Saturday, March 29, 2008
Where does the time go? My ninth baby (and fourth son) is now sixteen years old. He's been looking forward to this day for quite some time, because now that he's 16, he can get his beginner's license. This is a very big deal for boys. Not that it's not a big deal for girls, but for some reason, Patrick has been stressing out about it for months. He studied the manual backwards and forwards to be sure he understood all the rules of the road. The rest of the children gave it a glance...read through it once or twice...but didn't sweat it.
On Monday we'll head to the DriveTest office. I am sure he'll do fine!
It's funny how every single time, when one of my children turns 16 and it's time to take them for the test, then LET THEM DRIVE HOME, Daddy is nowhere to be found. He is off working, or on an errand.
And they say that men are brave. Let me tell you, you haven't seen bravery until you've witnessed a mom white-knuckling it down the road while her sweet sixteen year old is hugging the right. "Careful, now...you'll put us in the ditch!"
It doesn't get easier just because you've done it before. I REMEMBER! This sounds a bit like labour pain, doesn't it?
Anyway, Patrick has grown into a fine young man. He's a hard worker who tries to do his best at whatever his hand finds to do. He is best buds with his older brother, Daniel, and sometimes we have to remind Pat that he isn't tied at the hip to Daniel! "Go to bed, Patrick!"
"What about Dan?"
"Don't worry, he'll be up in a minute!"
Daniel shares a room with Patrick and the youngest brother, Christopher. They will be drifting off to sleep, but invariably Pat thinks of something to talk about.
Linda describes it like this (You have to realize that Patrick has a deep voice, and talks fairly quietly, so the words are hard to distinguish) :
Patrick: "Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble...."
Daniel: "Quiet, Pat!"
Patrick: "Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble..."
Daniel: "I said, 'Go to sleep!'"
Patrick: "Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble..."
Daniel: "Shut UP, Patrick!!!!"
Not quite like the Waltons, eh?
Anyway, Daniel prayed before our lunch meal today, and he thanked God for giving him his younger brother 16 years ago today. He loves him, very much!
We all do!
Friday, March 28, 2008
However, Wesley & Whitefield sharply disagreed on the doctrine of predestination. It is interesting to read the correspondence between the two men, as they each tried to convince the other that his beliefs were wrong.
It's not that the debate wasn't heated. Here is an excerpt from a letter George Whitefield wrote to John on the issue of predestination:
Honoured Sir, how could it enter into your heart to choose a text to disprove the doctrine of election out of Romans 8, where this doctrine is so plainly asserted? Once I spoke with a Quaker upon this subject, and he had no other way of evading the force of the Apostle's assertion than by saying, "I believe Paul was in the wrong." And another friend lately, who was once highly prejudiced against election, ingenuously confessed that he used to think
himself was mistaken, or that he was not truly translated. Indeed, honoured Sir, it is plain beyond all contradiction that St. Paul, through the whole of Romans 8, is speaking of the privileges of those only who are really in Christ. And let any unprejudiced person read what goes before and what follows your text, and he must confess the word "all" only signifies those that are in Christ. And the latter part of the text plainly proves, what, I find, dear Mr. Wesley will, by no means, grant. I mean the final perseverance of the children of God: "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, [i.e., all Saints] how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32). [He shall give us] grace, in particular, to enable us to persevere, and every thing else necessary to carry us home to our Father's heavenly kingdom. Had any one a mind to prove the doctrine of election, as well as of final perseverance, he could hardly wish for a text more fit for his purpose than that which you have chosen to disprove it! One who did not know you would suspect that you were aware of this, for after the first paragraph, I scarce know whether you have mentioned [the text] so much as once through your whole sermon. But your discourse, in my opinion, is as little to the purpose as your text, and instead of warping, does but more and more confirm me in the belief of the doctrine of God's eternal election. I shall not mention how illogically you have proceeded. Had you written clearly, you should first, honoured Sir, have proved your proposition: "God's grace is free to all." And then by way of inference [you might have] exclaimed against what you call the horrible decree. But you knew that people (because Arminianism, of late, has so much abounded among us) were generally prejudiced against the doctrine of reprobation, and therefore thought if you kept up their dislike of that, you could overthrow the doctrine of election entirely. St. Paul
The last paragraph is a plea for Mr. Wesley to study the Scriptures. It is passionate, but kind - caring as well as conciliatory. Mr. Whitefield does not back down one iota on his message, yet he does it in a gentle manner:
The last paragraph is a plea for Mr. Wesley to study the Scriptures. It is passionate, but kind - caring as well as conciliatory. Mr. Whitefield does not back down one iota on his message, yet he does it in a gentle manner:
Dear, dear Sir, O be not offended! For Christ's sake be not rash! Give yourself to reading. Study the covenant of grace. Down with your carnal reasoning. Be a little child; and then, instead of pawning your salvation, as you have done in a late hymn book, if the doctrine of universal redemption be not true; instead of talking of sinless perfection, as you have done in the preface to that hymn book, and making man's salvation to depend on his own free will, as you have in this sermon; you will compose a hymn in praise of sovereign distinguishing love. You will caution believers against striving to work a perfection out of their own hearts, and print another sermon the reverse of this, and entitle it "Free Grace Indeed." Free, not because free to all; but free, because God may withhold or give it to whom and when he pleases. Till you do this, I must doubt whether or not you know yourself. In the meanwhile, I cannot but blame you for censuring the clergy of our church for not keeping to their articles, when you yourself by your principles, positively deny the 9th, 10th and 17th. Dear Sir, these things ought not so to be. God knows my heart, as I told you before, so I declare again, nothing but a single regard to the honour of Christ has forced this letter from me. I love and honour you for his sake; and when I come to judgment, will thank you before men and angels, for what you have, under God, done for my soul. There, I am persuaded, I shall see dear Mr. Wesley convinced of election and everlasting love. And it often fills me with pleasure to think how I shall behold you casting your crown down at the feet of the Lamb, and as it were filled with a holy blushing for opposing the divine sovereignty in the manner you have done. But I hope the Lord will show you this before you go hence. O how do I long for that day! If the Lord should be pleased to make use of this letter for that purpose, it would abundantly rejoice the heart of, dear and honoured Sir, Yours affectionate, though unworthy brother and servant in Christ, 10 GEORGE WHITEFIELD.
What grieves me is the rancour that I have witnessed. Even though some have suggested that if the two opposing parties sat down together they might even discover that they have much in common, and that they in fact, could like each other, they seem unwilling to do so. Fingers are flying as emails are composed in order to expose error or reveal lies.
I am not against exposing error or revealing lies, but what I am saying is this: Where is the peaceful confrontation made respectfully that I see in the letter above? Have we in this modern age simply become crass?
Although George Whitefield disagreed with John Wesley on some theological matters, he was careful not to create problems in public that could be used to hinder the preaching of the gospel. What mattered was the cause of Christ. George Whitefield continued to be gentle and gracious, even when Wesley did things to hinder him. George always considered John to be his friend.
When someone asked Whitefield if he thought he would see Wesley in heaven, Whitefield replied, “I fear not, for he will be so near the eternal throne and we at such a distance, we shall hardly get sight of him.”
I pray that those who have differences will tremble at the thought of grieving the Holy Spirit by attacking a brother or sister in Christ. I pray that disagreements will be tempered by a gracious and peaceful attitude which comes from knowing that God, who knows the truth, will make all things right on that day of judgment Whitefield refers to in the letter, above.
