Tag: Christianity

God is in control or Christians and politics

Sometimes we Christians forget that God is in control.  We get caught up in the world and think along with them that government (or the economy or education or whatever the current big thing is) is the one in charge, the one that can make or break everything, the all knowing all doing entity.

Sometimes we forget that though God uses government, government is not God and will be corrupted, we will be persecuted (eventually), and we need to put our trust in God, not in man.

8If you see oppression of the poor and denial of justice and righteousness in the province, do not be shocked at the sight; for one official watches over another official, and there are higher officials over them.9After all, a king who cultivates the field is an advantage to the land. Ecclesiastes 5:8-9

No matter what happens God is in control.  We are NOT to be afraid or worry, we are to pray, trust God, and make sure WE are right with God (we can’t fix the world and aren’t supposed to–we are to tell them about Him and trust Him to make the changes.)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

On Cars and Christ

This post over at Knowledge House Academy got me reminiscing.  I have had at least 6 auto situations where God has stepped in and taken care of us in amazing ways.  One especially comes to mind, a story I don’t think I have ever told here but strangely enough ties in very much to where we are now.

Rachel--Taken in the fall before this story occured.
Rachel--Taken in the fall before this story occurred.

It happened about 10 years ago around Christmas. I needed something at Walmart, about 5 minutes away and hopped in our tiny Doge Daytona taking Rachel with me.   When I headed  out the roads were fine and it was still light out.  I probably spent more time there than planned because when we left the store the temperature had dropped and the snow was blinding.  I knew how to drive in the snow so was not the least bit worried about the icy roads or the snow, I was concerned about my very sleepy baby and getting home before my husband began to worry.

Half way home, on a nice straight stretch with snow piled 3 feet high on either side just before a major hill, our front right tire blew out. We didn’t wreck but there was no place to pull off  and I had no cell phone.  I started praying desperately and pulled into the driveway of the only lighted house I could see.  In tears I knocked at the door of the tiny pink house with a white fence around it all the while praying that the person behind the door was not a murderer or pervert and  would be kind enough to let me use their phone and willing to let me wait inside with my very sleepy 1 year old while we waited for help to come (the temperature was 32 degrees and falling) .

Behind that door was the most wonderful, Christian couple.  Myself a new Christian freshly baptized after leaving the Roman Catholic church, I was amazed at this spiritually mature couple.  The wife took me in and fed me hot tea while I called my husband to let him know where I was. Her husband, who had recently had back surgery and was actually off work because he was still recovering went out in the snow and quickly dropping temperature to change my tire for me.  It took over an hour before he managed it.  While we waited inside she ooed and awed over my little one, chatted about their ministry to her son’s teenage friends and how they were currently home churching (shocking to my formerly Roman Catholic ears).  I tried to convince her to join us at the church we attended right next door (which we left not long after) and was surprised that they disagreed with how things were done there, which were the same things we later ended up leaving over. She told me about some ministries I had never heard of and encouraged me to read the Bible and pray and together with my husband  make decisions based on that, not on what ministries or our church told us.

They moved away not long after that, and then we moved as well, and I never ran into them again.  Yet that discussion with her while her husband changed my tire opened my eyes to what Christian maturity could look like, beautiful, kind, encouraging, and hospitable, unafraid of what the outside world and even fellow Christians think, willing to be exactly where and when God has you.  And  looking back know, I realize that that conversation planted the seeds for our journey into home churching.  It took us 8 years to get there but it is where God has us now and I believe He provided that unknown couple (I don’t remember their names or even what they looked like, just their little pink cottage with the white picket fence and the rather large dog) not only to help me on that cold , dark night when I needed help but also to show me another world, one which was beyond my imagining.  A place world where “not going to church” is not a sin which you have to do penance for but a time of growing and learning, a time of rooting deeper into His word.  A world where taking in a stranger is good and right and not a thing to be feared.  A world where ministry doesn’t have to involve a church building but instead the people God sends your way.

And it occurs to me now that it must have take in a lot of faith for them to open the door to a perfect stranger and her baby, to change the tire right after back surgery instead of calling a tow truck (which we could not have afforded), to sit and chat with this baby Christian with her preconceived notions of what Christians should look like.  And I just want to thank them by sharing this story with all of you, because I have no idea where they are or what they are doing and have no other way of sharing what a profound influence they had on me and my family.

