Monday, March 31, 2008

Natives and Nomads: Digital Youth

POLL RESULTS BELOW

Albert Mohler has a really good piece today at his blog about the kinds of folks that live in the digital world. I would encourage you to read it, and give it some thought.

This is one of those areas that I'm somewhat split on, and have been for many years. Living in the country where we cannot get a signal, we're essential rotary dial, instead of digital. I know that just using the word "rotary" I've already confused a large part of the population, were they to actually be sitting here reading my blog. Living also on a strict budget, we're not one of those families where all the kids have ipods, blackberries and laptops in every room. We do have 2 desktop computers, and we just got a cell phone last summer, but I've still never used it.

There are some things that bother me about digital youth, and the biggest thing about it is socialization. I know how funny that sounds coming from a homeschooler, but when you really think about it, there's merit there. If all your closest friends are those 427 people on your facebook, what kind of face to face interpersonal communication skills have you really developed? Further, if you honestly think those people meet the description of "friend" (as opposed to aquaintance, or associate) then what does that say? While it is indeed possible to develop genuine friendships with folks you meet first online, I don't care who you are, no one has 400 friends, by the strict definition of the word.

The other thing that bothers me about going digital is that I honestly wonder what happens to the old school way of doing things once everyone has gone digital? Do we forget how to pick up a book, or what to do with it once its in hand? Will we no longer rely on our memory if everyone's phone, cell, email and website url is auto-programmed for a one button click? In addition, do we honestly need to be plugged in, at 14 years old?

In one really interesting example, I noticed how the digital age has actually replaced several people in the photography studio. Last year when our church had the pictorial directory done, the entire process was done by 2 people. The photographer used a digital camera. When she was done with a shoot, she popped the media card out of the camera, popped it into a media reader and sent the best of the set into another office for the salesman to show the families - in case they wanted to order additional portraits. Now, I worked in a commercial photography studio for years, and this process not only cut out about 2 weeks time, but it also cut out several jobs. Yes it's highly convenient, and yes it cuts down wait time by an incredible speed, but... is that the most important thing?

podheadI know that if we lived in town where high speed net access was available, we'd have it. I know I'd also dearly love to have a laptop so that on those gorgeous days when I'm working I could do it from the deck so that I could hear the birds sing and just enjoy being outside, even if I'm working. But I think that's about as digital as I really would like to go, for myself. For my kids, I'm still old school and don't want to see them getting sucked into it and becoming the kinds of kids that have to remove ear buds to have a conversation with anyone, face to face.

Not long ago I created a design for my store called podhead, which most of you likely saw in the 'new in store' tab here on the sidebar. Several people commented to me (on and offline) that this is the symbol for young people today - and I agree. I see it everywhere I go, and I'm sure you do too. While the design was done in humor, I just have to wonder where this is all leading, and what (and who) will suffer as a result.

Of course I know that it's all very convenient, and it's also all very useful. I'm not throwing the baby out with the bathwater here, I just find myself concerned about a balance.

So, I've got a new poll and I'd love to hear your thoughts. This one is different in that you can click as many answers that apply to you personally, so feel free to click away. Oh, the irony.

Final poll results:

HAVE YOU GONE DIGITAL?

cell phone 22 (73%)
Camera 18 (60%)
Laptop 16 (53%)
mp3 players 15 (50%)
Completely wireless, thanks 11 (36%)
PDA 8 (26%)
Dial up is what nightmares are made of 5 (16%)
Not really 4 (13%)
All of the above 4 (13%)
gamer consoles 3 (10%)
Half & half, maybe 3 (10%)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

When a blog cures your foot pain...

Way back in the summer of 2005, Phil Johnson began a blog. I thought "yes! this is going to be good stuff!!" Little did I know then, just how good.

Now, most people who read TeamPyro probably read it for all the theological/cultural issues they address over there. They've covered everything from the gift of tongues to taming the tongue, predestination to post-evangelicism, meat chubs, pteradactyls and punk/emo chicks named Chiquita (your theological/cultural mileage on those last three topics may vary). It's been a most entertaining blog - and at times a most maddening one too, for a lot of people, and for a lot of different reasons. Most folks don't even know this, but our insane beagle, Tulip, has a middle name courtesy of none other than the lead matchstick handler over there (that would be Phil). Tulip's middle name? Chiquita, of course.

Yes indeed, Phil Johnson's contribution to the Christian blogging (web 2.0) community has been just as profound and helpful as his contribution to web 1.0 was, when he put up his first website years ago. One such post that I personally found extremely useful, was this one here: "Monday Menagerie VII - PyroManiac devotes Monday space to esoteric and offbeat things, in the hope that these will supply learning experiences for us all".

In this post (you already clicked it anyway) Phil opens with his profound dedication to Tiger Balm. You think I'm exagerrating? I kid you not:


"I love the stuff. It's an herbal ointment with almost magical properties." - Phil Johnson
Well, that was enough of an endorsement for me, so not long after he posted this nearly 3 years ago, I went out and bought some. Tiger Balm Red, in fact - sports balm. I've used just about every kind of balm/rub/ointment out there (mostly for my neck, but for other stuff too) and the product just never really lives up to the hype, you know? Some of it works better than others, but none of it seemed to really DO what it's advertised as being able to do.

Scroll back up now and read that quote from Phil about 'almost magical properties'. He wasn't kidding.

All last week I spent every spare moment painting my son's room. It's going to be very cool when it's done - the ceiling is Spiderman blue, the walls are white and the shelves I'm in the process of intalling are also Spiderman blue (or, they will be when I'm done with them). Where the walls meet the ceiling, your eye is drawn to an explosion of white clouds, that perfectly blend the stark white walls into the deep blue ceiling. The only real problem has been how high those ceilings are.

I've never measured, but my ladder is a 6 foot ladder. I'm 5'8", and when I stand on the second to top (never stand on the top of the ladder, you'll fall off and it'll hurt, a lot, plus you'll feel like a giant bonehead whenever you have to tell someone you were standing on the very top where EVERYONE knows you're not supposed to stand) step, the ceiling is still a good foot or more above my head. I'm going to guess they're 14 foot ceilings. All the ceilings in the house are like this - except the dining room and upstairs hallway and bathroom. For whatever reason, those ceilings have all been lowered over the years. Painting ceilings that high, and especially painting them with any kind of minute detail work (like the cloud explosion) is rather back breaking work. I've been doing a lot of reaching, stretching, and straining to get the work done, and get it done right. The weirdest thing is, what has suffered the most are the muscles in my feet. It might seem sort of strange, but I do work like this barefoot, and in my barefeet I've been doing so much balancing and standing on my tiptoes, that my feet are more sore than they were the year I practically lived in roller skates, in the 7th grade.

I'm finally done with the hardest part - the painting - so I went looking for the Tiger Balm I bought 3 years ago at Phil Johnson's recommendation. Now, the bottom of the tin says it expired in October of '06, but truth be told, I think it just aged really well like a fine cheese. I popped off the lid - warned the family that if anyone had a stuffed nose within 20 feet of me, to get ready to be cured - and gave myself a foot rub with the Red. Well, I have to tell you that within seconds, the throbbing pain in my feet was GONE, and even after the balm wore off, they didn't hurt nearly as much as they had. In a word? It works, and it works like it's supposed to.

So there you have it - homecare tips from the barefoot painter, and everyone's favorite FireStarter, Phil Johnson.

:-)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Smattering

I have a few things I wanted to comment on, but none really worth their own post, so I just figured I'd stick them all together in one shot:

ReflectionSpotting?

Recently our friend Dr. James White was in VA for a debate with Nadir Ahmed on the topic, "Can We Trust What the New Testament Says about Jesus and the Gospel?" Another friend and TeamApologian crew member James Swan blogged about it here. I know that for many people this sort of thing is quite fascinating and interesting (and it certainly is), but James Swan had something else to say that was pretty exciting for me, personally.

He told me at the debate, he noticed a fellow debate attendee, wearing one of these. I thought that was pretty cool. :-)

Speaking of cool, and the store, this week's newsletter is now up, and we've got some really nifty stuff in the works - several new sections coming soon (just in time for Mothers Day... and Fathers Day!) - so stay tuned!

