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Vision Forum

Vision Forum Stands in the Gap
Texas-based Ministry Shakes Dust off of Truth

By Deborah Deggs Cariker
EHO staff

In the grand old days of movies, you could always tell the good guys from the bad guys. The good guys wore the white hats; the bad guys, black. The good guys championed truth, justice, and right, and the good guys always, always won in the end. They shook the dust from their boots, mounted their horses, and rode into the sunset, leaving us with the feeling that all was well; we were safe.

Times have changed. Now knowing good from bad takes more discernment, more time sorting through issues, and more effort reading between the lines of what is said to get to what is thought and what is meant. We have to brush the dust from fuzzy logic and "satanic silliness" ourselves, and go back to the truth of the Word of God -- that is, the Holy Bible, looking always for the One Who will come riding the white horse, making everything new again.

Enter this crusade a San Antonio, Texas-based company that comes alongside you, joining you to fight in this crisis. Introducing, The Vision Forum. Originated in fall, 1998, by former Home School Legal Defense Association attorney Doug Phillips, VF was dedicated to producing books and tapes to build up the family. Later, Phillips and his wife, Beall, launched Vision Forum Ministries to continue to help to families. Why "Vision" Forum? Because Phillips says "vision" is crucial.

"The word `vision' has taken on a highly subjective meaning for most people," Phillips commented. "Within the context of Scripture, `vision' often refers to a profound appreciation for the law of God in the life of the believer. When we read `where there is no vision, the people perish,' we are actually learning that without a long-term appreciation of the promises of God applied to the believer, and without the passionate application of the law-word of God to every area of life, the people will perish."

Phillips is serious about his commitment to the crisis at hand. What crisis, you ask? Let Phillips educate you.

"Every age has its defining crisis," he exhorted by computer. "Sin is always at the heart of the crisis. But the manifestation of sin expresses itself differently from age to age. The defining crisis of our age is the systematic annihilation of the Biblical family. The family was the first institution created by God and blessed by Christ during His earthly ministry. It is God's primary vehicle for communicating covenant promises to the next generation. It is the basic agency of dominion on earth. Within the context of the family, the father is the God-ordained vision communicator."

So, how goes the father, goes the family.

"Minimize the father and the family will perish," Phillips warned. "Minimize the family and you have neutralized the church. The sad truth is that broken and weak families are the norm even within the most conservative and doctrinally orthodox assemblies. This is in large part due to the death of Biblical patriarchy with its emphasis on father-directed vision, leadership, and self-sacrifice."

If you want proof, do some research on books about child training and family discipleship.

"Here is what you will find: If the book was written in the eighteenth century, it was directed to fathers. If it was written in the nineteenth century, it was directed to mothers. What happened? The nineteenth century brought many profound social changes which rocked the family and paved the way for the absentee fathers of the twentieth century," Phillips said. "The influence of Unitarianism and early feminism, certain adverse effects of the industrial revolution, and the abandonment of the old Reformation view of the family all contributed to the decline of fatherhood in America. The result, for the first time in the history of the church, was the gradual transfer of spiritual training responsibilities from the father to the mother. Generations later, few Christian fathers even know how to begin the process of shepherding their children and leading their families in the ways of God."

That's where Vision Forum steps in. Besides writing and editing books, Phillips founded the Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy, The Christian Boys' and Men's Titanic Society, The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, The All-American Boy's Adventure Catalog, The Beautiful Girlhood Collection Catalog, and the Vision Forum Book Catalog. He holds the title of Professor of Apologetics with the adjunct faculty of the Institute for Creation. Phillips travels and speaks around the calendar, having appeared on numerous radio and television programs, and at more than 100 home school conferences in 42 states. When Phillips speaks of children honoring their fathers, he's walked it. When he writes about men loving their wives and God-honoring women submitting to their own husbands, he writes from experience. Married and the father of sons Justice, Honor, and Joshua, and daughters Liberty, Jubilee, and Faith Evangeline, Phillips puts his walk where his talk is, and adjusts his life to His vision (note the Capital letter).

Phillips is an exhorter of men, not that his message doesn't inspire women and children, but when you sit with him in a room of men, watching their tears flow and the mantle being shared and passion for family inspired, you know his special calling is to and for men. Homeschooling fathers attending the South East Texas Home School Association's Gulf Coast Home Education Conference in Houston in June, 2003, got Phillip's up-close-and-personal attention directed to their hearts. I sat on the back row with a few other women, holding my breath.

