Archive for January, 2015

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Discretion Shall Preserve Thee

In the last newsletter article we discussed the fact that our conservative community has taken a “non typical” response to the electronic technology available in our day. Whereas in the past, our communities have often used the rejection safeguard against electronic technology, now we have accepted it under the “use with discretion” safeguard. Discretion calls for watchfulness, wisdom, self-control, self-discipline, and sound individual judgment. This means that our parenting, our preaching, and our teaching should all be harnessed as available methods by which to teach discretion, because we must raise the next generation to be even more discreet, more watchful, and employ more self-control and self-discipline than even our own generation has exhibited. Is this possible? I hope so; because if it is not, we will be assimilated into the popular culture and conform to the world. If it is possible, it will not happen by chance, but by intention.

Proverbs 2:10- 12 gives us a description of the “preserving effect” of discretion. It says, “When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things.” These verses tell us that wisdom and knowledge are ingredients in the recipe of discretion. Wisdom is knowledge and understanding put to practice in real life. Wisdom is not just a demonstration of good brains, but of good habits and practices in lifestyle. Knowledge represents a set of data that a person knows or is aware of because they have paid attention to it or have been instructed in it. This proverb tells us that an attitude of pleasant acceptance toward knowledge is necessary in the recipe for discretion. As parents and teachers, we set before our children/students many things to which we expect them to pay attention and to know. Are we setting before them the most important things to know- the kind of knowledge that leads to discretion? Are we presenting knowledge to our children/students in a way that is easy for them to receive as “pleasant to the soul”? When we are instructing our children/students are we concerned about their attitude towards knowledge, knowing that pleasant acceptance is the only attitude that will lead to discretion?

These verses point to the fact that it is the internal commodity of discretion created from a recipe of wisdom and pleasant acceptance of knowledge that will have a preserving effect on the life of the recipient. It is the internal commodity of discretion that delivers from the “way of the evil man.” It is the internal commodity of discretion that delivers a person from “the man that speaketh frorward things.”  Therefore we could conclude that the reverse could also be said: a person who gets caught up “in the way of the evil man” and “the man that speaketh forward things” is simply demonstrating his lack of internal discretion.

Applying these verses directly to our community’s response to technology, we could say these things:

-The rejection safeguard of yesteryears which said “no TV, no movies, and no theatre attendance” was a wise, discreet, and viable choice which had a preserving effect from the “way of the evil man.”

-It is possible that some followed the external regulations of  “no TV, no movies, and no theatre attendance” without the internal discretion to explain why they chose not to do these things.

-With the external safeguards of yesteryear not applying to the current situation with technology, internal discretion is the foremost, and in many cases, the only commodity that stands between our children and “the way of the evil man.”

-The “use with discretion safeguard” to which we have now reverted will be a grueling but very accurate test of our ability as parents, teachers, and churches to actually teach discretion.

-If/when failure comes and our youth succumb to “the way of the evil man,” we must recognize that in most cases the failure was a lack of preserving discretion, rather than a lack of external controls.

-A lack of preserving discretion in the younger generation will demonstrate a failure in the “parenting” generation to successfully teach this skill.

-Preserving discretion readily practiced and demonstrated and employed by the younger generation will show the success of the “parenting” generation to teach this skill.

DISCRETION SHALL PRESERVE THEE- DO YOU HAVE IT? CAN YOU PASS IT ON TO YOUR CHILDREN?

-Lyle Musser, Administrator

Posted by Kristen on Jan 29th 2015 | Filed in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Discretion Shall Preserve Thee