Dutch Lessons

Our almost 18 year daughter is dating a nice Dutch boy. His family immigrated to Canada just a few years ago, and they are members of our church. We like the parents quite a bit (and the kids too). They have very serious and important conversations quite often, like the one they had this morning, about the cartoon show Bananas in Pajamas. Chatting on msn messenger this morning, she had this as her personal quote:

"Bananas...In pajamas...are walking down the stairs" ...ya cuz THATS something u wanna wake up to"
So he told her that he watched that show in Holland when he was a kid, and the song went this way:

bananen in pyjama's, ze komen naar benee...bananen in pyjama's altijd met z'n twee
This concludes our Dutch lesson for today. Go ahead and sing that outloud if you like.

Ironic Life

Just hours after I posted earlier this week about being content in whatever situation you find yourself in, God in His divine wisdom gave me an opportunity to prove to myself that I really meant what I said.

Yet another opportunity came up that sounded like a really fanastic thing, and I was deeply disappointed when I learned that it would be just another in a long line of opportunities that I have to take a raincheck on. I have so many rainchecks now, that we'd have to have another global flood for me to spend them all.

This has happened so much in the last few years, that I really should be used to it by now, and yet I still have that sense of deep disappointment when the thing I was hoping for or looking forward to, doesn't come to pass. It happened when my step-dad died three years ago and I was not able to fly home and be with my mom, even though I'd planned it, and a dear friend went out of her way to help me get a quick and inexpensive flight. It happened when a huge event I was planning (planning for nearly a year) completely imploded at the very last minute and the whole thing was called off. It's happened for big things, small things, and things that relate to the kids, or the family. It seems to be such a common pattern - I often feel like I should come to expect it, or at the very least expect the possibility of the disappointment and be prepared ahead of time, for that.

More than that, as I said in the previous post, I should be completely okay with it, knowing full well that all of these things are in God's hand, and what He knows and does, is best.

I will confess that I did indeed kick myself all day for feeling discouraged, disappointed, and for pouting (I pout really well, if it were an Olympic event, I'd have gold by now), and for failing my own convictions. Truly I did mean every word I said about contentment, and truly I see that this is still an area in which I have so much more learning to do.

That about wraps things up. I'm going shopping for pine board shelving for my son's room. Yay, Saturday in the lumber store - what could possibly be MORE exciting? (No, I'm not being sarcastic, I really do love the lumber store and the smell of sawdust).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Signs of Spring

Yesterday while I was working upstairs, I passed by my bedroom window and noticed a dark lump, way out by the mailbox. One of our pair of binoculars happened to be sitting right there so I grabbed them and zoomed in on the mysterious dark lump. As it turned out, he was no ordinary dark lump, he was a napping 'coon, sitting just off the road in a snowy field.

Nap

(click picture to see larger view)


A couple of hours later he was still there having his daily snooze, so I went out with the camera to take his picture. I love him! Doesn't he look incredibly soft? Yes, I know his claws aren't soft and I know him and his friends like to mess around with trash cans, but I still love him, he's so cute! I did wonder why he was sleeping on the ground, since I've only seen them sleep in trees, so I went looking and found this nifty site that explains it. I was a little concerned that maybe he was hurt (like I was going to help him? He'd likely rip my face off), but apparently raccoons do like to sleep on the ground, as well as in trees.

Seeing him yesterday, and also seeing that green pointy stuff sticking out beneath the snow, is a sure bet that spring really is just right around the corner - despite the 2 inches of new snow we got overnight. This time of year, I don't really mind snow in the forecast because you know it's not going to be around for the next 6 months.

A few other signs of spring I've noticed this past week:

Lady bugs, wild turkeys, red winged blackbirds, and the sound of birds chirping in the morning, just outside my window. Yes indeed, spring really is just around the corner.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Store Stuff: FREE shipping

If you were thinking about ordering anything from my store (and I'm sure you were!), now would be a good time to do that:

free is a great price

FREE SHIPPING on any order of $60 or more* - ends Saturday March 29.

Use the coupon code EARTHSHIP60 at checkout

*Free Economy or Standard shipping for purchases of $60 or more, excluding shipping charges and applicable sales tax. Delivery address must be within the United States. All orders will be Economy shipping unless the order is not eligible for Economy shipping (e.g., order exceeds Economy weight restrictions). Coupon code must be entered at check out. Promotion starts on March 25, at 12:00 a.m. (PST) and ends on March 29, 2008 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). Cannot be combined with any other offers, discounts or coupons and this offer may change, be modified or cancelled at anytime without notice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Life Seasons

When I was in highschool and also when the older girls were younger, I used to play baseball. I loved it, and looked forward to spring every year for that very reason. We lived in town, and our family schedule just revolved around practice, games and tournaments. On the nights we had games at what would be our normal dinner time, we either ate early, ate on the run, or ate after the game. The girls knew every diamond in the county, which ones had the best concession stands, which ones had playgrounds, and which ones were by the water. They had their favorites (and so did I) and they had the ones they'd groan about when they heard where that night's game would be. Its just what we did, during that time in my life and it was quite normal for us. This is now a different time in my life, and there is just no way (aside from the fact that I'm 15 years older) our family could accomodate such a routine. We have our own routine and a much different schedule. It's a different season.

In the last few weeks, we've been invited to four different conferences/concerts/events, and have had to decline all of those invitations. All of the events are 2+ hours away, and due to the present circumstances/schedules, it's just not a possibility for us to be able to pick up and attend such things, as much as we would dearly love to do that. In whining talking about this to a dear friend of mine recently, she reminded me that it's not our season to do that. Not just now. I liked the way she put that, because life does indeed come in different seasons, for different times.

In my sniveling conversation with my friend, I was once again reminded about what the Bible teaches us about being content in the circumstances that we're in. Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he had learned in whatever state he was in, to be content. 1Tim. 6:6 says that godliness with contentment is great gain, and Heb 13:5 reminds us to be content with what we have. Its very clear in Scripture that being content, or being satisfied with where you are, what you have, and whatever is currently going on, is key to living a peaceful life. It's also very clear to me that for me, this is one of the hardest things I've had to learn, and am still learning.

Like anyone else I'm sure, my life has been filled with all sorts of ups and downs. While some folks manage to get through life with relatively few extreme events and lead what some might call a "charmed life", most of us have a story to tell. Most of us have things that have happened in our lives that might make the listener sit on the edge of their seat, just to find out what happened next. In general, life is just full of things like this. While the specific details of my life story might be different from the next person, the stories themselves are usually the same in content - events filled with great joy or success, coupled with events filled with deep despair and horrific details. Times or seasons of plenty, and then times of great need. It's very easy to be thankful and content when you're going through a time of plenty and great joy - it's when you head into a season of restriction or great need, or deep sorrow, that things tend to get a little sketchy.

In Philippians 4:11 Paul said that he had learned how to be content, no matter his situation. I've written on this before and I know many others have gone into much greater detail, so I'm not going to rewrite what's already been said, but I do think it's important to remember that the way way we learn things, is to experience them, and go through them. This is true of academic study, it's true of parenting, marriage, job skills, crafts, hobbies and just about any other area of life you can think of. You don't simply wake up one day knowing how to do something, and do it well. You have to expose yourself to it, work at it, practice it, and over time you learn it. Learning how to be content in hard times or even in times where you might find yourself wishing things were different, will only come by going through it, thanking God for it, and trusting in His providential plan for your life. Yes, that's much easier said than done, but the blessing comes in the doing, and the learning comes that way too.

So it is not my season to pick up and attend conferences, go on vacations or take trips for other reasons. In the grand scheme of things, even though I momentarily grumbled about it, I must say it has to fall in the "big whoop-dee-doo" category. This is my season of doing exactly what I am doing, and when I really take a closer look at just what that is, I am content with that. I am grateful that I am where I am, that I can do what I do, and that He has put me here. In a year, my situation might be different - it might be more exciting, or it might be much worse. I've lived through some very dark times and know full well that life is ripe for those times as well as the good times.

I was glad to be reminded to be grateful for the season you're in. I appreciate those perspective reminders, because oddly enough with all that I've already been through, I still forget sometimes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Forecast: Cute AND Modest!

If you're a blogger that uses sitemeter, you know how interesting the stats can be. I like to check it to see what brings folks here, and to see where folks come from. Since the first hit counter I added to my blog, 124,017 folks have come by to see what it is I write about. I don't know if that's a high number, an insignificant number, or somewhere inbetween, and truth be told, I don't really care all that much. I do find it striking that my insignificant slice of the internet has had that many folks come by here in the (almost) four years I've been writing on Reflections. Sitemeter is rather handy in that it tells me that most of my readers have come along from much more influential and well-read places such as TeamPyro, Camp on This, The Upward Call and Rebecca Writes.