"Culture is religion externalized," Phillips, then 38, told the packed room at Reliant Hall. "Be creative and have a vision for eternity. We have an almost obliteration of fatherhood in this country. Where there is no vision, the family perishes. Jesus said, `Feed my sheep!' True love is shown in sheep-feeding."

To give examples of Godly and ungodly fathers, Phillips told the group that the Pilgrims left Holland because they wanted to save their children from bad socialization. He then pointed out that Lot's own grandsons introduced baby killing to the ancient world. He encouraged the men to engage in father-to-child shepherding, and to walk and talk with their children. He gave them this direction: "There are seven Biblical missions in your Christian home: worship, industry, education, evangelism, hospitality, culture, and care," and aimed them toward multi-generational faithfulness.

That faithfulness is a fulltime, active job.

"Even among our most cherished church leaders it has become the exception to find happy, unbroken homes which radiate the love of Jesus, where the children call the parents blessed, where the mother is a content keeper at home, and where the father practices daily family worship," Phillips wrote. "Like `righteous Lot' who stood in the very gates of Sodom vexing daily, but who did nothing about it (and who lost some of his beloved children to the consuming fire which destroyed the city), many men lament and grieve over the state of affairs, but they lack the vision and the courage to reprioritize their lives such that they can cry out for the hearts of their children, communicate a multigenerational vision of faithfulness, and see their households established on the promises of God. Few men have the passion of Job who rose every morning to cry out to God on behalf of his children (Job 1:5)."

Phillips said it is the mission of The Vision Forum to address this problem.

"Our name - The Vision Forum - points to our desire that the Lord would use this work to be a forum for communicating a vision of victory to Christian families," he said, adding to the goal substance. "Not surprisingly, the scriptural warning against such hypocrisy is specifically given within the context of the family. If we have not taught our wives and daughters to love children and be `keepers at home' then we are `blasphemers' (Tit. 2); if we have not trained our men to be providers, then we are `worse than infidels' (1 Tim. 5)."

As you might have deduced, Phillips refuses to tickle the ears of those who like a more liberal theology. He seeks to infuse others with this same fortitude.

"Equally important is the urgency of communicating a message of courage to fathers and mothers," he began. "The entire world conspires to mock and belittle Biblical manhood and womanhood. Great courage is needed to do things which as recently as a century ago would be considered normative. Today, it is not enough to know what is right; one must be willing to act upon it."

In the Landmarks & Liberty CD set, one of the most striking quotes from Phillips goes hand-in-hand with this idea. He said, "It is far more important that a few people do right than that thousands do wrong." You might need to read that again in order for it to soak deep into your spirit. Phillips was speaking of God's remnant, and the truth of this quote is courage giving in and of itself. Think of Sodom and Gomorrah, which would have been saved for ten righteous people. Now, think of your own personal part in this Remnant.

Phillips also encouraged this writer personally with another quote from his teaching CDs: "Those who dream great dreams, pay great prices." The lecture went on, but this quote grabbed onto some brain cells and would not let go. I thought, "Lord, I no longer dream great dreams." I was rehashing dreams of young womanhood, some before I even knew the Lord; dreams of reporting the "big" story, dreams of changing lives with something I might write. "Now," I told the Lord, "my only dream, the only one I have time for, is the dream of giving to Your kingdom two well-raised children who love Jesus and live like it." You've probably already guessed that the Lord chided me, though ever-so gently, for such a wobbly thought. "That is a great dream, He said to my heart." There was more, but the point is that homeschool mothers and fathers are dreaming great dreams just by virtue of their commitment to educate at home.

Phillips is correct that many fear this choice.

"Most men are gripped by fear. They fear the loss of job security. They fear the unknown. They fear the opinions of others," he said. "This fear prevents many fathers from beginning home education - the educational approach most consistent with both the methodology and goals of education as articulated in Scripture. This fear prevents other fathers from making lifestyle changes that will allow them to spend more time walking beside their children, as God commands. Our vision is to raise a standard which exhorts the beloved in Christ to fear God alone, knowing that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of that which is not seen. Faith is trusting that God's Word is true, even when there is no empirical evidence to back it up."

Vision Forum has so much more to offer. The following is a topical listing of their activities, programs and resources. You can learn more about each of these areas at the Vision Forum website.

