Thursday, September 28, 2006

Submission and Headship

Adrian is braving the topics of submission and headship this week. What a courageous guy ;-). He posted on submission yesterday and is planning to post on headship tomorrow. Since I am not going to find time to post anything else of substance myself this week, go read Adrian's posts instead.

I'm leaving out of town just after babysitting tomorrow morning, getting back late Saturday night, and we just had guests leave who were here since Sunday. Thus goes my excuses for being so fleeting this week. Maybe I'll find a bit more time for my blogging friends next week, since I'll be on fall break from teaching (though still tutoring and babysitting). Ta ta for now! I'm off to grade papers, answer e-mails, and deal with paperwork that has been piling up for the past few days. . . hoping to finish before tutoring starts this afternoon!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Joy Under the Sun

I claim no originality for any of the below, as much of it is verbatim from Ecclesiastes. I shamelessly plagarize scripture when I write poetry :).


Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.
What does a man gain by his toil?
Like cycling winds of ceaseless calamity,
So are a man's days on earth's soil.

A man may labor faithfully under the sun.
But for what? He lives and then he dies.
The fruits of his toil will go to another one.
The same end meets all, fool or wise.

Under the sun, toil is the lot of wise and fool.
What gain have the wise? They die too.
But above the sun, another measuring tool
Is used to sort mankind in two.

Not the fool and wise, but the righteous and sinner:
Such is God's view above the sun.
To the upright God grants peace in daily dinner,
Joy while their tasks are being done.

Not freedom from toil, but joy amid his labors,
Is granted to one who fears God.
The righteous one's task is not unlike his neighbor's.
To the daily grind all are called.

Instead the difference lies deep inside a man's heart.
The just for their dear Lord do live.
They see the great drama of which they are a part,
And to God, great glory they give.

But, one may protest, all have sinned. Who can please God?
Joy for the righteous is all well,
But there are none righteous, none who seek to please God.
Dead in sin, all are bound for hell.

'Tis true, yes, but not the whole truth, for there is hope.
God sent His only Son to die.
He saw sinful men, as in the darkness they groped.
To low man He came from on high.

The sinless Lamb shed His blood for His wayward lambs.
The speckled flock became snow-white.
Clothed with the righteousness of He with nail-scarred hands,
By faith they now walk in the Light.

Both the righteous and the sinner share the same work.
Toiling on earth under the sun.
But for Christ's sheep, tasks are worship, duties they shirk
Not, but worship in light of the Son.

Meaning in Life

The women's Bibly study at our church this fall is going through Ecclesiastes, which really excited me! Most of the Bible studies of which I've been a part have studied the New Testament, which I love :), but it's interesting to delve into an Old Testament book as a group, and I think it's important to study the whole counsel of scripture. In my past readings of Ecclesiastes I've always found the book rather interesting and a mixture of depression and hope.

Ecclesiastes is Solomon's musings on life, and the drudgery of it all. He questions the meaning or purpose of the endless cycle of toil that man is doomed to live "under the sun." It's interesting to read, as Solomon searches for meaning in accomplishments, possessions, women, wisdom, etc., but continually realizes that even these things are fruitless of themselves. He brings back the perspective to one "above the sun," as he looks at God's perspective, and how God brings joy and meaning to those who are His children.

Ch. 2, v. 25: For apart from him [God] who can eat or who can have enjoyment?

The beginning of chapter 3 is the pretty well-known "for everything there is a season" passage: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted . . . It is so neat to read that passage, as it reminds me that everything in our lives has an appointed time. There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, it says. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to embrace, and a time to refrain. It reminds me of another verse that says, weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. The beginning of chapter 3 is a reminder that each season in our lives is part of God's plan for us and is appointed for a time. It won't last forever, but will someday make way for a new season.

Often as Christians we're impatient (I know I can be!) to be serving the Lord the way we think would be best, in some "bigger" way (missions, etc.), or in some way that would suit our purposes and desires, but primarily we are called to just serve God in our daily lives, where he has already placed us. We are usually called to serve God not by changing what we are currently doing day-to-day, but by doing those day-to-day tasks for Him, for His glory. It reminds me of I Corinthians 10:31, Whether then you eat, or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. This is the overarching lesson that the Lord has been teaching me over the past year and a half, since I graduated college.

What a different perspective is the one "above the sun" than the perspective below! Below, our toil seems fruitless, but above, everything we do is to God's glory. Wow. That really helps me put things in perspective, because right now I want to serve God by nurturing my own children and instructing them of God's love, but that's not where He's placed me right now! But that doesn't mean I can't glorify Him as I teach, tutor, babysit, or even as I iron clothes or scrub dishes - more so, in fact, since those are the tasks He has currently given for me to do. Ch. 9, v. 10 of Ecclesiastes says, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. If only I could faithfully carry out this verse always! That is the challenge to every Christian.

Also, I love verse 11 of Chapter 3. There are two important truths here. First, He has made everything beautiful in its time. Wow. That doesn't mean all things are beautiful now, but that God is working to make all things beautiful. Even the hurtful things in my life right now are working to make me beautiful! - that is, the beauty that comes not from outward adornment, but adorning from the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.

A point in verse 11, He has put eternity into man's heart. I love that! Man is made for another world, and God has placed eternity in our hearts! Christians are to be content in this world, but at the same time we are not to be fully satisfied with life here on earth. The desires of our hearts should be in eternity with our Lord, for that is our ultimate destiny. If we are fully comfortable here on earth, then we have lost sight of the glories of heaven, the eternal pleasures that we will enjoy at Christ's right hand. In the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11, the writer of Hebrews tells us that the faithful admitted they were aliens and strangers on earth. Many of the promises they held were not fully granted here on earth, though they saw them from a distance. Likewise, our ultimate fulfillment only comes when we see our Savior face-to-face.

Solomon ends Ecclesiastes with this summary: The end of the matter: all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. He begins the book with a perspective that life has no purpose, but comes full circle as he realizes that man does have a purpose, and that life has meaning and joy for those that fear God! We can have joy under the sun, because we have life through the Son.

. . . And that is the beautiful message of Ecclesiastes. I've realized recently that Ecclesiastes is not a book that many Christians have read, so consider the above a sales pitch convincing you to read it! It's only 12 chapters, and it can easily be read in one sitting. I'd highly suggest it.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Autumn

Tomorrow is the first day of autumn here in the northern hemisphere, though the signs have been in the air for a little bit already.

