Thursday, March 30, 2017

Allen Raynor Weblog: “The Best Inheritance of All”-Mar. 30, 2017

Allen Raynor Weblog: “The Best Inheritance of All”

(Mar. 30, 2017)


          One of the television programs I enjoy is a show that is aired on The Fox Business Network called Strange Inheritance hosted by Jamie Colby.  The 30-minute episodes feature people who have inherited unusual items or collections which are almost always valuable.  Past episodes have featured such things as a large and intricately detailed collection of ships in a bottle; land containing dinosaur bones; a massive collection of model trains; a nostalgic movie theater in Pennsylvania; a huge collection of western art; very rare baseball cards more than 100 years old; and the original headstone of JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

          People collect many things.  Some are valuable while some are not.  Most people collect things based on their areas of interest and not so much on the basis of whether it is, or will be, valuable.  Whatever a person collects is valuable to them, and sometimes only them. I know of many pastors who have collected many books and built impressive libraries of, in some cases, several thousand volumes.  The primary motivating factor has been to gain better knowledge of God, His Word, making disciples, ministering, evangelizing, understanding theology, and church history.  My guess is that such collections will never be featured on shows like Strange Inheritance or The History Channel’s American Pickers.  The world places value on certain things, but not on other things.  The world has little interest in books they 1) Do not understand 2) Challenge their lifestyle.  Take a look at people.  Where do they spend their time, where do they spend their money, and what do they like to talk about?  It is pretty easy to figure out what a person is all about when you see where their affections lay.

          If most people in this world were to inherit a large collection of Christian books, or even a collection of Bibles, they would hardly know what to do.  Ironically, people are anxious to inherit money and valuable possessions from a loved one, but they place value on things that have no value to God, and fail to place value on things that have enormous value to God.  We might call it a big inheritance mix-up where people’s thinking is totally opposite of what God intends.  Paul, writing to the Ephesian church, wrote “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Eph. 1:11)  He wrote to the Colossian church that we should be truly thankful for our inheritance in Christ as he commends “Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Col. 1:12).  Peter opened his first epistle by reminding the saints of their inheritance in Christ.  He said “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet. 1:4-5)

          Beginning at a young age, I was taught to put God first, others second, and myself last.  As I grew into adulthood and slowly understood God better I eventually came to understand the need to put God first, my family second, and everything else after that.  That has been my goal and aim.  I am deeply saddened and often disturbed when I learn of others treating God and their families so flippantly.  So much is taken for granted.  But, it is more common to take God’s blessings for granted when we fail to realize those blessings have come from God.  The problems of this world can easily be understood by the fact that the world does not know God nor His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.  Because of this, they will inherit nothing from God.  He is not a father to them, nor are they His sons.  They are not the “new creatures” in Christ that Paul talks about in 2 Cor. 5:17.  Instead they stand to reap what they have sown (Gal. 6:7).  They will inherit this corrupted world that is destined for God’s judgment.  But, as believers we have a wonderful inheritance waiting for us.  It is an inheritance of God’s own choosing prepared and preserved for us, His children.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Allen Raynor Weblog: Re-Issue of “The Death of the Grown-Up” -(Parts 1 & 2)-Mar. 16, 2017

          The book The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization by Diana West is one of the best, and most informative, books I have ever read.  Eight years after reading the book and writing this two-part weblog in April/May 2009 I find the words even truer than I did back then. 


Allen Raynor Weblog: The Death of the Grown-Up (Pt. 1)

(April 29, 2009)


          Where have all the adults gone?  Sound like a strange question?  Well it is not really as far-fetched as it might seem.  In a book entitled The Death of the Grown-Up: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down Western Civilization, author Diana West shows how the phenomena we now see in western culture is an anomaly when compared with the patterns of all of history.  This is not, a Christian book per se, and if the author is a Christian it is not told.  She is merely a keen observer of what has, and is, taking place.  The following comes from the first chapter of the book:


     Once, there was a world without teenagers.  Literally.  ‘Teenager,’ the word itself,

     doesn’t pop into the lexicon much before 1941.  This speaks volumes about the last

      few millennia.  In all those many centuries, nobody thought to mention ‘teenagers’

      because there was nothing, apparently to think of mentioning.

      In considering what I like to call ‘the death of the grown-up,’ it’s important to keep

     a fix on this fact; that for all, but this most recent episode of human history, there

     were children and there were adults.  Children in their teen years aspired to

     adulthood; significantly, they didn’t aspire to adolescence.  Certainly adults didn’t

     aspire to remain teenagers.

     That doesn’t mean youth hasn’t always been a source of adult interest: Just think in    

     five hundred years what Shakespeare, Dickens, the Bronte’s, Mark Twain, Booth

     Tarkington, Eugene O’Neill, and Leonard Bernstein have done with teen material.

      But something has changed.  Actually, a lot of things have changed.  For one thing,

      turning thirteen, instead of bringing children closer to an adult world, now launches

      them into a teen universe.  For another, due to the permanent hold our culture has

      placed on the maturation process, that’s where they’re likely to find most adults.

      This generational intersection yields plenty of statistics.  More adults ages eighteen

      to forty-nine, watch the Cartoon Network than watch CNN.  Readers as old as

      twenty-five are buying ‘young adult’ fiction written expressly for teens.  The

      average video gamester was eighteen in 1990; now he’s going on thirty.  And no

      wonder; The National Academy of Sciences has, in 2002, redefined adolescence as

      ‘the period extending from the onset of puberty, around twelve, to age thirty.’  The

      MacArthur Foundation has gone farther still, funding a major research project that

      argues that the ‘transition to adulthood’ doesn’t end until age thirty-four.

