Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Basics Conference 2012, Day Two (ii)

Earlier today, I shared my thoughts from the morning sessions of Day 2 of the Basics Conference at Parkside Church. It was a long day and I had so much to say that I had to split it into two blog posts. This is what happened in the afternoon sessions.

Breakout Session: Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham
Let me begin by saying there were many things in this session that impacted me positively. But there was one thing that impacted me negatively (I will share towards the end).

Much of the information from this session was taken from his book, Family Shepherds. He expressed the need for men to take the leadership in the home rather urgently because of the cultural degeneration and the feminization of the family. He urged us to understand the need that men be assimilated, meaning, that we can no longer assume that men know what it means to be men. Church leaders must teach them, model for them, and mentor them.

The bulk of his time was spent explaining the four main components or areas that need to be addressed by men as family shepherds: Family Discipleship, Marriage Enrichment, Child Training, and Lifestyle Evaluations. I love the fact and really appreciated his call for men to step up and take leadership in their home. For men to lead their family in a time of family worship. For the men to take seriously their calling to wash their wives with the Word of God. For the men to teach and train their children in the ways of Christ. All of this is desperately lacking in the church today.

I was convicted that I have let some things slack in our family. We have set up some great plans that have now been placed on the back burner because of our busy schedule with soccer and baseball. Could it be that I have bought into a lie that those things are more important? Probably. It is very subtle. He said that if we can't make time in our schedule to take a meal with our family everyday, he thinks we are in sin. I'm not sure he has a verse for that, but he is probably right. I was convicted and plan to change some things up to do a bit better in this regard.

However, there were some negatives. The thing that concerned me the most is his stance on homeschooling. Let me be very clear as I do not want to communicate what I feel he communicated. I think it is the parent's choice to make the decision for each of their kids. I do not necessarily think that one option is better than the others (home, Christian, public). But what I feel like we shouldn't do is to make people feel like they are sinning if they choose an option differently than you. We send our kids to public school. That has been our decision we have made for several reasons. But that doesn't mean that we are better than those who have sent their kids to a Christian school or educate them at home. Trust me, we are very involved in their education.

Towards the beginning of the session, he made the point that it should be the role of the man in the family to ensure Christ-centered education. He made the point that it is better to redeem the countless hours a kid sits in school and we should teach from a christian perspective. I was okay with that. I might disagree to some extent, but I was okay with what he said. But then during the Q&A at the end, someone asked for him to explain his view on homeschooling a bit more. He very sarcastically said that those who send their kids to public school are allowing their kids to be socialized by the world. He said, "yes, I don't believe in socialization." And everyone laughs. Everyone applauds. So, you are saying that because my kids are in a public school, I do believe in socialization of my children? This is what I mean, he made everyone who was there that didn't home school feel about an inch tall. Or that is how I felt. I felt like I was sinning.

To make matters worse, he used, what I would say, was a very poor illustration. It was demeaning and frankly a straw man argument. The illustration he gave was of a 10 year old boy in his church that sought him out one day after church to talk to him about his uncle. The young child was concerned because his uncle looks at and says things that he shouldn't. His uncle is lazy and refuses to get a job. And then this 10-year old boy asked his pastor to pray for his uncle. I could have totally missed something, but in the context in which this story was shared, this kid was held up as an example of the maturity a 10-year old boy can have when he is home schooled. Great! Praise the Lord! I am glad that boy was sensitive to the things of God, but don't say that it is because he is home-schooled versus being placed in the public school. Why don't you just say that God has been gracious to him. And God is and has been gracious to many who are not home-schooled.

It is ironic that my wife just started reading Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public Schools. It is a book that stresses while Homeschooling or Christian schools can work for some families, the public school system can also work. They say, "when you nurture the life and power of Christ within your children, they are prepared for thoughtful engagement with the forces that surround them and are strengthened as they make choices to stand up for what is right. With God's help and these solid, biblical principles, your child can thrive in public schools!" I think I will read this book as soon as she is done. But please understand my heart in this as I do not want to communicate what I think Bauchman communicated. Our choice is not better than your choice. You are responsible for your children and will give an account for your children before God. If you choose to home school them, praise the Lord. I hope you take it seriously. If you choose to put them in Christian school, praise the Lord. I hope you take it seriously to be active in their education. And if you choose to place them in public school, praise the Lord. I hope you talk to them everyday about their education.

Main Session: The God Who Prays by Mark Dever
God prayed. That simply thought alone is enough to make me say that prayer is very important. Before Jesus goes to the cross, He takes time to pray very intentionally. There were four main questions that framed John 17 for Mark Dever in this sermon. As with the morning session, his reading of the text simply moved me. He was able to read the entire chapter in a way that he was out of the way and God was speaking. As I have thought about it, maybe his reading of the text was less about a technique and more about a prayerful man engaging the Scriptures. Here were his four points.

First, To Whom Did Jesus Pray? Jesus prayed to God. Specifically His Father. But as He prayed to the One He knew for all of eternity, there was no glimmer of casualness in His prayer. That might be a helpful lesson to each of us.

Second, For Whom Did Jesus Pray? Jesus began by praying for Himself in John 17:1-5. He shows that it is okay, and probably strategic, that you can pray for yourself. We should care for our own spiritual state. But then He also prayed for those the Father had given Him. Throughout most of the chapter, Jesus prays for "those He gave me out of the world." And He also prayed for those that will someday believe in Him through their message. That means, in John 17:20, that Jesus was praying for me!