Autumn is my favorite season of the year. I enjoy each change of the seasons, but nothing else can compare with the change from summer to fall each year, especially in Atlanta where the summer is unbearably humid. I hide indoors every summer, to save my ghostly pale complexion and to escape the great sauna-that-is-the-outside. With each autumn, though, my thoughts return to the outdoors.

This past week we've been feeling the change in weather. Wednesday, during my lunch break from teaching, I stepped outside for a moment and decided I couldn't possibly spend the next half-hour indoors eating when the outside was calling to me! So instead I ate outside on the steps, enjoying my lunch surrounded by a blue sky and a light breeze :).

What is it about autumn that makes me hopelessly nostalgic? I want to reach for one of my old favorite books and curl up in a tree and just read all afternoon. Of course, I haven't climbed a tree in years (I used to be quite a monkey!), but the urge is still there. And if I was to pick a book to read for nostalgia, it would definitely be an L.M. Montgomery book! I picture my dear book friends Anne, Pat, and the Story Girl living perpetually in autumn. I'm already up to here *holds hand high above head* in books, though, so I'm not sure that urge will be acted upon in the near future. Instead I'll play Anne's Theme on the piano, which will satisfy some of my cravings :).

When I think of autumn I think of cardigan sweaters, a hot cup of tea (served in a pretty teacup, of course), homemade quilts, dry crunching leaves beneath my feet, long walks in the woods, stew simmering on the stove, long tiered skirts, long-sleeved checked blouses, bluegrass music, the briskness of the crisp fall air, and most of all the pallet of autumn colors that is displayed on all the hardwood trees for a few brief weeks, before the colors fade and the leaves drop to the ground to carpet the earth.

What do you like most about autumn?

Mystery Solved

Okay, my blog is fixed now. Many thanks to Lane for the suggestion to cut back on the number of posts I display on the main page. The reason I first displayed that many posts on the main page was because Adrian asked me, so he can thank his twin for correcting the problem that he created ;-). I now only have 20 posts on the front page, and everything looks fine.

I'm confused. . .

Okay, yesterday I posted something on the dangers of bread. Blogger was being strange for me for most of yesterday, including when I posted. It never finished posting, but instead told me there were errors in posting. I've since gone back and tried to alter and republish the post a few times, in the hopes that it will fix the problem , but with no success. When I go back to my list of past posts, the post is listed as published, not as a draft. But it is not showing for me on my blog. However, it gets stranger. Evidently some people can read it, because I've received e-mail notification of two comments on that post. But it remains invisible to me, as do the comments. So my question is this: can anyone else see that post?

EDIT: Now it gets stranger. This post is also not showing for me. This is odd.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Please Read! Important Warning!

Wow, I haven't written anything of substance on here for a week. In the absence of time, I will give you an important warning that Ashley e-mailed me. Perhaps I will be able to write something of more substance in the next few days, as time permits. For now, read the below cautions carefully! I was rather dubious when all of those "low-carb" diets came out a few years ago, but it looks like they had the right idea after all.

~~~

Dangers of Bread

Research on bread indicates that:

1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread users.

2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.

3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever, and influenza ravaged whole nations.

4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.

5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!

6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low incidence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, and osteoporosis.

7. Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after as little as two days.

8. Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter, and even cold cuts.

9. Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.

10. Newborn babies can choke on bread.

11. Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.

12. Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.

In light of these frightening statistics, it has been proposed that the following bread restrictions be made:

1. No sale of bread to minors.

2. A nationwide "Just Say No To Toast" campaign, complete celebrity TV spots and bumper stickers.

3. A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.

4. No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.

5. The establishment of "Bread-free" zones around schools.

~~~

I'm handing this out in my statistics class next week :). It's a good object lesson, no?

Perhaps you've also heard this one: The mortality rate for those who eat carrots is 100%. Yikes! I guess I'll have to stop eating my favorite snack food ;-).

Monday, September 18, 2006

:-)

When Mother Dear showed me this comic this morning, I immediately started chuckling because I knew exactly why she was showing it to me. She promptly e-mailed the comic to Brother Dear, since he was the cause of our mirth :).



(click on strip to enlarge)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Fruitfulness

Becky is discussing one of my favorite topics over on her site :). Make sure to read this discussion on fruitfulness.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Forget Homework?

Ashley always sends my way any education articles she finds, knowing I'm interested :). Recently she sent me an article on homework. Should homework be banned from classrooms, or severely limited? Specifically, should assignments in elementary schools be lessened? This Slate article discusses the issue.

Although not in the article's original scope, I think it is good to assess homework loads for not only elementary students, but middle and high school as well. Really, I would suggest that the majority of homework assignments given to middle and high school students are pretty much worthless - "busy work" at its finest. I student-taught in the public schools and was forced to assign quite a bit of busy work :(. Some homework is really assigned just to keep the kids busy. For example, I think factoring quadratic polynomials is a skill that comes with practice. But I don't think an excess of 200 problems in one week is the right kind of practice. But the week of factoring, between my mentor teacher and myself we had a funeral and a flooded house, as well as just a lot of time that we had set aside for factoring. . . So the students practiced factoring, and practiced factoring, and practiced factoring. That's what I call torture. . . and that's what makes kids hate math. It forces already-overscheduled kids to focus on getting through the problems, rather than understanding the problems.

But I think the problem with homework isn't just the exorbitant amount that is often assigned. It's also the fact that a lot of that work could be done during the time that is wasted in class. A structured class environment has its benefits, for sure, but often the time spent in class is a total waste. This is a bit of a different scenario, but when I student-taught Algebra 1 in a public school, we were on block scheduling, but they gave an entire year for Algebra 1. This meant that I had 90 minute class periods, without the usual rush of block scheduling. Can you say busy work? The kids were far from well-behaved, and my mentor teacher's solution was to keep them occupied for the whole class period - and really, the problem was not of her making to begin with, so my point is not to solely place the blame on her. So each class period I did a lot of examples of each type of problem. . . Then we did class work. . . We took a lot of quizzes. . . And we spent forever going over homework. Frankly, it was close to torture.

My whole point being, a lot of the class time could have been spent doing all that homework that was assigned! I don't think five 50 minute class periods a week (or in my case, five 90 minute blocks) are necessary for most classes, even math. That's not teaching kids, that's babysitting kids. Many educators think more class time is the solution to our educational woes, but I think less class time would actually foster more student responsibility and free up more time for real assignments, not just busy work.

For example, I teach at Heritage Classical Study Center, a part-time classical Christian school. Students meet only once a week for each of their classes. They usually come one day a week for "core" classes, and another day for math and science. I have 90 minutes a week with my Algebra 1 students and 2 hours each with Statistics and Geometry. It's not easy, but it's doable. And it teaches the students good independent study skills.

This model is becoming more and more popular in recent years. Dominion Classical Christian Academy just opened up this year near me, leasing space in my church, and they and Heritage aren't the only two part-time classical schools in the area. DCCA opened with students through 6th grade, but their plan is to eventually add up through 12th grade. They meet 3 times a week, MWF. I think that is more than enough time for elementary school. I think 2-3 days is more ideal for middle and high school (rather than one day, like Heritage), but I think one day is doable as well, as evidence by the quality of education students receive at Heritage.

The more I study and observe the part-time model, the more I like it. It means concentrated, meaningful classtime without busy work, which gives students more time to do independent homework and projects. This allows teachers to assign meaningful individual assignments, but without requiring students to stay up all hours of the night to get homework done before the viscious cycle repeats the next day. There is a full-time Christian school near us that boasts of requiring a lot of homework from their students - up to 7 hours per day (this "positive" information comes from the administration, mind you). My question is this: if they are already in class all day, 5 days a week, what are they doing during that time, if they are required to then do approximately 35 hours of homework per week? A large amount of work does not immediately imply rigor, nor should that sort of workload be forced on any high school student! That doesn't mean that students should be coddled, academic rigor is well and good, but the real kind.

At Heritage, students come once a week for "core" classes, which at Heritage consists of Literature (where they actually read a lot of the great classics - Shakespeare, Austen, you name it), Social Sciences (History, Government, Economics - they actually read The Wealth of Nations(!), Philosophy, etc., depending on level), and Language Arts (where they actually are required to learn grammar!). For middle school, they take a year of informal logic and a year of analogies. For high school they rotate through a year each of advanced logic, argumentation, apologetics, and great speeches. Middle school students take 2 years of Greek, and High school students take 2 years of Latin, followed by an optional 2 years of Spanish. They fit all this one day of classes per week. In literature, they read real books - and a lot of them. In the social sciences in high school, they mainly eschew textbooks for "living books," or they read books that are recommended reading for graduate students. They memorize pieces of literature, they debate, they analyze, they answer in-depth questions on reading assignments. They write - a lot!

This isn't an Ivy League school, mind you; it's for "average" home school students. . . But they are turning out top-quality students. And they are only "formally instructed" once a week. Heritage's students have a lot of homework, as properly defined as work done at home. But it's not busy work - the headmaster of Heritage (my boss) hates busy work in fact! And because they only meet for classes once a week (twice if they come for math and science) they have time even after their rigorous assignments, time to pursue extracurricular activities. Heritage has a large number of students involved in the fine arts like dance, music, and theater.

So that's my (unprofessional) opinion of the great homework problem. Less classtime, and more meaningful assignments. What do you think?

Comfort Food

What is it about the chicken that is so conducive to making comfort food? Chicken and dumplings, for example, is the quintessential comfort food. Then there is chicken soup. Ahhh. The cure (or at least soothing application) for any and all illnesses.

Monday I was starting to feel a bit "bleh," so when I got home from math lab I made up some homemade chicken soup and let it simmer until supper. I'm glad I made plenty, because I've had it at least three times since, while I've been fighting a cold the last 3 days. What is it about chicken soup that is so wonderful and soothing when you're just feeling a bit ill? And homemade is infinitely superior to store bought, I promise. It especially tops "chicken and stars" ;-). And it is so easy to make, once you get the hang of it!

The first time I made chicken noodle soup it was, um, "blah" to put it plainly. Pun intended, because it was very plain tasting. I had made really weak homemade broth, just using a chicken carcass, lots of water, and no seasonings, and it showed. Now when I make broth, though, I first cover a whole chicken with water and boil it until done, pull it out of the broth and let it cool a bit, then debone the chicken and freeze the meat in meal-size portions. Then I return the carcass to the broth and reboil for a few hours longer. This gives the broth so much more flavor. I sometimes cook carrots or onion with it, but not usually. I also add thyme, nutmeg (my favorite seasoning for chicken dishes!), a little salt, and some pepper. Those two boilings make such a rich broth, that is excellent for soups, stews, and casseroles. . . . and perfect for chicken noodle soup. *happy sigh*

When we haven't had homemade broth available, we've used store-bought broth before to make chicken and dumplings or chicken pie. If you do that, just be careful. For most store-bought broths, the majority of the flavor is just salt. Some broths have set my heart racing from the sodium content! Homemade broth has much more of a chicken flavor, and I find that barely any salt is needed to compliment it.

Chicken noodle soup is such a flexible dish, but what I did on Monday, for example, was get the broth boiling (I freeze it in plastic containers in 2-6 cup amounts in the freezer). Then I added one raw, boneless, skinless chicken breast, and let it boil until cooked. This gave the broth even more flavor :). While the chicken was cooking, I chopped up some carrots and celery and added that to the broth. Once the chicken was cooked, I cut it up and returned it to the soup. I let all that simmer for a while, until about 20 minutes before I was ready to eat. Then I turned up the broth to boiling again and added bowtie pasta (you could use whatever kind, but that's what was on hand) and let it boil until cooked through. Then I turned the pasta down a bit and added corn 5 minutes before serving. I realize I just gave absolutely no measurements (minus the one chicken breast), but soup is a "looks right" type of dish.

Anyway, that was a rather rambly post, but I'm sitting here on the couch without a whole lot to do, not feeling terribly ill, but still a bit "bleh," so I'm having to postpone my regularly scheduled activities for the day. So my blog friends get to listen to me ramble :).

Do We Evangelize Professing Believers and Their Children?

John is starting a series of posts on the notion of evanglizing professing believers and their children. I think it should prove interesting :). It is a topic that interests me considerably. It sort of relates back to my recent post on doubts about salvation. As I mentioned in the comments of that post, everyone, believer or not, needs to hear the gospel. The message of the Gospel never grows old! But the question John is considering, aside from whether evangelism is for all, is how this is lived out practically. His first post is specifically on evangelizing covenant children. Make sure to read it and keep a look out for his future posts on the topic.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happy Birthday, Father Dear!

It's Father Dear's Birthday! :-D He's turning 30 for anyone wondering. . . Okay, not really, but he is youthful enough that he's mistaken for my husband or Hannah's on occasion. . . or Ben's brother. He loved it when a friend of Ben looked at a family picture and said, "I didn't know you had a brother." ;)

Anyway, in commemoration of his 35th birthday (I decided to be above-board on the age. . . ), we give you a list, a poem, and a true story!

First, here is a list of things we especially love about Father Dear:

He married Mother Dear.
He loves our family.
He works hard to provide for us.
He loves God, and taught us about God.
He taught us to love math :-D.
He amuses us in his own way.
He likes chocolate.
He fills our cars with gas for us :).
He protects us.
He watches Jane Austen films with us.
He encourages us to exercise (Or is that a good thing? - I wonder. . . )
He's willing to sing melody when his three alto companions are practicing harmony ;).
He will play board games that he doesn't like, just for us.


And, of course here is the obligatory poem by my accomplished *ahem* Sister Dear.

Daddy, father, you are loved
May God send you brownies from above
Filled with chocolate, syrup, nuts
All those things that make your mouth say 'Yum-utz!' (hey, it rhymes)

I wish you a minute of teaching with quiet
(very funny, I'm a riot)
If only your students perfectly angelic
Would consider your teaching a treasured relic

I wish you a spa with strong powered jets
One that would inspire jealousy from the Mets
May your family be willing to join in your fun
Even your dear, lovely, wonderful Hon

I'd wish you a life of love, joy, and peace
But this to you God has already bequeathed
Happy are we to have a Daddy so dear
On this day we rejoice with brownies and cheer!

Finally, here is an amusing anecdote that I typed up several weeks ago, and never posted. I finally decided to wait until Dad's birthday to post, as seemed appropriate :).

~~~~

An Important Matter that Kept Father Dear up Late One Night

Some people cannot sleep until they remember the name of that curly, brown-haired actor who was in that obscure movie about the crusades. Some people toss and turn trying to get a song out of their heads. Then there are people (Garrisons) who are kept up late pondering mathematical wonders.

A few nights ago Father Dear was settling down to bed while staring at the digital clock in the room, noting that 26, 27, and 28 are consecutive numbers that are divided by 2, 3, and 4 respectively. The next logical quest, of course, would be to search for four consecutive numbers that are divided by 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively (besides the trivial set {2, 3, 4, 5}). Then one would try to discover five consecutive numbers, and so on. Father Dear naturally extended this in search of nine consecutive positive integers (excluding the trivial set 1-9) that are divided by 1-9, respectively.

While trying (and failing) to fall asleep, Father Dear devised a method for finding such a set. Simply prime factor the numbers 1-9 to find the least common multiple: 2520. Since 2520 is divisible by 1 (obvious, anyway), we can add 1 to it to get 2521, which is also (obviously) divisible by 1. But so much for the trivial case. Take 2. Since 2520 is divisible by 2 (by design, using the least common multiple), then if we add 2 we get another number - 2522 - which is also divisible by 2. Since 2520 is also divisible by 3 (by design, as the LCM), we can add 3 to get 2523, which is also divisible by 3. Continuing this pattern, we can see that the consecutive integers 2521-2529 are divided by the numbers 1-9, respectively. QED

Isn't my dad a genius? :)

Happy Birthday, Father Dear!!!!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Doubts about Salvation

I've had thoughts swirling in my head for some time now on this topic. For months, literally, I've wanted to write a bit on doubts concerning salvation, but in my case, it is helpful, even necessary, to first tell my testimony and discuss altar calls et al. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I want to focus on doubting.

There are some issues that Christians struggle with that are visible for all to see. But often the most difficult struggles in the Christian life are the silent ones. I think struggling with doubt is one of those silent struggles. I struggled off and on for years with doubts, and I did so mostly in silence. Often when I tell my own past struggles with doubt, people will tell me that they also had the same struggles, and sometimes they are still struggling with those silent doubts.

As previously mentioned, I never walked an aisle when I became a Christian. There was no pomp and circumstance. Quite simply, I believed. I knew I was a sinner and needed Jesus to pay the price for my sins. Throughout elementary and middle school, the gospel was presented to me many times via altar calls, with entreaties to me to come accept Jesus by praying a sinner's prayer. These exposures to altar calls threw me into years of doubt concerning my own salvation. As a child young in the faith, being told that I hadn't gone through the right channels was a real stunt to my spiritual growth and to my assurance of salvation. I already chronicled going back to the Bible and confirming that I must repent and believe. I confirmed the Gospel message with God's Word.

But then I struggled with plaguing doubts. I confirmed that I had rightly understood the Gospel, but by seeking to confirm that I had rightly understood, I was admittedly doubting whether I was indeed saved. Why else would I feel the need for confirmation? I then postulated that if I was doubting if I was saved, then perhaps I was not saved. And so went the viscious cycle!

Many people, including many with whom I have spoken, have at times put on a real front when it comes to confidence in their faith, often hiding plaguing doubts for fear of "second class" status as Christians, or even rejection as "true believers." I've been to many churches where during the altar call, it is strongly implied that the set of all Christians and the set of all people who "know without a shadow of a doubt" that they are saved is one and the same.

To comprehend the Gospel, we must trust on Christ for our salvation. There is no other way to be saved. But that does not mean that our trust never waivers or falters. We are still fallen humans in a fallen world. Walter Marshall says it well: May not one that truly believeth, say, Lord, help my unbelief? Yes! That is what I wish I had grasped through my years of doubting. One can doubt and still be a Christian. Unlike the song, being a Christian does not mean you are happy, happy, happy all the time. And it doesn't mean you are always bubbling over with confidence.

I love Stepping Heavenward, by Elizabeth Prentiss, because the heroine, Katy, in all of her utter sinfulness, is remarkably similar to me. I figure if there was hope for her, there is hope for me. I identify with her acutely because she also struggled in her youth with wondering if she was "truly saved," since she had not formalized it with a sinner's prayer. Her story comes full circle when, years later she is able to use her own experience with doubt to counsel her sister-in-law. Helen spent years of doubt, trying to figure out if she was a Christian, and with a few wise words, Katy dispelled her struggles: Doubt everything, but believe in Christ. . . Suppose for argument's sake, you are not a Christian. You can become one now.

The following day Helen recounts the effect of Katy's simple words:


Katy, God taught you what to say. All these years I have been tormenting myself with doubts as to whether I could be His child while so unable to say, "Thy will be done." If you had said, "Why yes, you must be His child for you professed yourself one a long time ago and ever since have lived like one," I should have remained as wretched as ever. As it is, a mountain has been rolled off my heart. Yes, if I was not His child yesterday, I can become one today; if I did not love Him then, I can begin now."

It was only after I learned to rejoice that I was currently a Christian, rather than wonder when I became one, that I was able to rest in the peace of my faith. Not everyone has a neat and tidy testimony, with all the blanks filled in with exact dates and times. The story of Christianity is about a lifechange, though, not a stress on the exact moment that the change started. I know I am a Christian, and I do now believe "without a shadow of a doubt," but I only had that confidence after I stopped berating myself for searching and questioning, when I realized that if I was not His child yesterday, I can become one today.

Do you realize that some of the most prominent characters in the Bible were plagued with doubts? One of the turning points in my struggle with doubts was a sermon I heard on John the Baptist, from Matthew 11. Here is the man who was sent to prepare the way for the Messiah, and he is plagued with doubts as he is languishing in prison. John questioned whether Jesus was even the Messiah! Should we expect someone else? John was regenerated by the Holy Spirit while in his mother's womb, was specifically charged with paving the way for the Lord, and he, in a time of doubt, questions if Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Yes, one can doubt and still be a believer!

And look at Jesus' response to John. Condemnation? No. Disgust? No. Anger? No. Jesus showed him compassion. He gives him physical evidence that He is the Messiah: Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. And then look what he does further. He turns to the crowd and confirms that John was the new Elijah, and he says that among those born of woman, there is none greater than John the Baptist.

If you struggle with doubts concerning salvation, you may, like I once did, visualize God frowning down on you, impatient that you "don't have enough faith." Just as Jesus had compassion on John the Baptist, though, so He has compassion as you cry out to Him: Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

The message of the Gospel is simply this: you are a sinner and need a Savior. Christ came to be that Savior, if you will repent and turn to Him. If you truly believe these simple (yet profound!) truths, you are His child! And if you were not His child yesterday, you can become one today.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Finally! - Pictures of My Room

Okay, I've decided to give Blogger another try at loading all these pictures. Some of you may remember that I attempted to do this about a month ago, but gave up out of frustration!

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Here is a pictorial tour of my room, at the request of several curious readers. As I warned, it is rather tightly packed, to fit my sewing supplies and a good selection of books, but it is well-organized, which makes all the difference with limited space. My room is smaller than it was in our previous house, so to insure that everything would fit into my new room, before we moved I made a scale drawing of my new room on graph paper with all of my furniture pieces cut out. I wanted to fit a twin bed, a cedar chest, two quilt racks, three bookcases, two tables, a lamp, an ironing board, and a chest of drawers into an 11'x12' room. And people said I wouldn't be able to do it :). See, a real-life math application!

The walls are filled with old-fashioned pictures that I found at garage sales. I'll show close-ups of a few of my favorites later in the post. Also on the walls is my hat collection. I've found a variety of hats at Goodwill, usually for $1.10 a piece. Some of them are for decoration, and some I wear. Someday I'd like to decorate my daughters' rooms (Lord willing) with the pictures and hats, as I think there are enough for a few rooms :). But for now I've crowded them into one room. Ideally, I think decorations look better more spread throughout :).

Here we are entering my room. Note the garland hanging above the door. It matched my wall and quilt, so Sister Dear let me steal it from her :). It was a Goodwill find.



Here is the wall to the right as you enter. Note my lovely books :). Most of my books are in boxes, but I keep my favorite books, and the books I want to read in the near future, in these two bookcases by my bed. I bought three matching bookcases with movable shelves at a garage sale and combined all the shelves into two bookcases to give me more shelf room :). The teacups on the top of the right bookshelf I found at a garage sale for 25 cents each.



The quilt (log cabin, barn-raising pattern) on my bed, which I made a few years ago, was my first full-size one. My hope chest at the foot of my bed (see below) is beautiful, is it not? A family friend made it; make sure to check out his website! I used up a very large assortment of yarn scraps to make the afghan folded on the cedar chest.



Turning a bit to the left, we have my sewing center :-D. I turned a bookcase into a fabric case, and it works very well. I really should find a way to keep the dust off the fabric, but I don't have a good idea. I used a sheet before we moved, but it looked dumpy. Suggestions?

For my college graduation, Parents Dear gave me a serger, which is the machine to the left, next to my sewing machine. I have plastic storage shelves underneath my table; they hold my lace, zippers, interfacing, scrap material, and sewing patterns. On top I keep plastic containers for thread, ribbon, and miscellaneous sewing items. I bought the quilt rack on the far right to hang partially finished projects.



Turning a little more to the left, here is the next corner of my room. I'm arranging hats on the bed for a close-up picture, and Hannah thought it was neat the way my right arm looks half-there (She took all these pictures, by the way). I use the table behind me as a dressing table. I'd like to make some sort of covering for it, but I haven't figured out exactly what to do with it yet! I'm blocking the only chest of drawers I have in the room, which is small since most of my clothes are stored in the closet. I have a few plastic crates and metal racks in my closet (which you can barely see) to create more storage above my hanging clothes, which I use for extra batting, yarn, and shoes. I also keep some of my knitting supplies in a knitting basket on the floor of my closet, as you can see.


Continuing to the left, we are back at the door! I have an ironing board on the back of my door, which is quite convenient for sewing, since I don't have floor space to keep a full-size ironing board open in my room. I also have a second quilt rack beside my door, that I use to hang towels and such. This picture also shows several of my hats.



Here is a close-up of my six favorite hats.



And here are a few close-ups of my favorite pictures:

This one is very nostalgic to me, because Hannah and I used to play school with our friends when we were little. I usually got to be the teacher, and I was a mean one :).



I think this one is so elegant and feminine.



This is probably my favorite one. The girls playing in the field with the country church in the background is such a picturesque scene!



I found these three reprints of famous paintings for free(!) at a church rummage sale! The top two paintings are Monet, and the bottom one is van Gogh.



Okay, thus ends the pictorial picture of my room.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I'm Royalty

I was crowned princess this evening. Twice.

In fact I was crowned pretty, pretty princess :). Does anyone else remember that game from childhood? Hannah and I loved playing Pretty, Pretty Princess when we were little! I was babysitting this evening, and playing the game with my little charges brought back so many memories! For a skill-less game, it's fun to play. You acquire those extremely-tacky-and-cheap earrings, necklace, bracelet, ring, and crown, and you just feel like royalty :). Of course, be careful of the dreaded "black ring"! *insert soundtrack of the first few measures of Beethoven's Fifth here*

I am curious if everyone else played the game as a little girl. I think it uncovers a universal desire in every little (and big) girl - the desire to be a princess. Of course, as a Christian, I am royalty already. I'm not just the daughter of an earthly monarch. I am the daughter of The King. I am daughter of my Creator. I am heir not to an earthly domain, but to a heavenly one. Even without all the plastic jewelry, I am a princess!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The "Sinner's Prayer" and Altar Calls

Yesterday when I said that I planned on publishing this post in the morning, I of course was referring to Pacific Time ;). Everyone should have known that. Right. . .