      This long, drawn-out ‘transition’ jibes perfectly with two British surveys showing

      that 27 percent of adult children striking out on their own return home to live at

      least once; and that 46 percent of adult couples regard their parent's’ houses as their

     ‘real’ homes.  Over in Italy, nearly one in three thirty-somethings never leave that

      ‘real’ home in the first place.  Neither have 25 percent of American men, ages

      eighteen to thirty.  Maybe this helps explain why about one-third of the fifty-six

      million Americans sitting down to watch SpongeBob SquarePants on Nickelodeon

      each month in 2002 were between the ages of eighteen and forty-nine.

      (Nickelodeon’s core demographic group is between the ages of six and eleven.)

      These are grown-ups who haven’t left childhood.  Then again, why should they? 

      As movie producer and former Universal marketing executive Kathy Jones put it,

      ‘There isn’t any clear demarcation of what’s for parents and what’s for kids.  We

      like the same music, we dress similarly.’

      How did this happen?  When did this happen?  And why?  More than a little cultural

     detective work is required to answer these questions.  It’s one thing to sift through

     the decades looking for clues; it’s quite another to evaluate them from a distance

     that is more than merely temporal.  We have changed.  Our conceptions of life have

     changed.  Just as we may read with a detached non-comprehension how man lived

     under the divine right of monarchs, for example, it may be that difficult to relate to a

     time when the adolescent wasn’t king. (Diana West; The Death of the Grown-Up;

     chapter 1)


          My purpose here is, by no means, to put down young people between 13 and 19 years of age who are, by today’s standards, “teenagers.”  The real problem is that adults are often not mentoring these young people into full adulthood, but instead are all-too-often teaching by their example that one really does not have to grow up.  It is a sort of “Peter Pan” syndrome which finds eternal bliss in immaturity.  As we consider Scripture, we find the need to be mature and be responsible emphasized again and again.  Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 13:11, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child; I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Being a child is a wonderful thing, when you are one, but when you are really an adult, it is far from cute!  Something to think about!


Allen Raynor Weblog: The Death of the Grown-Up (Pt. 2)

(May 6, 2009)


          Last time we began to lay out the problems Diana West identifies in her book The Death of the Grown-Up.  She continues by presenting some of the history which has brought us to the present day.  She writes…


     About a hundred years ago, Booth Tarkington wrote Seventeen, probably the first

     novel about adolescence.  Set in small-town America, the plot hinges on seventeen

    -year-old William Baxter’s ability to borrow, on the sly, his father’s dinner jacket,

     which the teenager wants to wear to impress the new girl in town.  In other words,

     it’s not a pierced tongue or a tattoo that wins the babe: it’s a tuxedo.  William dons

     the ceremonial guise of adulthood to stand out – favorable – from the other boys.

     That was then.  These days of course, father and son dress more or less alike, from

     message emblazoned T-shirts to chunky athletic shoes, both equally at ease in the

     baggy rumple of eternal summer camp.  In the mature male, these trappings of

     adolescence have become more than a matter of comfort or style; they reveal a

     state of mind, a reflection of a personality that hasn’t fully developed, and doesn’t

     want to- or worst, doesn’t know how.

     By now, the ubiquity of the mind-set provides cover, making it unremarkable

     indeed, the norm.  But there is something jarring in the everyday, ordinary sight of

     adults, full -grown men and women both outfitted in crop tops and flip-flops,

     spandex and fanny-packs, T-shirts, hip-huggers, sweatpants, and running shoes.


          The Rolling Stones’ most famous hit is perhaps the unspoken mantra of this generation - I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.  There is incessant chasing after things which offer the hope of real satisfaction - fitting in, internal happiness, etc.  Many young girls, for instance, genuinely feel that if they could just become more like Brittany Spears they could truly be happy.  West goes on to write:


     In a world where distinctions between child and adult have eroded, giving rise to a

     universal mode of behavior more infantile than mature…belly bare, and buttocks

     wrapped like sausages.  At one time, so sexually charged a display by a child would

     have appalled the adults around her; now ‘Baby Britneys’ – and their legion –

     delight their elders, winning from them praise, Halloween candy, even Girl Scout

     music badges.


          “Common decency” is not so common anymore.  We are not talking merely about dress, but about a whole lifestyle which has seemingly arisen out of nowhere.  Well, everything is from somewhere.  As you might have predicted money is the bottom line.  The phenomena we see today stems from coming to see ‘teenagers’ as a group in which to market products.  In that sense, teenagers have become pawns in a big, ugly game.  Think of all the products which are specifically marketed to those between 13 and 19 years of age.  Magazines, books, clothing, cars, video games, grooming products, music, electronic equipment, food, and the list goes on and on.  Teenagers are in that sense “victims” of the times and culture.  Make no mistake, it is in the best interest of those who make and market products targeting teens to expand the teen years, so to speak.  That is why men in their thirties and forties, for instance, have become such a large demographic target for the video game industry. 

          Who bears the responsibility here?  The adults, of course, however we are now a few generations removed from children moving directly into adulthood so we are essentially asking effectual adolescent parents to control their adolescents!  It is like the fox watching the henhouse or the government investigating itself!

          What can we do?  Is there any hope?  Absolutely there is, but only if we recognize the problem and resolve to do something about it.  We must break the cycle if there is to be any relief from the cycle!  We desperately need parents to act like parents not just “buddies” to their kids.  We need good behavior modeled for our teens in a non-threatening way.  Most of all, we need Godly principles taught in the home.  Too many parents mildly rely on a youth pastor, or Sunday School teacher to make up for years of Biblical neglect in the home.  It is like asking someone to relocate Mt. Everest with a shovel!  We need adults teaching young adults how to be adults!  If you are at least one of the following we need your help – parent, grandparent, church-member, or an adult of any age.  We are in desperate need of good role-models.  Will you be one?


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor