Friday, August 28, 2009

Living on the Outside

"It takes a village to raise a child" African proverb
Has anyone taken a good look at the global village lately? Why would anyone want that village raising their children?
I was affronted with the "if you homeschool, do you socialize your daughter" question today. It never ceases to amaze me that people can, with apparent sincerity, believe that homeschooling will negatively affect a child's socialization. My general response to the question is to ask another question:
"What do you mean by socialization? If you mean shaping my daughter to be the same as everyone else - then, no...I do not socialize my daughter."
These people have been so completely duped that the African quote is like gospel to them. I look at the global village and see the kids who are socialized by the system are ill-mannered, foul mouthed and (most obviously) self-serving.
The global village believes and teaches that we must tolerate everyone (although Christianity seems to be excluded from that rule alot).
The global village believes and teaches that equality means no one has true authority.
The global village believes and teaches that children are better off in the hands of 'professional' child care all day from the earliest age possible.
The global village believes and teaches that rebellion is normal and should be expected without exception. It should be understood as a learning experience for all parties.
It takes a village to raise a child? No, it doesn't. It takes parents - good, God fearing, humble parents.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

How to Hate a Calvinist

I have to admit, that for the longest time I did not know what 'Calvinist' meant. The closest thing to the term for me was a cartoon character, Calvin & Hobbs, which I always loved to read - so was I a Calvinist? However, the term was used in several church circles when I was a new Christian - these people didn't strike me as cartoon people. When they used the term it was generally being negative - sort of like spitting. Eventually, I started asking questions. The answers were pretty vague and used word like 'heresy' and 'zealots'. A summary of a conversation went like this:

"Well, the Calvinist doctrine states some very dangerous theology."

Me: "Like what?"

"A big one is total depravity of man. They believe we cannot choose (big emphasis on this word - stretch out the oooo) to receive salvation."

Me: "Oh, but you don't believe that?"

"NO (raise voice here), God gives everyone the opportunity to be saved. Then we can cho(oooo)ose to receive salvation or not."

Me: "Why would anyone choose not to receive salvation?"

"I don't know, but the point is we are given the choice - we're not robots being programmed by God."

There seemed to be great vehemence for this doctrine, but very little discussion as to why it was wrong. It was just wrong. Anyone who followed it was ignorant, arrogant or abhorrent.

Well...I've never been much of a bandwagon person. In anything from fashion and trends right through to my growing faith, the bandwagon wasn't an attractive place for me. Quite frankly, anything that is presented by people as THE only way brings instant suspicion to my mind.

Why is this doctrine wrong? Where in scripture is it outlined as heresy? Where did the doctrine come from? Who is John Calvin? Does he know Hobbs?

The more questions that I asked the more it became that obvious I would have to find out on my own (actually, I am blessed with a husband who avoids the bandwagon, as well, and had just as many questions). I looked at both sides of the debate. Turns out the Doctrines of Grace, a.k.a. the 5 points of Calvinism, make for enlightening reading. Calvin, himself comes across as a no-nonsense type of fellow. He doesn't pad the truth to make it soft. I liked it. I understood it. It opened up a greater relationship with the Lord.

Yes, I am a Calvinist. However, I don't generally introduce myself this way. My church does not have a banner over the entrance that says 'Armenianists stink!'. But, there is no denying that the Doctrines of Grace have lead me to serve the Lord in ways I never did before, because I understand and am humbled by the love Lord has shown me.

I know I was blind and He gave me sight: And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16 (emphasis mine)

I know I was dead and He gave me life: And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 (emphasis mine)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) Ephesians 2:5 (emphasis mine)

I know I was not capable of choosing righteousness while happily wallowing in my sin. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:30

I know He had to drag me kicking and screaming from the life I lived for me, to a life for His Son to live through me. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why has thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? Romans 9:19-21

My husband has an analogy for the term 'receiving' salvation - if we receive a beating, it isn't something we ask for! However, we have received it nonetheless. Our salvation is completed in the same manner - against our sinful desires.

Does that make me a heretical zealot who lives as a robot under God? I can live with that. For eternity.

How do you hate a Calvinist? Jump on the bandwagon, you'll have lots of company!

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17&18

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Staying Out of His Way

It isn't easy being a woman.

There was a time when that meant alot of wordly issues to me. Raised by a feminist, I believed that I, as a woman, would never be given a fair chance. That I would have to work twice as hard, and achieve twice as much to be given half the 'success' that my male counterparts would experience. To say that I bought into it hook, line and sinker would be an exaggeration; but, I believed that I alone would have to make things happen for a happy, successful life. What I gleaned from the feminist mantra was that I could trust no one, depend on no one and expect nothing from those around me. I - was - it. Hence the makings of a control freak.

