Tag Archives: children

Teaching Kids About God

In Psalm 78 the people of God say, “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord . . . so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children” (NIV).

The Bible addresses this subject frequently. God instructs his people to tell their children about him. God’s work of redemption is multi-generational. Stretching from Genesis to Revelation, God’s plan spans this entire age.

This is our generation. We are a link in the chain of God’s work that reaches back to Jesus and even further to the patriarchs of faith, a chain that will be forged into the future until the day Jesus returns. Those who came before us taught us about God. Now it is our turn.

We teach children about God.

Teaching children about God can be intimidating. God is a big subject. So the Lord has given us a method for teaching kids about him which is tried and true: Bible stories. The Bible is filled with accounts of God working in various people’s lives.

By telling kids the stories in the Bible we transmit great theological truths to them. As they grow and reflect on the accounts in Scripture, God’s Spirit will continue revealing himself to them. Every Bible story is a theological package filled with eternal truth. Telling Bible stories and hearing them is a theological journey that unfolds over a lifetime.

What a joy it is to be the first one to tell children about Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions’ den, Jesus feeding the 5,000, Jesus’s death and resurrection, and so much more.

We teach children about God by telling them Bible stories.

Psalm 78 goes on to say, “Then they would put their trust in God” (NIV). The goal of telling kids about God is not just to inform them. The goal is to inspire trust in them, to encourage them to exercise saving faith in the Lord.

As New Testament believers, we understand that trust in God means faith in Jesus Christ. We want children to become followers of Jesus, filled with God’s Spirit and fulfilling God’s call on their lives, which includes telling kids about God when they become adults.

We teach children about God so that they will trust and obey Jesus.

May God’s Spirit inspire us to be faithful in our generation,

Brother Richard Foster

See also What Happens When We Fail to Tell Our Children Bible Stories?



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Applauding The Deaths Of Our Little Ones

What a sad day. People stood and applauded. Buildings were lit up in festive pink to celebrate the event. New York State now allows abortions up to birth for any reason.

Considering the gravity of such a move, deciding whether a human being will be violently robbed of life, one might expect more somber looks. One might expect a sad-but-necessary attitude. No. They were happy.

The picture of the signing which circulated in the media shows people filled with joy. They look like a group who just declared a new holiday, another chance for fun and recreation. If this is a holiday, it is a holiday from sanity and common sense.

To add insult to injury, the New York bill is titled the “Reproductive Health Act.” The only accurate word in that title is “act.” This heinous act is an enemy to reproduction. Reproduction, new human life, will be extinguished because of this bill.

And there is nothing healthy about violently denying a baby its right to life. It is not healthy for the mother, her family, for the medical professional, for the community, and certainly not for the baby.

Advances in science over the past 20 to 30 years have consistently supported the fact that a fetus is a life. Successful surgeries on babies before they are born, amazing survival rates of children born long before their due dates, and other astounding medical treatments on little boys and girls developing inside their mothers’ wombs all place the burden of proof squarely on those who would de-humanize the fetus.

Perhaps even more powerful than the voice of science is the testimony of images. Imaging technology has enabled us to see with astonishing clarity the life of our unborn. And seeing is believing. The images are not of disease or random tissue, but of individual lives.

The persuasive power of these images is admitted by those who wish to kill more babies. More than 15 yeas ago a photographer was in the operating room when doctors were performing surgery on a little boy in his mother’s womb. The child stunned the world by reaching up and grabbing the doctor’s finger. The picture was taken, but almost destroyed.

By a strange turn of events the man who snapped that picture stood in my office several years ago. He told me about the outrageous efforts that were made to keep his picture from being published. Why? Because in this case one picture is worth millions of words and perhaps millions of lives.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we stand for life. Each and every boy and girl is made in the image of God and deserves a chance to grow up and walk with God and enjoy his blessings.

We believe in more than just physical birth and life. We believe in spiritual life. Every person deserves to hear that God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, Jesus, so that anyone trusting in him will not perish (hell) but have eternal life (heaven), to be born again.

The voice of truth will not be denied. God’s Spirit will raise up men and women to courageously stand for life. Let’s answer that call. If our children see us retreat, then they will be more likely to retreat and our grandchildren will suffer. If our children see us stand firm, then they will be more likely to stand firm, and our grandchildren will benefit.

