Friday, February 29, 2008

Ladies Only

(This is just for the ladies... it's one of *those* posts that doesn't really apply to men)

On television, there is a commercial for a cleaning product that has a slogan that says something along the lines of "lifes messy, clean it up". Life really is pretty messy sometimes, there's no doubt about that. Life for a believer is also considerably different than life for an unbeliever, in that we know our own "messes" can sometimes be caused by our own sinful, self-absorbed attitudes and tendencies.

For a woman, when you blend sinful tendencies, raw emotion, a husband to look after, children to look after, a house to keep tidy, church activity, work, school, and whatever else happens to be on your particular plate, life can sometimes get extremely messy. Sometimes we even put far too much on our plate without even realizing we've done that. (Every sister reading this is now nodding her head thinking "yep, I do that!")

These are really obvious questions, but I wonder...

- Do you ever have those days where you feel so edgy, you're almost afraid of what might fly out of your mouth?

- Do you ever have those days where your heart feels so heavy, that the tiniest thing will send you into a bout of crying?

- Do you ever have those days when it takes all your strength to battle off self-pity?

- Do you ever have a day when all of those things happen on the same day, or maybe for several days in a row?

Most women have those days. I never did when I was younger (and unsaved, with unsaved friends), and I honestly believed my peers who did have those days, were faking it to get attention. I didn't have much sympathy for them, because I truly did believe they were being deceitful. They'd use those reasons to get out of going to school, going to work, or doing anything else they didn't really want to do. Due to the fact that I'd seen so much deception and headgames among my unsaved peers, I just chalked it up to yet another one of those situations (afterall, I never had those days, so surely they were faking).

Well, that was then and this is now. The older I get, the more often I have those days. Winter time is much worse because along with the mood swings comes the cabin fever and being closed up inside with everyone else. At least in the summer time I can stretch my legs and go for a bike ride, or throw myself in the pool, or just go and do something. In the winter time my options are far more limited (go from this room to that one, not a big change in scenery, ya know?).

If you're anything like me, and your circumstances are anything like mine, I'd like to offer some suggestions for when you have those days. Of course your mileage may vary, but these things make a difference for me, and they might for you too. If you have additional suggestions please tell me about them:

Music - preferrably a good cd of hymns, but any God-glorifying music will do the trick. I don't know what it is about music that catches you deep down inside, but it does. Music that exalts God's attributes is like a refreshing summer breeze, on days like this.

Bubble Bath (or, if you're allergic, just a nice hot soak). I know this might sound self-indulgent but sometimes we really do need to take 30 minutes or so and purposely put ourselves in a relaxing position where we can think things through, not be interrupted, and refocus. I know a lot of women that wont like this suggestion because they think along the lines of "there's no time for that". Well, there sure IS time for it, and if you need it to get yourself back on track, you should take it.

Exercise (eww, the dreaded word!) In the spring and summer when I can go outside and busy myself with things like mowing, cleaning the pool or weeding, I use that time of hard work to really think things through. When I can't get outside to work, there's always the option of the exercise bike, treadmill or any other exercise machine you might have in your house. Not only does it get the body active, it gets the brain busy as well and gives you that time to sort of step away from your emotions for a bit.

Grab your best girlfriend for a talk - This sounds so obvious but sometimes we need the obvious pointed out don't we? Busy wives and mothers are often feeling like supermom, and so busy trying to fix/tend to/organize everything themselves that they might feel like they're burdening a friend to talk these things out. Galatians 6:2 tells us that when we bear one another's burdens we fulfill the law of Christ - that we're loving one another as He commanded us to do. You know you're all ears when your closest friend needs to talk something out, and you should remember she's eager to do the same for you. Besides, she knows you well and will tell you what you need to hear -not what you want to hear. That's why she's your best friend.
Now as I said, these are just some suggestions that work for me. I should point out that prayer is the #1 thing we should all turn to when our hearts feel overwhelmed, so these are just things that you might like to consider in addition to prayer. Please feel welcome to add your suggestions as well (I'm sure there are lots of things different women do that helps on days like this).

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Observing Hope

If your life is like mine (and I'm guessing it is, in a general sense), you have a variety of people in your life that God has put there for your benefit. While some of those people might not be the easiest people in the world to get along with (and bring complications into our lives that are indeed a benefit toward our sanctification, even if it is and they are unpleasant), I want to take a little time today to focus more on those folks in our lives that are examples of holiness and godliness. In a time when so many professing Christians seem to place such a low view on both, I'd like to shine a light on that, because it matters.

In my world, I have someone who is an astounding example of hospitality. Someone else is an example of diligence in studying. There's another person who is a fantastic teacher of God's word, and then another that comes to mind who is a wonderful example to me of someone who knows how to truly forgive and let things go. As I thought about this yesterday I wondered what the list would look like if I were to sit down and list all the believers I know that are strong in one area or another. The thing is, of all the believers in my life, each one of them has something that sets them apart and would be what I call their strongsuit in the faith. It would be a wonderful list to put together, and I might just do it for my own personal edification.

In my own walk with the Lord, I know myself well enough to know where I fall short, so I suppose it only stands to reason that the areas where I am weak, are the areas that I notice the most in others who are strong. By God's providential orchestration, He consistantly brings people into my life that are the very examples of character and morality that I need to be aiming for, and see lived out right before me. These are people that are simply more mature in Christ than I am, so their sanctification is further along than mine is. Funny thing is, I know if I were to poll each of them and ask them about it, they'd be the first ones to say "oh I fail so miserably in this area!". Genuinely humble people are usually the first ones to shy away from the applause of others.

So then what do I do with that? How do I benefit in a practical sense from such people of godly character?

Well, I'd love to be able to say that I soak it up like a sponge. I'd love to be able to say that I see such fantastic examples and change my ways overnight and fix that area. Nope, it doesn't work like that at all.

While I do intentionally surround myself with good examples (pastors, teachers, authors, speakers, friends), the problem is that there is so much of ME, that stands in the way of being more like Him. Old habits, emotional reactions, bouts of anger or self-pity, complaints, frustrations and temptations and on and on the list goes. That battle with the flesh we all deal with is very real, isn't it? I find it striking that it often seems like the more good examples I have right in front of me (others whom He's been working on), the more glaring my own failures are. This is not a bad thing, in the least. We need to have our weak spots and blind spots exposed to the light so that we can honestly address them, pray about them, confess them to those closest to us and ask them to pray for us as well, repent of them, and seek the Lord's grace and mercy to grow there.

I'm so glad I have good examples in my life, but I'm even more glad that I can see how God's worked (and is working) in other people's lives to bring them to where they are. It's a monumental encouragement to me to see Philippians 1:6 being acted out in the lives of people around me, because even though I see it so much less in my own life, I know it's still happening and that gives me great cause for hope.

Theology Matters: Hidden With Christ in God

I had something completely different in mind to post here this morning. Then, I watched this. For those that don't know it yet, Dr. James White really is one of the most solid Christian voices this generation has. Folks, watch this and see if it doesn't bless you, encourage you and convict you all at the same time:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

24 Hour Days?

evening and morning were how long?There's been a little bit of buzz here and there in Christian blogging community about Pastor Tim Keller admitting in his new book, that he doesn't believe in a literal 6 day (24 hour) creation. If you'd like to see what he says about it, take a look at this interview here.

I have always maintained that if you get it wrong from the foundation (creation) that things simply cannot be consistant throughout the rest of your theology. Some may disagree with me on that, but it stands to reason that if your foundation is faulty, the rest of the building can't be as grounded and anchored as it could be, if that foundation were sure.

Keller says in this interview:

"I do know that I say in the book, “This is an absolute red herring—to get mired in this before you look at the certainties of the faith. Because the fact is that real orthodox believers with a high view of Scripture are all over the map on this. I can line up ten really smart people in all those different buckets, which I’ll call “theistic evolution,” “young-Earth creationism,” and let’s call it “progressive creationism” or “semi-theistic evolution.” There are all these different views. And when you see a lot of smart people disagreeing on this stuff, well..."

What he means here, is that if there are 10 really smart people that disagree, then it's okay not to land squarely in one camp or the other and take a firm position on this subject. Afterall, if really smart people can't agree, then maybe not so smart people shouldn't be expected to understand it either, right?

Well... with all due respect to the much admired Tim Keller... wrong. There are plenty of smart people who deny all kinds of Biblical truths - that doesn't mean we should too. I believe the Scriptures are quite clear on the teaching of a literal, six, twenty-four hour days of creation, but this is really not my issue here.

To be completely honest, my real issue here is the free ride on absolute truth. This "well, smart men disagree" is a pass on digging for truth and knowing it for yourself. Another way to say this, would be to ask if smart men disagree, does that mean that Scripture is insufficient to answer the question of creation?

While I am not a theologian or a creation expert, I certainly do believe that Scripture sufficiently answers this question. I've always had a red flag shoot up for me personally, whenever someone tells me it's okay not to believe one way or another because people smarter than me can't even agree on the topic at hand. For some, that's an easy-out, an excuse not to bother with finding out the truth, an excuse to be lazy about it.