I pray that those who have differences will tremble at the thought of grieving the Holy Spirit by attacking a brother or sister in Christ. I pray that disagreements will be tempered by a gracious and peaceful attitude which comes from knowing that God, who knows the truth, will make all things right on that day of judgment Whitefield refers to in the letter, above.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
After they took out seventy-five TONS of garbage, they still had enough items to fill a 10,000 square foot place for a rummage sale. In the house, they found food items under mountains of clothing. They found mold and mouse nests. It was a disaster!
It makes you wonder why someone would hoard like that. She was lonely. Her children were grown and gone, and she had lost a couple of siblings. But she shopped so much and kept so much stuff that she could barely walk through her own home.
Now, I have never been that much of a hoarder, but I must confess that I do like to keep things, just in case. I may need that thingamajig or that thingamabob some day. I look at broken items, trying to figure out if I can re-use them, or fix them. It is often difficult for me to throw things away.
I have thought about it, and I do believe that it is because we lived for many years with a lower-than-most income. I didn't have the funds to replace things, and I learned to be frugal and make do with what I had. I kept clothing, because with 12 children in close succession, there was always someone who would wear that dress or those pants.
As I watched the woman, Sharon, tell her story, tears streamed down my face. She was overwhelmed by the clutter. She had no idea where to begin. Her love of things had eliminated any contact with grandchildren or children - her youngest grandchild had never even set foot in her home.
My clutter-bug isn't that bad. I often have my married children over, and the grandkids are always welcome.
But what I noticed is that I keep too much stuff, and this has weighed me down. I don't want all t hat stuff - I want just enough to be able to accomplish my goal: building relationships with others that will glorify my Heavenly Father and encourage those I love.
Linda started an organization project almost two years ago. We have continued with that project, and the results are amazing. We are nearing the goal of "a place for everything, and everything in its place". I have thrown bag after bag full of stuff out; I have given away boxes and bags full of books and clothing and other items to Goodwill. Around Christmas time I bought myself one of those little labelers, and that has been a great tool for organizing cupboards, office stuff, and so on.
It was good to see that I am not alone in my hoarding; and even better to know that this can be overcome.
Today we threw out 4 bags full of "stuff" from the upstairs. Holey socks, unmatched mitts, broken baseball caps, torn books, and so on. We got rid of piles of stuff!
Oh, the freedom you feel when you don't have stuff cluttering up your life. I'll try to post pictures tomorrow!
Let everything be done decently and in order. Our God is a God of order.
Lord, make me like you!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now "If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.
Fiery trials are to be expected. The thing about a fiery trial is that it hurts. It is hot; very uncomfortable. It burns away and eats up anything in its path. But for the Christian, it is not strange. It is to be expected. If my Lord suffered through many a trial, who do I think I am? The servant is not better than the Master!
What are you going through? Do you consider your fiery trial 'strange'? Have you learned to accept trials from the Hand of your Gracious Father, who does all things well?
If someone is going to reproach you, make sure it is for the name of Christ. Do not be weary in well-doing, and do not be surprised at the antagonism that you will feel from others. It is to be expected. Just make sure that you are being reproached for the right reasons.
Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage is too good to ignore. I am including it in its entirety, but any bold emphasis is mine. (My comments are italicized, in brackets.)
The frequent repetition of counsel and comfort to Christians, considered as sufferers, in every chapter of this epistle, shows that the greatest danger these new converts were in arose from the persecutions to which their embracing Christianity exposed them. The good behaviour of Christians under sufferings is the most difficult part of their duty, but yet necessary both for the honour of Christ and their own comfort; and therefore the apostle, having extorted them in the former part of this chapter to the great duty of mortification, comes here to direct them in the necessary duty of patience under sufferings. An unmortified spirit is very unfit to bear trials.
I. The apostle’s kind manner of address to these poor despised Christians: they were his beloved, #1Pe 4:9.
II. His advice to them, relating to their sufferings, which is,
1. That they should not think them strange, nor be surprised at them, as if some unexpected event befell them; for,
(1.) Though they be sharp and fiery, yet they are designed only to try, not to ruin them, to try their sincerity, strength, patience, and trust in God. On the contrary, they ought rather to rejoice under their sufferings, because theirs may properly be called Christ’s sufferings. They are of the same kind, and for the same cause, that Christ suffered; they make us conformable to him; he suffers in them, and feels in our infirmities; and, if we be partakers of his sufferings, we shall also be made partakers of his glory, and shall meet him with exceeding joy at his great appearing to judge his enemies, and crown his faithful servants, #2Th 1:7, &c.
(We will rejoice in proportion to how much we suffer for the cause of Christ!)
[1.] True Christians love and own the children of God in their lowest and most distressing circumstances. The apostle owns these poor afflicted Christians, and calls them his beloved. True Christians never look more amiable one to another than in their adversities. (We must weep with those who weep, and understand that their sufferings were designed by God; how can we help?)
[2.] There is no reason for Christians to think strange, or to wonder, at the unkindness and persecutions of the world, because they are forewarned of them. Christ himself endured them; and forsaking all, denying ourselves, are the terms upon which Christ accepts of us to be his disciples. (We ought not to be surprised when we suffer!)
[3.] Christians ought not only to be patient, but to rejoice, in their sharpest sorest sufferings for Christ, because they are tokens of divine favour; they promote the gospel and prepare for glory. Those who rejoice in their sufferings for Christ shall eternally triumph and rejoice with him in glory. (When you consider the great missionaries and saints who have gone before us, consider how they suffered. The Lord chastens those He loves.)
(2.) From the fiery trial the apostle descends to a lower degree of persecution—that of the tongue by slander and reproach, #1Pe 4:14. He supposes that this sort of suffering would fall to their lot: they would be reviled, evil-spoken of, and slandered for the name or sake of Christ. In such case he asserts, Happy are you, the reason of which is,
"Because you have the spirit of God with you, to
fortify and comfort you; and the Spirit of God is
also the Spirit of glory, that will carry you through
all, bring you off gloriously, and prepare and seal
you up for eternal glory. This glorious Spirit resteth
upon you, resides with you, dwells in you, supports
you, and is pleased with you; and is not this an
unspeakable privilege? By your patience and fortitude
in suffering, by your dependence upon the promises of
God, and adhering to the word which the Holy Spirit
hath revealed, he is on your part glorified; but by the
contempt and reproaches cast upon you the Spirit
itself is evil-spoken of and blasphemed."
[1.] The best men and the best things usually meet with reproaches in the world. Jesus Christ and his followers, the Spirit of God and the gospel, are all evil-spoken of.
[2.] The happiness of good people not only consists with, but even flows from their afflictions: Happy are you.
[3.] That man who hath the Spirit of God resting upon him cannot be miserable, let his afflictions be ever so great: Happy are you; for the Spirit of God rests upon you.
[4.] The blasphemies and reproaches which evil men cast upon good people are taken by the Spirit of God as cast upon himself: On their part he is evil-spoken of.
[5.] When good people are vilified for the name of Christ his Holy Spirit is glorified in them. (Better to be a vessel in which the Holy Spirit is glorified, than to avoid suffering.)
2. That they should take care they did not suffer justly, as evil- doers, #1Pe 4:15. One would think such a caution as this needless to such an excellent set of Christians as these were. But their enemies charged them with these and other foul crimes: therefore the apostle, when he was settling the rules of the Christian religion, thought these cautions necessary, forbidding every one of them to hurt the life or the estate and property of any one, or to do any sort of evil, or, without call and necessity, to play the bishop in another man’s charge, or busy himself in other men’s matters. To this caution he adds a direction, that if any man suffer for the cause of Christianity, and with a patient Christian spirit, he ought not to account it a shame, but an honour to him; and ought to glorify God who hath thus dignified him, #1Pe 4:16.
