievers and they rationalized a participation in sex and experimentation with drugs and alcohol.  They gave mental assent to the Christian worldview they were being taught but they never gave their heart to it.

Christian educators must strike a balance between simply being an educator and being a spiritual mentor.  It is not enough for students to learn the twelve tribes of Israel and be able to recite last week’s memory verse.  The fact that they have mastered Christian lingo doesn’t always indicate that they have accepted and embraced those truths into their hearts.  They are very skilled at reciting biblical truth but have they learned to make practical application of those recitations? 

Some Christian school students walk away from the faith because they never distinguished the difference between accepting Christ as their personal Savior and simply accepting Christ as the Savior of their parents or their teachers.  The paradox is that Christian educators want very much for their students to have a personal relationship with Christ but when we package the message in the atmosphere of the institution it is perceived to be very impersonal.

Students often make an unfortunate parallel between Christianity and the policies of the educational institution.  They are given a list of rules to follow regarding academics, dress code and behavior.  They can then make an easy transition to interpret Christianity as simply a set of rules to keep.  They attempt to experience a personal relationship with Christ by keeping a list of ‘do’s and don’ts’.  The rap on college students who come from Christian schools is that the ones who get wild get really wild.  It may be because of the exhilaration they feel when they are freed from the weight of trying to abide by the rules using their own effort rather than relying on the grace of God.

We often go shallow when teaching Christian principles to our students.  We want them to learn seven steps to successful dating or five ways to financial success.  In so doing we offer them no more than they can find in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble.  They can get ‘an inch deep and a mile wide’ anywhere.  We find ourselves giving them what they want rather than what they need.  We allow them to stay in the shallow end of the pool rather than explore the treasures that can only be found in the deep.  Those who learn and then embrace the deep truths of the gospel are those who become great warriors and kingdom builders for Christ.

Christian teachers are tempted, just like all teachers, to entertain rather than educate.  Students would much rather hear stories from your personal life than study trigonometry or Shakespeare.  But succumbing to this temptation in Christian education is perilous to their educational as well as their spiritual development.  More often than not, we fail to challenge them because we underestimate them.  They are usually capable of diving much deeper than we realize.  Make no assumption that their intellectual capabilities are limited because their behavior is foolish.

I have learned over the years that there are treasures deep in the souls of my students that are not revealed in mere words.  Some are actually unaware of the gifts they harbor deep within.    As an educator am dedicated to helping them discover what they are capable of but as a Christian educator I also want them to dedicate these discoveries to Christ the Savior.  They will then become great warriors for Christ and skilled builders of his kingdom.

I am so blessed to be a Christian educator.

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

America in Crisis

America In Crisis

            It was one of those great moments in American sports.  Maybe some of you remember a baseball player, the center fielder for the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs were playing the Dodgers on April 25 in 1976.  During the fourth inning William Thomas and his son ran out onto the field and attempted to set fire to the American flag.  They doused it with lighter fluid and their first match was blown out by the wind. That gave center fielder Rick Monday just enough time to sprint over and swipe the flag away and carry it to safety.  It was a touching moment.

            I will always remember what followed as a very proud moment for America.  The scoreboard lights congratulated Rick Monday:  “Rick Monday…you made a great play.”  It was truly a 'goose-bump' moment.  A whole stadium filled with patriotic Americans began to sing 'God Bless America'.    