May God’s Spirit inspire and empower us to speak the truth in love,

Brother Richard

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Moses’ Advice for Twenty-First Century Christians

Every follower of Jesus faces three powerful enemies. First, Satan prowls around like a lion looking for those he can devour. Second, the world is filled with sin that entangles and destroys. And third, our own sinful desires draw us away from the Lord.

When the people of Israel were ready to go in and take possession of the Promised Land, their leader Moses knew that they would face these spiritual enemies. So he gave them instructions on living in God’s victory and blessing (see Deuteronomy 6).

Moses said, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all you heart, soul and strength. These commandments that I am giving you today are to be on your hearts.”

The commandments Moses speaks of are primarily the Ten Commandments, but also the many applications of those commandments in their daily lives. These words of God were to be on the hearts of God’s people.

Moses continued speaking about God’s commandments, “Impress them on your children. Speak about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the way, when you lie down and when you get up.”

In addition to having God’s word on their hearts, they were to have God’s word in their homes, obeying it in their daily lives and speaking about it with their children. In this way they would pass God’s word on to the next generation.

Then Moses said about the commandments, “Tie them on your hands as symbols and bind them to your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”

The “gate” of an ancient city was the place of official business, much like the courthouses in towns and cities today. Moses is telling the people that private faith is insufficient. They had to take God’s word into their communities, into the public square.

So, in addition to having God’s word on their hearts and in their homes, they were to have God’s word in their communities. Only with the word of God’s truth would God’s people be victorious over their enemies.

The same dynamics are in play now. As God’s people, we face powerful resistance to God’s eternal truth. We need to carry God’s word into the public square, into our communities. This is our only hope for pushing back the darkness that presses in from every side.

Please notice, however, that we will not have God’s word in our communities until we have it in our homes, impressing it on our children. And we will not have God’s word in our homes if we do not have it on our hearts.

Victory in the public square begins in the heart of each and every believer. Every man and woman of faith must diligently read, passionately believe, and faithfully obey the Bible. Without the sure foundation of God’s word, we can build nothing of lasting importance. With it we will overcome!

May God’s empowering Presence inspire and enable us to carry his word into our communities,

Brother Richard

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Time for Vacation Bible School!

LifeWay’s Bible verse for VBS this year is Isaiah 30:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

The voice spoken of in this verse is none other than the voice of the Lord. Our faith is grounded in the wonderful truth that God himself has spoken and he is still speaking.

God has spoken to us through his written word, the Holy Bible. When we read the Bible, we are reading the words of the Almighty. What a thrill it is to have in our hands and in our hearts the written message of our Maker, Sustainer and Savior!

God’s word takes us back to the beginning of the heavens and earth and forward to the new heaven and earth. Only through God’s special revelation can we know about our true origin and final destination. Only through God’s special revelation can we learn about his unfolding plan for our lives now.

The voice of God also comes to us through the presence of his Holy Spirit. As God’s people we have his Spirit in our hearts illuminating his written word, enabling us to comprehend what we read.

God’s Spirit empowers us not only to grasp the great Truth revealed in his written word but also to apply it to our daily lives. We can see “the way” and “walk in it.” We understand and obey.

What a great honor and tremendous responsibility it is for us to teach these things to children. God has entrusted his word to us and called us to pass it on to the next generation. We are the most recent link in a gospel chain that stretches almost 2,000 years back to Jesus, and even further back into Old Testament times.

In this generation we face a pernicious spiritual darkness that threatens to silence the voice of the Bible in our country, thus denying children the joy of knowing Jesus. God’s word increasingly meets with a hostile reception in the halls of our government and in the classrooms of our schools.

But God assures us that his word is like a seed, carrying the power of life. Planted in receptive soil, the seed of God’s word brings a harvest of eternal life. It is our great joy to plant and nurture the word of God in the precious hearts of boys and girls in our community.

What greater hope do we have for the future?

May our hearts be tuned to God’s Spirit so that we will always hear his word clearly and always walk in obedience to him,

Brother Richard Foster

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Impressing the Faith On Children

When it was time to go in and take the Promised Land, Moses reminded God’s people of how they should live in order to enjoy God’s blessing. He reminded them of the agreement God had made with them, the covenant. He was to be their God and they were to be his people. He would give them his truth and they would live according to that truth.