For some good articles on this subject (from dedicated believers who also agree on the sufficiency of Scripture to clearly answer this question), I recommend the following:

How long were the days of Genesis 1?
What did God intend us to understand from the words He used?

A young Earth—it’s not the issue!
AiG’s main thrust is NOT ‘young Earth’ as such; our emphasis is on Biblical authority.

Creation Compromises
AiG stands firmly on the authority of Scripture, which entails that Creation occurred in six normal-length days about 6000 years ago, and a planet-wide Flood followed about 1500 years later.

Great Homeschooling Resources

If you're a homeschooler, go check this out. The Renaissance World--an online class for Middle Schoolers. I've already sent off an email for more info. It says it'll be livestreaming for this with highspeed access. I have dial up, but I can listen to livestreaming audio with relatively few breaks, so it just might work for me. (I'll remain hopeful here).

Now, just how wonderfully brilliant would it be, if more and more homeschool teachers dedicated a wee little part of their teaching skills, to an online class such as this? For example, a gifted homeschool dad, who might have a degree in math - offering an online tutorial? Or maybe a homeschool teacher that excells in teaching children to read? English, History, Apologetics, Science?

The field is wide open. I wish more would do this. It would only serve to richly bless us homeschool teachers (and more importantly our students) that might NOT be so gifted in certain areas.

It's not exactly the same thing, but I did offer our little program in memorizing the books of the Bible (which was a tremendous help, by the way, to ALL of us) so maybe I'll clean that up & repost it with a permanent link. Every little bit helps, right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

May it End

white knuckles
out of control
white darkness
bright lights
blowing snow
icy roads
shaking hands
white knuckles
out of control
white darkness
bright lights
blowing snow
icy roads
shaking hands
white knuckles
out of control
white darkness
bright lights
blowing snow
icy roads
shaking hands

Tell Me a Story

For some people, stories are quite boring. For others, if they hear "well, there's a little story behind that", they're all ears and quite eager to hear the backstory on whatever the subject is. Quite often, people that like to hear stories are also the same people that really want to hear someone's strange dream - while the people who find stories boring, also have no desire to hear anyone's strange dreams. I'm not sure why it's this way, but in general, it is.

In my left sidebar I've got a little button that shows what's new in the store. Right now there's a little smirky-smiley guy asking "ya like me?" Well, there's a little story behind that (you knew that was coming, right?). My second oldest daughter Jennifer has a very goofy sense of humor, and one day out of nowhere during a fairly serious and tense discussion, she popped out with "hey, ya LIKE me!?" and made a really funny face. Well, we all lost it. "Ya like me?" became an instant family saying, and a tense-moment stand-by. In fact, as we were shoveling the van out of a snowbank last night, after an hour of trying to rock it and give it some traction, I whipped out "ya LIKE me!?" to Kevin. It's silly, it's goofy, but it works. Now imagine someone walking into a room with that design on the front of their t-shirt. Not a lot of people wouldn't smile, when they see something as silly as that. It's all for fun, and most of us need to do a lot more smiling anyway.

In the same way that there is a story behind almost all of the graphics I create, there is also a story behind me. I gave my conversion testimony in church on Sunday, and I also recorded it last night for you all to listen to as well. It's my hope that it blesses and encourages you. You can find that link in the right sidebar under my profile, or you can just right click here, choose "save target as" to save the mp3 on your computer and listen in. It's a little over five minutes long, and this is definitely the short version.

In any event, to God be all the glory, for this particular story.

Monday, February 25, 2008

That CALL ME button

Okay, a few folks have asked me about the CALL ME button.

Some folks can't even see it, but I promise it's really there. Right under the HELLO? in the sidebar is a button that says CALL ME. Someone suggested a browser refresh will allow it to show.

Now, once you click on it, you'll see an input field for a name and phone number. You put in YOUR name, and YOUR phone number (you do not need to add a 1 before your area code). The program will then call YOU, and connect you to my voicemail inbox. Then, you leave me a message, sing me a song, do your best impersonation of your favorite celebrity, or whatever. You get the idea :-)

So there ya go. If anyone else has questions, please let me know.

Let the Redeemed of the Lord, say so

Just after Christmas, Kevin and I were asked to come to an evening meeting at the church and share our testimonies. We've been regular attendees at the church we're going to now, since July of 2006, and had completed all the membership formalities except for doing that.

So, never having given my testimony in a public setting, I was a little particular about the things I wanted to share, the things I wanted to focus on most, and keeping it all short enough that it didn't feel like I was preaching. I have issues with women in a pulpit anyway, but a woman in a pulpit speaking in a preachy way just doesn't work for me - especially if that woman is me.

A couple close friends advised me in the same way: a little of where I was, a little more on how I came to know Christ, and a little bit more on what He's done since that time. With that in mind I sat down and wrote out my testimony (I've done this before but it was much, much longer), and prepared myself for the first public type speaking I've done since 1996. For a period of two years, from '94 to '96 I did quite a bit of radio & television talk/news shows on the topic of internet related harassment and stalking, and the state & federal communication laws we had in place in the US at the time. Some of those shows were live and some were recorded, but it never really bothered me all that much. The first live television talk show I did was nervewracking, but I got over it quickly and just focused on the topic (and completely ignored the packed studio audience, and the fact that I was on live tv.)

There is a monumental difference between public speaking on a completely non-religious topic, and public speaking on the topic of God's grace and mercy in the life of a rotten sinner. The former was rather easy, but the latter should leave anyone trembling, really.

The event of giving testimonies (in all there were 13 people scheduled!) had been delayed time and time again, due to typical Canadian winter weather, this time of year. It was once again rescheduled for last night, and the weather cooperated, and we all met at the church at 6:30. Typed testimony in hand, just before it was my turn to stand and deliver, I began to develop a tickle in my throat and a little cough. Great, I thought, just in time to completely mess up a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the telling of God's amazing grace.

When all was said and done, I did deliver my testimony with just a few tiny interruptions of nerves, and throat issues. I'm pretty sure no one noticed my knees shaking as I stood there and literally trembled before God.

One friend suggested I record this testimony and put it up here at the blog with a permanent link. I asked another friend if I should, and he said YES, that it would only serve as an encouragement to others. So I gave it some thought, and Kev agreed that it would be a good thing.

Lord willing, when the house is quiet and the audio recording program works properly, I'll get that done and post it here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

No Pressure - Just Write!

Blogging is sort of strange, sometimes. I know, I should be wearing my Princess Obvious t-shirt if I'm going to say something like that with the assumption that it's breaking news to anyone. I'm fairly certain that the strangeness of blogging hasn't escaped anyone who's been paying attention.

I say that however, for a specific reason. Maybe it's just me, but it seems sometimes like what other people say about your writing might be a bit of a temptation to suddenly "perform", rather than just do what you always do and write the way you always write. If you think about it, life in general is sorta like this too. Let's say for example, you make the world's most incredible brownies, and everyone in your circle of friends knows it. Word gets out and suddenly complete strangers are asking for your brownies. You feel a sense of higher expectation of yourself because word got around that your brownies are great and you certainly cannot flop a batch!

Blogging can be like this too. You might write something that really blesses someone and they mention it at their blog (which happens to have... thousands of readers a day, give or take a few hundred). Suddenly you've got all this traffic coming in, expecting you to be Joe Insightful (or his sister Jane) with every keystroke. You might feel like you can't just let a rant rip, and go all out explaining why you're so tired of trying to explain the obvious, i.e., "no, young Christian, smoking dope and beating people up is not considered godly conduct". (For the record, I don't know any violent, dope smoking believers, I'm just overdoing it to make a point). You might also feel like you can't keep posting pictures of your cat, dog, kids doing silly things, sunsets or whatever else it is you post pictures of. People are coming because you're Jane Insightful, not because you have a cat, you dipstick!) You might even feel like you can't be completely open anymore and post things that confuse you, or befuddle you, or infuriate you - because you know now, that there are folks coming who think you've got it all figured out. Insightful people have it all figured out, right?

I write about this today because over the last week or so I've had visitors here (*waves to all the first time visitors and passes the bowl of cheetos around) that have never been here before. I honestly don't know what they're expecting (look at me, talking about you like you're not in the room, I'm so rude!), or which post they might happen to land on when they show up. Will they find something doctrinal? A parenting post? One of my earth-shattering pics of the cat sleeping on someone's school desk? It's hard to say. I'm a diverse kinda writer, and the menu of the day is uber-flexible.

doctrine, theology, parenting, tulips... life.

That's what it says in the description section of my header up yonder (yes, I say yonder in real life too, and I also say wee, and all the other goofy words you read here). That's the area where you're supposed to tell readers what your blog is all about.

