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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Dr. Paul J. Dean

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Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.

Here’s a scary thought: I don’t care if my daughter gets good grades or not. In fact, I don’t care if she learns most of what’s shoveled out in school these days. If you’re raising your eyebrows, please bear with me.

Aside from certain things we need to learn in order to function in this world, most of what we’re taught in school flows from someone’s arbitrary decision as to what’s important. Think of all the knowledge in the history of the world; all the facts one could accumulate; the myriad areas one could explore. All we’re doing is scratching the surface on a lot of useless information and in so doing we’re scratching someone else’s itch, not our own. There are three things I really object to: someone else deciding what’s educationally important for me; the arbitrariness of such decisions; and useless information. 

Now, to say I don’t care if my eleven-year-old daughter learns most of what’s taught in school these days or not doesn’t mean I don’t care if she learns or not. I definitely want her to learn; I just honestly don’t care what the government wants her to learn.

As a related issue it’s also important why I want her to learn: mainly for the glory of God. He has revealed Himself in His world and learning about His world is learning about Him and for the believer it’s also getting to know Him better. Learning is worship. The more we know God the more we adore Him. That’s why my main concern in her learning is not how much she knows or what kind of job she can get; it’s about her knowing God and finding life-sustaining, unquenchable joy in Him.

But what about her grades? I honestly really couldn’t care less. Grades are arbitrary. Is 90 an A or a B? It depends on the institution. Is an A or a B good? It depends on the institution. An A in one place might only be good enough for a C in another. And more importantly, remember, I don’t like arbitrary. And neither should you.

Of course, in one sense a grade might be a reflection of how my daughter compares to someone else. But who cares about that? She is who she is and the goal is not how well she does compared to someone else. The goal is learning, not achieving a certain GPA. The goal is knowing God.

Here’s another thing. It’s a fact that we as a culture have moved away from a commitment to education for the glory of God and the fulfillment of our callings in the world for the advancement of His kingdom. We have shed a biblical worldview when it comes to education. But more than that, it’s a fact that even the world’s emphasis in education has undergone a massive shift. Education is no longer about learning, critical thinking, and becoming the kind of person who can make a positive contribution to society. It’s now about being trained with a particular skill to do a job. Monkey see, monkey do.

Of course, a greater problem now exists: most college graduates are not working in fields related to their degrees. And what do they have to show for it? A mountain of student-loan debt, a low-paying job, and no critical thinking skills to do anything about it. (It’s that monkey thing again).

So no, I’m not being funny here. I absolutely don’t care if my daughter ever darkens the door of an educational institution of any kind. It’s a safe bet she’ll fair far better on her on. And that’s why I’ve bet her life on it.

Check out Dr. Dean’s new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity”. You can also follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

I admit I don’t always think like others which creates problems. I’m a fun person – but – I’m not always fun. So, how can I be – well – not fun today?

I don’t like the whole bucket list thing; I mean I really don’t like it. And it’s not because Niagara Falls was a disappointment, being in Red Square made me homesick, or Trinidad was not what I imagined. It’s not because I’ve already been thrown from a horse; interviewed the President; was a nationally ranked college athlete; jumped motorcycles; hung out with Richard Petty after the Southern 500 and sat in his race car; sailed in the Atlantic; was knocked down by Jack Nicklaus; opened my own business; wrote a book; sat in class for a semester with a former Miss Universe and paid her no mind because I was writing daily letters to someone more beautiful and to whom I’ve now been happily married for almost thirty years; nor is it because I’ve done a thousand other cool things I haven’t time to mention here. I mean, who needs a bucket list with a life like that?

(I should also add I’ve rolled my car twice; spent more time in the hospital than most; held the hands of people as they died; rushed to be with friends in the middle of the night in the midst of their tragedies; struggled to feed my family while looking for work; been betrayed by friends; come to be hated by more people and experienced that hatred at a level I never dreamed possible simply for what I believe; and suffered through countless indignities I won’t bore you with here. Life is a mixed bag).    

Now, it’s true we shouldn’t separate the secular from the sacred and God has given us a million things to enjoy for His glory like screaming across a lake on a Sea-Doo with your eight-year-old son. At the same time, we really are aliens in a foreign land and our citizenship is in Heaven and that’s why taking the gospel to the most miserable places I’d otherwise never visit is so glorious. These two realities are in tension but not at odds. So, if they’re not at odds, what’s my beef with the bucket list?