Even after I was saved, my need for control was immense. This is not to say I didn't confess a recognition of God as soveriegn - I just wanted to keep that soveriegnty in a little box. Even my husband suffered through the times when I 'knew' I was right and everybody else was wrong. For instance if my husband was working outside of God's will, I took the opportunity to teach him my opinion(how many times have I seen other women doing the same thing with their husbands!). We, as women, need to learn to get out of God's way to see His power in our lives. After many years, I think I finally get it. John the Baptist helped me with this little tidbit:

He must increase, and I must decrease. John 3:30

So the wisdom I follow now is much, much different - but it is still a struggle for me to ignore my old teachings. Although I am not a biblical scholar by any stretch of the imagination, my Lord is patiently showing me truth.

And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith; Philippians 3:9

How can I claim any kind of growth in my faith by trying to do it myself. My faith came from God and only He can cause it to grow - if I get out of the way and watch Him work!

That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Ephesian 4:22-24

I picture this in simple terms. When Christ came into my heart, he only needed to have a crack in the door to enter. As I grow in my faith and understanding of how to give Him my 'all', I need to throw open the door and step out of the way. If anyone around me is outside of God's will, I can encourage them to turn back, I can even lead by example if it is a peer, but I can't change them. Trust me, nagging and manipulating may get the outcome we as women desire, but it doesn't lead anyone to the Lord. I have learned that the best way to allow God to do the work, is to shut my mouth and concentrate on my own walk of faith. Try it, I recommend this technique highly! The results are nothing short of miraculous.

I CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHTEOUS IN GOD'S EYES, but Christ can through me - through any Christian. All we need to do is stay out of his way.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Did I Tell You The One About the Gorilla?

My husband and I were hosting Duck and two of her friends to a day at the Metro Zoo. One of the main attractions for the girls was the primate families - monkeys, orangutans, gorillas. I really like to watch them, too, with the way they interact in their enclosures. It really is like watching a family.

We reached to gorilla's outdoor enclosure just at lunchtime - for them and for us. So we decided to watch the action of their meal before digging into our picnic basket. What a show we got!

The authority of the dominant male was unmistakable because only he was allowed to eat - all the other gorillas, teenagers and one mama with baby, were sitting around the perimeter of the enclosure while the king gorged himself on the delivered food. There was some dissension in the ranks as one teenager (probably male) snuck a handful of celery and headed to the highest perch to eat as discreetly as he could. Otherwise, everyone seemed to know that there was no eating until the king was finished.

It wasn't any wonder why he was the king. He outweighed every other gorilla in that enclosure by several hundred pounds. He was the king of the castle and all the men standing around were making comments about it and elbowing their wives about how everything seemed to be in order with this system.

In the mean time, the zoo attendants were on the far side of the enclosure with some type of branches that must be a tasty treat because they were trying to entice the mama and her baby to eat some. The king took great exception to their attempts to override his authority and took a running leap at one of the staff - she was completely protected behind the fence line, but still fell back on her behind in shock and fear of this 500lb+ animal charging her. The whole enclosure shook from his body weight slamming against it in attempt to get at the staff. As a final note he grabbed the branch as his treat and headed back to the center of the feeding area - quite pleased with his performance. All the human watchers were duly impressed with his kingship.

After only a few moments the staff were again pushing branches through and mama had been inching her way over - always on the perimeter. When she and her baby reached the branches, she nonchalantly reached and pulled the branch to her with little to no notice by the king. The baby had one taste of the leaves on the branch and lost all sense of fear for the king - he jumped from mama's belly to the fence and actively began eating.

Well, the king may have been willing to ignore the actions of his wife (mama), because she knew enough to be discreet. However, the outward defiance of a the baby eating before permission was given was too much for him. In seconds of mama reaching for the baby to pull him away from the fence, the king was snorting and rampaging toward them just as he had done to the staff member - only there was no fence to stop this attack.

Every parent standing around the enclosure with us had the same thought at the same time, 'this gorilla is going to hurt or kill the baby - we've got to get our kids away from the view!'. My husband and I were making our way to step in front of the girls as other parents were corralling their kids to move away from what looked to become a gruesome scene. Then we all heard it. The baby let out a horrified screamed that raised the hair on my neck - this was it!

Then another strange sound rose from the midst of the snorting aggression of the king and crying hopelessness of the baby. Anger. Deep, maternal, anger. Turning to look, everyone focused on was the sudden change in events within the enclosure. Mama had heard her babies cries. Mama wasn't happy!

The king was running for his life! Mama, with baby attached again to her furry belly, was inches behind the king with a murderous look on her face. The king knew he wouldn't live to reign another day if he stopped. The teenagers in the enclosure were whooping it up - literally, laughing and chattering and swinging with delight to see the king getting a strip tore off of him.