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Back in June, Mother Dear and I were able to attend a 2-day conference on the Westminster Confession of Faith. As part of the conference, we had the privilege of hearing Mark Dever of Capital Hill Baptist Church speak on the subject of preaching. What a treat! He described a visit he made to an old building of worship, and how he was particularly struck by two things: an ornate altar in the center of the room and the high balconies along the edges of the room. As the rest of the tour started leaving, Mr. Dever hung back and questioned the tour guide, asking him if the balcony was an original part of the structure, and if the altar had been added later. The tour guide looked surprised that he had guessed correctly. Mr. Dever explained that the theologies controlling the high balcony and the altar were diametrically opposed to each other and thus had to have been built by different groups of people.

The balconies in the room were not easily accessible and did not allow for the people in them to readily leave them to physically approach the center of the room. They were built by people (the Puritans? - my memory fails me) who believed that coming to Christ was something that happened as a result of comprehending the preached Word of God. It was a mental assent, an acceptance by faith of what one's ears had heard. Thus the non-centrality and inaccessibility of the balconies were not seen as a detriment to the preaching of the Word and sharing of the gospel.

The ornate altar, though, was built by a different group of people who later had possession of the building. They believed that coming to Christ was largely a physical thing, something that required "doing," so the altar was placed prominently as the "initiator" or "focal point" of the message and conversion. Converts "came to Christ" by approaching the altar.

As I mentioned in the post on my testimony, I was raised largely in Presbyterian churches, though I wasn't raised as a Presbyterian, as I explained in past comments here. As many of you probably know, Presbyterians don't have altar calls. Growing up I always wondered why we didn't, but I didn't really think about it much. One of my closest friends was SBC, and Hannah and I visited her church semi-frequently on Wednesday nights, VBS week, etc, so I witnessed a lot of altar calls growing up, and noticed the difference in our services.

The dear preacher at my friend's church was a sweet, older Christian man with a sincere concern for the unsaved. But I am convinced that some of his methods of evangelizing were more confusing than helpful. I know because I struggled off and on for years with my "assurance of salvation," largely because of his altar call entreaties! I knew I was saved; I knew that I was a sinner with no hope of redeeming myself, and I knew that Christ had freely paid the price for my sins and given me his righteousness that I might inherit eternal life. I understood the gospel and embraced it by faith!

But everytime I would visit my friend's church, I would squirm when the altar call was given. The preacher would begin with "every head bowed, every eye closed," and then ask for the obligatory show of hands for different categories. He always asked for a show of hands for people who had "put their faith in Christ" (as if it was their faith to begin with!) and knew "without a shadow of a doubt" that if they died that night they would go to heaven. More on assurance and doubt in a later post, but suffice it to say that there were times when his description of what it meant to be a Christian did not describe me!

One night I remember him explaining that realizing that Christ had to die for your sins wasn't enough and that you had to accept Him as your "personal savior" to be a Christian. I was confused by the distinctions he was making. My Bible told me believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. I wasn't told to "ask Jesus in my heart," which the pastor said was necessary for salvation. Often when he gave the altar calls and he would ask for believers to raise their hands, he would refer to them as those who had "accepted Jesus into their hearts" and sometimes he defined it more stringently as people who had "come down an aisle" because "Jesus doesn't want any secret followers." I couldn't raise my hand! I saw my need of a Saviour and I trusted in Christ to pay the penalty for my sins, but I had never walked an aisle. Did that mean I was a "lesser" Christian or perhaps not even a "true" Christian? I was told that I needed to take the "step" and reach out to Christ. I thought Jesus was the one who had reached out to me! The pastor again and again spoke of walking the aisle and praying the "sinner's prayer." Any who wanted to accept Christ were told to repeat after him as he spoke the "sinner's prayer" aloud.

I went to the book of Acts during my personal studies, and I saw that sinners were entreated by the apostles to believe on Christ and to repent. I searched for a procedure, for a specific need to walk an aisle or "ask Jesus into my heart" or to pray a certain type of prayer, but I didn't find one. I wasn't searching out of cynicism; I was searching genuinely, confused by my friend's pastor. When I heard altar calls I would pray the "sinner's prayer" silently with the pastor, since I hadn't ever said an "official" one, but I didn't believe that the prayer made me a Christian, so my reasoning was that maybe the fact that I didn't believe it made me a Christian therefore meant I was not a Christian! I was confused. Then the fact that I doubted my salvation made me think that maybe I wasn't a Christian. It took me years before I was freed from all of these plaguing doubts! That's a whole other post in itself. . .

I don't explain all this to mock the use of altar calls, and I certainly don't explain all this to condemn my friend's pastor. As I said, I believe he was a sincere Christ-follower who had a genuine concern for the lost. But he, like other pastors I have heard give altar calls, stressed the action of coming down the aisle as the instigator of coming to Christ. The altar was the focal point. In the Bible, sinners are called to come to Christ, but that coming isn't a physical movement of location! It is an inward turning of the heart, a repentance, and a placing of your hope in Christ, not in yourself. God have mercy on me, a sinner. That says it all.

Here is an excerpt from an excellent article from Grace Online Library:

Everyone acknowledges that Charles Spurgeon emulated well the New Testament practice of evangelism. It would be difficult to find anywhere in the history of the church a man who was more passionate concerning the salvation of the lost and whose preaching brought more into the Kingdom. Yet in his preaching to sinners he refused to direct anyone to an 'altar' or to the front of any building. He directed them only to Christ. 'Go to your God at once, even where you are now!' he would insist. 'Cast yourself on Christ, now, at once, ere you stir an inch!' Spurgeon's practice was according to the Biblical model exactly. He would allow nothing to confuse the direction of the sinner's attention: it must be to Christ, and to Christ alone they are instructed look and go. Nor would they be allowed to entertain any notion that they should go somewhere else first. No! 'Ere you stir an inch! Cast yourself on Christ now!'

Walking the aisle never saved anyone. Christ saves us, by faith. Praying a formulated "sinner's prayer" never saved anyone. Christ saves us, by faith. Some people are saved during altar calls. When Moses struck the rock, water gushed forth; yet God still severely punished him. Outward results do not make a method necessary, correct, or even advisable.