For one thing, when some people talk about their bucket list it sounds like they think this life is better than the next. Of course, if you’re an unbeliever that’s true. Yet I hear Christians talking this way. Quite often believers wistfully lament never having an opportunity to vacation in an igloo village. But, if you died today you would miss out on nothing better than what God has for you in eternity. That doesn’t mean we should wish to die but it does mean we shouldn’t be so attached to things or experiences.

Think about this too: the bucket list is really rooted in a one-world view. The bucket list doesn’t merely presuppose this life is better than the next, but that this life is all there is. Obviously Christians wouldn’t say such a thing. But, that’s the worldview they can buy into if they’re not careful: a kind of attitude that says YOLO – so Polo; let’s do all we can here because after that, it’s over. But God has in store for us a world redeemed and restored – an ultimate Divine Design. There’s no comparison. I wouldn’t mind bungee jumping from Royal Gorge Bridge, riding a motorcycle down Australia’s Great Ocean Road, or eating at the world’s finest restaurant – but if I never get to do those things or a million others, who cares? I have eternity.

Practically speaking, whether we temporarily have a one-world view or not, the bucket list can lead to dissatisfaction with God’s providence in our lives. Somehow we get the notion we deserve better; we deserve breakfast at Tiffany’s. If we’re focused on what we want out of this life, and if some of what we want is unattainable, we can become discontent. Such a state shouldn’t be taken lightly as God is the one who orders our lives. If we’re discontent, we’re really dissatisfied with Him.   

I guess the main thing that bugs me about the bucket list is that ultimately it says there is greater satisfaction in things than there is in Christ; there’s greater joy in the gifts than in the Giver. But the truth is there’s nothing in this life or even in the next that’s greater than Christ Himself. So the bucket list can truly be a great dishonor to God.

One can certainly have a bucket list with no problem. I recognize I’m not wired with a visceral desire to skydive over Mt. Everest, I have a good life, and I’m really satisfied with Christ. All of that undoubtedly affects my thought process. But I don’t want to let you off the hook if you need to be on the hook. How we think is who we are; it’s how we relate to God; it determines what we do; it’s worship. There’s nothing more important than your thinking (Prov. 23:7).

So you decide. You might have a list of things you desperately want to do before you kick the bucket; that list may be okay – or, it may not. As for me and my house, we’ll just kick the bucket list – and see how God’s plan unfolds. Yes, it’s a mixed bag but God’s been gracious through it all. And, frankly, for the most part, it’s been fun too.

Check out Dr. Dean’s new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity”. You can also follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

So Casablanca ends up being about putting personal feelings aside for the more important effort of fighting for freedom in the war. Ilsa thinks her husband Victor is dead and falls in love with Rick who loves her back. Victor turns up alive and Ilsa leaves Rick when she finds out. As time goes by, she and Rick end up meeting again and she vows never again to leave him. In the last scene, the cynical and sidelined Rick becomes a hero when he joins the fight with this:

Rick: I'm saying it because it's true. Inside of us, we both know you belong with Victor. You're part of his work, the thing that keeps him going. If that plane leaves the ground and you're not with him, you'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

Ilsa: But what about us?

Rick: We'll always have Paris. We didn't have, we, we lost it until you came to Casablanca. We got it back last night.

Ilsa: When I said I would never leave you.

Rick: And you never will. But I've got a job to do, too. Where I'm going, you can't follow. What I've got to do, you can't be any part of. Ilsa, I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that. . . . Now, now . . . here’s looking at you kid.

There are things that are bigger than our feelings or convenience. There’s right and wrong.

And there’s this twenty-five-year-old abortion counselor who got pregnant and filmed the procedure to show women that there can be a positive abortion story. Emily Letts says she’s not ready to have children and should not be made to feel guilty for having an abortion nor should anyone else.

Two things come to mind. First, she certainly takes God out of the equation with her decision but also with the credit she gives herself: “I feel in awe of the fact that I can make a baby. I can make a life.” That said, it’s interesting she sees making a baby as more than a mere biological process; it is a baby and it is a life. Yet, her awe is not enough to keep her from killing her baby. Since she made it, she can kill it. After all, the lord gives and the lord takes away, no matter who she is.