God’s blessing was designed to last for generations. As a result, each generation of God’s people was responsible to make sure that their children and grandchildren knew about God’s ways. Moses reminded the people that they were to impress God’s words on their children (Deuteronomy 6:7). Moses was not talking to professional teachers but to parents and grandparents. Faith begins at home.

God’s people still have the great responsibility and the wonderful joy of impressing God’s truth on our children. It is pleasing to God and profitable to our kids to make sure that they know God’s Word. When we tell our children about God’s ways, we stir the fires of faith in our own lives, too.

Impressing God’s commands on our children is an ongoing task that must be done in our homes every day and in our church every week. The Christian faith is not merely information, but a way of life. Children must see the faith in the lives of their parents in order to understand and embrace Christianity.

As our culture becomes more hostile toward Bible-believing Christianity, parents who strive to pass on the faith to their children will be harshly criticized. The organizations and institutions in our society will put pressure on Christian parents in order to pull them and their children away from the Bible and from the local church. Schedule conflicts will abound.

In this new environment of aggressive secularism, sadly, many parents will compromise. They will try to balance the recreational, academic, and athletic pursuits of this age with their commitments to Christ and his kingdom work. Their children are watching and they understand the inconsistency of claiming Christ as Lord but setting up idols in his place.

Other families will see the temptations of this godless world for what they really are. They will be ready to make personal sacrifices for the faith, knowing that Jesus calls his followers to deny self, take up a cross, and follow him. These parents will model Christ for their children. They will impress upon their children the Christian faith.

May God’s Spirit empower us to keep the faith alive in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children,

Brother Richard Foster

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Why So Much Confusion About Marriage?

Family has become a free-for-all. In the mad rush to affirm everybody’s right to do whatever they please with their private lives, our society is dismantling the institution that serves as the bedrock and basis for any culture. As family life weakens, other critical institutions in our society suffer. The legal system has to keep up with all the dead-beat dads and domestic violence. The welfare system has to keep up with all the abused and abandoned children. The education system is on life-support in many places because so many kids live such insecure lives that they cannot focus on classroom learning.

Not only is family becoming a do-it-yourself affair, it is becoming a do-it-for-self arrangement. Many people want to redefine family in order to suit their lifestyle, instead of adjusting their lifestyle in order to have a healthy family. If they don’t want to be faithful to their mate then they simply find someone else. If they don’t want to raise their own children then they simply abort or abandon them. If they don’t want to support the children they have left behind then they simply vanish or claim to have no resources. Any culture that lets the sinful and selfish human heart define acceptable family behavior is bound for serious turbulence. When children grow up around broken lives and broken relationships then they are at great risk for simply repeating the pattern of unhealthy family life. The resulting tangled nest of modern families seems to be expanding exponentially.

How did we get into such a twisted and confusing place? If we go back a little more than fifty years into the 1950s, we discover significantly different attitudes about family from what we see today. In retrospect, one indication that changes would soon take place was reflected by some striking research about human sexuality. Compiled by supposed experts, the book claimed that large percentages of the population were engaged in sexual misconduct, more than anyone realized (Kinsey, Pomery, and Martin, 1948). The findings of this pseudo-scientific study were shocking. The writers alleged that vast numbers of people were breaking society’s established sexual boundaries. The implication was that perhaps the boundaries should be moved, or removed.

A generation came of age in the 1960s that apparently took the ideas that were reflected in that report about human sexuality to heart. Many of them concluded that traditional ideas about family, marriage, and sex were hopelessly outdated and perhaps completely obsolete. They insisted on a new approach to sexuality: ‘free love.’ As time went on that shocking research about human sexual behavior in America was exposed to be fraudulent. It turned out that those reports were not very scientific (Reisman and Eichel, 1990). In other words, the so-called experts had lied (or at least been mistaken). But it was too late. ‘Free love’ had been loosed on an unsuspecting society. Or perhaps the facts did not matter to a large number of people who only wanted to justify irresponsible lifestyles.

