Tuesday, May 14, 2013

God's Rainbow


The falling rain dissolves into mist 
And the thunder begins to die
As the sporadic lightning fades
An arch of color pours from the sky.

Rainbows appear after mighty storms
When things look their worst
Just when the sky is darkest gray,
Out of Heaven does a rainbow burst.

God first sent the rainbow to Noah
As a sign that His word is true
The rainbow's eternal message 
Still speaks to me and you.

The rainbow is a sign of God's promise
That He will guide us through any storm
That He will ease all our troubles,
No matter what their form.

When you feel battered by life's storms
And you are filled with doubt and dismay
Just remember God's rainbow is coming,
For it's blessing you have only to pray.


--- Author Unknown

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Mother's Priorities - Being Your Husband's Bride

We've got to remember that before we were mothers, we were brides. It can be so easy to forget. Not that we can extend the natural novelty of being newlyweds. But I think that being a bride is representative of the miraculous and holy union of a man and woman under God. 

What is a bride but a woman who has decided to devote herself to one man? So much so, that she abandons her former name to possess his name. It signifies her new identity and devotion to him alone.

But after children come along, oftentimes the bride disappears and the mother sort of takes over. Motherhood is a beautiful and wonderful thing. But if we focus on being a mother and forget that we are first and foremost a helpmeet, problems develop. There are a lot of moms out there who are now on their own because they forgot they were first a bride.

Naturally, children will take every waking hour we give them and their needs are legitimate and constant. But a wise mother will be able to distinguish between needs and wants and remember that her husband was there first. And his needs have not changed. He still needs his sweetheart, partner, friend, lover, buddy and playmate. He needs his bride. So how in the world does she do it all? 

Plan Ahead

The famous Duggars have shared how they cope as a couple with the constant additions of babies to their lives in their books. They said they made an agreement to take a break from physical intimacy for the first 2 months or so after each birth. Michelle says this gives her a chance to heal after the birth and put her focus on the new baby. They both count on and anticipate drawing close again at the agreed upon time. I think this is such a great idea. Kind of takes the pressure off of a new mom. 

What is also smart about that arrangement is that it's prearranged so they each know what to expect eliminating the chance for friction or disagreements later on.  

Quiet Time
Another way to make room in your day for your husband is instigating a regular nap/quiet time each day.  As they got older, they outgrow the nap but they can read during that time instead. By that time the routine is set and gives mom a chance to catch up on whatever she needs to and feel rested and refreshed for her husband in the evening. 

Prioritizing your time is going to be key to investing into your marriage. Keep your golden anniversary in view and romance and togetherness a priority. I think the high rate of divorce comes from couples who lose sight of the goal. The destination is to live happily ever after.  Maybe the "after" includes "after having children"? ha. 

Special Needs Are No Excuse
Some of our children have had medical issues that kept us in and out of the hospital so I know what busy means.  

But through it all, my husband and I clung to one another, reminding each other that "this too shall pass".  And it did. And we are still here. A little worse for wear, maybe, but we're smiling and kissing and loving one another till death do us part. 

But I want to encourage those of you who may have it rough right now with special needs issues and remind you that you and your husband are going through it together as a team

Regardless of the challenges of parenthood, finances, medical issues or anything else, being your husband's sweetheart can still be near the top of your priorities. Remember that the love between you and your husband is what brought you those kids in the first place. Do all you can to keep your marriage healthy and thriving.  Because one day those kids are going to leave and get lives of their own and your life return to just the two of you.

If you plan for it, expect it and look forward to it, you will keep your heart ready for when the time comes.  I'm always shocked when I hear of marriages that end after, like, 40 years of marriage, like Al and Tipper Gore's did. God hates divorce no matter who it is. And no matter how many in Christendom try sanction it. 

Be Your Husband's Sweetie

Remind yourself often of why you married your man, how wonderful living happily ever after is and that you have made a covenant between God and your husband.  

In the tough times, pray. Some people inwardly roll their eyes at the suggestion to pray as though it just weren't practical enough. But thinking that way is a mistake and reveals a disproportionate view of God and a prideful heart. 

When we humble our hearts to the Lord, hand him the keys to our lives and seek him in prayer we are partaking in a miracle. Prayer is the miraculous connection between the creator of the universe and little ol' me. 

