Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye by Ellie Phillips, DDS

Those of you who know me know that I hate the dentist. I have had bad experiences since I was a child. Over the past year and a half, I have shelled out over $3000 in dental treatments for Emma and I alone! One thing that struck me as funny was that my dentist never tried to teach my daughter anything about caring for her teeth. He has never discussed prevention with us. I think that the prevailing attitude among dentists is that if you are born with the "bad genes" like Emma and I, there is nothing you can do to prevent problems.

Again, those of you who know me know that I am all about prevention. I read everything I can get my hands on when it comes to the health of my family! I want to thank my friend Suzanna for loaning me this book!

Ellie Phillips is an English-born dentist with over 30 years of experience. She has a passion for preventative dentistry. She says that early on in her career she continually questioned those in her field about how we can prevent dental problems. She usually met with silence, or just the response that "you can't prevent it." I am thankful that she decided not to accept this for an answer. Over her many years of experience she has developed a system of oral care that she recommends to all of her patients. For the most part, those who follow her program never need much more than a "coach." This is because they do not seem to suffer from the same amount of issues that the rest of us do. The answer seems to lie in the pH of our mouths. If your mouth is acidic your enamel erodes faster and leaves you prone to caries then cavities. With a combine program of specific rinses and toothpastes combined with regular consumption of xylitol, Dr. Phillips claims that you can reverse caries and enjoy good dental health forever.

Emma and I have been following her program for approximately 3 weeks now. While much damage has already been done in my daughter's mouth, I have to say that for the first time I actually have hope that we can prevent further problems! Emma loves the mouth rinse and the xylitol mints! She also loves the granular xylitol mom bought at the healthfood store. I am so amazed that something so simple and enjoyable can be such a great help. Stay tuned. The results remain to be seen. BUT I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who has problems with cavities. below is a link to Dr. Ellie's blog page for more information:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Book Review: Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can do to Stop it.

Okay, first I have to admit that I started reading this book thinking I would not like it. I cannot say that I agreed with every conclusion that the authors reached, but I do have to say that it was well researched and made a little bit of sense.

The authors surveyed 22,000 people from "evangelical" families who, in their 20's, have abandoned church for one reason or another. It then breaks the groups down into the ones who have said that one day they will return (probably when they have kids) and those that never plan to return. They asked a series of questions to determine why. Overwhelmingly, the answers leaned toward the lack of Biblical authority being taught in churches today. Children go to school and learn what science calls "fact" and then they go to church and learn "stories" of creation, floods, etc. It isn't hard to see why children cannot connect the two worlds. The authors contend that when you take the very first pages of scripture and say "This doesn't necessarily have to be taken literally", then you set children up to take what they want from scripture and leave the rest behind for the "fundamentalists." Why are we losing this battle? Well, I don't come to the EXACT same conclusions as the authors, but I personally think they are on the right track. Or maybe just the right part of the track. Or maybe just somewhere on the track.

I have to begin by saying where I depart from the author's point of view. The statement is made that there are "strong" Christian people who are leaving the fellowship for one reason or another. I have to say that I do not agree with this. Of the top 10 reasons the author lists for Christians leaving church, half of the reasons showed that the people were more concerned about relationships with people rather than coming to church to worship God. Reasons like: boring services, hypocritical people, legalism, too political, etc. A couple of the reasons had to do with distance from home. One of the reasons that floored me was "the Bible isn't relevant/practical" and "not relevant to personal growth." Really? And they are calling these people strong Christians? I am going to stick my neck out here and say this: if you find the Bible irrelevant or do not find fellowship with God's people important, then maybe you should ask yourself what salvation really means. Or better yet, have I truly made Jesus Christ LORD of my life? I would venture to say that the root problem is bad doctrine. If you attend a church where teens are leaving by the dozens and living worldly lifestyles, then maybe it is time to look at all-around doctrine....not just Genesis. Consider Romans 6:20 "In those days, you were slaves of sin, you weren't concerned with doing what was right." The days that Paul refers to are the days before our eyes were opened by the Spirit of God and we were freed from the bondage of sin. Paul calls believers "slaves to righteousness." How can we be followers of our Lord when we don't even find his teaching relevant? Scriptural authority should be a given to those of us who are justified by faith. God's Word should hold authority over our lives!

That being said, I do think that teaching the science behind creation is important to know. Not to "prove" to ourselves that God and science can co-exist. If we have faith in God we already know this to be true. The reason I believe that kids should have this knowledge has to do with the age we are living in. The author does make the point that we are no longer living in a society that values faith, but rather knowledge. I have seen over and over again in conversations with people, that society no longer believes that a person who holds a creation viewpoint can be knowledgeable about science. If our children are to go into the world and preach the gospel in this day and age, they are going to meet with some tough questions. Would it not be better for them to know how to answer them? I have often said that there is so much evidence out there for intelligent design that is consistently overlooked, and deliberately ignored. I have noticed that when I talk with unbelievers (especially those who are college educated) that the very first thing they attack these days is the Scriptural account of creation. These arguments are followed by "the Bible isn't meant to be taken literally..." The truth is, there is just as much (if not more) evidence out there that we were designed than evidence that we evolved.