Unfortunately, ‘free love’ resulted in too many unwanted babies. But experts claimed that an unborn baby was nothing more than a troublesome blob of tissue, a piece of opportunistic tissue that if allowed to grow, would become a major inconvenience, a bothersome liability. Women had the right, they said, to remove useless tissue from their bodies without any intervention based on the moral scruples of some self-righteous, backward, uneducated, religious zealots. In fact, aborting babies became the centerpiece issue for women’s health and a badge of honor for those who prided themselves in taking measures to save the Earth. Without abortion on demand, women would be denied healthcare and doomed to outer darkness and the Earth’s natural resources would be raped and depleted before the next Earth Day could be planned. This new attitude about unborn babies solved the ‘free love’ problem. Unwanted pregnancies were simply terminated—by the tens of millions.

But people discovered that they wanted children, despite the risk to the planet and the inconvenience to their personal lives. As a result, many continued to have babies, but they also continued to engage in irresponsible sex. Lack of sexual commitment, however, destroys families by ripping away an important foundation for a long-term relationship. This instability in family devotion puts children in a precarious situation. ‘Free love’ resulted in an explosion in the number of marriages that ended in divorce. Kids from broken families struggled with deep feelings of insecurity and abandonment. And parents were getting loaded down with dark feelings of personal guilt as they saw what their decisions did to their offspring.

The experts were standing by once again with yet another solution: simply redefine marriage and family—change the definition of what is right and acceptable. If family requires fidelity and lifelong commitment but sexual freedom demands infidelity and short-term relationships, then a new vision of family that allows for more personal freedom must be envisioned and promoted. Culture had to evolve and adapt to the needs (wants) of the people who make up society. What right does some faceless society have to make demands for sacrifice from individuals who have their own ideas about happiness? But what about the harm that would be done to the children living in unstable household environments? Experts could convince everyone that kids are flexible and actually happier when removed from a home where one or both parents are unfulfilled, and the problem is solved, supposedly.

With all this experimentation about how families can be deconstructed and redefined came an ever-increasing openness to other boundary-busting ideas about human sexuality, marriage and family. Gay and lesbian relationships, long understood to be outside the realm of healthy family arrangements, were suddenly provided with an opening to move toward the mainstream in popular culture. With so many people breaking down the boundaries of healthy human sexual relationships, who was left to say that same-sex couples should not take center-stage and redraw the lines even more? If personal sexual satisfaction is so important that we must kill the unborn so that they do not get in the way, then why not let same-sex couples murder a few moral standards?

So we have arrived in a place of utter confusion about marriage and family. Everyone has a right, we are being told, to define marriage as they see fit. Limiting marriage to one man and one woman is denying people their constitutional rights, supposedly. This argument is designed to paint supporters of biblical marriage as cold-blooded and hard-hearted. This is no surprise since proponents of ‘alternative’ forms of family and marriage sometimes claim that traditional families are oppressive to women and children. Raising children, some lament, is nothing more than a punishment. Alternative lifestyles liberate women, so the argument goes. How ironic it is that liberal sexual lifestyles have placed so many women in the tough and demanding position of being single parents!

Meanwhile, the children who have survived abortion since 1973 have been at higher risk to live in a broken home. More children are growing up with only one of their biological parents, or with parents whose commitment to the family is nebulous at best. An unsettling number are being raised by someone other than their parents, like a grandparent or other guardian. Despite all the assurances from experts that children are flexible and able to bounce back, kids often struggle with suffocating anxiety and bitter anger over their sense of abandonment because one or both of their parents apparently had more important things to do than to raise their son or daughter.

So the fight to define (or destroy) family rages on. Who would have imagined that ‘free love’ would result in so many murdered babies, angry youth and dysfunctional families? Where is the love? Where is the freedom? We have no time to stop and answer questions or reflect on the terrible cost of all these alternative moral visions for family life because the changes only seem to be accelerating. Same-sex families are the most recent experiment. Who knows what horrible social destruction may be caused by allowing “gay marriage” to take hold and multiply. When will our society learn that the so-called experts who promote all of these alternatives are leading us deeper into disaster?

The age of ‘free love’ has provided plenty of evidence that children generally do better when they are raised by their biological parents. Unfortunate and heartbreaking is the fact that we had to learn this the hard way, by watching millions of kids grow up without their parents and observing the disappointing results. It is clear that kids need mom and dad, even if the marriage is less than stellar. Despite this hard-won knowledge, we now stand poised to place kids in families where they will be denied mom or dad, or both. Children raised by two dads are denied a mother. Children raised by two moms are denied a father. Vague and emotional assertions about love and affection being the most important thing of all cannot make up for what is missing in a mom or a dad.