Thank God every day for giving you the life you have, and the husband you share it with. You can protect your home, your  children and your marriage by never neglecting what started it all - once upon a time you became your husband's bride.  :-)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sin Nature - Answering Verses

After reading my article on churchianity a reader asked:


"Verses like Psalm 51:5, Romans 7:5, Romans 8:4 & 9, Galatians 5:19 & 24, etc, all talk about sin nature. My NIV bible says 'sin nature', my KJV bible says 'flesh'. Is this the same thing? I always took them to mean we are all born with sin already in our hearts."

This is a great question. She asked if flesh and sin nature are the same thing, and the answer is no. First, there is no such thing as "sin nature" and we'll be looking at that scripturally. Secondly, flesh is flesh - it's what gets burned, cut, gets a rash, gets buried - flesh is flesh.  The greek word for flesh is sarx and it's used 144 times and translated as flesh 143 of those times in the KJB.

Let's look at the first verse asked about in Psalm 51. Reading the chapter for context, we see that David is praying a sinner’s prayer before God and mourning over his sin.  He says “that in sin did my mother conceive me.” 

The verse doesn't say that he had a sinful nature. It said he was conceived in sin. So when David’s father, Jesse, went into David’s mother, were they sinners? Was she a sinner? Was Jesse a sinner? Yes they were. When the conception took place in the womb, and sperm and egg came together, did it occur inside of sin? It sure did. David was conceived in sin.

It didn’t say anything about his nature, or about the state of his being or his character. It is David in his mourning over his sin. He’s thinking, referring back to the fact that from the very first moment of his existence, which was conception, it was in a state of sin.

Not once does the word “sinful” ever appear with the word “nature” in the King James Bible. In fact, every time that the word “nature” is used the opposite is implied. Only books like the NIV replace it with the invented term "sinful nature".   

The sin nature doctrine says that sin would be God’s fault, not mine, because I was born predisposed to sin and incapable to doing anything else. If it were true, it would be the best of all excuses for sinning. 

When we are born, we are born separated from God. And that makes us predisposed to independence which leads to sin. But we are not born with some kind of a fixed inclination to sin. We are born with a fixed inclination to indulge. Which is what God created Adam with. 

Adam had a desire to see things pleasant, feel things pleasant, to eat food, to be wise. All of these are gifts God gave him. And it is those very attributes that Adam exercised that led to his sin.

So if the presence of universal sin can only be explained by sinful nature, how would you explain Adam having sinned or Lucifer having sinned before that? (Luke 10:18Certainly there was no possibility of any kind of an evil nature being present. 

Or how would you explain the fact that Christ was tempted in all points like as we are?  Certainly he didn’t have Adam’s nature. Yet he was tempted. What was the nature of the temptation? What was in him that could be aroused to lust, to disobey God, except his God given human attributes? 


If you take your King James Bible you’ll find no mention of "sinful nature" nor will you find that the bible EVER teaches or intimates in any way that the spirit of an individual is dead. There are no verses that teach that - that you have a dead spirit. Or that your spirit needs to be regenerated. That’s simply not taught in the Bible. That’s a matter of theology. It’s not in the Bible. 

The Bible teaches that what needs to be regenerated is your body.  What your soul needs is to be rightly related to God in the forgiveness of sins. When Adam sinned, he lost proximity to God. He no longer walked with God.  

So if you say that you have a sinful nature inside of you: 

  • Where is it inside of you? 
  • If you took the sinful nature out, would there still be a nature there? 
  • If you added a second nature that was not sinful, would you have two? (That’s what is taught.) 
  • Is that sinful nature in your mind? 
  • If you forgot those thoughts would it not be sinful anymore? 
  • Is the sinful nature in your spirit? 
  • If it is, what’s the nature of the sinful nature? 
  • They say, ‘it’s an inclination to sin’. 
  • So, that inclination to sin, does it dominate every aspect of your spirit and mind? 
  • Is that the only nature you’ve got is one sinful nature? 
  • If I’ve got a sinful nature, if I AM a sinful nature, could I do anything other than what’s consistent with my sinful nature - would I always sin? 
  • Could I ever do righteousness? 
  • Would I ever WANT to do righteousness? 
  • Would there ever be a struggle between good and evil if I were just a sinful nature? 
  • And when did I get that sinful nature? 
  • Was it created by God?  They say, “no it happened when Adam sinned”.  
  • Did Adam re-created his own substance? 
  • Did he change the substance of his soul or of his body when he sinned?  
  • Or did God come in right behind his sin and recreate him and re-tool him and turn the screws and reprogram him so that now all he wants to do is sin? 
  • Is that what happened?  
  • If sin will do that to you, if sin changes your nature, and if then that sin is passed on to future children (as it’s taught) then what about when Cain sinned and murdered? Did all of his descendants by nature become murderers in consistency with that?  
  • And what about when your dad sinned - did you inherit his sinful nature as well?  
  • And what about all the sin of all of our past fathers - did all of those sins, each one, change the nature of future generations?
  • Did each one re-create his own nature with every act of sin so that ultimately we are the accumulation of all the sins of the past? 