This particular blog is all about the same kinds of conversations we'd have if you came over for coffee. What would we talk about? Well, we'd talk about doctrine and theology, to be sure. We might talk about the latest evangelical movement or trend, and we might talk about the book I'm reading or the book you're reading, or the last conference you went to, or what either of us are studying right now. Christians tend to talk about those things, and want to hear where other people are at in their Christian walk as well.

We'd probably talk about life as a parent, too. If you don't have kids you'd ask me why I'm not insane, since I have 7 of them, and I'd explain how that translates into day to day life. (Or maybe you wouldn't ask why I'm not insane, but ask how I became insane, either way). We might talk about homeschooling and public schooling and the highs and lows of each, and how parenting choices we all might have made at 30, we regret at 40.

We might talk about gardening, photography, dogs, cats, vacations, chocolate, birthdays, sewing, baseball, badminton, movies, music, coffee, family, hopes, dreams, fears, failures and successes. The first time I met fellow blogger (who turned into my dearest friend) Kim Shay, we sat in local coffee shop and actually fit all of those topics into a 3.5 hour chat session. We could have covered more, but those chairs were hard and we realized it was time to get back to our families.

So, when you visit Reflections of the Times, that's pretty much what you're going to find. If you've read really nasty things about me somewhere, you might come here and find out I'm not the Cave Troll-like person you've heard I was (unless we're talking about shopping, an activity that I loathe to the uttermost). If you've read super-wonderful things about me, you might also come here and find out that I'm not nearly as clever as some make it sound. Sure I can be funny sometimes, but I'm pretty sure I'm not nearly as funny as I think I am. Yes, I do laugh at my own jokes, I am very easily entertained. You might also find when you come here that I'm boring, or that I'm in a different doctrinal place than you are, or that some of the people I link to in the blogroll are people you link to as well and wonder how come you've never been here before! Don't you love it when you find a new blog where you feel right at home?

So, while blogging is strange sometimes, and you might feel a bit of pressure to write about certain things, or even change your blogging style (which is not always a bad thing, really), I think it's more important to just keep being who you are, and writing whatever's on your heart, no matter who is reading. Sometimes that will bless someone (and that's an honor) and other times you might flop the batch of brownies.

And that's okay too.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Call Me

Well, this looks pretty nifty and I'm still trying to figure the whole thing out. I think I've got it, for the most part. Now all someone has to do is call me (click the CALL ME button in the top right sidebar), so I can see if it works! :-) So... first caller, you're up! Whoever calls first gets to go right here on the blog.


Caller #1 Wins! (thanks Lane!)

And our second caller wins a free "hey, this is fun!" (thanks mut!)

(And if YOU would like to call and leave me a voice message for the blog, please do, this is just a whole lot of fun, free, and a new way of leaving a comment!)

Here's the deal:

You can receive voice messages from your blog readers by placing a GrandCentral WebCall button directly on your blog. When people click the button, GrandCentral will call them and connect the call to your GrandCentral number. You can configure your settings to send your calls directly to your phone, or straight to voicemail. You can also post the voice messages you get directly on your blog.

To set up a GrandCentral WebCall button, first you'll need to create a free GrandCentral account.

Once you've signed up for GrandCentral, just follow these steps:

• Log in to GrandCentral and go to the Settings tab.

• Click the WebCall Button link. Click Select next to your favorite button.

• Click the Post link below your button.

• Copy the code provided, you'll need to add it to your blog's template later. Be sure to use one of the smaller buttons, as larger buttons might not fit in your blog's sidebar.

Sign in to Blogger and go to the Templates tab. Click Add a Page Element and select 'HTML/Javascript' as the type. Paste the code provided by GrandCentral and click Save Changes.Your WebCall button is now set up. You can customize specific settings, greetings, and different RingShares by logging in to your GrandCentral account.

Post voice messages to your blog using GrandCentral

With GrandCentral, you can post voice messages to your blog.
To post voice messages to your blog, first you'll need to sign up for GrandCentral (for free). Then, just follow these steps:

• Log in to GrandCentral and go to the Inbox tab.

• Click the message you'd like to post.

• In the voicemail player, click the Post tab.

• Copy the HTML code provided.

• Sign in to Blogger and edit the post where you'd like to add a voice message.

• Click the Edit HTML tab, and paste the code provided by GrandCentral.

Publish your post as usual. If you'd like to post messages you leave for yourself, you'll have to call your GrandCentral number from a phone that isn't associated with your GrandCentral account; otherwise, you'll be prompted with the GrandCentral main menu.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Family Matters

I read this story last night in about a mom "on strike" because her kids wont mind, and several questions immediately came to mind. I had planned last night to blog about it today, but then read the morning news first and noticed that it had become top headlines news at when the boys got violent towards reporters arriving to do a follow up.

You can read the story for yourself, but the gist of it is this: the teenagers are out of control, the house is a mess, they wont listen and help out and she's tired of it. They give her little or no respect and so she's staying away and letting them fend for themselves. For that reason she was arrested and charged with neglect. The four boys are between 13 and 17.

Now, I don't know this family and don't know any more about their personal circumstances than anyone else that can read those news items. Some questions that immediately came to mind:

1. Where is Dad? The article doesn't mention him so that could mean he's either deceased, or they're divorced, or maybe even never married and never a part of the boys lives. It could mean a lot of things, but the most obvious is that he's not around and not a strong (and good) influence on these boys.

2. Where is the church? No mention in the articles if they belong to a local church where they might have good male models in place of dad not being in the picture.

3. Bad Boys Overnight? Nope, kids don't wake up one day so completely out of control that the mom runs away from home. By the time kids are teenagers, if they've been given liberties and freedoms to have/do/say/act however they like all their young lives, this is the face it often takes by the time they're teenagers. I've seen it so many times, and no matter how often I see it, it still breaks me up. Parents who are liberal with their kids when they're little NEVER expect them to "turn" on them like this when they're teenagers, and they almost always do. (I'm not saying the fault lays at the feet of the mother here, I don't know that.)

4. Bad Mom Overnight? Easy excuse. For all I know, this woman has been a dedicated mother from day one. She could have been raising these boys with a strict set of rules and expectations. Sometimes, even with all the right foundations in place kids just turn out like this. It happens, and it even happens in Christian families where good, godly, strong structure and infuence have been in place since the crib.

When I read this story, I could relate in some ways with this mom. In the first article I read "she was fed up with being run over in her own home". Now while my kids don't run me over, I can relate to the "fed up" part. Sometimes I feel that way when I look around and see toys, dishes, dirty socks or whatever else it happens to be that they discarded and left laying there. They all know better but they do it anyway. Several times a day I have to get their attention and direct them to the things they've left laying around and have them clean up after themselves. In addition, like the mom in this news story, at least once a day I have to grab my stripey shirt and whistle and play the referee when two of them are in a monumental crisis with each other that will surely cause WW3 if left unchecked. I have to step in and be the voice of reason, logic, grace and mercy. I have to remind them of the right way to handle things, as opposed to the fleshly way. No question about it, it's a demanding job. I'm thinking of switching the whistle for the kazoo, just to bring some levity into the situation. It's a little hard to want to brain your sister or be furious with your brother when you hear kazoo coming from the other room, and headed your way.

Every mom (and many dads, I'm sure) knows exactly how this feels. Moms of teenagers know it all too well. It is a fact in every sense of the word that once most kids become teenagers they become aliens and their reasoning and rationale skills in many cases are about as sharp as a fresh bowl of oatmeal. Please notice I did not say all teenagers. The ones that don't act like this are our heroes and we dearly appreciate that they didn't turn out like that. The ones that do, we love them through it, pray them through it, and pray ourselves through it. For the record, yes, I was Alien Oatmeal Girl and my dear mom will attest to that.

The thing is, you just don't give up on your kids. Sure sometimes you have to walk out (to the other room, to collect your thoughts, calm yourself down, pray, or cry) but you pull up your socks and you get yourself back in there and you steer them and guide them back onto the right road. Then you get up tomorrow and you do it again, and again, and again. You just don't give up on your kids, even when it feels like it's all a waste of words, a waste of energy, and a waste of time. And yes, sometimes it does feel like that, especially when they're in Oatmeal Head phase... but that's when they need a voice of reason and a solid structure, the most, because that's when the ungodly influences on them will tempt them the most.

Being a mom is one of the hardest, and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. My mom never gave up on me (although she was tempted, I'm sure) and that was a great example for me.

Yep, it's time to bring out the kazoo. Every mother should have one. (and a backup, when the kids lose it then deny ever touching it, seeing it, or knowing where it is)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Christian Lifestyle: Purity

Reading through the comments of this post from yesterday, several things were said that made me remember a series of posts that my friend James White posted in late 2006/early 2007 on Philippians 4:8. In the post titled Think on What is Pure, he wrote this:

"We wish to be like Christ, and as He is pure, we too desire purity. we? Truly this is one of the most convicting portions of this text, for to be able to focus upon what is pure, what is holy, and to think upon these things, we must know experientially purity and holiness. And yet, in a day when the church is trying to look as much as possible like the world, where we dress like the world, talk like the world, are entertained by the world, how can we even begin to fulfill this command? For many in church-ianity today, the very idea of being holy, separate, and pure, is counter to the real goal of "reaching the world." But where do you get the idea from Scripture that you reach the world by capitulating to it and becoming its mirror image? When Paul said he became all things to all people he was not even contemplating the idea of becoming worldly in thought or behavior, speech or dress.