I knew Dever would not go two messages in a row without talking about church membership. He made the point that if Jesus prayed for His people, how much more so should we pray for our people. He said that the most important book to him for his pastoral ministry is the Bible. His second most important book? The church membership directory at Capital Hill Baptist Church. He brought it with him, so he could pray for his people while he was gone. That was humbling and I realize I do not pray enough for those at Cornerstone. I pray out of emergency, not out of compassion.

Third, What Did Jesus Pray For? He prayed that He would be glorified. But then He prayed for the protection, sanctification, and unity of His followers. He knew that this world would be a dangerous place for Christians, so He prayed for their safety. He knew that truth was important for their sanctification, so He prayed they would be made holy in the truth. He knew that they would struggle over petty issues, so He prayed for their unity. Unity, in his prayer, was not at the watering down of doctrine, but at the full content of truth. Especially, in the true gospel!

Fourth, Why Did Jesus Pray? He prayed for the glory of God. He prayed for the salvation of sinners (which meant that He had to go to the cross). He ended the message by saying, "If you don't care for the glory of God, you will not pray."

It was a helpful message for me. I think I am often way to self-dependent and think I can take care of things by myself. But I need to pray more often and more fervently for the protection, sanctification, and unity of our church to the glory of God.

I went up to talk to Dever before the session. He had remembered that I was at a Weekender, but had forgot my name. We talked a bit and he asked if I would pray for him as he prepared to preach. After the message as I was walking out in the crowded hallway, I felt someone tap me on my shoulder and say, "Thad, are you going to pray for your people?" I turned around and it was Dever. I thought, "well, I am now!" But honestly, his message of God's Word impacted me that I hope will last for a long time.


  1. Thad (here from the #basiconf hash...). I am a home school father (caveat) who attended public school all his life (save 1, in a "Christian" school).

    Just some questions (regarding Vodie's comments, of whom I've only heard speak once via the internet):

    Have you considered that all education is religious?

    Does interacting with our kids about their education (to whatever degree possible) counter the 30+ hours a week of non-God-based teaching?

    If your children are being taught falsehoods rather than truth (whether history, sociology, science, etc.) is that not missing the point of "sending our kids to school?" Is that really education then?

    Are our children given to reach the world as children? (Jesus chose adult men...)

    We are [usually] very careful about who teaches our children on Sundays for 45 minutes. Why not exercise the same scrutiny over those that teach them over 30+ hours a week?

    What is the Biblical premise for sending kids to school? (On what basis do we as parents have the right to delegate this responsibility primarily to others?)

    If we need to be very wary about wolves entering the church (much which is false teaching), why would this not give us impetus to be even more careful with our kids?

    Just thoughts. I'm sure you've wrestled with all of these.

    1. Kevin,

      Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate the spirit of the questions. I do not have time to answer all of them, but I will just add one thought. I know some parents who send their kids to Christian school and feel good about it so they don't have to worry about what is happening to their kids. Wrong. All options need to have parent involvement.

      My wife is in each of our kids classes at this point each week. So, she (and we) have been able to build a very good relationship with their teachers. We have had sit down opportunities with them several times. We get to share about our concerns of character and ask them to tell us if anything is happening in their life.

      In addition, we have had some great opportunities this past year to shepherd my 6th grader on how to respond to bullying. Not just in theory, but in practice. I have had opportunities to share with him what it means to love your enemies. If he is old enough to embrace Jesus and most people would say that he is old enough to take communion and be baptized, then why isn't he old enough to interact with the world? He is. And I have seen him grow spiritually through being stretched in this way. I would rather have them fail and learn how to make tough decisions in my house now when they are clearly under my authority than to have them make much worse decisions, not knowing how to use wisdom, when they turn 18 or 21 or whenever they get out of the house.

      Once again. This has been our decision for our kids at this time in their life. I am not saying that you are wrong. I am not saying anyone is wrong. I just don't appreciate being told that I am sinful for having my kids in public schools. That's just wrong.

      Have a great day!

    2. Thad,

      Thanks for your thoughts and honesty.

      Just a thought, could Vodie have been referring to the joke that is common among homeschool families that homeschool families don't believe in "socialization", in other words "letting their kids "socialize" with others. It is often a stereotype that has been used toward families that homeschool. So, is it possible that Vodie was referring to that?

    3. Darrin,

      There was no doubt that is what the person asking the question was asking. He asked about those who homeschool not allowing their kids to "socialize" with others. Baucham turned it around and very clearly, sarcastically, and directly said, "yes, I don't agree with having my kids socialized. I don't believe in socialization. That's the point." And everyone laughs. He was very clearly referring to the shaping of norms and cultures by unsaved people of the children of believers. There was no mistake about it.

      Thanks for your thoughts....

  2. Thad:

    I know nothing about you other that what you have shared on this page, a link I got to from the TFL website. This homeschooling is very odd. As someone who does not have children (I'm 61) I don't know when it began, and the proliferation of it took me by shock. It should be against the law. Children should be immersed with others, and that is NOT socialism, but actual, needed socialization....Voddie is wrong and you are correct in your response. Homeschooling gives the impression that those who call themselves Christians are better, holier, purer than others and their offspring, something the Gospel denies and advises is a sin. What a horrible picture these parents are giving to the world. Turns my stomach, and it is, regettably, hypocritical.


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