There are only a handful of verses that are used to promote the sinful nature teaching and we're going to be examining each one in the coming weeks. We'll begin with Psalm 58. 


Ps 58: 3 The wicked are estranged from the womb. They go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies.

Remember what this doctrine is attempting to prove is that when a baby is born, the baby is born sinful. 

The theologians are not trying to prove that all men are sinful, or all men or lost or all men are deserving of damnation or that all men sin.  We all believe that. 

What they’re attempting to prove is that all babies, as soon as they come out of the womb, are already in a state of condemnation and blame.  That the babies are guilty and deserving of hell. That the babies come out with a record of sin to their charge as soon as they’re born. 

If taken to the extreme, we’d have to conclude that as soon as the child is conceived, he or she is a sinner. That the little baby kicking around in your womb is guilty and has a record. Because it's taught that in “Adam all sinned”. The bible doesn’t say that, but that’s what is taught. 

So they teach when Adam sinned, your little baby was there in Adam eating the fruit of the tree. And that God got so angry and upset with not only Adam but your little baby, eating the fruit of the tree, that God damned your child at that point.  And that when your child is born, he’s born with a nature inclined to sin that started at that point and that he’s born blameworthy. 

As always, the context of the passage must be sought to seek understanding of the verse. Let’s read:

Psalm 58:1 Do ye indeed speak righteousness, O congregation? do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?

He’s addressing adults, right? “ye sons of men”. He’s not addressing children. 

2 Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.

He’s speaking to adults about their heart and about what they weigh and about their violence. You wouldn’t accuse an infant of being violent. Next, what does he say they were they from the womb? Were they evil from the womb? Is that what he says? Were they sinners from the womb? Did he say they were guilty from the womb?  What does the scripture actually say that they were “from the womb”? Let's read:

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb.  

Now what does estranged mean? It means separated. It means removed from, out of contact with. When Adam sinned, didn’t God separate himself from Adam and in that act, he seperated himself from Adam’s descendants so that all babies who are born, are born into a kingdom that’s outside God’s domain?  There’s nothing deep or profound about that. It's very understandable and written in plain terms.

Who is estranged from the womb? The Psalmist said the wicked are. He’s already told us who the wicked are. It’s these who are commiting violence with their hands. The New Testament says the wicked are “without God and without hope” (Eph 2:12). That’s a statement about relationship not a statement about nature. That’s a statement about how one relates to God not the quality of his heart. It goes on to say:

3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. 

Notice it’s as soon as they’re born, not before. How would an infant go astray speaking lies? The difficulty in that verse isn’t at all in the fact that they’re lying, but that it’s a baby doing the lying. How would an infant speak lies? Can a baby speak lies? 

Well as soon as an infant is born, he has a desire for pleasure. He seeks to be warm, to be held, to nurse, to breath freely. Babies seek all manner of pleasure. And babies soon learn they can communicate with the outside world and cry and say ‘I’m hurting, save me from this pain”, or cry and say "I’m cold, make me warm’. 

Babies soon learn that crying gets a response and they figure out they can cry as though they're in pain but really they just want to be picked up. So looking at it this way, we could possibly attribute that from the womb, from birth, the child begins to lie. But does God account it to the child as sin? What does the Bible say?

To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not to him it is sin.  ~ James 4:17

The Bible tells us that where there is no law there is no transgression. In other words, God does not impute the 'lie' to the child as sin. 

And to take it further, if he did impute it to the child as sin, then all this verse has taught is that children begin willful sinfulness from the moment they’re born. Because a lie is telling an untruth. 

All this verse teaches at the worst case scenario, is that from the moment a child is born, he tells untruths. 

It doesn’t say anything about the condition of the child before his birth. Nor does it say anything about the quality of his soul. Only about his actions.  

Reading on:

4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent:
they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear;

5 Which will not hearken to the voice of charmers,
charming never so wisely. 

The Psalmist is describing the wicked. That is some strong language. And he has the response to these wicked who go astray from the womb:

6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth:
break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord.