One such post that brings folks along was a post last spring that was linked in from TeamPyro. This post here, about modest dressing for young ladies (and us not so young ladies too). Clearly this is a topic close to the heart of both Christian men and women alike, so a lot of folks have read that post.

Even though we still have a considerable amount of snow on the ground, and more in the forecast today, it is officially spring and the department store catalogs filled with spring/summer styles have begun to arrive in the mail. It might even already be spring/summerlike weather where you are, and you might already have put away the bulky sweaters for lighter clothing. Within the next few weeks, most of us here north of the border will be doing the same thing (I hope).

While there are still all kinds of extremely revealing bathing suits and summer dresses, I have noticed something remarkably different this year, and I'm really encouraged by it. Along with the barely-there bathing suits there are swim shorts, swimskirts and cover-up dresses for both girls and women. Not only do these cover-up styles show up in the "plus sizes" for bigger gals trying to hide things (which in times past, was the only section of the catalog you could find those things), but they're now available in lots of colors, styles, and sizes - for girls from 4 to 94. Clearly, there has been an increase in demand from the public for these things and the retail garment industry has been listening. This is a very good thing.

I've noticed the same sort of trend in women's summer dresses and girls summer styles as well. While the slinky "hey everyone, look at me I'm a Jezebel" dress styles are still available, there are now more and more modest styles that don't have the plunging neckline or the hemline so high it might as well be called a shirt.

The thing that encourages me about this is that this is coming from a Sears Catalog. This isn't some hard to find "Today's Amish Gal" or some sort of out of the way retail clothing outlet, but a very well known North American retailer. Always before, if you really wanted to find cute, modest clothing you'd have to go out of your way (and spend A LOT more) to find those kinds of clothes for yourself, or your girls. This appears to be changing at least somewhat, and this is a very, very good thing.

I generally don't shop at Sears only because the prices are a bit higher than the budget of a 7 person family can allow but the trend is, generally, whatever the bigger name stores do, the discount retailers follow suit. I haven't looked at places like WalMart or Zellers (a Canadian sort of version of Target) but I plan to do that this evening, since I'm headed to WalMart anyway. I'll be sure to update this post with what I find there.

This, coupled with the fact that I am so sick of snow I could scream like a crazy woman, really makes me feel a lot more optimistic about the coming (it's a rumor, I'm still waiting!) spring and summer months.

Culture v. Christ: Godly Women

Yesterday, Kim posted a thoughtful but short piece about her upcoming weekly book study with the ladies at her church, on a wife having a quiet spirit in her relationship with her husband. It really got me to thinking since this is a subject that has come up for me personally quite a bit. Not only in the context of the husband/wife relationship but in a more general context as well. It may seem strange, but if you ask 10 different people what a "quiet spirit" means to them, you might get at least 12 different answers.

The older I get, the more I come to realize that these things are important, and important enough to understand them from a Biblical perspective. Some people will tell you that a quiet spirit means a sort of mousy personality, or a false type of humility. Other folks might say that a quiet spirit means someone who will never touch a controversial issue or engage in any kind of conflict at all. Some will even go as far as saying someone with a quiet spirit has their head in the sand and is blissfully ignorant of what's going on around them. I really don't think any of these things apply to the Biblical definition, but those are some of the more general definitions I've read over the years.

I thought about this quite a bit yesterday and two women I know came to mind. Both are Christian women with strong opinions on doctrinal matters, but both of them strike me as women with quiet spirits. They are ladies that know how to pick their battles (mature enough to discern what's worth standing up for, and what is worth letting go), and discerning enough to know how to handle those conflicts with grace and truth, but without compromise.

I looked up several verses of Scripture yesterday and here is what I found:

Specifically as it pertains to wives:

But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.(1Peter 3:4)
In context, this is referring to what makes a woman beautiful to her husband, and what pleases God. It shouldn't be the outward adorning but the inward character that she displays. More specifically the verse in this passage is referring to the wife of an unsaved man - pointing out that it will be her inward character of meekness and a quiet spirit that honors God.

In my Bible study notes it says this:
"Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will."

Other verses that pertain to being of a meek or gentle spirit: Ephesians 4:2, Colossians 3:12, Titus 3:2 and James 3:13. Of course there are many more but these were just a few that sort of jumped off the page for me as I looked this over.

I read that definition of gentleness or meekness several times, and have to say that it convicts me more each time I read it. How often do I say I trust in God's sovereignty over all things, but then assert myself (in a variety of situations) as if God needs my help? More often than I care to admit, actually. While being assertive is not always a bad thing (as it pertains to being positive and dogmatic about Biblical truths) it is a very bad thing if you're assertive in the pushy, "this had better be done MY way" sort of style. When we do that, we cross the line from having a quiet assurance that God's will be done, into this arena that is all about self and wanting things done in our way and in our time.

My generation of women are a generation that were raised up in a society of women that could be seen on the nightly news tossing their bras into burn barrels and marching around in public demonstrations screaching about equal rights. For many of us, the constant examples of womanhood we had as young girls were these women that could do it all - have a husband and family, work full time outside the home, demand equal pay for equal work, fly to the moon and become a CEO. These were women that found their voice, so to speak, and were not afraid to use it, and often. Discretion was out the window and making a public spectacle of themselves was the order of the day. I still remember watching a bra-burning rally on the nightly news when I was about 8 years old, and something inside of me recoiling with the feeling that this was just so wrong, on every level. I couldn't have articulated it this way at such a young age, I just knew it was all so very wrong.

My generation of women grew up and came to maturity in an age where art imitated life, and suddenly the Barbie doll aisle at the local toy store became a mile long, because you could buy Barbie in every imaginable "career" known to man. She also had to have her accessories, so you could get the car, the van, the beach house, the office, and more. Television shows reinforced this message of loud, obnoxious, pushy women when more and more sitcoms became popular with just these kinds of women's characters in the starring roles. The message was further pounded into us as liberal, uber-feminists posing as teachers in our grade schools, junior high, high school and colleges reinforced this message in us every day. By the time many of us reached young adulthood, we'd had this message of womanhood and what being a woman is all about so reinforced in us, that many of us felt the pressure to "become" some kind of superhero chick that could do it all, have it all, say it all, and take no lip from anyone about it.

For those of us that did not grow up in a church, with strong examples of godly, gentle women, this is what we grew up with. The contrast is as striking as night and day, and the affect it has had on many women who are converted to Christ, is a very long road of unlearning these worldly attributes of womanhood, and finding that balance between standing up for what is right and doing it with grace, in a God honoring way.

I'm encouraged by the definition of meekness where it says "This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will." It is indeed true that we cannot change ourselves, that is a process of the Holy Spirit over time. It is true however, that by His grace we can purposely and intentionally set our minds and hearts on the task of desiring this change, and seeking His strength and wisdom toward that end.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Faith IN - belief OF - the Resurrection

Well, I'm relieved. I noticed a headline in my blog subscriptions that asked this question:

Must One Believe in the Resurrection to be a Christian?

I wasn't sure I wanted to click on it, to be be honest. It was a post written by a Christian (a prominent one at that) but that really doesn't mean such a question is going to get a straight, Biblical answer. So I clicked, hoping not to be disappointed and here is what I read:


"On this essential question -- Do you have to believe the resurrection is literally true -- that Jesus came back to life in his body -- to be a Christian? -- the Bible is actually very clear... The literal, historical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the vindication of Christ's saving work on the cross. The issue is simple -- no resurrection, no Christianity. For this reason, belief in the resurrection of Christ is essential in order to be a Christian." - Dr. Albert Mohler
Indeed I was quite relieved to read his answer to this central question on Christian faith. This is of course not the same answer you'll get from every prominent Christian. Another well known name among evangelicals was asked the same question not long ago, and here is his answer:
"Sometimes theological questions can’t be answered by a simply yes or no. You need to define terms, distinguish this from that time frame, etc. So your question, “Do you believe that it is not needed for a modern day believer to profess faith in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?” is not, in my judgment, as simple as it appears. “Needed”—for what? For salvation? No. As I said before, I agree with the statement in the Westminster Confession that people can be saved who die in infancy without the ability to understand the gospel. I also agree when the Confession extends this provision to others, presumably people who are mentally challenged, etc. There are people like this in the modern day, just as there were at the time the Confession was written." - John Frame (source)
This was taken from an email exchange I had with Frame not too long ago. If you click that source link you can see that he makes exceptions in the case of several categories (infants, mentally challenged, and first century Jews that believed in a coming Messiah but died before they heard the news of the resurrection) - as well as saying here that profession of faith in the resurrection is not needed for salvation, for these same "categorical" reasons. To have a profession of faith, indicates that you are believing what you're saying. Frame clearly states that no, one does not have to believe in (profess) the resurrection of our Lord, for salvation.

