Benjamin Franklin

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

In this day and time, most millennials and Gen Z probably know Ben Franklin best for his picture on the $100 bill.  What has been lost is that he was a gifted writer, publisher, diplomat, inventor, scientist and even a swimmer.  

He is the only person to have signed all four documents which created the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary war with Great Britain in 1783.  But he was never President.

Even though he only had two years of formal education, he was the publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack from which came the saying:  “Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.”  His writing contributions included contributing to the drafting of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. 

Ben was also a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame which grew out of his swimming in Boston and he even invented wooden paddles which he used to propel himself in the Charles River. 

Another invention came out of his musical talent. He invented a glass armonica which became popular with Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart who created music for it. He even created a phonetic alphabet because he was annoyed by the inconsistencies of English spelling. 

As many other founders, Franklin has been caught up in the Cancel Culture movement to erase historical figures based solely on their connection to slavery. In later life, Ben Franklin staunchly opposed slavery and became an abolitionist. He freed his own slave and demanded that his children free their slaves in order to inherit anything from him in his will.

Not bad for a man who at age 16 set out with only 4 rolls of bread and 25 cents (2 shillings) in his pocket plus the clothes on his back. One wonders how he achieved so much, and the real answer comes from his autobiography:  his father’s influence on his life. We can learn from that. 

The world has changed a lot since the 1700’s in terms of family values.  I have already written about the devastating impact that the lack of fathers has on their children. The statistics are grim. Since 1960, the number of unwed mothers has gone from 5% to 41% in 2015 according to the Center for Disease Control. 

At the same time, children raised in fatherless homes has tripled for white households and doubled for black households during the same time period according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For white families, the number of fatherless households was 18.3% in 2010, and a shocking 48.5% for blacks. That’s almost half.

The question that comes to mind is how Benjamin Franklin’s father influenced him to greatnessand how we can use those principles today? Fortunately, Ben Franklin’s autobiography details three things every father or mentor can do for the next generation.  They are not complicated.

First, Ben’s father helped him with his homework. Ben was a gifted writer and worked at a print shop, and his father, Josiah, “offered constructive criticism to help his son’s writing.”  I resonated with that because my father did the same with me in high school, and I, in turn, have helped each of my children with their writing.

Second, Ben’s father educated him about life and instilled good values in him.   Ben wrote: “I remember well his [father] being frequently visited by leading people, who consulted him for his opinion on the affairs of the town or of the church he belonged to.”  Dinner often included some “sensible friend” to converse with and Ben’s father would select an ingenious topic to discuss.

“By this”, Ben writes, “he turned our attention to what was good, just and prudent in the conduct of life.” 

Third, he helped his son for his future career. Ben had no interest in becoming a candle maker like his father.  His father realized that and made the effort to introduce Ben to different trades that were available. Ben realized he loved tools, and his career ultimately led him to the printing trade.

When I was a young college student trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, my father contacted some of his friends in different occupations and set up meetings for me to talk to them and find out what their careers looked like from the inside. I met an accountant, a stock broker, and an expert in public utilities. 

It opened my eyes to possible careers different from my father and was extremely helpful. I am grateful for his help.

Many in the millennial generation have married and started families. As a father or a mentor, your challenge is to come alongside and help them understand their value as parents and how they can help shape their children’s lives. 

As Ben Franklin notes, you only have to do three things.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You are in a position to help your mentee on at some of the things that helped Ben Franklin to greatness. It is an invaluable investment in their future.

FURTHER READING 11 Fun Facts About Ben Franklin History.com

The Autobiography or Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin – History.com

Why Fathers Matter: 3 Things Ben Franklin’s Father Did to Raise Him to Greatness – Epoch Times

WORSHIP:  This We Know – Vertical Church

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address

The Woke Gospel

 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. Revelation 22:18

Being “woke” is defined as being sensitive to injustice in society, particularly racism.  In America, only the black race matters which is being pushed forward by the Black Lives Matter movement in schoolsgovernmentuniversities, Hollywood, the militarycorporations, and even the study of mathematics.