So the Psalmist says that these wicked who go astray from the womb should have their teeth broken out. How many babies are born with teeth? Not enough to quantify that the wicked referred to here are babies. Have you ever prayed a sincere prayer that God would break out the teeth of the babies? Break out their teeth?  He goes on to say:

7 Let them melt away as waters which run continually:
when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. 8 As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away:

Have you ever poured salt on a snail? The Psalmist is praying that these wicked who go astray from birth would melt like a snail and pass away...

like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

Now this wicked person he’s talking about here who goes astray from birth speaking lies, he’s prayed for God’s vengeance and he said that when this vengeance comes, that the righteous will rejoice and wash their feet in the blood of these wicked ones. 

Do you really believe that the author here is talking about God’s hatred and wrath for infants? Or is he describing a willful, grown, adult sinner who’s engaged in immorality and violence and bloodshed, and that from the day that this individual, this wicked sinner was born, he went astray speaking lies?

In other words, he’s using the language of description to illustrate the longevity of the sin of this particular individual.  Do you see that? He’s using expositive language saying that this wicked man standing here, this blood thirsty, Godless criminal, ought to have his teeth broken out and his blood be shed and we’ll walk in it and rejoice because this man has been a sinner his whole life, from the day he was born, he was lying. 

That’s not a statement of his nature. It’s a statement about the way he’s lived his life. 

Regardless of doctrinal position, I don’t know of anyone that would pray for God to break out the teeth of a baby and walk in his blood and rejoice in his judgment. 

Do you think hyper-calvinists who take their infant to get sprinkled and make a covenant with God to wash away his original sins (which is what they do) to guarantee his salvation (covenant theology - they make a covenant with God) and the preacher woman comes up and sprinkles a little water on him, that the parents looking down at the face of their infant really believe that God hates him? That God’s going to put him in the fires of hell if he doesn’t get sprinkled and get this covenant made? 

I don’t think that they believe that. In one hand they seem to hold their doctrine while in the other they hold the truth. 





Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dinner Tonight - Zuppa Toscano Soup!

With all the rain and thunderstorms we've been having this week, some hot comfort food sounded really good. So I made Zuppa Toscano soup for dinner tonight.  

This is a creamy, flavorful soup that the Olive Garden restaurant made famous, and it's a family favorite.  The best part is that it's so easy to make.

You only need a few simple ingredients - sausage, bacon, kale, onion, olive oil, half and half, red potatoes and chicken broth (I didn't have any broth on hand so I used "Better than Bouillon" and water)

First cut open the sausage 


 brown it in a little olive oil

Chop the bacon (I used precooked) and add it to the pot

Chop the onion and add it to the pot

Add the broth and salt and pepper to taste


Wash and chop the kale (removing the tough stems first)




Add the kale (a super food!)


Stir it in



Add the half and half


Bring to a boil then reduce the heat.  
 Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes. 


Serve with with a little parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top.

  

Zuppa Toscana Soup Recipe

1 lb. Italian sausage 
1 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 slices bacon (precooked is fine), chopped
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups half and half
3 large red potatoes, thinly sliced
3 cups Kale, washed, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste


Directions: 

1. In a large pot, sauté the Italian sausage 
2. Add the bacon and onion and cook till onion is tender - about 5 minutes.
3. Add the chicken broth (or bouillon and water), sliced potatoes, chopped kale, salt, pepper and half and half. 
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for half an hour.  Serve hot with crusty bread and a green salad along side. 


Churchianity Part 2

I'm sure there are other definitions for church-ianity out there, but to me it's when people are consumed with the process of church - appearances, performances, routines, rituals, and structures - far more than they are about God's truth, loving God and loving people.

So many pastors, bishops, deacons and elders in churchianity seem to forget that they are actually accountable to the people they are teaching. They seek and enjoy the "limelight" of being out in front teaching others, but often ignore that such a privilege comes with the extremely sobering reality of accountability.  

This pastor and his family are very gracious and open about their personal lives.  They are a lovely family and their sweet children have captured my heart completely.

But I can't help but feel that our friendship with them is contingent upon our becoming members of their church. Which is so sad.

My husband invited just the pastor over for dinner and discussion a few months ago and the pastor brought his right-hand man along. 

I served salad, spaghetti and homemade french bread and we had a very pleasant dinner conversation. Afterward,  I served coffee in the living room to the men, and 14yo and I went to another part of the house while the men talked. But our 16yo got to partake in the discussion with his dad. :)

They didn't get to finish their discussion so they intend to talk again another time. However, in some emails back and forth since then, the pastor has made it clear that he will explain what he believes, but will not 'debate' it.