I find it interesting that in Mohler's full text of his answer to this question he stated this:

"...the Apostle Paul left no room for doubt when he declared that those who are saved are those who confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead [Romans 10:9]." (source)

I agree that Paul left no doubt. I don't have to worry about the "categories" that Frame sets up as exceptions, I simply leave that with the wisdom of God, and affirm what Romans 10:9 says, and note that I've never seen any kind of "exception" in the Scriptures. OT saints and first century believers that had not yet heard of the resurrection before they died, were saved in exactly the same way we are - by faith. While we look back in history and have faith in His finished work on the cross, they looked forward to the promise of God and had faith that He would do what He said he would, and send a Messiah that would deliver His people.

In another email exchange with John Frame he specifically addressed Romans 10:9 as it pertains to the exception categories he's layed out:
"So explicit confession is not a general rule for everyone. But Paul certainly is saying that if you do make an explicit confession of Christ and the Resurrection you will be saved." (source)

I have to wonder though, would you answer this question with a "The issue is simple" the way Mohler did, or do the categories Frame sets up, present exceptions for you, to believing in and profession of faith, in the resurrection of our Lord? Are there any exceptions or provisions in Scripture that would contradict Romans 10:9?

I'd be most interested in how you'd answer this question, or address these "exception categories".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen

Resurrection Sunday, or Easter means so much, to every real Christian. In the most simplistic sense (and there is certainly nothing simple about our Lord raising from the dead), it means victory. Victory over death, hell and the grave. It means so much more than just victory though, and it's almost impossible to exhaustively list all that it really does mean. It's what seperates Christianity from all other faiths and religions - in that we have a RISEN Lord! Some years ago, right after I became a Christian, one of the first Christian songs I heard on the radio that summed this up so well for me personally, was a song by Dallas Holm. If you've never heard this song, I'd encourage you to listen to it via this video performance by Ivan Parker. It will surely bless your heart.




Go ahead, Drive the nails in my hands;
Laugh at me where you stand;
Go ahead, and say it isn't me;
The day will come when you will see!

'Cause I'll...
rise again; Ain't no pow'r on earth
Can tie me down; Yes, I'll rise again
Death can't keep me in the ground!


Go ahead, and mock my name;
My love for you is still the same;
Go ahead and bury me;
But very soon I will be free!

'Cause I'll...
rise again; Ain't no pow'r on earth
Can tie me down; Yes, I'll rise again
Death can't keep me in the ground!

Go ahead and say I'm dead and gone,
But you will see that you were wrong
Go ahead, try to hide the Son,
But all will see that I'm the One!

'Cause I'll...
rise again; Ain't no pow'r on earth
Can tie me down; Yes, I'll rise again
Death can't keep me in the ground!


'Cause I'll
Come again; Ain't no pow'r on earth
Can keep me back; Yes, I'll come again
Come to take my people back.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Day of Rest

I was a little reluctant at first to add the Call Me feature here. Partly because I thought no one would ever call me (and that isn't very good, is it Precious?), but also partly because I wondered if meanies would call and say meanie things. Well, I'm quite pleased to say that my worries were unfounded. I've received quite a few calls, all of them very nice, and encouraging, even folks asking questions or making suggestions on what they'd like to see here at Reflections. How fun is that??

I received a call like this recently, from a very nice sounding lady. Her question was on having a Sabbath rest, and especially having a rest like this for young mothers. What a fantastic question!

Now, before I answer this question I just want to make it clear that while I am glad to answer questions like this (call me and ask me one, it's fun!), I don't pretend to have all the answers for things. Just because I have seven kids and haven't yet gone insane (which is questionable, at best), doesn't mean I have things all figured out, and just because I love to write about and study doctrinal and theological topics, also doesn't mean I've got that all figured out. What I do know, is that God is good and He's not done with me yet.

Now, on to the question. Here's what I believe about a Sabbath Day rest:

THE LORD'S DAY: We believe that the first day of the week is the Lord's day and that, in a special sense, it is the divinely appointed day for worship and spiritual exercise.

This is taken directly from my church's statement of faith, which you can read here.

Sunday is called The Sabbath Day or the Lord's Day, and I believe strongly in making it a day set aside (as much as possible) to dwell on the things of God, and truly rest from daily chores. It should be a day to go to church, be fed on the Word of God, pray and worship in song with the saints, and have a wonderful time of fellowship with likeminded believers. When you go home, it should be a day set aside to truly rest, and spend the day in meditation on the sermon you heard, the prayer requests that came up, rejoicing with others about the good news they shared, or doing a Bible study, or even writing about something that has had a spiritual impact on you somehow.

I know that for a lot of Christians, that sounds rather mundane in itself, but it truly is exactly what we need more of. Contemporary culture is a fast-forward, hurry-up, instantaneous life, and most of us just don't take the time to slow down, or even realize how fast we're going in the first place. Taking an entire day (or even most of the day) and setting aside plans, chores, errands, projects, and even television, and internet use, really isn't such a bad thing to do, if it means refreshing your soul with the things of God. You'll note I said above that Sunday should be a day for such things, and when you come home from church what you should be doing. This is because I'm not dogmatic about such things - sometimes there are legitimate reasons why you can't be in church, and sometimes there are equally legitimate reasons why you can't come home and spend the day truly resting in the things of God. But if you can, you certainly should, and if you can plan ahead and get things out of the way to free up your Sundays for such things, you really should aim for that.

While a day of rest is definitely a good thing for all God's people, a day of rest is certainly something that busy moms with young children truly need, even more than they likely realize. When your children are young, you're always "on". You're alert and mindful of their activities from the time they get up until the time they go to bed. Even after they're in bed, you're still thinking about them, upcoming activities or events, plans for tomorrow, if that load of laundry is done, what you're making for dinner, etc. so forth and so on. For most mothers of young kids, your world and your day to day activity is very much defined by your parenting. You spend your days doing for them, and often you'll even take on additional things such as sports, music lessons, boy or girl scouts, weekly children's events at church, and more. Between school, activities, household chores, errands and appointments, by the end of the week you're definitely ready for a day of real spiritual rest.

Sundays that are set aside for genuine rest, might look and sound a little different in different households. When my older girls were younger and it was just me and them, Sundays were NO TV days, and the house was relatively quiet. After church we'd have lunch and then half of us would take a nap, while the other half would spend the afternoon reading or doing some other quiet activity. After dinner on Sunday night, I would get out all my study materials and that was my time to really dig deep into the sermon I'd heard that morning, or continue with a particular study I'd been working on. I purposely made Sunday a day of rest from outside distractions and activities, so that I could dwell solely on the things of God. It was one of the best things I ever did as a mom of young children - to literally unplug from stressful things and focus on the things of God.

Sundays still look quite a bit like that now, in our house. We try to plan things so that we never have to run any kind of an errand on Sunday, but sometimes we still have to do such things. We prefer to just come home and make it a day of rest. We discuss the sermon, we spend the afternoons with a quiet home, as some of us read, some of us study, some of us nap. Yes, that laundry will still be there Sunday night, and yes those dishes do need to be washed - but if it's at all within your ability to set this day aside for the things of God, I assure you it will be the most refreshing rest you can give yourself.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Poll: Local Church?

On an email discussion list I subscribe to, a really interesting question came up in regards to the purpose and function of a local church.

The gist of the question is this:

Are churches for believers, or unbelievers?

In operation, should the local church be primarily geared toward feeding the flock, or reaching the lost?

I thought it was a really good question for a new poll & your thoughts. So, there ya go :-) See the new poll in the sidebar and feel welcome to explain in the comments, why you voted the way you did!

THIS POLL IS NOW CLOSED - HERE ARE THE RESULTS:

What is the PRIMARY function of the local church?

To equip the saints - 28 votes (75%)
Saints first, then the lost - 5 votes (13%)
Equal for both - 4 votes (10%)

On buying books

Tim Challies recently posted on his A La Carte section:

"Tim Keller's book "The Reason for God" has made it all the way to #7 on the New York Times list of bestsellers--quite an accomplishment for this kind of book! Don't you think it's time to read it?"
Well, in a word, no. While I'm sure Tim was just trying to encourage folks to read what he believes is a good book, and while I agree that this is quite an accomplishment for a Christian book, the very idea that its made it into the top 10 on the NYT bestseller list, is actually a bit of turn-off for me. Now, this doesn't mean I've never read a book on the bestseller list, nor does it mean there's never been a good Christian book on the list (I don't know, I've never checked) - but it does mean (for me, anyway) that a secular media list is definitely not a criteria I evaluate before buying a Christian book, or any other book, for that matter.

There are a few things that go into my book buying decisions, and popularity is never one of them. I suppose in an indirect way, the NYT bestseller list has influenced me (by influencing others that bought it, read it, and wrote a good review of it) but the list itself is never something I go by. It may be skewed logic, but I figure if it's something a wide audience of unbelievers and believers alike are buying, then it's either National Enquirer scandal worthy (and not worth my time) or if it's a Christian book, it's quite likely a fluffy-feel-good type of Christian book that makes everyone feel better about themselves, if unbelievers are scooping it up. Like I said, that may be skewed logic, and I don't for a moment suggest that's what Keller's book is like (I haven't read it, I wouldn't know), but it seems to make sense to me.

So, for that reason I wanted to take a closer look at the NYT list, to see if my logic is on, or off, in a most general sense (i.e., what's selling, what's hot, what's in demand, etc.) So, here are the top 20 books in the Hardcover Nonfiction category (descriptions are mine):


1 LOSING IT, by Valerie Bertinelli. Celebrity confessions of depression and weight loss struggles.

2 BEAUTIFUL BOY, by David Sheff. A parent's struggle with a drug addicted child.

3 LIBERAL FASCISM, by Jonah Goldberg. Reveals the USA's roots in classic fascism.
4 IN DEFENSE OF FOOD, by Michael Pollan. How and why to eat more plants.

5 PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL, by Dan Ariely. Culture & emotions the cause of why we do what we do.

6 I AM AMERICA (AND SO CAN YOU!), by Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Allison Silverman et al. Political comedy.

7 THE REASON FOR GOD, by Timothy Keller. Defending the faith in the Christian God.

8 REAL CHANGE, by Newt Gingrich with Vince Haley and Rick Tyler. Building a better America.

9 THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON, by Susan Jacoby. Anti-intellectualism on the rise.

10 AN INCONVENIENT BOOK, by Glenn Beck and Kevin Balfe. Solving global warming and political correctness.

11 RECONCILIATION, by Benazir Bhutto. Islam, democracy and the West.

12 MANIC, by Terri Cheney. Celebrity insight into bipolar disorder.

13 THE BUSH TRAGEDY, by Jacob Weisberg. Trashing the Bush family.

14 LONE SURVIVOR, by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson. Courage and survival of a Navy Seal.

15 THE HEROIN DIARIES, by Nikki Sixx with Ian Gittins. Rock bassist's drug life tell-all.

16 GOD'S PROBLEM, by Bart D. Ehrman. God doesn't have a problem, Ehrman just needs to repent.

17 STORI TELLING, by Tori Spelling. Celebrity tell-all.

18 HOPE'S BOY, by Andrew Bridge. No description, and I was too lazy to look it up.

19 QUIET STRENGTH, by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whitaker. See above.

20 WHY WOMEN SHOULD RULE THE WORLD, by Dee Dee Myers. See above.

So there is the top 20, currently bestselling books in hardcover non-fiction. For an interesting comparison, take a peek at the current bestselling paperback non-fiction as well. Based on what I've read in the form of reviews, and what I see on this list, there is just one book that I might read from this list and that would be the book on the Navy Seal (and that's only because I come from military roots and I like reading about that sort of thing). I've read reviews and interviews with Tim Keller, and I also had a very brief exchange with him myself on the topic of "Christian mysticism" and based on the little I know about his beliefs, I just don't find myself at all interested in his book, regardless of the placement on the bestseller list. Of course, this is just one opinion from a virtual nobody, and your opinion may be completely different.

I am curious though, after reading that list, which (if any) books would you buy, and why?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When the fog lifts

I didn't have a driver's license until I was 27 years old. For a wide variety of reasons, I just never had/needed one. I always lived close enough to everything that I could walk to get to, and for anything beyond that I'd just take the bus, or get a ride from a friend or family member. When I was 27 we were living in the southern California desert, and the closest store was 11 miles down the highway, so it was finally time for me to get a license. I learned how to drive by practicing out in the middle of the desert, then braving the southern California highways to go to the store and back. I think I passed basic driver's training pretty well.

In all the time in my young adulthood before I was a driver myself, I had plenty of nut-ball friends who were reckless drivers, and even though I never really did it on purpose, I think I kept mental notes that said "don't do this" each time one of my goofball friends did something careless while driving. For that cause, when I started driving myself, I quickly became known as an uber-careful driver. I've been teased about it for years, but I'd rather be teased than be a meat-head behind the wheel.

That thought about becoming a driver quickly flitted through my thoughts last night as I drove the girls home from their weekly girl's club meeting at the church. The drive into town was fine, the roads were bare and dry and it was still light outside, thanks to daylight savings time. The drive home however, 90 minutes later, was a different story. The sun had gone down, and fog worthy of a classic horror novel, had rolled in. I had no idea what I was in for, once I got out of town and onto the country highway, to get home. Suffice it to say, I went much less than the speed limit all the way home, while white-knuckling it, and riding the yellow line.

What really surprised me numerous times, is that cars behind me pulled out and passed me, to disappear into the fog ahead of me. I couldn't see a thing beyond a few feet from the front of the van, but somehow these people either had astounding vision, or were just overly confident that they'd be just fine plowing through the blinding fog.

Now, while I don't sit around all day looking for spiritual applications in everyday occurances, it was really hard not to notice this one. Here were these people just forging ahead, as blinded as if they had blindfolds on, but confident that they could see just fine. The unsaved live this way every single day. They get up & go to work or school, go about the business of their day, engage in relationships, make long and short term plans, and just live life completely blinded to what's coming. Like the drivers on the highway tonight that couldn't help but notice someone driving differently, these people live life fully aware that there are Christians around them that live differently. Just like the drivers on the highway, they just pull out ahead of those Christians or pass them by and ignore them.

Where my little analogy falls apart, is that thankfully there was nothing in the fog tonight that anyone crashed into (although 2 weeks ago on that very same highway, we slowed down to admire the herd of deer that were about to cross - imagine bumping into 6 full grown deer on a foggy night, going 60mph down that highway). In life however, there is most definitely coming a day when these people who ignored the Christian message, ignored all the Christians in their lives, and just kept "driving", will answer for it. There will come a day when the fog lifts and they will stand before a holy God and have no excuse. This grieves me so much. If you're anything like me, you have friends, aquaintances and family members who are just like those drivers on the foggy highway that keep on going, and ignore you when you try to talk to them about the life coming after this one. They know you're "driving" differently, and they know why, but your way of life is definitely not what they want for their way of life. They want to do things their own way, believe their own things, and be left alone, thank you very much. The reality of the life to come after this one, is something that these people cannot see, and don't want to see.

This is why sharing the gospel at every opportunity is so important. It may not be easy, and it may not result in immediate conversion, but the great news is that our Lord Jesus said that all that the Father give to Him, will come to Him and He will lose nothing! Maybe you've shared the gospel with someone for years, with no visible result. Maybe someone else will come along tomorrow (or next week or next year) and share it with them again, and they'll think about all the conversations they've had with you, and that will be the moment in time that the preaching of the cross will be the power of God unto salvation, in their lives. We hear testimonies like this all the time, so we know it happens just like this, in many Christian's lives.

Don't be weary in well doing, keep giving an answer for your faith to all who ask, and take comfort in the truth that even though it seems like so many are blindly driving through the fog, our heavenly Father will draw His own to the foot of the cross, giving them new eyes to see with, new ears to hear with, and removing their heart of stone replacing it with a heart of flesh.

Just like He did with you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My baby can read

What follows will be considered a boring, TMI/homeschool mom post. If that's not your bag of beans, please feel welcome to simply click away now.

As a teacher, there is probably no greater joy than to see a student finally grab hold of the material being taught, and understand it. That's the goal, after all - to teach in a way that effectively passes on what you know, to them.

When my 9 and 10 year old started homeschooling, I had never before taught anyone to read, so that process was brand new (and quite frightening, I might add) to me. While my 9 year old picked it up right away, it was much more difficult to teach my 10 year old. She has the type of personality that simply blocks out anything difficult to grasp, so it was a major adventure in finding a method to teach her that would actually work. We finally did find something that helped more than anything else, and that was this book.

Noah The Noah Webster's Reading Handbook teaches children to read from a foundational level of phonics. Short vowel, one syllable words to begin with, and short lessons to go over each day. I'm a firm believer in mastering a skill before advancing to the next level, and this book reinforces that method.

We used it with Jordan, (Rachel liked it but she was already beyond the beginner level by the time we got it), then when it was time for Samuel to learn to read, he devoured it. Now, we're using it with Ruth and she's powering through it as well. I've created flash cards to compliment the lessons, so after she does the daily lesson she does the flashcards as well, and she's just impressing me to no end, how well she's doing. I really wanted to focus on her reading skills before she "officially" starts the fuller, kindergarten curriculum so this has been a real blessing. She'll turn five in July and by the fall, she'll be ready to really take on the full lessons.

Kindergarten Phonics ReadersAlong with the reading handbook and flashcards, is this great little series of books. The Kindergarten Phonics Readers are a perfect compliment to the reading handbook, because they introduce the same simple, short vowel words in conjunction with the reader. At the beginning of each story there is a list of words to focus on, and we go over the word list first (sounding them out if we have trouble). I cannot tell you how much my kids have loved these little readers. They're bright and colorful, the illustrations by the incredibly talented *Vic Lockman are very cute (you'll instantly recognize his work, even if it's been years since you've enjoyed comics!), and the stories are God glorifying! Imagine that, you get visually appealing books, they help your kids learn to read, the kids LOVE them, and they give God the glory. You're not going to get that in a public school system, I guarantee it.

So, my baby is learning to read. She takes these books to the couch with her after formal lessons are over with, and she tries to read them by herself. She loves the characters, loves it when she gets all the words correct, and puts the books back in HER desk when she's done with them (as opposed to putting them on the bookshelf where they've been sitting, just waiting for her to be ready for them). Yes, I am one happy homeschooling teacher-mom. My baby can read!

*Be sure to check out some of the great Christian titles on the Vic Lockman Bookshelf!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Top 'o the Week

Clover Lore
Did you know, that on St. Patrick's Day, if you don't wear something green, that nasty little Leprechauns (as if there are any other kind?) will leap out of their hiding places and pinch you? It's true I tell ya!

Okay fine, it's not true but it's a fun little thing to tell kids. A story, a little make-believe. Funny thing is, they all came downstairs with bright green clothing on this morning! Imagine that. I have no idea where this story came from, or why little kids so eagerly believe it, but when I was a kid it was common knowledge among my peers, and you can be sure that if St. Paddy's day fell on a school day, there wasn't one kid that would show up to school, not wearing some type of green.


For the first few years after I became a Christian, I really avoided these sort of superstitious, impractical things. I fell into a rather legalistic, fuddy-duddy mindset that didn't allow me to have fun with silly things like this anymore. I didn't want to do, or tell my kids anything that wasn't 100% Biblically centered, and such things like wearing green on St. Paddy's day was silly and nothing I wanted to pass on to them. My heart was in the right place but my thinking was a wee bit narrowminded. Somehow, I forgot that it's okay to enjoy a little make-believe, as long as it's firmly established that it is make-believe, and just for fun.

You've probably already read it, but Kim's got a nice little slice of Irish history posted at her blog this morning, which is not make-believe. I was also informed last night that Dr. Liam Ian Goligher* will be the guest today on Chris Arnzen's Iron Sharpens Iron, discussing the truth behind the stories of St. Patrick. Just load this link at 3pm eastern to listen live. You can even call in the show to ask questions by dialing 1-631-321-WNYG (9694) (Chris loves callers, go ahead and call!)

That's it for me. I better run and put on something green... Leprechauns can be rather sneaky.

(*I mixed up Dr. Liam Goligher with Ian Goligher, so I apologize if that was misleading for anyone)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday School at Home with Dr. James White

Since attending church was not an option for us this weekend, I've been listening to this series from prbc.org:

Common Attacks Against Reformed Theology

Part I ... Introduction
Part II ... John 3:16-17
Part III ... Matt 23:37, 2 Pet 3:9
Part IV ... 1 Tim 2:4-6
Part V ... 1 John 2:2
Part VI ... John 6:35-45
Part VII ... Rom 8:28-30
Part VIII ... Rom 8:29-9:13
Part IX ... Rom 9:14-16
Part X ... Rom 9:16-21
Part XI ... Rom 9:18-23
Part XII ... Rom 9:23-24, Evangelism

I highly recommend it, it's very good. Each lesson is about 40 minutes long. (I may have actually posted this series before, so if I have, just keep in mind that it's so good, I'm posting it again!)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Store Stuff: Sneek Peak

This didn't make it into the newsletter this week, because I just made it this morning! It'll be in next week's newsletter, but here's a sneek peak, fresh off the photoshop presses:


podhead

the perfect gift idea for your favorite podcaster!

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies 2008 Lectures

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies 2008 LecturesIf you're anywhere in the greater Toronto area, I'd like to bring your attention to an upcoming conference. Lord willing, Kevin and I will be there.

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies and Toronto Baptist Seminary are the sponsors for this lecture series:

April 5, 2008

Schedule

9:30-10:30am Emergent: Reinventing Liberalism?
10:30-11:00am Break
11:00-12:00 Pierced for our Transgressions: Preaching the Cross Today
12:00-12:15pm Q&A with Dr. Goligher

Guest Lecturer

Liam Goligher is Senior Minister of Duke Street Church, Richmond, London. He studied at the Irish Baptist College, Belfast; University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, and has pastored churches in Ireland, Canada, Scotland and London. A regular at the UK’s Keswick Convention and at similar conventions throughout the world, Dr. Goligher has led University missions in the UK and Europe and his Sunday sermons can be heard throughout the UK on Premier Radio.

Location

Grace Bible Church - 334 Preston Parkway, Cambridge Ontario www.gbccambridge.com

*There is no registration fee, but an offering will be taken to help defray some of the costs of the conference

For more information you can download the lecture flyer here, or contact Allen Mickle.

Friday, March 14, 2008

No Shame

In conversation with my pastor today about a most destructive trend in evangelicism, the word "shame" came up. As in, "it's such a shame" that this trend even exists. Later on I got to thinking about that word, and if it really even means anything anymore.

In Scripture, there's a particular warning to those who reject the truth once they've heard it, and the text says they "crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame". (Hebrews 6:6) I'm no Greek language scholar, but in looking up that word shame in the Greek, it has so many different meanings, depending on the context it's used. In this particular context it means to publicly disgrace. In looking up all the other uses of the word in the NT there's a range of definitions for it that include despise, dishonor, disgrace, dishonesty and unseemly.

Looking at the list of definitions for this word at dictionary.com you'll see these same descriptive words along with improper and ignominy. Now there's a word you don't see every day. I'm not sure I've ever seen it, or heard it used so I looked that one up too:

1. disgrace; dishonor; public contempt.
2. shameful or dishonorable quality or conduct or an instance of this.

I grew up hearing the word used in a more common way as well, as in "have you no shame?" or "he has no shame", and the most common "shame on you!"- all meaning a chastisement for being insensitive to the idea that dishonorable, disgraceful conduct or character brings shame with it.

As I considered the definition of this word and the impression that it at least appears this word really doesn't mean anything anymore, I had to wonder "how did we get here?" How did the Christian church ever get to a place where shameful conduct becomes redefined, re-imagined, unpacked, revised and tossed out the back window as an anything goes mentality is welcomed in the front door?

Enter: postmodernistic, vain philosophic loads of useless, empty, self-centered and self-seeking books, ideas, movements, and defenders. A marriage of Christian thought with postmodernistic thought equals the fruit we all see today. Shameful conduct is no longer shameful conduct because we've redefined it you see, and we have a wagon-load of excuses and cultural contexts to categorize such things and pat them on the head and send them along their merry way.

That word really doesn't mean anything to a lot of people anymore. Unless of course you say or do something that infringes on their shameful conduct, and it it's a shame we all just can't get along and see the good in our fellow man. To me, the real shame there is that we've bought into this line of thinking in the first place. I shudder to think what Christianity will look like when my kids are grown. The only encouragement I have is Christ's promise that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church. The disturbing thing is, that the worst influences in His church, are IN His church, and calling themselves by His name.

I certainly don't say such things with the deluded idea that I am somehow above all that. I'm definitely not. Yesterday in a moment of anger and frustration I said something in a private conversation with a friend, that I honestly should not have said, or even thought to begin with. the moment I said it I regretted it, and it has bothered me since then. I immediately apologized for the comment and immediately admitted I was wrong to say that, but it still bothered me that I said it in the first place. I was ashamed of my own comment, and wished to pull it back as if it never happened.

What I notice more and more, is people that aren't ashamed of anything. They're not ashamed of profane language (their own or anyone else's), they're not ashamed of dirty jokes or raunchy movies or immoral messages in songs. They're not ashamed of treating our Lord with less than holy fear, and they're definitely not ashamed to tell you, they're not ashamed. In fact, more and more often I notice that if you are ashamed of such things, you end up becoming the punch line for jokes, the receiving end of mockery and humiliation. The unashamed will stand around and yuck it up at your expense. This, will never make sense to me, if I live to be 1,000 years old.

The only way I know of to combat this, is to continue speaking about it (as much as it annoys some people, who like to email me anonymously and tell me to shut up - and yes - they use those words). To encourage others, to thank my pastor (which I did today) for his dedication to equipping a flock that does take a high view of God and our duty to Him, to teach my children what is honorable and what is not, according to Scripture, and to remain in prayer about it for myself, every day. Included in that is prayer for others that find no shame in shameful things. Surely they've been deceived by the empty philosophies of men, to arrive at such a sad state, and taken evangelical Christianity with them.

It's discouraging, no question about it. But, there is hope. God's Holy Spirit was worked an amazing work in me in the last 14 years, and I know He can do the same in others who are His. Sometimes it's just hard remembering that He's not through with any of us yet, when I see a Christianity I don't even recognize.

Just a little stuff

This is just going to be one of those miscellaneous posts. A regular mish-mash of stuff in mind, and stuff you might find worthwhile:

STORE STUFF

This past week I've spent some time going over some older designs and sprucing them up a bit. It's been fun and I think you might like the new and improved versions, as well as the brand new ones in the store. The weekly newsletter is now up at the site and you can see what I've been up to, there. Coming soon, I hope, will be a nifty little downloadable/printable catalog of ALL the designs in the store, so you can do a quick visual scan of what we have to offer. It's taking a bit longer than I originally planned to put the catalog together (I had no idea we had that much stuff in the store!) but I hope to have it up by this time next week.

GOOGLE STUFF

My mom emailed me last night to tell me she did a google search on the word "watchbloggers" and guess who came up #1 in the search? Yep, this little old blog right here. For a more interesting read, do a search on the word watchblogger without the s, and you'll get a more comprehensive list of what folks really think of watchbloggers.

SPRING STUFF

The rumor is, the first day of spring is just around the corner. I'm going to reserve judgement on that one until I can actually go outside without first having to locate my boots, my heavy winter coat, and using the remote starter on the van to start it and let warm up for 20 minutes before I go anywhere. I know that spring is coming though, because the local hardware store has their bird feeder display and gardening tools prominently displayed in the very front of the store. If that weren't enough, the Sears Catalog came yesterday and the lady on the cover has a bathing suit on and she's sporting a mid-summer sunkissed glow. Somehow, that didn't stop me from almost getting stuck in another snow bank yesterday.

This is the time of year Canadian Maples are tapped and the maple syrup making season begins. Within a few weeks there will be roadside stands here and there (usually manned by local Mennonite families) selling big ole yummy jugs of real live Canadian maple syrup, and other homemade goodies. Here's a fun site all about maple syrup.

Other than that, I think I'm tapped out (no pun intended) for miscellaneous stuff. We're all still sick, but thankfully the flu symptoms (body aches, headaches) only lasted for one day. Now we're all dealing with monumental head/chest congestion (sinus headaches for me, w00t! sinus pain), coughing, sneezing, sore throats and that sort of thing. They say (those mysterious "they" people) that these symptoms pass after 7-10 days. They're wrong, since Rachel was the first to come down with this, 12 days ago and she's just as plugged up/coughing as the rest of us. I suppose it'll be a while before we're all over it, but we're all thankful that it's no worse than it is. I clearly recall the time Rachel was 6 weeks old and we all came down with something like this and it landed her in the hospital for a week. That was one of the hardest things ever, to see my tiny baby girl in a hospital crib with tubes sticking out of her.

Anyhoo - there ya go. Have a great Friday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Liberal Fruit

If, as a parent, you decided you wanted to exercise your right to take your kids to an R-rated movie, you could do that. If you decided to sign them up to participate in a gay pride parade, or take them to a theme park on "gay day", give them permission to get a tattoo, or a piercing, you could do all that too. You could start buying them birth control at age 13 and let hormones take their course. You can even pick any religion you want, and raise them up with those beliefs - or - have no religion at all. In the US and Canada we still live in a time and a place where as parents, we have certain rights and freedoms when it comes to the way we raise our kids, the things we let them participate in, and the places we can go. Regardless of the examples given above, that's actually a very good thing and we should all be very thankful for that, since parental rights and freedoms are not enjoyed by parents around the world, the way they are here at home.

If you decided on any of those things above, the vast majority of society would have no issue whatsoever with your parental decisions. Mainstream society would have you be just as liberal as you care to be, and that's perfectly acceptable with them.

What mainstream society is not so accepting of, is an evangelical Christian parent who make the choice to homeschool their child(ren). Once you've made that choice, this is the kind of thing said about you:

(In reference to the recent court decision in the state of CA)

"The decision has caused anguish among families who fear that they may now be required to demonstrate that home schooling is an adequate replacement for their children's attendance at a public institution. The court's decision means that home schoolers must be given some substantive instruction in social studies and not simply spend their time watching Fox with its strange assortment of oddballs pontificating on current events...

If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids, their offspring are getting an extremely warped lesson in civics...

It's evident that the vast majority who teach their offspring in front of the television do so because they don't want their children to be subjected to such dangerous doctrines as evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights and other ideas abhorrent to the evangelical mantra..." (source)



Isn't that great? Where shall we start, hmm?

How about we start with the idea that the two brilliant men Walter and Ralph that wrote this piece, have the impression that homeschooling parents park their kids in front of FOX news for social studies? In the first place, I can only guess that this was a shot at Bill O'Reilly who takes shots like this all the time. I'll leave that there, O'Reilly can handle that just fine.

What struck me as so ironic about this though, was the memory of being in grade school and being required by my public school teachers at least once a week, to watch the evening news and read the local paper and do a report for social studies class. As a part of the social studies program, us public schooled kids were required to not only know the history that made our current system what it is (we used real, hold-em-in-yer-hand-books), but to keep informed of current events as well. Is there something wrong with that? Well, Walter and Ralph would have you think there is - and have you think that this is how homeschoolers exclusively teach their kids. Truth is, it IS in part, how folks of all ages learn every day - whether homeschooled, public schooled, in the work force or retired. Books, newspapers, radio, television, and even (gasp!) parent/child conversations, are what make up our particular "social studies".

That second quote is a gem. What they really meant to say was "If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids, their offspring are getting an extremely valuable lesson in civics, when they're able to witness firsthand how the right to free speech includes both reasonable, impassioned opinion, and liberals with an agenda". Yep, that's what they really meant to say, I'm sure of it.

That last quote however, is the real meat of the resistance, and interestingly enough, Walter and Ralph got it right! Well, sort of.

I can't speak for all evangelical homeschooling parents, so I will only speak for myself on this one. Part of the reason we homeschool is because we want to make sure our kids have a solid, Biblical worldview as their foundation. We don't want them learning one thing at home and in church, and then having a conflict of authority in their lives (public school teachers & administrators) telling them something completely different. We don't want them to believe the lies of evolution or global warming, we don't want them to believe the lie that abortion is acceptable, and we don't want them to have a perverted view of "equal rights". We don't want this trash pumped into their minds for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months a year from kindergarten through 12th grade, so that it becomes normal or acceptable to them, and clouds their thinking. These are lies, why in the world would we want them indoctrinated with them?

Recently, a friend of my 17 year old asked why we homeschool. My answer was simply this "because we don't want the kids exposed to the garbage that goes on in public schools, from the teachers and the other students that come from morally bankrupt homes". Himself having just finished his highschool years replied "right on! I wish I would have been homeschooled and spared all that trash". He knew exactly what I was talking about - the liberal, anti-God teachings come from the front of the class, and the immoral behavior coming from fellow students, and the pressure to fold and become part of the crowd. Young people get that, they know exactly how it works. For those raised with a Biblical worldview and still attending the public schools, it's like walking into a spiritual battle zone every day. You send warriors and strong soldiers into battle, not children. Children are weak, and easily swayed, and easily fall. Even many adults are just as weak and easily influenced by this kind of spiritual battle.

