Standing Boldly and Compassionately
About the Guest
Standing up for a cause demands courage, especially when it's unpopular. David Platt, president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, calls listeners to stand boldly on the word of God, yet remain compassionate towards those who are lost and hurting. Platt also gives some practical tips for equipping children to think about and practically love those in our culture.
Standing up for a cause demands courage, especially when it’s unpopular. David Platt, calls listeners to stand boldly on the word of God, yet remain compassionate towards those who are lost and hurting.
Standing Boldly and Compassionately
Bob: As a dad, David Platt knows that his children are being bombarded with messages from the culture that go against what Scripture teaches. How does he address that, as a father, with his children? He says he does it by taking his kids back to God’s Word over and over again.
David: “Here’s the truth of God’s Word. Here’s what God’s Word says about marriage. Here’s what God’s Word says about men. Here’s what God’s Word says about women.” I mean, I’m trying to pepper those kind of teachings in a Deuteronomy 6 kind of way—just talking about them on the streets, as we’re walking up and down / as we’re riding in the car—just to look for those teachable opportunities—but to do that to give that kind of truth, with a compassion for people who believe different things.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 18th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. How do you we equip our children to live counter-culturally?
We’ll talk about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, there are going to be some listeners who hear that we’re talking about Counter Culture—the book that David Platt has written, addressing issues like poverty, and same-sex marriage, and abortion, and orphans, and pornography—and they’re going to go, “Oh, you’re talking about politics this week,” because their perception is those are political issues.
Dennis: We’re talking about reality. Reality is where the truth of God’s Word and the gospel collide with human need. David has tackled some of the thornier—probably the thorniest—issues of our day in his book, A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture. David—welcome back to the broadcast.
David: It’s great to be here.
Dennis: Thrilled you’re here. I just appreciate your writing the book, Radical—your leadership on the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. You don’t know this; but I came to faith, as a young lad, in a Southern Baptist church at what was then called “BTU”—“Baptist Training Union.”
David: Yes; I’ve heard about it with you.
Dennis: Yes; yes. I owe a lot of my spiritual upbringing, not just merely to my mom and dad, but also to the faithfulness of the Baptist church to share the gospel.
Bob: I thought that was air-conditioner. Don’t—
Dennis: BTU’s—BTU’s? Actually, heating units are BTU’s. [Laughter]
David, I want to begin the broadcast with kind of a different twist. You’re tackling issues, like Bob said—same-sex marriage, racism, sex slavery, persecution, abortion, pornography—that demand courage.
I mean, these are going to call people out—“It’s going to take a chest,” as C.S. Lewis said.
I have a favorite question I like to ask men and women. It’s this: “What’s the most courageous thing you, David Platt, have ever done in all your life?” While you’re thinking, I’ll just, for our listening audience, remind them that “Courage is doing your duty in the face of fear.” It doesn’t mean you don’t have fear or didn’t experience fear. It just means that you faced fear down and you did something. It doesn’t have to be on a battlefield in a foreign country. It can be—well, I’m not going to tip David off because I’m afraid I might somehow tempt him to take an easy route here; but his eyes are still going back and forth / darting right now. I can tell he’s thinking. What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done?
David: Things that come to my mind—a couple of them—one most recently. When I’ve made a move—the first one—moving into pasturing a church eight years ago—not having pastored before and stepping into a large church with a lot of unknowns—and my wife and I looking at each other, just saying: “I don’t think we can do this,” and “What would it take to do this? It certainly seems like I need more experience,” or “…this or that.” There was a lot of fear that was there. Similarly, stepping into the role that I’m in right now—to lead this large mission organization, with a lot of challenges that go along with that—we were confronted with a variety of fears about how to do that.
I remember, when we were talking with our kids about making this move—and we sat them down and said, “Well, Daddy is praying about the possibility of becoming President of the International Mission Board.” My seven-year-old son looked at me and he said: “President, Daddy? That sounds like a big job. Are you sure you can handle that?” [Laughter] I said, “Buddy, that’s a great question.”
So, stepping into these roles. It really wasn’t just my wife and I stepping out of what we knew to go into the unknown in a situation where, if God doesn’t come through, I know I’m going to fall flat on my face / that I’m way in over my head—but I think God has designed it that way. Joshua 1 has been a thematic chapter for me over the last six months: “Be strong and courageous! ...the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” “Don’t let His word depart from your mouth…meditate on it day and night…and the Lord your God will give you the courage you need.” That’s what comes to my mind—not just for me—but for my wife and me stepping into the unknown and doing something that we know we can’t do, apart from supernatural intervention.