Which is really another way of saying he will not submit his doctrines to any scrutiny.  This isn't right. All Bible teachers should be open to questions even if it contradicts the doctrines they learned in Bible college.

Correct doctrine is at the heart of Bible teaching. And bible teaching is at the heart of assembling together.  That is my vexation in a nutshell. :-)

As I see it, the big issue preached and sermonized about in most Christian churches today is about what to do with the big S word - sin.  The only problem is that what's being taught doesn't line up with what the Bible says concerning sin.

It's a popular belief that Adam and Eve died spiritually after the fall.  But I don't believe that. The reason I don't believe it is because it's not taught in the Bible.  The bible clearly teaches that when Adam and Eve sinned, something had to die because the penalty was death. 


Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death.

But instead of killing Adam and Eve, God shed the blood innocent animals and then clothed their nakedness with the animal skins. And from then on, the death sentence was passed on all men. Not spiritual death. 


Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Just a tiny example of verses regarding the very much alive and functioning human spirit:

Genesis 41:8
And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold it was a dream. And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled.

Q: How can Pharaoh's spirit be troubled if he's spiritually dead?

Genesis 45:26
And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:

Q: How could his spirit revive if his spirit was dead?

Exodus 35: 21
And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the Lord 's offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.

Q: How could they have willing spirits if they're spiritually dead?

Deuteronomy 2:30
But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day.

Q: Why would God harden a spirit that's dead? 

1 Chronicles 5:24
And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tilgathpilneser king of Assyria.

Q: How did God stir the spirits of these two men if their spirits were dead?

These verses and hundreds more speak of man's spirit as fully functioning.  

Another popular theology that churchianity teaches which has no basis in scripture is 'sinful nature'. I don't believe that either. Sin does not reside in our nature.  Sin is an action - doing that which we know is wrong. It's a choice.  


For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use in to that which is against nature.  - Romans 1:26

God shines the light of truth on every soul that comes into the world (John 1:9). The sin in this verse was not a result of the nature they received from Adam. This sin was against nature, as all sin is, not a product of it. Paul's teaching stands in conflict with most religious philosophies. 


And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.  - Romans 1:27

...leaving the natural use indicates they were endowed with natural tendencies, and through a conscious, responsible act they left that former, natural state for the lower, base, perverted imaginations of their own lusts. Again, the sin was a perversion of the natural design of body and soul. 

There are many, many other verses that are in direct contrast to the "sin nature" teaching which claims that sin resides in our nature and cannot be helped. But it's an unbiblical doctrine.

This is the biggest irritation for my family when we sit through a sermon at church is that each time sin is brought up, it's cloaked in the heresy of sinful nature. 

My husband wants to meet with the pastor again and hopefully get more of his questions answered this time.  What comes of that discussion will probably determine whether he wants us to continue with that church or not. 

I'll need extra grace if we do. And that's always a good thing.  :-)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Mother's Priorities - Table Manners and Meals

My biggest priority as a wife and mother is a happy household. That breaks down into a lot of little things. So in this post I'm going to focus on table manners and meals because meals make up such a large portion of each day. (At least they should. If you aren't making mealtime a family event you are missing a great blessing as well as teaching opportunities.) Many of life's battles can be fought and won at the family meal table. 

Food and nourishment 

Food is all tied up together with security, acceptance, provision and unconditional love to a child. So mealtime should be used as a wonderful opportunity to commune and love on your family.

To begin with, meals should be a pleasant experience and God has given wives and mothers the job of encouraging pleasantness at the table. Smiling is easy. You don't smile because everything went well that day or because life is a bowl of cherries. You smile because God is on the throne and has given you another day to live. 

Harried and stressful meals are no fun and actually disturb digestion. Kids learn to be thankful eaters or picky eaters in the highchair, so teach them right from the start to be thankful for whatever food is put in front of them.  Be an enthusiastic, but firm, promoter of whatever food they are about to eat. I would ask my children to take at least one or two bites of a food they didn't like. There was no anger, threats or frowning. They would take the bites because they knew that I had nothing but their good in mind.  Kindness is a great motivator.

The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without ever seeing any.  




When our children were little, they never had problem behaviors when we dined out because we practiced good table manners at home.  Every snack and meal was an opportunity to reinforce good habits.  Meal time is a wonderful time to show your children many things:


  • cleanliness before and after a meal
  • how to carry on a pleasant conversation (and turning answers back into questions) 
  • chewing with your mouth closed 
  • placing their napkin in their lap
  • speaking in turn
  • putting others first
  • saying please, thank-you, excuse me and "my pleasure"

Coming from very little ones, these phrases sound absolutely adorable. But you will be amazed at how honored you will feel 
when it comes from your older children. And it will bring great honor to your husband, too, so teach them while they're young! Every day is an opportunity. 