(1.) The best of men need to be warned against the worst of sins.
(2.) There is very little comfort in sufferings when we bring them upon ourselves by our own sin and folly. It is not the suffering, but the cause, that makes the martyr.
(3.) We have reason to thank God for the honour if he calls us out to suffer for his truth and gospel, for our adherence to any of the doctrines or duties of Christianity.
3. That their trials were now at hand, and they should stand prepared accordingly, #1Pe 4:17,18.
(1.) He tells them that the time had come when judgment must begin at the house of God. The usual method of Providence has been this: When God brings great calamities and sore judgments upon whole nations, he generally begins with his own people, #Isa 10:12; Jer 25:29; Eze 9:6.
"Such a time of universal calamity is now at hand, which
was foretold by our Saviour, #Mt 24:9,10. This
renders all the foregoing exhortations to patience
necessary for you. And you have two considerations to
[1.] "That these judgments will but begin with you that are
God’s house and family, and will soon be over: your
trials and corrections will not last long."
[2.] "Your troubles will be but light and short, in comparison
of what shall befall the wicked world, your own
countrymen the Jews, and the infidels and idolatrous
people among whom you live: What shall the end be of
those who obey not the gospel of God?"
First, The best of God’s servants, his own household, have so much amiss in them as renders it fit and necessary that God should sometimes correct and punish them with his judgments: Judgment begins at the house of God.
Secondly, Those who are the family of God have their worst things in this life. Their worst condition is tolerable, and will soon be over.
Thirdly, Such persons or societies of men as disobey the gospel of God are not of his church and household, though possibly they may make the loudest pretensions. The apostle distinguishes the disobedient from the house of God.
Fourthly, The sufferings of good people in this life are demonstrations of the unspeakable torments that are coming upon the disobedient and unbelieving: What shall the end be of those that obey not the gospel? Who can express or say how dreadful their end will be?
(2.) He intimates the irremediable doom of the wicked: If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear, #1Pe 4:18. This whole verse is taken from #Pr 11:31, Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; how much more the wicked and the sinner? This the Septuagint translates exactly as the apostle here quotes it.
Hence we may learn,
[1.] The grievous sufferings of good people in this world are sad presages of much heavier judgments coming upon impenitent sinners. But, if we take the salvation here in the highest sense, then we may learn,
[2.] It is as much as the best can do to secure the salvation of their souls; there are so many sufferings, temptations, and difficulties to be overcome, so many sins to be mortified, the gate is so strait and the way so narrow, that it is as much as the righteous can do to be saved. Let the absolute necessity of salvation balance the difficulty of it. Consider, Your difficulties are greatest at first; God offers his grace and help; the contest will not last long; be but faithful to the death, and God will give you the crown of life, #Re 2:10.
(There is no time to be looking at the speck in my brother's eye. I have enough to deal with because of the log in my own eye!)
[3.] The ungodly and the sinner are unquestionably in a state of damnation. Where shall they appear? How will they stand before their Judge? Where can they show their heads? If the righteous scarcely be saved, the wicked must certainly perish.
4. That when called to suffer, according to the will of God, they should look chiefly to the safety of their souls, which are put into hazard by affliction, and cannot be kept secure otherwise than by committing them to God, who will undertake the charge, if we commit them to him in well-doing; for he is their Creator, and has out of mere grace made many kind promises to them of eternal salvation, in which he will show himself faithful and true, #1Pe 4:19.
(1.) All the sufferings that befall good people come upon them according to the will of God.
(2.) It is the duty of Christians, in all their distresses, to look more to the keeping of their souls than to the preserving of their bodies. The soul is of greatest value, and yet in most danger. If suffering from without raise uneasiness, vexation, and other sinful and tormenting passions within, the soul is then the greatest sufferer. If the soul be not well kept, persecution will drive people to apostasy, #Ps 125:3.
(3.) The only way to keep the soul well is to commit it to God, in well-doing. Commit your souls to God by solemn dedication, prayer, and patient perseverance in well-doing, #Ro 2:7.
(4.) Good people, when they are in affliction, have great encouragement to commit their souls to God, because he is their Creator, and faithful in all his promises.
All praise must go to my Heavenly Father, who ordained that we should be studying this particular passage during this week of a fiery trial in my own life. I have no reason to think that I won't be persecuted or reviled because of my desire to live a life pleasing to God. Look what they did to Jesus!
I do commit my soul to God, Who is the Creator of all things, and faithful to every promise He has made. As I examine my heart before Him, I pray that He will reveal to me the dross that must be purged during this trial. I pray He will help me to get that log out of my eye, and to gaze only on Him. Then, as He sees I am ready, I pray He will give me the opportunity to work on the specks in the eyes of those around me...but not until He has purged me of my sin first.
Oh, the blissful thought it is, that someday His glory will be revealed! And in that, we will rejoice!
Monday, March 24, 2008
We were reminded again on Good Friday that Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous! We did not deserve the grace that God has bestowed on us when He imputed the righteousness of Christ to us. In our celebration of Resurrection Sunday, our Pastor brought three witnesses before us: Mary, who had a devoted heart; John, who had an analytical mind; & Thomas, who was skeptical, but was treated with the most amazing kindness and grace.
I have been thinking about these three witnesses. God used three totally different people, with different strengths and weaknesses, to spread the message that Jesus is alive. Each of them ministered by word and deed to fellow believers.
Amy of Amy's Humble Musings recently coined the phrase, "trump verse". If there is a trump verse, she stated, it must be that we are to love God with all our heart, and love our neighbour as ourself.
Knowing that the end of all things is near - a moment away (I am not guaranteed the next breath or the next heartbeat) I am to be self-controlled and sober-minded. Jesus, the resurrected Saviour, and my Lord and Master, could return before my head hits the pillow tonight. I must live in the light of eternity, and choose wisely. How am I spending these precious moments alloted to me? What battles am I engaging in? Who am I encouraging?
Above all, I am to have fervent love for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am to love them earnestly, covering their sins and my own with that love. So that means that if someone sins against me, I am to cover their sin with love. If someone sins against me, I am to cover my own sin (the tendency to respond in anger, lashing out to protect myself) with love. How am I doing when someone falsely accuses me or does me harm? Am I reacting as Jesus did, or am I self-protective?
I am to be hospitable - given to generous and cordial reception of guest, offering a pleasant or sustaining environment to them, without grumbling. How often have I welcomed guests into my home? Have I grumbled about the mess? Have I gone out of my way to make them feel at home?
I am to serve others with the gifts and abilities God has graciously given me. Holding nothing back. Recognizing that everything I have is from God, and that I am to love Him with all of my heart, and to love my neighbour as myself, I must serve. It also means that I am to serve in any capacity, from the lowly washing of a dish to the more exalted teaching of women. No matter what the task at hand, if I am able to do it, I should do it fervently! It is God Who has given me the ability; it is He who has appointed the task. Do I view every chance to serve as an opportunity to glorify God? Do I see that He ordained that I would have the ability to teach that children's story or write that article? Am I in awe of this Beautiful God who uses such broken vessels to accomplish His will?
When I open my mouth, I am to speak oracles of God! Matthew Henry writes, "What Christians in private, or ministers in public, teach and speak must be the pure word and oracles of God. As to the manner of speaking, it must be with the seriousness, reverence, and solemnity, that become those holy and divine oracles." Do I watch what proceeds out of my mouth? Have I examined my words, oral and written, comparing them to the Pure Word of God? Do I edify, or do I destroy? Do I encourage, or do I dishearten?
