Recently I stood in my driveway, watching my two college-age daughters finish stuffing their car with all their worldly belongings as they prepared to drive over 1,000 miles away to attend college. As I stood there, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of helplessness. Let me explain.

My time to train them was over.

I thought back to the countless hours of reading the Bible together, and answering the tough questions that they started asking in middle school, and the hundreds of texts throughout their high school years, helping them process deceptive memes and snapchats and tweets that tried to twist their worldview and cause them to deny God and renounce the Bible. I had taught them how to recognize the false thinking behind those lies, and how to go to the Bible for truth, and how to think deeply about complicated subjects of life and faith and eternity in a way that made sense. But now I stood helpless, watching them drive away to their own future, and their own battles, knowing that they would tackle those challenges largely on their own.

I hoped I had prepared them. I hoped they could defend their faith and explain it to others. I prayed that they would not become one of those statistics of the 70% of youth in the church that are walking away from their faith today as they go through high school and college.

Perhaps you can relate to this story. Maybe your kids are heading back to college too. Or maybe they’re in high school and you see it coming. Or maybe they’re still in middle school and you know you have time, but you have no idea what to do. The answer is in apologetics. The Ambassadors Forum has so many excellent resources to help you inoculate your kids against apostasy. It’s not a guarantee, but it is what the Bible calls us to as parents and grandparents.

The Ambassadors Forum will be holding our annual conference on Oct. 8th & 9th, where these and other culturally relevant topics will be expounded from a biblical perspective. We will have amazing speakers like Sean McDowell, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, Neil Shenvi, and more! It will be an amazing opportunity to get practical training and connect with local communities that can help invigorate your faith and apply it to the circumstances around us. Registration is now open!
Hard Question

Hard Question Corner

Did God intend for humans today to be vegetarian/vegan?

That’s a bit outside the normal scope of this ministry, but let’s give it a shot. In the book of Genesis God explains that Adam and Eve were originally created to eat only plants.
Genesis 1:29 – Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food.”

Later on in Genesis, after the flood, God confirms that the original diet was indeed only grains and vegetables, because He then expanded their diet to include meat. In the context of talking about animals He says,

Genesis 9:3 – Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

So to be very clear: No, Scripture does not support the idea that God intends for all humans today to be vegetarian/vegan. In Genesis 9 God specifically permitted the eating of meat. In Romans chapter 14 Paul says that we should accept other believers and not argue with them about what they think is right or wrong for them on matters that are not sin-issues. For example, he says, eating meat is a matter of personal choice.

Romans 14:2-3 – For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them.

So, what’s the conclusion? There is nothing wrong with choosing to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, but nowhere does God require it or even commend it. Is there anything wrong if you WANT to be a vegetarian/vegan? No. Of course not. But there is no justification for saying EVERYONE should be a vegetarian/vegan.

Let’s take it a step further. Animals are God’s creation, and they should be treated with dignity and respect. In fact, we humans were given “dominion” over the animals at creation, and as a reflection of God’s nature our responsibility does include a measure of stewardship and protection. But animals were not made in the image of God. It’s helpful to consider their position “in the wild”. It may be a little disturbing to think about but animals in their natural habitat are routinely massacred and torn apart and eaten by other animals. This is their lot in life, it is literally how God allowed it to be after the flood. We should not condemn the predator for killing and eating what God has designed him to consume.

But humans are fundamentally different. God does not allow them to be killed without consequence. When the value and protection of human life is mentioned in the Bible it is often coupled with the fact that we are “made in the image of God”. Genesis 9:5-6 is a great example.

Genesis 9:5-6 – “And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in his own image.

There are several places in Scripture talk about how much more valuable people are than mammals, birds, etc (Matthew 6:26, 12:12). Christians should be saddened that numerous animals are abused in many industries today. But it’s helpful to let the word of God direct our emotions towards action on such topics.

Current Events Corner

Proverbs 22:6 - “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

When these words were written public education for children did not exist and would not exist for over 2000 years.
Publicly funded schools for children arose early in America, and unfortunately public opinion soon changed to assume that educating children should be left to professionals rather than parents.

Today our public education system routinely operates on the assumption that it knows better than parents how and what children should be taught. If this elitism extended only to questions of how best to teach reading, writing, and math, there might not be much cause for concern. But today, state educators are mandated with molding young minds on moral, racial, and sexual issues as well. Often the content of these teachings are in stark opposition to Biblical teaching and values.

Today, Oregon’s “Health Education Standards and Performance Indicators” mandates that educators teach even kindergarteners about transgenderism (in an “age-appropriate” way, of course). It also conditions students to view race as an inherently divisive issue by teaching them to identify who is an oppressor and who is oppressed simply by a person's skin color.