Outward results also do not mean inward heart changes. In "follow-ups" with converts from Billy Graham crusades, only 25% of those who "walk the aisle" and "pray the prayer" will still profess Christ (a year later? - my memory fails me). Remember the General Math II student that wrote that poem for my dad? He attended a local revival, "got saved," and told my dad he was a Christian now because he had prayed the sinner's prayer. Yet his "conversion" lasted for only a few days, and his description of it approximated the winning of a Get Out of Jail Free card from Monopoly. He, like so many, viewed the "sinner's prayer" much as the medieval church viewed indulgences! He followed the prescribed formula for forgiveness of sins, much as others did with regards to indulgences.

Keith Green discusses the "sinner's prayer" and the use of canned versions at revivals: It isn't the wording that's important, it's the state of heart of the one saying it. I believe that a true "sinner's prayer" will gush out of anyone who is truly seeking God and is tired of being enslaved to sin.

I think that many (I hope most!) advocates of the "sinner's prayer" and altar calls would agree with Keith Green that the heart is the real issue, but I'm very afraid that it isn't usually clarified very well. Every time I have been to a service with an altar call (not just with my friend's pastor), the stress is on "praying the prayer" and "asking Jesus into your heart." The simple message to believe on the Lord Jesus is lost in the "how-to" procedures.

I want to close on a note of humility (I hope everyone realizes that this entire post is meant to be communicated in a spirit of humility!), on a somber note - a challenge to myself and others who agree with me on these issues:

There's an old story attributed to Dwight L. Moody, who was once criticized for his methods of evangelism. He responded, 'I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.' Reformed Christians may be right about how to reach new generations, but are we doing it?
For further reading, I highly recommend the following articles:

Keith Green
What's Wrong with the Gospel: Part 1
What's Wrong with the Gospel: Part 2 (especially this part!)

Fred Zaspel
The Altar Call: Is it Harmful or Helpful?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My Testimony

I recently asked my readers to tell me how they view or define the sinner's prayer and altar calls. I was curious as to the opinion of those who read my blog, because I realize that my views oppose those of the vast majority of American Christian evangelicals, thought it seems it does not oppose the majority of my blog readers. . . at least the ones who answered my question. And I still love my fellow Christians who do differ with me on this :).

I've long wanted to write up posts on my testimony, the sinner's prayer and altar calls, and most especially on doubts about salvation. The topics are so intricately linked in my case, so it's hard to write about one without writing about the others. I haven't finished (barely started, actually. . . ) a post on the latter, but I finally have the former topics done. I'm hoping to publish the post on the sinner's prayer and altar calls tomorrow morning, but for now here is my testimony.

My dad "walked the aisle" at age 4, convicted of his sin by an altar call; his parents were not Christians, and he was attending a VBS with a friend. God can use altar calls and the like to bring people to Christ! But the altar call did not save him, nor did the "sinner's prayer" he prayed (as I would think all Christians would agree; I'm just placing the statement for emphasis). God worked in his heart (I would say in spite of the altar call. . . ) to convict him and bring him to faith. Conversely, my mother, who grew up in a (PCUSA) pastor's family, was not born again until college, but she never walked the aisle or prayed a formal "sinner's prayer." She can point to a few years in college and knows that "somewhere in there" she comprehended the gospel and came to faith, but she can't point to the day or hour.

My testimony is different than either of my parents. I came to faith at a very young age like my dad, but like my mom, I never walked the aisle. Unlike my dad, I did not pray the "sinner's prayer" when I came to faith. Instead, the sinner's prayer is the prayer I pray on an ongoing basis. Repentance is a continuous process for a Christian, and I am daily in need of crying, "Lord, I believe. I am guilty and need a Savior. Save me." That, in my estimation, is a sinner's prayer in the truest sense, not a canned set of words that I repeat after someone else.

I do not even remember the moment when I first comprehended the gospel. I, like Timothy, was a covenant child, knowing the scriptures from a child, making me wise unto salvation. The Greek in I Timothy 3:15 is literally infant or baby. I am not riding to heaven on my parents' coattails, though, and I can testify to a real saving faith that I possess. I am fully persuaded that I stand before God today spotless and clothed with Christ's righteousness. By God's grace I am justified and being sanctified, but I cannot point to the exact moment in which I was "saved" - I think "saved" is usually used in too narrow a sense anyway. I am being saved, and that is far more important than stressing over the exact moment when I first came to faith.

As most of you know, I'm Presbyterian in doctrine and I grew up in PCA churches, which means I've seen a lot of infants baptized ;). Many Presbyterian pastors (some of my former pastors among them) pray very specifically for the infant's salvation, that the child will come to know Christ at such a young age that he will never remember a day when he was not embracing the gospel in faith. I was not baptized as an infant (my credo-baptist friends breathe a sigh of relief. . . ), but my testimony is like the ones prayed for by my pastors. I know that my heart was regenerated at some point in time, but I know not exactly when. I do not remember a day when I did not believe on Christ for salvation.

I used to be sort of ashamed of my testimony. I'd attend youth revivals or VBS at a friend's church, and I absolutely hated it when we had testimony time. Most of the kids were from Christian homes, but they would still tell of making that "extra step" from head knowledge to heart knowledge, as they "asked Jesus into their hearts" when they were 5 or 6, formally praying a "sinner's prayer." I know that many covenant children do not have my testimony, and do have a more memorable moment of regeneration, so I'm not discounting the oodles of testimonies I've heard like the one above. But it didn't make it any less comfortable for me! In some Christian circles, saying you don't remember exactly when you first believed is sort of viewed like saying "I think I'm a Christian because I go to church."

I had a testimony-inferiority complex throughout childhood :(, something I hope to expound upon more in a later post on assurance of salvation. As I've grown in my faith, though, this inferiority complex has turned into an appreciation for the belief that budded in my heart at such a young age. Now I don't wish for a dramatic conversion story, but instead thank my God that He saved me at such a young age. It's a nonclimactic story, but it's also a beautiful tale of God's grace in my life.

Stay tuned for the "sinner's prayer," altar calls, and more. . .

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sister Dear's Approach to Weight Loss

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She's considered such drastic measures for years.
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She has long realized that all that extra weight was weighing her down (pun intended).
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Last summer in Peru she gained 15 pounds (I'm not kidding).
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She was determined and managed to lose 5 inches (near the waist), but it wasn't enough, she thought.
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On return to the States, without the constant temptation of Peruvian rice, she quickly returned to her previous size.
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But she knew she still was weighted down.
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So she finally took the plunge.
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Goodbye, extra weight!