I'm going to pause here and say this once for all, and for the record. I was once verbally sliced to ribbons (by a fellow believer, and publicly) for daring to believe in the sovereignty of God in all things and then at the same time allegedly imply that He cannot protect our children in the anti-God public school system. I do not believe that children are to be sent out as evangelists to win their schools for Christ (and if anyone does, please support it Biblically), but if they do manage to have some kind of influence for the glory of God, then this is a wonderful thing. Do I believe God can protect the faith of our children (assuming they have a credible profession of faith to begin with, and not just 'assumed' to be Christians because they come from a Christian home) in the battle zone of a public school? YES, I most certainly do. I also believe He can protect them if we send them onto a freeway at rush hour, or drop them into the tiger's den at the zoo but I would certainly never test that, and do it. He expects us as parents to protect them as well, not to send them into situations they simply cannot handle either spiritually, or emotionally. When the time comes that they are ready (and that time is a different age for every kid), then you send them off (public school, highschool, college, etc.) and with Godspeed and daily prayers.

Which brings me to the final quote of Walter and Ralph:
"Moreover, it is apparent from the cries of the far right that there has been a specific policy in home schooling -- to teach only the ideas acceptable to ideologues who fear the contaminating influence of what is commonly known as a liberal education."
These guys are truly brilliant. "Contaminating influence" was a most accurate choice of words. I don't fear it, I detest it and I don't neglect to discuss with my kids and teach why this influence is so destructive.

For the "fruit" of this liberal education, one need not look any further than the headlines in the paper, or your favorite news site online. What mainstream society accepts today as "normal" is also taught in the schools as normal, and that we should all have a tolerance for it, and be accepting of it. One specific 'fruit' would be this statistic just reported in yesterday's news:

"About 1 in 4 teenage girls in the United States - and nearly half of black girls - has at least one sexually transmitted disease, according to a study released yesterday, providing the first national snapshot of infection rates among this age group." (source)
This story from the Boston Globe goes on to explain in a bit more detail, the dynamics of this study:

"The study's authors analyzed data on 838 girls between ages 14 and 19 who participated in the 2003-04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an annual study that assesses a broad range of health issues. For the analysis, the teens were tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and herpes. By far, the most common sexually transmitted disease was HPV. Of those infected, 15 percent had more than one STD."
Dr. Sara Forhan, a researcher with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the study's lead author found the results "alarming" and said it was "critical information for parents" - encouraging them to screen their daughters and teach them about protection and disease prevention.

Keeping this in mind, here are some questions to really think about:

• Out of those 838 girls between 14 and 19, how many are professing Christians, or come from Christian homes?
• How many attended public school?
• How many were homeschooled?
• What do the public schools teach our young men and young women about sex?
Is it working?


I agree that the results of this study are alarming. I agree they should be a wake up call to parents, in more ways than one.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Watchbloggers

I see the label "watchblogger" a lot, but rarely ever see a definition of it, or examples. Generally, but not always, it's used in the pejorative. It often reminds me of the way the word evangelical is used - depending on who's using it, it either comes across like a swear word, or a compliment. So, this got me to thinking today and since I still have the flu and feel like roadkill, I'm going to ask for your help.

1. Please define watchblogger for me?

2. Please give examples of watchbloggers?



Also, if you'd like, add any other commentary you'd like about this whole "watchblogger" thing.

Yeah, right


(Click to enlarge)

I Question Me

Do you ever second guess your decisions? Do you ever question your own motives? I sure do, and I do it a lot. In fact, I do it more now than I did just a few years ago, and much more than I did when I first came to know the Lord. While I certainly try to make every effort to make good decisions in the first place, and make sure my motives are just, sometimes circumstances seem to do a switcheroo and it causes me to revisit those decisions and ask "did I do/say that for the right reason, and was it the best thing I could have done/said?" I believe it's actually a good thing to do this, to really "get honest" with yourself before the Lord and ask Him to expose your lack of wisdom (wherever it is you lack), or your genuine reasons behind your decisions. I believe the more we examine our own hearts the more He shows us where we need to go, how we need to get there, and what not to do the next time around. Reading Jerry Bridges' Respectable Sins recently, was one of the greatest gifts I could have ever given to myself, in this regard. If you're serious about examining yourself, you will want to read this book.

As much as I believe in this form of self-discipline, I find it curious then, that I just can't seem to shake something someone once said to me. Coming from someone I thought was a friend, one day literally out of the blue the statement was made "I question your motives". When I pressed for clarification, details, anything - I got nothing. It was just left as is, and caused me to walk away shaking my head. This was a couple of years ago now, and it still puzzles me. Question my motives about what? Homeschooling? Bread baking? Writing, photography, birding, doctrinal/theological interests, belgian chocolate, baseball, badminton, red nail polish, wearing birkenstocks...? I never did get an answer from the person who said it, and the friendship quickly cooled (not by my choice) after that day, to a point where I almost never talk to this person anymore. That bothered me then and it still bothers me now. I never did get an answer, so all it left me doing really, was questioning what kind of friendship that really was in the first place. Do friends really drop a bomb like that then walk away, leaving you without answers? Well, in my definition of friendship no, they do not.

QUESTION YOUR OWN MOTIVES

As a mom, I learned early on that asking you kids "why" they did something, you will almost always get the answer "I don't know". Truth be told, they really do know, but because they usually don't think through the things they do on the fly, as children, they don't take the time to stop and think about why they did or said certain things. They are children so they think like children and do goofy children things. So in asking them "why", you're pretty much assured of getting the old stand-bye of "I dunno". (Please be advised that this changes in a 180 degree fashion when they're teenagers, and know everything, as evidenced by the answer "I know" to everything you say). But as children, they really do know, and will often actually tell you what their motive was, if you give them to opportunity to think it through.

One of the things I picked up on some years back, was to encourage my kids to try to come up with an answer to that question. To think about what was going on, who was there, what was said, what was done, how they felt and what they were thinking, and the real reason they did or said the thing they did or said. When one of my kids tells me "I don't know" I generally respond with "yes you do, if you really give it some thought". It's amazing the answers they'll give you, when you encourage them to think it through. The whole point in doing this is to give them the tools to think and question their own motives, before they ever do things to begin with, rather than react on pure emotion (which we all do, at times). It's a way to teach them to be honest with themselves first and foremost, so that they never use the "I don't know" excuse, to excuse their own behavior. We consistantly remind them to check their own motives, attitudes, decisions and feelings, and we hope that as they grow up that they'll take that with them. it might not ever spare them from hearing someone else say to them "I question your motives", but it will allow them to consistantly practice checking their own motives, which is much more important.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Random Stuff for a Random Day

FLU INSTRUCTIONS

So here's what you do if you have the flu, and can actually sit up. Sitting up is good, unless you have a laptop and can lay down on your couch (in which case, sitting up is entirely optional). You already know you're going to miss church, so you might as well set yourself up with some good audio teaching. These are the ones I've listened to so far:

The Power of the Gospel
Heresy is Not a Victimless Crime!
God Bless America...With Repentance
The New Gods of Evangelicalism


They're all good, but I'd recommend this last one, first. There's lots more here.

I like this page especially, because a.) I'm a James White minion, and like it and b.) I have dial up, and these are 1. free and 2. streaming. I don't have to wait for a thousand years to download anything, and this is good for dialupper people like me.
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De-grouching Instructions

buy one for yourself and one for your favorite grouch. If your favorite grouch doesn't wear it, you be sure to wear YOURS everytime you know you're going to see them. Eventually, they'll give in and wear theirs as well. Together, it just may be possible to de-grouch the world. (and it'll be a hoot, trying!)
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TELEPHONE ETIQUETTE INSTRUCTIONS

Phone ringing: ring, ring
Me answering: hello?
Woman calling: hello, may I please speak to Carla?
Me: this is Carla
Woman: is this Carla Rolloff?
Me: (rolling my eyes) um... no
Woman: is this Carla R-o-l-f-e? (spells it)
Me: yes, may I ask who's calling?
Woman: could you just verify your address with me?
Me: who's calling please?
Woman: if you could just verify your address with me first, I can answer your question
Me: no, I'm not going to tell you my address, until you tell me who YOU are
Woman: thank you for your time, goodbye

Me, hanging up and muttering under my breath "how stupid is that? telling a complete stranger my address..."

Don't mess with me, I have the flu. Now where is my lol t-shirt?

/snarl

(Update on Phone Lady: I dialed *69 and got her number. Turns out, the phone company has been applying my phone bill payments to the wrong account number, and my phone bill account was turned over to a collection agency! Un-be-lievable. So, "gimme your address" lady was from a collection agency who wants the money I've already sent to the phone company. Gack and PFFT on that mess.)