To think upon that which is pure requires us to have a passion for purity, a desire for holiness. And that desire, that passion, has to come from the Holy Spirit Himself. We must pray that He will enlighten our minds to see how the Word defines holiness, and how vital it is to our contentment and peace. We cannot expect the Holy Spirit to not be grieved by our lifestyle when we purposefully choose to revel in that which is unholy."

That sure sums up my thoughts on this subject. What about you?

For the rest of this excellent, short series:


excuses... excuses

I really did have every intention of folding the laundry and tidying up the living room. The thing is, how could I disturb this poor old gal napping in the darks? Why, that would just be cruel of me to do such a thing. Alas, as much as I really, really (did I mention really?) wanted to spend the afternoon folding yet another load of laundry, I had to make that sacrifice and... well... let sleeping dogs lie.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Driscoll - Mars Hill Church

I had no plans to write about this subject here today. The thing is though, I would have been more than happy to simply leave my comments on this subject at Tim's, where he posted his book review of Driscoll's latest book... but he closed the comment thread leaving me unable to do that. So, since I believe it's a subject well worth discussing, I'm going to post here, what I would have posted there. Here, I can address this more in depth anyway, and I think it's well worth the time it's going to take me to do that, and you to read it, to make this much longer than a blog comment.

I do wish to be clear that while Tim posted a book review, I'm not commenting on the book. I didn't read it, and have no plans to read it. Like I said in my comment at Tim's, I have heard (and read) enough of Driscoll to know that I believe spending hard earned money on his book would not be a profitable thing to do. It would only make me regret that I spent my money on that, when I could have bought something without the trashy "humor" in it.

What I am going to comment on, is a few things said at Tim's.

Brian at Voice of the Sheep responded to Tim's review and said this:

"I’ve grown tired of Driscoll’s coarse language and his attempts to be cool and ‘with it’. I keep hearing the same old coined phrases coming from him, trying to make the same old tired gutter jokes with Jesus as the subject. It’s not funny. it’s not even hip. It’s just immature and irreverent. Grow up, Mark."
I couldn't agree more, and have said so for the last couple of years, both publicly and privately to whoever brings him up and asks my opinion. In a nutshell, the man has some good things to say but he peppers it with so much obscenity that it makes me feel sick to listen to him or read him. It makes it impossible to focus on the good things he does say, because the disgusting things he says are so offensive to me, that that's where I get caught up. (And for the record, this has nothing to do with being one of the homeschool moms he likes to make fun of, it has everything to do with being a person who was raised in the exact culture that Driscoll is ministering in right now - I'm FROM the greater Seattle area.)

Steve McCoy then responds to defend Driscoll's style (whether he was responding directly to what Brian said, is not clear) and says:

"Driscoll is speaking to a culture he understands. He’s not trying to be cool or
hip. He’s being himself and speaking the language of the culture, which most
Christians can’t do and therefore most Christians can’t appreciate."

Driscoll isn't trying to be hip? Really? Then maybe someone would like to explain away Driscoll's own words from this intro piece in the Seattle Times, when Driscoll came on board the local paper as a columnist for the Religion section:

Driscoll is pastor and founder of Mars Hill Church, a nondenominational evangelical church in Seattle. Since its beginning in 1996, the church has grown about 60 percent each year and now draws about 3,000 people — many in their 20s and 30s — to its four Sunday services. Driscoll, who believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible, says the focus of his columns will be "connecting the life and teachings of Jesus with contemporary issues and problems." Also, he said, he would like to "bring a breath of comedy and hipness to what can be an otherwise dull religious discussion." - (emphasis mine) source: 2005 Seattle Times archives
So at least in 2005, it was Driscoll's plan to be "hip" and be "humorous".

McCoy goes on to say at Tim's:

"If you don’t appreciate Driscoll’s humor, it’s probably because you either don’t live in the “emerging” culture (unchurched, younger generations) or don’t know how to appreciate healthy biblical contextualization (1 Cor. 9:19-22)."
Count me among those that sincerely do not appreciate Driscoll's humor. Count me also among those that are really tired of hearing the condescending remarks about both those that don't "get it" and those that are in the generation of young people that do "get it".

In addressing the latter first, I know of young people that are highly insulted to be thought of this way. The implication is that there is this entire, concentrated generation of 20somethings in the Seattle area that are so morally bankrupt that they find it uproariously funny when Driscoll mentions things in a "joking" way, that should be reserved for private conversation, or uses what many Christians find to be obscene language. No question, there are young people that do find him funny, relevant, and engaging. There are also 30, 40, and even 50something year olds (and older, I'm sure) that still find that kind of junior high/boy's bathroom talk quite titillating. At the same time however, there are also young people that find it a considerable insult to be thought of in this way. I don't blame them one bit, either. I was certainly no saint at 25 but I can tell you that I never liked being "lumped in" with the insulting way some older people described people in my age group. Blanket statements and generalizations like that are almost never accurate, and almost always unfair. This one is no different.

As to McCoy's second probable cause for us folks that don't "get" Driscoll's humor, he claims that's because we can't appreciate healthy biblical contextualization. Frankly, I find this claim old, and tired. There is an eternity of difference between being in the culture, and being of the culture. (John 17:16, Romans 12:2) Unless we are all living in caves somewhere with no contact with the outside world at all, we are all officially "in" the culture. Our mandate from Scripture however is to not be OF the culture, as we were before God's transforming grace got hold of our lives. We don't go where we used to go, dress like we used to dress, speak, think, act or approve of the things we used to find perfectly acceptable. That was the old way, the old man. So for someone to (constantly) say "well he's just speaking the language of the culture" is both an excuse to condone ungodly speech, and at the same time to insult the fine folks in the Seattle area by implicating that they can't get hold of gospel truth, without the trashy language tossed in there along with it.

Scripture says otherwise:

• For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

• For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1Cor. 1:18)

Yet, many (you'll find this most often among numbers-driven, mega-ministries) would have us believe that one must do this, say that, have this program, speak this way, or add some other kind of nifty little "hook" to one's preaching, to get the gospel into the ears of the ones who need to hear it most. It's all well and good to know your primary listening audience, and to be familiar with their struggles, their culture, their fears, their concerns, etc., but it is not in becoming or acting just like them, that is going to save them. We all "contextualize" in some way, there is no question there. The real question is how far can one go to contextualize, before they've crossed the line and compromised the very message of eternal life, and the very clear message in Scripture that Christians are different from the culture they live in?

Scripture is filled with instruction that we are to be blameless, good examples, good witnesses, godly, righteous, salt and light. Our conversations and our language in general is to be a reflection of that very same thing. This not only covers "humor", but every area of speech from the words we chose to use to the kinds of speech we engage in, such as mockery, insults, gossip, slander, etc. Indeed this is a struggle for many people, but it's a goal we should be passionate about aiming for, rather than making excuses for not doing it, and excuses for those who "don't get it". Trust me dear reader, a lot of us "get it" just fine, and once used the vile language of the world quite proficiently. Some of us were excellent mockers, class A liars, champions at the quick put-downs, and uber-creative with the profane, obscene, gossip and slander. Oh yes, we "get it" because we were once like that ourselves. We were once the "children of wrath" spoken of in Ephesians 2:3, doing, thinking and saying exactly what children of wrath do and say and think.

That was then... this is now. We are to be consistantly striving toward being transformed by the renewing of our minds, because we find it a worthy thing to be consistantly desiring to be more like Christ, and less like the "old man".

One the most refreshing things I saw at Challies' was this comment by someone else who clearly "gets it", but will no doubt be just as insulted as anyone else who dares to call into question the conduct of Mark Driscoll:

"Hi. I like your review Tim and I thank God for you for speaking up about it. It is very well balanced. What bothers me about Driscols’ language is not so much that it is “edgy” or “dirty” or merely “not in good taste” as you say, but that it makes jokes at God’s expense. There is simply no place for this kind of talk about Jesus’ conception among Christians. We should not promote tasteless images about Jesus Christ. When John saw the Lord in the book of Revelation he fell at his feet as though dead. This was not our of mere reverence, but dread and fear of the holiness and majesty of our God and Savior. In contrast to this, the intro language of Driscols’ book frankly breaks my heart, especially from someone who claims to love God. It makes light blazing holiness of our God. For all the talk on here about reaching young people, I would argue that this has nothing to do with personal preferences, or the group of people we are trying to reach, it is simply vile to speak of our Lord in such terms and this is the specific thing that should be repented of. Driscol may reach many with his ministry, and this is not a comment about his ministry as a whole, but for these specific comments about our God. And you are right. People like Tim Keller reach the people of the city effectively with respect, but without the worthless talk. By the way, we won’t be carrying this book in our store." - John Hendryx (
Driscoll's irreverence is something that many, many people have pointed out, and many, many others simply want to brush aside as part of his "style" or excuse it away as something that must be done because they've bought into the line that he constantly uses about Seattle being "one of the least churched cities in the nation" and leave it at that. Driscoll likes to refer to Jesus as a "dude", and has used that reference many times. His point in doing that is to make folks understand that in the flesh he was as approachable and as real as you or I. I get his point just fine. For me personally, I could never in a million years refer to God in the flesh as a "dude", but Driscoll doesn't stop there.