And as quickly as it started, it was over. The king sitting in a corner now, sulking, and all the other gorillas eating with gaiety! Every man in the audience felt sorry for the big fella - every woman was laughing at the calamity.

It was funny!

However, I couldn't help but think how this could easily be transferred into North American homes. The husbands, who now cower in their lazyboy chairs because mama ain't happy!

I know we're talking about gorillas. I also know that any feminist watching the same scene that day would have said, 'See, it's natural for women to seek authority in the family. It's obvious men can be brutish when given the opportunity.'

All I have to say is, those were gorillas. We are God's children. Never should those two be placed in the same category! Never do I want to be compared to gorilla mama who was teaching her child to disobey, even discreetly. Never do I want my husband to feel it is easier, and safer, to simply let me be the head of the house.

Lord, let me never forget that!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stay Tuned

Just like everyone else, I am wrapped up in summer activities right now. Actually, our summer events go right into September for camping trips. BUT...hang in there with me! I have alot of good posts bouncing around in my head - at least they sound good to me ;o)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Choosing the Best, part 3

Picking back up on the series of 'what if' questions that always seem to come up when the topic turns to women staying at home to be full time wives and mothers. We started here by looking at the idea of daughters being raised to see this choice as God's BEST. Now, we have moved into to talking about women who are already married and making decisions about staying at home:

Fourth question...what if the debt load is too high for one income? Well, that didn't happen by accident, did it? Absolutely take responsibility for debt that has been incurred in past times - but changing to a frugal lifestyle will show a walk toward God's BEST for the family. Our family is in this situation right now. I work part time as a nurse to pay off the debt that my husband and I incurred in the first part of our marriage. Keep in mind that my previous full time income was almost twice what my husband makes working full time now. But, since making the decision to seek God's BEST for our family, we have paid more than $28,000 off (some of it was simply removed by the grace of God!) in only 5 years! With just $14,000 left to go, my work time outside of the home is lessening every year. God has been gracious in this area by giving my husband a job that is flexible for scheduling and giving me a job that I can pick and choose my shifts. These two things make sure that homeschool is not affected and that one of us is home with Duck at all times - no need for babysitters. Blessings always follow when we seek out God's BEST for our lives. Why should we believe the blessings will come?
If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
John 7:37b & 38 (emphasis mine)

Last question...what if a woman is in an abusive situation? Get out. Take the kids and get out. God's authority structure does not include abuse of any kind. However, seek your heart for the truth first. Physical abuse is an obvious reason to leave, but emotional and verbal abuse are slippery ones. There are times that I have been guilty of emotionally and verbally abusing my husband! Sometimes, as wives, we must suffer under the persecution of our husbands who have yet to follow God's BEST for their role in the marriage. By challenging ourselves as wives to be a biblical woman, God can change your husband.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Ephesians 6:13 (emphasis mine)

There are probably several more 'what if' questions that come up when discussing a woman's decision to stay at home, whether married or single. The ones that I did bring up in this series are the ones that come up most frequently among my community of friends and acquaintances and strangers. I do know that the decision to be wives and mothers at home, to make that a plan for the future when still single, has to be a conviction with solid biblical grounding. A woman without the conviction will find it is only a matter of time before the 'what if' arguments break down any shallow decisions and home life will never be good enough for her.

Just today as I was looking for a way to wrap up this series, Duck and I were picking wild raspberries. We were hindered by bees, thorns, heat and thick brush. All these hindrances were a perfect example of what living lives as women of conviction is like - there will always be something or someone that is intent on pushing us away from following the BEST path that God has for us. However, perseverance, patience and trust in God will always end in blessing - in this case by working past the bees, thorns, heat and thick brush we filled a basket full of raspberries!

So let me repeat my conviction from the first installment on this series - God's BEST path for every woman is to be a wife and mother. Period. Spare me the 'what if' arguments and show me the scripture!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Adding to Family Adventure

This post will give a brief break in the "what if" series, but the third installment is almost done. I didn't want to miss a Show and Tell!

Well, we have been searching for quite awhile to find the best canoe for our family and just found this beautiful vessel on Monday past. After trying out multiple canoes, we purchased this Clipper Tripper for an excellent price: In our part of the country the Swift Canoe is the most well known and is recommended highly by anyone who has used one. We did try out the Swift brand, and we did like it, but the price of that line of canoes was a little high ($2500+). This brand, Clipper, is mostly associated with Mary's end of the country - British Columbia. We found it at a local canoe store after someone had traded it in for a purchase. It was the perfect size and handles great in the water:

These are all pictures that were taken when we were just doing a test paddle. It is unlikely that we will have another set of pictures with all three of us in the vessel again - one of us is always holding the camera! So far, I can highly recommend the Clipper to anyone who is looking.
Our family adventures for the rest of the summer and into fall will almost always include this new addition! Here are some of the names we have come with for our new vessel:
- wun*hoo*toots (family humour!)
- family ARK (that holds all of our initials)
- the northern rikibee (also a mix of our names, although we figured we would tell people that it was a native word for wun*hoo*toots!)
- a full, rich day
Any other suggestions!
For more Show and Tell, go visit Mary!