            Americans have proven throughout their history that times of difficulty bring unity, not division. 
·        On tax day, April 15th, 2013, Americans rallied to support the families of the innocent who were wounded or killed at the Boston marathon.  We all shared the pain.
·        I was only a second grader when my father picked me up at school and as we traveled home he told me of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  It was a devastating moment but Americans came together in our moment of tragedy.
·        I will never forget traveling south on 185 toward Baker High School in 1990 and watching our troops from Fort Benning head north in a convoy of busses that stretched for miles.  The residents of Columbus lined every bridge from Macon Road to Fort Benning and waved yellow ribbons and cheered as we sent our young soldiers off to war.  On that day I was so proud to be an American.
·        In 2001 I was teaching at Duluth High School in Atlanta and a teacher came to my room and suggested I turn on the television.  The terrorists had struck the twin towers in New York City.  The flow of food, water, medical supplies, prayer and sympathy into the streets of New York from all across this nation made me proud to be an American.
·        In 2005, hurricane Katrina affected 15 million as it decimated the city of New Orleans.  Youth groups from across America traveled to the area to assist in the clean up and show their support for fellow Americans in trouble and I was proud to be an American.
·        Americans came together after school shootings in Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook.  There is something very, very special about Americans.

            Now Americans are facing a different kind of crisis.  It is covert.  It is subtle.  It is slowly creeping upon us like a fog in the night.  Many Americans are unaware of the danger our country faces.

            Let me preface the rest of what I want to say with this:  I love America.
·        I love the Bill of Rights.  There is no other document in history that so adequately defines the limits of government.
·        I love the Statue of Liberty.  She has always stood with open arms to welcome the oppressed to our shores.
·        I love the Constitution because it ensures justice to the accused.  It gives us a right to an attorney, a right to protect ourselves, a right to prohibit the government from invading the private space of our homes and offices.

            I love America.  I love living in the greatest land on earth.  I love being a citizen of this great country.

            That being said it is with great sadness that I recognize that the America is in deep trouble.  Maybe George Carlin captured it well when he wrote:
            “The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints.
            We spend more, but have less.  We buy more, but enjoy less.
            We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time.
            We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
            We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.
            We talk too much, love too seldom and hate too often.
            We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life.  We’ve added years to life not life to years!
            We’ve done larger things, but not better things.
            We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.
            We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.”

            There is a verse in the Bible that summarizes America’s dilemma:  “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” – Psalm 9:17

            Ronald Reagan said this:  “If we ever forget that we are 'One Nation Under God,' then we will be a nation gone under.” - Ronald Reagan

            There are multiple diseases eating away at the soul of America.  We ignore the advice of the Great Physician to our own peril.  There are dark clouds gathering on the horizon, not just because we have forgotten God, but because we are in open defiance to God.

             "…The Lord spoke to Job out of the storm."   The problem is not that God has not spoke, the problem is that we are not listening.

1.  We are diseased financially.  

            America is financially bankrupt.  We have placed all our trust in the almighty dollar and we’ve forgotten the slogan we wrote there:  “In God we Trust”.

            The federal government borrows forty cents for every dollar it spends. 
Our government has managed to rack up $15 trillion in debt.  A figure so large it has no meaning whatsoever to most Americans. The National Debt is four times the size of the American economy. We are increasing American Debt at a rate of $4 billion per day. 

            I would suggest to you that what we are doing is immoral and unjust.  We are stealing away the money of our children and grandchildren and this act of cowardice will not go unanswered.

            We now live in a nation where takers outnumber givers.  It was Patrick Henry who said:  “Give me liberty or give me death!”  It wasn’t long until we were just saying, “Give me liberty”.  Now we only say “Give me”.

3.  We are diseased morally.

            “Righteousness exalts a nation; but sin is a reproach (a disgrace) to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34  The terrorist will never destroy America but sin very well may.

            90% of America’s Christians are sending their children into secular schools.  Will you hear a word of caution?  If God is the source of all wisdom and the Bible is his method of conveying his wisdom to mankind, and the Bible is prohibited in public schools…how effective can government schools be??

            Christians who have no other choice than to send their kids to government schools must be actively providing their children with an alternative, biblical worldview.

            There are symptoms of crisis in America when:
·        A child is punished at school for saying grace over a meal.
·        A teacher’s job is terminated because he used the Bible as a resource in the classroom.

            Noah Webster, the father of American Education once said that education is “useless without the Bible.”