What are Christian parents to do at a time like this? Become very intentional about training up your children in the way they should go and in the truths of God’s Word. Regardless of what educational model you choose for your family (private school, homeschool, public school, etc.), here is a short list of priorities we all need to adopt as parents:
  1. Regular family worship, prayer, and bible time.
  2. Daily (or at least weekly) debriefs with children about what is being discussed in school and what the Bible has to say (worldview).
  3. Become as involved as you possibly can be in influencing your school’s curriculum and practices.
  4. Find other Christian parents that can join with you in all of the above. The Ambassadors Forum is here to help create and encourage those kinds of communities.
Statistics say that most kids raised in Christian homes today will be lost to the aggressive anti-Christian culture of our day. Become an exception to those statistics.

Galatians 6:9 - “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Personal Application Corner

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 - “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
As a child in the 80s and 90s, I was very blessed to have parents that saw this passage as an educational model to strive for in their own home. They homeschooled me from kindergarten all the way through to 12th grade. I never saw a public school classroom.

That often surprises people. I lead worship every week in my church and often teach up front, I don’t fit the socially awkward homeschooler stereotype… because the stereotype is bogus. And in this age of constant misinformation and indoctrination, don’t let the false stereotype steer you away from this biblical alternative.

Homeschooling isn’t always possible, and it’s a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and the rewards are enormous. So for those that are making it work, or for those considering taking the plunge, here is what homeschooling gave to me.
  1. Excellent education. My parents were not top tier educators. They are just common sense people who knew how to teach me the value of education and how to work hard at my studies. The result was that I regularly tested far ahead of my grade level. Not because my parents had all of the knowledge. Instead they taught me how to find what I needed. You CAN do the same.
  2. Biblical Literacy. There are many high quality homeschool curriculums that include biblical studies as a subject. But even if your curriculum doesn’t offer that, adding regular bible reading, journaling, and discussion is not difficult.
  3. Christian Values. While so many of my peers were facing sinful temptations and negative peer pressure, and being indoctrinated in a steady diet of secularism that was designed to destroy religious faith… I was reading the Bible, getting an education that reinforced my Christian faith, and absorbing art and literature that glorified Him while expanding my horizons. I finished school more well-rounded and less spiritually and emotionally damaged than many of my friends.
  4. Family Cohesion. I have two sisters that I spent every morning with, learning alongside them. And my parents were more closely involved in my development than most because of homeschooling. My relationships with my sisters and parents are still experiencing fruit from the foundations that were forged in my homeschooling years.
When I finished 12th grade in the late 90s, I felt like I was launched into the world with a purpose and all the tools I needed. And today there are far more homeschooling resources than there were when my parents homeschooled. Homeschooling is certainly not the only option for good Christian parents. But if you can, there is a wealth of blessings that can result from it. I pray that you’ll consider it.

Legal Corner

Question: What is a biblical response to vaccine and mask mandates?

Every lawyer I know -including me- is being inundated with requests for help from people resisting vaccine and mask mandates.
Most of the questions arise in schools and workplaces, especially in health care. The short lawyerly answer to these questions is “It depends.”

While not helpful, there are good reasons for such a wishy-washy answer. First, while vaccine requirements for students in school are nothing novel, vaccine mandates for an entire population of adults are a comparatively new development; frankly, the law is (and lawyers are) running to catch up. Second, there is a fair amount of dispute among those with professional knowledge about what measures are truly effective in overcoming the coronavirus and its variants. Third, the huge scale and variety of concerns of those questioning these mandates makes it difficult to come up with a “one-size-fits-all” answer. Finally, while government can impose rules in government buildings, regulating what happens on private property is much more nuanced.

The most common exemptions in statutes and regulations are medical exemptions and religious or conscience objections. Those with legitimate medical concerns based on underlying conditions should be able to request an exemption letter from their doctor. Religious or conscience objections require people to know and articulate the religious or conscience-based reason for opposing vaccination in particular. Does Scripture command us not to wear masks or take vaccines? No. Does Scripture tell us not to take certain vaccines? Not really.

What does Scripture say about these important issues?
  • First, we must be motivated by love and put the interests of others first. Phil 2:3-4; John 15:12-13.
  • Second, we must seek and exercise godly wisdom with humility. Prov 15:33. We should be willing to consider the views and expertise of others rather than relying on common sense or messages in our own “echo chamber.” Prov 1:7; Prov 9:10.
  • Finally, we must remember to obey governing authorities, admittedly with some qualifications. Rom 13: 1-3; I Pet 2:13-14. What neither God’s Word nor the law abides is “I don’t want to” or “The governor can’t make me”, which reflect a rebellious spirit. Rom 13: 5-7.
I close with a couple of questions: (1) if the President or the Governor told us to obey the law of gravity, is that a reason to defy gravity; and (2) if there are compelling, godly reasons for accepting or resisting such mandates, should it matter who the messenger is?

Disclaimer: The above column should not be regarded or relied upon as legal advice. The reader should consult legal counsel for specific guidance in particular circumstances.

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