Choosing the Best, part 2

The first part of this discussion can be read here.

We're continuing to look at the 'what if' questions that always seem to come up when the topic turns to women staying at home to be full time wives and mothers. First we are covering the idea of daughters being raised to see this choice as God's BEST:

Second question...what if the girl never finds a spouse that meets her standards for marriage and stays single? Oh, boy...has this been on my mind! There are very few choices available at this point in time for the young, single women that I know. However, dropping scriptural standards just for the sake of being married is not God's BEST. A woman who remains single should still be prepared for marriage and children - we can never know when God will send the husband He has prepared for her. If a husband is never found, a woman's life can still be full by working with other woman and helping in their families; by serving in great ways within a church structure; by standing firmly on her conviction of purity as a testimony to her trust in God. Yes, it would be hard. Yes, it would be worth it! James knew it:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1:2-4 (emphasis mine)
And when it gets really hard to keep focused on serving others (your own family, church families or God, himself) meditate on Psalm 37:
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.
And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:
Psalm 37:3-7a (emphasis mine)
Lets move into the questions about those of us who are already wives and SAHMs. This next one seems to me to be a short answer:
Third question...what if a SAHM and wife were to become a widow at a young age? So be it. Nothing (NOTHING) happens in this life that is not allowed to happen by the Lord. The possibility that a husband dies early is not something on which to base decisions. Trust God, for He wants what is BEST for you! Churches, as a whole, are commanded to take care of the widows and orphans within their congregations. All the more reason to seek out a local church to build into your family!
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8&9
The key to this question is recognizing that God would not have us live with any fear of the future - leave those plans to Him and simply live for His BEST. be continued...

Monday, August 3, 2009

Choosing the Best

I always enjoy reading blog posts and comment threads for the purpose of challenging my own thinking. When I read other people's thoughts (whether they match mine or not) it can give me cause to study scripture to ensure my convictions are on solid ground. Generally, I end up posting on the same topics, but use my blog to give extensive answers to questions or challenges that were posed somewhere else in blogland. This particular post kept growing in size, so I have split it into three parts (so far!). I hope everyone will chime in with their thoughts:

There is no doubt that the secular worldview is that every family should be a two income family. If a woman is not working and building her career there must be something wrong with her - she's lazy - or she's being held back by her husband and children, etc. In the end, the current culture believes a woman who is a housewife and stay-at-home-mom is missing out on her full potential. Sometimes the christian realm isn't much different when weighing in on this topic. The questions about women staying at home, or daughters being raised with this future plan, almost always turns to the 'what if'.

What if...
- your daughter never marries,
- your husband were to pass away,
- that woman really is in an abusive situation,
- that young girl wants to go to college and have a career,
- the family has a debt load greater than the husband's salary?

God's BEST path for every woman is to be a wife and mother. Period.

This isn't something that is repressive or subjugating. It is a freeing and edifying role. Let me tell you why I believe this:
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: And he is the saviour of the body.
Ephesians 5:22&23 (emphasis mine)

Obeying God is never wrong and never degrading. He built this relationship into marriage as a protection for women. We are first under the protection of our fathers, then that responsibility is passed onto our husbands.

First question...what if the father is not a strong christian(or not a christian at all) who will take the responsibility to heart? This happens - we live in a sinful world and there are no guarantees that those around us will follow God's BEST. The key for young girls in this situation is to honour their earthly father without dishonouring our heavenly Father. If 'dad' says his daughter could or should date (or most often heard, doesn't care!), the daughter needs to purpose in her heart to seek God's BEST for this area of her life. Dating is 'normal' and easy and even fun - but it is not God's BEST for a single girl. If 'dad' does not actively support following a courtship model to marriage, there will likely be a pastor who can counsel the young girl during her single years. Regardless, young women cannot use those around them as an excuse to ignore God's BEST.

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: Daniel 1:8 (emphasis mine)

Daniel was a young man and alone in a strange land. He could have joined the crowd and defiled himself to please his captor - and used the excuse that he was alone. He had no support for any 'old' beliefs. Instead, he stood firm on convictions for his relationship with God and chose to follow the BEST path that God had for him. Taking the stance that 'it is just too hard' to seek God's BEST in the area of purity during single life is a telling sign about the anyone who speaks these words. The key to this 'what if' questions is this - what has been purposed in the heart? Anything? be continued...