As you probably know, we home church.  It is a long story how we got to this place but it is definitely where God has us and He is blessing it greatly.  (Several of you have asked me to explain what our home church looks like–I will, God willing, do that next Sunday.)

For a time my husband and I were concerned about our lack of joining together with others.  We long to be with like-minded individuals who know Him, love Him, and understand and accept the place God has us, while helping us and allowing us to help them grow beyond where we all are.   This article by Seth Barnes explains very well what God has convicted both of us of and what we long for.

It is amazing to me how God is answering this particular need in our lives.  He has not provided people locally (aside from our own immediate family with whom we have grown much closer through our home church experience ) but He is providing them globally.  He has been slowly drawing together a community of believers online–people who are searching for others who “get” what God has shown them, who know what it is to be on the fringe of the accepted ways of doing school and church, who have been called to set themselves apart in this peculiar (to the worlds point of view) way.  I hope someday to meet these wonderful people in real life but for this time and in this season this is enough and it is a blessing.  For the time being He is growing our group over at http://Christianunschooling.com as well as other places.  He is providing beautifully, even if it seems untraditional and to some outright wrong.  But since God is never wrong and this is the place He has us I will continue to stay wher eHe has put me and mine and trust Him to see it out.

And I should note that this ties in perfectly with todays Sunday Praise Doodle which you can find here.

What I Have Learned about God from Unschooling

God is everywhere working all around us, just as learning is everywhere, and with both all we have to do is open our eyes to see so we can join in.

Photo: Trees in bloom.

When God really wants us to learn something He speaks to us through our circumstances exactly where we are.

Photo: Rachel’s gift to her brother and sister–peanut butter sandwiches inspired by Willy Wonka’s candy land.

Living for Him and loving His people should be our lifestyle just as learning should be a lifestyle.

Issac drawing in the dirt in the shade at the playground--it was too hot to be on the equipment.

Photo: Issac drawing in the dirt in the shade at the playground because the sun was too hot.

Opportunities to learn and to know God better are everywhere, not just in traditional settings.

Photo: Rachel also sits in the shade and draws.

In fact, those times when we are learning outside of traditional settings tend to be those where we learn and grow the most.

Found while out walking.

Photo: Daffodils found deep in the woods where we walked.

Expect the unexpected and don’t be surprised when God shows up.

Photo: Issac sits watching the fire burn the sticks he had gathered.

It is amazing the learning and growing that God has provided through living life to the fullest, finding joy in His creation, and reading about Him from His Word.  I am so thankful for the numerous opportunities He provides us to learn and grow in wisdom and understanding and in getting to know Him better.  God is GOOD!

My Testimony

Jen of Diary of 1 asked me (among a slew of other people) to write up my testimony.   I wrote mine up  back when I was running “What is the Shape of Your Faith?” which I may do again as several people have been asking about it.  This is the perfect time for me to transfer it over here.  

1. When did you become a Christian?

You can read the answer to this and the next four questions here. Go over then come back, we’ll wait.

2. Was there anyone instrumental in your decision to be a Christian?

3. Were there any difficulties to overcome in your early walk with God?

4. How did your life change after committing yourself to Christ?

5. Do you have a favorite Bible verse?

I have three favorite verses.  Joshua 1:9, Jeremiah 29:11Psalm 1:1-3

The Lord gave me the  first when I was just learning to read my Bible and full of fear.  Last January he gave us the last two as a promise.

6. What does it mean for you today to be a Christian?

It has changed a lot.

For a very long time I was just trying to learn to not be afraid, to not complain, to not lie.  Then later I was trying to learn how to love others and to be a good wife and mother then I needed a serious dose of humility.  Somehow now I spend more time praying for wisdom than anything, more time learning how to answer others than trying to fix myself.  Now it means loving Him completely and living in such a way that others see it.  I am blessed in that I have ample opportunities to use my gifts and talents to help others in ministry (which is my passion) as well as to help other women who are struggling through things I have dealt with.

Most recently He has been changing how I see those around us.  For a long time I had tunnel vision–I was only really friends with people like me.  I still have the same beliefs –those haven’t changed, but He has stretched my relationships  beyond anything I would ever have expected.

7. Any last words?

God has been very, very good to us.