Sadly, “gay marriage” is not the last enemy of the family. Waiting in the shadows are those who wish to reduce or abolish the age of consent. Once again, children are at greatest risk, as they always are in these tragic social experiments. And the so-called experts will be ready with quick answers to soothe the consciences of those who step into their trap. Once again, the personal desires of adults will trump the legitimate needs of children.

The experts lied about sexual behavior, they lied about unborn babies, they lied about divorce, and they are lying about “gay marriage.” Any other alternative model will be just as deceitful. Why are these destructive distortions about family met with such eager acceptance by so many people? Because the spiritually rebellious heart wants God to be proven wrong at any cost. The fight for family is not a contest between tradition and progress or conservative and liberal. No, it is a conflict between truth and deception. The current fight to define marriage is only the latest manifestation of an ancient struggle between the holiness of the One Living God and the wickedness of the desperately sinful heart.

Destructive desires call us to satisfy self now, no matter what the cost might be to our marriage or our children. And the world at large echoes and amplifies those selfish desires, calling out, “Give up on God’s way. Serve yourself and be happy now. Forget tomorrow. You deserve it. You need some ‘me time’!” But the one who wanders through life guided only by their own immediate happiness or pleasure will end up with an empty heart and a barren soul. And the society that not only allows but promotes so many broken and sinful models of family is driving quickly toward ruin.

But there is good news. God himself, the Maker of humanity and the inventor of human sexuality, has indeed given us his plan for marriage and family. His plan is for one man and one woman to stay together for life, raise their children, and then enjoy their grandchildren. God’s plan goes against the selfish desires that tempt us to put immediate gratification above all else. And living according to God’s plan is an expression of love for the Lord who has given us our lives. Adopting God’s design for family is an act of faith that is rewarded by God with blessings which far surpass anything we can manufacture from lifestyles that ignore his commands.

Those who trust God’s plan will work hard to save and strengthen their marriages even at great personal effort, risk and sacrifice. Those who trust God’s plan will work to nurture and care for their children no matter what the losses to professional development, financial security, personal excitement, or any other secondary consideration. They will stand in the face of great challenges and terrible disappointments. They will reject the tempting voices of selfishness. They will sometimes sustain deep wounds but refuse to change course. Those who trust God and fight for their family will fill their hearts and households with great rewards. They will have the deep love that only a lifetime marriage can yield. They will see their children stand strong and confident in the face of trials and temptations. They will rejoice over their grandchildren with gladness because of the solid foundation that parents forged for their children’s futures.

Lifetime love grows a physical and spiritual union between husband and wife that soars far above the emotional junkyard of the broken relationships that are currently scattered throughout our land. In an age of increasing confusion about gender roles, gender identity, parenting, raising children, and all things pertaining to family, lifetime love leaves a heritage of faith for children and grandchildren so that they can build their own families with confidence and with victory. When strong families are the rule instead of the exception in a culture, then that culture is on a more sure footing in every conceivable way. After decades of failed experimentation with selfish models of family, our land needs a return to the family model that has God’s endorsement and enjoys God’s blessing. The benefits of protecting marriage are great, so the risk of letting marriage wander further into the spiritual wilderness is also great.

The current threats against marriage are daunting. Our nation’s legal definition of marriage continues to be a fierce battle ground. Bible-believing Christians want to preserve God’s design for marriage: one man and one woman freely and fully committed to one another for life. Radical gay activists are working diligently to undermine and redefine marriage in order to include same-sex couples in the mainstream of family life. Much is at stake in the struggle over how to define marriage. Countless lives will be affected if our country continues to distort and erase the boundaries for legal marriage, both in ways that can be predicted and in ways that cannot yet be imagined. Who could be harmed, and how?

As always, when society loosens the laws that establish healthy limits for marriage and family, children pay the highest price. Single-parent families have taught us the hard way that children generally do much better when they live with both mom and dad. Nevertheless, gay activists insist that two moms or two dads will be just as good. Why should we believe them? Why should we subordinate God’s word to their unfounded and untested opinions? As children grow into adults they desperately need godly models for healthy and responsible sexual behavior, not gender confusion.

