School-Choice-700x466-1January witnessed a massive shift in the balance of power both in this state and at the Federal level as Republicans gained control in both. One thing is certain; we will all be confronted with new ideas and change. One such topic that seems to be making both national and state headlines is education, and in particular, alternate forms of delivering and paying for that education.

Before I offer opinions on these school choice ideas, let me extend a word of gratitude to our current educators. I believe teachers are some of the greatest people in the world doing a massively important job. We owe so much of our lives and successes to great teachers who taught and inspired us along the way. Regardless of the institution (public, private, or homeschool), you will find many great teachers. Sure, there are bad apples in each, but by and large teachers care about the well-being and success of the children under their care. They are deserving of our thanks and praise! Read the rest of this entry »

Rainbow-White-HouseGiven the recent same sex marriage ruling (SCOTUS) by the Supreme Court, one cannot help but be amazed at the rapid pace with which this moral and sexual revolution has happened. However, I want to challenge the moral and logical foundation this movement is based upon. The LGBT movement, along with its societal and legal implications, is built upon arguments with shaky foundations and faulty logic. Those imposing their moral will on society seem more concerned with desires and feelings than rationality and moral absolutes.

Here are a few of the primary errors in thinking committed by the supporters of the LGBT movement. Read the rest of this entry »

Alcohol_Should-Christians-DrinkAmong Christians, few topics are as hotly contested and polarizing as the use of alcohol. Those who abstain (teetotalers) are usually very opposed to its use, and those who partake usually find the teetotalers as legalistic Pharisees. But in my observation of these two groups, each has a tendency to fall into extremes – unhelpful and unbiblical views – furthering the divide between the drinkers and the nondrinkers. So lets take a look at these two ditches one can fall into and see how we can avoid them. Read the rest of this entry »

antidepressants_1673710cI have written in the past on the topic of anxiety and depression and have touched on the use of medication. However, I want to discuss the issue a little further, giving my thoughts on what I believe is a proper Christian perspective of the use of anti-depressants. I hope to answer such questions as: Is anti-depressant use sinful? Does sound science support the “low-serotonin” hypothesis? What causes depression? When is medication ok? What are the spiritual dangers of medication? Read the rest of this entry »

blue collarHow many times have you heard someone say, “You need to go to college so you can get a good job and make good money.” I think there are all sorts of issues with this statement, but before I expound, let me share with you a problem I believe is continually getting worse – a lack of skilled trades labor. A 2013 article by Forbes magazine places a spotlight on this growing problem. Here is an excerpt.

“For the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup, the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff with skilled talent hasn’t been registered nurses or engineers or even web developers. It’s been the skilled trades – the welders, electricians, machinists, etc. that are so prevalent in manufacturing and construction. But if these skilled-trades workers are difficult to find now, as Manpower’s survey indicates, just wait a few years. The skills gap is likely to become more acute. If the skills shortage is debatable today,” economic development consultant Brian Kelsey wrote last year, “it likely won’t be at some point in the future.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

matrixThis past Sunday, I taught a class on the topic of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. While this usually conjures up thoughts about the debate of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, the scope of this class was much larger. We discussed the nature of God’s sovereignty and how it is specifically expressed in the world. We assessed God’s sovereignty in creation, the affairs of men, and the salvation of individuals. Next we looked at the nature of human responsibility. What does it mean to have free will and moral accountability? Is our will truly free or is it constrained in some way by sin? Finally, we examined two of the most common objections raised against the teachings of these doctrines. Objection #1: People claim these doctrines are not helpful and will only cause an increase in sin. Objection #2: God’s sovereignty over human actions negates the free will and moral responsibility of human beings, making man a robot and God the author of evil.

Regardless of your stance on “the Calvinist debate,” I think you will find much to agree with in this class. I hope you find it helpful.

Jordan

prayer_0The idea of God’s sovereignty raises many questions for Christians. In fact, one of the central “in-house” debates among Southern Baptist is regarding the extent of God’s sovereignty in the salvation of man. I do not here want to wade into those waters and discuss the merits of both sides; however, I would like to show why I believe all Christians do in fact believe in God’s sovereignty over the world.

There are two specific ways in which Christians, despite their doctrinal proclamations, show their belief in the sovereignty of God. First, you pray for God to do things in your life. You pray that he will take action over some event, whether it be a situation in your life or the conversion of someone. Your prayer indicates that God can do something about your petition. Here the words of J.I. Packer: “The recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts. Every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from His hands.” If God does not have the power or authority to act, then why would you even pray? Read the rest of this entry »

Royalty's Throne. Ornate. On WhiteThe sovereignty of God is a doctrine central to the Christian faith. The hope of the Christian is primarily rooted in a God who has both the authority and the power to bring about his good and perfect will. C.D. Cole defines sovereignty as “the exercise of God’s supremacy. God is the one supreme and independent being. He is the only one in all the universe who has the right and the power to do absolutely as He pleases…The sovereignty of God means that He does as He pleases, always as He pleases. God is in control of all things and people, and is directing all things after His own will and to the praise of His own glory.” Psalm 115:3 says, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” Likewise, Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’”Although the sovereignty of God is not necessarily one of his attributes, it is however true on the basis of his other attributes, i.e. omnipotence, aseity, omniscience, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

prozac-depression-medication-200Today I was blessed to be able to lead a class at my church discussing the topic of anxiety and depression from a Christian worldview. If you have read my previous blog posts on these topics (found here: anxiety part 1, anxiety part 2, depression), then you will have a good idea of the nature of our discussion. Below you will find a link to the audio of the class.

I want to make a couple of comments regarding the content of the class. First, I mentioned that medication could be used to relieve some of the painful physical symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, I want to point out that pain and suffering is not always bad and our goal should not always be to get rid of pain. Pain is often a sign that something is wrong and fixing the root cause should be the primary goal – not relieving the symptoms. Additionally, we often grown in character through trails and suffering; however, our culture is very pain-averse. But character is forged in the fires suffering, so don’t always begrudge its place in your life.

Second, I want to reemphasize a comment made in the class. It was mentioned that the root of anxiety is misplaced identity. As Christians, we do not truly believe who we are in Christ and what our true purpose is in life. This can lead to anxiety about our perceived understanding of our circumstances – a perception that is false. Complete trust in God’s promises provide a sure foundation for maximal mental health in this life, despite the frailties of our brain.

Jordan

GideonToday is a very special day in the Tong household, as we celebrate our son Gideon’s 2nd birthday. What makes today more special than any other birthday? Well, unknown to us before delivery, Gideon’s body was not forming exactly right in the womb. He had a severe birth defect known as bladder exstrophy, a rare defect that affects 1 in 40,000 babies. His hips were rotated out slightly and therefore his pelvis did not properly close. This allowed his bladder to “pop through” and form on the outside of his body. Along with this condition come an epispadias, bowel issues, bladder problems, and possible neurological problems at the base of the spine. What began as a normal delivery turned into an emergency flight to Louisville and a conversation with a pediatric urologist who had only one failed exstrophy operation on his resume. Read the rest of this entry »