Much of it is likely to end up in the courts as flouting the clear non-discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schools were designed to teach students how think, not what to think. Another word for this is indoctrination.

Asians and Latinos who have faced discrimination don’t get a seat at the table. It is a one horse race based on Critical Race Theory (CRT) which is historically flawed and a distortion of this country’s beginnings.  

It is a cultural pandemic that is now infecting our Churches. It is the age old question about Christianity – is the Gospel enough to deal with all cultural problems, or does it need a little help by inviting something from the outside to deal with race?

This issue is now a central issue in the Southern Baptist Convention where a measure was adopted stating that CRT and “intersectionality” are useful analytical lenses.  CRT is defined as something that “explain how race has and continues to function in society”.

Intersectionality is “the study how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience”.   Brad Jukovich of the Conservative Baptist Network, said that the SBC resolution is taking a “road that is twisting what God’s Word is saying about things like human sexuality, biblical racial reconciliation and socialistic justice.” I agree. 

In fact, I would go one step farther and state that this drift toward incorporating the “world’s values” is actually false teaching and those that advance it are false leaders.  

At a meeting of the MentorLink roundtable in Kenya several years ago, the international leadership were emphatic in wanting to have a tool to call out false leaders and teachers. The collective result can be found here

At every step along its path, the Christian church has balanced the sanctity of the Gospel with current world views which can easily creep in.  In the second century, for example, something grew called The Third Way.

The Third Way was a movement to recenter Christianity which had gone in two opposite directions at the time. One stream bought into, openly embraced and reflected culture. In other words, it looked like the it was “of the world” not just “in the world”.

The other stream went in the opposite direction into a classically separatist movement which put Christians in isolation from the world. Its isolation made it largely irrelevant to the surrounding culture.

The Third Way permitted Christians to engage the culture without compromise yet remain distinct without being isolated and irrelevant. At the center of the movement was the identity of Jesus and becoming a disciple by following Him. 

I am the first to admit that race has been, and probably always will be, a very difficult and complex issue for Christians. It is a personal one to my black brothers and sisters, which makes it personal to me.  I don’t see people as black or white. I see them for their character and potential. 

One of the big issues with CRT is that it eliminates any chance at redemption or forgiveness. You are judged on what a group did centuries before, and therefore you, as an individual, cannot be redeemed and there is no atonement.

Our God is a God of second chances, and he judges us individually, not as a group. Even King David was redeemed despite the fact that he had Uriah murdered to gain access to Bathsheba.  

On the last day when you stand before Christ at the judgment seat, He won’t be asking questions about your racial group. He will be asking what you did (or did not do) with your life, your talents and your gifts for the Kingdom.

The move by some to incorporate CRT into the Church is actually a move to say that it is the Bible plus something else which needs to solve racial problems.  I would only note that John, in the concluding paragraphs of Revelation, gave a stern warning that this is bad idea with dire consequences.

The challenge is that this pervasive philosophy and ideology which has Marxist beginnings is coming at the next generation from many directions, and now some churches are joining in that message.  Jesus, not the world’s values, is our Cornerstone.

MENTOR TAKEAWAYYour mentee may have had some level of exposure to CRT. You should educate yourself on the biblical worldview to be able to counter it.

FURTHER READING:  Conservative Baptist Network Launched Amid “Woke” Trend in SBC– Christian Post

John Piper Explains Why He Believes CRT is a Problem for Christians – Black Christian News

A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory – Tim Keller        

Subversive Education – City Journal                

For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address

Equity

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. Genesis 3:19

Equity has such a nice feel to it. It has the connotation of fairness and is a bedrock principle of American law.  Courts in equity always attempted to come to a fair and equitable result.  But the word has now been hi-jacked into something entirely different. The change in meaning is intentional to disguise an agenda. It is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

So, let’s start with the classical dictionary definition of equity which is: “Justice according to natural law or right; specifically, freedom from bias or favoritism.”  That is not a new definition.

But now, we have a new racially tinged definition where progressives have taken a word and changed its definition to suit their purpose, which is intentionally confusing. The new definition is now something else entirely. “Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full and healthy lives.” 