Some who oppose same-sex marriage argue that tradition has established heterosexual marriage as the best foundation for society. But traditions are established by people and they can change. Traditions evolve, often to meet the seemingly expedient demands of different groups in a given society or culture. Marriage, however, is bigger than tradition. Marriage is too critical to be left up to the dictates of unpredictable currents in human tradition. Marriage is instituted and designed by God, fixed and unchanging. In addition, marriage and family are much more than building blocks for human society. The Bible presents higher ideals for marriage.

In the Old Testament God used husband and wife as a picture of the relationship between himself and his chosen people Israel. In the New Testament God’s design for marriage is presented as a picture of Christ’s bond with his church, his Bride. More than nurturing children, more than mentoring young people about their God-given sexuality, more than providing the building blocks of culture and society, marriage is about God’s love for his people. Essential spiritual truth is transmitted through God’s design for marriage, and that truth becomes a living reality in marriages where husbands and wives follow God’s design, not out of love for society or as a pragmatic solution to family ills, but out of love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Marriage is a spiritual relationship with far-reaching spiritual ramifications for all of us.

These ideas, some say, are ancient and culturally bound. Now that culture has moved on, we are told, the notions of yesteryear must recede into the background and give way for new and progressive ideas. But God has not recalled his design for marriage. It is not defective. It is not obsolete. It is not even a work in progress. Marriage between one man and one woman is a fixed design feature of humanity and it is still God’s plan for family today and all the tomorrows of this age. God is not required to answer to human society or to conform to popular human ideas. God is the author of what is right for culture and he is the source of all truth.

Some would argue that the fundamental spiritual truth that is meant to be communicated through marriage is simply love and commitment. Marriage and family are not about the outward forms, supposedly, but about genuine affection and devotion. Therefore, loving and committed same-sex couples, we are told, fulfill the Bible’s vision for family. If that were true then loving and committed relationships of any kind could eventually be proposed as fulfillment of this Scriptural principle. But such an argument ignores the fact that homosexuality is condemned every time it is mentioned in the Bible. A holy home cannot be constructed on an unholy union. Marriage is about more than tradition and it is about more than love and commitment. God’s design for marriage is cosmic in scope. It is a reflection of God’s plan for the ages.

The question of defining marriage ultimately brings us to an even more fundamental and critical issue. What is the true nature of the Bible? Is it God’s perfect Word to humanity? Or is it a collection of words by imperfect yet inspired people who were searching for divine insight when they put pen to paper? Those who support God’s design for marriage point to the Bible as the premier authority for defining marriage. As a result, gay activists have attacked the church’s understanding of God’s Word. Scriptures that clearly condemn same-sex relationships are said to be irrelevant to our age, archaic and outmoded. But should human desires judge God’s word or should God’s word judge human desires? God’s perfect truth provides the much-needed anchor for any culture when it is tugged by the tides of unholy human passions and blown by the winds of deceptive pop-culture philosophies.

For those of us who have decided to stand on the perfect word of God, we must not be surprised or disheartened when the world rejects God’s design for marriage. Only God’s presence in our lives can give any of us the ability to put his plan before our own agenda. Despite the world’s hostility toward God’s design, we must be committed to the full counsel of God. It is unfair to God’s word and intellectually dishonest to champion some portions of Scripture while remaining silent about others. The Bible not only condemns same-sex marriage, Scripture also condemns all sexual immorality. Any sexual misconduct undermines the spiritual truth that is to be reflected through godly marriage.

The fight is not merely against a radical gay agenda. The fight is for the radical holiness that God has called his people to pursue and promote. The goal should not be to make families more traditional, or pragmatic, or comfortable, but to make families honor the Lord. He who called us is holy, so let us be holy in all that we do, including our marriages. Followers of Jesus Christ cannot simply blame culture for all the confusion about marriage and embrace some vague hope that things will somehow get better. God’s people must know his word, live according to his word, and share his word.

The full counsel of God reminds us that we do not simply speak the truth. We speak the truth in love. Men and women struggling with sexual sin of all types deserve to hear the truth, but they need to hear from someone who genuinely cares. The many angry and bitter voices in the debate over defining marriage easily draw much attention to themselves, but they often drown out their own words by the bitter opposition they inspire. God’s people must be different. Righteous indignation is a legitimate expression, but loving confrontation and encouragement is a vital ingredient. Christians are called to be the true people of hope and change. Salt and light can be uncomfortable but should never be hateful. People may reject the truth, but it should be the content and not the presentation that they find distasteful.