The Necessity of Turning the Hearts of Fathers to Their Families
The last verse of Malachi and the New Testament passages heralding the coming of John the Baptist indicate that the turning of the hearts of parents to their children is a sign of great revival. Over the last decade there has been a revived interest in fatherhood, but much of the emphasis has, in fact, been effeminate. Men are concerned about "finding themselves," about their sexuality, about psychological solutions to family problems. In the midst of this “satanic silliness”, The Vision Forum attempts to communicate the clear Biblical message of vision, responsibility, love, sacrifice, and leadership to men - the key components of Biblical patriarchy. Each year The Vision Forum sponsors Father and Son Discipleship retreats in locations as diverse as California, Texas, Illinois, and New York. The goal of each retreat is to encourage fathers to disciple their sons in the spirit of John 5:18. Sons are taught the significance of claiming and living by the promise of the Fifth Commandment. Fathers and sons are encouraged to think generationally and to make the principle of Psalm 78 - a covenantal view of history - central in their relationship.

Books that Inspire, Teach, and Help Families Build Covenant Households
There is only one perfect book - the Bible. Nevertheless, I believe the books offered by The Vision Forum represent some of the most helpful tools on the market today which address critical issues concerning family renewal, child discipleship, and Biblical patriarchy; godly education; Christ-centered apologetics; righteous government; and the providential hand of God in history. These are real books for families of vision. In short, this is the library I recommend to any family hoping to build a Christian worldview for its children.

Every truly great library is a multigenerational library. Books must be able to stand the test of time, demonstrating quality both physically and in terms of content. Vision Forum has tried to offer such products at affordable prices that allow you to build a family library that may someday be enjoyed by your children's children.

Faith and Freedom Tours
Vision Forum also sponsors Faith and Freedom Tours which give participants the opportunity to breathe, smell, taste, and watch stories from our past on a history tour of America's godly and heroic past. The tour visits the plantation homes of George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. Participants stand at St. John's Church where Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty or give me death!" They travel to the seat of colonial government in historic Williamsburg and stand on the site in Jamestown where Pocahontas saved the life of John Smith. They charge across the Yorktown battlefield to redoubt #10, the spot where the Marquis de Lafayette secured victory for the Colonials and walk the battlefields of Stonewall Jackson. Participants join the Phillips family and an ensemble of Christian historians for a one-of-a-kind home school tour.

The Christian Boys' and Men's Titanic Society
The Society is devoted to portraying the story of the Titanic as it really happened. We stand for the proposition that the strong must sacrifice for the weak, that greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for another, and to the enduring legacy of those men who died that women and children might live.

The Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy
The Witherspoon School of Law and Public Policy is a four-day crash course in Biblical principles of law and public policy specifically designed for prospective law students. The goal of the school is to encourage wise decision-making regarding careers in law and public policy, and to equip future leaders with a Biblical framework for understanding the political and legal issues of the day. The Witherspoon School is especially designed for young men who desire to influence our nation for righteousness, and who recognize that to do so, they must communicate an entire world and life view dictated by Holy Scripture.

Vision Forum Internships
Vision Forum sponsors three, four-month internship programs for young men age eighteen or older. During the internships, the young men will gain practical business skills, engage in ministry to the home school community, and study apologetics, logic, systematic theology, creationism, and preparation for marriage and life purpose. Interns stay in a godly Christian home where family worship is emphasized.

As you can see, Vision Forum offers a variety of services to families, unapologetically advocating for biblical manhood and womanhood. Though Phillips' name is on much of the ministry's works, in 2003, his wife, Elizabeth Beall Phillips, compiled and edited a beautiful book of verse entitled, Verse of Virtue. Dedicated to her sons, Beall Phillips' book includes these words in the introduction: "In a world that minimizes motherhood, belittles the blessing of children, and frowns on femininity, it is our duty to fight back with parables of praise and verses of virtue." Further, in praise reminiscent of Proverbs 31, Phillips offers these words about the mother of his six children: "She is the sweetest, kindest, strongest, most faithful taste of Heaven this Texas country has ever produced."

Maybe as the good guys from this ministry ride off into the sunset, they'll leave behind more than a grateful citizenry in a pioneer town. Maybe Vision Forum will leave behind grateful families with an appetite for Truth and the courage to live it. For more information on Vision Forum, visit the website at www.visionforum.com or call them toll free at 800.440.0022.

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