A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones. Proverbs 12:4


Speaking When Spoken To

In modern families, children have taken an "all-important" place of prominence in the home - their desires, their wishes, their schedules, their demands, their moods, their troubles, their thoughts - and it's tearing families apart. Children are definitely precious to us. They're our reward and blessing from the Lord. But parents have mistakenly given them the idea that they are #1.  

Many parents often give children precedence in conversations as though they have some kind of wisdom to share. But the truth is, children don't have much, if any, wisdom to share. They must learn wisdom. And they must learn restraint.  God's judgment on Eli concerning his two sons is very sobering.


1 Samuel 3:13  - For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.

Eli knew about his sons iniquity and he spoke to them about it. But God judged him because he did not do anything about it. 

Dear reader, it is not enough to say things like, "I don't like it when you do that."  It's not enough to say, "That makes me sad when you act like that."  When your child does something wrong, he needs swift retribution. You need to be ready to calmly walk over to them, lovingly give them some biblical chastisement and correct their behavior. 

Whatever they was attempting to gain through the wrong behavior, give them the opposite.  For example if they whine, beg, cry or  demand something, a quick switch on the rear might be necessary. Never let it make YOU whine or even ruffle your feathers. (In some families, whatever gets a rise out of mommy can be entertaining.)  Just calmly tell the child he cannot have anything that he whines for.  He will catch on quickly and learn right behavior. 

Do your kids dominate the conversation at meal time?  Or maybe they just dominate the day?  Begin at the table. Practice times when they are to be quiet at the table and only speak when they are spoken to. When they are quiet, they will get to hear dad and mom more. What a wonderful opportunity for them to hear more of their dad's wisdom. 

In bygone times, meals were a pleasant time where children enjoyed listening to their mother and father conversing.  This protocol is just as needful today.  Kids need to see that their mom and dad are a romantic, happy couple.  (Your husband needs it even more than they.) 

Kids need to hear their father talk about HIS day. They need to see their mother's eyes shine with admiration at their dad's accomplishments.  What better view for this than close up and seated at a table together?

If your kids take over the conversation at the table, and speak whenever they feel like it, you need to start teaching them these skills.  If this is something new, then start slowly and make a game of it at breakfast and lunch when your husband's at work. Make it fun. 

You will be amazed as meals become a joy and a pleasure to your hard working man and not a loud, annoying strain filled with constant messes, interruptions, spills, chaos and chatter. And you and your husband will enjoy carrying on a serene conversation at dinner time.  Don't forget to teach the children that after meal time is also clean up time. They should NEVER be allowed to leave and go play. Give them jobs. Clearing the table, rinsing the dishes, loading the dishes, wiping the table/counters, putting food away, etc.

It is YOUR home. You are making it what you want it to be. Do you like what you see? Pray for strength and wisdom to carry out a plan to bring honor to your husband and teach (example) wisdom to your children. 

Simple, understated acknowledgements of a child's growing capabilities is all that's necessary. 

Contrary to modern psychology, giving kids constant praise is not a good thing. Praise is different than encouragement. Overused phrases like, "Good job, buddy!" doesn't do much to encourage.  Besides, the term "buddy" is overused. The only households I've seen this term used are ones with problem children. 

Instead, try saying things like:

"You carried the dishes to the sink so carefully."
"You are a good helper to mommy in the kitchen, Jane. I like having you around."
"Look how Joey didn't spill any crumbs from the dust pan! He is a good helper".
"Your smile makes me so happy. We are a good team when we're working beside each other."

Be honest in your encouragement. If your praise is over-enthusiastic it will feel non-genuine to the child. Not only that, but over-enthusiasm is exhausting on the emotions.  It's wearisome to constantly be a cheerleader. I would rather a calm smile and hear genuine compliment than empty, repetitive praise. Seek balance in being relaxed yet merry. 



It's important to note that kids should help with whatever aspect of mealtime that you require. As soon as they can walk, they can clean up their place, sweep up their crumbs, clear the table and help with washing dishes. 


Whatever you want your home to be later on, starts right now.  If you want happy, obedient children, sow those seeds right now. Stay sweet and remember, you are laying the foundation that will reap immense results when they are older - for the good or the bad. 