One difference that the authors and I hold are WHO should be teaching this. They believe that our Sunday Schools have desperately failed, yet they believe that we should simply re-vamp the materials that we are using to teach. I tend to scratch my head at this, because I do not believe that it is the church's responsibility to give our children a "Christian education." I firmly believe that this is the parent's job! They do touch on this fact in the book, but in keeping with modern times, they do not hammer it home. They simply believe that fathers might shirk this responsibility (and most often they do) so we should leave it up to the Sunday school teachers. I am here to say this: churches NEED to encourage and equip parents to teach their children Scripture! Too often, we just say: well, some of these kids don't get this at home so we need to provide it here. They need to encourage, encourage, and keep encouraging until we wake up. We have so many great programs in our churches these days that we tend to think we can just drop our kids off at Sunday School and that is all the Christian education they need. That, my friends, is where we are losing them! Children not seeing authentic faith in their parents. Parents who do not find reading the Bible together with their families important. It is so easy to "disconnect" Scripture from daily life when our parents have done the same. It becomes abnormal to us to see a family sitting and reading the Bible together, and normal to see them sitting in front of a TV! We need to attack the notion of church being just a building where we come to worship! Families who worship together at home are families that model Biblical Christianity to their kids. We, the Body of Christ, are the church.

The book states that statistically Sunday School programs have been a big failure. Again, I agree. But I have to say the the BIGGEST problem that I see in churches today is a focus on programs to teach the flock rather than simply encouraging true Godly living within families. UGH. Okay, let me explain. I will begin with a quote from the book:

"In other words, an increasing level of activities did NOT predict an increase love for God. Church activity alone made NO direct impact on a growing was a flat line--and a stunning discovery for us."

That doesn't stun me. Seriously. Does it surprise you? We can be signed up for every program, attend Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday evening and still not be living it out in our homes. In a nutshell: we need to search our own hearts before we endeavor to make a difference in the hearts of our kids. I know that I fall short in worship in the home. I see that and want desperately to change it. My hearts desire is for my kids to walk in truth. I will repent of this and allow the Lord to change my heart. I cannot expect them to be what I am not.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hitler's Cross

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the opportunity to share the Gospel with a man who is a professing atheist and a Marxist. This was a man who was not foreign to the Good News of Jesus. He had grown up in church and had a general idea of selected scripture. It was quite a learning opportunity for me. We arrived at an impasse , but we both walked away understanding each other's perspective. In the end, I found the source of his worldview very disturbing, yet all too common these days.

It seems that Carl Marx has become quite the hero in liberal education. There are many out there who knowingly, or unknowingly embrace his teachings. Socialism has become the "buzz word" since the election of President Obama. I have talked with people who partially (and sometimes unknowingly) embrace socialism. I have talked to those who laugh off the idea that we are headed for socialism as "Republican hysterics." Now, I can say that I have spoken with someone who truly embraces socialism for what it is and is not ashamed to admit it.

A few days ago, I began reading Hitler's Cross by Erwin Lutzer. I had always wondered what it took to convince a whole nation to follow after such a demonic leader. Lutzer does a good job of putting the process of acceptance into perspective. Hitler knew that his best chance to win the hearts of his people would come in a time of economic devastation. At the time, German economy was at it's worst and the people were starving. It seemed a ripe time for someone who desired to be "savior" to rescue his people. To quote Lutzer: "The people yearned for a leader who would do for them what democracy could not." Hitler was a good political leader. he revived the failing German economy in a span of 5 years. He brought crime under control. He created great social programs like his "Strength through joy" program, which gave millions of Germans vacations that they could not otherwise afford. Hitler did so much to appeal to the outward wants and needs of a nation. However, Hitler was obviously very devious and his motives impure.

To quote Lutzer again: "If he had died before World War ll, one historian mused, he would have gone down in history as "Adolph the Great, one of the outstanding figures in German history."

We all know the end of the story. Hitler purges Germany of the "impure" Jews while focusing his rage on anyone who would dare oppose him. His intention was to disassemble the church and place himself in supreme authority over everything. He banned crucifixes and Bibles from churches and ordered them replaced with swastikas and copies of Mein Kampf. Any preacher who dare preach the Cross of Christ would share the fate of the Jews in the concentration camps. Hitler was a man deeply entrenched in demonic activity.

We think to ourselves "that could never happen in the United States." Yet we have the ACLU who's determination is to stamp every symbol of Christianity from our society. No nativity scenes, no Christmas carols, no mention of Jesus Christ in schools, under the penalty of legal action. One of the things that my socialist friend shared with me is his belief that religion is the cause of all of the world's problems. (not too far from the truth) But more disturbing than that, he believed that if we allowed religion to continue that we would never have peace. In his mind, the only way for people to achieve true peace, we must be a socialistic society void of all faith in God. He was not shy about his opinion. He did not try to hide it or candy coat it. Fortunately, I do believe that his opinion is still in the minority, but I wonder---for how long? When the "Hate Crimes" bill passed, it (in effect) made it possible to criminally charge someone for preaching the Gospel. You might think this is far-fetched, but consider this scenario: a mentally unbalanced man attends a church service where a pastor teaches on the sin of homosexuality. He twists it in his head to believe that he needs to take action against homosexuals and commits a violent crime. This would set the pastor up for fines or imprisonment because his teachings "inspired" the act.

Approximately half of our society believe that pre-born children are not, in fact, children. Obviously a majority of the people believe that the government can better care for them financially than they can for themselves. ( I say obviously because of who we elected as our leader) We live in an era of irresponsibility. We think it would just be much easier if the government would provide for us what is too hard or expensive to provide for ourselves. We are setting ourselves up for destruction. I recommend Hitler's Cross to EVERYONE! It should be required reading at college and high school levels. We need to learn the mistakes of history...because right now it looks like we may be destined to repeat them.
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