This Is My Father’s World

by | Apr 5, 2016 | City Lights

This is my father’s world
and to my listening ears 
all nature sings, and round me
 rings, 
the music of the spheres

Somehow, riding the subway at 6:00 in the morning in mid-winter darkness, a couple of days a week (to do lap swimming), doesn’t lend itself to hearing the music of the spheres

I look at the other people on the train.  Those who are not sleeping are on their cell phones, either reading their messages or heads are bobbing up and down with the music that, presumably, is very far from the rustling grass where I hear him pass

God is very distant from our general culture.  What is worse are the many attempts to remove all traces of Him together with the self-destructive, futile attempts to remake our world into something other than what God has made it to be.

I have often said that I don’t need the classical arguments for God’s existence.  Just look at the choices people make in this world and observe the outcome of those choices.  People try to make their own way, disregarding God’s way as something outmoded and not in keeping with the twenty-first century as if modernity represents the best in human history.  Someone once said to me with a straight face, “Standards are different today.”  This is a secular article of faith that is uncritically assumed and one that needs to be challenged. 

This is God’s world.  It’s His design and whenever we try to say that it is something other than what God says it is, we’re in for trouble.

Nowhere is that more evident in God’s design for marriage and the family.  Dr. David Ayers, Dean of Arts and Letters at Grove City College, a sociologist and who also happens to be former member of our church, put it most profoundly.  “We’ve separated things that were always supposed to be united.  We’ve separated sex, marriage and children.”  As a result, pre-marital sex is okay and so is gay marriage.  Biblically speaking sex, marriage and children are conjoined.  That is God’s design and whenever we try to alter God’s design or try to circumvent it, we create serious problems. 

I’ve said this before in a previous article.  In one of our outreach ministries where we had about 30 to 40 children from the neighborhood, most of whom I did not know, I got to the point where I could observe the group and fairly accurately guess who is being raised by their biological father and mother.  Granted you can give me a zillion exceptions but generally speaking I noticed a calmer spirit and a more self-assured demeanor in those who were raised by their biological father and mother.

The effect of sidestepping God’s order involves more than just the individual.  I don’t need to invoke chapter and verse to prove that society in general is affected by an individual’s wrong life-altering choices.  We all pay for the shop lifter as the merchant’s loss is added to the cost of doing business.  Think of the many people who are directly affected by one person’s life-controlling problem: wives, children, siblings, neighbors, employers, creditors.  It is common knowledge that out of wedlock births means poverty in that child’s future.

Much of our ministry is remedial.  We would like it to be more preventive. We thank God for the transformed lives of those who have been saved out of the darkness of gross sin.  We have also seen the tears over what could have been, had they come to Christ earlier in life. 

I was chatting with one man who had recently come to Christ.  He told me of a lengthy phone conversation he just had with a childhood friend who was a believer.  He related to me how, as children, he and his friends used to make fun of him for his faith in Christ.  That child is now a grown man and still faithfully following our Lord being blessed with his own business.  He quoted his friend to me, “You could be where I am today had you started following the Lord back then.”   My new brother in Christ readily agreed. 

Choices produce consequences because it’s God’s world.  Part of the evangelistic task is to get people on the road to thinking God’s thoughts after Him, as He has revealed Himself through His Word.  It’s called repentance.   There can be no genuine faith without it.  When we engage people with the Gospel, we endeavor to help them make the connections between their choices and their consequences.  It takes a firm but gentle hand along with a heavy dose of humility and most of all, the work of the Holy Spirit, to touch that point of rebellion in a person’s life.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God but how can one exercise true saving faith without answering what the Word says about our inbred desire for autonomy which must be repented of?    Anyone can pray the “sinner’s prayer” or the equivalent thereof but faith and repentance must go together. 

Without the exercise of both, we sadly watch people walk away from the Gospel as they choose to act as if they can create their own reality and choreograph their own happiness only to discover later that they have fallen into a pit they have unwittingly dug for themselves.

I don’t need the cosmological and teleological proofs for God’s existence.  The ungodly choices that people make, together with the consequences thereafter, convinces me more than ever that this is my Father’s world.  There is no other way, no other answer to the fallen human condition.

Thank you for your part in enabling us to remain here to point people to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Household Words

It’s not even spring yet but it’s time to talk about summer camp scholarships.  Our choices of camp venues are more than in years past.  The main ones continue to be Northern Frontier for boys and Camp Cedarbrook for girls, also Worldview Academy for our older high school and post high school young people.  Thank you for considering this opportunity by praying about it.

Years ago in my home church in Minneapolis a married woman who, with her husband, missionaries to Africa, preached the message at the evening service.  This was before the days of the women’s movement.  Her title: “Where are the men?”  She was lamenting the fact of the shortage of men so badly needed in their field of ministry. 

I ask the same question today.  One of the greatest needs in urban ministry is male role models and mentors.  We feel this keenly in our associate ministry New York City Christian Athletic League, our Battalion ministry to teenage boys and most of all, our school, Hope Academy. 

We have the men now and we are grateful for them.  They know the urban environment. They’ve grown up here.  They understand the kids with whom they work.  They have a heart for the youth of this city.  But how long can we keep them in their current position?  I’m thinking particularly of Hope Academy teachers.  They are about to be married or they have young families that they need to support.  Housing is becoming increasingly expensive in this neighborhood which, I can personally attest, was once much more financially accessible than it is today. 

Hope Academy is half way through its second year and it’s been a wonderful year.  It’s our opportunity to work with kids on a daily basis who would otherwise fall through the cracks of the educational system.  Our head of school Naomi is the anchor of HA but how I long to see her and the teachers, especially the male teachers receive a living wage so that they can do what they’ve already been doing very effectively. 

You have been very generous with your support and for that we give thanks to God.  We are asking you to help us find new people who would be interested in partnering with a ministry such as this, or, perhaps, as some have done in the past, direct us to foundations which would be a potential source of funding.

As always, our confidence continues to be in the faithfulness of our precious Lord.