Dennis: There are listeners, who would take a look at your book and these topics, and they would say: “You know, the subject of same-sex marriage is just so thorny / it’s just so repulsive in our culture. I’m going to be more silent about this and not engage.”
Bob: There are people who, for lack of courage—back to Dennis’s question—I was thinking about writing this book being a courageous step for you because you are saying, “Here’s what the Lord says…” Some people are going to—they’re done with you because of the positions you’re taking here.
David: Here’s why—this is really interesting—I’m just processing through this. Here’s why I didn’t think of writing this book as courageous—because there’s so much known—God has spoken so clearly on these things. I know God’s Word is clear about marriage / I know God’s Word is just as clear about loving and caring for people who maybe even disagree with me about marriage and the culture. So, to write a book to try to express that doesn’t feel courageous. That’s where I want to encourage people—and followers of Christ, specifically—through this counter-culture book—is to say, “We can stand boldly and compassionately on the Word of God and know that there will be costs to us in the culture around us.”
Sure, I don’t think this is going to increase my popularity in certain circles; but we can stand boldly and compassionately on that truth and know that we’re on the most firm ground there is in the world, even when it could be costly in different ways in the culture around us. Standing on the known really—that’s where I want to encourage folks to see the Word of God and the call of God in our culture and to boldly/compassionately stand on the Word.
Dennis: You’ve now said that three times—you’ve said “boldly and compassionately.” What does that look like for a mom and a dad raising a family today?—to stand boldly and compassionately for marriage in today’s culture?
David: I mean, to start—first and foremost—for mom and dad to say, “How can we go against the grain of the culture around us and make sure we love one another in a way that reflects the gospel / in a way that reflects God’s design?”
So, for a husband to resist that temptation to give in to these secular pictures of masculinity—that miss the point of the gospel—and to say: “No, my responsibility is to love my wife—to lay my life down for her / to serve her in a way that reflects Christ’s sacrificial service on the cross. This is my example for how I am to love my wife,” and to do that. And then for a wife to say, “I’m going to follow my husband’s loving leadership in a way that shows that it’s good for the church to follow Christ.”
I mean, that goes against the grain of what we hear when it comes to womanhood today—so to go against the grain of that—to do that boldly and to show, then, children what that looks like / for kids to see that kind of picture as opposed to what they see in entertainment and everything else around them—to see this gospel light shining from the way their mom and dad are loving each other. That sounds, to so many people today, old-fashioned, or antiquated, or outdated; but it’s—well, it is old-fashioned, because God designed it this way, from the very beginning.
So, there’s no more sure / better way to raise kids.
Dennis: And I’m so glad you started—I watched Bob—he was nodding too. I’m so glad you started with a mom and dad in their marriage first. You didn’t begin with the solution to train your kids in how to react and respond in the culture or how, as a family, you’re going to handle this. You started with the marriage, and husbands need to know how to be men—how to lead, how to sacrificially lay down their lives, and nourish and cherish their wives—and how the wives can fulfill their God-ordained assignment, which has nobility and dignity; but the culture is robbing them of this.
Bob: Well, really—you peel back, even before husbands and wives—we have to acknowledge gender is created by God—as far as I was able to tell—only two. That’s where it all begins—is embracing the fact that God created us.
Somebody shared this the other day—I’d never realized this—but they said: “In the Book of Genesis, as God creates—there’s light and darkness, there is water and dry land, there are birds and there are fish.” There’s always this kind of two different things, and what’s always unique is that they’re different. Then, we get to: “He created them male and female,” and those who would want to say, “Now, what we should focus on is sameness there,”—lose the whole narrative of Genesis 1, where it’s all been about the difference in these created things—
David: Yes. That’s right.
Bob: —in the Scriptures. So—
Bob: I’m sorry—you got to hear my soapbox.
Dennis: We’re all battling for the soapbox here.
I want to go back, though to “bold” and “compassionate.” Your children, David, are going to be raised in a different culture than Bob and I have raised our children. They are going to have a face for homosexuality / a face for trans-gender—
—they’re going to have buddies and friends at school, who they know. They’re going to be tempted to think with their hearts and not from the Word of God in their heads.
Speak to a family, who’s hammering this out, right now—they have some teenagers or children about to be teenagers—and they’re wondering, “How do I equip my children to know how to think and how to love in this culture?”
David: This so huge—we know this—but it has to be intentional / proactive. This is not going to happen accidentally in children’s lives. For Heather and I, we want to be intentional about reinforcing all that God’s Word says—through our family worship time / through our teachable moments that we have with each of our kids, individually, to say: “Here’s the truth of God’s Word. Here’s what God’s Word says about marriage. Here’s what God’s Word says about men. Here’s what God’s Word says about women.”