What should Christians do in response to the downward spiral of family? First and foremost, we must live according to God’s word. Despite past mistakes, we must commit ourselves to God’s design for family: one man and one woman committed to each other for a lifetime, committed to raising our children together and enjoying our grandchildren. This includes everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. If one has had an affair, lived through a divorce, fallen prey to same-sex encounters, or any other failure, forgiveness and restoration is available through Christ. No matter how many failures litter our past, we can decide that this marriage will be a godly marriage; the rest of our life will honor the Lord. If we are presently single, we can determine to remain pure until we are able to enter a godly marriage, or serve God as a single adult, honoring the marriage bed by remaining celibate.

Second, Christians should pray for God’s Spirit to move in a mighty way in the hearts of people throughout the land. We can plead with our Lord to renew a spirit of love for truth in households and hearts everywhere. And third, as Christians we must open our mouths and speak the word of truth. We cannot be intimidated into silence. Too much is at stake in the fight for family. And we must speak the truth in love. As families falter, hungry hearts will multiply; countless souls will be thirsty, longing for a better way. This is an opportunity to explain and to promote God’s ways to a population that is increasingly ignorant about the unvarnished biblical truth.

In order to live according to God’s design for marriage, couples must have commitment, understanding, and ability. The ability can come only from the empowering Spirit of God. The commitment can come only from the married couples themselves. The understanding comes from learning the truth about God’s design for marriage as he has revealed it in his Word, the Holy Bible. To all who are followers of Jesus, let us devote ourselves to knowing, obeying, and promoting God’s design for marriage and family. The need is great but our God is more than sufficient.

Richard Foster
Camden, AR
September 2013

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Building a Firm Foundation in Children

Broken foundations are costly and heartbreaking. No matter how beautiful or impressive a house is, the future can bring only trouble for a structure when its foundation is unsound. It is always better in the long-run to invest the necessary time and effort in getting the foundation sound and true.

This principle holds for growing lives just as surely as it does for constructing buildings. Without the proper spiritual basics a life is doomed to trouble in this life and destruction in eternity. Living without the knowledge of God’s truth is like putting up walls on sand or clay. Great efforts will be necessary to constantly patch and repair damage, and in the end, the walls will fall despite all effort.

The fundamentals of faith should be prayerfully and carefully laid in the life of a person before reaching the teenage years. Once we become adults, we begin building our lives. If we discover that the foundation we received is unsound, then we must decide whether we will start all over and rebuild, or keep trying to make due with what we have.

If we build a life on anything but God’s Truth then the struggles and temptations of this age will eventually find the weaknesses. Stubborn pride, frustration, or despair can easily persuade us not to do the difficult work of starting over from the ground up. Since anything is possible with God, lives can be remade successfully at any time. Better to get it right the first time, however, because we do not know when our life in this world will come to an end.

When we teach our children God’s Truth, then we are giving them the chance to build their lives on the Rock. We cannot save them or force them to be saved, but we can remove as many obstacles as possible. We can make sure that they know about God’s love and about his plan of salvation and blessing.

We advance God’s Kingdom when we labor to build firm spiritual foundations in the lives of children. Such labor is not in vain.

May God’s Spirit empower us to keep the faith alive in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children,

Brother Richard Foster

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What Happens When We Fail to Tell Our Children Bible Stories?

Something went terribly wrong. The Lord brought his people out of cruel bondage in Egypt with a mighty arm. He destroyed their enemies. He gave them a good land flowing with milk and honey, the Promised Land. All seemed well. Surely they would experience the blessings of God for many generations. But they did not, why?

In the Book of Judges we read that, “another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (2:10, NIV). After the faithful generation of Joshua fought their enemies and secured the land, things took a bad turn. Generation after generation wandered away from the Lord’s truth and the Lord’s blessing disappeared from their land. By the end of the Book of Judges it says that, “everyone did as he saw fit” (21:25). The result was chaos and disaster.

What went wrong? Notice that a generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. God had instructed his people to tell their children and grandchildren about his great deeds (Deuteronomy 6). In other words, tell them the stories about God, about the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the 10 Commandments, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest of Canaan. In other words, tell kids Bible stories.