Culture, Technology, and Our Community

There is no doubt that the Devil is a master con artist when it comes to using culture around us to “press us into his mold.” Romans 12:2 tells us we must continually resist this conforming pressure. It tells us that the way to resist conformation to the world is to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This transformation by the renewing of our minds brings out its evidence and proof as we perform the “good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” There is also no doubt in my mind that the cultural pressure to conform to this world is at a high point in our land at this moment. With God consciousness moving off the scene and relativism moving onto the scene, we must be stronger than ever to instill and maintain  “transformation by the renewing of the mind.”
One of the main tools that the Devil uses in our culture (and conservative sub culture) to promote his agenda is technology. Never before has so much information been available so readily. Generally people (and churches) have two responses to the “new things” in culture. One is a rejection/ isolation response with the theme verse being “touch not the unclean thing”(II Corinthians 6:17). The second is an assimilation response which says nothing is really bad in and of itself, so therefore, we should participate in all things using discretion to protect ourselves from the components of evil and temptation that exist in the thing. The theme verse for this approach could be summed up with Romans 14:14 where Paul says, “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself.” In broad generalizations, our Anabaptist circles have generally taken a rejection/ isolation response to the things of culture. The Evangelical/ Protestant circles have taken the assimilation approach to culture, attempting to participate in all levels of culture; and thus, have a “sanctifying effect” on the culture at large.
Much could be said about the pro’s and con’s of each approach to culture, but my concern in this short space is to point out the fact that our Anabaptist circles are shifting approaches. In the past, our conservative circles have approached each “new thing” and either rejected it outright or accepted it with regulation. The automobile was rejected by some and accepted by others with regulation on color. The radio was rejected by some and accepted by others who provided teaching on the dangers and errors that one may encounter when listening. Therefore, listening was to be done intently with good discretion. When the radio became available in the car for the teenager driving off by himself, a new world of possibility opened up as the radio could no longer be monitored by a whole family setting as it was in the house. When the TV came on the scene, it proved in time to have little value and increasing offense for a people who intended to not be conformed to the world and to keep unspotted from the world. It was rejected outright by our people along with most of its counterpart movies which could be played without actually having TV. Now today, we have all these things combined in little packages which are generically called “devices” because they are too numerous to name individually. Now, if we would take our churches in 1970 or even 1980 and put them in “freeze frame” (so that they missed the small steps between then and now) and then bring them back to action today, my guess is that they would have a royal fit about what we have allowed. Part of this royal fit would be warranted because of the increased threat to nonconformity and the increased potential for moral failure, but part of it would be misunderstanding. The misunderstanding would be about the incredible benefits that this technology has brought, all mixed together with the smut and slime and junk that is also available. The misunderstanding would also not account for the fact that many use these devices in victory because of increased openness and accountability among families and church brotherhoods.
This brings us to the point of these ponderings given as a statement and as a question: Since our conservative community has allowed a “use with discretion” response to the technology of the popular culture (where in the past we would have typically rejected it), then what changes must take place in our thought processes, habits, and attitude to safeguard against full assimilation into our popular culture? In other words our community has taken a “non typical” or “out of character” response to the technology that has arisen in the last 15 years. This shift in response calls for a shift in regulation. A rejection response called for external controls like, “Thou shalt not have TV, and if you do you are in violation and need to decide if you are going to comply or leave.” This was simple, straight forward, and very easy to understand. Now, we have shifted to a “use with discretion” model which is neither simple, straightforward, nor easy to understand. No external controls will ever sufficiently regulate this approach, because discretion is not an external thing. This shift in response calls for a shift to internal controls. The new model says for itself what the safeguard has become- discretion. Discretion calls for watchfulness, wisdom, self control, self discipline, and sound individual judgment. This means that our parenting, our preaching, and our teaching should all be harnessed as available methods by which to teach discretion, because we must raise the next generation to be even more discreet, more watchful, and employ more self control and self discipline than even our own generation has exhibited. Is this possible? I hope so; because if it is not, we will be assimilated into the popular culture, conform to the world, and ultimately loose our transformed mind. If it is possible, it will not happen by chance, but by intention. Our communities must recognize that a shift in response requires a shift in regulation, and then must teach toward the skills of openness, honesty, transparency, confession, discretion, wisdom, and personal accountability which are the only commodities that will stand against full assimilation of our communities into popular culture.
-Lyle Musser, administrator

Posted by Kristen on Jan 7th 2015 | Filed in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Culture, Technology, and Our Community