I mean, I’m trying to pepper those kinds of teachings in a Deuteronomy 6 kind of way—just talking about them on the streets, as we’re walking up and down / as we’re riding in the car—just to look for those teachable opportunities—but to give that kind of truth with a compassion for people, who believe different things.
They’re going to have friends, who come from this kind of family—where homosexuality is not just accepted but celebrated—so: “Okay, I want to show them, even in my relationship to those parents, ‘How can I stand on the truth of Christ and not in any way compromise that but show the compassion of Christ, in relationship with them, in a way that they can do the same thing with people around us who believe differently from us?’”
I think about even members of my extended family, who have embraced homosexuality in their lives—my kids are seeing this. I want them to see that Mom and Dad haven’t wavered at all on what the Bible says about this / what God, in His Word, has said—but they clear—Mom and Dad clearly love that family member in a way that reflects the character of Christ as well.
Bob: David, each of the issues you address in this book has overlap with public policy—bills before Congress on all of these issues. We have seen how easily the Christian community has become a voting bloc—has been co-opted into politics because we are passionate about these issues. Folks come along and say, “Well, I’ll sponsor a bill if you’ll sponsor me.”
How do we engage, prophetically, on this without becoming political pawns? How do—and I’m not saying we don’t get engaged in politics because I don’t think that’s the answer; but we have to be careful here; don’t we?
David: I do think we have to be careful. I think the primary place we need to look is personally: “Where has God put us / the sphere of influence He’s given us?” Okay, in this country, He’s given us opportunities to vote. So, how can we vote according to God’s Word / according to the gospel? I think it’s wise for us to think through an issue—like abortion—or other issues and just realize moral or political neutrality, on issues where God’s Word is so clear, is really not an option for us.
This is going to affect the way I use that responsibility. I am so thankful that our hope is not in this or that politician, or this or that bill, or this or that government even—that our ultimate hope is in God—we know where all of this is headed in the end. We’re citizens here, but we’re temporary citizens here. We have a responsibility, as citizens here; but we realize our ultimate citizenship is in another country, and we’re longing for that country.
Dennis: You know, as we’re talking about what’s happening here—because we’re so connected by our phones and media—we know what’s happening around the world. It’s clear that the church is being persecuted. There are those, who are followers of Jesus Christ today, who are being exterminated for their faith. What would you coach a mom and a dad—or for that matter, men and women who watch this—what are they supposed to think or do, as a result of seeing these images and hearing these stories on TV or their computer?
David: I’m so glad you asked because this is one of the issues I’m most passionate about because 1 Corinthians 12 talks about, when one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers. We do have brothers and sisters in Christ around the world, who are suffering and dying for the gospel.
One way we have to come alongside them and suffer with them is just by praying for them. I would encourage a mom or a dad—something that we do with our kids is to, in an age-appropriate way, share stories of suffering and persecution in the world so they know that it’s not easy to be a follower of Christ in this world. We have brothers and sisters in Christ we want to be praying for—so we’re praying for them.
There are ways in different ministries to actually be a part of giving to them and writing to them. I mean, there are kids whose parents have been put in prison for the gospel. For our children—to have opportunities to write other children and encourage them—
—I mean, there are some really practical things like that. Also, to realize—this is something we try to do with our kids: “Hey guys! It’s really costly for some people around the world to share the gospel. Thankfully, we’re able to share the gospel where we live.” As we talk about the persecuted church, I think one of the ways we can best serve and support the persecuted church is by taking an advantage of the freedom that we do have to share the gospel. If we are not sharing the gospel here—and they’re dying to share the gospel over there—then there’s a major disconnect.
David: I want to encourage my kids to maximize the opportunities we have to share, right here, as they hear news about this happening to Christians in this part of West Africa or in the Middle East.
Dennis: This is about Jesus commanding us to go. The nature of the family in America tends to be—I think, even within the Christian community—a little self-absorbed / maybe not just a little either, by the way. We need to be thinking about other people in other countries.
We didn’t do this great, as we were raising our kids; but we actually spent the better part of two years reading through a devotional, before school, that was a quick—I don’t know, maybe a three- to five-minute story of people, who were missionaries in other eras to other countries—helping our kids get pictures and images of what it looked like to be heroic for the gospel. In sharing those stories, we heard about persecution / we read about people giving their lives. That’s not happening in America; but it is happening, right now, overseas.