Here is some "food for thought" on the benefits of teaching our children to listen more:

James 1:19 - Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

Proverbs 18:13 - He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Proverbs 25:12 - As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.

Proverbs 19:27 - Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 - For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


Remember, your home is what you make it!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Churchianity ~ Part 1

My husband and I have been on a journey of faith since the day that we got married 18 years ago. When my husband and I met, we had both been newly saved (born again) and we were hungry babes in Christ.  As we grew in our faith, we searched for a church. We longed for fellowship in a body of believers who truly believed the Bible. Although we eventually settled on a foursquare church and got involved in it for about 7 years, we found several inconsistencies in the doctrine taught there.

A few years later we moved to the east coast.  After searching for a church there and finding the results disheartening to say the least, we decided to have church at home with just our family. We sang songs and listened to preaching cd's by Michael Pearl which we thoroughly enjoyed. We were always inspired to study on our own after listening to them.

A few years after that, we relocated westward and have searched where we are now, too. We found a small church here a year ago that taught from the King James Bible and we began attending. We immediately noticed that the congregation of about 20-30 people (on a full day) didn't really show much fruit that born again believers ought to have - namely, joy.

The pastor is a younger man with a wife and young kids. They're very nice people and King James Bible believers. They agree with most of the doctrines taught in the Bible. (Most.)

In the beginning, there was no offering taken, no children's church or child segregation. We were beginning to think we finally found somewhere to gather for fellowship. However, over the past year the pastor (and his wife) have shown us that those things were only temporary. It's becoming apparent that hearts are not set on a family integrated church as we had thought because their priorities are shifting. They've begun to emphasize church membership which is an unbiblical standing. The only "membership" promoted and taught in the word of God is as members of the body of Christ.

They have talked of a bigger congregation and more church programs and have begun segregating the children to nursery and Sunday School.  The pastor's wife has repeatedly mentioned the importance of being "faithful to church".  I'd never heard such a term. We believe in being faithful to God and assembling together. But being 'faithful to church'? That's a new one.

After about 4 years of having church at home, hearing the preacher "sermonize"is, frankly, annoying.  Sermonizing is a very different thing than Bible teaching. The first time we attended this church my husband shared his thoughts in the car ride home that they are "playing church".  This is traditional, it is common and "normal" but after years of meaty bible study and no stuffed shirts, it is quite a jolt to sit through all the rigamarole of a church "service". 

At the home men's Bible studies, the pastor pulls out a mini-pulpit and stands and preaches from it rather than sitting on the sofa with the other men. Which is unfortunate because the main point of home bible study is for men to expound and discuss God's word.

Realizing that the leaders of this church are turning out to be about churchianity just like the others is so disheartening. But it is a minor annoyance compared to the real issue. The doctrine.

....................................................

I will finish that thought tomorrow.  Right now it's time to get my dinner on. Have a blessed day in Christ!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Parents These Days

It's become very common to see families with small children (and even not so small) who are demanding, unthankful, whiny, disobedient and stubborn.  The parents often look worn out, haggard and act as though this is normal.  That all babies are a handful. Oh and toddlers, too. And gradeschoolers. And highschoolers.  Does anyone see that parents these days are bemoaning EVERY stage of childhood?

Societal lies have convinced this generation of parents that it's normal for kids to be a big drain on your emotions, your wallet, your time and your life. It's normal for them to whine. It's typical for them to refuse to do what you say or want. It's average that they are picky eaters. And don't all little kids need 658 toys in bright primary colors to amuse themselves with?  The word "amuse" is an interesting study.



A - MUSE = NO THINKING.  When one is amused (entertained) there is no original thought patterns happening. It's all incoming - someone else's ideas designed to fill the mind and heart of the partaker.  This is in sharp and complete contrast to MUSE, which means to ponder or to think. 

I saw an hgtv show recently where a family was having a picnic dinner in their back yard because of renovations going on in their home which prevented them from eating inside. Their toddler got restless and whined that he wanted to see "his shows".  His dad corralled him, looked at him forlornly and in somewhat of a whining tone himself, told the child they he wouldn't be able see "his shows" right then because there was construction going on in their house right now. 


Parents who sit their children in front of television amusement to the point of the child having his "own shows" are making a grave mistake.  The reason they do it is to buy themselves some time. But the bill for that time will come as surely and swiftly as the noonday sun. And they will find it hard to pay. 