Letts went on to say, “I knew what I was going to do was right, because it was right for me and no one else.” Of course, she didn’t include the man who got her pregnant in the decision to kill her baby. After all, it was right for her and no one else whether her partner or her baby. And now she says “she doesn’t feel like a bad person, sad or guilty.”

Which brings me to the second thing that comes to mind which actually has two parts. The first is that she’s aborted her baby and she'll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of her life. The second is it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday she'll understand that.

It’s too bad people no longer put aside their personal feelings for something more important. And that’s why they end up losing more than they realize – only then – it’s too late.

Check out Dr. Dean’s audio news and worldview commentaries, The Dean’s List as well as his new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity”. You can also follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there but they say it could soon be a man-eat-dog world if we’re not careful. “In a piece that may not sit well with some pet owners, Erik Assadourian argues that pets are detrimental to the planet—and it's time to take action. ‘Two German Shepherds use more resources just for their annual food needs than the average Bangladeshi uses each year in total,’ Assadourian writes in the Guardian. ‘And while pet owners may disagree that Bangladeshis have more right to exist than their precious Schnookums, the truth is that pets serve little more societal purpose than keeping us company’—and our planet just can't keep supporting the millions of cats and dogs that inhabit it.”

The solution? “Assadourian doesn't suggest that we all get rid of our pets . . . He wants to see our animals spayed and neutered (with triple the tax on those that aren't), the marketing of pet products banned, and a limit on the healthcare we provide to our pets. He'd also like to see people turn to pets that serve other purposes, like giving milk, laying eggs, or supplying meat. Otherwise, when climate change sends food prices skyward, people may be forced to dump their pets en masse, Assadourian notes. ‘Perhaps at that point the pet issue will solve itself—as these packs of dogs become a bridge food for the hungry unemployed masses.’”

With dogs and people eating all kinds of things they shouldn’t, it’s too bad most people simply eat what their served, especially drivel like this. All rational people agree that people are more important than pets. At the same time, there is no research indicating the planet can’t support people and pets. People (and pets) go hungry for lots of reasons with faulty worldview and government corruption topping the list. No one is hungry because there is not enough food to go around. With an overwhelming amount of data concerning population, renewable resources, and food production combined with the biblical mandate to be fruitful and multiply, no one should be worried about a lack of food because we have too many mouths to feed.

It’s certainly true that food shortages could occur for lots of reasons including natural disaster or war to name two. And, God’s command to be fruitful and multiply doesn’t apply to pets. At the same time, with current data, there is no reason to be worried about an inability to feed our pets. Most people are smart enough to get rid of their pets one way or the other if they can’t afford them. We had on old dog that had become practically immobile and my wife didn’t know what to do. A friend of ours who drove a pick-up with a gun rack (and gun on the rack) told us if we let him know when we’d be out for a little while, the dog would simply be gone when we got back: no muss no fuss. My wife wanted to know what he meant. “She’ll just disappear,” he said. The point is, it’s not a problem.

What we have here from Assadourian is nothing new: bad information, government solutions, and scare tactics. Let’s all worry about skyrocketing prices, packs of wild dogs roaming our once peaceful neighborhoods, and then having to feed them to our children – all because of man-made climate change. And by all means let’s get the all-wise government involved to force us to spay and neuter our pets and tax those who don’t. Let’s ban the marketing of pet products and put those dirty pet product makers out of business. These are the kinds of wild ideas, unethical tactics, and oppressive solutions on which dystopian futures are built.

Assadourian says we need to change pet culture drastically. Well, with all due respect, it’s not our pet culture that’s giving us all the problems. Here’s the issue: God gave us dominion over the animals. We can use them to help us in our work and we can make them pets for our enjoyment. And yes, we can eat them if we like. And, it’s good to know we have the God-given gift of intelligence to discover and create all kinds of ways to feed ourselves and our animals. It’s good to know as God’s Vice-regents we have the capacity to steward the earth and everything in it better and better over time. And it’s good to know that we do indeed know how to take care of our pets as the need arises, one way or the other. Again, it’s not a problem. 

Check out Dr. Dean’s audio news and worldview commentaries, The Dean’s List as well as his new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity”. You can also follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

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