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Yep, Hannah lost 13 inches in just 3 minutes ;-). Yikes!
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More on College

For those who just never can get enough of the college debate for women, Lydia finally posted the last of her series on women and college. Also Adrian has posted his thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dirty Hands


In my lap, still and silent
Dirty hands, a sinner's grasp;
Will I leave them there, defying,
As you call me to my task?

At my side, busy, flying,
Able hands used for good work;
In my mind, pride overtaking,
Duties now I never shirk.

Lips do tremble, eyes are opened,
Glancing at my sin-marred hands;
Much like Uzzah's fatal choice,
Did I forget the filth of man?

Glancing up I see before me
Blood-stained hands, a sinless Ram.
Open arms, He welcomes, calling,
"Come rest in me, my little lamb."

On the plow now, tightly holding,
Tear-stained hands my tasks employ.
Jesus at my side does guide me;
Tears of sorrow turned to tears of joy.

In my lap, still and silent,
Dirty hands, a sinner's clasp:
Folded praying, day's task done.
'Tis God's work in me lights my path.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Cain's Heresy

I previously mentioned my intention to read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I am pleased to report that, though it took me three months to finally pick up the book, I finally did, I read it in the span of a few days, and I quite enjoyed it. It really should be required reading in high school literature courses, and it's not a lengthy read - so read it! This post really isn't about the theme of the book (or is it?), but my musings over a quote from the book.

One of the characters in the book, Mr. Utterson, is a lawyer and friend of Dr. Jekyll. I found the following description of him at the beginning of the book to be quite interesting:

But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove. "I incline to Cain's heresy," he used to say quaintly: "I let my brother go to the devil in his own way."

An eery portrait of modern evangelicalism? How often do we spend so much time loving both unbelievers and believers, that we neglect speaking the truth? It is our responsibility as Christians to speak the truth, in love. Either, without the other, is wrong! The modern church has become so pluralistic in many ways: you keep to your personal convictions, and I'll keep to mine. I wouldn't want to judge your choices, and please do the same for me. That's not a Biblical notion! As Christians in the body of Christ, we are to be invading each other's lives! We are to be concerned and involved in each other's pursuits, not in a Nazi-fashion, but in a loving way.

That doesn't mean we need to keep track of every movie our fellow believers see, and "confront them" about their choices at next meeting. It doesn't mean measuring the hems of dresses or judging another Christian if they don't hold to the exact educational method that you do. It's not a matter of keeping score and measuring people on a "holiness scale." It does mean showing concern, though, especially on major life choices. Letting one's brother slip down the slope to sin, while just watching and "loving him," isn't loving! Error requires correction, and as Christians we are not saved into autonomy; we are saved into a family.

The New Testament stresses principles over procedure. Haven't you ever wished that the New Testament would go into a little more detail? I'd sure like to know exactly how we are to worship God, exactly what clothing is acceptable, and exactly how we are to keep the Lord's Day. It sure would be easier, so it seems at times. We don't get the details, though, because Christianity is about the heart attitude, not about following 5000 (or 50,000) laws.

But one of the few things we do get an exact procedure for is confronting our brothers in Christ. Do you realize that? We get procedure for practically nothing in the NT - except discipline. How do we ignore it so easily then, and why do we apoligize when we question another believer about his lifestyle choices? Shouldn't we be apologizing if we don't care enough to discuss our concerns with him? Christians are a family, nor a group of individuals. We care about one another; we love one another; and we confront one another. Contrary to popular evangelical culture, it's not wrong to confront a brother in Christ if his views are anti-Biblical or his lifestyle choices are against clear teachings in scripture. In fact, it is our duty to do so.

We are majoring on "love" and ignoring "truth." We are letting our brother go to the devil in his own way.

Isn't it sad, though, how easy it is to finally get the "speak the truth" portion of the command, and then forget the "in love" part! Who hasn't been a victim of a tyrannical self-righteous Christian who feels the need to confront you on something that is extra-Biblical? Who hasn't played the part of the tyrannical self-righteous Christian at some point (admittedly guilty!)? Balance is the key. I am a very linear thinker, and it bothers me when others are not consistent. But do you know that I find that the things that usually bother me the most about others are also the problems with which I still struggle? I'm visualizing a plank here.

Then there are times when I'd just rather not discuss a touchy topic with a friend, even if I see he is in error, so I just find comfort in the "in love" part of the verse. But if something is defined as a sin, an abomination to God, or a blasphemy, then am I concerning myself more with my brother's feelings than my Saviour's feelings, if I let it roll off my back? Where does one draw the line between legalism and license, especially when relating to others? If anyone finds out, let me know, because it sure would be helpful!

John Newton had a few words of wisdom to say on the subject:

As to your opponent, I wish, that, before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord's teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. . . . [If he is a believer,] in a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts. . . . [If he is an unconverted person,] he is a more proper object of your compassion than your anger. Alas! 'He knows not what he does.' But you know who has made you to differ [1 Cor. 4:7]."

Thoughts, anyone? Are we letting our brother go to the devil in his own way?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hehe. . . my dad has endured a lot as a public school math teacher

I love my daddy. He's (bravely) taught math in the public schools for 20 years in order to provide for us. He's had good classes, mediocre classes, and downright horrible classes. He now teaches mainly Calculus and gifted Pre-Calculus, but he's had some pretty dreadful schedules in the past! Mother Dear was going through some paperwork today and found a poem that one of my dad's students wrote for him 10 years ago. We will allow the author to remain anonymous, but let us say that he is one of those students who will live on in infamy in our family's history ;).

General Math II (referenced in the poem) is equivalent to Technical Math II, by the way. Oh, and make sure to read it with a rap beat for the proper effect. *groan*

This morning I stole a Lexus to get to school
To hear Garrison teach about the golden Rule
General Math II is what he can teach the best
No math teacher can compete (yo) he fades the rest

Right now I'm failin' that class with a 53
But I'll get that 70, just wait and see
Cause math ain't hard if you apply yourself
It gets you good women and a ton of wealth

And I'm out to get knowledge in the '96
I've beatin' down rednecks and a lot of hicks
Cause they've stood in the way of my math degree
And if it happens again (yo) it's the cemetery

So when it comes to math I don't joke around
And if Garrison talks, you best not make a sound
Unless you want to end up bleeding on the ground
[He makes it sound like Father Dear is an assassin!]

Chorus:
Garrison's teachin' free of charge
And with what he's teachin' you'll be livin' large
So pay attention in class and do your work
Unless you want to end up bein' a grocery store clerk