Steve Camp, a Christian brother who is no stranger to standing up for the right thing (and taking massive heat for it), is often criticized for the words he uses to describe Driscoll's style, coupled with the fact that he dares publicly critique him in the first place and offer a counter-opinion to the "oh isn't he wonderful" sentiment so prevelant in the Christian blogging community. In a comment he posted yesterday at Challies' blog (that was removed because Tim found it "sufficiently inflammatory") he asked:

"Does any one of the Driscolletes here think that the constant use by Driscoll of smutty language, scatological speech, graphic sexual descriptions of a woman’s private parts, using Scripture to humorously justify masturbatory acts, using the name of the Lord as a punch line in jokes, twisting Scripture to support degrading stories, and demonstrating little or no reverence of the fear of the Lord in public worship... and all this taking place, mind you, while “preaching the Word” from the pulpit, is acceptable pastoral practice and demeanor? (All of this is well documented by Driscoll’s own vodcasts and podcasts and yes I have read his two books and virtually listened to everything that he has released on podcast and vodcast the past three years). Aren’t any of you offended by this?" - Steve Camp

In the last 3+ years (since I first heard of Driscoll) I have certainly not heard as many online audio messages from Driscoll as Camp has (I can only listen to so much of that sort of thing, and in some instances have had to just turn off the mp3 because it was just too offensive), and the truth is, the words that first come to mind for me are exactly the same words Camp uses to describe his style. I did watch/listen to the Q&A and sermons on the Birth Control and Humor topics (I've been told they've since been edited to remove some of the more overtly offensive material) and found them to be so irreverant and disgusting, that I actually felt physically sick watching and listening. And this, from a Christian pastor.

I've talked to my pastor about him, and he has used some of the same words Camp uses. I've talked to my husband about him, and he also has expressed the very same reaction. I've talked to many, many people over the years about this and they also agree that this particular and intentional vulgar and offensive approach is just as ungodly as it can be. In Tim Challies' review of Driscoll's book yesterday, he also described this "side" of Driscoll as in poor taste, inappropriate, flippant and unnecessary. While he did find some things in the book that benefitted him and that he appreciated, he was reluctant to give the book an endorsement, and even went as far as saying:

"I would certainly not be happy if Driscoll, standing face-to-face with my wife or my children, used some of the words and phrases in this book. Why then would I hand them the book and recommend that they read it?"

So, who's not getting it? Is it just me, just the homeschool moms that Driscoll likes to mock, just extreme fundamentalists, and/or people who are just "mean spirited" and want to cause trouble by sitting around in their pajamas, living in their mom's basement and blogging all day and taking pot-shots at him (that was a line I borrowed from Driscoll himself, by the way)? Hardly.

There are a lot of good folks that are bothered by this, and rightly so.

In a blog post titled Grunge Christianity posted over a year ago and subtitled "Counterculture’s Death-Spiral and the Vulgarization of the Gospel" Pastor John MacArthur says this about Mark Driscoll:

"His language—even in his sermons—is deliberately crude. He is so well known for using profane language that in Blue Like Jazz (p. 133), Donald Miller (popular author and icon of the “Emerging Church” movement, who speaks of Driscoll with the utmost admiration) nicknamed him “Mark the Cussing Pastor.” I don’t know what Driscoll’s language is like in private conversation, but I listened to several of his sermons. To be fair, he didn’t use the sort of four-letter expletives most people think of as cuss words—nothing that might get bleeped on broadcast television these days. Still, it would certainly be accurate to describe both his vocabulary and his subject matter at times as tasteless, indecent, crude, and utterly inappropriate for a minister of Christ. In every message I listened to, at least once he veered into territory that ought to be clearly marked off limits for the pulpit. Some of the things Driscoll talks
freely and frequently about involve words and subject matter I would prefer not even to mention in public, so I am not going to quote or describe the objectionable parts."
MacArthur ends his post with this:

"I frankly wonder how any Christian who takes the Bible at face value could ever think that in order to be “culturally relevant” Christians should participate in society’s growing infatuation with vulgarity. Didn’t vulgarity and culture used to be considered polar opposites?"

Phil Johnson, who most of you already know from reading TeamPyro had this to say in his post titled "Fed Up"

"I listened to this by Mark Driscoll. I wish I hadn't. Driscoll's smutty language and preoccupation with all things lowbrow are inappropriate, unbecoming, and dishonoring to Christ. I completely agree that many Christians fail to appreciate the true humanity of Jesus. But it's not necessary to get vulgar in order to communicate the truth about His humanity. This is the first time I have ever posted anything critical of Driscoll. I have appreciated his defense of the atonement and his willingness to confront the neo-liberalism of other Emerging leaders honestly. But I don't think his perpetually coarse language in the pulpit and his apparent preoccupation with off-color terms and ribald subject matter are merely minor flaws in an otherwise healthy ministry. It is a serious shortcoming. No, it's actually worse than that, because it blatantly violates the clear principle of Ephesians 5:3-4. It is shameful (v. 12) and therefore a reproach. It's characteristic of the old man and one of the fleshly behaviors we are expressly commanded to put aside (Colossians 3:8). Scripture even seems to indicate that unwholesome language signals an impure mind (Matthew 12:34). And yet this seems to be a deliberate, calculated, and persistent practice of Driscoll's. It is practically the chief trademark of his style. That's troubling, and even more troubling when I see young Christians and older believers who ought to know better mimicking the practice. If this is the direction even the very best Emerging-style ministry is headed, it's not a trend any Christian ought to find encouraging, much less one we should follow."

As it happens, I have a friend who is a member of Mars Hill Church, and when I asked him about the "humor" sermon Driscoll preached not long ago (a part of his "Ask Anything" series) he commented that he "cringes every time he (Driscoll) opens his mouth". Over and over and over again whenever someone blogs about Driscoll, comments come flowing in from folks that say the exact same things Camp, MacArthur and Johnson have all been quoted here as saying, and immediately following (you can set your watch by it, without question) will be "fans" and supporters of Driscoll who will mock insult, berate, and often use the very same offensive language to attack the critics, as Driscoll himself uses and attempts to justify.

So then... what about the much exalted fruit of the ministry of Driscoll? It doesn't take a genius to look much further than the very words (and the flippant, disrespectful attitude behind them) of Driscoll's biggest fans (and folks most influenced by him), to see at least some of the fruit. They speak the same language he does, and they don't care who knows it. He has been their example and he has taught them very well.

So, what business is this of mine? Why do I write about this and why do I care? I've had a few folks ask me that, and it's a valid question. It may seem like I'm not in any way personally affected by all of this, and it may seem like whatever Driscoll is doing and saying 2500 miles away in his Seattle church has no relevance on my life at all. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am personally affected by this because I have a friend that attends MHC, and have spent the last year or so in prayer for this person's family. I know more about what's going on out there that I ever wanted to know, and it personally grieves me, and causes me to spend time in prayer for the leadership out there, as well as the other families directly affected. My husband and I and a couple of close friends have had numerous, in-depth discussions about this and wrestled with all the "public' opinions, and have tried to line it all up with Godly, Biblical answers. That's just the personal side to this and I'll leave it at that.

I care however, for other reasons as well. Namely because, these things matter. Truth matters, conduct matters, influence matters, and who we set up for ourselves (and our children) as teachers and examples, matters as well. It matters so much in fact, the Holy Spirit purposely inspired the words of 1Timothy 3:1-7 to give the mandate for the moral character of a pastor:

It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (NASB - emphasis mine)

If it mattered so much to our heavenly Father to inspire these words by His Holy Spirit, then it certainly should matter to me, and you, and anyone else calling themselves a Christian. Those character traits that I highlighted in that passage should be descriptive of any man in a pastoral role. These are the things a Christian pastor should be known for. When any of those things mentioned above are absent from the conduct and character of a leader in a church, or his reputation is one of highly questionable character, conduct or language, the whole congregation suffers as a result. In our age, with technology being what it is and instant access and influence of pastors, leaders, speakers and authors all around the world, that influence, whether good or bad, affects the Christian church even hundreds or thousands of miles away, almost instantly. It matters because who you're under the authority of in your local church, is almost certainly listening or reading someone that is influencing his thinking, his language, his theology and his basic approach to Christian life in general. If he's listening to godly men with respectable character, then praise be to God for that! This is the wonderful, God glorifying use of this instant-communication technology we all have access to. If however, he's listening to men of highly questionable conduct and speech, then this is a grievous thing and you and your family will also be affected by it.

Just as certainly as iron sharpens iron and a godly man influences another in good ways, bad company will also indeed, corrupt good morals.

So yes, as a mother, a teacher, and a child of God, it all matters a great deal to me, and I'm glad it matters to others as well, regardless of the attacks they come under for the stand they take on it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cool People

Feeling like I needed a little pick-me-up type of project last night, I did this. It's been a while since I've done one, so I figured it was as good a time as any.

I think I'll do a few more, too, just because they're fun to do.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Goodbye Stranger

I don't know how they do it, or how they live with the decision, once they do. Parents who just up and walk out on their kids, and never look back.

I've never checked into it, but it does appear that it's far more common with fathers than with mothers, but I know mothers certainly do it too. In my own little world, I know (and have known) people that grew up without the presence of a dad, or a mom, because that was the situation in their own family. A parent that just walked out the door one day, and didn't come home.

It does something to the mind of a child, to be in that situation. Somewhere deep down they struggle with the "why" and they never really get an answer (or at least not one that ever makes them feel any better). Young children will often make up wild stories to explain to their friends where the parent is, and privately console themselves with an often equally wild excuse. The truth of the matter that the parent is just so self-centered and put their own dreams, desires and interests above the child - that truth is too painful for the child to handle so they just don't. Not until they're older, anyway.

I can count myself among those children who's parent walked out one day and never came back. After my parents divorced when I was three, the last time I saw my dad I was six years old. I remember it like yesterday. My best friend Terry and I were sitting under the pear tree in my front yard, playing with her dolls. We had a blanket layed out in the grass, and her "baby" and my "baby" were all having a picnic. A car pulled up and a man got out. He walked across the grass where we were having our picnic and stopped. He said to me "Carla, do you know who I am?" I didn't, and told him so. He then said "I'm your dad". Well, that was news to me.

My friend Terry knew my dad didn't live with us, and at seven years old somehow she knew enough to make herself scarce in such an awkward situation. She picked up her dollies and headed across the street to her house. As for me, I just turned and ran to the back door yelling "mom!" to tell her that he was there. I think she was just as much in shock as the rest of us, if not more.

I don't know how long he stayed in town, maybe a day or two. I do remember thinking somewhere in my little brain, that maybe he'd stay forever and everything would be like my friends who had dads in their houses. I also remember feeling very uncomfortable, and tense. When he left life just went on like life does, and that was that. That was the summer of 1970 (maybe 71, I'm not exactly sure), and I never saw him again.

It never really occured to me before today (probably because I've never really given a whole lot of thought to it) that if I were completely honest with myself I'd have to admit that a significant contributing factor to my insecure nature (always feeling like I don't fit in anywhere, and I'm too complicated for anyone to bother with getting to know), would have to be layed at the feet of my dad. When one of the most important people in a little kid's world betrays them and leaves them, it does things to the thinking process of a child. Some kids grow up and learn how to cope with these thoughts and ideas, where other kids never really do. I think for myself I just never really took the time to look closer at it, and set it on the shelf. I don't really have a lot of time in the day to be sitting around analyzing my personality quirks, so I just don't bother.

In a most ironic course of events today, something (completely unrelated to this - and in an online context) was said to me that hurt me and insulted me a great deal. In talking to Kevin about it, it occured to me that the reason it hurt so much was because I'm just not nearly as thick-skinned as some people think I am. Kevin advised that I just let it go and try hard not to take it too personally. I knew he was right, so that's what I tried to do. It did leave me in a state of introspection a little bit, since I was trying hard to both figure out why it upset me so much, as well as truly just let it go.

Not long after this, while still in that horrible mood that I get in that leaves me thinking "folks don't like you anyway, this shouldn't surprise you", I got some news that pretty much blew me out of the water. I learned that my dad has passed away. The dad I never knew, the dad I always wished was a good dad, the dad I never had any connection with, other than DNA.

When I first got the news, one of my very first thoughts was sadness that a dad I never knew, was gone. Not long after that thought, was "I wonder if he ever came to know Jesus?" I will never know, in this lifetime.

As I write this, my nose is starting to itch and my eyes are welling up. I believe I'm grieving for the parent I never had. I think it's also a reality-kick-in-the-head that whatever it was that caused him to walk away when I was a little girl, kept him away the rest of his life. He did contact me once when I was 21, and we talked twice on the phone. Both of those were the strangest phone calls I'd ever had, since I was talking to a complete stranger. After those phone calls, there were no others, and I never heard from him again - just like the whole time I was growing up.

As I sat here and thought about this tonight, the old cliche "children learn how to be parents, from their parents" came to mind. In my case, it's absolutely true. I learned from a fantastic example what it looks and feels like to be a dedicated mom, from my mom - and I learned exactly what never to do as a parent, from my dad. My mom doesn't like it when I go on about her here (and yes, regular readers know that she reads and comments on this old blog), but the truth of the matter is, she was and still is, my hero. She raised three little kids alone, and no doubt did it with many tearful nights hidden away where us kids couldn't see her fall apart. Growing up, we had a "cool" mom who not only made us follow the rules, but laughed & played with us, and worked full time (and a lot of over time) to make sure we had what we needed. She was both mom and dad to her kids, and we thought (and still do!) the world of her.

I talked to her briefly tonight after learning that my dad had died. I think part of the reason I have watery eyes now, is because when we both got the news, we didn't have watery eyes. We both felt a very real sense of detachment at first, like you do when you read some stranger's obituary. A sense of compassion for the family, but no personal reaction at all since you had no connection to him. I think I cried tonight because there was nothing to miss, to cry over. It's a most surreal feeling.

While I've made my share of parenting mistakes (who hasn't?), I just hope my own kids never write about what they learned how not to do from me, like I did about that man who had to tell me he was my dad. He was an example allright, but an example of how you never treat your children. For now, it's simply goodbye stranger. Maybe it's emotional, maybe it's somehow biological, maybe it's spiritual or maybe its all of the above, but I have never experienced a feeling quite like this before.

I do sincerely hope however, that he heard the gospel of Christ and came to know Him in a very real and saving way.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Scattered Plans

Saturdays are frustrating. Some folks say they're for slobbing around all day in your favorite jammy pants and comfy t-shirt. I'm all for that, but that might interfere with running errands and doing all those things that can't get done during the week, while you're in weekday/school-day/work-day mode. Some folks seem to think running errands in their jammy pants is socially acceptable, however. I have two words for those people: grow a brain cell, would you!? (Fine, it's more than two, but sometimes you just have to say it like it is.)

Our plan today was to head out on the highway and go look at some properties for a relative moving out here. Yeah, that would have been great, except the weather folks tossed up this big ole jump-up-and-slap-you-in-the-head yellow banner on the weather page that says "winter storm watch continued". Rumor has it, Texas is sending us a creepy ice storm. I don't know if it's icey in Texas, but whatever this system is down south, combined with the cold air we've got here in CanoodleLand, the warning is for massive amounts of freezing rain & ice pellets to begin first thing in the morning, and last ALL day. Yay, insta-rink. Yay NOT, missing church, again. We're really hoping this storm loses all it's steam before it gets here.

Because of the storm, Kev made the executive decision to spend today hauling in firewood from under the 900 feet of snow it's buried under. It's buried under all that snow because we just keep GETTING snowed on, before we had the time to bring the wood inside. It's crazy, I tell ya.

So, we're not going to look at properties and that left me with a variety of options on how to spend the day. After my morning coffee and some store related work, I have numerous choices.

• I could go run a couple of much needed errands while the sun is shining (and take my camera in case I see something cool that oughta be captured on a digital canvas).

• I could do some laundry and get our clothes ready for church tomorrow, assuming we're not encased in a foot of ice when we wake up in the morning.

• I could respond to a comment I read elsewhere this morning that said "I hate Christian t-shirts".

• I could continue with a research project I am working on.

• I could begin a writing project I was offered.

• I could take my coffee and favorite fleece blankey and go read The God Who Justifies in the living room.

• I could go to the kitchen and make the applesauce we're having for dinner tonight, or the chocolate chip cookies we're having for dessert.

• I could sit here and catch up on my blog reading.

• I could download audio programs I missed this week.

• I could play scrabulous with my mom and sister (and Kev, and Clyde, and Tamara).

• I could finish a blog post I started yesterday about how insanely pragmatic evangelicals have become, and how it's so common that most of us don't even bat an eye at it.

Yep, those are my options. Knowing myself well enough to know I can't have a list without actually doing everything on it, I'll probably do them all (or at least most of them), and many of them at the same time. Whatever I do, I better get started before Kev comes inside and sees me still sitting here in my jammy pants, doing nothing but typing. :-)

And people wonder why I look tired all the time. It's because of Saturdays!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pyro Fridays?

No, not that Pyro... my cat, Pyro. Yes, his name is Pyro and no, the name choice had nothing to do with the bloggers.

Here's the thing..

Pyro keeps hearing all about this Toby Tuesdays business over at Jen's, and he's not all that happy about it. See, in PyroWorld, if Toby gets to have a whole DAY, he thinks it's about time he gets mentioned a little more around here.

So, today he decided he'd pull a few stunts and see if I'd get the camera out. Apparently he knows the right buttons to push, because that's what happened.

homeschool Pyro?

Poor Samuel, all he wanted to do was finish his grammar lesson. Pyro clearly had other plans.

The problem was, he couldn't show off how cute he really is with a grammar book in the picture, and on Samuel's too small desk, so he had to move over to Jordan's desk when she got up to sharpen her pencil:

goofy kitty

The only problem was, the crayons were in his way, so he had to use Rachel's desk, for his head rest.

If you click to view the original size of that first picture, you can almost make out that he was sticking his tongue out at poor Toby, as if to say "top that, bubba".


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Mind Tricks for Free

Normally I just delete things that arrive in email with a "FWD" at the very beginning of the subject line. For some reason though, I opened this one instead.

Read each picture carefully, then see the note at the bottom.






Okay... what were your results? Did it work? Does anyone have any idea how this works? I thought it was pretty clever, but that's only because it actually worked on me, after I changed my selection of cards, before I scrolled down. I was trying to outsmart it, but it still worked on me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let your voice be heard

I received this in email this afternoon. I've already clicked and voted. I'm hoping all my Canadian readers will do the same (and share this link with their Canadian readers, friends & families)

Currently the Globe and Mail is conducting a poll on the question of whether or not the Father of Abortion in Canada (Henry Morgentaler) should be awarded the highest honour in Canada that can be given to acivilian: The Order Of Canada.

The reason for the poll is a radically aggressive group of Canadians currently lobbying hard for this award to be granted to him. It is as easy as a click of a button to raise your voice on this one.

As of this afternoon the poll was 84% opposed. Let's see if we can get it up to 99% and make a very strong statement to the nation!

Click RIGHT HERE to cast your vote.

It's Official: SNOW DAY!!!

I was given the opportunity today for a writing project that I'm really looking forward to, and feel honored to have. The subject of this project will be a peek into the daily life of a homeschooling family.

Here's today's pictorial peek:

As I was preparing the classroom (otherwise known as the game room) and myself for today's lessons, the kids discovered that the snowplow came early this morning and made their little hill, a great BIG hill

yay, sledding!

Since you simply cannot go outside around here without the obligatory Beagle Escort, they were being properly supervised by Tulip

Beagle Supervision

It was all very exciting, until...


Until the tractor showed up again. No matter about the kid laying flat in the driveway, tractors and Beagles go together like peanut butter and jelly. Tractors are much more exciting than kids anyway.

Back at the Rolfe Ranch Toboggan Hill (formerly knowns as "the driveway") the girls are practicing their Double Decker Sledding technique.

twice the fun

So, how did school go today? Well, since I'm the Educational Superintendant (and the principle, and the teacher, and the mom, and the photographer), I get the responsibility of making such executive decisions as declaring a SNOW DAY. We did have our family prayer this morning, and we did go over our spelling lesson, but beyond that - it's officially our FIRST snow day this school year. The way I see it, if you're going to have so much snow you can't get the back door open more than 12 inches (and I'm not even sure it's opening that far), and if the wind isn't blowing and the sun is shining, you might as well get out there and fly down that hill.

You're only a kid once, and thankfully the snow is only around for so long before it's Slush City out there. The Bible lessons, borrowing from the tens column, rules for adding the suffix "y" and cursive handwriting practice will still be here when snow day is over.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Last Days: Heartless

I honestly can't say what it was about the Amy Fisher/Joey Buttafuoco case in the news so many years ago, that intrigued me, and at the same time horrified me. Maybe it was because I was a young wife at the time and identified with Mary Jo Buttafuoco in a way. Maybe it was because I'd seen Amy Fisher's picture on the news and it was hard to wrap my brain around the idea that this cute little girl was capable of doing what she did. Maybe it was because in highschool, I knew a few "Amy Fisher" types that my friends and I used to comment about that they might be in the news some day. I wasn't a Christian in highschool, nor was I a Christian when Amy Fisher committed her crime and shot the wife of her boyfriend right at her own front door. The way I thought about the case at the time is much different than the way I think about it today.

The only reason I even did think about it today, was because Amy Fisher is in the news once again, this time just boasting of the fact that she doesn't feel the least bit sorry for the victim of her crime. She justifies this, according to the news report, by saying her victim made more money off the crime/notoriety than she did.

I know we're not supposed to be surprised when the unsaved speak like the unsaved, but sometimes the things they say or do, indeed register on my "oh wow" scale. Even as an unsaved person myself when the crime was big news, I recall having discussions with friends about the taboo nature of having a relationship with a married man. That was something that was just unthinkable for myself and my friends, but to take it to the level that Fisher did was simply beyond unthinkable. All these years later, for Fisher to have no sympathy for the woman she shot in the head, is still simply beyond unthinkable to me. My thinking process can't grasp the idea of not feeling sympathy for someone, let alone someone you yourself violently hurt.

I think this is what the Bible specifically means when it says that in the last days there will be dangerous times where it will be common for people to be "without natural affection". (2Tim.3:3) This same Greek word used in the KJV astorgos is also used to list a moral character trait among all the other ugly ones, to describe the folks God gives over to their reprobate minds in Romans 1:31. In the NASB, the word is simply translated to "unloving". I would have to conclude that unloving certainly covers a multitude of expressions (or non-expressions, as it were) of compassion, sympathy or concern.

Even knowing that the Bible tells us that there are people like this, and that in the last days (which are now) we will see it and experience it with an increasing frequency, it's still very hard to make my puny little brain go there. The only phrase I can even come up with to describe this is "the sinfulness of sin". Maybe the wickedness of wicked? The vileness of vile, or the utter heartlessness of heartless?

I can't understand a human being that has no care or concern for another human being. To me, someone like that just seems less than human, somehow.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Originally posted 1/31/08 - UPDATED 2/11/08

While reading The God Who Justifies last night, I came across this:

" Justification by faith is commensurate with grace and only with grace. There is a fundamental contradiction between faith and works, and between grace and law. Only the empty hand of faith fits in God's powerful hand of grace. Like a key that only fits in a particular lock, so faith is the sole key that matches the lock of grace." - James White, The God Who Justifies

I read that, then stopped and read it again, and then one more time. Beautiful was the only word I could think of to express how well that was stated. Kevin came in the room a few minutes later and asked how I liked this book so far, and I had to go back to that page and read it outloud to him (even though he's already read the book). While neither of us have read all James White's books, between the two of us we've read quite a few, and we both agree this is the best of what we've read so far. If you haven't read it, do get a copy. You will be blessed.


If this doesn't load properly for you, you can access this youtube video here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

So then... what DO we make of it?

Mike Corley at The Expositor asks: What are we to make of it? I was going to leave a reply at his blog, but the more I wrote the more I realized how long this was really going to be. Therefore, I would just encourage you to read his post first, and consider this my reply to his questions, and statements.

Corley wonders, since noted men like CJ Mahaney, John Piper, Tim Keller and Mark Dever have established relationships with Mark Driscoll and his ministry, if just maybe those in ministry, bloggers or individuals that have strongly criticized Driscoll and his ministry, have "jumped the gun and drew conclusions without knowing all the facts".

In other words Corley is saying that the endorsement of these men is enough to make him wonder if all the critics have been wrong.

Corley also states:

"It’s time we take a cold, hard, scriptural look at these ministries that so “offend” us, and get over having our personal feelings hurt, and do what is right."
As I read that, I sat here and shook my head. I don't know Mike Corley but I see him saying the same thing so many others have said before. The idea that IF a person is well-liked by key people among the evangelical church, then that means you or I or anyone else that doesn't think they're okay at all in certain areas, just need to hush up and go away, and get over our personal feelings being hurt.

While Corley is specifically talking about Driscoll, Darrin Patrick (who I know very little about - us prudish homeschool mom types are generally too busy churning our own butter to invest much time into researching people) and the Acts29 ministry, I'd much rather make this a more general approach. Although, it should come as no surprise whatsoever that I have no issue with stating that I find Driscoll to be an intentionally offensive, foul-mouthed, obnoxious, power-hungry young pastor who quite frankly, in my ever so humble opinion, has become far too big for his britches, as some might say. Does he have a proper, Biblical understanding of soteriology? Does he "get the gospel right" as many are so fond of focusing on? I believe he does for the most part, and while that's a good thing, it certainly doesn't "make up for" his widely known and much critiqued irreverance or his intentional obnoxiousness (consistantly noted even among those who otherwise heartily endorse him, as well as some members of his own church, who are not nearly as dazzled by him as many who constantly sing his praises) . If the personal character of a pastor were not vitally important, the Holy Spirit would have never inspired 1Timothy 3:1-7. While that is MY opinion and observation of Driscoll, I'd like to set him aside and look at the bigger picture here, if at all possible. To me, the bigger picture sets the standard for how any of us should Biblically address any of these details anyway.

Three things in all this stand out to me:

1. Blanket Acceptance of the Endorsement of Well Known Pastors
2. The Assumption of Personal Hurt Feelings/Implying that the offense is not Biblical
3. Bandwagon Jumping - both sides of the fence

As it pertains to #1, it basically goes like this:

Three out of five well-known, well-respected evangelical leaders surveyed said "we like this guy, you should too!" (and that's supposed to be enough for the rest of us to say "oh, okay!"??)

Apparently that's the way it supposed to work. If they like, support and promote him and minister with him in various conference settings, then you TOO are suppose to just accept that because they are who they are and you are nobody. Get it? Well, no, I don't get it. Maybe I'd get it if I were Roman Catholic, but I'm not.

I have nothing but respect for these pastors (mentioned above), even though I may not agree with some of what they have to say, at times. But does respecting them automatically mean that their opinion is the infallibly accurate opinion? I would venture to say that they themselves would never claim this. The problem is, it ISN'T the leading evangelical pastors that are saying this about themselves, it's others who are adamant that you or I or anyone else with a different opinion just sit down and stop disagreeing because such and so pastor has already gone on record as having a different opinion than yours. Again, and with all due respect, so what? Should we just stick our heads in the sand and follow the party line? If my favorite evangelical leader (aside from my pastor) publicly states that he just adores Benny Hinn, Robert Schueller or Joel Osteen am I supposed to fall in lock-step and accept what they said? (Obviously I'm being extreme here, for the sake of making a point). Of course I'm not going to just accept a blanket endorsement of someone, just because of the status of the person making the endorsement. They might be well liked, they might be sound doctrinally, and they might be a most engaging and dynamic speaker, but that does not mean that their personal opinion of someone is the standard, or that it even should be the standard.

In a factual example, Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church wrote a glowing endorsement for a book by Adele Calhoun (which I blogged about here), promoting all kinds of eastern mystic/pagan rituals and practices. In his endorsement, he said he has long profited from Calhoun's work and that he was looking forward to using the book as a resource in his own church. In a very interesting combox discussion here as a result of this post, pastor Keller stated that after years of study and examination of his own heart, he has simply come to a different position on eastern mystic practices than those who openly critique them.

So, back to Mike Corley's question, what are we to make of this? Do we all dash out to the local Christian bookstore and grab a copy of an eastern mystic ritual book now, since Tim Keller once endorsed one? (In all fairness, I don't know if he'd still endorse this book or not, but he did when this particular one came out). Or, do we follow our own convictions that such things are completely against the teachings of Scripture? If in fact they are against the teachings of Scripture (and I certainly believe they are), what then do we do with Keller's endorsement? One of us is wrong, that much is obvious - but what we DO with that fact, is an interesting situation in this pesky little habit of people wanting "critics" to hush up and go away, if we dare disagree with someone well-known and well-liked. (As a side note, I do want to express that I appreciated pastor Keller coming along and at least taking the time to address these questions here. In the grand evangelical scheme of things, I am an official nobody, while pastor Keller is a somebody. I was encouraged that he took time out to briefly discuss this here).

Which interestingly enough brings me right into point #2. Corley (and many others, I might add) suggests that critics are critics due to a personal nature, and not for any kind of Biblical reason. Now maybe I read Corley wrong, but that's what I got out of what he said. If we're taking this cold, hard look at what the Scriptures say on these matters, one can only assume Corley means to say that this hasn't been done prior to expressing critique. I find it ironic though, that the defenders of people such as Rick Warren and Joel Osteen will say the exact same thing - and will quote all kinds of verses (out of context of course) about loving our neighbor and not being judgemental, etc. so forth and so on, while conveniently ignoring whole passages of Scripture that pertain to holiness in speech and conduct, reverance for God, and being circumspect in the last days where false teachers are in such abundance, that we're to be diligent in such matters.

The fact of the matter is, of all the various ministry and evangelical movement critics I've read over the last several years the vast majority of them do not criticize based on personal opinion or "feeling" but from a reasoned, rational and clear Biblical worldview. We may not all agree with everything we read or hear, but in the interest of fairness I think it's prudent to point out that these folks do come at these things from a Scriptural point of view. Granted, this is certainly subjective but I'd venture to guess we all read/listen to many of the same folks, and these are men that are not usually defined by "hurt feelings". Sure, there are some folks out there that just vent for the sake of venting (and you can always tell that's what they're doing), but let's be honest and admit that most folks that are going to take the time to express a fair and reasonable critique of a modern evangelical movement or ministry are going to do so from a Biblical worldview, not from a position of personal angst or hurt feelings. You may disagree on this, but this is my experience.

And this brings me right to point #3. Corley suggests that those who critique Driscoll, etc., are just doing it because they've jumped on the bandwagon and may not even know what in the world they're talking about. I would agree with him in part. While I would prefer to make this a general application of conduct and not about Driscoll, I do have to say that it is true and that some people have simply based their opinion of him based on what others have said (and they have admitted that they've done this, which is the only reason I can say that this is true - based on their own honesty). I would like to point out however... that this is so ironic, I can barely type this without wanting to laugh (problem is, it's not funny). Corley rightly critiques those who have jumped on the bandwagon armed with nothing but the opinion of others - but then in the very same post, makes the implication that if key evangelical leaders endorse him, then who are we to judge? Now I know it's not just me, but the inconsistancy in that is simply glaring. If we are going to be critical then we need to be so based on facts, not on heresay. Likewise, if we are going to support someone we also need to do so based on first hand information, not just because someone more famous than we are, supports them.

This bandwagon jumping is done from both sides of this issue, and it's actually not always a bad thing. Jerry Bridges has a book out right now called Respectable Sins. It's a great book that I first heard about through a friend who knows this brother and discussed the book with him last fall. Before long I noticed more and more bloggers who had the book, were reading through the book and blogging about it. Not long after that, my own pastor mentioned the book and said he's planning a sermon series based on the book. I got the book myself and read it, and have heartily recommended it to others who are also now reading it. We all jumped on the Jerry Bridge's bandwagon, and it's been a really good thing. In this example, those who jumped on the bandwagon did it based on the opinions of others, but have also taken the time to investigate the matter being so heavily endorsed. That makes all the difference.

Where it can be a bad thing, is when we (no matter which side of the issue we land on) simply take up a cause because someone else did. Someone that we admire, or highly respect. This should be obvious, but this is exactly what many of us are expected to do as it pertains to Driscoll. We're expected to be perfectly accepting of whatever he says and does, because men like Mahaney, Piper, etc. appear to be (at least publicly) accepting of what he says and does (or at the very least don't have as much of an issue with him as some others do). While I will stress once again that I really do not want to make this about Driscoll, it's pretty hard to leave him completely out of the application, based on Corley's statements.

Lest anyone think I'm picking on Corley, I assure you I'm not. I don't know the man, and for all I know he's a perfectly pleasant brother. What I do know is that his post is a great example of the very same message I've been seeing for some time now. Where on the ecumenical side of things folks just want everyone to get along and sing Kumbaya (at the cost of sound doctrine, which we all know just divides anyway, and Jesus just wants us to love everyone), now we're seeing a sort of flip-side to this, in that as long as you call yourself (or others assume you are) "reformed", or as long as you "get the gospel right", nothing else seems to matter. Or, nothing else seems to matter enough to make a difference in what we're so eager to accept.

So with all of that said, what is the bigger picture that I mentioned above? To me it's really simple, and the answer is the same to that question as it is to Mike Corley's question of "what are we to make of it?" I'll answer it with a few questions of my own:

• Do we do what we do and say what we say for the applause of men, or the glory of God?

• Do we accept and support a ministry or pastor based on his own merits, or do we just nod our heads in approval because someone we like has supported them?

• Do we take the time to do our own homework, or do we just hoot & holler and say "yeah, what HE said!"?

• Are we Bereans, and does Biblical discernment really matter, or do we just give a lot of lip-sevice to both?

Those questions apply to me before they apply to anyone else, and for me, they're some pretty serious questions.

At the end of the day, it's OKAY to disagree with someone you respect. It doesn't automatically mean they're right, and it doesn't automatically mean you're right, but it should give you good cause to search the Scriptures to get a better understanding of why you're disagreeing, and cause you to feel humbled, teachable, and eager to grow in grace. It may turn out that you were wrong, and it may turn out that THEY were wrong. Not one of us has "arrived" yet, and it's a huge mistake to assume anyone has, no matter how well-known, or how unknown they might be. None of this should be about personality, but it should all be approached from the perspective that God's opinion is the only one that really matters.

Sometimes I think we all forget that, even if just for a moment.