Practical Tools to Help Stop Complaining in its Tracks

I have had several requests both in comments and emails for practical ways to apply a complaining fast (which I talked about in this post.) Our family is not yours and I would say the best thing to do is pray about it and ask God for wisdom before you start. The following are what work for us.
My kids and I are all visual learners–poor hubby is the only audio in the household. 🙂 This makes visual tools helpful and even necessary when trying to teach them–especially when trying to weed out something as deeply rooted as complaining. I have several reminders that I sketch out when the complaining starts. (I guess that I should also mention that avoiding tv is a great way to start–discontent is spread by tv commercials big time. We don’t have tv so it isn’t as much trouble though magazines are a discontent trigger around here.)

1. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

This applies as much to complaints as it does to antiques. You have likely heard it applied before –“Eat your vegetables, there are little children in your favorite country here who would love what you have.” As cliche as it is it is very true. You don’t have to point it out in the same manner that your parents did but pointing out that their best friend lives where there is NO SNOW is a very good way to remind the child who suddenly got snow when they wanted spring that they are blessed.

Finding a blessing in each complaint is an excellent way to go about this and puts the burden on the complainer instead of on the one trying to teach non-complaining (and there is no point in trying to teach it to your kids if you are a complainer–the whole plank in the eye thing applies here.) I have my kids draw their complaints and find five ways that their complaints could be considered blessings. (In fact, think about it, often the things you hate worst about another person are the things that you love most about them.)

2. Diagram your attitude.

In general, complaining stems from a selfish attitude. (Poor me/it’s all about me.) Yesterday we had a little lesson about this that helped my oldest visualize it and see why we are to focus on loving others instead of loving ourselves. In that case I used Rachel and all that she had complained about that day but for her sake I will use Alexander as an example. As you know from the story not only does Alexander have a terrible, no good, very bad day, but he also complains about it to everyone.

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Now some of the things that happened to him were his fault and some of them weren’t but all of them made him grumpy because of his focus. Instead of thinking about others and how they were feeling he was focused on himself and how each thing made him feel.

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What happens when you are focused on yourself and how things make you feel is that you start to collapse in on yourself. You stop thinking about others and how they are feeling and think more and more about yourself. It is the very reason complaining leads to depression. The more you coplain the more you self-focus, the more you self-focus the more you have to complain about .

What happens if you turn around each of these complaints and make the best of each?

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Sure these things seem goody-two-shoes but this IS the way we are called to respond as Christians. And look what happens when those attitudes change:

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We grow outward! Instead of collapsing in on our selves there is plenty of room to expand out towards others. You can always think more about others–there is only so much room for you to focus on your self. The cool thing is that when I was doing this illustration with Rachel I didn’t notice the collapsing/expanding part–she noticed it and it hit home.3. Count your blessings.

This one is kind of obvious. Sure, you may have something that seems like a curse but what about your blessings? Complainers tend to focus on the bad stuff and often need to make plenty of “thankful lists” before they break the habit. This is how God did it for me. Every time I started to complain I would battle it with a praise. After a while the complaining habit broke and it was replaced with a habit of praise. With my kids I have them write or draw it–and once they get started it is hard to stop.

4. Dying to self.

John 12:23-25

This illustration goes even further as we applied it to our life in Christ. We are called to die to ourselves and Christ uses a seed as an example. So, I used a seed to demonstrate this same concept.

Now, I grew up on a large space of land and we had lots of oak trees. That means we had TONS of acorns. A few of the acorns made it into the ground each year but more of them were stored up to be eaten or rot. Some acorns that were left behind would start to put forth shoots and grow roots, others would just stay acorns. My brother and I used to play all kinds of things with acorns and, in the spring, more often than not would find rotten ones full of worms.

The other ones, the ones that put forth shoots soon were no longer acorns. They didn’t rot at all instead they grew into tiny trees, and the ones that really persevered would grow into huge oak trees.

So for an acorn to stay an acorn meant it would eventually rot and get worms but the one that gave up being an acorn became a mighty oak tree. An acorns such a small, little thing but it is full of an amazing potential if it is willing to give up being an acorn. The same applies to us.

When we are caught up in ourselves and complaining all the time we are like a acorn trying to stay an acorn. When we stop looking at ourselves and think about others we can grow.

Benefits of Homechurch

You’re never late–even when it is daylight savings time and everyone wakes up way past when any church starts.

In other words today church will be later–probably evening. 🙂  Actually it often is since that is when my husband prefers having it.

Squirmy kids only interrupt a few people and the leader can stop church and deal with any disciplinary issues.