            There are symptoms of a moral crisis in America when:
·        Our textbooks condemn Hitler for the bloody murder of 6 million Jews but we indoctrinate our young women to believe that aborting their unborn is a noble and admirable thing to do.
·        We have murdered as many as 55 million babies over the last 40 years since our Supreme Court twisted and warped the constitution in order to condone such an atrocity.

            I remember when an unborn child within the womb was a precious, human life.  Now it is disposable material to be eliminated at our own convenience.  The unborn baby is looked upon as an inconvenience that is intruding upon our lifestyle rather than a miraculous event where God has planted one human life within another.

            Jesus said, “If any of you cause one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for you to be cast into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck.” – Matthew 8:6
            Our young girls are being told by a godless culture that if they don’t offer themselves sexually they will never be loved. The music our young men listen to badgers them to use drugs and become violent and disrespect women and the female body.

We are suffering a moral crisis in America:
·        Pornography now produces more money than all the sports events in the entire nation combined.
·        30% of women, 79% of men and 54% of pastors view porn on television or the internet.  Pornography shatters marriages and destroys the God-sanctioned institution of family.

            NEA spokesman to the United Nations, Dianne Schneider, said that the only way to combat heterosexism is to teach sexual pleasure and tolerance to “every middle and high school student.”  She said that those opposed to homosexuality are “stuck in a “binary box that religion and family create.”

            We have redefined marriage to be what we want it to be rather than what God wants it to be. We have redefined love to mean:  I accept you the way you are and you can stay the way you are.

            God’s definition of love is:  I accept you as a sinner but I demand a change in your life. To those who embrace the immorality of the present age may we say this:  “God loves you as you are but he loves you too much to leave you as you are.”

            Isaiah 5:20  “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.”

3.  We are diseased spiritually.

            "America wants God's blessing but not God. Our nation has systematically pushed Him out of the national consciousness -- rejecting biblical morality, ignoring His Word, and relying on the political and entertainment arenas for moral guidance." – John MacArthur

            Youth are abandoning the church by droves. 46% of Americans between ages 18 to 34 say they have no religion. Many who call themselves Christians no longer hold the traditional Christian beliefs.

            Paul advised Timothy to avoid those who “have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.” – 2 Tim. 3:5

            Oprah Winfrey has done a fabulous job of convincing 52% of American Christians that eternal life is not exclusively for those who accept Jesus Christ. 57% of American Christians believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life.” 
But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  -  John 14:6

            We are living in a culture spiritually depraved.  45% of Americans say they seldom read the scriptures and yet they claim to know truth. We are diseased spiritually because we are not reading the word, we are not praying and we are not attending church.  Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church.

            “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”  - 2 Tim. 4:3


            We have been in moments of crisis many times before and we successfully survived.  This is what we must do:

            1.  We must express individual repentance.  We must look into our own hearts and confess sin, confess hatred, bigotry and pride.

            “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways…” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

            2.  We need pastors who are willing to redefine what a successful church looks like.  We are not just trying to get people into church.  We are trying to get souls into the kingdom.  We don’t want to build our churches on marketing schemes.  We want to build our churches on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

            3.  We need to humble ourselves and fall on our knees and ask God to restore and revive America.  God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for 10 righteous men.  He wants desperately to spare America. 

            Ronald Reagan once said, “No matter where we live we have a promise that can make all the difference.  A promise from Jesus to soothe our sorrows, heal our hearts and drive away our fears.  He promised there would never be a dark night that does not end.  ‘Our sorrow may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.’”

            Reagan continued:  “Now I realize that it is fashionable in some circles to believe that no one in government should encourage others to read the Bible that we are told that we will violate the constitution of church and state established by the founding fathers in the 1st Amendment.  The 1st Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values, it was written to protect those values from government tyranny…we must be cautious claiming that God is on our side, I think the real question that we must answer is, are we on God’s side.”

            If the Americans will turn away from humanism and back to God then the very gates of hell cannot prevail against her!

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.