Children must be dealt with. Parents must see their children as small people with no self-discipline and all the passions of an adult bound up in 3 feet of unskilled and untested humanity. Parenting is a big job, but it is not a drag and it's certainly not impossible.  But when parents lack understanding and skills to train up their children, they wind up with children who are far from being a blessing. 


Giving children something to do that will keep them busy, teach them discipline and make them feel accomplished is an absolute necessity. So what could they do around the house with mom each that would fit this bill?  

Work!

Let them help you, mama. Let them roll the dough, sweep the floor, wipe the counter, feed the pet. Let them fold the socks, water the plants, dust the tables, stack the books, stir the soup and set the table. 


Let them work. Work is fun. It has immediate gratification and reward. Work is something that we are created to want to do. To be busy, useful and productive. 



Genesis 2:15And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 

Hobbies are an example of how work-oriented God has created us to be.  Even when we are not sweating and laboring at tough jobs, we invent things to do. Only instead of calling it work we call it a hobby.  Hobbies are just fun work. And much more refreshing and satisfying than camping oneself on a sofa in front of a screen. 

Just think of all the fun hobbies women often do, like crafts, scrapbooking, quilting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, cross stitching, painting, cooking and the list goes on.  


And men's hobbies are often woodworking, old car restoration, marksmanship, camping, hunting, chess, model building, whittling and the list goes on.

The point being that people - even little people (i.e. children) - need something to DO. Children are blank slates when they come into this world. Every impression we make on them must be deliberate and with a goal in mind.  Good goals begin with the proper understanding.



Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. (Proverbs 22:15)

So many mothers are asking their children what they want.  I believe that kids become overwhelmed when faced with too many decisions and actually prefer having the decisions made for them. 

The other day I was in a department store and a mother was holding up a couple of household items asking one of her very small children which one she should buy.  The kid's face was glazed with a mixture of uncertainty and power. It was really an odd thing to see. His eyes rolled around like spilled apples in the back of a pick up truck. 


I wanted to go over to that mother and politely say, "Please stop asking your children to decide for you. Just make the decision yourself and TEACH them what is good and right. Don't ask them which item you should buy. Choose the ones you know are good and then TELL them why those are the best ones. Stop making them choose everything."


This is the trend I'm seeing. Parents are either so cowering that they don't want to risk their child's wrath when their wills conflict or so curious that they are obsessively asking their children what they think and for their opinions years too soon. 


Little children do not have a clue which shirt to buy or what tv show is right. They must be shown by a loving parent. A mother who will guide her children into right behavior, right thinking and right doing is a wise mother. 

Don't ask them which movie they want to see. Choose one. Don't ask them what they want to do, tell them what it's time to do. It's time to pick up the mess.  It's time to do a puzzle.  It's time to empty the dishwasher. They need the structure.

Don't worry - you will not squelch their personality. When they are older and into their teens they will naturally give their opinions and want to express their voices. Believe me! :) And that is when they need to be heard and have their opinions matter and count for something. Because at that age, they are emerging into adulthood.

But while they are little, exert all the influence you can possibly muster. It is for their good. Lay their clothing out for the day. Don't let them dress themselves until they have been taught how to properly choose the right colors, types and coordinate things well.  


Meals are non-negotiable. Activities are mom-directed. Again, don't worry about how they will learn to choose. Choices are built-in to life. For example, going to the park they will choose which playground equipment to start playing on.  When they are coloring they'll choose which part of the picture to fill in first. When they are eating they will choose which food to eat first. When they are playing - choices galore!


Parents these days keep allowing "the village" to raise their children.  That is why 
I homeschool. Because I've seen the village and I don't want it raising my kids.

The "other kids" wear A and B, so these kids in these mixed up homes demand it, too. (Demand?!) The other families do such-and-such and go here and there, so these kids want to as well. These families are becoming a facade of a what a real family is. 


What is a real family? A father who leads his home, a mother who enjoys guiding it and children who are secure in their role and productive, members of a happy household. 



It's not about eliminating a child's choices or options.  It's about wise guidance. The world is big place full of unending choices. Don't overwhelm children when they're young. 

Providing balanced structure with wise limitations produces happy, well adjusted little souls.  And that leads to peace and harmony within the home. 



Happy homes are becoming a lost art. We need to pray that families today will turn to God in faith. And that they will look for their road map in the living Word of God.  

Have a blessed day sisters in Christ.


Proverbs 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.


Ephesians 6:1-4 - Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.   


Genesis 2:24 - Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

1 Timothy 5:8 - But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.


Ephesians 6:4 - And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.


Proverbs 23:22-25 - Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.