Note the operative verb “give”, not “earn” or help someone to advance using their own self-effort. It is not a “hand up” to help those who are disadvantaged to improve their life circumstances. It is a pure handout and viewed as an entitlement. 

Recently, President Biden issued an Executive Order which orders the Federal Government to Advance Racial Equity.  It starts out with the phrase “equal opportunity” but that’s not where it ends up. 

I have previously written about the Marxist threat to our culture and our country. One of the techniques that this movement uses is to take words of common meaning and change the meaning so that the casual observer thinks that what they are doing sounds good. Equity and Social Justice are two examples. 

Equity is different from equality which is “equal treatment under the law”. As Charles Lipson writes: “It’s the difference between equal treatment and equal outcomes. Equality means equal treatment, unbiased competition and impartially judged outcomes.” 

He continues: “Equity means equal outcomes, achieved, if necessary, by unequal treatment, biased competition and preferential judging.”  This is diametrically opposed to our founding principles that all people should be treated equally and judged as individuals, not as members of groups. 

The words from our Constitution that “all men are created equal” are not a myth. 

The push for equity also contradicts centuries of Anglo-Saxon law and the Enlightenment principle of equal treatment for people of different social class and religion. As Lipson notes, the claims for unequal treatment are carefully hidden in “word salads” praising equity and social justice.

This move to racial equity is also unbiblical. God’s economic system is based on a work ethic. It is a principle, and like most biblical principles, if violated, has unintended consequences. In my 45 year law career, I observed the sad results of the unintended consequences of wealthy parents leaving their children so well off that they didn’t have to work.

Invariably, second and third generations do not lead productive lives if they haven’t earned it. One very wealthy client went to an estate planning seminar and asked the presenter how many children in the second or third generation who have been inherited wealth actually lead successful and productive lives. 

My client was prepared for an answer of a small percentage. Instead, the presenter said that in his entire 30 year career, no child was successful. Not one.  That answer changed his idea of leaving his children and grandchildren a lot of money.

The reason?  The next generation didn’t learn to work, resulting in a life that no one would admire. This same conclusion was confirmed to me by a lawyer who worked in one of the largest Trust companies in the U.S. whose responsibilities involved doling out trust money to children of wealthy people. He said that large inheritances, instead of helping children and grandchildren, usually did the opposite.

The point is that wealth does not assure success. On the other end of the spectrum, equity will not produce what those who advance it as a policy.  It is based on Critical Race Theory which is flawed historically and biblically. 

The move to equity is a claim that “the unfair treatment of previous generations or perhaps a disadvantaged childhood entitles one to special consideration today as an adult”.  In other words, treating people differently based on their race “could be based on a history of discrimination that has existed for a long time.” 

That last quote comes from Marcia Fudge during her testimony before the Senate so she can be confirmed as Secretary of HUD

In order to achieve the goal of equal outcomes, one might ask how and when are the outcomes to be fair enough? The goal posts can be easily moved. Equity is really a new name for “the oldest program of achieving equal outcomes”. It’s called Socialism. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Ironically, I believe that many of means and programs to create “equity” will violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Act was intended to eliminate racial discrimination to blacks, but it cuts both ways. A lot of this will end up in the courts. 

The challenge here is that we are facing a progressive push for equal outcomes, not equal opportunity. We need to be wary and push back when we can. The push for equity is not just at the federal level, but in our school systems and Universities. The next generation is in favor of socialism and equity without realizing what they are asking for. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   Racism is a tough issue to deal with, and it is very complex. Your mentee may not be aware of the universal failure of socialism as an economic system, so the term “equity” might sound like a good approach. 

FURTHER READING:  ‘Equity’ Is a Mandate to Discriminate – WSJ

The Feds “Racial Equity” Dilemma – WSJ

How Equality Lost to ‘Equity’ – WSJ

Why Socialism Always Fails – AEI

WORSHIP:  Your Grace Is Enough – Tomlin

For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address

Curve Ball

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kind. James 1:2

For those who aren’t familiar with the term “curve ball”, it is a pitch in baseball which curves to the right or left and is intended to confuse batters. It often works, and there have been great hitters in major league baseball over the years who were never able to hit the curve ball successfully.

