Saturday, September 20, 2014

Being Christian

Don't leave a comment if you just skimmed. 

"I assumed this was a Christian group..."

"(Fill in the blank) is worldly."

[What a person defines as worldly changes from generation to generation and culture to culture around the country and world. It is subjective to the speaker (or writer). The speaker is drawing a line and passing judgment and teaching others to pass judgment on the subjective fill-in-the-blank.]

What these, and similar words, say is that if a person doesn't subscribe to a certain version of Christianity then that person is not truly a Christian. Or that the person saying these things is more enlightened, more mature, more right, more whatever.

Quite simply, these are judgment statements comparing self to others with the intent that the speaker is a better person in the light of the speaker's eyes. It promotes the speaker (or writer) and devalues the receiving person. It is not love.

Let's define what Christian is with just a few verses, there are many similar verses for you to seek out for yourself.

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

It can certainly be argued that it is only God's place to judge whether a person is Christian or not. However, if you really want to know who is Christian and is who is not then let the following be your guide:

1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Matthew 22:36-40 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

And finally, go read what Jesus taught.

Theology can be argued forever and ever. I'm not as smart as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and the rest. I don't believe I need to be a super-intelligent theologian in order to believe that Jesus is the son of God and died for my sins.

We aren't here
  • to follow man-made rules (please go check your personal rule book and see if it lines up with Jesus) 
  • to judge each other on certain things that we elevate higher than the teachings of Jesus 
  • to lay burdens on people with our interpretations of what to not do
  • to teach our children the "do nots" and an attitude of judgment towards others
  • to be law-followers instead of Jesus-followers (after all, why did Jesus come?)

Why are here?
  • Love God
  • Love others
And that happens through relationship.
  • how you talk to Jesus and others
  • how you behave towards Jesus and others
  • how you deal with Jesus and others

What is grace?
Very simply put, grace is a gift you do not deserve.

How are we to be graceful in our relationships?

It's all about grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

We're all in this together, being shaped and conformed into His image. Let's all work on being more graceful with each other. Let's listen, think, and examine before we pass judgment and start talking and writing responses. There are many who have gone before us in the journey and there is value in what they share. There are reasons why people used to do or think _______ but now...   on myriad things.
Listen hard. 
Think hard.
Love God.
Love others.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grace Attracts

I read a little bit at a time here and there. Five books at a time. And I have books not started waiting for me to read. And books saved in my Amazon shopping cart...

I just wanted to share this little part of what Christine Field wrote in the Forward of The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling. I thought it was relevant to the reflections that are happening in the homeschool culture.

..."Grace attracts; judgement repels." In this single moment, the Lord showed me the source of so much of my difficulty in parenting and homeschooling. I was determined to judge everyone and everything and pronounce them as "good" or "bad". This outlook squelched the joy out of everything. The way of wisdom is to approach people and circumstances the way Jesus did--with love and grace. If I wanted my children's hearts, I needed to draw them to me and to the heart of Jesus, just as He demonstrated so many times throughout scripture. This filled the gap between the words of the Bible and my heart. Now it all made sense. Everything changed for me.

Can you relate? I can look back in the last 23 years of parenting and see times when I would default to that because it seems easier to enforce dos and don'ts or to think in terms of bad and good rather than having to use my heart and head to discern gray areas. When we want to protect our children from our fears for them and take that to an extreme of spoken or unspoken "good" and "bad" we miss the mark. We become like Pharisees and train them to either be like Pharisees themselves or to reject everything in a response to our hypocritical spirit.

This reminds me of something else I read recently. Jesus was with the people. Being with them, talking with them, teaching them. It was the Pharisees that were critical of people and of Jesus being with sinners. What did Jesus teach? Love. What did He do? Love the people.

The Great Commandment 
Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Loving God and loving others is the heart of everything. If we want to live by a do and don't system then we may as well be Muslim or Mormon or any other merit based religion. Jesus is our righteousness. We can't do it on our own. We can't make our children be righteous. We can't make them do anything in their heart of hearts.

We can damage them with our actions and attitudes.

We can damage them with our words and the tone we use.

We can damage them by not being perceptive of who they are as an individual with unique interests and gifts.

We can damage them by not listening to them and being sensitive to their individual needs.

We can teach them about God the Father who loves His people.

We can teach them about Jesus and emulate Jesus.

We can relate to them as Jesus relates to all of us and not how the Pharisees related to people.

We can demonstrate our walk in the Spirit and talk about how He works in our lives.

We can teach them about the Holy Spirit and how to be sensitive to His leading.

We can show them through our actions how to love God and love others.

We can demonstrate to them how to be people of grace.

Christ Has Set Us Free 
Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Keep in Step with the Spirit

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Walk in Love
Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Children are pretty good teachers and through the years they have taught me that grace is more powerful than anything. Listening instead of speaking. Doing alongside rather than a thing alone. Talk and discuss rather than tell. Examine opinions and issues together for truth. Answer the why--"because I said so" doesn't carry a lot of weight. Having a relationship means that a child will listen and not dismiss.