David: It is. We do a very similar thing, just by exposing them to biographies and that sort of thing. Part of the reason we do that is because we want to show them good models of what it means to suffer for Christ. I know this is a point where some people may start to tune me out—but if you just hang with me for a second—we want to raise our kids up so that they’re willing to go to West Africa or the Middle East, with the gospel, at great cost.
As a pastor, what I was intentional about doing was trying to encourage our families to raise their kids to spend their lives for spread of the gospel around the world. That may seem extreme to people—that may seem like, “Well, now, you’re really talking radical Christianity.” This is not radical Christianity—this is basic Christianity. Jesus said: “You’re following Me. You’re going to be like a sheep among wolves. You’re going to go and find yourself in difficult, dangerous places, by My design; but you’re going to be there for the spread of the gospel and for My glory,” and it’s worth it. I want my kids to believe that there’s no better way to spend their lives than making the gospel known—right where they live or around the world—even in hard places.
We’ll talk—we’ll just kind of dream, every once in a while: “Hey, what if God leads you to this country?” “What if God leads you to that country?—where there’s suffering right now?” and to realize: “Just because we’re born in the United States doesn’t mean we have to pass on suffering for the spread of the gospel. One of the ways we serve our persecuted brothers and sisters is actually by going alongside them.”
Dennis: I want to highlight two things you said—number one: You’re training your kids to think about how they’re going to suffer. I don’t think it’s a matter of if—I think it’s a matter of how because I think the coming generation will suffer for being followers of Christ at a whole different level than we currently suffer in this country. But the second thing is—and this, I want the moms and dads and grandparents to really listen up— and even singles, at this point—the family is a Great Commission training center.
Dennis: It needs to be training the next generation of warriors—whether they are businessmen and women or whether they go to a foreign country—it doesn’t matter. They need to be on task/on assignment—doing what God has called them and designed them to do, as individuals.
Bob: You feel kind of passionately about that. [Laughter]
Dennis: Well you know, I think that’s part of how we’ve lost, Bob.
I think we’ve lost the dignity that God embedded in the family—that it wasn’t just set here to be a happy family—it was to be on assignment/on task; you know? If necessary, suffer as you’re obedient to Christ.
Bob: I think we need to keep in mind that taking the gospel to others is not simply taking the message about forgiveness of sin; but it is taking a gospel-saturated worldview, which is what you’ve outlined, David. In your book, Counter Culture, you give us a way to think with a gospel worldview on the issues that we’re facing in our culture today.
We have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Our listeners can order a book by going to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” Look for David Platt’s book, Counter Culture; or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329.
That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, you think about these issues we’ve talked about—this is a time for us, as Christians, to be more purposeful and more intentional when it comes to praying. We need to continue to seek God for wisdom, and for favor, and for blessing as we address the issues that we face in our culture. We have said, for years, that husbands and wives ought to cultivate a habit of praying together, regularly, as a couple, because that marital discipline will provide you with a common foundation for your marriage and for your family.
During the month of September, we are hoping that we will see tens of thousands of FamilyLife Today listeners joining us in a 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge.
We’re going to make it as simple as possible—when you sign up, we will send you a prayer prompt each day. It’ll give you a topic to pray about—give you some coaching and then some prayer ideas for husbands and for wives so that the two of you can take a few minutes each day and pray together, as husband and wife. You may have tried before to develop the habit of praying together, as a couple, and it just hasn’t worked out for you. How about if you sign up for this 30-day prayer challenge and see if the prompts don’t help you begin praying together every day, as a couple.
Again, you can sign up by going to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for the 30-day Oneness Prayer Challenge from FamilyLife Today. Sign up, and we’ll send you those prayer prompts every day during the month of September. Join with us—pray with us that we will see thousands of couples / tens of thousands of couples take the challenge and join us for the 30-day oneness prayer experience.
While you’re on our website, at FamilyLifeToday.com, would you consider making a yearend contribution to FamilyLife Today? I know that the calendar is not about to turn to a new year; but at FamilyLife, we’re facing the end of our fiscal year. We’re hoping to wrap up in the next couple of weeks with a little flurry / a little surge of support from our listeners so that we can end the year in a healthy place, financially.
If you can help us with a donation, here at the end of our fiscal year, we’d like to send you a tool to help you pray together. It’s Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Two Hearts Praying as One. It’s our thank-you gift when you make a donation today. You can do that by going to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen that says, “I CARE,”—make an online donation; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone.
You can also mail your donation to us at FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to talk more with David Platt about some of the issues facing us in the culture today. This time, the issue’s related to sexual morality and how that gets lived out in our lives, as Christians. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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