Wednesday, September 11, 2013

這是甚麼意思呢? What does it all mean?

張國昇牧師 Sept. 8, 2013

If you don’t understand something you would probably ask someone you know who would likely give you the correct answer. However, problem may arise if someone assumes too much and never even bothers to ask; or some people may feel they could become annoying by asking too much. I seldom watch any drama series on TV because I simply do not have the patience to follow the development of the weekly episodes. Occasionally when I passed by the family room, my eyes were caught by a interesting scene on the screen and I would start asking my daughters or my wife what was going on in the scene. They would give me a brief answer that would not satisfy my curiosity. I would keep asking until one of them would say, “Why don’t you just sit down and watch.” I would be too embarrassed to ask any more questions and usually just walked away from the scene.  But children are innocent and would keep asking until they get a satisfying answer. Believe me; grandparents would not mind an inquisitive child asking lots of silly questions.  Recently my three year old grandson found an insect and he asked, “Is this a Peanut-Head Bug?” He must be kidding; it looked like a common grasshopper. But he was serious; he kept asking the same question was that a ‘Peanut-Head’ Bug? Grandpa was a biology major in college. Believe it or not I even got an ‘A’ in zoology but I had never heard of a ‘Peanut-Head Bug’. The child got grandpa curious and he had no choice but to consult Professor Google. Sure enough there is such an insect living in Central and South America commonly called ‘Lantern fly’; ‘Peanut-Head Bug’ or ‘Alligator Bug’. Being a Zoology major it gives me the satisfaction to know that its scientific name is Fulgora laternaria belonging to the Family of Fulgoridae in the Order Homoptera. Try to tell that to a three year old and watch the expression of his eyes. He probably would not show the least bit of interest in what Family and Order this Fulgora laternaria belongs to! The best thing to tell him is probably: that it does not bite but don’t mess with it because it would spray you with a perfume that smells like a skunk!

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses was reiterating the Law he received from the Lord on Mt. Sinai to a new generation of Israelites. The Law was for them to keep in the generations to come. He told them. “In the future, when your son asks you ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ tell him…” (Deut. 6:20-21) Moses told the Israelites it was the responsibility of the fathers to tell their children about the Lord and His commandments in its entirety and always reminded the children, “The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.” (Deut. 6: 24-25)

Ii is relatively simple to take our children to church in their preschool years, Even though it is always a chore to get them ready for church; it is relatively easy to drop them off in the nursery and the parents are free to attend Sunday school and worship. But when they start going to school they will have a lot of questions for their parents. Why do I have to go to church when my friends get to stay home to play video games? Why did my teacher tell me that I came from a monkey but I know my brother comes from mommy’s tummy? Why do I have to give money to worship Jesus and my friends keep all their allowance? These are not theological questions; these are faith questions that parents should provide our children true answers just like the fathers in Israel had to teach their children about the Law and commandments of the Lord. As they grow older and ask deeper questions about why we do certain things as we always did, we must first ask ourselves, do we have a personal answer to those questions based on our faith living? Or do we just has theoretical answers that are neither convincing nor worth adhering to. The Ten Commandments is the core of the religious faith of the Israelites; these commandments are of no less importance to us today as Christians are the chosen people of God’s Kingdom. Jesus say, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matt. 5:17-18) We could apply the Law in our lives as Jesus had taught us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”(Matthew 22:37) Beside Him there is no other God in our heart or our mind. This is not a statement given us just to recite; it is a faith statement to live by. How we teach our children about God and the purpose of life depends a lot on our own faith living. We may even unintentionally encourage our children to worship Mammon and other idols by the ways we live. In the Scripture passage of Deuteronomy 18:9-12 we have just read, Moses warned Israel against the practices of the Canaanites; they trusted in demonic power. Don’t let the children have the idea that astrology 星占學and horoscope 星象算命學is innocent games; do not let your palm be read for fun and listen to soothsayers 占卜者or fortune tellers算命者. These people are either liars or they are possessed by evil spirit. Playing with the devil is never a wise practice. We should teach our children the right concept of worship, stewardship and fellowship.

Children may ask many moral questions that deserves honest answers. If you are not alarmed by the sex education currently taught in our public schools, you should be. Alberta, Canada has passed a law that requires all religious school and homeschooling programs to include a curriculum that teach homosexual relationship. Alameda, California school district has passed a law that requires the incorporation of a curriculum that teaches students from Kindergarten to fifth grade the life styles of homosexual同性, bisexual雙性 and transsexuals變性. The Kindergarten children are being indoctrinated with a wrong moral concept even before they can properly write their own names. Moral issues are God’s Law; even a civil law cannot abolish God’s moral rules. Prevalent beliefs and practices of the society certainly will create challenges to the moral values in our children. Everybody is doing the same thing does not necessarily mean it is the right thing to do. When our children ask us about pre-marital sex; co-habitation before marriage; abortion; honesty in school and integrity as a person in society, what can we offer them as answers? Our answers should not be based on what we think is right; our moral judgment should be based on God’s moral Law. The right to teach our children God’s moral values rest on the parents and not on school; nor should it be dictated by societal rules. You may ask, why do we even care? We don’t have that problem with our children! Don’t forget what Paul told the Corinthians, “Do not be misled, or deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good characters.’” (1Corinthians 15:33) You will find this statement painfully truth. The wise man of old had warned that the association with friends of undesirable characters may tempt one to follow their way of life and at the end being ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24-25) Prevention is always much better than cure. You do not want to see your children gradually follow the world in detestable practices; you want them to be in the circle of Christian friends. Do not argue that you do not want to be over-protective to your children. Your children need your help to fight evil temptations and Satan’s snare. They need a support group like a Youth Fellowship in church so that they can be encouraged that they are not alone in living a godly life. Your children need to be in children church to learn how to worship and experience the presence of God and enjoy the relationship with the almighty God. In school your children are under great pressure to conform; and they need the security of a church fellowship. They need to be reminded that God had once reassured Elijah, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”(1Kings 19:18)

Encourage your children to participate in church activities. We owe our children at least that much of support so that they are not fighting the evil torrent of the society alone. We need to give them a chance to grow and mature in their faith!