When I serve, I am to do it with the strength that God supplies. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I can teach that course, solve that disagreement, listen to that child's chatter. No matter how exhausted I am, God is my strength. He is my song. He gives me joy as I serve. But do I depend on Him? Do I work in my own strength, or do I accomplish my tasks with a full acknowledgment that I am only the branch - He is the Vine - and without Him, I can do nothing?
Whatever I do, in word or in deed, do I do it all to the glory of God? For that is the purpose of my existence.
I pray that in all things that I do or say, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Now that I am grown, I see him in a much different light. Pilate was a man who hadn't the guts to stand for what was right. He found no fault in Jesus, but still he had Him whipped. He wanted to let Him go, but when the crowd yelled, "Crucify Him!" and "Release unto us Barabas!" he didn't have the guts to say no. He feared the people. He feared the Romans. He feared his wife's dream. He was a coward, through and through.
I have met men like that in my lifetime. One man refused to stand for what was right when he knew a family was being defamed and denounced unfairly. He feared the repercussions. He refused to take a stand, even though he was torn up about it. He just didn't have the guts.
When I wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, explaining that I believed that corporal punishment, when administered by a loving parent in order to correct a child and train him in "the way he should go", was a legitimate tool, not one person had the guts to write in and stand with me on the issue. They stopped me on the street and quietly commended me, but they would not take a public stand, lest they would offend others. Sounds like Pilate, who was afraid of offending the Jews, and the Romans.
Thankfully, I have met men who are willing to take a stand, to risk their reputation, their job, their position, even their life.
I can name a few. Ezra Levant is one who will not compromise when it comes to speaking (or writing) the truth. He has had his life threatened; he stands to lose financially if the Human Rights Tribunal has its way. But Ezra is a man of principle.
I can write about the anonymous heroes who go into countries to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, even though there is a good possibility they could end up in jail, or worse.
Here at home we have men like Royal Hamel who is willing to "Light the Darkness", writing letters and holding meetings to tell the truth about what is happening in our society.
I have five sons, and seven daughters. It is my desire to teach them to be men and women of principle, willing to take a stand, no matter what the cost. I cannot see the future, but it would not surprise me if some day, my children or grandchildren will be called upon to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. I hope and pray that they will be 'strong and courageous', that they will understand that the Lord their God is with them, wherever they go. I pray that they will stand firm in the face of imminent danger, as so many Christians of long ago have done.
I thank God that my husband has guts. He is not afraid to take a stand. He sets a good example for his sons, and his daughters. And for me.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Later on in the day I found the energy to drag myself to the couch, where I watched "Davy Crockett and the River Pirates" and "The Rescuers" with my children.
I really hate days like this. My "Type-A" Personality makes me want to accomplish something every day, and I don't like to be in a position where I don't get anything crossed off my never-ending, ever-growing list of things to do. However, I do know that God at times chooses to slow me down and give me a reminder that the world will go on without me. Today was one of those days.
I was about to head to bed when my dear Linda told me that she linked to my blog and added a quote from Tertullian. I had to check it out!
Linda's post, Reflecting at Easter-time, blessed my heart. My daughter is a woman after God's own heart. She is creative, gentle, intelligent and articulate. Most of all, she loves the Lord with all of her heart, soul, mind and strength. She is passionate about justice and gets angry with fools, and on top of that she has the greatest sense of humour! She is the family's "official jester", as appointed by her oldest sister.
So, I don't have anything to say tonight, except this: I am blessed. Go read Linda's post to see why.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I have not experienced any overt hostility to homeschooling in my nearly 25 years of teaching my own children here in Canada. Most of the time, when people discover I homeschool, there is grudging admiration, with the typical questions. "Don't they have to be tested?" "Who checks up on you to make sure you're doing an adequate job?" "Is it legal?" - that one is not as popular as it once was, back in the day that I had to phone the Ministry of Education in Toronto to find out if indeed, homeschooling was legal.
I read an interesting short article today by Albert Mohler:
Overt Hostility to HomeschoolingThen I read the article in the Los Angeles Times:
Parents in California have been on a rollercoaster of sorts in the wake of a state appeals court ruling that parents in that state have "no constitutional right" to homeschool their own children.
The decision is a direct threat to the rights of all California parents--and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state's school superintendent pledged to find ways to protect homeschooling families. At the same time, an overt hostility to homeschooling has been unleashed, starting with a pair of retired professors who, in an op-ed published in The Los Angeles Times, called homeschooling parents "elitist" and "illiberal."
They wrote with venom and condescension about evangelical Christian parents who do not want their children indoctrinated with evolutionary theory and support for abortion rights.
Well, at least now we know who the real elitists are--and what their real agenda is. The threat in California is not just to the rights of homeschoolers, but of all parents. This decision must be overturned or remedied--and fast.
Regulating home schoolers
A court ruling is right to examine the seemingly elitist and illiberal practice.By Walter P. Coombs and Ralph E. Shaffer
March 13, 2008A California appellate court has struck terror in the ranks of home schooling advocates by ruling that their children can't be taught at home without at least some oversight. Public education foes see this as an all-out attack on the concept of home schooling. That is not the case. And members of The Times editorial board didn't get it right either.
In the decision in question, the parents did not meet even the meager requirements for home schooling that California has established. While enrollment in a public school is required by state law, the Education Code permits an exception for those attending private schools or those taught at home by a credentialed teacher.
Though the parents had technically enrolled their eight children in an existing private school, the court found that the children were not attending it. In fact, they were schooled at home by parents not qualified to teach the kids in subjects appropriate to their age and grade level.
The decision has caused anguish among families who fear that they may now be required to demonstrate that home schooling is an adequate replacement for their children's attendance at a public institution. The court's decision means that home schoolers must be given some substantive instruction in social studies and not simply spend their time watching Fox with its strange assortment of oddballs pontificating on current events.
It's time Californians realized that there are few regulations regarding home schooling and virtually no safeguards to make certain that subjects appropriate to the age group are taught. On the other hand, there is a formidable cottage industry run by conservative evangelicals that provides "suitable" materials for home schoolers. For-profit charter schools specializing in "home schooling" -- and collecting your tax dollars while doing it -- have not only cast a cloud over the concept of home schooling but have rankled teachers who see the state's limited education dollars being diverted from traditional schools.
If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids, their offspring are getting an extremely warped lesson in civics. Typical of the shrill screed now running on the Internet are these comments: "This [ruling] is a good example of bureaucratic tyranny! Kiss liberty good-bye, people." Another wrote: "Perhaps the judge could be impeached for incompetence. Else Christian families need to flee California." And: "This is another example of how socialist mentality destroys our God-given rights as parents."
It's evident that the vast majority who teach their offspring in front of the television do so because they don't want their children to be subjected to such dangerous doctrines as evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights and other ideas abhorrent to the evangelical mantra. Weighing in on the side of home schoolers and their fundamentalist spokesman, James Dobson of Focus on the Family, is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that self-proclaimed expert on education whose latest action has been to recommend steep cuts for K-12 schools. The governor denounced the ruling as outrageous and vowed to overturn it. He must believe that the state's policy of providing no control over home schooling is just fine.