When fellowshipping and worshiping in a smaller group–in our case, immediate family (Matthew:18: 19-20) it is a simple thing to deal with a noisy kid and there is no embarrassment  on the parent’s part because the children like to sit front and center where they can see everything  so the parent has to lead the small crowd all the way back to the back of the sanctuary to remove the kid.  This also includes bathroom breaks which are always more frequently needed when children are sitting in church.

The lesson can be taught in a way the the children “get it” and can be discussed at the moment instead of trying to remember all the questions later.

When we “went to church” the kids went with us and were expected to pay attention–well at least the older two, Issac spent the time rolling his cars under the pews.  This meant that they would often have questions whichthey whisper during the sermon.  Later, on the way home, we would ransack our brains trying to remember what their questions were.  Now the kids ask immediately and the “sermon” is more a discussion of a reading as it takes place than a lecture.  Not only does this benefit the children but it also benefits the adults involved–one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to someone else.

The children are actively involved in the lesson.

My girls adore reading verses that have struck them during the week aloud after the main Bible reading.  They also love to share what God has been doing in their lives throughout the week.  Issac is not quite as interested in what is going on–last week he spent the entire time determined to read quietly from my Bible.  He read two paragraphs of the chapter we were reading–Mark 7.

We can focus on a verse or section as long as we need to.

God has been speaking to us through Mark 7 for two weeks now.  Shamus and I are also reading through Romans together on the side and God has lined up our readings brilliantly and is teaching us much.  Our church time is also much shorter than traditional church.  We don’t need to spend an hour on a subject unless the conversation goes on that long.  Often the main conversation is short and then extends into later conversations throughout the week.

The kids are with us and no one is  pointing out that there are all kinds of “Children’s Ministries”.

Some time ago the Lord started convicting us that our children needed to be learning beside us instead of in a separate classroom.  Some children benefit from “children’s church” and all that entails but not my kids and God made it very clear.  When we went to the more crowded services, kids in tow, many well meaning adults would gently let us know that the church had a wonderful “children’s program”.  When we began attending the smaller, earlier service the mostly elderly adults loved to pull us aside and bless us for bringing our little ones so they too could be fed.   I agreed with them and was delighted to know others felt that way.  I know that “Children’s ministries” are necessary for some but don’t tell me that you have a family friendly church and then separate my family at every possibly moment.  Child friendly?  Yes, family friendly?  No.  Family friendly to me means beneficial to the family as a family unit.  There are no scriptures that I can think of that refer to children being taught separately from their parents but there are several that refer to women and children being present while the teaching was going on– Ezra 10 is one of my favorite examples but when Jesus taught the women and children also gathered to listen (for example see Matthew 14:13-18.)

We are living out  Proverbs 22: 5-7 and Deuteronomy 4:8-10.

Homechurching and homeschooling give us ample opportunity to focus on what each child specifically needs to learn.  It also allows us to live what we teach and teach what we live.  Our goal is not to train our children in the way WE THINK they should go but in the way God designed them to go.  We are giving them the tools they need and making sure we teach them His truths at every step of the way.  We are also able to remove separate the traditions of men from the truth of scripture so they can stay focused on Him.  The Lord has reminding us of this over the last few weeks as we study Mark 7 and Romans 1-5.

As I said before–homechurch isn’t for everyone and God has definitely called us specifically to homechurch for this time.  It has been a real blessing and the above listed are just a few of the ways.

Take Care of the Orphans

I was planning to write some more about our home-church situation today, however, I read a post today that is on my heart and which I want to share with you.

Today Seth Barnes shared his heart regarding orphans.   Please go there, read, and pray about what he is saying, and God willing, act.

Our God is Father to the fatherless and Husband to the widow and He has asked us to play a part in His care for them.  He has blessed us immensely with his great abundance that He may use us to help others.

Untraditional Church: How we got here.

I have been thinking that I should post on this subject for a while but am leery of making someone else defensive of where God has them.

So before I explain let me say this--What God has for us is NOT exactly the same as what God has for someone else. I don’t know what His plan is for you other than that He wants you to love Him as He loved you and wants to grow you into the very best person in Him that you can be. I am comforted to know that He has called others to this same place and that we are not alone in this. I also recognize that just as He calls some to keep their kids in public or private school, He calls some to stay in the traditional church institution. At this point I think I will be spending Sundays explaining how we got here, what we do, and why–both from the personal view point and the scriptural. To start I want to explain how we got here and where we come from. It is a bit of a long story so grab yourself some coffee and make yourself comfortable.Read More