It also is an expression I use as to events of life.  Just when you expect something, God throws you a curve ball and you have to react to something unexpected.  This past week is an example of a COVID curve ball to our family.

My youngest son took his family skiing out in Montana. On one of the last runs down the mountain, his wife, Lanie, fell and broke a bone in her foot. They returned to their home in Washington, DC where she went to an orthopedic doctor who took X-rays.

The doctor confirmed that she had a broken bone in her foot which needed surgery. Just putting the foot in a cast would not fix the problem.  That was Monday and surgery was scheduled for Friday.  

As part of the protocols for the surgery, the hospital required the family (Richard and three children) to be tested for COVID. 

Early on Wednesday morning I texted my son, Richard to check on things. He replied that they were getting an MRI of the ankle at that moment, and Lanie’s parents were coming to help in her recovery.  Everything lined up and looked in place. So far, so good.

When I returned to our home around 10 am, my wife was on the phone with Richard and put him on speaker phone

Lanie and their children’s tests came back negative, but Richard’s test came back positive. This was a real curve ball. If Richard was positive, he would have to quarantine himself for up to 14 days. He couldn’t help his wife who was in pain and needed surgery and she couldn’t help him. And neither of them could help their three kids. 

Richard said: “Mom, my head is spinning.  I don’t even know where to start to deal with this.”  That statement comes from a person who has an abundance of common sense and is quick to solve problems. Not this time.

Lanie’s parents had not been vaccinated yet. That meant Lanie’s parents couldn’t come, but we could because we had been vaccinated. After a small discussion, we decided that Sis (my wife) would fly to Washington to help out.  I put her on a plane in the early afternoon. Sis needed to be in DC and that was paramount.  You drop everything for someone in need if you can.

In the middle of all of that chaos, I reached out to close friends to start praying for our situation. Until you have had COVID invade your life, you don’t realize how quickly the world can turn upside down. 

I now appreciate how disruptive a positive test can be. For example, Sis couldn’t fly home because one of the questions they ask at the airport before you board a plan is “Have you been in contact with anyone who has COVID?”  If the answer is “yes”, you don’t fly.

In hindsight,  we were grateful that we had gotten our vaccinations early. We had planned to go skiing with my daughter the following week. That went out the window.  

I called the airlines to change our ski trip flights with hat in hand to see what could be done. When the representative came on, she asked how she could help.  I said: “I have a COVID problem.”  She laughed and said: “We get a lot of those”. Tickets got cancelled and changed and we collectively decided that I should stay on the ski trip with my family. .

On Wednesday night, I got a chance to talk to Sis and said: “I’ll bet they are glad you came.”  She said Lanie cried when she arrived, which actually made me tear up.  That’s a picture of gratitude 

Several people suggested Richard get a retested for COVID, because there is a 30% chance that his test was a “false” positive. He got retested as soon as he could but quarantined himself in their house in the interim. 

The next morning, he got the test results which were negative.  Just to be sure, he took a third test which came back negative on Friday morning.  Things were looking up.  Lanie’s surgery went fine, but she must stay off her leg for 12 weeks, so she will need some help for a while.  

Not all stories turn out as well as ours (except for Lanie’s broken foot), but it’s an important lesson on dealing with a curve ball in life. It is also a lesson on how we can help another in need when they cannot do it themselves. Having friends and family to rally around you is important.

In this day and time, the next generation have had a lot of curve balls thrown at them.  Lockdowns and COVID protocols have limited normal interaction with their friends. They feel isolated and lonely.

We need to rally around them and let them know that they aren’t facing life alone. Family and friends are a key to solving the curve balls of life, even if they just pray for you.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: When your mentee gets a curve ball in life, you can come beside him and help him (or her) make good decisions.  We need one another.

WORSHIP:  More Than a Hallelujah – Amy Grant

For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address