The Times editorial board misunderstood the ruling too. To start, we find no place in the ruling where the court "noted that the state Education Code appears to express distaste for home schooling." Then, the editorial goes on to say, "Private school teachers do not need a credential to instruct a class of 20 or 30 students. Why should parents need one to teach a few children at home?" That's a good question. But the court offered an equally good answer: In an earlier case, the court held that it is "unreasonably difficult and expensive for a state to supervise parents who instruct children in their homes" but that oversight of teachers in organized private schools is less difficult and expensive. Furthermore, the court noted that teachers in private schools would be supervised by the people who run the schools, and those administrators would want to make sure that their instructors were competent so that their private schools would qualify under the state Education Code.
The board also claims that the courts "tossed out" the option of public and private school independent study programs to help home schoolers. Not so! What the court said was that the Education Code provides for independent study through a school district or a county office of education, but the purpose is to provide students with educational opportunities during travel or in subjects not offered in the school curriculum. The court said this clause clearly did not apply to a mother's home schooling of her kids.
The Times' editorial refers to the wonderful accomplishments of home schooling: "There are rare cases of parents who use home schooling to hide abuse or neglect. Far more common are the stories of responsible parents providing a good education." One anecdotal case of a home schooled teen writing a bestselling novel is cited, with the implication that such a remarkable achievement could not possibly have been attained because of the demanding homework assignments given by our public schools. Sounds like the board believes our traditional schools are overworking the kids -- which is not what most critics say. Isn't a major argument for home schooling based on the belief that the public schools aren't demanding enough?
Finally, in its call for the Legislature to enact laws providing for home schooling, apparently without credentialed teachers, the editorial wants "reasonable regulations," citing as examples required lesson plans or a student portfolio of work. Those regulations might be acceptable to some of the learn-at-home parents, but the Internet will be full of angry letters from home schoolers saying all that bureaucratic regulation is what they wanted to escape by teaching their children at home.
There has always been something decidedly elitist and anti-democratic in home schooling. It smacks of a belief that privileged children should not have to associate with the other kids in the neighborhood and that by staying home, they would not be subjected to the leavening effect of democracy.
Moreover, it is apparent from the cries of the far right that there has been a specific policy in home schooling -- to teach only the ideas acceptable to ideologues who fear the contaminating influence of what is commonly known as a liberal education.
Walter P. Coombs and Ralph E. Shaffer are professors emeriti at Cal Poly Pomona.
I was incensed when I finished reading the above, so I began to go through the TWENTY PAGES of comments. After only a few minutes it became apparent that homeschoolers are, for the most part, articulate and well-educated. They are able to soundly refute the arguments made by the "professors emeriti" and they make a good case for homeschooling children.
The comments will only be available for two weeks, so I will copy a few of my favourites here.
~Coombs and Shaffer have made it very clear that to them a good education is one in which students are indoctrinated with their liberal values.The authors' desire is a totalitarian state in which every child is force-fed liberal dogma and our freedom of speech is circumvented by labeling conservative ideas "hate speech." The fact that they consider abortion an inalienable right is proof that what they really want is not to educate our children but to euthanize them.
~As a teacher & mom, I teach my students to "check the facts" & "consider the source." Seems these professors need to either become one of my middle school students or my own child, because they did none of those things. I would suggest these professors educate themselves on both the history of public education, and the realities of homeschooling today. Every day I read about the horrors in the schools--molestation by administrators & coaches, school violence, low test scores, budget cuts, & more--perhaps we need to focus on fixing the educational system for those who cannot homeschool and leave those high performing self educators alone.
~Last time I checked, mandatory state funded public schooling could easily fit into the term, "anti-democratic." Just because the education that home schoolers receive is not "state-approved," does not make it elitist. Everyone is welcome to home school, so what's so elitist about that? The authors are clearly threatened by homeschooling and their arguments do not hold water and are extremely biased. Yikes...
~Many parents who home school have told me that they pulled their children from public schools because the children came home with stacks of papers and did not understand what they were to be doing. The parents wound up doing all the teaching and finally decided that if they were going to do the teaching anyway, they might as well have the time to do it right! They have also said that much of the work in public schools is busy work and does not help the children learn a thing.
~The internal logic of the ruling is this: 1. The protection of rights by a government-of-the-people requires that people to have knowledge. 2. The people are incapable of providing this knowlege to their children, without the oversight of a Nanny State. 3. Therefore, the Government must violate the rights of the people, forcing them to educate the State's children as the Nanny State pleases, in order to .... secure a protection of rights. Plato, Stalin, and Hitler would have been pleased. Hitler, too, outlawed homeschooling on the same basis in 1938. The law remains to this day.
~America began its first 200 years without public education. The Bill of Rights guarantees families the right to inculcate Christian religion -something that the "liberal educators" deplore. To say that "there has always been something decidedly elitist and anti-democratic in home schooling" betrays a totalatarian mindset akin the those within communist regimes which brainwash children into statist thinking. These "liberal educators" hate Christianity. Far from privileged, any parent can choose to homeschool. Most all of the "privleged" homeschool families I have known were middle income or less.
~I would recommend that they study Western traditions of liberalism and democracy before publishing an article on the subject. Liberalism in the western tradition generally infers that the individual has a right to abstain from social programs. Social good is second to insuring the rights of the individual, as Thomas Mann would say.
~How little the authors know about home schooling. We began home schooling when found our son wasn't being challenged. He is now in 5th grade, doing geometry, Latin, logic, and very advanced in reading. My 7 year old is reading at an 8th grade level. My 6 year old is in 2nd grade math. There is very little time for TV in our house. What a waste of time!!! Contrary to what the authors think, on average home schooled kids test above the 80th percentile in standardized tests. What I want to know is why we are so undersupported by educators and intellectuals when we are the ones having the highest rates of success.
~Weren't the two fine young men who went on a murderous rampage at Columbine High School a product of the public school system. Wasn't their defense that they were picked on in (public) school. I guess the "socialization" they received in school wasn't that great after all. I have to wonder how they would have turned out if they had been homeschooled.
~Last thought: is it any surprise that the people who feel most threatened by homeschooling are the unions and teachers who spent years getting degrees which may not be so necessary if homeschooling continues to grow in popularity? It couldn't be THAT. They must be concerned about the children.
~Nice op-ed. Can be summed up thus: "Free markets, bad. Statism, good." That these knuckleheads are professors is exhibit A in the "value" of 20th century formal education. When government education becomes better than what one can obtain for free via the internet or from your public library, then we can have the debate on the merits of government education.
~Homeschooling is neither elitist nor undemocratic. While it's easier to visit a few radical websites and draw hasty conclusions than to research an issue thoroughly and thoughtfully, I recommend that the authors read the U.S. Department of Education's study, "Homeschooling in the United States: 1999." Homeschooling parents are somewhat more likely to be white and to have a college or graduate degree than mainstream parents, but financially they are very similar to mainstream parents (some are poor, some are wealthy, most are middle-class). Less than half homeschool for religious reasons.
~The freedom for me to NOT be in a program or with oversight is very important to me. I don't want legislation, testing, or parental requirements. Before compulsory schooling, kids grew up to become statesmen, inventors, thinkers, discoverers, & leaders. How did they do that without compulsory schooling, testing, and oversight? Ever had your child bring out a book and have the neighbor "schooled" kid loudly complain, "Oh, no, not books!I It's the weekend"? My homeschooled child can be away from that attitude that permeates the schools. Please don't just meet a few homeschoolers and then form your opinion. Get a bigger sample size.
So, there you go. I feel better. NO need for me to post further...they said it all!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
The music in the movie was superb. The storyline was good, the acting was great. I especially watched the hero's expression on his face as he interacted with the music, first in his head, and then with the guitar, the piano, and the organ. He personified JOY!
I have always been touched by music. I love to sing, and I pay attention to the sounds around me, especially the sounds of nature: thunder crashing, waves hitting the shore, birds singing, dogs barking, etc.