The generation that won great victories for God, Joshua’s generation, apparently failed in this one respect. They fought their enemies in Canaan but they failed to simply tell their children about the LORD. The result was a nation sinking into spiritual confusion, a nation that could no longer stand against its enemies. Their children and grandchildren grew up disobeying God and the country suffered.

Today we live in a land where everyone does as they see fit. Generations are growing up without hearing about God’s marvelous deeds, without learning about why it is vital to know God and to obey his commands. The people of God must obey his instruction—trust God by telling children the Bible accounts of God’s great works. God can still raise up a generation who will turn our nation back to him and his blessing.

We can passionately fight the enemies of God in order to secure the land and still lose the country. How? By not preparing a new generation of God-fearing young people who are ready to keep the faith alive. Any positive changes that we make in our society are sure to be lost if the next generation of believers is too weak to carry on the spiritual struggle. Although we may wish to, we will not erase the struggle in this age, but we can prepare our children to prevail.

We must faithfully tell children about God’s great deeds.

May God’s Spirit enable us to keep the faith and to pass it on to new generations,

Brother Richard

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Faith: Finding Faith, Growing in Faith and Saving Faith

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (10:17, NIV).  This verse is speaking to all those who are followers of Jesus Christ.  It reminds us of our task and our method.

According to Romans 10:17, our goal is “faith.”  We serve together in order to help people find faith.  And for those who already have faith, we help them to grow in faith.  As we help others, we grow in our own faith, too.  God’s Spirit knits our souls together with him and with one another into a thriving community of faith that serves his Kingdom and enjoys his blessings.

The faith of Romans 10:17 is not just any faith, but faith that comes “through the word of Christ.”  The Bible tells us that some faith is in vain.  Faith in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ is not saving faith.  Other faiths may be comforting faiths, or satisfying faiths, or popular faiths, or even impressive faiths.  But only faith in Christ is saving faith.

Faith comes from “hearing the message.”  We need not worry about finding a message; we have one already.  Jesus sacrificed himself as a sin offering so that all who place their faith in him will be completely forgiven and eternally blessed by God.

Faith comes from “hearing the message.”  The message is the word of Christ.  As followers of Jesus we have the great opportunity and challenge to tell the Good News about Jesus Christ.  We participate in God’s Kingdom work by making sure that every child and every adult possible hears and understands the great message of saving faith through Jesus Christ.

Every local church exists in order to help people find faith and to grow in faith.  As people are saved and strengthened in faith, the Body of Christ is built up.  And as we carry out our God-given mission we bring glory to God the Father who saves us through his Son Christ Jesus.

May the Lord empower us to grow strong in the faith,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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Jesus Came, We Go

Jesus’ disciples feared for their lives, hiding from the leaders who had crucified their beloved Master.  Suddenly the Lord Jesus himself was standing in their midst, speaking with them.  They were thrilled to see that he was truly alive.

Jesus showed his disciples the marks left on his body from the nails that had held him on the old rugged cross and the sword that had pierced his side after he gave up his spirit.  The fear caused by his death was shattered by joy at his presence.

“Peace to you all!” Jesus said to them.  The peace he was speaking about, however, was not one of inactivity.  His next words were these: “As the Father has sent me, I also am sending you.”

Jesus promised peace to his followers in the midst of a mission.  They were being sent out by Jesus in the same way that Jesus had been sent out by God the Father.  In what way did God send Jesus?

Jesus came in the Name of the Father (John 5:43).  Now, his followers are sent in the Name of Jesus.  Jesus came not to do his will, but the will of the One who sent him (John 6:38).  The followers of Jesus carry out the will of God instead of living for themselves, building God’s Kingdom instead of their own and seeking God’s honor and praise instead of accolades for themselves.

God the Father sent Jesus into the world not for judgment (John 9:39), but so that people may have abundant life (John 10:10).  As followers of Jesus, we too, are sent not to condemn the world but to announce the true source of abundant life.  And what is that source?

Jesus said, “I am Light come into the world so that everyone trusting in me will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). The source of abundant life is Jesus, the Light of the world.  By trusting in him millions have found Life and Light.  Billions more still need to hear the message and have the opportunity to choose life.

We go because Jesus came.  Jesus came from heaven to earth but he also reached out to his neighbors.  We go around the world and across the street because we are sent like Jesus was sent.

May we enjoy the peace of Christ as we fulfill the calling of Christ,

Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR

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