This goes for even the littlest of children. I read recently that a child who consistently "hears" (spoken to the child or the sense) that their opinion doesn't matter or that they must always give in to the will of those more powerful (anybody big) develops a feeling of being invisible. Even to the point of experiencing "dreams or waking sensations of shrinking or literally diminishing in size". They develop a blurred identity not knowing who they are or what they stand for, not knowing where they begin and end with the person in control. Others (parents or other authorities) project who they need or want the child to be onto the child's identity. This sets the child up for a lifetime of a diminished sense of self and being manipulated by others unless they can break free. I recommend reading Who's Pulling Your Strings by Harriet B Braiker simply for understanding the impacts of relationships and how we function in them.

What kind of opinion does a little child express? Stop and listen to little children. Learn who they are as a unique individual. Are you doing more with your child than feed, water, sleep? When they express "no" give thought to why they are saying it. Are you controlling little children as an expression of your own need for power or control or out of fear or in a reaction to your own history? These thoughts cause us to examine our motives. For their health we need to allow them to become their own person with unique interests, gifts, strengths, and needs. Can they safely say "no" or express and opinion and be listened to? Force is not grace. There is a balance that must be maintained between teaching, guiding, secure borders, discipline, and letting a little person be their own person, parented with wisdom and grace.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why Should I Schedule a Town Day?

A person cannot be in two places at once. If you're not at home then the home things do not get done. The dust, dishes and laundry pile up. The home schooling is haphazard. Projects stay in the "someday" state.
Once upon a time…
a couple of weeks ago,
for some reason, or several, we had a week in which we were gone nearly every day. And to top it off, I needed to do a Costco run and as the week slipped away it came to Friday. In case you were living under a rock, Friday and Saturday are the worst times during the week to go to Costco. Especially if it is the only one in Southern Idaho and people come out of the desert and down from the mountains to fill up their carts for a week or month. Which is also what I like to do but prefer a weekday. Back to the crazy week of running, it flew by and left the house a mess. Dust, dishes, laundry, paper piles, a dirty kitchen, just ick. I entered the weekend tired and looking for relief. Not happening. More events and Sunday… I found myself longing for "Monday—Laundry Day" and my weekly routine.
You see, even if you don't live far from town and are without the option of just "running to get" this or that, it is still the best use of time to plan to do all the errands at once. It saves you time, money, gas, and keeps the home life preserved.
I know it's unavoidable when scheduling multiple children but it really helps to aim that way. Try to get all the dental appointments done on the same day within the same hours by multiple hygienists. Really, trust me. And don't forget your Kindle.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Paper Monster and Paper Gift

The Paper Monster always looks more intimidating than it is. It's a bit like painting or washing windows in that it takes more mental effort to gather the supplies and start doing it than actually doing the task.

I like to put on music. Pull up a trash can, get out the bill paying tools (checkbook, envelopes, stamps), and get going. If it looks like the chore will take a looooonnnnnngggg time then I love to use a timer. Work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break.

Today, I am motivated to work hard and fast because I am going to make one of these when I am done! Go look at Joy-in-a-Box!

 I have someone in mind to give it to but I also think it would be good to have one ready-made and waiting for when I discover a person in need but lacking the time or money or energy or what have you to put it together.

A long long time ago I put something quite similar together for someone in a hard spot. I had no idea how it would go over. I was actually a little afraid. I think there is that risk in giving. But the recipient told me that it was the most thoughtful gift she'd ever received. I was shocked. Gifts is not my natural "love language".  I had been praying for this person. I can only think that it was the work of the Holy Spirit in guiding me to do it and what to put into it.

 I get excited about ideas to change the world, I love to read or hear about mission work of any type, I look around and see the immediate mission field of my children.  Putting together Joy-in-a-Box is something I can do in the here and now, with the help of my children, to be a blessing to someone.
Will you make one for someone?
Or maybe you have a similar idea to share?
Or do you have an experience of getting something similar or perhaps a time when you gave?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Make a Laundry Protocol Poster

Making a poster for your laundry room will help your family know how to use the equipment and wash specific loads. They can all pitch in with the work and learn essential life skills. Creating a guideline will save you steps and time in instructing.

First, make sure that you are properly running your equipment. Get out the manual and learn more about your machine and how it can wash your specific loads better. Give thought to your detergent and how it is cleaning your laundry. Read the box and learn how much to use for the specific loads. Be sure you are sorting the laundry correctly. You have to know what you are doing before teaching someone else.

Plan an order of events for your instructional poster. Collect, sort, load, soap, etc. This will be particular according to your family's machines and laundry. Perhaps you want to wash specific things on specific days and assign it to a specific person? I.e. linens on Fridays, towels on Thursdays, Tuesday-Girls' Laundry.

Now, plan your poster on paper for a rough draft. Write simple so that those in a hurry can glance at it and do the step. Don't be too fancy with your scripts, this isn't an artistic decoration for your laundry room. This is a do it and do it right instructional poster.

Put your rough draft ideas onto your poster board. Use bright markers to differentiate loads. Perhaps use cut out pictures or clip art for the beginning reader.

Hang the poster. Call your family. Read through it together. Ask for questions.

Do some practice runs together referring to the poster.