One of my favourite memories is of my father, on Sunday mornings, playing the "Sound of Music" record full blast in order to wake us up. Nothing like waking up to the sound of the birds chirping , the music swelling, and then the voice: "The hills are alive, with the sound of music..."
I am thankful that God has blessed our family with musical ability. Some of the children play piano, and I love to hear them practice. Matt has played the drums since he was young, and Linda is following in his path with a bodhran. Not sure how to spell that, but it's an Irish hand-held drum. Most of the kids can harmonize, like their father, which is a real gift.
When I was a child, our family often sang for hours while travelling. Dad would whistle and Mom would sing, and Nancy and I would sing along with Mom. It passed the time and made the trip much more enjoyable.
August Rush celebrates music and love and family. It's the best music movie I have seen, since Mr. Holland's Opus.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Surprisingly, I didn't act on my feminist views. I got married at the ripe old age of 18, and worked until my first child was born. I was blown away by how much I loved this little blonde beauty, with her sparkling blue eyes and tinkling laughter. Being a mom was great! It banished all thoughts of career or self-advancement. I was content to be the centre of Adeena's world.
Although I worked outside the home for a short time when Adeena was two, I soon conceived baby #2. It was during that pregnancy that God turned my world upside down, by calling me unto Himself and revealing to me Who He IS. Suddenly, being a mommy was a calling. It became my role and my blessing, as well as my joy.
My first baby will be 33 later this year. I went on to have 12 beautiful children, each one unique, each one precious.
My child-bearing years are over, and I have to say that I have no regrets.
I graduated at the top of my class in a prestigious boarding school. I was accepted into a major university. The world was my oyster, so to speak.
Yet instead of pursuing a medical degree, I settled down to bear children and guide my house. I carried them, birthed them, nursed them, trained them and taught them. Most important, I loved them.
I also, through it all, loved my husband. My early feminist views were a source of strife in our marriage in the early years. I expected my husband to help me with chores or dishes or laundry when I was overwhelmed with exhaustion during some of those pregnancies. I became resentful and angry when he didn't do what I expected him to do.
I also considered myself far more spiritual than he was. I didn't respect him as I should have. I thought highly of my own abilities, and figured "I could do anything better than he..."
I have feminism to thank for a lot of strife in those early years.
However, I have to say that God is a gracious God. He slowly and patiently taught me what it is to be a godly woman. I learned, along with that, to be a godly wife and mother. Through many toils and snares and trials and dangers, He led me and taught me His way.
I learned that the demands of feminism are foolish. There is no joy in wanting to control the world. Corporate boardrooms are full of strife and competition, stress and long hours. Why would I want that?
My home has been my castle for nearly 35 years. I have been the Queen, serving alongside the King of our little realm. I get to decide my schedule. I manage a group of other people. I encourage them to learn and to use their talents to glorify God. I am mother, nursemaid, decorator, cook, laundress, confidante, counsellor, gardener, assistant carpenter, teacher, seamstress, and so on. The list truly is endless. I have been able to develop my talents and pour my life into those people that I love the most in this world. How could I have been more blessed?
Phyllis Schlafly recently gave a talk at DePaul University in Illinois. The homemaker-turned-attorney raised six children and didn't get her law degree until after the age of fifty. At eighty, she is still growing strong. She believes that women should be given every opportunity to achieve success; she also believes that feminism is incompatible with happiness.
Read an article in the Chicago Daily Observer here: http://cdobs.com/archive/our-columns/phyllis-schlafly-was-right855/
My life isn't over at 53. I have plenty of years left before I reach the age that Phyllis Schlafly is. At this point, I am content to be a helper to my husband and a mother to my children. Some day, perhaps doors will open in other areas - missions, writing, publishing...who knows? Until then, I consider myself most blessed.
Most blessed, and very happy.
Friday, March 14, 2008
these children are homeschooled, so they have no idea of what real life is all about.My emotions ran the gamut as I read the file. I was angry with the false accusations, which came when I was in the hospital, awaiting the birth of my 12th child by emergency C-section due to placenta previa. I was proud of my dear husband, who handled court documents, affidavits, appointments with the doctor, and so on, while his wife was in the hospital. He was accused by someone of being lazy, when he spent hours and hours working at his own business to provide for our large family. I was thankful for the many letters of support from those who really knew us - our married daughter, dear friends, two of whom were nurses, a former counsellor of ours, and so on. I was amazed at the Provision of the Lord, Who sent just the right people at just the right time, in order to protect our family.
We won our court case. The judge basically said that we as parents were different from most parents, in that we homeschooled, etc., but that we had the right to be different, and, significantly, we had the right to refuse to allow the CAS to interview our children. The case was dismissed.
When I think back to those trying times, I remember how afraid I was. I feared that the CAS would continue to harass us, and that they would, indeed, interview our children. I feared that the children would be upset by such an interview, because they would feel uncomfortable. Fears abounded... but I remembered: whoso puts his trust in the Lord shall be kept safe.
Rick read to us this passage yesterday:
1 Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. I pondered this. The passage is about being submissive and respectful to your husband, having a gentle and quiet spirit. Why does it mention not fearing anything that is frightening?
I thought about Sarah. She had a lot to be frightened about. Picture her husband walking in the door, saying, "Honey, we are moving. Get packing!"
"Where are we going to?", she would have responded.
"I am not sure," he would have said.
"Why do we have to move? I like it here! I don't want to go. All of my friends are here!"
"Because God told me to. "
I can imagine Sarah being stuck by fear. Yet the Word of God says that she had a hidden adornment of the heart, for she submitted to Abraham, calling him Lord, because she hoped in God.
Sarah knew that the road ahead was a dangerous one. She trusted God to lead her husband. She knew when they went down to Egypt and Abraham asked her to lie (or at least stretch the truth) and say she was his sister, that she could end up with her purity violated. She was stuck in a harem - not exactly a safe place for a beautiful woman. She did not fear, however. She chose to hope in God, and submit to her husband.
What was the result? Abraham loved her. The king saw them sporting, and just knew they were husband and wife. Abraham loved Sarah's gentle and quiet spirit, because she respected her husband, and trusted God to take care of the details.
I think back to 1999, and I see that my husband was definitely the leader and protector of his family during that trial. I was stuck in the hospital. There was little I could do, but pray. My husband fulfilled his God-given role, and took care of all the details.
And God blessed.
I am so thankful for Rick - for his leadership abilities, for his quiet, steady ways, for his sometimes abrupt manner, which does good when you are dealing with bureaucrats! I know that God showed me that my dear husband is very capable, that he is able to see through the garbage to the main points, and that he does not get caught up in emotions when there is a job to do. He's a man! Just what I need.
And I do not fear.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Unless you have lived with excruciatingly slow dial-up, you won't understand my joy. But the greatest part of all of this is that I haven't spent one second playing Freecell, or Spider Solitaire, or Solitaire.
My pattern used to be this: click on an email. Wait. Wait. Sigh. Wait. Sigh again....click on Freecell. Wait. Finally, Freecell pops up. Click on New Game. Wait. Start the game. Email finally pops up. Go read the email. Respond. Hit Send. Wait. Wait. Go back to Freecell. Play some more of the game, waiting. Then the email would finally go. Hit delete. Wait...wait...wait... Finish Freecell. Open the next email. Wait. Wait. Start Spider....
You get the picture. A lot of time was wasted in simply waiting for things to open.
So, now that I have high-speed, I can open emails quickly, respond in a jiffy, and delete in a snap. NO wasting time with games that bore me. On to bigger and better things!
