Accordingly, two cities have been formed by two loves: the earthly by the love of self, even to the contempt of God; the heavenly by the love of God, even to the contempt of self. The former, in a word, glories in itself, the latter in the Lord. For the one seeks glory from men; but the greatest glory of the other is God, the witness of conscience. The one lifts up its head in its own glory; the other says to its God, “Thou art my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” In the one, the princes and the nations it subdues are ruled by the love of ruling; in the other, the princes and the subjects serve one another in love, the latter obeying, while the former take thought for all. The one delights in its own strength, represented in the persons of its rulers; the other says to its God, “I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength.” And therefore the wise men of the one city, living according to man, have sought for profit to their own bodies or souls, or both, and those who have known God “glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened; professing themselves to be wise”— that is, glorying in their own wisdom, and being possessed by pride—“ they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things.” For they were either leaders or followers of the people in adoring images, “and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” But in the other city there is no human wisdom, but only godliness, which offers due worship to the true God, and looks for its reward in the society of the saints, of holy angels as well as holy men, “that God may be all in all.”
St. Augustine, The City of God
If you own a television or have access to the internet, you understand that the last year or so in politics has been brutal. Both sides of the ideological aisle have acted savagely to each other and themselves. It is very easy for us as Christians who live in the city of man to get caught up in the savageness of our day. We value self-expression at the expense of self-reflection. Don’t believe me go on Facebook for five seconds. My argument today is not in support of a cause, party or politician.
Augustine writing his brilliant work city of God in the ruins of the mighty Roman Empire had the perfect political and eschatological perspective. Augustine was getting at some things that as followers of Christ we must not ignore. He was arguing against an over-identification with the temporal aspects of even the greatest city of man. The political problem in the church is not an Obama or Trump issue. It isn’t a red state blue state issue. The problem with the church and politics is those in the church are too quick to identify as Republican or Democrats. It was from the ruins of perhaps the greatest city ever that Augustine pleads with us to find our identity in the city of God rather than the city of man.
This year was a change for me I started graduate school a little over a year ago, and the books I want to read are now waiting for me because of books I have to read are taking precedence. I have learned a couple of things about reading this year.
1.Reading books above what you typically read or are comfortable reading push you to read more efficiently and read more widely. There are books I would never have read this year if it were not for that.
I write this before the election results are final because it will be extremely relevant for the half of America that feels like they lost but should be relevant for all us. Most parents want their kids to be politically like-minded. The problem is in the fact that we are trying to raise our kids to be loyal to a particular party.
Parents what your kids need to see from you after the election is over.
- Humility – We need much more humility on both sides of the aisle.
- Humanity – The opposition is not an evil to be eradicated but people to be reasoned with and listened to and opposed strongly.
- Hope – Our kids need us to point them to the history of our republic and show the resilience that our founding fathers built into this experiment. They don’t need us counting ration cans and loading our weapons.
- Help – We need to have conversations with our kids about how they can help restore our country to her founding principles.
We need to teach our kids to be more faithful to the constitution, and to the principles that make America great. We need to tell them the goodness of our history without shielding them our massive shortcomings. We need to teach them that we must fight for liberty for all because when we fail to live up to the preamble of the constitution we collectively pay a great price. Lincoln understood this with a heavy heart during his second inaugural address he said
“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
“Will an equally severe accounting be demanded for America’s equally brazen denial of the Declaration’s promise of life for all and a myriad of other contradictions of America’s declared commitment to freedom?”
We must pray and pass on to our kids the stories of sacrifice and greatness rather than ranting on and on about why (insert political enemy here) is the worst.
The last thing we must always do is remind our kids of the hope of heaven. We only passing through if we look to the kingdoms of this world or political parties in this world we will be only ever disappointed. We must gain our footing and regain our perspective.
“One day America and all its presidents will be a footnote in history, but God’s kingdom will never end.” John Piper
During this campaign cycle, we have heard Hilary Clinton quote the infamous misattributed quote from Alexis de Tocqueville. She has said as many Politicians before her have said: “America is great because America is good.” This is correct but incomplete. What is good? We need fewer Chants of “Lock her up” fewer emails colluding to steal our parties nomination. We need more conversations about what we as a country can agree on what is good, true and beautiful.
I thought the last four presidential elections were bad; this one is by far the worse. The problem I have come to realize is everybody. Both sides have turned the political discourse in this country into us vs. them. Tomorrow 50% of our nation will feel like they have lost. America loses when we demonize our opposition for the short-sighted goal of winning an election. Everyone loses when we win at our own expense.
I have also come to the conclusion that both sides are right. They both see problems with our country and see that we are in need of reform. While both see different parts of the whole that are broken, if we can refrain from chucking bombs at each other long enough to listen to each other perhaps we can realize that the common ground we are losing with every vicious election is the founding principles of our country. If our republic is to survive, we must return to our first principles. The Brilliant Os Guinness says it this way:
…what the Jews understood by the hope of national renewal through a return to the ways of God and the Puritans understood by the hope of renewal through personal and corporate revival was paralleled politically in the ideas of the founders. George Mason, characteristically more conservative, spoke of “a frequent recurrence to fundamental first principles,” whereas Thomas Jefferson, who was more liberal, spoke of the need for “a revolution every twenty years.” Even Machiavelli agreed with this, though sadly not his modern disciples: republics must frequently return to their first principles. ‘“Things are preserved from destruction by bringing them back to their first principles,’ is a rule in Physics; the same holds good in politics.” …I am convinced that America faces no problem today that cannot be resolved through a return to America’s first principles. Yet the plain fact is that those who reject the founders’ understanding of sustainable freedom are hardly likely to take seriously their views of national and civic renewal, so the folly and madness continue unabated, at least for the moment. If there is no American renewal, American dominance can be followed only by American decline. America has reached the point where, apart from restoration, there is no other choice.