I know it's a little thing. But for me, today, it brings a bit of joy.
Now I am off to delete old emails. Maybe I can watch a video or two tomorrow, once Rick hooks up my new speakers. Ahhh, heaven!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Apparently I never voiced my desire before today. I don't remember not saying out loud that I wanted someone to make the shelves wider...but I guess I didn't say it. I THOUGHT about it, a lot. So it was wonderful that Daniel saw what I meant as soon as I expressed my desire, and he went right to work, making those shelves just a bit wider, and a whole lot better.
Not only that, but last week he made a huge floor-to-ceiling shelf unit for all of the family videos and dvds.
So I am (really!) on the home stretch of organizing the great room where we do our learning together. It has literally been months since I began this project, but we are getting there. I have a huge stack of boxes that I need to sort through, but they, for the most part, have already been partially organized.
Once that all gets done, I will have all of our books and papers in order. I already have the books I am using to teach the kids on a specific shelf; they have their own books and notebooks and binders in their own boxes, too. I have all of our books in categories on overstuffed shelves, and I plan to weed those out, culling the books that are in really bad shape, or the ones that have too much garbage in them to make them valuable to our family.
My friend Isobel once told me that she had a dream about me. In the dream, I had moved into my new home, and was giving Isobel the tour. Every room was filled with shelves. There were shelves in the closets, shelves in plain view, shelves behind huge doors, shelves in the basement. Isobel was so excited for me, because she knows I LOVE shelves.
I do. But what I really love is books...and good, sturdy bookshelves are necessary for any bibliophile!
So, today, I am thankful for Daniel, the master builder of bookshelves! Thank you, son!
(Now, how'd you like to build some shelves in the basement, for storage? Hmmmmm.)
Sunday, March 09, 2008
Anonymous wrote, "How one woman blessed with such a large family can be such a hate monger is beyond me. Jesus never said a word about Gays. And the Bible is just words written by men who hated homosexuals just like you do. The blood of all children who come from gay families is on your hands. These children are bullied, harassed and are more likely to commit suicide than there straight counter parts. This is all your fault..read your bible..God is about love for all his children. Who the h*** do you think you are to say other wise."
Anonymous, I am confused about the accusation that I am hate-mongering. It's also amazing to me that you have jumped from my post that asks Christians to have courage and tell the truth to assuming I am guilty of causing children from homosexual families to commit suicide.
What I wrote was: "And that is why the following article is so timely. We must take courage and stand against this darkness. We must be bold enough to tell our children what the Word of God says about homosexuality and the beautiful plan God has for marriage between one man and one woman.
If we don't say something now, when we are still somewhat free to do so, our children won't be able to even teach these truths in the privacy of their own homes."
My point is that we Christians must be bold enough to stand for what we believe in. The Bible you decry by saying it is just words written by men who hated homosexuals (and then, surprisingly, you demand I should read) is very clear that homosexuality is against God's design. Read Romans, Chapter 1, verses 24 - 27. God speaks about men dishonouring their bodies among themselves, and He calls their acts "shameless". That implies that they ought to be ashamed.
I do not hate homosexuals. I have known some who have chosen this unfortunate path, and I have treated them with the same respect that I use in interactions with anyone. But I will continue to tell them that their choice to practice unseemly acts is sinful, and that they ought to repent.
Would you consider me a hate-monger if I were to tell my child that he ought not to lie about stealing a brownie? Telling the truth is important, and if my child were lying, I would correct him. I would not minimize it so he could feel better about his sinful act.
Homosexuality is sin, plain and simple. So is lying, stealing, murder, covetousness, dishonouring one's parents, and so on. People sin.
And that is why in a couple of weeks we will be remembering that God had to send His Son, His only son, the sinless Christ, to take our punishment upon Himself and die in our place. We who deserved to die were spared, and He who never sinned, not even once, was brutalized and hung, nailed to a cross, in order to redeem us.
This Christ offers salvation to all who will believe. And if you read the Bible, you will find that fornicators and liars and thieves and swindlers and yes, even homosexuals were redeemed from darkness and brought to light by the wonderful mercy and grace of God.
I do not hate. I love. I love God and my neighbour. And I love my neighbour enough to tell him the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts. But it is still the truth.
Imagine a person plunging a knife into the belly of a man. Blood pours out. Pain follows. Now imagine that the person with the knife is a surgeon, and the belly of the man who is bleeding has a cancerous tumour inside. The knife is meant to do the work of saving the man's life.
The truth of the darkness of homosexuality might hurt a person who is trapped in that lifestyle. But that truth is the only thing that gives life. With that truth, he can repent, turn to Christ, and be saved. I would be hateful if I didn't tell the truth.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
My friend Royal Hamel has been called of God to be a watchman, exhorting pastors and churches to be salt and light in this generation. His ministry, Light the Darkness, can be found here: http://lightthedarkness.org/about.shtml
Royal graciously gave me permission to reprint the following article. The time has come to speak up, people. We can't continue to say nothing when we hear or read that our culture sanctions gay marriage, and that there is no problem with books like "Heather has Two Mommies". The recent controversy in California is shocking. Governor Schwartzenegger has agreed to legislation that bans the use of "mom and dad" in books in their public school system. It's discriminatory, they claim.
Huh? What about the discrimination against those increasingly rare families made up of a mom, a dad, and their children? Don't they count?
And that is why the following article is so timely. We must take courage and stand against this darkness. We must be bold enough to tell our children what the Word of God says about homosexuality and the beautiful plan God has for marriage between one man and one woman.
If we don't say something now, when we are still somewhat free to do so, our children won't be able to even teach these truths in the privacy of their own homes.
THE TIME HAS COME TO SPEAK UP
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Persecution of Christians by the state has arrived in Canada. I speak of the recent spate of attacks by the Human Rights Commissions against Pastor Stephen Boisson, Rev. Alphonse de Valk of Catholic Insight Magazine and Ron Gray, President of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada. Those attacks are directly linked to militant homosexual demands that Christians keep their mouths shut about scriptural teaching on homosexuality. Let no one be in doubt here; although three specific Christian leaders have been targeted, the real object of the attack is the entire Christian population of Canada.
But can we legitimately say that Christians are being persecuted? Well, nobody has been killed for being faithful to Christian teaching. But people have lost jobs, have been forced to spend thousands of dollars in defending themselves, have been fined large amounts of money, and some businesses have been closed. And all of this through a quasi law system instituted by our government. In this system there is no presumption of innocence, the accused must pay for their own defense while accusers are granted court paid lawyers, and even establishing the truth of one’s commentary is no acceptable defense to the accused. Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary recently stated, "I really feel that we are into a crisis situation here where we are experiencing a trumping of religious freedom."
So where does that leave us? Well it seems that we have now arrived at the moment when devout followers of Christ are called to walk the more difficult road. For Christians do not have a choice in this matter. 2000 years ago faithful believers were put to death for refusing to burn incense to Caesar while calling him “Lord.” Faithful Christians today, while loving those trapped in the practise of an ancient wrong, have no authorization from scripture to bless what God has not blessed regardless of the dictates of the state.
Human Rights Commissions have recently been criticized by many editorialists and columnists because high profile journalists like Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn have been cited for hate by certain Islamic leaders in Canada. But there has been no media storm protesting the attack on free speech of Christians who have been hauled before these tribunals. It’s a pity. Shouldn’t the media be concerned for justice for all?
Is there any relief forthcoming by politicians who will courageously speak on behalf of believers? Don’t bet on it! A powerful lobby group has convinced the public, including politicians, that all opposition to homosexuality is due to hate. Governmental leaders, almost to a man, are thoroughly intimidated. And they will not speak a word in defense of Christians who have manifested far more courage than they have.
What then can be done in the present situation? Is it possible to slow down the course toward even more draconian forms of persecution? Yes!
But it calls for initiative from Christian leaders. Recently a key evangelical leader wrote a letter to the National Post protesting the abolition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Ontario legislature. If evangelicals can go public on prayer in the legislature, then surely they can go public on the much more serious matter of the growing persecution. To be fair, there has been some speaking by some leaders, but the defense must be pursued with much greater energy and vigor. The various heads of Christian denominations could issue press releases defending the right of individual believers to speak the whole truth found in scripture. Presidents of evangelical colleges and seminaries could speak up by assigning some professors to write articles in local newspapers. Since 40 percent plus of our population is Catholic it is also incumbent on courageous Catholic archbishops and bishops to speak on behalf of their constituency who are undergoing persecution as well. Some have certainly spoken; many more need to find their voice.
I suspect that most Christian leaders may be taking a cautious, low profile approach, praying that the situation may get better. They may think it wiser to try and woo those who oppose the gospel rather than graciously contending with them. Truth is, that hostile opponents of biblical truth have assumed much power; they are not going to go away quietly. Like Esther, God may have raised Canada’s Christian leaders to prominence for just such a time as this. Esther spoke up. She used her voice in defense of her people. Who knows what may happen if our Christian leaders do the same?
A version of this article was published in the March, 2008 edition of The Interim, Canada's pro-life, pro-family newspaper
Royal Hamel is a freelance journalist and director of Light the Darkness Ministries. He served for 22 years as pastor and cross-cultural worker with the Christian and Missionary Alliance of Canada.
Friday, March 07, 2008
On March 4, 2008 at approximately 4:45 pm Huron OPP officers were advised that a 2007 Chevrolet pickup truck that had been left running in front of a business in Exeter had just been stolen. Officers were also advised that the vehicle was equipped with "OnStar". With assistance from OnStar, it was determined that the vehicle was in Mitchell and traveling south. Officers located the suspect in the stolen vehicle but the driver refused to stop for police and fled. Officers followed until called off due to concerns for public safety. While continuing to work with OnStar, it was determined that the vehicle was stopped in Huron East on a side road. Officers arrived on scene within minutes, but the suspect had fled on foot. At that time the suspect was able to evade officers including the canine unit.
At approximately on
Well, there you go...it really happened! I thank God that no one was injured in the event.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
Yesterday our old dog, Fatty, began having seizures. He was lying on the floor, stretched out, neck extended, and his legs were "running". About two minutes later, he stopped seizing. He began to look about, but was obviously disoriented and very upset. He wanted to be comforted, and he pressed himself against his people, I think just to know he wasn't alone.
He had another couple of seizures this morning. I called the vet and made arrangements to get him put to sleep. After all, he's an old dog, and any kind of investigation would be very costly. It doesn't make much sense to invest hundreds of dollars into the old guy, especially with an engine to pay for.
Rick, too, was feeling rather poorly yesterday. He just felt "blah", he said. He looked gray. Couldn't eat. Felt an odd feeling in his chest. I finally asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital, and he agreed.
The doc, after running tests, said that his heart was fine. However, his blood sugar is highish...enough to be a concern. "Go see your family doctor," he urged.
So, this morning I made two appointments. One for Fatty to be put down at the vet; the other for Rick to get his blood sugar re-tested.
All the kids were upset. Tiana was tearful about the dog. "Maybe he'll be alright," she hoped. But I told her that Fatty would likely not get better. She said, "Poor Fatty and Poor Daddy...both of them have to go and get put down."
"What?!!?" I asked her, shocked that she would say that.
"I'm just kidding," she said. She had a lopsided grin on her face. I was thankful that my little girl could find some humour on a very trying day.
Rick went to bed and slept the morning away. The kids went off to piano lessons. When they got home, they went outside to play for a while, then Tiana came to the door. "Mom! Fatty's fine! He's playing! I don't think we have to take him for his appointment."
I looked at our old dog in disbelief. He was running with the other dogs and the children, jumping through the snow, tail wagging. He seemed to have most of his balance back, although we can see a little imbalance once in a while.
So I phoned the vet and cancelled. I woke Rick up and took him to the doctor. More bloodtests were done, and we go back for the results next week.
I don't know what the future holds. Fatty could die tonight. Rick could end up with diabetes. We just do not know what lies ahead.
But as I chatted with my 11 year old daughter, I realized that it's all okay. God has a plan for all these trials. Tiana told me that she prayed last night for Fatty and for Daddy. She told me that she believed that God heard and answered her prayers. She also said that she knows that God could still say no... that Fatty could get sick and die; or that Daddy could get sick, too. But she also knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is good, and that He would never allow anything to happen that wasn't in His plan.
What a blessing it is for me to know that God has heard MY prayers. My children are growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord. They have gone through many trials this past few months, but have not reacted in bitterness or anger or resentment. They have grown in faith.
And for that, I praise and glorify our Beautiful God.
'As Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass-- one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know." It is true that we do not know all the truth about the future, but we do know the truth. It is the truth that abides within us, the truth that sanctifies us, the truth that makes us free, the truth that ensures our future. And although we don't know the future, we know the One who sovereignly holds the future.' ~ Burk Parsons
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
About two hours went by. We could see the lights flashing across the field as the policemen tried to trap the thief. Finally, another cop came to the door to tell us that they have not yet caught the guy.
Our vehicles are locked, our doors are locked, and we are heading to bed soon. It is a bit unsettling, because we have a garage, a barn, and a woodshed that he could hide in. The cop said to let them know if someone comes knocking on the door to get help.
We are experiencing a winter storm on top of it all. High winds, lots of snow.
So, I am praying that the guy will turn himself in or get caught. I am not too happy about the fact that he is in our area. However, I am glad that our dogs would raise the alarm if someone came to our door.
We are safe at any rate, because God is in control! Nothing will happen to us if it is not in His will.
Isn't it good to know that? Heather commented today that she really isn't afraid when she is in dangerous situation, because she knows for sure that the Lord has numbered her days. She will not die one second before it is her time to die. This gives her courage in the face of danger.
It reminds me of Gladys Aylward, missionary to China. Gladys was a little bit of a woman, not really suited to missionary life. But that didn't stop her! She travelled half-way around the world because she knew that God had called her to China.
After quite some time, she impressed the Mandarin, who commissioned her to be the foot inspector. This allowed her to go inside homes and converse with women as she checked to see if they were following the law, which banned the ancient practice of foot-wrapping.
Her relationship with the Mandarin grew, and she began to tell Him about Jesus. She told him how Jesus would protect her.
Then came the day that the men in the prison rioted. The Mandarin summoned Gladys. "You go into the prison and find out what's wrong."
"Me?" Gladys stammered.
"Why me?" she asked.
"Because you have told me that your God will protect you."
Gladys realized that this was where the rubber met the road. If she really believed that God was in control of all things, including the days of her life, then she would walk into that prison full of rioting criminals.
And so she did.
Because of her bravery in marching right in there and telling the men to stop, she found out that the men had nothing to do. She organized work for them, procuring looms so they could weave cloth and sell it. She made sure they had proper food and clothing. She made a difference in their lives.
I don't know if I will ever be called upon to stand up in a dangerous situation for my faith. I do pray that if the time comes, I will be able to testify that God is true, and that He is able to protect me.
And so He is.