So today go vote. Tomorrow no matter who wins remember that our Republic will prevail not through policies on the left or the right but reformation through going backward together to go forward stronger. We have to get this right.
If justice is not to be denied and if, as Lincoln said in his noble second inaugural address, the judgments of heaven are “true and righteous altogether,” then America will face the fate of all overreaching empires: the United States will be indicted for its hubris and judged before the world by whether it has lived up to the standard of its own ideals.
One of the questions I get asked often is “What Bible should I buy my kids?” It’s a great question because when I was a kid, there was the KJV and The Picture Bible that was pretty much it. Now there are more Bible versions and types of Bibles than there are flavors at Baskin Robins. The problem is finding Bibles for your kids that
aren’t too far below them or to advance for them.
One of the jobs we have as parents is helping our kids learn the discipline of reading their Bibles. We live in a culture that is growing more skeptical and even hostile towards the Bible and it’s claims. We need to be more intentional about giving our kids a Biblical worldview but even more than that we must do our best to help them find the world of God true and beautiful.
Here are the Bibles I recommend by age.
Flap Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones – Think Jesus Story Book Bible for 2 year-olds. “The perfect introduction to timeless stories from the old and new testaments the Lift-the-Flap Bible
combines breathtaking illustrations with delightful text. With flaps to open on every page (and surprises to find underneath), children join in the thrill of discovery as they take part in each of the stories from the Old and New Testaments. Through the pages of this stunning Bible, the greatest story ever told is traced and the wonderful news that God loves us is brought home to the heart of every child.”
Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones –
This book still moves me even after I have read the cover off four copies and am now on my fifth. If your kids are 4-8 years old this Bible is a must. “The Jesus Storybook Bible
tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David—every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God’s great story of salvation—and at the center of their Story too.”
The Action Bible by David C Cook
– My kids love this Bible it is great because it tells most of the stories of the bible in a very visually appealing way. It is a great segway Bible for kids bridging them from Story Based Bibles into Text Based Bibles. “Here’s the most complete picture Bible ever! And it features a captivating, up-to-date artwork style—making it the perfect Bible for today’s visually focused culture. The Action Bible
presents 215 fast-paced narratives in chronological order, making it easier to follow the Bible’s historical flow—and reinforcing the build-up to its thrilling climax. The stories in The Action Bible
communicate clearly and forcefully to contemporary readers. This compelling blend of clear writing plus dramatic images offers an appeal that crosses all age boundaries. Brazilian artist Sergio Cariello has created attention-holding illustrations marked by rich coloring, dramatic shading and lighting, bold and energetic designs, and emotionally charged figures. Let this epic rendition draw you into all the excitement of the world’s most awesome story.”
NirV Devotional Bible by Zondervan
– I like this Bible for older girls because of the readability of the translation and the fact that it has a year worth of devotions built in. “Complete with a year’s worth of devotions, the Kids’ Devotional Bible, NIrV will help children develop a habit they’ll want to keep. Engaging weekday devotions, fun weekend activities, interesting illustrations, and a dictionary make this a Bible they’ll want to read and apply to their lives. It includes the complete New International Reader’s Version (NIrV)—the stepping stone to the NIV—making it easier for young readers to read and understand.”
The Action Study Bible (ESV)
– While the ESV is my favorite translation because of the way it is translated it can be difficult for kids to read. This Bible is still a great bridge from The Action Bible into a full-text Study Bible.
“See God in action in this illustrated study Bible for kids and teens!
What do you get when you combine the trusted English Standard Version with illustrations from Marvel comic artist Sergio Cariello? An amazing study Bible that brings God’s Word to life for kids and teens”
10+ boy or girl
ESV Grow Bible by Crossway – Again ESV isn’t my first pick for a kids bible. What I like about this Bible is that even though the translation may be tough the helps sections are really good. “The ESV Grow! Bible is designed specifically to reach children ages 8–12 for the time between when they use a children’s Bible and a more advanced Bible. Coupling the full ESV text with many helpful features, this is a Bible that young students can call their own.The ESV Grow! Bible comes with all-new features to help children learn and understand God’s Word. Nearly every other page features a “W Question”, boxes answering the who, what, where, when, or why of a text—basic questions a child might have while reading. Introductions to each Bible book, charts, and maps help young readers understand the themes, characters, and context of Scripture. 45 “Cross Connections” explain how certain Bible passages point to Christ and 90 “4U” sections explain and apply texts to the child’s life. In addition, articles about Jesus and the teachings of the Christian faith help children understand important theological concepts.”
Zondervan Study Bible Personal Size
– This Bible is perfect for the Teen to College age crowd. The editor of this Study Bible is a solid Theologian and the NIV is very readable yet still accurate. “The NIV Zondervan Study Bible
, featuring Dr. D. A. Carson as general editor, is built on the truth of Scripture and centered on the gospel message. An ambitious and comprehensive undertaking, Dr. Carson, with committee members Dr. T. Desmond Alexander, Dr. Richard S. Hess, Dr. Douglas J. Moo, and Dr. Andrew David Naselli, along with a team of over 60 contributors from a wide range of evangelical denominations and perspectives, crafted all-new study notes and other study tools to present a biblical theology of God’s special revelation in the Scriptures. To further aid the readers’ understanding of the Bible, also included are full-color maps, charts, photos and diagrams. In addition, a single-column setting of the Bible text provides maximum readability.”
If you have a Bible that you would like to recommend place the link to it in the comments section.